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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Addictions Come in all Shapes and Sizes


When we think of addictions, alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, etc. come to mind. On television in the last two weeks, the themes of several TV drama series have focused on the opioid epidemic that was started by doctors prescribing opioids to patients who had pain and eventually got hooked on the drug. We hear of individuals shooting up and dying from overdoses. But addictions also come in various other forms.

I never thought that addictions were part of my life until recently. Over thirty years ago, we went into Gene’s Boot Store In Flagstaff, AZ and I bought my first pair of brown lizard boots. I still have that pair of boots, but they have become too small and I have subsequently given those boots to my youngest daughter. If only that was the end of the story. I went back to Gene’s and he had a pair of light tan ostrich boots with the ostrich going all the way up the boot. My second pair of boots.

Long story short, I have 12-13 pair of boots ranging from ostrich leg to hippopotamus, gator belly to American alagator, sting ray to shark, python to rattle snake. I have a weakness for boots I have to admit. I am addicted as these are only a portion of my collection.

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I was telling one of my relatives of my addiction for boots and she informed me of her addiction for earrings. I asked her how many pair of earrings she has and she couldn’t count them. She told me that she found some that she had never warn but had but them in her jewelry chest and had forgot them. It could be shoes as in the case of Ameldo Marcos, wife of former Philippine president who had 6000+ pairs of shoes.

Addictions happen when we find ourselves being unable to say no to whatever is before us and we become weak in the knees to set limits or boundaries. I was reading about a Judge over Israel who had an addiction for women who’s name was Samson.

“He went back and told his father and his mother, “I have seen a young Philistine woman in Timnah. Now get her for me as a wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Can’t you find a young woman among your relatives or among any of our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines for a wife?” But Samson told his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”” Judges‬ ‭14:2-3‬ ‭CSB‬‬. “Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and went to bed with her.” Judges‬ ‭16:1‬ ‭CSB‬‬ “Some time later, he fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the Sorek Valley.”
‭‭Judges‬ ‭16:4‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Samson’s love for women caused him to fall into their temptations. You can read the rest of the story of Samson, but his addictions to beautiful women caused him to compromise his vow to be obedient to the Lord and fall into a place where his gifts and abilities were taken away.

All of us have our addictions. Succumbing to those addictions have negative consequences associated with our choice to say yes. We first have to understand that we have an addiction and be willing to set up healthy boundaries to stay away from the temptation. On this journey, all of us are or will be tempted with something or someone in our lives. Turning to the Lord to gain insight and guidance can prevent a lot of emotional, physical, and relational pain.

 

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Visible versus Invisible


Our society is caught up in what can be seen. Fashion is a billion plus dollar a year industry because it knows that what people wear is noticed day in and day out. We spend countless hours in our closet picking out just the right outfit to be seen by those we come in contact with. I have been colorblind since birth so what I see is different than what others see and I haven’t been into color coordination as a result of my limitation.

But I have been on the roller-coaster of weight control over my lifetime. Sometimes more concerned at times than at other times. I see in the mirror things that I don’t want to see and causes me to either feel guilty or take steps to try to get the weight off. What is visible to us and to others marks our minds and causes us to make an evaluation about ourselves or others unfortunately. It could be the weight that we carry or how tall we are, or our physical abilities. But we all at one time or other get sucked into looking at the visual impressions that our eyes see and respond or react accordingly.

What’s different when we connect with the Lord is that His perspective of us is not determined by the visual attributes of our make-up. God had determined to change leadership of Israel by replacing King Saul with someone else. Saul was a physical specimen who was head and shoulders taller than all the other individuals living in that nation. He was chosen by the prophet Samuel before and Samuel had the task of choosing the new king to replace Saul.

So what does Samuel do when he is given the task of finding a new king for Israel? He looks at the same thing that you and I would do. He looked at the physical appearance of potential candidates. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”” 1 Samuel‬ ‭16:7‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Think about this passage for a minute. God does not care how tall we are. How short we are. How heavy we are. What we are wearing. Whether our hair is combed or messy. Whether we have a sweater on or not. Whether we have boots on or shoes. Whether we have gained all the weight we lost. God does not look on our physical appearance. Period. He is not looking at how smart we are. He is not looking at what we have accomplished. He is not looking at how much money we have accumulated in the bank. He doesn’t look at the physical attributes that take most of our thought process.

God looks at the heart. Period. He is looking at our intentions when we say or do certain things. He is looking at the attitudes that drive our actions. He is looking at our motivations for the actions that we take. None of the physical things that we spend so much time with is of interest to the Lord. He is only concerned with our heart as we go about our daily tasks. How would our daily lives and our thoughts about our life change if we plugged into what is most important to the Lord? How much time could you save if you had the mindset of the Lord? What would happen to your productivity if you focused on cultivating your heart versus your physical appearance? What about your relationships with others? How different would we parent if we had this mindset? What would our marriage relationships be like if we focused on cultivating our hearts versus our physical characteristics?

On this journey, we have the opportunity begin to change our mindset from looking and cultivating the physical aspects of our life to cultivatIng our heart, our attitudes, and our motivations. We can choose today to begin this transformation process by seeking the One who has the power to change our hearts.

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Love to Hate


How does relationship that starts out loving one another end up hating one another? How do soul mate connections that are in love end up with a hatred for one another? What happens to a friendship that has so many common attributes alike end up with no common traits and a feeling of hatred for one another? Why are 50% of marriages today that started out with love for one another end up in the divorce court. Today 86% of marriages are unhappy, yet they got married because they loved one another and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

There is a relationship in the Old Testament that went the direction of love to hate in a matter of months. It’s the story of King Saul and David. Saul was needing someone to play music for him when he was down emotionally, and David was one in his kingdom who could play the harp. “When David came to Saul and entered his service, Saul loved him very much, and David became his armor-bearer. Then Saul sent word to Jesse: “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor with me.”” 1 Samuel‬ ‭16:21-22‬ ‭CSB‬‬ The relationship started out well but it didn’t end up that way.

God had taken the kingship away from King Saul and had given it to David, a shepherd of sheep. King Saul didn’t obey what God wanted him to do and decided that a new leader needed to be put in charge of the nation of Israel. As you read the story, King Saul began to look at the negative aspects of David rather than the positive. David comforted King Saul by playing his harp. David was handsome. David was a valiant warrior. All of these traits Saul loved and was knit to David because of the positive traits that David brought to the table.

Over the course of time, King Saul began to look at the negative aspects of David. When David went out to battle, the people would say that Saul had killed his thousands and David his ten thousands. King Saul became jealous of the gifts and abilities of David and his love for David turned into hatred. “Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had left Saul.. . .When Saul observed that David was very successful he dreaded him.. . .Saul sent agents to David’s house to watch for him and kill him in the morning.” I Sam 18: 12, 15; I Sam 19:11

When we become jealous of the ones we love and don’t resolve the difficulties that come to every relationship, it begins a journey of looking at the negative aspects of that person. It turns our positive feelings about that person to feelings of jealousy and hatred, even to the point of wanting to terminate the relationship.

On this journey, we have a choice to take our present relationships and cultivate positive feelings by looking at the positive traits that they bring to the table, or allow our minds to dwell on the negative aspects of that person. The positive traits that drew us to that person are still there. We choose to dwell on the positive or negative traits of that person. Choose wisely today.

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Hannah, the Childless One


As I was reading about Hannah in I Samuel, it took me back to the early days of being married to my late wife. We had been married a few years and began to try to get pregnant. I never thought that getting pregnant would be so difficult. After ten major and minor surguries to get pregnant, we were left with the same circumstances that we started out with. No pregnancy. No children. Childless.

It was painful to go to our young couples class and hear on a weekly basis that some couple had just become pregnant and were celebrating their great news. For us, it left a pit in our stomachs because we wanted a child so badly and couldn’t. It was painful. We had an empty feeling that nothing could fill. There were a lot of tears during those years of trying to get pregnant and never fulfilling that desire.

Hannah is one of two wives that Elkanah had in Israel. One (Peninnah) had children and one did not (Hannah). This had been going on for some years and we pick up the conflictual relationship between Peninnah and Hannah in verse 6. “Her (Hannah’s) rival would taunt her (Hannah) severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Year after year, when she went up to the Lord’s house, her rival taunted her in this way. Hannah would weep and would not eat. “Hannah, why are you crying?” her husband, Elkanah, would ask. “Why won’t you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than ten sons?””
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭1:2, 6-8‬ ‭CSB‬‬

When you are in the situation of being childless, a husband who tells his wife to stop crying is not very sensitive to her present needs. He also compared himself to having a child and said that he was better than Han ten sons. I’m sorry, but no matter how wonderful Elkanah was, comparing himself with 10 sons is not very sensitive for a woman who had been taunted for years for not having a child. When in that situation of not having a child and wanting we could learn what not to say to our wife.

Fortunately for us, God provided over a period of 18 years three wonderful children through the adoption process to fill the emptiness in our hearts. For those reading this jlog who haven’t gotten that hole filled, I can understand your pain of wanting to have children and not being able to


When you want something so badly such as a child and can’t have what you want, it causes you to have great pain. The longer the situation goes on, the harder it becomes. On this journey of bringing children into this world, I’m here to tell you that the journey isn’t finished for you. As you read the rest of the story of Hannah, she sought the Lord during those many years of being childless and her prayers were finally answered. As were ours.

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The Twirling of the Little Finger Begins


Have you ever eaten something that was so good that you became addicted to it. You had to have that piece of candy and nothing would stop you from purchasing that piece of candy and gobbling it down. It may be an exhilarating experience of going skiing and being so addicted to speed that we spend every free moment seeking to fill up our appetite. It could be a relationship where our emotions are so tied to a significant other that we minimize the negative aspects of the relationship to cultivate a potential destructive connection with someone that isn’t good for us ultimately.

Well a little girl came into our lives today as we traveled from Denver to Phoenix to meet our new little granddaughter, Ava Blake Gorton. Mind you, I’m not comparing my granddaughter to addictive negative behavior. Not at all. She is a joy to be with as can be seen in the picture below.

But when she looked up to me with those beautiful eyes, it was all over. She had me wrapped around her little finger.

On this journey, there are going to be things that we say yes to and there are things that we need to say no to. We have the choice on this journey when to say yes and when to say no. For my part, this new journey is a big yes.

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