Discouraged

Our Perceptions Govern Our Lives

"It is all about how you look at things." Ever hear that expression? We're often advised to think positively, to believe in ourselves and to have faith in God. All of these things speak to our perspective on any life issue. All of these pieces of advice can feel like they're easier to say than be lived, right?

When I was a little girl, living on the farm, come late summer and early autumn, our farmstead was besieged with grasshoppers. I tell you, it was a tiny snapshot of what any locust plague must have looked like. It was hard to walk anywhere without there being a grasshopper right there, almost crunched by my foot.

When Our Beliefs are Called into Question

The Physical, Mental and Spiritual Disciplines

Speaking from experience, Philip Yancey writes, "For nearly everyone, doubt follows pain quickly and surely, like a reflex action. Suffering calls our most basic beliefs about God into question." Suffering often causes us to doubt, to question our beliefs, to wrestle with everything we ever thought we knew about God: about who He is, about what He is up to, about the very nature of His heart. All these doubts and questions can be fertile ground for spiritual growth. Go ahead and out, question, wrestle – just be sure to use this time and out to seek to know him desperately. He will keep your heart open to God so that you can hear the answers to those questions.

How do we keep our hearts open? How do we grow closer to God in our trials, instead of crashing down into bitterness and despair? That is where the physical, mental and spiritual disciplines come in.

The Physical Disciplines

Taking care of our bodies

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

It's the Waiting in Recovery

Recently, I chatted with a young girl I've been mentoring. She's currently in an eating disorder treatment facility- and fighting her treatment. She has flat out refused to eat, drink or take any medication. She's been closely monitored, mainly due to a recent episode in which she swallowed glass.

Yes, you heard me right; she swallowed glass.

I asked her what brought this on and she responded she wanted to feel pain and she was tired of waiting for her recovery. I don't think it has sunken in that recovery is very much a process, not an instant cure.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Nurtured by the Right Question

Wrong questions are the breeding ground of doubt, despair and unbelief. I know; I've asked the wrong questions for almost sixty years. But, in the midst of those questions mercy, grace, atonement and the answer burst its way into my darkened questions. Tell Me Why is the most foreboding of all wrong questions.

Don't miss-hear me; questions are natural and a part of our God given DNA. But: to end up at Why? That wrong question is not a part of the likeness and image of God that we are all endowed with. It is the epitome of our fallen, darkened condition! So, how do we approach these unanswerable questions?

Before there are answers, there is a relationship you must have your heart opened to. There is a knowing that paves the way for sufficient answers. Here it comes! You must know that God's plan is God; revealed in a "baby wrapped in old dirty clothes", a Son of Man, a life lived exemplary for all generations, on a Cross-disfigured and murdered by His own and in an empty tomb. He is not a program, or an impersonal idea.

God Fights for His People

There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel. Joshua 10:14


We don't have to attack and subdue physical cities - which in any care aren't walled today, military technology having changed since Joshua's day. Paul said that "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses" 2 Cor. 10:4, and that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Eph. 6:12 We fight, we struggle, but not against physical enemies. Even when the church faces persecution from human beings, with very real guns, very real prisons, very real torturers, and very real executioners, the very real struggle isn't against those tools of Satan, but against the spiritual wickedness which impels men to act so barbarically.

And we're not in the fight alone. There may be no armed and armored armies beside us, and there may be no massive forces to back us up, but we're not alone. On the contrary, the Lord fights for us.

Simple and Pure Devotion = Nurture

Were you nurtured? Are you presently embracing nurture? Are you a nurturer? Let's define nurture...

    ...to support by way of encouragement, (as one does for another during a period of training or development) ensuring its success

    ...to coach what is the fore seen in another (as with destiny, potential and promising giftedness), calling it forth to completion

    ...to feed or protect one's offspring (as a parent does for a child) until empowered to care for oneself and another


Who among us doesn't need nurture? Who among us doesn't fit somewhere; at any given time, in one of these definitions? Who among us has made it to maturity (in any given area of life) apart from the "nurture" of spiritual parents, mentors and/or friends? Wow! I am blessed with all three!

As the scripture says; The end of all things is near; therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:7-8, NIV emphasis mine. These difficult "end" times call for the Body of Christ to cover each other-not expose or exploit one another's weaknesses.

Are You Taking Advantage of Kingdom Synergy?

Historically, no outpouring of God has lasted very long apart from intentional Kingdom Synergy. What is "synergy?" Synergy happens when two or more entities decide to join their visions for the purpose of an agreed upon outcome. They realize that doing this greatly enhances the outcome they could ever achieve alone.

Many places in the New Testament, believers were instructed to be of one mind and heart. As a matter of fact they were told to do nothing but pray together in the Upper Room until they came into oneness-'Kingdom Synergy'.

After His death, he (Jesus) presented Himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, He talked to them about things concerning the Kingdom of God. As they met and ate meals together He told them they were on no account to leave Jerusalem, but must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon. Acts 1:3-5, Msg.

If you can be patient with me for a moment, I'll share a bit of "Ron's" (loosely held) theology. My experience is my experience. I'm not saying any one has to agree with or mirror mine.

Hold Fast !

Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. Revelation 2:25


Jesus asked, "when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8 Sometimes, as we look around us, we wonder if He will. There are so many - individuals, congregations, denominations - who haven't held fast anything, but have piece by piece or wholesale given away the most precious truths in the universe, exchanging the Word of God for a bowl of weak, watery, unsatisfying something.

Jesus has called us to hold fast what we have. We don't know everything about God's will, His plan, His purpose, or His activity, but what we do know, we are to cling to. We have His Word - I could reach out my hand from my chair right now, and touch or pick up 15 separate copies of the Bible, plus what's on my computer - and we are to hold fast to it. And this isn't merely the physical printed Book. As wonderful as it is to be able to own 15 copies of the Bible (there are places in the world where a single copy, or a single book of the Bible, has to suffice for an entire congregation), it's not enough to own them, or even read and study them. Someone who's drowning in Bibles, yet lets what it says slip through the fingers of his mind as water slips through the fingers of his hands, might as well never have seen a Bible in his life.

Do You Have Tenacious Resolve?

A dear friend and brother gave me a medallion to remind me of "tenacious resolve". It has the words "finish strong" inscribed on it. I keep it in a place where I will see it often. I don't know about you, but I need reminders. God is great about giving us sign-posts and reminders. There are always little, and even big reminders along life's path---they are there to show us that he is still our strongest encourager.

Here is one of my favorite "tenacious resolve" Scriptures:

Therefore, we do not lose heart. So we are not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Msg

We are prone to loosing heart and giving up without this level of regular encouragement. It's bad enough without negative reporters, naysayers, critics, and discouragers. They seem to abound the harder circumstances become. Which am I-a spiritual cheerleader or "frump grump"? Never heard of a "frump grump"? They only prognosticate on how much worse it's going to get.

So, what do we do with all the evidence of things seeming to fall apart around us? First, resolve not to ever give up! It's just not an option. With that "tenacious resolve" you will not lose heart. Once you lose heart-it is easy to become overwhelmed to the point of seeing only the negative and missing all the positive signs around you.

Do You Belong In Bethlehem?

What would Jesus think if I showed up in Bethlehem?
I’ve been trying to spend some time each day during this Christmas season at the nativity scene, wondering about the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of each character. And I found myself wondering how Jesus would respond to the presence of a disabled person in that holy circle.

I’d probably try to stay away. I’d list endless excuses to stay in my own warm, safe environment and let someone else go.

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