"Re-filling The Well."

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” – Mark Twain

To those today questioning your self-worth…you are important and loved.
To the person seeking hope in what seems to be a hopeless dark mass of despair, God’s light will shine and guide you through this.
To the person who has been beaten down by the world, has zero confidence left and wonders if they matter at all – well, guess what – YOU DO!

Why do we need to hear words of encouragement and comfort?
That is probably a dumb question, isn’t it?
We want, no that’s not a strong enough word, we all need a sense of belonging, acceptance, love and knowledge that who and what we do matters.

So let me ask you, when was the last time someone affirmed that in you?
When was the last time you felt that deep warmth of belonging?
I’m not just talking about your workplace or career, I’m talking about every facet of your life. Do you have a well of encouragement from yourself and others to draw from? If not, just like water in a desert, it can evaporate and run dry. We need to constantly draw from this well of assurance and encouragement. That’s why God provides to us companionship and friendship. We cannot go about our lives on our own. We cannot live vicariously through episodes we binge watch on Netflix. We need other humans and their interaction in our lives to help us draw from this well again and again.

This isn’t to say that we become an attention sponge or needy in our attempts to self-congratulate ourselves, but rather we find a healthy medium of friendships that challenge us, drive us forward and offers to us a safe space where we can refill our minds, bodies and souls.

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I am sorry if this sounds like an episode of Dr Phil, but the truth of the matter is far too many of us are running on empty when it comes to deep accountability, encouragement and human connection. We were made for fellowship with God and that of other human beings. We need to be encouraged and to encourage others – thereby refilling that well over and over again. -This is humanity…this is where we live and breathe and where we exist…we may want to dissect ourselves and separate it all out in neat little compartments, but at the end of the day humanity is us and we are humanity.

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Questions:
Who can you encourage today?
What will you say to them? What will you do for them?
How can you brighten someone’s day? It is not something mystical, but what we find when we encourage is that we too are drawing from that well…we too are replenished and renewed. Encouragement, love and a sense of community is infectious and our world needs more of it.

Be encouraged today…“He who began a good work in you will carry it on into completion.” Philippians 1:6

Go and refill the well.
Something more to ponder today.

Walking at Midnight on the path of restlessness.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

I have another confession to make – I am restless…like pit of my stomach-aching restlessness.  Some days I can put my finger on it, while other days it is as elusive as an honest thief.  I am usually successful at pushing it back down, repacking that box that it lives in and stowing it away in that shadowy corner that I seldom travel to.  Still, I know it’s there…and it weighs on me as if an elephant had decided to perch its rotund bottom on my chest.

I wonder if you feel this way sometimes?
Do you have to push it back down as well?
Do you have to re-tape that worn-out box and pretend that dark corner doesn’t even exist?  Does it keep you up at night – blinking at the ceiling fan, counting the rotation of its blades as shadows dance off reflections of streetlights lit only for 3rd shift workers and insomniacs out for a stroll?  I repress the urge to join them, to open the front door and walk barefooted down the now cooled, uneven sidewalks as I imagine myself trying to avoid the spiny round pods that fall haphazardly from the large gum tree in our front yard.   I have stepped on these awful spiky seeds a time or two while walking barefoot down our path and even in the cool darkness of the night thoughts of the surprise pain causes me to recoil my feet from the lower spaces of my bed.

I wonder if David ever felt this way?  The pre-murder and adulterous David…the one that tended sheep and slew predators to the flock.  I wonder if he ever felt restless in his heart?  I am sure he did when, later he was being pursued by jealous King Saul and his men.  As David hid from cave to cave and village to village, I imagine him laying down on an uncomfortable uneven floor hoping to rest his weary head.  I can picture his deep sadness as he yearned for his best friend Jonathan.  Yet David trusted in God…but I would venture a guess that there were moments in which he was restless and he too had to push it back down and re-tape his box.

It is said that there is a season for everything…and yet Jesus told the people of his day not to worry about anything, yet I can’t help but find myself in the season of worry from time to time.  Doe that mean that I am not heeding His words?  That, despite my best efforts, I am not trusting in Him?  Perhaps you have thought this also> I worry, but Jesus said not to, and here I am still worrying.<  What do we do with these seasons?  How do we find the glimmers and glints of hope in the mess of our minds?  Sometimes we do believe the lie.  What lie you ask?  The lie that Jesus wasn’t really talking to us when He said those things, that it was just for the disciples and people around Him right then and there… The lie that we are broken people beyond fixing, and that the restlessness that we feel in the pits of our stomachs and the weight of our hearts is what we deserve for being fallen, sinful people.

Don’t live there.
Don’t wallow in that muck and believe that damning lie.
The son who turned his back on his father and spent his entire inheritance on partying, prostitutes and comfort found himself feeding muddy, fetid pigs.  Day in and day out he was covered in mud and pig excrement.  He definitely smelled as bad as they did.  He had lost everything – squandered a small fortune on foolish, regrettable things, and the stink of his life went much deeper than clothes and skin.  He lived there.  He wallowed there.  That pen of stench became his home for a period of time, until he came to senses.  As Jesus told this story of prodigal son, I imagine some who were listening felt that he was telling their story.  The prodigal son came to his senses, got up and devised a plan to return to his father.  He formulated a plan in his mind, he believed he would be unwelcome to return as a son, but maybe, just maybe his father would let him return as a servant.  Can you imagine that restless journey home; The endless loop of things he would finally say to his father in order to stave off the reprisals and chastisements?  As each dusty step led him closer and closer to the home he once knew, thoughts of doubt and fear must have crept in.  “Master, just let me work for you.” (For surely he would never be worthy to call him father after what he did).

And when this beaten-by-life man, who had squandered everything and had hit absolute rock-bottom crested that last hill, and his home was in view…he saw someone running towards him.  Perhaps it was a servant instructed to chase him off.  Perhaps it was a warning not to come any closer…he would have deserved such a welcome.  Instead, it wasn’t any of those things…it was his father that he had wished were dead, running to embrace the son he thought he had lost.

Don’t live in the home of restlessness.
Don’t believe the lie of shame and guilt.
Be forgiven, let your Father embrace you and welcome you home…and when you are finally hope, re-tape that box and then throw it away.

The prodigal son is me.
The prodigal son is you.
But once we have been embraced,
once we have witness our Father running to us,
Once we have been forgiven and returned to our home (where we belong)
don’t even entertain the lie or the box any longer.

But sometimes…we still walk at midnight, say hello, I’ll be waving.

Something more to ponder today.

Day 16 -Living In God’s Sanctuary…

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Why may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous…” Psalm 15:1-2a

When we choose to follow Christ in our lives and live for Him every day, we are not only called Sons and Daughter of God, but we have access to His sanctuary.

What does that mean?
It means that the very presence of God can remain with us every moment of every day.
In essence we have the Creator of the Universe with us to guide and provide.  In ancient times the only ones who could gain access to the Holy of holies were the priests who kept themselves ceremonially clean.  The Holy of holies was the place where the very presence was said to reside.  On the day and hour of Christ’s death, the curtain, which separated the temple from the Holy of holies was torn from top to bottom.  tornThis was more than coincidental, this signified God’s presence would no longer just reside in the temple, but He could be accessed by everyone all because of what Christ did on the cross.

How does this make you feel, knowing that God’s presence is accessible and readily available for you and me?  He longs to be a part of our day.  He wants to fellowship with us, to commune and guide us in our day.  When we enter into this fellowship, we are in the very sanctuary of God!  Each of us are called to be set apart for God, so how we live and how we interact with the world around us matters!  We can live as Kingdom people as we enter into His sanctuary every day!  May we walk into His presence and live this kingdom living today!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for allowing us access to you because of your son Jesus Christ!  I want dwell in your sanctuary everyday!  Be with me today, and as I interact with others, bring to my mind your grace, peace and love.  In your name I pray all of these things amen!
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Persevere and Endure!

By your endurance you will gain your lives (souls).” Luke 21:19

This is a foreboding passage.
PJesus basically tells His disciples that bad days are coming, and yet if they persevere, they will win or gain their souls.  It is without question that most of the disciples endured hardship, persecution and even execution.  Life was extremely hard for these Christ-followers, yet they persevered not just for themselves, but for their Rabbi – for their Messiah.  The purpose that they had been given was beyond just their solitary lives – it was a purpose that brought hope into all of the corners of the known world.

From this first century context, we too can glean some meaning from these words of Jesus.  Life doesn’t always contain full promises and ONLY happy days…life is sometimes hard.  Sickness happens, unemployment occurs, cut backs, mounting bills, relationship issues, broken promises, loss of loved ones and friendships you thought would be long lasting.  Life. Is. Hard. Sometimes.

painIt is certainly a sharp contrast from the lives of those first followers of Christ, but there are still many very real struggles in this life.  I don’t want to list all of them today, but I do wish to convey that you are not alone.  We all endure these hardships, these difficult days, these dark days.  Sometimes giving up seems like the easiest thing to do – don’t.  Sometimes throwing in the towel on our faith seems like the logical thing to do when anger and frustration consumes us – don’t.

Faith
Faith often takes us to places that we generally do not wish to be.
We long for the warm sun in our faces and the soft sand beneath our feet, but instead we stand in the bitterness of winter’s blasts numbing our faces and our hearts.  Even then we’re to endure?  Even here in the dark days?  -Yes.  We fight on.  We recognize that our witness of Christ in us matters to our small corner of this world.  We wage a war against these spiritual forces in our world that long to tighten, not loosen, the bonds of sin and death upon all of humanity.

thyDespite the season or circumstances you might find yourself in today – Faith wins.
We step out and onward knowing that God’s Holy presence is with us.  We continue this calling of love.  We say “Your will be done in my life – not mine.”  Only in full submission does any of this make sense.  Only in full submission to God do we become strong again and can access strength that is supernatural and beyond us.  Only here are we able to persevere and endure.  Only here will we gain the constant presence of the Holy Spirit, not that He isn’t always present, but rather, we have become finely tuned into His frequency in this world and in our lives.

So How About it?
Are you struggling today?  Do you know someone who is going through a dark time?
How can this hope and light of Christ alleviate and penetrate that darkness?   Are you submitted fully to Him?  endure

Regardless of what has transpired in your life, today is what matters – how you live this moment makes a difference.  We can choose to curse God for our circumstances or we can praise Him despite the difficulties that we face.

Something more to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

“NOT WORTHLESS!!” 3 Ways to Discovering Your Self-Worth (Pt. 1)

Self-worth:  Many people struggle with this issue in life.
Some people decide that they truly are worthless and in that moment they become full of self-loathing.
At the very least it is counterproductive, at its worst it is a pathway to self-destruction.

Questions:
How do we live this life and feel complete…satisfied?
How can we retain a measure of self-worth when we encounter discouragement?
Are we worth anything?
Do I matter?

These are very common questions that are thrown around.
Sometimes circumstances in life lead people to question their identities and self-worth.
Others grew up being told they were accidents, freaks, or simply that they were “good for nothing”.
NEWS FLASH: These are lies still being told today to people all around the world.

You may feel as if you are all alone in this.
You may feel as though you are truly worthless and if you were to simply “disappear” no one would care.
Please know that this IS A LIE that many tell themselves.

I do not want to delve too deeply into the realms of depression today, but I do want to say that these depths can be extremely dark and lonely and that it is perfectly normal to seek out professional help in the form of counseling!

let me further illustrate the lies that we buy into sometimes in our lives before I include just 3 ways to discovering self-worth again:

3 Lies About Self -Worth

workLie #1: Your self-worth is all about where you work and what you “DO”.
Perhaps if you had a better paying job you could afford nicer things and a nice home…
people always seem to associate self-worth exclusively with where they work and how much money they make.  Perhaps having more money might solve some issues in life, but when people place all of their identities into what they do they can discover that at the end of the day they still feel empty and unfulfilled.

NEWS FLASH: What you “DO” shouldn’t be who you are!
What I mean by that is this:  The Apostle Paul earned a living as a tent maker while serving as a missionary.  Tent maker wasn’t who he was, it was a means of supporting his purpose and calling in life.  Jobs may come and go, and often times we place so much power upon what we do that in the process we lose the “who we are”.  Our identity in self-worth is so much more than our place of employment.  Beyond this, if you are a person of faith and a Christ-follower, our self-worth is inexplicably tied to WHOSE we are and from that the calling He has placed upon our lives…but I will get to that later.

Lie #2: Your self-worth is all about how others see you – the “people-pleaser” people
We ought to make a distinction here, there is a big difference between accountability with peers and mentors and the need to constantly seek the approval of others.  Our self-worth should not be inexplicably linked to pleasing people.  When we connect our happiness with making everyone around us happy, we crash and burn.  Being a perpetual people pleaser might provide us some satisfaction and happiness at the onset, but eventually the shine wears off and we will find ourselves constantly running for that applause and approval while at the same time never reaching any personal goals or achievements.

This is where self-care comes in.  You cannot help others and be a source to others if you have nothing left in the “tank“.  There must be times when you step away and seek out selfishly (in a good way) those things that will restore your energies and confidence in yourself.  Jesus got away from His disciples from time to time.  He prayed to the Father.  I’m sure He reflected too.  I’m sure He also replenished His “tank” while in the process.  Don’t tie your self-worth exclusively up in the applause and approval of others.   Living as a people pleaser is an empty life and will only serve to wear you out both mentally and physically.   This “People Pleaser” mentality is a lie that will leave you feeling worthless and spent in an endless pursuit of utter insanity.

fakeLie #3: Your self-worth is all about being happy all of the time!
This last lie (and I know there are many more) attempts to force us to entertain the erroneous notion that all is not well if we are not happy all of the time.  If everything is not candy canes and lollipops something must be wrong.  In the Church this lie is sometimes perpetuated by people who think all Christians ought to be smiling and cheerful all of the time.  We even sing songs about being happy all the time.  The truth is we cannot be perpetually happy every moment of every day…and THAT’S OKAY!   Self-worth shouldn’t be about “am I happy all the time?”  Happiness is much different that being content.  Contentment doesn’t mean that you are constantly cheery and everyone thinks you shine like the sun.  Contentment means there is a peace within us.  It means that we have found a “sweet spot” in life and we live within that sweet spot.  It doesn’t mean there won’t be bad days.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t experience sadness either.  Being content is vital – being happy all of the time is not…it’s a lie.

Understandably we ought not look like the character Eeyore eithereeyoresad, where we’re just mopey and down every moment and we tend to bring other people down…But self worth is more than just experience happiness and smiling so much our jaws ache.

So-WhatSo where does our self-worth come from?
How can we recognize the lies being told about self-worth while striving for a genuine self-fulfilled life?
I am happy you asked.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition as we jump into the 3 ways that we discover this important characteristic in all of us.

Until then ponder these words:
It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.
-Abraham Lincoln.
-See you tomorrow!

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