Christian Living

Foundation of Communication

comm

 

The Foundation of Communication

Is there someone you always seem to disagree with? You could be right. And we all love to believe we are right…right? But often we are wrong, and it takes a very mature, confident and wise person to admit when they are wrong. But usually it’s not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s about the truth coming into our lives to provide clarity, lead us toward success, bring happiness, and to benefit those we love.

 

If you are only concerned with being the one who is always correct in their understanding, you will never be considered a wise person. It is towards the goal of being and remaining wise people that I have included the following information that I gleaned from professionals in various fields: Psychologists, Sociologists, Ministers of Christ, best selling Authors, Scholars and Great orators. What I present here may sound too rudimentary and basic, because it is foundational to good communications skills. And yet, the majority of our populace appears to be ignorant of these simple facts.

 

Some of my most profitable friendships have been cultivated from what began as disagreements. Often, after truly listening to, and understanding a person I had formerly disagreed with, I had to say, “I was wrong and you were right.” Wow! The respect those simple words garner is amazing. People respect you and trust you a whole lot more if they have heard you say those words. When we can acknowledge the times we are wrong, people will realize we are genuine—the real deal. I have made lifelong friends who now serve as wise counselors for me, and me for them, simply by humbling ourselves enough to improve our communication skills and begin to really hear, listen and comprehend, and even experience the feelings of the other guy.

When being good listeners we employ everything at our disposal: Eyes, ears, minds, and also our hearts.

We must learn to respectfully ask questions. Ask for clarification! Don’t simply guess what they meant by what they said, ask them. We could simply ask, “What do you mean by that?” This leads both parties to clear communication. The very same people I formerly disagreed with have now come to me for advice and for counselling. Whereas before, we seemed to always be at loggerheads.

But first I had to learn how to keep my flapper shut long enough to allow the discernment that God’s Spirit offers, to lead me. You don’t have to answer right away! Sometimes you might want to wait until the next day to answer. Many things require no answer, no rebuttal, and no response at all.

 

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” –Doug Larson

 

Whatever your occupation, you will become much more successful when you improve your communication skills. But we will never be good communicators until we learn how to listen and decipher what a person is really saying. All too often we only think we understand what is being spoken. One reason for this is that our minds tend to jump forward to what we believe they are saying, or are going to say, based on the first several words or the first few sentences. Multitudes of people either stop listening and/or interrupt the speaker before they’ve had a chance to lay a foundation for what they hope to relate. But the crux of what a person wants to communicate comes towards the END of their discourse—ALWAYS!

Usually people will automatically believe they disagree with what is said by certain people, because they have never really listened to them in the past. Instead of hearing the entire message and then mulling it over, they are forming a rebuttal while the speaker is still talking. They are convinced that the person is disagreeing with them. This reveals just how insecure they are with themselves. People fear being wrong, and they fear looking bad. Some folks are so insecure that they are shattered and feel devastated just because another person might know something they did not yet know, or the other guy had a better idea. Sadly, what people do in an attempt to avoid looking bad, actually has the opposite effect.

One of the ugliest blights upon the earth are people too arrogant to consider an idea that originated outside themselves. To the mature soul, memories of youthful arrogance are a source of stinging embarrassment.

 

I still love the following ancient little rhyme.

“A wise old owl sat in an oak. The more he saw the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard. Now wasn’t that a wise old bird?”

 

Listening well is the first step in becoming a great communicator. It will help us not only in conversation, but it is also the cornerstone of learning to become a great public speaker. Listen and ask for clarification, understand, craft your answer well and then speak. It’s a simple formula that’s been around since before Plato and Socrates, and both of them knew and used this formula as they spoke to huge crowds, as well as in their writings.

 

“Everything in writing begins with language. Language begins with listening.” –Jeanette Winterson

Listening is done with more than just the ears, also employed are the eyes and especially the mind. In fact, good listening is actually PERCEPTION.

“If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk.” –Robert Baden-Powell

 

Notice how the way we feel towards a particular person or how we feel about any particular subject always throws a rusty wrench into the cogs of communicating. Our feelings should never enter into the equation of practicing good communication skills. Our feelings, if allowed, will stymie our understanding every time. If you’ve done much study of human behavior, you know how strong emotion and reason do not play well together. When communicating we want to allow intellect to rule over emotion. Powerful feelings can block a person’s access to higher reasoning and intellect which takes place in the frontal cortex of human brains.

 

“Never allow emotion to hijack what could have been a highly profitable conversation.”–SB

 

Good communication skills are a monolithic topic and there is much we could discuss. But these basics are an essential beginning point. Without them we would be dumber than a bucket full of hollow rocks. We would miss out on many blessings, friendships, and lose access to wisdom we could have made our own. That’s why it is my prayer that this little post will inspire folks to do some research, study, and learn how to become better listeners than we already are.

By the way, Jesus never has to worry about misunderstanding what another person says. He sees directly into every heart and He knows our motives and our every thought.

 

“Even before I have formed a word with my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely!” Psalm 139:4 

 

Blessings

 

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In the Custody of Humans

 

Gracie

Pictured is Gracie

The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. Proverbs 12:10

It is crucial for those who are seeking a pet to understand the commitment that they are making before taking on such an enduring responsibility.

Responsible pet care begins with a commitment that extends throughout the animal’s lifetime. If you are no longer able to provide proper care for your pet, often, putting the animal up for adoption and fully vetting each inquiry, is the best route to take. Abandoning your pet, and or surrendering their life to an Animal Control agency, is both heinous and cruel.

When caring for a pet, in addition to their physical health, we also have their emotional and psychological health to consider—similar to people.

For a moment, set your thinker on the psychological and emotional trauma of children whose parents have died. The damage is even worse when the child is simply unwanted, unloved, and given away. Those scars will endure a lifetime. The same holds true for dogs and cats and many other furry critters we love. They become attached to those whom they’ve grown dependent upon. Most creatures natural inclinations are to form family bonds. You are their family. For a dog, the family is the pack. Cats too, are more comfortable and at ease in a clowder. Groups of feral cats have been jokingly called prides, but that term still seems to stick in certain regions.

A very smart Golden Retriever named Harvey had a people daddy who was known as Ronnie March. The two would spend most of their days and nights together. After their daily, morning jog they would enjoy breakfast together in their dine-in kitchen. Then together, they would travel to Ronnie’s YouTube film set. Most evenings were spent snuggled up on a couch, watching television. The two were inseparable.

When Ronnie was killed in a car crash, Harvey was injured too. His master was gone, and Harvey understood that Ronnie was dead. They’d been together when it happened. Finally, Harvey’s two broken legs and two broken ribs healed. But this faithful golden retriever had other wounds of the heart that were much more severe than his physical injuries. Harvey exhibited such depression that he would refuse to eat, and he moaned and whined incessantly. He was a highly intelligent dog, and expertly street-wise. On the pair’s early morning jogs their normal route had crossed over a busy highway so that they could access a nearby park. During the four months after Ronnie passed, poor Harvey was so heavyhearted that he would go and stand in the middle of that same highway, as if he were attempting suicide. After those four months, Harvey died too. There was no reason found for Harvey’s death, but most people are convinced: He died from a broken heart.

Yet, animals are distinctly different creatures than people are. People were made in the very image of Creator God, and were given by God the responsibility to care for all of the earth and its many denizens.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Animal welfare is the ethical responsibility of ensuring animal well-being.” Animal well-being is the condition in which animals experience good health, are able to effectively cope with their environment, and are able to express a diversity of specie-typical behaviors.”—Dogs Naturally Magazine

It is my belief that animals also need a sense of belonging and lots of love.

Please! If you are having difficulty with offering proper care to your animals, there are lots of us out here who are willing to help. Be kind to animals.

Wait! I’ve heard a number of good people talking about how they love their pets more than they love people. It’s possible I may have said something similar in the past. But we definitely should not harbor, nor feed that attitude. Human life is above animal life, no matter how we may feel. Yes, people are often much more difficult to love, but that in no way negates God’s commands. Truth is never based upon feelings, but upon what God says. Continue to love your pets, but we must learn to love each other too.

There are many great reasons to get an animal companion as most already know, so I’m not going to bother listing them. There are also wrong reasons to obtain an animal, and I want to address just one. My apologies beforehand to my animal loving friends, but for just a moment I need to directly address some rather unscrupulous types.

To those who are involved with dog fighting, for fun, or for money, or for any other reason… Well, let me put it this way: “If I can’t whoop you myself, there’s plenty of others out here who will jump in to help me put you where you belong: Behind bars. Because we feel very strongly about this, and we will no longer tolerate your cruelty.”

To everyone else I say, let’s continue to be kind to animals, love them and especially love one another, just as Jesus commands.

My little Maltese Yorkie “Gracie” has a shirt that says, “I’m not French, I just kiss that way.”

Until next time, blessings, and wet slobbery kisses to you from our furry friends!

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No Toxins Please

At present I am dealing with unexpected difficulties which preclude my studies. My wife is currently in the hospital with a deadly infection and your prayers for her are appreciated. We will continue with the Origin of the Bible series, but for the moment that’s on hold. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Meanwhile, I am posting another piece from my old files, though I had hoped to include more information… Perhaps this will suffice for now.

Detoxification 

Do you ever have sluggish days when you’re tired and feel like you have no energy?  Perhaps you suffer from dry skin? Maybe you swell up and retain fluids? These can serve as warning signs that our blood is full of toxins and/or that we are lacking certain vitamins and other essential nutrients.

Living in the 21st century our bodies will naturally pick up quite a few unnatural substances called “toxins.” This is especially so for those who do not take care to know what is in the foods (or nonfoods) they eat. These toxins weaken our body’s defense system against; diseases, viruses and infections, etc, and they put undue strain on our internal organs. Many of these toxins are carcinogenic. In short, they can really wreak havoc with our health.

That’s why it’s a good idea to detoxify our bodies regularly, using the formula’s God has made available to us throughout the earth’s highly complex biosphere. Here’s some that are easy to obtain.

 

  • Dandelion
  • Red Clover
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Burdock Root
  • Cilantro
  • Ground Ivy
  • Milk Thistle
  • Neem

 

Utilizing natural cleansing agents to aid your liver and kidneys in doing their jobs is a great idea. We know that these two organs filter and clean our blood. When these organs fail, such as suffering impaired renal function for example, we could have helped lift the burden off of these vital organs. Here’s some things that can assist us in doing that very thing. First we’ll list some foods.

 

  • Helpful fruits: lemon, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries, etc…
  • Vegetables that detoxify our blood: garlic, onion, carrot, celery, parsley, alfalfa sprouts, soy, etc…

 

Here’s a few plants which I highly recommend that can be made into detoxing teas.

Aloe—Burdock Root—Hyssop—Ginko Biloba—Elderflower

 

While the health of the physical body remains vital, it is the mind and the heart which requires detoxification most often. These are the parts God looks at. Jesus often pinpoints the heart as the area where sin takes up residence. And He indicates the heart is the most important aspect of our being. It determines who we are and what we are like and represents the core of our being.

God’s word reveals the sinfulness of every human heart. Through the irises of faith, the bible acts as a cleansing tonic, washing away our fallacious thinking while renewing our minds. It leads us to the cure for every spiritual ailment.

The best habit a soul can develop is to meet with the Lord every morning for prayer and bible reading. As we confess our sins of the previous days, our consciences are cleansed, and God forgives us through faith in Jesus—this cleanses our entire being.

Yes, life on planet earth really contaminates us with everything that is toxic to our bodies and spirits. All sorts of dirt crowds into the hothouses of our steamy little minds, and that’s unhealthy. Let’s get cleaned up for the day. God Bless You!

 

 

 

 

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Fear of Weakness

GraciePictured above is my 10 pound Morkie, “Gracie”. She has a very big, courageous & loving heart.

 

Asthenophobia is the fear of weakness, and it is a widespread psychological ailment which causes great harm to those who are affected by its false notions.

Before we proceed, I hope to assure each reader that this is an interim post. We will continue the series on the “Origin of the Bible.” But it is very lengthy, and so I’m offering other stuff (technical term?☺) in between the origin posts.

Wimpy Dogs

It took a few times to work it out, but eventually the realization struck that I was gaining discernment into some people’s psychological and emotional states by how they reacted to various types of dogs. There have been nearly a dozen instances. Like when a man showed disdain for a very small dog that was quivering. He so despised the poor little thing for its weakness, that it became evident something more was in play than simply a preference for more stalwart pets.  People possessing a character opposed to his, usually act in a caring manner—more inclined to protect the helpless little creature, even comfort it.

I supposed correctly that this man has a character flaw, and yet the root from which it thrives is where his psyche’ breaks down. He views weak areas in himself. Anytime he sees someone, even an animal that resembles what he believes to be inside himself—he wants to turn away, and if he cannot do so, he lashes out. He has a deep sense of inadequacy. Unable to love himself, he cannot love something that reminds him of his own weakness, ugliness or flaw. But this is on a subconscious level. The man has no idea that his dislike of things that appear weak stems from his low self-esteem.

There are millions of us out here that tend to automatically dislike such a man, and dismiss him from any future contact. But knowledge always changes our actions. Love changes our responses. God changes the way we interact with the world around us through the wisdom He teaches. Compassion is not only for the weak, but for all, even for those we think do not deserve it. Ah, I believe we’re now talking about mercy, which is grown from love.

Please don’t take this as some sort of formula to psychoanalyze a person. There are several reasons why someone may respond in a similar manner to a tiny dog that trembles at shadows. We have healthy young men who are still trying to convince themselves they are real men. Walking down the sidewalk with a cute, but wimpy little dog is just not masculine. At this stage of their growth they avoid anything that might be construed as feminine. Toy dogs are for sissies, is the mindset. For such a young fellow, under the right circumstances his thinking will be outgrown, unless there comes a fracture in his identity, and then he may become like the first man.

When we begin to understand the difficulties people face on the inside of themselves, we can better perceive what is needed for their hearts to heal. My own response to the same dog was the opposite of that man I spoke of. The furry little ball of cuteness that he hated so much, drew me right to it. I picked him up and spoke softly to him, stroking its downy soft fur. By the way, I believe myself to be excedingly masculine. Mine was similar to a paternal reaction to the dog, because it was afraid, and yes, I began to not like that man at all. But then, the Lord began to show me this stuff, and everything turned around. Instead of disliking the man I began to pity him more than I did the dog. The unfortunate guy was miserable. Some past trauma had robbed him of a deep need of the heart: the ability to like and love himself.

Every good counselor, psychologist or social worker can tell you, “You cannot love others until you can love yourself.” Yes, there’s a lesser type of love we can have if we do not like who we are (by the way, that’s our cue to change). But it’s far from the kind of love God wants to make us capable of employing. When we don’t like ourselves, in every single one of our relationships we will eventually come to a barrier standing in the path of loving as we should.

Consider for a moment Jesus’ words “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” We cannot love our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves. We’re not talking about egotism, or being prideful and arrogant. On the contrary, every soul was created by God, in His own image, and has tremendous value. We were created to love God and to love one another. When we don’t like who we are, we should go to God and ask Him to help us change. As we communicate with God we begin to understand how much He loves us, and that’s a huge boost to our sense of self-worth.

The world is filled with deluded people, not knowing their own worth, and the world perpetuates their fallacious thinking by putting them down ever further. Let’s not be a part of that cycle, creating injured souls. We are to be a part of God’s construction crew, building people up, rather than on the devil’s demolition squad, tearing them down. Be nice. Be loving and kind. Be the light of truth in this dark world where there’s already far too much hatred. It’s not easy sometimes, but that’s why we must also encourage one another as we work towards the time when hate shall be no more.

God Bless You!

With Eternity in View,

Sheldon

 

 

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Love is Powerful

love

The haunting lyrics were first written in 1957 by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and in 1960 The Everly Brothers recorded the song LOVE HURTS. It was included on their album titled A Date with the Everly Brothers.

A year later Roy Orbison remade the song with his distinct and endearing sounds, bringing it up to the top five on the Australian Single Play. Then in 1975 the heavy metal band Nazareth re-popularized Love Hurts, moaning words that expound the hazards a heart in love may encounter.

Love hurts—Love scars—Love wounds and marks—Any heart not tough or strong enough to take a lot of pain…

Country artist Emmy Lou Harris also included it in her repertoire. The song has always resonated with us because most everyone has at one time or another experienced the pain that love has the capacity to inflict.

This leads us to one irrefutable truth concerning LOVE:  It wields tremendous power—to heal or to hurt. To sway or to bring us in line. To kill or to save. And it possesses many different dynamics as well, as other songs elucidate, like The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News.

While most folks equate the facts of these songs only with romantic type love, it is also true of all kinds of love, such as paternal, brotherly and social love. Who would be foolish enough to argue that the love of a mother is not scary powerful? The nature of paternal love can quickly become a protective juggernaut not to be taken lightly. Motherly Protection 

But there is nothing, and I mean nothing that can measure the lengths a Father’s Love will go to in protecting his children.

You and I have a Heavenly Father who feels more strongly for us that any human parent is capable. Imagine that every soul who has ever lived is your child! Oh, how many have turned their backs and rebelled against Father God? A rebellious child always brings an indescribable heartache to their parents. What about when one of our children is struck by a car and killed, or is diagnosed with cancer? Sent to prison? What if someone were to deliberately injure our child?—just think of the strong feelings it would produce in us, and then multiply it by several billion. But even that wouldn’t come close to revealing the power of God’s awesome love.

God’s love is pure and much higher than ours, and likewise the pain that His love produces in His own heart is greater than anything we could possibly fathom. It was this same paternal love that caused Father God to send His only begotten Son to die in our behalf—so that His created children could be saved. The Author of Life willingly gave His life to save ours. Jesus said,

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

And then He stretched out His hands to be nailed to a cross beam and brutally suffered a horrendous death. He had the power to stop it—He could have wiped us all out and started over with just a single word from His lips. But the power of His love held Him up there to endure it all. Besides, He knew He would rise again and usher in a way for you and I to live forever with our heavenly Parent in His new world, a glorious place with mansions for each of us along a street of gold.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV

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Creating Community

canal

During my bicycle commute to downtown Indianapolis I have time to reflect on the things God teaches us. The thoughts He brought to mind were of a good life and the importance of being good neighbors who care about making the place they live the safest, most vibrant and economically healthy Community possible. It always begins with a sense of camaraderie and working together. In a word it is unity. This was a lesson the Lord was teaching during that peaceful respite from my labors.

bike

White River State Park is about a mile from our Indianapolis home; I cross over the river itself, which is a tributary to the Wabash River, and stretches for 362 miles. I pause often on the bridge to bask in the beauty of its verdant waterway. The park, too, is a delight. Riding a bicycle enables me to experience the outdoors and the people as I pass through it on my way to do business downtown. Along the canal winding through the park, puppies frolic and excited dogs tug on their leashes, as children laugh. And even the joggers smile.  Ducks eye you closely for any sign of a bread bag while the squirrels display their acrobatic prowess in the surrounding trees. When people are there, they are at their friendliest. By your fifth greeting or so, you are caught up in the vortex of souls longing for community—community unity demanding to remain intact. It’s an assuring feeling to know your neighbors hope for the same kind of world that you do.

There are some things that every descent citizen hopes for: things such as world peace, old fashioned hospitality and charity, safety, prosperity, community mindedness. The need for togetherness is evident, in order to build such a home. How do we achieve the utopian lives we envision for ourselves?

museum

Nearly two thousand years ago God’s Son became a man. He taught and demonstrated the singular path to the kind of life for which every sane soul longs. His name is Jesus.

What is the first step towards the abundant life Jesus came to give us? If a soul is to manifest the dynamic of God’s Spirit indwelling them, where would they begin, and how? Assuming a person has placed their faith in Christ and is saved, they must possess particular knowledge if they are to learn God’s truths and mature in that faith. Most important is belief in who God is, and what He is like. This is the foundation of theology and of biblical Christianity.

Our worship leaders at West Park church in Indianapolis have made a habit of proclaiming one of God’s glorious attributes at the beginning of each service. We hear it often and in many congregations around the world. It began as “God is good!” And the congregation responds with “All the time!” That is the primary belief we must have if we are to trust Him with our lives. Is this simply a slogan, or a platitude to make us feel spiritual? Often I feel we do not dwell upon the depth of meaning those words carry. It’s a hazard any time we over use any statement. I like the fact that our congregation changes it up to include many of God’s other attributes. “God is faithful all the time,” or “God is love all the time.” God is all-knowing, almighty and holy all the time. The list goes on and on.

meerkats

It jolted me when the Lord brought the words, “God is good” to mind during a moment of my weakness. A decision was required of me to either speak out to vindicate myself against a false accusation, or heed the Spirit’s instruction to remain silent. My reputation and honor were at stake.

Thankfully, in this instance, I did the right thing and kept my flapper shut. But in order to do so, I had to trust that God is good and faithful. For obedience to occur it is absolutely essential that we are fully convinced of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. The Lord did vindicate me! And the truth came out in a way that had everyone involved hugging each other with joyful tears of Christian love and unity. It was a beautiful moment—one that is cherished.  God’s power was released into that situation because I believed and then acted upon that belief. I’m convinced that taking the matter into my own hands would have precipitated hard feelings on both sides, along with pain and deep regret.

Then, I realized that every temptation at its root was the same temptation. It’s what the enemy suggested to Eve in the garden. Satan tried to get her to doubt God’s goodness and His faithfulness. Will He act for my best interest? He will if He is faithful. The question is, can we trust God in every area of our lives and be obedient to Him all the time, especially when we don’t understand His reasoning? Is He good and faithful all the time as we say? Do we believe that he will satisfy us when we release the things He tells us to let go of? Will I be happy if I obey? Will all of my needs be met? If God is faithful the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

The clearer God’s revelations of Himself become to us the greater our power will be to enter into that life of work that brings rest and peace. We find ourselves possessing joy and finding deep fulfillment. The hope received offers a view of holiness upon which to focus, as love permeates and motivates our works, our words, and our lives together. I pray that you too are a member of this heavenly community that is forming down here regardless of the dirtiness and ugliness in the world, and amidst hardship and pain. The kingdom of God is in you and me, and you and you and you who are in Christ.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.—Jesus    (John 13:35 NLT)

You and I have a great responsibility to reflect the righteousness of Christ to the world through the lives we live, and in the love we share. After all, our community is actually a kingdom. Soon, you and I shall reign with our glorious King, Christ Jesus, and we too shall shine with glory as priests and kings. This world is rough, but a Christian is tough. And it’s more than worth the short lived suffering we may face. Paul declares in Romans 8, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not even worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Come and be one of those who have overcome the world through faith in Christ and through the word of your testimony— and we’ll do it in love.  

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They Say Nay Nay

say

“You’ll never amount to anything.” That’s what Mrs. Robinson, my sixth grade math teacher told me. Thankfully, I rejected her hasty assessment of my potential. That “F” stood out on my report card like a rebel flag at a civil rights march back then in the sixties. Math was my worst subject, until I determined to learn it on my own at the library, and learn it I did. But that was not to be the only time I’d hear demeaning and destructive words. I was told, “You are worthless.” And, “You will never succeed at anything.”

 

nay

When a child hears these types of statements, before long they start believing them. Mark was a camper at a youth facility in Lake Aurora Florida where I served as a counselor and was learning a few skills I’d need later on as a minister. At thirteen he’d given up on himself after being programmed to believe the naysayers. I praise God for giving me the words he needed to hear. He had said, “I just don’t have what it takes.”

It took some time. But after a lot of loving positivity, and having people around who believed in him, Mark grew into a confident and productive man. Breaking out as an artist in screen printing, he now has two thriving businesses and has written several books, one of which hit the top ten list. And that man can weave a sermon together like a beautiful tapestry.

 

“Never allow someone who has given up on their dreams talk you out of yours.”

 

It takes a special kind of ignorance to tear a person down with words. When it’s a teacher they could be speaking from frustration, because they were not capable of conveying the information to others. But in all fairness, let’s try to delineate their problem. I’m not one for assigning labels to people, and yet some turn into verbose demolition specialists; I call them psychologically deficient naysayers. Someone has hurt them in a similar way, and so they perpetuate the problem. We’ve all met someone like that at one time or another. Maybe they were a relative, a church leader, or our boss, perhaps. Understand that those pitiful people have a false idea about themselves. Consider their feelings of insignificance—most of them believe themselves to be failures in life. To compensate for their “less-than” estimation, they seek out others to tear down, verbally assassinating people’s sense of self-worth.

 

But thank God for His words of truth!

 

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Cor. 9:8

 

I like the adage that says, “God don’t make junk.” The Lord does not create worthless people; everyone is significant in His plan. Oh yes, some people are more gifted than others and are lifted up into the lime light. There are souls who have made tremendous contributions to the world. This is their time to shine.

But one day there’s going to be a whole lot of unsung heroes—little guys who are going to shine brighter than those who seek glory in this life on planet earth. Yes, the tables will turn. The world’s unknown humble servants will receive greater rewards and higher positions in eternity than the famous and affluent stars of today. Most of our high profile do-gooders receive the bulk of their rewards during this life below. Just think, if a soul seeks accolades from the world, they are considered by God to have already received payment in full for all the good things they have done.

 

Jesus talked about this several times, such as in Matthew 6:1-6. The first verse reads, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Matthew 6:1

 

Another time Jesus said, “Many who are the least now will be the greatest then. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.Matthew 19:30

 

BUT WAIT, there’s more good news for the seemingly insignificant people of the kingdom of God. You see, God uses you in ways you may never detect until eternity. For all you know you may have saved a stranger’s life simply by smiling at them or treating them with respect. If you’re a Christian there are times of which you are not aware, when God has used you in the fulfillment His plan. And what about all of the people you have prayed for? Done them a good turn? Spoke a bible verse to them?

 

Our job is to put our heads down into the work, rather than strutting around with chin in air and a swelled up chest demanding recognition. Trust God. If you’re not receiving the recognition you deserve, you are far more blessed than the big heads.

 

WAIT FOR IT, because there’s even more good news.

 

God has also promised to give us the desires of our heart when we take delight in the Lord. He promises blessings to us in every way and will grant us favor among the right people. All of this is, of course, contingent upon fulfilling the requirements He sets forth in order to have His favor rest upon us. The bible is clear on these areas: Do whatever the command is and you will receive such and such: current rewards. There are certain things we are not to do, and our obedience brings rewards in this life as well as in eternity. Do not do what we are commanded to do (love your neighbor, for example) and you may have to lose what you already have at present.

Every man’s work will be tried by fire. (See 1st Corinthians 3:11-15)

I happen to love words, syntax and plot twists a lot more than I do crunching numbers, so math was never meant to be my thing. I receive a good deal of pleasure and fulfillment by encouraging others and teaching bible. I love to inspire and to edify. So, here’s a question I hope everyone will consider often, as we live by faith in Jesus.

 

What significance do the things I accomplish on earth have in eternity?

 

If it has importance only in this life below, it’s not very important at all. If I am an important person only during my life on earth, I’m of no real significance. But If we are in Christ, and our hearts are set on Him, He will cause us to become fruitful, productive and of everlasting value. You are an important part of God’s eternal plan.

When they say “nay-nay,” just smile, and think of eternity. And then prove them wrong.

 

 

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Christina Grimmie

grimmie

There are already enough articles online that give all the particulars of this saddening event. This is not the time for that: for going back over the grisly details. We are not going to mention her killer, except for the fact that he was a stalker. And that afterwards he turned the gun on himself, and he, too, is now gone. We will never in this life have the opportunity to ask him “WHY?!”

It was June 10th 2016 when a million hearts were shattered as a young star was shot and killed after a performance at The Plaza Live in Orlando Florida. A blazing star soaring ever higher, Christina Grimmie was just beginning what looked to be a very promising singing career. On season six of The Voice she came in third place. Who could ever forget her mesmerizing performances and the way she could bring a smile to our hearts? Beautiful, sweet and innocent with the face and voice of an angel—such a waste. Maybe.

Christina was not just another pretty face and voice who was certain to do great things in the entertainment industry. She was also one of ours, a sister in the Lord Jesus. Perhaps God had a spot to fill in His heavenly choir that had been prepared just for her? But one thing is certain; all of us who are in Christ will one day see Christina again. With Jesus we have a hope that can never be dashed against the jagged rocks of disappointment.

But for today we grieve, we mourn, though not without hope as the world does. So let’s take a few moments to honor Christina Grimmie—a life cut short before she had a chance to show us what came next. We can only imagine.

But we remember…

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In case you missed this episode of 48 Hours detailing the horrors of having a stalker, which includes a segment on Christina Grimmie, as of this moment it is still available. See the link below. Please offer your thoughts on how our current stalking laws could be improved. Thank You.

48 Hours Episode

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Party Time

praise

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is lauded as a celebration that stands above all others. The fervor with which preparations are made and the energy that is put into such wanton partying certainly nears being unrivaled. But since when does drunkenness, debauchery, or simply an excuse to cast modesty to the wind deserve such acclaim?

 

Yes there are religious observances that are wed with this festival, both Christian as well as those enamored with various cults and Satanism. Christ does not hold hands with the devil, and neither do his servants. A true Christian is set apart as holy unto God and does not mingle with blatantly evil revelry.

 

It’s not that Christians do not party—they do, only their celebrations look much different than what is done throughout this heathen celebration.

 

In Christ Jesus is found the apex of joy and unsurpassable satiation of the heart, of the soul and spirit. The entire being: from the physical body, to the mind, and into the spirit washes satisfaction—a saturation of contentment flowing from God’s throne.

 

Rife with all good things, Christian celebrations always burst forth with praises, singing, shouting and dancing in joyous revelry in response to the richness of the abundant and eternal life our Savior affords. And as with most festive occasions there’s usually a lot of good food involved.

 

Magnify the mighty name of Jesus! Let His deeds be known!

 

Recount the blessings from His hands, and go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Such good news of God’s amazing grace is cause for His acclaim, His glory, and for our celebration of the Lord’s exalted position.

 

Free yourself to celebrate the gift of salvation, and shout your faith from the rooftops. Let us parade down the streets with signs extolling our God’s holy virtues, His love and provision of every good and perfect gift.

 

Cause the Father of lights to rise and clap. Bring a smile to the face of Almighty God by celebrating His wisdom, His justice—His holiness and purity.

 

Let’s lift our voices to sing songs of thanks and praise. Let’s do so in the public arena, in our homes and schools, and in our government buildings. Nowhere is God absent, and there’s no place that His presence does not fill. For this reason all places are right places to acknowledge and proclaim His goodness.

 

I just want to celebrate! (As a teenager that was one of my favorite songs by the group Rare Earth.)  Never has that been truer for me than it is today, as I ruminate upon our glorious God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let’s toast to His love, as we perpetuate that same love around the world.

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Introducing God

It’s an astonishing, yet elating discovery: God in all His glory and holiness is intimately interested in having a relationship with every one of His children.

I was fortunate enough to know a fair bit about God before actually meeting Him. But I had a good deal of fallacious thinking about Him too. We all do.  God overlooks the invariable false understandings people have of Him, at first. Faithfully, He will bring us to a lucid enough understanding where we’ll confidently be able to proclaim, “I know God—I have a personal relationship with Him!”

Many people construe the personal aspect of a relationship with the Lord to delude themselves into thinking they have a special and unique means of connecting with Him. That’s simply not true. Often we hear people saying things like: “Me and Jesus, we’ve got our own thing going.” It’s even in a song that’s actually sung in worship services. The next clause proclaims, “Me-n-Jesus, we got it all worked out.” They will believe that lie, thinking that each of us has our own formula for coming into the presence of the Most High. God Himself, however, is the one who ordains how we are to approach and make contact with Him, as well as how to unite with Him.

It is only through faith and trust in Jesus, His Son, that we can meet the righteous requirement of entering into His glorious presence. Faith and our submissive dependence on Christ are unwaveringly requisite, that we may be with Him.

Granted, once we unite with God our relationship with Him becomes very personal and there will be very sweet things that only you and He share together. For example, I myself have a pact with God. On His part, I am irrevocably saved, and on my part, I will never surrender to defeat in attempting to be perfectly righteous and sinless in the life I live, as impossible as that may be. As individuals, we may have widely diverse assignments and various paths to walk. One may be ordained to suffer great pain and loss for the cause of Christ, while another may be held up before the world as a powerfully used vessel for propagating the gospel and leading many souls across the threshold of life. The way into that relationship, however, remains a stringently singular path.

Even when time ends and eternity is ushered in, I don’t think anyone will know ALL there is to know about God: He’s simply too big and complex. He does, however, reveal the most important aspects of His being, which are essential to know if we are to interact with Him and become like Him in character. Here’s a good place to start: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

In the stillness of an empty mind, my soul inhaled the merciful goodness of God, as He revealed Himself in response to faith. I was silent before Him. The first towering wave rushed from His throne and washed over me—I found myself imbued with an awareness of His sovereignty over all things, most importantly over me. He is to be exalted, worshipped and praised. And suddenly I was acutely aware that the Lord’s omniscience causes Him to know my thoughts even before I think them. King David noted the same thing: “Before a word is on my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely.Psalm 139:4
The second wave came as what I call a thought-sensation, which this time communicated His pure holiness and righteousness. This, His glory, caused me to tremble in fright, because I am not perfectly holy. Yet within that same wave came the torrent of His love, expressing the merciful grace He had already lavished upon you and me. My quaking limbs were stilled. Fear was replaced with elation and praise! I had humbled myself, and so He lifted me up and gave me His joy and peace! (1 Peter 5:6)

God demands to be recognized as the awesome God He is. The bible indicates that we are to fear God in over one hundred and twenty five verses scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments. This goes far beyond the greatest respect and honor that we would show to someone here on earth. With God we move into reverent worship and awe. Don’t fret, His mighty love casts out our fear, that we may have fellowship with Him, unafraid.

And yet, before we simply sashay up and talk to God, we’d best be aware of who and what we’re talking to. Our lives depend upon it. Often I’ve heard Christians speak of Jesus as if he were simply a bosom buddy, and that is reflected in the lives they live, as well as in their prayers. They don’t seem to realize who it is they are speaking with. I’ll be the first to admit that I was the same way in my Christian infancy. And God winked at my immature view of theology. But I don’t think any of the Apostles looked at their relationship with Christ that way. Sure, He is a friend who will never leave or forsake us. He demonstrated the tender compassion and mercy of God throughout His ministry, until He finally manifested the unrivaled love of the Father by willingly dying a horrible death on the cross, that we might again have a close relationship with our glorious God. But He is still God, and we are but children in His sight, and quite limited in our ability to wrap our heads around His majestic being. But one day we too shall receive glorified bodies.

Jesus is a friend who will never leave or forsake us. The Lord’s tenderness and compassion were clearly demonstrated until His ultimate display of God’s awesome love was manifested on the cross

To have a good relationship with God, and gain His favor and blessings upon our lives, there are some things we must first be aware of. We have to know how we are to approach Him. Let’s list a few facts.

  1. He is Omnipotent, meaning all powerful.
  2. God is Omniscient—He Knows all things, including all possibilities.
  3. Our Heavenly Father is Omnipresent: in all places at the same time.
  4. The Lord is infinite.
  5. God is eternal.
  6. He is Spirit
  7. The Most High is immutable: unchanging.
  8. Our Creator is not bound by the laws of physics, as He is the one who ordained them and did the math that is involved. He can operate outside of the laws He put into motion. If you need examples, do a study on all of Jesus’ miracles and see how each miracle He performed defies a particular law of science. Jesus was revealing that He is indeed the Creator of the cosmos, and: “The Great I Am”.
  9. God created time, and He is outside of the time He created, yet He often works with, and within time. He made it for a purpose.

And all that is just for starters.

Everything the Bible says about God is but half of what we learn once we actually come to know Him. That’s what I’ve been working at for the past forty years, and I still have a long ways to go. No, I’m not slow—He is just that vast and complex. We won’t know Him fully until eternity, and even then I’m not certain we will know ALL about Him. He’s a very big God!

Lately it’s gotten to the point that I even rejoice when God disciplines me. It reminds me of when my son was very young. Whenever he felt he was not getting enough attention, he’d do something to get my attention, like drinking Tabasco sauce from off of the refrigerator door, or pouring a cup of dirt onto the dining room table. It’s having the attention of our Fathers that feels so good. Even negative attention gives us the assurance that someone greater than ourselves loves us, and is in control.

But I’m talking about attention from a HOLY GOD. Many volumes cannot fully convey what holiness actually is, and what it looks like. My next book is on holiness and how it pertains to our sanctification, but about the time I believe I’ve grasped deep spiritual insight to pass along to others, I discover higher, more elevated planes of knowledge. The more I learn the more I discover that I have yet to learn. When we receive a solid vision in our minds of who God is, and what He is, it is simply amazing that He would stoop so low as to be intimate with you and me.

When we come to God’s character, His nature and His complex personality we do not have anything on earth to compare Him to. Let’s continue our previous list.

  1. God is pure holiness. The visible quality of His Shekinah Glory can actually be seen. But then you’d have no retinas left. The brightest, whitest light you’ve ever seen pales in comparison to God’s visual appearance—He dwarfs the sun’s lumens. In fact, the bible teaches that a man cannot see God and live. His holiness would automatically incinerate us—He’s that great.
  2. The Lord Most High sets the perfect standard for righteousness. He is flawless.
  3. God is LOVE!

While this is far from an exhaustive list, each of the above descriptions should be pondered individually if we hope to fully understand the importance of knowing these things about God, before we can actually come to know Him personally.

With that being the case, God reveals Himself to us incrementally. And the further we go with Him the more wondrous and amazing things about Himself He reveals to us.

God is so great that humbling ourselves before Him should be automatic. If we have properly meditated on His properties and virtues then our humility when approaching God should come quite naturally. Just listen to the Beloved Apostle John’s testimony about the time He envisioned our Savior, Christ Jesus in His glorified form. “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” (Revelation 1:17) What does that speak to your heart about the greatness and the glory of our God?

God called Job a righteous man. But look at this righteous man’s response when our Holy God spoke to Him. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” Job 40:4 Then, Job found the boldness to speak just a bit more, which is a good eye opener for us. He said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  By the way, the eyes Job was talking about were the eyes of faith. Hebrews talks about this kind of faith in chapter eleven. I like the part where it reports that Moses “Saw Him who is invisible”. The only way to see the invisible is through the eyes of faith. Believe me when I say, “Along with great faith comes spiritual eyes which demand that we conform to the new didactic and divergent sights. They are highly illuminating vistas. The information the Lord offers us is gained only through a close personal relationship with Christ Jesus. (Yes, He is also our friend, but let’s not forget His exalted position.)

I garnered a good rule of thumb from a High Priest in Israel’s history. Even though Eli failed to restrain his son’s from doing wickedness and desecrating a rite God had established, and was punished for it, He had some words of wisdom to pass along.

When young Samuel heard the Lord calling to Him twice, Eli gave great advice.

 

“So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9

When we come before the throne of God we need to allow Him to be in charge. God will hear our petitions or whatever is on our hearts. He wants to help us with that, but first things first. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” That is complete submission to God, recognizing who He is. Allow the Lord to set the conversation, and when it comes time to speak what you have to say to Him, or questions you hope to ask, you will know.

Okay, my coffee is worn off—time for a fresh pot. Blessings!

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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