Be Encouraged! God’s Not Done With You Yet!

Consider this encouraging word from Philippians 1:6

In case you can’t read the Scripture verse in the graphic above here is the text from the New American Standard Bible translation:

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

We have been made right with God through our faith in Christ.

He has made us new and is making us new. In the “already but not yet” paradox of salvation and God’s Kingdom, we can be confident that God has begun conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ and that HE will complete that perfection process in us.

We have a part to play in that process. It is called submission and obedience. We work out what He works in us.

In other words, we are not working to save ourselves or to make ourselves like Christ; our role is to let the work He has done and is doing inside us be made visible outwardly in our lives.

So rest in the confidence that the accomplishing of the process is in the best of hands and let His good work in you shine out to those around you.

Philippians Study Coming in April

I’m so excited about what I’m learning as I study and prepare to teach Philippians after Easter. I’ll have more info coming soon, but if you think you might be interested in studying with me on either Tuesday mornings or Tuesday evenings, save those dates in your calendar from April 18 through May 23.

Blessings of truth and grace,

Need Inspiration? This Should Do the Trick!

Watercolor magnolias printable set featuring lyrics to a beloved hymn...

I just love the hymn, Come Thou Fount. The words resonate with my wandering heart. I love God but am easily distracted. I know I don’t always demonstrate my profound gratitude for being reconciled to Him by the unimaginable sacrifice of Jesus Christ. However, whenever I sing this hymn, or contemplate its lyrics, I can’t help but worship my Savior and be moved to share God’s love with others.

That’s why I want a beautiful copy of the lyrics in my new office. I’m hoping to move into the new space soon. This will be where I host coaching clients and possibly some small group Bible studies and discipleship groups.

My office will be in an old farmhouse we recently relocated to our property and are fixing up. We still have a ways to go before we’ll be ready to move in, but I’m beginning to daydream about the decor.

I made this set of 8 x 10 watercolor printables using the lyrics of Come Thou Fount. I’m planning to frame these and hang them in my new office.

My favorite verse will go in the center and so I surrounded it with a heart-shaped wreath of magnolia branches, leaves, and blossoms. I thought you might enjoy and be inspired by this set of printables as well. So, I’ve made them available to you in either a PDF you can print out on paper and cut to 8 x 10 size to frame. Or request the set of 8 x 10 digital prints if you prefer to print via your favorite photo processor.

Request your printable set!

Inspiring Lyrics

So maybe printables aren’t your thing but you still want to be inspired by the lyrics. No worries. Here are the lyrics to Come Thou Fount. I find they make a wonderful prayer!

Come Thou Fount

by Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

Verse One

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Verse Two

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

Verse Three

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

In the printables, I put verse three as the central verse because it is my favorite.

What is an “Ebenezer” and why raise it?

If you just read through those lyrics and got to verse two and said, “What in the world is an Ebenezer?” you’re not alone. That always bugged me when I sang the hymn in church until I looked it up.

The word is the name of a place and it means “stone of help.” The prophet Samuel created a monument and named it Ebenezer on this site of the battle in which the Philistines were finally beaten by Israel  and the land restored to God’s people.(see 1 Samuel 7:10-13)

God’s rescue of his people from the Philistines prefigured the ultimate rescue that would come on the cross. And it is the cross that is our Ebenezer. It is the symbol of God’s means of helping us when we were powerless to help ourselves. By his grace and mercy, we are reconciled to him through Christ.

When we contemplate how helpless and lost we were and how God rescued us, we really remember how we are in debt to God’s grace. His goodness and mercy anchors me to Him. I don’t worship and obey his commands to earn his acceptance. He has sealed me with His Spirit. So when, in my still in-progress state of being conformed to his character, I wander and stumble, I can rejoice that it is not my goodness that assures my status with God, but His.

Question: What hymn, prayer, or song inspires you to remember how wonderful God is and how much he loves you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Are you’re reading this before Midnight December 15 (PST)?

If yes, you can still make 2017 your Best Year Ever

If you’re a subscriber, I’ve emailed you about this. But if you are not and you’ve just happened by the site today, you are gonna want to check this out!

If this timer is not yet at zero, you can still grab my exclusive bonus package when you enroll in Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever.

So basically, I’m offering you $319 in value just for enrolling via my link. That’s not counting the bonuses Michael is offering. And I can tell you from my experience as a participant these past couple years, this course is LIFE-CHANGING!!

I did the independent study my first year and last year I bumped it up to the VIP level. It was worth every penny.

In fact, you wouldn’t be reading this now if I had not been part of the VIP group and benefited from Michael’s coaching and the advice in the private facebook group. I had a lot of obstacles come up in 2016 and I honestly believe I would’ve shut down my ministry had it not been for the quit-proofing I got in this course and the FB group.

Check out my special bonus package and get enrolled before the timer reaches zero!

Enroll Now!

If the timer is at zero, I’m sorry, but you missed out on this exclusive offer. But I’d still love to work with you so check out my coaching page and book a free consultation!

How God Provided the “How” When I Didn’t Know What To Do

Plus: FREE ebook for you!

Has it sunk in yet how close we are to beginning a new year? Do you ever get overwhelmed by trying to figure out how to get it all done? Or how to even know what to put on the to do list in the first place? 

I get it! But I’ve got some encouraging news for you!! God will provide the how!

As one who often doesn’t have a clue how to do what he asks me to do, I get a front row seat to watch God work. And he always comes through.

Sometimes he waits until the last possible second and way past the point of my comfort to reveal the answer, but he always reveals how to accomplish what he has called me to do.

(Now whether or not I USE what God provides is another matter altogether!)

How God Provides the HOW

Often, God uses other people to provide me with the how.

Michael Hyatt is someone God has used over and over in my life to show me how to move forward in answering God’s call on my life.

Around the time I was trying to figure out how to set up a blog and publish my first Bible study, God led me to Michael’s blog. There I found a godly mentor and guide to show me how to set up this ministry.

shespeaks2013-michaelhyatt

(Michael Hyatt with me at SheSpeaks Conference)

If you don’t know who he is, Michael is the former CEO of the Christian publishing company Thomas Nelson. He now mentors people on how to intentionally live out what God is calling them to do with their lives.

Recently he asked 30 top achievers a question:

What is the most important thing you do at the beginning of each year to set yourself up for your best year ever?

Michael compiled their answers in a new ebook and is giving it away for free for a limited time.

You’ll recognize many of the names in the book. They include multiple best-selling authors, speakers, and leaders of their respected fields.

People like:

  • Lysa TerKeurst
  • Dave Ramsey
  • Andy Stanley
  • John Maxwell
  • Andy Andrews
  • Jon Acuff
  • (and many others)

I’ve already grabbed my copy and wanted to share my link with you so you can get yours. I’m telling ya, God’s providing lots of “how” ideas through these people! It’s free for a limited time, so get your copy now!

Blessings of truth and grace,

P.S. As we get closer to the start of 2017, the timing on this couldn’t be any better. The insights were pretty incredible. Click here to take a look for yourself!

P.P.S Share this with your friends so they don’t miss out on the free book! I’m sure they want their 2017 to be their best year ever, too. They’ll thank you for sharing!

I give up! Ever feel like that?

Will you help me break through my writer's block?

Do you ever just get so sick and tired of fighting through something that you just give up? I have been struggling with writer’s block for a couple weeks now and today I finally just threw in the towel. The more I prayed and begged God to spark an idea, to show me a passage about which I could write, the less I felt ready to write. And so I now humbly reach out and ask for your help. I’m here to serve you but the best way for me to serve you right now is to to ask you what you need. What questions do you have? What are you struggling with in your daily life that you could use some perspective from Scripture and a fellow believer?

Help me break through the writer's block! Send your ideas and questions, please!

Ironically, as I’ve gotten into the Word more and more for my own personal devotion and spiritual growth these past few weeks, the less and less I felt like I had something to share here on my blog. God and I are walking some things out, and one day I trust this time spent with him and his Word will produce fruit I can share here on the blog. But right now, I feel like a tree in a dormant state when it comes to writing these blog posts.

Two are better than one!

Our faith journey is not meant to be lived alone. God never intends for us to struggle through tough times alone. We grow and thrive when we have a community of believers to encourage, support, confront, and strengthen us.

So, while I would rather you think I always have my act together, never struggle or stumble, and my ducks are in a nice, tidy row, that’s not reality. And to pretend otherwise would be a disservice to both of us! We need each other. And we need God in our midst.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. —Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Iron Sharpens Iron

Proverbs 27:17

Questions and Answer Series

I’ve been enjoying a series on one of my mentors’ blogs in which she is responding to her reader’s questions. So, since God is working with me on some things I’m just not yet ready to share on this platform, I think it is the perfect time to do a Q & A series. To make it successful, though, I need you to send me your questions.

I know a lot of you are shy about leaving comments. So, I’m going to give you three different ways to submit your question(s) or post idea(s).

3 Ways Send Me Your Questions/Ideas

  1. Click this link to fill in a Google Form.
  2. Click this link to send me an email.
  3. Click on the “Comment” button above and leave your idea in the comments section of this post.

Another Way to Help: Complete my 2016 Reader Survey!

One of my very favorite things is getting to know the people I write and speak to and serve through this ministry.  

And while I would totally love it if I could take each and every person who visits my blog out to lunch or to Starbucks, that just isn’t possible.

So, each year I do a quick little reader survey to help me get to know you better.

I’m so excited about my brand new reader survey!

2016 Reader Survey - Speech Bubble

I’ve totally changed up the questions and I know that if you’ll take just 2 to 5 minutes to complete it, I’ll be able to serve you so much better.

Of course you’re welcome to take longer than 5 minutes if you want! Shoot, the more you tell me about yourself, your interests, hobbies, challenges, hopes and goals, the better I will know what you want me to write about. And the more relevant my posts can be for you and what is going on in your life.

To take the survey, just click the yellow button below.

Sure, I’ll take the survey!

Thanks so much for your help and willingness to share your ideas, thoughts, and questions.

I just hope I don’t end up feeling like Ben Stein’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…

IMG_3369

Well? What questions or ideas do you have for me? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Today on Periscope: 6 Steps to a Marriage Makeover

11:45 am today (replay available for 24 hours)

Whether you have the app on your smartphone or prefer to view on your computer, you can join me on Periscope! Click here to go to my Periscope channel. If you follow me on Periscope you’ll get a notification whenever I go live.

If you join me live, you can chat with me. If you watch the replay, you can leave comments here on this post or send me a Tweet and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

Today I’ll share the six steps Matt and I have used to help us when we have needed a fresh start in our marriage. If you missed Monday’s blog post, this was our topic. In the periscopes I give the tips but also answer questions and share other stories, etc. that I don’t in the blog post. My scopes have been running about 25-30 minutes.

Soon I’ll be retro-fitting this post to contain an edited replay of the content section of the scope. It won’t have the comments though and I’m not sure how long it will take to get that edited and posted here. So try to catch it live or on the Periscope replay!

If you want the free Marriage Makeover checklist I showed you in the video, just click the image or button below and I’ll email it to you instantly!

Click here to get FREE Marriage Makeover Checklist!

 

What Categories Do You Prefer I Use on the Blog

These will appear as buttons or links you can click to read posts by categories.

I’m planning to make some improvements to the website. I’d love for you to help with this process so I create content that is of value to you. One of the changes I’m considering is revising the categories (or topics) of posts. In the image below, Option A is a list of the current categories I’ve been using. Options B and C are a couple of new sets I’m considering. Option D is for you to suggest a set of categories.

What kind of content do you want me to write and how do you want it organized? Let me know via the one question survey below. Thanks!

FYI, the survey widget may not work so great if your reading this post via email or on a mobile device. Sorry about that. If you can’t see the image and voting options below, please click this link to vote for the categories you want me to write about.

Create your own user feedback survey

New FREEBIES Coming Your Way!

Help me make sure they are in the format you prefer!

I’m excited about some new features and improvements that are coming soon to the Making It Real Ministries site. I want to provide you with the most helpful and easy to use information and features that will make a real difference in your real life. To insure I create what you need and want I’ll be asking one or two questions a week to get your ideas and input. They will be short and only take a minute or so of your time but will reward you with valuable resources!

Here are the first two questions …

Create your own user feedback survey

FYI, the survey widget may not work so great if your reading this post via email or on a mobile device. Sorry about that. If you can’t see the questions, please click this link and tell me what type of FREEBIES you want.

How God Got My Attention with a Fruitless Fig Tree

Here in Texas, you do NOT want someone to say you are “all hat and no cattle.” In the same way, those of us who profess to follow Christ never want him to declare we are all leaves and no figs! Earlier this week, as I read the Gospel accounts of Holy Week, the puzzling account of Jesus cursing a fig tree captured my attention (Matthew 21:12-22 and Mark 11:12-24). I’ve read these passages before, scratched my head in confusion, and moved on to the more straight-forward parts of the story. This time, I couldn’t let go of this odd scene. I felt God encouraging me to linger, listen, and learn.

A Fig Tree

Modified version of a photo by Ian Scott / CC BY

A Fruitless Fig Tree

After Sunday’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, with the shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” still ringing in his ears, Jesus retreated to Bethany for the night. Early the next morning, a hungry Jesus trekked back to Jerusalem. I suspect the pain in his empty stomach mixed with the pain in his heart over the scene he witnessed the previous day in his Father’s house.

In the distance, he spotted a fig tree full of leaves. Good sign. Many leaves means much fruit when it comes to fig trees. Breakfast, coming up!

But where there should have been much fruit, Jesus found only leaves. Mark’s account disclosed it wasn’t the season for figs. So, at first, I wondered why Jesus would be disappointed and angry because the tree had no produce. But then I learned

Continue Reading »

Please Take My 2015 Reader Survey!

Each week, I share my thoughts with you. Today, I want to hear your thoughts and get to know you and your needs so I can better serve you. The number of people following Making It Real Ministries has more than doubled since my last reader survey. So there is a very good chance I haven’t had the chance to hear directly from you in my previous reader survey. And even if you did complete the survey in 2014, your needs may have changed since then.

In order to make sure I’m providing content that is relevant and helpful, I need your honest feedback.

Take My 2015 Reader Survey!

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com © yarranz

Why It Helps You to Complete the Survey

It will take less than five minutes to fill out the survey. Doing so will help you as well as me.

Why? Because your input will make my content even more interesting and custom-made to you. So, if you’ve been thinking, “I wish Laura would write a post about…” or “I sure wish someone would provide an article that could help me with…” then this is your chance to make your requests known.

You will also have the opportunity to share your prayer requests. You are always welcome to email me your prayer requests, but if you’d like to submit a request anonymously, here is your chance. Even though I won’t know your name, God will!

Easy and Quick

The survey is easy. The results are completely anonymous. I can not tell who said what. Your answers to the survey are important to me and will help set the course for Making It Real Ministries. So, be sure you get your two cents in!

Thanks in advance for your help!

TakeSurvey