A New Years Resolve | When was the Beginning

As I sit this morning recollecting the past year’s journey, I find so many signs and wonders of the Lord’s coming to fruition in my life. I woke and made my Past Year’s post on Facebook. A basic little application offering highlighted posts from the past 365 days. Giving a second to meditate on what had transpired. Scanning through pictures of the last twelve months, it came to me so clearly. I was tired for many good reasons and it dismissed my feelings of regret. I had come from somewhere this past year. I had accomplished so much. But now, I was ready to be reborn. I was ready to be re-enlightened. I was ready to be breathed into with a fresh sense of awareness and hope that the new year will bring promise. I was ready and prepared.

The year 2014 brought much tribulation, stress, and strife. My son who has now separated himself from his mothers waning teet and had in just a year’s time delivered himself into the world as an independent adult. He joined the military, the Army specifically, gained his footing in the world as a soldier and has most recently devoted his life and heart by order of engagement to a young woman. His visit home this season brought the realizations that he is now his own. As I dropped him and his fiancé’ off at her home after dinner, it came to me, I will never tuck my boy into bed, kiss his soft forehead, come to his cry in the middle of the night or tend a new morning yawn again. I realized that this transformation reminded me of his birth when he left my body causing pain and agony. That this too, this delivery from my home, my wing, was just as painful as when he left my womb. Now, he is David, still my son, but a man who steps to his own destiny.

As I began to pray, seeking the Lord for guidance; I summoned him to bring me to an epiphany. I searched the scripture by flapping through pages and landing quietly in Matthew, Chapter 23-26. I had hoped to find a word that would strengthen the vision I had experienced just a week’s time ago while waking abruptly in the wee hours of a morning. There was something about to happen. After this long year of trials and change, building a business, strengthening a daughter who was struggling with teenage tasks and delivering a son into this world, I needed to know that I was still on a path of personal salvation. A way in which I still had purpose and meaning. A hope that there was more joy to have and more work to do.

Matthew:24:21
for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.

As I read through Chapters 23-26, I heard the story of the days, as told by Matthew, before the Passover and the final deliberations that Jesus gave to us to consider before his death and resurrection. I related to the words given to the scribes, the Pharisees, as he called them hypocrites. I knew as I prepare for a new year that He, the Almighty, was speaking to me while he works me toward my purposes. Recently I had portrayed my anger and frustrations towards the world’s churches during fellowship with my dad. I told him that I felt church leaders only fall away the feet of those searching for the Grace of God! That they lead them into despair with no hope. Keeping from them the good news and leaving them to think that they receive forgiveness by their own flesh and doings, and not simply by the grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father! I physically heat up in emotional thoughts when I think about the Priests sending down judgment upon the heads of the believers only for their own name sake to cause strife and worry in the church. How the bride is being raped of her gold with wicked tongues of fake promises and riches of the world. How religions cause the eyes of the weak to fix their gaze upon everything that is not right in themselves so as to cause them to fall into a coma of self-doubt and consistent shame. These are the idols of the people. The monarchy that will fall. For any one of us who lead, must lead the hearts and eyes to simply look at their Father as he will do the rest in their confirmed and freely given salvation!

As I read on I noticed the verse I mentioned above. In relation to the deliberations that Christ spoke, He reminds us to constantly prepare for the end days. He tells us to be constantly ready or to have readiness as the disciples asked him what the signs would be that he was coming.  He tells us to be weary of false prophet, when nation rises against nation. He speaks of the time when many will fall away and hate one another. That these times of tribulations, (meaning a time distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution; also : a trying experience) would be the signs that he is coming. And that the time in the beginning, the time when Adam ate of the Tokogae, (Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), was the time that the tribulation began.

As I ponder on where my journey will take me, I know that there will be many times of stress and strife, of tribulation. It is in these times I know he is coming, he is working for my good, bringing me salvation and rest. There are many things in which we are to fear in these times, but we are not to fear the tribulation as it is a sign, a wonder that the Lord Jesus Christ has not forsaken us! It a sign that he is coming to claim his bride! He, the One, says prepare yourselves as the virgins prepare for the wedding feast. Be prepared to sit in the dark and wait upon the bridegroom and have your oil flask to refill your lamp when it is time to burn the light. Meaning, keep your spirit prepared for him. Keep your light shining for others to see! And do not give in to the eyes of the flesh that become heavy and you sleep whilst you are to be guarding  your soul. Stay vigilant in prayer and seeking Him.

My Father in heaven comes for me and I am ready. Ready to do whatever the will be of the Lord. In the hopes that I will continue to let Christ’s light shine through me so that others can see what He has made!

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After Holiday Downs | 5 Steps to Existing Ordinarily

So, it’s all over. The Holiday Hustle has finally rolled to a thunderous stop. So, what do you do now? Through the horrendous holiday hustle that is thrust upon society by Economy, Media and even Family and Friends, it is easy to forget that ordinary life should be taken quite simply. I have found in my older years that I refuse the idea of allowing this time of year to be any different than any other normal ordinary day. By getting swept up in all the emotion and stress that a real good traditional holiday can bring can really throw one on and right off a major roller-coaster ride. After the ride it is easy to find yourself spinning with confusion and a feeling of lost emotional sensation.

During the first few months of every New Year the populace of dieters and new aerobic, yoga and exercise fanatics are pushing out the walls of public gyms. The new found faithful are filling church pews on Sundays looking for energy and revitalization. The streets bustle with job seekers determined to have a new way of life and make this the best year ever… and Retailers are looking for the next big hype in Marketing and Advertising. Each individual as well as entity is on a mission to conquer the last year. Their drive comes from this insidious idea that a person only gets a few chances in a lifetime to turn their destiny, change their path or govern chance. Living with that notion can really drive a person to ultimate sadness.

Early January tends to be a tremendously grim time of year for a lot of people. Actually, statistics show that just a few weeks into a New Year, some have already started skipping days on their New Years Resolutions. So many things seem to become bleak as the winter weathers strains the body, holidays strain the wallets and the extra travel and winter storms strain our homes and vehicles… It seems by mid-January, most folks are broke, stifled, exhausted, and completely drained. Some suffer from that inevitable cold that never seems to go away and for others with lower immune systems, end up passing into the after life, leaving families to mourn loss on top of New Year stress factors.

But, there is a way to get through the Winter Blues. As a matter of fact, there is a way to get through those blues at anytime of year, but it takes practice and lots of it. For some, it’s harder than for others. But, if you take time everyday to remember these five things, it will put things in perspective and make dealing with life just a little easier.

#1 Each Day is a New Day

Some have forgotten that with each new sunrise, it is a new day. God promises us that we are renewed each and every day! Which means, that with every day, you get a chance to renew your thinking, your way of life, drop old habits and build new goals and dreams. Don’t wait for the date to start your goals, start them today! This type of thinking can offer hope and newness to every experience you go through.

#2 Failing Brings Growth

It wasn’t on the day you were born that you walked. Nor was it the second or third! As with any young-ling, you had to learn over time how walk just a few steps. And you probably fell down many times before you got the hang of it. With that being said, appreciate the times you try to do something and fail. Use the experiences to learn and to teach others, be encouraged because now you will how to do things better the next time. Also, never expect different results from doing the same action twice and remember that there is always a second chance, so try, try again!

#3 Be Honest With Yourself

Take the time each day to evaluate what it is that you have set your mind to and focus on what its going to take to get there. If it is a big goal then break it down into a whole bunch of small step goals in order to achieve the big one! In other words, don’t shoot for the stars without a rocket. It is a great man who knows what he is up against and builds his army accordingly.  If you are a 55 year old man who has always wanted to be an astronaut, you might not be realistic if you wake up one morning and decide to set that goal… First decide on what you want to do, then decide if its obtainable for you. Once you have established your not setting yourself up for failure you can move on to setting goals.

#4 Take it One Step at a Time

Be honest now… How many times have you set yourself up with a resolution only to find yourself at the end of another year setting the same goal? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us! Find a way to set yourself small step goals each day, week or month and then you will see some achievement. By setting small step goals and taking one step at a time it will be easier to obtain your goals and move on to success. If you simply say I am going to lose 30 lbs this year, you are setting yourself up to look for a 30 lbs loss which may take a long time. But, if you say, I am going to lose 5 lbs this month, you will be encouraged when you see a minor change in your weight! You will not suffer from the inadequacies that we tend to put on ourselves when we don’t see progress. These types of failing feelings can ultimately stop us from reaching our final goal.

#5 Live Everyday on Holiday

It is not just once or twice a year that we should enjoy our families, appreciate our wellness or spring for that perfect gift. Think of the good times we enjoy during the holiday seasons and work on making every day just as special. It shouldn’t take fuzzy warm commercials to remind you that time with your friends and family is beneficial to your life. Reach out and touch the people around you each day. Show that you are glad they are around you and you wouldn’t have any other way. Don’t let the Holiday Season be the time you “make up for loss time”.

Reflect on the simple beautiful things in your life everyday and you will live a happier life. It doesn’t have to be difficult to see. Appreciate every day as a new chance to breathe differently, live differently and feel differently. Make the choice to be glad and you will be. Change your daily perspective and you’ll see a whole new way of looking at life.

Wishes are for Wells | Faith vs. Hope

It’s been said that Hope is what keeps man alive. It is the very bottom of our beings that allows us to take that next step when striving to make our dreams come true. Hope can make or break your inner being. It can solidify the very reason you got out of bed this morning, or dash the very thought of ever stepping outside again. Everyone needs hope, but the one thing they need more is faith.

I have found myself in the past few years trying to determine whether I was living by Faith or by Hope. Sometimes it is very hard to tell the difference. Especially if you do not have a true understanding of where your faith lies. The most extreme days of depression can easily be categorized as those times you lost hope by those who do not live by faith. And they will tell you! “Don’t lose Hope!” What does that really mean?

The term “Hope” is defined as an emotion or a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. If you break that down, you find the word “expectation”. Having an expectation simply means you have already defined to yourself what would be good, or what would cause good things to happen. We all have daily expectations in our lives. We expect that our alarm will wake us up on time, we expect our loved ones will kiss us goodbye on our way to work, we expect the car’s engine will start when we turn the key… But do we base our daily mood on these expectations? I certainly should hope not, otherwise we would all be basket cases! Depending on our expectations of what we have defined as our realities. Although, this statement brings great definitive when we see that the state of our minds quickly change when the car doesn’t start!

You also see the word “desire”; a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. Wishes are for wells. Huge holes that fall in the ground. A space of darkness and emptiness. When a child asks for a candy bar and the parent says no, usually the first wine is “But I WANT it!” My answer to that was always done by singing the line… “You can’t always get what you want” But, Yes, through Faith… you find sometimes, you get what you need.

In the scriptures of the bible, you will see time and time again where we are told as believers to live by Faith and Faith alone. Does this mean there is no Hope? Or does it redefine the standard of living we have? Does it separate the State of Emotion from the State of LIVING. Do we not as believers drink of the Living Waters? Do they not quench our thirst when we are in dire need of spiritual hydration? So who are we to pick and choose when we drink? So, do we pray each time we turn the key? (Well, in some cases I find myself doing this) But no, typically we don’t. So what does it mean to live by Faith and Faith alone?

The definition of Faith is; to demonstrate complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Notice there is no expectation. No desire. Just TRUST and CONFIDENCE. There is no pre-defined situation or something that could disappoint once the solution has arrived. The closure is up to the “Someone or Something” and no one has a tendency to demonstrate negative trust or confidence. So, simply stated it would be impossible to be negative about a situation, a decision, or a matter when you are simply TRUSTING and CONFIDENT that it will work out.

God said in ALL things he will make Good. He didn’t say that he would work things out to meet your expectations. If I had a dime for every time things worked out the way I wanted them to I would be extremely poor! As a matter of fact, I can’t think of one thing that worked out in a positive way that I had complete control over. Like most people in this world I have a tendency to over analyze, over think, over do and blow out of proportion most of my decisions. It is Human Nature that we find ourselves being self destructive.

So, with all of that being said. Today has been a tough day. I woke up with bills over my head I cannot pay. Situations that won’t lend a break are weighing heavily on my mind. And I just can’t seem to find joy in my every day tasks because I am trying to find a way to find Hope in my situation. As I am talking with a friend, I hear him say… “Keep the Faith, things will work out” It dawned on me! I have been trying to find Hope in a Hopeless Situation! I have been trying to build an expectation for my reality! I have been trying to define “HOW” it’s going to work out! God says, “Be still and Know Me” A true believer who walks with God cannot see past his own nose because he is too busy looking at the Father. The Beginning, The End. We have no need for Hope because there is nothing to hope for! He is the way, the truth and the light. And only through Him do we see the path to righteousness. Amen? He will work out the things in my life the way they are to be worked out. He knows of my striving, he knows of my heartache. He would never let me fall or be broken for the sake of my enemies or for anything of this world because I am His and He is Mine.

So the next time, you find yourself encouraging a friend. Be sure to encourage their FAITH and not their HOPE. Faith will last and make them strong. Hope will simply blind them, depress them and detour their thoughts of our Heavenly Father and all the wonderful things that He has in store for them! Thank you to my very good friend and brother in Christ, Curtis Hildebrand, for helping me understand why I was struggling. You are treasured in the Kingdom of Heaven and offer great encouragement to the saints around you. May you be blessed.