Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guest Blogger @ My Faith Journal :: Michael Mitchell


    Everyone is welcome to go check out 
the latest edition of "GUEST BLOGGER of the MONTH".  

   This month's blog is an article entitled "Believe!" by my good friend, Michael Mitchell.   Mike is my neighbor, and also a member and elder in his church, and also a wonderful singer/evangelist/teacher who travels here and abroad to share the good news of the gospel.   Go & enjoy his insights as he shares from his heart this month.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

No Rain, No Gain

   There was a post on Facebook today that said, "Name one random thing about yourself."  Something like that is so hard for me to figure out.  Random?   The word means "chosen without method or conscious decision; odd, unusual, or unexpected."  In that I've never been able to do a 'rain dance' or any other thing to produce a rainstorm, then it could be considered random, I guess.   But I find a rainstorm neither odd nor unusual.  Maybe unusually beautiful.   Often, it is unexpected.   But then other times, it is predicted well in advance of the moment.  So random?   I'm not sure.. but that was my answer.

    I LOVE RAIN..  I don't know why exactly.. except that it tends to refresh and invigorate me.  I cannot comprehend whenever people complain about rain.   The few times that rain has inconvenienced me have been random and easy to overlook.   It usually causes me to pause and reflect, and take deep breaths.

   I just heard awhile ago that a rain shower is predicted for this afternoon.  So I grab my jacket and head for the front door, to get in a quick walk before the rain preempts me.  I'll enjoy the walk, but I believe that I'll enjoy the rain even more.   There's almost nothing that I enjoy more than to sit on the front porch in my favorite rocking chair during a rainstorm, and listen to the heavy downpour.   I often take a book or my guitar out with me, and enjoy two pleasures at once.  There's something about the rain that causes chill bumps, that makes me tingle.  It's exciting!

   Yes, I love the feeling of rain coming down and the pitter-patter sound of it hitting the roof, the pavement, or the window.  I even occasionally get brave and walk out into a heavy rain, and get myself soaked, just for the fun of it.  There are some that would never think of doing that, but clothes dry, and so do we.  

   When you think about rain in a spiritual sense, it was once a sign of God's judgment.  Some believe that at the time of Noah and the great flood (Genesis chapters 6-9), there had never been any rain up until that point.  After the flood, God sent a rainbow to show a sign that water would no longer bring judgment.   It's "odd" in a way for me to think of rain as a judgment.  Jesus also used rain to show the folly of people building their life upon a false foundation.  (Matthew 7:24-27)   Of course, people do occasionally drown.   But normally, that's because they do something foolish, usually in waters that are nowhere close to shore and deep over their heads.   But getting hurt in a rainstorm is rather far-fetched to me, even though I've never been close to getting hit by lightning.   So there may be a bit of danger there.  But I've never felt it... yet.

   Instead, rain to me is an adventure.  I get literally mentally and emotionally lost in a rainstorm.  I oftentimes park myself in that porch rocking chair, and lose myself in the midst of it all.  I love it when rain goes on and on for a couple of hours.  It brings a smile to my face, and lifts my heart.   It sometimes causes any pains or burdens of the day to go away.   Occasionally, I even write a song in the middle of a rainstorm.

    Jesus talked of our spiritual life as being a "river of living water".  Yes, rain brings not only death, but life.   It can be a refreshment to our souls, minds, and bodies.   It can help a bad day become good and a good day become better.

          So, the next time it rains, don't get mad or upset.   Don't feel like your day is ruined.  No matter what you might have planned, take time to enjoy the rain.  And then, always look for the rainbow.

For he gives his sunlight to 
both the evil and the good, and 
he sends rain on 
the just and the unjust alike.  (Matthew 5:45)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

No Tears in Heaven

   I've often read and heard that there will be no more tears in heaven.  Eric Clapton wrote a famous song about it, after his son's tragic death.  It seems like a good thing, only being happy and positive, never being upset or worried about anything anymore, and never breaking down emotionally.

   Some people may be getting a "head start" on heaven though.  It's a known fact that people in our modern era experience more stress, worry and regret, and practice holding in their deepest feelings without experiencing any healthy outlet for emotional release.  This kind of lifestyle can not only make a person heavily depressed, but also physically sick over a period of time.

   Sometimes I just sit and wonder, "When was the last time that I actually cried?"  Weird question to ponder, huh?  But more often than not, I cannot even remember the last time that I cried my eyes out over some situation or experience.  Some people say that grown men don't (or shouldn't) cry.  I personally do not buy into that philosophy.  While excessive tears, like anything, can be imbalanced,  I just read online that crying is actually a very healthy thing.  It can relieve and release stress,  uplift your emotional mood, and also cause great physical results : detoxification and physical health.  I don't see many people recommending that their friends and colleagues have a "good cry" once in a while, but it actually is a good therapy for achieving a happy and healthy life.

   I believe one reason that I wrote this particular post about crying is because I've felt an inner buildup of emotions lately that may well culminate at some point in a burst of tears.  I'm not trying to bring it on, I just feel it coming.  And I'm not afraid of it.  It will probably do my heart good.  It will probably be accompanied by some form of praying, or deep thoughts, and may just be "the thing that the doctor ordered."

  So-- may the rivers flow-- let it all out.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gems and Acronyms

   I just found my mind wandering while trying to read through the 30 small lesson chapters that I have to complete weekly for my three online classes. It was talking about the different kinds of businesses and websites that are online. Terms and acronyms like B2C, C2C, & CRM are presented to help us to remember terms, but eventually just become like little fishes that swim around in my head.

    The six strings of the guitar are a sort of acronym : E A D G B E. That's been ingrained in my head for a lot of years. But my beginner guitar students need a tool to learn it. So we use one like "E-very A-ngry D-og G-rowls & B-arks @ E-veryone." It works!

    However, acronyms are also a symptom of our ever-growing attempts to use shortcuts to simplify our lives, which keep on getting more and more complicated every day.

    It started out with business, with companies using logos and acronyms to get name and brand recognition. "IBM" is a lot easier to say and remember than "International Business Machines." And then there's GMC, KFC, and AOL. Even our country is known as the USA. And sometimes acronyms change meaning. TM, once thought of as a symbol for Trademark, is now universally recognized as "Transcendental Meditation."

    With the Internet, it seems even personal communication has introduced shortcuts. "Have a good evening" or "Until we meet again" has been replaced with "Cya later." Online, it's "omg" and "BFF" and "lol."

    I think sometimes the longer path is the more scenic and enjoyable one. While shortcuts can have their place, I don't think we should live our lives constantly seeking a quicker fix to everything, or a faster way through our daily activity. By doing so, we may just miss out on some priceless gems along the way. 

    Take the time to smell the roses. Or, as someone might say, "TtTtStR"... lol. 

Living for the Moment

   I hear a lot of people saying, "Just live for the moment".  While this seems to make a lot of sense, if you take it to its logical conclusion, it only works if you believe in an existence that begins and ends in yourself and your own personal happiness.  I am not saying anyone should seek to be sad or unhappy- not at all.  But there is a higher calling than just living for ourselves and what we can get out of this life.

  Colossians 3:17- So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

  Another slogan or saying that I hear a lot is "Follow your heart."  And again, while it seems like a good thing to do on the surface, I know that I've led myself down many rabbit paths during the course of my life, and believe most of you have done the same thing.  We are not always capable of making the right decisions.

  Proverbs 3:5,6-  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

  The bottom line is really whether or not we believe in a God who created us and loves us.  A lot of people seem to have a hard time with a personal God.   It may be because we also have something inside of us that haunts us until we reach out in faith to know him.  And if you are running from that relationship, it makes sense that you would do your best not to think about it.

  If we are experiencing troubles in our life, it may just be the time for acknowledging our need and reaching out to the God who cares and loves us.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Comfortable Faith

   The word "faith" is tossed around a lot.  People talk about "my faith" as if it is something that they own or created.  Faith is a gift from God.  { It says so in Ephesians 2:8,9 }.  It's nothing that we concocted or mustered up out of nowhere.   It is given to us as a gift.  Now we do EXERCISE our gifts of faith, and they grow and mature.  We progress in being able to relax and be comfortable in trusting God in everyday life.  But we should all be reminded of the source of our faith : it is not in and of ourselves.
    Because of the way people look at faith, when they talk about "having" faith, they are oftentimes tentative or mysterious about it.   In their minds, it has a pie-in-the-sky, mystical quality about it.  They say, "I'm just going to have to have faith," as if that is a last resort or the very last option on our list.   It is unfathomable to me why people would go to every other resource or look under every rock for an answer to their problems, before calling on God.

   It's just a question of relationship.  Most people "think" they have some kind of a relationship with God.  But in times of trial or testing, they become tense and upset, and they cry out to a God that they really have never known.   God has provided a way to a relationship with him, and not a formal or conditional relationship, but one in which we actually become his adopted sons and daughters through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ.  

   The title of this post is "A Comfortable Faith."  Jesus said that God would send us a Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, to dwell, or live in our lives.   It is definitely a surreal or metaphysical truth.  We do not understand the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  That is, we cannot really explain it.  But he came by his Spirit to live within us.  We experience and know him. And he is there to comfort, encourage, teach, and lead us each and every day of our lives.

   It's funny how people don't recognize God in their lives, or look for a relationship with him, until they're suddenly in trouble and they have exhausted every single last option on their list.  They they turn and call on a God who they have never called on before.  My faith in God is not a "hurry-up-and-fix-it" kind of a faith.  It's a faith that daily believes that God is leading and guiding me, and has my best interests at heart.  It's a faith that knows that God cares for and loves me as his child, and has promised that nothing will happen in my life that he doesn't know about, and that doesn't have a purpose in his overall plan.  So when things come up that I don't understand or can't deal with, I know that he is STILL with me { he's been there all along }, and that everything will eventually work out for the best.

   When things are going well, we should thank God for it, and acknowledge his blessing.  But it's tempting to somehow think that when things go right for us, then somehow "we did it" or made it happen.  Of course, we put our energy and strength into certain personal achievements, but is our life something that we feel that we have manufactured or put together on our own?   God says that our earthly lives are fleeting and superficial.  So many times, we start thinking that we are invincible, or indestructible, when the truth is just the opposite.

    "Joy in life comes from trusting God."  

   I'm really glad that I have faith in my heavenly Father, and in his Son Jesus.  I feel sad for those people on earth who live their lives, in happy and sad times, without that knowledge in their hearts.   And it is not a fairy tale.  Not a made-up religious notion. It is a relationship that I cannot explain or see physically, but that I see the results of every day of my life.  It is a reality that we live by daily.  It is a relationship that is cherished and enjoyed.  And it is a relationship that will go on forever and ever.


PRAYER:   Thank you God, for the reality of your presence in our lives.  I don't understand everything about you..  aaah.. I don't really even understand your existence.  But I do HAVE FAITH in you, and believe that you are with me each and every day.   And I believe that when we call on you, you hear us, and are able to give us what we truly need.  Increase our faith, and bring faith to those that do not know or believe in you.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Redeeming the Time

   I’ve heard this phrase used so many times by pastors and teachers to symbolize that we mustn’t stop a moment to rest this side of heaven, because of all of the unfinished work that is left to be done in our lives on earth.

   It occurred to me that “God is not in a hurry”- most of the time, I see God working through “timely” and thoughtful acts and circumstances, not through “to-do” lists that are hastily accomplished and marked off.. or even left partially done.

   My concern lately is to be more thoughtful in the things that I do, to begin to exercise more wisdom and discernment in HOW I go about doing the things I do, and to ask His help in prioritizing my life.   I acknowledge that a lot of my life’s activity has been random and thoughtless, the mere “running to and fro” and actually accomplishing less and less.

   One version (NIV) translates the words “redeeming the time” as “making the most of every opportunity.”  Let's all seek and pray for each other to do this.
 "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,   
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."
(Ephesians 5:15,16)


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tween Times

     Many times, we catch ourselves in places that we desired to be, but not for an extended time period. A doctor’s appointment.  An unplanned conversation with an acquaintance or friend that drags on too long.  A traffic jam on a busy highway.   A relationship or a season in our lives that we’re ready to get out of and move on to something new and exciting.   Don’t you just hate these times? If we had planned to be caught in these types of circumstances for this long, we would have planned ahead and made preparations or arranged to have a “Plan B” in place.  But more often than not, we get in the middle of a situation, and neither know how to get out of it, or have any source of comfort or contentment to carry us on to its ultimate conclusion.

  I like to carry a book or a notepad with me when I am going to be in a situation where there may be some waiting time.  My first preference would be to get this appointment over and done, so that I can move on.  But sometimes there are just no good options or choices in a situation, so we make the best of it, sometimes enduring it more than enjoying it.

   These are the “tween times” of our lives.  The points of our journey in between Point A and Point B.  The places that we find ourselves, rather than put ourselves.   And even though many of us may like to plan our lives out in an organized fashion, these “tween times” are inevitable.   Our interactions with other people cause some of these times.  Perhaps a period of unemployment or transition to a new career.  Sometimes, it’s just the Stuff of Life.   They can become the grit and gristle that knaws at our inner beings, and cause us stress, anxiety, frustration and bitterness.

  People have referred to me before as an easy-going, laid back kind of person.  My exterior may appear this way, but truth is, I get as annoyed and frustrated at things as any other person.   It’s not so easy making choices about big things, like what career or job path we will follow, who we may choose as a spouse and life partner, or how we will plan our finances and pay our bills.   Fact is, we make unconscious choices every day of our lives, the kind that seem to be forced on us by uncontrolled circumstances.

   Whether it be a short or long-term situation, one that lasts thirty minutes or thirty years, it is important to make a conscious decision before these times develop, that we will face them with a peace and contentment, and trust God himself to use them in our lives.   He knows what we are going through and what we need to get us through it.  When we ask him to take our situation, he will either remove it, or more often, use it to make us better because of it.

  I've heard it said before, "I enjoyed the journey more than I did the destination." You see, sometimes these periods of waiting are necessary for our success and development. Hopefully, a new perspective on our "tween times" will help us enjoy them more, and not just be anxious for them to go away before their time.

  Hey, next time you get caught waiting too long in the doctor’s office, or in a traffic jam, or even in a difficult relationship, bring up one of my blogs and maybe it will bring you a smile in the midst of your little (or big) inconveniences.


"Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7
 "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;  they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."      Isaiah 40:31