Monday, March 30, 2009

Handling Bad Situations

How do you react when you find yourself in the middle of a bad situation? It may be something small like the kids tracking mud into the house and onto the freshly vacuumed carpet or your bad situation may be something bigger and more life changing like a cancer diagnosis or an unwanted divorce. Actually, we have many examples of bad situations in the Bible, and we see God’s redeeming work through the process.

I’m thinking of one example found in the book of Acts. Paul and Silas were severely beaten, put into stocks and placed in the inner most dungeon of the Philippian prison, and they were there simply because they had healed a demon possessed slave girl. Now the situation seemed hopeless, but what did Paul and Silas do? How did they react to their very bad situation? I would have probably complained and sat their angry, frustrated and hopeless, but Paul and Silas started praying. And beyond that, they even started praising God!

What an example for us today. When we face a situation which seems bad or maybe even hopeless, let’s take a cue from Paul and Silas. Let’s pray and let’s praise God for who He is and what He is able to do. In Paul and Silas’ case, God sent an earthquake which shook open the prison doors and shook off the shackles on their feet. And what was even more amazing is that the jailer asked how he could be saved. Imagine that - the one who held other people as prisoners now recognized his own need to be set free from the prison of his sin. Paul answered him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

Now God may not send something as dramatic as an earthquake to rescue you, but this story reminds us of the importance of going to God and praising Him instead of panicking in our bad situation. God is a redeeming God as we see from our wonderful story today. Trust Him to redeem your situation.

I want to encourage you to write the words “Prayer” and “Praise” on index cards and put them in your kitchen as a constant reminder this week to react with prayer and praise when you face a new challenge.

Check out my new show on to see me give a presentation of this blog in person.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Joy in the Tough Times

This past week I was in Ruston, LA speaking to the wonderful women who attended the R & R conference there. It was a blessing to see many churches coming together to laugh, learn and grow as women in the body of Christ. The topic was Joy for the Journey. Here are some thoughts I shared with them.

As much as we would love for life to float along at a slow and safe pace, we all know the reality that we will experience challenges in our life. One reassurance we have as followers of Christ is that God will not leave us. We may be called to persevere through trials and be patient in tribulation, but God can still bring hope. Perhaps you have wondered, Doesn’t God want me to be happy? Surely he doesn’t want me to be miserable. The truth is our hearts long for a lovely and happy life. We long for heaven. The Bible doesn’t promise us perfect circumstances here on earth, but it does offer us the opportunity to experience peace and joy as we find our source of strength in God.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in the book of Nehemiah. God’s people had just returned to the Jerusalem and had gathered together to hear the reading of the book of the law of God. As they stood there listening to God’s words, they began weeping. Their hearts moved toward repentance as they opened their hearts to God. Nehemiah encouraged them, “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Notice he didn’t say, “When you are strong then you will have joy.” No, it’s the other way around the joy of the Lord is our strength through the ups and downs of life.

As we turn our hearts toward the Lord, His joy can strengthen our hearts. It is not a joy brought on by our circumstances or by people; it is a deeper delight that comes from the Lord. Jesus said, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”14 Certainly God wants us to experience an overflowing joy; a joy which comes from abiding in him and walking in his ways. Life may not always be happy, but the joy of the Lord can be our strength.

One of the fruits of God’s spirit within us is joy. God is a God of joy and He delights in you. I want to encourage you to seek His joy in your life today. Ask Him to increase the joy in your heart as you thank Him for all He has done for you. May His joy be your strength this week!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Diamonds and St. Patrick's Day

Many of you know that I was a Math and Science teacher before I became a writer (which goes to show you that God can do a mighty, transforming work in any of our lives). In my science classroom we did all sorts of experiments. We grew mold in a Petri dish, made rock candy, planted seeds, made weather instruments. Yes, we created all sorts of fun things through our simple experiments and Petri dishes. Now if I were going to create a diamond in a Petri dish, I couldn’t do it. Granted, diamonds are simply crystals made of pure carbon, but they won’t form in the nice pleasant environment of a little Petri dish. Diamonds are formed under the intense heat and immense pressure - only then do we find the most magnificent of gems.

As much as we would like for our lives to be as lovely, comfortable and controlled as life in a Petri dish, most of life doesn’t work out that way. Unexpected circumstances and difficult people can create a certain amount of pressure and heat in our lives. Yet our faith, endurance and strength of character can grow stronger through the challenges in life, much more than in the easy times. Certainly we don’t want to invite difficulties into our life, but when they come we must recognize that God can use them in our lives to form us into beautiful diamonds shining brightly for His glory.

This week we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The interesting thing about Saint Patrick is that he did not have a pleasant, easy life. The fact is when he was sixteen years old he was captured by Irish raiders and taken from his native Wales as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the church, he later returned to Ireland as a missionary, spreading the gospel message throughout the land. God used Patrick’s captivity to prepare him to bring the gospel back to the people of Ireland one day in a powerful way.

How can God use your difficult circumstances? You may not be able to see it yet, but good can come from intense heat and immense pressure. Just think of the diamond and remember the words of the apostle Paul who said, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” II Corinthians 4:17 As you celebrate St. Patrick’s day this week, teach your children about the powerful impact Patrick had on the Irish people as he brought the gospel message. Be sure to also tell your kids that Patrick went through great difficulties which perfectly prepared him for his purpose in life.

Be sure to check out my new book which has many positive stories about thriving through difficulties. Thrive, Don't Simply Survive - Passionately Live the Life you Didn't Plan is now in a bookstore near you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


My new book entitled, Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive, just hit the book shelves this week! The message is timely as many of us are living the life we didn’t plan. This book is about facing the disappointments in life and living victoriously through them rather than barely making it by. There is hope in each challenge we face in life. We can grow to be stronger more compassionate people through the struggles, or we can become bitter and dejected as people. Within our difficulties we can see our need for God more clearly, our faith is strengthened, and we learn about God’s love and care for us.

If you live in the Dallas area, come visit me at one of my booksignings: March 13 at the Barnes and Nobles on Northwest Hwy (7 – 9pm), March 14 Holy Grounds in Grapevine (2 – 4pm) or March 22 Dallas Convention Center at the Christian Book Expo (2:00 booksigning, 4:00 talk). I’d love to meet you there.

Now for a lesson learned from Mexico. This past week I traveled to Puebla, Mexico to speak and encourage the women there who are studying my books in Spanish. It was a blessing and a privilege to share the gospel message, inspire women’s groups and bring encouragement to church leaders. The women there are even starting a Sonshine Girls group called “Chicas Brillantes” based on the Positive Teen book. I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to visit these wonderful women who truly live with the joy of the Lord.

Would you take some time to pray with your family today about the ministry work that is going on in Mexico right now. Please pray for the wonderful Campus Crusade workers Chris and Eddie Dubon as they lovingly reach out and serve the people of Puebla. Pray for open doors and new opportunities to share the gospel. Pray for their strength and for their financial support. They are doing God’s work there in a faithful and powerful way.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:2 – 5)

Let’s be faithful this week to pray for our friends in Mexico. May God shine His light brightly through their work.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pine Cove Weekend

This past weekend I led the Women’s Retreat at Pine Cove camp in east Texas. Pine Cove is a glorious and beautiful place with a dedicated, servant-hearted staff. It is always a joy for me to go there because it brings back a flood of wonderful memories of when I spent a summer there as a camp counselor back in 1981. It was at Pine Cove that the Lord stretched me, grew me and matured me through serving others and learning God’s word in a deeper and more practical way. I encourage you to check out this camp for your kids or for your entire family (Family camp program) for the coming summer -
- God uses this marvelous encampment to change lives!

Here’s some lesson learned from my weekend at Pine Cove:

As God’s chosen people we are holy and dearly loved.
We all need to retreat, spending time alone in God’s beautiful creation.
Recognize that every person is a treasure, created by God.
Go on a treasure hunt to find the gems in others.
Horseback riding can teach us a lot about how God deals with us, gently guiding us and leading us.
Give women chocolate and karaoke and watch the crazy fun talent emerge.
Let the peace of God rule in your heart.
God’s word is our sure foundation. Let it dwell in you richly.
Be thankful always, even in the midst of anxiety.
Songs of praise can take you from fear to faith.
Set your heart’s focus on things above.

Finally – to all the delightful women who were there this weekend – it was great to meet you and get to know you. I truly enjoyed the blessing of visiting with you. And yes, Pine Cove Staff that goes for you too!