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Janice Thompson

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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson

 

Thursday
Oct102013

Don't Let Worry Steal Your Joy!

Kathy Collard Miller is a women's conference speaker and author of 49 books. Her newest book encourages women to trust God more and worry less.

“Worry often isn't considered detrimental, just something that takes up time,” Kathy says, “but worry not only steals our joy in God, it can have destructive influence in our soul, spirit, and body.”

I can understand Kathy's comment. I've seen worry cause women to react negatively toward those they love and even get depressed.

Kathy continues …

In our relationships, there are three things worry can't do and three things we can do.

1. Worry can't communicate love. Some women think that if they tell a loved one they are worried about them, that will express love. But it actually communicates you think your loved one is incapable of making good decisions and that God isn't powerful enough to give help.

Instead, we can upgrade our relationships by clearly expressing love through words of confidence in that loved one (even if they aren't perfect) and trust in God's power to guide and help. Say, “I'm praying for you and I love you. I know the Lord will guide you.”

2. Worry can't control others. You may think, “If only he would....” or “If only she will just...” their circumstances will change. We even try to control them through our prayers, telling God how to work in their lives, believing He should work in them a certain way.

Instead, we can upgrade our relationships by praying for God's will in their lives. Believe it or not, what you think is the absolutely best thing for someone might not be! Only God can see the total picture and know what's best for them and will bring Him glory.

3. Worry can't change others. We think our worry will cause a change in a person's character or increase their faith in God. As a result, we are compelled to argue, cajole, quote Scripture—even manipulate—to force a change in their perspective.

Instead, we can upgrade our relationships by listening instead of worrying. Asking questions and truly hearing their heart has more influence than worry trying to force a change.

As you think of those three blocks and the three upgrades, which upgrade do you want to work on?

GIVEAWAY: Make a comment today here (or on the Upgrade Facebook page) about which "worry upgrade" you'll work on, and your name will be entered into a drawing for Kathy's new book, Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries: Finding Peace in All Kinds of Weather after it is released. (Drawing: October 15.)

Kathy Collard Miller has spoken in 30 states and seven foreign countries. She has 49 published books including Women of the Bible: Smart Guide to the Bible (Thomas Nelson) and she blogs regularly. Kathy lives in Southern California with Larry, her husband of 43 years, and is a mom and grandma. Kathy and Larry often speak together at marriage events and retreats.

Photo: Red umbrella Image courtesy of stockimages

Tuesday
Oct082013

'Financial Language' - Are You a 'Thinker'?

In her first post about Financial Language, Janice Thompson, wrote about the woman whose "financial language" is expressed as The Driver. This post describes the woman whose financial language is "The Thinker."

"The Thinker's goal is to understand her financial situation," Janice said.

That makes sense to me. If we don't understand our financial situation, how will we move forward? We can't even apply wisdom principles until we "get" where we are regarding our bills, debts and investments. The Thinker takes time for critical study before making decisions.

Janice continues ...

To illustrate this point - William A. Ward wrote, "Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give."

Consider the biblical story of Esther. When called upon to make hard choices, Esther made them based upon the character she developed growing up. She was willing to suffer the consequences that came as a result of the decisions she was making.

This young woman was wise beyond her years as she sought the counsel of her cousin Mordecai.

She was willing to be used by God and knew how to ask good questions and analyze potential options and outcomes without reacting impulsively.

God was working in Esther for His time and His tasks. God had raised Esther from an orphan to royalty "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). She fasted, prayed and waited until the time was right to reveal her petition. God delighted to work through her step of faith.

Does this sound like you? Friends or family would probably never describe you as impulsive. Like Esther, you like to ask a lot of good questions. (I guess I would too, if my future and that of my people was at stake!)

You like to have all the facts laid out before you so you can thoroughly examine and analyze your decisions.

Since you are not naturally inclined to make impulsive decisions, you may need some accountability or motivation to ensure you act on the best possible directives with what you know.

A word of caution: to try to know absolutely everything about every dynamic might become a frustrating pursuit of endless detours, so ask well thought-out questions, analyze the data you collect, and take appropriate time to review your solutions.

Then make decisions that move you forward with your goals while allowing you the flexibility to edit the plans as more information becomes available.

The Bible encourages us, "Grow a wise heart - you'll do yourself a favor; keep a clear head - you'll find a good life" (Proverbs 19:8, The Message).

Are you a financial "Thinker"? Where do you go - who do you consult - for your financial decisions?

Janice Thompson is the founder and president of Strategic Financial Solutions, Inc., a comprehensive wealth management firm focused on biblically-based financial solutions. Janice is a Certified Financial Planner®, Certified Life Stewardship Advisor™, and serves on the Board of Directors of Kingdom Advisors. She has two married children with one grandchild on the way. She and her husband Tom live in San Diego.

Note: Material adapted from the book, Managing Your Money Maze by Janice Thompson (Revive Our Hearts, 2009).

Photo in text: Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Thursday
Oct032013

Forgiveness Is a Personal Choice

Renee Fisher's book about forgiveness encourages us to look at forgiveness from many angles, but this focus is my personal favorite.

"The only person you have control over is yourself." Fisher writes. "The only attitude you can control is your own."

Sometimes that's tough. We hurt and wish we could make others understand. But the issue is, God wants to change our hearts.

Fisher continues . . .

We can’t control what other people do, how they act, or what they feel. We can only make choices for ourselves.

For instance, Paul knew his story was less than perfect.

Before his conversion, he persecuted Christians! But he didn’t let the sins of the past stop him from becoming a mighty Christ-follower. He received the title of apostle because he wasn’t afraid to truly let God transform him. He gave his weaknesses to God and became a new man. The former enemy of Christians became one of the most influential leaders of the early church.

For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me - and not without results (1 Corinthians 15:9-10, NLT).

When we beat ourselves over the head about our shortcomings, mistakes, and even what we assume to be failures, remember all those imperfect people who made it into the “Hall of Faith.” Remember those who have gone before us.

  • Peter denied Jesus three times.
  • Abraham slept with his servant.
  • Paul persecuted Christians.
  • Jonah ran away from God’s call.

You’ve made mistakes.

So have I.

But we can move forward.

Christ can transform you and me - just like He transformed Paul.

Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Don’t be a fool, caught forever in the trap of the same old mistakes.

You might be weak. You might be humble. But with the power of God within you, you can choose a new life.

Just look what happened to those Bible characters.

  • Peter became the rock on which Christ build his church.
  • Abraham became the father of many nations.
  • Paul became a great missionary and wrote many of the New Testament epistles.
  • Jonah went to Nineveh and helped save the city from destruction.

What’s the similarity between these men? They all had a choice, and they chose obedience.

Remember, the only person you have control over is yourself.

Sometimes God uses sin to force us to start over. Sometimes our sufferings have nothing to do with you and everything to do with others’ actions.

Ask God to help you forgive those around you who may have hurt you without realizing it. Ask God for the same measure of grace to use on yourself for being less than perfect.

God cares about you.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

God loves you because He created you and there is no one else like you.

Don’t waste his grace today.

Do you think it’s possible to forgive someone who doesn’t ask for your forgiveness back? Why or why not?

(Adapted from Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me, © 2013 Harvest House Publishers.)

Renee Fisher, the Devotional Diva®, is the spirited speaker and author of four books including Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me. A graduate of Biola University, Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. Learn more about Renee at DevotionalDiva.com and ForgivingMe.com.     

Tuesday
Oct012013

How to Get Rid of a 'Little g' God

Paula Hendricks is an amazing young woman with a heart for God. She recently wrote the book Confessions of a Boy Crazy Girl, and one chapter in particular caught my attention.

In the midst of stressing to singles how a guy can be an idol, she wrote about “little g” gods in general that become idols, versus pursuing the “big G”—God Himself.

“I’m not the only one tempted to turn back to my idols,” Paula wrote. “Over and over in the Old Testament, God’s people crushed their idols only to remake them and go right back to them.”

Paula’s insights about idol-making make me question why I sometimes allow idols to linger,  unsmashed, in my own life.

She continues …

Turns out, crushing idols and turning to God isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime experience but a moment-by-moment journey. That’s why, nearly every morning, I pray Psalm 90:14: Satisfy [me] in the morning with your unfailing love, that [I] may rejoice and be glad all [my] days.

Thomas Chalmers was a pastor in nineteenth-century Scotland, and his sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” captured my heart immediately.

The gist of it is that you can’t talk yourself out of loving someone or something. Your emotions simply won’t cooperate. But you can find someone or something even more lovely to delight in.

I experienced this principle firsthand the month my doctor put me on a strict diet without sugar, bread, and lots of other yummy foods. It sounded like torture, pure and simple. I honestly didn’t know how I’d survive. I was certain I’d spend the entire month dreaming about and drooling over iced sugar cookies, Nerds, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

But an astonishing thing happened. I didn’t even miss my beloved sugar. You know why? Instead of snacking on raw broccoli all month (yuck!), I went to the health-food store, researched interesting recipes, and spent hours in the kitchen preparing unique dishes.

Was it a lot of work? You’d better believe it. But was it even tastier than processed, refined sugar? Absolutely.

That, my friend, is how you get rid of an idol—by investing your time in relishing something (or Someone!) better.

It’s what Psalm 34:8 tells us to do: Taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man [and girl] who takes refuge in him!

As you pursue Christ with everything in you—as you put extra effort into tasting and seeing His goodness—you’ll find that your “little g” gods don’t appeal to you like they once did.

What can you start to do today to pursue Jesus with everything in you so that your “little g” gods start to lose their appeal?

Paula Hendricks graduated from the Moody Bible Institute in 2005 with a degree in Print Communication. Two weeks later, she began working at Revive Our Hearts, where she currently serves as Writing and Editorial Manager. Her first book is Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl. When Paula isn’t blogging, you’ll find her hanging out with people, indulging her insatiable curiosity by asking lots of questions.

 

Thursday
Sep262013

Is God Still Good When ...

Kathy Howard is a Bible study writer extraordinaire—I love her studies—but in this UPGRADE post, Kathy tackles a tough topic.

“I often hear other Christians say, “God is good!” she writes. “I heard it when the life of a sick child was spared. And when a biopsy returned benign. And when a job in jeopardy was saved. And when a rebellious teen turned back to God.

“But what about when the child dies or it comes back ‘cancer’ or the job is lost or the teenager never returns? Is God good then?” 

I’m so glad Kathy is addressing this. These are questions those who don’t know Christ like to throw up to Christians. “If your God is so good,” they say, “then why did He allow ….” 

Kathy continues … 

Yes. God is good all the time. The Bible says so. God cannot be good one moment and not the next. He cannot be good in one situation and not another. 

A Facebook post I read not long ago caused me to reflect on this truth. The FB friend wrote, “God is good!” And then she detailed all the recent positive happenings in her life as the proof. 

This really troubled me. See, we flawed humans tend to declare God’s goodness only when things turn out the way we hope they will. This implies that we believe God is good because our circumstances are easy. But what if our circumstances are hard? Does that mean God is not good? Or that He is good only to those who don’t have trouble and difficulty? 

Our circumstances do not dictate or define God’s goodness. God’s character dictates His goodness. God is good all the time. No matter the circumstances.

So what does this truth mean for us today? Here are a few truths from Scripture to help us develop a correct understanding of the goodness of God:

  • God’s will for our lives is good (Romans 12:2). Sometimes – in fact, often – His will includes trials and difficulty that He uses for our refinement.
  • In all things, in all circumstances, our good God is working for our good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
  • The assurance of God’s goodness enables us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to declare in easy times and hard times, “God is good!”

How should these truths impact our daily lives? How should we upgrade the way we live and talk and relate to others? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Remember that God is good all the time. Not just when things are going the way we want them to.
  2. Thank Him for His goodness in every life situation.
  3. Be sensitive to those around you who are facing difficult and painful circumstances.
  4. Declare His goodness in every circumstance, particularly in the hard times.

Upgrading our attitudes about God’s goodness can change how we approach every circumstance of life and each person we encounter. God is good, all the time!

Let’s talk. Have you ever been guilty of declaring God’s goodness only in times of ease? Forgetting His goodness in times of difficulty? What are some things we can do to remind ourselves of His goodness in every situation?

Kathy Howard helps women live an unshakeable faith for life by encouraging them to stand firm on our rock-solid God no matter the circumstances of life. The author of five books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and a certificate in women’s ministry. She has been teaching the Bible for over 25 years and speaks regularly at women’s retreats and events. Find out about her books and speaking ministry and get discipleship tools and leader helps at her website: www.kathyhoward.org.