Archives for posts with tag: Strength

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I recently had a conversation with a friend who said “I saw so-and-so (a mutual friend of ours) last week and boy are they broken.  Really in bad shape . . . I know this person makes a lot of effort to help others . . . but how can they even think of helping others when they have so many issues themselves?!”

I was so taken aback that all I could say was “I don’t agree!”.

I have not been able to get that statement out of my mind since my friend said it: “. . . how can they even think of helping others when they have so many issues themselves?!”  Consequently I have thought and thought about it and decided to share some thoughts with you.

First of all, unfortunately . . . this is a pervasive perspective that many of us tend to gravitate toward.  When we turn it back on ourselves it says: I won’t attempt to do this or that until I have ______ (you fill in the blank) resolved or worked out in my life.  Not far from the attitude of I’m not good enough (at least until I get my stuff together) to ___________(again . . . fill in the blank).

What a limiting perspective!

I grew up in a large denominational church . . . one with a lot of pomp and ritual . . . lots of responsive readings and ups and downs in the pews.  The minister would parade on to the pulpit with his beautiful robe and collars and a couple of other folks who were clearly his underlings.
The whole setting smacked of the idea that the minister was a holy man . . . a man who had it all together . . . perhaps even less sinless than the rest of us. After all, he would lead us through reciting our Confession of Sins: “Lord, I know that I am lower than a snakes belly in the mud after 10 inches of rain . . .” I can remember leaving that place with the idea that I would never be good enough to _____________ or have it together enough to ________________,

So, this limiting idea has been around in our cultures for eons.

Fast forward a zillion years when Kris and I moved to Southern California and attended great churches like The Crystal Cathedral and Saddleback Community Church for over 20 years. Among a million messages we heard, the over-arching main theme we learned was that Jesus was the only perfect human to ever walk the earth . . . none others before or after Him.   And . . . that God created us to be in relationship with him . . . just as we are . . . warts and all. Translation: Where you are right now in your life . . . God has equipped you perfectly to do whatever He has put in your mind for you to do.

When we decide to wait until we have this or that handled or resolved before we follow through with an idea from God . . . we miss it . . . the amazing blessing that God intends for us to be in other people’s lives!

That’s it . . . end of story!

Here are the “and so’s” to the whole thing:

 

And So . . . “God never wastes a hurt” (Rick Warren). The junk you are going through or have been through makes you perfectly qualified to help others going through similar stuff.

And So . . . When I was in Nicotine Anonymous . . . even though I was still smoking . . . I didn’t have it all together . . . others in the group were still gaining tools from me from watching my struggle!  This is the case in all 12-step programs.

And So . . . We don’t need to be disillusioned with an attitude that we have it all together.  But rather, humble . . . I don’t begin to think that I have it all figured out . . . but here is what I have learned so far . . .

And So . . . Rest in the confidence that you are a work in progress . . . you will never be perfect in all things. The one thing you are perfect for is being the you in God’s plan for your life right now!

 

 

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Several years ago, my wife Kris and I sensed a need to get a better handle on our finances.  So, in our quest to figure it all out, we found “Crown Financial Ministries” http://www.crown.org/ and a small group study at our church.

I can’t say enough about Crown and how it helps to lead you to a biblical perspective of your finances.  I didn’t know it before getting involved in Crown but the bible talks about money more than any other subject . . . who knew?!?!

I tell you that to tell you this; part of the curriculum of small group study of Crown was to memorize a bible verse each week.  One memory verse, which was the longest and most difficult to memorize, had the greatest impact in my life and consequently has become my “life verse”.  This was David’s prayer of praise in 1st Chronicles 29: 11 & 12.  Here it is:

“Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom.  We adore you as the one who is over all things.  Riches and honor come from you alone, you are the ruler of all mankind.  Power and might come from you alone, and it is at your discretion that people are made great and given strength”

Think on this scripture.  For me, it puts everything in perspective; God is over all things and it is at HIS discretion that people are made great and given strength!  Of course we have our part to do in this life.  We can’t be successful just sitting on the beach eating bon bons but our success is at God’s discretion.

Those are some of the ways that God spoke to me through this verse.  Think on it yourself.  I am confident He will speak to you also . . . not necessarily in the same way He spoke to me.

By the way, if you sense God telling you to get a better handle on your finances, Crown Financial Ministry is a great place to gain God’s perspective on this.  Also a great place to become close to others with similar issues.  We have many life long friends and small group member who we met through Crown.

Have a blessed day!

Thank you for reading and following!

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

As happens with all of us, God is using a friend of mine to get my attention about our lives and deaths.  I mentioned in my last posting that a friend of mine has just discovered that his cancer has come back . . . shown up in a different area.  We all hoped that he was “cured”!

What would it have meant if he had been “cured”?!  I believe that God is showing me that it would have simply meant that this particular potential cause of death has been eliminated . . . at least for the time being.  The fact of the matter is that we are all terminal . . . we are all on a path toward death.

I once heard a comedian do a bit about dying and it really resonated with me and helped me to gain perspective on our lives and our ultimate end.  It is like a horse race with all of the various diseases and conditions competing to be one who takes us out.

Imagine a horse race . . . imagine the announcer at the race track;  and it’s whooping cough taking an early lead, with mumps and measles close behind.  Whooping cough is falling back and it’s a fall from a tree coming on the outside!  But wait, on the inside it’s heart disease, heart disease, and diabetes is coming through the pack!  It’s diabetes, diabetes!  Here comes cancer and it’s gaining in the home stretch!  It’s cancer passing heart disease, passing diabetes, it’s cancer, it’s cancer widening it’s lead . . . cancer . . . cancer . . . and it’s cancer all the way!

As I said before, if we are “cured” of one aliment, it simply means that that particular potential cause of death has been eliminated  . . . for the time being.

I made that statement to a friend of mine and they accused me of being morbid.  Well, perhaps, but our “terminal” condition is something we all need to come to grips with.  Now, I am not saying that our eminent demise is something we should all dwell on . . . not at all.  What I am saying is that it is something we on which we need to have perspective.

In Psalm 39:3-5 the bible says, “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is..  How true this is.  What are we doing with our lives?  Are we wasting time away?  Are we presuming on God that we will be here tomorrow . . . and the next day and the next?  Are we putting off doing the things we want to door know we need to do in order to leave a legacy behind after we’re gone?

Have you been feeling a nudging or hearing a small voice inside of you telling you that you need to do something . . . call that friend . . . talk to that estranged family member . . . join that ministry . . . tell your spouse or kids that you love them . . . or come along side your friend who just learned his cancer is back?

That’s OK, you’ve still got plenty of time . . . hmm . . . remind me . . . just how much time was that?

As always, 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