Who Inspires You?

Not too long ago I was asked in an interview, “Who inspires you?”. My immediate answer was my dad. I was surprised that I didn’t even have to think about this answer. It just kind of shot out of me the minute I was given the opportunity to reply. And now as I take the time to think about my answer it still remains the same, with the addition of my mom, my grandparents, my siblings, Granny Rogers (my great grandmother whom this blog was inspired by), and above all my Lord Jesus Christ.

I don’t know what kind of response my interviewer expected, maybe a well-known war hero or a highly achieved businessman like Bill Gates. Though their stories of sacrifice and success are inspiring, I find more inspiration from the little things that I get the privilege to witness everyday. Little things like waking up long before it’s light out to cook breakfast for a group of volunteers or to attend a Bible study. Things like giving up time and wants to serve and give to others. Things like knowing just the right moment when someone needs a hug or to hear I love you. Things like remembering to say thank you and appreciate others. Things like handing down prayer journals, Bibles, and devotional books so that others can share in your Christian journey.

Let me just stop and talk about that last “little thing” I just mentioned. Granny Rogers died when I was just a baby, but I still got the privilege of knowing her. How you ask? Through the Bibles and prayers and devotions she left behind. In these beaten up, torn books browned with age I discover Granny’s struggles, blessings, and faith in Jesus Christ. I learn from her journey as she walks with me through mine. It is such a great blessing and I bet she had no clue of the impact it would continue to make in her offspring.

That being said, I encourage you to start keeping journals. Write your struggles and successes, prayer request, revelations from God, and all the rest in the margins of your Bible. Underline your favorite verses. Write out your thoughts on the margins of your devotional books and record heartfelt, honest prayers in a journal. Most importantly save them for yourself to reflect back on as well as for future generations. The more torn and ragged they are the better- that means they have been used. Trust me, it is the greatest gift you can give someone you love.

I was blessed beyond measure with family that inspires me to be better than I was yesterday and to glorify the Lord in service to others. I understand that not everyone’s family life is ideal. There are a lot of broken families out there and inspiration is the last thing some may find in family. However, inspiration can always be found in Our Lord who forgives when forgiveness is undeserved, who loves the unlovable, who rescues the abandoned, who reaches out to the forsaken, who restores the broken, who overcomes the enemy, who died for the unrighteous.

Who inspires you? What inspires you? It’s okay if it’s a sports star or famous figure. It’s okay if it is not a family member. But if the Lord Jesus is not on your list, some things need to change for your benefit. Ask the Lord to show you some inspiration from Him today and He will be faithful to do just that!

 

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Subtle Reminders

You know how you can hear a song or a phrase or a verse of scripture several times but it has no effect at the moment; then, one day those words ring in your head over and over. Well, that is exactly what happened to me on this wonderful Friday morning.

I heard a song on K-love on my way to work. A song I’ve heard millions of times before, but a song I just sang without thinking about the words. Again, this morning I sang the familiar words. However, this time it was different as I kept repeating the words to the tune stuck in my head, “this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long”.

Time and time again I’m amazed at the subtle yet very effective ways God changes my thoughts and attitude. In the simplest manner He can turn my heart to praise. I wouldn’t say I was in a bad mood this morning but I was tired and lethargic and not terribly excited about beginning my day. But the Lord changed all that by the subconscious repetition of the words of a song in my head. I mean you can’t help but to feel joyous and revived when you sing words like that.

It took several times repeating those words before I stopped and said to myself, “Hmm, praising my SaviorĀ  all the day long, what reason do I have not to do that?”. I have endless reasons to praise my Savior, starting with the reason He was given that name. He died for me and for you in order that we would have eternal life with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:10). If nothing else, we can praise Him all day long for that heroic action.

If I tried to list all the reasons I have to praise the Lord all throughout this day, I would run out of space. We all have reasons to praise God whether our life is in shambles or we are on cloud nine. Let God use subtle reminders to redirect your heart towards praise. Think of reasons to offer praise, write them down, and join me in praising our Savior, not just right now, but all the day long.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

What Do You Think About?

“And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8.
This verse is challenging in our society today, as we are bombarded by news of criminal actions, death, and more. It’s hard to think positively in the midst of the world’s problems sometimes; however, it is necessary. The mind is Satan’s favorite thing to manipulate because he knows that it is where destruction begins. If he can alter our thinking, he has a much better chance at altering our actions.
When thoughts of the world’s issues constantly circulate our minds we open the door for hopelessness, disparity, and negativity, all of which do not reflect a life saved by God’s grace. On the contrary, when we focus our thoughts on positive things we close the door to Satan’s attacks. God knows how effective Satan’s attacks on the mind can be when we are not focused on Him. For this reason He gave us instruction on how to direct our thinking.
First, on what is true. God’s Word is the undeniable truth. We must filter everything we hear through God’s Word. You may hear from others that you are worthless, tempting you to think this of yourself as well. However, that is not the truth rather it is a direct contradiction to the Word of God. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them”. God crafted each one of us with great care for a specific purpose. No one is worthless in the Kingdom of God.
Second, on what is honorable. Several actions bring honor to God. Several actions bring dishonor to God. Purposely choose to think on those things that bring honor to God. For example, say you read about a mass murder and about the completed construction of a new church building on the same day. Which of those actions brings honor to the Lord? Which of those actions promotes positive thinking? Clearly, the establishment of a new church would bring honor to the Lord and promote positive thinking.
Third, on what is right. Not what is right in our own eyes, but what is right in God’s eyes. “For there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death,” says Proverbs 16:25. Thus, we cannot go by our judgment of right and wrong, but rather seek God’s guidance. He gives us commandments to guide us to right living as well as a conscious to tell us when we have done wrong. When our thoughts dwell on things that are not right, we will know. It is then our responsibility to think on what is right, such as loving others and forgiveness.
Fourth, on what is pure. Pure in the biblical sense often means without sin or corruption. In the dictionary you will find definitions saying something similar to “not mixed with anything else”, “containing nothing that does not belong”, and “clean”. Our thoughts should not be polluted with negativity and thoughts that do not fit the Christian lifestyle. They should be clean. They should be pure. Impure thoughts will cross your mind because we are by nature impure sinners. However, once Jesus enters our lives He on the inside of us is pure and He can replace our unclean thoughts with pure thoughts. All we have to do is ask.
Fifth, on what is lovely. So what is lovely? God’s beautiful creation is lovely. The sound of birds singing in the morning is lovely. The site of children kneeling by their bedside to pray. The changes that come with each new season, from summer blooms to the colors of fall to the winter snow. Just look around you. It’s impossible not to find something lovely to dwell on. The choice is yours if you do or not.
Sixth, on what is admirable. The news usually broadcast stories of disaster, but there is also often a heroic story that can be found among the mess. For example, not too long ago a young American risked his life to save people he did not even know and who were not his countrymen either on a train to France. That is definitely an admirable action worthy of recognition. However, though there are several people in this world that we can admire, there is none more worthy of our admiration than God our Father. Choose to focus on those stories and people who follow the ways of our God. Choose to focus on the admirable action of Jesus Christ who died a horrific death for us while we were still His enemies.
Lastly, on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Things like a friend who was diagnosed with a terminal illness and miraculously healed by our God. Like an orphan child being accepted into a new loving home. Like a man who was let go at work finding a new job after months of searching. Like a lost soul accepting God’s salvation and grace. The list can go on for eternity. There are so many excellent things our Lord does in this world, and He deserves unending praise.
Let your thoughts be filled with truth, honor, righteousness, purity, love, admiration, excellence, and praise today. Leave no room for negativity to creep in. Ask God to be in control of your thoughts and be amazed at what He shows you.

Be Thankful

Since it’s November, Thanksgiving month, I have been naming one thing that I am thankful for each today. The past four days I have thanked the Lord for my family, my home, my health, and my friends. This morning, however, thankfulness was the last thing on my mind.

I had pleaded with God on several occasions throughout this week and last to intervene in someone’s life and perform a miracle. I truly believed He would and that the life I asked Him to revive would be revived. But the Lord had different plans and that life was taken last night. This morning after I heard the news I felt disappointed, heartbroken, and let down. I struggled through my prayer until the Lord brought me to a place of understanding.

God always has our best interest in mind. Our vision is finite, but His is infinite. He can see well beyond what we see, and sometimes the things He allows to happen are protecting us from harm in the future. Sometimes He allows things for the purpose of strengthening our faith, giving us an opportunity to have an encounter with Him like never before. Whatever the reason, God is good and He works all things (good or bad) for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

After coming to that realization, I am ready to give the Lord thanks. Ironically, I thank Him for life. I am thankful for life here on earth yes, but I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving for life eternal. Life on earth is temporary, but life in heaven with my Father is everlasting. How can I not give thanks for a love that promises eternal life? How can I not give thanks for a love that reaches down to the lowest pit to pick me up and fill me with hope? How can I not give thanks for a Messiah that promises to take me home? How can I not give thanks for a Savior that gave His life to give me mine?