Carry On ‘Til Tomorrow…

“In the confrontation between the Stream and the Rock, the Stream ALWAYS Wins… Not through strength, but through Persistence.” -H. Jackson Brown Jr.

In this frenzied world, I often get the impression most of us wish life was effortless. If only we could accomplish all our dreams. Without problems, barriers and disappointment. Really? Think how boring that would be.

Persevere

Making it through all the problems and barriers thrown at us while persevering, fortifies us with a deep sense of accomplishment. At the same time, it builds our character, and prepares us for more barriers and tough times.

So, the next time you are overwhelmed with trouble or hard times, be thankful, and know that you are getting stronger!

Think of how our bodies were created to deal with stress and injury. The first time you grab a shovel and head to the backyard for some Gardening. Typically, what happens? Blisters! Just saying the word brings pain. You work hard all day long to provide some food or beauty, and what’s the result? Your hands and knees are covered in those bubbles just under your skin. If one pops, you know the pain that follows. In addition to the blisters, the muscle throughout your body feels like you just finished a game of Football, and you were the Football.
Why?

You’ve changed your routine and started using your hands and body for physical labor. Your body is simply protecting you from doing major damage. While your blisters and muscle slow you down for healing, your body is recreating itself to endure your new activities in the Garden. God didn’t promise that there would never be pain. Instead, God designed our bodies to become what we need them to be, to handle the task at hand. The circumstances of our lives are no different. Sure, there are times when we feel like we can’t take one more step; that there is no clear path to a good ending. Like the blisters, it hurts. Sometimes the pain feels unbearable.

God knows your pain. Like any loving Father, He would do anything to eliminate your agony. Akin to how our body uses pain to slow us down while it recreates stronger, more resilient, skin and muscle. So too has God created us to become stronger and more resistant through tough times.

Story after story in the Bible depicts how the weakest were favored, blessed and honed by God. Often through extreme trials. At the end, all were given everything they needed to persevere.

Reading the plight of the Israelites during their four hundred, thirty years as slaves to the Egyptians. I oft wondered, how could that be? After all these were Gods Chosen People. Imagine, an entire culture enslaved as “sub-human”, manual labors for over four hundred years. Every dirty, sweaty, job too lowly for the oppressors, forced on the Israelites. Was God punishing them?

Understanding how God created our bodies to get stronger in adversity, it follows that the same regeneration was happening to the Israelites. After over four hundred years of toil and hard work, what shape do you think the Israelites were in? I’m confident that they weren’t starving, as that would not serve their master’s needs. Four hundred years of getting stronger every day, physically and spiritually. Is it no wonder that they became conquerors? Just as God will provide What you need, When you need it, He refined the Israelites, body and soul for the mission ahead. The vision of scraggly, starving slaves just doesn’t seem to fit God’s purpose for His people.

We all have those times when we are overwhelmed with trouble or hard times. Experience has taught me, that it is at those times, God is making me stronger and more resilient. Physically and spiritually. Sometimes I need new tools to move on, other times I just need to slow down. Whatever the need, I know God has a plan, and will provide all that is needed. When trouble comes, be thankful, not fretful. God is making you better.

Have faith in God; listening for His still, quiet voice for direction, and Persevere!


“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1:4


“Carry On” by Badfinger
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Choices

Choice

Just like the ecstatic, proverbial, “Kid in a Candy Store”, aren’t our lives simply one choice after another?

We’ve all been there… Amid everything we have, or do in life, what are the right choices? Deep inside, we know, the right and wrong choices. A good friend always said, “There’s Two things you can do in this life, the Right thing and the Wrong thing. No one wants to do the Wrong thing. Right?”

Still, we oft make the wrong choice. Even when we know, we’ll regret certain decisions. Like the kid in the Candy Store, we eat our hearts content, only to spend the night in bed with a severe stomach ache. What were we thinking!

How is it that we know before we make a choice that it’s not a good step? Where does that quiet whisper come from? Some would say it’s intuition. Others will mention their “Gut Feeling”, a “Conscience” or “Third Sense”. Through all my bad, and good decisions, I’ve come to know the almost inaudible prodding, as the still, loving voice of God.

Most of my time on Saturday mornings growing up were spent watching Cartoons. Not the slick toy advertisements that propagate kid’s TV today, but the classics, like Looney Tunes and Popeye. While parents today would be appalled with the physical violence and seemingly cultural in-sensitivities, most of those early cartoons carried some robust moral teachings. Regularly, when faced with the Right/Wrong dilemma, a devil and an angel would appear on the characters shoulders whispering into alternate ears. Isn’t that kind of how it seems? When facing a tough choice, you are pulled in two directions that somehow you know to be Right and Wrong. Why do we choose the wrong thing so regularly?

In my experience it seems that most of my bad decisions come from “overthinking”. Instead of turning to God in prayer, I dwell on the decision, weighing ALL the potential outcomes. Like I really know what’s going to happen. If that were the case, the choice would be simple. Right?

Choice is a Gift from God. The core of who we are, is the totality of the choices that we have made in life. God has a plan for your life. Your steps were ordered since before you were born.

With that in mind, it seems to follow that the Still, Quiet Voice of God is pulling us toward those divine steps. Experience has taught me that following a path I know to be wrong, will not end well. Like the kid in the Candy Store reeling with pain.

Throughout my life, when my stubbornness prevails, and I work to force one wrong, albeit well thought out, decision after another. Inevitably, the pain of those bad decisions and the tough lessons learned, point me to the right path.

What was I thinking?
This Is the Way, Walk In It!


“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” -Isaiah 30:21


“God-Trying-to-Get-Your-Attention” by Keb’ Mo’ -Enjoy!
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Fear? NOT!

“Knowledge Is Power”…            Right?

In my life, Faith has provided more “Power” than knowledge. Not only in the spiritual sense. Faith in things unknown, or unseen, can move mountains.

For example, the Farmers of the World have Faith in abundance. While there are multitudes of farmers that are devoutly spiritual in their quest for righteousness and eternal life; not all are spiritual nor religious. Farming, as an occupation, requires extreme faith. Sure, agricultural science and knowledge are imperative to increase harvest, and streamline efficiencies. However, every day, the world’s Farmers wake up with an unshakable faith that the rain will come, and the sun will shine. All the “Knowledge” in the world will not ensure sunshine nor rain.

One of the greatest, and oldest, stories about the quest for Power through knowledge is Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Tempting Eve with equal Power to God, the serpent conned Eve into believing she could gain absolute power through knowledge; and it seems that the scam lingers today. So often, academic bigotry sets the tone for how humans treat one another.

A key consequence of knowledge, is Fear. That’s right. Fear.

FearNot

Would you be as afraid to climb out on a limb if you had no concept of Gravity, and what might happen if the branch snapped? Isn’t it really the “Knowledge” of what could happen, that drives our fears?

We have two wonderful Dogs. My “Princess”, that can do no wrong, is a tall, short-haired Border Collie mix. My wife’s dog is a a Terrier, Dachshund mix; that we lovingly call “Tank”, as she’s thick and solid as a rock. Both dogs are best friends, and being the same age, a lot like sisters. My Princess is noticeably smart. She understands a lot of words and has been known to answer questions by shaking her head yes, or no. On the other hand, “Tank”, is either too stubborn to let on that she’s smart, or she just isn’t. We’re not sure.

My Princess understands what happens when things fall and that she can get hurt if she doesn’t pay attention. Tank, doesn’t care. With all that Knowledge, my Princess lives in constant fear and is vigilant of her surroundings; jumping and running at the first sign of perceived danger. Tank, doesn’t care. Instead, Tank lives a blissful life and fears nothing.

Just like Adam and Eve, the first response my Princess has with all her knowledge, is fear.

God loved Adam and Eve so much that He didn’t want them confronted with the fear that knowledge brings. By telling them to not eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, wasn’t He protecting them from constant fear? Well, you know the rest of the story.


“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” -1 John 4:18-19


Exercise and growth of your faith in God, will lead you back to the Garden; and the bliss that complete faith brings.

As the World continues to profess it’s, “Knowledge is Power” scam; take a lesson from our Tank, don’t let Knowledge of the World, Build Fear in you.


“Face Your Fears” by Ben Sidran
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Guard Your Heart!

Roses, Chocolate & Love?

As we get ready for what my Son calls “Another Hallmark Holiday.”, Hearts have been on my mind lately. Go figure…

Guard Your Heart-2

Like many words; Heart can mean so many different things. A physical Heart keeps the human body alive, and in rhythm. “The Heart of the matter” is a description we all use for getting to the essential fundamentals. While putting your Heart into something, demonstrates extreme commitment.

Clearly, at the Heart of most of these definitions, is that “intangible” Heart; the core of who we are.

We can all feel it. Sometimes it manifests as our “gut feeling”. Other times, as our “conscience” or “intuition”. Aren’t our definitions of the non-physical Heart, and our Soul, wholly interchangeable?

So many times, our Heart is in Direct Conflict with our Head. We think we know What we should do, but our Heart challenges our Brain. Which way do you lean when it’s Decision Time?

Popular Culture would tell you to Always follow your Brain. After all, knowledge is power, and humankind wouldn’t be where it is today without the Brain. Right?

Heart vs. Brain always reminds me of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. The Sci-Fi embodiment of Heart against Brain. Was Kirk the fool for always following his Heart?

What of all the commitment, bravery and resilience of those that have gone before us? Did they rely on their Brains?

If there is one part of us that is truly connected to all things, isn’t it what we call our Heart, or Soul?

The Power of the Heart, is not just as a receptacle. The Heart is how we connect and communicate with all things, and, each other. Shouldn’t your Heart broadcast good things? Like, Patience, Kindness, Peace, Joy and Love?

Just like your music player can only broadcast what is in it, so does your Heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

Every time that you let Anger and Hatred in your heart, it replaces Love. Every time you let Fear and Doubt in your Heart, it’s replaces Faith. Negative thoughts are from the Brain, not the Heart. Fill your Heart with Love, in All things. The foundation of a true “Walk In Love”.

Therefore, be mindful of what you let in to your Heart. When your Heart Overflows with Love, it can only broadcast One thing. Love!

Guard Your Heart!


“Let Your Love Flow” by Bellamy Brothers

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I’d Be Dead

Growing up, My Sister, Brother and I were so Blessed to have a wonderful mother that believed in each one of us deeply, giving us all so much strength. She always wanted us to live our lives to the fullest; and would never miss an opportunity to tell us that we could do and be anything we wanted.

A little over a decade ago, my Mom was dying. She had fought the good fight and showed us all, what it meant to always work to be a better person.

Her last battles started with lung cancer some fifteen years before she passed. Then after beating the Cancer in her lungs, it creeped into her brain causing a tumor and subsequent brain surgery. Like the trooper she always was; she fought back, and gained five more years with her beloved Grandkids, and the family she was so dedicated to.

Now, on her death bed, she was succumbing to another bout with brain cancer. Knowing her fate, she held my hand and said “Mark, please promise me that you’ll lose all the weight and take care of yourself.” “Your family loves you, and needs you.”

m2mThat was so much like her. Here she was dying… and her main concern was about me, my health and my future! I miss that lady every day.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!.” -Luke 11:36

So, the end of the story is that I promised her I would lose the weight. No doubt, if I hadn’t, I’d be dead. Turns out that was just the beginning of my personal reformation. All glory to God as he was “Ordering” my steps even through the loss of my wonderful Mom.

“All Things Are Possible” by Dan Peek                 Enjoy!

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Life Is Very Short

With all the hate, violence and vitriol going around. I was moved to re-post this from a while ago…

Life Is Very Short…

All my Adult life I have worked to follow the teachings of Jesus, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and yes John & Paul.

All taught one simple lesson, love one another.

Imagine that? (Pun Intended).

It’s not always easy, but it is always the right thing.

For all of you out there fighting with friends and loved ones over the current political environment, please head the words of these lifelong friends that were unable to resolve their differences before time ran out.