Walking In Your Wilderness

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Deuteronomy 32:10 says “He found him in a desert, and in a howling waste of a wilderness, He encircled him, He cared for him as the apple of His eye”. What a powerful picture is painted here of God’s concern and care for those who a wandering in a wilderness of life. It matters not if they chose it for themselves, it happened unexpectedly or God Himself actually took them there. The point is, they were in it alone, and in His own time God came to them and cared for them, whether they deserved it or not.

I say the above because there is a time in everyone’s life when they find ourselves totally alone. This is not so much a physical thing, but it’s more of an emotional and spiritual season of isolation. When it finds us, we cannot avoid the impact it has on everything we hold dear. This wandering might last a few weeks, a few months or even longer, but once it arrives, it does not depart until it’s work is done. This isolated plateau of the soul is identified in the Bible as a place called “the wilderness”. We arrive in this place by ourselves, distracted and in an unrefined condition, but rest assured, we will not leave it the same way.

In this empty season no one is there to carry us, guide us or give us the companionship we think we need. Not one person is there at our side, providing step by step instructions to bring us into the new place we need to be. The fact is, every man or woman of God who is destined to fulfill their life calling, has to make this journey. Even those who do not know God, but are hungry to do better, will be taken to this place. The truth is, I believe this trip into the wasteland of our soul, is a necessary part of healthy personal and spiritual growth. As a result, it is my conviction that these times of barrenness should not be avoided, but they should be looked at with clarity, embraced with sincerity and fully walked out.

It is only during our wilderness experience that we are fundamentally changed. Our metal is tested, our character is developed and our flaws are painfully exposed. It can be a powerful time of personal evaluation and transformation. The excess baggage and wrong thinking we have picked up in life are finally thrown off. What is really important and genuinely necessary comes into clear focus, perhaps for the first time. For some, this brings a shocking revelation of how shallow and self-absorbed they really are. For others, it is a grand adventure as they rediscover who they are, and begin to build upon that good foundation to become even better. These are powerful times we enter into alone and unsettled, but emerge focused and quite comfortable in our own skin.

I was just in such a season not long ago. I got back from a powerful ministry trip to the Philippines. Myself and an Apostle did two conferences and ministered at numerous church meetings. When I returned home, my wife then flew off to California to be with our daughter, who was having our 10th grandchild. I was alone in our house, after all that personal attention and activity, surrounded by the “stuff” of our lives. I was totally alone for two weeks, and the impact this had on me was quite deep. It became a time of introspection, where I was able to seek God, ponder my life and consider how I got “here”. I reflected on the family I grew up in, the wilderness seasons I had been through, and the lessons I learned that made me the man I am.

I pondered how my father was a strong presence of security in our home. He made us feel wanted, valued and safe. He was an intelligent, slender, quiet, thoughtful man who spoke very few words, but meant every word he said. He was kind and gentle, filled with internal strength yet tender. He had a will of iron and a backbone that could support it. He was an outdoors-men to the bone and loved the woods, but could still carry his own with any city dweller. His word was his bond. He had a peaceful stability about him that filled our lives, and had the power to make everything alright, even when it wasn’t. On his death bed, his bright blue eyes looked at me with a calm resolve and they were able to reassured me that even this would be fine.

His example, both the good and the bad, served to shape me in ways I am just now discovering. Among other things, he taught me the wholesome value of a strong cup of hot, black tea and a slow cooked venison stew. He taught me the blessing of honest work and the need for personal sacrifice when it came to family. He showed me that failing to plan for retirement meant you could never retire. He showed me how to love the wife God gave me, and how to care for my family, no matter what the personal cost might be. He demonstrated the value of living debt free, and within our financial means. He also showed me why it was important to pay cash for the things we needed or wanted. The truth is, my father taught me how to be a real man.

Because of that, I became the kind of man my children could look up to. I showed them it’s OK to not always be right, but it is good to always be willing to make things right. They learned how to be a leader in their own homes, and the voice of reason to their children, when it is needed. They were shown how to love their wives and children in ways that are meaningful to them, and to do what must be done to provide for their families. Most of all, I taught them not to see the government as their source of income. Welfare is NOT a lifestyle, it is an emergency crutch until someone who needs it can get back on your feet. They were taught to seek God, plan with care and work hard. They learned from me that these things are more than enough to bring them all the provision they will ever need.

How did I learn these things, you might ask? These truth’s became life lessons during my wilderness wanderings. They became real when there was no one to prop me up or carry me, but Jesus. It was the time I found myself needing a teaching job. I prayed and sought God, and the perfect job opened up where there had been none the week before. It was the time I quit my teaching job, at age 35, and my a wife and three boys followed me back to college. We needed a place to live in Plattsburgh NY, and out of nowhere an apartment opened up near the college that we could afford. It was the time our cupboards were totally empty and I gave my sons the last of the powdered milk and instant mashed potatoes for breakfast. I went to class hungry that morning, but when I returned home that evening, food filled our shelves, our hallway and every counter top in our kitchen. I told no one but God about our need, and He showed me His faithfulness.

Without those wilderness journey’s my knowledge of God, and experiences with Him, would be sorely lacking. Unless I had been willing to walk through those barren wastelands, I would have never seen God’s ability to bring such abundant provision in my desperate lack. My faith was built up, my trust was properly anchored and my life story was enriched, all because of a desert trip. How grateful I am that many times God has led me into a waste-howling wilderness, to be tempted, tried and tested. At times I failed, but even in my failure I still learned valuable lessons that changed my life forever. The truth is, I would not trade those experiences for any amount of money or fame, because they made me, and my family, what we are today.

Right now, are you looking at a dry, sandy landscape, where there is no water and everything looks dead? Are you feeling alone in a barren landscape, with no clear answers, and you wonder where God is in all of it? If so, let me suggest to you that your current condition is actually designed by God to change you in ways you don’t yet understand. He is simply doing with you the very same thing He did with Jesus. What a privilege that is!

You need to walk it out, one step at a time, and pray with an honest and pure heart. You need to get real about your weaknesses until you find the place of rest in God. Once you are open to change and ready embrace your own weakness, you can then exchange your whole, weak mess for the strength God offers. Until then, you will find yourself a desert dweller. Perhaps this is your time to finally change and fully embrace the truth about who you really are. Once that’s been done, you can move on. Never forget that today’s wilderness is the perfect foundation for the God-ordained life you will walk in tomorrow !

Milestones Of Life

milestone

milestone / mīlˌstōn / noun

  1. a stone set up beside a road to mark the distance from or to a particular place.
  2. an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.

It’s interesting to note that the word “milestone” was first used to identify a stone marker that indicated just how far one had traveled. It was positioned prominently on a roadside to let travelers know how far along they were on their journey, or how far they had yet to go. Interestingly enough, that stone did not just mark off the distance; eventually it also became a marker of time. That’s because the average person walked at only 2 miles per hour, a runner traveled four to six miles an hour, those on horseback traveled 10 miles per hour and a stagecoach, pulled by a team of horses, could cover 15 miles in an hour. Thus, the faster people traveled the less distance really mattered. What took an hour to walk, took only 12 minutes on a stagecoach or 6 minutes on a train. Distance actually became irrelevant as the time it took to cover it continued to shrink.

Consider the 3200 mile trip from the east to the west coast of America. It once took four months by wagon train. When the railroads came, that time shrank to about fourteen days. In a car, I covered that same distance in 72 hours. The average flight in a modern jet takes about 6 1/2 hours, and the “Blackbird” spy plane flew it a number of years back in just under 3 hours. Finally, the space shuttle astronauts traversed that same distance in six minutes. The miles have remained the same, but the time it takes to cover them has changed dramatically. That change has been so great that we rarely think about measuring distance in anything but time.

When you think about it, this radical shift in how we view our travel through life is really quite appropriate. At this point in mans history, time really has great significance. This is because of the fact that all of us are locked into it, and there is no escape. Every moment of every day that passes by, brings us that much closer to when our time on this earth is over. There is no avoiding it, and it matters not how hard we work, or how fast we live, the clock just keeps ticking away. Ultimately, birth and death are the two real milestones that mark off every life. It begins, it ends and there are a multitude of choices and details that happen in between which impact the lives of others.

Tomorrow I will celebrate my 61st birthday. I am pondering the significance of that big day. I am also pondering my mother, who gave birth to me on that day, because she is also preparing for her big day as well. On my day I’ll be one year older, and one year away from collecting social security. I guess that’s another milestone in American culture we look forward to. We have paid into the system for years, and now it’s time for payback. However, on mom’s day, her social security will end. This is because she will be going home to be with the Lord, and that… well, that’s the final milestone in every culture.

The bottom line in that event is that we either greet it with overflowing joy, and glorious expectation, or we face it with terrifying resistance, and a fear of the unknown. The choice is totally up to each of us, and it all hangs on what we have done with the roadmap God gave us. If we followed and believe the truth, Jesus is our guide, and the destination is certain. If we refused to follow His perfect guidance, the outcome is still just as certain, but the final destination is VERY different. I am blessed in that my mother has lived a full, happy life, and has been looking forward to seeing both her husband, and her Savior, for quite sometime.

The milestones placed on those old dusty roads reminded all who saw them of where they were, and more importantly, where they were going. These were transition points that were reached, and once crossed, there was no going back. They called out to every passenger about where they had just been, and pointed them forward to where they were finally going to end up. It was a stark reality that gripped them along the journey in different ways as they bumped along the dust filled roads. In many ways life, and death, both unfold exactly the same way.

At this very moment my mother, who is just a few days shy of 98, is on that last leg her life road. She has been a wonderful woman of peace, prayer and encouragement, and she is about to cross her final milestone. She is in “transition” right now, getting ready to slip over and greet her husband, and her Lord, who saved them both. I have to be honest, this is something I am thrilled about, and dreading at the same time. Thrilled because her tired, old body is about to be laid aside, and her spiritual body will soon fly out of it to reveal all it’s glory. However, I dread that event as well because the one who has prayed, encouraged and always been there for me will be there no more. That is a very hard, and emotional pill that will soon have to be swallowed.

As mom moves from this world to the next I am forced to take the time to consider my own milestones. These marked off significant things in my journey. A few really stand out because they made major changes in my personal vision and life direction. Which ones arrested my attention? Well, there was my salvation, my marriage to my beautiful wife Esther, the birth of my sons and my call to ministry. Others, sadly, I flew right by with thoughtless impatience. In my headlong rush to accomplish some vision, I failed to pause when I should have to really enjoy the life I was living with those who loved me. I was so busy, trying to do things, that I lost the real reason for why I was doing them in the first place!

What about you? Are you so rushed in living that you have missed the joy of life? Are things, goals and your current vision so important that you have failed to nurture and treasure the people around you? Have you actually missed the beauty of the places that surround you? Time is slipping by at an ever-increasing rate, and it’s up to you how each day is spent. Let me encourage you to slow down, smell the roses and invest yourself in what’s really important. First comes your relationship with God, then comes family, then friends and finally business.

Not many hours from now my mother will close her eyes, breathe her last breath, slip from her earthly body and fly into heaven. When she does, it will be with no regrets and the blessing of all who ever knew her. She invested her life wisely and we are all the beneficiaries of that great treasure. Will you be able to say the same? Will you leave this earthly realm with a legacy of blessing and joy? Perhaps those who know you will simply be glad you are finally gone. Let me say that now is the time to re-evaluate your life. Even if it’s been less than exemplary, there is still time to change. Remember, as long as you have breath it’s never too late!

Do what Jennie Emmons did for so many, as she cooked them a meal or handed them a cookie. She invested her time and her love of cooking in others so she could speak to them about her love of Jesus. Take a moment right now to talk to God. Give Him your life, surrender your plans and open your heart. Let Him in, so He can open heaven when it’s your time, and do the same for you! I know Jennie will be there… will you?

For Jennie Maria Emmons, who did more than just share the Gospel, she lived it!

(10 minutes after I posted this mom peacefully slipped away in her asleep and woke up in the arms of Jesus!)

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The Quantum Mechanics Of Life

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I have always been a science nerd, and I am proud to admit it. I just love any discipline of science, and have spent the last 35 years teaching it at various levels. Earth Science, Geology, Archeology, Weather Science, Space Science, Human Biology, Natural Science, Physics and Chemistry; I have taught them all, and more. In fact, all of these have been a fascination for me from the time I was a little boy. I was always taking things apart, both living and non-living, just to see how they worked. In fact it has been this “what’s in there” mentality that has been a blessing and a curse in my life. I just can’t leave things alone. There is no rest until I know why and how that thing in front of me works.

Yesterday I was watching something on Quantum Physics (yes that’s right I told you I was a nerd) and they began to talk about how super computers are now being used to do “Quantum Encryption”. I was hooked and had to get this no matter how long it took. It seems that super computers are able to take a stream of light and use single photons of it to encode each with a binary number. That’s the basic code used by all computers to transmit information. In essence this basic computer code is equal to a one or a zero. In any case, they figured out a way to encode a one or a zero on each packet of light in order to transmit information in a super secure way.

At the quantum level, this is fantastic. Why? Because at that level, if anyone even looks at a stream of this data, some of the photons are changed. This means that the intended receiver of the transmission immediately knows someone has tried to look at that data. However, with quantum encryption, any change is also a marker that is left by the hacker’s computer. That computer will always look for it’s own marker when it tries to hack back into any future transmission. If the sender of the information simply removes those markers, the stream becomes invisible and the hacker’s computer thinks the data stream is gone. Only the one sending and receiving that specific data stream will ever know it’s still there.

There are billions of quantum encrypted transmissions going on every day, and there are brilliant, dedicated hackers trying to break into that code as well. As long as the good guys stay one step ahead everything is held in check and life goes on. However, if that balance ever swings in the other direction may God help us, because we will not be able to help ourselves. The fact is, our modern world would collapse overnight if this code ever had a major breach. This is because the fundamental electronics that runs the world now depends on specific computer programs. If hackers ever breach these, they would cause global chaos in a matter of hours.

Imagine what it would be like if hackers accessed the electric grid, the banks, the stock market, communication satellites and traffic control systems all over the world. Consider how life would change if traffic lights stopped, refrigeration ended, power plants shut down, nuclear plants over heated and it was totally black at night. What about gas pumps and cash registers, furnaces and water not working in your home any more? No more welfare checks, food stamps, retirement checks, electronic money transfers or garbage pick up. Even basic transportation or things like medication, bread and milk would be gone. Major cities would become war zones of survival. 50,000 planes would come crashing out of the sky and millions of cars and trucks would be abandoned on roadways. Within a few days society as we know it would be over. All of this is possible just because of a single stream of data… Wow!

For me, this is amazing food for thought. It makes me reconsider what is really valuable in life. It makes me sit back and think about what I give myself to and how that changes those around me. Is it my job, my money and my home that are high on my list? Are my goals and vision up there? How about friends and personal accomplishments? Do they rank on the upper end of the scale? When all is said and done my relationship with God and the love I share with my family trumps everything. Why? Because nothing and no one can take these from me. They are my foundational truths that can’t be shaken.

How about you? What are really the top priorities in you life? If this world were to fall apart tomorrow, who would you call, what would your emotional state be and where would you go? The answer is clearer than you might imagine. Where you invest your money and how you invest your time tells the real story. What you might find is that your mouth speaks one thing while your actions declare another. Until your words, your finances and your relationships are all connected, you are not focused, and worse than that, you are missing the best life has to offer.

Let me encourage you today to get focused and start building for the future. Use what you have to establish the life you want and the legacy you want to leave behind. Invest your time, your words and your money in those things that have real meaning. When all else fades away, or the world falls apart, two things will always remain; God and family. Invest in these and you can’t go wrong! Don’t invest in them and a day will come when you will certainly wish you had.

Evidence Of The Past

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I took the better part of a beautiful early Fall day this past week to enjoyed some much needed quiet time on one of my favorite “reserve” trout streams. I have a number of these that are hidden several miles off the main road in the Adirondack Mountains. I only fish them twice during any season, and have faithfully done so the past 25 years. This keeps them under-fished and highly productive whenever I go.

After several hours traveling north I parked my motorcycle and began the beautiful hike up one of these streams. As I walked the stream bank I failed to notice at first, the clear evidence that something had happened in my absence. There apparently had been a deluge of rain at one point in the past several weeks but at first glance things had changed very little. Everything still looked pretty normal, but what had been left behind was clearly there once I started to notice it. Even though the stream still seemed healthy, and the deep holes that have always held nice trout were still productive, things were definitely different. What’s interesting is that at first I didn’t see much of anything. The signs were so faint that I just never saw them. However, as I rounded a bend about a mile upstream, there it was, a massive silent witness to the power of what had really gone on.

I had not experienced the storm, but the clear evidence of what had happened was there. The magnitude of that storm was right in front of me and impossible to miss. Piled in the center of what had once been a deep hole was a huge tangled mass of logs, limbs, bark, rocks and brush. This massive mound of water-stripped twigs and weeds, earth and logs was so solid that it blocked the natural order of the stream and redirected it’s life-giving flow up alongside the opposite bank. The river was actually out of it’s ancient stream bed and eating away at the right bank of the river. It had already managed to unearth several big boulders, solid bedrock and a number of enormous, primal tree roots that had been buried for hundreds of years. Once I wrapped my mind around what I was seeing, the whole scene became both amazing and shocking to look at.

In that moment of awestruck wonder, something deep and profound hit me. I realized we are all like that river. Perhaps I should say we all have our own river of life, and the condition of the river took on new significance. What I mean is that we all have our own course marked out, and for the most part we just keep rolling along. However, on occasion, a massive storm comes along in life, and when it does we can be deeply impacted. So impacted in fact, that a pile of debris is left to clog up and redirect our reality. We think things are back to normal and life goes on just because we survived the storm. The fact is, nothing could be farther from the truth, and for the most part people are blind to the mess that is often left behind when trauma hits. The thing is, people we meet after our storm is over, don’t really know what happened to us. We look normal enough, and even act like there is no problem. However, even though the actual storm may be gone, it has left a pile of evidence behind, just like the log pile in my river, and we don’t realize it for the most part.

Until I rounded the corner, I had no idea it the log pile was there. Without realizing it, this is exactly what people run into whenever they are in contact with us, when we are in this condition. All seems good for a while, and the relationships are just flowing along until someone turns a corner and then “Wham!”.. they run right into a pile of storm debris, and things get messy. Have you been through a deep and troubling storm? Do you feel basically healthy and normal, but somehow always hit a place where things go so far and them stop or seem to fall apart? If that is your life pattern, it could be that the storms of life have left a tangled mess in the middle of your streambed and you just don’t see it.

The problem is that everyone who walks your bank runs into all the debris that has been left behind. The result, and real issue here, is that you now have the potential to leave your debris in everyone who gets near you, and that messes up their life as well. To stop this destructive pattern you need to face the issues in your own life. You have to admit that there was hurt, betrayal, wounding or pain. It’s a problem in you and it’s yours to own. Healthy people remain healthy no matter what others do. Believe it or not, the life of conflict you may have been living is not caused by others. It is caused by the storm debris that is still piled up inside of you. This debris brings up unhealthy emotions and thoughts, and they drive you to make bad decisions when others get close enough to unsettle your world. People are not the problem, they are only the catalyst that sets the problem in motion.

So where is the solution? Once you admit your have storm debris, it then needs to be cleared out. You may have to offer apologies, make phone calls, write letters, ask for forgiveness, see a counselor or even make restitution. Whatever will move you to a place of forgiving yourself and others, just do it. Next ask a trusted friend or mentor to speak honestly with you about what they see in your life. Don’t get offended or wounded by their truthfulness and candor. Such comments, when embraced and applied, will go a long way to making you emotionally healthy.

Finally begin each day with a fresh commitment to face yourself so you can make the needed changes. Ask God to support you along the way. He is always there to lend a helping hand. Do what you can and then let Him do all the rest. When you have this kind of partnership you are sure to win the prize. Last of all, no matter what, never give up! Just keep going no matter how many times you fail. You will see change if you persist, and that means you will be happy with the life you end up with. Best of all, so will everyone else who gets near you. Now go make a change and have a great day!

Seasonal Change

557791_3956999365521_1533113132_n  A few days ago I took my kayak and spent the afternoon on a small, clear mountain lake, fishing. It was miles north of where my wife and I live and the place is amazingly quiet. Our home is in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains so it really does not take me that long to find myself on a quiet stream, pond or lake in the cool shadow of those ancient peaks. One thing I can always count on is that it will be cooler, and the air will be clearer as I begin the ascent into those rugged hills.

There is something about spending a day in the mountains that calms my soul, refreshes my mind and reconnects me to the roots of my childhood. Not that I want to be a child again, or that I dislike my current life. No, in fact I absolutely love what my wife and I have, and I cannot imagine any other life than the one we built together. Yet getting alone in those places of weathered solitude seems to adjust my view of everything in ways that is so needful at times.

Going back to my ancestral home territory, the place where my family put down deep roots, and lived out our family history, stirs something in me. I feel an ancient call rising up inside that pulls on my heart and settles my mind. The rich smell of pine-scented air, the delicious taste of cold mountain water and the symphony of sounds that fill the woods as animals forage to store up their winter’s supply of food, are all primal things. They amplify a cry within me to simplify and focus my own life. They allow me to once again get hold of those things that are really important.

The other thing that hit me was how quickly the seasons can move along in the Northeast. I saw a few splashes of brilliant red on the hillside and that was quite a shock. We have had a few cool mornings, high 40’s and low 50’s and it caused the locals to fire up the wood stove and drive off the early morning chill. Those cool mornings are what triggered the early change in the leaves. Beyond that, I felt something else as I paddled along. There it was, a distinct drift in the wind that was cooler as it came over the mountains from Canada. The clear, northwest flow, and the kind of clouds that came with it, told me our “seasonal shift “ had already happened. In all honesty it left me a bit unsettled because I knew in my heart that things were soon to begin changing in a big way and I was not ready for that yet.

No, fall is not here, but the early indicators of its fast approach from Canada are now present. For those of us who grew up in these mountains we clearly see the handwriting on the wall. Like it or not, “seasonal shift” is a clear indicator in the atmosphere that change is on the way. Basically it means that summer has been formally given it’s eviction notice. The warm weather has not yet moved out, but Autumn has begun to move a few of it’s belongings into our area. The cool undertone in the air, the heavier clouds, the dark, cool rainy days and the northwest shift in wind all mean that in a few short weeks the mornings will get colder and Fall will take up residence once again.

What’s my point? Until I embraced this “seasonal shift” that is clearly pointing to Fall, I could not enjoy the rest of summer that is still here. However, had I decided to fight and dislike the indicators that are all around me, I would have missed the final days of summer’s glory and dreaded the inevitable result that is sure to come anyway. The bottom line is simple, how I decide to walked through a moment of change determines my outlook for the present, and my ability to enjoy the future when it arrives.

Is there a “seasonal shift” happening in your life right now? Please understand that I am not talking about a change in your natural circumstances, even though that will happen as well. What I am referring to is that feeling of definite change in the spiritual environment of your life, but you can’t quite define what it is. Do you sense a distinct change in how the winds are blowing? Are you seeing splashes of color in the distance that were not there before? Do you see a different kind of cloud on the horizon that has left you wondering what is to come? Are you feeling a bit unsettled about everything and not sure what to do about it? If you answered yes to the above, then you are living in, and will have to walk through a “seasonal shift”, and this is a wonderful place to be.

God never feels the need to tell us what He is about to do. He may, but He more often just begins to do something and wants us to keep walking and trusting Him as we go. If He mapped everything out then the adventure of living the Christian life would be so much less exciting. Our God is not boring and neither is serving Him. I am convinced that He does what He dose to shake us up and move us forward when we have gotten stuck. Perhaps what you are feeling right now is His way of telling you to get ready because He is about to pull you out of the mud!

Let me remind you that He is able! He can do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you ask or think. However, you will have to walk through that change first in order to get what lies ahead. Relax, go with the flow and never forget that God is good. Spend time in His presence, in His word, in prayer and in worship. In fact, begin to purpose in your heart that you will enjoy the ride. Let go of your need to be in control, and allow yourself be amazed by the beauty of everything that is changing around you. In the end you can trust God and know that He will cause every “seasonal shift” to work out for your good. Once you have this basic thing settled, you can allow each new season to bring new grace and truth to you life. The bottom line is simple, you can’t stop it anyway so you might as well learn how to enjoy it!

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Many Will Be Offended

There is a growing wave of resentment and polarization that I have noticed in the last four or five years. I see it in the news, I read about it in the newspapers and I hear it at my local diner every time I’m there.  What really disturbs me is that I’ve never, ever heard anything even close to this level of negative discontent at any other point in my life. The degree of division and outraged frustration is, in my mind, a symptom of a much greater problem,… that of offence.

There is a reason why the title of this is “Many Will Be Offended”. The quote is from a wonderful passage in the Bible, Matthew 24:10. In it Jesus speaks about what life will be like for those who want to live right when times are hard. It says people will become hard-hearted and selfish, they will simply hate one another and then it states that “many will be offended”. The word “offended” comes from a Greek word that means “a bait stick, a trap or a snare”. In other words, in that day people will be snared by, or stuck in an offended condition, and anger will be the prevailing attitude.

If we honestly consider the world around us right now, we can’t deny that this is in fact a perfect picture of what is unfolding. The question is, how will you choose to respond to all of the above? Some will move in the direction of fear and “hunker down” in a bomb shelter of self-imposed isolation to protect themselves. Others will choose to turn a blind eye and live in ignorant bliss until the mess around them eventually sweeps them away. I believe those with wisdom will recognize the times and act in a way that helps others in the present and secures their own future.

I was once told that the smallest package in the world is a man all wrapped up in himself. The older I get the more I agree. The solution to fear, offence and self-centeredness is not found in protecting myself. If we set our eyes on helping others and put them first, it unlocks a spirit of generosity in our own life. Once that begins to flow, God will step in and partner with us in all we do. This, in case you missed it, is the real definition of success, and in this atmosphere offence can’t survive.

Every pilot, sea-captain and driver knows that we always move towards where we are looking. If I look to myself that is where the boat of my life will end up going. Let me suggest that you should begin looking up to heaven and out to others. Not only will that secure your future, it has the potential to secure the future of everyone you touch. In the final analysis, that is a life well lived and anyone who goes this way will never have time to be offended!

Be Still And Know

There is a wonderful passage that I go back to time and time again which never fails to make a difference in my busy life. Psalms 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God”. I have learned over the years that this is more than just a few well written words of truth. It is, in fact, a statement of absolute truth that holds a depth which seems to bring everything into a clear perspective. Until I recognized just how meaningful these words were, I agonized over things that goaded me along a path which was not always productive or beneficial.

In this post modern age, the ability to “be still” is an art that is all but lost. Smart phones, tablets and a multitude of other electronics intrude into what was once a personal place of sacred solitude. Here, in the rarefied atmosphere of a peaceful heart, God Himself could come and breathe the vision, clarity and direction we were all lacking. In that still place of waiting, He would satisfy the longing or our heart and settle all the acrid dust of life that was swirling around. We needed it, we hungered for it, and we were never really satisfied within until we had experienced it.

The distractions of our constant electronic companions have built us into a society of isolated techno drones. I watch people walk together without any conversation because each is focused on the text, email or phone call that just commandeered the moment. Beeps, clicks, buzzes and song clips sing out in church services, movie theaters, living rooms, soccer games, courtrooms and bathrooms.

I have watched young mothers in play parks with their children, but they were not “present to the moment”. Their eyes, minds and hearts were not focused on that fleeting and magnificent gift of childhood. They were instead drawn away by an electronic intruder that hijacked the time. Even worse is that it is allowed to continually rob them at any given moment of every single day.

Until we really learn how important it is to “be still” we will never be able to “know .. God” or be able to recognize all of His creation that we are missing.  When your life is nearly over, and you only have days or perhaps hours to live, what would you give to get back all the time that was wasted? Think of how much living has been robbed from you and your family just because a beep, a click or a ring invaded the moment. Take control of your life today and rediscover the power of being still once again. You won’t regret it and neither will those you love!