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Life Builder Seminars is a women's Ministry utilizing seminars and conferences to equip and empower women for life.
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Recharge

17 Jun 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Kelly Elders

One day after an event I walked into the parking garage and the car next to me had it’s hood up with a woman holding battery cables. We all know what that means, car trouble. The woman couldn’t start her car and needed someone to help recharge her battery. I lifted my hood and we charged her battery. She thanked me and we went our separate ways. On my way home I stopped to have lunch with friends and as I parked my car my battery light went on. Here I was helping someone with their battery and all the while my battery was in trouble.The next day I couldn’t start my car and had to replace the battery.

Leading on Empty

Sometimes we are helping and giving to the people around us and yet we are living depleted lives. When we stay on the side of giving and never stop to receive we will begin to feel overwhelmed and even frustrated with people, church and ministry.  Living on empty will cause you to move from church to church or position to position trying to find out where you feel fulfilled. Fulfillment comes from our relationship with Christ not from our position in church. Serving is all about others not ourselves. It’s not to make us feel better by making us feel accepted, forgiven or righteous. All those things are found in Christ alone. We serve because He invites us to share in His work on this earth. It’s an honor to be able to function as His hands, His voice, His heart and His feet. He wants to use us immeasurably and also keep us filled.

Who wants to help people succeed, grow and walk into their destiny if they themselves are not experiencing all of those things too?

When you have faith for yourself to win in life, it’s much easier to help someone else live by their faith. I wouldn’t want a trainer at the gym to train me if they had a muffin top and a donut in their hand. You can only take people as far as you have been so as you grow you can then propel others forward.

If you have been in the church long enough you have heard people say they can no longer serve because they’re just burned out! “Burned out” people are people who serve on low or empty. The easiest place to hide your emptiness is while you are serving. If you stop attending church people assume you are in a bad place or feeling defeated but how about all those people who volunteer every Sunday on empty. No one notices you are actually starving and serving at the same time. Soon you can deceive yourself into believing you are no longer hungry and instead revert to become hangry.

Hangry vs. Hungry

Have you ever met someone who gets hangry? They are angry cause they’re hungry. They can’t make a decision or they become easily frustrated because they haven’t eaten. This drives me crazy! I want to keep an emergency slice of bread in my purse for people like this. I can’t understand how someone can let themselves get to this point when they have every ability to grab a snack instead of attack. Yet many Christians are so hungry they become hangry. They respond to people out of their hunger and hurt others with their words and all because they choose to live on empty.

God has made Himself available to us for our every need through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. He longs to fill us and wants us not only full but running over. Jesus tells a parable in Luke of a story of a man who prepared a banquet table and everyone he invited had an excuse as to why they couldn’t attend. One man couldn’t attend because he bought a field, another just bought oxen and another just became married. People are still using the same excuses for not sitting at His table. They are working too much, consumed with all the material wealth or their relationships and have no time for Him. Jesus continues to tell the story of how the man sent his servant out to call anyone willing to come. God is filling those who hunger after Him and He is sending out those who love being filled while filling others!

The better you are, the better the quality of what you have to give.

Filled People

Filled people spill over onto others. Have you ever met someone who can’t hold in a secret? They have to release it or they feel they will explode. We need to feel that welling up to want to tell others what God has done in our lives. We should have stories of how good He has been to us and how grateful we are for His goodness. These stories should spill out of us. When we live with hearts of gratitude we notice even the small things that God does on our behalf. We notice and thank Him for the perfect parking spot, the short line at the grocery store, keeping you from an accident and every good thing that happens, each time He intervenes or protects.

Today, choose to focus on the good things and continue to fill yourself with His Word, last Sundays message, a podcast and just conversations with God and as you are consistent you will feel the infilling happen each day. As David Katina said, “Good, better, best, don’t let it rest till the good is better and the better is best.” 

More from Kelly Elders at her blog.   

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Slow Down

09 Jun 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Amber Lawton

Three weeks. I had three weeks. Truthfully I had way more time to complete my homework, but I kept finding myself stuck. When you’re a (former) perfectionistic, approval-seeking, analyzer like myself you would think I would utilize the time I had to my advantage. Instead my penchant for procrastination kicked in. Combine this with the greatest gift known to woman, multitasking, and I thrive in the excitement of finishing.

Like many of my peers I have found ways to accomplish multiple tasks in my day at the same time. I’ve read what the experts have to say about the ill effects of multitasking; split attention, less effective, and mediocre results. But who knows better than me how I get things done?   Forget the fact that this homework is for a class at church intended to increase my spiritual growth, and teach me how to walk in my God given authority. Nevermind the fact that if I finish these assignments I will probably find a greater peace in my life. In the time given to me I allowed anxiety set in: ‘what if I don’t pass?’ ‘I need to find a job.’ ‘What am I going to do if I run out of money?’ ‘I promised I would help.’… and on, and on, and on.

This pattern is not new to me. Over the course of my many years of employment I found myself committed to too many projects. Deadlines looming over my head I would agree to help others with their work knowing I had not completed my own projects. At times I took work home, and spent even less time in what should have been the highest priority – my relationship with God. Reading my bible became reading a scripture in a devotional when I could. Prayer became quick thank yous in the shower, and a blessing over meals. The most time I could commit to with the Lord was in my car during the morning commute. I’ll be honest those were not always the finest moments as I tried to pray, or worship, only to be cut off and cussing. That’s right. Road rage was in full effect. So I essentially stuck to listening to Christian radio hoping whatever message I was listening to would sink in. Yet, my thoughts never quite lined up with what I was listening to as they quickly went to the day’s tasks, or bills, or whatever else was a concern for that day. Instead of living a Christ-centered life my life looked more like a pie chart with Christ being the smallest piece of the pie.

In this new season of my life I didn’t expect to have to revisit how I prioritize my time with God. Still, I found that with holding off this homework came a slow depreciation of my time with Him. The busier I got, the more worried I became. Then there was the self-defeating thought that said “just a little bit of time with God is better than none.” That’s right this is a self-defeating thought because if I find my peace, hope, joy, love,  freedom, and ultimately myself, in Him why would He be at the bottom of my priorities? Contrary to what you may have heard alone time with God isn’t meant to be a shadow to your list of to-do’s.

I wish I could tell you that I heard some gentle message of Mary & Martha that caused me to want to sit at the Father’s feet. No, quite the opposite. I was attempting to do a low priority task because it was less challenging, and didn’t push me spiritually. That’s right I was avoiding the change I needed. Because after all, once you know better, you do better, right? I was sitting at my computer when the Holy Spirit said very clearly “One thing at a time. You need to do one thing at a time. Prioritize. What is priority?” I immediately felt convicted because the very thing I needed to do first was the thing I put off for last. The assignments I procrastinated to complete were directly connected to my assignment in the Earth. How could I possibly attempt to do anything related to purpose if I couldn’t draw closer to the one who gave me that purpose in the first place?

I recently heard John Bevere teach that ‘it was the good of the tree that Eve was drawn to when she was deceived. The tree we know as good and evil. Eve was enticed by the good because she thought it would make her more like God. Much like Eve, many Christians are deceived by the good of a thing, not noticing the compromise it brings to their lives.’ How applicable this statement is to my very circumstances. Essentially I could have said “I shouldn’t be convicted, because after all it’s not like I don’t spend any time with God. And hey all the things I’m distracted with are for Him for the most part anyway.” But what is the value of  a sacrifice when you are giving up a calculated measure that doesn’t mean much in the first place? How much are you changed or even becoming intimate with your Father when you are more consumed with projects, tasks, money, and things?

Mark 4:19 (NLV) says: “But the cares of this life let thorns come up. A love for riches and always wanting other things let thorns grow. These things do not give the Word room to grow so it does not give grain.” This scripture says ‘other things’ which is broad when you think about it. Things can be your career, your house, children, or education. Things could be physically tangible items. Things could be tasks or projects. Think about things. What ‘other things’ are growing up like a thorn in your life and choking the seeds of the word? Hard questions, I know. But I had to ask this of myself as well. If I intend to be a doer of His word I must do more than hear His word. In order to know Him I must know His word. In order to draw closer to Him I must be diligent, and whole-hearted in my pursuit. I must sit still, prioritize, and take one thing at a time.   

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Help

03 Jun 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written By Judy Smith

It seems that there’s no break from cares, concerns, anxieties, and worries. I have children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who I pray for, and each one from the youngest to the oldest is going though some sort of crises, myself included.

As we take the time to pray, help and be a support others, at times  the weight may cause us wonder if it is possible to care too much. Where does Jesus draw the line for our compassion? Matthew 9:36 says, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd.” The NIV translation says that they were harassed and helpless. Another versions says that they were distraught, mislead, and heart- broken.

How far should our compassion extend? As much as Jesus’ does! The difference is, He has the ability to bear caring for all of our needs at once. We were not created to carry these cares; we were created to take the cares to Him. 1 Peter 5:7 AMP casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].

1 Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” If we do these things first and then give every care to Jesus, then the pressure is off!! We can choose to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. This is how I have learned to handle cares in life.

As soon as I’m overwhelmed with difficulties, I bring them to Him with a thankful heart. Then I ask Him to show me how to handle the situation. The very act of thanking Him releases my mind from negativity. As I turn my attention to Him, the problem fades and loses its power to dominate my thoughts. He lifts the burden and gives me peace as I am in His presence.

Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Learn to relate to others through His love. Human love is limited and flawed. His loving presence and His love is perfect, unfailing an unconditional. His love motivates us to reach out and help others.

We can become drained from interacting with many needy people, while not taking time to rest. Take time to rest in the presence of Jesus. He will restore energy and give grace.

Matthew 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” We can approach each new day in Jesus’ presence, before you get out of bed. He has already made the crooked places straight, He has already prepared a path for your day and there are hidden treasures strategically placed along the way. Look for them!

Some of the treasures come out of the trials, which shake us free from self-dependence. Other treasures are the blessings that reveal His presence, such as the beauty of nature, strong friendships, and answered prayers.

He has not abandoned us. He is still present. He is still all-powerful. Search for the deep treasures as you go through each day. You will find Jesus along the way.

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Leader

26 May 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Petra M. Rodriguez

Where does Leadership begin? Leadership usually starts at home, as we learn how to make productive and wise decisions from our parents. When parents lead by example, it teaches us to be strong leaders. Leaders are charged with the task of not only holding everyone on their team accountable, but holding themselves accountable as well, thereby setting an example of what they expect from the team.  There’s hardly anything worse for company morale than leaders who practice the “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. When this happens, you can almost see the loss of enthusiasm and goodwill amongst the team. It’s like watching air go out of a big balloon. This allows the opportunity for much disappointment and let down. 

As a leader, your team looks to you for guidance and strength. Part of being a great leader is to inspire the people around you, inspiring them to push themselves and return the team to greatness! To do this you must show them the way first by setting a good example.  If you make a new rule, you must follow it first, then your team will follow it too.  

We are all leaders whether we think so or not. Family, friends, and people all around us are looking for someone who will inspire them to do more and strive to be better. We can all set good examples and not just do the “same old-same old” routine.  Be a positive example they can follow.  Sometimes, to be that person, it takes courage. With a positive attitude and a genuine heart, we can help build people up on our team. Eventually seeing them become team builders themselves, leading people to excel everyday!

 

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John Maxwell

“A leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Arnold H. Glasow

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” John Maxwell

 

REFLECTION

Be courageous -It has been said that courage is not the lack of fear, but the ability to face fear, and overcome it.

Be an optimist – Everyone can choose to be an optimist or a pessimist; to see the best in people or the worst in any moment.

Know what you believe in and live it! – An effective leader clearly understands their core value, objectives, and important beliefs. They live their convictions and lead with integrity to build successful people.

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A Frozen Heart

19 May 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Kelly Elders

I recently read an article of a Pennsylvania man who was found dead in the snow. He told his dad he was on his way home in sub zero temperature and when he never arrived his father went out searching for him. The father found his son in the snow, frozen with no pulse or heartbeat. He was taken to a nearby hospital. Doctors could not declare him dead until his body was warm. He was given CPR and chest compressions for over two hours then flown to another hospital where they were able slowly warm the body. Miraculously, as his body warmed his heart began to beat again. He made a full recovery only losing a couple fingers and toes due to hypothermia.

Sometimes in our own walk we can struggle to survive the severe storms causing us to fall and freeze. When others look at us they see death but God will surround you with people who refuse to call you dead!

Keep Moving

Have you ever felt frozen or stuck? With no heartbeat or passion to move forward? So many times situations in our life can cause us to get stuck and soon have no passion for the vision ahead. Growing up in the midwest we knew that you could not dress too warm when you went skiing in the snow because you would warm up fast. Movement kept me warm in the snow. It’s when we stop moving, stop reading, stop attending church, stop surrounding ourselves with the right people that can cause us to get stuck. Eventually, our pulse on the things of God slows down and soon our heart stops beating with purpose.

Feed your heart with books, podcasts, inspiring sermons and music but remember nothing can warm your spirit like the Holy Spirit. Spending time alone with God and saying aloud your thoughts, fears, prayers and thankful words can heal your heart like nothing else. Another way to stay warm in the cold elements people embrace each other to generate heat. The same is true when your heart needs warmed is to surround yourself with people who are hot, not in looks but in spirit. Find one person or group that their hearts are pumping and they are excited about their own future and the future of the Church. Once you do this your heart will beat again.

Pump The Heart

Sometimes we find people in the same predicament. Frozen in their ways, no heartbeat for the things of God, and no pulse to the heart of God and we give up and declare them dead too soon. When truly they need someone to shock their heart, pump the heart and warm their hearts again. I know in ministry we can tend to become frustrated or even bypass those stuck but we are called to warm their hearts with love and words of possibility. Sometimes it includes effort on your part. God is looking for people who are strong enough to manually pump the hearts of those frozen due to the elements of this life. The heart was pumped for 2 hours not a lifetime. There was a time the young man had to be taken to a more advanced facility to continue the process. We are all just part of the process. Be willing to get unstuck from that frozen place so you can one day be the one pumping someone else’s heart and love them to life.

Read more from Kelly Elders at her blog.

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Peace In Troubling Times

12 May 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written By Judy Smith

We can have peace and contentment in the midst of troubling times. We think this is impossible when everything is caving in on us, and in the natural this is true. If this rings true then we are forgetting the One and only wise and powerful God we serve. In my forty-four years of loving and serving Jesus, He has not let me down. In every circumstance, He worked it out in His time as I prayed, trusted, and drew nearer to Him.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength me. We face an unknown future because we do not know everything that the days ahead contain. Even so we can prepare for whatever lies ahead. We must view life as a learning opportunity. We can ask God what He wants us to learn from any situation that we face. Daily bible reading and prayer prepare us to receive instruction and direction from God when we set aside specific time to listen. He encourages us with His presence and promises. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual eyes to see the lessons learned.

Thee situations we face today can build a greater confidence in God and give us the  assurance that in Christ we can tackle what lies ahead. Incident after incident, lesson after lesson,  and year after year, as we experience God’s great faithfulness, grace, and power we will gain the confidence to say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

In tough times Paul was stretched, beaten, and left for dead. Paul did not ask why me Lord. He asked Lord what do you want me to do? What do you want me to understand from this situation? Paul learned through everything he experienced that we should not rely on ourselves, we should rely on God.

He pulls us out of our circumstances.

2 Samuel 22:17, 20 HCSB He reached down from heaven and took hold of me; He pulled me out of deep waters. He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.

Difficult days come unexpectedly like a flood. You cannot plan for them, neither can you prepare for how they affect you. Though outside and unexpected forces may be the cause, they mainly come through the common aspects of life. It is the abundance of small, daily problems that can overwhelm us.

Even as adversity rages, remember that Jesus is your great lifeguard and that He is able to deliver you. Turn each problem and each overwhelming difficulty to Him. Surely He will lift you out of the deep waters and bring you out to the spacious place where you can breathe and have peace.

Psalm 31:23-24 Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person.  Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.  

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Rejoice and be thankful! As you walk with Jesus through each day, practice trusting and thanking Him all along the way. Trust is the channel through which His peace flows to you. Thankfulness lifts you up above your troubles.

He does His greatest works through people with grateful trusting hearts. Rather than fretting and evaluating, practice trusting and thanking Him regularly. This will revolutionize your life.

In closing, here are three scriptures to encourage your heart.

  • Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
  • Psalm 95:1-2 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
  • Psalm 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

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Go Far

06 May 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Remaliah Evans

As women our plates tend to stay full and then we begin living on our own strength, and nearly completely independent from God. How do we know when we are operating in our own strength or in faith? Listen to what you are saying and pay attention to what you are thinking. A telltale sign is if you are constantly saying or thinking, “I’m tired”. Now you may be legitimately tired. The question is why are you tired? Are you tired because you are working long hours and loosing sleep? Or do you feel drained no matter how much sleep or rest you seem to get?

I can work long hours for a period of time, however it is not healthy to work long hours and remain sleep deprived on an extended basis. For several years I kept two jobs and eventually I felt the Lord telling me to quit the second job. I did not quit my second job because I wanted the extra disposable income. One day I fell asleep while driving and I crashed into a road sign. Fortunately no one was hurt except my little Corolla.

The Lord told me to quit my second job because He knew I was not sleeping enough, and because quitting my job would require me to develop the discipline to budget and also trust Him to provide. Disclaimer: I am not advising you quit your job. In my case I knew that God was telling me quit my second job and I was disobedient. Having a second job was me operating out of my own strength because one, I did not ask God if should take a second job, and two I never went to God and asked Him to help me financially.

It is not a far-fetched idea that God would provide for us. He provided for Jacob, Esther, Joseph, Daniel, Moses and the widow who nearly lost her sons. Many times we operate out of our own strength because we do not believe that God will help us in certain areas of lives. But God is a good Father and like a good father He is concerned with every area of our lives.

Yes, I was legitimately tired because I was working two jobs, however when I quit my second job I had time to sleep and I was no longer tired. I am a recovering workaholic and I enjoy working because it is easier to work and accomplish work goals, than it is to deal with problems, character flaws, and develop meaningful relationships. When I work excessively, I am operating out of my own strength. The Lord says to work as if I am working unto Him.  There are times when God will instruct us to do works that require immense time and energy, however when we are acting in obedience to Him, and when we are fully submitted to what He asks us to do, I find that there is a grace to do the work.

I have been blessed to help organize a few large events. Over four to six months, this involves a myriad of emails, meetings, follow up calls, trainings, creating forms, and dealing with a slew of vendors. While there are definitely a few late nights, for the most part I do not realize how tired I am until after the event. Typically the day after the event I crash and I am in wonder at all that God allowed the team to accomplish. After one or two days of rest following the event, I am refreshed and fully recovered.

This is not adrenaline, it is the grace of God that rests upon us when we are obedient. When we are obedient and seek Him first, He is faithful to strengthen us. The word says seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to us. The kingdom of God is the rule and the reign of God, and righteousness is to be in right relationship with God. So when I seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness I am saying,” Lord, first I seek You so that You so that You will rule and reign in my heart and in my life, I am submitted to You. Above all else, I want to be in right relationship with You.”  

            When we do this, then all these things will be added to us. In reading Matthew 6:31-33 we find that the “things” referred to are food, water, and clothing, in other words necessities. God’s strength and grace are also necessities because we are called to do life WITH Him.

Another sign that we are operating out of our own strength is when we continuously say or think “I can’t do this.” When we say we cannot do something we are likely operating out of own strength because we are relying solely on ourselves. First, we must believe His promises that the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord, and that Lord leads us along the path that is best for our life. Thus, wherever the Lord leads us is ultimately beneficial. Second, regardless of what it feels like, God’s intentions for us are always good. He does not set us up for failure and wait for our demise.

To rely on God we need faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. The word says that we can do all things though Christ who strengthens us. We must change our thought patterns and speech. Whenever we hear ourselves say or think “I can’t do this” we can immediately say out loud, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I hate public speaking; it is scary and nerve wracking. I become nervous and speak extremely fast, there are awkward pauses, and even more awkward endings. I am on a team that shares a brief word of encouragement with my church about once per month. Every single time I tell myself I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. As I tell myself this, I realize that I am not alone and that He is here to help me. It also reminds me that it is not about me, it is about what He wants to communicate through me. My motivation shifts from simply wanting to be a good public speaker; my mindset shifts from performance to believing that God will use me to bring encouragement and hope as I share His word. It is not magic. I did not declare, “I can do all things thought Christ who strengthens me” and poof! I was suddenly a prolific public speaker. However over the past two years I have grown slightly more comfortable with public speaking and I am improving as my confidence remains in Him and I ask Him to give me the words to speak.

If we believe His word then we will speak, pray, and declare His word over our lives. Even when life does not work out the way we want, when we declare and believe His word, we are operating in faith and we learn to focus on Him, and not our problems or disappointments. We learn to trust Him and His love for us despite tragedy and opposition. We learn to walk in faith and walk in His strength because trying to do it on our own strength is maddening.

The most difficult season was when a close family member passed away. The death was sudden and I was livid, confused, bitter, and for the first time I felt like life just stopped for a while. After years of hoarding my emotions, suddenly my emotions would no longer go ignored. And for many months following the passing I had to keep choosing to seek God for His strength and direction. I went to God with my unforgiveness, rage, bitterness, and questions because I knew that there was no way that I could make it through such loss without Him. It was either go to Him for His strength, or be devoured by bitterness and sorrow. During that time I had faith in His promise that He would perfect that which concerns me…. and He did.

Faith without works is dead. I had faith in God to heal me and walk me through the grieving process. The works were to not stress out, and to go to Him whenever I felt overwhelmed or burdened. The works were to keep praying and believing that God would bring healing and understanding.

We walk in faith one decision, one step, and one moment at a time. And as we see God’s faithfulness, faith becomes a way of life because we discover that His word is true and that He is trustworthy. We walk in faith when we walk in agreement with Him and His word. When we walk with Him, we will always go far.

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Offended

28 Apr 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written By: Petra Rodriguez

Do you find yourself feeling offended often? I encounter this reality every single day. Many people are so offended with me, by others, by places, and ideas. This past Resurrection Sunday I experienced just that; the children in our family were cracking confetti eggs on whomever they had an opportunity to do so, which is a custom on that holiday. They decided to crack some on my head, which was fine, but when it came down to getting ready to grub I asked them to stop, so that confetti wouldn’t fall into my meal. Did they listen?! No!

I felt angry, disrespected, and immediately offended throughout the rest of the day.  I replayed the scene over and over in my head because I felt wronged by my family. Mentally rehashing the offense caused me to eventually forget what I really loved about them, and all the times they have brought joy, happiness and love into my life. Holding offense was not worth losing the richness that is family. I forgave and asked God to forgive me and decided to move on.

How have you been offended? Reasons to find offense surround us- bosses, employees, and people’s beliefs. However, offense is really an issue of the self. It has nothing to do with the other person who is offending you; it has everything to do with you. Yes, some people say and do things that may seem ridiculous to you. But we as human beings must learn to love each other past our differences. Have you ever thought about how you say and do things that are ridiculous to others? The issue of being offended has to do with how we respond. Offense will be given, but it doesn’t have to be taken. Offense changes us on the inside as we hold resentment, bitterness, strife, and un-forgiveness… which in the long run turns into gossip. This robs us from having peace and being at peace with others.

Luke 17:1-4 NIV Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

“We should be too BIG to take offense and too NOBLE to give it”. Abraham Lincoln

RELECTION

What issues in your life are you choosing to be offended over? They could be feelings of frustration, feelings of entitlement, negative words, not feeling valued, unfairness, and/or different beliefs.

Or we can choose not to be offended, which has several advantages:

    We can listen to and understand people better.

    We increase our opportunities to learn.

    We can more easily resolve conflict.

    We grow our ability to influence the world around us.

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The Fullness of Him

21 Apr 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written By Amber Lawton

In the middle of an extremely cramped space I stood waiting. Waiting for what would be that day’s purge. My living conditions had become unbearable, as there were but a few empty spaces I could actually step foot. Clean clothes, dirty clothes, trash, and keepsakes sat in piles surrounding me. Embarrassed, with chaos hidden behind a locked door, I kept my secret as long as I could, unable to ask for help. I wanted so badly to tell my roommates how lost I felt. I wanted to be able to open my mouth and say the words. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t ask for help, because if I did I would have to admit I was not the super woman I was trying to be. I would have to admit that my mistakes and failures were weighing on me to the point I didn’t have the sufficient energy to pick up a broom. No one wants to be the messy girl in a house full of productive, up and coming career women.

There I stood with plans of what to get rid of, what to keep, and where to clean. The plan was quite simple, but the execution was non-existent. Being an over-achieving organized person has its faults. If you’re like me you will find that we can be great at fixing and strategizing for others. We even learn how to compartmentalize categories for ourselves. Yet, there is always that one area where disorder will show up. In my case it was my living space.

Every day I stood waiting, asking myself if today would be the day that the cleaning process would begin. Every day the answer was no.

“You don’t have time. You’re too tired from the day that still seems to be going.” I thought. My mind would tell my body on a consistent basis not today, and I agreed. I was tired. I was burned out.

Still I stood waiting for the purge to happen; the one that would bring me an emptiness I could feel. In the middle of that room surrounded by piles of belongings I was standing on a scale. Having taken pills to counteract the food I had just eaten I stared at the number on the scale. I followed a pretty strict diet most days, and over exercised on the days I didn’t. To top it all off I was on an unending cycle between detox and diet with very brief periods in between where I would give my body a break. Diet pills, diuretics, fiber, and even epsom salt were on the list of consumables that I would take to get to that comfortable empty. I didn’t want to categorize myself as bulimic since I wasn’t model thin. But I realize now that is exactly what I was.

During adolescence I began binge eating as a way of comfort. Filled with anxiety, and emotion I would stuff myself until I could almost vomit. I say almost because vomiting was not a habit I liked enough to continuously do. Instead I gained weight. This only advanced the issues of rejection, hurt, guilt, and shame I was dealing with. In my early twenties I found out there was more than one way to eliminate a nasty binge. There was a whole aisle in the drugstore with over the counter pharmaceutical treats. Filling up, then emptying out, that was the process. Of course when my diet became restrictive I couldn’t fill up the way I wanted. I mean who binge eats on salad? *raising hand* I did. When I really couldn’t fill my stomach I had many other compulsive behaviors to swap in the place of food. If you hadn’t already guessed the pile of clothes were purchases made with money I didn’t have on things I did not need.

Each behavior led to a temporary fulfillment to counteract the emotion I was feeling in the moment. The impulse with food felt different from the others. I could rationalize that everyone gets hungry. What I failed to ask myself is what if your hunger doesn’t stop? What if with each bite you savor the taste a little more, a little longer, not wanting the meal to end. Your stomach is saying “put down the fork or you’ll explode” and your brain is saying “you better not stop, this tastes way too good, and will make up for all the emotional pain.” So I kept eating, thinking of ways I could get rid of the excess later.

What I remember most about those exhaustive days is there was never a point of “enough”. The filling I experienced was one of desperation. I felt hollow emotionally. Like the tin man I cried out for a new heart; one that hadn’t been battered, and bruised. A heart that didn’t feel non-existent. I turned to food for comfort, and an empty stomach for relief. I found myself in a destructive cycle I could not get out of. At one point I made a dangerous adjustment to my diet by mostly having foods filled with fiber. I would give myself “cheat” moments, but then even that could become extreme as I might use that one cup of frozen yogurt as my only meal for the day. I give you these details because I want you to sense the frantic rationalization going through my brain. Like a car speeding on the freeway in the middle of the night my thoughts zoomed, racing, excusing the behavior that could destroy me.

If food was that good, and my cravings wouldn’t subside, then why did I always find it necessary to empty out? Why was I looking for the comfort of feeling light, and nothingness in my body? Because the fullness I was experiencing was not what I needed. Spiritually in that time of my life I found myself pulling further and further away from God. I was ashamed of the fact that I once had a closeness with God and still chose sin over Him. I knew right from wrong. I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to me saying “Don’t do that,” or “Don’t go there,” or “Just stay with me. I love you.” Instead of drawing closer I stepped away. Pride had me believe that what I needed were tangible things (people, possessions, etc.) to fill the emptiness. Not wanting to be a hypocrite I went to church less and less. If I did attend I rarely paid attention. There weren’t any worship songs in heavy rotation on my playlist, and the bible wasn’t a book I liked to read. Like a star lost in the night sky, I found myself pulling closer to a black hole, knowing that on the other side was a darkness I did not want to experience. I couldn’t help myself. Nor did I think I deserved anything better.

Piecing together what was happening in that time of my life I realize that I was missing the fear of the Lord. He was like the size of an ant, and I was holding a magnifying glass toward Him to see Him. There was no reverential awe toward Him. I didn’t understand how the creator of everything could fill me up to a filling that would cause me to never hunger those things again. I didn’t care to know how His filling was passionate and not desperate. I found comfort in the emptiness and thought I couldn’t be fixed.

Proverbs 19:23a says: ‘The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction.’

With humility I had to set myself in a place to be able to see God clearly. In order to face my problems I had to first recognize the one who kept speaking to me over and over even when I walked away. There were moments I asked myself “do you want to live?” Sometimes the answer wasn’t clear. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t living, but I didn’t want to die either.

There were many other issues going on in my life at that time. And like a shattered glass on the tile floor I found myself lying in the middle of the bathroom floor too broken to get up. As I cried and cried all I remember saying is “God I really need you now, and if you get me through this one day and show me that it’s possible to keep living then I will try.” Little by little I gave Him more and more, and He didn’t force me beyond my comfort… at first.   

In times of feeling lost, God brought me to a place of direction. In times of angst, He brought me to a place of peace. When I was feeling empty, He would touch my heart and bring me comfort. That comfort was something I could experience on a Sunday worship experience, but rarely sought on my own.

A few years ago I heard a pastor once say that Sunday should be like the encore to your week. ‘For many of us we walk in church depleted, and empty, waiting for God to fill us. When what should really be happening is an experience of Him unlike any other. We should want His glory every day of the week, and Sunday should be the added bonus.’ From that moment I started noticing how dissatisfied I was. I kept going to church for a quick fix, but I hadn’t learned how to have a sustainable diet of Him.

Since that moment though I felt a stronger push from Him. A nudging past the elementary comfort I placed myself in. I was no longer in control. Yes, I still had free will, and choices to make. But if I wanted what He was offering to me I had to willingly give up anything that was displeasing to Him. I had to recognize his lordship over my life. I had to be willing to say “God you know what’s best.”

Did I always smile through it? No, not always. Sometimes I would cry gripping tight when I should let go. Were my paths always straight and easy? Not. at. All. There was plenty of twisting and winding as I went left when I should have gone right. Still, He never let me go. He showed me who He was. He showed me His majesty, His heart, His love for me, and the magnitude of who He really is.

In the current season of my life I have been challenged in the area of relationships, and have battled loneliness. This is a big deal for me because loneliness causes compulsive behaviors to bubble up. In the middle of this “lonely” season I spent a week on a ranch without contact to the outside world. My access to any technology was very limited, and all of my activities were Christ centered. If the concept of this doesn’t already sound challenging to you, imagine how I felt when I found out an old friend died on the first day I was there. Leaving in uncertainty I decided to return the following Monday for a second week. That was when I was struck hard with an overwhelming feeling of being alone. As I walked a dirt path I admitted I was tired, and what I really needed was a friend. I looked out with tears in my eyes and I said “Holy Spirit I need a friend right now. I can’t do this alone anymore. I need you to come and be my friend.” As  I stretched my arms out a wind brushed past my face, and I felt Him take my hand. For me that feeling is the fullness of Him. That even in my most uncertain moments, the ones that cause me to feel alone, and desire a hollow habit, He brings me life and peace.

The fear of the Lord leads to life because He takes away all that pains me. The fear of the Lord leads to life because I am amazed by Him and His desire for me. I can abide in satisfaction because my fear of Him isn’t conjured up by some anxious feeling over His judgement of me. I abide in satisfaction because my fear of Him is a reflection of how overwhelming His love truly is for me.

Am I Enough?

11 Apr 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written By Kelly Elders 

I read a quote the other day that read, “If you aren’t being treated with love and respect, check your price tag. Maybe you’ve marked yourself down. It’s you who tells people what you’re worth. Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables.”

Wow, I can look back and see how many times have I lowered my own price by my actions. Every time I fought back with hurtful words, every time I said I couldn’t accomplish something and didn’t, every time fear kept me from forming relationships, I was showing how I felt about myself. I had to make a decision to stop allowing my inadequacies or insecurities to keep me from doing what I love to do. I chose to learn and keep learning even if it’s slower or different than others.

KNOW YOUR VALUE

We need to know our value. You will protect what you value. We will do our best to protect our children because we value them. We go to great lengths to protect jewelry, important papers, memorabilia but when it comes to ourselves we tend to leave ourselves unprotected. Maybe we lower the price because we see all the imperfections. Like when you find a shirt at a store and it has an imperfection and they mark it down to sell the item. Our value doesn’t lessen because of our imperfections it increases because Christ paid the ultimate price in spite of our imperfections.

Do you daydream or wish you could do something challenging but don’t feel you have the skills, personality, education or support? First, take responsibility for your own pursuit of purpose. It was assigned to you and no one else. God gave you a specially designed purpose that He also equipped you to do. God wants to give you more than you can possibly think, dream or imagine.

Vulnerable= VALUE

Put yourself out there

Don’t avoid people just because you are afraid of being hurt. If
you understand the placement and purpose of people in your life you won’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Each person in your life falls into one of these four groups the majority of the time. Those you add, subtract, divide or multiply. If you have a subtracter make sure you have more people in your life who add and multiply or you will definitely be in the red, and by red I mean frustrated, empty and angry. You can learn from all group types but avoid Dividers at all cost. Even the hardest person can help develop the best character in you. Everyone near you has the potential to hurt you but rest in knowing that God is your Protector and your rear guard. So instead of putting all your faith into people, put your faith into God. You can only learn forgiveness if you have a reason to forgive.

Don’t be afraid to learn if it gets you closer to your purpose

We may not know all the answers on our way to our dream but God aligns us with people who are already doing what we long to do or know how to get there. Be humble enough to ask for help and be open to learn new things. Being vulnerable increases your value because you aren’t afraid to try and try again.

Allow yourself to fail but not quit. There’s not a successful person who didn’t experience failure. The difference is they chose to keep going.

No Markdowns

When you know your value, you will not allow others to mistreat you. It’s you who teaches others how to treat you. Don’t allow anyone to steal your time, joy or peace. You are too valuable to waste time trying to please others.

I can’t tell you how many women settle for men and friends who don’t value them. Just because someone doesn’t know your worth doesn’t mean you have no worth.

I had a half dollar rolling around in my purse and tried to pay using it until the clerk at a store wouldn’t take it and told me it was worth more than face value. I found out it was worth around $200. When I had it at the bottom of my purse it was still worth $200 even though I didn’t recognize or treat it according to it’s value. How people treat you doesn’t determine your
worth but how you respond shows your self worth. Once you treat yourself well others will follow.

No Price Tags

Don’t look to others to determine your worth. Don’t wait for validation from a spouse, leader, pastor, children or friends. Take back the power of value. You don’t need approval every time you volunteer, teach or accomplish a task. You know if it’s overlooked by people it’s seen by God and He will reward you openly. We all like to feel appreciated and should be, but being overlooked or unappreciated doesn’t mean your worth becomes less. We will never please everyone but we can please God by walking in faith and knowing that He has made us capable of accomplishing great things for Him and He sees ALL!

Value Has Benefits

You can pull great things towards you when you know your value and believe that you can experience blessings based on God’s goodness and not your own. You shouldn’t feel guilty when you succeed. You were created to succeed! He commissioned you to be fruitful and multiply so be productive today in all you do.

You are ENOUGH to live out your purpose
You are ENOUGH to accomplish the impossible
You are ENOUGH to have great things happen to and for you

Read More from Kelly Elders at her blog.

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