Turbulence: A Sign of Your Elevation

The first time I stepped on an airplane, I was bound for Miami, FL, on my way to what would be an incredible family vacation.  It was a beautiful, partly-cloudy day with pristine skies; a perfect day for flying.  As I stood gazing out of the airport window, I was overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the aircraft as it approached the gate to receive its passengers.  I was so nervous, I could feel my heart pounding in my throat.  It was frightening and exciting all at the same time.

I sat down in my window seat, fastened my seat belt, and eagarly endured all of the pre-flight checks.  I was ready for my first flight…

…Or so I thought.

As the plane began its taxi in preparation for take-off, the deafening shrill of the jet engines penetrated the plane’s cabin as we rounded the runway to position number one.  The captain’s voice calmly flowed through the speakers informing us that we had been cleared for take-off.  A few seconds later, the engines fired up and before I knew it, I was pinned to my seat as the plane catapulted down the runway at a furious speed.  I could feel the G-Forces pressing against my chest as the front of the plane tilted upward and took to the skies.

As I looked out of my window, the ground fell away, and the cars grew smaller and smaller until they were completely out of sight.  Ultimately, we ascended to about 35,000 feet and leveled out in smooth flight.  The snow-white clouds beneath us were like huge, fluffy pillows suspended in the sky.  Everything was so quiet and still in the cabin, I wondered if we were moving at all.

Then…that’s when it happened!

All of a sudden, the plane started to shake and shift violently in mid-air.  My question whether we were moving or not was horrifically answered.  I felt the drops and dips of the plane in the pit of my stomach as we encountered what is known as Clear-Air Turbulence (CAT).  I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.  All I could think about was how high up we were.  At 35,000 feet, I gripped the armrest, and held on for dear life.  As I looked around, I noticed that the more experienced flyers were strangely calm.  Some were even sleeping.  I wondered to myself how they could remain so poised while we were being tossed around thousands of feet above the ground.

Just before I went into all-out panic mode, the captain’s voice came across the intercom very nonchalantly saying:

“Hi folks, looks like we’re experiencing some rough air.  I’m going to change altitudes to see if I can find some smoother air.  Buckle your seat belts and bear with me until we level out.”

At that point, the plane began an upward thrust, and in a few minutes, the shaking stopped, and all was calm again.

 

 God, The Almighty Pilot

Our lives are much like flying in an airplane at 35,000 feet.  God will sometimes allow us to hit a rough patch to shake us up a little.  When we’re navigating through this life, there are times when we get comfortable and forget that we were destined to lead lives of greatness, significance, and productivity.  We were created to serve in the capacity which God has ordained for us, thereby leaving a legacy in the earth long after we are gone.

We are ambassadors for Christ 2 Corinthians 5:20.  This world is not our final destination.  We are in flight to another place; another world.  Not only that, but we should live our lives in constant pursuit of God, who ushers us to higher altitudes in Him 2 Corinthians 3:18.  So you should never get too comfortable in the current state that you’re in.  Always expect more.

I believe that turbulence is designed to be a reminder that we are en route to the next level of our lives. The altitude at which you’re flying may not be sufficient for you any longer.  Maybe you’ve outgrown the job you’re in, or the group of people you’ve been hanging around, and you’re starting to experience some type of turbulence in your life.  Maybe you’re experiencing some rough air in your health or your finances.  Take this opportunity to seek God for direction, because quite often the turbulence is a sign that you’re on Heaven’s docket for elevation and promotion.  One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Corinthians 4:17:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

When God has elevation planned for you, trouble tends to always preceed your promotion.  However, rest assured, there is another level of glory just waiting for you on the other side of that rough air.  God is preparing to take you to greater heights, and the turbulence is your cue to go ahead and check your attitude, and start expecting a change in your altitude.

When turbulence hits, many times the only thing you can do is just ride it out.  As difficult as this may be, faith and patience becomes the keys to receiving the blessing.  Hebrews 6:12 reminds us that this is how we inherit the promises of God.

The more frequently I travelled by air, the more I started to realize that turbulence was just a part of flying.  Now that I understand a little more about what turbulence is, I understand why the people on my very first flight were able to remain so calm during the shaking.  Now, I’ve turned into one of those calm flyers.  When turbulence hits, I just keep my seat belt buckled and just ride it out.  Even though the turbulence may seem extreme, and your faith may be rattled, remember who is piloting your life.

Be encouraged my friends.  The turbulence that you’re experiencing is only temporary.  It won’t last forever.  In fact, The Almighty Pilot,  just may be preparing to elevate you to a new altitude in Him.

Buckle up, and ride it out…

ELEVATION IS ON THE WAY.

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

 BE

Editor: Jaime Evans

 

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Why I Don’t Like Easter

Before you break out the hammer and nails to crucify me, take a second to see if you agree with some of the things that I attempt to elucidate in this post.  When you’re done reading, if I’m successful, maybe you’ll share my sentiments.

With the recent passing of the Easter season, I contemplated extending an apology to all of my readers for not submitting a trite Easter post.  The type of post that says:

Hey everyone, Easter is here.  Now go to church to check the “Easter” checkbox.

Well, I thought about the apology and I changed my mind.  Although me not posting wasn’t intentional,  I’m somewhat pleased it worked out that way.  To be perfectly honest, the more I think about what we’ve turned Easter into, the more I realize that I don’t like it very much for the following reasons:

  1. Misplaced Motives
  2. Habitual Hypocrisy
  3. Easter Ends

 

Misplaced Motives

You may be able to relate to my stroll down Memory Lane here.  My earliest recollections of Easter were going shopping with my mother to get a new suit and a new pair of shoes.  I would spend all day in the barber shop (hated it) getting a fresh Easter haircut so that I could look like a million bucks when I stood in front of the church to recite my Easter speech.  Easter to me was more about a flawless look and performance than about celebrating new life in Christ.  My motives were misplaced.  Of course, when I grew up and accepted Christ personally, I realized what Easter was all about.  My motives and methods for celebrating Easter totally changed.  Easter became personal.  Jesus willingly suffered and died in my place before I even had the ability to know or understand that I needed Him.  Jesus subjected himself to the pangs of death.  He loved me so much that even though I deserved eternal death, Christ intercepted that judgment and died once so that I could live forever.  All of a sudden, the new suits and new shoes lost their luster when compared to Christ’s love for me (Thank You, Jesus).

I’m afraid many people still have misplaced motives when celebrating Easter.  This is a systemic epidemic within the church.  The message of the cross has been grossly abused, and we as an assembly have failed to convey and reproduce the power that is innate in its pure, unadulterated delivery.  The message of the cross is designed to initiate change in us.  Crucifixion was by far the harshest form of punishment dealt by the Roman government.  Even for the guilty, it was inhumane.  Within that framework, Jesus was led like an innocent lamb to the slaughter to pay a debt that He did not owe, and one that we could not pay.  The thought alone elicits an onerous emotion within us, thereby causing within us repentance, reverence, and ultimately right relationship.

 

 Habitual Hypocrisy

Another problem I have with how we handle Easter is the  hypocrisy that always rises to the surface.  Hypocrisy takes on many forms, all of which stem from one main motivation:

To appear to be someone that you’re not

The word hypocrite derives its context from the illustration of an actor who wears a mask in a stage play.  I think it’s safe to say that we have all indulged in our fair share of hypocrisy at some point.  However, I would like to cast some  light on a very specific type.  We all know people who don’t necessarily have church attendance as a priority on their to-do list.  Interestingly enough, an incredible phenomenon takes place every year on Easter Sunday as sanctuaries across the nation are packed to the max for an impressive display of liturgical pageantry.  Everyone shows up with their masks erected and dressed to impress.  We all know  and have witnessed what happens when you try to find these same people the other 51 Sundays of the year (they’re nowhere to be found).  I don’t have as much of an issue with this type of hypocrisy as I do with the next type that I’ll explain now.

It seems the people who attend church regularly, carry a different disposition, which I still categorize as hypocrisy.  In a nutshell, it’s the proverbial, “holier than thou” attitude.  I can’t emphasize how much I detest this type of hypocrisy.  The deception associated with this mentality says, “I attend church regularly, therefore I’m closer to God than you are.”  These people think regular church attendance alone is somehow gives them a special status with God.  Nothing is further from the truth.  In fact, this type of hypocrisy was the attitude that fueled the people responsible for killing Jesus.  They were so blinded by their own hypocrisy that they totally misjudged Jesus, because He didn’t arrive in the pretty “Messiah” package they were expecting.

Hypocrisy causes a blindness of sorts.  If you’ve ever worn a mask, you know that you lose almost all of your peripheral vision.  Therefore, when you operate from a hypocritical platform, you’re operating with limited vision.  How can you help others when you can’t see yourself?  In Matthew 7: 1-5, Jesus explains how a hypocritical slant can totally distort your perspective:

5.   Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

 

Easter Ends

For Christians, celebrating Easter should be a lifestyle.  The concept of commemorating Jesus’ death and resurrection is vital, however, the celebration should never be limited to one weekend a year.  The Resurrection is so much more than that.  It’s an invitation to experience the greatest power known to man through a genuine relationship with the risen Lord.  When you open your heart to Christ, your perceptions change, and everything becomes brand new according to 2 Corinthians 5:17.  When you fall in love with Jesus, and truly walk with Him, you will find reasons every day to celebrate, because it becomes evident that He lives in you.  Each day that you wake up, it’s a day of significance.  According the Lamentations 2, God’s mercies are brand new each morning, thus proving His great faithfulness.  Now that’s a reason to celebrate.

In conclusion, according to Colossians 3, new life in Christ is all about seeking God and discovering new frontiers in Him.  By all means, let us continue to commemorate Easter Sunday, by allowing the power thereof to permeate our lives and produce a lifestyle of results.

Let the celebration continue beyond the benediction.

 

As always, thanks for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 

Your Struggle: The Gateway To Glory

If you are reading this post, there is one thing I can tell you about yourself without knowing anything about you.  With a reasonable amount of cerainty, I know that you have a struggle.  Not just any struggle, but one that plagues you perpetually like an opponent that just won’t fall.  The struggle that I’m referring to is the one that keeps reappearing at the most inopportune times, just to fight against all of your best laid plans and your most optomistic motivations.  Whether it’s persistent illness, addiction, a problematic personality flaw, a criminal record…(and the list goes on); these things can make us lose confidence and self-esteem. 

But wait…NOT SO FAST!

Before you tap out and throw in the towel, I’d like to submit to you a profound truth.  One that comes from an authority much higher than all of us.  Consider this:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  (2 Corinthians 4:17)

In essence, your struggle activates the perfect strength and ability of God, but only when you learn how to tap into it properly. 

 

God’s R.O.I.

God is proactive, not reactive.  In other words, nothing about you shocks or intimidates Him.  He knows everything, and I do mean everything, about you.  He knows all of your sins, struggles, and shortcomings (past, present, and future).  He knows the decisions you will make and your motives behind those decisions. He has even made provisions for you when you stray away from Him.  In fact, God has invested His most precious commodity in you…the Blood of Jesus His Son.  He did it because of your sins, and He is “banking” on your struggle becuase in your struggle is where He receives the R.O.I. (Return On Investment) from your life.  That return on investment is called GLORY. 

That’s right!

Right in the middle of your weakness and your struggle, God’s grace is standing by ready, willing, and able to make tremendous power available to you through the Holy Spirit.  The sooner you humble yourself, acknowledge God’s power, and receive His grace, that is when you qualify for more grace.

“But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:7)

 

God’s Glory Revealed

I have been ruminating a very interesting question.  As a matter of fact, that question combined with a powerful message entitled, “An Incredible Invitation,” taught by Pastor Shomari White (Senior Pastor of Have Life Church in Charlotte, NC), gave birth to this post.  Consider this:

Why didn’t God heal Moses of his speech impediment at the burning bush? (Exodus 3) 

We all know that God could have just touched Moses’ mouth like He did when He called Isaiah (Isaiah 6).  But He didn’t.  Instead, when Moses brought it up, God’s response was:

Now therefore go, I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou must say.  (Exodus 4:12)

Of course those who are familiar with the account know that He did allow Aaron to accompany Moses, but that was not God’s ideal plan.  Upon closer scrutiny, I realized that this wasn’t the only time God refused to be moved by a person’s weakness.  Let’s take a look at Paul and his infamous “thorn in the flesh.”  I believe it is by design that no one really knows for certain what Paul’s “thorn” was, because it is indicative of our “thorns.”  It’s not labeled specifically in the Bible, so that we all can label it ourseleves, and know that just like God’s grace was sufficient for Paul; His grace is certainly sufficient for us.  Some may say that Paul’s thorn was not significant, but I beg to differ.  It was significant enough for Paul to talk to God about it three times.  Eventually, God answered Paul’s request to remove it and take the thorn away by saying:

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Finally, let’s take a look at Jesus, who was God incarnate.  One day as Jesus was heavily involved in his travelling ministry, he received a message that Lazarus, one of his good friends, who lived in Bethany, was sick and close to dying.  At that point you would imagine Jesus and his crew would have packed up and started the trip to Bethany.  Instead, Jesus took his time getting there.  Needless to say, his friend Lazarus died, and by the time he got to Bethany, Lazarus was four days in the grave.  Upon Jesus’ arrival, he was met with statements of disappointment from the grieving sisters of Lazarus (Mary and Martha) as they approached him and said, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.”  I love Jesus’ response to their folly:

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”  (John 11:25)

Then, he proceeded to call Lazarus forth from the dead.

AWESOME STUFF!

 

Fight the Right Fight

Many times the message of grace is misconstrued and misunderstood by the masses. People filter the message through perverted, itching ears, thereby disseminating wrong information.  In no way am I saying you should just lay down and succumb to your weaknesses.  When your struggle ceases to be a struggle, then it’s time for a reality check.  You’re a soldier and your battle is in the arena of your mind.  That’s where the battle is either won or lost.  The skirmish between flesh and spirit is a heated one at times, but we have been guaranteed victory through the name of Jesus.  Paul said it best:

“I keep under my body and bring it into subjection…” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

The friction that comes from this fight within us produces the spark that sets our lives on fire for Christ.   As we humble ourselves, acknowledge God, and fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), we open the gateway for God’s grace and glory to flood our lives and shine through us.  God’s grace works best in the presence of our frailty, and shines brightest in the dungeons of our deepest struggle, if we choose to acknowledge Him.  This is why Jesus came clothed in grace and truth, so that we may behold the perfection of his person.  Christ carried the burden of perfection so that we wouldn’t be required to. 

I encourage you to speak faith.  Say what God has already declared about you ,and let this be your confession:

“For when I am weak, then am I strong.”  (2Corinthians 12:10)

Now go forth, and expect to see God’s glory revealed in your life today.

 

 Acknowledgements:  I would like to thank Pastor Shomari White, Senior Pastor of Have Life Church (Charlotte, NC ) for allowing me to reference his inspirational words in this post.  Thank you for living a life that demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit.  You are truly an inspiration to me.

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 

 

The Anatomy of a Promise

When I was a child, Saturday in my household was our family-fun day.  My mother would take my sister and I to run wild and play until our hearts were content.  We would go bowling, skating, to the state fair, to the park, to visit family, and tons of other amusements.  We would get super excited when Saturday would finally arrive, because we had something fun to look forward to.  Sometimes, extenuating circumstances would arise and spoil our fun day.  My mother would try her best to expain why we had to postpone our anticipated adventures.  Even though we tried to be understanding, the disappointment of expectations turned upside down would sometimes overwhelm our intellect, causing exteme bouts of pouting.  However, much to my delight, all was not lost.  As fate would have it, one day I discovered a powerful secret; one that I would like to share with you now.

 

The Power of the Promise

I know your ears are burning to know my secret…right?  Well, here it is:

I learned that when my mother promised us a weekend adventure, she took her word very seriously.  She was literally bound by her promise to take us to have our fun-filled day.  Once I discovered this secret, I would try to coerce my mother into making us a promise early in the week in order to cash in on that Saturday’s escapade. 

As I grew older (and wiser) I learned how promises really work.  I also learned that even my mother’s promises, as golden as they were, had their limitations.  Sometimes it would rain on the day that we planned to be outside.  At other times, my mother would fall ill and would have to take a raincheck on our weekend fun. 

As humans, when we make promises, they sometimes fall prey to circumstantial occurences. 

Enter the contingency.

A contingency is something that may happen, but isn’t certain to occur.  In other words, it’s plan B…or C…or D.  A contingency allows room for things we can’t control.  Therefore, the power of our promise is limited by the unknown.  Eventually my mother developed a strategy of her own, and started presenting the contingencies of  her promises to my sister and I.  If we planned an outdoor activity and there was rain in the forecast, either a contingency was presented or the fun day was postponed to a later time.

 

Contingency vs. Condition

God’s promises are not based on contingencies, but rather on conditions.  Contingencies preserve the integrity of our promises by providing other options.  Sometimes, contingencies are abused.  We’ve all been exposed to abused contingencies.  They’re called excuses.  Do you know a person that always makes promises, but seldomly fulfills them?  These types of people frequently make excuses and present weak, watered-down contingencies after the apparent failure. 

Not so with God.

Because God cannot lie, He doesn’t need a “just in case” contingency plan.  He doesn’t have to say, “I’m going to bless you, Brian…I promise.”  When He declares a thing, it instantaneously and automatically becomes truth right then and there.  As a result, once a condition has been attached to that truth, it immediately becomes a promise.   Furthermore, when it comes to the promises of God, He has placed certain demands on us to meet explicit conditions in order to activate those promises.

A condition is defined as a premise upon which the fulfillment of an agreement depends. 

Please allow me to wax scientific for a moment.

Generally speaking, there are two types of motive energy. 

  1. Kinetic Energy– Energy associated with motion
  2. Potential Energy– Energy based on the position or arrangement of an object

Picture this:

An arrow is positioned in an archer’s bow.  It is highly unlikely that the arrow by itself would be capable of dealing a lethal wound.  It must be acted upon in some way if it is to be directed toward its target.  As the archer pulls the string back, the energy in the archer’s arm acts on the bow as the arrow is drawn back with the string.  When the string is released, the energy stored in the bow (potential energy) transfers to the arrow through the string which sends it flying with great force (kinetic energy). 

The promises of God work in similar fashion.  God has attached conditions to his promissory words, and those conditions are potential energy.  Once we act on the promise, and meet the appropriate conditions, our action sends the promise into motion causing manifestation.  That’s why the words we speak (and our actions) are like triggers. It is so important to monitor what we say and do if we expect to walk in true power and favor.  Time after time I have struggled with saying the wrong things, via complaining or “venting,” instead of just simply activating God’s word.   

In essence, the promises of God are just waiting for the right person with the right amount of faith to come along and activate them by saying and/or doing the right things.

Will that person be YOU?

Ready, Aim, Fire!

 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 

You: Under Construction

What do you do when you come into contact with “that person?”  You know which one I’m talking about.  The obnoxious, repeat-offender that can’t seem to keep their comments to themselves.  How about the person that feels like they’re always right, and never admits their own fault?  I’m pretty certain you have a name floating around in your head right now.  As much as you may hate to admit it, just like you have that someone in your head, other people may have YOU on their list of the obnoxious ones.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  I know. 

The problem is, whenever there is personal interaction, the probability of personality conflicts will always be present.  Furthermore, depending on the environment and personalities involved, that probability soars.  It’s just the risk you take by interacting with others.  Scientifically speaking, it’s called entropy, which is the natural tendency of the universe to be in chaos.  In others words, no one/nothing is perfect.  Have you ever wondered why you have to clean house so often, or say the same things over and over and over again to your kids or spouse?  It’s all epitomized in one word…entropy; and entropy equals chaos.

When it comes to relationships, very little can be done to control other people.  However, there is one thing you can control, and that is your perspective.  Either you can view difficult people and situations as major sources of pain, or you can view them as God’s scaffolding preparing your life for growth.

 

Your Life: God’s Construction Site

Now, here is where you say, “Brian, what do you mean by God’s scaffolding…” and this is where I insert a true story to explain.

Because I travel quite a bit with my job, I have tons of time to think and observe.  One day, as I was travelling along a very familiar route, I noticed a construction site in the distance.  A building was going up, and workers were scaling the edifice like ants over an ant mound.  I also noticed a familiar site surrounding the building.  It was a huge network of scaffolding.  The workers were able to work at altitudes that would not have been possible without the scaffolding in place. 

Nothing spectacular about that, right?

Well, quite some time had passed and I found myself travelling that old familiar route again.  As I came upon that same construction site, I noticed this beautifully erected building that was now standing tall and majestic.  However, something was missing that was there before.  You guessed it…the scaffolding was gone.  You see, your life is like a construction site.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a neat and tidy construction site.  In my experience, construction is always messy.  Heavy vehicles crawl the site transporting building supplies and materials.  In most cases, it becomes necessary to bring in scaffolding, because there is only so much work that can be done on ground level.  By definition, a scaffold is a temporary or movable platform or structure on which a person stands or sits while working high above the floor or ground.  While God is building you, he allows you to be surrounded with the scaffolding of difficulty, so that the hard, fallow ground in your heart can be accessed by His Spirit within you.  If it were not for the resistance of difficulty, you would never gain the strength and fortitude to expand and rise to higher heights.  I believe difficulty serves as a heart-opener.  Just like fruit is pressed to unleash the sweet juices that we all enjoy, so our lives release the sweetness of ministry when we are pressed and broken.

God is the Great Architect and Master Builder.  He knows how to use difficult people and tumultuous situations to build you up and work for your good.  One of the most beloved scriptures in the Bible states:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28 (NIV)

 God takes all of the messy things in your life (your past failures, bad decisions, and set-backs) and makes something beautiful out of it all like only He can.  In fact, these things are designed to make you taller, stronger and wiser.  You can be complacent and  remain at ground-level, but at some point, if you desire to fulfill the command of God upon your life, the scaffolding must be brought in and you MUST grow. 

Therefore, embrace the scaffolding of difficulty as part of God’s building process in your life.  See yourself rising to heights and altitudes never before experienced.  Yes…that person is unpleasant.  Yes…that experience is uncomfortable.  Keep in mind that until you learn how to endure and navigate through the pain of expansion, your growth will always be impeded. 

 

YOU: The Finished Product

Scaffolding is usually temporary.  By the time the finished product is revealed, the scaffolding has already served its purpose.  However, in many cases, the scaffolding is put in place before the growth begins.  You can always tell when you’re about to enter a growth phase by the intensity of the fight in your life.  I know it’s a challenge during these times to remain encouraged, but remember the words of the Apostle Paul as stated in 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV):

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 

God is about to reveal what He has been working on in your life all this time.  He’s about to pull back the curtains of your life to reveal the masterpiece of YOU.  You’ve been surrounded by scaffolding while God has been working, and your life has been a mess because of the imperfections of your past.  You’ve been like clay on the wheel of the Potter, and have endured the discomfort of the Refiner’s fire.  Be encouraged, even though you may not realize it, this has made you stronger, smarter, and more tenacious. 

So the next time you see “that person” approaching, don’t do a “180” and run the other way.  Instead, stick your chest out, hold your head up and say to yourself…”It’s GROW time.”

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

Indestructible Beauty

As I approached the exit of my workplace, I noticed the wind and rain was especially boisterous.  I was initially hesitant to proceed, because I didn’t have my umbrella, but then I decided to “man-up” and make a mad dash for my car.  “Here goes,” I said to myself in a futile effort to psych myself out before I tore the door open and began my sprint to my car.  The rain was cold and the parking lot was a muddy mess; as rivers coursed across the pavement.  Upon approaching my car, I saw a peculiar-looking object lying on the ground.  I slowed my pace, as my curiosity got the best of me, so that I could make sense of what I was seeing.  Much to my surprise, right there on the pavement in the mud and rain was a single, solitary red rose.  I assumed someone had dropped it as they were en route to their destination.  As I gave pause in the rain to take in the scene, the writer in me was immediately awakened.  Prose and poems permeated my mind because of the paradox I was beholding.  From this paradox I would like to lift some simple truths to share with you. 

 

Your Beauty is Indestructible

Have you ever thought about what makes a rose (or any flower for that matter) so beautiful?  Roses have the unique ability to captivate us with their visual and aromatic appeal.  No matter the setting, climate, or variety roses are simply beautiful, and their beauty is indestructible.  When I saw the rose lying on the ground in the rain, it caught my eye.  On such an ugly day (from my perspective) surrounded by such ugly conditions (rain, mud, broken pavement) this rose was still beautiful.  The harsh, external conditions didn’t diminish the innate splendor and appeal of the rose.  In fact, I would venture to say, the beauty of the rose was heightened, because the surrounding conditions were so obscure.   

You may be in an ugly situation today, with mudslides and potholes all around you, but your life is like that rose.  You’re amazing because God made you that way.  According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, God makes all things beautiful.  God is working on something in you, and even though you may not look like it right now, you are a masterpiece in the making.  Some of the most beautiful gems start off as dirty, undesirable rocks.  However, with the right amounts of pressure, heat and time precious jewels are born. 

 

The Beauty of Connection

We are in an age where almost everyone is obsessed with physical, exterior beauty.  Unfortunately, this obsession has perverted the true ideal of what beauty really is.  Furthermore, one may ask, “What determines beauty?”  I believe out connections enhance our intrinsic beauty.  You can tell a lot about a person based on their connections.  It is vital to know what connections give you life and fulfillment.  These are what I refer to as essential connections.  Three of my essential connections are as follows:

God

Family

Writing

I won’t bore you with a long list of what inspires me, but I encourage you to spend time discovering what those connections are for you, and the power and beauty they usher into your life. 

One solemn fact that later dawned on me about the rose in the rain was there was no connection.  Even though the rose possessed residual beauty, I knew what the ineluctable fate of that rose would be:  Death by disconnection.

In much the same way, when we fail to connect with our Source (God) and what gives us life, we wither.  Our beauty fades when we remain disconnected from our creator and our purpose.  Psalm chapter one illustrates what proper connection looks like.  When we remain connected to God through meditation and communion, we become productive and flourish in our seasons.  Remember, your life is a stunning bouquet designed to reflect God’s beauty.  Your external circumstances will never be able to destroy your intrinsic glory, because your beauty is and will always be indestructible.

I would love to hear from you.  What are some of your essential connections?  Who inspires you to pursue greater? 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

The Chronicles of Marriage: Mastering the Art of Aloneness

Welcome to Wisdom’s Quill.  For the month of February, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I will be focusing on love and relationships in a series of posts called: The Chronicles of Marriage.   Please enjoy this first post, and please stop by next week for part 2.

So, it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re single…How are you handling that?

Your answer to this question can determine the time you have left in your single-state.  If you view being single as a negative condition, it creates an aura around you that attracts negativity into your life.  Instead of sulking in your singleness, desperately searching for Mr. or Ms. Right to show up and magically sweep you off of your feet, why not try your hand at mastering the art of aloneness? 

Yes…singleness is an art which, as it turns out, can be very sexy.  You have the power to be magnetic in all areas of your life, from your appearance to your personality all by focusing on, and developing the one person that you can actually control…YOU. 

Interested?  Fabulous…keep reading.

 

The Purpose of Singleness

Being alone affords you a powerful opportunity to learn all about yourself without the liability of another person along for the ride.  What do you like?  What are your pet peeves?  What are your strengths?  How about your weaknesses?  If you don’t know the answers to these questions, how can someone else truly get to know you on an intimate level?  When I say intimate, I’m not talking about sexually.  Rather, it’s about going beyond the surface of who you are.  You should have layers that make up the “whole you.”  Layers make you interesting, and those layers should reveal different aspects of who you are as a whole person.  These parts should intrigue and affect people every time they discover a new layer.  Ever peel back the layers of an onion without being affected? 

 

Alone, Not Lonely

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.   Loneliness is a negative emotion experienced as a result of a perceived void.  It’s an emotional flag that something or someone is missing.  Sometimes, this is a natural response when you lose family members, employment, or anything else of great value.  In essence, it’s a phase of the grieving process. 

Loneliness is different.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “alone” actually originates from two words: “all one.”  It simply means “all in one” or “unaccompanied.”  Think about it this way, when you’ve mastered being alone, you become self-sufficient, and everyone that God brings into your life will benefit from the wholeness that you bring to the table.  You have everything that you need already within you.  Spend your singleness developing yourself.  Just because you’re alone right now doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.  Get out and get involved in new activities as an exercise in self-discovery.  Take on new responsibilities and learn new hobbies.  Responsibility increases your attractiveness immensely.  Who knows, you may even bump right into your future mate while you’re out there living life and having fun doing so.

 

Adam, The Garden of Eden, and Aloneness

Food for thought: 

God initially created Adam alone.  Adam never asked God for a wife.  It was God’s idea to bless him with Eve, a mate suitable for him (Genesis 2).  Before Eve came along, Adam was just hanging out in Eden (which, by the way, means “delight”) doing a little farming, naming the animals, and just delighting in his work, when all of a sudden…BAMThere was Eve.  Aren’t you happy that God knows what we need even before we do.  I believe when we spend our singleness discovering and delighting in those things that we are passionate about, it brings life to us and others who are around us.  That’s why I love going to concerts and experiencing the arts.  There’s nothing like observing people in their element who are passionate about their art. 

Your Garden of Eden is within you when you learn how to delight in being yourself.   

 

Love Thyself

Just to clarify, in no way am I saying that if you are single now, you should spend the rest of your life alone.  That’s totally unrealistic.  On a certain level, interaction with others is vital for you to learn certain facets about yourself.  I believe that it’s the plan of God for you to ultimately share your life with that special someone if you desire to be married.  The greatest expression of love, is to love yourself enough to allow God’s love to flow through you to others.   

Remember:

“The secret of attraction is to love yourself.  Attractive people judge neither themselves or others.  They are open to gestures of love.  They think about love, and express their love in every action.”–Deepak Chopra

Let’s talk.  In the comments section, list some interesting things that you have recently learned about yourself.  What were you doing when you discovered those new things?  How has it affected you?  Looking forward to hearing from you…and as always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

BE

How Your Perception Impacts Your Success

Picture this:

My wife and I are at Starbucks (in a long line of course) in the airport waiting for our order, and right next to us is a woman patiently waiting for her order as well.  As I take a second glance, I noticed she was smiling.  Reflexively, I smiled back at her as she spoke to both my wife and I and asked how we were.  This small interaction led to a longer conversation that brightened the rest of our day.  As we walked away we recounted how nice it was to encounter such a nice person.  As I continued to think about our interaction, a question began to form in my mind:

“When did pleasant people become an endangered species in our society?” 

Think about it.  When was the last time you randomly encountered a nice, genuine person?

Exactly…it takes a second to recall, doesn’t it?

If we’re honest, it seems normal these days for people to walk around in a dark cloud of depression, self-loathing and self-pity.  Let’s not even mention the people who are just plain mad…at everyone.  They go to sleep angry and wake up angrier.  What caused this mass deterioration and dysfunction?  I believe it can all be summed up in one word…Perception.  Yes, our perceptions are the blueprints for how we look at life, and everyone had a different blueprint.  Think of it as our point of reference.  It’s the way we process everything around us as we look through the lenses of our personal experiences and biases.  If our lenses are dark, then our outlook will be dark and vice versa.  What if I told you the reason why you are not producing the results you desire in your life could be the result of your outlook?  One of my favorite quotes from Leonardo da Vinci states, “All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.”  Whether it’s work, home, relationships, or all of the above, how you view life can determine what you produce in your life.

Perception vs. Perspective

Ladies and gentlemen, I have good news and bad news.  First, the bad news (sorry):

Perception and perspective are two different things.  I know you’re asking, how is this bad news?  Well, the main reason is because so many people confuse the two.  They think the way they see and interpret things is the way things really are.  Have you ever encountered a habitually paranoid person who believes that everyone wants to harm them in some way?  How about a person that constantly feels that they have been purposely omitted from a communication or event because no one likes them.  Although these may seem extreme, they are examples of faulty perceptions, and are more commonplace than you think.  The difference between perception and perspective is the fact that perspective is the ability to place a singular event into its proper contextual construct.  In other words, seeing things from the proper point of reference within the framework of what really matters to you.

Here’s a little exercise that reinforces proper perspective.  So you wake up in the morning to encounter Murphy’s Law at work in your life.  Everything that can go wrong does go wrong.  You overslept, the kids are fighting in the car, you’re stuck in traffic because you left home later than usual (you get the point).  You finally make it to work, late of course, so you’re not in the best mood due to your dreadful morning.  However, when you walk into your office you discover that one of your co-workers was just diagnosed with cancer, and another co-worker’s mother died the night before.  Remember that dreadful morning of yours?  Doesn’t seem so dreadful now, does it?  That’s the power of proper perspective.

Now, I promised you some good news, didn’t I?  Here it is:  Perceptions are malleable and can be altered pretty quickly.  In turn, when your perception is positively altered, it places you in a better position for increased productivity.  I like to call it fruitfulness.  I came across an interesting fact that I’d like to lift from an article entitled “Well-Being, Success, and the Gallup Student Poll” conducted in 2009.  High school students who reported consistently experiencing a joyful outlook had better academic records overall.  This proves that people with an overall positive outlook are happier, which could be a precursor to success and impactful results.

Perception and Maturity

Did you know fruit trees only produce fruit after they have reached a certain level of maturity?  Just like fruit trees, our productivity is connected to our maturity, because in most cases our perceptions are rooted in our level of maturity.  Many times our actions are influenced by our perceptions, whether good or bad.  Arising from our actions are the consequences of those actions.  If we’re honest with ourselves we will admit that when we were younger and immature, we made some pretty dumb decisions that we would later live to regret.  What makes us see those actions for what they are (dumb)?  Could it be that time and experience placed those actions in perspective?  Our actions are the seeds that carry the genetic material that produces the offspring of consequence.  That’s why I believe that maturity is the force of proper perspective.  As we mature, we tend to focus more on the consequences of our actions.  Until we mature completely, we will always struggle to maximize our productivity.

So if you are struggling with negative perceptions, here are some effective tools that always work for me when I find myself in a bit of a conundrum.

  1. Diet–   You are what you eat, and food affects mood.  Try to make healthy eating a lifestyle.  When you eat great, you feel great, and when you feel great, you produce great things.
  2. Exercise–  Research consistently shows that exercise improves and hones all of our bodily functions, including perhaps the most important of all…brain activity.  When we’re sharp mentally, we pay attention to detail, which is a guaranteed gateway to increased productivity.
  3. Quiet Time–  Whether you pray, meditate, or just take a short nap, time spent in quiet solitude can relieve stress and change negative perceptions throughout your day.  I encourage you to take advantage of breaks in your day to silently recharge.
  4. Connect–  We all thrive on social interactions with others.  You may not be an extrovert or a social butterfly, but connection with like minds and significant others can greatly reinforce priorities and ideas that really matter to us.  There is nothing like spending time with the people we love to help bring proper perspective.
  5. Travel–  A change of scenery can go a long way when trying to change negative perceptions.  Never underestimate the power of “vacating the premises.”

Be encouraged today and remember, trees produce fruit; fruit contains seeds; seeds produce trees.

What will YOU produce today?

Thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

BE