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Monday, August 3, 2015

Where It Begins

So much is accomplished in hidden places. Secret places. All life begins there, in fact.  

Human life. A baby is conceived in secret places that lovers run to. And, the baby comes alive in a place that no one sees, except God. 

Plants and trees start their lives in hidden places. From the place of quietness and secret, they emerge from a seed for all to see.

Everything creative, too, comes first from unseen places. Songwriters hear that number one hit like a stream that runs through their thoughts. Book ideas and plots. Multi-million dollar business ideas. A teacher's vision for her classroom. All are birthed inside the hidden places of our mind. 

And just as it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. Spiritual Life starts in secret places. It starts with a prayer. A prayer from the mouth of Jesus, Himself, in fact. The Bible talks about Him being our intercessor before God the Father. So, in unseen places, a prayer is spoken-- a prayer of Life. Prayers for you and prayers for me. 

Truth is, this is how God has set up His Kingdom to be run -- that everything would originate in prayer. Everything would start with intimacy. John 15 describes it like a vine and branches. It's only in our closeness with the Lord and through Him that we will ever see Life or Fruit. Apart from Him we can do nothing.  

God intended prayer to be the launching point of all things in our life. Though some might see it as a last resort, it is actually supposed to be the place we start from. And our enemy, the devil, knows this. He knows how this thing works and he will try to pull us away from it everyday. He makes deliberate attempts, in fact. He hands us lies like: "God doesn't hear you. God doesn't care. You're wasting your time. There's other things to be done that are far more productive in the Kingdom." Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! All lies. So far from the Truth and God's heart for us. We need to be careful that we don't give in to such foolish thinking. 

Prayer and time spent with God is the most productive thing we will do all day. Why? Because everything springs forth from that. I can say, for sure, that my best days I ever lived have been because I consciously abided in God.  Not just spent 15 minutes with Him in the morning, but that I walked through my day with Him.  

And that is God's ultimate desire. That it would be again like it was with Adam in the Garden of Eden. They walked together. They fellowshipped and talked together. They communed. Adam didn't know life any other way (until the day sin entered the picture). And God wants us to understand and experience this amazing world of prayer in the same way. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Human to Hulk

There I go again.  My face turns green, my muscles start to pop out, and my clothes tear in half. I go from human to Hulk. Do I feel justified at the time? Of course. Do I feel guilty later? You know it. I realize the madness must stop but it comes out sometimes as natural as toothpaste from a fresh tube. One push of the anger button and I'm roaring.  Here's a few things that I have learned about fighting this anger monster:

1) You're not yourself when you're hungry (or tired, or thirsty...) Get some rest. Have a meal. Hydrate. I, personally, am a lot calmer in situations when I'm not physically stretched. Stress, and chronic illnesses can play a part, too, as well as digestive issues, which can contribute to irritability. Simply being aware of your physical condition can be half the battle. 

2) Note to self: You can't control the world. I find that anger can come out of a need to control your environment or people around you. We often can't control what's going on around us. But, God has given us the Holy Spirit who helps us with SELF control and taming our own tongue, which then helps us face the things that truly are out of our hands. 

3) Communicate when the waters are quiet. Express your heart and how you feel with people you tend to get explosive with. This, I think, can be difficult for people (like me) that tend to stuff their feelings and then one day let it all out in a fierce episode.  Think through what it is that you're really upset about. Are you angry that the trash didn't get out (again), or is it really that you are frustrated that the person doesn't take responsibility for the things that are theirs to care for?  Be brave and talk through it. 

4) Talk to God about it. Sometimes, it's the last thing we think of or resort to. But what a great Resource to pull from! He not only understands things from your perspective, He understands things from the other people's perspective and He also sees the grander picture. He is able to offer Peace and Comfort, but He is also able to shine perspective on the situation.  He may show you things about the other person you hadn't thought of, which might end up turning your anger into compassion and your compassion into prayer for that person.  Remember, God wants the best for ALL involved. 

5) Is there something else bothering you? Like the man who went home and kicked his dog after he just got reprimanded by his boss at work. I know I can easily let the things that bother me affect my relationship with others around me, especially the ones I love. How important it is to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV If we don't, we're going to cast them on the people around us.

Consider, too, that it could be things you have suppressed. Maybe from your childhood. Maybe from 18 months ago that never got resolved. Get to the root of it before a tree starts to grow!

Remember, with God we don't have to despair. He truly can change us and make us new. I have heard many testimonies of people who say they used to be angry, bitter and ugly people and now, because of how Jesus changed them, they don't even recognize the person they used to be. God is in the Life-Changing Business and the sign on His Door always says, "Open For Business"!