Monthly Archives: November 2019

Coping with the Hard Things in Life

Life is hard, full of trials, pain,and disappointments. The trials are like the weather, they come in cycles or seasons, one day the sun is shining and the next it is pouring rain. There are lots of days when the sun is shining, you catch a limit of fish, everybody is getting along well, and no one is sick. Those days are great for recovering and getting strong, but they do tend to lull us into thinking that those good days are the norm when they are actually the exception for most.

For many the hard days make them bitter at others and God, they entertain long periods of self-pity, their reactions to pain makes them difficult to live with, and they justify and excuse the despair, and negative way they act and treat others because “it is so hard”.

And then there are those who cope with tough times, manage the thoughts and emotions well, grow in their character, grow in their love for God, and treat others with grace and kindness. In fact they become a major source of comfort and strength for others going through the same trial with them or a similar one.

Those who do well dealing with tough times have learned the skill of coping. People call them strong, they weren’t born strong, they became strong. Here is a simple list of 7 disciplines that will make you strong in managing the worst trials in life.

(1) God is infinitely strong and loves to give His strength to us, but it isn’t automatic. He also gives great joy and peace in the awfullest of times, but again, it isn’t automatic. We must trust Him, seek Him, and ask Him.

(2) Our self-talk or cyclical thoughts are critically important. Take every bitter, self-pity, critical, and negative thought captive. I do this by replacing them with faith statements that I have memorized and memorized Bible verses. “God loves me very much and I love Him.” “God is infinitely wise, but there is so much that I don’t understand.” “God is in charge and in control of my life, I choose to trust His every decision that He makes in regards to my life.”

(3) when I have a reoccurring thought or feeling that is getting the best of me I don’t let it win, I conquer it by writing about it. When I write about events that have happened to me, my responses, actions, behavior, emotions, and thoughts, everything shrinks in magnitude, and my thought then is, “I can do this“!

(4) Even in the very worst of times there are funny things that happen, share them, repeat them and laugh at them. Laughing in the midst of hard times isn’t being hard-hearted or unfeeling, and it fills us and others with strength.

(5) Discover activities that are renewing to your soul, and fill your emotional gas tank. Physical activities work great for me, especially working on projects with my hands. The best for me is fishing. I really wanted to go fishing yesterday because I knew Mom was going to die any day now so I found a friend that would go with me and we went surf fishing on the beach for red tailed perch. The sun was shining, we caught 20 fish, and the fellowship was great. On the drive home Patty called me with the news that Mom had just taken her last breath. I was ready to face this and to help others to manage tough times as well.

(6) Control what comes out of your mouth. Thinking self-pity, poor me, bitter thoughts is like driving a nail into two boards. One board is our heart and the other is the programmed way of treating others that is selfish, grouchy, and rude. But when we speak those same thoughts it is like bending the nail over on the back side of the second board. Talk like a strong person who is walking with the Lord and totally trusting Him. If you act and talk like a strong person, before long you will be one.

(7) look for opportunities to help others who are struggling with the trials of life. Encourage, give advice, pray for them and with then. A basic law of God is, the more we give the more we receive.

Mom is in Heaven

My Mom died today and at the moment she did die she received a new glorified body and is in heaven talking with my Dad. All I can do is use my sanctified imagination concerning what Mom’s day was like, what her conversation with Dad was like, what her first words to Jesus were, because we have very little information in the Bible concerning the details of after death. It is the unknown that makes us nervous about death, our own and that of our loved ones. It is probably the area of our life where we need the greatest level of faith. If God is real, if heaven is real, and we believe it with all of our heart, we should all be able to say with Paul, “to depart,and be with Christ is very much better“.

2 Corinthians 5:1-8 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

“Prefer to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord”

How many can say that is true of them , if not, why not.

Thanksgiving

Over my 71 years of living there have been a lot of hard and difficult days and experiences, as in any person’s life, but I have to work to remember them, they have just sort of faded away in my memory. But I know and have talked to a lot of people that remember all the bad things, the hard trials like they were yesterday because they think about them repeatedly, over and over again. The difference between me and those who remember clearly the negative, the sad, the hurtful, and the pain is I spend my time thinking and reviewing the good and positive experiences, and ignoring the bad. Three times in the book of Philippians Paul says, “rejoice always”, and it isn’t hard to figure out what that means in the Greek, it means rejoice always. Also in the book of Philippians Paul says, “set your mind on what is pure, and good, and honorable, and lovely, that means review regularly the good things in life and forget the bad. When any person thinks mostly about the good things that happened to them in the past and chooses not to think about the bad they will feel incredibly blessed by God. Today, all day, I mentally worked at remembering as many good, positive things and experiences about my life as I could, especially the things that revolved around my Mom. Tonight I am feeling so blessed that I am thinking that God has spoiled me. It is so sad to hear people question God’s love for them, even His existence because of the trials in their life. It is all about “mind set”, what we consciously choose to think about over and over. Proverbs says, “what a person thinks about is who they become”. Today was Thanksgiving Day, a good day, I think I will make every day Thanksgiving Day.

Mom Resurrected

About noon today Patty texted me with a picture of Mom sleeping, and under the picture she wrote, “taken this morning”. I took it to mean that the Lord had taken Mom, that she had died. I was outside working on my car when I got the text so I went in the house and sat down in my chair and started humming, ” I’ll Fly Away”, then I started praying, thanking the Lord for my Mom, and then I started crying like a baby. After a bit I called Patty, and when I started to talk to her I got all choked up and she said, “What’s wrong?” And I am thinking, ” What do you mean, what’s wrong”, and I said, “Didn’t Mom just die?” And Patty said, “no, she is sleeping and very comfortable”. I said, “You texted me that Mom was taken this morning”, and she said, “The picture of her sleeping was taken this morning”. Oh great, I have to go through that all over again! I guess you can call that a practice grieving.

I’ll Fly Away

Way back over 40 years ago when JBC first started as a church I sang in a Male quartet. Because we were so small we were pretty hard up for special music😀! We only sang in public one time and the song we sang was “I’ll Fly Away”. I memorized it really good, and I have not forgotten the words and I sing it periodically when I am by myself. Today I have been singing it constantly as I think about Mom about ready to head off to heaven.One of my favorite passages in the Bible about heaven is John 14:1-3. It is such a beautiful promise to us.John 14:1-3 Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

One time on a bicycle trip we came upon a place where two rivers ran together into one. Two things made it very memorable, the first was the rivers came from totally opposite directions and literally smashed into each other which created quite a big boil, and the second thing was one of the rivers was really muddy and the other was crystal clear. About a mile from the confluence of the two, the river was calm, a blue-green color, and very beautiful. That is a great picture of my emotions right now. One river of emotion is extreme sadness over Mom leaving, and the other is great joy and peace that she is going to heaven and will be over all the grind of life.

Fear of Death

I am not facing death right now in my own life so it is relatively easy to say “I have no fear of dying”. My faith is strong and I truly believe that the moment I die I am in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 2:14-16 says, “that through His own death He (Jesus) might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

Those verses sound like I ought to be free of the fear of dying as a result of my faith and spiritual growth.

Philippians 1:21-23 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;

“To depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better” WOW, that is strong faith.

Paul says the same thing in 2 Corinthians 5:8,

“we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

I prefer to be absent from this old, tired, creaky, ugly body and be at home with the Lord. That sounds so right, and courageous, and full of faith. I like to think I am there now. Paul said the only reason he didn’t want to die right yet was because he wanted to bear some more fruit, he wanted to save some more people and teach them to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. I want that as well, to bear more fruit, to accomplish some more that matters for all eternity.

At the end of his life Paul said, “I have finished the race”. Jesus said the same word as He hung on the cross, ” It is finished”. It would be nice to know at the end of my life that I accomplished all that God gave me to do, I finished.

Patty and I drove up to see my Mom today, she is only days away from dying, maybe only hours. I came back home and Patty stayed up there to help and as I was driving home alone I reminisced again about Mom’s life. I came to the conclusion in my thinking that Mom finished the race, she did all the work that God gave her to do, and she did it well. When she is absent from her body she will be present with the Lord.

What If?

We went and saw the movie, “Midway” tonight, and it was a very intense war movie. My Dad was on the Yorktown which sank in the battle of Midway, one of four ships he was on that were sunk in battle during the war. As I was watching the movie I got to thinking, if my Dad had been killed during the war as many men were, and he certainly was in many situations where the possibility was high, I wouldn’t have been born, and none of my kids would have been born, and grandkids, and future great grandkids. One little change in history would have resulted in huge changes down stream from that one shift in history. As I sat there thinking about it as the battle on the big screen raged with countless people dying, I thought, I am here as a self-aware person, with a soul, thoughts, dreams, I am born-again, a follower of Jesus Christ and as such I will live forever and ever with Him. Then I thought of Psalms 139:13-16,

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

It is fascinating to think about the fact that God wanted me to exist, planned for me to exist, and worked out all the details for me to be alive and part of His future. That is the ultimate in self- worth when you think about it. I often puzzle about the existence of God’s sovereignty over all, and my free will. I think that only an infinitely wise God could work that all out. But, here I am, wow, how did that happen!