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Prepare Your Heart For Christmas – Advent #1

You prepare for Christmas in so many ways. But how do you prepare your heart? It’s a challenge. This treasured holiday is a time for celebration, cheer, friends, family, and worship. However, because Christmas has become highly commercialized, it takes skill and pensive preparation to fully participate in the hustle and bustle without losing it’s meaning.

This is the first in a series to help prepare your heart for Christmas. Each week we will light another candle in our hearts as a statement of preparation in Advent. Read More …

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Thankful While Busy

As I’ve been preparing for a mostly traditional Thanksgiving meal, I’ve been reminded how much planning and preparation goes into special celebrations we hold dear. These are added onto regular activities and responsibilities of each day. So, managing everything during the holiday season is critical. Additionally, remembering there are many reasons to be thankful while busy keeps you centered. Read More …

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Do You Wonder About Prayer?

Sometimes I wonder about prayer. How to pray most effectively. Do my prayers make a difference? Sometimes I wonder how to engage this precious relationship with an invisible person. I know it’s critical, and I’ve engaged it for many years. But in our physical, visible daily reality, going after invisible qualities can be hard to define. Do you ever wonder about things like that? Or do you wonder about prayer? Read More …

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Rise Up Higher

While reading a favorite author recently, I noticed new ideas I’d missed from reading them in the past. These ideas encouraged me to keep going after something God placed in my heart years ago. What was that? “Rise Up Higher.” After pursuing this for years, I can tell you – it’s a really good place! “Rise Up Higher” has so many practical applications. Enjoy this content. Read More …

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Trick or Treat – Real Life

This week in many communities, you will hear the phrase, “trick or treat.” Fall is in full swing. Candy. Caramel apples. Cider – hot or cold. Chilly air and colored leaves (in some geographies). Hayrides. Some folks decorate their yard for Fall. Others prefer a Harvest Party with games, costumes, stories, and pumpkins. But these festivities don’t change the reality – trick or treat is real life. Read More …

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G-S-G-S-R. It works!

For centuries, people have used codes, acronyms, and gimmicks to help them succeed. When I work to memorize a Scripture or helpful idea, I often need to use some kind of “hack” (tool) to get it in my brain! I want to share a surprising find that promotes success in my daily perspective. I remember it like this: G-S-G-S-R. And . . . it works! Read More …

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Under Feathers

Feathers have captivated people for centuries. Inventors and scientists have studied flight by looking at birds, wings, and feathers. Artists use various mediums to capture the beauty of feathers. Coincidentally, there are still folks who make down pillows and comforters with softest feathers. Kids adore fluffy, colored feathers for fun projects. Feathers have been used for insulation. At one point in history, the best arrows were made using feathers. Today’s content is about being under feathers. Read More …

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Partner With God Using 4 L’s

Some years back, I had an opportunity to lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in several decades. This person was a special influence in my growth and development. I was truly excited about catching up. With great anticipation, I marked the calendar. When the day came, I was a bit nervous after so many years. But I found the lunch to be one of the most fun and meaningful days I’d had in a long time. And I remembered how this friend had influenced me to partner with God. Read More …

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Me? Make A Difference?

Do you ever wonder how you can possibly make a difference in this world? You! With your one life! But the reality is that you can have practical influence in culture and other lives. You can make a difference. Read More …

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The Skinny On Sinning

So, what’s “the skinny?” Apparently, the skinny on something is “the true information about someone or something that is not known by most people . . . Give me the inside/straight/real skinny.” (Merriam-Webster) The skinny is revealing some secret information. With that in mind, what’s the skinny on sinning? Read More …

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When You Feel Empty

When I was a kid, I had an effective way of finishing a milk shake. A straw worked for most of it. But when I got down to those final noisy slurps, I worked with gravity. Turning the cup upside-down brought last drops to me. But when that was over, I stuck my tongue in as far as I could to gather up remaining morsels. THEN – my cup was truly empty! Nothing left! Satisfying, but also disappointing. Sometimes life drains your cup. That’s when you feel empty. It can be satisfying, but also disappointing. Read More …

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God Likes You

Remember when you made your first friend as a child? Or maybe you had a roommate you just clicked with when you went to college? It may have been a person you connected strongly with on your first job assignment. Whoever and wherever – you just got this feeling inside – “I think I like you!” It may come as a surprise but that’s how God feels about you. God likes you! Read More …

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Ordinary People Make A Global Difference

We hear about prominent figures, television personalities, world leaders, famous authors. But most of us are ordinary people – not famous. We care about the state of our world as we hear of countries being ravaged and individuals without food, water, medicine. We sigh as the news highlights tragedies in our own communities. Many ordinary people care about showing God’s love in practical ways. So, we ask: How can I ever make a difference in this huge world? I’m one of the ordinary people! Read More …

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Nature’s Diamonds

The beauty of creation is all around us. Its wonder is a testimony of God’s glory and presence even in our broken world. What a privilege to absorb the displays, relax in its calm, and explore its wisdom, precision, and wonders. With numbered days, we should ponder Nature’s Diamonds often. You have a choice in a world of upheaval. “I calm and quiet my soul.” (Ps. 131:2) Read More …

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Attitudes And The Christian

There is such power in attitudes that affect your life – and other lives, too. The power is enough to turn the direction of an individual, a culture group, a community, even an entire nation. So the power is significant. In fact, attitudes can set your path for a long time. That’s why we should be aware of them and choose carefully. Read More …

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I Have To Be Right!

Have you ever been told – “You always have to be right!”? Likely it’s been said to you – or to someone else – often by “that guy!” Does it ever “bug” you that a certain person just always has to be right? Maybe you are that person. (click to read / listen for helpful tips) Read More …

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ACM: A Tool To Build Noble Character

Keeping track of all the details in life is challenging. How do you track things in your life? Your workload, diet, property care and home chores? What about bill deadlines, healthcare appointments, fun with friends. To stay on top, you need a good tool. Tracking your spiritual development and growth in noble character requires a good tool, too.

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Roots Up

The other day, I was pulling weeds in my vegetable garden. Fortunately, I found and uprooted most of the “little guys.” But there were some weeds that had been growing a bit longer. They were stubborn and tough. I had to get my fingers right down at their entrance into the earth, take a “death grip,” and pull with my whole body – just to get those “bigger guys” out of my garden! From the roots up, those weeds were supported . . . until my hands came along! Read More …

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Need A Miracle?

I’m sure you’ve heard stories of people who died but came back to life. Some have been miraculously healed of serious diseases. There are stories of amazing financial provisions – down to the penny needed. Imminent tragedies have “somehow” dissipated. People have prayed for rain in drought and received it. These kinds of things are on the list of “Big Deal Miracles.” But most of us just need a regular miracle – something to encourage our hearts. I also think we get so focused on our own stuff that we miss the entire list of “Super Special Small Miracles” that happen each day. Do you need a miracle?

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When You Are Weary

I’ve been listening attentively to the news these recent months. Our world sounds weary. And since the globe is made up of individuals – like you and me – I’m guessing you may feel some weariness, too. In addition to managing weariness of your personal life, you likely feel some fall-out from all that’s going on globally. When you are weary, may you be encouraged by today’s content.

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Turn The Light On For Direction: 7 Steps

One of the first things you do when you walk into a room is turn the light on. That enables you to see everything, prevents falls, and helps you find your way. A light makes your environment feel more welcome. And it’s sure easier to find a misplaced item. But here’s the question: if it’s easy to turn a light on in a room, why is it harder to turn the light on inside you?

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Why Don’t I Change?

Someone once told me being a follower of Jesus is exclusive of behaviors, and it’s only about God’s love and their heart. “Behaviorism” is a term that was used. I’ve prayerfully and extensively thought about this perspective. God has blessed this pensive exploration with some interesting ideas. It has to do with “why don’t I change?”

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The Magic Of Being Alive And Active

It’s challenging to be alive and active each day. Global situations bring concerns, fears, and insecurities. Losses and deep disappointments get in the way of living free. This world is writhing with threats against peace. Even so, you can discover the magic of being alive and active.

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What’s In Your Hand?

God always has a plan that includes the entire world. Without question, it also includes you! His big picture plan for the world and His individual plan for your life come together when we ask a question – “What’s in your hand?”

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True Story of Faith

  Today’s content is an inspiring, modern-day testimony of ordinary folks like you and me. It shows that responses to disappointments and unknowns in life can be a true story of faith. While struggling to find good answers, hoping for best outcomes, accepting developments that alter one’s path – faith still matters and steadies your steps. (This is Part 7, the final article, in a series on faith. See below for the entire Faith Series articles/podcasts links.)

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Who Can You Trust These Days?

Have you noticed people don’t easily trust these days? On the other hand, I’ve noticed sometimes people trust too quickly or naively. There are times, if we are deep-down honest, we can’t even fully trust ourselves. We know our perspective may be skewed, our character isn’t always noble, and our judgment can be flawed. So, who can you trust these days, especially with increasing global uncertainty? (This is Part 6 in a series on faith.  See below for the entire Faith Series articles/podcasts links.)

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Faith And Family

There are two concepts people all over the world cling to: Faith and Family. These ideas mean different things to each person. Yet they are a bedrock for people of any culture. Interestingly, the ideas of Faith and Family are interwoven, and it all starts in the heart of God. (This is Part 5 in a series on faith. See below for the entire Faith Series articles/podcasts links.)

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Grow Up In Faith – 4 Tips

Go back with me into your childhood – as far back as you can remember. What comes to mind? Maybe special people who love you, or a very special day. Maybe a favorite toy or snack. A dear childhood “pal” may come to mind. You may have some painful or disappointing memories, as well. All through years of growing up, you change. This is also true of growing up in your faith in God. What are you doing to grow up in faith? (This is Part 4 in a series on faith. See below for the entire Faith Series articles/podcasts links.)

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Fresh Faith For You

  Recently, I wrote a letter to a friend. As I re-read and pondered my message, I realized there was a stunning, fresh faith application point in my letter – for me! It was simple, yet profound. I’ve thought a lot about this ever since. That message boiled down to one word. Want to know what I wrote? (This is Part 3 in a series on faith. See below for the entire Faith Series articles/podcasts links.)

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Faith Jump!

Have you watched paratroopers flinging themselves from the safety of an aircraft into the vast skies at a very unsafe height?  To accomplish their mission, they just . . . JUMP! Paratroopers are equipped and trained to do something super scary and hard for most people. But for them, it’s as natural as walking. In the same way, living by faith can seem super scary and hard. It takes a daring leap. But with practice and determination, you can be just as equipped and trained as a paratrooper. So, are you ready for a faith jump? (This is Part 2 in a series on faith. See below for the entire Faith Series articles/podcasts links.)

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Ever Run Out Of Heroes?

Everyone needs heroes, especially in difficult times – someone to look to for inspiration, courage, and noble character. Have you ever run out of heroes? Sometimes it’s hard to find a hero who lives an Alive and Active Life. This content is about some ordinary people who are faith heroes. (This is Part 1 in a series on faith. See below for the entire Faith Series articles/podcasts links.)

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Special Ways God Loves You

  There is an alarming development over the past several years. People wonder if they actually matter. These “wonderings” happen deep in people’s hearts. Depression has broken some. Discouragement wraps devastating effects around serious global developments. Pandemic, natural disasters, wars and rumors of wars, global warming, political unrest. I think it’s time for a strong look at Special Ways God Loves You. May you be encouraged as you connect with the God who loves you.

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What Does God’s Face Look Like?

Ever wonder what God looks like? I remember being intrigued with this as a child. What does God look like? How about Jesus? There were no phone cameras back when Jesus lived on earth. So we have no pictures. We don’t have any life portraits of the God, either. So a lot is left to imagination. Still, God’s Word gives clues – not about God’s physical appearance. Rather, it paints a masterful portrait of God’s nature, personality, and character. And it uses characteristics of God’s face as a tool to communicate His appearance.

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What Can I Do?

On the big scale of the world, so much is out of your control. Events happen and history is changed. You can feel pretty small when your life is lined up next to global issues. Still, your own life affects history. So, as you consider your life in the world, your community, family, career, you may wonder – “Realistically, what can I do? How can my life matter?”

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There’s Comfort In A Sandwich

In the movie, “The Kid,” Bruce Willis plays Russ Duritz, a grown-up under stress. He regresses to a form of comfort when he was a kid – a sandwich. He begins to make one and repeatedly says – “There’s safety in a sandwich!” As he tries to convince himself in his self-dialogue, he grips his almost finished sandwich and flips it around expressively while talking. Alfalfa sprouts fly everywhere. Then lettuce flips out. It’s not much of a sandwich any more. Many people think there’s comfort in a sandwich.

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Peace For Troubled Times

The way things are lining up these days in the world, many people are concerned about peace. It’s true – we do need peace for troubled times. But – things as they are – what does that look like? So – today we are talking about Peace For Troubled Times.

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Balanced Living

All it takes is putting your foot in the wrong place – and down you go! It could be stairs, slippery ice, low-traction pavement, carpet that catches your shoe, a wet floor, or even somebody sticking their foot out in front of you. It’s so easy to get tripped off balance. And losing your balance can mean a nasty fall. Have you had a fall recently? Do you have balanced living?

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Affairs of Your Heart

What exactly are affairs of your heart? How do you manage them? Perhaps we could rearrange the words and ask – – in your heart, what is the state of affairs going on in there?

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God’s Love For You Is Sincere

When is the last time you considered God’s love for you? Do you ever feel distant from His love? Do you wish you could connect with His love in a more meaningful way? Well, God’s love for you is sincere. It’s powerful. Yes, God loves you, and that makes a huge difference in your daily living.

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Just Add Water

One of the things we’ve grown used to is the idea of “just add.” We like the idea that you can have something you just add a little something else to . . . and presto! You’ve got something of great value.

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A Plan to Become More Like Jesus

Remember that old saying – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Benjamin Franklin) It seems ‘ol Ben was onto something. This statement is true of almost everything in life. Just like failing to plan equals planning to fail – so developing a plan to become more like Jesus means succeeding. So why do followers of Jesus fail sometimes?

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How To Meet Your Needs

If you haven’t eaten in days, you need food. If you can’t sleep at night, you need help. When you find yourself without heat and it’s freezing cold outside, you have an urgent need. What about when you are in danger? That’s a need, too. Often those physical needs are easy to recognize and find help for. But what do you do with needs of your heart? Your soul? Your mind? Those needs are important, too. It’s time to wrap your arms around how to meet your needs in healthy ways.

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Someone Prays For You Always

Does it ever feel like your prayers bounce off the ceiling? There have been times I’ve wondered if my prayers make a difference. It seems everyone goes through experiences when it’s easy to be discouraged. Disappointments and injustices can knock the wind out of you. But little things still matter – like receiving a text, a notecard, a phone call, or even just a hug with the message “I’m praying for you often.” Knowing someone prays for you really helps. And it takes things to a new level to remember – someone prays for you always!

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Strategies Of Rest

  When you start something – a fun adventure, a new program or plan, a fresh commitment, A NEW YEAR – it’s easy to be excited. Fresh starts are a kind of power launch that thrust you forward. Still, with life demands and problem-solving each day, how can you live with strategies of rest after the newness of a launch wears off?

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Dot To Dot

Have you ever done one of those dot to dot pictures? You know, the ones where you take a pencil and connect all the dots in numerical order? When you are done connecting all the dots, you see a picture you created. It’s always a fun surprise to view the final image. This is an important consideration going into each new year. What dots will you be connecting this next year? What picture will you create?

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Fresh Blank Page

We are ending one year and approaching a new one! That brings unknowns and opportunities. The coming year will be filled with blessings, as well as challenges and troubles. Still, it’s like a fresh blank page on which you write more of your life story. What a fantastic privilege – and responsibility! What will you write on your fresh blank page this next year?

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Best Gift Ever!

  Best Gift Ever! What is the best gift you’ve ever received? Was this special present something you received when you were a child? Or does this memory come from when you were a teen? Maybe your most favorite present came after you became an adult. Whenever you received it, you likely still remember it as the best gift ever!

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God Cares About Holiday Sadness

  If you’ve ever experienced sadness in the holidays, you know how hard it is to jump into cheer and celebration when your heart is hurting. Sometimes sadness is because life is hard all year, filled with losses, bad news, declining health, broken relationships. At times you can’t even pinpoint why you feel sad. Melancholy lingers even when you are grateful for many blessings. But Christmas is still going to come. So if you are sad, how do you get through the holiday sadness?

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Everyone Needs Compassion

In 2006, a song was released that talks about compassion. Everyone Needs Compassion! How about you? Do you need compassion for what you are going through? Maybe you need mercy, kindness, hope . . . and maybe even a sincere hug. Perhaps you think your “mountain-of-a-problem” can’t be moved. Or it’s impossible to be healed from your losses.

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Christmas In A Nutshell

What exactly does “in a nutshell” mean? And why talk about it as we approach the Christmas season? According to a phrases resource * I found, it means – “In a few words; concisely stated.” I suggest at this busy, exciting holiday time, getting Christmas in a nutshell might be helpful. So what does that look like?

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Doing Gratitude

As we enter the holiday seasons and the final portions of this year, most of us get pretty busy. Still, it’s essential to ask questions that matter most during these months of celebration. One question in particular often associated with Thanksgiving, affects life every day. What exactly is gratitude? Have you regularly asked yourself that question? I’ll throw in another question – “part B” to the first question. Are you “doing gratitude” each day?

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Gratitude Scale: Get Closer to a 10!

Thanksgiving! This holiday of gratitude is celebrated in various ways at different times of the year, depending on your country and culture. When is your Thanksgiving? How do you celebrate? If you had a Gratitude Scale that could measure how thankful you are, on a scale of 1 – 10, where do you fall?

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What Time Is It?

What do you use to tell time most often? A clock on the wall? Perhaps you wear a wrist watch or carry a pocket time piece. Many people use their phone clock. Some people are blessed to live in a college community with a bell that tolls the hour. Whatever you use – what time is it? In current culture, what time is it?  

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It Doesn’t Always Go Well

If you were to stand in the middle of a busy intersection of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, you’d get significant impressions. Besides being concerned for your safety, you’d also notice it doesn’t always go well. The hair-raising screech of tires and squeal of brakes in a near miss of cross traffic. A motorcycle driver almost clips you with his daring zig-zag around another car. A pedestrian pushes through and almost knocks others over. Someone does lose grip and drops a package. Then there’s the motorist in a hurry and blazes right through a red light. You are almost run over as a bicycler whips by you. On top of all that, there’s the airplane overhead much too low for comfort. You haven’t even thought about a possible pick-pocket.

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Scary Stories

Scary stories are scariest if you are in the story, but you don’t know what is going to happen. The risk is significant, the outcome is uncertain, and the danger is elevated. All the unknowns make scary stories hold your breath and hope things turn out OK. If you already know how things turn out, most of the “scary” is gone.

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Contentment

Have you noticed a lot of unrest all over the world recently? It’s sobering. And it affects people. Even folks who feel pretty stable are wondering – “What is going on these days?” There’s a complete lack of contentment, and people want to know how to respond to all this unrest. In a world of upheaval, what hope is there to regain a life of contentment? Jesus gives really great advice about contentment, and I think it’s super relevant right now.

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I Bet Your Life Is Like Mine

I bet your life is like mine. We are different as individuals, yet surely there are similarities! Let’s start here. Is your life ever filled with challenges and difficulties, losses and disappointments? Have you ever been pierced with tragedy? Have you experienced health issues? If you’ve lived several decades, you likely have more questions now than when you were younger, right? You might have had seasons of unexpected, undeserved poundings! Your sufferings may be from someone else’s terrible choices. So – what do you think? Any of this sound familiar? Is your life like mine?   Set The Pace For Your Life I could add even more to that first paragraph, but I won’t. Why? Because although there is more I could add of life’s hardships, trials, and challenges . . . there is another similarity also true for your life and mine. Our lives are filled with God’s blessings – all the time, every day. So many things to enjoy from relationships to creation to adventures to pleasures to advancements. The best blessing is God’s presence. These all co-exist alongside our difficulties. The person who is conscious of God and His blessings is the person who does well, even

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TRUE COLORS

I love autumn colors! I wait for them every year. In fact, autumn is my favorite time of year (next to Christmas celebrations). Incredible displays of color, the crisp, magical feel in the air, the cheer that rises. Gorgeous skies. Backyard firepits, s’mores, and hotdogs. Pulling out the warm, cozy sweaters. Yet, even as I enjoy the splashes of color that cheer the world, and as I indulge in the entire experience, the colors remind me of something else. It’s something that helps me, but it’s also rather sobering. It challenges me, too. And it all has to do with true colors. (Your area of the world may have already finished autumn colors, and you may have snow! Perhaps your area of the globe is warm year around. The lessons of true colors are still applicable to every person!) True Colors In The Community Before getting into today’s content, would you like to see some community colors? The trees on a walk through my neighborhood are majestic and beautiful. They give so much joy and draw my heart to the Creator. Notice the gorgeous colors against the moody fall skies. Some of the trees look like a paintbrush that an

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Harvest – How Is Your Yield This Year?

Did you plant any gardens this year? Maybe some veggies or flowers? Perhaps you have a patch of herbs. Or maybe a favorite front step potted plant. Farmers across the world have their own kind of (very large) gardens. So do businesses with green houses, orchards, or public farms. I had a garden this year, and I poured time and effort into it. Gardeners have something in common. They look for harvest of the crop they labored over – from produce to flowers to cash crops. How is your yield this year?

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Deceptive Cycles: Steps To Break Free

Deceptive Cycles Deceptive cycles have trapped most people at one time or other. You, me, pretty much everyone. These cycles are key enemy strategies to get God’s people to fail, live defeated, be burdened, and struggle with discouragement. Deception formed the original temptation of Adam and Eve. So, we are not alone. Still, this was never God’s plan. He wants you free to have an Alive and Active Life.

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How To Measure Your Motives

Recently, we explored 12 Qualities Of Noble Character and how critical it is to aim for excellence. In fact, I would add that people with noble character help change the world. We need more noble character around the world. If noble character is that important, and since Motives Matter – how do you measure your motives as you work to increase your own noble character? That’s the content of today’s material.

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Manage Feelings: A Bit Like Technology

  Managing Anything Is A Big Deal! Have you ever thought about how many things you manage in a day? It’s overwhelming. From a home and yard, to your budget. You manage health, weight, and wise shopping for food. How about keeping everything clean, fixed, ready to use? You manage your career, family, friendships. Even time-off needs management for constructive fun and rest. And – seriously – all your techie stuff needs managing. (Have you noticed?!) Computers, phones, devices, apps for everything you can imagine. There’s another thing you need to manage to have an Alive and Active Life. You need to manage your feelings.

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12 Qualities of Noble Character

When you think of noble character, who do you think of? Is it a famous person? Perhaps a friend. It might be a family member or a person of influence in your community. Maybe you would choose a person of past history. Whoever you think of, one thing is sure – noble character still matters.

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Got Power To Live An Alive and Active Life?

Do you remember the commercial years ago (maybe the 1990’s) – GOT MILK? In the commercial, everyone has a “milk mustache.” No one can argue the value of drinking milk – especially for children. Even adults relish a glass of milk with cookies. That creamy white drink has power to build strong bodies in youngsters as they grow. Babies can’t live without milk. But when little ones grow up they need more than milk to be strong. They need inner power to live an Alive and Active Life. So the question I ask you is – GOT POWER?

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I Just Don’t Care Anymore!

It’s been a rough couple of years! People are feeling it. Communities, countries, the global community have challenges and threats that are astronomical with limited solutions. In addition, it has become increasingly hard to know who to trust. All this upheaval can sometimes make a person feel – “I Just Don’t Care Anymore!”

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Depression Is Real: Some Help

Depression is real. It’s not something you aim for, but as life happens, depression sometimes visits. It’s real enough it must be managed. But so many people simply do not know how. People are looking for help and hope. There is help. And there is hope.

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The Peace Hand *

Take a look at your hand. Right now, just lift your hand up and look at it. All your fingers, thumb, and knuckles. Your hand is an incredible creation. In an allegorical manner of speaking, your hand was designed by God to be a Peace Hand with strength, control, and agility similarly to your physical hand.

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Your Small Piece of the BIG Life Puzzle

You hold a puzzle piece in your hands – only one piece of a very big puzzle. Sometimes you might hold several pieces at a time. Have you looked carefully at your piece(s)? What do you think those colors, shapes, and designs are part of?  Where do you fit? What do you do with one piece of a big life puzzle?

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How to Quit Sinning

Every believer in Jesus has struggled to quit sinning at some point. Things you don’t want to do, you seem to migrate toward. Things you do want to do, you seem helpless to carry out. It feels a bit like being trapped. Still, you want to please God and live a good life. There was a famous person who struggled to quit sinning. And they figured it out.

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The Sin List

Have you ever wondered what the worst sin is? Most people have some kind of sin list of “really bad sins.” Some folks have a list of “more permissible sins.” I guess the question that matters most is – does God have a sin list?

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Heart Atrophy = Stone Heart

Pause! Right now stop what you are doing. Put your hand over your heart – or place your fingers on your wrist to find your pulse. Be ever quiet and still as you feel the beat of your heart. That steady beat keeps you alive. Can you imagine how ineffective your heart would be if it was a stone heart?

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A Little Thing That Encourages

Sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up! Days can get pretty tough as the years slip by. Yet – there is encouragement for the taking – all around you. Little things here and there. Have you found God’s little thing that encourages today? I remember realizing years ago – it takes growing in alertness to notice God’s little thing that encourages. I’d like to share just a couple of examples from my life.

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He Loves Perfectly. We Can Love Better.

There are so many days I realize I could love better. If you are like me, you work hard to love the people in your life – family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even someone you meet as you run errands. But we know deep down we need to grow in love – for God and for one another. We are aware that He loves perfectly; we can love better.

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Wear ‘n’ Tear of Life!

You’ve heard of wash ‘n’ wear. Those are the garments you throw in the washer, then the dryer, and even if you miss the dryer buzzer, they don’t wrinkle. You pull them out, put them on, and off you go! They look great. We like to think of ourselves as wash ‘n’ wear. But many days, it’s more like wear ‘n’ tear! We start a day as wash ‘n’ wear . . . and end up as wear ‘n’ tear.

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Your 3 Most Important Keys

If I asked you what your 3 most important keys are – what would you say? Maybe the keys to your house, your car, and your _____________ . (fill in the blank: safe, diary, yard barn, motorcycle, locked snack box, or ?) These days, you don’t always use a metal key to get into locked places. There are new, super-cool, technology keys – like a key fob, access ID card, device password, dual authentication, retinal scan, DNA match, fingerprint access, etc. (No modern snack box locks that I’m aware of!)

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Turned Upside-Down

  Last article talked about the 4 soils of the heart. It was a fascinating exploration of a parable Jesus told about how different people receive and interact with God’s Word. The soil of the heart indicates the condition of the soul. Jesus’ parable also strongly suggests reasons why some people set out to follow Jesus, but end up discouraged and even walk away. Life is challenging. And it’s confusing when you feel you are being turned upside-down as a believer in Jesus.

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Four Soils of the Heart

Many are getting ready to plant and tend various gardens again this year. Some will be breaking up new ground to start from scratch. Others will be expanding or re-structuring existing gardens. Farmers will turn attention to the state of their fields. All who plant hope for beauty and harvest. So they have concern for the state of the soil they plant in. There is a life lesson in this. Soils of the heart – we should be concerned about the condition of our heart’s soil. Is it ready for beauty and harvest?

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Safe With God

I’ve found the content of this article has had huge impact in my life. Interestingly, it has influenced my relationships – with friends, family, co-workers, and others. So what are we looking at today? It has to do with safety. There are threats everywhere against folks. Individuals, families, places of employment and education, even churches. Everything looks OK from the outside, but inside where people are, and especially deep inside people, there are broken pieces. One of the greatest assurances you can know and bring into life is  – you can be safe with God. Why? Because God promises! So, I guess the question is – how do you live practically in this safety? Let’s explore being safe with God and look at action steps you can practice to be safe with God.

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Steps to Renew HOPE!

Hope is a critical component to being vibrant and healthy. When hope wanes, everything cycles downward. You need to renew hope. Do you know how to renew hope? How is your hope doing today? Did You Know Hope Can Erode? I’ll be transparent here. Sometimes my hope gets beat up a bit. I’m guessing you might have the same happen to your hope occasionally. Hope goes through an erosion process when you have to stand alone in some issue. Or when you have been plodding for a very long time and there is no end in sight. It may be a tragedy has invaded your life. Sometimes you feel helpless to hold things together and go forward. Have your resources run out? Is someone making your life really challenging? Perhaps a person has literally broken your heart. You need steps to renew hope.           

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Get Unstuck: 7 Steps

  Have you ever been stuck? You want to break free and make progress, but a helpless feeling pervades. Still, part of you knows there has to be an option to get unstuck. What a miserable place: feeling suspended, unable to maneuver, paralyzed to come up with a plan. Yet, in your heart, and with God’s help, you suspect you are able to get unstuck – somehow! You just don’t know how.

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Navigating Loneliness

  Loneliness Affects You So many people struggle with this human condition. It affects everyone, from individuals who have no one to count on, to those who have suffered a terrible loss, to those who have been mistreated. However, loneliness also affects people who have a life partner, a dear friend, or a group they’ve been welcomed into. The condition of loneliness grabs hold of all hearts at some time or other. Loneliness seems to have mushroomed during this pandemic. From the initial lock-downs to continued social distancing. Even just “masking” seems to interfere with connecting. It’s as if we can’t really “see” one another.

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Angels

  Have you ever seen an angel? I have not. I have a number of precious “people angels” in my life. But face-to-face with a real, live, heavenly angel? Not a chance!

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New Name - Alive and Active Life

Alive and Active Life – Our New Name

  Alive and Active Life – Our New Name! We are excited to announce our name change! Intentional Living is now Alive and Active Life! You will notice changes on our website to reflect the new name. As we have been re-branding this past year, it’s been a process of new vision, excitement, challenge, and hard work. God started preparing our hearts last year about a name change. For half a year, there has been much prayer and exploration. Now He has laid a new path in front of our faith, and we are eager to see what God has planned. But – I want to tell you more about this change. I think you will find it interesting. [Click on above image – “Alive and Active – Our New Name” – and please share on your social media to announce our name change.]

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I Can’t See You, God! Where Are You?

Everyone goes through a time of feeling, “I can’t see You, God. They may feel discouraged, tired, and even disillusioned. This world, in its fallen state, is a place where it’s not only possible to feel these things at some point. It’s very likely! The human spirit cries out – “Where are You, God? I’ve lost sight of You, and I need You.”

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Voice In Your Head

Ever Hear That Voice In Your Head? Have you ever been tempted to think you are no good? Less than? Not worth as much as someone else? Do you know who is planting those ideas in your head? Your enemy. And it just so happens your enemy is also God’s enemy. That puts you in good company. Did you know you can decide who is the voice in your head? If you choose to, you can side with God and hear His voice. After all, He IS on the right side – the winning side. The voice in your head doesn’t need to be the enemy. It can be Jesus.

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Mind-Set Affects Everything

  I have some questions for you. And I bet you don’t think about them often. I know I don’t. But they are important to live a meaningful life. Here we go – What’s your reason for being alive? How about your motive to keep going? Do you have a life purpose? These questions are key to help you identify critical information about your life. You need this information. Your reasons, motives, and purpose are essential. They actually “set” your thinking and approach to daily living. Mind-set affects everything! We just explored motives in a recent article Motives Matter. This time, we need to spend time on mind-set.

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Motives Matter

Motives Matter In a recent article, we discussed – Character Matters. These are timely reflections during significant challenges our world is navigating. On top of the global picture, people’s personal lives are strained at many levels, sometimes because of global issues. Having set the tone with the Character Matters article, let’s dive back into discussion about character, but go one level deeper. I propose to you that not only does Character Matter – but Motives Matter.

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Lord is Before Savior

Lord is Before Savior Most followers of Jesus have heard the dignified title “Savior and Lord.” I would like to suggest something about this title. Of course, it’s true, Jesus is Savior and Lord. But let’s consider two things. First, from the beginning, way back before anything was created – Lord is before Savior. And second, for every sincere Christian who lives their faith with resolve, consistency, and passion, this title starts to flip around – from “Savior and Lord” to “Lord and Savior.”

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It’s “Do You Love Me” Day

It’s “Do You Love Me” Day It’s Valentine’s Day! People all over the world are looking for creative, meaningful ways to say, “I love you.” People also are looking to be loved. It may be from a lover, but that’s a limited view of the day. This day includes family members, dear friends, comrades in ventures, even perhaps – fellow countrymen. Most defining and critical, this day includes the God who loves you and me. So, the question from Him is still – “Do you love Me?”

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How Do I Manage Feelings?

  Most people spend a portion of their life trying to figure out what to do with their feelings. They often ask themselves, “how do I manage feelings?” That’s a very good question.

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Character Matters

  This past year has been packed with challenges while the entire world is slammed in crisis. It’s one of those years you look back in a decade and say – “Well, I remember one of the worst years ever – 2020! True, it’s been hard for individuals, for business and industry, and for countries around the world. This global picture is the high view of a big picture. Yet, when you drill down into every person’s daily life, you find even more challenges and crisis. People are under strain. With this harsh reality, there is one thing increasingly clear. Whatever the problem, the process, or the solution – character matters.

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Work It Out     

  I’ve found life to be a mix of enjoyment, struggle, and problem-solving. It takes courage and management as fear pokes holes in your confidence and hurt threatens your heart. After living for awhile in this reality, a person realizes life isn’t always peace, rest, and unity. You realize you need to work it out.

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Jesus Makes Life Good. Go After It!    

  I remember as a young adult thinking that somewhere along the way, I’d figure out how this life works. Several decades have passed. I figured some things out, but there is still so much I don’t know or understand – even more than when I was a young adult. Yet, I have learned to identify and go after some critical pieces I can manage to make life good.

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HOW TO FINISH a 1-PAGE GOALS SHEET – Step 2

  Last article, we began developing a 1-Page Goals Sheet – Step 1. This tool is an individualized, custom-designed plan to organize and manage your life effectively with simple action steps. Today, we will finish. You are very close to being done with a great plan and action steps that are easy to implement.

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How To Set Up a 1-PAGE GOALS SHEET: Step 1

  Wouldn’t it be great if you could put everything you’re aiming for on one page! To have a tool that is short, concise, and condensed to help live each day successfully. Instantly accessible. Something to carry on your device wherever you go, or to print and keep a visible copy at your desk. How about a 1-page goals sheet to help you aim for your best! I’m delighted to tell you – this tool exists. And it works. I have been using a 1-Page Goals Sheet for decades, and it’s helped me focus and grow. Now I’d like to share this tool with you.

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Gifts Under God’s Great Tree

Pretend with me. You are a child. It’s Christmas. The tree is up and decorated. Glow and sparkle fill the room with Christmas magic. Being a curious child, you have already checked out the landscape of presents under the tree. You noted the gifts with your name on them. And – you’ve counted them. Now you wait . . . and wonder . . . and hope! But the pretending stops and you are an adult again. You ask yourself – “are there gifts for me as a grown-up? Is there something special under God’s Great Tree with my name on it?”

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Jesus, the Beautiful Baby, Has A God

Christmas and a Beautiful Baby Approaching Christmas brings thoughts of a manger, a beautiful baby in white swaddles, Mary and Joseph, wisemen, shepherds, angels. Then add gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Now, pull this ancient beautiful story forward into the present and picture a bright, decorated evergreen tree, stockings at a fireplace hearth, goodies and wassail on a festive table. Family and friends are part of holiday plans – even during a pandemic. This year we add masks, social distancing, virtual visits for gift exchanges to share special moments. I’m sure you have explored creative options. Then there’s the beautiful Christmas music and cards or e-cards. Do you stop to ponder what all this December celebration means and why you participate every year?

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Be an “R and R” Person – Refreshing and Rare    

             The other day, I received a note from a person who is refreshing and rare. They are committed to Jesus and walk with God. This person has chosen God’s priorities over their own agenda, and their life proves it. People like this quietly change the world as they faithfully live for Jesus. They are refreshing and rare. I want to be this kind of person. Being alive is a privilege! God designed you to be dependent on Christ – synced with Him at your core. Joy and peace result from being connected with Jesus, even in times of sorrows. Plus, you gain purpose and wisdom.

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Care For Each Other    

You know how it feels to be over your head in responsibilities, stress, or disappointment. Sometimes it’s just tough rising up to keep doing what needs to be done. People depend on you to do your part. And you need others to do their part, too. This is when you care for each other. Through caring, we participate in God’s love for each other. And we encourage one another to each do our part.

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Steadfast                            

Maintaining a steady pace and a steadfast heart in life is a real trick, isn’t it? Life’s terrain is so unpredictable, and losses grab at your ankles as you walk. “Keeping on” while being patient and calm takes resolve and courage. Unexpected developments, disasters, losses and grief, disagreements, declining health, even aging – these pop up on every side. Addressing them well requires being steadfast.

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National Author’s Day For an Author

I did not know Nov. 1 was National Author’s Day. My family surprised me with a lovely Author’s Day Tea. We enjoyed a yummy spread including homemade scones and clotted cream. Why did they do this? Well, they love me. But the main reason? I’m an author! It’s been a fascinating journey, and I’ve learned so much. I’d like to tell you about my work.

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Dependables

These are difficult, uncertain, and challenging days. There are very few things you can depend on when you get up in the morning. Things shift all day. Between the political state of the world, unknown health threats, cosmic nature developments, and people’s free will, your list of dependables shrinks!

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Whose Interests Are You Looking Out For?

What interests do you have? How do you figure out what your interests are? As a unique individual, your interests matter. Every day there are many things that capture your attention. How do those interests fit into God’s interests?

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Struggles are Real

If you had to summarize your life in one nutshell sentence, what would you say? Perhaps you would talk about your background, schooling, and degree. You might mention family. Some would talk about career. Others would reflect on additional things they cherish. You might talk about very real struggles that have changed your life. Boiling life down to one statement is hard. But if you had to do it, what would you say?

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Do The Math!

Math equations have always been helpful tools to give a picture of a process, clearer understanding, and even a possible plan of action. We’re going to explore a math equation in regard to godly conduct. I guess you could call it – “moral math?” First thing to do with a math equation is to find what the variables are. Let’s start with this – 1 MAIN THING + 2 WAYS TO DO IT = GODLY CONDUCT Your variables to fill in are 1 MAIN THING and 2 WAYS TO DO IT. How can we find the correct elements to fill in the variables?

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Life Resources and Tools

Birthdays are just FUN! At my last birthday, my son prayed a wonderful thing over me as he gave thanks for the meal and for my life. He asked the Lord to give me so much more of Himself this next year – and that I would know Him increasingly. What a blessing! That expresses exactly what my desire is for this next year. It was such a sweet surprise. Still, every year I’ve lived has been challenging. Why would this year be any different? Maybe life resources and tools are implements God uses to help us achieve our desires. Life resources and tools have made a huge impact in my life.

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I Insist!  

Have you ever felt so strongly about something that you just had to insist? You couldn’t let it go? Well, that’s how Scripture is on some points. Because the content is from God, the writers often say (in so many words), “I insist!” In Eph. 4:17, the Apostle Paul says he “insists on it in the Lord.” He feels strongly about how God’s people should live – and not live.  Let’s unpack this.

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Check Points That Protect Freedom

Have you ever used check points? Do you know what they are? Check points are a great little tool that help you stay on track and not deviate from the central focus. They help you stream line resources, supplies, and energy. Without some kind of check point system, you can quickly and easily get off track – and even make some pretty serious mistakes.

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Reach Back

There was a man who lived many years ago. Centuries ago. He knew living a good life was critical. So he worked hard to live such a life. Yet, he did not know God personally. It wasn’t until God made the first move to him (God always does) that relationship with God became an option for this man. God reached into his life, his world, His reality and invited him closer. This man believed and responded. Even though he was already living a good life, it wasn’t until he actively believed God that he had the reality of living a holy life. This man decided to reach back to God.

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Stand Firm and Be Free

Many countries have a celebration day to remember their freedom. America just celebrated July 4th. In some countries, freedom is not even a reality. Freedom has been a hot topic all through human history. Wars that claimed many lives have been fought to preserve or gain freedom. Apparently, it’s been important to God since before history began. God’s original design was anchored in freedom. He wants you to be free.

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Your Opportunity

If I were to ask you who has had a high level of influence in your life, who would you mention? What impact did they have on you? Most of us have a handful of people we would think of. Their touch on our lives is noteworthy – sometimes life-changing. Their life has been a kind of “virtual e-pistle”* for you to read. They had opportunity to influence you.

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Give It All You Got!

Got Time? How many years does it take to reach adulthood? I suppose it depends on the situation. In some cases, it’s 18. Other times it’s 21. And some people don’t seem to get to adulthood until they are well into their thirties – or later! Regardless, every person is busy growing up in some way! Even retired people are. The key issue at each age is to give it all you got. Start by knowing God better and learning His ways to a well-lived life.

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9 Ways to Help Someone

Ways to Help It’s impossible to live a sinless life, unless your name is Jesus Christ. Remember how easy it is to slip into a wrong response or an old pattern. You’ve been there, and so has everyone else. There are ways to help.   When you see a person caught in sin or paralyzed in a pattern, it’s critical that you respond. You can’t just turn away. However, what you do next, how you think and interact, reveals your character, your maturity, your dependence on God, and your heart. Your best response should be to please God and to help a brother or sister in need. If you want to respond like Jesus, side-step fear and follow these help steps.

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Pile-Up!! Time For “Operation Close.”

Recently, I reflected on a disappointing scenario that penetrated my life last year. It hit like a missile, and I found myself deeply sad. Being familiar with the need to make hard decisions for good reasons for long periods of time, I guess I forgot about a real phenomenon. After decades of managing such situations, you end up with a “pile-up.” This pile-up loomed in my thoughts and lingered in my heart. Clearly, I needed a re-boot. Somehow the pile-up had turned into a mountain.

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What Does Jesus Say About Contentment?

When a person is content, they no longer have task masters cracking the whip over their life. In fact, they settle into a living condition of peace. They have a quiet heart, despite surrounding threats, difficulties, or obstacles. It would be rare to see such a person get “riled up.” This person is quick to be flexible, open to the unforeseen, and satisfied in their heart. The thing they consistently do to remain content is to draw close into God’s great heart in the details of their day. They literally picture themselves in that safe place. It is in this place they can freely ask for wisdom, for creative ideas, for critical insight, and for direction. And – they hear God in their heart – of all things! These folks have learned about contentment.

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God’s Power Tools

We bought a power washer. After borrowing one, we became instant believers. Gone was the greenish mossy mold on the house siding. The deck changed back to its natural wood color instead of the dingy gray-brown it had sported for a couple of seasons. Honestly, the difference was stunning. The cleaning power of water is pretty convincing. And power tools make life easier. What would our lives be without power tools, not to mention our computers and technology gadgets? How would we ever function if there was a power blackout? We need power. During this global COVID-19 pandemic, we should be reaching for God’s Power Tools often. His tool box is open with resources for every person. And His tools are free! No rental or purchase fees.  

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7 RESOURCES OF THE HEART To Live Well In COVID-19

Everything has changed during COVID-19. People have lost income. Parents have suddenly become point person for their child’s education. Shopping safely is a big deal and many items are in short supply. Businesses have shut down or turned solely to the internet. Education has flipped to online classrooms. Even Dr. appointments are by phone or video. And facial masks are the new fashion! All of this while under lock-down stress. You need resources of the heart. No one could have guessed the challenges COVID-19 has forced upon families and individuals. With good reason, some people are discouraged. Here are some resources to help navigate tough times, starting with highest priorities and focused on truth and perspective.

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10 Days of Prayers During COVID-19

As we navigate through our global COVID-19 crisis, we need helpful resources to respond in practical ways. We also need methods of encouraging each other. And we need prayer!  Intentional Living wants to come alongside you in prayer as we await the outcome of our global crisis. 10 Days of Prayers is a tool to help you pray through this crisis.

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7 DAILY DEVOTIONALS FOR EASTER WEEK: Take A Daily Moment To Prepare For Easter

GOOD NEWS!!   Intentional Living is hosting a special Easter Holy Week online devotional – FREE! The course is called . . . “Take A Daily Moment To Prepare For Easter.” You can participate in this online brief daily experience by yourself, as a family, or with a group. The recent developments of our global pandemic has been stressful. Most people feel deep concern and even fear. The globe has never known a pandemic of this extent before. Even with all this going on, Easter is filled with joy and cheer. Not only is spring waking the earth once again. People are ready to see new life. New growth. These thoughts of new life are especially welcome during our global COVID-19 crisis. So this week’s devotional course focuses on HOPE. There will be MEANINGFUL and FUN ACTIVITIES for people who are in “lock-down.” Take A Daily Moment To Prepare For Easter The sessions begin Monday, April 6. You can enter the sessions anytime, night or day, to participate in the brief, daily posts. Each day has 2 sections: MEDITATION THOUGHT– a short reflective thought to help prepare your heart for Easter and give hope during our global crisis. TRADITION ACTIVITY IDEA– a fun activity you can

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For Such a Time as This

  God created and equipped you in a unique and beautiful way. No matter who you are, God sees you as a special treasure! Not only that, but your life on this globe during this timeline of history is no accident. You are here for a reason, and God is pleased you are alive – for such a time as this.

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COVID-19 – A Global Pause

Our global community is facing one of its greatest challenges ever. The COVID-19 Pandemic is giving everyone opportunity to reach for our highest and best responses.

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How To Manage Worries and Concerns

Life is filled with worries and concerns. Often circumstances beyond your control arise. There is so much to address and manage. Responsibilities. Relationships. Careers. Home and property. Events. Each day is packed. And now with the coronavirus, there is even more to be concerned about.

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What’s Your Move?

Every single day you ask yourself a question you aren’t even aware of: what’s your move? You make decisions and take action in multi-faceted areas of responsibilities and life issues. As a Jesus follower, you make moves to show others what God is like. And you make moves to honor the rules and laws of your community and country.

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Gifts and Greater Gifts

We just celebrated Valentine’s Week by focusing on love in the article: New Fresh Love. This week, let’s explore how love can make a personal difference and a global difference. With all the challenges, conflicts, and losses on this spinning globe, love is a challenging subject. Still – what the world needs most is love. Even song writers agree. In 1965, Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote the hit song, “What The World Needs Now Is Love [Sweet Love].” On your worst days, your lonely days, you know you need a deep, abiding love. You need God’s love.

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A New Fresh Love

This week is Valentine’s Week. People are focused on love. We need more love in our world, wouldn’t you agree? So how can you find a new fresh love each day? One that drives your life, that holds you safe and steady through thick and thin. Just to be a bit more transparent with you, I have a confession to make.

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Established

People try all kinds of approaches and tactics to establish themselves in better ways . . . who they are, what they do, how they are perceived, etc. Being established helps people live their daily lives. And in the first months of a new year, this topic is still on people’s minds. Maybe it’s on your mind. What have you done to establish yourself?

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Alive and Active Life Podcast

WE HAVE A PODCAST!

Spotify Podcast Google Rss (INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBSCRIBING ARE MID-WAY DOWN THIS ARTICLE) Alive and Active Life Podcast adds value to your life and gives great content to the podcast crowd! Our first launch episode is a live interview with Alive and Active Life’s author and the podcast sound technician. Through this podcast, you now have an audio option to – maximize your time. reach for practical, encouraging material to have an Alive and Active Life, even with your busy life in this demanding world! nurture your soul and encourage your heart in God each day. We are live on major podcast apps. You can also listen on our website player at the top of every article on our website. On a regular basis, we record in our studio, bringing new content to help you live with hope, positive perspective, and awareness that God is with you. He is ready to give very practical help in every of one your life situations! I have 4 Action Steps for you: Subscribe to Alive and Active Life Podcast. (Instructions below.) Periodically check the podcast library for quality material because we are always adding content. Tell other people about our podcast. Sign up on

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e-Pistles For An i-Generation: Relevant in a Digital Age

My latest book just arrived back from the publisher! e-Pistles for an i-Generation. I’m excited to share it with you! I want to tell you about the cover (directly below). Notice the title: e-Pistles For an i-Generation: Relevant in a Digital Age. Your generation. Our digital age. The front picture portrays that 1st and 2nd Corinthians can get from an ancient scroll into your i-pad (and then into your heart). The back cover is an i-pad with a critical message.

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Will 2020 be a 666 Year or a 777 Year For You?

666 Year or 777 Year Will 2020 be a 666 year or a 777 year for you? Numbers mean things. You can put them together in various ways to increase meaning. They measure things, identify patterns, and organize systems. Numbers point to specific events. For example, 2020 not only points to the new year, but also to a new decade. 2020 can mean excellent vision (2020 Vision for the New Year: Setting Goals). The number 2 often means a companion. 3 can be a trio or a triangular endeavor. It also makes a sturdy stool on uneven terrain. 12 can refer to a dozen. 6 and 7 mean things, too.

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2020 Vision for the New Year: Setting Goals

20/20 In 2020 Are you thinking 2020 yet? 2020 can mean lots of things. Often, 20/20 refers to good vision. Right now, it means a New Year. In fact, it means a new decade! With a New Year around the corner, you need 20/20 vision – and that means setting goals for your life.

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Depression in the Holidays

Christmas has so many wonderful moments. Unfortunately, strands of loss and grief alter Christmas joy for many people each year. Approaching Christmas is hard when your heart is breaking. Depression in the holidays is a real thing. Depression is experienced by many people during the holidays. If you are one of them, you are not alone. Life is hard. You may have had a terrible loss, a deep disappointment, a health issue, or something else that has pierced your heart this past year. It’s possible the painful life event even happened some years ago. You are not unhealthy for still feeling the sting, but you may need to find some healthy responses to move forward and be a balanced, hopeful person.

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We Affect Each Other

Encouragement is always easier to receive than rebuke. Yet, we all need both. Truly we do. Unfortunately, most people put all their energy into defending and protecting themselves instead of opening to whatever truth is being presented. That’s a sign of insecurity, and possibly pride. A secure person who is humble doesn’t worry too much about their defense. Maybe a little. But they rally with courage, receive an honest message, pray through it, filter out whatever is irrelevant, and apply whatever is helpful. It’s as if they are saying, “It is what it is. And that’s OK, because I’m aiming for more of Christ.” They are willing to accept the bottom line: we affect each other.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. We have so much to be grateful for even when life is difficult or painful. The blessings co-exist alongside the difficulties.

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An Honor Plus a Double Honor 

You may have been privileged to receive some kind of honor or award for a significant accomplishment. Perhaps you gained scholarship recognition. Maybe it’s been a military medal or a sport-related achievement. Perhaps you are an esteemed author, speaker, or political leader. You may be one of many of us who have simply made it through required levels of school, kissed your diploma, moved your tassel from right to left, and landed a job worthy of supporting daily living. That, too, is a worthy honor and accomplishment.

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Unveil

  You know what it’s like to wake up in the morning, look out your window, and see heavy fog. Sometimes it’s so thick you can’t see anything. Trees are barely visible. The street is out there somewhere. Probably the first thing going through your mind is, “How am I going to see the road and other vehicles to drive?” Still, the view is captivating. The veil silently lingers over everything. In fact, it changes the landscape perspective. You are left to fill in opaque spaces with memory or imagination. Lines are no longer clear. Outlines barely visible. Boundaries blurry. And everything seems unsure. If only you could unveil the view.

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It’s Your Move 

The world spins on – It’s Your Move! Every day you have so many scenarios where it really is your move! Many life trials will not be properly addressed on this earth. We need to accept that up front. Perhaps some will. But some issues are so tangled, too complicated to unravel. God helps people apply strategies in thinking using His wisdom to work through difficult problems. God always helps when it’s your move.

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What’s Your Number One? 

In this troubled, broken world, how encouraging to know God has a plan – a good, flexible, vast, yet detailed plan. God loves you deeply, and He has a plan for your life, too. This plan has encouragement, guidance, and hope. To discover this wonderful plan, you must decide what’s your number one. Depending how you answer that, it launches you into God’s good plan for your life – or not.

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Just Say Yes

Every morning, I take certain medications. Perhaps you do, as well. Some people take a daily vitamin pill. Many meds are critical to promote health and bring balance to systems that need assistance. If you need a chemical your body is short on, there are options in most cases. Sometimes in the middle of a day, you just need something for a headache. Pills and creams of every kind help you maintain a healthy body. Too bad there isn’t a pill for courage, or a cream for confidence. I wonder. Is it possible to take a daily dose?

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Fresh New Life

The topic for today is fresh new life. You know life can shift pretty quickly. Mostly it’s in the small stuff. I’m sure you’ve been in a jam at some point. Caught in bad circumstances. You have that dreaded, instant panic feeling. It could be you lost your wallet or left your purse on a shelf in a store aisle. Perhaps you forgot to pay an important bill. You may have broken something very special or ruined a plant you were nurturing. Your keys to a public building, a safe, and your own home are missing. Maybe you ran your car into someone’s fence or got pulled over for speeding. Maybe you said something you later regret terribly. These kinds of things make your stomach churn. You just hope for some way to reconcile things with as little pain and upset as possible. Many of these scenarios are minor and temporary. Some scenarios are the big stuff – serious and life altering with long-term losses.

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Stuck in the Corner – How to Get Out

It is a terrible feeling to be stuck in the corner. Trapped by problems. Maneuverability seems so limited. Fear starts to do its work. Many times life feels like this. No matter how hard you’ve tried to do your best and make good decisions, sometimes you are just stuck in the corner. What options do you have in this place?

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Match God’s Heart

  What does it look like to engage a life that matters? To avoid entanglements, skip the irrelevant, and move forward to be a seasoned believer. And what does it look like to apply practical decisions each day that make a difference in this world. You are only given a certain number of days. How can you make them really count and match God’s heart? What does it look like to carry out God’s agenda in your daily living? Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.” (Mt. 5:13) I wonder what He meant. Why did God say this? It’s as if He is telling His people to ponder a bit to get at His meaning. Jesus want us to read between the lines.

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Words Have Power

  Think about the words that have impacted you the most. Sometimes you remember words spoken into your life for many decades . . . burned into your memory. Some words have been encouraging with powerful positive impact in your life. Perhaps other words have been negative and damaging. Regardless, words have power.

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Lose the Bottle!

I’m sure you have held an infant, completely helpless, very hungry, in your arms. They depend utterly on you to protect and nourish them. Their intense, desperate delight as they grab the bottle you offer, shows their utter focus on themselves and their complete dependency on you for survival. It’s a precious memory to feed an infant. Picture an older child, teen, or adult in that same scenario, however, and you get a completely different reaction inside. It’s repulsive. They should be actively engaged, handling a fork and knife (or chop-sticks) as second nature. The expectation is pretty simple – lose the bottle! Grow up!

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Oh Say, Can You See?

“Oh say, can you see?” Our freedom came at a price. Blood shed and terrible losses for many families was the sacrifice years ago of people like you and me. Those people believed in freedom.

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Words For Weary Warriors

God calls each person into their own path – a unique and special path with a promise He will walk with you. Over the long-haul, life is pretty challenging. The good is side-by-side with the hard stuff. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have troubles – but take heart. I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) This promise brings explanation and comfort in hard seasons. There are times in your every day life that you start to feel like a weary warrior.

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How to Fix Perspective

Perspectives change. You reach a level that feels comfortable and becomes your norm. The next thing you know, everything shifts right in front of you. Your relationships change direction. Your health is imminently threatened. Finances become unstable. You relocate and everything is new/different. Someone else makes a decision which drastically changes your life. And so on. These things affect your thinking. Your thinking affects your perspective.

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Managing Long-term Stress

Life is an amazing privilege with many opportunities. But let’s face it: life is also really hard – especially when you are managing long-term stress. Stress is an unpleasant, yet common condition that rises when pressure mounts and stakes are high. It surfaces when work load is increased and deadlines loom. When performance and character matter. When the buck stops with you. Stress can be short- or long-term. Most of us get through the short bursts. It’s long-term stress that takes a toll.

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What Does It Look Like to Use Your Will Power

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” If you look up will in the dictionary, definitions include, determination, motivation, drive, resolve, backbone, spirit, self-control, in addition to willpower. Indomitable means unconquerable, strong, resolute, determined, and stubborn. With those kinds of words describing a person’s will, what is will power?

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Why Would I Set Boundaries in My Life?

There are lots of articles and books about boundaries. Do you wonder why boundaries are important? Is it just another “buzz” word, or is there something to it? What does God think about boundaries? Why would you set them in your life?

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What Do You Do When Life Completely “Up-Ends” You? 3 Great Resources!

Life is filled with many great experiences. Yet, it is also peppered with sad things. Tragedy, disappointment, and even betrayal pierces into every person’s life at some point. You may have already experienced your share of upheaval. Whether from your own choices, someone else’s choices, or just because we live in a fallen world, most people find their life turned upside-down sometime in their journey. Very few people escape this tragic experience. Perhaps you are there now. So, what do you do when life completely up-ends you?

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Make a Difference With Little Leadership

All my life, I’ve wanted to make a difference in the world. The older and more mature I have become, I realize this world is a very big place. And my influence is rather small. Does that negate my desire to make a difference? It does not. Does the immense world minimize my contribution? It does not. In fact, logically it seems to indicate all the more that my little bit offered in my small sphere of influence is necessary since the job of world influence is so great. I call using my small influence “little leadership.”

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10 Tips To Be A Good Parent

If you are a parent, you know raising kids is one of the most challenging things you have ever done. It is also one of the most influential and meaningful. As you think about being a good parent to your kids, there are things you can do that make a huge difference in their little lives. It’s hard to remember all the specific things, so here is a list of tips and action steps to keep at your finger-tips.

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Dissecting Something Meaningful

Have you ever dissected something? High school biology? College anatomy? Did you know you can dissect Scripture, too? I’m not talking about the heavy–duty dissection a theology graduate engages. This is a lighter approach – dissecting something meaningful. Here is a peek at what a Scripture application might look like after dissecting it. The dissection steps are listed at the end of this article.  

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Helpful “H” Words

Sometimes little tricks or acronyms help you remember important things. I found some “H” words help me live my life a bit better. There are “H” words from God, and “H” words for you.

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The Importance of Scrubbing-In

I was reading recently from Dr. David Stevens’ book, Jesus, MD, and was struck by the idea of scrubbing-in. Apparently, it’s a big deal for a doctor to scrub-in for every surgery. It’s just part of the life of a surgeon. There is a proper way, step by step, to scrub-in. The ritual takes a fair bit of time. After scrubbing-in, if you get an itchy nose, someone else needs to scratch it. A scrub nurse helps the Dr. finish the tedious process so the very best, sterile conditions can be maintained during a surgery.

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Telling Jesus What to Do

Recently, a short phrase in Scripture caught my attention as I was going through my quiet time book.*    Stay. You don’t have to leave. The Scenario The disciples are in process of telling Jesus what to do. Imagine that! It has hit their radar that the crowd has been listening to His teachings all day. They did not bring any food. The obvious conclusion? “Send the people away to get food, Jesus.” They are being good disciples, don’t you think? They want to make Jesus aware, just in case He has missed something.

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Rising From Failure

Many Christians struggle to make their faith real and practical. They engage all kinds of plans and tactics to live up to what they believe and what the Bible says. But they feel empty, powerless, and hollow. Even fake. Sometimes these dear ones end up in unhealthy, repeating cycles. They feel they are failing continually. It’s as if success is not an option for them in their walk with the Lord. They need a new reality: Rising from failure.

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Going Into a New Year: Things to Ponder

The New Year is only one sleep away. Are you ready? A New Year is an opportunity to let go of some things and grab onto other things. Going into a New Year involves many emotions. It can feel scary, not knowing what is ahead. It may be a relief to walk into something new with a fresh perspective. You might have reason to celebrate certain accomplishments. Excitement about new opportunities begins to rise. Sadness about aging, saying good-byes, or letting go of various endeavors can be painful. Knowing there will be difficult challenges is sobering. Yet, overall, most people reach forward with hope as one year morphs into another.

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Christmas Sadness: How to Manage It

Sadness at Christmas is more common than many realize. Your life is filled with difficulties, hurts, losses, and disappointments. At Christmas, these things sometimes feel bigger. What do you do when you have done your very best and it still wasn’t good enough? What is your next move after pouring into some endeavor and it didn’t seem to make a difference? How about the person who has lived healthy, food and exercise, all their life – and they get the news of cancer? You might have befriended someone who turns around and betrays you. What do you do when you prayed and trusted – and the bad thing still happened? How do you go on when death invades?

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Christmas Waiting

Waiting is just HARD! Perhaps you don’t have troubles waiting, but the rest of us do. Christmas waiting is the hardest.

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When Faith Hangs by a Thread at Christmas

God loves you so much. Christmas is His way of proving it. He became a person just like you. God-in-a-Baby grew up in this challenging world, now so different from how He created it. Baby Jesus entered shattered creation to become a Savior. He says, “Look! I am making everything new.” (Rev. 21:5) He invites you to trust Him for this “new” in daily details, disappointments, tragedies and sorrows, and in losses that cannot be fixed. Jesus is the prize of Christmas because He is the only one who can help.

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The Truth About Emmanuel and You

Emmanuel puts skin on God’s love. I hope you will be encouraged as you read the amazing display of God’s love for you. When you finish reading this, I hope you will ask yourself a critical question (see below). 

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What’s Advent About Anyway?

The Christmas holiday season is almost here! Many people are starting to get excited. Are you? Have you wondered what the Advent season is about? What is the goal? Why do people participate? What value does it bring to your modern, extremely busy life – especially during a hectic month? I’d like to tell you a bit more about Advent and why people still participate. Advent starts soon. It’s only days away.

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The Sweetness of a Thankful Heart

Some people have mastered being thankful. I know – because, when I was much younger, God gave me three mentors. They modeled thankfulness and exercised impeccable graciousness even when things weren’t going well. I’m not going to tell you who they are. But I will tell you that two of them – their names start with “M” and both end in “e.” And the third person rules a country – well, sort of! Thanksgiving helps us remember the bountiful blessings we have. Thankfulness is a lovely quality that emulates God’s character. And since character forms the fiber of our very soul, it’s worth investing in the very best character possible. My mentors have given a wonderful example of what things to aim for. I want to share them with you.

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Feeling Down These Days?

Feeling down is a hard condition to manage. Whether you are over-tired, mistreated, discouraged, or even struggling with depression – being on the “down side” is real.

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Who Are You?

When you get up in the morning and look in the mirror, who do you see? Do you value that person? Are your next thoughts full of purpose as you consider the day ahead? Who are you? You are a very special person, loved with everlasting love by God. On your birthdate, an amazing event took place years ago:

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He Picked You

Isn’t it nice to be picked? Chosen? Wanted? The ideas I’m writing about today came to me in a time of personal trial and testing.

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Two Universes of Values

Some years ago, I came across a helpful tool that not only changed how I think, but it has become a “go to” resource for me. It’s called the Universes of Values Chart. *

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Friend Or Foe

Most of the time, you are able to distinguish between friend and foe. Sometimes, however, you aren’t so sure. It takes time to figure out people and relationships. So, give your relationships time. Be wise and exercise discernment as you explore the parameters that will define each situation. Meanwhile, however, you can genuinely care about each person in the same way God does. That means caring about their salvation, as well as their physical life.

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Weaknesses and Limitations

Sooner or later, a person comes face to face with their weaknesses and limitations. If they don’t face them, they may be living in a fantasy world in attempts to survive. Or perhaps they have given in to deceptive compromises. Or they may have become hardened. None of these promote healthy living. There is one approach that really helps.

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Life Adventure

Do you ever feel like Abraham – not knowing what’s happening or where you are headed, wishing things could be different, even as you are trusting the Lord? Do you ever wonder how he and Sarah might have felt?

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Take Your Pick

Why do people do what they do? How does freedom of choice impact their decisions? What root issues do people focus on most as they make their path through life? Root issues are important to look at when talking about human behavior. They help determine the “what” and “why” of habits, addictions, preferences, and character.

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Passageway

There’s a place where everyone lives. It’s between here and there. This passageway frames your entire existence. Starting when you were born, including all your yesterdays, where you are now, and what will fill the rest of your days – your passageway (and your response to it) defines your life.

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More is Coming

We don’t often talk about Heaven, but we should. Heaven helps people keep perspective. And it gives something to look forward to, especially if your life is filled with suffering and difficulties. Heaven nurtures hope.

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Do You Have a Busy Body?

Did you know Scripture takes a strong position about being idle? That includes wasting time. Apparently, it’s a big deal to God. Why would this be? It doesn’t seem nearly as concerning as certain other sins. Being idle leads to other things that are serious.

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Exclamation Point !

No one wants to be rejected, left alone, overlooked. They want to matter. Each person wants to be important to someone. Valued. Loved. This is not an accident nor a faulty design. God purposefully created people with these inner desires and concerns. He made them to need to be special. To care about making a difference. And to care about others.

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Live Well – Love Well

Last blog urged readers to think about “more and more” – how it affects the idea of pleasing God and surrendering to Him. We looked at His love, instruction, and transformation for your life. Today, let’s look at “more and more” again – but this time, how it affects aspects of living and loving. It seems these two ideas, living well and loving well, go together. More and more.

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More and More

  Jesus loves you very much. Everything of value in life begins and ends here. God’s love gives your life purpose and hope. You can live inside His love. It’s that safe place where you flesh out details of daily living. In the heart of God, where you are loved and cherished, you have belonging. You are protected.

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Key Life Building Stones

This morning, I was thinking about something I don’t often. Foundations. I suppose engineers think a lot more about them. Apparently, the right foundation is everything. From your home to your fence to your raised flower beds, your career, your relationships, your health, your inner heart. Actually, your entire life structure needs a solid foundation.

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At Your Edge

Do you know how it feels to be at your edge? Perhaps you have been living there for a long time. It’s scary to live at the edge of what you can manage, what you can cope with. Scripture gives advice, but – at first read, it feels a little unrealistic. When you read the progressive list from Rom. 5:3-5 (check it out), you instinctively know you can’t do that stuff in your own strength. It’s not normal.

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Circumstances Don’t Dictate Character 

You are who you are, and if you are synced with God, you are what God wants you to be. It may be different than what you had wanted. You may have had a completely different picture in your mind. But if you are synced with God, you have character. What does synced with God mean?

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Keep Your Head and Do Your Bit

I’m guessing you fit somewhere in this list: parent, a business person, an educator, a politician, a scientist, a medical professional, a musician or artist, a clerk or shop caretaker, a writer, a childcare specialist, a building/grounds caretaker, an athlete or trainer. Whatever your role or profession, you know it’s critical to keep your wits about you, to think clearly, and to make good leadership decisions.

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God Is Interested In You

What you think or believe about God matters. Keep in mind, however, that what you think is a very small piece of the great big picture. You are not able to see the whole thing, let alone process it and make judgments about it. So, it is also true that you do not always operate with a complete perspective of reality. With these limitations, how can you fully live your life in God’s love and blessing?

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Scripture’s Thinking Grid 

I remember how excited I was when I found a “Thinking Grid” in my Bible. A timeless tool that has provided guidance to Christians for centuries. This Thinking Grid specifies what thoughts to allow in your mind. And since thoughts influence words, it has direct influence on your speech and relationships.

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Is Boasting Bad? 

Boasting is generally thought to be bad, self-centered at the very least. Most healthy people refrain from including it in daily communication and interactive behaviors. Yet, Paul promotes boasting.

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Coffee Grounds

Half awake. Blurry eyes. Groggy brain. Slippers dragging toward the French Press. I love my nifty silver and white personal coffee carafe.

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We All Need A Savior

Easter week is right around the corner. People love to celebrate with joyful traditions, activities, reflections, and food. This week, for a Christian, is the highest pinnacle of celebration (possibly second only to Christmas). We call this special week Holy Week.

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What Kind Of Free Are You?

You were created to be free. All people were. Yet, in order to live free, you have to think a certain way. Make certain choices. Freedom is so important to God that He established it deep in the original design of the human template. Then He gave you a mechanism to engage your freedom: your “free will.” He wants you to use it. He wants you to be utterly free!

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Your One Good Option

I’m guessing you’ve had at least one time in your life when you felt your relationship with God was good. Maybe. Some have had several seasons. Yet, like seasons of the year, they keep changing. Your relationship with God shifts. Some Questions: What causes these shifts? Why the change? Who cuts in on your successes? Your peace. Freedom. Growth. What pushes you to your edge? Causes you to fall? And why do you go there? Life: Life has rhythms. Ebb and flow. Continual change. Basic principles stay the same, but the message everywhere is – “change it up!” What you grew accustomed to has been switched out. Life is constantly pulsating. Whether it’s people, business, agriculture, medicine, ministry, science. It’s never quite the same each day. Some people find that adventurous. Others, threatening.

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Does Aging Strip You?

I had my annual visit with my Dr. last week. We had a great conversation about aging. Apparently, I’m right on target for getting old! And, although I don’t have control over the inevitable aging process – apparently, I’m making some good decisions.

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It’s Real, And It’s Very Near

Pushing back the curtain, my eyes struggled to focus in the flood of brightness. Gradually adjusting, I saw a story book scene covered in a blanket of freeze. It was breath-taking. Very still. Untouched. No snow falling. Just morning moments frozen in time. A misty steam lifted from objects as the sun brushed across them. Trees wore perfect-fitting ice gloves. Every tiny twig was transparently encased. Long, slender pine needles were hugged by individual translucent sleeves. Everything hung in united beauty and silence.

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Fear of the Lord: What Exactly Is It?

Do you ever feel you just can’t get your act together? Do you sometimes doubt what you bring to the table? Maybe you think you simply don’t have much to contribute. You do love the Lord and want to serve Him. You want your life to make a difference in this world. However: Eloquence – thinking on your feet – is not your native tongue. You lack wisdom. Blaring in your face is your weakness, not your strength. Although you trust God, you find fears nesting in your heart. Fear of failure, pain, what people will think, missing God’s best, exposing unattractive character in yourself or someone else, hurting or letting someone down, your past haunts future progress. The task before you is overwhelming. You tremble at what God asked you to do.

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Steps to “Turn the Corner” in Your Loss During Christmas

http://www.aliveandactivelife.org/2017/12/18/steps-turn-corner-in-loss-christmas/ It’s hard to manage a life loss at Christmas. A season that should be filled with joy, cheer, and hope. But for you – it’s just not! You may feel you are drowning in sadness . . . cut off from good things . . . observing others’ joy as a dream . . . wanting so badly for hope and cheer – yet not wanting to let go of your loss. So, what can you do?

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What ‘Sup With God’s Word? 5 Super Good Choices

I have to admit something. My heart skips with joy when I see a child bursting with life . . . overflowing with passion . . . dancing with delight – and no apology for the display. Beauty, adventure, energy, innocence, faith, possibilities. I have to admit something else.

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Raise a Normal Kid Today? 10 Helpful Points

Raise a normal, healthy kid? Is that still possible these days? I imagine you started parenting like me: You thought you knew a lot more than you did. You found out you knew a lot less than was comfortable to admit. You didn’t earn a degree from “parenting college.”  

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