Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why AGT Makes Me Cry


I don’t watch many reality television shows. For the few I might watch, I tend to get bored after an episode or two. But, so far, this season of America’s Got Talent has been different.

Every week, I’ve shed a few tears. Not from laughter, but because of the second chances.

It’s the humbleness of the performers, some who don’t even realize how talented they are, but who never stopped trying. 

It’s the men and women who didn’t let age, illness, or adversity stand in their way. 

It’s the ones who got back up and tried again, regardless of what came their way in life.

It’s those acts, and the human stories behind them, that choke me up. And inspire me.

Every week I’m reminded that God gives us second chances and new opportunities every day.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23 NIV

Regardless of what talents we may or may not have, how we have succeeded or failed in the past, or what dreams we may have given up on…it’s not too late.

God does not give up on His children. In fact, what we see as a dead end may be a redirect to move us into the plans God has for us.

When the road we travel doesn’t look the way we planned or hoped for, we get disappointed, frustrated, and maybe even a little scared. But, when the road looks the way God planned, it’s a better road than we could have created.

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 
Jeremiah 29:10-11 NIV

No matter how long it takes, we don’t have to stop trying when we reach a certain age, or when illness has taken time from us. When we keep looking for new opportunities, they will present themselves.

I guess the question is…will we be ready, or have we already given up?

In Christ,
Laura  

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Linking up with: #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Thought Provoking Thursday, #LifeGivingLinkup, #FreshMarketFriday, Faith 'n Friends, Grace & Truth, #GiveMeGrace

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Speak Responsibly


Over the past week, there’s been so much heartbreaking news—cold-blooded murder, hateful, evil mass murder, and the freak accident of a toddler being attacked by an alligator. 

Thanks to social media, we have constant updates, and repeating of the same information, brought into our homes around the clock. Scrolling through news feeds is even easier than opening the door to pick up the newspaper that was delivered to my house.

As with any convenience, there are aspects that are not always used responsibly—such as the ease of expressing our opinions.

When we hear about anything, positive or negative, we might have an opinion. When we take the time to gather information (not only what is being fed to us) and think logically, we can form educated, well-thought out opinions. Unfortunately, I saw few of these right after the recent tragedies.

What I saw instead were numerous vicious attacks—snap judgements meant to blame and shame—individual viewpoints meant to hurt others. These types of attacks are immediately posted to social media and then recirculated over and over, where they gain momentum.

Let’s face it, judgmental thoughts are not new, but we used to express them mainly in our own homes and neighborhoods. Now, it’s easy to send every thought out to anyone who will read it, and even easier to share or retweet it.

Have we always been a society that strives to hurt, criticize, and ridicule each other? Or has social media just made it so much easier to do that without having to take responsibility for what we say?

Please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. I am all in favor of our 1st Amendment rights and I do see the value in social media.

What I am suggesting is that we speak responsibly.

What if before we put our anger and judgement out for all to see, we ask ourselves a few questions? 
1. Is this something I would say if the person was standing in front of me?
2. Is this something I want my family, friends, and co-workers to see?
3. Why do I want to post this? Will it help, hurt, or add anything to the situation?
4. If I think about it for 10 minutes first, will I still want to post it?
5. How would I feel if someone wrote this to, or about, me?
Speaking responsibly means thinking before we speak. It means taking responsibility for what we say and write, and for how we say and write it. {Click to tweet}

Social media has made expressing our opinions easy. And it’s also made expressing our opinions more dangerous, more painful, and more deadly.

We all have opinions and viewpoints, but that doesn’t mean every thought should be verbalized—especially on social media where it can’t be taken back.

I am truly thankful that the 1st Amendment gives us the right to express our views. Now, can we all just try to do that responsibly?

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Linking up with: #GiveMeGrace, Let Us Grow

Friday, June 17, 2016

Under Attack


I’m joining the Five Minute Friday community with Kate Motaung…5 minutes, no rewriting, and a one word prompt…
Lose

I've been under some serious spiritual attack for a while now. In every area of my life the enemy is working to wear me down.

My friends have also been under attack and this constant assault has us weary. Feeling as if we can't get to the surface for air, we're losing the strength to fight this battle.

And that's exactly what Satan wants—for us to give up, to turn away from God, and stoop to his level.

He wants us to lose ourselves to him. (I got a creepy feeling just writing that.)

But our Jesus has already defeated the devil through His death and resurrection!

And I'm reminding myself that it's through Jesus' victory where I can draw the strength to persevere.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]



Thursday, June 9, 2016

Anger in Control {Anger Series}


I think sometimes we don’t realize the power anger has over us. It comes on quick, but it also builds over time. It has the ability to move us to help others when we see injustice, but it also has the potential to overcome us in very negative ways.

Anger, when left unchecked, can control everything we do from how we think and speak, to how we act and react.

If we let it, anger can become the operating system behind everything we do. {Tweet this}

As I’ve been thinking about this topic of anger, I decided to go back to the beginning—to the story of Cain and Abel. 
When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.
 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. Genesis 4:2b-8 NLT
Very little is said about their lives until this incident. We don’t know the family dynamic or how they got along as brothers. All we know is God didn’t accept Cain’s offering and it made Cain very angry.

It’s the Lord’s response that I don’t remember in the childhood stories about Cain and Abel. God doesn’t sound angry, but He does warn Cain of what can happen if he doesn’t get in control of his anger.

Anger was at the door, eager to control Cain. And it’s still at the door…eager to control you and me.

We don’t have a time frame, but it appears it didn’t take Cain long to cross from being angry to becoming a murderer. Or maybe some time did elapse and Cain let that anger boil in his heart waiting to explode.

Either way, Cain didn’t have control over his feelings. Anger had control of him.

It’s frightening to think how quickly an emotion can drive us to sinful behavior. We hold on to anger waiting for the right time to retaliate, when what we need to do is confess our anger and resist it’s hold over us.

It’s not easy, I know.

Romans 6:12 says…
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Romans 6:12 NLT
We could rephrase it this way…

Do not let anger control the way you live; do not give in to angry desires.

Or…don’t let anger control you the way it controlled Cain.

God’s Word always gives us direction in the way we should and shouldn’t live. He knows the human condition and how emotions have the ability to control us. So, like He did with Cain, God warns us of what can happen when we let anger have control over us…and it’s not good. It’s never good.

What are your thoughts on the story of Cain and Abel?

In Christ,
Laura