Source: The Man In The Mirror
Source: The Man In The Mirror
It is human nature to question and doubt God in the midst of our storms and challenges. We perceived what we believe to be His abandonment. We forget all the times He showed up in the nick of time and helped us with the problems we created through haste or disobedience. We blame others because it easier, and perhaps justified our unwillingness to change, or to take action to create the life we desire. However, accountability is answerability. It allows us to assume responsibility for creating the life we want. It makes us move to action. We are all worthy of love, joy and peace. My prayer for you is that you take the road less travel and discover who are and you who were meant to be.
Perhaps this is a time when you are trying to sort out the voices in your head, struggling to decide what is true and what is not, or what is misleading. Perhaps your spirit has been deflated because of what is happening in the world, what others may be saying about you, and it is becoming more difficult to “worship the Lord with gladness, come before Him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God” (Psalm 100:1-3). After all, you may be asking yourself, what have you got to be thankful for?
There’s so much happening all around us, in the world and on the political scene that some of us have forgotten the truth of who we are in Christ, and in so doing we have exchanged the truth for a lie. There’s sickness, violence, loss, sorrow, disappointment, and financial concerns, and none of us is exempt. But if we are not firmly grounded in the Word, it’s easy to get thrown off the course God has set for us. And that is exactly what the enemy wants, and why he is setting up roadblocks in our path, dispersing doubts in our mind, and messing with our confidence. He desires to keep us so busy worrying, distracted, frustrated and defeated that we will forget who loves us, whom we serve, and who we are in Christ. But lets not forget that every day is a new beginning, a fresh start to rev up our engine with prayer and the Word. Remember that God is holding on to us, so we must lean into Him by remembering where He has brought us from, because the truth is that although we may not be where we want to be, we’re not where we used to be, and that should be enough to be thankful for. Think about it this way, regardless of how our day ends, morning offers us a clean slate to start over, and not every one will get that opportunity.
The truth is, sometimes we forget that God’s peace, which is the only true and lasting peace, is different from what the world would have us believe. We forget that our peace is not in the absence of war or conflict, and it does not depend on who is in the White House or what others think of us. We forget that joy does not depend on what is going on in our life at any given moment, and it is not found in how much money we have in the bank, neither is it as simple as positive thinking. Our joy is not subject to people who do not know us but judge us, but in the truth that God loves us consistently and in spite of our humanness. Joy is found in knowing who God is, so look to Him to see your reflection and strengthen your resolve.
He is concerned about you and me! When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane with His face bowed to ground, His soul crushed with grief to the point of death, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine”, it was all for you and me! So, give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you. Remember, regardless of what is happening in the world, God is always in control. Stay focus!
Perhaps it’s getting older or more spiritually matured, or maybe it’s finally been able to appreciate where I am in life, or it could be because I recognize God working in every corner of my life. I don’t know for sure what the reason is, but lately I have been doing some serious heart and house cleaning. In the last few years I have gotten to not only know myself, but also embrace who I am—finally! Consequently I have lubricated the once squeaky door to my heart and opened it wider to receive the people who may have had limited access. I have dusted each shelf and examined the contents of the vessels that have been obstructing the entrance. My kids believe I am sort of an introvert. I am fine with that. I need solitude and cannot thrive without quiet time to collaborate with nature. However, I am making an effort to be more accessible and outgoing.
So to clear any hidden clutter and residue of negativity and worry that may be lingering in our hearts, and will never serve us well, I invite you to throw out the disappointments and release the should-haves of yesteryears. Examine old dreams and allow room for new ones. Yes. It’s never too late to dream. We are never too old to reach for the imaginable. And finally, open the windows of your soul to allow healing, refreshing, restorative and rejuvenating light to circulate through your being. Breathe deeply, exhale, and feel the muck fall away. It is said that we are spiritual beings here on earth for a human experience. I don’t know if there is anything sadder than journeying through this life without the peace of God. I have been there and I am not going back, because the truth is, we have everything we need and will ever need. We always have, and the wants will come in God’s timing. David encourages us to commit everything to God. He says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). It is not about regular church attendance, although that is important. It is not dressing our wounds with the Band-Aid of laughter or indifference. It is not a trade off, meaning God will give us riches if we love Him. Rather, I think the verse is telling us that when we learn to praise and worship Him through whatever we are going through, we are aligning our desires with His purpose for us, and we will never be empty, lacking or unfulfilled. And you can begin by clearing the clutter to see clearly with spiritual eyes.
So I continue to clear the clutter and work on dividing my time proportionately and wisely to make first thing first to stay connected to my Source. Quite often we allow our cluttered lifestyle to keep us away from savoring the undeserved favors we received from the only One that is able to shape, refine, fill and sustain us. Or we are so busy trying to survive that we forget to live; we forget that we were all blessed with gifts and we are not here by accident or some blunder of nature. And if we are not careful our cluttered life can cause our worship to be a drive-through affair with an outdated program.
CUT THE DEAD BRANCHES AND PULL THE WEEDS: Think about this: from time to time most of us go through our house and collect clothes and household stuff we have not used in years. We go through drawers and cabinets, and make note of what we need. We clean and reorganize the garage. And if you are like me, you also prune trees and shrubs, pull weeds and freshen up the gardens with new plants, colorful flowers and mulch to enjoy the bounty and beauty of nature. And so it should be with our physical and spiritual life. We should be continually examining our relationship with God so it becomes, or remains a sweet smelling aroma to His nostrils. Our hearts should be so filled with gratitude that last year’s thank you is never sufficient for today’s blessings, and our praise and worship should be new every day to thwart the enemy’s plan. To stay fresh and fruitful, it is also vital to remove the dead branches of our life, and cut off the people who insist on distracting us, and weighing us down with negativity. We must shake ourselves loose of those who continually criticize us to keep us stuck where we are.
CHAOS EXHAUSTS OUR JOY: A cluttered home creates disorder and confusion that keeps us busy, anxious, and unavailable for family and friends, and worst, leaves us with little time for God and self. Not only does clutter robs us of the beauty around us, it drains our energy and strips us of our creativity. Constant chaos prevents us from fully enjoying life, and distracts us from becoming who we were meant to be. The same applies to the heart and mind. Regrets, disappointments, unforgiveness, grudges, resentments are all obstructions the enemy use to keep us from living a joyful life of service to God. In the end, clutter signifies fear. It is failure to be decisive and productive. Let’s not wait for another new year to clear the clutter in our life. Do it now. You have nothing to loose but clutter.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. There is always a distinct shift in the atmosphere, a sense of anticipation and an awareness of peace that often overshadows any adverse circumstances I may be experiencing. I can also recall a time when Christmas was more about celebrating the birth of Christ, and gifts were more to commemorate the ultimate Gift and the Giver. Yet, how many times over the years have I declared that I am not feeling the “Christmas spirit?”
Unfortunately, some will not experience the peace, warmth and joy that come with celebrating that glorious and mystical event. And a holiday that is suppose to bring the conclusive message of hope and peace for all mankind, sadly and ironically, will trigger depression, hopelessness, aloneness, or a heightened awareness of lack for many. Because it is such an intimate time for friends and family, it can also be a painful reminder of the love we have lost and what once was.
So, as I am writing this, I am wondering, could it be that these feelings are actually revealing of the first Christmas? Have we lost sight of the painful part of the message of Christ and God’s indescribable gift?” Following the angel Gabriel announcement to Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus, nothing was normal or comfortable for her and Joseph. Mary was accused of been unfaithful and endured malicious gossips. We could say it was a joyous, but nevertheless painful time for her. She and Joseph had to flee the comfort of home to protect our Lord from Herod. And where was the Merry Christmas for the Messiah? He became human to suffer indignity and pain for our salvation, and the hope of heaven.
There is no doubt the message and the significance of Christmas have been mangled by a “gimme” culture and political correctness. It has been distorted for commercial gains, misrepresented to appease religions and pacify atheism, and in so doing we have devalued the greatest gift of all—Christ. So this Christmas, as you reflect on the gift and sacrifice of this supreme love, remember to say “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
So if you do not get extravagant gifts or invitations to fancy parties, do not allow Christmas to become a reminder of what you have lost or what is missing, and do not allow loneliness and depression to overshadow the greatest love of all. For while we cannot stuff Christ in a box and wrapped Him with ribbons, we carry Him year ‘round in our hearts and He never stop giving undeserved grace to see us through loneliness. This supreme gift was not thoughtlessly chosen or casually given. Therefore, if you find yourself alone or feeling lonely during the holiday season, remember that our Father’s timing was perfect when He sent Christ, and at the right time He will respond to your needs. So do not give up hope or compromise your peace for what the world has to offer. The Messiah is available all year-round to pour into every aspect of your life. He has promised that He will never leave you or forsake you, and that He will always be there with you. And He cannot lie.
Thank you for your support during 2015. I wish you joy, love and many blessings in the years to come!
Several years ago, my siblings and I started a Thanksgiving tradition, which continues today. At our thanksgiving dinner, we all gather around the dinner table and hold hands while each family member, including the children, take turns and share what we are thankful for that year. During the years when we were bruise or battered by events such the loss of loved ones or financial difficulties, those brief moments of remembrance and thanksgiving never fail to reignite our passion for God. Those special moments always offer new hope for the year ahead, and I continually gain strength and confidence in recalling instances when God had intervened in my circumstances. Not to mention the rate of returns I enjoyed because of the lessons I learned from depending on Him.
However, during the 2008 recession, there were some of us who had to determine in our heart that in spite of our financial difficulties we were going to continue trusting God. It is through those times of hardships, which are often blessings in disguise that God’s children come to understand that we always have more than enough for our harvest of thanksgiving.
So I understand the importance of a thankful heart. I have learned to be thankful in good times and in challenging times. I recognize that during my times of pruning I need to be especially mindful to be grateful for what I have, and not focus on what is lacking. Understanding Christ’s heart for His children and maintaining an attitude of gratitude will always sustain and restore us through the lean times.
Just as prayers are sometimes rush because of our “to do list,” we tend to be more reflective and thankful when all is going well. But the Apostle Paul reminds us to “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Our gratitude should not sway during the dry, lean seasons. Just as we are commanded to pray continually, we are to give thanks continually with a joyful heart. The following verse rings true in my own life: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11 NIV).
Recently, while working on an incredible painful writing project, I was reminded of how far God has carried me through pain and sorrow. I reflected on the things He withheld from me so I could learn to depend on Him. And I took time to give Him thanks because He forgives my sins, heals my shattered heart, loves me, and blesses me.
It’s tempting to complain about the things that are missing in our life. It’s easy to be resentful or bitter over what we have lost, and self-pity can be very enticing. But if we look around us at what is happening, particular in the Middle East, there is plenty for which to be grateful. As my late mother loved to quote, “Once there is life, there is hope.” In this wonderful country of America, we can be thankful no one is being persecuted or murdered for worshiping a loving and patient God. We can be thankful for the hope of that last harvest that is yet to come.