Building People. Spreading Hope.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Starting Late Finishing Strong

My friend Jerry is a soft spoken salesman who has worked in the insurance industry for forty-eight years. He has been very successful in his career. He has also been president of multiple organizations. He is a leader in his Jewish temple. Jerry is seventy years old but he does not look a day over sixty. When I asked him, “When are you planning to retire?” He said, “I’m not planning on it.” But what struck me most about Jerry is his enthusiasm for life.

Mark Twain once said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Often as we grow older, we think we have lived the best of our lives. But the secret of staying young and full of vitality is to recognize our best is yet to come. Instead of sitting around talking about the “good ‘ol’ days,” we must look for fresh opportunities for God to use us.

Psalm 92:14 says, “They will still bear fruit in old age; they will stay fresh and green.” Isaiah 40:31 tells us when we put our hope in the Lord, He renews our strength; He gives us more energy and makes us vibrant and alive. Psalm 103:5 says, God “He fills my life with good things.  My youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Remember, God wants to bless you, renew you and satisfy you with long life. Seek His ways and put your faith, hope and trust in Him and let Him renew every part of your life!

When I asked Jerry what advice he has for senior citizens, he said, “Find a purpose in your life and then get busy serving. In some way, give back to the community.” I could not agree more with Jerry.

This is what my friend Ron Paul is doing. Ron is a Vietnam veteran. He was exposed to Agent Orange – a chemical that was spread over the dense jungles of Vietnam in the intent to clear the ground. The chemical was so powerful that within days, the trees lost all their leaves, standing bare naked, clearing the ground so the soldiers could see where the Viet -Conges were hiding. Our veterans were told Agent Orange was safe but it had not been tested properly. Consequently, thousands of soldiers came back home to suffer horrible pain caused by a damaged nerve system. Ron told me some days the pain is so excruciating; he can hardly get up from bed! Twenty- five years ago, I met Ron in Hong Kong. But to this day, I have yet to hear a complaint come out of his mouth. On the contrary, he has always been funny and encouraging, and he is often helping others. Even when he describes his pain, he is careful not to blame the government or criticize the military. He has an attitude of gratitude. To top it off, Ron spends most of his days volunteering in his church, writing notes to missionaries and supporting ministries such as ours. Ron might have received some lemons in his life, but he has turned lemons into lemonade. So can you!

Do not focus on who did you wrong or how hard life has been for you. Instead, like Ron, talk about the great things you have experienced in life. Play with your kids. Be fun and witty to be around. Share your experience and knowledge with someone so they can learn from your mistakes without paying the price you paid to learn. Be a mentor.

This is what my father does. My Dad is eighty-one years old but he is always surrounded by young people. He lived a tough life. My mother died when Dad was in his twenties. We were four brothers. Knowing that he would not be able to care for us without mom, he took us to a Christian orphanage. He was allowed to visit us only a couple of times a year, but he came to visit every chance he could.

As I grew older, I went on to college and left the country to do missions work around the world. My Dad and I lost touch. Dad never harbored bitterness or resentment toward anybody. After sixteen years, I went in search of my Dad. I found him amongst the billion people in India, travelling on a train. What a reunion that was! I picked him up and announced to the packed train, “Attention, people! This is my Dad. I’m meeting him after sixteen years!” The whole compartment erupted in joy, clapping their hands. Dad and I both had tears in our eyes.

What is great about my Dad is he can always be found surrounded by young people. He listens to them, encourages them, and prays for them, and counsels them. He has never been a public figure. But he has been a mentor to hundreds of young people who have impacted millions. No matter how old you are, you can impact others too. Start now.

Do you have an unreconciled relationship with your loved one? Be like my Dad. Do not get discouraged and bitter. Do your best to keep a good attitude. You are not worthless because you made some mistakes or someone left you. Society may call you “old” but in the eyes of God, you’re “gold!” You still have more in your future than all the failure in your past. Never let failures define you. They are simply reminders not to walk that road again.

Isaiah the Prophet reminds us, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19, The Message) I am here to declare over you that your best days are right ahead of you. At age eighty-five, Caleb claimed his mountain.  What do you believe God for in your life right now?

Friend, do not live the rest of your life recalling regrets. Talk about your victories.  Share how you overcame life’s battles. Tell a struggling generation, that life is not perfect, but they are going to make it. Get busy serving somewhere. Be a person of inspiration. Be someone people can look up to and respect.

Long ago, a mentor told me, “Great it is to dream the dream when you stand in youth by the starry stream... but a greater thing is to fight life through, and say in the end, the dream is true.” Friend, dreams have no expiration date. You may start late, but you can finish strong!

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Native Missionaries Transforming Lives

I cannot thank you enough for the friendship and partnership we have in spreading the message of Hope through our Lord. You are a vital part of everything that happens through this ministry. My team and I pray for you and your success, every day.

God is doing a marvelous thing in the mission fields of Asia. It is taking place because of a combination of three things. Our God, the Native Missionaries and You! Our co-workers on the ground are winning people to the Lord, everywhere they go. God is healing, saving, and restoring people into His Kingdom. Let me share with you their impact on the mission field of Asia.

Rebecca started to work as a trapeze artist at the age of eleven in order to support her mother. One day she had an accident. She fell without a safety net and shattered hundreds of bones. By the miraculous healing power of God, she was saved and healed. Later, she came to our Mission Training Center.  We poured the love of God into her. Today, Rebecca leads our Life Lessons Radio teaching millions of people. 

David grew up in an orphanage in India. In his village, there was no college he could attend. Later, the Lord opened doors for him to go to a Bible School where he graduated with flying colors. Thirty years later, Pastor David and his men have planted hundreds of churches and thousands of lives have been transformed by his ministry.

Native Missionaries like Rebecca and David are like ground soldiers in a war. They endure the hardship, are beaten, persecuted, and some are killed, but they continue faithfully. They are equipped with the local language and culture. Their testimony in the local context speaks volumes to the people. Native Missionaries cost only $120-$250 a month depending on their location and the size of their family. Will you prayerfully consider partnering with one of them? Together with your family, friends, associates, or business, you can be the vital lifeline for one of these life changers. When you do, you begin to inherit their fruits in the Gospel.

Let me remind you how much your prayers and partnership means to us. None of what we do is possible without your love, encouragement, and support. Here is what the Word of God says about you. “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25 NIV). We are praying for you to prosper in your body, mind, spirit, and soul!

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

7 Mother's Day Secrets

The curious angel asked, “Whatcha doin’, God, working a puzzle?”  “No,” God answered, smiling, “I’m making a family.”  The idea was interesting, and the curious angel began asking questions, “A family… sure are a lot of parts.  What are the big pieces?”  “Those are the fathers.”  “Aren’t they too large?”  “No, they have to be strong.  They work hard and bear a lot of burdens.  They’re the image of the Heavenly Father and the security for their families,” said God.

“And the pretty pieces,” the angel asked, “what are they?”  “They are the mothers,” God answered.  “They sure are pretty, but fragile, too, huh God?”  God replied, “Don’t let their looks deceive.  They are small and pretty, but most of them are stronger than men.  You see, mothers need to look pretty, but they are strong inside.  Their greatest strength is their love and their tenderness.  They love ugly men and runny-nose babies.”

“What are the little pieces?”  “They’re the children,” God answered.  “They make the families complete.  Fathers and mothers conceive the little children, but I give them a soul.” 

“I hope it works,” the angel sighed.  “It has to,” God said.  “Mothers keep the family together.”

I pray that every mother will feel loved, honored and appreciated as we celebrate “Mothers Day.”  Here are seven things every mother must know.

1.  Embrace your purpose as a mother.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”  Remember, you are not God’s adult; you’re His child.  God knows you and He is absolutely crazy about you.  He has called you to be a helper.  You’re chosen to raise royal men and women of God.

2. You’re beautiful; inside and out.  Surrounded with dirty laundry, messy house and runny noses it is hard to feel beautiful.  But God put true beauty inside of you.  You don’t have to perform; you ARE beautiful.  Everything God makes is first class!

3. You can forgive and forget.  I know many women who are caught in the past.  You may have been bruised, betrayed and wronged but do yourself a favor – forgive!  Until you let go of the past, God cannot open the great future ahead of you.  Focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong.

4. Your strength comes from God.  Isaiah tells us, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”  Do you feel weak, lonely and discouraged today?  Well you’re the best candidate to receive God’s strength.  The Scriptures says, “My strength is made perfect in (your) weakness.”

5. See the big picture.  When you feel your emotions rising, ask yourself; is it a 5 minute, 5 hour or 5 year problem?  Go easy on the first two and focus on the long term.  “Live like you’re dying,” as one country song goes.  If you had six months to live, what would be your perspective in life?  Would you get so easily offended?  Would you hold onto hurt, bitterness and anger?

6. Invest in yourself.  What brings you joy and pleasure?  What makes you laugh?  Sometimes you are so focused on taking care of others you forget to take care of yourself.  Stop Mom!  Take care of yourself too -- guilt free! 

7. Enjoy this moment.  Too many Moms are either stuck on yesterday or dreaming about the future.  Like children, God wants us to live in the present.  Enjoy the little footsteps you hear running towards you.  Savor on the complements your family gives you.  Have fun doing the chores that need to be done.  Remember, the season you’re in will not last forever.  What you choose to do at this moment will determine what kind of memories you’ll have to look back on. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

God Sees the Best in You

A water bearer in China had two large pots hung on the ends of a bamboo pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself because this crack in my side causes water to leak all the way back to your house."

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Friend, each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them.
I meet too many people around the world who feel God is not pleased with them. They feel weak, unloved and unworthy of God’s love and blessings. Yet, nothing is more real than God’s love, forgiveness and mercy. He doesn’t go around with a stick waiting for us to make a mistake; instead He commands angels to carry around buckets of blessings for us.

The Bibles says, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him (2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV).” That means He’s scanning for our hearts and when He finds one, He dumps a load of blessing on that person to advance His Kingdom on earth.

One of the things that keeps us from being our best is the nagging, condemning voices that play like a broken record, over and over in our mind. I was just talking to a friend the other day and she said, “Sandy, I’m afraid my life is falling apart. I think I’ve made too many mistakes. I don’t want to end up in a homeless shelter.” I realize these are real fears and I don’t make light of her feelings. But I told her what I’m telling you today. God is not mad at you; He’s greatly in love with you. If you can see it from His perspective, you’ll know how much He loves you! He always has; always will.

We’re familiar with the story of the prodigal's son in the Bible. The youngest son spends all his inheritance in unrighteous living. One day sitting in a pig pen he decides to return to his father’s house. To prepare for his first conversation, he drafts a script in his mind. The son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son."But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate." (Luke 15:21-23 NIV)

The Scripture says, “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20 NIV) This is the only picture of God running in the Bible. What is He running to – a saint, a prophet, a religious man? No, no, no. God is running to a broken man who acknowledges his wrongs and decides to change. Instead of getting angry, He told his servants to bring out the royal robe, a ring and sandals. This is the greatness of our God.

No matter what we’ve done, God loves and forgives you. He knows your weakness, but He also knows your value. He sees not the way you are but the way you can be. Be confident, knowing that God sees only the best in you. He has a plan for you higher than you think. You’re His prized treasure. You’re the apple of His eyes. You cannot do anything in life to disown His love. He does not have the capacity to give up on you, so why should you give up on yourself?

Have you ever been to a little league games? There may be dozens of little boys playing in the field but your eyes are fixed on your little son. No matter how bad he does, you jump with excitement if your son barely touches the ball. Only you know what you do if your son scores! Religion teaches us otherwise, but that’s the way our Heavenly Father rejoices over us. He doesn’t keep count of our mistakes and faults. Instead, He highlights our achievements.

Friend, accept God’s unconditional love in to your life. You may have a few cracks in your pot, but you cause the beautiful flowers to bloom. You may have made a few wrong choices, but God’s mercy will give you another royal start. There’s nothing you can do to diminish your value. Stop listening to the negative voices in your mind. Lift up your head and accept His unwavering love for you.

God only sees the best in you!

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