Dear Network TwentyOne Family

It has been my privilege over the years to have many wonderful assignments on behalf of Network TwentyOne and our founders, Jim and Nancy Dornan. But today’s task is not one of them. It is my sad duty to inform you that yesterday at about 2:00 PM after a long and heroic battle with cancer, Jim Dornan has passed from this world. His death, as with many great people, was an illustration of his life. Though weakened in body, his faith in God was never stronger, his belief in others was never bolder, and his hope for a better tomorrow was never brighter. As Jim completed his journey of life today he did so with the love of his family around him and the prayers of thousands of friends around the world. And those of us who knew him well, we are comforted in knowing that Jim has never been more healthy, whole, and content than he is now with his Lord in Heaven.

Thank you for being such an amazing group of friends for the Dornans. Your loving words and faithful prayers have been the food that nourished Jim and Nancy when their souls were most hungry for encouragement. They always knew they had great friends and partners in each of you… but this struggle showed all of us that Network TwentyOne is truly a global family.

When the plans are complete we will pass along the details of Jim’s memorial services as well as suggestions about how you can honor Jim should you choose to. But in the meantime I want to ask you for two favors. As you might imagine Jim’s passing is overwhelmingly painful for the Dornan family and especially for Nancy. Would you please ask the Lord to give the Dornan family a very special grace to bear these difficult days?

Additionally, would you honor Jim by continuing to reach for the dreams he inspired each of us to pursue? The last thing Jim would ever want is for anything about him to distract us from where we need to be going in life. Jim has taken great pains to make sure that the organizations he led were strong and growing. He has built great leaders in the Amway business and hired outstanding people in Network TwentyOne. In every way Jim has, as he always advised, “Dug his well before he needed the water.” He would want us all to keep digging and to keep reaching for the best in life.

Thank you again for the unbelievable support you have given Jim and Nancy now and in the future. I am proud to know you and have never been more grateful for our friendship and partnership. Thanks again and God Bless!

Sincerely,

Jeff Neuber,
CEO, Network TwentyOne International

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An Update from Nancy

Hello My Dear Friends,

It has been so long since our last post and I’m sure that many of you have had some questions about how Jim is doing. For some of you this blog has been the only place where you could find any updates. I am so sorry it has taken so long—- we have been praying for wisdom and guidance from the Lord as we do battle on Jim’s behalf. Finding the right words to convey what is happening and the right timing has been difficult. We kept waiting for more clarity. We are praying daily and standing on God’s promises. As believers, we know that our God is able- we know that He has the power to heal at any moment. We await His touch.

We trust the Lord and His love for us regardless of the outcome. Like so many circumstances with regard to life and illness- it looks hopeless in the natural, but we look to the giver of life.

There are many scriptures speaking of God’s promises and His desire to heal us! Below are just a few:

Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen!”

Mark 11:24- I say unto you, what things so ever ye desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and ye shall have them.

Psalm 107: 20- He sent His Word, healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

Luke 1:37- For with God nothing shall be impossible!

Matthew 17:20- He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “move from here to there” and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.

We have been extremely blessed during the last 2.5 years since Jim’s diagnosis. The Lord has put countless prayer warriors in our life. You are an essential part of our journey and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We could not do or function with joy, as we have, without all of you and your prayers.

Jim also has had the absolute devotion of people that are here daily assisting with his care. “Team Jim” as we call it. Our close friend and doctor in Atlanta referred us to a wonderful nurse who is a believer. Susie not only administers IVs to Jim daily, but she prays over him and intercedes on his behalf! She also has organized a group of prayer warriors that have come and prayed over Jim and our family. Our precious masseuse, Anna, does daily lymphatic massage for 1.5 to 2.5 hours to sooth his body and move the lymph. She does a facial two times a week and scalp massage- how blessed is that. Ampi Ruelas brings her sweet kids, organizes conference calls and prays endlessly. Dave Ruelas has been a godsend as well- doing whatever, including Jim’s care, and a thousand other things every day- too many to name! Jim is a loving second father to both Dave and Ampi.

Two months ago my brother Chuck moved into our home and has stayed every night sleeping by Jim’s side so I can sleep upstairs. How can I be so blessed?! Rebecca, who many have met, has been our housekeeper and run my house for 25 years. She loves Jim beyond words and would do anything for him- and has. He need only ask!

Also starring on Team Jim, is Kevin- our personal chef. He has been a gift- traveling to Houston for 10 weeks, last year, with short trips home to see his sweet family! He prepared organic food, shopped, brought meals to us at the hospital where Jim got chemo, ran errands- did whatever- whenever. In Atlanta, he keeps everyone fed and manages the home- all without complaint!

I could not list our blessings without highlighting Jim’s N21 team- headed by Jeff and Shannon Neuber and their family and our “unmatched” staff her in Atlanta and those around the world.

Jeff has been the “glue” between Jim and the N21 responsibilities during this season and for 20 years. No one could have a better friend- actually son-like, than Jeff Neuber. They love and trust each other- and God provided long before we knew we would need it. Shannon has been a gift beyond- equipping and leading the events and support staff since the beginning- another gift from the Lord that no one can ever fully deserve!

Renee Merris was our first real staff, almost 30 years ago in California, and she has walked the “early road” with the love of the Lord and a complete love and trust in Jim’s leadership. We have shared and done life together all of that time.

I could write pages about the incredible friends and staff worldwide that run Network21 and serve you and us, in all ways needed. No company could have better friends for the “long haul” that Jim and I and our family. We are all in good hands.

Our kids- Heather, Eric, Abbie, Dave and Jules have filled in every other gap- entertaining him, sitting with him, praying over him, reading scripture, interceding, making tons of calls to doctors and doing research on any new symptom and solution. Thank you Heather and Dave!

Heather comes first thing in the morning and reads scripture and is on a first name bases (not always positive) at the hospital, in radiology impatiently waiting to pick up reports and with the oncologist here and the doctors at MD Anderson. Heather’s daughter, Ashley-Kate, was the bright star in our lives for years before the others were born. Jim is a devoted “Papa” and “spoiled her” thoroughly. They logged lots of time, stories, and golf. He still has a smile for her and the other little ones when they come.

Jules shows up daily to pray over him, kiss him, groom him, and writes countless messages on the white board for him to read. She often brings the girls to see “Papa” and give him tons of their kisses. Dave comes in between meetings and late at night and early in the morning showering love on his “hero”- what father could be more blessed. Eric and Abbie come- pray- read scripture and sometimes sing to him. Eric says it’s my pleasure as he spent countless days and nights at the hospital with me in the early years.

This business has allowed us so many resources- the financial is huge, but the most valuable by far- the people!! Who could have imagined that when we started our business so long ago that the greatest value would come in the form of people’s love and prayer support. Would that we could thank each of you personally.

How can we fully appreciate or thank all of you for everything you have done and continue to do? Countless people and their prayers, fasting, the books, the contacts, medical information and surgeons and doctors that called offering advice or help. We got prayer blankets, cards, flowers, gifts for the grandkids- on and on. No one could be more blessed.

When doubt and fear crept in, God would prompt one or more of you to send a message of encouragement or a prayer that had just the right message at the right times.

For me personally, I could not do this without you! This has been the most difficult test of my life. You are lifeblood to me with your encouragement. There are so many women that have been in my situation but with a completely different experience. I have never felt alone or without support on this journey. For that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I’ll continue to keep all of you updated as we walk this season. We continue to pray and expect a great future. We know that God is at work. We believe great things are in store in our business and the incredible community of Network21 worldwide.

I know many of you are about to attend our DRIVE conference in California. It will be an unforgettable time of vision and fun for every single leader. It will be a time of refreshment and learning from the best in our “world”! John Maxwell will be there to add an incredible wow factor- as only John can. He is sought after worldwide, but his heart was captured by Network21 and all that it stands for. He loves us and he loves you!

Jim would want to be at Drive for more reasons than we can list, but neither he nor I will join you this time, but with God’s miraculous touch Jim will in the future.

Thank you for the continued prayers!

Nancy

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We Are Experiencing Winter… But Spring Is Coming!’

Greetings dear ones. Wow!!! have I been absent from the updates to all. So sorry if you are one of the special people who only are able to hear updates on this blog. My “bad” for sure. I will try hard to do better. These past weeks, I have been “attacked” in such a surreal way that I have found it difficult to know when to “break in” for an update without feeling we had a moving target which was obsolete while being written. Maybe in ways that is still the case… but we must stay connected. Without bringing you all up to speed on the day by day issues, you know that we have once again been attacked by unforeseen forces and continue to pray and seek God’s wisdom in each Decision.

Without too much detail, we have been hit with the discovery of pulmonary embolisms and blood clots on the legs and lungs. We are attacking with God’s promises as well as installing a “dam” to keep them from moving up to lungs and heart etc. Scary, but now controlled we believe with other blood thinners and meds we will be getting through that one. Lots of pain though in my legs and your prayers are welcome as we attempt to block pain with stronger meds so we can focus on healing and movement….I need to get up and around more to avoid the problem getting worse from doing nothing. Catch 22.

Quick Game with Ray Keller

Monday I have another PET scan to see if there is something we don’t know pressing on some nerves. God knows and He always has a plan. Meantime, I am focusing on what my “job” is. To speak what I want, not what I see or feel. To stand firmly on all his promises and doubt not. To continue to rest and seek His guidance on my role as His child and not always as His “leader” (not easy after 40 years of dysfunctional belief that people like me are expected to be examples and not just passive participants in life as it hits us).

We have a God who cares and who wants a relationship with us… this I am learning is beyond his desire for us to be productive or carry too much responsibility instead of learning to be his child and influence others through our obedience, and our faith, and our peace. Quite a lesson as we move along. I am learning and growing and I sense many of you are as well.

Our business teaches us so much about life, and ambition, and leadership principles, and the whole world of success and achievement principles, and it is all good and needed for sure. We will continue to lead the way as we learn more about faith’s role… and the great and key role that our knowledge of God’s priorities remain forefront. We are excited to be able to make this journey of discovery with you.

Fear not… our business can and will become stronger, while our satisfaction and sense of purpose become deeper. What a privilege.

I read this entry the other day and it was a great reminder to me of the balance needed to be a leader for God’s purposes, as well as our own ambitions and desires (and that we never let our own crowd out what God has said and promised). Let’s see what you think:

Well, kinda thought-provoking but certainly relevant to me these days.

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are.”
Ephesians 1:11

“Where can you find happiness?

  1. Not in money. When dying, Jay Gould, the American multimillionaire, said, “I am the most miserable man on earth.”
  2. Not in military glory. Alexander the Great conquered the world. Having done so, he wept in his tent, saying, “There are no more worlds to conquer.” So where can happiness be found? In Christ alone! “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10 NIV).

There’s a jellyfish that loves to swallow a certain snail because it tastes delicious. The problem is, the snail has a hard shell and the jellyfish can’t digest it. So the snail keeps growing, and begins to eat away at the jellyfish. By the time the snail is fully grown it has consumed the entire jellyfish. In life, a lot of the things we desire, pursue, and think will be good for us actually end up consuming us—things like materialism, position and achievement.

Don’t end your life feeling empty, having your insides eaten away by a quest for things that can’t make you happy. God has a wonderful plan for your life (See Jeremiah  29:11). Spend time with Him today and let Him tell you about it.”

Here are a few other thoughts I feel worth sharing. Hope you don’t mind….they lift me up!

FINDING PURPOSE

Humans have an innate and deep desire to know they are fulfilling their purpose. This is why there are a plethora of books on the market dedicated to helping people understand why they are here. There are times during a trip to Barnes and Noble that I come across one of these reads.

As I flip through the pages, I am sometimes saddened because the author’s focus is on being your own god, making your plans, trying harder, and believing for bigger success. The author doesn’t tell the reader that accomplishing any purpose apart from one’s Creator doesn’t lead to fulfillment. In fact, there is no way to fulfill your purpose apart from a genuine relationship with Christ and be free.

In a powerful message, author and speaker Dudley Hall explains what happens to us when we disconnect from Christ and try to accomplish our purpose, and live our lives, apart from Him.

“The orphan mentality is a striving mentality. Because when you are conscious that you are separate from the Father’s love, then you start taking on responsibilities of the Father, like, “Well, I gotta take care of my provision.” So worry becomes a part of the deal. Then you gotta take care of your protection, so fear becomes a part of your experience. And you gotta take care of your promotion; that is your significance. So pride and selfish ambition become a part of your experience.

So now you have these things driving you, and one of the differences between a son and an orphan is being driven by internal things to meet these needs, whereas a son [or daughter] is free to follow. To respond to the Father.

This is the fruit of not living in relationship with Christ, of not following Him in your purpose: striving, worry, fear, pride, and selfish ambition. But the sons and daughters of God who let Him lead them in their purposes, are free to follow in peace. These are the ones who experience fulfillment and joy.”

Are you allowing God to lead you in His purpose for your life? I encourage you to turn to your Father today and let Him guide you..

A bit more…

“My life is worth nothing…unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord.”
Ac 20:24 NLT

Some of Our European Leaders Hard at Work in Moscow with Hans Nusshold

There’s an old saying: “If you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s not quite true. Most people work hard. But even when they love their job they still have to do things they don’t like to do. They give effort above and beyond what’s comfortable. It’s probably more accurate to say that if you’re doing something you believe in, the hard work you do will bring you deep satisfaction. Novelist Ursula K. Le Guin stated, “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Some folks suffer from “destination disease.” They think that arriving at a certain place in life will bring them happiness. What a shame. Because the reality is that many times when we arrive, we discover that it wasn’t what we expected. If you become fixated on a destination you can miss the great things that happen along the way. You miss the joy of today.

Dave & Jules with John Maxwell

If you’re convinced that “someday” is going to be your best day, you won’t put enough into today—or get enough out of it. If you’re not doing something significant with your life, it doesn’t matter how long it is. It’s not enough just to survive, you need a reason to live. This is where Christ comes in: He will give you new life, and add purpose to your life—plus the power to fulfill that purpose. D. L. Moody once said, “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.”

How about this?? Some notable folks from history on our beliefs:

William Gladstone, prime minister of England: “There is but one question of the hour: How to bring the truths of God’s Word into vital contact with the minds and hearts of all classes of people.”

President Ulysses S. Grant: “Hold fast to the Bible as the anchor of your liberties. Write its precepts on your heart and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for the progress made, and to this we must look as our guide in the future.”

President Woodrow Wilson: “A man has deprived himself of the best there is in the world, who has deprived himself of this: knowledge of the Bible. When you have read the Bible you will know that it is the Word of God because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty.”

President Abraham Lincoln: “I have only to say that it is the best gift God has given to man. Like the law of gravity, the Bible will never become redundant.”

Napoleon: “What happiness the Bible procures for those who believe it! What marvels it bestows upon those who reflect upon it!”

Daniel Webster: “There is no solid basis for civilization but in the Word of God. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will continue to prosper. I make it a practice to read the Bible through once every year.”

William Lyon Phelps (once referred to as the most beloved professor in America—of Yale University): “I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women, but I believe knowledge of the Bible without a college course, is more valuable than a college course without knowledge of the Bible.”

Sir William Jones: “The Bible contains more pure sensibility, more exquisite beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence than can be collected from all other books in whatever age or language they may be written.”

Robert E. Lee: “The Bible is a book, in comparison with which all other books are of minor importance. In all my perplexities and distress, the Bible has never failed to give me light.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Mt 24:35

What about a little “humor” as well, but certainly makes sense!!  Enjoy…

Following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip:

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special!
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier?

Dave & Jules w/ Simon Thompson at US Seminar

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most and add to our faith. So, dear friends, we are excited about out future. We are readying the ship for bigger journey. We are rejoicing in the away our global family has adjusted where needed and simply observed and reflected with others of you where the timing is different. We want all of our “kids” and business associates to be comfortable or drawn to a new paradigm… as is is always in God’s plan and sovereignty. You are all very special and in all we simply want to be a help and a Blessing. We “assume” you are interested in our spiritual discoveries as well as our day to day adventures. There have been far less lifestyle photos in this one as there has been quite a lot less lifestyle lived. But we are being prepared! Have a wonderful few weeks as we look for His hand in all we do and experience. He is mighty and trustworthy and all that we need.

See ya next time.

Jim

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Merry Christmas!

What a glorious time of the year! We can truly be conscious of the ultimate blessing that we have each been offered a free gift of eternal life; so simple and yet so profound. No set of behaviors or standards to live up to first…just an acknowledgement that we are in need of “saving”, and the willingness to accept the gift. One man, sent by God himself to sacrifice for all who believe. God coming to us rather than us trying to figure him out and please him….and hope it is enough.

I know that many of my dear friends who read this are not yet ready to agree on these things…but, it is a time when those of us who do….are grateful and passionate about telling others how marvelous and simple it is to have assurance of God’s acceptance and eternity in Heaven. It is often so hard for us as proud humans to accept the fact that God came to earth with a “gift” to us…and that we cannot “take credit” for being “good enough”. (We like “earning” things).

So many in this world are struggling to find meaning in pleasure and power and experiences, and yet ultimately finding little satisfaction and no assurance. When we rest in him and abide in him and seek his purposes and honor his promises…we find life very clear indeed. And yet there is plenty of fun and joy and reward left this side of heaven.

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.a He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:7-10)

At this time of year I am also reminded of all the wonderful traditions of “Santa” and gifts, and trees…and even of the many friends we have and love that celebrate differently. We wish you all a very joyful season and pray that you will understand better why some of us are so determined not to let the great holiday traditions be lost or minimized as they carry many memories and much good will.….but also to never forget what we are truly celebrating.

Moving along…..I also am keenly aware this month that I am now finishing my second full year of treatments for the unexpected and even unwelcome disease that launched this blog. Part of me is still in shock that I have been forced to endure these past two years after so many decades of health. Part of me is however thankful for this experience, as it has certainly pushed me closer to the Lord in all ways, and my faith and understanding has grown beyond measure. I think some of yours has as well!

If you are still catching up, my adventure began in December 2010 with a swallowing difficulty, and that led quickly to a diagnosis of esophageal Cancer. AAARG! Then it was determined to get treatment in Houston at MD Anderson as they are one of the largest and most respected leading edge centers in the world. The surgery was not nearly as common as we thought, and is said to be second in complexity to only a heart transplant. So….many radiation and chemo treatments later…. and after a complex but successful surgery, I was released back to Atlanta to “recover”.

The adventure continued as they soon discovered a “missed” lymph node that was infected and I was forced to undergo radiation again. Then, the docs discovered a spot on my lower spine and some numbness so I went again to radiation of that area. In the subsequent follow up, they felt that the spine area was calm but they then found metastases in the brain. This led me to a “Gamma Knife” treatment which appeared to halt the tumors, but later they returned and grew again and even spread into the spinal fluid. ….Yowser. What’s up with that?

So, now we are engaged in that battle but we also know that our God has already “won” this one. The enemy is relentless, and would love to distract me and discourage me…NOT. I have endured full brain radiation for ten days and…. in spite of the docs’ insistence….my hair did not ALL fall out. Wispy indeed, but there! (We will embrace any and all encouragements). Then, they surgically implanted a port into my head so they can inject chemo into the spinal fluid…had two of those so far and on the last one they found no active cells in the spinal fluid….again, we accept any good news! Our God is bigger than our problems, and He is mightier than our relentless enemy too.

Does much of this sound scary and unhappy to you? It likely depends a lot on how you see the world…through spiritual eyes, or medical/physical eyes. If we look at what we “see” we can be quite discouraged. If we look through God’s perspective and promises and possibilities….we see with eyes of faith and trust and confidence….in Him.

I don’t see life as a game to win,  or a race, or a contest to see who can amass the most pleasure or toys or power etc. I see it as a test, a temporary trust, a preparation for eternity. We are offered eternal life as a gift first, and then an opportunity to seek his Kingdom here on earth and to know him, become more like him, and serve him to the best of our abilities. We are to find his purpose in the skills and opportunities he gives us. We are to “occupy” and live abundantly. We are to seek our rewards in Heaven. We are to love others…all others. If he chooses to prosper us, or favor us, we must give him the glory as the source of all…not be filled with pride over “our” accomplishments. He uses each of us in different ways.

I have really enjoyed studying and learning more about his promises as we sometimes just think we are to “accept” his “will” and circumstances as martyrs, or dutiful “sufferers”, and be passive. I see much in scripture that tells us just the opposite. We have been given authority and power in the Word to call on him and do greater things even than the Son. We are not God….so it is not that…it is simply more than passive acceptance. We have a role and we are asked/commanded to use this power and authority. The scriptures are alive and God honors his word (he watches over it to perform it) when we stand on it and believe it.  He promised salvation and eternity, healing, protection, provision, peace, wisdom, joy….but we also need to choose and claim these.

Here is a good message about what God has for us…..

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” - Matthew 6:9-10

Imagine that you have never driven a car. You are not aware of all the features of a car. Up to this point, you have had to walk everywhere you go. All you are told is that you are about to receive something that will get you anywhere you need to go. The day arrives and you are given a brand new car. You get in and drive the car. However, the emergency brake is on, preventing you from going faster than 20 miles per hour. No one tells you that you should unlock the brake. Regardless, you are excited because you no longer have to walk to your destination. You are not told that the car has lights, which would allow you to drive at night. Neither are you told about the many other wonderful features of the car. You just know you have a new car that will get you anywhere you want to go at 20 miles per hour. For the rest of your life, you drive this incredible car during the daytime only at 20 miles per hour.

Why would Jesus pray that things in earth would be like they are in Heaven if it were not possible? When Jesus came to earth, He came in order to penetrate the very kingdom of darkness with light. He came to bring healing to sickness, replace sadness with joy, and fill meaninglessness with purpose. He came to change things for the better for a world that had no hope outside of God.

Using the illustration above, Jesus did not come to merely give us a ticket to Heaven (a car that you drive only in the daytime at 20 miles per hour). He came to bring us much more-the Kingdom of God on earth. Nowhere in the Bible will you find the term, gospel of salvation. The Church does not exist for Heaven, but for earth. If it existed only for Heaven, then each of us would immediately be taken to Heaven. There would be no reason for us to remain on earth. So why has God allowed us to receive this new birth and remain on earth? It is so that we might bring the Kingdom of God into our world-our families, our workplace, and our communities.

God wants you to bring the Kingdom of God into the territory He has given you so that His will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Your domain is your workplace, family, and community. Ask God to show you how He wants to penetrate the darkness of your domain with His light. Then you will see and experience all the features of this gift that has been given to you.

Family/Business Update:

Well, in spite of our on-going dramas, we have tried to stay engaged and joy-filled as God delivers us in His way and time. We obviously had our American Thanksgiving since I last posted….always a special time to focus on what we have to be thankful for. We had more than 20 family members at the house and a feast of course. Lots of football too. I had to go to Houston the Sunday after so I was there a week as they MRI-ed and implanted the port etc. Then it was home to begin the next protocol with a new Oncologist….that went well except for a bit of a physical drama when I got the chemo as well as some vaccine the same day….maybe too ambitious.

Achievers

We were scheduled to go to the North American Achievers event in Washington DC that week, and I was forced to skip the Growth Council gathering the day prior…. but managed to get to DC for the main festivities and to see my dear friends and partners again.  Amway had elected to honor us with a “Hero Award” for “Generosity” so we felt a bit self-conscious and awkward…but needed to allow so we could highlight what we feel is an important aspect of our business and life priorities. All our Network of Caring partners should share in this! It was quite uplifting …especially as we congratulated the other three honorees for Patriotism, Determination, and Leadership. Perhaps you will see them all as videos were provided.

On the last day, Frank Luntz shocked us with a gift of a famous original Penley painting of Reagan, which was seen on all Frank’s TV shows along with some of this amazing artist’s other works. That was way over the top and we are still stunned at his gesture and generosity. You will see it hung prominently in our home.

The event was culminated as always with a private dinner at Mt Vernon (for nearly 4000 people in large heated tents) and closed with a spectacular fireworks display…Amway always does it right.

As I reflect on these past few weeks, I am again reminded of what a toll my situation has taken on the whole family. Heather and A-K are troopers and have tried to press along with life, as they should. Heather is our travel buddy to Houston for “Moral support” and a little humor for Nancy as we sit with the docs and their happy news. Dave and Jules continue to raise their two amazing girls and enjoy all the specialness of Christmas while dodging some of the questions about Papa. Their business is thriving and they have done a magnificent job of balancing the holidays with their goals in the business. They had a great BBS with Bob Andrews and a Christmas party for their leaders. Then off to Achievers where they seem to know more people than we do now!

Eric and Abbie are making adjustments too and looking for the right focus for 2013. Some new directions for Power Soccer and some fun Bible studies are in the works.

And then there is dear Nancy! What a two years for her! Maybe harder than on me? When someone you love is experiencing pain or danger, we want to “fix” it. Especially Nancy! She has immersed herself for two years in prayer, fasting, alternative docs, searching the Internet, speaking with other believers, hunting down healing ministries, and seeing that I am cared for ….can anyone be asked to do more? We have been inseparable. We listen to CDs, we listen to Scripture, we listen to praise music, we speak what we want in faith…not what we “see”. It is a lot of “work”, and yet it is what God teaches us to do to draw closer and receive His blessings and strength.

Please continue your prayers for our whole family. They are all in this bucket. We are maintaining joy and expectation and faith…but we are also in a battle together. All of us globally have approached God’s throne with boldness and asked Him to deliver on His promises.

The Team

In the midst of it all and the latest chemo-induced issues, we managed to have a great office executive Christmas party at our home, which is an annual tradition. Laughter, gift exchanges (along with lots of stealing), and great food thanks to Kevin! Great diversion.

Then, it was time to finish Christmas shopping and enjoying the fact that we can give nice things to the people we love. Most of us “need” nothing….but, Oh is it a pleasure to be able to give! I can’t wait ‘til Christmas AM to see the faces.  We were more careful and conservative this year for sure! We focused much of our past two weeks praying about, and working on, our major giving initiatives of 2012 and then 2013. What a fun privilege it is to know you have been allowed abundance that can be used for God’s purposes and to bless others.  Relatively “painless” for people like you and I….but life-changing to others who are hurting or lonely or persecuted.

I sure hope that each of us sees a place that we can relieve some pain or give some encouragement…through time and service…..or through financial gifts. We sure don’t want to be like the rich guy in the Bible that wanted to store up his extra in more barns for afterwards and “security”.

  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ (Luke 12:20).

 So, we are very blessed at this time of the year and we see clearly how He has used this attack on my life as a catalyst for all his purposes and plans. Our whole family is on a journey. I also hope that as I share openly with you all, from my unique viewpoint, you will accept the fact that some of us may differ in our world view and philosophy of life and even “spiritual truth”, but in understanding the true Christian forgiveness and love of all God’s children, you can rest assured that none of us thinks less of those not having been received into our spiritual family yet…just prayerfully hoping that we never act in a way that would drive one away from God’s love and forgiveness and all its rewards.

This life often doesn’t make sense. That’s good, or God would be too small for me. In studying his word daily, there is much to discover about what He expects, about His nature, His priorities, His promises, and above all His unexplainable love of His children regardless of our rebellion and pride and stubbornness and sins. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. When we can rest in His forgiveness, we can come to Him in trust and gratefulness and faith that He will do as He promised…He cannot lie!

 A few more thoughts as I know many will still be “confused” by the seeming lack of prayers answered. Healing and deliverance are elusive and complex, There is mainstream medicine which I have taken full advantage of. There is “alternative” therapy which I have embraced as well. There is a great attitude of positive expectancy which always is a factor.

There is scripture and His promises that can be relied on: 

I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.” (Psalm 118:17)

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”(Matthew 18:19)

“ Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:14-16)

When we are asked to delay in our desert experiences longer than we ever imagined…we need perspective and patience and lots of faith. I read Spurgeon recently and here is what he said:

“Therefore will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you.” Isaiah 30:18

“God often delays in answering prayer. We have several instances of this in sacred Scripture. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day–he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophoenicia was answered not a word for a long while. Paul besought the Lord thrice that “the thorn in the flesh” might be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it should be taken away, but instead thereof a promise that God’s grace should be sufficient for him. If thou hast been knocking at the gate of mercy, and hast received no answer, shall I tell thee why the mighty Maker hath not opened the door and let thee in? 

Our Father has reasons peculiar to himself for thus keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show his power and his sovereignty, that men may know that Jehovah has a right to give or to withhold. More frequently the delay is for our profit. Thou art perhaps kept waiting in order that thy desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if he keeps thee waiting thou wilt see thy necessity more clearly, and wilt seek more earnestly; and that thou wilt prize the mercy all the more for its long tarrying. 

There may also be something wrong in thee which has need to be removed, before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps thy views of the Gospel plan are confused, or thou mayest be placing some little reliance on thyself, instead of trusting simply and entirely to the Lord Jesus. Or, God makes thee tarry awhile that he may the more fully display the riches of his grace to thee at last. 

Thy prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while shall be fulfilled to thy delight and satisfaction. Let not despair make thee silent, but continue instant in earnest supplication.”

Anyone out there wrestling with doubt? It is always present as it is a favorite tool of our enemy. Listen to this….

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  Mk 9:24 NIV

Here is another question to consider: What is “walking by sight”? (See 2Co 5:7). It’s living your life based on how things look to the natural eye. It’s deciding and acting in accord with your perceptions and circumstances, rather than God’s Word. It’s being dictated to by your feelings and thoughts. Your thoughts and feelings are—yours! Examine them. Don’t let them hijack you. Use your spirit-controlled temperament to bring them under control. Too often we are sandwiched between faith and doubt, in a “catch-22” between what our transformed spirit says and what our carnal mind says.

One day a distraught father brought his son to Jesus for healing. Jesus told him, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mk 9:23 NIV). At that point the boy’s father said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” At times we experience both faith and doubt. This man was honest about his doubts, yet Jesus still worked a miracle for him. If he had needed correction, Jesus would have corrected him. If his faith was not genuine, the Lord would have known it. But Jesus accepted his declaration of faith, despite his doubts.

There are three lessons here for us:

  1. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your doubts.
  2. Don’t let your doubts overrule your faith. God’s Word in the matter is God’s will for you; stand on it.
  3. Hand your doubts over to the Lord and say, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” How long does it take to learn to walk by faith? A lifetime!

Apply these principles to all your challenges and doubts!!

I am still learning that, in our business, we so often are tempted to rely on the skills and resources that we have been given and depended on so long. The more we succeed, the more we can be led to believe we did it ourselves.  There is a better way however….still fruitful indeed, but where we trust our Lord as the director and finisher.

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD” (Isa 31:1).

It is human nature to want to use whatever means available to us to succeed. However, a conflict arises when we place our total trust in ourselves instead of God. The idea of maintaining a proper balance between trust and obedience to God versus placing an over dependence upon our natural skill and resources has created problems since Genesis. We are prone to build strong defenses through our natural gifts to avoid failure and use all of our might to be successful in our endeavors. However, this can often be done at the expense of the supernatural in our lives.

When it comes to receiving from God, it is important we don’t make the same mistake Moses made when God told him to speak to the rock in order to receive water for the people. Instead, He struck the rock and failed to enter the Promised Land. The people of Israel often fell back to trusting in their own abilities and God had to send a reproof into their lives.

How do we avoid the trap and maintain a proper balance between the natural and the spiritual? The rule of thumb is to submit every activity to God and use your skill as God directs you. Be sensitive to God’s leading in all your activities. Avoid trying to build resources for the sake of insulating yourself against calamity which is rooted in fear.

Finally, follow Solomon’s advice: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov 3:5-6).

“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel’” (2 Samuel 7:8).

David was nearing the end of his life. The prophet Nathan was responding to David’s idea to build a temple where the Ark of the Covenant would stay. God reminded David through the prophet of his roots and where He had brought him. God took David from the fields of pasturing sheep to pastoring a nation. God reminded David that He cut off all of David’s enemies for his sake and the sake of his nation. David never lost a battle.

Have you ever felt tempted to look at your accomplishments with pride as if you were the reason for your success? Have you ever thought your prosperity was due to your ingenuity? Has your material success been a testimony to others that God is the ruler of all aspects of your life, even the material side?

The greatest temptation some of us will ever face is pride of ownership. If we think our success is a result of our own effort we affront God and open the door to pride. “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor” (Prov 29:23).

Success can be a greater test than adversity. “Not every man can carry a full cup. Sudden elevation frequently leads to pride and a fall. The most exacting test of all to survive is prosperity,” said Oswald Chambers. Success can be a breeding ground for complacency with God and pride of ownership.

Do you have a proper understanding of who you are? Do you understand that it is God who has given you the ability to work and achieve? He is the source of all good things. Ask God today if your life models this belief.

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I am also learning that in ALL areas, it is critical to begin and end with PRAISE AND THINKKSGIVING!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.    Psalm 100:4-5

Falcons game with Maxwells

So, we come to another year and I have just shared some of my most  recent thoughts as my journey continues. God is certainly working in my life. I feel stronger than ever about my friends and global “family”, and pray daily for the strength and opportunity to serve Him (and all of you) in a greater way as He leads me to new understandings and greater appreciation for my blessings.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year!

With love,

Jim

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TRUSTING, OBEYING, CLAIMING, AND EXPECTING

Celebrating Life

Well, my friends, this has indeed been a strange yet wonderful month since I last wrote. Sometimes it is hard to know what to share when we have a diverse audience as well as a time of personal growth and spiritual progress in this newest chapter. So many of you are of my amazing global business family and your posts on the guest site continue bless me…THANK YOU! Don’t stop…they are “air” and I feel connected, and I read them all (often more than once).  Many also pop in from the past, and certainly friends and family and those who, inexplicably, I am told are following diligently (and praying) although they do not know me at all; what a blessing indeed.

And I am always aware that many of my global teammates might read out of interest in me personally (humbling for sure, and a role I never take lightly), and might find some of our Christian beliefs puzzling or unacceptable still, I hope all remember that we Christians are called as believers to accept and love everyone regardless of their current beliefs and opinions….. as Christ did and does. He was sent to provide the  way to eternity for ALL who are lost, and would simply accept this gift through faith…with all our imperfections and shortcomings. An open door, a gift, “good news”, all are welcome…not just a prophet, or guru, or cosmic “force”, but God the creator Himself come to save and forgive and restore and live through us…wow. Who wouldn’t want that? And as Andy Stanley says; “When it is all said and done, I think I am going with the only guy who has ever risen from the dead!”

The Family together

Some of my girls!

Strange how so many know clearly that Jesus lived historically, and was crucified, and rose as witnessed by hundreds, and used a group of ordinary sinners and common men, empowered by the Spirit, to change the world through love and a simple, but new, message; a Relationship and not a Religion. He clearly always said who he was (the only Son of God)…. and yet so many people still relegate Him to a “good teacher”, healer, controversial Rabbi, etc…. when he never said that was who he was. When we really read what he said and did, and look at the way the movement grew after he was “gone”, and under immense persecution….one might need to take a deeper look it seems…… Just a thought…especially among us believers.

Perhaps we are the biggest reason some people are not excited about “Christianity” is that Christians, and the “Church”, need a wake up call and a deeper look at the promises and commands given so clearly. Knowing Him and His word brings great fruit. Grace and forgiveness release us, and empower us to grow more like Him over time. Knowing Him deeper and serving Him better, and recognizing our roles more clearly, and spreading His Gospel can be so very satisfying. And, our “Marketplace” is so diverse, and our values so strong, and our heart so hungry, that we see and have been given endless opportunities to do good with all God’s people.

Dad and Heather

Anyway, I have simply been led to share in this remarkable “Journey”, my personal pilgrimage to full health (that He promises to believers in faith)… and trust and pray that ALL those we love will find some measure of comfort and inspiration in this very personal journey. But again let me say how grateful I am that you would allow me to share in this way and grant me the grace to be more transparent when needed…. as it is designed for those who choose to read. I do even love the reports back from my dear friends of all faiths, for their desires and care for me and my family are genuine, and their hearts are extraordinary….and I love that we can connect somehow at this point. All of us on a journey.

So, what can I share now that is helpful? Basically, I experienced some new symptoms (very significant hearing loss at this time….grrr….. lying symptom) which led to an additional MRI of the brain and a subsequent visit to the experts at MD Anderson. Without bothering you all with “details” (as I know God has healed me already) the docs sent me back to ten days of “brain radiation”. I know…scary huh? Not really….. God is always bigger. (OK, I can’t remember my name or my PV …but that was true before the radiation). The funny thing is that the only real new side effect they warned me of (other than fatigue etc) is my hair…..what?! Unacceptable! Well, maybe that was pride (but you haven’t seen me bald…nor will you). Now my radiation finished a couple of weeks ago, and currently I am hanging on (“white knuckled”) to my thinning hair. Less photos will come? Or lots of funny hats maybe. Or, maybe it will turn red and curly. Whatever…a wig is out!

At Neurosurgeon with Dave and Jules

Then we are expected to wait 4-5 weeks until after Thanksgiving to return to MDA/Houston to get more MRIs and PETS etc (glow in the dark again), and see about further treatments for this insidious enemy invader. What we really need is an all-out prayer assault globally to reject the enemy’s hold still….he MUST leave!!… as God has promised it when two or more gather and ask and believe…..but he would really love to terrorize someone in my position….not gonna have it! Thanks for your continued, and much needed prayers and assault on the throne. He will be faithful I know. He always watches over His Word to perform it….. Lying symptoms aside!

 

Hallelujah

I have been enjoying the time to deep-dive into God’s Word, learn scripture, understand His promises and His desire to heal as well as teach and draw…and stay involved with what I love which is leading, and adding value as much as possible to people I love. I have discovered and investigated all avenues revealed to me regarding my closer walk as I sure have the time (had it all along of course, but need to make it). The Lord has helped me revisit areas where I felt a need to ask forgiveness from people, and me to forgive any and all actions and people where such emotions might block my access to promises or authority given to me.  A healthy exercise.

 

Celebrating Baptism with little ones

I even was directed to engage in a water baptism. This might seem unusual to some after so long as a believer, but wanted to be absolutely sure that I was obedient and humble in my willingness to publically proclaim my beliefs…. as our Lord Himself did. It has been interesting to me how God can even use such a simple sign of obedience to reveal another level of faith fruit that always comes when we do what he commands and models. Anyone else in my shoes? Anything left uncertain? Any small resistances for any reason? Healthy to explore.  As a wonderful bonus, my action inspired  my buddy Dave Ruelas to do the same with me, and we had a wonderful precious evening at our home with friends and family and our Pastor. It is actually quite cleansing and faith-building to look deep and see if God shows us anything we need to unwrap, unlearn, and/or recommit to. I recommend the process…before you “need it”. (Remember the digging of the well before you need the water?)

My Disability Medicare golf cart for Pebble Beach!

With that said, your highly dysfunctional leader and friend realized that I finished my radiation on the 19th of Oct and thought about my annual pilgrimage to Pebble Beach for my EQUIP fundraiser. Why not? So, we went the next day (no need to book a ticket) and figured whatever effects I discovered, I could discover over the waves of the Pacific and the Bagpipers around the fire pit and some amazing testimonies of God’s work through EQUIP. Glad we went! Great fellowship, new friends, memories….life in abundance.

We came to Florida to the beach this week as it got cold in Atlanta. Who has such options? Business is better than ever, spiritual life on hyper-drive, family growing and together more than ever, symptoms aside (and “medical facts” uninteresting). God is at work on all of us all the time. His timing is perfect and His ways are mysterious, but His love is unquestioned, and his desire to provide healing to all who ask in faith is clear. So, we live in the Journey and we await and expect and claim…right? Together!

Some of the Aussies in Dubai Diamond trip…..superstars. One LOS- Diamonds, Doubles, Triple, and Founders Crown Ambassador.

As always, there were a few noteworthy activities also in this past month. I continue to reach out to the world I love with video messages for our large conferences and to personally congratulate the many dear partners that have moved ahead recently; so many this year again. New Emeralds and Diamonds in many countries (Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Italy, Thailand, China, India, Australia, Africa, Turkey….nearly everywhere….amazing). Even a new Crown here with Peter and Barbara Matz and the family….well earned, and a passion well served for so many years. We congratulate this great family for their pioneering work especially in regard to international expansion…..and are eternally grateful for the team we have been blessed with.

Steve, Jules, Dave and Doug

Dave & Jules in Washington DC with the Andrews Family

Dave and Jules were again asked to represent the Dornans at a special event in Washington DC where Amway Corp gathered some impressive people from government including the former Vice President of the US and a Secretary of Defense. Doug and Steve were there as was the Andrews family. Then, we hosted in Atlanta a few top leaders from Indonesia who were already in NYC for a Diamond incentive; Robert and Sonja Angkasa, Paul and Linda Agus, and Johannes and Roma Sumatupatang…two incredible Double Diamonds and a Founders Council Crown. Then, Paul and Linda visited our local BBS where they even had a new person of theirs (Plat) from Indonesia who moved to ATL join here. They and our newest local Sapphires spoke…we loved it all! (We sat in the back and marveled at “duplication”) What a business!

Fall festival…bees and flowers

 

A few days ago we here in the USA had our “Halloween”…the Dornans are obviously not into the occult, or scary things of the enemy (bad idea in my mind to flirt with the enemy regardless of the current culture and fascination with such!), so we celebrate a “fall festival” and the kids love it. Even the office jumps in the fun with sweet costumes and a festive spirit. Flowers (Faith and Cassidy), and Bumble bees (Ella), and Even Winnie the Pooh! (don’t even ask who that is!)

Pretty cool huh? Pray for our country

One more thing regarding our life these past few weeks is the intensity around the US elections. The right to vote is such a privilege, as well as an obligation, here (and everywhere) that the Dornans do take it seriously. I hope you all do as well. It’s is really never about political parties, but really about what values we believe in, and who is the best leader for the time. You will each choose I am sure, but I will pray you think prayerfully and carefully, and that you surely do place your vote. Each is important.we were recently offered an opportunity to attend an event with one of the presidential candidates and loved getting this photo. I hope each of you remains passionate about these choices and thinks hard about what differences might occur if the wrong vision or values are applied. God taught us to honor and respect all leaders as they have been given authority…but we can also seek His Word to see what values line up and then vote prayerfully and carefully and not on just a personal pet issue. In a few days we will see where America decides to go

My guardian Angel!

Now, as we all know, I continue to read on many levels and am always aware of the things we all deal with which are not the same as mine. Marriages, finances, goals, ambitions, children, etc. As I reflect and come across things I will pass on a few as they have blessed me and reminded me of so much that life requires we handle. The wisdom is all there to be dug out and understood as each needs it. Here are a few things that have struck me of late. May they lift you and provide greater faith and encouragement as we all keep growing:

ON THE POSITIVES OF PAIN

THE VALLEY OF BACA:

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion” (Ps 84:5-7).

There is a spiritual law in the Kingdom of God. Every great leader in the Kingdom will pass through the Valley of Baca. Baca means to weep. It comes from the Hebrew word, bakah (baw-kaw’); a primitive root; to weep; generally to bemoan.

However, Baca is also a place of springs. There is nothing better on a hot day when you’re thirsty and weary than to drink water from a mountain spring. It refreshes. It renews. It gives you a second wind to continue your journey. Those who commit themselves to a pilgrimage with God will experience the Valley of Baca. But in the midst of Baca they will discover that in this valley they will also drink from a very special spring that refreshes with a different kind of living water.

It becomes the source of “secret things in hidden places” described by the prophet Isaiah (Isa 45:3) reserved only for those willing to journey on the Great Pilgrimage with God. Once you drink from this spring you will be energized in your spiritual man from strength to strength. Each Valley of Baca will result in a new spiritual spring from which you will drink. It is handmade just for you by God. But know this…. it will be used to provide a refreshing drink for others you will encounter who are also on their pilgrimage.

Ultimately, Baca leads to the presence of God. There is something about being in a place with God that results in our weeping and crying out to Him. Do you find yourself in this place with God today? If so, know that His springs are also available to you. Ask him today to give you a drink from His spring only available in the Valley of Baca.

ON THE DANGERS OF COMPARISON:

“They measure themselves by themselves.”    2Co 10:12 NIV

A certain level of competitiveness is good. You need it. When children enter a spelling contest they study harder and learn more because they’re going to compete. They know their academic prowess is about to be challenged and they get ready for it because we all like to win. But when your competitiveness makes you feel “less than,” or “better than” another person, it’s gone too far. Paul writes: “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service…God has assigned to us” (vv.12-13 NIV). To evaluate your success accurately you must first understand your God-given purpose. When you play on a team your position determines your purpose. Attackers and defenders have different skills, but to win, the team needs both. The defender who keeps the opposing team from scoring is just as valuable as the attacker who scores. One may get more applause than the other, but victory belongs to them all. When you keep comparing yourself with others you’re denied a sense of accomplishment, because you’ve made the benchmark to be like somebody else. No, they are playing a different position. They have a different purpose. They have a different skill set designed to fulfill the role God has given them. God gives you everything you need for the position you play and the purpose you have. What a liberating truth! And God, who gave others the ability to excel at what they do, will do the same for you when you learn to focus on Him, not them.

ON THE BENEFITS OF FOCUS:

“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down.”                 Heb 12:1 NLT

The Bible says, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down…And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” God has given you the two things needed to run and win your race in life: time and energy. And you can’t afford to waste them. Why do we have such a hard time saying no? Two of the most common reasons are: (1) Fear of rejection. Ultimately, you must ask yourself this question: “Whose approval am I seeking, God’s or people’s?” (2) Fear of missing out on good opportunities. We assume that whenever opportunity knocks, we must answer the door and say yes to whatever’s standing there. That’s a mistake. Opportunity doesn’t equal obligation. There will always be more opportunities than there is time to pursue them. So you must choose your opportunities prayerfully and wisely. Jim Collins, author of the book Good to Great, writes: “Most of us lead busy but undisciplined lives. We have ever expanding ‘to do’ lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing. But it rarely works. Those who built the good to great companies made as much use of ‘stop doing’ lists, as ‘to do’ lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug from all sorts of extraneous junk and channel their resources into only one or a few areas.” In his groundbreaking book, Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It, Al Ries adds, “Great leaders, in spite of a multitude of distractions, know how to keep things focused. They know how to inspire and motivate their followers to keep pushing ‘the main chance.’ They don’t let side issues overwhelm them.” So stay focused!

ABIDING IN THE LORD:

“He who abides in Me…bears much fruit.”                              Jn 15:5 NKJV

Some folks view the Christian life as a bed of roses, others see it as a battlefield. The first group says, “If I’ve enough faith I’ll never be sick, broke, or have problems.” The second group says, “I have more troubles than Job.” The truth is, your faith level is revealed by hard times. When your back is to the wall financially you need faith to believe that God is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides. When you’re battling illness you need faith to believe He’s Jehovah Rapha, the great physician who promises to heal. Jesus said, “He who abides in Me…bears much fruit.” Notice, the blessing comes from “abiding” and staying close to the Lord.

Getting excited about fruit before you’ve learned to sow seed means you end up serving God for what He does, instead of who He is to you.

And here’s another thought: Don’t use your faith to belittle others. Just because you have graduated, don’t burn down the school! Remember the tests you didn’t do so well in? But God brought you through, didn’t He? And He will bring them through too! Yes, the Christian life is a battlefield. And the level of attack is determined by the size of your God-given assignment and the rewards that await you beyond it. So in that sense, Satan’s attack is a compliment. The truth lies in the middle. You will be regularly pruned for greater fruitfulness. But that’s when it’s even more important to abide. So don’t give up, and don’t collapse, for beyond this test you’ll have a testimony to God’s goodness.

TRUSTING GOD….NOT WHAT WE SEE:

(being grateful and having joy and praising Him in all things)

Jesus said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of!” (John 10:10b, The Message)

Can we have an abundant life when our world is falling down around us? Can we experience abundant living in the following situations? When our husband loses his job and can’t seem to find another one. When our teenage son is arrested for drunk driving. When our house is foreclosed and we have no place to go. When we don’t share the same faith as our spouse. When our business or marriage struggles?

Corrie and Betsie TenBoom watched the only world they’d ever known crumble down around them. Their family was arrested for helping rescue Jews in wartime Holland. And years later, Corrie wrote about her experience in the book, The Hiding Place.

Corrie and Betsie were transferred from one place to another in their imprisonment but they finally end up in the worst place of all, Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. It was a place of horrible filth and degradation. As they moved into their new living quarters they were overwhelmed with their situation and the final straw came as they were settling into their bunks. Fleas bit them! Corrie turned to Betsie and said, How can we live in a place like this?” Let’s take a look at Betsie’s response to Corrie:

‘Corrie!’ she said excitedly. ‘He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’

‘Oh yes, . . . To one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus . . .’

‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. Give thanks in all circumstances! That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about [these] new barracks!’

I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.

‘Such as?’ I said.

‘Such as being assigned here together.’

I bit my lip, ‘Oh yes, Lord Jesus!’

‘Such as what you’re holding in your hands.’

I looked down at the Bible. ‘Yes! Thank you, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank you for all the women, here in this room, who will meet you in these pages.’

‘Yes,’ said Betsie. ‘Thank you for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!’ She looked at me expectantly. ‘Corrie!’ she prodded.

‘Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds.’

‘Thank you,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for —’

The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’

‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted. ‘It doesn’t say, “in pleasant circumstances.” Fleas are a part of this place where God has put us.’

And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for the fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong . . .” (The Hiding Place, by Corrie TenBoom)

Corrie and Betsie chose to focus on God and to thank Him for where He had placed them. They were able to hold worship services in their barracks in complete freedom from the guards and they couldn’t help but wonder why they were allowed to do this. It wasn’t until days later that they discovered the reason. It was the fleas . . . the guards did not want to set foot in their dormitory because of the fleas!

These determined women, in spite of their circumstances, chose to live the life God had for them. In a place of incredible filth and pain they experienced the abundant life of a Christian who chose to take God at His Word and trust in Him. If Corrie were here today, I know that she would say it’s the only way to truly live!

Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that You would open the eyes of our hearts so that we may truly see You as You are. Lord, You are infinitely incredible and You are the real joy of our hearts. We pray for a divine eternal revelation of who You are and who we are as Your children, friends and bride. Lord, take away our complaining and help us to know that in You all things are possible and that it is a true joy to give thanks in all circumstances. Thank-You that You overcame this world with the blood of Your Son, and that He conquered all death, sin and Satan. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wonderful visit with some of the the Indonesian Leadership

So, we wait and pray and seek and have joy. November is our month of “Thanksgiving”. His promises and ways are always to bless and draw and fulfill His Word. What a remarkable gift, and how much more can we serve and be rewarded than by faith in this truth and obedience. It gets easier to see each day. Our Passions remain for what He has equipped me, and each of us, to do while we “occupy” and enjoy this life of purpose. (My vision is expanding daily). We have been so blessed to find a “vehicle” through N21 that allows for such a journey of hope and blessing and sharing of possibilities and principles. We have seen the BIG world, and it is indeed BIG and rich with God’s potential. It is also rich with deception. I pray that together we can all seek the truth, and make sure we do everything in love and His service. God’s number one commandment is still to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength…and love others, as we love ourselves”. I sure do love you critters and appreciate you more each day.

The Journey continues……..

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……TO BE CONTINUED! But Still Fighting, and at Peace!

Count it all Joy!

Well, I have been too long again since my communication with you. My bad! The past two months have indeed been great… and filled with things unexpected… as always. As you may see from the heading title, we are once again experiencing  a new “chapter” of the Journey after my “good news” last time. On the “health front”, some new and unwelcome developments recently have forced me to re-read (a few times) my own “wise advice” from my last blog as I wrestled with the topic of worry, and tried to share how much I struggle with this topic during this journey. Never “Intellectually” of course, as I am fully subscribed to the beliefs I’ve shared, and confident that I am in the good and mighty hands of my creator and Lord. But in the moment to moment, day to day struggles, and surprises, and challenges…. we so often quickly fall into this crazy cycle of “worry”, and we must not let the enemy have this power over us. Right? Easier said than done unless one is well grounded and in the Word daily. I will share more as we progress.

I had some very great weeks after my last scan showed no evidence of disease to treat, and we were beginning to set up our new schedule. Our newest dreams, with our new lessons and strengthened faith in place, and lots of hope and gratefulness for the possibilities of the future… as well as lots of awareness of God’s blessings and promises. Hallelujah indeed.

18th Hole at Pebble Beach

August allowed us to enjoy an amazing few days in Pebble Beach again… love that place! We went with Dave and Jules, and the Neubers, and some Amway execs to play/work and discuss the future. Strangely, some of you have heard about my crazy adventure at the Hospital Emergency Room in Monterey California during this trip. I was hit with some very strange chest pains the first night and this started a chain reaction as we tried to figure out what was the deal?  This was quite a fiasco on many levels. We went to the ER early that morning, and once in their “grips”, the Doctors were quite thorough as they searched for causes of my symptoms. They ran tests for 5 hours (just the “wrong” 5 hours as you will learn), such as X-rays, CT scans, blood draws, EKGs etc etc. The conclusion? … they couldn’t find anything really. No evidence of any heart issues, nothing in X-ray or CT to indicate embolisms or leakages or clots… basically I looked good except for some residual fluid on my lungs still from the original surgery. I knew that, and it is not related to the issue. So… I guess all that was great news. They gave me a bit of medicine for inflammation on the digestive tract or esophagus, and off I went back to the hotel.

Cypress Point 16th Hole

The only crazy part was that that was exactly the time slot that I had arranged for a very unique opportunity to play the world famous (and nearly “impossible” to get on to) golf course called “Cypress Point”, (I will enclose a photo of hole #16 there) nearby to Pebble Beach. Or so I thought. Needless to say my “attitude” was thoroughly tested that morning as the others were off on this day of memories….without Jimmy! I am happy for them… sort of. Just kidding. But the time in California was still amazing, and the next day I went ahead to play the Pebble Beach course… so overall a real great time. We are blessed.

N21 Global Managers Meeting

We returned to Atlanta and I resumed my “health/IV regime”. A few days later we hosted a very special meeting of all of Network TwentyOne worldwide country managers. (20+ countries). About 45 people arrived safely, and we had a great reception for them and our local staff at the new Network TwentyOne Atlanta headquarters. So powerful to have so many diverse yet connected people, so dedicated to our cause, in the same room (many had never met, or been to the USA). Then we hosted three great days that included a day of play and fun and fellowship at our lake house, many hours of teaching, sharing ideas and best practices from around the world, time with each other, Nancy and me, Dave and Jules, and the senior management of our company… and some great individual brainstorming and vision casting. We topped it off with a memorable evening and dinner at our home, while we loved on them, and thanked them all for their incredible talents and servant hearts. We pray that they each returned with a lighter spirit and a sense of belonging and energy and teamwork that makes this all work so well. We have an amazing team that is united, skilled, committed, and ready for the next 10 years for sure.

Next came our annual leadership convention in Atlanta and it was, as always, a big celebration of opportunity, achievement, and hope. Great speakers from around the N21 world added such perspective and belief and learning. Powerful new Diamonds from India, Kushrow and Mickey Patel, as well as new Founders Double Diamonds, Alois and Sissy Szuchar from Europe. Along with all of the great recognition from North America. We were excited in addition to add the blessing of honoring Amway’s newest CROWNS!!…. Peter and Barbara Matz with their son Tom. What a story they have, and what a legacy they are leaving. So vibrant, so much history, and so ready to keep leading with new dreams. Quite inspiring to old and new. And we keep getting reports from around the N21 world of many, many new higher pins. We are proud and thrilled at how well this business team and global family keeps leading and producing.

Then things get interesting again! As I mentioned earlier, I began to experience some unusual “symptoms” around our Convention time with a sudden loss of some hearing and some additional “balance” challenges. This lead to a series of visits and calls to docs, including an ear specialist etc. A call to my doctors in Houston lead us to the decision to get another Brain MRI early (it was scheduled for November with my next PET scan) to see if there was an “explanation”.

Well… to my surprise… it did clearly show some renewed growth in my previously decreasing brain lesions, as well as one small new area of concern that was not there before…. What?! That’s not right! I am sick of this stuff! So we now are in the period again of learning to not “worry”, but to have “faith”! ….Got it! Back to my previous blog posting. Better read it again and remember the promises. How easy it is for any of us to fall victim to negative thinking, fear, and the enemy’s ways.

We saw a local Neurosurgeon who suggests that indeed surgery is the logical approach now to get rid of these growths that appear to be still active. Hmmm. Too much risk in leaving them to grow. Yuck!! Brain surgery? No thanks! So, I now am scheduling a visit to Houston to consult with my original team of doctors, and get their opinion of what we are really facing and how to best deal with it. A great opportunity to once again dig deep and see what God has. Today is Friday, and we go to Houston Sunday for a few days of further tests and then consults before determining the path forward. I covet and need prayers at this time and you all have been so powerful and faithful and encouraging. God can still intervene and show us His power supernaturally. Amen?

Today, I read Swindoll, and he had timely words:

And which of you by worrying
can add a single hour to his life’s span?
Luke 12:25

In the depths of every person’s soul, in the secret chambers where no one else knows the thoughts, we are usually able to find a worry or two or three. Even in the hearts of those who are laughing and smiling.

We worry about death—our own or that of a loved one. We worry about disobedience and sin, about feelings of guilt. We worry about daily problems—people problems, decision problems, problems related to work, home, relationships, finances, school . . .

You name it, we worry about it. . . .

One of the problems with worry is that it keeps you from enjoying what you have. When you worry about what you don’t have, you won’t be able to enjoy what you do have. That’s what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 6:25: “I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink.”

Worry is assuming responsibilities that you cannot handle. The truth is, they are responsibilities that God never intended for you to handle, because they are His.

Great reminder… simple Biblical truth. We are not to worry! We have His promises. I have all your prayers… and He hears them all. You guys are amazing. He has His plan and timing. Our job is to trust Him and find His peace, and bring glory to His name through whatever we experience. We think we know this (at least those of us who read and accept His word and His promises, and His Son), and yet we humanly find it so hard not to rely on our senses, our intellect, our science, our logic, our human desire and tendency to always think He is the “last place to go” as we try to wrestle it all “ourselves”.  We are often so quick to rely on what we “see” rather than what God says and promises.

Why do we do this? Our Pride? Stubbornness? Arrogance? Amnesia? He knew we would be this way (He made us all), and he knew our “enemy” knows it too. So he tells us over and over to “trust Him”. Do we listen…and obey? I hope so…it works far better His way. We sure don’t want the enemy to steal our peace or joy, or block God’s power by discouraging us or our prayer warrior friends to cease or give up. When you or I face various trials and stresses of life, (and we all will and do), then we must all also learn to rest in Him! But we also need to “know Him”. Then we can rest in His sovereignty, His love, His promises and His resulting peace. Yes…that feels better. After all, Jesus said:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV

For those of you who may still be struggling with this kind of faith, or true exposure and knowledge of God’s Word as we know it, and are simply wringing your hands and wishing I would be spared this journey by now… I understand. On a purely human level, none of us wants our friends to suffer or endure such life threatening situations and deep desert experiences. We want “good people” to be rewarded and spared all pain, and “bad people” to be punished or given obvious consequences. That is how we might do it if we were “in charge”, but our Lord is bigger than that, and do we really want to “be God”? So often what seems obvious to us is far better with His bigger view and infinite eternal wisdom right? He is all-knowing, all powerful, ever-present, and timeless and the sovereign creator of us and the universe. So, who are we to question?

It is ours to trust and obey and seek to participate fully in His will for us as we bring Him glory. It is hard to trust Him and not go to our human side… it is only possible if we “know Him”! How do we do that? Just like we get to know anyone… we spend time with them. Time in prayer (asking, praising, listening), time immersed in His Word and the Scriptures. He has revealed Himself and His promises. I am deep in that path as never before. What a privilege. What a journey. So crazy and unusual that someone like me (if you have not guessed I’m a pretty private person) would find himself sharing such stuff right as I am stuck in the emotional middle of it all.

I would have “designed” this journey differently: a scary challenge, my faith walk as I dealt with it, a successful conclusion and a moment to praise God and give Him the glory and impact many positively in their faith… and finally the beautiful new Jim 2.0 emerges, with bigger clearer faith, bigger deeper dreams, and lots of my friends greatly encouraged as well as a sense that all these promises “work” as we expect in the time and way we expect. A great CD. I still see that, and claim it, and expect it, and praise Him…. but I am right now still struggling, as some of you are, with the way it is working. So I will continue to stand with so many of you as we knock on Heaven’s door and go “boldly before His throne” for complete healing and restoration. Now I am getting “mad” I think. Never at my Lord because I trust Him… but at the enemy who is somehow still having some stronghold in this process. Together, we can overcome, and I guess the story is bigger and longer and better than I ever expected. So much like God… big and unexpected.

I heard said again recently we should never tell God how big our problems are… we should tell our problems how big our God is! My God is big, and He is Trustworthy… how about yours?

Dinner with my Bride

I will now simply exit the report in the middle of this latest chapter and head to my adventure in Houston. Please lift up my family as they are quite tired of all this I am sure. They have all been amazing and we should never forget how hard this must be for them. Even my N21 staff globally and our leaders are being challenged by these uncertainties. I wish it were not so. But they have all been heroic. Nancy’s faith and spirit is like a rock, but that doesn’t mean she too isn’t gripped at times as we all are. I will be back to you when I have more. Lets continue to walk in His power….. and count it all Joy.

Jim

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What… Me Worry?

What... Me Worry?

Some of you may remember this phrase from the “Mad” comic guy, Alfred E. Neuman. As I reflect on report from our recent visit to Houston, I was deeply grateful, and relieved, to hear “good news”……but at the same time aware of how challenging it can be to remain free from worry (like our little friend Alfred). With God…all things (including “peace that surpasses understanding) are possible, and without God, we will all fail miserably on our own when we try to face our fears and life obstacles.

Let me back up for a minute and explain my thinking today. First, we indeed did just return from yet another return to Houston for the latest PET scan. This was done to determine what had transpired “inside” after my last radiation treatment for the tumor/lesion discovered near the base of the spine. This was, of course, a very unwelcome and somewhat discouraging development as we are all prayerfully wanting this disease to stop re-appearing in new places. The radiation was not a big deal in itself, but represented the “reality” that this enemy was still seemingly lurking in spite of our continuing faith that God has already provided the “healing”. The neuropathy/numbness in my leg and feet was/is a daily reminder of the “fact” that it is still a “work in process”.

In the Doc's office

So, the PET scan this week was an opportunity to not only check on the official medical status of the spinal issue, but to further investigate whether there would be any new “spots” revealed. As we waited for the Oncologist to arrive and give us what they found, we found ourselves in that unpleasant place “between faith and fear”.  It is so strangely easy to have full “intellectual faith”…and certainty in your heart that God is in control and faithful….and yet to have a degree of “doubt/fear” in your mind about the many unpleasant consequences of any “bad news”. Whenever we are near the “regular” docs, we are clearly reminded of the scary possibilities. Just the opposite of what God Himself tells us in His Word. (“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” “Count it all joy”. “By His stripes, we are healed”.  “All things are possible”….etc). So….which voice to listen to!

After getting the news

Well, if I really shared the way the doctor revealed the results, you would need to either laugh, or cry. In his most well intended way, he began peering at the scan comparisons and slowly (agonizingly so) stepped through each area of the body while we tried to determine if he was showing us good news or bad…who knows with these computer pictures of my “insides” and various places glowing etc.? It sure seemed from his body and facial language that he was about to share some “new problem” as he moved from place to place….but finally it seemed he was “done” and we realized he hadn’t pointed out new issues….plus he said that the previous spot was now “fixed”. Really??! Why didn’t he say that when we first arrived?? So…we both kind of decided to say the words we wanted him to say and see if he would agree: “So, it is basically clear?…no issues to treat now?” Humorously…he said: “YES, That’s right”. Wow….great news! God is faithful as always and we are grateful and humbled by His favor as always. All the areas of concern were quiet and nothing new was discovered. Some inflammation issues remain especially in the stomach and a couple of areas to “watch” along the spine and of course always the brain…but we will return in November for that follow-up. In the meantime, we know that our God is at work and we are His.

My little "Blondies" watching the golfers with me

As we were returning home, both Nancy and I were reflecting on what we had experienced over these past few months. It was definitely more challenging than what we had expected. I think the “enemy” had found a bit of a foothold on both of us. Maybe it was just fatigue that made us vulnerable or maybe we simply allowed that voice of doubt and discouragement to take our focus off from the Lord’s perfect peace and promises. It is a dangerous and unhappy place to be. Of course, as always, I was fully secure in my faith that God does love me, and has that perfect plan…but I might have lost a bit of that “joy” as I wondered how long I might be asked to remain in uncertainty, medically. When would I be able to fully see God’s finished work?

So, as I think of how quickly I was faced with such a period of faith-crisis and fatigue, I thought about how you and I deal typically with worry, frustration, and discouragement?  The world’s normal way of facing up to these universal human struggles is to accept them, fight them, or wallow in them.  Only someone like MAD’s Alfred E. Newman can deny them.  Everyone has to face that worry is a part of life.  No one can say, “What, me worry?” But, what did Jesus teach about how believers should respond to worry?…….

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  34  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)

In these verses, we learn that we should respond with faith.  Not a blind faith, but an informed faith and the evidence, from nature, that He cares for those even less valuable to Him than us. When faith stumbles and our situations seem larger in our minds than God’s promises, We should indeed obey Matthew 6:34 but, also find new hope in Luke 12:6  “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God?”

Dinner with family for-my birthday

Additionally, when we lack faith to believe, we are told to pray to God to increase our faith. Like the father of the demon-possessed child, we say to God, “I believe!  Lord, please help my unbelief!” (Mark :23-24). Our faith is frequently weak and feels insufficient and inadequate.  Often our troubles and situations in life seem to over-talk the promises of God, so that God and his Word quickly fade away.  But we must remember that God does not forget.  He even knows when the most insignificant sparrow dies.  We must remember that “His eye is on the sparrow, and he cares for me”.  We are commanded to believe, and to ask for strong faith to overcome our unbelief.  He honors our heart when our mind is not fully “cooperating”…….God grants to us what he requires from us.

These verses also teach that anxiety accomplishes nothing, therefore it is useless and fruitless to spend our time and energy worrying.  Again, our Father knows our needs and is faithful to take care of us. He instructs us to replace our worry for earthly and physical needs with a proper heart-attitude: seeking after the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  According to Jesus, when we have our heart in the right place, seeking God, his kingdom, and his righteous favor, we will have all of our needs met in the process.  I find it comforting that Jesus concludes this discussion in Matthew 6 on worry by acknowledging that anxiety is real, and that we should not just ignore our needs and worries about them.  He says; “tomorrow will be anxious about itself” and “sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  So it is true that there are troubles in this world, and that our needs are sometimes not immediately met, which leads to fear and anxiety.  He knows our trials, but he also knows that our trials need the hand of God to subside, and that is in fact his promise to each of us.

We ought to ask God to take our worries from us, and be ever thankful for the privilege to approach him in humility, boldness, and yet with reverence….and we ought to expect that God will reward such trust in our circumstances with His peace  which will guard our hearts and minds. Easier said, than done!! I am vowing to “pass the test” better each time.

Chuck Swindoll offered a recent prayer on this topic that I will share here….

“We all have experienced anxiety, our Father. How helpful it is to be reminded, nevertheless, that we are to celebrate Your name, Your work, Your power, Your character, all day every day, so that we might come to the place where we revel in You. What a grand reminder it is that Your Son could come at any moment. Find us ready for that, Lord.

Yet we cannot be ready as long as anxiety lives enthroned within us, so I pray that You will begin to do a work right now in the lives of those who love to worry. What a waste that we have spent so long in our lives fretting and worrying. Remind us today and in the days to come that prayer can truly displace our worries. Time with You can become such a magnificent turning point, not only in the moment but in the day—in fact, in our lives—so that we might begin to realize the power of Your peace as it settles us down. Give us the ability, the discipline of mind, to meditate on and focus our attention toward that which is true and noble, reputable and authentic, compelling and gracious”.

And one more great piece of advice from him on suffering;

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NASB) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies andGod of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are inany affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

“I have found great help from two truths God gave me at a time in my life when I was bombarded with a series of unexpected and unfair blows (from my perspective). In my darkest hours, these principles become my anchor of stability, my only means of survival. Afflicted, confused, persecuted, and rejected in that situation, I claimed these two truths and held on to them like wild waves, strong winds, and pounding rain grabbing hold of the mast of a ship at sea. God took me through the consequences and kept me from becoming a bitter man.

Because they worked for me, I pass them on to you. At the risk of sounding simplistic, I would suggest that you not only write them down where you can read them often, but also that you might commit them to memory. The day will come when you will be thankful you did, I assure you. They have scriptural support, but I’ll only list a couple of verses for the sake of brevity and clarity.

Here is the first truth to claim when enduring the consequences of suffering: nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing. Whatever occurs, God has sovereignly surveyed and approved (Job 2:3–6). We may not know why (we may never know why), but we do know our pain is no accident to Him who guides our lives. He is, in no way, surprised by it all. Before it ever touches us, it passes through Him.

The second truth to claim is this: everything I endure is designed to prepare me for serving others more effectively. Everything. Because my heavenly Father is committed to shaping me into the image of His Son, He knows the ultimate value of this painful experience (2 Corinthians 1:3–7). It is a necessary part of the preparation process. It is being used to empty our hands of our own resources, our own sufficiency, and turn us back to Him—the faithful Provider. And God knows what will get through to us.”

Great food for thought! Nancy and I are rejoicing with all of you that we have been given such a wonderful report last week. It is easiest to Praise our Lord when we get “what we want”. It is a better thing when we can praise Him ( and rest at peace) daily in the face of delays or disappointments or uncertainty…..He is never “uncertain”, and His promises are always to be trusted and rested on….. for as long as He requires, for our ultimate good, and His ultimate glory. I thank you for the faithful prayers and unending belief that sustains us and uplifts us and inspires us to be “better”. So many of you have lived these lessons before us, and with us. We take this journey together…whether it be in “health”, or in finances, or in family, or in any of life’s issues….having our faith “exercised”, tested, and strengthened is a great thing!

Now, at the risk of being long-winded….I would love to also share some of the many reasons we have had to be grateful and joy-filled over this past month of “waiting” on God and our ever-present tests. It has indeed been a wonderful month.

Dave and Jules at the beach in Antigua

Dave and Jules celebrated their 6th anniversary by going to a fabulous resort in the Caribbean. They stayed in a breathtaking villa with a vanishing edge pool and I know they came back refreshed. They enjoyed many memories including a “dinner on the beach” one evening (but, alas no piano this time). They are quite disciplined in scheduling these great “together” memories in the midst of their busy life. Also, in June, Nancy and I went to the National Power Soccer Tournament in Tampa, and once again we were inspired by the spirit and courage and energy of these special athletes. This year’s prize trophy went to a totally new team, which was an indication of how far the sport has come. They had custom-designed new competitive chairs that blew away everyone with their speed and accuracy and the whole country is now talking about how to get one. As always, everyone who competes there is a real winner in our eyes.

Ella on the 4th

Next came our July 4th celebration for America’s founding, and as always we gathered the family at our lake house for fun, food and fireworks. I have included a few photos of the kids as well as Dave hauling the fireworks boxes. We put on a “show” that seemed to me to rival Disneyland’s…but who’s counting? Went on for about an hour at the shore and hundreds of boats were anchored nearby to add to the fun and festivities.  What a great night it was. Ashley-Kate was at Skip Ross’s summer camp (Circle A ranch) for her second year, and so she returned after the 4th…but she loves that time there and many other “Amway kids” come from all over the world.

Eric was treated to a special visit to Atlanta by Fernando Ruelas’ daughter, Zoe. What a very special and sweet young lady she is. Some of you may remember that she was born right after Ashley-Kate was, and right after Fernando passed away. He never saw her. It is a special connection for sure, and her “eyes” are Fernando and her smile is totally Angie. We all loved it.

Zoe Ruelas

So, life moves ahead, filled with blessings and filled with fears, and filled with opportunities to either choose joy and faith and trust…or the opposite. The enemy would love to get us all to focus away from our source of peace. He would love to see us fearful, distracted, discouraged, frustrated, angry, and at his mercy. It is always our choice as God stands at the door and knocks. I have been once again given a wonderful period where I can recognize just how much our Lord wants to give us and teach us. I am listening again more than ever, and each day seems a bit brighter (well, maybe a LOT brighter). I am grateful for all of you and pray that you also can learn from some of my journey experiences…even when I am not the “perfect” example of following God’s instructions. I am getting better, and I am looking forward to making even more fruit for His kingdom as He allows me to me “re-made” into the Jim He has always planned. I will keep you all informed as always and I pray for you all as you draw closer to the real source of joy and peace and a “successful” life. Thanks for travelling with us on this journey.

To God be the Glory

Jim


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Happy Father’s Day

At the seminar with Nancy

Well, this weekend is “Father’s Day” in the US. Humorously, it might be the least celebrated holiday after ground hog day….but that is possibly because in so many families, the father is either emotionally “absent” or gone entirely…or is catered to all year anyway (oops), and therefore seemingly in less “need of a day” than the moms! Amen! But that is rarely the case in the families we know and lead huh? So let me wish all the dads a great honoring day, and may God bless you mightily as you seek to  lead your family in God’s purposes and ways.  In our family, I have always been blessed indeed with a very special wife and kids who always want to make the day special. Over these past two years….it seems like the whole family has revolved around my needs!! (I have certainly been high maintenance)…..so I feel like I should give them a “day off”!  Maybe I will look for ways to give them all a month off.

Being a father and a husband is a big responsibility, and I am so proud of all you dads for how you have taken on this responsibility, and how you want to bring blessings to those you love…. in many cases through our shared business. As you each try to balance the roles of father, husband, employee, and now business owner/leader…and learn new scary things too….I am proud of you all!

The "Team"

In my case, we will be traveling to Tampa Florida for Eric’s annual National Power Soccer Tournament, and the final championship game is Sunday (Father’s Day). My best gift would be for a “win” by his team (permission to beef up the prayers?)  Those who have been with us on this journey will remember that their team has come in second so often it feels humorous (well, to some) …especially since they helped start and train the team that always beats them (although always just barely, or in an overtime shoot out!). You all have permission to pray for a better outcome this year as our guys are really ready to win. I see them as mighty winners and warriors already, as I experience and observe the amazing growth of this sport, and the many lives that are positively impacted. 70+ teams now in the USA, hundreds of players contrasted with only a few dozen when they started…over 600 tournament sanctioned games this year, 14 countries playing now, and passionately competing and preparing again for a World Cup…. as well as a Para-Olympics competition. Amazing and encouraging…. and all as a result of a simple decision, a dream, and some hard work, and a lot of money. What’s new?! And often, the real impact on these individual and special people is away from the games, and in what happens inside these new communities of people who are gathered together under this new purpose and fellowship and environment. I will be one blessed father to just be in the room with them all. I wish you could all see it. You know how we feel about these champions…as they are all winners in our eyes.

Family at church

On my health front, I am now in the middle of another round of special immune vaccines and grateful for that opportunity indeed. Another “gift” that such things are available, and that we can “afford” to receive them. As you may have learned, my radiation treatments for the new “discovery” of disease spread in my lower spine area are complete as of a couple weeks ago, and I am confidently waiting a next test (PET) scan in July. We are faithfully trusting the Lord for His continued healing though this combination of traditional therapies and alternative natural boosters. Additionally…and not a small thing at all….my recent brain MRI (as a follow up to the previous issue) was clear this time and nothing new appeared. Praise God indeed.!!…..that was/is a scary one. Stay away from my “brain”!!  Your prayers have been amazing. God is amazing in His favor. And as I write this entry, I am reminded of how many in this world of ours share similar experiences and need similar prayers and a growing of our faith due to life’s many surprises and challenges.

As we arrived in California, we learned that one of our long term friends and a Founders Platinum, Britt, was just diagnosed with throat cancer! Shocking indeed since he never smoked”! The doctors feel it was the result of a root canal on a tooth? Wow! Just today, he began a round of 30 radiations and some chemo…can I relate? Could my “journey” help?? Can he benefit from your and our prayers? You know it! He even has the “mask”… And he is not loving it either! But, we are communicating, and he is a winner, and God is still on the throne. We are a family, and there are always many needs and fears and “journeys” to experience. But, together, and with the Lord, we can triumph. He can supply all our needs. I know Britt isn’t the “only one” who needs our prayers, and that you could send me a long list of others any day, so lets just all agree to be diligent as we pray for the needs of ALL those we lead and love. You are all special and our journeys are linked. We can draw great strength from our shared faith and experiences.

Lake Fun

We all must remember and be encouraged that although this “journey” of mine has lasted far longer, and become more complex, than any of us had hoped or wanted or expected, it is still a miracle daily, as I was faced with a quite serious issue…..especially as it spread etc. We have always known my ultimate result would be one that is under God’s perfect love and plan, and that He is our creator, our comforter, our healer, and our savior. We belong to Him, and we are glad we do. Together, our family, and our greater family (you all), have been on a journey of faith and discovery along with us that would have otherwise not been possible at all! The stories continue to amaze me. Can you see the blessing and miracle in that?? It continues!…. and I am still listening. He is always at work, and always to be trusted. Lets all keep praying and expecting and expressing praise and gratitude…regardless of what we “see”. It is not always easy…but it is right.

Some of the NYC group

On the business front, I am continually amazed at how well we are blessed with a strong team and lots to celebrate. Nancy and I were able to attend and even speak at two recent weekend events (Atlanta and Palm Springs), and what a pleasure and inspiration that was for us. I was right in the middle of my radiation when in Atlanta, and so I think it may have given me an extra “glow”, and maybe added some feistiness! Then we decided to travel to California as we hadn’t been there in two years. We loved being there amongst the people we love, and got some very overdue hugs. We have great memories of Palm Springs as we owned an “extra”  home there for years. Dornan Air makes travel within the US quite possible, and unstressful. Did I say lately how grateful we are?!

Double Diamonds in Sweden - Second Generation Rocks

In between the two Weekends of US events, Dave and Jules went to Sweden to be the main speakers at their N21 Weekend in Stockholm. Some 4000 or more were gathered, and from what reports I got it was an amazing over-the-top experience for the speakers, as well as the audience. Dave and Jules were “just what the doctor ordered”! They so love and are so energized by these international experiences, and we are so grateful and impressed at how they represent our family, but share their own stories. They are really right in the trenches and their message is as fresh and relevant as any in the world. If I could “clone them” I would send them to every event globally (crazy since we have three weekend seminars a year in some 20 plus countries, and in some, like Russia, each weekend cycle is in 7 or 8 cities across 11 time zones). That’s more than 75 Weekends a year! Now we see why we need a great staff….and a great team…. since I cant go to them all either. But they are ALL great!

Founders Council N21 folks in Portofino IT

So, we continue to grow in our faith and our humility and our gratefulness. We are continuing to trust, and seek better ways to lead and add value…and it is working. Throughout this journey experience, I have been given many chances to ponder and reflect on what leadership is about, and how we can assure ourselves that as we pursue our financial dreams and lead others in that quest, we will also be true to the scriptural truths and warnings and priorities that are presented and revealed anew to us. We talk a lot about something called “servant Leadership” in our community. This is not a common or easily understood concept..especially globally. Leadership is so often confused with “abuse of power”, or manipulation of people, or a reward rather than a responsibility. Being a truly great leader…even at the lowest beginning levels where you are influencing others….involves understanding the need to also be conscious of our “character” and our need to be “authentic”, and to maintain awareness of what the Lord considers “important”. We must always seek His definition of “success”.

Dave and Jules with their new ELCs at our house

God looks at our hearts! He tells us to “not worry”, but to “have joy”, and to “seek Him first”, and to “rest in His forgiveness”, and to “lean not to our own understanding”, and to “serve others and love others”, and that “He is the way the truth and the life”….lots to ponder as leaders, and as we pursue our dreams and seek to align them with God’s perfect will and plan for each of us. And, above all, to remain faithful and obedient, and filled with His power. What a privilege.

Here is something I read from author Chuck Swindoll as he offered a suggested prayer on this topic:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”   (Mark 10:45)

It’s a pretty awesome thing, Lord, to be in Your service. It’s a lot easier to begin and run a company, even a big corporation, than it is to serve the body of Christ. As humans, we see the outward appearance, but You look at the heart. We reward achievements that everybody notices, but You reward those things that nobody knows about. You reward motives behind actions. You reward generosity that is never publicly announced. You reward sacrifice, which is merely the MO of a real servant. And so, Father, thank You for the joy of serving You—supporting Your work, believing in Your ministry, trusting You with our whole hearts, and leaning not on our own understanding.

Guide us, O Lord. Our desire is to serve with quality, authenticity, humility, grace, mercy, and compassion. May we serve better in deeds than in words. Make us a people who have a heart for the whole world, not just our own little backyard. Guard us from acts of the flesh, from foolish decisions, from rash actions, from impatient reactions, from selfish motives. Lord, Your reputation is at stake, not ours. We hold You in highest esteem. Our desire is to know Christ intimately, and in knowing Him, to model His life of service in an authentic manner.

We pray this in His name. Amen.

More Founders in Portofino

I think this is a good one to read and offer up regularly. God looks at motives. God looks inside and sees the heart. The better we “know” Him, the better we can be “like Him”. He loves sacrifice, and He loves generosity. He also said He wants us to have joy and a life of abundance. First, we seek Him and His kingdom…and then all other things can be added. As so many of the readers of this blog are in my business family, I know we are all aware of the fact that leadership is an ever-present topic, and the qualities of a true “servant leader” are important for us to embrace for a long and God-honoring success.

Another quality of leadership that might be good to mention here is that of being an “example”!! The number one thing I have observed that determines whether a leader remains influential and effective and fresh…is whether or not he/she is leading by example, or merely managing, and making speeches to others. Leadership by “position” is the least and lowest level of leadership, and rarely effective for long. Here below is another piece I found that does a great job of stating the case for exampling.

The Apostle Paul was offering wise counsel to Timothy….

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity”.  (1 Timothy 4:12)

Andrew Murray wrote, “God has no more precious gift than a man who lives as an embodiment of His will, and inspires those around him with the faith of what grace can do.” When Paul writes, “Be an example,” he means “be a role model.” The first car off the assembly line is a prototype of all that follows. Dressmakers study the pattern, then design the garment accordingly. The word ideal sounds lofty, and it is. But even if you don’t achieve the ideal, it should still be your goal. What Paul was saying to young Timothy was, “When you talk about Jesus, people should see so much of Him in your life that they desire to know Him. When you talk about faith, the evidence of it should be so compelling that they want to live by it.”

A  poet once wrote:

“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;

I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way.

The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,

fine counsel is confusing but example’s always clear.

And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,

for to see good put in action is what everybody needs.

I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done;

I can see your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.

And the lectures you deliver may be very fine and true;

but I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.

For I may not understand you and the high advice you give;

but there’s no misunderstanding, how you act and live.”

Ella with her bears

Nancy and I are so grateful for so much…and much of what we treasure daily is what we receive from you. I pray we can continue to add great value somehow in your lives, and that we can somehow be a catalyst for positive change, a deepening faith, and a discovery that you are all loved by God our creator, and that He has a perfect plan for you. In business, yes, but in all of your life…and it is a better plan than the one we think up for ourselves. I am in a season I would have never invited. But I am more blessed than I could have ever imagined. I must ponder that daily. God is love, and God is always in the drivers seat. And we are His. The King is still on the throne. I look forward to seeing more of you soon as we seek to gain some new traction and a better future than we thought possible. Super thanks for lifting us all up so consistently and faithfully…it makes all the difference.

With love as always…..

Jim

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Still Praising!

Well, it has been a while since I posted any news, and so let’s get caught up. I have been doing great with my assorted health regimens and feeling quite good. My golf game continues to improve (no kidding…so much was lacking) and I am grateful indeed for all the opportunities I have been given to strengthen my body and repel this disease permanently.

I went to Houston on April 12 as many know, and underwent another follow up scan. They told me that all previous areas of concern looked good (hooray) and the Gamma Knife was quite successful too. For this we are all grateful. There was, however, a new spot at the base of my spine which was suspicious, and since I was experiencing some numbness in my foot, they wanted a follow up MRI in Atlanta. We did that…. and now we have just confirmed that this indeed must be treated with radiation. Not so exciting to hear….but I learned it can be done here locally, so I am spared the two weeks in Houston (no offense to my Houston friends). I will begin that protocol this Monday. Once again I must deal with this invader as it tries to find new footing…but we continue to claim otherwise and stand firm against it.

We will be grateful for your continuing prayers that this is successful as a treatment and that we can, once and for all, eliminate this dreaded disease that has been stalking your friend and his family. The enemy is determined… but he has already “lost” to our sovereign Lord. This distraction will not deter us all from our ultimate victory and will only serve to strengthen our combined faith and bring glory to God as always.

Strangely, as I write this, my Founders Council friends are all in Portofino, Italy for the 2012 event. It is weird to miss such a wonderful happening, but I am certain that my place is still here and focused on a full return to health…..I know you and others have agreed. …so for the next couple of weeks I will be again in a machine daily and likely not sending any dream-building postcards….sorry.

Humorously, in between my tests in Houston on April 12 and my results which led to the

Some of our Amazing EU Leaders

new round of treatments….we were able to travel to New York City for the Amway Diamond Forum for Europe, Russia, and Africa Diamonds. Obviously, we have been blessed with a large number of Diamonds in this region so we were excited to be able to see so many key people so close to us. As we ourselves qualified from more than one country as Diamond or above, we were able to bring Dave and Jules along as well to mix with and help connect and inspire and deepen relationships. They know so many of these leaders now, and were just a few months ago the main speakers in Kiev, Ukraine for the all Europe Leadership event of N21…..and Dave was also in Moscow for a huge meeting of 8000+.  They were a big hit there as always.

More Amazing Leaders from EU and SA

What a wonderful few days at the Waldorf Towers and hitting the amazing NYC as only Amway Diamonds can. We had a private cruise to Ellis Island and around the Statue of Liberty, and then a private dinner on the island as it was closed for us. On the way home we sailed by the statue again, and were treated to a private fireworks display. What a night! God is good. Groups did tours of the city, Central Park, shopping, went to Broadway shows, Time Square, and in general, “did the town”! We got wonderful “face time” with so many key friends and met with other company people, so we feel really caught up now. It made missing Portofino easier.

Amway has divided the world into 4 major regions with a President for each. I was able to meet with the new man for Europe/Russia/India/Africa, Samir Biel, and we began a strong relationship of partnership for that region. Then, We were also recently treated to a visit in Atlanta by Amway’s new President for the America’s, Tanios Viviana…another great choice! Warm, engaging, entrepreneurial, and smart. I believe we will see great things from this new leadership. Everything is in place for some powerful growth.

Amway has had more than one “$Billion dollar month” this year, so they are on track to hit $12 Billion soon and perhaps become the largest Direct Sales company in the world. With 1000 patents and 800 pending, and over 20,000 employees, and over 18,000 new Platinums this year globally….the good news keeps coming from that side. The Nutrilite brand has now reached $5 Billion in sales this year alone, so there is much to be grateful for in the business side of life. And in our world….”business” success means people being blessed and encouraged and uplifted.

Maxwells and Dornans Together Again

On another personal note, last week Nancy and I, along with Dave and Jules, went to two great events hosted by EQUIP (John Maxwell’s non profit leadership training group). One was a dinner and fundraiser with NFL football celebrity, Tim Tebow. That was such a treat and an inspiration to see how such a talented and high profile athlete can remain so humble and strong in his desire and determination to serve the Lord and honor Him with his life and his notoriety. Those of you not living in the USA can hardly appreciate this young man’s testimony and example as he was thrust into an incredibly difficult and high pressure situation in the world of professional sports. We had a lot of young people there to hear him speak about his life, his faith,  and his experiences/lessons. We had our Power Soccer athletes there too. He and John were amazing together. He encouraged everyone to find something they love, work hard with passion, and value relationships. Many athletes these days say that they are “not role models”. Tim says:  ”Yes you are!… you might just be a bad one”. He is grateful for the platform football has given him to share his faith and he knows if it doesn’t last, his life is about much more than that. He has already started a major foundation and gives generously. He is quite a story.

Then we also attended a ground breaking ceremony that afternoon with many government officials and business leaders for the new “John C Maxwell Leadership Center”. It is a multi-million dollar facility (all donated) that will host the offices for EQUIP, the EQUIP Hall of Fame, and a state- of -the -art media production and broadcasting center that accommodates 250 ppl and will serve their needs for world class development and training of future leaders around the world.  As a founding board member of EQUIP, I was overwhelmed by this facility and its potential and value to this and future generations of leaders, who wish to become more effective at honoring God with their lives and talents,  and it will be up and running January 2014. I think I will envision some great N21 things being done there too!!

EQUIP has now trained over 5 million leaders during the past ten years in 165 different countries. There are actually 4-5 EQUIP training seminars going on every day of the week around the world now. The goal is to take these “equipped” leaders and move from “training to transformation”, where they use these skills and leadership talents to transform the countries and communities in which they live. Stories coming out of China, Korea, Iran, Lebanon, South America, Asia, and all over the world, would melt your hearts. It does mine, as I see how desperate people are for leadership and what a difference it makes when people discover that “everything rises and falls around leadership”…and that it is learn-able!

As you can all see, the Dornan life is as always filled with great things….. and seemingly “not so great” things. That is how life is. There is always some of each and it is important what we focus on.  I need more treatments…bummer! But, they are available to me, and I can get them near home rather than having to travel…..hooray! I  couldn’t go to Italy, but I did go to NYC.  My life has needed to endure change and uncertainty….but I have certainty in the Lord and I will be better because of the changes. I bet each of you my friends have similar things that you can recognize. What are we focused on? Who are we trusting? What we see? What the enemy whispers? What God has promised?

Faith!

I believe that God is at work in my  life for sure. He has shown me what an amazing family I have as they have sacrificed and prayed and surrounded me for so much longer than they had hoped or planned. …never wavering in their faith or optimism. He has shown me what an amazing business family I have as well. At the corporation we have seen from top down, a  gracious and loving level of encouragement and many offers of assistance. And from my partners and associates and staff/executives, and friends globally….I have witnessed an outpouring of prayers and leadership and accountability and patience. Things actually may be going “better” than they might have with me “fully engaged” as before. (maybe that is a bit unsettling…?). Really…it is encouraging and humbling and it makes me feel that God is preparing us all for something greater.

I am spending time while in this period of “waiting” and “retraining” doing so much reading and thinking and praying and discovering. Jim 2.0 is developing nicely and I am seeking Him in the best ways to apply my lessons in both my personal life and my business life (but is there any difference in my world?).  I am becoming  convinced that we can do so much more to add value for our Business associates through technology, and through deliberate and strategic local gatherings and deliberate mentoring.  As I was listening to both Andy Stanley and John Maxwell recently, we all see the value in going “deeper” with the right people rather than “wider” with too many. Rather than trying to be everywhere with everyone…we can be longer and richer with the few who make it all go.  We can equip. We can duplicate. We can let God multiply. We can count it all joy and get excited about what He has prepared. I know we Are doing just that. I continue to marvel at how well things are going globally, and I thank everyone for being such great partners and applying the principles of leadership and ownership and teamwork that has allowed us to get so far together already.

As I continue to ask you to lift our family up in prayer, I am always reminded of the true value and purpose of our prayers.

I read this recently:

The essence of prayer does not consist in asking God for something but in opening our hearts to God, in speaking with Him, and living with Him in perpetual communion.  Prayer is continual abandonment to God.  Prayer does not mean asking God for all kinds of things we want; it is rather the desire for God Himself, the only Giver of Life.  Prayer is not asking, but union with God.  Prayer is not a painful effort to gain from God help in the varying needs of our lives.  Prayer is the desire to possess God Himself, the Source of all life.  The true spirit of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving Him who is the giver of all blessings, and in living a life of fellowship with Him. — Sadhu Sundar Singh

I just like to keep this in mind as I seem to be in a period of life where I am always “asking”, and I want us all to acknowledge that God does indeed command us to ask Him to supply our needs…but he also wants us to rest in Him and to praise Him, and to seek Him for who He is and not just for what He can give us. This is not just about healing or relief from pain or fear or self-reliance…it is also about communion with our crater and allowing Him to be Lord of our lives. In all ways and in His timing. So, thanks for lifting me up so fervently and faithfully. I feel it and need it. “The fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much”. There are so many of you who are such prayer warriors that I am strengthened and empowered by your support and your faith. These are again times when the enemy wants to distract us with “doubt” and with discouragement. He will NOT. We are standing strong here (most of the time) and I am getting more and more wise to the enemy’s ways. Let me leave us today with something I read regarding this topic.

Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said:
“Put your feet on the necks of these kings.”      Jos 10:24 NIV

When Israel entered the Promised Land there were five kings with armies determined to stop them. But God helped Joshua to defeat them and all five kings ran and hid in a cave. So Joshua told his soldiers to bring them out and put their foot on each of their necks. That day God¹s Word to His people was: Be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight (v. 25 NKJV). What a promise!

Are the forces of fear trying to take up residence in your mind today? Are they causing you to think the worst instead of believing God for the best? Are they telling you that you’re unworthy to receive what He has promised, that you’ll never fulfill the destiny God has in mind for you? With God, your victory is assured, but you have a part to play in it.

You must go into that dark cave, bring each king out, place your foot on their neck and put them to death. These five kings represent your five natural senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching, and God doesn’t want you to live according to their dictates. Your senses are susceptible to every negative thing going on around you, but your faith can lift you above it and give you victory. But you can’t just sit down and do nothing. Your passivity gives them the right to rule you. They have no power over you, except the power you give them. So put your foot down!

Now…isn’t that a great visual?! We must resist this habit or temptation or misconception daily in all areas of our life. What God has for us is not determined by what we see or sense only in the physical world. We are spiritual creatures with a purpose and a protector. Let’s all get out those “kings” daily and together put our feet on their necks. You lose! God wins!

See Y’all soon!

Jim


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Thanks For Asking!

I am grateful for the many ongoing prayers and expressions of joy since my last posting. Indeed my situation is greatly improving and I am in the midst of some full on health-building/disease-fighting protocols now. A very clean diet, and lots of nutritional and other immune therapies to see if I can get my body as prepared and capable as possible to fight any recurrence of disease.

We have long known about so many important areas of healthy living. I am learning to drink more water, I am taking a “thousand” supplements, and I have discovered the importance of “stretching” as I proceed to try to get my body back to “fighting shape”. Who knew how much it mattered to get the muscles stretched in the right way as well as strengthened? And as I said, I have embarked on a systematic immune-boosting series of natural treatments that will continue for the next 12-18 months

My next official check in Houston is at the end of May. We continue to trust God in this healing and restoration, and we are all blessed have so many options to assist in the process. I take this period of my journey seriously and recognize that healing depends on many aspects and actions. My scans were great…but with cancer, we must always be aware of what we are dealing with and give our bodies the best chance of recovery and resistance by attacking medically, emotionally (no stress), and spiritually with God’s promises. Thanks for your prayers as always.

As I continue on this path, I also have been enjoying some stimulating communication with my business family as we seek to take the lessons of this past year, and the opportunities of today’s environment, and seek the fruit that awaits us as we move ahead. Last weekend I had a new experience as I was able to speak “live” to a group of thousands in St Petersburg, Russia at a N21 convention using a two way, video feed right from my offices in Atlanta!  Then just 30 minutes later I was able to do the same thing in Johannesburg, South Africa to another group of many thousands. What a world of opportunity! I could see them and I could enter the convention and feel the energy and watch the recognition of new achievers on stage. It was a privilege for me and very encouraging. I hope it was to them as well.

Maybe we have discovered some new possibilities and ways to deliver needed messages as well as connect with newer people and bring vision and energy to our global community. You can only imagine how amazing it feels when I listen to the people being recognized and see how similar they are across cultures and languages.

To be able to contrast the Russian environment and the look in the eyes of new achievers

Streaming to Russia

with those of my friends in Africa…. within just an hours time…… was inspiring. It reminded me of just how big our business is and how much our opportunity means to this diverse audience. People dreaming again, working hard, sharing success stories and how they have overcome fears and obstacles, and bringing hope to each other through this simple opportunity and through the magic of the N21 culture and teachings. I am re-inspired every time. I see what a difference we can make with people who so badly want “more”…. and are willing to work for it. Too bad so many “outsiders” still think we Just “sell things to people”….or….”just want more money for ourselves”. One peek into the content and heart and substance of these changed lives filled with renewed hopes and dreams and a vehicle to achieve them…and it becomes so obvious that there is so much more going on. Oh well, I am just thrilled that some people do see it and benefit.

I am exercising every day, playing quite a lot of golf, as my strength returns. I am also doing lots of reading and reflecting and planning, with a keen ear to what God directs. But, I am also now preparing to meet our European and African leadership in New York City in just a few weeks for a wonderful company event that will get me reconnected and into the game further. I must be careful as I consider these new adventures so as not to disrupt my rebuilding and special nutritional programs.

We then are pondering a trip to Portofino, Italy for the global annual Founders Council, and maybe even a magnificent cruise off the coast of Italy and France on the Sea Dream Yacht for the North American Growth Council in June. That all depends on my health progress, and what God leads us to do. We will be praying about these trips and may not feel it is wise or possible to take them all. We already have missed many of the things like Hawaii…and we just cancelled our trip to Peter Island that was scheduled this week. No big deal, we will have many more, but I need to stay focused on my recovery and rebuilding, and too many trips will not be smart at all.  But I am grateful to have so many amazing opportunities and, with prayer, we will select one or two that seem most doable and ask for the Lord’s wisdom in these decisions.

Long travel is still difficult unless by “private” aircraft, and not for too long at a time, but we keep praying for wisdom in what is the right balance for my health (both mental and physical). I promise not to over-do. There is “health” for me in being “engaged” and with people I love and respect and can offer value to. There is also “health” in maintaining my nutritional regiments. I continue to seek His direction daily. But I sure can do a lot by phone, email, and video. And how grateful am I that if I do “nothing at all”…everything is still great and the business flows on. What a blessing we have been given.

My Girls

Strangely and wonderfully, in spite of the most challenging year of my life, I have seen God’s hand in so many ways. I have learned and experienced feelings and insights never possible before. Isn’t it strange how He so often uses these trials to deepen our faith and show us His ways more clearly. Just having the urgency and the time to dig deeper into my general reading, and specifically into the Bible will “change” all of us.

What strength we can find in simply emerging ourselves in His scriptures and recognizing how Many promises He has and how much “good news” is there. In my reading I have re-awakened my passion for scripture and it’s value in guiding every step of our lives. Especially when we memorize verses and “hide them in our hearts”. I wonder how many of you are still doing this with us?

Let me share a few things I have run across regarding the Bible and it’s power in our lives when it becomes more than a “decoration” on our table. As you might know, the Bible was one of the first books to come off the printing press when it was invented, and it’s still the world’s best-selling book.

An anonymous author has written the following about the Bible:

“It contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the fate of sinners, and the happiness of believers. It is a light to direct you, food to nourish you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s road map, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s weapon, and the player’s game plan. It’s a mine of incredible wealth, and a river of genuine joy. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Christ is its grand subject, your good its design, and the glory of God its end. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be spiritually healthy. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. Let it fill your memory, rule your heart, and guide your steps. It is given to you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered for ever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and judge those who trifle with its sacred contents.” The Bible is “The word of our God which shall stand forever” (See 1Pe 1:25).

Wow, I love that! I read it many times. I also discovered some interesting quotes from famous world leaders regarding the Bible that some might be surprised to read:

William Gladstone, prime minister of England: “There is but one question of the hour: How to bring the truths of God’s Word into vital contact with the minds and hearts of all classes of people.”

Goethe: “I consider the gospels to be thoroughly genuine; for in them there is the effective reflection of a sublimity which emanated from the person of Christ; and this is as divine as ever the divine appeared on earth.”

President Ulysses S. Grant: “Hold fast to the Bible as the anchor of your liberties. Write its precepts on your heart and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for the progress made, and to this we must look as our guide in the future.”

President Woodrow Wilson: “A man has deprived himself of the best there is in the world, who has deprived himself of this: knowledge of the Bible. When you have read the Bible you will know that it is the Word of God because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty.”

President Abraham Lincoln: “I have only to say that it is the best gift God has given to man.” Like the law of gravity, the Bible will never become redundant.

Napoleon: “What happiness the Bible procures for those who believe it! What marvels it bestows upon those who reflect upon it!”

Daniel Webster: “There is no solid basis for civilization but in the Word of God. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will continue to prosper. I make it a practice to read the Bible through once every year.”

William Lyon Phelps (once referred to as the most beloved professor in America—of Yale University): “I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women, but I believe knowledge of the Bible without a college course, is more valuable than a college course without knowledge of the Bible.”

Sir William Jones: “The Bible contains more pure sensibility, more exquisite beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence than can be collected from all other books in whatever age or language they may be written.”

Robert E. Lee: “The Bible is a book, in comparison with which all other books are of minor importance. In all my perplexities and distress, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “The majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the gospel has its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of other philosophers with all their pomp and diction, how mean, how contemptible are they, compared with the Scriptures.”

George Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Thomas Jefferson: “The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty.”

Horace Greeley: “It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible reading people.”

Patrick Henry: “This is a book worth more than all other books which were ever printed.”

President William McKinley: “The more profoundly we study this wonderful book and the more closely we observe its divine precepts, the better citizens we will become and the higher will be the destiny of our nation.”

J. Edgar Hoover (FBI Director): “Inspiration has been the keynote of America’s phenomenal growth. Inspiration has been the backbone of America’s greatness. Inspiration has been the difference between defeat and victory in America’s wars. And this inspiration has come from faith in God, faith in the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, and faith in the belief that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God. Reading it within the family circle is more important today than ever before. It draws the family together into a more closely knit unit. It gives each member a faith to live by.”

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” 
Isa 40:8 NIV

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Mt 24:35 NIV

So, it seems there is a lot of agreement that we would be well served to spend more time in the Bible. I hope you will consider doing this. If you are new at it, I suggest you start in the “New Testament” and maybe get a Bible with footnotes and helps  (a study Bible). Then beginning to memorize some or all of the verses we have placed here (and read the parts of the Bible that they come from to get a wider understanding). As the simple message of God’s love and plan comes through you can gain a foundation for all of life and a freedom that comes from His unconditional forgiveness and acceptance. Good news.

This year has made us all aware of how fragile (and short) life is, and how much we should

My Buddies

be looking beyond the obvious and somewhat superficial worries and selfish ambitions we sometimes get caught up in. It is always important and beneficial to have ambitions and dreams of course…as that is part of our mission here;….how we can glorify God through our work and how we can give back to others through our gifts. However, it is wise also to keep our eyes on the bigger picture of why we are here, and where we might be going next (and how to assure we get there).

As I read the entries in this blog, I quickly realize how beautifully this business that many of us share has blended the need for hope and community and direction and values to people all over the world who are “stuck” (relationally, financially, emotionally, spiritually). It allows us to enter into life relationships and help each other find true meaning, and worthwhile dreams, and goals, and even rediscover our spiritual side and it’s importance. It is so much more about the “people” than the plan or the products we are known for. That is why I am praying for many more years to engage in this magnificent world we share.

We can help each other to help people and we can honor and bring glory to our God in the process. So simple. As long as we “seek Him first” …all the other blessings can be safely added. And we can multiply our fruits with His abundant blessings and favor. I look forward to lots of new experiences with you all and lots of healthy dreaming and celebrating…..Lord willing! As always….what a blessing to be on this journey…with you.

Jim

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Praise Update!

At MD Anderson before the scan

As so many of you have been so kind as to lift us up in prayer for the follow-up MRI on my tumors yesterday…I am posting this quickly to update you all on my trip to Houston. The results were as good as they could be!

Needless to say, these trips to Houston are always a test of our faith, as so many different things can arise depending on the findings. The docs said originally that the “gamma” might not work at all…and then they must consider other more drastic treatments. They originally offered us the “percentage” chances of it stopping the growth where it was…and said that would be considered a good result. Then…the “ideal” result would be to see them shrink in size and finally possibly even show evidence of the lesions dying off from the inside after treatment (although they said that is not very often the case in situations like mine). So…we were about to find out.

I got the MRI at 8:30 AM and went to the Radiologist at about 11 AM to hear what they found. With God’s great favor and mercy, we were informed by my doctor (with a very uncharacteristic big smile) that it had indeed worked, and, additionally, they had shrunk significantly in size…. and they showed the signs of “demise” we were hoping and praying for along with so many of you. What a blessing and what a gift. And what a relief indeed.

Of course, I will be followed up again in a few months… but I am certainly still absorbing the wonderful blessing of such news. I know that, as with everything, our Lord is the ultimate healer… and the doctors are His instruments (and I am grateful for their skills)… and that my life and future are in His mighty hand…what a relief to know that! Nancy was, and is, a “rock”…. and was lifted by your prayers and comforted so much by all the notes and messages from so many. She was at peace all along, and I was encouraged too as her spirit has always been a great and reliable source of what God is doing.

A couple of quotes I read recently that pertain:

LIFE ISN’T ABOUT WAITING FOR THE STORM TO PASS…
IT’S LEARNING HOW TO DANCE IN THE RAIN !

WE CANNOT DIRECT THE WIND, BUT WE CAN ADJUST OUR SAILS

After the scan

We have certainly been asked to make those choices this year, and again these past few weeks. Dancing in the rain is the gift of a growing faith. Can we dance before we see the sun…or only after? I continue to work to pass these tests of our faith, and I am doing much better. As we each use our time in the waiting room (life’s waiting room and MD Anderson’s), we draw closer to Him and we see the fruit of a stronger faith…which brings peace and joy in the storm. Cool! I am certainly looking forward to some sun too though!

The biggest point I wanted to make today is to THANK YOU ALL! For the endless prayers and the fasting and the amazing show of support from so far away…. as well as my closest buddies here. Let us never forget the power of prayer. Speaking of prayer, I hope none of us forgets that when we humble ourselves and bring everything to the Lord in Thanksgiving, we see what God has provided for us and we learn to trust and rest as we rely on His promises.

Listen to what one of America’s greatest presidents said in his address to the nation in 1863:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, the many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.
We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God that made us!”

– Abraham Lincoln, 1863 Proclamation.

Heading home

One of the biggest blessings I have seen from my “Journey” is the return to prayer of so many, and the awareness that none of our abundance or prosperity or “success” is worth a penny unless it is used for His eternal purpose, and unless we acknowledge and are aware of His hand. May we never be too proud to pray, or to give God the glory for our incredible favor. Being fully aware of the blessings and danger of becoming “intoxicated with unbroken success” (as a nation or an individual), and becoming too self sufficient, or too proud, to pray to the God that made us and delivers us.

Your prayers have been heard indeed.

Can I share one more fun and inspiring story about the great man of God, George Mueller?

I went to America some years ago with the captain of a steamer, who was a very devoted Christian. When off the coast of Newfoundland he said to me, “The last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, something happened which revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. We had George Mueller of Bristol on board. I had been on the bridge twenty-four hours and never left it. George Mueller came to me, and said, “Captain I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec Saturday afternoon.” “It is impossible,” I said. “Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement for fifty-seven years. Let us go down into the chart-room and pray.”

I looked at that man of God, and thought to myself, what lunatic asylum can that man have come from? I never heard of such a thing as this. “Mr. Mueller,” I said, “do you know how dense this fog is?” “No,” he replied, “my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.”

He knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers, and when he had finished I was going to pray; but he put his hand on my shoulder, and told me not to pray. “First, you do not believe He will answer; and second I BELIEVE HE HAS, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.”

I looked at him, and he said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog gone.” I got up, and the fog was indeed gone. On Saturday afternoon, George Mueller was in Quebec for his engagement.

“I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25).

This time, in Houston, God answered our prayers as we would have wanted. When our faith is strongest, we can have the same joy regardless of how, or when, He answers….but we can know that our prayers are always heard and always matter to Him.

You all matter to us in a very big way!!… and we look forward to continuing this life journey together. More later as the Journey continues, and please know how much we are lifted by knowing you are all out there.

Jim

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1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

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Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

As most of you know, we lived in Southern California for many years and we were just a few miles from Disneyland as our kids were growing up. One of the original rides (from 1955) was always on our “to do” list when they were small (and later, for “memories”…though they are not admitting it). It was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Actually, it was not all that “wild”, but it was dark and it was sure scary for the little ones. (We adults had it figured out). Things looked like they were going to crash into us, doors appeared and disappeared, and narrow escapes were the theme until we eventually burst out into the open…..relieved. The sun was still shining outside, and we were at Disneyland. When this “Journey” began for me in December 2010, so began our “Wild Ride”.  Lots of unexpected turns and scary things jumping out. Quite dark in there.

Faith

Strangely, I seem to have popped out into the “light” a few times (Good surgery, clear scans etc)…only to discover later that the ride was not over. My recent discovery made it clear that my Journey would continue for a while. My mixture of inherent optimism, strong faith, and perhaps too much desire to return to “normal” had me planning the burst into the daylight…yes, changed and grateful… but, ready to serve and live and “engage” again. I don’t do “sick” very well as I have spent my life virtually free of any sickness. This is so weird for me, and I think I keep rejecting the thought that I actually got this. And…I look and feel pretty darn good in spite of all the junk and surgery

Then, the Houston trip suddenly and totally unexpectedly redirected us. It was back…in a new place. As I write this, I am pondering and reflecting and listening to the Lord as never before. I now await the next test, and am grateful for the opportunity to attack this newest surprise on all fronts. Medically with the Gamma, nutritionally with immune boosting protocols, and spiritually with prayer and trust in God’s plan and promise.

And yet, I seem to be stuck in the shadows?

We had made our plans to finally be in Hawaii for a EDC/Diamond event at the Ritz Maui. Three years ago, we missed due to the passing of Nancy’s sweet mom. No biggie….we went to Peter Island (just the two of us) after the services etc. and looked forward to the next time in Hawaii. Who knew then that just the next year… we would again be missing the Hawaii trip as we were in the middle of my new “Journey”, and in the throws of surgery preparation, and lots of treatments etc. OK…year two away. Dave and Jules now had entered the world of high achievers twice without us “in the room”.

This year…it seemed we had been given the gift of the possibility to attend. Was I indeed on the “other side” of this battle? Apparently not, and now there were also some new complexities due to the nutritional support I have chosen, and the complexities of travel with so much “stuff’…but we thought it was worked out… and had begun to smell the air and anticipate the golf course.  Hawaii is indeed unique and we never realized how much we missed it. Maybe we took our many, many trips for granted. (Of course we did). Once or twice a year for more than 30 years.

Who's missing in Hawaii?

But the thought of being with our precious little grandkids there, the prospect of enjoying the beauty of Hawaii like never before, the energy and stimulation of re-engaging in the business a bit…the symbolic return to “life” as it was before, and the thrill of seeing what God would begin to show me….all was building up. Then the “reality” set in….we were NOT going! Too many obstacles. The door closed. What did that mean? Two years ago we were seemingly at the pinnacle of our influence and visibility after achieving the 55 FAA award, and even charting the course to 60 FAA. But now we are so absent from the action that we would need name tags to get into the Diamond meetings. How bizarre. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Mitch Sala in SA

Well, the first thing it meant is that I needed to really pray about the whole thing. It was not about Hawaii…it was about my Journey. Hawaii was “symbolic”. At the same time, I was also again not in South Africa for our annual leadership conference in beautiful Sun City. Jeff Neuber went. RD Saunders went for Network of Caring, which has a very strong response among our generous leaders there. Mitch and Deidre Sala graciously agreed to be my “substitute”, and pour their amazing knowledge and inspiration into all the groups there. The Salas delivered their trademark business wisdom and clarity and their unequalled dream building and goal setting skills. Few in the world can handle such an assignment and with their amazing current results on the front lines of growth in Australia, they were and are perfect for that market at this time.  Jeff met one- on- one with all the key people that I would have met…. to listen and connect and bring back all the “news”. Who is so blessed as to have a business team that can rise up and fill in like this?….. and there is NOTHING MISSING. It’s all working fine.

So, I was not in Europe at the big events, I was not in Australia, not in Asia, not in EDAC (Europe’s IBO council), not on IBOAI in the USA, and NOT in Hawaii. And humorously…I have no other plans right now either, until I learn more about the next steps, and as I dig into my full on nutritional and immune-boosting IV protocols. I seem to be “in the shadows”; “on the side”; “under construction”.

Humorously…as I was reading Chuck Swindoll again…here is what he said:

Trusting God in the Shadows
by Charles R. Swindoll

I want to dispense a fresh supply of hope. To help accomplish that, let me suggest four principles. They may mean more to you later than now—in a time when God leads you to wait in the shadows.

First, when God prepares us for effective ministry, He includes what we would rather omit—a period of waiting. That cultivates patience. As I write these words, it occurs to me that I’ve never met anyone young and patient. (To be honest, I’ve not met many old and patient folks either.) We’re all in a hurry. We don’t like to miss one panel of a revolving door. Patience comes hard in a hurry-up society. Yet, it’s an essential quality, cultivated only in extended periods of waiting.

Second, as God makes us wait, hiding us in His shadow, He shows us we’re not indispensable. That makes us humble. One major reason the Lord removes us and has us wait in His shadow is to remind us we’re not the star attraction. We’re not indispensable. That realization cultivates genuine humility. I’m convinced Paul never once questioned God for having His hand on Peter and Barnabas, rather than on him. In a time when most gifted individuals would have been volunteering at the revival headquarters, Paul willingly remained behind the scenes. All the while waiting for his time—correction, God’s time.

Third, while God hides us away, He reveals new dimensions of Himself and new insights regarding ministry. That makes us deep. What we need today is not smarter people or busier people. A far greater need is deeper people. Deep people will always have a ministry. Always. God deepens us through time spent waiting on Him.

Fourth, when God finally chooses to use us, it comes at a time least expected, when we feel the least qualified. That makes us effective. The perfect set-up for a long-lasting, effective ministry begins with surprise. “Me? You sure You don’t want that other person?

I needed that!

In all my reading, I have been amazed at the amount of “waiting” that God has thrust upon His most notable servants. Joseph famously waited in prison (and the Bible kept saying “and God was with him”). Future King David hid from Saul even after killing Goliath. Moses left the Pharaoh’s privileged circle and waited forty years (that’s 40 years!!) in his desert as a shepherd before leading the people out of Egypt. Then he wandered with them and fought with them (and God) another forty years ‘til the Promised Land. Ouch!

Paul waited three years before starting his ministry…. even after the powerful blinding conversion on the road to Damascus. And even Jesus was made to wait about 30 years before starting his ministry and then 40 days in the desert as Satan tempted him.  Our enemy is always there to discourage and distract and destroy even that which God intends to use as a faith builder. Resist him and he will flee. (that was for me). Faith…. it seems…. only really builds in the trials, and the deserts, and the waiting. Alas…the shadows have a purpose. The more we diminish, the more He can increase. The weaker we feel, the stronger He becomes. The longer we are forced to linger…the deeper He can drive us. “All things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose”.

So, you my friends may have your own waiting room. Is it a job you really need? Some financial relief? Is your marriage tired? A goal you want achieved? A health crisis awaiting His hand?…. or a delay/absence in any evidence that God had heard your prayers? (He ALWAYS hears, by the way, and He is ALWAYS able…and He always has the best plan). “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I must say that these days I am deep in the throws of such a wait. In the shadows is not where I have ever been. I have for 40 years been in a “leadership” or “full throttle” position. Always engaged, always busy (sorry Lord), and too often in pursuit of what seemed “obvious” regarding my agenda. After all…I am engaged in “good works”. I “help people”. I build things. I give my God the glory. But now, I must find even more clarity for the remainder of my mission. I am finding that in these shadows… as I must now occupy myself outside of any of my “normal” activities; strange new world for me….. All good though.

Imagine what ideas I might get from Him in this “time out”?! My determination to dream and cast vision and lead and serve and give has not faded at all. I am feeling pretty creative as to how I might lead more effectively. I am even finding great joy in certain simpler things that I was unable to focus on before. There are always great blessings in every circumstance if we will just trust and obey. NOT being in Hawaii…or Africa, or Europe, or Australia/Asia may be indeed just what we all need. The global team, and the business side of things, is going stunningly well. Praise Him for that. What amazing people we have surrounding us. Dave and Jules are fully engaged in their own space with mom and Dad at a distance. God’s plan too?

It is still Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride for me (and this time I am the “6 year old” instead of the parent)…and it is kinda dark in here, and the things that jump out are unexpected and scary. Reading about others in the desert, or in the shadows, was “interesting” before this…now it is “reality” and harder (or at least different) to process. I can only imagine how many of you out there are also “waiting” and wondering about your own wild ride. As we “hang on” together (secure in the fact that our Lord has promised to be with us always, in and through everything), we can know that…. like at Disney…..eventually we pop out those doors, and the world is alive and sunny, and maybe next we can head for something fun…. like the “teacups” or just some ice cream. It will taste really great! (I assure you we will “appreciate” our next trip to Hawaii… whenever that might be).

So as I wait and linger here on the side and still under construction, I am finding a new energy to count it joy, because it leads us to stronger faith and new perspectives and humility and patience and “depth”….and all of that should be really really good when allowed to go to its completion. Stay tuned! I sure am.

Book alert!

On a different note…..two absolutely amazing books I have just read.

  1. “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman. Read at your risk, as it is truly compelling…. especially for us “western” Christians. (also on Kindle)
  2. “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson. Mark is a gifted writer and has other great books.

One of the things we both have always done is read. I sure hope I can encourage many of you who read this blog to do likewise. Now, obviously, I am reading even more these days…but not that much more. There is so much wisdom, and perspective, and insight available…. and it is so difficult to really grow as a leader or a spouse or a disciple if we are not digging deep into great books and the things that these authors have to share. Reading the Bible is first and cannot be substituted as the Word of God is “living”. It will feed us. But so often we need help in understanding how to apply the promises and teachings, and need help through the lessons learned by others who have experienced our similar trials or triumphs. Both the trials of life, as well as its triumphs, can lead us away from God instead of toward Him.  Toward is good (and safe)…away is dangerous.

Unexpected blessing!

With my sudden recognition that indeed my time will be extended around the base camp in Atlanta, and focused on restoring maximum health to my physical body, I find myself “available” for many things that previously were not. With our full and exciting life of business and reward travel, our beach home, and the many “opportunities” and “obligations” that I enjoyed so much, I was certainly never just looking at a blank calendar as I am at this moment. Make no mistake (this is for my global business family), I am fully engaged with my office and fully in communication with my leaders around the world. So much can be done these days with the phone and Skype and other technologies. The only thing different really is my travel schedule. But with so much more time around the base, I have discovered some serendipities for sure. One of them is the chance to participate in, and even host, the Power Soccer Bible studies on Wednesday nights. At Eric and Abbie’s home.

Bible Study

Usually, about 20 of us gather, and it seems to be getting bigger all the time. We usually have 6-8 of the players, their moms or wives or caretakers, and others who come. We often have Logan Saunders (RD’s son) play guitar for some music to begin, and then have a lesson/discussion/prayer time together to encourage and to grow spiritually. Many who come are new at their walk with God, and we have a great time discovering together the joy of a growing faith and new understanding of the rewards and responsibilities of the real authentic Christian life. We want to be “followers” of Jesus, not just “fans”! (See the book “Not a Fan”). These guys and those who join them are inspiring me in a big way. Their walk and their life stories are so different from ours. Many live with life-limiting conditions, physical disabilities, and lots of financial and emotional scars and difficulties…yet they are the most optimistic and determined and hungry- to- learn individuals I know. Their lives and their attitudes are daily seminars to anyone who meets them. What an unexpected privilege to be able to participate in this weekly gathering and facilitate this mutually rewarding process.

Jerry, Pika and Dustin

Let me give you a peek into this special group of friends that is helping me get centered and showing me how they live in their “wild ride”. There is  Jerry Frick: In a power chair from a life-altering motorcycle accident and spinal injury. Jerry runs our Fernando Foundation Power Soccer efforts with Eric and Dave Ruelas, and he travels the US tirelessly to expand this amazing world to those who don’t know about it. Houston, Minneapolis, New England, Michigan, Miami, New York….wherever there is interest….he drives (hundreds of miles) or flies regularly to start teams, visit disability camps, put on clinics, and all that is required to inspire others to get involved in a “sport” that can literally change their world. Everybody loves Jerry, and with him armed as a growing disciple…he is becoming just what God wanted all along. No excuses, no regrets, just passion to help, and now to learn more about God’s Word and plan for him, and those he puts in our path.

Then there is my newest buddy, Dustin, who is our resident “deep thinker”. He is asking great questions and offering his unique perspective on the big questions of faith and life. Dustin lives with his amazing mom, Nell, and Jujuan (who is also in a power chair). Their life is complex and not without its on-going challenges. But they never discuss that…only share their passion to learn, and to do something that matters. Last week Dustin shared that many people in chairs (from Muscular Dystrophy in his case) ask “why me?”. Dustin said…”Why NOT me?”. And off we went to discuss faith and doubt. You shoulda been there!

My Boys Club

Then there is my friend Pika Durant: Pika is from France, and we “moved” him here to the USA a couple of years ago to add value to the sport, as he is perhaps the most skilled player in the world. Many of you have met him at events here and he is “unforgettable”. He is super smart (computers), but he is also a passionate Frenchman… and his energy on the team and in the environment has lifted the whole sport in the USA to another level. He is irreplaceable! He now works with us at Fernando and travels, and teaches, and inspires all he touches. Now, at this Bible study, a whole new side of him is emerging, and I believe God Himself has a very big plan for this man. (Sorry Pika, don’t wanna scare ya). He asks great questions, and he even offers amazing “answers”. What a gift to have this perspective that he uniquely brings from his life in France, and his journey here to the US… and in the midst of us crazy Christians. God has big plans for this man!

The indispensable Ruelas family

Add in some other young players and their moms, a few “able-bodied” souls like me, Nancy, and the Ruelas family, Eric and Abbie…. and the many “visitors” and drop-ins we seem to have each week…. and we have a formula for a lively and satisfying evening with some of the most interesting people in the world. We spool up Kevin (our chef) to make a feast first (gosh, maybe that is why they come?), and when we finish each week, I realize that this may indeed be the high point of it. This “community” grows out of the “sport”, and the way it connects us and them to each other where there was no connection. New players arrive, new teams are formed across the Southeast, new needs are discovered, and new relationships built…. that ultimately allow for God’s love and grace and joy to become known. And suddenly, because I am “here”….I have bonus time to pause and get deeper. Woulda never happened! Occasionally, yes, but not as it is now.

My sweet wife sent me a verse yesterday that is a great reminder of how we can always trust Him and see His blessings in ALL things.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all my iniquities; who heals all my diseases; who redeems my life from destruction; who crowns me with loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies my mouth with good things; so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1–5

David, there, is speaking to his own soul. In effect, he’s saying to his soul, “Don’t be sluggish, don’t be unthankful, don’t be unresponsive. Bless the Lord for all His benefits,” and then he lists in succession six specific benefits.

Number one, the Lord forgives all my iniquities.(sins)

Number two, He heals all my diseases.

Number three, He redeems my life from destruction.

Number four, He crowns me with loving kindness and tender mercies.

Number five, He satisfies my mouth with good things

Number six, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

So, while He has me “in the shadows” for a while, I am seriously being blessed in many unexpected ways. I am getting lots of time to really look at how I can drive the values and vision that have been such a part of what God has allowed us to do globally in business, and with people, in new and better ways. Ideas are flowing. At the same time I am releasing certain “obligations” and distractions that seemed “necessary”, and finding great joy in simple things that actually refresh and deepen and energize me to a greater purpose.

God’s “waiting room” is an amazing place. If some of you are in there too, I pray you are growing in your faith and forgetting not his benefits and promises. God is never surprised or absent.

And in case anyone is wondering….I am not always so “strong” as I appear when writing. The enemy loves to remind us of all the scary things that pop out in the dark while we are on Mr. Toad’s Ride; The “what-ifs”. I have those moments almost every day…but never for long. Do I feel “out of it”? Yes. Getting photos from around the world of my N21 seminars and the friends I miss is not what I am used to…I send photos…I don’t receive them.

Getting golf and grandkid pictures from Hawaii, and knowing that all my key relationships are gathered and celebrating and discussing things (without us) that we have built our life around for 40+ years is weird! Do I count it Joy? Yes to that too, because we serve the God of Psalm 103 and remember what he has promised. He has me (us) exactly where He wants us.

And never forget that Nancy is on this Mr. Toad Ride as well! Maybe even in a more difficult way. She continues to be the silent hero; always fully supporting and lifting and encouraging (anyone surprised?). But just because she does what we all predicted based on her life example to this point…doesn’t take anything away from what she does. I remember one little boy who was scared and his daddy said to “just turn to God”. The boy said he would, but for just a minute he wanted someone “with skin on” to comfort him. I look to the Lord in all things….but, sometimes I too need someone with skin on…and Nancy is there. Right there. 43 years….and still counting. Getting better all the time.

Pray for good reports soon as I get my next tests. I really am doing great and I have all His benefits. We just need to claim them and see them.

Jim

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2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

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Encouraging Update

Returning home from Houston

You all know that I want to always remain joy-filled and an encouragement to you as we travel this latest adventure together. How can I say again how much I/we have needed and loved and been lifted by your endless prayers and love and optimism… we had no idea how much this “connection” would mean to us and I hope that my “sharing” with you in this way also serves as a place for comfort and strength to you and your faith walk. We NEED each other, and God has provided an unexpected miracle and blessing through this new channel of communication. Each one of you that posts back on this site’s Guest Book, or sends messages… must know that they are filed , read, re-read, and pondered for what it means and says. So many dear friends, from so many diverse places, with so much care in their hearts…..what a community and what a God that would give this to all of us. Thanks again for your words.

Now, allow me to give a status from last week as I know many would be quite “concerned” after hearing the “news” of yet another challenge in this journey. The tests did indeed confirm that I am dealing with a new spread that was unwelcome and totally unexpected. Additionally, it goes to say that none of us ever want to hear we have something “foreign” popping up in such a place. But we must remember that God is still the Great Healer and stronger than any attack, and always in control of the ultimate outcome, and always for the good of those who love him. So…we are great…by definition, and by His promises. We are already victorious. The timing and details are His. The faith walk and trust is for us.

There are a few things to be very grateful for:

  1. My tests re-confirmed that there is still no evidence of any disease in the original lower body so still all clear. Yeah!
  2. Yes, there came this new situation, but there are some good options for treatment and the very specialized gamma Knife technology was available.
  3. I was immediately scheduled and now I am on the other side of that….yeah!

It was pretty amazing, by the way. The neurosurgeon and radiological oncologist first needed to take a very, very detailed MRI scan that would look much deeper and finer to be sure that there were not “other” smaller lesions that would have been missed previously. If there were…they would need to use some more aggressive, and potentially risky treatments… so we were set up and awaiting that test early Tuesday AM to see if the Gamma was still an option. It was… yeah! The next step was to be “fitted” for a metal headpiece that was to be “bolted” onto my head so that the scientists could do internal measurements of where they needed to treat. Then they gathered the doctors, and the physicists and spend 4 hours doing the calculations as to how to precisely and exactly calibrate the machine to blast these two areas without harming other nearby and sensitive areas. Needless to say, I was once again subjected to a discussion of all the scary possible complications if something was knocked, or bled, or swelled, or etc. etc. But… really, I did great and although it is certainly disturbing to go through such stuff, it is not that big a deal and I am very glad they have figured out such a thing. See…there really is a great value in scientists and engineers!!. :-)

Following the procedure which ultimately took the whole day…I was asked to stay in Houston in order to  observe the recovery, and they placed me on medicine to prevent swelling. Humorously, when I said “what do I do”…they just told me about all the potential side-effets of the medication, or how to know if something went wrong, and then said call emergency immediately if you have “severe headaches, vomiting, or have seizures!!” Are you kidding? Don’t worry, I will call. I didn’t! Praise God indeed.

Then we popped back to Atlanta Friday afternoon and realized that we have a N21 Weekend Seminar in town….. and so we changed clothes and went to the event! Dysfunctional! Probably! But, what a great blessing for both of us to return from that surreal world of cancer, and machines, and metal head things, and scary possible after-effects….to the world we love so much that is filled with people that love us. That is the “best medicine” we could ever give ourselves.

Now, we simply pray and await a further test at the end of February to determine if “it worked”. Thus is the nature of the world of medicine. They do what they can do, and they do it so well. Then, we trust God for the final results. The question is always about how well we do that part. How well to we do “in the flames”. With all of you continuing to pray over this (and helping us bind the enemy from this awful attack of one of God’s own), we have confidence that this trial will bring forth great fruit in our lives and in the Kingdom, and we are all honored to be used and sharpened and prepared for what He may have next. This is indeed a bigger journey than I had imagined.

Our common enemy in this life wants to derail the great work that God is doing, and is about to do through our lives. One his most used and effective tools is discouragement. We refuse! God is on the throne!

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

My request is that you each pray against this enemy…. and he will flee. Our specific prayer is that this recent treatment will “solve” the problem medically, and there will be no further treatments. The rest is as always in the Lord’s loving hands and together we are already victorious. we still remember to “count it all joy” and await God’s amazing timing and grace.

As I always love to share a few additional thoughts from my reading and reflecting, here is something that I found a few days ago:

A THREATENING DARKNESS

The thread of life is fragile.   A few cells within a healthy body grow erratically and we receive the diagnosis of cancer; a second’s misjudgment at an intersection, and a life is lost; a heart that keeps its cadence for decades skips a few beats and we find ourselves in intensive care; a friend loses her baby during pregnancy; an aging parent shows signs of Alzheimer’s; violence strikes someone we know.  None of us is immune to such devastating experiences for ourselves, our families, or among our friends.  Inexpressible suffering barges in at unexpected moments.  And everyone balances the more common (yet anguishing) anxieties, setbacks, and losses that challenge our ability to cope – conflict at home, financial loss, trouble with teenagers, struggles with alcohol, feelings of loneliness.  No one lives without facing a threatening darkness.

We overestimate our capacity to handle these things all by ourselves, and we underestimate the power of community to help.  Belonging to a caring community, we discover a sustenance that does not answer all our questions or end all our challenges, but which keeps us connected, rooted, grounded.  When the worst happens, God doesn’t promise us an answer; God provides us a relationship.  Through sustaining relationships, we discover that God is not aloof from life and disinterested in us.  Instead, God gets in the trenches and suffers with us.  We are not alone.  God is with us.  God’s presence reaches us through the people who love us.  The thread of life is fragile, but the fabric of life is eternal.

– Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living

This reminded me of how unique and special our N21 global family really is. A community of relationships and shared values and love and respect. God is in that too. He knows we need people, as well as having Him and His promise inside us. He rescues us often “through other people” who he places around us when we need them. Doctors, family, friends… each serving a different purpose.

I have also become aware again of how much we each have the opportunity during our daily lives to be the “salt and Light” that God commands. This role is not for the professional Christians only, nor for the big visible leaders, but for each of us to embrace together. Here is what Chuck Swindoll said:

Since God has called us to be His salt-and-light servants in a bland, dark society, it will be necessary for us to commit ourselves to the task before us. Remember, salt must not lose its taste, and light must not be hidden. In order to keep us on target, let me suggest three statements that declare and describe how to fulfill this role.

1. “I am different.”

Probably the greatest tragedy of Christianity through its changing and checkered history has been our tendency to become like the world rather than completely different from it. The prevailing culture has sucked us in like a huge vacuum cleaner, and we have done an amazing job of conforming.

But servants are to be different. As one man put it, “as different as chalk is from cheese.” As different as salt is from decayed meat . . . as light is from the depths of Carlsbad Caverns. No veneer, remember. We are authentically different.

2. “I am responsible.”

If I read Jesus’s words correctly, I see more than being salt and light. I am responsible for my salt not losing its bite and my light not becoming obscure or hidden. Every once in a while it is helpful to ask some very hard questions of myself. True servants do more than talk. We refuse to become the “rabbit-hole Christians” John Stott speaks of, popping out of our holes and racing from our insulated caves to all-Christian gatherings only to rush back again. For salt to be tasted and for light to be seen, we must make contact. We are personally responsible.

3. “I am influential.”

Let’s not kid ourselves. The very fact that we belong to Christ—that we don’t adopt the system, that we march to a different drumbeat—gives us an influence in this society of ours. Maybe the quaint old “keeper of the spring” was not seen very much, but his role meant survival to that village in the Alps. We are influencing others even when we aren’t trying to act “religious” or preach from a soapbox.

On another devotional I saw this that picks up on this theme of how easily we can represent our Lord in our life and business without “preaching”:

What would happen if Jesus took your place for a year in your workplace? Let’s consider some hypothetical things that He might do.

He would do His work with excellence. He would be known around the office for the great work He did (Exodus 31:2).

He would develop new ideas for doing things better (Eph 3:20).

He would hang out with sinners in order to develop a relationship with them in order to speak to them about the Father (Mt 9:12).

He would strategically pray for each worker about their concerns and their needs. He would pray for those who even disliked Him (Mt 5:44).

He would rally the office to support a needy family (Jer 22:16).

He would offer to pray for those who were sick in the office and see them get healed (Mt 14:14).

He would honor the boss and respect him/her (Titus 2:9).

He would consider the boss as His authority in His workplace (Rom 13:1).

He would be truthful in all his dealings and never exaggerate for the sake of advancement ( Ps 15:2).

He would be concerned about His city (Lk 19:41).

He would always have a motive to help others become successful, even at his own expense (Pr 16:2).

Hmm. Sounds like some good ideas we could each model.

As I read what is happening among my friends around the world as we interact around my personal health challenges, I am lifted greatly by the way God has allowed us all to be in a position of salt and Light to a confused world. People see illness, or tragedy, or injustice all around. Lots of things to make one discouraged or even question “Where is God”?? He is in us. He wants us to be His representatives every day in small ways. When He answers differently, or more slowly than we ourselves might choose and differently from what we personally desire, we must never conclude that he has “changed” or is absent, or worse. He is God. He knows all, sees all, does all. And it is all good in the end. Our faith is strengthened by trials, and we learn how to trust and obey and rest in Him when he refuses to respond like a “Genie in a bottle” to grant our wishes. If he did that, we would be God, and not Him…I don’t know about you…. but that scares me more. We can trust him, and we can lean on him, and we can rest in the assurance that if we have placed our faith in him, he will never leave or forsake us and this is enough. His grace is sufficient. We are the created and he is the creator.

 As  final thought today, I wanted to share one more reading that has reminded me to always trust God in spite of any setbacks or seemingly insurmountable obstacles that we can indeed trust him to deliver us. A good reminder to not just passively await God but, additionally, be sure we are boldly stepping into our faith.

MOVE ON!

“… Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” – Exodus 14:15

Moses had brought the whole nation of Israel, approximately 600,000, to a dead end in the desert. The only thing between Israel and Pharaoh’s pursuing army was the Red Sea. This was after ten plagues God had inflicted on Pharaoh to motivate him to free the Israelites. Finally, Pharaoh had freed Moses and the people, and they left Egypt. They thought they were home free. “Freedom at last,” they said. But God did a strange thing. He directed Moses to take a route that led to the Red Sea, instead of the northern route around the Red Sea. God explained that He didn’t want them fighting the enemies they would have encountered on this route. But still, there was the issue of the Red Sea.

They finally arrived at the Red Sea, and the people were wondering where they would go from there. News hit the camp: Pharaoh had changed his mind. He was coming after them with his army. Panic set in. The defenseless Israelites cried out, ”Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?…It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Ex. 14:11b-12)

God sometimes brings each of us to a “Red Sea” in our life. It may be a work problem that can’t be solved. It may be a marriage that seems to be failing. It may be a debilitating disease. Whatever your Red Sea, God tells us one thing: “Keep moving.” The Red Sea was before them, yet God was angered at Moses and told him to “Keep moving.”

“But Lord, the Red Sea is before me.” “Keep moving.” When we live by sight, we act on what we see. God sets this stage in dramatic fashion. God is into the dramatic. There is no way out without God here. That is just the way He wants it. No one will get glory except God.

You must not withdraw from being proactive in your faith just because of this trial that you are in. God’s hand is on your life. There are too many who are depending on you to fulfill the purposes God has in your life. Keep moving! Keep investing yourself in others.” I didn’t feel like it. God met me at the point of my greatest need once I decided simply to be obedient. Getting past myself by investing myself in others helped heal the pain. 

There is great healing when we look past our own problems and seek to invest ourselves in others for the sake of Christ. This is when our own Red Seas become parted. We begin to walk to freedom. But we will never experience the miracle of the Red Sea in our lives if we don’t first “Keep moving.”

I want us all to be salt and light and remain confident in His perfect plan for us. I want us all to live daily in the small things so that our lives reflect something “different”….a “fruit of the spirit”, and a recognition that after we belong to Christ, we are indeed changed and forgiven and able to show others a better way to live. We first accept His gift, (his son, his forgiveness) and then allow him to change us and mold us and use us. God’s message through Christ is not one of “exclusivity” as some try to say. It is “good news” that salvation is a free gift to ANYONE who asks and trusts. It is so simple and so profound. No strings attached…price paid. Benefits await. Now and forever.

But we sometimes must “Move ON”….we must keep going and keep believing and keep trusting and keep Praising Him. No doubt…praise first. 

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5)

There is only one acceptable way to enter into God’s court and that is through Praise. Why? Because he is always good, his love endures forever, and his faithfulness through generations.

And Hebrews 11:6 says “ And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  

So, we are all praising, and we are standing in strong faith here at the Dornan home, and we are spreading salt and light in the world together ……and God is still and always in full control and on our side for eternity.

I wish for you all a peace in your hearts and again offer deep thank you’s for your on-going love and concern….but please know I am doing great!!….. and God has me firmly in his mighty grip. I may be in the fire, but I intend to come out!!…and not smell of smoke. Lord willing. Looks Like jim 2.0 is still a “work in progress”. Isn’t life great?

God bless.

Jim

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Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

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Pray for Jim

20120116-160737.jpgDear Friends,

Jim and Nancy are traveling today to Houston for Jim’s radiation treatment, which takes place tomorrow morning, 7:30 AM, Houston time (EST). As they were leaving, they asked that we post this request for 24 hour prayer coverage Monday night through Tuesday night. If everyone around the world would pray at 8:00 PM / 20:00 in your local time zone, we could cover Jim with prayer before, during and after his treatment tomorrow. We believe that your prayers during the next 24 hours will make a huge difference in tomorrow’s treatment.

God Bless

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Happy New Year!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

(James 1:2-4)

If you have been following this Journey for some time, you will recognize this verse. About this time last year I was just in the middle of my first round of treatments and trying to adjust to the challenges and realities ahead. Then, with the grace of God, we were carried through the year and experienced wonderful blessings in the midst of unexpected trials. Now, with surgery and my second round of treatments behind me, I have enjoyed a season of renewal and celebration, following the clear scan of October. Your incredible support, prayers, messages and shared joy has given us one of the best years of our lives….. in spite of the many undesirable aspects of such a “journey”.

Now, I am surprised to report that during my latest PET scan in Houston a few days ago, the doctors found yet another sign of the “invader”. So not expected and so not wanted! We were actually planning to go from Houston on to California for a week, and a Conference, and yet now I am instead back in Atlanta preparing for a return to the hospital for my next battle. Please stand with us in the knowledge that God has already won the battle! This is unacceptable and we are preparing to fight once again, but with even more confidence and determination that God is in control and the prayers of so many will be honored.

I am hesitant to share much detail in this blog as it is mostly relevant that you know what I am thinking and learning, and to stand with our family in prayer for the doctors and for wisdom in the decisions we must continue to make. This invader has now moved to the brain and there are two specific lesions that must be dealt with next week. Radiation, surgery and chemo are all potentials and I will be trusting God and the doctors to choose the right path. Again….we will resist the enemy and he will flee. Our Lord is stronger than any disease and he already has His plan for me so I can rest and fight by accepting what he has offered and promised and even done on the cross…and then rest in Him. You can too (while you pray).

Joshua 1:9 (NIV) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I read this from Chuck Swindoll as he was teaching from the book of Job:

Choosing God’s Will:

When trouble comes we have two options. We can view it as an intrusion, an outrage, or we can see it as an opportunity to respond in specific obedience to God’s will—that rugged virtue James calls “endurance.”

Endurance is not jaw-clenched resignation, nor is it passive acquiescence. It’s “a long obedience in the same direction.” It’s staying on the path of obedience despite counter-indications. It’s a dogged determination to pursue holiness when the conditions of holiness are not favorable. It’s a choice in the midst of our suffering to do what God has asked us to do, whatever it is, and for as long as He asks us to do it. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “To choose suffering makes no sense at all; to choose God’s will in the midst of our suffering makes all the sense in the world.”

Where are you today? Where is your journey leading you? More important, which option have you chosen? Are you viewing your trial as an outrage or an opportunity? Try hard not to forget the lessons Job teaches us about ourselves. It will make an enormous difference. As you grow older, keep growing up. And, instead of simply reading about the life of Job, begin living that kind of life.

As James says in the passage above about considering it joy when you have trials, there are benefits and blessings in adversity. We discover the power of faith and we are “forced” to rely on God….the only real answer anyway. We can emerge “mature and complete, not lacking in anything”. I would like that! It is easy and tempting to ask “why”? It can certainly be discouraging and even frightening to face things for which there are no easy answers and no “guarantees” in this life. Some of you may even be wondering what happened to the “good news”? Maybe you (like us) were trying to get “back to normal” now that Jim’s “trial is over”. Remember, what we see is rarely what God sees. As our recent memory verse said: As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

I am still learning to seek His will and purpose and to resist the temptation to follow my own emotions or feelings or desires apart from His leading and grace and wisdom. As we each pursue our lives when these “trials” are at a minimum and things seem good and “under control”, we can miss His purpose and His blessings and His refining of us.

Another memory verse was Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

And in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

So as I (and you) seek his will for us, and his purpose in the things that He allows, let me share something else I read in a recent devotional piece by Swindoll from his study of the life of Job:

I’ve come to the end of my understanding, and I leave it at that. My very existence is Yours, O God. It’s Yours to unravel the mystery, to track the labyrinthine ways, to handle the profound, to know the reasons behind the inexplicable events of my life.” In full surrender Job backs off and bows down.

This is Job’s way of acknowledging his inability to understand why, with no further argument, harboring no bitterness. There is no thought of How dare you do this to me? What do we see in Job instead? A broken and contrite spirit. Do you know what Job finally realized? It’s all about God, not me. Job got it! And what does that mean?

God’s purpose is unfolding, and I cannot hinder it.

God’s plan is incredible, and I will not comprehend it.

God’s reproof is reliable, and I dare not ignore it.

God’s way is best, and I must not resist it.

Have you learned those things yet? Have you come to realize that your business is about your God? Your family is about your God. Everything you claim to possess, He owns. Every privilege you enjoy is granted by His grace. None of it is deserved. Job got all that. The question is, have you?

And something from Os Hilman:

“Establishing this relationship with God is vital to understanding your purpose. If you don’t have this relationship with God, you will seek to fulfill your purpose out of wrong motives; such as fear, insecurity, pride, money, relationships, guilt, or unresolved anger. God’s desire is for you to be motivated out of love for Him and to desire to worship Him in all that you do. As you develop your relationship with God, He will begin to reveal His purpose for your life”.

 ”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.” (Jer. 29:11).

Today, ask God to help you discover your unique purpose.

First and foremost, God created us to know Him and to have an intimate relationship with Him. In fact, God says that if a man is going to boast about anything in life, “boast about this: that he understands and knows me” (Jer. 9:24). I am working on that, and thankfully, God is working on me still.

At the risk of going on too long, I want to also share a wonderful story that shows just how faithful our Lord is if we simply trust and wait for his perfect timing. You will remember that Heather and Ashley-Kate went to Budapest in November. Let me give you a bit of the “back-story” so you can appreciate what the Lord has directed and how we can all continue to put our faith in Him…not in what we see or feel.

For a variety of complex reasons, all communications stopped about 9 years ago between Heather, A-K and her dad. As we now have learned, this all came as a result of some very unfortunate miscommunications and misunderstandings….all significantly complicated by the language barrier. Through these years, all of us spoke well of him and his love for his daughter, but were certainly praying for some return to communication, or clarity about what was interfering with their ability to communicate. We knew that such communications can be a critical part of one’s development as a person of confidence.

So A-K was approaching the age of 11 and still had zero communication with her father in Romania. Heather and we all continued to pray for him, and keep up with his life. We learned that he eventually married a girl who as it turns out in in a wheelchair from a car accident some years before (Somewhat ironic considering our family).  We were sure happy for them.

We knew that they spoke very limited English and all attempts to connect were unsuccessful over the years. But, we simply prayed and trusted that somehow God would make it right in His time. A-K was certainly getting confused by the inability to even write to him, but we lifted them up and asked her to be patient as he would reconnect “soon”. Finally, last year, Nancy decided to draft a letter to him after we learned about the potential source of the disconnection. Her letter was filled with sincere apologies for what had happened (perceived or real), and made it clear that we understood their reason for the separation, but simply wished for him to have the chance to know this amazing young girl he fathered. We sent it and prayed.

What we didn’t know at first (but God did) is that George’ and his wife had recently become quite committed Christians as a result of a connection where he works ( a great story as well). So God was perhaps waiting until we had this deep love of a savior in common to allow for a re-birth of the relationship and communication, without fear. When we received the response from our letter, we were clear that God was now fully in the picture. Suddenly, he and AK were talking by phone (his English had improved greatly since we last spoke), and e-mailing, and Facebooking…what a blessing. What a smile on her face. Can you imagine? Next we planned a trip for them to meet in person and Budapest was chosen.

It could not have gone any better in any way! We received a phone video of their meeting and first “hug”, and Heather kept us up to date on all their activities for those precious days together. They laughed, shopped, played games in their room, shared stories, and prayed. His wife, Anisoara, is as delightful and spirit-filled and warm as anyone could have hoped…. and she got along great with both Heather and A-K…they were like old friends immediately. Only God!

Before they left, he asked if he could read a “father’s Blessing” from Deuteronomy over AK and this was so special….we may not have yet “recovered” from the emotion of that moment. The plans are underway for them to visit us here, and for AK to return to Romania for another visit. I am additionally grateful as they have shared my “Journey” with their church in Romania and all there have been praying as well. What a privilege to share such a bond and blessing, as believers can “ask and receive” from anywhere. I do not know how to measure the impact that this restored relationship and spirit-filled connection will have on Ashley-Kate as she grows to maturity. It happened just as it should at just the right time….but not as we would have designed. It is God’s way.

He is always there, always at work, never dismayed or unable, all powerful, and all knowing, and available if and when we ask.

That same God who created us is working His will in me, and my family. He is in yours too if you will invite him in, and trust his promises, and obey his teaching. In sickness and in health, good times and bad, for rich or poor, now and forever.

I am still on my journey and a new chapter is opening…but I am trusting in the ONE. That is my story and I love you all for listening. God is at work…lets trust him.

Jim

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Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

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Merry Christmas

What a contrast!  This year the Dornan family has been blessed with a dramatic reminder of God’s love and grace as we remember and reflect on what we were all doing at this time last year. Huddled into our little apartment in Houston with all 14 of us and resting solely on faith regarding the months ahead. In so many ways it was an unexpected blessing, and as I reflect on where I am today, I am indeed grateful for the journey I have traveled. Our faith is deeper, our family is stronger, and my perspective has certainly been sharpened by the challenges, the emotions, the unknowns,  and the celebrations of this year.

I have discovered books and authors previously unknown to me, and the experience and revelations have been inspiring and of great comfort. I have begun a long time goal of scripture memorization….. and surprisingly found so many of you excited to join me in this challenge (see my page Weekly Memory Verses). I so hope you are staying with it as I know it can be daunting and even discouraging….but keep going as it will pay off in so many ways. As the psalmist said:

I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
   Psalm 119:10-11

And, at Christmas, we are reminded of the fact that as Christ-followers and believers, we have been offered forgiveness and eternal life…a gift…not to be earned. What a deal! So, as we grow in knowledge and faith, and we “hide his Word in our hearts” through memorization and daily reading, we gain the wisdom and power we need to live life abundantly.

I read something recently that speaks pretty profoundly about our desert experiences and although my life sometimes seems like it is a bit too “normal” these past few months, I must always keep in mind the lessons and perspective offered during the months of detour and uncertainty. Pretty amazing how God allows such times to be used for our ultimate good and His perfect will. I sure hope that each of you has also been able to learn and gain strength and perspective from our travels together and your individual stories of “desert experiences”.

Reflect with me for a moment from the thoughts of a great Christian writer FB  Meyer:

“What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light” (Matt. 10:27).

Our Lord is constantly taking us into the dark, that He may tell us things. Into the dark of the shadowed home, where bereavement has drawn the blinds; into the dark of the lonely, desolate life, where some infirmity closes us in from the light and stir of life; into the dark of some crushing sorrow and disappointment.

Then He tells us His secrets, great and wonderful, eternal and infinite; He causes the eye which has become dazzled by the glare of earth to behold the heavenly constellations.

But such revelations always imply a corresponding responsibility–’that speak ye in the light–that proclaim upon the housetops.”

We are not meant to always linger in the dark, or stay in the closet; presently we shall be summoned to take our place in the rush and storm of life; and when that moment comes, we are to speak and proclaim what we have learned.

Were the forty days wasted that Moses spent on the Mount, or the period spent at Horeb by Elijah, or the years spent in Arabia by Paul?

There is no short cut to the life of faith, which is the all-vital condition of a holy and victorious life. We must have periods of lonely meditation and fellowship with God. That our souls should have their mountains of fellowship, their valley of quiet rest beneath the shadow of a great rock, their nights beneath the stars, when darkness has veiled the material and silenced the stir of human life, and has opened the view of the infinite and eternal, is as indispensable as that our bodies should have food.

Thus alone can the sense of God’s presence become the fixed possession of the soul, enabling it to say repeatedly, with the Psalmist, “Thou art near, 0h God.”  –F. B. Meyer

“Some hearts, like evening primroses, open more beautifully in the shadows of life.”

So it was, and is, with me….. and I think each of us. God uses our shadows and our suffering to bring us to new understandings of faith, and we are then given opportunities (and obligations) to proclaim what we have seen and discovered.

I find myself here today with the keen awareness of the activities and blessings presented

Network TwentyOne Executive Team

in my last posting. Able to marvel at the return to “life”, the “God-workings” in my family on so many levels, and the ability to once again make “plans”, but with a new appreciation for the value of each day. Since the last writing to you we have experienced the joy of Thanksgiving here in Atlanta with family, followed by a trip to “Achievers” in Orlando. Previous to that we also hosted a group of our South African Diamonds here at our offices and home, and also last week we received a similar group from Europe…and then 20 beautiful and grateful Diamonds from Mainland China. What a week that was!! Dinners at our home, meetings in our new offices, one-on-one time, and lots of dreaming and planning and fine-tuning of our year ahead. Other groups will follow in 2012 as I am not yet traveling like before….but we are really pleased to have this opportunity to re-connect with so many leaders that are dear to us, and so valuable to our global mission. We did have (and still do) some serious “catching up” to do and I am enjoying this chapter.

This past week, Nancy and I jetted off to New York City for a few days of light shopping and soaking up the Christmas spirit and atmosphere in the middle of Times Square, and the excitement of Manhattan. In many ways this trip could be seen as the “opposite” of what the real Christmas message is (with the ever-present “Santa”, and the bustle of the city) …but it also was a nice return to the beauty and wonder of “life”, as long as we can keep the true meaning of Christ’s birth in our hearts while we seek to bless those we love with some gifts, and enjoy the energy of one of the world’s great cities. The cold air, the long walks along Fifth Avenue, or Central Park, the dazzling lights of Times Square, the jaunts to Little Italy or Chinatown, the night at the theater on Broadway….what a privilege! (I might never have done that again). I feel like I am seeing in “color” and not just black and white.

We do also see the unfortunate material side of the holiday season, and we are aware of the desperation and commercial promotion of the many retailers as they drop prices to attract the nervous shoppers in this “different” economy. I was again reminded of how blessed we are to be in a position, and in a business, where we are actually growing stronger than ever….and where we deal in opportunity, and hope, not fear. Most are not so fortunate. We even get to travel via Dornan-air as always now, and when we land or depart from Teterboro airport (sparing ourselves the hassles of LaGuardia or JFK), we see a seemingly endless line-up of private jets. Ours was parked right next to one of Amway’s planes, but I don’t know who was there. (Likely one of the family members in for the holidays?) Nancy and I were hit with the recognition of what a privilege we experience as we live in such a way, but we also are conscious of our need to stay focused on the fact that all we have is “on loan” from our Lord, and available to be used for His purpose and glory as well as our pleasure and that of those we love.

For those of you in my “business family”, I sure hope you keep dreaming and visualizing whatever life celebration, accomplishments,  or rewards would be meaningful to you. One of God’s gifts to us is the talents and passions he builds into each of us…and our gift back to our creator is in how we use those gifts. Life is an adventure, and it is to be lived to the full as long as we have breath… but I also hope that our dreams are not just those of “acquiring things”, but also of how we can be the best “steward” of God’s blessings. In my opinion, it is simply the gifts, talents, and opportunities that he provides, along with his favor, that allow for us to achieve what we achieve. My point? Enjoy our life and make the best use of our time and talents and opportunities for sure (as there are plenty of challenges and disappointments and pain), but lets all remember to keep the “main thing the main thing”. In John 10:10 Jesus says; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. He is our provider and advocate. We are in good hands.

In my devotional reading today, I was again shown the great need to be fully aware of our individual responsibility to maintain joy and right priorities whether we are in a “desert” experience or in a time of prosperity and celebration.

Here is what I read:

Have you ever felt tempted to look at your accomplishments with pride as if you were the reason for your success? Have you ever thought your prosperity was due to your ingenuity? Has your material success been a testimony to others that God is the ruler of all aspects of your life, even the material side?

Joseph’s greatest test was not his temptation to be bitter against his brothers. It wasn’t the sexual temptation that came inside Potiphar’s house. It wasn’t even the discouragement of years of imprisonment for being wrongfully accused. It was the temptation of prosperity and ownership. Once he was elevated, he was given choices that he never had before. It was totally up to him as to which choice he would make. Stewardship reveals what we believe about God and ourselves.

Not every man can carry a full cup. Sudden elevation frequently leads to pride and a fall. The most exacting test of all to survive is prosperity. -Oswald Chambers

Do you have a proper understanding of who you are? Do you understand that it is God who has given you the ability to work and achieve? He is the source of all good things. Ask God today if your life models this belief.

Amen! So as I am feeling grateful for my life and my health and my family, I am determined to enter this season and this coming year with a renewed sense of mission, and a more conscious joy for the “little things”. As I reflect on my time with the leaders from far away places, and the on-going reports and letters I get from so many of you, I will indeed focus on what a Merry Christmas this is. Merry to be alive, Merry to have a life so full and rich with friends and purpose, Merry to know I am safe, and saved, and even “Merry” that I ever became aware of my “need” for a savior at all. To know that we are” lost” is a great place to begin. To know that we need help and forgiveness to achieve anything of lasting value, and to know God has provided that gift and that solution through His only son so many years ago…is to know why it is indeed a Merry Christmas for so many of us who share in this belief.

John 3:16 is perhaps the most quoted scripture there is: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life”.

Hmmm….God loved, so God gave, and we believe, and He saves; a Christmas gift for ALL people at all times.

When someone gives me a gift at Christmas…. or any other time…I certainly should accept it. I wouldn’t consider trying to pay for it either as that would be kind of insulting. A gift is a gift. Our earthly health is a gift, and surely the undeserved and free offer of eternal life is the ultimate gift.

Nancy and I so love our big global family! Your prayers and your loving encouraging messages have been life-giving to me. I pray that you each have a blessed time this season, and that your years ahead are filled with joy, rewards, purpose, satisfaction, humility, great faith, and even the gift of salvation, as we continue our journey together into 2012.

As Paul said so well:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12.13)

Thanks for being there this year. Without you, my Lord, and dear Nancy, I would have been lost! We all have the gift of opportunity and the power of God’s promises with which to face the year ahead and dream of what we can do or become. With our eyes on the Lord and his wisdom and direction, we can expect to prosper and have joy as we trust and obey. What amazing things can happen in one year! And we can count it all joy because he lives.

Merry Christmas to all.

Jim


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Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

I have hidden your word in my heart
  that I might not sin against you.

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Psalm 145:8 (NIV)

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
  slow to anger and rich in love.”

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Blessed Indeed

Time with Rich

Well, it has been about a month since I reported the “All Clear” and my life is beginning to be more “full”. Many have been asking about the latest happenings so I will try to get you caught up on our activities and thoughts this past month. I continue to pray that as I am more and more able to engage in “life”, I remain fully aware of the blessing of my health….and seek daily to use it for good purposes and abundant living. With so much “available” to us, I must always pursue God’s voice and direction and wisdom in selecting my priorities. So must we all.

Heading to Chicago on the Gulf Stream

Right after returning from Houston, we were asked to address a global Amway management conference in Chicago, and two days later we were asked to go to Michigan for a special taping with Rich DeVos and a few of us “long term” stakeholders in this business. What a unique and special time. Whenever we are around Rich, we are reminded of how much love and respect we have had for so many years as we have followed him and his vision in life. it was a very special day indeed. Amway provided one of their Gulfstreams for the journey and it made it very special. Dave and Jules joined us in Chicago as Dave was asked to be a part of the marketing and partnership presentation. Busy days, but honored to be asked and grateful for the ability to do something other than medical tests.

Headed off to Work

Then we immediately went to Panama City Beach for a BBS (we do certain things for our “kids” that might be otherwise off the calendar). Down and back the same day on Dornan Air. The very next day we scheduled to go to Pebble Beach to participate in the John Maxwell Golf event for his Equip Foundation of which I am a board member. We have attended this wonderful fund raising event for 10 years and thought we would need to miss this year. With my health OK (but my “swing” questionable as usual) we decided to join in. Dave and Jules have been regulars there too for four years now (contributing their own money of course). So it was off to Calif with the grand kids in tow. Gosh we love that place!! It is always a high point of our year to see what God is doing with great ministries around the world, and to be with people who are making it happen. This year we heard from a man who is leading some amazing ministry activities in Iran!

Pebble Beach 18th hole

The trip was “extended” due to an opportunity to spend a few extra days with Amway execs and discussing business of the future. What a treat…..8 days in one of God’s most beautiful spots. Shopping in Carmel, dinners etc in the quaint town, world class golf (trust me, it is truly a golfers paradise), and even some great ministry time, and business chats. A very powerful, restoring,  and even productive week or more…. and I was so grateful to be experiencing it after recognizing how easily it might never again have been  the case. God has been so good to me. As we sat by the fire pits at sundown and watched our little granddaughters marvel at the bagpiper, and then head out to dinner or a ministry event….we were overwhelmed with God’s grace and fully aware of the magic of places like Spanish Bay and the privilege of being there. I hope each of you has a place like this that you can feel the presence of God. If not, let’s go to Pebble Beach together sometime. ;-))

In the middle of our Pebble Beach days, Jules got a call that her father was extremely ill in northern Canada and might not “make it”. As many of you may know, Jules was raised by her mom and hasn’t seen or heard from her dad since she was about 2 years old. A long and unfortunate story of course, but although he was ill for many years, you can only imagine the emotion of this contact. Jules and Dave immediately went to Canada to see him. It was a huge blessing! There were also her two half brothers and one half sister to see, and, as you can only imagine…. it was quite a “reunion”. Jules was able to offer God’s special love, forgiveness and grace, and was passionate to share the gospel with all. After returning to Atlanta, she got a call just a week or two later that he had indeed passed away. Back to Canada she went for the funeral and such, and is only now returning to share with us the details of her final visit. I know that during the service, her words would have been truly of the Lord, and the “healing” and closure would have been something that only God could engineer and allow her to be a part of as he did. she was not only allowed to see him unexpectedly before he died….but to assure him of her love (and God’s plan for salvation) and to share with him that she had “turned out great”.  I know that this was a miracle indeed.

We were marveling and chuckling a bit about the crazy family we have spawned. After returning from Pebble, we realized that life had indeed reversed a bit (Everyone traveling and mom and dad at home). Last week we noted that Dave was in Moscow speaking to about 9000 Network 21 Russian IBOs (one of 7 locations this month in that country alone). At that same time, Eric was in Paris France attending the Power Soccer World Cup matches. We just learned yesterday that the USA has indeed won the World Cup again (held every 4 years) and has retained the title by beating France in the semi-finals and beating England in the final match Sunday.

While Eric was in France, Abbie was in the Philippines visiting her extended family and her mom. She has been enthusiastically running among the relatives and praying for people and sharing her passion for the Lord and what He has done for her and all of us. She was even able to have some great and fruitful witnessing moments with her mother who has been ill for many years there. We hope you join us in lifting Abbie up in prayer as she connects with these dear people and tries so hard and wants so much to be a “light” in their world. It is so obvious when we are in these environments what people really need. With all of that, Heather is also about to leave for Europe with Ashley-Kate. A wonderful story as well! We will have more to say on that in my next post when she is back. And on the business front, we were unable to make the long trek to Australia (our first miss of a National Convention in 20 years!) so Bob Andrews and Louie and Kathy Carrillo were kind enough to “fill in”. They were a big hit! Mike Wilson and Ray and Karla Keller went to S Africa and made that one a huge success….. so all was moving along while I am still recuperating. Russia, Australia, Africa, and all around the world we have seen family and friends keep the ship afloat and do the work of our Lord as is His perfect design.

So….we are at home, smiling…..and all of our loving family is scattered around the world! Who knew?!

I am so proud and happy for all of them. Jules has been heroic in finding a way to handle this potentially difficult time in her life as she so suddenly both re-connected with, and “lost”, her dad after a lifetime of no contact. People are complex and so often hurting in ways we don’t know…..and there is always a reason when relationships break down or communication ceases, and we have learned not to judge anyone or anything too quickly. Jules was able to use and rely on her wonderful faith, and beautifully approached this time as a time to heal and show His love….both to her dad, and to those around him that she really didn’t know either. I believe she was and will be a wonderful light and healing presence in their lives. God is using her mightily.

Kiev Opera House - Emerald / Diamond Forum

Dave was his usual irresistible self I am sure, and I know Jules was happy he was able to be there in Canada with her (no pesky job or “boss” to keep him away). I was also so proud of him as he represented the Dornan family at the big event in Russia. I have heard great feedback as always on his visit. The speaking is always great as Dave is gifted there. But he also shares his clear love and vision for the people and the future, and he exhibits humility and an obvious serious “work ethic” as he shares from his life to add value and hope to others. Just the month before, they were both in Kiev, Ukraine representing Nancy and I again, and acting as featured speakers for our European Emerald and Diamond Forum. Imagine nearly 1000 top leaders from 19 countries in Europe, along with the Nussholds, Salas, and Angie Somers and the three Founders Council members of Ukraine spending days learning and dreaming together about the future plans and strategies. We have a photo here of the Kiev Opera House where the event was held. It was a blazing success “without us”.

Eric and Aleksey and Pika in Paris at the World Cup with new Ukrainian player

Eric continues to see the fruit of his activities and passion for Power Soccer and we are grateful to those of you who have shared this passion and vision with us and Eric. Your prayers, encouragement, and financial contributions have indeed taken this idea to a global level. 14 countries were there and Eric was cheering them all on. Dave Ruelas as always is right in the middle of it all. This year, Aleksey and Vera from the Ukraine came to the World Cup along with the new Network of Caring rep for their country and a future Power Soccer player looking on. We have been so grateful to Aleksey and Vera for deciding to work and invest to bring Power Soccer to Ukraine. Can we even imagine the changed lives that can result?

Heather with her Trainer

One more thing as I brag on my kids…..Heather has recently decided she would get “in shape” and began a training routine about 4 months ago. The change and results are truly heroic. This was never Heather’s strongest area of interest so it is even more impressive to me. She entered a fitness competition with hundreds of competitors (most of whom are in the fitness profession) and just this weekend she placed impressively high …especially as a “first timer”. Those of you who know our daughter will cheer her on and know this was a great accomplishment for anyone…but especially to see this new “Heather 2.0″. I am actually intimidated as I only lost weight but as yet don’t have anywhere near that muscle definition…. and she has inspired me. How about you?

One more personal note: Eric and Abbie are now planning to adopt a child (or children) so the process has begun. We are praying for this whole situation big time and perhaps you will as well. It is always complicated, unfortunately, and the delays can be significant. Also, there may be other hurdles do to Eric’s health history, but we know and believe God already has a plan. Perhaps even some of you may know of a situation that would fit well. They will be excellent parents as they both love kids, are around our grandkids all the time and have their full-time focus ready to roll. Imagine the world they could bring a child into! Color, gender, or nationality don’t matter as the Dornan world is already like the United Nations! We ask you to join us in prayer for this. God will provide….but he also uses people like you…and we know so many who care! Remember how Eric “found” Abbie. A friend from the business simply suggested one day that his wife’s sister might be a great fit with Eric. What a long shot! She was living in Belgium, and we had not ever expected such a suggestion…and the next thing we knew…they were getting married. We see their quest for a child in the same way. What miracles await? Maybe even one of you will be God’s instrument in placing them with a child.

So, as I reflect on this past year and especially on these past few weeks of “release”, I am fully aware of how blessed I have been on so many fronts. The Amway management team and ownership have been very kind and supportive throughout. Lately, it seems we have been playing “catch-up” and that is actually pretty healthy. My global team of leaders and staff has been heroic and the ship has been sailing smoothly. I am eternally grateful to all of them and you for being so dependable and solid and faith-filled throughout the recent difficult months. My kids are living their lives and growing in all areas and are always ready to drop it all when Nancy or I need something. And Nancy has been “wife of the century!”… A prayer warrior, and a rock as you know. I have loved seeing that she can finally do some of the more “normal” things that make life full and interesting, and to see her with a lighter heart and us having chats with each other about what we want to do “in the future!” I must commit to making her more of a priority than ever as this year has shown us both clearly what matters. We have done life in all its ways together for 44 years (since college days)…and we pray daily that the Lord will see us through many more. This is just one more “notch in our belts” of life challenges and life-changing experiences that God has used to help us grow in our faith and our awareness of Him. I truly hope we don’t need too many more scary ones tho. When you see Nancy….thank her for me. And when you see either of us…keep praying as we may need it more than ever to not miss the harvest God has planned.

This will be another busy month as we host some leaders from around the world at our home, and as we see many of our US teammates in Orlando in a few weeks. My strength and original vitality (energizer bunny) gets better each week so I am encouraged in so many ways. Health is so very precious and so very fragile. Take care of yourselves!

Final thought……I pray that you are gaining as much as we are from the scripture memorization challenge. Please let me know what you are experiencing. I love reading all the messages you send or post in my Guest Book.

Thanks and God bless you all!

Jim


 

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John 14:1 (NKJV)

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

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Romans 3:23

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

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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.

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Psalm 30:5 (NIV)

“For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

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Amazing Grace!

I am so very happy to report to you that after my recent tests in Houston, I have been declared “CLEAR”….no evidence of disease. As you can only imagine, our whole family is eternally grateful to God, and rejoicing at such news after so long a battle. I must be especially pleased for sweet Nancy who has endured such a difficult year…she has been “the rock” like never before. She truly has no equal! I think I will need to find some ways to make her life lighter for a long while. You all can help as always.

As I shared previously, we were standing on God’s promise and the recent encouraging messages we have received including the one on 700 Club….but as our Lord is sovereign, we always must await His revealed Will and favor each day. On Wednesday, my scan went very well and I was out of the hospital by 10:30 AM, but we do not ever hear results until the next day. So dear Nancy and I went to the mall in Houston, had a bit of lunch and some “shopping”….lots of prayer throughout the day…. and back for a sleep. Then we went to see the doctors at 7:30 AM. The first words we heard when they came in to see us (he actually smiled) was that my scans were “squeaky clean”! Now, that is just how our God works….and we give Him all the praise and glory for this amazing gift of health. The doctors, surgeons, and the giant world-class medical center are a big part of the answer…and I am eternally grateful for them all… but only our Creator and Savior can ultimately decide how many days we will have here in which to serve and enjoy. He apparently is not done with me yet.

It was particularly impactful to me that as I was in MD Anderson awaiting my results, the news and all TVs were filled with the announcement of the death of Steve Jobs (founder of Apple for those who are not too techie) from Cancer at the young age of 56. Pretty thought provoking. A great reminder that no matter how rich or famous or connected or smart…or how many others think you might “deserve” to be alive…..we are all fragile and not promised tomorrow. He was able to beat his enemy for eight years which was longer than many thought….but ultimately, he lost that battle. Those of us who have placed our trust in Christ have  the promise of eternal life, so even death is not final. I pray that Steve somehow found the Lord as well, but I have no evidence that he did. That is what makes me sad. His impact here was certainly amazing.

Many of you have been so kind as to say that you “knew I would beat this”, and I love the optimism, and your belief that I am “strong” and maybe “deserve” to live long. But I believe that my life is simply available for God to direct and preserve as He sees fit, and I depend on Him for each day (even more consciously now) …and remain so grateful for this “borrowed” time and second chance. Life is so precious as are those that we love…so what a blessing to be allowed to have more time and to awaken each day with renewed energy for life. Yes, I believe that positive thoughts are powerful and sometimes healing, and I believe that God often rewards us for our service and faith and testimony. But I also know well from scripture that we are not the ones in control (sounds great to me as I have no interest in competing with God), and that God is not a “respecter of persons” (Acts 10;34), which simply means he does not “favor” some people over others as he made and loves us all equally. His favor on me today is amazing.

I imagine it will be a few weeks (or months) that I will be adjusting to this latest answer to prayer, and to the impact of this past year on my life ahead. How can you not be “different”? As we have discussed before, when God sees us through a “desert” experience, we must not miss the blessings and lessons available. This past year has been filled with so many emotions and new experiences that I may be the rest of my life sorting it all out with God’s help.

A few things that occur to me that should be considered when life surprises us (in health, finances, relationships, etc) and sends us into the desert for a season:

1. Could we have any responsibility in this dilemma?
In my case, disease is often the result of lifestyle choices and their consequences; our diets, our ability to deal with stress, and our environment. With Cancer, we know that things like smoking are known to increase risks dramatically, yet I have never smoked at all. But there are certainly things I will do differently or more deliberately now to build up and protect my immune system…how about you? Yes, people who do it “all right” still sometimes get cancer, and people who do “everything wrong” often don’t get it. But shouldn’t we at least learn to take responsible care of our mind and body such that we do not contribute to our problems or our risks? I think so. Simple things like taking your supplements daily (sorry, I sound like “mom”), drinking lots of good water, getting a bit of exercise regularly, and dealing with stress as God commands by giving the problems to Him. And in my case dealing with “acid reflux” early rather than ignoring. (Any others of you “guilty” of this one?)  Our health is more precious than anything and we can impact it a lot by ourselves… so we don’t have to “blame” God when things go wrong.
2. Could God be at work in my life?
Look at what is written in John chapter 9: 1-3; “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him”. So often in my experience, God uses such detours and faith-demanding experiences in our life to prepare us for greater service. It is only when we are broken or in crisis that we seek Him and listen and are able to be molded and strengthened and improved. Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. So, although God is highly unlikely to be the source or instigator of any such troubles in your life, we live in a broken world, and so He will always use such situations for the ultimate good of those whole love and trust in Him. He is at work. He may not “deliver us” from the fire, but he will deliver is in the fire. Who are we to complain? How does the pot complain to the potter?

3. Don’t trust your feelings.
Your feelings will tell you, “God has rejected you. Abandon hope. He has left you utterly alone.” Feelings change; God never changes. Feelings come and go; God is always with us. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). God is not mean and distant, and he doesn’t play Monopoly with our lives. He has a plan for each of us, that is good and not evil, and he is writing an on-going story of redemption with each of our lives. None of us is more special than another to Him. We are all special and He never changes so He can be trusted in ALL things and circumstances. How comforting huh? Even when a big impressive highly “educated” medical person or institution says we are “in trouble”….we can still and instead look to our Lord for what he says and what he promises….. and he says if we “ask” and “knock” he will answer. Feelings and emotions are what make us human (me too) but his eternal Word keeps us safe and secure.

4. It is not just about me (or you)
God loves to define us (or re-define us) and define us and prepare us so that we can be most effective in the work he has for us to do. Often, our own adversity is used to create benefits and influences and blessings in other people’s lives that you or I may influence or touch in new ways. Imagine the empathy I now have for those in health (or any) crises. Imagine the new awareness and awakened passions and adjusted or energized dreams. I can be thankful for the ability to see “in color” instead of black and white because I can be a better and more useful leader or husband or father etc. We rarely “grow” much during prosperity. If any of us wants to be a leader or influencer or comfort to others…we must first be molded and broken as only God and certain adversities can do. Then we can be better and wiser and more able to connect and communicate. Like most of you, I still don’t “like” this reality…but I do understand it more each day.

5. Don’t rush the process
Joseph was thrown into the pit and sold by his own brothers as a slave. (Can you imagine this?) He was dragged off to another foreign land, and labored and was imprisoned for years. He was separated from his family and his father thought him dead, but God was at work and he was eventually elevated to second in command of all of Egypt. He was then able (17 years later) to save his family and people from starvation. There really was little he could do about his situation, and it was likely the very fact that he was left there so long that made him so useful and effective later.  He couldn’t climb out, jump out, levitate out, or talk his way out. All he could do was pray, trust, and wait upon the Lord. (And he didn’t even have a Bible to read!)

I was sure hoping (and expecting) to be done with my treatments after the surgery. It seemed to me I “had already received my lesson”, but God allowed another season of uncertainty and a prolonged test of faith. I may have learned and grown and deepened the most during this extended stay in my desert. I am still actually in need of on-going re-testing in another 3 months, so isn’t it wonderful that I have the privilege of standing on faith daily as I remain aware of my need for God’s grace and power to keep the enemy at bay. This is a disease that always “lurks”, but God is stronger than any disease.

6. Lean on the Lord always
I read this recently; “Even when you don’t feel like praying, pray. Even when you don’t feel like reading His Word, read. Even when you don’t feel like singing songs of faith, sing. When you pray, don’t just talk; listen. Be silent before Him and listen for His still, quiet voice”. It is so easy to get involved in the “dailyness” of life and forget to lean on Him. Challenges, weaknesses, fears, threats, uncertainty …all contribute to an awareness of the completeness of God’s promises. We can dream and work and celebrate…but we should “acknowledge him in all ways…and he will make our paths straight” (Proverbs 3)

7. Be alert to new truths and new perspectives
As with me, these unexpected and unwelcome challenges in life (especially the “life-threatening” kind) are most often a source of amazing new strengths and perspectives and discoveries. We learn to see people and issues with a new lens. We see life as a gift to be appreciated and used to the fullest. I know I plan to.

So….today, I am especially amazed by the Amazing Grace of God. My situation could have resulted in a very different outcome this week. I pray my faith would have been equally strong and my praise equally loud if the report had not been so good. “Reports” are just that…reports of man. God makes his own report to our hearts every moment of day. We will choose to listen to those.

Let me sign off today with the well-known words of John Newton’s beloved hymn. Although he lived long ago from 1725-1807, these words express timeless truth and great comfort and power still today…..

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

And am I grateful for your continued love and prayers for our family?? YES!…but never enough.

Jim

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John 8:32 (NIV)

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

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