Finding The Peace At Christmas

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”~Luke 2:14

We hear this phrase in both word and song throughout the holiday season, but do we understand what its implications are?   What did the angles mean when they were saying this 2000 years ago?  We certainly don’t have world peace.  There are people out there now plotting the deaths of innocent people.  With all the strife and stress of everyday life how can we have good will toward other people?  Why is it we have the gift of giving only once a year?  One of my favorite Christmas songs is Where are you Christmas by Faith Hill.  Here are some of the words:

“Where are you Christmas
Why can’t I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can’t I hear music play

My world is changing
I’m rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too?”

That is the sad of it and a lot of truth in those words.  For many Christmas means loss, for others it’s a reminder of a terrible time in their lives.  Why can a celebration of life bring such sadness and sorrow?  It can if we let it.  Let’s pull some truth from the above scripture and gather some insight on how Christmas should be.

The first part of the verse says glory to God in the highest.  To find the peace at Christmas we have to do three things, prepare, pray, and praise.  When we glorify God in the highest it’s through reading and studying His word.  We can prep for glory by doing that one thing.  The next is talking to God through prayer.  Remember prayer is not a God to do list for your needs or wants, it’s a praising Him, thanking Him, confessing to Him, praying first for others, then yourself type of thing.  The third and final thing is praise Him by living a life of love and gratitude.  Remember gratitude is the attitude that keeps on giving all year long.  A heart that is thankful is always a giving heart.  Every year since I have been married to my wife we have gone to look at Christmas lights around our city, this year yielded less than stellar results.  We were missing my father in-law that would do all the driving.  No matter how normal we try and make things after loss, it’s never the same as it once was.  The key here is to glorify God through the pain and the loss and keep the consistency of praise.  We can glorify God because we know that my father in-law is all healed up and in a way better place right now.  That continued glory gives us peace.

When we fully glorify God, He gives us peace on earth.  That doesn’t mean world peace, it means peace in our hearts.  As long as evil exists in the world there will never be world peace.  I know that doesn’t sound encouraging, but it’s truth.  The encouraging thing we can have is peace beginning in our hearts.  When we have that godly peace in our hearts it gives us favor with God and that’s our next part of the verse.

Favor is the direct result of peace in our hearts.  Webster’s says:  Kind regard; countenance; propitious aspect; friendly disposition.  I like the last words, friendly disposition.  God becomes our friend when we glorify Him.  I can truthfully say that my life is so much better when I started spending time glorifying God every day.  I am not saying this is not a struggle for me to do every day, it is.  I am human after all, but my day is so much better when I start out glorifying God.  This blog is an extension of that glorifying factor.  When I write these things down, and share it with you I can feel God smiling down at me.

How does this all translate into Christmas?  When we glorify God, we find peace in our lives and we have God’s favor, that favor is passed on to others in the form of love.  The last part of the lyrics of the song Where are You Christmas answers the question it asked at the start of the song:

“If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time

Oh, I feel you Christmas
I know I’ve found you
You never fade away, oh
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love.”

The favor of God helps us to pass on love to others.  If we keep this going like the song says; “You will fill like Christmas all the time.”  It’s awesome to get gifts, but the best gift of all is giving of your time, talents, and treasure. Finding the peace at Christmas begins with glorifying God, finding that peace, accepting God’s favor and passing that favor on in the form of love.  Christmas is a celebration of life, the start of the life that has saved us all, Jesus who gave it all for us.  Why not make Christmas all the time and give that favor back to others?  That is how you find the peace at Christmas.


© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016

Traversing the Dark Valley of Loss Part 4 Thanksgiving Editon

Jim, The Man of God

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23:5-6

Since the last installment of this blog series which is taking me forever to complete, a lot has happened.  I have now lost my Father in-law that was another best friend to me.  I have had to take some weeks to process all that has happened.  The week before we went on a vacation, that was 10 years in the making, he passed away from the very thing that was killing me a few years ago, congestive heart failure.  The vacation we chose was to go up to Sheboygan WI, to a wedding of my best friend’s Brian’s daughter.  Remember Brian is what started this series, he passed in March of this year.  It was a bitter/sweet time we had up there.  A very emotional time for me, but also a time of closure.  It was a haunting yet peaceful time we spent there.  Haunting in the fact that I was sleeping in his bed, beside it was his lap top and a bunch of files that I assume were of clients that he had when he was family counseling, and some books he was reading.  There was no way we wouldn’t want to spend as much time with them as possible so we accepted the invitation to stay with them.  I want to close this series in a positive note, not just doom and gloom, but with the idea that God will prepare a table in the presence of my enemies.  That is complete care, that is complete love, that God will do that for us.  We have to remember no matter how many hardships we face that God is in the midst of them.  My brother in-law shared a great message of hope when he shared my dad in-law’s eulogy.  He took it from one of my favorite Psalm’s, Psalm 1 which says:

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields much fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers.  Not so for the wicked!  They are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”  

This Psalm explains why God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies and why we cannot stay in the deep gloom of depression and move forward into acceptance and continued living.  My father in-law Jim lived this Psalm to the best of his ability, not in any way a perfect man, who is?  He was perfect to us who loved him so much and as Thanksgiving looms tomorrow when I post this I am so thankful to have known this awesome man.  The first thing my brother in-law Burr said was that conduct is part of the man of God.  The man of God, God’s man, does not walk in the way of the wicked, does not take company with mockers he reads the bible day and night.  Jim’s strength was the word of God, he always made sure he had a copy of the bible, he was never satisfied with the one in front of him, he was always getting other copies to learn and understand what God was saying to him.  More recently he wanted a copy on his phone so I was always at his call to make sure his phone was getting the bible.  His conduct was always that of a man of God he had the second staple of Christian faith and that was prayer.  He could pray the socks off of someone.  We always avoided asking him to pray for dinner because the prayer would be so long before we could start eating, he did keep them short later in life, but if you talked to my wife they would sit for a long time before they could eat.  Those two staples reading God’s word and praying causes that last part of conduct of a godly man and that is passing on what he learned.  Jim always was talking about Jesus and what Jesus had done for him and what Jesus can do for you.  One of the things I love was when we would discuss the bible and I think he would take a controversial view point just to get me thinking more and to get me to debate sometimes.  He was one of the people that got me to love the word of God and want to read it and desire to read it.

The next point Burr made was there is consequence from the conduct.  I just pointed it out, he made me want to read the bible more.  He made me want to be a prayer warrior like he was and is today.  Just because he is no longer on this earth doesn’t mean his prayers don’t echo throughout eternity.  Consequence:  he had two pastors that came out of his teaching, and who knows how many people looked to Jesus for salvation because of him being an incredible children’s pastor.  If we could just touch a quarter of the many people this man touched, we would change many lives.

He had character as well.  He always made himself available to anyone who needed help, whether it was to be driven somewhere or to fix something.  He was the best fix-it man on the planet and would move heaven and earth to help his family out as well as his church family.  Recently I found myself sadly replacing a trap underneath my kitchen sink, he taught me how to do that.  Later in life he couldn’t do what he used to be able to do, but he sure could tell you how to do it.  I missed his instruction, we had fixed many things together from doing a brake job on a car to fixing a toilet to putting in a new toilet.  Good times that can never be forgotten or replaced.

Burr had a last point and that was contrast.  The last part of the Psalm shows us the contrast between a sinful man and a man of God.  God’s man has awesome conduct that translates into incredible consequences, and has this unbelievable character in him.  Where sinful man is just like chaff and blows away in the wind.  Nothing in this world that sinful man does will stick like what the godly man has done.  Chaff is the useless husks of grains and grasses that gets separated during threshing.  The man of God is useful, the sinful man is useless.

Psalm 1 is in the end of Psalm 23 and is more about the living than the dead.  We are chosen as God’s people, so our conduct is that our cup overflows with God’s goodness, Jim’s did.  The consequence of goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.  Character is having goodness and love following me all the days of my life.  Finally, the contrast is I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever, not the worldly sinful man who rejects God.

As a final tribute to this man of God, one of my best friends, a mentor, a fine example of a man of God, I am going to write poem with all of these points I talked about above.  As this Thanksgiving Day comes and goes, always cherish the ones you love, because one day they might not be there, and I pray they will be in a better place with God, as I know Jim is.

God’s Man

God’s man conducts himself

with bold talkfests with God.

His bible off the shelf,

A righteous path he plods.

Consequences befall,

A pathway to changed souls.

Pictures hang on a wall,

of many on God’s roll.

His character is loving,

A selfless aura is seen.

Lovingkindness gushing,

His benefactors glean.

Character in contrast,

To the world’s man discerned.

But buried is his past,

Good God aim has him turned.

© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016

Traversing the Dark Valley of Loss Part 3

“He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”  Psalm 23 3b-4

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I put in my last installment of this blog series.  I apologize for those readers that have been waiting for me to finish this series.  A lot has happened in life in the last few weeks.  My Mom had another infection that had to be taken care of in the hospital.  As I go through this blog real life is still happening.  It’s interesting I am sitting in a busy Starbucks drinking this awesome espresso iced coffee and there is another refreshing thunderstorm happening ironically.  Maybe I do my best writing with a thunderstorm.  This next part of the passage is my favorite, I love the description that David puts here of the shadow, or dark valley.  Remember when you are resting in God’s shadow there is no darkness around you.  God’s shadow is light.  You can see clearly in God’s shadow.  The dark valley or the shadow of the valley of death is not death overwhelming us or even hurting us.  It’s but a shadow, a non-tangible thing that cannot hurt us.  It can bring pain for a time, but it cannot destroy us.   It’s the trial you are dealing with, but the light of God always turns it around for good.  Always think of that, this will turn into something positive.  I’m seeing this already with my best friend’s wife.  We never really had spoken to each other or had much of a relationship until now after his death.  She is a very sweet woman and I am seeing the positive of God bringing me closer to this family that I love dearly.  The last blog was about resting in God as we go through the dark valley, now we need to follow His lead.

God leads us onto paths of righteousness.  What does it mean to be on a path of righteousness?  It means you are in God’s perfect will.  Our next step while we are traversing this dark valley is to continue on this path.  It’s hard to after you lose several people in your life all at one time.  It’s hard when access to something or someone you love is no longer possible.  The best thing to do after a rest is to do something, do an activity.  Let’s be honest, the valley is a dark place, we have to traverse that dark place to heal properly and to be what God wants us to be.  When we emerge on the other side we are better because of the dark valley.  Why should we continue on, because it’s for God’s glory, for his name sake.  Nothing shows more glory than a person who was once hurting and they emerge as an overcomer, nothing shows glory more than a person in step with God’s will for their life.  We do it for God’s glory, not ours, because the truth is, we are hurting and are a mess emotionally.  The point is we go on because it’s God, He made this life not for us to throw it away and be sad all the time, He made it for us to spread joy and peace to others who are going through the tough time.  Jesus said to take care of the widows and orphans.

When it’s still dark we cannot get caught up with fear.  Fear has caused me to go back to some of my old ways and gain 90 plus pounds back.  If you allow fear to rule you, it will ruin you.  Fear is an attitude that says God, I don’t trust you enough to rest in your good and perfect will.  Now a shot of reality, we will always fear something, we will always be made uncomfortable by things that can happen, but the biggest thing we can do is not allow it to stop us on the path.  Fear is the biggest thing that keeps us in that last step of grief, depression.  Fear gives us a choice, we can either be motivated or shrink back into ourselves.

We keep down that path for His names sake, we make fear a motivator, and now we have God’s rod and staff to bring us comfort.  Back in biblical times a shepherd would use a rod and a staff to keep the sheep going.  I believe that with all my heart, because I’ve seen it in my own life several times, that if you are a true believer in Christ He will never let you slip through His fingers.  Now, what does the rod mean and what does the staff mean?  The rod was used to defend the sheep from lions.  God’s rod is keeping the enemy at bay.  He won’t allow us to be overcome by the enemy, He only gives us what we can handle.  The staff on the other hand is God’s sovereign authority in our lives.  The staff was used to hook a sheep that may get off the path the shepherd wants him on.  The pain we experience from going off on our own is of our own making.  We cannot stay in fear because we have God’s protection, and push in the right direction.

We stay on the path of God for His glory, use fear as a motivator, and we always have God’s protection and push in the right direction to keep us moving, not mourning in this life.

Have you ever experienced God hooking and pushing you back on the right path?  Please share. 

© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016

Traversing the Dark Valley of Loss Part 2


“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3a

It’s interesting as I begin writing this blog the thunder came all at once and a nice steady downpour is happening at this very moment.  How fitting to have that background refreshing noise as I focus on the next part of this series, resting in God.  The first point of Psalm 23 is always remember God is our shepherd, He will not allow us to lack anything.  As we traverse the dark valley of loss, to lift us out of this depression we also need to rest in God.  Rest implies inactivity, as we will see in the next part that is not rest.  Resting in God means to know He is in charge, and He will bring good out of this terrible loss you have experienced.  My best friend who I mentioned last week has 10 children; I am focused on the fact that each of the 10 kids has an element of him in them.  With that idea I can never be without him being in my life.  I told his wife that she has 10 reminders of him and she will never be alone.  Good if we look for it can come out of any tragic event in our lives.  It takes trust and using your God eye to identify it.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; this is an interesting part of the passage.  The first thing God does for us is He makes us hit a wall.  There is no choice here, you will hit a wall of grief like you have never known, it’s so true.  With that wall though comes the release you need, it helps you deal with the loss.  Different people react to grief in many ways.  Some need a breakdown of crying.  Some are a little more conservative in their grief.  Some people try not to acknowledge their grief.  The last one can be destructive in the long run, you need to release.  He makes us lie down in green pastures.  The shepherd will make the sheep graze in a pasture to feed off the land.  Grief is a learning process and when we hit that wall we need to feed off that release we experience.  That feed is where God comforts us and shows us the spin of the good.  God will make you lie down in green pastures.

God as our shepherd will next lead us beside quiet waters.  We need food; we get that with grass and feed off the release we get from grief. God will comfort us after the grief with water we need.  We will get this with people who pray for our peace, who do things to help us, who give us strength by being there for us.  We should never take for granted those who want to be there for us when we are dealing with this hurt.  Always show gratitude to everyone who helps you with this pain.  God will quench the thirst of comfort that grief will bring after we feed off the release.

We get fed, we drink, and we get refreshed.  He will refresh your soul.  Remember like God we have been created as a trinity, a body, a spirit, and a soul.  The body of course is you physical being.  The spirit is God’s Holy Spirit that is within you if you are a believer.  The soul is your psyche, your emotions, your mind.  With time the pain will subside.  That’s why David uses this Psalm as a journey.  God is leading us to different areas to get us past the depression.  The thing we need to remember is to accept His comfort instead of doing negative things to our lives.  For me I look for comfort in food.  Over my two years of depression I went from being very picky with what I ate, to loosening up my godly provided ideals to feed the comfort I desired; when all along I could have found my rest in Him.  I now am feeding off my grief, and learning to deal with grief in a more positive manner, writing this blog is a big part of my healing.  God is refreshing my soul as I write this.  Mind you in a perfect world we will deal with grief right away, for some of us it takes time.  I am not condemning my behavior or excusing it.  I am saying that we need to allow God to refresh us and that sometimes that takes time and time is a healer.  Like all things in life, it’s a journey.

God makes us grieve, He quenches our thirst for comfort, and He always refreshes our soul.

© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016

Traversing the Dark Valley of Loss Part 1


“The Lord is my shepherd I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23

The above bible passage means a lot to many people, it is highly used in funerals to bring comfort to the living.  It was also my grandmother’s favorite bible passage. This is not a death passage, it’s all about living life to it’s fullest.  I have found myself in a depression, one in which began two years ago and I am now just getting out of.  It has hit me so hard that I have stopped writing and have stopped running.  These are two of my most positive solitude’s.  I have put off writing this blog for weeks, and am finally doing it.  Loss is probably one of the most difficult trials we can go through.  Some people never recover from it.

I lost one of my best friends 12 years ago and his loss was enough to put me deep into a depression that would take years to get me out of.  I was eating myself to death, and I finally got some much needed positivity entering my life and lost 242 pounds to my surprise.  I found running and writing, and continued on these awesome positive paths, until two years ago when I lost two friends a week apart.  One was an incredible man that was one of my greatest cheerleaders in losing my weight and the father of the awesome friend and nurse that helped me lose the weight.  He was one of the greatest prayer warriors I have ever known and has influenced me to take my prayer life to the next level.  The other friend was a complete inspiration to me while I was losing weight.  She had battled cancer for so long and got it to remission, to get it back in the worst form.  Her husband and she were personal trainers who were out of shape and decided to get fit and began helping people with their fitness.  That fact inspired me to get into the business as well.  The loss that has been so hard was my best friend, who even stood up with me during my wedding, died of pneumonia a couple of months ago.  This shook me to my very foundation.  It also made me realize 90 pounds later that I have an issue and it’s called depression.  I want to speak to the idea of walking through the dark valley that is having loved ones lost, they are gone, and we must keep moving.  We cannot allow depression or survivor’s guilt to destroy the right paths God has for us.

There are five different stages to grief; the first is to deny the reality of the situation.  The second stage is anger for the one who died and left us.  The third stage is bargaining, or the if factor; if we were there, if he did this, if he could have done that.  The fourth is depression and sadness where most people have a hard time getting past.  The last stage is acceptance and is where we need to end up, but sadly a lot have a hard time getting to this point.  I’m going to focus on traversing the pain which is what Psalm 23 is all about, continued living in the face of death.  God cannot take this pain away; just like you cannot turn off the love for the person lost, we have to go through it and deal with it and learn from it.

The first part of this passage is the most comforting thing we can realize and that is the Lord is my shepherd I lack nothing.  The roles of the shepherd are to keep the flock together, keep the flock safe, keep the flock on the right paths, and to keep the flock strong.  The only the role of the flock is to respond to the shepherd.  God keeps us together as long as we are receptive to His deity and His great love for us.  It’s a positive response in knowing that God is there doing great things and planning good for us.  The positive in pain is God turns the pain into prosperity if we get past the dark valley.  Let’s be honest, loss breaks us apart and leaves us an emotional mess, but it’s understandable, it’s the cycle of life.  Staying there is the problem, and God if we allow Him, can turn the tables on our grief and get us to the last step of acceptance.

The next thing God does as our shepherd is He keeps us from harm.  Pain seems to be at the onset harm, but it’s not, it’s a learning experience, it’s how we learn to respond to the negatives that will pop up during our lifetime.  God never promised a rose garden and sunny skies all the time.  He said we would have trials and tribulations in this life.  I have older clients that I deal with during the week, they are learning that to keep the digression of muscle loss they have to keep moving and experience the pain that exercise can bring.  The pain they experience the next day or so are little minute muscle tears that heal up and make stronger muscles.  It’s the same thing with emotional pain, we get stronger if we continue in God’s word and trust Him.  The shepherd is going to lead us to the right path that doesn’t cause harm, it may be painful, but we grow.

This leads to the next point and that is to keep into God’s word, do not disconnect from God with your pain.  Stay on His path He has set for you.  If you have a dream, keep on that dream, don’t let this stop you.  Sure, you have to take time to morn, which is so important to cry and grieve over someone you loved.  Don’t just grieve and leave God out of the experience.  Stay on the path, God is guiding us through.

If we allow God to keep us together, keep us from harm because we continue on His path, we will become stronger.  Part of overcoming barriers is to learn from them and to become stronger as we go through them.  I’m not saying if we allow God to do His work in our life that we will not experience the pain of loss, I’m saying we will be stronger as we go through the next one.  As we live longer we will experience loss more and more.  Like I said it’s the cycle of life, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop living.

If we allow God to be the great shepherd and keep us together, keep us safe from harm, keep us on the right path, and make us stronger because of it, we will lack nothing.

Is there someone you recently lost that you would like to mention in the comments below, I would love to hear about how great they were and still are?

© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016

Leaps of Faith vs Steps of Faith

DSC_5217 (1)

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” 34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.  Matthew 14:22-36

I’m at a crossroads not a chasm; there are obstacles in the road, no cliffs to leap.  If there is a cliff or a chasm in the road to my future then a bridge needs to be built.  In talking to a godly friend and searching the Bible, I have come to the conclusion that the term “leap of faith” is really impetuousness in disguise.  The best example I can come up with for a leap of faith is the above verses.  This all began with a tweet I shared with a close friend and she gave me her take on it which is much more biblical than the idea I was trying to convey in my positive tweet.  Here is my tweet:  “The path of God begins with small steps and ends with big leaps of faith.  Prayer, patience, timing, and boldness go with those leaps.”  The term “leap of faith” came into being by the Danish philosopher Soren Kieerkegaard.  Not to diminish his work in any way, I don’t completely agree with the term “leap of faith” anymore.  Kieerkegaard’s ideas stem from a religious perspective that can be clouded by human judgement.  I agree that there are leaps of faith and the biblical example above is the best one I can find.  I want to break down this set of verses to show that a leap of faith is not really a good path to take to get to the other side or what turn you need to make in a decision.

Let me start by saying my crossroads is make a major decision of letting go a part time job in order to go full time into my personal training business.  I feel I am limited in doing both and that to be effective in one, I need to let go of one.  My purpose is to help people with their fitness and nutrition that have them sick and in a bad condition.  It’s a no brainer to which job has to go, but when to let go is what the decision is.  Peter is at a crossroads in the above verses, should he get out of the boat or not?  Instead of a leap of faith, we should be calling these steps of faith.  Steps of faith as my tweet above says begins with prayer.  Peter asked Jesus if it was Him; tell him to come out of the boat.  Jesus told him to come.  That is not unlike our prayer today, Lord is this you, is this what you want me to do.  When we have a clear yes, then we need to make a step and not a leap.  Peter without thinking, got out of the boat and headed toward Jesus.  Good job Peter, it looks like you are on the right path and you are doing great.  The first step of faith is prayer, Peter had that right.

The next step of faith is patience.  Peter without thinking got out of the boat, guess what, when he saw the wind on the water, he began to sink.  Not a quality leap by any means, he did not take time to think out what he was doing, he just did it.  When God has a calling in your life I am not saying sit and wait and see what drops, you do have to take action, but guarded action.  You have to have patient steps or you will see the wind and the water, then you will be falling and failing.  That brings us to our next step.

Pace, we have to keep pace with God.  Steps of faith should be paced with God, leaps are the fast track to a watery grave.  When God gives us a green light it’s not always going to happen right away.  Hope is a good example of that; we have the hope of the future.  A leap is hopeless and carelessness in action.  Keeping pace with God might mean building a bridge to get to the other side.  It takes time.  Life is a marathon and if you want to finish the race you have to go your pace, not those in front of you.

The last step of faith is poise.  There is a point in the walking in faith process where we need to have courage and confidence.  Poise is knowing who you are in Christ, and in knowing this, having courage and confidence in your decision.  This only comes with prayer, patience, and pacing.  Peter saw wind, water, and waves and lost his focus on Jesus.  A leap is our own effort to quickly get to where God wants us, which is wrong.  There is joy in the journey always.

Faith steps begin with prayer, patience, pacing, and poise.  Leaps are skipping the steps and making a rash decision that may be based on what God wants you to do, but shows you later when you fail that you should have prayed, been patient, kept the pace, and poise to finish strongly.

Are you at a crossroads, and have you leaped before looking and not built a bridge?

© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016

Self-control In an Out-of-Control World


I just finished eating my breakfast and reading my daily devotionals with my coffee and am once again reminded of the all-important self-control that we all should have in our lives.  The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Galatians in Galatians 5:22:

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Whether you believe in God or not the wisdom in these words is apparent.  Self-control has everything to do with that list of godly attributes.  At the start of a New Year we all have this tendency to make goals and resolutions with changes in mind for our lives.  This year the top 10 New Year’s resolutions and goals are (From

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with the family

What we need to understand in gaining self-control is it is never taught, caught, or given, but is a choice.  It’s a choice to be made every day and is the key to working out all 10 of the above goals you may have as well as those godly attributes.  Praying for self-control is great, but until you come to terms with your own choices that you make, self-control will be elusive.  I have some thoughts as to what can help us keep self-control in an out of control world.

One of the first tough things we have to face is change.  No one likes change, they hate it, that’s why they wait till the end of the year and say next year is going to be different so I will make these goals and resolutions.  We allow excuse to demotivate the change we need to have in our lives to enrich it.  Changing your choices is the most important thing you can do to have self-control.

The next idea is to have convictions.  Convictions are another way to have self-control, drawing lines in the sand and say I will not cross over this line no matter what happens.  It’s a positive way to be stubborn.  I love people who have convictions because they are easy to respect.  Reading God’s word every day is a sure fire way to get convictions in your life.

A final idea we should have for self-control is contentment.  We should be content with who we are, where we are, and what we want to become.  Contentment is not staying the same, but allowing that change to happen for the better.  It’s being comfortable in your choices.  Unhappiness is the opposite of contentment and is a big danger to not attaining self-control.  Unhappiness motives us in the most negative ways, we are not happy with who we are, where we are, where we are going.  We look at other people’s lives and wish we had them, when in reality those people still have the same issues we have.  Unhappiness makes unhealthy choices.  Contentment makes wise and awesome choices for the life you truly desire.

Having self-control in an out of control world is not easy and takes time to develop with the correct choices we make.  We will succeed in goals and resolutions when we live by allowing change to take place, living by healthy convictions, and being content with those great choices we make.  Don’t let the same old same old rule your life, or unhappiness to force unhealthy choices in the way you live.  What are some new choices you need to make to get you to self-control?