Creating Peace…Unless You’re Dead

If you’re dead, there’s no reason to read this blog entry.  But, if you’re still breathing, you’ll want to discover this secret that is too seldom used by too many.

When you find yourself stressed out, hemmed in, or jacked up in some other of a thousand ways, do what God designed you to do…CREATE!

Before you bounce out of this article because you don’t think it will interest or apply to you, WAIT!

Creativity is as creativity does!  Here are a couple of the reasons many people’s eyes glass over when being creative is the subject:

  1. A misunderstanding that the “creative gene” is limited to artistic types like musicians, actors, authors, and the like.  WRONG!
  2. Things playful and enjoyable are for kids.  Once one becomes an adult with serious adult problems, anything but solemn seriousity in approaching life’s significant issue is a waste of time.  WRONG!  <I know seriousity is not a word…but i don’ care :)>

God Fashioned and Breathed His Creative Nature Into Everyone

When God made mankind, He did not reserve the quality of creativity for just a unique group that would become the artsy-fartsy folks.  The only differences among us is how that creative capacity is expressed.

He made some with the desire and ability to fashion with their hands.  Others love to work with numbers.  Still others have an organizational capacity to take a messy environment and creatively turn it into clean and neat.  The examples are as varied as talent and gift capacities.  The “life blood” of one’s unique personal make-up is known as creativity.  It’s the “creative spark” that ignites you and fulfills a practical need.

Play Is Serious Business

Working by the sweat of one’s brow was a part of the curse that came upon mankind as a result of disobedience.   I’m convinced that the pre-redemption “sweat of the brow” mentality is the vampire that’s been sucking the life blood out of God’s intended Abundant Life of God’s Kids.

The Kingdom of God being like children is a metaphor for many, many living qualities, but I believe that “play being serious business” is one of the key points of us being reconciled to Kingdom life and ways.  We are called to enjoy (infuse with joy) any challenge that faces us.  We have the ability, by His Spirit, to rejoice (re-joy ourselves) by drawing on Who He is.  Otherwise, we may be redeemed in doctrine, but still struggling through life with a curse mentality.

What Do I Do When Faced With A Challenge?

I play.  I create.  I plug into my God-given type of creative flow.  It settles me.  It elevates my “aliveness.”  And somehow I can’t explain, the creative flow snags solutions, out of the invisible.  In the playful peace I find a deeper connection to God than I do through a conventional understanding of prayer.   Actually, I think that real prayer and creative flow are deeply intermingled.

It took awhile for me to adjust.  I struggled with feelings that I was wasting time.  But “proof is in the pudding.” (Western idiom…sorry….lots of my readers are from all over the globe). 

Today, I live in more peace.  I enjoy more solutions.  I sense a more profound connection to to God and the life He has given me to live.

Do you resonate with this perspective?  How do you think you might approach your life with more of your creativity?  Please comment.

I get a “charge” out of visualizing quotes.  Here are some recent examples that helped settle me.  Nothing artistically profound.  Just simple Keynote projects on my Mac.

Revelation.001

Fear.001

Live In Christ.001Don't Water Your Weeds.001

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Forgiveness

forgiveness-jaIs there something beyond or better than the choice and act of forgiveness?  I’d like to share some thoughts with you on finding the peace of that place.

As I’ve considered and attempted to practice what I’m suggesting here, it’s not from a doctrinal definition, or scriptural argument.  I’m not – nor do I desire – to split hairs on meanings of words.  But, I have found a “concept of truth” that’s been very helpful to me.  I hope it will help you in your journey with relational wholeness.

We all experience wounds from unkind – even malicious – words and actions of other people in our lives.  In some cases, the bottom line is that you and I have been overly sensitive or offend-able.  We’ve made the proverbial mountain out of a mole hill emotionally.  However, we’ve all probably suffered words and experiences that were more devastating.

I heard the testimony of a lady that had died from cancer and ultimately returned to her physical body.  Through a process of five weeks, her tumors totally dissolved and, today, is completely whole in body.  One of the amazing parts of her experience was an “upgrade” in the area of understanding forgiveness.  She says that what became real in her time “outside of her body” extended on into daily life.  It wasn’t only meant to be a reality “on the other side,” but has the potential for being lived out in our “now.”

In the physical death state, she found herself looking at things that had happened to her that had caused a great deal of pain.  Issues that, on earth, she’d not been able to resolve in her emotions.  Ie: Not been able to forgive. 

As she saw these events re-happening, she suddenly also had a kind of “understanding.”  She, then,  also realized that if the roles had been reversed and her offender’s life story had been her life story, she would more than likely have said or done the same painful things.  Therefore, her conclusion toward those people was that there was no need for forgiveness.

Jesus said on the Cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  To me, those words of Jesus grasps the same idea.  He’s asking God to forgive them.  He’s not saying it’s not necessary.  However, he does say, “Don’t lay it to their charge.  They didn’t know what they were doing.

I’m not saying there aren’t other questions that come up.  However, I’ve found a fresh ability to release folks when I make the same choice by asking the Lord to help me put myself in their shoes.  I’ve found it profoundly helpful to say, “…because they didn’t know what they were doing.  And, I may have done the same thing myself.”

Again…this proposal doesn’t answer everything.  It’s not meant to.  But, please consider how it may contain wisdom for you in at least some of your circumstances.

What do you think?  Please comment:

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Hope Doesn’t Work

Torn HopeLast time we discussed the fact that faith doesn’t work if there’s no hope.  However, hope doesn’t always work, either.  There is a very specific reason that I want to look at in this post.

Last time I gave you fresh understanding on how faith and hope work together…and…< swish >  there goes the rug.  What do you mean that hope doesn’t always work??

Hope Must Have The Correct Focus

chasing-butterfliesThere are times when I’ve caught myself being a “confident feeling” chaser.  But, when my focus was on chasing the feeling, it turned out much like chasing butterflies.  It doesn’t work out.  The butterflies very often seem to be practicing their wind sprints.  They are just as easy to catch as nailing jello to a tree on a hot day. (I’ve used that metaphor before, as you may remember…cuz I like it :))

The Focus Must Be God & His Character

Looking to our emotions to see whether or not they are producing confident feelings will always disappoint.  The object of re-establishing hope daily is not the same thing as “pumping ourselves up” every day.  That’s not the same as refreshing hope.  And, that kind of “wishful thinking hope” won’t work.  It.won’t.produce.

God is the author of what we call hope.  It’s poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit as we look to Him and remind ourselves of the faithfulness of His character.

We discover the re-filling of hope as we re-focus our eyes – like Peter in the storm – on Jesus.  That’s the kind of hope beyond hope that attacks and gives confidence to actions of faith.

Gary

Faith Needs Hope

Hope

You may be thinking right now that you had so much faith yesterday.  Today, you seem empty. You feel like your faith has evaporated.  You’re fearful, stressful, and struggling. You wonder,   “How did I loose my faith?”  That’s what I want to look at today.

If you’re like me, I used to think of faith as having confidence in something, someone…God…His Word.  Then I discovered that confidence is not really the same thing as faith.  In fact, more often than not, we lump the words faith, trust, and believe all together as the same thing.  They aren’t.

Confidence is “Hope”

The Greek word translated hope is ejlpivß (elpis).  The definition of elpis (hope) is “onfident expectation or anticipation.”  The problem is that that’s what people normally mean when they use the word, faith.  Without hope there is nothing that faith will act upon. Faith is a course of action based on the hope that a person has.

Abraham Hoped

I used to be a bit confused by the words that Paul wrote in Romans 4:19, that Abraham didn’t weaken in faith when he considered his own body.  What about going in to Hagar?  It certainly looks to me like there was some fluctuation of faith when he did that. Not to mention other things. Yea, but not so!  Read one verse earlier (v.18), “In hope he believed against hope…”

Faith Needs Hope

Weakening not in faith = He and Sarah kept on doing what you do to have children. Yuh get my drift??  Abraham and Sarah’s continued in sexual relations.  That’s called faith.  It was based on the fact that Abraham had hope beyond hope in God’s promise.  Nothing mystical here.  And, faith is always a practical action that naturally comes from having confidence in God and His Word.

Lack of Faith is Not Our Problem

Hope is not wishful thinking.  That’s what it’s often been reduced to in contemporary Western civilization..  We hear, “Don’t get your hopes up.”  The truth is…that’s EXACTLY what we need to do.  Have our hopes as high and strong as possible.  The lack of faith is not our problem.  Our dilemma is a lack of sufficient hope.

Hope Evaporates

I don’t know if “evaporation” is the most accurate way to describe it.  But, practically speaking, the heat of daily cares, and a thousand and one other things is a drain on hope…or…that’s the way it affects the emotional part of our beings.

Fan the Flames of Hope Daily

Draw daily on positive God stories and promises.  Acknowledge your confidence in Him – on purpose with your voice and with your heart.  Start each day choosing Hope in Him.  Actions (small, medium, and large) will logically and practically result as the fruit of hope.  That’s called faith.

Hope Thou In God

David said in Psalms 42 and 44, “Why are you cast down, my soul, HOPE THOU IN GOD…”

Invest More In Hope

Now, it’s your turn.  Let us hear from you in the comments.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Back But Never Really Left

here-i-am-to-worship-for-webBeing “nit-picky” about the perceived spaces in your hold on the Lord and His hold on you is not helpful.  More times than not, you feel guilty and unfaithful…but God sees you differently.

Last night on the TV show, “Dancing With The Stars,” one judge marked a couple down for there being too much space, at times, in the frame of the dancing partners hold with each other.  On the other hand, the other two judges didn’t mark them down at all because – as they said – “That’s just being nit-picky.  Even professionals develop spaces on some of their quick moves from one step to another”

There are imperfections in life.  There are distractions galore.  Some of the diversions are draining.  Others are empowering.  They draw our attention to lean this way and that.  At times we find ourselves leaning more into God and at others times we are giving the focus of our attention more to a different source.

But more often than not, even though we think so, we haven’t gone anywhere in relationship to our hearts with God.  We are in the same fixed place of faith as always.  The “lean” of our attention shifted, but not the fix of our feet. We may feel like, “God I’m back” But truthfully you never really left.

(Instead of feeling like, “I’m back”)

Let your heart say,

  • Here I am still worshiping.  Not always with the type of undistracted worship you’re so worthy of but here I am.
  • Here I am still worshiping.  Incapable of loving those in my life – our could be in my life – as they need to be loved.  But…here I am.  I do love you.
  • Here I am still being bathed in Your goodness.
  • I’m here.  I’m scared.  I’m struggling with things I don’t have to.  But…
  • I’m still here…with You…

I’m here.  Here my heart’s song of worship.

There’s peace in knowing this grace filled reality.

There’s fresh strength here.  There’s renewed strength here.

And, God is saying to you, “You may think I’m now back…but I never really left you.”

Gary

 

 

“Here I am to worship.  Or at least, here I am not capable of the type of worship you’re so deserving of.  But I’m here. Here I am seemingly incapable of loving these children the way they need to be loved.  But I’m here. Here I am soaking in all this goodness you’ve given me, but distracted.  Still here though. There’s so much comfort in that.  When I have nothing to give, nothing to impress God with just showing up is enough.  I’m here.  Here I am very scared.  At least it’s honest. Thank you God for accepting me here.  I will be here.  Here I am in the beautiful.  Here I am in the ugly.

Here I am.

 

 

Panic Attack Solution

cartoonSome twenty years ago, I suffered from panic attacks.  I mean…I’ve never experienced emotional anguish like that before or since.  Even though I was told I would never be free, I have been for nineteen years.

I’ve shared the testimony many, many times over the years.  The two main points that were my solutions were these:

  1. The love of my wife.  Even though I’d shared some very scary details with her (hearing voices that told me to kill her), she never acted afraid of me…although I’m sure she felt fear.  Instead, whenever she could tell I was troubled, she’d talk to me, love me, and embrace me.
  2. Mega-Dosing Psalms.  When I would feel the “fight or flight” emotions and imagine threatening images and blasphemous thoughts, I would open up my bible to the Psalms and begin to read.  I didn’t try to study or even think about the words so much as intentionally connect with God by taking in His words.  A peace would settle over me within a fairly short period of time.

HannahToday as i was reading a blog by Hannah Colella, a Canadian internet friend of mine.  It is entitled, “Laughing at Lies.”  It gives some excellent counsel on how to handle the lies of the devil.

While I was commenting, I suddenly realized something I did with the fearful images that would come into my mind during my previous panic attacks.  I would choose to turn those images into cartoon characters.  It worked.  The image suddenly became laughable and peace settled over my mind.

As I’ve shared my testimony about victory over the mental illness of panic attacks, there have been a surprising number of people who’ve come up to me and said they’d known the same experiences.

I’m posting this today because I want you to know that panic attacks do not have the right or power to imprison you!  I know first hand that freedom is within your reach if you don’t already know it.

Do you have any encouragement to share?  Please do so and help someone else know that victory can be theirs, too.

Gary

Discovering Peace In The Storms

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Unrest all around is the reality of the days we’re living in.  One tragic event after another on a national level as well as in our personal lives.  In some cases the turmoil is catastrophic.  On a personal level, the events are sometimes best classified as “annoyances” but peace is still the need.

Whether yours and my need, at the moment, is large or small by comparison, there is a place where peace is found.  That peace is hidden in plain sight.  It’s the rule of the Kingdom of God that is firmly established within each Jesus Believer.

We seek for solutions.  That’s the right thing to do.  But, solutions are not the source of the peace that we are promised by Jesus…

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27

You and I have the peace we need.  Right now.  For the receiving.  Breathe the air of peace from the center of your being.  It’s from the supernatural place.  Breathe it by faith in His promise.  Connect to Kingdom peace.  It’s your free gift.

Gary

 

 

 

An Effective Repentance Trigger

Trigger-Thumb-Image

Saying at an altar or in prayer that you are a sinner is not the repentance God speaks of in the Scriptures.  Repentance.  Effective repentance.  That’s what I want to share today.

The classical Greek word, “metanoia” (repentance) meant a change of mind about something or someone.  It’s thinking differently.  As Graham Cooke says, “It’s thinking a better thought.”  Once Latin translations were introduced, repentance was the English translation of the Latin word, paenitentia.  Acts of penance.

The emphasis on acts of contrition may produce temporary results, but remorse is emotion driven.  Without a change in thinking, the hamster wheel effect will result.  Cycles of contrition will be the fruit of daily life.  That’s not what I call effective repentance. 

However, just thinking righteous thoughts doesn’t guarantee righteous acts.  So, how does one discover life changing repentance?

The process of true, authentic repentance contains the idea of actions based on right thinking.  Let me share with you what I discovered as an effective “trigger” that right thinking into right living.

The simple phrase:  “In this moment, with this temptation, I make a better choice. 

I Make A Better Choice…

Instead of “hand to hand combat” with the temptation.  Instead of vowing to not give in, I take the route of making a better choice instead of fighting a defensive battle.  I go on the offense.

I actually wrote about this not long ago, but I’m saying it again, here, with a different approach.  It’s past time that we got off of the defense and on to the offense.  It’s time to rule in life with positive, righteous actions.

Wha-da-ya-think?  Does this help?  Let me know.

Gary

Rehearsing His Reputation

reputationWhat do you do when things are not happening or resolving the way you’ve hoped, desired or prayed for?  That’s what I want to touch on today”

In Psalm 103:1, King David speaks to himself with these words, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”

If you know David’s story at all, you know that he experienced more than his share of turmoil and turbulence throughout his days.  His innermost declarations were the reflections of experiential reality with his God. 

In that one verse we find one of the most important and powerful keys to our own ability to weather the abundant storms of life.

Let’s take a deeper look at what King David was singing to His soul:

[I say "singing to his soul" because that's what the Psalms were and are...Inspired Songs]

  1. Bless = To speak well of or give praise.  David commanded his thoughts, emotions, and will to speak well of the Lord.  In fact, twice in the first sentence of the first stanza.
  2. All that is within me.  He “doubles down” by expanding his command to go beyond his soul parts to everything that makes up the “who of him.”  When i pray this, I also name anything physical and emotional that is ill at ease.
  3. Name = Reputation and Character.  It played a much bigger role in Hebrew culture, but we, in the West, also elude to someone with a positive reputation and character with phrases like, “He/she can be trusted.  He/she has a good name.”
  4. Holy with the name indicates that God’s name (reputation and character) are totally and uniquely above reproach.

Our God has a reputation.  It goes beyond saying that He is mighty and all powerful.  He has a reputation of character that He will never leave you or forsake you. 

You probably say, “Yes!  Amen!” to that as a statement of fact.  But, let’s probe a little deeper into your soul with a question.  If you believe that He will never leave or forsake you, why do you question that He might let you “slip under the water and drown” as He stands right there and watches?

God’s reputation and character (His Name) is that He is a deliverer and restorer.  Talk to yourself about that.  Rehearse the stories of His delivering and restoring reputation from the Scriptures.  Remember and rehearse your personal history that demonstrates His reputation and character. 

One more tasty tidbit:

The word, remember, doesn’t simply mean to call back to mind information about an event.  It literally has the flavor of “act again on my behalf in that same way.”  When men and women of God called upon Him to remember them, it’s not like God had to be reminded that they exist.  It’s a call to “do it now as it was done then.”

Rehearse His reputation.  It will change your day!

Did this help? 

Gary

 

 

The Jesus Life Is Like A Game Of Checkers

checkers-corbismkbHow is life like a game of checkers?  Well let me tell you.

I was minding my own business as I turned onto 7th Ave off of 19th Street in Moline, IL.  I had just started praying one of my favorite Bible scriptures, Psalm 103:1-5.  I had just gotten to verse 4 and was declaring, “You crown me with loving kindness.”  Right at that moment I saw of vision in my minds eye.

I saw a checker board while at the same time perceiving a voice saying, “King me.”  This inner image came unpremeditated out of nowhere.  Therefore, my best guess was this was a spiritual touch of the Holy Spirit.

In nearly an instant, I also knew it was a revelation (inner clarity) of how life in Christ is designed by God to be.  Many of those reading this right now are experiencing the hard stuff of life on planet earth.  I share my vision here that it might become fresh inner clarity for you.

In the game of checkers, the object is to get one’s single checkers to the back row of his/her opponent without their checker piece being taken first.  Once that happens, the person declares, “King me.”  Just like the picture, the single piece is doubled.  It’s now been crowned with greater power of movement on the board.  Plus, once a king is made, the other single pieces can no longer take that piece.

The word translated loving kindness is a Hebrew word that stands for a special, unrelenting, persistent, merciful, love and bond that God has for His people.  It is a word that is not used indiscriminately for the kindness of one person to another, in general.  It’s the kind of care and provision that is given to those who are bound together with one another in everlasting covenant.

In this checker board vision, the Holy Spirit was picturing the reality of your and my life in Christ Jesus.  He has “King-ed us” with His unique royal crown that gives us the ability and right to “reign in life through the One Christ Jesus.” (Romans 5:17) Regardless of your circumstances today, reality is (contrary to what it may seem) “you are the head and not the tail.  Above only and not beneath.” (Duet. 28:13)

Be re-couraged by that reality.  Go ahead.  Move today with the heart of a King.  You are.  Kings fight battles, and the King of Kings always wins.  He has crowned you as His Co-Regent.

Gary