Give and It Shall Be Given

Give,flat tire and it will be given to you; a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over–will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. ~ Luke 6:38 (HCSB)

Have you ever wondered about that whole measuring thing?

I’ve heard it explained a couple of different ways… if you give generously, you will receive generously; if you give sparingly, you will receive sparingly. But I’ve also heard that this means if you give a $5 you’ll get back $5s.  And that’s what leads me to this little story.

Sometimes we give without reservation… something in us just says it’s the right thing to do. Other times, there is something that tells us not to give. I remember a time when Peter said he had no money to give a crippled man sitting at the gate. I don’t believe for a minute that Peter was broke, but what he had to give was worth so much more than silver or gold! (Acts 3)

What Peter had to give the crippled man was worth far more than silver or gold. Click To Tweet

I was reminded of this incident in my life by a tale going around on Facebook about Kevin Costner complimenting the residents of our town for helping him with a flat tire when they had no idea who he was. Nice story… but Facebook returned similar stories for other towns in the United States, and only the name of the town had been changed. But I digress…

The point is, I could have been the one who helped Kevin Costner with his flat… Let me explains.

My son and I were in town one Sunday evening… small town in the Bible Belt, our sidewalks roll up early — especially on Sunday. (In fact, some businesses don’t open at all). We were on our way home and noticed a man on the side of the road talking into his cell phone and looking lost. We pulled over to see if he needed help.

Change a flatHe and his wife were travelling to the West Coast and had a flat tire on the interstate. He was trying to find a tire store. We gave him a ride to Walmart and waited outside for him. Unfortunately, they had just closed their automotive department and couldn’t help him. There were no other options in town, and they didn’t have a spare. They also didn’t have much money.

He told us that a relative in Washington was taking them on a cruise for their honeymoon. They had never had the money or the opportunity to go on a honeymoon after they were married.

We bought a can of fix a flat and took him back to his car. We took off the tire, used the fix a flat, and took the tire to the gas station to refill it with air. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The tire was still flat.

This was one of those times when something inside of me said I had to help this couple. The problem was… how?

I came up with a crazy idea… our tires looked about the same size.  My son Nick confirmed that they were. So, I offered to loan them my spare. They couldn’t believe it! They promised to bring it back to me on their way back home in a few weeks. We exchanged cell phone numbers. They even called me when they arrived in Washington so we wouldn’t worry about them.

I never heard from them again.

I never got my spare back.

That was in May. Fast forward to December. I still had no spare. My tires were getting in pretty bad shape and I didn’t have the money to replace them. Funny how that works. Tires never last. They always have to be replaced. Yet it always seems to catch me by surprise. I ended up having to replace one of the tires when I got a flat.

Then something amazing happened…

I was given a certificate for a full set of tires for Christmas.  I went to a local auto salvage yard and bought a wheel for my newly purchased tire. Just like that, I had four brand new tires… and a spare again!

overflowing

Pressed down, shaken together, running over, in like measure.

It might not seem like much to you. To me, it was a miracle from God.

You may not have much… but there is always something you can give. And God loves a cheerful giver.

Be open to miracles. They happen every day.

 

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The 12-Year Itch

infinite imageI spent a lot of time reflecting on my life this weekend… I tend to do that every year on Labor Day weekend. You see, 12 years ago this weekend, I uprooted my family and moved to Arkansas. It was probably the biggest, boldest decision I had ever made in my life. I didn’t know anyone here, but I had a job offer, and it was love at first sight when I saw the beauty of the state for the first time.

But this year was different. I had noticed a pattern. You’ve probably heard of the 7-year itch… a discontentment that occurs in many marriages after 7 years. Apparently, I am on a 12-year cycle with my life.

The past 36 years of my life have been split into 3 equal sections of 12 years. I moved to Arkansas 12 years ago. 12 years before that, I had my son and we moved from Southern California back to Northern California where I was born and raised.  12 years before that, I had left Northern California for Southern California.

Over the past week or two, I began to think of all of the other significant “twelves”. There are 12 months in a year. Education typically lasts for 12 years. There are 12 numbers on a clock to represent the 12 hours of the morning, and 12 hours of the evening.

I began to wonder if there was any spiritual significance to the number 12. After all, there were 12 tribes of Judah, Jacob had 12 sons, Jesus chose 12 disciples, 12 cakes of unleavened bread placed in the temple by the priests, the New Jerusalem has 12 gates of pearl, the 144 thousand spoken of in Revelation is 12 x 12,000…

As it turns out, there is a pretty significant meaning to the number 12. It is considered a perfect number and symbolizes God’s power and authority and also symbolizes completeness.

The past three 12-year sections of my life each began with a physical move, a change in living situations, a change in jobs, and a huge shift for me personally and spiritually. I can definitely see the hand of God in my life and circumstances. Each cycle has brought me closer to him.

When I moved from Northern California to Southern California in 1980, I left behind the church I was raised in. It had become too confining, and seemed far too legalistic. It seemed to me as though they believed you could earn your way to heaven through good deeds. I didn’t understand much about the concept of grace. But being a worm, THAT I understood perfectly well. On the other hand, religion also seemed like a spiritual crap shoot… God might save you, he might heal you, he might protect you… but there were no guarantees, and there was really nothing you could do about it, because God’s ways are mysterious.

I fell into the Science of Mind philosophy in Southern California — at least it was supposed to be a philosophy, but grew into a church. Ernest Holmes’s idea was to create a philosophy of prayer that could be used by anyone in any denomination. It was an interesting concept. He took the life of Jesus, and scripture, and humanized it. Jesus became a teacher and example, not the Son of God. Again grace and Savior were missing from the equation. It was all very scientific with words like Universal Mind replacing God the Father. Everything was reduced to a formula and science… it was all based on law. Do this, and that will happen. God was reduced to the same level as the law of gravity. Yet, I somehow felt it was closer to the truth than what I had experienced before.

My move back to Northern California found me trying to fit in once again to the church I was raised in. The experiment was short lived. I found the elders of the church had much in common with the hypocrites and vipers Jesus dealt with. I threw myself into service at the church… providing special music, running the sound board, even teaching children in Sabbath school. Then Volunteer Sabbath rolled around. I received a call from the church board the Friday evening before service, and was told that my name wouldn’t be read out loud for me to come to the front of the church during the recognition. I assumed it was because I had never been baptized in the church, and said as much. My explanation was not argued. It wasn’t until after service the next day that I discovered the truth. A friend asked me why I wasn’t called forward, when I told him it was because I wasn’t a baptized member of the church, he said he wasn’t either… I realized then it was because I was an unwed mother. The amazing hypocrisy was that I was good enough to provide special music, and to teach their children Bible stories, for Pete’s sake!, but not good enough to have my name read aloud in church in recognition for my service. Other than attending funerals, I have never attended that church again.

My move to Arkansas brought me to my current church home. At the Russellville Christian Center, I found the missing piece of the puzzle. Here, grace abounds. Here, we are taught about a loving Savior who paid the price for our sins. Here, we are taught that we have a personal responsibility — not to earn our way to heaven, that is a gift of grace — but to walk out our salvation here on earth. We are told not to conform to this world but to be transformed by the word of God. Here, we are taught not only that we shouldn’t cast stones because we have all sinned, and that God doesn’t condemn us for our past mistakes, but we are also told to go and sin no more. Not only did Arkansas feel like home, but so does my church. I was finally baptized, not into a denomination, but in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Another 12 years has come and gone. I sit here wondering what God has in store for me next. I have no doubt change is coming. I don’t believe that change will involve a physical move this time. But I have a feeling I am on the edge of something new and exciting. Another 12-year cycle is complete. I’m keeping my eyes on him, and know that he will light the path ahead of me. I don’t need to know where I’m going, I just need to take that next step.

Wherever life takes you… remember to trust, and enjoy the journey.

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Consistency

ConsistencyIt is without a doubt the biggest key to success. It will out perform talent, luck, social standing, or any other quality you can think of.  You can have the worst possible odds stacked against you, and still come out ahead if you have this one quality going for you.  Consistency!

It’s something many of us struggle with. It’s easy to get excited about something… a new idea, a new job, a new workout program… but when the “new” wears off, where does that leave you?

Unless you are consistent, you just won’t see the results you are hoping for.

I would like to say that I’m super consistent. And sometimes I am! When I started my fitness journey, I worked out almost every day for 3 1/2 years. The only days I took off were scheduled rest days. The payoff was amazing progress. I lost weight, I developed muscle, I looked younger than I had in years, my blood pressure dropped down to the level of an athlete. I had to buy new clothes because my old ones were too big. It was great! I even entered a bikini contest. I didn’t win, but that was okay. I shouldn’t have. The winners were far more fit and muscular than I was. And it was an amazing experience just being on stage to celebrate what I had achieved.

Then I took the advice of everyone… family, friends, acquaintances — even professional body builders — and I took a month off, that became six weeks, and then eight weeks… I had the hardest time finding momentum again to be consistent. I thought maybe a new workout program would do it. It didn’t. I thought maybe a new goal altogether would do it. So, I signed up for the Little Rock Marathon. I ran the marathon, but training for that was a struggle as well, and I didn’t do anything after the marathon.

Not that I didn’t “try”. I started, stopped, had a bunch of excuses why I couldn’t do it.

Then I had to start wearing size 8’s because my size 6 jeans didn’t fit anymore.

The hardest thing to get into shape is the first to go when you stop working out. Click To Tweet

Let me tell you a little secret about fitness. The hardest thing to get into shape (abs for me), the thing that takes the longest, is the first to go when you stop working out.

Maybe taking a break would be the right thing for you to do. Apparently it was the right thing for the body builders who recommended I do that. But, for me, it was wrong, wrong, wrong!

One full year after I was in the best shape of my life, I am happy to say that I am in Week 3 of consistently working out again… every day. If I miss my morning workout, I get it done before I go to bed that night. If it’s a rest day, I work on flexibility. Three weeks in, I’m starting to get back that familiar feeling of not wanting to miss my workout — and, I’m starting to see results again. My clothes aren’t as tight as they were. My muscles are becoming more defined. I’m hopeful that I’ll get back to where I was much faster this time around.

You will never achieve what you were created and designed to do without consistency. Click To Tweet

So, why am I telling you this? Because there is something you want to be, do or have in your life. There is something that is important to you, and you’ve just been dabbling in it. It’s time to commit and become consistent. You will never achieve everything you were created and designed to do until you learn to become consistent.

There is not a single human activity that doesn’t require consistency for excellence. Relationships require it. Occupations require it. Artistic endeavors require it. Physical fitness requires it.

Sometimes we have too much going on to be able to be consistent. That’s what I’ve been struggling with. Your job, then, is to simplify your life. Find things that you don’t need to do that are taking precious time away from what you have to do in order to succeed. Hire someone if necessary to free up your time. But find a way to be consistent.

You will never succeed without consistency. With consistency, you will outshine the brightest star in your field.

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Faith, Prayer and Health

girl-15599_1920I was raised in a church that seemed like it was focused more on the law than on grace. At 18, I decided to leave the church and make my own way. Still, having been raised in church and on God’s Word, it seemed as though something was missing in my life.

I then stumbled on New Thought and thought that was my answer.  Where the church I grew up in made me feel a great deal of personal responsibility for my life, it also made me feel as though I was powerless.  With New Thought, I understood that not only was I responsible, but I also had the power to change my circumstances. It didn’t deal with the law, except for the law of cause and effect, but it also didn’t deal with grace or with the hereafter. God was depersonalized into a “Universal Mind”, and spirituality was held up as a science, a formula for success in the here and now. It was based on the teachings of Jesus, but only as an example, not as a savior.

After I moved to Arkansas, I found a non-denominational, full-gospel church. What does “full-gospel” mean? Many Christians believe the gospel is that Jesus died for your sins so that you could have eternal life. And that is the gospel… or at least part of it. The “full gospel” is that salvation is complete. Not only did he provide for spiritual salvation, bringing us into right relationship with the Father again, but he also provided salvation from temporal evils – the three-fold curse of the law. He destroyed the power of the enemy, and through faith in his works, we can be free of sickness and disease and poverty as well as eternal death.

One of the most difficult parts of this teaching is that God has done everything he is going to do for us. Scripture tells us that we aren’t supposed to call Jesus down here to do anything else. He has already done everything he can. Our salvation is complete. To think he needs to come and do something else, would be like saying his death, burial and resurrection wasn’t enough.

We can see that healing is for everyone, because scripture clearly states that he healed everyone who came to him. You can’t find a single instance in God’s Word that says Jesus shook his head and told someone they just had to bear that cross, or that God was trying to teach them something. He went about doing good and healing the sick and freeing those oppressed by the enemy.

If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, then I have to accept that his will hasn’t changed and healing is for everyone.

The other important thing to recognize in scripture is that in most cases, Jesus said “Your faith has made you whole.”  Especially in the case of the woman with the issue of blood, he didn’t even know who had touched him, but she was made whole because of her faith.

runnersNow that the preamble is out of the way, let me tell you one of the things that hurts my heart. It hurts to see Christians, the body of Christ, suffer with sickness when healing has been provided for us. But, it’s important to not “mingle” our seed. If we want health, we need to accept it, but we also need to act as if.

Did you know that 70% of chronic illness is preventable?

Do I believe that the power of God is available to heal us? Yes! His Word says that it is. I also believe we have to do our part. If we aren’t eating right and getting exercise, how can we expect to be healthy?

And yes, God can anything.  But he won’t over ride our will.

In the Old Testament, I believe we used to see more divine intervention than we see today. The flood of Noah, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the earth opening up and swallowing people.  Clearly, these are examples of God stepping in and taking control. But, these events were before our salvation was complete and, I believe, they were necessary steps to protect God’s plan. He was watching over his word to perform it, and making sure it didn’t return to him void. Once Jesus became the word made flesh and provided salvation for us, his work was done. It’s now up to us to be his hands and feet in the earth.

So, if you’re sitting around stuffing yourself with greasy hamburgers, chips and sodas, watching Netflix and wondering why you are overweight and unhealthy and God isn’t answering your prayers…

God can only do for us what he can do through us. Click To Tweet

The fact is, God can only do for us what he can do through us. And it’s difficult to have faith for health if we know we are ignoring the simple things we can do in the natural to be healthy.

Faith, prayer and health. I think they are all important. But your body is physical. Don’t you think you might need to do something in the physical to improve it?

BB ClassicOne year ago today, I was in the best health of my life. I was at the Beach Body summit in Nashville, TN, getting ready for the Classic Swim Suit Competition.  I’m sorry to say that I have lost a lot of ground. I listened to people who advised me to take some time off. I won’t do that again.

I’ve started working out daily again; even though I work insane hours (typically 60+ hours a week). For three years, I had a “No Excuse” mentality, and my physical transformation was amazing. If you are ready to get off the couch and start getting yourself into the best shape of your life, but don’t know where to start, or just want some support on the journey, comment below, or send me a message. I’d love to help you on your journey. And I’d love to have some accountability partners to make sure I stay on track! If you wear a Fitbit and want a challenge partner, look for Cheree, but be forewarned:  I’m pretty competitive!

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