Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Need Your Help!

I'm conducting a short survey for my new book and I need your help!  Would you mind taking this survey for me? It will be anonymous and the results are going to be tremendously helpful for me.  Thank you so much and have a Happy New Year!

Click here to take survey

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Your John 20 Moment Is Coming

We've all been through stuff.  Hard stuff that makes our hearts sick and makes us feel like the world is going to crash in around us.  We all struggle.  Some of us are struggling this moment and some of us have just come through the fires of struggle and are finally on the other side.  Nobody has it all together - it's just some of us are better at pretending than others.

Whether it be childhood abuse, addiction, rejection, divorce, or whatever else your struggles in life have been - you can empathize with those who are going through those same struggles.  Maybe you're in a struggle with God right now.  Is He asking you to give something up that you don't want to let go of?  I've been there.

If you are in the middle of a struggle, just know you are not alone.  And if you've been healed by God either physically, emotionally or spiritually, maybe the Lord helped you to overcome those trials and struggles for such a time as this? We have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ here on earth - to allow Him to live through us as we reach out to those around us who are hurting and feeling hopeless.

It's a privilege to be used by God for this purpose.  With this privilege of being Christ's hands and feet, we cannot lose sight of something very important: The hands and feet of Jesus Christ were pierced on the cross. When we look at the Greek word for pierced, we find the word nyusso, which means "to pierce through, often of severe or deadly wounds given one". Our severe and seemingly deadly wounds have been nailed to the cross and our new lives reflect the same resurrection power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead! We are a new creation, created to do good works in Christ which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)

Some of us want to follow Christ with all of our heart, but like the rich young ruler in Luke 18, when Jesus asks us to let go of the things we think matter the most to us, we refuse to do it.  We think we cannot live without those things in our life.  And it pierces our hearts to imagine letting go of something we consider to be so important and think God is unreasonable for asking us to let go.  I remember when He asked me to let go of alcohol.  I thought it was unreasonable and ridiculous.  But when I finally surrendered it to Him and let go of that stronghold in my life and allowed Him to heal me of that addiction, I finally experienced the freedom I so desperately craved in my life.  But it was hard, I'm not gonna lie.

Are you feeling pierced today? I want to encourage you to read John 19-20. John 19 is the dark, frightening time in Jesus' life when He was scourged, beaten, pierced, scoffed, whipped and ultimately crucified. Things looked bleak. All seemed lost. It seemed as if the enemy was winning. But then came John 20. Hope. Truth. Victory. Resurrection!

There is a "John 20 Moment" coming in your life - hang on and wait for the Lord. Resurrection is a beautiful thing - but death must precede it. This is not a physical death in our sense, but a spiritual one.  We die to ourselves - to our lusts, our passions, our sinful hearts - in order for Him to resurrect us into our new life with our new heart, given by God in His mercy, which beats in us with His passions, His desires and His ways.  What a beautiful gift!

Salvation is a free gift, given by the grace of God alone - but it does cost us something....our life.  We often mistake this as a bad thing. But God's ways are so much better than ours!  Those things we hold onto and think we cannot live without (though we know it is not in God's plan for us to keep holding onto them) are destroying us and keeping us from an intimate relationship with God.  Let go, my friend.  Trust Him.  He knows what is best for you and He loves you more than you could ever imagine.  Abundant life - that is what He has for you.  But you must let go.

We must relinquish everything to Him - every part of our heart.  Yes, it is painful - piercing to the heart, if you will.  But remember our piercing is part of our story and our story is what God can use to reach out to a hurting, hopeless world.  May we all have the courage to allow Him to pierce our souls with His truth, allow Him to pry our tightly gripping hands off of our unfulfilled lives and reach out to the world as a new creation, being His hands in feet to the nations in 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cleaning Up

I knew when I reached into my purse for my wallet that I was only scratching the surface of the gummy mess that awaited me in the rest of my purse.  See, I get tired of gum pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, the other day I got tired of it and put it in a piece of paper and was not in an area where I could toss it in the trashcan, so I threw it in my purse to throw away later.  Problem is...I forgot it was there.  Before I knew it, the gum had escaped the piece of paper and had attached itself to every item in my purse - including my cell phone, my lip gloss and my wallet.  It was a mess and honestly, quite disgusting.

But it got me to thinking.

I realized that I'm like that with sin in my life at times.  I am finished with the sin - ready to get rid of it - but instead of dealing with it fully, I tuck it away conveniently in my heart somewhere, intending to deal with it when it's more convenient.  Before I know it, it is attaching itself to my thoughts, my intentions, my motives and my desires.  It begins to destroy me.  What I thought was temporary now becomes messier than ever.

Is there anything in your life right now that you need to deal with?  Me too.  I'm so tired of the messes that I allow to creep into my heart and my life.  My intentions to deal with it "later" don't ever work the way I plan.  Today is the day.  Waiting is not an option.  It will only get worse.

What do you say we give ourselves a gift for Christmas?  A clean heart and conscience.  I can't think of a better gift for not only myself, but the ones who love me the most.  King David said in Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a loyal spirit within me."  That's my prayer this Christmas Eve.  Our messes are never too messy for God!  He loves us and only He can clean our hearts and make them pure again.

Merry Christmas, friends.  Praying God's grace, peace and joy over each of you today and into the new year! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Blessing of Child-Like Faith

I was reading Isaiah 11:6 and I was so struck by the words "a little child shall lead them". It made me think about how precious children are and how much we can learn from them.  Jesus tells us in the Bible that we are to come to Him with the faith of a child. I love that thought because it’s really obvious to me that children have a very sweet innocence about them that over the years seems to fade away due to disappointments, hurts and frustrations with others. There is also a sense of imagination and enchantment that is lost over the years. But God’s redemption plan in Jesus Christ is actually quite enchanting! Is that a scary word for you? It was for me, too, until I realized what it really just means “a feeling of great liking for something wonderful and unusual”.

Children don’t question – they trust. They are honest and real about their feelings and there is no pretense until people begin to lie to them or ask them to lie. They believe what you say will happen if you say it will until they begin to get let down by those who don't always do what they say they will do. They are humble and know that they are not in charge and willingly submit to that until they see someone else question authority and act out of ignorance.  They get excited when Daddy’s around and jump into His arms with no reservations or doubts that he won’t be able to handle their weight until Daddy doesn't come home anymore and their world begins to shatter. 

I think the reason children are so precious to God is for those reasons. They may be born into sin, but they are a lot more teachable and believing than we are.  Maybe that is why God chose Mary, not more than a child herself (scholars say she was anywhere between 12 and 15 years old) to carry His Son, Jesus.  He knew she would believe Him and accept the call He placed on her life without question.  

I love that the first thing sweet Mary did was run to an older, wiser woman - her cousin, Elizabeth - for advice and encouragement.  That is our role, older friends.  We are to come alongside of those young folks and encourage them, not discourage them.  If you look in Luke 1, earlier on before Gabriel, the angel, came to Mary, you will notice he also paid a visit to Zechariah, Elizabeth's husband.  He told him what God was going to do in his life - God was going to give him (though he was old in age) a son who would grow strong and would announce the coming of the Messiah - but he didn't believe.  He thought it was crazy.  So the angel told him he wouldn't talk until after the baby, John, was born.  

I wonder if that is because God didn't want him speaking unbelieving words when Mary would come around to visit his wife to find encouragement?  Maybe it was a gift - sometimes I kick myself for the unbelieving things that come out of my mouth.  Being struck dumb may have saved Zechariah and many others some unwelcome pain!  It could probably save us and those in our lives that pain at times, as well.  Especially those children who believe in God so whole-heartedly until they examine us speaking words of unbelief and begin to wonder if it's all a lie.

This Christmas, the best gift we can ask for is the faith of a child.  The best gift we can give our children is to exercise that faith in their presence.  I don't know what your situation is, but I know that if God said He is sovereign, He is sovereign over that situation.  He has not forgotten or forsaken you.  He has you covered and He will give you peace that passes all understanding.  Believe it, my friend.  He has promised it.  

As Elizabeth told Mary, I'm going to tell you (from Luke 1:45), "You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mary



Merry Christmas, friends.  You've been chosen as a vessel to carry very precious cargo when you are a believer in Jesus Christ!  Let that sink in for a moment.  And once it does, let it spill out into the lives of all you know and meet this Christmas season as you love, serve and give.  After all, we have the perfect example: Jesus, Himself.

Leslie

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Left Behind

My mom lost me at the Piggly Wiggly when I was five years old (for you who are not in the Southeast, that is a grocery store believe it or not!).  I remember it vividly.  I was terrified!  I couldn't find her so I decided to go out to the car and sit on the hood and wait for her.  I mean, in my mind it made sense because eventually, she would leave, right?  Little did I know, she wasn't going anywhere without me.  She was in a total panic inside the Piggly Wiggly as I sat outside, waiting.  

About thirty minutes later, I saw police cars drive up.  Police were running in, sirens were blaring.  I wondered what was going on in there, so I decided to go look and see.  Oops.  They were looking for me!  My mom came running over to me, sobbing, picked me up and swung me around in the tightest hug I'd ever received.  She said "Where have you been!?"  I said "I was at the car...I knew you'd come there eventually."  The police left and I thought I'd be in some big trouble at that point but she didn't seem to be mad.  I think her relief trumped her anger.  Whew!

As a mom, I now understand why she didn't leave the store. We don't look for our children who are missing and then say "Oh, well.  I suppose I'll just go home now.  Too bad I can't find my child but life goes on!"  No, we search frantically.  We search without abandon.  We love our child and the thought of something happening to our child will send us into a complete tailspin.  I've lost my children briefly and I can tell you, the world seems to stop.  It's terrifying!

In Luke 2, we read about how Mary & Joseph lost Jesus once.  They were leaving Jerusalem after the Passover feast when He was twelve years old.  They traveled with a large group of people because they assumed Jesus was with them in the group somewhere.  (This kind of reminds me of the movie Home Alone, but I digress...)  They traveled all day and that evening when they went to look for Him, they couldn't find Him.  The Bible says it took three days for them to find Him.  Wow - can you imagine?  My heart races as a mom as I think about the lack of sleep, the guilt, the fear, the total panic they must have been feeling!

When they finally found Him at the temple, they didn't know what to think.  Mary said "Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere!"  He asked "But why did you need to search?  Didn't you know I must be in my Father's house?"   He was genuinely amazed that they didn't know where to find Him - especially since they knew who He really was, the Son of God.

Have I ever been comfortable, surrounded by people, focused on a destination or goal of going somewhere, only to leave Jesus behind?  When I go searching for Him, will I blame Him for not coming with me or will I realize that in my confusion and lack of focus, I just assumed He had come along?  I must search for Him and make sure He is with me before I go anywhere.

You've probably heard the saying "If you feel like God is not with you, just remember, He's not the one who moved."  This is a prime example.  I cannot blame Jesus if I feel distant from Him.  I probably got distracted, probably got caught up in being busy or in a goal and just assumed He was following me.  But is that the way it works?

Jesus says "Follow Me."

If there is anything in your life today that is pulling you away and distracting you from the most important relationship in your life, I urge you to seek the Lord's guidance on how to find the balance you need in order to seek Him first above anything else.  Is it another person?  A task?  A goal or a dream?  What about a hobby, the computer or television?  He has not left you - He loves you and He wants to connect with you but sometimes we need to consciously disconnect in order to recognize our distractions can become idols in our lives when we put them above time with Him.

Jesus is genuinely amazed when we don't know where to find Him, just as He was amazed that His parents didn't know where to find Him.  He says He will "never leave you, never forsake you." So where is He today?  "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"  1 Corinthians 3:16

He's in the temple, of course.  Not a temple made by human hands, but in the hearts of those who believe in Him. 
 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Baby Steps

It's very rare that I complete everything on my to-do list.  Maybe that's because I'm a lofty-thinker and think that I can do more than I actually can, but sometimes it's because quite frankly, I am a poor time-manager (something God is definitely working through with me!).  When I don't accomplish everything, I tend to be very hard on myself.  But lately I've been feeling accomplishment because of something I've figured out.

Even if I do nothing else to clean my house for the day, I make my bed.  It's the one thing that I know I must do.  It's a decision I made and I'm not going to go against it.  My mind is made up!  It's my first step, I suppose you could say, to trying to be more time-efficient. And it's really amazing how good I feel!  I've never been a bed maker because I figure I'm just going to be getting back into it that night, so why bother?  The only time my bed every got made before was when people were coming over. Otherwise, it went unmade.

But for the past few months, I've made a decision to change that.  My mentor once told me that if the bed is made, the room looks 70% clean, no matter how unclean it really is and I can honestly say she is right!  The bed makes up 70% of the room and if that is made, it gives the illusion of clean and for some reason in my mind it makes me feel accomplished and I've been a lot less hard on myself as a result when I don't finish the rest of my "to-do" list!

Baby steps are all that are needed in making changes.  I think I overwhelm myself with getting everything right instead of getting a few things right.  I think I assume the whole house must be clean when really it's just a few things a day that will keep it tip-top.  I can't believe it's taken me so many years to figure this out!
 
It's like this spiritually, too.  When we become a Christian, often I think we expect that everything will be completely different right away, but really God doesn't over-whelm us - He is patiently working in us but will do it one step at a time, gently and methodically.  Once that one thing is improved, He moves on to the next.  It's a gentle and amazing super-natural thing that only He can do in us.  When we put pressure on ourselves to get it all right at the moment we surrender, we end up discouraged and frustrated.

I think about when my kids took their first steps.  I didn't yell at them and scream,"That's not good enough - you need to learn to do it right before you start walking!"  Rather, I was proud of them as I watched them take a step, fall down on their cute little diaper butt and get back up (about a hundred times!).  I know that's how God feels about us.  He's proud of us for trying and not angry with us when we fall down.  He just wants us to get back up again.

Yesterday I didn't make my bed.  It was the first time in months and honestly when I went to bed last night I felt discouraged.  I thought that it was the beginning of a downhill slide.  But as I prayed as I lay there before going to sleep, I felt God whisper to me, "Just make your bed tomorrow. Let it go."

In life there will be times when things we thought were improved in our life - like a bad habit, an ugly emotion or a destructive pattern - will come back to taunt us.  This is not the beginning of the end!  This is just real life.  But the key is to remember that you wake up the next day with the attitude of, "I may have messed up yesterday but today I'm back on track", instead of the natural human thought process of "Oh, man, this is the beginning of the end.  I messed up so now I'm doomed."

Changing the way we think can work wonders.  Don't allow discouragement keep you from moving forward in your walk with God.  If you fall, just get back up again.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not Just Another Love Story Ladies Conference Info

Once our hectic schedules of the holidays are a thing of the past, it's time to take a well-deserved break and join us for a ladies weekend get-a-way in the Charlotte area at NarroWay Productions where we will all gather and enjoy some time of rest and rejuvenation together while growing in our faith and being reminded of God's deep and abiding love for us!

DATE:   FEBRUARY 3 and 4, 2012 

EVENT:  Not Just Another Love Story Ladies Conference 
(NarroWay is located just south of Charlotte, NC just off Interstate 77 at the Carowinds Boulevard Exit).

The Not Just Another Love Story Ladies Conference is the first of its kind!  It will include:

  • a powerful Broadway-style dinner theater show from NarroWay Productions (dinner compliments of NarroWay - no need to do the dishes, ladies!) The show is based on the Biblical book of Hosea and set in the 1940's during World World 2
  • powerful worship and praise with recording artist and worship leader, Cindy Kessler along with Paige Brydon and Kendra Husband from Steele Creek Church of Charlotte's own worship team
  • Three bible-based sessions that will focus on our "heart condition" from Leslie Nease, International Speaker and Weekend Radio Host on HIS Radio
  • lunch served on Saturday, compliments of Narroway Productions.  
  • Cost is just $95 per person!
Just to whet your appetite for what is to come, here is a video preview of the Friday night show, Not Just Another Love Story:




Here's the schedule for the weekend get-a-way:

Friday Night: 
6:00pm-9:30pm Not Just Another Love Story and dinner at NarroWay Productions
(Menu will be tender pork loin, home-style stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, buttered cream peas, oven-baked apple crisp, dinner roll, sweet iced tea or water)

Saturday: 
9:00am-9:20 Worship with Cindy, Paige and Kendra
9:20-10:30 - Session #1 w/Leslie Nease (Testimony in Drama - The Heart of the Matter)
10:30-10:50 - Break 
10:50-11:20 Worship with Cindy, Paige and Kendra
11:20-12:30 - Session #2 w/Leslie Nease (Heart Troubles)
12:30-12:45 - Break
12:45-1:30 - Lunch
1:30-1:50 - Worship with Cindy, Paige and Kendra
1:50-3:00 - Session #3 w/Leslie Nease (Heart Overflow)

Tickets are limited!  Please order your seats early!

To register online, please click here and click the "Register Now!" button.  Then click "Select Tickets" where you will then choose the option "Heart Conference Package" and after you choose your seat, you will be led through the rest of the registration process.

To order over the phone or to find out more info on local lodging discounts, call NarroWay at 803-802-2300.

For more information on the sessions, please contact Leslie at lnease@leslienease.com or call 704-617-3108.

See you in February!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Mother's Heart

I've often thought that what a blessing it would have been to be chosen by God to carry His Son, Jesus.  When Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, saw Mary and understood that she was carrying the Messiah, she said "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" Even Mary knew she was blessed.  In Luke 1:48 she said "from this time on all generations will count me blessed."


And she's right, we do consider her blessed.  But I'm beginning to also see that with that blessing came tremendous difficulty.  As a mother of four, I cannot imagine the pain and anguish Mary also had to go through, even though she was blessed.  Kids are a blessing, no doubt about it.  But any mom can tell you that with that tremendous blessing comes some intense vulnerability as we begin to love more deeply than we ever thought possible. With that blessing comes deep pain as we begin to let go of them.

Can you imagine how Mary must have felt as she helplessly watched her son carry the cross down the streets while people mocked Him, spit on Him, hurled insults at Him and whipped Him?  What about how she must have felt as she watched Him die on the cross while Roman soldiers tortured Him, little by little, until He finally took His last breath?

I know deep down in her Mom heart, Mary wanted to rescue Jesus, to step in and make it all go away.  I cannot help but remember the times my son, Tommy, would fall on the soccer field as a young boy and I would jump up out of my chair, run over, bandage the knee, give it a "mommy kiss" and wipe his tears.  I would be at his side before I realized what was happening!  What restraint and resolve Mary had to be able to watch and not intervene in the sufferings of Christ, her son.

Where did Mary get that resolve?  How did she get so strong?  In Luke 2:19, we read that as the Shepherds gathered around a newborn baby Jesus, Mary "treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart."  In Luke 1:33 we see she marveled at the things that were said about Jesus as Simeon prophesied about Him.  Mary knew these were moments she should treasure and ponder in her heart.  She also pondered it in her heart when Jesus was twelve years old and He had been sitting in the temple in the midst of teachers, asking them questions and listening to them for three days.

That word "ponder" in the original Greek means to "struggle with".  I wonder if she knew that since He would end up sacrificing His life, she would need the strength that these important and inspired events would give to her in the future?

As a mother, I often find myself pondering important and beautiful moments in my childrens' lives.  For instance, when my 6-year old Tommy (who is now 19) looked up at me and said "Mommy, God did a really good job when He made you. Can I marry you?"  Or when a 5-year old Stephanie (now 22) looked at the bright moon on a clear night and said "God must have cleaned heaven today."  Or when a bad dream invaded sweet 6-year old Peyton (now 11) and she ran to my bedside and said "Mommy, can I sleep in your room tonight? I feel closer to Jesus when I'm with you because you remind me of Him."  There was also the time when a 3-year old Kennedy (now 13) said "Mommy, I want to be just like you when I grow up".   

These and many other special moments fill my mom-heart with joy.  I can draw on these moments when things get rough in their lives and I find myself unable to make the pain go away with a "mommy kiss".  I have to watch helplessly on the sidelines as they are knocked down in life and instead of jumping up to make them "all better" I watch them get up, dust themselves off and say, "I'm good!"  I have to trust as I let them go, one by one, that I've done all I can to raise them right.  I have to trust that they know I'm there for them, even if I can't make all the hurts and consequences of wrong choices go away.  I have to trust that God has a plan for their lives - even if that plan may include allowing pain with a purpose into their lives.

I am strengthened as I ponder the truths of God's Word each day.  Verses like Proverbs 22:6 "Raise up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" and "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6) give me tremendous peace as a mother!  Knowing God's Word and treasuring the important and special moments in our childrens lives can give us courage as we all let go or watch them go through difficult times and help us to trust God with their lives.  After all, He loves them even more than we do (hard to believe but true!).

Mary and Jesus both knew that the pain He went through had a purpose.  It didn't make it easy, but I can see that God's grace strengthened them and helped them through those difficult times.  Yes, we call Mary blessed - but deep down I know that with that blessing came tremendous difficulties, heart wrenching pain and a resolve to allow it all to happen because she trusted God's plan for His life.

As I ponder these things in my heart this morning, my prayer is simple..."Lord, please give me grace and strength to trust Your plan for my children's lives - even if it doesn't make sense to my mom-heart."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's the Most Fattening Time of the Year!


It’s the most fattening time of the year!
There’ll be much over-eating; on diets we’re cheating
Til the the New Year is here...
It’s the most fattening time of the year!

It’s the nap-nappiest season of all!
While food is digesting, our bodies are resting
Can’t get into gear…
It’s the most fattening time of the year!

There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling with lots of cocoa
There’ll be food inventories
And tales of the glories
Of Christmas feasts long, long ago!

It’s the most fattening time of the year!
There’ll be much egg nog flowing
And muffin-tops showing
As extra weight starts to appear…
It’s the most fattening time of the year!

It’s the most fattening time…
It’s the most fattening time…
It’s the most fattening time….of the year!

Sorry, friends - I couldn't resist. :)  Made this up on Thanksgiving to be sung to the tune "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year".  Love you all!




Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

In celebration of the coming festivities, I wanted to share this poem that I like to share annually, which I wrote a few years ago as I lamented the Holiday party pounds I seemed to gain each year!  Hope you will enjoy it...


(Photo by Carol McDaniel Photography)

Twas the night before Christmas, when to my surprise
I saw in the mirror someone I didn't recognize.

I was too busy to notice the weight I'd put on,
The holidays were upon me and soon they'd be gone.

The cookies, the pies, the holiday cheer!
Who cares about the weight? I'll just lose it next year.

Nobody will notice - it's winter, you see.
I'll just wear big sweaters and many layers to cover me.

January will be here and I'll join the local gym.
That's when my resolution will kick in!

I'll work and I'll sweat and I'll lose all the weight!
I'll do all I can to fit into my size eight.

Wait!  Didn't I say that I'd do that last year?
When my size was a six before my holiday cheer?

But it's never too late to start eating right!
So I'll put out the cookies and this battle I will fight.

I really do mean it - I've got to feel better.
I can't spend the summer hiding in this big sweater!

So here I go, look out!  I'm ready to sweat!
This Christmas season I will not regret.

And you'll hear me exclaim as I jog out of sight...
"Merry Christmas to all - may your clothes not be tight!"
 
 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

God's Greatest Teachers in My Life

My two youngest girls have been teaching me a lot about faith lately.  I always enjoy learning from my children (they are the greatest tools God uses to teach me!).  As a matter of fact, my oldest daughter, Stephanie, is one of those whom God used to show me what a real relationship with Jesus looks like!  You can read about my story with her by clicking here.  Lately, my two girls who are still at home have been teaching me such deep and powerful truths.  Now, it's not as if they set out to do it intentionally, but as I watch them live their lives and learn to love and trust Jesus more, I am learning and growing myself.
Kennedy & Peyton

My 11-year old daughter, Peyton, has been showing tremendous faith recently.  This morning I shared on my facebook and twitter accounts something she said during the tornado warning last night that just blew me away.  During the storm, we had to move to the basement in order to stay safe (it was literally within a few miles of us) and as we sat down there, I realized she was calm.  She even had a smile. This is a little girl that used to be afraid of everything!  She said, with complete confidence, "Mom, I'm not afraid of this tornado. God told me that He has big plans for my life and I haven't done anything big yet."  I was speechless.  I don't know that I have ever trusted God so much in the midst of such a literal storm!  I think she just did something big - at least in my heart!

Here's another example:  A few nights ago, she was sleeping in my room with me.  She was talking with me before we turned out the lights about how many people were believers in the world.  She heard someone say 2 billion.  But she knew there were 7 billion people in the world.  She was very concerned about this and so I told her to pray about it and see what God would say.  We turned out the lights and I rolled over to go to sleep.  A few minutes later I hear her sweet little voice, "Mom!  Is there a verse in John 16:3?"  I said, yes, but I wasn't sure what it said.  I asked her why.  She said she asked God why so many people were not Christians in the world.  So I looked it up.  This is what it said:

John 16:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 This is because they have never known the Father or me.
Peyton & Kennedy in younger years!

We were both shocked!  Peyton gasped and wondered if God does that all the time with us!  Could this be a coincidence?  No, I don't think so.  I don't believe in coincidences.  A man I used to know who passed away several years ago used to say, "There are no coincidences, only God-cidences!"  I believe that. 

I also have a 13-year old daughter named Kennedy.  I was watching The Passion of the Christ with her the other day and was so struck by how much of the movie she knew was prophetic or scriptural.  She'd comment, "Mom, wasn't that to fulfill the prophecy about how Jesus would refuse the drink on the cross?" or she would say, "Mom, I'm so amazed how God knew the Jewish people would crucify Jesus but He allowed it because it was all a part of His plan."  Seriously?  At 13 she is noticing this stuff?  I looked her in the eye and said, "Kennedy, I didn't realize you've really been listening all these years!"  She giggled.  I'm ashamed to admit I never thought they were really listening.  I thought maybe those teachings were too deep for them to grasp.  I was wrong.

God is doing something big in our children's lives!  Let's not miss it.  Remember, the prophet Isaiah spoke..."A little child shall lead them." Are we attentive to our children and are we helping them build their faith?  They are listening.  They can handle more than we could ever imagine.  They are hearing from God, I believe this with all of my heart.  Do we have the faith of a child?  Because they have the kind of faith we all desperately need.  Faith that doesn't question.  Faith that believes.  Faith that keeps us from fear.

Peyton and I were reminded the other night, there are 5 billion people in the world who have never known Jesus.  We are here to lead them to Jesus!  And how will they be led to Him through our example if our faith is frail and based on the wisdom of the world?  I want the faith of a child.  I'm so thankful God has given my children to me as an example.  They are not perfect (let's be real here!), but they are listening and they are growing in their faith every single day!  What a blessing.



 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sigur Ros - Fljotavik (Icelandic Music)

Sometimes you don't need to understand the language to understand the heart behind the music.  I think this group has one of the most unique and beautiful sounds I've ever heard.  The group is called Sigur Ros and they are from beautiful Iceland.  This video has a message we can all relate to...we all love, we have all lost and we all must go on in spite of our pain.  Life is not always "fair" but there is always Hope.  Always.

Though I cannot understand Icelandic, I wanted to give you the English translation of this song in case you were wondering:

We see over spars
a sea, we're cutting from
We're sailing on the mast of faith
We're sailing, stretching ourselves
to the steersman on the bridge.
We're sailing on the land
on a big stone, on the sand
We're wading into land
unknown place
Yes, ...
I felt myself happy there.
We are really thankful
in the pail of disaster's house.
And we slept...fell asleep
the scary storm was outside...far away.

For those of you who may be wondering...Sigur Ros is not a "Christian" band, but I do believe God has gifted these guys with a powerful talent and even though I cannot understand the words, I can definitely appreciate the music and the art behind it.  Enjoy! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Interview with Erik and Jaime Huffman

This is their original Zhan Hu Tribe - Jaime & Erik met when they were cast for Survivor China in 2007.
For the latest Real Life with Leslie Nease Podcast, I'd like to introduce you to my fellow Survivor China castaways and now dear friends, Jaime & Erik Huffman.  We sat down at their one-year old son's birthday party a few weeks ago and chatted about all of the amazing ways their lives have changed since competing on the show in 2007.  

Erik and Jaime were not on my tribe on Survivor, but I had the opportunity to spend some time with them on the show when their tribe "kidnapped" me as part of a challenge.  Jaime and I got to know each other very well when our tribe kidnapped her as part of a reward challenge, too!  You will love getting to know them and hearing their story.  God definitely had a plan for their lives - beyond what they could have ever imagined - when He sent them to China and introduced them to each other in such a unique way!  They may not have won the million dollar prize, but they won so much more.  They met each other on the show and now have a wonderful life together in the Greenville, SC area.

Below is the podcast link - enjoy the show and enjoy meeting some very special people in my life - Jaime and Erik Huffman.
Dancing at their wedding in 2009
Their Rehearsal Dinner Cake! (ha!)


Me meeting Harper Huffman for the first time - I was moved to tears. :)




Harper's 1st Birthday Party!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is Jesus a Crutch?

Someone asked me once if Jesus was just a "crutch" in my life. This person thought it was weak of me to depend on something (or someone) other than myself and he thought people who claim to follow Jesus were just using Him as a crutch - an excuse to not deal with the reality of life.

When he first asked me this, I was really taken back. Of course I said "No way! He's not a crutch to me at all!" I never thought of Jesus as a "crutch" and certainly didn't feel like I was using Him as an excuse to not deal with the reality of life.

I couldn't shake his question, though. I looked up the dictionary definition of crutch.  Here is what I found: a staff or support to assist a lame or infirm person in walking, now usually with a crosspiece at one end to fit under the armpit. This really struck me as I read it for many reasons.

It immediately made me think of the Psalm 23 where it says "Your rod and Your staff - they comfort me". The dictionary describes a staff as this: a stick, pole, or rod for aid in walking or climbing, for use as a weapon. In the hand of Almighty God, a staff can protect us and defend us! And I don't know about you, but that sure does give me comfort.

I could not help but notice that a crutch is used for the lame or infirm person in walking. Honestly, I love this. I'm fully aware of the fact that without Jesus Christ, I am lame and completely infirm. That is why I came to Him. In order to walk out this life, I need Him to help me. Without Him nothing is possible, but with Him, all things are possible.  As my pastor says, things are "Him-possible"!

I was drawn to the part in the definition that said, "a crosspiece at one end to fit under the armpit." That, to me, is so rich in meaning when I apply it to the kind of support that Jesus offers me. There are days when I just don't feel like I can go on. Those are the days when He lifts me up by the armpits and carries me on. Psalm 28:8-9 says "The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever."

The fact that the crutch has a "crosspiece" is not lost on me, either. How is it possible that Christ can carry me, support me, have a relationship with me and give me strength for this weary life? Only because of what happened on that Cross on Calvary.  He took my punishment on the cross.  I recently re-watched The Passion of the Christ and was again reminded of His deep and unfathomable love for me.  Every whip, every hit, every nail, all of the pain and suffering - it should have been me.  I was the one who deserved that punishment!  I deserved to die! But He loved me so much that He took my place. The crosspiece on the crutch is a reminder of the Gospel that sets me free!  And He did that for you, too.

So, I suppose if you asked me today if Jesus was my "crutch" I'd say absolutely. I do not lean on Him so I don't have to deal with the realities of life, though.  I lean on Him because only with Him am I capable of dealing with those realities!

He paid a great price to be my "crutch" and I gladly take Him up every day and lean on Him so my lame feet can walk on this earth. I can't do it alone! Thank God He provided The Way so I don't have to.

Isaiah 35:1-6 says "...they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert."


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Battle Begins (An Honest Confession)

This particular blog is going to be the hardest and most difficult one I've ever written.  It will be wildly transparent and honest and it will probably make some of you judge me, while most of you who know this battle all-too-well will understand perfectly.  If people being real about their struggles bugs you in any way, I invite you to quit reading right now. 

For those of you who are still with me, I want to let you know how much I appreciate your willingness to "go there" with me.  (smile)

In 2004, I wrote a book about fitness called Body Builders: Cross Training.  I've been a fitness instructor for over eighteen years and I've battled obesity in my past and somehow managed to dig deep enough to lose sixty pounds through healthy eating and exercise.  I have helped write curriculum for Lifestyle Rehab, a program we used to teach at the YMCA.  I was Mrs. North Carolina in 2001 where I went around educating the public about the importance of physical fitness for children in order to prevent obesity-related health issues in their future.  I helped scores of people meet their fitness goals and lose weight as a personal trainer.

Fast forward to November, 2011.

I am now struggling with my weight again.  I stepped on the scales yesterday because I could tell it was time to stop pretending.  None of my clothes fit.  I feel grouchy and I feel heavy.  I knew I had to fight this horrific battle, yet again.  What I saw when I stepped on the scales made me absolutely nauseous.  It felt like a powerful blow to my gut and it immediately brought tears to my eyes.  Not because I feel like my scales define me.  Not because I care what anyone else thinks.  But because I know better.  I know how to take care of myself and I haven't been doing it.

Now, I will say that spiritually, I've been great.  I've been very good about my quiet times.  God has really been working in my life and using me to share His truth with others.   I have a wonderful, personal relationship with God.  I used to get up early to exercise, but now I get up early to read and study and then the exercise, which I always think I can fit in later, never happens.  Sure, I walk.  I do the minimum.  But since I quit teaching fitness classes in May of this year, I really haven't pushed myself consistently the way I need to and I've put on about fifteen pounds.  When you teach intense fitness classes for eighteen years, you cannot just stop working hard!  You actually have to work a little harder in order to get your heart rate up to where it was when you would teach in order to keep the weight off or even just to maintain.  It's difficult.  And I've been lazy about it.  And now I have to pay the price.  It's so humiliating. Some sins are easy to cover up and hide - but not this one.  It's obvious to everyone.  And it's got to be dealt with!

Here's the big issue:  Satan knows I'm struggling with this and he has been having a wonderful time belittling me, telling me what a failure I am and trying to convince me that everyone is talking about how, "Leslie has really let herself go!  Didn't she write a book about fitness?  What a failure!".  I know in my heart that these are just thoughts - not reality - but it's been extremely difficult and I can tell I'm beginning to believe some of these lies as I struggle within, silently.  In my past experience, shining light on dark things in my life makes the enemy run for the hills - so this blog is doing just that.  I don't want to struggle in the dark anymore - I want to shine light on what is going on in my life and invite those of you who are having the same struggle to join me!  We can do this - but we need to confess it, accept God's forgiveness and move forward in His strength - together.

So...the reason I'm writing this blog is because I just want to confess this to you, my friend and reader.  I think sometimes people can read blogs about others and think that person has it all together.  I don't ever want anyone to get that assumption from reading my blog.  This is Real Life, remember? :)  I also believe in accountability and think it's one of the most important things I can do to make a change in my life, aside from surrendering my issues to the Lord (which I have done).  I've repented to God for neglecting His temple (my body) and He has forgiven me and given me grace and peace as I go out to fight with Him leading the way!

If you are in this battle, or if you know you should be and haven't picked up your armor yet, why don't you join me?  My friend and I have come up with some questions we have written down to ask ourselves each morning, as a template for our journaling.  Why not copy these questions and begin the journey with us? 

1.  Did you have a quiet time with God today?
2.  Did you exercise today?  What did you do?
3.  How much TV did you watch today or how much time did you spend online?
4.  What did you feel guilty about today?
5.  What were you afraid of today?
6.  What are you thankful for today?
7.  What do you need to repent of today?
8.  What do you to ask God for today?

Answering these questions for the past few days has been very insightful for me.  I also began to journal my food intake and exercise at www.myfitnesspal.com.  I invite you to join (it's free!) and it's easy to use (look me up - we can be accountable to each other there!).  You will be amazed at what a wonderful tool this is.

I want to encourage you to take the first step.  From what I remember, those first few weeks are by far the hardest.  But once you begin to see results, you will be amazed.  I also want to encourage you to read a chapter from my book Body Builders (you can read it FREE here at Google reader: click here) called "Food for Thought", which will help you tremendously in knowing what to eat and how often to eat.  It's a quick read but I think it will be helpful to you. 

As I have been attending fitness classes lately, the verse from Hebrews 5:8 keeps coming to mind as my heart is beating out of my chest and I feel like giving up...."Even though Jesus was God's Son, He learned obedience through suffering."  If that's how He learned obedience, why would I be any different?  And in my mind I know that the suffering will end.  Eventually, my body will enjoy the exercise - but I have to go through some tough times before that will happen.  I'm okay with that when I keep it in perspective and allow Him to remind me it's going to be worth the effort.

As we all go forward, let's remember Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." I know I can do this - in His strength.  And so can you.

Much Love,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dancing Leaves

Strolling along the beautiful walking trail in my neighborhood lined with trees, I saw some leaves dancing on the ground.  My first thought was "What on earth would they have to dance about?  They're dead!"  The poor little leaves.  It looks like their "hayday" is over.  They are withered up and they've fallen to the ground only to be raked away and toted off as trash.  It's a shame, because they look so beautiful on the outside with all the reds, oranges, yellows, purples and browns scattered across the walking trail.  But just because they were beautiful, that didn't change the fact that they were not alive anymore.

But they were dancing...

I wonder... if the leaves could think, what would they think?  Maybe they would recall the days when they were just a tiny bud, bursting into the warm sunshine with excitement and a zest for life.  Each precious day, they would soak in the rain, the sun and enjoy the warm breezes that blew through, prompting them to sing in unison with the other leaves holding tightly to the tree branches as they all rustled with the wind in harmony.

I wonder... if the leaves could think, would they think back to the day that they realized things were beginning to change? Life was beginning to get more difficult and the sun wasn't shining down on them as much.  Their colors became more beautiful and vibrant on the outside, but inside they were not feeling beautiful or vibrant at all.  I wonder if they knew something was wrong.  Instead of a welcoming breeze, the winds were chilly and uninviting.  I wonder if they recall the moment they realized they were hanging on by a thread to the tree...ready to fall to the ground, to give up and just let go at the first sign of the next breeze. 

I wonder... if the leaves could talk, would they tell us how it felt to float gently to the ground the day they finally let go?  The force of the wind was more than they could bear.  They had to surrender.  Would they tell us tales of how they would lay there, among other beautifully colored leaves, wondering what was going to happen next as they huddled together, terrified and vulnerable.  Would they admit that they pondered if this was the end of the road for them - that there was nothing left?

Then I wonder...if leaves could talk, would they tell us about the day the wind gust began to blow through their huddle with a powerful blast and instead of singing with the other leaves up in the tree as they did in their youth when those gusts would go through, they found themselves dancing with those very same leaves, all dressed up in their autumn colors, as if they were celebrating their new life!  A chance to dance freely - given only by the strength of the powerful and mighty wind.

Yes, the leaves may have been dead...but the wind brings life to them.  So they celebrate!  They are filled with hope again.  Life is different now, and their path is determined by the wind these days, not by the security of the tree branch they so tightly held onto before the change.  They must trust not in their own strength to hold on now, but in the wind's strength to carry them through to where it would have them go.  Their mourning has turned to joyful dancing and they are clothed with joy!

What a beautiful picture this has given to me of the life God gives to us through His Spirit.

Psalm 30:10-12

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
      You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
      O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!


John 3:8
 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
 
 

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Difficult Path

Yesterday I went on a hike with my husband and our two oldest kids.  It was a perfectly beautiful day in the mountains of North Carolina.  We began our hike up the "difficult" path, a very steep, rocky path that had me breathless in the first minute or so, but it was worth the hours of effort to see the beauty from the peaks of the different mountains we were able to ascend.  Seriously, it was breath taking!

As we were hiking one of the more difficult trails, my daughter Stephanie and I decided we would go slowly.  No need to hurry, we though, because we didn't want to risk hurting ourselves out in the middle of nowhere!  There were these little trees on either side of us at one point that had sturdy branches we were able to hold onto at moments when we felt we might slip. The trail was still a bit wet and even a tad icy from a storm just a couple of days ago.  The branches were so sturdy, it was as if someone was holding out their hands to help us!

Stephanie mentioned how timely it was that those trees were so readily available for us to grab onto at just the right time.  She said, "Every time I feel like I'm going to fall, it seems there is a tree right there for me to hold onto.  Kind of like life - just when I feel my feet are slipping, God always sends someone I can grab onto to help me up."

Ah...this was turning into the perfect day.  Family.  Nature.  Sunshine.  Exercise. And now, a spiritual analogy!  (smile)  I love hearing God speak to me in the things of nature.  As I thought a few moments about what she said, I added, "You know, that's so true.  God always provides someone to help keep us from slipping.  But their roots must be deep in Him if they are going to be able to hold us up!"

Do you have someone in your life who keeps you from slipping?  Do you have an accountability partner, a friend, a mentor - someone you can depend on, whose roots are deep in God's Word and who can help keep you from falling flat on your face in the midst of a rocky, slippery path?  If so, why not take a moment to thank them today? Maybe they are not even aware that they are that person in your life. 

And one more question...are your roots growing deep in Christ and God's Word?  Our roots determine our spiritual sturdiness.  If our roots do not go deep, we will wither away during times of difficulty. (Luke 8:13)

We are not meant to walk this difficult path alone.  We are here to encourage one another, to love each other and to be rooted deep in God's Word so we can be a sturdy help for others in their time of need.  The view from the top will be worth the effort!  And together, we can do all things through Him who gives us strength.

Colossians 2:6-7  "And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wholeheartedly

Jeremiah 29:11-13 "For I know the plans that I have for you," says the Lord.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.   If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me."

I read this scripture passage this morning and kept backing up over the word "wholeheartedly".  According to the dictionary, the word means fully or completely sincere, enthusiastic, energetic, etc.; hearty; earnest.  Am I seeking God like that?  Because if I am, that means I'm going to find Him.  There are days when I know I'm not seeking Him like that - the days when I can't find him no matter what or how hard I try.  So what signs can I look for to know if I am seeking Him wholeheartedly?  Here's some ideas that come to mind...

Am I seeking His approval before others?
Am I seeking His will above my own?
Am I seeking His praise above man's?
Am I seeking His Word or the advice of my friends?
Am I seeking His Kingdom or my own?
Am I seeking His truth or the way things seem to look in my life?
Am I seeking fulfillment in what I can do for God or in my personal relationship with Him?

These questions can help me to know if I'm seeking God with all of my heart.  When we seek other things first, even if they are good things, we are not seeking Him with all of our heart.  When we look at things from an earthly perspective, we can lose sight of God completely.  But when we look at things from an eternal perspective, everything changes.

Today, I pray we will not base our faith on our feelings, our friends, our expectations on others or our emotions. I pray each of us will seek Him first above everything else.  He tells us in Matthew 6:33 that when we do that, everything else falls into place.

I like that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's Just a Little Sin...


My friend had someone come to her home to fix her broken car windshield. She was disappointed because apparently, they don't replace the entire windshield anymore - seems they just fix the ding with some sort of ding fixer and it supposedly makes it all better. The only problem is, she can still see it! And it's right in front of her face - a total distraction.  She is going to have to replace the windshield altogether at her own expense, since insurance won't cover fully replacing it.

I see a parallel here.  James 2:10  says "For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws." Sometimes we often think that one sin is worse than the other - like maybe if we think an evil thought or gossip "just a little", God won't look at it as that big of a deal.  I've even heard people say they think they will go to heaven since they have never murdered anyone; as if there are sins that we can actually get away with, but some we can't. 

The truth is, once we break even one of the laws, we've broken the whole thing.  Just like my friend's window.  We can try to fix it or cover it up, but the flaw will still be there.  Did you know that God didn't give us the law (the Ten Commandments) so we would follow them?  He knew we couldn't!  He's not putting unrealistic expectations on us - He is showing us our realisitic condition.  According to Romans 3:20 "No one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands.  The law simply shows us how sinful we are."  So, even our seemingly "tiny" sins are enough to ruin us.

Even if the only sin you've ever committed is checking the box "Yes, I have read these terms and agree to the conditions" when you haven't really done it (smile), you are a sinner in God's eyes.  Just like the window that cannot be fixed with "ding fixer", we must be replaced in order to be made new.  Why?  Because our sinful condition is unacceptable to a Holy God - He will not tolerate it and it's for His good and for our good that He judges our sin.  But if all of this seems hopeless, think again.  God's love for us is beyond comprehension.

How do we get "replaced"?  God has us covered by His Insurance Policy....

  
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.  And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  Romans 3:21-22

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:26-27

For more information on what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit www.christianityexplored.org.  





Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Platforms, Motives & Ministry

There can be tremendous pressure in westernized public ministry.  If you are in ministry, you probably know exactly what I mean.  Don't get me wrong - real ministry - the kind that comes from a heart to serve, a heart to love and make a difference for the Lord - that's different.  I'm talking about commercialized, public "ministry" where the world tells you that you must make it big in order to be significant and make a difference - you know, build a platform, create a persona, seize every opportunity to get your name out there - so that's what you do.  You try.  You wear yourself out.  Then you question your motives.   I have been through this and I can tell you, it's the hardest thing I've ever struggled with. There's a fine line between promoting the message God has given you and promoting yourself.

I spoke to a friend once who told me that she was discouraged because she was a Christian speaker who couldn't find anyone to publish her book.  She said that they told her that her story (her testimony) wasn't "edgy" enough.  She didn't feel she'd ever be able to succeed in ministry because she didn't have one of those rags to riches (spiritually speaking) stories that seem to sell books.  It made me wince when she said this.  I knew she was right, according to the publishing world...but I also knew her heart for ministry was genuine and I knew she would be successful in God's eyes - even if that meant she'd never "make it big" in the world's eyes.  He's looking at her heart, not her popularity.  My heart breaks when I hear believers who grew up in a Christian home, who never had to go through a big "gory story" say that their testimony isn't interesting!  I think it's a beautifully encouraging story when you can share with people that it truly is possible to live the Christian life from an early age and it can actually carry you through adulthood!  Wow, that's a testimony in my book.

A couple of years ago, I was in serious talks with a book publisher who wanted to publish a book with me.  We had the first three chapters done and the proposal done.  But then I found out from CBS that I couldn't even mention the word Survivor in my book or they would not approve it.  So I thought I'd just try to change the way I wrote it and not write about anything that had to do with Survivor.  Well, I was basically told that without my Survivor platform, I was not going to be a good risk for publishing because nobody would know who I was.  They closed the door on that deal quickly.  My literary agent parted ways with me, since I was an "unknown".  I was devastated. It hurts to be told you are a "nobody" and it took me a very long time to recover from this blow. 

I was also once told that unless I have a published book, nobody will want to bring me in to speak.  I have a self-published book, but that's different (I was told that a self-published book was a big no-no to publishers, too - I just couldn't do anything right!) I bought into this for awhile and felt very discouraged because I felt that God had given me a speaking ministry - and I find tremendous joy in sharing God's word and my story of His faithfulness in my life with others.  So I prayed.  I just finished my quiet time and I read in Matthew 7 about the wise man building his house upon the rock while the foolish man built his house upon the sand.  During my prayer, the Lord whispered to my heart:  Leslie, Survivor is a sinking sand platform.  I want you to build this ministry on the Rock - the solid Rock - Me.  You may be "unknown" to them, but I know you and I love you.  You are mine.

After this prayer, I gave up my quest to be a more well-known speaker and get a book published.  I just totally let it go.  I was trying too hard.  Yuck!  Usually that is a red flag that I'm doing something God hasn't asked me to do.  Desperation doesn't look good on anyone. It's not about being well-known - it's about doing ministry from the heart.  Ministry is actually out of the overflow of a heart that is full and in love with the Lord.  If my purpose in doing something is so that publishers will notice or so that people will know ME, then I'm in it for all the wrong reasons. 

I don't want to be self-promoting...I want to be Christ-promoting. I want people to seek Him, not me.  And you know what?  God, Himself, has lined up speaking engagements for me this past year and a half.   I've been busier than ever!  He's doing it - not me.  I'm just trying to be content in whatever He has for me at this time.  One day at a time - one step at a time - with my eyes focused on Him. I can honestly say this past year and a half of ministry has been the most rewarding yet...as I just "mount up on wings of eagles" and allow Him to carry me where He wants me to go and serve.

And that book?  Well, it's flowing out of me and I don't care if it ever gets published, I'm going to write it.  It's ministering to me as I write it out of an obedient heart that has no expectations.  If God wants to publish it, He will.  Whether I'm a "nobody" in the eyes of the publishing world doesn't matter because I'm definitely not a nobody in His eyes. (smile)  I'm trying to remember that man's rejection is always God's protection.  God has a purpose in everything and I cannot take it personally.

If you are in ministry and you've found yourself a slave to the way people say you should do things...please, let God speak to you today about your motives.  When I searched my heart, I didn't like what I found.  Was I seeking Him first, or was I seeking a platform?  But in the process, I also found tremendous grace and peace from the Lord.  He will open the doors He wants opened and He will lead me to do the things He wants me to do for His glory, not my own.

This is a tough line - I know it.  Some days I just want to quit everything and disappear all together!  The temptations to build a kingdom of my own are always there and the world is there cheering me on to do just that.  It would be easier just to stop everything and just hide out at home under the covers.  When you put yourself out there, you are vulnerable.  But I have to trust God's timing and His plan and go forward in the gifts and passions He has put in my heart as I delight in Him.

Who knows what God will do in the future?  It's not a focus of mine anymore, though.  I've decided to focus on my relationship with Him and allow all the other stuff to happen in His timing.  I'm standing on His sturdy platform!

I want to encourage you...trust Him.  Seek Him.  He will guide you and direct you.  And if you never publish a book, I guarantee He will still use you.  He's God - He can do anything.  And when He's working through you, so can you.

 Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News.  Our purpose is to please God, not people.  He alone examines the motives of our hearts.


Got Questions?

GotQuestions?org