Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What does your friend need to hear?

     It's been some time since I posted a blog. June 27, 2012. But today news of a friend's deep trial came to my attention. It's been a very long one and has included issues that will have long term consequences. Things are beyond her control or capacity to bring about a good outcome. My friend is seemingly at the mercy of a very evil person. 
     What do we say in such circumstances? "Hang in there. God's timing is perfect. You just need to trust Him, etc." Those things are true but not the best things to say to someone in deep agony. 

     Nearly two years ago now (July 9, 2012), my youngest son died after trying to keep a boy from falling into dangerous waters. There was a phrase which was repeated by some during those days that really comforted me. "I have no words". Those words said something that really touched my core. "Your grief is beyond measure". The weight of my trial was conveyed. It gave permission to grieve. It knit our hearts together. 

     Job's friends, book of Job in the Bible, are examples of what not to say. They didn't believe that you would suffer without provocation, so kept urging Job to confess sin! It's all too easy to begin judging a friend who is taking a lot of unexplained hits. 

     "No words". How much better to sit...just sit...with a friend in agony.  With no words. Listen. In silence. "No words". And pray. Pray for strength for them in their weakness. Pray for peace in the midst of fear. Pray for comfort in grief. Pray for wisdom in the turmoil. Most of all, pray for God's presence in the storm. God promises strength in our weakness, peace in the storm, wisdom in billowing waves and presence with us always. His words are always appropriate and perfect.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We live in an extremely fast paced world and often do not give ourselves permission for rejuvenation. Jesus recognized the need for his disciples. Too much noise, too much traffic, and too many people. So he said, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." This isn't the first occurrence in the Bible acknowledging and meeting the physical needs of someone. Elijah had run away from Jezebel and in his exhaustion and discouragement asked God to take his life. He then fell asleep. He was awakened by an angel who urged him to eat a meal already prepared for him! He slept again; once again he was awakened and instructed, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you."

Are you feeling that your journey is too much for you? God knows it is. He provided for Elijah's needs, stating that nourishment was necessary for Elijah's long journey. We are physical as well as spiritual beings. In your efforts to be "Super Christians" are you forgetting the importance of your physical needs being met? Nourishment, rest and quiet are three mentioned here. Your list may be different. Ponder what your list would be. Without attention and time given to these, our spirituality becomes a chore, even non-existent...leading to discouragement. Again, Jesus said, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mk.6:31

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monster thoughts

Who would let a monster in their home? We have locks, deadbolts, security systems of various types. Some even have 'safe rooms' especially built in their homes for extraordinary protection. These various things provide for physical safety.

But what about the mind? What is in place in the average person to protect the mind? Aside from clinical depression, what is much of depression caused by? This is where what I call "monster thoughts" come in. Seemingly fleeting thoughts, in reality, have incredible power to direct the course of life. For example, you may tell yourself, "I have no value." This can have the power to strip away motivation to function, even bringing about loss of interest to accomplish goals and eventualy finding life to be too cumbersome. My six year-old granddaughter told me, "Grandma, puppies don't like me." The truth; she was trying to get my dog to come to her as he sat contentedly on my lap. He's a rescue that is extremely attached to me. There is nothing wrong with my granddaughter. She was facing a "monster thought" which needed to be combated with truth.

Truth is what is needed to combat "monster thoughts". Most of us are familiar with the Bible verse that says, "The truth shall set you free." The truth may be opposite to the "monster
thoughts", and thus present a formidable enemy to them. What about thoughts that rule with unrelenting accusations that are "true" such as, "You're fat" and in reality you struggle with your obesity? This monster thought does not have the right or power to rule. Your intrinsic value is NOT based on your external appearance. It says in the Bible that God "looks on the heart". HE is the one who has the power to create new hearts in us even when our hearts need to be changed. When we deal with the truth of our real condition THEN the opportunity is present to receive help to change and crush "monster thoughts". What are you thinking right now? Monster thoughts that will destroy you or truth that provides a path for growth and strength to meet the challenges.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Do you need a mind gym?

The new year rumbled in; no stopping that train. Did those days come with attached resolutions? Maybe a gym membership to train toward an in shape or toned body. How about a polished financial plan to gain control of your finances? Have you conjured up a determination to complete your education or install order/organization in your life? You may have enlisted the help of an athletic trainer or a coach. Good move.

An all important key to success in any resolution is to enlist and engage your mind. Without your mind actively involved, the challenges and obstacles that pop up can overcome any great plan. As you read this blog are you finding your mind trying to skip off to familiar pathways? You can read an entire page and not remember what you have just read! Where is NY Mind Fitness Gym? Have you ever heard of Diamond Mind Gym? Probably not. Yet, your mind NEEDS training! You attempt NOT to think of that bag of jellied donuts...and your mouth waters at the THOUGHT. Yes, the thought. Your mind is your enemy. IT needs retraining. How??

There is a verse that says, "...and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."(2 Cor. 10:5) Captive. Someone in captivity is constrained to do whatever the captor wills. The captor is the controller. Yet as stated above, when you attempt NOT to think of something, that is exactly what you think of. Taking your thoughts captive is only the first exercisea in retraining your mind.

Retraining the mind requires replacing old thoughts with new ideations. Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lo ely, whatever I'd admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." THIS is mind training or mind workouts, if you will. You can establish your own mind gym! You do not have to be overcome. You can overcome as you use the practical mind training tools that God provided. Happy mind training!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Broad shoulders equal heavy burdens?

Do you feel like you are about to go under or wish you could go Down Under because the weight of your circumstances have weighted you down so much? You may wonder, 'Why me?' And you may fall back on the thinking that, God must know I can handle this, thus He is laying it on. And yet, in your strength you are experiencing the load to be far beyond the structure-load capacity of your shoulders! But some how you keep plugging away. There may seem to be no end in sight. In some cases this is actually true depending on the trial [no end in sight]...such as illness for which there is no cure, loss that grips in a seemingly eternal hold, permanent disability after an accident.
So how does God chose who gets what? By the 'size' of our shoulders? Not so. The Apostle Paul talks about a trial that was given to him that he "pleaded" with the Lord to take away. This was no nonchalant prayer! Pleading! Have your trials become so intense that you are pleading with the Lord?
Paul's trial is described as a 'messenger of Satan, to torment' him. Paul's prayer was not answered according to his requests. Why was he tormented? Why did God ignore his request? Paul says he was tormented to keep him from becoming conceited! He had been given some amazing revelations and he, as a human being, could have been boastfully impressed with the 'size of his shoulders'. After all, he was especially chosen by God to receive that gift! Has God blessed you with a seemingly greater amount of talents than the 'average' person? God wants ALL the glory. So He may allow a 'messenger of Satan' to torment. [That is just one of the reasons Scripture gives for trials.]
God went on to tell Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness".  It's when we realize how small and tiny our shoulders are, far to small for the heavy burden, that we get to have "Christ's power" to rest on us. HIS are the shoulders that are broad enough to bear the heavy weight of our burdens. "For when I am weak, then I am strong". 2 Cor. 12

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Clarity #4 The water is STILL mucky!

This has been a series about 'muck' in our lives. So what about it?

  1. God is bigger than the 'muck' in our lives.
  2. Muck/silt has good qualities to it: the silt that is left behind produces fertile soil which is ground for crops. Silt left behind can produce barrier islands that provide protection for the land.
  3. When muck overwhelms, over runs and consumes us we need to step back away from the muck and ask God to give us His perspective which is far broader, far bigger.
You set out on a hike at the bottom of the path, follow the rippling creek higher and higher over a rocky path in the midst of rustling trees and forest fauna. The strenuous hike finally leads to the top where you stand awed at the beauty and majesty of the scene below you. Beauty and majesty?! That is where you started! In the parking lot, circling to find a parking spot, sweltering in the heat of summer. Beauty and majesty?! But from above you take in the landscape that includes a beautiful river, a sailboat skimming easily and lazily along, an eagle soaring in the skies, the blueness of the sky...yes! The air is cool and refreshing. Beauty and majesty! It does look so different from this high perspective.

So you've enjoyed your picnic lunch, taken your pictures of the splendor below, breathed in the cool, refreshing's time to return to the muck. You pass beautiful spots on the way down. You watch your step so as not to slip on loose rocks. You hear the sound of the rushing creek as you get closer and closer to the parking lot. Finally there you are hit once again with the heat of the summer, cars parked so closely together you notice another car has left a little crease on your door where theirs touched yours. The muck is tell yourself quickly, "God is bigger than the muck, muck produces something good, there is a bigger perspective, God is bigger!..." step by step you are immersed. You know with your head but struggle with your heart and emotions.

The Psalmist said, "The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow." Ps. 116:3. Entangled, anguish, overcome...are smothering, choking, grievous words. That describes the intense experience of overwhelming "muck". How do you survive here? How do you make it through another day? The Psalmist then says, "Then I called on the name of the Lord: 'O Lord, save me!' " His machinations and solutions have been exhausted. There is only one thing left. "O Lord, save me!" All too often that is what we do as our last resort. But, better late than never. And what comes next? "The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion." Rest--and wait. God is gracious, righteous and full of compassion. He is still way above the muck. He knows all the purposes of it and the outcome. When all around you wag their tongues and shake their heads at you, as Job's peers did in his unbearable circumstances, God is gracious, righteous and full of compassion. Rest. Wait. The muck WILL eventually settle; the water will clear and you will be able to see the bottom again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Clarity in the Muck #3 A different perspective

When surrounded by muck, it is all too easy to think there is nothing but muck, everywhere permeating, all consuming. It promises to over-run, to crush, to smother, to destroy...You find yourself laying at night exhausted yet eyes wide open, thoughts tumbling one upon another. It seems to grow like a mushroom cloud promising destruction and devastation. You finally fall asleep only to wake up to yet another day where muck rules the day...again.

So what benefit is it that our Creator is bigger than the muck? The benefit is that He has a view that is much greater than ours. He has given us a glimpse of what it is like to have His view when we climb a mountain and see the valley below, above the stream, above the trees, above the hills. His view is far greater than ours. With this clarity we can step back away from the muck, to a higher place and see that the muck may actually only be small in size.