Monday, January 30, 2012

God's Ways


Have you ever noticed that when someone is out in the sun and they get a little bit of color on them, everyone says, "Oh, you look so healthy!"  Strange, it's true - sun can make someone look like they have a healthy glow.  However, the "healthy glow" we see is, in reality, evidence of damaged and very unhealthy skin.  So what we are seeing is really not so healthy, after all.  Over time, it can cause sun spots, aging of the skin, wrinkles and even cancer! 

What we see can sometimes deceive us into thinking things that are not necessarily true.  Like when we look at someone and judge from their appearance.  Sometimes it comes in the form of someone with tattoos, a nose ring and spiked hair.  Or, perhaps we look at someone who is absolutely gorgeous and fit and we think they have their lives all together without a problem in the world.  Sometimes it comes in the form of someone who is "the least of these".  There's a great example of this in the Bible (actually many) but today I'm specifically thinking of the story of a young teenager named David.

To look at him, you wouldn't think he'd be much to look at.  He was a shepherd of his father's flock and spent all of his time outdoors.  You read in 1 Samuel 16 that he was not even considered when the prophet Samuel came looking for the next King of Israel.  His father, Jesse, paraded all of his big, strong, burly brothers in front of the prophet thinking that he was looking for one of them.  But Samuel said, "Are these all the sons you have?"  Jesse thought for a moment and just half-halfheartedly said, "Well, there is still the youngest, but he's out tending to the sheep and goats."

As soon as Samuel saw David, he knew that he was the one God wanted to anoint as the King of Israel.  Everyone must have been so confused!  David?  Why him?  What did he have that the others did not have?  In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says that God doesn't judge by appearances or height, he doesn't see things the way we do.  He looks at the heart.  David would be known as a man after God's own heart. 

God's ways are not like our ways.  As you go out into your day today, remember that what we see is not always the truth of the matter.  Looks can be deceiving. If someone cuts you off in traffic, it could be that they are on their way to the emergency room with a sick child and they are not thinking straight.  If someone hurts you with their words, it could be that they have been hurt by words and they are just acting out.  Hurt people hurt people, you know.  If you are the target of gossip, it could be that the person gossiping has such a poor opinion of his or herself that they must gossip in order to make themselves feel better. And if you see someone who seems to have it all together, don't assume they have need of nothing and don't need a friend or a kind word.  Sometimes they are the ones who need it most.

There are always some things I am not going to understand.  But one thing I do understand is that God's ways are not my ways, and everything and everyone He allows into my life has a purpose.  When I seek to understand what He might be teaching me in the moment instead of trying to place blame or draw my own conclusions, I can see a glimpse of God's ways.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ladies Bruch & Mini Retreat - Feb. 4

It's time for a Girls Morning Out!  Grab your girlfriends and meet me on Saturday, February 4, at the Big View Diner from 9am-12:30pm for a Ladies Brunch and Mini Retreat!  The cost is only $20 per person and that includes everything - a beautiful brunch, coffee or tea, 2 Bible-based sessions, tip and taxes!  We have reserved their "party room" and have room for up to 60 women!

We initially reserved NarroWay Productions for Saturday and were going to have three sessions and worship led by Cindy Kessler & her friends.  The conference was called "Not Just Another Love Story" and included the NarroWay Broadway-style show the night before.  Though the venue for Saturday has changed, I will still be attending the show the night before at NarroWay and want to encourage you to come, as well!  It's a fabulous show and ties in well with some of what we will be talking about on Saturday.  To register (separately) for the show on Friday night, you can click here.

The brunch will include:

Farm Fresh Scrambled Eggs
Applewood Smoked Bacon
Country Sausage Patties
Homefried Potatoes
Stone Ground Grits
Assorted Breakfast Pastries & Muffins
Fresh Fruit Salad
Toasted Bagels with cream cheese, butter & jam
*** Includes Coffee OR Tea *** 

Sessions taught will be centered on the "Heart".  Our theme verse is Psalm 51:10: 

 "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me."

Here are the topics:

Session One:  Heart Troubles (Be equipped to face heartbreak & difficulties and use those times to allow God to show you wisdom, comfort and restoration!)
        
Session Two:  Heart Overflow (Learn how to examine your motives & heart in decisions, actions & opportunities presented to you in your life & how to overflow God’s love into the lives of those you love!)

If you already registered for the NJALS Conference, NarroWay will be contacting you shortly for reimbursement options.  You can have a full refund or if you would like, they can just charge you for the show cost on Friday night and reimburse the rest.  IMPORTANT:  If you already registered, you will still need to let me know if you plan on coming to the brunch!  Our records are separate, so I don't have access to who registered yet.  Just email me at lnease@leslienease.com or call me at 704-617-3108.

To register, simply email me at lnease@leslienease.com and I will make sure you get a seat.  The $20 will be due on the day of the event in cash or a check made out to Potential Unlimited.  No deposit is necessary.

TO DOWLOAD A FREE FLYER TO GIVE OUT TO YOUR FRIENDS, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

See you at the Big View Diner on February 4!

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Nehemiah" Web Launch Party Feb. 1 - You're Invited!

Friends, I wanted to share this with you...it all kicks off next week and it sounds like something we don't want to miss!  -Leslie

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As a singer, songwriter and speaker, Kelly Minter is passionate about helping women discover Jesus through Scripture. In her latest Bible study, Minter seeks to lead women toward the spiritual wholeness that comes from finding out what “breaks God’s heart” and then getting involved in God’s mission.

“A broken heart is often the very thing God uses to restore the broken,” writes Minter in Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break, a new Bible study produced by LifeWay Women.

“My goal in this study is not to uncover every word [in Nehemiah], but to follow missional themes about service, Kingdom work, tender hearts, prayer, love of the poor and the sacredness of Scripture,” said Minter.

According to Amy Lowe, co-director of LifeWay Women, “This Nehemiah study is all about seeking out what God has put on ladies’ hearts to do for the suffering, broken and hurting people around them.”

“Kelly brings the book and person of Nehemiah to life,” said Lowe. “She takes what has often been seen as a ‘manly’ book about building and teamwork and reminds us that Nehemiah was a man whose heart broke for his people.”

LifeWay Women will celebrate the launch of the Nehemiah study at a live web party at 11am (CST) Feb. 1, 2012.  (That's 12pm EST, ladies!)

The event will feature live segments with special guests Beth Moore and Lisa Harper.  LifeWay Women is also hosting a sweepstakes with the winners being announced onair during the webcast.

“Nehemiah” webcast party giveaways include:
  • Kindle Fire
  • $100 LifeWay Gift Card
  • Bundle of other LifeWay Women products, such as No Other Gods Bible study, Ruth Bible study, Loss, Love & Legacy CD, and a Nehemiah kit 
  • Nehemiah kit
  • Tickets to LifeWay’s new Abundance event
Participants will be able to interact with others and ask questions for additional giveaways in the show’s live chat stream.

Paige Greene, co-director of LifeWay Women, will host the webcast. Author Lisa Harper will be among special guests.   “This is a chance for us to celebrate what God is going to do in the lives of women who will pick up this study,” said Lowe.

Visit LifeWay.com/Women for more information about Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break.

LifeWay Women is a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the world’s largest providers of Christian products and services.

Minter is an author, conference speaker, songwriter and singer. She speaks and leads worship at women’s conferences, retreats and events. Her previous Bible studies include No Other Gods, Ruth: Love, Loss & Legacy and Hannah’s One Wish.

(Written by Jon Wilke)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fraud or Flawed?

My kids see me at my worst – they see me when I’m having a rotten day, when I’m tired or over-extended, when I’m not as attentive as I should be.  They also see me at my best – and sometimes, when I take them with me to speaking events, they see me on stage, sharing God’s Word with people.  When I’m on the stage, speaking, it can seem like I have it all together and that I have all the answers.  But that couldn’t be further from the truth.  And my kids know it!

One night as I was preparing to leave for a speaking engagement, my husband and I were in a heated argument about an hour before I was to leave. I was in tears and as I was leaving, I fell into his arms and sobbed, “I feel like such a fraud! How can I go share God’s Word with people when I’m not even able to live it out myself all the time?!”  He cradled my face with his hands, looked me in the eye and said, “You are not a fraud.  You are a beautiful woman of God who has a message to share.  There is not one person speaking God’s word who lives it perfectly.  We are all imperfect.”  Then he prayed for me and I left very encouraged.

I realized something as I prayed on my way to the event.  I wasn’t a fraud.  I was flawed.  There’s a difference.  I like that my kids and my husband clearly see how God can use a person like me – a real, live, flawed, imperfect but willing vessel – for His purposes.  I like how they see that a mom or a wife who may have yelled at them earlier (and apologized for it through tears) is still capable of being used by God later that night.  That’s how powerful He is!  If He can use me, He can use anyone.  I hope they will see that He can use them, too.  Flaws and all.

Are you avoiding obedience to God in something because you’re afraid you won’t measure up to the role you think you have to play in order to do it?  Are you afraid you are going to seem like a fraud if you forge ahead and do something, knowing you don’t have it all together yet?  I totally understand that thought process, I really do.    But I also know it’s a lie.  Think about it – if God really wanted you to be perfect before He could use you, then it would be about you…not Him.  But it’s not about you.  It’s totally about Him and what He can do through you.  You’ll be amazed at how He can change you along the way, as you become more and more like Jesus.

Don’t be afraid to be flawed.  If you were perfect, you would have absolutely no need for Jesus.  A fraud is someone who pretends they aren’t flawed.  Be real, be honest, and be transparent about your struggles but most important, be honest about how God taught you through them, how He’s growing you in His grace and how He is forming you into the person He wants you to be.  But please…don’t delay obedience waiting for the day you will have it all together.  That day will never come this side of heaven.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  2 Corinthians 4:7

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Asking for a Blessing

Our family tradition is to go to the beach for a week just after Christmas to unwind, refocus and reflect.  It's one of my most favorite times of the year!  We are enjoying some relaxation here at Edisto Beach this week and honestly it's my favorite trip yet.  This beach is more secluded, less commercial and it feels like a real retreat.  I think I might cry when we leave!

The first night we were here, I went out on the third floor balcony, which has a beautiful view of the sky.  The stars were going on for miles and miles.  I absolutely love the sky.  I just sat there, bundled up, praying and thanking God for such a beautiful display.  As I watched the sky, I prayed He would show me a shooting star.  I don't know why I wanted to see one, but I did.  I really believed in my heart that He wanted to show me one, too.  I even told Him I wasn't going to go inside until I saw it, just so He'd know how serious I was (I am a stubborn one at times).  But I ended up going inside after about thirty minutes because I was too cold to sit out there for much longer and it had already been an hour.

As I prayed that night, I thanked Him anyway.  I may not have seen my shooting star, but honestly my heart was so full.  I knew it was a lot to ask.  I also know it's important to walk by faith, not by sight. Whether He showed me a shooting star or not didn't matter - He was still God and I trusted Him.  But I still felt that before I left, He would show me a shooting star.  Don't ask me how I knew, I just knew deep in my heart. As I drifted off to sleep, I felt so peaceful.

I told my girls about my experience the next day.  I told them that sure, I was disappointed but I knew God would show me one before I left.  I think in their hearts, they knew He would come through, too!

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through the internet, I found an article about a Meteor Shower that was going to be showing up on Wednesday morning around 2:30am and would last for hours.  Not only did it say it was a meteor shower, but a strong meteor shower!  I knew right away that God was going to show me that shooting star, but I was going to have to work for it by setting my alarm and getting up in the middle of the night. Oh, I love my sleep.  This was conflicting for me!  Then, I recalled the night before Jesus was crucified how He asked the disciples to stay awake and pray, but they kept falling asleep because it was in the middle of the night and they were tired.  It felt as if God was saying, "I want to bless you, but you need to do your part." 

How badly did I want it?  Would I sacrifice to get my blessing by waking up at 3am and shivering in the cold to see it?

Of course I would!

Last night around 3am, my girls and I were on the third story deck of this beautiful beach house, watching a perfectly clear, star filled sky rain down shooting stars while wrapped in big comforters. And the scripture that kept coming to me was James 1:17-18:

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Don't be afraid to ask Him for a blessing, my friend.  He loves you so much!  But you might be asked to do your part.  You must decide...is the blessing worth the effort?  My bet is, you'll see that it truly is.  I only asked for one shooting star...but His plan was to give me a sky-full!




To read about another time I asked God for something and He went above and beyond, click here!

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