"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You're All I Need

Need: a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation: There is no need for you to go there. A lack of something wanted or deemed necessary: to fulfill the needs of the assignment. Urgent want, as of something requisite: He has no need of your charity. 

A wise man once said that life is about our needs and greed’s; God will always meet our needs, but unfortunately, we will always be tempted to pursue our greed’s. But make no mistake, if God is your personal Savior He will always meet your needs (Matthew 6:25-34)It’s important to recognize and acknowledge that all our basic desires come from the Lord. The needs and longings that reside within all of us were planted in our heart by God in order to demonstrate our dependence on Him and to enhance our relationships with one another. It is when, and only when, our desires become distorted to such a negative degree that they become an albatross around our neck and carry with them the potential to ruin our lives. Charles Stanley says; "Satan sets out to twist our yearning for love into lust, our longing for respect into pride, and our hope for success into greed." 

 I agree.

One need not look any further than food and sex to see what it looks like when needs begin to unravel out of control and we loss proper perspective concerning them. Consider, for example, food and our God-given need to eat. Satan has damaged and distorted the view of food in so many people’s lives that far too many human beings today are destroying their bodies, and in doing so, destroying their lives. Whether the distortion sides with starvation or overeating the result is always the same; pain, misery and a profound example of what happens when we take what was intended for good in our life and decimate it’s purpose. 

And then their is sex. 

Oh how do we love sex. 

Of all the gifts that God has blessed his people with, sex is probably the one that people abuse the most. 

Again, Charles Stanley says it best: 

 “One of its (sex) God-ordained purposes is to make possible a unique relationship between man and woman. Sexual intimacy is a gift from the Creator. But the prevailing mindset concerning sex today is from Satan. God’s standard is: One man for one woman, for life; physical intimacy is designed exclusively for the marriage relationship. According to the Devil, however, it’s: Any man for any woman until you are ready for someone else; sex is the relationship. God is not against sex any more than He is against food, love, or success. But He opposes the gratification of any desire outside the confines He has lovingly designated.”

So true. 

What else is true is that we are all created with desires that are woven into the fabric of who we are. I believe every human being entertains four basic needs.

Allow me to share...

(1) Something to do. We all need something to do. Work is good for the mind, body, and the soul.

(2) Someone to love. We all need someone to love unconditionally and someone to love us unconditionally.

(3) Something to hope for. Dream. Dream. Dream. Walt Disney said it best when he said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Hope equals courage.

(4) Something to believe in. I choose to believe in God. Colossians 1:16 states; “… Everything has been created through Him and for Him.” Last I checked, everything includes me.

Finally, the last stanza of 1968 mega-hit recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell, “You’re All I Need To Get By” reads like the anthem for the believer:

‘Cause we, we got the right foundation and with love and determination You’re all, you’re all I want to strive for and do a little more You’re all, all the joys under the sun wrapped up into one You’re all, you’re all I need, you’re all I need, you’re all I need to get by.’

So true. Remember, we all have needs, but in the end He will always be the only thing we truly need. 

He is all you need.

 sbb 30.10.12

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Here Comes the SON!

Storm: a disturbance of the normal condition of the atmosphere, manifesting itself by winds of unusual force or direction, often accompanied by rain, snow, hail, thunder, and lightning, or flying sand or dust.

"Here Comes the Sun"

“O my people; trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him. For God is our refuge” -Psalm 62:8


In 1969 George Harrison wrote a song that would later be regarded as one his best contributions to the Beatles. The song was featured on their Abby Road album. The song was “Here Comes the Sun”. That same year proved to be troubling for Harrison personally and professionally: he was arrested for marijuana possession, his tonsils removed, and he had quit the band temporarily. I think its safe to say things weren’t going great for Ole George, but in the midst of the storm Harrison produced something wonderful and lasting. The take away is that God has been doing the same for over 2000 years. The Beatles song, a personal favorite among many Beatles fans across the globe, is a reminder to me that the “Son” will always appear in the midst of a storm and create something beautiful. All of us will experience storms during our lifetime. That is a fact. We are either in a storm, just got out of one, or one is on the horizon. And with each storm we all have the opportunity to produce something beautiful. As a believer I acknowledge that for that beauty to be fully realized one must put their trust, and faith, in God and let him navigate the stormy waters, guiding us to a land that will produce spiritual growth and increased faith. That is beautiful. The challenge is to trust him; not ourselves. When dealing with the storms of life one must understand that we cannot control the length, or the severity, of the storm, nor can we control the time, or rational, behind it. Psalm 55:22 states; “Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you”. Those are great words of reassurance that reminds us that we don’t have to go it alone in our time of need. In closing, “Here Comes the Sun” ends with these words:

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right
It’s all right

As a believer don’t forget, the “Son” will always come. In our time of need Jesus Christ will shine brightly for all those that choose to see his blinding power manifested in our trial; our storm. Remember, everything will be alright. Everything will “always” be alright. God has a plan for us that includes dark clouds and storms, it also includes blue skies and the sun. Can you see him? Here He comes.

sbb 24.10.12


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Line Are You Standing in?

Priority: the state or quality of being earlier in time, occurrence, etc. Something given special attention.

Be Social!?

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2

Social networks are here to stay. Social networking sites has reached over 82 percent of the world's online population representing 1.2 billion users around the world (10.30.11). Whether its Facebook, twitter or pinterest people are spending more time on these sites than ever. ComScore, a global leader in measuring the digital world, reported in January 2012 that over 6.7 billion hours were spent on social networks in the month of October (2011) alone. "Social Networking, as a category, ranked as the most popular content category in worldwide engagement, accounting for 19 percent of all the time spent online."(comSource) In March of 2007 that number was 6 percent. Nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online is now spent on social networking sites. 

Priorities are shifting in every category of life and our "online life" is reflection of this fact. 

Balance, perspective and prioritization are three key elements in living a life that is full of maturity and advancing towards full, and complete, growth as an individual. Am I saying social networks or internet use is bad thing? In of itself the answer would be absolutely not. Social networks are no more evil than money. Its our attitude towards money that can be evil, not money in of its self, correct?. Our parents remind us that moderation is the key in all things. God tells us in Proverbs 25:16 that; "If you find honey, eat just enough--too much of it, and you will vomit."  

Balance is important; moderation is key. 

Proper perspective and prioritization is vital too. Most would agree that if you owe others or the government (IRS) money, but join a country club your priorities are out of whack. And if you decided to take an expensive family vacation but haven't paid your mortgage for two months, or you're considerably behind on your monthly financial obligations, that you've lost all perspective concerning what is truly important and what should take priority; precedence, in your life. 

In both instances the latter way of thinking would be correct. 

God admonishes us as believers to "not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.". Why is this important? Because once we become transformed in our thinking then, and only then, are we able to know what God's true will is for our lives. 

What line are you standing in?

Is it a line that starts with you and your wants? Is it a line that has it's eyes on the way of the world and all that it has to offer? Is it a line that puts a priority on vacations, country clubs and material items? Or are you standing behind others, letting their needs come first? More importantly, are you in line behind God, wanting to follow his every lead; his every move, allowing him to transform your mind in the process? 

What are you standing in line for? 

Where are you wanting; waiting, to go? 

sbb 23.10.12

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sleeping With the Enemy

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

"sleeping with the enemy"

In 1991 Julia Roberts starred in a psychological thriller entitled sleeping with the enemy. The film was based on a 1987 novel (of the same name) written by Nancy Price. Roberts plays a woman who escapes from her abusive, obsessive husband from there beautiful home in Cape Cod to Cedar Falls, Iowa where she captures the attention of a kindly college drama teacher.

Julia Robert's husband is charming, handsome and wealthy. He is also possessive, abusive and controlling, who has also fallen victim to OCPD (obsessive-compulsive personality disorder). All of this proves to be too much for Roberts as she unsuccessfully tries to live up to her husband's unrealistic standards and buckles under the strain. In one early scene Martin believes Laura has been flirting with an attractive neighbor, and he physically assaults her as punishment. The abuse is an ongoing routine, which began immediately after their wedding. 

At this point, serious fear begins to take over her life.

As the movie moves forward it reveals to the viewer that Roberts has to fake her own death in an attempt to escape her nightmarish marriage, but discovers it is impossible to elude her controlling husband. 

In the end, the only way she can eliminate her fear is to kill her husband in self defense and go on with her life.

And though this silver screen depiction is an extreme, but sadly too often of a real life reality, example of how debilitating and destructive fear can be in one's life, this is something everyone can identify with, as we all wrestle with fear from time to time in our lives

The good thing is we are not alone.

The Bible is replete, and is a strong reminder, that many people struggled with fear. God's word shares with us that the people that were plagued with fear were leaders, kings, warriors, moms & dads alike. The good news is that God spoke to them in the midst of their struggle; he will speak to us too.

"All we have to fear is fear itself"
-Winston Churchill

The Source of our FEAR.

As I stated earlier, we are not alone in our struggle with fear. The top five fears that people profess to have read like a familiar guest list: (5) Loneliness, (4) Ridicule, (3) Rejection, (2) Death, (1) Failure.

Fear is a constant companion for many and it often rears its ugly head in marriages, finances, parenting, careers, and yes, even in our spiritual journey.

One of the toughest things to do in our lives is to face our fears. 

Our fears can be anything and everything. They can be debilitating and relentless; they can destroy us. I have found that fear predominately and profoundly affect eight areas:

1. Fear stifles our thinking.
2. Creates indecisiveness.
3. Hinders our achievement.
4. Affects self confidence.
5. Affect our emotional health and well being.
6. Affects our relationships.
7. Creates panic.
8. Causes doubt.

I find that when I evaluate my fear and focus upon God's sovereignty and His providential hand he provides a peace that passes all, and any, understanding. There are two verses that remind me of his true power and protection in every situation.

"The Lord has made the heaven his throne, from there he rules everything."
-Psalm 103:19

"...His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He has the power to do as he pleases among the angels of heaven and with those who live on earth. No one can stop him or challenge him, saying, 'What do you mean by doing these things'?"
-Daniel 4:34-35

In the end, either you believe those verses or you don't.

Fear equals bondage and enslavement.

One of the awful outcomes of fear is that it can be reinforced and become stronger over time. It is said; "those who anger you control you". The same can be said about fear. Anything that causes us fear has the ability to control us. 

We have to come to the realization that anything that has the ability to control us that the control takes place in the deep regions of our mind, and to eliminate the control that a certain fear has in our life we must first change the way we think.

Romans 12:2 states this:

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Scriptures like the one above, and Philippians 4:4-8, support, and admonish, us to unlearn the destructive pattern of thinking in our mind & relearn God's pattern of thinking for our lives. For this to happen we need to challenge ourselves to not just read the scripture, but to meditate on it, running it over and over in our minds. 

In there lies the BIG difference and the greatest opportunity for a "game changer" in how we think, and live, our lives.

When we begin to understand fear we soon realize that "FEAR" is one of Satan's top strategies to derail our lives. Fear manifests itself in many ways, and in many different areas, in our lives, but the source is singular; Satan is the source of all our fears. 

Remember, Satan is the source.

The Structure of our FEAR.

In order to make progress in the area of fear we have to have a better understanding of fear and its genesis. We need to begin to acknowledge the source, Satan, and grow in our knowledge concerning the structure of fear.

In understanding the structure of fear we first must discuss the amygdala.

The amygdala (Latin, corpus amygdaloideum) is an almond-shape set of neurons located deep in the brain's medial temporal lobe. The amygdala plays a key role in the processing of emotions and is widely viewed as the region where the "fight or flight" phenomenon is initiated.  

"The amygdala has up to 22 distinct regions and only two so far have been clearly implicated in fear (2). The flight and fear responses may be obtained from the rostral regions of the amygdala, including the lateral nucleus, the periamygdaloid area, and the central nucleus. Defense or aggressive reactions could be obtained from the medial and caudal aspects of the amygdala (4). These reactions have been observed by the selective stimulation of amygdaloid nuclei in laboratory animals." 

An amygdala that doesn't function properly can lead to such troubling conditions as anxiety, autism, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias, causing damage, developmental problems, or neurotransmitter imbalance.

In short, and as I mentioned earlier, fear is a thief that steals our peace and robs us of a good future. Remember the words of Jeremiah 29:11:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

Satan may be the source, but God is the solution. He planed it that way.

Finally, the bible shares with us many stories where fear was the main character; Army of Israel vs. Goliath (1 Samuel 17:10-11 & 21-24 - read the entire chapter), The 12 Spies (Joshua 14:7-8) and Jesus Walks on Water (Matthew 14:27-34) to name a few.

Let God aid you in erasing your fears.

Few people were more familiar with fear than David. Just reading the story of David's life is enough to scare any reader. And with all that it was the words of David in Psalm 27:1 that can provide us with so much comfort:

"The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?"

God doesn't want us to live in fear. He wants us to put our faith in Him.

Webster defines faith as the confidence or trust in a person or thing. The bible states in Hebrews 17:1; "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." and in 2 Corinthians 5:7; "We live by faith, not by sight."

Our confidence should be centered around God; our faith firmly rooted in what can't be seen.

I have found that walking in faith and not in fear has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Fear has a funny way of crippling us mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. 

One guiding principle we must carry with us throughout our lives is that fear is inevitable; faith is a choice.

Below is what I've found walking in faith to look like:

1. Focus on God not your circumstance. The circumstance is there for a reason. It is there to teach you something. God is there to let you know what that teachable lesson is.

2. Face your fears. (Phil 4:6...look it up.) 
"Do not be afraid that some plan conceived behind closed doors will be the end of you. Do not fear anything except the lord almighty." 
-Isaiah 8:12-13 

3. Recognize and identify where the doubt and fear is coming from. Once you do that know in your heart that God is greater than anything that is the reason for your doubt and fear.

4. Ask yourself if God has ever failed you once you gave your life to him? The answer is no. Not getting what we want or failure in a certain area is not confirmation that God didn't answer our prayer or that he didn't rescue us. He just decided in infinite wisdom to not give us what we wanted. He knows what is best; we don't.

5. Does God promise to meet the believers need? The answer is yes. Please read Matthew 6:25-34 again. Read it every day for thirty days straight and monitor how your perspective will change during those thirty days.

6. His Holy Spirit will enable me to endure anything.

7. He promised to neither leave me nor forsake me. Hebrews 13:5 states; "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you."

8. Feed upon His word.

9. Faithfully obey his commandments

10. Forge ahead. In Joshua 1:6 God spoke to Joshua, "Be strong and courageous" he commanded. We would all do well to heed that advice every day. Remember, "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid."

Break free today!

Begin today to be strong, and courageous, and patiently wait and watch as "the" mighty force comes to your aid. Decide today to not sleep with the enemy for another night. Stake your claim today and overcome your fears. 

Remember to begin, decide and claim today.

Think about your life and the fears you're facing. And then, with God's protective hand, climb out of the boat of fear and begin to swim in the waters of faith. 

Do this and you will begin to live life more powerfully; more freely.

sbb 9.10.12