Refocusing, in the Spiritual Sense

Refocusing, meaning there was at one time focus, hopefully good focus, however now, there is a need for adjustment.

I wear contact lenses so I do not walk through this world out of focus in my physical sight. When not wearing my contacts, I have a pair of glasses. These are great for at night while reading or watching TV. The problem is; I cannot wear them to drive or work on my computer. Could be the bi-focal effect or just that my eyes are more used to my contacts for these tasks.

Either way, I have tools to use for the physical focusing of my eyes. However, spiritual focus can be a little bit more challenging. Oh, how easy it would be to have a pair of ‘spiritual contact lenses or glasses’!

In reality, something better is available. Now before I go much further, I need to point out that when I speak of the spiritual sense, I am referring to my relationship with Jesus. I clarify this because there are many who seek “spirituality” through other means or processes.

I said relationship with Jesus. He is not my religion. No religion ever chose to take my place to pay a price I could not pay for a debt they did not owe. This relationship is just one of the situations where I personally have needed spiritual refocusing lately. Trust me, there are many!

It is not that my relationship is distant or damaged with Jesus; rather it is more that I have been busy focusing on my own priorities instead of what really matters, hence the need to refocus. I am doing this through means of putting some things out of the way in my life so spiritual focus can resume to a level that really honors the relationship.

One of the things, yes, just one, is how I view others in the grand scheme of eternal life. God has a plan to use people to reach people. It is His primary way of getting the Good News out. My dogs will most likely never get up in the morning and proclaim the Gospel message. It is up to me to go to all nations, meaning all people, and share this message.

For the most part, I get this. Then along comes that one person who reminds me that if I stay stuck in my off focused self, I really do not like to reach out. That one person who just rubs you the wrong way, you know what I mean, right? I know I am not alone here! And these people are in church fellowships all over the world!

Well, I mentioned something better than spiritual glasses is available . It is actually a Who, not a what. In God’s great plan for humanity, He gave us a gift, the gift of His Holy Spirit to guide us and have spiritual eyes focused on what He wants us to focus on.

The best part of His ‘refocusing’ gift is when I really need the help to not become distracted by that certain person or event (or more often myself), the help is there. The refocusing occurs as soon as I surrender, or put  myself aside.

What is true refocusing in the spiritual sense? Denying myself, and moving forward with what God has already planned for me along with trusting in God’s Holy Spirit to keep me on the path He has me on for the greater good of all, not just for me.

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Stop and Reflect

Life in general can give us many moments or events causing us to stop and reflect. Often times without those events happening in the direct path of our personal journey.

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School shootings, the passing on to heaven of an iconic pastor/evangelist, a baby being born, a mission trip, someone’s diagnoses of cancer, someone else’s passing after a long and valiant battle with cancer, a troubling yet encouraging message from a social media friend, or sometimes just looking in the mirror.

All of these have crossed my path in the past month or so, some just today, not each one a personal event or moment. However, each taking its own grip of my thoughts and feelings, causing me to take time to reflect.

Reflect on where I am headed, what I am doing, who I am encouraging (or discouraging), how I am making an impact on what God has called me to be and do. For me, as a Follower and Believer in Jesus Christ, that last one is to be my primary focus.

I had the privilege recently to travel with an American team of Foursquare pastors to gather with and build relationships with church leaders in Niger Africa. This being my first experience of mission work, I knew that it would change my perspective on life and ministry

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The other events listed above have transpired before or after my trip. It has been a very interesting journey these past six weeks. Many people before the trip asked me if I was excited, nervous, or scared. My answer was that I was more ‘feeling in anticipation of what God was going to do, both in me and in Niger’.

I was also in anticipation of meeting my seventh grandchild after my return to the “real world”IMG_2509

She was born on February 7, content and healthy, although the smallest baby born into our family of all the grand kids so far at just 6lb 15oz – I know normal size for most babies but not for our family!

The trip to Niger definitely had an impact on me. How significant? Not sure since I am still processing it all, and it depends on whom you ask. One friend said I seem more internalized or reserved while another said I seem more peaceful and settled and that God has given me a new radiance of His power.

No matter what causes us to stop and reflect, the outcome should be for us to change our perspective in order to view what really matters in the long run, and what brings the most benefit to others. Those two things will really make a lasting difference in our world.

Thanks for stopping by…

Until ALL have heard! #wearefoursquare

Cycling can be Spiritual

Cycling is a Spiritual experience for me. Not in the generic term of spiritual, that is so often times abused in our culture today. I am talking about how this is my time with God, not some ‘Koo-koo-ka-choo, I am the walrus’ thing where I am trying to transcend into a higher plane. If that is your thing then have fun with it.

For me, it is my time to clear my head of the garbage and focus on what God is doing around me and in my life. Just the fact that He has given me the strength to make the bike move is part of the experience. I put on some praise music and just go. Sometimes it is a quick ride, other times it is more of a challenge. Today I challenged myself.

I am located in the desert where it is relatively flat. However, there is one road headed out of town that is, from my house anyway, the most grueling incline on the routes I choose to ride. As I was riding it today, I experienced a Spiritual lesson from God. Not a new lesson, but one that I needed reminding of and now I share it with you.

On this route, I have about two miles of flat to warm up and then the grade begins. Once the grade kicks in, there is really not any recovery point until the top of the grade, four to five miles away, a stretch that generally cuts my average speed in half. If you are going this route, you are committed to it. Well, I guess you could turn around and choose another route, but where is the building up going to happen if turning around is an option. You just have to gear down and keep going.

Once at the top of the grade there is still no turning back, if you are committed to the journey. The rest of the route is a two-lane road with no shortcuts or turnoffs. You are committed to go the distance to the first road, a twenty-mile loop back to my starting point, or the second road, a twenty-six mile loop. I chose the twenty-mile loop today.

As I was trudging up the grade, God began to impress on me that this ride is like my Spiritual journey with Him. It is not going to be easy. There are parts of it that just slow me down. Battles and struggles that cut my forward progress in half, much like the grade slows my average speed. Nevertheless, I keep going! Spiritually, this is when I grow my faith in my Lord. I need to rely on Him to keep me moving forward and not turning around.

Sure, when I get to the top of the grade, there is a downhill section, but it is not an opportunity to just coast through, I still have to pedal because there is usually some form of wind pushing against me. This is where the Spiritual growth happens in our lives, after the hard work, in the consistency of moving along the route God has mapped out.

Then even when things are going smooth and you are feeling good with yourself, some form of discouragement can creep in. For my riding, and me this happens when an ‘old guy’ passes me. I am talking guys fifteen to twenty years older than me (I am fifty). However, I quickly realize that these guys have been doing this a lot longer than I have. They have been on the road more than I have. So I choose to watch them and try to learn something in their cadence and style. Just as we should with those who have been walking a Spiritual life longer than we have.

There are times when I tell myself, “If only I had an actual road bike instead of my Franken-Bike!” Side note – the bike I ride is one I built out of three or four other bikes. It works! One day I will graduate to an actual road bike and probably still complain when the old-guys pass me. One day I will be one of those old guys passing others! For now, my Franken-Bike and I will persevere.

That is what our Spiritual journey with God is about – persevering through the route. Not stopping; not being discouraged. Moving forward under the power He gives you at the time. Not looking for a short cut or thinking about turning around. Growing stronger and more consistent with each rotation of the sprocket or step.

Be encouraged today in your own Spiritual journey. No matter what you are facing, you are getting stronger in Him. Let God be your strength today and every day.

Oh, and if you can do it without wearing socks, go for it!

Thanks for stopping by. Blessings to you.

Eeyore and Grace!

Do you have any Eeyore’s in your life?

The message God gave me for this past Sunday was on grace. I am a pastor for those who may not be aware. We are studying our way through the book of James on Sunday mornings at RC4SQ Church and had come to chapter four, verse six where James writes, “But He (God) gives greater grace.”

The definition of “greater” means that there is nothing better; nothing bigger; nothing grander; no-thing at all greater than the grace God gives to you or me. Grace is not a concept either; it is a Person, the Person Jesus Christ!

As I was putting together my notes and power-point during the week I had run across this posting on Facebook…

“One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends. And they never expect him to pretend to be happy, they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind, or ask him to change.”  (I added the picture)

eeyoreHaving been, and sometimes still feeling like Eeyore, I thought this statement was fantastic especially when looking at grace as the Person of Christ. You see, Jesus is that friend who invites me along for all the adventures and shenanigans. YES! It is OK to have shenanigans as a Christian, just within reason!

However, Jesus does not ask me to pretend to be something I am not, happy or otherwise. He does not leave me behind. He loves me anyway. As for change, He does that in and through me as He sees I am ready for it, then it is called growth and maturity.

I used Eeyore as my illustration because most everyone can relate to his situation. Tails fall off and we need help putting them back. Dark clouds do sometimes follow us around. People come into our lives that need help and have nowhere else to turn.

God even brought an Eeyore right through the front door of the church as some of us were still hanging around in fellowship. This Eeyore was in a mess. We helped how we were able. Did a follow-up this morning but cannot find the person.

What do we do? We stay available for the next time that tail falls off and we pray for God’s safety to be around and with this person. In short, we love this person anyway.

Look for the Eeyore’s in your life, love them anyway.

Oh, and did you notice…Eeyore does not where socks!

Update on settling in…

Well, the settling in is progressing here in Ridgecrest. We were able to find a nice house with a long lease option that allowed us to get out of living in the travel trailer. We moved our belongings and stuff, but it is still just taking up space in the garage and storage shed. It is interesting when you live in two places for a time and one of those is a travel trailer, we discovered there are things we do not miss or really need on a day to day basis. There will be a large donation made to the local thrift very soon, well as soon as we are motivated to go through it all. While most of the country is enjoying the onset of autumn while here in the RC we are still experiencing upper ninety-degree days. This does not bode well for wanting to sort through boxes in a hot garage!
My Honey is working part-time as a shift supervisor with a local pizza parlor. We are both still taking online classes while balancing ministry. RC4SQ (our new church home) is moving along slow and steady. There is a great core group of people here and we have some good friends who moved here to join us in ministry. They even have shared the experience of living at the church in our trailer! I think that will be the new training ground for anyone wanting to go into ministry; it really builds your faith in God while also building patience in His plan. (They get to move into their new home tomorrow.)
There have been some difficulties with settling in. One thing we are noticing, even though this is a close-knit community and the people are great, we are still the new folks. We have to remember what it was like when we moved to the Kern Valley. We spent almost twenty years there raising children, ministering, and owning a business. We cannot go anywhere up there without running into several people we have shared life with in one way or another. We are making good strides in building relationships with people and have some great neighbors too.
Our fur-babies are happy to be out of the trailer/church living environment also. They have a large yard to romp and play in but they are not very sure of the increase in jets flying overhead. Living in a town with a Naval Air Station brings a renewed sense of patriotism to me but my dogs prefer to bark more when the planes are active.
Another great thing that has happened since being here is our sixth grandchild arrived three weeks ago, another little girl! I have more in common with my son-in-love now that he too will be raising three girls. I am feeling my only grandson’s future troubles as well, him growing up around all girls; he is going to need to be tough!
Even though this community is bike friendly, I have not been as active as I would like. It could just be the heat of summer, but I have gotten out for a few rides and managed to reach a goal for one of the few hills we have here in the desert. I just need to plan on the extra time to get to places or meetings and force myself to go on two wheels!
Another discipline I will be working on is writing more. My class this semester was English Comp and it has been very insightful, helpful, and extremely challenging. The assignments have revived my inner writer so I will be trying to stay up on my posts.
Thanks for stopping by and taking a few moments out of your day to read my musings. Remember…if you cannot do it without socks, it may not be worth doing!