He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, March 27, 2017

At My Breaking Point

          A friend of mine has recently been dealing with a lot of issues.  They range from health concerns to relationship problems both within her family and out.  She isn’t necessarily the one with the problem, but is in reasonably close proximity to those who are suffering.

            She said recently, “I’ve reached my breaking point.  I can’t take one more thing!  It seems every day something new shows up.  How much more am I expected to take without losing my mind?”

            I could relate to my friend because there have been times in my own life where the issues surrounding me seemed to be stacked higher than the Empire State Building!  I kept wondering when it would end.  The trials I faced ultimately, with God’s help, worked themselves out and I can look back on it with a degree of relief that those, at least, are over!

            We are human, defined and bound by the limitations of this world.  We slip and fall, crumble under the weight, and desire to break free of the chains that seem to never let us go!  When we give in to the stress and “hard knocks” life has doled out, we give up on God, too.  He has entrusted us with specific gifts to deal with anything that comes our way.  Sometimes we have to dig deep to find the gifts, but we’re designed to make it through!

            What’s more, we are also designed to reach for someone greater than we!  We have a God who picks up the pieces and fragments and puts them back in the right places that allow us to once again have peace.  We have the resource to take the focus off ourselves and turn it back on God.

            This is not much different than when Moses, in his anger, broke the Holy Tablets he had carried down from Mount Sinai.  He lost his temper and threw the Tablets down, shattering them to pieces.  But when he reached for God, with a broken heart over not only what the people had done, but what his wrath against the people caused, God in his mercy offered to inscribe the tables once again.

            We ask why do bad things happen to good people….and why do good things happen to bad people?  Life is often indiscriminate to status when it comes to circumstances beyond our control.  We all face disease and illness, death and heartache, financial and economic struggles, weather disasters, relationship strains, employment concerns, and general life pressures.  These are human conditions.

            God is infinite, yet understands all our dilemmas.  And He has the answer for anything our circumstances create.  But we must be willing to ask him for help and willing to admit our failures.  It is with a broken and contrite heart that God can meet us.

            I challenge you to go to Him in prayer with whatever problems you are encountering, in any area of your life.  He is there waiting to grant guidance and wisdom, forgiveness (if necessary) and direction if you really want it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Finding Focus

I read somewhere about how when we don’t have focus, the efforts of the body has issues; no direction, if you will.  We scatter everywhere, doing a little of everything and still get absolutely nothing accomplished.  I’ve done that; more times than I care to count.  It seems to happen most when I’m tired or when I’ve gotten news that somehow disturbs me.  It sets me off kilter and my mind just doesn’t seem to want to cooperate with what I need to concentrate on.  It leaves me feeling frustrated, unable to complete anything with satisfaction and in a way feeling a “little lost.”

            Sometimes sleep is the answer.  When my body is just “done,” I do best when I can stop and get what I call a “power nap.”  These short naps last five to maybe fifteen minutes.  While that causes some people to unravel, it seems to take the “edge off” my brain fog, and I'm able to once again focus!

            As an older college student, I was surprised with the amount of young people taking classes who did not have a clue what they wanted to do with their lives.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing as a person begins college, because often, just out of high school, young people are still discovering who they are, what they like, (or don’t) and even where they want to be!  Careers are very much in the formation stage!

            But as degrees are attained, or nearly attained, and the student still has no idea if they are even really interested in the area their degree is in, it becomes a bit disconcerting.  They change their direction, taking a variety of classes, while still trying to find themselves.  Rather than getting a degree and going to work, they find themselves in another three or four semesters of classes!

            It seems our minds come to a standstill, while we mull along, without really making any forward progress.  We try to fit in, as best we can, but because of our indecisiveness, we become followers rather than leaders.  Now, understand, not everyone is born to be a leader, yet our divided mind can’t even choose, as it is easily swayed with whatever seems “easiest” around us, at the time.

When we become confused with life’s decisions, the best thing we can do is fall on our knees and have a “Holy Conversation” with the Lord!  This isn’t only relevant to big decisions, although, it’s very important here.  But it is also applicable to those day to day decisions that we often give barely a second thought!

Life has a way of interfering with our best intentions. We get busy and neglect to even pause to remember God, who is supposed to be in charge of our lives.  When we allow our “neglect” to grow, we have attempted to snatch God’s control of our circumstances and handle things ourselves.  It doesn’t work well!  We need to focus on “the big picture,” but even more important than this, we need to focus on God, His plan, and His guidance.  It’s the best way to get our mind, body and spirit to work together!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Un-Sinful Weights


            One of my sons is an avid body builder.  I often tease him by saying he is “obsessed with exercising!”  Some days he only works out an hour, other days as many as three hours!  I, on the other hand, am lucky if I “really” exercise a couple of minutes an entire week!  I just don’t seem to have the motivation it takes to stay focused.  I’ve tried from time to time, setting out my time frame, creating both short term and long term goals.  I’ve used machines and just done workouts without any mechanical accessories and even just tried to walk consistently, and somehow those plans go awry!

            That’s not to say I’m not busy!  There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in any day that allows me to get all the things done I’d like to.  I’m not a “sit down” person and may only stay in my chair at my desk for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time, and then I’m up doing something else.  So, I am busy, but it hardly qualifies as exercise! 

            Paul in Scripture talks about how a ‘runner’ follows a specific regimen that enables him to be the best he can be.  That requires rising at a certain time, eating a healthy breakfast, exercising and working on his technique, planning activities during the day that are relevant to his competitions, going to bed at a scheduled hour, not eating bad foods, staying away from things that would inhibit growth, keeping focus and vision, determination and on and on.  The idea is that if he is serious about excelling in whatever competition he is in, he has rigid self-control!

            Needless to say, when I reflect on what “self-control” looks like for a ‘runner’ who is serious about winning the prize, I fail miserably!  It’s not just about setting boundaries, it’s about setting my eyes on the goal!  This analogy can be used in our relationship with Christ, as well.  Ultimately Christ is our prize.  How serious are we about knowing who He is and what it is He wants both from us and for us?

            When we approach Christ from this perspective we must recognize we need to put aside those “un-sinful weights” that have the ability to ultimately cause us to sin!  When our lives are so busy with “stuff” we can’t find time to spend “time” with Him, we are using “un-sinful weights” to sin!  That may sound odd, but think of it.  When we allow those things in life we enjoy doing, to crowd out Christ aren’t we putting them before God? 

            When we choose to allow life’s circumstances to weigh us down to the point of despair, aren’t we putting those “circumstances” before our First Love of Christ? We are to be joyful in all things!  When we let events in our work, or our life, to become mind consuming, we are not placing the calling God has for us, first!

            We may even say, “but wait!  I am ‘working’ for the Lord!”  The work should still be second, because God should be first!  It’s not about us!  It’s about Him!  It’s always about Him! Our faith and love of God is what enables us to ‘work’ and fulfill His purposes. When we put Him first, then our efforts can be rewarded.  When we put ourselves first we have failed….. we’ve let un-sinful weights ‘weigh’ us down and away from God.