Grace: The Antidote for Sin

I’d like to set the record straight about grace-based Christians and sin…Graced-based Christians are just as opposed to sin as anyone else.

Why I even have to make such an obvious statement truly baffles me. But grace-based Christians are often accused of handling sin in a “loosey-goosey” manner. We are accused of being accepting of people’s sin, and even embracers of sin.

This belief is not only absolutely wrong, but it couldn’t be future from the truth. As Christians, we are all on the same team when it comes to sin.

Many Christians still believe that there must be a “balance” between God’s grace and their behavior. They believe that we are given God’s gift of salvation purely by the grace and free gift of Jesus. BUT (and yes, this is a BIG BUT…), they at the same time must remain pleasing to God through their choices and behaviors. Grace-based Christians, on the other hand, stand on the fact that our salvation has already been made secure by the blood of Jesus, and that we are no longer judged because of our sins – whether they be past, present or future.

Let me be very clear…sin is wrong. Sin is bad. Sin is very harmful, and should be annihilated. The real question should be, “How can we get rid of it? What is the true antidote for sin?”

The typical way that religion attacks sin has been by attacking the person who is sinning. Christians who struggle with any kind of sin (which includes everyone of us, by the way), are taught:

  • “You need more discipline!”
  • “You should obey God!”
  • “You need to stop that sinning!”

Considering all of the sinning that still goes on in the church, I have to quote Dr. Phil and ask, “How’s that been working for us?”

The truth is, most people are fully aware of their sin, whether they admit it or not (Romans 1:18-20). And deep down, most people feel bad enough as it is about their behaviors, bad habits and addictions. Constantly reminding people of their sins doesn’t change a thing…it simply makes them feel more guilty and even more helpless to change.

I believe that the real reason religion wants to point out people’s behavior stems simply from fear. Religion is afraid that if it fails to hold up a mirror to people’s sin, that we are actually giving people license to sin. But here’s the truth: People are sinning pretty well anyway, without a license!

Grace, on the other hand, reinforces who God has made us in Christ:

  • Grace reminds you that you are the righteousness of God (Romans 5:17).
  • Grace tells you that even in your failures, God has totally forgiven you (Ephesians 1:7).
  • Grace tells you that God is faithful to complete the good work in you that He has started (Philippians 1:6).
  • Grace encourages you in the truth that your Heavenly Father loves you all the time, and nothing will ever change that (Romans 8:35).
  • Grace reminds you that because you are in Jesus, condemnation is no longer a part of your life (Romans 8:1).

The first four verses of Romans 8 strictly focus on the fact that following the law and doing things “right” does not make us righteous. It is only by what Jesus Christ did for us, that we can ever be made righteous.

Then Paul makes an important comment in the next verse:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5)

Paul is encouraging us to focus our minds on what Jesus has done for us, and how He has made us clean! Focusing on what happens in the flesh (sin) will never bring redemption and forgiveness – it will only produce more condemnation – and more sin.

Instead of reminding people of how bad they are, we need to be sharing with them that God has made a way for them to be free of all guilt and shame. They need to hear the good news that through the blood of Jesus, they have the power to change.

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14).

Grace makes you sin less, not more.

If we want to see sin decrease, it will only happen by being courageous enough to allow God’s grace to increase.  Through His grace, a person who has been bound for years by any sin has the power to totally change and become free in a single day.

Grace is truly the only antidote for sin!

God is Not Like a Box of Chocolates!

If you were to ask the average person on the street how God feels about them, here are some of the responses you might hear:

  • “Well, God loves me, but He is disappointed in me when I do wrong.”
  • “He loves me, that’s why He punishes me when I do wrong.”
  • “I’ve done too many things wrong for God to pay attention to me.”
  • “Some days He’s happier with me than other days.”
  • “I could lose my good standing with God if I don’t do the right things.”

Most people approach God as though He is a box of chocolates – when it comes to God, you never know what you are going to get.

God is not like a box of chocolates. You are not left to wonder what He thinks about you from day to day. The problem lies in the fact that we think that God’s opinion about us is up to us and our behavior. The truth is, what God thinks of you is dependent on Jesus, not you.

Romans 8:1 tell us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Notice that this scripture does not say, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are WELL BEHAVED…

Freedom from condemnation, blame and guilt doesn’t come from your good behavior. In fact, there is no way that you can behave well enough to be free from condemnation. James 2:10 reminds us:

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”

Romans 8:1 teaches us that in order to be free from guilt and condemnation, we must be IN Christ Jesus. That means that to receive the free gift from Jesus (see last week’s post, “Are Christians Still Sinners?” ), we must believe that He paid for and removed all of our sins on the cross. He is the only path to assurance that you are clean and forgiven in the eyes of God.

It is easy to say the words, “Yes, I believe that I am saved by the grace of Jesus!” But, do you really believe it? Or deep down, do you still believe that God only thinks well of you based on your behavior? If you believe in the pure grace of Jesus, you can agree with the following statements:

  • I believe that God is NEVER upset or disappointed with me.
  • I NEVER have to work to earn God’s blessings.
  • I am convinced that God ALWAYS has good things in store for me.
  • I NEVER feel ashamed, guilty or condemned about anything – ever!

Yes, these are extreme statements. But God’s grace for you is extreme. I admit that I haven’t yet been able to answer “yes” to all these statements myself all of the time, but I am committed to the renewing of my mind until I am convinced in my heart that this is how God feels about me.

So, the next time you find yourself wondering if God is pleased with you, remember that God is not like a box of chocolates. With Him, you always know what you’re going to get. With Jesus, you will always receive love, acceptance and goodness from Him, whether you feel it or not!

Are Christians Still Sinners?

I’ve heard many Christians say, “I’m just a sinner, saved by grace”. In fact, I used to claim this statement myself for many years. But today, as I am continuing to learn more about the grace that God has freely given us, I can stand before you in truth and say, “I am no longer a sinner!”

Now, if you want to get some religious people upset really quickly, I dare you to say to them what I just said to you. They would be quick to correct my statement that I am not a sinner, using scriptures like:

“If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” (I John 1:10), or:

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

I am not questioning the fact that I still sin. In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find any Christian who would be so bold to say that they never do anything wrong. But, just because I still sin, does that make me a sinner?

To accurately answer this question, let’s look at how we all became sinners in the first place. Romans 5:12 tells us that we became sinners because of what Adam, our first ancestor, did. Because of Adam’s original sin, we now all have a “sin gene” in our DNA that is a part of who we are. We didn’t do anything to cause this “sin gene” to be inside of us – just the fact that we were born ensured that we would be sinners. In short, we are not sinners because we sin. We are sinners because we were born into sin from our ancestor Adam.

Verses 13 and 14 are SO amazing! “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13). This tells us that because the law did not exist between the time of Adam and Moses, God was not punishing people because of their sins. Think about it…how can you break a law when no law exists? Sure, people were still suffering and dying, because sin produces death – but death came from the sin itself, not from God’s punishment!

Here is where it gets good! In verses 15-21, Paul explicitly shows us how just as we became sinners because of Adam (not because of our sins), that when we put our faith in Jesus, we now become righteous and justified before God. Just as we did not “sin” our way into becoming sinners, we can’t “behave” our way into become righteous and justified. Once you believe in Jesus, you are given a new nature – a new spirit – a sinless spirit!

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Over and over again in verses 15-18, we are told that righteousness and grace is a “free gift” to us through faith in Jesus Christ. Here is a breakdown of who God now says we are, as believers in Jesus:

  • Vs. 15: Because of one man’s offense (Adam), many died. Because of one Man’s grace, grace abounds to many!
  • Vs. 16: Through Adam, judgment brought condemnation. Through Jesus, the free gift brings justification!
  • Vs. 17: Through Adam, death reigned. Through Jesus, we reign in life!
  • Vs. 18: Because of Adam, judgment resulted in condemnation. Because of Jesus, the free gift results in justification!
  • Vs. 19: One man’s disobedience made many sinners. One Man’s obedience made many righteous!
  • Vs. 20: Because of the law, sin abounded. But grace abounds much more!
  • Vs. 21: Sin reigned in death. But through Jesus Christ, grace reigns through righteousness!

I want to especially point out verse 19. Because of Adam, we were made sinners. But now, because we have faith in Jesus, we are no longer sinners. Just as before the law, we are no longer being judged by God for our sins. Not only that, but God does not see us as sinners – He sees us as righteous!

I’ll say again that this does not mean that we never perpetrate sin. But at our core, we are no longer sinners, we are righteous. A person who tells a lie cannot automatically be labeled as a compulsive liar. A person who has a drink cannot automatically be labeled as an alcoholic. On the flip side, a mean person who does a good deed cannot be automatically be labeled as a great guy!

As believers in Christ, our actions no longer dictate our identity. I am no longer considered a sinner. You are no longer considered a sinner. And I am convinced that once we can own up to our true identity – the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17) – we will actually see less and less sin show up in our lives!

The Religious “Bait and Switch”

If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve no doubt heard the preacher or other attenders confess that we’ve all been saved by grace. In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find a Christian that tells you that there is any other way to receive salvation, except through grace.

But there’s a problem. All too often, the minute that a person believes in Jesus as their personal Savior, we as the church pull on them the old “bait and switch”.

Picture with me this scene: The pastor has just preached a moving and powerful sermon. Then the organ player begins to play the faithful hymn, “Just as I Am”. You can sense that the presence of God is in the room, inviting those who are lost and broken to come down to the altar and receive the free gift of forgiveness and grace from God. Susie comes down and in all sincerity in her heart reaches out to Jesus, asking Him to come into her heart and life. Everyone in the room feels a release of love, grace and forgiveness as well all rejoice over Susie joining the family of Jesus. She has been told that God loves and receives her just as she is, because she has confessed her belief in Jesus. You can literally see the relief and rest on Susie’s faces, and she now has a glow about her that she didn’t have before.

Fast forward to the following week…

Susie comes to church again, excited to learn more about this Jesus who died for her sins and who loves her beyond measure. She is greeted by one of the “mothers” of the church who gently pulls her aside to let her know that the skirt she is wearing is too tight and too short. The mother explains to her that now that she is a part of God’s family, God expects more from her. Embarrassed, Susie finds her way into the sanctuary, still hoping to relive that joy that she felt the previous week. But she becomes more discouraged when the pastor’s sermon outlines all of the things that we as Christians must stop doing right now. Along with this list of wrongs that must be stopped, Susie writes down all of the things that she should be doing. Susie is feeling overwhelmed.

After the service, Susie is greeted by a few well-intending church-goers, who remember that she received Christ the week before. They are happy that she is back in church.

As they walk out of the church doors together, Susie lights up a cigarette. Her new church friends are appalled, explaining to her that her body is the temple of God. “How could you defile God’s temple like that, Susie?”, they ask. Susie drops her cigarette, puts it out with the new shoes she bought for church, smiles, and gets in her car.

The next week, a few people at church notice that Susie is not in the service. One of them tries to give her a call to check on her, but instead gets forwarded to her voicemail. They never hear from Susie again.

Unfortunately, I think that this scenario happens all to often in many churches. God’s grace is all about receiving undeserved, unmerited favor from Jesus, “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

To bring people to Jesus, we confess grace to the lost. But once they have come to believe in Him, we take them back to trying to gain God’s approval and blessing through performance.

There was absolutely nothing we could ever have done to earn the gift of salvation that Jesus paid for on the cross. So, why do we think that we could ever possibly do enough to KEEP it? As Christians, it is time that we stop with the bait and switch, and instead decide which side of the line we are going to live on…the side of trying to earn God’s approval, or the side of grace?

I only wish that we could keep our eyes on Jesus, instead of on ourselves and our behavior. If we as a church would be so bold as to focus only on Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do His job of changing us, not only would we see Susie show up at church again, but she would bring her entire neighborhood block with her to hear the good news of the gospel!

What to Do When Life’s Not Fair

If you’ve ever watched children playing together, I’m sure you’d agree that it can be so simplistically fun! The giggling, smiling faces, and innocent chatter all takes you back to the simple days of when you were a kid. When there was not a care in the world; when everything was happy…

“That’s Not Fair!”

Suddenly you’re snapped back into reality as the children break into a series of fits and tears. One of the children has taken the ball when it wasn’t his turn. Or one little girl won’t share the baby doll with the other little girls. Whatever the case, the atmosphere has changed. These kid’s minds and emotions are now stuck in the land of “That’s not fair!”

Getting Unstuck

Every one of us has at some point or another had a “That’s not fair!” experience:

  • Maybe you were hurt in a relationship.
  • Maybe you were passed up for that promotion that everyone knows you deserved.
  • Maybe your parents neglected you as you were growing up.
  • Maybe you were discriminated against because of your race.
  • Maybe you received a negative report from the doctor.
  • Maybe you have been picked on because of your weight.

On top of that, I’ve noticed that some people become “stuck” in these experiences. It’s very possible that an unfair event can be put your life on hold if you don’t get over the hurdle of pain and disappointment that it leaves.

If you find yourself stuck in the land of “That’s not fair!” I want to share some tips that can get you moving onward and upward.

Just Let it Go

As much as we want life to be fair all the time, we can’t be so naïve as to think that only good things will happen. Life on this earth is full of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Good and bad things happen to us all.

You may have a right to be hurt or offended by your “That’s not fair!” experience, but where will that eventually get you?   Don’t waste your energy dwelling on the past – things that cannot be changed. Save your energy to make positive change for the future.

I am not minimizing what may have happened to you. Some events may leave a scar on your heart forever. However, you are the only one who can decide how this will shape your life. Will you allow it to make you bitter – or better?

Extract Good Out of the Bad

Regardless of what unfair event has happened to you, look for the good you can extract from it.

My good friend Rose and I were talking the other day about a myriad of subjects. We were discussing everything from how women have to deal with the burden of shaving our legs – to my three separate battles with breast cancer. I revealed to Rose, “All the hair on my body grew back after those last chemotherapy treatments, except for the hair on my legs. I don’t have to shave my legs anymore! What a great outcome of the cancer!”

I’ll admit that’s kind of a silly example, but here’s the point: You must make a conscious effort to find the good in your situation. Did that experience made you stronger? Has it caused you to be more sensitive to others who are going through the same thing? Did it teach you lessons that you otherwise would not have learned?

 Look for the good in your “That’s not fair!” situation, and you will see your attitude change dramatically.

Get Connected Spiritually

Without that spiritual connection, it’s easy to feel like you’re just a random dot on the map with no meaning or purpose. In order to get past the hurdles of hurts and pains, it is critical to realize that they are all part of your ultimate purpose and plan.

Let’s take a diamond as an example. A diamond is formed from deep within the earth, alone and in darkness. After years and years of intense heat and pressure, this lump of coal endures its experience to become an incredibly valuable stone.

God sees you as a diamond in the rough. He wants to take those negative experiences in your life to turn you into a better, stronger, wiser, more loving person. Every event in your life is allowed so that you can be shaped into the person you need to be in order to achieve your ultimate purpose destiny.

The Bible says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)


The Secret to Feeling Good About Yourself

If I had a dollar for every book or seminar written on improving self-esteem, I would be absolutely rich. There is no shortage of authors or motivational speakers with how-to solutions on “five quick tips to boost your self-image”, or “feel better about yourself in 12 easy steps”.

But here’s the problem: You’ve finished that book or returned from that seminar and you DO feel great about yourself – for about two days. Then reality begins to settle in again;

  • Your boss is upset with you because you overlooked something at work;
  • Your kid has labeled you as the worst parent in the world because you wouldn’t allow them to go to a concert;
  • You made a mistake on that project and now you can’t stop beating yourself up.

In today’s world, it can be tough to feel good about yourself on a regular basis. This is an issue I see with many, many people – and I feel compelled this month to share with you what has worked for me. Many attempts to find self-esteem are at best temporary, because they do not address the root of the issue. So, here is what I have found to bring life-long self-esteem.

The Real Secret…

There is sometimes a tendency to separate our lives into categories: Who you are at work may be different from who you are at home. Who you are at home may be different from who you are at church. Who you are at church even be different from who you are at work. The truth is, you are one whole person – body, mind and spirit – and the three cannot operate individually. And your spirit – the most important of them all – has a great affect on your physical being, as well as your way of thinking.

To realize your own personal value, I have found that it’s important to see things in a spiritual light. Tonight, take a moment to look out at the stars. It’s a wonderful reminder that here is so much more to this world – this universe – this existence – and you are a part of it all.

The key to attaining true self-esteem is realizing that you are not here on earth by happenstance. You are not just a living “blob” created without purpose. The first step to discovering your true, authentic self is acknowledging that you are a wonderfully made by a Creator – a designer – a God.

All great designers – whether they are engineers, seamstresses, or artists – have the ability to create unique pieces of work. They put their heart – their very being – into what they have created. And the finished product is something truly special. It’s something to be valued and admired.

God is the ultimate Designer. Because He loves you, He has designed with you with great care and purpose. Begin to see yourself as that unique piece of work.

The pastor of our church has a favorite saying. He constantly reminds the congregation, “You are who God says you are!”

This means that you must not lean on other people to define who you are and what you stand for. It doesn’t matter what others say about you. When it really comes down to it, it doesn’t even matter how you see yourself! What truly counts is agreeing with how God sees you.

The opinion of others, including your own opinion of yourself, can change from day to day. To see yourself as a truly valuable person, you must have a “gauge” that will not fluctuate based on your circumstances. The opinion of the One who created you does not change depending on how you “performed” that day. Each and every day, His opinion of you is, “You are my unique and special creation, and I love you!”

You ARE valuable. You ARE gifted. You ARE loved.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve been through. Real self-esteem comes when your thoughts and actions align with who God says you are. This is where you find your true, authentic self – the person whom you will highly esteem!

Coaching tip: Ask yourself this question: Is your self-esteem based on what others think of you? Is it based on how you think you “perform” on a daily basis? If you answered “yes” to either, I challenge you to take 10 minutes tonight to look out into the stars. Speak to God our Creator and ask Him what He thinks of you. And please share with me what you experience!

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Do We Need the 10 Commandments to Succeed?

As Christians, does our personal and professional success rely on being obedient to God’s laws?  Not so much as you may think.  Frankly,I think that we’ve all watched Cecil B. DeMille’s “The 10 Commandments” epic one time too many.

Although I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, let me explain why this statement is true.

We must remember that as Christians, we are not in the same position as the Israelites who cowered before God at the foot of Mount Sinai. Like the Israelites, we sometimes believe that if we  follow the letter of the law, then God will bless us. But if we fail in any area, then we believe that because we have not obeyed God, then we could lose that blessing. Because of wrong teaching and our wrong believing, we find ourselves bound under requirements of the 10 Commandments (the Law), which of course we can never live up to.

Contrary to popular belief, the 10 Commandments were not given to us as a gift to help us to become better people. In fact, the Bible calls them “the ministry of death”, and “the ministry of condemnation”. (Yes, that’s what they’re called…check out II Corinthians 3:6-9!)

Do not hear me incorrectly. The Law is perfect. The Law is Holy. The Law is from God, and it is just. But that’s where the problem lies. It’s so perfect, holy and just that we as humans can never live up to it.

And that is exactly why Jesus came on the scene.

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)

Because the Law is perfect, Jesus was the only one who could fulfill it. And He did it on our behalf so that instead of God’s wrath, we would receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17). When you come to believe in the finished work of Jesus, you are no longer under the law, but you are now under grace.

What does this mean for you personally and professionally? Being under grace means that God has empowered you to succeed at everything you do. He wants you to have that new job. He wants you to get that promotion. He wants you to discover and walk in your purpose. You don’t ever have to wonder if you have earned God’s blessing. In fact, you can be confident that He has plans to bless you, to give you to hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

Am I saying that because we are not under the law anymore, that’s it’s okay to sin? I’ll let Paul answer that question for me…

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! (Romans 6:15).

When we believe in Jesus by faith, we immediately become free from the requirements of the Law, which means that we are also free from it punishments. But that does not mean that we can live however we want. Instead, we are now free to allow the Holy Spirit to TEACH us how to live a better life. Grace causes us to sin LESS, not more.

In order to truly experience these blessings, you have to believe that God wants to unconditionally bless you, regardless of your sin. If you were looked over for that promotion, don’t fall for the lie that it is because you weren’t obedient enough to God. If you didn’t get that job that you applied for, don’t believe it’s because God is punishing you for your sin. If things don’t work out your way, instead know that God may be protecting you from something that is not in your best interest. Because you now live under grace, you can trust that He has something better for you!

As a believer in Jesus, you now live under grace, not the law. No longer do you need to roam around the foot of Mount Sinai, trying to earn what you already have. The 10 Commandments have done their job perfectly. They’ve brought you to Christ. Thank them, go on your way, and walk in freedom knowing that by grace, you are in good standing with God. You are free to succeed!

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Your Destiny – A Hidden Treasure!

My favorite types of movies are those like “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “The Mummy” and “National Treasure”. Oh, the adventure; the intrigue; the excitement! It completely engrosses me within the first five minutes of the movie! If you happen to pop one of these types of movies into your Blu-ray player, I’m there – WITH the popcorn!

What attracts me most to these movies is one element they share in common: that mysterious, coveted secret treasure! There is something about searching for that hidden fortune that makes a great story line on the movie screen. And the same goes for finding the hidden treasure for your life!

Why Are You Here?

The more clients that I coach, the more I realize that people are desperately searching for that hidden treasure in their own lives. They are asking the questions:

  • What am I supposed to be doing with my life?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • How do I find my destiny?

If you feel frustrated because you have not yet discovered your life purpose, you are not alone. “Why am I here on this earth?” is a mighty big question; like the heroes in the movies, it often can take time, energy and multiple challenges before you finally discover the hidden treasure within you.

Here are the four keys you should consider to help you find and live out your personal destiny:

Keys to Discovering Your Destiny

1. The very first step you want to take is to ask yourself, “Who am I…really?” This may sound like a simple question, but it is important that you search within yourself to look for the deeper answers. What energizes you? What makes you sad? What makes you happy? If you had the power to change ONE thing on this earth, what would it be?

2. Remove the limitations! Do not limit your personal destiny to what you see around you. Recognize that your purpose may be something that you have not even heard of yet – you might create a new path/direction that no one else has ever pursued!

3. Free yourself up to be in a better position to think, meditate and pray. Get rid of the things in your life that are distracting you, taking up your energy, keeping you stuck in a rut. When there is a lot of noise going on in your mind, it is often hard to hear yourself think – much less hear from God! If you want to uncover your true purpose in life, you will need to create time and space to hear something other than the day-to-day “chatter” that goes on.

4. Take a personal inventory of all your gifts, abilities, and talents. Don’t consider any ability as “small” or insignificant. It could be that you have become so used to having a certain gift, that you consider it to be common, when it is in fact unique! What do you enjoy doing just for the sheer joy of doing it? What comes naturally for you? This could be a clue pointing to your God-given purpose!

Uncovering your unique destiny is a process that requires intentionality.  If you are ready to move forward and begin walking in your life purpose, I can assure you that this is the most exciting journey you will ever take.  Know that here will be twists and turns.  There might be delays and detours.  But if you are committed to this amazing quest, you can be sure that the rewards are like no other!

Get Rid of “Trashy” Thinking

If you are looking for a great movie to watch next weekend, I suggest “The Peaceful Warrior”, a movie that came out several year ago, starring Nick Nolte and Scott Mechlowicz. This inspiring film is a true story based on a college athlete, Dan Millman, who overcame incredible odds to tap into new realms of strength and victory. His mentor, a mysterious man of great wisdom, imparted into him the greatest lesson of all time; that in order to be a successful human being, he would have to learn how to get rid of his “trashy” thinking.

What he was referring to is the internal battle that takes place inside the mind. Whether we are aware of it or not, there are conversations going on in our minds all the time, some positive, others negative. These conversations have a profound effect on how we see ourselves – and ultimately what we are able to accomplish.

These dialogues turn into engrained thoughts and limiting beliefs that have the ability to keep you from reaching your full potential. Let’s take an example: You sense that God is calling you to move in a certain career direction, to fulfill what you believe is your life purpose. You currently don’t have the training you think that you need to get into this career, and your finances are limited. Not only that, but you are also keenly aware of your personal weaknesses, and that your life is not exactly spotless from sin.

“Trashy” dialogue in your mind might sound something like this:

– “I’m not qualified to do great things”
– “What if I fail?”
– I’m struggling because God is trying to teach me a lesson”
– “God loves me, but won’t use me until I get my act together.”

This type of thinking is contrary to God’s personality, and how He sees you. As a believer in Jesus, it is important that you see yourself as qualified (Romans 8:30), victorious (I Corinthians 15:57), and a child of a loving, giving Father (Galatians 4;6,7).

So how to we get rid of “trashy” thinking?

1. Recognize when negative dialogues are going on in your head. Keep in mind that your head is not a superhighway, with no control of the thoughts that race through it.

To combat this thinking, imagine putting up a “toll gate” in your mind. As a thought begins to passes through, recognize that you have the power to allow it to continue, or to shut it down. Tell the thought, “If you don’t have a positive impact on me or others, you’re not allowed to go any further.”

2. Focus your thoughts on ideas that are good, true and positive (Philippians 4:8). Give others the benefit of the doubt. Stop to smell the roses. Take a moment to notice the little things that surround you. Then resist the negative thought by saying replacing it with a positive promise that God has made to you.

Taking hold of these “trashy” thoughts are not always easy when you are not even aware that they are happening.  However, I have seen amazing changes happen very quickly for my coaching clients who learned how to recognize what is going on in their minds.  Through coaching exercises and practice, they have learned to successfully take command over this type of negative thinking.  When you can powerfully take every thought captive and discover the secret of conditioning your thinking to be Jesus-focused, you will be amazed to see your stress levels decreasing, your overall satisfaction with life skyrocketing, and miracles flourishing in your life!

If you’d like to learn how to get rid of the “trashy” thinking that is going on in your own mind, then let’s talk!

Leave the Details to God!

If you’re like me, you’ve at one time or another pressed God for more details!

I’ve made comments like, “Lord, I need you to tell me what’s going to happen.” “Would you please let me in on where we’re going?” Or, how about this one: “if only I knew what you wanted me to do, I would gladly do it – but I don’t have any idea!”

After years of asking those questions, I finally realized that God has a very good reason for not giving me too much information in advance; because I have had a tendency to take the ball, run with it, get way ahead of him, and possibly mess things up!

Instead, I have found that He gives me just enough information to take the next step toward my destiny.

The Bible gives a great account of this idea in action. In the Book of Acts, Jesus had just defied the laws of the universe and by the power of God, rose to life again! Before ascending to Heaven, He gathered his disciples to instruct them on continuing the work that He had begun: He told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait to receive the Holy Spirit. Pretty simple instructions, wouldn’t you say?

Looking for much more detailed (and complicated) instructions, they asked Him, “Is this when you’re going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus told them in so many words, “Don’t you worry about all that. You just do what I said – go and wait on the Holy Spirit.”

The disciples had their own idea of how Jesus was going to restore the kingdom of God.
“What’s hanging out in Jerusalem and waiting for the Holy Spirit got to do with anything?” they must have wondered. But, with an open mind, they went where Jesus told them to go. As a result, they found something they never expected; and in the process, their destiny and purpose were revealed!

When searching for our purpose and direction in life, we often times don’t want to make any choices or movement until we get the whole picture. This can keep us paralyzed and stuck in one place, waiting to get all the information we think we need before moving forward. As a result, days, months and even years can be wasted, lost to frustration and dissatisfaction.

Be bold and brave enough to take that next step toward your goal or dream. Don’t worry about what you need to do 20 steps down the road. Don’t worry if the outcome is going to give you the final result you’re looking for. Don’t worry about taking a wrong turn. Instead, remember that if you don’t do things just perfect, God is big enough to find you and turn you back in the right direction!

You’ve heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. Sometimes your true purpose is found the same way – one step at a time, one trial at a time, one experiment at a time.

So, what are you waiting for? Take that next step that’s right in front of you…and move forward!