Future Self

No matter how dark my hair gets, my blonde roots make an appearance now and then. When I opened my mailbox there was a single letter inside, with no return address. Much to my surprise, the handwriting was my own. I gasped. My future self was writing to me! Perhaps to warn me of something. Seconds later, I thought, you idiot, that is the self-addressed envelope you sent a few weeks ago to the local tax bureau for a receipt.

Leaving this ridiculous moment in the past, a thought often intrigues us after receiving hindsight. That’s because we have made countless mistakes in life, many of which could have been avoided. But unfortunately we do not have the luxury of steering ourselves in that fashion.

What we do have though, alternatively, is an urgent need to steer those who come after us. As “experienced lifers”, we have an obligation to young people, a duty to fulfill to any who will listen. If you were hearing your words instead of speaking them, what would the message be? What message are we sending our young people?

There is a scripture in the Bible, Judges 2:10, that mentions a new generation that came up that did not know the Lord or what He had done for the people of Israel. How does something like that happen? How could an entire generation turn away from God? Perhaps the previous generation spoke more of today’s troubles than yesterday’s victories. Until young people have experiences of their own with God, all they have to rely on is what information they are receiving from others who have had experiences with Him.

There is a weird connotation with some testimonies, not knowing whether they are real or not. But when we come across one that is false, it shakes our faith. A seed of doubt is planted and if given the chance, it will grow. But not all testimonies are false. Some are very real and cannot be dismissed. I don’t believe God changes the way we do, nor that He is a respecter of persons. We can add to our faith by building on the faith of others. Even if there is the smallest chance that God will do it for me too, I would want to know that it was possible.

But what if we are silent, no longer telling the stories of all that God has brought us through? Miracles start out miraculous, but when time elapses, they became less of a deal to the point which we may be tempted to not even tell the tale any more. However, telling the next generation how God worked in our lives accomplishes two things. First, it illustrates to them the possibilities of how God can work in their life too. Second, it brings to remembrance in our own minds what God has done previously for us, which helps reinforce our faith for the challenges we face today.

There are no do-overs. We cannot erase our past. But while this future self isn’t likely to tell us about what will come, it is in our power to do the next best thing. We have a responsibility to help those who come after us. We can tell them the stories of how God brought us through the struggles and challenges we faced along the way. If they are open to hearing our past mistakes, they have the potential to learn from them without having the often painful experience of living them. If they can build on the foundation God has started in us, then think of the heights they can achieve beyond what we did. Progress is made possible by those who continue to strive to do more and become more. If there were a future me out there, I have a feeling what he would tell me.

“Reach higher!”

Goodbye 2018 (Christian)

Another day and another year that has come to an end. This year was undoubtedly filled with surprises for each of us. For some it was a terrific year filled with great success, family, career, and health. This is likely a smaller number but we are happy for them. For most though, it has been a mixed year filled with ups and downs. There are even some that consistently struggled this year with failing finances, relationships, health, career – you name it. Each barrier stood out as an obstacle blocking the way in our pursuit of happiness.

If you are Christian, you may find yourself reflecting on how good everything went according to plan. Be grateful to God for the work He has done in your life. If all your plans for the year fell into a pit and you are left wondering what is next, be grateful to God for the work He has done in your life. While it seems to be contrary to be grateful for when things didn’t go our way, the Bible instructs us to give thanks in all things.

One of the things that sets Christians apart from others is our faith. We can look like literal fools to the rest of the world. From an outside perspective, we may have every reason to believe that things will not work out. The odds may be against us. The decks may not be stacked in our favor. Failure, even death, may be knocking at our door. The pressure to quit might be higher than ever in times past. Yet we choose to believe. We choose to believe because that is exactly what it is, a choice.

We are called to press forward. Pressing is an action that takes effort to overcome the opposing forces that are at work against us. The greater the opposing force, the greater the strength that will be needed to overcome it. Despite how things appear and how we feel, we press on! Hidden just beneath our weakness is the strength of God, ready to enable us with the power to overcome.

God has promised us so many things. It’s up to each of us to search for what they are. It is on us to choose to believe Him in spite of dismal circumstances. The world is faced with the same challenges, as no group of people are exempt from the troubles of life.

However, others should watch us and stumble in thought as to why…

Why do these people get up when they should stay down? Why do they lift their weary heads high with hope? Why do they refuse to quit? What makes them get up time and time again?

If only we could show them, it is not what, but Who! It is the One in John 14:6 that declared to be the way, the truth and the life. It is the One who promised us an abundant life in John 10:10. It is in Christ that we live. We spend our Christian lives getting to know God through His Son Jesus and His Spirit that dwells in us.

So if you find your end to this year challenging, remember the old saying, carry on Christian solider. A soldier was likely referenced because it is a soldier’s duty to follow orders. A good soldier exhibits courage in the face of fear. They fight bravely through adversity. They rise to whatever challenge awaits them. When obstacles block them, they find a way over, a way around, or by God’s good grace, a way straight through. They look death in the face and say, not today.

I don’t know what came your way this year, how it came, or why. But I believe and trust in my God who is infinitely greater than the sum of all things that work against us. I choose to look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and acknowledge that God is not finished with your story. By the inner working of His Holy Spirit, I choose to believe that He who began a good work in you, shall complete it in the day of Christ Jesus.

To my fellow Christian Believers, keep the faith! Let’s show the world in this new year why we are different!

Happy New Year and may God bless you in the year to come!

Heart Troubles

People take human heart conditions seriously to avoid further complications in life, as they should. Emergency crews rush to a scene to assist. It’s really amazing to see them in action. Many endanger their own wellbeing in the process and have earned a place of respect in our hearts, spiritually speaking. But how do we treat matters of this spiritual heart? Are they treated with urgency or are they disregarded due to their seeming insignificance?

I believe what goes on in our spiritual hearts has a great effect on what we see in our lives. It doesn’t take long to notice someone with a troubled heart. A key indicator of what is in someone’s heart is revealed in their language. When you listen to them, what is coming out of their mouth? Not their vocabulary but the content of what is said. Are they positive words or negative? Bitter or sweet?

Many times we do not even realize what is in our own heart. Another helpful indicator can be found when reading the Bible, which serves as a helpful guide to show you what is inside your heart. The words inside will show things about you, but you must look for them. It’s a huge book after all! For instance, our ability to love others is a reflection of our own heart. If you have a great deal of hatred, we will know it because of the lack of love demonstrated toward others.

Spiritual heart problems may not affect you like a heart attack will, but they are still vitally important. Resolving them can lead to a more joyful life and make your relationships even more special. So if you need help in this area, call on Jesus! Whatever the condition of your spiritual heart is – broken, beaten, crushed…. He will give you a new one, He did for me and I wholeheartedly believe will do the same for you.

The Faith Connection

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The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In a similar way, faith is the shortest distance from where you are now to where you want to be. In order to get to the next level in your life, it’s going to require faith.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is not an easy task. The is a reason you stay is because it feels so good. The moment you step out, it immediately gets uncomfortable. Uncertainty slaps you in the face. Meanwhile, your mind is telling you what a fool you are.

However, faith says, “You’ve got this. Take the next step.” It does not care about limitations, shortcomings, or even failure. It only knows one way and that is forward. Faith is now, acting only in the present tense.

Everyone has been given a certain amount of faith. Therefore, no one can say they do not have any. Perhaps they haven’t used what little they have. Fear is the opposite of faith.

If you were to plant two seeds in the ground but nurture them differently, you would see different results from each. Whichever seed you watered and fertilized the most would grow faster and look healthier. If you did not nurture one at all, the plant would be in terrible shape, and possibly die off. Such it is with faith and fear. Whichever one you feed the most, will grow. Likewise, if you starve one, it will whither away.

Build upon the faith you already have. Exercise it like a muscle to make it stronger. Understand that a little faith goes a long way when it is real, genuine faith.

My Faith is Anchored

Have you ever doubted your faith? I think it is safe to say we all have at one point or another. After all, the giants we face in life can be very intimidating. But don’t worry. Just because your head may be filled with doubt, does not mean your heart has to be also. They are two separate containers. Our minds take in all the information around us, including much of the junk we see and hear. But the Bible tells us we must renew our minds. We can use our minds to determine what goes into our hearts by choosing what we focus on. When your mind gets sucked into negative thinking, tempting you to doubt, know that faith is busy at work in your heart.

Faith takes work. Seldom are great things accomplished overnight. It is rather the result of continued efforts regularly over a period of time. Sometimes it’s really good that faith is something we grow in. Otherwise, when we first start out on our journey of faith, we would be terrified by the giants that stood before us and run from our problems. No, we mostly start out with a small problem. One that barely takes any faith at all. But as we progress, the problems get bigger and bigger. The good news is, so can our faith. The important thing is, to grow our faith and learn from the situations in which it is needed.

Love People

Without thinking about it, the hustles of daily life cause us to overlook the well-being of those around us. It’s not that we are bad people, but unless we stop ourselves and purposefully think about someone other than ourselves, then others will likely be neglected. With determination, we must make a conscious effort to consider others. It’s so easy to ignore other people, most of us have mastered this activity whether we choose to admit it or not. But Jesus made it clear that we are to love our neighbor as our self, Matt. 22:39. The truth of the matter is, we do a phenomenal job looking out for ourselves. It’s time we take some of the focus off us and put it on others. Go and share some love today!