Standing Strong Through the Storm OPEN AND CLOSED DOORS*

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*The text below is taken from Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

The Bible has much to say about open doors but many times – even as Christians – we seem to face obstacles on our path and in our ministry. Blocked doors can be VERY frustrating. Yet God often uses closed doors to advance His cause.

 Bible teachers like Max Lucado remind us that God closed the womb of a young Sarah so he could display His power to the elderly one. He shut the palace door on Moses the prince so he could open shackles through Moses the liberator. He marched Daniel out of Jerusalem so he could use Daniel in Babylon.

And even Jesus knew the challenge of a blocked door. When he requested a path that bypassed the cross, God said no. He said no to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane so He could say yes to us at the gates of heaven.

It’s not that our plans are bad but that God’s plans are better.

A prayer is circulating on the Internet that expresses it this way:

  • He asked for strength that he might achieve, he was made weak that he might endure;
  • He asked for health to do larger things, he was given infirmity that he might do better things;
  • He asked for power that he might impress men, he was given weakness that he might seek God;
  • He asked for wealth that he might be free from care, he was given poverty that he might be wiser than carefree.
  • He asked for all things that he might enjoy life, he was given life that he might enjoy all things;
  • He received nothing he asked for. He received more than he ever hoped for.

His prayer was answered!

Blessed man!

The shortest distance between a closed and open door is the distance between your knees and the floor. The one who kneels to the Lord can stand up to anything.

RESPONSE:

Today I will accept that my blocked door doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me. Quite the opposite. I’ll see it as proof that He does.

PRAYER:

Thank You Lord that You know best and have even better plans for me and my service for You. Help me wait patiently for You to open the right door at the right time!

 

So What If You Had The Guts To Let Go Of Fear?

Lessons Learned From a Career Crisis

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Although it was a dark rainy night in fall, in my mind everything was as clear as day.  That was back in 1994, a year into my first career in Montreal, Canada and I was having the most difficult, in fact the most traumatic experience of my life.  It was I who made the decision to change my life completely.  I migrated to a new country, started a new career and a new life, all on my own.  But on that dark night, the rubber hit the road and I had every good reason to be afraid.  However at the end of another dreadfully difficult day at the office, I was determined to stay the course.

I was struggling in a professional field that was not quite the right fit for me.  My colleagues were unhelpful in an unhappy work environment and it was affecting my performance.  I was in a foreign country with no close family, a very limited social circle and no professional network to help steer me towards other opportunities.  This had never happened to me in my life.  I always fit in, rose to every challenge and succeeded.  In spite of it all, deep down in my soul, I knew I had to keep going.  I wouldn’t “just quit.”

What was ironic was that I really was letting go.  I was letting go of the fear-driven “what ifs?” that had been scaring the living daylights out of me.  On that dark rainy night, I made the decision to change my inner dialogue by courageously answering my “what ifs?”  with “so whats!”

“What if this job doesn’t work out?” – “So what!  I will find a better job.”

“What if I can’t pay my bills?” – “So what! There’s my savings, unemployment insurance and… my parents.”

“What if people think I am a quitter?” – “So what! What people think about me won’t change the world.”

I was determined to allow the Universe to let this messy situation unfold and to make sense out of it.  I just knew that I would be okay.  Here’s what I learned –

  • We all know our truth. Being authentic can be difficult.

The fear and angst were rooted in my struggle to fit the bill of an educated, young, confident professional.  I was supposed to live up to everything I was taught – strive to achieve my goals, to never ever give up, be strong in the face of adversity.  The reality was that I wasn’t being authentic, even though I already knew my truth – I was not in the right professional field and my soul was dying.

Many people don’t live authentically.  We live in a world that describes what success ought to look like.  By staying in a job that was not right for me, I was keeping up professional appearances and what I thought were other people’s expectations.  It takes guts to step off the beaten path and take the road less traveled.  Not everyone will understand why, and they will tell you that you are making a mistake.  If you listen to your inner voice, you will find your truth – what’s right and meaningful for you.

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  • It’s not worth the effort to hang on because of the fear of losing what we think is valuable.

The job paid well and I could afford a very good material quality of life.  On the other hand, I was holding on to a job in which I wasn’t able to give of my best talents and gifts in a work environment that was wrong for me.  My soul was dying a slow, painful death.  If I quit, there was the real risk of financial hardship.

So it was decision time. I had to choose between fear and courage.  I chose courage.

It was the courage to see beyond the surface and to dig deeply within to find out I really wanted, what really mattered to me and what were the next steps I needed to take.  I knew that I had to leave that job and get on my own path.  And I did.  Once I had honestly confronted my fears I was ready to take a leap of faith. In the face of uncertainty and risk, I made some responsible decisions about how I was going to leave and move my career forward.  While introspection was the starting point in all of this, I actively sought help to support the process.  I was amazed at the number of people who were willing to offer good advice and who had “been there, done that” and could help me find the things I needed to get through this crisis.

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  •  Never let a crisis go to waste. There’s always something to learn.  Some good will emerge in the aftermath.

As it turned out, this personal and professional crisis not only taught me some important life lessons, but I gained some very useful work experience.  I eventually moved on to another company where I had a very satisfying and rewarding career in marketing.  I can safely say that much of what I learned in my previous job has given me the business acumen needed to make critical decisions, manage budgets effectively and lead with greater confidence.  All of this has taught me to never let a major crisis go to waste.

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Throughout my career, these three lessons have guided me to make decisions that are right for me.  It’s all about finding my life’s purpose and living authentically.  The organizations where I have worked, their clients and the community have all benefited because I am offering my best self, serving passionately and using my talents to the fullest.

I do believe that we’re all in constant evolution and that it is through life’s events – whether times of crisis or calm – that we somehow find direction for our life’s journey.  It takes courage to confront the fears that compromise our well-being and prevent us from living authentically.  It’s well worth it.

3 Lessons from Learning to Listen to God

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Feeling vulnerable, confused and anxious come with the territory of personal uncertainty, particularly in relation to life’s big questions – Who should I marry?  Should I take this job?  Where should I live?  Why am I here?  What’s my life’s purpose?   

We only find the answers when we find our truth.  Our truth is what’s right for us in our particular situation.

While the good advice of others cannot always be discounted, it is really up to each person to find their own truth.

Finding one’s truth can be very tricky.  This is because no one but you really knows what impassions you or what your life’s purpose really is.  Intuitionthe ability to know without conscious reasoning – for most of us, is generally the source of our truth.  Whenever I have come to a crossroads in my life’s journey, I have had to rely on my intuition to take the next step.  Admittedly, this is not easy, but I have learned a few lessons, which I share below –

Lesson #1 – Claim your own power

It takes faith to own your truth, which only you intuitively know.  Intuitively knowing doesn’t always come easily to most of us as we’ve been taught and conditioned to rely on our intellect, logic and reasoning to solve our problems and find the right answers tough questions.  It’s very easy to buy into the good advice of others, without really knowing that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for us. To follow someone else’s dream is to surrender your own power and deprive yourself of the pleasure and fulfilment of your life’s mission.

As a Christian, I consider intuition to be the quiet voice of God speaking specifically to me and my situation.  In fact the apostle Paul, in his first letter to the church at Corinth speaks about the capacity of the Christian mind to discern and understand spiritual truths.  When we personalize these truths, we gain personal insight and direction.

What I know now is that following my intuition is the best way to claim my power and find true fulfillment in life. 

In my experience, silent meditation opens the mental space for inspiration and the voice of intuition to be heard.  Positive affirmations and mantras support alignment of purpose and intention.  The inner knowing that comes from intuition empowers me to take action in the face of risk and uncertainty.  This requires faith and surrendering the outcome.

On the face of it, it seems ironic to say that claiming one’s power requires faith and the ability to surrender. This is because we often equate power with control.  Faith and surrender require that we relinquish the power to control outcomes.  My experience has taught me that there is power in faith and in surrendering the outcome.

Lesson #2 – The power of faith

Whenever I tried to control the outcome of situations beyond my control, I realized how powerless I made myself become.  I ended up being sick with worry and the effects of anxiety attacks over things like other people’s decision to hire me, extreme weather conditions, election results, etc.

What I know now is that the only power I really have is faith.  

Faith is the courage to say “Thy will be done.” For me, faith lets me know that regardless of the outcome, I’ll be okay.  I’ve come to understand that the Universe is God’s orchestra and that understanding the interplay of events with the benefit of hindsight has reaffirmed my mantra that “All things are working together for good.”

Lesson #3 – The power of surrendering

Having faith for a specific outcome can be very limiting.  In fact, I have been fortunate to learn this lesson the easy way.  The hard way would have been to get what I thought I really wanted only to find out later that I had missed out on enriching opportunities.  With the benefits of initial disappointment and hindsight, I have come to understand that very often, what seems to be the best really isn’t.  Several declined applications to advanced degree programs, made me feel crushed and caused me to question my faith.  Taking a partly paid leave of absence from a job in which I saw no future, opened the door to a scholarship to study abroad for 2 years, a promotion on my return and I eventually had the opportunity to migrate to a country where there was greater scope for professional growth and expansion.

What I know now is that if all things are working together for good, then I leave myself open to limitless possibilities.  

I don’t have to have all the answers, but I do have to know my truth.  Guided by my intuition, if I am clear on my life’s purpose, affirm my intention and have faith, I know that the final outcome will lead me to my highest good.

 

Christ in me, the hope of glory…That’s why glory matters!

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

 

Women’s rights & freedom of responsible choice

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In the week that has followed International Women’s Day, I have read with interest some very impressive statistics on the progress women have made over the years. Earning the right to vote, ascension to leadership in Fortune 500 companies, success in male-dominated professions and legislation protecting safety, pay scales and employment access were in the mix of articles and social media posts published on or around March 8.

In spite of the progress, we must lament the fact that far too many women with limited access to economic opportunities continue to be persuaded or forced into prostitution and human trafficking situations, where they are sexually exploited for the profit and entertainment of unscrupulous men.

Just one month before International Women’s Day, the 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition was released with the model on the cover removing her bikini bottom, leaving very little to the imagination. Appallingly outrageous!

But before you think I’m going to take a prudish position on this, I’ll say that I am thrilled that feminism has earned women the right to make our own choices. We can boldly be who we want to be, choose what we wear and how we wear or not wear what we want to wear. Bravo!

What I find appalling is the consensual use of a woman’s body as a sexual object to market men’s entertainment products. I am disappointed that the model on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover has chosen to have her body used in this way. It does nothing to uplift the portrayal and image of women and it is a slap in the face to the many women and men who are working so very hard to build respect and gender equality.

It is unfortunate that the media is neither an enabler nor a game changer in the quest for genuine gender equality. The 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report states that 74.4% of leading roles in Hollywood movies are portrayed by men. With the majority of movies telling men’s stories and women who too often play secondary roles as lovers, wives and girlfriends, it is no small wonder that stereotypes of women as sex objects continue to be perpetuated.

I am not advocating censure. I am advocating opportunities and choices for women to be positively portrayed in the media, which influences public perceptions. Bearing in mind that men make up approximately 50% of the population, women need to make responsible choices about the opportunities they accept in the domains of advertising and entertainment. In spite of any progress women make in the corporate, academic or any other field of economic activity, the portrayal of women in the media holds an even greater influence on the way in which women are perceived and treated by men.

I stand fully behind the programs that support women’s professional development. Kudos to the women and men who have launched projects to increase the proportion of women on corporate boards and in senior leadership positions. But since we believe in freedom of choice, not all women will choose to ascend the corporate hierarchical ladder, if and where it exists, in the new corporate world order.

The focus must be on empowering women and girls to develop their talents in whichever field they desire, and to have the self-confidence to decline offers of economic gain that objectify them for the benefit of men’s entertainment.

Christ in you, the hope of glory.  That’s why glory matters.

@Glorymatters

http://www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

 

Part 3 : Overcoming obstacles – The limitless potential of the child of God

This is the third in a series of blog posts on The Limitless Potential of the Child of God. In Part 2  I wrote about finding your purpose.   In this, the third and final part of the series, I speak about overcoming obstacles to the fulfilment of your purpose.

A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE ON FAILURE & SHORTCOMINGS

From my own life experience, there have been times when I have failed tests, made mistakes in my job and I have “fallen short of the glory of God.”  Nonetheless, I can safely say that whatever pain I may have experienced is miniscule in comparison to the spiritual growth, the material prosperity and the new, relevant skills and talents that I have either gained or developed in each situation.  All of this consistently paves th way for me to achieve consecutively higher levels of spiritual consciousness and to live more abundantly.  God has never and will never put me in a situation to make me feel like a failure of feel that I am anything other than who he created me to be.  Everything that happens to me heightens my awareness of God’s purpose for my life and propels me to achieve my highest good.  Paul states that “He (God) who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6)  So this clearly means that there is always room for improvement and the need for more lessons to be learned, and it also means that there is no limit to my God-given potential.

I want to encourage you to grow in the awareness that every life experience – success or failure, adversity or prosperity – is worth having as long as we can understand that through it we are being propelled to a higher level of spiritual awareness and achievement.  Nothing can be more precious than the knowledge of Christ and the limitless power which is available to those of us who abide in Him.  This truth led Paul to affirm that “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8).

MAKING IT HAPPEN

Do not be daunted by apparent failure.  Take what you have learnt from each experience and move on to bigger and better things.  Abandon right now any doubt or disbelief in yourself.  Reject every suspicion that you will always have doubts or that you have limited abilities that prevent you from fulfilling God’s purpose for you here on earth.  You are one with God and endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit.  You are never separate from God.  In Him, you live, move and have your being (Acts 17:28).  Through God’s grace and power, you have access to His limitless supply of power, prosperity and success that God wills for you to have.  As Peter puts it, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3).

Erase every negative thought of lack and limitation and integrate Paul’s words in your thoughts and speech “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  This means that you can do all that God assigns you to do, not what you want to do that is not in God’s will.  So the statement that there is no limit to your God-given potential, is based on your understanding of God’s specific will and purpose for your life.

DILIGENCE

It is essential for us to realize that we have a duty to put our faith into action through diligent effort.  The diligent application of our talents, skills and abilities results in glory being given to God, and His blessings of spiritual and material prosperity.  In Proverbs 13:4,  we are told that ” He becomes poor who works with a slack and idle hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”  Diligent and ambitious thoughts and actions lead to prosperity.  Again in Proverbs 21: 5, we are told that “The thoughts of the [steadily] diligent tend only to plenteousness,…”  We must apply as much diligent effort to the pursuit of material things as we do to gaining spiritual understanding and building up our faith as “But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].” (Hebrews 11:6).

It is a fact that those who work hard, achieve success, earn the respect of man and bring glory to God.

“Do you see a man diligent and skillful in his business? He will stand before kings;…”  (Proverbs 22:29)

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

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