Comparison is Crap!

August 14, 2020

“Where do you live? What do you do for work? Where do your kids go to school?” We live in a culture that’s quick to rank the room: who’s the smartest, the prettiest, richest? It’s been said that comparison is a trap. But I’ll just go ahead and say that comparison is crap! Why? Because it has the power to take our minds to places we don’t want to go. Spiraling toxic thoughts can lead us to envy, judgement, and even self-loathing which makes a mess of our minds. But wait, there is hope! There are two pathways we can take to get away from comparison. The more you take them, the more accessible they become. This week we shift lanes and stop comparing ourselves with others. 3 Challenges For You: #1. Every time your mind driving down the comparison lane, think… COMPARISON IS CRAP! (Yes, it is theologically correct.) #2. To veer out of the Comparison Lane, move into Gratitude Lane by counting your blessing. Start little by looking around you. Thank God for gifts you can see. Then look within you and give God thanks for your most precious gifts; the ones that don’t have a price tag like family, friends, and faith. #3. Pick one person to intentionally love and serve this week. Ask yourself, who needs help or encouragement? Then make a plan. Lastly and most importantly, put your plan in motion. That’s how others will know you’re a Christian. Not by what you have….but how you LOVE. After you do these three things, share your outcomes with a few friends.

Feelin' Stuck? Coronavirus Quarantine Tips

April 15, 2020 • Laura Busse

We’re halfway through the month of April, sheltering at home during this COVID-19 crisis. Are you feeling stuck yet? I don’t know what’s worse, being stuck at home, day after day, or going shopping and having to obey all the rules. At Target, I rounded the corner with my cart and accidently got too close to a woman crossing in front of me. Before I could apologize, she growled at me. No joke, she actually growled, as in “Grrrrrr.” At the grocery store, I didn’t see the arrows on the ground and went the wrong way in the Easter aisle. Right when I reached for the Cadbury eggs, a clerk shouted, “You went the wrong way! Go back and follow the arrows.” Like a shamed schoolgirl, I retreated with my head hung low. Maybe you haven’t been yelled at in the grocery store, but I bet you’ve experienced an increase in conflict since being stuck with the same people, animals, or neighbors all week long. This is a perfect time to begin or remind ourselves of a practical, holy habit that can help us during our time of quarantine. HOLY HABIT – A simple, repetitive practice that connects you to God and grows you closer to Him. Holy Habits can be a lifesaver during difficult times. Two weeks ago we focused on the power of gratitude to God every day at 3:00p.m. If you missed it, please go back and read or listen to it soon. Today I want to introduce another Holy Habit – Pray Today! When you think of prayer do you think of the Lord’s prayer, “Our Father, who art in heaven…”? Or do you remember kneeling by your bed as a young child, innocently speaking “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep…”? No matter what you’ve learned about prayer in the past, I want to stretch your thinking and connect prayer to your real life’s everyday challenges. Instead of thinking about a specific prayer you might have memorized, I want you to think of prayer as simply talking to God. Anytime, anywhere, about anything. Conversational prayer with God has the power to save us from all kinds of destruction, especially now, as we’re stuck in close proximity with the some people and kept at a distance from others. By way of example, I’m going to share with you how it saved me last week: WATCH THIS VIDEO During this COVID -19 crisis, let’s rely on the Holy Spirit’s purifying power. His spring of new beginnings never runs out. No matter what toxic thoughts have tainted your mind, your heart, and the people around you, it’s never too late to pour out your prayers of forgiveness and praise. When you do, no matter what time of day it is, His mercies will be new in that moment, and every morning. 3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES Here are 3 questions you can think about and share with others in your home, on the phone, or online. 1. What triggers your mind to go down a dark path? What negative thoughts have too much control over you? 2. Who could be hurt by your toxic thinking? How can you guard your heart during these days of quarantine? 3. Faith Challenge: Go to God and pray today. Talk to Him about your struggles, challenges, and heartaches. Pour out all the darkness in prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to purify your thoughts. The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World! Thank You for Being a part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement

What Habit Has Hold of You?

April 1, 2020

**“It’s always your favorite sins that will do you in.” – Kenny Chesney** As the coronavirus closes schools, businesses, churches, and outdoor parks, it’s sometimes feels like the walls are closing in around us. To get out of the house blow off some steam, my husband Dan jumped on his mountain bike. Out on a deserted dirt road, Dan ran into a neighbor taking his young daughter for a joy ride on an ATV four-wheeler. The two stopped to check in on each other’s families and sanity. Our neighbor confessed, “I’m out of work, but life at home isn’t so bad. I play games with my daughter… and start drinking at noon.” I’ll be honest, when I heard about their conversation my first thoughts were filled with judgment and pride. I’d never start drinking in the middle of the day. I bet his wife is about to lose her mind. Then the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit turned the focus on to me and revealed a new truth: Since being stuck at home, I too am drinking more than usual. In that moment, Kenny Chesney’s lyrics popped into my head. “It’s always your favorite sins, that will do you in.” Quarantined at home, every night feels like Saturday night. As soon as I pull out the pots and pans to make dinner, I get hit with a craving for a glass of red wine. What is it with women and wine? After attending countless social events, I’ve come to think women and wine have an unique attraction to one another. Maybe it’s our excuse to get together, relax, reduce stress, or escape the hurtful voices in our minds. Whatever the reason we reach for a drink, I’m guessing happy hour is on the rise during this COVID-19 crisis. Wine might not have a hold on you. If it does, I am by no means throwing stones. But think for a moment. What habit right now is trying to take more and more control over you as the walls of quarantine are closing in? What do you have a tendency to do too much? Are you eating too much, worrying too much, shopping online too much, criticizing too much, gossiping too much, watching toxic trash too much? There’s got to be something. Be honest. What is it? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to discover how habits create patterns in our lives that change who we are and can predict our future. Before we begin, here is the definition of a habit. “A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly – and in many cases, automatically.” – James Clear, Atomic Habits God has known forever what scientists are now publishing with confidence. Proverbs 23:7 reminds us that as we think, we become. I’ve come to realize that when cravings become habits, our habits lead us down the path of who we’ll become. Do you want this time of isolation and quarantine to dictate your future? It’s not too late to take inventory of what’s taking too much control over you. The most powerful habit that has changed everything in my life, is the daily practice of thanking God every day at 3:00 p.m. – the exact hour Jesus died on the cross for the world. No matter what chaos I’m living in, what crazy thoughts are running through my mind, I stop and give God thanks for something, even if it’s just a few seconds of peace. One moment of gratitude shifts my heart and mind into alignment with Jesus’ and sends me down a much better path for the rest of the day. Scripture shows us that Jesus modeled giving thanks to God at all times. He thanked God before He multiplying five fish and two loaves of bread to feed 5,000 people (Matthew 14:13-21). He thanked God before calling Lazarus from the grave ( John 11:38-44). And He even thanked God during the Last Supper, knowing His own death was imminent (Matthew 26:26-30). Let’s start or remind ourselves why giving thanks to God is a HOLY HABIT that can change everything during a time of crisis. **ONE POWERFUL MOMENT OF GRATITUDE TO GOD CAN…** • Release you from unstoppable stress or worry. • Reset your mind to God’s goodness and grace. • Remind you of what’s most important in your life. Give it a try. Set an alarm on your watch or phone for 3:00 p.m. or download our free app and we’ll start the habit for you. https://www.3oclockwakeup.com/ Every day, you will be reminded to give thanks to God and live your best life in the midst of this crisis. When the walls start closing in, let’s reach for God instead of whatever the enemy would love for you to reach for. Giving thanks to God is the first Holy Habit, the first step to win, against our favorite sins that could do us in. **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** Here are 3 questions you can think about and share with others in your home, on the phone, or online. 1. Give Thanks – Write down 5, 10, or even 50 people, places, or things you are thankful to God for. 2. Give Thought - What is a favorite sin that has the power to do you in? Confess this to yourself, God, and someone you trust who loves you. 3. Give Time – Read how Jesus modeled giving thanks in your Bible. Here are the three key passages mentioned above: Matthew 14:13-21, John 11:38-44, and Matthew 26:26-30. What can you learn from Jesus as He lived out the holy habit of giving thanks to God? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World!** **Thank You for Being a part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**

Small Change, BIG Difference

January 8, 2020 • Laura Busse

**Jesus promised, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears (from the Father) He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are yet to come.” – John 16:13** When a new year rolls around, how quick are you to make resolutions? How successful have you been at your past attempts? Have you made it to February, April, or May? How do you feel when your amazing streak of going to the gym or eating healthy is wrecked by an injury or a gallon of ice cream? After years of failing to keep my New Year’s Resolutions, I quit. I decided failure was inevitable and far too brutal. I gave in to the idea that I wasn’t tough enough to stick to the plan. Then last year I stumbled upon a book, Atomic Habits by James Clear. Here are a few quotes from his book. How do these concepts hit you? “A habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly – and in many cases, automatically.” “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” “The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding.” “If you want to predict where you’ll end up in life, all you have to do is follow the curve of tiny gains or tiny losses, and see how your daily choices will compound ten or twenty years down the line… Tiny battles will define your future self.” Clear’s research resonated with my struggles. It also reminded me how the Holy Spirit changes us little by little. We don’t wake up one morning and BAM we’re masters of forgiving others or patience at all times. No, every day brings battles, challenges, and choices to make. One incredibly profound choice we make every day is, Will I be filled with the Holy Spirit? Jesus promised, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears (from the Father) He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are yet to come.” – John 16:13 Yes, the Spirit of God is preparing us for things “yet to come.” This brings up several questions. How will we know it’s God’s voice leading us? How will know the direction to go? How will we be ready when God reveals the truth? I think a key pattern or habit we can put in place to assure we’re ready when God reveals His truth is, spending time with God (TWG) every day. This week what if you spent just a little bit more time with God? You don’t have to commit to 30 minutes every day. How about one minute? Start with a tiny change and see how over time it makes a huge difference in your faith. Here are a few ways to spend a powerful minute with God. ONE POWERFUL MINUTE COULD LOOK LIKE: • Before your feet hit the floor, tell God you love Him and ask Him to guide your day. • As you drink your tea, coffee, or eat breakfast, thank God for 10 blessings. • Open your Bible and read one scripture at least 3 times. • As you drive in your car, pray for 3 people you love. • Invite God to go with you wherever to go that day. These power moments can change your mood, motives, and set into motion a deeper relationship with God. Talking, walking, and listening to God every day is a spiritual habit that can set off a powerful chain reaction of faith growth. How do you think your hours, days, weeks, months, and years would change if you spent just a little more time with God? I’m going to predict that if you start with spending one powerful moment with God in the morning and one moment being reminded of Him at 3:00 p.m., pretty soon, this pattern of practicing the presence of God will grow and you’ll begin to carve out more time with Him. Give it a try! You have nothing to lose except one minute. It’s a precious habit that has the power to change YOU and deepen your relationship with GOD. **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others. 1. How much time do you typically spend with God every day, week, or month? 2. What are the obstacles that stand in the way of you spending more time with God? (work, kids, hobbies, life’s demands…) 3. How would your faith be different if you increased the amount of time you spend with God? Will you start with one minute in the morning and one at 3:00 p.m.? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World! Thank You for Being a part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**

Children of God - His Little Feet

December 19, 2019

**To all who receive Him, who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. – John 1:12** What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Is it decorating your tree with family all together? Is it candle light Christmas Eve service singing Silent Night? Or maybe you love watching children squeal with delight as they open gifts on Christmas morning, even before the sun rises. By far, my favorite family Christmas tradition is celebrating Jesus’ birthday with orphans from around the world. Not too far from us, in Windsor, Colorado is the “basecamp” for a non-profit organization His Little Feet. The children, from countries such as Rwanda, Haiti, and India, come to the United States for one year to raise orphan care awareness. They tour around churches in American singing, dancing and telling their stories. They bring the good news of Jesus Christ and give people the opportunity to love and serve the most vulnerable children on our planet. Every year we arrive at His Little Feet with carloads of presents made possible with the help of close friends and families. We surround His Little Feet’s tree with wrapped baby dolls, remote control cars, puzzles, games, school supplies, and crafts. We share a meal, play silly games, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus at the top of our lungs, then stuff ourselves with cake and ice cream. The ending of our time together is by far the most special part for me. We gather all together in the living room below their shared dorm rooms. All eighteen orphans line up together and sing Christmas songs. I cry tears of joy every single time. Last year, the kids sang their new favorite song, No Longer Slaves. I lost it when their sweet voices belted out… From my mother’s womb, You have chosen me. Love has called my name. I’ve been born again to a family. Your blood flows through my veins. I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God. (Bethel Music) One of leaders, seeing how moved I was by the children’s song, pulled me aside and shared why this song is so special to the orphans. She explained that when the children first arrive in Colorado, most of them bring tremendous fear with them. Although safe in warm beds, many are wracked by night terrors. The staff of His Little Feet have a brilliant battle plan to combat the enemy’s lies and fight against fear. They pray over the children before bed, play quiet worship music, and teach them about their true identity. Every child hears night after night that he or she is God’s beloved child. These children don’t know their mothers or fathers, but they know God chose them for His family. They are not orphans in God’s sight. They belong to Him. These beautiful and loved children reminded me, we too have been adopted into God’s family. Yes, we are also beloved by God. Just like the orphans, it’s so important to know our true identity. When our sense of belonging and confidence comes from our adoption into God’s family, we can also fight fear with God’s truth. From your mother’s womb, God chose you. His blood flows through your veins. You are no longer a slave to fear, you are free, because you are a child of God. Let’s confidently walk in our true inheritance at Christmastime and all year through. Please pray with me. Heavenly Father, Thank you for adopting us and calling us your own. May we find our true identity and sense of belonging in You alone. Please open our eyes fully to your love, mercy, and freedom. Thank you that we’re no longer slaves to fear. Instead we are your beloved children. Give us a child-like faith as we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Fill our hearts and homes with joy and peace. Take care of orphans all around the world. We thank you for our simple blessings, warm beds, good food, friends to call. You are our good, loving Father. We love you. Thank you for loving us. Amen If you would like to give a gift to His Little Feet this year, please go to our website – 3oclockwakeup.com. On the front page you will see an opportunity to buy them a gift. If you are encouraged by our ministry, please concern becoming a monthly partner with us. We’d love to link arms with you as we grow gratitude to God around the globe every day at 3:00pm.

Mary, Did You Know?

December 5, 2019

**For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)** Imagine what it would have been like to be Mary. You’re a young innocent teenager. You’re engaged to be married to Joseph, your high school sweetheart. The wedding plans are underway because your mother’s in charge. You stay up late with your sisters giggling with joy as you dream aloud. You can’t wait for your life with Joseph to begin. Then the angel Gabriel shows up and, boom, all your dreams are dashed. Even the wedding date is changed. His presence overwhelms you with fear. Your heart beats fast. Your mind races with thoughts such as, “How did he get here? What does he want? Is this a dream? I never asked for an angel. Help me, God!” After hearing Gabriel’s words, “Greetings favored woman! The Lord is with you.” You slowly catch your breath. Your eyes lock in on this divine being standing before you. All your senses awaken to take in every detail with delight. This is a night you will never forget. You lean in and listen intently to God’s plans. Gabriel explains, “You, Mary will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.” (Luke 1:31-33) You shake your head, not in disbelief, but in awe and wonder. How can you conceive a child when you’re still a virgin? A promise you made, a vow you’ve kept. Boldly you ask the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34) You breathe a sigh of relief. That wasn’t as awkward as you thought it might be. Gabriel doesn’t flinch. He knows the impossible is possible with God. He’s seen it throughout the ages. God can make a way, even in the darkest night. It’s time to tell Mary how she will become the mother of the long awaited Messiah. He hopes she will believe God’s truth, “Mary, the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) Without hesitation or a hint of insecurity, you except your divine calling with a simple sentence spoken, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) That’s enough for the angel to count his mission complete. He leaves immediately. You are left alone with only your thoughts. What are you thinking? How are you feeling? I imagine Mary replaying the magnificent scene a million times in her mind. I wish I could’ve sat with her than night. I would have put a loving arm around her and made her confidence soar from a two thousand year perspective. Here are a few insights I’d share. Mary did you know? Your son’s birth announcement reads, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) Mary did you know? The birth of your baby was proclaimed in the night sky by a heavenly host of angels. Their anthem of praise sang, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, peace on earth.” Lowly shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night were the first to hear the good news of great joy for all people. (Luke 2:8-15) Mary did you know? The birth of your son split history in two. Time before his birth is marked as BC (before Christ) and time after his death is marked as AD (after death). Calendars in every continent and country keep track of history according to Jesus’ lifespan. Every person born on earth celebrates their birthday on a particular day marked in history on God’s timeline. Mary did you know? When your son walked the earth, He turned the world upside down. He blessed the poor, not the rich. He loved the children, and called the “least of these” close. He healed the blind, the lame, and the sick. He saved the sinners, the outcasts, and the forgotten. He forgave the shameful, lustful, and wayward sons and daughters. He invited all people, Jews and Gentiles alike to become family. He even included women and lifted them higher than any time in history. Mary did you know? Your son changed the world not by force or by fighting, but by His faithful love. His love is pure, holy, and powerful enough to redeem every soul. His love moves mountains, heals hearts, and calls all children home to God, where they belong. Mary did you know? Your son inspired multitudes of people in history and created movements that are still going two thousand years later. Here are just a few… JESUS INSPIRED… • Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. • Johann Sebastian Bach to compose Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desire. • Leonardo Davinci to create the Last Supper. • Rembrandt to draw the Return of the Prodigal Son JESUS INSPIRED… • Victor Hugo to pin the novel, Les Miserables. • John Newton to quit the slave trade and write the beautiful poem, Amazing Grace. • Dietrich Bonhoeffer to save souls for Christ in prison and record wisdom from heaven. JESUS INSPIRED… • Harriet Tubman to lead thirteen freedom missions along the Underground Railroad. • Abraham Lincoln to stand up for all people and outlaw slavery. • Mother Teresa to give her life for the poor, sick, and marginalized. • Martin Luther King, Jr. to pastor and passionately lead the Civil Rights Movement. Mary did you know? People who believed in your Son started the first colleges in the world. Colleges like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale were founded by people who followed Jesus’ teaching to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) Mary did you know? Followers of Jesus built the first hospitals to care for the sick, created the first orphanages to love the little children, and started the first charity organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army to take care of the poor. Lastly, Mary did you know? You will be remembered in every generation as a blessed woman of God. You will be called the mother of the Savior of the world, who was and is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Your faithful words and song of praise will be read in churches every Christmas for thousands of years. If Mary had only known what we know today, I believe her fears would have been calmed and her confidence would have soared. Shouldn’t ours do the same as we prepare for Christmas during this advent season? We know the magnificent impact one child born in a manger had in history and in our hearts. Instead of shying away from sharing what we know about Jesus, let’s be bold and proclaim the wonderful things He has done. Let’s tell others how incredible it is to personally know the baby who grew in wisdom and understanding. Let’s praise the One who saves souls, loves the lost, and calls all God’s children home for Christmas. **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** I hope you’ll share these Christmas questions in a circle with a few others. 1. Step into Mary’s shoes. What questions would have been going through your mind after the angel Gabriel left? 2. If you could have sat with Mary in hopes to calm her fears and build her confidence, what would you tell her about Jesus? 3. During this Christmas season, ponder all the many miracles surrounding Jesus’ birth. Which ones move your heart and mind closer to God? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World!** **Thank You for Being A Part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**

Thanksgiving is a Comin'

November 21, 2019

**Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35** In one week, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving. Who or what are you most thankful for? Are you thankful that family and friends will gather around the table sharing delicious food and funny stories? Are you looking forward to a few days off to enjoy more time outdoors, more time shopping, eating, playing games, or relaxing? This year my family will be traveling to where our oldest daughter, Abby, has moved after her year-long immersion experience in South Africa. This morning, I was reading in my gratitude journal what I’d recorded this time last year when Abby came home for the holidays. The joy and love she brought into our house was absolutely overwhelming and highly contagious. From the moment we picked Abby up at the airport, after her first 73 days abroad, I could tell that something was different. Something in her soul had shifted. Every other sentence seemed to contain the word LOVE. She loved her host family, the leaders of her team, and the directors who dedicate their lives to building bridges instead of walls. She’d fallen in love with poor and rich children, black and white farmers, highly intelligent leaders and uneducated cooks in the kitchen. Her love of all people reminded me of Jesus. I recorded in my journal, “Abby’s home and filled with love. THANK YOU GOD!” As Abby and I talked more in the days that followed, she shared a passage from the Bible that had propelled her faith forward in South Africa. These timeless truths compelled her to love like Jesus, and not categorize His children. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. – Galatians 3:26-29 Simply put, God loves all of His children and has no favorites. From Seattle to South Africa, from London to LA, from Cuba to Colorado, God loves us all and calls us His children. We are adopted, chosen, and blessed to belong to God’s family. Can you even imagine a dinner table where every nation, tribe, and language had a seat? I guess that’s what heaven will look like someday. Maybe that’s why Jesus pointed to love as the greatest commandment, what He felt was most important on earth. He knew we’d spend eternity in heaven loving God and others. I suspect He wanted us to practice a little (or a lot) while here on earth. So what does practicing love look like? Think about how love plays out in each of these scenes: Scene #1. A single mom is nervous to tell her three kids that she can’t afford a turkey this year. They’ll have to eat at McDonald’s because it’s open and cheap. Right then, the doorbell rings and a smiling neighbor hands her a 15lb. turkey saying, “They were on sale and I thought of you.” Scene #2 It’s Thanksgiving day and the hospital is unusually quiet. On the children’s floor, kids nap and dream of going home real soon. Then all of a sudden, the silence is broken by Christmas music and laughter. One of the janitors, dressed up like Santa with a huge smile, bounds into every room singing Joy to the World and gives every child a candy cane. Scene #3 She’s a widow now. Her husband of sixty four years passed away a month ago. She shakes her head in disbelief as she ponders celebrating the holidays without her love. She’ll miss their Thanksgiving traditions, his silly jokes, and their candlelight dinners. Her phone buzzes. It’s her granddaughter texting, “This year Nana, why don’t you stay with me during the holidays. I’d love your help and company.” This Thanksgiving week, you will be given many opportunities to love others. I think we’d all agree that some people are easy to love, while others are much more challenging. You might not see things the way they do, agree with their political views, or approve of their lifestyle. Still… you can choose to love and let go of all that separates you. Love has the power to unite unlikely people when we love like Jesus. If Jesus sat at your dinner table, trekked on a hike with your family, or went shopping with you, who would He include in His love? What words would He choose? Who would He stop for? How would He touch? In what ways would He encourage? You have Jesus’ Spirit within you. Let His unconditional love flow through you and love all of His children He brings into your path. When you love like Jesus, not only does your soul shift, but you saturate those around with love and joy. This is the kind of love that breaks down barriers. It’s highly contagious! Practice and give it a try. **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** Here are 3 questions or prompts to encourage you to love like Jesus this week. 1. Pray and ask God who He specifically wants you to love this week. 2. Plan ahead. How can you intentionally plan to love the different people you’ll be with on Thanksgiving Day? 3. Reach out in love. Who might be sad, lonely, or in need this week? How can you love like Jesus with your time, words, and actions? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World!** **Thank You for Being A Part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**

Five More Minutes

November 14, 2019 • Laura Busse

**Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:20** Do you ever feel like having five more minutes would make all the difference in the world? You desperately desire for five more minutes to clean before the company arrives, or prepare before the presentation, or hug before you have to say good-bye. When have you longed for just five more minutes? There’s a country music song, Five More Minutes, that came on the radio the other day while I was in my car. As the lyrics rolled, I nodded my head in agreement with a smile on my face Time rolls by the clock don't stop I wish I had a few more drops Of the good stuff, the good times Oh but they just keep on flying Right on by like it ain't nothing Wish I had me a pause button Moments like those Lord knows I'd hit it And give myself five more minutes The songwriter describes scenes from his life when he wishes he’d had five more minutes to enjoy … fishing with close friends, kissing his high school sweetheart, playing football on his home field, and talking with his grandpa before he died. Don’t you wish you had a “pause button” that could freeze a moment in time? Who would you spend five more minutes with? What time in your life would you like to relive in order to remember it more vividly? I’d sit with my grandpa (Papa) and ask him three important questions: “How did you became best friends with Jesus?” “What was it like to fight in WWII?” And, “what have you learned about God that you’d like me to pass down to my children since they’ll never get a chance to meet you?” I’d also thank him for his unconditional love and for introducing me to Jesus when I was a little girl. I’d also rewind time and take more five minute videos of my children. Pictures don’t quite capture their sweet voices, their innocent questions, and the many times they said, “Watch Mom!” as they rode their bike for the first time, dove off the diving board, or waved goodbye on the first day of school. I was too busy in the moment to ask Papa about his faith or record my children’s milestones. Busyness blocked me from thinking with a long term perspective. I was present in the moment, but I didn’t document it to pass down to the next generation. But what I do have are my daily gratitude journals from when my kids were little. Before cell phones could snap photos, I took “snap shots” by writing down in a small notebook the date, our location, and what I was thankful for that day. Today I can read them and remember the scenes as if I was still standing right there. As if having a pause button, my mind drifts back to the past and I can clearly see who and what I was thankful for. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually living out Ephesians 5:20 which says, “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This Thanksgiving, let’s press pause and take five minutes to ask a friend or family member three questions that are sure to increase gratitude around our tables and in our hearts. **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** Here are 3 questions to encourage gratitude to grow in your heart. 1. During this Thanksgiving season, who or what are you most thankful for? 2. When you were a child what was your favorite part of Thanksgiving Day? 3. If you could pass down one important truth you’ve learned in your life to the next generation, what truth would that be? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World! Thank You for Being A Part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**

Contagious Love

November 7, 2019 • Laura Busse

**Jesus taught, “You have heard it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:43-44** It’s easier to love some people more than others, right? It’s easy to love a child who’s snuggled close and sleeps peacefully on your chest. It’s easy to love a co-worker who agrees with your decisions and has your back in every meeting. It’s easy to love a friend who always picks up when you call, or often texts you encouraging words and emojis. It’s much harder to love the child who throws a temper tantrum at church screaming “I hate you!” for all to hear. It’s challenging to love the co-worker who stabs you in the back instead of guarding it for you. And it’s difficult to continually love the friend who takes and takes, but never gives. It’s challenging to love the people we live with, work with, and bump into every day. When Jesus walked this earth, He exuded a love that was contagious. He wants everyone to love the Lord our God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. He also calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30 - 31). By claiming LOVE to be God’s greatest command, Jesus takes love to a whole other level. When Jesus was asked, “Who’s my neighbor?” He clarified by sharing the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus was an amazing storyteller. He often used stories to highlight God’s values and character. But equally powerful to the stories Jesus told, were the lessons He modeled and lived out. Step into this true story with me and see how Jesus teaches us how to love our neighbors… and our enemies. At mid-day while all the other women are cooking, cleaning, or napping, she sneaks to the well to fetch her daily supply of water. Her feet move fast, increasing the sweat upon her forehead. When she arrives, oh what a relief, she finds no other women. Thankfully, she’d dodged their judgmental glances and whispered names, for today at least. But wait, someone else is at the well, a Jewish man. That’s fine; he won’t bother her. He probably won’t even acknowledge her existence. To her surprise she hears, “Will you give me a drink?” She looks around. Could he be talking to her? Doesn’t he know the clear boundaries? Jews hate Samaritans. They consider them “half-breed”, not even worthy of a single glance. Plus, she’s a woman, the lowest of the low. What is he thinking asking HER for a drink? A confused look crosses her face. She sputters, “How can YOU ask ME for a drink?” Without hesitation, Jesus reveals His true identity to a shameful woman. Oh my word, she’s standing face to face with the long-awaited Messiah. The one who’s come to save the world. His words are more direct with her than they were even His disciples, who had left everything to follow Him. With eyes wide open, her heart pounds in Jesus’ presence. He knows she’s been married and divorced five times. He knows she’s with a man now who’s not her husband. He knows everything she’s done and who she’s become, and still He offers her living water – to quench her thirst forever with eternal life. How can this be? His eyes are loving, not condemning. His invitation changes everything. Out of hiding, she runs back to her village. She confidently shouts for all to hear. “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Because of her words, “come and see” and Jesus’ presence in their village for two days, many Samaritans believed and received salvation from the Savior of the world. Heaven is more crowded because one shameful woman stood face to face with Jesus and encouraged others to do the same. Jesus was on a mission to do the His Father’s will; to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He traveled into enemy territory and stepped over many boundaries. And when He did, hatred became love, shame was washed away, and even gossipers gave God glory. Jesus perfectly modeled what it looks like to love our enemies. Our challenge is…will we follow His lead? **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others. I encourage you to read John 4:1-26 and see for yourself the transforming story of a shameful woman who encountered Jesus’ compelling love. 1. Who are the people in your life that are easy to love? Why so? 2. When it comes to loving those who are more difficult to love, in what ways can you follow Jesus’ lead, and even love your enemies? 3. Can you identify with the woman Jesus met at the well? When have you had a powerful encounter with God that changed your life? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World! Thank You for Being A Part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**

Quick to Judge?

October 24, 2019 • Laura Busse

**When they kept on questioning Jesus, He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7** How quickly do you jump to conclusions? Read through the following three scenarios and note your first thoughts: a) You see a co-worker flirting with her male boss. b) When you see your recently-divorced neighbor, she's driving a new car, wearing new clothes, and always seems to be moving new furniture into the house. c) A middle-aged friend keeps losing weight. All she talks about is her incredible personal trainer and her "fabulous" diet plan. If you read through these scenarios without judging any of the women, congratulations! You are a much better person than me. If, on the other hand, you'd feel embarrassed to share your insights out loud, welcome to the real world of judgment. Every day we are bombarded with judgmental looks and harsh comments. Sometimes we’re the ones giving them. Just this week, my dental hygienist said that even at my age I should consider getting braces. I told her no thanks, because people my age don’t really care about their looks anymore. We’re completely confident with our wrinkles, sags, and crooked teeth. (Ok, maybe not... but we're trying). God must laugh at us all the time. He’s not quick to judge, so why are we? Think of how Jesus responded when the woman caught in adultery was thrown at His feet. I’ve always pictured her wrapped in a white sheet, shivering cold, with shame written all over her face. There are three things we can learn from Jesus, then follow His example. #1. Jesus is compassionate. He knew both the woman and the man caught in adultery deserved death according to Jewish Law (Lev. 20:10). But standing face to face with Him, the woman received mercy, love, and compassion. He told the Teachers of the Law, the Pharisees, and the crowd around Him to throw the first stone if they were without sin. Jesus had compassion for every single person present. He came to save ALL people. Even the “righteous” needed a Savior. Jesus was willing to die for them too. #2. Jesus does not condemn. Jesus’ voice is calm and caring, not critical. Once the crowd dispersed, He asked the woman, “Has no one condemned you?” When she responded “No one, sir," Jesus declared, “Then neither do I condemn you.” Incredible! In one fell swoop she was saved from death, set free from wrath, and had a divine encounter with the Prince of Peace. For sure, she would never be the same. #3. Jesus calls for change. The final words Jesus spoke to the woman were, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” He was confident to call sin "sin," and He believed that she wasn’t too far gone to change. She was saved on purpose, for a purpose. What a wonderful faith story she now had to share with other wayward women. Her divine encounter gave her a divine calling. The same is true for you. You have been forgiven by God’s grace. You have been redeemed by Jesus’ blood. You are becoming more like Jesus through His Holy Spirit. It’s time to drop the rocks and stop judging yourself and others. No one is without sin, except the one who knows you fully and loves you completely. Instead of getting caught up in judgment, get caught up in Jesus’ mercy, love, and compassion. That’s where you belong. Keep your eyes fixed on your Savior, and you won’t be quick to judge. Close to Him, you’ll feel His compassion and be quick to pass it along. **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others. Please take a few minutes and read Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. 1. In what types of situations are you quick to judge others? Or when have you recently experienced judgmental eyes or words? 2. Step into the woman’s shoes. How would you have felt standing in front of the crowd? How about after everyone left and it was just you and Jesus? 3. If you were to follow Jesus’ lead and show compassion instead of judgment, who could benefit this week? What’s your plan of action? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World!** **Thank You for Being A Part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**

"Off Course" often gets us off course

October 17, 2019 • Laura Busse

**Jesus spoke to the people, He said, “I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12** Have you ever noticed that when you walk into a grocery store, the first things to catch your eye are the sales items?  Pineapples are ninety-nine cents each?  Chocolate brownies are half off!? Incredible! Before you've even looked at your grocery list, the pineapples and brownies have been dropped into your shopping cart. This happens to me all the time. Every day we are enticed to spend money, time, and effort  hundreds of different ways. Commercials constantly stream on your radio, TV, phone, and computer. We think we’re tuning all these distractions out, that they're  not moving us to action, but could their influence be greater than we realize? I believe it’s easy to fall asleep in our faith and be oblivious of who or what is actually enticing us and luring us away from Jesus’ light. Before we know it, we wake up and find ourselves surrounded by darkness. Play these scenarios out in your mind… How do you picture them ending? ·    A woman whose husband travels frequently misses him greatly. At night when her loneliness is painful, she jumps on Facebook to chat with an old boyfriend whose wife died recently. Their friendship is rekindled by supporting each other through their loss and pain. Of course they should stay at the same hotel for their high school reunion. ·    She’s been working so hard at her stressful job. The hours are long and draining.  At night she just wants to relax and unwind before bed. Of course a few glasses of wine will help her find peace and rest.  It works so well that wine becomes her new best friend. She invites co-workers to Happy Hours during the week, attends parties on the weekend, and keeps a few bottles in her trunk just in case. ·    Her New Year’s Resolution is to lose ten pounds, so she shops smart, eats healthy, and exercises daily. Just like that, ten pounds vanishes and the positive comments multiply. She looks in the mirror and targets another ten pounds to go. Of course she should ramp up her exercise and decrease her food intake to find greater success. Like magic, more weight loss! The voice in her head to lose more gets louder and louder. How do these stories unfold? I see tragic endings and the enemy rejoicing. All three scenarios had two key words, used to entice and lure her away; “of course”. That’s what the enemy does.  He takes our deepest desires, twists them with his lies, and lures us into his darkness.  But Jesus who is the Light of the World wants to shine His light into our lives and lead us into God’s truth.  ·    Jesus wants to comfort us when we’re lonely. The enemy tempts us to ruin relationships and destroy families. ·    Jesus wants us to find peace and rest in His presence. The enemy tempts us to tangle ourselves up in addictions. ·    Jesus wants us to find our true identity as His beloved. The enemy tempts us by telling us we’re not enough or worth unconditional love.  God promises that if we follow Jesus, we will not walk in darkness. Let God’s truths be a guiding light to your path. Step by step follow the Light of the World and you will shine bright, bringing great glory to God as you stay the course and resist the “of course” lies.  **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World!** **Thank You for Being a part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Movement**

Got Angst? Give Thanks!

October 10, 2019 • Laura Busse

**Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6** What usually happens when you allow your negative thoughts to cycle over and over again in your mind? Do they naturally work themselves out and leave you feeling better, or, like me, do they take over and become the only thing you can focus on? **Watch out! When toxic thoughts hijack our hearts, someone’s bound to get hurt.** It might be you who gets hurt when things like worry, insecurity, and fear spiral into anxiety. It’s well known that prolonged states of anxiety are linked to physical problems such as high blood pressure, headaches, irritable bowels, fatigue, and heart disease.1 Some of us are literally dying of worry. Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones who get hurt. Our anxious thoughts have a rippling effect and can impact the people around us. Just ask my husband, Dan about the time I snapped and completely lost my mind. When our kids were young, we barely had enough money to buy groceries. I took a part-time job caring for another little boy so his mother could work and we could keep the lights on. At the time, Dan was a medical resident. Hundred-hour workweeks were the norm, so my high hopes of family dinners and romantic walks never came to pass. One night Dan came home late...as usual. I was cleaning the kitchen for what felt like the fourteenth time that day. He informed me that it was our turn to host all the residents and their families at our house for dinner. It had slipped his mind, he said, and he was truly sorry for the late notice. But nevertheless, he added sheepishly, they’d all be coming over this Thursday night. I quickly counted. That was only two days away! I dropped my soapy sponge in the sink, spun around, and glared at him. Unfazed, Dan said, “Don’t freak out. I’ll order pizzas.” I quickly calculated the hours of cleaning required and the cost of pizzas for forty-some people. How could he be so oblivious? I didn’t have time to shower, let alone entertain like Martha Stewart. Didn’t he know we were broke? Like as in zip, nothing in the bank, with two more weeks until he got paid. Something snapped. I opened the cabinet next to me and saw our wedding dishes, layered with dust since we now mostly ate with plastic plates and cups. I reached up, grabbed a large round plate, and flung it like a frisbee at Dan’s head. I missed, so I reached back into the cabinet and, one by one, threw more plates across the kitchen. It was good for him that I stunk at Frisbee golf. He easily dodged the oncoming Pottery Barn missiles, scrambled out of the house, and went back to work unscathed. It was bad for me, though, since my tantrum left me with shards of glass all over the kitchen floor to clean up. Alone. Remembering that day, over eighteen years ago, I can still see myself sweeping the broken pieces of glass into a dust pan. Moments before, ten pretty plates had been stacked neatly on the shelf, symbolizing gifts given to us by loving people at our wedding. Moments after I snapped, broken pieces went into the trash, leaving only four plates left, not enough for a family of five we’d one day be. I think this is one reason God warns us to guard our hearts by reminding us that everything we do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23) Out of control thoughts impact our hearts, and out of our hearts, our actions flow. Think of a time when your anxious thoughts got the best of you. Maybe constant complaining turned into a full-blown fight. Or worry stole your sleep, leaving you irritable and miserable the next day. Or the possibility of “what could happen” paralyzed you from taking the next step of faith. Jesus is familiar with all of these scenarios (and more) that stop us from living a confident life with Him. Once while teaching in a remote area, His own disciples came to him worried about how large the crowd was, how little food they had, and how late it was becoming. They didn’t want the crowd to get “hangry” so they suggested Jesus send them away immediately. Jesus had other plans. He calmly asked them to bring Him what little food they had. He directed the entire crowd to sit down and wait. Then, taking the five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven, gave thanks to God, and placed the divided food in His disciple’s hands. The miracle of feeding 5,000 happened right in front of their anxious hearts and minds. Jesus’ way of dealing with anxiety is timeless and true. The next time anxious thoughts try to hijack your heart, stop and sit down. Then look up to heaven and give God thanks in prayer. Invite Him into the chaos or challenge you face. Ask for His power, provisions, and plans for your life. His Word reminds us to… not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil. 4:6) Jesus knew that anxious thoughts eventually hurt us and others. That’s why He modeled the way out. Let’s practice thanksgiving, one praise at a time. When we do, miracles are possible. And trust me, there will be fewer messes to clean up. **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others. Please take a few minutes and read Jesus’ Miracle of Feeding the Five Thousand in Mark 6:30-44 or in John 6:1-15. 1. If you were one of the disciples and Jesus told you to feed such a large crowd, how would you have responded? 2. When anxious thoughts crash into your heart, what’s usually your first response? 3. If you were to follow Jesus’ lead and combat anxious thoughts with thanksgiving to God, who would benefit and how so? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World! Thank You for Being A Part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**

Prone to Be Prodigals

October 3, 2019 • Laura Busse

**I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of angels of God over one sinner who repents. – Luke 15:10** I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lost sheep, coin, and son in Luke 15. Every time I read Jesus’ teachings, something new pops out at me. Today, God reminded me of a time in my life where I was indeed His prodigal daughter. And I reminded God, His sense of humor is hilarious. Flashback to thirty years ago, I was in college in Vermont, living at mock speed. I took more than a full course load, worked more than part-time, and juggled more and more responsibilities in my sorority and community. I’d fallen deep into the trap of “more is better.” I relied fully on my enthusiasm and high energy to get me through endless busy days. Looking back now, I see how I was running away from all the “D’s” in my life. • Death – My godly and loving grandfather had died of cancer. • Disappointment – My dad had lost his job again. • Devastation – My high school boyfriend had broken up with me. I was angry at God for taking my grandfather. He was too young and we still had trips planned. I was angry with him for not giving me the fairytale childhood I’d dreamed of. And I was angry at myself, for pushing my boyfriend to get married in college. I must have scared him off. Anger filled my tank, so I ran. I ran away from God and all the pain. Like the prodigal son, I ran toward fun and adventure, thinking I could numb the pain. I learned the hard way that running doesn’t solve our problems. Once I stopped running and looked around, I often found myself with even more problems. Like the time my sorority sisters knocked on my door and invited me to a late night fraternity party. I had just pulled out my suitcase to pack for the weekend. Early the next morning, I was flying to visit one of my high school friends in Virginia. It was their Homecoming Weekend, another fun distraction. As my sorority sisters pulled me out the door, I figured I’d pack later and get some sleep on the plane. So I tossed my suitcase onto the floor and headed out. The next thing I remember was a car horn blasting in the driveway. I jumped out of bed, ripped open the blinds, and saw my ride to the airport idling impatiently in the driveway. Trying not to wake my roommates, I left the lights off and fumbled in the dark, packing my suitcase and quickly dressing for the journey. When I arrived in Virginia, dazed and disheveled, my girlfriend took me straight to her dorm and pointed me to the showers. Back in her room, wrapped in a towel, she reminded me how they “dressed up in the South.” Fortunately, I’d planned for this and brought a couple of my best dresses. As I unzipped my suitcase and flipped the top open, I gasped in disbelief. Not only had I forgotten my dress, but I’d also forgotten underwear, pajamas, shorts, shirts, sweaters, pants, and socks. My entire suitcase was full of SHOES! Running shoes, high heels, flats… some didn’t even have a match. And, oh my gosh… I’d taken my roommates shoes too! There I stood in my girlfriend’s dorm room dripping wet, with only shoes to wear. I glanced at her closet and immediately knew we were in trouble, because she was a size 2. Up and down the hallway we asked for help. I’ll never forget the weekend, I dressed in borrowed clothes and looked like I was from the South. It reminds me of the prodigal son, when he found himself way outside of his comfort zone, in a place where he never should have never been. Every once in a while we all face the hard truth… it’s time to come to our senses. What’s amazing about God in the prodigal son parable is how He runs to welcome his wayward son once he comes home. He doesn’t shame, blame, or try to teach him a lesson. He simply loves His wayward child unconditionally. I wish I could tell you I came home to God after that crazy weekend in Virginia, but I didn’t. I laughed about all the shoes with friends back in Vermont. They weren’t really surprised by the mess I’d gotten myself into. They could see my life had been spiraling out of control. No, it would be another ten years before I finally “came to my senses” and returned home to God. Honestly, it wasn’t my plan to go back. But God, in His merciful and creative way, had a plan. He used a simple running watch with a 3:00 pm alarm to wake me up to how lost I’d become. One truth I’m convinced of.. we’re all prone to be prodigals, but God’s love and mercy never, ever gives up on us. No matter where you are: far from God, on your way home, or safe in His loving arms, remember, “There is rejoicing in the presence of angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Repenting is a simple U-Turn; admitting you’ve been on the wrong path and walking back to God. I hope you’ll check your mind, heart, body, and soul to see if something in your life is spiraling out of control. If so, turn right around today. Whatever shoes you’re wearing, start walking home. God is waiting with out-stretched arms, ready to welcome you home. **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others. Please take a few minutes and read the Prodigal Son’s story in Luke 15:11-32. 1. Why do you think we’re prone to be prodigals? What in our culture encourages us to walk about from God and our faith? 2. Think of a time when you walked far from God. How old were you? What was going on in your life at the time? Where did you go? 3. What truths about God did you learn living far from Him or once you returned home? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World!** **Thank You for Being a part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**

How often do we see ourselves from God's perspective? Over and over again, He calls us "His beloved.

September 26, 2019

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God. – Psalm 36:7 While shopping for basketball shorts with my daughter, I looked first at the price tags before presenting the different color and style options to her. After we had checked out with our sale items, she turned to me and said, “I hope one day I’m rich enough that I don’t have to look at price tags. Then I can just buy anything I want.” I was speechless (an infrequent event for my family). Since that day at the mall, I’ve been thinking a lot about price tags. Today, I was reminded of a Bible Study I taught many years ago on JOY. During the opening session, I asked the women to fill in the blank of this sentence with the first word that popped into their minds. You try it! I am _________________. What was the first word you thought of? Interestingly enough, when I asked the participants to anonymously write down their answer on a slip of paper and toss it in a basket, almost 90% of them wrote the same word. Any guess what it was? It was “Fat.” I understood, but was shocked. We weren’t at Weight Watchers, we were at church. Why weren’t their words Christian words like beloved, saved, comforted, helped, or joyful? One reason could be that all of us spend most of our waking hours being bombarded with messages to be someone or something we are not. Magazines airbrush skinny models. The fashion industry continues to shrink bathing suits and tank tops. And cosmetic surgery is on the rise, with Americans spending more than 13.5 billion dollars last year to reshape their bodies. Wow, that’s a huge price tag! I wonder what God thinks of all this? I’ll tell you what I finally told my daughter at lunch that day at the mall. While looking into her young eyes I said, “You are priceless to God”. How often do we see ourselves from God’s perspective? Like John, one of Jesus’ disciples and closest friends, we too should call ourselves beloved by Jesus. In the King James Version of the Bible, God’s refers to His children as “beloved” one hundred and six times. Over and over again, God calls you “His beloved.” You were bought at a price (1 Cor. 6:20). If God placed a price tag on you it would read: PRICELESS. The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World! Thank You for Being a part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Movement

You ARE Recognized

September 19, 2019

**Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:23-24** Last summer, while exploring downtown Breckenridge, CO with my husband, we wandered into a casual restaurant for dinner. Within seconds of being seated, our waitress, Jessica appeared. Smiling and joyful, she took our order and dashed away. While we waited, I kept catching Jessica out of the corner of my eye. First, I noticed her bounding up two flights of stairs carrying a tray loaded with enough food for a large family. Less than a minute later, she was scrubbing down the table in front of us, also making sure that the floor and window around it were sparkling clean. Next, she sped by with a tub full of dirty dishes, heading to the kitchen. Seconds later, she burst back out through the doors with her arms full of clean silverware for an entire section of the restaurant. My husband and I marveled at her incredible work ethic and stamina. We thought she must be a manager, or even an owner, to be working that hard with such attention to detail. Curiosity got the best of me. I had to find out where her motivation and drive came from. So when our dinners arrived, I blurted out, “Wow Jessica! You sure bust your butt around here. Are you a manager or an owner here?” Jessica stopped moving for the first time and laughed out loud. She answered by saying, “No I’ve worked here for nine years. See that woman at the front door? She’s the manager. She doesn’t even recognize all that I do around here.” Wow, Jessica’s blunt words struck a cord in my heart. I completely understood. How often do you feel the same way? You work your butt off taking care of kids and no one sees how hard it truly is? You clean the kitchen and empty the dishwasher AGAIN without a single thanks. You complete the same mundane tasks at work without ever receiving a nice compliment. You volunteer faithfully but wonder if your hours actually make a difference. I often find it frustrating! Rarely does anybody see all that we do to keep our boat afloat, the family fed, or our house functioning day after day? It’s true, no one sees all that we do, except the Lord. What if we stopped looking to others for recognition but instead looked to the Lord for affirmation? God sees you folding the laundry, cleaning the toilet, working diligently, and loving faithfully. He takes great delight in you and rejoices over you (Zephaniah 3:17). He cheers you on as you work every day. I recently learned that the average person works 90,000 hours during their lives. That’s a lot of hours! Way too many to complain or trudge through. What if you took the mundane work you do every day and invited God to join you? You could… • Pray for the people whose clothes you’re folding in the laundry room. • Listen to praise music while cleaning the bathroom or kitchen. • Leave Bible passages on sticky notes next to where pay the bills. • Talk to God before, during, and after all your meetings. • Ask God how He’d deal with the challenge, conflict, or crisis. Inviting God into our work can change the mundane into marvelous when we consider the author of our life and creator of the world truly cares about our hours and our days. It is possible to live out Colossians 3:17, Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Him. I want God to see me as I saw Jessica, our hard working waitress. She served faithfully for years with little to no praise. When she dropped off our check after dinner, I wrote her a big thank you note and left a nice tip. And before leaving the restaurant, I stopped at the manager’s station and praised Jessica’s excellent hospitality. Even if the manager doesn’t recognize Jessica as a gift, God certainly does. **3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES** Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others. 1. What do you like most about your work? What are you least favorite parts? 2. What changes when we see ourselves working for God and not others? 3. In what practical ways can you shift your focus and invite God into your daily work? **The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World!** **Thank You for Being a part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement**