Stress is all around us and unfortunately, within us. We know stress is not good for us. Physically it wrecks havoc with our bodies. Mentally it causes us to make poor, rash decisions and not work up to our full capacity. It causes us to lash out at those around us and causes damage to relationships we once cherished. Having the peace of God does not mean all is quiet in our lives. It means that even though everything is falling down around us, we are still able to hold onto our anchor in the storm and remain balanced and content. Easier said than done! What are some practical ways we can accomplish this so we can have a strong, steady walk with the Lord instead of being distracted and always giving our second best? Stay with as we explore true peace to combat all of the anxiety this world has to offer.
How would you like access to power? This power can change your life, give you things, protect you and even heal diseases! This power is from a source that is unlimited, a source that is generous and a source that truly has your best interest in mind. Sound intriguing? For many Christians, this power is the Holy Spirit and these enticing claims come across as very real. But are they real? Is this what the Holy Spirit is really about or does the truth of the matter look entirely different? Who “gets” the Holy Spirit? When you get it, what does that mean? What does it change? Can we, should we be trying to have the Holy Spirit working in our lives?
Here’s a question...what do the 4th of July and Thanksgiving have in common? The most obvious answer is these two celebrations are uniquely American in that their very founding was undeniably linked to the founding of the United States. The less obvious answer is that these two holidays were also founded in humble recognition of God Almighty. Just read the first and last parts of the Declaration of Independence and the first declarations for Thanksgiving and you will see that God was first and foremost. Here we are about 240 years later and God is no longer first and he certainly is no longer "for most." So, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday what can we do to relight our own fire of gratitude towards God and towards one another? Let’s start by talking about it!
A goose that lays golden eggs. King Midas and the ability to turn things to gold through “the Midas Touch.” A winning Powerball Lottery ticket. Confessing Jesus as your Savior and inheriting an irrevocable one-way ticket to heaven. What do all of these things have in common? First of all, they all sound really good at the outset as they all provide a way to find some kind of wealth without work. It sounds like fun, though if you know the stories of the goose and King Midas, things didn’t work out so well. Secondly, they are all not based in reality, even Powerball. With odds of winning placed at over one in 175,000,000, this translates to “not gonna happen, so don’t hold your breath.” Wait a minute; did I just imply that a one-way ticket to heaven is not based in reality? Yes and no! Let’s look!
People want to be happy. They think about it, they talk about it and they do things do find happiness. The United States' Declaration of Independence speaks of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Yes, we all want to be happy but have you ever thought about “joy”? Have you ever heard of people wanting and pursuing joy in their lives? Happiness and joy have several similarities in that they are both elusive and often fleeting. But joy, well, there is something profoundly special about joy. You see, joy is deeper than happiness. It can become a state of mind that unequivocally transforms you. Here is the catch – if you go looking for joy, you are actually pushing it further away from you. So, how do we find joy? Or more clearly stated, how do we let joy find us and change us in our every day experiences?
So, what is Halloween about anyway? Is it all about the costumes, the candy and the parties? Is it all about the social connections of people actually seeing and talking to other people or the excited grade school kid who gets to dress up like a video game hero? Or is Halloween all about the dead? Is it all about communication with the spirit world, fire festivals and the dark arts? Can dead souls really “cross-over” the boundary of our physical world on this unique night? What is real and what is not? Where did this all start and what has it become? There is a lot more to this than you might think!
Sometimes we forget that life is precious and it is worth fighting for. When someone dies as a result of suicide, that fight has been lost. When we lose a loved one to suicide we might ask ourselves; have we become so entangled in the web of social standing and status that we somehow stepped over and ignore our loved one who was struggling with being able to hold onto the sacredness of life? Were we so absorbed in our own stress and schedule that we were blind to our loved one’s battle or did they do such a convincing job of hiding their pain that the whole thing was just a shocking tragedy? What happened to our loved one that they found themselves drawn downward into a vortex of torment and suffering so dark that they despaired of life itself? How do we better understand and cope with suicide? How does God treat those who take their own lives?
What does it mean to be a Christian? Seriously, what is the real bottom line true meaning of following in the footsteps of Jesus? Is being a Christian like an entitlement program? By professing Jesus do we receive protection from evil, deliverance from trials or the healing of our maladies? Do we receive a promise of an abundant and prosperous life? Or, is being a Christian more like a “getting whipped into shape” work and endurance program where we lose our own will, learn to do without and have to somehow rejoice in tribulation every day of our difficult lives? Is the price of true Christianity a simple acknowledgment of Jesus being in your life or is it a “sell all that we have and change what we are” mentality? What DOES it cost to be a true Christian? Is it a price we are willing to pay?
Trust is a tricky thing. In some instances it comes to us with ease – as children we typically trust our parents above all others. As we become adolescents we often lose that trust, because we have replaced it with trusting our friends who are obviously much cooler and smarter than our parents. When adults, the door once again opens to trusting our parents because, well, because they have somehow become smart again! Now, let’s look at trust from the other side. Parents will or will not trust a child based upon what they see in them regarding maturity and integrity. A child really must earn their parent’s trust and that usually takes time and evidence. It is the same with God? We obviously should trust Him at all times and for all things. The real question here is can – should - God trust us? What must we do or be to warrant our Father in Heaven truly trusting in us?
Defining God is a monumental task. The measure of its difficulty is such that very few will ever follow through with it, for the world is overrun with contradictory myths, stories and legends about the nature and purposes of God. So many stories, so little truth! Defining God requires us to look into things beyond our natural sight. It requires us to grab hold of things beyond our physical reach, and it requires us to believe in things that are beyond our earthly capacity. To know who God is means we would know His character, His mind and what drives Him. Can we know these things? Can we know God’s heart and mind? Can we know God’s plans and purposes? Will knowing God help us to better know ourselves?