What Are You Supposed To Do With Your Life?

what-am-i-supposed-to-do-with-my-life-gods-will-demystified

Today we have the pleasure of sharing an exclusive look at Johnnie Moore’s new ebook, What Am I Supposed To Do With My Life? This ebook aims to provide spiritual direction and clear guidance on the most frequently asked question Moore hears as the campus pastor at a Christian university. Take a look:

Young evangelicals are constantly told that our teen, college, and young adult years are a “waiting period.” We’re waiting for jobs, for spouses, for God’s calling. This isn’t the season to get to work, but the season to wait until God shows us what we’re supposed to do with our lives. So we’re supposed to pray and to wait for an answer, and when the answers don’t come, that’s when we start asking God to “send a yellow pigeon into our bedroom window at five p.m. on Thursday” if he wants us to be a missionary to a tribe of pigmy people. Since the end to the waiting period is vague, we start getting increasingly desperate to know what’s next, and then the prayers get crazier and crazier.

This kind of “spiritual waiting” isn’t helpful; it’s actually harmful. We may think it is grounded in faith, but it often comes out of fear. We are so afraid that we’ll do something God doesn’t want us to do that we demand proof after proof of his will so that we can make faithless, risk-free decisions. We are so afraid of taking a chance on what we might think is God’s will that we try to shift responsibility entirely to him, asking for him to give us a miracle and then while we’re waiting for the miracle we tell our friends that we are “waiting on God.” We want him to remove from the decision all of the ambiguity and uncertainty. That way, if things go wrong, we can shake our heads and tell ourselves that “everything happens for a reason,” and comfort ourselves with the thought that at least we did what God told us to do.

But did we? Is this how God speaks to us? This idea of “waiting for God to move” lulls us into the belief that these years—some of the most important years of our lives—when our habits and personalities are being formed, when we learn how to function in relationships and in the workplace, are not really that important after all. It shifts responsibility from us to God, leaving us free to waste our time with video games, fool around with relationships without serious intentions, and distract ourselves from our future plans with the technology and its drama we invite upon ourselves. This is one of the reasons why “thirty is the new twenty,” why our generation struggles to focus on serious things, and why we so egregiously delay adulthood. We agonize over decisions and often put them off, saying that we are waiting for confirmation from God that we are doing the right thing. In the meantime, we fill the space between “asking” and “hearing” by wasting valuable time on meaningless pursuits. Rather than swimming ahead, we’re just treading water, looking for a blinking sign to drop from the sky and tell us where to go and what to do.

We want God to answer all the “W” questions for us first—the who, what, when, and where. But is this really necessary? I don’t think it is. I don’t think we should embrace this type of attitude; instead we ought to embrace an attitude that believes that now is as important as the future, and that so much of the will of God is realized in the everyday decisions and moments that we can let roll by unrecognized while we’re waiting for God to answer bigger questions and to provide us with supernatural signs. Meanwhile, every season of life is equally important and every daily encounter matters just as much as future goals, and somehow these passing moments, which you’re tempted to discount, are actually the building blocks for your future.

Nearly every twenty something I know is playing this waiting game; rather than jumping in with both feet, they are twiddling their thumbs, waiting for a dove to descend from the sky or a dog to walk around the corner of a building. Meanwhile God has them—us—in lives that keep on ticking, day after day, and he’s given us a book filled with words of advice that we’re to apply to our lives every single day. There is always a logical direction to follow, a next nearest step to take, and often the will of God is more about following that next nearest step than it is about waiting for God to send a sign. It’s about being the person God would have you be in whatever situation he has you at the moment.

Sometimes we say that we’re “waiting on God” when God is actually waiting on us [Click to tweet!] He is expecting us to start taking life seriously and start taking advantage of the opportunities he has already given us, as opposed to waiting for the next new thing. He’s expecting us to live our current season to its fullest.

***

Want to read more? Pre-order What Am I Supposed To Do With My Life? on Vyrso today!

Reprinted with permission from W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson.

 

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

A Writer’s Life with Philip Yancey

What's So Amazing About Grace?

Today’s guest post is from Philip Yancey, a best-selling evangelical Christian author. You can get Yancey’s best seller, What’s So Amazing About Grace?, for free on Vyrso through the month of October!

A writer’s life is a strange combination of isolation and busyness.

The act of writing itself requires quiet, reflective time. I can’t write if someone walks into the room. I block out distractions by listening to music through my headphones, and by shutting off my cell phone and email program.

Eventually, though I have to pay for the isolation. Right now I’m sitting on an airplane frantically trying to catch up on the accumulated emails and scheduling details that I put off while writing. A new book is being released—Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?—which I’ll be presenting to a group of pastors in Boston. While flying east for that event, I’m reviewing notes and fine-tuning a PowerPoint file. Soon I’ll take that presentation on a seven-city book tour.

When I’m writing, I focus on one thing only. When I’m catching up, I flit from place to place like a hummingbird. Flying across Ohio, suddenly I remember a strange and confusing passage I read in the Bible this morning. It appears in the latter part of Ezekiel, a series of very detailed instructions on the building of the temple and the resumption of animal sacrifices. Many of the rules described echo those in Leviticus, but some have changed. Why is so much space devoted to these details? I ask myself.  And what does this passage have to do with us today? I wonder how modern Jews, who have nothing resembling the temple described, interpret these chapters with their architectural specificity. Are the blueprints symbolic or literal?

When a line of questioning starts bugging me, I have great difficulty getting back to other tasks.  Magically, because I have Logos Bible Software, I can look up the answers right now, sitting in a chair in the sky zooming across the American heartland. I have access to hundreds of Bible resources on my laptop computer, and in a few minutes I can survey a variety of opinions from scholars who have addressed my very questions.

Last weekend I spent hours moving hundreds of books and reference works out of danger from a basement flood. Thinking back, I have to smile at the contrast between those books, which take up so much space in my office, and a software program I can carry in my coat pocket. In some ways I’m old-fashioned. I still listen to classical music, I stubbornly cling to my flip-style “dumb phone,” and I don’t use Twitter. I must tell you, though, that I am forever grateful to live in an age that makes it possible for me to carry the wisdom of the ages with me, wherever I go.

***

Check out Yancey’s upcoming tour for his new book, Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News? and download What’s So Amazing About Grace? for free all through the month of October.

 

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Great Leaders vs. Bad Leaders

1570_ath_300

Today’s guest post is from Russ Crosson, president and CEO of Ronald Blue & Co., a  strategic wealth management firm that oversees over $7 billion in assets. Russ is the author of four ebooks including Your Life…Well Spent available through October 14 for $2.99.

There are several qualities which I’ve observed that I believe distinguish a good leader from a bad leader.

Great leaders support the strengths in others. One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that in any entity, the men and women who emerge as tomorrow’s leaders will likely have more skills and abilities than the current leader. And therein lies the greatest distinction between a great leader and a bad leader.

Great leaders aren’t afraid of the strengths found in others. Bad leaders are intimidated by them. 

As a leader, you have the choice to either bring talented individuals along and allow them to grow by using their talents and gifts or be intimidated by their strengths and look for someone not as skilled and gifted so you will never be challenged. The latter is what bad leaders do. Great leaders build winning teams—teams that will endure for generations to come.

Great leaders have strong relational ability. A great leader is easy to have a relationship with; a bad leader is hard to have a relationship with. Leaders who are fearful of losing their positions or being overshadowed by others will continually be watching their backs. They won’t let themselves be vulnerable or get too close. They keep their cards close to the vest. In doing this, these bad leaders believe they will always be needed. The business relationships they do have will generally be at a surface level only.

Great leaders relate to others in openness and with transparency. These leaders spend time with their people training, coaching, mentoring, teaching and doing whatever is needed to prepare them for future leadership. When they’re at work, they’re “all in” and engage with others in order to be a holistic mentor to next-generation leaders.

Great leaders accept feedback. Because great leaders don’t fear strengths in others, they can listen and accept feedback without feeling threatened. Great leaders value input even when it’s not what they want to hear or they disagree with the opinion. Bad leaders tend to be threatened and go on the defensive, ignoring advice that’s contrary to what they think. These types of leaders tend to listen only to what makes them feel good and often misinterpret lack of agreement as disloyalty.

In conclusion, outstanding leaders willingly lay themselves aside and concentrate on the mission rather than on their personal goals. They help others grow and perform to the best of their abilities. They promote the success of others rather than promoting themselves. All leaders have a choice where they direct their focus: on others or themselves.

Great leaders focus on others . . . where will you choose to focus?

***

Interested in reading more? Check out all of Russ Crosson’s ebooks on Vyrso today!

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Drowning Out the Parenting Horror Stories

expectant-parents-preparing-together-for-the-journey-of-parenthood

Today’s guest post is by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, a regular contributor to Thriving Family magazine and Boundless.org. She writes children’s resources for several publishers. After having three children in fewer than five years of marriage, Suzanne and her husband, Kevin, who is a children’s pastor, consider themselves on the family fast-track—a blessing they wouldn’t trade for anything. Gosselin is the author of the newly released, Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood available on Vyrso today!

When I was single, I received mixed reviews on marriage. There were some who seemed to truly enjoy matrimony. Others spoke of marriage as being “hard work” but worth the effort. Still others offered horror stories.

When Kevin and I were newly engaged, I remember one woman saying: “There will come a day when you will wake up and realize you hate the person lying in bed next to you. Just trust the Lord and keep going.”

Yikes.

While many people offered words of encouragement when Kevin and I were wed, others were quick to point out the freedoms we would lose and the adjustments we would have to make. I braced myself, thinking, Maybe marriage is going to be completely different than I’m expecting. Maybe it’s going to be . . .  gulp . . . horrible. (OK, so I didn’t really believe that or I wouldn’t have done it.) I was relieved to discover that I loved being married. Everything I loved about my relationship with Kevin before we tied the knot was just that much better as we shared our lives together on a deeper level.

Then came pregnancy. Almost from the moment I announced we were expecting, the horror stories surfaced again.

“Have fun now, because that’s all about to change.”

“Be prepared to see the worst in your husband.”

“That first week may be the worst of your life.”

Kevin and I were taken aback by all the naysayers. I’m sure they were simply trying to prepare us for a transition that can be difficult. And I am not meaning to downplay the reality that adjusting to having a child can be challenging. But at some point, Kevin and I agreed not to listen to the horror stories. Everyone’s experience is different. And, wouldn’t you know it, I saw the best come out of my husband, we still have fun, and the week after Josiah’s birth was warm and memorable, culminating with Christmas Day!

A few days after we arrived home from the hospital the reality of the change set in. The following morning, my brother-in-law was going to drive Kevin to the mechanic for a tune-up. It was a simple errand that just a week before I would have done. Now I felt like I couldn’t. I burst into tears — over driving to the mechanic! When I explained how I felt, Kevin said, “You can drive me. We can put Josiah in his car seat, and you can go! This being parents thing is what we make it.”

Though I let my brother-in-law do the errand, my husband’s words were comforting.

Things were going to change with a child; I knew that. But we didn’t have to be restricted by other people’s horror stories. How we moved forward as a couple and family was up to us. That is the joyous thing about life with our God; we are not doomed as we take the path He has for us. Each day is an adventure of His love and grace. So don’t believe the stories. Make your own.

 ***

You can download Suzanne Hadley Gosselin’s newest ebook, Expectant Parents, today on Vyrso for just $9.74!

 

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

What If God Doesn’t Want You to Be Responsible?

packing-light-two-20-somethings-and-one-50-state-road-trip

Today’s guest post is written by Allison Vesterfelt, a writer, speaker, and the author of Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage.

I used to think the most important thing I could do to please God would be to live a safe, responsible life; where “responsible” meant I went to college, got good grades, secured a well-paying job, put plenty of money in my 401(k) and in savings.

I stayed in my hometown, close to my family. I went to church nearby, every Sunday. I had a predictable schedule and a predictable income so there would be no major surprises.

The problem was, at the end of this all, I was really unhappy.

During this season, while I was working a job that didn’t use my skills and wondering how on earth I had gotten there, I re-read the story of the Rich Young Ruler. I grew up in the church, so I’ve read this story at least a hundred times in my 31 years, but for some reason, this time, I read it very differently.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it basically goes like this: A young man comes to Jesus and says (I’m paraphrasing here), “Okay, I’ve done all the stuff I’m supposed to do to get to heaven. I’ve followed all of the rules. I’ve been really responsible. But what am I missing?” Jesus tells the young man:

“Sell all of your things and give them to the poor. Then come follow me.”

When I had read this story before, I had always thought about it as a story for rich people and since I didn’t see myself as a “rich person,” I figured it wasn’t a story for me. “Good thing I’m not so attached to money,” I had told myself.

But this time, when I read the story, it fell on different ears.

This time I identified with the rich young man. I felt like I was coming to Jesus saying,

“Okay, Jesus. I’ve done all the things I’m supposed to do to get to heaven. I’ve gotten good grades and have a good credit score and I pay all my bills. But I still feel like something is missing. I’m not experiencing the abundant life you promised.”

“Everything just feels empty…”

And as far as I could tell, Jesus was telling me the same thing he told the rich young man. He was saying, “the way to heaven is this: let go of everything. Give it all away. I am the answer.”

So is Jesus telling us to be irresponsible?

Was God telling me to quit the job I was working? Was He telling me to sell all of my stuff and give it to the poor? Was he telling me I should go spend all the money I had hoarded away in my savings account?

Not necessarily.

But it’s easy for us to say this passage is just a metaphor—that God would never ask us to sell everything we own to get to heaven. But here’s the thing: Jesus did ask this rich young man to sell everything. He didn’t just ask him to let go of something. He asked him to let go of everything important to him.

What would it look like for you to let go of what is most important?

For me, this meant letting go of my idea of responsibility.

For so long, I thought responsibility would “save” me. I figured it would protect me from anything bad and keep me comfortable. But in that season, God confronted me with the notion that my idea of “responsibility” was also keeping me from heaven. Not “heaven” as in the place you go when you die, but “heaven” as in the Kingdom of Heaven, already coming to being, here on earth.

I think God wants us to be good stewards of what we’ve been given. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a good job or 401(k) or a good credit score.

But at the same time, I wonder: what would it look like for us to be good stewards of our souls? Does “responsibility” have to be about money and status, or can it be about rest, relationship and creative talents? Do we have to work better, faster, harder and longer to build a “responsible” life, or can less actually be more?

For me, the answer has been an unequivocal yes.

And answering that question for myself has helped me find freedom the Rich Young Ruler didn’t find that day when he met Jesus. I hope he found it later, but that day, he walked away, sad, because he was so attached to his earthly treasures, he wasn’t willing to give them up for heavenly realities.

For me, this has meant quitting jobs, even when it didn’t necessarily make financial sense to do so. It has also meant, at times, working jobs I didn’t love, for a season, because I felt God leading me to do it. It has meant letting go of friendships, letting go of expectations, letting go of physical stuff.

It has meant resting more and worrying less.

And while it hasn’t been perfect, I’m learning “responsibility” (or at least my idea of it) isn’t everything. I’m learning to trust. I’m uncovering heaven.

 ***

Allison Vesterfelt is a writer, speaker, and the author of Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage. You can find her online at AllisonVesterfelt.com.

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

The Power of Story

fear-has-a-name-a-novel

The following guest post is by Creston Mapes, author of the inspirational thrillers Sky Zone, Poison Town, and Fear Has a Name. He has written for some of the world’s most recognized corporations, colleges and ministries, and has ghost-written seven non-fiction titles. His early years as a reporter inspire many of his novels.

The following excerpts are reprinted with his permission from the novel Fear Has a Name.

***

The husky man lurking outside the front door of Pamela Crittendon’s house carried a black leather satchel, like a doctor’s bag.

His face was hardened and pasty, with tiny eyes and a thatch of curly red hair. He wore all black, from his T-shirt and leather vest to his jeans and cowboy boots. And he stood uncomfortably close to the door.

The doorbell rang a third time.

Pamela’s head buzzed.

He clamped the doorknob. “Open!”

The hardware made a sickening racket.

“Get out of here!” Her stomach turned. “I’m calling the police!”

She rushed for the phone in the kitchen.

Boom!

Pamela halted, turned toward the noise at the door, and gawked in horror as the stranger bent over and drove his shoulder—the size of a medicine ball—into the door, splintering the wood frame.

BOOM!

• • •

After the home invasion, from which Pamela and her children escaped, the following conversation ensued between Pamela and her husband, reporter Jack Crittendon.

“I want us to get a gun,” Pamela said.

Jack’s face fell.

“How else will we defend ourselves if he comes back?”

Jack’s mouth sealed and his eyes narrowed.

“We can’t count on a patrol car coming by here once every few days,” she said.

He still didn’t speak.

“Your dad had a gun,” Pamela said. “Mine has one.”

“Does that make it safe?”

“Safe? Let’s talk about safe! There’ll be nothing left to keep safe if he comes back!”

Pamela waited, resolute.

“Look,” he finally said, “his coming back today raises the stakes, I admit it. I just think that before we buy a gun and learn to use it—which we can certainly do—we need to ask ourselves if that’s the best choice, the wisest choice. Is it what God wants? If it is, great; we’ll do it.”

Pamela’s head dropped into her hands. She didn’t want to talk about what God wanted. Not now. She knew what she needed and that was all there was to it. Her mind and body and spirit felt utterly spent, and the day was only half over.

“I understand you felt helpless,” Jack said. “We just need to make sure we both agree completely before we decide to keep a weapon in this house that can take someone’s life . . .”

• • •

In my book, Fear Has a Name, there’s been a home invasion. Time reveals that the young wife and mother in the book, Pamela Crittendon, is being stalked by a former classmate. She wants a gun in the house to defend herself and her children in case the fiend returns. Her husband feels they need to discuss some important issues — would it be safe to have a gun with two girls in the house; would you be willing to use the gun and shoot to kill; is this something God wants for us?

Gripping fiction can cause readers to think about things from a perspective they never had before, and perhaps even explore the issues in greater depth once they’ve put the book down.

One of my intentions when writing fiction is to cause readers to stop and think, and to contemplate controversial issues they may have never come to terms with before. All six of my books have reflected what God was doing in my life at the time of writing.

One of the biggest questions I was wrestling with when I wrote Fear Has a Name was, why do terrible things happen to good people, especially Christians? Why does God allow such trials for His children? This was burdening me. Here is a quote I found that we inserted at the beginning of Fear Has a Name, reflecting on those same weighty questions:

 “It’s a very long story, but the short version is this:

I realized that I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith

with the facts of life . . . I could no longer explain how there can be a good and

all-powerful God actively involved with this world, given the state of things.

For many people who inhabit this planet, life is a cesspool of misery

and suffering. I came to a point where I simply could not believe that there is a

good and kindly disposed Ruler who is in charge of it.

Bart D. Ehrman

Indeed, are we Christians supposed to skim over unfairness and atrocities — purposefully squelching any thought of them? How do we reconcile events like 9-11, the Holocaust, the ISIS beheadings, and things like home invasions, kidnappings, and random rampages?

I still don’t have a concrete answer. These things grieve me. My heart mourns for the people impacted. But, somewhere deep down in my soul, I know my Maker reigns. And that became the overarching theme of Fear Has a Name: “No matter what — even the unthinkable — God is in control. He is bigger. Mightier. On His throne. And I can trust Him; I must trust Him. Who else can I turn to in my distress, but the Maker of heaven and earth?”

We ended the book with several thought-provoking statements that I found in my research:

“Evil is a departure from the way things ought to be.

But it could not be a departure from the way things ought to be unless

there is a way things ought to be. If there is a way things ought to be,

then there is a design plan for how things ought to be.

And if there is such a design plan, then there is a designer.”

R. Douglas Geivett

 

“Thus it is not like a child that I believe in Christ and confess him.

My hosanna has come forth from the crucible of doubt.”

Anne Fremantle

I wonder if a fictional story has ever had a profound or life-changing impact on you? If so, we would love to hear from you — on that, or any other thoughts or opinions this blog may have brought to mind.

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

How to Experience God’s Presence through Prayer

Linda Evans Shepherd

Today’s guest post is by Linda Evans Shepherd a nationally known Christian speaker and a best-selling author. She’s the president of Right to the Heart Ministries, and the founder of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her online and speaking ministries have seen well over 300 thousand people come to Christ and is viewed by over 45,000 people daily. She’s been married to her husband, Paul, for 35 years and has two young adult children; Jim a software engineer and Laura, a survivor of a year-long coma following a car accident when she was an infant.

Theologian and author Stanley G. Grenz once wrote in his book, Prayer, the Cry for the Kingdom, “The greatest challenge that we face today is the challenge to pray. Meeting this challenge requires that we merely cease talking about prayer and begin to pray.”

I agree with Grenz. Knowing how to pray will make an incredible difference in our relationship with God and also in our lives.

Look at it this way. Imagine you’re a young, single man and you’ve just asked the girl in your accounting class for a date because you’re genuinely interested in getting to know her. The two of you agree to meet at your favorite coffee shop to chat. When you’re finally sitting across from her, sipping a mug of steaming mocha latte, you ask, “How do you think you did on the test this morning?”

She shrugs. “Fine.”

“So, tell me about your family?”

“Not much to say, really.”

More silence.

“How are your classes going?”

“They’re going.”

It’s so quiet you can hear the crickets chirping.

Can you imagine how you would feel if the conversation stayed on this level, especially when you knew this interesting young woman was holding back? You would have to wonder if she was bored, really didn’t want to hang out with you, or perhaps was just nervous.

Regardless of the reason, if the conversations between the two of you stayed forever stalled, it would be difficult to grow a deeper friendship.

Imagine your prayer life following this example. Maybe that’s not so difficult to imagine because all you ever pray is an old line like, “God, bless me and mine. Amen.”

If this is you, know you’re not alone in your struggle to communicate with God. But regardless, it’s hard to build a deeper relationship with God when your prayer life is stuck in neutral. Sure, God still loves you, but think of all you’ll miss by not becoming more invested in your relationship with him.

But what if the problem is that you really don’t feel comfortable talking to God and you worry you might say the wrong thing to him.

I can understand this concern. I mean, God is the most awesome and powerful being in the universe. But treating God like a stranger you just met on the subway is not the answer. Perhaps what you really need is a few basic conversation starters, such as these prayer ABCs:

  1. Acknowledge him. Let him know you’re thinking about him. “Hi, Lord. I love you. Would you go into my day with me?”
  2. Bring it. Tell him about your concerns or needs. “Lord, I’m worried about making rent this month. Would you show me what to do? Would you provide for my need?”
  3. Chat. Tell God whatever is on your mind. For example, you could tell him about your day, problems, job, family, bank account, or mother-in-law, just as if you were talking to a good friend. “Lord, did you see the family at dinner tonight? I’m worried about little Bobby. He seemed so quiet, and I’m wondering if something’s wrong. Would you comfort him and give me wisdom to know how to talk to him about what’s going on?”

Sure, God already knows everything about whatever topic you might bring up, but that’s not the point. The point is, just like in any relationship, you need to communicate because communication builds intimacy. Don’t be afraid of saying the wrong thing because God already knows your heart. God is big enough to take your joy, your tears, your fear, your frustrations, your anger, and even your tantrums. But what he doesn’t want from you is a cold shoulder. Whatever you bring to God, he’ll help you through. Then when you look back, you’ll see his fingerprints on the things you brought to him in prayer.

You can get Linda Evans Shepherd’s ebook Experiencing God’s Presence, Learning to Listen While and her other ebooks on Vyrso today.

Have you found new avenues of growth in your prayer life? What are some recommendations you would have for our readers trying to cultivate a prayer life?

 

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Yes or No?

yes-or-no-how-your-everyday-decisions-will-forever-shape-your-life

Today’s guest post is by Jeff Shinabarger, a social entrepreneur and the author of  Yes or No and More or Less. Jeff and his wife, Andre, live in Atlanta where he is personally engaged in over 100 start-ups focused on solving problems through the non-profit, Plywood People. 

Have you ever considered that two small words have the ability to change everything? Yes or no.

Most decisions ultimately come down to the moment when you choose to say yes or choose to say no. I believe that the words yes and no are the most powerful words in the dictionary. They define what we love, what we will be known for, and what we will do with our lives. Yes and no begin new stories and end old plot lines. They are definitive words: words that significantly change the trajectory of life.

When you say yes or no, you give new direction to where you are going and what is still to come. Yes or no determines the hours you will spend in a job. Yes or no makes a commitment to a lifelong relationship. Yes or no shapes your character in times of stress. Yes or no brings you breathlessly to the doctor’s office to hear the heartbeat of a child. Yes or no commits you to buy and pay for a car and even a house. Yes or no is what leaves you anxiously waiting to hear if an investor chooses to give your idea funding or supports your social cause to help people in need. Most decisions come down to two small words that define everything. Those two small words are yes and no.

Choices happen every minute of every day, but some choices have more weight than others. As much as we fret about what to wear in the morning or where to go on the next big date, those moments don’t compare with life choices that define where we live, what we do, and who we spend our life with. If you think about the last year, there is a good chance you can remember a minimum of three choices that defined your year. If you consider your entire life, you will recall probably 10-15 decisions that defined what you are doing today and the story you are living. They were defining moments in which you said either yes or no, turning points that forged a path in a different direction toward where you are today. Depending on which little word you use in each situation, it moves you either to a new place or away from that very same place.

Decisions are moments of choice. It’s this or that or the other option, and there are often more options than we realize. Decisions start and end with you. I can’t make a decision for you; it’s on your shoulders. Sometimes that weight on our shoulders is heavy. Oddly enough, the heavier the decisions, the higher our shoulders rise. The tension tightens the neck as the stress seems to yank shoulder muscles up toward our ears.

Day after day, you choose your future. Sometimes other people make decisions that affect you, but you still choose your response as a part of the equation of what happens next. Many decisions are easy, but some weigh more than others. I am thankful that we were created in a way to make decisions; we were given the choice of how to live and what to believe. I do believe that in the end God will have ultimate determination of the world, but we have been granted the freedom to live and make choices in this beautiful and broken world. Even in environments controlled by others, we always have the option to follow that law or direction, or not.

The questions keep coming in every stage of life. Whether it’s far in the future or right in front of you, it’s always a good time to consider your process for making a crucial decision. Sadly, I can’t tell you what to decide. (Imagine how successful I would be if I could!) I do, however, believe I can assist you in becoming a decision maker.

The key question I ask throughout my book is simply: What do you do when you don’t know what to do? My hope is to offer you some practical ways to navigate when the path to yes or no is difficult to discern. I want to give you action points to assist you in thinking through how you make choices not just on your own but alongside the people you love and trust.

You might wonder why I care so much about helping people, like you, make decisions. I believe many of us see things in the world that are broken and feel a deep desire to fix them. We want to be problem solvers. But we will never solve a problem unless we are willing to make decisions that others have not been able to make. I believe that you and your friends have the ability to solve problems that impact people and I want to help in that process.

If you want to become a better decision maker, I invite you to check out Yes or No. We created a simple website, www.YesOrNoBook.com, where you can take a free assessment to determine your decision making style as a starting point for your journey of becoming a decision maker.

***

Get Jeff’s newest ebook, Yes or No today on Vyrso! Learn how to make better decisions and become a problem solver that impacts people.

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Addiction: A Contemporary Problem with Historical Roots

michelle-griep-headshot

Today’s guest post is by Michelle Griep, an accomplished novelist and author of A Heart Deceived, which you can get for just 99 cents through September 26. 

What comes to mind when I say Jane Austen? Hold on. Let me guess:

  •  Swirling ballroom scenes
  •  Dinner parties galore
  •  The dashing Mr. Darcy

Any of these answers would be right, of course, but you’d also be correct if you’d shouted out opium usage. Austen’s mother used opium to help her sleep, and her father was an agent in the trade. Elizabeth Barrett Browning took opiates every day from the age of fourteen, Sir Walter Scott consumed six grams a day, and Samuel Coleridge was a regular user.

Yes, indeed. I hate to burst your bubble of the romantic days of yore, but opium addiction was an issue to be reckoned with.

The first written account of the non-medicinal virtues of this drug is in De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, published in 1821. He advocates opium usage not as a pharmaceutical pain reliever, but as a trip into “an inner world of secret self-consciousness.” Sounds positively hippyish, eh?

Had Mr. Darcy been hanging out in a nearby opium den, these are the symptoms Elizabeth Bennett should’ve looked for:

  • Red or glazed eyes
  • Confusion
  • Slurred or rapid speech
  • Loss of appetite
  • Apathy or depression
  • Frequent headaches
  • Insomnia

While Jane Austen preferred to write of dances and dinners, I dove into the seamier side of things and made the hero in A Heart Deceived a recovering opium addict. Why?

Because addiction is a contemporary problem with historical roots.

It’s just as hard for my fictional character in this story, Ethan Goodwin, to turn down a bottle of laudanum as it is for a real person today to pass on a hit of meth. With God’s help, it can be done—which is exactly what Ethan discovers.

Ethan has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law, from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder.

My other character in A Heart Deceived, Miri Brayden, teeters on a razor’s edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he’ll be committed to an asylum—and she’ll be sent to the poorhouse.

When Ethan shows up on Miri’s doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

***

Get Michelle Griep’s ebook, A Heart Deceived, for 99 cents through September 26. Be sure to check out the 100+ fiction titles we have on sale for 99 cents!

 

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Pursuing Justice in a Too-Easy-to-Quit World

overrated-are-we-more-in-love-with-the-idea-of-changing-the-world-than-actually-changing-the-world

The following is an excerpt from Eugene Cho’s book, Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World? (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2014), 118, 122-125.

Today, it’s just so easy.

Easy to change.

Easy to quit.

Easy to abandon ship.

Easy to file for a divorce online.

So easy to do whatever.

In Luke 5 we read about what most scholars speculate to be four friends who encounter a man who was paralyzed. They felt compassion for the man and wanted to bring him to Jesus for healing.

Let’s be real here—it probably wasn’t an easy task. We don’t know how long or how far they carried this person. We don’t know the conditions of the road or path. We have no idea how heavy this man was, but to carry a grown man who could not help himself move was, and is, no easy task. In short, it was a commitment.

So these guys carried this man to the home where Jesus was speaking, believing that Jesus could do something to help. When they arrived, they saw that the home was packed. There was a huge crowd. Standing room only. There was absolutely no way in. Story over. They had every reason to give up.

Put yourself in this situation. Imagine if it were you. You see the huge crowd. You’re tired. You’ve just carried a grown dude for some fair distance. You probably say, “Sorry, dude,” and give up. Fair enough. So you hold up your phone, snap a selfie of yourself frowning, with the invalid and the crowd in the background of the picture, then cross-post it to Facebook and Twitter with this comment:

Way too crowded. Maybe next time. #TryingToHelp #Invalid #Jesus #YOLO

You’d get lots of likes, several affirming comments to your post, and seven retweets. The story could’ve ended there. We would all applaud with a polite golf clap. We would say, “I don’t blame you. You did what you could.” Isn’t that such a common saying nowadays? You did what you could.

Sometimes we underestimate not just what we can do in our lives but what God can do in our lives. These guys did not give up. They had faith that God could act, that He could heal. They were compelled by their compassion for this man who understood the pain of being marginalized, ostracized, and ignored.

They considered their options and came up with a solution they probably thought was a bit crazy at first. If they couldn’t bring this paralyzed man through the door, they’d lower him down into the home through the roof.

Once they decided that lowering a man in from the ceiling would be a good idea, they needed to figure out how to do it. While I’m no expert on house structures of the first century in Israel, they likely had to walk up some steep, narrow stairs on the side of the home and then hoist him up onto the roof. Together they lifted 150 to 200 pounds of unwieldy weight.

Once they figured that out and did it, they then had to dismantle the roof itself. I hope the homeowner had insurance. Once the roof had a sizable hole in it, the man had to be lowered into the room. Imagine the yelling and commotion from within the crowded home. Everyone in the room looked up at the roof.

And then, of course, Jesus healed their friend and commended their faith.

What a moment.

This story inspires me for several reasons. These men had compassion. They cared. They saw the invalid as someone worthy of attention.
They had faith in Jesus. This was fairly early in Jesus’s ministry, and I’m certain that these men still had many questions about Jesus, but what they knew, heard, felt, and experienced was enough for them to have faith in Him.

They worked together to make this happen.

When I say we’ve got to be tenacious, I’m not suggesting that we have to be tenacious by ourselves. Sometimes we’ve got to look for like-minded, like-hearted, and similarly tenacious people, and either join them or recruit them to our cause.

Their creativity inspires me. They probably had to convince people that though it seemed crazy, they could do it. They didn’t quit. They had a goal in mind. It may not have been pretty. They might’ve said a few choice words along the way. They certainly messed up a roof. Maybe they dropped the man at one point. I’m sure they were sweaty, but they believed that his life mattered.

Maybe it seems kind of self-centered, but when Jesus looked up and saw them opening up the roof, the Bible says that He saw their faith. The faith of the men helping. Then Jesus told the disabled man, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20).

Now that’s a better ending to the story. And imagine this tweet instead:

We did it! Jesus saw the man, healed him, forgave him! #Thankful #PraiseJesus #RaiseTheRoof

***

Interested in reading more? Download  Overrated by Eugene Cho for just $9.59 on Vyrso today!

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Copyright 2014 Faithlife / Logos Bible Software