Using Our God Given Senses

One of the big gifts that God has given us are our senses. I’m sure most people have done some experimenting to find out what it would be like without one sense or another, and I semi joked the other day that my taste buds may have deserted me because I couldn’t taste an apple. But it’s a serious thing when people are born without or lose one of their senses. Yes, people can learn to compensate, but it’s not easy and not something anyone really chooses to do, and not having a sense isn’t really something to joke about. The other day I read Matthew 13:16 ERV:

“But God has blessed you. You understand what you see with your eyes. And you understand what you hear with your ears.”

As great as our senses are, sometimes I think we forget to use them to their fullest, forget to use all of them together, or forget that we even have them, or take them for granted. This verse comes from one of the many stories about Jesus, and in this chapter of Matthew Jesus talks about the different people that are on the earth, some who are completely blind to God and can’t hear what He’s trying to say, and others who are able to see and hear what God is saying and doing in the world.

As much as it would have been nice if Jesus just said what He meant, He often used parables. Parables are a great tool because different people relate to the world differently and what one person may understand or relate to because of one parable, someone else won’t. They also might not understand or easily relate to or identify with what Jesus was trying to say if He just put it out there plain and simple. So Jesus used parables to give people as many opportunities as possible to understand what He was trying to teach them.

What about you? Are you able to see down to the heart of your life and what God is trying to tell you? Are you using all tools and senses at your disposal to make the most of your life and help others? Or are you in tunnel vision, denying the truth of life around you? Accept the blessing God has given you and use your senses to see the world around you, to see the truth about others and live the way that honors God.

God is My Rock

This week on Facebook I asked an important question: how has God been your rock? I think it’s important to talk about God as our rock, as well as the people in our lives who have been a rock for us because there comes a time in your life (or several times) when you just can’t handle it all on your own. There’s no shame in admitting you can’t do it all and that you’re not perfect. In fact, doing so can make you a stronger, more confident, more fulfilled person because you’re no longer chasing things that you don’t need in your life.

But even for those of us who aren’t trying to do everything, sometimes life just is too much for us to handle alone. It’s why we have doctors and lawyers and police officers and farmers and home builders, among many others who make our lives work a little easier. It’s these people we turn to when we need some expertise that we don’t have or need some muscle that we don’t have. We put our trust in these men and women believing that they’ll be there to support us when we need them. Yes, they are human so sometimes they mess up just like we do, but overall we are able to rely on them in our times of need.

Unlike humans, God isn’t going to screw up or not be available or not be strong enough. God also goes with us and grows with us, there’s no stage of our lives we can reach that He won’t be able to help us through it because He is God.  He’s the most reliable and trustworthy person in the world and beyond.  He won’t let you down when you need Him most.  Even if you don’t see an act of God (a big answer to your prayer), He may send someone or something your way to reassure you or help you get to the next step of your journey.  How will God be your rock this week?

“I am the Lord, and I do not change…” Malachi 3:6

The Gift of Strength

As I was contemplating what to write about today I was thinking about what strength allows us to do or helps us to do, even if we’re not aware of our strength in that area yet. Yes, strength helps you stand your ground, gives you the courage to try new things and makes you stand out in a crowd of average people, but strength is also a power. It’s the power to conquer, to overcome, to be victorious.

In some ways the easy thing to do in life is to just let things go and let others take care of them. To not really care about the impact your ways of living are having on the planet. To let the problems of the world be other people’s problems (it’s not your fault, why should you fix it?). But ultimately that’s a selfish way of living, and until you’re truly and completely self sufficient, it’s inconsiderate of you to believe that everyone should cater to you, and you not reciprocate in any way.

So yes, use your strengths to overcome and be victorious in your life, but then take your skills, abilities, knowledge, and resources and help someone else. Let your strength support someone who’s struggling and bring you both a great victory. There’s really no reason for suffering in the world (aside from the evil that influences the world) with all of the skills, talent and strength that we have as a community.

But the case may be that you need to use some strength in your own life first before you can share your strength with others. So this summer I encourage you to spend time conquering your bad habits, improving your productivity, doing more that fulfills you, growing your relationships and removing from your life stuff and people that are holding you back. What areas of your life are you going to work on being stronger in?

Strong with God

This week I’ve been thinking about strength and courage and how so often we talk about strength and courage as something we have to grow or be or become. But a devotional reminded me that sometimes we can be strong or find our strength because there’s someone stronger than us standing between us and whatever or whomever is challenging us. God does ask us to be brave and courageous, but never asks us to be stronger or braver than He will be for us.

Throughout the Bible there are examples of God saying that He will go with and before people as they do the work that He has called them to do. God does sometimes ask us to take a step of faith, a courageous step, but never one that He thinks we’re not ready for or able to do.

There are also countless statements throughout the Bible to how powerful, all knowing, and capable God is, from the flood to caring for the sparrows. God took the time to create each and every creature on earth, He knows them intimately and knows their beginnings and endings, their comings and goings.

Where the Bible calls us to pull on the Armor of God, it talks about pulling on tools, strength and protection from God, not anything like the physical armor that is used in wars here on earth. God gives us each the opportunity to pull on that armor, He doesn’t believe in leaving us defenseless.

This week don’t be afraid to use the tools of protection and strength that God has put in your life, you don’t have to be strong on your own.

“You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory [and my honor], and the One who lifts my head. With my voice I was crying to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. I lay down and slept [safely]; I awakened, for the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:3-5 AMP

4 Questions to Power Up Your Day

As I was thinking about our topic of the month, strength, and all that goes along with it, I was reminded of a powerful tool that we don’t always use enough in our lives: questions. We usually find time for blaming and yelling and talking, but not much for questions. So today I thought we’d take a look at 4 questions you can ask today, and every day.

1-what’s one courageous step I can take today?
I’m not asking you to leap, just take one step towards overcoming a challenge, conquering a fear, or making a dream a reality. For example you could watch a video on cooking a specific ingredient properly, video taken from the perspective of someone skydiving or research career options. But maybe the courageous step you need to take today is to do something big and bold and finally take a very active step forward.

2-what can I do today to help someone else feel/see/realize/understand their strength?
Strength can be used to hurt and to hoard, but I believe strength is best used for helping others. The phrase ‘together we’re better’ applies here, because when I bring my strengths to the table, and you bring yours, we’re stronger than we would be alone.

3-what will I do today to increase my strength?
Life is a learning and growing process, one that only can be successful if you not only work on your weaknesses, but also work on your strengths. Working on becoming better at what you’re good at and diving deeper into your passions not only builds your confidence, it gives you new ways you can make a difference in the world.

4-what was the most courageous, brave or strong thing I did today?
This is an important question to ask at the end of the day, it helps remind us of our victories, give us an opportunity to celebrate the ways we rocked today and give us a chance to end the day on a positive note. Yes, it’s good to go over what didn’t go well, but I would start with those as you make your to-do list for tomorrow, and end with thoughts of your successes.

What about you? What questions do you use to help you make more victories in your life?

Standing Strong to Make A Difference

As I’ve been thinking about our topic of the month (strength/courage/bravery) and one of my other favorite topics, victories, I had what may seem like an obvious epiphany, but here it is: it’s through using our individual strengths that we’re able to make a difference in the world. It’s not by bringing my weaknesses to the table that I can help others, that I can make the world better for the next generation, or I can have a happier life, it’s by standing on my strengths.

I can’t avoid or completely erase my weaknesses (although I can improve on them), but I can rely on other people’s strengths to help me with my weaknesses or to support me where my skills or resources aren’t as good as theirs. I don’t believe we have to be perfect people or good at every single thing. It’s OK to bring our own skills and strengths to a project but not be able to do the entire project on our own. There are tons of short cuts and supports that have been created in our modern age from “supermarket short cuts” that help us cut cooking time down, to tech templates that allow us to do some of the online design work but not have to do it all, to search engines that give us answers with a few taps or clicks with no trips to the library required (unless you want to!).

The question really is will you bring your strengths to the table for the good of everyone, or will you keep them just for yourself? While I don’t think we have to help everyone with everything, I do think we need to give back and make a difference in the world. Lawyers can donate a couple of hours a month to helping non-profits, doctors can donate a couple of hours to free clinics, teachers can donate a couple of hours to inner city students or those with learning disabilities, parents can donate a couple of hours to single parents in their neighborhood to watch their kids, and business owners can donate a couple of hours to helping veterans learn a trade or start a business. Not to mention that everyone can recycle, plant a tree, share information with the police or crimestoppers, help someone cross the street, pay for someone’s coffee, or say something nice to someone on social media.

You know what you’re good at, you know what you enjoy. How will you take your strengths and use them for good in the world?

From Stumble To Standing Strong

This month one of the topics we’re going to talk about is the topic of strength. Everyone faces challenges in their lives, that’s not something we escape just because we believe in Jesus. But not only do we have a community of believers around us, we’ve got the Bible to encourage us along, and Jesus who will be there when we need some support or a guiding hand.

God never asked us to live a perfect life. He asks us to live with love, compassion, peace, patience, kindness and in a way that honors Him. Perfection isn’t found in the Armor of God, the Fruit of the Spirit or the 10 Commandments. It’s not something David, Solomon, Paul or Martha achieved. They struggled, they stumbled, they lived life with many of the challenges we face.

The question is not if you’ll struggle but when. But after the struggle, stumble or failure, what comes next? Will you choose to get up and make things right? Persevere on? Make better choices next time? You do have responsibility for your life, but the gift that God gives us is that none of us have to go through life or our challenges alone, He’ll support us every step of the way if we let Him. Could you use some support from God in your life? If so know it’s never too soon or too late to ask for His help.

“Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:24