Personal Improvement

There’s a real gem of a book that I discovered a couple of years ago, a real treasure chest of true to life situations that I easily related to. It’s as though it were written specifically for me and I’m willing to bet that anyone who reads it will have the same life changing experiences that I have had and continue to have. 

 Truthfully, I’ve known about this book ever since I was a child. My Great Grandma Ribey poured over the pages of this exceptional guide book. It’s actually a series of books. I suppose she found it particularly helpful in her frail condition. When I knew her, she couldn’t have weighed more than 90 pounds except for the heavy iron leg braces she wore to keep her polio crippled legs from twisting in all directions. Passed down to my Grandma Dorothy, once again every page of this collection was turned, re-read and referenced over and over. I’m guessing she needed the self-help advice and guidance contained within its chapters to help her through her tough times. Her alcoholic, womanizing husband left her with four children and her crippled mother to care for throughout the, “Great Depression”. My mother took up this book next. She benefited from the information presented in it and even consulted copycat versions of it. However, they were not nearly as helpful as the originals. She co-raised a family of three after spending a day caring for the mentally ill in a provincial hospital.  As for me, well I’ve never needed to pick it up. I have always had my life all together and done just fine on my own. I didn’t need any advice telling me what to do, how to live or to behave.

My perfect self-guided life began to crumble when I began and stumbled through a long and miserable divorce and custody battle. This was followed by the unexpected loss of my secure, high paying job that moved out of the country. I entered into several adulterous relationships. By the way open relationships do not work. World travel with a, “I don’t give a rats bottom end”, what it cost attitude, depletes your savings accounts pretty quickly. I was taken advantage of financially, again, and after having my life’s goal and my only dream crushed before my eyes with no chance of recovery, it was time to crack the cover on this collection of personal improvement books that my family has used time and time again.

This book has changed my life forever and I am convinced it will change yours too. Not just your life but anyone’s, who reads it word for word, cover to cover. If you’re anything at all like me you’ve already denied that you need any help managing your life. You will most likely continue to deny yourself the information you need in this collection until you fall flat on your face and then remember reading this blog.  

I understand your fear of giving in and picking up copies of this self-help series. We’re greedy self-centered people by nature. The world tells us on every front, it’s all about me. Get all you can, get as much as you can, get it now and get it free. Have it your way, (Burger King) You deserve a break today (McDonalds)  I deserve the best, I deserve to have whatever I want, when I want it, how I want it and who I want it with. Why should I waste my time reading books that I am convinced will advise me that I can’t have what I want and that I must give up the joys and pleasures I get from my selfish desires.

By now you have probably figured out that I am referring to “The Living Word of God” (“The Holy Bible”) Look, if you’re sick and tired of the empty wisdom of society, if you’re going down in a spiraling ball of flames, if you’ve just recently survived a face plant at the bottom of the barrel, get into the word until the word gets into you. Get your hands on a Bible.  

It’s taken me the better portion of my life to wise up and that was only after I crashed and burned. Don’t follow my life of misguided pride, and my mister know-it-all world wisdom attitude.  Don’t wait to be thrown off your horse. You can avoid a lot of pain, anguish, embarrassment, and suffering if you will just take my advice and begin reading the owner’s manual of life. You’ll save hundreds on self-help books, or thousands on a psychologist. All the answers you need are recorded in God’s word.             

I’ve learned after reading through the Bible a couple times now, that I have had to give up very little. What has happened though is my values have changed. I experience a peace I never had before and I sleep soundly all night, every night. I hardly ever worry about anything. I agree and support the teachings and at the end of the day I am a much happier, joyful, content, gracious, truthful, loving and understanding person than I ever was before. The choices I make are so much better and I don’t have to retreat and eat my words any longer.    

The most interesting way I have found to read through the Bible has been this past year as I have read it in chronological order. You can find the order here. https://www.blueletterbible.org/dailyreading/PDF/1Yr_ChronologicalPlan.pdf

Get started today!

Number Eight of the Big Ten

God made a set of laws for us to follow. Ten straight forward, easily understood rules. All we have to do is obey ten simple commandments and we’re in God’s good books. Easy peasy, I mean how hard can it be to obey 10 rules? Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve failed at each and every one of them uncountable times throughout my life.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior and he paid the most expensive fine ever levied for my breaking these rules. The only acceptable payment would be the blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb. Jesus was the only perfect man to ever have walked on this planet, and he dirtied himself with my sins. He took all the blame for what I committed and paid my fines in full with his life, setting me free.

 Do you know how I repaid Jesus for this blessing of all blessings, for his suffering and his death? I went right ahead and broke every one of the ten commandments again, and again, and again. Have you done the exact same thing as I have? Thank goodness for us, that Jesus paid for “ALL” of our sins. That’s every broken rule from our past, every sin we committed today and every commandment dishonored in the future. “ALL” sins.

Today, I want to address commandment number eight. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Plain and simple, I am not to lie. Do I ever lie?  No, not ever! That was a lie about not lying. God is truth and we are to honor Him by not lying.

I have another skeleton in my closet and it was born from a lie. A lie that needs to be brought out into the open so that I can be more at ease with myself. A lie that I am tired of carrying around. A lie that threatens to be discovered. A lie that will surely tear down my integrity.

This particular lie started off as a way to avoid recurring suffering and pain when individuals innocently stirred up the single most painful unforgiven catastrophe of my life. The one I tried to ignore, bury and hide. My divorce. I did the complete opposite of what the apostle Paul advised in Ephesians 4:31 NIV

All it took was a few inquisitive words to set me off, like; Are you married? Where’s your wife? Did your wife come with you? Is she here? Why didn’t you bring your wife? I’d really like to meet your wife someday! To which I would reply, “I am divorced, I don’t have a wife”. Now that should’ve been the end of it, but no. Then the inevitable questions would come, the looks of disappointment, the prying, and sometimes I swear people just like to dwell on the misery of others so they can feel better about their own messed up lives.

These questions would expose the hatred I had stored up inside which provided fuel for the questioner to pour back onto the fire they just fanned into full flame. Oh dear! I’m so sorry! Oh my, what happened? Whose fault was it? How long has it been? You must be so lonely! Do you have children? How are they taking it? Is there anything I can do? What advice do you have about divorce? So now that you’re available, I have this friend…. Will you marry again?

These thoughtless replies and digs would bring back to memory all the greed, deceit, accusations, cheating lawyers, unfair statements, concocted self-purposing lies and financial loss. They would cost me weeks of sleepless nights, again, as I battled with my fury. One day after about four years of this malarkey I came up with the reply, “I’m a widower, my wife was killed in a car accident.” The inquisitive person is usually too shocked and too embarrassed to ask any further questions. An apology is usually offered, a little sympathy poured out and then they shuffled off on their way. This was brilliant. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Thus a lie was born.

Over time, questions concerning the death of my wife surfaced here and there and I unthinkingly provided quick answers to satisfy whoever was asking and to protect my claim. The lie was expanding and becoming more and more detailed, morphing into a hybrid. I repeated the hybrid lie so many times that it became a reality in my mind. Psalm 119:29 NLT I could still hate her, despise her, slander her in my heart and deny that she ever hurt me as deeply as she did. She was where she belonged, murdered, dead to me, out of my life. The hybrid lie also replaced disappointment and shame with the sympathy I desired. No one ever upset me again and I was at peace. Or, so I thought.  

This hybrid lie has retarded my life and my ability to move forward. Thirty eight years later I still had not forgiven my estranged wife as I never needed to. With the help of the Holy Spirit I realized the weight I was carrying and the need to offload it. All this time I have tried to hurt her by not forgiving her, but she doesn’t even care or know. I have only been hurting myself.  

Exposing myself, to rid my soul of this heavy burden would be a lot easier if I could be guaranteed that no one that I knew, would ever read this blog. All of my very nearest and dearest friends, many of my acquaintances and even my pastor have given me their sympathy which I accepted wrongfully. I have abused their love and care for me. Now I risk losing their friendship and their trust. I am trying to establish myself as a man of integrity and this certainly does not lend itself to my efforts.     

I never intended to hurt anyone but have succeeded in hurting everyone. Now it’s out in the open. I can start to breathe once again. Satin will not be able to derail me by exposing this secrete. I have exposed it myself.

It all started with one tiny little lie. I’m a widower!       

Exhumation of a BIG Skeleton

There’s a skeleton in my closet that has to leave. Excess baggage that’s weighing me down and I’ve slugged it around for 30+years. The skeleton is the bitterness, shame, hatred and unforgiveness  from a very, very toxic and painful divorce.

If you are leaning toward a divorce, listen up. Think twice and consider any alternatives. Do your research and know in advance what you’re getting yourself into. Especially if you have children. Consider what the Bible has to say about divorce. Mark 10: 6-9 NASB, Matthew 19:6 ESV, Ephesians 5:21-33 ESV. I encourage you to seek out faith based marriage counseling. Talk to your pastor or any pastor. Your marriage can be rebuilt and restored. I strongly recommend prayer and asking for spiritual help. James 1:5 NLT, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NLT.

If you choose to divorce let me give you a heads up and express what I went through. I suffered stress, emotional anguish and trauma, financial stress, bankruptcy, mental exhaustion, unwarranted damage to my integrity. I watched my children being used as pawns and bargaining chips without any regard for their feelings. Resentment, bitterness, being treated unfairly, badly damaged and broken friendships and family relationships. I was constantly on the defense. Anger, exclusion, isolation, depression, sleep deprivation, disappointment, false accusations, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide. Greed and selfishness, mental and physical abuse, loss of identity, low self-esteem and shame.

Your divorce will have long lasting effects not only on yourself but on innocent loved ones. Your divorce will be far reaching and affect others that you cannot even imagine. Other people in your community, at your place of work and anyone you are in contact with, directly or indirectly. When you get into it you will not be able to think rationally or clearly. Your future will be so blurred by the smoke that reaching tomorrow will be your future goal. One day at a time will be your new reality for a long, long time.

After all this, the resentment I felt turned me into an unrecognizable me. I became a miserable, angry person. I hated all women to point of even questioning my own mother’s treatment of my father. No one wanted to be around me. I didn’t want to be around me. After unsuccessfully attempting to commit suicide for the third time I again sought professional help and that is when the bitterness set in. To think that I came so close to exiting this life in order to escape the cruelty I was suffering and then that led to the inability to ever forgive.

Sadly, I now see that my unforgiveness had absolutely no effect on the perpetrators. But it has held me back, bogged me down, held me prisoner and cost me 30+ years of my life. Only through much prayer have I finally reached the point where I am now able to let go of this skeleton.

With the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within me; To my ex-wife, I forgive you. To my ex-wife’s lawyer, I forgive you. To the one particular judge who was obviously a friend of my ex-wife’s lawyer, I forgive you for your ridiculous judgment that by the way never happened because of its absolute absurdity.  To the multitude of friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances that were coerced to join in on the feeding frenzy against me, I forgive all of you.

Although I was not a follower of Christ at the time, God witnessed all that was said and done. I hand over this incredible burden, once and for all. I’m not carrying it any longer. It is now in God’s hands for Him to judge and deal with as He sees fit.

With God’s guidance, I am so ready to start planning the rest of my life.

Are you up to going through a divorce? Will you be able break the chains that imprison you afterward?  

The Skeletons in my Closet

Hidden facts that should they ever be discovered, will undoubtedly damage my reputation. They threaten to destroy my most valued relationships and at the very least when exposed, people’s perceptions of me will be changed. I am ashamed and afraid of being rejected.

Satan hunted me down when I was weak. He found me when I had rejected God. He toyed with my mind, he enticed me, he lured me and he created irresistible situations. He set his traps for me. They were all disguised as fantastic opportunities, sugar coated lies and dreams he promised would come true.

To his delight I ran into trap after trap after trap.  For most of my life I played along and lived his lies. I was buried so deep and it seemed there was no way out. Living in sin was all that I knew. He taught me well.

God was watching and extending His hand. “Trust me, believe in me”. “Choose everlasting life over death”. I knew He was there. My heart told me so.  I could not see HIM but I could see my bank account, my trust funds, my investments, my new home, my new vehicles, my well-paying job, my circle of friends, travel, parties, lovers and I wanted more, more, more.

God created me for Himself and He wanted me back. God passed judgment upon me and He initiated His discipline. Stock market crashes, a horrific, costly, divorce and custody battle, lost employment, a sour property investment, crooked lawyers, false friends and I was crushed. When my head stopped spinning and I saw that the vast majority of all I had worked for all my life had vanished, I turned to the one friend who I thought would save me and he turned his back on me.  

 For the first time in my life I ran out of resources and I had no more answers. I didn’t know what to do. It all seemed hopeless. I threw myself a pity party and after a long hard cry and crying myself to sleep. Something touched me and led me to get down on my knees. I cried out to Jesus, I confessed many, many sins and begged for his forgiveness, for him to take me in, love me, help me and be my guide.

It’s been a little over three years since that day. For a while I still continued to sink but I held on to Jesus’ hand and refused to let go. I prayed to know God and I prayed for the zeal to learn more about Him. I began to read the Bible faithfully every day and research scriptures. I signed up for daily devotionals and began reading Christian based and themed books.  I started to attend church and prayed regularly.

In the last few months my life has finally started to turn around for the better. Blessings abound and I am so appreciative. I have actually received messages from God Himself. I am feeling so very confident and I know that everything is going to be alright. BUT! Guess who has never left?

There is one who is not pleased in the least that I have turned to God and Jesus and man is he ever angry. I cannot begin to count the ferocious attacks that Satin has come at me with. He wants me back and he’s playing dirty. There are many skeletons hanging in my closet. He helped me put them there. Things I’ve done that I am not proud of and lies I’ve concocted to hide shameful things. Stories I’ve told and people I’ve hurt, actions that threaten to destroy friendships and many unbelievable acts that will damage my new Christian character.

Satin was once so accommodating and he made it easy for me to achieve anything that I wanted. He congratulated me on jobs well done and suggested that I deserved more. He set up new temptations everywhere. All mine for the taking. Today these sinful acquisitions are my shame. They are the skeletons in my closet and he threatens to expose them so that he can bring me down.

These skeletons are my own and they are keeping me at a distance from God. Satin reminds me every day and asks me, “What were you thinking”?  He tells me, “You are such an idiot to think you could ever get away with that”!  

My only freedom will be to dig these skeletons out and expose them to the world, myself. I don’t see that I have any other choice. It is the only way that I can disarm Satin and improve my relationship with God.      

Many of us have skeletons hidden away. How will you deal with yours? I could sure use your prayers as I attempt to clean out my closets.   

An Attitude of Gratitude

Would you like to reduce your risk of heart disease? Would you be interested in knowing a free, no pill method to help fight depression, stress and anxiety? How would you like to improve your mood, sleep better and increase your energy?

At the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine, a professor by the name of Paul Mills says that by simply adopting a positive mental attitude, you can reduce inflammation around your heart and improve your heart rhythm. His studies have shown that the more grateful people were, the healthier they became.

I know what you’re thinking. Your thinking that it’s easier said than done in this angry, angry world. How do find anything positive among so much negativity? I can remember once in the very earliest days of my “Christian” infancy, praying to God and wondering if He had not lost the battle with Satin. My inexperienced eyes saw so much evil that any good was blurred over.

About this same time I learned an attitude adjustment prayer from Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California. He called it an, “Attitude of Gratitude”. I can testify that this prayer will change your life in numerous ways. I have prayed it on long bus journeys, flights, and at times when I am feeling sucked down by the world’s negativity.

Simply, you go through the alphabet, a-z, and you pray to All Mighty God giving Him thanks for the things you are grateful for. Dear God, thank you for the air that sustains my life. I am so grateful for my B bed that helped me get a good night’s rest. For this great country of Canada where I am safe and free.  Continue this onward through to the letter Z.

I’ve added to my, Attitude of Gratitude prayer and now I pray for three things for each letter of the alphabet. 1) For something that by God’s grace is given for free to everyone. 2) For a material item. Something you can see, touch and hold. 3) Something heavenly or spiritual, angelic, or a promise.

Everyone’s prayer will be different. We are all unique and place emphasis on a variety of topics and interest.

Here is my latest. You can use it, expand it, shrink it or change it in any way that suits you and your unique relationship with the Lord.

Air, Apples, Angels. Beat (heart), Bed, Bible. Canada, Coffee, Christ Jesus. Day (today), Dog (my), Deities (3 of God). Earth, Eyes, Eternity. Family, Flowers, Faith. Gratefulness, Glasses, Grace of God. Humor, Hair, Hope. Imagination, ice, Incarnation. Joy, Juice, Justice. Kisses, Kittens, Knowledge. Laughter, Lamps, Love. Music, Medicine, Marriage. Nature, Nuts, New Jerusalem. Ocean, Oven, Oath. Parents, Plates, Prayer. Quiet Time, Quesadilla’s, Qualified. Rain, Roses, Rapture. Stars, Spices, Savior. Time, Trees, Truth. Understanding, Umbrella, Unstoppable. Voice, Violin, Virgin. Water, Watch, Wedding. Xeroradiography (x-rays). Youth, Yeast, Year of the Lord’s Favor. Zeal, Zucchini, Zion.

This prayer is an easy and flexible way to honor and praise God. Start, stop and restart it throughout the day. Just make a mental note of what letter you stopped at and then continue later on.  In expressing to God your, “Attitude of Gratitude” you will obey many, many passages that are written in the Holy Bible.

We are told to give thanks in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT Just because we know and accept Jesus. God blesses us with every Spiritual blessing there is in heaven. Ephesians 1:3 NLT that’s a pretty good reason to be grateful.

Will you share your, “Attitude of Gratitude” prayer? Send it to the2yochristian@finchwisdom.com

References:     Gratitude Is Good For The Soul And Helps The Heart, Too

NOTE: I am not suggesting that anyone not take their medication or not to seek medical help for depression, anxiety or other situations.

Rewarded

Quite some time ago I printed up a couple of resumes, one for each location of the same business. A position was not available at the time but I just thought it would be a great place to work. One day a few weeks ago, out of the blue I received a telephone call asking if I had found work yet and would I be interested in coming in for an interview. WELL! YEAH!

After failing at a couple of other interviews where I marched in under my own power and full of self-confidence, “someone”, (hint)”The Holy Spirit” put it into my mind to pray and ask for guidance, help and support during the interview. I invited the entire Trinity along to join me, and to intervene wherever I fell short. The interview I felt, went very good. I was calm, laid back and relaxed. At the end of the interview I was asked to provide character references. This is always a good sign.

One week went by and I hadn’t heard anything but “something” again placed the idea in my mind to send an e-mail and lightly exclaim that I was still available and ready, willing and able to work. Well, another week went by and still I didn’t hear anything! “Something” told me to send another e-mail but this would be the last. It wouldn’t be good to be accused of harassment. Two days later on a Friday I received an e-mail saying that I would be contacted early in the next week. Now this just has to be a good sign.  

Just before meeting with my Sunday, Bible Study Group, I told one of my friends that I was pretty hopeful of finally being granted a job. After the study, my friend wished me the best and asked me to promise to let him know if my feelings came true. The study leader asked me what was up and so I told him my news. He reached out his hand for what I though was going to be a congratulations hand shake but he gripped my hand as if I were dangling off the edge of a cliff and he was pulling me to safety. His wife came over and placed her hand on my shoulder and they began to pray. He thanked God for my new opportunity and asked for His blessings on me and that if this opportunity was not to materialize I would continue to wait knowing He (God) has something better in store. Wow! What an unexpected act of caring, love and brotherhood. Aside from learning and understanding the Bible on a deeper level, this is what a small group is all about.  

Monday came and went with no telephone call or e-mail. Tuesday came and went and still no phone call or e-mail. Late Wednesday morning the phone rang when I was in the shower. I didn’t hear it but when I had finished showering, I heard the answering machine beeping, indicating there was a recorded message. It was the call I had been agonizing over. I returned the call immediately but was sent to voice mail where I left a message that I had received their request to call back . Later on in the mid-afternoon I called once again but was sent to voice mail again. Ahh you have got to be kidding me! I mean seriously I finally got a break and I lost it for the sake of a shower. Considerably later and after the business had surely closed I gave up on ever hearing from this business again. Finally the phone rang and I was told that I did NOT get the job I applied for but I was offered a casual/part time position if I wanted it.

It was so disappointing to once again be rejected. I accepted the job trying my best to sound excited about it. Certainly something is better than nothing. I moped around the house stewing about this latest let down. I went to bed early and once I had calmed down, “The Holy Spirit” and maybe Jesus as well started reasoning with me. Hey! Did you not pray for a job? Did you or did you not ask God to give you a chance to prove that you’re worthy of a job? It’s a job! What did you have an hour ago? Did you even think to thank Him? Psalm 9:1 NIV. This opportunity checks off all the requirements you wanted in a job. What are the chances that will happen again? You’re going to be working at helping people in need. You will have every Sunday off and never have to miss church. You will receive some benefits. It pays better than minimum wage. It’s a small company with a small family atmosphere. There is no labor union. You have not hit bottom yet, is that where you’d rather be? Be grateful for goodness sake! Start with what you’ve been given, do your very best and see where it takes you.

They were so right and I was so wrong. I may not have the position I wanted but I have work. God has heard my prayers and once again He has delivered. Psalm 118:21 NIV How do I know what He’s thinking? I don’t know His plans for me. This could just be the beginning, a test or a sampling. No doubt, if I work as though I am working for Him, proving myself worthy and showing my appreciation He’ll increase my blessings. It’s an opportunity to praise God through managing the wages that I earn and give back to the Lord His share.

I prayed so many times and I even begged for a chance to prove myself to Him in a job and now that I have been blessed I’ve already failed. I did not thank God for this blessing. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV.  I got down on my knees and I prayed. I thanked Him and apologized for being ungrateful. I confessed that I am weak and I would need His strength to keep me from becoming prideful and thinking I can manage from here on in. I asked that He keep me appreciative and performing my very best. I asked that He guide me and help to plan the proper use of the wage that I receive.

In so many ways this starter job is of key importance because everything I think and do, how I act and react, is being scrutinized. My attitude will determine whether I am worthy of more and whether I should be allowed to progress forward. My faith is being tested. I must remain positive and hopeful.   Hebrews 11:6 NLT

I would do well to remember the second sentence in Isaiah 60:22 NCV, “I am the Lord and when it is time I will make these things happen quickly.

Jobs, Jobs, Everywhere (but not a one for me)

Job hunting is an emotional rollercoaster and if you have recently been through this laborious exercise or are caught up in it presently, you know exactly what I mean. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender or race is, in this day of age, it’s tough. Add in old age, overweight, unskilled factory worker for most of your life, and just try to imagine how steep the mountain slopes and how deep the valleys are. I’ve been up and down so many times that I should be as fit as The CrossFit Games winner, Rich Froning Jr. and as sleek and skillful as a leopard.

I’m going on into my fifth month without work and worldly ideas and thoughts are taking over my mind. Why am I not getting a job?  Is it because I’m old? Is it because I’m fat? Is it because I’m too picky? Maybe I’m just not trying hard enough or possibly my resume is not written well. Do I appear unprofessional or too professional? Do I come on too strong or am I too wimpy? It doesn’t really matter, because at the end of the day the world assumes it’s my fault that I don’t have work.

After these insecure thoughts, a flood of other world feelings bear down on me. Feelings of rejection; You know, when the manager or public relations person couldn’t be any more disinterested in you, if they tried. You’re absolutely not getting that job! The worldly feeling of being let down and disappointed; I am way more qualified and able than that person they hired. Who is he, the boss’s grandson?  Then the world offers up frustration. Ahh come on! I’ve handed out a gazillion resumes. And  what would the world be, if it didn’t pour anxiety upon you? How will I ever be able pay my debts? How can I even live? Finally; Depression! The world tells me, I’m good for nothing, a loser, pathetic, washed up. Step aside, get out of the way!  

Where does one go from here? How do you get out of bed the next morning and continue on any longer? Well, take a look up to the heavenly realm. Let’s see what Jesus has to say. What promises has God made to me and what does the Holy Spirit have to offer? I turned to God and I prayed. I asked Him, “God, why is it taking so long?” Am I not praying the right way? Are you hearing my prayers? When?

God assures us, I hear your every prayer.1 Peter 3:12 ESV
God is in control, working all things together. Romans 8:28 ESV
God provides for us. Luke 12:24 ESV
God is with us, wherever we go. Joshua 1:9 ESV
God is going to bless us, I have plans for you. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
God will deliver a job, at the perfect time. Lamentations 3:25-26 ESV

Jesus will not let us perish. John 3:16 KJV
Jesus helps carry our load. Matthew 11:28 KJV
Jesus is the truth and will provide the way. John 14:6 KJV
Jesus prepares for our future. John 14:2 KJV
Jesus lights the way for us. Matthew 5:16 KJV
Jesus is ready and willing to help us. Matthew 7:7-8 KJV

The Holy Spirit gives us power. Act 1:8 NLT
The Holy Spirit pleads for us when we are weak. Romans 8:26 NLT
The Holy Spirit teaches us all we need to know. John 14:26 NLT
The Holy Spirit guides our lives. Galatians 5:16 NLT
The Holy Spirit prepares us to work together Galatians 5:25-26 NLT
The Holy Spirit lives in us. 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT

Who do you allow to govern your life, the world or God?

What Are My (TRUE) Motives in Prayer?

 After praying for blessings upon my family, friends and myself, I thought, “If I were God and this prayer were prayed to me what would I think about it”. Well, I wouldn’t take too kindly to it, at all.

First of all, family and friends were added into the prayer so that the prayer wouldn’t seem selfish. Second, the blessing asked for was just a cover for the real worldly wants that would be gained after the blessing was given. Third, the gains would not require any trust or faith in God’s abilities. Fourth, the worshiper (me) was impatiently trying to speed up God’s timing. Four fails. Not on your life buddy.

Ever since I stumbled across the last sentence in James 4:2 NLT, which simply says, you have not because you ask not. I’ve become pretty good at asking. What an awful thought, that I could be deprived of something for any length of time, simply because I didn’t ask for it. It wasn’t too long before I thought that I had figured out how God thinks about things.  I thought that I knew what I could and could not ask for, and what I would or would not receive. Whoops!

 I figured that pretty much anything spiritual with good honest heartfelt intent would be granted quickly if not instantly. (Examples) Oh Dear Lord, please give me the strength not to throw this hammer. 1 Corinthians 1: 8 NIVLord, I’m under attack by Satin. I need your help to once and for all, dispose of this old sin. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV.  Material things prayed for I figured take longer to receive, if at all. Granting these request seem to depend on various factors. Is it a need or is it greed? Will it make me proud? Will I love it more than God thus “it”, whatever “it” is, could become my new god? Am I spiritually ready for it? Can it help build God’s kingdom?  Prayers prayed for situations seem to be a hit or miss, at least for me anyway. These prayers are almost always prompted by my anxiety. In every instance I believe that my anxiety was greatly reduced or relieved entirely. The actual situation may or may not be granted or possibly be delayed. (Example) When I was praying for a church and a church family, I received two nays before receiving a yea. When I prayed for a job that I really wanted, I was turned down. I thought I was fully qualified and the best man for the job. Apparently, God thought otherwise. Philippians 4:6-7.  Prayers for personal gain seem to depend on my motives. (Examples) When I prayed for the zeal to learn, study and understand the Bible, I would never in a million years have guessed I would at times spend upwards of eight and ten hours in a day, studying and conversing with God. When I prayed to win the lottery jackpot the only thing I won was another opportunity to purchase another ticket. Exodus 9:16 NLT.

 Somewhere along the line my prayers morphed into praying for specific blessings which isn’t a bad thing. But then, cocky me, assumed I’d receive my request based on my superior understanding of how God thinks. Then my second mistake, I focused on just how my blessing would come and what else would come with it.

I’m like a child who has learned how to get what he wants from his parents, except this Father, Our Father in Heaven, He’s on top of the game and will not be manipulated. God is not a vending machine where I deposit a prayer and out pops my request along with three complimentary items just because I’m so special in His eyes. I forgot He has the ability to read my mind and my heart’s intentions. 1 Chronicles 28:9 NLT.  I really need to receive this verse into my heart, learn it and take it seriously.                  

At some point I began to pray in a worldly way. In the world you work and get paid, you help someone and you’re praised for it, you scratch their back and they’ll scratch yours, I complement you and you return the compliment. There’s always a payback. So I have been offering up my prayers with something good in mind, expecting my prayer to be answered, which can also be good, BUT before receiving my blessing I started to count all of the fringe benefits, that would come to me. Lately, I’ve noticed that when I pray, my prayers are either taking an exceptionally long time to be honored or are not granted at all. Is it any wonder?

It’s time to turn over a new leaf and reanalyze what I think I know. It’s time to pray earnestly and compassionately from my heart for my family, my friends, and my needs. Then leave it at that. God    decides whether to grant or turn down my prayers.

Other related scriptures;

Philippians 2:3 NIV.  1 Corinthians 10:24 NLT

The very same day when I was pondering all this over I was out and about, delivering resumes. In the afternoon, I stopped into a used book store and bought a cheap book of daily devotionals, one for each day of the month($1.00). It’s based on the Prayer of Jabez. The devotionals all point to proper prayer and intentions.

I think it’s so wonderful how God finds ways to place the answers that I need into my hands.

A Limited Time to Live

Well here we go again. What a month of revelation it has been. Never before, have I had so many dreams, thoughts, and circumstances open up before me. All of these, I’m sure are God’s way of confirming what I have learned by reading His word, studying daily devotionals, attending Bible studies and church services.

Once again, and I believe it was just prior to my waking, I had another experience. I don’t know anything about dreams and dreaming or when they occur but I suppose it’s always just before waking up because that’s when all of mine seem to have happened. Well anyway, this time my encounter wasn’t a dream but more of a suggestion and recommendations. I wasn’t being addressed by anyone specific but by an invisible voice that just came out of nowhere.  Like you would expect might come from a spirit. Holy smokes, just as I finished writing that last sentence, I realized my first dream was with, The Son, Jesus, my last dream was with The Father, God, and now this one is from, The Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity, all three have now spoken to me at three different times. Not exactly in the order we are used to hearing them presented, The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. A while ago I did have a dream from The Father which would place these occurrences in the order of how we address the Holy Trinity. I haven’t written about the first because I am still struggling to share and how to share the content of that one.

This time, I heard, “what if I told you that you only have a limited time to live?” I was speechless. I believe God has a sense of humor but I don’t believe He would joke about death. It was dead quiet (no pun intended). I was a little panicky and a hurricane of thoughts was quickly accelerating in my mind.  Why? What is it? What’s wrong? When? The reply was, “It doesn’t matter why and there’s nothing wrong. It’s time, and it will be today.  Zowza! “I strongly suggest, you get your thoughts in order and carefully plan your time.” I don’t remember being afraid but in a panic, I just couldn’t seem to set any priorities. As quick as I thought of one thing I thought of another that was more important. Many were of no importance at all. Needless to say I woke up a little disturbed. The thought followed me all day long.                                                                                                                                                     

If today were the last day of your life and you just found out about it, what priorities come to your mind?  Okay, here, let’s make this real. An out of control car, comes speeding around the corner, hits you and sends you flying. You’re lying on the pavement, a small crowd of people are gathering around and you hear someone call out, “call 911.” You don’t really notice any searing pain but you know you’re really messed up. Instinctively, deep down inside, you know, this is it. What would be your priorities?   How exactly would you prepare for eternity?                                   

Now is the time to get your house in order. It’s time to get all your ducks in a row. We have absolutely no idea when our number will come up. Jesus can return at any moment, nothing has to be wrong. How long do you have? A year, a month, a week, days. In this scenario a day at the most, possibly only an hour or just minutes.                                                                                            

We’ve got to make this good and it has to be right. Are you going to be thinking about all the material things you’ve accumulated? All that money you’ve invested, in your stocks, mutual funds, bank accounts and in your pension plan. Guess what? You’re not taking it with you. How about your car? You’re not taking that either.  Not your home; your shoes, clothing or jewelry. I think we can throw out any ideas of making material items a priority. How about your career, you know the job you put before your family. How about your gym membership, the “Golf Club,” your baseball team or your booked vacation? Sorry! You won’t be going anymore; your friends and acquaintances will figure it out on their own. So, we can throw out your social life. What’s left?

I’ve given this some pretty serious thought. Without a moments delay I want to be sure that I am right with my savor, Jesus Christ.  Dear Lord Jesus, come down from heaven and please take my hand. I’m sorry for any sins I may have or have committed today. Thank you for giving up your life for the likes of me and thank you for paying the penalties for my sins. Thank you, that my sins have been forgiven. I forgive everyone who has ever sinned against me. I’m yours Jesus and I look forward to following you to my new home up above. Please stay with me until this life ends. In your name, A Men                   

If I still had some time left I would then want to make sure my family and friends were sure of their day of reckoning. If I had the time to go to them or assuming they would come to me, I would ask them to join me in prayer. I would pray that each of them would place their trust in Jesus and on the spot confess their sins, promising to try their utmost to continue sin free. I would pray that each one would offer up their own lives and ask Jesus to become their shepherd, their life coach or manager. I would not want anyone to be sad for me but to be happy and know in their hearts I will soon be in heaven. Goodbyes would be appropriate while there was time.

Spiritually, are you ready? Are you sure of your destination? Will your family and friends be joining you in the future? There’s time.

A Taste of Freedom

This morning I had a short vision or a brief dream, and again I believe it was Just moments before I woke up. I was having a conversation with Abba. I couldn’t see Him, it was more like a telepathic statement received into my mind but I could feel a presence as I sat or stood facing Him. This is out of character with any recorded vision or message in the Bible. Everyone in the Bible who was visited by or came into the presence of God or Jesus, immediately fell down on their knees with their face to the ground. Gosh! I hope that my not bowing before God is because I didn’t realize right away that it was truly Abba. I pray that my ignorance is because of my immaturity as a Christian, that I just never expected God would be directly in front of me, speaking to me.

When His message registered with me I understood Him to ask, why have you not handed over complete control to me. I think it was right then that it dawned on me, this is God speaking. I was at a loss for words and I mindlessly began to babble excessively.  Between the voids in my languishing thoughts I managed to reply, well I know I should, I don’t know why I haven’t, I’ve no reason not to. You’ve certainly proven yourself to me, of course, well, not that you ever had to prove anything to me in the first place. Who am I? Nobody. You’re God.  Man, if this was an interview to get into heaven, I botched it big time.

What happened next was so awesome. A whole slew of feelings came over me. I felt like a huge amount of weight was lifted off of me. The weight that stress, pressure, responsibility, guilt, insignificance, worry, and that sense of just not knowing, lays on you. The weight was gone. As I began to process the numerous weights that were no longer on me, I began to understand, so this is what it’s like to entirely and thoroughly give yourself up to Jesus. Every ache and pain was removed and there was not a grain of negative feelings. There was a peace, a positivity that I had never known before. I’ll be okay, all I ever need will be given, I will succeed at anything God wishes for me to do. I have no fear of rejection, criticism or humiliation. I’ll finding a job, but not just any job. God will make available the one that will be the best fit for me.

I speak out to Jesus, Yes Lord yes, please come into the last chamber of my heart, take it over, I surrender this last piece of me. I want God’s will for me. I’m tired of all my failures and trying to do things my own way. When, I woke. I was still saying, yes Lord in my mind. Immediately, I began to think of all that I had to do. What do I do next? I better make up more resumes. Yes, I have to have a job. I had better begin to research more opportunities to serve God. That’ll prove my commitment. I’m going to go downtown and get the resumes I have, out to possible employers so God can decide on which job to give me. Maybe I should I be baptized again? Yeah! That’s a good one.  

The more I thought and the more I took on worldly thoughts, my ill-conceived thoughts, the euphoric feelings I had, equally begun to fade away. The weight removed from my shoulders was coming back. I was losing the feeling of God’s presence. My freedom was slipping away. Why God? What’s happening? Please don’t take this away from me. How do I keep this? What did I do wrong?  Where are you Abba? Oh my good gosh! Don’t tell me I’ve blown it.

It wasn’t until I initiated applying this experience to paper that I noticed my fatal error. I had barely finished saying, “Yes Lord, I’m Yours, all of me, the last bit of me, I surrender,” and what did I do? I immediately stepped on God’s toes, took charge of my day, lost sight of His graces and began to make my own plans for what I thought  that I needed to do, what I thought I should do to secure my place with Him. I was once again following the world and its way of thinking just like everyone else does. I had it all and then I turned to my own understanding. What a fool!

I was feeling pretty glum and figured that this Thursday was going to turn out to be just like any other Thursday. I started my quite time and read my verse of the day, Psalm 56:4 NLT. Then, the  assigned scriptures for the day, Psalms 119:1-88 NIV. Thank you Abba! Very appropriate for how I am feeling right now. Great advice! Thank you for staying with me and continuing to open my eyes. You didn’t go anywhere, here you are right here in these two Bibles. Next I read the devotionals that I regularly follow. Ahh! And there you are again. I should have known better. You promised to never leave me and you didn’t. Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV.

 In the afternoon I had a dentist appointment and while I waited in the lounge I continued to read Purpose Driven Church by Pastor Rick Warren. It had been weeks since I last read from this book, and what did I read? Spiritual maturity is demonstrated more by behavior than by beliefs and It takes a variety of spiritual experiences with God to produce spiritual maturity.  Thank you Jesus, for your understanding.