My quiet times with the Lord are not always quiet. Particularly in those times where the feeling of melancholy seems to be gaining the kind of foothold that shapes my perception of reality; it is time to break out the music with a strong beat and uplifting message, put on my dancing shoes, make a joyful noise and celebrate my life in Christ. I know that every person that reads this knows the meaning of “priming the pump.” We take action that paves the way for more of the same. Are you feeling low? Then it is time to prime the pump for joy. Make this a “rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice” moment! The counter-argument usually goes something like this: “But, I don’t feel like being joyful.” This is a common line of logic that we expect from children and adolescents, but spiritually mature people know better than taking the route of least resistance. We do the unexpected. James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” “OK,” I will admit it. I don’t generally count it all joy when things are going wrong. However, when I make the effort to connect with God, I always…did I say always? I always feel God-birthed courage to face the challenges. Time to turn up the volume—put on my dancing shoes and make some noise!
In the world of visual arts, particularly with photography and video, contrast makes all the difference in how a picture looks and is perceived. Turn the contrast down and the picture fades and loses color. Turn the contrast up and the colors of the picture get separation and pop out. It could be argued that the most visual difference between amateur and professional photographers is the understanding of how to use contrast. (Of course, there is more to it than that—but, contrast is a great place to start) Throughout scripture, we have a vivid picture of contrast. The measurable difference between the life of a Believer and the sojourner who has no faith. The Believer and non-believer are both living life, breathing the same air, facing the same daily challenges, living with virtually the same opportunities. With all that the Believer and Non-believer have in common (which is much), the contrast between their lives is marked with profound and measurable differences. The Prophet Jeremiah drew attention to the contrast with prophetic words: Jeremiah 17:5-8 Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Is the contrast clearing up the picture?) If you have put your trust in the Lord; you will survive COVID-19 with stories to tell the emerging generations. Stories of God’s goodness, provision, blessing and faithfulness. Don’t lose heart, the heat has been turned up, but you are like a tree planted by the waters…
Regrets: Have you ever felt that along the journey of life you may have taken a wrong turn? Most people feel that way because most of us have made some terrible—awful—crazy—foolish—and certainly, ignorant life choices along the way. We all make decisions, and I have personally discovered (often the hard way) that not all decisions are equal. Some of our choices seem to work out while others fall short of our expectations. (Full Disclosure: I had a few epic failures!) If we ponder our past through the lens of knowing the results of our choices; it can lead to toxic regret. We start “what if-ing” our lives as we scrutinize the outcome of what has brought us to where we are. “If I only would have zigged when I zagged.” “Wow,” that’s really helpful!? If I had married a different person, I would have been happier. If I had just taken that job, I would have been more successful. If I had only bought Dell stock when I moved to Texas, I would have been rich. If only… The possibilities of the different outcomes of regret are simply amazing…at least in my imaginary world. “I could have been somebody!” If you are reading this—you are still alive and if you are “in” Christ you have a future beyond imagination. I have four thoughts concerning regret: 1) Regret is futile because I cannot change my past. 2) Regret is dangerous because it threatens my future happiness with the burden of past failures. 3) Many of my regrets are centered around events that I had no control over. 4) Regret is a waste of my “now” time. I’m alive now—living in this moment—I’m still on the journey through life. Two questions to consider: “Have I learned from the past?” “Can I leave the regrets behind? Armed with hope for the future, I put my trust in God; I grasp the truth that it is time to forget the failures of the past and press on for the prize that is before me. (Philippians 12:12-14)
RJ Dugone's Blog
This is a blog of devotional thoughts and my "Christian" perspective on a pop culture gone mad. RJ