Tag Archives: pain

A Road Map To Lasting Contentment

Can you honestly say you are “content” both, inside and out?

What is “Contentment”?

Where do we find contentment?

Should fleeting environmental circumstances affect our contentment?

Should we rely on personal pleasures or perishable possessions to fuel our contentment?

Apostle Paul seems to share the answers to these questions in Chapter 4 of his letter to the congregation at Philippi.

The secret to un-wavering contentment can be found in Paul’s statement:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

The key word in this scripture is: ALWAYS. Here the word always is used to mean “completely and infinitely rely upon” the LORD (Jesus).

Just as we all made the decision to have faith in and believe upon our Lord (Jesus), we must also remember to rejoice (or find our Joy) in Him at all times. No matter the environmental or emotional circumstances that happen often and inconveniently in this earthly life.

Rejoicing (to have joy or be joyful) is not a right nor a privilege; it is a choice. I think my personal relationship with Christ is what allows me to be joyful in all circumstances; pain, and suffering included.

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Sifting Through Social Media Opinions

When I was a kid, I often watched my Mom bake bread. One part of the process I really thought was neat was when she dumped the clean pure bleached flour through a sifter.  I asked her, Mom, if the flour is already clean pure and bleached then why do you need to put it through the sifter? She said, “It makes the flour lighter and it blends better.  Plus, it removes any potential non-palatable hunks, chunks, or impurities.  When it comes to baking a “Great” loaf of bread, I never assume the machinery that spits out the finished product is flawless.”

Wow! What a lesson. Today, I think about social media and how it has the potential to produce non-palatable hunks, chunks, and impurities.  Now, I am not attacking it (Social Media); I use it.  At first, I despised social media, I somehow thought I was subject to every opinion I read. News Flash:  I am not and neither are you.

What is an opinion?

Opinion Definition: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

How many opinions do you think you sift through on a daily basis?

How many of those opinions do you understand to be truthful?

Does the act of opinion sifting cause you unnecessary stress, depression, worry, anxiety, and/or fear?

I asked myself these questions as well. And, because I was truthful with myself I discovered just how much the opinions of others, if I let them, attempted to mar my identity.  I then thought about my Mother’s flour sifter. I wondered, how can I sift through the junk, hunks, chunks, and other impurities found in social media?  Then all of a sudden it hit me:

  1. I have the power to question any and all opinions before I accept them as truth.
  2. I have the ability to educate myself on the truth of the matter before I consider absorbing what I have just read or witnessed.
  3. I have the strength to bypass those opinions or comments that in no way uplifts me or any other human being.

Oh yeah! And because I am Christian I can recall the words of the Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:8-9):

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

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What is My Purpose?

How often do you contemplate your purpose in the life you have been given?  Do you know what your purpose is? Are your priorities positioned in a way that allow you to fulfill your purpose?  Often times I feel like a rudderless ship tossed about on a sea of choices.  It is the variety of these choices which cause my purpose to be swayed by my selfish pleasure seeking desires.  Do I condemn myself for focusing my purpose inward through fleeting accomplishments, accolades, and worldly goal attainment?  No.  I give myself permission to be human.  However, being human does not excuse me from reevaluating my purpose as life tosses me to and fro. But, how do I reevaluate my purpose?  As a Christian what measuring device do I use to find the purpose that truly fulfills my soul?  Many times in my life I made the mistake of thinking the “Free Will” I was given was so I could discover “MY” purpose, but it wasn’t.  The free will I was given was given for use in service; service to God and other mini-me’s who bear His Image.  Service to God and others is a rudder to my torrent soul; it leads me always back to my “Father.” On an Enlistment Poster Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) It is God’s will that provides me with my purpose, and His will, will, be done on earth as it is in heaven!

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Unwanted and Unsolicited

This is a friendly reminder of a law that was signed by President George W. Bush in 2003. This Law is called the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. This law was designed to stop the barrage of unsolicited marketing emails inundating our personal email accounts. These type of emails are called SPAM. This is a bit different from the “Spam” I grew up with. The Spam I grew up with was a wonderful concoction of delicious pork pieces. I became very fond of this product. The difference between the Spam I enjoy and the SPAM I don’t is a matter of choice. I consciously choose the tasty pork loaf, however, I did not choose to be slammed with a million emails. Emails, whose only purpose is to tempt me to purchase or subscribe to something which provides nothing fruitful or uplifting. Spamming is actually a subversive attempt at mind control. Did you know that Satan is a “Spammer?” He SPAMs by slamming our minds with unsolicited negative thoughts.

Friends, don’t lose hope, and don’t lose heart. When it comes to unwanted SPAM we do have a choice. Because of the CAN-SPAM Act, by-law an “Unsubscribe” or “Opt-Out” button must appear on any unsolicited email or electronic advertisement. Yes! Great freedom comes from clicking the unsubscribe button. It isn’t easy to find, it is usually at the bottom portion of the email and is often in very fine print. I do not covet power on a regular basis, but in this instance, it feels pretty good to shoot down menacing advertisements with one click of the mouse. Ok, sometimes it takes two clicks.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul actually talks about “unsubscribing.” However, Paul hopes we would be strong enough to unsubscribe from unsolicited negative thoughts. In Philippians 4:8-9 Paul gives us a list of things to mediate on. Things like: Love, Truth, Holiness, Righteousness, Nobility, Purity, and Virtue.” When we mediate on these things we subconsciously unsubscribe from their polar opposites. Sure, it takes some effort on our part to meditate on these things, especially since we are bombarded everyday with their opposites. But, if we do as Paul asks great mental weights are lifted off of our minds. Remember, whether it is an unwanted email or unsolicited thought we always have the choice to “Unsubscribe.” Take charge of your thoughts, you are the only one that can.

 

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Unmet Expectations: Don’t Let Them Chase Hope Away.

My house used to have a closet with a locked door. I know this because I locked it. Prior to closing off this part of my house I used it for the storage of vibrant and wonderful things. The most radiant thing I used to hang in this closet was hope. When hope was in the closet of my house the door was never closed. Each day I welcomed hope with open arms and open mind. I felt such comfort and peace having hope in my house. Then one day hope packed its bags and left. Why did hope leave? Where did it go? Upon noticing hope was gone, I ran frantically through my house looking for hope. I burst through the front door and feverishly combed my property looking for hope, but hope wasn’t to be found. I sat for a moment to collect my thoughts, all the while wondering, where did hope go? Finally, I resigned myself to thinking hope may never return. I became angry and that is when I shut and locked the closet door. I, and no one else closed the door to hope.

Now, years later, I discovered what happened to hope. You see, hope got tired, tired of watching me in agony. “What agony,” you ask? Well it seems, year after year unmet expectations kept piling up in the living room of my house. Every day, when hope was in my house I insisted on taking it for a walk past the living room. Hope noticed the sadness in my eyes as I obsessed about the ever growing pile of my unmet expectations. Finally, hope could stand it no longer, it packed up its belongings and left.

After being without hope for a while, I began to think, maybe I should unlock the closet within my house just in case hope desires to return. I really wanted to make hope feel like it was welcomed to return. I unlocked the door and pushed it open. When the closed door was opened light cast itself across the floor, and in the light I noticed a handwritten note. Here is what the note said:

“I hated to leave but you left me no choice. I truly loved the days when you would greet me and embrace me each and every day. But, when you started obsessing about unmet expectations, and forgetting about me I had no choice. I’m hope, and I can’t stay where I am not the center of your attention. I promise, one day, I will return. When you want and desire me more than your unmet expectations, then, I will return. Sincerely Yours – HOPE!”

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Remembering the Benefits of God

I remember the multiple times in my life I sought employment. Each time the most important factor for accepting a job offer was the amount of quality benefits. Benefits like health insurance, sick leave, vacation time, education, promotion potential, and a good working environment. I was raised to focus more on benefits, than on the hourly wage. Why? Because the lack of substantial benefits consumes a large portion of the hourly wage. I truly appreciate the lesson my parents taught me concerning a need for quality benefits.

Until recently, I really never stopped to realize how the “benefits” lesson related to my spiritual life. Specifically, how it affected the efficacy of my prayers. I often prayed to my Father (God) without first considering the multitude of His quality benefits. Benefits like, to name a few, the sacrifice of His Son for my salvation, His Grace, His Mercy, The Gift of His Spirit, His Truth, His Word, His Forgiveness, His Redemption, and most important His Love. I used to always open my prayers with “God, I need this” and “God, I need that.” Or “Please, God change this” and “Change him or her.” It wasn’t until I walked with King David through his Psalms that I began to pray to God with first, his gracious benefits in mind. Now, I do my best to preface my prayers with; “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:2) Opening prayer with true praise and a thankful heart helps me focus fully on God’s gratuitous nature. From there He willingly fulfills my needs, as well as my heart’s desires.

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God’s Track Record

Sometimes learning to trust can be hard. I often wonder, why do I project the mistrust I have of certain people upon God? He’s never left me nor forsaken me. When am I going to realize that faith in God is an unbridled and bareback ride through the wilderness, with no concern of what’s over the next rise. If I believe and have faith God is with me on this side of the hill, then by faith I can believe God is on the other side waiting for me just the same. Having unbridled faith in God is a sign of complete trust in God. God can’t work in and through me if I don’t or won’t trust him completely. How can I know he is trustworthy? In Psalm 22:4 King David tells me, “Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.” Wow! With a track record like God’s I have no cause for distrust.

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