Archive for the ‘Belief’ Tag

Faith   Leave a comment


Image provided by Brainy Quotes

Image provided by Brainy Quotes

I was led to this quote attributed to St Augustine by my morning devotions today.  I think that many individuals struggle in believing in God, Jesus, or anything which they cannot personally detect with their senses.  I definitely can relate to those feelings since in many areas of my life, I am also one who struggles with not having something concrete upon which to base decisions and actions.  However, when it comes to my spiritual life, this is not the case.

My spiritual life is based on my belief in God.  I may not be able to experience God with my senses directly, however, I have found in my life I experience God in many different ways.  One of the chief ways that I experience God is through other people.  When I receive a phone call from someone which is completely unexpected but extremely beneficial to my particular situation at the time, I attribute that to God.  When I meet someone new who brings to my life an aspect that I have been missing, I attribute that to God.

I also experience God through situations and surroundings.  The beauty of creation around me is evidence of the presence of God to me.  Experiences which I have not planned but occur and give me a different perspective, a new direction, or an affirmation are evidence of the presence of God.  Some of these situations and my surroundings go unnoticed at the specific time but upon reflection I see God.

I know that I can never say that I have heard the audible voice of God in my life.  I know that I can never say that I have felt the physical hand of Jesus in mine leading me somewhere.  I know that I can never say my eyes have beheld the face of my Lord.  However, I believe that I have heard the voice, felt the hand, and beheld the Lord’s face through others and the world around me.

My faith is based not on what I can see, touch, hear or smell but what I experience.  I experience the Lord daily!

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Permeate   Leave a comment


Image provided by eatwell101.com

Image provided by eatwell101.com

Recently I was at one of my favorite coffee locations.  The person behind the counter was doing some prep work for an item they would be selling during the lunch time.  He was cutting up onions for whatever he was preparing.  In a relatively short time, the onion smell began to permeate the who place.  My eyes started to become irritated and all I could seem to smell was onion.  This experience led me to think this morning about what it means to permeate.

I think that we have the opportunity to permeate the lives around us.  The question is with what would we permeate those lives.  As a believer, I feel that one item I have to share is my belief.  Many times throughout a given day, I can share my belief with others.  There are many different ways to approach this but I think the best way is to do this sharing without words most of the time.  The way that I live my life and the manner in which I interact with others is at least a starting point for sharing my belief. When others view my life and interactions, it should lead them to see something different and then ask me about it.  Given that opportunity, words could then come into play.

I think that another way we can permeate the lives around us is in our attitude.  I have blogged before about the impact attitude can have.  A negative attitude can permeate a room and have the effect similar to the onion in the coffee shop.  It can cause irritation and be disruptive.  An attitude of joy, or a positive attitude, can feel the room in an uplifting manner.  This attitude can bring pleasure into the lives of others.

So today, I would challenge all my readers to think about permeating the world and people around you.  With what are you permeating your surroundings?

Unsettled World   2 comments


Image provided by sodahead.com

Image provided by sodahead.com

We are living once again in a time of great unsettlement in the world.  There are so many uncertainties as countries and factions continue to clash.  Who knows what will happen in the Ukraine?  Is Russia starting to return to behaviors as we saw before and during the Cold War?  Will the ceasefire hold in Gaza?  Will ISIS be brought under control in the Middle East?  Are the tensions between China and Japan going to lessen?  Who will demonstrate leadership in the world?

During unsettling times such as these, I am grateful for my faith.  I know that these situations are only temporary.  I believe that overcoming all of these things has already been secured by the Lord.  This belief gives me strength to face each day not with fear but with confidence.  I know and realize that life as I experience it now is not perfect; there will be hardships and struggles.  However, I also know that my future lies in the reality where all of these challenges and pains will be removed.

So my prayer for each of you is that you will weather these latest times of uncertainty with confidence found from your faith.

Simple vs. Complex   Leave a comment


Image provided by averysimple.com

Image provided by averysimple.com

I am sometimes amazed how individuals can make some situations so complex when they do not need to be.  It is true that when you are dealing with people who come to situations from different angles, there can be an increasing complexion which develops.  However, not all situations have to be that complicated.

I was part of a discussion recently that brought this to light for me.  The discussion centered around faith and what is expected of followers of Jesus Christ.  It became clear that way too often, we have a tendency to create a long list of expectations for believers.  However, when you study the whole of Scripture, it becomes very clear to me that there is only one choice that is demanded of followers of Christ…..  Choosing to believe in Jesus Christ.  All other choices and actions are in a response to what Jesus has done for us but does not have a bearing on whether we will spend eternity in the presence of God or in the absence of God.

While this discussion centered around faith, I think that the important lesson that was clear to me is applicable in almost every aspect of our lives.  We need to truly examine a situation and determine if it is really as complex as initially thought or is there a simple choice/decision that needs to be made which will handle the situation.  Leaders need to assist the groups that they led with reducing the complexity where possible and deal with the real issue at hand.

So the next time that I encounter something which I find to be very complex, I am going to strive to take a step back to determine if I am creating a complexity or if there may be just a simple aspect with which I need to deal.

In the Actions   3 comments


Communication

Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

I have often said that you can tell the priorities in a person’s life by watching how they spend their time and money.  When you take time to observe the expenditures of those resources, it becomes pretty evident the level of value and importance a person places upon varies aspects of their lives.  I read some information recently that provided for me another measurement of the way people approach life.  I think that the manner in which people treat other people can speak volumes about their beliefs.

Now before you point out that many people have a disconnect between their beliefs and their actions, I would argue that there may not be that much of a disconnect.  The reason for this may be that an individual really is uncertain about what they believe.  I could cite a long list of reasons that this may be the case but if one does not truly know what they believe, then their actions will generally not be consistent and a disconnect truly may exist.

Another possible reason for this disconnect is because their beliefs do not line up with the beliefs of those around them.  Since most people want to “fit in” with the groups that exist in their lives (family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, etc.), they may attempt to suppress their true beliefs so that they are not communicating thoughts which are in opposition to whatever group to which they may want to remain connected.  This obviously creates in their own minds.  I also believe that there is limited success in this suppression since I would argue their actions in relationships around them would eventually betray them.

On a more positive note, if a person’s actions truly communicate their core beliefs, then it is easy for the person to communicate their beliefs to others not so much in words but in action.  I believe that this is the example set for us by Jesus.  While he did spend a fair amount of teaching and correcting individuals, I believe that his main message regarding the love of God was most clearly communicated through his actions.  Many attribute Francis of Assisi with saying, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.”  While there is not solid evidence to support attributing these words to Francis, the concept remains important.  It clearly communicates the value in communicating one’s beliefs in actions.

Another very important reality if my thoughts are correct is that a person needs to be mindful of what their actions are communicating.  The way that an individual interacts with others can be, and are being, observed.  I, or you, may be communicating messages to others which we have no idea or intention to communicate.  I must always strive to do my best in aligning my actions with my beliefs.

While I lift up the communication of beliefs in a Christian‘s life, I think that this can be said about any person.  I think that what a person believes can be observed by watching their interactions with other people.  I find this to be an important truth for leaders inside and outside of the church.  If a person is going to be a leader, they need to understand the beliefs of those that they are to lead.  They do not have to agree with those beliefs and they may even determine that it will be important to attempt to change or redirect the beliefs of the individuals in the group but they have to initially understand the beliefs that are currently held.  One helpful tool in achieving this understanding is to observe the actions of the people, this will give strong indication of what is believed within the group.

When It’s Not Easy   1 comment


English: Difficult walking This right of way p...

English: Difficult walking This right of way path has been ‘carved up’ by tracked vehicles, making walking along it difficult. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I have had some conversations with a few people who are going through or dealing with some difficult aspects of their lives.  Each situation has its own unique components but all the individuals have indicated in some way that living through whatever is going on is not easy.  These conversations have caused me to pause and give some thought to what it takes to make it through situations or deal with problems when it is not easy.

My Lord has told me that just because I believe in him and put my trust in him, that doesn’t mean all the troubles of life will disappear.  In fact, Scripture gives indication through Jesus’ words to the disciples that because of their belief and following of him, they may encounter more troubles.  The promise that the Lord does give me if I believe in him is that he will be right beside me when troubles arise.  Belief in Jesus is not some magical pill or panacea that makes life just a beautiful journey through green pastures and in beautiful sunshine.  Life has those moments of great joy but life also has those moments of ugliness.  The green pastures have snakes that exist within them and those snakes are always on the ready to strike at my feet.  That beautiful sunshine will be covered over with massive storm clouds at times or can also burn if given the chance.

For me, the only remedy that allows me to get through the times that are not easy in life, is my belief in Jesus Christ.  Specifically in these situations it is the knowledge that I do not walk those difficult paths alone.  I know that the Lord is there to support me.  I know that the Lord is there to pick me up when I fall and scrape myself up.  I know that the Lord is there to help get back on the path when I wander off in an effort to avoid what is ahead.  I know that the Lord is there to give me words of assurance and to be my greatest encourage as I slog my way through whatever I am experiencing.

The truth is that it isn’t easy.  What do you do when it’s not easy?  I turn to my belief in Jesus Christ!

Never Abandoned   3 comments


One of my strongest beliefs regarding the Lord is that the Lord never abandons anyone.  The difficulty with that belief is that everyone experiences times in life when feeling the Lord’s presence seems impossible.  On many occasions, those times when it appears the Lord has abandoned us is during a difficult period.  This has caused me to wonder why during those times it may feel like the Lord has abandoned us.

The first thought that came to me is that I can feel like the Lord has abandoned me when something does not occur in the manner I desire.  I may have a want that I desire to have filled.  It may be a series of events that I have a definite outcome I am seeking.  I may want an event to occur or a change to occur.  When these situations arise and the results are not what I desire, I can easily jump to the conclusion that the Lord has abandoned me.

My next thought was that I may choose to take a path or a direction that the Lord knows is not in my best interest so instead of encouraging me on the path, the Lord just follows along.  When I am not feeling encouraged by the Lord, I may feel abandoned.  The truth is that the Lord has never left me but instead I have been walking in a direction that is away from the Lord.

Then there are the times when I deliberately turn away from the Lord.  These are the times when I do not want to hear what the Lord is telling me because it does not fit “my plan.”  Or these may be the times when I attempt to hide some aspect of my life from the Lord.  The turning away is not the Lord but instead it is me.  I may be ashamed or I may have convinced myself that the Lord could never continue to love me because of what I have done or left undone.

No matter what the situation or what the reason, there truly are times when I feel the emptiness that I attribute to the Lord choosing to abandon me.  The truth is that there is NEVER a time that the Lord abandons me.  My perception is the result of my desire or inability to be near to the Lord.  Jesus made the promise, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20, NIV)  This was not an idle promise.  This was the absolute guarantee.

So, let me make this perfectly clear…..  THE LORD NEVER HAS OR WILL ABANDON US.  This I believe!  When I feel abandoned, it is me that has been walking away, not the Lord.  If I make the honest effort to reach out, the Lord sheds a tear and says, “Welcome back, I’ve been waiting because I love you so much!”  I just need to let go and fall into the Lord’s arms again.