Maturity Is Worth It

Many people face situations that, to them, seem insurmountable. What they are facing is beyond them and their ability to solve it.
Yet I often see people facing problems that I can see the potential in them to solve or overcome. They just haven’t come to maturity yet. I can see that when they mature they could solve the problem easily. But they can’t seem to see that for themselves.
When an area of weakness, immaturity or ineptness comes to light in someone’s life there are various responses:
Some are hopeless. They see the problem and give up before even trying to mature. They don’t believe they could ever change for the better.
Some are condemned. They just see themselves as guilty and rejected so, again, they don’t try.
Some are challenged. They see their weakness and have a self-will that says, ‘I don’t accept that! I can change that.’ These people move into action to bring about change within themselves.
Some just forgive themselves. They see that they have a weakness, but decide to just accept that they are that way instead of changing for the better. Sometimes, we forgive ourselves too much which causes us to be deaf to the pleas for us to mature.
I want to encourage you to see, that coming to maturity in various areas of your life is worth the effort. When you mature, it diminishes the size of problems in how you see them.
So my encouragement to you today is simple:
Grow Up!

Processing Your Morning Thoughts

Last night before I went to sleep I sat down with my laptop and spent some time journaling, talking to God. I write down what I want to say to him, then I listen to hear what he wants to say to me. I write it down so that I can read it, discern it, keep a record of it, let it strengthen me, encourage me and comfort me. So last night was really sweet; the Lord was speaking some pretty neat things and personal approval and affirmation. I felt so good about my relationship with Him. So I went to sleep peaceful, happy, very contented. Its easy to sleep good after all that.

When I woke up this morning my first thought was unsure, I wondered, ‘How am I doing?’ I was presented with an opportunity to pursue getting out of condemnation. ‘I must be guilty about something!???’ But then I remembered that God is not mad at me. I remembered where we left off last night.

I remembered.

Condemning thoughts are not from God. He may convict you about something He wants to teach you and have you change in behavior or direction. But he won’t tell you you’re no good, hopeless or helpless. He won’t put you in a mental state of being unaccepted. He is a gatherer. He wants to gather people close to Himself. He wants to cleanse them of all guilt so there is nothing hindering a free flowing relationship. He loves you.

He wants you close to Him.

So when you wake up in the morning get control of your thoughts. Stay convinced of the fact that God actually likes you. He wants you close to Him. He wants you to know that Jesus’ forgiveness of your sins is all you need to come close to Him without any guilt.

We’ve got to learn to relax in this state of being forgiven and accepted by God and let ourselves get to know Him.

This has been His desire from the start.

So when you wake up in the morning choose your thoughts wisely. Let them tend toward peace, acceptance, forgiveness and union with God. He’s not mad at you. He loves you. Have a good day with Him.

Negativity

Negativity can be poisonous. It creates an environment where fresh new ideas are afraid to come out. They run for their lives. They won’t dare to show themselves in a negative environment. Fresh, creative ideas need a friendly atmosphere where there is acceptance, consideration and hopeful thinking.

If you don’t believe things could get better why would you accept something that might promise some improvement?

Strong criticism shuts everybody up except for those who are willing to be quite vocal with their negative talk. It’s more of the same. Its like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Say its bad and its getting worse and voila! Surprise, surprise! Look what happens: things get worse.

Negativity is like gravity it always pulls you down. Well, some may say, it helps you keep your feet on the ground! If you really want to submit to gravity why stand on your feet at all? Why not just lay down?

Negativity pulls you down. Resist the gravity. Stand up. Climb up. Jump up. Get up. Lift up. Speak up. Shout it. Give resistance to gravity. Resist negativity.

Can You Fly Too?

How long have I wondered what it would be like to fly. I have had dreams in which I could jump really high. Just any time I wanted I could jump up and get something or jump up and look at something, as high as I wanted. But the process has happened in my dreams so many times that I have had those weird moments when I’m awake when I wonder if its really true. Could I really jump as high as I want? Is it just a dream? Or has God been trying to train me for something? I sometimes feel like the processes I’ve experienced in repetitive dreams have been the Lord trying to lay some new roadwork in my thinking.

Many years ago I had a dream that I was jogging/running down a sidewalk when I just decided to jump up and float on the same path just two or three feet above the sidewalk. So I did. I was still going the same pace, I was just floating. I was able to stay aloft as long as I wanted. Now remember this was a dream.

Years ago my son, Mark, had been hearing me tell these stories at the dinner table or at our family meetings and he didn’t seem to grasp the fact that these were dreams I had been talking about. At our old church one day I was called upon to close the service in prayer. After I finished the prayer and dismissed the people Mark came running up to me very excitedly and said “Dad, wait! Show them how you can fly!” I had described my dreams so vividly that he perceived them as reality. That’s not altogether a bad thing. He still has that heart of simple faith.

In one of my dreams I was teaching a class where there was a platform in the front of the room. So, (remember ‘in my dream’) I wanted to demonstrate to the class how I could fly. I stood up on the platform and jumped off, simply floating, like a balloon, gently to the back of the classroom. As I came to the back wall I had lost most of my altitude, I was almost to the floor. So, I pushed off the back wall, pushing myself up a little bit so I could return to the front of the class. I came back to the front of the class and at will I just landed. End of dream. Its amazing how much rest there is in this state of flying or floating – that speaks of the rest of faith.

Another time (in my dreams) I was running and then floating above a sidewalk and there was a right angle coming up in the sidewalk so I wondered if I would be able to turn right while I was floating/flying? When I got to the turn I easily made it without effort and continued on. This flying thing is fun. Its adventurous. It is stretching my paradigms. Its giving me some new thought processes.

I was speaking with a friend, who could be considered a prophetess, (this is real life now, not a dream) and shared the dreams with her. She looked shocked when I told her these things. She said excitedly, “Do you know what this means?” I said, “No, I’ve just been enjoying them.” She said, “God is trying to tell you that whatever you set out to do, nothing will be impossible for you. You can do anything you want to do.” So, I was pretty excited about that, but if you know the word of God, you know that she didn’t give me anything that wasn’t already written in there to all believers. Yet I knew these dreams were from God. He was purposefully giving them to me so I would wake up in this area of faith – not for flying but for faith

God desires to bring His Word, His words and His truth into our lives and that they be so real, so encouraging, so believable that you can walk in what He says.

Thank you Lord for these dreams. Thank  you for training me in these dreams to believe you, to believe your word that all things are possible to those who believe.

He wants to stretch all of us. He wants to grow us up. He wants to put things into our hearts that will make our futures more satisfying, happy, fruitful. I’m loving this life. I really love the Lord.

Does this kind of talk make you wish you had experiences like this? I hope so. I write these things only to share with you and hopefully induce into you a hunger to know God. Seek Him. Draw near to Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. To show you who He is. The word of God says that He is no respecter of persons, meaning He doesn’t like me more than you. (If you’ve been seeking Him and haven’t had wild experiences like I’ve described it really could just mean that I’m slower than you. Truthfully, some people just get all they need from the Word.)

If he will reveal himself to me, ask Him to reveal himself to you. Open the Word, seek him out. Listen to good preaching/teaching that reveals His goodness. You were created to hunger for this. When this hunger gets satisfied it is almost base, in the sense that it feeds a core instinctual need. God made you so He could fit inside. You are his hiding place. Let Him dwell in you. Let Him love you. Let Him train you for great things in your future. God bless you my friend.

Getting To Jesus

He climbed a tree. He was short of stature. He wasn’t a tall man, but he was hungry. The life he’d been living had its perks but peace wasn’t one of them. Taking & cheating are soul-diminishing practices but it can make the bank balance go up. If you’re hungry for money and pursue it you should pray you won’t be successful. The leanness of soul that it will produce in you is actually painful.

That’s where this man was. He was a taker. A cheat. Full of himself and his own greed, but who was this new fellow? His life was a constant outflow. He was just giving. Compare a drain to a fountain. That would be Zacchaeus and Jesus. Jesus just overflowed and people were attracted to him. Zach was always on the take and people fled from him. It’s a lonely life being on the take. There is no one to enjoy all of your ill-gotten gains with. Oh he was rich alright, but not in things that would satisfy his soul.

Now he was hungry. He saw Jesus. Heard about how He operated. Was intent again on getting what He wanted. He wanted to see Jesus. So he climbed the tree to have his way. But this day he got more than he bargained for.

The Giver came right up to the tree that Zacchaeus had climbed, he looked right at the Taker and said, Zacchaeus come down from there for I’m going to eat at your house today. Have you ever told someone that you are going to eat at their house? I’ve never been so bold. Now Jesus was not asking. He was telling the Taker that He was taking from him. Now this was more than he had bargained for. The Taker was being taken by the Giver!

So Jesus goes to Zacchaeus house for dinner and Zacchaeus is so excited that he repents and decides to give back the things he had taken. Some even four-fold. Jesus said to him, “This day salvation has come to this house.”

Now how did the Giver bring salvation to the Taker? By getting him started in the giving process.

Well, my friend, is your center self or others?

Are you a fountain or a drain?

I call you Giver!

Short People

Do you remember the Randy Newman song called “Short People”? The words say, “Short people got no reason to live.” This morning, I woke up with that song in my mind, but for a reason you might not expect.

You see, I was short with my wife last night. Now if you’re not from America you may not understand what I mean. When I say I was short with her that means that I was short-tempered. It means that I was short of the fruit of the spirit. It means that my responses toward her were not full of grace. I was less than kind, maybe even mean.

My Wife

Now I love my wife. She is an amazing blessing in my life. She’s beautiful, thoughtful, helpful, fun to be around, she works hard, she’s always looking out for others. She’s willing to sacrifice her own needs and wants for me, the kids and others. The more I write this paragraph the more I realize that if I really want to do my wife justice this is going to have to be a really, really, really long paragraph because my words can’t match up to the level of amazing that she is. So, just take my word for it, she’s amazing.

Focus

So if she’s all that why would you get short with her? You must be some kind of jerk! Well I can tell you why. I’m not really a jerk. But even the nicest person can act wrong if they change their focus from others to self

You see each of us has an internal focus, a center, a place where we bring all of our energies to serve whatever is in the center of that focus. When we are ministering to others, truly from the heart, then those other people are our focus. We see the need they have. We have a compassion in us. We focus that compassion on them. We begin to bring all of our energies together to serve them. It is greatly satisfying to serve someone and see their life improve or change for the better.

What really can top that off for us is when they are thankful, really thankful for what you’ve done. It just makes it so satisfying that they recognize your selflessness and they tell you how thankful they are. But what can really mess things up is when you are being others focused and helping someone and they are not thankful. They are just self focused. Especially when they expect you to serve them. Then your compassion can disappear in a heart beat. Suddenly instead of being happy to serve them because you are making a difference in their life, you are a slave to their will. Nobody wants to be a slave to anyone.

Opportunity

Immediately when someone else acts like that you have the opportunity to change your focus from others to self. You have the opportunity to put up your defenses; to protect who you are and your pure-hearted ways. You also have the opportunity to continue to be loving, selfless, kind, helpful and remain others focused. But here’s the problem, once you change your focus to self – you become short with people. You become focused on your needs and your self and you begin to see yourself as needy and you want others to begin to serve your need. All you see is your lack.

When you are others focused you see your abundance can meet their need.

When you are self focused you see that their abundance should meet your need.

Life

For me the word life is an amazing word, it has a connotation of abundance, growth, overflow, more than enough. For me to be truly living I must be overflowing with blessings so that those around me are glad they’re with me. The abundance on my life overflows to them. For me to live means to live from that overflow. If you will accept that type of definition for living then living life is wonderful. It is rich, fun and rewarding. So when I bring up that song “Short people got no reason to live.” You can see that short people are people who are short tempered; people who are self-focused; people who have nothing to give; people who only want others to give to them. As the song says, “I don’t want no short people ‘round here.”

Really what we could do is help others to get set free from being self-focused.

Rescue

Do you remember George Bailey? He’s not a real person, he was a character in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He was about to commit suicide because he had gotten so self-focused and distraught that he despaired of life. The angel rescued him by jumping in the water and acting like he was drowning. He shocked him out of self-focus and despair by presenting a tragic need. Who George really was, selfless, was set free. The chains of self-focus were broken and George sprang to selfless action and in doing so was set free from the desire to commit suicide.

Compliment

Now maybe that tactic won’t work for everyone, but something that can help people see their own abundance instead of their lack is a compliment. Tell them what they do have. Compliment them on something, anything. Once you help set their eyes on their own abundance then they can see how they can be a blessing to others. This can change them. This can make them taller in the spirit, if you will. This can help them to not be short people.

Favor

Another idea you may use is one I picked up from the advice columnist Ann Landers. Some of you may remember her from years ago. Someone had written her inquiring what could be done when someone’s heart is set against you or their heart is closed to you. Let me share what I mean by saying their heart is closed. As I was saying earlier about focus being on self or others; when someone’s heart is closed to you they refuse to allow you to be the center of any of their efforts or energy. They are closed to you.

Ann Landers reply, I feel, was significant. She said, “ask them to do a favor for you.” Now that is a genius answer. Because if you think of this in terms of someone needing to be set free from self-focus, asking them to do a favor; being bold enough to ask; is a tactic that could really work. If they actually do the favor then they have opened their heart to you. The focus which was not allowed on you, now is. That person is no longer short with you. The flood gates are on their way to being opened.

But most importantly they are being set free from the ravages of self focus.

Short people have no reason to really live life.

You give ‘em one.