Do You Need Some Help?

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Most people want to improve. We are unhappy with some aspect of our life or personality.  We suffer from a host of ills that just need improvement. How can we be a better speaker? How can we be a better father or mother?  How can we become a better writer?  How can we become rich? The list is endless.

According to Kyle Francis, Director of Marketing and Data Analytics at My Peak Plan, Americans spend $10 billion on motivational products every year.  Francis says this:

The problem is that 50% of all traditional motivational books are never read past the first chapter and 90% of motivational books are never finished.  This means that people really want to improve but don’t know where to start or how to finish reaching their goals.

Francis is right. We all want to improve our lives but just don’t know how to do it.  We get stuck looking at how to improve from within.  We are looking for some great strength  inside of us, fooling ourselves to believe that we can really change by ourselves.

But what if there were a way to really change within each of us that involved something bigger than just you and me. Suppose we looked to God for that change.  Rather than looking to a self-help book written by others who probably read self-help books themselves, let’s look to the creator of the universe for help.

The writer of Ephesians (4:22-24) says this:

…throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

A new nature, renewed thoughts and attitudes, created to be like God, throw off your former way of life…there is a powerful message here.  Think about the possibilities for your life.  Don’t look internally for a life change.  You can’t do it by yourself.  Let God be your driving force. Then you will experience a real change from deep within.

 

What Do You Think About? Maybe It’s Time to Take Out the Trash.

Have you watched the news recently and just been depressed when it ended? I was recently looking at the headlines and remembered again why I don’t spend much time there. I sure don’t find many stories that make my life richer.

I really don’t care how much jail time rapper Chris Brown received this week. Although I must confess he is a great reminder that money isn’t everything. Here is a guy worth an estimated quarter of a billion dollars and he can’t get his life together.

I really don’t care about what product Lady Gaga will use for her next dress. Is it raw beef or some other equally appalling product used to gain our attention? And, yes, she did make a dress from raw beef.

I don’t want to know all the details on the latest mass murder that took place somewhere in the world. Knowing every detail won’t make my life happier.

What am I interested in? How about teacher, Julie Bauchman, who arranged a big surprise for one of her students. Mrs. Bauchman’s little kindergartener hadn’t seen her military dad since he was deployed two years ago. Mrs. Bauchman made a wonderful surprise reunion happen.

What about the man in China who every day carries his disabled son 18 miles a day to school and back because he just won’t give up on his son.

Stories like these inspire me and make me say “way to go” to people like Mrs. Bauchman and the dad from China. These folks are making a big difference in the lives of others…even if it is only one person.

Should it surprise us that positive news gives us a lift and negative news makes us depressed? I don’t think so. Let me take you to Philippians 4:8 that says this:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

God knew all along that filling our minds with trash would harm us and He gave us clear instructions on what to think about. Next time you sense trash going into your head, grab your TV remote control and turn it off. Take control of your computer and look at something else. Do what God has commanded and…think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. It will make a huge difference in your life.

 

 

 

Surprise!

It seems as though I am constantly hearing people talk about change.  Folks usually talk about change as though it is some gradual event that we need to just ease into.  Frankly, most changes that I have observed have not been gradual.  The change has come as a surprise.  A frightening diagnosis from the doctor, a spouse who wants a divorce, a death in the family, a child caught in the trap of sin…there is nothing for any of us to just ease into here.  No time to sit back and get ready for it.  One word sums it up…surprise!  So rather than talk about being ready for change, I sometimes wonder if it would be better if we just said what we already know.  Some difficult surprises will come into your life.

Now, how will you react to your surprises?  Will you get angry, depressed, anxious, perhaps even start to question God’s faithfulness?  How many of you will start singing praises to God?  Maybe that one isn’t at the top of your list but let me take you to Acts chapter 16.  Paul and Silas had just cast out a demon from a young girl and suddenly found themselves standing before city officials surrounded by a large crowd. Both men were beaten with wooden rods and then thrown into jail.  Surprise!

The jails in this point in time were horrible places.  A man by the name of Apablaza conducted a study called Conditions of Prisons in the First Century.  Here are some of the things he found about prisons like the one Paul and Silas were in.

  • Prisons were often packed beyond capacity resulting in unbearable heat and dehydration of prisoners.
  • For security reasons the prisons had no windows often resulting in lack of air sometimes at a dangerous level.
  • Most prisons had no light and the psychological impact on prisoners was tremendous.
  • Prisoners were chained by their arms, legs or both.  Each chain weighed about fourteen pounds and the weight would become debilitating.
  • Many of the dead would be piled in a corner of the jail to be taken away at a later time.

Yet, Paul and Silas are sitting in the dark, suffering the pain of a beating, chained, and they were singing hymns to God.  As they are singing God performs a miracle that ultimately releases them from prison.

What are the lessons here?  Surprises are coming.  Don’t ever lose hope in God.  He does have a plan for you.  Whatever you are facing today, trust in God and like Paul and Silas your miracle might be right around the corner.