Category Archives: Successful Living

Untapped Potential

By Cindy Grasso

People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.”

- St. Augustine

[dropcap] W [/dropcap]e just don’t see things the way Jesus does, least of all, ourselves.

My favorite miracle that Jesus performed was his very first one. It is when he changed water into wine. I love it because it is story of untapped potential:

“Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.  Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”  They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (John 2:6-11 NIV84)

He chose six stone jars made to be used for ceremonial washing that were sitting along the wall. The wedding was over, the reception had begun and these six stone jars had been passed by countless times that day.  They had been set side, empty and unused.

We often think that these three things are a sign that God doesn’t want to use us:

• set aside
• empty
• unused

And yet it is exactly what qualified them to be used for Jesus’ first miracle.

This is for every girl who feels that she has been passed by. For every woman who has served faithfully, quietly and fearfully.  For everyone who has poured out their lives for others and now wonders, “What am I good for?”, “Does God want to use me?”

The answer is a resounding yes! There is more for you. There is untapped potential  within you and it is just waiting for the Master himself to say the word. He might use you in ways you never thought of, doing things you didn’t know you could do, but nonetheless, He desires to use you.

I love those six jars and the picture they present. They are vessels of a miracle and all they had to be was there, empty and available. These are three things I can do!

To be a vessel of a miracle, you have to:

• be there (where Jesus is).
• be empty (I always feel empty).
• be available (for whatever).

Jesus instructed the servants to fill each jar up to the brim with water. He never even touched the jars or the water they were filled with. My friend, miracles don’t happen because of a magic touch but because of a heart of faith. I think one of the reasons why  Jesus never did the same thing twice, in healing people or performing a miracle, was to help us see that divine intervention does not impact earth’s natural laws because of a method or a formula, but because faith expressed in love.

Jesus told the servants what to do –  I love that he used servants to perform this miracle. I believe God longs for more than just to “perform” for us, He delights in partnering with humanity and using mere servants to do the amazing, mind blowing, incredible things that literally change our world.

Jesus turned plain ordinary water into the very richest wine, aged to perfection and with a depth of flavor that only comes with time and expertise.  Yet, he needed neither time or expertise to do it. Do you think that God can’t use you because it is too late or you don’t have enough education? All God really needs are vessels that are empty and servants who follow directions.

• Untapped potential comes in plain packages and is executed by stepping out in ordinary obedience.

It didn’t seem miraculous to fill the jars with water- who would have thought the water would be turned to wine? Jesus did. There are a lot of things you can do that don’t seem like anything special on their own, but “with God”, ordinary moments become extraordinary testimonies of God’s grace and glory.

• Untapped potential means, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

God isn’t limited by our traditions, wisdom or time tables. In fact, I think God likes to challenge the “norms” that have been dictated by limited resources and limited mindsets : “But you have saved the best till now.” Just when you think God can’t do a thing with you, He can fill you up to the brim with fresh living water then pour you out to bless others as fine wine.

• Untapped potential brings glory to God and causes others to put their faith in Christ.

This life ain’t no American Idol or talent show to see how great you can do something. When God uses your availability to do a miracle, all the glory goes to God.  When he takes your mess and makes a message, all the glory goes to God. When it is obvious that the power or talent or ability isn’t yours but God working through you- all the glory goes to God.

We worry what other people will think of us, so we hold back and yet, if God uses us in something so far bigger than who we are or what we can do on our own- that is when God gets all glory! That is when people put their faith in Jesus, which is where it belongs. I am but a vessel to be filled up and then poured out. Availability is so much more important than ability. So, stop worrying about all you don’t have and start asking God to use whatever you do have.

To gain access to the untapped potential of your life:

1. Be where Jesus is – you will find him with the hurting, the needy, the broken, the sick, the lonely and the lost.

2. Be empty – of your pride, fear, doubts, expectations.

3. Be available – to be used for whatever He desires. Are you limiting God because what he is asking you to do is too small, too ordinary or just out of your comfort zone? Lift your limitations.

4. Be obedient – don’t despise the simple things, for in them hide the true treasures of life and the blessing of being used by a miracle working God.

I love to hear from you and am delighted with every comment. Thank you for taking this time and discovering the keys of allowing God access to your untapped potential!

Basking in His Brilliance,

Cindy

Fed Up With Mediocrity

By Cindy Grasso
Until you get fed up with mediocrity, you will never step up into excellence or even reach for it. It takes energy, determination and perseverance to go after a brilliant life. It is the life God has called you to. It is the life God has provided for you though the shed blood of Christ- He paid for it. But you must walk in it. You must take it and apply it to your life.

There are moments in the New Testament when I get the feeling that Jesus was fed up with the mediocre life that God’s children were living. When he moved from private to public life, he proclaimed the “God’s kingdom is at hand” (Mark 1:15) he was in essence saying – reach out and take it! Repent- turn around from the life you have been living and start moving toward the life God has made to you to live.

Here is a one such moment from Matt 8:21-25:

Another follower said, “Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father’s funeral to take care of.” 

Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.” 

Then he got in the boat, his disciples with him. 

The next thing they knew, they were in a severe storm. Waves were crashing into the boat-and he was sound asleep! They roused him, pleading, “Master, save us! We’re going down!” (Matthew 8:21-25 MSG)
Then…

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Are you waiting to live? Waiting to pursue God’s call on your 
life? Are you putting it off because you have too many things to do right now? Jesus is not encouraging us to abandon our responsibility to our family but he is challenging our excuses. When the follower asked Jesus if he could be ” excused” from following Jesus, he was actually asking to go live in his father’s house and take care of him until he died for an indefinite period of time, definitely more than “a couple of days”. Jesus called him out on it. He  knew that a couple of days really meant “I will follow you when I’m done following me and done with what I think I should be doing”.

Jesus refused- he will not agree with mediocrity, he will not tell you, “Yes, go ahead and waste your time, energy, and creativity waiting.” No. He says, “There is more for you. Stop focusing on death and start chasing after life, my life, my power, my grace! Follow Me.”

One of my dearest friends, Deb Killian, is an amazing woman who loves God passionately. I have known here for over 15 years and in that time I have walked with her through triumphs and tragedies. One of the hardest times in her life was when her first husband passed away from cancer. I will never forget the morning I got the call that her husband had died. My heart broke for my friend and I rushed right over so could wrap my arms around her. Those were dark days for my friend. She loved her husband do much and I watched my friend push through those days of grief walking hand-in- hand with God. After Deb’s husband died, there were times she felt like she had died too. Who was she now? What were God’s plans for her now? But she was not dead, she was alive and God had a plan for her- a call that stayed clear for over twenty years and did not diminish when her whole life dramatically changed.  As long as I had known Deb, she has had a call to go to Africa and bring God’s love to it. She dreamed about it, prayed about it and for years the possibility of it looked well, impossible. In those first few years after her husband’s death,  God began to stir within her the truth that now was the time to go after the business of life – the purpose He had for her. What a glorious purpose it is! As He developed her heart and vision for Africa, He also brought new love into her life through her second husband Roy. Together, they head up “Eden’s Song Ministry” (link:  http://edenssong.org ). Their ministry supports missionaries in Africa by providing resources for them such as refurbished iPods, medical supplies, goats and uniforms so the children can go to school, along with many other things. They also go to Africa once or twice a year to lead a team and minister to the people there.  Deb describes her journey from grief to Africa in her book “Eden’s Song – A Women’s Cry” (link:http://edenssong.org/index.php?s=ms&nid=37705&grpid=8314&grpDetails=true ). I highly recommend it for anyone who has recently lost someone or is feeling lost themselves as to what God wants them to do. I love this picture of her in the middle of the African children. It reminds that He who begins a good work is faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6).
It is time to get busy living!

Jesus said: First things first. Priorities are key to walking in victory.  If you aim at nothing- you will hit it every time. How easy it is to let the small things distract us from the important things. Keep first things first and you will be able to do more than you ever thought you could.  It is important to know what your priorities are. Knowing that helps you make wise decisions in every other area of your life.

What is the 1 priority according to Jesus? Follow God- pursue life.  In other words, stop following others, the world or even yourself. Follow God-His word, His way, His guidance, His plan. When you do that, a brilliant life follows.

Your business is life, not death- we are in a world that is dying, and plagued with sin’s rotting stench. We see it in our relationships, feel it in our bodies and have it thrown in our face every day. But our business- that which we are to live ” like it’s our job” is to pursue life. Go after it! Chase it- pursue it like it was that boy you had a crush on in Jr. High but are not hindered by shyness and self- consciousness. Think about it, dream about it, follow it around, find out what it is doing and plan to be where it is – LIFE!

I want you to realize that right after Jesus said “Pursue life!”,  he got in a boat and faced death. It isn’t going to be easy, in fact, you go after God’s LIFE and purpose you have upped the anti and it will seem get harder. The storm will ramp up to the point where you think, “I can’t do this- I’m going down.” The Bible says it was a severe storm. Not a small one but the type of storm that does damage and threatens lives. Yet, Jesus slept. Why? I think because he already knew this storm wasn’t going to kill them. It was just a part of his journey.

The disciples followed Jesus right into that boat -they followed Jesus right into the storm. Can I tell you, that is the right place to be. You are going to encounter storms in your life. There was a storm on the shore that night too. I would rather be in the boat with Jesus than on the shore without him. I would rather get in the boat and follow Him than let doubt and fear keep me on the shore of mediocrity. 

No one is telling you that it will be easy, least of all God. But He does tell you that it is vital and possible. You were made to live a brilliant life hand- in -hand with God.  

What is stopping you?

• What is your #1 excuse?
• Make a list of your priorities. 
• Ask God to give you His list.  Rewrite your list.
• Don’t worry about the storm you are in – it is not going to kill you and it is just a part of your journey. Read the rest of story in Matthew 8 (Jesus spoke to the storm and it ceased!)
• Get fed up with mediocrity and go after the call of God on your life like it was your job!

I love to hear from you and hear what God is doing in your life. Please don’t be shy, I appreciated every comment.

Live Brilliantly Today™

Cindy Grasso


Spirituality vs Christianity

By Jenene Stafford

As I’ve been researching some of the Buddhist types of teaching, I admit it is quite fascinating. I find it interesting that research shows two different schools of thought. One being that you can practice the teaching of Buddha without actually being a Buddhist.

It is the same with Christianity. A person can practice the religious philosophies of Christianity without being an authentic Christian.

A rather analytical kind of religious intelligence has for centuries been elevated by western culture, above spirituality. This form of religious intelligence is responsible for many tragedies that still continue around the world.

It leads me to the spiritual realization that there are many Christians who practice Christianity from a religious standpoint, but yet don’t know God.

At some level as a spirit-filled Christian it’s a little embarrassing to recognize that a key reason people follow a Buddhist or otherwise lifestyle is because of the “spiritual” elements of their metaphorical practices and yet . . .

Here we are, Christians, and many of us don’t take advantage of the deep and rich spiritual gifts God promises us. Much of the world follows non-religious, yet spiritual practices. Seems strange to me!

This leads me to another thought.

Eastern Philosophy vs. Western Religion

Believe it or not, there are MANY SIMILARITIES amongst Spirit-filled Christians and people who practice eastern metaphorical and spiritual practices. Which brings me to wonder, how many Buddhists have a misunderstanding of what the Ancient Biblical spiritual practices really are.

So fascinating to see the ‘box’ Christians have been put into, via our own religious and political choices historically made. We also have Christian Apologetics for all of the religious wrongs so much of the church has been responsible for.

At least one thing that is missing is the fact that, without question, much of the ministry of the early church through the apostles was to demolish the idea of “religious practice” in order that people would “spiritually” connect to their divine purpose, walk in their Spiritual gifts and connect through meditation and prayer, the Spirit of God.

Christians in the early church experienced moments of enlightenment. It was occurring daily in the form of spiritual mysteries revealed. In fact, it was not due to a political agenda that people chose Christ, but rather because his light was so bright that people were drawn to him and his miracles. Another point of view is that people were so drawn to the light of Christ that they risked and gave up everything to follow him. People have been searching true enlightenment since time began.

Consider that true enlightenment is being connected to God in a way where He is in us and we are in Him. It is void of concepts, words and doctrines. It is in fact the most authentic spiritual state of being, where we cease to exist so that God can exist fully in us and is evident in our actions. Below you will see where Paul spoke of wisdom and deep spiritual things.

I Corinthians 2: 6-16

(6) When I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world, or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten.

(7) No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God – his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for glory before the world began.

(8) But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.

(9) That is what the Scriptures means when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

(10) But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searched out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.

(11) No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.

(12) And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

(13) When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.

(14) But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all seems foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

(15) Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.

(16) For “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ Jesus.

We have seen that the choice to follow atheism is partly out of a reaction to the confines of the world-view of Christianity which is extremely skewed, as it pertains to religion. Non-Christians and Christians alike, in large part, don’t recognize the biggest secret of all. That is, to be a follower of Jesus is distinctly different than being a subscriber to Christianity as a religious philosophy. I profoundly believe that freedom comes through accessing the spiritual realm of life, as it relates to Jesus as the embodiment of wisdom, not religion.

I Corinthians 1:30

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy and he freed us from sin.

The way I look at it, we don’t have to wait to experience spirituality and wisdom. We are now free to come into the presence of God as was the intention for the Jews, separate from endless requirements. Consider, like many Jews, religious Christians are still not accessing God, and have an invisible barrier keeping them from experiencing God spiritually. The blinding barrier worldwide is the religion of Christianity.

The Bible spoke often of the choice to walk in the flesh or walk in the spirit. Clearly Jesus taught that following the path of the flesh led to destruction.

Consider hell as a place where we are void of our spirituality as it is connected to a Good God. Hell then becomes a concept human beings can stomach without looking through the lenses of Western religion and a tainted religious past. In my reality as a very spiritual follower of Jesus, hell is a place where the purification to holiness becomes a process that is never-ending and the holy and unholy do not exist together.

If our flesh or humanity is contrary to the holiness of God, because of it’s very limiting nature, as it pertains to accessing God, then it makes practical sense, from that perspective, that it would be necessary to work around our humanness by humbling our flesh (ignoring our cravings for purity’s sake) and submitting to the authority of the Spirit.

To delve deeper into this I must almost seemingly contradict myself for the sake of this teaching. Spirituality in fact is contrary to our human nature and practical at the same time. We must look at this practically, because where you may be right now is likely looking through the lenses of practicality. How profound that we must walk the path from humanity to practicality to spirituality and finally reach God through this process.

If you can’t see the value in a practical approach to spirituality you may never know what Jesus meant when he said, “Many people pleaded Lord! Lord! I did your will and performed miracles in your name so why won’t you let me into heaven? Then he said, “It is because you didn’t do the will of my Father. I never knew you.”

Matthew 7: 21
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

You could read the scripture above and you may have a bad taste for Christianity or you’re feeling uncomfortable because it could be confronting for you personally. Setting that to the side, I think the more important thing to see is, Jesus says, “I never knew you.” If God does not know us, it is because we did not allow him to know us. God gives us free will to walk in the light (know him spiritually) or remain in the darkness (live limited by our humanity).

John 3: 18-21

(18) There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s own Son.

(19) And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil (against God).

(20) All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

(21) But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

True spirituality is being righteous because God’s own Spirit longs for righteousness (not to be confused with self-righteousness), not because of the law. One motive comes from a religious moral motive and the other comes from our love for God. God in his infinite wisdom knows the motive our heart.

To complete this topic: We must know God. When we know God, we will listen and know the path to an abundant spiritual path. Religion is not the means to knowing God. However a brilliant and fulfilling spiritual life can be found through Jesus.

So, if you’re a spiritual person looking for a spiritual experience and don’t believe it exists in the Christian Church, please don’t give up on us. Things are changing in the world and many people are finding a spiritual solution to fill their spiritual needs in the Christian Church.

But, I would say, do your due diligence to ask around and find a Church that offers a profound spiritual experience, not a religious one. Spirituality is catching on, however slow and unenlightened we have been. God is love and he is showing up.

Live Brilliantly Today!™

Jenene

Growing Through Life’s Challenges

By Suni Bradford

Most of us, believers and non-believers, tend to go to God for help when painful issues such as marital, lost children, financial issues arise.  Our fears that stem from not knowing how to handle these pains can sometimes put us into a numb, frozen state.  We go searching for relief, peace and direction.  We desperately need some help and may feel the need for others input when there seems to be no immediate answers from our Loving Counselor.  If we are a non-believer this can be very lonely and non productive.

There are two directions we can choose. One being, God’s will in our lives and the other being self will. By trusting God at and through His word, we can feel the relief of knowing that He does have our best interest at heart.  His word tells us over and over that He is in control.  He has a perfect plan for us.

Jeremiah 1:5  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

We see such a small glimpse of our lives and in our humanness cannot see as He sees.  The full picture is far more then we can ever imagine.  We have so many scriptures to got to for peace.

Romans 8:18 “Consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  More is always revealed.

Jeremiah 29:11 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.

Romans 8:28 tells us, we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

Secondly, we can operate in self-will.  The need for instant answers can easily bring us more discomfort, anxiety and perhaps guilt for hasty decisions made or actions taken.  By rushing to make these decisions because we feel guilt from someone else or lose of control is not a healthy emotional state. The result on our mental and physical wounds can show up in many forms such as isolation and illness.  By looking to God for clarity in our motives we can take responsibility for our part and leave the rest to what it is.  Keeping in mind that the only people we can control is ourselves.  If financial hardship is the challenge and we are making efforts to change our circumstances, faith is our lifesaver.

A prayer that I rely upon is the serenity prayer.  “God grant me serenity to accept the things cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”. This is a simple rule but can be a challenge to live by.

Many challenges will come our way through our life, the Word tells us this and yet we continue to be taken back when they hit. As we learn to go to God in all things, the good, the bad and the ugly, we can begin to understand His amazing love for us.  He wants to be our all.  We were designed that way.  We can choose to take advantage of the free gift.  By practicing waiting on the Lord we can have a completely different view of these growing pains.  We can grow to have more Christ like characteristics.  In turn helping us to handle future challenges with more grace and perhaps helping another to do the same.

We sometimes think that God should deliver an immediate answer for tough decisions that we need to make.  Especially when we are doing the right things, like prayer, meditation, time in the word and Godly counsel.  His answer may simply be “be still and wait”.

I can picture Jesus sitting waiting for His hurt children to come sit on His lap and be soothed.  As so many of us have done with our earthly parents, for example; when scuffing a knee or being bullied.  He feels our hurts.

Live Brilliantly Today™

End Procrastination: God Is Waiting

By Jenene Stafford

Sorry Ladies if this blog is a little painful, but somebody has to do it and when I raised my hand and said, “I’m in I’ll do it God“, I didn’t say, “but, only if it’s easy“. Any worthwhile life purpose requires all of us to get out of our comfort zones.

I pray we’re all powerfully convicted into consistent positive action.

Here’s why this is tough. Because you and I both know that women are so tapped out, so it can seem like pouring salt into a wound to talk about this subject. But, transformation isn’t always comfortable.

Consider that you’re choosing to be a victim to busyness and distraction and you can un-choose being a victim. Basically, what you’re saying to God is “I don’t have time for you God.

The overwhelm that you feel, which causes us to procrastinate on developing our relationship with God, can only go away if YOU can be personally responsible for it. If you refuse to take responsibility for it, you are putting wheels in motion that position you to be at the beck and call of circumstance, thus the never-ending cycle of an unfulfilled life continues.

Here’s what it looks like, choosing circumstance over time with God.

It’s a yucky predicament because our hearts want to know God and perhaps our spirit does too, but our mind can win out very easily. This is why we must renew our minds and subject our minds to the Spirit of God, not our own spirit. Otherwise, “As a man thinketh so is he.”

Our mind will fail us if we don’t walk in the Spirit of God. You must call on the Spirit of God. This is really hard to do at first because we’re human and we’re not wired to call on God until we’re in a big mess. Then all of a sudden, God help us, we’re begging God to relieve us.

Sometimes, he does and sometimes I imagine he’s just saying to himself, “When’s this girl going to learn?”

You have access to OVERCOMING EVERYTHING if you would just give God the time of day. How can you expect to grow in powerful spiritual ways if you have little knowledge of God’s ways.

Do you want to cultivate great things for yourself, your family, your business, your community, your church, your world? Then get to know the Cultivator of Great Things.

Don’t think for a second that you don’t have accessible to you power over your circumstances and a promise of a divine purpose and an abundant fulfilling life.  I promise as time goes on, God will prove himself faithful if you will partner with him. He will empower your life if you will give him the best of you and not the leftovers.

My God doesn’t lie! I stand on his promises and we have the power to overcome every kind of enemy, even the ones that we create totally on our own. Oh God, if we would just turn to you and turn from our heart which grieves us and lies to us.  It tells us we’re unloveable, broken-beyond repair, worthless, disrespected, ugly, fat, selfish, unable to forgive, unable to heal, not special, not beautiful, not really a daughter of God. Liar Liar Liar!!!

The truth shall set you free.

I need you. I want you. I choose you GOD. Make me a better woman.

Live Brilliantly Today!™

Jenene

 

Bold Steps of Faith

By Cindy Grasso

It is time for insecurities to go. For doubt and fears to fly away and be replaced by a confidence that comes straight from the throne of God.

“God is not offended by your biggest or boldest prayers.”- Mark Batterson from his new book, The Circle Maker.

Last night a friend of ours crashed on our couch last night on his way up to Redding, Ca. I didn’t see him but for a minute early this morning, but my husband got to talk with him and catch up. He told my husband the story of his journey from Las Vegas to Nepal. James’ heart beats stronger on foreign soil than it does on his native soil and has a strong call to missions.

Here’s the story:

Before he went to Nepal, he felt God wanted him to make right some mistakes he had made in Vegas- unpaid perfect parking tickets, an unresolved car accident, etc. So he walked into the police station and asked them to bring up all the records and see what he needed to to. Turns out that the amount came to about $8000. James went about getting any job he could, anywhere he could. From one odd job to another, James found himself in South Carolina and working as a painter. He found a good group of Christian men to work with and made $800 on the completion of the job. He thought to himself,” I am finally getting somewhere and will make a dent in the debt!” He went to church in South Carolina on the next Sunday thanking God for it. During the service, James felt the Lord impress him to give all the money to the Pastor’s son- all $800. So, he did it. For James, it was the widows mite – all he had. He gave it that day. On Monday, he received a call from from the government. “Oh no,” he thought, “more trouble.”  But the call was regarding a claim he had put in six years earlier for a pension his father had earned. His father had passed away and James was dealing with the estate. He filed the claim but nothing had come of it. Now they were calling to say, yes, it had come through: over a hundred thousand dollars to be split between the six siblings. James got $25,000. He paid off his debts and used the money to make his way to Nepal to share God’s love with the people there.

This isn’t a story about money, it is a story about God’s currency: faith. In God’s economy money is metal and paper, the real currency if life is faith. It is a reminder that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.  I don’t know about you, but I forget that God can do a whole lot more with what I have than I can. He works in multiplication while I inch along in addition.  Hearing my husband pass along this story reminded me that walking in faith is never easy but always worth it. He can do  “more than we could ask or imagine.”

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20, 21 NIV)

I think the enemy wants to keep us held captive in small thinking and small faith. He feeds our insecurity and doubts to keep us from moving forward.

It is time to shake off our insecurities. To step out in faith and confidence to live your life in joy and freedom. The freedom to live the adventurous plan God has for you.

1.  The negative thoughts will come- take them captive.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)

2. The attack on your attitude will happen- up your worship and gratitude.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

3.  Your sight (what you see around you) will be challenging, up your faith threshold – purposely focusing upward and God’s perspective.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV84)

Live Brilliantly Today™

Healthy Living and Spirituality

By Suni Bradford

This probably sounds like a strange concept but I have noticed the link between treating myself well and my connection with God.

In the past I would treat myself in the areas of food, which meant indulging in any and every yummy thing I wanted or by getting that extra hour or two to sleep rather than exercising and reading my Bible, thinking that I was enjoying life. My idea of “treating myself” was actually doing the opposite, inflicting harm to myself.  After taking a good look at my habits, I now see how destructive they were.   In looking at the effects they can have on our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being, I’ve got a new outlook on living a clearer more satisfying life.

Spiritual well being

The emptiness we feel and try to fill with everything else in life can be replaced by peace and contentment through intimacy with Christ.  We may not even know what is eating us, but we know something is missing.   By remembering when I hear myself saying these things, either out loud or in my head, that the source of these lies are the enemy.  God has a much better plan. Jeremiah 9:11 “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”.

Mental well being

The constant stream of negative thoughts, such as I can’t stop eating my ice cream, oh, I could never lose weight, I’ve never been one to keep up on any of my resolutions or goals.  This is one of the enemy’s best tools for keeping us sidetracked and in pain. If he can keep us thinking we cannot change, he has done his job in destructing our self-esteem and self worth as well as distracting us from our relationship with God.  By remembering our value.  Genesis 1:26-27 tells us, “Our value comes from the fact that we are wonderfully made in the image of God”. One of my favorite reminders is Matthew 10:30

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Wow…. That pretty much clears it up”.  He loves us.

Emotional well being

By identifying our feelings we can learn to control our urges that we are attempting to mask. Emotions can trigger cravings as we feel that they comfort us.  As we develop a closer relationship with our loving God we are able to achieve more balance in the tough times as well as the good times. 1 John 2:16-17 “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever”.

Physical well being

The damage we can do to our health by over eating and not moderating our eating of things that are unhealthy for our bodies such as high fat foods, imitation/ processed foods, a diet high in sugar as well as yo- yo dieting.  Some of the effects may be headaches, irritability, fatigue, feeling like we are in fog all the time or worse yet, the stress on our hearts, arteries etc. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 “ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body”.  This also says to me the importance of exercise.  Keeping our bodies strong and mobile is beneficial now and as we age.

The energy boost resulting from the increased intake of oxygen, the building of muscles as well as the mental clarity is worth the lost sleep.  The confidence, a result of the discipline we develop, can help us to put out a positive energy to the people around us.  They’ll wonder what got into you.  Perhaps creating friendships and opportunity to share the love of Christ with them.

Accountability can be extremely helpful in the area of goal setting and encouragement.  I encourage you to not do as I did in the beginning of my transitioning to a healthier life.  I picked a pal that we would both say heck with exercise this morning, lets go have breakfast. However, we did work our biceps, right…

In believing that our lives can be more rewarding in all areas when the clutters of our previous patterns are cleared of negative aspects. Be renewed by Christ’s healing and forgiveness.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I pray this article will encourage the desire to change from unhealthy patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving into peace, joy and a newfound confidence that God has a plan for us to prosper in every area of this great life.

“I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Now, go share the love.

Live Brilliantly Today™

 

Abundant Life

By Cindy Grasso

There is more to life than a mundane existence. More to life than a half hearted push to the deep breathing, joy fulfilling, purposeful life you crave.

Yes, it takes guts.
Yes, it takes risk.
And yes….you are made for it.

You are made to live an abundant life.
Not a half life,
Not an almost life,
But an abundant life.

This the word Jesus used to describe the kind of life he came to provide in John 10:10:

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. ” (NKJV)

The Greek word used here for abundance is perissos. It carries in it the sense of beyond as in beyond what you can think or dream. Just the very first definition of perissos, floors me:

1) exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
a) over and above, more than is necessary, superadded

What’s the number you have set as a goal?
What is your measure of success?
Where do you rank in the world?
What do you need?

Goals are good, important and needed. It is also good, important and needed to know that God has something beyond all of those things. He is not limited by numbers, measures, ranks or needs. In fact he has come to give you life beyond them. He has a plan that far exceeds them.

God wants to lead you into a life that is living in a realm that is over and above just “the good life”. Leading you past what is just necessary and into what is extraordinary.

Jesus didn’t say, “I have come they might have an easy life and one easier than easy.”  No, he does not say that it will be easy, he says it will be brilliant.

Jesus also issues a warning in this verse. He warns that there is a thief out to sabotage your journey, to tempt you in a silky voice to quit, stop, to cease and desist. To convince you that you need to take your destiny into your own hands and do something with it. Leave the fold, get out of the cage, do it yourself. This is the voice of the thief, a professional liar who only wants your destruction. To steal your destiny, kill your potential.

In this wonderful verse, Jesus describes himself as a shepherd- The Good Shepherd. A provider who knows his sheep, takes care of them, guards them, and is ready to lay down his life for them. In the context of this kind of love and loyalty, Jesus says “I have come so you can have life and can have it more abundantly.”

There is more life for you. More life in your body. More life in your marriage, more life in your business, more life in your life. Abundant life.

This power packed word is the same one used in Ephesians 3:20-

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (NKJV)

I love how the Message version translates it:

“God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (MSG)

How do you walk in your abundant life?
• Let go of your limits.
• Listen to the voice of your Shepherd.
• Follow his lead.
• Trust and obey him, one step at a time.
• Repeat daily.

Live Brilliantly Today™