Spring in Colorado

In Colorado you never know what you will wake up to. This is what we saw when we put our feet to the floor and opened the shades.

God can bring beauty to your personal circumstances to change our perspective. It’s a matter of looking at what we do have rather than what we are missing. On this journey today, we have the opportunity to open our eyes and see what’s before us.

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Embracing Uncomfortable

Being a proud person is not necessarily a good quality to have, but when it comes to my children, I am proud of all of them. They have given me great joy as they journey through life. One event that occurred yesterday brought this to my attention as my oldest daughter sent me a text about her first book that will be published in June entitled Embracing Uncomfortable. It is already at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and can be pre-ordered for when it comes out.

We all have fears in life that we are constantly dealing with. Public speaking. Snakes. Starting or quitting a job. Confrontation. Relationship issues. Spiders. Driving on freeways. Fears come in all shapes and sizes and can debilitate us from experiencing life to the fullest. This book speaks to these fears and how we can move on from our fears to experience our true purpose in life.

I would highly recommend you buying this book. (From a very proud father). You can pre-order it on amazon.com or on barnesand noble.com. Begin your new journey by experiencing victory over your fears.

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One Man’s Trash . . .

You have heard the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Well it can be said of your’s truly. Nadine and I drove to Owasso to help my youngest daughter move from Oklahoma to Colorado. We have been packing box after box. Rolls of packing tape. Little boxes. Medium boxes. Large boxes. Picture boxes. You name it we have packed with it. Until we came to a mirror that was too big for any of our boxes that we had.

No problem. We called an Aaron’s furniture store and asked if they had any larger boxes. A woman answered the phone and said that if they had any boxes that we wanted, they would be in back of the store. We took off and within a few minutes we arrived at the back of the store to our surprise.

What they had done is that when they wanted to discard mattresses or couches or cardboard boxes, they just opened the back door and threw it out the back. It was the craziest thing to see discarded trash anywhere they could find a spot.

What we really wanted was a large cardboard box to fit the large mirrors in and so I had to go dumpster diving. To my surprise I found the treasure that I was looking for

As I said, “Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure, namely mine. Where there is a will there is a way. On this journey, you never know where your next treasure will be. You sometimes need to be creative and think outside the box. Happy Hunting.

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Playing the Victim

When we talk about the word victim, most of us shy away from identifying with the word because it carries a negative connotation and we don’t want to be aligned with negative messages. But we all have played the victim at times in our lives. When we were little and we didn’t get the piece of candy that we wanted, we might respond to our parents by saying, “I never get any candy!” “You never give me what I want!” “You’re always too busy.” When we get into the teen years and begin to drive, we might have similar messages that we give to our parents. “You never let me drive!” “You don’t trust me!”

We might have been heard during our school years saying something like this. “I did terrible on the test!’ Only to find out that we aced it. We are playing the “wow me” card to get attention and get noticed. The victim is seeking to get attention and noticed for the circumstances they find themselves in. It is not a pretty situation to be in and those around us have a tendency to flee from our presence when we use the victim card.

The victim card can even be played with someone who seems to have it all together. Take the case of King Saul. He was the ruler of the nation of Israel. Over a million people were under his leadership. He had 400,000+ soldiers were at his beckon call. He had servants to make his food and serve him. He had servants to test and serve his wine. He had individuals who would collect taxes so that he never ran out of money. Horses. Chariots. Land. You name it he had it. Yet he fell into the victim mindset as can be seen in the following passage.

“Saul said to his servants, “Listen, men of Benjamin: Is Jesse’s son going to give all of you fields and vineyards? Do you think he’ll make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? That’s why all of you have conspired against me! Nobody tells me when my own son makes a covenant with Jesse’s son. None of you cares about me or tells me that my son has stirred up my own servant to wait in ambush for me, as is the case today.”” 1 Samuel‬ ‭22:7-8‬ ‭CSB‬. “Why have all of you conspired against me?” He had a whole army with him were were going to battle with him and he makes the statement that ALL have conspired against him. “Nobody tells me when my own son makes a covenant with Jesse’s son”. NOBODY tells me anything. “None of you cares about me.” NONE cares about me, no one. Victims use negative all inclusive terms to define their present problems.

Have you ever said to your spouse or close friend, “You never listen to me.” “You’re never available”. “You don’t love me anymore”. “You never have anything nice to say to me.” I could go on, but you get the drift. Whenever we say things that have an all inclusive negative tone to them, there’s a good chance that we are playing the victim card.

On this journey we have the choice to focus on all the positive things that are happening in our lives today. Saul could have focused on all the positive things in his life, but he chose to focus on the negative. Our focus today is one of choosing to look at all the positive aspects that God has done in our lives to become a victor versus a victim.

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When Parents are Abusive

We hear from children as well as from grown adults about the abuse they experienced growing up. The issue seems to have become more pronounced in our society today than a generation ago. The media as well as TV programs are saturated with abusive stories which makes it seem more prevalent. I’m sure that the frequency of parental abuse for generations has been the same, although 50+ years ago, it wasn’t brought to our attention because of the lack of TV as well as no social media.

It is a very painful topic to discuss, especially among people who have experienced the abuse first hand. Sexual abuse. Physical abuse. Verbal abuse. A combination of two or more abuses. The abuse leaves lifelong scars on the victims of abuse and creates negative consequences for cultivating close friendships in the present or in the future.

Early in my life of counseling, I worked with a group of men who were required to attend a sexual molester class as part of their prison time to deal with the reasons for molesting children. What I found very profound is that every sexual molester that I worked with had been molested as a child. You see they experienced love from a parent molesting them and so they carried that experience in life when they became an adult. This pattern doesn’t give them an excuse for what they did, but you can see the negative consequences of abuse growing up that impacted their decisions when they became an adult. What came out of the group encounter is that these molesters began to see how God loved them and their perspective began to change in experiencing love in a healthy way versus what they had experienced growing up.

Physical and verbal abuse as a child have similar consequences for an adult who begins to raise children. Abuse has a tendency to be carried from one generation to another if the abuser doesn’t get the necessary help to see life an relationships differently.

We read of similar abuse taking place in the Old Testament. Saul was the king of Israel and had a son named Jonathan. Jonathan was a great warrior and was also connected closely as a best friend to David. Saul became angry with David for he feared that David was going to take over his throne, so Saul was trying to kill David, Jonathan’s friend. “Then Saul became angry with Jonathan and shouted, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you are siding with Jesse’s son to your own shame and to the disgrace of your mother? Every day Jesse’s son lives on earth you and your kingship are not secure. Now send for him and bring him to me — he must die!” Jonathan answered his father back, “Why is he to be killed? What has he done?” Then Saul threw his spear at Jonathan to kill him, so he knew that his father was determined to kill David. He got up from the table fiercely angry and did not eat any food that second day of the New Moon, for he was grieved because of his father’s shameful behavior toward David.” 1 Samuel‬ ‭20:30-34‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Saul was verbally abusive to Jonathan by calling him a ‘son of a b______’ (son of a perverse and rebellious woman). ‘You are a terrible decision maker’ (you are siding with Jesse’’s son to your own shame). ‘You are a disgrace to your mother.’ When Jonathan tried to talk with his irrational father, His father took up a spear and tried to kill Jonathan (physical abuse). So what do you do when you are in a situation where you are being abused by a parent? For Jonathan he did two things. He got out of the abusive situation. Secondly, he had his focus on cultivating his friendship with David. When you are being abused, you need a safe place to go and find friends who are loving and accepting of who you are and what you are doing. This safe place gives you an environment in which to counter the negative actions and messages that are coming from a parent or someone else who is abusing you.

On this journey, we will come in contact with experiences in life that are very tough and difficult as in the case of abuse. As a child it is difficult to get away from a parent, but as an adult, it is important to make decisions to move to a safe place away from an abusive spouse or partner and find individuals who will accept you for you. God is more concerned for your safety than for cultivating an abusive relationship.

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Where We Put Our Perspective Changes Everything

 Over the past few weeks we have become aware of a new enemy that has taken thousands of lives. It’s called the corona virus. It started in China and has spread to various countries in Europe and has now been found in the United States. Wherever the media has revealed the news of the virus, people have become aware of the threat and have begun to take precautions to prevent it from affecting them. The news has as well created a fear that it might have the same consequences that thousands of others have succumbed to.

This is not the first threat of life that has taken place over the history of the world and it won’t be the last. Where we put our perspective is key to erasing the fears of threats. I was reading in I Samuel a passage that can help with the present fear. It’s a story of a different threat, but the same outcome of people that recognized the threat. It was a confrontation between the Israelites and the Philistines.

“While he was speaking with them, suddenly the champion named Goliath, the Philistine from Gath, came forward from the Philistine battle line and shouted his usual words, which David heard. When all the Israelite men saw Goliath, they retreated from him terrified.” I Samuel 17:23-24. The Israelites were threatened by death from Goliath, a giant that stood 9 feet, 9 inches tall and he was threatening their freedom and their lives. Their response was to run away terrified because they focused on his being able to overpower them and kill them. Whenever we put our perspective on Goliath or the corona virus, the result will be the same. Terrified. Fear. Running from the threat.

But when we put our perspective on God and His ability to be victorious over the threat, a different response occurs as in the case of David, a teenager with his perspective on a God who is victorious. David answered Saul, “Your servant has been tending his father’s sheep. Whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a lamb from the flock, I went after it, struck it down, and rescued the lamb from its mouth. If it reared up against me, I would grab it by its fur, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed lions and bears; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” Then David said, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”” 1 Samuel‬ ‭17:23-24, 34-37‬ ‭CSB‬‬

In the above passage, David focused his mind on past circumstances in his life and how the Lord had saved him from the lion and the bear. How many times has the Lord answered your prayers in saving us from sickness or from an accident or from anything that could have threatened our life. David’s focus was on the God who is able and not on the present circumstance he was encountering, namely Goliath.

On this journey through life, there will be times when we encounter various things that threaten our life. We have a choice to focus on the threats or to focus on the God who gave us victory over the past threats we encountered. Today we need to take care not to put ourselves in the line of fire of threats that come, but we also need to see who the real Power is to take care of our daily threats.

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Do You Believe the Old Press

Have you ever been pigeon-holed from people of your past? You have done something and they labeled you because of your actions and you were placed in concrete of the past. Whenever they look at you they only see you as that person from the past.

I am reminded of a young girl as a freshman had been very promiscuous and was labeled as a slut in her high school. She was referred to me because of her past trouble and we began to work together. Over the course of time she told me that she didn’t like that label and wanted it to be changed. It meant that she could no longer act like the label and had to make changes that would erase the label. It took two years of actions on the part of this young girl to change the label. She first needed to commit to removing the old press of her past.

These labels that people put on us can be our friends, people in the community, or the influencers of labels can be our own family. It is so hard to remove a label once it has been put on us.

I was reading in I Samuel 17 of a label that 6 brothers had put on their youngest brother. David, the youngest brother, was a sheephearder for the family. Three of his brothers had enlisted in Sauls army as they were preparing to fight the Philistines. David was asked by his father to take supplies to his brothers and to get an update on the war. “David left his supplies in the care of the quartermaster and ran to the battle line. When he arrived, he asked his brothers how they were. While he was speaking with them, suddenly the champion named Goliath, the Philistine from Gath, came forward from the Philistine battle line and shouted his usual words, which David heard. When all the Israelite men saw Goliath, they retreated from him terrified. David spoke to the men who were standing with him: “What will be done for the man who kills that Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Just who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

David’s oldest brother Eliab listened as he spoke to the men, and he became angry with him. “Why did you come down here?” he asked. “Who did you leave those few sheep with in the wilderness? I know your arrogance and your evil heart — you came down to see the battle!” “What have I done now?” protested David. “It was just a question.””1 Samuel‬ ‭17:22-24, 26, 28-29‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Eliab had a label on his youngest brother. He saw him as just a sheephearder. He had labeled him as arrogant and and evil heart. Eliab saw David as just an inquisitive teenager that was sticking his nose into other’s business. David’s brother was going on the old news clippings of David and didn’t see what his brother was about to do.

In life there will be times when we make mistakes and those around will begin to label us because of our mistakes. Loser. Lazy. Teenager. Adulterer. Adulteress. Lier. Good for nothing. I could go on and on. We don’t have to believe the news clippings of others. We have a choice to change the past and begin to write our own news clippings. Our journey starts by seeking the One who can transform us from a teenage sheephearder into a giant killer.

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