Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Are Resolutions Worthwhile?

Did you ever notice that for a few years now, each year seems to go faster that the one before? And this makes 2008 seem to be the fastest one ever.

And here we are at New Year resolution time again---for 2009.

Last week, I did a survey with more than a dozen persons, mostly family and friends, about the value of making new year resolutions, and gleaned some interesting responses. A few persons claimed making resolutions is a waste of time because we soon forget them and go back to our old ways; others felt making resolutions helped steer their thoughts and actions. Some were mildly interested in the idea and a young man in the entertainment business was sure that God would do whatever He wants to do, so why bother about resolutions.

Despite the fact that many people consider new year resolutions to be a waste of time and effort, I do believe resolutions (whether at the new year or any other time) ought not to be considered frivolous, but as necessary tools for exploring our potentials and “the great things that God has prepared for us.”

I am one for making resolutions, not only at the beginning of a new year, but at other times, as well. I believe resolutions are worthwhile because they do three things: (1) they encourage vision, (2) they encourage hope, and (3) they encourage enthusiasm. However, in the midst of making resolutions, it is wise that we recognize that God has a plan for each of us and if we trust Him, He would orchestrate the workings of our desires according to His plans.

Thank God, He does not discredit our human needs and desires, however, He requires that we delight ourselves in Him for their fulfillment (Psalm 37:4). And in all our resolutions for positive change, be they at the new year or at any other time, it is wise for us to remember it is the Spirit of God working His desires for our good through us, not only for ourselves but to make this place a better world.

Only God knows the route to the fulfillment of our resolutions and will lead us there if only we submit our ideas to Him, release them and allow Him to lead us in this dance of life. Our expected goals become more meaningful and fulfilling when we allow God to lead us to them.

Yes, New Year resolutions are worthwhile. Write a list of all the things you would like to accomplish in this new year, pray about them often in firm belief; speak positive words about them and wait to see the goodness of God with whom “nothing is impossible.”

This year, examine your resolutions, and ask yourself: Are they morally right, legally right, spiritually right? Can they be of benefit to your community and the world at large? If you can answer yes to these questions, then reach out for fulfillment of those resolutions, but only in alliance with your heavenly Father who sees and knows all things that are best for us.

And above all, let us all make resolution for becoming peacemakers and to take part in the bringing forth of God's kingdom of peace, love and goodwill.

May the Lord richly bless you with His peace, love and prosperity throughout this coming New Year and always.

Suggested Readings: Psalm 37:4, 145:16, Proverbs 29:18, Jeremiah 29:11.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he'd stuck it out.
Don't give up, though the pace seems slow;
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are;
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit;
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

---Author Unknown

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
---The Bible

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dealing With Decisions

When faced with tough decisions to be made, how do you deal with it? Do you seek the answers from friends and relatives? Do you allow confusion to fill your mind? Do you wring your hands in despair when the answer is slow in coming?

Decision making is a big part of successful living, and every right thinking person is concerned with making right decisions. Every day we are faced with this challenge and there are always various options to each decision we face. Two or more courses of action may seem to be right but we know we can only choose one and face the consequences. How can we know which one is right for us, regardless of whether it is right or wrong for someone else?

It takes wisdom and good judgment to make right decisions and that can only come by being in tune with the Spirit of God. When we are in tune with the Spirit of God, we have the Spirit of Wisdom dwelling within us to guide and direct us into the right paths for our highest benefit. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us: “Trust in the Lord—lean not to your own understanding—in all your ways, acknowledge the Lord and He will direct your paths.” This message is vital, timeless and clear.

At 1 Samuel 30, the Scriptures tell us that David faced a traumatic situation at Ziklag when the Amalekites burned it and took the women captive. David was greatly distressed but in the midst of his sorrow, wisdom came shining through. He did not take matters into his own hands but sought direction from the Lord and he was specific.

At verse eight, David inquired of the Lord, saying: “Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And the Lord answered: “Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail, recover all.” Here we see humility and a willingness to be directed. What can we glean from David’s attitude? We can glean the importance of going first to God in all our affairs, seeking His guidance and direction in all things, great and small, and allowing Him as the Divine Director. But we can only do this successfully when we live in covenant relationship with God as David did.

As we walk in attunement with the Spirit of God within us He envelops our thinking and feeling and brings them in accordance with whatever is highest and best for us. And it is always right. The quality and depth of our attunement with God determines the quality of our ability to act out our parts on the stage of life.

God guides and directs us only when we willingly let go our concerns to Him in deep trust, but only after we have sought His guidance and direction. Psalm 46, verse 10 says: “Be still, and know that I am God.” The word “still” in the Hebrew in that text means, to “let go” or “cause to fall.” When we need God's direction in our affairs we are to become “still,” meaning we are to let go our problems to Him. In other words, we are to allow Him to direct our paths.

One of humanity’s main problems in trusting God is that we somehow think that God does not know our needs and far less knows how to fulfill them; isn't that foolish on our part? In order to successfully trust God and “let go” our burdens and concerns, we must first have a profound faith in Him and confidence in ourselves as His children. Then will He reveal Himself to us as discernment, guidance and direction.

Is there some issue you are facing at this time that is distressing in that you cannot choose which way to go? Lean not to your own understanding but acknowledge God's all-knowing power and He will direct your paths. Bring that issue to God in prayer and in quietness and confidence, ask for His direction and willingly place yourself and your affairs into God's directing hands. Be specific about what you should do concerning your challenges. God will not fail to answer and you should not fail to follow through with whatever He commands. Then let go that issue. Release it unto God.

Back to David. Despite some foolish choices he had made in his time, yet David lived in covenant relationship with God and the Scriptures tell us that “David was a man after God’s own heart” (1Sam. 13:14). His loyalty to God is a good example for each of us to follow.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Book Of Life

This morning, as part of my devotions, I was led to Philippians 4:3, and Revelation 21:27 which says: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth...or maketh a lie...but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” and on my way home from church, I heard a sermon on the radio that dealt with that same Scripture.

At last, during the day, I found time for further Scripture reading and went back to the above mentioned verses and others that dealt with the same theme.

The Scriptures speak of those who reject the book of life as being “dull of hearing” and “hard of heart.” However, Jesus shows that He will confess the names of those who follow His way to the Father and have their names written in the book of life.

When we realize the value of the book of life, it is not easy for us to understand why some people would reject having their names written in the book of life, yet the answer is simple: lack of understanding, stubbornness and going their own way, however the Scriptures reveal that the way of transgressors is hard and keeps them out of the book of really, it is a vicious cycle of choices and consequences.

To have your name written in the book of life is to be in good standing with Jesus who says He is the way, the truth and the life. He also taught that His words are life and if we abide in Him and have His words abide in us, we will maintain that good standing.

On the other hand, we each have our own personal book. Your life and mine are books into which we write every day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. We write into our books with our thoughts, words, deeds and beliefs. And even when, by God’s grace, we make changes in our ways, we are yet writing into our personal book.

When our personal books please God the Father, He writes our names into His book. And His book is for life eternal, not merely a matter of length of days but of a quality of existence that is abundant and divine.

What does it take to have your name in the book of life? The Scriptures teach that we are to “labour not for the meat that perishes” and also that our labour for Christ is not in vain for such acts afford us to have our names written in His great book: the Lamb’s book of life.

Is your name written in the Lamb’s book of life? Are you labouring for Christ in any way that you can? When we work for Him, it is a labour of love that does not go unrewarded (Philippians 4:3).

SCRIPTURE HELPS: John 14:6; Colossians 3:3; Revelation 21:27.
PRAYER: “Almighty God, grant me grace to have my name written in your book and not ever have my name to be blotted out of that book. Amen”
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Our names are written in the book of life when we labour for Christ.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On Being In The Right Place

Do you remember that little ditty: “In fourteen hundred ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue...”?

History tells us that Christopher Columbus left Spain in search of a route to Asia and was disappointed because he did not find what he was looking for, but somehow in his journey, he discovered a whole new world: the Americas. Was it an accident that Columbus did not find what he was looking for? It was no accident that Columbus discovered the Americas; it was by God’s will and design, and God’s timing is always right. It turned out that Columbus was in the right place at the right time, under God’s direction for a mighty revelation from Him.

Like Columbus, we might begin a journey with a certain destination in mind and find ourselves way off course. But you and I can be assured that wherever we are, it is always in the right place God wants us to be, even if it is for the sake of learning one of life’s many lessons.

Sometimes, we do not understand but God sees the big picture and either directs or permits us to be exactly where we are, though at the time it might not be pleasant for us.

Once I was driving in a strange area, looking for an address and things just did not seem right. I thought I had made all the right turns but eventually, I did not see landmarks I was told I would see and realized I was not in the place I should be. It was scary. I actually had to pull to the side of the road, become very quiet and seek God for a leading to find my way.

When I started on my way again, it was not long before I gained a sense of direction and was able to find the place of my destination. Not only that. Imagine my great surprise when, because of driving round and round in that area, I discovered a new and shorter route to get to another place that I travelled to very often. That was helpful because I had reason to be going to that other place very soon.

Did you ever wonder whether you are in the right place? Maybe this concerns your career, your place of residence, or maybe you are in a strange situation: one you are not at all accustomed to. You can be assured that God knows where you are and you can know the reason for being in that place if you would pause and seek an answer from God.

Scripture Help
“Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk...” (Psalm 143:8).

Dear God, help me to know I am in the right place for a revelation from you and help me to hear your voice as you speak to me. Amen.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Birthday 101

Last Saturday evening I attended a birthday party for a grand, old lady, celebrating her 101st birthday. As you can imagine, there were many toasts, speeches and well wishes for the birthday girl. And as can be expected, people were asking her: “What is your secret of your long life?” And Rosa’s response was always: “I don’t know...”

It was amusing to hear the questions asked of Rosa: what did she do to live so long and look much younger than her years? What are the foods she loves and eats? Is she vegetarian? Did she smoke or drink alcohol?

People discussed among themselves what they thought would give long life: the foods we eat, the consuming of alcohol or not, meditation, Bible reading and prayer, honesty and simplicity of mind. Wisely, Rosa did not claim right living, no smoking of tobacco, no consuming of alcohol and the usual verbiage concerning longevity.

This lady, who has seen her great-great grandchildren looks like a person 80 years of age for the most and, by God’s grace, she looks at television without glasses, keeps an intelligent conversation and has survived colon cancer just five years ago.

What makes one person live to the age of 101 and beyond, usually surviving illness, sorrow and difficult times, while others are dying at a much younger age? I have seen people who were ill, in the jaws of death, spat out again for another lease of life. I have seen people who seemed well and just went to bed and never got up again. All of this is a mystery, too much closed for us to unlock.

Concerning old age: despite the usual aches and pains, there are some benefits to old age, for example, many are the life lessons learned and most issues of life are not needed to be speculated upon any more. Too, many elderly folk enjoy watching their family grow, keeping tally of the grand children and great-grandchildren with a sense of self-fulfilment

What is the mystery of old age? What is the mystery of life as a whole? Each of us is a mystery—-our birth, life-existence and death are all parts of the one grand mystery called life that we experience day by day. And hinting at the fullness and mystery of life, Jesus taught that “there is more to life than the things we possess...” (Luke 12:15). This indicates that there is much we do not know about life.

All life is a mystery. In the song “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life,” Rida Johnson Young wrote that she found the mystery of life and knew the secret of it all. The song is as follows:

Ah! sweet mystery of life, at last I've found thee;
Ah! I know at last the secret of it all;
All the longing, striving, seeking, waiting, yearning,
The burning hopes, the joys and idle tears that fall!
For 'tis love, and love alone, the world is seeking;And 'tis love, and love alone, that can repay;
Tis the answer, 'tis the end and all of living,
For it is love alone that rules for aye!

NOTE: The song “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life” was written by Rida Johnson Young and set to music by Victor Herbert.

What is the secret of life? There is no known secret of life—-especially long life. If that were so then there would have to be a secret to a short existence. And no one knows anything about those two occurrences. From the moment we enter this land of the living, our passport is stamped for departure at some time, whether we are aware of that time or not.

The secret and mystery of it all are in our Creator’s mind and hands, and His ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dealing With Procrastination

Did you ever have an important task to do and kept avoiding it? Maybe it was a letter to be written, a phone call to be made or any of the multiple tasks that confront us, day by day. Or it might have been certain steps you needed to take in order to achieve a goal. However, whatever it was, you just kept putting it off till another time with seeming justifiable reasons and excuses, not realizing that procrastination had gotten a hold on you.

Procrastination is one of the commonest deceptions we allow into our lives, complete with its veils and façades for us to hide behind. We procrastinate in many ways, for example, leaving a task undone up to the last minute, avoiding a task completely, doing insignificant tasks rather than what we should be doing, beginning a necessary task and quickly moving off to something else that sabotages our attention.

Often, when we put off major tasks we feel guilty and compensate for our actions by doing minor tasks that could easily wait for another time. This attitude somehow gives us a sense of usefulness, but is the battle won? This is a neat trick we do to ourselves to make us feel productive but the fact is that the main thing to be done still goes undone.

A medieval sage has said: “Defer not till the evening what the morning will accomplish.” And this wise admonishment still stands today, concerning anything from day to day chores to achieving fulfillment of your personal desires and goals.

Procrastination is a learned attitude: an organized delay tactic, and as such, we can learn to overcome it. When we find ourselves doing any of the above we need to be inquiring of ourselves as to the reason for our attitude.

Procrastination often works under the guise of caution or carefulness, yet it is the result of double mindedness and can become habitual. It is a defense mechanism, so strong and natural to us at times, that we cannot identify it for what it is. However, there are often deeper psychological reasons for habitually putting things off which can be fear, guilt, just plain indifference or other issues.

At James 1:8, the Scriptures say: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” And when we examine procrastination, we see that it fits this Scripture for it is from a mind beset with too many conflicting issues at hand.

We see too, that procrastination is a type of rebellion and habitual procrastinators are persons plagued by inner conflicts, continually struggling with double sided opinions, usually over simple matters. One part of their minds says: “Go...” and another part says: “What if I go...then ...” and a litany of negative responses arise.

We all procrastinate at times. Yet, the important thing to observe is how habitual it is, how intense it is, and how we deal with it. Sometimes, we lag in our duties and chores, thinking they are too cumbersome, but thank goodness, when we discipline ourselves, often we do those tasks faster and better than we ever could have thought possible.

How can we overcome habitual procrastination? Here are some practical suggestions:

First, recognize the most important tasks at hand, then recognize your habitual inner self-talk about them. Did you ever notice that often, we actually speak our procrastination into manifestation by making statements like these: “I find it so hard to do this or that task.” “No matter how hard I try, I never can begin doing the things I want to do before twelve o’clock every day...” “I cannot seem to find the time to do this or that task...”

Make a list of things to be done with the most important ones first. A helpful idea is to set down dates and times by which they are to be done. And the classic idea of setting realistic goals stands forever.

When we correct our negative inner self-talk and spoken words, we would find that most of the battle is won. Remember that life and death are in the power of the tongue.

When dealing with procrastination, two vital practices are developing discipline and creating a sense of completion or closure. Therefore, plan your work and work your plan. If your task is a big one, break it down into workable portions and move through those portions, one at a time. Then discipline yourself to complete one task before going to another. It might be surprising to find how easy it is to get your tasks done when you work at them in small, organized steps.

Last, but not least, examine the situation to see if you need help and seek help if you need it. Too often, we try to do more than we really need to.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Overcoming Fear

We cannot deny that fear is one of our fundamental human traits, and every day, we are confronted by many situations that prove this. For example, there is the fear of losing our jobs, our homes, our memory, our lives and much more, and truly, we have little or no control over any of those issues. Our only control in the matter is our choice to take initiative and go to God in prayer.

Fear enslaves our souls, causing us to doubt God’s lovingkindness and anticipate evil tidings. However, at 2 Timothy 1:7, the Scriptures teach that God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. This indicates that God does not want us to live in soul-crippling situations but to come to Him with our troubling concerns and trust Him to work things out.

Nevertheless, there are some justifiable fears we face, for example, the fear of an oncoming vehicle while attempting to cross the street, wild animals approaching us, and devastations like earthquakes and storms, just to name a few. But we can overcome overwhelming feelings of fear such as timidity in standing up for our rights, losing our livelihood, contracting illness and disease, and the outcome of troubling issues in our lives.

Are you living in fear of some kind? Maybe there is a serious challenge in your life and you are afraid that things will not work out favourably to you. Maybe you are afraid of the paths your children are choosing, thinking it can only bring destruction and hurt. It may be any of the many fears we face day by day. Here is a helpful solution: become very quiet and analyze the situation. Then inquire of yourself the true reason for your fear, which most likely, is totally unjustified, and go to God.

How can you overcome fear? Firstly, by recognizing the truth that God did not give His children the spirit of fear, and anything He did not give is not of Him, therefore fear is an enemy to your soul, and you can reject its seeming power over you. Secondly, by recognizing God the Father and Jesus, His Son as being totally free from fear, and affirming the truth of your oneness with them according to Jesus' prayer in John 17:21-23. Thirdly, by releasing your fears to God in communion and prayer, and trusting Him not only for deliverance from fear but also the perfect outworking of the issue at hand.

As we grow in the grace of God, we come to realize more deeply that fear is a deception out of the kingdom of darkness meant to keep our minds off God. And as children of God, we learn to daily affirm our position in Him, put on His whole armour against the kingdom of darkness and walk in the Kingdom of light.

Dear God, help me to realize the truth that greater is your power and love in me than anything in the world, and grant me the wisdom and strength to speak it. Amen.

SCRIPTURE HELPS: John 12:30-32; 1 John 4:4; Ephesians 6:13-18.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: My heavenly Father did not give me a spirit of fear but of power and love, and sound mind. Greater is the power of the Spirit of God in me than he that is in the world.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fret Not Yourself

Among our many human weaknesses, one of the most outstanding is fretting or complaining. A clear example of this is seen in the account of the children of Israel as they journeyed from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land. They were limited in their thinking and behaviour and complained about everything: lack of food, water and physical comforts.

A fretful attitude shows either forgetfulness of the faithfulness of God or a lack of knowledge and belief in His promises and transforming power. However, by God's grace, a fretful attitude can be overcome with prayer and spiritual discipline.

The Scriptures reveal that God hates complaining but loves praises and “inhabits the praises of His people.” And there are always many blessings in our lives we can praise God for.

Are you a fretful person? Here is a little exercise. Spend some quiet time with yourself and speak firmly to yourself as though you are speaking to someone else:

“Every time I find myself fretting and complaining about the things I want and have not yet seen manifested, I shall count it as a sign that I need to recognize the truth that my God is daily loading me with benefits. And I shall pause and count my blessings and thank and praise God for them. I shall praise Him for every cell, every muscle, and every tissue in my body. I shall praise Him for His life coursing through me being. I shall praise Him for the spirit of power, love and sound mind He has given me. I shall praise Him for His love, His mercy and His goodness that endureth forever...”

The next time you become fretful, the Spirit of God will remind you of your spiritual exercise. Then seize the moment to bring that exercise into actuality by praising Him for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do in your life, and fretfulness will diminish as darkness does when light presents itself.

Heavenly Father, help me to recognize your benefits in my life and be thankful for them. Amen.

SCRIPTURE HELPS: Exodus 14:11; Psalm 37:1,7,8; Psalm 68:19; Isaiah 29:24.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: God is daily loading me with benefits and is worthy of my praise.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Celebrate Today

Did you ever say to someone, “Good day” or “Good morning” and the response was: “What’s so good about it?” This response has become somewhat a popular cliché by people who claim to be practical, however, there is always something good about today and everyday for every one.

Today is a good day for you and me, regardless of what we may or may not experience, and it is a privilege to each of us to be glad about it and celebrate it. First of all, today is worth celebrating because God created it and everything He has created is good. And He is in the midst of all our activities today; this is a powerful truth, worthy of our contemplation.

Even if adversity comes our way today, today is still worth celebrating because with faith in our hearts, God will use adversity for our good by turning it around if we seek His presence within it. It is good that we all can learn from our adversities and make changes for better days ahead. Then, like Joseph of the Old Covenant, we will be able to look at adversity and say: "But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good..."

At some point, we might complain: "If today is such a good day, why do I have this or that problem? Why am I sick? Why do I not have enough money to pay my bills? Why do I have so many troubles?" Never mind. Our Father is still in control and will use our adversities to bless us.

Someone has said: "Beyond every dark cloud there is a silver lining" but as children of faith we have a more positive cliché: "Beyond every time of darkness there is a golden blessing." And as we come into the reality of this truth we will see our heavenly Father’s transforming power always at work in our lives.

The secret of enjoying today and every day, no matter what we see, is to be aware that "our heavenly Father works all things for good to them that love Him." And as we grow in faith and understanding we would recognize the "goodness" of each day and the grace of our Father in it.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Today is the first day of the rest of my life and it is a good day, regardless of what I see in it. I celebrate today.

Ask about the workbook: “Breaking Through the Barriers” by Dr. Hernandez. This book can be a helpful resource to you in overcoming fear, worry and anxiety, guilt, instability and much more. Sale price to readers of this blog for the month of June is $25.00 including shipping and handling. Contact New Vision Ministry, P.O. Box 47554, 1530 Albion Road, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9V 5H4 Telephone (416) 744-9745.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Our Good Already Exists

I once watched a documentary on wild life and one of the scenes was a pack of wild dogs chasing a rabbit across the plains. At last, the rabbit ran into a hole for safety; maybe it was a place he knew. The dogs saw the rabbit run into the hole and tried to get into the hole but could not. However, they kept a vigil, yelping in frenzy at the entrance of the hole.

The dogs knew the rabbit was in the hole; they were sure of it. Madly, some of them tried digging the rabbit out, but had to give up because digging was just not their way of life.

As I watched the persistence and excitement of the dogs, I could not help thinking: “Here is a type of strong faith in action. This is something we all could learn from...”

How can we develop a strong faith for the good things we are seeking from our heavenly Father’s hand? The foundation of our building such faith is knowledge——a profound knowledge of God’s promises of healing, restoration, protection and an abundance of good things.

Just as the dogs knew the rabbit was in the hole and tried to reach it, so we are to know that our good of every kind is in our Father’s hands. Jesus taught that “our Father knows our needs and we are to seek Him first and all these things shall be added to us...” This affirms that all we can ever need already exists in God’s kingdom.

I can almost hear you chuckle: “If my good already exists, why do I not see evidence of it?”

For us, a strong faith in the invisible is absolutely necessary for its goods, however we need to move a step further into the process of manifestation——we need to speak positive words about that which we hope to see an evidence of. We cannot seek God for things then go out and speak in a doubtful manner about receiving them. That would be like driving (or attempting to drive) with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brakes.

As we daily nurture the thought that our good exists, it would help us build an unwavering faith “as the substance of things hoped for...” It would be the evidence of things not yet seen.

Whenever you become doubtful about that which you are seeking God’s hand for, just give some thought to the fervour and persistence of the wild dogs at the beginning of our story. They knew where their rabbit was and though they did not succeed in getting him, we can do a lot better in reaching the good our Father has provided for us.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Every good and perfect gift I hope for already exists in God’s kingdom.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What Is True Happiness?

The other day, I met a man who claims to be happy, yet he does not own much of the material comforts common to many people, and it got me thinking: many who are poor enjoy happiness while many who are wealthy have not yet tasted of that sweet nectar.

Happiness is a natural desire for humankind. We all yearn to feel that sense of well-being in spirit, soul, body and affairs but our failure is that we often seek it in ways that are not right for us. Some seek happiness in worldly pleasure, others in acquiring wealth, yet others in acquiring fame and still, many other ways. This shows us that happiness is not a matter of the acquisition of wealth or fame.

The Scriptures teach: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” (Proverbs 3:13). Yes, wisdom and understanding are at the root of our sense of happiness. And they are vital keys to the solutions of the problems we face. These two attributes of God negate patterns of discord, confusion and conflict, bringing us into happiness. To “find wisdom” and “get understanding” mean to come to realize how limited we are in controlling our lives and affairs and that God is in charge always.

Wisdom and understanding promote a spirit of discernment which is one of the greatest gifts of God. This is spiritual maturity at its best and should be our daily quest.

Though we are to take the initiative for change and making choices, yet God is still in control of all things and works through us individually and corporately to bring about a better life for us and the world at large.

What is true happiness?

True happiness is a condition of contentment and harmony that radiates through us from within. It is from above, not beneath. To be happy does not mean that we have everything we want out of life, but that we have such a great depth of wisdom and understanding we are better able to meet life’s reversals in a more positive way. It also means we are at rest within our peace with God and ourselves.

Can we cultivate happiness? How? We cultivate happiness by observing these spiritual principles: firstly, by seeking God for His wisdom and understanding in all our undertakings, secondly, by yielding our human will about our affairs to God, and thirdly, by following through on His directions. Then, as we become willing to be led and taught, the life of Spirit unfolds and we find true happiness.

May the Lord richly bless you with His peace, love and prosperity.

Suggested Readings: Proverbs 3:13, Proverbs 3:19, Proverbs 4:7, Proverbs 8:34, Proverbs 16:20, Proverbs 28:14, Proverbs 29:18.

Thought For Today: The Spirit of God in me is wisdom and understanding and as I live and move in attunement with Him, His qualities touch me and I am blessed.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Getting The Big Picture

Going through a pile of memoirs, I found this thought-provoking poem and decided I would share it with you. It is based on Scripture and being in poetic form, it brings home the truth of God’s provision and our need not to be worried or anxious in a delightful and non-theological way.

—Elizabeth Chaney - (Circa 1859)

Said the Robin to the Sparrow
“I would really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”

Said the Sparrow to the Robin
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.”

The Scriptures teach that God has not abandoned us, but loves us and cares for us, and we are of more value than many sparrows (Matt.10:31). His thoughts for us are always good and He has already provided good and perfect gifts for us. Patiently, He awaits our recognition of Him and following through on His precepts so that we might receive the fullness of His gifts.

When we consider God’s goodness and His promises, how could we not be obedient to ask, seek and knock at His heavenly storehouse for all He has already provided?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: God cares and has already provided good and perfect gifts for us.

Ask about the workbook: “Breaking Through the Barriers” by Dr. Hernandez. This book can be a helpful resource to you in overcoming fear, guilt, instability, worry and anxiety, and much more. It is available at: A Different Booklist, 746 Bathurst St., Toronto, as well as at New Vision Ministry (416) 744-9745.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Brighten Your Day

Yesterday, my husband and I visited a friend who is recovering from a mild stroke in a Rehabilitation Centre. When we arrived at the hospital we were just in time to witness a group of elderly people, all in wheel chairs, participating in therapeutic exercises with an instructor.

I watched as they followed instruction to lift their hands, put them behind the neck, massage around their eyes, massage their cheeks, put clasped hands on their heads and other simple exercises that were quite challenging for some.

One woman, who seemed to be in her late senior years, was so intent on the exercises! She did not just do the exercises for the sake of doing them; there was a sense of seriousness and determination on her face as she went through every motion the instructor gave, some with difficulty. In my mind, I nicknamed this woman, Zesty.

At the end of the exercises, the instructor gave some announcements about the Library Cart that would soon be coming for those who want to read magazines and books. He also announced that there would be a bingo game at 1:30 p.m.

Zesty was keen on the bingo. At the word “bingo” her face lit up and she asked the instructor: “What time is the bingo?”

“1:30 p.m.” was the answer.

And it was not long before she asked him again about the time for bingo.

“1:30 p.m.” was the answer again from the instructor.

It was remarkable to observe Zesty, bent on having some excitement and fun. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she was making effort to lift her spirit. She was determined to rise above her disability and enjoy whatever was available in order to break the boredom and routine of hospital life. Zesty was determined to brighten her day. And her zest for brightening her day inspired me.

I did not get an opportunity to talk with Zesty but I asked my friend about her. He told me: “That lady had a stroke and she is now recovering from it. And though at times, some of us complain about our lot, this lady never complains...”

I thought about myself. I find that because of much sitting at the computer for several hours each day, there is a marked need for daily exercise—nothing strenuous, no barbells or anything like that—but simple stretches morning and evening that would keep my body toned and in good order. Here I am, healthy and able to be mobile on my own, and often covet the time I have to put into my exercise routine which would help me overcome muscle aches and pains that are in no comparison to Zesty’s challenge. And I often complain too!

Watching Zesty's enthusiasm to have her body functioning well again made me realize how we often take the functioning and health of our bodies for granted, moving our limbs how and when we want, and not recognizing this mobility as a gift from God. And for this we should continually be grateful.

And as to Zesty's enthusiasm for brightening her day, I was inspired. As I left the hospital, I said in my mind to Zesty: “Way to go, Zesty.”

Saturday, May 10, 2008

In Honour To Mothers Everywhere

E. V. Lucas, a famous British author, wrote this lovely story which is a kind of parable. He told of a mother who lost her soldier son in the war, and she was inconsolable. “O Lord, that I might see him again,” she moaned, “if only for five minutes, but I wish I could see him again...” An angel heard her prayer and answered: “For five minutes you will see him...”

“Quick, quick,” said the mother, her tears turned to momentary joy.

“Yes,” said the angel, “but think a little. He was a grown man. There are thirty years to choose from. How would you like to see him?”

The mother paused and wondered.

“Would you see him,” said the angel, “as a soldier, dying heroically at his post? Would you see him as he left you to join the transport? Would you see him again as on that day at school when he stepped to the platform to receive the highest honours a boy could have?

The mother’s eyes lit up.

“Would you see him,” said the angel, “as a babe at your breast?”

And slowly, the mother said: “No. I would have him for five minutes, as he was one day when he ran in from the garden to ask my forgiveness for being naughty. He was so small and so unhappy, and the tears were making streaks down his face through the garden dust. And he flew to my arms with such force that he hurt me.”

It is a natural tendency of mothers everywhere to love, nurture and comfort their offspring and this is a reflection of the loving, nurturing and comforting quality of God. No wonder we hear some people recognizing God in their prayers as Father and Mother. His sternness and authoritative qualities are seen as Father and His tenderness, love and caring nature are seen as that of a mother.

Many mothers in the animal kingdom also express those feelings of love and care. Notice the strong feeling of caring and concern when birds use their wings and beaks to arrange their eggs in the nest. Notice too, how they bring food to their little ones and literally feed them. Once, in a television documentary, I watched a mother lion, relaxing while she nursed her cubs. It was very similar to a human mother, relaxing and nursing her offspring. Loving, concern and nurturing their young are natural for mothers everywhere.

Mothers are precious in that there is an indissoluble bond between them and their offspring. And no matter what anybody can do for us, there is nothing to change the fact that our mothers were our first connection with our physical existence in this life. We had been linked with them, nurtured by them, lived in close relationship with them, and brought forth into this world by them.

Our opening story reflects the natural quality of mothers to be needed, depended on and to give comfort. The one thing that mother wished for was to somehow re-live that scene when her son needed her and she would be there for him.

What a privilege it is to honour mothers! And even though many mothers do not always function in the way they were meant to, yet, because of the roles they have played in the earliest moments of our lives, let us honour them all.

Many years ago, in celebrating Mothers Day, it was popular to sing the following song, written by Howard Johnson. Most likely, it will bring back precious memories to you:

M is for the million things she gave me;
O means only that she is growing old
T is for the tears she shed to save me
H is for her heart of purest gold
E is for those eyes that love light shine in
R means right and right she’ll always be.
Put them all together they spell MOTHER...
A word that means the world to me.

A happy Mothers’ Day to mothers and all those who act in the role of mothers everywhere.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dealing With Change

Last Friday evening, on the invitation of a friend, I visited a church in my neighbourhood to a Girls Nite Out event, part of which was a movie on Ruth the Moabitess. This story of Ruth is not new to me, however, the movie made quite an impact on me. It helped me realize there is nothing like seeing a Bible story in animation, well portrayed. Not only does watching the film bring life to the story but it allows one to think deeply on relevant parts of one’s life. This is exactly what the movie did for me.

This story of sorrow, grief, redemption and prosperity was beautifully portrayed on screen. Its simplicity, trust, bonding and kinship came through loud and clear, and moved me to think of a situation of mine that relates to change as well.

As I reflected on Ruth’s change of country and religion, I thought of my personal dilemma of giving up pastoral ministry and moving deeper into my radio and writing ministries for the Kingdom of God.

Years ago, I had felt a call of God on my life, went to Bible college and came to think pastoral ministry was what God wanted out of me. I started ministry with leading seminars and workshops and eventually got into pastoral ministry which went well for a time, then it began to crumble. Painfully, I began to see that such ministry was not for me and slowly came to the point of giving it up.

Giving up pastoral ministry after eighteen years was not an easy decision for me. I had toyed with it for about three years until finally, circumstances dictated that I could no longer carry on ministry to God in that capacity.

Now, through my writing ministry and the spoken word on “The Revealing Word” radio broadcast, I am more used of God in a broader, outreach manner, ministering to more people than ever before and I feel a deeper sense of fulfillment in my heart.

Let us get back to Ruth. This young woman could have become rebellious because of losing her husband, and avoided the company of Naomi, thinking it would help her forget her grief, but in obedience to the Lord’s leading, she went with her mother in law into a new experience and a new, prosperous life. It was a matter of what we commonly call destiny.

I have come to see that when God wants us to make changes, He begins by making changes in our hearts and re-directs our paths. Then there is the actual challenge of giving up what we once cherished, and going in another direction. However, as we learn to trust God, we also learn to yield to the deep urges that rise up within our hearts.

Like Ruth, I followed the deep urges of my heart and discovered that our God is a God of destiny and He leads us to whatever is highest and best for us. I have discovered too, that there is really nothing to fear if we trust God. When we roll our burdens over to Him with the full understanding that He is in charge of our lives it is then easier for us to walk the paths that He has directed for us. We then better understand the ups and downs of the cycles and seasons of life.

Watching that movie on the story of Ruth the Moabitess has blessed me. It has brought home to me the way God works more clearly. He is a God of destiny and plan and trusting Him implicitly is the way to go.

May the Lord richly bless you with His peace, love and prosperity.