All posts by nazzalbros1

Where Is Your Focus?

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”—2Corinthians 3:18 KJV

A friend shared with me an enlightening moment in her life. For years, she didn’t get along with her mother, and this failing relationship had been a blueprint for how she had built many of her other relationships. She was determined to not be like her mother, which had driven most of her thoughts and moods for many years. One day, her therapist gave her a challenge; she was to visit with her mother and ask her what it had been like for her as a child, growing up. She was not to speak; she was only to listen.

What her mother revealed was shocking. As my friend listened to her mom, she realized that her mother’s experience growing up was almost identical to her own. She too said her goal was to not be like her mother. However, she had become that person; she just couldn’t see it.

As my friend returned to her therapist and shared what she learned, her therapist helped her to realize that if she didn’t take her focus off of what she hated, in the years to come, her children would describe her as she described her own mother, and as her mother described her grandmother.

By beholding, we become changed. May you have the courage to reject anger and an unforgiving spirit and instead focus on the things you love, leaving a different legacy for your children than the one you inherited.

Are You Listening?

“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”- Proverbs 1:33 KJV

Having grown up in the Midwest, I’m accustomed to hearing sirens during tornado season. Large hail, greenish skies, and torrential rain are a dead giveaway that something is coming. Most times, we take cover in the basement only to emerge and realize that the storm missed us. I have to admit that many of us who experience this phenomenon begin to not take tornados as seriously as we should. After all, disaster always seems to strike somewhere and someone else … until it strikes home.

Have you ever listened to yourself? Do you sound like a wildebeest after walking up the stairs? Does your snoring wake you up? Can your gas break the sound barrier? Do your joints creak? Are your ears ringing? Your body talks to you all day, but most of us have grown accustomed to these sirens and no longer take them seriously.

Take the time to investigate what your body is telling you and then remedy the problem! While most of us survive the storms of life and emerge to live another day, so often someone doesn’t make it because they thought the hail, rain, green skies, and sirens were just like all the other storms from days past. Only when the effects are raining down on you do you begin to realize how serious your situation is, and by that time it’s most often too late. May you have the courage to stop ignoring yourself and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

Learning Curve

“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it sprouted, grew up, and produced a crop—one bearing thirtyfold, another sixtyfold, and another a hundredfold.”—Mark 4:8 BSB

My grandmother use to say the best experiences are the ones that are bought paid for. I don’t know why, but it seems like we really don’t believe the stove is hot until we touch it. Sometimes babies know more about staying away from a hot stove than us adults, since we are bent on doing things our way.

When the experiences of life happen to you, how do you process and receive the information? Do you immediately reject what you see and hear because it doesn’t fit what you want to believe is best for your life? Do you become excited about your ‘a-ha moment’ and decide to do better, but the moment any little adversity comes, you change course? Or maybe you see where you need to change, but the toxic company you keep prevents you from making any real progress.

The only way to grow is to take in what you’ve learned, allow it to take root, and begin to make meaningful changes in your life. When you allow good things to grow in your life, you’re not the only one who gets to enjoy it—those around you are blessed by the abundance of your good crops as well.

While we each have a different way of learning, we all know a lesson when we have been taught one. May you have the courage to listen to life’s teachers and finally graduate to bigger and better things.

Sweet Nothings

Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.” –Hosea 14:2 NKJV

Hosea married a woman who kept making a promise of fidelity, but he forever had to go and bring her home from another lover who had whisked her away with some promise that made her feel like what was out there was better than what she had.

Many of us have had the pleasure of enjoying something sweet. While you may not taste anything right now, the promise of it is enough to bring a smile. However, there comes a time when people don’t want to hear about the fruit, smell the fruit, or see the fruit—they want to enjoy the fruit.

Have you been whispering sweet nothings to yourself or to someone else? Do you keep making a promise that you have yet to fulfill? How long ago did you tell yourself that you were going to change and do some things differently, so that you might experience better results in your life? Yet here you are, still hoping for change without doing anything to invoke it.

Sweet nothings are just that … nothing. They only leave you feeling used and mistreated. You enjoy the luster of the thought, but it leaves you feeling hungry because a promise can only be enjoyed fully when it is kept.

The fruit of your lips is not just what comes out of your mouth; it’s a result that comes about when you act affirmatively on what comes out of your mouth. This fulfillment is the sweetness that can turn a bad relationship around, reverse an illness you have been struggling with, or even help you sleep better at night. May you have the courage to taste the fruit that you have been talking about for so long.

The Beauty We Miss

“I have heard many things; miserable comforters are you all.”—Job16:2 NKJV

Light is essential for everything. It helps plants grow, it diminishes depression, it can communicate messages, it is used in the field of medicine, and it is even a cleanser able to rid the earth of dangerous pathogens. At first glance, light appears to look one way—the way it looks when you turn the lights on in your house or walk outside. Not until the rain bends the light do you realize that several colors make up that one light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Those other colors were always in the light, doing their part to ensure that not one essential element was lacking for the growth and progress of all that relies on it.

Some people in your life bring beauty that cannot be measured, but if you allow yourself to only see things one way, you miss all they have to offer. Do you choose to live by the rule, “It’s my way or the highway?” Well, that attitude works well until your car is the one that breaks down. Must you always be right, which means everyone else is always wrong? This mindset only means you resist being taught and will constantly have to waste precious time and energy repeating the same lessons over and over. Would you rather spend endless time arguing about what you dislike in others as opposed to what you appreciate in them?

Job’s friends saw the situation their friend was in and thought he was somehow the cause of it. They had forgotten all the times he used his knowledge and wealth to take care of the fatherless and the widows. Job was so much more than what they saw, and at a time when he truly needed a friend they only made his suffering worse. Similarly, so much beauty surrounds you; your life and the lives of those you love will be greatly enriched if you muster the courage to see it.

I Missed My Exit

“‘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.’”—Jeremiah 29:11ESV

Years ago, long before GPS, we primitive people relied on maps and gas station attendants for directions. On one particular day, I was visiting a friend in Atlanta whose house I had been to many times. I could remember what the house looked like, but I couldn’t remember where it was. Still, I started out with a foolish confidence that as I began driving it would all come back to me. Well, that might work in Mayberry, where the one road leads into the town, but for a large city with many exits, twists, and turns, my strategy was an utter failure.

I must have driven around highway 285 several times, hoping that the exit would call out to me, “This way! It’s this way!” Finally, I got off the exit to find a pay phone (remember, this was a long time ago), where I called my friend to get his address and some street names that would let me know I was on the right track.

That day, I spent several hours lost and frustrated because I knew where I wanted to go, but I didn’t know how to get there. How often do we go in circles because we really don’t know the way? We search with a few notes scribbled on a piece of paper, but without having put a real plan in place, thus guaranteeing that we’ll spend a great deal of time wandering.

There is a God in heaven who knows the way, and if we are willing to listen to His directions, we’ll find that our journey, while filled with unexpected things, will also be filled with hope, as we are assured that we’ll reach our destination. May you have the courage to let Jesus take the wheel.

The Greatest Gift

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.”—Luke 1:31

Imagine it’s the present year (2021), and a sixteen-year-old girl says she’s pregnant, but she has never been with a man before. Oh, and another thing … her baby is going to be the Savior of the world.

I can see your eyes side rolling from here, but the truth is the people of yesterday were no different than they are today. Of course, they thought she had a fling before her marriage to Joseph. Of course, they thought Joseph was foolish for raising the illegitimate son of some stranger. And of course, they thought Jesus was delusional for thinking He was the Son of God, and was Himself the answer to all the world’s problems.

The wise men traveled from the East to offer their gifts to the Son of God and to acknowledge him as their King. Likewise, the greatest gift you can offer the Lord Jesus Christ is not your time, money, or things. The best gift you can give him is to believe He is who He says He is, and allow Him to live in you and be your healer, restorer, deliverer, redeemer, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Wonderful God, Wise Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of your Peace.

Have you tried everything this world has to offer, with all its promises of ‘great gifts,’ only to find another lump of coal? This Christmas season, may you have the courage to take a leap a faith. There, you’ll find that the One you have run to has been with you from the very beginning—He was simply waiting for you to accept Him for who He truly is … your Savior.

Unappreciated

Matthew 17:12 NKJV

“But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise, the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”

Peter, James, and John had an opportunity to see something that no one else witnessed — the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. They saw him shine as a bright light; they saw Moses and Elijah speaking to him; they even heard the voice of God saying, “Listen to what Jesus has to say,” but they came off the mountain and became stressed because they didn’t have the money, they needed to pay taxes.

These men had a dream of what their world would look like when the Savior came. They believed he would shake things up and grant them riches, power, and dominance, so the moment didn’t change them because it didn’t look the way they wanted it to. They didn’t recognize it for what it was. Elijah had already come, and now the Savior Himself was with them — their prayers had been answered.

A woman I knew once prayed and asked God to send her someone to take away her loneliness. Well, what she had in mind was a good-looking man who would wine and dine her, read poetry to her, gaze into her eyes, and tell her how much he loved her. Instead, what God sent was a mangy old mutt named Brutus, and he turned out to be the best friend she ever had. No, he didn’t read poetry, but he enjoyed long walks in the park. He didn’t wine and dine her, but he appreciated every meal she prepared. He never gazed into her eyes and said ‘I love you,’ but he never left her side. Have you been asking God for something? Is it possible that he has already given it to you, but you don’t recognize it because it didn’t come in the form you want? May you have the courage to look carefully at the things in your life. You may just discover that the one thing you always wanted, you already have.

Letting Go

Isaiah 43:19

“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

One of the hardest things I experienced after being diagnosed with myositis and interstitial lung disease was the change I had to make in my lifestyle. Having worked in and for the military, I was constantly on the go, and I was comfortable with what I believed was my purpose. I had a rewarding job and thoughtful, kind friends. I remember the day my doctor told me that if I wanted any chance for a stable life with this disease, I should consider relocating to a warmer climate.

Trying to find my way in a new place, 3,000 miles away from everything I knew and loved, was difficult. I had to adjust to a new time zone, new people, new doctors, and new friends. It was hard to enjoy the new things I was experiencing because I wanted the familiar things from my past. At one point, I almost went back; I had to remind myself of what was waiting for me back there — namely, more relapses, more sick days away from work, and increased hospitalizations. You see, I was almost willing to go back to a place that kept me sick because I was too afraid to embrace the new and the unknown.

It took some time to find my way in the great state of California, but here, my disease has remained in remission, which has allowed me to do things I could never have done in my previous home. As a result, I have found a new purpose and a new hope in my future. If I had clung to the past and what was, I would have never enjoyed the moments of what is.

May you have the courage to leave the past where it is and move toward the good things that are waiting for you in the future.

Wasted

Matthew 25:18 NKJV

“But he who had received one went and dug in the ground and hid his lord’s money.”

When I was a young child, I saw a toy I wanted in the store. The price was 15 dollars, but I only had one dollar, so I went home that day feeling pretty upset that I couldn’t have that prized possession. I remember spending the one dollar I did have on something wasteful; since I did not have the fifteen dollars for what I wanted, the one dollar was almost meaningless to me.

Are you in a place where you don’t think that what you have been given is enough to accomplish what you want, so you bury what you do have, which renders it of no value? I went to that store many times over several months. Sometimes I had five dollars, and sometimes I had eight dollars, but I never had 15. It didn’t occur to me that had I been wise and patient, over time I could have saved the money and purchased that toy. No, I had to have what I wanted exactly when I wanted it, or I would have nothing at all, and that is exactly what I got — nothing.

May you have the courage to treat the one talent or gift you have with the same excitement and creativity as a person with much more. Then you will see it grow, and the interest that it yields will allow you to enjoy a fullness you never imagined. Now, go dig that one talent up and get to work.

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