Saturday, September 29, 2012

Decisions vs. Actions

"If nothing changes, nothing changes."

The other morning I was half asleep, coffee in hand (one eye open and one eye closed) standing in the elevator at the lofts, wondering why I wasn't going anywhere.  I realized I had never taken action to press the button of which floor I wanted to go to (insert grin).

I'm grateful today I can laugh at myself for their was a little humor in this moment; but, an "ah-ha" moment for such is life.  We can make decisions all day long---decisions to better ourselves, to get in shape, to grow closer in our relationship with our Creator, to forgive that person whose hurt us, to make that amends, to get to work or school on time, to tell those we love and care about how we feel, etc.; but, until we are willing to take action, nothing is going to happen.  If nothing changes, nothing changes.  A decision is one thing; but taking action is another.

Today, be willing to take action behind your God directed decisions and let His divine guidance in your life take you to the greater purpose He has for you & experience the gifts that come in doing so.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Anxious? Why?

" I have strength for all things through Him who empowers me. "

Are you anxious about something? Why? Worried about tomorrow or something that is out of your control? Why?

"Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand."

When I rely on my own strength or squander hours in my head over something I have no control over it can cloud my vision for the days work at hand. Do you not believe that as a child of God He loves you, wants to provide for your every need & works on your behalf?

Today, take heart in knowing the one who loved you enough to create you, will care for your every need. He goes before you. No need to worry about things you can't control or the if's, ands & buts of life. Do what God has placed before you & let him do the rest & replace your anxiousness about ______, with peace that if He loved you enough to create you, He loves you enough to take care of the things that concern you and even the things that don't!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What are you sowing?

"There is never a harvest without a time of sowing.  God can do anything He wants to; but, He has established a life principle that works.  First you sow, then you reap."

Most of us enjoy fresh fruits & vegetables.  In order for us to enjoy and consume those things there has to be a season of sowing, a season of planting before the harvest of those things can be enjoyed.  What are you sowing?  What are your reaping?  Are you busying point out the faults of others, in lieu of taking a look at yourself?  Are you edifying others, looking to see the good as well as the bad?  In the end, while honesty with others in relationships is important, I'm not their Creator & I have no power to change people.  Just because someone isn't living their life the way I live mine, the way I feel God would have me, doesn't mean their not somehow finding their path to Him in the manner necessary for them to get to where He'd have them be.  "Who am I to get in the way of someones path to find God"? 

God loves each of us where we are.  Each day we have an opportunity to edify each other, to speak words of kindness and not hate, to build up and not tear down.  Each of us find God in our way, and while the paths may be different, the goal is the same, to grow spiritually each day with our Creator.  My journey, isn't someone elses journey and while yes there are others I look up to spiritually, and want somethings they have which press me to be better, it doesn't mean I'm less than because I may not be there yet.

Today, what are you sowing?  Are you building others up, or tearing them down?  Are you offering words of hope, encouragement, and love to those around you, or are you building fences because they aren't living their lives or doing things the way you think they should or the way things work for you.  Maybe someone around you today just needs a word of encouragement.  Maybe they need some hope for the despair they are feeling.  Are you willing to take the time to sow words of encouragement?  Maybe a homeless person is placed before you, are you will to take time to buy him/her something to eat?  If what goes around truly comes back around, I want to live my life in a manner pleasing to my Creator, treating others the way I'd like to be treated, sowing good seeds, that will ultimately come back to me & allow me to continue living in the fullness and blessed life that only can come from a solid relationship with my Creator.  Today, bear in mind that you reap what you sow & let God guide you to be the person He'd have you be as your sowing seeds each moment of this day He's given you to live life to the fullest! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Thinking

( Right thoughts > right words > right actions )

"On awakening, we ask God to direct our thinking."

Today, let God clear your mind & direct your thinking. You'll find yourself not only saying; but, doing the things He'd have you do to fulfill the greater purpose He has for your life all while continuing to become who He's shaping you to be!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The what IF's

" If we stare at our giants to much, the fear of them will overtake us. Keep your eye on the prize, not the pain, challenge or problem that's placed before you. God will see you through. "

It seems to be a common human reaction to a situation where we're challenged, have problems or opportunities for growth to go to the worse case scenario that could possibly happen. Most of the time it likely will not; but, when we're driven by fear, that's usually where our mind takes us.

Keep your eye on the prize not the problem. "Rome wasn't built in a day." You may have to walk through something days, weeks, months or even longer before you come out on the other side & can look back & say I'm glad that's behind & see how God brought you thru & helped you grow through the experience.

Today, whether the things your facing are self inflicted by a bad decision, doing the next right thing & feeling the pain of doing so, or something tragic that's happened in your life, don't lose hope. God is very much on the job. His grace is sufficient to see you through. Instead of playing the "what if" tape, turn it over to God. Run the race set before you staying focused on the prize & let God see you through & give you peace in the midst of the "what if's" & let Him turn the "what if's" of life into His "what can be's!"




Saturday, September 22, 2012

God loves you. Love yourself.

"We may feel flawed by experiences we've gone through; but, that doesn't mean we're worthless & good for nothing."

Do you know love? Are you free to experience love for others without a hidden agenda or a price tag, loving without expectations in return? What about loving yourself? A few years ago I found myself at a crossroad in life. I didn't like who I had become after years of trying to fix myself with external things to fill the void in my life only God could fill. When I looked in the mirror, I didn't like who I saw, what I had become or even recognize the shell of the man in the mirror.

I'm grateful that God's grace reached down & began to turn my life around. As change began to occur & I began to work on myself spiritually growing in my relationship daily with my Creator, one of the most difficult hurdles I had to overcome was forgiveness. Forgiveness not of others; but, forgiveness of myself & all the things I'd done & the hurt I had caused to those around me & those who loved me. After months of beating myself up, overtime it happened & I finally realized if God forgave me it was time for me to forgive myself. It was a process but one day, it finally happened. I'm not "that guy anymore". The old me's dead & gone.

No matter what your past, what you've done or who you've hurt, God can turn it around & begin to bring change in you & your life if you'll allow Him. He can truly make beauty out of ashes. His grace "reaches to the highest mountain & flows to the lowest sea."

Today, God forgives! Forgive yourself & begin to experience all the gifts that God's grace can bring. Move forward to be the better person & experience the benefits that come in walking in His greater purpose for your life. Thanks to the grace of God, I'm not who I used to be; but, not yet all (with His help) I'm becoming. I'm grateful to be able to look in the mirror today & like who I see & who, with His help, I'm becoming!

Thanks God!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Even if I don't see, I'll still believe!

"God who started this great work in you will complete it & bring it to a flourishing finish."

Often in life we may find ourselves experiencing celebration & joy one moment & sorrow, pain or grieving the next. Having all those ingredients going simultaneously can at times be overwhelming & make you feel emotionally hung over.

Currently I am experiencing the joy of God blessing our family with a new member. A beautiful 3 year old little boy that my daughter & son-in-law are adopting. He is bringing such joy to our lives & has become a huge blessing. In the midst of the joy & celebration of this time, our family is also experiencing the vicious toll cancer can take on a body in the recent diagnosis of my stepfather with cancer in multiple affected places of his body.

Sunday we were all together & there were moments of joy in watching "J" our new little boy interact with the family & meet some of them for the first time. The joy of having him wrap his arms around Papa D's neck & telling me he "wooves (loves) me". The sorrow of seeing the decline in my step dad watching his weakness & looking into my moms eyes & seeing the pain, worry & concern---emotions abounded. Do I believe God has blessed us with a new little boy for a reason? Yes. Do I know if my stepdad will be healed of or beat this cancer? No.

God can keep us solid at the core of who we are with Him spiritually regardless of what we face. Whether joy or sorrow, celebration or grieving, if we work to maintain that relationship with Him each day. If we look close enough, we can see Him at work no matter what we may be walking through or facing in life. We can look around & still find much to be grateful for.

I do not know what tomorrow holds. I have today. I will look to see the hand of God at work regardless of the situation & even if I find myself in a situation of doubt, even if I don't see, I'll still believe!

Thanks God!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Perseverance

PERSEVERANCE: to maintain purpose in spite of difficulty, discouragement or obstacles.

Ever noticed following a good rain, when the sun re-appears that everything looks cleaner, trees looks greener, flowers look brighter & things seem refreshed. Thus it is with life. Gray times come. They can be viewed as times of refinement, times of a testing & further growth period of our faith, or opportunities for growth. If we will persevere during the rainy gray days & storms of life, the sun will shine again & we can come out on the other side refreshed, renewed, stronger & moving forward to the greater purpose God has for our lives.

God has been & continues to be faithful. His track record, looking back, is proven. It's often natural human response to allow discouragement to set in during the gray days, the rainy, stormy, & dark times that life may bring. When I remember that He's consistently seen me through the tough times & I've grown through each experience, I have no reason to doubt based on past experience, that He will see me through again & bring me out better, stronger, refined & with greater purpose.

When walking through times that seem cloudy, dark or even down right stormy, if I will remember that each time I've faced challenging situations in life & held on to my faith, God has been faithful to bring the sunshine again & growth on the other side of pain. Good things happen again. When the sun re-appears & the storms settle, I can look at the experience and realize the I've grown, if I allow God to use the opportunities & the challenges for greater purpose.

Today, "Persevere in your walk with God , even when it's hard. Stay focused on Him & it will all pay off when you enter into the victory that He has in store."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It is well

It is well

"In all things we are more than conquerors & gain victory through our Creator who loves us."

I used to think that when "bad" or challenging things came my way that God was mad at me or punishing me for something. Thankfully God freed me from that mindset a few years ago. While I do believe we reap what we sow, I also believe & have experienced God working in challenging circumstances to bring spiritual growth. Sometimes, while we will never know why, bad things just happen to good people.

"Real victory is not being problem free. For the child of God is comes in looking tragedy in the eye & saying 'it is well with my soul'. It's being able to focus on God & not the circumstances around you, knowing He will see you through."

Today, no matter what, can you say "It is well with my soul?" If not, let God be your source of strength, look to Him & not your problems. Instead of telling God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is. Let Him fill you at the core of your being & enable you by His strength to carry on at peace, regardless of what live brings your way & say "It is well...with my soul!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Courage

"Courage looks fear in the eye & says get out of the way, I've got things to do."

How many times in life have you been frozen in fear, afraid to move forward, to make that decision God's been directing you to do? Maybe it's fear of being honest in a situation because of fearing the reprecutions. Maybe it's people pleasing & fear that someone won't like you if you tell them the truth, don't act the way they want you to or if you say no to an invite knowing its not God's best for yourself? Others have fear of heights, fear of being in closed in spaces, even fear of driving across bridges. What about fear of not being liked, fear of being alone or fear of economic insecurity? Some of the biggest common fears dealt with daily are fear of not being liked or fear that we're not gonna have what we need or get what we want. Fear summed up usually involves being afraid that we are going to loose something we posses or someone close to us or fear that we aren't going to get something we want.

I'm grateful that God's used others to help me realize fear & the ability to see the root cause of why it crops up. The ability to distinguish between healthy fears & fears that work against me moving forward to God's best for my life.

God's got you & that means He can take your fear & turn it into courage based on your faith in Him. He knows your fears, whats up the road ahead, whats right in front of you. He's got you & your life in the palm of His hand if you'll just simply continue to follow His lead. Today, suit up & show up fully clothed with your faith. Let faith supersede your fear. Today, with God's help, strength & courage, look your fears in the eye & tell them to get out of the way for you have things to do & let God take you to the better places & bestow the greater gifts He has in store for you with His greater purpose & direction for your life!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Is God pleased?

"We must work on changing our inner lives in order to expect change in our outer lives."

For many years I felt like I had fallen so far from Grace that I could never have a right relationship with God. After years of struggling for external fixes to fill the void & God sized hole in my life, I finally realized in moments of clarity brought about by God using others to speak to & guide me, that the construction which needed to occur in my life wasn't on the outside but right the opposite --- it was an "inside job". God met me where I was & His grace was readily available to pick up the pieces of my life, the destruction & devastation & begin to turn it around for the better.

It has changed me from the inside out. It's changed my behaviors, the way I treat others, the way I carry myself --- my whole attitude & outlook & even my perception of life & the events it brings from day to day.

"The great fact is just this, and nothing less: that we have had deep & effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows & toward God's universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts & lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves."

No matter where you are, what you been through, are going through or have done, there is nothing that can separate you from God's love. His Grace is readily available to help you pick up & move forward in life. His Grace is sufficient!

Is your inside job being attended to---your relationship with your creator? Have you allowed Him to bring about change in your life for the better so that He is pleased with you, your behavior, your attitude, how you carry yourself & how you treat your fellowman?

Today, let God change the inside & begin to see the things on the outside take shape & unfold in your life in a manner that will be not only mind blowing but also pleasing to God!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Trade in's & Upgrades

"When we are wholly trusting God for all our strength in all our affairs in life, we receive divine protection that is amazing."

Trade in: An item of property that is given in part payment for a new one.

Upgrade: Raise (something) to a higher standard, in particular improve by adding or replacing components.

In today's society we hear a lot about trade in's & upgrades. Automobile dealers constantly market trading in that "clunker" for something better, usually offering an attractive promotion. One of my favorites is the "push pull or drag it in" campaigns. Cell phone companies are constantly marketing customers to upgrade to new phones to take advantage of new technologies & faster devices.

What about day to day life & our spiritual journey with God? Have you traded in & upgraded? Are you still worrying about things you can't change or what tomorrow may bring? Still beating yourself up over past mistakes & shortcomings? Still going it on your own power, making decisions based on self that later cause you to get into pain, suffering & a bind?

I remember once many years ago I had a car that was on it's last legs, I passed up a good deal to trade it in & on the way home "slung a rod". Needless to say the trade in value on a car that had to be towed into the dealership for trade in was much less. It was one of those push, pull or drag kinda deals. Thankfully it wasn't a total loss. A good deal was offered on a new vehicle & an allowance made for the broken down clunker.

Today, is it time for you to make a trade in or do an upgrade in life? Why don't you trade in & upgrade with God. Worry, pain, regret & sorry can be easily traded for peace, serenity & joy & God is readily waiting to take the "clunkers" of your life & give you something better. Today, trade whatever you've been carrying around for the relief & joy that only your Creator can provide. "When we are wholly trusting God for all our strength in all our affairs in life, we receive divine protection that is amazing."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Be still & know...

I used to start my day getting up late, always rushing to shower, get ready for work or to meet my plans for the day, literally rushing out the door jetting to my whereabouts & never really taking time to invite God in. I was ultimately aimlessly going about my day.

I have been taught, learned & began to experience the beauty that comes in taking (and making) time to invite God into my day. It's become an important part of my ongoing spiritual growth. Something that I used to just do to check it off the list, has now become something that I look forward to, long for & reap the benefits of---spending time each day with my Creator, being still before Him, knowing He is God.

"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Confidence means to have faith in something. We could not live without confidence in others. When you have confidence in God's grace, you can face whatever comes. When you have confidence in God's love, you can be serene and at peace. You can rest in the faith that God will take care of you. Try to rest in God's presence until His life power flows through you. Be still and in that stillness the still, small Voice will come. It speaks in quietness to the human mind that is attuned to its influence."

Today I will live in an awareness of the beauty, strength & confidence that comes when I'm still before my Creator, shutting the world out, allowing Him to clear my thoughts, inviting Him into my day & my life. I'll allow Him to re-fill me at the core with His presence & divine guidance. Today I'll be grateful for the gifts that come in being still & knowing He is God & I'll also remember that I am not.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Terms

"We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him."

For years I burned myself out trying to live up to what I thought were the terms of knowing God. Church three times a week, saying yes to everything I was asked to do by those in leadership positions of religious groups, & being a do all, be all kind of guy. Eventually after burning the candle at both ends for an extended period of time & wearing myself out trying to live up to others "mere code of ethics & moral philosophies" I lost all sight of what a relationship with God meant & found myself jaded with hypocrisy in religious groups of people who appeared angelic on Sunday but lived like hell through the week. I ended up spiritually bankrupt & looking for anything but God to solve my problems---constantly on the run.

Friend please don't get me wrong. I respect those who have found greater purpose in fulfilling God's calling in their lives by truly being of service to others in churches, synagogues & temples & live up to & practice what they preach. While being a part of those groups may enhance a relationship with God, it's not the basis or foundation of a relationship with Him. He doesn't live there but in the hearts & lives of those who seek Him & take Him with them through each move, turn & twist of life as they live it each day.

Whenever you may be in life, the point is you don't have to live up to what others ideal of a relationship with God may be. A relationship with Him is between you & Him & no one else. I learned the basic key ingredient behind a solid relationship with Him is simply seeking Him & working to grow that relationship each day.

Today, I'll find comfort in knowing that when I seek God, He's found. He's with me throughout the day and as I seek Him, He's there to guide each word, thought, action, decision & deed. I don't have to work from a checklist to be marked off & I don't have to do it the way others may think I should, I just need to do it. Today, I'll continue to live in the grace of God, grateful for it & for the peace, serenity & assurance of knowing He's there, that I'm good with God & He's good with me!



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Godlike thinking

"The answer to personality problems is found in a quiet return to Godlike thinking."

Those who know me know how much I value peace & serenity in my life, in my relationships & in my home today. It's been a long time coming & didn't happen overnight. It's something I value, appreciate & work hard to maintain in making conscious contact with God daily working to grow spiritually in my relationship with Him & not get off course of His greater purpose for my life each day.

God has helped changed my thinking, my attitude & outlook on life & also helped my perception. If something begins to "jack with my peace & serenity", a quick assessment can be made & a prayer, re-centering myself & bringing God into any given situation asking for His guidance & provision for the right thoughts & actions.

"We can make the simple decision to always check out our proposed behavior against the behavior we know is from God. When we remember to think of God first before proceeding, we avoid unnecessary conflicts; we refrain from consciously hurting anyone; we manage to take our experiences restfully, moment by moment.

There's really no mystery to having a rewarding and peaceful life. Those we notice who do have likely made a frequent companion of God. The decision to work more on our own friendship with God is an easy one to make."

Today, I will work to bring God into each & every situation I face & keep close to Him allowing Him to direct my thoughts, actions, words & deeds. In doing so I'll be grateful for & enjoy the benefits that come in a life filled with peace & serenity that only He can provide.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can & the wisdom to know the difference."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spiritual Maturity

"Spiritual maturity isn't measured by how long you've known God, how much you know or how often you go to church. Spiritual maturity is measured by the way you treat others."

One the the greatest gifts I've received in continuing to grow spiritually is patience & often it's demonstrated in patience with people. I'll admit somedays it's better than others but when I make an assessment of how I used to be, its vastly improved.

We've all heard the golden rule, love your neighbor as yourself. Each day in my job & my daily walk in life, I meet people whose lives have been ripped apart through tragedy, trauma , grief & pain. God's given me compassion for my fellowman regardless of where he or she may be in life. Instead of looking to people & using them to see what I can get from them or what's in it for me, I have learned to love people where they are, show kindness & tolerance without demands of something in return. It hasn't happened overnight & with God's help it continues to improve.

Can you love your neighbor, your fellowman, those difficult people in your life without expecting something in return? Are you treating others the way you'd like to be treated, even if they don't return the kind gesture? Are you so bound up in looking at people's shortcomings that you can't see the good in them?

Today, be kind to those you meet, those God's placed in your life, even the difficult people, for we never know what type of battle they may be facing behind the scenes. Treat others the way you'd like to be treated & in the process experience God continuing to bestow the many priceless gifts that come in growing spiritually in your relationship with Him.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Change

"If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself & make a change."

Change. Some of us don't like it, yet some of us embrace it as new opportunities to do something's different, start new chapters in our life & grow. Change is part of life. Resistance to change is often more painful than change itself.

Ever felt manipulated? Ever manipulated to get a desired result? One of my previous jobs involved incorporating new business processes to streamline & optimize business work flow, reduce cost, provide better customer experience & help employees work smarter. Often times in round table meetings working out the "nuts & bolts"of change there would be those "nay sayers" negative or resistant to the proposed change. "That will never work". "We've always done it this way". Often convincing others to embrace the proposed change was as difficult as incorporating the proposed changed.

Thus it often is with life. Had I not been willing to let God do some fine tuning in me & my life, embrace change & let Him give me an ongoing tune up, I wouldn't be where I am today & continuing to grow. Embracing the change He's brought about in my life has been one of the best decisions I could have made when I turned my will & life over to Him & His care. It hasn't always been easy; but, in the end, worth it.

"Freedom from despair and frustration can come only from changing, in myself, the attitudes that are perpetuating the conditions that cause me grief."

Today, are you resisting change God is trying to incorporate in your life as He's guiding you into the greater purpose of who He'd have you become? Don't miss out on the opportunities that come in being willing to change & allow God to fine tune you. Today, move to where God is at work, align accordingly to who He's shaping & molding you to become & allow the incorporation of God directed change to take to you new heights of victory, happiness & freedom He has in store for your life!

Monday, September 10, 2012

You have what it takes !

You have what it takes.

"God has equipped you & will continue to equip you with everything you need to live the life of greater purpose He has in store for your life."

God gives each of us different talents & things we're good at. There may also be new things we could be good at, IF, we'd only try. You may be good at dealing with people, great with sales, excellent with IT work. You may be well organized or one that can accomplish great task simultaneously in a short amount of time. You may have athletic ability, be musically talented or great with a camera or a paint brush.

"God has equipped you with everything you need to fulfill your God given destiny . That means you are well able to do what He has called you to do. You can accomplish your goals. You can fulfill your dreams! You have the ideas, the creativity, and talent to be successful. You can overcome any obstacle. You’ve been armed with strength for every battle.

Not only has God equipped you, but He is also working on your behalf. He has already gone before you and lined up the right people and the right opportunities. You have everything you need to live a victorious life — you were created for excellence."

Friend, don't settle for less than God's best for your life. You may be walking in & pulling deep for faith waiting on God's greater purpose & the dreams He's placed inside you to unfold. Keep the faith & keep on keeping on knowing God is going before you & lining things up on your behalf to fulfill the greater purpose He has for your life. God can take ordinary people & use them to accomplish extraordinary things! Today take comfort in knowing you have what it takes & with God, ALL things ate possible!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stressed out? Keep calm & carry on!

"We don't tire so easily for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were arranging life to suit ourselves."

How many times have we said or heard someone say "I'm stressed out". Many studies have been performed showing the negative effects of too much stress on the mind, body & emotions. It can take a toll on us mentally, physically, emotionally & spiritually.

I have had many "high stress" jobs & at times thrived & functioned well under times of stress. Sometimes looking back it was like a drug shooting in my vein. The more stress I was under the more it changed how I felt & the more of an adrenaline rush I got. When I worked for a Nuclear Power Group it was intense & often unhealthy because a mistake made in my line of work could cause negative impact, leading to a reactor shut down. I thrived on putting crisis plans together & loved being the go to guy to get things done relishing in the "atta boys" that came in a job well done.

Over the years, my family & friends suffered the costs for me being consumed with my work. Often my stress was brought home & not checked at the door when I walked in & it had negative impact on our home life. Hours were spent away from the ones I loved while climbing the corporates ladders of success & in the end it fed my chemical alternation in an attempt to not succumb to the stress & pressures of the jobs & everyday life while trying to be a do all, be all kinda guy. I finally reached the breaking point & looking back live in a realization that I lost valuable time with those I love that I can't get back.

Today I realize that I can be a person of extremes with everything either black or white & no in betweens. God has helped with that. He has provided new opportunities, new attitudes & outlooks on life. When I invite Him into my day each morning & work to follow His lead, I find that I'm less stressed, my days seem to flow more seamlessly & when there may be crisis He keeps me solid at the core to keep calm & carry on.

Are you stressed out today? Why? Is it necessary? Are you relying on your own strength or God's? Everything that happens in the course of the day does not have to be dramatized to a crisis. Invite God into your day. Allow Him to change your attitudes & outlooks on life. If your burning the candle at both ends, take time to rejuvenate when your body says rest. I'm grateful that I don't live in the mindset that I have to be everything to everyone everyday. Today, regardless of what life brings your way, follow God's lead & walk with purpose. Pull your strength from Him & allow Him to help you keep calm & carry on!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Never good enough

"Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you & pray for those who despitefully use & persecute you."

Have you ever met someone that no matter how good, nice or kind you are to them, they just don't like you. No matter what you do, it's never good enough in their eyes. If you ever make a mistake, or fall short in an area, it's as if you've committed an unpardonable sin, are allowed no room for mistakes & should be perfect.

We want people to like us; but the stark reality is---not everyone is going to, no matter how much we want them to or how hard we try to get them to. I struggled for many years with this & wore myself out trying to gain acceptance from people when it was never gonna happen no matter how hard I tried.

I'm grateful today for the spiritual growth in my life that has allowed me to live in emotional sobriety, to be ok regardless of who does or doesn't like me, does or doesn't accept me, says kind words about me or fabricates mistruths. God will settle those accounts. I no longer have to overexert myself to get people to like me. God puts the right people in my life that I need, at the right time & the right place. People I can depend on. Friends who will build me up, tell me the truth & not tear me down. Friends who encourage me during the dark times life brings & who celebrate the successes that come.

When I first began my new spiritual journey a few years ago, starting at ground zero, I was taught to pray for those who had harmed me, for those I didn't like or who didn't like me, refused to forgive me & for those who had wronged me or used me. I didn't understand at the time why; but today I do as it gives the freedom to love people where they are and experience the many gifts that come in walking daily in forgiveness & not being bound up in bitterness & resentment.

One of the most difficult times I had with this concept was right after Shanna, my former wife & children's mother tragically passed. I had been clean & sober for sometime then & someone started a rumor that after her death I had relapsed & started using again. There was nothing that could have been farther from the truth. I had not relapsed but right the opposite had no thoughts of doing so during the toughest time in my life. God gave me the strength to get through that time & I have no desire to go back to the old life I had been living. I didn't know the source of the rumor but new it was spreading like wildfire. Those close to me knew it wasn't true & encouraged me to keep doing what I needed to do to move forward & take care of myself. So I did & I prayed for this anonymous person, the source who I didn't know.

A few weeks later, we buried Shanna's grandfather, another difficult time for our family. On that day, driving home to Birmingham, I received an unexpected phone call out of the blue. The person on the other end of the phone, emotionally distraught & upset to the point of tears began to explain that they were the source of the rumors. They couldn't have felt worse & it had caused them pain in their own life & sleepless nights. They asked for my forgiveness & it was granted. Today, I respect this person, have moved forward in friendship with them & admire their honesty & the courage that it took to come forward & make the wrongs right.

Friend no matter what your dealing with today in regard to people, let God put the right people in your life & don't force relationships that may not be His best for you. Pray for those who may be bashing you or hating on you. Walk in forgiveness & let God handle the rest. At the end of the day, He can settle the accounts much better than we can & can provide the strength needed to carry on, being ok with who we are & who He's placed in our life---walking each day with pep in our step to carry on, be happy, joyous & free in spite of and regardless of people, places & things.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thorn in the flesh

"Pain is the touchstone to spiritual progress."

Sometimes I've read this & been grateful, other times I've read it & been a little resentful. It reminds me of the words "no pain, no gain"!

We all have been through painful experiences in life. There maybe things in our lives that we often succumb to that cause us pain & spiritual hits & shut us off from the sunlight of God's spirit because we have not been willing to let them go & continue to act in behaviors that deep inside we know aren't God's best for us. There maybe difficult people in our lives that cause us pain if allowed.

On the other side of pain is growth. Maybe your pain today isn't self inflicted, or maybe it is. Many walk around each day wearing a mask on the outside to project what they want others to see when honestly deep down that's now how they feel at all. Some of the most difficult situations & people in my life which have caused me pain are those very things that God used on the other side of the situation to help me grow the most & bring peace & understanding in my life after walking through the experience.

While I'm powerless over people, places & things, I'm not powerless over my behavior, my actions & taking care of myself spiritually each day. I have a choice to do the next right things as God leads, making right decisions & taking right actions or make decisions based on self & experience self inflicted pain.

Today, if you have a thorn in your flesh, let God take the pain of that experience & help you grow through it & ultimately extract it. Let Him direct your thinking, actions & behaviors. Cast off the things that hinder & in the process experience the growth, greater purpose & victory He has in store for your life!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

One-up

"The answers will come if your own house is in order".

Have you ever met or been around people that no matter what you may be going through, they dramatize their own problems to be so much worse. If your sick or under the weather, they could make a hang nail seem like they have terminal cancer. If you get something new or new to you, they always have something better. It is what it is. God enables us to love people exactly where they are & let them be.

I'm grateful that regardless of where I am in life or what I have I can "be" & be "ok". Its been a long time coming. God makes it possible. After years of trying to compete with the "Jones" & get more more more, my what about me attitude got worse & I was constantly working to get more & one-up the neighbors, friends, people I worked with & those around attempting to make everything look "ok" & feel better about myself. External fixes faded, things came crumbling down & left me ultimately on my knees with no where to turn but God.

Friend don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being prosperous & having what we need or even somethings we want ( I believe God wants us to ). No matter where I find myself in life I find that God provides what I need & often, so much more. I've read that this happens "if we keep close to Him & perform His work well". I no longer have to live under the burden of comparing myself to others or compete in the game of keeping up or making myself feel better or superior by "one upping" other people.

Today, you may be blessed with prosperity, a good paying job & financial security or you may be barely making ends meet. Be grateful with what you have & don't base your self-worth on what you have or don't have or by the comparison of others. I've learned the hard way that when I do what I need to do to take care of myself spiritually, continuing to grow daily in my relationship with God & do the next right things before me, He takes care of my needs & my healthy self-worth is in tact. I no longer have to make myself feel better by making others feel worse or one-upping my fellow man. At the end of the day God's one ups & his blessings in my life are far better than any I could self manufacture on my own. Today I will be grateful & blessed with what I have, where I'm at in life & in my relationship with my Creator. In the process, knowing where my strength comes from, I'll celebrate the successes of others with them, without comparison of my own.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

If only

"We must be careful not to drift into worry or morbid reflection for it will diminish our usefulness to God, our fellowman & ourselves."

Many of us over the course of our lives may have found ourselves saying, "if only.". If I had done that different, if I hadn't made that decision, if I hadn't taken that action or made that poor choice.

It's easy after walking through the past years of my life to say "if only". I haven't always had a history of making right choices & doing the next right things. I see so many things I could or would have liked to have done differently; but, there's nothing I can do to turn back the hands of time. We don't get a do over in life; but we do get the opportunity to walk in God's forgiveness, learn from the past & make better choices today.

Understanding comes after walking through the experiences of life. I'm grateful God has given me the opportunity to repair some of the damage & wreckage of my past. I'm grateful for His grace & second chances (thirds & fourths) which give the ability to move forward & learn from our mistakes. I don't have to be the guy I used to be anymore. "I'm not who I used to be; but, not yet all I'm gonna be with God's help.". It's not all about who I've been; but, who I'm becoming.

Maybe you too wish you would have done somethings different in the past. Stop beating yourself up. God forgives, forgive yourself. Today is a new day. A day for new chances & ability to make right choices & do the next right things. Celebrate today & let God move you from morbid reflection & regret to enjoying life & living it to the fullest with the greater purpose He has in store for you!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Plans

"For I know the plans I have for you. Good not evil. A future & a Hope!"

We all have hopes & dreams. Maybe it's to be successful in our field, to finish a degree, to marry & have a family, etc. Are my plans & dreams lining up with where God is leading me in life to fulfill greater purpose & become who He'd have me be?

In today's economy, things are more expensive & it takes more to live. The cost of living continues to be on the rise. Most of us find ourselves working each day to be self supporting & to live life & have what we need to live or we are preparing ourselves to do so as we work on those degrees or training programs to work in a certain field.

Each day as I wake & open my day, it's a gift---it's called the present. I have an opportunity to invite God in to help me accomplish the things set before me & to seek His greater purpose for my life. I have dreams, visions, goals & objectives; but, one thing I've learned is that I don't have to settle for those if they aren't God best for me & He has greater things in store. Often if I had settled for what I thought was best & gotten truly what I thought I wanted I would have sold myself short of what God had in store. When I have forced my way to get what I wanted I've often ended up with disappointment.

Not with God. I continue to be amazed that a few simple things each day that help me care for my spiritual relationship with Him rocket me into the next areas of greater things & purpose He has in store for my life. When I trust Him to guide my decisions & follow His lead, I don't have to worry about disappointment for the "things that come are better than I could have planned."

Today, what are your plans, goals & objectives? Are you having to force them to happen or are doors opening left & right for you to run to the goal & meet the objective? When I follow God's lead, the one who can open doors that can't be closed & vice versa, close doors that can't be opened, I am guided into the plan for a brighter future & a hope for continued better days.

Today, let God fulfill the plans he has for you & take you to those plans for good, a brighter future & a hope. It may not come together overnight; but, when it finally transpires you will realize it's been worth the journey & may too find yourself saying WOW, this is far better than I could of planned, imagined or dreamed!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hands that hold you

"Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate you from God's love."

When I began my spiritual journey a few years ago I attended a work shop with someone who has years of experience, a wise man, who with God's help had found a solution to make it through life's problems without looking for external things to fix or alter him. A spiritual solution based on a solid relationship with His Creator. He taught on practicing spiritual principals in all our affairs & stressed the importance of daily prayer & meditation (P&M) to maintain a close relationship with God.

One of the segments of the workshop was on P&M. He had us, a group of about 80 people, complete an exercise in centering ourselves with God in P&M. He asked us to close our eyes, be still & cast out of our minds the troubles of the day---of life. He asked us to vision our Creator holding us close, as if crawling up in the arms of someone safe like a mother or father & envisioning the comfort that comes in doing so. He asked us to compare that in our minds to being held in the arms of our Creator. He asked us to be still & know that He (God) is God.

When I was a child, around 3 years old, I remember everyday before nap time, my mom would take me in her arms in a rocking chair, hold me close & read me a story. I can remember how safe I felt & how being held close gave me a sense of feeling safe & protected. I often fell asleep before the end of the story.

So it is with our Heavenly Father. When I'm still & know He is God, when I crawl up in His arms, I gain a sense of being safe & protected visualizing Him holding me in His arms daily, carry me & lifting the burdens of life & assuring me that He will guide me & see me through.

"When you put your faith in God, you have complete confidence in the God who has the power to accomplish anything on your behalf, the wisdom to know exactly what you need, and the goodness to work in your life in ways that bring the greatest possible blessing."

Today, let the divine hands that created you hold you close. Today, take time to "Be still & know that He is God" & gain the sense of safety, protection, guidance, peace & serenity that come in doing so.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

In His Time

"Let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart."

One thing I've learned is God's timing & season is not always my time. He takes time to fulfill things in the proper way at the right time & place for my good & greater purpose. For years I reaped the consequences of an "I want what I want & I want it now" mentality---forcing my way to get immediate results & selfishly what I wanted. I lived in constant oblivion to how selfish I had become with everything always being about me---me, me, me, what about me?

These days I live in the realization that when I practice patience & wait on God, allowing His will, His plan & purpose to unfold, I don't live in regret of doing things my way or selling myself short of the better things He has in the works. I can selflessly think of others before self & truly love, trust & have compassion for my fellowman.

Today, I will continue to backup my faith with good works & not grow weary in doing good during the times of waiting on God. I'll look forward with anticipation of what He's gonna continue to do in my life for He truly continues to be good & see me through.

"Follow the dictates of a Higher Power (God) & you will presently live in a new & wonderful world no matter what your present circumstances."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Close

" I will never leave you or forsake you. ---God "

Since I prayed the prayer to turn my will & my life over to God a couple of years ago (and I sincerely meant it), there are times that I have felt His presence very near as if He were sitting in the seat next to me. Other times, I've known He was there; but may have not had the overwhelming feeling of His presence so close.

One thing I've been taught & also learned is that we are as close to God at any given moment as we choose to be. I also live in an awareness that I can't always go by how I "feel".

I'm grateful to know that my Creator is always there & will never leave me. In times which I've made decisions based on self & not fully followed God's leading (doing it my way), are times that I have taken spiritual hits & felt somewhat shutoff from the sunlight of God's presence. That's on me---my own choice, my own fault.

Feelings come & go; but, God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Today I'll work to hold Him close & not take the risks of making decisions based on self which can cause distance in the closeness with my Creator. I will remember, no matter what, it's by God's grace that I live, breathe & have life. Grace that keeps me moving forward through the successes & failures in life. Grace that says "dust yourself off & try again" when I fall short. I don't know about you my friend but I want to live life with purpose, following God's lead so that I can carry His nearness with me each step of the way & experience the gifts & victory that come in doing so!