Thursday, May 24, 2012

From Hassle to Hope!

What would you think if I told you that irritating, annoying, frustrating life circumstances that we deal with every day...can actually become amazingly wonderful realities in our lives?

You'd think I was out of my mind.

Well...what if it were true?

You see, when we apply God's promises to everyday situations, those little mundane annoying circumstances will actually become nuggets of hope in our lives.  Those nuggets - those annoying circumstances, chronic difficulties or horrendous struggles, will turn into stepping stones that we can put our weight on until the day comes when we step into our Final Hope - Heaven.

I know.  You are probably furrowing your brow right now as you wonder what in the world I'm talking about.  Stay with me here.

Did you see the movie, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"?  Remember the pond that turns everything into gold that is immersed in the water?  The pool of water was found in a cave and the people who discovered it, saw what looked like valuable statues in the pond. Turns out that everything that was dropped into the water - no matter how mundane it was - turned into gold.

That is what happens when we know the Word of God and apply His promises to the everyday circumstances in our lives.  Those painful frustrations actually become potential sources of hope... but only when we apply the truth of God's Word to every situation.

It's as if we "dropped" an exasperating life event into the water...the water being the Word of God...and eventually what was once a frustration becomes gold in the sense that it places you in a position of needing to apply God's word in order to "deal" with the vexing venue you find yourself in.  The gold isn't the situation...we are refined like gold.

No.  It isn't easy and it certainly doesn't come naturally.  It requires that we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives as we give ourselves over to Him.  That takes discipline and willingness.  It may happen quickly or it could take more time than we'd like, but...

It can be done.  It IS being done by some.  Do you want to include yourself in that number?

It's time to move . . .

From Hassle to Hope!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Hope That Satisfies...

You know how sometimes you read or hear about something that sticks with you?  A long time ago, I was reading about a couple of hikers that got lost.  I will call them Becky and Tara.  Nobody knows exactly what happened, but apparently they got lost and eventually separated from each other in hopes that at least one person would find civilization and send help back to the other hiker...if that hiker could be found.

Of course, once separated, each hiker would be on their own and very much alone. They parted ways and made individual attempts at reaching civilization for days. Becky, who was about ready to keel over and sink into oblivion, took a few more steps that took her to the top of a barren hill that she had climbed.  She looked down and spotted a small lake.  It was the first water she had seen in days.  It gave her a hope that renewed her strength with a fervor that propelled her to the life saving watering hole.

She lived.

Days later, a search party found the other hiker about a mile behind where Becky had almost died before she spotted the life giving water.

Tara was dead.

You see, the water that gave Becky hope and propelled her to action, was not in Tara's vision.

I wonder what killed Tara first?  The lack of water or the lack of hope?

So what does this story have to do with me and you?  Sigh...

I will speak for myself.  When I have a lack of hope, I want to die.  Looking around at people surrounding me, I see that I am not alone.  Hopelessness is pervasive and threatens to destroy us.

Proverbs 13:12 says:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

How can we turn life into longings?  In my next post, I will share with you what I have discovered about how to have ...

A Hope That Satisfies...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

One Month to Live

Okay.  I admit it.  I was at someone else's house for a while and found that I needed something to wedge the door open so I could get some fresh air inside.  If I could just find something narrow, as I didn't want a gale of wind pouring through the house.  I small slit would do.  "I know", I thought.    I sauntered over to the bookshelf in search of a suitable doorstop.

I pulled out a book, tried wedging it in the door - but it was a little too wide.  "Rats".  On my way back to the bookshelf to return the unhelpful item, I glanced at the title of the book in my hand.  It caught my attention immediately:

"One Month to Live" by Kerry & Chris Shook.

Wow.  That sounded like something I would be really interested in.  No...I 'm not going to die anytime soon that I am aware of - but still.  Sounded interesting.

I started reading:

"If you only had one month to live, what would you change?"

Hmmm...what would I change?  I continued:

"... By embracing the fact that our time on earth is limited, we can live deliberately, no longer postponing the joy and peace that come from fulfilling our God-given destiny..."

"Your time on earth is limited.  
No matter how much this idea makes you squirm, it's a fact.  No matter who you are, how young or old, what measure of success you've attained, or where you live, mortality remains the great equalizer.  With each tick of the clock, a moment of your life is behind you.  Even as you read this paragraph, seconds passed that you can never regain.  Your days are numbered, and each one that passes is gone forever."

Does this sound morbid?  Perhaps to some people it does.  But the fact remains that it is true.  Turns out this book, "One Month to Live", is not so much about death as it is about life.

Two main points, as I see it:

1)  If you aren't so sure about your eternal destiny, you might be scared away by the very title.  If that is the case, my recommendation is that you read some of my previous blogs.  Take life and death seriously.

2)  If you are certain about where you will go when your physical body reaches it's expiration date, then this book is a keeper.  Why?  Because it is so helpful to look at life with a renewed perspective.  It changes everything...including your heart.

I like to write...but I have to say, it would make me very happy if you would purchase the book, "One Month to Live".  I am not saying that because I would get anything out of it.  The authors don't even know of my existence.  You, however, are important to me - even though I may not know your name or face - and because of that I hope you purchase this book.  It will encourage you and give you the new perspective that you may very well need.

Take care, okay?  Pretend like you only have...

One Month to Live.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

A New Day

I've been gone for a while.  Though I haven't physically left, my heart and mind apparently decided to take a sabbatical without my consent.  Has that ever happened to you? Sometimes circumstances are so incredibly overwhelming that it is all you can do to keep your head above water.

You were very missed by me...but I just didn't have the energy or heart to write.  Things weren't terrible.  Well, yes . . . maybe they were.  Alas, I'm still alive - admittedly "much to my dismay".  I know.  That sounds awful.  But the truth is, sometimes life throws us so many curve balls, all we want to do is get out of the game!

It's okay though.  No.  It's good.  We all have such very strong wills.  But I, speaking for myself, want to let God's Will for my life be preeminent.  Problem is, following God is both incredibly easy and supremely difficult at the same time.

Why is that so?

Bottom line... the main thing God wants us to be is - loving.  Yes, there are hundreds of "commands" that God used to require - back in the "Old Testament" days.  But when He sent His Son, Jesus die for our sins thereby becoming a sacrifice for us - if we choose to believe in Him - things became both more simple and more difficult.

How so?

More simple because the only real command that God wants His children  to follow is:

Love.  Love yourself and your neighbors.

Oh.  And did I mention that He wants us to love our enemies?  To love people that are "unlovable" is not easy.  But maybe you've "got it down". Ask yourself this question.   Do you love those people who are difficult to love - all the time?  Does God only want us to "love" when we're "up to it"?

So how do we do it?  How do we let love permeate our lives and lifestyle so that it touches everybody we come in contact with?

I'll tell you one thing for certain - it isn't going to be easy... and it isn't natural for us.  The only way we can love with that kind of love is to let God love people through us.  The only way that will happen is if we die to ourselves - our own self wills.  But wait.  Doesn't God want us to be unique?  Isn't that how He created us?


The thing is, submitting to God does not mean we become a bunch of robots without the unique identity that God created us to have.

Okay, I'm going to say something that many of you may disagree with vehemently.

We can't submit our wills to God for very long of our own accord.  That's the hard part.  We need to submit to God.  Only He knows us so completely that He knows exactly how to help us be the people both He and we want to be.

God may even allow crushing circumstances into our lives so that we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we can't live in our own strength.  I know.  That sounds terribly cruel.  But the fact is, it's the only thing that He can do to enable us to die to our own strong self-will that gets us into trouble.  But...

The closer we come to letting God's Will become our own, the sooner we will have...

A New Day

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone?

Many of you know who I'm talking about when I mention John the Baptist.  But for those of you who don't... let me give you a quick run down:

John was Jesus's cousin.  He told people that soon, the Son of God would be on the scene.  Basically, he prepared the way for Christ... but I don't know how prepared he was for his own precarious future!  You see, in a nutshell, John was letting people know that King Herod had an affair and married his brothers wife, Herodias (after she divorced King Herod's brother).  That didn't set too well with the King and was especially embarrassing for his new wife, Herodias.

It's not a pretty picture and it doesn't end well for John.  The beginning of John's most difficult trial began when he was thrown into prison.

So why did I remind you of this historical fact?  What does it have to do with the here and now?

Keep reading.

Imagine what you would feel like if you were in John's position. There you sit.  The man who proclaimed to the world that the Son of God was coming.  Jesus comes.  Heals people left and right.Casts out demons.  Miracles have become a daily occurrence...and there you sit in a dark, musty, dungeon at the mercy of a King who was known for his cruelty.  What would you think?  How would you be feeling?  Could it be that you would begin to wonder about this "Son of God" named Jesus?  Seems like He would save the very man that prepared the way for the Messiah!?

So, John's world is now his prison cell.  His pain, his hurts, his confusion ...whatever emotions he may have had...threatened to overwhelm him.  Imagine being left alone in that environment.  His world was no bigger than the dank dungeon he sat in and as time passed, he began to doubt..question...wonder.  "Is Jesus really who He says He is?

Then John asked the disciples who came to visit him if they would ask Jesus if  He really was " the one...or if they should be looking for someone else"?  I mean, supernatural occurrences and amazing wonders had resulted in healings for countless people... what about John?  Where was John's miracle that he so desperately needed?  Didn't Jesus care about him?

The disciples asked Jesus that question.  Know what Jesus said?

Yes, many people are being healed.

 "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."  Matthew 11:5

So, John may have thought ... "What about me?"  "What am I - chopped liver?"  (Okay...maybe he didn't say the part about the liver).

But Jesus asked the disciples to tell John one more very important thing. And the message that Jesus wanted John to get - is the same message He wants us to have.

 "Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of Me."

What does that mean?  Most versions say something along the lines of:  "Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."

But in the Greek, the word for "not offended" is a word whose primary meaning has to do with stumbling.
That is why I like the version:

Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of Me.

What an awesome thing to say...Jesus is acknowledging in those few words, that life is going to be different for everyone.  The way God chooses to work will be unique to each individual.  Some people will experience His miraculous works in one way, others will experience His miraculous grace in a whole different light.  But people, being people, will compare.  "Hey, God did this for so and so... why isn't He doing the same thing for me?"

Because God loves the entire world, full of people who are unique and varied.  Everybody responds differently to God's work and consequently God needs to work differently in peoples lives.  He sees the big picture.  We don't.

That is why it is so important that we listen to the last message John received from Christ.

"Blessed is ANYONE who does not stumble on account of ME."

It's true that many people get disgruntled with Jesus when He doesn't do things the way they think He ought to. Fortunately, there are other people who think differently. The question can be asked. Is Jesus...

A Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

People Pleasers -vs- People Lovers

Yep. That's me... a people pleaser. The thing is, I really do love people as well. Unfortunately, sometimes my people pleaser self over-rides my love of others.

Boy, I hate to say that. It's embarrassing to admit.

I'll back up a bit.

The other day, I finally came to the conclusion that I need to confront somebody that I really like. I consider this person my friend. She is very sensitive and thoughtful. It's fun talking with her. She's a good listener, but also asks thought provoking questions and interacts with me. When I talk with her it actually involves two way communication. What a thought!

Unfortunately, something important was missing from my house and she is one of only a few people that could have taken it.

When I discovered the missing item from my house, I assumed I had made a mistake. Perhaps I misplaced it or something.

I racked my brain trying to create a scenario that would explain the loss.

No go.


Unfortunately, after looking back at several red flags and discovering that other people were experiencing similar things from my friend, I realized I was going to have to confront the situation. Actually, I suppose one reason I'm having such a hard time with this is because in my heart, I know I'm not confronting a situation as much as I am confronting a person. A person I consider a friend. And the item that was stolen was not just any item. It was medication I needed for my health. The person in question knew it was necessary to prevent me from a serious health issue.

I hate confrontation. I don't even like to say the word. Even typing it isn't easy. Does that say anything about me?

But why was the idea so repulsive to me? Why was I so afraid of it? Why? I mean, seriously, it is really scary for me. It bothered me that I was so afraid to confront this situation that I was willing to ignore it altogether and turn my head like so many other people over the years have done.

If I am a true friend to her I will not allow her to yet again "get away" with something.
So why was I having such a difficult time?

Later that day, I saw a sign. It said:

"Contrary to what you may think, people - pleasers don't confront: people - lovers do"

As soon as I read that, my heart sank with a knowing feeling. I was allowing the people-pleasing side of me to overshadow my love of people when it came to my having to deal with confrontation.

Time for me to grow up and keep my focus on loving people instead of trying to please them.

Can anybody relate to ...

People Pleasers -vs- People Lovers?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hit the Reset Button!

How can we be in control of things that we aren't in control of?

Okay. That question was just a little bit confusing.

What I meant was, how can we be happy and feel like we are actually contributing to society and the world around us in a meaningful way, when all we are doing is ...

Working. Going to the store. Running errands. You know.

Life Stuff.

Hey, it may not qualify as "important" - but you certainly can't shrug it aside. Let's face it,
like it or not - a lot of things fall into that category.

Remember, in the last post, how we talked about taking the question:

What time is it?

And asking ourselves, instead:

How should I spend my time?

It was great. But what about...

The boring times?
The empty times?
The running around like a chicken-with-it's-head-cut off times?

What about the times you feel like strangling somebody?

You fill in the blank.

Do words like... frustrated, irritated, stressed out, ticked off, impatient and annoyed - ever describe how you feel when you are just doing something because it had to be done?

You wouldn't go to work if you didn't have to.

You wouldn't go to school if you didn't have to.

You wouldn't go to the store if you didn't have to.

You wouldn't do a lot of things, if you didn't have to!

But you do.


Because you have to!


So what do we do when that happens? Follow through with our thoughts? Uh. I'm thinking that may not always be a good idea...for obvious reasons.

The truth of the matter is, we aren't in control of the world around us - but we can control how we respond to it.

We have an incredible opportunity to actually reflect God's light in this world. To represent Him. We can be an example of His love right here! Right now! In the ...

Check out stand
Walmart (or)
Home Depot

Anywhere where there are people.

Doesn't the Bible say something about...

Working as unto the Lord?
Loving your neighbor?
Loving your enemy?

Of course it does. That and so much more! Excuse me, but if we as Christians, actually applied God's teachings in our everyday lives instead of compartmentalizing our faith and turning it into an exclusive Sunday club, we would be so much more appealing to society - don't you think?

Please don't misunderstand me. Their are many incredible people who love the Lord and are amazing witnesses of His love - but if we step up to the plate, we can increase the number of people who fall into that category... not only that - we will be so much happier!

"Oh great", you may be thinking to yourself. This article is for Christians. I'm not a Christian.

No. These principals apply to everyone. As a Christian, I believe God gives me the power to more easily love people who are difficult to love - if I am choosing to walk in His Spirit - but if that is not where you are at, it's not where you are at. The principals are still true.

When I ask myself how to spend my time it's like setting the "reset" button. Almost every time, my perspective changes. It's absolutely amazing how our thoughts can affect our thinking which affects our emotions and ... voila ... suddenly the things we have to do are not as pressuring as they were a couple of minutes earlier.

Our actions become guided by a deliberate thought process of our making - instead of us feeling controlled by the tyranny of the urgent.

Every time you think about how you are doing, whatever it is that you are have deliberately chosen to:

Hit the Reset Button !

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Making Love . . . A Verb.

Is this a Mothers Day article? Well, yes and no. It's not specifically meant for Mothers Day ... but you know what? If you were to sit down and watch this video with your wife, it could be the best Mothers Day gift you could give her. (Munching on her favorite chocolates or desert, while watching the video, would be a great add on).

It's easy to give a gift, but chances are good that what your wife really your time.

Sit down together and watch this video.

It's never been easier to fall in love and never been harder to stay in love. Is it even possible for two people to be happy together forever? Yes. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus gave us the foundation for enduring love. In this message, Andy Stanley reveals the simple, yet powerful, principle.

Staying in Love

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Time For A . . . Time Budget.

We are probably all very familiar with the importance of a financial budget. I'm not saying we all have one - but we are at least familiar with the concept.

A little while ago, the subject of time came up. And, of course, I think one of peoples' most often asked questions is:

What time is it?

That question is characteristic of a society that is obsessed with the clock. We are fast paced, driven and uptight.

As comedian, Brian Regan says:

How long does it take to toast a pop tart? A minute? If you want them dark? But people need something even faster, so they go for the microwave method. Listen, if you need to zap fry your pop tarts before you go out the may need to loosen up your schedule.

Fear not, people, it's just a joke. I personally like pop tarts. That's not the point. I have simply noticed that instead of controlling time, we tend to let time control us.

Hey, if you need to know the time - you need to know the time. I'm not suggesting you hit the delete button on that question. But I would suggest that you ask yourself something else.


more important
more useful
and subsequently
more meaningful!

The question I am referring to actually has two angles to it. Right now, however, I just want to focus on the first facet:

1) How should I spend my time?

If your days are driving you crazy with their constant pulls on your time and you are forever looking at your watch...

Or if you are always asking somebody else what time it is so that you can meet the demands of this life in a "timely fashion"...

Maybe you should ask yourself what types of things are included in your busy schedule?

In other words, How do you spend your time?

Are you spending it on something that is important or is it just another project, task or endeavor that must be completed?

I am not saying those things don't need to be taken care of - it just doesn't automatically mean it is an important activity.

Urgent. Yes.
Important. Not necessarily.

Lots of things are "must do's". How about going to work? But, chances are, it's just a means to an end.

It is good to identify what is really important.

Our husbands.
Our wives.
Our kids.

Those things tend to get neglected - yet when you get to the end of your life, you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that -in this world- those were the very things you will have wished you spent more time on.

So, today...right now...we can look at our schedules and ask ourselves...

Is it time to refocus and readjust my time?

A Financial Budget is good, but I'm thinking it's...

Time for a ...Time Budget!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

An Eternity of . . . Combined Experience !

You know how when you are a teenager, everything is about you? Yes, there are always exceptions and I don't mean to put anybody down...but it's true that when people are younger they tend to feel like life revolves around them. Perfectly understandable. As a matter of fact, I don't think the idea that we are the center of the universe is limited to teenagers.

But it is true that as people get older and mature, they eventually come to the realization that they are not alone in the universe. They begin to reach out to others for support. How many times, for example, have you seen businesses advertise the fact that they have X amount of years of combined experience?

Why do they do that? The answer is obvious. The longer an establishment has been around, the more experience they have, the more likely it is that people will want to do business with them.
Many times, industries will focus on the combined experience of all their partners as opposed to focusing solely on one person or business.

That is an example of people recognizing that their time and experience, when combined with other people, is much more valuable.

All that to make this comment:

When you travel this life alone, though you are doing the best you can with what you have, you can only do so much. Wouldn't it be wise to cast your lot with God? When we work with Him, our time is so much more significant. He increases our value and worth. Life has meaning again. True meaning. Whenever things look bleak or uncertain... we have the ability to go to Him.

Think about it. We are talking about...

An Eternity . . . of Combined Experience!