It is January 31st. It is winter. But, it is 67 degrees outside! It is beautiful. It is glorious! Admittedly, it is a bit strange for this time of year, but I will gladly take it!
I spent a good deal of time outside today, enjoying this amazing weather. I played with our dogs in the back yard. I sat, soaking up the sunshine while taking in a good book. In my opinion, it just doesn’t get much better!
I hope you had the opportunity to get outside and enjoy some of it. These are the kinds of days where you can stop, look around, and take in the beauty of life. These are the types of days that are good for the soul. If you are like me, you wish everyday were like today.
Unfortunately, this is real life and not everyday can be as beautiful as today has been. But, when you are a child of God, and you keep your eyes focused on Him, you realize that you can easily find something good in each and every day.
Actually, as a child of God, you should be looking for the good in each day. God wants us to be happy and to find light, even in dark places. And, as we all know, there are plenty of dark places. But, there is also plenty of beauty to be found. But, you must be cognizant, be aware of your surroundings and start to seek it out.
Finding beauty in nature is an obvious place to start looking. So, why not start there? But, don’t stop there! You can find beauty in the smile of another person, in having shelter, in the ability to get out of bed, in a single blade of grass. As Matthew 7:7 teaches us, “…seek and ye shall find…”
This morning I was cleaning up the house. At one point, I accidentally stepped on Aly’s paw. (Aly is one of our three kitties. She is the smallest in size and we often call her “baby girl”.) Aly cried out and ran under the kitchen table. I felt horrible. I was hoping I didn’t hurt her too badly. I went to check on her, patted her head and told her I was sorry.
About ten minutes later, I sat down for a few minutes to rest. Immediately the Al jumped up into my lap and started rubbing her head on my arm and purring. It made me feel a lot better about stepping on her earlier. I looked at her paw, and it looked fine. I felt like this was her way of forgiving me, of telling me it was ok. She had already forgotten about it!
I started thinking about how wonderful she was to be so forgiving, so quickly. I think that most pets are this way. (At least all of ours are!) This is what makes animals so lovable, amazing, and great. They quickly forgive you, no matter what you do to them.
God is the same way. He forgives us of our mistakes, of our sins. And, He will do so quickly. All we have to do is ask him for forgiveness and mean it. And, He forgives us. It is that easy.
Now, I know that that may seem like it’s too easy. And, I also know that most things in life are NOT easy. But, trust me when I tell you this, asking for God’s forgiveness really is that easy.
I know there are many things in my life that I need to ask His forgiveness for. What about you? It is such an easy thing to do, why not start now?
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. ~ Psalm 86:5
This past week has been a really rough one. We lost David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Dan Haggerty. Celine Dion lost her husband, followed two days later by her brother. All five of these men were lost to cancer. Each one of them will be dearly missed.
I have been listening to David Bowie’s music all week. He has always been a favorite of mine. Thanks to my parents, I grew up listening to rock and roll music, and it and Bowie have always been a part of my life. It will always hold a special place in my heart, as will David Bowie.
As I spent time listening to Bowie’s music, I got to wondering about his personal thoughts and views on religion. His music is so full of spirituality and often mentions God or religion, so how could I not wonder about it?
From what I have read, Bowie, like most of us, had questions about life—where do we come from, why are we here? His songs hint at the fact that he does believe in God, or at least, in something greater than ourselves. While I find that comforting in a way, I also find it heartbreaking. In an interview with Anthony DeCurtis, Bowie stated, “… I’m not quite an atheist and it worries me.” Towards the end of the interview though, Bowie said, “That’s the shock: All clichés are true. The years really do speed by. Life really is as short as they tell you it is. And there really is a God—so do I buy that one? If all the other clichés are true…Hell, don’t pose me that one.”
It is like he wants to believe in God, but doesn’t quite know how to. Or, that he does believe in God but just doesn’t realize it. (Is that even possible? This is the reason I say heartbreaking above--because from everything I have read, he never declares that he definitely does believe in God. )
Which leads me in another direction. This may seem arbitrary, but I will circle back around. At the end, it should all come together and make sense. At least, I hope it does! Please bear with me here.
At the nonprofit where I work, we have a leadership program. It is designed to help young and mid-management professionals to enhance their leadership skills and integrate their Christian faith in the workplace. And, while I realize that I may be partial, it is a pretty great program. This past Thursday we held the graduation ceremony for the fifth class of participants.
Each year for graduation, we identify a class member who has excelled in the program and ask that person to give a speech on how the program has affected them. This year we chose a gentleman by the name of Mark Van Zant.
Mark gave a stirring and poignant speech—one that also got me to thinking. He talked about how our spiritual journey is very much like planning for vacation. The long and short of his speech highlighted the importance of planning for your trip, and especially how important it is to decide who you take with you on your journey. (He compared our spiritual journeys with preparing for trips or vacations here on earth.)
As we grow spiritually and learn more about God, if we are doing it right, we should want to be sharing God and His goodness with everyone we meet. We should want to bring everyone we love and care about on our journey. We should want everyone we love and care about to learn about God and to become saved.
I truly believe our purpose here on earth is to love each other and help each other. We should be doing God’s work. We are His hands and feet here on earth. Our job is to show others what an amazing and great God our God is! Our job is to lead more people to God and helped them to be saved. That is what we are here for.
So, back to David Bowie, and thinking about his life and his incomparable body of work, and now his premature death—I can only think about how important it is that we lead others to Christ. While it may seem off base or weird, especially considering that I didn’t know Bowie personally, but I have become truly concerned with his soul. I want him to be in heaven. I want to believe that he believed in God. I want him to have been saved. Because of his music and his presence and light in our world, I came to care about him.
And, this leads me back to our true purpose here—to lead people to the Lord, so that they may be saved.
I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of people in my life that I love and care about, yet I am not sure if they are saved. It is something that I need to start talking to them about. And, it is something that can’t wait any longer. The time is now.
How about you? Are there people in your life that you are worried about? Share with them the story of Jesus. Tell them about God and how much He loves us. The time is now. Share your journey. Share your experience with God.
As for David Bowie, I come across an Instagram post from his beautiful wife, Iman. In this post Iman says, “The struggle is real, but so is God.” In keeping with my positive outlook on life for 2016, I am choosing to believe that this post is pointing towards God and good, loves and light.
In the comments section of the online post of Anthony DeCurtis’ interview, someone going by HeLives posted, “I believe since David had so much time by the Grace of our Great God, to 'ponder' Him, that he very much did. As one would expect anyone dying to do. Really look at all your 'options' you have considered, or delved into over the years. Who is anyone to say, he didn't cry out to God on his deathbed, at the thought… 'IS HE really Real?' And 'God, if you are, come to me now?' And don't anyone think for a moment, our God of Mercy, did not show David, 'Yes, I AM'.”
I choose to believe as HeLives does. I rather like the idea that David Bowie will be hanging out in heaven when I get there!
One of the main reasons I love being on Facebook, is that it allows me to keep in touch with my family and friends, the majority of whom are good Christians. If I am ever feeling down, sad, angry, aggravated, or annoyed, I can pop over to Facebook and I can rest assured that my friend’s posts will cheer me up.
Many of them post funny things that make me smile, silly videos that make laugh, or Bible verses that speak directly to me about my current situation or mood. It can actually be rather freaky how timely some of these posts can be. I realized a good while back that God uses Facebook to speak to us. He certainly does work in mysterious ways! And, I am so grateful for that. I am also grateful that I have people in my life who are doing God’s work through social media-- even if they don’t realize it.
I also have many friends who will ask for prayers. Some of them are unspoken prayer requests and some of them are specifically laid out. Some of them are for their family members and some of them are about situations they are facing in their lives. Each time I see a prayer request from my family and friends, no matter what the issue is, I pray for them right then and there.
I will often times type in a response of some sort to let my friends know that I am praying for them. A lot of times I say something to the effect of “happy to pray.” This may seem like an odd thing to say, but for me it is true. I am always happy to pray for the people I care about. That doesn’t mean I am necessarily happy about what I am praying about, or why I am praying, but I believe that praying in and of itself is a wonderful thing.
When we pray, we are spending time with God. Is there anything greater than that here on earth? I don’t think there are many things that can top spending time with God. It is something that I, personally, don’t do enough of. (Although, I am doing a much better job of it now than I did a few years ago.) Even if it is only for a few brief seconds, saying a prayer for someone else gives us another chance to spend time with God. It is a great way to remain grounded and helps us pull our focus to what really matters – doing God’s work and loving and helping one another.
Over the past year I have purposefully set time apart each morning and each evening to spend time with God. These are the two most important times in my day. In the mornings I read Bible verses sent to me via email and I read a daily devotional. In the evening, before I go to bed, I try to read a chapter in my Bible. But, being a wife and working a full-time job, I often get so busy during the day that I forget to spend a few minutes with God. This is where my jaunts to Facebook help. I see Bible verses there that I can focus on. And, more importantly, I see my friend’s prayer requests and I can help intercede to God on their behalf.
Praying for others isn’t something to take lightly, nor is it something to be accepted from others lightly. When you offer to pray for other people, I feel like that is a big deal. At least, it should be a big deal. When you pray for someone, it means you care. Prayer should be the first thing you do in any situation, not your last resort. God wants to hear from you and He wants to help you. So, the next time you need prayers, first pray for yourself and your situation boldly. Then reach out to others and ask them to pray for you. It is no small thing. It is a big and powerful thing. Be willing to help those that you care about—pray for them! (And, remember to so gladly.)
In my quest to be a more happy person, I realized that my focus word for 2016 should be POSITIVE. Sorry, joy, hope, grace, and peace. While you are each wonderful, I am going with the word positive to remind myself to always look on the bright side of life.
Every time I hear, see, or think of that phrase, “always look on the bright side of life”, I automatically start singing that song from the Monty Python movie Life of Brian. Thank you, Eric Idle, for this quirky gem of a song that is not only true - well, except for death being the final word, but always brings a smile to my face and laughter to my lips! (And, makes me start whistling too!)
My New Year’s resolution is to not only be a more positive person, but to laugh a lot more. I am going to seek out funny things to watch, read, or listen to. With the interwebs close at hand, it shouldn’t be that hard.
Finally, I am going to be a lot more thankful. I am going to spend more time talking to God. I am going to give Him lots of little moments throughout my day, just to thank Him for all His glorious gifts, big and small.
Don't forget to laugh and smile and dance and sing!
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light and any good thing that I come across.