The philosopher Neal Don Walsch in the book, “Conversations with God,” asked God after several professional and personal failures the question, “Where are you?”
According to Don, God responded to his complaint with, “I am in your highest, grandest thought.”
Thoughts come and go. You can’t anticipate the next one. What you can do is meditate on the thoughts that are from God.
Thoughts that bring love, life, joy and fulfillment. God sends these thoughts and gives you a choice. You can “think on these things” or think on things that tear you down emotionally. God will send these thoughts to you. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the ‘thoughts’ I’m thinking about you.” Grab (meditate) on His thoughts. When you meditate (this means as a practice choosing God’s thoughts over others) Those thoughts bring answers. Those thoughts bring miracles. Those thoughts bring inventions – things that do not currently exist to a world that needs God’s new things.
Speaking of the world, right now is your time to heal it. Ask God for His thoughts. Think on these things.
14.8 Million adults in the United States suffer from depression. If you are reading this article and you are suffering from depression, please get help.
I know the feeling. Depression and disappointment makes a heavy heart. Feels like Langston Hughes’ description of heart ache “Does it weigh down like a heavy load or does it explode?” My mother used to say that her heart hurt so bad she wishes she could take it out and put it on the counter.
But there are a few steps I’ve learned over the years that seem to help me shake these blues.
Pray now. This seems obvious, but “you have not because you ask not” James 4:2 becomes their reality. But God is interested in every part of our lives, including our depressive thoughts. One prayer I pray is a prayer of exchange that asks God to take the thought that is depressing and heal it. I expect God to help change my thoughts so that I can see differently. For example, “Lord, I give this concern about my job to you. I give it to you for healing.” Scripture tells us to pray right then for relief. You don’t have to wait until you go home or are off from work. You can pray at the beginning of a harmful thought.
Fast from Wrong Thinking. My sister asked me one day, “How are you doing?” Glad she asked, I began explaining all of my ruminations about the world and all of it’s problems. I was very depressed. Then, she asked a simple question, “What are you thinking?” This was the real reason for the depression. My mind was a host site for negative, nonproductive thoughts. We can replace these negative thoughts with the Word of God so that our minds are abstaining (fasting) from idol thoughts and deliberately thinking of His promises.
Be Grateful. Sometimes, we are depressed because we wanted something and it didn’t happen as anticipated. Then, our attention is on what we didn’t get from God instead of all of the things He has done. One of the ways to overcome the blues is to pay attention to those things that are working. Pay attention to good things such as loving relationships, your pet, the beauty in nature and the fact that you were able to get up this morning. Holding those things in your mind as a meditation will break the cloud of depression and allow you to see that God is still with you.
Do What God Tells You to Do. There is power and deliverance from following God’s instructions. Some of us are depressed because we know that God has given us an instruction – “something” He wants us to do and we’re running from it. These instructions can be difficult, challenging and frightening. So, we ignore the instruction and try to keep going. This can lead to depression and anxiety. There is a simple solution ask God, “What would you have me to do?” And ask for His help. And, He will answer your prayer. Following His instructions could free you from depression.
Then, praise God for the victory. He knows about you, cares and He has the answer.
We have 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts per day, many repeats like “What will I have for dinner?” But some are random, like this number that flashed across my mind in black and white several weeks ago.
As random thoughts go, I forgot about it, but then the random thought repeated, popped into my head while thinking about something else. Time passed but the number didn’t.
After telling my husband about it, he mused, “that could be a winning lottery number.” I laughed. Then, went on with my life.
But random number repeated, flashing across my mind, three, gray numbers that appeared like a black-and-white TV show from the 60’s. The number is mixed with a feeling, an impression. It’s not just seeing the number but feeling it in some way. And by the way, the number is disassociated with any number that repeats in my life such as my phone number, birthday or anniversary. It truly is random.
So, I asked God to tell me what to do with the number.
But then, on my father’s birthday the number appeared again and this time the “impression” was with a sense of urgency. I sensed that I was to do something with the number right then and I wondered if it really was the winning lottery number.
Now, there’s a little rabbit-trail to make with this story. My father taught me a lot about money – to make it, cherish it, use it. He didn’t serve money but money did serve him, taking care of a family of girls on a manufacturing worker’s pay. Since he has passed away I’ve seen in my mind him throwing coins into a body of water.
Back to the numbers story. So, I went to my favorite grocery store and had a nice chat with the clerk who had to explain to me how to play. Using the ‘one-off’ option for the Daily 3, I bet a very small amount with the hopes of increasing my chances of winning. When playing one off the ticket plays numbers one-off from the number you bet. For example, if you played “123,” “234” is a winning number.
I put the ticket in my purse.
That night around 12:00 midnight I got an impression that the number I was seeing and that I played was the winning number.
I googled “winning lottery numbers” for my state. And, guess what, it was the winning lottery number on my father’s birthday.
Here’s the catch. Since I played “one-off” I didn’t win. When you play one off the actual number you pick isn’t played but one-off of the number.
I was happy anyway – here’s why.
The number that was “flashing” in front of me I still believe was God speaking because He’s spoken to me before using His Word, but He also speaks through experiences, just as He did to people in the Bible.
The message to me from this experience was you did win the lottery. Look at your life. It is filled with experiences of God providing over and over again in “random” ways.
I’m a winner anyway – winning lottery number or not. Although I’m not opposed to God using that method if He chooses to.
It’s 6:00 pm. I’m tired. I’ve just left work. Speeding out of the parking lot to get to my home, my sanctuary I remember…
No food. Got to make a quick stop at the grocery store on the way home.
While in the store and trying to remember if there are eggs in the refrigerator, I hear this scream.
A woman is running toward me, arms flailing, screaming at the top of her lungs and crying, “Oh, my God, my purse! Where’s my purse?”
Like a freeze mob, strangers in the grocery store stop and look around to locate the scream. Then within seconds like Clark Kent to Superman these grocery store heathens become helpers. Some become investigators asking her questions about her purse, others runners, sprinting to the parking lot to search carts, some reporters explaining to the security officer and store manager the facts as they knew them and another a confidant that listened as she lamented, “My life is in that purse.”
After a few frantic moments the purse was found. Another stranger placed it in the lost and found and her “life” was returned. Nothing was stolen. Afterwards, someone said, “She was going to give me a heart attack. I was so worried.”
Wait, what just happened here? What turned grocery-store shoppers into super heros? The complacent into caregivers? Strangers into servants? Heathens into helpers.
Compassion. It focuses you on more important things, things greater than self.
Before her scream, we were all dragging ourselves into the grocery store to get Hamburger Helper. Before her scream, we were listening to the voices in our head, wallowing in our own anxious thoughts. Before her scream, we were scattered. Afterwards, focused. Before, self-absorbed. Afterwards, listeners. Before face-to-iPhone. Afterwards, face-to-face.
I am grateful to God for changing my focus from myself to others, to serving. I could keep up acts of service while serving the green beans at dinner tonight. I could make the dinner experience more delicious by focusing a little less on myself, and a little more on family and friends. I could become focused, attentive, listening, face-to-face instead of face-to-iPhone. I could keep it going, giving and receiving His compassion.
Does God give us what we want, like a job, car, house, a mate?
Or, does He only give us spiritual “wants” such as righteousness, peace and joy?
And is it better to ask God for spiritual things versus material things? Is it OK to ask for both?
Let’s look at our ultimate example, Jesus.
Did Jesus pray for material things? Answer: Yes.
Did Jesus pray for spiritual things? Answer: Yes.
Does God answer both types of prayers?
Answer: Yes, and sometimes when you pray you will get what you want. Here’s my testimony.
My sister, mother and I were at breakfast diving into our favorite pancakes, breakfast hash and bacon when I said, “I have lost something.”
My sister said, “what?”
I said, “my antioxidant serum.”
This is not an advertisement for skincare, but this product is so effective that it clears up my dry skin problems within a few days. But, it’s not cheap. So, when I was able to buy the product using my VISA points, the modern day version of S&H stamps, I was really excited.
And, really disappointed when I misplaced this jar of liquid gold and couldn’t find it – anywhere.
But right then, I had a flashback about an experience years before losing something.
It was a gold-plated stereo thing-a-ma-bob, an adapter I used to mix cassette tapes of music and sermons for my mother.
I was disappointed when I lost it because my mother enjoyed my mixtapes so much. So, I prayed to God to help me find it. Within a few moments the stereo adapter and its location appeared across the screen of my mind, like it appears above. I went right to it and was my mother’s DJ again.
God answered my prayer.
Fast forward to the present problem. Hadn’t I lost something? Hadn’t I wanted it? Is God still the same? Hadn’t I prayed . . . . .
Wait a minute, nope, negative, nein, nyet I hadn’t prayed. So, right then, I did. Prayed I mean. Seems frivolous, right, to pray about a missing skin care product, but it worked years ago, maybe it would work now.
So, I asked God to help me find it, thanked Him. Forgot about it.
A few days after praying, I was driving into my garage, and felt “a nudge” to look in our recycle trash bin. I opened the bin and sitting right on top was this…
There it was…perfectly intact, the full jar not even dirtied-up with the other recycled trash nor a drop of it spilled. I thanked God for hearing me.
So, you may be saying I’ve prayed for things and didn’t get them.
Yes, that happens, but many times I have prayed and many times I have gotten exactly what I wanted.
So, am I lucky? No. Is this situation unusual? I don’t believe so.
If you are a praying person, who walks and stumbles trying to walk with God and you look back over your life, you’ll see that you too have gotten what you wanted.
Let me tell you what I’m not saying – I’m not saying that God is your magician or that praying is like playing the”Ask the 8 Ball” game, where you ask a question and the 8 ball answers with a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” God wants a relationship with you, experiences with you. Those experiences include answered prayer. But those experiences also include uncertainty, struggle, waiting and wondering if He will answer. Those experiences include times of laughter and tears, sorrow and joy. He wants you to know Him, like any other relationship. What makes Him sad, angry, happy, laugh, what’s important to Him. And He wants to talk to you, give you answers to what you want that are richer, more beautiful than just “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” He’s nuanced, splendid, dynamic and complicated. He’s all together lovely and all together loving.
And, He answers prayer
But rather seek ye first the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
Fear not little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Luke 12:31-32
Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11
Whatever you ask the Father in my name, I will do it. John 14:14
Message from Momma on Prayer
My Momma left a message on my voice mail that I’ve played many times for encouragement. You can hear it below. May it speak to your heart. She calls me “Pookie Tail” as a term of endearment.
At the beginning of each New Year, my goal is “clean up your office. “2016 was no different. So, I started tidying up, getting rid of clutter from as far back as 2006 and in a few days there was a garbage bag full of stuff to purge.
I get such joy from purging these piles of paper, converting them to trash. But this year my joy was interrupted by my reflection, realization that in a few months I’ll be right back where I started – clutter-stuffed. January’s clean desk becomes June’s cluttered desk.
So to break this clean-to-clutter cycle, I turned to an expert, Marie Kondo, author of the book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” where Kondo provides instructions on purging piles, organization and life. One of Kondo’s cures for clutter is what I’m calling the “joy” test – if you put something in your hands and that “thing,” whatever it is, doesn’t spark joy, thank the “thing,” and then, get rid of it. There are more steps to this process including what and how to organize what’s left, but one key first step is get rid of stuff that doesn’t bring you joy. So, I became an archaeologist of what was left in my filing cabinets – excavating artifacts that revealed a historical preoccupation with “things” collected from prior employers. Chart below summarizes the paperwork, documents, “things” that were in my piles:
So, when you think “performance review,” or “resume,” would that bring you joy? How ’bout “work products?” Probably not.
And some things just provoked straight up fear – why am I keeping medical insurance elections from 2010?
How bout two hard copies of that nasty email someone sent in 2012?
PURGE things that are harmful – I’m especially dealing with holding on to destructive stuff – physical and especially emotional things that the Bible calls “weights.” Don’t let these pile up! Weights can be things holding you back – fear, anger, sadness, guilt, unforgivingness, destructive relationships.
Going forward, don’t even let these “things” in.
Physical clutter is a manifestation of mind and heart clutter.
KEEP things that are useful – things that make you happy, stuff that brings joy, fulfillment or improves your productivity.
Looking at all of my piles, “Keepsakes” was the smallest pile and gave me the most joy because this pile was of pictures of friends, family, letters of encouragement, cards of appreciation and even jokes.
So, for 2016, here’s my high-level “To Do” list:
And SHAKE OFF those “weights” that bog down mind and spirit.
Let’s tidy up.
Philippians 3:12-14 The Message I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
How many books are in King James Version of the Old Testament? (Answer is below.)
How many books are in the King James Version New Testament?
The KJV has 783,137 words that include precepts, principles, stories of life experiences.
Just like the trials of life, some books in the Bible are very long, (Psalms) some very short (Jude).
But no matter what beautiful Bible book you read, it comes to an end.
Just like your trials.
Exodus 2 explains that trials end at the end of the chapter.
But first, Exodus 2 has a whole lot of stuff happening. Don’t skip a verse – you will miss something important. A few highlights, Moses the deliverer of the children of Israel was born, then, raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, grew up, got mad because of the way a Hebrew was being treated and killed a man, then fled to Midian, got married, had children. Normal every day-in-day out happened to Moses – etc, etc, etc.
But then, God interrupted the “average” life of Moses, and the ongoing tyranny the children of Israel were experiencing. A word came and that word was, “God heard their groaning and He remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.” (Exodus 2:24)
Next chapter, Exodus 3, there’s a word that appears and re-appears. In both the NIV and the King James Version it’s the same word.
That word is “Now.”
See verse 9
“Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me.”
Insert your name for “the children of Israel” in the sentence below
“Now therefore, behold the cry of (insert your name) is come unto me (God).”
That’s the word God is saying to you.
Yahweh has heard your cry.
I don’t know why you are crying. That is between you and God. The children of Israel wanted to be freed from slavery. And God’s promise to them was this-
“And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.” (Exodus 3:21-22)
God delivered them out of bondage and into prosperity. God delivered them out of oppression and into freedom. God delivered them out of torment and into peace. God delivered them out of tyranny and into justice. Out of fear, into faith. Out of disappointment, into hope. Out of death into life. Out of darkness, into light. Out of closed doors, into opened doors. Out of a long time of suffering then finally to deliverance.
This is for you, now comes deliverance. This is the end of your trial. Psalms 126:3.
When I was a child literally I would walk into walls, earning the name “jinks.”
The fact that any of us walk is somewhat amazing, because it is one of the most difficult things for us to learn, yet we walk. Crawling, then from walker to walking.
If you are around a little one, you see that look of glee when they realize they have done it!
Learning to walk is just like all of the growth experiences we have. Growing means change. You balance a few times, but you get back up because the alternative is to stay the same. And staying the same disables the spirit and the body. So, you wobble, unsure of yourself, because at any moment you could fail. And then, you may wonder what people think…Some are watching to see if you will succeed. Others may be sent to help you. Nevertheless, this is your journey of discovery.
This is growth. We grow in vulnerability. And change makes us vulnerable. Whether it’s changing jobs, cities, lifestyles, life partners, change you must. Growth may be frightening, but staying the same is much more damaging to the human spirit.
It’s about the journey and not the destination and there are way more journeys in life than destinations. Enjoy your process. If you are struggling trying to grow, ask God for help. He is the ultimate Helper.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; John 14:16
Another “Message from Mama” article for the write31days challenge.
According to the book of Dot, there are some things that work and some that don’t.
Don’t let one set back destroy your life. You will make mistakes. You are human. That’s okay. Mourn what you’ve lost, but then, it’s over. Go on with your life, to your next challenge or next fun thing to do. God isn’t holding a setback against you. He loves you.
Dictate to your husband what to do. If you demand that a man do something, this is almost a guarantee that he will not do it. If you want him to do something, anything, pray first. Discuss the problem and work on things together. God may direct the two of you to a better option than the one you came up with alone. And, if your husband does what you want, thank God and then say, “Honey, what a great idea you came up with.”
Don’t take your anger out on your child, teach them. God knows your nervousness (stress). You may get frustrated and want to take it out on your child, but don’t. Instead, calm down. Slow down. Pray. Listen to him/her. If they are acting out, find out what’s wrong first. The child may genuinely have a problem. Remember they are just “little people.”
Don’t do wrong expecting right to follow. You can’t treat people wrong and expect them to turn around and treat you right. They might treat you right out of the goodness of their hearts, but that’s grace. In fact, just treat everybody right. It’s simpler.
Don’t by cheap stuff. Cheap is too expensive.
Don’t tell everybody your business. Be careful of confidants.
Dot said some things do work.
Don’t leave your house without praying. God will speak to you through His Word and to your Spirit. Pray and He will make what is confusing clear.
Go to church. Be with people. You need them.
Give money, save money. You will be pleasing God as well as reap what you have sown. Spend a little money too for things you want. Just don’t over do it. Live within your means.
Take care of yourself. Go to the beauty shop (or barber shop), take care of your body it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You are a steward of it.
Stand on the Word and expect God to answer your prayer. God answers prayer. period.
I mustered up the courage to tell my mother about one – don’t even remember now what it was – could have been a failing grade because I crammed for an exam and planned poorly. Or had a bad interaction with someone that damaged the relationship. Or spent too much at the shopping center. Or avoided a challenge that would have reaped a reward. Or failed at that second, third chance at something. Something. Some “thing” that upset me, and made me feel “not good enough” once again.
Mama listened with a calm stillness while I made my confession of wrongdoing. Then, with a very intense look on her face, she said,
“Your punishment is 30 lashes with a wet noodle,” then she burst into an uproarious laugh. It was so loud and so long…. I laughed too. She was of course kidding. She was really saying, “Honey, it’s okay. Life goes on. You are still my child. ” Which is the same thing the Lord is saying to us all.
Now that Mama is gone, I feel there were missed opportunities to love her. For example, she wanted her mini Black & Decker oven fixed. We got it fixed but later I wish I’d gotten her a brand new one. One of those “things” I’ve regretted. The could’ve, should’ve, would’ve “things.” These things invade my thoughts until the Spirit interrupts with a new thought about “things:”
Do not dwell on the past. Because God is doing a new Thing. Do you perceive the new Thing God is doing in your life right now? If you do not perceive it all you have to do is ask. And then forget about the punishment for not doing the things that you think you should’ve done, because God Himself has moved on. That’s right. He doesn’t even remember. He has set our wrongness as far as the east is from the west. Psalms 103:12.
There are good reasons to reflect on experiences, to think about what you have learned and to offer it up as a sacrifice to God. But otherwise Mama would say, “Put a period behind it and move on.” You have punished yourself enough. And the Savior who has always been there is ready to grab your hand for that next horizon that next opportunity that new Thing.
I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. II Corinthians 5:21