Building People. Spreading Hope.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Set Goals, Plan and Prosper

Nelaton, the great French surgeon, once said, “If I had four minutes in which to perform an operation on which a life depended, I would take one minute to consider how best to do it.”  The scripture says, “The PLANS of the diligent lead surely to plenty.”  Proverbs 21:5.  Friend, do you have a plan to prosper in your life?  And more importantly, are you putting any action behind those plans?

One of the keys to success is to take time to set goals (spiritual, relational, financial etc.), drawing up an action plan and pursuing the dreams we believe in.  Mediocrity will keep you focused on the daily grind all your life but a man with a plan will prosper.

You may have suffered a few setbacks in life.  Some of your plans may not have worked out.  But don’t let that keep you from pursuing the dreams God has given you.  This is a new day.  You have new ideas, you have fresh motivation.  You can plan in confidence!

Did you know God has a plan for your life?  If we want success in our lives, we must believe in the plan God has for us; a plan to prosper, a plan to give us a bright future (Jeremiah 29:11).  We must believe in God’s goodness and we must make some plans.

But it is not enough to just believe and set some plans.  We we must put some ACTION behind our plan.  Just like an expecting couple, we must plan and prepare for that great day of “delivery.”  King David said, “The STEPS of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”  Psalm 37:23-24.   God expects us to take some steps -- specific steps that He can bless. 

For example, if we want to pay off $5,000 in debt.  Our plan can be: #1 Cut back on grocery by 10%.  #2 Eat out only once a month.  #3 Take lunch to work and use that saving to pay off debt.  Allocate a time frame to achieve this goal; say one year.  As you can see, the goal is very specific.  We can measure the progress.  And we also have a timeframe that motivates us to achieve the task.  Whatever goals we set, our strategy must be designed to take us in that direction.  A combination of our efforts and God’s favor will ignite our plans for success.

Practical Steps You Can Take:

1.  Sit with God and take time to plan your day, week, month and years.
2.  Write down your specific plans.  Hab. 2:2-4
3.  Set a daily, weekly and monthly goal to monitor the progress of your plans.
4.  Share your plans with people who will keep you accountable and help you achieve your goals.
5.  Expect God to bring super-natural favor and breakthroughs.
The plans you set today will determine the quality of your life both now and in the future.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stretch Yourself to the Next Level

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)  Generally we apply this verse to our spiritual life.  But God wants us to hunger and thirst in every area of our lives.  He wants us to experience increase in our relationships, finances, health and in our walk with God.  Like a rubber band, He wants us to stretch our capacity for twice as much as we have today.
One of the most inspiring stories we read in the Bible is about Caleb (Numbers 13).  When he was young, he was one of the twelve spies who went out to spy the land God had given them.  While ten of them brought negative report, Caleb and Joshua said, “We can overcome the enemy at once!”
After a long series of battles, the Israelites finally entered the promised land.  It was a place of God’s abundance!  But Caleb did not stop there.  He stretched himself to the next level.  At the age of eighty-five, he went to his leaders and said, “Give me this mountain.”  In other words, Caleb was constantly stretching himself to do more for his family, his community and for God.  He pushed himself and believed God for greater miracles in his life.  Caleb possessed a new mountain at eighty-five (Joshua 14:6-15)!
Friend, how are you stretching yourself?  If we want God to bless us, it is imperative that we set new goals and expectations.  No matter where you are in your life right now, God wants you to go higher.  He wants us to develop our gifts and talents.  You may have the lowest job right now, but do not plan to stay there.  God wants to advance you, so you can take care of yourself and have plenty left over to bless those around you.  If you want to leave your mark on the earth, you must take steps to learn, grow and call His favor upon your life every day.
Do not be satisfied to remain where you are.  The entire world is waiting for your next adventure!
I am sure God has already done many great things in your life.  But always remember, your best is yet to come.  That means your best is still in your future.  Do not stop hoping, dreaming and believing.  Plan your next project, start writing that book, educate yourself, save to buy that tool that will increase your income.  When you do your part, God will command His blessing on the works of your hands. (Deuteronomy 28:8).
Get rid of low expectations and have a high confidence in God.  When we do our best and put our trust in God, He will outdo Himself.  He wants to bless you so you can be a blessing to others.  Others may not understand you, but God does.  He will promote you.
He planted seeds of greatness in you.  Dream big dreams.  Write down specific goals and plans.  You have everything you need to fulfill your God given destiny.  There is a champion in you waiting to be released.  Like a rubber band, you have the capacity to stretch yourself more than you think.  If you take the limits off of yourself, God will do great things.  You are intelligent, creative, disciplined, and full of God’s favor.  You have what it takes.  Rise up and stretch yourself, and you will have the abundant life God has for you.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to Enjoy a Peaceful Family Get Together

A family get-together can be one of the most contentious times. What should be a time of togetherness, bonding and celebrating one another becomes a time of conflict, chaos and strife. Instead of wasting another reunion dreading your family, extended family, guests and neighbors visiting your home, let me share a few tips that will not only keep your celebration contention free but allow you to make memories that will last for a lifetime!
1. Accept the fact that you cannot please everybody. No matter how hard you try to maintain good relationship with others, you cannot please everybody. If they do not criticize your children, they will complain about your carpet, the food, or the show on TV. Stop trying to please everyone at the expense of the peace of your family.
2. Become more agreeable. Nothing is more stressful than always feeling the need to prove yourself right. If you want peace, you have to be the peacemaker. You may have a strong opinion about doing something a certain way, but ask yourself, “Is this worth sacrificing joy in our family over this issue?” Consider others and their right to enjoy the celebration in their own way as well.
3. Lighten up with the rules. Every family has certain expectations in place in order to function in harmony each day. Instead of strictly imposing those rules during family get-togethers, allow family members to bend the rules a little. You have 364 other days a year to enforce your convictions. For kids, it might mean going to bed later, sleeping in late, having extra sweets. For adults, it might mean indulging in a favorite desert or allowing the house to be less tidy. Your family will forget about the rules one day, but the memories you make now will be unforgettable.
4. Have a relaxed, easy-going attitude. Don’t make mountain out of a molehill. If the kids spill a drink and spoil your most treasured tablecloth, do not yell, shout or lecture. Take it in stride and remember your children are the greatest treasure you will ever have. If the guests arrive late or the food gets burned, cut some slack. People would much rather have peace and tranquility than a perfect house in the middle of a perfect storm!
5. Adjust your expectations. One of the most common ways we get hurt is when we do not see things from the other person’s perspective. We place certain expectations on people and when they do not live up to those expectations, our feelings get hurt. Do not make the mistake of forcing people to fit your mold; instead, put yourself in their shoes. Some people are talkative; others are not. Some quickly step in to help; others need to be asked. Accept each person for who they are and you will have more fun.
6. Respect and honor each family member. Regardless of your personal convictions, try to value the other person. If Jesus was in the house (which He is), would you be so easily offended or do hurtful things? Be careful with your words. Do not always feel the need to reply to everything you hear. Curb the urge to snap back at each other.
7. Avoid sarcasm and hurtful comments. Most of us love a little fun at the expense of others. But what is dangerous is how it can affect the other person. We may say something in passing for a laugh, but people can carry the bitterness of the moment for months to come. Just like a burn, it takes only a second to say it, but the sting can remain months later! Use words to build up and not to tear down.
8. Communicate. If you are feeling your stress level going up, let your family know so they can extend you extra grace. Ask for help (in a nice voice). Don’t try to be a superhero. Assign jobs to different people, including to your guests. You will be amazed at how things can remain calm if you take the time to communicate.
9. Allow people to be who they are and act in the way they do. Accept that you cannot change everybody to behave according to your standards. That is part of what makes your family unit so different. Go with the flow and your guests just might leave earlier!
10. Make Jesus the Lord of your heart and your home. No matter how hard you try, life without Jesus is full of strife and disharmony. Jesus is the Prince of Peace! Would you allow Him to come into your heart and into your home? If you are living without His blessing, you are not living up to your potential. Let Him come in and open up a new world in a way you may have never imagined.
Go ahead… celebrate, enjoy each other, and make memories.
Merry Christmas and a Happy, Peaceful, New Year!

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How to Overcome Loneliness

Loneliness is a universal problem. No matter who you are or what you have, every person is susceptible to loneliness. It robs many people of vitality in life, yet the ugly face of loneliness can be overcome. If you are reading this and this applies to you, be encouraged. Nothing is impossible for you to overcome.

Holidays and special events can be a great source of loneliness. When we see others surrounded by joy, acceptance, and loving people, our inner being longs to have the same unconditional love and fulfillment.

One of the greatest causes of loneliness is the feeling of betrayal, loss or death. In each case someone has left us. It could be an emotional, mental or physical departure. When we feel betrayed by a friend, family member or even our own spouse, it is a cause for emotional havoc. Sometimes it can be so powerful it affects our physical health. This pain is very real and cannot be dealt with flippantly.

So, is there any hope for us to come out of loneliness and live a fulfilled, satisfied life? Yes; and the answer is a resounding yes!

There are many who have lived before us and overcome loneliness with a great success. Let’s start with our Lord Jesus. One of His closest friends, Peter, betrayed Him. Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers and King David’s own men wanted to stone him to death! Yet, they overcame the challenges of loneliness. They went on to make history and their choices continue to inspire us today. You see, there is nothing wrong feeling lonely every once in a while. On the other hand, there is nothing right staying lonely. You have the power to choose where you want to dwell.

Let me share a few practical steps to overcome loneliness:

1. Stay occupied. Intentionally create a daily “to do list” that leaves little room for time in your hand. I am not suggesting mindless “busy-ness” but rather meaningful interaction and activities that add up to enrich your life or that of someone else.

2. Be with people. If you are prone to loneliness, you must look for opportunities to be with people. Don’t wait for others to call you. Pick up the phone, put on your handsome clothes and be with others. It can be a great incentive to break the bondage of loneliness.

3. Become a giving person. When you are overwhelmed by the feeling of loneliness, force yourself to think of others. Bake a cake or cookies for the elderly, visit someone who is sick or at senior care, or reach out to a person in need. When you help others, God will assist your own needs.

4. Exercise. When you walk, jog, run, or play your favorite sport, you are being proactive against loneliness. When your body sweats, it releases “happy hormones” called endorphins. This naturally lifts your spirit and affects your mood in a positive way.

5. Understand your value. Guilt, shame, and failure all contribute to the feeling of loneliness. If you struggle with any of these (which we all do at times) the best remedy is to accept God’s forgiveness and unmerited favor. When you realize how much God loves you, you will be more secure to accept yourself and others around you.

6. Forgive. Unforgiveness holds people prisoner by their own action. The best thing you can do with your own mistakes is to forgive yourself and move forward. The best thing you can do when people have wronged you is to forgive them and know you are setting a prisoner free – and the prisoner is you!

7. Meditate on the positive. What you take in is what you will pour out. Music, TV, movies, and books can have a great influence in your life and attitude. Do not give in to tear-jerking, sad, melancholy influences. Intentionally give your heart, soul and mind to uplifting, inspiring and positive deposits in your life.

King David, in his greatest moment of despair and loneliness, is quoted in the New Testament, “I will pitch my tent in the land of hope!” Acts 2:26 (The Message). Friend, hope in our God brings joy, purpose and fulfillment. Nothing and no one in this world can fill the God-shaped void in your life. You were created to enjoy life to the fullest. You have something deposited in you that the world craves. Do not get locked in to thinking how lonely you are; instead focus on how you can lift others up. Accept the way God made you. You are His favorite. People who have left you do not determine your destiny – God does. Throw away the garment of heaviness and put on the attitude of royalty. You are awesome and you were created to do great things. You are not alone; you are amazing!

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Celebrate a Stress-Free Christmas

1. Put CHRIST in front of Christ-mas.  He wants your life not your stuff.  Sing and play worship music.  Read the Christmas story from the Bible.  Brag on God’s goodness.  Spend some time alone and thank Him for his unspeakable gift – Jesus!

2. Guard against offenses.  Christmas has become one of the most stressful times of the year.  The word “offense” comes from a Greek word meaning bait.  Don’t bite the devil’s bait.  Don’t wear your feelings on your shoulders.  Give people the benefit of the doubt and be quick to forgive specially those you love. 

3.  Have a relaxed, easy going attitude.   Be more agreeable.  Nothing is worse than living in a house full of strife, getting all stressed out, snapping at each other.  Offenses will come but make up your mind not to get upset.  Go out of your way to let love and peace rule!

4. Beware of the sale and catalogue trap.  Many retailers mark up their prices up to 300% profit before they offer you the “80% off” price.  If it is not on your list, don’t buy.  Don’t spend what you don’t have.  Before you spend, consider the bills that will come due in January!  Most of us don’t need a miracle but a little bit of self-control.  Focus on homemade stuff!  Love is not expressed in the price tag.

5. Spend time not money.  Kids will forget the memory of the latest gadget but the time spent on playing with them, setting up a Christmas tree together, drinking hot chocolate by the fire, reading a Christmas story will create a life-long memory.  Let the kids open some of their gifts early.  Call or visit the elderly.

6. Make a list of jobs to do and check them done.  Set deadlines giving each job adequate time to finish.  Delegate some of the tasks and accept the results.  Don’t stress out if it is not done exactly the way you want but put on a smile and say “well done.”

7. Learn to say no.  You don't have to do it all.  Pick a few things and do it well.  Choose what you want to do and who you want to be with.  You can’t please everyone’s expectation.

8. Do not keep up with the Joneses.  The Bible teaches us not to compare ourselves with others.  Don’t get caught up in what others are buying or doing.  Be content with yours.

9. Take time for yourself.  Take time out to enjoy the season.  Pay attention to what you eat and drink.  Your mood will greatly depend on this.  Enjoy the food in a way that will not disappoint you getting on the scale on January 1st.  Remember, you are responsible for your own happiness!

10. Share the JOY of Christmas.  When something wonderful happens we should tell others about it.  Millions in Asia have never heard about the first Christmas.  You can bring the Gospel to someone for the first time.  No greater gift can you give to Christ than to cause someone to hear the Gospel. 

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unleash the Power - Be Thankful

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some." - Charles Dickens
Gratitude is the most passionate transformative force in the universe. When we offer thanks to God or to another human being, gratitude gifts us with renewal, reflection and reconnection. Every time we remember to say “thank you” we experience nothing less than heaven on earth.
The Bible says, Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15
Researchers have found positive differences in grateful people. The people who focused on gratitude were just flat-out happier. They saw their lives in favorable terms. They felt better about their lives. They were more optimistic. They were more energetic, enthusiastic and determined to make the best of life. People who were thankful were fun to hang around with. They were interested and more likely to help others. They also had fewer illnesses.
If you’re going through a midnight hour of trials and can’t think of anything good to be thankful for, consider Paul and Silas. The Bible describes them (Acts 16:25-26) sitting in a prison thanking and praising God (after being beaten and tortured severely). Their thankful attitude created such a massive earthquake that “everyone’s chains were loosed.” Friend, no matter how dark your situation may look, there’s freedom in thanksgiving. This I must admit is extremely hard to do when you’re going through a dark period in your life. But you CAN do it.
Practical ways you can develop a thankful lifestyle:
Just say Thank You! Pick up the phone and make that call God placed in your heart. Send a thank you card. Express your gratitude for special favor received. Go visit someone you’ve not seen in a while. Give a token of appreciation.
Record your thanks. Too many people do the opposite. They journal the bitterness of life. But it glorifies God when we focus on being grateful – anything that make you feel uplifted, that brought a smile on your face or contributed to the future of your happiness.
Don’t forget God. Take the time to thank God. It is amazing how generous we’re to shoot out a prayer for help but not as grateful to come back and thank God for it. Remember the ten lepers Jesus healed. Only one had a grateful heart.
Your sincere expressions of appreciation will brighten the lives of others but most importantly – yours! Practice the art of gratitude and look for opportunities to thank and acknowledge the special people in your life. Keep a few small gifts to express your thanks in a tangible way when they bring a special blessing to your life. Remember that a life overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving will touch others more deeply and produce more long lasting relationships.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Your Miracle is Within Your Reach

You have probably never heard of Károly Takács. However, in Hungary, he is a national hero. In 1938, Takács of the Hungarian Army was the top pistol shooter in the world. He was expected to win the gold medal in the 1940 Olympic Games scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan. Those expectations vanished one terrible day just months before the Olympics. While training with his army squad, a hand grenade exploded in Takács’ right hand and his shooting hand was blown off.
Takács spent a month in the hospital, depressed at both the loss of his hand and the end to his Olympic dream. At that point, most people would have quit. But Takács did the unthinkable! He decided to learn how to shoot with his left hand. Instead of focusing on what he didn’t have, he decided to focus on what he did have – incredible mental toughness and a healthy left hand that with time could be developed to shoot like a champion.
The 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled because of World War II. But Takács kept training and in 1948, at the age of 38, Takács won the gold medal at the London Olympics and set a new world record in pistol shooting. Four years later, Takács won the gold medal again at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics – all with one arm!
Many times when we are in a crisis or facing a certain need in our lives, we tend to believe the answers are far out of our reach. We give up thinking, “I don’t have the right connection, I don’t have the resources, or I don’t have the education.” But in the midst of our deficit, God believes in us. He allows us to reach within ourselves and discover the gifts and talents He has put in us. If we just take a step of faith and look around what we have, we will find the answers are well within our reach.
Think about it! Moses parted the Red Sea holding up an ordinary staff. David killed Goliath using a slingshot. And even Jesus started by using five loaves and two fish from a little boy’s lunch to feed the five thousand. They each had their miracle well within their reach. I’ve learned that it’s not so much what we have, but it’s God’s blessing on what we have, that makes all the difference. But nothing happens until we make a move and take some action.
Are you in need of a miracle today? Does your business look like it will not recover from this slump? Do you feel like giving up? If any of this describes you, there is hope for you!
Moses had to walk up to the vast sea, and as his feet touched the water with his rod held high, the Red Sea parted for the Israelites to walk across. David had to swing the sling that brought down a giant. Jesus had to ask a little boy for his lunch to feed 5,000 people! Friend, when all you can see is what you do not have, remember, the miracle is often within your reach.
If you want a job, you have to knock on a few doors. If you are looking for a spouse, do not expect Prince Charming or Miss America to knock on your door. You must put yourself out there. If you are looking for a business deal to close, you have to keep following up with your prospect. If you want a better marriage or a family, you have to start making some adjustments. You’ve heard it said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Do not limit yourself or God. He knows exactly what you need and how to get it to you. Stay open to God’s unconventional ways. It is called faith. You are not a powerless victim, left in the merciless hand of fate. You are an overcomer, because the Almighty God is on your side. He not only lives in you, He also lives through you!
Friend, God will never allow you to go through a temptation or a trial without making an escape for you. The scripture says, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (I Corinthians 10:13, NIV)  He has you in the palm of His Hand. He had a solution to your problem long before it ever existed. Your situation is not impossible. Like Takács, Moses, and David, God has already prepared a way out for you.
No matter what you are going through, your answer is within your reach. Do not talk about what you don’t have. Focus on what you do have. The Scriptures says in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” He is close to you; He is within you, and He will cause you to triumph in every situation. Your miracle is within your reach!

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mission Trip Report: Revival in China

I have just returned from an unprecedented ministry trip to China. THANK YOU for going with us to bless our persecuted brothers and sisters with your prayers and support. Personally, I've never seen people more hungry for God than the Church in China.
We landed in Beijing and our ministry began with training pastors and leaders. Hundreds of them had gathered from different parts of China. Four pastors came from the remote north east part of Harbin, China. It was already snowing there but these church leaders traveled eighteen hours by train just to get to the training. Professor Du, one of my translators, flew in from another city because of the distance. He has led thousands of university students to the Lord even under threat of losing his job. After I preached a message on "How to Overcome Discouragement," he began to hand-copy my notes. He was so hungry for the Word!
We also traveled to another city called Shenyang where we saw the whole church pray, laugh, cry,dance, and soak in the Word of God. We ministered for eight to nine hours a day. When we stopped preaching they asked us to teach some more! After we gad preached some more, the pastor sheepishly requested, "If it's not too much trouble, will you please lay hands on all the leaders and pray for them?" Of course, we did! Altogether we were able to train 800 pastors and leaders during our time there.
Another highlight of our trip was distributing Bibles to rural church leaders and believers. My eyes welled up with tears when I saw them kissing the Bibles we had brought for them with your gifts. Many of these believers had been praying and fasting that they would receive their own Bible someday. God answered their prayers through you!
We incurred many expenses but through your generous support, we were able to bless our persecuted brothers and sisters in China. China will never be the same! I appreciate your continued prayers and support. Every soul saved, healed, delivered and touched were credited to your spiritual account. Without you, we couldn't have done any of this. Thank you for touching China with your love. I'm praying for you!

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Your Appointed Time is Coming

Once I was in the Dallas airport waiting for a plane to arrive.  I sat down in a chair and immediately noticed a gentleman, sitting in front of me, who was visibly irritated. Wanting to help, I asked him if I could buy him a lunch. He politely refused and said, “It’s not that. I have been waiting for my plane (same flight as mine) for the last two hours!” He was frustrated and upset because his plane did not come when he thought it was time.

Many times we experience the same frustrations like my fellow-passenger. When we feel God is not answering our prayers on our timetable, we fight, we fret and sometimes we give up thinking God does not care about us. But in reality, God was watching out for us all along. He has already executed an answer; it is exactly on schedule. One thing I have learned in life – God is seldom early but He is never too late.  We have our timetable and God has His and often they don’t sync.  The secret is to learn how to move from our timetable to God’s. This is not so easy but with a little practice anybody can get there.

The Bible says, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.” Psalm 37:23. That means, if our steps are truly ordered by the Lord, we can rest assured that our set time is coming – not a second late. I have found anytime we have to have something to make us happy, we’re out of sync.

This is what happened to Abraham and Sara. You see, God promised them a son; but 25 years had gone by without a result.  Their natural bodies were failing.  The promise seemed dead but God was not through.  He had set an appointed time.  His plan was to wait until everything in the natural was dead so that only God could get credit for the miraculous outcome.

As Abraham and Sara got up in years, you could see the disappointment in their eyes. I’m sure their neighbors, friends and family had plenty of gossip going on about them. Doubt must have entered their minds but they never let it settle in their hearts. To encourage Abraham and Sara, God had to send an angel with a message, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?  At the appointed time I will return to you.”  Genesis 18:14.  And guess what?  At God’s set time, against all odds, Abraham and Sara did have their promised child born to them.

You may not have an angel standing before you today, but God sent me to deliver this message to you, “Your appointed time is coming!” God sees your wait, He sees your tears. He knows you’ve been faithful in spite of difficult times. Just like my plane arrived at a set time to take me to my destination.  Your set time for healing, promotion, increase and restoration is coming. God will vindicate you. Your child will serve God. Your business will take off and profit again. Your relationships will be restored.

So what do you do between now and your appointed time of arrival? 

First, learn to worship God in your dark times; and He will reward you openly. Spend more time talking about the breakthrough coming than singing the blues, “When is it ever going to happen to me?” When we brag on God in our difficult circumstances, He will brag on us and send the answers we need.

Second, keep doing the things you know are right to do. Be diligent. Spend time with your family. Help those in need, both locally and internationally. When you focus on others, God will focus on you. 

Last, but not the least, use this time to grow. Learn from the best in your industry. Gain some new skills.  Try something different than what you have always done. Ask questions from those who have done well in your situation.

Our plane arrived on time. Abraham got his son. If you keep your hope in God and stay persistent, you too will fulfill your destiny and make a difference. If you ever feel like giving up, remind yourself, “At the appointed time God will turn my dream into reality.” Your life is precisely on schedule. It will not be one second late. You will enjoy the fruit of your patience for the rest of your life.

Think about this. Just when the caterpillar couldn’t take it any longer; it turned into a butterfly!

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

God Wants to Give You a Lift

My son, Daniel, was eight years old.  We were in the bathroom when he spotted a spider in the bathtub.  Being a boy, I thought he would kill it immediately.  But instead he ran out the door and came back with a piece of paper.  Gently he scooped up the spider from the bathtub, carried it out to our backyard and gently laid it down on the green grass.  Even though an eight--year old boy is a natural enemy to a spider, God used Daniel to save and rescue the spider trapped in the pit of our bathtub.
In life's long journey, pits are inevitable.  We face a financial pit, a career pit, health or a relationship pit.  Usually they show up uninvited.  Abraham was in a pit when God asked him to sacrifice his only son.  Moses was in a pit when he killed an Egyptian.  Joseph was in a literal pit by his mean brothers.  Pits are uncomfortable.  Pits make us lose sight of Hope.  But it is in the pit character is developed, supernatural growth occurs and God's mercy and grace scoop us out of our pit.
Are you trapped in the enemy's pit today?  Do you feel like you can't get out of a hopeless situation?  I've got news for you!  God wants to give you a lift out of your pit and land you in the green pasture of His garden of blessing.  The Scriptures says, "When a man's ways pleases the Lord, He makes even His enemies to be at peace with Him".  Prov. 16:7.
Not all pits are a consequence of our sin.  Abraham , sincerely followed God when he was faced with a pit of decision to sacrifice his son.  This tells me that not every problem we face in life is an outcome of bad choices we make along the journey.  However, it is highly possible that the pits we're in today are the results of some wrong thinking, talking and acting on our part.
So why does God allow "pits" in our lives?  When we find the purpose of the pit we're in today, we'll find peace.  One of the main reasons God allows "pits" in our lives is for us to GROW!  Human nature is such that we learn the fastest and hardest when we're inconvenienced and shaken out of our comfort zone.  This way of learning is not God's best for our lives.  But in His mercy, He allows the pit to take ownership for our faults, to sharpen us and to learn new things that He's been trying to teach us all along!  No matter how spiritual you are, you cannot pray every uncomfortable situation away from your life.  A better way to deal with the pit is to learn and grow.  The faster we learn, the less time we'll have to spend in the pit!
Last week I was in a nice hotel attending a World Missions Conference.  As I sat in the coffee shop, I couldn't help but notice the elevators crawling up and down the walls of the hotel.  Elevators are fascinating!  I call it a "magic box."  You push a button, wait a while for it to come down, you get in the box, tell it where to go; and it lands you there in a few seconds!  It's the same way with God.  The Scripture says, "Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."  Rom. 10:13.  That's pushing the button, welcoming God's favor upon your life.
Interesting thing about an elevator is you're in control of where you want to land.  An elevator maybe full of people but you still get to decide where you want to go.  The same "magic box" serves the first floor and the top floor.  Friend, only you can determine how high up in God's ladder you want to climb.  It is God's desire to lift you to the top floor giving you the best view over life's circumstances. 
Friend, no matter what pit you're in today, God wants to give you a lift.  He wants to pick you up from your low position and lift you up to a high position.  He wants to deliver you from your pit and set you in God's garden of blessing.  Just like my son Daniel to the spider, God has assigned people to come to your aid and lift you out of your pit.  While you're learning, growing and waiting for your lift, search your heart and see if God wants to use you to lift someone else out of their pit.  Believe me, it will be a lot more tolerable in the pit when you're focusing on giving others the lift they need. 
You are unforgettable to God.  He holds your picture in His Hands.  He can't stand seeing you in a ditch.  His Hands are stretched and His face is turned toward you.  Let Him give you a lift above all your circumstances.  Amen?
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Gospel Has No Power Until...

In our busy schedule, pursuits of life and responsibilities, it is easy to forget there is a world out there waiting to hear the Good News for the first time. As professing Christians, we’re commanded to spread the Gospel beyond our families, communities and the four walls of our churches. Because the Gospel has no power until it is shared.

Before Jesus returned to heaven, he left us with one command, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel," so that He can return. But statistically, world missions is the one thing Christians have neglected the most. We've built cathedrals and more beautiful buildings on larger acreage. We've broadcasted the Message to the same people 24/7. We've built auditoriums and gymnasiums so our young people can be protected from worldly influences. None of this is wrong in itself. But alas, how we got our priorities wrong!

When you think of return on investment (ROI), the mission field in Asia has the best ROI. This month, one piece of Gospel tract saved a whole family in India. A sick cow’s being healed turned another family to follow Christ. Pastor Nayak was murdered in Orissa, India—he paid the ultimate price to bring the Gospel to people who have never heard His name—once! This month, two Indonesian churches were burned down to the ground; but the believers continue to meet.

Friend, when you partner with us, you join hands with workers in Asia who are winning souls for Jesus every day. Regardless of hardship, persecution and even death, missionary workers are reaching the most unreached. They are healing the sick, baptizing and discipling new souls to Christ and planting them in local churches. I encourage you to team up with our ministry. Your partnership will credit souls to your name, strengthen the Asian workers and expand the Kingdom of God on earth.

We are praying for you: “My beloved is to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 15:58.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

#1 Skill of a Successful Person

Communication. The degree of success a person will achieve depends on the skill he/she has to communicate.

Just the other day a friend told me, “Don’t send me text messages on the phone.  I prefer you call.”  I took a note of that.  I have another friend, who says, “Any time you want to ‘talk’ to me, just send me an email.”  People are different.  Not everybody likes to communicate the same way.   Here are the top tips in a nutshell for you.

General guidelines for Communication

1.  Take genuine interest in the person you’re talking to.  Ask people about themselves and they’ll talk for hours.
2.  Make eye contact.  It is the window to a person’s heart.
3.  Master the art of listening.
4.  Use body language.  Researchers say 70% of what you communicate is in the body language.
5.  Ask the other person’s opinion on the subject.
6.  Speak in short intervals.  Do not monopolize the conversation.
7.  Be enthusiastic when you speak or listen to some- one.  Lean forward.
8.  Be curious and show empathy.
9.  Express your sense of humor and laugh at theirs (even if you’ve heard it before.)
10.  Shut up.   Harness the will to remain silent after you’ve asked a question.

Communicating by phone

1. Prepare before you call.
2. Smile and say something positive.  It puts the person on the other side at ease.
3. Get personal.  Give your name and ask for his/hers.
4. If you’re making the call ask permission, “Do you have a minute or five to talk?”
5. Know and state the purpose of the call.  “…the reason I’m calling is …”
6. If you’re receiving the call, first, listen.
7. Agree as much as possible.  Never argue.
8. Ask questions.  Understand before you seek to be understood.
9. End conversation on an “up” note.
10. Speak clearly, slowly and repeat your phone number if you leave a voice mail.

Communicating by Email/Letters

1. Make the email subject line clear and interesting. Otherwise it may not get read.
2. Stick to the topic.  Multiple themes and requests get ignored.  Better to send multiple emails.
3.Reply to personal emails.  It confirms to the sender that you’ve received it and eliminate misunderstanding.
4. Keep your inbox clean.  Reply, forward or delete message immediately.
5. Include the previous message when replying to questions for clarity.
6. Don’t send BCC email to people in CC.
7. Do not send email when you can communicate orally.
8. Ask for permission before putting them on mass mail list, and offer a way to “unsubscribe.”
9.  If you are writing to a larger audience, pick one person you know and write to that person.
10. Add signature with your name and contact information.
Keep communicating!

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