Beat-up and Worn-down?

stressedAre there times in your life when you can’t seem to shake the petty frustrations of the day, and you plop in your chair feeling beat-up, worn-down, and thoroughly annoyed?

I never want these moments to become marathons, so I try to get a grip on my gripes by redirecting my attention. I do this by thinking less about my perceived misery and more on the character and promises of God.

A passage of Scripture that picks me up when I’m feeling down is Psalm 136. It’s a reflection on God’s mercy or the “steadfast love of God.”

The first three verses of this Psalm begin will a call to give thanks to God and each of its twenty-six verses reminds us that God’s mercy endures forever.

This Psalm is a diary of some of the defining moments in history when God intervened in an awesome display of His power:

  • The power of God is seen in His creative acts (136:5-9).
  • The power of God is seen in His faithful deliverance of His people (136:10-15).

The last four verses of this Psalm can strengthen your resolve when you realize that you are never beyond the reach of God, and He will remember you (136:23), rescue you (136:24), and He will restore you through His steadfast love endures forever (136:26).

Stop and Refocus

refocusIf you started today worrying about what might go wrong, I encourage you to stop and refocus your mind on these five words:.

Slow: Take a deep breath and slow down. When you walk in step with God, you will learn that His love is not measured by a teaspoon—it’s measured by the bucket loads.

Time: Take a minute or two to consider God’s goodness.

  • Psalm 34:8: Taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Oppose: Don’t yield to catastrophic thoughts that are characterized by words like must, never, and always. These three words are usually false. Discipline your mind so you think about the hope and joy you can have in Jesus.

  • Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Promise: Claim the promises the are rightly yours. You are not some pauper, you are a child of the King.

  • The key that gives you access to God is not your strength—it’s God’s grace.

I’ll close with some words that can open the door of your mind to some life-changing  thoughts:

Deuteronomy 31:6:   Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Mixed-up and Maxed-out

frazPeople come in many shapes and sizes. Some of them are disillusioned and distracted; others are inquisitive and interesting.  G.K. Chesterton was a wordsmith with a keen wit, and he said: There is no such thing as an uninteresting subject. The only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.

Some people are interested in everything life has to offer, but their interest span is about the length of a common housefly. Because they’re easily distracted by the saccharine promises of a Splenda world, they never find the time to consider the splendor of the Lord.

As a king, David could have asked for anything, but as a child he asked his Father for one: I have asked the Lord for one thing— this is what I desire! I want to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, so I can gaze at the splendor of the Lord and contemplate in his temple. ~Psalm 27:4

When your focus is mixed-up and your emotions are maxed-out, pause to consider the splendor of the Lord.  When you emulate David, you cultivate your thoughts, prune the weeds of your mind, and fine-tune the melody of your heart.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.  We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. ~Galatians 5:22-26

Maybe or Maybe Not

lender-decisionsShould I stay or should I go?  Should my answer be yes or no? Some decisions are easy to make, but there are times when choices leave us baffled and befuddled.

The solutions to some problems are quickly discovered and come as easily and flipping on a light switch.  Frequently though, life can be a perplexing journey filled with head-banging frustration as you seek an elusive answer:

  • Where should I live?
  • Which doctor should I use and which treatment should I try?
  • Should I keep the job I have or should I seek employment elsewhere?
  • Is this the person I should marry?
  • Which college should I choose to pursue my education?

Psalms 25:12:12 offers the assurance that, The Lord shows his faithful followers the way they should live. And, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

The question remains: How can you know that you’re making the right decision? Let me suggest a few questions that might help you focus your thoughts:

  • Am I violating any biblical principles?
  • Will my actions be an embarrassment to my parents or grandparents?
  • Is it legal, moral, and ethical?
  • Who will it help and who will it hinder?
  • What is the financial, emotional, and spiritual cost to me and my family?
  • Will my decision lead me to do what’s good, better or best?
  • Have I prayed about my situation?

When you confuse your wants and desires with your needs, making the right choice can be difficult. Your discernment can be hindered due to either wanting too much of the wrong thing or desiring too little of the right thing—both can be obstacles when you pray for guidance:

George Muller, a champion of orphans and an evangelist, once said: Nine-tenths of difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.

Here are four steps to consider as you chose your path in life:

  • Yield to God, and be willing to will the will of God for life (Joshua 24:14-15).
  • Spend some time in prayer and meditating on God’s word (Joshua 1:8).
  • Seek the counsel of the wise (Proverbs 19:20).
  • Don’t rush your decision; take the time to think it through (Proverbs 21:5).

In times of indecision, I’ve found comfort in Jeremiah 29:11; and I think you might as well: I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. ~Jeremiah 29:11

Resolute Resolutions

ResolutionsChristmas is now past, and the sights and scents of the season have been crowded into the pages of history by the hopeful sounds of labor pains announcing the imminent birth of a new year.  Among these sounds are the voices of the optimistic and determined who announce their resolutions for the new year.

Some will achieve the goals they’ve set for 2020, while the not so resolute will bury theirs beneath the dust pile of defeat.  A few words from the wise might hint at the difference between the two:

  • Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday. ~Napoleon Hill
  • For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” ~Steve Jobs
  • Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, planned for success. Before he left his office at the end of the day, he would jot down the top three things he wanted to accomplish the next day.
  • The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tony Robbins has said that the key to directing your life, is to recognize and control your consistent actions: It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.

To reach your goals, I suggest you need to perceive to achieve:  Identify what you are already doing and use it as a cue to prompt the appropriate action. Your daily routine is a good example:

  • After I pour my first cup of coffee, I will walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes.
  • Before I take my shower, I will do 10 pushups.
  • While I am eating breakfast, I will _____________.
  • When I take my coffee break, I will ____________.
  • Before I go to bed I will read ____ pages in a book.

If you are considering resolutions and goals to help you change and rearrange your life, I applaud your effort and leave you with two more quotes to serve as motivators:

  • Arthur Ashe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
  • Thomas Edison: Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Let us search out and examine our ways,
and turn back to the Lord. ~Lamentations 3:40

National Nap Day

yawnToday is the only way a person can make some sense out of Daylight Savings Time.  You may ask: “What’s so special about today?”

Today is National Napping Day, so go ahead and enjoy a big yawn and a little shut-eye of a nap.  When I was a kid, I detested nap, but I’ve become quite an expert in this somewhat healthy habit.

The Wall Street Journal has provided and infographic that will make a daydream believer out of you.how-to-take-the-perfect-nap_52261da483ffd_w1500

Resting from the labors of life is one thing, but you also need to remember to rest in the Lord:

  • Psalm 23 reminds us that God will revitalize and restore us.
  • Matthew 11 is an invitation to come to Jesus for rest
  • Revelation 14:13 is a promise of that day when God’s children will rest from their labors.
  • Even God rested on the 7th day after He had finished His creation.

Any day can be a cupcake day; but a nap is like the frosting that tops it off.

 . . . May God Bless You With Sweet Dreams . . .

Full of Grace and Truth

grace-and-truthThe message of the New Testament is to speak the truth in love, and not to use it to beat someone into submission.  When John wrote about Jesus, he described the Lord as being full of grace and truth.  Think about that for a moment and reflect on the manner of ministry embraced by Jesus.  What did Jesus do when He met the town prostitute at the city well?  Did he berate her with a long lengthy sermon?  No, He lovingly shared the truth with her and poured out His grace upon her.

What was the result of His one and one encounter with this sinful woman and the Savior of the World?  She drank from the cup of salvation and shared the water of life with those she knew, and revival broke out in her village.

Throughout the pages of John’s Gospel we see this same pattern repeated time and again.  The faces are different, the names are not the same, but the manner of ministry was always full of grace and truth.

When Paul wrote to the believers at Galatia, he said: If a person gets trapped by wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should help that person turn away from doing wrong. Do it in a gentle way. At the same time watch yourself so that you also are not tempted (Galatians 6).

What has always intrigued me about the verse above, is the phrase, those of you who are spiritual.  If we fail to embrace this manner of ministry, are we failing in our spiritual life?

There have been several times in my life that people have told me that I am full of things that I’d rather not discuss.  My hope is that when people observe my manner of ministry they see it as full and grace and truth.