#feeling blessed

23 Aug

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Feeling blessed is in vogue.

A quick look at Facebook and Twitter shows how many people today feel #blessed. In our social-media world, saying you’re blessed can be a way of boasting while trying to sound humble.

College scholarship? #Blessed. Unexpected raise? #Blessed. Wonderful family? #Blessed.

As Christians we use that term too, of course. We pray God will bless our family. We attribute our undeserved gifts to “God’s blessings.” We talk about ministries being blessed. But what does it really mean? How should we understand the blessing of God?

The Good Life

“My trials grounded my faith in ways that prosperity and abundance never could.”

For believers, is the blessed life synonymous with the successful life? Is it the Christian version of the good life? A loving marriage, obedient children, a vibrant ministry, a healthy body, a successful career, trusted friends, financial abundance — if these are the characteristics of a blessed life, then having all of them should translate into an extraordinarily blessed life.

But does it? If someone had all those things, would they be extraordinarily blessed?

Rather than turning to God, they might feel self-sufficient and proud. Perhaps a bit smug and self-righteous. After all, their hard work would be yielding good fruit.

Moreover, they wouldn’t need to cry out to God for deliverance; everything would already be perfect. They wouldn’t need to trust God; they could trust in themselves. They wouldn’t need God to fill them; they would already be satisfied.

God’s Richest Blessings

My desire for God is greatly fueled by my need. And it is in the areas of loss where I feel my need most intensely. Unmet desires keep me on my knees. Deepen my prayer life. Make me ransack the Bible for God’s promises.

Earthly blessings are temporary; they can all be taken away. Job’s blessings all disappeared in one fateful day. I, too, had a comfortable life that was stripped away within a span of weeks. My marriage dissolved. My children rebelled. My health spiraled downward. My family fell apart. My dreams were shattered.

And yet, in the midst of those painful events, I experienced God’s richest blessings. A stronger faith than I had experienced before. A deeper love than I had ever known. A more intimate walk than I could explain. My trials grounded my faith in ways that prosperity and abundance never could.

While my trials were not blessings in themselves, they were channels for them. As Laura Story asks in her song “Blessings,” “What if your blessings come through rain drops? What if trials of this life — the rain, the storms, the hardest nights — are your mercies in disguise?”

This revolutionary idea of blessing is also firmly established in Scripture.

The Common Thread

One translation of the New Testament (ESV) has 112 references with the words bless, blessing, or blessed, none of which connect blessing to material prosperity. Consider these passages:

“Suffering and trials are not blessings in themselves, but they are channels for God’s grace.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit. . . . Blessed are those who mourn. . . . Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake . . . Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:3–410–11)

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28)

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven. (Romans 4:7; quoting Psalm 32:1)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial. (James 1:12)

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. . . . Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:1319:9)

There is no hint of material prosperity or perfect circumstances in any New Testament reference. On the contrary, blessing is typically connected with either poverty and trial or the spiritual benefits of being joined by faith to Jesus.

According to the Key-Word Study Bible, “The Greek word translated blessed in these passages is makarioi which means to be fully satisfied. It refers to those receiving God’s favor, regardless of the circumstances” (emphasis added).

What is blessing, then? Scripture shows that blessing is anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied in him. Anything that draws us closer to Jesus. Anything that helps us relinquish the temporal and hold on more tightly to the eternal. And often it is the struggles and trials, the aching disappointments and the unfulfilled longings that best enable us to do that.

Truly Blessed

“Unmet desires keep me on my knees and make me ransack the Bible for God’s promises.”

Pain and loss transform us. While they sometimes unravel us, they can also push us to a deeper life with God than we ever thought possible. They make us rest in God alone. Not what we can do or achieve for him. And not what he can do or achieve for us.

In pain and loss, we long for Presence. We long to know that God is for us and with us and in us. Great families, financial wealth, and good health are all wonderful gifts we can thank God for, but they are not his greatest blessings. They may make us delight, not in God, but in his gifts.

God’s greatest blessing always rests in God himself. When we have that, we are truly #blessed.

by: Vaneetha Rendall Risner

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-does-it-really-mean-to-be-blessed

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bittersweet

14 Aug

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Bitterness destroys lives, families, and churches. Left unattended, she inevitably spreads. On her playing field, nobody wins. Recognize her early. Deal with her seriously. She is dangerous. Extremely dangerous.

Consider a few of her characteristics:

SHE INTERNALIZES

Like a seed, she germinates underground, small and unseen. Quickly her roots grow, and by the time she sprouts to the public eye, she has established an extensive root system in the ground below.

Bitterness pushes the rewind button a million times. Over and over the hurtful scene is replayed in the mental cinema. In some ways, it’s almost as if the memory is granite and bitterness has etched her words there permanently.

So haunting is her story, it often greets a person in his waking moments and whispers to him as he falls asleep. And with annoying regularity she interrupts throughout the day. Every day.

Just behind the smiling face she lurks. Her poison soaks the minds of some of even the Kingdom’s busiest workers. She finds the innermost crevices of the heart and lodges there.

SHE PERSONALIZES

Bitterness rarely focuses upon situations or circumstances. Nope. She is completely absorbed with people. One doesn’t have to spend too long with a bitter person before he knows exactly who the object of his bitterness is.

What he did.

What she said.

How they hurt me.

And it doesn’t matter if the person is well-liked and respected by others. The sole criterion for his spot at the crosshairs of bitterness is the perception of how he has treated me.

SHE CRITICIZES

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” Bitterness inevitably seeps out of the mouth. No matter how carefully her host endeavors to chain her, she’ll find her way out.

Somehow every conversation provides fertile ground for one new critical weed to push through the surface. Often the listener internalizes the question, “Where did that come from?”

For the embittered person, each new conversation and every new relationship is an opportunity to colonize new minds with the same old story.

SHE EMPHASIZES

She emphasizes herself. Her hurt. Her narrative. Bitterness is the ultimate narcissist. She sees everything and everyone through her distorted lens.

Perhaps the most insidious outcome of bitterness is this self-absorption. The embittered one cannot see the needs of others and the ways by which he can encourage, help, pray, and serve.

SHE RATIONALIZES

Bitterness will not see herself as sinful. She simply reacts. And her reaction is justified because your action was not.

By contrast, forgiveness refuses to use the past as evidence against the offender. Bitterness however retries the case and renders a guilty verdict a thousand times.

For some, bitterness is their comfort food, their little stash of chocolate to make them feel better. And constantly she excuses her behavior with her own little conversation: “I deserve this. I know it’s not good for me, but I deserve it. It might not make things better, but it makes me feel better. That’s all that matters right now.”

SHE DEMORALIZES

Bitter people die a slow death. Such is the nature of the poison. Hurt begets hurt. And the expressions of bitterness inevitably isolate them from would-be encourages or prayer partners.

Bitterness pleads loudly for her survival. And while forgiveness, humility, and Spirit-dependence offer better, life-giving arguments, they are too often unheard amid the clamorous and self-justifying protests of bitterness.

Search your own heart. Ask for God’s help. Be brutally honest in the mirror. Act quickly. When it comes to bitterness, time is not your friend.

-Kurt Skelly

seemingly mundane

10 Aug

It’s okay if every weekend doesn’t lead to big moments like campfires and laughter that carries on for hours. Some weekends might be quiet, still, with plenty of room to contemplate. And in that contemplation room, there is room to grow. So hold those weekends dear, Don’t see them as less or as threats to the more exciting times. There is beauty and truth in the seemingly mundane. – Morgan Harper Nichols.

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I missed the 6 am bus today. That was such a big deal specially if you want to avoid being stuck in traffic. Good thing, school has not started and there is still the 6:15 bus that thankfully arrived at 6:10. The irony of time is, when you’re late even for just a minute – makes a lot of difference. I love mornings. The part where the sun seems to be chasing the bus and at the same time playing hide and seek behind the towering buildings on the roadside. Then I would think of my Summer, smiling and looking at me – waiting for me to come home. Sigh.

I don’t like the hype of rushing, But there are times, when, it’s the only way to get things done even if the results are not guaranteed. That is when I am reminded that the important things in life should not be rushed, it should, as much as possible – go with the harmonious flow of life. Sigh.

I wanted to do this and that, go here and there and above all be with my Summer but the present circumstance is rested upon the fact that it can only be possible soon and not now. Sigh

Hence, I’m looking forward to weekends more eagerly now but I’m not rushing only to find it gone in an instant.  To sit comfortable in the brown couch and finishing the blue crocheted pillowcase. organizing the cabinets and listing down expenses is on my mind. I’m excited to use the new cake molder, and iron summer’s clothes that I will be sending soon. There are so many interesting and helpful things on pinterest on how to start an online shop, somehow, my dream is starting to take form realistically if not drastically, hence, there’s never a loss in trying. There are so many things I can possibly do or go to but then I know I’d be spending it in these seemingly mundane ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ribbons and bows (be careful who you love)

27 Jul

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Charming, intelligent, caring…hardly words we’d use to describe a narcissist, but in truth the reason so many get sucked into a narcissist’s world is because your initial exchange with them can almost sweep you off your feet.

The charm quickly wears off the moment a narcissist feels threatened.  If they think you’re the threat (of if they feel you can see them for who they really are), then beware for the punishment that follows by way of rumors, bashing…and even physical abuse.

Charm is one way a narcissist will manipulate you…but unfortunately, narcissists are often highly intuitive, too. This can set you up for experiences you’d never imagine yourself to be a part of because a narcissist with intuition will only use their intuition for their own self-interest.  Period.

Aside from the obvious, “all about me” immature nature of some narcissist (easy to spot), some are very advanced at manipulation, pulling you into their world and setting you up for massive emotional abuse and an energy drain leaving you more whipped than a 10K run.

The secret language of narcissists is virtually secret because unless you’ve had a lot of experience, you may not even see the snake until it bites you.  We’re talking about the covert narcissist.

Covert narcissists are perhaps the more dangerous of the narcissistic types. Covert narcissist aren’t arrogant or obviously aggressive, but instead, have almost magically reeled you in as their source of “supply” (for your skills, your abilities, your resources, your connections, your money, your company, your whatever they need from you).

The covert narcissists are nice and yet equally draining and extremely dangerous.  It’s not always easy to exactly single out what they’re doing wrong, but your gut knows it and you often feel drained, nervous and even angry after spending time with them.  These are the wolves in sheep’s clothing and they have a secret language all their own.

How to identify the secret language of covert narcissists:

1. NO ENERGY MATCH

You feel empty when you’re around them and it doesn’t make sense to you because they use all the right language like, “I love you” or “you’re so beautiful” and even, “I appreciate you.”  If the words and the energy don’t match for you…pay attention. Listen to your body signals.  Energy doesn’t lie.

2. POOR ME

You feel sorry for them and you naturally want to help.  Watch out because once they’ve pegged you as a source of “supply” you’ll be doing all the work for them.  These are among the most draining and irritating narcissist.  You’ll hear things like,  “I’m so confused” or “you’re so smart” or “I can always rely on you.”  Surely, there are moments in all our lives where we’re genuinely confused and help from others is a must.  But like the saying goes, teach a man to fish and they’ll have food source for a lifetime…the covert narcissist resists learning and finds somebody else to do the work for them.

3. RIBBONS AND BOWS

The gift (I mean guilt) giver is the covert narcissist who loves to give and do favors as a way to manipulate you. They give because the moment they need you, they expect you to give back to them at the moment they need it and will let you know that you being unavailable is “selfish” considering all they’ve done and given to you.  A gift with strings attached is not a gift.  Just say NO.

4. HELP ME (NOT REALLY)

Obsessed with problems, this covert narcissist won’t call you until they need your advice (which they’ll NEVER take).  You may feel good temporarily because they’ve reached out to you, and they say things like, “you’re so smart” or “I look up to you” (and of course, you naturally want to help). If you feel drained and head-achy after “helping”, BEWARE, you’re being used as a dumping ground.

5. BROKE ON PURPOSE

This parasite has their language on fleek when it comes to excuses about not having money or a job. They don’t even want to do the work to find work.  Let’s call a spade a spade here—they’re sponging off of you.  

I hope the secret language isn’t so secret anymore. The covert narcissist isn’t openly aggressive, but the harm is still the same and often not recognized until you’ve already trusted them (the covert narcissist is “nice” after all)…and then you suddenly and painfully realize years later the monster—the energy vampire—the narcissist behind the mask. -OneWiseLife (OWL)

 

Note:

This article is based on the author’s experience with narcissists.  The emotional damage (and even physical abuse) from a narcissist is not an easy experience to suddenly overcome and “get over.”  The effects are long lasting and she can only recommend to educate yourself.  Knowledge is powerful, but only when you know how to use it.  You deserve healthy and loving relationships.

be persistent

26 Jul

Persistence-vs-Stubbornness

We have been talking about the value of persistence. Persistence is a good thing, but we can easily cross the line from persistence to stubbornness. Stubbornness is similar to persistence, but there are some key differences.

Persistence is a matter of the heart

Stubbornness stems from pride. It is an unwillingness to yield to wisdom. Stubbornness is “I am right, and you are wrong.” Stubbornness stems from feelings of inadequacy and from fear of admitting that I am wrong.

The key difference between persistence and stubbornness is about the heart. It is about motives. Persistence is motivated by faith. Stubbornness is motivated by fear. The Biblical concept of stubbornness is described as hardening of the heart.

Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. Proverbs 28:14 (ESV)

Persistence is willing to correct a course

Persistence is open to wisdom. Persistence is not as concerned about how we get to where we are going as long as we get to where we are going. Stubbornness is focused on doing it “my way” even if that means we are hindered from reaching our destination.

Persistence is focused on results. Stubbornness is focused on methods. Persistence says, “Let’s figure this out.” Stubbornness says, “It’s got to be done this way.”

Persistence is about what I can do

Persistence believes in possibilities.

Persistence is focused on what is possible. Stubbornness is focused on what we can’t do or what we refuse to do. Persistence looks for solutions. Stubbornness makes excuses.

Stubbornness is the Devil’s Advocate. Occasionally, I will be in a meeting, and someone will say that they will play the role of Devil’s Advocate. My response typically is that the Devil doesn’t need an advocate.

Persistence focuses on what I need to do.

Persistence is focused on results. Stubbornness is focused on methods. Persistence looks to get something done. Stubbornness focuses on how to do something.

Certainly we do not want to compromise ourselves to attain results. But more often than not, stubbornness is not about compromising our values. Our stubbornness happens because we are uncomfortable and or realize that we need to step out of our comfort zone.

Persistence pursues wisdom

Persistence values dialogue and is open to new ideas. Stubbornness is closed off to suggestion. Stubbornness fails to value the input and wisdom of others.

Persistence looks to God for help. Stubbornness says, “I’ve got this, and I don’t need any help.” Stubbornness is blazing a trail and throwing caution to the wind. Stubbornness is a recipe for disaster.

-Phil Ressler

power of speech

25 Jul

Capture

Have you ever attempted to change someone or perhaps felt like someone was trying to change you? Have you ever tried to get your “truth” across, but it only seemed to fall on deaf ears or worse, it backfired?

In our well-intentioned ignorance, we sometimes expect others to understand the way we perceive experiences. We want them to “see” things as they are, when we really, each absorb life from the level of our own consciousness. What’s part of our spiritual DNA already may not (yet) be a part of the people around us and vice versa.

A message must unfold organically, and if it is meant to reach someone, it will – in the right time. Sometimes, we can gently plant a seed of awareness in others, but we should be careful not to trample their path to growth at the same time. Share what’s important to you, but then release control + let it go, and return to you. Ultimately, what matters most is the validation we give ourselves. We are always the creator and chooser of our perceptions. When we are deeply committed to expanding our self-awareness, we find more empathy and compassion in that space not only for ourselves, but for others too.

-powerofspeech

gratitude

25 Jul

Capture

Lucky is the one
Who counts what he’s got,
Fortunate is she
Who knows it’s a lot.
When you live the day
With presence of mind,
You can’t imagine
The blessings you’ll find.
No matter how big
Your problems may be,
You surrender to
Much more than you see.
To a Source greater
Than you can conceive,
And oh, what a shift
You come to receive.
So just begin now
In this moment – start,
Breathe in and breathe out
Move into your heart.
Wherever you are
Welcome it with grace,
Let gratitude in
And transform your space.
—G

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