car parking lot3 Influence
As I was driving out of our apartment complex the other day, I noticed some interesting parking configurations.

In one section, someone had parked at an angle, going over their line boundary. SO the person next to them overcompensated and went even futher outside their lines.This trend continued for two of the subsequent cars, soon leading to someone else’s parking space being unable to be parked in.

In the next section, I noticed another car that had veered over their side line. But instead of the next car followint suit, it tried to correct the situation and balanced the difference so they left enough room to get in the original car, but didn’t cross over their own boundary. Hence, the adjoining car barely had to adjust it’s trajectory and as a result, the fourth car in line was able to park normally.

I thought it painted an interesting picture of how we let others influence us. The parking situation succintly illustrates how just one can influence many, both positively and negatively.

In the first situation, when one person went outside the norm, it seemingly gave permission to tohers to do the same…and to a greater degree.

But in the second set of cars it amazed me how when one person made a slight correction and the next does the same, you can see the positive influence over a very short period of time.

I find this so true in my daily life. It may be something as simple as diet. I’ll say that I’m going to stop eating sugar, but then I find myself at someone’s birthday party and I’m handed a plate of cake and ice cream, so I eat just one bite.
But then since I ate a bite of ice cream, why not eat a piece of pizza that’s leftover since they didn’t have anything else for me to eat. Before you know it, I’ve rationalized my way to cheese biscuits!

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen this happen in much graver situations like sexual purity. I’ve mentored girls that said they weren’t going to kiss someone until they got married; but after they experienced a moment of weakness and broke that promise, they figured there wasn’t anything stopping them from going all the way.
It breaks my heart even more to meet girls who have been abused sexually and thus feel there is no longer a reason for them to have sexual boundaries.

When it comes to influence, the most important step you can take after the wrong step is the next step.
The way you respond to adversity or mistakes says a lot about who you are as a person. The biggest difference in this scenario is mistake vs. regret.

One of my mentors (and founders of Intentional Moms), Catherine Hickem, summarizes this so effectively when she explains, “WE will all make mistakes, but it is possible to live life without regret.”

So will you let your mistakes define you or will you be an influencer who lets your next step guide you and others back onto the right path?

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Whose presence are you in?

gods presence couple Whose presence are you in?Have you ever acted differently depending on whom you are hanging around?

When I was a university professor, I noticed that students were keenly aware of their language when they were in my office or in my classroom.  Many vulgarities may have entered their minds or formed on their tongues, but as they opened their mouth to verbalize them, they suddenly become aware of my presence and their mouths would close.  They realized that I didn’t appreciate those words and I in turn appreciated that they were sensitive to that.  However, once they left my presence, they would often slip back into the coarse language that is ever so common on college campuses and throughout our world.

Maybe you can remember back to your own school days.  Did you ever find yourself in the presence of someone you were trying to impress?  It was amazing to me how a male could be utterly charming in my presence and then transform back into a primitive creature once he let his guard down around his friends.  Do I even need to address dating back then?  For many, what happened in the living room while sitting under the watchful eye of parents and what happened after getting in the car were also two completely different scenarios.

Do you notice a pattern?  It is very easy to sin when we are not in the presence of someone we respect or an elder watching over us.  In fact, it may even seem desirable at the time. However, when we are in the presence of that person, our demeanor changes; we think before we speak, we consider before we act, and we control our thoughts.  You may be wondering who is going to follow you around 24-7 to keep you in check.  The answer is GOD.  He has already made a promise that he will never leave our side; he is always there:  I will never leave you nor forsake you. – Josh 1:5.

Now that we know he is constantly with us, the next question is, are you aware of his presence?  Take God with you everywhere!  When you wake up, when you’re in the car, when you’re at school, when you’re at work, when you’re playing sports, and even when you’re watching television.  He will guide and direct you.  His presence will guide you on the right path and guard you from sin.  His presence does not promise that we will never be challenged with sin, but acknowledging him will protect us from falling victim to it.

God’s presence will always be with you.  He is faithful.  We will all come across adversity and challenge, but if we stay focused on God’s presence in our lives, we will stay the course.

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! –Isaiah 26:3 (TLB)

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The Path of Temptation

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.  -1 Corinthians 10:13


If I were to ask you one thing you were struggling with currently, you probably would reply, “Only one?” There are many things that can draw our attention away from God, whether it is food, impurity, or even the busyness that keeps us from spending time in our devotions.  


Ask God to give you the strength and self-control to overcome this weakness.  If you confess it to Him and pray about a plan for the next time you are confronted with this temptation, you will be better equipped to walk away (“Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” – Luke 22:40).  But don’t make it harder on yourself by allowing this weak spot to be dangled in front of you.  If you have an incredible sweet tooth, don’t even walk in your local ice cream shop.  If you’ve made shopping into an art form (something I wouldn’t know anything about), stay out of the mall!  If you’ve found yourself addicted to lustful images, try turning the TV off for a week and stay away from the internet.


Of course, these are only suggestions.  The best solution is to find applicable scripture in the Bible and memorize it so that it can be repeated over and over again when that temptation stares you down the next time…and find an accountability partner or partners!  Don’t feel like you have to go through this alone.  God will be there to lift you up, but it doesn’t hurt to have someone tugging on your arm down here either.

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God-Shaped Hole

God-Shaped Hole

Have you ever thought about earrings. For me, they were a much coveted reward that was unattainable until I reached the age of 13. Then, for some reason, my mother agreed it would be cool if I got two piercings in my left ear and one in my right (remember, we’re going back to the age of parachute pants and jelly bracelets people).

Fast forward nineteen years later. Most people I know now are not aware of my “wild child” status since my second hole in my left ear has long since closed up. See, somewhere between college and “oh my, what am I going to do with the rest of my life” I decided the double piercing in a single ear might not be what every company desired in their ideal candidate (not that I jumped into the corporate world all that soon after graduation, unless you consider dancing the “Crazy Signs” while working for Club Med in the islands ‘climbing the corporate ladder’. Luckily for me, the gradual lack of use caused the hole to close up and my ear to return to normal.

Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, or somewhere in Mayberry, you’ve surely seen the tribal inspired plugs that some of today’s youth are wearing. From the little I know, these ‘earrings’ start out small, but by gradually increasing the size, the hole gradually stretches and grows, resulting in HUGE holes in the ears. Unfortunately, kids that walk the same road as me and decide a few years down the road that look isn’t working for them have a harder time reversing their predicament. Though the growing process was a gradual one, the end result prevents reversal in the same gradual process.

Aren’t our lives like that as well? We may over-eat little by little until we wonder why our clothes don’t fit anymore. Or we dabble in questionable relationships until we find ourselves in a predicament we promised we would never get into. Or our quiet time with God dwindles to the point where it is non-existent, creating a hole so big it seems nothing could ever fill it.

The good news is that no medical procedure could ever fix such a hole in our life; the only answer to close that gap is GOD. We rationalize that if we gradually got ourselves into trouble, we can gradually get out of it, when in fact we need to surrender ourselves to God for radical life redevelopment!

Don’t be fooled into thinking you can fill a God shaped hole on your own; before you know it, you’ll be looking through a hoop instead of a peep-hole. Expose yourself to God alone and He will not only heal your wounds, but they will be erased in the new creation that will be you!

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