All about perspective

NoNo is a simple word. It is only two letters, but to those on the receiving end it appears to be so much more. It is the thing that stands in between them and what they desire. When a child hears the word no they have a choice to make. They have a choice to head the advice or not. If they do not head the advice then they must be willing to suffer the consequences. The word no really has no power, the power lies within the consequences. The word no is a warning, a warning that sets a boundary. No is a word that is often times followed up by some sort of a qualifiers. No, you cannot do that right now, maybe later. No, that will hurt you. No, I don’t think it is appropriate right now. These types of no’s are typically easier to accept because they have at least an explanation and at times an understanding that a yes may follow at a later time.

Children when growing up have many things to learn and do not know what is good for them or what will cause them harm. They may see something they want and go after it with no regard to their safety or well-being. If they desire to have something they are not supposed to have, they will likely at some point in time or another go and get what they wanted. Children do not see the bigger picture, all they know is that they want something and do not understand why they cannot have it. Unfortunately adults are the exact same way. We have been conditioned to think that we need what we want rather than to think that what we want is not always what we need. It’s a matter of perspective. When we want something we begin to think that we need it and that we need it now, but just like our parents knew better when they told us no, God also knows better when He tells us no.

FaithPerspective can get us into trouble because it does not allow us to see the bigger picture and sometimes we do not know just how close we are. It keeps us focused on what is right in front of us rather than all of the factors that may come into play. The first picture was taken from a very close perspective, but when the big picture is revealed we see so much more. What started out as “no” was really a much bigger statement, “Faith, without faith nothing is possible; with it, nothing is impossible”– Mary McLeod. Perspective revealed!

When God tells us “no” it is because there is a reason, there is a bigger picture to consider. McLeod’s quote is very similar to Hebrews 11:6 which states, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Likewise Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is a perspective changer because when we have faith in God and know that we have earnestly sought Him we can stand on the promise that He will reward us for it, however, sometimes no still means no and we must learn to accept that. Just like parents try to protect their children by saying no, God does the same thing. And just as children have a choice to make when they are told no, we do as well.

Jeremiah 29:11-13
I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

God, our Father knows what we need and when we need it. When He says “no”, or “no, not yet”, there is a reason. He sees the big picture and knows exactly what is best for us. He is not focused on the immediate like we are because He knows our future. When He says “no”, or even “I need you to wait for a little bit” He is doing what is best for us and giving us a warning. When we don’t listen to Him we pay the consequences, because we did not head His advice. When we don’t listen we get hurt. Sometimes we may not realize that we have caused harm to ourselves, but eventually we will understand why God said no. BUT! When we do listen we can rest assured that He has plans to reward us because we sought Him and put our trust in Him. We can know that He has plans to prosper us because we are His children and He loves us deeply, all we have to do is to seek Him with all of our heart.

Learning to be content right where we are and to be thankful to God for the life that we have takes practice and practice we must. We must seek Him with all of our heart and trust that He will provide and will prosper us when we follow Him. Our perspective must turn away from the immediate desires of self and instead turn toward God who knows all. This is not an easy process. This takes time, practice, and a lot of failure. But when we fail we can know that God is right there to help us back up if we turn toward Him and entrust our lives to Him.

May God bless you today as you seek Him with all of your heart.

If this was helpful or encouraging to you please feel free to share it with others. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to make a comment. We all have a purpose and can be used to help others draw closer to God. God bless you in your journey to knowing Him deeper than before and accepting yourself with all of the qualities that God desires for you to have.

The Road to Contentment

DSC_0633It has been a while since I have written, not necessarily for lack of things that God has been revealing, but instead things have been busy as we were preparing for our baby to come and more recently traveling 5200 miles in 5 ½ weeks with a newborn baby in a truck camper. We learned a lot about each other during this time as well as ourselves. It was truly a blessing to be able to take this trip, so now that we are back it is time to transition back into life while maneuvering through the ever changing developments of our little baby Lillian.

One of the biggest things that we developed an understanding for was that we really have more than we need, more than anyone really needs. We learned to live, quite easily, in a small space with limited stuff. Of course there were times when we would have enjoyed having other things, but we have a new understanding for what it means to be content. This is something that God has been working out in us for a while; this is just the most recent thing He has revealed to us. Paul in his letter to the Philippians stated the following:

Philippians 4:10-13
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

In this passage Paul is speaking of a level of contentment that I do not yet understand fully. I have been in need of food and of finances, but I have never been without, though I would have been had it not been for the people God had placed in my life. I certainly was not content during this period; I was scared, but too proud to ask for help. Paul on the other hand knew all too well what it meant to truly need and he learned to be thankful for what he had in all circumstances. I feel that I am beginning to understand what this means, but still have a long way to go. Sometimes I wonder if my faith in God is strong enough to truly be content if I had nothing other than security in Him.

One thing that this increasing contentment has taught me is to slow down and to be thankful for my current situation. Yes, I desire more in life, but only God knows what my future looks like. The things that I desire are changing and my desire has become to grow deeper in my relationship with Christ and to become a better disciple so that I can encourage others and lead them to Christ. My focus has been slowly drawn away from the monetary and physical as God has taught us to be good stewards of what He has given us and my focus has turned more toward building His Kingdom.

I have realized that I was selfish and still am, but less so than I was. I have always cared about others, but my own selfish desires and wants have often gotten in the way. In order to achieve my goals and desires I would simply work harder and longer. I would become more focused on what I was doing rather than taking a breath and trusting in God to care for me while I honored Him in what I was doing. When I lived life focusing only on my own achievements made me loose sight of God. My own selfish desires blocked my connection with the Father. Thankfully God has endured my selfishness and pride and has impressed upon me how much I need Him during both the times of need and in the times of plenty and that I can be content as long as I keep my eyes on Him.

I am slowly learning to be content in all situations, are you? Do you know what it is to be content or are you too focused on achieving your next goal like I was? Do you take the time that God wants to care for others and to lead the lost to Him? We were not born to fulfill our own desires, but through trust and contentment God will reveal what our true desires are and will enrich our lives in ways that we never thought possible. May God bless you today and in the days to come, may He give you strength and courage as you press in deeper and step out of your own way to see what God has in store for you in your life.

Living a Life of Comfort

I was thinking about my life today and how I really have it pretty good. God has blessed my life immensely. I do not live in want; we have a roof over our head, we have full bellies, and we have no real substantial worries about anything. My wife and I are able to help people as we feel led to do so through the grace of God. All in all we are able to live a fairly comfortable life, but are we supposed to? Does comfort equate to easy? If we are living life on the easy track than are we really doing what God has called us to do? If we never have hardships can we really know God in all the depths of His glory?

Revelation 3:15-17
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.

Have we become so comfortable in our life that we have become like the church in Laodicea prophesied about above? Have we become lukewarm to the point where God is ready to spit us out of His mouth? I know in my life I can say that I often times try to do everything that I can to be comfortable. This occurs with me at work, at home, and even in the public. I become so focused on having a “good day” without much stress or turmoil that I think I often times lose sight of what God is trying to do around me and through me. By living a life of comfort we are just like the church of Laodicea. God has not called us to live in comfort, in fact He specifically says that we will be persecuted just as Christ was persecuted because “no servant is greater than his master” (Jn. 15:20). When I speak of living in comfort I don’t mean contentment because they are two very different things, we can learn to be content in all things regardless of our economic or social status (Phil. 4:11-13), but comfort speaks directly to whether or not we are taking risk for God.

Satan wants us to be comfortable, he doesn’t want us to live a life of fear, because fear drives people to Christ. It seems contrary to what we think about Satan, but he wants us to be as comfortable in our lives as possible. He knows that comfort is what we typically look for, but comfort is a deception from Satan himself. Comfort is contrary to the contentment that we learn from trusting in God. As Christians we do not have to, and should not, live in a life of comfort, but in all things we should rejoice.

Phil. 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Through Christ we have gained everything, but it does not end there. We cannot fall into the trap of believing that once we are saved the work is done. In fact when we are saved our work has just begun. Just think about the countless number of people God placed in the path of your life to direct you towards Him before you received Christ. We are all members of the body of Christ and we each have an important role to fill. No one is greater than the other, but working together we bring the fullness of Christ into this world (1 Cor. 12:12-31).

So, are you living a life of comfort? If so do you really know the one True God or have you been deceived by the master deceiver who wants you all to himself? We are not called into comfort, we are called into obedience “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). So re-examine your life and determine if God is working in you and through you and do this often. If He is working in you then you will not simply sit back in comfort, “He will transform you through the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2).

When we truly know what God’s will is we cannot simply sit back in the comfort of our own life, we MUST take action. We MUST bring the light to the rest of the world who have been lied to and deceived just like we once were. We MUST spread the Gospel message through love and perseverance. We must NOT be conformed “to the pattern of this world” Rom. 12:2. The world, ie. Satan, wants you to live in comfort, he wants you to live for yourself, he wants you to do everything that you can to make sure that you are taken care of. When he gets you to do this he makes you ineffective. He turns you into a bench-warmer, a non-player, he makes you lukewarm. Don’t let him make you ineffective, the body needs you and you need the body.

Father we thank you that we are yours and not Satan’s. Help us to become highly effective Christians who truly live out the purpose that you have placed on our lives. Show us where we have been deceived by the enemy into thinking that we need to be comfortable in life to be happy. Teach us to be content in all things and to Rejoice! Father, we desperately long for you and your touch in our life. Teach us how to grow in faith and how to strengthen the body by multiply and edifying the body. Give us your heart so we can feel what you feel out those around us, give us your eyes so that we can see their pain and sorrow first hand, give us your feet so that we move into action, and give us your hands to care for all those we encounter. We do not want to be spit out, so revive us! Remind us what it was like when we first came to know you. Build a fire in our soul that is in-content with living a life of comfort. Transform our entire being into what you want us to be. Father, we love you and want to make you proud. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be your children. Thank you for making us clean through the blood of your Son who died on the cross so that we may live and we thank you that He rose again so that we could have life eternal with you. It is in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.