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Becoming “Big Girls” for Jesus

Mar 21, 2018


When you were growing up, did your parents measure your height at different ages and make a mark on the closet door or some other place to show how you were growing? They would say something like, “You’re really growing up fast!”—and that made you feel good. Ask yourself this question: If God measured your spiritual growth, would he see progress—that you’re growing up to be a “big girl”—or boy—for Jesus?

We need to become intentional about growing spiritually, making sure we’re doing what we need to do to be a “big girl” for Jesus. So, how do we grow?

First, we grow through the Word. There are no short cuts here. There is no microwave Christianity. You can’t bake this potato in five minutes!

If I asked you how many true, born-again believers read their Bibles every day, what percentage would you guess do so? The latest research says that number is 11%. Just 11% of true believers read their Bible every day! In fact, what their research showed was that the one correlating factor that was true in the life of those who truly were committed disciples of Jesus Christ—totally serious, all-out for Jesus—the one thing that was true of them all was that they read their Bible every day.

If you want to grow up in Christ, you need to read your Bible every day. It won’t just happen. You must be intentional about it. You need a time and place that is reserved for you and Jesus, and you need a structured way to read your Bible—all parts of it.

You can come up with any number of reasons why you can’t do this, but they are all excuses, not reasons. I believe that for the most part, we do what we really want to do. So, if you’re not reading your Bible every day, maybe the first thing you need to do is pray that God will make you want to grow through his Word, or at least show you why you don’t have a hunger and thirst to know him better through his Word.

Sadly, busyness is our number one excuse, and it just doesn’t hold water! The truth is, we do what we really want to do.


Are You Satisfied with Your Job?

Oct 27, 2017


How do you know when it’s time to change jobs? We’re looking at ten checkpoints that can help us make an objective assessment of our job satisfaction level, so that we make the right decision about changing jobs or not.

Checkpoint #9: Do you feel totally exhausted at the end of a typical day, or just reasonably tired?

Feeling tired from a good day’s work is not a bad thing. We were created by God to work, and the feelings of accomplishment that come from putting in a full, hard workday are often very satisfying. I know on days when I have that feeling of accomplishing a lot, even though my mind and body may feel a bit weary, I go home with lots of satisfaction in what I did.

However, if total exhaustion is typical for you most every workday, you need to do some reassessment. It’s difficult to like a job that saps all your strength and energy.

Checkpoint #10: Even though there may be some repetitive or boring parts about your job, for the most part, are you stimulated and challenged by the work that you do?

You’ll never find a job that doesn’t have some boring aspects to it. Don’t let those things blind you to the things about the job that you really do like.

Finding a job that interests you, work that makes a positive contribution, work that is valued—those are all key aspects in job satisfaction. Some expect too much of a job, and then when one thing is missing, they fail to appreciate the good things they do have.

There you have it: Ten checkpoints to determine your level of job satisfaction. After you’ve considered these, the most important check point is to pray about your job. Seek God’s guidance as to what his plan is for you. Is God using you at your workplace as a light in a dark world? That could be all the job satisfaction you need to determine that you’re in the right place. On the other hand, it could be a well-paying job that looks good on paper, but one that is bringing much grief and trouble into your life. God may be leading you out of that kind of situation.

The good news is that God cares about your job and your job satisfaction; however, he wants you to look at it through Forever Eyes—from an eternal perspective—and make choices based on what is important not just for now, but also for eternity.


Quick to Listen

Sep 23, 2017


I think listening comes easier for some of us than it does for others. I’m not naturally a good listener; I’m a talker. But that doesn’t let me off the hook. I still need to be a good listener—and so do you.

James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak. . .” What is it about listening that makes it so important?

For one thing, when we’re good listeners, we show compassion and concern for others. We make them feel special when we practice Philippians 2:3-4 which says, “In humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” It’s a biblical principle to be a good listener.

Like all biblical principles, when we practice good listening, we receive the benefits as well. It’s a win-win idea. For example, the better I listen, the less I embarrass myself or put my foot in my mouth; the more information I have—and information is power; the more I improve my relationships—people like people who listen; the fewer problems I have to deal with, because good listening often solves problems before they start; the more successful I’ll be in my career, because good listening promotes success; and the better my decisions will be because they’ll be more informed and thought out.

What keeps us from being good listeners? Don’t you think self-centeredness is one key reason? Good listening requires an absence of self-focus.

Another reason we’re not good listeners is because we’re thoughtless and undisciplined. Listening takes effort and energy; it takes concentration. Without a willingness to be disciplined, we won’t be good listeners.

Proverbs 1:5 says, “…let the wise listen and add to their learning.” A wise person is a good listener.

Now, let’s define some of the more common bad listening habits.

My worst habit as a listener is that my mind wanders easily. Do you have that problem, too? I can look you in the eye, have a sincere look on my face, and not hear a word you say. My mind just floats off to somewhere else.

Let me suggest a very practical way to work on that problem: Take notes while you listen. For me, this helps a great deal because it forces me to keep my mind on what the other person is saying. You can do this while talking on the telephone, in meetings with one person or a group, in church—lots of places. Take a note pad and pen with you and use it freely to help you stay focused on what the other person is saying. You may be surprised to see how handy those notes will come in later on, too.

Another bad listening habit is the tendency to wait for our turn to talk rather than listen. Do you often find yourself getting your next speech together while someone is talking to you? They say something which triggers a thought in your mind, and you quit listening and simply wait for your turn to say what you want to say.

Maybe you have the tendency to interrupt people. That certainly interferes with good listening and it also makes people angry. It is a rude habit. I’m sure you don’t like it when people interrupt you, but think, how often do you interrupt others?

Here’s another one we’re all guilty of at times: Completing the other person’s sentences for them. Often I find myself finishing what the other person started, especially if they happen to be a slow communicator.

Here’s another bad listening habit that causes lots of problems: The tendency to listen only to find fault. Do you start nick-picking everything someone is saying to you, straightening them out on all the details, and missing the essence of what that person is trying to communicate to you? Do you always have to set the other person right when you hear a statement you feel is wrong?

Proverbs 18:13 says, “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.” Even if you’re pretty sure that person is wrong, let him or her finish what they have to say. Give them the courtesy of listening to them all the way. You’ll often be surprised to find out it was different than you thought.

When you interrupt someone to correct them, it intimidates that person, or angers them—or both. That is one reason parents and children have difficulty communicating, because often the parent will cut the child off and correct them before they even have a chance to finish. If you want your child to be respectful toward you and others, you need to role model that behavior for them. Respect the other person’s right to his or her opinion, even if you think it is wrong or you disagree with that person.

Maybe you are a defensive listener. Do you tend to take everything personally, and make people feel like they must walk on eggshells with you all the time? That’s a sign of defensive listening and it causes lots of problems.

Are there some people that you immediately dismiss or discount before they even start talking to you? I imagine there is someone you deal with on a regular basis whom you tend to tune out regularly, perhaps because they talk too much or bend your ear too often or talk about silly things.

I want to encourage you to start expecting something good instead of assuming they have nothing to say that will interest you. If you carry negative expectations into any communication scene–whether it’s an individual or a meeting you need to attend—then you aren’t likely to hear anything worthwhile that is communicated because your mind has been prejudiced against it already.

Watch out for selective listening bad habits. We often hear what we want to hear and tune out what we don’t want to hear or what doesn’t interest us. But that can create a great deal of misunderstanding in the future.

Do you know what your emotional hot-buttons are? All of us have them—those issues or situations which cause you to go into some stereotypical reaction and keeps you from hearing what is really being said. For example, your emotional hot-button may be a certain kind of personality that rubs you the wrong way; the man who wears one earring, or the person who wears fashions you think are inappropriate; someone of another race, someone with bad grammar, or someone you think is not as intelligent as you.

What often happens is that as soon as someone touches one of our hot-buttons, we stop listening and go into react-mode. This causes all kinds of miscommunication and tension between people. Identify your personal emotional hot-buttons, pray about them, and ask God to make you sensitive to those things that can cause you to tune people out.

Did you ever try to talk to someone who just looked at you with a blank stare, or maybe they didn’t look at you, or their body language was closed and cold? If we’re going to be good listeners, we must listen with our whole body.

Begin with good eye contact. If you look someone in the eye as they talk to you, it sends all kinds of good messages to the person who is talking and assures them you are listening. Then, convey with your body position that you’re listening: lean toward the person who is talking to you, not away from them. Watch out for crossed arms which can send a “closed” message. Remove physical barriers, such as desks, between you. Use facial expressions—head nods and verbal sounds—to acknowledge that you are, indeed, listening. These non-verbal indications are very loud and can make a world of difference when you’re trying to communicate.

I want to encourage you to identify just one area where you know you need to improve your listening skills—the one you feel gives you the most trouble—and start praying about it. Pray James 1:19 into your life daily: “Lord, help me today to be quick to listen.” Specifically pray about your worst listening habit so that you will have the power of the Holy Spirit to enable you to overcome that problem.

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them. . .” (John 10:27). I wonder, how well do you listen to the voice of Jesus? Most of us are really good at talking to the Lord and telling him what we want him to do. Think about your own prayer life: How much of your prayer time is consumed with these kinds of prayers?

  • “Lord, please help me today.”
  • “Lord, please heal me.”
  • “Lord, please help my family.”
  • “Lord, please bless me.”


Of course our heavenly Father wants us to bring all our cares to him, but it’s extremely important that we listen to his voice if we’re one of his sheep.

Maybe you’re asking, “Well, how do I listen to the voice of Jesus?” First, you need to stop talking. You can’t listen to anyone while you are talking. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). This means you have to get your mind settled and focused; clear out all distractions and focus on Jesus.

In order to hear his voice you have to know what it sounds like. This comes through being very familiar with what he has already said to you through the Word of God. Jesus is going to speak to you most often directly through the written word, and he’ll never say anything to you that in any way contradicts the written word. But you must have a consistent plan to study the Bible, read it, and get into it in depth, so that you can hear his voice.

Our society is not a listening society. We are all too busy, we move too fast, everything is rushed, and we’re often too self-absorbed to listen. Therefore, in order to be good listeners—to other people and to Jesus as well—we will have to learn to slow down, take the time required to be a good listener, learn some techniques to help us, work on our bad habits, and pray much that God will indeed teach us how to be quick to listen. You’ll have a better testimony for Jesus on your job if you learn to listen better. I encourage you to take this seriously.


Saying “No” Without Guilt

Aug 25, 2017


When it’s time to say “no,” how can you say it without offending anyone? What is the best way to say “no”?

None of us likes to disappoint people; we want to be cooperative and helpful. Saying “no” is not easy because we know it is not what the other person wants to hear. But when we know it is the right thing to do, we must be assertive and courageous enough to look them in the eye and, in a kind way, say “no.”

I think you need to give some explanation, but not too much. When you keep defending your “no” response, it shows a lack of confidence in your decision. Remember, it is not likely that your “no” will be happily received, so don’t have unrealistic expectations. Soften the blow as much as possible, empathize where you can, offer alternative suggestions if available, but make your “no” a true and understandable “no,” not a wishy-washy, wimpy response.

Be sure you’ve prayed about it, that you have your own emotions under control, that your reasons for saying “no” are pure, not selfish, and think in advance of what words you will use—words that make it as palatable as possible. Proverbs 16:21 says, “Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness,” so choose your words carefully.

In her booklet on saying no without guilt, Alice Fryling says, “Men and women who are humble enough not to take themselves too seriously are free to say no as well as to say yes.”  That’s a good word for us all: Don’t take yourself too seriously, and be humble enough to say “no” when you know it’s the right thing to do.


Saying “No” Without Guilt

Aug 24, 2017


Why is it hard for us to say “no”? It is important to consider this topic so that we can be set free from the bondage of saying “yes” to everything and everyone and, as a result, becoming burned out and ineffective.

In her booklet on saying no without guilt, Alice Fryling points out that “We get instant affirmation from saying yes. We get personal stimulation from the idea of meeting a challenge, using our gifts or tapping into our creativity, and we avoid the unpleasantness of having to say no.”

This hits the nail on the head for me. I learned some years ago that one reason I was trying to do so much was to hear the accolades and affirmation I received from others. Those comments feIt good; I liked them and I wanted more. I wanted the affirmation of people; it fed my ego and made me feel good about myself. But for years I was deceived and didn’t realize what was behind much of my activity—good activity, ministry activity.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). You have to decide whom you are trying to please. If pleasing people is your goal and if you need the affirmation of others in order to feel good about yourself, you will always be in bondage to those people, whomever they are, and you will never fully succeed. It’s impossible to please people all the time, no matter how hard you try. But the good news is this: it is possible to please God. What I’ve discovered is that when my priority is to please God, I typically please more people that way than when my focus is to please people!

Search your heart today: If you are plagued by this difficulty of saying “no,” ask God to reveal to you why it is so hard for you to say “no.” You may discover some unlovely motivations but, in so doing, you will uncover truth that can set you free!


Saying “No” Without Guilt

Aug 23, 2017


Many of us have a lot of trouble knowing how and when to set boundaries. We end up trying to be super-people and find ourselves exhausted, discouraged, depressed, and ready to quit!

Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God ordained in advance for us to do. We are here to work; we are created to bring glory to God through completing the good works he has planned for us to do. Laziness or indifference is never acceptable for a disciple of Jesus Christ. By the same token, we are in human bodies which have limitations. When we start trying to do things that are not on God’s to-do list for us, that’s when we get in trouble.

In a very helpful booklet entitled “Too Busy? Saying No Without Guilt,” Alice Fryling makes some important observations: “Jesus does not intend for us to carry the heavy burden of ill-fitting good works. If we were to join him at the dinner table, where he did much of his teaching during his life on earth, he might remind us that we do not need to do everything, that burnout is not his idea of obedience and that by God’s grace even a little bit goes a long way.”

I like her term “ill-fitting good works.” I find that I am often self-deceived into taking on too much because what I’m taking on is good. Someone needs to do it; it is not a trivial pursuit. But is it an “ill-fitting good work,” meaning it doesn’t fit me? Ms. Fryling goes on to say, “In fact, as we take on Jesus’ yoke, we find that the work we are yoked to do has been custom-made for us.” When you are doing those good works, you may get tired but you won’t be overwhelmed. Jesus does not call you to do more than he will equip you to do under an easy yoke. When your “doing” gets to the stage of being a burden, no matter how good it may be, then you have to stop and ask, “Where and when should I say ‘no’?”

I would encourage you to think about areas in your life where you have not yet learned to say “no.” Perhaps it is on your job or with your family or friends. If you’ve allowed yourself to come under a heavy yoke, I urge you to begin the process of saying “no” where you need to.

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