Discouraged

img_2606This week has been one of the most discouraging weeks I’ve had in a long time.

From Monday on, life did everything it could to bring in to question what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, why I’m doing it, and if I should stop doing it. It was rough, to say the least.

This discouragement made me question my role as a husband, a father, a coach, etc. It made me question if it was even worth it anymore.

I was low.

Yet, all around me, God was there. He sent me encouraging messages. He made it known that the valley I was walking through would end if I followed Him. There really was light at the end of the tunnel.

Before, I don’t think I would have realized all that He was doing in my life. But now I do, and as I write this, the discouraged feeling that was squarely stuck in my mind for the entirety of the week is gone. It is replaced with a peace and understanding that God is Great. God is my strength in times of discouragement. He is positive. He is encouraging.

So, when you get down, look up. He is there. He will listen. He is love and He will shoulder your concerns. He is a good father. He is someone I want to be like. And that is certainly a most encouraging thought!

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Soul on Fire

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My car's radio set to K-Love

This morning, driving in to work, the sunrise over the trees was in the rearview mirror as I drove westward. It was a blaze as it rose and burned into the early morning winter sky. The temperature was about 6 degrees. The roads were clear. It was cold, but not bone-chillingly so. It was good ride in to the office.

The reason for this was not just the weather, though. It was how the weather made me feel. I felt GOOD. I was singing (badly, I’m sure :-)) to the positive and encouraging tunes on the radio from K-Love as I drove. I was at peace with the world. And it was because I’ve opened my heart to Jesus and given my life over to God. It is such an awesome feeling.

Now, I also know that God will take me through valleys. Yet, through His strength I will make it through. That thought, in and of itself, is the most peace-inducing thought I’ve had in a very long time. Before, I would have been ashamed to talk about my faith. I wasn’t a believer. I hadn’t opened my heart. I didn’t understand.

That was then. This is now.

I’m at peace because I know the Big Man Upstairs has it. I know I can lift my concerns up to Him and He will listen. I know I experience joys and blessings in life because of Him and I thank Him for them.

These lyrics from Third Day’s song Soul on Fire capture it best:

Lord, restore the joy I had
And I have wandered bring me back
In this darkness, lead me through
Until all I see is You

Thank you God.

Amen.

Be in and of the world

wpid-img_20150203_102555.jpgYou may have heard on the news that there is a named snow storm (#jonas) that is going to hit all up and down the east coast this weekend. Snow storms of this forecasted magnitude, especially for areas that are not traditionally used to getting so much snow at once, can be very dangerous. There can be no doubt about this fact. I am praying that everyone that will be affected by this storm will survive with little or no damage.

However, the impending storm, and the flurries we’ve gotten around my home region today have caused me to really think about the anger we often have toward “Old Man Winter.”

Instead of being upset and cursing the cold, snowy weather, why not pause and breathe it in. Go out and stand in the snowflakes as they fall. Marvel at the simple beauty they present. The cold air is refreshing. Take in the winter smells and noises. If you are able to look out at the trees, examine and revel in how the snow coats the branches and changes the scenery.

In other words, be in and of the world around us. Slow down. Reconnect with the natural part of the world, even for just a few minutes. Relish how nature works, it’s beauty and power. Many people may feel that being a part of this glorious world is depressing because they view themselves as just a cog. Contrary to this view, we are integral to the world around us. We take it in. We share it. We are a part of it and that is something wonderfully positive to think about.

3 Things – The same & different all at once

Be Positive, and Don’t Judge

Humility Promotes Unity

Purity

The three themes of the bible studies I did today.

When I first read each of them, I didn’t think that they fit together. Looking at them again, at the top of this post, focusing on these words, I realize that yes, they are all inter-related.

In this world, we are very quick to judge. We look for that which is different and then do our best to discredit it. We love the negative. We love the “dirty laundry” because it isn’t happening to us. Yet, when the circumstances are flipped, we are ashamed because we don’t want others to know our troubles. We care more about social stature that we do about being kind and helping out whenever and wherever we can. What if we decided not to judge, but to look at the world through a positive lens? What would that world look like?

My guess is that it would be one where we were more unified, because we are humble and recognize how important helping others and not always being right is to living a blessed life. Happiness found in helping others is greater than happiness derived from selfish actions. It lasts longer. And it is real.

Another way to put this idea:  the happiness that happens when you are positive your outlook and humble in you actions is pure.

At first what was muddied is now clear.

 

Forward

looking-back-looking-forward

The faith-based weight loss plan said “God is a forward thinking and acting God.”

I sat there thinking: “That’s remarkable.”

Diving in further, I realized the author was 100 percent correct in saying that “To receive real comfort and move forward, you have to let the false comforts go. Simple as that.”

Simple indeed. But, surprisingly, it is. All we have to do is change to experience change.

We have to move forward in Him, move forward in Jesus. That’s what it says in John 8:31-32. For the first time, I understand this. The freedom Jesus talks about is a freedom from the despair, fear, emotional pain, anxiety, habitual sins, etc. that plague those of us who put our trust in the world, instead of in Him.

By accepting the teachings of Jesus as truth, we are free to live a life that is positive and encouraging. By having strong faith and doing good deeds, we are breaking the chains of worldly bondage that have held us back.

I think that this movement forward is a journey, a step-by-step type process that is one of discovery. It has been for me. A a result, I have confidence in knowing that I will get there because I believe in Him and know He is supporting me throughout.

It may seem odd at first, but just think about how awesome it is that God forgives us as He moves forward. The past is just that – the past. Today is a new day and we have a new opportunity to deepen our relationship with Jesus. In so doing we are working to make ourselves better people inside and out.

Moving forward like this, we change and experience change. Moving forward like this, we will get there!

 

Reminder

Today the sun is shining. The temperatures are milder, less frigid. And my mind turns to how being positive and encouraging toward others impacts the individual.

My son reminded us last night about the “golden rule” and how much doing unto others as you, yourself would like to be treated is such a great way to live life. Then this morning, I heard a radio commercial from AAA about how to curb road rage by driving your car the same way you would treat people during your daily life. Basically, you wouldn’t go crazy if someone cut in the receiving line at a wedding reception, but you would in your car if some one cut you off on the road. The whole idea is to take a deep breath, exhale, and move forward without anger/resentment.

Be positive. Be encouraging. That is what those reminders and the one I read about in Psalm 37:21-31 said to me. I am reminded that although we all stumble and fall, the Lord our God upholds us in His hand. We matter to Him. I matter to God. That is such an awesome thing to know! And because of that, I know that although I may struggle in my life, He encourages me that I might overcome those struggles and live my life in a way that reflects His love for me and honors His name.