This is the day that the Lord has made...

This is the day that the Lord has made...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Character Building:101

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I can still remember his last breath, watching his chest heave and then relax.  I can remember thinking for the previous 10, that was his last. But then, another breath would follow. And then they stopped.  The loss of my father was a game changer.

For the previous 37 years of my life, I would consider myself a winner.  I mean, I experienced defeat in sports and in relationships and some of the more trivial things in life.  But for the most part, I could pretty much consider my life a success.  So much so that, as I reflect, I really had no significant need for Christ in my life.  Sure, I was a Christian.  I went to church on Sunday.  I even prayed at meal time.  So far as depending on Christ, not so much.  I was pretty sure I could do anything I set my mind to and often believed I did have a cape to go with the attitude.  Until the passing of my father, I had never truly experienced a meaningful loss.

The game changed in relatively short period of time. One loss lead to another, that lead to another and another.  I can succinctly remember thinking to myself amidst the chaos and turmoil of my new life, "can't I just get a win here, Lord." It was during this time that I turned to Christ because I was all out of answers, energy and life.  I prayed to our Lord to save me; save me from myself, this world and all the pain I was suffering.  I knew that things would be better now with Christ in my life.  I knew Jesus would step in and pull me from the raging river of turmoil, loss and pain that I was stuck. Instead, he gave me a paddle, which looking back, was the greatest gift I've ever received.

I'd always read that character is built in times of struggle, turmoil and loss.  And to some extent, I would agree.  I believe, however, that while character is built  during hard times, it requires the love of Jesus to chisel and forge that new man or woman from the old.  While I know the earthly loss of my father was a blow, I also know that Jesus said He would be with us to the end of the age.  To me, this means that in the end, I will always be a winner because of Him.  I praise and thank God today for his unending, undying and unlimited love for me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Prideful World

John 15:5 (NIV)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

One of my greatest personal, ongoing disappointments is the frequent uprising of pride.  So many times each week, or worse, each day, I react to the world with my earthly prideful instincts.  It seems that the world we live in has a powerful diverging influence that continuously strives to pull me away from my spiritual centeredness.

As an entrepreneur, I am consistently afflicted with the need to promote myself in order to maintain and grow my businesses.  I struggle with the well-publicized notion that if I am not selling myself, daily, how can I expect my business to thrive.  And, worse yet, the further I am away from Spirit, the easier it is be creative in this manner of prideful self-agrandizement.

Some might say that I am too hard on myself, that this is just the way it is in business, or that sometimes you just have to ignore your spiritual teachings when it comes to this aspect of life.  I disagree.  I believe this exactly what Jesus was referencing in John 15:5 in my need to remain in him.

I can't count the number of times I've learned my lesson the hard way believing that I can do this on my own.  While it may appear that there is some earthly gain in my prideful efforts, inevitably there is a greater price to pay in the long run.  Most often, that price is a breakdown in my relationship with Christ.

I am always amazed at how strong my relationship is and how peaceful and rewarding life is when I am pursuing Christ and the principles He has given us.  And, conversely, how broken and empty and difficult life is when I am moving away from Him.

I pray today that the Holy Spirit would continuously arouse my awareness to the first mis-step I may take that leads me away from what is good, what is right and what is the truth.  And I pray that I might be a forever growing branch on the vine of Life, producing abundant fruit in season and be pruned delicately for the next season of growth in Christ.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Harvest Season

John 15:16 (NIV)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit---fruit that will last---and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

As we come into harvest season, it reminds me of the many lessons I have learned about sowing and reaping.  There can be no harvest, of course, without the planting of and caring for the seeds that were planted.  The farmer knows, through education and experience, that certain actions are needed throughout the growing season to insure that he has a crop to harvest in the fall.  His tender seeds require water, warmth, cultivation and host of other needs to meet in order to attain the level of harvest he anticipated at planting.

Notice, the farmer doesn't simply plant the seeds and then leave them on their own, simply hoping for  a good crop.  Instead, he invests copious amounts of time and resources in the seeds he planted, all the while having great hope for an abundant future harvest.

I have to ask myself, daily, am I nurturing and caring for the seeds that I have planted?  The prayers, offerings, gifts and time that I dedicate to the fulfillment of the Lord's purpose in my life are minimized in returns if not continuously attended to through continued prayer, thought and action.

Jesus tells us that He chose us specifically in order to bear fruit- fruit that will last- when we do so in His name.  If I want my bountiful harvest to last, it is up to me to do the work required to achieve the result desired.  This means personal accountability: spending time daily with Him; continuous fervent prayer for those people, things and opportunities that I have asked of Him in His name; frequent nurturing of the new "seeds" I have helped to plant in His kingdom.

My faith comes alive when I take on the farmer's mentality and realize that the fruit that I bear, fruit that will last, is a result of the time, energy and work that I put into it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


"A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish."  Psalm 49:20
There are many pursuits in life that require daily focus, attention and discipline. To excel in one's career is one of these areas. To be satisfied with the status quo requires very little effort, therefore, that is why we see so many people, in my opinion, underachieving.

To continue with this example, you don't have to go further than the nearest bookstore to learn what it takes to make it to the top in "the world." The number one selling genre of books are those providing understanding in the area of personal growth and development. Many of the world's most successful and influential people will tell you that you can judge a person by the quality and size of their library.

I, myself, tend to believe that this virtue is accurate. The people I have chose as mentors in my life have all been extensive readers who are consistently seeking understanding. As I've grown older, and matured, I have seen a shift in the people that I have chosen to model and follow. Early in my life, I studied principles and practices of those who had amassed and achieved great business success and personal wealth. I discovered over the past year of reading, writing and studying scriptures that my definition of success has changed.

It has become apparent, by looking around outside of me as well as inside of me, that one of the most profound pursuits of my life must be understanding. The verse written above exemplifiesthis concept. A man that amasses wealth for the good of serving himself is a life wasted. Without the understanding and knowledge that the Lord gives us all things to serve him, we miss out on the greatest treasures that life has to offer.

To excel in one's career and achieve success and prosperity without having the understanding that we are designed to serve the Lord and one another, we have the ability to change and influence on the a few lives. To do the same, but have this understanding, we have the ability and opportunity to change the world. As in so many aspects of life, hereto, we have to make a choice. And I ask, how do you choose?

Monday, July 25, 2011

We Are Not Alone Here

Meaning.  How do we find it, where should we look, how do we know when it has been uncovered?  Big questions, that for centuries, have turned people in a multitude of directions in pursuit of just that...meaning.

I was taught many years ago that nothing has meaning until you give it meaning.  And for some, they give WAY to much meaning to just about everything in their life.  The color blue existed before we did, and, existed as something other than "blue" until we named it blue, and gave it meaning.  The moon was around long before we called it the "moon" as were horses, raindrops, clouds and crickets. 

My point here is that meaning for all of these things is given by our educated minds so that we might communicate and give reference to these "things" and have others know what we are talking about.  Think about how confusing life would be if I labeled the color red, "blue".  It would created a silly amount of stress and strain in my life until I changed the "meaning" of the color that we all know as red.  Therefore, most things that we label and give meaning to are based on a "worldly" perspective, or in some cases, consensus.

The same concept is true in our spiritual lives in that nothing has meaning until we give it meaning, except here, there is no consensus.  Our point of reference for giving meaning spiritually to our lives comes from the One.  The One that Jesus said he was returning to.  The One that Jesus said all things come from.  The One that was there in the beginning and will be there in the end.  The One that has sent the great Counselor to be with us every step of the way.

We are not alone here, in this journey of life.  We do not have to give meaning to what it is we do and experience everyday.  The One has already done that for us by instilling in each of us a purpose that is higher and mightier than we can comprehend. The challenge we face is listening, for the great Holy Spirit does not always speak in our language as Jesus told us.  This means that we have to quiet our educated minds, turn down the "loudness of life" so that we might "hear" the Holy Spirit speak to us.  God did not leave us alone for a reason.  He knew that this life, in the world, was going to be tough.  So tough and brutal and horrible and unreasonable and wicked that the only way He, the most powerful force in the Universe, could provide help, was by sacrificing His son.  Think about that for a moment.  The only way God saw fit to help us out was by taking the life of His most precious son.  Would you even contemplate sacrificing your child to help anyone else?  And, AND, He controls all aspects of the Universe, which to me, seems like there might have been another way to bring us help.  But, no, there wasn't.

Jesus died for me, so that I might receive the Great Comforter and Counselor to guide me and support me in and through all the ways of my life.  Praise God today for the blessing of the Holy Spirit and all that He brings into our lives.  Thank God he never left us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

He Will Provide

How much have I sacrificed for Him?  What am I willing to give up in my "life" so that I might gain an "eternal life"? 

Living for God instead of living for me is the start.  It sounds good.  It's easy to say.  Yet it is nearly impossible to follow through with.  Why?  Because we are human.  Built to sin.  Designed to serve ourselves.  Since the fall of Adam, we have been struggling with an overdeveloped ego, living based on our own individual needs. 

But why would we live any other way?  I mean, it is MY life after all, should I not strive to meet my needs, my families needs?  Here is the realization that I have come to: Living for me continues to create one need after the next; living for God, there are no needs because He is sufficient.

This is a huge point.  God, the creator of the universe, the one and only who keeps it all in balance, is perfect and void of nothing.  When we open our hearts and minds to Him, we take on the consciousness of the Spirit, which is the great provider, the great comforter.  With the Holy Spirit, there is no need or lack for the Spirit is sufficient enough.

Just as darkness is the absence of light, need is the absence of the Spirit. The further we are from God, his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the more perceived need we will have in our lives.  This is why when anyone wanted to follow Jesus, he told them to leave everything, don't worry about your family or your belongings: I will provide for you everything you need.

The same is true right here, right now.  He will provide.  He will meet every need if we are willing to let the dead bury the dead and follow Him.  Are you willing to leave everything you know behind and follow Him?  That is what He is asking of us.  That is the God of the scriptures- holy and merciful- yet jealous and vengeful. 

To have enough faith in the Lord for complete sustenance, complete fulfillment is my goal.  This is where I want to be.

Monday, June 13, 2011

You Can Turn the Whole Horse

I was taught a  long time ago that what you say, how you say it and to whom you speak it can play a significant role in the peace, joy, success and harmony that you create in your life. It is for this reason, I  believe, that the book of James has a whole chapter on taming the tongue.
When we put bits in the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.  James 3:3

Consider the way you answered the question, "How are you?" the last time it was asked of you.  Most of us are not truthful in the response, primarily because we know the one asking the questions really isn't concerned about how we are.  We know they are just using that as an unconscious introductory phrase.  The challenge in this is that the words we speak have meaning to our subconscious mind and spirit and have a tremendous impact on the outcomes of our lives.

When we become conscious communicators, that is, consciously observing the words we choose in conversations with others and ourselves, we can impact the course of our lives.
          The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21
Choosing to use common phrases such as "My back is killing me" or "That just makes me sick" impacts the activity in the psychosomatic workings of the brain (consciously or non-consciously) which in turn plays out in our daily lives.

The verse from James talks about being able to turn the whole horse by controlling the mouth.  We are not any different.  If we can learn to control our mouths, especially the words that come from it, we can change our life.  The words we choose, as you we know, can either be constructive in the world, or destructive.  Just the same, the words we use when talking to or with ourselves, have the same constructive or destructive value.  This is why calling yourself a dummy or stupid, or saying things like "I could never do that" only reinforces your current false beliefs.  Scripture says that faith comes from hearing the word and this is not only valid for faith in Christ Jesus, but other areas of life as well.

If we continually are told how ugly, or stupid, or slow, or incompetent we are, over time, that builds faith in the fact that it must be true.  The same is true for the other end of the perspective as well.  The more we hear how sweet, or smart, or beautiful we are, the more we tend to believe it.

The words you think and speak are as powerful as the elevators on the tail of a 747 jet.  One slight change in a positive or negative direction will either lift the jet up or cause it drop.  Take some time today to contemplate the words you use.  Watch what happens around you when you decide to lift yourself and others up with your words, rather than beat you and them down.