Sunday, June 30, 2019

Stop ... Challenge ... Choose

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whether you turn to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 (NET)

I recently read somewhere that we make approximately 5,000 decisions a day.  Wow!  I realize that I make a lot of decisions based on emotion or whether or not I am exhausted or not.  We make so many decisions throughout the day.  And while some may seem like insignificant decisions, others may huge life decisions. I decided to choose peace and joy and purpose today over lethargy and complacency. I choose to meet with God today before meeting with anyone else, however, some days I fail in that pursuit as well and it shows in my decision making on those days.Some of our everyday choices are completely random choices, while others are very important, however, they are all choice points.  Those seemingly small or large choice points may seem like insignificant decisions, yet they will lead us in a one direction or another.

We make daily decisions to either react in anger, or respond in patience and compassion in moments of conflict in our relationships. We choose to create drama and agitation with friends or co-workers, who may hurt our feelings or seem selfish or lack compassion at times. We have the daily opportunity to choose words that will affirm and encourage or cause pain and insecurity in our children.  There are so many situations in our daily walk where we are faced with frustration, disappointment, hurt feelings, anger, and pain. 

As part of our personal growth plan, Pat and I made a decision 3 years ago, to take back our physical health.  This was a major life change that has literally changed our life and restored our energy, vigor and vitality to run our race strong and to be there for our children and grandchildren for the long run.  It also ensured that we will enjoy life together well into our retirement years. One of the statements that one of our health mentors taught us was Stop…Challenge…and Choose.  We had to view our choices differently.  How would our food choices affect our physical health and our overall health goals? We had to stop and evaluate and choose the path that would lead to our desired goals.

Believe it or not, this same principal can be applied to our spiritual walk.  Learning to view our reactions to crisis and conflict from a different perspective.  We must STOP in the face of crisis/conflict … CHALLENGEour emotional response … and CHOOSEto respond from a place of our relationship with God.  We must not REACT but rather ACT UPON in order to have the best outcome for everyone involved. Asking ourselves key questions: How will my response/reaction affect my life and the life of those around me?  How will all those involved walk away from this moment.  Will relationships be severed or will they grow in maturity? Are my reactions creating a victim mentality and an attitude of constant offense or a lifestyle of gratitude and joy? 

Sometimes we have to change our perspective and our perception of life. There are times I have to choose to change how I interpret what’s happening around me.  Because how we perceive our circumstances, can make or break us in any given situation. Our perspective shapes us and how we think and how we engage with the people around us every day.  Perspective creates OPPORTUNITIES for growth or it can hinder our progress and restrict us in life. Our perspective can cause us to walk in constant offense and bitterness, jealousy and lock us up in the comparison prison where we never reach the potential that God has for us. There are days where I find myself making the following statements: I can’t…I will never make it to that goal…Why does that always happen to me…Why don’t they listen to me?  Can you see how that is reactive vs. proactive?  Always finding the bad in every situation.   When I find myself in those days, I have to stop…challenge…chooseto go into my prayer closet and find my place in the presence of my Savior to change my attitude to be that of….I CAN…I WILL…It’s going to be fine…God’s got this!...Keep going…persevere…keep your eyes on the prize set before you…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…I am more than a conqueror…With GOD NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!  Those are much more responsive and proactive attitudes….choosing to see the best in a situation (God’s view) brings about a totally different view.The right perspective says failure is part of learning and life is hard sometimes, but with God, we can do hard stuff!

God is calling us to change our perspectiveto see His faithfulness and His Power! To be aware of His able-ness not our weakness and limitations. A dear friend and fellow health coach, Terri Miller, said this to my husband, Pat, and I recently as we were discussing growth in our business.  She said…”Many people are just wanting the STAGE of SUCCESS …While others choose the STAGE of GROWTH”

WOW!  How true is that?! So many times we just want the outcome to glorify us and showcase our accomplishments and gifting’s, but we really should be choosing to always be in a stage of growth mindset. Look at Hebrews 5:12 (NET), “For though you should in fact be teachers by this time, you need someone to teach you the beginning elements of God’s utterances.  You have gone back to needing milk, not solid food” I can just hear the Father saying on those days when I have a rotten attitude or when I’m feeling sorry for myself, whining and griping, “REALLY Karen!...This again?”  “I thought we were past this already?”  For some of us, we are just waiting for someone to come along and put the spiritual bottle in our mouths to feed our insecurity and self-doubt and lack of self-worth.  Isn’t it time we graduate from that mindset already?!  I’m ready to put down the bottle and the pacifier and graduate to solid food that strengthens my mind, body and spirit!  I don’t have time for pettiness anymore!

Did you know that the Bible actually speaks about the power of the mind and our thoughts?! I LOVE THESE SCRIPTURES! Deuteronomy 30:19, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.  Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live.”We NEED to understand that life, love, joy, and peace are CHOICES!  We always give circumstances too much power and credit in our lives. It just seems too simple to believe that simply choosing love and joy is possible.Look at Romans 12:12, “Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” 

Changing the way we think, actually changes our perspective which changes the way we act! Paul’s words were not new!  The theme of Jesus’ first sermon was, “Change your mind” in Matthew 4:17.Jesus always challenged people to change their mind and their viewpoint.  All through the Bible it shows us that if we do not change our mind, we just impose our own biases and mindsets and labels on the words we read.The first thing we have to change is our perception…And that begins with OUR SELF not EVERYONE ELSE.  We need to change our perspective of who we are!

Ephesians tells us that we are God’s handiwork and that before the world was ever created he prepared us for great works.  Seeing the truth of God’s perspective about yourself is not about our self-esteem or arrogance or a pat on the back or even our happiness.  It’s about making the right choices for those we are called to reach, rescue and set free. It’s about stepping out in purpose and the destiny that God has called you to.

So how do we choose to change our perspective in real life?  

1.    Choose  - We can choose fear, insecurity, jealousy, bitterness and the lies of the enemy on a daily basis, or we can choose to believe that God is true to His word when He said, “Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think”. (Eph. 3:20)

Here is your choice today … In the face of crisis and conflict…
-       Choose to believe that you are loved by God –Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this; While we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
-       Choose to live in freedom 
-       Choose to believe God has prepared you to do great things
-       Choose to believe you were created for purpose…on purpose
-       Choose to believe that with God…You will overcome 

Choosing means that you have control over thinking as a victim who is powerless or choose to be an overcomer, trusting that God’s word is TRUE!

God told us in 2 Timothy 1:7, that He did not give us fear (panic) but POWER…LOVE…SOUND MIND!

If God gave us POWER to change the atmosphere then we can change our perspective to Gods view point.  When our perspective is toxic to our soul, then we have the power to accept them or dismantle them and see through God’s view point.  

Without the weapons of POWER, LOVE, and a SOUND MIND that God gave us to conquer the thoughts of fear, we wouldn’t be able to follow through with this scripture, in the Message Bible phrased like this, 2 Corinthians 10:5-7, “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 a 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 10:5, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

God’s word says that with the tools he gave us, we can actually capture and tear down specific thoughts in our mind, so I think it’s safe to say that we can conquer wrong thinking through Christ.  But how is that even possible?  IT’S ACTUALLY RIGHT IN PLAIN SIGHT IN THE BIBLE!  Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God” The power of prayer has been proven over and over throughout history. Capturing your thoughts requires stillness … UH OH!  Some of us just walked out of the room because that is nearly impossible with our busy hectic lifestyles. Most of us feel we have no time for prayer but if we don’t have time for prayer then our thoughts, emotions and feelings continue calling the shots in our life

2.    Change Your Thinking.
Stop…Challenge…and Choose is this :
Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent and praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Every now and then, I run into someone who is different.  They are always happy, always calm, always think the best in people, nothing phases them, they are almost impossible to offend.  Their peace and joy are contagious. I walk away thinking…”Wow, I don’t know how they are that way, but I want to be that way.”  Then I have to realize…Philippians 4:8 – THEY CHOSE LOVE!  They chose to view life through God’s eyes and not their own. They chose God’s heart and fiercely rejected the negative lies of the enemy.

We can be the inspectors and quality controllers of our thoughts.  When the wrong perceptions and perspectives come along the conveyor belt of our minds and thought factory…We must examine them…challenge where they came from who they came from…if they don’t meet up with the standards of God’s Word…we can choose to remove them from our hearts/ minds and replace them with the word of God and what God says about us and over us.

Look what Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)tells us, “For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” More times than not, our thoughts and feelings are going to challenge the word of God.  The Word of God is going to challenge your fleshly thoughts and the rough and stubborn areas of our life. But it will also give you strength to lean in to the real answers and to the truth!  God’s word will shift your wrong mindsets and misconceptions and replace them with FAITH! It will heal your heart and comfort you in the darkest places of your life.Proverbs 23:7 lays it out so clear, “As someone thinks within himself, so he is.” God’s word does not offer empty promises, but real hope!

3.    Stop Comparing  - Can we please just stop comparing ourselves to other people and where other people are in life? 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV), “We do not dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  So many of us twist ourselves up in knots, never satisfied, trying to live up to someone else or be like someone else or something were not. (I’ve been guilty at times) Trying to fill some endless list of qualities and qualifications and capabilities that we think will somehow fulfill us or give us the attention that we so desperately desire in our flesh concept of success.  God doesn’t need another…..(Insert your name here)! HE NEEDS YOU!  He made you on Purpose…With a purpose!

Here is my challenge to everyone today– Instead of asking God to change your situation, complaining about your life, to change other people … Maybe we should ask God to change our perspective and our perception. How about we Stopblaming, making excuses, looking for reasons to be offended - Challengethe thoughts that were dwelling on - measure them up against the Word of God and what God says about us and over us - And Chooseto walk in Gods truth OVER the enemy’s lies.

Realize that so many times … The obstacle is the way!  Stope worrying about the obstacle and start viewing it as a means to the promise.  The way is THROUGH the SEA… THROUGH the PRISON…OVER the MOUNTAIN…THROUGH the FIERY FURNACE…THROUGH the LIONS DEN…and ON A CROSS!

How do you think God wants to change your perception/response today to life’s choices? Maybe you are dealing with fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy, bitterness or inadequacy?  Whatever you are facing…could it be that you have an opportunity to walk out of it with a TESTIMONY?! The Apostle Paul prayed that someone would be able to change their perception.  Look at Ephesians 1:18 (HCSB), “I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints.” The (NLT) version says that I pray your hearts will be flooded with light.” Can you imagine if you allowed God to direct your emotions, choices and attitudes?  Can you imagine waking up and walking through a dark situation or season, but then all of a sudden…All the lights get turned on for you?!  Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” God walks with us in situations where it is hard to see clearly and illuminates the path by which we can be led to healing, wholeness, and freedom and joy.

In the 5000 plus choices you make today, I pray that you take a moment to STOP…CHALLENGE…CHOOSE.  I pray you ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance and His counsel and His direction before reacting.  CHOOSE to FOLLOW the Holy Spirit as HE LEADS the way.


PRAYER:  Dear Father, some days are challenging and my emotions get the best of me. Some days, my words or decisions come from a place of pain or frustration and insecurity.  Today, I want to see through your eyes in order to change my perspective. Today, as I make all those 5000+ choices, I ask that you turn on the flood light for my mind to see clearly. Walk with me, speak life to me, and remind me of how my emotions and choices affect others.  Help me to lead out of love and security in knowing who I am called to be.  Help me not to compare myself to others and fully embrace all you have called me to be. Help me to follow the leading of Your Holy Spirit so that I can be a life giver and encourager to those you bring into my life.  Help me to bring value through your Word in every situation.  As I draw near to you, I know you will draw near to me.  Thank you, Father, AMEN.

____________________________________________________

Watch Evangelist/Author Karen Schatzline share this powerful new word on a recent episode of "The Breathing Room".


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Too Much Baggage

We recently went on a trip.  Like normal, I took WAY TOO MUCH IN MY LUGGAGE! I always do!  Stuff I didn’t need, never used, unnecessary weight.  I pack it …. Just in case I might need it. Anyone else like me? 

I have learned that there are two types of people:

Type 1The UNDER PACKER – This person just throws whatever in their bag and just wants to spend as little time as possible on the task.  They will just worry about what they didn’t bring when they get there.  This person causes me great anxiety! Lol.

Type 2The OVER PACKER – This person will pack every single thing that will make the trip seem as if you never left home at all.  You will never lack or be in need of anything because you brought EVERYTHING!  You are prepared for every type of weather/event/or unexpected disaster! And on top of it all, they must completely clean/organize the house before leaving as if you may never make it back and someone will see your house un-kept. In case you haven’t guessed – I AM THIS TYPE OF PACKER

Did you know that there is another type of baggage that we tend to over-pack with, unnecessary items and and things we hold on to that weighs us down in life? Sometimes I have to just take a deep breath and unpack and restart to lighten the load. Why do we hang on to the emotional and spiritual baggage?  So many times, we hold on to hurt, pain, doubt, guilt, shame, fear, anger, insecurities and all kinds of issues that weigh us down.  It is unnecessary.  In all of these situations, the Bible tells us that we can let it go, clean it out, and move on and leave it behind.

Recently, while cleaning out closets, I noticed I had held on to items that were of no use and of no value to our lives anymore.  Why did we keep them?  We paid too much for them? We didn’t want to admit we never needed them to begin with? Or we fought so hard to get something we didn’t need? Just like we can become hoarders of stuff and things, many times, we can become Spiritual and emotional hoarders. Maybe sometimes, we use the extra baggage to hide behind because we feel inadequate and insecure.We find it so difficult to let go of old habits and old mindsets.  All The while, the Holy Spirit is trying to get us to unclench our tight knuckled fists to let go of the things that are holding us back and weighing us down, but so often, we just can’t let go, because we need them….Just in Case!  In case….What? 

In case God doesn’t do what He says He will do?
In case that person hurts us again?
In case we get disappointed again or mistreated again?
In case we need to use our anger/bitterness to get revenge?
In case we don’t get that job or opportunity?
In case we need to blame when things don’t work out the way we want?
In case we get sick again?
In case we get an unexpected bill in the mail?

Doesn’t it really boil down to lack of trust?  Do we really trust God?  In times of stress and pain, when we should be relying on God, these old mindsets rear their ugly heads and cause us more pain, grief and fear in our lives. How can we reach the place God has for us when we are so burdened down by all the load of baggage we have collected over the years?  Baggage like fear, anger, bitterness, jealousy and confusion?   What good can ever come from holding on to it? This baggage blatantly stands between us and our real, tangible Spiritual Growth and freedom. 

We have all picked up baggage along the way in life, odds are you picked up a few bags already today. Somewhere between the first steps out of the bed and reaching the front door you grabbed a few bags today.  You stepped up to the baggage claim carousel and loaded up.  Maybe you don’t remember doing it or it has become a daily habit that we are unaware of.  Today, Our baggage carousel is not at the airport….It’s in our mind. Maybe you have a suitcase of resentment or discontentment.   A duffel bag of exhaustion and weariness.  A carry-on of grief and lost dreams. Or maybe a backpack of doubt.  A beautifully decorated overnight bag of loneliness or a whole trunk-load of fear.

We carry the same emotional baggage with us into each new day and each new year.  Pretty soon your pulling more luggage than you can carry and we wonder why we are so tired, exhausted and mentally wore out by the end of the day.  How about we unpack the luggage today and clean it out? When our Spirits are so dry, weary and run down from carrying so much baggage, we can’t be who we need to be and do all that we are called to do.  We have no joy, hope or life to give to others. But the Bible tells us this…

Matthew 11:28-30 (tpt), “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden?  Then come to me.  I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.  Simply join your life with mine.  Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please.  You will find refreshment and rest in me.  For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.”

All throughout the Bible there were those who carried heavy baggage.  Their baggage could have hindered them from moving into their now moment and their destiny.  Some did allow their baggage to hinder their destiny,  In 1 Samuel 9 & 10, we learn about Saul.  Saul was chosen by God after the Israelites decided they wanted a King.  Saul had a lot of baggage.  Even though God chose him!  He still battled with holding onto baggage and even hid among the baggage.  He battled insecurity and inferiority even though he was tall in stature and a head taller than all the others.  He battled with trusting God and did everything his own way and in his own strength.  These issues would eventually lead to his demise.  He never laid down the baggage to step forward in what God had for him.

In Genesis 19, we are told of Lot’s wife, who turned into a pillar of salt, because she could not let go of the baggage in her life.  She held on to bitterness, familiarity, and did not trust God for something better. She could not let go of what seemed comfortable to receive her freedom. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any excess baggage slowing me down or hindering my freedom and victory and purpose.  

Look at those who DID let go of the baggage in order to move on and get to the promises of God. Look at Noah…He was laughed at and mocked and made to feel stupid, but He trusted God’s will and God’s plan and he and his family were saved. Look at Moses…He had a LOT OF BAGGAGE…He was abandoned as a baby…rejected by his own people….he was a murder…left on the back side of the desert for years….Had a stuttering issue and lied to over and over….YET HE did NOT let it keep him from doing what God had called him to do and bringing deliverance to God’s people. However, the one bag he could not let go of, his anger, caused him to not get to enter into the promise land.  Look at David….1 Samuel 17…David was illegitimate …he was mocked by his brothers and could have held on to the baggage of loneliness while being stuck out in a pasture with a bunch of sheep.  He wasn’t even invited to be counted when all the brothers were called in for one to be anointed as king….Yet he would become king and be called a man after God’s own heart.  

Look at the book of Esther….Esther was an orphan who was a nobody…She was poor….She had to deal with racism and ridicule….She had every reason to carry around the baggage of despair…depression…anger….bitterness….and doubt….low self-esteem and insecurity.  Yet…She laid all the baggage down in order to step into her now moment and rescue an entire generation of people for God….What if she had not laid down the weight of her past and pain…An entire people group would have been erased from history.

No matter what baggage you are holding on to today, let it go!  You could be the very one to bring deliverance to a generation who have lost hope.  The enemy wants to keep you weighed down by all the baggage life has burdened you with.  Stop carrying things that were not intended for you and let God lighten your load.

Believe it or not….God gives us a word for every bag we have collected and what to do to let it go. If you don’t know what to do with that extra baggage, let’s start here:

1. If you are struggling with a bag of Sin today- 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  How about letting go of it today and pick up freedom.  

2.  Bag of anxiety- 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Philippians 4:6 says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Psalm 94:19, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

3.  Bag of Anger and bitterness - Ephesians 4:26 says,  “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”  Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind ad compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

4.  Bag of  Worry  - Isaiah 26:3 says, “He will keep in perfect peace, those whose mind are stayed on Him.”

5. Bag of uncertainty of the future - Jeremiah 29:11, “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.” Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

6. Bag of narcissism and no one else knows what you are facing- Hebrews 12:1,  “Therefore, we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

7.  Bag of doubt and distrust - Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge God, and he will make your paths straight.” Matthew 21:21, Jesus replied, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.”

8. Bag of Fear - 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of Fear, but of Power, Love, and a Sound Mind.” Isaiah 41:13-14, “'For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,' declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”

9.  Bag of insecurity and inadequacy- Philippians 4:23, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

10. Bag of fear of FAILURE-   1 Chronicles 22:13 tells us that if we Follow God’s commands and He will give you success, do not be afraid. Proverbs 2:6-8, tells us that He plans success for the decent and honorable, he guards the course and protects the way of his faithful ones.  

So I ask you this today, as you are reading, "What baggage are you holding onto today and what baggage do you continually pick up every morning?" Isn’t it time to unpack the bags and let go of the unnecessary, unfruitful, burdensome baggage that has so weighed you down for such a long time. Aren’t you ready for the weight to be lifted so that you can run your race strong, free, full of joy and life and passion.  Let it go!

Make a quick list of all of your bags and how much time and energy you spend lugging them around.  Think about how your physical, emotional and spiritual health and growth has been hindered by them.  Take a few moments in prayer today as you finally lay them out one by one and put them in the discard pile for God to carry off to the dump.

As you unpack each area, ask God to fill that space and void with His love, joy, purpose, freedom and spirit.  This time, don't pick them back up.  Turn around and walk away and leave them at His feet!  God is saying to you, "Set that baggage down!"  You are carrying burdens you don't need to bear.  Come to me, EVERYONE.  He invites you and says, Matthew 11:28-30, "Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned our on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you'll recover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

__________________________________

You can hear Karen Schatzline share more on "Too Much Baggage" by watching this powerful recent episode of her biweekly vlog, "The Breathing Room".  Just click the YouTube link below: