Building People. Spreading Hope.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Let Your Light Shine

Light has a tremendous effect on people. When we encounter darkness, our instinct is to turn on the light. The tiny flicker of a flame is mightier than centuries of darkness in a cave. Light doesn’t just illuminate, it also brings life.

As a Christian, we’re called to be the salt and light of the world. Therefore, we’re at our best when we’re sharing our light in the dark. In a brightly lit room, a flashlight has little to no impact. However, the same flashlight used in the dark brings illumination and much needed guidance. Like the moon, we don’t have any light of our own but when we reflect the Light of Jesus, we cast a long shadow of hope in the lives of people surrounded by darkness.

Recently, I was on a mission trip to China. The people there have lived under oppressive communist rules for decades. We went to China to bring the Light of the Gospel to China’s 1.3 billion people. Our team had daily activities like visiting underground churches to encourage the persecuted believers. We delivered Bibles to those who didn’t have any. We touched, held, and played with disabled orphan children who have no hope of a bright future. It was great to shine our light in dark situations.

When we were getting ready to leave our hotel for the airport, I told our driver to give me a couple of minutes. Everyone thought I had forgotten something in the hotel. Instead, I ran to one of the restaurants where we ate quite regularly. It was earlier than lunch time so the restaurant workers were quite surprised to see me. I called for the owner of the restaurant, the cook, and the waitresses. They were getting nervous. I told them that we were Christians. I was there to tell them how grateful our team was for their hospitality and kindness. I thanked each and every person, shook their hands, and hugged the young people. They almost had tears in their eyes. Romans 2:4 says that the “Goodness of God leads people to repentance.” We were able to shine our light for Jesus and that illuminated their lives a little brighter.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” This is where many Christians are not bearing much fruit in producing new converts. We think only the pastor or the clergy has the right or the authority to preach Christ to others. Yes, we may have a pulpit to share the Good News with the audience. However, Christians in marketplace have much more power, authority, and influence on people than any minister on the church pulpit.

So how can we shine our light effectively? Most of the time, people pay closer attention to our actions than our words. When we are at work and everybody is bad-mouthing the company, we can shine our light by being grateful for the job we have. When a fellow employee is spreading false rumors about us, we can be the light by not retaliating. When the commissions check that you worked so hard for goes to another sales person, we can shine our light by taking the high road and ask God to pay us back. At home, when things are stressed and everybody is on the edge, we can shine our light by going with the flow and overlooking an offense. We can certainly go to the nations of the world and preach Jesus with our words but our actions, wherever we are, will most likely produce more of a result than our words.

Jesus was the ultimate preacher of the Gospel. He spoke to thousands. People came from all over the place to hear Him teach. However, the most effective sermon He ever preached was not with His words but by laying down His life. We too have the same capacity to shine our light when we reach out to the people God placed in our lives. When we’re living a Godly life at home, we’re shining our light for Jesus. When you have integrity and honesty in your business, you’re being a bright light. When you empower Build International Ministries to take the Gospel to the nations, you’re being the light of the world. When we love our enemies and forgive them, we’re shining our light. Friend, let us be effective, powerful, and influential Christians by shining our light in dark. When we reflect Jesus with our lives, multitudes will come to know Him. Shine your light and remember it works best in the dark!

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NAS).

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Take Time to Think

Our lives are so automated that we barely have time to think. For the most part, we’re like robots going through the motions of life. Routine is good but if we get too bogged down to living without thinking, we will never live up to our full potential.

One of the enemy’s tactics is to keep us so preoccupied in the present that we don’t have any time to reflect on the future. This is one of the reasons why many people miss heaven. Don’t misunderstand me. Human beings are creatures of habit and if we have good habits, it can work to our advantage. But it will do us all good if we take time to quieten our minds and think on a regular basis, or even daily.

NASA claims that one supernova blasts out more energy in less than the sun is expected to emit over its entire life span. A single explosion can outshine an entire galaxy. Imagine that! God flung the sun and galaxies into place. When we think, we align ourselves with God’s explosive energy. We also allow God’s surpassing creativity to work within us. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, we activate the ultimate supernova of God’s creative power working in, and through, us to change the world.

Back in 1903, women only wore long dresses and they weren’t even allowed to vote. On trips to New York City, Mary Anderson often traveled by streetcar. On one of these trips, Mary noticed that drivers would often get out of their seats to wipe the windshield so they could see better. This put her mind to thinking and searching for a better way.

After making many attempts, Mary designed a manually operated lever inside the streetcar that, when pulled, would swing an arm over the windshield and – swoosh – allow the driver to see again! Her windshield wipers had rubber blades attached to a spring-loaded arm. It solved the problem of a clear windshield in rain and snow. At first, people made fun of her device but when Mary Anderson patented her device in 1905, they stopped laughing. Now computerized, we can adjust windshield wipers to suit our needs. Mary Anderson gave us a great invention because she took the time to think.

One of the global assets America has is innovation. We love to come up with new and better ideas of solving an old problem in a new or more efficient way or to simply create something new. How about you? Are you taking time out to think of creative ways to energize your relationships and give your children a brighter future? What about your business? Are you just manufacturing, selling, installing, and servicing? Or are you taking time to think? If we take time to meet a client’s need in a creative way, we’ll get more out of our business. Remember, the devil drives but God leads. Are you paying attention to His guidance?

Jesus was a creative thinker. He wasn’t trying to be different but He was always in tune with the Holy Spirit. Once, a blind man was brought in front of him. The Bible says, “He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes” (John 9). It was a good thing that the man was blind or else Jesus may not have had a chance to perform this miracle. Seriously, Jesus said He only did things that His Father told Him to do! Truth is, the Father is still trying to tell us things but maybe we’re too busy to listen? When we hear God’s out of the box solutions, we write it off thinking, “Nobody will buy that.” However, just the opposite is true.

Friend, today I want to challenge you to take time to think. Establish a regular habit to hear from God. Not just early in the morning or at a quiet place by the lake during vacation, but stay open to hearing His voice throughout the day. There’s a better way and God wants to give it to you to propel you to your next level. Stop long enough to think and expect God to give you innovation like Mary Anderson so that you too can transform your marriage, business, and future. I love you and I’m praying for you!

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (Proverbs 4:23 New Century Version).

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Confront Your Fear with Faith

Fear is a universal disease. It has crippled millions from reaching their full potential. When we entertain fear more than our faith, we make ourselves “grasshoppers” in our own sight. Faith pleases God. Faith is rewarded. Faith inspires!

Every one of us is afraid of something. Fear and faith work in exactly the same way. Faith produces life while fear brings death. If we don’t face our fears and overcome them, then we’ll live our lives like a bird with her wings clipped off. Fear is driving a Nascar with brakes on. Fear robs us of our future. Faith on the other hand liberates people. Faith inspires others to believe God for more. Faith changes circumstances around.

When we choose faith instead of fear, like a magnet we attract the blessings of God to overtake us. Faith glorifies God while fear activates the work of the enemy.

Nick was a strong, hard-working young man who worked on a train crew. One summer evening, he was left behind by his co-workers when they were let off work an hour early to celebrate a foreman’s birthday. Nick was locked in a refrigerator boxcar. Nick panicked and began to shout for help and bang on the walls until his fists were bloody. He was a chronic worrier.

Fear gripped Nick’s heart. He thought to himself, “If I can’t get out, I’ll freeze to death here.” With every passing hour, every ounce of hope began to drain from Nick. Certain of his impending death, he began to carve on the wooden floor with a pocket knife. He wrote, “It’s so cold here. Body is getting numb. I can’t sleep. These may be my last words.”

The next morning Nick’s co-workers found him dead in the boxcar. They read Nick’s last words on the floor. The autopsy results revealed that Nick had died of hypothermia. A little investigation proved that the refrigeration unit wasn’t even operative. The temperature in the boxcar never dropped below fifty degrees. Nick had allowed fear to rob his life. This may be an extreme case of fear but people lose their families, jobs, businesses, and health based on fear.

I know people who are afraid of dying of some sickness. They know so much about their sickness that they can write an encyclopedia about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about getting information and being educated on the subject. However, if we research more about our sickness than the promises of God to heal us, then we’re allowing the sickness to linger. Fear is a real thing but faith can move mountains! You can chose fear or you can chose faith. Faith is going to get you out of jail.

In the Bible, there’s a story of a widow (1 Kings 17:1-16). There was a great famine in the land and God commanded Prophet Elijah to move to Zarephath where the widow was supposed to take care of him. The only problem was the widow didn’t get the memo. When Elijah asked the widow for some water and bread to eat, the woman panicked. Elijah said to her, “Do not fear.” The widow obeyed God’s command and fed His servant. True to His Word, God provided not only for Elijah, but also the widow’s bin of flour never exhausted and the jar of oil never ran dry. What happened? Like all of us, this widow started off with fear but she put more faith in God’s Word than her fears. We too must do the same thing.

Here’s how I overcome fear. After flying around the world for decades, I still get a little fearful every time I step into an airplane. I have thoughts running in my mind of how there have been planes crashed in collision or some sort of other midair disaster. The images of burning planes begin to take over my mind, just then I realize what’s going on. I change the channel on what I’m thinking about. Our mind is like a TV and our will is like the remote control. You can chose what’s playing on your mind by simply changing the channel. Instead of fear, I change it to a victory channel. Every time you’re confronted with fears, replace them with faith. Fear says, “You’ll never have enough.” Faith says, “You’ll have more than enough.” Fear knocks, “You’ll die of your sickness.” Answer with faith saying, “I’ll live and not die and proclaim the works of the Lord.” Fear will tell you that your business is going under but choose faith and say, “Thanks be unto God, who always causes me to triumph in Christ.” A Nepalese proverb says, “The tiger in our mind is bigger than the tiger in the jungle.” Don’t let your imaginary tiger rob your treasures. F E A R is False Education About Reality. Friend, you can have fear or faith. I’m praying that you will choose faith!

“Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT).

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Stay Focused and Achieve More

Much of our productivity and purpose is lost when we get sidetracked by the small things that don’t produce big results. When we learn to stay focused on the task in front of us, then we’ll finish our job early, listen better, and solve problems faster.

Many believe that by multi-tasking they can get more done in less time. However, just the opposite is true. When we try to do too many things at once, it usually takes longer and there’s often a higher chance of error in what we try to accomplish.

Generally speaking, women tend to be better at multi-tasking then men. God wired our brains differently. I’m not trying to stereotype but women tend to handle more details at once better than men. Of course, if we can do more without sacrificing quality then it is commendable. However in most cases, it is better to stay focused on one job at a time. When we engage in multiple functions at once such as texting and driving, we may even risk our lives!

One of the best ways to stay focused is to make daily, weekly, monthly, even yearly goals. When we create a schedule, we’re essentially telling our time where to go. When we have a clear roadmap of what we need to do, and stay focused on chipping away at it throughout the day, we’ll see better results in accomplishing our goals. In today’s society, we’re busier than ever but not necessarily producing more. If we don’t have a “to do list” we can easily be carried away by checking our Facebook status, posting Instagram pictures, and phone calls from time-wasters.

Taking on one task at a time is effective. For example, if you have a pile of dishes, laundry, and carpet to vacuum, it is better to first tackle the job you like the least. When we start a project, we have the maximum energy and our body, and mind, is not as tired as it would be later in the day. Finishing a task gives you a sense of accomplishment and that motivates you to take on the next task with a better attitude. At work, we should try to attack the job that brings the most reward. If you’re in sales, you should be most focused on making new sales instead of getting bogged down in policies, procedures, and keeping your desk organized. If we’re in administration, we should be focused on managing our top producers, accounts, legalities, production, and customer relationships. Staying focused on most rewarding task will pay off in the long run.

In the Scriptures, even Jesus stayed focused on the task at hand. He didn’t panic at the urgent. He stayed faithful in doing one thing at a time. This is exemplified John 11:5-6. Jesus “delayed” two days longer in the village where He was when He got news that Lazarus was sick unto death. However, He understood the principle of staying focused. When Jesus got done in the village and arrived at Lazarus’ house, his sister Martha lamented, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days! Jesus didn’t panic. He called Lazarus out of the grave! In the case of Jesus, staying focused brought greater glory to God by raising the dead.

Could it be we’re wasting valuable time, effort, and energy by trying to do too many things at once? I know people whose schedules are so packed that they don’t even have time for their families or time to relax and rejuvenate. They are busy like a bee and one day they wake up to find out that their honey is gone. May I recommend that a better way is to stay focused on your work but also stay focused guarding your time with God and your family and friends? When we guard our time with God, we’re infusing power, innovation, and efficiency in our day. Friend, let us not shoot in the dark and do whatever comes on our way. If we’re to be excellent and efficient in what we do, then we have to be intentional about staying focused. You can’t do everything at once. Staying focused and doing one thing at a time will make us more productive, satisfied, and deliver greater rewards. I pray and declare that you’ll be more focused on God, family, relationships, and your health. Let’s stay focused and achieve more.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV).

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Speaking Your Way to Victory

Everyone loves a miracle! We marvel when we hear about God’s supernatural deeds turning an impossible situation around. Our attention is in high gear if the miracle has something to do with us. Truth is, we all have the capacity to create miracles.
This may sound arrogant but you have the same miracle working power as God did when He created our world and brought it into existence. He said, “Let there be light” and light came rushing in at 186,000 miles per second! When we align our words with God’s Word, we unleash a force at the speed of light to turn our negative circumstances around.
Our words have the capacity to prophesy doom or predict victory. Years ago, I lived and ministered in the tiny country of Nepal. Everywhere you go; it has breathtaking views of the tall Himalayan range. When I lived there, it was against the law to share Christ with the people from Hindu and Buddhist backgrounds. At the time, many were serving up to a six year prison term for witnessing. I was with a friend in a remote region sharing the Gospel in a high school when I felt a tap on my back. It was a civilian police man. He said, “You’re under arrest. Come with me.” I was young and inexperienced. Nobody taught me what to do when you’re being hauled off to prison for preaching the Gospel. I was trembling with fear. Along with me was a teenager who had already spent two years in a district prison where we were being taken for our crime. I didn’t feel very adequate but trying to be of encouragement to my younger partner in crime, I began to speak faith-filled words of being set free. At that time, I was just learning to confess God’s Word over negative circumstances. With fear and trembling, I began to say, “Your Word says that you set the captives free. Thank you Lord for setting us free. You got Peter and Silas out of jail now it’s our turn.” I can’t emphatically say if I really believed in those words but as I spoke, faith came. Five hours later, when we got to the prison, the police chief let us go free without spending one night in jail. We should have been rotting in that prison for six years but our faith-filled words brought about a miracle and set us free. Once we stepped out of the prison gate, we ran like the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt!
Are you facing an impossible situation in your finances? Are you battling a sickness or an addiction? Do you need a job or a spouse? Do you believe that God will save a loved one? Do you have a legal battle hanging over your head? There’s hope! If you’re honoring God with your life, you have the power to release God’s creative force over your circumstances. Speak words in the direction you want your life to go. Our words can bless our future or they can curse it. Too many people are speaking defeat over their lives. Don’t let that be you. When you’re feeling weak, say, “I’m strong and full of health.” When you’re feeling uncertain, say, “I have the mind of Christ. I’m confident and complete in Him.” When you’re feeling alone, say, “Jesus has promised never to leave me nor forsake me.” When you’re struggling to pay your bills or go on a vacation with your family, say, “My God shall supply all my needs.” When we utter faith-filled words, we create a world we desire to live in. Positive confession of God’s Word releases unseen forces to work on our behalf. Unfortunately, negative words are also self-filling prophecy. Let’s choose life with the words we speak!
The Scripture says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” Notice it doesn’t say “Let the redeemed of the Lord think so or wish so.” He will not do what we can do for ourselves. If we want God to turn the situation around, we’ve got to do the talking. Words are like seeds. Whatever you plant, you’ll harvest in plenty. Don’t use words to describe your situation. Use your words to change your situation. You ask, “Sandy, can my words really have that much power over my life?” Think about it! How did you get saved? Did you not believe in your heart and say a bunch of words (sinner’s prayer) that you probably didn’t even understand at that time? If your words can keep you out of eternal jail, don’t you think it can also bring heaven down on earth? I challenge you today to speak only faith-filled words. If you can’t say anything positive, it’s better not to say anything at all. You ask, “How long do I have to speak faith-filled words?” Until you get what you want! Yes, it’s that’s crucial! Friend, you can move God to act on your behalf. You can speak your way to victory. Say so!
“A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire” (James 3:5 The Message).
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