Dealing with Discouragement

Everyone deals with discouragement. Everyone deals with mishaps, failures and grief. Unfortunately it is a part of life this side of heaven. In my own life the last many years have been filled with many discouragements. I transitioned from an unhealthy failed marriage, laid down a career as a physician, battled a number of illness, financial struggles, etc. The road has been far from perfect or easy. The more I talk with others the more I hear people voice struggles with discouragement and challenges. Being a believer in Christ does not mean we do not battle discouragement.

This week I fretted over how long to renew my lease, agonized over whether the apartment would allow me to renew my lease with my given income, wondered how the bills would get paid, yet was thankful for a full afternoon of tutoring session that would significantly help with the needed income only to be in the middle of my first session for the day when a stormed rolled in and the power shut off.

I sat alone in the dark, no power, for the 3rd time in two weeks having to cancel a full days tutoring due to power outages. Plus I had been concerned by the lack of healthy, loving, life giving relationship that makes me he feeling like I am loving others with no one to love me. I had debated cutting down on such activities given it did not seem to be helping my discouragement.

Yes I had been dealing with a load of discouragement. The issues I was facing are a real reality. The knowledge that God is over all of those things made me feel unloved by God.

The Bible has much to say about dealing with discouragement. Jesus never tells us that we will not face discouragement. Rather he instructs us to take heart he has overcome the world. What discourages us in this life are almost always things of this world. Health, relationships, finances, jobs, family, children, etc. These are real challenges we face that wear us out and weigh us down. It does not help us to focus or dwell on the struggles and discouragement. So what should we do?

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

I started singing a little song to my dog Itsy. It went something along the lines of “God loves me so that I can love you.” I was repeating it over and over. It was a reminded that God did love me. I needed the reminder.

It is out of the love and blessing God gives us that we can pour out love to others. I did not feel very capable of loving, yet I was reminded that the dog food bin still had food, I had worked on cleaning Itsy’s teeth quite against her liking earlier in the day, she had her flea and heat worm prevention for the month and I was lying on my bed playing with her, laughing with her and giving her belly rubs. Telling her how much I loved her. She was taken care of and quite content.

Furthermore, although my attempts at urban gardening on a apartment patio have been less productive than I would have liked it has been a rather cheap hobby, filled with my learning experiences. I have learned many dos and don’ts. And despite the struggles I harvested my first two okra, have an abundance of garden cress micro greens and some green beans almost ready to be harvested. God did not send me a harvest as bountiful as I wanted or when I wanted it but we was indeed faithful.

We should not dwell on what is discouraging us. We offer it in prayer to Jesus. Trust he hears us in our times of need and the we dwell on the love of Christ. It may be unseen. But with faith and hope we can trust that whatever we go through Christ love for us is eternal and will not lead us astray.

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Day To Day Life

Do you have a general pattern to your day? A routine? Most people do. I have the general routine of getting up, walking the dogs outside, making my morning coffee, etc. In 1 Peter 4 we are given some instruction and wisdom about what our Christian routine should include. Much like a doctor my give you instruction on living a healthy life. 1 Peter 4 gives us instruction on how to live a spirit filled life.

When we decide to become a Christian and live in relationship with Jesus we turn away from sinful behaviors. Or as 1 Peter 4:2-3 says

“As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry”

So what is he saying exactly? Do not live a life filled with excessive indulgence, lust, getting drunk, attending wild parties, conducting violence, and idolizing/worshiping worldly things such as money, false religious, etc.

When I was like 4 or 5 years old my mother took my brother and I to Disney World along with my cousins and uncle. She says my brother in I spent the whole trip asking to buy toys and other goodies. We hardly even showed much interest in Disney World. We want to excessively buy things. She had taken us on this amazing trip and we missed the wonder of Disney World because our eyes were drawn to the wrong things.

We often do is in our Christian walks. We continue to seek after and do the wrong things. In doing so we are no different than non- believers. So what should we be doing? What is the routine we should integrate into our lives to help us live by the spirit?

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” 1 Peter 4:7-11 NIV

Let’s summarize the instructions above:

1. Be alert, sober minded, and pray. 2. Love each other above all. 3. Offer hospitality. 4. Use your gifts to serve others. 5. Speak Gods words and watch your tongue. 6. Serve with Gods strength. (Ie let God equip you to the tasks he has for you

How well are you integrating the above into your routine or is your routine including things that lead to disaster and death?

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It’s a Hard Life! Mommy Put A Hat On Me…

It’s a hard life! Mommy put a hat on me…

Coco and Itsy are my two dogs whom I love dearly. I am there owner, there master and well I call them my babies so hence I say I am their mother. Obviously I am not there real mother in a biological sense. They are dogs and I am a human. They may think they rule the world of our home but they don’t. They have to do what I say and follow the rules I set. In todays world especially in America we do not have slaves. Slaves are illegal. Yet we still have people who hold authority over us. For instance, our boss or manager. Maybe a parent or guardian. Or even the governing authority that sets the laws and rules. Or a spouse, etc. There are various people in our lives that hold certain amount of say or power. What does the Bible say about such things?

“All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare a of their slaves.” 1 Timothy 6:1-2

Again we do not have slavery in America but the wisdom of how we treat people who hold power or authority over us still holds true to our relationships today. We have checks and balances in power. We have healthy ways of effectively reporting unjust behavior. These systems should be used. But this is not the same as slandering, dishonestly representing or disrespecting someone above us out of anger, disagreement or even bitterness. Discord does not facilitate healthy change or growth. But taking your concerns to God in prayer, going through the appropriate reporting of questionable actions/behavior and making sure to be a reflection of Christ in the midst of circumstance will bring healing and positive change.

How can you reflect Christ by showing respect to someone who hold some authority over you?

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Big Blessings Can Come In Tiny Packages

I woke up, got my coffee and made my way to my chair. My little dog Itsy was already in the chair waiting for me. I sat down and stared at this tiny, delicate little creature. Then I realized what a blessing this little dog has been. Big blessings can come in tiny packages. Itsy is an unusual dog. She is not completely blind. She has some peripheral vision although limited. She is very particular about a many things. She has extra toes and well I could go on and on about her oddities. Yet she is a big blessing wrapped up in a 4 pound disabled dog. Who would have thunk it?

It has made me ponder the difference between how we portray ourselves outwardly and what is happening inwardly. How we portray ourselves outwardly is a mixture of how we behave, how we dress, our mannerisms, speaking and such. To be honest much of what is considered appropriate, acceptable, desirable and loving is cultural. Much of what we do outwardly is taught to us or we learn from observing others. Our outward appearance and actions is a way of expressing ourselves, and working with others.

The above is all outward expression. If you are an amazing actor you could act, and behave in any fashion. In many ways you are fulfilling a role. We often do this on a daily basis as we change roles from being a mother and wife at home to a professional at the work place to then a daughter of our parents, etc. We may changed quite a bit in our outward display of self within a single day.

So what does the inward self refer to? The inward self refers to our thoughts, emotions, feelings. For instance, if someone praises me for my art I can respond showing humility but if in my head I am thinking, “look at all my work, I’m the greatest artist to ever live, you should all worship me,” well that’s not very humble. I outwardly displayed humility but if inwardly I am not humble which counts? People judge us by out external appearance and actions. That is what they see with there eyes. That is what they understand. But God judges us based on what is inside.

You can live life portraying from the outside that all is perfect. You may be loved and accepted by many. But God sees the heart. You cannot trick God. Why did I say that my disabled four pound dog is a big blessing in a tiny package? From all external appearance she is the runt of the litter, with multiple congenital abnormalities, health problems and well not really normal. But it is not what is on the outside of her that makes her a blessing. It’s what is on the inside.

We cannot clean the inside of ourselves. Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit does the work. But we have to be a willing participant. We have to engage in allowing Jesus to work inside our hearts and minds to bring about change that produces holiness, purity and love.

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence!” Matthew 23:25

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The Simple Things

I have been spending much time sitting in the same chair either tutoring students or preparing materials. Coco has been rather upset at the lack of attention he gets. But then this morning as I sat in my chair with my cup of coffee, ready for some time at the computer both Itsy and Coco jumped into my lap. Settled down. There snuggles provided a reassuring touch and much love. Coco and Itsy did not do any grand gestures rather they were doing something incredibly simple. I was reminded that it is often the simple acts of love, kindness, compassion and giving that can have the greatest impact. Why do we make life so complex?

Jesus is the bread of life, he is the living water, he is the light that guides us through this life to our heavenly home. Acknowledgment of what God has already so graciously provided frees us to more easily love the lord our God and neighbor as ourselves. Well life becomes rather simple. God is often not asking us for grand gestures. He is asking for us to pay attention to the simple acts of love and kindness. Provide love in the simple ways and you may have a grand impact.

If you would like to share a prayer request you can do this online here!

If you have enjoyed my work or my blog and would to to make an offering please direct donation to International Christian Church of Houston: