From suffering to enlightenment

From suffering to enlightenment

Weather Report From Heaven: Sunny and bright, with an abundance of light and lots of singing and rejoicing.

Bible Verse of the Day: ” Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:17

Let’s face, life is often filled with painful experiences. Whether it is a sudden loss of a loved one, a job, a house or other earthly possessions, a painful divorce, or a bad diagnosis from the Doctor. At these moments, thanking God or being thankful in general can be the furthest thing from our minds. But although pain in this broken world is inevitable, misery is optional. We don’t have to choose to be miserable despite our pain. When bad things happen to us, we naturally often fall into a place of despair and separation from God can easily take place. We may even feel like blaming God when things are going against us in our lives. But we must remember that there is always a purpose in our various trials, and ultimately they are opportunities to draw closer to God, rather than running away from Him. In the book “In A Pit With A Lion on A Snowy Day”, the Author, Mark Batterson, reminds us that when we face trials, how we respond is critical to how much we grow through our trials. He says it is imperative that when facing adversity, that we stop focusing on what is wrong with us, and instead we focus on what is right with God.

God is good always and wants what is best for us. Sometimes we have a hard time letting go of our independence and trusting in our dependence upon him, especially in tough times or difficult trials in our life. But our ability to be filled with gratitude even during our suffering is the gateway to our greater dependence upon Him in all areas of our life and can ultimately lead to living a less stressful life as we gain the deeper knowledge of who is really in control. Ever since Eve reached for the fruit in the Garden, we have been reaching for our independence from God. Sometimes God uses trials and hardships to shake us enough that we realize that our ways are not the best ways. Only through letting go and letting God transform us during our trials can we begin to reach the enlightenment that we seek. When we recognize His ability to transform our suffering into something beautiful on the other side is when we can begin to praise Him no matter what, even during those painful periods. Clergyman Henry Ward Beecher said “A humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow.” Being humbled can be a very good thing if we allow our low position to make us aware of God’s high position and the gap that exists between our thoughts and ways and His, as Isaiah tells us in 55:8-9. When we focus on the length God went to to save us from the depths of our sin, and realize how much His only begotten Son suffered so that we could have eternal life, then our momentary, light affliction ( 2 Cor 4:17 ) can be truly transformational, and we can learn to give thanks far more easily. The Irish writer G.K. Chesterton said in his book ” Irish Impressions”, that the “critical thing in life is whether you take things for granted or with gratitude.”  I believe one of the lessons God has been teaching me over the last few years was to be more grateful for the blessings in my life, and not to take things for granted. It has opened my eyes to my need to have more compassion for others who are struggling and to be more dependent on God. If I become more grateful, I will naturally become more loving and compassionate, and in the process I will become more like Jesus wants me to be.

Giving thanks in hard times can be tough, but going through tough times without God is impossible. We need to trust in His plan to turn our suffering into enlightenment. If in God’s love the big purpose of all of our various trials is to draw us closer to Him, than they are not really trials at all, but rather enlightening experiences to the truth about how much we are dependent upon Him and how great His love for us was expressed through sufferings of Christ Jesus. At that point, we may be amazed at how easy giving thanks becomes, even in the midst of our suffering.

Networking 101

Networking 101

Weather Report From Heaven: Sunny and bright, with an abundance of light and lots of singing and rejoicing.

Bible verse of the Day: Mark 3:13-14 “Jesus went up to a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve-designating them apostles- that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.”

Jesus was the best net-worker that ever lived. There, I said it. No i-phone, no laptop, no fax machine, no Nike’s, no car, no planes. Just the most perfectly executed networking strategy in history. Take 12 ragtag guys, mostly uneducated fisherman and despised tax collectors, and tell them that they are the plan. In their hands the Gospel lies. Their job? Nothing less than to ensure that the gospel is heard throughout the world. They are to spread the good news of Christ’s coming, His death and resurrection, and the eternal implications of that for all of humanity.TALK  ABOUT PRESSURE! No last minute drive to win the Super Bowl or playing golf for $5 a hole with only $2 in your pocket can even shake a stick at this amount of pressure. But here we are over 2,000 years later and the gospel is still being preached in Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. How did Jesus know that His plan would work and why did he chose to carry it out this way? Couldn’t He have done a better job if He just handled it himself? After all, we are imperfect human beings, prone to errors in judgement and weak in character, and He is God in the flesh. The fact that Jesus choose 12 guys to carry the gospel message reveals some deep and interesting things about Him; He understood math and the compounding of numbers. He values a relationship with us more than we could ever imagine. He is a great delegator, communicator, role model and coach. He knew that for the Kingdom to grow, that we must personally grow in our faith and as a result, be involved in helping the Kingdom to grow. Finally, Jesus knew that this wasn’t a sprint but a marathon.

He spent three solid years with the disciples teaching, rebuking, preparing and motivating them for the task at hand. He imparted wisdom from His Father unto them, but they didn’t get it. He was patient with them. He understood their human proclivity to doubt, whine and betray. He never stopped investing in them. As a matter of fact, He took great joy in investing in them. His love always trumped His frustration. Thank God that is still  true for you and for me. He must often shake his head at my stubbornness, silliness and stupidity. But He never leaves or forsakes me or you. When we fall down, he picks us up, dusts us off and gets us back in the game. No condemnation.  He is willing to invest in us as along as it takes for us to get our act together. Sometimes that takes awhile. To him, it is always worth it. Each soul a precious treasure to be redeemed. I am humbled at the thought of His amazing grace, unfailing mercy and incomprehensible love. I pray that one day it will truly sink in and I will burst forth with an energy and freedom that I have never imagined. All fears set aside, truly embracing the truth and power of Romans 8:31  “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”  We are His hands and feet. Despite our own sin, weakness and brokenness, we are the plan. There is no plan B.  His joy is in including us in His great work of spreading the gospel. The foundation was laid so solidly, that there is nothing in the world that can keep it from its destination and it climactic resolution. Billions of souls throughout history will attest to it: Jesus is the greatest networker that ever lived. Hallelujah!

Be real

It is ok to admit you are not ok.  It is ok to admit you need help. What is denied cannot be healed. Jesus is waiting to reveal His great love to you.

Notice

The beauty of God’s creation is crying out all around you. Are you too busy to notice? Take time to find something beautiful in the mundane today.

Welcome to EternalSouls.net!

EternalSouls.net is an interactive forum about how God is working in our lives to bring about love, hope, change and transformation. In the time that we have on this earth our significance will be defined not by our successes, but rather by our faith, relationships, integrity and character. We need to shine light into the darkness with the way we live our lives, making a difference in our families, workplaces, communities and world.

Bold as a Lion

Bold as a Lion

Weather Report From Heaven: Sunny and bright, with an abundance of light and lots of singing and rejoicing.

Bible verse of the day: Joshua 1:9 ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to perform a task in spite of it. Courage is just our fears that have said their prayers. We live in days when it is easy to be fearful. If we turn our attention to the news for very long, we are sure to be terrified at all the horrific events taking place in the world on any given day. That is why it is so important we yoke ourselves to the promises of God in the scripture above to be strong and courageous, or in Hebrews 13:5 that He is always with us and “he will never leave or forsake us.” It is normal to feel fear. Even the most well trained military members of the Navy Seals or Delta Force talk of the fears they have before a risky mission. The difference between them and many others who would succumb to the pressures of their life threatening mission is they have trained themselves to be able to function at the highest levels of combat in spite of their fears. I have read of many accounts of our top military elites that they learned to overcome their fears, in many instances through faith or their belief that their God goes before them into the battle.

Similar fearlessness was seen in David, while still a Shepard boy when he took on the giant Goliath. A seemingly huge mismatch on paper, but David didn’t see the battle as his own but as God’s. In 1st Samuel 17:45 we read of David’s resolve and reliance not on himself or his power but on God “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled.” Just reading that gets me fired up! David believed deep down in his heart that with God on his side, he couldn’t lose. That is the very definition of faith. In verse 48, we see that faith spring into action when it says ” and David ran to the battle line.” Where did that courage come from? David had been cultivating his relationship with God for a long time and God had been developing courage in him for the exact time when it would need to be unleashed to bring Him all the glory in one of the greatest upsets in recorded military history. David had been through many trials and pit experiences in his preparation. He hadn’t always had his prayers answered the way he wanted. He didn’t realize what God was up to when he asked God to protect his sheep from the Lions and Bears in the wilderness, but God hadn’t. Instead God had a bigger plan in mind, and was preparing David for his big day by honing his sling shot skills to ward of the predators that threatened his flocks. That is the thing. God is always using our experiences to prepare us for the next big thing he has in store for us. Sometimes he has to take us into a place of a deep valley, where we are humbled, so that we can learn to rely solely on His strength and not on our own. Then, when the odds are stacked against us the most, He will often use us in the most unimaginable ways, to glorify Himself and the watching world has to take notice. Our faith cannot be circumstantial. Learning to praise Him through the valleys will prepare us to glorify Him through our triumphs.

Our outlook on life will most likely play a major factor in the outcome of our life. We must learn to be courageous and bold even when things are not in our favor or when the odds are stacked against us. Not in our own strength, but in the power of God and by us being aware of how weak we are, but how strong He is. Two things must happen for this power to made available to us: We must decrease, so he can increase ( John 3:30 ) and we must spend time in close proximity to the Lord to feel His strength indwell in us ( Psalm 28:7 ” The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.) No one goes through this life without facing many battles, and we must have the right outlook and approach to make it to the finish line or we will get destroyed. So many people crumble when adversity strikes. But it is not how many times you get knocked down that matters, it is how many times you get back up. It is not what happens to you, it is how you react to what happens to you. Does adversity make you stronger and build character in you? Or does it make you weaker and less confident in yourself? Both are normal responses, but only one will help you live a victorious life. Things happen to all of us, but our responses are up to us. Sickness can make you appreciate health. Poverty can help you appreciate wealth. Failure can help you appreciate success. Bad times can help us enjoy the good times. The one thing we get to control is our attitude and our responses to what life brings us. Be bold and very courageous, knowing that if you spend time with God, He will sustain you when you need Him most.


Time Spent 4-15-16

Weather Report From Heaven: Sunny and bright, with an abundance of light and lots of singing and rejoicing.

Bible Verse of the Day: Luke 10:41-42 “Martha, Martha the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed, or indeed only one thing. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

The story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42 is a fascinating illustration of how easily we get things out of order in our relationship with Jesus. Jesus was coming to visit Martha’s home, quite an honor. Martha was probably stressed beyond belief trying to get everything prepared. What would she make for dinner for the King of Kings? She had to get her house in order, clean up and get herself dressed for the occasion. She was probably frantic with excitement and stressed to her max. Her sister Mary on the other hand was focused on simply being in the presence of the Lord as he entered the house. She had no agenda but to sit by the Lord’s side and listen and learn from him. She was not distracted by anything or anyone, but she cast all her cares aside to simply be in his glorious presence. Martha was mad and said to Jesus Why don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me! (Luke10:40) Jesus’s reply in Luke 10:41-42 must have stung. Martha, you are missing the whole point. While what you are doing is good, what Mary is doing is even better and will not be taken from her.

Martha was most likely distraught and thought to herself what are you talking about Jesus? I am over hearing preparing everything and my sister is not helping at all. She was missing the whole point. Spending time with Jesus was the most important thing Martha could have done, and Jesus pointed this out to her that Mary had chosen what was best. So this begs the question, am I more likely to be Martha or Mary in this story? If I am being honest, I am often distracted by doing things that I feel are good and necessary, but sometimes at the expense of doing what is truly needed, which is just spending time alone in the presence of my Lord and Savior and letting him speak to me and teach me.

Jesus is teaching all of us not to prioritize anything over spending time with him. It should be our first priority every day when we wake up and when we go to bed. But we get distracted so easily in this age of instantaneous dissemination of information. We are more apt to turn to our mobile device for an answer we seek than to spend time in the Lord’s presence. In the Lord’s presence we find things that no electronic device can give us. That is where we find grace, healing, strength, forgiveness, wisdom, patience, suffering, redemption and deep peace and contentment. So why don’t we turn to Him more often? The virtuous circle that ensues when we seek and discipline ourselves to spend time in His presence should be the carrot that leads us to choosing Him over any other activity, as Mary did to the consternation of Martha.

What distractions do we allow to hinder our alone time with Jesus? Well for me, the list includes things such as sports, news, popularity, other’s opinions, worries, money, distracted thoughts and feelings, impatience and lack of discipline. I am sure there are others, but that is a pretty good start right there. If you could sum these up in one word it would be distractions. But also in the culture we live in today, the word is busyness. The enemy uses busyness, in conjunction with our pride, to keep us from spending alone time with our Savior. The enemy fears the transformation that occurs in this intimate relationship where the power of the Holy Spirit can be unleashed to speak clearly into the minds and hearts of believers more than anything. Intimate prayer is something he has no answer for, so his goal is to deceive, distract and destroy us.Through our pride that what we, like Martha, are doing what is good. Through our busyness that we are distracted. Finally, through our lack of time spent learning wisdom from Jesus we are vulnerable enough to be destroyed. This is the subtle plan of a cunning and viscous enemy who whether we acknowledge it or not, seeks to destroy us.

So the anecdote for the enemy’s plan is simply to have the discipline and courage to spend time in prayer and intimacy in Jesus’s presence. That is where we are safest and where we feel the power of His Holy Spirit in our lives. Much like Mary, we must de-clutter and rid our mind of distractions. We must decompress, find space, create time and prioritize Him as our top priority. Temptation, greed, pride, self-importance, power, supremacy, covetousness will be used by the enemy to distract us. Our free time should he filled with him, not useless garbage on the internet, our trying to feel good about ourselves by having lots of likes on Facebook.

It takes discipline and time spent to get the huge benefits that come when we, like Mary, prioritize just spending alone time in His presence. He restores our souls, helps us see areas in our lives in need of repentance, which leads to greater freedom, let’s his light and love shine through us, and gives us new perspective and strength to continue our journey’s. So while what Martha was doing was good, what Mary was doing, was far better. The choice is ours to be more like Mary than Martha with every decision we make on how to spend out time. We can spend our time on tasks, like Martha, that seem important to us, or we can invest our time like Mary, at the Lord’s feet, learning all wisdom that will guide our paths into eternity.

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