Archives For Lyn Smith

As many of you know, I am back in school, getting a Masters degree in international studies. I have the opportunity to take a trip next summer for course credit. As I was looking at the options, I experienced a feeling that has become quite familiar lately. I’m not sure what to call it … longing, maybe?

As I was envisioning the various places I could go, my heart was already connecting with the people in those countries. Their need for the gospel as well as their physical needs filled my mind immediately. And then I remembered as the feeling came, that this wouldn’t be a mission trip. It would be fun and interesting, but educational not missional. Sigh. Longing.

Sometimes as I sit in class or am studying, it comes again. Why do I need to know what caused the Asian financial crisis or the Arab Spring? I’m in ministry, for crying out loud! (as my Mom would say). I love God, His Word and people. I burn with passion to touch people’s lives, to pour life-giving truth into them, to make a difference in…

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Excellence is Worth It

By Lyn Smith

CleanSince starting my Masters program three weeks ago, I’ve read over a thousand pages, heard six lectures, attended an on- campus banquet, and turned in a paper.

Meanwhile, the dust is coating my furniture, I’m walking on crumbs through the kitchen and my beloved InStyle September issue, all luscious 652 pages, remains unread. Actually, I only made it half way through the August issue before my life went crazy. Sigh. I guess someone else will have to carry on the fashionista persona for me.

As I was sitting in my Global Political Economy class last week, listening to a lecture/discussion on a possible return to the Gold Standard, and trying to wrap my brain around terms like, “quantitative easing,” “convertible currency,” and “protectionist measures,” I had that moment … why am I doing this?

Don’t get me wrong. I love learning! I love academics. I have always thrived when intellectually stimulated and challenged. The problem was economics. Ugh. No interest whatsoever.

But God reminded me that He is better equipping me to do what He has called me to do.

Excellence is never easy. We can be naturally good at things and have a natural…

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Embracing the Unchangeables

By Lyn Smith

I first remember hearing this foundational principle taught when I was 16 — learn to accept, be content with, and thrive in the unchangeables God has given.

Some of those would include:

Biological parents

Birth date and year

Height

and …

gender, or physical DNA.

Surrendering the unchangeables to God leads to depth of character that is obtained no other way. Accepting the way God set our stage, enables us to play out the richest of stories. Resisting those, on the other hand, leads to turmoil, pain, frustration, destruction, dysfunction and brokenness.

In view of recent news events, I want to camp for a moment on our unchangeable DNA.

No matter what we cut off or add on, stretch, pinch, tattoo, or plump, we can’t change our basic DNA. All of us have discomforts, things that feel wrong, harmful tendencies, and confusions. That’s the human condition because of sin. Some of it is genetic, but it still comes from human failure, such as alcoholism. In order to triumph through those deeply ingrained, difficult struggles, we must make determined, Herculean effort through the power of the Holy Spirit, but it is worth it!

Giving in,…

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The Perks of Pain

By Lyn Smith

PainThe absence of a loved one. The loss of a best friend. The end of a career. Abandonment. Abuse. Being dismissed or overlooked. Loneliness. Death of a dream. Financial ruin.

No one wants to be in pain. We usually resist it with all we have in us. We pray against it or for it to go away. Think about most prayer requests we offer or hear. They are more often than not about God removing or preventing something unpleasant.

Having experienced all but one of the things listed above, I can say that pain has been a necessary and appreciated intruder. Not always at the time, but definitely in hindsight.

Four benefits of pain:

It tells us something is wrong. Without pain, we would never know anything was wrong. We would foolishly continue on a path that would eventually lead to destruction. Just as physical pain alerts us to a medical condition, emotional and mental pain alert us to our spiritual condition. Pain reveals the weak areas of our character, and sometimes the weak areas of our lives.

It makes us stronger. On the other hand, as we surrender to God’s process in it, pain…

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BusinessThose of us whose ministry is also our job have an ongoing challenge.

There is a certain amount of work and business that has to be addressed. How much can we spend on something worthwhile versus how much we will make on it? Should we speak at some small venues that can’t pay much or only at the big ones? Do we write what will sell or what God lays on our hearts? How much time should we spend on mission projects that actually cost money and pay nothing, versus engagements that pay the bills? Do we nurture relationships simply to be a blessing, or do we focus on the ones that will be advantageous?

Yuck. The business of ministry raises uncomfortable questions. When does it stop being ministry and become business?

Where and when do we cross that line?

When I let someone pressure me into something God has not told me to do.

When I consider the money before I seek God’s guidance.

When I approach a project without praying and immersing myself in His Word first.

When what I want to say becomes more important than what God wants me to say.

When I care…

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Words Aren’t Enough

By Lyn Smith

WordsImpossible

People who haven’t been trapped in an addiction or ingrained sin pattern do not understand its strength. Years of denial, suppression, or acting out create a dynamic that, apart from Christ, render the person powerless. They still bear personal responsibility, but that doesn’t change the fact that all their processes – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual – are badly damaged. It requires a huge spiritual transformation to change course.

You can’t just tell someone struggling in it to “stop it.” It sounds logical and rational but it isn’t for the person trapped. It makes as much sense as telling a drowning person to “stop drowning.” If they can’t swim, they can’t stop drowning. A person in addiction or sin patterns can’t think clearly, emote normally, or respond safely. They are drowning. They are gasping for air and grasping for help. Please don’t tell them to just “stop it.”

Possible

They need a lifeline. His name is Jesus Christ. His power within changes corrupted thoughts, desires, and drives. He is the Healer, Restorer, and Provider. He makes the old, new. He brings life from death. He wipes out the old, broken places and infuses…

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Faithfulness“I can’t do this anymore!”

Have you ever felt that way? Or maybe I should ask, how often do you feel that way?

The Problem

Unfortunately, that’s the thought that often leads to bad decisions. It comes from feeling stuck and hopeless. We feel like it will never change. It will always be this way. Therefore, we must do something.

Sometimes God does lay a holy restlessness on our hearts in order to produce change. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re referring to situations that require extreme integrity and trust to endure. Situations God has allowed that require faithfulness, such as a difficult family member, an illness, financial challenges, a rebellious child, or a hard marriage.

The Truth

God doesn’t ask us to do what’s right tomorrow. He asks us to do what is right today. That’s how we stay faithful – one day at a time. God’s grace is sufficient for today. We don’t know what tomorrow holds and we aren’t guaranteed any tomorrows. We only have this moment for sure so we need to live it in the way that honors God the most.

The Solution

You may think you can’t endure financial hardship for…

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foggy mountainGood-to-great leaders are able to strip away so much noise and clutter and focus on the few things that will have the greatest impact. (Jim Collins in “Good to Great”)

That truth is not just for “leaders” but for every Christ follower. We aren’t here just to pass time until we die. We are here to enjoy God, fulfill His purpose, and have a significant impact.

Yet, people continually wonder what God’s will is for their lives. We express restlessness and discontent because we don’t know our purpose. Why waste another day wondering and scratching our heads?

Try these simple steps. They will take time but they will focus your life and bring eternal results.

1) Know it. Spend time in God’s Word everyday and talk to Him about your search for His will. While you are diligently doing that, research spiritual gifts, talk to spiritually mature people about your search, and have friends praying with you. God wants you to be successful in this so He isn’t trying to hide it from you. Seek it and you will find it.

2) Grow it. Once you have discovered and defined your unique…

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bullsWhat’s Going On?
Do you feel pressured to be entertaining, captivating and fun? We are competing with Youtube, texting, smart phones and iPads, all of which find their ways into church services and Bible studies. They are great tools that can be used in both settings to read Scripture, look up information, and share it on social media sites. It’s all good, right?
Is it all good? Is it good when we feel the need to add more stories and tell more jokes in order to keep people engaged? When did the life changing Word of God stop being enough?
Granted, God wired each of us specifically, with distinct personalities to be used for His glory. Some of us are legitimate story tellers. Some shine at application. Others are funny. Those giftings, under the Holy Spirit’s control, can express truth with incredible impact. Variety itself is a powerful resource. So, thankfully, there isn’t one right way to teach the Bible.
But are we actually teaching the Bible or are we tickling ears so they’ll come back? Do we hope they leave laughing, having had a good time? Or do we pray they leave changed,…

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Women, You Should Run Too!

By Lyn Smith

 

manHere’s the Deal

After reading this good article exhorting pastors to run from sexual temptation, I would like to exhort women to do the same. But for us, not only run from sexual temptation but from relational temptation.

Some women are highly sexualized, and so are readily tempted by sexual things. More women, however, are tempted by relational opportunities first, that can then turn into sexual entanglements.

Both have to be stopped immediately. That’s hard for some women, as we have been trained to be kind, gentle, and polite. Most of us will try those approaches first, which, I have found, actually encourage a guy to keep trying.

This is especially difficult in ministry situations, where there is a level of trust and an assumed safety. Predators in churches or ministries will know that we feel safe and will find subtle ways to test our tolerance or awareness. A slightly inappropriate comment, a smile with a wink, or a gentle touch are simple ways he has of determining our availability.

Here’s the Plan

If we tolerate or enjoy them, he will increase his efforts. That is why we have to be internally resistant and externally…

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Do You Alienate or Radiate?

By Lyn Smith

 

diamondBlack and White

There are some things in life about which we need and want to be as clear as possible. In the area of faith and what we believe about God and the Bible, those are often referred to as the non-negotiables. We should all have a short list of things we will not waver from, no matter what. Those are the hills we will die on if need be. We stand on them in love, but stand on them we do.

Gray 

Many problems occur in our relationships and churches when we let negotiables divide us … when we let them become too important … when they are preferences, not necessarily truth. We naturally want everyone else to feel as passionately about something as we do, but they won’t. God wired and gifted us all uniquely and those things will be expressed in different passions.

Speaking in tongues, interpreting dreams, fasting, clothing, contemporary vs. traditional, or election vs. free will, are some of the things people fight over. Unless it directly involves salvation, validity of Scripture or the Personhood of God, it isn’t a hill to die on, and certainly not one…

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leadEngage Spiritually

One of the marks of strong, godly leadership is the ability to make decisions. If the leader is walking intimately with God every day through Bible reading and prayer, then the Holy Spirit’s guidance is usually not difficult to discern. It may take a few days or weeks, and maybe fasting to focus on specific issues, but God promises that when we ask for wisdom, He gives it generously. He also says that His sheep hear His voice. So if a leader is praying, searching The Word, fasting and listening, he or she can make decisions with God confidence. The people following such a leader are encouraged and feel secure when decisive action is taken.

Listen and Respond

On the other hand, people can become discouraged and unsettled when leaders fail to make timely decisions. They doubt the sincerity of their leaders, their confidence, and even their spiritual lives. People do want to be heard, so good leaders listen. But great leaders respond. They steward well the thoughts and concerns of their people, by humbly bringing the issues to God, receiving His guidance, and making decisions. Even if the answer is…

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