The joy of the Lord

Many of us would probably not admit it, but in my world, I have learned that we can oftentimes get very impressed as well as depressed by people.  We get excited when people feed our ego, or we can be saddened when people disappoint us and let us down.  

God spoke to me this morning and said: “The reason why you often get overly impressed with people AND extremely low with other people is because you invest too much of yourself in them.”  The bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength.  Its God’s joy that should carry us, consume us, encourage us and uplift us.  Simply stated, we have expectations on people to do things for us that they were NEVER created to do, and that is to be our SOURCE of joy.

Whenever we find ourselves wrapped in the the affairs of others it may be a sign that we have allowed them to rent too much real estate space in our mind.  If the joy of the Lord truly is our strength, then our happiness is never left to what others do or don’t do for or to us.  Oftentimes our emotions aren’t stable and they are built on how well or poorly someone treats.  Everything we need for happiness, peace,  and joy-the bible teaches us is found in the Lord!  He is the SOURCE of what we need.  In my world I am learning to stop looking for what I need in other people.  If I continue to look for what I need in other people, the possibility exists that I will be disappointed every single time.  People move like the wind, their attitudes are as shifty as ours, and continuing to seek joy in people says to the Lord that we don’t think he is competent to give us what we truly need.
I don’t know about you, but in my world I NEED joy!   I need joy, and I can’t leave the receipt of my joy to people who were NEVER designed to give it to me.  The joy of the Lord is my strength, your strength and whatever you need can always be found in the Lord!

The death of me…

In my world I am learning that comparing myself to other people will be the death of my Christian experience.  A few years ago I felt like life was passing me by, everyone was moving and advancing past me, and that everyone was experiencing things that I was supposed to be realizing as well.  I looked at people’s seeming lifestyle, what I saw as their accomplishments, and what they had and concluded how well they must be doing and how blessed they must be.  I compared what I was feeling and what was going on in my life and said: Wow, why is what happening to them, NOT happening to me?”
I would have possibly spent years feeling this way if not for a revelation that God gave me which was: “You know Noah, you could be jealous of a figment of your imagination.”  What do you mean Lord, I thought?!?!?!?  God began to explain to me that what you see in the life of other people is oftentimes not reality.  As all of us know, we often love to promote an image of ourselves that is not altogether accurate.  We enjoy having people think we have more money than we honestly do or having people believe that we live a life of ease and comfort.  Many times what we will even buy for ourselves (clothes, shoes, cars, electronics, etc.) we buy them because of how other people will perceive us.  WOW, they have that?  Man, look at what they are driving!  They stay looking stylish!  Yet when we get home out of the company of the human eye, we are miserable because while we are living are lives to please other people, we are often miserable.
I am learning in my world that comparing myself to people will be the death of my Christian experience because when I compare myself to other people, I can always lie to myself thinking that I am better or worse than someone.  However when I compare myself to Jesus, I ALWAYS come up short.  Coming up short to Jesus is a great feeling though, because Jesus promised that he would fill every shortcoming of my life through the power of His Spirit!!!!  
So listen, stop doing it!!  Stop comparing!!!  It hasn’t been beneficial to you, and you would have to admit that it has been silently draining you!  Stop living for the expectations of others and live to please one…Jesus!  After all pleasing Jesus is much more worth it because you know that Jesus loves you with flaws and all!  We try and impress people who we don’t know or don’t even like us.  So in fact we could be going through a world of trouble trying to impress people that actually don’t care or even take notice about what we are doing.
Thats my world….

Would you be missed?

In my world I had to learn to look the possibility of death in the face while experiencing my difficult bout with Lyme Disease.  As I struggled with my mortality I had to grabble with these difficult questions:  If I died would I be missed?  What difference had I made on the earth?  How many lives did I change?  While I still wrestle with these questions in my world, I would like to throw the same questions back to you.  Whose life are you changing for the better?  What positive changes are you making on the earth?  If you were to die, would you be missed?
I am noticing that our world is becoming more filled with people who are making changes in people’s life, but those changes aren’t for the better.  We are (society is) creating by music and media killers, rapists, angry fathers, and bitter mothers.  We are through reality television, certain music, and mainstream television; creating people who no longer seek positive change in the world, but are content to just get a new car, some new tennis shoes, and content with existing but not really living.
The mentalities of the men and women such as Martin L. King Jr., Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, etc are fleeting!  The positive messages about hope and encouragement about oneself are being replaced by expletives and calling people out of their name.  Helping people become what they were created to be has been replaced for keeping people beneath the level where God intended for them to be.
What are you doing now that is having an impact on the life of someone else?  Are you just marking time, or is time being filled with you pouring into someone else’s life.  Our society has become incredibly selfish in that, we don’t see the need anymore to look for people to pour in to!  Would people miss you if you were gone?  Make you life count for something more than just taking up space…Your life should have so much meaning that people wouldn’t just be sad by your death but are sad by the absence of your presence!   Would you be missed?
  

Preparation

In my world I am learning that I don’t prepare enough now for what God has in store for me in my future.  If you would be honest with me today…you don’t either.  God says in his word that he has plans for me!!!  If in fact God has plans for me, then it stands to reason that if I don’t prepare for what God has prepared for me, then I run the risk of standing in my future but unprepared for the particular season of life that God would have me be in.

When going through the worst season of my life to date, I often wondered if I could have prepared better for what was taken place.  I believe that there are things we go through in life that we honestly can’t prepare for.  Sometimes life’s twist and turns are so brutal that there is much that can be done to mentally or physically get ready for what will be before you. However, I do feel that there can be some staple principles to use in all of our lives.  Don’t wait until January to prepare for your future.  Your future is really next week, tomorrow, or even the second after you read this.  Oftentimes we wait for a more opportune time to prepare: the beginning of the week, the first of the year, the start of the month.  While there is nothing wrong with these times, waiting for those times to begin could cause you to be unprepared for your time!!!  So here are some things I have found helpful in my world, to help your preparation for your future:

1. Stop waiting!!!  This is soooooo easier said than done.  But I have learned and am learning that the more we wait and talk about what we are going to do, we usually settle for what we’ve been doing! (Somebody should tweet that…LOL) Lets be honest, how many times has the record played about what we were going to start doing or what we were about to do, and before we know it, years have past and we haven’t even started it….Start now!!!

2. Don’t take on the entire project at one time.  Sometimes because of waiting, and what we haven’t been doing, when we start doing, we try to do it ALL at one time….and this usually never ends in completion.  We either get frustrated, bored, or upset we waited so long to begin.  Do a little at a time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day…but it was built!

3. Keep yourself accountable.  If nobody knows about what you are preparing yourself for, it becomes that much easier to wait, procrastinate, and talk yourself out of preparing for what you need to get ready for.  Not everybody, but someone you know you can be honest with and they can be honest with you to help you along your journey.

God has plans for you, but its possible that where you are is causing road blocks to that plan.  Lets prepare ourselves for the great plans of God….go ahead, start now….no for real for real….go ahead!!!

I’m an Addict

Hello, my name is Noah Washington and I am a recovering addict…my addiction?  Pleasing People….smh
When people placed expectations on me and would ask me to jump, I would usually respond, how high?  Don’t read this and look at me strange because there are many of us who have had to deal with this addiction for many years and has caused us much stress, unhappiness and pain.  What caused us to be so people pleasing driven?!!!  For many of us its a result of what happened or what didn’t happen in the homes that we grew up in.   For countless others it may stem from poor relationships through college and post college years.  Whatever the case may be, let me offer some ways that you like me can be a recovering addict of this deadly addiction.
1.  Please realize and understand that people will ALWAYS have expectations of you.  They will place realistic and unrealistic expectations on you and expect you to deliver and WIN every single time.  Understanding this, don’t be surprised when they come because thats is part of life.  They are factors that you cannot stop: people and expectations.
2. People who often place expectations on you, do so because they are unsatisfied with their own lives.  There are people who will love to places expectations on you because they are so unhappy with how their life is going that they have to look for people whose lives seem to be more fulfilling and more interesting than theirs.  They love to critique, examine, and manipulate how you live your life, because they are ashamed about what their life has become.  Regardless of how many times you live up to the current expectations, you can NEVER satisfy these people!  They are unsatisfiable!!!!!  They will always look for things in your life to place expectations on….You can’t win with these type of people.
3. When you give yourself goals to accomplish, you will never be a captive of people pleasing.  When you have set goals and are actually accomplishing those goals then it doesn’t matter what people are trying to cause you to do.  Regardless of what people see or say, you can sleep at night knowing that through the power of God you are setting goals and accomplishing those goals.  Accomplishing goals is one way to silence the “peanut gallery” into making you do things.
4.  Every good thing isn’t a God thing.  Just because you are busy doing doesn’t mean you are busy in purpose.  People would love to see you running around busy accomplishing what they set out for you to do.  Before you move forward and get busy doing, you have to ask a critical question: IS GOD LEADING THIS?!!!  If God isn’t leading, and you move forward, its a sure way to continue pleasing people.  
I sure hope these help you, because they have sure helped me not to be stressed, saddened, and sold out to people’s expectations of me!  God bless you as you too can become more than a conqueror!!!

Don’t Hide

Its been a while since I have blogged and felt the need to blog about something today.  Over the last few months I have been praising God for good health and the fact that I am completely off of my medication for Lyme Disease.  Its such a wonderful thing when you can look back over you life and remember where you were, how bad of a situation you were in, and praise God for His goodness and extreme mercy towards you.

I have also been reflecting on how often silent I as well as other Christians can be about our beliefs and Christianity.  Why is it that sports, music, education, etc., get more publicity out of my mouth than Jesus?!?!?!!  Hey if the shoe fits for you then wear it, but I am blogging about myself primarily.  I have to constantly think about when I meet people or am seen in different places, what fragrance do I leave with people.  By my presence, do I present Jesus to them; not by my words so much but more so just by my presence.  Not a bible study, not even initially what I believe, but is the fragrance of Jesus left to linger in their atmosphere?

I, by the grace of God, want to make sure that the God who has saved me, delivered me, and continues to bless me is made KNOWN!!!  After all, if you can’t make Jesus known why are you a Christian?  In my world, I am trying my best to not hide the fact that Jesus loves me and I love Him!  He always deserves a standing ovation.  Jesus always deserves and encore.  Jesus deserves everything and more….come on and help me with making him known, everywhere you go!!!

Fear and Faith

This past week in my world I learned a lesson that maybe you have already learned, and that is that for a large portion of my life I have lived on fear rather than on faith.  If you would be honest it can be extremely scary, nerve-racking, and altogether frightening to step out in areas where you are unsure of what will happen. For a large portion of my life, I used to think that I was living by faith just because I went to church, sang in a choir, or even read my bible.  I mean lets be honest, you can read the bible but not have a relationship with Jesus…
In my world I had to come to the stunning reality that faith is not experienced until you begin walking in areas of the unknown!  Faith is also only built when you put God’s word to the test and begin holding on to God’s word more than you have held to your feelings.  I had to laugh literally out loud because for so long I felt and thought that I was living a full life of faith until things happened that pushed me to trust the word of God.  If you can already see everything work out and are in a position where you can make things work out, thats not faith.  But you begin walking in faith when faith finds you in a position where all you can honestly do is trust God’s word.
The reason this hit me so hard in my world is because I realized that walking in faith and walking by faith has so many benefits and I am missing out on huge blessings because of my fear.  My fear and maybe yours too can literally paralyze you to the point where you can’t see Gods blessings, experience God’s blessings, and rejoice in God’s blessings because fear has kept you locked in a prison to which you are serving a lifetime sentence.  But I do believe that its time for us to have a “prison break”!  Join me as we begin to, by God’s grace stop allowing fear to keep us from experiencing what God wants us to have!  Thats what I learned in my world…peace!

Trust

Trust is such an important factor in life.  It affects every single aspect of our life.  For those employed, there is a level of trust with your employer and co-workers.  For those married, there is a high level of trust with your spouse.  Those with friends, have expectations that our friends will help us and not harm us.  If you have a sibling, you trust that your sibling has your back no matter what happens in life.  I have learned in my world though, that trust often takes years to develop BUT takes seconds to destroy. We spend years of invested interest in people and yet, one experience can damage everything.
We have all been hurt before, and possibly more than once by people who we thought we had an indescribable amount of trust in.  I used to ask myself questions like:  Why did they hurt me so much?  Did they ever love me and appreciate me since the hurt was so devastating?  Why does it seem like my life is on hold for as long as the pain lasts?  I kept asking myself these and questions like these until God revealed to me that “Even though its okay for you to trust people, love people, and have relationships with people; you are expecting from them what they were not designed to give you.  What do you mean Lord? “You expect them to be your savior and they were only designed to be a significant part of your life…the faith you have in them is only supposed to go to me.”
I thought about what God shared with me and thought that it was such a hard word considering that the hurt was so deep.  But maybe the hurt was so deep because I allowed it to get there by investing what should have gone to God, to them.  My prayer is that I can start investing my faith in the right person…God!  I hope what I have learned in my world has helped you a little bit…Peace!

Prayer

Its been so long since I posted so I felt compelled to say something before the week finished.  I have been learning something about prayer on my journey toward learning more about Jesus.  In my world I often time take so much time praying for people, or praying that God will bless this or do that.  If you’re like me you often find yourself praying about so many different situations that you need God to attend to, to fix and to change.

God can you bless my wife?  God can you fix my finances?  Would you please touch my child from staying stuck on stupid?  We pray for so many things and so many people a sundry of situations that we desperately wants Gods help in.  One day I realized while in prayer that I was so busy praying for so many other things that I forgot something important to pray for….ME!!!

If God doesn’t change anything else, at least he will change my perspective toward what going on!  In my world, I learned that Gods desire is to change ME, but desire is more on Him changing the things around me.  If God is in fact all powerful than what is around me isn’t really huge concern; the greater problem is me and if I am willing to be changed by the power and mercy of God.  So can I encourage you to find, as I have, a new perspective on prayer, and that is on focusing on God changing you!

Why I Quit Church, Part 2

As promised I wanted to post the second part of the topic on why people are leaving church.  In my world I meet many people who are just disinterested in church for a number of reasons today.  I want to thank my friend Damien “Chip” Dizard for being willing to share in my blog!

Many children grow up forced to attend church and it’s not a pleasurable experience.  You know the line, “children should be seen and not heard” most churches give 10 to 15 minutes of a children’s story and then expect children not to move, eat or do anything the entire time.  I find that utterly ridiculous.  That’s why my family attends the church we do now.  Not because we are in love with the preaching, fellowship or even the facilities. Our children look forward to attending church and they actually learn something once they leave.   I didn’t have this opportunity growing up and my wife and I wanted to give our children the best chance for success. Does that mean they won’t get tired of church? Sure they may, but their childhood memories of church should be one of engagement activity and learning.

I have also heard stories of many families who never missed church but missed other important engagements for their children. Basketball games, musical recitals and more, but church, God’s house is never put on the back burner. Families can argue all week long, but they will sit next to each other smiling and holding hands in church.

Have you ever felt guilty for not attending church?  More and people especially younger Seventh-day Adventists aren’t attending church regularly.  I was talking with a friend recently whose sister who grew up in church who doesn’t attend or watch it online either. I think the story is similar to someone you know.  It’s an epidemic that spreads deep and wide. You may know a person who is guilted into attending church because they feel inadequate and once they feel better they go right back and do the same thing.

James 1:23-24 says “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

This text hit me because it is just foolish.  God doesn’t take attendance, but he knows when you listen to the word and don’t follow through.

How can you follow through with God today?  Tell us about your church attendance experience.  Leave in the comments below.

Chip Dizárd is a Christian, tech expert, author and blogger. He is passionate about his family and reaching people for Christ. His tech blogs are at chipdizard.com.