Refuge

Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How Do You Handle Disappointment?


            How a person responds to disappointments and failed expectations of self and other people greatly determines his or her outlook on life.  Maybe we would rather allow our thoughts to focus on whatever brings us happiness or pleasure, but stopping to think about what creates unhappiness and displeasure may be exactly what we need for the problem to be solved.

            Think about something in the last 24 hours that didn't quite go the way you would have liked. Do you think it's possible that your reaction, largely, or at least in a small way, had much to do with your initial feelings about the matter?

            Disappointment is common to every human being alive.  Because we live in a fallen, broken, and imperfect world, hurt feelings are inevitable.  We become disappointed by peoples' mistakes, misunderstandings, mistreatments, betrayals, injustices, abuses or even crimes.  Disappointment is the entry point into a sometimes vicious cycle of complaining, blaming, justifying, and offending.  Disappointment is the bait for the trap of defeat.

            Disappointment piled on top of more disappointments can create stress, burnout, disorders, and even disease.  Accumulated disappointments can be likened to a log jam.  The logs of disappointment mount, constricting the flow of water and draining the life out of the stream. The "king pin" of a log (disappointment) jam is critical judgement.  When we wrongly judge others because of our skewed perspective, we needlessly carry bitterness and resentment in our heart.  Jesus addresses this condition as recorded in the first book of the New Testament.  "Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye" (Matthew 7:1-5; NASB).  Jesus uses the term hypocrite to describe someone who is quicker to point out the faulty actions of others than to correct his or her own attitudes and behaviors.

            Because human nature defaults toward the familiar and resists change, finding fault with another (or critically judging) is often a diversion technique to avoid making the painful adjustments necessary to improve our character or behavior.  The discomfort of restructuring our mind, will, and emotions must be overcome. Our core belief systems must be examined and destructive thinking and feeling patterns must be replaced with constructive ones.

            In an audio book  called Leadership:  From the Inside Out, Kevin Cashman writes, "Change is usually seen as something happening 'out there.'" The world changes, products  change, competition changes, technology changes, people change ....  All significant change begins with self change.   "Moving our concept of change for an outside-in paradigm to an inside-out paradigm has profound implications. When viewed from this perspective, we see change as an internal dynamic.  An internal process of learning and development.  Change is perceived as something to be mastered from within vs. something only going on 'outside.'  Ultimately, people resist, adapt, or learn from it.  In this regard, all change fundamentally takes place with the person."  If a person wishes to change the world, one must start by changing him or her "self." 

            Organizational change follows the same principle of inner preceding outer change.  Many leaders fail to make the connection between their own growth and transformation, and that of their organization.  Transformation is not an event, but an ongoing process of knowing who we are, maintaining clear vision of who we want to create, and then going for it.  Internal change precipitates marketplace change.  Businesses, churches, and institutions of all types (particularly their leadership) will save themselves much time and money by recognizing this inside-out change dynamic.

            So what are the steps one can implement to attain this kind of change?  That's a great left-brained question, but unfortunately, step-by-step methodology doesn't work very well in this case.  The three steps to unjamming the logs are as follows: 1) surrender, 2) surrender, and 3) surrender.  Surrendering to God the right to change your perspective on the people and events that created the disappointment jells the building blocks for lasting change.

            Not all change is good change.  Change for change sake is not good change. Change that takes a person further away from the ways of God is not good change.  Good change is change of mind and heart that gives substance for hope. Romans 5:1-5 says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

            The closest I can come to a 3 step process is the following.   These are the titles to chapter 4,5, and 6 of a book I authored called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart. The first, forgiveness: receiving God's gift.  The second, forgiveness: surrendering to God.  The third, forgiveness: trusting God for change.  I believe there is a way to allow the opportunity in every difficulty, to overcome the difficulty of the opportunity. Receiving the gift of God's son Jesus to forgive our sins and short comings is the beginning of a process of surrender that can lead to a trust in Almighty God to embrace change as a positive agent for victory. Even extreme disappointment and tragedy can be faced with a heart turned toward God as provider, protector, image bearer, companion, friend, comforter, caretaker, and teacher. Thus "His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). With all of our real needs met, what more could we ask for?

            Some reading this may still be disappointed in the fact that disappointment is a normal expected part of the process. After all, doesn't following Christ mean adversity goes away?  You may say, "I became a Christian to get rid of hard times."  If that is your understanding of what it means to come to Christ, surrendering that expectation to God is a very good first step entry point  in beginning the change process! 

 

            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, October 7, 2012

God's People United


            Before we get into the topic at hand, let me encourage you to take action in keeping with the current US Presidential "election season" before us.  Register to vote, and vote!  

            My September 2, 2012 blog post dealt with a biblical posture of heart for a follower of Christ to have toward government. Maybe it shouldn't surprise us to discover how many believers seem to be apathetic about elections coming up. Although our heart connection to God is much more important than our loyalty to a political platform, they are not completely independent of one another. Apathy towards our nation's heritage and future purpose on the globe, generally indicate an apathetic view towards God and His purposes for family, church, and community. 

            Apathy, or complacency,  is one of the "sins of Sodom" listed in the prophet Ezekiel's writings in the Old Testament.  The New International Version (NIV) calls it "unconeern."  Sodom's sins "'were  arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy'" (Ezekiel 16:49).  Frankly, the abundant prosperity in our nation has caused many people to become proud and lazy.  Being a disciple of Christ involves transformation of the inner person to root out apathy and complacency. This process takes intentional effort and dedication.  If your attitude is indifferent towards people less fortunate than you, beware lest the same needy condition appears in your own life. Worse yet, if your attitude is apathetic towards the sin in your own heart (and those around you) and deemed wicked (2 Chronicles 7:14) as discussed in my previous blog post, your personal life and relationships will suffer serious consequences. Complacency in the hearts of followers of Christ is one of the greatest threat to America today. Seeking God's forgiveness is the only hope.

            I wrote a book on the topic of forgiveness because it is the central theme of all Scripture and life with God.  Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart helps the reader find freedom from the anger and fear that keeps people bound in pride and apathy.

            God not only designed the process of forgiveness and reconciliation for individual and family relationships to be the best they can be, but God’s purposes are much larger.  God is building a family of His very own—a kingdom of sons and daughters.  He restores relationships to be an expression of unity for Kingdom purposes. 

            The first sin fractured unity.  It broke the unity between mankind and heaven.  It fractured the unity between man and woman.  It destroyed the unity between man and nature (Genesis3:17-18).  God wants us to share in the restoration of unity throughout creation, fulfilling His purpose throughout the heavens.  Through the Church, He wants to bring all creation into His eternal purpose (Rom.3:19-21; Eph 3:10-11; Phil 2:12).  Forgiveness is the seat of unity for the restoration of the Kingdom of God.  “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!   It is like precious oil … It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore” (Psalm133:1-3).

            The level of unity discernable among members of a church congregation is indicative of the overall health of that body of believers.   If there is disunity, there will be heaviness, rancor, and distrust.  If there is unity, there is lightness, joy, and a sense of blessing pouring over all.  Forgiveness restores unity, and only where unity exists can blessing be poured out.

            The Church is riddled with the effects of unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness distorts truth and locks people in their own subjective perceptions of reality (Romans7:21-25).  Discernment becomes warped because issues are interpreted from a childish, ungodly point of view (1 Cor 3:2-3, 13:11-12; Eph 4:2-3).  Unforgiveness causes people to fall short of the grace of God (Heb 12:15; Rom 2:1).  It causes stress from unresolved debt and cycles of sin (Matt 18:23-35).  It destroys any hope for resolving conflict by taking away the ability to lovingly confront others and to receive correction from others (Prov 20:30, 25:11; 27:5; 2 Cor 4:16-18; 1 John 4:17).  The disunity caused by unforgiveness makes the Church more vulnerable to attacks by Satan (2 Cor 2:5-11; Eph 4:26-27, 31-32).  It creates facades, superficiality, distrust, and lack of transparency, honesty and integrity (Luke 11:39-40; 1 John 4:19-20).  It creates exhaustion! (Matt 11:28).  

            The heart of Jesus is for His Bride, the Church.  The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life" (Rev 22:17).  Forgiveness is the “free gift of the water of life.”  Christ’s forgiveness is transforming the Church into a beautiful Bride. 

            Forgiveness changes hardness of heart into compassion.  People become consistently pure and transparent.  Forgiveness makes life richer, more filled with love, more expansive, more spiritually alive, more abundantly satisfying.  Although people may disagree with others, they appreciate the differences.  They begin to value diversity.  They learn to appreciate people for the way they provide balance for the whole—lifting, enriching, blessing, fulfilling, challenging and sometimes wounding as well.  Forgiving helps make people appreciate the ways differences, challenges, rebukes, and woundings drive them to perfection for Him.  People walking in forgiveness also provide the means by which God’s Kingdom is established on earth and the Father’s blessing is extended. 

            Spiritual authority is granted through forgiveness. “Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."  And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven" (John 20:21-23).  God’s authority is carried out through his people receiving and granting forgiveness. 

            Peace and rest are also granted through forgiveness.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:28-29).  Forgiveness provides a framework for authenticity in relationships.  It relieves the stress of trying to hide the inconsistencies in one’s life.  Forgiveness and reconciliation reveal a heart of trust in God’s plan for repentance and rest as the means of salvation (Isa 30:15). 

            In order to press in to a deeper place of abiding peace and joy in Christ, are you ready to throw off whatever hints of complacency are left in your heart?  Will repentance and forgiveness be understood and practiced by the Church, to the degree necessary for us to awaken from our slumber and unify.  Before we are overtaken by the consequences of apathy, I pray our hearts respond and heed the wisdom of Proverbs 1:32, "For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them" (NASB).  If you haven't yet read Eric Metaxas' biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, it is a must read to discover a practical example in modern history. It has been said, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

            Let's remember the words of the author of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, " See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.   We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first" (Heb. 3:12-14). We are forgiven, forgiving, and called to forgive until the end.
 

            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Whose People Are We?

            As we approach a Presidential election once again, the difficult issues facing our nation become intensely politicized. Two major political parties espouse two diverse, almost divergent, platforms.  For persons of Refuge (followers of Christ) deeper issues of the heart must be considered.
           
            As Christians living in a nation called the United States of America (USA), we cannot allow our identity as the Church to be confused with patriotism for the State. We live in a wonderful nation founded on godly principles, and we are called to influence our nation by actively living godly lives, but in my opinion, we are not called to be a "Christian nation." We have a much higher calling, and if you read on, I believe you will understand why I say this.  Our primary citizenship is in a non-earthly Kingdom. King Jesus is the ultimate authority over all earthly kingdoms. Therefore, our loyalty to King Jesus supercedes our loyalty to any earthly governmental structure. Scripture teaches us to honor and obey our earthly government, but not look to them to solve problems that only God can solve because of His great love, mercy, and supremacy. 

            The role of the Church in community life is to be "salt and light" (Matthew 5:13-16). Our mission is to be so radically consumed with the love of our Savior Jesus Christ, that it cannot help spilling into the lives of those around us. For  Christ's love to be reflected in this way, it requires a surrendered heart. A believer's heart must be purely devoted (2 Corinthians 11:3) to avoid the pitfalls of distraction from earthly systems and structures of functioning. I believe that instead of primarily focusing attention on how we can make changes in government  we should be radically focusing on how to make changes in our hearts so that God would be pleased to grant us worthy government.  Yes, we can be patriotic as USA citizens, but our greatest worth to the USA is to be the most radical disciples of Jesus Christ this land has ever seen! 

             The very first disciples had a similar problem. Though hand-picked by Christ, they tried to make an earthly kingdom out of the heavenly Kingdom Jesus came to set up (see Mark 10:37). When earthly officials came to execute Jesus, they all fled and their hearts were broken because their focus was on the wrong kingdom. The two kingdoms are meant to co-exist, but the heavenly Kingdom prevails.  Can we learn from the countless times in history when the same mistake has been made?


          A very familiar verse of Scripture is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  Contextually, this verse is found in the midst of ceremonies to dedicate to God the greatest temple of its time. Why, during these holy acts of worship, would God remind His chosen people of the wicked ways at the core of their hearts? God uses the term wicked to describe His most holy people on the face of the earth. What's up with that? Why would God do such a thing? It is because God desires a radical commitment to heart transformation. Genuine transformation begins with an honest assessment of mankind’s desperate need.  This is not a once and done thing, but a lifetime commitment.  At the same time that part of a person’s heart may be seeking after God and submitted to His will to some degree, other aspects of his life may be influenced by evil and still need to be surrendered to God’s will. It's part of the threefold aspects of sanctification; been changed, being changed, and change completed at the end of time.

             In the book I authored called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart,  I explain how this process works in greater detail.   I also talk extensively about honesty and humility as the first key ingredients in gaining freedom from the disappointments of life that create bitterness and resentment which sometimes  goes undetected for years. If there is bad fruit, there is a bad root. If things aren't going well, there's a reason. In many ways the Church is not doing well in America today. It's time we become serious about the biblical model for healing. It's time we get sick and tired of our familiarity with, and addiction to, sickness.  In many ways the world system has so shaped our world view we cannot even recognize how sick we are.  It's as if we accept broken marriages, broken church relationships, disputes, immorality, dishonesty, self-absorption, rage, fear, unbelief, depression, anxiety, etc. as expected behavior and "normal" living. Complaining, blaming, and justifying have become are standard ways of dealing with these problems instead of humbly praying, seeking God, and turning away (repenting) with resolve and fervency.

             The verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14 quoted above might be summed up in this way,  “If my people … humble, pray, seek, and turn, then will I hear, forgive, and heal.”  The heart conditions of humility, listening prayer, seeking God, and repenting are all necessary for God's hearing, forgiving, and healing. Healing simply doesn't happen any other way. When we show ourselves to be God's people, then He shows up and shows Himself strong on our behalf.  "The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble" (Psalm 37:39). Many of the Psalms and other Scriptures speak of God being our ONLY refuge, hope, and salvation. The Church will not have her problems solved by electing the "right" person (no pun intended) for the White House. Jesus is our King. God is our Refuge. God is our security.  "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 10:10).
 

            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 


by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Believing in the Power of Belief

      At some point in every Olympic competitor's training, the athlete's belief level becomes more important than talent itself. Competing in the event is only a byproduct of the day-in and day-out discipline of practice. Running a race, for example, requires running consistently and strategically in practice sessions to achieve fitness of mind, body, and spirit to prepare for the event.

       Some athletes like American gymnast Gabby Douglas recognize the importance of a supernatural element as well. In a Tweet this week after her gold metal victory Gabby quoted Matthew 6:33 which says, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."  In other words, if we believe in God's ways and seek to honor Him with all our heart, our needs will be supplied and we will be fit to handle anything life tosses our way.  Gabby says, "I believe in God. He is the source of my success.  He gives people talent." Not only is this a great posture to hold for winning Olympic gold, but it wins "gold" in life circumstances as well.

        Sometimes it becomes necessary to ask ourselves tough questions about our belief level. We say we believe in God and that he is the source of our talent and success, but do we really "run the race" (of life) with the confidence of His supernatural ability leading the way?

       Our mind is a powerful tool. There are two functional parts of the mind--conscious and subconscious. In a book called The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, Dr. Joseph Murphy explains how the subconscious mind influences everything people do. Bringing the subconscious mind under control, and changing one's life to go in a positive direction, is simply a matter of changing one's beliefs.  Murphy writes, 

      "A wonderful way to begin getting to know the two functions of your mind is to think of it as a garden. You are the gardener. You are planting seeds of thought in your subconscious mind all day long. Much of the time you are not even aware of doing so, because the seeds are based on your habitual thinking. As you sow in your subconscious mind, so shall you reap in your body and environment.

Imagine your subconscious mind as a bed of rich soil that will help all kinds of seeds to sprout and flourish, whether good or bad. If you sow thorns, will you gather grapes? If you sow thistles, will you harvest figs? Every thought is a cause, and every condition is an effect. This is the reason it is so essential that you take charge of your thoughts. In that way, you can bring forth only desirable conditions.

Begin now to sow thoughts of peace, happiness, right action, goodwill, and prosperity. Think quietly and with conviction on these qualities. Accept them fully in your conscious reasoning mind. Continue to plant these wonderful seeds of thought in the garden of your mind and you will reap a glorious harvest.

When your mind thinks correctly, when you understand the truth, when the thoughts deposited in your subconscious mind are constructive, harmonious, and peaceful, the magic working power of your subconscious will respond. It will bring about harmonious conditions, agreeable surroundings, and the best of everything.  Once you begin to control your thought processes, you can apply the powers of your subconscious to any problem or difficulty. You will actually be consciously cooperating with the infinite power and omnipotent law that governs all things,

     Look around you. Wherever you live, whatever circle of society you are part of, you will notice that the vast majority of people lives in the world without. Those who are more enlightened, however, are intensely involved with the world within. They realize—as you will, too—that the world within creates the world without. Your thoughts, feelings, and visualized imagery are the organizing principles of your experience. The world within is the only creative power. Everything you find in your world of expression has been created by you in the inner world of your mind, whether consciously or unconsciously.

       Once you learn the truth about the interaction of your conscious and subconscious minds, you will be able to transform your whole life. If you want to change external conditions, you must change the cause. Most people try to change conditions and circumstances by working on those conditions and circumstances. This is a terrible waste of time and effort. They fail to see that their conditions flow from a cause.; To remove discord, confusion, lack, and limitation from your life, you must remove the cause. That cause is the way you use your conscious mind, the thoughts and images you encourage in it. Change the cause, and you change the effect. It is just that simple."

       The subconscious mind is part of what can be called your inner person or "heart."  In addition to Murphy's comments, I would add a few verses from the Proverbs in the Bible. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 3:5&6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  If you intentionally allow the supernatural presence of God to work in your life, your "garden" (heart) will be producing more than the natural fruit of a positive mindset.  It will also produce fruit of the Holy Spirit which exceeds your natural ability to produce.  Yielding to God's power and surrendering to His ability to help us formulate the correct beliefs is the way we will see the quickest and most lasting results. We need God's help to believe the truth, consistently, day-in and day-out, to accomplish his purpose for our life.

        Some reading this may react to Murphy's comments above as being too "humanistic."  I believe there are two extremes that a Christ-follower needs to be careful to avoid. One is to "over-spiritualize" events to the extent of denying the natural laws of the world we live in, and the other extreme is to "over-naturalize" by relying on self-effort to the extent of minimizing the power of God in one's life. Both extremes cause the same error. They miss the purpose of the divine and human working together. The very nature of God demonstrates the importance of the two working together.  God, through Jesus Christ, is both divine and human. The quality of our relationship with God depends on our ability to "trust in the Lord with all your heart" (see above). That is, to look to Him for the balance of the spiritual and the natural. While on earth, there's no escaping our humanity. Because we're created by an eternal being, there's no escaping our spirituality. We must engage both to have fullness in our  relationship with God.

       What is the major obstacle to trusting God?  I believe it is fear causing unbelief.  Hebrews 3:10 says, " See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God."  The context of this verse is about the people of God in ancient times oscillating between belief and unbelief.  Their pattern was to turn to God and then somehow turn back to unbelief. Even since Christ the Savior came to earth, human beings have the same tendencies, fears, and unbelief. Again, without God's intervention, we gravitate to the extremes.  The same fears that cause a person to over-emphasize (cling to) their humanity to deny God's power (supremacy over human achievement), are the same fears that cause a person to under-recognize their humanity to deny God's personhood.  His personhood is uniquely expressed in every human he created.  His personhood desires an intimate companionship with each person he created as he or she walks through life's journey.  He is a relational God. Most of us aren't as welcoming of him being "in our space" as we may like to think.

        If you are reading this and find it hard to believe God cares for you as a person, don't allow your subconscious mind to talk you out of God's love. The Bible says God's character is the very definition of love.  I think that qualifies him to know how to love you best.  Don't allow the enemy of your soul to tell you "you are trash," "you'll never amount to anything," "you're damaged beyond repair," "you have no talent," "you will always feel lonely,"  "you will always fail," "you will never succeed,"  "you can't ...," "you won't ....," and "you should've ...,"  Not so!!!  There is hope!  There is Refuge!  God's ability (grace) is available to believe you should, you can, and you will grow into the person He made you to be. By believing (in His power first), all things necessary for abundant life are present (Matthew 6:33).

        Stop trying to get good enough. Come to God and let him make you good enough.  Just believe. Start by believing in belief.  As Bob Dylan sang in When You Gonna Wake Up, "There's a man on a cross, and he be crucified for you.  Just believe in his power, that's about all you gotta do."


            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: See more on book . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Truth, or Consequences


            In the previous blog post, I discussed the inner conflict of embracing change for the purpose of personal development and spiritual growth.  Without a true desire for inner change at the heart level, all the knowledge in the world is of no value and has very limited capacity to make a substantial difference in a person's behavior.

            Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). The "if" condition sets up the remainder of what is meant here. He is saying that if a person is willing to re-align his or her core belief system to Christ's teaching, he or she can truly be called a follower of Christ. A path to true freedom is conditional upon a transformed heart to receive truth not just for the purpose of knowing, but for the purpose of applying. Christian discipleship is more than a mental exercise, religious practice, or change in behavior. It is a change of heart.

            A commonly accepted principle "a man reaps what he sows," and one that is mentioned in the Bible in Galations 6:7, confirms that our actions are determined by patterns of thinking and feeling. If a person allows himself to focus on (sow) false beliefs, he will become (reap) the results of false beliefs. If a person thinks of herself as a "failure," "good for nothing," "worthless," "incompetent," "shameful," ...  person, then she will fulfill her expectation of herself by repeatedly failing etc..  On the other hand, if a person chooses positive thoughts about him/ herself, "good fruit" will be harvested.  

            Sometimes the bad  patterns develop into things called sins of choice, empty wells, false refuges, counterfeit comforts, or idols of the heart, people may develop addictive tendencies that can range from strong cravings to controlling behaviors. Addictions occur when we take common life experiences to the extreme. These include food (eating disorders), job (work-o-holism), drugs and alcohol (excessive use), sex, money, appearance, relationships (codependency), and even ministry (service to others). Whenever we are seeking comfort or fulfillment in a relationship or activity outside the boundaries set by our loving Creator, we are demonstrating our lack of trust in God to provide value and purpose in our lives. Not only is it necessary to deal with the immediate surface issues of addiction, but we must also identify and abandon false refuges in the heart where soulish attachment is sought in an ungodly manner. If a person is honestly willing to recognize this condition with his mind, then the work of changing the heart can begin.

In summary, most people follow one of two remedies to deal with disappointment, discouragement, or hurt from life circumstances or relationships. People try their best to pretend things are better than they really are (denial), or they live to relieve it at all cost (addictive behaviors). Whether people deny or over-gratify, at some point, they become more painfully aware of their desperate state of human weakness and inability to effect lasting change without the supernatural presence of God working in their hearts.

            For people to let go of denial or false refuge to face the truth about themselves is sometimes a fearful step. The tension between the Holy Spirit pushing truth up and a fearful mind pushing the truth down is known as anxiety. It is the fear of the unknown. Part of a person is wise and wants to know the truth. Part of the person is foolish and fears the truth. The Holy Spirit reveals the difference, and will only bring healing to those who humble themselves and are willing to cooperate with the condition of discipleship mentioned above. As people give up their fear of the truth and trust God to forgive them just as they are, then they can begin to surrender themselves and learn to rest in the salvation of God’s grace.

            Are you trusting in knowledge or truth? Are  you believing too many non-truths (trapped in lie-based thinking), or allowing God to transform your mind and heart to receive the lasting truth to change bad consequences into peace and rest in the Refuge of Christ? Whereever you are in the journey, I pray you can find deeper heart-level freedom in this Refuge.

            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: More About the Book . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Successful Change

Positive change requires open-mindedness. Many people are not as open-minded as they think they are. Why?  Because open-mindedness requires change, and change is often uncomfortable and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes change involves extreme effort and pain.  Nature reveals many illustrations of morphing from one state of being to another. Look at the butterfly. It came from a caterpillar. A symbol of beauty came from a pest. Attractiveness came from unattractiveness. A successful, desired result came from a seemingly unsuccessful, undesired circumstance. But what happened to bring about this result?


It's called death--death of what we know, to live for what we do not know. It can also be described as closing out one way of thinking and being, to prepare for a new way. The caterpillar must live for the purpose of dying in order to fulfill the destiny of becoming a butterfly. That's where the effort comes in. It exists for the purpose of one day spinning a cocoon which becomes the vehicle for transformation.  Emerging from the cocoon is where the pain comes in. The butterfly enters the world with great and necessary travail. No short cuts can be taken anywhere in the process. There are no wings to fly without strength built up by forcefully shedding the cocoon. There is no butterfly without a cocoon. There is no cocoon without a caterpillar. There is no caterpillar without the butterfly's egg. 


What is different about human nature? Humans possess choice. That's where open-mindedness comes in. We have a choice to "die to self" and surrender to the cocooning process to be morphed into a new nature. Change is inevitable, but we have a choice as to whether change will move us in a positive or negative direction. Much of what happens in our world is out of our control, but it's amazing how different our world can be when we recognize, engage, and empower the  motivation to change the things within our control. Most people fail to change their undesirable circumstances, not because of inability to perform, but because of their inability to submit their performance to a process of change which points them in a positive direction. As a believer in God as the sovereign Creator, He is the One who has the power to effect ultimate change, and breathe life into the existence of mankind.   


Many people confuse wishes with desires. It's one thing to wish for improvement of circumstances, but it's another thing to desire the necessary change in yourself for improvement to happen. It was Gandhi who said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." The world is not made a better place by the caterpillar wishing to be a butterfly. The world welcomes the presence of a butterfly because a caterpillar submitted its desire to the process of weaving a cocoon. As we desire to become the caterpillars we were meant to be in the world, we will become the butterflies we were meant to be. 


Comparatively, simply wishing for an emotionally pain-free existence will not overcome the disappointment, worry, or confusion in life.  It may make you feel better temporarily to complain about things, blame people, or justify yourself when something bad happens, but complaining, blaming, or justifying will not produce successful change. Lasting positive change will only occur when you take responsibility for things within your power to change, and surrender responsibility for those things not meant for you to change.  


In my book I relate this theme specifically to the topic of forgiveness and reconciliation. Many people think they have forgiven when in reality all they've done is wish for their situation to improve. Based on my research and experience observing actual practices,     in most cases, a deeper desire for inner change is still necessary for genuine freedom through forgiveness. If you are open to changing your thinking about the topic, I invite you to read and study the book. I do not claim to have the final word on the topic, but I promise you will gain at least a few nuggets that will help you succeed with positive change in your life.


       Note:  The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near PA for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 


by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How Great Performance Can Mislead


            In the previous blog post, I discussed the link between fruits (results of our actions) and the roots (thinking and core belief systems).  Building on the idea that thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions, and actions lead to results (T>F>A=R), let's look at an example of how the cycle of offense (discussed in chapter one of my book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart) enslaves a person to their own lie-based thinking.

             One form of entrapment in a cycle of unforgiveness may be expressed by people trying to perform their way out of severe disappointment, bitterness, or resentment through self-righteousness. Although good works might make a good impression on fellow man, they are useless (for salvation) in the sight of God. From God’s perspective, a person’s good deeds are like a “filthy garment” (Isa. 64:6). Christians may sometimes fall into a cycle known as “performance orientation” (as named by the Sandfords who founded the Elijah House). It is characterized by seeking acceptance or identity based on activity level.

            The cycle develops like this: A person keeps overly busy serving in the church and receives much affirmation and acceptance for his or her work. He begins to tire, or becomes disappointed by someone's critical opinion of his performance. The person’s spirit begins to ask, “Is this really working?” The person becomes disillusioned and his performance begins to wane. His work fails to earn the love he craves and once knew. He spirals into a black hole of depression, self-doubt, self-condemnation, and self-rejection. He thinks if he engages and does more activity, his painful symptoms will go away. As his performance improves and the praise from others puts him at the top of the world, he once again burns out and repeats the cycle all over again.

To some degree each person reading this must admit that he is vulnerable to believing the lie that he must earn the right to be loved, which causes him to work harder and harder to perform. This performance can be rewarded in countless ways: the job promotion, the higher pay, the status, the compliments, the sense of well-being that comes with approval and acceptance. It may all seem so right, but if God’s glory is not being manifested in the activity, His presence is not breathing life into it. It becomes a dead work (1 Cor. 3:11-13), fueled only by self-willed passions and desires.

Receiving God’s forgiveness requires a realization of the truth of our need and inadequacy. But it must always be remembered that God required nothing of Adam and Eve before He initiated the reconciliation process. He came looking for them and questioned them about their fig-leaf covering before they ever acknowledged their sin and shame (Gen. 3:6-11). God does the same for each person. Accepting the Gift of Jesus to cleanse from sins requires not only honesty of an unclean condition, but the humility to receive the help to become clean.

The work of forgiving another person requires not merely mentally assenting to a need for change, but also motivationally responding with a will to pursue the change. A heart of brokenness is the fertile soil for the seeds of forgiveness. This theme is reiterated several times in the book of Isaiah which says: “‘Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?’ declares the LORD. ‘This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word’” (Isa. 66:2). God’s Word is the ultimate authority in the Christian’s life. A heart of forgiveness is produced by a heart accepting its need for the Word of its Creator (John 14:23).

            Forgiveness is not about what you do, but it is about what God has done. Forgiveness is surrendering to God the sole right to judge a person's performance (including your own).  Surrendering to God is the true path to freedom.



            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://imprbooks.com/shop/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=0&idproduct=2074 . If you get anywhere near PA for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Invisible Becomes Visible

            Last time we examined the importance of "self-talk" and each person taking ownership of the responsibility to discover and utilize his\her God-given identity and purpose while living on this planet earth. Motivating the self to change in a positive direction is somewhat like an ant trying to navigate an elephant to an oasis in the jungle. Many theology and psychology experts agree that the subconscious mind has a bent towards negative programming.  The natural mind must be intentionally and consistently submitted to the reprogramming of God Almighty, in order for the Author of Creation to unfold the perfect blueprint for all things right and just (Psalm 89:14).
            Quite honestly, most people are content to muddle through life finding only bits and pieces of their "personal blueprint" for success (oasis).  Most lack strategy to re-program the negative programming. Most treat life much too superficially, not looking deep enough below the surface to make lasting change in their mental, emotional, and spiritual condition.
            One arena in life where this becomes very practical is in our attitudes toward money and wealth building. In a book called, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth, author T. Harv Eker points out that a person's income and ability to manage money is directly related to their internal capacity to grow in character, thinking processes, and belief systems. Research shows that 80 percent of individuals will never be financially free in the way they would like to be, and 80 percent will never claim to be truly happy.  Eker explains why, "The reason is simple. Most people are unconscious. They are a little asleep at the wheel. They work and think on a superficial level of life—based only on what they can see. They live strictly in the visible world."              Eker goes on to explain how the roots create the fruits,  "Imagine a tree. Let's suppose this tree represents the tree of life. On this tree there are fruits. In life, our fruits are called our results. So we look at the fruits (our results) and we don't like them; there aren't enough of them, they're too small, or they don't taste good.
            So what do we tend to do? Most of us put even more attention and focus on the fruits, our results. But what is it that actually creates those particular fruits? It's the seeds and the roots that create those fruits.
            It's what's under the ground that creates what's above the ground. It's what's invisible that creates what's visible. So what does that mean? It means that if you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots. If you want to change the visible, you must first change the invisible" (p12).
            He goes on to say, "In my experience, what you cannot see in this world is far more powerful than anything you can see. You may or may not agree with this statement, but to the extent that you do not apply this principle in your life, you must be suffering. Why? Because you are going against the laws of nature, whereby what is under the ground creates what is above the ground, where what is invisible creates what is visible.
As humans, we are a part of nature, not above it. Consequently, when we align with the laws of nature and work on our roots—our "inner" world—our life flows smoothly. When we don't, life gets rough.
            In every forest, on every farm, in every orchard on earth, it's what's under the ground that creates what's above the ground. That's why placing your attention on the fruits that you have already grown is futile. You cannot change the fruits that are already hanging on the tree. You can, however, change tomorrow's fruits."
            Our physical plane of existence is directly tied to three other realms: mental, emotional, and spiritual  These four spheres together feed a primary law which governs life: the principle of cause and effect. Money, wealth, health, illness, body weight, habits, addictions, etc. are all results. A lack of money, for example, is never a problem. Sometimes it is tempting to assert that a lack of money is a problem. A lack of money is merely a symptom of what is going on underneath. Whatever results one is dealing with, whether rich or poor, good or bad, positive or negative, always point to the outer world as simply a reflection of an inner world reality.  If things aren't going well in the outer world, it's because things aren't going well in the inner life. The only way to change results (outer world), is to first change the roots (inner world).
            Eker also expounds something called the Process of Manifestation. That is: thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions, and actions lead to results (T>F>A=R).  The engine to this process is our preset programming (or conditioning) from parents, siblings, authority figures, teachers, religious leaders, media, and other things like culture. Individuals are taught what to think and how to act, about money, for example. Eker describes three forms of conditioning: verbal programming, modeling, and specific incidents.  These influences create a storage and retrieval system in the human brain like file cabinets which hold data and help make critical decisions for responses.
            Eker's insights align with teachings from the Bible including Proverbs and parables from Jesus Himself. "As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man" (Prov. 27:19). "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart" (Prov. 17:3).  "A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord" (Prov. 19:3). "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out" (Prov. 20:5). Jesus says, "But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean'" (Matt 15:18).  He says, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:43-44).
            Jesus tells a story about a farmer sowing seed which falls on four different types of soil. Three types were bad and only one was good soil producing a crop (Mark 4). The "tree of life" mentioned above will only produce good fruit if it is plugged into good soil. I emphasize this point in a book I authored a few months ago called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart. I show how disappointments and offenses can contaminate the soil and cause bad fruit even sometimes without us being aware of what is going on. In my opinion, one of the greatest needs in the life of most people is a reprogramming of their understanding and practice of forgiveness. Common effects (bad fruits) of unforgiveness include stress and anxiety, self-inflicted condemnation, lack of trust and love, anger and bitterness, perpetual conflict, building of emotional walls, depression and hopelessness, chronic illness, and sleeplessness or appetite loss (p121). If any of these are consistently bad fruits in your life, may I encourage you to allow yourself to take a deeper look at the invisible roots. At the very least, soil cleansing (rooting out disappointments and offenses) in these areas will increase the quality of fruit produced in your life.
            Why do 80% of us only address the symptoms and not the cause? Besides human nature's propensity to take the path of least resistance (or being "unconscious" as Eker puts it), it is because 80% of the time we look in the wrong folder of our file cabinet for the solution. The three most common unhealthy folders we draw from are complaints, blame, and justification. First, we over inspect the bad fruit, becoming stuck focusing on negative smells, sights, and sounds that rob our imagination of creative resolution and gratefulness. Or, we play the blame game and point to everyone else's failed responsibilities that created our mess.  Or, when we run out of others to blame, we use our favorite excuses to justify our own errant actions. For those of us who want to be planted in the good soil of the Kingdom of God, the first step is surrendering to the kingship of Christ who promises to light our path to the correct folder (Psalm 119:105).
            Fortunately, although we are bound to the natural laws which govern life, we also have access to a supernatural realm with God providing an oasis of love and faithfulness unmatched in the universe. In this Easter season we are reminded of some verses in the book of Romans that give us great hope, "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you" (Rom. 8:9-11).
            The spirit part of our being can also influence the results of what we experience in the other three planes of our existence. When we allow God to take His rightful place as creator and ruler of our heart, the conditions are in place to get planted in the right kind of soil to grow into a healthy tree for bearing good fruit.
  
            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://imprbooks.com/shop/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=0&idproduct=2074 . If you get anywhere near PA for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 
           

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Self-Talking to Success

            Many joke about talking to ourselves. Some say it's okay to talk to yourself as long as you don't get caught talking back. May I suggest that you may need to have a conversation with yourself in order to get to the truth of a matter.  You will understand what I mean as you engage this blog post conversation.
            Thoughts produce actions, actions produce habits, and habits produce lifestyle.  Your life is guided by your core-belief system. Your beliefs determine your behavior. In any one moment of time, your mind can only contain one thought. Your brain cannot produce positive and negative thoughts simultaneously.  Either positive or  negative results are produced. Positive thoughts produce more positive thoughts and positive actions. Negative thoughts produce more negative thoughts and negative actions. Only YOU can allow or disallow the pattern to flow in a virtuous and uplifting direction.
            What you believe about yourself is the most important factor of all in determining your responses to life. What you believe about yourself will create either constructive or destructive results. What you really believe about yourself may surprise you.  According to the author mentioned below, about ninety-nine percent of what you believe about yourself is hidden to yourself. You have to be willing to talk to yourself to find out what you believe about yourself.
            I recently discovered an allegory portraying the battle every human being must engage to overcome inevitable obstacles to reach an oasis of success. 
The jacket of the book,  The Ant and the Elephant: Leadership for the Self  by Vince Poscente reads as follows:
            "In the Ant and the Elephant, renown business strategist and Olympian, Vince Poscente, weaves a clever parable around profound concepts that can have an immediate impact on your life and the life of your organization.
            With his trademark wit and wisdom, Poscente shows us how to focus on and redirect the subconscious mind in order to accomplish the goals we consciously strive to achieve. This empowering story illustrates that understanding the dynamic relationship between conscious and subconscious thought is the first step towards becoming a leader who can transform individual performance. But harnessing the power of the subconscious is an experience commonly fraught with frustration. Even the most competent among us battles the subconscious fears, habits, and attitudes that obstruct authentic leadership. In fact, adjusting our own patterns of behavior as a means to motivate others is not unlike an ant trying to convince an elephant to change its ways. ....
            This simple story is a powerful metaphor designed to bring out your best performance as a leader, so that you can do the same for those around you."
            Because human nature resists change (even good change), our psyche becomes a battleground of familiar vs. unfamiliar, comfortable vs. uncomfortable, old vs. new, even sometimes evil vs. good. Poscente also writes, "without conflict there is not growth, and the most challenging conflict is within ourselves" (p53). It becomes important to talk to ourselves and not merely listen to ourselves. Telling ourselves the truth, creates the atmosphere to defeat the temptation to believe lies about ourselves.  
            Leading sales strategist Blair Singer writes in an article called It's All in Your Head  in the February 2011 issue of Success magazine, "What many people don't understand is that the toughest sell of all is selling yourself to yourself. It's overcoming that "little voice" in your head that says, I'm not that kind of person. What if they don't like me? What if I look stupid? I'm too old, too young or too dumb. That little voice is Public Enemy No. 1 to your income and personal growth." 
            Singer continues, "Another sneaky trick your little voice plays on you has to do with your self-concept. No matter how responsible, diligent or hard working you are, if your self-concept is low, your results will never exceed it. If your little voice beats the daylights out of you and tells you that you are stupid, incapable or a poor salesperson, your self-concept will be low, and your results will follow suit.
            So how do you manage that little voice? Here are a couple strategies: 
            Start with affirmations like, "I'm an awesome salesperson, and I know I can do this." Repeat this every time doubt seeps in. Your little voice is simply a result of your prior programming, and you can re-program it quickly. ...
               Another great way to overcome the little voice in the face of fear is to recall a time in your life when you had a big win. I learned this technique from Tony Robbins, and I use it constantly. Recall where you were, what you saw, how it felt and what you were saying to yourself at the time. When you can recall it, make a fist and shout, "Yes!" Your energy will come up, and you will walk into your call with the memory and feeling of success instead of fear.
            The bottom line is there is a much bigger person inside of you than you give yourself credit for. When you learn to master your little voice, the big, bold, powerful, rich you will emerge. It is your destiny. Now, be awesome!"
            Those of you who have a strong faith in God may be asking, "Where does God fit in all this?" "Aren't you giving too much credit to human willpower and self-achievement?" I believe self-talk is important, even if it means bringing God into the conversation. Even if you have invited God to demonstrate his power in your life, you have to continue to choose to yield to that power. A decision to follow your desire for self-improvement and inspiration does not presuppose an act of self-aggrandizement. In fact Jesus himself summed up God's commandments this way, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:37-39). In order to genuinely love your neighbor, you have to truly love yourself. That means being comfortable with the unique traits, abilities, and dis-abilities you were meant to personify. Your identity and purpose in life hinges on what you value and perceive as meaningful. Loving others is a choice, impossible to make if you haven't first chosen to love yourself as God made you and loves you.
            I would like to draw on the wisdom of one of my all time favorite thinkers named Viktor Frankl, MD.  In his best selling book Man's Search for Meaning he writes,
"Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.."  The Austrian psychiatrist Frankl won the battle in his mind to find life's meaning. Frankl did not  allow his imprisonment in four Nazi concentration labor camps to demean his existence. He survived  because of his desire for meaning. His logotherapy teaches us to inquire of life for meaning rather than to inquire of meaning for life.
            Frankl also says, "Don't aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it." Frankl is trying to help us see that life is so much more than fortunes, fame, pleasure, and power. It is about giving your existence away to people and causes bigger than any one life (ie. you) can ever be. Meaning is an attitude. Finding meaning is believing in yourself enough to know you're here for a purpose, and you are committed to your responsibility to find the fullness of that purpose.
            A book that expounds Frankl's themes for the workplace is called Prisoners of Our Thoughts by Alex Pattakos, PhD.  Employee enrichment consultant Pattakos applies these principles to finding meaning in one's work and occupation. Our mindset, and specifically what we believe about ourselves, determines our performance and level of fulfillment.
            Self-concept is at the root of many mental and emotional health problems. Stress, anxiety, discouragement, depression, addictions, etc. are often unwittingly attached to lack of self-worth and self-rejection of some type. Chapter One of my book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses how the inner person becomes imprisoned by perception and interpretation of life's offenses.
            Call it a prison, little inner voice, an elephant,, or call it whatever you wish.  Personal growth experts all agree that believing in yourself is the single most important factor in changing a negative direction into a positive one. Your self-concept is in charge of your life, and only you can be in charge of your self-concept.
            I said earlier that you have to be willing to talk to yourself to find out what you believe about yourself. May I also suggest that you have to be willing to take action in a different direction when your conversation reveals misbeliefs about yourself that are at the root of limiting, destructive patterns of behavior. Waiting for other people or circumstances to change before making your decision to turn directions will halt your personal growth. Mahatma Gandhi exhorted, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

            Does your self-talk produce belief (faith), or create unbelief (doubt and fear)? What can you do to increase your faith, and reduce your fear? What step are you willing to take right now? Go for it!

 
            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://imprbooks.com/shop/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=0&idproduct=2074

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry