Last month I had to buy new glasses. It had been almost three years since I had been to the eye doctor and I could definitely tell that I was in need of new glasses. Once my new glasses arrived, I tried them on and I noticed something – the frames partially blocked my peripheral vision. As a result, I had to learn to adjust my focus.
The sermon at church Sunday was about Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). Peter wants Jesus to ask him to come out on the water with Him, so Jesus responds to his request by calling him to step out of the boat into the water. Initially Peter was fine, but when he took his eyes of Jesus he started to sink. Peter’s focus wasn’t where it should have been…he was focused on the surrounding circumstances and not the Savior. Just like Peter, we have a tendency to look at our circumstances when hardships come into our life.
Readjusting your focus is not a one time thing. The fact that we are human causes us to be easily distracted and the enemy tries (and is successful more often than not) to take our focus off of Jesus and put it on ourselves (“What will I do about <insert your latest circumstance here>?” or “Why is this happening to me?”). We can’t see the big picture because we are so caught up in the moment. I know it’s easier said than done (trust me…it can be a struggle for me more times than I’d like to admit) but that’s why it’s not a one time thing. Think about it, you don’t go to the eye doctor just ONCE during your life time and you’re done – you go numerous times throughout your life.
You can’t beat yourself up when it happens – it’s like driving and getting lost…you don’t just pull the car over and leave it. You find out where you took a wrong turn and get back on the road. No one is perfect, and if we were we would have no need for a Savior. Don’t give up! The Message translation of Philippians 3:12-14 is very fitting for this – “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”
In what area(s) of your life should you readjust your focus at this time?
Photo Credit: By Ken Teegardin
In days before video games and the Internet were popular, children used to play a game called telephone. You would get a group of friends together and the first person would whisper something in a second person’s ear. That second person in turn would whisper what they thought they heard into a third person’s ear, and so on until the last person would say out loud what they thought they had heard. The first message might have been something like “my favorite color is blue” but by the time it got to the last person it became something like “I ate my favorite shoe.” It’s funny how things can easily be misheard and misunderstood.
Misheard song lyrics can also be pretty hysterical at times. Did Destiny’s Child sing about being a “Survivor, I’m gonna make it!” or was it “I’m on Survivor, I’m a Jamaican?!” Did Elton John really sing about a “Tiny Dancer” or was it really an ode to Who’s The Boss star Tony Danza? One individual has even created a YouTube channel dedicated to Bad Lip Reading in songs, movie, and television.
Life can be complicated. We all go through times in our life where we may misunderstand things, but what do we do about it? When you feel like you’ve misheard things or if you want clarification, go straight to the source. Gossip can often be stopped right in its tracks when you confront it from the start instead of letting it fester. The same can be said for our spiritual lives. When in doubt, go straight to the ULTIMATE source to find clarification and don’t just believe what you’re told…find it out for yourself.
Photo Credit: By DrGBB
When you think of great philosophers, the star of such “great” films as Piranha 3DD, Dr. Dolittle 3, Predator 2, and D.C. Cab does not immediately come to mind. Yes, my friends…I am talking about the one and only Gary Busey. A few months ago, I was trying to find something on television and I ended up watching some show that had Gary Busey on it (I think it was Celebrity Wife Swap or something…I honestly can’t remember) because I was bored. There is no denying the guy is a nut job, but one thing that he did really caught my attention – he would take words and make acronyms out of them to make others better understand what the word meant and he called them “Buseyisms.“
I thought he might be on to something, so I came up with one of my own. The word PROCESS stands for “Practicing Repeatedly Offers Consistent Examples of Success Stories.” For me, the word ‘process’ has always had a negative connotation because I want immediate results and don’t want to have to wait. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic to say “I want to lose 40 pounds!” and then immediately lose that weight right then and there without going through a process of exercising, eating right, and taking care of your body. It just doesn’t happen that way (no matter what those infomercial people tell you)!
The process is what makes the end result worth it! You can look back and think how far you came and what you did to achieve your goal. Just like silver goes through a process to be refined, so do we as children of God (see Zechariah 13:9). Granted, it may be painful at times and you may wonder if that pain is worth the end result, but you’ll never find out unless you stick with it.
What have you learned during your most recent “process?”
Photo Credit: By mooon2
Last week I was reading an article that really got me thinking. The article was entitled “This Is the Average Man’s Body” and it talked about how the average male who lives in the United States has a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) , waist size, and as a whole is considered more obese than the average male from any other country. The part that caught my attention was the word average. What exactly is “average?” If you were to look it up in the dictionary, you might find something like “typical, common, or ordinary.”
We all knew someone in school who barely did enough to get by what was required of him or her. It really hit me hard when I thought that many times in life, that “someone” has been me. Colossians 3:23 (The Message) says “And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best.” The NIV version translates the same verse this way – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” I always took the NIV version to literally mean work or my job. The more I reflected on the verse, the more I realized it was applicable to everything in my life. When it comes to my friendships/relationships am I just phoning it in? Am I doing the bare minimum as a leader? How about my health and taking care of myself? When I take inventory of my life, I can honestly say that I never want to find myself being average.
In what area(s) of your life have you found yourself being “average” lately?
Photo Credit: By Nate Steiner
The topic of God’s will can be very perplexing if we let it. We think of it as an equation: If I do “this” and then do “that” it will equal the will of God. It’s not quite that simple, or is it? I remember hearing someone say “Find where God is active in your life and join Him.” David G. Benner’s book Desiring God’s Will: Aligning Our Hearts with the Heart of God tries to shed some light on how we can truly desire God’s will, embrace it, and live in it.
This book is the third and final book in a series (Surrender to Love and The Gift of Being Yourself being the first and second books respectively). Its seven chapters include: Ways of Willing; My Kingdom, Thy Kingdom; Love and Will; Choosing God; Will and Desire; Choosing the Cross; Developing a Discerning Heart. I think Dr. Benner puts it best when he says, “Surrendering to God’s will makes little sense if we are not convinced of the depths of God’s love for us.” He further discusses how we get confused about God’s will thinking we must “know” it rather than how to “choose” it. He also talks about how we on our own don’t have the willpower to truly desire God’s will…that it is something for which we truly need Him to act on our behalf.
I found this final book to be an easy read and found myself eager to finish it to learn more about the topic of God’s will. I had several takeaways, but here are just a few:
- “What a tragedy if we lump choosing God in with things that are not naturally attractive. Is it any wonder that the thought of surrendering to God’s will evokes mixed feelings? Choosing God’s dream for us feels like choosing to take bitter medicine.”
- “Looked at carefully, willfulness is more against something than for something.”
- “The act of willing surrender is a choice of openness, a choice of abandonment of self-determination, a choice of cooperation with God.”
- “Discipline was, for Jesus as it should be for us, grounded in relationship and shaped by desire.”
- “We become love only only by surrender and self-sacrifice. The beginning of this journey is the return to ‘our Father,’ a journey that we take with the other prodigal sons and daughters who are brothers and sisters.”
- “God’s will cannot be separated from God’s kingdom.”
I highly recommend this book. It is more geared to those who are more established in their faith, but I also think that new believers would also be able to gain a great deal of knowledge from it as well.
Photo Credit: By Amazon.com
Something has been on my mind lately. Women (specifically single women) I am posing these thoughts to you. I’ve always been taught that you don’t treat women as objects…they are people with feelings and of great value. Women comment about how men can be jerks because of the way they look at and treat women. My issue is these same women will turn around and treat men the same way they don’t want to be treated. Granted, this is not ALL women.
What gets me is these women (Christian women mind you) will go see movies like Magic Mike and describe in great detail their attraction to these Hollywood men who look like a Greek god. Then they complain about not being able to find a Godly man when they have set these unrealistic expectations that no man can ever meet. Society has jumped on this notion and uses it to promote everything from salad dressing to diet sodas.
We often hear about women dealing with self-image issues due to things men have said or done, but women don’t realize that men deal with these same type of issues as well. Did you know that 10-15% of those who suffer from anorexia or bulimia are male? Also men are less likely to seek treatment for anorexia or bulimia due to the perception that they are “woman’s diseases.” It may be hard to believe, but at times men struggle with self-image more than women. As men, it’s not really about how we see ourselves, but how we perceive others may see us.
Single guys like myself who are trying to live a Godly life get easily discouraged by all of this because we don’t look like Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, or whatever “perfect” celebrity man women are crazy over at the moment. How can we compete with that? We can’t, so more often than not we don’t even try.
Below are two videos that I’ve seen recently that are further proof of this. The first video is for Kraft’s Zesty Italian salad dressing featuring an attractive man who ends up shirtless (I’m confused on what this has to do with salad dressing). The second video is a campaign for Men’s Wearhouse called “Give The Suit Off Your Back” which is encouraging men to bring in their slightly worn suits to donate to homeless men. The purpose is great, but the delivery is just not right — buff, shirtless men in neckties and their boxers standing on the street corner with women practically drooling over them.
How can we retrain society to prevent these issues for men in the future?
Photo Credit: By ed and eddie
Have you ever had something happen to you that you look back on in hindsight and it felt like it was something that could have been pulled straight from a movie? I had this experience last week and it seemed so surreal! I was driving home from work, like any other day. I got about half way home and noticed that there was smoke coming from underneath the hood of my SUV. I had this gut feeling (which I know beyond the shadow of a doubt was God) telling me that I needed to pull my SUV over and get it out of the road.
I was able to pull over in this gas station parking lot (far away from the gas pumps) and I decided to just sit for a few minutes and let the smoke dissipate. While waiting, I happened to look over to the left and noticed a couple of people screaming something. I couldn’t understand what they were saying so I opened my door. It turns out they were screaming at me – “Get out!! Your SUV is on fire!!” I grabbed my stuff and got as far away as I possibly could. Not five minutes later, my SUV went up in flames. At the time, I was shaking so badly when I had the realization that I could’ve been in the SUV when it caught fire. God was definitely looking out for me!
One of the merchants of a nearby store called 911 for me and the fire department was there in a few short minutes. They hosed down my SUV and it was no longer recognizable. Fortunately, neither I nor anyone else was injured as a result of the fire (I was the only one in my SUV). A tow truck came and took what remained of my SUV to their lot and I spoke with the fire chief about what I need to do in order to file a claim with my insurance company.
It was like something straight out of the movies – seeing a vehicle go up in flames in an action movie. I was not able to sleep for the first few nights as I kept having these visions of being stuck in the SUV, not being able to get out as it was engulfed in flames. Last night, I took a couple of Benadryl and went to bed around 12:00 AM and didn’t wake up until almost 2:00 PM.
My youngest brother took several pictures of the remains of my SUV (in case my insurance company needed them). Below are just a few of the pictures.
We often hear the word love used in many different contexts. “I love hamburgers!” “I love the color blue!” “I love my family!” ”I love my church!” What is the true definition of love and how does surrender come into play with this definition? Upon the recommendation of a friend/mentor, I read the book Surrender to Love by David G. Benner. When I started this book, I honestly didn’t know what to expect as I had never heard of the author.
The book is a trilogy of sorts (the second book being The Gift of Being Yourself and the third book being Desiring God’s Will). In Surrender to Love, Benner discusses the concept of Godly love and how the ultimate surrender (the death of Jesus Christ, God’s only son) provides this love for us. We have a tendency to believe that God loves us based on our merits…if we do well then God loves us more…if we don’t do well morally then God doesn’t love us as much. This concept has caused many a people to fear God in an unhealthy way. God loves us regardless of what we do. He may be disappointed in us, but that doesn’t mean He loves us any less.
I walked away from reading this book with a better sense of what true love means and that you must have some sort of surrender in order to have that true love, or it isn’t really true love. This book was an easy read and I had no problem understanding the terminology and illustrations the author used. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the concept of love and/or surrender.
Here are a few takeaways that I had from the book:
- “Love is God’s character, not simply an emotion.”
- “The Christian God doesn’t turn away from sinners in disgust but moves toward us, bringing us His redemptive presence.”
- “The story of Jesus is the story of love personified.”
- “Most of us who call ourselves Christians do so on the basis of belief more than experience.” – A. W. Tozer
- “God isn’t simply the projection of our own image on the cosmos.”
- “He (God) created us and knows us intimately…He knows how we respond to anything that threatens our need for control.”
Photo Credit: By Amazon.com
If you know me well at all, you know that U2 is my all time favorite band. I had the amazing opportunity to see them live the last time they came to Atlanta and it was well worth the price of admission. The fact that they sang one of my favorite songs, 40, made my experience “even better than the real thing” (sorry, I promise no more U2 song title puns). One of my life-long friends got me a book for Christmas several years ago and I just finally got around to reading it. One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters To Those Seeking God by Christian Scharen takes the reader through twelve different topics regarding Christianity and shows how different songs in the U2 music catalog fit within these topics.
The topics covered include: Singing Scripture, Psalms as Thanksgiving and Lament, Wisdom as Desire and Illusion, Prophecy as Judgment and Hope, Parables as Offense and Mercy, Apocalypse as Ecstasy and Healing, Singing the Cross, Faith (Not Sight), Hope (Not Possession), Love (Not Power), Now (Not Yet), and Singing the Truth. I learned so much about my favorite band as well as what motivates them to do what they do. They are not in it for the fame and fortune – they feel God has given them a platform to share via their music. Some categorize the band as “too Christian” while others label them as “not Christian enough” but the author likens the band’s songs to modern parables.
Here are just a few of my favorite quotes and take aways from the book:
- “We don’t get what we deserve; we get what God offers. As Bono put it in a recent interview, ‘It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.’”
- “If we thought it was all about us, it would <expletive> us up. Something happens, but it is not something we make happen. It only happens when God walks through the room.” – Larry Mullen, Jr. (drummer for U2)
- “Great music, like great lives, moves us to see with more clarity.”
- “The band has always had the feeling – not unlike Flannery O’Connor in her writing – that revelation will come if they wait and pay attention.”
- “These relationships – to friends, family, and community – speak to a conscious effort to overcome the vertigo of being rock stars so that they can find ways to be normal people.”
- “They (the band) decided very early on that they would transgress the rule that rock bands don’t sing about religion and politics.”
- “It’s absolutely clear what’s on God’s mind. You just have to read Scripture. Those who read Scripture and don’t come away with God’s preferential concern for the poor are just blind given that there are 2,103 verses of Scripture about the poor.” Bono (lead singer of U2)
- “To make a difference, one must be different.”
I left this book with a better understanding of U2 and the thought process behind their lyrics. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves U2 or is just interested in seeing how other believers in the world are making a difference.
Photo Credit: By Amazon.com
Music is an integral part of my life. I listen to just about any and every kind of music (although I just can’t get into country or southern gospel). Certain songs have had more significance in my life during a specific season. At church, from time to time, we sing Always by Kristian Stanfill. We sang it again last night at Night of Worship and it really spoke to me in a new way.
Oh, my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always.
Up until recently, I was listening to the lyrics and thinking “God will not delay?! My God will come through always?! Yeah right! I don’t think so…He isn’t doing a thing in my situation.” I let my circumstances (being without a job for almost 16 months) determine my view of God’s movement (or lack there of in my mind). I couldn’t see who God truly was because I was blinded by what was going on around me.
Something happened on Wednesday of this week to change my view of the above lyrics. I had a job interview and later that day received (and accepted) a job offer. Thursday night when I went to Night of Worship, I focused intently on these lyrics and realized the error in my earlier mindset. I was using MY timeline to determine if God was delaying or coming through on HIS part. It felt like God was saying to me “You know…I was delaying until I thought you were ready. I wasn’t doing it to be mean or to hurt you in any way. Remember, I know what’s best for you!”
Watch the video below – may the lyrics of the song encourage you and help you remember God’s timing is perfect.
Photo Credit: By Blake Patterson