Beauty Through Suffering

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.(1 Cor 4:17-18)

 

Fall 2018

What is your first reaction when faced with extreme stress, pain or fear in your life? Do you thank God for the opportunity to learn more about Him? I'd be lying if I said that was my first reaction. Yet, the Psalmist (likely King David) was able to proclaim this very desire as he penned the words of Psalm 119:71. I wonder how long it took him to get to that point of complete surrender to God's plan for his life. What did he have to believe? What do we?

To eventually accept afflictions in life (after the initial shock goes away, of course) with some measure of joy and thanksgiving rather than with an attitude of anger and despair, it helps if we believe that hardship and pain can be for our greater good.  The way God designed EVERYTHING points to this truth.

Without an ending there can be no new beginning.

Consider the planet Earth's four seasons, especially, Autumn.  Have you ever stopped to think that tree foliage is the most stunning for only a mere portion of its existence, and  near the end its life span?

When summer turns to autumn and the days get colder and shorter, leaves burst into brilliant color when life-giving nutrients fade away. The changing conditions produce beauty in the leaf's "suffering", preparing the tree for the harsh winter to come. And eventually the warmth and new life of Spring comes again. Always.

We are like that tree.

What change is grieving and challenging you? How are you reacting to it?

Remember, sometimes a part of has to die so we can truly live. Hardship and pain bring about "endings" that can, if we let them ...

... Protect us from greater disaster,

... Propel us to greater achievements, and

... Permit us to experience the comfort of God. 

Dear friends, the end can better than the beginning, because the end IS the beginning.  God will do the new thing, Spring will come, and your life will flourish again. In the meantime, ask God to make you stunningly beautiful through it all. 


Born to Reign

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I  heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." - Revelation 5:13 NASB

This month, I've been studying Revelation in preparation to facilitate Beth Moore's new study Here and Now, Then and There. While I've studied Revelation before, I must say diving into scriptures about Jesus' return to rule and reign over all creation provides a different twist to Christmas!

In just a few hours, Christians all across the world will celebrate their Savior's birth.  He was born a baby in Bethlehem but will come again to rule the earth forever.

God in the flesh came down to earth from his throne in heaven be with us. Jesus was God,

who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant ... Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11 NASB) 

Previously when thinking of that baby in a manger on some silent night in a little town of Bethlehem over two thousand years ago I didn't think about the awesomeness of the throne room of God nor of the Second Coming. I hadn't thought about thunder, lightning, plagues and Him having enough power to destroy the earth with one word.  I just hadn't thought about the Jesus who would one day conquer all evil.

But from now on, I will celebrate the first AND eventual second coming of Christ on Christmas Day. What about you?

Yes. Every knee will bow to Him...twice.  Once to kiss His cute little baby cheek in the manger.  Another to acknowledge Him as King of all Kings.

Happy Birthday, Jesus. Merry Christmas, all. 


Biblical Self Awareness

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. - James 1:25 NASB

How accurately do you see yourself? Are you really as good or bad as you think you are? How often do you ask God to reveal you to you?

As a professional coach, through assessments and objective feedback I help people see things and themselves as they really are, so they can live in to who God created them to be. In the coaching world, when people know themselves inside and out, we say they are "self-aware". Coaches facilitate self awareness.

The Bible does not explicitly command us to be self-aware, however we are often encouraged to see the truth about ourselves in relation to God and others. Consider the following:

  • Jesus often invited people to seek the truth about themselves ... just ask the rich young man in Mark 10:17-23.
  • The apostle Paul encouraged us to look forward to the time when we will know the truth about ourselves just as God knows us. (1 Cor 13:12)
  • Jacob wrestled with God until he learned something life-changing about himself. (Gen 32:22-31)
  • Paul's knowledge of himself allowed him to be humble (Rom 7:14-25).

Being self-aware comes from a keen understanding of ourselves, but self-awareness can't always come from ourselves. Whenever we seek to gain understanding, we have to involve others into our world who can see us from the outside.

If you are really serious about self-improvement through self-awareness, realize that the best assessment tools, the best coach and your own best analysis will not cause you to "arrive". You and they are not enough.

If you really want to know how to improve, make sure the one who helps you also challenges you to consult the One who completely knows you. Make sure you involve and rely on God and His perfect word. He will complete you in His time.

Who is God challenging you to become? What step will you take today to see things more clearly?


Janna Rust is a Professional Coach, Trainer and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them. For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


Eventually All Will Be Fair

"...Indeed I will give you renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes," says the Lord. - Zephaniah 3:20b

Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. Its hard to understand why, especially if you are like me and always looking to make things better in the world. Yet, some things may never get better. 

On earth:

  • We may lose everything dear to us in a moment -- Just ask Job (Job 1).
  • We may never have the marriage we desire -- Just ask Hosea (Hosea 2:2).
  • We may not be treated the way we deserve -- Just ask Jesus (Philippians 2:5-8)

Life isn't fair...or is it?

To answer this question, we have to consider God's perspective, not ours. Yes, God works everything together for good (Ro 8:28), but in His time and His way, not in ours. Remember, God is eternal. His sense of urgency differs from ours because He is not limited by time as we know it.

Simply stated, the good news is that eventually, justice prevails. Good wins over evil and an eternal kingdom will be established and fortunes restored for all of God's people. Forever.

So how do we live in the here and now with all of this unfairness and be content with things the way they are? Get to know God intimately through daily Bible reading. Talk to Him and cry to Him as you would your closest friend. Ask Him for understanding, guidance and strength to accept things you cannot change. Then listen and do what He says.

Above all, remember this, that Jesus humbly left all of the riches of heaven to come to earth and be treated terribly by those He came to save. He deserved everything and got nothing. How does that change your perspective about things being fair for you?

What will you do with what you've learned today? Do you have anything to share with us? If so, leave your thoughts or suggestions by clicking on the comment link below.


Friendship Day

Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. - John 15:13 NKJV

Friends are a gift from God and should be cherished, celebrated, and never taken for granted. My friend Patti Ann says this about friendship in her recent post entitled "Happy Friendship Day":

I personally believe that friends are God’s way of taking care of us.  God not only directs the steps on our journey of faith, but He also places people in our lives at specific times to touch our lives or for us to touch theirs.  Each person has a story - life experiences no one else can claim.  From these things we learn what we could not from any other person.  Our lives are enriched by those we keep close to us.  Some remain a lifetime, some only for a short while for the purposes God intends.

True friends know your faults but love you anyway.  I used to think that we chose our friends for who they are – I found out we actually love them because they accept and support who we are.

"Friendship Day" was a "holiday" I had never heard of, but will gladly pass along to you, my faithful readers.  True friends, are indeed those who love us no matter what. Please take some time to day to stop by Patti Ann's blog and read the entire post, complete with some biblical references and a friendship prayer. You'll be glad you did.

***

Dear Lord, I thank you for Your friendship most of all, because in spite of who I am, You have never left my side. Thank you for the friends you've put in my life --new or old, near, distant or "estranged". Please let my friends know how much I care about them, even though we may not see or communicate as much as I'd like. Help me to learn from them, support them, and never take them for granted, for they are gifts from You to mold me into the person you want me to become. Amen.

 


Clean Your Lenses, Change Your Life

The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. – Luke 11:34

My eyeglasses are perpetually dirty. How they get dirty is still a mystery to me and most of the time I don’t realize how dirty they are until my husband tells me to clean them. They get smeared and speckled with whatever I come across in my day, I suppose. But no matter the culprit, I'm still seeing a slightly smudged view of the world. This is not a crisis for me. Its only a pair of glasses.

But what happens to our vision when our lives get smeared? It happens to all of us.

The way we live our lives determines how clearly we see the world and how easily we hear from God.

For instance, when we are:

  • too busy or too cluttered, we lose sight of our long-term goals
  • disobedient to God's commandments, we lose sight of what is right and wrong
  • caught up in emotional pain, we lose sight of reality.

Each of these things causes us to see the world differently because each also blocks the Light of God from reaching our hearts and minds and we stumble around in the dark.

How dirty is your lens to the world and the lens to your soul? What can you do today to start allowing the light in to your darkness? Take one small step today to wipe them clean. Then, prepare to see a whole new world.


Judging With the Whole Truth

3 And He will delight in the fear of the Lord and He will not judge what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His eyes hear; 4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth. (Isaiah 11:3-4a)
 
Think back to a time where you were misunderstood by someone you cared about. If you can't think of one, maybe a time comes to mind where you were the judgmental one. How did the situation turn out?
 
Taken to the extreme, a misunderstanding between two people can end a relationship of any kind if both parties can't put all of the facts on the table and sort through them objectively to find the truth.
 
Its no wonder Jesus warns us to be careful of passing judgment on someone else's character or motives for doing the things they do. We seldom take the time in discussion to get all of the facts...and we get the judgment wrong.
 
Things with other people are not always as they appear. The whole truth is seldom out in the open.
 
With others, we are challenged by our impatience and blinded by our own perception of reality. Without due diligence, we interpret another's actions based upon our view of how the world works and then label what we see. Then...we assume we are right and dig our heels in for the fight.
 
Things don't have to be this way.
 
God doesn't want things to be this way, especially for those within the church. He says through His prophet Isaiah that the Judge Jesus will one day return to earth with perfect compassion, patience and discernment. In perfect righteousness and perception, Jesus will judge, seeing through the external sights and sounds, into the hearts of men. He will judge in perfect righteousness because He is able to see the whole truth.
 
Finally, all things will be as they should be, with no more tears or suffering caused by wrongful judgments.
 
Let's seek God together so we can see things as they really are. The people in our lives do not need Judge Janna or Judge ________<your name>. They need our love and our understanding. What will you do today to see things as they really are?
 
Do you have an experience to share? If so, leave a comment below.

Formula for Deliverance: Prayer and Praise

Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. - 2 Chr 20:27

Have you ever faced a situation bigger than you, where you see trouble coming from afar and have no idea how to ward off the coming disaster? Jehoshaphat, king of Judah found himself in such a place. Just when he felt his troubles were ending, new troubles in the form of massive enemy armies arose on the horizon.

Jehoshaphat did what most people terrified for their lives would do. He prayed.

But he didn't just offer the "Help me now, God!" prayer and leave it at that. Jehoshaphat sincerely sought God's will and his hand in a spirit of humble submission to the almighty ruler of the universe. Open your Bibles to 2 Chronicles 20 with me. We see Jehoshaphat's sincerity through his actions.

  1. He proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah (2 Ch 20:3).
  2. He publicly praised and prayed to God for his nation (2 Ch 20:5-12)
  3. He demonstrated complete trust in God and commanded his people to do the same (2 Ch  20:20)

Once Jehoshaphat turned his eyes to God, the rest of the people followed him in prayer and praise to God (2 Ch 20:21) and God came through with a victory in a most dismal circumstance.

When they began singing and praising the Lord set ambushes against the  sons of Ammon, Moab & Mount Seir, who had come against Judah. (2 Ch 20:22)

The Israelites did nothing but look to God for help. And God came through for them in a mighty way. In what circumstance do you need the victory today? Relationships? Finances? Health issues? Turn to God and He will deliver you in his perfect time.

Dear Lord, forgive us when we take matters into our own hands, showing you that we lack faith in you.  Help us to believe you can and will come through for us. Show us what to do and enable us to be obedient to your call. Amen.


You Can Ask, But You Might not Get

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. - James 4:3
 
God gives good things to his children, tells us to ask for our desires and encourages us to be persistent in our asking.  However, just because we ask God for something doesn't mean we will get it. What we receive from God is contingent upon our motives for asking.
 
Sometimes our prayers are a waste of time.
 
Okay, maybe not a total waste of time. Stick with me here. Coming to God in prayer is an act of submission to God and acknowledges our inability to do everything for ourselves. That's a good thing. Pouring our hearts out to our Creator is also always a good thing and certainly no waste of time because in praying we draw closer to him. But how long is too long to pray for something without considering that maybe, just maybe, God doesn't want us to have that thing we ask for?
 
At some point we need to question whether or not we are praying with the right motive.
 
Praying with the right motive simply means that what we ask for aligns with God's big picture plan. God's plan (his will) for us is pretty simple. He wills that we be conformed to his image and that we all accept the gift of eternal life in the form of belief on Jesus for salvation. He also wills that we do all things for his glory and for the greater good of his kingdom.
 
He does not desire that all of us have material wealth, fantastic health, or friction-free relationships on this earth. He doesn't promise us all of the various forms of abundance we feel entitled to. God promises abundance to his children, but guarantees abundance only in eternity, not here on earth.
 
How well do your prayers align with the will of God? If you've been praying for something for awhile without getting the answer you want, examine your motives. Are you asking for your will to be done or God's will to be done? Ask God for new ways to pray about the object of your prayers. Eventually, you'll learn and like his will...and then you will get what you want.
 
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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach, Trainer and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.

 

You Can't Handle the Truth

"Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men." But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement. -Luke 9:44-45

One of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history is in the movie "A Few Good Men" where Jack Nicholson's character exclaims in the court room "You can't handle the truth!". While this was merely a movie, the statement still rings true in real life. A lot of times, we can't handle the truth.

Jesus knew this. In Luke 9:44-45, while the disciples were marvelling over all the miracles Jesus recently performed, Jesus told them in plain language He would be captured, yet they didn't understand what He meant. They didn't understand because God kept the truth from them. They couldn't handle the truth.

I find it interesting that even though they didn't understand, they were afraid to ask for clarification. Instead, they quickly changed the subject and started arguing among themselves about who was the best disciple!

Sometimes its just not our time to understand. Often we pray and pray, asking for wisdom in a certain situation but the solution eludes us. Other times, we really don't want to gain understanding because we change the subject and worry over more trivial matters, just as the disciples did.

To gain understanding, we must be able to handle the truth. Spiritual maturity is key and timing is everything. So the next time you are at a loss regarding the answers to all of your "Why, God?" questions, ask yourself (and God) what He wants you to learn about yourself through your current circumstance. God will tell you the truth when you've matured enough to do something meaningful with it.

Connect learning with living:

  • What situation are you questioning in your life?
  • How would knowing the "why" of the situation change your future?
  • How diligently are you seeking the truth of the situation about you?

Nothing Goes Unredeemed

And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." - Revelation 21:4

No matter how hard we try, we can't always understand life's trials. Disease strikes. Finances fail. People forsake us. And God allows it all. We are to be thankful in it all and through it all... 

"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor 4:17-18 NASB)

These words are hard to swallow through the pain and tears, yet the truth remains that if we seek God's desire for us, we will triumph because of our trials. God produces new character in us with surgeon-like precision as He peels away our imperfection. 

We may not understand God's methods but we can know He has our best in mind. No "loss" we experience in life will go unredeemed in God's kingdom. I think the Christian band Selah says it eloquently in their song "Unredeemed":

Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see it will not be unredeemed.

Take a few moments to listen and watch the Selah video below of "Unredeemed". Its a beautiful song with a message of hope. What shattered thing do you need to lay before the Lord today? Lay it before Him and make today the start of something new. He'll redeem it. Just watch and see.

NOTE: For email subscribers who don't get the video, here's the direct link to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhOSspNj84w

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach, Trainer and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com. 


Suicide and the Bible

According to an article in the September 15, 2008 issue of the Kansas City Star, “Suicide is a bigger killer in Kansas and Missouri—and across the country—than homicide, though it often gets much less attention.”  More than 32,000 Americans a year kill themselves and according to 2006 federal government statistics, the suicide rate per 100,000 people is just slightly less than double the homicide rate.

In spite of our country’s prosperity, we are a nation losing hope.  It saddens me deeply that so many people are suffering because of it. I have not personally lost someone close to me from suicide, but I’ve known several people who have lost relatives to this fate.  

It is a common belief in the world that the suicide victim goes to hell when he or she dies because of the inability to confess his or her sins to God.  Because of this common view, loved ones of the victims often suffer grief exceedingly greater than they would if the death had not resulted from the victim’s own hand.

But what does the Bible say?

As Christians, it is important to know what the Bible says about suicide so we can offer some measure of comfort to those who mourn.  

The bottom line is this:  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a person goes to hell as a result of suicide. 

Any person who is in right standing with God (i.e. they have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior) is exempt from hell, whether or not they died with unconfessed sins.  Most of us probably will die with unconfessed sin in our lives because oftentimes we don’t know we have sinned when it comes to matters of faith and adherence to every tidbit of God’s instruction for our lives. 

In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Bible says that by faith we are saved, not of works.  John 3:16 states that if we believe in God’s Son, we will have everlasting life.  Romans 8:32 says that nothing can separate believers from the love of God.  Because we did nothing to earn an eternal life in heaven, we can’t do anything to “UN-earn” that precious gift. 

Suicide is a sin because it is murder (Ex 20:13), but it no more condemns us to hell than a little white lie if we have already believed in Jesus for the salvation of our souls.   If a loved one was a true believer, no matter the cause of their passing, they will be in heaven.  At least in this, we can take comfort in our sadness.

Who can you comfort with the truth you know?


Resurrection Day: What Do You Need to Believe?

"He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'" (Luke 24:6-7 NKJV)

Today is Resurrection Sunday, the day Christians celebrate one of the most spectacular and debated events the world has ever known, the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus' return to life after a horrific death on the cross is the cornerstone of our faith. Jesus conquered death for all mankind and still lives today for us!

We can conquer death too. We can also conquer life.

However, we don't conquer death without belief in Him who overcame and without belief that it can be done. Only those who accept Jesus as Lord will overcome an eternal spiritual death and possess everlasting life! And in the here and now on this earth, we won't conquer our circumstances without trust and belief in God's power to work out His will.

In life, we are not much different than the disciples who first saw the risen Jesus, but didn't recognize Him for who He was because they were so caught up in their own sadness that they forgot Jesus said He would return.

Belief in the seemingly impossible is easier said than done because...

... our limited intellectual capacity blinds us to the unlimited capacity of God

... our emotions cause us to feel hopeless and forget the truth about our circumstances

... our pride refuses to acknowledge God's perfect plan is better than our plan.

What do you need to believe in today? What do you need renewed hope for? If its a first time belief in Jesus, click here. If you need to remember something God told you once before, remember God's power and promises. We can overcome anything through His love. Remember, He overcame the grave so we could live life to the fullest. (John 10:10)

Give God a chance. Remember His timing is perfect. And hang on for the most exciting ride of your life. Jesus is risen! How will you let this fact affect your life?

Be blessed,

Janna


Spiritual Warfare: Remember the Big Picture

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that the thing, person or circumstance you struggle with the most may not be what you are really fighting against? If there's something going on in your life that you just can't make sense of, consider that unseen spiritual forces may be at work in attempts to thwart God's plan for your life.

Be warned, friends. When you decide to take on a big work for God, the spirit world takes notice. That's why we need to be prepared.

Consider the story in Luke 8 of Jesus driving out the legion of demons from the man in the country of the Gerasenes. Satan and his comrades love to "play" with people! While I'm not insinuating that Christians can be demon-possessed, I'm using this illustration to show that the spirit world is real. In this story, we see Satan's power to harass:

  • Satan deceives - the man thought Jesus would torment him. (Luke 8:28)
  • Satan empowers - the possessed man broke free from chains & shackles. (Luke 8:29)
  • Satan schemes - Satan's demons negotiated with Jesus. (Luke 8:31-32)

How might Satan be harassing you or the people in your life? For what may he be doing it?

When something doesn't make sense after you've examined the situation and your part in it, consider the bigger picture. Look at the timing of the events. Did you just embark on a new adventure for God? Did you recommit to living for Him? If so, your circumstances may be a result of spiritual warfare. 

Stay the course. Put your spiritual armor on as described in Ephesians 6 and remember that God will win in the end. Greater is He that is in you than he (Satan and his minions) who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

What experiences have you had with spiritual warfare? We'd love to hear from you in a comment below!

 


Hope for a New Year

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, -Philippians 3:13

2009 was one of trials and testing for many of us. During these times we need to remember that through them, new life occurs and that if we look hard enough, treasure can be found in the rubble of tribulation. It is often during tough times that we learn about what really matters in life and make lasting changes for the future. 
 
My prayer for each of you this year is for hope. It is my heart's desire for you ...  

  • Hope - to see the potential in every circumstance as a foundation for a better tomorrow.
  • Opportunity - to recognize each new opportunity for what it is...a chance for a new beginning.
  • Perseverance - to press on even when you see no end in sight, knowing that eventually you will reap a harvest for your efforts.
  • Encouragement - to take risks in following God's call on your life.


May each of you have overflowing hope as you start 2010, in anticipation of great things to come, knowing that you are not alone. Expect the best. Live in love. 
  
All the best,
 
Janna

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


Courage For Purpose

Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished. (1 Chronicles 28:20 NASB)

Living for a purpose takes a lot of courage. As a professional coach, I often strike fear in the hearts of my clients when I encourage them to voice their life goals and aspirations. Some people are afraid to explore the emotions surrounding a life purpose and thus never fully engage in the process. Others, once they discover their purpose get overwhelmed and fearful because the discovery prompts life change.

I wonder what Solomon thought when David told him he was to build a house for God. For GOD. I wonder if panic coursed through His veins as he considered the magnitude of the task and whether or not he could get it right.  I bet he was scared to death.

Yet through his fear he heard the words of his wise father King David, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear…for the LORD God, my God, is with you.” David knew fear and David knew God’s ability to provide. He also knew that one of the best ways to conquer fear was to just start doing. David encouraged his son with the voice of experience.

Solomon knew his father’s God and knew his victories through God. Eventually, he built one of the most magnificent temples in world for God!

We too, can achieve great things when we trust God’s provision for our lives when we are overwhelmed and afraid. What big dream has you shaking? Think of that fear as an opportunity to do great things through God. Be strong and courageous, and act. Take one step toward it today and watch what God can do!

What have you done to overcome fear?  What will you do today to move forward? Share your thoughts in a comment below.


Thanksgiving in Every Season

Tomorrow, people in the United States will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, a time of feasting and celebration of love, life and family in the tradition of our country's founding. However, no matter where you reside in this world, I welcome you to join us in the tradition of being thankful for all that you have.

We can all set aside this day as a day for an attitude of gratitude.

To my of my friends and readers around the globe, I wish you all a wonderful day of Thanksgiving. I am thankful for each one of you and I appreciate your allowing me to speak into your lives. Thank you for speaking into mine.

I will close with the following quote. Read through it thoughtfully and take time to reflect on how you can be thankful even through some of the tough stuff.  All of life, the good and the bad, shapes us into the people and leaders we are today and will be tomorrow. We can be thankful for it all with the right perspective.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted:
A time to kill, and a time to heal;

Time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing:
A time to gain, and a time to lose;

A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

Source: Ecclesiastes 3, The Bible: New American Standard Version

What can you be thankful for? Share below as a comment if you so desire!


Wait For Strength

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! - Psalm 27:14 (NKJV)

Who likes to wait? I don't like waiting. I will read chapters at the end of the book in a suspense novel to see if my favorite character lives. I sometimes work harder and take on more than I need to in order to control and speed things up. I've mellowed quite a bit over the years, but at times I still struggle with wanting to "help" God move ahead with His plans for my life.

I find myself waiting on God quite a lot these days. I have to, because a situation is out of my hands. I'm waiting on a person. God's probably waiting on me.

None of us like waiting, yet God says to wait on Him and to not be afraid...

...through the questions
...through the pain, and
...through the tears.

God says that He will strengthen our hearts when they become weak. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. He uses everything in our lives to mold us and shape us into the people He needs us to be to accomplish our purpose in this life.

We need challenges in order to change.

God leads us to green pastures to high places via dark valleys at times. Through it all, He is always there. Like a child going through a scary place with a parent, we can bury ourselves in Him when the going gets too rough.

Does your heart need strength today? Give God time and just wait. Find some solitude. Turn off the TV, computer and phone, and be still in the silence. Open your Bible to your favorite promise from God and ask Him to put His arms around you and give you peace in the middle of your circumstance. He will strengthen your heart.

Dear Father, I thank you for all of who you are to me and most of all I thank you for your unchanging and unconditional love. Show me where I've failed you. Show me where I've pleased you. Most of all, strengthen my heart, our hearts, as we wait on you. Amen.


Revival Through God's Word

Let my soul live that it may praise Thee, and let thine ordinances help me. (Psalm 119:175)

You don't have to go to a "revival" to be revived. God revives anywhere, as long as His Word is present. This morning as I was going through my daily Bible reading plan I experienced somewhat of a "revival" of my own. Actually, it was more of a discovery than a revival, but it sure put a smile on my face.

Did you know that the phrase "revive me" or "revived me" is found eleven times in the 119th Psalm (NASB)? Neither did I until this morning! According to this Psalm, God revives us through His Word, His righteousness, and His lovingkindness. He gives us provision when we so desperately need it. Read through the following list and see what resonates with you today. Something will. I guarantee it.

***

My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Thy Word. (v 25)

Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in thy ways. (v 37)

Behold, I long for Thy precepts; Revive me through Thy righteousness. (v 40)

This is my comfort in my affliction, that Thy Word has revived me. (v 50)

Revive me according to Thy lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Thy mouth. (v 88)

I will never forget Thy precepts, For by them Thou hast revived me. (v 93)

I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O Lord, according to Thy Word. (v 107)

Hear my voice according to Thy lovingkindness; Revive me, O Lord, according to Thine ordinances. (v 149)

Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Thy Word. (v 154)

Great are Thy mercies, O Lord; Revive me according to thine ordinances. (v 156)

Consider how I love Thy precepts, Revive me, O Lord, according to Thy lovingkindness. (v 159)

***

Lord, thank you for your healing touch. Thank you for your Word and your mercies that are new every morning. Revive your children so they can really live again for you. Amen.

How does God revive you? Feel free to share in the comments below.  I'd love to hear from you!

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


The Splendor of the Bible

I love to read.  I love to get engrossed in the lives of the characters in a book and in the scenery presented on a page.  I like reading books containing prose and poetry, suspense, mystery and romance, self-help, comedy and deep thoughts that stir my soul.  Did I mention that I like books that are written to me?  There is no other piece of literature that can provide all of these things except for the Bible.  It is no wonder that God is my favorite Author!

Between the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the Crystal Sea in Revelation, the pages of the Bible, inspired by God Himself provide hope for the hopeless, healing for the broken, and strength for the weak at heart.  We find companionship and love, more than we ever can imagine, as we read about a tenderhearted but jealous God who sent His only Son so that we could spend eternity with Him if we choose.  As a bonus, we can even build a relationship with its Author and His Son as we spend deliberate time in its pages day after day.  And...if we look carefully enough around us, we can also find God's autograph on our lives.  Whoa.

How can I say enough about a "book" that has changed my very life and being?  The Bible is all of these things and more.  Can we really call the bible a book?  The Lover of my soul wrote a letter to me and to you as well ...

  • to inspire
  • to comfort
  • to encourage
  • to strengthen
  • to challenge, and
  • to change

... each of us for the furtherance of His kingdom and so we would all have fuller lives.

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12).   "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

And the Word was God.  We have the very mind of the Creator of the universe in our hands when we read our bibles. That, to me, is unimaginable splendor.

Original post: 2/28/2006

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


Better Than Chocolate

I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.  - Job 23:12 NASB

How hungry are you for God's truth in your life?  What would you give up to spend time in God's presence, reading His words to you?  Do you think Job meant what he said when he was in the depths of despair trying to make sense of his friends nonsensical accusations?  I believe Job meant every word.  Job had such a deep relationship with God that nothing could permanently shake him.

Yes, Job wished he were dead earlier in the story.  But even the most grounded Christians have moments of hopelessness when faced with a pain so piercing.  Remember, Job had lost everything - all of his family except for his wife, his possessions and his health.  Not to mention it, but if I were him, I'd think about ditching those friends who would not shut up!  Most importantly though, Job had not lost His God nor his faith in Him. 

Look at what Job said regarding God's path for him:

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

As He did with Job, God also has a refining purpose for all of us.  The paths He has for us might not always be the comfortable paths we would have chosen, but we must rest assured they are the best for us.

For he performs what is appointed for me, And many such decrees are with Him. (Job 23:14 NASB)

Because God's ways are not our ways, we must rely on the promises of His word so that when storms make their way into our lives we can stand firm.  In troubled times, we have to hold on to one thing in our lives that will never change - the Word of God.  Our feelings about God may change with our circumstances, but those words in black and white stay consistent from day to day, year after year.  Yes, I believe His word truly is better than my necessary food...even better than chocolate.

Priority Check:

1) What are you placing higher on your daily priority list than your time with God?

2) When was the last time you had to rely on God alone for strength?

Note: Originally published March 27, 2007

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


Random Thoughts from a Walk in the Park

And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. - Genesis 1:31

I've heard it said that all things in the physical world represent something spiritual. Everything can be made into a metaphor. I went for a walk earlier today on this beautiful fall day and pondered a lot of things, one of which was what to write for this blog.

The topic I came up with was more of a collection of random thoughts than anything, each one inspired by something I saw and each worthy of its own blog post. God's creation is definitely good for a lot of things! 

1. The caterpillars are out. Soon they will be in their cocoons, transforming into butterflies.

This is the time for many people and organizations for setting goals and preparing for the upcoming year. Nature follows this pattern as well as in the fall the "old" dies to make way for the new. Leaves fall, caterpillars morph, grass goes dormant. 

What one thing, if implemented in your life over the next 6 months would make the most impact on your life? 

2. We see butterflies wander, eagles soar and flowers bloom and we marvel at the beauty of it all.

Do we also marvel at the "suffering" and hard work required over weeks and months that brought the beauty to fruition? The change process is tough and not seen by most. Butterflies morph from crawling caterpillars. Eagles aren't born flying. Flowers culminate from a seed buried in the earth.

Are you going through a transformation and getting tired of the process? Be patient with yourself and endure to the end. Soon you will soar.

3. God must have known how much we would enjoy the splashes of color on once green tree leaves and the richness of a blue sky on a clear day.

If the fall color was ever present, would we still appreciate its splendor? If it was never cloudy would we appreciate the clear blue sky?

Sometimes things are taken away from us so we appreciate what he had. What are you thankful for today? Thank God for that gift. If you are thankful for a person, let them know they are appreciated today. Good things don't last forever here on earth.

I too, can say that what God creates is very good.  What can you add to my list? Add it to the comments below!


Jesus and Friendship

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13
 
Today I'm following some of my own coaching advice in that 80% of something is better than 100% of nothing.  I've been wanting to write the perfect post here for quite some time and decided that today I was casting perfection aside here at Bread Crumbs to bring you some unplugged thoughts I've had lately regarding friendships or relationships.
 
I love to help people.  My mom always used to tell me, "Janna, you can't save the world." As a good friend of mine says, I am a "net holder".  I am someone you can count on to hold one corner of your safety net, should you need to "plunge" to safety. I don't run from the tough stuff of emotions and contrary to my impatient nature I am generally long suffering with my friends. 
 
Jesus says that there is no greater love than sacrificing for our friends. He modeled it perfectly, giving up his life on the cross as a sacrifice for the souls of man. Even with my helping nature, I can't remotely compare to Him. In fact, I'm extremely selfish in comparison!
 
Friendship is about sacrifice. Its about the other person, not yourself. To be a good friend according to Jesus' example means we need to give and expect nothing in return, knowing that we will eventually reap for ourselves the good we have sown if we don't lose heart (Gal 6:9), even if we suffer heart ache in the process. Sometimes it's not easy to do, especially if we care deeply about the other person for which we are sacrificing. But Jesus didn't say His way would be easy, did He?
 
How closely do you model Jesus' example of friendship? What stands in your way of considering someone else's needs over your own? What can you do today to reach out to someone in your world? Your small gesture may mean the world to someone else.
 
Note: For more thoughts regarding the impact of small gestures, check out my post "Little Things Make Big Impacts" over at Purposeful Leadership.
 
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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


Pressing On With the God of Hope

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." - Romans 15:13 (NASB)

My heart aches for people in need of a break in life.  Today I post with a heavy heart for a friend going through some rough times. While this post is primarily for her, I pray that if you are tired, weary, drained and beat up from life's circumstances that the following might provide even the tiniest bit of encouragement to get through another day.

The song "Press On" by Selah is a beautiful song of God's provision when we lean into Him and His promise of hope through the tough stuff. Because I can't say it any better than they sing, I'll offer this prayer and let the music speak for itself.

Lord, please lift up those who are in the valley with seemingly no strength left to take another step.  Wipe the tears from their eyes, heal their wounds from falling and give them wisdom to make the hard choices they face.  And please, help them to see clearly the prize before their eyes, and give them the strength and endurance to keep pressing on. Amen.

Note: Email subscribers, click here:



Love Them Like Jesus

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; - Isaiah 61:1 (NASB)

Last Friday night I led a workshop at my church where I taught our Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) and small group bible study leaders how to create great discussions through the arts of listening and asking questions. I loved the questions the class asked and how eager they were to participate and apply the things they were learning.

However,while I love teaching and coaching on the technical aspects of what it takes to be a good leader, what I love the most is attaching our roles to the Big Picture...God's picture.

Following is a song I played for my group to cement in their minds the notion that all of our work as Christians should serve one purpose, to place someone else's hand in the hand of Jesus. We don't need the answers to all of life's questions because He does.

Now, enjoy the song by Casting Crowns, "Love Them Like Jesus", by clicking the image below. (For email subscribers, be sure to visit the blog to get to the audio/video). 

How can you love someone like Jesus today?



The Moment of Truth

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; - Dt 30:15
 
Picture this scene. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, God finally allows Moses to prepare the Israelites to cross over into the Promised Land. It is here where they must make a decision to move forward or resign to stay in the status quo of the wilderness.
 
We are no different than the Israelites in that we are all on a journey towards significance or happiness whether or not we consciously realize it. The interesting thing to me is the place we find ourselves when we intentionally decide to search for purpose or significance, to make changes in our lives and begin to glimpse our "promised land".
 
To clarify this point, I recently finished teaching a class on Life Purpose called Blueprint for Life. Throughout the class, each participant was tasked to draft their life purpose statement and set measurable and achievable goals for each main area of their life (spiritual, relational, physical, financial, career) to support their life purpose statement. In essence, each member defined their personal "Promised Land" as they currently saw it to be. This was an emotional and live-changing experience for many of the group members.
 
Something happens inside us when we finally uncover the purpose God has for our lives. Suddenly, we realize how much we need to redeem the time ahead of us. Looking at or defining our "promised land" also puts us in an interesting position because we put ourselves between the "here" and the "there". We know where we are and yet we see how things could be.
 
It is at the boundary between current reality and our "promised land" that we find our moment of truth.
 
It is at this boundary where we must ask ourselves:
  • What will I do with what I now see?
  • What will I do with what could be?
  • What keeps me from entering in to the promised land?
Where are you in the journey? No matter where you are in the process of discovering your purpose, you have a choice between life and prosperity, death and adversity. The choice is yours. You CAN have your "promised land" with a little hard work (physically and spiritually) and trust in God.  What are you waiting for?
 
For more resources on life purpose, click here.
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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


Receiving Love: Obstacle #4-Perspective

Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction. 2 Corinthians 7:4

In case you are just joining in for the first time, I've been going through 2 Corinthians 7:1-4 and discussing how having too much pride, too many priorities and too little patience affect our relationships (for the first post in the series click here).Today I will be discussing the fourth obstacle to receiving God's love through our personal relationships-having too limited a perspective.

While I don't know if most people believe this, difficult times pave the way to more intimacy and deeper connection between two parties. Sure, no one enjoys a disagreement, but if two-way communication is allowed to take place around the disagreement, the relationship can soar to new heights from the mutual understanding.

Unfortunately, most people view conflict as undesirable in a relationship. I've heard many times from people that good relationships "are supposed to be easy". 

Well...yes and no.

Great relationships do have a sense of ease about them. However, great friendships can have points of contention from time to time and still be great. Paul expressed his joy in the troubles he had with the Corinthians. Perhaps he knew that the tough times were only temporary and circumstantial and would bring forth change for the better. Paul never ceased to communicate either, even though it appears in his letter that he was the one who was pleading for acceptance. Paul knew that the Corinthians were worth fighting for.

The key to any relationship's survival is perspective and honest communication. If we keep our minds open to the possibility that our limited perspective is not the only way things can be, and keep the lines of communication open, any relationship with two people willing to reconcile can be salvaged and propelled to greater heights.

Dear Father, you know my heart. Show me your heart in all of my relationships. Thank you for the trials that keep me compassionate towards others. Give us all the hearts and minds to suspend our own judgment and open the lines of communication with those you have put into our lives. Give us your humility and patience and enable us to understand your priorities and perspective. Amen.


Receiving Love: Obstacle #3-Patience

I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. - 2 Cor 7:3 NASB

Relationships take work and time to be all they can be. In my previous few posts we've been making our way through 2 Corinthians 7:1-4 where Paul seems to be pleading his case for why the Christians in Corinth should accept him. We've addressed the affects pride and priorities can have on the amount of blessings we receive from relationships. Today, I will address why patience is a necessity.

We are an impatient people. Our fast-paced, instant-gratification, mobile society has taken a toll on everything in our lives. We quickly change activities and jobs at the drop of the hat. If something takes effort to repair, we just toss it out and buy a new one. Unfortunately, I think this thought process also transfers to our relationships. I don't think God meant this to be so.

All types of relationships require varying degrees of patience from the two parties involved. To illustrate, most of us have heard of the "inner" and "outer" circle. With us in the center, the closer a person is to us within the circle, the more patience is required because more intimacy is involved. For example, a marriage partner is closest to us, our closest friends/family next. Acquaintances belong in the outer part of the circle. Because we don't interact as much with those farthest away from the middle, less patience is required.

In our passage above, Paul considered the recipients of his letter to be somewhat close to him. He obviously felt that God put them in his life for a lifetime because he says that they are "to die together and to live together". He knew them and he'd labored for them. He obviously had patience with them and expected the same in return. Later in the passage, Paul goes on to express the blessings of their connection.

Relationships take work. Some require more than others. Some deserve more than others. How hard are you willing to work for the blessings that come from those God has put into your life?

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


Receiving Love: Obstacle #2 -Priorities

Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one. - 2 Cor 7:2 NASB

None of us have enough time to do all of the things we want to do. Careers, hobbies, family, friends and ministry all make demands on our time.  So how do we decide what to do with our time?

How we prioritize our time significantly impacts the quality of our lives. Getting out of balance affects our level of joy because we get out of God's will.  When we spend too much time in one area, the other neglected areas scream for our attention. The sad part is, sometimes those "screams" come from the very things or people that could help us. Being out of balance gives us tunnel vision.

Paul apparently felt the need to plead his case for a part in the Corinthian's lives. We see him defending himself, his comrades, and the purpose of his upcoming visit (his third visit to them) in 2 Corinthians 7:1-4. He had earned his place in their hearts through his prior service and he wanted to minister to them more. He wanted to remove all obstacles in the way of them receiving his love.

How do your priorities stack up to what God has called you to do? Does the way you spend your time agree with what you say you value? Are you depriving yourself of a blessing by being focused on the wrong things? Having too many priorities or having unbalanced priorities will wreak havoc on our lives over time. Seek God's counsel on the matter. Ask Him to reveal what is stealing your joy. Then, when the answer comes, take action.

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


Receiving Love Obstacle #1-Pride

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. - 2 Corinthians 7:1 NASB

Too often we let ourselves get in the way of what God wants for our lives. In my last post, I mentioned that there were four things that cause relationships to break down: too much pride, too many priorities, too little patience and too limited a perspective.  Actually, these are tactics to avoid in any aspect of our lives!

Today we will talk about pride. Pride is the root of all evil in the world. Pride hinders holiness because it creeps into the fabric of our lives, sometimes without our knowing. It shows up in our priorities, causes impatience and keeps us from seeing the big picture. Unfortunately, pride isn't always self-recognizable. It is often unearthed only after someone (or the Bible) confronts us with the error of our ways.

Essentially, pride is selfish and wants to be right at all costs. If we are prideful we will look for ways to prove we are right, rather than try to understand someone else's point of view. Admittedly, I am guilty of this at times. I will research a point until I've found the answer that proves what I've already decided was true...and then stop looking.  After all, why would I want to dig up evidence that I could be wrong? I quit while I'm "ahead". But am I really ahead and am I really right?

We don't get "ahead" or gain just by being right. A lot of times we lose. Conflict erupts that might have been avoided. Fellowship breaks down and we miss out on the love God intends for us. God wants us to experience His love on earth and in eternity. We can have all of that if we seek Him and His wisdom with an open rather than a closed mind. How is your state of mind today? What would God say about you?