God’s Ultimate Over Your Immediate

Here is something we all need to keep in mind: “You will very likely overestimate what God wants to do through you in the short run. But you will very likely underestimate what God wants to do through you in the long run.

Remember that ministry and impacting others with the Gospel of the Kingdom and the love of God is a marathon and not a short sprint. 

Our walk with God and our daily lives is really a series of small decisions that we make and choices that come along that don’t seem to be life-changing or earth-shattering. Just small every day choices and decisions that will determine the future that we will have. The impact we will have. 

There were two brothers – Esau and Jacob. Esau was the oldest and he was a hunter. He was, of course, his father’s favourite. And because he was the oldest son he was given very special treatment as he would be the heir to his father when Isaac died. He came in one day from hunting and was seriously hungry. He made one small decision that impacted the rest of his life and the history of the world as we know it. He traded his birthright for a bowl of stew. After all, he was hungry and was not thinking long-term or even short-term repercussions of this one decision.

The same is true of us. We generally have short-term vision and think only of the immediate need or want. We make decisions based on our feelings and current situation without much thought – if any thought – about what will change in the future because of this one small decision or choice that we are making in the immediate – the now! So, really we need to let the Holy Spirit guide us in every minor and major decision of every day.

Paul told us to “let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires” (Galatians 5:16-17 NLT). As God’s Spirit guides us, we won’t be seeking the bowl of stew, another Oreo cookie, or a scoop of ice cream. The Holy Spirit replaces our lower, self-serving, demanding desires with God’s higher, Kingdom-serving, selfless ones.

Think about this for a moment. For centuries God’s name has often been tagged by the patriarchs who loved and served Him faithfully. You’ve probably heard God referred to as “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” If you pause and reflect on the story we mentioned above, you’ll see something that will stop you in your tracks.

Esau was the older brother with the birthright. When Jacob tricked him into giving away his birthright, Esau traded the ultimate for the immediate. If he hadn’t made that devastatingly destructive shortsighted decision, throughout history you would have heard God referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau. Esau lost his standing.

You’ll be wiser. I know you will. When faced with temptations, you’ll look beyond the moment. You’ll remember that patience is better than power. Self-control is more important than conquering a city (See Proverbs 16:32). You’ll choose God’s ultimate over the immediate. You’ll never trade your birthright for a simply bowl of stew. You’ll no longer sacrifice your destiny for distorted or daily desires.

As you realize how much God has planned for you to do in this world, I pray you will live with a long-term perspective – a Kingdom perspective – making decisions that will honour God and propel you forward over time. You sacrifice your own ego-driven agenda in order to experience the perfect timing of God’s plan and purpose for your life. Instead of demanding that you want now, you’re often infinitely better off waiting. Proverbs 16:32 says, “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city” (NLT).

Living with patience is better than muscling forward to demand what you want before the time is right. Self-control often unlocks the door to blessings that are longer lasting and more meaningful. Patience comes from knowing you already have enough of what you need the most because you are God’s child and He knows what you have need off even before you ask. And He has given to you all that you need certainly to life and to godliness. 

 

Overnight Success?

Behind every great story there’s always another story. Rarely does success come without time, discipline, and hard work. Successful people often joke that they spent years becoming an overnight success. What many people don’t realize is that it’s the things no one sees that result in the things everyone wants. It’s the faithfulness to do mundane things well, to develop productive habits, and to remain faithful that eventually leads to success.

Old Testament prophet Daniel is a great example of this. Whether you know a lot or a little about Daniel, when you hear his name, you probably think, Oh, yeah . . . Daniel in the lion’s den. Any kid who grew up attending Sunday school or visiting vacation bible school, has heard the amazing story of Daniel surviving the night in a cave filled with hungry felines.

Let me refresh your memory, and then we’ll go back to the part many overlook. King Darius was the reigning king of Persia. As his kingdom grew, he appointed 120 satraps (similar to our present-day governors) to handle regional matters and help govern the people. The king then chose three administrators to oversee those 120 satraps. Daniel was one of the chosen leaders. Over time, by consistently serving the king with an excellent spirit, Daniel stood out among all the other satraps and administrators. Eventually the king decided to place Daniel in charge of the entire kingdom.

So Daniel was an overnight success, right? Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t forget, there’s a story behind every story. Why was Daniel successful? Why was he favoured among others? Why did the king respect him so much? Promote him so quickly? Believe in his leadership? Why did God look favourably on Daniel? Why did God close the mouths of the meat-eating lions?

We find the answer in a part of Daniel’s story that many people skim over. His divine favour was the result of one small decision he made at some point in his life. We don’t know when Daniel made this decision or why. We don’t know whether someone helped him or he decided it on his own. All we know is that Daniel made one decision, starting one habit that changed his story.

As you might expect, the other leaders were fuming with jealousy of Daniel. The story continues, “Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. So they concluded, ‘Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.’” (Daniel 6:4-5)

Let’s consider for a moment some of the great qualities of our hero Daniel. Even though the other guys did everything they could do to find something wrong with him, they couldn’t find anything. Daniel was honest, trustworthy, and dependable in all that he did. He was exactly the type of person the king was looking to promote. So his opponents decided there was only one way they could trap Daniel into doing something worthy of punishment. They needed to devise a plan that involved his faith in God. They knew he wouldn’t do anything wrong. They were going to have to back him into a spiritual corner.

“So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius! We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions” (Daniel 6:6-7)

The king apparently liked the sound of their plan because he agreed to their proposal. No one could pray to anyone but him for the next month. And so the plan to trap Daniel was set in motion. 

When Daniel heard about the new thirty-day restriction on prayer, he did the same thing he’d done three times a day for months, maybe years, possibly decades. Daniel went to his house and prayed to God.

As a result, Dan the Man was arrested and had to stare down the big cats and prove that God was his one and only. But think for a minute. It wasn’t just that Daniel wasn’t afraid of lions or had some super courage that mere mortals can never hope to attain. No, Daniel had started a regular practice much earlier in his life that helped him face this impossible situation. To others, prayer might have seemed insignificant. But to Daniel, it was a discipline that shaped his story.

We don’t know how many years Daniel had been practicing this habit, but three times a day, every day, Daniel stopped and looked toward heaven. He worshipped God. He aligned his heart with God’s heart. He sought God’s will to be done through his life. Because of Daniel’s consistent and prayerful focus, he grew as a God follower, as a person, and as a leader.

Daniel wasn’t an overnight success. He was able to stand tall because he’s faithfully knelt before the one true king. The small, daily discipline of prayer equipped him to face the big, scary test of those hungry lions, both the peers who were attempting to destroy him as well as the big cats in the arena. Starting something small and then faithfully continuing it made his story so rich that it’s been told for thousands of years now, and still counting.

The moral of the story: It’s the things not one sees that result in the things everyone wants. 

A Stress-Free Life

When the topic of stress comes up, it is usually to remind us of how stress can be harmful to our health and overall well-being. You rarely, if ever, hear that stress is part of a meaningful life.

As a Christian leader I use to attend a number of leadership events every year. I would often hear warnings about stress and ways to avoid it. Sometimes it was even presented in ways that caused me to feel ashamed that I was working hard and putting in long hours in the trenches of “pastor-preneuring” the church I had just planted. I never remember anyone explaining that stress actually has an upside. Not all stress is bad stress, and to live with no stress is an unreasonable goal if you want to have a meaningful life. There’s no shame in stepping into stress. It doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong, and it doesn’t make you less spiritual.

Jesus had stress. In fact, Scripture says He sweated blood, which can happen when our body is reacting to extreme stress.

The disciples had stress. The mission they were on required them to embrace stress.

The heroes of the Bible had stress. The goal was not to have a stress-free life.

Marriage has stress. When two different people (often opposite in personality) decide to do life together, they are committing themselves to a journey that includes its share of stress.

Family has stress. Children are a blessing, but parenting is stress on steroids.

You and I are no different. We will have stress if we have a job, and stress if we don’t have a job. We’ll have stress if we have lots of money or don’t have any money. There’s no such thing as a stress-free life!

In the move The Lion King, Timon and Pumbaa (the meerkat and the warthog) try to convince Simba, a young lion cub, to go after the stress-free life. They called it hakuna matata, which translates from Swahili as “there are no troubles.” It sounded great to young Simba, but the problem was that in the pursuit of hakuna matata, he would miss out on his future. Simba’s father, Mufasa, was king of the Pride Lands, and Simba’s destiny was to take over as the king. In the end he made the choice to give up the pursuit of trouble-free life and embrace the problems and the stress that go along with a life of meaning and purpose.

What’s true in Simba’s story is true in our story. We have absolutely zero chance of living a stress-free life and a meaningful life at the same time. 

Jesus taught us that there’s no such thing as a hakuna matata life here on earth: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus is saying, “Trouble is unavoidable in the place that I have assigned to you. I’ve told you these things to give you peace in the trouble-filled, tension-filled places that I’ve assigned you to be.” He’s saying, “My peace, the peace that I can offer, is not limited to peaceful environments and peaceful circumstances. My eace goes with you unto places I’m sending you.” 

It always amazes me when I come across people who avoid pressure, because they want to be where God is, and they assume God’s not in the stress. They think God stays in the quiet, calm setting with serene surroundings. That’s like saying God keeps to the quite outdoors and spas. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good idea to go somewhere quiet and peaceful to get recharged. At the same time, we have to get free of the idea that God is only in the quiet places. We need to start seeing Him in the noisy, loud, turbulent, pressure-filled places that He’s assigned us to. 

The good stuff happens in the place of pressure. Pressure is where giants like Goliath fall. Pressure is where battles are won. Pressure is where diamonds are formed and babies are born.

The pressure pf problems doesn’t mean the absence of God. While it’s true that sometimes God wants us to leave the tension and go to the peaceful place, He’s actually assigned us and called us to live in the wild. To stay in the streets. To have peace in the place of our assignments. God doesn’t wait for us to leave the pressure cooker and come to Him in the quiet place. God is in the chaotic and tension-filled places, too. He is in the stress, too!

Everything that’s worth something has a price. All progress has opposition and all advancement has adversity. When you find yourself in wild and crazy situations at school, at work, and in your family, you may feel tempted to withdraw or even to run the other way. But before you do, ask yourself, Is this where I’m meant to be? Is this what I’m here to do? Because the place you want to run from is often the place God has assigned you to. If He assigned you to that place, He is with you in that place. Start to see Him there.

God was in Babylon with Daniel and closed the mouths of the lions. God was in Macedonia with Paul and Silas and opened the doors of their jail cell. God puts us in places that are stressful to achieve the work He wants to do in that place. But He doesn’t just send us. He is there with us. God is in the stress. 

Being Honest With Yourself!

Our biggest enemy if often not the devil. It is ourself. We are not being deceived by him or by others. We deceives ourselves. We fail to look at ourselves – what we believe, how we live, our attitude, our thoughts, our morals, our values, our perspective on life, and our priorities. We don’t want to look at ourselves or examine what’s in our heart because we might not like what we find. 

But, I believe that in God’s Kingdom it a season for honest and deep reflection about the lives we live and what we think is important and not important. It is time to be honest with yourself. 

Are you not tired of pretending? Living to please others? Acting a part? Doing everything to cover up who you really are? Is it not time to stop hiding from yourself and thus from others. It is time to be who God created and called you to be. It is time to decide to live for an audience of ONE.

Am I saying you have to confess all your garbage in from of the whole church? No. With some issues, that might be what God requires of you. But with most personal matters, it’ll be wiser to divulge them only to a small, trusted circle of friends or a lone accountability partner. But this I know, playing the fugitive from the truth about yourself will never bring you lasting peace or freedom to live a full and fulfilling life.

The problem is that it is easier to stay the way you are – to coast and live an average, complacent life. You could avoid risk and keep acting. That’s what most Christians (and even the general population) do. In fact, you’ll often be rewarded for faking it. No one will complain. The status quo is always comfortable. You’ll blend in. Even though you know you were created to stand out.

But if you are sick of shallow, empty relationships – if you’re craving deep, sincere community – then you are going to have to take a chance, to risk it. You’ll risk harsh judgments, misunderstandings, criticism. But think about the reward. Imagine living in the freedom and liberty of fully knowing yourself and being really known by others. Dream about releasing guilt, shame, fear, and doubts. See yourself closer to God – and the people around you – than you’ve ever been before.

The choice is yours: Life as it has been, or life as it should be and could become. 

It is my goal to live the most authentic, transparent, vulnerable life a Christ follower can. And here is what I’ve found. Some people don’t like me. But that would be the case no matter what, wouldn’t it? On the other hand, others not only like me, they love me deeply. And the don’t love the image I once portrayed. They love the real me who God created. And, I love them. But most importantly, I have come to really love myself – love who I am and who I am becoming. 

The more honest I have become with God, myself, and His people, the richer and deeper my relationships have grown. In the past, I was always afraid of being ‘found out’. I lived in constant fear of people seeing the cracks in my character, of not measuring up. But not anymore. I overcame my fear because I took a chance. And I’ll continue to take obedient, truthful chances. The more I have come to know and love myself (as imperfect as I may be), the more real God has become to me and the greater love I have for those I relate to. 

The road to honesty and integrity is the path I choose to take. I won’t play it safe. And neither should you. In fact, you can’t play it safe and please God. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). And walking in faith is always a risk.

Even when our faith is small, God can do great things. As we step out with the faith we now have; as we take that first step toward living a life free of fear … and secrets… and doubts… and insecurities, we will find a deep freedom we have not experienced before. And we will live a life of honesty and integrity. A life pleasing to God. The life you were created to live. 

Love Builds Up

A weekend blog which I don’t normally post … based in 1 Corinthians 11…what is known as “the love chapter”

Love builds up…

I saw them tearing a building down,

A group of men in a busy town,

With hefty blow and lusty yell, 

They swung with zest,

And a side wall fell.

Asked of the foreman,

“Are these men skilled?”

The kind you would hire if you had to build?”

He look at me, and laughed, “No, indeed!

Unskilled labor is all I need.

Why, they can wreck in a day or two,

What it has taken builders years to do.”

I asked myself, as I went my way,

Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder with rule and square,

Measuring and constructing with skill and care?

Or am I the wrecker who walks the town,

Content with the business of tearing down?

Author Unknown

Reaching Your God-Given Potential – Part Three

We have been looking at the need for decent and mature friends in our individual journey of life. These are the three types of friends everyone needs to reach their God-given potential…

    • A friend to challenge you and bring out your best
    • A friend to help you find strength in God and grow in your faith
    • A friend to tell you the truth, especially when you don’t want to hear it

We have looked briefly at the friend who will challenge you and help to bring the best you to the surface and forefront. And, a friend to help you find strength in God and grow in your faith. The third type of friend that we must have is one who will tell us the truth – the whole truth, God’s truth, the truth that brings a reality check. And the more successful you become, the more you need this person in your life and, oddly, the harder they are to find.

King David discovered this the hard way. During the season when kings were suppose to be at war, David decided to stay home rather than go to battle. One night he was out on his rooftop when he saw his neighbour’s wife, Bathsheba, bathing outside her house. His selfish lusts spoke louder than his wisdom, so the king sent someone to bring the woman to him. What’s interesting is that whomever King David sent to get Bathsheba had to know that she was married to Uriah, one of David’s closest friends and one of Israel’s greatest war heroes. But since the messenger was on the king’s payroll (and he might have been afraid of losing more than just his job), the guy did exactly as he was told. He summoned the woman to the king’s palace. And if you don’t know the story well. One thing led to another, and Bathsheba ended up pregnant.

Recognizing that this could become a scandal, David tried to get control of the situation. He called he husband home, figuring Uriah would sleep with his wife and then assume the baby was his. But when Uriah refused to enjoy intimacy with his wife while his men were still on the battlefield, David changed his tactics. He issued the order to move his friend to the front line where he was sure to be killed. And he was.

Unfortunately, everyone in the king’s court was too afraid to tell David the truth. So God sent a man who cared enough to help David see the way back to the right path. The prophet Nathan met with David and told him a story that went something like this. “Once upon a time there were two men. One was very rich and the other was very poor. The rich guy had an unlimited number of sheep and wealth. The poor guy had almost nothing and only one lamb, who was almost like a pet to him and his family. When the rich man had a guest come to town, he took the poor man’s lamb and had it butchered for a meal.”

When David heard this story, he was beside himself with anger. David ranted, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity” (2 Samuel 12:5-6). Fortunately, Nathan loved David enough to tell him the truth. “Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man’” (2 Samuel 12:7). That was enough to jolt king David out of his denial and bring him to his knees in repentance before God. 

Many people around us tell us the things we want to hear, rather than helping us to see the truth. And the more successful we become, the more difficult it is to find people who have our best interests at heart. That’s one reason we must connect with people who love us enough to be blatantly honest. In other words, a true friend. 

David’s son Solomon wisely said, “An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT). 

When was the last time a friend loved you enough to give you an open rebuke? Has someone loved you enough to offer helpful correction? If not, you might be missing one or two very important relationships that could help you grow, thrive, and succeed. Everyone needs people in their lives who will candidly tell them the truth. Maybe you need to connect with someone who’s willing to show you what you need to see so you can become the person you’re suppose to be.

Winding up the three blogs…

Which kind of friend do you need most in your life right now? Someone who helps you be better? Someone who helps you draw closer to God? Or someone who tells you the truth about yourself?

Is one person’s name popping into your head right now? Someone you could consider getting to know better and sharing your need for this kind of connection? If not, ask God to provide the right person at the right time, that friend who can help you grow closer to Him and to make decisions leading you in a divine direction.

Reaching Your God-Given Potential – Part Two

We started looking at the need for decent and mature friends in our individual journey of life. These are the three types of friends everyone needs to reach their God-given potential…

      • A friend to challenge you and bring out your best
      • A friend to help you find strength in God and grow in your faith
      • A friend to tell you the truth, especially when you don’t want to hear it

We looked last time at the friend who will challenge you and help to bring the best you to the surface and forefront. Let’s look today at a friend to help you find strength in God and grow in your faith.

This second friend can help you find strength beyond yourself in the midst of temptation and weakness. Jesus as Samuel helped David see that God wanted to do more in his life than he ever imagined, a guy named Jonathan helped David find strength in God when he needed it most. David was chosen to be the next king, but God didn’t promote him to the throne immediately. God still had a lot to do before He replaced Saul with David. First, David became a war hero winning the hearts of thousands. David was so effective on the battlefield that women danced in the streets singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). You can just imagine how jealous that made an already insecure king. Feeling threatened by David’s rising popularity, King Saul plotted to take his life. David was forced to flee to the mountains to hide from the raging monarch’s posse.

There, in David’s darkest moments, God sent him an unlikely friend to help him find spiritual strength. King Saul’s own son Jonathan recognized the error in his father’s ways and stood faithfully by his friend David. Here’s how Samuel describes the courageous show of support: 

“While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.”

I love that simple phrase, which describes so clearly one of the key ways Jonathan served David: he “helped him find strength in God.” There may not be a more valuable gesture one friend can make to another than pointing them toward God, encouraging them to seek His power, loving them toward God’s unending strength.

This friend is someone who will listen and care. Not always giving you the answers you are seeking for. But, there to listen and have your back as you struggle through the issues that you face in life. They are not an ‘answer man.’ They are not there as ‘Mr. Fix-it.” They are there to listen, to care, and to help you see what God is doing and where He is taking you in the situation you are facing and the current spot in the journey that you are on.  

This friend will be praying for you and with you. They will be a safe place for you to recover, refocus, and regroup. They don’t judge. They simply love, support, and encourage you.

So, who helps you find strength in God? If you don’t have anyone, it’s time for you to connect with someone who can help. God already has that person ready for you. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help., It’s a sign of wisdom.

Reaching Your God-Given Potential – Part One

Let’s consider the three types of friends everyone needs to reach their God-given potential:

      • A friend to challenge you and bring out your best
      • A friend to help you find strength in God and grow in your faith
      • A friend to tell you the truth, especially when you don’t want to hear it

To look at and illustrate these three types, let’s look at the life of David in the Old Testament to see the people that God used to make him the man God wanted him to be.

First, everyone needs a friend who makes them better, and makes them want to be better. You don’t have to know much about David’s life to know he was far from perfect. But even with all his mistakes, sins, and shortcomings, David was still described as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). If you study David’s life, it becomes clear that the right people at the right time helped him become the right man.

Although David had many people who made him better, I’d like to start with Samuel. During the time when God rejected Saul as king (and this is a different Saul than the one we read of in the book of Acts), God chose Samuel the prophet to identify and anoint the next king of Israel. When Samuel visited the house of Ben Jesse (David’s dad), he saw an obvious candidate. The oldest son was strong, handsome, and qualified. Samuel thought that surely this man was God’s chosen king. But God told him not to consider his stature, because God doesn’t look at the same things people look at. Most people judge others by their appearance, but God looks past their appearance and into their heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

When all the obvious sons turned out not to be God’s chosen one, they finally called in the least likely one, the youngest, who was out tending sheep. And God spoke to Samuel and said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one” (1 Samuel 16:12). Everyone would have been shocked by this announcement. David was just a kid, and a little rough around the edges, camping next to his family’s flock of sheep. There wasn’t a single person in David’s family who would have picked him as the next king. But God used one man, Samuel, to help David see that God’s will for his life was more significant than anyone could have imagined. 

Samuel made David better – much better. The prophet helped David see himself the way God saw him – as a leader, warrior, poet, and king. He wasn’t just some kid, cut out for nothing more than wrangling sheep for his whole life. Samuel told David, “You’re the one! God has chosen you!” God had a glorious plan, and Samuel helped David glimpse it.

Do you have a few friends who make you better, people who see your potential? Think about it. Do your buddies at the gym make you better? Or the ladies in your Bible study help you grow? Do the people you work with make you sharper? Do the people you run with make you stronger?

If not, connect with someone new, someone who makes you better.

If you need to get closer to God, connect with the right person who can help. If you want a good marriage, there’s nothing like befriending people who have strong marriages. If you want to grow in your parenting skills, you might find someone wise and do life with them. Walk with the wise and grow wise. If you hope to start a business, then gleaning from someone who started a successful business is a great place to start. If you need to learn to handle your finances better, I know that if you pray for the right influence, God will answer that prayer.

David’s son Solomon, the wisest man who ever lives, said, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17 NLT). Instead of hanging out with people who dull your skills or put down your dreams, it’s time you start finding friends who make you sharper. If you connect with someone who makes you better today, then you will write a totally different future for yourself – God’s future. This is what David did with the help of Samuel.

Who sees you, the real person inside you, the way God sees you?

More next time….

It Was One Of Those Days

It was a cool and overcast day after a number of fairly warm and sunny days. My office has four large 4 feet by 4 feet windows and so when it is sunny it is an amazing place to work. But, when it is overcast it can be less inviting. But it is a window on my world. I have a great view of all that goes on on my crescent as I can clearly see in three directions. So, because of the weather – light snow and then rain and cool – I spent the day writing blogs and researching a teaching that was for the weekend. A teaching on worry.

During the day I related to a few people on various social media apps. I don’t normally do that. Yes, I contact my own people who are part of the church I attend. And, I answer emails. But, the rest I leave alone as I want to stay focused on what I am writing and researching. However, I spent my early morning coffee listening to the governor of New York speak about the Covid-19 virus and, on a personal note, the fact that his brother (a CNN personality) had just been diagnosed with the virus. I have been impressed with the man’s leadership of the State of New York and even more impressed by his leadership qualities that day … especially when compared to the President, my own Prime Minister and others. So, I made a Facebook entry about my personal observation (something I don’t do often on my personal Facebook page)

Well, the bell kept ringing most of the day with reactions to what I wrote. I would like to say all positive and everyone agree with me. Not so! Interesting. Meanwhile I received an unsolicited “forward” by someone I know in Ohio. Political issues about congress. Which I did not read. Then one from the province east of mine about the connection between the Coronavirus and 5G. An unwanted video forwarded to me which I did not watch. Then another one from the same province about a dream they had and a video to watch (which I did not follow up on). By the way, I am not anti-social. I simply don’t have the time nor the interest to read, watch, or listen to everything that people send to me when I didn’t ask for them. 

But the one that blew me out of the water was a comment by a believer whom I know stating that Governor Cuomo was not a good leader because he threatened to close down the churches and synagogues if people gathered to worship. Permanently close them. 

Now, I believe the rule is that you can’t have a gathering of believers of any religion if the number coming together is over 50 -10 – 5 or 2 depending on the place where you live. This rule is to prevent larger groups of people coming together and thus spreading the virus faster. It is a matter of social-distancing. It also means all concerts, sports events, and political rally are also now not happening. So, no one is picking on the believers or those that are religious. It is simply a general, across the board rule to see if we can slow down the spread of the virus. And, although I did not see the specific announcement – there is no way according to the United States constitution that a government could permanently shut down the church. 

Do I smell panic here? Do I sense a conspiracy theory (or two or three) arising? I mean other than the one that this is a God-thing to remove the excess population on the planet. Had you heard that one? Or the one that says … Well, never mind. We have all heard them, right?

On a similar note: I was amazed that a number of pastors of large churches – several whom I would know by name – actually encouraged their people to come and worship in spite of the rules and recommendations. Wow! Now that’s good for our reputation as thinking believers. Not! And, I noted that one well-known pastor from Florida was even arrested for doing so. Good for the authorities. 

Is it just me or has the spirit of stupid been released upon the world. Folks, this is not a game. People (several whom I know) have gone from healthy to dead in a week. Let’s take this seriously shall we. Let’s not spiritualize the epidemic. Let’s use our common sense and follow the medical advice we are all hearing – advice every decent doctor is giving. And, let’s pray for those who are on the frontlines of fighting the virus. Let’s not distract attention away from what we can all do to slow the spread down.

And, by the way, believers … instead of all the conspiracy theories and dreams and visions and whatever – Let’s use this opportunity to share the love of Jesus and boldly tell others about the love of God and the salvation from sin that He offers to each and every person who believes. Let’s not get sidetracked and miss the opportunity to practically care for those in need and speak to hearts that are open.

Let’s represent Jesus in a practical and sane way and take advantage of the situation to bring people into the Kingdom. 

Be Confident – Be You

The Bible states and God says, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded” (Hebrews 10:35). Of course, our confidence is in Him and what He is doing in us and through us. On our journey with Jesus, as we discover who we are, we also learn what He has called us to do for Him and His Kingdom.

As we gain confidence in Him and thus who we are “in Christ” and what He has called us to do then we can reach the stage where we can relax and be confident and comfortable. You can “be confident in who you are, and comfortable with who you’re not.” In other words, you truly discover yourself – the real you that God created. And, you are then able to sort out and settle many of the issues that keep you from living a full and fulfilling life. You can separate what God expects of you and from you from what others expect and even demand. Your life-focus becomes much sharper and you stop wasting time trying to impress people or ‘keeping up with the Jones.’ You are too busy keeping up with Jesus and all that He is revealing to you about you. 

This means you can just be yourself. Being someone and thus something you’re not is exhausting. No one wins. You are plastic in your relationships. Conversations remain shallow and boring. You fear doing new things that might disturb the false ‘you’ that you have been projecting for years. You are fearful that if people really got to know you they would not like you and would reject you … walking away permanently. You live with that fear. You live ‘timid’ and afraid. As a result, you remain relationally unhealthy. And, never discover the real you; never experience what a healthy relationship is like; how life-giving and freeing it can be.

If you want to change and discover the real you and live with confidence … remember that if you cling to what got you to this point you will fail to evolve, and you will continue to be the you that you were never meant to be. 

However, if you want to create something that matters, for both yourself and others, you have to start where you are, with who you are and what you have. You can’t just jump into what you want and who God wants you to be. There are lots of small steps that you will need to take.The first being the way you see life, see yourself, and see what you do. To change your perspective you definitely need to push past your comfort zone. Get out of your rut no matter how comfortable that rut may be.

Remember this: Comfort zones are the places where dreams and hope go to die.

So, where others see the mundane and minimize it, you will need to see the possibility and maximize it. You will need to decide to live in “change mode” for the rest of your life, starting right now! You must stop thinking and believing small. I understand that what makes smallness difficult to overcome is that it feels easier and more comfortable than pressing forward into the new you and much bigger dreams. Just remember, comfort zones are the places where dreams and a better future go to die. Where the better you is buried and never discovered. You need to decide that no matter what happens you are going to move forward in the opposite direction to where you are currently headed.

Live fearlessly. Don’t allow past disappointments to abort today’s possibilities. See that everything is working together for your good. Don’t be petty.  Look for the good in everything. Find people – build relationships with people who love you, will stick with you, encourage you, and will be there for you regardless. There are relationships out there that are priceless. But they will be products of your own willingness to press into people, believe in them, love, take risks, and be open to the possibility of friendships and relationships that are open and transparent. 

Begin the journey and be yourself – the real you. Remember, being someone and thus something you’re not is exhausting.