Archive for seek strength
at times we feel the events of our lives are out of our control. the tide has turned on us and we feel there isn’t anything we can do to affect the rising waters. that may be true and in fact that may well be God working to create a new foundation for us to build upon, changing us drastically for reasons we may not know for many years. however, other times the events of our lives are a series of decisions; choices we have made that will create “the man” we are becoming. these are the times when we have defined ourselves through our actions. these are the moments when we get to take ownership, when the outcomes are good…we may even get an award, a medal and have the approval of others for taking the harder road, for a job well done. and then there are less than favorable time, when our decisions have caught up with us, consequences have set in, relationships strained, doors are shut. and as powerful as our God can be in our lives, His ultimate goal is not to have control over us. He is the puppet maker, not the puppet master. His gift to us is the ultimate “super power of free will” and for each of us to choose our path using the “utility belt” of prayer, scripture, forgiveness, the presence of the holy spirit and so on that He has given. the trick is putting it to good use. and even though we can be ready to fight at a moments notice with our bag of weapons: the sword of truth, the shield of His strength, the cape of redemption and His is ever-present navigation, our battle to stay with Him is always challenged by the evils of our arch-enemy “temptation”. look at the consequences of your life, the good fortunes and the declines, and notice where you were in your faith and commitment in choosing the way of selflessness instead of selfishness, charity instead of greed, the tough path or the easy road, humility instead of pride. notice the times we have fallen and what our focus was at the point of impact. but there is good news….the “super powers” that each one of us have been given to control our continual transformation is innate and renewed each day . the steady hand of God is always extended for the lift we need to rise above our consequences, start again and deliver an impact on the lives around us for His glory. and remember this, powers are only powerful when they are realized. discover the super strength that lies within and discover the God that put it there.
For 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. -Jeremiah 29:11
picture yourself walking up to the sandwich counter…requesting wheat instead of white, cheese or no cheese, mustard, no mayo…etc. then when your multitude of requests are complete, you walk out. or imagine going to a college planning professional or career counselor…asking for guidance and preparation ideas, seeking information on the best way to achieve your goals but when the advisor delivers the tactics customized just for you…you are jamming on your ipod to the latest “one hit wonder”. and so in prayer to God, do we put in our requests, present our trials, beg for a light in our darkness and then walk away? are we waiting for the answers to be delivered via bound document in an overnight fed ex box? do we just go back to what we were doing before and hope our answer arrives like a meteor landing in our backyard? or do we stop ourselves and regularly seek out a holy place, allowing the time and solitude to listen to Him deliver on our requests, opening our eyes, ears and soul to His presence? the unity of the Holy Spirit with God and His Son completes the triad of protection around our challenges, our hopes. the trinity is the full benefit of seeking God. He is a package deal, a three for one…a buy two get one free! but we have to put all three to work in our lives to truly receive solace in the presence of fear and uncertainty. if we use our prayer and faith in God to seek and follow Jesus for His wisdom and example but shut out the voice of the Holy Spirit we may miss the answers to the petitions we ourselves put forth. so first pray, then listen.
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26.
what’s the real deal with the Christian fish symbol? is it that there are so many references to fish/fishing in the Bible? is it that many of the 12 disciples were fishermen? is it that He said He would make us “fishers of men”? (Matthew 4:19). or is it that Jesus was given two fish and 5 loaves and turned them into food for the masses (Mark 6:41) (or was that really about food)? when you see the famous fish symbol, what do you think of? the fact is that the fish has been used since the earliest days of the church to represent Christianity and is often coupled with a greek acronym – ichthys-i.x.o.y.e- which we sometimes see spelled out inside the symbol. so, what the heck does that mean we may ask….Jesus Christ of God Son Savior…did you know that? so, around this acronym lies the outline of a fish. going back to early literature the symbol is referenced by clement of alexandria, born 150 ad. so let’s agree… it’s old! in today’s world, sitting in traffic is the most frequent viewing of this historic symbol. and when we see it we can do one of two things…1. look through it, over it or past it. or 2. we can use it as a reminder of what it may mean to us. for some Catholics, we think of the lenten season and our fasting fridays. for others “the fishers of men” may remind us of the importance of living our Christian faith in order to bring in others by our example. and then for some it may remind us of Jesus’ miracle to feed the masses from only two fish given to him…it was asked though, was this really about literally feeding the hungry, providing for the basic needs of His children, for food? maybe. but like so many words in the Bible, we read a verse one day and it mean one thing, read it a year later and it may mean something else. so here is another interpretation. a perspective that may give an even clearer vision of Him and His infinite potential. it says when we bring anything/or anyone to Him, he will do the miracles. if we pray to Him, go to Him for guidance, take ourselves and through our words and examples;others in front of Him, He will provide the answers, the solutions and meet the needs of all of us. but we have to lay our “fish” in front of Him so He can go to work. think about that. and next time you catch a glimpse of ”the fish” in a parking lot…take the hint…and go to Him with your needs, pray for His hand to help and let Him provide.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Mark 6:41
worry is the most popular past time for the helpless. at the times in our lives when we realize we are not in control and there is little we can do to change a particular situation, this is the mechanism we all choose to keep ourselves occupied until the situation changes again. we fret. we question. we lay in bed with swirling thoughts and analysis of our concerns. we consider possible actions we could take in our best effort to influence the potential outcome of whatever is in limbo and in many cases there is work to be done. but we always find out in the end that the tossing and turning never changed anything, the health related factors associated with our anxiety can be permanent and even dangerous and yet still…the worry never changes anything. pain and disappointment are most certainly guaranteed if we are blessed to have real love for family and friends and aspirations for our own lives. and rarely do we skirt the uncertainty and the unknown. however, some people even choose to participate in their own lives on such a low-level attempting their best effort to avoid the hazardous road to perpetual worry…so they do nothing and as a by-product miss out on the up-side of their own potential. additionally, we all know those who have had more than their share of life’s trials and yet, in spite of it all, still seem to be living positively and are presented to the rest of us as pillars of strength. it is because of those very trials that they have learned to overcome, keep perspective in check and a sharp eye and ear on Him in the darkest days. they have heard His word, felt His presence and learned the hard way that the worry and anxiety does not effect outcome. what does effect the outcomes of our lives is our real response to the trial itself. this response is our opportunity to grow our faith, influence the lives of others and ultimately realize His promise for a wall of protection that surrounds each of us…but only if we let it. when we think our worries are great, they are…to us. but we must never forget to hold them up against the promises of our faith.
Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Luke 12:25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
you might have learned of the “rope and pulley system” in science. you might have used a wheel barrel or a hand cart. you might have seen a boat trailer or a moving van at some point in your travels. what about a crane or a dump truck? do we see a theme here? why do these things exist? because stuff is heavy! do you think there is a parallel between our tangible stuff that is heavy and life’s “heavy load”. heavy stuff like death, illness, job loss, broken hearts and personal failures? sometimes we can’t lift or pull the load alone. if you have ever moved from one house to another you realize who your friends are…the ones that show up to help you “lift things”. our “life stuff ” is no different. when it becomes too much to carry our family and friends come to help with the load. when our internal baggage is more than a “carry on” , are we checking it or lugging it around… alone? and here it is….”check it”. we can not bear the weight of some of the things we have to carry by ourselves. we aren’t even suppose to try. the only way to get the “stuff” from point a. to point b. is to call up HIs strength. why wouldn’t you call your strongest friend to help, especially when He has all the heavy lifting tools? think how hard it would be to go to grocery store for the weeks supplies without a cart. we would drop things, break things and make a mess. we call in the cart, to help us carry our load. call up our best source for strength to help with the heavy lifting, He works every time. He never fails.
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
things are a bit unsettled to say the least …the economy, the job market, and even the cost of waking up everyday is going up. the wars and upcoming anniversary of september 11th always reminds us of how fragile our world is and how quickly it can all turn to dust. many of us are feeling helpless. and in fact, many of us are re-thinking the way we think. if all this “doom and gloom” has done anything it has allowed many of us to ask ourselves if we are where we want to be and if we are doing all we can do…we are looking for a sign for His plan for us. but it is so simple, it is right in front of us. when we are driving out of our neighborhoods we see it on the top of buildings. when we check out at the register it is on the cashier’s jewelry. we have seen it on tattoos and bumper stickers. maybe the sign we are looking for is so obvious, maybe we see it so much that we hardly notice it is right in front of us almost everyday. the sign that completes every one of us is the sign of promise, support, infinite love, sacrifice, forgiveness, selflessness, passion. the sign that embodies the intersection between man and maker. the sign that reminds us of who we are, where we have been and where we are going. the cross, notice again the simplicity. look around you and see if you can get through a day without passing by the sign you have been looking for.
He is always there…you just have to look.
“be still and know that I am God” Psalms 46:10
imagine the cat 5 is no doubt headed for your house. you spring into full panic mode. you make lists, purchase survival items, delegate tasks, protect your property, pack your things and take cover. similarly, when the less threatening personal storms of stress are coming our way we spring into action. be it a big project at work/school or meeting adversity and injustice against us, we obsess about the outcome. we worry about the potential damage. so we take control. we hit our “to do’s”, we lose sleep, we even physically harm ourselves with anxiety as we dodge the lightning and take the heavy winds. unintentionally, our faith can be pushed aside at impact. focus on quality prayer is replaced with clouds of doubt. the time we dedicated to devotion is temporarily replaced with time needed to complete the task at hand. the rain comes, the preparation and protection took hold and the storm has passed. the damage: minimal. the assessment: battered a bit, but never as bad as you imagined it. and now, the sky more blue than it was before and it’s then that we are thankful to God that it’s over. and it is then that we realize we weathered the storm without our protective gear. we headed out into the eye without Him. our forecast for anxiety, worry, pain, doubt and fear is predicted at 100% if we “go it alone”. in the aftermath everything is so clear and we see Him there. at first we want to say…where have you been? man, i’ve been through it. but then we realize who we are dealing with. He was there, he is always there. We only have to seek his shelter.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold
you with my righteous right hand.”
there was a bible school song, “seek and you shall find” with a bouncy little beat. a fun song because as a kid it made you feel like you were engaging in some kind of a game. a “hide and seek” kinda thing. as a child we really didn’t know as much what we were looking for or what we would do with it if we found it, but the hunt sounded fun, so we’d clap along. as we get older the phrase is so very clear…or at least the “find” part is clear. we would all love to find it, maybe it will answer some questions, get us back on track. but the key to the “find” is the “seek”. it’s like winning the lotto without buying a ticket. we can’t find it if we aren’t committed to the looking.
” Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
how many times has fear kept you from opportunity? likely more times than we even know. we are afraid to fail. afraid we’ll look silly. well, the best way to insure failure is to never try. quit before you start. that way there is no way you can ever fail, but remember that is the best way to never succeed. never use God’s gifts to you and never make an impact on the life you have been given or the life of someone else. but that’s not what you want either. so ask yourself what you can do to overcome this fear? you might be missing a chance to change your life in a way that you never imagined you could. if you have a desire to improve yourself, to strive to be something the first thing you do is sharpen your skills. if you are an athlete, you condition, you practice, practice, practice. if you have academic goals, you get a tutor, you get organized and you study, study, study. if you want to take up a new hobby, you gather the information on the internet, you attend lessons. if you want to start a new career, you prepare! you prepare a resume, you prepare for the interview, and for the first day on the job. all this you can do…but how do you march forward in all this without fear of failure? don’t go it alone! take Him every step of the way, he’s the one that put you there, don’t leave Him behind. He gives you strength you didn’t know you had. He gives you stamina to not throw it in at the first sign of frustration. He delivers you from the doubt. He will catch you when you fall..and you will, everyone does. that is the dirty little secret…everyone falls. but it is only those with their faith in tact that will adapt and overcome the fall and be better for it.
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
hey, you ever have days where you feel like you are grasping at air? you can’t latch on to anything? you are desperately reaching out for inspiration, motivation, answers and it just won’t come. the task at hand won’t take hold no matter how hard or fast you swat at it. there is something swirling around you like a bumble bee, you can hear it. you look around and occasionally you catch a glimpse in your periphery, but then it goes away. you feel it all settle for a brief moment…then it’s back again. you reach out, put yourself out there to look silly one more time….grasp…. the air again! why can’t we just get a break? so close to sweet freedom, but denied. sometimes the best thing we can do is stay the course, bear down, keep at it, don’t give up, sharpen your skills, attack! asking God to put the gifts he’s given you to work. but there is another approach, pause and listen. sit in silence. pray. ask. listen…
“Never will I leave you: never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV