Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What do you want?

It’s a valid question. One we should all contemplate. I have always answered that question with I want to know and feel the smile of God on my life. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Flows nicely off the lips. But what does that mean? What would that look like in my life?

To figure that out I thought of the times I knew for certain God smiled on my life. I figured it would have something to do with writing since that has been both my vocation and avocation for as long as I can remember. Remarkably, though, it is not directly related. The times I knew for certain God smiled on me were when people were helped even in just some small way.

The help didn’t have to be life-changing. For years I taught adult Sunday School. Many adult class members, fellow strugglers along life’s path, told me that the classes meant something to them, made an impact on their life in some way. One woman made a decision to go back to school and pursue a career directly because of the things she discovered in the class. Tears were shed as eyes were opened to truth. And God smiled.

Many times sitting in a meeting, I am prompted to give financially to a cause. Years ago it was $10 because that is all I had. I don’t really write many checks any more because I give to most of my causes through my account online. I love to type in the numbers because I know God rejoices when I do. It’s like he’s saying, “She gets it, she finally gets it! It’s about giving back what she's given. It’s about holding all things loosely.” And God smiled.

Last week I was privileged to meet an amazing young lady who has chosen to follow God in a ministry of prayer and intercession. At age 19, without the support of her parents, it is a scary journey. God told me to give her everything in my wallet. Usually that would be about 10 cents but because I had made several out of town trips, I had gotten cash several times. I have no idea how much was there. All I know is it was what God said to give so, it was enough. And God smiled.

In 2003, God started me on a journey towards having weight reduction surgery. It was a scary proposition, but one he confirmed to me over and over again. The main confirmation came during a church service where our pastor at the time spoke about how God can break the chains that bind us. It was a turning point service, an epiphany, really. I wept and told him I would do whatever he required of me and I did. And God smiled.

Scripture speaks to me over and over and over again. One that has been motivational for me is Isaiah 30:21. It basically says if you’re walking along you will hear a voice behind you saying no this is the way whenever you turn to the right or to the left. I discovered that verse reading through the Bible one year. Imagine how amazed I was to find out that as I shared it, others knew about it as well. To me it says it’s important to keep walking because it’s in taking the steps that God can direct me and let me know if I’m veering off the path. So, I decided the importance of embarking on a life of walking out in faith, not knowing for sure. And God smiled.

In the last few months I have been privilege to begin life coaching some amazing women. Amazing because they all have such awesome hunger for doing what God wants of their life. As I have questioned them, listened to them, cried with them, I have learned something valuable. We don’t have to do anything to receive God’s love. He already loves us just as we are. The video I posted below says it so much better than I. But it so true and that truth is permeating my hardened shell. As it does, it is contagious and spreads to those I'm talking with, sharing with, loving with. Lately, as I have sat with a woman, spent time with her helping her discover purpose, talked with her, heard her heart I could just see God sitting in his heavenly recliner, sipping a lemonade, watching the movie that is us playing out before him. You know what he did, right? And God smiled.

That’s what I want. I want more of that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

There can be miracles

Is there some part of your life that seems like a disconnect? Are there things you know you need to do but just can't seem to get started doing? Are there people or relationships that aren't working? In short do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you need a miracle Let me tell you about what for me was a series of small miracles to help me get my life on the right track in several areas. Life coaching.

What is a life coach and why would I need one? Well, first of all let’s talk about what a life coach is not. A life coach is not your mommy or daddy or best friend forever. They are not a counselor, therapist or psychiatrist. They are not your thought police, your agenda-setter or your number-one rescuer. They will not solve all your problems, set all your goals or climb all your mountains. In short, they are not miracle workers.

A life coach is a mentor, an accountability partner, a questioner, one who challenges you to be better. A life coach is a friend who sees where you are, where you want to go and helps challenge you to set goals to get there. They see the big picture, as well as the small pieces of the puzzle that have been hiding from you in plain sight. They are another set of eyes and ears, another heart, to look at your journey with you. They are the person you can count on to ask the tough questions and wait for you to discover the answers.

Using a simple book Conversations on Purpose for Women, your life coach will listen to your answers to some interesting topics and questions. Believe me, it is in the questions and the conversations that change begins as your trained life coach gently nudges and challenges you to discover where you are stuck and how you can move forward.

Ever wonder why you might be so resistant to setting and keeping a budget, exercising, starting a college class, cleaning house or any one of a myriad of other well-meaning overall goals? Many times there is disconnect between what you have good intentions of doing and what your overall values are. For instance if you place more value on having time to play with your children, maybe the house won’t get cleaned. But if you really want both, then you have a disconnect. Sometimes, we need a life coach to help us define and take those fist steps.

Life coaching is about helping you find your reason for being and, then, working toward it with all diligence. It is about ordering your priorities and life goals to achieve what you can only now dream about. It’s about learning to dream. It’s about focusing on the positives in your life and taking full advantage of them so that the dreams can become a reality.

You might say, “That would be a miracle.” The truth is nothing happens if no one moves. Without action, no change is made. And waiting for someone or something to change only succeeds in nothing different happening. The other truth is miracles still happen today. We hear about them every day. Mostly they happen to those who are doing something. They happen to those who believe enough to dare to take the first step. For many that first step is placing themselves in partnership with a life coach And for them, that is where the miracle begins.

“There can be miracles when you believe. Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill. Who knows what miracles you can achieve when you believe? Somehow you will. You will when you believe.” (When You Believe by Stephen Swartz from The Prince of Egypt sound track)

If you are interested in having a life coach or in becoming a life coach, feel free to email me for information, tparker@socket.net.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What Melts Your Heart Like Water?


What melts your heart like water?

When I ran across this phrase in the Bible I was intrigued. It’s one of those passages I had read before but never really stopped to contemplate this phrase. Imagine my surprise when I realized this passage is really about keeping your agreements.

To examine the phrase I looked at other passages where someone’s heart melted, once again like water, a third time like wax.

A curious phrase to be sure. In Joshua, where I first ran across the phrase, the army of Israel was taking the Promised Land. They had won a victory. In the victory, though, God had warned them not to take any plunder from the enemy and to burn everything. All of Israel agreed to this.

One man, out of the multiple thousands, did not keep his agreement. He took some loot and buried it. No one knew but God and Achen.

The next battle was a dismal disappointment. For a nation riding high on victory, backed by the promise of God that they could not fail, sending 3,000 men (a small portion of their army) up against what their spies had said was an easy victory and coming back defeated was as if God slapped them in the face.

The response of the entire nation was one of total despair, discouragement and depression. “At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water” (Joshua 7:5, NIV). Joshua led by God confronts Achan who admits to his sin. Achan. His family, all his livestock and possessions are destroyed.

A terrible punishment for a little sin, you say? Greed, don’t we all have it? Should we all die for this breach? A couple things come to mind about that. We all will face consequences for our desires that do not include God. God makes it clear in this situation that Achan chose his path. He agreed with the rest of the people to what God directed and then he willfully chose to violate that agreement. The result of his disobedience was swift and sure. The result of ours sometimes lingers for a lifetime.

Ezekiel warns the people that because of their disobedience, God will turn his back on them. When that happens, “Every heart will melt and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every knee become as weak as water” (Ezekiel 21:7).

David is afraid God has turned his back on him. He says, “I am poured out like water, and my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.” (Psalm 22:14).

As the Psalm progresses, though, David remembers the ways God has worked in his life and how his strength comes from God. In verse 25, he declares that he will fulfill his vows. Not only as an agreement between him and God, but before the people as well.

What melted hearts like water and wax in these three instances? The knowledge that they had not kept their agreements with the God of the universe.

I have to admit, just thinking about the ways I have not kept my agreements with God, turns my heart to water. Vowing again to keep them is intimidating in itself. I am reminded, though, of the ways God has worked in my life. He has kept his promises to me. As a matter of fact, he sent his son to die a hideous death because he knew I, like Achan, could not keep my all of my promises to him.

Christ’s death on the cross, though, is not an excuse to ignore my agreements. It is even more of a reason to keep them.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way: “Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor. 5:13-15, NIV).

He goes on to say that the way to keep your agreement with Christ is to unite with him. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor 5:17, NLT).

This would be a great place to end this article on the upbeat. But anyone who has been a Christian for awhile knows that following Christ is not a simple matter even though we are living a new life and have the Spirit of God within us. Paul goes on to tell us 2 Cor. 6 of all the things he has endured. You can see the list there in short he says he has endured troubles, hardships and calamities of every kind.

There will certainly be tests of your faith, tests of how well you are keeping your agreements with the Spirit of God Almighty who, by the way, knows if you are or not.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5, NIV). And that, my friend, would melt my heart . . . like water.