Preparedness

Again, I am on a journey. This is different in some ways from the journey I called a quest, but it still impacts me emotionally, rationally and spiritually. I think this is a good thing, but I sense some rough road ahead of me.

Any journey we embark on, needs to have preparation. But there are times when we are thrust out into uncharted territory without having a lot of time to prepare. Before that happens, it is wise to prepare for any eventuality that we can imagine. I often hear about people getting emergency preparedness kits in case there is a time when they might not have shelter or food. Some go as far as getting weapons and practicing with them in case they have need to protect themselves and family from attack. But are they ready for a time like that of those in the Middle East who have lost their homes and possessions and are left with nowhere to go but to wander to a strange land with only the clothes on their backs? An emergency preparedness kit might help if it is in a back pack that they can grab and run with. But that is only temporary. It is also only part of the preparation that they need. They will need to find water and purify it. They may need medical supplies, food and tools. But what they will need more than anything else is emotional and spiritual preparedness.

There are some things that I wish I had known when I was young. It would have changed the course of my life. But, the fact is that I did not know those things. More importantly, what I did know did not help as much as I thought it should because it was not experiential knowledge. It was not the kind of knowledge that is imbedded in the part of the heart that still works in an emergency or critical emotional time.

Did you know that when you experience truth during trauma or critical times, you are more likely to be able to respond appropriately in future critical times? But when we don’t experience that truth, we will have inappropriate responses in the future when the subconscious thinks that a critical event is occurring even when it is not. How do you face events that are stressful? Is your first response going to be fear, anxiety, anger, running away, or fighting? Or is your response going to be rational, calculated and even tempered?

I was fascinated when I had the opportunity to see myself on video recently. The first recording was of me setting up a system for video conferencing. I watched that several times because I have not seen a close up of me interacting with people. I first noticed the physical presentation. My thoughts were:

“My head looks like an egg with high cheek bones, swelling from inflammation, scars from traumatic memories. At least the scars are not big. My mouth moved in an odd way. My eyes are strong but too piercing. I see grandpa Kayser in some expressions, and grandma Remington in other expressions. Oh, there is an expression John (my brother) has. That is interesting. I can see from my facial expression and the movement of my eyes that I am trying to figure something out. This is strange looking at me as if I am looking at someone else; just observation, no judgement as to what kind of person they are. Hmmm. Is there kindness in my eyes, or just calculation? Just calculation because I am looking at a computer trying to figure out all the glitches. If this was not me, what would I be trying to figure out about them?”

After about the third time of watching I realized that I was looking to see what that person in the video was really like based on just observation. I realized that if I was just going to base my understanding of the person on only observation, I would really know very little about them. Yet we often do just that to those we meet. We decide fairly quickly what we think they are like and what they are thinking and feeling and what their motives are. From this exercise of watching myself on video, I learned that it takes time to know anything about people and we certainly cannot judge (decide) what they are thinking and feeling or what their motives are. In fact, the scripture tells us that only God knows the motives of the heart and he is the one who really knows our thoughts and feelings. (Prov 16:2; Ps 94:11)

So why am I talking about this? We often do not even know our own thoughts and motives unless we dig deep into our hearts to find those thoughts and motives. In Ps 139:23 David is telling God to search David’s heart to see if there is anything wicked in him. David wanted a pure heart before the Lord and understood that we do not always know our own hearts deep down, but God does. If we are willing to go to the deep places where we have pain and hurts and anger buried, God will meet us there and minister truth into those places. This is the preparation we need for future difficult times. If we prepare now, then we will be able to respond appropriately and quickly when the need arises. Our responses will also be made with the peace and calm of God in our hearts and the future outcomes will be more positive.

In the same way that we practice for accuracy and experiential knowledge for our body to remember how to quickly and easily accomplish tasks during crisis, we also need to make it a lifestyle practice to get our hearts and spirits into experiential memory shape so that we are ready for any crisis that may arise in the future.

The scripture talks about the fact that we will have difficult times. I do not believe that has anything to do with puberty issues or the fact that sometimes people are mean to us. I think it is talking about two things specifically. Those two things are 1) the end times and the suffering that comes with those evil events and 2) persecution both now and in the end times because we are believers in Christ the Lord. If we have anything in our heart’s hidden places that is not yet turned over to Christ to receive His ministry of truth, it will be too difficult to face persecution and do what is right before the Lord. We will default to that place of hurt or unforgiveness in our responses. Those places give a foothold to evil spirits who will make sure we are defeated and we will take down with us as many as we have influenced.

Someone who is licensed with a weapon must practice with their weapon so much that the cells of the body develop memory, enabling healthy defensive tactics when crisis shuts down the reasoning center of the brain. That is what will save their lives. In the same way, if we do what David did and ask God to search the depths of our heart and the hidden places to rout all lies and replace them with truth, and we continue to do that day in and day out every time we react in any way negatively to anything, we will be emotionally and spiritually prepared, even in crisis, to respond automatically in the right way and frame of mind. I know, that was a long sentence. But I am going to leave it the way it is, because it gives the message for us to make it a lifestyle as soldiers of Christ preparing for the battle to come. Our weapon is the mind and that is where the battle is. 1 Peter 1:13 says to prepare our minds. 2 Cor 10:5 says to take every thought captive?

How do we take thoughts captive? By inviting God into those places where the thoughts stir us up the way David did, and allowing God to minister His peace there. That is the process of preparing the mind.

Begin to engage in this practice of submitting every detail, emotion and response to the ministry of the Christ in your heart through the Holy Spirit. It will prepare you for every event in your future spiritually, emotionally and reactively.

Blessings!

Imojak

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Tired?

Are you tired? Have you poured your heart into something and grown weary in the process? You are not alone. In fact, it is so easy to grow weary in what you do that the scripture addresses the subject. Gal 6:9 says, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (ESV)

When the process takes a long time to see results, we get tired and discouraged. We get lost in the doing and lose sight of the end goal. When we are doing good and our eyes are on the Lord, we are strengthened, encouraged and energized in the work. The Lord is our source. If we remain in fellowship with Him and obedient to Him, we will not grow weary. There are several things to keep in mind.

1. Is what we are doing, what God has called us to do?

This is really important for us to know. If we are asked by God to do something, we can know we have His support in the process no matter how long it takes.

2. Are we doing it in our own strength?

Do we have the belief that the whole project or ministry or duty is on our shoulders alone? If God asks us to do something, He will carry us through it no matter how stressful, difficult or dangerous the job is. We are not alone. He will not leave us.

3. Are we trying to do our job and God’s job too?

Sometimes we think that when God asks us to do something or calls us into ministry, we are responsible for every aspect of it. The truth is that we are responsible for what God asks us to do. He is responsible for the soul work and changing hearts. We can not change people. We can’t even change our own hearts. But God can.

4. Are we spending time in the Word?

If we are spending time reading the Bible and meditating on it, we can be refreshed, encouraged and strengthened. If we do not spend time in the Word, we will become depleted, weary and discouraged.

5. Are we spending time developing our relationship with God?

God wants a personal relationship with us. It goes beyond reading the Bible and studying it. It involves us spending time talking to God and sitting quietly with Him listening to what He has to say about things. We can learn a lot about ourselves in that relationship, and a lot about God and how He wants to interact with us. He has not stopped communicating with us. We have stopped listening. Take the time when you read the word of God, to talk with Him and to listen. He desires relationship with us on a deeper level that we are usually not willing to allow. God will never contradict the scripture. It is His word after all. The deeper our relationship with Him develops, the more mature we become, and the more peace we have.

6. What is our attitude?

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV) 2 Corinthians 10:5b, “we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah.” (CJB) If we entertain thoughts that are not what God would approve of, we are removing the guard or protection from our hearts. We then develop sinful attitudes which lead us to sinful actions. It can also lead to discouragement and defeat.

7. What is the motive of our heart?

Our motives are important. Why are we doing what we are doing? Is it because God has asked us to do it and we love God so we obey, or is it because it makes us feel good about ourselves? Is there a bit of pride involved? Are we doing it grudgingly? If our motives are not upright before the Lord, we will become an easy target for spiritual attack.

If we are becoming weary of doing good, you can be sure that there is something in our own hearts that needs attention. Let’s bring it before the Lord and hear His heart so that we can grow and be encouraged.

I know of a missionary who worked for thirty years amongst an Islamic group. On human terms, it was a waste of time and energy, a total failure. Not one person came to know Christ in all the years he served there. Often he would become discouraged but he continued on because God had called him and He trusted that eventually, God would reap a harvest. A few years after the missionaries death, his son felt the call to that same group. He argued with God telling Him of all the struggles his father had there and the wasted effort his father had put into those people. God continued to lay on the son’s heart to go back to those people. So he went. He wanted to please God. He returned to the village and began to minister to the people. There was a new chief as the old chief had died. The young chief came to the missionary and told him about his missionary father. He said, “Your father never gave up on us. Now you have come to tell us about Jesus, just like your father did. Because you and your father have been faithful to God, I will accept Jesus as my savior.” That young chief accepted the Lord and the whole village followed. From that place, many have gone to be missionaries. God is faithful. He continued to work in the hearts of the people to draw them to himself. The harvest is God’s.

If you are weary of doing good, please refresh your soul in communion with the one who can strengthen. Trust Him with the end results. Do your job well and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matt 25:21 (NIV) God is responsible for the harvest. Our sole job is to be obedient to Him and to remain in communion with Him; to “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18

That is How we can serve without growing weary.

Blessings to you all!

Imojak

Integrity

What is integrity? Oxford Dictionary defines it this way: 
NOUN

1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness:

“he is known to be a man of integrity”

synonyms: honesty · probity · rectitude · honor · good character ·

[more]

2. the state of being whole and undivided:

“upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”

synonyms: unity · unification · coherence · cohesion · togetherness ·

[more]

• the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction:

“the structural integrity of the novel”

synonyms: soundness · strength · sturdiness · solidity ·

[more]

• internal consistency or lack of corruption in electronic data:

“integrity checking”

 I find this definition very interesting in light of the morals and values of today’s world. What is right and wrong seem to have been flipped. Our moral compass is no longer pointing to the one true North, God and His word. We have even begun, in the Church, to follow the corrupt compass of the world and are mixing that with our sense of Christianity, distorting what God said is truth. This is an abomination before the Lord. We need to get our act together and re-learn what is right and wrong using God’s word as our compass. Yes it will isolate us and make us a target for the world to accuse us of wrong doing. But if we don’t get these things sorted out in our lives, we lose our integrity before God who is the only one whose opinion matters in this regard. Without integrity, we are no different than the world in its sinfulness and selfish living. If I do not have integrity, I have an idol that I worship; that idol is self. “You shall have no other gods before me!” Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:4-21 

All sin is self worship. Even the tiniest sin breaks the first commandment. If you break one commandment you have broken them all because they all flowing out of the first one. It is a good thing that we have a gracious God. The penalty of sin is death. He made a way for us to not have to suffer the consequences of our sin. Before He ever created us, He knew we would fail. He gave us the right to choose. We chose sin. But before He created us, He also planned a way for us to be redeemed. That means, our sin caused us to become slaves to sin and the author of sin, Satan. The only way for a slave to be freed is to be purchased by someone who will set them free. So, what was the set purchase price? Death is the price. How can God redeem/purchase us? He Has to pay the price. So He sent His son to take on human flesh and live here with us. He went through everything but did not sin. Because of that, He qualified to be the perfect sacrifice. He was beaten, mutilated and then hung on a cross to fulfill the law and purchase us back. But He has never taken our choices away from us. God owns us but has given us freedom. We have a right to choose Him because He paid the penalty for us. In that, we are free when we choose Christ. All we have to do is acknowledge Him to be Lord and master in our lives. Accept Him as our redeemer. Declare to the world that our allegiance is now to God forever. And then walk obedient to His word. That means that we must build integrity according to what God wants for us rather than what we want. We are now servants of the King of Kings, Jesus the Christ/Messiah. There is no freedom without Him. Paul wrote in Galatians, “It is for freedom that we were set free.” We must not return to the darkness where we were slaves. Do not take in the practices that enslaved us. In Revelation Christ gave a revelation to John. Jesus said he had something against 6 of the churches. One of the things Jesus has against the church is that they were incorporating sinful practices into their lives. They were also distorting the scriptures allowing people to lead them the wrong way. Faithfulness is part of integrity. If we are not faithful to what God has taught us in the scriptures, our integrity crumbles.

Integrity is a cohesive holding together of what is right making it strong. It is being faithful with right attitudes and actions. It is a building of truth in the inner man, the heart. It is honesty even when there are consequences that we do not like. Nobody can steal your integrity. But, you can allow it to erode and fall away. 

Think about what is going on in your heart and your church. You can make a difference with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Build integrity into your life. You will be blessed.

Imojak

Who Am I?

Who Am I? What are my character qualities? Have I been changing or growing stagnant? Am I the kind of person who draws people and points them to Christ? Or am I someone who obscures the image of Christ? What in me prevents someone from seeing who Christ is?

These are questions I have been asking myself. We are all people in the process of becoming. What we become can be determined by several factors.  

1. Where is my focus?

2. Do I have a plan?

3. Am I engaged in the implementation of that plan?

4. Are there things in my life that distract or side track me?

5. What am I doing about those things.

When I was a young teen, my mother saw something in me that was not healthy. Her response to it was to ask me if I planned to just float, allowing life to take me wherever it will. I really thought about that and decided that I did not want to just be a floater. But I did not know how to change that pattern in my life. I struggled with that for many years learning little tidbits here and there. But I still did not know how to make the big changes that I needed to make. I was living in a fog and could not see what was coming next. I was focused inwardly to my pain instead of seeing down the road to anticipate my next moves. I did not have a plan. At the time, I did not know I needed one. I did not know where to focus. So, I could not see what needed to be seen. 

We all have areas of life that need improvement. How am I responding in my relationships? Am I acting, or reacting? What happens to us gives us an opportunity to develop character and to grow. How am I responding to what is happening? Am I reacting and getting upset? Or am I responding in a godly way? 

What is godliness? I believe that godliness is simply the process of developing godly character and using that in every situation of life. What is godly character? It is Christ likeness. Paul tells us to put on the mind of Christ. That does not happen automatically. In fact, it sometimes looks like the opposite of what we think needs to be. Love those who hate you and do good to those who persecute you? How do you do that? The process of becoming godly or Christ like is a process that involves change. Now, who likes change? Changes sometimes means that we need to get uncomfortable for awhile. But if we want to build good godly character, we need to be willing to change. That means that we need to be willing to admit that there needs to be change in our hearts. 

Because change is not easy, and in some cases is terrifying because we have to leave our comfort zone, we must learn what is truly safe and what is not. We must also determine in our hearts that we are going to enter into this quest and not turn back. That is the activation of choice. Did you know that not making a choice is still making a choice? If we are going to be making choices no matter what, then we must choose whether our choices are going to be toward character building or toward character decay. Those are truly the first choices we make everyday. 

So, lets assume that we want our lives to improve and we want to build character to make our lives improve. What is the first step? My first step each day needs to be to acknowledge Christ as Lord of my life for this day. That needs to happen the moment I begin to be aware of my surroundings as I wake up in the morning. Then I must thank Him for what He is going to do in my heart this day. That is the first exercise. It focuses my mind on God acknowledging who He is and who I am in relationship to Him. 

If I start a day without doing this, I know it is going to be a miserable day. But that is a choice I can make if I want to. But I do not have a right to blame anyone else for my miserable day. My misery comes from within my own heart. Being disciplined with my choices is just the beginning of sweeping out the garbage in my heart. That garbage controls me and makes demands of me. Maintaining it is exhausting. I just want to get rid of it so that I have a clean heart that the Lord can dwell in. My heart is God’s dwelling place. I am filled with the Holy Spirit. I want Him to work in me building godly character so that His dwelling place will be pure; a holy place for Him. 

So what is the next important thing to do after I set my focus on God? Put on the armor of God. We are entering into a battle field that requires a special dress code for our safety. The helmet of salvation protects our minds against doubts and attacks against our knowledge of who we are in Christ. The breastplate of righteousness covers us with the righteousness of Christ and protects our hearts against the lies that cause us to sin if we believe those lies. Without the breastplate, we are at the mercy of the attacks of the accuser, the devil, who will continually bring up the things we have done wrong and will make us believe we have done wrong when we have not. The breastplate covers the heart where our emotional experiences reside. Then there is the belt of truth. I think that holds us up so we are not overwhelmed by the lies we are bombarded with. The shield of faith is something you have to hold to protect your self. Faith holds us steady against the onslaughts of the devil. It keeps us going by not allowing the darts through. The feet are fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. The sword of the spirit is the word of God. Read Eph 6:10-18. These things are necessary because we are in battle, but the battle is not with family, friends or other people. It is with evil spirits who attack us using those who are undisciplined in their spiritual life. 

Putting on the armor of God is a necessary daily practice. Spend time in the word of God. Know it as well as possible. It is our guide and comfort. It can be used to prevent attacks from reaching our hearts. But the next thing is to make sure you are not allowing anything to control your mind. Be alert. Be aware of your own heart and its responses to things. Teach yourself discipline in your responses. If you struggle with an ungodly response to something, take it to the Lord. Spend time with every part of your heart in communion with God. Ask Him to minister to the struggle you are having and allow Him to minister in His way. He knows better than you what will change your heart. 

Throughout the day, keep returning to your focal point, God, and give Him thanks and praise. It will refresh you all through the day. Every time you react to something, immediately take it to the Lord so you can learn what He wants to teach you in it. The last thing you can do in your character building quest is at night before you sleep, go to the Lord and thank Him in the places where He helped you to grow. Acknowledge before Him where you still need to grow and ask Him to prepare your heart through the night for the things He has for you the next day. 

This is a journey of faith and challenge, requiring self discipline and choices. The longer you stay on this path, the more you will grow. You will begin to like what God is doing in you and eventually, through you in others as a result of your faithfulness. Just remember, the more you do this, the more challenged you will be. Satan will attack you. But know this; all attacks are opportunities to grow in Christ. Do not be discouraged. You are on a journey where you are the winner if you stick with it. 

Praying for you all!!

Imojak

Warm versus Cold Culture?

At lunch today I was discussing Warm and Cold cultures with a couple of friends. I find it interesting, the differences in culture as related to whether that culture is from a warm or cold geographical zone. I am pondering whether the differences are due to the geography or the beliefs about dependence versus independence. There seems to be a correlation between Warm Culture and community based thinking. There also seems to be a correlation between Cold Culture and independence based thinking.

Read about it here: http://www.ubahouston.org/filerequest/5452

This is a summary paper about a book on the subject.

I would like to propose that Followers of Jesus Christ may need to begin to learn a new culture. We tend to stick within our perceived cultural boundaries, and for good reason. It helps us to know who we are and what is considered to be appropriate behavior. It tells us where we belong in this world.

Culture is filled with beliefs that do not line up with what the scripture teaches us about who we are and where we belong. Perhaps that is because we do not belong in this world. If we were to live with a biblical culture perspective, I believe, we would behave differently toward each other. We would be warm culture minded in relationship and cold culture minded in duty while working out the wrinkles that hold us back spiritually.

Scripture clearly teaches us what our Spiritual culture is supposed to be.

1. We are to be in relationship with God being taught and guided by the Holy Spirit in our inner being.

2. We are to be in relationship with each other, helping each other to grow in Christ and encouraging, exhorting and loving each other.

3. We are to be honest in all our dealings with God, humans and our own hearts.

4. We are not supposed to tolerate sin in our own hearts.

5. We are to help others to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

6. We are to serve God and others

7. We are to be patient and kind

8. And many other things which define us as being of the family of God, in fellowship with God, loving God enough to serve him and others with our whole heart.

There are so many aspects to the teaching of what our heavenly kingdom is and who we are in it. But too often, we respond to life from an earthly culture perspective. That is because we do not yet believe in our innermost being, that we are born into the culture of the kingdom of heaven. We are like people who visit a country that has a culture that is foreign to us. We do not seem to know how to behave and become who God says we are.

The only thing that hinders us is our belief in who we are in Christ. We believe we are in this world and must therefore behave like we are of this world. That is false. We are ambassadors of God’s kingdom to this world. An ambassador must believe in the country or kingdom he represents in order to be effective while not in his country/kingdom. He must know who he is in relationship to his leader/king. He must behave in a way that truly represents his king. It is not his duty to become like the people of the culture or country he visits though he must respect the people and learn how to relate to them appropriately.

Who are we? Who do we serve?

These questions will tell us if we are living from the mindset of an earthly culture or a heavenly culture. As our earthly culture grows darker and darker, it is so important for us to remember who we are in Christ and to be obedient to Him. He is our king, lord and master. It is easy to get side tracked and lose sight of who we are in Christ. We do live in a dark world. It takes self discipline to keep truth in our thoughts as we face the challenges of living here. That is why application of kingdom culture is just as important as the knowledge of kingdom culture. You cannot apply what you do not know.

Study the word of God as if it is a kingdom culture primer, teaching us who we are and how we must behave. Application of this knowledge will help you to know in your heart where you belong as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Blessings to you as you seek Him and engage in this challenge with me.

Imojak.

Struggles

We all have struggles. We all have reasons that we do not feel good either physically or emotionally. What we do in those times either make us or break us. Our responses are either fleshly or character building. We cannot just slide through life and expect to come out on top of things. We need to be vigilant at all times because the devil, our enemy, is determined to destroy us. His plan is to feed us enough lies that we will destroy ourselves in the process of living life. 

I love to people watch. It tells me a lot about them and how they manage their lives. In the process of watching people, I have learned a few things about human nature. Our default is to respond to life with fleshly patterns. If we get upset by something, our nature says to react, to take a defensive posture. We do not like feeling bad, so we cover it up by getting angry, pushing people away, or running away. Sometimes we blame others for how we feel. Sometimes we try to get other people to change so that we can feel more comfortable. None of these things are truly helpful to us. In fact, they put us into bondage to the very things that make us feel bad, our inner faulty belief systems. 

Did you know that other people cannot make us angry? We choose that for ourselves. Other people simply cannot make us feel things. Our feelings come from inside our own hearts; from our own beliefs. If I feel hurt in a circumstance, it is because of what I already believe about myself. If I believe a lie about myself, it will hurt when people make comments. If I believe the truth about myself, nothing they say or do can change that. I will still be at peace with myself. I might not like my circumstances, but I can have perfect peace in the midst of those circumstances.  

Knowledge about who we are in Christ is vital to being able to weather the storms of life. We are christians. That means we will be under attack because the devil does not want us to continue to follow Christ and grow in Him. Jesus told us to expect troubles in this life. Some of us will have more trouble than others. But, we can go through all of it with peace and joy. Why do you think that Paul and Silas sang while they were in stocks in prison? It was because they knew who they were in Christ. They understood that all adversity is, not from the people who perpetrate sin against us, but from cosmic and demonic forces who attack us through people to get at God. Why? Because they hate God and God loves us. They will attack those God loves. That means they are using people to attack us hoping to steal us away from God and destroy us, the beloved of God. The only true power Satan has in our lives is in the lies we believe. 

Mind renewal is critical to our spiritual well being as children of God. Our bodies respond to our emotional belief system. Negative emotions can cause huge health problems because our emotions affect our bodies. Some emotions can cause heart attacks, strokes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and so on. (Research the studies for yourselves. It will be eye opening.) With mind renewal, we can be rid of the strongholds that keep us from being able to respond to life with peace and joy. Through out the scriptures there are teachings on this very topic. There are many methods to receive mind renewal, but keep in mind that hearing from the Lord, what He has to say to us in each of our circumstances, is the only way for it to stick in our heart. True mind renewal brings a lasting peace in each circumstance and memory where we receive it. It is a process that involves each part of our heart, the functioning part that knows how to put on a mask so that you can get things done, the guarding part of our heart that defends us under attack, and the emotion part of the heart where we feel the deepest hurts. To be truly free from bondage, we must receive truth into the very core of our being, even where the secret rooms are. The more places we receive the truth of God in our hearts, the more godly will be our responses to life and the more peace we will have. 

My prayer for you today is for the Lord to enrich you with His truth and peace in your inner most being.

God Bless! 

Imojak 

Relationship

Life is not simple. A lot of things happen in life that we don’t like. We don’t have to like it. We don’t have to accept it. We don’t have to pretend. What we need to do for our selves is to be honest and real. Find someone safe to bounce things off of. Pray about what bothers us. When we blow it, go to God to deal with what we are feeling. Then, go to the person we are struggling with and ask them to forgive us. We may blow it right away again. I guess the saying is, “wash, rinse, repeat.” Why should we do this?

We were designed by God for relationship, even those of us who are not outgoing and would rather spend time alone. No one can be healthy in solitude if that is where we stay. Some alone time is healthy for everyone, even those who thrive when people are around. The key is balance, in relationship, with the personality God gave us. I like to spend time alone. But, if I spend all my time alone, I miss out on the maturing, growth and healing that come from relationship with others. If I spend too much time with others, I feel drained and exhausted. I have a friend who thrives when she is with people. That contact energizes her. Being alone for short periods of time is all she needs of aloneness. But we all need relationship.

Why did God create us with the need for relationship? It is in the challenges of relationship that we have the opportunity to grow and mature. We learn best when we are challenged. Our brains are activated or awakened by relational input. The challenges of living in relationship cause the rough edges to begin to rub off, smoothing and enriching our lives. When we give up on our friends, relatives, and others who bring pain into our lives, we short circuit the process that God is using to renew our minds and make us into the people He wants us to be, pure and holy before Him.
That does not mean that you have to take abuse.

Ultimately, God created us for relationship with Him. In the process of interacting with people, we can learn how to relate to God, and often, how not to relate to God. As we go to God and spend time with Him, He in turn, teaches us how to relate to people. We need both. Here on earth, we are in training. Some people call it boot camp because it is difficult. But our season on earth is a time where we can be conformed to the image of God. My dad was my hero. As a child I would follow him around and imitate him. I wanted to be like him. We had a father daughter relationship. I adored him. That is the relationship God wants with us. When I did wrong, my parents disciplined me. The scripture teaches us that those the Lord loves, he disciplines. He uses difficult things in our lives to teach us. If we respond to it with anger, the lesson is lost on us and we need that lesson again. God is faithful to keep bringing into our lives the things that will give us the opportunity to learn what we need to learn. Relationships are not easy. We are each different from each other. We think differently. We respond differently. So there are bound to be clashes. In the midst of those clashes, our response will either be godly or ungodly. We can be helpful or hurtful. It is our choice how we respond to God and others. But our responses sometimes cause conflict with others as well. Life with people is simply messy. There is no getting around that. We are all in process learning, growing, making mistakes, trying again. But God can use it all to make us better, stronger, more full of life, wiser, and more like Him.

The challenges we face are not something to avoid or run from. They are there to help us know where we need to grow in Christ, to be conformed to His image. When we are willing to face our pain and deal with the issues we are going through, God can redeem it and make us better, more peaceful children of God. Spend time developing your relationship with God. Learn everything you can about Him and about relationships. It will help you relate to the people He brings into your life in healthier ways.

God bless!

Imojak