When I hear the word “good”, I think of things that bring a smile, or something that is positive in my life or the world. I think of a light rain that waters the grass. I think of a beautiful sunrise or sunset. I think of the embrace of my wife and her kisses. I think of how God describes His creation…
It is difficult for my human brain to understand how a day filled with severe, disfiguring pain can be good. Two beams of wood, three large spikes, and a long walk to Golgotha… can’t be good, right? To think of these spikes, driven into the hands and feet of Jesus Christ as he is nailed to the cross…
To imagine him placed on this cross, where He struggled to breathe, until He breathed His last… All of this while He is forgiving His executors, and inviting the one next to Him to join Him in paradise… how can we describe this as anything but horrific and tragic?
And yet… it was good.
This is Friday and all appears to be lost… but Sunday’s coming… to use all the pain and suffering for the good.
Jesus was placed in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. Along with Nicodemus, they wrapped Jesus’s body in burial cloth. They rolled a big stone over the front of the tomb, and walked away… Their thoughts are not recorded but can you imagine what they were thinking? Burying someone who had taught and performed miracles before them…
Guards were placed outside the tomb for fear that someone might come and take the body.
His disciples hid for fear that His fate would be their own. Women wept and planned to come back to the tomb and give His body the traditional burial treatments.
In their grief, everyone thought it was over… But God…
In God’s economy, the word “good” is not used often. The first time it is used was when God described His creation. So if we take that meaning and apply it to this day of events, we can see He is calling it Creation Level Good! What He is saying is that what has happened on Friday is about to change the world! And change the world in a way that is beyond anyone’s capacity to comprehend.
You see, what appears to be over and impossible… does not necessarily make it so. With God… all things are possible.
Here is the 3rd Installment from the book – Your Life Matters!
The Invisible Pain of Depression/Mental Health
Depression and mental health issues are rampant in our world today. I see it in my work as a counselor and in my capacity as founder of a veteran’s homeless shelter. I live it every day.
As a pastor, I used to run a small group that focused on mental health, and it was the most widely group in the church. Statistics from the psychiatry.org website show that depression is an epidemic. About 17% of people walking around at any given time are suffering from depression
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) statistics showing that up to 25% of the world population suffers from a recognized anxiety disorder and yet, only about one-third of those are seeking any sort of treatment
When we are depressed, we feel like doing nothing. Or worse, we may feel like taking our own lives. We may feel like our lives are over or it will never get any better. We feel like our lives do not matter, but that is a lie.
There have been points in my life when I have struggled with depression. Sometimes it seemed so dark, I didn’t know the way out. One day, in particular, a friend checked on me and I told her I was struggling.
She told me “Get out of the house. It’s too beautiful a day to stay inside.”
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I went outside while we talked.
“Cliff, now drive to Wal Mart. When you get there buy a fall plant, in a planter and give it to someone–anyone you see that might benefit from a little brightness in their day.”
“Are you serious? You want me to go and buy a plant or flowers for someone I don’t know and give it to them? They are going to think I’m crazy. They’ll think I’m a stalker and just weird.”
“Go and do it,” she insisted.
Reluctantly, I got in my car and deliberately drove past the Wal Mart near my home to a grocery store across town, hoping to avoid seeing anyone I knew. They’d certainly think I had lost my mind.
I took a deep breath and plodded inside. A beautiful display of fall plants greeted me near the entrance. At $10 each, I could do this. I looked over the plants and grabbed the first one I saw that looked decent and headed for the checkout.
After I paid for the plant and headed out the exit door, I stood to the right and watched the people coming and going. How strange that no one looked at anyone else. Even stranger that I stood there with an eye for giving something away to a perfect stranger.
Where do I begin? How do I choose? Some people were dressed up and others dressed down. Then I spotted an elderly lady coming out of the store. She took short deliberate steps with her cart of groceries, focused on the asphalt in front of her. She pushed as if she were using all her strength to push a sled uphill.
I walked to her, smiled. “Hi, my name is Cliff, and I would like to give you this plant for your home and maybe if you would let me, help you to your car with these groceries.”
She looked at me with a hint of a smile along with questions on her face. When she saw the plant in my hand, she lit up like a Christmas tree. “That’s the nicest thing anyone ever offered to do for me.”
I unloaded the groceries into her car and placed the plant in the seat next to her.
She gave me the biggest hug I had received in a long time and told me, “You absolutely made my day. Thank you so much.”
For the first time in a while, a smile crept over my face. I told her, “You made a difference in my life too.”
She tilted her head a little sideways with a question in her eyes, and then waved it off and thanked me again.
I’m not sure why I didn’t tell her why I came and bought a gift for a stranger. Somehow it seemed like it might dim the beauty of the moment. It was enough for me to know that I had made a difference in someone’s life. At that moment, that mattered more to me than I have words to express.
The depression that weighed me down, evaporated. That was a miracle to me. In fact, it felt so good, that I went back into the store and did it again and it was just as awesome the second time. I still do that from time to time.
By the way, I ended up marrying that friend who recommended it, but we’ll get back to that later.
I have learned that when you do something for someone else who cannot repay you, it’s as much a gift to you as it is to them.
This is all tied to a psychological theory called “Positive Psychology.” We discuss this at length in the tool kit section of this book. Feel free to skip ahead and read it. It’s important stuff.
Here is part of the first chapter of Your Life Matters. Let me know what you think.
What Can One Person Really Do?
My granny raised my sister and me after our parents divorced. Looking back, I am truly amazed at what she did for us.
Granny took us everywhere, never complaining or griping about it. She simply told us to get in the car with all of our stuff and “let’s go.” I played little league Red Devil football. We practiced three times a week and then played a game once a week in Houston, an hour away.
One time, my game started early in the evening. Granny dropped me off and she and my sister went to get something to eat. On their way back, she turned into the parking lot but missed the entrance and drove into a ditch. A deep ditch. Too deep to drive out of. They had to call a wrecker to pull it out.
They didn’t discuss the mishap in front of me. If my sister hadn’t told me about it, I would have never heard about it.
Granny told me, “Well, Bubba, these things happen. We weren’t hurt. The car wasn’t damaged. No big deal.” She let these things roll off her back like water off the back of a duck.
I learned a lot from Granny’s tales. She told me a story she heard while she was in nurse training. It was about a nurse and a little girl.
The little girl, Annie, had been diagnosed as hopelessly insane. They locked her up in the dungeon of a mental institution on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. People said that this young girl was so far gone that there were times when she acted like a wild animal. She would attack anyone who dared to come close to her. They labeled her Crazy Annie.
Other times, Annie would be completely catatonic and wouldn’t recognize anything. She sat, staring at the walls for days on end. No one knew of a treatment plan or had any hope that Crazy Annie would ever get better. They had locked her up and thrown away the key.
But an elderly nurse, a woman of faith, believed God could do what modern medicine could not. She believed and had hope for all of God’s children and Little Annie was one of them.
So, she started with taking the long trek down to the dungeon every day to eat her lunch outside of Little Annie’s cage. The nurse had a deep desire to communicate her love for Annie as well as God’s love for the girl, but she didn’t know how to reach her. She only knew she had to go.
Each day, she ate her lunch beside Annie’s cage and talked to Annie with no response. Some days she sang for her, but Annie didn’t respond to that either. One day, the nurse left her dessert, a chocolate brownie, beside Annie’s cage.
Annie didn’t acknowledge the brownie beside her while the nurse remained, but when the nurse came back the next day, the brownie was gone. Every Thursday, the nurse would bring her dessert and leave it for Annie. When she returned the next day, it would be gone.
Something began to change through these simple acts of love and kindness that no one could explain. After several weeks passed, doctors noticed small improvements in Annie. Then, after a few months, the improvements were so profound, they transferred her out of the cage and moved her upstairs into a lower level of security. Eventually, the staff allowed her to be among the general population.
Finally, one day the doctors told the formerly hopelessly insane Little Annie she was well and could go home. However, she didn’t want to go. She wanted to stay and help others who were diagnosed as she had been.
You may recognize her name. Annie Sullivan. The same woman who later helped Helen Keller walk out of her darkness and into the light of a future. Helen and Annie inspired generations of people.
One elderly nurse, headed toward the end of her career, made a difference by sharing a few words, a little music, and some dessert. The hopelessly insane little girl who experienced love from that nurse, went on to impact a blind and deaf girl who changed the world.
When my Granny told me about the nurse and girl, I didn’t fully understand it. I thought it was a great story, but when she told me the rest of the story, I never forgot it.
Granny said, “This one nurse’s care and compassion had effectively changed the world. Think about it, Bubba. How many people did Ann Sullivan and Helen Keller impact during their lifetimes, and even today?”
Ever experience the 800lb Gorilla? You know… when it feels like it is sitting on your chest and it won’t move. So you stay in bed until there is just know way you can stay another moment.
Or he could be on your shoulders, making you feel like the weight of the world is coming down on you and you can truly relate to Ayn Rands book title – Atlas Shrugged. But you feel like you are about to collapse… and maybe you finally do.
Sometimes depression is circumstance driven – in other words, there is something going on that makes you feel depressed. This could be from:
Loss – losing a loved one, loss of job, a relationship ending, losing a beloved animal, missed opportunity… and many more.
Feeling of Inadequacy- someone said something unkind, a decision you made turned out bad and you feel like a failure, someone said no to your dream, you didn’t get the job, you are being treated poorly, bullied, …. and many more!
That 800lb Gorilla can also be a chemical imbalance that leads to neurotransmitters not firing the way they should. If you cannot point to something that is causing you to feel depressed, then this is probably it and you need to see your medical professional right away.
Truth be told, regardless of the situation, if you are feeling depressed, seeing a qualified counselor should be the minimum that you do. If you need a recommendation, go to counseling.org and the ACA will refer you to some options in your area. I would also seek out a pastor you trust.
Now that we have established a baseline minimum, there are a few things you should know-
1. You have a 100% perfect record of coming through tough times to date. You can make it.
2. God is not punishing you. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Look to Him and He will see you through. In fact His Word tells us to expect tough times and for life to be so challenging at times, it brings us to our knees – but God is there for you, even in the darkest of days.
So… what can you do, right now, to get past this place you find yourself in? First thing I want you to know is that #yourlifematters. Some of my other posts will help you with that topic.
Next thing I want you to do is called – breaking up the narrative. What I mean by that is when you find yourself in a place of depression, oftentimes we can start to spiral down because of how we talk to ourselves and think about it. What I want you to do is physically leave wherever you are and engage in something different, positive and challenging. Maybe it is a work project. Maybe it is walking down the street/going to the gym, reading a funny and inspiring book or talking to a good friend/family member who always has a positive outlook and knows how to make lemonade out of lemons. Break up the narrative.
Then, I want you to go do something positive and meaningful (albeit small/not expensive) for someone who cannot pay you back or maybe doesn’t even know that you did it… but make sure you get to see the joy on their face. And then I would repeat this 2-3 times a week for the next month. Then I would go to once a week but never less. This has been shown to have an immediate impact on your sense of well-being, aka – happiness – equivalent to getting a 50k bump in salary. If you don’t believe me, google “positive psychology “.
Next I want you to either get a journal, notepad or heck, even a scrap of paper will work. Then I want you to write down one thing that you are grateful for – today. Maybe it’s the air you breathe. Maybe it’s something more – keep it simple. Then tomorrow, write down two things that you are grateful for. And the next day, 3. Then follow up the 4th day with 4, until you get to the fifth day and max out at 5. Now don’t make this complicated – you can use some of the same things day after day.
There are more things you can do but these are a good start. I want you to know that you too can defeat the 800lb Gorilla! I have defeated him on a number of occasions doing exactly the things that I am recommending to you.
Stay tuned for more information on this topic. And never forget- #yourlifematters !
There are lots of cliches like – live like there is no tomorrow. I recently wrote about it and I believe that we have to live well in the day we have. But it struck me this morning that we need to create a disciplined approach to the day, where we live with great intention and focused determination.
I want you to really think about the things that are important – your mind, body, spirit and emotions – should be at the top of the list. You might think, shouldn’t I be thinking of others, instead of myself? While that is noble, it is not helpful in the long run. If we are to be at our best, and doing all that we are called to do – including thinking of others, we need to take care of ourselves. If we do not, then soon there will be no more of us to help those we care about.
Taking care of ourselves has to be a daily discipline. From our diet to some form of exercise, to meditation and reading – not to mention some daily planning, including how we are going to help someone else today – all need to be a part of our day. And it all starts with a great morning routine.
Robin Sharma, who I have the greatest respect for, wrote a book called, The 5AM club. The book talks about getting an early start on your day – 5am and owning your morning. He talked about having the top 3 – 20/20/20. 20 minutes of exercise where you sweat, 20 minutes of meditation (preferably guided) and 20 minutes of reading for self-improvement/mastery. I can tell you, firsthand, that this works, when you work it. I started this program and it was awesome but then …. I allowed myself to get off track and I stopped. I started again and while it was good, it wasn’t as early and I wasn’t as productive as I was.
So beginning today – I am going to get back into the 5am club but I am going to alter it a bit. I am going to workout an hour – between walking/running and weights, we are going to do this. Then I will shower and do my meditation/journaling/devotional time of 30 minutes. I will then follow up with at least 20 minutes of reading or listening to something for self-improvement. This will be the investment I make in myself for 6 days a week – with one day of full rest.
I believe that this will be a great personal investment in me, so that I can be my best for the work that I am called to do.
I am going beyond the 20/20/20 because I know that I need more of certain things to be my best. I began with 20/20/20 and grew from there. I would recommend you do the same. Maybe 20×3 is exactly what you need and if so, go for it. If you get started and need more – then adapt it to meet your needs.
One advantage to getting up and moving early, is that I am in a perfect state to get some really good and creative work done, before the phone begins to ring or the email starts to explode. Between 7am and 9am, I can get a good two hours of writing and recording in, the rest of the day will be a huge success – own your morning – win the day.
Now don’t get me wrong, my day and workload is different from yours. You may have more time or less time – everyone is unique in the demands that life and family puts on them. But, I want to make it clear, today matters and by getting up earlier and creating a routine for yourself that builds you up physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, your life will be better. You will feel more confident. You will be able to get more accomplished and each day will feel like a win. Maybe all you can do is walk around the block, read a devotional and listen to a book on Audible while you get ready for your day – I call that a win.
Here is the main idea -Today matters because it is what we have been given. So invest in yourself in meaningful ways by getting up and taking care of yourself before you launch into taking care of everyone else. If we are going to be at our best, to make this day matter – most, then investing in ourselves is our first priority of the day.
Two Questions I always ask those who are assembled –
Is there anyone that can see any reason why these two should not be married, if so speak now or forever hold your peace?
Who here will be willing to support this marital union with the love and support they will need on this life long journey?
Marriage is an institution created by God – We find this in Genesis 2:24 where God says –
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.”
(Talk about the meaning of leave & cleave)
Instructions for Husbands continue –
1 Peter 3:7 – Likewise Husbands, dwell them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel
(Talk about knowledge – come back to weaker vessel in the Unity Heart)
Then finally – Ephesians 5:25
Instructions for Wife – Ephesians talks a lot about marriage – one of the main things I want to mention is the idea of respect – Which is the greatest need of men – to be respected and Eph 5:33 tells us this clearly. Earlier it also talks about submitting to your husband, as to the Lord, as the head of the house. While I realize that some of these concepts are not popular in todays society, I can tell you that if you have a marriage filled with the love of God for one another, it is as natural as breathing, especially when we look at a previous passage that tells you guys to submit one to another in the fear of God.
After hearing all of that – let’s proceed with the vows.
“Will you (Gary Ken Briden, Jr./Amanda Lee Cosby) have this woman/man to be your wife/husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor, and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?”
Then Repeat after me
“In the name of God, I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.”
Exchange of rings
Rings are a symbol of love and the nature of love that has no beginning or end. You see I believe that this kind of love is a gift from God, that was ordained from long before and was therefore just waiting to be discovered and it just continues through eternity.
Ken – repeat after me – “With this ring, I thee wed.”
Amanda – repeat after me – “With this ring I thee wed.”
Prior to this wedding we had two hearts here – and they are represented by these two sculptures. The grooms is the outer and the brides is the inner. The grooms is representative of a sturdy sense of strength, protection and security but by itself is empty. The brides heart is represented here as an intricately carved piece of artwork, beautiful but by itself is left unprotected – I want to talk a moment about the Biblical Idea of the “Weaker Vessel” and what this means…
When we put these together, by themselves they are beautiful but still there is a third element that ties it all together and makes them one – the power that created the Universe, who invited love and marriage – God Almighty.
I now pronounce you husband and wife – you may kiss the bride.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I be the first to present to you – Mr. & Mrs. Briden!
This weekend, I was asked to perform a wedding, as an ordained minister, it isn’t my first time but it was really special – this was my first time back in this role in almost two years and it was for a good friend who works for me. I have seen this friend of mine go from homeless to hopeful to hopelessly in love and it has been a beautiful transformation to watch. The pain of a past relationship/marriage breakup, whose wounds were still fresh, seemed to be soothed and healed by the refreshing balm of love. This is beautiful – transformative.
I included my notes from this wedding just as a backdrop to a larger truth – if we set out with our hearts open to what God has for us, we too can experience the beautiful and transformative love of our Creator. It may not be in the form of a wedding, a new relationship but it will always be miraculous.
In this life, we see so much… but the two constants are the unchanging love of God and the fact that everything else around us is changing. So with everything around us changing at the speed of technology, social media and the general craziness this world brings to us everyday, I believe that having a firm foundation in love of God, whom is unchanging, is essential.
With so many hurting people in this world that are in dire need of love and positive change in their lives, along with a positive self-image, that is not drive by social media or the trends of the day, I am modifying the name of this blog to – #YOUR LIFE MATTERS – The Transformation Project. My goal is to change the world, one story, one life, one heart at a time.
But I will let you in on a little secret – I can’t do it by myself. Will you help? Will you share the stories, commit to helping one person have a better life this year and encourage others to do the same? If so, together, we can create a movement that truly does change the world.
My Bible study this morning in 2nd Chronicles 21 led me to the tragic story of King Jehoram, the son King Jehoshaphat. Things started out so well for him. He saw the amazing miracles that occurred due to God Almighty and the faith of His father. According to scripture he was given the kingdom because he was the oldest of many brothers. He was given much gold and silver – there was nothing he wanted that he wasn’t given.
Yet when he became King and had established himself, he killed all his brothers, married King Ahab’s daughter (the daughter of Jezebel) and led the nation of Judah in the ways of idolatry and sin. His life got off track.
But even then he was warned. The prophet Elijah sent him a message telling him of bad things to come if he didn’t turn back to God. The young man didn’t listen. So the enemies came and began to destroy Jerusalem. Where the faith and godly life of his father had brought peace, the lack of faith and godless life of the son broke the country into pieces.
The King was then plagued with a stomach illness that was incurable and things ended so badly for the king that no one mourned his death.
My question for all of us today is: What are we doing? Have our lives gotten off-track? Are the warning bells ringing? Do we have people coming up to us asking: Is everything alright – you just don’t seem right? Have we gotten in over our heads in debt? Has an old addiction crept back in? Is some demon of the past raising its ugly head again and you have begun to lean that way? How about depression – has it come to sit on your chest like a 800lb guerilla, that has no plans of leaving any time soon, leaving you alone, feeling hopeless, defeated and lost? How about anxiety – worry – nervousness….etc.
None of that is from God, so it means that we may have gotten off-track. You may be thinking that since you haven’t as far off as our King Jehoram that this doesn’t count for you – but it does.
Getting off God’s well lit narrow path can be as simple as walking in a way that is not God focused. In Amos 3:3 we are told that two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. So that means either we are in agreement with God and therefore walking with Him or we are walking away from Him. When we are walking away from Him, we are walking into our very own demise.
So what do we do about it when we discover this? Well let me tell you what I did and maybe it will help you. This afternoon I didn’t want to get out of bed. I am struggling with looking for work and I just didn’t want to get back to it today? I hated the idea of putting in another resume or filling out even one application and answering all the questions that the new online job profile screening programs give us. I tried to sleep it all away but it didn’t go away. So I prayed,
“LORD, What do you want me to do?”
I heard in a very clear and concise way in my spirit,
This is not the answer that I wanted, so I asked again and guess what answer I got back –
So I came and got on my computer and thought, Lord, what do you want me to write about – That was when I was reminded about the bad choices of Jehoram that I studied this morning and how he ignored the path of his father and the word of The Lord spoken directly to him by the prophets and how this led to his total destruction.
This story resonated very deeply with me and where I was at today. I was reminded that rarely does a person wake up one morning and decide that he or she is going to go into full on rebellion against God – it’s usually a progressive thing. It is that step by step movement away from the LORD that leads a person down that path into darkness.
What I have learned is that when I begin to feel a separation from God that it is me that has moved away and not God. I know that depression is not of God. I know that anxiousness is not of God. Addictions are not from God. I know that when my mind and heart is stayed on Him that I am at perfect peace. When I look away, I am looking into the abyss of my own demise.
My advice today is to check yourself in the mirror. Where are you going, what is the recurring message between your ears and if it’s not from God, what are you doing about it? God wants the best for His children and therefore we need to look to Him for His gifts and fruits of the Spirit – like peace, joy, love and … When we do, we find that He is right there to lift our burdens, dispel the darkness and restore our joy. One of the simple things I started doing when I feel down is to turn on Christian radio or Spotify through the internet and listen to the Contemporary Christian Mix or Worship Mix. Just hearing the Lords name being praised brings a peace that is hard to explain. But I know that this is a very Biblical response because we find that when David played music for Saul that the tormenting spirit had to leave. It still works today but it doesn’t work with other types of music. Why, you ask? It’s simple – one comes from God and the other does not. One leads you to God and the other must by its very nature lead you away from God.
We must constantly remain on the path that God has for us – for if we are left to our own devices, we will get it wrong. This may also mean that we have to separate ourselves from the other negative influences – the people, places and things – that surround us and try to drag us back into the pit and then do the very best they can to bury us there.
This can be very hard because it requires that we make difficult choices. We will save that discussion for another day. Suffice it to say that today, if you find yourself in a pit of despair or way off-track, do the first right thing and that is to pray and ask for God’s help. Seek His direction and then just do it. Then I want you to put His word in your ears and it will slowly lift that big ugly burden and before you know it your singing along and laughing.
I want you to know that the Creator of the Universe is just one prayer away – call on Him and return – you can never stray too far – His reach spans the entire universe and He can and will restore you, if you will just call on Him – turn to Him. He is waiting today – will you call on Him. I did and it made all the difference.
As I was studying this morning I thought I would start writing about what I am studying. Since it is God’s Word I believe that it is significant.
I began this morning in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles chapter 14. In it we find the story of King Asa of Judah. We will stick to the chapter at hand and not get ahead of the story. A little background though might be helpful. Asa had a good father who followed God. His name was Abijah. He stood up against the evil King Jeroboam in the name of the Lord and spoke words of great faith and courage in the midst of overwhelming odds. Jeroboam tried to be sneaky and do a flanking maneuver while Asa was telling Jeroboam about God and how he needed to get right. Well Abijah saw what was happening and cried out to God.
When a man of God, cries out to God before his men and leads them in a godly way, this gives them courage as well. They know that they can trust God because their leader trusts God. So the men shout – the priests shout and blow the trumpets. This whole scenario had to make God smile. Men who professed Him as their God and Father and Savior, calling out to Him for deliverance and then stepping out in faith into the battle trusting that God would indeed do what Had promised to do.
God did and the enemy ran for their lives. They ran for their lives, even though they were superior in number. They ran for their lives, even though they had the tactical advantage. They ran because they were no longer fighting man, they were fighting God Almighty. One man or woman, fighting in that power, is the overwhelming force of the day and will carry every battle to victory!
Now that I have told you a little about Asa’s dad, let me tell you a little about Asa. The chapter begins with telling us that “…Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God:” vs.2
What did he do to earn such an acclaim – He took away idols, their altars, the places where these idols were worshipped and led the nation to worship God, the God of their fathers and to live in accordance with His word.
Can you imagine for a moment if our leaders took such a stand? What a different world this would be. But let’s not stop there, in fact let’s begin with ourselves. How different would our lives and families be in we led our families in this way? It would require that we lead by example more than word. It would require that we know God, have a personal relationship with Him. It would require that we take time to worship Him, pray to Him and share what we study with those that we love. It would require that we destroy the idols, altars and remove ourselves from the places where God is not honored.
This is tough but if we want the blessings, the abundant life and the peace that passes understanding we need to learn what it means to take up our cross and carry it daily. Our cross is the cause or mission that God has placed on hearts that is worth dying for dying for. So let me ask you a question:
1. Are there idols in your life? (an idol is anything we give an inordinate amount of affection or another of looking at it is – Is there anything in your life that takes you away from what God would want you to be doing? If so this could very well be an idol.)
2. Do you know God’s word?
3. Do you spend time with Him?
4. Do you truly know God – I don’t mean know who He is, I mean have a personal relationship with Him?
I know that there was a time, ok the majority of my life where, if I was absolutely honest, I would have to say that
– yes I had idols.
– No I didn’t know God’s Word
-No I didn’t spend time with Him.
– (And here is the clincher ) I had no personal relationship. I was lost.
But glory be to God I am not there any longer.
Asa was given mighty victory and I have seen victory in my life as well, now that I have not only turned my life over to Christ but seek Him daily. He has transformed me, and brother or sister, if you knew me, you know that I was in dire need of some serious fixing – I was very broke.
If you are struggling today – look to Him. Lean into Him and He will do more for you and with you than you can ever imagine. I still have a long way to go, but thank the Lord I am not where I use to be.