Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stop the Negative Pollution and Change the World!

Have you ever been in a great mood, smiling, laughing, and enjoying life when someone with a sour attitude huffs into the room? They can send the mood of everyone in the room into a vortex of yuk. Researchers have discovered that a person with a negative frame of mind can affect others just by walking by. They don’t even have to say anything… not even sigh, gesture, or snarl. Their body language and facial expression alone can communicate their pessimistic point of view, and others in the room will join in without even knowing it.

There are lots of good reasons to avoid the Typhoid Marys of Negativity in your life. The consequences of negativity can be quite destructive. Studies have found that if a person's mood is negative and they are taking a test, they perform more poorly. Parts of our brain actually shut down in the most negative situations. Negativity affects not just the negative person, but it oozes the toxic pollutants into those around them.

The good news is the opposite is also true. One positive person can enter a room and change the whole point of view. She can take the negative to a positive simply by looking for and pointing out the positive aspects of the situation. There is always an upside; we can train our minds to see it and show others.

If you want to perform well, test well, have a good meeting… find a way to get happy and positive. Not surprisingly, researchers have studied the effects of a positive attitude on performance. Shawn Achor, author of the Happiness Advantage indicates that time after time, studies indicate that a happy, positive outlook improves performance on exams, on productivity, on creativity, even on intelligence. That’s right we are actually smarter when we are positive. Companies like Google have keyed on this truth with their employees and they have come up with lots of innovative ways to keep their workers happy and positive knowing it will ultimately affect their bottom line. Their recruiting literature spells out that they “nurture an invigorating positive environment” and that they want quality employees who have a “great time” doing what they do.

After Jesus taught His disciples how to be happy with the be(happy)attitudes in the beginning of the sermon on mount he told them they were to be light, to go and do positive, good things that would encourage those around them. Like a lamp, they would brighten up the perspective of all those around them and they would in turn bring glory to their Creator. Then those people could shine the light too.

If we are sons and daughters of God, if we have been created in the image of our heavenly Father, then we are children of light and we bring light and positive encouragement to those around us. If, on the other hand, we bring a negative, destructive attitude we act more like the one who is a destroyer.

As I write this, I can hear the preschoolers from the Child Development Center on the playground outside my window. Just one child began crying for some reason, within about 5 seconds there was a chorus of children crying in unison. I am certain many of them didn’t even know why they were all crying, but they joined in the mournful drone of half-hearted lamentations anyway. The wise teacher redirected them toward something more fun and exciting and soon after the playful squeals and laughter returned to normal. I had to snicker out loud a little. I was not laughing at the kid who must have had a legitimate booboo, or even the kids who turned to the teacher and joined in the dirge, but at myself, knowing that my nature is just the same. I am prone to joining in the whining and complaints of those around me instead of being like the wise teacher redirecting thoughts back to the positive.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

T.M.I.

Do you remember having to do a major research paper in school? When I was in high school, every student had to do a major research paper. The only thing I disliked more than doing research was writing about the research I had done. However, I set out in earnest to tackle my literary equivalent of Mount Everest at the school library. This was a place I rarely went on purpose, so the trip was something of an adventure. One of the first things I discovered was a group of cute girls who had listened to the in-class lecture on how to use the card catalogue, so I talked with them to get the scoop. My next discovery was the librarian with a demerit pad, quickly scribbling the words “Bill McGinnis, talking in the library.” With a gleam in her squinty eyes, but a frown on her face she ripped the page from the pad and handed it to me. I left the school library with a dearth of information and a Thursday School verdict (the sentence was two hours, after school, on Thursday, in Webb School’s version of Brushy Mountain penitentiary on lockdown… no talking, no air conditioning, with no one who wanted to be there, including {the warden}the study hall proctor).

So, a few days after I paid my debt to society, I went to the public library and found a little more information, but no where near enough information for the kind of paper my teacher was expecting. Then, my teacher told me how I could get a temporary library card at the University of Tennessee Knoxville library…Hallelujah! When I walked in I was amazed at the amount of books stacked higher than I could reach, and lower than I could squat, on each floor of the UTK library. I did all the Dewey decimal system searches, the periodical searches for hundreds of newspapers and magazines on microfilm and microfiche (I think this is why I have to wear glasses today). I searched the scholarly journals. I even learned how to get a quote from a “scholarly fellow.” It took me a whole semester to gather enough information to write my paper, but I passed.

Things are much different now. My kids can access more information with a couple of mouse clicks, or ipod taps than I could find in several weeks of searching at UTK library. Between our two generations there has been a tremendous shift in how to gather and handle information. In my school years the problem was, we had no quick and easy way to gather the information we needed. Now, there is way too much information available and it is way too easy to access. We can be inundated with trillions of bits of information at the touch of our fingertips. The biggest challenge is no longer in finding information; it is finding a way to handle too much information. Even with modern search engines that filter and rank information it's still a challange to pare down the results.

In Jesus day, there was a lot of religious information being offered to the people. There were great teachers and leaders who were quick to overload people with religious rules and information. The people didn’t know what to do with all the information they were hearing and definitely couldn’t keep all the rules that were being heaped upon them. So, when some of the rule heapers asked Jesus what was most important, he gave them a filter, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) The people who followed Jesus knew that if they did things that showed that they loved God and loved other people and loved themselves they were living based on the right information.

So, when you are snowed under with too much information (or T.M.I.) just go back to loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself, then filter out all the other stuff that doesn’t help you do that. God will be pleased and your life will be much easier than writing a high school research paper.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do You Need a 4 G Spiritual Upgrade?

Many of us Christ followers are still living in a 3G world, but life gets better with a 4G Spiritual upgrade.

We were created in the image of God, so we were created GOOD.
But we sinned and we are GUILTY.
So, God sent Jesus to die for our sins, that’s GRACE.

Those are the 3 G's of the Gospel. They are great, but if we stop there, they can leave us living short of the joy filled life Jesus intends for us. Our faith can become a kind of "Back Buddy" apparatus that helps us pat ourselves on the back... because of all the rules we can follow or the good things we do. Our faith can also become a cat-o-nine tails we use to flog ourselves (and others). We can even use our faith as a license to keep on living in sin and we grant ourselves diplomatic immunity for our heinous behavior. What we really need is a healthy relationship with Jesus, one in which we interact with Him in expressions of thankfulness for an incredible gift we could never afford.

If we get stuck in one of those three traps and we may never enjoy the life of faith for which Jesus paid such a precious price.

1. Some of us think we are GOOD – usually this comes from comparing ourselves with other people: saying “I am good, because I’m better than these other people.” “at least I don’t do those sins that those people are doing.” “I am a good person.” We become very vulnerable to justifying our actions, because we think we are good. We become “Goody-Goodies.” Jesus had a big problem with those who were self-righteous about their rule-following as did his disciple John.
1 John 1:8 (NIV) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

2. Others of us run around feeling GUILTY all the time – we feel bad about ourselves, so we tear ourselves and others down. We feel sorry and guilty all the time. We know we can never live up to the religious rules we study and read. When we feel guilty we can be easily manipulated by someone else(usually a goody-goody) who will take advantage of our vulnerabilities. We are an open target, when we are operating out of a guilt mentality. We can fill up with bitterness, become toxic, blow up, and sabotage what God wants to do in us and through us. Then we feel even more guilt! We have got to live by faith in His Grace. Paul helps us understand that living in guilt is not God’s plan for us.
Galatians 3:10-11 (NIV) All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."

3. Some of us give ourselves license to go on sinning because we are under GRACE. We ARE under grace, but that doesn’t give us permission to go on sinning. The apostle Paul was pretty adamant about it.
Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

4. We need a 4G Gospel upgrade. We all need to live in GRATITUDE, being thankful for God’s salvation and grace. What if, in everything we do we are thankful? We could change the world. Would you rather hear someone who is thankful for all that they have or someone who complains all the time about what they don’t have? Some people live to complain, but others have unlocked the secret to Godly living by living in gratitude, grateful for all things. God works all things together for good for those who are in Him. So, we can be thankful for even “not fun” circumstances.



Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)says, “ So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Gratitude changes the picture in our lives. Even when we are saved we can revert back to the ways of the world. We are forgiven, but not joyous. Our whole perspective changes, when we find a way to thank God “in all things”. Our lives become motivated by thankfulness, not by guilt, or because we want to be a better goody-goody.

Kara Powell, from the Fuller Youth Institute says our lives should be “a thank you note to God.” Too many of us just stop with a 3G Gospel – Guilt is a motivator for helping us repent, but guilt is not a good motivator for living our life in faith and joy. Being a Goody-Goody has its rewards but they are cheap and fleeting and don’t allow you to joyfully serve God’s greater purpose. And grace is great, but grace must come full circle, it must be poured out of your life into the lives of others as an act of gratitude. God saved us to be a blessing by living thankfully.

Go ahead and get your spiritual upgrade. Get grateful. Go 4G!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Loving God and Loving Others

Wow, What a privilege to serve with so many helping and encouraging the Tornado victims around Chattanooga in the last several weeks. I loved watching God at work as He used His people to comfort and minister to those who were hurting in the storm's aftermath.

Some people lost power for several days. Others lost valuable property. Some lost businesses. Some lost homes. Some even lost family members, friends, and loved ones. But God used many people from here and all over the country to bring help, consolation, and supplies to those impacted by the storms.

Many churches and other Disaster Relief agencies are still working to help people get back on their feet. Many of you were there on the ground being the hands and feet of Jesus to help bring some reassurance to the storms victims. Many of you contributed resources. I want to encourage you all in your acts of love in the name of Jesus Christ.

In the history of the church, Christians have been known for how they love others especially in times of crises. During invasions, plagues, storms, floods, earthquakes, etc, the surviving pagans often ran away, abandoning family and neighbors. The pagans felt those harmed by the disasters had angered the gods and they were afraid they too would suffer if they didn’t sever all ties with the victims. But the Christians on the other hand, had a reputation for staying in the middle of the disaster to take care of those who had been hurt, gotten sick, or suffered loss. Jesus said, they will know you are my followers “by your love.” We have a privilege to join in the Body of Christ’s great history of helping those who are hurting.

I want to say thank you to those of you who helped. Ridgedale's shower and laundry trailers were deployed on three separate sites to help and encourage some of the communities affected by the tornados. The trailers went to Bradley County, Apison Baptist Church, and Cherokee Valley Baptist Church to provide some assistance in the relief efforts. Some clean up crews also helped clear debris from some sites that were devastated by the tornado. I know many of you helped with other churches and organizations. I just want to encourage you in Christ and say keep up the God work!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Southern Culture of Honor

I read about a concept the other day that I thought was interesting in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. It is called the (Southern) ‘Culture of Honor.’” We southerners are nice and congenial for the most part. We may even make it a habit of going out of our way to accommodate someone, but apparently, we as a whole, are also hyper-sensitive to the feeling that someone has disrespected us. We are pretty laid back and easy going, until we perceive that someone has dishonored us or someone or something we value.

Some research shows that when someone does or says something intentionally offensive to a person whose family history goes back several generations in the south, they become angrier than people from the north. We get angry enough to show physical signs of anger like a flushed red face or an exaggerated frown. There are physiological effects too, like extra cortisol and testosterone in bloodstream. It doesn’t seem to matter whether people are wealthy, more intelligent, or if they are healthy or not. Only those from the south seem to let the insult stick in their craw, whereas, those from the north seem to let the insult roll off their backs. Northerners seem to intentionally make themselves stay calm and not over react.

Apparently, this phenomenon has to do with the cultures our ancestors came from. For the most part, those who came out of shepherding communities like Scotland and Ireland settled in the southern states and those who came from farming communities settled in the North. Back in history, in the old country, those who raised livestock had to fiercely protect the flock or they could easily lose everything if threats were left unchallenged or they appeared weak. Any threat to their honor had to be confronted with great force. Livestock raising families became very independent, circling the wagons at any hint of danger. On the other hand, farmers needed to foster a sense of community with each other, helping each other out when times got tough. They were more prone to let a passing threat go in order to preserve the peace. It seems strange that this “culture of honor” would be passed down so many generations later, but it is true today according to this research.

So, it appears that, even though we are in the “Bible Belt” and are considered more religious, we seem to be more prone toward a hereditary anger problem. So, what do we do about it? It is contrary to Jesus teaching. He says in Luke 6:27-31 (NIV)"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

We even call verse 31, “The Golden Rule.” These are tough commands for us, because we want others to obey them all the time, but we give ourselves a free pass when someone has insulted us. This takes an active, willful choice to change our reaction. We can choose not to be offended, even when someone is offensive. We can choose not to sin in our anger, even if something inside us says, “you have every right to get revenge, look at what he/she did to you.” We can pray that God would fill us with His Spirit, who gives us things like peace and goodness, kindness and gentleness, even patience to deal with affronts to our honor. (Galatians 5:22)

Jesus warns that if we who claim to follow Him don’t change our reactions, our lives are no different than anyone else. Luke 6:32-34 (NIV) "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full.”In Luke 6:35 Jesus says, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

The scriptures don’t say, I will honor those who fight for their own honor. It says in 1 Samuel 2:30b (NIV) “Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” Our honor comes from God, not men. If we dishonor Him with our reactions, we will be disrespected.

Shalom,

PS. I write this fully aware that I may be challenged on this point before the day is over. Pray that I get it right this time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Keepin' on the Sunny Side

After having some challenges a few weeks ago, I was reminded of an old bluegrass song that had perked me up at a really difficult time in my life several years ago. Perhaps you saw the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” (It was a humorous interpretation of Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey", set in the deep south during the 1930's)…the Peasall sisters had a brief scene in the movie singing a song by June Carter Cash, “Keep on the Sunny Side.” Shortly after the movie these Tennessee minister’s daughters played this and some other sacred music live at a gathering in Nashville. The sweet voices of these Grammy award winners and the encouraging words of this classic song changed my focus that day and still keep reminding me years later to “keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side” and to “trust in the Saviour always, To keep us, every one, in His care.”
Here are the words to encourage you when you hit a “dark and a troubled side of life.”

Keep on the Sunny Side
by June Carter Cash
(Chorus)
Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,Keep on the sunny side of life.It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,If we keep on the sunny side of life.

Well there's a dark and a troubled side of life.There's a bright and a sunny side too.But if you meet with the darkness and strife,The sunny side we also may view.

Oh, the storm and its fury broke today,Crushing hopes that we cherish so dear.Clouds and storms will in time pass away.The sun again will shine bright and clear.

Let us greet with a song of hope each day.Though the moments be cloudy or fair.Let us trust in our Saviour always,To keep us, every one, in His care.


If you are not familiar with the tune you can hear the Peasall sisters sing it online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgZzQOWnvg0&NR=1

I try to remind my kids there are always two sides to every situation…a positive and a negative. We need to look for and focus on the positives in each situation, and don’t let the negatives devastate us. Jesus told His disciples, “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” John 16:20b (NIV)

Keeping on the Sunny Side,

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear Alzheimer's: A Guest Article by Debbie Chase

I attended the funeral this week of one of our church members, Don Bird, who had battled Alzheimer's for several years. His daughter, Debbie Chase, bravely stood to Eulogize him. She encouraged us all even while she was grieving. I asked if she would mind me posting her words.

Thank you Debbie. Your words cheered me this week. My family and I watch and pray as my mother, slips away slowly into this terrible disease.

Dear Alzheimer’s,


Heaven called and I have my Dad back.

What a brutal journey you have taken us down these past 5 ¾ years…well, for my Mom, much more than that. No phase of your disease is tolerable except hopefully at some point for the primary victim. As for his loved ones, your path seems merciless and hopeless for about every step of the way. Not only does it take your victim captive but it seeks to consume their loved ones lives, as well. But you know what? You didn’t win.

Before I go on, let me tell you about, Mr. Donald Elmer Bird, Sr., the source of my other 23 chromosomes. The man I got to call my “hero, “ my “sucker,” my Daddy. I was his “Deb,” his “number 2” (that sounded more funny to us than “number 4”), and teasingly and enduringly he called me “son.” I was his baby girl who had him wrapped around both of my pinkies. He knew it, too, and we loved it.

He taught me how to be treated like a lady and how boys were to treat me. Never should I call them nor ever respond to a honk from the driveway. He also advised me, too, that I needed to let them win every now and then in games like bowling, miniature golf, billiards, arm wrestling, etc… Thunder and lightening I never feared. I’d run to my Dad’s side of the bed where he’d safely tuck me in with him not minding my freezing cold feet either. A few years ago, though, he did tell me I needed to get back home to Chris.

He taught me obedience and to NEVER mess with my Mother. He also had zero tolerance for lying and I’m so thankful he did.

My Dad was funny and fun loving and quite the prankster. Also, very clever and witty the way he’d fake losing the breaks down Melody Lane or stop the car half way to elementary school and just tell my little cousin that he couldn’t take her any further she needed to walk the rest of the way. I would just smile (with a quiet giggle, too) and tell her to close the door that she doesn’t have to get out.

Oh man, and he could run SOOO fast! I could never out run him. I just had to collapse, ball up, squeal and surrender when the chase was on.

I witnessed the generosity of my Dad time after time after time. Sooo many people who benefited from his outpouring of kindness and help.

My Dad was so ingenious! He could fix just about anything…even if it did require getting on the roof when the garbage disposal messed up. I still don’t quite understand that, but I knew he knew what he was doing. I do know that McGuyver could’ve definitely learned a few things from Don McBird.

My first car was a 1966 Corvair which he totally renovated for me. Any flat tire, fender bender, or problems with my car all I had to do was shout (literally one time across Ringgold Rd) and my Dad came to my rescue. My friends even inquired upon his car expertise and knowledge and loved their “Don Bird discount and treatment.”

My Dad taught me to drive a car when I was still in grade school (well, steer one that is). What a treat it was driving on the S curves, the highway and Dodds Avenue. Just kidding. He was so patient with me when I thought it was fun to hit the potholes. He also was the one who taught me how to drive a stick shift. We agreed that every girl needs to be able to do that! I backed up Cloud Springs Rd one time in a camero from Newton. Soooo patient as he bit through his cigar waiting for me to hit the sweet spot with the clutch and gear. Whiplash anyone? He never complained.

Forget about trying to beat him at dominos or Rook. He would have everyone’s hand figured out in no time. I can still hear his “ooooooohhhh” or “waddya gonna do now?”

Oh, and he was a stickler on curfew!!!

Most importantly, he set the example and gave me a compass on the importance of need of being in God’s house for worship. I can still hear his little off tuned singing as he joyfully sang to God. I felt his security there literally one Sunday as he lasered his eyes through me as the last warning of writing and passing notes in church. Whew, thank you Brother Bill for that wonderful message on mercy that time. Thy rod was certainly spareth that day!

With tears in his eyes my Dad handed me over to Chris Chase nearly 15 years ago. Do you think those were tears of relief? He loved my husband and always encouraged me to stick it out, make peace, or whatever possible whenever we’d get in a spat. My husband had a super great Father in Law in my opinion, but hey, I’m a little biased, eh?

My Daddy was at the foot of my gurney in the e.r. when I found out we were finally pregnant after such a yucky battle with infertility. He also was my personal chauffer to nearly every doctor’s appointments and of course, Hardees gravy and biscuit runs, too. All I had to do was shout and he’d be there. I am so blessed too, to see right before my eyes this Daddy Daughter bond and blessing being carried on. I am able to pass the baton so to speak and watch my joy and adoration through my own daughters’ little eyes continue on. Such an incredible thing…and I know it will help bridge that sense of loss to the reunion that awaits.

Oh, he loved his grandchildren and was so very proud of them. I look forward to our girls getting to meet him again and remembering what an incredible Gramps he was. One of Abbie’s little hands would shoot straight to his hair and the other hand with her thumb to her mouth. I’m thankful for the photos where they can see the kid in my Dad playing with them to see the one who was the source of their very 1st baby dolls and the latest and greatest baby and toddler gadgets. Such a great Gramps and so very loved. Dad would always say “you couldn’t give me a million trillion dollars for either one of these 2”….”I’d hate to EVER have to be a judge and judge between the 2 of them!”

That’s just a little bit about my Daddy. He wasn’t perfect nor was he meant to or could’ve been. But he was consistent, persistent, and loving and so caring. I was sooo blessed to have him for my 43 years.

So back to you, Alzheimer’s and your destructive path and net you lay for your prey.

I’m very blessed and pleased to inform you that you have lost:

In the ashes, I saw beauty.
In the restlessness and helplessness, I saw the treasure in being still.
In the tears, I saw cleansing.
In the longevity, I saw healing.
In the doubt, I saw consistent hope.
In the pain, I saw refining.
In the separation I saw cleaving.
In the loneliness, I saw bear hugs and comfort
In the lack of control and anxiety, I saw surrender.
In the sorrow would you believe I saw laughter…well, that’s a given with my Daddy.
In the darkness there was always light.
In the not knowing, I saw trust.
In the what if’s, I saw countless provisions over and over again.
At the brick walls, there was always that gentle perfectly timed guidance to those doorknobs in the darkness to the way.

I don’t know if us humans will ever be able to prevent or cure you one day. But I do know your sting had no power or potency. Because He who is in my Daddy already blew your socks off a long time ago.

You may have stolen away dear time from my Dad and us but you did NOT succeed in destroying us. My Daddy is complete again. He’s HEALED! Ridden from the chains and venom of you, whole and healthy, clear headed and vibrant and young again. And I know I will see him again. It’s not so much about the departure as it is about the destination. Such a verrrrrrrrry looooong goodbye but I know, I know the divine and heavenly station where my Daddy has finally arrived.

So, poo-y on you Alzheimer’s. And thank you in a non-twisted sort of way for the ride.

Sincerely,
Debbie Chase




I came across John 21:18 one day where Jesus was speaking to Peter letting him know what kind of death he would have to glorify God I got chills and couldn’t help but think of my Dad: “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” So, Daddy, my courageous warrior and instrument, God accomplished amazing things through you in this awful disease. Too many to try to explain or I’d be going through another ream of paper and several boxes of Kleenex.

I tell you one thing, my Dad’s hero status through this has now been transferred accordingly to The true Hero, Jesus, and to the human hero, my husband as divinely designed. You know, God even had already lined up another earthly Daddy whom He had set up for me 4 years before this happened in the form of my next door neighbor. God is SOOOO good…He goes before us, with us, behind us, beside us and every which way in between. And now my Dad is in His glorious Presence face to face. How awesome is that?

For those of you going through this terrible disease I am so sorry. I tell you there is hope, strength, joy and peace in this nightmare storm. But in order for any of this to behoove you greatly you’re going to need that Someone far greater than anything or anyone in this world to carry you through. I pray that you have that cure already or God grants you the gift of that cure for all ailments. God will provide all your needs in anything and He’ll NEVER leave you or forsake you, let you down or change His mind and he ALWAYS keeps His promises. He is the true source of healing, ceaseless loving kindness, mercy and grace and clean states. And He’s an endless source in Mulligans. He’s got your back, front, sides-in and out and so on.

So…To God be the glory, forever and ever AMEN! And thank You, Father, for my Daddy. He has been such a trooper! What a man! I so look forward to being back in your arms that one fine day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Grateful

Thanks for your prayers, cards and letters, calls, fb posts, and emails. God has answered with successful surgery. Here's the story in a nutshell: Before Christmas, I fell on some black ice on the porchsteps. The doctor said there was a big tear in my rotator cuff and he also found a torn bicep. He said recovery would be a little longer than usual, but if I keep my arm in the sling for 6 weeks and do my rehab, there is a really good chance I will recover full use and strength in that arm. Please keep praying for Anita as she has to put up with me in my recovery.

What Does It Mean to Look for God Wholeheartedly?

God tells us to look for Him wholeheartedly. Jeremiah 29:13-14b (NLT) says “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.

There is something about wholehearted living that allows us to find God. The problem is when we sin we are filled with shame and we try to hide from God, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they committed the first sin. Our wholeheartedness is compromised because we try to hide behind so many things in our shame. We only want to reveal parts of our heart, only parts of our true self. When we do, we give up some intimacy with God.

Jesus died for our sins and allows us to appear before God as righteous and worthy. But we still live as though we are not worthy of God's love and we cover up the shameful parts of us pretending we have no sin. The problem is, even as believers we miss out on the blessings of wholehearted living when we try to hide our authentic selves from God and other people.

In her book, The Gifts of Insecurity, Shame Researcher, Brene' Brown, comes up with a list of do's and don'ts of people who live wholeheartedly. She says the people who live wholeheartedly Do: have a sense of their own worth (I, {Bill} believe we get this from our saving relationship with Jesus), have a rhythm of rest in their life (like a Sabbath rest), make time to play, trust, have faith, have some intuition, have hope, have authenticity, have love, have a sense of belonging, have joy, have gratitude, have creativity.

The don't list for wholehearted "livers" includes: perfectionism, numbing or self-escaping or self-medicating or addicting behaviors, working to exhaustion, self-sufficiency (I can do this all by myself, I don't need anyone), being cool, fitting in, judgmental, live with a sense of scarcity (as opposed to plenty).

Brene' Brown said when she first discovered these truths in her research she says, "'I remember at one point I was actually sitting there with tears in my eyes and my hand across my mouth, like someone had just delivered bad news.' And, in fact, it was bad news. I thought I'd find that wholehearted people were just like me and doing all the same things I was doing: working hard, following the rules, doing it until I got it right, always trying to know myself better, raising my kids exactly by the books…After studying tough topics like shame for a decade, I truly believed that I deserved confirmation that I was 'living right.' But here's the tough lesson that I learned that day (and every day since): How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a wholehearted life: loving ourselves."

Jesus says, love your neighbor as yourself. If you can't love your authentic wholehearted self, you can't obey the command of Jesus to "Love one another, as I have loved you." He also said, "If you love me, you will obey my commands."

We have to love God with our whole heart (mind, soul, strength). But we can't do that if we are still hiding behind those things on the don't list. Let's embrace the truths of the list of do's.
My prayer for myself and you is: "Lord, teach us to live a wholehearted life so we can find You!"