A Reason for the Hope

Reason for the Hope

A Reason for the Hope

1 Peter 3:14–16 says:

“14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (KJV).

A more modern translation of the same reads:

“If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath” (The Message).

Or more conventionally:

“14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame” (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

I was prompted to write this post because of what I had been reading online with regard to attacks on the Christian faith. I have noticed more and more how hostile people become when they write a post confronting a believer online. They always want to know why or what is the Reason for the Hope we hold to. I’m not terribly surprised by this but it struck me for some reason how savagely some people will attack your faith. The question then is how should we respond? What is a reasonable answer for the hope we hold in our hearts?

A recurring theme by many nonbelievers, atheists in particular, is that Christians are stupid individuals, gullible, easily duped by fairy tales and made up stories. They attack with vigor the existence of the Almighty and anyone who subscribes to a belief in His presence and His gospel is a fool. Many times I have seen them attack the sanity of Christians and demand a Reason for the Hope we have in our hearts for what Jesus Christ has promised. They routinely posit that our arguments for the existence of God, our faith in Jesus Christ or our desire to follow Church teaching is based on fallacy and error, that we err because we cannot prove our case in any natural sense. They seek proofs based in science and the scientific method and when we do not offer any, they take this as a sure sign that we have not a foot to stand on.

I Peter 3:14-16 admonishes believers to be ready to respond to critics and unbelievers and to do so with humility and a meek heart. Our response should be reasoned but without malice. The essence of the passage in my opinion is that we must be ready at all times to defend why we love our Lord and why we place our hope in Him. We should be able to explain why we love Him. We should be able to say why our hope for eternal life, a better life, a happier and more fulfilled life, both now and in the hereafter, rests with Him. What is the Reason for the Hope we have?

The passage doesn’t tell us to argue with unbelievers. The passage doesn’t say that we are to fight against people in word or deed about their skepticism. We are instructed to give a Reason For the Hope we have. Here is why I think the passage tells us to give a Reason for the Hope we have or defend our hope in Christ with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:16): anger is a fear response. Anger is provoked out of weakness and insecurity neither of which should a Christian harbor if they are resting in Jesus Christ who has not given us the spirit of fear but of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). You argue and fight with someone when you only rely on yourself and you feel over matched. You don’t fear when you are confident of the outcome or when victory is already guaranteed right? So the passage is about resting in the sure knowledge of your salvation; thusly, you don’t have to fear and argue with unbelievers about this faith you have. You can respond in humility because you know what you have received and you realize what the opposition is missing out on, that God’s grace would so abound in your life as to bathe you in eternal life when you rightly deserved death and this is humbling.

So minus fear, we are free to speak of our heartfelt love for Him who first loved us. We are free to discuss the bloom in our life since coming into the truth and hearing the good news. We can give our Reason for the Hope we have in Jesus Christ in confidence. We are free to defend our right to embrace the free gift of God. Bottom line is we believe because we have a free will and God has graciously given to each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) so that with what little we have, we can gain all!!
So don’t take these attacks personally. You have a right to believe in God and no one can take that away from you. Share your joy with whoever asks, share your hope and love with whoever questions you, but never fear that your answer will be inadequate. There is no wrong answer to the question of why you believe in Jesus Christ!! Also remember this one last thing. I Peter 3:14-16 does not instruct us to defend God!!! The Father is more than able to defend Himself. He has that well covered I believe. All He asks of us is to share our hope with them that don’t have hope. Speak from your heart and take comfort in His grace. Your Reason for the Hope and love you have for God will be sufficient for the task.

Slugging it Out

sweet_temptation

I can’t really explain how this thing works or how it begins.  I mean I have read the books and been privy to some very good teaching on the subject.  Heck, I’ve even taught a few lessons myself.  None of that really helps right now though because even though I know what to do, there remains a stubborn inner desire to experience the release and the estacy that erupts when I let lust run its course.  I feel like I’m slugging it out everyday just to survive.

Honestly, I do have accountability partners and I do know how to pray and fast but none of that removes the taste, the desire, the inner drive to let my flesh have its way.  At times its so dibelitating and confining.  It shapes what I do or what I plan to do and it makes me feel so empty, so guilty and ashamed.  I know that I have the cross of Christ to bear my burdens and I also know that His helping hand is just a prayer away, but for some reason the need remains ever present.  It’s like a fungus that just grows and grows no matter how I try and clean and scrub and sterilize things.  It just keeps coming back and I for one feel so foolish having to constantly ask for forgiveness.  But I do anyway because I want to live and not die beyond His grace. I have to keep slugging it out!

I do understand that God’s grace is sufficent for all my needs, for my every weakness, but I really do want to stand on my feet and hold my ground for once.  I want to walk away from it and know that I got the victory, that I didn’t bend or break, that I held fast to His unchanging hand through my temptation.  I want to be as strong as Christ was when He was tempted in the wolderness.  I want to be like Him and refuse to give in to the tempatations that were presented.  He is my hero and I mean that in a real way.  He suffered so much but He made it through and sometimes He made it look so easy.  I know, I know, He was God manifest in flesh but He was also very human thanks to Mary.

I’m just venting tonight because I’m tired of losing and coming up short.  I believe I am more than a conquerer.  I just have to learn to be more like Him and trust Him.  I have to keep slugging it out no matter the cost.  Actually as I sit and contemplate this even more I realize that what it comes down to is a slug fest, a brawl, a knock down, drag out fight to the finish.  It’s not about playing nice or being honorable with my opponent.  I can’t fight fair in this thing.  I can’t afford to.  I have to utilize everything at my desposal.  I can’t even take prisoners!  It just too dangerous to let anyone but me survive this fight.  This I believe is the mental attitude I have to have.  I have to think this way because if I only approach the fight in a half hearted way, myy enemy will see my weakness and rip me a new one.  I already have enough of those and don’t care for any more.

So yes, I may be down for now but I am definitely not out. I have to keep slugging it out. I have to go nuclear.  I have to use all the weapons God has made available to me.  This is what I haven’t been doing.  I have been making assumptions about my future based on past victories.  I believe this was a grave error on my part.  Everyday is a new day and lessons are learned afresh.  I have to change my mind set to break from the past notions that what I achieved before is sufficient high ground for me to stand upon today.  I cannot fight tomorrow’s war with my flesh using my past victories.  Don’t get me wrong.  Past victories are very motivating and help me remember that He who delivered me before yet reigns and is able to do so again.  But I have to make new commitments, new promises to myself and new affirmations that I can live victoriously through Christ. So I will continue to slug it out and survive even though I may fall from time to time.

I know that my Savior lives.  I just have to make sure I act like that every day.

Sharing Is Caring

Sharing is Caring

Sharing Is Caring

I have been reading and listening and contemplating many of the discussion outlets and forums concerned with the Affordable Care Act.  Arguments are all over the map.  Passions for and against are high and all parties seem unequivically solid in their conviction about the good or bad of the new healthcare law.  Common ground is extremely rare in many of these discussions, but I want to point out that sharing is caring and that is what we should be about as an evolved and compassionate society.

What seems to be missing from many of the discussions I have seen is compassion, compassion for the guy or gal next door, the single parent, the child of that single parent and so on.  There doesn’t seem to be much room for inclusion of the least among us these last days.  The discussion always seems to center on an objection to paying for something that doesn’t directly benefit me…the individual.

I was listening to a radio discussion on the Diane Rehms show on NPR and they were talking about how many people were upset about having to buy a healthcare policy that included benefits not directly related to them or their condition, i.e. a guy having to buy a policy that covers child birth.  I can understand the confusion but I think the point is being missed.  United we stand but divided we fall remember and sharing is caring in my book.  Having compassion for someone other than yourself is what I deem a signature facet of a superior society.  It’s the healthy society that survives the longest and when we get to the point where we only think about what’s in it for me, well then we’re on our way to oblivion.

I believe we are stronger when we consider the whole and not just the individual.  I believe we are most ready to stand the tests of time as a society, as a species, if we ensure that there is no weak link in our chain of humanity.  So yes, it may cost more to buy a healthcare plan but in the long run it is actually cheaper for the whole of society because it’s always been easier to stop the bleeding when a pin prick is all we have to deal with vice a severed artery.  When we don’t take care of the least among us, we will over time have to tend to those who have been gravely wounded via neglect at grave cost, a cost that could have and should been avoided.  In today’s world can we really afford to not care about one another?

Personally, I would just like to give the new healthcare law some time.  The program website certainly needs some major help but I’m an optomist.  I believe it will get fixed and eventually we will all see some good results, results that will benefit the whole and not just the individual.  Sharing is caring and that is a joyous message that we might want to remember especially during these holidays.

Cancel that Date with Hate

Cancel the Hate 4Cancel the Date with Hate

So what do you do when faced with someone under the influence, the influence of hate? I say Cancel that Date with Hate. There is nothing written in any book, in any song, in any form whatsoever, that mandates that you have to subject your life spirit to hate’s poison. We sometimes are faced with so much hatred, so much bitterness, so much anguish and turmoil that our spirit driven lives get bogged down, even sullied occasionally.  We can sometimes inadvertently become magnets to such negative energy when we ourselves start to wear clothing not meant for us, when we discard the whole armor of God.

During this very political season and the one to follow, you will see the enemy’s horns more and more and in almost every place you look.  Reading through various social media sites it’s very easy to spot.  People don’t really discuss the pro and cons of a thing, they just scream blindly at one another, casting disparaging remarks upon one another, using the vilest of language and the anonymity of the Internet as a cover.  And if you dare to step in, participate, comment from a corner tempered in reason, you will certainly experience the hatred first hand.  I think because of the anonymity of the Internet, people are emboldened to be as rude as possible, as hurtful as possible, and spew as much hate laced hyperbole around as possible.

But the Internet isn’t the only medium where this red devil shows its tail.  You see it on the highways and byways, the street corners and office spaces we encounter in our daily grind.  It’s the whispers and the mean spirited comments that are spoken when speakers think no one is listening.  You see it even on the play grounds and classrooms all across America.  It’s unavoidable as long as one draws breath. The longer one is exposed to so much negative energy, the more likely they will lose focus on that which is good, on true life, on the promises that lie ahead.  So I say Cancel that Date with Hate.  Let someone else take up that dance card.

What do you do when the enemy attempts to destroy you, belittle you, and push you down into submission?  This after all is one of hates many objectives.  Some might say you punch him in the nose and teach him not to mess with you!  How many bullied children do you think that actually works for?  How many little guys, when faced with a towering pile of fat, muscle and intimidation, rise up, cock back and launch a haymaker smack into the nose of their antagonist?  Odds are that there are very, very few that do and succeed.  Why?  Human nature?  Fight or flight instincts?  Common sense?  All of the above?  So if the little guy does go on the offensive, the majority of the time he…or she is going to get their clock punched because the bully normally has the numbers and the size and the experience.  Whenever this tactic does work it’s because of the element of complete surprise and timing.  So how then do you Cancel that Date with Hate?

Cancel the Hate 3

Easy.  The Word of God says that if we resist the devil he will flee from us (James 4:6-8).  Does this mean that we lay hands and fight the devil?  Is this what is meant by resistance?  Not necessarily.  You resist by refusing to participate in those activities that enrich the enemy.  When you submit your life to God you are resisting the enemy.  When you draw closer to God, He comes closer to you (James 4:7).  Darkness will never be able to overcome light, never has and never will (John 1:5).  The enemy cannot withstand the presence of God in your life.  There will always be an over balance and overabundance of power in you when God is in you…and the enemy knows this (I John 4:4).  The bully may be a roaring lion but that is all that he is.  He knows his end and you must remind yourself of that elegant truth as well.

But how exactly do I Cancel the Date with Hate?  Hatred is one of those emotions that craves company.  So practice resisting the enemy by walking with the Lord and steer clear of those filled with hate.  Don’t participate, don’t engage, don’t touch and agree on statements of hate, and don’t even walk in the same paths as those that revel in hate’s toxic atmosphere.  Don’t be drawn in.  In other words don’t expose your goodness to darkness (Matthew 7:6), don’t lay down your integrity or your good name.  The playground bully can’t be a bully if there is no one to bully.  The playground bully draws strength from fear but perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and God is that love!  When you draw nigh unto God, when you find your secret place in Him, His shadow will be your cover, your protection and insulation from all the fiery darts of the enemy (Palms 91:1; Ephesians 6:16).

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Last, when confronted by the hatred of others in whatever form, remember who you are.  Remember who is at work in the life of the hate speaker.  Confront hate with the peace of the Lord God Jesus Christ.  Turn the other cheek and by this I mean, refuse to engage in a verbal confrontation.  Use your tongue to speak life and that more abundantly.  Use your tongue to create a new reality, a new condition in the life of the hate speaker and then exercise your will upon that which you have spoken.  Pray on that planted seed and watch it grow and produce new life in that which was dead.  This is how you Cancel the Date with Hate.  The enemy won’t get it, he won’t understand it, but he will flee from you and in his place…a garden of peace abides!

Night Cries, Part Seven

Lab 5

Erik’s earth mother came running up the stairs in a panic. Little Fran was standing at the bathroom door with a look of fright upon his face. The bathroom door shuddered violently but ceased as Erik’s earth mother approached.

“Erik”, his earth mother called cautiously. “Are you alright? What’s going on in there?”

On the wet floor of the bathroom, Erik stirred. His eyes opened weakly and he stared about the room in a haze. She was gone. The tub was filled with water and looked as if a bomb had exploded inside of it. Grimy hand prints were draped around the tub’s edges. The finger scrawl on the medicine cabinet mirror was still there but she was gone.

Erik stood to his feet and began wiping the grime from the tub. He then proceeded to wipe the mirrors removing any trace of her presence. His earth mother began rapping harder at the door, calling out his name and demanding a response.

After a quick inspection around the bathroom room, Erik opened the door. His mother and Fran stood there staring at him in confusion. Erik quickly gathered his thoughts and began to explain.

“I’m sorry for all the noise and the mess on the floor. I got water on the floor and lost my balance”, Erik explained.

“Erik”, his mother sounded unconvinced. “All that banging up here, it sounded like you were wrestling in here or a party was going on.”

Erik looked up at his earth mother with sheepish eyes and said, “I’m sorry. I was slipping all over the place. I’ll clean all this up.”

Erik could not meet his mother’s eyes. He wanted to reach out to her and collapse in her arms but he dared not. He didn’t want to chance exposing her to the very emotions that may have created the thing that stalked him in his dreams and in the present reality. The whole thing just made no sense to him. He shouldn’t even be experiencing these emotions towards his earth mother. But he was and they were strong. He even felt attached to Fran his little earth brother. Just the thought that his wayward nightmare could have hurt him last night sent shivers down his spine.

“I have to use the bathroom Erik”, Fran exclaimed. I have to go really bad and you wouldn’t let me in.”

The little boy stood in the doorway, knees locked, shaking and fidgeting anxiously.

Erik’s earth mother looked at him with a very stern look of disapproval. 

“I’m all done Fran and I’m sorry. Are the pancakes ready yet mommy”, responded Erik as he moved out of the bathroom? He was glad to be out of that bathroom. He was glad to be out of that space but he was more relieved that no one had been hurt. He needed to get ahead of this phenomenon and figure out how she, this apparition of ghostly hate and rage, made it across the sky bridge. Time was running out for his home world and if he didn’t act faster, earth itself could be doomed to the same fate.

“Erik, I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately. I want this mess cleaned up and I want to see you and your brother seated downstairs in twenty minutes for breakfast. Your father will be up shortly if he isn’t already so get going, hurry up, no dawdling”, his mother said patiently.

Fran darted into the bathroom and slipped on the wet floor. His head bounced off the plaster coated floor and he started crying and wetting himself. Erik’s earth mother moved to his side and cradled the little boy carefully in her arms. She spoke softly to him, soothing him and reassuring him as she began removing his wet clothes. Erik stared at the two of them and started recalling his own childhood on Cold World. How different the two realities were.

On Cold World, the familiar bonds of family just didn’t exist. The Great Divestiture was so efficient and so complete that the children of Cold World ceased addressing their parents as mother and father. They were birth constructs and that was all. They had one responsibility and that was to provide initial shelter, food, clothing and access to the archives of knowledge. Mothers didn’t breastfeed anymore. Fathers did not await the arrival of their new born infants. Families did not celebrate the coming of new souls into the world. There were no lovers. There were no friendships. There were only detachment and a singular focus on technological development and growth at all costs.

Lab 2

Outside of the pursuit of knowledge, Erik had no other passions. He was truly an island unto himself. He preferred it this way too. He was his best teacher and disciple. There really hadn’t been anyone more gifted, more possessed of an innate ability to think in four dimensions. His was a lonely brilliance and the absence of emotional bonds made that existence more than bearable. He didn’t even register the concept of companionship. He didn’t need it or anyone.

As Erik started sorting through his things in his bedroom, his mind continued to retrace the steps that brought him to earth. He had done this countless times leading up to the events of last night. He thought through what he believed was every possible derivation, every possible algorithm, and all the possible probabilities and yet he must have missed something. She was here. She had crossed the Sky Bridge. His formulae had been wrong. It just didn’t make logical sense to his calculating mind.

Going back to the beginning, Erik laid out the facts as he knew them. Something from the Dark Realm had crossed over to Cold World which in and of itself shouldn’t have been possible. This thing which resembled a female had first appeared to him in his lab and she was angry on a berserker level. He didn’t recognize anything about her except for the sense that she had been hurt or wronged in some way and that he was the object of her hate. On Cold World she started appearing in an irregular form, half in and half out of sync with time. While she didn’t appear to have a real material presence to anyone other than Erik she was very real and had an extremely disturbing effect on Erik. Erik was afraid of her. This fear was palpable and registered an alien emotion within Erik. His encounters with her always left him on the brink of stark raving terror. He was sure that this had to be due to the fact that he was dealing with emotions he knew nothing about intellectually. He couldn’t explain the feelings he was having but he did feel them. They were not mental projections or some faded part of his imagination. He was experiencing emotion. Then the thought hit him…the more he felt, the stronger her presence seemed.

Lab 1

 

Erik thought back to that day he entered Professor Voguebuk’s lab after the professor had been slain before his eyes. Even this had unsettled him when it shouldn’t have. He remembered his thoughts as he watched the lifeless form of Professor Voguebuk sprawled in a bloody heap, half his body shredded and missing. It was a grisly scene but it shouldn’t have bothered Erik and yet it did.

Erik could remember the lab and all the lights and sirens that rang throughout the complex. He remembered the last words of the professor who urged him to find the solution to the pending disaster approaching Cold World. Erik was confident he could, given time. He just didn’t know how much time he had. He remembered walking towards the lab door and opening it to a sight that would alter all his plans and that of the future of Cold World.

 

 

A New Work

Night Cries

I am so happy and proud to announce that Timoteo’s blog short story “Night Cries” is going to be published by Leanpub.  Please take a moment to congratulate him and wish him well on this journey!

Vision and Dreams

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Vision and Dreams

How many of you make it a habit to write out your vision and dreams?  I believe that there are probably a great many of us that believe this is important to do but don’t.  We understand the theory and the promise behind this exercise but often times when it comes right down to putting it into practice, we fail big time!  We fail to take advantage of what’s offered in our vision and dreams.  Maybe not all of you… ok well, just me then (smile)!  I want to take a quick few minutes to talk about why (If you’re like me about transformative envisioning), it is vital to the process of growth that we write out our vision and dreams and make them plain.

I honestly and truly believe with all my heart that when God’s word tells me that as a man thinketh, or believes about himself, so is he or so he will become.  I believe this.  I take it literally because it comes from the Word of God, but I also believe it because there have been too many respected scholars and philosophers who have affirmed this basic, fundamental principle through various teachings and writings.  We experience visions and dreams for a reason.  Our minds really don’t stop processing information when we close our eyes at night (see Nature, The Journal of Neuroscience).  I believe our best work occurs when we focus and experience vision and dreams.

Now, I believe that this essential truth is often mislabeled or misapplied by the secular world but there is no denying how true this is (see Nature 2).  For example, scientist can explain the color of the sky but I believe its hue comes from the finger of God.  Does this mean that the science is wrong?  Of course not.  We may quibble over attribution and credit but the central tenant remains true, the sky is blue!

So when the Lord says that I am what I think, that my thoughts have the power of transformation, I believe it completely.  When He says to me that the power of life and death is in my tongue, I don’t quibble with that statement.  I take it as fact.  When He says that salvation is as near as the words out of my mouth, that if I will confess Him as Lord and Savior, I will be saved, I doubt nothing!  I rejoice!!!  I see the evidence of this every time I look in the mirror and recognize that but for the grace of God…

Yes, this all works fine and dandy for Christian believers but what if you’re not of that belief?  What if you haven’t come to that revelation of faith? What should I know or care about vision and dreams?  You can still be transformed by the things you say!  The tone of your day is often set by the very first thing you experience or say in the morning.  Have you ever stubbed your toe getting out of bed or walking to the restroom?  Do things tend to go downhill afterwards?  Think about it.  What was your reaction when you stubbed your toe?  Those words shape what follows!

This is what this post is about and this is why I say to you that vision and dreams are very but what you also have to put into motion are your words!  Faith without work is dead!!  The work affirms your faith and gives substance to your faith.  You put your words into motion by writing!  Write your visions and dreams out.  Write down your visions and dreams and revisit them often.  Make it a daily habit to write WHAT YOU want to SEE HAPPEN.  Your visual cortex is directly impacted by what you write and vice versa.  One reinforces the other and when you write the vision you really do make it plain.  In other words, making it plain actually means to make material, to make real, to bring what was invisible into the visible realm.

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This is what I want you to do every morning and it is very simple…even a caveman could do it (sorry if I have offended any local Neanderthals).  After you pray, meditate or conduct your devotion, sit down for a brief moment in peace.  Don’t get started on the next thing, just give peace a moment to settle on you.  Take out a piece of paper, tablet, cell phone or any device that will allow you to write.  Think in your mind of one thing that you really want to see happen, be completed, or achieved in that day.  One goal, start with one and write it down.  Concentrate on that one thing and nothing else.  Don’t worry about any other aspect of what you want to see happen, i.e. what it will take to accomplish, how much, how long, whom will need to get involved, etc.  Now write your thought out just as it was formed in your mind.  Write it a second time.  Write it five more times for a total of seven.  Try to keep the vision to a sentence or two and later you can expand that as needed.  By keeping it short you don’t get distracted with unnecessary verbiage.  Short and sweet and to the point!

What you have just done is given your vision and dream some preliminary form.  As you see it and read it, your vision will continue to gain clarity and that is what you need.  The clearer the vision the stronger the transformation from the immaterial to the material will be.  This is why when we sometimes ask God for help or assistance, our aid doesn’t seem to come or when it does come it is in a form that we hadn’t even imagined.  Of course, when we get the help we seek, we’re probably satisfied to get it in whatever form it comes!  What I am sharing with you is how to achieve specifically that very thing you hope for with specificity.  You have to be specific and focused when it comes to receiving the thing you want.  If you ask God for anything, any kind of way, then don’t be surprised to receive whatever!

Our Master said to ask and it would be given, to seek and it would be found, to knock and it would be opened (see Matthew 7:7).  You have to ask specifically for the specific thing with specificity.  You have to seek with intensity in order to find exactly what you want.  Last, you have to knock on the door, the right door, in order to enter the room you intend to be in.  All of these things come from a focused clarity and intent.  This is how you begin to actualize your vision and dreams.  Write them down, revise them with specific intent and focus on the dream some more.  The vision will continue to become clearer and clearer until what you are writing is laser focused and on target.  After that you’ve done the most important part.  In the past perhaps you did not receive what you asked for because you didn’t ask and when you did you may have asked incorrectly.  It’s time to change all of that!!!  Gain a strong foothold on your future and write the vision, make it plain.  Once the vision has taken form and become material, it’s much easier to run with it and receive it!!!!  Vision and Dreams have a real purpose in your life so don’t neglect the gift that God has given to us.

Write_the_Vision

Dreams

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                                                               Dreams.

If you’re not dreaming, you’re not living up to your full potential!!  Dreams are the essential lubricant for positive results in life.  You can’t really perceive all that’s possible while you’re awake and conscious.  As human beings we’re limited that way.  The mind just can’t process everything that you are capable of when the hand of God is upon you!  So God sends us dreams and has given us the ability to Dream so that we can truely be all that He has purposed us to be.  There are literally no limits to what’s possible which means it is up to the realm of the imagination to close the gap between what you don’t have and what you have.

You are what you can imagine!  Your imagination is a true gift from God.  It is in the capacity to imagine a thing that the creative process really takes off.  Dreams are a safe way to receive the powerful word of God in a process that allows us, mankind, to stay sane.  No man has seen God at any time outside of the body and person of Jesus Christ.  I think this is why Dreams serve such a vital purpose in the communication process between God and His creation.  It is through our Dreams that we come to see in a vision what God wants to communicate to us.  Our dreams serve as a language medium between the material and immaterial.  Our Dreams also allows us to craft material with which the Holy Spirit of God can work with.  It is part of the process in any event.  I will discuss other elements in another post.

More precisely, Dreams help us envision the impossible.  Dreams help us see our way into greater heights and possibilities without the distractions of naysayers and negative people.  In our Dreams we can do anything and be anything and achieve anything.  This kind of positive enegry is very powerful.  It sets the stage for an environment of real change because once you receive this positive energy you can step off more easily on faith.  You can reach for what you have envisioned without doubt and with great confidence!!  With no one dragging you down you can do all things through Christ!!  This is the great benefit of Dreams.  They really help you walk in confidence and trust because in your Dreams you are victorious.  It’s not just a slogan!

So don’t let anyone crush your Dreams.  Those Dreams are essential in the creation process.  Your tomorrow and the successes you see, the victory you’ve claimed, and the prizes that are awarded to you are depending on the health of your Dreams.  Don’t let anyone steal that from you.  Just remember that those Dreams are your private communication with the Master Creator and they are meant for you.

So I say Dream big and Dream often.  Meditate on the visions that the Almighty has given you and don’t worry about how those Dreams will come to pass or be realized.  That’s not your job.  Your job is to Dream it, live it, and walk in it with confidence!!

Encourage Your Child

Blog Pic-MeEncourage Your Child

How many of you remember saying to yourself way back when you were knee-high to a wolverine (not that you ever go that close to measure) that you would never do this or that to your children when you became a parent?  Statements like this may have been made in the moments after a butt whipping or chastisement as we say in today’s vernacular.  You may have felt wronged for the punishment you received, and of course because you were just a child your ability to see the big picture extended only as far as your toy box or TV!  The reasons we were punished never made sense since all we were doing was having fun…true, the cat or neighbors dog paid the price but we’re not talking about that right now!

Most of the time after we were disciplined (whupped as we say in my house) and went to sleep, a normal side effect of a good whupping, we would be fine and all was forgotten.  It was again time to play.  Who had time to remember what we were disciplined for.  Day light was burning!  There were girls’ hair waiting to be pulled!!!

But there are also those times when the discipline can go too far, not just in terms of physical abuse, at least not in my case, but in terms of the emotional pain inflicted.  Punishing or disciplining in the heat of anger is always a bad idea.  For one, the risk of doing actual physical harm increases.  Two, when words are spoken in anger they can be just as harmful, hurtful, and painful as the physical discipline.  It is usually the words that are remembered the most and have the longest effect on a young mind.

So perhaps a change in tactics is called for.  I know, sometimes it’s hard to keep your temper in check and this kettle will refrain from describing the pot as black in color!  And yes, I understand that stress can play a huge role in how we react to different things.  When our children get in trouble we tend to fall back on what we experienced growing up.  We do what we saw.  We say what we heard and it’s almost instinctive.  We may even know subconsciously that there is a better way but our first reaction is normally what we go with unless we train ourselves to do differently.

I remember saying to myself after receiving my punishment that I wouldn’t do my kids this way.  I would treat them differently.  I would do this or that better.  I was not concerned with the purpose behind the discipline or the love that spurred it.  At the time I couldn’t see that my mother’s efforts were keeping me out of jail and an early grave.  I was a selfish child and only understood my point of view and my immediate goals.

When I became a father by the grace of God, I started disciplining the same way I was.  I was going to put the fear of God into my children.  I was not going to spare the rod and spoil them.  I didn’t know that there was another way, even though I promised myself growing up that I would do things differently.  Then it dawned on me…my greatest improvements, my best achievements, always occurred after my mother lavished praise and encouragement on me.  I always did better when I knew my dad was in the stands watching me play football and cheering me on.  I always rose to the occasion when I needed to take tests because I knew it would make my mother smile to see my name on the dean’s list!  Encouragement and not fear was the difference.

I still believe there is a place for stern discipline, but I have also come to understand that encouraging your child can be just as effective as the rod of correction.  I wouldn’t say throw away the rod, but I would say we need to balance its use with the following ratio: 1:7, that is, for every application or occurrence of the rod pour on seven doses of encouragement or praise.  As a rule, if you can’t think of seven things to praise your child for, then put the rod away as the instrument of discipline and find another way.

You can encourage your child to do better, be better and aspire to greater things.  Speak encouragement into their ears, into their spirit, into their whole lives and you will change them for the better.  Your words have power, use this power for good and not evil.

Guard Your Prosperity

Guard your prosperity 4Guard Your Prosperity

Seeing your way through a major problem isn’t always easy and once you do, you should work just as hard to preserve your victory!  Often times people do not want to see your success.  They may mouth the words that say otherwise but many times hard feelings are formed against what you have achieved.

I can’t pretend to know what is in every man’s heart, but actions speak louder than words.  Just look at your circle of friends and acquaintances and ask yourself whether there is a change in the air when you come into great success or break throughs. What happens when you share your good news with others?  What words are spoken into your ear?  Do they affirm your blessings or do they naysay?

When you have fought hard to form a positive self image, a new answer to a persistent problem, or some vision of health and wealth for you and your family, don’t let the enemy snipe at it.  Don’t cast these pearls before those who despise good things.  Guard your prosperity, make sure that no one tears down what you have fought to build up.

In your mouth are the keys to change and faith.  In the mouth of those not aligned with your vision are the keys to your demise and that of your dreams.  You have to learn to distance yourself from those whose dreams run counter to your own.  Two people cannot truly walk together unless they agree.  Make sure that you walk the path set before you, the one you have envisioned, the one that leads to greater prosperity and purpose.  If someone is walking with you but is speaking and believing counter to your purpose and destiny, your own path will become confused.  You may even find yourself straying from purpose, your purpose, and walking in someone else’s path.

I think this is what often happens.  People get lead astray and start adopting someone else’s vision, then they get despondent when their life is convoluted, unproductive and indebted.  How can you prosper following someone else’s vision and purpose?  If you do this, your own prosperity will languish and so will you.  You won’t live up to your own potential.  This is what you often see when you encounter complainers and people full of bitterness.

Guard your prosperity 3

So I say Guard your prosperity.  Protect it, cherish it and nurture it by devoting time to concentrate on what you have envisioned.  Build a habit of reaffirming your vision and don’t share it with everybody.  People can see your prosperity from afar and learn from your methods after the fact, but while your developing your vision guard your prosperity carefully.  If you have a vision board, great, but don’t post it or display it for public scrutiny.  It is your vision.  Make sure you see it.  No one else needs to see it.  I say this because when others see what you have envisioned for yourself, they ask questions.  These questions can sometimes be very negative and demotivating.  This is because they don’t understand your vision and how do people react to things they don’t understand?  They oppose them, they strike out against them and attempt to dismantle them and make you feel silly for having such passion and vision.

Questions from these type of people can have a real debilitating effect on your spirit and your vision.  These questions can appear to be harmless at first.  Someone might ask, “do you really think it’s a good idea to see that job making $350,000 a year”, or “why buy a Mercedes?  People who buy those care only about image.  You don’t want to be that person do you?”  When you hear questions like this what does it do to what you have dreamed about?  It is deflating.

Guard your prosperity 6So cast off the naysayers and guard your prosperity.  Your dreams are yours and they have come into your life just for you.  Relish them and see yourself walking in the prosperity God intended for you to have.  Let the naysayers sit and spin!!!  You roll out in your Mercedes filled with the knowledge that $350,000 is sitting in the bank at your disposal!!!