Category Archives: peace

Perspective Versus Perception

CatAndMirror111 Perception

Have you ever felt like you really had nothing to offer? Everyone around you seems to be rocking their world and you can’t even rock your way into a better job or any job, a better car, or a nicer place to live.

You say to yourself, “This is just my lot in life and I just have to learn to live with it. For many, to many, years this was my perspective on life.

I would tell myself there are the haves and the have-nots and that is just the way life is. I saw myself as unimportant in the grand scheme of life. Having an average appearance with straight brown hair, light brown eyes,  painfully shy and insecure, nope, nothing exceptional about me.

Living in a dysfunctional family, in a rented house, wearing outdated clothes from Sally’s Boutique and riding in an old beat up car. I wasn’t exactly a sought after individual by my peers. Oh I made a few friends and did fair in school but there were no extra curricular activities (ECAs) other than chorus for a year in Jr high (I think it was required?). So I found my own ECA’s. with others in my own league, the-down-and-outers league. (Not a reflection on the person of my friends, just my perception of where we all were in life at the time.) One thing I did like was dancing and was told I was pretty good at it by many. I had a brief glimmer of hope that I might become a professional choreographer, but alas, I was told later in my teen years that my legs were to short to be a professional dancer. Chalk it off as another flaw!

My perception through all of these experiences was that I didn’t have anything of value to offer therefore could expect little in the way of return or success. This brought about years of just settling for less than God’s best. And also became a good excuse for not trying to do better. Yup, that’s where it takes you!

You see our perception, how we see ourselves and our abilities, has a definite effect on our perspective, the outcome that we expect. And the outcome we expect will, more than likely be the outcome we get.

If we perceive ourselves as victims, we will expect to be a victimized by others so we don’t trust.

If I perceive ourselves as  failures we don’t expect to succeed therefore we don’t try.

If we perceive there is no way out of a relationship, a financial crisis, or a struggle with self control  in some area then we expect nothing will change and we give up, we lose hope.

a different perspective

In the Bible we see a perfect example of how perspective affects perception and visa-versa. God promised Abraham that He would give his offspring the land of Canaan in Genesis 12:7, 17:1-8 and again reminded Moses and the Israelites of His promise in Exodus 3:7-8.

But when the time came to prepare to enter the promised land the twelve members of the reconnaissance team, sent out by Moses to scope out the land, came back with conflicting recommendations. Oh, they all agreed it was, for sure, a land that “flowed with milk and honey” and they even brought back a sample of the beautiful fruit that was there. But ten of the twelve quickly followed up with, “However  (a fancier word for but), the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large…….we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” God said He would give them the land but they let fear take control and keep them from claiming the promise.

Yet two of the twelve were ready to take the giants on! These two, Joshua and Caleb, saw their God as much bigger than those they saw in the land, God said that He was going to give them the land and they believed He would do just that. Most will remember the name of the two, but who remembers the name of the other ten?

The difference in the two reports was not accuracy in what all twelve saw but in their perception of how they saw it in light of their own understanding. The two believing their God could and would keep His promise trusted Him with the difficulties they might face. The ten could only see defeat, forgetting God’s promises.

The good news is that our perspective in turn can also change our perception and a changed perception and perspective can change our life, our world! When we can look at Scripture and study it we begin to see how God sees us and that is a real game changer!

We see that God sees potential in us and we begin to believe things can change.

We understand “in the world we will have trouble” but also are promised that God has overcome the world and will be with us. If we believe we can have courage to change.

We begin to see in, hind-site, how God has been working behind the scenes in our lives and can believe His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us and we can know He will pick us up when we fall. (Hebrews 13:5-6)

We can even believe that we “can do all things through Christ who is our strength”, so we step out in faith and try. (Philippians 4:23)

If we perceive God is good, and He is, and we believe He keeps His promises, and He does, then we can have faith and believe that He will. For we know that God can do all things; no plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2).

“For nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)

Yes, we remember the rejection and pain we have experienced at the hands of others or as a result of our own choices in life, but we can believe God loves us, forgives us and promises to restores us, and He does.

Steven Furtick writes in his book: Crash the Chatterbox – Hearing God’s Voice Above All the Others: “The Enemy can’t do a thing to diminish God’s promises – that ability is decidedly beyond the limits of his power. So instead he lures you into places where your perspective of God’s promises will be diminished.”

For Adam and Eve it was near a the tree of life, the very tree God had forbidden them to eat from.  (It’s never a good idea to get that close to forbidden fruit!) Genesis 3:1-7

For the ten spies it was a land of giants. (There are giants in every land.) (Numbers 13:31-33)

For  Elijah it was seclusion in a cave. (We can’t hide from God)(1 Kings 19:1-14)

Where has he been luring you? Has the Enemy taken you places in your own head or heart that are altering your perception of who God is and who you are in Him?

Are you close to forbidden fruit, fearing the giants, or hiding from God in seclusion?

Go to the quiet place and listen for God’s voice. Read His Word and search out His promises. Read about how much He loves you and longs to help you become all He has for you to be. Tell him about your fears, insecurities, anxieties.

He is waiting for you, even pursuing you. In all these things He is able to bring you into a better place, for your good and His glory!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under character study, faith stages, forgiveness, peace, Promises, self-examination, Weary encouragement hope

Looking For A Leader

Hard questions

Over the last year young and old of every race and every religion have been looking for a leader. This past years election cycle will probably go down in history as the most unusual election cycle in our nation.

The election is over now but as I think about all the different opinions I see that everyone is really looking for the same thing.

We are looking for a leader who is radically different.

A leader who will:

* stand up to the establishment

* Look out for the needs of the masses as well as the individual and provide for those needs.

* Put the needs of others ahead of their own comfort

* Give all people real hope and change for a better future

* Provide a resting place where people can feel safe and secure

* Provide justice and mercy, fairness and forgiveness

We all want a someone with a proven track record in all of the above. Someone whose plans, when followed, never failed.

Sounds impossible but that leader we are looking for has been right in front of us for over 2000 years. The most radical leader of all time, who has never been equaled – not even close. It is Jesus Christ!

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”                                                                                                                                                                 John 1:1

He is not an establishment figure

His message was and still is definitely one of hope and change

He never wavers in the truth and exposes the lies

He knows our every need and has the ability to meet every need and His resources are unlimited

His desire is to reach out to and meet the needs of every person of every race, gender and nation

He is always just and fair

He has a purpose and plan for every life and there are multitudes who have followed Him and give testimony to the details and outcomes of the plans in real-time for years.

His “super pack” was twelve men who spoke truth, His truth. They served and took care of others ahead of their own needs. They defended the weak, widowed and orphans. This super pack stood firm in their faith and in the truth even where there was personal insult and injury, standing up against the establishment for what was right and what was truth.

We have a new president-elect now who will soon take over to lead our country and we should be praying for him as he leads. Things are still somewhat unsettled and probably will continue to be even into the next election. It will always be that way with men!

But no matter what our political views are, with God we can always have that hope and change we long for. Christ is the Leader of leaders, the King of kings. Christ alone can bring us the peace we need in this crazy world we live in if we will follow Him.

He is the only leader I  know with the perfect resume.

Why not follow the Leader!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When The Path Is Unclear

 

cliff overhang

I generally don’t give much sway to my dreams however I woke one morning, not long ago, troubled by a dream in which I was walking on a path along a pleasant, sandy shoreline when gradually, the path began to narrow then suddenly it disappeared. As I looked around there was water as far as I could see on my right and in front of me it snuggled up close to the towering cliff on my left. My claustrophobia kicked in and  I began to feel very anxious.

I turned quickly to take the path back however it had become narrow as well and the cliff now was stretching out over the water.The path had also become rocky and difficult to navigate.

The obstacles in front of me seemed insurmountable and I feared going forward.  The narrow, rocky path going back was very difficult at  best.  My fear of water and heights kept me from going forward and my fear of the pain and difficulty I might experience on the path behind me kept me from going back. I felt trapped. Anxiety became all out panic and I woke with a start.

I was grateful to be awake and realize it was only a dream but later as I began my morning routine I still felt restless and even a little anxious. I couldn’t get the dream out of my head.

In preparation for my morning devotions my thoughts drifted back to the path in the dream. I suddenly realized how similar it was to the path I was on in my life lately. The anxiety and panic in the dream was similar to what I had been feeling all to often these days.

My husband and I had been sensing God’s call for us to relocate to Macon, Georgia to serve for a year at Hephzibah Children’s Home and to be part of a new church plant in Macon. We had worked at the children’s home for years but only for a couple of weeks each year. This time it would be for a year.

We had already begun preparations two years before because God impressed on us that a change was coming and we needed to get out of debt. We sold our home and found a rental house. We paid off our credit cards and did some major downsizing. We signed a lease for one year on the rental feeling we would have time to pray about what God had in mind for us. During that year God made it clear that we were to go to Macon. Though I wanted to go and was excited about the possibility of being part of these ministries the thought of being so far from family, especially our grandchildren, had kept me from making the commitment and taking those final steps of faith I needed to take.

The year was up, the lease was up and it was decision time! Taking the path forward would mean leaving our family and friends and most of our belongings 950 miles behind not knowing for sure what all would be waiting for us in Georgia or what would happen at the end of that year. But to stay would mean taking a painful path back of starting over from scratch.  I knew I would always wonder what could have happened if we had gone.

In the dream I had focused on the obstacles and fear kept me from going in either direction. I began to understand that I had to look past the obstacles and move forward, trusting God for whatever lie ahead. I also  realized that to refuse and turn back would be to live in fear of moving forward as well as to live in defeat. As I looked past what I saw as obstacles on the path it became clear. I had waited on God for direction, He had given me confirmation and now He had made it clear that I should take the next step in moving forward. God would give me a place to put my foot now and for the next step after that when I needed it. I needed only to stayed focused on Him.

We have been in Georgia for almost four months now and we certainly miss our family, but  are in contact with them regularly. God has blessed us to be able to go home for a visit already and we will also be able to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and return to finish our year commitment after the holidays. The blessings we receive as we serve the Children’s Home and the Church are more than we could have imagined.

None of the things I feared came to pass. We haven’t missed a thing we sold or left behind, except our kids of course! 🙂  And we are actually planning on down-sizing even more in the future when we return home.

Yes, there was so much more beyond the end of the path that was visible!

What path are you on?

What obstacle do you see that keep you from moving forward?

What struggle would you face by going back or not moving at all?

Look up my friend! Look up!

God is ready and waiting to clear the path for you to take that next important step that will put you in the center of His will.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”              Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Dreams, faith stages, Family, peace, Promises, self-examination

Overcome Or Overcomer?

imagesHKV220ZD

Oh, what a difference one letter in a word can make! And even when a word is spelled the same it can have a totally different meaning depending on the context in which it is written or spoken.

In the storms of this life there are times I feel overcome with anxiety, worry and fear and what I have learned, after many years of experience in this field, is that how I handle the situation will determine whether I let the negative emotions overtake me or overcome the negative to embrace the peace that is available to me in and through the “overcomer”, Christ Jesus.

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?

God specialises in things thought impossible

He does the things others cannot do. (original chorus written by Oscar C. Eliason)

Lean in on the one who is the Overcomer. His promise is to give you peace, even in the midst of the storm!

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Where’s Your Trigger Set?

As the wife of a Master Gunsmith I have found there is much to learn about life from the care and repair of firearms and their ability to help or harm. My husband is retired now but still does some “trigger work” every year for a couple of long time customers. These customers keep coming back because they want someone with experience and the right tools needed to keep the trigger settings within a legal and safe margin.

If the trigger pull is to light (to touchy) the gun can go off prematurely without warning, randomly hitting whatever is in its path. If the trigger pull is to heavy (harder to pull) there is a tendency to pull away from your target and hit what is not intended, missing the mark completely. Adjustments are made by filing and/or adjusting tensions to get just the right trigger set point. Each firearm may have a different set point when it comes from the manufacturer that is within what is considered to be the legal and safe range. Set points may need to be changed in order to accommodate an individuals stature, strength, and the purpose for which the firearm is used, always keeping in mind the legal and safe range.

Just as a trigger on a firearm can be dangerous if it isn’t evaluated and adjusted from time to time, in order to respond appropriately to the pressure being exerted on it, we too have a point where situations, circumstances, and others can “trip our trigger” (pun intended). Where our trigger is set can make the difference in whether or not we miss or hit our mark, whether we harm or help as we fire off our response.

The place we see this analogy play out most often today is in the realm of  social media. With the rapidly increasing social media available, every thought, opinion, and challenge is out there for all to respond to and with many of the opinions and responses having little or no filter. Because there is no personal contact, personal responsibility or immediate repercussions to the response or comment posted, the comments are often shot from the hip. When an opinion or comment hits a nerve we are often quick to fire off our own responses and/or comments, defending or rebuking without any thought that they may consequently ricochet and harm an innocent bystander. But on the other hand we may delay our making positive comments or fail to consider not responding at all in order to diffuse a conversation gone rogue.

So where is your trigger set?

Does your trigger need to be reset?

Is it to touchy? Or is there too much delay? Either way you could be missing the mark and end up needing damage control!

Our set points may need to be changed in order to accommodate our individual natures, strengths or weaknesses, and the purpose of our response, always keeping in mind the safe and effective range.

So what are we to do?

How do we find the experience and the right tools to reset our “trigger point”?

Of course a master gunsmith won’t be able to do the job, but on the other hand we have a Master Creator who made us and He knows just where our triggers are set and has given us the tools to adjust them and maintain them at that safe and effective level that will enable us to fulfill His purpose. God has even given us the instruction book, His own word, on keeping that set point in line with His will, His target for building His kingdom here on earth in a positive and effective way. He will guide us, file down our rough spots, and tighten or loosen the tensions to adjust the response time to where it needs to be.

He gives much attention to instructing us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:9) , to have “soundness in our speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:8), and to “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6) These are just a few of our instructions regarding our speech, whether spoken or written.

In the final analysis are we going regularly to the Master to assure our trigger point is set where it needs to be or are we just letting emotions and others determine our set point? Is our aim to be right or to live the righteous life that God desires? Do we want to show how much we know or how much we care, to be grumpy or gracious?

To conclude I leave you with a quote from  King Solomon’s practical words for living in the Proverbs:

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”  Proverbs 25:11

Let your words be like “apples of gold” and you will find the “settings of silver” that the Lord wants to reveal in and through you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Music For the Soul”

This is my story 9 21 14Writing 101

Each piece of music tells a story. Even if there are no lyrics the melody, crescendo and tempo tell a story. The stories may be about an emotion or and experience; about the person writing the music or the person listening to it, one connecting with the other. We all have a story,  more than likely we have many stories. Songs often help us express our experiences in life situations in ways we are not able to otherwise. When I listen to a song that speaks to my soul I find myself saying, “Yes, Yes, that’s my story!”

The three songs most important to me tell the story of my journey from isolation, fear and rejection to forgiveness, peace and joy.

The first song, Amazing Grace by John Newton,  is a well known song among both the secular and Christian communities. The song is well know but, not as well known is the history, the “story”, of the writer.

Newton had a very painful childhood when at age 7 his mother, who had nurtured him in the Christian faith, died. He became bitter and angry and by age 11 boarded a ship to become a sailor.  After years of hard drinking, moral abandon and struggles of many kinds  he became a slave trader.  “I sinned with a high hand,” he later wrote, “and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Finding himself on a ship during a sever storm, that threatened to destroy the ship and those aboard, Newton recalled the teachings of his mother and. believing his life was ending cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness. After finding himself safe at the end of it all he committed his life to Christ. After  his conversion he wrote the words to many hymns and not the least of which was Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

His story, like mine, is that forgiveness and redemption are possible no matter how far one has journeyed into the depth of depravity. It was my story in 1978. I was in the midst of a storm in my soul. I  was in the middle of a spiritual storm of regret and guilt of the past. There was a heaviness of heart and I cried out to the God I heard about as a child. In His grace and mercy, he rescued me and from the storm and lifted a heavy burden of guilt as I committed my life to Him.

The second song, It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford, is another well known song but, again, not many know “the story” of the author of the song.

Spafford’s story is much different than Newton’s, although both their stories took place on a ship. This man had lived out his faith and was blessed with a family and a successful career. However over a period of about 3 years he lost his only son from scarlet fever, his 4 daughters in a ship wreck and his business. Spafford’s wife was spared and not long after losing his 4 daughters while on his way to meet his wife, as he passed over the area where his daughters were lost he wrote this song, his story.

It Is Well With My Soul

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

His words describe in a way I never could my story after my commitment to follow Christ. Life didn’t suddenly get and stay wonderful. There have been many blessings but there have also been many challenges over the past 36 years. Some of those challenges carried heartaches, frustration, pain and anxiety but as I leaned into the one who loved me and changed me it was and still is “well with my soul.”

The third song, I Love To Tell The Story was taken from the second half of a poem written by Arabella Katherine Hankey, daughter of a London banker and set to music by by William G. Fischer, the son of a german immigrant.

Hankey had a place in her heart for the poor and hungry people in the poorest parts of London. She and her father were devout Christians. She organized Sunday School classes through out London and taught each week while also publishing poems, and tracts to hand out in her classes. Her hear for missions prompted her to volunteer to go to Africa as a nurse to assist her invalid brother who was a missionary there.

Fischer had his own story. Because of his love for music he practiced, played and eventually taught music at the university level. And eventually started his own music store, featuring the best made pianos in the world. He built his business up to become one of the most properous piano stores in the country.

Verse 1 I love to tell the story Of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love, I love to tell the story, Because I know ‘ tis true; It satisfies my longings As nothing else can do. Verse 2 I love to tell the story, More wonderful it seems Than all the golden fancies Of all our golden dreams. I love to tell the story, It did so much for me; And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee. Verse 3 I love to tell the story, ‘Tis pleasant to repeat What seems, each time I tell it, More wonderfully sweet, I love to tell the story, For some have never heard The message of salvation From God’s own holy Word. Verse 4 I love to tell the story, For those who know it best Seem hungering and thirsting To hear it like the rest. And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song, “Twill be the old,old story That I have loved so long. REFRAIN: I love to tell the story, ‘Twill be my theme in glory To tell the old,old story of Jesus and His love.

This is my story, about His glory and the wonder of His love!

 

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