Archive for May, 2008

Asking God for Help

May 30, 2008

Do you believe that if you ask God for help, he’ll answer you? Even more do you believe he’ll actually do something to help you? If he does, will you be able to recognize it?

I suppose a good part of that depends on what you ask:

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John 5:14 – ESV

Now I’ve struggled for a long time about what to ask for. There are people like Joel Osteen who, as far as I can understand, believe you should ask God for a bigger house or more money. That doesn’t seem right to me, as I read the Bible to say that I shouldn’t really care that much about those things:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:31-33 – ESV

As C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “Do not think I’m going faster than I really am.” I’m not against being wealthy any more than I’m against being well fed or having a roof over my head. It is the pursuit of wealth or food or possessions above all else (or maybe to great extremes) that seems to me to be the problem. In any case, I suspect Jesus said all that business about the camel and the needle for a reason…

But that’s not the point of this post. The point is that I believe I can show you something that God will always grant you, though I’m not sure how it may be manifested in your case. For me, it has worked like this:

Ever since I started down the path toward becoming a Christian, I’ve been asking God for help. I’ve not been sure exactly what to say to him but in general I have just asked him to help me get closer to him, and to show me the truth. And at least for the past few years, I’ve been clear that I’m willing to subjugate my will to his. As I look back I marvel at what he has done: for the past 10 years I’ve had a succession of people always there offering to study with me. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Church of Christ people, and people who just considered themselves “spiritual”. At every single step of my journey I had multiple people there helping me, and they always seemed to be the right ones at that time. I didn’t always (and sometimes still don’t) agree with everything they were saying, and sometimes they (very properly) made me a bit uncomfortable as they pushed me to examine my sometimes mistaken or inconsistent or irrational beliefs.

I don’t know how you feel about that kind of thing, but the only conclusion I can reach is that God has been sending me these people. There have been too many of them, over too long of a time, for any other explanation.

So what does this all mean? Look back at 1 John 5:14 and pray for things that are “according to his will”.

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"Procrastination feeds on distractions." – Paul Graham

May 26, 2008

Here is an interesting article on how easy it is to be distracted. Whether you are as ADD as me or just a normal person trying to get work done, you’ll appreciate these insights.

"I’m Fantastic!"

May 16, 2008

I have a goal that I’ve worked on for quite a few years: wherever I am, I want to be the happiest, most positive person in the room. If you know me think of the last time you asked me how I was doing – chances are I said “Fantastic!” or “Great!” or “Fabulous!”.

I do that because I believe thinking it makes it so. Saying it makes it even more so. But that applies to whatever “it” is: “I’m stupid.” or “I’ll never get that right.” are just as self-fulfilling as “I feel great!”.

Henry Ford said “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right. ” and you’ve probably heard the old saw “You are what you eat!“. There is a similar and probably more important saying from Earl Nightingale called The Strangest Secret: “We become what we think about.

There are hundreds if not thousands of books on the power of positive thinking – you don’t need me to tell you about them. Just try this for the next week: Anytime anyone asks you how you feel, smile and say “Great!” Whenever you catch yourself saying or thinking anything negative about yourself, just stop.

If you do that consistently for a week, I bet you see a big improvement in how you feel!

Stress is like a cockroach

May 7, 2008

Most likely you feel stress. Some days more, some days less, some people more, some people less, but we pretty much all feel it. Here is a good definition from Hans Selye, M.D.: “a nonspecific response of the body to a demand.

Note the word “nonspecific”. Stress gets its power from being fuzzy and undefined. It lives in the shadows and doesn’t like the light. If you shine the light of your focused thoughts on it, it will try to hide and often just fade away.

Try this the next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed: just sit down and think about exactly what is bothering you.

You don’t have to pretend things aren’t bad if they really are. You don’t have to say “it will be OK” if you don’t believe it. Just think about what is likely to happen. Think about the worst possible thing that could happen. Try to figure out what is bothering you – what is causing these feelings. Don’t try to solve it, just think about it, turn it over in your mind, look at it from all sides. Feel it as intensely as you can. Embrace it. Wallow in it. Stand in front of a mirror and talk to yourself like you were explaining it to a friend – help them understand exactly why were are feeling this way.

You will often find that the emotions you feel are in excess of the actual facts – sometimes significantly so. Stress is that way. It is gets its power from being undefined, unclear, fuzzy, nonspecific. Shine your light on it and don’t let it be like that for you.

Absolute Truth?

May 2, 2008

Do you believe in absolute truth? Or do you think that different people can have different versions of the truth, and all be right (that truth is relative)?

A lot of people seem to believe that truth is relative. I have to disagree with them because if that’s true (pun intended), I don’t see how we can know anything.

A friend emailed me and put it in a way I hadn’t considered: if it is OK to believe anything (or many things), why does the Bible warn against false teaching?

Think about that – wouldn’t “false teaching” imply that some things are true/right and some things are false/wrong? That there is a standard somewhere by which all teachings will be judged to be right or wrong?

…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.– John 8:32, ESV

If “the truth” exists as Jesus said it does, does that mean that it is right and something else is wrong? What could Jesus have meant by this:

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. – Matthew 24:24, ESV

Unless there is such a thing as falsehood, and false teachings, how could I be led astray? Wouldn’t anything I believe be the truth for me? I’ve had many people assert this very thing to me, but I just can’t see how it is possible. What would a false christ/prophet say that would be wrong? Wouldn’t that just be his own truth?