Fans or Followers – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceFans or Followers – Introduction

Those familiar with Facebook are familiar with terms such as “Fans” and “Followers.” In the Facebook world, “Fan” has been replaced by “Likes” – someone who “Likes” your page, your business, what it is you do or offer. But, as a Fan you may not see all of the posts. You’re not that invested. On the other hand, a “Follower” is someone who, after “Liking” your page, is interested enough in your page, your business, what it is you offer, to receive your content. After “Liking” a page, you can turn off the “Follow” aspect, thus minimizing the impact to your News Feed or Pages News Feed. In essence, you can then like a business and then choose not to pay attention to what they have to say.

For many Christians, we treat our relationship with Jesus the same way. We’ve clicked the “Like” button in our hearts, and then we’ve turned around clicked the
“Unfollow” button. The question before us is, “are we fans or followers?”

Spiritual Quote

“Following Jesus isn’t something you can do at night where no one notices. It’s a twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life. That’s not the small print—that’s a guarantee.”
~Kyle Idleman

Planned Scripture

  • Acts: 9:2, 18:26, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, and 24:12
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17

Join Us

Join us every Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Back to Basics – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceBack to Basics – Introduction

Everyone has struggles, challenges, and issues. Sometimes, our challenges and issues cause us to feel alone…lost. What do we do when something or someone is lost? We seek. We seek answers…we seek hope…we seek comfort. In those times, we must remember to Get Back to Basics.

Spiritual Quote

“You can’t find what is lost by standing still.”
~Carole Johnson

Thoughts

This week, I’ve been feeling sort of stuck…lost. Perhaps some of you have, too. Struggles such as depression, grief, sadness, and worry can be paralyzing. Challenges seem to come at us from all sides…financial concerns, health issues, troubled relationships…the list is endless. There never seems to be a shortage of troubles and strife.

This week, while stuck in some challenges of my own, and feeling pretty lost, two things popped into my head…Get Back to Basics and “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33)

I pondered those thoughts for a while, and then I thought…ok, Lord, what does it mean to seek the kingdom of God first? It comes down to one thing…putting God first. His commandments, what He desires from and for us, His love must be the priority in our lives. If we put Him first, everything else will eventually fall into place.

But we can’t do that by standing still. We must be active in our faith – we must actively seek Him. We must spend time with Him. It’s easy to say, “I’m busy” or “I have to (fill in the blank).” How often do we push aside our prayer and meditation time telling ourselves we’ll get to it later? Instead of putting Him first, we fit Him in when it’s convenient. And then, little by little, the busy-ness of life takes over, we never really do get around to seeking Him and spending time with Him, and we feel stuck…lost.

Proverbs 3:5 reminds us to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart…” When we’re troubled, when we’re seeking answers, when we’re feeling lost, we need to trust in Him. There is great truth in the lyric from Amazing Grace…I was lost but now am found. When we trust in Him, when we actively seek Him, He finds us, and we find love, comfort, peace, healing, joy, forgiveness, and grace – through Him.

Seeking Him, and His Kingdom first also means changing our focus. Most of the time, when we go into “prayer mode,” we spend so much of our time listing the things we want Him to do for us, of give to us.

To truly seek Him, and to get the answers we seek, we need to change the focus away from “I want” to “It’s all about you, Lord…what do you want me to do?” And perhaps the hardest part of all, we have to let go…we have to give up control.

God wants us to have everything we need, to shower us with His blessings. The only way that can happen, though, is for us to give up control and actively seek Him. We must make Him the priority in our lives. When we do, the second part of Matthew 6:33 comes into play: “…and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Closing Thoughts

Paul assures us we can make it through any struggle, any challenge, any issue, with Jesus at our side in his letter to the Philippians, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (4:13)” And Jesus Himself gave us assurance when He said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)”

No matter our struggles, challenges, and issues, let’s get back to basics. No longer standing still, let’s get actively involved in our faith; making Jesus and a relationship with God our top priority – actively seeking Him through devoted prayer and meditation, reading Scripture, following His commands, and putting them to work in our lives. With Christ at the forefront of our thoughts and our lives, giving up control and letting Him guide us, everything will fall into place.

Scripture

  • Matthew 6:33
  • Proverbs 3:5
  • Philippians 4:13
  • Matthew 7:7

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to respectfully comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please fee free to share it.

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We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Back to Basics – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceBack to Basics – Introduction

Everyone has struggles, challenges, and issues. Sometimes, our challenges and issues cause us to feel alone…lost. What do we do when something or someone is lost? We seek. We seek answers…we seek hope…we seek comfort. In those times, we must remember to Get Back to Basics.

Spiritual Quote

“You can’t find what is lost by standing still.”
~Carole Johnson

Planned Scripture

  • Matthew 6:33
  • Proverbs 3:5
  • Philippians 4:13
  • Matthew 7:7

Join Us

Join us every Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Honoring Our Fathers – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceHonoring Our Fathers – Introduction

To those who are fathers, or who fill the role of a father, Happy Father’s Day. Exodus 20:12 tells us to “honor thy father and mother.” This, of course, is something we should always do. Of course, we should honor our fathers and mothers always. But today is the day we set aside each year specifically for honoring our fathers.

Spiritual Quote

“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, singers of songs.”
~Pam Brown

A Little History

Father’s Day was inaugurated to complement Mother’s Day as a way of Honoring our Fathers. Following the success of establishing Mother’s Day as a national holiday in 1908, Sonora Dodd is credited with being the driving force behind establishing a day for honoring our fathers. She and others tried numerous times, yet each attempt was met with cynicism, even jokes and sarcasm. Even several attempts were made for congressional action, each bill failed due to fears of commercialization. Mother’s Day was established in 1908. It wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers on the third Sunday of June. And it wasn’t until six years later in 1972 when President Richard Nixon established Father’s Day as a permanent holiday by signing it into law.

And so, today, June 15, in honor of fathers everywhere, we celebrate Father’s Day.

Thoughts

Like Mother’s Day, writing a message for Father’s Day can get a little tricky. We want to honor fathers, but we also must be sensitive to those who have not had a great relationship with their dads; and to those, like me, whose dads are no longer with us. A lot of us have, or had, great dads. Some of us are dads, and we’ve tried, or are trying, to be great dads. Others may not have had such a great dad; and some of us may be struggling with our own role as a father.

If we have, or had, great dads, we remember fondly all that they did for us and all that they taught us. If they’re still with us, we can spend time with them, either in person or on the phone if they’re far away, and we can let them know just how much we appreciate them. If our dads have passed, as mine has, we can spend some quiet time today and reflect on our memories of them, and we can be thankful for the time that we had with them. Even if our dads aren’t or weren’t the greatest, we can at least be thankful for the fact that they gave us life; we can honor them for that, and we can spend time with, or remember, those who filled the role of a father in our lives.

And, if we’re dads ourselves, hopefully our children are thinking of and honoring us today, too.

A Good Father

Scripture has a lot to say about being a great father. I’d also like to acknowledge Pastor Lynn Floyd for his thoughts on this subject.

As we review some of the verses, I invite you to reflect on the great father figures in your lives. And, for those of us who are fathers, we can also reflect on these verses to see how they might apply in our lives:

  • A father loves his children.

Psalm 103:13 says, “As a father has compassion on his children…”

The Hebrew word translated as compassion means love, tender-hearted, merciful. This means a father puts the needs of his children before his own. It means striving to do what’s right for the sake of the child. That may look different from family to family, but the concept remains the same – fathers are to love their children.

  • A father treats his children fairly and with kindness.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath…”

This ties back to loving – being loving and merciful. Fathers are to treat their children fairly, with kindness and gentleness. One Bible translation uses the word exasperate; which means create hostility, or to cause irritation or anger. This doesn’t mean that children are allowed to do whatever they want to do, that fathers aren’t supposed to punish errant behavior. But it means that any such punishment must be given fairly and lovingly.

  • A father provides discipline.

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24

The original word in the KJV, translated in modern versions as diligent, is betimes; which means early or occasionally, at times. Children need boundaries, and they need to learn consequences. At times, this means discipline for errant behavior. This instruction must be tied back to treating children fairly. When punishment is necessary, it must be administered with love and with a sense of fairness, and never out of anger. Of course, the child won’t necessarily like it at the time.

No child likes being put on time out, is thrilled by getting grounded, or enjoys getting a spanking. Paul speaks to this in Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

  • A father takes the time to train and instruct his children.

The second part of Ephesians 6:4 says, “Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.” Instruction the Lord would approve of is moral and spiritual – giving our children a sense of right and wrong, good and evil. The best way for a father to do this is by example. Fathers must live the lives they wish their children to emulate.

  • Fathers provide for their families.

1 Timothy 5:8 says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This verse makes it clear that fathers have a responsibility to provide for their families. This doesn’t just mean necessities like food and shelter. Fathers should provide stability and security, and provide an environment in which children can flourish and grow into responsible, successful, loving, adults.

Personally, I’m grateful I had a father who lived up to each and every one of the above Scriptures. He provided for our family. Though we weren’t rich, we never lacked for anything. He worked hard to provide the material necessities, he provided stability and security, and he created an environment in which we could flourish. He spent time with us, took an interest in our interests, gave us a sense of right and wrong – and he taught by example. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of some lesson he gave me, whether by word or example. When necessary, he had no qualms living up to Proverbs. True to Paul’s words, I didn’t like it at the time. But, looking back, though they were painful at times, I’m thankful my dad cared enough to discipline me when needed; and I can honestly say I deserved, and learned from, every whippin’ I ever got.  (Well, except for one I got when I was put in the position of making one of two choices – both of which would have earned a spanking. Dad and I talked about that incident years later and he agreed that I really didn’t deserve that one. On the other hand, there were many, many that I did deserve that I didn’t get, so we just called it even.) He was always fair, never abusive, and never treated one of us differently than another. And, even when he had to punish us, it was done fairly and lovingly.

Most of all, he genuinely loved us – he put our needs above his own, and his greatest joy was to see us grow into honest, loving, responsible, and happy adults. Like our quote, I had the privilege of having a dad who was a story-teller, an adventurer, a singer of songs, and a hero.

I hope that you, too, have had that type of father. If not, I hope you had a father-figure in your lives. If you have, and if you are able, take a moment today to reach out to that special person. Let him know how much he is loved, and how much you appreciate all he has done to help shape you into who you are today. And, if like me, your father or father figure has already passed, or you are otherwise unable to reach out personally, take a moment today to spend some quiet time reflecting and remembering him.

If you’re a father, or if you are filling that role for someone, I invite you to reflect on these Scriptures and let them guide you into being the best father you can be. And, due to circumstances, are not be able to be an active part of your children’s lives, start with simply loving them. Set aside any selfish desires you may have and make decisions for them that are in their best interest. And pray that they have a father-figure who will provide for them that which you are not currently able to provide.

Closing Thoughts

I invite you to keep one other thing in mind. There is one other Father whom we should be honoring today. Regardless of the type of dad we had, or the type of dad we are, we all have a Heavenly Father who loves us. Ephesians 4:6 reminds us, “One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Our Heavenly Father will never leave us. Even if our earthly father is absent, we always have God. Psalm 27:10 tells us, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.” And Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us, “…He will never leave you nor forsake you.” God loves us as much as He loves His own Son, Jesus. In John 17:23, Jesus’ prayer states this plainly when He says, “…Then the world will know that you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me.”

John 8:43 tells us, “Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here.”” Regardless of whether or not we have, or had, what we might consider a great dad, through our faith in and love for Jesus, we have a Father who remains constant in our lives. God, our creator, is our Heavenly Father. And so, today, when honoring our earthly fathers, let’s also remember to honor God, the Father of all.

I’d like to close today by sharing a poem by Claris Dye:

A LETTER TO DAD

There are so many things I’d like
To tell you face to face;
I either lack the words or fail
To find the time and place.

But in this special letter, Dad,
You’ll find, at least in part,
The feelings that the passing years
Have left within my heart.

The memories of childhood days
And all that you have done,
To make our home a happy place
And growing up such fun!

I still recall the walks we took,
The games we often played;
Those confidential chats we had
While resting in the shade.

This letter comes to thank you, and,
For needed words of praise;
The counsel and the guidance, too,
That shaped my grown-up days.

No words of mine can tell you, Dad,
The things I really feel;
But you must know my love for you
Is lasting, warm and real.

You made my world a better place,
And through the coming years;
I’ll keep these memories of you
As cherished souvenirs.

Scripture

  • Exodus 20:12
  • Psalm 103:13
  • Ephesians 6:4
  • Proverbs 13:24
  • Hebrews 12:11
  • Ephesians 6:4
  • 1 Timothy 5:8
  • Ephesians 4:6
  • Psalm 27:10
  • Deuteronomy 31:6
  • John 8:43

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to respectfully comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please fee free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Honoring Our Fathers – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceHonoring Our Fathers – Introduction

We should honor our fathers and mothers, always. But this Sunday is the day we set aside each year specifically for honoring our fathers.

Spiritual Quote

“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, singers of songs.”
~Pam Brown

Planned Scripture

  • Exodus 20:12
  • Psalm 103:13
  • Ephesians 6:4
  • Proverbs 13:24
  • Hebrews 12:11
  • Ephesians 6:4
  • 1 Timothy 5:8
  • Ephesians 4:6
  • Psalm 27:10
  • Deuteronomy 31:6
  • John 8:43

Join Us

Join us every Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Reaching Out – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceReaching Out – Introduction

Lots of churches, like most businesses, have a tagline. Ours is “We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth and Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!” The question isn’t whether a business or church has a tagline. If they do, the question becomes, “do we live up to it?”

Spiritual Quote

“Reaching out to others makes you reachable.”
~Carole Johnson

Thoughts

Events this week have given me the opportunity to reflect on our tagline; and the question, “do we live up to it?”

A tagline is defined as: a memorable phrase or sentence that is closely associated with a particular person, product, movie, etc.

So, I thought about our tagline – We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth and Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome. I thought about what it means, and whether we live up to what we say.

In breaking it down, there are four components that make up our tagline: Community, Spiritual Growth, Healing, and Welcome.

Community is defined as: A unified body of individuals as an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location.

Scripture speaks to the importance of community numerous times:

  • “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalms 133:1
  • “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Corinthians 1:10
  • “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11
  • “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5
  • “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3

Spiritual Growth is: To integrate a higher and higher degree of spirituality into our lives each day, deepening our relationship with God, and allowing Jesus to lead us into living lives of godliness.

Scripture actually provides us with a detailed description of what Spiritual Growth should look like:

  • “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3–8

And Galatians provides us a list of those things that we must work to eliminate in order to achieve Spiritual Growth; as well as a list of the benefits of such growth:

  • “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these…” Galatians 5:19-21
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” Galatians 5:22-23

Healing is defined as: the act or process of regaining health.

When discussing healing, it’s important to remember that healing includes body, mind, spirit, and emotion. We tend to want to compartmentalize each of these aspects into their own separate boxes. However, all four aspects of our selves are intertwined. When one aspect is in dis-ease, other aspects of our selves also suffer. Health problems can cause emotional issues, spiritual and mental issues or problems can manifest physically, etc.

There are many, many verses dealing with healing; just a couple of which are:

  • In describing various gifts given to various members of the body, Paul includes, “to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit…” 1 Corinthians 12:9
  • And one of my favorites: “…then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.” Matthew 9:6-8

And finally we have Welcome, which is defined as: To greet the arrival of (a person, guests, etc.) with pleasure or kindly courtesy; gladly received, as one whose arrival gives pleasure.

Again, Scripture tells us many, many times how important it is to welcome others without prejudice:

  • “For God shows no partiality.” Romans 2:11
  • “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:7
  • “Honor men of all sorts, have love for the whole association of brothers. . .” 1 Peter 2:17

We may currently be small in numbers, but we are great in faith, and in how we live that faith. Do we live up to our tagline? I would have to say, most emphatically, Yes! We, as a group, are a unified body that has come together in order to worship our Lord, and to spread His message of Peace and Love to those around us.

We offer community events in order to provide support and to create opportunities to enrich the lives of individuals and families.

Through use of our prayer rooms, people stopping by for spiritual guidance, Reiki treatment and classes, and, of course, our worship services, we provide individuals with a host of opportunities to experience Spiritual Growth.

Worship, prayer, Reiki, and the host of healing workshops offered provide opportunities to heal all aspects of ourselves – Body, Mind, Spirit, and Emotion.

And, we truly welcome all who enter. We strive to live up to Scripture, showing no partiality; treating others with dignity and respect, we welcome everyone just as Christ has welcomed us.

Closing Thoughts

So, yes, we live up to our tagline; which leads us back to our quote. We genuinely reach out to others, providing fellowship and community, spiritual growth, and healing to all. It is in that reaching out that we become reachable. And so it is, I thank God every day for the opportunity He has provided us to serve, as Christ also served. And, I pray that our service brings glory to God; and that our reaching out inspires others to pursue and develop a relationship with Him through His Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen

Scripture

  • Psalms 133:1
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10
  • 1 John 4:11
  • Romans 12:4-5
  • Ephesians 4:3
  • 2 Peter 1:3–8
  • Galatians 5:19-21
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • 1 Corinthians 12:9
  • Matthew 9:6-8
  • Romans 2:11
  • Romans 15:7
  • 1 Peter 2:17

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to respectfully comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please fee free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Reaching Out – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceReaching Out – Introduction

Lots of churches, like most businesses, have a tagline. Ours is “We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth and Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!” The question isn’t whether a business or church has a tagline. If they do, the question becomes, “do we live up to it?”

Spiritual Quote

“Reaching out to others makes you reachable.”
~Carole Johnson

Potential Scripture

  • Psalms 133:1
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10
  • 1 John 4:11
  • Romans 12:4-5
  • Ephesians 4:3
  • 2 Peter 1:3–8
  • Galatians 5:19-21
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • 1 Corinthians 12:9
  • Matthew 9:6-8
  • Romans 2:11
  • Romans 15:7
  • 1 Peter 2:17

Join Us

Join us every Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Seeds of Opportunity – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceSeeds of Opportunity – Introduction

We all face challenges as we travel along the journey of our lives. As the seasons of our lives change and unfold, do we view those difficulties as obstacles, or do we view them as seeds of opportunity?

Spiritual Quote

“Every adversity contains, at the same time, a seed of equivalent opportunity!”
~Napoleon Hill

Thoughts

As you know, I had the opportunity to travel to North Carolina this week to spend time with my son, Gary. After spending 11 years in the United States Air Force, the time had come for him to retire. Over the course of 11 years he been deployed four times. His last deployment damaged his back, shoulders, and knees so badly that he is now permanently, partially disabled. As a result, the time has come for him to leave the military with a medical retirement. Even though his career was relatively short, far shorter than the normal retirement of 20 years of service, his command felt that his record had earned him a full retirement ceremony. I flew back to North Carolina to be a part of that special celebration.

At Gary’s request, I had the honor of giving the Invocation. Part of the Invocation was, “…we look forward with hope, anticipation, and joy to the unfolding of the next phase of his life’s journey.”

Visiting with Gary and participating in his retirement ceremony started me thinking about life, the plans we make, changes that occur, challenges that arise, and the choices we make. And, the more I spoke with Gary about his feelings, the more I realized just how much of an inspiration he is – to me, and to others facing challenges.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”

Gary’s career began while he was still in high school. While a member of Junior ROTC, he made the decision to serve in the Air Force. He was so sure of his decision that he signed a commitment through DEP – Delayed Entry Program – a year before he even graduated. Having made the decision to “go career” and serve at least 20 years, upon graduation he immediately enlisted for six years. Never wavering from his goal, at the end of that six-year enlistment, he re-enlisted for another six years. Every decision he made, from buying a home to planning his wedding, was based on his plan to have a 20-year career in the Air Force. He had a plan, and his path was certain.

During his time in service, Gary was blessed with fairly rapid promotion, achieving the rank of Technical Sergeant in only 10 years; he had earned the respect of his subordinates, peers, and superiors; and was totally committed to, and passionate about, the Air Force – especially Security Forces. That all changed with the disability. His dreams were shattered, and the blueprint he had drawn for his life was completely and totally changed forever. His life’s journey, that was once filled with a fair amount of certainty, had now become one of incertitude. He would no longer be able to continue in the career he loved, until he finds another position he’ll be unemployed, the disability will limit his career options, his income has been drastically reduced, etc. Yet, through it all, he has remained confident and positive. And, although he mourns the loss, rather than dwelling on what has been lost, he looks to the future with excitement for, and anticipation of, the new opportunities his journey will now present.

Gary could easily sit and stew over how unfair it all is, focus on “why me,” and complain about all that he’s losing. Instead, he acknowledges the sadness and the loss, and makes the choice to focus on the possibilities that now await his discovery. He remains cheerful. And, he remains thankful for the wonderful career and opportunities he’s had, as well as the blessings he has in his life – his home, his friends, his family, and his beautiful fiancé, Sarah.

All of us can relate. We’ve all been faced with life-changing circumstances and events. The question is not whether or not we’ll face them, it’s how will we face them when they occur?

As I said, Gary is an inspiration to me. After spending time with him this week, watching as his life literally changes before my eyes, and seeing how he is facing the challenges, I began to think about all of us and how we face our challenges. Do we face them with fear and doubt? Or do we face them with a sense of anticipation and hope?

The passage in Ecclesiastes reminds us that everything in our lives, indeed, our very lives, have seasons. God’s plan for creation includes four seasons – what we call Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Those seasons are based on the earth’s rotation as it revolves around the sun. The seasons change, but the sun is constant. Our lives have seasons, too; and God has given us a constant as well – His Son, Jesus Christ. We are assured of Christ’s constancy through Paul’s words in Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

And, in Matthew 28:20, Jesus assures us he will always be with us when He says, “”…And remember, I am with you each and every day until the end of the age.”

Throughout Scripture we are advised to turn to God and to our Lord, Jesus when challenges arise:

  • Psalm 46:1-2 – “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…”
  • Psalm 55:22 – “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you…”
  • 1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
  • John 14:1 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me.”
  • Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Like Gary, we’re all facing challenges or changes of some sort or another. Perhaps we’re looking for a job for the first time in a long time. Maybe we’re faced with a move we’d rather not be making. Or we might be plagued by financial worries, health concerns, or troubled relationships. Regardless – the question remains the same…do we let our sadness, fear, or doubt paralyze and trap us; or do we see our challenges as Seeds of Opportunity to experience life in new and exciting ways?

Closing Thoughts

Every challenge we face provides us with the opportunity to turn to God; and to allow Him to guide us, encourage us, and fill us with strength. How? Through prayer. By taking time to be still, to be one with Him. In that stillness, He will guide us, comfort us, strengthen us, and fill us with His peace.

Our prayer doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. We can simply pray, “Lord, remove my fear and doubt, guide me to make the right decisions, and fill me with your strength.” Slowly but surely, our path will be made clear, and we will proceed with boldness and confidence.

Challenges, relationships, material things, careers, health, etc. come and go. The question is not whether change will occur, but how we will face it when it does. When we’re faced with our challenges, are we filled with doubt and fear. Or, do we see those challenges as seeds for change from which new and exciting experiences will grow? Do we get let ourselves get mired in looking back at what we’ve lost, trapped in fear, dread, doubt, and sadness? Or do we look forward to the unfolding of the next phase of our lives felled with a sense of anticipation, joy, and hope?

I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to share such a momentous occasion with Gary. And, I am thankful that I have been blessed with a son who, besides being an awesome young man, is such an incredible inspiration, not only to me, but to those who know him. when I’m faced with my own changing seasons, I hope and pray that, with God’s help, I face them with the same courage, strength, dignity, and grace he has shown.I’d like to close today by sharing these thoughts from The Daily Word (May 8, 2014):

I meet every challenge with strength.

Strength enables me to persevere when I am challenged; yet I don’t need to endure it alone. The presence of God strengthens me whenever I need energy to meet any adversity.

Just as I nourish my body at mealtimes to remain physically strong, I nourish my spiritual strength through prayer and meditation. Prayer reminds me that God and I are one, that everything I need is already available to me. i connect with God’s mighty presence by affirming: My resilience comes from Spirit within. My strength is the energy of God.

As I partner with God in prayer, I become stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. I meet any challenge through the presence of God that strengthens me.

Scripture for the day: The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation. (Exodus 15:2)

No matter what challenges you might be facing today or in the future, I invite you to turn to God; and let Him fill you with courage and strength. Spend time with Him each and every day, turn your cares over to Him, and let your adversities become Seeds of Opportunities from which a beautiful, wonderful, and exciting life will emerge. And, as our hymn reminds us, in those times, let Jesus be your rock and your anchor. And so it is. Amen.

Scripture

  • Ecclesiastes 3:1
  • Hebrews 13:8
  • Matthew 28:20
  • Psalm 46:1-2
  • Psalm 55:22
  • 1 Peter 5:7
  • John 14:1
  • Philippians 4:13
  • Exodus 15:2

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