Starting Over
Can there be a greater gift than to be able to start over, to leave the past behind with all its baggage?

False Gods
False gods are screaming out to us, “trust me, believe what I say.” What false gods are you worshiping, that you trust? Destroy these false gods before they destroy you

Independence
Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.
Oswald Chambers

Courage to Look Inside
We do not know envy when we see it, or laziness, or pride. Jesus reveals to us all that this body has been harbouring before His grace began to work. How many of us have learned to look in with courage?

What is the Parable of YourLife?
Can you sum up your life with a simple, short story? What is the deep meaning it holds?

You Are More
Don’t dull your life by missing this point: You are more than statistical chance, more than a marriage of heredity and society, more than a confluence of inherited chromosomes and childhood trauma. More than a walking weather vane whipped about by the cold winds of fate. Thanks to God, you have been “sculpted from nothing into something.”
(Psalm 139:15 The Message Bible)

How Do You Handle A Crisis?
“I did not care whether everyone knew how bad I was, I cared for nothing on earth, saving to get out of my present condition.”Oswald Chambers on responding to God’s call in his crisis.
In My Utmost For His Highest

Wisdom
There are two types of wisdom; wisdom to address worldly matters, and the higher wisdom to connect with God, to know how to please Him. “Prayer is life’s greatest time-saver, so don’t remain confused. Ask God for His wisdom.” Charles F. Stanley Bible Study Notes

Whom to Seek for Enlightenment?
“People might tell you to ask the fortune-tellers, consult the babbling astrologers, conjure the dead to tell the living what’s to come, but shouldn’t they ask their God?”
NASB Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible Notes

What Is Competing For Your Attention?
A warning which needs to be reiterated is that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things entering in, will choke all that God puts in.
From My Utmost for His Highest Classic Edition, January 27

A Snow Day
God’s grace is like a snow day. Think back to when you were a child. When it snowed you had a snow day-a day to relax, free from school, homework and tests. It just came down from heaven.

Give Someone Good News
Someone is hurting today. Give that person some good news. It may be as simple as a smile, kind word or loving action. It may take the form of enthusiasm or encouragement. Or perhaps what is needed is endurance or tenacity. Whatever it is, brighten someone’s day with good news.

Visions
We all have visions. They may be of two natures: ours and God-inspired. Our visions without God’s blessings may appear important, but in God’s grand scheme are not, so why pursue them? God’s visions require God’s power. If, then, we become discouraged in our ability to pursue His visions for us, it is only because we have not sought His power. The  choice is: leave the vision unfinished or allow Him to empower us to finish it.

So Why Try?
You Cannot Argue Someone Into Being a Christ Follower.
So why try?

The desire must come from within and these are those kinds of desires:

The desire to change where change seems impossible.
The desire for hope when hope is not present.
The desire to possess something that is not attainable by human means.
The desire for meaning when surrounded by a life that sucks the meaning out of you.
The desire to be truly alive when the glitter of life falls to the ground.
The desire for unmerited blessings when everything you possess is not enough.
The desire to be forgiven when you realize that you need forgiveness.
The desire to be loved when you realize that you are unlovable.
No one but Christ can fulfill these desires.

Your Eli
Who is your Eli that needs to hear God’s message? (Samuel telling Eli of God’s message against Israel.)
1 Samuel 3:15

Worship In Truth
Are you noticing what is important to the Lord? It’s not the size of your offering that matters; it is the trust of your heart to give everything you are and dedicate everything you have to Him. It is not the beauty of your praising, giving thanks, singing, praying, or giving financially that moves Him; it’s your motivation—your true feelings of love and adoration for the Lord.

As you prepare to worship God in spirit and in truth, examine the reason you are approaching His throne. Is it to further your goals or to experience His loving presence? Is it to get something you want or to give Him your utmost devotion? As Philippians 3:3 instructs, “Worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” It will not only satisfy your being but will also build intimacy in your relationship with Him.
NASB Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible on Psalm 51

What is Faith?
To believe without seeing, to go without knowing, to walk without fainting, to succeed without success

Who To Hold Onto?

When the best of me is barely breathin’
When I’m not somebody I believe in
Hold on to me
When I miss the light the night has stolen
When I’m slammin’ all the doors You’ve opened
Hold on to me (Hey)
Hold on to me

[Chorus]
Hold on to me when it’s too dark to see You
When I am sure I have reached the end
Hold on to me when I forget I need You
When I let go, hold me again

By Lauren Daigle

Your Solar System
What is the center of your life? What does your life orbit look like? What is the gravity that holds your life together?

In The Grasp
What are you holding onto that is holding you back? What has you in its grasp that you must destroy? What part of you are you reluctant to lose? Therein you will discover your false god.

The Great Irony
The invisible God we worship is more real than the reality we see.

Remaining
You cannot remain alive if your heart goes on holiday.
You cannot remain moral if you take a moral holiday.
You cannot remain spiritual if you take a spiritual holiday.

Did The Bottle Let You Down?
Tonight the bottle let me down
And let your memory come around
The one true friend I thought I’d found
Tonight the bottle let me down

Words and music by Merle Haggard

The bottle is a metaphor for all the false gods we turn to, to do for us what they cannot do. We believe they are true friends, but they are not. There is only one True Friend.
1 John 3:2
Dear friends, now we are children of God
New International Version

What is your true you? How much makeup do you have on? What happens when the tears fall? Are you performing for the crowd, or do you have a more important audience?

Is Your Smile Painted On?
While the tears on my makeup melts my painted smile into a frown
The crowd thinks I’m a dandy, I’m Bandy the rodeo clown.
Bandy The Rodeo Clown, sung by Moe Bandy

What is your true you? How much makeup do you have on? What happens when the tears fall? Are you performing for the crowd, or do you have a more important audience?

Ephesians 4:5-6
one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
New International Version

What IsYour Job?
Your job is to do what you can do, not what you cannot do.

“…my job now became only to provide the loaves and fish. It’s His job to perform the miracles and produce the results.”
Dallas Jenkins explaining the success of his TV show, The Chosen, and how it was born of failure.

Matthew 14: 17, 21
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish.
The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
New International Version

How To Live Abundantly
Living abundantly does not mean spending lavishly. In fact, it may mean the opposite, depending upon how you define abundance.
If living abundantly means enjoying free gifts, then it is merely a matter of discovering these gifts. 
If it is a sense of freedom, then we must brake the chains that bind us.
If it is not about things, then we need to look at relationships.
If it is not about getting, then we must look at giving.
If it is not about worldly activities, then there are higher pursuits to consider.

Psalm 36:7-9
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
NIV

Psalm 132:15
I will abundantly supply what she needs; I will give her poor all the food they need.
New English Translation

Knowing that your future is absolutely assured can free you to live abundantly today. Because I am infinite in all My ways, you need not fear that I will run out of resources. Abundance is at the very heart of who I am. Come to me in joyful expectation of receiving all you need-and sometimes much more! I delight in showering blessings on My beloved children. Com to Me with open hands and heart, ready to receive all I have for you.
Jesus Calling for Christmas, Sarah Young

1 Peter 1:4
…an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.
New English Translation

Be The Miracle
“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.”
Phillips Brooks

And All Shall Be Well (Julian of Norwich)
This declaration that “all manner of thing shall be well” does not eliminate misfortune, sickness or death. It is pointing to what all the respected wise ones say about the ability to find peace, and even joy, in the eye of the storm — to come to trust that there is something that transcends chaos and impermanence. (Found on Google)

Herein is the key to this expression-trust. It is not sufficient to merely say the words, but to trust in them, to believe them. And to believe them one must embrace the foundation of this belief.

Our Life’s Work
John 15:5-7
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned”
NIV

It is clear that we are not to live a life unto ourselves: a life for ourselves only. Our purpose is to live to bear fruit, blessings to others. And we cannot do this apart from being in, abiding in, drawing vitality and endurance from Christ.

What Do You Want?

What Do You Want?

If you want to be joyful, attach yourself to someone who is pure joy.
If you want peace, connect with someone who gives total peace.
If you desire security, invest in someone who is unchangeable.
If you must change, believe in someone who has unlimited strength.
If you truly want to live, accept the one who gives life.

Whatever it is you want, desire, need-seek the One who is the source of all.

It’s Easy To Go To The Wrong Place

Where do you go to change what you cannot change? To find what you lack to make you whole?  

Have you gone to the Bible and left confused? To religion and left empty? To church and left disappointed?

These are not wrong places to go, but they are not THE place. THE place is a person, not a book, not a ritual, and not A place. Christ said, “Come to me.” (Matthew 11:28). The Bible, religion, church, and so many other good things are good because they point to what is supremely good, and that is Christ.

A Way To Start The Day

Listen for, be alert to, seek eagerly, look longingly for instruction.
And once instructed, go and sustain the weary.

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
 The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
Isaiah 50:4-5

God Is Not A Commodity

God is not an ATM machine of blessings to be used by inserting our faith card any time we need “more.” The Holy Spirit is not a get-out-of-jail card whenever we are in trouble. And Jesus’ name is not a magic incantation to be used to change our life. This Trinity is a relationship of love to be entered into with gratitude and faith, and it is through our relationship that the abundant life is lived; blessings received, problems confronted, and joy experienced.

The Folly of Striking an Empty Piñata

It’s what inside the piñata that counts. An empty piñata offers nothing for the effect, and frustration for the unfulfilled expectations. Fill it with candy and trinkets and you get candy and trinkets-nothing more. 

Our life is like a piñata and what we fill it with makes all the difference. Fill it with love, service, and gratitude and we get the abundant life. Fill it with anger, jealousy, and self-gratification and we get a vacuum of satisfaction. Fill it with tasty treats and toys (often expensive) and we get an unsatisfied craving for more. In other words, fill it with anything but what is wholesome and holy and it is still empty. What’s inside your personal piñata?

Where Is The Central Source of Your Power?

Say “Yes” to God and join Him in your journey.
Inspired by “The Chosen”

What are you really seeking and from whom?

Where is the “where” you are frantically seeking?
“Come unto me”
Matthew 11:28

On what are your expectations built?

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.”
Matthew 7:25 The Message Bible

The Prisoner You Set Free With Forgiveness Is…You.
To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Isaiah 42:7 KJV

What Paths Are You Following?
I will lead the blind on roads they have never known; I will guide them on paths they have never traveled. Their road is dark and rough, but I will give light to keep them from stumbling. This is my solemn promise.
Isaiah 42:16
Contemporary English Version

Relationship comes before action but is the basis for response.
People do not want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is a source of deep offence to the educated mind of to-day that does not want Him in any other way than as a Comrade. Our Lord’s first obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of men; the saving of men was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted to the cause of humanity only, I will soon be exhausted and come to the place where my love will falter; but if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a door-mat.
My Utmost for His Highest, June 19

God Is Not Your Scapegoat
A fellow priest of Fr. Brown throws a hammer off the tower of his church in raging anger over the heinous sin of his brother. It was thrown with the intent of destroying the brother. But the priest does not accept guilt until Fr. Brown confronts him. If the priest does not confess to the crime, an innocent woman will be hanged.

Priest: “My brother is dead. It was by God’s hand, not mine.”
Fr. Brown: “Your actions were yours and yours alone. Is it God’s will that she hangs for your crime?”
Priest: “God will save her.”
Fr. Brown: “God-he’s not your scapegoat.”

From the Fr. Brown TV series, Season 1 Episode 1 “The Hammer of God”

Feeling unworthy? Join the club. 
It’s the club of “I’m not good enough: not in life, not in faith.” Well, that is true when our standard is God. But that’s not the final answer because God provided the means-the Atonement-whereby we are judged not by what we are but by in whom we place our faith. So, in a way that is ludicrous to many, we can appear as Christ. Think of a robe of righteousness (right relationship) that is thrown over us, obscuring what we are.

Time Is Your Life
Don’t squander your time because time is your life.
2 Corinthians 6:1, The Message Bible

The Miracle of Touch
When is a touch more than a touch?
In the Gospel of Mark Chapter 5 we are introduced to a woman with a medical condition that has consumed all her money, is the cause of social out-casting, and has only grown worse after 12 years. In others words, she has exhausted all avenues of relief, at least relief that was available at the time. But, she has not exhausted one last avenue and that is built upon faith, belief, and perhaps outrageous hope in the form of an itinerant rabbi known for his healing. Jesus is passing through her community and is crowded by people-and no doubt he is jostled and brushed up against. This woman seeks only to touch his cloak-not even his person-and she believes that this will heal her. She does and she is immediately healed.

How many in the crowd needed healing of some sort? And how many of these touched his garments, perhaps even touched his arm as he was walking? Many, but we are not told of any other healing.

Importanty, and not to be missed, is the requirement of some act. The woman touched. Earlier in Chapter 5 the leader of the local synagogue came and pleaded (and his daughter was brought back to life.) In other passages we read, “come, follow, ask, seek, open” and more. The remarkable fact of these actions is that God’s response is infinitely greater than the act.

So, it is faith, belief, hope in a person that makes a touch more than a touch.

We cannot touch Christ’s garments today, but we can reach out and touch Him with the long arm of prayer and be healed.

Are You In The Grip?
Are you gripped by someone or something?

All of us are gripped by someone or something. Is it what we desire or have we complacently fallen into it? It is healthy or destructive? Do we wish to loosen the cords? Where are we heading?

Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.
     Phillipians 3:12, Phillips Translation

Who Knows?

I do not know, but God knows—
2 Corinthians 12:3

Indeed, who knows? Such a simple question and a simple answer. We do not know but God knows. How much simpler life would be if we simply acknowledged this fact!

This is not a matter of not knowing:
For God knows… (Genesis 3:5)
The Mighty One, the Lord! He knows! (Joshua 22:22)
…for the Lord is a God who knows (1 Samuel 2:3)
…he knows the secrets of the heart (Psalm 44:21)
…but God knows your hearts (Luke 16:15)
The Lord knows (2 Timothy 2:19}
…the Lord knows (2 Peter 2:9}
…he knows everything (1 John 3:20)
All above verses from NIV

God only knows
The Beach Boys

Spiritual Roadmap

In the remarkable TV series The Chosen which dramatizes the ministry of Christ from the viewpoint of those who were with him, the episode leading up to the Sermon on the Mount, where the Beatitudes were presented, depicts Jesus coming to grips with how his message of salvation can be effectively communicated. I readily saw myself in the same circumstance, pacing back and forth with different thoughts fighting each other for a logical place in the message I wished to give to various audiences during my personal and professional life.

In explaining his intention to a curious disciple, Matthew, who is acting as stenographer, Jesus says, “I want to give them a roadmap.” Later in the broadcast, during a post-episode interview, we hear the expression “give little bits of information to digest.”

Taken together, these two thoughts-a roadmap given in little bits that are easy to digest-provide a simple path to one’s own spiritual journey and helping others on their journey. We all need a roadmap to find Christ in our lives and that roadmap must be fed to us in easily digestible morsels.

The Non-Existent Debt

The idea is that because we have received something, we owe something. The problem is the nonexistent debt. The love we receive, or money, or time–or anything that causes us to feel obligated–should be accepted as a gift.

“Gift” implies no strings attached. All that’s really needed is gratitude. The giver has no expectation that the present will provide a return. It was simply provided because someone loved someone and wanted to do something for him or her. Period.

Christ Is Not a Vitamin Supplement

The power for living the abundant life comes not from taking something like a Jesus supplement or spiritual protein shake but in having Christ in us.
John 14:20
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
NIV

When I pray — “Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,” He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me.
My Utmost For His Highest, July 22

Cast Your Burdens Upon The Lord
Blessed be the Lord, who bears our burden day by day (Psalm 68:19, Amplified Bible*)

10 Ways Our Burdens Are Lifted

Calm The Storm In Your Mind. Too often our burdens are magnified beyond reality in our minds. Asking Christ to calm the mind can help us think clearly.

Perspective Change. Too often we see only a narrow range of reality, and too often that is the negative side. Changing or broadening our perspective can present a refreshing, affirming alternative.

Focus Change. Working in harness with Calming The Storm and Perspective Change, changing focus from narrow to broad or vice-versa can help align our strengths with the burdens we face.

Apply Different Strengths. We have many strengths that may go unrecognized. Ask the Lord to reveal to you all the strengths that He has blessed you with.

Power Of Reality. There are at least two powerful realities to consider. First is the reality of your current situation unmasked by fears. The second is the reality of the working of God’s grace in your life. Embrace both.

A Friend. We are never alone and knowing that we have a friend in Christ can support us through troubling times.

Shalom. More that the absence of peace, shalom means wholeness at all times in all things, even when there is no apparent peace. This “peace” is pronounced many times in the Gospels, beginning with the announcement of the Lord’s birth by the angels to the shepherds.

Acceptance. Aligning with the Power of Reality, Acceptance of what is can be the springboard to what we desire. 

Remove Guilt and Shame. There are some things that only Christ can remove-try Him, ask Him.

The Big Picture. We are part of an infinitely beautiful and vast future. By always keeping this picture in perspective and focus we can unburden ourselves.

*To get a bigger idea of this Psalm, other translations include “loadeth us with benefits, carries us day by day, supports us, rescues us, bears us up)

Discernment: What Is It? Why Is It Important? Where To Find It?

Discernment (Gr. diakriseis, spiritual judgment, understanding) is faithful living and listening to God’s love and direction so that we can fulfill our individual calling and shared mission.

We need it because we are lost:
“As I let my eyes look deeply into my own heart and yours, I am increasingly aware of how lost we are. Those of us who are wealthy and successful are no less lost than those of us who are poor and experience life as a failure. Those of us who are healthy and strong are no less lost than those of us who are frail and weak. Those of us who are priests and ministers are no less lost than those of us who are lawyers, doctors, or business people. Those of us who are active in the church and society are no less lost than those of us who have resigned ourselves to passive waiting for the end of life. Those of us who are excited about new projects or full of energy to bring about changes here and there are no less lost than those who have become skeptical or cynical about the possibility of a better world.” Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Discernment 

We need it to go from darkness to light, from aimless wandering to being found.

Discover it at Discernment and discover the abundant life.

The Calm In The Storm

Storms are all around us, all the time. How comforting it is to have someone who is watching out for us in our difficulties, takes action to aid us, can “walk” above the turmoil, infuse us with courage, and bring calm out of chaos. We only need to bid him “come.”

Mark 6:48-50
He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
NIV

Happiness

Although the Declaration of Independence guarantees the right to the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of happiness is not the path to happiness.
“You become happy by living a life that means something. The happiest people you know are probably not the richest or most famous, probably not the ones who work hardest at being happy by reading the articles and buying the books and latching on to the latest fads. I suspect that the happiest people you know are the ones who work at being kind, helpful, and reliable, and happiness sneaks into their lives while they are busy doing those things.” (Kushner, When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough)

So, don’t listen to the world. Don’t pursue happiness. Let it invade you though a noble, meaningful life, and live abundantly.

Illusions

The problem with illusions is that they are eventually exposed for what they are-something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality-which leads to cynicism* and away from the abundant life. Yet we are surrounded by forces, events, and our own expectations that generate these illusions. What are we to do?

Place your ultimate trust and reality on the “only one Being Who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Chambers)

*Based of the following definition of cynicism (Wikipedia) and our experiences in life, it is difficult to argue against assuming a cynical attitude toward life. But this is the dark way to approach life and begs us to search for a way to live life positively and abundantly even amid so much that is negative.
Cynicism is an attitude characterized by a general distrust of others’ motives. A cynic may have a general lack of faith or hope in people motivated by ambition, desire, greed, gratification, materialism, goals, and opinions that a cynic perceives as vain, unobtainable, or ultimately meaningless and therefore deserving of ridicule or admonishment.

Frustration And The Abundant Life: What Do You Do?

You long for something, perhaps even with a great desire. It could be something to acquire or to shed. It may be for noble, selfless reasons. There may be real emotional, physical or spiritual pain involved. You pray, again and again, earnestly and passionately. And the “something” is not granted, as least in a way you recognize.

“Deep inside, you know that only God can fill your need—which further frustrates matters and reveals your complete lack of control. You cannot successfully meet your own need or compel God to comply with your personal desires, time schedule, or concept of how it should be accomplished. So what are you to do?”

   NKJV Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible Notes

You choose. You choose to fall toward God or away from God. But you must choose.

Does contemporary life guide to a true choice? Where will you find guidance? How can you continue to count on or trust a god that does not deliver what you want, when you want it, and how?

Try this: pray. Pray for understanding. If you do not receive understanding pray for wisdom. If you do not receive wisdom pray for endurance. If you are at the last ounce of endurance pray that you will not abandon God. Ready to abandon God? Then pray for the supernatural power to praise and worship Him, no matter what. But pray unceasingly. And this is the right choice that will lead to the abundant life.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Jame 1:4 (NIV)

You Are Called

You are called by the Almighty for a noble  service.
You have been given a special gift to bless your service.
Discover your gift, unwrap it and serve, living a life worthy of His calling.
Based on Ephesians 4

I Invite You

I invite you to let me walk beside you in your pain and to bring you the strength, hope and healing comfort of Scripture.  Scripture is a gift. Like any gift it must be unwrapped. It is a healing garment. Like any garment it must we worn. It is an amazing garment that fits all sizes.

Do You Consider Yourself Rich?

What do you possess that makes you believe you are rich, including but beyond money; which of these would make you soWhat do you possess that makes you believe you are rich, including but beyond money; which of these would make you sorrowful to surrender, to place above your love of God? Comfort, reputation, security, possessions, family, faith? Which of these must you offer as gifts to God that you may find your joy in Him and not be sorrowful? Am you prepared to sell all that you have (Luke 18:22), that is, to rid yourself of self-acquired obstacles, that you may possess Him?

The Power Of Powerlessness

Are you powerful enough not to cry? Can you resist all evil? Have troubles you cannot overcome? Brokenhearted? Crushed?

These are the conditions mentioned in Psalm 34 for the righteous-that’s all of us who have a right relationship with our God. And if we encounter these as righteous, how are we to overcome?

Ephesians 6 shows us the way: Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. What does this mean?

The troubles, difficulties, and pains we encounter in our worldly lives are symptoms of evil in the spiritual realm (cosmic powers of darkness) and it is spiritual armor that St. Paul urges us to “put on” to defend ourselves and to stand firm. The armor includes truth, righteousness, faith, and the word of God.

The key thought here is that only by acknowledging our powerlessness can we be in a position to gain the power that only God can provide. And the key issue is, can we accept our powerlessness. 

Peace

Is peace high on your agenda? Does it rank above success and prosperity?

What I find interesting in the concept of peace is that it has two identities. There is the peace that we try to acquire on our own, and there is peace which is a gift. The peace we seek by our own means is what is referred to as the world’s peace. This is an illusion at best. The gift of peace is something that when offered we must accept, unwrap, and wear much like a garment. It is only available through a higher power. The questions then are, “is it a priority in your life and where do you look?”

John 14:27
“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace.”
The Passion Translation

Poison Of The Heart

What poison is in you that you need to expel? That leaches out and poisons others?

“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
NIV

We may look and function normally on the outside but inside we are being poisoned, poisoned with hate, greed, envy, arrogance, self-importance—you get the point. This poison is difficult to detect and often masquerades as something innocent or trivial. But it is what ultimately destroys us, our relationship with others, and—most importantly—our relationship with God.

What Christ was warning us against was outward appearances vs. inner character; we happily accept investment returns from companies that oppress workers or defile the environment; we smile to our adversary but, inside, wish them harm. The ultimate passive-aggressive situation.

The remedy is not cleansing our outward appearance but our inner heart. And that is why we have a savior.

(View a sermon on this topic on YouTube at 15:45)

Joy Vs. Happiness

I hear a lot about happiness but very little about joy. Could we have a wrong idea of what they are?

To me, happiness is what we chase and it is something we depend upon others to give or circumstances to provide. For example,
I could say that I am happy when I win my tennis match or when someone compliments my serve. But, I am not happy when I lose or when someone criticizes my double faults. Question: could you possibly be happy when life goes in the tank?

On the other hand, to me, joy transcends circumstances and the fickleness of others. It comes from actions that are outer-directed, that is, with others in mind. It is service-oriented. And it is in the service that joy finds me. Question: could you be joyful when life goes in the tank?

“Man’s idea of joy is to be as happy as he can by leaving God out of his life. The Lord taught that real joy comes by taking God into
one’s life as much as possible.” (Believers Bible Commentary). 

John 15:11
I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.
Amplified Bible

If you could chose only one—joy or happiness—which would it be?

Nourishment

What nourishes you, gives you strength, purpose and joy? How do you nourish others?

John 7:38
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
NIV

Loyalty

What relationships compete for your total loyalty? Parents, spouse, children, even yourself? Who or what has the primary claim on your life?

John 17:6
“You gave them (those to whom Christ revealed His Father) to me.”
NIV

The Test of Life

If we approach the test of life confident only in our own abilities or the abilities of others, we have failed the test before it is even given.
It is prayer alone that will guide, sustain, and strengthen us, for only prayer connects us with our Higher Power.

Begin The Day By Cleansing The Heart

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen
From the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

Are You Crisis-Ready?

When a crisis hits, are you battle-ready? If you rely on your own strengths you have lost the battle before it is begun. “If you have not been worshiping in everyday occasions, when you get involved in God’s work, you will not only be useless yourself but also a hindrance to those around you.” (Oswald Chambers)

How To Untangle The Mind

Humility is the path to simplicity. Simplicity is the path to clarity.

Truth
In a world fraught with dishonesty and devious practices, the abundant life is found in the simple, honest truth of the Gospel. We do not need to embellish, rationalize, or justify God’s word.

How Do You Respond To Temptation?

There are frivolous temptations, like eating too much and exercising too little, and these can be addressed with common sense and wisdom. The critical temptations are the ones which force us to choose God or reject God, meaning whether or not we follow His commandments, His Word, His image in Christ, and His discerning Spirit within us.

What, then, are your needs for grace today? Bring those boldly to him now.
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Study of the New Testament on Hebrews 4:14-16

Take the mercy, accept the help.
The Message Bible

Questions

The best answers in life are often based on the best questions. Can you answer these?
From what do you need to be saved, rescued, liberated?
-What affirmation do you need?
-What hole in your life needs to be filled?

Ingratitude

“There will be works of God exhibited through us, people will get blessed, and one or two will show gratitude while the rest will show total ingratitude,” (My Utmost For His Highest). Can you handle ingratitude and still be a servant?

Personal Connection Checklist

  1. Are you fully present or distracted?
  2. Are you loving or judging?
  3. Are you open or closed to being changed?
    (From Emotionally Healthy Discipleship)

Fate and Choice

Notwithstanding the circumstances of our lives and regardless of the events over which we have no control, we and we alone determine our fate through the choices we make. Will our choices lead to deep joy or profound sorrow? How may we find the path to one and not the other?

Thoughts About Choices

A choice is based upon two fundamental factors: we gather information and then make a decision.

On the source of information:

It is trustworthy, honesty and objective? How do we know?

How wide is the search for the source of information? 

How do we account for our unknowing, mental shortcomings, and our lack of experience, depth of knowledge, and wisdom? Have we removed the blinders to insight?

What is the role of inspiration?

Whom do we counsel?

On deciding:

How trustworthy, honest and objective is our decision-making?

Have we given the important decisions of our lives sufficient time and resources?

Have we examined the blinders, arrogance and prejudices that unduly influence our decision-making?

Have we opened the process to accept powers of discernment beyond our own?

Whom do we counsel?

For guidance, wisdom, and insight see Psalm 19.