Monday, February 11, 2019

Experiencing Life

Life experiences are at times painful, troubling and disturbing.   It may be hard to pinpoint the exact reason why life seems to be brutally harsh.  Some may ask…

“Why me?” 

“What did I do to deserve this?”  

Life experiences are at times painful, troubling and disturbing due our own decisions or actions.   The tsunami of punishing waves hit hard and frequently.  There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight and trying to ride the storm is tiresome and extremely painful.  Some cry out…

“It hurts!” 

“Stop it!” 

“No more!”

Life experiences are at times pain-free, serene and pleasant.  The bank account has plenty of money, physical health is good and relationships couldn’t be better.  Some declare…

“Life is good!” 

Life experiences change from painful to pain-free – from troubling to serene – from disturbing to pleasant and vise versa.  Keeping oneself from only focusing on the negative life experiences can be extremely challenging. 

The choices we make whenever we are faced with overwhelming negative experiences are crucial.  It is not a time to fly off the handle, play the blame game, drown our sorrows or sleep the days away; rather, it is a times to pause and do the following…

1.  Pray – James 5:13, Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray....”
2.  Trust God – Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart….”
3.  Give it to God – Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden upon the Lord….”
4. Take Responsibility – Galatians 6:5, Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
5.  Don’t be Bitter – Ephesians 4:31, Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

The only person one can control whenever life is challenging is himself or herself.  Getting caught up in self-pity or blaming everyone else or getting mad at God isn’t going to solve the negative experiences or create positive solutions. 

No matter if life experiences are negative or positive, always keep company with God.  Stay focused and as the Apostle Paul declared, “ Be thankful in all circumstances….” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  God is always on the scene and providing exactly what when need to experience life.

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Confronting Bad Behavior

Confronting people isn’t so easy.  A lot could go wrong.  Trying to say the right words at the right time can be a difficult task; especially if the critic is on the defense or doesn’t believe he/she has done or said anything wrong.  There is the expression, “like it or lump it.”  Meaning, one can deal with it or agonize through it.  President Harry S. Truman was credited for saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”  Meaning, if you can’t handle the task, get out. 

Jesus had to confront two of his disciples during and after the Last Supper.  The first was Judas.  He was a money-grubbing kind of guy.  His actions before the supper demonstrated that he would do anything to get rich, even if it meant to sell out a friendship with a man he knew was the Son of God.  Judas was selfish.  Like it or lump it kind of guy.  A conniving fraud that made it look as if he was really into the whole discipleship idea.  He was a liar.  He was a pretender.  He was a con man. 

The second disciple Jesus had to confront was Peter. It was after the supper when Jesus told his disciples, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me….” Matthew 26:31 Peter became argumentative by saying, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”  Matthew 26:33 In the moment, Peter believed it.  He wanted to believe it.  He was determined to get Jesus to believe his ability to “stand the heat!”  But, when Peter is left alone and was tested in his true loyalty to Jesus, the Son of God, he had to “get out of the kitchen.”  Peter failed.  Peter cursed and swore that he didn’t even know Jesus.  The once determined disciple has now become the reality of Jesus’ prediction.   

Confronting can be painful and exhausting.  Jesus proves that confronting isn’t easy; especially with people who will not listen or lie or think they know more than Jesus does.  Confronting is necessary and will ultimately reveal the real truth.  When the truth is revealed, that too, can be painful, as it was for Jesus, but again, it is necessary to get it out in the open. 

Jesus’ model for confronting was to simply put it all out in the open and deal with it head-on.  He never sugarcoated anything for the sake of not offending the one being confronted.  However, he was not rude, nor was he hateful.  When he confronted Judas and Peter, he was calm, gentle, and sensitive.  He never said hateful and demeaning comments, nor did he belittle anyone.  Rather, he stated the facts and dealt with the problems with an open and honest heart and attitude. 

In order for our homes, churches, communities and government to be a better place, we have to learn to sit down and deal with our differences with an honest and open heart and attitude.  The bible is full of ways to deal with difficult people and situations.  The key is applying them with a desire for a positive outcome.  It is true, not all outcomes will be positive, but at least the issues were dealt with and the motives were right. 

Confronting God's way:

“Get rid of ALL bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” Ephesians 4:31

If your brother or sister sins against you, go and show him/her faults, just between the two of you….” Matthew 18:15a

Make every effort to live in peace with all men….” Hebrews 12:14

Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

As we confront, ensure that the heart is right, motive is right, and the desired outcome is right.  We represent Jesus and to stray from his way of confronting people will be disastrous.

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I Want...


What is it that we really want?   We search day in and day out longing to find the missing piece that will bring about the ultimate fulfillment to our lives. 

We want…

Happiness.  Contentment.  Love.  Fulfillment.  Joy.  Worry-free.  Money.  Time.  Peace.  Relationships. 

We don’t want…

Sadness.  Disappointment.  Hate.  Failure.  Depression.  Worry.  Debt.  No Time.  Distress.  Loneliness 

How can we get what will make us happy and content and feel loved and enjoy a fulfilling life and experience inner-joy and not have to worry about life problems and have enough money and feel the inner-peace that relaxes our hectic life and know that there are solid relationships in our lives that we will have someone to talk to or share a life with?   

Getting what we want takes work…hard work.  Some will say that “God doesn’t always give you what you want, but rather, what you need.”  True.  However, wanting is the catalyst of what one will ultimately work toward and will discover along the journey if that is what she needs to fulfill her life. 

King Solomon said, What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?  Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles.  Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea.
Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.” Ecclesiastes 1:3-8 (NLT)

When it is all said and done, life is about seeking God, not self.  There is nothing wrong in wanting to be happy and content, feeling loved, finding fulfillment, wanting joy, having no worries, making enough money, getting time, being at peace and developing relationships.  But, they must not be the totality of ones life in the pursuit of getting what is wanted. 

It is possible that we can worry ourselves senseless in the pursuit of not worrying or lack inner joy or peace trying to make ourselves feel it.  Paul, one of God’s Apostles said it this way, “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. “  Philippians 4:11-13 (MSG)

It is true that Jesus said not to worry.  It is also true that the Spirit will develop within us joy and peace.  The way one experiences a worry-free life, joy and peace is to deepen the relationship with Jesus.  God never said life would be easy, but he did say, “[I] will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

The key to wanting is to know how it will affect my relationship with God, my life and those in my life.  Wanting something or someone isn’t a negative; it is ensuring it is in its proper framework to compare how it will ultimately affect my relationship with God. 

The saying, “Take all you want, but eat all you take” is a good principle to live by in wanting anything in life.  Ensure that whatever you want, isn’t too much, too little or not the right fit.  Measure it will God’s plan for your life and pray often about it.  Don’t let anyone detour you in what you want if you believe strongly God will bless it.

Remember, Be God Controlled!  

Brian     

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Forgiving Isn't So Easy!


Forgiving isn’t so easy!  It is amazing how times I've heard people say, “Forgive and forget!”  Where in the Bible does it say, “Forgive and forget?”  It is true that God said forgive, Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (MSG) and it is true that Jesus said that if we want God to forgive us, we have to be willing to forgive anyone to does us wrong. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” Matthew 6:14-15 (MSG)
Ouch, Jesus! 

How do I forgive the man who raped me or the gang member who murdered my daughter?
How Can I forgive the mom who abused me or the husband who beats me day after day after day?
How in the world do I forgive the one who molested me or the co-worker for lying and ruining my reputation?
How do I forgive my dad for running out on us or the kid who bullied me all throughout high school?

Jesus, you make it sound so easy, but it isn’t!  I want God to forgive me, but the pain…the pain is tremendous.  The hurt is real.  The memories of that day are embedded in my mind so deeply.  I see him.  I still feel the slaps to my face and the punches to my gut.  I was just a child when he came into the room and took my innocence.  He was supposed to be a dad, but he left…he just left without ever saying goodbye. 

Ok, I get it Jesus! You forgave the thugs who beat you.  Nailed you.  Speared you.  Spit on you.  Slapped you.  Lied about you.  Ridiculed you.  Mocked you.  Denied you.  Sold you out. 

But…

No buts.  If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15 (NLT).  Ok, Jesus!  Forgive?  Now love?  You’ve got to be kidding me?  Checkout what my disciple Peter said, Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1st Peter 4:8 (NLT) Personally Jesus I don’t like it!  Forgiving is hard.  Loving someone who beat me, raped me, ran out on us, lied and bullied me isn’t exactly easy to let go and forgive them.  I get what you’re saying, but holding on to the past hurts will not allow you to move beyond where you are in your life.  Another one of my disciples makes a great point, “Love keeps no record of being wronged....” 1st Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Keep no records of wrong?  My memory of that night is deeply embedded in my mind…how can I forget?  The beating I got just because has left me not trusting anyone.  I still see my daughter in that coffin and that will never go away…ever!

No one is asking you to forget!  It is impossible for anyone to forget the horrific acts that have been done; but what is being said is that when one chooses to love, forgiveness becomes a much more doable process.  A relationship with God that is built on trusting him will allow one to work through the painful memories and place all of the hurt and pain and sadness and troubled life in God’s hands. 

Forgiving isn’t so easy!  It is hard.  Going through life with bitterness in ones heart gets us nowhere fast!  Opening the door of our heart and releasing every situation, person or problem that has been endured over ones life time will bring about a relief that will be felt deep within ones soul. 

Forgiving isn’t so easy, but necessary!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Is God Enough?


I’ve had enough!  Enough is enough.  There aren’t enough hours in a day.  Is that loud enough?  I’m mad enough to…  That’s enough for now.  Good enough. 

Enough?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines enough as:  Occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.”

If we really think about it, there are so many things that occur in such quantity that sometimes it takes our breath away.  Various tragedies that we experience fill our mind with enough pain, sadness and misery that it is hard to cope through the day.  Losing a job fills us with enough insecurities that we become consumed with being a “less than kind of person.”  Gaining weight opens the door to simply trying to find enough clothes to fit properly.  Then there is pouring our heart and soul into trying to please someone so much that we feel we can’t do enough to please them or earn their respect. 

Enough is a big word in the scheme of things.  Is enough really enough?  Are we always trying to fill our glass full or is the glass simply enough?  Is it possible that we work so hard to be enough that we grow tried and weary and frustrated and heartbroken and depressed and lonely and afraid and reckless in the pursuit of making others happy? 

Is it ever ok to say, “Enough?” 

I was told once, “I was enough.”  I really didn’t get what the person was trying to tell me.  I actually had to look up the word, enough.  When I discovered that I was fully meeting needs or expectations, it occurred to me that it isn’t what a person does for someone else that ultimately brings people closer together, rather, it is the heart of love that brings people together and that a person can say to the other, you are enough.  Isn’t that wonderful?!  It made my day big time to hear, I am enough!

I am not one who does anything for anyone so that I can be enough for someone to like me.  I do because I thoroughly enjoy helping others.  God wired me that way.  On the other hand, there are insecurities that bombard me in which I need others to fill me with enough positive affirmation to combat the negativities that consume my mind.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  It is challenging, demanding and frustrating to needy so that there is enough positive affirmation. 

Someone also said, “Is God enough?” or “Do you need people more than you need God?”  The response was, sure, God is enough.  Really?  Is he?  Does he fill the void enough?  Does he provide enough?  Does he care enough? Does he love enough?  Does he forgive enough?  Does he….do anything enough?

The Apostle Paul struggled big time in the pursuit of sharing Jesus.  The day he became a Jesus follower, his life changed forever.  He lost friends.  The established Apostles didn’t trust him at first.  He was jailed.  Beaten. Stoned.  Lied about.  Rejected.  Enough is enough for one person to endure, right? 

Listen to what Paul said about God being enough, You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.” (Philippians 4:19-20 – The Message)

The Apostle understood that in negative circumstances you don’t “throw up your hands and shout, ENOUGH, rather, it is being sure that God will take very good care of you…because he is ENOUGH!

No matter what is happening in our lives, God is always enough to get us through the tough stuff.  He has enough resources to aide us.  He has enough connections to provide for us.  He has enough abilities to place someone at our door to help us, love us, and care for us. He has enough of whatever you need to get from one day to the next day.  The question is:  Will you be willing to say, God, you’re enough?

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Running Back to God

The word “control” has become a key word in social settings either in media, politics, coffee shops or kitchen table conversations. 

Every time there is a mass shooting, “control” of guns makes its way back to the debate stage.  News media outlets flood the airwaves to discuss the pros and cons of gun control and debate our nations 2nd Amendment Rights to bear arms.  Social Media become a blistering place where arguments pin friends against friends in their pursuit of winning the gun control argument.   

Gun control isn’t the only issue that takes center stage.  For some, birth control is a huge issue.  For others, drugs and the need to control them is paramount.  No matter what control issue is at the forefront, it is interesting to watch and listen to people become out of control as they do their best to convince others they are right. 

Maybe you’ve heard phrases such as: Control your kids or you’re out of control or the car lost control or I’m tired of being controlled.  The word control is significant and needs to be taken seriously. 

Google’s online definition of control is: The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events.”  Think about the definition for a bit.  “The power to influence or direct…” Is it possible that all of us attempt to “influence or direct people’s behavior” almost on a daily basis?  Is it possible that parents or preachers or politicians or teacher or doctors or news commentators in some way “influence or direct people’s behavior?”

Wait!

How can parenting be lump in the same category as fighting to control gun laws or the birth control debate?  The key is understanding the terminology of the word, “control.”  A parent’s responsibility is to influence and direct [child] behavior for the betterment of the home and society.  Ephesians 6:4 says, Parents, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (NLT)

Influence is key.  Positive influence is vitally important to have godly families, godly communities and a godly nation. 

Legislatively, government can establish all kinds of “control” laws in order to stop the negative influence and madness of mass shootings, gang violence, drug abuse, or unwanted pregnancies; but until our nation sees the value in living a God-controlled life, then our nation will continue to experience the epidemic of out of control people.  

Psalm 22:27-28 says it best, “From the four corners of the earth people are coming to their senses, are running back to God.  Long-lost families are falling on their faces before him. God has taken charge; from now on he has the last word.”(The Message) 

There needs to be a “running back to God” so no one has to fear walking down a city street or going to school or church or concert.  There needs to be a “running back to God” so that the drug epidemic ceases to be problematic. There needs to be a “running back to God” so that our legislators are not tangled up in fashionable trends of social acceptance, but rather, legislating godly values and principles. 

A “running back to God” means that God is the The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events.”  When God is in control, then the mass shootings stop and the drug epidemic ceases to be and people will feel save again to walk down a street without fear or sit in a classroom without worrying if their school will be the next casualty. 

Ultimately there are two things all of us can do now:

            1.  Run back to God!
            2.  Be God Controlled!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian


             
           

Friday, February 9, 2018

Life's Tough


“Rain, rain go away, come back another day!”  I’ve said that rhyme countless times as a kid, especially when there was a big event outside or I had a baseball game or some other activity that the rain would have cancelled it.  

Like rain, there are many things in life that could fit into the rhyme, such as, Pain.  Cancer.  Death. Fear.  Loneliness.  Emptiness. And, the list can go on for miles and miles. 

Who really wants setbacks, difficulties, painful experiences, bad medical news, loneliness or fear?  No one!  No one wakes up and says, “I really hope this is the worse day ever!”  No one calls a friend and says, “I can’t wait to be miserable today!”  No one goes to the doctor and says, “Hey doc, please tell me the worse news possible.”  No one wants bad news, bad days or bad experiences. 

However.

Bad news, bad days and bad experiences are all a part of our life’s journey.  Ok, I get it, this isn’t the most pleasant reading and it is a bit depressing.  King David was no exception to dealing with the tough stuff of life.  He cried out to God and said,  Long enough, God—you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough
I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.”
(Psalm 13:1-2—The Message)

Is it possible that all of us could say, “Long enough, God?”  When is the end in sight?  Where is the relief?  Where is the help?  When is the cure coming?  Stop!  Please let it stop!  No more! 

“Go away, but never come back another day!”

God?  You there?  This is me…the one you created by your own hands.  Did you forget me?  God?  Hello?  You there?  I need you!  I really need you!  Please God, answer me.  It is so tiring to try and pay the electric bill or hope to have enough gas in the car with a little bit of money.  It is frustrating to pray and yet it seems like nothing is getting better.  I want you, God.  I desire no one but you; however, when will the “rain” stop?  When will the heartache stop hurting?  When will the loneliness go away?  When will the gloom find its way out and the sun find its way through the thickness of adversity?

I want to say what King David said, “The Lord is my shepherd, and there is no one I want besides you.” (Psalm 23:1)  I want to believe, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” (Hebrews 13:5—The Message) And, I want to be assured that there is ultimate joy when life is tough and painful and hard and hectic and downright miserable. 

God, the Prophet Jeremiah said, “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3—The Message) Thank you God for reassuring us that you will not leave us in difficult times and that you will give us answers to life’s challenges and painful experiences and hard to deal with situations. 

You, Father, get our full attention and respect.  While it is easy to whine about a lot of things, it is knowing that you really do care, provide and do constant check ups on each of the billons of kids you have that gets us through the rough spots of life.   

Father, Father, Come to stay and never ever go away!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian