Monthly Archives: March 2010

Another Chance, A New Beginning

   The Holy Days of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are fast approaching. These days are a fulfillment of promises made in the Bible.

   Good Friday acknowledges that Jesus is our redeemer. I know as a father, if I were presented with a situation where the choice was between my son’s or my life, I would gladly offer mine. I love him that much! I know that Jesus loves me just as much. That is why He took my place on the cross and gave His life for me so that I could have access to heaven and be with Him.

   Resurrection Sunday represents Jesus’ victory over death. A demonstration that death is not just an end but marks a new beginning in a glorified state. His appearance after His death reassures us that this gift is real.

   The redemption afforded us should remind us that God is patient. God waits for us to come to Him. God is always ready to forgive, all we need to do is ask. You and I will always have another chance. Jesus lived as a man so that He could redeem us and have a first hand experience of temptation and pain. Jesus lived for me and He died for me and then conquered death for me. What an amazing gift He gave to me, one that I do not wish to squander.

   Every morning, every moment can be a new beginning. Blessings abound and if we have the positive mindset and the right heart, we can view the world and see that the blessings are apparent. Jesus’ pain and suffering is a blessing, Many of us know that it is in our own brokenness that we find God and the inner strength that God gives us and oftentimes we don’t even know that we have. When all seems lost, we find God to lean on. God just isn’t there during our trials, but God is also there in our triumphs.

   You can have another chance, a new beginning and so can I. Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday remind us each year of the love that God has for us.

   I hope you will take time to contemplate what Jesus did for us. I hope you take into account all the blessings you have received and will receive. I hope that you will find solace in the love that surrounds you.

   Take care, stay well and be safe.

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Trusting in God

   I think it is difficult for most people to trust in the will of God. I know that I must concentrate on renewing my faith when faced with trials. My workplace was just subjected to a reorganization. This caused a great deal of stress and uncertainty for all involved for a period of about a month. It was easy to get caught up in the fears and apprehensions that uncertainty can cause. It was easy to worry about a job loss in a down economy. I have to admit that I did succumb to the fear initially, but I prayed about it and decided that God would open other doors for me if this door closed.

   Prayer helped put my focus on my faith. Trust in God is a matter of faith, obedience, love, and surrender to His will. The Bible is filled with examples of men and women who balked at God’s will but then trusted Him.

   I believe the main reason we find it so difficult to trust in God during trials is that the trials don’t make sense to us or that we can’t believe that a solution is possible. We sometimes place limits on God’s power because we apply our limits and our world’s physical limits on God. Trusting starts with believing that God is capable of getting us through our trial. Trust is knowing that God will provide for us. He may not provide for us in the way we think He might or even in a way we think He should. But we need to know that God loves us. 

   Mother Theresa said “I know God wouldn’t let anything happen I couldn’t handle. I wish God didn’t trust me so much.” I know I feel this way sometimes. Like everyone else, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I then force myself to think about how big God really is. God can handle anything and because I know that, I can turn to God for help and comfort. I know that God loves me. I also realize that just because it doesn’t turn out the way I want, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love me, it just means that I do not fully understand what God wants for me.

   Another important thing about trials besides teaching us to trust in God is to teach of lessons about life. God wants to make changes IN us, not just for us or around us. Trials help us be better persons, help us learn about our world and others, help us learn more about ourselves and our relationship with God.

   The reorganization is settled. I was offered a position in the new structure. I was prepared for the worst, knowing that God would open other doors for me and at least provide me with what I needed, not necessarily what I wanted, but what I needed. I feel for those that have lost their jobs during the reorganization. I hope they will find other work soon, or even start their own businesses. I hope their trial will bring many positive things to their lives.

   It is easy to trust God during the easy times, but the true test of faith is to trust, love and rely on God during the hard times. God loves you. He has a safe place in His heart for you. May your trials open the heavens so that you may receive the wisdom and blessings that await you.

   Take care, stay well and be safe.

-Justin

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A P.L.A.C.E in My Heart

   When someone is precious to you, they have a P.L.A.C.E. in your heart; Protect them, Love them, Appreciate them, Care for them, Emotional support. This P.L.A.C.E. is much like home. Home is a place where you feel comfortable and safe. That P.L.A.C.E. is in the presence of someone special. It is easy to consider a physical place a home, but is it really? A physical place without warmth, without memories, without love is just an address, a building, a temporary structure.

   You know instinctively when you are home with someone. You feel safe and warm. You know that you can be yourself. You know that you are in a safe relationship with that person. You miss being in their presence when one of you has to be away.

   Even if you provide a P.L.A.C.E. for someone, there is no guarantee that your love and support will be returned, but that doesn’t mean that you refuse to give it. I am not suggesting that you expose yourself to an unsafe situation, but you can still let them know that you love and care about them and want what is best for them, despite their best efforts to avoid joy.

   Protect them: You cannot change a person, but you can care about them. You can guide them to a path that might be better for them. You provide counsel and direction with love and tenderness. You can ensure that they are safe. You can provide loving services like: making sure their car is in good order; provide nutritious foods; accompany them on outings where they might feel nervous; and prevent them from making mistakes with money.

   Love them: Love them unconditionally. Allow them to know that they are loved no matter what they might do, not that you will condone what they do, but that you will love, guide and support them. Don’t expect perfection but do expect them to do their best.

   Appreciate them: All of us need to feel valued and appreciated. No one likes to feel as though they are being taken for granted. There is good in everyone and we need to continually look for that good, appreciate it and reward good behavior.

   Care for them: Show interest in their well-being, physically, financially, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Commit random acts of kindness that demonstrate your love and appreciation for them. Always let them know that you care for and love them, that you will be available for them.

   Emotional Support: Unconditional love allows a person to feel safe with you. They can cry, laugh, giggle, and blush without feeling embarrassed or afraid because they know that they are loved and accepted.

   Have you provided a P.L.A.C.E. in your heart for others? Do you have a P.L.A.C.E. in someone’s heart? I hope so. I hope that when you are in that P.L.A.C.E., you feel as if you are home.  God will always have a P.L.A.C.E. in His heart for you. My wish is that you will find a home in Him.

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Half Century Reflection

   Today is my 50th birthday: Five-Oh, Forty-Nine plus One, five decades, a half century. I can hardly believe it. Where did the time go? How could it have gone by so fast? It just seems like a few short years ago, my sons were born, but they are both in their 20s.

   I worked a great deal when I was a young father. It was a good decision then because I needed to provide for my family. I now wish I had spent more time playing with my boys. I am not so sure that this is a “regret” as I felt that I needed to make money to better provide for my family. Some people beat themselves up for decisions they make like this. But, I think that if the time called for such action and the intention was pure, then there is no place for regret. I know many single moms who worked ever so hard. They feel that they were weak, but I know they showed strength beyond measure. Sometimes we have to do things that must be done. Sometimes we have to react to the situation at hand. We sometimes have to make decisions based on what we know at the time. If you need to, then forgive yourself. Look away from the past and face the future with a bright and determined attitude.

   I am so very thankful that my former wife and I were able to raise two fine young men. Her love and care is enormously missed. I know that she is expending as much effort with her young son in Sweden. I wanted her to be able to stay at home, and she did, as I feel that there is no nobler profession than to be wife and mother.

   I am one of the few lucky persons who has worked in the same industry for a very long time. I have been with my current employer for more than 25 years. I often took my boys to work with me on the weekends when I wanted to catch up. I think it was time well spent. It allowed the boys and I to spend time together and taught them a strong work ethic. Their bosses and co-workers tell me how hard they work and how much they are appreciated. I am a very proud father.

   I have been a long time student of the Bible, of spirituality, and of philosophy. I enjoy learning new things and sharing that knowledge with others. In Proverbs 9:11 it says, “Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life.” (NLT) But I have learned that there is much difference between knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Just knowing something does not mean that you can apply it well. I believe knowledge is the path to wisdom along with experience and understanding. I had a lot of knowledge but I lacked wisdom. I am hoping that I have been cultivating wisdom in my life.

    I am learning to take time to understand others. Because they have had different experiences, they react differently. What matters little to me might mean a great deal to them. It seems I want to take more time and slow things down, especially as my time runs out. As a young man, I thought time was plentiful and abundant. I suffered from that youthful belief that we are immortal and dying is something best left for the aged. I now think about how I spend my time, and who I spend it with. There are so many wonderful people and I just don’t have enough time.

   God is surrounding me with wonderful people. I know people who have beautiful and precious souls. I support them in their struggles and they lovingly support me in mine. This is what I wish for all of you who read this. I have learned much over the past two years. Actually, these are lessons that I wish I had learned while I was young. I better appreciate those around me and try to notice even small gestures.

   When I look in the mirror, I see a man who was once very foolish thinking that knowledge was wisdom. I seek wisdom and understanding now and the rewards so far have been incredible. Journey with me for the remainder of my time here. 50 years of age is relatively young now, but that time seemed to slip by. I intend to make the remaining years count as much or more than my first 50. I hope I can improve and positively change the lives of others as well as my own. 50 years went by so fast and I am afraid the next decades might slip by.

   As I look up to heaven and believe in the reward that awaits me, I also want to ease the suffering here. I want to show people what God’s love looks like. I don’t promote religion, but the simple path of love that Jesus displayed. He wanted us to know that God loves us, always has loved us and always will. I want the opportunity to provide even a shadow of that incredible love to those around me.

   When Jesus was asked “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “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. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:36–40 (NIV) Jesus said the second is like the first. We are to love one another. This is a lesson that is difficult to learn. We think that love has limits, that it is to be portioned out. Jesus simply asks us to love others the way God loves us.

   Thank you for your time in reading this. Please feel free to tell me about your reflections on your life, whether you are young or very experienced. We have all learned lessons, have lessons to learn and lessons to teach. Will you share some of yours with me? Will you walk with me on this path to seek wisdom and understanding? I hope so.

    I wish for you much love and abundance. Take care, stay well and be safe.

    Love, Justin

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