Friday, August 31, 2012

Challenges + Problems = Opportunities

"God can take every challenge that comes into our lives & use it as an opportunity for growth. Trials test our character & help shape our faith."

A year ago I was walking through one of the hardest times in my life. My children had phoned in the late night hour & delivered the tragic news that their mom, my former wife, had tragically passed away. I was taken to my knees in devastation & the weight of hearing the pain in their voices. I didn't know what the days ahead would bring but I knew one thing for certain---God would be faithful to see us through.

The days immediately following we're tough---emotionally, physically & mentally draining. I couldn't do anything to take the pain away from my children or bring their mom back, all I could do is be a strong arm & provide support & encouragement.

Life brings challenges everyday. The question is, what am I gonna do with those challenges? Am I going to allow them to be problems that take me down, or opportunities to grow stronger, be who I need to be & dig deep for faith knowing God will see me through.

I was grateful during that time & still am today that I had learned the importance of taking care of myself spiritually & staying centered at the core of who I am in my relationship with my Creator. Never had I experienced such peace & serenity in the midst of such pain & suffering. I knew God was near & He had us.

Today, no matter what your facing, a minor seeming problem that's got you twisted or a life changing tragic event, take courage in knowing God's got you & will see you through. Look to see where He is at work in the middle of or on the other side of challenging situations & you will find Him there. Let God help you triumph over tragedy & grow stronger in the process. Refuse to give up or give in, instead, let God turn those challenges into opportunities to further shape and mold you through the process, becoming more of who He'd have you be.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mercy

"It gives blessings undeserved & withholds punishment when it may be deserved. It's one of the greatest gifts you can give someone, it's called mercy."

Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone; An event to be grateful for, especially because its occurrence prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering.

Have you ever been shown mercy? Maybe the police officer didn't give you that deserved ticket. Maybe in heavy traffic someone allowed you to merge. Maybe during an illness or tough times someone remained by your side to be a source of encouragement, comfort & support. Maybe you had a debt forgiven or something personal on a grander scale in which you could of faced great consequences for your actions & instead of getting what may have been deserved you were shown mercy.

How great is the Father's love for His children. How many times in my own life have I been the receiver of mercy & grace when I was so undeserving.

Do you only do for others who can give you something in return or to get something you want? Are you able to love without an attached price tag? Each of us have opportunities each day placed before us to show mercy & be a reflection of God's love we have so graciously received.

Today, I will work to give back one of the greatest gifts I have been a recipient of---mercy, & I will do it without an attached price tag!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Breaking free from opinions & people pleasing.

"The fear of human opinion disables. Trusting God protects you from that."

Opinions---everyone has one. As much as we might like to be liked, not everyone in life will like us. A few weeks ago in morning prayer & meditation God revealed to me that while I had done a lot of work on me to make improvement & grow spiritually I was walking a fine line bordering on "people pleasing" by trying to become perfect based on feedback & opinions of others. It was an "a ha" moment. I'm quick today to look at me & willing to grow each day into who God is shaping me to be. That's the key point here, who my Creator is shaping me to be...not man.

"In life, there will always be people who try to squeeze you into their mold; people who try to pressure you into being who they want you to be. They may be good people. They may mean well. But the problem is that they aren’t your creator. They didn’t breathe life into you. They didn’t equip you, empower you or anoint you; God did! If you’re going to be all that God created you to be, you can’t focus on what everybody else thinks. If you change with every criticism, trying to win the favor of others, then you’ll go through life being manipulated and letting people squeeze you into their box. You have to realize that you can’t keep every person happy. You can’t make everyone like you. You’ll never win over all of your critics. You don’t need other’s approval; you only need God’s. Keep your heart and mind submitted to Him & be free from people pleasing & the burden that comes along with it."

Today, I'll work to let God take me, guide me & show me who He'd have me be.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Who are you trying to impress?

"Be aware of the motives behind your efforts. You don't have to impress anyone."

From childhood, many of us have had success & achievement instilled into us. From grade school through college, achievement is pressed upon us & often highly recognized, achievement awards often given with Valedictorians recognized with acclaim & big scholarships awarded.

While I didn't graduate valedictorian of my class I have often be an over achiever. My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me which I value; but, I've also had to realize that I can be a person of extremes---an all or none kinda guy.

While there's nothing wrong with achieving great things in life, are the motives behind such driven mindsets in the right place? Am I driven to be the best that God would have me or am I trying to "impress" others?

I am not proud to say it, but I must admit that in years of being an overachiever climbing the corporate ladder, I took many people out in the process in order to move up & knock anyone I could out of the way. My motives for success & recognition were driven selfishly to feel powerful, gain prestige, make more money & impress the Senior VP's & CEO's. At the end of the day, acclaim for successful projects, getting bonuses & making more money ultimately drove me for more. Bigger houses, fancier cars & nicer clothes left an impression of success on the outside; but it was never enough & I was empty inside.

Friend, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with being successful in life (I believe God wants us to be); but, are my motives today purely driven. Who am I trying to impress?

Today, I couldn't be more grateful for the things God's blessed me with; but I must not forget where my strength comes from. Today I'll do my best at what I do, with what I have to work with & leave the results to God. There's a lot of relief in finally knowing I don't have to impress anyone anymore but simply be the best I can be working with a sense of greater purpose & fulfillment in life . After all, God puts the right people in my life at the right place & the right time, regardless of the car I drive, what I'm wearing or how I look & I don't have to do anything to earn their favor but just be. I no longer have to try to fill a void in my life with the wrong things or by trying to impress others.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Is your Hope in the right place?

"Are you carrying around baggage, frustration, worry or aggravation about something? That’s usually a clear sign that your hope is in the wrong place."

For many years, my self-esteem, confidence & who I was were based on jobs, homes, cars, and the people I built around me to make me feel better about myself. Life changing events left me with a harsh realization that my sense of security & well-being had been built from things. Things that faded & left me disappointed made me realize I was weak in faith & had basically no relationship with my creator. My priorities had been in the wrong place as was my sense of well being.

Where is your hope today, your sense of well-being, your sense of belonging, your sense of true value & worth? Where is your foundational security?

"If you hope in circumstances, it can deplete you of joy and peace; but, when you turn those circumstances over to God, when you refuse to worry, when you refuse to allow the temporary things of this world to dictate your happiness, that’s when God can do a work in your life. When you trust in Him, He will make your crooked places straight; He will cause you to mount up with wings like the eagle & soar---regardless of the circumstances around you."

Today, I'm grateful for the unshakeable foundation the comes in a spiritual relationship with God. I won't let the little temporary nuisances life get in my way. I'll keep my priorities in the right order, trusting God, cleaning house & doing what I can to help others.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

PEACE

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when God displaces worry at the center of your life."

Today, Do you have peace & serenity in your life? If not, what's keeping you from it?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Majoring on the minors.

"Now abideth faith, hope & love; but, the greatest of these is love."

Do you have a tendency to see the "bad" in others? When someone doesn't do what you'd like, act the way you think they should, or give you what you want, do you get bothered, upset, angry, resentful or even think about cutting them out of your life? When something doesn't go your way do you get upset, disturbed & squander hours being angry & going over & over it in your head?

A year ago, while I had grown tremendously in my relationship with God & worked hard on self-improvement through a spiritual program that saved my life, I was still struggling with "little things" upsetting me.

It's been almost a year now since I got the unexpected call from my children in the midnight hour that their mother had tragically died. While feeling shock & grief myself, seeing & hearing my children's pain cut me to the core. It seemed life stopped in its tracks & we were all going through the motions of a bad dream.

In that moment, the little things that kept me bound, the minors, seemed to disappear. I realized how fragile life is. I realized many times in my life I had been guilty of majoring on the minors, focusing on things that were petty, instead of looking at the majors, the good in people, where God was working & good things in life.

Friend, life is to short to be anything but happy. Today, don't let the petty things in life or in others keep you bound & cause resentment. If you are willing to look at someone & see "bad" in them, be quick to also see the good. Don't let petty disagreements & things in life keep you from happiness. Look at what's truly important in life. Look at where God is at work & fill your tank with gratitude. Let go & let God! "Now abideth faith,hope & love; but, the greatest of these is love."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"How can I improve your day?"

"He provided what we needed if we kept close to Him & performed His work well."

What is placed before you today? Most of us have jobs. Daily we make the most or least of them, doing them to the best of our ability to make a difference or doing the minimum required to keep a job & get a pay check.

In the process of preparing for my move, I've had to schedule transfers of utilities to my new home. As most of you know moving can be a "chore" if allowed. Yesterday when calling one of the utility companies the agent greeted me by saying "Welcome to ______, my name is ______, how can I improve your day"? Wow, with just a simple greeting it changed the whole cumbersome process to a pleasant experience & the agent went above & beyond to ensure a positive customer experience.

No matter what your job is, if your in a "9-5er" or maybe working to build a business dream of your own which God's placed within, are you doing the work well? Regardless of the work your doing, can you open your mind to a greater perspective & "perform His work well"?

Today, I will "bloom where I'm planted" & work to make a difference, seizing opportunities to perform "His work well", whatever that may be or the capacity it may be in, as it's placed before me throughout the day. Today, how can you improve someone's day & in the process "perform His work well"?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Excuses

"It's not old behavior if you just did it."

Are you always running late---"I was stuck in traffic." Spend more than you make---"Well I couldn't pass up that good deal". Texting & driving---"That message was really important". Quick to speak your mind & give your opinion even when it's really none of your business---"They really needed to hear what I had to say". Gossiping & taking others inventory leaving yourself with a sense of superiority---"Well I'm not as bad as that guy".

Whatever the excuse may be, we've all made them. Sometimes there are things that happen beyond our control & valid reasons to explain it.

A few years ago I was ticketed for having an expired license. I knew they were expired I had just not taken time to have them renewed. A few weeks later I was ticketed for having a headlight out. I knew it was out I just hadn't taken time to fix it. The excuses at the time the police officer was doing his job & writing me a ticket didn't matter at the point I got caught. Blaming him, stomping snorting & getting angry didn't help. I was responsible for not taking the action & corrective measures necessary.

So is it in daily life. As we grow spiritual in an ongoing daily state of improvement, God deals with us on things that need to be improved whether its in relationships, behaviors, character---our words, actions and deeds. At the end of the day, we can all make excuses for repeating bad behaviors; but, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

"If you want to be free to truly enjoy your life you must face the truth. You cannot be free if you make excuses for every area of weakness God has pointed out to you."

Today, turn your excuses into resolutions. Resolve to grow & be better in the areas of your life in which God has made you aware of weakness. Get rid of the "it's just who I am & who I'll always be" mentality. You don't have to be "that guy" anymore. Let God turn your weaknesses into strong points & help you overcome to the free, enjoyable, happy life of fullness & victory He has for you in becoming the person He's shaping you to be.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Listening to God

"Sin* will take you further than your willing to go & cost you more than your willing to pay."

*I've heard many describe ways they hear from God---through others, through that still small voice inside, through gentle inner promptings, through open & closed doors, through red flags & warning signs, etc.

Today, are you in tune with God? However you hear from Him, are you listening? When your about to make a decision & the internal alarms He's put in place are blaring, the red flags are everywhere & you know better, are you hearing those or ignoring them & making your own move regardless of the price it's gonna cost you.

However you want to look at *going against God's leading for your life, whether sin, taking a spiritual hit, falling short etc., I've come to realize the following:

1. It will cost you more than your willing to pay (and I'm not necessarily talking about money here).

2. It will take your further than you want to go (and I'm not speaking of good places in life).

Today are you willing to do the next right thing or about to make the next wrong move? Listen carefully to the promptings of God & follow His lead in & reap the rewards in doing so; otherwise, be willing to pay the price to ignore the red flags & warnings signs & do it your own way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Happiness

"Happiness is not a destination; but a way of life."

We all enjoy time with family, friends and maybe even co-workers; but, often find expectations on others can leave us disappointed. If something doesn't go the way we hoped disappointment and even hurt can set in, if allowed.

Being able to love others without expecting anything in return removes the factor of disappointment when someone doesn't do what we'd hoped or act the way we'd like them to. Letting go of these expectations keeps us from placing ourselves in a position of hurt & doesn't affect our happiness.

This process has been a period of construction for me for the past few years. Learning the more I grow spiritually each day, where my true happiness comes from & that it's based on my relationship with my Creator & being ok in my own skin. Being ok when it's just me & God alone or when I'm with friends, family or co-workers---whatever the occasion. When my happiness is based on Him & my relationship with Him at the core of who I am, I'm not looking for external things, people, places or things to fill the void & make me feel better or happy. I'm solid to the core & have a solid foundation of happiness that's unwavering.

Today, make the decision that your going to be happy & not let others affect your happiness, nor is it going to be based solely on external things. Take heart in knowing that when you nurture your relationship with God, happiness comes from Him & from within---the inside out. He's the one that is always there, never fails & provides what we need even if sometimes it may not be exactly what want. Today, if you want to be happy, BE!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What are you waiting for?

"When we look back, we realize the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God's hands were better than anything we could have planned."

Do you struggle with believing in God? Maybe you kinda believe one day & the next you kinda don't. Maybe your afraid that you can't fit the mold & the often preconceived ideas of what's required to believe & build a relationship with Him. Maybe you fear that believing in Him means your gonna end up being a missionary in deserted places of a far country. Maybe it's simply difficult believing in something you can't humanly see.

When I was struggling a few years ago & had lost any idea of what effectively having Him in my life meant, I quit trying which lead me to spiritual bankruptcy & I ran. I felt there was no way I could live up to a code of ethics or moral philosophies I thought were required to have Him in my life. I later found, with the help of others, nothing could be further from the truth. I learned some simple basics that started bringing me out spiritual bankruptcy & into a life of fullness He had for me:

1. All that's required is a simple willingness to BELIEVE. With this "we are well on our way."

2. He doesn't make hard terms for those who seek Him.

3. God can & will if He is sought.

I could work with these simple basics. I needed to know He doesn't make hard terms, wasn't mad at me or holding the things I'd done against me & His grace covered it all. From this simple new beginning I started from ground zero, God met me where I was & I began building a new found relationship which led me to later turning my will & my life over to Him. It's been an amazing journey & my relationship continues to grow daily. Today, Life is Good, no matter what!

Today I encourage you, if you haven't already, to give God a try. Keep it simple & start the journey. If He can turn a life like mine around, He can do the same for you & you to can be shortly saying "the things that came to us, when we put ourselves in God's hands were better than anything we could have planned." You too can live in a "new & wonderful world not matter what your present circumstances"! Thx God!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Smile! Why not?

Smile

"It takes 43 facial muscles to frown & only 17 to smile!"

Often a persons look, facial expression, & eyes tell a story. You can sense happiness, sadness, stress, frustration, anxiety often by the look on one's face. The eyes are the window to the soul. I've looked into the eyes of the hopeless & will never forget what that looks like. I've seen looks of fear & I've also experienced situations at times when someone can't be truthful & cannot continually look you in the eye in conversation because of dishonesty.

What's keeping you from smiling today? Daily frustrations & things that are out of our control can leave us frustrated; but, they don't have to, nor do they have to steal our joy. What good does it do to kick the flat tire, verbalize expletives in a traffic jam, or flip off granny who's driving slow in the fast lane?

Can you smile & laugh at the frustrations in life? What if those frustrations & delays are setting you up for a divine appointment you didn't know God has in store? What if they may be keeping you from experiencing tragedy just ahead?

Nothing's is wasted in God's economy. There are some things we can't control in life, the flat tire, the stock market, what other people say or do, etc. How you react to things you can't control determines your stress level & more so your quality of health.

Today, "Cast you cares on Him---He cares for you." Don't get upset as you navigate through the frustrations of daily life. Do your best, let God do the rest & smile. Not only will you feel better & maintain better health; but, your face will end up with fewer wrinkles over time ! "Don't worry, be happy!"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Taking out the trash.

"A negative mind produces a negative life."

For many of us, probably one of the least favorite chores is taking out the trash. We all know the story, it fills up, gets smelly & after we can't bear it anymore & there's no room to shove or compact anything else in we finally "take out the trash".

I struggled for many years with trust & negative thinking after a traumatic event happened in my teenage years leading into my early twenties. For so long following, I didn't trust anyone, felt like people were out to get me & literally fought my way up the ladder as I began my career. While I was successful at times, an eye for an eye defensive mentality also brought times of great pain & misery. Garbage in equaled garbage out.

One of the things I'm grateful for today is the new attitude & outlook on life that God has provided. Thoughts that are on a higher plain. Seeing the good in people & in the world instead of always focusing on the bad. Trusting others. The new perceptions that come in working to grow spiritually closer to Him each day; moreover, the realizations that what I used to think coincidence, I know see the hand of God working in my life. The "good stuff".

Today, let God replace negativity with positive reinforcement. Look to see the good in life instead of being so focused on the bad. Let God help you dispose of the "garbage" in your life---the negative mindsets, critical attitudes, bad thoughts & the things that may be keeping you from His best. Let Him help you begin to experience the fullness of life, & what He has in store by "taking out the trash" & getting rid of the things that are piling up in your life & holding you back from His best! Today, take out the trash in your life & let God help you start experiencing "the good stuff"!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Attacks---Holding on!!!

"Be well balanced, temperate, sober of mind, vigilant and cautious at all times."

We've all been to amusements parks and most of us have ridden roller coasters or rides and found ourselves holding on for dear life. I won't ever forget the first time I rode the "Batman" at Six Flags, I thought I was gonna poop my pants, laughing one minute, scared to death the next and BAM---we came to a sudden stop and it was over. We got off the ride and went on to the next.

Such is life. God has a greater purpose for all of our lives. Sometimes life can seem like a roller coaster. One day good things happen and then BAM, a challenge hits us. There are things that can work against us fulfilling God's purpose. However you perceive it, the enemy, devil, darkness, evil, or for some, the disease of addiction---the thing from time to time that challenges you & works to prevent you or can distract you from becoming who God would have you be & fulfill the greater purpose He has for your life---the things that work to get you off course.

"Unwavering commitment to trust God in all situations is a cornerstone for unshakable Faith. From the vantage point of that foundation, we can focus on Him & not allow circumstances to dictate our emotions. If not, when life is good we're happy, when it's not, we're down right frustrated, and when hardship pours in, we're downright miserable and looking for an escape."

If you feel under attack---hold on with Faith knowing God will see you through. "He provides what we need, if we keep close to Him and perform His work well." Remember the times He's always seen you through when you remain faithful, keep a good attitude, do the next right things before you & refuse to succumb to a perceived attack. Hold on & don't give up or give in! God's not brought you this far to drop you!

Today, I'm reminded of God's faithfulness, I'll take heart in the past evidence thats proves He always see's me through the storms and brings me out a little stronger to enjoy the beauty of brighter days ahead!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Righteousness & the so called "Spiritual Hilltop"

"The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day."

I've heard a lot of conversation recently about righteousness & spiritual hilltops. Many people have a stereo type of what righteousness means; but, did you know that it simply means being in right standing with God? Wow!

Years of trying to fit the mold of what " I " thought was required to be in right standing with God left me spiritually bankrupt. A mere code of moral ethics & philosophical convictions weren't enough to fit the bill. When I found myself on my knees with no where to look but up is where I found God. Nothing other than God Himself was ever going to fill that God sized hole I had deep within. Two simple words "God help" is where I made my start & my life began to change as my relationship with Him began to grow stronger each day.

Today I don't live on a spiritual hilltop; but a spiritual plain with the rest of God's children working to grow spiritually & make progress each day. I take heart in knowing that "God doesn't make too hard terms for those who seek Him". If I seek Him, He's found, guides my steps & shapes my character into who He'd have me be to fulfill the greater purpose He has for my life. "I'm far from what I once was; but, not yet all I'm going to be!"

Today, take heart in knowing that if you are in a right standing with God, you are righteous! If you're not, His Grace is readily available to make you that way!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Breaking the generational curses.

"The pain of my defects is the very substance God uses to cleanse my character & set me free."

Some friends were sharing with me last week how in their upbringing as children, they were often told they weren't good enough, weren't smart enough, wouldn't amount to anything, weren't handsome or pretty enough, etc. Amazingly these words were imbedded into the inner workings of their minds & became beliefs they've struggled with into their adult years. With God's help, some have broken free from the untruths while others are still working to overcome. I've also met & talked to people who have been abused sexually, physically, emotionally or verbally & it's sad to see how the trauma from these events often hold people back in a victim mentality & at times lead them to believe they aren't good enough or did something to deserve the abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As a parent I can't imagine not encouraging my children to pursue their dreams. I can't imagine telling them they aren't good enough much less abusing them. Unfortunately we live in a world where these things happen more than most of us really know.

If you were once a victim to some type of abuse, you don't have to live in a victim mentality, thinking you deserved it, weren't good enough, or that God was mad at you. While counseling & talking with others may help lighten the load, ultimately God can bring healing & fresh mindsets over trauma & tragedy. He doesn't want you to live bound up in a victim mentality & He can set you free from the pain of your past & turn it around to become one of your greatest assets. He can help you see that you are good enough! We've all heard the words "what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger". God can take the bad things that you may have been through & use them for greater purpose---to help others.

Whether it's major events of trauma in your past or simply that you've been mistreated by a friend or loved one whose turned their back on you, rise above the victim mentality! Your self worth isn't truly based on friends, loved ones or possessions but a core foundational relationship with God. Make a decision to let God set you free from a victim mentally & allow Him to fulfill the greater purpose for your life. Don't pass the pain of your past down to your children, friends & loved ones or take it out on them; but, make a decision that you are better than the brokenness of your past. You are a child of God & He wants you to experience the fullness of living up to your full potential, blessed, happy, joyous & free as He guides you into the greater purpose He has for for your life!

Today, let God break the chains that may have kept you bound. Ask His help in letting go, forgiving & moving on. Let God take you to better places in life, set you free, give you a new attitude & outlook & break the generational curses of your past. Start living a life with Him that can help you overcome, achieve accomplishments you thought impossible & take you to places you never dreamed!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

His strength is perfect.

"We can only know the power that He holds, when we truly see how deep our weakness goes."

Ever had the flu or sickness that seemed to drain your complete energy supply & you felt weak, almost to weak to get out of bed? Maybe you can relate to a long day at the office or working a double shift draining your energy. Maybe you struggle with depression or in dealing with some tough things life's brought you way, you've felt "blue". Maybe you've lost a friend or loved one and feel like you can't go on. Maybe an addiction has taken you to the bottom, leaving you feeling hopeless, afraid & feeling like life can never get better for you or that you can overcome. Things we face in life can drain us. Emotionally charged situations, good or bad, celebration or sorrow, can leave us with an emotional hangover and a feeling of exhaustion---maybe even a sense of weakness or a sense of hopelessness.

"There was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet... By doing so, we have a spiritual experience which revolutionizes our whole attitude toward life, toward others, and toward God's universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives there in a way, which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do for ourselves."

If you're feeling tired, weak in mind, body or spirit, let His strength be made perfect in your weakness. Ask for His help. Let Him trade your sorrow with joy, hopelessness with hope, ashes with beauty. Remember who has the power & where your true inner core strength comes from. Let God do for you what you can't. "Cast your cares on Him---He cares for you." Today I'm reminded that "His strength is perfect when our strength is gone".

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Selective hearing

"You have one mouth & two ears. God wants you to listen twice as much as you speak."

I often laugh at older couples when the wife asks the husband if he heard what she said, only to realize it really wasn't that he couldn't hear her, He actually was choosing not to be bothered by listening.

Have you ever been in conversation with someone and as they look at you, you can tell they're not at home, listening or fully engaged in the conversation? It's like they are staring a whole right through you with glossed over eyes. Selective hearing---I've been guilty, hearing what I want to & filtering out what I don't.

In being still & knowing that He is God each day, am I really listening or am I only taking my laundry list to Him? Am I doing a quick prayer just to say I did it & check it off the "to do" list? Am I seeking His will & guidance each day, listening for His direction through intuitive thoughts, that still small voice inside or words spoken by those He's placed in my path to help guide me? As children of God our affairs are His affairs and we receive good orderly direction (GOD) by Him if we are willing to listen & seek HIS direction.

Today, in being still & knowing He is God, may I also may be willing to listen, remain teachable & be sensitive to God speaking regardless of the forum He may use.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Me me me! What about me?

At various times in the past, I had been confronted with selfishness; but, an occasional good deed here & there left me justifying my behavior & living in denial. It wasn't until life came crumbling down a couple of years ago & I ask God into my life, that I really began to see in black & white how selfish I had been. I felt like I'd been hit in the gut & the wind had been taken out of my sail.

I'm grateful I don't have to be that guy anymore & it doesn't have to be all about me. I've learned the beauty of getting over myself & loving others where they are paired with the gift of getting out of myself to help others when God places an opportunity before me.

"If you reach beyond your own situation and show God's love by helping others, the circumstances you face fade away & disappear. You'll experience the wondrous joy of making a difference where it counts, living a life with greater purpose & grow a little closer to God in the process."

Today I'm grateful to know it's not all about me!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Would you be ok if ... ?

If tomorrow the job, the investment, the relationship or the friends you have depended on weren't there would you be ok? If your fiancé, husband or wife left or if you lost that loved one, would you be ok? If tomorrow your bank account went to $0 would you be ok? If you lost that home or car you've been trying to hang on to or those treasured possessions, would you be ok?

We all feel & experience the emotion of adversity, loss, grief or pain from time to time. In reality, have we placed more emphasis on those material things or relationships than we have our relationship with God? Would we find that our total security had actually been based on dependence of another person, on our position, money or material possessions & realize our faith was weak & so was our relationship with God?

It's human to feel emotion like grief or loss; but, when stay centered at core of who we are allowing God to be our foundation we can find ourselves OK in adversity & challenging times. We can match calamity with serenity, maintain peace & not feel like its the end of the world.

Nothing or no one will ever be able to fill that void, that God sized hole inside but God himself. Temporary replacements can be found but in time they will fade & the void will remain.

Today, let God truly fill the God sized hole, the void in your life & let Him be your foundation, the core of who you are. Let Him enable you to say with confidence "yes" I'll be "OK" regardless of what life may bring my way.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Now I lay me down to sleep ... "

Most of us have heard this simple childlike prayer & some often have uttered it when we were children. Others have had the opportunity to hear their sweet children's voices or maybe those of a friend or loved one do the same. Some of us as adults may still say the prayer (as I grin), yet many may have never heard it.

As I was leaving a restaurant tonight I observed a homeless man digging cigarette butts out of the ash can. I then witnessed a bus boy run to his aid. My thoughts immediately turned to a sense of gratitude for in reality that could be any of us with one wrong move, choice, poor decision or even a turn on the economy. I'm also reminded of where God has brought me from & what He has pulled me through. I look around me & my life---I have much to be grateful for!

So what about today, tonight as we all prepare at some point to sleep & begin to call it a day---Did I make a difference in the life of someone today? Was I more selfish than selfless? Did I go the extra mile for the client, friend or family member? Did I speak words of encouragement or judgement? Did I sense the nearness of my Creator in the ebb & flow of life or was I bound up in fear, anger, resentment or jealously & blocked from the sunlight of His spirit? Did I tell someone how much they really mean to me? Did I do the best I could with what I have to work with at this place in my life?

I'm grateful tonight that God gave me another day, another opportunity to live life to the fullest. I may have not made headline news; but, I'm grateful for the opportunities I had to make a small difference. I may not be able to answer all the questions above to my satisfaction for I am my own worst critic; but, I'm grateful for the ones I can & that if tomorrow comes I get an opportunity to do it a little better than today.

I'm equally grateful for those God placed in my path who made a difference my life today! Those who spoke the right words in the moments I needed to hear, those who lent a helping hand, those who cared, those I can call friends & loved ones.

Regardless of age, race, sex, creed, religion or lack of religion, sinner or saint, tattooed or pierced, dressed to the 9 or with wholes in our jeans, aren't we are all God's children?

Never alone, never again! Thanks God!

(And all God's children said "Amen".)

Out of the box

We've all received gifts at times of celebration, Holidays, Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc. The gifts are often wrapped eloquently in beautiful paper & handcrafted bows. We open, sometimes aggressively, tearing the box apart in anticipation of what's inside. At the moment of being given a gift, we have the choice to look at it, do nothing with it or open it. We have a choice then to leave the gift in the box or take it out and enjoy it, using it for the intended purpose.

What about God? Have you taken Him out of the box? Are you going it alone on your own self-propulsion or realizing the benefits of walking with Him daily & allowing His guidance into your life? Are you living and experiencing the gift of His grace, His provision, His faithfulness & those "God doing" moments or do you leave Him in the box & only take Him out in crisis, when your rear is on fire or when you need to make a 911 call & have no where else to turn? Take the limits off God & He'll take the limits off you.

Today, I continue to be amazed at "God doing". I'll keep Him out of the box & not put limits on what He can do. I'll take Him with me every step of the way, inviting Him into every aspect & fiber of my life. I'll enjoy the benefits that come with walking hand in hand with Him & allowing Him to guide me. In doing so I'll be grateful for the gifts I receive along the way.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Where's your faith?

"No one can escape adversity; but, those with proven faith will benefit from it."

I was telling some friends yesterday that I should know better by now than to get in fear & doubt God when I'm in the waiting stages for answer, provision or seemingly dealing with back to back adversity or challenges in my life. God continues to be faithful in my life & provide what I need in ways I often couldn't have imagined. His track record continues proven.

So why is it we sometimes doubt? Why is it that fear begins to rise when the answers haven't come or another form of adversity or challenge arises? Is it not simply fear that for some reason God isn't going to see us through? That the worst thing that could possible happen may? That on our own we simply don't have the answers? That we may loose something close to us or not get something we really want?

Whatever our reasons are, I have learned that my faith grows each time it's put to the test. On the other side of each painful situation, each challenge or time of adversity, I experience growth. I have learned (sometimes the hard way) that God can take every challenge that comes into my life & use it for greater purpose as He continues to shape & mold me to be better each day.

Today, I'll remember that self-reliance has a history of failing me; but, God has a proven track record of being faithful. Even in times that I may not see, I'll still believe!


Monday, August 6, 2012

One day at a time---you have what it takes!

Most of us have heard the term "one day at a time". Looking too far down the road into the future can be overwhelming as we try to play out different scenarios of how a situation may work out. Looking back in morbid reflection of past failures or situations in which we wish we'd done or said something differently can also keep us bound---beating ourselves into self-pity.

God has equipped each of us to fulfill the greater purpose for our lives. His strength, if accessed spiritually on a daily basis can keep us grounded, encouraged & in faith regardless of what the day may or may not bring. You don't have to wrestle the problems of tomorrow---it's not here. If you fell short yesterday, today you have an opportunity to be a little better than before. Don't lay awake at night worrying about the future or squander hours in your head playing old tapes over & over again in your head from past failures. "God is a very PRESENT help", "His grace is sufficient" and He will provide what we need each day when we seek Him. He can make your troubled past an asset & work things out for a future that may seem uncertain.

I can't predict the future nor can I do anything about the past; but I do have access to my Creator who has promised to provide everything I need if I stay close to Him, abiding in His grace!

Today. I'll stay in the present, even in the moment if necessary, dealing with the day as it comes. Tomorrow isn't here, the past is gone & with God's help I am equipped to be who He'd have me be & have the strength needed to deal with what may or may not come my way! I'll remember where my present help comes from, who's grace has covered my past mistakes & who's hands my future is in. With His help I'll keep my head in the clouds and my feet firmly planted on the ground as I walk with purpose to be who He'd have me be. Thx God!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

" Just trust me. "

Trust: Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

We've all most likely heard the words "Trust me". Depending on the situation and those involved we may have been able to fully do so, or we may have found trusting left us let down, jaded or even possibly taken advantage of. If our trust has been broken, we may have found it difficult to "trust" again & on a deeper level realized we may have been placing reliance more on "man" than God.

Wouldn't it be nice if "trust" worked out in every situation with those we found ourselves trusting in day to day life or we randomly encounter? Hopefully you, like me, have people in your life you can trust. The bigger question today is are you fully trusting God? Are you trusting Him for the right direction, outcomes, answers & guidance in your life? Do you trust that He won't let you down or that even if the answers He provides are not what you wanted, somehow in His greater plan & purpose for your life, they are for your best?

" I will never leave you or forsake you." Today, I'll be grateful for those I can trust; but, I won't put my trust in "man" above God. I'll take comfort in knowing He won't let me down, never fails & will always be by my side providing strength, regardless of what life may bring!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Interpretations

"I'll truly understand the events of today if I quietly let God reveal their significance."

"We will experience no coincidence today. All situations that transpire in the next 24 hours have their purpose. No single event, not the tired, hurried smile from a boss, the phone call from a frantic friend, or the cold response from a co-worker is without impact on our current perception of life. However, we shouldn't try to evaluate the full significance of any passing event without God's help. Letting Him offer us clarity regarding the circumstances in our life will ensure a healthy perspective.

We've all experienced trauma because we exaggerated a problem rather than calmly let God's inner wisdom guide us. We're only an impulsive thought away from a flurry of problems. Likewise, we're only an instant away from peace and enlightenment. The quiet mind will be ever present if that's our wish."

Today, As I live life with purpose I'll let God be my interpreter of events as they unfold and help me understand the significance of their meaning.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Really?

Ever had a time in your life when it was difficult to distinguish the truth from the false or when something was "fancied" or "real"? Ever wasted valuable time squandering hours trying to figure it out in your own mind, running the thousands of scenarios? Ever had a situation appear one way & when the truth was revealed it wasn't at all what it appeared to be? Really?

Life certainly can hit is with some seemingly complex things at time & often cause our focus to shift. In reality are they really that complex? Are they really where my focus needs to be? Is it really even any of my business?

Sometimes when I get sidetracked from focusing on the things in life that are really important, God often sends a reminder to me of how much I have to be grateful for & where my focus should be. It's often like he gently takes me by the shoulders & shakes me asking "What's really important in your life, Dwight? Really?"

Are there things in your life today that have you de-focused from God's best for your life causing you at the moment to live it wasted? Are there situations that you've allowed to become "fancied" in your mind but in reality you don't know all the facts & certainly don't know if they are "real"?

"Every situation has two interpretations - your own and God's." Today, I'll let God direct my thinking & focus on what's really important in life & in doing so, reap the rewards of pressing forward daily to become who He's shaping me to be. Really!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"God help."

There have been times in my life where I wasn't sure how to pray, what to pray for & a few years ago, times in which I didn't think God was listening anymore.

As I continue to grow spiritually each day, my prayer & communication with God improve; however, there are still times in which the only words I know to utter are "God Help". Times where I realize that I am about to make a decision, take an action, or react to a situation & in the busy-ness of the day realize I haven't asked God's guidance---"God help". There are times when my human mind & emotions have begun to overload with something I'm witnessing, walking through or experiencing---"God help". There are times in the midnight hour when I need an answer, direction or provision & it hasn't come through---"God help".

While I respect those who may have rehearsed, set, or eloquent prayers they pray, I've learned that simple communication with God is acceptable as well. I have learned that it's not so much how I communicate with God, as it is that I just do it, remembering each day where my guiding strength comes from.

"God help"---Two words, simply stated yet when sincerely prayed, can make a huge difference in your life.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Purpose

PURPOSE: The reason for which something exists or is done, made or used; an intended or desired result, aim or goal.

I heard of a story recently where a guy was shot in his apartment & robbed. He managed to crawl out into the enclosed hallway & yell for help. When he did, the neighbors on the floor in which he was living all flooded the hallway, ran to his aid & identified the gunman. All of those involved played a part in saving his life & bringing justice & closure to the case. Could it be that their greater purpose, in those exact moments of that particular night, was to play a role & be a piece of a puzzle that would help save this guys life & bring justice to the offender?

Have you ever thought about your purpose? You may be a father, mother, son, daughter, brother or friend with a daily routine & obligations to be met at home, school or work; but, what about the God intended purpose for your life as you live it daily? Are you making a difference & making every moment count?

When we take care of ourselves spiritually each day & let God guide our steps, we walk with purpose. We are sensitive to His lead which without our common knowledge may be placing us in the right place at the right time for the right purpose. One piece of a "puzzle" that folds up into an overall master plan for which we don't have the blue print.

As you become more each day who God would have you be, are you living your life with purpose or going through your daily routine aimlessly or feeling like you're dragging your feet through the mud?

Today, I'll walk with purpose. I'll be sensitive to God's leading & be of service to Him & my fellowman. I won't stress over unexpected schedule changes, traffic jams or delays as they may just be part of God's plan to put me in the right place, at the right time, to fulfill a greater purpose He has for my life. I'll remember that some of those unexpected moments are when I receive some of the greatest gifts from God!