My Battle With Pride

Where Can I Find True Love?

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

In the early days of the automobile, a man’s Model – T Ford stalled in the middle of the road. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t get it started. A chauffeured limousine pulled up behind the stalled car and a wiry, energetic man stepped from the back seat to offer his assistance.

After tinkering with the engine for a few moments, the stranger said, “Now try it!” Immediately, the engine leaped to life. The well-dressed man then identified himself as Henry Ford. “I designed and built these cars,” he said, “So I know what to do when something goes wrong.”

When our lives are broken, when the plan falls apart and everything goes wrong, we need to wait on God to show up, knowing He created us, and that He knows us best and loves us most. We are chosen … and He knows exactly what to do when things go wrong.

You and I were created as a living, fleshed out depiction of God’s love. We can celebrate the precious truth of Psalm 139:14-16 (NCV) that says, “I praise You because You made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What You have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.”

Think about it! God supervised our formation. We were created in love – for love – and with a specific and holy purpose in mind. Wow!

We can rejoice with the Psalmist who wrote, “Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to Him; we are His people, the sheep He tends” (Psalm 100:3, NCV).

Many women buy into the lie that we are little more than puppets in the hands of God; that He created us as tools for His personal use or slaves to do His bidding and carry out His plan. In this verse, “Lord” literally means “Father” or “dearest Daddy,” indicating an intimate relationship between a loving Father and His child.

God undoubtedly has plans for us, but we misunderstand the character and heart of God when we assume those plans serve as a punishment or penalty for not being good enough. The best plan, the highest plan for our lives rests in the hands of the One who created us and loves us most.

We are all desperate to be loved and to love. We innately search for significance and are created with the powerful need to belong.

We pursue worth in worthless places.

We demand validation from invalid sources.

It is only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that we can truly experience authentic love, a love that displaces thoughts of rejection and banishes feelings of abandonment. It is in this priceless gift that we comprehend the amazing truth that even if we were never wanted or planned by human heart and mind, we were planned and wanted in the heart and mind of God! And that, dear friend, is enough!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Every Storm – An Opportunity to Trust God

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message….

LORD, even when I have trouble all around me, You will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, You will reach down and save me by Your power  ~ Psalm 138:7, NCV

My father-in-law was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean when he was caught in a school of jellyfish. Dad was stung twenty-three times. In severe pain and a state of sheer panic, he began to swim furiously, trying to escape the poisonous sea creatures.

The only problem was that he was not sure which way was up.

Dad was soon running out of air. He prayed … asking God for help.

And then a thought occurred to him. His only hope was to stop, relax, and look for the light. As he forced himself to relax, he began to float. And then he saw it … the light. With his last bit of energy, he began to swim toward the light and made it to the surface just before he passed out and was rescued.

We often react to a crisis in the same way.

When the excruciating pain of life leaves us breathless, we panic.

We are not sure which way to go.

We are soon paralyzed and in desperate need of rescuing.

And as a last resort, we cry out to God.

When will we learn that crying out to God should be our first response instead of our last resort?

The psalmist promises that God will keep us by His power. The word “power” means “strength and authority.” When we fully surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. He is our power link to God. And one of His most important jobs is to comfort us when we are in pain and sustain us in the storms of life.

I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative – and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit – He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you
(John 14:25-26, NLT).

Many times, when the storm waves of life hit, we forget every promise we know. That is when the Holy Spirit reminds us that …

·       God is faithful.
·       God will not forsake us.
·       God will never leave us.
·       God is always with us.
·       God will empower us to withstand the storm.

Just as storms in life are a certainty, so is the provision of God.

Life can be messy and bad things will happen, but every crisis and every storm is also an opportunity to trust God. He calls us to a heavenly perspective when facing challenging times. He calls us to see the storms of life as He sees them – opportunities for His power and purpose to be illustrated in human terms.

In the midst of the darkness, He will point us toward the light. When a huge wave of daily life knocks us to our knees, it is easy to lose our sense of direction. When a storm overwhelms us, we need to stop, look for the light, and swim toward it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Art of Confrontation

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend ~ Proverbs 27:6

Dan and I just celebrated 42 years of marriage. And every single day has been filled with peace, marital bliss, more peace … and I need to stop right there before a bolt of lightning strikes me dead!

Dan and I have a great marriage – most of the time. Honestly, there have been days when I have thought about getting in the car and driving away. I am sure there have been more days when Dan has had the same thought. We have weathered some severe storms in our marriage, and it is only by the grace of God that we still love and respect each other after all these years. We are best friends – flawed and frail humans who say and do stupid, hurtful things. But we work hard at our marriage and let me tell you one thing – a good marriage requires hard work. We are committed to each other and to making the rest of our marriage the best part of our marriage. It didn’t start off that way.

Before Dan and I were married, I noticed several rough edges that needed to be sanded away and felt like I was just the one who could do it. After all, that’s what wives are for, right?

I decided to lay low for a few months, lulling Dan into a false sense of security and giving him a chance to make the changes on his own before I stepped in with my well-thought-out plan for his life. The only problem was that my plan did not line up with his plan. Furthermore, he seemed oblivious to the character flaws that were blatantly obvious to me.

After a few months of marital bliss during which I was fine-tuning my “Fix Dan Plan,” a seed of discontent took root and began to grow in my heart and in our marriage.

The strength I had once so admired in Dan now looked a whole lot like stubbornness.
Dan’s ability to take a complicated issue, dissect it, and boil it down to a three-step-plan now seemed patronizing.

What I had once embraced as his devotion to me now seemed like his need to be in control of me.

I could go on – but you get the picture.

It was obviously time for the execution of my sure-to-succeed plan of transforming my husband into the man that God and I thought he should be. Looking back, my arrogance and ignorance are laughable, but at the time, they were just plain wrong and yielded painful and disastrous results.

I will never forget the afternoon Dan gently confronted me in love and with amazing patience. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I do remember the words that broke my heart and saved our marriage, “Honey, I’m not sure what is going on between us. But I do know that I want to love you like you need to be loved.”

Boom!

And there you have the recipe for a successful marriage – confrontation wrapped in love for the purpose of restoration. It is also the formula for cultivating peace and unity in every relationship.

Healthy confrontation is especially important when dealing with those difficult people who rub you the wrong way – the Sandpaper People in in your life.

Sandpaper people love a good fight and often mistake combat for confrontation. The two are not the same thing. Combat slowly corrodes and splinters while confrontation is an art that, when done correctly, improves and strengthens relationships.

To confront someone is to meet them head-on in the quest for compromise. Our heart motive must be love and restoration – not getting even or winning. Confrontation is an emotional tackle for the purpose of resolving conflict while promoting peace.

Most people I know hate confrontation and will do anything to avoid it. That is not all bad. In fact, if you love confrontation and drama, you are probably confronting for the wrong reason. On the other hand, if you refuse to confront, you are giving the impression that you are content with the status quo.

Silence is agreement.

Confrontation is a spiritual surgery that tends to be painful. But without it, the cancer of contention and discord will remain unfettered, free to grow and spread its deadly relationship poison. Confrontation is a gift we bring to every healthy relationship as well as the unhealthy relationships with which we struggle.

As fully devoted followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to bring confrontation into the picture when dealing with sandpaper people. There is a right way and a wrong way to confront. Confrontation is not combat. The success of any confrontation depends upon understanding the difference between the two.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Help! My Job is Killing Me!


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message.

I recently stopped at a local discount store to pick up a few things. When I went to check out, the cashier looked very familiar. He must have seen the question in my eyes because he smiled and said, “It’s good to see you, Mrs. Southerland.” When I heard his voice, I immediately recognized him as the manager of a local grocery store where I frequently shopped. Before I could say one word, he explained, “I lost my job at the grocery store. Evidently, I needed to change mission fields for a while.” Now that is what I call a heavenly perspective of an earthly job.

God uses our work as one of His tools to mold us into who He wants us to be. Stress comes when we view our job as our main life mission. It isn’t. It is the God-given opportunity to provide the tools we need to accomplish our life mission.

The apostle Paul writes, “Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love” (Acts 20:24, LB).

Paul worked as a tentmaker, a church planter, and an author. His purpose never changed, but his work certainly did. Many of us do not need a different job. We just need a different attitude and a new point of view about the job we have.

How do we make that happen?

Start by envisioning Jesus standing in the midst of your work place as your real boss. Then look for the life lessons God provides through your work.

God uses our work to teach us responsibility. Meeting deadlines, completing assigned tasks with excellence, showing respect for co-workers (even the abrasive ones) and working without supervision are all valuable life lessons learned on the job. When we try to cut corners, stress steps in and wreaks havoc in our attitude about work.

God uses people at work to teach us valuable lessons about relationships. Cooperation, fairness, flexibility, humility, and patience are relationship skills of a successful worker. Stress comes when we stray from the guidelines God gives us for godly relationships. Our workplace is not only one of our God-ordained mission fields, but it is also a classroom for learning to love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable. You may very well be the only sermon your co-workers ever hear.

God uses our work to teach us how to serve. The way we serve God is by serving others. God wants us to grow spiritually at work by becoming a servant to those with whom we work. It is easy to serve the people who sit beside us in a worship service each Sunday, but a real servant serves on the job … every single day. God asks us to accept others unconditionally, encourage other continually, forgive others freely, and help others willingly.

Attitudes never sit still. They constantly move and change.

An attitude is a pattern of thinking and a filter through which we view life.

We can choose to be honest about our attitude at work, and we can choose to change our attitude about work, but most importantly, we can choose to pray for God’s attitude about our work. When we can’t change our attitude, the One who lives in us can. He can give us His attitude. Exchanging our attitude for His always eliminates stress.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!