Every New Year’s Day, people make “resolutions” to change or improve something in their lives. Some vow to lose weight-eat healthy, exercise, read more, spend less, give more, etc. This year, I kicked it up a notch, and decided I was going to pick 3 topics and change/improve one thing for each category. For instance, I am a Certified Biblical Life Coach, and my training has taught me to focus on wellness as a whole unit. Specifically, a person’s emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being are collective process. Thus, it is vital to keep all three in balance. Being out of balance with anything-even “positive” or “good” things can still result in negative consequences.
To explain, a Christian can be too focused and out of balance even on spiritual matters such as: attending church for every function; volunteering several days a week; or staying up too late to read the Bible. Although these are “good” and even admirable, this person is completely out of balance. Due to his choices, he is NOT getting enough rest/sleep; he is always grabbing something “quick” (and unhealthy) to eat; and he is harming his family dynamics from the lack of “quality time”.
So, how does a person choose a “resolution” to improve in one area without causing the scales to tip in another? Plus, without a tangible resolution, the “new” you will not last past 2 weeks. Therefore, finding goals that are realistic, specific, and balanced are essential. To illustrate, as I mentioned, my 3 goals fall under each classification of physical, emotional, and spiritual. First, my physical goal is to work my muscles from the waist up. Although, I have conquered the “workout” goal for over the past 35 years, like most people, my exercise activities have matched with things I enjoy. Specifically, running, biking, and hiking do not feel like exercise since I like doing them. However, lifting weights and strength training for my abdominal muscles are a bit tougher since they are the last things that I want to do.
Next, my emotional goal is to spend time relaxing my mind with a book. I tend to go, go, and go so more without taking much time to “rest”. See, my eyes are just below my brain and they literally “see” everything (no pun intended) that needs to be done, and I am constantly adding more things on my “to do list”. Thus, I have carved out/planned at least 10 minutes of reading on my days off from work. Interestingly, since starting this goal, I find the 10 minutes fly by, and I often exceed my original goal.
Finally, my spiritual goal (save the best for last) is creating a “word” for the year. This year, my word is LOYALTY. Like most of us, my loyalty to my family and friends is easy; however, my loyalty to God does not happen as naturally. I know you may be thinking, “How is that tangible?” My answer: “It is tangible, and it is in even more ways than my other two”. To clarify, writing this post instead of cleaning (anything) is being more loyal to God (believe me when I say -stepping away from laundry is a real struggle). Moreover, although I may be better at writing about God, my conversations with co-workers, neighbors, some friends, and even family members are not so comfortable. Thus, praying before conversations and asking the Holy Spirit to help me work God into the conversation is quantifiable. I know I need His help with things that do not come naturally. Some things are difficult-but difficult does not mean impossible. Plus, who said following Christ would be easy? Take up your cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24-26) sounds like a Christ-challenge that I am willing to pursue.
As we look forward to 2021 (and happily say goodbye to 2020 😊), look for tangible ways to keep your life balanced. Do you work too much? Cut back your work schedule by 30 minutes or place your phone out of reach for just an hour, and you will see the beginning of a more balanced life. Likewise, do you watch too much TV? Take just 1 program away and spend that time with your spouse, kids, or with God. It is amazing how many people have “quality time” as one of their top love languages (The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman). Even God wants quality time with you-especially since He is the Creator of both YOU and of TIME!). Balance brings stability and stability leads to contentment - Make 202, the year of balancing the building blocks of your life.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
How does a Christian make sure he is a Christian? Is it because he was raised in a Christian home with God-loving parents, or is it because he continued the tradition by attending church every Sunday? Maybe, he was even baptized as an infant, or he consistently serves/volunteers for the needy and faithfully tithes. While all these are important, none will create a path to Jesus. The answer to the question is actually found in the word, Christian which literally means, “belonging to the party of Christ” or a “follower of Christ.”1
A Christian knows he is a Christian because he knows Who he follows. Without accepting God’s Word and Jesus’ claims (I could write a book on all the statements pointing to Christ being the Messiah- Oh, Wait! The Bible already exists 😊), a person cannot be confident in his salvation. The second a person believes, accepts, and relies on Jesus for his forgiveness of sins, is the minute he is guaranteed a room in eternity (John14:2-3). Even the thief on the cross turned to Jesus for mercy and received a place in paradise (found in Matthew, Luke, & Mark).
Remember, another person cannot tell you whether or not you are a Christian. That truth is between you and your Creator. He knows everyone’s heart, motives, actions-for He sees everything (Proverbs 5:21). Ultimately, each person will stand before God and give an account for the Bible says every knee will bow (Romans 14:11& 12), and NOT just the ones who embrace the faith. Therefore, it is an individual’s responsibility to receive Christ and develop more and more like Him each day. Disappointingly, some believers get themselves into trouble when they “doubt or question” someone else’s authenticity. For example, have you ever heard someone say (or maybe you have even echoed these words in your own head), “How can she be a Christian? Look at the way she is dressed!” Or “He is definitely not a Christian because he was unfaithful to his wife.” Or “They do not go to church.”
Moreover, when a Christian falls into sinful behavior, sadly, it is sometimes believers who criticize more harshly. Perhaps, pointing at another’s sinful conduct will somehow makes them think they are not so terrible. Yet, remember it is Satan who wants to deceive you and make you think there are levels of sin. Specifically, a little white lie; receiving money for work under-the-table; gossiping; or even excess of food, alcohol, movies, and exercise separate us from a Holy God. Almost anything out of balance can become an idol in our hearts.
As we celebrated the birth of Christ this past week, and we will shortly bring in a much-needed New Year, take a moment to consider your own Christ Meter. The baby born in the manger came to take away ALL the sins of the world (1John 2:2). Do not mistake your short-comings as little hiccups that are NOT as “horrible” as the unmarried neighbors who live together or the coworker who has a nasty attitude. In God’s eyes, we ALL fall-short from His Holiness, and NOT ONE is acceptable to stand before God – that is without Jesus. His sacrifice (Easter celebration) allows us to approach the throne-Spotless.
Henceforth, in 2021 make a decision to focus on your own path with Christ and let Christ handle His relationship with others. When you love God and love others as yourself (Mark12:30-31), your Christian Meter remains boiling hot.
1. What is a Christian? | GotQuestions.org
Bob Goff is a fantastic motivational, Christian speaker and author. I have read two of his books (Love Does, and Everybody Always), and I am excited to read his latest book, Dream Big. One of the things that stuck out in my mind is how adventurous Bob is. For instance, I remember in one of his books, a story he told of how he and a friend snuck into a Washington DC museum where National Treasure the movie was being filmed and met Nicolas Cage. After hearing this, I remember being on a tour of an old colonial-times home and there was a rope across the stairwell with a sign “DO NOT ENTER”. I wanted to step over that rope and climb the stairs to see what was up there. Of course, I did not act on that impulse because deep down, I am more of a rule-follower, especially, with actual laws. Since, I have this fear of getting into trouble, I often choose to comply even if I do not agree with the rule.
With that said, Although I am more of a rule-follower than I am a rebel, there are times when I am not so quick to follow “made-up” rules or regulations. Especially, if someone or something has pronounced it as “Mandatory”. This word often sends a chill up my spine and causes my defensive mode to ignite. Some examples: I have had previous church members tell me that I am NOT saved if I do not speak in tongues; I have seen emails to attend “mandatory” volunteer meetings (which is an oxymoron-the word, “volunteer” means I choose to help); and more recently, my work is trying to assign me to work specific hours when I am PRN –(which means: Pro re nata: As needed. I do not work if there is not a need, and I set my own schedule). Finally, the last example is being told I “must” wear a mask.
Now, before I continue to write why this last one is an issue for me, I want to make it clear that ALL my readers have a right to their opinion, and this is NOT meant as a way to persuade anyone to think the way I think. Hence, do I believe a retail business owner has the right to ask me to put on a mask? Absolutely! But do I also recognize my right to NOT shop there if I do not want to wear one? Of Course! This is Not a blog about whether a person should wear a mask or not wear a mask. We all have reasons why we are either Nay or Yay on this topic. However, as a believer in Christ, whether I agree with it or not, I will put my mask on when asked to do so by a friend, neighbor, co-worker, family member, and/or business owner because showing the love of Christ is more important than my personal thoughts about it. However, it is the “mandate” that I am against because our governmental leaders have disregarded the importance of human relationships and replaced it with forced compliance in following their rules.
To explain, we are required to separate with mask and social distancing which is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. According to Open Bible.info, there are a 100 verses pertaining to gathering together (To name a few: Matthew 18:20, Hebrews 10:25, & Acts 2:1-47). Since we are designed for relationships, these restrictions are harming us spiritually, emotionally, and yes, even physically. To further clarify, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.”
Ultimately, rules should not replace our Creator’s plan for us to be together. When we gather, embrace, hold hands, dance, and sing our emotional health is encouraged; our spiritual needs are edified; and our physical connections are fulfilled. Finally, apart we are weak - together we are strong! Josh McDowell once said, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion”. My prayer: May the value of togetherness trump the rules of separation-Amen.
I never realized how much of a movie fan I was until I started writing and using movies to “draw in” my readers. My next film to “grab your attention” is Rocky – not the first one, or the second one, and not even the third one; my choice for today is Rocky IV. There is something about this storyline that stands out for me. Maybe it’s because it was released the year I graduated from high school (yes, I know, I just revealed my age 😊), or maybe it is because it is the most patriotic one in the series. Anyways, as a quick recap. Rocky travels to Russia (Soviet Union at the time) to fight a TANK of a man, Drago who previously killed Apollo Creed in an exhibition fight. At the beginning of Rocky’s fight, Drago -standing a full mountain over Rocky, threateningly says, “I Must Break You”! Although Drago meant Rocky’s bones, this post is going to focus more on Rocky’s broken spirit (something we all can relate to in 2020). To explain, due to the death of his friend, Apollo, Rocky’s spirit had been shattered. His heart ached, his mind was tormented, and his love for the sport of boxing was gone. This leads our champ to a wintery, Russian farm where, with consistent training, unyielding determination, and unwavering dedication, Rocky’s fighting spark is re-ignited.
Currently, with so much loss and uncertainty from both Covid-19 and protests turned violent, it is apparent that our world has changed, but our God has NOT. In a similar way to Rocky’s rekindled progression, we must Remember to Not Forget what God has done for us in the past. To illustrate, before his training montage in Russia, the audience is privy to Rocky’s memories while the song, “No easy way out” by Robert Tepper is playing. Thus, with the upcoming anniversary of 911, it is vital that Americans do not forget how this country pulled together during one of the worst times in our history. We supported our leaders, our firefighters, our police, our communities, our cities, our states, and UNITED WE STOOD-together for our country.
Recently, it was reported that the 9/11 Memorial & Museum decided to cancel the twin beam light tribute for 9/11. Thankfully, many Americans adamantly spoke out against this decision. One example was Frank Siller (he lost his brother, a heroic firefighter on 9/11), who chose to remember what we stand for by doing something. Specifically, he told Fox News, “All I know is that the Tunnel to Towers Foundation wants to make sure that we never forget the sacrifice that was made on Sept. 11 and the loss of life. That's what our responsibility is. That's why we are going to make sure we are reading those names live on Sept. 11”.
Praising God, due to the outpouring of patriotic responses like Siller’s, the decision was rescinded, and the twin beams will light the sky of NYC once again on 9/11/20.
Ultimately, America can overcome this pandemic and work towards healing a broken, conflict-ridden divided country. First, Christians can take the lead by consistently praying for God’s will over our own agenda; expressing an unyielding Christ-like attitude towards everyone (especially those who we do not see eye-to eye with certain “HOT” topics); and showing through intentional actions an unwavering love to those in need. When one person takes a stand – like Stiller, others will follow, and we can heal this nation.
*(Spoiler Alert)* In the end, of course, Rocky wins the match, and the American flag is draped over his body. His victory was more than just the “knock-out” of Drago – it was a triumphed moment because he remembered who he was and the beautiful country he represented. Interestingly, not only did he win the fight, he even won the hearts of the Russians who “booed” him in the beginning.
Hence, it is once again time to proudly wrap the American flag around ourselves, our communities, our cities, our states, and OUR country- We must Remember to NOT Forget: We are One Nation Under God.
**This Blog’s title and idea came from: https://www.life.church/media/dont-forget-to-remember/
Lions, and Tigers, and Bears-OH MY!
Kansas, 1900’s, we all know the story of Dorothy with her sweet dog, Toto and their adventure through the mystical land of Oz. Just like most of you, I have lost count on how many times I have watched The Wizard of Oz. In addition, being a huge fan of Michael Jackson, who starred in the The Wiz, the Motown musical version of the original film, I am well acquainted with the characters and the storyline. To recap, and connect to the point of this post, Dorothy is NOT happy with her life in Kansas, and her unexpected, tornado-induced trip to Oz helps her realize how wonderful her life was back on the home front. Yet, to get back home, she has to face her fears and seek the help of the mysterious Wizard who resides in Emerald City. Along her travels, she meets three characters battling with issues of their own - a hay-stuffed Scarecrow who believes he doesn’t have any brains, a rusty old Tinman who believes he has no heart, and a cowardly Lion who believes he lacks courage. At one point in the movie (before the lion enters the scene), they are walking through the dark forest feeling quite uneasy and chanting, “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears-OH MY”, when one of their worst imagined fear jumps out in front of them- The Lion (I know, if you read my last post, I seem to be on a Lion streak 😊).
Interestingly, I think the recent events in the media have the same effect on us that the chanting did on Dorothy and her crew. To explain, we keep reading, and reading, and reading—listening, and listening, and listening to all the negative news of 2020 - over and over again. To illustrate, turn any news channel on the tv, read a syndicated newspaper, or open any social media venue and you will see many articles/posts on the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic devastation, and the racial protesting/rioting tension. Thus, I often wonder if the continued focus on all the negativity will just continue to divide this country even more instead of reporting on ways to heal it. Before I continue, I want to make it clear that hiding our heads in the sand is NOT what I am advocating. There is a huge difference between staying informed and over-kill. The news wants us to stay anxiously glued to their reports. Not for knowledge, but for political promotion and gain. Is Covid real? Of course! Is our economy at its worst in history? Absolutely! Does racism in all forms still exist? Beyond a shadow of a doubt! However, regurgitating the adversities with biased agendas takes away from finding genuine solutions to move forward.
Moreover, from a Biblical perspective, it is important to ponder that “what we fear most, is where we trust God the least”. Recently, a devotional that I was reading on my YouVersion app, connected Dorothy’s experience with our country’s current predicament. Think about that for a moment. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, & the Tinman feared wild animals and instead of finding strength inside (Christians call this the Holy Spirit power), they kept repeating the words that scared them the most. Similarly, instead of problem solving, the media just keeps pointing to the problems while highlighting the divisive state of our country. Ironically, as the story goes, the Lion was more scared of them than they were of him, thus, showing that they wasted too much time and energy worrying about something that did not happen. How many times have you fretted over something that never transpired? I know I have! Thankfully, through the Holy Spirit’s help, I have learned to Not worry about things that are beyond my control. Therefore, instead of chanting, Corona, and Recession, and Violence-OH MY, I sing, the chorus, “I will trust in You” by Laura Daigle while finding ways to be a part of the solution.
Ultimately, the more we highlight and emphasize the adversities of our time, the less we will overcome them. Half the year is almost over, and I pray that the second half will be about rebuilding this great country through understanding, love, and support. By remembering that Jesus is our Healer, our Guide, our Counselor, and our Peacemaker, we can be confident in our ability to return our nation to our Sweet Land of Liberty - Home of the brave, home of the free:
Back to the Land that we love!
**Laura Daigle – Trust in You