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Change is necessary – it’s part of life.

And most people would say they want change in their lives. They want circumstances to change, people to change, the world to change… And it seems it rarely occurs to us that we need to change.

The truth is, you probably have a lot more to do with change happening than you realize. You can’t keep doing things the way you’ve always done them and hope or expect to get a different result.

For years I tried to make things in my life change and didn’t get anywhere. I would read the Bible and try. I would go to church and hear a message and try. Then I would tell God how hard I was trying, thinking maybe He’d feel sorry for me. And then I would go into my “drama” and say, “I just give up, God…”

The problem was, I was “trying” in my own strength, and I needed God’s help. I needed to realize the truth about myself and my situation before I could get His help and see results.

How to Change Your Life

I’ve discovered that things in your life will change when you first change your mind. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world…but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God…” (The Amplified Bible).

So how do we renew our mind? With the Word of God! It is full of life and has power to change us. But we can’t just read it and expect to be victorious Christians. We have to study it.

Think of it this way. You wouldn’t go to a doctor who didn’t study, would you? And no one expects to become a doctor without studying.

It’s the same way for us. To really know the Word of God and be changed by the Truth, we have to study. And we have to be patient and persevere. I thank God for what I know, but it’s taken more than thirty years for me to know it. And I’m still learning every single day.

What Are You Meditating On?

Part of studying is meditating – rolling something over and over in your mind or pondering it. If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. It’s usually not hard to meditate on a problem all day long, if you let yourself. I call this kind of thinking “stinkin’ thinkin’.”

We don’t really know how messed up our thinking is until we study God’s Word and realize what we should be thinking. The Word is like a mirror – it shows us the way we should be and the way we are. Until I looked in the Word, I thought everybody else was the problem, not me.

So, what’s been on your mind lately? Stop and think about what you’ve been thinking about. If it’s stinkin’ thinkin’, change it. The good news is, you can think whatever you want to think.

You can change. Everything is subject to change except God Himself.

But you have to stop wasting your time saying things like, “My life is never going to change. My finances are never going to change. My marriage and children will never change…”

Start saying what the Word says: “All things are possible with God. And I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!” And think about good things so there’s no room for bad things.

Do your own thinking – don’t let the devil do it for you.

Finally, be daring in your prayers. Be bold and tell God, “I want You to change me. I want You to use me to change anything in the world that you want to use me for. I believe that You can change anything – me, my circumstances, my family, my marriage, my finances – there’s nothing You can’t change. I know change won’t be easy, but I’m committed to be where You want me to be at all times. I won’t sit here and give in to stinkin’ thinkin’ anymore.”

This article is taken from Joyce’s four-CD series, Change.

 

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Facebook Gets A Facelift

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The New Facebook News Feed: What Users, Businesses, and Developers Need to Know

The New Facebook News Feed: What Users, Businesses, and Developers Need to Know

 Yesterday, at an event at their Menlo Park headquarters, Facebook unveiled a radical redesign of their core product: the news feed. Unlike Graph Search or Gifts (two of the last big products that Facebook’s unveiled), the news feed is not an “extra,” if you will, in the film of Facebook. The news feed is the star of the Facebook experience. Sure, whenever Facebook announces a brand new product it’s a big deal, but when Facebook announces changes to the most vital part of the user experience, it’s a massive deal.

“Our mission is to make the world more open and connected,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Thursday’s event. “[And] news feed is one of the most important services that we build.”

“Our goal…is give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper.”

Were you ready for a news feed refresh? What are your first impressions? Let us know in the comments.

The new Facebook news feed is “designed to reduce clutter and focus more on stories from the people you care about,” says Facebook. “We’ve completely rebuilt each story to be much more vibrant and colorful and highlight the content that your friends are sharing. Photos, news articles, maps and events all look brighter and more beautiful.”

And that’s one of the main things that this news feed refresh is all about: an enhanced visual experience. Along with content-specific feeds that give users more freedom and mobile consistency, that makes up the three key points about the new news feed that Facebook hammered home on Thursday. Here’s what you need to know about what’s changing.

A More Visual User Experience

So, what’s going to change for the average user? Quite a bit, actually – both in how it looks and how you actually navigate around the network.

First, the desktop look. It’s cleaner, more visually stunning, and yes, it feels a bit more mobile-inspired. Everything is more photo-oriented, and those photos are given much more prominence inside the news feed. Photos that your friends post are huge, spanning all the way across the feed. Photo albums are also larger. Facebook says that they want to be able to make the story, as it appears in the news feed, more visually indicative of the experience. For instance, this story about a friend going to China gives a big, bold, photo-oriented snapshot of the trip:

And it’s not just photos from friends that are more visual. It’s shared articles, which feature larger images and more information like snippets and author & publication info:

And events:

And links that your friends share, which now feature profile cards on the left-hand side that show you exactly who has shared the same link. You can hover over each friend to see what they said about the link when they shared it:

Stories about your friends making new friends now feature snippets from Timelines:

Check-ins are also more visual with large map images, as is content from third-party sites like Pinterest. Overall, you’re going to see a news feed that doesn’t just highlight images, but is inundated with them. At Thursday’s event, Zuckerberg said that nearly half of the news feed already consists of photos and other visual content – so this redesign is simply an expression of the evolving face of the feed.

New Ways to Navigate

As expected, the new Facebook news feed will also sport content-specific news feeds. You’ll still have the classic news feed as the default, which will combine recent activity with “top posts.” You’ll also still have the opportunity to filter the feed by “most recent,” which will show you everything from both friends and pages in chronological order.

Facebook’s new, hyper-specific news feed options include “all friends,” which shows a stream of all activity from friends (nothing from pages or people that are simply “followed”). There are also specific feeds for photos, music, games, groups, and more.

The old “pages feed” has a new name: “Following.” It will unearth all the posts from pages and people that you follow (no friends).

In other words, Facebook is giving you more options for customizing your news feed experience.

Long story short, Facebook has given users a lot more choice in how they browse content on the site. And the prominent placement of the specific news feeds on the homepage nearly ensures that users are at least tempted to spend more time on the site. By delving into a specific content feeds like “music” or “photos,” users can unearth posts from the deep, dark, cavernous void of Facebook content that’s been cast aside by their ranking algorithms. When there’s more to explore, people typically choose to explore it – at least that’s Facebook’s hope. And more people spending more time on the site means more chances to serve ads.

The third tenet of Facebook’s news feed redesign is mobile consistency – meaning that your experience on the desktop, web, and apps across all platforms should feel fluid. As I mentioned before, the new Facebook desktop experience feels more mobile – at least more streamlined.

All of your Facebook extras, your events, messages, gifts, apps, and more, are now housed on the left-hand side inside cute little icons. Like mobile, this is accessible from anywhere you go on the desktop version. In fact, Facebook made a point at Thursday’s event to say that “now you can get to any page on Facebook to any other page on Facebook without going to your homepage.”

Facebook chat has also been resigned to the left in the new news feed. Facebook said that the reason for this is to get more people to see it. Some desktop users simply didn’t have the screen capabilities to see the chat information on the right-hand side.

Facebook’s mobile experience for the new news feed is going to look and feel just like the desktop experience. That’s the bottom line. With this refresh, Facebook is no longer allowing any light between the two. Your Facebook news feed is your Facebook news feed – it doesn’t matter how you access it.

It seems that this is what Facebook means when they say “goodbye clutter,” and that they want to get Facebook “out of the way” of the Facebook experience.

The Business of Business

So you know that with the new news feed, photos are both bigger and more prominent. You couldn’t have thought that ads were going to stay the same, right?

Yes, ads in your news feed will be getting bigger.

“We’re taking all the content you see in the feed and making it more immersive. So that goes across the board for everything, including ads,” said Facebook’s Julie Zhuo.

As a marketer, this presents plenty of new opportunities. Promoted Posts, Sponsored Stories, and Page promotion ads almost have to be visually impressive in order to flow with the rest of the news feed. If marketers didn’t see the advantage of developing striking, image-based ads before, this must surely be a wakeup call – that’s the future of ads on Facebook.

If you operate a Facebook Page, there are both good and bad aspects of Facebook’s news feed redesign. The good is that there’s a new “following”-only news feed option, so users have the opportunity to browse an unadulterated stream of content from business and interest pages. And the option to browse this specific feed is given prime placement on the homepage. In light of the recent hullabaloo of page owners accusing Facebook of decreasing post visibility to promote their Promoted Posts product, this feed option should be welcomed with open arms.

But it’s still just an option. And whether or not users choose to utilize that option remains to be seen.

Now for the bad: to compliment the “following” feed, there’s also an “all friends” feed that weeds out all page posts. Bummer.

Overall, the more visual news feed can only help business pages. Remember the aforementioned Timeline snippets that pop up when a user’s friend makes friends with another user? Well, that concept also applies to pages. When a user likes a new page, a visual snippet of that page’s Timeline will appear in the news feed. This gives pages a chance to make a bold first impression, increasing the likelihood that a user will choose to visit or like the page on the spot.

Facebook Tells Developers to Prepare

Everything is larger and more visual in the new news feed, and app developers have to prepare for this as well.

Facebook is suggesting that developers begin to optimize for high-res feed stories (on both desktop and mobile):

In the new design, the things people share through apps are larger and more engaging in News Feed. We’re also making it easier for people to access their game and music feeds, now accessible from the top right area. To take advantage of this new design, we encourage you to optimize for high-resolution feed stories on both web and mobile by providing 600X600 pixel images (minimum 200X200 px).

These images will be really important to game developers as Bookmarks will become more important in the news feed. Bookmarks are images that accompany a shared story about a game. The larger image size means may just be what it takes to convince new and returning players to check out your game.

“These ever-present bookmarks will also display the notification counter from the most recent game requests to help drive re-engagement with players,” says Facebook.

So, there you go. Facebook has just unveiled the most dramatic redesign of its most important product in years. All that’s left to know is the “when?”

Not soon, probably. At least for most of you. Facebook has said that this will be a slow, careful rollout so that they can get their ducks in a row. It’s a big change to a big product, and they want to make sure it’s right before handing it over to everyone in the world. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone, considering they’re currently doing the same sort of slow rollout with Graph Search.

There is one thing you can do, however, to improve your chances of getting the new news feed before your friends. You can go to facebook.com/about/newsfeed and join the waiting list. All you have to do it click a big, green button. You can’t miss it.

From what you’ve seen, what do you think? Good for users? Good for businesses?

 

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Don't Hide From Confrontation

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Most people don’t like confrontation. If you do, you are in the minority. Many are petrified of it and tell themselves that it’s just too hard. So, when faced with a difficult situation or person, they avoid it and instead run away…for as long as possible.

People run from all kinds of things—like something new, or change in general. They run from their pastAnd many people in our society run away from responsibility. But the problem with running away from something is that you stay stuck. You don’t make any progress.

Now personally, I never had too many problems confronting people. In fact, I used to be overly confrontational, so the issue was more about how I handled confrontation. I had to learn how to confront people and situations the way Jesus did. I also had to learn how to confront the devil. And still, every once in awhile God, will give me a little refresher course on confronting the devil so he can’t walk all over me and I won’t listen to his lies.

It’s Time to Stop Running

“ [God] wants us to be bold, courageous, and to know we can handle anything that comes our way! ”

We need to be people who will no longer run away from difficult situations because God doesn’t want us to be afraid. He wants us to be bold, courageous, and to know we can handle anything that comes our way!

Look at 1 John 4:4 (AMP). It says, “Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.”

The next time you feel fearful about a situation or person that you know you need to confront, just quote this scripture and remind the devil of his place. And tell him, “No! I’m not putting up with fear any longer.”

Find Your Source of Strength

Maybe you just need to live with a little more oomph! I’m talking about Holy Spirit oomph that says, “I am God’s child, and I’m not going to be stepped on my whole life. I am the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. I will not live in fear. I will not run away from things. Because I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ who strengthens me.”

You can confront your problem. Or you can choose to run away from it. But if you run, the Bible is pretty clear as to what happens to people who run away from what God has called them to do…

They end up in the wilderness.  

Wilderness Residents in the Bible

I want to talk about two people in the Bible who ran away when they were afraid and how God helped them confront their fear.

Moses – God had a destiny for Moses. But at forty years old, Moses did something wrong and instead of facing Pharaoh, he fled and “dwelt in the land of Midian” (Exodus 2:15 NKJV), which was a desert wilderness area outside of Egypt. He spent the next forty years in a holding pattern. God had to work some things out of Moses before he was ready, at age eighty, to go back and lead the Israelites.

Hagar – In Genesis we read how this servant girl got caught up in a really bad situation with Abraham and his wife, Sarah. When Hagar became pregnant by Abraham, which was Sarah’s idea, this created a big fight between her and Sarah. So Hagar ended up running away. The Bible says she ended up in the wilderness by a spring.

Then an angel of God told her, “Go back to your mistress and [humbly] submit to her control” (Genesis 16:9 AMP). Ouch! Although it was definitely unpleasant and, I’m sure, extremely hard to do, Hagar faced her difficult situation because she knew God wanted her to do it.

What about you? Are you in a wilderness today because you are fearfully avoiding confrontation? You don’t have to stay there all your life and keep running away from things. You can get out of that wilderness and live in the promised land God has for you—if you will start confronting issues.


This article is taken from Joyce’s four-part audio series, Confrontation.

 

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Everyone experiences fear in their life. There are big fears we are very aware of and little ones we may not even realize we have.

I’ve learned that it’s very important to understand what fear is and how it works against us because if we don’t, it can keep us from becoming what God created us to be, which means we won’t fulfill our purpose in life.

Fear’s Evil Scheme

“ God wants us to walk by faith, and Satan wants us to walk by fear. ”

Fear is a tool the devil uses against us to make us miserable and destroy our lives. It begins as a thought and then creates emotions that can rule us. It often becomes a strong, intense feeling that tries to move us to make a foolish action or tries to prevent us from doing something that would be good for us. Because it’s such a common way that Satan attacks people’s lives, I think of it as the master spirit he uses to manipulate people and keep them out of God’s will.

Simply put, fear is the opposite of faith. God wants us to walk by faith, and Satan wants us to walk by fear. When we learn to live by faith and not let fear rule our life, we can live a fulfilling, satisfying, peaceful and joyful life in Christ.

Like I said before, fear begins with a thought. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that “as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV). I like to say it like this: Where the mind goes, the man follows.

Finding Freedom

This is why the Bible talks about meditating on the Word of God and having our minds renewed (see Romans 12:2) so we can know what God’s will is. Meditating means you roll the Scripture over and over in your mind until it becomes part of you. Meditation takes information and turns it into revelation.

When you get revelation about something, then you know that you know that you know it, and the truth of it sets you free from the lie that was holding you back from something God had for you.

Is Fear Holding You Back?

I wonder how many people actually have gifts and talents from God but they aren’t using them because they tried and failed?

So many people are frustrated because they know they’re not doing what they are meant to do and are letting fear rule them.

I want you to get a revelation about this because you’re not going to ever be really happy if you don’t fulfill your potential and be who God created you to be. The key is to learn who you are in Christ and see yourself in Him.

When we become born again through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we actually become “recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do good works which God predestined…for us…[living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]” (Ephesians 2:10 AMP).

So whatever Jesus is, we are too. He is strong, and in Him, we are strong. He is courageous; in Him, we are courageous. He is a conqueror, so we can be too. He has peace and joy, so we have peace and joy. He’s capable and bold. In Christ, we can do whatever we need to do with His boldness.

As you read the Bible and meditate on what God says about you, you will be able to recognize the fears in your life that are holding you back and overcome them by seeing yourself in Christ. Then you will find you have whatever you need to do what you are created to do.


This article is taken from Joyce’s four-part audio series, The Fearsome Four.

 

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In May of 2012, Facebook unveiled a brand new feature for page owners. It was called “Promoted Posts,” and it allowed admins to pay a small to medium fee (depending on the follower base) in order to hoist their posts to a more prominent placement in users’ news feeds. Basically, it allowed page owners to make sure their most important posts were seen by more people, and provided a great revenue opportunity for Facebook.

A few months later, Facebook extended the Promoted Posts functionality to individual users. By October, anyone with an account could pay to promote their witty status, cool new article, or cute new baby photo.

Ok, cool. So far so good. You may think that the entire Promoted Posts concept is wacky, but hey, to each his own. As a page owner, you could simply choose not to participate in Promoted Posts and go about your business as usual – simply posting away.

As a page owner, have you seen your average engagement decrease since the launch of Promoted Posts? Have you used Promoted Posts?

Of course, that zen-like mentality could quickly disappear if, let’s say, Facebook was rigging the game. And that’s exactly what some page owners began accusing Facebook of late last year: one giant bait-and-switch.

The “Bait-and-Switch”

Reports emerged that Facebook was deliberately decreasing the reach of regular, non-promoted posts in order to force people into paying for the Promoted Post product. In fact, that was the whole point of unveiling the feature – to cast un-promoted posts into oblivion so that people would see such a small return (likes, comments, and shares) that they would have no choice but to pay to promote.

Most of the claims hinged on the simple observation by the accusers that posts published on their Facebook pages were not driving the traffic that they used to – which naturally meant that not as many people were seeing the posts in their news feeds. How could my likes beincreasing, but my traffic from Facebook be decreasing?

The common conclusion from people like Richard Metzger at Dangerous Times and even popular Facebook celebrities like George Takei (who hopped on the bandwagon) was that Facebook was turning down the volume on their regular posts.

Although the accusation gained plenty of steam inside the tech media circles, Facebook maintained its innocence in the matter. The company said, point blank, that they did not decrease the visibility of page posts in order to force people into buying Promoted Posts.

And there was some pretty compelling evidence to support Facebook’s innocence. Facebook has admitted that only around 16% or so of a page’s followers even see their posts in the news feed. It’s always been like this. Facebook has never been able to show 100% of followers 100% of posts from pages and people they subscribe to. There’s simply too much competition for real estate in the news feed. As users begin to friend more and more people and like more and more pages, their overall engagement with each individual person and page is going naturally decrease.

Josh Constine over at TechCrunch suggested that a move that Facebook made to fight spam had actually been one of the root causes of the so-called “visibility decreases” that many page owners were reporting.

“We made a relatively large ranking change in September that was designed to reduce spam complaints from users. We used [spam] reports at an aggregate level to find Pages or apps generating a lot of reports [and decrease their reach]. We’ve also added personalized attempts to reduce presence of posts you’re likely to complain about,” said Facebook.

In short, the less engaging your posts were, the less likely they were to show up in your followers’ news feeds.

And the push to control spammy posts is simply one news feed algorithm tweak that Facebook made – and they make a bunch, all the time. Facebook is constantly changing the way its algorithms decide what shows up in whose news feed. The bottom line, according to those who believed Facebook, was that sure, your post reach could be fluctuating (or even simply decreasing), but it’s not because Facebook is pulling a bait-and-switch with Promoted Posts.

Still, page owners continued to complain that for them,personally, they were seeing less return from their posts. Sure, you can throw graphs and excuses at the issue, but you can’t explain that the decrease in visibility coincided with the dawn of Promoted Posts. Although Facebook has been adamant that they are not pulling this “bait-and-switch,” many page owners and public figures with many subscribers have remained unconvinced.

New Accusations

Fast forward to a couple of days ago and to an article by Nick Bilton in the the New York Times’ “Bits” tech blog. It begins, “something is puzzling on Facebook.”

What are your thoughts? Let me know your comments.

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