Failure Prompts ‘Introspection’ [v197]

JULY 2015

Failure Prompts ‘Introspection’

Over the course of our lives, we go through many experiences that ‘shape’ us—or at least they try to. If we are ‘blind’ or ‘deaf’ to what each experience is trying to teach us, then our character cannot not be ‘refined’, and we miss the life lesson.

When these lessons ‘assail’ us, there’s a rude awakening—we are shown our failure, and that WE ARE WRONG. We can react in one of two ways: Stubbornly dig our heels in and maintain our pride, or ‘wake up’ and humbly learn the lesson.

Major life change doesn’t usually happen until some ‘traumatic’ circumstance brings you to the unalterable conclusion that your current course is taking you in the wrong ‘direction’—a direction you finally realize that you don’t want to go. Sometimes it takes a very painful ‘situation’ to make us change our ways—usually a tragic family event, a devastating personal failure, or a relational breakdown. (As I mentioned last month, I recently had a close personal relationship breakup, and have decided to be humbled, address my issues, and ‘transform’ my character in those areas).

 

If you are resistance to change, you will stop growing, and will probably continue to ‘hurt’ people around you. You will also become an angry, bitter, and resentful caricature of your old self, and then try to blame your ‘past’, others, or even God for your predicament. Growth requires learning from painful experiences by honestly recognizing the role you have played in them, and then coming to terms with the consequences of your actions.

If you systematically reflect on your failures, you will realize that there are ‘grievous’ patterns in your character. Once you realize that, you are well on your way to fixing that pattern.

It’s been shown that when you respond positively and constructively to these lessons, the qualities of strength, courage, and perseverance emerge from deep down inside of you.

In fact, what I’m going to say may strike you as ‘odd’, but thank God for adversity! Yep, that’s what I said! Sometimes it seems that it takes overcoming a great adversity for us to attain any ‘real’ change (Usually we only change when the fear of change is exceeded by our pain). The good news is that every challenge and every difficulty we successfully confront in life serves to strengthen our will, confidence, and ability to conquer future obstacles. Herodotus, the Greek philosopher, said, “Adversity has the effect of drawing out strength and qualities of a man that would have lain dormant in its absence.”

Now, I’m not suggesting you going around ‘looking’ for adversity, but to have the right attitude when it ‘finds’ you! Pain, heartache, and loss will always be a part of our lives, and sometimes it’s unavoidable. Just realize that good can still come out of these times. It’s up to you to take the ‘reigns’ of your feelings and then make the change. When you do, it will surely make your life better!

Maybe this illustration will help. The transition from a caterpillar to butterfly is ‘painful’. The monarch has to break free of its cocoon by constantly pushing its wings into the walls of its shelter. Eventually, after prolonged effort, the butterfly frees itself from the cocoon. But, if seeing the creature struggling so and feeling pity for it, someone decides to open the cocoon prematurely, that butterfly will never fly! It’s because of the tremendous struggle of breaking open its cocoon that strengthens the monarch’s wings so that it can fly—from one continent to another! During the time in its cocoon, the monarch butterfly has no ‘awareness’ of the purpose of its pain and struggles, yet it clearly benefits from the fruits of its increased strength that are the result of those struggles!

 

So, you are now at a point where you have gone through most of the emotional ‘angst’ related to your issue, and are ready to make a positive change. How should you go about it?

Well, the Greek philosopher Epictetus said it better than I can more than 2,000 years ago: “Men are disturbed, not by things [ that happen to them ], but by the principles and notions which they form concerning [ those ] things….When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles and opinions.” In other words, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for what you have done, and GET TO WORK on changing yourself!

 

As tough as life’s lessons sometimes are, each holds the seed of an equal or greater blessing, and a ‘pathway’ to new growth as a human being. It is our responsibility to learn each lesson. Otherwise, we will be ‘handed’ an increasingly more difficult scenario of the same lesson again and again. The lessons we were meant to learn will reappear until we ‘eradicate’ them completely!

Even though pain will be a part of lives, we should try to limit its frequency by learning from it, so we don’t have to keep getting ‘burned’. Sadly, most people only learn the value of something, such as health, finances, or relationships, BY LOSING THEM!

Specifically, relational breakups allow us to reflect on what behaviors ‘trigger’ us and bring out the worst in ourselves—making us behave in ways we would rather not act. By realizing this, we can better understand why we do this, and determine why we failed to DO SOMETHING TO PREVENT THEM!

At this point, the angst and heartache are actually a ‘good’ thing. It means that, deep down, you are being filled with love, and that you have a desire to want to MAKE IT RIGHT—to possibly ‘restore’ what was lost, and to become ‘healthier’ in your future.

Marriage and family counselor and relationship expert, Katherine Woodward Thomas suggests this: “You want to first recognize that this is a profound opportunity to grow yourself beyond the patterns of the past and set an intention to nurture your own breakthrough in how love goes for you. Take a stand to have happy, healthy love from now on, and be willing to identify where you need to grow in order to navigate your way to that future. When we are in great amounts of pain, we will often be motivated to do the work that might otherwise be theoretical. The opportunity presented by a breakup is that it can finally be the bottom you’ve needed to hit in order to evolve beyond those old, toxic patterns; once it’s over, you can grow healthier and more available to loving others—and being loved in return—than ever before.”

 

Think back to the last time you experienced a failure—when you blew it, knew it, and somehow lived through it. Many times the difficulties in your life could have been avoided if you had just ‘planned ahead’. Oftentimes you become defensive and respond too quickly—only to regret your haste—and later wish you could UNDO A PREVIOUS CHOICE that you had made. So, now is an opportunity to think about what you can do differently in future situations, so the same disappointments don’t reappear.

Sadly, sometimes lessons are ‘costly’. Time is wasted, pain is endured, money is lost, feelings are ‘crushed’, and sometimes futures are ‘destroyed’.

That being said, it is still our ‘response’ to our trials that determines the ‘outcome’ of our trials! Our trials will either make us or break us—it’s just a matter of how we respond!

 

All this is really ‘tough’ work, even if we have friends and family encouraging us. The things is, they can’t be there all the time, and when we are alone with ourselves, doubts and fears can ‘paralyze’ us, and some people even fall into depression. But, there is Someone that can be with you all the time, and has the ‘power’ to bring you out of the ‘mire’. That would be the Holy Spirit of God.

When we come to the end of our rope, and ‘cry out’ to God to deal with the mess we have made of our lives, He promises to ‘step in’ and give us a new beginning. Not just a new beginning, but a whole new life…for the rest of our lives! When we ask Jesus to be our ‘Savior’, God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to ‘live inside us’—to be our guide, comforter, teacher, and our intercessor to God the Father. So, take heart, REAL CHANGE IS POSSIBLE—in fact, it’s God’s ‘plan’ for your life! Just know that only God can change our ‘hearts’, and He wants to do for you WHAT ONLY HE CAN DO!

In the Bible, Psalm 40 explains how God helps us through adversity:

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Him”
[ Psalm 40:1-4 ].

[ FYI: The song “40” by U2 uses a lot of this verse for its lyrics:
U2 – “40” song video ].

 

When it comes to adversity, none of us are immune. We have all experienced the heartache, pressure, and anguish caused by hardships. Whatever form our trials may take—whether physical sickness, financial problems, or relationship issues—we tend to consider them ‘setbacks’ in our life. God, however, has a different perspective. He views adversity as a way to advance our spiritual growth.

The Bible uses an agrarian metaphor for this: “I [Jesus] am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit He cuts away; and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit” [ John 15:1-2 ].

Just like any rose gardener knows, you have the prune the plant to remove ‘old wood’, to reshape it, and to encourage more vigorous flowering. But, just after it’s been pruned, by an expert, the plant looks like it’s dead. However, when you see it the next year, it is healthier and much more beautiful.

God does the same to us when He is ‘pruning’ us of things that He doesn’t want in our character. It ‘hurts’ while He is doing it, but when He’s finished with us, our character is much more ‘beautiful’ to Him—and to the people around us!

 

God has a purpose for every trial that comes into your life. Nothing happens to you without God’s approval or purpose. Regardless of the circumstances you are facing, God can make all things work out for your benefit. God’s perspective is not the same as yours. He sees the purpose and outcome of your trial. All you and I experience is the pain. God sees the future while all you and I see is the present. God promises His presence in the time of your trial, and that He will never leave you nor forsake you!

The thing is, if there is an issue that has been ‘lingering’ a bit too long, God usually sends us a ‘wake up call’ so we don’t blindly fall onto the wrong path again—leading us to greater disappointment and ruin in the future. However, most of the time we do not ‘see’ it coming—because our will is in His way. But know this, if you don’t change your will, He will light a ‘fire’ under you to ‘encourage’ you to do so. If He didn’t, it would show that He doesn’t really love you (just as a human parent would do for their child). Problems will point us in a right direction if we surrender our will over to His. His love is there to motivate us and change us with the best plan, one that is much better than we could ever come up with ourselves! Is God trying to get your attention?

 

Our crises in life have a ‘root’ cause, and the Holy Spirit will bring it to your attention. He will then prompt you to dig below the ‘surface’ of your fears to uncover things that you may not want to face, but have to if you want to be ‘renewed’. The Holy Spirit will help you work through them, and then aid you in changing them for good. He may also prompt you to seek forgiveness from others if necessary.

Remember this main point: God is at work in your life, even when you cannot see Him. We will go though trials and suffering because of the sin that has ‘infected’ the world and us. We will grow best by recognizing and confessing our sin. Then we can grow even more when we learn and mature from our experiences. In addition to that, we will have far more contentment and joy in our lives when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and surrender our fears, desires, and pain over to Him. The Bible says that “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” [ Philippians 1:6 ].

 

Since the Holy Spirit is your counselor (and is on your ‘side’), He wants to help you through your circumstance—so, ask Him to comfort you and ease your grief. This is not denying or ignoring your crisis or responsibility, since God has you going through it for a reason. Just as King David—“a man after God’s own heart”—cried out to God after his failures, you too can tell God exactly how you feel. This can be an opportunity to enhance your relationship with the Holy Spirit, since He “is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” [ Psalm 34:18 ].

 

You have a choice: become bitter or better. So then, how can you avoid bitterness? Well, accept what cannot be changed, and focus on what you still have, not what you have lost. The Bible suggests that we need to develop an attitude of gratitude, giving “thanks in all circumstances.” We do not have to be thankful ‘FOR’ all circumstances, rather we are to be thankful ‘IN’ all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

If we just pray and petition God with thanksgiving, and are not anxious about things, God’s peace will guard our hearts (Philippians 4:6-7). Having peace doesn’t mean you will have a trouble-free life, but it will give you a sense of calm in the midst of life’s storms.

When we finally stop trying to figure out why God is allowing something to happen to us, and we just start trusting Him, then peace comes! We must also understand that not all of our questions are going to be answered in this lifetime! We’ve got to acknowledge that God is in control, and that He does not make mistakes. All God expects for us is that we trust Him without trying to figure everything out! The safest, most ‘serene’ place to be is to allow God to direct our lives.

 

We can also be ‘joyful’ in any circumstances because God is always with those who believe in Him, no matter where we are or what we are facing. “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” [ Isaiah 43:2 ]. Joy is an attitude, a choice. Joy is an ‘inside’ job, and is not dependent on circumstances. Joy is learning to enjoy life in spite of problems. Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God going through adversities.

God says that when the trial is finished and the purpose is accomplished, then you will receive His ‘reward’. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” [ James 1:12 ]. Not only does God want you to receive the reward, but in the process, He desires a closer relationship with you—so that you learn to love Him even more!

 

But why must I go through this stuff? Isn’t there an easier way? Well, yes, there is. You can ignore God and most likely live a ‘hard’, frustrating, and unhappy life. But if you do, after this very short time on earth and when you get to Heaven, your ‘reward’ will be determined by what you have learned here in this life! In addition to that, the only two things you will take into eternity, are RELATIONSHIPS and your CHARACTER!

 

As I said before, one of God’s primary purposes for adversity is to get our attention. He may allow adversity to sweep us off our feet—like He did with Saul of Tarsus (later known as the apostle Paul). Saul had to learn his lesson the ‘hard’ way. Proud and egotistical, he was doing everything he could to rid this earth of Christians. Then God struck him blind. Lying on the Damascus Road, Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” [ Acts 9:5 ]. God had totally captured his attention. At the time, it must have seemed to Paul like a screeching halt to his life’s work, but in actuality, it was the beginning of an extraordinary ‘career’ (writing two-thirds of the New Testament—more than any other author).

[ FYI: The recent TV mini-series, “A.D. The Bible Continues” does a good job presenting the ‘transformation’ of Saul:
A.D. The Bible Continues – Saul-1
A.D. The Bible Continues – Saul-2
A.D. The Bible Continues – Saul-3 ]

 

Like the Apostle Paul did, we must also admit that, “Wretched man that I am” [ Romans 7:24 ]. The word wretched means distressed or miserable, exhausted from hard labor. Paul felt so ‘spent’ from trying to change himself, that he came to the point of desperation where he admitted, in effect, “God, I want to be different. I won’t shield myself from the ‘darkness’ in my heart anymore. I want to become the person You want me to be. So, I’m going to face up to who I really am.” We can’t change without recognizing our own wretchedness. Change begins with the genuine, humble, and contrite admission that, “I HAVE A PROBLEM.” But, be encouraged as you continue reading Romans 7:24. It says: “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

 

God also sends adversity for our self-examination—to ‘encourage’ us to deal with the ‘root’ of our issue—and sometimes more ‘intensely’ than we would like, to cause deeper than normal examination. An attitude lying dormant for years may be hindering your progress. Recognize that in your adversity it’s God’s loving desire to help you reach your full spiritual potential—to ultimately “sanctify” you (the continual process to make your character more like Jesus).

So, instead of ‘running’ from it, ask God, “What are You trying to teach me?” While it’s okay to tell Him you don’t like it and you wish He’d take it away, I would challenge you to add, “But don’t quit, God, until You have finished.” The apostle Peter said: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” [ 1 Peter 5:6-7 ].

 

As you face hardship, keep in mind that its intensity will not exceed your capacity to bear it. God NEVER sends adversity into your life to break your spirit or destroy you. If you don’t take God’s ‘advice, He will allow you to go your own way—and you will probably ‘destroy’ yourself. But, if you accept God’s admonition, He will bless, strengthen, encourage, and help you reach your maximum potential! The prophet Isaiah said: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” [ Isaiah 41:10 ].

 

God’s ‘school’ of brokenness is where we learn what God revealed to the Apostle Paul after he asked God to remove the “thorn in his flesh.” God said, “No,” and added, “My grace is sufficient for you; my strength is perfected in your weakness.” Just as it happened to Paul, after God has humbled us, He then can use us to ‘minister’ to others. God’s desire is to to remove all the ‘crutches’ we use to get through tough circumstances, and have us only depend on Him in the future—that we stop relying on our ‘flesh’ and totally rely on the Spirit.

The good news is, God can take the biggest mistake that you have made in your life, turn it around, and make it work out for your good! All that you need to do is to repent and surrender it all to Him—then trust Him for the outcome. The apostle Paul said, “Focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize.” [ Philippians 3:13-14 ].

 

Anytime we lose something or someone of great importance we experience a great sense of loss, even hopelessness. Yet, it’s comforting to remember that the seemingly greatest ‘loss’ ever, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on a Roman cross, resulted in the best ‘New Beginning’ ever—His resurrection and ascension into Heaven! (a ‘precursor’ for every ‘child’ of God!).

His New Beginning and New Life allow us to live our lives to the fullest regardless of what we have let go of or have lost. For ‘in’ Christ, we are never alone. We are always loved. We can always expect the best from Him. He sees far beyond our pain and suffering and has a way of making every new beginning beneficial to us and to those around us—if we’ll let Him—so we can thrive and even discover peace and joy during the process.

We all need a new beginning. We are all in ‘desperate’ need for a deep and life changing ‘makeover’ in some part of our lives. Jesus Christ offers this to all of us. What we do with His ‘offer’ will determine not only the course of the rest of our life here on earth, but our life in the ‘next world’ as well!

 

We no longer have to say: “I really blew it, and I’m going to be paying for this the rest of my life,” because God says it is unnecessary for us to feel that way. If we are a Christian, He has wiped your ‘slate’ clean, and given you the ‘indwelling’ of the Holy Spirit—Who comes into your life to empower and direct you, and produce nine characteristics in you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control!

The Bible also teaches that the way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. You can be ‘transformed’ by the renewing of your mind—and the Holy Spirit will do it for you! “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” [ Romans 12:2 ].

Victor Frankl was a Jew in the Dachau Nazi concentration camp. He said, “The last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude on a given set of circumstances.” We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control how we respond to them. What matters in life is not so much what happens ‘TO’ us but what happens ‘IN’ us.

 

Know this, when life is really hard, God will be ‘closer’ to you than ever before! Too many people give up when life gets really difficult. They assume trials mean that God has ‘abandoned’ them, or worse, that God is ‘punishing’ them. So, as soon as they hit a ‘roadblock’, they quit rather than pressing on. But, if you give up, you will miss out on the unique opportunity God is ‘engineering’ for you in your circumstances! God encourages us by saying: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” [ Romans 8:28 ].

No obstacle, trial, or challenge can keep you from God’s best in your life! He will not leave you to ‘fend’ for yourself. Trials that you face ‘head on’ will thrust you into your God-given purpose! “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” [ Jeremiah 29:11–13 ].

Remember, no matter how difficult your present circumstance may be—even if you are going through an ‘avalanche’ of multiple difficulties all at the same time—with God, you can ‘win’ in the end (eternity in Heaven).

 

God always has plans for the welfare and future of those who are His. He always has plans to give His ‘children’ hope. The circumstances He allows are designed to cause us to call upon Him. When God says, “I know the plans I have for you,” His words are a great comfort. But wouldn’t you love to get a ‘sneak peek’ at those plans?

Well, God does give us ‘hints’. He provides us with some general ‘categories’ that describe His purposes. First, they are plans for your welfare. The Hebrew word is “shalom,” meaning “the complete state of well-being; fulfillment; prosperity; peace.” As God looks through His ‘telescope’ of time, His plans are for your total well-being.

Secondly, His designs for you are not for evil. People who are determined to prove they can live contrary to God’s program will pay a price for their ‘experiment’. God’s plans take us away from evil; ours tend to put us ‘smack dab’ into the middle of it.

Thirdly, God’s plans are designed to give you a future and a hope, both here on earth and eternally in Heaven. The biblical definition of hope is a “confident expectation of something better tomorrow.” When your hope is in God, He will always deliver! It doesn’t matter what has happened, better things are coming! That’s the hope God promises—and He has yet to break even one of His promises! As His ‘child’, you can be confident He has good plans for you!

 

Suggested Prayer:
Lord, I see my own brokenness and wretchedness, and I know I need to be changed. I acknowledge that I can’t do it on my own, apart from You. I am so grateful that You sent Your Holy Spirit to be my helper, giving me strength and courage beyond myself to face the trials in my life. I ask that You create in me a clean heart, so I can be continually ‘filled’ by the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray, Amen.

 

[ Excerpts from: James MacDonald; Carol Van Atta; Bill Muehlenberg; Greg Laurie; David Zulberg; Marc Chernoff; Evette Gardner; JP Sears; Larry Richman; Steve Brunkhorst; Bill Lobbs; Charles R. Swindoll; Dr. Richard J. Krejcir; Justin Lathrop; Rick Warren ]

 

RESOURCES:
—————-
Lord, Change My Attitude (Before It’s Too Late)
By James MacDonald

What does God think about attitudes? This study uses examples from the Israelites journey out of Egypt to how attitudes can affect whether someone stays in the wilderness or enjoys the blessings of the Promised Land. There is hope for the attitudinally challenged. (11 sessions)

In this study, James MacDonald shows how you can lead others (and even yourself) out of attitudes God hates and into those He honors, from:
– Replace a Complaining Attitude…With a Thankful Attitude
– Replace a Covetous Attitude…With an Attitude of Contentment
– Replace a Critical Attitude…With an Attitude of Love
– Replace a Doubting Attitude…With an Attitude of Faith
– Replace a Rebellious Attitude…With an Attitude of Submission

Overview Video:

Overview Video: “Lord, Change My Attitude (Before It’s Too Late)” – By: James MacDonald

Book: “Lord, Change My Attitude (Before It’s Too Late)” – By: James MacDonald

FYI: Click the following link for MY SUMMARY of the book:
Book Summary: “Lord, Change My Attitude (Before It’s Too Late)” – By: James MacDonald

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Lord, Change Me
By: James MacDonald

Are you truly serious about allowing the power of God to transform your life? If you are, then prepare yourself for an incredible, life-changing experience. Change is difficult, but it’s made even harder without practical guidance on how to do it. You will find that guidance in Lord, Change Me. James MacDonald is serious about the business of change according to God’s Word. While many tell us that we should change and be more like Christ, MacDonald actually teaches us how to do it. Lord, Change Me is split into three sections as the model for approaching change:

– The Preparation for Change: Choosing the right method and partnering with God to select the areas in need of change in your life.
– The Process of Change: Exploring the biblical method of saying ‘no’ to sinful patterns and ‘yes’ to the things God desires for you.
– The Power to Change: Explaining how to experience the power of God personally and continuously.

This is a book about a different you. There are no warm fuzzies within these pages. Rather, MacDonald is a direct, to-the-point pastor with a heart for seeing lives completely transformed by the truth of the Gospel. If you’re serious about changing your life, this book is just what you need.

Book: “Lord, Change Me” – By: James MacDonald

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Nine Attitudes That Keep You Happy
By: Joyce Meyer

Can our attitude really make a difference? Yes! In fact, it’s often the difference between “barely getting by” and truly enjoying our lives.

Teaching out of Matthew 5, Joyce shares nine attitudes of the heart that have the ability to revolutionize your life from the inside out…and open the door for God’s power and blessings to flow to you and then through you to other people.

In these four teachings Joyce shares how to…
– Change Your Attitude and Live in a Position of Power
– Develop a Never-Give-Up Attitude When Times Get Tough
– Resist the Pitfalls of Self-Pity
– Give the Healing Gift of Mercy to Yourself and Others
– Enjoy True Inner Peace in the Midst of Hard Times
– Release God’s Grace Through an Attitude of Humility
– Multiply Your Happiness by Being “Love-Minded”

You can’t always change your circumstances, but you can change your attitude. As you adopt these time-tested principles, you’ll experience more peace, more joy, and more power in every single area of your life.

CDs: “Nine Attitudes That Keep You Happy” – By: Joyce Meyer

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Overcoming Wrong Mindsets: How to Get to the Promised Land Faster
By: Joyce Meyer

Do you feel like you’ve been dealing with the same problems again and again? It’s like you’ve been going around the same mountain but never really making any progress. Wrong ways of thinking will prevent your progress and leave you wandering aimlessly just short of what God has promised you.

In this series, Joyce will show you how to overcome these wrong mindsets with the unfailing truth from God’s Word.

Learn how to…
– Remain patient while you’re waiting for God’s direction
– Quit comparing yourself with others on their journey
– Stop waiting for someone else to do it for you
– Keep moving forward—out of the “mental desert”

Your future is not based on your past—it’s based on God’s Word! It’s time to see beyond your circumstances and overcome the wilderness mentalities that have held you hostage—it’s time to begin inheriting the promises of God.

CDs: “Overcoming Wrong Mindsets: How to Get to the Promised Land Faster” – By: Joyce Meyer

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[P.S.: If you would like to investigate what the Bible says about avoiding pain, visit the following link:
The Search For Meaning – How To Avoid Pain

 

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v197) for JULY 2015
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: Contact: Mark Besh

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LEARNING LIFE’S LESSONS THROUGH ADVERSITY

Adversities are a part of living, and we choose the way we react to each adversity in our lives. I would be the last to deny that adversities can be exceedingly difficult. Many times they will be senseless, unfair, painful, and beyond our control to prevent. However, they come into our lives for a reason. We can choose to learn valuable lessons from each adversity we encounter.

Learning Valuable Life Lessons
Marvin J. Ashton (1915-1994) said, ‘Adversity will surface in every life. How we meet it makes the difference.’

Tough times, events, and circumstances can teach us much about ourselves and other people. They bring us face to face with our honesty, integrity, sense of personal responsibility, and ways of dealing with life’s blows.

Initially, we want to bury our hurt and grief deeply inside rather than experience painful emotions. However, before the pain and grief will subside, we must pick up the pieces. We must fully move through these feelings of discouragement, grief, and pain, allowing ourselves complete emotional expression before the pain will ease its hold.

In the process of allowing ourselves to feel our emotions completely, we learn valuable life lessons. We also discover how resilient and strong we are at any given point in our life. If we look closely at each adversity, we become wiser to life’s ways, our ways, and people’s ways. Each adversity we encounter can bring new insight into human nature.

Discovering Blessings and Wisdom
The more difficult the adversity, the more valuable will be the lessons it offers to teach. By exercising faith in a Power greater than ourselves, we discover we are not alone in any adversity. We learn to see blessings appear, sometimes years later, that we would not have received had we not been handed tough times.

To find these blessings, we must expect them and watch for them to appear. To reap their benefits, we must believe that we deserve them and accept them with absolute faith when they are offered to us. If we do not accept them, they will often times not wait around for us to change our minds.

Ask yourself the following seven questions, and write down your answers:
– In what ways have I dealt with adversity that were effective and ineffective?
– How have my ways of dealing with adversity affected other people and me?
– Have I accepted responsibility for my life’s circumstances and the times that my actions have resulted in adversity?
– What have my adversities taught me about my honesty, integrity, sense of personal responsibility, and my faith in other people and myself?
– What have my adversities taught me about human nature and how the actions of other people tend to influence how I react to their behaviors?
– How can I react to adversity in a way that will better allow me to grow wiser, more resilient, and more loving?
– What is my personal faith that brings me the greatest strength in times of adversity?’

The Choice is Yours
Even when life becomes painfully unfair, you have a choice. You can choose to learn the most valuable of life’s lessons now or later. You can reap the greatest of life’s rewards by choosing to see adversities as God-given universities. You can accept the blessings they offer to you.

Questioning yourself about each adversity will teach you more about yourself and about human nature. It will help you to learn the life lessons that will bring the only true measure of success: inner growth and a more principle-centered life. You will experience a stronger faith in the possibilities of the future.
[ Steve Brunkhorst ]

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SPIRITUAL LESSONS ADVERSITY TEACHES US

Adversity Teaches Humility:
Adversity teaches us that we’re human. We are not in control. We can’t do everything ourselves.

Years of academic achievement, careful investments, and hard work become insignificant and meaningless in the face of nature’s fury. Suddenly those fortunate enough to have lived through the terror descending from the sky are equal in status and rank to their poverty stricken, uneducated brothers and sisters.

Nature didn’t pick and choose singling out anyone as more deserving based on class, education or wealth. Her wrath was swift and unmerciful irrespective of race, color or creed. The mangled Mercedes and 20 year old Chevy pickup as well as the Tudor brick mansion and ramshackle mobile home have equal value when leveled by a tornado.

Adversity teaches that beneath the trappings of the façade we wear, we are all kindred in spirit. We all suffer, we all cry, we all hope, we all must reach out to others for support and strength.

Adversity Teaches Perseverance:
Adversity teaches us that we have two choices and no others. We can give up or we can push on. At times like this there are not a lot of decisions to make. Life has been reduced to the elemental choice of living or dying.

In the wake of such dire circumstances we may not have any idea where we’re going, what tomorrow will bring. We only know that if we push through today, we’ll get to tomorrow and so it will be as each day follows the next.

Options about where to eat, what kind of car to buy, where to shop are off the board. It is through the kind hearts and generosity of volunteer strangers that food, shelter and clothing is provided. But those humbled by adversity learn to be grateful for the kindness of strangers and find renewed strength to cope, endure and persevere.

Adversity’s Spiritual Lessons for All:
Adversity teaches all of us, whether victims, volunteers or witnesses that we aren’t as invincible as we may think we are, we aren’t in control all the time but in unexpected ways we are stronger than we may have ever realized.

The spiritual lessons of adversity teach us that it is oftentimes in weakness that we find strength and that when we have lost all we found more than we ever owned.
Adversity brings with it a deeper appreciation for life. Our life and the lives of others become infinitely more precious.

Adversity imparts an attitude of gratitude. No matter how much or how little we have, we no longer take anything for granted.

There is no way to guarantee that we will escape adversity but if and when it happens be assured that we will emerge from the rubble of a shattered life with a strength that was forged in a life-transforming fire and we’ll never be the same.

What kind of adversity have you experienced in life? What did you learn from the experience? Do you feel you could have learned the same lessons any other way?
[ Nancy Hartzog ]

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LESSONS FROM ADVERSITY

Building a colorful mosaic with the broken pieces

Sometimes we can learn lessons from adversity.

Adversity shakes us to the core because it challenges our beliefs about ourselves and our place in the world. Adversity may show us that we are vulnerable, less important in the grand scheme of things than we thought, or that things we thought to matter don’t.

To overcome adversity and move on we need to rebuild our belief systems.

This can be illustrated through the metaphor of the shattered vase. Imagine that one day you accidentally knock a treasured vase off its perch. It smashes into tiny pieces. What do you do? Do you try to put the vase back together as it was?

Like the vase held together by glue and sticky tape, those who try to put their lives back together exactly as they were remain fractured and vulnerable.

Or do you pick up the beautiful colored pieces and use them to make something new – such as a colorful mosaic? Those who accept the breakage and build themselves anew become more resilient and open to new ways of living.

The secret to dealing with adversity is to know that you can’t put the vase back together exactly as it was, but instead start to use the pieces to build a new mosaic.

We can learn to live each day more meaningfully in light of our vulnerability.

We can learn to give our love to others in light of knowing that we are not as important as we thought we were.

We can work out what really matters to us in light of finding out that what we thought matters, doesn’t.
[ Stephen Joseph, Ph.D. ]

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HANDLING ADVERSITY

Step into the time tunnel with me and let’s travel together back to Uz (not like the wizard of, but like the land of). Wherever it was, Uz had a citizen who had the respect of everyone, because he was blameless, upright, God-fearing, and clean living. He had 10 children, lots of livestock, plenty of land, a houseful of servants, and a substantial stack of cash. No one would deny that he was “the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3), for he had earned that reputation through years of hard work and honest dealings with others. His name was Job, a synonym for integrity and godliness.

Within a matter of hours he was, to quote Shakespeare’s line from The Comedy of Errors:

“A wretched soul, bruised with adversity.”

Without announcement, adversity fell upon Job like an avalanche of jagged rocks. He lost his livestock, crops, land, servants, and—if you can believe it—all 10 children. Soon thereafter he lost his health, his last human hope of earning a living. I plead with you to stop reading, close your eyes for 60 seconds, and identify with that good man who was crushed beneath the weight of adversity.

The book that bears his name records an entry Job made in his journal soon after the rocks stopped falling. With a quivering hand he wrote:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (1:21)

Following this incredible statement, God added:

Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. (1:22)

Right about now, I’m shaking my head. I’m asking myself, “How in the world could he handle so calmly such a series of ordeals mixed with grief?” Think of the aftermath: bankruptcy, pain, 10 fresh graves…and the loneliness of those empty rooms. Yet we read that he worshiped God; he did not sin, nor did he blame his Maker.

The logical questions are: Why didn’t he? How could he keep from it? What kept him from bitterness or even thoughts of suicide? At the risk of oversimplifying the situation, I suggest three basic answers which I have discovered from searching through the book that bears his name.

First, Job claimed God’s loving sovereignty. He believed that the Lord who gave had every right to take away (1:21). In his own words he stated such:

“Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (2:10)

He looked up, claiming his Lord’s right to rule over his life. Who was the fool that said God has no right to add sand to our clay or marks to our vessel or fire to His workmanship? Who dared lift his clay fist heavenward and question the Potter’s plan? Not Job! To him, God’s sovereignty was interwoven with His love.

Second, Job counted on God’s promise of resurrection. Do you remember his immortal words:

“I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last…
…I shall see God.” (Job 19:25–26)

He looked ahead, counting on his Lord’s promise to make all things bright and beautiful in the life beyond. He knew that at that time all pain, death, sorrow, tears, and adversity would be removed. Knowing that “hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5), he endured today by envisioning tomorrow.

Third, Job confessed his own lack of understanding. What a relief this brings! He didn’t feel obligated to explain why. Listen to his honest admission:

“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted…
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful [too deep] for me, which I did not know…
‘I will ask You, and You instruct me.’” (Job 42:2–4)

He looked within, confessing his inability to put it all together. He rested his adversity with God, not feeling forced to answer why.

Perhaps you are beginning to get bruised by falling rocks…maybe the avalanche has fallen…maybe not. Adversity may seem 10,000 miles away…as remote as the land of Uz. That’s the way Job felt a few minutes before he lost it all.

Review these thoughts as you turn out the lights tonight, my friend…just in case. Some pottery gets pretty fragile sitting in the sunshine day after day.
[ Charles R. Swindoll ]

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WHAT YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF DURING TIMES OF ADVERSITY

We all go through adversity; the trick is how to get through adversity without adversity getting the best of us.

Thriving and growing through times of adversity depends on…

– How you view adversity
– The attitude you have toward adversity
– How willing you are to actively work through the period of adversity

Most people view change as bad, scary and avoidable. Adversity is nothing more than change that negatively affects your life.

Your power does not lie in resisting the change, the circumstance, or the behaviors of others.

Your power lies in your interpretation of the situation, in your ability to get up again, renew your life, and transform your pain into power.

I’ve said before that I don’t believe what happens to us is important. It is how we respond to what happens to us that is key to survival. If you are the type to make a mountain out of a molehill then you are going to have to deal with a mountain instead of a molehill. In other words, our problems are as big as we allow them to become.

It is imperative that you bring the adversity of divorce and what it means for your life into proper perspective.

It may seem huge and insurmountable to you, but is it really?

Is it going to mean physical injury, are you going to be burned at the stake, lose the love and support of your family and friends?

When we are consumed with our own problems, we may believe they are the worst in the universe. The truth is, they are not.

They may be of supreme importance to us, but if you look around, you can always find someone with worse problems that yours.

In other words, although you may feel overwhelmed, stressed out and at your wits’ end, there is life to live, a future to build and many things to look forward to. Those who manage to navigate adversity and come out smelling like a rose do so because they view adversity as a temporary setback.

And, they are able to take care of the business of life while also dealing with the adversity. They don’t give up on everything and focus totally on the adversity they are going through. This enables them to continue to grow through adversity.

Your attitude can reshape a hurtful experience and turn it into a new and promising experience.

Your own view of yourself will determine your view toward adversity.

See yourself as a strong and powerful person and you will view adversity as a challenge to work through, not a life altering occurrence you can’t get through.

When you respond positively and constructively to your biggest challenges, the qualities of strength, courage, character and perseverance emerge from deep inside of you. You need to decide whether you will allow your divorce experience to make or break you. Depending upon how you choose to perceive it, it could go either way.

Yes, navigating a period of adversity in life is work. Sunny, fun filled days are easier to get through than days filled with emotional pain or nasty legal issues to deal with. So, what makes the difference in the results we get while working our way through a period of adversity?

How much hope you have and how resilient you are. What you do and how you do it will directly impact who you are and the life you will live on the other side of adversity.

When the negativity of divorce becomes overwhelming you must have faith, hope and the resilience to move forward. Remaining hopeful that the future will be better and knowing you have the strength to persevere is what will help you make progress instead of give up.

Wherever we are in life, we are there for a reason. There are lessons to be learned from hard times. Adversity is not so much about contending with problems as it is learning more about what is inside us, about who we really are.

Adversity can bring out the best and the worst in us. It can pull the covers back and show us our true colors.

Adversity creates the ability for us to feel empathy and compassion for the human condition.

Adversity, if dealt with, with the proper attitude, patience and a willingness to learn can give us our greatest opportunity to shine.

Viewing adversity in the proper perspective, not giving it more importance than necessary, and learning the lesson contained in it means taking control of the adversity instead of it taking control of you.
[ Cathy Meyer ]

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10 LIFE LESSONS FROM ALBERT EINSTEIN

1. Follow Your Curiosity: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
2. Perseverance is Priceless: “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
3. Focus on the Present: “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”
4. Imagination is Powerful: “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
5. Make Mistakes: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
6. Live in the Moment: “I never think of the future – it comes soon enough.”
7. Create Value: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
8. Don’t Be Repetitive: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
9. Knowledge Comes From Experience: “Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience.”
10. Learn the Rules and Then Play Better: “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”

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ATTITUDE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Here Zig Ziglar tells a story of a woman with a negative attitude who hated her job, shifted her attitude and changed her life. Changing from a “fault-finder” to a “good-finder.” It’s all about ‘stinking thinkin’ and gratitude. Change begins and ends with you.


Video: “Attitude Makes All The Difference” – By: Zig Ziglar

[ Zig Ziglar ]

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SERENITY PRAYER

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

[ Reinhold Niebuhr (Originally by St. Augustine) ]

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DEEP THOUGHT(s):

“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them.”
[ Stanley Lindquist ]

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others because you won’t have time to make them all yourself.”
[ Albert Sheinwold ]

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
[ C.S. Lewis ]

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”
[ James Joyce ]

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
[ Khalil Gibran ]

“Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.”
[ Chuck Swindoll ]

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
[ Zig Ziglar ]

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
[ Zig Ziglar ]

“Adversity will surface in every life. How we meet it makes the difference.”
[ Marvin J. Ashton ]

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”
[ Henry Ford ]

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”
[ John C. Maxwell ]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
[ Romans 5:3-5 ].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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