As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Do you have any “irons” in your life who can help sharpen & encourage you?

Without someone standing beside us, coaching us, it’s easy to lose track of what’s really important in our life. When the odds are against you, encouragement provides hope, and hope can become your greatest strength. 

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

The Bible instructs us to encourage one another to overcome trials and tribulations and to build each other up. We are all given gifts to use for God’s glory, but on our own, we may never reach our potential or find our purposes. We have a wonderful opportunity to encourage everyone we meet. In fact, encouragement is becoming the new norm in today’s society. For example, managers have learned that gentle guidance and encouragement yield much higher productivity than harsh criticism and heavy consequences. In using positivity and encouragement, managers can promote efficiency, improve morale, and inspire loyalty. 

Encouraging one another in faith is similar. When we choose to lift each other up and focus on building strengths, we can all benefit from the results. 

Strive to be the kind of friend that helps others become more like Christ by: 

Positivity: Framing everything you say in a positive light can be as effective as effusive compliments. Focus on trying to lift people up when you speak with them. 

Proactivity: If you notice someone struggling, offer to help instead of ignoring the situation. Encouragement can be felt as much as it can be heard, and an act of assistance can go a long way.

Prayer: Have you ever had someone offer to pray with you or for you during a difficult time? The encouragement that comes from prayer can be powerful and encouraging for people you know as well as strangers who come into your life.

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

Let the rain fall

In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Matthew 5:45

As the rain falls on the just and unjust. God pours out His blessings on all of us. However, it is up to us to get out from underneath our self-righteous shelter and to step out into the rain. We have to let the rain fall on us in order to be changed. God wants to heal you, provide for you, protect you and guide you. Let go of the comfort of your shelter and let the blessings of God pour down on your life. 

The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. Deuteronomy 28:12

What season are you in? They all have the potential for rain. Jesus is our Source. He will be our supply. He will send the rain. God is faithful. Jesus is enough. Every good and perfect gift is poised on the edge of Heaven and you are on the verge of breakthrough. You just need a little rain!

Only one root

You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong. Romans 11:24 

This is an important reminder on a number of levels. We seem to want to endlessly divide over all kinds of things; political, social, economic, religious views, etc. There seem to be as many ways of dividing the body as there are people. Paul reminds us that though there may be many different branches, there is only one root!

We share a common heritage with every person who puts his or her trust in Jesus Christ. These people are our brothers and sisters whether they are Gentile or Jew, Catholic or Protestant, Black or White, American or Russian, Chinese, Indian, or anything else. We have a common heritage that runs through Christ and goes all the way back to Abraham.

There is only one people of God. When we come to Christ our nationalities are no longer significant. The only thing that matters is that we belong to Jesus!

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans 12:4-5

Blossoms in bloom 

The sun is shining, the skies are blue & the blossoms are in full bloom. With my cup of freshly brewed coffee in hand I step out into the dewy grass where my feet sink deep into the ground. With wet feet and bright sun shining in my eyes, I am reminded that behind every storm there is hope for a new day. I notice the flowers around me that weathered the heavy rains of last night’s storm and see how vibrant and radiant their colors shine in the light of the day. 

“The rains will clear, the sun will shine again and through the midst of the weather the flower flourishes.”

Maybe you are living through a storm today where the rains haven’t let up in your life for longer than you care to remember. Maybe you have been caught by a sudden, raging storm that’s showing no signs of letting up.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23

Watch for the sun to shine again, even if only for a fleeting moment. Pause and bask in its warmth. Enjoy the brightness of it’s light. Hold onto hope and remember God is there with you in the storm, even when the skies seem dark.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

And just as the flower adapts to the sun and rain that you too will flourish through each season of life!

Like a Lion

We are to have lion-like characteristics; boldness, strength, diligence, leadership, and determination. Breathe in courage and exhale fear like a lion! It’s only when we stop fearing failure that we can fully seize opportunity by the mane.

“A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.” Vernon Howard

Be Bold, Strong and Courageous

Proverbs 30:29-30 There are three things that walk with stately stride—no, four that strut about: the lion, king of animals, who won’t turn aside for anything. 

2 Samuel 1:22-23 The bow of Jonathan was powerful, and the sword of Saul did its mighty work. They shed the blood of their enemies and pierced the bodies of mighty heroes. How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan! They were together in life and in death. They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.

Isaiah 31:4 But this is what the Lord has told me: “When a strong young lion stands growling over a sheep it has killed, it is not frightened by the shouts and noise of a whole crowd of shepherds. In the same way, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will come down and fight on Mount Zion.

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.

Are you willing? 

Does something in your life seem out of control? If so, it is time to let God handle it. Whether it is an emotional upset, a mental block, a physical challenge, or a relationship problem, the solution for each is the same:

Let Go! Let God handle it all!

Begin the process of healing now by taking this idea deep into your heart: I know that by myself I can do nothing, but with God all things are possible. I am willing to let go and let God handle it all. 

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26

God’s infinite wisdom is available to you right now. God’s guidance and direction are at hand this very moment to lift you out right wherever you are. There is no old habit of anxiety, no old bondage to feelings of loss or doubt that can stand against God’s love for you.

As you begin to let go of trying to control challenges and force things to happen, remember that this does not mean that you are a failure or taking the back seat. Rather, it means that you are courageously facing challenges with a new awareness of God’s presence and power that is within you. It means that you are beginning to accept that you can handle whatever confronts you because of the solid foundation of God’s spirit within you. 

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Begin now to let go and let God handle it all. In doing so, you are making room within your heart for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to come into in your life to renew your mind, body and spirit. God knows your past, knows your future and he knows all you have experienced and he longs to help you receive the very best for your life by giving you the peace that comes with relinquishing control to the one who has full control!

You can’t keep doing you

Life always has its twists and turns and ups and downs but one thing that is always consistent and never failing is God’s endless grace for us! He loves us when we turn our backs and run the other way, hide in a closet, think hateful and destructive thoughts, and when we feel like the world is against us. It is so easy to think that you are the victim, that you are not good enough, that you are unworthy of forgiveness, and that your sins could never be forgiven. But let me tell you this, you can’t keep “doing you” and expect for life to treat you right. God designed us to NEED Him and to DEPEND on Him! 

In order to experience the fruits of the spirit you must love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind. Matthew 22:37 

It is simple, just put God first and you will feel the Holy Spirit produce these kinds of fruit in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 

Isn’t this what life’s about: Finding love, experiencing peace, practicing patience, giving kindness, seeking goodness, rejoicing in faithfulness, exercising gentleness and pursuing self-control? I encourage you to take this journey with me. Search your soul, get rid of the junk, be in-tune with what God is doing in your life, and let the fruits of the spirit shine through you for all to see!

Weekend in Nashville

I celebrated my 25th birthday in this talented Southern city on Tennessee’s Cumberland River! This is a vacation spot that’s a beautiful hybrid of metropolis and American heartland. Even if you think you don’t like country music, this soulful city will sway you with its attractions, amazing food, and a nightlife scene filled with stellar live performances.

My top 10 spots & must do’s in Nashville: 

1. Eat Bonuts & biscuits at Biscuit Love 

2. Take the Backstage tour at Opryland

3. Shop at Two Old Hippies 

4. Eat traditional Italian pizza at Joey’s House of Pizza 

5. Walk the Pedestrian Bridge 

6. Eat donuts at the original Five Daughters Bakery 

7. Shop & sip on sweet tea at Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James 

8. Experience Cashville culture by walking around downtown 

9. Take a bite of Prince’s Hot Chicken because it is too hot to eat the whole piece LOL 

10. Take a picture in front of the What Lifts You mural & remember that life is short so spread your wings & fly! 

God is love – Happy Valentine’s Day! 

One of our greatest needs as human beings is to be loved. We all need love. We need to know that we are important to somebody, that somebody truly cares about us, wants us, and accepts us unconditionally. When we doubt that we are loved, we may develop unacceptable behavior patterns to compensate for it.

For example, we may act irresponsibly in a desperate attempt to get attention. Attention is a poor substitute for love but it seems better than nothing at all. We may develop physical symptoms that bring us sympathy and concern. The symptoms cause us genuine pain, but the pain of sickness is more bearable than the pain of admitting that nobody cares. We may angrily lash out at those whom we think should care or we may try to run away from them and hide, but in either case, we are trying to protect ourselves from the hurt they are causing us by their lack of concern. We all need to know that somebody loves us.

The good news from God’s Word is that somebody does. To know Him is to find release from the crippling effects of feeling unloved. Twice the Apostle John categorically stated that God is love (1 John 4:8,16). Love is one of the warmest words in the English language, and that God is love is one of the most sublime, uplifting, and reassuring truths known to mankind. Love is His nature. It is not merely a friendly attitude He projects. It is the essence of His being. He is always going to act toward us in love because He cannot do otherwise. Love is the way He is.

Look for evidences of God’s love for you all throughout the day, and remind yourself often that you are the object of His endless love.

Be intentional and tell others today that God loves them too! 

What are you looking for most in life?

An extensive survey conducted in the United States asked people of various ages and occupations, asking, “What are you looking for most in life?” When the results were compiled, the analysts were surprised. Most expected those who were polled to say they wanted to achieve certain materialistic goals. But the top three things that people wanted in life were love, joy, and peace—in that order.

Galatians 5:22 tells us the fruits of the Spirit include love, joy, and peace. The very things people are looking for today can be found in a relationship with God.