Devotion of the Week | Pearls of Promise | Page 95

Unplug and Power Up by Anna Quesada

Anna Quesada

Today’s guest blogger is Anna Quesada. Anna is the founder of the Christian Women’s Small Business Association, created to Ignite a movement of women trailblazers from around the globe to fearlessly live out their God-calling. Founded in 2006, the organization now encourages over 90,000 entrepreneurs daily online.

Before starting cwSBA, Anna spent a decade in the marketing industry working closely with inspirational speakers, life coaches, ministry leaders, and small business owners. She also blogs for the San Antonio Express News web site and runs a full service digital agency, helping multi-million dollar clients dominate the online business world via search engine optimization, social media, and web site branding.

What would happen to your life if Facebook and Twitter ceased to exist? Seriously. Think about it for a moment. Because of my work in marketing for small businesses, the last eight years of my life have been immersed in every aspect of social media. My livelihood depended on it and by God’s grace, I experienced tremendous results. Even in the early days of MySpace, I was able to leverage these powerful communication tools to draw over half a million unique visitors to various websites I managed every single month. I still remember the first time someone “retweeted” one of my tweets on Twitter six years ago. In seconds, with one click, a simple 140 character message could reach thousands of people.

It was exhilarating and I was hooked, but sometimes entirely removing yourself from a situation is the only way to get a proper perspective. I say all of this just to show you what a mind-shift this post is for me. Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt God calling me to unplug, be still and wait on Him. From one day to the next, I fell of the face of the (cyber) Earth. I’m pretty sure I experienced withdrawals during the first few days of my social media fast, but almost instantly, God’s voice became the loudest sound in my head… and for the first time in a very long time… His voice became the only one that mattered. Besides some completely life-changing news God revealed to me within the first 4 days of my surrender (seriously, LIFE-changing), I’ve also learned that as followers of Christ, we must continually unplug and press into His presence to become all that He created us to be.

In all my work with social media, I’ve learned that it can make us somewhat delusional. It causes us to think we “know” people just because we saw what they ate for breakfast via Instagram or because we observed every single one of their Facebook timeline vacation photos from 2003-2007. The truth is that life happens in-between our picture-perfect posts. Real relationships are built over coffee breaks – lots of them – or late night phone calls when we finally let our guard down and share pieces of ourselves and our struggles.

It happens over dinner – when you talk about nothing at all and everything important to us, all at the same time – when you laugh at nonsense and create memories and inside jokes.

It happens when we encourage one another through the difficult times and rejoice together in our victories. We may see glimpses of it in our social media world, but the bulk of it almost never happens there. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, even blogs – they are all just tools to enhance relationships, not replace them. AND In the end, I’m learning that our relationship with God is the same.

You’ve been invited into God’s holy presence. Consider it the ultimate “friend request” and not just the kind where you share photos and status updates. It’s a real life, hand-in-hand, stick by your side no matter what, kind of friendship. Before Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sin, this was not the case.

In Solomon’s temple there was a veil that separated the Ark of The Covenant (God’s presence) from the people. Many scholars say it was 60 feet tall, 30 feet wide, and almost three feet thick. It was for the good of the people. God’s presence is so powerful, perfect, and majestic, that the weight of His glory would kill them if they entered in unprepared. During this time in history there was a High Priest who represented the people and even he could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement to offer a blood sacrifice and incense.

Author and pastor, Greg Laurie, shares more insight at Jesus.org. “When Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, that heavy curtain was torn from top to bottom. It was not ripped from bottom to top, as though a man were ripping it. Instead, it was ripped from top to bottom, because God was ripping it. God was saying, You are no longer are on the outside. You can come in. My Son has made a way for you.”

What a gift! When we were outsiders to God, HE paid the ultimate price to give us direct access (not only to His throne), but to sit directly on His lap and rest our head and troubles on HIS shoulders. I guarantee you that there is no sweeter relationship than that. You’ve been invited to trade your worry in for wonder and your wounds for worship. Why do we often settle for so much less?

We gaze at HIM from afar – skimming through His comments & posts with a smile or a chuckle. We watch on like spectators – giving THE creator of all the universe our occasional “like” or “retweet”. BUT God wants to make Himself known to you. Sometimes, because of my own complacency, it feels like I’m an outside fan more than a dear daughter to the King of kings. I don’t want to live a life without reverence for who GOD is. I don’t want to settle for knowing about God when He’s invited me to KNOW Him personally and intimately. Let’s not take the present of HIS presence and unending love lightly. The same GOD who named the stars, commands the rain, and conquered death is worthy of our awe, affections, and time. Get comfortable with unplugging often to surrender all you are to Him… not because He demands it, but because we have the amazing privilege of calling HIM a real friend and Father.

I’m sure I’ll be back in the social media world soon, but until then, I’m enjoying life away from my computer screen – no internet connection required. Find out more about my work or get my daily doses of encouragement at http://www.Twitter.com/empowered and http://www.Facebook.com/cwsba

 

 

Raising the White Flag

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

Anxious womanAre you prone to anxiety? Paul’s message about anxiety is one I continually have to be reminded of, especially during busy seasons. Anxiety has a tendency to sneak up on me when I have several major events going at the same time. I’m a linear gal and major multi tasking can be a challenge. What about you?

When under extreme stress, my body begins to react in unattractive ways, and it is at that point I realize I haven’t given every detail over to God.

I raise the white flag.

“I can’t handle all this, but you can. You brought these events to me. They belong to you and they are not mine.” Father, I repent of my anxiety.

I also reached out to my prayer warriors to bathe me in prayer. In the midst of my tension, I wanted to feel the peace of God that transcends all understanding. It worked. I felt the prayers as well as a supernatural wave of peace over me.

No more anxiety.

No more worrying.

I gave God his job back.

On the way back from a luncheon event today, there was a huge box in the middle of the highway. At 70 mph, cars were swerving all over the place. I thought, This could be bad. I had to move quickly out of the way of the frantic cars, and would have been in trouble if there had been a vehicle to my right. Thankfully, there wasn’t, and I safely slipped over one lane, avoiding a major accident.

The near miss made me think. I have been anxious about all the great blessings the Lord placed in front of me, but in a split second, it could have all gone away or I could have had something genuinely terrible to be anxious about.

I am praying I will finally live out Philippians 4: 4-7.

Do you find yourself worried and anxious about the good things as well as the bad? God wants us to get rid of all of it. As Paul says, God is near. He wants to take the anxiety off of us. We just need to release it to him.

God is in Control

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

Women's retreat photo

It was different this year. Things weren’t flowing as smoothly for our annual college women’s retreat that a good friend of mine and I plan. We were in our fifth year, and the applications weren’t coming in like before, the ideas weren’t flowing, and the enthusiasm wasn’t there.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image18913824

Our theme this year is “It’s a Jungle Out There: Your Spiritual Survival Kit” and I felt lost in the jungle. There seemed to be a block on the retreat, and there was talk about cancelling.

I thought, Is this really what God wants us to do? I can’t believe he’d want to disappoint the women who had signed up.

So I did something radical, and difficult, because I’m not a quitter. I prayed, “Lord, while I don’t understand, if you don’t want us to do the retreat this year, we will cancel it. This is your retreat.”

I laid the retreat at the altar, and that was the turning point.

Immediately, the block was lifted.

Three women told me their applications were in the mail, and we knew we had enough to break even. We prayed for two more, and one of those two emailed me this morning saying her application was in the mail.

The retreat format ideas came pouring in.

The message I’m going to present became clear.

I felt an enthusiasm and excitement for this event like never before.

I realized that in my busyness, I had not given the retreat over to God. What a mistake! It was HIS retreat, not ours, and I had tried to plan it in my own power.

A couple of years ago at the event, on a field trip to the campus bookstore, we found a t- shirt with the letters GIIC on the front of it. It stands for “God is in control.”

And that’s what I forgot this year. I had tried to be in control of the retreat, and God wanted me to surrender it to him. Life always goes better when we are in the passenger seat. I won’t be surprised if this is the best retreat to date, because God is planning every detail.

What do you need to lay at the altar? Do you feel a block about a situation you are in? Do you feel you are striving too much?

GIIC.

Networking – A Buzz Word or a Biblical Principle? by Donna Skell

donna jpeg[1]

Today’s guest blogger is Donna Skell. Donna is the Executive Director of Roaring Lambs Ministries. With a heart for God, people, and business, Donna stays active in the Christian community. She has been involved with this ministry since it’s inception and came on staff in 2008. Prior to that she served with the American Tract Society as spokesperson.  Along with her husband, Anton, Donna owned and operated a successful chain of ladies fitness clubs in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area, called Cosmopolitan Lady. Donna especially enjoys speaking to Ladies Groups, Churches, and at Retreats. Her rich Jewish heritage and her study of God’s Word enhance her insight into the issues involved in Christian faith and living. 

Is “Networking” a buzz word of our times, or a Biblical principle? 

Today, articles and books abound about the necessity of networking, the power of networking, and the A-B-C’s of networking.  The new model of job seeking is networking and numerous are the resources about networking for employment and career advancements.  Popular is the “6 Degrees of Separation” theory that suggests that everyone is only six introductions away from anyone else in this world.

We all know that, in business, a warm introduction is better than a cold call and referrals are the easiest sales.  And the “who you know” is very important.  Networking is people meeting people, getting things done, and creating personal relationships.

Networking is not just for the career-minded.  Whether you are seeking a good doctor for a particular ailment or the purchase of a car, knowing the right person to ask can

be a big help.  Being able to benefit from the knowledge and experiences of others is time and pain saving.  Being a conduit connecting others with information or people is a positive thing.

God is the master networker.  He knows everyone and what benefit we could bring to one another.  He is at work orchestrating those divine appointments, the “coincidental” meetings and the “small world” moments.   We need to do our part and make ourselves available to be used by Him in the lives of others.

Meet More People

Make it a discipline to put yourself in situations where you meet new people.  Find people from whom you can learn.  Find people strong in their faith.  Find groups of common interest — church, profession, hobby, causes, civic and/or service organizations.  Find groups that are attended by those with whom you would like to associate.  Networking is meeting new people and seeking connection.  Position yourself to meet new people regularly.

Make Your Meeting Memorable

People like to do business with people they like.  People like people who are sincerely interested in them.  When you talk with someone, tune the world out and focus on them.  Find common ground.  Can you make them smile, chuckle, laugh?  Ask questions and absorb answers.  Find out what keeps them busy (…”when they’re not attending events like this.”)  Be thinking of how you might be of assistance to them.  Be an “includer” and inviter.  Find good things to attend and tell others.  Be a broadcaster of good news, always having a positive word.

Capture their contact information – a business card, phone number or email address.

Assist Your Acquaintances

Every introduction is an opportunity for God to use you in this person’s life.

There is some way in which you can be a benefit to this person.  Seek that out.

True networking is people meeting and helping each other.

Ask yourself,

How can God use me this very moment?

What encouraging word can I give?

What do I know that could help them?

Would any of my experiences be of benefit?

Whom do I know that they could benefit from meeting?

What other event might I tell them about or invite them  to?

What seed could I sow?

How can I give God glory?

Can I share Christ?

How should I pray for them?

Can I pray with  them?

And when it is your turn to introduce yourself,

 Have something good to say.  Say it well.  Say it often.

Recognize the value of a good “30 second commercial”.  Have something prepared to say.  What is memorable about you?  What solutions do you provide?  What three things would you most want others to know about you?

Speak boldly with direct eye contact.

Be prepared when opportunities arise — opportunities that allow you to give a glimpse of who you are and what is most important to you.  Continue to put your thoughts, ideas, and needs out there.  People can and will help you.  Shortly after meeting someone, send them a personal note with your business card included, email, or leave a voicemail (call office after hours).

Keep all your contact information in one place, preferably one form.

Review it often to bring to mind those to contact.  Schedule follow up calls and emails to maintain relationship.

Without Expectation of Return

The best networkers seek to help others without keeping score.  Continue to build and work your net as you meet and connect people.  Would any of the new people you meet be helpful to the ones you met earlier?  Networking is working your net  to connect people to resources in your net.  Leave the results to God.  And along the way you will be blessed.

 

 

 

 

The Louve Surprise

The Louve

The Louve. For me, it was a religious experience. So many beautiful paintings and sculptures of Christ lined the walls of the building. I wished I had more time to drink it all in.

But there was one life-size sculpture that stopped me in my tracks, literally taking my breath away. “The Resurrection” was created by artist Germaine Pilon and was a commissioned work by the queen of France, Catherine de Medicis, in the 16th century. She wanted the sculpture displayed outside the Valois Chapel, a tomb, but it never left the artist’s studio, because the chapel was never completed.

The Resurrection

While it never made it to the chapel, “The Resurrection” did make it into the Louve, in all it’s splendor for millions to see. God had a plan for this work. I wonder if anyone else was as affected by it as I was? Two Roman soldiers, who have fallen to the ground in awe at the sight of the resurrected Christ. Pilon captured it.

The fear on their faces.

The majesty of the risen Christ.

I have to believe they repented of their disbelief at that moment.

I thought, Will this be the fear we see on people’s faces when Jesus returns again?

I once worked with a young woman who did not believe in the resurrection. I asked her why she did not believe. When she couldn’t give me a solid answer, I challenged her to study and find out what it was she did not believe in. After further study and through God’s revealing of himself to her, she is a strong Christian today. Now, she won’t be surprised when Jesus returns.

Our desire should be that no one is caught by surprise when they hear the trumpet sound. That’s why Jesus’ last words to his disciples were “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Who in your life do you need to reach out to? Who in your world will be taken by surprise when Jesus comes back? This is one surprise party you don’t want them to attend. (LBW)

 

 

 

 

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