Previous month:
November 2007
Next month:
January 2008

The Temptation of the Temporary

Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary.  And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary."  Therefore his name was called Edom.

But Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day."

And Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?"

... So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.

Genesis 25:29-33 NKJV

If ever in the bible there was an example of how unclear thinking due to a temporary need might impact the future, this is it.  Esau was starving.  Jacob had food.  Esau sold his birthright, a huge blessing for the firstborn in the culture of the day, for the food.  Sounds crazy doesn't it?  That must have been some stew Jacob concocted.  Esau gave up his future for a temporary pleasure.  The desire for that stew in his famished state outweighed his desire for future blessings and accomplishments.

This story illustrates the importance of every choice we make.  It also shows to us the importance of establishing a vision for what we want out of our lives or for what we think that God wants from us out of our lives.   Without a clear vision for where we want to go, we are easily distracted and too easily tempted to abandon our plans for something easier and for temporary fulfillment.   We must keep the end in mind to endure the trials of the "now".

How is your view of your future?  Do you know what you would like to be doing in 6 months, a year, 5 years, 10 years? Think about it.  It might just keep you from "selling" your own "birthright" away.

____________________________________________________________________________

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


We Need Not Be Hopeless

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

My last couple of posts have touched on the dire consequences surrounding individuals with a lack of hope and meaning in their lives.  We can have hope and meaning if we know God, the Creator of the universe.   Sharon Houk shares some more thoughts about the Colorado megachurch shooter as she states in her blog post "Meaningless Existence Leads to Death" that:

"It doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, Matthew grew up going to church, but that doesn’t mean he knew God as his Savior. If he did ever meet God and give his life to Him, he stopped depending on Him to be his strength in time of trouble—he had no hope. Murray was not alone in his misery:"

Sharon continues her thought by listing some other recent past sad statistics and sharing how one can avoid the feeling of hopelessness and meaningless so prevalent in today's culture.  Stop on over there today.  Send your friends who are seeking for answers to her site.  Allow her to help you reach others without a Christian Worldview.  She is passionate about leading others to the Truth.


How Bright is Your Light?

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, - Philippians 2:14-15 NKJV

A 24 year old man went on a shooting rampage killing four people at a Colorado megachurch and youth missions training center last Sunday in an effort to kill and injure as many Christians as he could.  And he was raised in a Christian home.  According to an article by Judith Kohler of the Associated Press, the young man is quoted as saying:

"You Christians brought this on yourselves," Murray wrote, according to the station, which did not identify the site. "All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world." - Matthew Murray

We are definitely living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.  How else can you explain two different shooting sprees in a week's time performed by two young men, one of them still a teenager?  You would think the words of Paul in Philippians 2 were written in today's day and age and not 2000 years ago.

We can't explain the senseless acts of violence going on in our society.  However, I must ask the question: "Why, if Christians are supposed to be blameless "lights" in the world, would people think we are to blame for all of the problems in the world?"   Are we doing something wrong?  Are we hiding our lights?  The answer to the question is not a simple answer.  Christians have been persecuted for all of history.  Jesus said that we would be hated:

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. - John 17:14 NKJV

Consequently, we should not be surprised that Christians are despised by some.  All we can do is stay focused on the truth of God's word, living it out the best we can.  We can be blameless and harmless in truth, no matter what anyone else has to say as long as we keep our focus.   We can be the light of hope in this dark world.  If enough of us shine, people will have to take notice.

For further thought:

1) How strong is your light?
2) What are you doing in your world to shine your light upon others?
3) How can you brighten someone else's light?

____________________________________________________________________________

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


Freedom With Truth

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in my word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."  - John 8:31-32 NKJV

I can't get my mind off of the Omaha mall shootings last week, where 19 year old Robert Hawkins fatally shot 8 people and then killed himself in a horrific act of desperation.  He left a suicide note indicating that he didn't want to be a burden anymore and that now "he would be famous".   I'm saddened when I think about what might lead someone down such a path of self destruction.  This boy at one point in his life might have been a child like every other child.  What happened?  What can cause a feeling of such bondage to the past and current unpleasant circumstances of our lives?  Better yet, what can set us free from the bondage of past mistakes?

Jesus said that the truth can set us free.  It can set us free from the past.  It can set us free from feelings of being unworthy to overcome the strongholds in our lives that continually set us back. It can give us hope for a better tomorrow.   As I type this I must ask the question: If the truth (i.e. the source of truth - God, through His word) hadn't been diminished and taken out of our schools, local governments, and workplaces, would the young people of today have more hope?   If they weren't being taught that a lifestyle of materialism & pleasure-seeking is really all there is to life, would they be a little less prone to the hopelessness that seems to be plaguing a lot of our youth today?  What if they were being taught the truth in schools rather than the lie of evolution - that a God who loves them is their Creator and wants them to live their lives for a greater purpose than themselves?   I wonder.

Do you know the Truth, and its power to set you free?  It all starts with a relationship with Jesus and a daily prescription of reading what God says to us in His word.  Statistics say that most Christians rarely pick up their bibles.  Knowing this, a reasonable person can conclude that most Christians then, aren't living their lives to their fullest potential.  What a shame that is, to have access to freeing truth but not take advantage of it.  If every Christian would schedule one less activity or watch one less TV show a week, and replace it with an infusion of God's Word into their lives, I bet we would have a different world.  A free-er world.  As Jesus says, if we abide in His word, we will know the truth and that truth will make us free.  With it, we can set others free as well and guide them toward hope-filled lives.  Let's start today getting to know God's truth better.

____________________________________________________________________________

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


About Myself & Christmas

I thought I'd take a break from all of my serious thoughts today (of the Omaha mall shootings, people in desparate need of hope & truth) and have some fun with this little meme about aspects of Christmas.   I found it via Danielle.  Enjoy!  Feel free to comment & play along if you like.   If you participate on your own blog, let me know and I'll come visit! :)

CHRISTMAS MEME

1.  Wrapping paper or gift bags?  If I truly had my way, no present I gave would be wrapped.  Not that I don't like pretty wrapping paper, but I tend to wrap my presents within hours of when I give them to someone.  Seems like a waste of time to wrap and unwrap in such a short time span.

2.  Real tree or artificial?  Artificial because of convenience and consistency. I get the same look every year without having to search a pine tree forest in the cold.

3.  When do you put up the tree?  Most often the first week after Thanksgiving after I've had time to regroup from all of those festivities.

4.  When do you take the tree down? Within a week after the first of the new year.

5.  Do you like eggnog?  No.  Never have, doubt I ever will.

6.  Favorite gift received as a child?  Probably my first stereo.

7.  Do you have a nativity scene?  Yes.

8.  Hardest person to buy for?  My grandma.

9.  Easiest person to buy for?  Myself.  Since I don't shop much throughout the year, I tend to do shopping for myself while I'm out.  Merry Christmas to me. 

10.  Worst Christmas gift you've ever received? I can't offhand about the worst Christmas gift but I received an ugly, heavy leather jacket once for my June birthday.

11.  Mail or email Christmas cards? Both.

12.  Favorite Christmas movie?  The Year Without a Santa Claus "cartoon". I love Heat Mizer & Cold Mizer.  :)

13.  When do you start shopping for Christmas?  No earlier than December 1.  Until a few years ago, December 23. Now, maybe mid-December.

14.  Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, but I'm not telling here what it was.  :)

15.  Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?  My mom's sugar cookies with icing.

16.  Clear lights or colored on the tree?  I have clear on my tree at home, but I like colored as well.  Most importantly, they must all light up when they are plugged in.   One of my life's biggest frustrations is fighting with Christmas tree lights.

17.  Favorite Christmas song?  This varies.  Lately I am loving "Away in a Manger" or "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".

18.  Travel at Christmas or stay home? I will stay home.  Everyone comes to my home for the day most years.  I traveled once many years ago and the holiday was just not the same because we were away from the tradition.

19.  Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? If I sing the Rudolph song I can!

20.  Angel on the tree top or star?  Angel.

21.  Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?  Some on both days.

22.  Most annoying thing this time of year?  Hearing people complain about how much they have to do this time of the year when most of the things they are doing are self imposed.

23.  What I love most about Christmas?  Something about Christmas songs - unless I'm at the mall - puts me in a reflective, sentimental mood, reminding me of all the blessings God has given me.    

____________________________________________________________________________

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


Why Do You Love?

And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. - Genesis 26:28 NKJV

I was watching a news program last night - at least I think it was news - and a story came up regarding continuing relief efforts in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The story was about how Brad Pitt had been involved and the reporter mentioned something about how Brad must like the city of New Orleans because he had obviously made some friends there. The first thing that popped into my mind was the question "Are these people really his friends?". Call me cynical, but somehow I doubt it.

Individuals in any position of visibility, leadership or especially celebrity status, have people all of the time who claim to be their friends but who really have other motivations. After all, we tend to like being around people who can give us something, whether that something is in the form of current or potential benefit. Does that make us a "friend" of the giver?

In the passage above, while we obviously see some favoritism going on, what stood out to me was why each parent loved their favorite child. Isaac loved Esau for what he brought to him; Rebekah seemed to love Jacob just for who he was. Interesting.

God loved us and sent his son Jesus to die for us regardless of what we had done for him.

But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8 NKJV

We were his enemies (Romans 5:10), yet he gave the ultimate sacrifice for us anyway. I am thankful for that sacrifice. I will love and serve God because of it as long as I live because it is a debt I can never repay. However, when times get tough and things aren't seeming to go my way, will I still love God even though I can't see how he is blessing me? Honestly, I still do. It may have taken me awhile to get to that point in my walk of faith, but because I've gotten to know God through his Word, I've grown to love him all of the time, not just because of the latest blessing. I want it to be written about me: "...but Janna loved God."  How about you?

NOTE: For other devotionals, please check out the group blog "Laced With Grace".  This post is also appearing over there today.   

____________________________________________________________________________

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


Keeping the End in Mind

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. - Proverbs 29:18

It is hard to get somewhere if we don't know where we are going, isn't it?  First of all, if we don't have a map or a plan, we will most likely get lost along the way and end up wandering aimlessly around.  Secondly, if we don't have a good positive sense of what the end of our journey will bring, we might quit before we reach our destination.  Change is hard without some form of motivation.

Abraham was no stranger to change.  Thanks to God he found his whole life in a state of upheaval as he left his country to pursue a land God had promised for him.  To motivate him, God kept reminding Abraham of the end goal - that his descendents would number the dust of the earth - and even allowed Abraham to get a little "taste" of the land.

And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: "Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are - northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.  And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then yur descendants also could be numbered.  Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you." - Ge 13:14-17 NKJV

Casting a detailed vision is a key step in motivating us toward our goals.   If we can fully picture ourselves in a future situation, we will be more motivated to get there.  When times get tough we can know that our sacrifices will pay off in the end.  When we struggle in being excited about doing the things we would not prefer doing, we can remember that even the little mundane chores have a purpose for the big picture. 

Are you where you want to be in your professional, church, family, social or ministry life?   Do you know where you want to be?  Maybe you have some goals in mind but are getting bogged down in the details or are frustrated with the process.  Taking the time to cast a vision for yourself or your team will have a huge impact on motivating you toward your goals.  Do a little dreaming today.   

____________________________________________________________________________

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