Can You Put God In A Box?

 

Usually this term is used when we are not mindful of trying to stuff God in a box that we have made for Him. In other words putting God in a box is usually seen by others who peer into our lives from the outside thinking that they know our relationship with God more than ourselves.

Or, we are just not aware that is exactly what we are trying to do. Make God fit into our plans by coercing the All Mighty into a place that we believe is where the two of us must co-exist for the benefit of mankind.

Both the above carry the weight of truth, depending on whose eyes you are using.

But lets look at this subject from a different angle.

Wm Paul Young writes, “The only time we will find God in a box is because God wants to be where we are. And that is all the time.” 

This is what is so wonderful about God’s love toward us. He is willing to be exactly where we are if that is what we want. If we believe that He lives His life through us then we also have to believe that He is willing to live and breathe where we are in our life.

God is not afraid to get His hands dirty if that is what it takes to ensure us that He is with us always.

Eventually you may realize that you are not in the place you would like to be. That you have made a few wrong turns, hasty decisions, missed a boat that you should have boarded.

So how much more sense does it make if you are a pragmatic person like myself if God is willing to be wherever we decide to be.

Isn’t it said that “I will be with you always even to the end of the world”.

So, can you put God into a box?

No, I don’t believe so.

But He is more than willing to step into that box that you so conveniently made for Him.

 

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Owe No Man Anything – Especially Money

It is very difficult to go forward in any facet of your life if you are in debt. It’s a weight that holds you down.

I speak from experience.

My wife and I were financially treading water for years. With two teenage daughters left at home and debts closing in on $90,000 we were reaching breaking point.

Our credit cards maxed out and our outgo far exceeding our income we had to do something or we were going to crash-land our life and the outcome was not looking good.

On a personal level my relationship with God suffered. I don’t believe even God could help us out of this mess unless we were willing to help ourselves.

I can hear His chiding. “You got yourself into this mess now get yourself out of it.”

‘Owe no man anything’ was a constant tune playing in my head and I added ‘especially money.’

Winning the lottery of course was on top of my list to clear the books. But when you can’t afford to buy a lottery ticket you really need to rethink your pay back plan.

With creditors circling for the kill we had our backs against the wall.

In a moment of spouse solidarity Rhonda & I agreed we needed help. We found a company that worked with the government to keep the creditors at bay and promising that all money would be paid back within a five-year period.

The company restructured out budget allowing us two things, to keep the car we were still paying off and allowing our two girls to stay in private school.

That first year was torture as we barely had the strength let alone money to keep our heads above water. Our combined income was not enough to make our debt payments plus pay our overhead and put food on the table.

We doubled down, we got extra work, extra hours, more money, less sleep, no personal time.

Long story short we paid off our debt in three and a half years. Saved a substantial sum of money, our two girls graduated and moved on with their own lives.

Rhonda & I were able to take a year off to travel and bought our first home.

There have been many highlights in my life. And the day we paid the last of what we owed on our debt.

Although being out of debt for the first time in over twenty years is high up there on my list of back slapping (our own backs) and euphoria it was the knowledge that I was then able to move on in my life without the heavy burden of debt.

Don’t let debt suck the life out of you.

If we could do it so could you.

 

Detours

We must trust that God..because.. he always gives us what is best for us. He always leads us the best way. If he had a better way for us, he would have chosen it.”  

If you are asking why me, what did I do to deserve this, why are you doing this to me God, where did I go wrong, why are you punishing me, you are in good company.

Those same questions lead me to my daily mantra of “I can’t take this shit anymore”.

Deep down as a believer you know that God loves you. You know that you were called to this life you now find yourself living in but you can’t help believe that somewhere along this journey you are on that perhaps you made a wrong turn.

If you have been in the game long enough you know that life has many speed bumps and detours. A detour takes you off course and if you are not familiar with the layout of the land it can take you out of your comfort zone but as long as you follow the signs with the detour arrows that lead you back on the right road to continue your journey you will be OK.

What ever life throws at you, no matter the hardship or having to face your worse fears, hold onto the fact that God from the beginning had a plan for your life. He had calling and purpose that is fitted specifically for you.

Then you must also believe if there was a better way to get you to where you need to be then He would have chosen it for you.

My detour was suicide, mental illness, alcoholism, drugs and prison. Not me, my children. My greatest assets, my pride and joy.

Twenty years of detours and breakdowns. I followed the detour signs albeit reluctantly and it got me back on track.

I may not have turned out to be the man of God I always wanted to be but because of the path He chose I became the child of God that He had purposed me for.

He knows what He is doing.

Trust Him.

 

 

Enjoy Your Own Company

If you want to get the most out of your relationship with God then you will have to learn how to be alone. And I will add, enjoy it.

Being alone should not be a chore. It cannot be something you feel you need to do to get closer to God because you can’t get closer to God. He comes to us only if we allow it.

Solitude is the key.

So what does solitude look like. The word to me  has the connotation of sitting in a room with no outside distractions so one can be fully ready in body, mind and spirit to receive Gods presence.

Full disclosure, this has never worked for me. Ever. My mind races, my body desires and my spirit is off chasing the elusive butterfly when I try to ohm God into my life.

I had it ass backwards for so many years and the picture I see is God rolling his eyes when I try to work my way into His presence. In fact it had the opposite effect, I unwittingly kept God out of my inner circle.

There didn’t seem to be any coexistence between me and God.

So for over twenty years God was kept at arm’s length because I had been given the wrong advice on how to apply myself into Gods presence.

So what changed things for me?

Learning to love myself is the simplest way I can put it. I got back to the basics in life. Like a child can spend hours of time with his or herself just playing or engrossed in what seems like the simplest of tasks and getting so engrossed and involved in what he or she is doing that there is nothing else that matters. Happy and content with their own company.

I learned to enjoy my own company again. In so doing I realized that God was there to enjoy my company too.  I know this is simplistic, but my relationship with God became intimate. No longer at arm’s length because I now see that God wants to right there with me to enjoy what I enjoy.

We are not here to serve him and make him happy that we are doing his bidding. I believe that we are here to co-exist. God wants to enjoy and be turned on to the same things that we enjoy and are important to us.

 

Am I presumptuous in believing that God actually enjoys my company?

It works for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am Uniquely Me

Let’s get  the dictionary’s take on unique:

‘being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else’,

‘in a way that belongs or is connected to only one particular person or thing’,

‘in a very special or unusual way’,

‘not the same as anything or anyone’

As is said, no two snowflakes are exactly  the alike. The same can be said for people, no two people are exactly the same which makes each one of us unique.

I have credited unique in others usually in the form of talent or gift that is obvious to the naked eye. A math genius, the music prodigy, the business wiz, the once in a lifetime  teacher, lawyer, politician, actor, scientist, author, comedians and the list goes on.

The individual brilliance about these gifted people may or may not be what makes them unique at all and if you haven’t possessed one of these extraordinary gifts from birth nor worked your ass off most of your life trying to accomplish yourself in any one of these professions you may have a hard time seeing your true value as a human being, your own unique uniqueness.

So what makes each of us unique.

For me its the story of my life that makes me so different from any other person that has ever lived.

I am entering my septuagenarian years (I know I am a slow learner) and I have finally figured this out.

My uniqueness is in part the story of my life. I own it and no one comes close to it.  The experiences, the breaking, the grief, the failures, nightmares, the embarrassments, the humiliation, the memories, relationships, all the good, the  bad and the ugly are all mine.

But what makes my story unique. It’s not necessarily the manifestation of my experiences that we so often associate with success or glory and/or failure. It is also not the mundane daily grind that one has to endure to accomplish ones goals.

Its how those experiences that formed my story along the way changed me inwardly. The true gifts of life such as love, compassion, empathy, desire, encouragement, patience, understanding that has made my life truly unique.

The same also holds true to you.

These changes that occur through your personal stories will be made clear to those with whom you come in contact with, read your blog, listen to your music, interpret your paintings or just enjoy being in your presence.

These attributes good or bad are uniquely yours and only you by living your life day by day, can shape the story of your life.

Its your story, embrace it, enjoy it and love the way it changes you.

Because that is what makes you uniquely you.

 

 

These Three Are One

 

When I was a Christian the trinity was not something that resonated with me. I could never quite grasp its concept.

Maybe my Jewish upbringing had something to do with that.

Jesus became a part of my life before I became a Christian. My relationship with God was tenuous at best and the Holy Spirit was the new kid on the block whose presence was not always practically visible.

Ironically the trinity as is taught by the Christian world is one of the few things that I have been able to make my own. Its truth lies in my own belief that Jesus is for our body (or physical life), God is for our soul (my spiritual life) and the Holy Spirit is the conduit that connects the body and soul or God and Jesus or man and the universe.

As a practical man this analogy sits well with me.

Jesus came into my life when I was twenty-two years old. I had little knowledge of Jesus as my Jewish upbringing sheltered me from anything outside the Jewish world even though I went to public school and had many non-Jewish friends.

God was always a distant identity never entertaining the thought that even if a personal relationship with this angry old man was possible, I kept my distance.

I at least knew where each one stood.

Jesus firmly in my heart.

God had his place on His ceremonial chair far enough away that I tried not to bother him lest he scold me.

The Holy Spirit was and to this day remains an enigma. In saying that I am happy to put her into the big three because her place is as important.

With years between me and the Christian world that held my beliefs for close to twenty-five years I set out on a personal mission to decide my own beliefs based on what I knew to be truth.

In this case;

God is no longer the big meanie I believed Him to be.  I have grown to respect and trust Him more with my life each day.

Jesus remains my best friend and ever-present companion here on earth knowing he always has my best interests at heart.

The Holy Spirit continues to bring the back and forth between heaven and earth with the supply of power and love needed to make my life a balanced one.

My turnaround is the belief that heaven and earth are working together to help me in part to make this world better for all.

God and Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit are hard at work in helping all of us understand that, “His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, to see similarities between the two worlds.

And finally, to prepare us and even excite us for the day we pass from this world into the world that awaits us. The world in which I believe we came from in the first place.

The father, the son and the holy spirit?

This works for me.

Enough With All The Words

In my previous life as a christian, praying without ceasing was ingrained into my being. I was taught to pray over every little thing during each twenty-four hour period of wakefulness.

Using my mouth and words I would pray over each meal, before driving, before and during performing each physical task, putting on my shoes, washing the dishes, opening the door, not slipping on the ice, crossing the street safely, waking up, before going to bed, brushing my teeth, reading my bible, pray for my kids, my wife, the postman, the postman’s wife, even before, during and after sex.

Never mind sitting in on group prayer, church prayer, laying on of hands prayer, goodbye prayers, hello prayers.

I am sure I even prayed before praying.

I was drowning in prayer. I was afraid not to pray, about anything. I had an OCD prayer syndrome.

I can now just imagine God holding his head in his hands, pleading with me, “enough with all the words already. I heard you the first time, for My Sake.”

Why do we implore God as though he can’t or won’t hear us. Or do we feel we need to continue to remind God, “hey its me, just want to remind you of…..er, everything.”

I think we take praying without ceasing to the extreme especially when we think it means using words, too many words.

Flannery O’Connor got it right when she said, “prayer is, at root,  simply paying attention to God.”

It works for me. And God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pursue me God, I dare you.

Are you tired of chasing after God. Doing everything that is humanly possible to get his attention and yet He seems far enough away that you just can’t touch Him?

Does laying prostrate before God tire your weary body, confused mind and unfulfilled soul?

Are you thankful for all He does in your life but below the surface of your thin skin waiting for Him to pull the rug from beneath your feet?

Do you have that dream where you are running after the elusive imaginary piece of the puzzle that will solve all your problems and it is always just out of reach?

Then maybe its time to turn the tables on God for a change. Maybe its time to stop thinking that we are to live our lives trying so hard to please God and  our ‘soul’ purpose here on earth is continually remind God with our feeble attempts to show Him just how much we want to live for Him by praying, “not my will but thine be done.”

Have you ever thought of the possibility that that God wants to pursue and chase you?

This idea became clear after reading how Elizabeth Esther challenged God by declaring, “I want to experience God pursuing me for once…. I am tired of seeking, striving, and knock-knock-knocking on heaven’s door. I am challenging God to pursue me like someone who has never been exposed to the Bible. Love me, God. I dare You. – (Girl at the End of the World)

With this in mind I am learning that God does want to pursue us and  He goes a step further by desiring and taking pleasure out of living His life through us which brings me to my next point.

As someone so wisely said, God comes to you disguised as your life. His desire is to enjoy Himself through your life.

You don’t think that he gets a kick out of watching a two-year old try to colour between the lines? I now know that he enjoys himself when I tell one of those stupid jokes no one gets but I laugh myself to tears. He is laughing along side of me because He is enjoying me enjoy myself.

Apply this understanding to everything you do. Playing with your children, travel, painting, writing a song, helping those in need, hitting a baseball, cooking a meal or even doing a two thousand piece puzzle. If it excites you then it excites God.

Dare God to pursue you. I did and I was surprised how much he enjoys it.