Climbing the Mountains in our Future

When we see the mountains ahead, we can be overcome by fears, doubts, and concerns about how are we going to get there. We need to continue to adjust our focus. We need to follow and trust in the God who is not only with us, but also goes ahead of us. Don’t worry about how long it will take to climb this mountain ahead of you, instead; just take a step at a time. Stop a minute. Take a deep breath of God’s grace and strength. Adjust your pace. Don’t try to run ahead of yourself, like a wobbly toddler that stumbles and falls.
Embrace this moment. Make the best of this day. That’s how we will climb this mountain of uncertainty…one step at a time.
We are often in such a hurry to get ahead that we do not take time to enjoy the present moments along the way. When you read the accounts of Jesus, often times the miracle moments and great teaching moments he did were disguised as interruptions as he was walking from one place to another. Oswald Chambers stated that we should “Be ready to discover God’s divine designs anywhere and everywhere.”
I firmly believe that delays are not always automatic denials. Faith in God includes faith in His timing. God can use our disappointments that we experiencing now to lead us into His appointments for something better in the days ahead. Trusting God for our future also requires our trusting and following His guidance today…
-“The Lord replied, I will personally go with you and give you rest…everything will be fine with you.” – Exodus 33:14 (NLT)
-“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:5,6 (NLT)
-“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” – Acts 2:28 (NIV)
Happy Trails my friend,
Jerry Bear

Don’t get Down on Yourself

Sometimes we feel sort of like the lyrics of a popular song from the 1970’s… “You’re no good, you’re no good, baby, you’re no good!”  Although we all have moments like that, we should not let them become a constant theme in our attitude and thinking. We can  get so caught up in revisiting our hurts; rerunning mistakes in our mind and looking at our flaws under a microscope, this can cause us to become our own worst enemy. We should focus on what God thinks of us, more than what we think of ourselves or worried about what everybody else may think of us. Our thought patterns can often control our emotions. How do we change the channel in our internal negative thinking?  We need to realize that Jesus is with us no matter what is going on inside and around us. My friend, Melvin Carr was fond of saying “Jesus is our help when there isn’t any, our hope when there isn’t any, and our peace when there isn’t any.” Here are some examples from the Bible that can reinforce our faith when we encounter negative thoughts and feelings…
When we feel helpless, He is our source of hope.
“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It is an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God, when Jesus, is running ahead of us.” – Hebrews 6:19 (MSG)

When we are confused about what to do, He gives us direction and clarity.
“Let the peace of Christ [ the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [ deciding and settling questions that arise].”  – Colossians 3:15 (AMP)

When  we are overwhelmed, He is our source of strength.
“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [ I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency ] .” – Philippians 4:13 (AMPC)

When we are feeling worthless, He says we are priceless and important to Him.
“God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love- not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” – 1 John 4:9-10 (TLB)
“Jesus Christ knows the worst about you. Nonetheless, He is the one who loves you the most.” – Dr. A.W. Tozer

When we feel like a failure, He understands we are not flawless and looks to repair and restore us.
” We know that we have Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God. He understands every weakness of ours. He been through weakness and testing, experienced it all – all but the sin. So lets walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”- Hebrews 4:15 (CEB & MSG)

Remember, God has not given up on you, don’t give up on yourself.
“God is the One who began this good work in you, and I am certain  that He won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.” – Philippians 1:6 (CEV)

Peace, Love, & Cornbread…

Sometimes we take Big Things for for granted. Big Things like the Peace of God we have through our faith in Jesus, God’s Love for us, and the Love we have for our family, friends, and others.

We oftentimes take the Little Things for granted too…such as Cornbread. I use cornbread as an example and metaphor because it is both simple and common. I sometimes like it with soup or a meal. You may enjoy something else besides cornbread.. like coffee, a quiet walk, or listening to music…etc. Take a moment to think about some of the Little Things you like and enjoy. I have found that when I do this, it is helps me to stay balanced regardless of whether I am having a good day or a bad day. Our overall perspective daily attitude will improve if we keep in mind to be more appreciative of those things.

Peace, Love, & Cornbread, our Blessings both Big and Small, let us be thankful for them All…

ASK>SEEK>FIND…Making Wise Decisions during Difficult Times

Making wise decisions is very important, especially during times of stress. I have been studying what the Bibles describes as “wisdom” and how to apply it to my daily life. The term “wisdom” is mentioned more than 200 times in the Bible. It is interesting to note that when young Solomon when he became King after his father David, was overwhelmed by the assignment. The one thing that he prayed as asked God for was …”wisdom.” Wisdom can be defined as having knowledge and the ability to make good use of it. As I studied about Solomon and other examples, I discovered several reoccuring characteristics. Although Solomon was considered the wisest person in the world at that time, he realized that he did not know everything. He was smart to seek out skilled artisans with expertise when constructing the city in his country. We also would be wise to seek and find good help and advice.

Even though I sometimes struggle making good decisions like everybody else, here are some specific things that I am learning about wisdom that can be helpful as we have to keep navigating through life in the days ahead…

ASK. First of all, pray and ask God for wisdom. James 1:5 states “If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and want correct you for asking.” Prayer is not just the first step, it is to be interwoven throughout the whole process of asking, seeking and finding solutions. Ask your friends and people you trust about referrals for people with expertise and knowledge in the issues you are dealing with, this helps in clearing up fears and misconceptions you may have and will give you some clarity.

SEEK. Pray and ask for God’s guidance and specific direction into who you should seek out for advice and the information you need. Take some time to think through the options you have, and don’t be afraid to follow up with more questions to get further clarification. If you are not on a short timetable, take a day or two to give careful thought about what to do next. Jesus encouraged us to “seek, aim at, strive after God’s Kingdom and His way of doing things and being right and all things will be given to you also.”- Matthew 6:33 (Amplified Bible)

FIND. Maybe make a list pros and cons for each choice. Pray as you work through the details and toward a resolution. Do not forget to take time to thank the God for being with you through all of this process. Proceed with the best option. If that does not work out, be open to realize that God is going to answer your prayer in a different way than you expected. Stop and hit the reset button in your thinking and begin the process again of ASK>SEEK>FIND. It is not unusual in our complex world to have some delays, detours and closed doors, but God is faithful and He can help us get to where we need to be as we trust and follow Him. I can identify with this quote by Dr. A.W. Tozer…”I rarely know where I am going in my life’s journey, but I look back and see that God has been leading my every step and I did not even know it.” Do not give into discouragement. Instead, continue to seek the Lord in all that you do and letting Him guide you.

The Holidays can be difficult..when you are hurting on the inside

What can you do when when the Holidays are not so happy for you? You are probably like me in that we have experienced both happiness and sadness during this festive time through the years. Sometimes we can’t wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas to get here and other times we struggle just to get through them because other difficult circumstances going on in our lives. Here are some helpful tips I have discovered to keep in mind that can help…

THERE IS ALWAYS A REASON TO BE THANKFUL

Charles Dickens, the author of the Christmas classic “A Christmas Carol”, gave this advice …”Reflect upon your present blessings, of which everyone has many, not your misfortunes, of which everyone has some.” We need to be thankful for what we do have and not be obsessed in our thinking about what we don’t have right now. That is such a key to maintaining a good attitude.

DO WHAT YOU CAN

I really like a song that that has been popular as we have been experiencing and going through the Covid 19 Pandemic. It is “Do What You Can” recorded by Bon Jovi and Jennifer Neetles. The chorus lyrics are: “Around here, we bend but we don’t break. Down here, we all understand when you can’t do what you do…you do as you can.” That is a good message for us today. We all need what we can each day, to take care of ourselves and help others.

MAKE GOD’S PRESENCE A PART OF YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE

That is what happen that very first Christmas when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. God sent His Son, Jesus to be our Savior. We need Him today just as much as the world needed Him then. Jesus was also called “Emanuel” which means “God is with us.” My favorite verse in the Bible is Psalm 68:13 which states “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Think about that for a moment. God is not only our Savior, He also wants to help us every single day. What a wonderful gift that God has given young me, the gift of His presence in our daily lives. Now that is something to be happy about and to celebrate, especially this season…

Don’t forget the Friendship Factor during the Pandemic

It has been increasingly obvious during the COVID-19 Pandemic that there are certain priorities we have found that are vital in our daily lives. Maintaining good physical, mental and spiritual health is paramount. In addition to our relationship with our family, our relationship with friends is  very important too. I firmly believe that God places good friends at different ages and stages in our lives. It is another way that He cares for us. Here are some great thoughts that highlight the importance of friendship..

“Friends love through all kinds of weather and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” – Proverbs 17:17 (MSG)

“A good friend will stick with you until you are unstuck.” – Winnie The Pooh

“Real friends are those who, when you have made a fool of yourself, don’t feel you have done a permanent job.” – Erwin T. Randall

“Friends come and go, but a true friend sticks with you like family.” – Proverbs 18:24 (MSG)

“The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless.” – Ezra Taft Benson

May I suggest, that we need to be better friends… in order to have good friends. We need to stay in contact with them and encourage them, and pray for them. At the same time, do not be too demanding and insensitive to their other responsibilities, needs, and schedules. Also, just listening to them instead of just doing all the talking ourselves can be helpful. It is really difficult to to visit people in person right now, but you can write a note or send a text or email when you think about them.. One of the great assets you and I can have to continue to enrich our lives is… good friends. Let us not take our friends for granted.

Why God gave us Tears…

I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina where the imbedded code of manhood had various key principles such as…”Big Boys Don’t Cry”. As I have grown older, I have learned to appreciate tears.
Tears are a healthy way to release the pressure that builds up inside during times of stress, crisis, or grief. Experts tell us that is really therapeutic and healthy for us to cry. I had a conversation with a nurse that worked in a Intensive Care Unit at a Children’s Hospital about how she coped with the stress of her work. She told me that there were times she would feel overwhelmed. When that occurred she would go outside during her break time and just cry to let go of some the tension. It is almost like a whistling tea kettle that lets off steam. It is good to let go of some of the pressure that builds up inside of us. If you keep suppressing it inside you can develop health issues and or you can be explode like a emotional volcano with rage and anger. That hurts us and often times those around us, It is much better to release the pressure gradually rather than all at once.
Although it is important to have a healthy control of our emotions, there are exceptions… Jesus, who was fully God and fully man and yet he wept. The shortest verse in all the Bible is “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). The occasion was at the the death of His friend Lazarus, he wept even though He would later raise him from the dead. Think about that a minute, the Creator, Great Physician, the Savior cried when He was told of the death of Lazarus. Why? Because Jesus loved Lazarus and his family.
When we are hurting it is an opportunity to turn to God who loves us so much. Jesus loves and cares for you and me just as he did for Lazarus! The Bible also teaches us that the Lord is “near the broken hearted” (Psalm 34:18). One translation (Contemporary English Version) describes this verse: “The Lord is there to rescue all who are discouraged and have given up hope.” When a child encounters hurt or pain, they will instictively run to an parent or grandparent who loves them, We are God’s children and we too should run to God our Heavenly Father who loves us so much.
Our tears are actually important to God. Psalm 56:8 (The Message Bible) states: ” You have kept track of my every toss and turn through sleepless nights. Each tear entered in Your ledger, each ache written in Your book.” You and I don’t have any idea about the number of tears we have cried through the years, but God does because He loves you and me. Tears remind us of our need for a loving God and that He is always there for us.So next time the tears come..let’s just Praise The Lord..let Him know what is on your mind and heart because He cares for you and me…

Keep on the Sunny Side of Life

“Keep on the sunny side,
always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life!
It will help us every day,
it will brighten all the way,
if we will keep on the sunny side of life”
These are the lyrics from a popular song originally recorded by the Carter family during the Great Depression Years in 1930’s.This little song became a favorite because of its upbeat tempo and uplifting lyrics. The song often played on the radio, and kept people encouraged during those very difficult times. It was originally written by Ada Blenkorn who was inspired by a phrase “Keep on the Sunny Side” frequently repeated by her disabled nephew who always wanted his wheelchair pushed down the sunny side of the street.
Now, all these years later, we need to keep on the sunny side of life. There is something special about a sunny day after a storm or rainy day that lifts our outlook and attitude. When the sun is shining it provides Vitamin D which is essential for good health.
We also need a spiritual Vitamin D too. Here a are few good sources of Vitamin D for our soul that I have found healthy and helpful. These are found in our relationship with Jesus, who is described as the Son of God…
S …Jesus is our SOURCE of SALVATION, SPIRITUAL STRENGTH , and eternal security.
O … Jesus is the ONLY ONE can give us the forgiveness we need to change our heart, mind, and soul
N… Jesus will NEVER leave us or forsakes us

Let the SON shine in ..to keep us on the Sunny Side of Life!

Moving from Broken Dreams toward New Opportunities

Everyone have some broken dreams to some extent.Things don’t always turn out like we thought they would; even if we have given our best effort, we still can have broken dreams. Some dreams are for ourselves personally, other dreams and aspirations maybe for our family, career and other things. Some of these expectations are spoken, while some of them are are hidden deeply in our heart and soul. Often though, life has a way of throwing us off course on to detours and disappointments. It is vitally important for us to know how to navigate from broken dreams and transition into new opportunities. Here are some ideas that I have found helpful.

BROKEN DREAMS DO NOT HAVE TO DEFINE US. They don’t have to define us but they can become part of a catalyst to refine us. This can be a time to turn your pain into gain. There is so much more to our lives than our disappointments. If you constantly dwell on the negative experiences you have encountered, they can define you and become your identity, trapping into all kind of doubts, fears , and frustrations keeping you from living a balanced life. A more healthy response would be to come to a place of acceptance, make peace with your past then grow and learn from it.
DEALING PROPERLY WITH BROKEN DREAMS CAN HELP US TO CLARIFY OUR PRIORITIES. They make us realize and reevaluate what is really important to us. Sometimes we make such a big deal in our minds about what we have missed that we forget how blessed we are with what we still have in the things and relationships that really matter. Dealing with broken dreams can be a time to simplify our lives and readjust our priorities and schedules to live a a more focused and purposeful life. This allows us to let go of the unnecessary and a time to focus on what is most important. The recovery from the pain of unfulfilled hopes and aspirations is a process that takes time, taking control of our response to it and doing what we can to adapt and adjust is the key to moving on from the land of broken dreams. With the help of the Lord; and others that love us, we can continue on the path to wholeness and new opportunities… “The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.” – Isaiah 58:11

Great Things about the Sea, Sand, and the Sun…

Recently, my wife and I got to spend some time on the coast of South Carolina. I really enjoy these experiences. For some reason, you do not have to force yourself to relax once you get there. The ocean envelopes you and invites you to rest, relax, recharge yourself emotionally and physically. It also gives your mind a break from the normal busy routine back home. It is a good opportunity to take some time to reflect on your life, and allow God speak to you in a special way. In fact, that is how my spiritual journey began in the 1970’s when I became a Christian at a church beach retreat. Now, years later, I am still yearning and learning more about how much God really does love us.
Here are some things I have been thinking about…
WE CAN NOT EVEN FATHOM HOW MUCH GOD LOVES US.
Psalms 139:17-8 describes it this way… “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand…”- (Psalm 139:17-18). Think about that, even if you pick up a handful of sand on the beach, you could not count all the grains of sand. If you love someone, you think about them often. People may forget us, but God never does stop thinking about us. It is just incredible how much God desires such a close relationship with you and me.
GOD IS WITH US EVERYDAY.
Just as the tide washes the beach clean after each day, so does God’s grace and mercy does our soul. Each new day is unique, with no footprints of where we have already been. It is a new start. We can also trust God to get us through difficult days. “ You make a way through the sea and paths through the deep waters, but Your footprints were not seen.” – (Psalm 77:19)
GOD’S LOVE IS AWESOME LIKE THE OCEAN.
God’s love is not limited, it is readily available at any time in our lives. We can count on that no matter what. I like what Amy Grant said about God’s love… “Salt water is the greatest component of our world, yet some people have never seen an ocean. That does not change the ocean, it is constant and powerful, and like the love of God, whether we are immersed in it, standing on the shore, or a thousand miles away, it remains.”
SUNRISES AND SUNSETS REFLECT THE BEAUTY OF GOD’S CREATION.
There is nothing more majestic in nature than a beautiful sunrise or sunset, especially at the beach. It is so colorful, and displays the the awesome power of the sun. They remind us of the importance and power of God’s light in our lives. C.S. Lewis said that “I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun. Not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else.” May we each day sense God’s presence, guidance, and perspective in our lives as we reflect God’s light and love with people we meet, from sunrise to sunset. Jesus noted to his followers that we are to be a light in the world, by sharing our faith an making a positive difference. Let us let God’s light and love shine through us today!