Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Love Doesn't Change

If you are looking for a change in your mate and see no signs of its coming, stop looking! You are with whom you are with because you choose to be with them. Stop looking for something else and see the love in whom you are with.

If you are listening to hear something from your mate that you haven't heard, stop listening! If you are waiting for a change, stop! You chose this person! You chose them because they opened your heart. You chose them precisely because of who they are and how they sounded. Stop checking to see if they are going to change because you may have changed. Stop waiting to see if they are going to change into what you knew they were not. See who this is. Hear what they say. Accept what they do as the truth of who they are and look for the love in them.

It is not loving to expect someone to change because you want them to or because you think they should. Love is consistent. Love allows us to see and hear the best of what we have right now. The love within us grows when we grow. It shifts as we shift. When how we love grows and shifts, love gives us the opportunity to choose again, whether or not our partner changes.

Very often when we change, our needs change. At this point, we can become very demanding of our mates. By asking your partner to change to your reality, you are asking that they ignore their own. Looking for, listening for, checking for or demanding change is not loving. It is controlling! The cure for this type of unloving control is simple. If who you have and what you have no longer meet your needs, choose again.

Until today, you may have been preoccupied with changes you need your mate to make. Just for today, look for and embrace the things you love about who your partner is right now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Relationship Material

I will know love when I realize...the fibers of a relationship are constructed from the fibers of my heart.

Are you relationship material? The question is not are you looking for a relationship. Nor is it do you want a relationship. The question is, are you a clear example of the stuff a relationship is made of?

In order to be relationship material you must be able to open your heart to someone, and you must know what to do when they open their heart to you. You must be absolutely okay with every little thing that you know to be true about you. Now here's the kicker. Once you see yourself, you must be willing to allow others to see you exactly as you are! You must be able to stand before another person without fear, without excuses and with all of your defenses down. And if you cannot, you may not be relationship material.

If you are relationship material, you are trusting and trustworthy. If you are relationship material, when you dark hour is upon you, there is a light switch inside of you that you know how to turn on. By the same token, when your partner faces his/her own darkness, you are there. You don't fall apart because he/she seems to be falling apart.

In order to be relationship material, you must take a risk, tell the truth, trust that you will be heard. You must lay down all defenses, expectations and judgments. You must give without taking, grow without overshadowing, bend without feeling broken and know without doubt. Most important of all, you must know exactly what you want and be willing to ask for it, knowing exactly what you are willing to do if you do not get it.

Relationships are not easy! They are not easy to find, to get in or to stay in. And sometimes, you must answer the question, Why? Relationships are wonderful healing tools. A relationship can heal us of the fear of having a relationship. A relationship can heal you of the fear of being seen for who you are. When you pour the kind of love that a relationship requires into the darkness in your mind, everything comes to light. And that, my dear, is not an easy thing to see!

Relationships are wonderful teaching tools. A relationship makes very clear to you and others those things to which you have a tendency to selfishly cling -- thoughts, feelings, memories and sometimes possessions. A relationship will teach you what you really believe your all is worth. It will point out your need to be self-full, as you pursue your goal to be self-defined and self-reliant. When you are faced with the decision to hold on to or let go of the relationship, everything the relationship has taught you about yourself must be examined. And believe me, that is not an easy examination to make!

Relationships are God-given. This means they are a blessing! A relationship blesses you with the opportunity to share who you are with someone else who is willing to see the truth of who you are. A relationship is the home of love, which means it is a palace built by God. Unfortunately, it is not an easy task to keep the place clean!

Ask yourself questions in order to discover whether you are ready to have the relationship you are seeking. Until today, you may not have realized the healing effect of your relationships, or you may not have known what you were being taught about yourself. Just for today, look at all of your relationships. Embrace your healing needs. Recognize that there are still some things that you are learning about yourself.

Live a Resurrected Life - Joel Osteen

Every person goes through adversities or times of difficulty. Maybe you didn't get a promotion you deserved, or you lost a loved one, a friend betrayed you. It's easy to get negative and bitter and lose your enthusiasm for life, but understand today, you are not defined by your past, you are prepared by your past. Every challenge you've been through, every adversity you've faced, God has deposited something on the inside of you. Your character was being developed. Strength was being increased. Your vision was being enlarged. With every difficulty, you can experience a new level of God's goodness!

You may have had unfair things happen, but remember, all things work together for good when you love the Lord! It doesn't say that all things are good, but God will turn your test into a testimony. No matter what challenge you may be facing now, no matter what you've experienced in your past, if you'll stay in faith God will turn it around for your good! Choose to have a resurrection mentality--you may have gone through an emotional death, and burial but it's time for you to rise again. God wants to give you His beauty for ashes, and joy for mourning. He wants to bring you out stronger, happier, healthier, better off than you were before!

God's love goes way beyond any human love you have ever experienced! People may come and go from your life, but God is always with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Human love may be conditional, but God's love is supernatural; it's unconditional, and it knows no limits. There's nothing you can do to earn His love and nothing you can do to stop His love.

Grace is God's unmerited favor. It's kindness from Him that we don't deserve. Grace empowers us and strengthens us. No matter what has happened in your past, you can receive God's grace and forgiveness and start fresh today. You can hold your head up high because His grace is enough. You may not be perfect, but you are forgiven.

When you go around holding on to your past mistakes or think you have to try to make things up to God, it's like saying that His grace isn't enough. Jesus has already paid for your mistakes. All you have to do is receive His grace today and thank Him for His favor and empowerment in your life. In the same way, extend that grace to others. Don't try to punish people for their past mistakes; instead, give them favor to start over. As you allow God's grace to flow through you, you will be strengthened and empowered. You'll see yourself rise higher, and you will enjoy God's blessing in every area of your life.

God promises that He is near to those who call upon His name. It doesn't matter where you are or what you're going through; He is your deliverer. He'll bring light into your darkest hour; He'll bring rain into the dry places; He'll bring restoration and healing to the broken places. When you call on His name, you can be assured that He will respond. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, God will faithfully respond when you seek Him.

Sometimes, people think they have to clean themselves up or change their behavior or habits before they can turn to Him, but that's not what God says. He is ready to receive you just as you are. Even if you feel like a mess, He'll take your mess and turn it into a message. His arms are open wide today. Open your heart and call upon Him. Press on to know Him and His goodness.

Monday, February 23, 2009

God Knows All

When it feels like there is no one that you can turn to, no one that you can trust, remember there is always God. There is nowhere you can go, no state of mind in which you can dwell that is beyond the reach of God. God knows your heart. God gave it to you, remember? God knows all about those things that you have buried so deeply you may have forgotten they exist. God never forgets.

God knows your shame. God knows the things that have angered you, frightened you and caused you to doubt the power and purity of love. God knows all about all of the things that you are so ashamed of you dare not speak them aloud. God knows and is still there with you, because shame is not in God's vocabulary. Forgiveness is!

God knows your fear. God knows all about those things you have done when you were afraid of losing or afraid of being left. God knows what you have done to be accepted. God knows all of the things you could not do because you were afraid to do them wrong. God even knows about the things you want to do but are afraid to do because you fear you don't really deserve them. God knows what you deserve. God also knows what you have left undone because of anger, hurt, fear and shame. You, like God, know that those are the things that make you feel guilty and, in response, you have closed your heart. God knows every nook and cranny of your heart. What you may not know is, if you are willing to open your heart to God, God will take the old, hurtful, shameful, guilt-ridden things out and put some new, good things in.

Until today, you may have allowed shame, guilt, fear or anger to close your heart. Just for today, find one thing that you are willing to cleanse from your heart. Give it to God in word, thought or writing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Let Go of Hurt

No words can bring back what you believe was taken from you or fix what you believe to be broken in your heart. No matter what is said, or how it is said, words cannot heal or open a heart that has been closed by pain. When your heart has been closed in anger or fear, only the power of love can open it.

There is absolutely no-thing anyone can say or do to make you trust them once they have betrayed you. You will not depend on someone once they have let you down. No matter how hard they may try, no one can find the words that will make you forgive them once you have decided you cannot. In either of these states, you are not open to love. You are holding on to grievances, judgments, expectations or demands. You seek punishment or revenge. And no matter what anyone may say or do, you will not feel fulfilled. In this state, you are not open to love. Instead, you are intent on the punishment of yourself and others.

Many of us have had the experience of shutting our hearts down. We do it unconsciously to protect ourselves. We do it in response to the pain of losing love. We do it to ward off the desperations of unrequited love. You see, when a heart goes into shutdown, the love that is required cannot come from someone else. It is a love you must bring forth from within yourself. This is the love required to heal, and it cannot get in or get out as long as you are holding on to grievances, judgments, expectations or demands.

Until today, you may have closed your heart to protect yourself. Just for today, open the doors of your heart. Release all grievances you are holding against others. Allow one person to do something nice for you, say something nice to you. If your heart does not open just a little bit today, try it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Loving Confusion

Have you confused loving someone with wanting to be in a loving relationship with them? Have you confused caring about someone with wanting to be around them all of the time? Have you confused having needs and desires with needing to have those desires fulfilled? Chances are if you have confused any of these things, you may not know it.

It is perfectly natural and normal for a human being to want the companionship of another human being. We want to be held and heard, honored and respected, cherished and valued by someone. You can have these things in your life, in one form or another, but if they are not tied up in the bow of an intimate, loving relationship, you may wonder why nobody wants to be in a relationship with you.

We get confused about what a relationship is and what it says about us. We confuse the need for loving care and concern with our desire to be in an intimate union. We also confuse a good, loving, platonic relationship with some form of rejection. To be in a relationship is a choice! Human beings have a right to choose to be or not to be in a relationship. What they choose may have nothing to do with you.

People can love you and care about you without experiencing you in an intimate, loving relationship.

I know this may be a little hard for you to swallow. It may also be confusing. I offer you this: Cool out on the demand to be in an intimate, loving relationship! Open your eyes to the love in the relationships you have right now!

Until today, you may have been confused about the people who chose not to have an intimate relationship with you. Just for today, be devoted to embracing the love, support and comfort you receive in the relationships you have with family, friends and coworkers.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How to Succeed at Being Yourself, Part 3

We must receive grace, favor and mercy, but many people don't know how to receive at all. We are accustomed our society to working or paying for everything. We struggle to get, but God wants us to freely receive. Again and again, the Bible speaks of receiving from God. He is always pouring out His blessing, and we should, as empty, thirsty vessels, learn to take in freely all that He offers us.

Jesus came to deliver us from struggling, not to invite us to a new way of struggling under the banner of Christianity. When we learn to ask and receive, truly our joy will be full. Once we have freely received, then we can freely give. In our society today we find very few people who are able to freely give. If we never learn to freely receive from Jesus, we will never learn to freely give to others.

Satan has done a good job of deceiving us into believing that we must earn of pay for everything. We have somehow been convinced that we must struggle and strive to get what we want from God. We must learn more about receiving and come to the realization that according to God's Word all of His blessings come by grace, through faith.

We are saved by grace through faith, and we must learn to live our daily lives the same way. Grace is something that cannot possibly be earned, it can only be received as a free gift.

Grace is the power of God to help us in area in which we cannot help ourselves. If we are to live victoriously, we must realize our impotence and exercise our faith in God's grace. He is more than willing to help us if we are willing to give up our independent attitudes.

God will not permit us to succeed without Him. If He did, we would take the credit that is due Him. If we could change people, we would be changing them to suit our purposes, which would steal their freedom to make their own choices.

Many believers are frustrated in their Christian experience because they don't understand how to freely receive grace, favor, and mercy. They are always working at something, trying to earn what God only gives by grace through faith.

First Peter 5:5 teaches us that He gives grace only to the humble. The humble are those who admit their weakness and total inability to truly succeed without God's help. The proud are always trying to get some credit. They want to think it is their ability that accomplishes what needs to be done. Proud people have difficulty asking, and even more difficulty receiving.

Once we understand grace, we must grow in learning how to receive it in every situation. Trusting God fully is something we grow into. The more we trust God, the stronger we are spiritually. The more we trust ourselves, or even other people and things, the weaker we are spiritually.

We only learn to trust God by doing it. We grow in grace by practicing putting our faith in God and receiving His grace in situations that are difficult or impossible for us. Sometimes we put our faith in God, and He gives us grace for a deliverance. At other times we put our faith in God, and He gives us grace to "go through." We must leave that choice to Him and know that either way we can have victory, but only by grace through faith.

If you are struggling with something right now in your life, ask yourself honestly if you are putting your faith in God that His grace will meet the need. Remember, grace is unmerited favor to us sinners. It is God's power coming into our situations to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

God's grace manifests in each of us in a different way, but whatever we are good at or successful at is due to the grace of God. None of us is gifted in every area, and even in those areas in which we are gifted, we are rarely perfect. These things keep us dependent on God and not ourselves. In order to succeed at being ourselves, we must understand how to receive grace, favor and mercy. We cannot receive something if we do not even understand what it is. It is vitally important to remember that grace is God's undeserved favor which we receive through our faith. It leaves us thankful and living our lives with an "attitude of gratitude."

Favor is available to us also, but like many other good things in life, just because something is available to us does not mean that we will ever partake of it. The Lord makes many things available to us that we never receive and enjoy because we never activate our faith in that area.

I think we all have some personality quirks that can turn people off, so praying for favor is a wise thing to do. When God gives us favor, people favor us - and often for no reason they can even explain. If three people applied for the same position and were all equally qualified, the one living under the favor of God would get it.

Favor is actually a part of grace. The grace of God is the favor of God. And the favor of God is the grace of God - that which causes things to happen in our life that need to happen, through the channel of our faith - the power of God doing something for us that we can neither earn nor deserve.

When we say to someone, "Can you do me a favor?" we are asking that person to do something for us that we have neither earned not paid for. We are depending on that individual's goodness to manifest in the form of a blessing, even though there is no natural reason for it to be given.

We can see that favor is very valuable and necessary in order to succeed at being all God intends us to be. We should pray for supernatural favor on a regular basis and expect to receive it. To be very honest, it is just plain fun to watch God favor us in certain situations.

I know you have had times to receiving favor, and I am sure you enjoyed it very much. I am encouraging you to release your faith in this area in a greater way than ever before. Don't be afraid to ask God to give you favor.

I believe there are many things God would do for us, if we would be bold enough to ask. Boldness in prayer cannot be obtained without an understanding of mercy. We all make mistakes, and our reward should be punishment, not favor. That is exactly why boldness is required to go before the Lord and ask first for forgiveness and then for mercy. Forgiveness takes care of our sin, and mercy blesses us even though we don't deserve it. Forgiveness is actually a manifestation of God's mercy. He forgives us because He is merciful and long-suffering.

We all deserve punishment, but instead God gives us mercy. What an awesome God we serve! God's mercy forgives and restores. Under the Old Covenant when people sinned, they had to make sacrifices to atone for their sins. Jesus became the perfect and final sacrifice for all those who would believe, and He now instructs us to receive mercy from Him for our failures and to give mercy to others who fail.

This does not mean there is no correction or punishment for sin, but God always tries to draw us into righteousness through His love and mercy before dealing more harshly with us. It pays not to be stubborn. Repenting and receiving God's mercy is much better than enduring His chastisement.

Some people cannot appreciate the mercy of God until they have experienced a bit of His wrath. God is never wrathful against His people; His wrath is always against the sin in their lives. He hates sin; and we must learn to hate it also.

Like God, we must hate sin, but love the sinner.

In a certain sense the word receive is synonymous with the word believe. We cannot receive something if we don't believe in it. In the spiritual realm, when you and I believe something, we receive it into our hearts. If a physical manifestation is needed, it will come after we have believed - not before. In the world, we are taught to believe what we see. In God's Kingdom, we must learn to believe first, and then we will see manifested what we have believed.

The Lord is willing to take every negative thing that has happened to us and turn it into something positive, if we will only believe. Believing is the key to receiving from God! No matter what has happened to you in the past, if you believe, you can receive the good future that is set aside for you in Jesus Christ Who came to do the will of His Father in heaven.

You and I can only realize and experience the glory of God in our lives because of Christ in us. He is our hope of seeing better things.

The glory of God is His manifested excellence. As the children of God, we have a blood-bought right to experience the best God has planned for us. Satan furiously fights the plan of God in each of our lives, and his primary weapon is deception. When we are deceived, we believe something that is not true. Even though it is not true, it seems true for us because that is what we believe.

When we look at ourselves and our own ability, we feel defeated, but remembering that Christ in us is our hope of realizing the glory. It keeps us encouraged enough to press on toward better things. We limit ourselves when we look to ourselves alone and fail to see Jesus. We can be excellent people with excellent attitudes, excellent thoughts and excellent words. God's glory can be manifested in us and on us, but only as we believe it is possible.

God is looking for someone who will believe and receive. Start expecting more of His glory in your life. He is waiting to manifest His glory - to you and through you!

God asks you and me to put our faith in Him and to believe that we can do whatever He asks us to do. He is mighty to uphold us and make us stand. He will support us and keep us from falling.

God's strength is readily available to us. We receive it through believing in it, and the promise God has made to give it to us. When we can say we are strong with a heart of conviction, even though we are weak in ourselves, the Lord will be strong in us - we will experience victory in our lives!

Just because we don't feel strong when we think about a situation does not mean that we won't be strong when we need to be. God's strength comes to us by His grace, through our faith, but He rarely gives us the strength we need before we actually need it. In this way we must trust Him, which is our part. God asks us to trust Him, and as we do, He does the part we cannot do.

When we awake on any morning, we don't know for certain what may be happening to us that day. We all hope for easy days in which all of our desires are being met, yet we know from experience that is not always the case. We live in a real world, with real problems. Our enemy, the devil, is real, and he is working through everyone he possibly can to bring discouragement, fear and failure to us because we belong to God and put our trust in Him.

Psalm 91 teaches us that through trusting God we don't have to be afraid of the devil's sudden surprises that stalk us. No matter what may come our way, we should believe right now that when it arrives we will be able. If we trust God, He will make us strong, and we will not be defeated.

We need to remember that we are ready for anything, equal to anything, through Christ Who infuses inner strength into us. Inner strength is actually more valuable than outer strength; we need to stand up on the inside and refuse to believe the lies of satan.

Isaiah teaches us to wait for the Lord when we know our strength needs to be renewed. Waiting for God mean spending time with Him in His Word and His Presence.

There are certain people we can draw strength from just by being around them. Their very presence, the way they talk and approach life, seems to make us feel better when we are discouraged or feeling down in any way. Likewise, there are others who can always make us feel worse. They have a way of putting a negative edge onto everything.

When you and I need to be strengthened, we should spend time with God and with people filled with His Spirit. Spending time in God's Presence is like sitting in a room filled with sweet-smelling perfume. If we sit there long enough, we take the fragrance with us when we leave. It will be in our clothing, in our hair and even in our very skin.

We can receive from satan by believing what he says, or we can receive from God by believing His Word. We all believe something, it may as well be something good. Always remember that it does not dost anything to believe! Try it, you will find your life changing in an amazing way.

When our strength is in God, even the difficult places in life can be turned into blessings. That's why we need to constantly keep our minds and hearts focused on Him and not on our circumstances.

It is wise to occasionally take an inventory of our thought life. It may be that we have lost our joy and are failing to realize why.

Satan wants us to think that nothing will ever change, that things will only get worse. He wants us to inventory every disappointing thing that has ever happened in our lives and think about how mistreated we have been. We will absolutely never fulfill our destinies and succeed at being all God has planned for us if we don't think properly.

Don't think according to the past, think according to the Word of God. Those with a sad past need to be able to believe in a bright future.

A vision is something we see in our mind. It may be something God plants in us supernaturally or something we see on purpose. It involves the way we think about ourselves, our past and our future. Some people are afraid to believe. They think they may be setting themselves up for disappointment. They have not realized they will be perpetually disappointed if they don't believe.

I feel that if I believe for a lot and even get half of it, I am better off than I would be to believe for nothing and get all of it.

I am challenging you to start believing good things. Believe you can do whatever you need to do in life through Christ. Don't have a "give up easy" attitude. Let your faith soar. Be creative with your thoughts. Take an inventory: what have you been believing lately? An honest answer may help you understand why you have not been receiving what you have wanted to receive.

It seems to me that someone in life is always trying to get us to sit down. They tell us not to make waves, not to be heard or noticed. They want us to simply go along with the program others have designed and forget about what we want personally.

Standing up on the inside does not mean being rebelllious or having an aggressive attitutude toward those who don't understand us. It means having a quiet inner confidence that takes us through to the finish line. It is knowing inside that despite what is going on the outside, everything is going to be all right because God is on the scene, and when He is present nothing is impossible.

In order to succeed at being ourselves, we must be faithful to God all the way to the end. We must never quit or give up.

The only way we ever reach our final destination and succeed at being our true selves is to take many, many steps of faith. Stepping out into the unknown - into something we have never done before - can leave us shaking in our boots.

Because of feelings of fear, many people never "step out," therefore they never "find out" what they are capable of.

Some people get into trouble simply because they are unable to admit they made a mistake and find a new direction. It is very difficult to get into serious trouble stepping out one step at a time. But those who won't step out are already in serious trouble because they will never accomplish anything in life.

Another safety factor we have followed is being sure our hearts are right concerning the thing we are doing. We have to be sure we have pure motives and are doing it solely because we believe it is God's Will.

Some people get into trouble because they do what other people think they should do. Others do things to get attention or to imitate what the see someone else doing.

Other people can want things for us, but we must want them ourselves or we will never press through the difficulties that come with giving birth to a new thing.

The Word of God tells us that we will have persecution. Satan brings opposition, trouble, trials and tribulations in the hope of driving us away. If we intend to succeed at being ourselves and being all God wants us to be, we must be prepared to stand strong in times of persecution.

If we will keep standing up on the inside, God will take care of the outside.

When we think of sacrifice, we must always remember that what we sow as a seed, God uses to bring a harvest. When we are called upon to make a sacrifice, we should not feel deprived, but privileged.

We don't have to be comfortable all the time. It is time to shake ourselves into reality and start doing what He asks us to do, no matter what the cost.

In God's mind we are never successful if we stop somewhere along the way. He wants us to finish our course and do it with joy!

If you have been tempted even recently to give up - don't! If you don't finish the thing you are currently involved in, you will face the same challenges in the next thing you start.

If you and I want to move into new levels of glory, we must do so by moving into new levels of faith. Remembering that faith is confidence in God, we can say then that we need to move into new levels of confidence. We should be confident in every area of life.

This kind of boldness does not mean we will never make mistakes. Making a mistake is not the end of the world as long as we are teachable. We dwell too much on the negative and not enough on the positives.

Instead of worrying about what we might do wrong, we should keep standing up on the inside and pressing forward, attempting to do something right. We can be so afraid of making a mistake that we end up never doing anything.

When you pray, do it standing up on the inside. What I mean is, do it respectfully, yet aggressively and boldly. Maybe you have not been asking for enough. Perhaps when you pray you don't do it boldly, standing up on the inside. Pray for all you can dare to ask, think or desire.
God is challenging us to pray for big things.

When our desires seem overwhelmingly big, and we don't see the way to accomplish them, we should remember that even though we don't know the way, we know the Waymaker!

God has a way for us to do everything He places in our heart. He does not put dreams and visions in us to frustrate us. We must keep our confidence all the way through to the end, not just for a little bit and then when it looks like the mountain is too big, give up!

It is untold what people can do - people who don't appear to be able to do anything. God does not usually call people who are capable; if He did, He would not get the glory. He frequently chooses those who, in the natural, feel as if they are in completely over their heads but who are ready to stand up on the inside and take bold steps of faith as they get direction from God.

We usually want to wait until we "feel ready" before we step out, but if we feel ready then we tend to lean on ourselves instead of God.

Know your weaknesses and know God - know His strength and faithfulness. Above all else, don't be a quitter.

I challenge you to make your mind up right now to do something great for God. No matter where you started, you can have a great finish. If people have mistreated and abused you, don't waste your time trying to get revenge - leave them in God's hands and trust Him to bring justice in your life.

Know what you want out of life, what you want to do. Don't be vague! To be confident means to be bold, open, plain and straightforward - that does not sound like a vague, sheepish, fearful individual who is uncertain about everything. Decide to leave your mark in this world. When you depart this earth, people should know that you have been here.

People who have lost their confidence usually become passive and even lazy. They don't believe they can do anything, so they want everyone else to do things for them.

Don't let your thoughts be down and negative, speak positively about your future. When you find it necessary to speak of the unpleasant past, always say, "God will work it out for my good,"

Whatever may be troubling you from the past, shake it off! God has a great future planned for you. The dreams of the future have no room for the snake bites of the past!

I am trying to build a fire in you that will never go out. Stir yourself up and refuse to take on a spirit of coldness and deadness. Fight those negative thoughts that are holding you in bondage. Jesus wants to make you whole. He doesn't want to fix part of you, He wants to fix all of you: body, emotions, mouth, mind, attitude, will and spirit.

God wants to make you whole, completely whole. Don't be satisfied with anything less. Keep pressing on until every area of your life is healed.

God is on your side, and if He is for you it really does not matter who is against you. The giants may be big, but God is bigger. You may have weaknesses, but God has strength. You may have sin in your life, but God has grace. You may fail, but God remains faithful!

When you and I feel convicted, we should repent and change our direction. No more and no less is required or acceptable. If we know how to and are willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we can move on to spiritual maturity and release all the planned blessings of God in our lives. If, however, we ignore this conviction and go our own way, we will find the way very hard and difficult. Our lives will be unblessed and therefore unfruitful.

Satan does not want us to receive conviction, nor does he even want us to understand it. He always has a counterfeit for all the good things that God offers - something somewhat like what God offers, but which, if received, will bring destruction instead of blessing.

I believe satan's counterfeit for true godly conviction is condemnation. Condemnation always produces feelings of guilt. It makes us feel "down" in every way. We feel "under" something heavy, which is where satan wants us.

I spent years not understanding the difference between conviction and condemnation. When I felt convicted for my wrong actions, instead of repenting and receiving God's mercy and grace, I immediately felt condemned and went into my cycle of guilt and remorse.

Stay in the Word. Spend time with God regularly. Refuse to give up, and stop the excessive self-examination. Let God convict you, don't do it yourself.

Truly meek people do not spend excessive time thinking about what they did right or what they did wrong; they simply stay "in Christ."

That is what you should do. Stop feeling guilty and condemned and start feeling bold and free!

Don't think something is wrong with you if you always seem to have to "go through" things and never seem to get a miracle. God has different plans for each of us, and if He requires us to "walk it out" and "go through" it, then He has His reasons.

Going through things and not running from them is one of the major tools God uses to cause us to grow up and to prepare us to be used by Him to help other people. If we never go through anything, we never gain a personal victory over satan. When we "hang in there" personally with God and press through difficult things, "walking them out" and learning from them, then we get a victory that nobody can take away from us.

Being led by the Spirit does not mean that we never make mistakes. The Holy Spirit doesn't make mistakes, but we do. Following the Spirit's leading is a process which can only be learned by doing. We start by stepping out into things we believe God is putting on our hearts, and we learn by wisdom and experience how to hear more clearly and definitely.

Those who suffer from condemnation usually don't believe they can hear from God. Even if they think they may have heard from God and do step out, a minor failure is a major setback to them. Each time they make a mistake, they come under a new load of guilt and condemnation. They end up spending all their time in the cycle.

There is no point in learning to be led by the Holy Spirit if we don't understand that we will make some mistakes while on the journey.

You will make mistakes! Just don't make the mistake of thinking you will never make mistakes. This is an unrealistic expectation that will set you up for devastation.

Be bold. Be determined that you are going to be all God wants you to be. Don't hid behind fears and insecurities any longer. If you have already made major blunders in your life and have been living under condemnation because of them, this is the time to press on!

When we make mistakes, often it embarrasses us. We feel stupid, and we wonder what in the world people will think of us. We cannot always control our emotions, but we don't h ave to be controlled by them! I don't believe anyone has failed until that individual has stopped trying.

Don't look at mistakes as failures, look at them as learning tools. We learn more from our mistakes than any other thing in life.

Sometimes we put too much on ourselves. We try to do the impossible and, as a result, spend our lives frustrated and condemned. If we are going to beat up on ourselves every time we make a mistake, we are going to get a beating every day. Living under condemnation is like getting a beating. Jesus died so we could be lifted, not so we could go on living under things.

Condemnation destroys personal relationship with God. It steals the enjoyment of fellowship with Him. It destroys confidence, prayer, joy, peace and righteousness.

Condemnation steals, kills and destroys! But the righteousness that is found in Jesus Christ brings freedom, joy and life in all its abundance!

If you and I are going to succeed at being ourselves and succeed in life, then we must know how to pray and be willing to give prayer a priority in our daily lives.

Every failure is in essence a prayer failure. If we don't pray, the best thing that can happen is nothing, so that things will stay the way they are, which is frightening enough in itself. We all need change, and the way to get it is through prayer.

It doesn't do any good to pray if we don't have confidence (faith) in prayer.

We must develop confidence in simple, believing prayer. We need the confidence that even if we simply say, "God, help me," He hears and will answer. We can depend on God to be faithful to do what we have asked Him to do, as long as our request is in accordance with His will. We should know that He wants to help us because He is our Helper.

Too often we get caught up in our own works concerning prayer. The length or loudness or eloquence of our prayer is not the issue, it is the sincerity of our heart and the confidence we have that God hears and will answer us that is important.

We need to have such confidence about our prayer life that prayer becomes just like breathing, an effortless thing that we do every moment we are alive. We don't work and struggle at breathing, unless we have a lung disorder, and neither should we work and struggle at praying. I don't believe we will struggle in this area if we really understand the power of simple, believing prayer.

If we don't have confidence in our prayers we will not pray very much, let alone pray without ceasing. This does not mean that we must be offering some kind of formal prayer every moment twenty-four hours a day. It means that all throughout the day we should be in a prayerful attitude. As we encounter each situation or as things come to our mind that need attention, we should simply submit them to God in prayer.

Believe that you can pray anywhere, anytime, about anything. Believe that your prayers don't have to be perfect, or eloquent, or long. Keep them short and simple, full of faith - and fervent.

In the Christian life, prayer is not optional. If we want to get anything accomplished in life, we must pray.

When you and I pray about deliverance from some bondage in our lives or in the life of another, we are in effect, binding that problem and loosing an answer. The act of prayer bind evil and looses good.

Prayers that are outside of the will of God will not be answered except with a no!

When we petition God, we ask for something for ourselves. It is, of course, not wrong to ask God to do things for us, but our petitions should be well balanced with praise and thanksgiving.

It is important to petition God about our future - to pray and ask Him for His help in allowing us to succeed at being ourselves. Our success won't come through personal struggle or vain effort. It will only come as a result of God's grace.

You and I must add our effort to His grace, but effort without grace is useless. Grace comes as a result of asking for it. Asking is praying the prayer of petition. Once again this type of prayer can be prayed with ease.

You and I can be bold in petitioning God for any type of need in our lives. We are not restricted to a certain number of requests per day. We can feel at ease talking to God about anything that concerns us, and petitioning for our own needs and desires is one of the types of prayer we are told to pray.

We should also thank Him always, in good times and especially in difficult ones. When prayers of petition outweigh prayers of praise and thanksgiving in our prayer life, I believe it says something about our character.

Greedy people ask, ask, ask and rarely ever appreciate what they have already received. I do not believe that God will release us into the fullness of all that He has planned for us until we become thankful for what we have already been given.

God intervenes in our situations when we commit them to Him.

Commit to the Lord your personal relationships and especially anything you may be tempted to be concerned about. In order to succeed at being ourselves, we must continually be committing ourselves to God, giving to Him those things that appear to be holding us back. Only God can take proper care of those types of situations.

Worry releases pressure; prayer releases peace.

You and I many find that we have a timetable for things to occur in our lives, and we may also find that things don't happed according to our timetable. It may be disappointing initially, but the best thing to do is give it to God in prayer. As we often say, "Let go and let God."

Only God really knows what needs to be done, and He is the only One Who is qualified to do it. The more we sincerely commit ourselves to Him, the more progress we make.

Pray the prayer of commitment often. Remember, anytime, anywhere is an acceptable time for prayer.

In order for God to use us, we must consecrate ourselves to Him.

When we truly consecrate ourselves to the Lord, we lose the burden of trying to run our own lives. I would rather voluntarily follow God than struggle to get Him to follow me. He knows where He is going, and I know I will reach my destination safely if I allow Him to lead.

Consecration is a powerful thing, but it must be sincere. It is quite easy to sing along with everyone else a song like "I Surrender All.". We may even feel moved emotionally, but the real test is found in daily life when things don't always go the way we thought they would.

Consecration and/or dedication to God is the most important aspect of succeeding at being ourelves. We don't even know what we are supposed to be, let alone know how to become whatever it is. But as we regularly keep our lives on the altar in consecration to God, He will do the work that needs to be done in us, so He may do the work He desires to do through us.

How to Succeed at Being Yourself, Part 2

In order to succeed at anything, we must have confidence, but first and foremost it must be confidence in God, not confidence in anything else. We must develop confidence in God's love, goodness and mercy. We must believe that He wants us to succeed.

God did not create us for failure. We may fail at some things on our way to success, but if we trust Him, He will take even our mistakes and work them out for our good.

Just because we are destined to do something does not mean that it will automatically happen. Confidence is definitely required for any of us to truly succeed at being ourselves. Confidence is actually faith in God. We must learn to be consistently confident, no occasionally confident.

Be confident about your gifts and calling, your ability in Christ. Believe you hear from God and that you are led by the Holy Spirit. Be confident that people like you, and you will discover that more people do. Be bold in the Lord. See yourself as a winner in Him!

Sometimes our confidence is shaken when trials come, especially if they are lengthy. We should have so much confidence in God's love for us that no matter what comes against us, we know deep inside that we are more than conquerors. If we are truly confident, we have no need to fear trouble, challenges or trying times, because we know they will pass.

Whenever a trial of any kind comes against you, always remember: This too shall pass! Be confident that during the trial you will learn something that will help you in the future.

Without confidence we are stifled at every turn. Satan drops a bomb, and our dreams are destroyed. Eventually we start over, but we never make much progress. We start and get defeated, start and get defeated, start and get defeated, over and over again.

But those who are consistently confident, those who know they are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, make rapid progress.

We must take a step of faith and decide to be confident in all things. God may have to correct us occasionally, but that is better than playing it safe and never doing anything. Confident people get the job done, they are fulfilled because they are succeeding at being themselves.

If we don't believe in ourselves, who is going to? God believes in us, and it is a good thing too; otherwise, we might never make any progress. In our lives, we cannot wait for someone else to come along and encourage us to be all we can be. We may be blessed enough to have that kind of support, but we may not.

Confidence is something we decide to have. We learn about God - about His love, His ways and His Word - then ultimately we must decide whether we believe or not. If we do believe, then we have confidence. If we don't believe, we live in doubt about everything.

Self-doubt makes us double-minded. A person cannot go forward until he decides to believe in God and in himself. I encourage you to take a big step of faith and stop doubtin yourself. You have more capabilities than you think you do. You are able to do a lot more than you have ever done in the past. God will help you, if you will put your trust in Him and stop doubting yourself.

Like everyone else, you will make mistakes - but God will allow you to learn from them and will actually work them out to your good if you will decided not to be defeated by them. When doubt begins to torment your mind, start speaking the Word of God out of your mouth, and you will win the battle.

When we are confident and free from tormenting fears, we are able to develop our potential and succeed at being all God intended us to be. But we cannot develop our potential if we fear failure. We will be so afraid of failing or making mistakes that it will prevent us from stepping out. When we are insecure, frequently we will stay with what is safe and familiar rather than taking a chance on stepping out and failing.

When God is ready to move in our lives, we need to believe that He will equip us with what we need at the time we need it. Our problem is not honestly feeling we are not ready for the next step, it is pridefully feeling we are ready when we really aren't. Pride always causes problems and ultimate failures. Humbly leaning on God leads to success. I believe God calls us to step out when we don't feel ready so we will have to lean on Him totally.

Insecurity, self-doubt and fear can totally prevent us from ever reaching our full potential. But if our confidence is in Christ rather than in ourselves, we are free to develop our potential, because we are free from the fear of failure. Potential cannot manifest without form. There must be something for it to be poured into, something that will cause it to take shape and become useful. What stands in the space between potential and manifestation? I believe it is three things: time, determination and hard work!

The amount of undeveloped, wasted potential in the world is pathetic. God places a part of Himself in each of us. We are created in His image, and He is filled with potential - with God nothing is impossible. All of us have potential and many of us want a manifestation of it, but too often we are not willing to wait, be determined and work hard at developing that potential. We have a lot of "wish bone," but not much "back bone."

The development and manifestation of potential requires faith, not wishful thinking.

I hope you have a dream or a vision in your heart for something greater than what you have now. If we are not thinking, hoping or asking for anything, we are cheating ourselves. We need to think big thoughts, hope for big things and ask for big things.

I always say, I would rather ask God for a lot and get half of it, than to ask Him for a little and get all of it. However, it is an unwise person who only thinks, dreams and asks big but fails to realize that an enterprise is built by wise planning. Dreams for the future are possibilities, but not what I call "positivilies." In other words, they are possible, but they will not positively occur unless we do our part.

Far too many people take the "quick fix" method for everything. They only want what makes them feel good right now. They are not willing to invest for the future. Don't just enter the race for the fun of being in it - run to win! There is a gold mine hidden in every life, but we have to dig to get to it. We must be willing to dig deep and go beyond how we feel or what is convenient. If we will dig down deep into the spirit, we will find strength we never knew we had. Quite often we look at a task and think there is no way we can do what needs to be done. That happens because we look at ourselves when we should be looking at God.

If God promises to be with us - and He does - that is really all we need. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Whatever ingredients we are lacking in the natural man, He adds to the spiritual man. We can draw what we need out of the spirit. Most of the things that are truly worth doing are never easy - we are not filled with the Spirit of God to do easy things. He fills us with His Spirit so we can do impossible things!

If you want to develop your potential and succeed at being all you can be, keep your eyes on the prize and press on! It won't all be easy, but it will all be worthwhile.

Most of those who blame everyone and everything for their failures had potential but either did not know how to develop it or were unwilling to meet its requirements.

When things don't work out in our lives, it is not God's fault. He has a great plan for each one of us. It isn't really circumstances that are to blame, because they can be overcome with faith and determination. It isn't other people who are the problem because Romans 8:31 says, ...If God is for us, who can be against us?...Even though people do come against us, and Satan does use them to hinder and torment us, they cannot prevail. If God is on our side, it just does not matter who comes against us; they are not mightier than He is.

The truth is, when things don't work out for us, and we feel that we are sitting on the sidelines somewhere with life passing us by while everyone else is successful, it is because we have not obeyed God, not pressed on and been willing to take giant steps of faith. We have not been willing to look foolish, to be judged and criticized, to be laughed at, to be rejected and labeled radicals who need to calm down and just "go with the flow."

The world wants us to conform, but the Lord wants to transform us, if we will do things His way. He will take us and change us into something more than we could have ever dreamed - if we will refuse to give up and just keep running the race that is set before us.

To develop our potential and succeed at becoming what God intended us to be, we will have to lay aside other things. To be a winner in life we must do those things that support our goals and help us fulfill our purpose. We must learn to say "no" to well-meaning people who want us to get involved in endless things that ulitmately steal our time and produce no fruit.

We must make up our mind and get into agreement with God that we are going to be excellent, not mediocre. We must take an inventory of our life and prune off anything in it that entangles us or simply steals our time. We must be determined, work hard, and refuse to quit or give up - drawing strength from God and not depending on ourselves. If we will do these things persistently, we will eventually have victory.

Those of us who intend to run the race to win must conduct ourselves temperately and restrict ourselves in all things. We cannot expect someone else to make us do what is right. We must listen to the Holy Spirit and take action ourselves.

Self-discipline is the most important feature in any life, but especially in the life of the Christian. Unless we discipline our minds, our mouths and our emotions, we will live in ruin. Unless we learn to rule our temper, we can never achieve the success that rightfully belongs to us. We must resist negative emotions. These include anger, bitterness, depression, despair, discouragement, envy, greed, hate, impatience, jealousy, laziness, lust, pride, resentment, sadness, self-pity and unforgiveness.

"Due season" is God's season, not ours. We are in a hurry, God isn't. He takes time to do things right - He lays a solid foundation before He attempts to build a building. We are God's building under construction. He is the Master Builder, and He knows what He is doing. We may not know what He is doing, but He does, and that will have to be good enough. We may not always know, but we can be satisfied to know the One Who knows.

God's timing seems to be His own little secret. The Bible promises us that He will never be late, but I have also discovered that He is usually not early. It seems that He takes every available opportunity to develop the fruit of patience in us.

Patience is vital to the development of our full potential. Actually our potential is only developed as our patience is developed. It is God's way - there is no other, so why not settle down and enjoy the journey!

Find out what you want to do and begin to train yourself for it. Be relentless in your pursuit of reaching your full potential. Whatever your gift and calling, entrust it to the Lord and begin to develop your potential.

In some ways we should improve ourselves every day. We should go forward, letting go of what lies behind. That includes past mistakes and past victories. Even hanging onto the glory of past victories can prevent us from being all God wants us to be in the future. Make a decision right now that you will never be satisfied with being anything less than all you can be.

Jesus understands us when nobody else does. He even understands us when we don't understand ourselves. He knows "the why behind the what." Let me explain what I mean by that statement.

People only see what we do, and they want to know why we are not doing it better, or why we are doing it at all. Jesus knows why we behave the way we do. He sees and remembers all the emotional wounds and bruises in our past. He knows what we were created for. He knows the temperament that was given to us in our mother's womb. He knows and understands our weaknesses (which all of us have). He knows about every fear, every insecurity, every doubt, all our wrong thinking about ourselves.

Once we enter into personal relationship with Him by being born again, He begins a process of restoration in our lives that will not be entirely finished until we leave the earth. One by one He restores to us everything satan has stolen from us.

Jesus understands us, He loves us unconditionally and He is committed to working with us through the Holy Spirit - and He does not condemn us while He is at it.

The world demands that we change. It persistently give us the message that something is wrong with us if we cannot do what is expected of us. On our own, we will never be able to do all that is expected of us. Our only hope is in who we are in Christ.

We must know who we are in Christ. It is our beginning, the place from which we begin the new life. The truth is, our acceptance by God is based on Jesus' perfomance, not ours. When He died on the cross, we died with Him. When He was buried, we were buried with Him. When He was resurrected, we were resurrected with Him. That is the way God chooses to see all of us who sincerely believe in Jesus. We enter into a loving relationship with God because He accepts us because of His own goodness and not ours.

It is freeing to finally see that our worth and value are not based on what we do, but on who we are in Christ. God has assigned value to us by allowing Jesus to die for us.

God cares about our actions. He wants them to be correct. He actually wants us to grow up and become mature Christians who act like Jesus did when He walked the earth. God wants us to do good works - but He does not want us to depend on them to gain us anything. He wants us to do good works because we love Him. He wants our good works to be a response to what He has done to, for and in us. Many people do good works for wrong reasons, and get no reward for them.

Our motives are of utmost importance to God.

We cannot succeed without stepping out in faith, not works. If we believe our acceptance is based on our doing, we will always feel rejected when we fail to do the right thing. But if we put our dependence on who we are in Christ, rather than on what we do for Him, our "who" will fix our "do."

We are usually to hard on ourselves. We would grow faster if we relaxed more. We cannot live by our feelings in these matters. Satan makes sure we frequently "feel" that we are an unredeemable mess or that God is not working in our lives. We must learn to live by God's Word and not by how we feel. His Word states that as long as we believe, He is working in us!

As we step out to be all we can be in Christ, we will make some mistakes - everyone does. But it takes the pressure off of us when we realize that God is expecting us to do the best we can. He is not expecting us to be perfect. If we were as perfect as we try to be, we would not need a Savior. I believe God will always leave a certain number of defects in us, just so we will know how much we need Jesus every single day.

Jesus stands in the gap between God's perfection and our imperfection. He continually intercedes for us because we continually need it.

We receive through the act of believing; what we believe is what we receive, and nothing else. If we don't believe in the grace, mercy and favor of God, then we cannot receive it. If we believe we must do everything perfectly right to be accepted by God, then we will reject His love even though He is not rejecting us. This wrong thinking and believing keeps us trapped. It is like a treadmill that is going so fast we cannot seem to find a place to get off.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

About Love

Love is simple. We make it hard with our trappings, expectations and demands. We make loving difficult, painful, hurtful and regrettable because we keep trying to figure out how to do love, give love and get loved right. We place limits, restrictions and conditions on our loving and those we love. Sometimes it works. Usually it does not. Then, when we don't get the right kind of love, we feel hurt. We blame love.

Love does not hurt! Falling into the traps we set to get and keep love makes us hurt ourselves. Love is! It is the experience of joy we have when we have the courage to tell the truth, when we have the courage to be exactly who we are and when we allow those we love to do the same. Love is not what we have been told it is by others who have been hurt. Love is not what we have seen in pictures. Love is not a tool or a weapon. Love is the key. It is the key that allows you to see more in yourself, for yourself and about yourself than you would ever dare to show the world.

Love is simple! You simply give love for the sake of love, or you don't! You simply know love and share love, or you don't! You simply are love without demands and expectations or you will continue to fall into traps and hurt yourself because you fail to acknowledge yourself as the love you keep trying to get right!

Until today, you may have believed that there were things you had to do to get love. You may have demanded that others do things to prove their love for you. Just for today, be devoted to evaluating beliefs you hold about love. Take this opportunity to ask yourself whether or not you believe that you are loved, loving and loveable!

The voice of love is always calling out to you. It is whispering gently into your heart, reminding you, "I am here for you! I love you just as you are!" Love offers you everything you need and desire. Love wants to give those things and more because love recognizes the jewel that you are. Do you recognize the jewel that love is and offers?

Love wants to hold you, comfort and lift you. Love knows you! It knows what you have to offer life. More important, you don't have to work to get love! The only work love requires of you is the work you must do on yourself. Work on your heart, your mind, your behavior, your false notions about love that have caused the pain, confusion and despair you believe has something to do with love. While you are working on yourself, love wants you to be aware! Keep your eyes open because there are many things masquerading as love that are not at all loving.

Love will not leave you, nor will it ever dishonor you. Love will not rush you. Love will not come to take anything from you. Love gives to you! Love protects you! Love is the voice of God whispering to you from within yourself. The voice of love telles you that God loves you right now! No matter where you are of what you have done. The voice of love is asking you to tell love where you hurt, tell love why you hurt, tell love how you got hurt. Love wants you to know that it doesn't matter who hurt you, why they hurt you or how long you have been hurting. Love wants you to know that just a little bit of God will heal you!

Until today, you may not have realized that the voice of love is God's voice calling out to you. You may have been so busy trying to find love that you were not available to hear its call. Just for today, listen closely for the voice of love. Be diligent in remembering that love is always available to care for you and heal whatever is ailing you.

You have to really love someone to tell them the truth. Because you love them, you want them to have all the information available to help them be the best they can be. You tell them the truth because you want them to be able to make choices and decisions. You want them to have everything they need to fully weigh their options. More important, when you really love someone, you want to tell them the truth as a sign of your respect for them. You not only love them, you respect that they are capable of handling the truth!

It is not a sign of loving someone to withhold information you think will disturb them. It is understandable that you want to spare their feelings. However, it is not loving! It is not a sign of loving someone to do things you know will cause them grief and lie to them about what you have done. When you love someone, you conduct yourself in ways that not only honor them, but in ways that honor you! When you love yourself, you honor yourself. When you honor yourself, you can honor others with the truth.

It is not a sign of loving someone to watch them engage in conduct that is potentially dangerous and to say nothing. You may not know what to say or how to say it, but if you love someone, you will figure out a way. You will figure out a way to let them know you cherish and honor them, but that you do not support their behavior. When you love someone, it is okay not to like their behavior. It is also okay to let them know. When you love someone enough to tell them the truth, chances are you are giving them exactly what they need in order to realize just how much you really do love them.

Until today, you may have been withholding the truth, censoring the truth or deciding just how much truth a loved one can handle. Just for today, be devoted to finding loving ways to let others know the truth about themselves that you already know. Whatever you have to say, begin with "I love you so much!"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How to Succeed at Being Yourself, Part 1

Most people really don't like themselves. If we don't get along with ourselves, we won't get along with other people. When we reject ourselves, it may seem to us that others reject us as well. Relationships are a large part of our lives. How we feel about ourselves is a determining factor in our success in life and in relationships.

Our self-image is the inner picture we carry of ourselves. If what we see is not healthy and according to Scripture, we will suffer from fear, insecurity and various types of misconceptions about ourselves. People who are insecure about themselves suffer in their mind and emotions, as well as in their social and spiritual lives.

Each of us has a destiny and should be free to fulfill it; however, that fulfillment will not happen as long as we are insecure and have a poor self-image. God never intended for us to feel bad about ourselves. He wants us to know ourselves well and yet accept ourselves.

Nobody knows us as well as God does. Yet, even though He knows us and everything about us, including all our faults, He still approves of us and accepts us. He does not approve of our wrong behavior, but He is committed to us as individuals. God can hate what you do and yet love you; He has no trouble keeping the two separated.

Self-rejection and even self-hatred are the root causes of many relationship problems. God wants us to have great relationships. God's Word instructs us to have good relationships, but it also teaches us how to develop and maintain those relationships.

Receiving is a big issue. When we receive from God, we actually take into ourselves what He is offering. As we receive His love, we then have love in us. Once we are filled with God's love, we can begin loving ourselves. We can also begin giving that love back to God and bestowing in on other people. Always remember: We cannot give away what we don't have!

We all need to ask ourselves what we are doing with the love of God that has been freely given to us. Are we rejecting it because we don't think we are valuable enough to be loved? Do we believe God is like other people who have rejected and hurt us? Or are we receiving His love by faith, believing that He is greater than our failures and weaknesses?

It never occurred to me that I even had a relationship with myself. It was just something I never thought of until God began teaching me in these areas. I now realize that I spend more time with myself than with anyone else, and it is vital that I get along well with me.

You are the one person you never get away from.

We all know how agonizing it is to work day after day with someone we don't get along with, but at least we don't have to take that person home with us at night. But we are with us all the time, day and night. We never have one minute away from ourselves, not even one second - therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we have peace with ourselves.

It seemed to me that I had always had difficulties in relationships and I really did not know why. I could not find people that I liked and enjoyed who also felt the same way about me. Through God's help I finally realized what the problem was: I was trying to give away something that I did not have.

Many times we know what our problem is, but we cannot seem to find the right answer to it. On the other hand, we often discover an answer in God's Word, but we really don't know what our problem is. God wants to reveal to us the nature of our true problems and the answer to those problems that are found in His Word. When we make the right connection between them, when we hook up the right problem with the right revelation - the devil is on his way out, and freedom is on its way in.

If nobody else loves us, we don't see why we should love ourselves. If others don't love us, we think we must not be worth loving.

We may be flawed by the years and the unfortunate experiences we have undergone, but that does not mean we are worthless and good for nothing but the trash can.

We must have the kind of love that says, "I can love what God can love. I don't love everything I do, but I accept myself, because God accepts me." We must develop the kind of mature love that says, "I know I need to change, and I want to change. In fact, I believe God is changing me daily, but in the meanwhile I will not reject what God accepts. I will accept myself as I am right now, knowing that I will not always remain this way."

Once we receieve God's love and begin to love and accept ourselves, it greatly improves our relationship with Him. Until we accept His love, the cycle is incomplete. We can love Him only because He first loved us.

Insecurity and feelings of unworthiness keep us from being able to receive very well. We may feel that we must earn or deserve everything we get. God's plan is this: He wants us to receive His love, love ourselves in a balanced and godly way, generously love Him in return, and finally love all the people who come into our lives. We have failed to follow that plan for years. We are not even loving others with our own love, much less with God's love. Remember, we did not have any love with which to love anyone until God first loved us!

Rejecting ourselves does not change us, it actually multiplies our problems. Acceptance causes us to face reality and then begin to deal with it. We cannot deal with anything as long as we are refusing to accept it or denying its reality. People who reject themselves do so because they cannot see themselves as proper or right. They only see their flaws and weaknesses, not their beauty and strength. We need to agree with God that when He created us, He created something good.

Change requires correction - people who do not know they are loved have a very difficult time receiving correction. Correction does no good at all if it is not received. In order for God to change us, He must correct us. We won't receive His correction properly if we don't have a revelation concerning His love for us. We may hear His correction and even agree with it, but it will only make us feel angry or condemned unless we know it is ultimately going to bring about the change that is needed in our life.

We cannot trust unless we believe we are loved. To grow up in God and be changed, we must trust Him. Often He will lead us in ways that we cannot understand, and during those times we must have a tight grip on His love for us.

Accept God's love for you and make that love the basis for your love and acceptance of yourself. Receive His affirmation, knowing that you are changing and becoming all that He desires you to be. Then start enjoying yourself - where you are - on your way to full spiritual maturity.

God has a good plan for each one of us, but not all of us experience it. Many times we live far below the standard that God intends for us to enjoy. A poor self-image causes us to operate in fear instead of faith. We look at what is wrong with us instead of what is right with Jesus. No matter what God has planned for us, we will never experience it unless we get into agreement with Him.

God does not have a bad attitude toward you - you should not have one toward yourself! Shake off the past and set your sights on the future. Almost every one of us could use some improvement is our self-image. It takes time to grasp the hope for ourselves that God has for us. It is so wonderful and comforting to know that when everyone else only sees our faults, God still sees our possibilities.

In the Bible we find that when people were in trouble, God met them where they were and helped them. Thank God He does not wait for us to manage to get to Him - but He comes to us! The Lord did not wait for me to get all fixed up before He got involved with me. He started with me where I was then and has been responsible for getting me to where I am today. I am convinced that He will do the same for you.

God often makes miracles out of mistakes. Each of us has a destiny, and there is absolutely no excuse not ot fulfill it. We cannot use our weakness as an excuse, because God says that His strength is made perfect in weakness. We cannot use the past as an excuse because God tells us through the Apostle Paul that if any person is in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away, and all things have become new.

How God sees us is not the problem, it is how we see ourselves that keeps us from succeeding. Each of us can succeed at being everything God intends us to be.

A walk is something taken one step at a time. This is an important thing to remember. Keep walking the walk.

We have been considering how to have a good self-image. One way we do that is by realizing that we have not arrived at perfection, that we have some growing to do, but that in the meantime we ae OK. It is true that we have to keep pressing on, but thank God we don't have to hate and reject ourselves while we are trying to get to our destination.

Here are a few thoughts that reflect a wholesome, God-centered self-image:

  1. I know God created me, and He loves me.
  2. I have faults and weaknesses, and I want to change. I believe God is working in my life. He is changing me bit by bit, day by day. While He is doing so, I can still enjoy myself and my life.
  3. Everyone has faults, so I am not a complete failure just because I am not perfect.
  4. I am going to work with God to overcome my weaknesses, but I realize that I will always have something to deal with; therefore, I will not become discouraged when God convicts me of areas in my life that need improvement.
  5. I want to make people happy and have them like me, but my sense of worth is not dependent on what others think of me. Jesus has already affirmed my value by His willingness to die for me.
  6. I will not be controlled by what people think, say or do. Even if they totally reject me, I will survive. God has promised never to reject me or condemn me as long as I keep believing.
  7. No matter how often I fail, I will not give up, because God is with me to strengthen and sustain me. He has promised never to leave me or forsake me.
  8. I like myself. I don't like everything I do, and I want to change - but I refuse to reject myself.
  9. I am right with God through Jesus Christ.
  10. God has a good plan for my life. I am going to fulfill my destiny and be all I can be for His glory. I have God-given gifts and talents, and I intend to use them to help others.
  11. I am nothing, and yet I am everything! In myself I am nothing, and yet in Jesus I am everything I need to be.
  12. I can do all things I need to do, everything that God calls me to do, through His Son Jesus Christ.

Here are some additional suggestions to help you develop and maintain a balanced attitude and a healthy self-image.

  • Always reject and hate your sin, but don't reject yourself.
  • Be quick to repent.
  • Be honest with God and yourself, about yourself.
  • When God give you light, don't fear it.
  • Stop saying negative, downgrading things about yourself, but don't boast either.
  • Don't have an exaggerated opinion of your own importance, but don't think you are insignificant.
  • Don't always assume when things go wrong that it is your fault. But don't be afraid to admit it, if you are wrong.
  • Beware of having yourself on your mind too much. Don't meditate excessively on what you have done right or wrong. Both of these activities keep your mind on you! Keep your thoughts centered on Christ and His principles.
  • Take good care of yourself physically. Do the best you can with what God gave you to work with - but don't be excessive or vain about your appearance.
  • Learn all you can, but don't allow your education to become a point of pride. God does not use us because of our education, but because of our heart toward Him.
  • Realize that your gifts and talents are a gift, not something you have manufactured yourself. Don't look down on people who cannot do what you can do.
  • Don't despise your weaknesses - they keep you dependent on God.

Change does not come through struggle, human effort without God, frustration, self-hatred, self-rejection, guilt or works of the flesh. Change in our lives comes as a result of having our minds renewed by the Word of God. As we agree with God and really believe that what He says is true, it gradually begins to manifest itself in us. We begin to think differently, then we begin to talk differently, and finally we begin to act differently. This is a process that develops in stages. Enjoy yourself while you are changing. Enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going. Enjoy the journey!

How can we succeed at being ourselves if we don't know ourselves? Life is like a maze sometimes, and it is easy to get lost. Everyone, it seems, expects something different from us. There is pressure coming at us from every direction to keep others happy and meet their needs. We put a large amount of emotional and mental energy into studying the important people in our lives and trying to decide what they want from us. We then attempt to become what they want us to be. In the process, we may lose ourselves. We may fail to discover what God wants, or what His intention is for us. We may try to please everyone else and yet not be pleased ourselves.

Are you frustrated from trying to meet all the demands of other people while feeling unfulfilled yourself? If so, you will have to take a stand and be determined to find yourself and then succeed at being yourself. If you buy into the world's strategy, something will be screaming at you from every side. Have you ever felt that you could not be everything that everybody wanted you to be? Have you ever known deep down inside that you really needed to say "no" to a lot of people - but the fear of displeasing them had your mouth saying, "I'll try," while your heart was screaming, "I can't do it!"

Insecure people say "yes," when they really mean "no." Those who succeed at being themselves don't allow others to control them. They are led by their heart, not by the fear of displeasing others or being rejected by them. We cannot get angry with people because they place demands on us. It is our responsibility to order our lives. We need to know our identity, our direction and our calling - God's will for us. We must make the decisions that will keep us pressing toward our goals. We must be focuses individuals with purpose.

Of course, there are times in life when all of us do things we would rather not do. We do things for others because we love them, and we should do that. But in doing so, we are still being led by God's Spirit to walk in love and make a sacrifice for someone else's benefit or welfare. This is entirely different from being controlled and manipulated by other people's demands and expectations.

We are all different. Like the sun, the moon and the stars, God has created us to be different from one another, and He has done it on purpose. Each of us meets a need, and we are all part of God's overall plan. When we struggle to be like others, not only do we lose ourselves, but we also grieve the Holy Spirit. God wants us to fit into His plan, not to feel pressured trying to fit into everyone else's plans. Different is OK; it is alright to be different. We all have limitations, and we must accept them. That is not bad; it is just a fact. It is wonderful to be free to be different, not to feel that something is wrong with us because we are different.

We should be free to love and accept ourselves and one another without feeling pressure to compare or compete. Secure people who know God loves them and has a plan for them are not threatened by the abilities of others. They enjoy what other people can do, and they enjoy what they can do.

If we are really liberated, then we are free to be who we are - not who someone else is! That means we are free to do what God has for us to do, not what we see someone else doing. God wants us looking to Him for answers and direction, not running to and depending on other people. This does not mean that we cannot learn from each other, but we do need to stay balanced in this area. I learned that no matter how much I may want to do what someone else is doing, I cannot do it unless God wills and anoints it for me. He might have a different plan for me. I have to accept that or I will be frustrated all my life.

Dieting vs. Fasting

God told me not to diet, then He told me to fast. This would seem a contradiction; both are a restriction of food. The difference lies in the purpose or motive that inspires them. A diet is designed to help you lose or gain weight. A change of diet may also be initiated to improve or correct health problems. Dieting is a natural physical application that alters our physical well-being, weight, or health. It changes the way we look or feel.

Fasting is not for weight gain or loss. Nor is it limited to natural healing. It is not designed to change the way we look and feel but to change the way we perceive and live. A diet may change the way you look, but a fast will change the way you live. A diet may change your appearance, but a fast will change the way you see; it will alter your inner perspective. The world has perverted and reduced the fast, diminishing it to a diet. As such, it is not a spiritual renewal, but a physical one. The deepest transformations are wrought from the inside out.

Your focus or motive on a fast will be your reward. If God isn't the center, it will be reduced to merely a time of denial.

For too long you've measured your self by your bathroom scale, allowing it to dictate your moods and actions. You haven't been Spirit led - you've been weight led.

To chasten is to "discipline, purify, refine, clarify, and improve." Discipline is training, and we need to be reprogrammed. Chastening is necessary to educate and cultivate a new you. Chastening by fasting begins a purification and refinement of your sould and motives. Once the cravings of your soul are mastered, the cravings of the flesh will follow. When you can no longer comfort your self with food, you run to God for comfort. You can recover all the lost thought-time and productivity that you lend to your obsession with food and weight. All the hours of research and study can be redirected. You can be relieved of the relentless burden of worry and fear over your weight. You are no longer tied to the fragile and fickle red arrow of the scale.

Your whole self-image could be shattered with the slightest changing of the indicator on your scale...your sense of worth is dictated by the opinions or reactions of others to your physical are at the mercy of the scale and public opinion. Fasting changes your perception by changing your focus. This in turn causes you to change the way you live. Don't live for food or weight - live for God. Even on a natural fast you will experience an increase in eyesight clarity. On a spiritual fast you will have your spiritual eyes stripped of scales that have blinded them.

After a fast you will see things differently. Your eyes will be illuminated by God's Word and truth. Your eyes shift off you and onto Father God. A fast will give you a new vision and a new direction for your life. Fasting positions us to acknowledge God's provision in our lives. It communicates that He is our source. We deny our selves food and tell Him, "I only want You and what You provide." When we lay aside the daily routine of food, drink, pleasures, and leisure, we are able to reevaluate our priorities.

Fasting is not just about food; it is about separation. This separation represents a consecration to the Lord. A change in our relationship with Him. God promises to bring His light to our darkness. To heal us and make us righteous. His glory will guard us, and He will answer our prayers and help us out in our time of need.

God wants us to do away with the yoke of oppression. Eating disorders are a yoke of oppression - to those who bear it and to those around them. Oppressed people often oppress others. The pointing of the finger represents accusation and judgment of others. This usually involves comparisons, and if we are honest, we must admit to jealousy. God is admonishing us to get our eyes off our selves, to stop comparing and contrasting our selves with others whether we feel superior or inferior in comparison.

For too long we have spent all our time and energy on the needs of our selves. God wants us to spend our selves on the needs of others, to lift those who are oppressed. He wants the fast to be a turning point where we lay aside accusation and judging. He wants gossip and the destruction of slander stopped. He wants our focus to shift permanently from our selves to others.

God is challenging us to fast so that we might become women who are transformed. There is not one of us who in our own strength could provide everything. No matter how much money or wisdon me have, it will always fail us if we trust in it. God will never fail those who trust in Him.

You may or may not be in a position to fast food. However, even if your emotional or physical state prohibits you from fasting food, everyone is in a position to fast something. It may be TV, telephone, magazines, sports, shopping, or hobbies. All of us have areas in which we hide our selves or waste time. I challenge you to go before our Father and ask Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to expose any areas that could be fasted.

Every believer should fast periodically. It is an act of separation to our Father. The one who fasts must do so with the right motivation. If we are not hungry for God, it is because we have allowed our souls to be satisfied or satiated with other things. God wants to be an integral part of our life every day, not just when we are on the mountain spiritually.

Fasting brings many benefits into our lives. It creates a new hunger. When you become hungry. At first it may be hunger for food or whatever you are fasting, but as the initial hunger pangs or longings cease, a new desire or hunger is formed. Fasting increases sensitivity to God. Fasting works humility. When we fast, we deny ourselves that which might satisfy us. When we deny ourselves food, we often feel our natural strength wanin. In our weakness we find ourselves more dependent. It is a confrontation with the flesh, a time when we deny it satisfaction and provision. It is a time from turning aside from what we can provide and turning toward what God alone can give.

This is often the setting for a confrontation between the spirit and the flesh. I personally find out just how strong a hold my flesh has on me when I fast. This revelation alone is humbling, but in order for the fast to be successful you must allow it to work humility in your. This replaces and reorders your perspective. Fasting chastens or disciplines. Fasting changes our appetite. A fast is a break in our daily routine. It overcomes past cravings and restores or renews a fresh and new appetite. Fasting increases our capacity. Fasting brings answers to prayer. A godly fast will bring answered prayer. It is the atmosphere for answers to questions, direction, help, and the revelation of God. This revelation may come through His Word, or as a still, small voice, or by a strong confirmation of what He has previously shown us.

Fasting leads to quick healing. Many illnesses occur in the digestive system. A short fast gives your body a chance to refocus its energies on healing instead of on eating. Fasting opens the door to God's protection and provision. God promised to be a guard before us and after us. A fast renews your righteousness and sends it on before you. Then as you give God the glory, He returns righteousness as your rear guard. Fasting looses chains of injustice. The kind of fast God lead us into has the power to loose any unjust chains that bind us. It also unties the cords tethering us to any yoke. But this application is not limited merely to a personal liberation for us - it represents God's desire to see us reach out and untie the ties that bind others and remove the chains of oppression.

Fasting frees the oppressed and breaks every yoke. A fast is a time when we take our eyes off our selves and our needs and look around at the oppression and pain of others. In response we learn to reach out in compassion and help, becoming agents of healing. Jesus said that His burden was easy and His yoke was light. When we are carrying a burden other than His, it is cumbersome, awkward, and heavy. There is nothing more frustrating that feeling responsible for something over which you have no authority. It will weigh you down with hopelessness and frustration. During a fast, God checks these areas in our lives and exposes the yokes of fear, worry, stress, and turmoil. He removes them and readjusts His yoke for our life, the one that keeps us dependent upon Him. If you are feeling weighed down, perhaps you are carrying too much.

Fasting is not a burden but a privilege. It is intimate and private. It originated in the secret place between you and God. He waits in the secret place for you to join Him. After we visit with Him in secret, He will reward us openly. Inward transformation brings about outward anointing, blessing, and provision. Inward transformation positions us for the promotion of the Lord. Even in the midst of opposition, the believer who fasts as an act of separation from the world and unto God receives the rewards of God.

This is what God wants for us - that we might be so totally aware of our relationship with Him that we lose consciousness of what is around us..He doesn't want to draw us close to see our flaws, He wants to hold us close to captivate us with His love.

Be Honest in Relationships

You cannot be fully present in your loving if you are happy sometimes and sad most of the time, if you are afraid to leave while you are wondering if you are going to get left. You cannot be fully present in your loving if you are wondering why you should stay or how you can go without hurting and being hurt. You are not present in love if you are afraid to tell the absolute truth about who you are, what you need and what you want. Under these circumstances, you are not present in love. You are in hiding!

Love does not hide anyone! Love stands tall in the truth of what it is for everyone to see and receive it. Love does not tell half the story, some of the time. Nor does love avoid telling its story just to save time and feelings. Love is respectful, honorable, noble and honest. Love is gentle, compassionate, willing to share and able to comfort. Love speaks boldly yet softly. It reaches far without losing ground. You know that love is present when in the midst of the storm you can find something, some one thing, to laugh about and hold on to.

You are not fully present in your loving if you are blaming and not accepting your share of responsibility, if you are not acknowledging your part in whatever is going on or our pain about it. You are not and cannot be fully present in your loving if you are not experiencing gratitude for all you have received, if you are not supporting or sharing your vision for yourself. You cannot be fully present in your loving of another if you are still making excuses for not being present because you are probably in a great deal of pain!

Until today, you may have made excuses for not being fully present in your loving relationships. Just for today, be devoted to being fully present in all of your relationships. Share the truth of your thoughts and feelings. Share the truth about yourself.

More on Enhancing Self-Esteem

When you give of yourself to another person, you are planting seeds. Some of the seeds you plant will bear fruit immediately, but others may not come to fruition for years. When you invest yourself in the life of another, sharing your riches - yourself - you can have an impact on that person for many years to come. In fact, you may change a life forever. Connecting person-to-person is one of the most powerful aspects of life we can experience.

Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response. You are totally responsible for your well-being. Accept the ability to choose. You are the pilot of your life. You're the one flipping the switches, feeding the data, pressing the buttons, stewarding the emotions, and maintaining equilibrium. If you don't take the role as pilot you will become lost. You might end up where someone else wants you to be, but not necessarily where you want to be. When you're making decisions you should always consult your soul. This reinforces your use of internal locus of control, while at the same time enhancing the integrity of your decisions.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Enhancing Self-Esteem

Each time you are honest and conduct yourself with honesty, a success force will drive you toward greater success.

Our attitude toward the world around us depends upon what we are ourselves. If we are selfish, we will be suspicious of others. If we are generous in nature, we will be likely to be more trustful. If we are quite honest with ourselves, we won't always be anticipating deceit in others. If we are inclined to be fair, we won't feel that we are being cheated. In a sense, looking at the people around you is like looking in the mirror. You see a reflection of yourself.

You are in control of your thoughts and actions. Make them work for you instead of against you.

When you think about what really makes up you, the really important things are your heart, mind and soul. It is the inside. It is this part of you that allows your uniqueness, your greatest treasure, to show through.

Your heartprint is what you leave when you touch the life of another person. It is the impact and effect you have on another's life. Heartprints leave indelible imprints, ones that sustain and enrich a life for years to come. The only way to leave a true heartprint is to be uniquely you and to share with another person the essence of who you are - no masks, no charades, just the bona fide you. The magic about sharing the uniquely original you is that the more you do it, the more unique you become. You begin to feel more comfortable and more fulfilled personally.

One of the modes of self-discovery is to emulate behaviors we see in others. You might see someone doing something that you like and say to yourself, "Wow, I like what she did. I'm going to try on that behavior and see how it fits." If you like the way the behavior feels, you might make it a part of you. Bit by bit, piece by piece, you put the puzzle of self together. It is okay and natural to emulate others, but never to the extent that you want to become them. Become you and only you.

Labels are the enemy of uniqueness. When someone labels another person, the connotations associated with the label are negative. Even giving someone a "good" label can be limiting to the person and to yourself. The more you know about someone, the closer you approach the understanding point on the continuum, and the less the label that you originally attached to the person fits. When you make a commitment to understand others, then your labeling of others begins to unravel. The labels are replaced with respect for the uniqueness of the individual. Labels support unhappiness and unfulfilled living. Our job is to create for ourselves a great life. Part of that is determined by how we greet the world. We become what we repeatedly tell ourselves we are.

Smiles are incredible things. They transcend continental borders, cultures, age, and gender. They are not learned - smiles are instinctual. Smiles can connect you with a total stranger, comfort a sick child, enhance an intimate moment, and warm your soul. What a gift - and it was given to you, free. Smiles manifest magic in multiples. Think about what one smile can do. If you are by yourself, it can make you feel good. If you are with one other person, two people now feel good.

Our precious energy should not be expended on other peoples' integrity, but rather on what we are doing to enhance our own integrity. Integrity is the essence of who we are. It is the soul part of us, the center from which we make decisions. Our focus needs to stay within. The only way for someone else to determine your integrity is for them to compare your actions and your words. Consistency shows integrity, incongruence points to a problem. When you don't walk the talk, your credibility suffers, which in turn undermines your relationship with others. You owe it to yourself to match word and deed - the fruits will follow. Walking your talk is a basic level of integrity, integrity as defined by others.

Resolution only means that I am determined to do something, which is much less significant than a promise. We should all be more aware of the promises we make. If you constantly break promises, people will lose respect for your word. Promise-making is serious business because promises have a direct impact on your own personal integrity. Only make promises you can fulfill. Remember that promises you make to yourself are as important as promises you make to others. When fulfilling a promise to someone else, consciously make them aware that you are doing what you promised. Be a role model for others in the promise keeping business. Let people know that promise-keeping is a value of yours. If for some reason you are unable to fulfill a promise, explain why and apologize to the person.

We must constantly have dreams, for they propel us into future opportunities, experiences, and growth. While recognizing thte importance of realizing a specific dream, we must remind ourselves that any single dream is only part of the journey, a signpost on the road of life. When we fulfill one dream, it's time to venture down another path in search of other dreams. Dreaming is a perpetual activity that enriches the spirit and adds luster to your life. Dreams must be acted on. Otherwise, they are just beautiful images painted by the mind. You may think you're being noble when you put your dreams on hold, but by doing so you are stealing from your own reservoir of riches. You deny yourself emotional and spiritual gifts that would add wonder and excitement to your life. When you put your dreams on the front burner, however, your transformed self enables you to touch the lives of others more effectively.

Discomfort tells us something is wrong. It serves as an important and necessary catalyst for action - for change. The essence of dealing effectively with change is your reaction to change. You must give yourself permission to experience change, feel change, and grow from change.
You can get rid of your stagnation. Invite the rushing waters of change into your life and enjoy their cleansing powers. Appreciate the exhiliration that new perspectives and new experiences will bring. By doing this you can grow instead of decay. The life you change will be yours.

Life your own risk. The irony is that risk is one of the greatest gifts we were given at birth. Risk is a lifetime gift that allows us to create ourselves. The reality of being human is that you will make mistakes. As a human being, you are a learning creature by nature and design. When you look at mistakes as teachers, you can enhance your own sense of self. Some of the greatest learning experiences in your life probably came from mistakes you made. The only real mistake is one from which we learn nothing.

Preparation is the foundation for skill development. It is the antidote to fear and the essential ingredient for success. Preparation becomes a magnet that attracts opportunities. The more opportunities you have, the more fruitful your life can become. Preparation reduces risks, creates opportunities, and enhances potential for success. You have to choose for yourself what level of risk you are willing to take.

Love is the most concrete yet elusive of human experiences. Love is the most powerful human phenomenon, yet it is cloaked in mystery. Conditional love really is an oxymoron. True love is not conditional. True love is the union of two individuals who foster an environment where both can grow together and individually, where feelings are expressed with a sense of integrity and openness, where mutual concern for the other is present, and where both lives are enriched through the relationship. Love is the ultimate way of growth.

Relationships are an intriguing aspect of life. They are a study in contradictions; they produce paradoxical feelings ranging from clarity to confusion, from ecstacy to depression, from being on top of the world to being down in the dumps. Relationships arouse conflicting feelings in us, and maybe as a result, we have conflicting, even opposing, sayings about what relationships are.

10 Ways to Enhance a Relationship:

  • Strike a balance between holding closely and giving space.
  • Share decision-making.
  • Focus on the we, not me.
  • Make the relationship unconditional.
  • Grow together and individually.
  • Never take the other person for granted.
  • Share your goals.
  • Be open about your changing life views.
  • Consciously work on renewing your relationship daily.
  • Strengthen the relationships by allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

Relationships change from moment to moment and experience to experience. When you join your life and experiences with another person, you create the unknown, venturing into the worlds of discovery and growth. Your relationship goes through different stages and phases. Relationships change. It's a fact of life. They get better of they get worse, but they never stay the same. Relationships really are like a roller coaster. Reflect for a moment on relationships you've been in - maybe even the one you're in now. You change, the person you love changes. You can positively impact your relationship by openly communicating those changes. By sharing, you constantly clarify who you are and what is important to you. You also open the door for the person you love to share.

A strong relationship is based on the character of the people involved. It develops when you allow your personhood to be experienced by another and vice versa. It's based on emotions, values, beliefs, and interests - not on external perceptions.

Intimacy is the joining of two souls, whether for a moment or a lifetime. It is measured by an unconditional positive regard and respect for another. It promotes the flow of communication and inspires understanding. The guardian of intimacy is trust. Trust promotes, sustains, and cultivates intimacy. Although trust is based on reciprocity, don't hesitate to demonstrate your trust first. You will open the door to a fulfilling relationship and foster an environment where intimacy will flourish.

True friends are those with whom you can meet or speak even after a long absence and still have a magic connection, closing the time and distance. You start where you left off just as if moons and miles never separated the two of you. That's true friendship. Friendship is a rich ingredient in life's souffle. It adds the taste, the fulfillment, the texture. But life's souffle doesn't always turn out well. Sometimes it falls, or parts of it get burned, and sometimes it just tastes stale. Friends help with these disappointments. They provide comfort, the tender hug, or the outstretched hand. Friends let us cry and also help wipe the tears. They strengthen us in times of need.

Friends forgive us when we do stupid things, nourish us when we are emotionally drained, keep us on track when we begin to stray, and speak the truth to us (sometimes even when we don't want to hear it). Friends are the people who accept you the way you are. Period. They're always there for you, even when you stumble. They share your joys and sorrows, your ups and downs, your hair color changes and expanding waistline, your defeats, and your accomplishments. Friendship is a tough but worthwhile job.

One enemy we all have in common is urgency. When our lives become so hustle-bustle oriented we start to lose out on the miracles of living. To live to-now is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Enjoying the moment and living in the present creates tremendous tomorrows and fantastic futures. Not living in the now diminishes the moment and the morrow.

Talk with someone as if it is the last time you will ever talk with them.

Spend your time with people who are positive, people who give you energy (not drain it), who inspire and fulfill you. When you invest your time in these types of people, you want to have real conversations.

All jobs have the potential to provide you with additional pieces for your life puzzle. With each new experience come opportunities for growth. Your challenge is to seize the opportunities. Since life is such a gift, you owe it to yourself to find a job that fulfills your being. Evaluate your job status. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I making a contribution?
  • Am I learning something?
  • Am I having fun?

For me to stay in a job I need to be making a contribution, learning something, and having fun. If one of those is missing, then it's time for me to look for a new job. Regardless of the kind of job, that job helps us clarify our values, beliefs, and desires. We also learn skills and develop talents. The person you are today is a combination of different pieces of your life. Assembled, they make you!

By changing the mindset from "I'm going to labor" to "I'm going to learn," you invite opportunities for growth. Your day is more exciting and more fulfilling. Successful folks have an unquenchable thirt for learning. They also say that the more they learn, the more they want to learn. It is a perpetual cycle that increases in magnitude as life goes on.

As you're coming home from work each day, challenge yourself to identify one thing you learned from the day. Begin your day by telling yourself to be on the lookout for learning possibilities. Transitions can serve as the bridge from ignorance to enlightenment, but you have to be willing wo cross over to discover the riches. Transitions are not easy, especially since emotions are involved.

There is one aspect of living where good intentions are simply not good enough: letting others know how you feel. You need to transform those intentions into action. If you don't share with others how you feel about them, then many things can result:

  • You lose out on opportunities for relationship enhancement.
  • You keep the lines of communication guarded.
  • You might never get a second chance.

Two people would lose out - you and the other person.

Benefits of telling people how you feel:

  • You connect soul to soul.
  • Both parties are enriched.
  • There will be no unfinished business.
  • You create a whole relationship.
  • You free yourself by not harboring ill feelings.

By disclosing your feelings, you let your true personhood shine through. You penetrate into deeper levels of a relationship and discover greater treasures. Sharing feelings creates authentic relationships that sustain us during difficult times, enhance our joys, and strengthen our hearts.

Withholding forgiveness creates a negative force that diminishes your sensibility and limits your self-actualization. Forgiveness cleanses the soul. It restores positive energy that propels you into the world of possibilities, opportunities, and optimal living. When you choose to forgive, you choose to live - fully!