Life Choices


dsc_0096Every day we each have hundreds of choices to make. Some minor decisions we make without much thought. What will I wear or eat? Where should I park my car? The blue plastic cup or glass?

Other choices affect us in bigger ways.

Should I spend the extra money for a new phone? Are we going out to eat—Chick-fil-A or Ruth Chris Steakhouse? Vacation this year? Put the kids in private school?

Then there are those choices that are life changing.

Go out with my married co-worker and not tell my spouse? File my taxes? Take another drink or those pills? Click on that site? Tithe? Lie? Cheat? Steal? Forgive? Give or take?

The choices we make determine the life we live.

One minor decision may not alter our entire life. Whether I wear jeans or shorts may make me more, or less comfortable depending on the weather, but otherwise will probably not lead to anything life altering.

However, for example, a small lie makes way for another and another until I begin to live in a pattern of exaggeration or avoidance or blaming which opens a door for more lies to cover my actions, get my own way, or secure something for myself. Eventually, lying can become a lifestyle of stealing, gossip, cheating, hiding secret addictions, or living a secret life.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing. I can easily say I’ve never killed anyone. But have I murdered someone with my thoughts of anger? And those murderous thoughts can lead to internal conversations that may erupt in speaking or yelling rudely to the guy who cut me off or the gal who didn’t get my order right. And eventually, harboring enough of them may come out in hitting that accompanies the yelling when my spouse says something I don’t agree with, or my child is annoying, or the dog pees on the carpet.

Let’s be real.

The truth is, God created us to live a blessed life in relationship with him. He gave us everything good and longs to lead us in prosperous ways. Despite man’s choice to defy him and usher sin into the world, God still had a plan to save us from ourselves and our destructive behavior.

We’re all prone to it.

Don’t pretend you wouldn’t rather have a Krispy Kreme donut than a kale tonic. (That may be an easy choice for some. I personally love kale tonic, but when I came downstairs at 3:30 a.m. and saw the box of Krispy Kreme donuts my youngest son left on the counter with a note saying Happy Mother’s Day on them, I could have easily eaten the entire half dozen. Not that a one-time splurge will alter the entire course of my blessed life, or maybe that IS part of my blessed life—but you get the idea. Enough. Said. Where is that box?)

See how easily we can digress?

Fill in the blank with your own diversion into less than positive behavior that leads to eventual destruction. Be honest. We all have those areas of wrong choices. Or, put another way, sin.

There. I said it.

The word we don’t want to acknowledge because there’s something about saying (or writing) SIN that makes us cringe and feel shame.

What if SIN means:

  • Sudden Impulsive Nature
  • Selfish Immaturity Naturally
  • Sometimes Indignant Narcissism
  • Slothful Ignorant Negativity
  • Self Interest Negotiations

God is perfect. He created us to be also. We are made in his image. Anything else is sin.

And we get to choose. Be like him or not.

If we choose to be like him—loving, kind, gentle, patient, humble, joyful, peace-loving, good, trusting, wanting the best for others, giving, hoping, persevering, faithful, and self-controlled—then we will live well.

If not, we’ll live in destructive patterns that will hurt us and others.

The bad news is that none of us can be perfect like God no matter how we try. (Thanks Adam and Eve.) Even if we do good things most of the time, none of us are righteous. And we can’t count on us doing something good enough to make us have a relationship with our perfect heavenly Father.

The good news? God planned for that.

He sent Jesus.

He says he doesn’t take pleasure in the death of anyone. He doesn’t want any of us to die as a result of our sin, so he sacrificed his son, Jesus, to take all our sin on him so we could have a new way of living and be covered even if we still made mistakes. Through Jesus we can have a new heart, a new spirit, a new life. That’s why we say, “born again.”

He wants us to live. Live well. Live abundantly. Live in freedom and peace. Live in love.

If we turn away from the choices we’ve made that bring destruction (repent), we can live.

God wants us to live.

Today, will we choose to live?

 Rid yourself of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”  Ezekiel 18:32

Contentment or Settling?


I’ve always struggled with settling.

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But I believe God is teaching me that being content doesn’t mean settling.

God is the God of more.

He takes us from glory to glory and tells us Jesus came to give us an abundant life.He says he wants to prosper us and provide for us according to all the riches in Christ Jesus.

 
 
Not just in our finances, although his word makes it clear that he desires that for us, but in every area of life he wants us to be rich.
 
In relationship, creativity, passion, love, kindness, goodness, peace and joy – all of the fullness of who he is, he wants to bestow on us.
 
And yet, we settle.
 
We think that good enough is good. That mediocre will suffice. There couldn’t possibly more, could there? Isn’t that what it means to be content?
 
I don’t think so.
 
In the Bible, Paul tells us he learned to be content in all circumstances. He wrote that from a prison cell after being beaten. But he had also been rich in his day as well. He said he knew both and could settle into each one with contentment knowing that in each situation, God had more.
 
As I consider the meaning of contentment, I think of God creating the world and saying “it is good” at the end of each day even when he wasn’t finished yet. He was still building something, but was able to lay it down each day with a sense of rest and peace knowing more was to come.
 
Can I do that? I believe that describes contentment.
 
Lord help me to live in a place of contentment today. And each day.

Dream Big


IMG_3840Big dreams start with small steps.

I believe big things are coming in this new year. God has already done miracles in my marriage, family and business, and I believe he’s calling us to trust him for even more than we can hope for or imagine. (Eph. 3:20)

We have to think bigger.

Recently, in reading the passage in the Bible about Joshua and Caleb being sent with ten other men to scope out the promised land (Numbers 13), I was struck by a few things:

  1. God made a big promise – his plans were far greater than his people imagined.
  2. The land God was giving them was flowing with good things – abundance is God’s plan and promise for us.
  3. There were giants, obstacles and adversaries within the land God promised – it wouldn’t be easy, and they would have to fight for it.
  4. Only 2 of the 12 came back believing God’s promise, the other 10 chose fear instead and spread fear among their people
  5. The people had to step forward to move into the land. Just one step started the movement.

What does that have to do with me?

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8) God’s promises may look different, but he is the same God able to speak what is relevant to us and make them come to fruition.

So, today, what is God whispering to your heart that he wants to do for you? Something bigger than what you think is possible?

Restoring a relationship? Starting a new business? Writing a book? Adopting a child? Overcoming an addiction?

Let’s ask God what his big dreams are for us. Let’s believe what he says – he’s the God of abundance and greatness. Let’s be willing to fight for what God promises – he will equip us and lead us to fight. Let’s speak  truth and hold onto God rather than giving way to fear. We may feel fear, but we don’t have to live in it and let it control us. Let’s be careful not to spread fear. We CAN dream big and see God deliver.

What are your big dreams? What is your first step towards it?

This is a message I received this past week from a reader. When I started writing books, it was a big dream that has taken years, tears and fighting to attain the promise, but God is faithful!
“Hi Laura,
I wanted to reach out and tell you that I just finished your book Dangerous Ground. I LOVED it so much. I read it in 3 days and never wanted to put it down. I especially loved all of the faith, and trust in God aspects you so wonderfully incorporated. It really helped me see many ways of looking for Christ in every situation. Such an amazing read. The trafficking awareness there is so important and I admire all that you did with this. I look forward to more of your books!” A.H.