"You are not here by mistake.  God looked down through all of time, saw you, and said, 'Yes, they are the ones I want to usher in the last days." — Karen Jensen

7 Things You Think You Know About the Christmas Story

We humans are funny.  We like traditions.  And while some traditions are good, if they don’t line up with the Word of God, they can be downright dangerous.

If we believe and follow our traditions more than we believe and follow God’s Word, we’re in trouble. Jesus said it this way: You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition (Mark 7:7). Ouch!

Now, we like to think that ‘other people’ are the ones who have unscriptural traditions – certainly not us!  But most of us cling to some sort of belief that isn’t in the Bible, based on how we grew up, what we’ve been taught, etc.  I’ll give you an example.

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4 Things I Never Want to Do...Like Get Eaten by a Lion

There are plenty of things I never want to do in this life, but here are four I’m thinking about today: I never want to be audited by the IRS; I never (again) want to get a page boy haircut; I never want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with a parachute; and I never want to get eaten by a lion.

Can I get an amen?

It’s that last one I want to talk about today.

The reason I even bring it up is because the Bible compares Satan to a roaring lion who is roaming around “seeking whom he may devour” – in other words, seeking who will be his lunch.

Now, notice it doesn’t say he will devour you; rather, it says that he may devour you. Satan only has the power to devour us when we give it to him. He is a defeated foe, and we have authority over him!

So who ends up being a lion’s lunch? It’s someone who is out of position, separated from the rest of the body. And I hate to tell you this, but that’s often the person who is offended or hurt.

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When Your Heart Has Been Broken

If anyone knows about having your heart broken, it’s Jesus.

He didn’t say, “Suck it up!” or “C’mon, get over it.” He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me…He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted” (Luke 4:18).

Jesus knows about your pain, and He knows exactly how to heal your broken heart! He is the only one who can fix it.

Often I meet people who are heartbroken, hurt, or bitterly disappointed, and it’s made them gun-shy. By that I mean that their heartbreak makes them guarded. They fear entering or maintaining relationships. They won’t reach out to people or move toward their dreams. They live in fear, behind walls they’ve erected to protect themselves.

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Why My Kids Never Believed in Santa

I’m not a killjoy. If you love Santa, believe in Santa, and want to perpetuate the myth that a jolly fat man dressed in red comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve to leave presents (at every house in the world, all at the same time) I am not here to take all that away from you. I promise.

It’s just that sometimes I meet young Christian parents who aren’t sure about it all. Should we tell our kids that Santa isn’t real, and ruin all the fun?  Or should we just go along with it, following the traditions that many of us grew up with. I mean, what does it hurt, right?

If you’re a die-hard Santa fan, you can stop reading right now and go read a story about him to your kids– it’s okay, really. We’re still friends, and I love you.

But if you’ve wavered or wondered about this particular topic, I have some thoughts to share with you.

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Six Tips if the Holidays Are Hard for You

It’s a well-known fact that not everyone has jolly holidays. Sometimes all the joy and celebrating can make us feel horrible – it seems like a mockery in the face of painful memories, lack, or loss that might be happening in our own life.

I get it. My mom died of cancer two days before Christmas, and my first husband died on New Year’s Day. Both happened years ago, but I remember the struggle, and I have a heart for yours. There are all sorts of things that can take away the joy of this season – loneliness, financial troubles, the pain of loss, the sharp contrast between your life and the Norman Rockwell portrayal all around you.

One thing I want you to know is that it won’t always be like this. The devil loves to tell us that things are always going to be this way, so you’ll feel hopeless. But he’s a liar! There will be times of joy, laughter, peace, and fun again in your life if you’ll keep believing. With Jesus, your future is bright! I promise!

Here are some practical tips that helped me when holidays were hard – things you can do to make it through...

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The Day I Found Out I Was Rich

For years, I was so broke I couldn’t afford to pay attention, much less all my bills. I worried about money all the time, and I never had enough. And this was when I was a Spirit-filled, Bible-believing, prosperity-confessing Christian!

Can I get a witness?  (Just keep smiling and no one will know it’s you...).

But then something changed. Finally, after years of studying the Word on the subject of God’s provision and abundance, it dropped into my spirit and I believed it. I tell you that so you won’t give up! The Word is true – keep feeding it into your spirit until you believe it. Here’s what I finally learned… 

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Change Is Coming!

When you read the title of this blog, you probably had one of two reactions – you either thought, “I hope so, I’m tired of the way things are, I need some change!” or you thought, “Oh no, not change again…what’s changing now?”

And of course, the answer is: something is always changing! If there’s anything constant in our lives, it’s change, right? There are times of delight and multiplication and joy, but there are also times of drought and hardship and toughing it out.

The thing is, this too shall pass. Whatever is happening in your life right now, and in the world around us, change is coming.

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God Knows How to Make It Up to You

Stuff happens. I wish it didn’t. I wish I could wrap you in cotton and put you in a closet and make sure nothing bad ever happens to you. But that’s not realistic, and what kind of life would that be anyway?

But here’s the deal. When rotten stuff happens, don’t get into a decrease or loss mentality. Because even though you might feel as though you’ve lost something (and we may all agree that you have), God is still a multiplication God. He knows how to get you from here back to increase and joy.

So when things are looking their worst, keep reminding yourself of who He is -- the God of increase, the God who multiplies. The devil may have stolen from you, but God knows how to make it up to you!

First John 4:4 says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” God your multiplier is greater than anything that has happened to you! The greatness of His power is toward you (Eph. 1:19), so don’t get your mind on what you’ve lost. Don’t settle for less than His best.

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Get Your Hopes Up!

I’ve met people who, either by their words or their actions, say, “Don’t get your hopes up.”

The logic behind that, I suppose, is that if you don’t get your hopes up, then you won’t be disappointed.

But that is a terrible way to live! It’s so much lower than the life God wants for His children.

Hope can be defined as “to desire with expectation of obtainment” and “to expect with confidence—trust.” That sounds like a better way to live than dialing back your expectations to nothing just to protect yourself.

I think God wants us to lift up our eyes and heart, and then begin to believe the best. I say get your hopes up as high as you can! One thing you can do to keep your hopes up is start using your God-given imagination to embrace all the possibilities He has for you.

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6 Supernatural Benefits You Don't Want to Live Without

You know what? God has given us an amazing, supernatural, empowering, life-altering gift that you don’t want to live another moment without. This powerful gift is a game-changer on every level. What is it, you ask? It’s praying in tongues!

I get so excited when talking about praying in tongues! It changed my life and it can change yours too – for the better. It's why I even have a teaching on the subject! (check it out here).

I want you to know about this wonderful gift of power from God and get excited about it! You do not want to go another day without these supernatural benefits. Here are 6 ways that praying in tongues can benefit you:

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One Thing Nobody Likes but Everybody Needs

I’ve met a lot of people whose lives aren’t going in the direction they want, but they don’t know why.

As I talk with them, they’ll tell me about someone who tried to help them — but they didn’t listen. They seem surprised by how their life is going. Yet it’s obvious that God sent people along the way to give them a clue.  

So what’s the deal? Well, I think it’s happened to all of us. We are trying to hear from God, make right decisions and live a life of purpose, then we run head on into the one thing that nobody likes but everybody needs. 

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I Was Angry and Embarrassed

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in junior high, playing in the band, and on this day, we were in our first period class, practicing. Suddenly my band teacher stopped the whole band to tell me I was playing a certain passage wrong.

Immediately I jumped to my own defense and made a bunch of excuses. He listened for about 5 seconds, then looked down over the tops of his glasses with a frown and said, “Do you want to learn to do it right, or do you want to make excuses? Listen to me!”

You can imagine how angry and embarrassed that made me feel. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me! I felt the eyes of all my friends and fellow band members boring a hole into my back. It was horrible and humiliating.

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4 Things Every Parent of a Teenager Needs to Know

Let’s face it -- teenagers are basically hard-wired to butt heads with their parents. If that’s happening at your house, here’s the good news: you’re normal.

Your teenager is going through a million changes in their body, their mind, and their surroundings. Meanwhile, they’re trying to fire you as a parent, then rehire you later…as a consultant.

But hey, if they weren’t growing and changing, something would be wrong. Is it possible to celebrate their changes and progress, enjoy the process, and emerge from the teenage years with our sanity intact and our kids headed for their divine destiny? I think it is.  

Here are four important things you need to know:

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The WRONG WAY to Ask Someone for Advice

Hopefully you’ve been reading my last couple of blogs about getting godly advice when you need it. If you haven’t, you can catch up here: Do's and Don'ts for Giving Someone Advice, Who Should You Get Advice From? and What I Learned from a Razor Blade. Getting good advice is important, but we don’t just ask anyone.

Once you know who to ask, then it’s important to know how to ask. It turns out that when you’re asking someone for advice, there’s a right way, and a wrong way. Ask me how I know. I’ve done it the wrong way!

Don’t Do What I Did

After my first husband died and I took over pastoring alone at our church in Boise, Idaho, God provided me with a wonderful pastor-mentor and his wife. They were dear friends. They had been pastors for a number of years, and they helped me through the process of pastoring alone. They helped my staff and me in more ways than I can tell you. What a blessing they were! Anytime I needed pastoral advice they were on hand to help.

But one time I went to that pastor and said, “God told me to do such-and-such, so I’m going to do it.” I can’t even remember now what it was. At the time he just nodded and said, “OK.”

But when I did it, it turned out badly. Later when I was telling him about it, he said, “Yeah, I figured that would happen.” Sort of miffed, I asked him, “Why in the world didn’t you tell me that beforehand! Why did you just let me go ahead and do it?”

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