Archives for posts with tag: Faith

I was reading my daily devotional “Jesus Calling” this morning . . . I highly recommend it.  The subject was Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Oh, we’ve all heard the story of Eve and the fall and we men tend to joke that it (the fall) was all the women’s fault and so on.

The subject this morning was the fact that the way Satan tempted Eve was to get her to darken her perspective by showing her the one thing she could not have . . . the fruit from the apple tree.  Think about it . . . . she was in the Garden of Eden . . . everything was perfect for cryin’ out loud!  Yet Satan coerced her into looking right past all the perfection she lived in every day and to focus on the one . . . the only thing on the planet that she was forbidden to have . . . the fruit from the apple tree.

I don’t know about you but I sure have a tendency to do exactly the thing that Eve did.  I live a life with an over abundance of blessings . . . good health . . . wonderful marriage . . . great lifestyle . . . and the list goes on into eternity . . . the blessings I live with.  Yet, when there is one thing not exactly right, we tend to be unhappy . . . discontent until that thing is fixed.  How self-centered and selfish is that?!

As I was thinking about this, the thought occurred to me that we need to be good stewards of what God has given us.  Oh, we have all heard those stewardship sermons where the preacher tells us that we have been blessed with income and we should give 10% to God and I don’t disagree with that.

But let me take that a step further . . . I challenge you to think about ALL of the blessings of our lives . . . our finances . . . the sunrise . . . the blooming flowers you saw on the way to have a root canal . . . ALL of your blessings as something we need to be a good steward of.  Rather than taking those wonderful things for granted . . . give thanks!

Don’t let Satan . . . and the world darken your perspective into only being able to focus on the things that need fixing . . . look at ALL the things in your life that God has ALREADY fixed . . . and give thanks!  Our perspectives will brighten and our minds will be more open to hearing God’s voice in our lives!

Amen and Amen!

Pat

A few weeks ago, when Kris and I were in California we attended one of our Favorite churches; Bayside Church in Granite City.  They were just starting a series on the book of Proverbs so we were blessed to get to be there for the introduction.

The book of Proverbs is known as the book of wisdom and is among the wisdom literature of our culture.  Among the plethora of other information given pastor Ray spoke about the handy-dandy fact that there are 31 Proverbs and 31 days in our longest months . . . just perfect for reading a book of Proverbs every day!

Another opinion that Pastor Ray shared was that our American society as a whole has become obsessed with intelligence and not so much with wisdom.  We have all known those people who graduated with super high academic honors, but have great difficulty operating in our society due to their lack of common sense and/or wisdom.

Anyway, we are starting a study on Proverbs in our bible study and a thought came to me;  You know you can’t just read the book of Proverbs and “get” wisdom.  Oh, you expose yourself to it and get a first blush at what principles are wise and conversely, which are not.

I remember the first time I read through Proverbs . . . it was sort of  . . . well Duh!?!  The statements make logical sense.  But the key is to have the principles readily available in our minds and souls so we can call on them when we need to.

The thought then came to me that reading Proverbs is like loading an operating system on your computer (in our brains and souls).  The more we load and reload it, the more familiar it becomes to us and the more that information becomes a basis for us doing life . . . when we use that info on our operating system it just becomes part of who we are.  Not necessarily in a conscious way but more behind the scenes in our subconscious mind.

I challenge you, start reading Proverbs . . . a chapter a day.  If it is the 4th  of the month, start with Proverbs 4 and read a chapter a day.  It  probably won’t make an earth-shattering change in your life immediately . . . but you will see a change in your life!

Thank you for reading . . . blessings!

Pat

I left my boss’ office  . . . or should I say former boss’ office deflated, dejected and emotionally in a tailspin.  You see, my career in the first half of my life was in the homebuilding and land development industry.  That industry is traditionally boom or bust . . . and when it is good  . . . it is very, very good.  And when it is bad . . . it’s awful.

This day, it was decided by the higher ups in my company to change the direction of the company and my position would no longer be necessary . . . I had been laid off!

I went home and after explaining to my wife why I was home so early, I set to work getting my job search underway.  The first call I made was to the executive recruiter who had found this position for me; Jaquie.  I have always had the utmost in respect for Jaquie as she was a strong Christian and a lady of very high integrity.

“Sounds like you’re having a James 1 day!” Jaquie said after hearing my story.  Not being that familiar with James 1, I responded with something lame like “uh yeah, I hadn’t really thought of it that way.”  After I hung up the phone, I looked up James 1 and read it with renewed interest here is what it said:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1: 2 – 4  NIV

At first I was frustrated with Jacquie; Wasn’t this like praying for patience?!?! I didn’t need perseverance or to be complete . . . I needed a job with income for my family!

But God worked on me and helped me to understand a lot about that verse.  It is now one of my life verses.  You see, I finally came to realize just how true this scripture is (like all scripture isn’t true!).  I guess a better way to put that is that as I began to embrace the meaning of the scripture in my life . . . it really helped me to mature just a bit more into the man God created me to be.

You see, when we look at our challenges in life not as inconveniences to us or something that a judgmental God has chosen to punish us with we begin to realize who God is.  I began to understand that He is always there, working behind the scenes to make us more like Christ . . . to make us more content in our own skin . . . with our own circumstances.  When we understand that God didn’t cause this difficult time in our life but will use it for good . . . our good, then we are beginning to come more in alignment with who God wants us to be.

After all, as Christians, we all want to be mature and complete don’t we?  And that takes perseverance . . . and perseverance requires the testing of our faith.  Darn, don’t you hate it when that happens?!  But that is just the way the God set the universe to spin . . . the sooner we embrace God’s economy and stop fighting it . . . the sooner we start to be mature and complete . . . and . . . content.

Oh, and about the job, I had a new one in a couple of days!  Not that I found a new way to manipulate God . . . but when I focused on God and what He wanted me to do in my life rather than my selfish desires and wants . . . a blessing was a by-product!

OK . . . perhaps I will take perseverance and being complete.  Thank you god for helping me to get this straight . . . again!

Thank you for reading!

Blessings,

Pat

Several years ago, there was an ad campaign on TV . . . I think it was for a men’s after shave lotion and the guy on the TV gets a good firm SMACK on the face and responds with “Thanks, I needed that!”  That very well describes my feelings as I have been working my way through Joyce Meyers’ book “The Battlefield of the Mind”.  Joyce pulls no punches in talking about her experiences of working through various issues of life and how they relate to her walk with Christ and her relationships with everyone in her life.

The concept that SMACKED me across the face not just once this week was about patience.  Joyce makes a great statement about patience: “Patience is not the ability to wait, it is the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” SMACK!!  That one hit home for me.  Many times I think I am being noble and the model of a good Christian man  because I am able to buck up and wait on God or wait on others.  And that is OK except . . . I am whining and complaining the whole time I am waiting . . . Look at me, I am having to wait on God . . . or Jeez this line is slow, but because I am such a good person, I will totally put myself out by being patient and waiting!

One of the major things that Joyce brings out is what causes us to wait with less than good attitudes is our pride . . . or lack of humility.  Somehow, we got this idea into our heads that we are somehow above having to wait . . . waiting is for others who, are not as cool or important as me or as busy as I am.  Where did I get that idea?!?!

She mentions the scripture of James 5: 7 which talks about waiting.  It says “Be patient as you wait”.  It doesn’t say be patient if you wait.  Life is about waiting.  It is for all of us.  SMACK!  But this is one of those scriptures (among many others) that are for people other than me.  After all . . . I am above waiting . . . . really!?

One thing that I find in myself is that when I am impatient and for whatever reason Satan has put into my head, I think that I shouldn’t be having to wait on anything, I then shift into control mode.  But truly, isn’t that the way managing our lives is; when someone, perhaps a person who works for us or a child comes to us and says something can’t happen on schedule?  We go into control mode and see if we can approach the situation from a perspective they haven’t thought of yet to move things along again.

I will say that in everything there is a “God’s” part and an “Our” part.  We don’t just hang out at the beach and eat bon-bons and wait for God to do everything.  We do have to make an effort . . . in a godly way.  But I know for me, it’s almost as if I adopt an attitude of  God doesn’t have this right or God doesn’t realize the time frame I need this to happen in and what Joyce says to this is:  “Our job is not to control our circumstances, but to respond to them in a godly way.”  That includes listening to God to hear what he wants our part in this to be.  SMACK!

THANKS . . . I NEEDED THAT!

Like all of us . . . I am certainly a work in progress.  It is with books like this one from Joyce Meyers and many others out there that I think God uses to help us to look at ourselves more objectively.  The purpose is not to denigrate us but to help us see ourselves more as God sees us and help us to more become the people He created us to be.

Some books that have been helpful to me in my walk of faith are:

“The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyers
“The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
“Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do” by Dr. Robert H. Schuller
“Too Busy NOT to Pray” by Bill Hybels
“The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God and Having the Guts to Respond” by Bill Hybels
“The Man in The Mirror” by Patrick Morely
“Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptations One Victory at a Time” by Steve Arterburn
“Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge
“Walking With God” by John Eldredge
“Talking to God” by Charles Stanley
“Listening to God” by Charles Stanley

As always,

Thank you for reading,

Blessings,

Pat

A friend of mine, whose cancer was in remission just heard that it (the cancer) is back.  That brings to mind all the things we are taught about death and dying and heaven and hell.

It also brings up a host of questions that seem to become more and more prevalent as I become older myself and I see death’s sweeping hand taking people closer and closer to me; Is heaven really a place I will go when I die?  Will I go there if I said the Baptist sinner’s prayer and not the Presbyterian’s or vice a versa?

Assuming that I got it right on the sinner’s prayer and that heaven is an actual place where I will see my deceased loved ones and enjoy no judgment, no right and wrong and . . . get to actually be with Jesus . . . why would I want to put myself through hell on earth to stay here and not go on to utopia?  That mindset just doesn’t seem to make sense . . . do we truly believe what we hear about utopia . . . heaven?!

Could it be that when we have terminal ailments . . . me with my blocked arteries . . . my friend with cancer . . . that that is the time that God intends for us to come home to Him?

Could it be that by exercising our free will and seeking out medical care we extend our time here on earth . . . beyond what may have been God’s plan?

Or, did God put the medical care here for us in order that we could extend our lives . . . so that we could continue to positively impact others’ lives for longer than we would have?

We westerners have been trained and taught that that is just what we do.  We get sick, we do everything in our power to get well.  This mindset goes from the smallest sniffle to the blocked artery or bone cancer.

Or is our advanced medical care technology and system just something God allowed us to figure out in order to offset the processed and otherwise unhealthy foods that we have come up with to cause many of these terminal ailments?!?!

I can’t tell you that I have answers to all these questions that I pose this morning.  All I can tell you is that God knows everything, including, what is best for us!  We just have to talk to Him but more than that, we need to listen to Him for His direction and guidance in our lives.  That is an easy statement to make . . . just listen to God and do what He says . . . I am the living proof that that is a life long and super challenging task . . . I make progress  . . . I lose ground . . . I make progress . . . I lose ground.  Hopefully, overall, I make progress in God’s eyes.

I think it boils down to a couple of central messages, one of which is: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 
John 14:5-7 (NIV).  We have to first seek our creator before we can hear from Him the direction for our next step.

Thank you for reading and for your support,

Blessings,

Pat

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  We’ve all heard this familiar bible verse.  Does God really strengthen us? When does He strengthen us? Does he really care?

The bible is full of stories of God rescuing his people: the classic parting of the Red Sea to rescue His followers and to destroy their enemies.   And what about God promising (and doing it) to rescue His people from the bondage of slavery to the Egyptians?  God has no compunction about rescuing His people.  But that’s not what we’re talking about today . . . we’re talking about God strengthening us.

Look at the classic story of David and Goliath.  God Strengthened David to stand up against the giant Goliath.  Oh, God could have made the whole conflict go away with a simple flick of the wrist and either make everyone forget about it, strike Goliath down Himself or any number of things but . . . God chose the strengthen David instead.

Remember the story of Shadrack, Neshack and Abednigo?  By the way, that’s not “and to be we go” as my daughter though it was when she was 5!  Anyway, the story was that the King was demanding that everyone bow down to him and forsake their other Gods.   Shadrack, Neshack and Abednigo refused to obey the king and so were sent to their death (so the King thought) in the fiery furnace.  God strengthened them to stand up to the king and brave the fate of the furnace.  When they came out on the other side unharmed God made quite an impression on everyone.

Again, God could have just stricken the King down dead, made him mute or blind or simply just rescued Shadrack, Neshack and Abednigo by just beaming them out of there.  But He chose to strengthen them.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.   This was one of my mom’s life mantras . . . I heard it over and over and in all situations.  Consequently, it became an involuntary memory verse for me.  As is the case with memory verses; they come to us when we need them and this one has been no different in my life.

But what does it really mean; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?  Let’s look at the actual verse it is a part of and see what it says in Phillipians 4:
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ[b] who strengthens me.

This was part of a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians while he was literally in chains in prison.  Paul suffered more for his Faith than probably any of us ever will.  He writes about how he has known great times of need and time of plenty and through all of it Christ has given him the strength to deal with it . . . whatever it was.

So, what about us?   When we are going through difficult times . . . depression . . . losing a job . . . losing a loved one . . . a devastating diagnosis.  Will god strengthen us through those times?  Or what about when we are searching for direction in our lives . . . what to do with the second half of our life . . . how to develop a passion or talent god has given us . . . or we simply feel that we need to start exercising, losing weight or writing that long-overdue book.  I do believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

That’s all great, but how does God strengthen us.  Do we just get an idea in our head and claim this scripture as a promise; OK God, I am going to rob this bank and shoot two guards in the process . . . you are now obligated to strengthen me to do that?!  Really?!?!   First of all that scenario would clearly put God in the vending machine category which He certainly is not.  Secondly, somehow I think God needs to “be in the boat” with us on the thing He is going to strengthen us to do.  So how do we know what God is on board for?

If we think about it, god created each of us individually with our own unique talents, skills aptitudes and passions.  Doesn’t it just make sense that God is going to be the most interested is strengthening us to do the things He made us for?  In the unique way that each of us needs to be strengthen?  So how do we know what those are?

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

Stay tuned for follow up parts of this series.

Thank you for reading and following,

Pat