Last weeks “Daily Encouragements” from Carole Carnie

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A Thankful Heart
A Thankful Heart
We Remember!
What You Have Done to the Least of These
He is the Reason
He Is!
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When You Find Your Calling! by Carole Carnie

I’m somewhat anxious regarding this blog, because I’m excited about what I’m about to share. I must be experiencing a slight rise in my blood pressure, because my heart is beating noticeably faster! Okay “self,” inhale, and exhale very slowly! Those of you who know me personally, are probably doubled over in laughter just about now, because you recognize those as the same words I have used on you when attempting to get you to calm down, and focus!

My recent blog was about the importance of knowing, embracing, and living “your calling!” Today’s discussion is, “when you find your calling!” As I’ve mentioned previously, JC and I are currently experiencing one of the most challenging times of our lives. With honesty I can say, under the circumstances we are adjusting well. The shock, pain, fear, and anger created by this situation,has been replaced with acceptance, self-confidence, courage, and excitement for our future possibilities. Accepting where you are in life, and allowing that acceptance to propel you toward your “purpose in life,” is crucial to your pursuit of finding “your purpose! As each day passes, I have found myself mourning my past less; which has allowed acceptance to set in, followed by me actually loving where God has me. And finally, I am able to say, “It is Well With My Soul!”

The main reason I’m able to accept where I am, and appreciate this “new life,” is because JC and I are not in this alone! I know that God is directing our path, and guiding our “foot steps!” However, this experience has challenged us both, and stretched us in a way that has moved us from “going through the motions” state of being, to “can’t hardly wait to see what’s next!” Many individuals get stuck in the “going through the motions” in life, because it’s comfortable, it’s easy, or they just can’t figure out what else to do!

A conscious decision was made not to discuss the details surrounding JC’s and my situation, because we believe by doing so, it may inadvertently minimize that God has “complete” control over our lives; and unintentionally convey that “man” has a greater influence in our lives. We are choosing to focus “internally,” not “externally,” which means we are choosing to stay God focused! My objective is to illustrate for you, through JC’s and my example, that there are positive ways to handle negative situations! My strength, “your strength” comes from the Lord, which dwells within us, “internally!” The external influences doesn’t, and shouldn’t carry more authority over our lives than the God we serve!

JC and I believe, that in order for us to remain worthy of God’s “calling” in our lives, we must strive to honor Him in all that we say, and all that we do! By not moving past the decision which was made, that gravely affected our lives, we believe that we would have declared ourselves victims in this story! We prefer to be the “authors” of our lives, by having the courage to write our own story, which means living our purpose. We choose to empower ourselves, by not allowing a decision made on our behalf to discourage us from pursuing God’s mission for our lives, “ministry.”  We choose to be “victorious!”

When God Works On Your Heart!

You know when God is working in your life, and when He is working on your heart, because you are able to shift your complete focus on Him! All that matters to you, is “finding your calling!” You know that God is the answer to you finding it, so your eyes are fixed on Him!  Remember, what man may, or may not value, is what God cherishes the most; because He created “all man” for His glory!

Hit Over The Head With a Brick:

On August 6th, JC and I attended the “Global Leadership Summit, hosted by Bill Hybels, Founder and Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church. We always enjoy attending these leadership summits, but even more so this year, because JC and I both were eagerly seeking God’s direction for our lives, and we were not disappointed! There were several speakers that resonated with me, and at times I felt that they were hitting me over the head with “bricks” supplied by God! What was said, was bypassing my ears, and going straight to my heart. Only God could have orchestrated that!

Confirmation #1

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At one point during the summit, Bill Hybels made the comment, “love never fails people, it changes people!” That statement pierced my heart, so that I’m sure the people sitting closest to me must have heard me gasp!  Quickly regaining my composure, I wrote what he said in my notes, along with this response; ” our ministry may not have begun out of what felt like love, but God took the mess which was caused in our lives, healed our brokenness, and gently loved us to “Him!” He is now orchestrating our “purpose,” the purpose He intended all along. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Confirmation #2

I believe another speaker God used to confirm that we were headed in the right direction was Ed Catmull, Co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, which was eventually purchased by Walt Disney Studios. Interesting enough, as successful as Ed Catmull has become, he admitted that in the beginning of starting Pixar, he had to, in his words “wing it,” because there was no training at that time available for what he was doing. So, he became “self-trained!” One of Bill Hybel’s sayings is, “figure it out!” Ed figured it out!

JC and I are presently in a situation whereby we must figure it out. We have no idea what Carole Carnie Ministries (CCM) is going to look like at completion, nor do we have any clue regarding all that will be required of us. Most times, we look at each other in total amazement at what we are able to accomplish with just pure determination, natural instinct, a passion for what we are doing, and of course our God-given gifts. The key to the success of this ministry, is knowing that we must continue to follow God!

Confirmation #3

On August 7th,  JC attended a “Social Networking” seminar conducted by “National Seminars Training,” (NAST). JC was so excited about the information he was receiving during the class, that he texted me throughout the entire session. At lunch our conversation was about what we are doing correctly in building this ministry, which according to the information he received, we are on point. The session also helped us to identify the areas which needed improvement.

Figuring it Out!

Operating purely on instinct, passion, and God-given skills, has benefited us cconcerning our laying the foundation for the ministry. Because of the training session, JC realized we were currently doing what was necessary to maximize the success opportunities for CCM. The instructor identified what areas needed our concentration, and JC went into immediate action. I’m certain that as quickly as the instructor got the information out of his mouth, JC was putting it into action. Those of you who follow CCM witnessed firsthand what I am talking about. For example, he was told that he needed to increase his subscribers, and while still in class JC sent out a message indicating that for those who had not already subscribed to our Youtube channel, to do so.

That’s just one example of JC’s passion for this ministry! Passion is a sure way to determine if you are living your “calling.”  JC and I, are both “passionate” about the present direction of our lives! For us, there are many indicators that we are on the correct path. I suspect that someone reading this blog is connecting with what is being said. What I say next is meant specifically for you!  Know that if you concentrate on figuring out what you are passionate about, that information will assist you in eventually pin pointing your gifts. You must determine what you do exceptionally well, and once you determine that, it will put you on the path to eventually identifying  your “calling.”  Believe in yourself, trust in yourself, “more than you value or trust the opinion of others.” Know that your future awaits you, bigger and better than you could ever imagine. You don’t know, what you don’t know, but God knows! Follow Him, and He will lead you to your calling!

Conviction!

The final stage of this journey, is  that when you find your calling, you will live it with conviction! You will absolutely have no doubt that this is what you were created to do! Then you will experience a “peace deep within yourself” that passes all understanding! Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. You will no longer concern yourself with what others think, or say! It becomes all about pleasing God, all about honoring and glorifying Him with your gifts! Then you will live with conviction, knowing you have found your calling! Be blessed, “your calling awaits you!”

From My Heart to Your Heart!

Carole Carnie

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Carole Carnie “From My Heart to Your Heart” episode #6: When You Find Your Calling.

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How To Find Peace In Your Life: by Carole Carnie

How do you find peace in your life, when all around you is like a “raging sea?”

Metaphorically speaking of course, I am still reeling from the “raging sea” experience currently occurring in my life. At times I feel as though my emotions are being tossed around like a “rogue” wave! However, right in the middle of the “storm”, God revealed to me individuals who are going through life altering situations, they are going through major issues which is proving to challenge their endurance, long suffering, trust, and faith in God!

What Does the Bible Say About Weathering the Storms In Our Lives?

Being patient and persevering through the “storms” in our lives is paramount! We must endure these challenges as disciplined athletes! Athletes strengthen their bodies, and increase their endurance through training. We must strengthen our faith, and trust in God through “spiritual” training! When faced with hardships I encourage you to pray, study the word of God, and fellowship with others; “I consider this as a form of spiritual training!”

In Timothy 1:8  We see that Paul considers Timothy his “spiritual son” by referring to him as, “his beloved child.” However, Paul is encouraging Timothy to embrace hardship for the sake of the gospel. He says, “therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor be a prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God. What grabs my attention in this verse, is that Paul tells Timothy that he would need the power of God to endure his suffering. Are you able to trust God in your suffering?

In Timothy 1: 15  Timothy was under pressure to compromise the gospel, he did not like conflict or controversy, and because of this people were turning against him, and abandoning the gospel. 1:15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.  

One thing I know for sure, is that when I focus on serving God, and I don’t loose sight of my purpose in life, “which is ministry,” I am able to weather all storms! If it is true like with Timothy, that we can turn people away from God by handling our hardships badly, then the opposite is true, that we can draw people to God by handling our hardships well.

Barb’s Raging Sea!

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The changes in these two women’s lives, a mother and daughter; definitely caused a “raging sea” experience for the daughter! Their story is, Barb, the daughter lives in California, and her mother, Carol resides in their home state. During their regular conversations, Barb noticed what seemed obvious to her, (but not to the attending doctors) some changes in her mom’s speech, it seemed slurred. When she encouraged her mom to get the opinion of a doctor, she did! However, she was told that her medication was most likely causing the problems. Feeling convinced that she needed to relocate back to her home state to care for her aging mom, Barb did just that! Being home for only a few months, she began to second guess her decision; primarily because the move
was not as she’d hoped, or planned. She adores her mom, so being her caretaker was not the issue. However, the job she had accepted was a major source of her frustration, it was not as expected. Additionally, she was mourning the lose of her independence, and privacy.

Recently, her mom fainted! The doctors said it was due to over exertion, and dehydration. About a week later she experienced another occurrence of fainting. Test were ran to determine the cause of her fainting, and it was concluded that she was experiencing mini strokes! God’s hand is clearly seen in this situation. The power of love, driving this daughter to give up so much, “in order give so much!”

DNae’s Raging Sea!

DNae is a young mother who contacted me expressing fear around her recent decision to relocate out of California, to be near her son who is scheduled to start college soon. Much of her “fear” was stemming from her not yet having a secured place to live, nor had she secured employment. She was now questioning if she had heard God correctly! We first identified where her fear was coming from, and then addressed those issues. We then talked about trusting God, and having “faith” that God would never leave or forsake her. Nahum 1: 7 “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble: and He knows those that trust in Him.” We then discussed faith, what it means, and what does it look like when we exercise it in our lives. Because everything was not in place before her move, DNae replaced her trust in God with fear, instead of with ‘her” faith. Living in faith is just that, wanting or hoping for something, but not knowing how it will occur; however you still follow your aspirations even when you don’t know the outcome. That’s faith in action!

I have learned from my own personal experiences, to seek God for calming my fear, anxiety, and to stay in His presence by reading His wIMG_0605ord in order to receive clarity on how to respond, or even if I should respond. Sometimes a situation may require that you ” just wait and be still.” In my stillness it is essential to stay there until my thoughts, words, and actions align with God’s truth. When you know the word of God, it’s important that when your emotions are controlling you, that you stay the course of waiting until your actions are in alignment with the principles of God! That is how you find peace in the mist of the storm!

For me, doing God’s work allows me to weather any storm! Identify what drives you in life, what brings you the greatest joy, and what is your passion: do those things while the sea of life is raging all around you, and it will serve as your “lifeline” until the seas cease!

From My Heart to Your Hear

Carole Carnie

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When God Has A Calling On Your Life: by Carole Carnie

As I blog,When God Has  A calling On Your Life,” my approach is from the position that there are some readers who may not know what is meant by having a “calling” on your life! For those who understand this concept, “hang in there with me,” I ‘m confident that you will obtain something which may give you a greater understanding of the importance of following “your calling!” With each blog, my objective is for every reader to be inspired, no matter where they are spiritually! My target in terms of this blog, are those who are seeking, (looking to become Christ-centered) those who are grounded and spiritually strong, (mature Christ-centered individuals) and all those who fall in between those two categories. I hope every single reader receives some degree of insight regarding the significance of identifying, embracing, and having the conviction to live their “calling.” Yes, it will take conviction! If you have not already experienced this, “trust me you will.” There will come a time when someone in your church, or on your job, will need a particular job done; and they will not only ask you, but attempt to convince you, that you are the best individual for the job. Now, you know full good and well, that this is not an area that you are particularly good at, and you are not even sure that you want to do the job. So, you hesitate before responding. In that instant, “stop,” and step away from the situation before you make any decision. For those of us who seek God when making decisions, do so! For those who prefer to evaluate their decisions from a different perspective,do so! When you are doing what you were created to do, there will be passion, not hesitation! Your hesitation is a “BIG” indication that you may be following man, and not God! Stay convicted to what you know is your truth. “Have unwavering courage!”

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When you live the life you were created to live, you are fulfilling God’s plan for your life. In other words, “you are living the calling on your life.” You may be asking yourself, how will I know what is God’s plan for my life? One sure way to determine “His” plan for your life, is to examine the skills you are blessed with. That would be those things which you excel at, those things which you are exceedingly good at, and those things which you are passionate about. We were all created for God’s glory, so when you are living according to His plan, you are glorifying Him according to “His” will. You are able to give Him your best, because He has equipped you to do so, by blessing you with a gift.

The Bible tells us that our purpose in life is to glorify God, and to enjoy fellowship with Him! How do we enjoy God? We enjoy God by following Him, and by having an intimate relationship with Him! Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, discovered the futility of life when it is lived for this world, and not for God! Knowing, and living your “calling,” is living for God! When you are not living God’s calling for your life, you may be running the risk of living for the world! In Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Solomon shares this with us, “he says that life is all about honoring God with our thoughts, our lives, and by keeping “His” commandments. Part of our purpose in life is to obey God! Living your “calling” is obeying God’s will for your life. I hope this is causing you to seriously think about the importance of seeking God’s plan for your life.

By sharing this next Bible story, I hope it will exemplify for you, that not only does God give us gifts, but when we use “our,” gifts, it allows us to work together in unity! When Israel was delivered from bondage, it is recorded that one of the first things they did was to erect a tabernacle, (a place of worship) so that they could fellowship with God! In Exodus 35: 30-35, Moses is speaking to Israel about specific men, and the skills they were given by God to use for His glory.

Exodus 35: 30 -35    Construction of the Tabernacle:

30. “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31. and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32. to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33. in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver – by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

Exodus 35: 21 Contribution to the Tabernacle:

Allow me to take you back before the construction of the Tabernacle, when Moses spoke to the people about their contributions for the Tabernacle. He described what was needed, and then he instructed the people to go and determine what they were most skilled at; this sounds like Moses was telling them to go and identify their gifts, so that they could bring their best offering for the building of God’s Tabernacle (church).

In Exodus 21, it tells us that the people came back with their hearts stirred, and their spirit moved, and brought to the Lord, their contribution to be used for the meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. This sounds like the people had “passion” for the service they were providing for the church!

Just like the church of old, the church of today is best served when everyone uses their God give gifts to serve Him. When we do not serve in the areas that we are gifted in, I refer to this as “force fitting,” meaning that you have chosen to serve, or work in an area that God did not equip you to do. When this is done, you are not glorifying Him according to His will, you are exercising your will over God’s!

Closing Thought: God’s people deserve the best that God has to offer, you deserve to be the best that God created you to be, and God deserves to be represented by His best. “I hope we have had a heart connection!”

From My Heart to Your Heart,

Carole Carnie

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Ministry vs Entertainment: by Carole Carnie

When is music in the church considered entertainment, or ministry? I’m attempting to tackle this controversial issue, because it’s a dispute that many musicians, and “worship leaders” face as they serve their churches each week with dedication, with their hearts, and with their “God-given” skills.” Imagine with me if you will, that the skills you “know” God has blessed you with, to serve Him is constantly under scrutiny; and its significance to the church is continually questioned! Then add to that, your heart for ministry being challenged by those asking,”is what you do entertaining, or ministry?”
Now, as you read this blog, attempt to empathize with the musicians, and the worship leaders by placing yourselves, and your skills at the center of this debate!

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I’ve always been a curious individual! My curiosity is stimulated by my love of life, and people! Developing healthy relationships is extremely important to me; healthy relationships fuel my desire to understand why people act, do, or say what they say! By having a better understanding of people, you are able to cultivate better relationships. By investing in good relationships, essentially you are investing in your own happiness. Studies have shown that when we have good relationships, we are happier, healthier, and are our most productive selves! Of course, the added bonus is that our churches, and communities benefit from the building of good,and healthy relationships.

I’m forever looking for the back story in all situations, more often than not, thi
s is where the “real truth” lies. Having a curious nature has helped me to see past the smokescreens people often put up in order to conceal what their real issues are. My past experience as a Senior Compliance Officer at a major bank has served me well. My training to look for, audit, and ensure that the Bank did not violate customer’s, or employee’s rights by treating them despairingly, supported my love for fairness, and diversity.””This is who I am, not what I do.” I shared this information about myself, with hopes that you would have a better understanding of the individual who is writing this blog.

This controversy over music in the church has been on going for many years. This issue is divisive, and will continue to be so until God’s people realizes, “enough is enough!”  It’s erosive, and tears at the very heart of God’s principle found in John 13:35, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”This “divide and conquer strategy” presently existing in our churches, continue to prevent unity among the congregation! The issue whether music is entertainment, or ministry may also violate another principle of God, and that is “not to judge!” The judgement of others is “spiritual malpractice,” because God  admonishes us against judging one another. However, as we continue the battle over this issue, our attention is diverted from what is known as, the “Great Commission,” which is making disciples of man, found in “Matthew 28:19-20 As our American churches continue to decline in growth, I pray that God’s people will wake up and realize that while we are fighting amongst ourselves, people’s very salvation is at stake!

This is such a complex issue with many contributing factors, such as our cultural backgrounds; and even within the same cultures there are different musical preferences. You can break down likes, and dislikes even further in the same culture when you take age into account; different age groups are drawn to different musical styles. Now add to that where an individual is raised, and that will also play a part in what kind of music is preferred. I hope you are beginning to grasp the complexity of the question regarding music in the church. We haven’t even discussed the fact that some individuals are more expressive than others. Case and point, I express passion in everything I do in life, especially when it comes to music. Come to our church on any given Sunday and I’m the one moving the most. And then there is JC, his approach to life is calm, cool, and reserved. I’m sure there are many more contributing factors, “which I know I’m not aware of,” which contributes to forming our preferences to certain styles of music; however I hope you are now beginning to understand why this issue may not be just about
music alone. I’m sure there are many more contributing factors to why we are drawn to certain music, however I hope you understand why I believe the issue of music may not be about music alone. What further complicates this issue, is when a church is striving toward congregational diversity, the issues become even more passionate, and complexed!.

I personally believe that there is oftentimes a “back story” when discussing music in the church. By this I mean, there may be something not being said that has nothing at all to do with music.The conversation surrounding the topic of music may be a smokescreen to cover what really needs to be discussed! That could be the style of music, how the music is being presented, is the music being expressed too passionately or not, and is it causing too much response from the congregation? And in some instances, the issue may be “who” is leading the music.

Painting by J. Carnie.
“Worship” Painting by J. Carnie.

In an attempt to remove this elephant out of our sanctuaries, (entertainment vs. ministry) one thing that I know for sure, is that this potentially explosive issue which has been simmering for years, has to stop if churches are to expect any future growth.Statistics show that our American churches are on the decline! I encourage you to consider this, “it can be disheartening” for any musician to have their God-given skill, which was given to them by God to glorify Him, (not man) to come under such fire within the church; by questioning its praise worthiness to God! The church should be a place that is nurturing and loving to all. It’s dangerous to think that anyone can look at what’s being offered up to God as praise, (music) and determine the sincerity of the deliverer. I’m going out on the limb by asking, why do we consider it acceptable to question the gifts of our “worship leaders,” however we would never dare to label the pastor’s gifts as “motivational speaking.” For some, I know this comment may sting, but allow me to assure you that each time this debate takes place about our “worship leaders,” and the musicians who tirelessly serve our congregations weekly, they are feeling the sting of their offering to God being misunderstood.

The definition of ministry is, any service which is done for a religious purpose. Now, if the worship leader was not singing for the purpose of glorifying God, it would be safe to say he/she is an entertainer. Follow me, if a pastor is not speaking for the purpose of God, he/she would be a motivational speaker. My question to you is, why can’t music be both entertaining, and ministry, with neither devaluing the other? We all know pastors’ who deliver the message with passion, and yes they are entertaining, but does that somehow take away from the fact that they are ministering the “word” of God, for God, to the people of God? And to those who may be driving the conversation regarding music in the church, I am curious know, by what criteria are you using to derive at your conclusion? Especially when we know that God looks at the heart, and man looks outwardly. As established earlier, our preference to music is a complex issue with many contributing factors.

Recently, an article was published where a member of a church was requesting advice from Billy Graham about the musical styles in her church. She was complaining about the contemporary music in the church, and went on to say that she preferred hymns. This is a condensed version of his response, “we have a singing faith, and God has given us the gift of music to praise Him.(Psalm 63:5) He urged the writer to ask God to help her to be grateful for all music that points us to God, new or old. He further said, while you may not like the music, others may, and God can use it in their live to encourage them and bring them closer to Christ.”

Musical Trivia: Until the last 1800’s, the organ was the church’s primary instrument, and the piano was considered a secular instrument, unfit for church.

 

From My Heart to Your Heart,

Carole Carnie

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