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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

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Entering the Conflict Zone: Peace-loving vs. Peace-making

Recent, marked the first of ten classes that I’m leading where we’re studying a book titled, Pleasing People: How Not to Be an “Approval Junkie”.

Okay, time for truth here. When I first read/reviewed this book some years ago, I thought, well, I’ve got lots of struggles…to be sure…but being an approval junkie isn’t one of them.

Wrong.

Once I read this book through, I realized I am definitely not immune from this insidious disorder as the author puts it.

So, as I’m rereading the text and highlighting the sections that stick out to me (or more accurately grab me by the throat) I’ve realized how much of an approval junkie I am…with certain people, mind you.

Below I’ll list some thoughts people pleasers inwardly fret over that author Lou Priolo says are common characteristics of being an approval junkie (aka a people pleaser).

Take a deep breath…you might even see yourself in a few of these surprising and heart revealing scenarios.

Writes Priolo —

The love of man’s approval is inextricably bound to the fear of man’s disapproval. When a people pleaser interacts with others, his thoughts immediately and instinctively run in the direction of selfishness, anxiety, and fear.

I’m not prepared to meet this person.
What does he think of me?
I’ll probably make a fool of myself.
I can’t reveal too much of myself or he will know what I’m really like and reject me.
I can’t bear the thought of being hurt again.
I have to get away from this person as quickly as possible.
I have to be careful not to say anything that might get me into a conflict.

A people pleaser is not a peacemaker, but rather a peace lover. A peacemaker is willing to endure the discomfort of a conflict in the hope of bringing about a peaceful resolution. A peace lover is so afraid of conflict that he will avoid it at almost all costs. He is essentially a coward at heart.

I don’t know about you, but when I read this section I realized how often I am the cowardly peace loving person rather than the brave peace making person. 

And that, my friend, has to change.

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Dwelling on These Good Things

During a discussion on panic/anxiety and the like; I read a specific portion from the book we’re studying on the power of the mind and how the thoughts we mull over pertain to our general outlook on life. 

What I found the most helpful in this section was the authors’ statement that each of us has to learn to discipline our thoughts (take them captive) in such a way that we do not, ever, ever, ever, take on tomorrow’s responsibilities (burdens, worries, and fears) today.

For when we do start down that dismal road of “what if’s, what will I do, and what will happen if?” There’s no turning back (at least not without lots of concerted effort and back-tracking hard work.)

Read what famed theologian, C.H. Spurgeon preached to his congregation back in the 1800’s.

Many of God’s people are constantly under apprehensions of calamities which will never occur to them, and they suffer far more in merely dreading them than they would have to endure if they actually came upon them. In their imagination, there are rivers in their way, and they are anxious to know how they shall wade through them, or swim across them. There are no such rivers in existence, but they are agitated and distressed about them… They stab themselves with imaginary daggers, they starve themselves in imaginary famines, and even bury themselves in imaginary graves. Such strange creatures are we that we probably smart more under blows which never fall upon us than we do under those which do actually come. The rod of God does not smite us as sharply as the rod of our own imagination does; our groundless fears are our chief tormentors.

I don’t know if you can relate to this vivid description of self-imposed mental torment, but I sure do. Going back to our class discussion (and from what various people shared,) I’m not the only one. 

Which is why I keep coming back to the this single statement found in Philippians 4, “Be anxious for nothing.” 

And last time I looked, the definition of nothing means just that…nothing. Not worrying about 80% or 50% or even 99% of a problem…nothing means zero.

So what should we set our minds’ focus on?

“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, what is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute…dwell on these things.” 

I like that.
I will aim for that type of mindset because the alternative is, well, just plain scary.

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Living Bravely Makes Another Reader Happy

“JD is enjoying his new devotional book!!!! Thanks for writing this kids’ devotional! I love that each entry is one page and gives both practical application and thoughts for his racing mind to ponder. First thing JD was drawn to was how colorful the pages are! Thanks for providing one more tool to help us train our kids and pass down our Faith. We pray our son lives bravely in an increasingly hostile world.” 😍😍😍😍