“10% Happier”

After he suffered a panic attack on national television, journalist Dan Harris made a change. No, I haven’t read his book on meditation, 10% Happier, but it resonated with me after viewing a documentary on minimalism.

“Ten percent happier”: I like that. For me, lately, that’s a margin out of the danger zone.

After a string of situational changes in recent years, I’m quite behind the eight ball in properly filling the voids: “But My people did not listen to My voice…“So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, To walk in their own devices.”

It took a severe blow, recently, to wake me up! Writing right now, I can hear Jon Voight playing Patrick Gates in “National Treasure”, warning of what can happen if we don’t change the status quo!

So, thus far in 2017 I’m in a new mode: a pro active approach. This means provisions for my weakness, planning, enrolling, engaging, studying, and—most importantly—shaking up the stinkin’ thinkin’ that plays on an endless loop.

I told somebody recently I’m coming out of a “dark period.” I do believe this is true. [Praise God for that. Amen, may it be so!] But for continued forward movement, I’m going to have a real fight on my hands against resuming auto-pilot mode. Thankfully, I’ve never shied away from organization and a little hard work. With the help of God, and “with a little help from my friends,” I’m going to keep shaking things up!

Happy New Year!

 

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Christ, “C”, and Clyde

Everybody leaves.

Everybody.

But in my life remain 3 Constants, my 3 C’s: Christ, “C” (hubby), & Clyde. The Lord will never leave me, and (so far) “C” hasn’t. As for Clyde the camel, he’s a cute-but-cracked sculpture I hold onto because, well, we’ve had him this long…

Everybody leaves. I guess this is why I gravitate to schmaltzy romance movies: the relationship labyrinth leads to an arduous struggle, which—in the final 8 minutes—ends in happily-ever-after.

In real life, however, the labyrinth seems to land me upside-down. It started with my father; then my step-father; eventually my mother, boyfriends, neighbors, siblings, church friends, and finally the kids: the hurt just keeps coming. And, dang it if I don’t shed crocodile tears every… single… time.

However, regarding all this loss, my God provides perspective. Yeah, yeah, you guessed it: Job. But let’s cut to the chase and jump to the last chapter:

—–  “Then Job answered the Lord and said,

—–  “I know that You can do all things,
—–  And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
—–  ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
—–  Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
—–  Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
—–  ‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
—–  I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
—–  “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
—–  But now my eye sees You;
—–  Therefore I retract,

—–  And I repent in dust and ashes.”

So, there we land. Life Happens. What’re ya gonna do about it—not much. Crocodile tears are OK for a short season, but after that it really boils down to idolatry. But with my 3 C’s, my 3 Constants–Christ, “C”, and Clyde, my friends who stick closer than a brother, I’ll find a way to guard my heart, and be like Job, and “retract.”

How about I tie up this post with another good quote: “Life is like a CAMERA… FOCUS on what’s important, CAPTURE the good times, DEVELOP from the negatives, And if things don’t work out, TAKE ANOTHER SHOT.”

 

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Meth House

The other day, a dear friend was lamenting the issues of the world: crime, poverty, politics, taxes, injustice. I’ve been thinking about advice I gave my friend in reply: I asked him to imagine a meth lab—a toxic haven of nastiness wrapped in a chipped, dark, old house across the tracks. That meth house is a picture of the world we live in: it’s over there—even an eyesore on our way through the neighborhood. We pray for it, and pray for protection from it; even find ways to help it. But the meth house is still there—across the tracks. We do not make a habit of going over there and digging in. We don’t ponder its daily processes. We don’t make it our topic of conversation. That wretched meth house, like the world, is a den of fools (or worse), and—except for prayerful ministry, we protect ourselves from it.

Yes, for those in Christ, our house is a different house. Unlike the whirlwind of temporal pleasures spiraling downward, our home is built on God and family, bonded through an unbreakable covenant sealed in blood—the kind of promise that cannot be breached even through generations—being built stronger on truths that produce love, forgiveness, growth, and goodwill.

And there’s more: not only do we do well not to focus on the “meth house” this world has become, but we can actually turn this upside-down: you see, even in a solid house, life tends to toss us curve balls. Which of us has not endured stress, pain, change, or loss?  But if we live in a “peace house,” we can find a way; we can remember we’re cared for forever; we can turn back to proper perspective.  In other words, we can have peace.

“…In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world….”

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Wisdom From a Liberal

I’m thankful for a good friend not afraid to “Share” on Facebook: I might have missed an on-point Vlog to Jonathan Pie’s fellow liberals regarding the USA’s recent presidential election. Pie had a lot of solid things to say, but due to vulgar language, forgive me for the cherry-pick. The thing is, I see his comments as relevant **way** beyond politics. See if you see what I see!

— …given up putting any argument across at all.

— How many times… before we realize that our argument isn’t won by hurling labels and insults?

— When will we learn that the key is discussion?

— … now decided that any other opinion, any other way of looking at the world, is unacceptable.

— When has anyone been persuaded by being insulted or labeled?

— So now, if you’re… against the prevailing view, you are attacked…

— That’s why people wait until they’re in the voting booth.

— We have made people unable to articulate their position…

— It’s time to stop ignoring your opponents, or worse, trying to silence them.

— Being offended doesn’t work anymore.

— The only thing that works is… bothering: doing something. And all you have to do is engage in the debate.

— Stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is evil… and talk to them.

TALK.  TO.  THEM.

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Dead Water

Water: no need for “survival class” to tell us—we need the stuff! And we’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Historically, mankind relied on carefully-placed vessels, or wells dug deep in the desert. Unlike the convenience of our current day, they labored daily to retrieve this essential.

In some cases, the water would grow still, standing, or stagnant. They had a word for it, it was known as “dead water.” When I learned this slang was used at the time the Lord walked on earth, it made perfect sense: it was no accident, then, that Jesus offered the Woman at the Well exactly what was needed: living water! Oh, how we need the living water!

But isn’t this one of life’s ultimate ironies? Here we are, basically nomads ourselves, wandering from cistern to cistern—often bypassing the fresh, glistening Stream—and settling for a swig of the stagnant. We know the Living Water is the Source of all good, but in this dry desert of life there are evil shenanigans afoot—distracting us with deep wells full of dead water: indulgences, self-confidence, popularity, you name it.

The woman said, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not get thirsty…”  Oh, yeah, now that she’d heard about this “living water,” she wanted some! Someone taught this section of Scripture, explaining how there’s a process of drawing this Water: first, she had to realize her need for it; second, she had to ask for it; and finally, the Lord had to give it. I wonder—as we dip into stale cisterns—do we even realize how thirsty we are?

Our Amazing Creator is “for us”—ready to unleash, not just a drop in the bucket, but Oceans!

Oceans of Grace!

His heart is dripping with generosity.

His Spirit is teeming with tenderness.

His love is a broad, breast-stroke that purposed life, death, and life again.

His forgiveness has a breadth as far as east is from west.

His abundance has depth that is always more than enough.

His presence is profusely plentiful and powerful.

So then! Having been benevolently endowed with bountiful blessings and gracious gifts beyond measure, how about a few less stops for dead water?

Such folly is unworthy of comparison to the joy of splashing in what He has placed at our disposal: Oceans of Living Water!

“… let us run with endurance… fixing our eyes on Jesus… seeking the things above, where Christ is…”

….. It’s an ocean. ….. Dive in!

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“Love Is…”

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Regarding this verse, Paul David Tripp comments, “When we forget how we have been loved, it becomes even easier to be comfortable with a failure to love others.”

I could stop here.

(The crowd cheers…)

But I want to take a “Tripp” through his article—slicing and dicing “23 Things that Love Is.” But be forewarned: after I read it, **I** felt sliced and diced.

{Below is an abridged bullet list; for the full content please visit paultripp.com }

LOVE IS…

Willing to have life complicated

…Without impatience

Not critical or judgmental

Encouraging and praising

Resists pointing out minor offenses

Lovingly honest

Humbly approachable

Committed to unity and love

Not concerned with being right

Admitting sin, weakness, failure

Not blame-shifting

Self-examining when confronted

Not defensive

Growing in selflessness, patience, and maturity

Not willing to do wrong when wronged

Looking to overcome evil with good

Looking for the other’s needs

Supportive of another’s burden

Investing time to discuss and understand problems

Diligent to stay on task until solution or strategy

Asking forgiveness

Granting forgiveness

Trusting

Faithful to promises

True to one’s word

Speaking kindly even in disagreement

Refusing to attack another’s character

Refusing to assault another’s intelligence

Unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive

Does not expect another to be the source of identity or purpose

…Refusing to be the source of another’s

Willing to have less relaxation and free time

Saying No to selfish instincts

Promoting unity, understanding, and active love

Appreciating, respecting, and gracious

…even when the other does not deserve or reciprocate

Making regular and costly sacrifices—no strings attached

Unwilling to make a personal decision that weakens the bond

Refusing to be self-focused or demanding

Looking for ways to serve, support, and encourage

Daily admitting to yourself, the other person, and God that you are not able to love this way

…without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.

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I Thessalonians, Abridged

= – = – =

H O W   D O   I   S H A R E   T H E   G O S P E L ?

We give thanks for your work by faith, your service by love, and hope in the return Christ.

We know He has chosen you; for our good news came to you in the Holy Spirit and with conviction.

You became imitators of us and of the Lord, so that you became an example to others; the Word has resounded from you everywhere.

They report how you turned to God and wait for the coming of Jesus, whom He raised from the dead, who rescues us from coming wrath.

In God we proclaimed boldly to you the good news of God amid great opposition—not from delusion, impure motives, or deceit.

God has entrusted us with the gospel, not to gain power and popularity, but to please God who examines our hearts.

We never came with flattery, pretext for greed, nor seeking honor from people.

But we behaved gently among you, like a devoted mother for children.

Having affection for you, we shared God’s good news and our own lives.

We worked night and day not to be a financial burden to any of you.

Remember our unworldly, just, and blameless behavior toward you believers.

We were exhorting, encouraging, imploring as a father does his own children.

= – = – =

H O W   D O   I   L I V E ?

We guided you to live lives worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

When you received the word of God, you welcomed it as the word of God, which is effectually at work in you.

You too suffered persecution from your own countrymen who killed Jesus and the prophets, drove us out, hostile to all people.

They fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last.

We were taken away from you—but you are our victor’s wreath of triumph in the presence of our Lord at His coming.

We sent Timothy so no one would be unsettled by these difficulties.

We warned you we were going to experience persecution.

I sent Timothy to see how you were holding up, for fear that the tempter had tempted you and our work proven ineffective.

But Timothy brought us good news of your faith and love, reporting that you treasure your memories of us.

During all our distress we have been comforted about you because of your faith.

We really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

We continue to pray that we may see you face to face, and complete whatever may be lacking.

May the Lord cause you to overflow in love for one another and for all; so He may establish you in holiness in God’s sight at His coming.

Follow the instruction we gave you by the Lord’s authority—about how you ought to walk; and excel even more.

This is the will of God, that you be sanctified from sexual immorality and lustful passion (as the Gentiles live).

No man shall defraud his brother because the Lord is the avenger in all these things.

God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness.

Whoever rejects this is not rejecting man but God who gives His Holy Spirit to empower you to overcome temptation.

You have been taught by God to love one another. We urge you to excel more and more.

Live peacefully, mind your own affairs, and work—to behave properly toward outsiders, and be dependent on no one.

= – = – =

H O W   D O   I   D E A L   W I T H   D E A T H ?

Don’t grieve for believers who have died. Just as Jesus died and rose again, God will raise them also and bring them with Him.

The Lord will come from heaven with a command shout, an angel’s voice, and a trumpet blast.

Christians who have died will rise first, then those who remain alive will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air.

We will always be with the Lord!

Comfort one another with these words.

The day of the Lord is coming unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.

Destruction will come upon them suddenly, and they will absolutely not escape.

But believers are not in spiritual darkness, that the day of judgment would overtake you by surprise.

We do not belong to the night or darkness.

= – = – =

H O W   D O   I   C A R R Y   O N ?

So then let us not be spiritually asleep like the world; let us keep alert, self-controlled, calm, and wise.

Let us be sober, having put on faith, love, hope, and assurance of salvation.

For God has not destined us to wrath, but to salvation through Christ, who died for us, so we will live with Him.

Encourage, comfort, and build up one another.

Appreciate those who work, lead, and teach you in the Lord.

Live in peace with one another.

Admonish those who are out of line.

Encourage the timid.

Help the spiritually weak.

Be very patient with everyone.

See that no one repays another with evil for evil.

Always seek that which is good for all.

Rejoice always.

Be unceasing in prayer.

In every situation continually give thanks.

Do not quench the Spirit.

Do not scorn instruction.

Test all things carefully.

Hold firmly to that which is good.

Abstain from every form of evil.

= – = – =

F I N A L   E N C O U R A G E M E N T S

May God sanctify you through and through.

May your spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faithful and absolutely trustworthy is He who is calling you; He will do it.

Brothers and sisters, pray for us.

Greet all the believers with a holy kiss as God’s family.

Have this letter read before all the congregation.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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