Wednesday, February 26, 2020

High Engagement Posts

If you could have coffee with one person from the Bible, other than Jesus, who would you choose and why?

It's time for more posts that will encourage engagement on your social media! The coffee post generated some interesting comments when I used it.

What name did your parents almost call you?

There is disagreement among church communicators about the appropriateness and effectiveness of these kinds of posts. 

Name the one thing you don't like on your pizza.


I think that using them sparingly in the spirit of fun and getting to know each other better is a good thing. 

When did Jesus first become real to you?


The bottom line, though, is that consistently posting meaningful, thought-provoking messages will create meaningful engagement.

What is the best breed of dog? Why?


Has your church used these kinds of posts? If so, what were the questions and how were they received?

If you missed my earlier posts on engagement, check them out here:

Engaging Posts

More Engaging Post Graphics

Save these on Pinterest for future use.





Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20

Crucified With Christ

Galatians 2:20 has some strange language. How can we be crucified with Jesus? Wasn't he crucified over 2000 years ago? And if we were crucified, or killed, and no longer live, how can Jesus live in us? 

The Bible is full of symbolisms and this passage is one of them. Obviously, we don't die just because we become Christians, but the death grip that our sins have had on us DOES. Jesus died to wipe our slates clean so that we might spend eternity in Heaven. 

Born Again

No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. John 3:5
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, it's like being born again. Jesus talked about being born again in John 3:3-7. He explained that the Holy Spirit "gives birth to spiritual life". We step out of our old lives and start anew. Our old selves, with the baggage we've been dragging along behind us, are over. Done. Kablooey. It's our chance to start over and live the way God wants us to.

Fill Up With Jesus

How can you be sure you are leading a life that God intends for you? By nurturing your spiritual life. Read the Bible, participate in church activities, pray to Jesus. Examine your old life to find the triggers that lead to sinning and develop strategies to avoid them in the future. 

Most importantly, don't beat yourself up if you fall short of your expectations. We are all imperfect. We all have temptations. We all sin. We all have our ups and downs. 

Jesus Is Our Everything

The best part about being a Christian is that we have Jesus. When we are weak, He is our strength. When we lose our way, He is our compass. When we are sad or scared or worried, He is our comfort.

All we have to do is turn to Him and ask. He's right there, waiting for an invitation.



Pin this to read later!


I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20

No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Look at the Heart

The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7


First Impressions

I live in an agricultural area, so it’s not unusual to see people - men, in particular - driving a beat-up old truck, wearing old work clothes and sporting dirt under their fingernails. By looking at them, you’d assume they don’t have two dimes to rub together; but you’d be surprised because many of them have more money in the bank than most of us. And they’re not just rich in money. They are some of the most compassionate and giving people I’ve ever met.

Conversely, when I was in high school, I was in the same English class as the most aloof girl in the school. Her father was the president of a large, prestigious university and the whole family was practically royalty in our little town. Everyone wanted to be her friend, but she didn’t seem to have time for them. And why should she? She was used to meeting the smartest researchers, Olympic-caliber athletes, famous speakers, influential politicians… people the lowly high school kids only dreamed of meeting.

For some reason, she took a liking to me and we became friends. I found out that she was actually a very sweet person. She wasn’t aloof, she was almost painfully shy. But, once she got to know you, she was witty and caring and just a regular teenager. OK, a teenager who rubbed elbows with people I only read about, but she took nothing for granted. She was grateful for all the advantages her dad’s position afforded.

Don't Judge a Book...

Of course, the moral of the stories is that we shouldn’t use the outsides of people to judge their insides. And yet, we do. Research shows that it takes about 1/10th of a second to form a first impression and that opinion rarely changes with longer exposure. Imagine all of the amazing people we’ll never know because they aren’t attractive enough, or we meet them on a bad day, or they’re just really shy.

God Sees Your Heart

Thankfully, God looks past our outside and zeroes in on what’s in our hearts. He knows the intentions behind our actions. He doesn’t listen to the words from our mouths. He listens to the words from our hearts.

I love that because my words don’t always match my intentions and my actions don’t always reflect what’s in my heart. God knows that I am an imperfect person, but He also knows that I want to be faithful to His commandments. Because of His grace, I am forgiven of my imperfections.

A Word with God

Heavenly Father, thank you for your gift of salvation. Thank you for seeing what's in my heart instead of relying on what I say or do. Help me to look past outward appearances and actions to see the real person. Amen.

One More Thought

Have you had a similar experience as mine where you've found that your first impression wasn't correct? I'd love to hear about it and how you overcame that first impression.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Random Acts of Kindness

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. Lao Tzu

Random Acts of Kindness Week 

This week has been set aside to promote kindness in schools, workplaces, families and society. The Random Acts of Kindness website has resources that you can use all year.

I have written and rewritten this post because what I want to say isn't coming out right. And I think that is because it seems ridiculous to me that we should even have to talk about being kind. It's crazy that we should have to have a Random Acts of Kindness Week.

Golden Rule

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Jesus tells us that we should treat others as we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12). It seems like such a simple thing. We know how we want to be treated, so we just do the same to others, right? 

Then why do we so often miss the mark?
  • We are impatient with the waitress who is having a bad day. 
  • We honk at the driver who pulls out in front of us and then drives 10 miles under the speed limit (OK, maybe you don't, but I definitely do!). 
  • We point out mistakes that our coworkers make, or at least smile inside. 
  • We yell at the kids when they don't meet our expectations. 
  • Today, I had someone "correct" something I said on Facebook. It was an unnecessary comment that wasn't even correct, but the arrogant tone of his comment still bothers me.

We hurt others in a million different ways.

The Consequences of Cruelty

Proverbs 11:17 warns us about the consequences of being hateful: "Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you."

Let us more and more insist on raising fund of love of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the kingdom of God - the rest will be given.
As with just about everything in the Bible, there's more to the Golden Rule than meets the eye. Sure, Jesus wants us to be kind to others because it improves their lives and makes you feel pretty good, too. But, in his infinite wisdom, He knows that being hateful hurts us as well as the target of our ire.

Psychologists say that we pull others down to build ourselves up; by recognizing others' faults, we feel better about our own. Another reason for mistreating others is because our emotions are a reflection of our "motivational system" - the millions of goals that we set for ourselves from getting the kids to school on time to earning that big promotion at work. If we feel that someone is blocking our ability to meet those goals, we can lash out in frustration and anger.

Being cruel in this way doesn't improve us, it slowly eats away at our self-worth. Instead of allowing us to address our insecurities, it does nothing to make us better people by masking the real reasons for our actions.

Stopping the Hate

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
So, when you feel the urge to lash out at someone, what can you do to turn the interaction around to kindness? There are a few things you can try.

  1. Of course, God wants us to forgive someone who has wronged us. (Matthew 6:14-15) Not surprisingly, researchers have found that forgiving others helps the forgiver more than the forgiven.
  2. Change your thinking. If you find yourself ready to let loose on someone, think of something pleasant. Puppies are good. The outing you're looking forward to later in the week works too. Anything that diverts your thoughts and emotions will help diffuse your anger.
  3. Look at the incident from someone else's perspective. My husband rarely gets angry (proof that opposites attract!) and so I often try to see things through his eyes. What would he think about the situation? How would he react? 
  4. Everyone's got a story and it's helpful to think about why the person who made you angry acted that way. Perhaps they were angry at someone else and their actions are just misplaced anger (and so your anger would just perpetuate the chain reaction). Or maybe they are feeling insecure and want to build themselves up by tearing you down. If you can surmise the reason, it's easier to forgive and let it go.
  5. Reframe the incident. I often do this when driving. Other drivers always seems so inconsiderate when they drive too slow, cut me off, or refuse to use their turn signal. My daily commute used to put me in a foul mood until the day I saw an accident up ahead. I realized that, if the person I was behind wasn't driving so slow, I would have been the car to get hit. Perhaps God had a hand in keeping me out of harm's way. After that incident, I would thank God for slowing me down or keeping me from going into the lane I wanted to move to because He was probably saving me from an accident.
Wherever there is a human need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.
So, during this Random Acts of Kindness Week, not only make a conscious effort to bring a smile to others' faces for no reason, but also work hard to keep from hurting others. And, if you are hurt by someone else, use one of the techniques above to let it go.


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Learning The Hard Way

I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.

This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
    who teaches you what is good for you
    and leads you along the paths you should follow.
18 Oh, that you had listened to my commands!
    Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river
    and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.

Isaiah 48:17-18

Early in my career, when I was a first-time supervisor, I had to hire someone to fill a vacant position. After interviewing several applicants, I thought I'd found the perfect candidate. He had the experience I was looking for, was well-spoken, and said he was eager to learn more so he could advance in the position. I was excited to talk with my supervisor about this fantastic find, but she quickly crushed my enthusiasm when she heard the candidate's name.

"Him?" she exclaimed. "I know him. He would be horrible. He's all talk and no substance."

My immediate reaction was to defend my choice. "But he sounds so good - on paper and in person."

"Then you didn't ask the right questions," she responded, bluntly.

To put it lightly, I was not happy. I just knew I'd found the perfect employee. So, I stomped out of my supervisor's office. Like a three year old.

It was only after I'd spoken to this amazing candidate's former supervisor that I returned to my supervisor's office, tail between my legs. She'd been right. The feedback I got from the candidate's supervisor was not good and sounded vaguely familiar. While the candidate looked great on paper and knew how to talk a good game, he was lousy at follow-through, missed deadlines, and did shoddy work.

I apologized to my supervisor for my tantrum and, swallowing my pride, asked her what questions I should have asked.

Thankfully, she was very gracious. She didn't say "I told you so" and didn't talk down to me. She patiently helped me to see the things I should have been looking for.  I became a better supervisor because of the time that she spent teaching me.

No doubt, I've had similar experiences with God. Many of them. Here's the typical scenario: 

  1. He's recognized that I need to learn something and He's put it in front of me. 
  2. I, of course, refuse to learn, insisting that I know the best way!
  3. I fail miserably
  4. I turn back to Jesus and say "OK, you're right. I need to learn this, will you teach me?"
  5. He gives me a big, loving hug and says "Of course! I've been waiting to do just that!"
I'm sure He gets frustrated with me when we repeat the same dance every time. As Isaiah 48:18 says, if we'd just follow God's guidance, our lives would be peaceful!

Does this sound like something you've gone through? I think it's just human nature to think we know best. It takes a lot of confidence and humbleness to admit what we don't know and to reach out for help.

I pray that you are able to swallow your pride and ask for guidance when you need it. Since this is an ongoing growth area for me, I'd appreciate your prayers for me as well!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Love Never Ends

Love never ends.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. 1 Corinthians 13:8


God's Love

There is one thing that remains constant in this world; everything else will fade away, but God's love for you will always be. 

Your Love for Others

When you accept Jesus into your heart and acknowledge that He is God and died to wipe away your sins, the Holy Spirit gives you one or more gifts or talents to help further the kingdom of God. You can read Romans 12:6-8 to find out about these "gifts of the Spirit".

As you mature as a Christian, you develop a stronger agape love for other people. As that love grows, the gifts of the Spirit are needed less and less - your love for others sort of takes over where the gifts leave off - and so they will eventually fade away.

But the love you feel for God and for others does not fade away. While some theologians debate this, I believe that your love for others continues in Heaven, so, truly, that love will never end.

Connect With God and Others

One thing we should always be working on is a deeper connection with God and a better understanding of His love for all of His children.

By developing that closer relationship, we can connect more completely with others and better serve our God.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

There's so much in these verses, it's more than can be covered in one blog post. But each line is worth looking at carefully.

My favorites are the last four lines:
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

If we just lived by those four lines, our lives would be complete and we would make an incredible impact on those we touch.

Love Trusts God Always

 God faithfully loves us and wants the best for us. If we truly believe that, then why is it so hard to trust Him? I think it's because we have been disappointed by others' human failings and we tend to think God is like every human we know.

But that's not the case. Jesus came to earth fully man and fully God (a difficult concept to grasp, I know). While He experienced life as a man, He is incapable of sin and so can't disappoint us. He has made promises to us that He has and will fulfill.

Love Always Looks for the Best

God always looks for the best in us. He really does! And He wants us to do the same with others. 

There are people in our lives that we just don't like. That crabby old lady down the street that is always scowling. Or that annoying young up-and-comer at work.  Or even the smelly guy behind you in the check-out lane. 

We can spend our energy obsessing over the things we don't like about them. Or we can use that same energy to find positive things about them. I promise that you'll find something positive about even the most unlikeable person if you just try. I mean, if God can do it, so can we!

Love Never Looks Back

The really beautiful thing about God is that He is eager to forgive and forget our sins. We may obsess about mistakes we've made in our past, but as soon as we ask for His forgiveness, He's forgotten all about it.

We should do the same with the people in our lives. God wants us to forgive others. Do you know why? Because holding anger, resentment, even hate inside isn't good for us. It eats us up, messes with our self esteem, keeps us from moving forward.

As hard as it is, we should always forgive those who have wronged us. And then we need to forget. Don't look back.

Love Keeps Going to the End

As the hymn says:

My God loves me,
his faithful love endures.
And I will live like a child
held in love secure.


God's love will never end. You may stumble, but if you love God, He will help you back up and keep you on the right path. 

We've all had friends turn their backs on us because we've disappointed them. But God will never do that. His love is everlasting.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

1 Corinthians 13:3

I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.

Certainly, there are people who give generously to charities and worthwhile causes who don't know God. Do they not make a difference in others' lives? Of course, they do.

This verse is saying that, if we do not know God's love, it doesn't matter what we do. We could give away everything we own and die for a cause, but where does that get us? It does not impress God. It does not give you any brownie points.

I pray that you experience God's wonderful, expansive, never-ending love.

Monday, February 10, 2020

1 Corinthians 13:2

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

It's wonderful to endeavor to do your very best in all you do, but think about why you do it. Is it to boost your ego or make a name for yourself? Is it to further your own cause?

Simply put, if we do great things, but for the wrong reasons, it means nothing in God's eyes. If we truly love God, we strive to glorify His name in all we do.  Otherwise, our motives are self-serving and, in the big scheme of things, mean absolutely nothing.

But God first in everything you do. God will know and you will see a difference in your outcome.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

1 Corinthians 13:1

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

The Greek language has three words for love, each with it's own meaning. Eros is erotic love. Philia is the love you feel for a friend. Agape is described as the highest form of love - the love that God has for us. 1 Corinthians 13 refers to agape love.

If we don't know God, we cannot love others the way He loves us. Likewise, there are some pastors and evangelists who pretend they know God or think they know God, but, in fact, they don't. They do not have our best in mind. They are motivated by things that aren't Godly.

How can we spot these imposters? 7 Traits of False Teachers by Colin Smith gives us some excellent guidance.

  1. Imposters don't reference the Bible to support their teachings. They make up their own stories.
  2. Jesus is not at the center of their teachings.
  3. False teachers draw you into their corrupt behavior instead of guiding you away from sin.
  4. They cater to what people want to hear instead of what the Bible says. 
  5. They have no substance and their teachings do not result in anything worthwhile.
  6. They are on a fast, downhill path to destruction and they are eager to bring you along for the ride.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The P.R.A.Y. Method

Praise Repent Ask Yield

If you've been a Christian for any length of time, you've heard that you should pray regularly.

Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain. 1 Chronicles 4:10

You've learned the Lord's Prayer and maybe even the Prayer of Jabez, both good, solid prayers to being with and to regularly include in your prayer life.

To experience a deeper relationship with God, you should take it to the next level by turning your prayers into conversations with Jesus. That scares some and frustrates others because they don't know how to pray in that way.

If you google "how to pray", you'll get about 130,000,000 results. Among those millions of suggestions are some good ones to get you started. 

Instead of making you slog through millions of blogs, articles, and images, here's one method of learning to pray that works well for many.


Using the acronym PRAY makes it easier to remember the different parts of prayer.

Praise

Start your prayer by praising God. Your praise can include your awe and wonder of His mighty works. Have you ever been amazed at how everything works so perfectly together in nature? Or been thankful for an answered prayer? Those are good things to talk about in this part of your prayer.

Repent

Next, ask forgiveness for your sins. Think about the consequences of your sin and how you can avoid it in the future.

Ask

Many prayer newbies skip the first two parts and jump right to the third - Ask - by praising and repenting will put you in the right frame of mind for "asking". 

This is where you ask God to intervene in your or someone else's life. You may ask for help in solving a problem, strength in facing a difficult situation, or wisdom to make the right choice. You might ask for healing for yourself or someone else. There are any number of things that you might need help with and God wants to help you.

Yield

The last step is perhaps the most difficult for most people and that is to "yield" or say "yes" to God's will. This part of your prayer is where you ask God to reveal His will to you and you talk with Him about it. You might be fearful of or doubt your ability to do what He might ask you to do. If so, express those fears and doubts and let Him give you the courage and strength to move forward.

✤✤✤

Try this method of learning to pray and see if it makes it easier to have a conversation with God. If it doesn't try another method until you find what works for you. In the end, it doesn't matter how you pray. The important thing is to start the conversation.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Isaiah 60:1

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. Isaiah 60:1


Walking In the Dark

I have three horses that I keep on my property and take care of myself. At least twice a day, I walk from the house to the barn. It's a short walk that I've taken about 4,000 times. You'd think I could walk that path with my eyes closed, but I always feel uncomfortable going to the barn in the dark. I usually take a flashlight but, when I don't, I worry about stumbling in the dark.

Jesus Is The Light of the World

Just like I need the light to find my way along that dark path to the barn, I need the light of Jesus to help me along life's path. As the old song based on Psalm 119:105 goes

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path
When I feel afraid
Think I've lost my way
Still you're there right beside me
And nothing will I fear
As long as you are near
Please be near me to the end.
The Bible, God's Word, provides the guidance we need to walk the path that He wants us to follow.

Shine and Reflect God's Glory

When we are filled with the light of Jesus, it can't help but shine through everything we do! 
And that's what God wants of us. He wants us to reflect His love as we serve others. 
I pray that you will find the light that comes from Jesus. And I would love if you would pray for me as well!

 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Micah 6:8



But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,

    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.
Micah 6:8 (MSG)

The words in Micah still hold true today. They should be our guiding principles in everything we do. But what do they mean?

Act Justly

Many churches have a calling for social justice, and, if we love God, this should be a natural action. We should always fight for the "little guy". It's possible that, without the church, there would have been little traction for causes like ending slavery, more humane working conditions for children and adults alike, and the right for women to vote. Current issues that churches are actively standing up against are domestic violence, human trafficking, and hunger.

Besides joining established causes you believe it, how else can you act justly? Love your neighbor. Treat all people with love including that irritating woman behind you in the checkout line. See people as Jesus sees them.

Love Mercy

Who wouldn't love mercy? Without it, we would not have salvation through Jesus Christ and would not be able to enjoy a fulfilling relationship with Him.

But does that mean that we should have mercy for others as well? Well, we should forgive others, so there's that. And, of course, we should love our neighbor, just as God loves them (and us!).

Walk Humbly

Humble people put others - and especially God - before themselves. In all you do, honor God... through your actions and your words. Do you have a special talent that brings you all sorts of accolades? Remember that the talent is a gift from God and give Him the glory when you receive such praise.

Give co-workers - peers, subordinates and supervisors alike - credit when you receive praise for a job well done. In doing so, you will build them up while enhancing their opinion of you. Of course, this needs to be genuine credit (so you might have to really think about how to give credit to that team member who did little else than eat all of the donuts you'd bring to project meetings) or it may backfire and you'll be viewed more as self-serving than humble.

If you truly have the love of God in your heart, it shouldn't be hard to be humble. Ask God for guidance if you find yourself slipping in this area.

Be The Change

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all practiced these three actions? I pray that they become a part of your daily life and that you act as a role model for others so God's love spreads. Be the change that you want to see.💖