Will 2024 Be A Year of Procrastination or Fortitude?

Will 2024 Be A Year of Procrastination or Fortitude?

I love writing, producing an award-winning program, or hosting a great event that nourishes souls. But it is often agonizing getting there. I know the destination, but the journey of getting there never stops being challenging. I have a beast inside me that occasionally rears its head, hissing that I’m not good enough, not worthy, and blowing flames of ensuing failure at me if I awaken it. This beast can wake me up in the middle of the night, prompting me to avoid the pain of attempting what God says I can do – “all things.” I end up in the pit of procrastination while watching others from the sidelines instead of doing the hard work to move forward.

Procrastination is a form of anxiety and fear. 

Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and the author of “Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind,” said in a WSJ article, “Procrastination is a distraction. Anxiety triggers procrastination, especially for perfectionists, because we worry our solution to the problem won’t be good enough. Procrastination feels better than being anxious or trying to come up with a solution.”

No one wants to live in pain, so we stop moving forward to avoid failure and suffering. Procrastination holds us back. But it is a mindset that can be broken. God is a forward moving God who wants us to go forward and trust Him. Throughout the Bible, in story after story, God reminds us to make decisions on His Kingdom’s purposes and His will. We may not be good enough yet, but we can do “all things through Him who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13). The issue is whether we are fully engaged and aligned with Him and His will, or are we just running to Him with our willful desires when fear sets in.

Our mind needs to be sound and calm when we are anxious so we don’t lose sight of the road in front of us. It’s a choice. When we only focus on the pain and not God’s promise to be with us through the struggles, we freeze and procrastinate. The squeaky wheel (our pain and fear) is heard, but the wheel isn’t broken. It’s still going around. Our job is to keep going forward; in time and with God’s guidance, we will prevail. The Bible tells us that we are to be “anxious for nothing” and to take our requests (not demands) to God (Philippians 4:6-7). He will empower us and find solutions to the squeaky wheel if we stay connected to His will, which may not turn out the way we planned. It’s a message I have had to be reminded of again and again and why my quiet time with God is essential.

Want to break through the fear and learn how to gain fortitude in 2024? 

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fortitude as “strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger and bear pain or adversity with courage.” In the world we live in today, we need fortitude and the strength to face the oncoming cultural winds that often bring pain and suffering. We need to take on the “mind of Christ” living within us. This year focus on where God is taking you. We are to “walk by faith and not sight” (II Corinthians 5:7). Kingdom purpose must be at the forefront of all we do, both for our families and for our careers. This year will you watch from the sidelines or push forward?

God’s on the journey with you, so trust Him to be there. Let’s roll!

Empowering Stories of Forgiveness and How They Can Change the Direction of Our Lives

Empowering Stories of Forgiveness and How They Can Change the Direction of Our Lives

It is easy to become a victim of empty promises and lies in the media and entertainment industry. It’s often not a question of “if” you’ll be cheated or taken advantage of; it’s “when.” Anger is an easy button to push, but when the root of bitterness is bitten, it can cause irrefutable damage.

Stories can help us forgive, keep our integrity and move on.

I frequently look at classic fairy tales to find lessons hidden in them. Like parables that Jesus told, many fairy tales have lessons and wisdom to learn from as we examine them more closely. They can teach us about choices and circumstances that occur in our lives, many of which can happen beyond our control.

The story of Rapunzel is one. It was made famous by the Brothers Grimm in their fairytale book for children, but it’s believed that its roots lay in the third-century Italian story of Saint Barbara, whose father thought her so beautiful that he locked her away. The story through the centuries has had many versions with many different storylines. Most recently, Disney retold the story in their animated version entitled, Tangled.

One of the lessons most popularized from the story is that you can’t keep children from the world’s evils. But I think many have missed other hidden lessons. It’s a story of choosing to take risks and make life-changing choices. It’s a story of being set free from bondage caused by sinful acts done to us, whether intentionally or not. Most importantly, it’s a story of climbing up and down the ladder of forgiveness and love and our ability to maintain our integrity and move on despite what’s happened in our lives.

We often see unforgivable acts that cause pain and suffering as singular actions – “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.” However, if you examine unpardonable offenses, one finds that they are usually caused by more profound issues of repeated and layered actions. One of the many versions of Rapunzel’s story tells of her mother, who refuses to eat and yearns only for a root growing in the witch’s garden during her pregnancy. Out of love and concern for his wife’s health, Rapunzel’s father repeatedly steals the witch’s magical root, gets caught and must surrender their child to the witch who locks her in a tower. The love of the prince is Rapunzel’s only escape from her bondage.

Unconditional love is the healing balm for repeated offenses.

Rapunzel’s beauty and eventual saving grace are revealed in the power of her hair. Her hair, like God’s unconditional love, is never cut off but keeps growing longer and stronger year after year. It is her hair that the prince uses to save Rapunzel. It is God’s never-ending unconditional love for us through Prince Jesus that rescued us from our eternal separation from Himself. Jesus was God’s ladder of love used to reach and free us from sin’s bondage. Rapunzel’s hair was woven – braided in three substantial sections of hair which allowed her to be rescued. God’s love and forgiveness are also interwoven with the strength of three – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit  which provide us with an unbreakable bond.

It’s our inability to escape our sins that requires God’s never-ending forgiveness.

Jesus, our ladder of love and forgiveness, is thrown to us daily so we may escape the entrapment of sin. As long as we’re entrapped in this world, we will never be able to stop making sinful choices. Our only hope is to recognize our need for God’s escape ladder – Jesus.

The book of Hosea in the Bible tells the story of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness for us. Often misunderstood because of its sexual themes, Hosea is far from a tale of sexual lust and fantasy consequences. Instead, it is the story of God’s unrelenting forgiveness for our continual sinning. He may allow our deserved punishment, but He’ll never abandon us. 

Stories make us think and hear God’s voice.

God used the parable of Hosea and his marriage to a prostitute for us to understand the height, length and depth of His love and forgiveness, and the reason why Jesus came and sacrificed His life for us. Prince Jesus scaled sin’s tower to reach the depths of our hearts. Then God commands us to forgive just as He forgave us. He urges us to fix our eyes on Jesus, who empowers us and allows our eyes to be opened to those entrapped in the bondage of their sin and to forgive those who have caused us pain and suffering. It enables us to turn from anger and the root of bitterness we may have eaten and then clasp onto God’s powerful, forgiving love. Like the voice of the prince whom Rapunzel heard while in her tower, God allows us to hear His unique voice and the heart song of Jesus.

On February 24th, The Influence Lab will host producer Cindy Bond of Mission Pictures International in a free online event. Her newly released film, Redeeming Love, from the best-selling novel by Francine Rivers, was inspired by the book of Hosea. I will interview Cindy, and we will examine the challenges of making the movie and how its story of forgiveness and love is so needed in our culture today. Redeeming Love, like the story of Rapunzel, reveals the effects of evil, choosing to obey God’s direction and not our own, and how His plans for us bring renewed life and a way forward.

Can you hear the Prince of Peace’s voice in your life? Don’t let unforgivable acts keep you entrapped. God desires you to be set free and to live happily ever after.

Don’t miss the Influence Lab webinar featuring Cindy Bond on February 24. Sign up today for this free on-iine event! Register here.

An INNER VIEW with Dr. Debra Dean

An INNER VIEW with Dr. Debra Dean

Do you have trouble setting boundaries and trusting God with your career choices? With decades of experience in corporate America, Dr. Debra Dean is an expert at integrating faith in every aspect of life. In this INNER VIEW, she candidly shares the lessons she’s learned to become a successful leader who influences others for an eternal difference.

Bio – Dr. Debra Dean is a Christian, first and foremost, wife and mother. She is co-founder of His Kingdom Matters, president and CEO of Dean Business Consulting, and adjunct professor at Regent University. Dr. Dean served in corporate America for 25 years. Her most recent position was Director of Business Transformation nested in the Business Intelligence Department.

Dr. Dean is a published author and public speaker. Her TEDx talk Restorative Justice and Disrupt HR presentation Respectful Pluralism: Including Everyone relates to her faith at work passion. Dr. Dean has received numerous awards, including the Colorado Springs Business Journal 2020 Women of Influence Award and the 2020 Global CEO Excellence Award: Most Influential Business Consultancy CEO. She was nominated in 2019 as an operational excellence leader with OPEX Week: Business Transformation World Summit, and in 2018, she won the Outstanding Reviewer Award for Management, Spirituality, and Religion.

Dr. Dean was born and raised in Kentucky, spent nine years in Iowa, and currently resides in Colorado with her husband Steve and their youngest son Gavin. They have six children and four grandchildren. Her mission statement is to “Inspire each person to identify their human potential and pursue authenticity while living a life of eternal focus.”

INNER VIEW
Kathleen Cooke: We all think we are smart until things flop. What has God taught you about trusting Him for the unknown and seeing failures as opportunities for what He desires for us and not what we thought we wanted for ourselves.

Debra Dean: God is teaching me to trust him. It is so easy to get distracted with self-doubt about my ability or calling, but God is teaching me to trust that He has a plan, and I need to follow His plan. When I left corporate in 2018, I thought I was following God, but I got off track and started my business instead of God’s business. The past few years have been lessons of listening, praying, trusting, obeying, surrendering, and being willing to let God provide and guide me. I’m a hard-headed woman, so this is hard. But, when I surrender and trust Him, everything else works out much better. In December 2020, I had a call from a woman that worked with the White House Faith & Opportunities Initiative. We had planned an agenda for the call, but she started crying. I could hear how overwhelmed she was with work and life in her voice. She asked me, “Where are all the Christians?” She was fighting a good fight in D.C., but she felt all alone.

This gave me fuel to move from my business to God’s business and launch His Kingdom Matters in June 2021. Wow! When I trust God, BIG things happen. I did not want people to feel alone or unequipped with fighting the Christian battle in our world today. I have prayed and asked God for wisdom and guidance, and I trust that He divinely pre-plans all the content in the ministry. We start with Bold & Courageous and move into Revival. In retrospect, there is no way I could have come up with this content. It is God. Trusting Him is still a struggle I face daily, but when I trust Him with all aspects of life, He delivers miraculous works.

Kathleen: You have worked in leadership positions in the corporate business world for many years. What are some key things you have learned in your career journey?  (more…)

Want a little Whine with that? Are you Lamenting or Complaining?

Want a little Whine with that? Are you Lamenting or Complaining?

The culture today is full of complainers — Christians and non-Christians both. It’s hard not to whine about the constant disruptions affecting our lives. We are creatures of continuous unhappiness and traumatic events. A recent Barna research reveals that 82% of teens (13 to 18 years of age) admit to having a traumatic experience in their life, an experience which can continue to haunt them throughout the rest of their lives. Even in the best of situations, complaining seems to be the only way to vent our emotions after a life-changing event. Overcoming it, however, involves more. It means confronting the painful experience, changing our thinking, and waiting on God’s final return to repair our broken world that caused it in the first place. After a year of pandemic disruptions, can we prepare our thoughts for Good Friday and Easter 2021 with a posture of lamenting and not complaining?

Can we think differently? What if we purposefully practice lamenting instead of complaining?

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