Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is Your Place in Eternity?

This last week has been very difficult for me. Over the course of a few short days a faithful neighbor was killed a few feet away from my house and a beloved and much respected church member passed away unexpectedly. My mind has been playing nonstop memory loops of conversations, experiences, and correspondences created during my associations with these two friends. My thoughts won't stop running, and I can't sleep.

As death has once again diverged like a road in the wood of my life I have to stop and wonder about my place in eternity. I love my Heavenly Father, but life has maneuvered me into a circumstance where I am so BUSY that I can't seem to get my priorities in proper spiritual order. I know that I have blogged about this before, but my work continues to consume a great portion of my waking life and has created an extraordinary imbalance. To add to this, people, including some church people, have disappointed me to the point that I must confess that I have a sourness in my spirit right now, but that's a post for another time.

It was such a subtle transition that I don't even know how I got off track and can't seem to find my way back to rightsiding things to the way that they are supposed to be. As much as I live, breathe, talk, and try to represent God I find it shameful that I've allowed myself to be found here. As much as He has given and continues to give for us, the little bit of service that He expects in return is not too much for Him to ask.

As I continue to ponder my life and hopefully receive guidance from the Holy Spirit as to which path I should take to get back to where I should be I will continue to try to get a glimpse of the big picture. It's time to put His business first without excuse. As an old Nike advertising campaign used to say, "Just Do It."

I feel as if someone has thrown a cold wash rag on my sleeping face, and it's time to wake up.

Have you pondered your own place in eternity? If so, where did you see yourself? Do you find yourself putting God's interests first in your own life or has "busyness" overtaken you also?

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

Photo via stock.xchng user hadler.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just Say No

Today while doing some research for an article that I'm writing I came across a blog post by Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, that I wanted to share with you.  The title is 5 Reasons Why You Need to Get Better at Saying No.

Most people who know me offline know that I try to give the best of who I am to people.  I've taken it to such extremes that on occasion I've been accused of being a little too nice by those who are nearest and dearest to me. Along with this, trying to assist others in getting what they want and need on request hasn't worked out well for me at all in my personal life, Christian call to service aside. I tend to be the first-line resource for many within my circle of friends, family, and associates for things that they want and need.  Because the compassion in me won't allow me to say no it leaves me taxed, stressed, and lacking in taking care of my own business.

What bothers me most in this is that I can tell people yes 9 times out of 10, but if on that 10th time I'm forced to say no, there are some who are actually so ungracious as to get irritated--but that's a post for another day.

Over the last few years all of this has come to a head as I've been trying to balance widowhood, working, and carrying out my own personal projects.  I've become a jack of all trades and master of none.  I get everybody else taken care of, they waltz merrily off into the sunset, and I'm left to try to piece together the remnants of my own affairs that have been left undone.

I tell you all this not to complain because I bear part of the responsibility for what's going on by not being honest and just saying no to these requests as appropriate.  On today, though, in the spirit of my new-found resolution to achieve balance in my life I'm making a commitment to myself to make a more judicious use of the word no.  In every situation where I can help someone else without it overtaxing my personal resources and time, "yes" will still hold a fond place in my vocabulary;  in all others, I'll be saying "no."

My prayer is that we all learn to achieve balance in our lives in relation to how we deal with others but do so in a manner that still reflects the love of Christ.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all   thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.   And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.   On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." -Matthew 22:37-40, KJV
*Photo via SEO Consultants Directory. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Are You a Tortoise or a Hare?

The race isn't always
to the swift.
Remember the old fable about The Tortoise and the Hare?  Well, I've always been a hare (without the conceited part of course).  I like to get things done, and I like to get them done fast. Usually when a problem presents I immediately see the solution in my mind's eye, take ownership of it, and quickly get it resolved.

I also sometimes tend to be a procrastinator, easily getting distracted, and fairly certain that even though I'll complete a task quickly once I get started that I can keep putting it off until tomorrow as I get other things taken care of that I consider to be of higher importance. I've even had to wrestle with this same shortcoming as I've worked in the pursuit of my career goals.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Well, the Bible plainly states that this isn't the way to true and lasting success.  The old saying "slow and steady wins the race" is always the best policy when navigating through life, and over the last few years as I've continued to age and gain more wisdom my observations bear witness to that.  Fast money, quick-start relationships, and hasty decisions rarely come to a stable and sound end.

Success could be just around the corner.  

If you're finding that no matter how hard you try you can't seem to accomplish the goals that you've set for yourself, you may just be a hare.  Slow it down a little and consider that diligence, persistence, and consistency are virtues.  Sprinkle all of that with a healthy dose of patience, and you may just find that elusive finishing line starting to come into sight.

So, what about you? Are you a tortoise or a hare?
"The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want." -Proverbs 21:5, KJV
*Original source of photo unknown.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Where is the Love?

Let us love one another.

For a long time now a trend has been building among Christians where steadily our priorities are shifting away from God and our fellow man and onto ourselves, and the one quality that's supposed to separate us from the world and all other religious belief systems has fallen by the wayside. It's gotten to such a state that I feel compelled to ask the question -- where is the love? 

It used to be that if we couldn't identify each other in any other manner, we could surely recognize each other by the way that we mirrored the love of our Heavenly Father. We cared about each other, had compassion on those who were less fortunate, grieved for the hurting, and felt compelled to assist those in need. All of this seems to have been replaced by a spirit of a non-ending pursuit of entertainment, things, and money. The unspoken attitude has now become 'it's all about me.'

Even in the church, which used to be THE haven for the poor, hurting, and lost, people now barely fellowship with each other outside of their own cliques, and some churches are overflowing with a spectrum of dramas that would outrival the most highly-rated reality show. We don't really even seem to connect as a spiritual family any more. The coldness is so pervasive that many believers are losing their motivation to press on, much less try to win other souls for the Kingdom.

Let's make a pact to each do our part to turn this situation around. Let's agree to show at least one daily act of purposeful love towards someone, and I don't just mean one of your friends or someone in your family. Let's stretch it out to reach those outside of our inner circle. I daresay let's even try to reach out to someone who hasn't been kind and loving to us.  Let's ask the Holy Spirit to lead the way.

I really believe that with God's power that we each have the abiity to make the phrase, "Each One Reach One" more than just a mantra.

May you all be filled with the power of His love.
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35

*Photo via stock.xchng user ba1969.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Never Would Have Made It

As we continue to navigate through these difficult economic times and more people share their testimonies with me as to how God is keeping them, I'm reminded of just how far He has brought me, and I have to stop a moment and pray, "Father, truly, I never would have made it without you."  As I look back I marvel at how He was able to carry me through my trials ... and bring me out even stronger than I was before.

The important thing that I want to share with you is that if He could do it for me, then He's able to do it for you too.  It doesn't matter what you're going through -- job loss, debt, loss of a companion, persecution, loneliness -- don't despair and never give up.  Keep pressing.  If you can just have faith and cast your cares upon Him He's able to bring you through it all. The old folks used to say, "Trouble don't last always."  Know that the light at the edge of darkness is coming.  Pray, read, fast, meditate, and believe.  He's working your situation out for you even as you read this.

My prayer is that your deliverance comes soon and that He graces you with divine patience until your change is come.

I look forward to reading your testimony of how God worked it all out for you.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1, KJV
*Photo via stock.xchng user benipop.

Song of the day: Never Would Have Made It by Marvin Sapp (Click on the link or the image below to hear a sample.) 
Never Would Have Made It