What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Psalm 21: Praising for Strength

Psalm 21:1in The Message says,
Your strength, God, is the king’s strength. Helped, he’s hollering Hosannas.”
King David recognized where his strength came from. It came from God. And as a result of receiving that strength from God, King David shouted praises to God. What amazes me are all the times King David was feeling alone and rejected by God and he still shouted out praises to God.
That’s kind of where I am these days. I’m feeling alone and rejected. Basically my depression has returned full force like it hasn’t been in over two years. I don’t feel like I have much strength, but what strength I do have comes from God. I don’t feel helped, but what would things be like if God wasn’t a part of the picture? Probably a lot worse. This still feels more like a time of struggle and fighting than a time for rejoicing.
However, like King David, I need to be giving praise to God even in the down times. So consider this my hollering of Hosannas. Consider this short note my shout out that God is great and worthy of praise. He is holy and powerful and I don’t want to imagine what my life would be like without God as a central part of it. I know that when I focus on God, things seem a little better.
I trust that there will be a time in the future when I feel like God’s strength is my strength, as King David did. I will again feel that I am helped and that will fuel my praises to God. But in the meantime, I praise God anyway. Even in the midst of my depression, God is at work, and He is always deserving of my praise and gratitude.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thoughts on Thinking

I recently read a book called My Stroke of Insight about a woman neuroscientist who had a stroke at age 37. She lost most of her functioning of the aspects of her brain that stem from the left side of her brain. That meant that the stuff we usually think of as academic thought and abilities, including speaking and reading, were lost to her. The amazing thing is the book was actually written by the woman who had the stroke.
She regained much of her lost functioning through hard work and retraining her brain to make connections in different ways. The part of her story that intrigued me the most was how she learned to appreciate the functioning of her right hemisphere of her brain. She believes that the right hemisphere contains the abilities of compassion and peace. I could use a little more peacefulness in my life. And, maybe I could use more compassion, too, especially compassion for myself about myself.
The left hemisphere of our brains is responsible for judgment and calculations. I am very good at judging myself, probably too good leaving me without the compassion for myself that I could use to live a happier and less self-critical life. I think I spend much of my waking moments being judgmental and critical of others and myself. I think I’m going to try to spend more time using my right brain by getting in touch with the present moment in time . . . what am I feeling at given moments in time.
One exercise suggested in the book was to just notice sensations in my body. For instance, when a cat is sitting on me, notice the pressure and weight on my lap without judging whether it’s good or bad. It just is. I’m going to try to make conscious decisions to retrain my brain to be more compassionate toward myself. I can do this by consciously choosing to think happy thoughts and not dwell on negative thoughts.
In My Stroke of Insight it talks about certain sensations having a 90-second physiological cause. An example they gave was for anger. There’s a release of chemicals that effects the way I feel for 90-seconds. At the end of that time, I can choose to allow the circuits in my brain continue being angry or I can choose to let the anger go and feel peace and compassion. I think this will take some practice, but I’m going to try.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Psalm 20: Help's Coming

Lately I’ve been feeling a little like I’m praying but no one is listening. It seems to me like there’s no answers to my prayers. I think I’m praying according to God’s will – for the salvation of loved ones, peace, hope – but I’m not seeing any of those things happening in my life.
I’ve been told that God sometimes says, “No.” Maybe that is His answer to my prayers. I’ve been told that sometimes God says, “Wait.” Maybe that is His current answer to my prayers. I definitely don’t see the “Yes” answers others see God giving them. But regardless of what answers I see to my prayers Scripture says that He is answering.
Psalm 20:6 in The Message says,
“That clinches it – help’s coming,
            an answer’s on the way,
            everything’s going to work out.”
This tells me that an answer is on the way. So I need to trust that it is, just as David trusted God for answers to his prayers. David was praying for salvation from his enemies and from the armies that were assembled against him. I’m praying for salvation, too, although it’s not from flesh and blood armies. It’s from spiritual forces and evil forces that are out to get me.
Because God is our God, everything is going to work out. He clinches it. He works things out. I need to trust in that and be looking for the answers to prayers. They are probably there and I’m just missing them. I need to look expectantly for the answers and trust that God is at work even if I don’t see the answers right away.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cleansed From Sin: Psalm 19

How do we get cleansed from sin? It’s not of our own doing. We can ask for forgiveness and be cleansed (1 John 1:9), but we do not do the cleansing. God does. In Psalm 19 in The Message it says near the end:
“Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
            Keep me from stupid sins,
            from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
            Scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.”
God cleans the slate and scrubs clean the grime of our sin. In this passage it identifies sin as anything we do that tries to take over God’s work. Doing that gets in God’s way. We need to get out of God’s way and let Him cleanse us and give us a fresh start to each day. We are only made clean through God’s grace and actions.
Only He can keep me from “stupid sins.” In the New American Standard Bible it says, “presumptuous sins.” The definition of presumptuous is to go beyond what is right or proper or to be excessively forward. To me that says putting ourselves in the position of God or trying to do God’s work would be excessively forward and out of place. That would be going beyond what is right or proper.
So focusing on God and trying to do His will for us can keep us from presumptuous sins. And, “then I can start [each] day . . . scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.” Again the only way I see this happening in our lives is for us to be focused on God and doing things His way. It means keeping a proper perspective and not trying to do God’s work for Him. It means letting Him forgive me and cleanse me. It’s the only way to have a clean slate.