Who’s Your Boss?

MRI registration form

Saturday, I woke up dreading the MRI I would be having later in the day. I’ve noticed that every time I have a problem lately, doctors want an MRI. I don’t like closed in places, so going into that MRI tube is one of my least favorite things. I have to take something to relax, put a washcloth over my eyes, and have Christian music playing in the earphones they put on you. And pray a lot and have many people praying.

So hubby and I showed up for my appointment at what was a new hospital to us. I’d usually had tests done through the other hospital in town. I walked up to the registration desk and the receptionist said, “Oh yes here is your paper work right here. We just need you to fill in where highlighted and sign the form.”

Expecting to have to fill out all the usual questions, I was delighted to see most things already typed in, and I just needed to put in a cell phone number and verify my address. And then  . . . I saw it . . . I can only say I took in a deep breath and for a moment just stared at the form.

Next to “Patient’s Employer” these words were typed in caps on the form “AUTHOR/SPEAKER FOR GOD.” I hadn’t previously filled out any paperwork for this facility online, over the phone, or in person; but there it was staring back at me on the hospital form!

Several things quickly crossed my mind as I had an instant flashback of my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, and all the ways I talk about recognizing, remembering, and celebrating our amazing God. The thoughts came in this order, along with a quote from Forsaken God?

  1. I need to take a picture of this form. I never want to forget this!

“Pictures are a great way to remember the attributes of God and his goodness in performing miracles and blessed experiences.”

  1. This was a witness to whoever filled out this form! Where had they got this information? They could have so easily just put Author/Speaker, but they added “For God” and put it all in caps! How did this happen? I need to share this with everyone who asks how the MRI went.

“The God of past miracles is the same God of today’s miracles. His wondrous ways should still command our awe-inspiring respect. Look for miracles in your life and in the world around you. Remember them and tell the spectacular, miraculous stories of God’s goodness over and over!”

  1. Never think something like this is just a coincidence.

God is perpetually at work in a believer’s life, whether or not we recognize him. I firmly believe there are no coincidences, only God-incidences and divine appointments. When I hear people speak of serendipity, I kindly reply that was God, not karma or chance.”

  1. God is making me aware of His presence. He wants me to know He will be with me and comfort me in that MRI tube.

“God shows his presence in memorable ways to us too, but how well do we recognize him? We’re always in his presence, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).”

  1. You can be a bold witness for God in everything you do and say, even on a medical form!

“People say I’m bold about my faith and it surprises me that’s considered an unusual trait … because shouldn’t every Christian be bold? Our faith isn’t a secret to hide; it’s the answer to the world’s woes. Unfortunately, Christians often worry more about offending the world than offending God. Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity: “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12).”

Who would do that? Who did that? Only God knows. I always fill out forms, or when asked, my occupation: “Christian author/speaker.” When asked the name of my business: “About His Work Ministries.” And when asked who is my employer I write, “The Lord” or “God.” Somewhere in the Boise medical system, I had used these terms on previous forms and this facility arrived at SPEAKER/AUTHOR FOR GOD. I’ve never phrased it that way, but I think I will now!

The receptionist told me to carry the form with me everywhere I went that day! You can be sure I did.

A Similar Experience

In Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, I tell a similar story that happened when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. The Breast Care Center sent forms to fill out, and for occupation, I had started to write “self-employed,” but I heard the Lord nudge, “Janet, you aren’t actually self-employed. I AM your employer and Boss. After all, your ministry name is About His Work Ministries.” So I did put my employer was “The Lord.”

That form went with me everywhere during my surgery and treatment, and I had so many people letting me know they had the same “Boss” I did. It opened up so many doors of comfort and conversation, and I became best friends with the patient advocate, Grace, who said, “Interesting Employer.” I said, “Yes, is He yours too?” Grace said, “Absolutely,” and we became co-workers for Christ and breast cancer awareness.

Where Does God Want You to Acknowledge Him?

We believers who have given our lives to Christ, should recognize that being a Christian is our identity that surpasses all other life roles.

What do I hope you will take away from this blog post?

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.—Romans 1:16

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.—Philippians 1:20

On a Side Note

If you have read Forsaken God?, I would love to hear how God is using it in your life. Two women from different generations, one a young brand new believer and one a seasoned elderly Christian approached me at church this morning. I share this with you for you to know that wherever you are in your faith, I think you will find this book relevant. Also, as we read more and more about the moral chaos in our culture, you can find peace and conviction in remember the God of the past is also the God of the future.

Here is a post from Facebook today, Sunday May 15:

God truly blessed me this morning. Before church started, a young new believer who is getting baptized this month, came up to me holding Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten and told me, “I can’t put it down!” Then she stood up and told the entire church what a good book it is. I had never met her before today.
After church, a sweet elderly, seasoned Christian woman gave me a hand-written note a portion of which reads: “I have appreciated so much your book “Forsaken God?”. It is full of truth and honor for our God…it is such a sweet savor….”
Thank you Lord that the message of Forsaken God? reaches all generations and for giving me the encouragement I needed today to press on writing the next book.
Forsaken God? speaks to Christians in today’s culture … I hope you will not only read it, but apply what you read…God had me write it for such a time as this! Here’s the link to check it out if God leads you to do so…

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Would Anyone Know You’re a Christian?

Grampa Dave giving grandson, Brandon, a golf lesson!

Grampa Dave giving grandson, Brandon, a golf lesson!

“Darn it!” my husband Dave muttered after hitting his golf ball into the woods.

He was playing golf in a scramble game with a group of men he’d never met before.

“Is that all you have to say?” asked one of the men.

“Yes, that’s it,” said hubby.

Later in the game, Dave made a birdie putt that earned his team a 3rd place finish. The team captain was elated, “Somebody buy that man a beer!”

Hubby, “Thanks, I don’t drink, but a Diet Coke would be great.”

A man in the group,  “Are you LDS?”

Hubby, “No, I go to the Community Church.”

When my husband relayed these conversations to me, God put several thoughts on my mind:

  1. My husband’s actions were a great witness on the golf course.
  2. But why did they assume that because he didn’t swear or drink that he was LDS? Why didn’t they ask if he was a Christian?

Actions Speak Louder Than Our Words, or in this Case, Lack of Words

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Saved to follow ChristI’ve heard many Christians justify their actions and words by saying they can reach more people for Christ if they “fit in,” but you’ll never find that practice supported in the Bible. Instead, the Bible instructs us to put off the old way of life and put on the new. It also tells us that we’ll be in the world, but we’re not to conform or “fit in” to the world.

18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Ephesians 4:18-25

In last week’s blog post, How to Mentor in a World Forsaking God, I mentioned that corrupt tax collectors, Zacchaeus and Matthew, each invited Jesus to their home and He went. Many people like to use these two scenarios to justify their own actions in participating in worldly activities. It’s true, Jesus did receive criticism for hanging out with sinners, but He had a mission and a purpose. He didn’t go to their homes to party with them and participate in their sins and corruption … he wasn’t going to cheat people out of their money like these two men or celebrate and condone their deception with a drink and a toast.

Zacchaeus and Matthew had invited friends to their houses and Jesus had a readymade audience. He went there to tell them about the Gospel and how they could turn from their wicked ways and sins, ask for forgiveness, and become new men in Christ. He went into their world to tell them about His world–to make them His followers, not to follow them! A caveat many people miss.

 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13

The Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20, commands us to go to those who don’t know Christ, but our mission is to share Jesus with them, not hide our faith.

Daily Walk Devotional, August 4, 2015, Suggests an Enlightening Exercise:

Think back over the last seven days and count the number of people you have talked to: family members, coworkers, classmates, friends, neighbors, service people, store clerks [golfers or other sports participants]. Don’t forget those you communicated with by phone or e-mail, or over the back fence.

Now subtract the number of those who are already Christians. How many are left—5, 10, 20, or more? That represents the number of opportunities you have each week to offer hope, encouragement, and a word of witness to a lost world.

We Should Never “Fit In,” There Should be Something Different About Us!

Set  yourself apart. You weren't made to fit in. You were born to stand out!

“Set yourself apart. You weren’t made to fit in. You were born to stand out!” Jim Caviezel

Jim Caviezel is the actor who portrayed Jesus in Passion of the Christ. As I was writing this blog post, the Lord got my attention on Facebook with a picture of Jim in an article that talked about his Pro-life commitment and adopting two Chinese children with brain tumors. But as I read further, I came across a video of Pastor Dave Cooper interviewing Jim at Rock Church in San Diego. As I listened to the interview, Jim said exactly what I had already written here in this blog! In the heading above, I had used the same words he uses in saying that Christians should never “fit in.” I would encourage you to watch the entire powerful interview. Here are several quotes from Jim Caviezel, a follower of Jesus:

“We all have a choice. Freedom exits not to do what you like, but to do what you ought.”

“God doesn’t send anyone to hell; they choose hell.”

Many Christians want to be a little bit pagan to fit in. They don’t want to be Holy”.

“You have to take Jesus with you in your life every day. He’s part of you. People need to see God in you. They’ll want what you have.”

When you live in holiness, when you really try to stop sinning, you become braver. You become more courageous, you become a man of your word. You become a man of conviction that you’re not willing to sell out and you’re really a true knight in shining armour.” [From another related article]

How Do We Take Jesus with Us?

  • When others are laughing at dirty jokes, we don’t laugh and change the subject.
  • When others are cussing or taking the name of the Lord in vain, we don’t. We might respectfully say, “Hey, that’s my Father [or God or Jesus] you’re talking about there. Is He yours too?”
  • When others are getting drunk, we don’t. We sip on a nonalcoholic beverage.
  • When offered a drink, and we don’t drink, we say, “No thank you. I don’t drink, but I’d love a glass of water.”
  • When someone asks us to do something we know isn’t right, i.e. take drugs, watch a movie full of sex and bad language, cheat, hang out with the wrong crowd … we refuse and try to get them to not do it also.
  • When others accept something we don’t accept—abortion, gay marriage, couples living together—we don’t go along with the conversation, which insinuates we agree with them. We kindly let them know we’re not in agreement and why.

Silence conveys confirmation.

We don’t give in on the little things or the big things.

12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 1:12

Why Did They Ask My Husband If He Was LDS?

The short answer to that might be because we live in a heavily populated Mormon area. But the long answer is that many Christians have let the world influence them instead of them influencing the world. Christians don’t stand out from the crowd anymore. They should, but they don’t.

Christians differ with Mormons on theology, but the one thing you can’t differ with is that you don’t see Mormons drinking, swearing, or telling dirty jokes, and they make their family a priority. Maybe you’ve see some who differ from this, but I live amongst them and I haven’t seen it yet. They are kind and generous, and I don’t think they would ever be mistaken for being “worldly” or trying to “fit in.”

So what’s wrong with Christians? We know the Truth. We know that Jesus is the son of God, He went to the cross to save us from our sins, and Jesus is the ONLY way to eternal life with Him. It’s a personal decision no one can make for us, and no amount of works or being good will save us. But familiarity can lead to complacency. We’re bombarded by tolerance to sin today, even the legalization of sin by our government.

Christians can become desensitized to sin around us and in our own spiritual life.

Desensitization: a process by which a patient with allergies receives injections containing an increasing amount of the substance to which that patient is allergic. As a result, the body in time becomes accustomed to the foreign substance and is no longer irritated by it.

Because Christians rely so heavily on grace, it’s easy to become complacent and tolerant of sin in the world and in our own life, despite the apostle Paul’s warning in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

We’ve seen in the world, and even in some Christians lives and churches, sins once considered unthinkable are first tolerated, then condoned, and ultimately openly endorsed. Instead of the Christian faith influencing the world to turn from their sins and wicked ways, many Christians have let the world influence them to accept and condone some sins.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16

Those men on the golf course knew from my husband’s actions and words that he was a man of faith and they respected him. He can still play the game of golf and be in the “world,” without compromising his beliefs, faith, or conservative standards. And guess what, they still want to play golf with him; he still “fits in” the golf world even though he doesn’t swear or drink with them and they now know he’s a Christian. What a mission field he has.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Romans 12:1-3 

What ways do you see Christians trying to “fit in” with the world?

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Losing My Job for Living Out My Faith Was the Best Thing That Could Have Happened to Me!

Why call me LordDaily we hear of people fired or sued for standing up for their Christian beliefs in a culture that is no longer Christian-friendly or God-honoring. As I read about the case of the Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, fired for publishing a men’s devotional book for a Baptist church group on his own time, God reminded me of how He changed the course of my life in a similar way.

In Cochran’s book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” he addressed issues of homosexuality, gay marriage and premarital sex from a biblical perspective.

Cochran has been a firefighter since 1981 and was appointed Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008. In 2009, President Obama appointed him as U.S. fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration in Washington, D.C. In 2010, he returned to serve as Atlanta’s fire chief.

The controversy with his book began in late 2014, when gay activist groups caught wind of the literature and demanded that Cochran be dismissed. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed then acted to suspend Cochran and ordered him to undergo “sensitivity training.”

In the United States of America, Americans should not have to choose between keeping your job and living out your faith,” Cochran told The Daily Signal in an exclusive interview. “And that’s the position the city of Atlanta actually has taken—that I have to have a choice to live out my faith or to keep my job.”

Cochran’s story took me back to December 14, 1995, when something very similar happened to me.

My Unjust Demotion Was A Divine Moment

Many of you know that the Lord called me into ministry when He told me to “Feed my Sheep.” You can read more of my story on my website. At the time, I was running a successful branch of a national insurance company and had been attending Fuller Theological Seminary at night and on the weekends for a year.

I joined the insurance company in 1987, while still in my worldly, backsliding, single days, and worked my way up from an insurance agent to a Division Manager. In the summer of 1992, I rededicated my life to the Lord at a Harvest Crusade with Pastor Greg Laurie, and that December I married my godly husband Dave. My life took a radical change and I no longer participated in many of the “social” activities of the business, and I was open about my faith and my rededication to Christ.

My boss heard about me attending seminary and on December 14, 1995, he called me into his office. For some reason, I sensed I might need a witness, so I asked one of my District Managers who worked for me if he would accompany me. This gentleman and his wife were fellow Christians and we had become friends as couples.

Neither of us could have imagined what would happen next. To this day, my friend says he witnessed a “divine moment” and he has told the story many times as a testimony

My boss started the conversation by saying he’d noticed a difference in me. Something to the effect that I wasn’t “all-about-the business anymore.”

I told him my priorities had shifted to putting God first, then my family, and my job in that order, but I was still maintaining all my sales numbers and fulfilling my management responsibilities. I had a great team working for me and our sales remained high.

He responded: “In a perfect world, that might work; but in this world [he named the insurance company] must be your god and the company must come first in your life! So I’m demoting you from Division Manager and you’ll now work as an agent again out in the field under …” and he named a person leading a division an hour away from my home.

Division Manager had been a high-paying, high-profile job with lots of prestige, independence, and success. But now, it was as if Jesus was standing behind my boss’s chair asking me who I was going to serve: the company or Jesus?

Easy decision. I prayerfully resigned and launched the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, completed my Masters of Arts in Christian Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, and started About His Work Ministries, my writing and speaking ministry.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.—Matthew 6:24

I Could Have Sued

With today’s anti-God culture, I’m not sure I would have a legal case against my boss and the company, but 20 years ago I might have had one, and I had a witness who was more then ready to take an oath to all that he had witnessed.

This wasn’t the first time I’d been harassed by this same boss. While supposedly interviewing me for a training video, he first started asking questions about my sex life in front of the camera crew. When I quit the company, the camera crew came forward and said they would gladly testify to what they had witnessed.

I prayed about both situations and realized that I should thank this boss for helping me make a hard decision. When you’re comfortable and making a good living, even though you know it’s not where God wants youit often takes something like this to plummet you into doing the right thing.

The Lord reminded me that vengeance was His and that I was not to waste my time, energy, or money on a lawsuit. God would take care of it…and He did. I later heard that this boss was fired from the company over similar misuses of his position.

Using My Talents and Gifts for God

As a Division Manager in the insurance agency, I gave daily presentations to recruit new sales agents. I was often one of the top recruiters in the company, and I had been a successful agent too. I found that sales came easy to me. Over the years, I had given the same recruiting presentation so many times, I could think about other things simultaneously. So one day as I gave the rote presentation, I heard God’s voice saying to me, “What if you were as good at winning souls for me and doing something you believe in, as you are at winning recruits for a business you don’t believe in as much?”

God planted the seed, but I wasn’t ready to take such a huge risk and quit my job even though I knew I no longer belonged there. My husband and I were blending a family, we had a mortgage, car payments, lived in expensive Southern California… couldn’t I just go to seminary and then wait to see how God wanted to use me when I finished?

That would have been the safe, comfortable, easy way, but that day in my boss’s office, God was asking me pointedly, “Who will you follow … right this moment? Man or Me?”

Jesus“I Envy You!”

As I was packing up my office after I resigned, one of the other Division Managers who had recently become a Christian came over to take some of my supplies. He had a large family, lived an expensive lifestyle, and knew about our boss’s misuse of his position, but he felt trapped. He said, “I envy you. You’re getting out.”

My happy ending didn’t tie up neatly in a bow. I continued going to seminary and started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry in my home in January 1997, but in March of that year, my husband was laid off from the job that was supporting us. Still God whispered, “Where I guide, I will provide.” And He did … our lifestyle changed drastically, but the mentoring ministry was spiritually maturing and winning women for Christ. You can’t put a dollar value on that!

And today, God has taken Woman to Woman Mentoring around the world and thousands of women have experienced the blessings of growing together in Christ through resources I wrote to help churches start their own mentoring ministries.

On my website, I tell the story of how this was the time where About His Work Ministries got its name.

Choose Today Who You Will Follow—Man or The Messiah

It’s not popular today to take a stand for God in a world turning away from God’s Words and His ways. You’ll be rebuked, unfriended, called names, maybe even spit on …just like Jesus was. It would be easier to remain silent or not voice the Truth that you know in your heart. The risk might be too high you say. What if I lose my job? My friends? My standing in the community?

But what is anything worth without your integrity and the peace of knowing that you did not deny Christ in your heart, your words, or your actions. God will honor your loyalty to Him … He guarantees it.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.—Matthew 16:25-27

What if I hadn’t quit that insurance agency? What if I had fought for my just rights in the company and in court? Woman to Woman Mentoring might never have been birthed.

God had a plan, and while I didn’t know what it was at the time, I knew it would be big because He was giving me a big testimony to share. My husband and I have never looked back from that defining moment in our lives, when God so clearly asked me, “Who will you follow: man or Me?”

  • Where do you need to take a risk for God today?
  • When have you been silent and you know you need to speak up?
  • Who is watching how you live out your faith?
  • What changes do you need to make to live out your faith more boldly?

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Is Your Soul At Rest?

McCall Retreat

Our “Cabin” for Crouch Community Church Women’s Retreat

This past weekend our church had its annual women’s retreat in the beautiful setting of McCall, Idaho. We stayed in a retreat cabin on the lake and the weather was spectacular! We enjoyed early morning walks, kayaking, amazing meals out on the deck overlooking the lake, skits, karaoke, making new friends, and all the “slumber party” things we girls love to do.

But mostly we fellowshipped together, enjoyed worship time, the teaching of our speaker Phyllis Cook, and a Sunday morning devotional led by new friend, Athena Crowley. What a treat it was for me to just “be” and not have any specific role except to enjoy and refresh. I prayed that God would give me divine appointments and something to share with you today.

God is so faithful!

Divine Appointments

Have you ever prayed for divine appointments? I think God loves it when we do because He can really show up big time and He gets all the glory. I’ve written before about praying for divine appointments and how God has answered them for me in amazing ways and He didn’t disappoint this weekend:

1. The retreat speaker, Phyllis Cook, and I had never met so when we started talking she asked my name. When I said “Janet Thompson,” her face lit up in recognition, “I have one of your books.” She went on to explain that while a friend of hers from Israel was visiting, she wanted to buy Phyllis a book for her ministry at Meridian First Baptist Church where Phyllis’ husband pastors. Phyllis and her friend went to the local Christian bookstore and the friend chose my book The Team That Jesus Built and bought it for Phyllis. Phyllis and I marveled that God brought us together and we took this picture for Phyllis to send to her friend in Israel.

Phyllis Cook and me

Retreat speaker Phyllis Cook and me looking straight into the bright beautiful morning sun!

2. I felt God impressing on me to speak to a woman at the retreat, but I couldn’t find the appropriate time. The last morning, I said, God if You want me to do this You’re going to have to intervene. He did!

3. Our last meal, I sat next to a woman I had not met. We started chatting and I learned that she and her husband had just moved to Garden Valley in the summer. She heard about the retreat when they visited our church and decided to come. I invited her to our couples Bible study group and she was excited for them to join us.

4. I loved the gluten-free, honey, organic, pumpkin muffins that were on the snack table. Someone said that “Athena” made them. I had not met Athena, but as we started talking, she said, “Oh, you’re the author I was told to meet. Could I talk to you over dinner and discuss the book I’m writing?” We enjoyed a dinner of great food and “author” conversation.

Athena Crowley and me

Athena Crowley and me

 

Finding Rest for Your Soul

When I called home Friday night, hubby prayed that I would have a time of rest and refueling as I prepare for a very busy fall of speaking and writing.

In God’s perfect providence, Phyllis Cook, our retreat speaker, chose Matthew 11:28-30 as her topic for the weekend:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The first night she talked about verse 28 as God’s invitation to rest, refreshment, and peace. Ahhh just what my husband had been praying for me.

The next morning, she helped us focus on verse 29 to find inner peace from Jesus’ example of gentleness, humbleness, forgiveness, and a servant attitude.

Her last session explored the paradox of taking on a yoke to find rest! Phyllis pointed out that Jesus’ yoke of humility is far lighter than trying to bear the yoke of pride and all of its manifestations.

Phyllis had us look at the yoke of pride. Are any of these weighing you down?

  • Complaining against God
  • Lack of gratitude
  • Anger, moodiness, impatience, rudeness
  • Perfectionism
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Seeking independence or control—my way
  • Devastated by criticism
  • Defensiveness or blame-shifting
  • Not having close relationships
  • Competitiveness that always has to win or be first (I added to this to the her list)
  • Can you think of more?

Here’s how Phyllis explained Jesus’ yoke of humility. Do you see why it’s light?

  • Trusting God’s character
  • Not questioning God
  • Focus on Christ
  • Lots of prayer
  • Thankfulness
  • Willing to wait, long suffering
  • Good listener
  • Serving
  • Teachable spirit
  • Repentance, asking forgiveness
  • Close-relationships
  • Letting others win or go first (I added this to her list)
  • Can you think of more?

I was at peace all weekend and felt an incredible sense of rest in my soul and my spirit. Even when my mind wandered to all I had to do when I returned home . . . including writing this blog . . . I couldn’t conjure up a single moment of anxiety!

Arise and Go About His Work

My soul being at rest does not mean it’s time to stop speaking and writing. Contraire! It means I continue on About His Work with renewed energy and focus. Our Sunday morning devotional by Athena Crowley, the sweet woman I mentioned above who made the delicious pumpkin muffins, confirmed God’s call on my life . . . but this was not just a call to me. This was a call to every Christian!

Athena read Song of Solomon 2:10-13

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

From this passage, Athena shared that we are to arise from our “winters” of:

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Our Own Interests

Because it’s springtime in our souls! God is calling His people into into a closer relationship with Him so that we can go out and share the light of His glory to others who need more of Him in their life . . . or don’t yet know Him.

The world is full of so many who are stumbling in darkness. God calls every Christian to be His flashlight to help the lost find their way into the light of His glory. If our light is going to shine brightly, we need to refresh, renew, and refuel!

Is your soul at rest?

Can you choose humility over pride?

Are you ready to arise and be God’s flashlight?

If yes, then start praying now for those divine appointments where God will use you in a lost and lonely world.

 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

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Slow Down You Move Too Fast!

IMG_20140201_162933_202

Thought you might want to see what the garage door looks like down for a feel for the scene of the “accident”

Garage door half open

About where the garage door was when I ran into it–of course the car was not in the garage but out in the driveway.

All my life, someone has been telling me to slow down. I walk fast, talk fast, move fast, think fast, type fast . . . you name it, I do it fast. Consequently, I often run into things and usually am touting a bruise to prove it. When I had my tonsils out at five years old, the hospital was ready to turn my parents in as child-abusers because my legs were battered and bruised. My parents quickly explained that I was just an accident-prone, fast-moving kid.

I’d like to say I’ve outgrown those clumsy, fast-moving tendencies . . . but alas, I have not. Last Sunday morning, I overslept so I was rushing to get ready for church. I heard my hubby start up the car, so I grabbed my Bible and purse and flew down the stairs and into the car. Just as Dave was pulling out of the garage and telling me how nice I looked, a questioning voice came into my mind, Did you unplug the straightening iron?

Without stopping to consider if I had or not, I leaped out of the car telling my husband over my shoulder that I had to run back in the house. He just happened to be in the process of putting down the garage door . . . and the next thing I remember I was lying flat on my back in the snow looking up at the half-way down garage door above me.

I thought the door was coming down on me, so I jumped up just as my husband was getting out of the car to see if I was OK. I took inventory that nothing was broken, ran back in the house, confirmed that the straightening iron was indeed unplugged, and ran back to the car.

I asked my husband “What just happened?” He said that he was in the process of putting down the garage door and “You jumped so fast out of the car that I tried to stop the door from coming down. But before I could get it back up, you ran right into it.” That explained the extreme pain I had over my left eye. He said I lay on the ground for a while before getting up, and he was just coming to see if I was all right, when I stood up.

Fortunately, I fell back onto a soft mound of snow, which saved me from pounding the back of my head on cement and probably doing some real damage. As I walked into church that morning, I was still dazed and seeing stars. I wondered if I had a concussion and worried that I was for sure going to have a black eye and a goose egg on my forehead, since there was no time to ice it. Or I should say, I didn’t take time to ice it . . .

As I sat in church and started seeing more clearly, I began praising God that He must have laid me down gently in the snow after my forehead went full speed into the open edge of the garage door. And I thought about the fact that I knew the straightening iron was unplugged, so why did I question myself?

Deadline Attacks

I just happened to be on a book deadline and always seem to come under attack when I am writing something about strengthening marriages and family. Then I knew the source of the questioning voice—it was Satan planting doubt in my mind. And because I do everything fast, I hadn’t stopped to discern the origin of that voice. I had run right into what could have been a devastating accident. In hindsight, I saw clearly the trap I had fallen into because of my rushing.

 Hearing God's Voice

Then to confirm my enlightenment, I came across the above diagram on Facebook. Some of you might have seen it since I posted it on my timeline and explained how I had let Satan’s voice cause me to . . .

  • Obsess over the straightening iron not being unplugged, even though I knew for sure I had turned it off. So even if still plugged in, there wouldn’t have been a problem. But I also knew that I had unplugged it. I fell for the doubt trap that sly Satan set for me.
  • Worry that I might cause the house to burn down in the hour and a half we were at church.
  • Confusion about whether or not I had unplugged the straightening iron.
  • Pushed out of the car.
  • Frightened that I was going to have a concussion.
  • Rushing all morning . . . head long into an accident.

What To Do When You Hear Satan’s Voice

When I heard that doubting voice, I should have:

  • Prayed and asked Dave to wait a moment.
  • Rethought my steps of leaving the house.
  • Confirmed in my mind that I had turned off and unplugged the straightening iron, or calmly told Dave I had to go back in the house.
  • Waited for him to put the garage door back up.
  • Walked slowly back into the house.
  • Looked where I was going.

I have printed out God’s Voice/Satan’s Voice diagram, and it’s on my desk to remind me to slow down and take the time to listen carefully and know the source of the voice I am hearing. You may be wondering if you can really hear God or Satan, and the answer is absolutely. Usually, we don’t stop long enough to hear the still small voice of God because it’s drowned out by the clamoring loud voice of Satan.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

If you’ve ever felt obsessed, worried, condemned, discouraged, confused, pushed, frightened, rushed, defeated, exploited, depressed, anxious—you were listening to Satan. God doesn’t talk in that tone of voice to us.

God’s voice is calm, comforting, convicting of sin, encouraging, enlightening, guiding, reassuring, loving and “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’” (Psalm 46:10).

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2).”

After a lifetime of rushing, slowing down will not come easy for me, but I know with the help of Jesus, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NLT)

How about you? Anyone tracking with me? Please let me know how you’ve learned to slow down. There’s strength in accountability, and I need all the help I can get!

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Divine Appointments

Ashley Inn in front of tree

 

If you read last Monday’s post, it was my poem “Time to Sit with You” where I challenged all of us to take time with Jesus, the Birthday Boy! Dave and I do try to practice what I preach and when we were married 21 years ago on December 19th, we vowed to put Jesus at the center of our marriage. We also vowed that even though our anniversary would only be six days before Christmas, we would always make time to celebrate our relationship with each other and with Christ.

So even as our family expanded to eleven grandchildren, and we had an annual Birthday Party for Jesus, we’ve still taken two or three days to get away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas and focus on the blessings of our marriage and our faith. On these anniversary getaways, we spend time prayerfully focusing on our goals for the upcoming year. One year, we decided we wanted our house to look more like a grandparents’ house and we came home and started remodeling. In 2004, we decided we would like to own a writing cabin in the area where we went for our anniversary getaway—Idyllwild—and God gave us the perfect cabin.

Another year, our goal was moving from California to a place we both enjoyed. We ended up in Idaho.

There were tough years, like thirteen years ago when I started radiation for breast cancer the day before our anniversary. But right after the appointment, we headed off to Julian, California where we spent several beautiful anniversaries. The great thing about our anniversary is everywhere we go, it’s decorated beautifully for Christmas—just like our wedding reception on a boat that cruised around Newport Beach Harbor with our wedding guests.

This year, even though we had invited 24 people to dinner three days after our anniversary, we still packed up and got a way to a magical place—Ashley Inn in Cascade, ID. The pictures you see here are from this wonderful trip. We went there our first anniversary in Idaho and were so impressed with the beautiful Christmas decorations and hospitality. It’s a spectacular place to get away and enjoy each other and the season.

We talked over next year’s goals in a little coffee shop in McCall as I wrote them out on a napkin. We mainly talked about seeking God’s will for About His Work Ministries and how we could get Dave exercising in the winter.

Each year, when we take this time away together, God shows up in divine appointments. The last night, when I went down to the breakfast room to get some hot tea and the fresh baked cookies they put out at 8:00 pm, to my surprise two couples were sitting at a table enjoying the evening treat. They said, “Oh there’s the other one staying tonight,” and that’s when I learned there were just six of us in the entire huge hotel. As we chatted, I mentioned that I was a Christian author. They asked what I wrote, and I listed several of my books and then excused myself as hubby had the DVD on pause waiting for me to return with cookies.

The next morning, as we were enjoying a late breakfast graciously provided by the hotel, one of the couples came down for breakfast and the wife was carrying a Bible, just like mine. As I commented on her great reading material, she said she had been praying that God would let us meet again before we left. As we sat and chatted, she said she wanted Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, “I need that book now!” I just happened to have one in the car, and we cried and prayed for her daughter and knew that we would stay in contact. It was a divine appointment—the kind that happen so often when we let ourselves be still and not worry about the to-do lists waiting at home. We had that sweet time together with neither of us checking our watches, because we knew God had brought us together for such a time as this.

I pray that you too will stop during the next few days and just enjoy conversation and community with those that God brings into your life. Maybe it will be family you haven’t seen for a long time or those you see every day—or neighbors—or acquaintances—or strangers—who you know you’re supposed to stop and spend a moment with.

Maybe reading this post was one of those divine appoints. If so, I’m glad I got to spend it with you. Savor every day—especially the celebration of our Savior’s birth. If He had not come to earth and become flesh and blood, just like us, life would seem meaningless. But because of Jesus, ­we have hope to cope with whatever life brings us, as we await eternal life with Him.

I would love to hear about your divine appoints this Christmas. Please share a comment for others to be blessed.

Merry CHRISTmas,  Janet

 

Ashley Inn looking at each other

Breakfast room @ Ashley Inn

Breakfast room where we met the other couple

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God-Incidences at Book Signings

This past weekend I had my first book signings for Praying For Your Prodigal Daughter. What a blessing it was to be able to talk to parents who are searching for help…often so desperate. There were a few tears and lots of hugs as they shared their stories. Many commented that it was a devine appointment that brought them into the store.

I also had my previous book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer on the book table and one woman came up to me and said her mother had just brought her my book from Boston, and here we both were in a bookstore together in Orange County California and this woman lived in San Diego!

We immediately hit it off talking both as breast cancer sisters and sisters in Christ. We exchanged contact information and you will see in this blog the picture of my new friend, Christine. We were in a mall at a Barnes & Noble not even living near each other, but God orchestrated our meeting. I love those “ah ha” moments with God, don’t you? I would love to hear some of the God-incidences you have had in your life. Write and share some with us.
About His Work,
Janet
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