Tag Archives: Christ

My First Love

Success. Everyone wants to tell you how to get it. In the business world, companies that made it big want to tell you how to succeed—even if they are Christian. Recently, I have been struggling with the idea of success. A few months ago, I was doing all the things that everyone told me to do to be successful: I was doing my social media posts, I was writing blog posts, I was talking to people about my business, I was scheduling events. I had a business plan for 2015, a brand new calendar to write my new business stuff in, and a head full of steam. I was “hustling,” as a friend of mine and I started saying about ourselves.

love sky by winnond

image courtesy of winnond / freedigitalphotos.net

 

I planned a brief vacation with my mom, with full intent of “getting back to hustling” when I returned. I couldn’t work on vacation—I was in another country and wanted to be present with my mother. So I put away my cell phone, my blogging, and all the nice new habits I had acquired. When I returned, I picked up my cell phone…and some weird virus that left me mostly incapacitated for the month of November. Then my father died in early December, and I spent the rest of that month mourning and recuperating. I realized that I was exhausted. I had been doing a lot. But save for one week in November, I had forgotten how to BE.

The seven letters to the churches in Revelation are one of many lists of seven in the Bible that correspond to the seven spiritual gifts in Romans 6. As a prophet spiritual gift, the first of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2:1-6 has always beckoned to me. I was recalling this over the holidays, thinking about where I am and what it means. Here’s what it says:

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5)

More than ever, this passage spoke to me. Of course God knows my deeds and my toil and my perseverance—that I have endured for His name’s sake and have not grown weary. But soon after my father’s death, I realized I had left my first love. Was I spending time in prayer? Sure. But I was spending more time “doing” God’s work than I was “being” with Him. For the same reason that I put away my cell phone while I was on vacation to be with my mom, God wanted me to put away these deeds and get back to my first love—being with Him.

So what does that mean? Does that mean PPG Ministries is no more? Of course not! But it means that I have to give up some of the “comforts” in my business for now, like posting on social media. I’m trading those things in for quality time at the feet of my Master. I want PPG Ministries to be filled with God, not with me. My business really belongs to God, anyway—so I know I can trust Him with it. And I’m finding that this is its own purity challenge—the challenge to bring holiness into all areas of my life, not just my sexuality.

Maybe you’re out there, having forgotten your first love, and you need to hit the reset button. Maybe God is asking you to give something back to Him so that He can refine and purify it and you, and make you both better than you ever knew. My challenge to you today is this: will you let Him? Will you trust God enough to give back to Him what is already His? If so, join me on this journey of purification. I don’t know where it’s going to lead, but I do know that God’s plans for us are for good and not evil, to prosper us and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). And as further proof of that, here’s how that passage in Revelation ends:

To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

So are you ready for this year? Or more importantly, are you ready for this God? Ready or not, here He comes. 🙂

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Spiritually Healthy Habits: Meeting Together

spirit health by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

A couple of years ago, I was disgruntled with church in general. I wasn’t mad at anyone, and I had just finished up an incredible Bible study in a neighboring town. However, I couldn’t really find a church where I felt comfortable, so I just stopped going. In the process, I also stopped hanging out with my Christian friends. I started hanging with a non-Christian coworker and doing things that I knew weren’t right: drinking more, hanging with her friends while ignoring mine, flirting with married men. I was in a downward spiral. And then, before I knew it, I was dating a married man. Luckily, I told one of my Christian friends what I was doing (without remorse, sadly), and she gathered some prayer warriors to intercede for me. Within a couple of months, the relationship had fallen apart and I was back in church, repentant.

Meeting together with other Christians is an important piece to being spiritually healthy! Here are three benefits of consistently meeting together with other Christians:

  • Meeting together with other Christians keeps us honest. It’s so important to meet with other Christians so that honesty remains an integral part of our lives. Other Christians can be a spiritual thermostat in the midst of your thermometer moments. That simply means that when your feelings or emotions are rising or plummeting (thermometer), other Christians who know the Word can keep you grounded (thermostat). Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) tried to hide their sin, but the truth eventually came to light because they were in fellowship with other believers. In my case, had I been hanging out with my Christian friends during that time, they would have told me from the beginning to stop flirting with and hanging around with married men. They would have been praying for me specifically for purity in all areas. They would have reminded me of God’s truths amidst the world’s lies.
  • Meeting together with other Christians makes us more Christ-like. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Real friends will sharpen you. I found that I was dulling down as a Christian when I spent time with my non-Christian friend. I didn’t feel challenged to be a better Christian; in fact, I hardly ever spoke about God around her. I had to ask myself if I was being a good friend to her, because I wasn’t even challenging her beliefs or ideas. However, in contrast, when I hang around with my Christian friends, most of the time, I am challenged by them in all my attitudes and actions. They are not asking me to be more like them, they are challenging me to be more like Jesus. And as a Christian, nothing makes me better than being more like Jesus in every way.
  • Meeting together with other Christians gives us encouragement. We all need encouragement in our lives, and for Christians, our encouragement comes from many places—but rarely does it come from the world. Hebrews 10:25 says that we should “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another.” As the world gets crazier, we need to be reminded and encouraged of many things: Jesus’ peace, the eventual return of the Savior, the end of suffering, a final victory. In addition, sometimes we simply need encouragement about our true purpose and calling and how our current situations are defining that. While the world can encourage us in some ways, our Christian brothers and sisters can reassure us in all of those ways—because they know Jesus. Christians can inspire each other because the Truth has already set us free.

If you are out of Christian fellowship right now, I’d like to urge you to return to your church or small group. There’s nothing the devil loves more than to separate us from God, and one way he does that is by separating us from each other. You can begin practicing spiritually healthy habits, but you can’t do it alone—so start by meeting together with some Christians this week!

Porn—When You Don’t Get It

confusion by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

“How does she not get it?” I had a horrible fight with my mother today, and this is the question running through my mind. The long and short of it is that my uncle, who recently had a massive stroke and is requiring 24-hour care from my mom and sister, has been watching pornography non-stop on his computer for the past few weeks. Now, this is the same uncle who carelessly introduced me to pornography more than 25 years ago, so while not a surprise, it is unacceptable that he would do this in my mother’s house, where an eight-year-old girl lives 80% of the time. Naturally, considering my recovery, my disdain for pornography, and my ministry, I am furious, and I called and unleashed said fury on my mother. I made her cry in my passionate attempt to let her know she needed to take a stand for righteousness—something she has not done well in the past (she’s an S personality/servant gift to my D personality/prophet gift). But the call did not end well, and now I’m upset—because she doesn’t seem to understand.

If you’ve suffered from a pornography addiction, and you feel like people just don’t “get it” when it comes to porn, here’s a few things to remember:

  • People may not understand your pain. My mother did not notice how passionate and indignant I got when I first heard about the pornography debacle with my uncle. She is clueless about how my sister feels about him watching porn behind her as they sit in the living room. In addition, it seems my mom knows nothing about the effects of pornography on a person’s mind. I ask myself, “How can my mom not know, when I am so very open with everyone about my past addiction, when my own ministry seeks to end pornography?” I also wondered how she could be so calm and nonchalant about a situation that clearly has upset my sister and me. I felt like Jesus with the disciples—“Are you still so dull?” (Matt. 15:16). How come you don’t understand yet? Today’s conversation reminded me that she hasn’t suffered through this addiction. She barely even spoke about sex with me growing up. So of course she doesn’t “get it.” There are always going to be people who don’t understand some circumstance you’ve been through—or don’t want to admit they understand. The key is knowing that you have to…
  • Keep talking anyway. The more you talk about the issues you’ve had with porn, the more freedom you get. When you keep the truth hidden deep within yourself and you don’t address it with or acknowledge it to others, you remain a slave to your addiction. So keep talking! Perhaps my problem is that I have not talked with my mom enough about the pain that pornography caused in my life. Today, I told her that I yelled at her because I didn’t feel she ever thought this was important or urgent. This lack of urgency on her part made me feel unprotected, and I was afraid she was going to not protect the eight-year old that now lives with them. After our fight, I texted her a lengthy set of messages that included an apology and this text: “I love you. What I do not love is how pornography stole my childhood, my innocence, my freedom, my ability to have normal, loving relationships with the opposite sex.” I know that I have told my mom before about porn’s effects on me. But I said it again because hopefully one day she will gain some understanding about the addiction from which I’m still healing.

The Bible says, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” Recovery from porn is a lifelong process, and you may have to help others get understanding about it from time to time. You may go about it the wrong way, or you may do it perfectly: the point is to just keep talking, so you and others can be blessed in the process!

Authentic Responsibility #3: I’m Not Obligated

Authentic Responsibility #3: I have the responsibility to choose whether I offer help for other people’s problems. I make my own commitments; no one can obligate me to that which I’m not committed.

assistance by anankkml

image courtesy of anankkml / freedigitalphotos.net

Some time ago, I found myself entangled in a situation between two of my friends, John and Julie. John was showing some erratic and crazy behavior towards Julie, which frightened Julie. A close friend of John’s confided the situation to me, and somehow, the pushy prophet girl ended up in the middle. Because I knew John’s parents, I contacted them for my close friend and met with them about the situation. I also talked to Julie about what was going on. I mediated an e-mail chain between parents and Julie. And then, after a misunderstanding, I received a nasty voicemail from John’s mother. While listening to the voicemail, I realized something: I somehow had gotten myself involved in a situation, and I no longer wanted to be involved in it. And while I was concerned for the parties involved, I called my close friend and told him I was done: I stepped back and removed myself from the situation completely. I never should have been involved in the first place.

Authentic responsibility #3 gives you the responsibility of choosing where to offer your help and place your commitments–no one else can make these decisions for you. Here are three things to remember when choosing your obligations:

  • Have clear boundaries. In my situation with John and Julie, I did not express clear boundaries from the beginning. My involvement should have ended with giving my close friend the contact information for John’s parents and praying for the situation. Instead, I took on more roles that eventually got muddled and angered everyone, including me. Clear boundaries would have prevented this. You may not know where the situation is heading, but you can prepare yourself for where you will go from the outset (Galatians 6:5).
  • Stand by your commitments. This is a simple mandate from the Bible in James 5:12, which says, “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” In my situation, I did not do this. I said I would help but then backed out when I realized I really did not want to be involved. Jesus told a parable of a son who said he would show up to work in his father’s vineyard but then didn’t, and another son who said he wouldn’t show up to work, but then did. If you must choose, be the son who says he isn’t going to help, but then does—this was the son who pleased his Father (Matthew 21:28-31).
  • Let go of the guilt. You can’t help or save everyone—and you aren’t called to. That is Jesus’ job. Pray about where God is asking you to spend your time. While the Bible mandates that we help others and show others compassion, we are also to be good stewards of our time. You must release any feelings of guilt you have on your own or that others may attempt to press on you. Remember, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)—it is okay to say no!

Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Authentic responsibilities help us take care of ourselves and our interests so that we can better take care of others. It is your responsibility to decide where your obligations lie.

How do you decide where you will commit yourself and your time? Share in the comments!

Authentic Responsibilities: I Don’t Answer to You

Authentic Responsibilities #2: I am not obligated to answer to a human being for why I do what I do (to justify my behaviors). That type of self-disclosure is a gift. 

explaining by David Castillo Dominici

image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net

I had lost my real job a few months earlier and was in the midst of Step Four—the most difficult step of the Celebrate Recovery step study program. My part-time job had ended when the elderly gentleman I was helping moved into assisted living. So when the pastor from my church ministry called and removed me from my volunteer position in the ministry, I did what any reasonable person would do—I fled to the desert. I left without telling anyone I was leaving or where I was going. My own family didn’t even know I was gone until I called to let them know I had arrived. And I didn’t tell most of my friends why—just that I was going away.

One of my friends took exception to my leaving. I had been very close to her, but during this  journey through CR, I had pulled away from many of my friends to focus on my recovery. This particular friend expressed her feelings that it was unacceptable to her that I left in such dramatic fashion and implied that I owed her and others an explanation. It was during this clash that I realized authentic responsibility #2: I am not obligated to justify my behaviors to any human being, but when I do, it is a gift of trust, love, and friendship.

Even though we are not obligated to answer to others, here are two things to remember about justifying your behaviors and the gift of self-disclosure:

  • You don’t have to answer to humans, but you DO have to answer to God. Notice that it says you don’t have to justify your behaviors to “a human being.” I didn’t answer to my friend, but I certainly talked things over with God—which is something that we all will have to do. Luke 8:17 says, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” The Lord knows our hidden motives, our desires, and why we do what we do—and in the end, whether we like or not, we will ALL give an account of the things we have done (Romans 14:12, Matthew 12:36, 2 Corinthians 5:10). So even if you are not justifying yourself to others, seek the Lord and His will about your actions through prayer. You will have to answer to Him eventually!
  • Give the gift of self-disclosure to someone. I didn’t choose to give the gift of self-disclosure to my one friend, but I did give it to my sponsor and my accountability partner. I disclosed to them fully the pain I was feeling, the reason I was leaving, and what I felt I needed to do to get through that time. The Bible instructs us to “Confess our sins to one another and pray for each other so that we may be healed” (James 5:16). The key words: so that we may be healed. There is healing in disclosing our pain, hurt, hang-ups, and bad habits to others. Accountability is key in authentic responsibilities: life is not meant to live alone, but in community with others. So give that gift of self-disclosure to someone you trust and love who can hold you accountable (Proverbs 27:17, Galatians 6:1-2).

You may not owe anyone an explanation, but you will be giving one someday! So why not begin today by answering to God and someone else? And as you continue in this responsibility, may you find yourself giving this precious gift to others as you grow in God’s grace and love.

What are some reasons why we feel obligated to justify our actions to others? Share in the comments!

Becoming Fearlessly Fulfilled: Releasing Control

I was running late. I am always the first one to arrive in the office, so my tardy presence was going to be noticed. My boss was probably going to say something. If he asked why I was late, I would just tell him that traffic was bad. No—traffic was fine, and he took the same route to work that I did—I can’t lie. Instead, I’ll just be honest—I got a late start this morning and I would just explain that to him and apologize. I would work late today to make up for it, if he wanted me to. Great—I had (obsessively) planned out every moment of the interaction to simulate complete control, but I had none. My boss didn’t even notice I was late.

control by arztsamui

image courtesy of arztsamui / freedigitalphotos.net

As I was reading an entry from Jesus Calling, I was floored at my obsessive thought patterns and my need to have control of everything. Many people suffer from this need, but we don’t have to! We can release control. Here are four things I learned in Celebrate Recovery that I’m constantly trying to release control of:

  • What I think should happen. I have my own thoughts about what should be going on in my life. But God has other plans! In fact, He assures me that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8). And honestly, I’m glad God doesn’t suffer from obsessive thinking like I do, because that would be scary. And if God doesn’t think like me, then I need to release control about the plans He has for me—because He’s got this and I can trust Him!
  • When I think it should happen. I think I should already be married. I think my business should’ve taken off at the outset in June. I think a lot of things that I believe are going to happen should already have happened! However, what I keep having to remind myself is that God’s timetable and mine are, again, completely different. What seems like forever to me is only a short time to him (2 Peter 3:8). And what He is doing in me during the wait is far more important to Him than when I receive the prize.
  • How I feel during it. Impatient. Scared. Lonely. Nervous. Anxious. Excited. They are all feelings, but they are just that—feelings. I acknowledge my feelings, but I should not give them control of any part of my life. When I “follow my heart” I have to be careful of what the Bible says about my heart: that it is the most deceitful of all things and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). Instead, I should take my feelings to Jesus and surrender them to Him during my wait.
  • How others might react. People are always weighing in with their opinions. “You should do online dating.” “You should push your way through.” “You shouldn’t wait.” But the Word says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). How others react cannot dictate how you or I live our lives. The only One we live to please is God—and we need to release control of pleasing anyone else and how they will react.

When you release control in these areas, you allow God to give you peace and joy as you become fearlessly fulfilled. He is doing it for me—He will do it for you, too!

In which of these four areas do you most need to release control? Share in the comments or use my Contact Me page to share and receive a free 30-minute Identity Intensive!

Becoming Fearlessly Fulfilled: Worth Finding

woman by anankkml

image courtesy of anankkml / freedigitalphotos.net

I wasn’t more than four years old. My dad was coming over to pick us up to spend time with him. I was waiting anxiously in the living room when he arrived—except he didn’t want me to go along with him. So he took only my sister and left me behind feeling things that I now can describe as rejection and worthlessness—deep threads woven into my life at such an early age. It’s not the only memory I have, but it’s one of the strongest. 

Far too many people struggle with these types of feelings and memories: we walk around trying to fill the void, manage the pain, and/or move ahead in life by ignoring it. I filled mine with everything I could possibly find: pornography, musical talents, lust, bad relationships, false confidence, and even church work through a career in ministry. The problem is, like many people, I was not properly dealing with the real issue: a lack of self-worth.

Many women have asked me how they can find their self-worth. I wish that I could give a three-step process to finding your personal worth, but I can only make suggestions based on how I eventually found mine. So here are a few things I’ve learned in my continual journey towards self-worth:

  1. Seek healing for your wounds. As I’ve noted, I completed the Celebrate Recovery step study process and that was the bulk of my healing process. CR may not work for everyone, but it provided for me what I needed to work through my pain. I’m not talking about managing your pain; I’m talking about working through your pain, finding Jesus amidst your pain, and allowing Him to lead you out of your pain. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). We must surrender to the difficult pressing to be truly delivered—whether through CR, counseling, coaching, or whatever means works best for us.
  2. Believe what God says about you in His Word. My woundedness inhibited me from truly experiencing the joy of being a child of God. Even though I was a youth pastor, working full-time in ministry, I still did not believe what God said about me in His Word. I knew what God said about me—that I was chosen, royal, holy, a princess, his daughter, a co-heir with Christ, beloved, worthy, His workmanship, a citizen of heaven, His friend—but I did not live like it. Once I moved out of my pain, I was free to accept and begin living as who God says I am, not who the world says I am. Now, I don’t just know it, I believe it!
  3. Submit to the lifelong process. Notice that I said I learned these things in my “continual journey” towards self-worth. I am not done. In fact, the Bible says that we are still works in progress that will not be finished until we meet Jesus (Galatians 5:5). While we are “eagerly awaiting” our completion, we should be constantly challenging ourselves to grow in Christ. There are still parts of me that need full submission to God and tons of work. But the more I give these areas and myself to Him, the more my worth becomes grounded in who Christ is and who He says I am. 

To become fearlessly fulfilled, you must find your worth in the Person of Jesus Christ, the One who created you and loves you—the One who knows you are worth finding.

How have you begun your journey towards self-worth? Share in the comments or Contact Me to start your journey today!

Becoming Fearlessly Fulfilled: Find Your Catalyst!

I was watching an acquaintance’s wedding video this morning. A wave of emotion washed over me when I saw one of the groomsmen getting ready. I recognized him from the chin down shot immediately. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in more than four years, but here I was, feeling all sorts of unresolved emotions. When I decided to no longer be friends with George*, it left an incredible hole in my heart and life. But I knew it was best for us both. And though we are no longer friends, he was my catalyst towards emotional health.

go by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

A catalyst is defined as “an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.” George pushed me into looking deeply at myself and deciding to get better. Catalysts are meant to provoke you to change or action and they help you develop an attitude of change because they are often emotionally charged agents. Even as I was writing this blog, I was overcome with emotion about how important George was to me becoming fearlessly fulfilled. That is a catalyst’s role!

Catalysts do three things to help you develop an attitude of change:

  • Catalysts show you something you want but don’t really have. For me, I wanted a real relationship—with George, with my family and other friends, with anyone. I wanted to know how to truly love others instead of being judgmental and self-righteous. I wanted to know myself and love myself so that I could love others more deeply. My failed friendship with George brought these things into the forefront in my life.
  • Catalysts show you something you have but don’t really want. I had real issues with emotional health. I was constantly jealous, angry, and controlling in all of my relationships. As I’ve said before, I thought that people were objects to be used for my pleasure instead of gifts from God to treasure. I didn’t want to be that way, but I was because it was the only way I knew to be. If not for my catalyst, I might still be that person today.
  • Catalysts help bring you to the end of yourself. We don’t get to the end of ourselves all alone; something usually pushes us there. For me, it was losing my friendship with George permanently. Even now, God has not allowed me to reconnect with him—even though we live in the same county and have some of the same friends—for reasons I may not know until heaven. And today while writing this, I realize that I miss him terribly. However, what I DO know is that if George would have held on to me back then, I may not have taken that required step into Celebrate Recovery and grown as exponentially as I did. It was at the end of myself that I found God, health, and my true worth. It was at the end of myself that God healed my broken heart and bound up my wounds (Psalm 147:3).

True, lasting change is always accompanied by a catalyst. I feel I owe George a huge thank you for the true, lasting change he inspired me to find. And maybe one day I can share that with him face to face. In the meantime, I’m still a work in progress who will continue to thank God for providing me with the perfect catalyst to propel me towards health and wealth in Him.

Have you found a catalyst to propel you towards becoming fearlessly fulfilled? Share with me in the comments or visit my Contact Me page for a free 30-minute Identity Intensive!

*Name changed.

How to Thrive Spiritually During the Holidays

Sometimes, I ruin the holidays for myself. I find myself becoming a bit of a Scrooge during this time of year as I focus too much on the rampant commercialism I see represented in our culture. The focus on presents, the lack of routine, and the “me, me, me” attitude make me crazy. And often, when I am being grumpy and doing my best Grinch impression, I find that I get in my own way and destroy the holidays for myself—and sometimes others. Then I realize, it’s not really them—those exhibiting the commercialism, it’s me: it turns out my focus is off.

nativity scene

image courtesy of dan / freeditigalphotos.net

I believe that the reason we celebrate this holiday season—even Thanksgiving—is to honor the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ. God looked down at us, saw our struggles, and realized that we needed something more than just rules we couldn’t keep and messes we couldn’t straighten. So He sent His only Son as a baby, to grow and become a Savior to us. It is the real meaning of Christmas, and it is the focus I should keep.

Do you struggle with focusing on the true meaning of the season? Here are a few ways you can thrive spiritually during the holidays:

Behold His Glory. In order to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we have to focus on the birth of Jesus! One of the best ways to do this is to plan time in your day to spend time with God and your family being thankful for the true reason for the season. Taking time every day will keep your eyes on the true prize—the coming of a Savior—instead of earthly prizes like gifts. Even though I read devotions every day, I also read a special advent devotional and attend special Christmas worship services. Every day is a new opportunity for us to behold the glory of God—especially during the holidays!

Have Traditions. Keep old traditions that your family already has or start new ones. My family loves spending time driving through the neighborhoods to see tacky Christmas decorations. We always have a blast doing it and the time together laughing makes memories. Maybe your family goes to a Christmas Eve candlelight service. Maybe your family decorates the tree together. Whatever traditions you have and begin, make it a memory that refreshes you and brings joy to those you are with.

Serve Others. To keep the focus solely off of your own wants and desires, plan time—by yourself or with your family—to serve others. A great friend of mine serves the homeless on Christmas morning. At a time when  other families are opening presents, she and her family are in a kitchen serving breakfast to about 100 homeless men in our county. Moving the focus from “me” to “thee” will keep Christ as the center of the holidays. After all, Christ is the ultimate symbol of giving to others—so use your God-given gifts and serve others during the Christmas season (1 Peter 4:10).

Remember, Christmas is about His presence, not our presents! “Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King!” May this holiday season bring you and your family joy as you thrive emotionally, physically, and spiritually!

Mind Matters: Moving from Rejection to Acceptance

A few years ago, I had a crush on a colleague of mine named Ed. (That’s his real name—he deserves credit for this one.) Ed and I were both student ministers serving at different churches, and I had no idea what to do about my crush. If you know any prophets, you know that prophets HAVE to tell people where they stand with them. So in true pushy prophet girl nature, I sent him a birthday card (it was NOT his birthday—humor) in which I let him know I had a crush on him.

accepted by basketman

image courtesy of basketman / freedigitalphotos.net

Ed sent me an e-mail in return that was quite simply the sweetest rejection I had ever received. In it, he noted that he had been in my situation before, and he wanted to be as grace-filled as possible in letting me down. He also promised that there would be no weirdness between us as friends. I was disappointed, but I don’t even remember if I cried: what I remembered was that I felt accepted and I felt grace, even in the midst of being rejected.

Thinking about all the rejection that I’ve personally faced is tough, but that one grace-filled acceptance reminded me of three keys to handling rejection—whether you’re on the giving end or the receiving end:

  1. Remember that rejection is not always personal. In my story, Ed was in a new relationship that he wanted to see through. (FYI: that relationship became his marriage.) Sometimes, it’s not the circumstance for you. But remember my previous blog about God accepting you? Well, He also knows what’s best for you and has plans to prosper you and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). And that job, that person, or that circumstance may not be what is best for you now, but God knows what is and He is saving you for that.
  2. Weave grace and acceptance into rejection. The way Ed handled me was filled with grace and acceptance. Why? Because he had been in the same situation before. We have all been rejected in our lives, and we know the pain it can cause. So if we want to be emotionally mature adults, we should strive not to cause that kind of pain but instead to deliver acceptance and compassion to others (Ephesians 4:31-32). So remember rejection feels like and aim to improve the experience by asking God for His compassion to help you—whether you’re giving or receiving it. Pay acceptance and compassion forward.
  3. Use both rejection and acceptance to grow and move forward. In my case, I was not ready for an Ed (a boyfriend). I looked at myself and began to see ways that I could improve my communication, my emotional health, and a number of things that God needed to work on in me. So is there something you could improve about yourself? There is a God who accepts you, just as you are, but He doesn’t want to leave you that way. Truly accepted people become truly accepting people (Cloud and Townsend), and we should keep growing in Christ to build up ourselves and His church (Ephesians 4:15-16).

Experiencing rejection can be a time for growth, but it can also be a time to experience grace and acceptance. In fact, choose to make acceptance the norm in the midst of rejection. You can say no and deny others when necessary, but the challenge is, can you do it with grace and compassion?