Posted in Inspirational

Hats and bridges

Hats and bridges. That seems like an odd combination at first glance, and yet if you think about it, bridges can be a way to visit other places and thus observe many people and many ways and thus, many hats.

“Fear builds walls instead of bridges. I want a life of bridges, not walls.” – Lisa Wingate, The Prayer Box

Both are capable of many meanings. A bridge is much more than simply a way to cross a river, it is an avenue to new ideas and new cultures. It is a common denominator in many social equations, bringing together solutions with problems, cures with disease, and food to the hungry. We bridge economical gaps with financial bridges that bring needed funding to projects too important to fail.

“We are told never to cross a bridge until we come to it, but this world is owned by men who have “crossed bridges” in their imagination far ahead of the crowd. ~ Anonymous

A hat is also much more than a mere covering for the brain depository. A hat can cover a variety of social duties, often displaying warmth and good will through a simple touch to the brim or a slight tip.

“Cock your hat – angles are attitudes.” – Frank Sinatra

A hat shades out the harmful rays of the sun.  It adds a hint of mystery while remaining beckoning and inclusive as well as the prying gaze of the malcontent. It hides unruly hair in need of a trim, or screens the lack thereof as father time advances his follicle creep.

Advertisements
Posted in Inspirational

Give and Recieve

Lately we have been called upon to aid our adult children financially and have thankfully been in a position to fulfill their needs and sometimes, as a treat, some of their wants as well, all while fulfilling our own obligations and actually making some headway yet against our own debt. Our children consider these loans that they will repay someday, but we give them the money as a gift and we are able to do this now because I am maturing in my trust in God. I know that I can fulfill any need that God places before me with full confidence because God will, and in fact already has, put everything in place to meet all of my needs. I needn’t worry because the creator of the universe, the author of life, has my back.  Deuteronomy 15:10

I am not telling this to inflate myself or take credit for anything, but to serve as an example of a selfish and self-centered sinner who through the grace of Christ and His love has found that I am capable of doing unselfish things and putting others first. This has not come easy for me. I am not sure what in my past may have caused this need to hang on to the things that I have and to want the things that belong to others, but it has been a lifelong struggle to overcome these feelings and to open myself to feeling compassion for others to the extent that I can give away something that has value to me. I take no pride in the man that I am, but revel in the man that Christ is allowing me to become. I tell my story ashamed that it took so long to understand but in hopes that I can encourage others who may struggle as I do to find this victory.

This is the attitude that I strive for but, as I stated before, constantly struggle with my selfish nature. I am thankful that the feeling has become a more natural one, one that I can give in to with confidence. As a younger man I was fearful of losing what I had and not having what I needed. This paralyzed my ability to answer God’s call when he set before me someone with a need that I could help fill.  proverbs 11:24-25

Everything that I have is in my possession in case there is a need for it, whether by me or by others. And God continuously tells us that we should put others first. That is because others have some of the things that we need and cannot supply for ourselves and they have these things simply because we have a need for them. God knows everything that we need at any moment, He has known since He conceived us what our needs would be and he has made provisions to meet each one of them. But He doesn’t just hand us things. To make it through this life requires relationships. We were not created to be solitary creatures. We were created to fellowship with God and we are His representatives on earth. It requires reaching out and opening up and casting off preconceived ideas and prejudices. It requires caring about others and learning their stories and learning the purposes for the wealth that God has put into your life.  Luke 6:38

This may be why there are so many that have wealth but are not satisfied by that wealth. Instead it keeps them on the run, seeking one more thing to fulfill a need that still burns inside. They think that they can find it or buy it or earn it. The only way to earn it, though, is to give up possession of the things that you have so that you can obtain the things that you need. That does not mean to go out and give away everything that you have. Just be open to filling the needs of others and God will start to send to you the things to you that you need. These things arrive through relationships, and they will be finer than anything that you have achieved for yourself. These are the things that will complete you.  proverbs 28:27

Posted in Inspirational, Uncategorized

“The Victorious Christian Life, A Guide to Spiritual Success” by Dr. Tony Evans

I read “The Victorious Christian Life, A Guide to Spiritual Success” by Dr. Tony Evans. Dr. Evans writes in a style that makes it not only an easy and interesting read but also connects messages from The Bible to our modern lives.
The Victorious Christian Life is written to be read from start to finish, but I found it more effective to skip around after the introduction. If I skipped to a chapter that was pertinent to my current situation, I could easily navigate to related material using the excellent chapter titles and the section headings. I did not read the book with a review in mind, and so this review is of a book that filled a particular need at a particular time in my life. That the book seemed worthy of a write-up speaks to the effect that it had upon me.
For the person who is firm in their faith it is a wonderful confirmation of the rewards inherent in seeking God in all of our endeavors. Dr. Evans points out the joy of living each day for Christ and the many ways in which God rewards us for living for Him.
For the Christian who is struggling with his walk with Christ because of hardship in their lives it is a comforting explanation of the many obstacles that face us as Christians and a confirmation that there is a point to our struggles and suggests ways in which we can polish our lives to better reflect the glory of God. The book reminds us that our purpose here is to reach others for Christ. God does not want to lose even one of us, and we are His agents here. Our lives should be spent creating a better reflection of Christ and His life and resurrection.
I heartily recommend this book to everyone. It is easy to read, packed with useful tips for remaining grounded in The Word. Dr. Tony Evans powerful speaking presence comes through in this book, leaving you better prepared to live a satisfying and productive Christian quest. This book is one that you will want to keep on the shelf of your library. Packed with good advice and easily navigable, you will find yourself enriched each time you return to it.

The Victorious Christian Life
A Guide to Spiritual Success
Dr. Tony Evans
Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville

Posted in Inspirational

Where Do You Place Your Faith?

faith

Faith is a powerful and motivating part of our daily lives.  But where do we place our faith?  The answer to this question is vitally important to our happiness, our effectiveness, and our ability to learn and to grow.

Too often we place too much faith in our own wisdom.  While it is important to have faith in oneself; we would be paralyzed without it; that faith must be tempered with humility and respect for the source of that wisdom.  Even the wisdom gained from experience is tempered with the experience that has gone before, the experience of others who have contributed to our knowledge and learning as we grow and mature and become independent.  Our decisions are based not only upon our own experiences but also the wisdom gained through the ages, passed on to protect us, allowing us to navigate through a dangerous world.

Without our ability to reason and to impart knowledge learned through generations mankind would  be just another beast on this planet, surviving or not through instinct and individual strength.  Survival of the fittest would rule us.  The weak and the sick and the injured would simply fail to survive.

Without faith outside of our own knowledge, our own wisdom, there would be no advances, no medicine, no industry, or no agriculture.  If we placed faith only in our own experience mankind would simply not exist today.  There are too many pitfalls and predators that could eradicate us with our lack of defenses and the length of time required to attain maturity.  Natural selection, without our ability to reason and to pass that knowledge to each other and through generations, would not be our friend.

The connectivity that this faith requires is inherent in our nature.  It is a gift from our Creator reflecting the connection that guides our relationship to Him.  We are connected to each other because we are connected to Him.  He did not just put us here as a small piece of His creation.  We are the focus of His creation.  As such, our faith in Him is a vital part of our being and is a model of that faith that we have in each other that sustains us.

“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light”

“Faith allows things to happen.  It is the power that comes from a fearless heart.  And when a fearless heart believes, miracles happen.”

Mother Teresa

A faith in something that we cannot see is important.  We believe because we can see the evidence of Him, but without faith the evidence would be meaningless to us.  Thus is the model of trusting in the wisdom of others and their experience, without yet having that experience ourselves.  With faith we can then seek out the evidence ourselves without the painful discovery that often is a part of experience.  We do not have to touch the burner on the stove to believe that it will burn us; we have faith in the wisdom of our parents.  We don’t have to fail in business; we have faith in our mentors.  We don’t have to break our leg; we have faith in the one who warned us against perilous leaps.

Often we do fail, we do break our leg, or we burn ourselves.  It is in our nature to doubt, and this is an important attribute as well.  The same nature that allows us to learn from others wisdom also allows us to seek our own wisdom.  Without taking chances, there would be no advances.  Faith and doubt are brother and sister and this relationship is the very thing from which wisdom springs.

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”

Khalil Gibran.

Risk and caution are the other faces of faith and doubt.  Risk without hope of reward is a fools pursuit, but calculated risk, danger weighed against the possible reward, is the way of all advancement.  Wisdom applied to endeavor does not guarantee success, but tilts the scale in favor of it.

Faith in itself is a calculated risk, you have not experienced or seen something, but you trust the source and then can look for the evidence through your own gathered wisdom and the things that you can see for yourself.  Faith then grows of its own accord, gathering momentum through the things that you already put your trust in, or sometimes through the refuting of those things that have held back your true wisdom.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Faith is built on trust and trust is born of honesty and honesty will breed faith.

Faith enriches us, brings hope to our lives, and helps us to grow and move forward.  Faith brings us together, to the enrichment of all.  It is a fool who relies only upon his own counsel.  The wise man seeks knowledge, he does not invent it.

“Faith is reason grown courageous”

Sherwood Eddy

Increase your faith in God and you will increase your faith in others.  Increase your faith in others and you will increase your faith in yourself.  Increase your faith in yourself and do great things.

“Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Faith in each other drives our relationships and allows the coopperation that fuels the rise of our families, our industries, and our civilization.  Without our faith it would all simply crumble into fear and distrust and conflict.

Where do you place your faith?

Posted in Inspirational

(Poor) Judgement

The nature of judgment is on my mind.  The ways in which we judge each other and the events and natural elements around us; what constitutes good or bad in our eyes and how that differs from the way in which God judges.

God judges us knowing our hearts and our minds.  He knows our innermost thoughts, desires and fears.  He understands our motivations and can see the outer forces that affect those motivations.  He knows all of our pain and all of our joys because He came to us in human form through His son, Jesus, that He would experience all of these things on a human level, our level.  God is love and good and He would not condemn us whom He created and who He loves without knowing us fully and without understanding the way that we see.

He did not send His Son to provide a perfect example that we could never hope to emulate, but rather that we have a path to a relationship with Him face to face.  We are allowed, through Jesus, to look into the face of God, and to know that He knows.  His judgment is based upon truth, not perception.  His judgment is based upon who we are, not who we appear to be.

Our judgments of good and evil, what is right and what is wrong, is always based upon our perception of reality.  We judge the value of elements in the world around us as we perceive that they affect us individually.  If we are not happy with an outcome or encounter we judge it to be bad or evil, and if it brings us pleasure or gain we deem it as good.

How often have we deemed something good and later found that we suffer from the choices we’ve made?  How often throughout our lives have our opinions of things changed as we gather more information and experience?  How often do we suffer for the poor judgments of our youth, and how many of our loved ones and those around us suffered as we bumble through our lives, sure of ourselves until we aren’t?

And yet still we press on, confident in our own righteousness.  God tells us not to judge.  How much hurt and pain would be avoided if just one of us were able to fully follow that tenet?  As I look back on my own life and the countless misjudgments that I have made, based upon how I felt at that particular point in time, I can honestly say that the pain and hardship that I could have spared myself and more importantly those around me is massive.

I cannot counter that with the good that I have done or even the good that I think that I have done but again only in my present awareness (that “good” still has time to prove itself not).

In reality, I think that I am not qualified to pass judgment on anyone or anything.  A bee stings me and I deem it as bad, but that same bee pollinates the plants that bring life-giving nourishment and oxygen for my consumption, and some create sweet honey, and others help to recycle dead and decaying that, if left, would foster disease and death and instead turn it into life giving nutrients that enrich the soil and allow things to grow and flourish.  A wolf attacks a farmers livestock, harming the farmers livelihood and threatening family pets, but in the absence of the wolf the deer and elk overpopulate and become sick and diseased and eventually die off while smaller predators flourish and eradicate other species which renew and replenish the natural habitat.

Our judgment of good and bad is so subjective that truth is split into billions of pieces as each of us sees good and bad as how it affects us individually and those that we care about and even then our judgments for the good of those dear to us are different than their own judgments.  Feelings are hurt, families are torn asunder, communities argue, and wars begin; all because of our feel-good judgments.

What if we spent the energy and time that we waste on subjective judgment on learning about the things that we are repulsed by?  What if we left the judgment to the One who has the knowledge to make a decision of such impact and instead spent that effort in understanding that which scares or repulses us?  What if we could know why something hurts before we reject it as useless or evil?  Isn’t it easier to avoid the pain if we know why it hurts?  Sometimes it hurts to save us.

There are, by the best counts, over 7 billion people on the earth today.  There are over 7 billion stories to learn, over 7 billion sets of motivations to account for, over 7 billion different sets of eyes seeing the world from a unique set of circumstances, with different ways of judging the events and concerns that confront us.

Can we really pass judgment on any but our own actions from our own puny experiences, from our own little lives?

Only God sees each of us as truly a unique and worthwhile individual and only He who possesses the insight and wisdom can truly make an informed judgment on the worthiness and validity of someone’s concerns and fears.

We really don’t (or perhaps can’t) often make the right choice for ourselves without a sometimes painful process of trial and error.  How do we deem ourselves qualified to tell someone else that their pain, fears, or concerns are invalid?

Posted in Inspirational

Lessons On Relationship From “The Shack”

I have been re-reading “The Shack” (by William Young) and it is giving me some powerful new thoughts about my own relationship with God, the people that I love, and the people that I am around as I go through my daily life.

I am realizing that the politics that I have been so passionate about recently are really no more than distractions from the things that I should be focusing on.  Relationship.  That is what should be driving my life and the things that I do.  My relationship with God through Himself in the form of Jesus His son, who came to earth to be a man that I could know Him and through Him know the Father.  My relationship with Jesus, if given the proper importance and time would result in a much stronger relationship with Rhonda and my children, My mother and my sisters, and all of my family and friends, and it would also drive me to build relationships with others that I hardly know now and that I have yet to meet.

I do not elevate “The Shack” to divine status, or accept its premises as truth, but use the thought-provoking ideas within, concocted by a Godly man who has studied theology, as a jumping off point to open my exploration of how to strengthen my search and my understanding of God and the nature of His Son who was sent to bridge the void between The Father and me.

The book is based upon the premise of The Trinity and the relationship that exists between these three embodiments of the divine.  Separate and yet unified by nature, one in human form, one as spirit, and one as Most Holy God, They work in relationship, serving each the others in a model of what He intends for us, without need for authority or rule or law between the three parts of the whole as we could be if we followed in reality the tenet of “Love one another as we love ourselves.”  Care for each other as though we were caring for ourselves.  Want for each other what we ourselves have.

I want to do a lot more study into the nature of The Trinity and how God has created such a perfect way in which to reconcile and redeem us in spite of our desire for autonomy and self-determination.  In our desire for independence we shackle ourselves with chains intended to protect what we perceive as the freedom and happiness that we desire without realizing that these are the very things that separate us from each other and from our Creator and keep us enslaved to desire rather than fulfillment through the relationships that were designed to meet our every need.

We judge those around us before we ever know them and by the time we are able to learn who they are we have hopelessly altered our perceptions until at times we can never find the true person behind the misconceptions offered by appearance.  How many times might I have met someone truly amazing had I not looked and judged?

We are afraid to give because we struggle so hard to get, yet the effort given to the getting is often what keeps us from actually receiving.  So many times something that has consumed my time and effort, once obtained, turns out to be so of so much less value than the time and energy spent.  How much have these useless rewards diverted me from what I could have had, had I been less focused upon what I thought that I needed.

Relationships take our focus from those temporary things of narrow view and broaden our sight, often revealing what we have searched for all along.

God intends, I think, for relationships to provide us with all that we need.  Our relationship with Him and through Him our relationship with each other.  When we look past appearance and build a relationship, we find where the true value of our lives lie.

Many things keep us from looking beyond what we first see in each other.  Mostly these things boil down to a single word; fear.  Fear of losing something that we value, fear of rejection, fear of looking foolish, fear of bodily harm.  We see someone or something different from what we are used to and we fear that whatever change comes about, and there is always change when you enter into a relationship with someone, will be harmful or unwanted.  We fear that our expectations will not be met, or we fear that they will.

Relationships require faith.  A relationship with God requires faith.  That relationship will bring about change, and yet God does not require change in order to have relationship with Him.  A relationship with God will simply bring about change.

Posted in Inspirational

Memorial Day Just A Start

We spend this one day a year to honor those who have served in war and those who have fallen, as well we should, but what about the rest of the year?  Do we give enough attention for those other 363 days of the year to those that are willing to sacrifice so much so that we are able to pursue our careers and our leisure without thought to the fact that it is a dangerous world out there, and the only barrier  keeping that danger “out there” is the dedication and courage of the men and women of our military.

The members of our armed forces put up not only with deadly situations of war, but with a surrender of many of the personal freedoms that they have sworn to protect for the rest of us.  They live where they are told to live.  They submit to home inspections.  They can end up in jail for not performing their job.  They have to wear uniforms and they have a personal grooming requirement that most of us would not accept.  They must be ready to move on short notice, and even during peacetime they are separated from their families regularly for extended periods.

And they volunteer to do this!

I think that we owe these brave people not only our thanks and a day of remembrance, but we owe them our support year round.  We owe it to them to stop our politicians from using them as pawns in their obscene power struggles and insure that they are properly equipped and compensated for the invaluable way that they enrich the lives of each of us who is free to enjoy a long weekend or to pursue our dream career or any of the multitude of choices that face us.

These are the things that they are defending.  We shouldn’t let them struggle because of what they do for us.  Furlough the politicians and give bonuses to the soldiers.

Thank you to all who serve.  God Bless you.