Be a Trailblazer

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All of our actions begin in the imagination. We think it, and then act on those thoughts.

I was recently working on a project that I haven’t worked on in quite some time. I found myself amazed at the things culture has brought into play since my last time being involved. Quite a few times I found myself stepping back, shaking my head and wondering why no one else was seeing it for what it is: attacks from the enemy.

There’s a war on for our minds. Our thoughts. The enemy wants to convince us and change our minds about what we believe because he knows that once our minds are changed, our actions will follow.

God has equipped us with the tools to take our thoughts captive. If it doesn’t line up with scripture – can it. Throw it out with the rest of the junk this culture tries to feed us.

The world will try to tell you that you’re less than who Christ says you are. It wants to beat you down and make you change your mind so that you can then change someone else’s mind about what or Who you believe.

Casting down imaginations (carnal reasonings of the mind) and every high minded opinion raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. (2 Corinthians 10 MSG)

Our Master is Christ. He’s alive in us and speaks today as He always has to His followers. Our tool is the Bible. Hold every opinion against the Light of Scripture. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean we should be doing it.

In fact, observe the masses and go the other direction. Do the opposite. Don’t be afraid to be different. You just might be the spark that your world of influence needs to fan a flame.

Together as Christians we walk along this uncommon road with the hope that those we walk past while moving upstream may see something beyond an oddity and turn their lives to join us in our progression of faith towards eternal glory.

Don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go out there and do something remarkable. Guard your mind and be the change you want to see. Someone around you is waiting for you to find the courage.

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Obedience With A Cost

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Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all. – Exodus 5:23

Have you ever felt like you have been obedient to the Lord for something He called you to do and all you get are more roadblocks?

Yeah?

This is the way Moses felt. When Moses went to tell Pharaoh to release the people because God said so, Pharaoh simply got angry and made the people make bricks without straw. Moses caught the blame for this from the people. Moses was just learning what obedience really means in God’s Kingdom. You see Moses had not even begun to release plagues upon Egypt. He hadn’t even gotten started yet in his calling, and he was complaining about his circumstances. There were many more encounters with Pharaoh to come, and many more plagues with no deliverances in sight.

Why would God tell Moses that He is going to deliver them and not do it?

It was all in timing. God never said when He was going to deliver. He just said He would. In the next chapter, we find Moses arguing with God about not being capable of the job God had called him to:

But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and He commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt Exodus 6:12-13. (Emphasis mine)

Do you get the feeling God was losing His patience?

God had a good reason for His delays. He said, “And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it” (Ex. 7:5). God not only wanted the people of Israel but also the Egyptians to know Him. It would be the greatest show of God’s power on earth.

God often causes delays in our lives that we cannot understand. Sometimes it seems our obedience is not getting rewarded. Jesus said He learned obedience through the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). Imagine that – Jesus having to learn obedience. What does that say for you and me?

Sometimes God’s delays are simply because He wants more glory in the situation, more recognition, more Christ-likeness in you and me through greater patience and obedience. Faint not, for the promise may yet come.

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Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, with added emphasis by Christy

#Hebrews #Exodus #BibleStudy #Devotion #amwriting #Faith #LifeWithChrist #Moses #Jesus #christyrawlsDOTcom

Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence – Jenni Catron

Clout.

We all have it.

Your clout is your God-given power and influence. You are uniquely made by God. When we discover and unleash our God-given influence – our clout – we position ourselves to lead with passion and purpose that DEFY our personal limitations. Defies it. Goes beyond. Soars way past anything we could ever imagine in our finite minds! Whew! That’s exciting!

I’m thrilled about a book that came out this week called Clout by Jenni Catron:

 

 

Clout: Discover Your God-Given Influence

 

Jenni’s leadership is outstanding. She is the Executive Director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee where she leads the staff and ministries of 5 churches that has grown exponentially under her leadership. Her writing is full of heart and shows her desire to help us all grow exponentially! I was deeply encouraged. My book is covered in highlights.

I love what Jenni said here: “One of the most important lessons we have to learn about unleashing our God-given influence is that it is not simply for our benefit. It is for God’s plan and purpose to be accomplished through us for the blessing of others.”

 

Right. On.

Each of us has the ability to change the world around us.

We all are capable in influencing others.

We all want to matter. We all want to know that our lives are making a positive impact on the world around us.

 

There are some common traps which short-circuit our clout. Jenni discusses seven clout killers and teaches us through scripture how to avoid these traps:

  • Confronting Fear
  • Understanding the Impact of Jealousy
  • Squeezing Out Scarcity
  • Identifying Insecurity
  • Purging Pride
  • Relinquishing Control

She doesn’t stop there. She goes on to share how we can cultivate our clout, making the most impact in our area of influence:

  • Discovering Your Identity
  • Developing Your Confidence
  • Defining Your Mission
  • Determining Your Passion

 

Thomas Nelson Books has graciously offered me a copy to give to one of you! And trust me, you will want to get in on this. The offer will end on Tuesday, January 28. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Wednesday, January 29. Enter to win by leaving a comment below. The book will be shipped directly from Thomas Nelson.

The Thomas Nelson Books team are amazing and they are giving away an iPad mini in celebration of Clout’s release! Here’s the link to the offer on the Clout website: go here

Don’t forget to leave a comment to win the book!

 

#discoverCLOUT #JenniCatron #Influence

 

 

 

 

Two Steps To Begin Using Influence Wisely

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Influence.

We all have it. We are impacting those around us all the time. This is a great thing when we learn to use the influence God has given us wisely. We start by learning the art of speaking and listening with these two steps:

1. We must listen in such a way that others love to speak to us.

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue..(James 1:19-21 MSG


How significant is listening? Listening is the fullness of hearing. It is possible to hear someone talk and not listen. In order to hear and listen, one must be paying attention. It’s so unnerving to talk to someone who isn’t listening. It quickly turns people off and turns them away. People love to talk to good listeners. James 1:19 in the NIV version says it this way: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Don’t make snap judgements. Don’t assume. First, listen well.

The world is in need of a Savior and there is only One. We must carry the Gospel message out to the world. We must hear those who are asking for help, we must listen to them to give them what they need. You have the Source of help. Are you listening?

2. We must speak in such a way that others love to listen to us.

She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26 HCSB

Her words are wise, gentle, and dripping with love. Wise words (not a smart mouth), spoken and motivated by the greatest gift of all (Love) is exactly the way Christ teaches us. The best way to do that is through compassion. If we first place ourselves in their shoes for a moment and think of all the ways God is loving and patient with us, how could we be any less with others? After all, it is only by the grace of God that we aren’t struggling in their area……. or that we once were and are no more.

God drove this truth home for me this week in a big way. Let’s word that in another way: God taught me a lesson this week. I was in the middle of several sticky situations and with some people who were dropping the ball in a big way. I was tempted to lose patience with them when I got that Holy tap on the shoulder that reminded me: God meets us ALL where we are. These people aren’t mature enough to handle this well, but they could be one day. Teach. Don’t preach. Once I walked that out, things ran more smoothly, and they walked away encouraged.

She delights to talk of the Word of God and does so motivated by love: the greatest gift. She is careful in WHAT she says and HOW she says it. 

How, when, what, and to whom I speak matters. Truth spoken in the wrong spirit of things can repel people AWAY from God rather than TO Him. Remember Job’s friends? This is where they went wrong. Overwhelmed and in agony with all he was suffering, Job was not comforted but rather condemned by his friends. While there were elements of truth in some of what they said, it was based on wrong assumptions. We must be careful of what we assume to be true in the lives of others. Be very careful of making snap judgments (I know I’ve made this point twice. It’s double important!)

The influence God has gifted us with should always be one that praises God and builds up people for His Kingdom.

POINTS TO PONDER: Influence is a gift. Am I faithful with my influence with those around me? Is my influence being used for HIS glory? Who am I being influenced by? Am I careful in what I say and how I say it…..when I say it, and to whom? Am I speaking words into people’s lives that are wise, gentle, and dripping with Love? Am I also doing this with my family?

May we all listen in such a way that others love to speak to us, and speak in such a way that others love to listen to us. May we be an influence on all those around us as our Jesus is. Let’s make an impact for HIM. Let’s make much of Jesus.

Trusting the turn-by-turns

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Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

We hear a lot about how so few are surrendering to following Christ radically. Giving up the throne and becoming second seems to be hard for a lot of people. Being willing to listen to God’s directions and doing it regardless of how ridiculous it sounds, is important. We all see people doing it. And, we all want to have that kind of closeness with God.

I don’t think it’s so much a matter of people not wanting to live this kind of life, as much as it’s about the mystery. It’s about the unknown. It’s mystical and scary, and there’s no control over the results of our choices. If we went to church on Sunday and got a list for the week….sort of a summary list of turn by turn directions. You know, the kind you get on your GPS where you can see a complete summary list ahead of time of all the turns you’ll make to get to your destination?

We would all follow God if we went to church and He gave us a complete list of to-dos. Even if they were crazy, we would do them. We don’t like the mystery of listening as we go. We want a complete list. We would even say and do crazy things if on the list God said, “On Monday, while you’re at the copy machine, your co-worker is going to walk by. Turn to her and say this. She’s going to cry, but that will only last a minute, and then she will be happy you told her that. Then, you will go and do this other thing and that will happen.”

It’s the unknown, unplanned, and not knowing that holds us up

We can read scripture and see the consequences of some of our choices, but in the day to day, we need to trust God for turn-by-turn directions. We need to listen to His voice as He says turn here, this is the way. It’s a beautiful thing to be going about your day and hear His directions this way. I’ve never regretted one time of listening to God no matter how crazy it sounded. Not one. Every single time, He had already gone ahead and prepared things for what He has me doing. But, we will always regret not listening and following His voice.

The cool thing about God is, He is always working out a solution. Everything He does is a solution. So, when we get off track He is more than willing to “recalculate” our wrong turns and help us get back on the road. God calls on us, we certainly can call on Him.

Let today be the day that you say Today, God is first. Radically. No matter what. Even in the crazy ridiculous…

A Boss or a Leader {Which one are you?}

Leaders remember: you’ve got to live it to lead it

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Just a short post today as I ponder leadership.

There is a difference between a boss and a leader…
Anyone can be bossy, but not everyone can be a leader

Leaders lead~~Bossy people are just bossy.

Leaders inspire, build up, and encourage~~Bossy people blame and tear down.

Leaders want others to succeed~~Bossy people walk in fear and jealousy.

Leaders see clearly that there is no “I” in team~~Bossy people see no “I” in team.

Leaders thrive on giving~~Bossy people snatch, take false credit, and think everyone is out to get them.

Leaders speak well of your accomplishments to others~~Bossy people belittle you and gossip.

Leaders make much of Jesus~~Bossy people need to be upfront and center with the spotlight on them.

When a leader sees someone younger in the faith making a mistake, they come alongside, teach in love, and keep it between them ~~~Bossy people see someone make a mistake, call it out and tell others about it. (whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9)

Leaders do this:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

Go. Inspire someone today. Encourage. Equip. Empower others to the attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ

Leaders: Remember, you’ve got to live it to lead it. A boss says “Go!” A leader says “Let’s Go!”

Is it ok to feel good about your accomplishments?

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Then God looked over all He had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31


GOD saw that His work was good.

We can sometimes feel guilty for feeling good about an accomplishment. This need not be so. Just as GOD felt good about His work, we can too…..when it is well done and God is pleased with it.

What are you doing that pleases both God and you?

Public Relations 101: the spiritual battle

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As we look at Luke 20:1-8, we see Jesus rocking it out at public relations as He always did. It’s Passion week at this point. Jesus has already made His triumphal entry at the end of Chapter 19. The air is thick with praise. The universe seemed ready to burst any minute with praise and worship over King Jesus.

Ever felt that way in worship? Like you’re just going to explode right on the spot with worship and you’ve just got to get it out? Jesus said if the people stopped their worship, the very stones would cry out! He is worthy and He will be praised, but, a rock isn’t going to have to take my place at worship. I love Him, and my praise will be done by me, amen and thank you very much. Lord Jesus, may I never miss and opportunity to tell You just how beautiful You are…

As He approached and saw the city of Jerusalem, He wept for her. I know something of the deep sadness that comes over you when you see someone who just can’t see what’s there as they reject what GOD has for their life; choosing a destructive way of life instead. Heartbreaking. I want everyone to know my Jesus and how it feels to be close to Him. It’s breathtaking.

Jesus went right to work. He was there for a reason, and He stayed on the planned path. First things first. He cleaned house. Ever felt like that? I know I have come home and seen a hot mess going on and had enough and I “cleaned house” like a banche….saying, I.have.had.enough.of.this. This party is o v e r. Jesus went into the temple and saw these people desecrating it by using it to make a profit. He threw them out! He is not playing around with this glory stuff. It’s Daddy’s house, and His glory. Done and done.

Lord, I pray there has never been (and never will be) a time that I have perverted your call on my life by profiting from it. I never want to be thrown out from Your presence. There are so many ways to do that. Ever seen GOD do something powerful and took the credit? Ever wanted to make a name for yourself, all in the name of working for The Lord? Ever tried to manipulate things so that someone sees you do what you did for The Lord and His people? And get mad when you think someone is doing a better job than you, or getting more attention than you…..all in the name of “serving The Lord”? Ever tried to manipulate a situation to make your life easier….on that committee?

Ever been led by fear that someone is trying to take your place and begin trying to discredit them?

That’s what the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders (a.k.a. the Sanhedrin) were trying to do. Jesus caught them sleeping on the job by allowing those things to take place in the temple. They were embarrassed and angry. They wanted to destroy Him. So, they did what any good committee would do: they marched themselves in and disrupted things. They made a scene. You know they were puffed up thinking they had Him right where they wanted Him because of the way they busted right in on that crowd and questioned His authority to throw the merchants out of the temple. They didn’t really care about the answer, they just wanted to arrogantly debate. Ever known someone like that…..who doesn’t really care one way or the other, they just want to fight?

As He often did, Jesus turned the attention back on them. Finding themselves in a no-win situation, they said they didn’t know the answer. Having caught His opponents in a trap made by their own hands, Jesus also refused to answer their question. What a genius!

What is our response to criticism and opposition? Do we anticipate it as the Bible says we should? Do we act as Jesus did? He remained calm and always addressed what was at the heart of the opposition instead of the behavior itself. He remained on the task of completing the mission here on earth.

When we are truly following Jesus, people will question our motives, attack our character, and ridicule the authority we have been given by GOD to serve Him and change lives here on earth. We need to do what Jesus did. We need to mimic Him through our patience, professing the Word of GOD, and stay committed to the task GOD gave us. We don’t need to get caught up and distracted by the emotions. I mean, that’s the real plan anyway….to get us distracted from what GOD has for us. It’s all a spiritual battle. All of it.


Let’s all just stay on task. Let’s live, lead, and love like Jesus, ok?

Miracles Come From Broken Things {Live and Lead Like Jesus Bible Study}

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Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over (Luke9:16-17)

The child gave what he had even though he knew it wasn’t enough to feed everyone. He didn’t know how it would work out; He just gave it to the planner. The disciples wanted to send the crowd away, but God had something big in mind. Jesus gave THANKS to God because He already had faith that God would provide for these people before it ever happened. Jesus kept on giving to the disciples as they kept giving to the people. Everyone ate (an estimated 15,000 including women and children!), were satisfied, and they had 12 basketfuls of leftovers! One for each disciple! God is concerned with feeding us the spiritual bread of life as well as the physical bread of life. What they thought of as meager at best, God used to multiply and bless to the thousands. A little of something in the hands of God is always more than enough.

The tasks ahead of you may seem overwhelming. What you have may seem really small too, but great things happen in the hands of Jesus and that includes us! Don’t give up! If we give to Jesus what we have…..no matter how small and helpless it may seem…..we will see God do marvelous things. God provides immeasurably more than we can imagine! Oh, to trust in His power and plan even though we can’t always see how it will work out! Time and time again, He will take what we have to offer and use it in miraculous ways. When He calls you to something He will carry you through it. Go to God as the source and provider of all things physical as well as spiritual.

And, if you think you’re too broken to live and lead like Jesus, throw that lie back to the pit where it came from and remember: Jesus broke the bread and it multiplied…..broken things in the hands of Jesus MULTIPLIES…RUNS…CLIMBS MOUNTAINS…GLORIFIES…BLESSES….AND BLOWS OUR MINDS!! God’s economy: Feeding 5,000 with one small basket of food. HE still multiplies today! Put GOD first and everything else follows.

Basic Concepts: God provides for all our needs. We are to share with those in need. Be humble to be big for God’s glory.

Prayer:
Father I thank You that, in Your hands, we have all we need and more! As we move deeper into this study, I thank You for the awesome ways You are going to put skin on these lessons for us! I thank You that You are the same God yesterday, today, and tomorrow and will always be performing miracles in us. Help us to remember that when we place ANYTHING into Your hands, miracles happen! May we trust that in Your power and Your plan even though we can’t always see how it will work out. You are more than enough! In Jesus name, Amen!

{Note: We are on day 2 of our online Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus. The group is sharing what GOD has laid on each of their hearts with this study, and things are hopping! If you want to join in on the excitement leave a comment telling me so and I’ll add you to my private Facebook group. There’s also an email study group. It’s not too late now to join, but it soon will be. Click on the Good Morning Girls button and check out the awesome ministry I am leading this Bible Study with}

How To Be #1 At Being #2

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Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28


It was an extremely busy day. I was at an appointment at a huge facility and the valet parking to enter the building was jammed. Tight. I looked around as I was handing my keys over and noticed the grim, busy, hard, impatient faces of everyone. Including the workers. The negative vibe was heavy and thick. My attempt at kindness was noticed, but overlooked. It had no effect. I went in for my appointment but all those people were on my mind, and I prayed. A little time passed, and I stepped outside that same area to get my vehicle, and boy oh boy what a difference! The change? One man. There was one, positive, loud (in a good way), smiling, jumping around helping and serving everyone, man. I watched as slowly all the faces changed. The air grew lighter as he was hopping around, smiling and working for everyone, including the other workers…..who were now doing the same. Smiles were everywhere. The sweetness I overheard him give to everyone he came in contact with was beautiful. He was contagious. He was spreading like wildfire through the place. And, then, just before getting into my vehicle, I heard the question, “Who is that man?” My eyes stung as the worker explained that he was a boss in another part of the building who had come by and noticed that they needed help….this isn’t even his job. Another gentleman overheard this and said, “Well, I’d like to work for him!” the worker agreed that he did too.

In 8 verses, Jesus explained what leading really is. It’s being a servant. It’s being a servant leader. You see, in serving, we lead. Want to be a leader? Be a servant. If we want to make a difference, we need to take the word of the Man who is the ultimate leader. The word “for” in our verse means, “in substitution”. Now, replace the word “many” for your name. Jesus didn’t come to be like the rulers of the world who dominate and lord their power over the people (verse 25). He came to serve and be the substitution for Christy, for you….for every person on the planet. He took our place. He did it for us. Our man of change that day at that office was indeed leading. It didn’t take long to notice that everyone around no longer went to the people who were the actual workers for direction. They went to the one serving the most. He saw there needed to be a change, and that change became him!

Be the change you want to see

That was a divine appointment for him that day. More difference was made than if he had walked by, noticed what was happening, and exercised his authority by having a stern talk with those workers. He led by serving. I’m sure, as a leader, he had a million other things to do that day but he chose his divine appointment instead. I’m grateful he did.

God is calling leaders to be about the business of encouraging, equipping, and empowering His people. He’s doing a thing. He has divine appointments for all of us and I don’t want to be like the priest who walked by that wounded man. I don’t want to be an example for everyone of what not to do.

We are never more like our Father than when we love and serve someone in His name


Just as those workers imitated my happy buddy and everything changed…..let’s do that. Think. Act. Do. Serve as though God has moved into the neighborhood…..our office….our church….our group….our friendships……our marriage…..our family…..our home. Let’s live as though the mic is always on and allow Him to use us to make a change.

Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also must love one another. 1 John 4:11

To be a true leader is to model after Jesus…..go to serve. In serving we lead. In serving, we become a great leader. In putting ourselves as #2, we become #1.

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