Friday, April 18, 2014

“We are never fully free until we have fully forgiven.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus, (2014-02-25) from his book, The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art (p. 86). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Today, Good Friday is the day when we remember the greatest injustice that has even been done to an individual.  And it is a day that we see how it is to be handled.

Jesus, the only perfect man who has ever walked this earth was crucified as a common criminal.  No way was His death justified.  But do you know how He handled it?  Luke 23:34 (NLT), “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’”  Jesus forgave them and asked God, His Father to forgive them.

Now of course we want justice for injustice.  We want to throw the book at people.  No way am I going to forgive them.  They don’t deserve it” and that is true but we also don’t deserve to be forgiven either but we more times than not demand it.  Listen it was our sins, not just the Jews and Pilot who killed Him.  If justice were served we would be on that Cross but because of Him we can be freed.  But “we are never fully free until we have fully forgiven.”

So who do you need to forgive?   

Thursday, April 17, 2014

“Our experiences are not nearly as powerful as our memories.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus, (2014-02-25) from his book, The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art (p. 85). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
I was thinking after reading this of a bad experience in my life that was a good memory.  It happened different times in my life.

My father was a minister and for half of my home life he was an evangelist.  In other words, we as a family traveled from church to church holding meetings.  For a big part of the time we lived in a house trailer, that’s what they were called back then and we would leave one church on a Sunday night and travel to the next one and start services there on Wednesday.  We would be there from Wednesday through two Sundays. 

Sometimes it would take all of the money we were given at the last church to get to the next one and somewhere in that next week we would run out of food if the church we were holding meetings in didn’t give us a food allowance.  Now that could have caused me to be angry at God and turn my back on the Church.  I mean we were out there doing all this good work and we were hungry but that is not what happened.  That bad experience is a good memory to me. 

What I remember is that my mom had the ability to go into a kitchen that had nothing in it and make a meal.  She was awesome.  I learned by that bad experience how to survive and to roll with the flow and of how God would always provide.  A bad experience but a powerfully good memory.  God used it to show that He would take care of us no matter what.

Erwin shares, “What has happened to us is not nearly as powerful or as formative as our interpretation of why it happened. Our most destructive emotions, such as bitterness and forgiveness, root deeply into the human soul not because of what happened to us but because we haven’t resolved the issues of why. Why would someone hurt you? Why would someone betray you? Why would God allow this?”

I am so thankful that God gave me parents who knew God and knew that He could be trusted and that He would take care of us.

Connie, my sister and I were with mom a few weeks back celebrating her 90th bd.  It was such a special time.  On our last night together we were reminiscing about our time together and Connie and I both shared with mom of how we loved our life.  Yes, we didn’t always have our own house but we always had a home and we loved it.  Some bad experiences, sure but a whole lot of good memories.

What are you holding on to?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

“Prayer for Jesus is not about techniques, but trust.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 186). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.

I know that people who don’t know me but who see me out walking the streets everyday think I am a homeless schizophrenic.  Now I am neither but I do walk a lot and I do talk to someone while I am walking.  I do a lot of praying while I walk.  I had two occasions today when I was praying out loud and someone passed me.  They didn’t look back but they did seem to walk a little faster.

Now that may not be the best technique but it works for me.  I love walking and talking to my friend, Jesus.  I found it very meaningful today.  While I was walking and praying the first time I worked through an attitude I was having toward someone who was very hurtful and critical of my Pastor.  God helped me through that time and gave me the assurance that He would encourage my Pastor and his family during this situation.  I find conversing with God puts things in perspective. 

And the other walk time I had I was praying for another extremely important person in my life and the stress of their day.  I asked God to sustain them, to strengthen them and to guide them.  He even encouraged me, letting me know that He was working in and through me and that He would use me in the tasks He has for me today. 

Do you even take time to pray to your best friend, to let Him know your concerns, your bad attitudes, your hurts emotionally and physically?  Do you trust Him like that or are you so concerned about doing prayer right? 

I like how Leonard says it, “Jesus revolutionizes the practice of prayer, not by introducing new forms of prayer, but a new focus for praying. Prayer for Jesus is not about techniques, but trust. If we are to experience God as Jesus experiences God, which he instructed us to do, then Jesus’ experience of God was not one of Absolute Other or Ground of Being or even as Creator of the Cosmos. Jesus experiences God as the loving Parent who has entered into this unique relationship with humankind and delights in our presence.”

So what do you need to tell your Heavenly Father today?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“Some things need to die in our lives.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 175). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.

As I was walking back home after doing some reading at the local Peet’s Coffee I was thinking about some of the things that worry me here at 66 going on 67.  They are things that haven’t really bothered me but they do now with my getting older.  And I was wondering what it was in my past that is causing me to be bothered about not having enough money to live on after Margaret retires too.  I never have been concerned about money but now I am.  Why?

Of course some would say that I need to be concerned.  I understand that but why is my faith lacking now when I have always lived my life with faith that God would take care and He always has?  And the thought went back to those weeks when we were really close financially and we had to be very careful and remembering how I felt trapped in those times.  I was very anxious and I was hard to live with and I don’t want to live that way.  And this thought brought me to the task of letting those memories and fears die.  They don’t need to be the controlling memories but the times that God always brought us through and supplied our needs can be and must be the controlling memories. 

Leonard continues the thought, “Some things need to die in our lives: giving up a bad relationship that is dragging us downstream, giving up a bad career that is slaying our souls, giving up a bad grudge that is hanging on and hanging us up, giving up a dream when its pursuit causes untold health problems.”  Somehow by God’s help we need to let them go.  Find those memories that give you hope and faith and courage and let them control you. 

There is a renewing of our minds by God's Spirit that gives us a new perspective of our life that God wants us to have.  Ask Him to do that in you.

So what needs to die in you?

Monday, April 14, 2014

“People only become slaves when they have lost their dreams.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus, (2014-02-25) from his book, The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art (p. 54). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

What is your dream?  What is it that keeps you going every day and that energizes you each week to deal with for some the monotony of life?  Yes the monotony of life has within it the potential to enslave us.  I‘ve got to get up and do it all again but if you are getting up to fulfill a dream then you are not enslaved but you are free.

I hurt so much for people who are enslaved by the worries, the cares, the aloneness and monotony of their lives. I understand that and I have to fight that every day that I get up.  And I see even at 66 almost 67 the need for a dream.  The battle happens when I tend to be malnourished emotionally and spiritually.  If I haven’t spent enough alone time with God for Him to reinforce and rekindle the dream that He has for my life even at 66 going on 67 then I will start to focus on things that will bring me down emotionally and spiritually.  We cannot be enslaved to our situations.  That is what Satan wants to do.

That’s what Satan did to Adam and Eve in the Garden.  He enslaved them to look at what they couldn’t do and caused them to takes their eyes off of the dream life that they had.  What is he using to rob you of the dream life that God has for you?  It is the feeling of rejection, of being alone, your health, your finances, your age?  What is keeping you from the dream life that God has for you? 

Why not spend some time with Him and give Him your laments, your pain, your loneliness and let Him refocus your life on the dream that He has for you and He has one.   Even if you are 66 going on 67.  It may take some work and effort but it will be exciting and worth it. 

Also why don’t you go up to the title of this book I am reading, click on it and go to, buy it and start reading it?

So when you are going to spend some alone time with Him?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

“To find our own voice, we must first wrestle with the voices inside our brains.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus, (2014-02-25) from his book,  The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art (p. 43). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

There are so many voices in us clamoring for attention and control.

I have spent my morning at Starbucks reading two newspapers and spending time with my friends.  I sat there in my spot with my Dodgers’ hat on reading about how they lost last night and then talking with my friends about what happened.  That is a voice that is inside of me.  It is a voice that has been a part of me since I was a child and it is a voice that at some points has to be controlled.  I used to get so upset when they lost.  It would affect my mood but hopefully I have matured.

Now after I left Starbucks I walked about a mile to Peet’s Coffee & Tea where I pulled out my Kindle and did some reading preparing for sharing some thought on this Blog today.  I read and then pulled out my phone and ear phones and started my walk to home listening to Erwin McManus share from his new book and he was talking about this section on finding our voice.  It was very challenging and very inspiring and I was ready to write until I got home and opened up an email from my cable company telling me why they weren’t yet carrying the new Dodgers’ network and my inner voice changed from inspiration to frustration.  And a wrestling match of competing voices started inside of me.  But I realized what was happening so I went to my computer and found this quote and started writing.  There are so many voices within our brains clamoring for attention.

Erwin continues, “Some of those voices could hold us captive the rest of our lives. Some of those voices, if we choose to give them power over us, will make us become less and less as we listen to them more and more. Some voices inside will silence our souls and leave us without a language to express who we really are.”

Now I realize that the voice of the Dodgers’ has great sway over me and I have to keep it in its place and it does have its place.  But it doesn’t compare to the voice to share with you something that will make a difference in your life.  That is the voice that God has placed in me that controls me that fulfills me but there still is this wrestling match that goes inside of me.  And that voice needs to be cultivated and fed and nurtured and listen to. 

You and I were created by God with a unique voice that other voices strive to take captive and control.  The voice of the Dodgers is a voice that can take me captive and control me.  It has to be constantly wrestled with but it will never win as long and I keep God’s voice of who He created me to be at the forefront of my life.

So what are some of the voices you wrestle with?    

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

“All too often… the voices that speak early and deep into our souls are more destructive than constructive.”

A thought by Erwin Raphael McManus, (2014-02-25) from his book, The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art (p. 42). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

That is so true for so many adults today.  Erwin says, “I meet so many people who carry an internal narrative that they have no value and no worth, and are not worthy of love. Some forty-year-old men are still fighting off voices that spoke to them when they were four years old.”

What voices inside of you are you listening to?  Maybe it is the voice of an unpleasable parent who listened to their unpleasable parent and lived with that voice inside them and carried it through to you.  Maybe it was a teacher or a coach.  Maybe it was someone who believed in you.  That voice of mom or dad who did all they could to make you feel special resounds inside of you every time you face something new.  What voice are you listening to?

Erwin continues, “What others think of us, what others have said about us matters, has power, only when it becomes what we think of ourselves and what we say to ourselves about who we are.”

So there is a choice for us.  If it is a negative, put-down voice then we need to do all we can to ignore that voice.  And that can be very tough but it can be done. 

I have for many years spent a lot of time in the book of Psalms in the Old Testament.  It has a way of being honest about the laments of our lives and then turning them into praises.  Psalm 109:30 & 31 (NLT) says, “But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.”   Do all you can to break the negative voices of your past and listen to the positive voices of the present and of your future.  Change the deconstructive into constructive.   

Psalm 126: 1– 2 says, When the LORD brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream!  We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy.”  Let Him start to change the voice inside of you to hope, dreams and joy.

What voice do you listen to?