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Weaning Me from the World

Randy Alcorn shares in 90 Days of God’s Goodness a quote from J.C. Ryle “There is nothing which shows our ignorance so much as our impatience under trouble. We forget that every cross is a message from God, and intended to do us good in the end. Trials are intended to make us think – to wean us from the world – to send us to the Bible – to drive us to our knees. Health is a good thing but sickness is far better if it leads us to God. Prosperity is a great mercy; but adversity is a greater one if it brings us to Christ. Anything, anything is better than living in carelessness and dying in sin.”

If you’re anything like me, then you too struggle under the heavy weight of hardships, of sorrow, of evil, of suffering that either touches us directly (or indirectly).

I’m determined to see my trials through the lens of eternity.

How about you?

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Tea and Sympathy? I’ll Pass on Both Thank You Very Much

The people used to strengthen us are never those who sympathize with us; in fact, we are hindered by those who give us their sympathy, because sympathy only serves to weaken us. Oswald Chambers

What think you?

I read this and contemplated the countless times I’ve called my good friends and complained over my lot in life.

I realized something really important.

The friends who love me most are those who are hardest on me. (Which begs the question, can we as adults, be “parented” by our friends?)

From where I sit, a good friend is one who listens to my moans and groans just long enough for me to know they’ve heard and felt my pain before they zing me (in the most loving way possible) with the hard truth of taking responsibility for my attitude and actions.

The zing is the key element of a true friend.

Rather than seeking out tea and sympathy I know that my real friends will give me what I need most not what I want most.

The distinction here is not stopping with mere kindness and compassion when a friend comes with genuine pain and suffering. It is offering much needed doses of tough love that will fortify your friend through the hard hours ahead.

Only truth (spoken in love) can accomplish that robust feat.

Squishy warm fuzzy feelings are all good…but they rarely supply what we need most in our hours of darkness.

So here’s to good friends who don’t stop at offering us a cup of sympathy but take their love a step further by spoon feeding us strong doses of truth that will strengthen us for the days ahead.

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Are You Who You Want to Be? When Pleasing Others Becomes a Prison of Our Own Making

I recall a conversation I had with a friend many years ago when I told him I was really hoping for an exciting life. 

I didn’t think I had expressed anything to A) get upset about, or B) react with disdain/disappointment over.

Evidently I did both.

This friend paused and then responded with a statement that ran something along these lines. 

Aren’t you asking for trouble in desiring an “exciting life?”

No, not really.

Maybe his idea of excitement runs different than mine. 

But all I meant was that I wanted to use everything I’ve been given to create something worthwhile, something (anything) that made my heart sing (when doing the creating) whenever I engaged in it. 

I know Max Lucado calls this finding our “sweet spot” when our gifts/talents/passions all meet together and then Bam! an explosion of wonderful feelings explode inside of us and this creative action then causes a chain reaction of beautiful expressions that bless other people too.

Which brings me back to my conversation from over thirty years ago (but which I still recall in high def clarity), I remember the sound of disappointment in my friend’s voice when I shared my heart. His response, though I’m sure he meant well, hurt me. 

It also caused me to doubt myself and invalidate my desires. I remember spending too much time after that talk trying to figure out if I was right or if my friend was.

Of course, every time I failed (which is, like, almost constantly) I heard his judgment ring in my ears and dampen my spirit. 

The funny thing is I can see myself speaking the exact same words today (and sometimes do) but now my reaction to my friend would be different. Night and day different.

I believe I would try to gently challenge my friend’s faulty assumptions and bring him over to my side. But I wouldn’t spend too much time trying to do so.

After all, life’s too short to waste so much time trying to convince somebody else my way is right (because, many times, it’s not.) 

Today is all I’ve got. It’s all you’ve got too.

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Year End Reflections…and Onward to 2019

Before we close out 2018…

I love taking some time to reflect on Oswald Chambers wise words from My Utmost for His Highest.

“Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ. Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”

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Grace…The Gift That Keeps on Giving

God gives us a free gift…life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Max Lucado writes —

One of the hardest things to do is to be saved by grace. There’s something in us that reacts to God’s free gift. We have some weird compulsion to create laws, systems, and regulations that will make us “worthy” of our gift.

Why do we do that? The only reason I can figure is pride. To accept grace means to accept its necessity, and most folks don’t like to do that. To accept grace also means that one realizes his despair, and most people aren’t too keen on doing that either.

If you find yourself here…wanting to do it yourself, earn your way, make it on your own steam…you’re not alone. 

But you’re also not right. 

Grace.
Alone.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Forever.

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What a Wonderful World

I’m not sure about you…but lately, I haven’t been thinking that this IS such a wonderful world.

Have you?

Seems like everyone I talk to is upset and troubled about something (or many things…)

Life is not easy.
It’s not.

I suppose if you turned off all electronic devices (and I’d like to see anyone try and succeed for more than 48 hours) and cocooned yourself in your home with the bare necessities (and refused to take any phone calls or answer the door to anyone)…maybe, just maybe then, for a brief 60 seconds you might be able to fool yourself into thinking that all was well in the world.

The truth is…all is not well and we all know it.

So what do we do about it?

If you’re like me…you’re not —

Rich
Famous
Powerful

Most folks aren’t (thankfully…but that’s another topic for another day.)

But, if you’re like me….you can do something today.

One.
Little.
Thing.

One little thing to make someone smile, to ease someone’s load, to bring a little laughter and hope.

That’s what I’m aiming for today (and to be honest…every day.)

Doing my one little thing.

How about you?

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Check Your Anxieties at the Door

faithfuture

Been feeling some anxiety about tomorrow or even later today?

Been wrestling with the unknowns or the weights of the world?

Been tossing and turning through the night?

Then join lots of other folks…

Here is a spiritual RX to help you settle down, calm down, and stay that way.

Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

Maybe you don’t want to trouble God with your hurts. After all, he’s got famines and pestilence and wars; he won’t care about my little struggles, you think. Why don’t you let him decide that? He cared enough about a wedding to provide the wine. He cared enough about Peter’s tax payment to give him a coin. He cared enough about the woman at the well to give her answers.

Max Lucado