How Do You Plan to Finish?

by Cindy Palin
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We’ve all heard so many memes about not living in our past, but instead looking towards the future. I like to look back and remember just enough to see how far God has brought me. When self doubt starts to crowd in my thoughts I am careful not to waste any energy thinking about how I started in my faith journey, but instead I focus every thought on how I plan to finish – faithful.

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13 NIV).

“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24 NIV).

PRESS ON!

When you spend most of your time listening to those who are in major inner turmoil, that turmoil can manifest in your own mind. For those who believe in God’s Word, we understand we can sin in our thoughts (Mark 7:20-23).

It is important not to be afraid or despair. If we confess our sin he will forgive and heal, and transform us (1 John 1:9). Part of this transformation is choosing to think on Him instead, and meditate on His Word (Psalm 19:14, Eph. 4:17-24).

Sometimes we believe that our confessing needs to be accompanied with some other sort of action. I have often struggled with asking for forgiveness for the same thing over and over, and wondered “what else should I do?” I have questioned my sincerity. Do I have a penitent heart (Psalm 51:17)?

This morning I confessed to God out loud for my sinful thinking. For a moment I considered my confession to be insincere, because it was not accompanied with tears. However, I realized my lack of tears was not a sign of insincerity, but faith, and maturity. I had sinned in my thoughts. I obeyed God by confessing and I believe in His forgiveness. Confessional faith is a choice to move on in praise and service to my King as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).

If there is to be an action that is to accompany confession, it needs to be the humble act of asking another believer for prayer.

In conclusion:

It is very important to recognize we are in a battle (Eph. 6:12).

We are going to sin (Romans 7:21 and 22).

We need to confess out loud to God and establish an accountability system (James 5:16a).

We need to ask for prayer  (James 5:16b).

No show of grovelling or whining or anything else of our own strength is necessary (Eph. 2:8). What Christ accomplished on the cross for us is complete (Heb. 10:10-12).

We must press on (Phil. 3:13 – 14) – WITH JOY!

And remember if we are not able to see ourselves for who we really are, how can we help others?

 

White Noise Here We Come

Driving home from the U of C last Friday afternoon I caught a broadcast on the increasing mental health dilemma in our youth.

For sometime I have been quietly listening and observing our current daily practices in our culture. I believe our ability or inability to balance our lives is directly connected to our mental health. Recognizing or not recognizing the need for downtime should not be hinged on our age and generational background only, our personality traits must also be considered, as well as our spiritual beliefs and traditions.

For example for someone born at the very end of the Baby Boomer generation, one might conclude I don’t embrace technology therefore I am not plugged in 24/7, not cool, not hip, and live in slow motion. However I embrace technology and my addictive personality finds me fighting for mental balance among the fray – all of the time.

I attribute my mental health to cultivating my spiritual health. My ability to recognize when I am over stimulated or driven, or anxious comes from actively meditating on my relationship with Christ, and His Word. Might I suggest reading the Psalms, both the laments and the praises? It is a great way to contemplate injustice, sorrow, poverty, creation, beauty and nature, and realize humankind has faced similar problems and celebrations since the dawn of time. This truth reveals we are not alone, God can hear us, and He wants to comfort us and restore our minds.

If we are to navigate the overwhelming waters of our culture’s technology frenzy, we must make sure to schedule downtime for reflection and meditation, and genuine relationship.

The inability to go for a walk without a phone is a red flag. The inability to sit by the fire on a cold winter’s night without your computer is troublesome. Have you been watching a movie with your phone or i-pad in hand and feeling rather accomplished at your capacity for multitasking? Have you studied the advertising practices on television and recognized the same patterns? It isn’t enough to watch a movie anymore, you must have advertisements, and pop ups with even more information.

How often do you allow your conversation over coffee to be interrupted by your cell’s ringtone? Do you take all of your devices with you on a holiday? Are you one of those travelers who has to watch multiple movies? Do you take work home with you? Do you shut off unnecessary interruptions when you are studying? Ultimately we are overstimulating our brain. There is no longer an even flow of any one thought. Multiple chores and tasks are taken on at one time, with many left unfinished. We are stopping and starting like a beginner driver, or living from pop up to pop up.

Contrary to popular belief, we do not need to be plugged in 24/7. There have  been studies done on teen stress due to having phones on all night.  There are signs of loss of vocabulary, the inability to speak in full sentences. The emoji craze was fun for a fleeting second, but for some the world of texting and emojis have replaced reality, which can lead to an unrealistic craving for over sharing and drama. This drama can inadvertently change the atmosphere and attitude of your entire day, if it succeeds to pull you in.

Ever since the beginning of time we have been creating with the brains God has given us. However, when we leave God out of the picture our brains begin to hurt. We create, overstimulate and crash. Then we have to expend a ton of energy creating something else to fix the mess. Right now we are in that mess, and back paddling frantically to figure out how to help our brains heal.

God is the key to balancing our lives. God’s love, purpose and plan is the key to our mental health.

Today, if we are to take a real honest look at our nation, we have cause to mourn. By taking God out of our culture, our schools, our lives, our hearts and minds – we will continue to short out at breakneck speed. White noise here we come.

 

Still Choosing to Call God Good

Contrary to the excruciating circumstances surrounding us at First Baptist, I awoke with such joy. I credit it to reading about our dear sister’s, and her family’s faith confession in the face of severe illness. They are still choosing to call God good, and so will I.

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When I saw the rain outside my window this morning my heart leapt with joy. But my sister, how was she? As I went outside to work I paused, and looked up and welcomed the rain on my face. But my sister how was she? What ever she was experiencing, one thing was sure – her situation was reminding me of HIS gift called LIFE.

Strange how someone’s faithful posture in the face of uncertainty can lift so many hearts, and knit so many together.

Whether she is healed to spend more days on earth with us, or healed to enter heaven before me, my heart thanks her. In her suffering she has given more life to me than she’ll ever know, and has brought the promise of eternity closer.

And through the tears there is this unspeakable joy that cannot be explained. It is the Spirit bonding us together, whether near or far. It is the mystery of the Gospel calling us home and flooding us with HOPE.

Thank you my dear sister. You know well – God is still good.

 

 

 

The MOMENT…

The moment we let go of our NEED to have the LAST WORD,

is the moment we are HEARD.

The moment we let go of our NEED to be IN CHARGE,

is the moment we are given opportunity to LEAD.

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The moment we recognize our NEED of GOD,

is the moment we lay down our DEMANDS,

and become BEAUTIFUL.

Cindy Palin ©Sept.9,2018

 

 

BALANCE or COLLAPSE, it’s your CHOICE.

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People observing people… trying desperately to balance their lives. I wonder how many ‘balancing act’ courses exist? How many of these courses are able to teach us how to harmonize our chaotic schedules?

In seeking answers today, I came across a few articles that spoke about ‘plates being too full’. One author’s solution was to insist our vision was too small. “Get a bigger plate” he said. “O dear” is my rebuttal.

The trend today is to brag about how busy we are, but chaos should never be something we aspire to. Paul certainly had something to say about busybodies (1 Tim. 5:13). Don’t sign up to do more stuff simply because there are a plethora of choices.

I asked a colleague yesterday what her secret to balancing life was. She answered, “Ask Him”. Two very powerful words that we Christians can put into practice. Before signing our entire family up for our ‘culture craze’ way of living, let’s see what God wants. Jesus certainly was accountable to the Father. Christ’s short life on earth was purposeful and focused. He could have accomplished more, but instead He gloriously fulfilled his purpose. I have often reflected on how hard it must have been for him to restrain himself from healing everyone he met, just because he could.

While reading “Spiritual Leadership” by Henry and Richard Blackaby, I came across a paragraph that struck a chord. In brief they talk about a man who decided to climb Mount Everest simply because ‘IT WAS THERE’. Years later his body was discovered. He lost his life trying to achieve an unessential objective.

Isn’t that what we all experience at one time or another over the course of our lifetime? We embark upon the unnecessary, just because the opportunity is there, AND ‘balance’ continues to evade us. This is where the enemy of our soul wants us – running around in circles like a chicken with its head cut off.

The Blackaby’s write, “why are you taking a particular action?”  “What are the long term ramifications?” The authors conclude, “Those who impulsively charge forward will eventually collapse on their mountain, their efforts misspent.”

So let us revisit the “Ask Him”, and let us challenge one another to read God’s Word, and find out what He has to say in regards to balance.

 

Blackaby, Henry and Richard, Spiritual Leadership, B&H Publishing Group, 2011, pg 86, 87.

 

 

 

Forgiveness Only Goes So Far?

The next time you mess up, remember we serve a God who runs after our heart!

“Forever is Ours”

I get stuck in the ‘here and now’, although free of my past.

I forget forever is ours.

I can fret all I want to, but you pray for me.

I’m never too far from your arms.

Why is it easier to picture a King who reigns on high,

than a friend who runs after my heart?

Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,

that your forgiveness only goes so far.

 

So I’m struck by your patience and freed by your truth.

Reminded forever is ours.

You purchased my soul, you’re not trading me in,

and you died to hold me in your arms.

Why is it easier to picture a King who reigns on high,

than a friend who runs after my heart?

Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,

that your forgiveness only goes so far…

written in May of 2012 ©Cindy Palin

Psalm 103:12, Hebrews 10:17, Isaiah 1:18, Proverbs 18:24

How to Pray When You are Hurting…..

…specifically when you are suffering for taking a stand for Christ.

  1. Get on your knees “…pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:28).
  2. Identify who or what has hurt you (what does it look like spiritually?)
  3. Ask God for help on how to pray
  4. Sit quietly and reflect on someone who may have been in a similar situation (someone written about in God’s Word).
  5. How did they respond?
  6. Look up the related scripture that comes to mind through the Holy Spirit’s leading.
  7. Continue to wait on God, and listen for His response

2 Corinthians 10:4 talks about the ‘weapons of our warfare’. Followers of Christ have effective tools to use in spiritual warfare, tools that are not of this world.

I wondered to myself, the other night as I knelt in the dark, “what are those weapons?”.

The verse goes on to inform us our weapons have “divine power to demolish strongholds”. Verse 5 continues “We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.…”. 

2 Corinthians 6:7 opens the window of clarity a bit further, “in truthful speech and in the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.”

But again what are those weapons of righteousness? Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us more insight. Verse 12 (in context) reminds us insults may be hurled from human lips but “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against….” (Eph 6:12).

Find a Bible, a Bible app, or use www.biblegateway.com and read on for yourself. A study guide Bible is the best because you are provided with extra explanatory notes below, and other verse references.

The remaining verses in Ephesians 6:10 – 18 continue to describe our weapons, (the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, sword of truth…)

As I waited in the dark I asked God to show me how these weapons demolish strongholds and tear down arguments? I lifted my arms and pulled down an invisible wall in front of me, trying to see if further understanding would come. It did.

I recognized my accuser as someone I loved. Suddenly I understood as we pray God’s power transforms us. We begin to see the situation through His eyes. Just as God forgives, we  forgive. In love and forgiveness we are able to see through the circumstances. We are able to take our thoughts captive and submit to God’s purposes (2 Cor. 10:5).

I recognized I had a choice to wear the false accusations and allow the curse to linger, or to pray and clothe myself in Christ (Romans 13:14).

 

 

 

 

 

Live TRUTH, and combat UNTRUTH

The choice to focus my thoughts on Christ is very personal, and an effective way to live with purpose and meaning, within the relationship we enjoy together. I get very disheartened when friends, and family abandon their faith for some new teaching, introduced by the latest, and greatest guru.  It is perfectly normal to keep our ears open, to listen and learn – but watch out if the teacher’s motivations and messages do not measure up with scripture.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Tim. 4:3, 2 Tim. 3:7, Eph. 4:14).

 

The Gospel is still the message I choose to believe in, and the person of Christ has made himself known to me in many ways throughout my life thus far. My new worship song is entitled: I Love You Jesus. The lyrics are very simple, but the message means more than meets the eye (discussed below).

You’re so good to me, Jesus (Jesus)

So good to me, Jesus (Jesus)

I give you my whole heart, mind and soul. I love you Jesus.

You’re truthful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

So truthful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

I hide your Word within, You’re life to these limbs. I love you Jesus.

I lift your name on high before all men.

Never to turn away from our covenant.

You’re faithful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

So faithful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

And I have a faithful heart, because of who YOU are. I love you Jesus. ©CindyPalin/May 2018

The first stanza “You’re so good to me Jesus” are words of honour and gratitude, acknowledgement of God’s goodness regardless of my circumstance.  My choice to worship Jesus for His goodness is not based on material wealth and health, but on who He is, what He has done for me, and how He continues to grow me.

“I give you my whole heart, mind and soul” are words of obedience to Christ’s command in Matthew 22:37.

The second stanza declares “You’re truthful to me Jesus, I’ll hide your Word within, you’re life to these limbs, I love you Jesus.” Check out what Randy Alcorn writes about Jesus and the truth… He begins by quoting “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and continues to say “Jesus is the reference point for evaluating all truth claims.”   http://www.jesus.org/is-jesus-god/names-of-jesus/how-is-jesus-the-truth.html

The third stanza shouts “You’re faithful to me Jesus, and I have a faithful heart because of who you are, I love you Jesus”. Our faith does not depend on us, but on God’s faithfulness to us.  “So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:5).

The words “I love you Jesus” are significant. Even believers can struggle saying these words, but they are not based on feelings, or whether we’ve had a faithful day or not. Again these words are a choice. The more we say them, the more we are shaped by them, and the more we reflect Him.

The chorus is a declaration of unwavering commitment.. “I lift your name on high before all men, never to turn away from our covenant.” I am tired of all the psycho-babble out there. To quote another songwriter – “Just Give me Jesus” – Jeremy Camp.

We need to speak our faith in Jesus out loud (and sing it). This is not something I do to convince myself of what my heart already knows, I do it to LIVE the TRUTH, and combat all UNTRUTH.

Song Sample to be posted shortly – Cindy Palin

Grab Hold of the Days Ahead….

I remember Africa and the journal I kept. A miracle a day was my daily writing task. “Keep your eyes open and watch for what God is going to do, and write it down”, I told myself. I was scared out of my mind and watching and writing calmed my racing heart.

This past Sunday our Pastor spoke from Hebrews, chapter eleven, but began with having the congregation read Hebrews 10:39. “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

Sunday night I crawled into bed and asked God how I was to approach the coming week. Monday morning, when my body and spirit were just starting to stir, and my eyelids beginning to flutter – I saw a little girl jump out of bed, and I knew. I was to grab hold of the days ahead like an excited little girl on Christmas morning. Coupled with the verse from Sunday what did it all mean exactly?

My husband drove me to the airport and despite the snow and fog, I was relaxed and felt very content. I should have barraged him with “little girl’ questions like “are we there yet?”

Tuesday a.m. in my hotel room I looked up a few scripture verses on the theme of faith and children, in hopes to glean further instructions. There were a few that stood out, but before I assume anything I am going to jump out of bed like God’s little, faithful child and watch for what He has for me.

(at the CAPSS conference in Niagra Falls, Ontario.)