How To Survive A Pickle Fight…

Pickle Power

It seems that the secret to surviving a pickle fight is to take time to aim.  What you don’t want to do is just “muscle throw” the pickles around.  That is a surefire way to lose a pickle fight.

Got it?

Above is just a sample of what you may hear at my house on any given evening.

Here is the back story:

My wife and I were getting ready to tuck the kids in bed.  We were sitting on the bed in our room discussing the day and out of no where my wife said something about having a tickle fight.  We were joking about which one of us would win in a tickle fight when my twelve-year-old daughter walked in.  I immediately asked her whether her mom or I would win in a tickle fight.

Without missing a beat she said “definitely Mom.”  Her reasoning made sense.  She said Mom would take time to aim the pickles and probably use a slingshot, but Dad would just “muscle throw” the pickles around.

It took about three seconds before my wife and I burst out laughing.  I don’t usually use text shorthand, but we were definitely LOLing.

Here are a couple of lessons I learned from this instance:

  1. Have fun as a couple in front of your kids. We have a fun house. (Notice the space, not a funhouse, although sometimes things do get crazy.)  Rarely does a day go by when we haven’t played together as a family.  My daughter feigns disgust when I kiss her mom or give her a hug, but I am showing her how she needs to be treated when she is married.  She sees a house where her parents love each other and laugh together.  We genuinely enjoy each other’s company and it shows in our marriage and in our house.   
  2. Laugh often and laugh loud.  This is an offshoot of the first point.  We laugh in our house.  A lot.  I am not too big to make a fool out of myself for a laugh.  I think it is important that there is laughter in a house.  It is a sign of good health.  If there are things to laugh about it means that there is love in a home as well.  It keeps us strong as a family and binds together.
  3. Be prepared to make a memory no matter where you are or what time it is.  Just like a random pickle/tickle fight, we create memories wherever we are.  If you take time to look for them these type of situations are everywhere.  I could tell you many stories of times that a memory is etched in my mind just because we were being ourselves.  From “last one in is a cotton egg” to “lellow is my favorite color” to “flip school-dad flips the kids on the bed” to “flop school-dad flops you back on your back on the bed” to “the ultimate spin-kid on dad’s shoulders spinning, dad almost throws up”–the memories are there to be made.
  4. Take in all the joy that life has to offer.  In case you haven’t noticed, this life is tough.  There are plenty of things to sap us of our joy.  Take the time to laugh at the funny things that the people in your life say.  Enjoy the little moments that go in the pages of your life’s scrapbook.  I promise if you take in these things it will make the difficult things of life a little more manageable.

So take it from me, the next time you find yourself in a pickle fight.  Take your time.  Aim the pickles carefully.  Don’t go muscle throwing them all willy-nilly.

In a tickle fight, however, willy-nilly is a pretty good strategy.

But this is the most important thing:  Be the type of person that would be willing to have a pickle fight, a tickle fight, a pillow fight, a dance battle, be the catcher of lighting bugs, make the biggest splash in the pool, in short–a memory maker.

I promise the memories will stick with you forever and carry you through some rough days.


photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/vblibrary/8509187842/”>Enokson</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;


 

What’s the last impromptu memory you made?

Three Things I Pray

Romans 12-12

Romans 12:12

Sometimes a verse really needs to be read in context to make sense of its message.

This is not one of those verses.

This verse can stand alone and offer a command in ten simple words.

We are going through an extremely difficult time personally.  My Dad is fighting the good fight with prostate cancer that has metastasized to his bones.  For any of you that have had any experience with this, it is devastating to watch.  My Dad has lost so much weight and strength.  He is in tremendous pain.  I have hesitated to talk about this on my blog because I know that my Mom reads these posts and I don’t want to make her upset, but  I know that our family could really use your prayers.

It is difficult to understand why God allows things like cancer to happen to some people but not to others.  If I am being honest I could name lots of people who are not particularly nice that I think deserve this more than my Dad.  However, while I am being honest I can also see all of the work that God has done through this illness to heal our family and be a witness to the world.

Be joyful in hope.

Paul often talks about joy in his writing.  The book of Philippians is one of my favorite books because it deals so much with joy.  Joy can ultimately be found in our attitude.  If we have a proper attitude, then many of the things we struggle with can be cloaked in joy and endured.  If we have the wrong attitude, then our struggles will possibly overwhelm us.  This verse tells us to be joyful in hope.

I have many reasons for hope as we walk down this path of life with my Dad.  Not the least of which is that I know my Dad has a relationship with Jesus.  His life has been given to the Lord so I know that whenever it ends on this earth, it will continue in Heaven.  I know that my family and I will see him again–restored and made whole.

I know that none of us are promised tomorrow.  For this reason, it is so important to be joyful today.  As Christians, the world is watching how we react to the trials of life.  I want people to know that circumstances will not defeat me.  I have the power of the Living God within me.

Be patient in affliction.

This one can be tough.  We don’t like to suffer.  I think what is worse is to see someone we love suffering and not be able to do anything about it.  The word tells us to be patient.  Some translations call patience long-suffering.

The fact is we live in a fallen world.  When sin crept into what God had made perfect, it shattered the peace, harmony, and tranquility that we were supposed to enjoy with him.  Now we deal with words like affliction, divorce, disease, disaster, war, poverty, etc.  These were not part of the original plan.  So we push back and try to be patient as we struggle and wait for Jesus to come back.  We do the best we can to face each day with patience and cry out to Jesus to give us strength to make it.   We fall to our knees knowing that there we can find our strength.

Be faithful in prayer.

Ultimately, all I can do is pray.  I lack the strength to face the battle on my own.  I am trying to be strong for my Mom and Dad, my brother and sister, my wife, and my kids.  I can’t do it alone.  The circumstances of this illness have driven me to the Word of God and to my knees in prayer.

Faithfulness in prayer is not an option; it is a necessity.

My work here in this life is to be obedient to the One who saved me.  I am being conformed into the image of Christ. I have to be in constant communication with him if I hope to make it through the circumstances of my day-to-day life.

So I wake up and pray.  I ask for strength for my Mom and Dad each morning and all throughout the day. I ask for wisdom to make the right decisions.  I pray for our witness as the world sees how we handle this.  I ask for peace when my heart is troubled.  I pray for everyone this affects in my family.

And I wait.  Ultimately, I do not know what God will choose to do in this situation.  I do know, however, that he loves us.  He loves my Dad.  I know that he loves us so much that he provided our salvation from sin and is preparing a place for us even now.  I love the message of the passage below in Ephesians 3:14-19:

For this reason I kneel before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I know that this world is not our home and that we will all one day stand before the Lord, renewed and restored and free of death and sin and pain.

Because I know that this is true, I will:

Be joyful in hope, 

patient in affliction, 

faithful in prayer.

 

What’s The Last Thing You Tried For The First Time?

Hula Hoop

Ah, the hula hoop.  It looks simple to operate, doesn’t it?   You just put it around your waist, start gyrating, and round and round it goes.

According to Wonderopolis.org, Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin of the Wham-O company hold the trademark on the name “Hula Hoop.” In 1958, Wham-O began manufacturing the toy out of plastic tubing.  After their second year of sales, they had sold over 100 million hula hoops!

“I just decided to try it.”

Last weekend, my son competed in a hula hoop contest in his children’s church service.  A friend of mine on staff there captured the hula hoop battle on his iPhone.  It took about 33 seconds.   My son and another little girl were on the stage in front of at least one hundred of their friends twisting their little bodies and trying to out-hoop one another.  My little buddy went to town with that hula hoop. It fell to the ground one time, but then he hit his stride and was a hula hooping machine.

After I looked at the video it struck me that he has never hula-hooped before.

I asked him after church about his contest.

Hey buddy, I saw a video of you doing the hula hoop today.  It was awesome!

Thanks, Dad.

Have you ever done the hula hoop before?

No, not really.

Weren’t you worried about getting up there in front of all those people?

No, I just thought I would get up there and try it. And when I did, I skunked that girl!

I’m not sure where that last part came from.  The competitive nature must have skipped a generation and landed on him.

Are you a lifelong learner?

After watching my son try something new and try it in front of a large group of his peers, a few things jumped out in my mind.

  • The older we get the less likely we are to put ourselves out there and try new things.
  • When was the last time I tried something new?
  • What is stopping me?

I work in education.  At a faculty training conference a year or so ago the speaker asked us if we would consider ourselves lifelong learners.  In education circles, this is a big deal.  After all, if we aren’t learning new things how can we be expected to teach others?  Most of the hands in the room went up.  Then he asked us if we had learned a “new thing” in the last six months.  Most of the hands fell in shame.  Well, maybe not shame, but at least embarrassment.

You see, most of us would like to learn a second language, how to play an instrument, a new recipe, or even read a new book.


 

But most of us don’t make the time to do it.


We profess to being lifelong learners, but our lives don’t really reflect that.

I would encourage you today to try something new.  It keeps you fresh and opens avenues to new paths in life. You may make new friends or discover something you never knew you could do.

You may find that this is the only time you pick up your hula hoop.  That is OK, because at least you got up there and tried.

And that is a good thing.

What is the last “new thing” you tried?


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonythemisfit/2592267101/”>Tony Fischer Photography</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

 

 

What If We “Facebooked” Our Christianity?

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I’ll go ahead and admit it right now, I’m not a big Facebook fan.  (I’m sorry, I know the pun is there.  I see it too.)

Now this is just one man’s opinion.  I know a lot of good people who use Facebook and it is a great tool that makes their life easier.  My wife is one of them and she tells me I am anti-Facebook. I can’t deny it.

To me, Facebook can consume people and often times is filled with trite information that no one really cares about.  I think it can contribute to the downfall of marriages because people end up searching for people from their past that should stay in their past or having a social relationship with someone that is way too social.  It can be a race to accumulate “friends” with whom you have no contact with and no benefit from; they are just a number on a page.  Michael Hyatt rightly calls these “vanity metrics.”

Does Facebook serve a purpose?  Absolutely.  My wife uses Facebook to communicate with friends from the state that she grew up in.  She also primarily uses it to encourage and uplift others.

This post is less about Facebook and more about how we portray our Christianity.

I had an interesting thought about Facebook.   What if we “Facebooked” our Christian life?

By that I mean what if our spiritual life was tracked and recorded by Facebook and each place we visited was documented?

Facebook can track where you have been based on your phone’s location, you can be tagged in people’s photos, and linked to your friends for all their friends to see.


 I wonder if we would want that spiritually?


  • Would we be willing to be so forthright with that kind of information spiritually speaking?
  • Would we want people to know what we looked at in the bookstore?
  • Would we share who we were hanging out with day-to-day?
  • Would we want to acknowledge the kinds of sin that we were struggling with?
  • Would we be more careful with the words we used about others?

In a lot of ways this would be good.  It would keep us accountable to others.

Peter says in 1 Peter 5:8, “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Perhaps it is this disconnectedness that makes us vulnerable.  When we don’t connect with our friends, we don’t regularly attend church, and we don’t ask for assistance when it comes to struggles with sins out walk can be easily compromised.

Then we get devoured by the enemy and our life is derailed.  We become ineffective as children of God and we can cause others to stumble as well.

For this reason it is vital that we have someone in our corner that we can trust.  We need someone who we can go to in our times of struggles and ask for their prayers and spiritual guidance.  We need someone who can take our hand and help lead us back to where we need to be.

Again, this post is less about Facebook and more about our transparency as Christians.  Perhaps it is time to be a little more open with our walk and build a strong community with other believers.

*Note from the author’s wife: I admit wholeheartedly that I spend too much time on Facebook, especially late at night. It is addicting, and I recognize that, as well. I took a year-long hiatus from Facebook to regroup, refocus my priorities, and cut my “Friend” list. I now have a very small group of friends, and I thoroughly enjoy praying with them, keeping up with their families and activities, letting them know how we are doing, and share funny stuff that my kids say and do. I also take the online quizzes to find out which Avenger I am most like or what popular song is most like my life story because that’s just who I am.  🙂


photo credit: Marco Fieber/Ostblog.org via photopin cc


What is your opinion on how we can best use social media?

Please comment below.

Redemption: From Death to Life

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The story is not about making bad people good, it is about making dead people alive.  This is redemption.

David Crowder

We tend to have a pretty dim view of sin these days.  We excuse it as a “choice” or disguise it as “what’s right for you may not be right for me” or fight back with “stop being judgmental.”


 It seems that the further we get from the Cross the less clear we are about what transpired there.


I like the quote above because it is a great reminder to believer and non-believer alike how serious the consequences of disobeying God are.  It also reminds us how great His love for us is and what a wonderful gift he has given us.

Ephesians 2:1-7 is rich with meaning:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

The world tends to focus on whether a person is good or bad.  In a way it makes sense, because we can quickly qualify and categorize a person in our minds so we know how to deal with them.

But God looks at a person much deeper than that.  Because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we can’t even stand in his presence without first acknowledging that sin.  No matter how many “good” things I do, it does nothing for the stain of sin in my heart.

God knew that we would be eternally separated from him and there was nothing we could do about it.  In fact, we were so clueless we didn’t even know that we needed to be redeemed.

Do you see evidence of this in the world today?

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

But, God.

Anytime you see these words in the Bible, it is usually followed by God doing something that helps his children and saves them from a fate that they deserve.    Because of God’s rich mercy, he sent Jesus to die for us.  Where the penalty for our sin was death, Jesus paid the price.

Because of Jesus’s obedience to the Father’s plan, I now am alive!  It is no longer my sin within me that rules who I am and how I live, it is Christ in me.   I am no longer a dead man walking, I have been raised to walk in the newness of life.

I have had two birthdays in my life: the day that I was physically born and the day that I was born again spiritually.  Of the two, the second one was the most important, because it is the day that I was reconciled to God and set free to walk the path that he planned for me.  It was there that I received my marching orders to carry out the ministry and the mission that he gave me to bring glory and honor to his name through my life.

Remember, if you have been redeemed,  you are no longer dead!  You are alive because of what Jesus did for you.

I believe that it is time that we stop living like dead men and women and wake up to the power of the Holy Spirit that is alive in us.  It is time to stop focusing on becoming good and focus on becoming Christ-like.  It is time to get angry about sin, but love the sinner, just as God hates my sin, but loved me enough to do something about it.

It is time to stand up and be noticed and to point people to the foot of the Cross.

It is time to recognize our Redemption and start living like we are redeemed.


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/rikomatic/3417188914/”>rikomatic</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

 

All Things to All People

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To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  1 Corinthians 9:22

I am celebrating a birthday this coming weekend.  While I won’t tell you my age, I will tell you that I am right in the middle part of life.

It used to bother me that I didn’t have a very specific calling and place to serve in ministry.  For me, I wanted to have a “ministry job.”  You know, work in the church or for some big para-ministry organization.

I’m not sure if it was the prestige that I assumed went with it or just the fact that if I was working in such a place I would be on the same team with other believers moving forward toward a common goal.

But lately something struck me.  Perhaps it is being solidly in the middle of my life, but it stopped me in my tracks.

I realized that I have been given a wonderfully diverse variety of places to make my relationship with Christ known and to minister to so many people who I otherwise would have never come into contact with.

My resume is an interesting document.  I look at all the types of work I have done and it is kind of funny.

I have had the privilege of learning how to work with my hands doing carpentry work. My Dad taught me all that he knows on the subject.  Because of this, I grew up swinging a hammer.  All through high school and college, I earned a living by the sweat of my brow and the strength of my back.

If you have never been to a construction site, let me assure you, there are plenty of opportunities to witness and share the love of Christ there.  I have been in people’s homes working, in their backyards building things, and in office buildings tearing down and building up.  I have witnessed by my words, my actions, and my interactions.

I have worked in the business world in sales for a Fortune 500 company.  There I had clients and customers and vendors that I interacted with.  I was able to show them the ethical and dignified way to conduct myself.  I was able to minister there as well.

I worked in a thrift store for a local non-profit ministry helping get the store up and running.  I was able to minister to people there often at their deepest point of need.  I was able to empathetic and provide a listening ear to those who had no one to talk to.

I owned my own construction business and was able to show how an ethical, godly businessman conducts himself and provides the service he promises with pride in his work.

I have taught countless students on their path to improving their education and futures while pursuing their GED.  I have had these students come back to me and tell me how something that I don’t even remember saying touched their life and made a difference.

I have officiated weddings and ministered to people as they joined their two lives together to become one.

I am a writer.  I am trying to be obedient to the plan God has for me by sharing these words as he lays them on my heart.

When you look at it this way, I have already had a pretty impactful life; even if I am already in the middle.

You may have heard the maxim “bloom where you are planted.”

It makes a lot of sense.  If you look at each day as an opportunity to help someone out, share a kind word, show the love of Jesus, and make a difference in the world, then it really doesn’t matter what your “job” is.

You can be like Paul and try to be all things to all people for the purpose of drawing others to Christ.

And that is not a bad day’s work.

45 Minute Hug

Dad and son silhouette

A TRULY RICH MAN IS ONE WHOSE CHILDREN RUN INTO HIS ARMS

WHEN THEY ARE EMPTY


 

Tomorrow afternoon, at about 4:30, I am going to make sure that my arms are empty.

For the past week, I have been a bachelor.  My house has been silent.  No running feet, no slamming doors, no laughter.  Just me, the dog, and a whole lot of lonely.

My wife and kids went to visit some family out of state and for a variety of reasons I had to stay behind.  It doesn’t take long to start missing what is missing from your house.

I saw the quote above on a tweet from Focus on the Family today.  It made me smile, because it made me think of something my son said when I was talking to him on the phone yesterday.

“Dad, I really miss you.”

“I miss you too buddy.”

“When I get home, I’m gonna hug you for 45 minutes and not let go.”

“I guess I’d better go to the bathroom right before you get home then.”

“It’s ok, I’ll come with you to the bathroom.”

“Ok buddy, a 45 minute hug sounds great to me.”

“I love you Dad.”

“I love you to kiddo.”

Whoever wrote the quote above had it right.  I know that I am rich beyond measure.  I have two kids that think I hung the moon.  I happen to think that they are pretty amazing too.

So, I can’t wait for that 45 minute hug.

That sounds like a perfect way to start a Friday night.

 

 

Wisdom & Innocence

Man Praying

It’s a tough world out there.

Don’t believe me?  Just turn on the news and watch it for about five minutes.  You will see and hear more negative in that five minutes than you would imagine.  It is the same thing on any news website online.  Things are either negative and depressing or trashy and degrading.

You may think this world can’t get any worse.

I have a feeling that Christians have been saying that for centuries.  My 93-year-old grandmother has told me how her mother used to make similar statements in the years before and around the Great Depression.  She would say that Jesus must be coming back soon, because she didn’t think this world could get any worse.

For those of us with children it can be even more disheartening.  As a parent, I see what kind of world my children are inheriting and it drives me to my knees in prayer.

With that in mind I want to show you a verse from Romans that I have been praying over my children for several years now.  The verse is second part of Romans 16:19:


I rejoice because of you;

but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.


I love what this verse says, because it is so very important for our children.  In context, Paul is warning the believers in Rome to be cautious about people who were causing divisions in the church and by extension, divisions between believers and Jesus.  Here is the entire passage:

Romans 16:17-19

17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

I have made the last part of this verse my prayer for my children because I believe it speaks right to the heart of where we are in our society today.  Our country is fragmented and divided and popular opinion is “contrary to the teaching we have learned.”  People are definitely not serving Jesus, but instead their own appetites.  There is an abundance of smooth talk and flattery both inside and outside the church.

So what are we to do?

As a parent, my job is to make sure that my children are wise about what is good.  I have to make sure that my children see an example of godly living within my home.  I work hard to show my kids how a Christian husband/father/man is supposed to behave.  My wife works hard to show my kids how a Christian wife/mother/woman is supposed to behave. We take our kids to a Bible believing, truth-teaching church.  We try to surround them with positive roles models and show them the truth about the things of God.

I also have to do my best to protect my children and keep them innocent about what is evil.  To me this means to shield them from things that they don’t need to see and hear.  Have you ever seen a movie and thought, I shouldn’t have watched that?  Or read something or heard language and wished you could get it out of your mind?  The devil is good at trying to worm his way into our minds.  It is like the old adage, garbage in-garbage out.  As a parent who wants to keep his children innocent about what is evil, I try to protect my kids from the evil that is on television, in movies, in books, and in the language they hear.  I want them to not have the filth of this world in their heads for as long as possible.

Let me be clear on something here.  I am not saying to deny the fact that there is evil in this world.  If I do that then they are in for a shock as they get older.  My kids know there are bad things and bad people in the world.  However, I do need to shield them and protect them as long as I can.

Hands on a Bible

So my prayer for my kids each night is this:

Father, help my children grow healthy and strong, both physically and spiritually.  Help them to grow closer to you as they learn to walk in your ways.  Help them to be shielded and protected from the schemes of the devil.  I know that my family is a threat to the devil and an asset to your Kingdom.  Help my children to be wise to what is good, and innocent about what is evil. Give my children victory in this life and help them have the strength to stay faithful to you and to do the work that you have called them to do.  

And Lord, one more thing…

Please make the words Paul spoke in verse 20 true for my family:

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

Thank you for being victorious and filling me with your Holy Spirit and power.

In Jesus name.  Amen!

The Hand of Jesus

Clasping Hands Medium

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you live long enough you are going to feel it.  That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.  Worry sets in.  Uncertainty reigns.  Before you know it, you are descending into full-fledged panic mode.  Your heart races and your palms are sweaty.  Your mind takes over and fills your head with a thousand “what-if” scenarios.

Eventually, you feel like you won’t be able to go on by yourself and you need someone, anyone to give you a hand to lift you up and pull you through…

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

My pastor was preaching this morning about not quitting in spite of the difficulties and discouragement that you may face in this life.  Make no mistake, if you are living obediently, you will face troubles in your Christian walk.  Jesus told us so.  But he also said that he would be there with us.  I loved the illustration that my pastor spoke this morning.  He said that sometimes when he is on stage preaching (he’s been doing this thirty years) that he thinks of this verse in Isaiah and when he holds out his hand to the congregation, he is really visualizing Jesus holding onto his hand.

Pretty powerful imagery, don’t you think?

You see, we often forget that Jesus is right beside us.  He is there to give us strength.  Day in and day out.  There is nothing that we go through alone, because he is there with us.  Our friends and family may desert us, but He never will.  He is always by our side.

Look at the verse again.  Fear, dismay, weakness and faltering are the things that God will overcome for us.  I don’t know about you, but I have known these four well over the course of my life.  These are not adjectives that I want to describe me, but they come visit me when I focus on the circumstances of my life instead of the One who promised to walk beside me through the darkest valleys of life.

When I focus on the storms instead of the One who works all things together for good, fear, dismay, weakness, and faltering are my companions.  They anchor me down during the storm.

When I, instead focus on the One who gathers every tear I cry in his hands, then this I know:

I AM is with me

I AM is my God

I AM strengthens and helps me

I AM will uphold me with his righteous right hand.

So in times of trouble, when my strength is small, this is where my focus turns.  I look to my feeble, empty hand and I envision it clasped in the hands of the Carpenter.  His hands are calloused and they have been pierced, but they are strong.  They defeated death and they conquered sin.  They hold onto me when I have no strength to carry on.  They lift me up when I falter.  They wipe away my tears in this life and they prepare a place for me in heaven.

That is my truth.  

That is my hope.  

That is His promise.


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/16210667@N02/8755031604/”>CJS*64</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

The Power of Thought

The Thinker Medium

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 Philippians 4:8

I have a copy of this verse printed and pinned to the wall of my office.  I usually glance at it at least once a day.  I believe that it is one of the best verses in the bible to impact our daily life.  It reminds me that it is so easy to allow my mind to wander and focus on the negative.  It is easy to think about what is frustrating and aggravating and wrong with my situation rather than what is right.

This verse is a not so subtle reminder of how powerful our thoughts are.  Our thoughts will precede and then guide our actions.  Our thoughts are also a reflection of what we put into our minds through the course of the day.  When we dwell on negative things we will find it very difficult to be a positive person.  I believe there is also a strong element of spiritual warfare that can be found here too.


I think that sometimes we allow our minds to become the devil’s playground.


We allow negativity and doubt to fester there and run contrary to the truth of what we know about God.  When we listen to the Father of Lies and start to believe what he says to us, we have a problem.  This problem then starts to affect every area of our lives.  Philippians 4:8 gets warped into this:

  • We think about the “untrue”  God could never love and use someone like me.  I’m too broken.  I’m ugly.  I don’t have a good speaking voice.  I am not gifted in that way.
  • We think about the pedestrian instead of what is noble. I would love to do something that is life changing and impacts others, but I am stuck in a dead-end job, with bills to pay and my own problems to deal with. We become shortsighted about our influence and potential to help others.
  • We think about what is wrong.  This world is horrible. There are no good people left.   I would do kingdom work, but I just don’t have the resources or the time. Our thinking becomes increasingly negative.
  • We think about the impure. In Ephesians 4:31, these thoughts are listed as:  bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Add to the list lust, jealousy, resentment and on and on it goes.
  • We focus on whatever is unlovely.  This is especially true with the people we are around.  Instead of focusing on their good qualities, we dwell on what annoys us.  We zero in on their negatives instead of remembering their positives.
  • We admire what shouldn’t be admirable.  Wealth, popularity, prestige, etc.  Jesus said the first will be last and the last will be first.  But we start to look longingly at the things that others have and we want. We begin to idolize that which is popular, but overlook the ungodliness that often comes with popularity.

For these reasons it is vital that we examine our thought life daily.  We must remember the words of Romans 12:2 and “be transformed by the renewing of our mind.”  This transformation and renewal must happen every day.  We need to stay in the word of God, surround ourselves with the kind of people who uplift instead of tear down, and remember these words:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5

When we control our thought life instead of allowing it to control us, we will see that we can make a lasting difference in the lives of those around us.  We will quickly ascertain whether a thought we have is from God or the devil.  We will be the kind of person that other people like to be around and want to be like. We will begin to make a thousand little changes to those around us.  We will notice our spirits being uplifted and our attention will be drawn up to the One who is worthy to be praised.

When we do this, we will feel the peace of God descend upon us and it will be beyond our understanding.


 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/renaud-camus/8434440715/”>Renaud Camus</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;