Emotional Shock and Awe
In our ever-changing, 24-hour news cycle, media saturated world, what used to be experienced as a periodic catastrophic event, now comes across the airwaves as a constant assault on our emotional wellbeing. Many in the next generation never follow the news. They’ve been deluged from birth with an avalanche of bad news. It’s left them psychologically fragile. Additionally, people can say whatever they want to on social media, and often without consequence. Emotional shock and awe, from many directions, assaults our hearts and minds. Millennials are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide than generations past. I, too, guard what I see and hear. I do what the Bible recommends, “Guard my heart with all diligence, for out of it proceeds my life.”
The Integrity of the News
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t trusted the integrity of news content since I became an adult, many decades ago. All news is processed information; someone’s view of the world, often times, based upon their values. Good news doesn’t sell; it has to be shocking, even salacious, to get people’s attention. So, be careful that your world-view is based upon the Word of God and not the shifting morals of man. The Bible warns us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world…” (Romans 12:2, NLT) And adds, “…the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God…” (1 Corinthians 3:19, NLT) Establish convictions and values based on God’s eternal Word, not the world’s values. I’m not saying be unaware of what’s happening in our nation and world, but have a healthy skepticism of all news until the truth finally emerges.
Hope Comes From Overcoming
All of us want to become stronger and healthier emotionally. Therefore, we need to realize our emotional health will rise or fall on the failures and obstacles we have overcome. Our struggles become the foundation and filter for how we view life and even the hope we have for the future. Only by properly processing the difficulties of life will we have hope for what’s ahead. The Bible says, “patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope.” (Romans 5:4, TPT) The opposite must, likewise, be true. Not processing life properly will make us feel hopeless. It’s why God says, eight times, in the Book of Revelation, “To him who overcomes…” ending with, “…He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7, NKJV)
What God’s Given Us Is Enough
Have you ever thought, “What God’s given me isn’t enough!” I know I have. HA! Pretty much every day. But, it’s a lie, first believed by Lucifer, the worship leader of Heaven, who thought he deserved more than what God had given him, and so rebelled and became the Devil. Likewise, one third of the angels agreed, and rebelled as well, becoming demons. What they’d been given was more than enough, but they chose to believe a lie, rather than believe the truth. The seed God’s given you is big enough to meet the need. That’s in part why God says, “Strengthen the things which remain, and are about to die.” (Revelation 3:2, NKJV) Gideon’s 300 men were enough to defeat their enemy. All Moses had to do was throw down the staff God had given him. What’s in your hand? What has God placed in your heart? Use it! It’s enough to meet the need!
You’re Not Broken!
The other day, I heard my daughter, Havilah, offer healing insights as she was preaching. She said something quite profound, “You’re not broken! You just don’t know who you are!” WOW! The lights came on! What if our mental and emotional health could be best achieved by not fixating on what we’re not, but on who we are, and how God actually sees us? His view of us is infinitely more important than how we see ourselves. And as the One who made us, He’s the only Person who can fix us. What would inspire us more than becoming the person God intended us to be; to fulfill His will. That’s not just what we should want most. It’s what He wants most for us, and the very thing He’s fighting to make happen. “You’re not broken! You just don’t know who you really are!”
Drafting in Cycling
There’s a technique in cycling called drafting that occurs when a lead rider goes before other cyclists and blocks the wind. Additional riders are tucked in a vortex where they no longer push against the wind, but are literally being ‘carried’ along by the eddying flow of the air pocket created behind the lead rider. Because of the effort to shield others, the group of cyclists go faster, receiving the benefit of following a leader. It is also one of the many benefits of riding in a group, and requires less effort for those following. Ironically, the optimum drafting position is being as close to the leader’s wheel as possible. To me, this all speaks to the value of fellowship and community. We need each other, and following godly leaders can make our lives better in so many ways.
Because You Say So!
In Luke 5, when Jesus first met the Apostle Peter, he borrowed His boat to preach to a crowd on the shoreline. Afterward, he told Peter to go catch some fish. Peter’s response demonstrated both the reality of our struggle here on Earth, how frustrating and fruitless it often seems. Yet, how critical it is that we believe God more than the hopelessness of our circumstances. Peter responded, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5 NIV) “Because You say so!” WOW! How would our lives change if you and I responded to God’s Word like that? Peter was basically saying, “I don’t care how hopeless and fruitless it’s been. Because you said it, Jesus, I’m going to believe it and do it.”
The Best Hugs I Ever Received
In the early 1990’s, my family and I lived in Los Angeles. We attended a great church and had wonderful friends, but because of the vastness of the metropolitan area, I never saw anyone I knew in public. It was very different from my experience in the previous two decades living in small towns. One day, I was walking down a busy street and a saw a friend from my church. I was so excited to see him, I gave him a big hug. He was standing with a half-dozen special needs men he worked with, who when they saw him hug me, lined up to each give me long, joyful hugs. It made me emotional! The hug drought in that large city had ended. Frankly, they were some of the best hugs I’ve ever had. End the hug drought in someone’s life today.
Are We Blind To The Blind?
In John 9, Jesus healed a man born blind, who spent his life as a beggar. When his neighbors heard he had been healed, some didn’t believe it. They said, “It’s not him; just someone who looks like him.” It reminds me of how easy it is to not fully look at the hurting people around us. We don’t look at them long enough to fully recognize who they are. We’re blind to the needy neighbors around us, even though we may have seen them over and over for decades. Because we never really look at them, our unbelief overpowers reality. Which of our neighbors is invisible to us? Why don’t we see them? Is it because really seeing them would require us to love them, touch them, speak to them, be kind to them, help them? “Jesus, open my eyes to see the needs of those around me.”
Living Out Our Commitments
In John 11, Christ’s disciples said they were ready to die for Him. But when opportunity came for them to give their lives, they all ran away. It’s great to have convictions, but we really need to think through the implications of those convictions so that, when the opportunity arises, we will be faithful and do the right thing. People make vows to their spouses, but are unfaithful. When temptation comes, they bow to momentary pleasure, and abandon those they promised to love and cherish. Sure, all of us have at times failed to keep commitments we’ve made. But, we don’t have to perpetuate momentary failures. Remember the words of Jesus in Revelation 2, “Think about how far you have fallen! Repent and do the works of love you did at first.” (Revelation 2:5, TPT)
Of Leftovers and Reruns
God never repeats or duplicates anything! Every molecule in the universe is an original. Every moment in our lives is a first. The sun sets on the best and worst of days, but will rise tomorrow with God saying, “Watch this! You ain’t seen nothing yet!” If you and I are longing for the old days, we’re going to miss the new things God wants to do today. God doesn’t eat leftovers or watch reruns. Everything He does is brand, spanking new. Isaiah 43:19 says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19, NLT) Wishing for the “good old days” may keep us from seeing the good days ahead. Enjoy today! There are gifts hidden in each moment.
Recognizing Your Breakthrough Moment
Would you recognize your breakthrough moment: the time God wants to open a door of opportunity for you to go to the next level, to receive a victory… a healing… a revelation? It’s time to discern in your spirit a shift in the heavenlies. Elijah said, “I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” (1 Kings 18:41, NLT) Moses told the helpless Israelites, “…stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord,” (Exodus 14:13, NKJV) After being beaten, Paul and Silas praised and worshipped God in prison. (Acts 16:25) Each of these breakout moments were counter intuitive. Our breakthrough moment will always be at low tide, when we need the God of the impossible or else. Thinking, “I’ve never seen it this bad!” should remind you that you are closer than ever to the breakthrough you need. Remember, the darkest and coldest moment is always right before the sun rises.