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.

Experiencing God

In that pre wake up state just before becoming conscious and getting out of bed, I experienced an incredibly profound encounter or dream. I don’t know the exact time or the duration but it was so realistic that when I awoke, I was still in it. This event accompanied me from slumber into the beginning of this new day. I was fully awake and yet still in the dream. I was at peace, like I had never felt before. I was swimming in joy, contentment and gratitude in a complete state of euphoric bliss. I remember waking up smiling and continuing to smile throughout the entire day.

Allow me to try to describe what happened, to the best of my recollection.

I don’t know where I came from or where I had been and as far as I know this dream just started with me facing forward. I was motionless, bogged down, stooped over. I was carrying so much weight in many backpacks, duffle bags, extra canvas bags, and tarps. There were additional rolls and blankets, tents and baskets with numerous items dangling from ropes. I was loaded up like a pack mule. My pockets were stuffed full and whatever I had in them was pulling down on my sweat stained shirt, my filthy jacket and dirty pants with my knees exposed. My heavy worn out work boots were like weighted, lead divers boots, on my feet. 

It was sunny, hot and dry, my lips were cracked and bleeding. The skin of my face, hands and arms was like checked dark leather. My feet ached; my legs were throbbing, my hip joints burned with pain. There was no comfortable position to relieve the riveting electric pulses shooting across my lower back and around to my protruding ribs. My spine felt compressed, my shoulders were hunched and my neck was stretched forward so tense and stiff I could not turn from side to side. My posture was so poor I was looking at the dusty ground just ahead of my feet. I raised my head up as high as I could muster the strength, so I could face who I supposed, was Jesus.

I didn’t see anyone but hearing him speak, it could only be him.  I’ve no idea how long I had been walking, traveling, drifting.  I’ve no idea where I accumulated all that was weighing me down and no idea how long I had been carrying it.

Jesus said, “come to me, let me help.” “Take it off and hand it all over, I can handle it.”  I didn’t move, I just stood there before him, I was too weak to move. I didn’t say a thing, I’m not sure I could even speak. How I was even able to stand was confounding. I was just frozen like a pathetic statue. 

Jesus stepped toward me and gently began lifting bags off my back and setting them down. I didn’t even notice at first. Gradually, I began to feel that the pressure upon me was being lifted and I was able to move a foot and reposition and stabilize myself.  All the while, Jesus was unloading my baggage, he spoke softly to me.       

I don’t recall what he said at this point, but I can only surmise now after the fact, what he was saying. I imagine he asked, how long had I been carrying this heavy load? I imagine him, telling me he’s going to share my burden. I do remember he encouraged me to let it all go, give it up and trust him. I still didn’t say a word but I remember there was a point, when I started to off load some of the last remaining weights, myself. Finally everything was off loaded and I just silently stood there facing Jesus.  Dirty, slouched, broken and sore, aching all over and tired, oh so terribly tired, exhausted, depleted and burnt out. Jesus spoke again and I remember him saying, he was there for me, he asked me to believe in him and to trust in him. Have faith in me he said, and I will give you rest.  

Finally I broke my silence and I told Jesus, “I believe.” “I do.” “I believe.”  “Take all of this away, I’m so tired, I can’t carry it any longer, I just can’t do it any more, I give up.”  “Please take away all the negativity, the pain from holding on, the mental anguish, the hurt feelings.” “Oh Lord Jesus, please take away the lies, the guilt, the resentment and the hate, the disappointment, the fear, the anxiety, anger, sadness, hopelessness and despair.” “I want  to be free, free of the handcuffs and free of the chains holding me down.” 1 Peter 5:7 : “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”                                                                            

I remember that I was crying and sobbing, my eyes are swollen and my nose running, my mouth was dry and sticking like glue. All the while I continued becoming lighter and lighter as I asked for each sin to be removed. I reached a point of weightlessness and I then realized that my belief and my faith in Jesus was heartfelt and genuinely true. The more I repented the lighter I became. The lighter I felt the stronger my faith. I recall, just knowing in my heart that this really is true. The Bible, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, every bit of it. There is no question in my mind what so ever. It’s all true, it’s real just like the Bible claims it is.

 Again, I don’t know when or how it happened but there I was standing straight, I was clean, shaved and groomed. Next I noticed there was no pain, no pain at all, not a pick, not an itch. Nothing, nada, zero, zip. There was no pressure, no pinch, no tug, pull or tension. No eye strain, no stomach ache, no arthritic pain in my fingers, no joint pain in my hips, elbows or ankles. I could move in all directions, throw my arms up in the air, jump up and down, turn my head from side to side, twist my back and look behind.          Now wait a minute. What’s this? No heartache either, no worries, no negativity, no fear, no panic, no stress, no apprehension. Had I died? Had my life ended? Was it all over? Was I finally at rest? But no, I was alive, I had never felt so alive. I fell to my knees and bowed my head low to the ground before Jesus. Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, you truly are who you say you are. What? There’s more! I became aware that I was engulfed with love, hope, joy, gratitude, peace, satisfaction, awe. It was euphoria and then, I woke up.

It was just before my 5 am alarm was to go off. I’m smiling ear to ear and I say out loud to myself, “so this is what it is to be truly free.” “This is what you get when you’re finally able to turn over the last chamber of your heart to Jesus.” “When you truly believe, when you no longer hold anything back, when you express total unquestionable faith.” I’m in a state of pure bliss. There is no one or nothing, that can wipe the smile off my face.                                          

I threw back the covers and planted my feet on the floor and I prayed. “Dear Abba, So this is what it is to totally give up my life to you. Thank you from the deepest parts within me. Thank you for giving me this incredibly awesome experience. I know now what I have to do and I now know the reward. Abba, I freely hand over every area of my life to you. Accept my life, take over my life, may your will be done in me. In Jesus mighty name, Amen.                                                                                           

Persevering with God and My Altered Plans

I began working with a job help center and have learned why my old chronological resume is not drawing any attention. It’s quite time consuming to construct new resumes but I understand how these new ones are so much more effective than the old.

Looking for a job is a full time job. I pray that each day will be the day when God will give me the perfect job that He knows will suit me best.  It’s so disheartening to apply yourself and get a zero response and it is all too easy to just give up. There have been days when I have done just that and those are the days I am guaranteed that I will not secure a job.

Despite my failure to secure work I have not given up on seeking out God. Without fail I have kept up my morning conversations with our Father in heaven. Each morning I spend time contemplating the meaning of the verse of the day provided by BibleGateway.com. I try to relate it to myself, others, or a past or present situation. I ask myself, what is God telling me? Then I read on average, three chapters from each of two Bibles. This year I am reading the New Living Translation and the New International Version at the same time. Often I gain more understanding when I read the chapters a second time. I read any footnotes for the chapters and follow up on any cross reference that was given.  

After reading the Bibles I read through two daily devotionals that I have delivered to my inbox daily and then a smattering of e-mails and blog prompts to other Christian sites.

At a minimum I spend two to two and a half hours every morning with the LORD. I think it would be safe to state that on average I spend three and a half hours per day. I find it best to start my day this way. I’m given inspiration that last throughout the day and often later in the day there are just too many distractions that interrupt our quiet time conversations.

With the balance of my time, days and weeks, MY plan was to return to Canada, live with my daughter and granddaughter, and help out whatever way that I could. Get a job, find a church and church family then begin volunteering in some way serving the LORD. MY time frame to accomplish this was two to three months.

Now, Abba has HIS plan for me. I believe HE examined MY plan, redesigned it, made a new schedule for it, added crucial elements that I carelessly overlooked or otherwise didn’t even consider, then set it in place. So now, it doesn’t look so much like MY plan anymore but rather, HIS plan.  Psalm 19:7-9 ESV.

Our Father in heaven took note of my total lack of patience, my arrogance that I still think I can do most things myself, the distance still between us, my struggle to fully trust in Him and my lingering weak faith. He’s skillfully worked all of this into HIS plan. First He surprised me by landing me in between somewhere and nowhere (One Season and into the Next Part One/Ponderings and Musings) This was a four month lesson in patience, soul searching and discovery, for me. It seems that God felt it was more important that I grow up than find a job. I did not find work, nor did I join a church or become a volunteer, and as for MY timeline, well that was swallowed up half way through this first stage of HIS plan.

Now, stage two of God’s plan, I find myself in the city. That happened here. (March 30th, 2019/From My Journal) So, great, now it’s back to MY plan. I can finally find a job and the sooner the better. I’m so far behind on My schedule.  Then I can search for a church and a church family, seek out volunteer options, choose one and start ministering for the LORD. Mission accomplished.

Well it’s now two months even further down the road. Step one of MY new revised plan has not materialized yet, I’ve attended two churches (Fitting In/From My Journal) and seem to have been welcomed into the third, “Church in the Oaks”(Church in the Oaks/From My Journal). Finding a job has once again been removed from its first place position in MY plan and been pushed on ahead. Apparently God’s plan is that I now become a member of a church and church family before getting work to sustain MYSELF.   God’s plan has also lead me into a Bible study small group, volunteering at a ministry serving meals to the under privileged and most recently the Men’s Mission group at the church.  Where’s my job? Well, it’s been jumped over three more times and I’m still waiting.

MY plan was to find a church and a church family. God’s plan provided the church family I longed for and three additional support families. I think I can safely say that MY plan for MY life, was lame and its priorities were out of order.  It’s pretty obvious that MY plan carries no weight what-so-ever. On the other hand, God’s plan, HIS WILL for me, WILL be done in and through me, HIS way and on HIS schedule. It’s not about me. It never was. It has always been about Him and HIS perfect Will.

I thought I had a pretty good and responsible plan. I will testify though, that first you have to have a plan so that God has something to work with. Do you have a plan? I believe that to obtain God’s infinitely better plan, you must be connected with Jesus.

God provides all that I need moment by moment day after day. He sees that I am serious about our relationship and He knows what I need to support it. Growing my trust and strengthening my faith, providing spiritual backup and support is more important to Him than having me spend hours learning a new job at this time.

Will I get a job? I believe I will. When? In His own time. Do I just sit back and watch TV and wait for God to find it for me? NO! Just like it was necessary to have a plan for God to work with, I believe I must continue to provide a base of jobs that I have interested me, so that He will once again have something to expand upon and bring into HIS will.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

House Cleaning with, “The Holy Spirit”

Before seeking Jesus, confessing my sins, asking for forgiveness and asking him to take over my messed up life, it was not uncommon for me to wake up for several hours in the middle of the night. I would awake enraged with anger over some issue that occurred the previous day, week or even months and sometimes years earlier. I would be so upset that it would take me hours to get back to sleep. I could never solve the angering problem and most often I would watch television or read a book until I could be distracted enough or calmed down enough to return to bed and finish what was left of the night.

Sometime soon after seeking and asking Jesus to take charge in my life, I had my first encounter with The Holy Spirit. I didn’t know it at the time but hindsight is 20/20. Now I understand some of the gifts of The Holy Spirit that Jesus gave to me when I reached out to him and accepted him as my Lord and Savior.

The encounter was right after I woke up in a fit of anger. At first I dove right into the problem, swinging and kicking, thinking of what I should have said and should have done at the time, muttering profanities under my breath. Then, when I realized I was losing the battle yet again, I got this idea to ask Jesus for his help. I explained what was going on and that I was the victim and needed his help. What happened next was pretty amazing. That problem dissipated and in no time at all I was lying back down and dozing off to sleep.

What a great idea I had. Why didn’t I think of it a long time ago. I had heard talk about The Holy Spirit but I had no idea where he fit into the grand scheme of things. The only things I understood was God is the creator and Jesus is our Savior. I figured that I had discovered all on my own that the way to beat these Satin antagonized bouts of anger was for me to remember to ask Jesus to help me. I’m not sure who tipped me off that it was not me that thought to go to Christ for help, but that it was actually The Holy Spirit that gave me the idea and prompted me to stop fighting and leave it for Jesus to battle it out. He is my shepherd and protector.

It must have been the better part of the first two years of my becoming a Christian before I stopped trying to deal with my sleep time anger problems on my own. Then realizing that to avoid defeat all I had to do was run to Jesus and let him settle the score. No one has ever accused me of having a thin cranium. There’s some pretty dense bone and matter up there that makes it pretty difficult for knowledge and experience, to break through and take up residency.

At about the two and half year mark as a Christian I had finally learned that The Holy Spirit was a gift from Jesus and that he actually lived right inside of me. I had begun to communicate with him one on one, and prayed, and gave thanks to him right along with Abba and Jesus. The Holy Spirit has taught me to recognize when I am under attack and when Satin has begun throwing old wounds at me. When I fail to react right away The Holy Spirit gives me a nudge. I’ve learned to not even try to resist, but to run straight to Jesus immediately.

Psalms 139: 23-24 NLT : Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Up to a point I was always on the defense, reacting to Satin’s ploys. At some point the Holy Spirit turned the tables and we became the offense. I would pray to The Holy Spirit to dig out a piece of garbage that was lingering around inside me. He lived in me and who would know better the gunk that was in there than he. I would ask that he bring to my attention the pieces of baggage that he knew I would be able to handle. Those old unforgiven hurts were dragged out of the closets and presented to me, often in the middle of the night or early pre waking hours. I would wake up, realize what they were and take them to Jesus. I would pray with Jesus that I forgive this person for doing that to me, pray for healing in that person and then mentally with Jesus we would fold up that hurt, tie it up secure and we would throw it in the furnace and watch it burn until there was nothing left but ashes.

One day I tried to remember the hurts that had been tossed out. I planned to count them up and see how many we had gotten rid of. I could not for the life of me remember what the hurts were that we had tossed away. When Jesus takes on a sin it is washed away forever, once and for all.  It is hard to imagine that I had carried all that excess baggage, some of it for decades. Some of it was so old and so insignificant now that I had to laugh at the immaturity of it. How much needless stress did I put myself through by not forgiving these hurts at the time? How much energy and how much of my life have I wasted carrying all this unnecessary waste?

The Holy Spirit has done some serious housecleaning in me. He did not just dig out my hurt feelings but also grudges, jealousy and wrongs that I did to others and never apologized for (OUCH!) This housecleaning exercise is still underway to this day. I hate to admit it but there are still sins so embedded inside that it may be a while yet before they’re dislodged. Wounds and sins so painful that I have made up lies to cover them and to deal with them. Lies that I’ve convinced myself are true. Lies that I have convinced some of my nearest and dearest friends are true. For me, it is very important that I am able to present myself new to my friends and as clean as possible and new to the Lord.

I know Jesus washed the slate clean with his precious blood some two thousand years ago and I am not trying to buy my way into heaven because we cannot. With the help of The Holy Spirit and Jesus I can take a load of heavy weights off and live a much freer life that I am sure pleases our Father in heaven.  

Romans 6:13 NLT : Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourself completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

Church in the Oaks

A little over a month ago I visited a third church. {See “Fitting In” under the category, “My Journel”} It is much smaller than what I had been searching for. I figured the bigger the church the more opportunities for me to fit in somewhere. So once again, rather than pray for Jesus to guide me to a church suitable for my needs, I took it upon myself to find one on my own. I wasted more precious time and dealt with more unnecessary disappointment and frustration. After praying to be lead to just the right church that Jesus knew would be right for me, I was directed here. When will I learn that all I have to do is ask and it will be given Matthew 7:7. I am bound and bent that I can do everything myself. 

On the very first day, I walked into the foyer and was noticed right away. I was the one that looked lost, was dead quiet, slightly out of breath and a touch sweaty from a combination of both nerves and a twenty minute walk to get there.

Almost immediately I was approached with a, “Oh, Hello!” “You must be new here, I don’t recognize your face.” “I’m so and so and your name is?”  “Well welcome to Church in the Oaks this here is my son such and such and he plays in the music ministry here.” “Oh, hold on a second!” “Pastor, this is Art.” “Today is his first time here.” “It’s been a pleasure meeting you Art, I’ll see you after the service and introduce you to the rest of my family.”

From here the Pastor chatted with me a bit and gathered in some of my interest. He took me into the sanctuary, showed me around, introduced me to three others, told me about what to expect, got me an itinerary and explained I was welcome to sit anywhere I would like. I had no sooner sat down and the man in front of me began chatting like we were life-long friends and introduced me to two ladies in the same row. Just then I heard the Pastor’s voice behind me. He had sought out an Ecuadorian fellow who was a long time member of the church.  He introduced us and suggested that we had a common interest as both of us had lived in Ecuador.  This was like an enactment of Hebrews 10: 24-25

I went into church number three with the same open mind I had for the last two but I was also skeptical after the two previous church experiences. This time was going to be different, I could feel the difference already. By the time the service had started my mind was already made up.  For me, the biggest and most intimidating obstacle in church hunting had already been removed. The acceptance of the people. I enjoyed the service and witnessed the enthusiasm of the parishioners. This was further assurance that this would be the right church for me, I sensed the congregation were genuine and not fake individuals.

After the service I was approached by my original greeter and was introduced to the rest of his family. I met six other people in the lobby before leaving for home.

I felt a heavy weight lifted off of me. I believe it was in God’s plan for me to finish my search and land right here at Church in the Oaks. I walked home feeling that the nagging pulling on my heart to belong somewhere was finally eased off.

  I don’t know what it is about Church websites but they are quickly becoming a nemesis of mine. When I got home I searched my new church’s website to see where I may be able to participate. After feeling that I can fit in and would be welcome my next need, is to be able to participate. There were plenty of ministries listed with descriptions of their intent and purpose but no indication of what day they took place, when they started or finished or who to contact. The calendar was blank except where someone had found the time to add Sunday worship services on every Sunday of the month.  At the next Sunday worship service I learned of the great turnout the church had for an activity that I knew nothing about. 

I mentioned this lack of information to several people but as of this moment nothing has been done about it. I asked specifically about two ministries and after being introduced to the corresponding  people, I  joined both. Every Sunday evening I join in with a few others for a Bible Study, and I started to serve at the “Ark Aid” the second Monday of each month. The Ark is a ministry that provides meals to people who have found themselves in need. Today I attended the Men’s Ministry gathering where I was blessed with meeting several more members of the church.

Discovering and finally belonging to a church and church family checks off another must do, on the list of my plan. Volunteering, checks off yet another.