Monday, March 29, 2010

Expectations


"The times in life when I get the most hurt in relationships, the moments when I am most tempted to pull back, are when my expectations are out of line. When I expect someone to respond to me one way and they choose another. I get disappointed or hurt. In the verse in Luke that says "love your enemies (think difficult people in my life), do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back," Jesus offers a word of wisdom and encouragement: DROP your expectations! I have interpreted this to mean that people cannot give you what they do not have. Whatever the reason for that, when I realize that they did not give what they did not have, I am set free! In my heart I can be kind again."

As I read this in The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg, I thought, "Oh my gosh! This is so true of me. I do have expectations of people to act a certain way toward me, toward others and when they don't, I get hurt and judge them or reject them. I need to remember this so I CAN drop my expectations and just give kindness. And how do I do that? By receiving the abundant kindness of God toward me. Well, actually, I have already received it, since He has forgiven me of all my grime and gunk and has loved me extravagantly and lavishly. I just need to be aware of that truth moment by moment and in those moments when someone does not reciprocate, turn to God to recognize HIS abundant kindness to me and settle into Him and receive the kindness I'm looking for from the other (difficult, especially at that moment) person, from God instead. He never disappoints.

Help me Papa to be more kind to those who don't do what I expect and help me remember they don't have it to give back.

That gets me out of my entitlement mentality (I deserve their kindness b/c I was kind, or b/c they are my friend, my family). People never seem to respond well to others feeling entitled."

"A renewal or restoration takes place (in me) when I give up the sense I am owed something. I am able to give freely, not expecting anything in return." ibid.

This is my prayer for myself today. Simple, but not easy. Thank You Papa that you are willing to help me be more like You in this way.



Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Bridegroom calls to me . . .



You are My chosen, My Beloved, My Delight and loved as none other. Each of My chosen ones are as the only bride for the Bridegroom. Just as the Bridgegroom chooses His bride, I have chosen you to be mine forever. I loved you so very much that I waa willing to shed My blood and die so that you could be my bride. Allow Me to love you unreservedly and soak in My love for you, just for you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On the Things God Witholds



When I say "I need this" (to be happy, content, fulfilled . . . you fill in the blank) what I really am saying is God's love and God's life are not enough. Isn't that what Adam and Eve were seduced into believing - that God was not enough? He had given them so much but all they could see . . . was the one thing they didn't have.

Once we focus on that one thing it swells to mythic proportions. We are certain life will "come together" once we have "it" or achieve "it." The only thing we truly need is God and the LIFE He gives us.

God uses our disappointments, our longings, to draw us to Himself. To wean our hearts from every other perceived source of life so that we might come to find our life in Him. This may be why everyone of us bears at least one major and lingering disappointment in our life that we don't understand why it is still there and unfulfilled. It reminds us everyday that we cannot make life work the way we want. If we'll let it, the disappointment can be God's way of continually drawing us back to Himself.

I have a choice - I can let my disappointments define my life. Or I can let them them take me back to God, to find my life in Him in ways I have not yet learned. And so I break the agreement that I've made, that I need this. I give this place in my heart back to You, God. Fill me with Your love and Your life in this very place.

You alone are enough.

taken from Walking with God by John Eldredge

Monday, March 15, 2010

We are invited into a conversational intimacy with God!



I read this line in John Eldredge's Walking with God, a book I highly recommend, and I thought "how very true this statement is but how many of us don't REALLY believe it!" More often than I'd like to hear, Christian friends whom I respect talk about how it is wrong to focus on "feeling" God in our lives. Now I agree, to a point; we can't just want God for the good feelings He graciously gives us. BUT it almost feels like we throw the baby out with the bathwater, i.e., throw the experiential part of the relationship out with the feelings. That would be like marrying someone only because they were good for you or because you "should" but not desiring or expecting a relationship with them that includes good feelings. Crazy! Our relationship with God is not just about good biblical theology although that is essential for a true relationship with God. I see that as our foundation to experience a fulfilling relationship with God. Religion without relationship is just legalism - and the Law kills. The Holy Spirit living within us brings life - life comes through relationship. Think of life in any other area of your life - with your family, work, ministry - none of that is lived in a vacuum and without relationship. And the more intimacy you have in those areas, the more fulfilling those relationships they are. Same with God, don't you think? And yes, good feelings are the results of a good relationship! Not that they are the goal or the focus - the growing relationship is the focus but that certainly does not exempt us from experiencing God in an intimate way (which includes feelings.)

Do we shy away from feeling feelings with God because we are afraid? What if I try and don't experience Him? What if He doesn't give me that "gift"? Sounds like the enemy's strategy to get us to lose hope and chose a lesser thing than God desires for us with Him. How do I know this is what He desires? He says so, over and over, in His Word.
Here are just a few verses that come to mind:

Romans 8:32 If I gave up My Son to have relationship with you, how will I not freely give you all things?

Ephesians 3:19-20 I ask you'll take in the extravagent dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God God can do anything you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!
(How can you take in God's love without feelings being involved?)

Zephaniah 3:17: God delights in us! (How can you delight in someone and NOT want them to experience you?)

Romans 8:38-39 Nothing separates us from God's love.

Just look at Jesus with His disciples. Was it purely a "theological, here's the facts about me, now believe" kind of relationship? Or did Jesus love them in tangible ways that included feelings and they loved Him in return? I John 4:10 says that God loved us first so we could love him back, and love others- that sounds like a whole lot of "feelings" involved in this process.

So look to see what your personal hestitation is about experiencing feelings for God and from God and then see how that lines up with scripture and God's intent toward you. His intentions toward you are deeply good, more so than you could dream or imagine!!!!

Friday, March 05, 2010

17 Ways to Stay Ultra-Positive


17 Ways to Stay Ultra-Positive by Tommy Newberry

Difficult, trying times reveal just how positive you really are. Think about it.

What’s the virtue in being positive when you’re on a roll, when everything is clicking for you and falling your way?

Your potential for business excellence, excellence in your marriage, and excellence in your family life demands that you master the skill of staying U.P. (Ultra-Positive) even when–and especially when–everyone else isn’t. There is a tendency in tough times to zero in on the things that are “out of whack” and forget about all that is working in our lives and in our country.

When you’re Ultra-Positive, you’ll be more creative, productive, energetic, attractive, and most importantly, receptive to God’s will. Here are seventeen practical options to build your momentum. Pick your favorites and get started today. Then spread the joy to others.

1. Make the Decision to Stay U.P.

Nothing of consequence happens until you promise yourself that you’ll become the most positive person you know, even in light of challenging circumstances. Raise your standards! Become an inspiration to others. Everything else flows from this key decision to separate yourself from the herd mentality, from the vast majority who blame, whine, gossip, and predict the sky is falling. Life is short. Refuse to buy into this mass hypnotism…Take a stand, starting now.

2. Start U.P. then end U.P. every day.

One of the simplest ways to reduce stress and anxiety is to begin and end each day with what I call Positive Mental Nutrition™. Feed your mind with inspirational ideas, spiritual truth, or motivational nuggets for ten to fifteen minutes immediately upon awakening each morning and right before drifting to sleep each evening. During these two time periods, your mind is extremely susceptible to programming, so make sure your inputs are positive, healthy, and goal-directed. Read, visualize, affirm, pray, and rewrite your goals…and practice feeling thankful for what you do have!

3. Summarize Each Day’s Victories, Large or Small, in Writing.

This one practice alone can zap fear and generate quantum leaps in self-confidence. Start logging your accomplishments each evening in a notebook, hardbound journal, or on your computer. What a great, 4:8 habit!

4. U.P. your Physical Exercise

Another pillar of Ultra-Positive living is consistent, moderate exercise. This includes aerobic work to burn fat and improve heart health; weight work to tone and strengthen your muscles and elevate metabolism; and flexibility work to stay loose and limber. Exercise more. Exercise a lot more! Face the facts. When you’re in terrific shape and feel better about yourself, you feel better about your life and more optimistic about your future. You’re positioned to live U.P. to your full potential.

5. Break U.P. the Big Four

Negative thinking leads to negative emotions, which in turn trigger more negative thinking. The vicious cycle becomes engaged. The top four negative emotions include fear, worry, blame, and guilt. These terrorize your potential and immobilize your efforts toward becoming Ultra-Positive. When you begin experiencing results you didn’t want or expect, it’s easy to get scared and start thinking more about potential losses than potential gains. This mind-set triggers worry or what I call reverse goal setting, where you vividly imagine what you don’t want. To transfer the burden of worry, you will often blame someone or something outside of yourself. Alternatively, you may exaggerate your role in the negative events and experience guilt. Consider negative emotions to be lies from the enemy. Deal with them directly by refusing to entertain the thoughts that fuel them. This is a point very much worth reinforcing: Invest your time thinking about what you want instead of what you don’t want.

6. Forgive Someone, Including Yourself, Daily

Harboring grudges and hostility against anyone, including yourself, tends to attract more circumstances to be upset about. Practice forgiving somebody every day for real or imagined transgressions. The better you become at forgiveness, the more positive you can become as a human being. If you skip this one, I’ll even forgive you.
7. Quarantine Negativity if You Can’t Dissolve It

Carve out a particular time and place to worry (worry time) and to complain (issue time) each week. This is extremely effective because then the rest of your week isn’t diluted with the minority of negative circumstances that can infect otherwise healthy days. When you cut the spontaneity out of negativity, you severely weaken it.

8. Focus on God. He’s U.P.

Remind yourself of everything you know to be true about God. God is all-powerful. God is love. God is sovereign. God is always with us. God is absolute truth. God never changes. And so on. Thinking about God is good, really good! And the bigger you make God, the smaller your problems become.

9. Schedule Four-Minute Positive Injections Every Two Hours

Think of these as Positive Pit Stops. Review your goals or mission. Practice affirmation or visualization. Pray. Read the Bible. Relive a positive memory. Write a thank-you card or send an e-mail of appreciation to someone important. Ask 4:8 Questions. (See page 33 in that smiley face book)

10. Simplify and Declutter to stay U.P.

Complexity is negative. Simplicity is positive. Room by room, drawer by drawer, try tossing one tiny item of clutter every day for thirty consecutive days. My 1% clients love this one and so will you, because doing even a small task will help you to feel more positive. Break your jumbo-sized goals into sub-goals and milestones, and then splinter them into even smaller pieces if necessary to spur you into action. Renegotiate or downsize existing commitments to lighten your load a bit for the next thirty days.

11. Get to Bed Sixty Minutes Earlier for Ten Straight Days

Fatigue, especially chronic fatigue, invites negativity and cowardly thinking. During periods of intense or prolonged stress, extra sleep will help your brain remain an ally in the war against mediocrity. Cut something out of the evening schedule (maybe the bad news) and drift to sleep with visions of victories dancing in your head. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.

12. Take a Twenty-Four-Hour Mental Fast

Become Ultra-Positive one day at a time. You can rid your attitude of toxic thoughts through the practice of mental fasting. Read and reread The 4:8 Principle if you want to master this simple, relevant, powerful and biblically-based mental technique. During your fast, abstain from all complaining, fear-mongering, criticizing, excuse-making, gossiping, and worrying whatsoever! Start with a twenty-four minute fast and gradually discipline your mind to repel all negativity for a whole day. Focus on progress. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

13. Stay U.P. and Watch Your Favorite Funny Movies

Laughter is fabulously positive. Research indicates that people who laugh more actually have more fun. Isn’t that surprising? Consider building your own comedy library on DVD. Save funny movies on TIVO. Watch often. You’ll stay healthier, more creative, and less stressed–and that’s a great alternative to the medicine cabinet.

14. Have a Counter-Attack Plan U.P. and Ready

Become hypersensitive to your thought life. Since you can be negative only when you’re thinking “8:4 thoughts,” you can quickly become positive by thinking “4:8 thoughts.” This is called the Principle of Substitution. The split-second you notice any negative thought running through your mind, replace it emphatically with something like, “I am responsible” or “I trust God” “God is with me” “This is temporary” or “I can do it.” Repeat, repeat, repeat! Be ready with your comeback before the heat of the moment. Make negative, limiting thoughts unwelcome in your mind.

15. Re-Engage an Old Hobby to Stay U.P.

Involve yourself in a positive activity that used to be important to you but may have gotten squeezed out of your life due to other priorities. This will be both therapeutic and rejuvenating. Consider it a gift to yourself.

16. Intentionally Cultivate Ultra-Positive Company

This one is mandatory. It’s next to impossible to become or stay U.P. when the people you live and work with are petty, “8:4 thinkers.” Nothing equals the influence of your habitual associations. Especially now, be purposeful about which people are close to you on a regular basis. The people you hang out with influence your outlook on life. As you become more optimistic, you will attract more optimistic people in your life, and that’s good.

17. Help Someone Else U.P.

Donate your money. Donate your time. Volunteer. Simply serve someone less fortunate (and there are a billion or so to choose from) or contribute your talents and gifts to a worthy organization. Helping those who need help reduces self-centeredness and puts your own challenges into a much more positive perspective.

The key to staying U.P. is to remember that every situation can indeed be positive when you view it through the lens of Philippians 4:8, as an opportunity for spiritual growth, character refinement and the redistribution of joy.