Work towards improving your skill or nurturing that gift.

There are two types of writers, the “Pantser” and the “Outliner”. I think I may be predominantly a “Pantser”. These are popular work-styles of Writers. Pantsers write as a process of discovery. I love the sound of the word “Pantser”; it injects excitement and great anticipation for the writer whose story is unfolding before his/her eyes. There is so much to learn, so many great writers have traversed these paths and as a result have shared many useful tips and lessons with us.

Jerry B. Jenkins is one of those writers. Learning from Jerry is great. You can check out his videos on YouTube. I love the fact that he has so much to share and is so liberal in doing so. While I am not very familiar with his work, his videos, articles and blogs inspire me to work harder towards improving my writing.

Isn’t this how we pursue purpose? By chasing our dreams, by nurturing our gifts and abilities and taking action by faith? We stir our appetite for excellence by training our minds to focus on activities that can build our art, our skill and our knowledge base, in the area or areas of interest.

Whatever you are seeking to achieve, give yourself that opportunity to make it happen. Maybe you are seeking to become a better cook or baker, or you may be dreaming of producing a movie some day. There are so many directions one can take, so much to explore. I sincerely hope that if you have procrastinated and doubted all your life that you would quickly shake it off and begin to walk briskly towards your next project.

It was never a plan of mine to be a Writer but, it is certainly one now. It happened when God chose to refresh my spirit during a dark. lonely time in my life, by stirring me to write. It was therapeutic and I was able to breathe hope into the lives of others.

My journey has only just begun and I expect by God’s grace that it would grow more and more exciting everyday. I am so thankful that God would desire to use me and I’m extremely excited about the writing projects to come, those already envisioned and those to be discovered.

Many of you share similar experiences and I am confident that someone reading this article will be inspired to “go for it”. There is something you need to master, go do what is necessary to master it and see your dream come through,

Love your children equally; jealousy is dangerous.

In the Bible, Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his sons. He had twelve sons under his care and he openly demonstrated that he loved Joseph more. Genesis 37:4 says “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

This special love for Joseph over his other brothers, in addition to Joseph’s dreams which he shared with them, created a serious problem; jealousy and hate. Joseph’s brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver. This is how destructive Jealousy was for Jacob’s Family.

This old story that has been told endless times, still has lessons for parents today. We must be guarded against making the same mistake; loving one child more than the other. Here are some tips we can all practice at home to ensure Jealousy is not encouraged.

  1. Ensure the needs of each child are being met.
  2. In meeting the needs of your children, sometimes it is necessary to prioritize. It may be necessary for one child to have a particular need met before the other. For eg: Sammy needs a new lunch bag because the zipper no longer works but Sarah needs a bigger lunch bag allowing her to pack her water as well. With limited finances, Sammy’s need would come before Sarah’s. In such instances, parents should communicate clearly to both children giving them the opportunity to learn how to prioritize and to put the needs of others first.
  3. Avoid showing more physical affection towards one child over the other. Of course we expect that a baby would receive constant hand-holding while a teenager would receive hugs; the physical affection must be appropriate for the age. We need to be also careful with the gifts. Avoid the “coat of many colours”, those extraordinary gifts given to only one child.
  4. Do things together, avoid singling out one child to spend time with over the other(s) unless there is a special need you are trying to address and special attention is needed. For eg: Have a movie evening when every child can be present or visit the Ice Cream Shop when every child will be able to enjoy an ice cream.
  5. Do not compare your children, especially in their presence. For eg: Marcel is very good at math but Michael is not. That’s completely o.k. The mistake we sometimes make is tell to Michael, “you need to do better in Math, Marcel never gets less that 75%”. Sometimes we even ask “Why can’t you do better in Math, like Marcel?”. Dangerous territory.
  6. Verbally express your love for your children when they are together, emphasizing that they are all special to you.
  7. Finally, when solving conflicts, be objective always looking at what was done wrong and not who did the wrong.

I am amazed by how much we can learn from these old true stories of the Bible. There is so much to apply to our lives as we seek to do better every day.

Hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. Please do not leave before sending us feedback on how this or any other article has inspired you.

When God wants to enlarge you, he needs you to take action – move out or let go!

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Genesis is a great book. I love the lessons that can be gleaned from Abram and his son, Isaac. In chapter 13, we see how Abram invited Lot to move into his own space, his own land as there was strife between Abram’s workmen and Lots workmen. Verse 9 says, (Abram speaking) “Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself I pray thee, from me; if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.”

Lot opened his eyes and he saw well watered flat lands and settled there. Interestingly, verse 14 says “And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward and westward, for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever.

In Chapter 26, Abram has died and Isaac is now the man of the moment. He settles in a place called Gerar, land of the Philistines. God speaks to him and says “I will be with thee and will bless thee, for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries….”. As Isaac lived there, his wealth increased and the Philistines envied him. There were wells that his father dug and the Philistines filled them up with earth. Eventually, Abimelech, the King of Gerar tells him to get out. So he peacefully relocates to the valley of Gerar. Even then, he dug two more wells and the men of Gerar made confusion over the wells saying “the water is ours”. Isaac moves out from them again and goes elsewhere and digs another well, finally finding peace.

God had a plan to execute through Abram and later through his son, Isaac. To execute this plan, he needed them to be alone at certain times, he needed them to have their own space, he needed them to be able to function without obvious distractions. As he guides them to take action, we see their approach as one of peace, ready to let go of their weights and do what is required, even though it meant giving up an investment. Maybe God wants you to let go some of the people in your life, maybe you need to offer them the greener pastures, maybe you need to be a peacemaker and say “you can have it”; it is only material possession anyhow. For others, maybe you are the one to physically move out so that God could show you what he has in store for you. As we take action, remember to do so in a peaceful and gentle spirit. Once we understand that God is speaking to us through a particular circumstance to move out or let go, and you believe you can trust him with your future, there will be peace.

Letting go can be hard, giving up precious possession could be heartbreaking, but sometimes we need to in order to gain greater.

Practical help for controlling your thoughts by Stanley Charles, InTouch Ministries

(Featured picture -google images).

Many times when I listen to a sermon, or read something really inspirational, I immediately think of sharing it with someone. Today is one of those days and I have chosen to share some insights from Pastor Stanley Charles of InTouch Ministries. Hope you find it useful!

Let me start with one of his quotes: “Unseen thoughts produce visible consequences in your life.”

We just cannot escape the reality of our thoughts. Hence the reason it is so important to master our thoughts and control them always. Once we are alive we would think, but we are not to be held captive to our thoughts. We can save ourselves from doing and saying things that we would regret, if only we can learn to control our thoughts.

Here are six questions, given by Pastor Charles, that we can ask ourselves, to help us practice healthy thinking. Remember, our mind is a control tower.

1. Where will these thoughts lead me?

2. Will these thoughts get me where I want to go?

3. Are these thoughts scripturally acceptable?

4. Will these thoughts build me up or tear me down?

5. Could I share these thoughts with someone else?

6. Where did these thoughts originate?

I find these questions solid and very useful for helping anyone build healthy thinking habits. If you think of yourself as a failure, you would find all sorts of excuses to keep you from rising after falling.

If you think of others as individuals who are of less value than you, then it would be easy for you to hurt others, whether with your words or your actions. If you think that God’s word is not true, you would live your life with no consideration of consequences or the impact of your decisions on others.

Don’t be fooled. Your mind is indeed your control tower.

Practice asking the questions above and see yourself soar in your thoughts and in your life.

Your greatness can come from your failures

At the time we are experiencing them, the world does not deal kindly with failures, weaknesses and moments of personal struggles; those times when we feel like we have lost our way, we have lost our shine and our spirit is broken. But when we persevere and rise from the ashes, then everyone wants to hear our story; we often forget that these struggles often birth greatness. Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, is the greatest example of someone who has persevere through His struggle. He never sinned but his struggle was real. He refused to give up on the promises of His father, even after being tempted to do so. As a result, He eventually gained the victory over the musically talented, but destructive, Lucifer, who was now working against his dream to see all men experience true freedom. Many men have passed on, leaving a legacy of getting back up after failure and persevering to the finishing line. Some were able to rise after several failures. They learnt that their failure was only a catalyst, a lesson, and embraced it not with shame and regret, but gratefulness. They understood what it meant to give thanks for everything, even for their failures, for it was during these times that their lives were deeply shaken to the core and after much pain and personal sacrifice, they were able to present fruits of gold and silver.

I suggest you get excited about getting up after you have fallen and look over yonder to the distance, whether you see it or not, there is a ray of hope beckoning you to keep pressing forward towards the finishing line. God sent his Son to give you and I hope, hope after Adam and Eve sinned, hope that would take us out of fear and bondage, hope that would pull us away from our poor self image and help us to understand that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, for a purpose. As a we embrace this hope, we would unlock our true potential and shine, so that our heavenly father can be glorified. It is a hope that can only be found in Jesus and it enables us to have the correct perspective about our failures and our weaknesses, and about our future. It is a hope that gives us the strength to see our dreams become reality.

Psalm 139:14 – My new favourite verse

Last Sunday, my son led family devotions. For us leading family devotions is no big thing, we would normally share a passage that has been a blessing to us, a lesson learnt, or just something in the bible we found amazing and wanted to explore more with the rest of the family.

He read from Psalm 139 wrapping it up by quoting the last two verses. We had such a sweet moment discussing that Psalm that I decided to go back and feed a bit more on it, this time with my daughter. So at nights we began reading the Psalm again.

There is so much in this Psalm but I must just take this moment to say that when we arrived at verse 14, all heaven broke loose. That verse just put a skip in our step, a flicker of light in our eyes and a cool inner feeling of peace that made us feel that we were ready for bed and ready to face what is to come.

I decided to share that special verse with you. It says, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are thy works and that my soul knoweth right well.” I just love the old English style in which it is written.

Some verses just hit the spot when you least expect it. I felt a little dry and my friend, when I read this verse, all my dry places was immediately flooded. If we had decided to just say good night and dive under the covers, we would’ve missed this golden moment with God’s word.

I am going to praise God just knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am his masterpiece, I am his special creation, I am of such great worth to Almighty God that it just makes me want to run to the top of the mountain and shout it out so the world could hear. God continues to do amazing, marvelous, out-of-this-world things that astonishes us daily. He is really incomparable.

What a verse! Definitely the kind of verse that would change a dull moment to joy. I admit, some part of the Bible can seem boring but there is always that verse to keep you smiling, to keep you going, to keep you joyful.

We are human but God provides the means for us to think above our human tendencies.

The Book of Genesis provides a great entrance to God and His intention for His creation.   It never gets old no matter how many times I read it. 

The stories of Abraham and Sarah reminds us of the importance of trusting God.   Stay with me as I quickly point out a few things: 

Genesis 12:3 shares with us a promise made by God to Abraham: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shall be a blessing”. Then Chapter 15 speaks more of this promise.  Verses 3 & 4 says:  “And Abram said, Behold to me thou hast given no seed: and , lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him saying, this shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.” 

Sadly, Abraham Got anxious and had sex with his Maid on the prompting of his wife.  Maybe he thought he was helping God fulfill his will.  His human thinking however, only created problems.   This was not the seed God promised to Abraham.  God intended for this seed to come from Abraham and his wife.    

God had to instruct Abraham again, this time clearly indicating that Sarah would have a child.  And you know what? Sarah did have a child as promised.    Skip down to chapter 21 and what do we read? “And the Lord visited Sarah as he said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.” 

When coming to God’s promises and his plan for our lives, we often think we need to speed up things and we give into the pressures around us, but our fleshy mistakes only create havoc in our lives and it is never worth it.  Sometimes the pressures to stray from God’s promise can come from a family member and when it does it becomes tricky.   It is comforting to know, however, that God strengthens us to resist any pressure, it does not matter where them come from. 

In Chapter 20, it speaks of Abraham journeying to the South and staying in a city called Gerar.   Abraham told the King, Abimelech, that Sarah was his Sister.  He was afraid that if he confessed her to be his wife, they would kill him and take her.  He feared that they had no respect for God and would do as they please. 

Abraham’s lie did not help one bit, it created problems for the King’s household.   Abraham had to confess and allow God to fix the situation. 

Our natural mind has to be daily trained to think in the spiritual.  God already promised Abraham a seed, he knew it was not the child he had with his Maid and he knew the seed would come from Sarah.   But, here he is fearing death.   Didn’t Abraham realize he needed to be alive for God’s purpose to be executed? 

I am happy that even though we are bent towards doing our own thing, we have the means to resist and give in to God’s plan for our lives. 

Because you are different does not mean you need to give in.

There are many people struggling with the desire to become intimately involved with the same sex. Finally, many of them give in, thinking that this is who they are meant to be and they need to be free by “coming out of their closet”. This mentality is supported by lots of people in society today and it is really difficult for someone to resist when those “same-sex” urges are experienced.

I believe the stories of those who finally gave in, are glamorised, while the stories of those who don’t are often suppressed and not shared.

The reality is however, it boils down to a choice, to respect and believe that God’s standards are different from society’s standards or to reject those standards for society’s standards. Some choose to respect and honour God’s way and so they choose to resist the urge and the temptation to be with another of their kind. Today, there are beautiful stories of such successes.

Don’t be overwhelmed with the fashion to give in, there is another option. Ask yourself “What would Jesus Do?”. Ask him that question directly and sincerely tune in for his answer. You would be amazed of the power of his words and the overwhelming love he has for you. Consider that the one who created you may have a different plan for your life, even with your “differences”. Consider!