SPENDING TOO MUCH ON WORRIES

Sometimes when I visit and spend a little time at my wife’s burial spot, a little message comes to me. I don’t know if it’s her communicating with me, or God, or what it is, but it’s always been encouraging and uplifting. It’s usually been something about not worrying, that everything is going to be alright, that in the end things will turn out better than I could imagine.

On this one particular visit, the thought came to me, “you spend too much on worries”.

Never having had or made too much money through the course of my life, I’ve always been mindful of how much I spend and what I spend it on, knowing I could come up short for things I may need more in the near future, or end up in debt.

I often spend money on stuff that I later regret, anyhow, and end up not using what I spent it on as much as I thought I would.

I’d prefer to have the money I spent back again, and sometimes I can make it happen by returning what I bought to wherever I bought it, for a refund.

In any case, I still have whatever it is I bought, it’s something of some kind of value, even if it was food that I’ve eaten or a trip I took, or movie I watched – at least I have the memory and experience.

When I spend time or thought or energy on worries, though, I end up losing that time and those thoughts and that energy, and end up with nothing of value, only those worries that are continuing to bankrupt me, my energy, my thought process, my health, my hopes.

So, I went away from my visit feeling lighter, having shed some of my worries, and richer.

GOD WASTING TIME

I often hear people say about something they regret having spend their time doing, “that was a waste of my time”. I’ve heard Christian people say, “I wasted so much of my life before I became a Christian” or things to that effect.

There are times I’ve felt slighted or hurt when people have told me, “that was a waste of my time” after doing something that was my idea to do. The thought that I wasted their time, part of their lives sort of speak, made me feel bad, or sometimes kind of insulted if I still felt like it was a good idea afterwards.

Now if we’re God’s creation and he has a plan for each of us, could it maybe be hurtful to God when we say, “this part of my life was a waste of time”? Maybe that part of our life, maybe a part with not so much to show for it in the eyes of others, was an important part of God’s plan to for us;  a part of the “building process”, one of the stages in the continuing development of our eternal souls.

In some ways, maybe our lives on earth is similar to a baby in its embryo stage. We’re still in the womb in the overall scope of our lives, in light of eternity and what is yet to come. We haven’t even begun to live, compared with what is coming in the next life.

Though what happens in the embryonic stage of a life might not seem like very much, day by day, month by month that embryo is growing, developing, being prepared for birth and entry into a new life. There’s no waste of time there.

Many people throughout history who were considered great by others spent periods of their lives seemingly doing nothing special. Some spent years in prison, exile or isolation.

Jesus spent about 30 years of his life, most of his life, living a quiet life in a small village in Palestine, apparently working as a carpenter a good deal of that time.

There’s the story of Moses and how he led hundreds of thousands of captives to their freedom, parting the red sea and performing all kids of other miracles in the process. Yet before that he spent about 40 years caring for sheep in an isolated desert area.

Could it be that there’s a plan, a destiny for every phase of our lives, even the ones we might think haven’t been that important, or a seeming waste. Perhaps it’s all part of the development of our lives. Some parts of our lives may seem more important to us than others, but who knows, in God’s eyes, some of the seemingly quiet, unimportant parts might end up being more meaningful in the long run.

WHY DO WE WALK SO PROUD?

People, why do we walk so proud?

 

As if we’re on top of things,

As if all is basically well?

 

While we destroy our planet,

While we hurt and kill each other?

 

Should we not be on our knees,

Pleading with our Maker for help?

 

Why do we walk so proud?

 

We slowly destroy ourselves,

Destroy the earth on which we live,

 

All the time touting that we’re

Making progress, getting better.

 

Half of the world’s people

Are struggling for their daily needs

 

While a few pleasure themselves

With all of the fat of the land.

 

How can we walk so proud?

 

Let us come, humble ourselves

In the presence of our Maker;

 

Call out to our Creator

To heal our hearts, to heal our land.

 

“If My people, who are called by My name,

will humble themselves,

if they will pray and seek me

and stop their evil ways,

I will hear them from heaven.

I will forgive their sin,

and I will heal their land.”

ALPHA AND OMEGA

In the Bible book of Revelation, God is quoted as saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End”. God is the beginning and the end, the starter and the finisher.

There are times when I pray for someone’s needs to be met, or for something to happen, or maybe for something not to happen, I don’t even have a clue how that prayer can even begin to be answered. Maybe it can be called a prayer of faith, I don’t’ know. I know that doubts often come around, trying to convince me I’m just wasting my time praying for something I haven’t got a clue about how it can happen

Something that helped me the other morning was relating that particular quote in Revelation to my prayers. God is “the beginning and the end”. When I put something into His hands, He’s the one who begins the process of answering the prayer, He gets it going; and He’s the one who sees it through to completion. He’s the Alpha and the Omega.

The prophet Jeremiah once prayed, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You!”

We don’t always have to have some kind of idea about how the prayer can be answered. God made people from the dust and has done so many incredible miracles throughout history, He can start and finish anything in all kinds of ways.

When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was told by an angel she would get pregnant and have a baby, she wondered how that could possibly even begin to happen, since she’d never even had sex. The angel who gave her the news said, “With God nothing shall be impossible”.

There’s a similar incident recorded in the Bible book of Genesis. For years and years the couple Abraham and Sara had been praying for her to have a baby, yet it didn’t happen. By the time Abraham and Sara were very old, and Sara was way past menopause, God told Abraham she was going to have a baby. Even though Abraham had no idea how it could happen at this point, it says there that he believed what God told him, “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised”. It says God was very pleased with Abraham’s believing attitude. Sara did get pregnant and had the baby.

Now the answer we’re praying for might seem like a trifle compared with those kind of miracles. Yet our situation might mean a whole big world to us, so much so, that to us it might look like just as big of a miracle is needed for our prayer to be answered.

Sometimes my prayers are for changes I believe need to happen inside of me, or for help in getting over bad habits. I’m met with just about the same issues in my mind, wondering how it can possibly begin to happen. I know myself, I know my weaknesses, I know how many times I’ve tried to change, so often unsuccessfully. I don’t know how the change can happen.

Yet those same promises and principles of God can apply. Paul the Apostle once wrote, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” “Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect [completes it].”  There is a Psalm that says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

God once gave a promise to the prophet Ezekiel to pass on to his people, saying “I will give you one heart and a new spirit; I will take from you your hearts of stone and give you tender hearts of love”.

It seems God is happy when we pray, put it into his hands, and take on a believing attitude that He is able to answer our prayers, even if we haven’t got a clue how it can begin to be answered, much less completed. Like Paul wrote in another place, “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

A MENTAL SAFE HAVEN

When it gets to the most difficult moments of life, like something terrifying happening to a loved one or myself, or times of mental anquish, nothing helps me to hang on or get on top of things more than rehearsing memorized Bible verses in my mind.

I think just the effort of trying to remember them correctly helps occupy my mind and take it away from whatever is paining me. Then the words themselves seem to have a power to calm, to bring me closer to God, to where I feel His presence and that everything is OK. What takes place in my mind is similar to a scene described in one of the Gospels of when Jesus’ disciples were in a boat and a big storm hit. Jesus stood up and spoke to the storm, “peace, be still”, the storm stopped miraculously, and there was a sudden calm.

I think any difficulties I’ve had in life so far have been pretty small compared to what many people have had to or are going  through even now, like suffering hunger, or being imprisoned, tortured, fighting serious diseases, living with handicaps, etc. I’ve read the stories of some people who’ve been tortured or imprisoned by their enemies, who said remembering Bible verses that they memorized in earlier years and going over them again and again helped them endure. I remember one story of some soldiers who were imprisoned under difficult conditions, who shared whatever verses they could each individually remember, and how it kept them all united and helped them to hang on.

Who knows what I may yet have to go through in this life, but from what I’ve experienced so far those verses in my mind and heart are the stronghold I will have to resort to whenever things get rough.  They’ve been a sound refuge in any and all the hard spots I’ve hit in life so far.

In the Gospels, when Jesus battled the devil, he used Bible verses he had memorized in his earlier years. He defeated the devil by quoting those verses.

Most of the verses I know by heart I memorized when I was younger. I started memorizing them when I was a teenager, when I first started to get intrigued by the Bible. From my experience, it seems the younger a person is, the easier it is to retain memorized verses.

Memorized Bible verses also help me when I have difficulty sleeping. Sometimes it helps just to fantasize about something and that helps me to drift off to sleep. Other times, when I’m not able to sleep because of battles raging in my mind, maybe from remorse over wrong choices made in the past, or present problems or pains, or fears over future events, just fantasizing becomes a weak and insufficient weapon. At times like that it seems the only thing powerful enough to calm the mental and spiritual storm in my mind is going over those verses in my head. Soemtimes it takes a little time, but before I know it, I’m fast and sound asleep.

EXCITING FUN WITH GOD

It seems the kind of relationship God wants to have with us is a like a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, like lovers, people who want to be together as much as possible.

Over and over again in the Bible, God’s describes his relationship to his people as a marriage, a bridegroom and bride, or husband and wife.

I’ve often heard negative connotations placed on the idea of marriage, in that once you’re married, or especially if you’ve been married for a while, the fun goes out of the relationship and it keeps going out of duty. For that reason, some people will say they want to stay lovers or friends and not get married.

It seems people can get that way with God in their relationship with him. They keep up a “marriage” with him, a religious life out of duty. They drag themselves through their religious duties, whether it’s going to a temple or church or other meetings, keeping up relations with a priest or religious leader and group or whatever, and wait for that to be over to have fun.

Yet God is out to win us over with his love and longs for a fun, exciting relationship, where we can’t wait to get through with our “other” duties in life to spend time with him! He can make life pretty exciting too, when we take his presence with us, and even spoil us with happiness and good times, when we do things with him, just like a guy will do with a girl he’s either trying to win or loves spending time with.

Of course it’s not a physical thing where we see God and go with him in a physical way. It’s a spiritual thing, where we invite his presence in our mind, our thoughts, heart and emotions, our essence that we carry along with us wherever we go. We become aware of his presence, and soon he’s bringing us a certain happiness and peace in our heart and we’re overflowing, and having a lot of fun with him!

READY AT ANY TIME TO WELCOME US HOME

When we’re going in a bad direction in our lives, drifting from God, or maybe even have turned our back on him completely, God stays with us, He doesn’t abandon us. He’ll try to get in any way He can to help us get going in the right direction.

One of the most well known stories that Jesus told, was about the prodigal son:

“There was a man who had two sons.The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

In this story, it sounds like the deplorable state the son had gotten into didn’t fully sink in until he was just totally down and out; no place to stay, half starving, maybe even fighting with the pigs to try to wrangle some of their food from them. Then he started seriously contemplating a path back home to his father’s house.

When he got himself back to his father’s house, he was received with warm open arms, all was forgiven, and all of his needs were taken care of again. After that I would think he must have wondered why he didn’t get back to his father’s house earlier, before he got into such a drastic state.

I imagine God must have been working on him at various stages long before he decided to come back home. Even before he left, I’m sure he must have felt the tug in his heart that what he was doing was wrong.

Then, after he left and started blowing away all his money, his dad’s money in reality, he must have fought off a guilty conscience. When all of the money was gone, the thought must have come to him, that “wow, this has not ended well, I’m on the wrong track”. He may have thought that, but could well have concluded, that he couldn’t return home, he would never be accepted after what he’d done.

When he got to such a bad state that he didn’t care anymore whether he would be accepted, ridiculed, or whatever, that things couldn’t be any worse than they already are, he decided to head back home. At least there was some possible hope if he returned, maybe he could work as a servant for his dad and have something to eat, some kind of place to stay.

I think the father would have welcomed him back with love and forgiveness if he would have returned at any of those stages in his life. That’s what it’s like with God, he’s ready to take us in and work with us, regardless of where we’re at in life. We don’t have to wait until we get to some miserable nearly hopeless state.

Now we might feel that we can’t relate where we’re at in life to what happened to the prodigal son, because we haven’t squandered an inheritance, and we’re doing okay; we’re not hungry or lacking, we’re not really running away from God.

Yet we might be in a very similar state to the prodigal son if we’re living our lives selfishly, pursuing our own goals and ambitions instead of God’s purpose and design for our lives. Our spirit might be hungry, even starving and in a very poor state because we’re not nourishing it.

If we realize the state we’re in and have a desire to get things right with our father, our Maker, and for our spirit to be nourished, as Jesus said, if we seek we will find, if we ask, it will be given to us, if we knock, it will be opened to us.

As soon as God sees us heading in his direction, he’ll come running to take us into our arms and welcome us into a whole new world of peace and satisfaction.

WHY DOESN’T GOD STRAIGHT UP SHOW HIMSELF?

I’ve wondered at times, “why doesn’t God just straight up reveal himself, make himself fully visible and clear, where we can see him and fully understand what he’s saying to us? Wouldn’t that make it so much easier for people to believe in him, to understand what he wants from us? Then people would believe in him, and possibly make the right decisions in life.”

As it is now, it takes faith to believe in our unseen God, faith to believe the words in the Bible and other things He’s inspired all kinds of people to say.

It must be that having to believe by faith, without fully understanding, or even hardly understanding, is better for us. Perhaps it helps us stay more humble, more understanding and accepting of each other.

If we flat out saw God, understood everything he has to say, it could well be, that in the state we’re in at present, it could cause us to get more arrogant, more uncaring towards each other.

Lucifer, the devil, who was once one of God’s angels, saw God, spoke with him directly, yet became arrogant, proud and rebelled against God, most of his fellow angels, and went on a hateful, deceptive, destructive binge.

I don’t know. I sure don’t understand it, but there must be a good, noble reason why God has chosen to work his plan as he has. Having experienced his loving and kind nature, I’m sure it’s in our best interests.

THE EXCHANGE

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I hiked in these hills yesterday. It was a beautiful day.

I felt kind of burdened earlier, weighed down, I wasn’t sure why. I had read in the morning how beneficial it is to take a day off once a week, how God made the world in 6 days, and took the seventh off and advised us to do the same. It was saying we could get burned out if we don’t. I do try to do that once a week and it does give me such a boost to the rest of the week when I do.

I felt kind of sluggish, not too inspired, and thought I could maybe just take a short little hike, get back home to take care of some of the many things I have piled up to do.

I felt tired and worn driving to the hiking spot; I yawned I don’t know how many times.

Usually when I go on a hike, or to the sea, I spend at least some of the time praying for people – my family, friends, others who I know could use some prayer, and situations I’m concerned about in my own life.

As I started up the hill, feeling weighed down, I got the inspiration to hand over all of the things I was going to pray for over to God. Instead of praying for each of the people and situations, asking God to do this and that for them, I turned each person and situation over to God, with the prayer that He’ll just take care of that person and/or situation whichever way He knows is best.

I was just giving everything over to God. There’s a quote in the Bible that says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you”.

As I was unloading on God, I could sense myself getting lighter and lighter, with energy and inspiration flowing in. I could see, as I was giving the things I’ve been concerned about over to Him, how much the concerns over all these things had been weighing on me. It was so liberating to hand it all over now. A calm and peace was filling the place of the cares that were there, from knowing I’ve put it all in God’s hands and He would be taking care of all those people and situations.

I ended up hiking for a few hours and felt fully energized and inspired by the time I finished. It was like an exchange: I gave all of my cares and burdens over to God, and in exchange I was energized, and filled with faith and peace by Him!

DEVELOPING AS A PERSON

The more important thing is to develop as a person. When we focus on the kind of person we are, what we’re developing into, we’re in a sense focusing on the eternal.

Things like being successful in a career, wealth, power, being awarded prizes for accomplishments, all have their place in this lifetime. Much has to do with the motive these things are pursued with.

For example, a mother may work hard and achieve success in her efforts to provide the best for her kids. She is developing as a person and being successful.

On the other hand, someone else might work hard to become successful, to beat out the competition, to gain fame and notoriety, to put themselves on the map. That kind of recognition and success may not last beyond this life.

Some people may fight hard, even hurt others in the process, to accumulate wealth with the ultimate idea of pampering themselves with pleasures. They may receive the pleasures as a result of the hard work, but it may all die with them.

Jesus encouraged people to make the most with what they’ve been given. – To develop their talents, to do their work well and intelligently. He put down laziness, sloppiness and neglect. At the same time, most of the things he said were aimed at people’s attitudes towards each other – where they were at as a person. We can well deduct from what He said overall that it’s far more important to develop as a person and in our attitudes than to become successful, wealthy, famous and/or powerful.

There’s a story Jesus once told about a rich man, and a beggar man named Lazarus, who both died at about the same time. The poor man ended up in paradise afterwards and the rich man, in another realm, woke up in torment. Part of the rich man’s torment was to be able to see Lazarus the beggar enjoying his paradise in bold stark reality, while being far removed from him and it. I suppose it was sort of like seeing a film on a big screen without being able to take part in it.

The poor man ended up in paradise, even though, as far as we know, there was nothing done by him in an obvious sense to earn his right to be there. He obviously had not been successful in how the world usually terms success. He was a sick beggar, laying in the streets, with stray dogs coming along and licking his sores. Jesus didn’t describe what his attitude towards others was. It may well be he was a caring, sympathetic person, sharing whatever little he had with others.

Jesus did give a glimpse of the attitude of the rich man, though. It’s pointed out he didn’t care much for the beggar who hung around on the outskirts of the rich man’s sumptuous feasts, hoping to get a few leftovers. Apparently the rich man didn’t care to share anything with him and the beggar was able to just get a few crumbs that fell from the table.

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