Practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you.
Have you ever wanted to "do better" or to "be better"? (Like, every day? I guess this is sort of a silly or obvious question.)
Well, I have been thinking about this because my wife said to me, "I sure wish you were as positive as you used to be. It was fun to be around you and it helped me." (Oh great! This is just what I wanted to hear! Another of my failures and something else I need to work on.)
I thought, "Yeah? Well I'm acting this way for good reason. I guess you don't understand what I've been through over the last several years.
"You don't understand how badly people and circumstances have hurt and disappointed me over the last few years. And, I guess you don't understand how I gave my best just to have it all thrown back in my face.
"You just don't understand how discouraged I am and how badly I have been hurt. And maybe you aren't aware that I don't want to be disappointed any more or hurt any more. But, it seems that I can't help feeling this way. I am so discouraged that I am ready to stop trying to be better.
"And the worst of if is that you just don't understand that I really DO "want to" do better. I want to be better. But, I have tried and I just can't do it anymore".
The answer I gave myself bothered me, so I prayed and asked God to help me. I asked God to change me.
I prayed "Let me be 'in Your image', God, because that is what I really WANT".
Then an interesting thing began to happen
Several months later
I was listening to a video clip by a well known motivation speaker and life coach and, in essence he said,
"Everyone wants to do better. Everyone wants to get better and everyone wants to be better. So, why don't they?"
(WHAT I HEARD in my mind WAS, "Mike - you know you want to be better and do better and get better, etc. SO, WHY DON'T YOU?")
He went on to explain that "It comes down to 'wanting to' versus 'having to'. "
Most people WANT TO do better. But, the truth is, they don't have to do better, so they don't.
They are comfortable in their discomfort. They have learned to 'live without'. It almost seems like they enjoy being miserable.
It is only when you absolutely can no longer live the way you are living, that you will change.
It is only when you have become far to uncomfortable or you have become far to miserable or your life has become unbearable or dangerous to continue the way you are - that you will change.
You will get better when YOU HAVE TO - not when you want to.
This speaker compared this mindset to an invading naval force that comes upon a city it wants to conquer. But when they see an overwhelming opposing force of soldiers, armaments and barricades, they decide it's not worth it. It's just to hard. The naval troops decide that just don't want it that bad.
So, the naval commander sets fire to their ship and it sinks and suddenly the naval troops have no choice. Now, they HAVE TO win the battle or perish."
This is when they get the job done!
A few days later
these same thoughts surface in my mind again.
Have you ever experienced something like, once you become aware of a thing, it seems like it is EVERYWHERE? Here is the next message I heard 'from Above'.
I was attending an insurance conference. I was not particularly interested in the topic being covered so my mind wandered. And what came into my mind made me uncomfortable. Then, I began to realize that what I was realizing was a mental image of how I had begun to think and act and the realization of what I HAVE TO do about it if I am ever to be better - and happier!
I thought "This is important" so, I scribble it down. Here is what and how I recorded it:
FOR ME - ONLY
STOP THESE THINGS !!! START THESE THINGS !!!
Stop Living and thinking in the past. Act on my Abilities. Do it now!
Just stop it! *Preach God's Word
*Teach goodness, act it out!
Stop Drifting and waiting. *Work at Building healthy, lasting relationships
Stop Being afraid of future failures or Make Others (feel)
Stop Talking about past ill health experiences. *Encouraged
Stop imagining Potential health issues.
Stop thinking about former church disappointments. *Positive Profitable Potential
and church leadership disappointments. *Successes
*Whatever is Lovely, Pure,
Stop Dwelling on obstacles in your life. Honorable, of Good Report,
excellent and Praiseworthy.
Stop Dwelling on disappointments and failures.
Give Attention to Others. Show interest in others
*Ask others about themselves
Stop Seeking the 'understanding' of others by Think the BEST of Others, all the time!
talking about yourself to gain attention or respect
which is really just seeking pity Treat others the way you want them to act!
Stop dwelling on Angers or anything that angers me.
Stop Drifting day-to-day, in thought and action.
Stop Thinking on or about negatives that
could happen but that don't even exist.
Stop Being critical!
(This is me?! I HAVE TO stop it! This is killing me) (This is who I HAVE TO do this. I want to Really Live! )
And this theme crops up again
it seems like it is everywhere!
Last night we went to see the movie, "The Magnificent Seven" and I heard these 2 quotes:
"What you lose in the fire you'll find in the ashes"
"Just make sure you're fighting the battle in front of us, not the battle behind."
What you endured during trying times is not lost, but it is in the ashes of the past. Just know that it is not gone but it is past. But don't stir up the ashes of the past. Stay focused on the present and the future! THE BATTLE IS IN FRONT OF US - AHEAD OF US.
Then, again this morning, as I scanned through dozens and dozens of Facebook posts, political posts , sad and disturbing posts, imaginary religious promises, advertising posts, a few funny posts and a few personal interest posts. It seems like I've seen all of them before in some fashion, I came across three posts that caught my attention which carry this same theme.
"There is no reason to look back, when there is so much good in front of you."
"Don't try to please everyone. Just do what you know is right."
"Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right."
Several Bible verses flashed through my mind as I read these three posts.
"And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:21
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your
Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:7-11
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Matthew 15:7
"No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 1Pe 2:20
For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 1Pe 3:17
Now something good - no, make that GREAT - is happening.
Yesterday, my wife mused, "What is going on with you? You have gone from being worried, hesitant and a little angry, to being this 'Pollyanna'! So many people want to talk to you and some neighbors are even saying how much they like you!"
I agreed. I can't help myself, either. It's coming naturally. I feel better and I sleep better. Every day holds something new and worthwhile.
And, every day I review and rehearse my "FOR ME - ONLY list. And I remember my list of things I need to STOP DOING and those things I need to START DOING.
Every day I deliberately brush aside any and all negative thought by reciting a list of
things that are TRUE,
things that are HONORABLE,
things that are RIGHT,
things that are PURE
things that are LOVELY,
things that are of GOOD REPORT
things that are EXCELLENT and
things that are PRAISEWORTHY
I literally recite to myself (or my wife play the game of saying these things ALOUD).
It is TRUE that I love my family! It is TRUE that I am making progress.
It is HONORABLE to serve others.
It is RIGHT to be honest and fair.
Babies and children have a PURE mind.
The sunrise this morning is LOVELY.
I hear GOOD THINGS about my sons.
(just a few examples)
Yes it takes discipline and effort. It comes slowly at first. But it is working! It takes away worry, doubt, fear and negative thought!
And, I realize that I HAVE TO DO THIS, if
I want friends,
I want good health,
I want a positive outlook,
I want to see opportunity when it comes along, and
I want to live a life worth living!
It is almost as if all I can actually see is the good that is coming my way.
I tend to stay away from negatives and politely move away from the negatives people offer me.
I smile and just move toward the next good thing coming my way.
I am "on the hunt" again, for The Good of Life that God promises - even in the midst of troubles!
I wrote this to encourage you and to remind myself that life presents all of us good things and bad things, every day.
Good and bad things will always be present. We must endure and confront both good and evil, almost daily, or let them control us and like the wave of the sea, be tossed to and fro.
I am encouraged - I am determined to run toward the Good. To Run toward God.
I want to encourage you to run toward the Good. To Run toward God.
Let's leave the causes of worry, fear, depression, sadness, loneliness behind. Leave them in the ashes.
Make and read your own lists and reminders of those things that are "FOR YOU - ONLY, and STOP IT if it is an obstacle and START IT if it is what is right and pure and lovely and of good report. If it is excellent and praiseworthy".
I am certain they will make a big difference in your. It is making a big difference in my life.
As much as we want to do better, we really do HAVE TO.
Let's go do it!
Your Brother and Friend,