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Friday, December 18, 2015

As You Grow…

Life can often be a revealing, enlightening and sometimes brutal teacher.
You don’t only find out who your “real supporters” are when things are bad, but also when things are good.

As we strive to grow and better our own lives, some people aren’t capable of continuing on your journey with you.

Case in Point:
I am reminded of my former fiance’. Although I loved him, he wanted to remain in his small town, among familiar surroundings and familiar people. He had no desire to travel, advance his education or share new life experiences or adventures.

WHEREAS…I advanced in my career, traveled the nation – even internationally to Nigeria, Amsterdam, the Bahamas and Hawaii, relocated to another state, competed in state-wide competitions and sought new adventures, i.e. skiing and white-water rafting. Although I still have the highest regard for him, I simply “outgrew him.”

This process is not good or bad...it just is. There are so many people that I care for deeply whose lives have gone a different direction than mine. Although we were kindergarten classmates, High School best friends or even college Alumni, we no longer have dreams, goals or experiences in common.

Another twist on this…Some people may outgrow you!

Case in Point:
I have a dear friend who I connected with at church several years ago. He had come to Nashville as a medical intern working on his residency at the medical school here. Since I was a “doctor wannabee,” his journey was exciting to me. I assisted him anyway I could. We also worked closely together in ministries at church. I felt like we were “kindred spirits.”

However, after he graduated, he got a prestigious job in another state. Eventually, he was appointed as a Medical Director in yet another state, as well as several other national appointments. I have to humbly accept the fact that “he has outgrown me!”

Although I am so proud of him and still consider him a dear friend, his education, expertise, opportunities and experiences have exceeded my own. 

What’s interesting is that this will happen the more you grow and deepen your relationship with God. You will no longer have things in common with your former friends, even some family members. The Lord will take you places that will amaze you…places you won’t be able to explain or even understand.

God is working on us daily…to mold us, develop us and grow us into being who He created us to be. We will no longer think the same, speak the same, feel the same or act the same. Our new priority and focus is now on God, trusting and being obedient to Him. We will discover that, as we grow closer to Him, we are "outgrowing this world." 

The Bible says:
Romans 12:2 (NKJV):
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Isaiah 49:1 (NIV):
…Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
2 Peter 3:18 (NKJV):
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
Luke 2:52 (NIV):
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV):
7 …train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Memorable Quotes:
“You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” – Marianne Williamson
“Growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional.”
“You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that inspire you to rise higher, people that make you better. Don’t waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.” – Joel Osteen
"Like wildflowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.”
“Anyone that encourages intellectual, emotional, artistic or spiritual growth is worth keeping. Don’t let them go.”
“I’m attracted to people who want to see me grow.”
“I will never turn down my ambition because someone else is uncomfortable with the volume.”
“We find comfort among those who agree with us. Growth, among those who don’t.”
“Don’t you dare shrink yourself for someone else’s comfort . Do not become small for people who refuse to grow.”
“I only grow apart from people who don’t grow.”
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Align yourself with people that you can learn from, people who want more out of life, people who are Stretching and Searching and Seeking some higher ground in life.” - Les Brown

However, we can rest assured that…We will never outgrow God and God will NEVER outgrow us.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

“I’ll Pray for You”…Is That It?

It is amazing how quickly we respond to people during death, illness or unfavorable outcomes in life with:

“I Will Pray For You.”

However, it appears that this is where it ends. No visits. No texts. No calls. No cards. No expressions of assistance. NOTHING.

As I continue to manage health issues, this statement is becoming vivid for me. I appreciate the prayers. Why even James 5:16 (NKJV) says: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

I analyze myself about this because I have been very guilty of it in the past…before my own health challenges.

I DID pray… But did I do anything more beyond that?  No, I sadly admit. But I sure did put two “gold stars” on my HEAVEN-BOUND passport. I felt so proud of doing my "Christian Duty." 

Now that I find myself on the other end of the spectrum, I know that I could have done more….and simply didn’t.

I reflect on all of my excuses:
“I’m so busy.” 
“My job and family life are so hectic.”
“I don’t want to bother them.”
“They probably are overwhelmed with visitors and family.”
“I am sure the church is meeting their needs.”

Currently, I am more deliberate about sending cards, emails or texts, calls as well as praying more intensely for others.

I now live by this quote:
“Your greatest test is when you are able to bless someone else while you are going through your own storm.”

It doesn’t minimize my “storm,” but it does help me keep mine in prospective.

The Bible says:
Colossians 4:2 (NIV):
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV):
Pray without ceasing,
Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV):
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Memorable Quotes:
Sometimes saying, "I will pray for you" isn't enough. Sometimes we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
"Get on your knees and pray then get on your feet and work."- Gordon B. Hinckley
“Don’t ask God to guide your steps if you are not willing to move your feet.”
“I’ll pray for you. Because it is so much easier than actually doing anything for you, but still makes me feel like a good person.” - unknown
“YOU need to take action if you want things to change. Praying without action is not productive.”
“You pray for the hungry and then you feed them. This is how prayer works.” – Pope Francis
"In your morning prayers each day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children." - M Russell Ballard
“Often the answer to our prayer does not come while we are on our knees, but while we are on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us.” - Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“Actions trump Good Intentions.” – Janette McGowen
“Action speaks louder than prayer.”
“A single act of kindness shown towards another is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”
“Pray until something happens. Prayer is not passive. It is the hardest work we will ever do.”
“We must not only say our prayers; we must also live them."

As we continue to continue to pray deeply and fervently for each other, we should all strive to “walk what we pray.”