Friday, May 13, 2011

When you Live in The Comfort Zone

For some people, the superstition of Friday the 13th being a day of bad luck and probable trouble, is a very serious matter. Believing that their day is doomed to be full of mishaps, fated tragedies and all around bad luck, creates a mindset that today is the day to call in sick. It might be best to stay home, hunker down with a good book or a stack of movies, except of course the one called, you guessed it, Friday the 13th


The superstition is called Friggatriskaidekaphobia. Try to say that fast 10 times. But wait a second, if you do, you just might end up at the emergency room with an oral surgeon trying to untie your unlucky tongue. It might just be easier to say, I have Fear of Friday the 13th. It has been called the most prevalent superstition that people experience. In fact, on Friday the 13th, many people won’t eat out, will not fly, and avoid anything that may put them at risk of stepping out of their safe Comfort Zone.

In reality, many people all over the world are being pushed to the panicky edge of their own personal Comfort Zone. With the downsizing of many companies all over the world, most employees are having to wear 3 or 4 hats just to keep their jobs. The press of forced change that is imposed upon all of us today due to circumstances outside of our control, creates incredible anxiety, and threatens to take away our peace in the Quiet Place.
The Quiet Place is not a realm where we are free from life's trials, or do not experience trouble. It is only as our hearts and minds are at peace with God, that we can step out of our Comfort Zone because the Quiet Place is not a location or a protective force is the ability to travel trough the storm of trouble, yet maintain peace and comfort within because God is within us. He is our Quiet Place.

The real risk of stepping outside of our Comfort Zone

The idea of taking a step outside of this place of perceived safety brings on the highest potential of failure,increases the risk of making a fool out of oneself, and thereby being potentially rejected by others. The fear of dropping the ball, and letting people down, and ultimately enhancing their LPR (Loser Potentiality Ratio), is terrifying.
For some people, the thought of taking a risk to attempt something outside of one’s Comfort Zone, without a stiff drink, smoking a bowl of green bud, or taking Ativan, Xanax, Valium, or any host of pharmaceuticals, legal and illegal, is impossible to consider. This is life for them, and it is real and scary.

The only true Hiding Place is found in God

A person cannot hide from life because they may fear hurt, failure or loss. Only God provides a Hiding Place so safe, that nothing can come to you that doesn't first pass through Him.The key is in being vulnerable enough to trust Him with the risk that life hurts, and suffering is real. It is a trusting assurance that should a storm come your way, He will be there strengthening you and comforting you through it all.

The Burdens of Life Can be Overwhelming

Life is filled with risks every day. It doesn't make a person a better or stronger leader because they take risks. It is the leader who knows which risks to take, and which to avoid, that exemplifies good leadership skills. I have made enough mistakes in my lifetime to know that.

God is the God of all Comfort (I Corinthians 1:3-50). When you find yourself flat on your face and you don't know which way to turn, try looking up. His comfort Zone flows out of His all sufficient grace, lavished upon us through His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord of Peace. He is the Prince of Peace because He paid the Price of Peace (II Corinthians 5:17-21).
When Life becomes a daily Friday the 13th

Let’s face it, today most people are afraid of the loss of their ability to hold onto their personal financial security. 
Just like taking a table cloth and giving it a good snap to unfurl it, the ripple of significant economic destabilization of international markets, have had a large scale impact across the financial infrastructure of world economics that has affected every one of us.

Employment Downsizing and Work-life issues

The security of one’s job used to be something that gave a person a sense of personal security. Not many people today can say with certainty, ”My job is secure. They need me too much to lay me off much less fire me.” The term ‘Downsizing’ is now a common phrase from Seattle to Cape Town, from Rome to Athens, or from Manila to London.

Loss of Control and Facing the unknown 

Do we really have control over anything? Not really. Something can happen to anyone, at anytime, in anyplace and one might have no power to prevent it from happening. On the morning of March 11, 2011, the people living in the city of Kesennuma, Japan could do nothing as the horrific tragedy of an earthquake and tsunami devastated their city and hundreds of miles of surrounding communities. The world watched in horror as scenes of devastation spread across the internet and international media causing a firestorm of visual shock and grief. In reality we all face the unknown every day of our lives. 

We all need a Comfort Zone, but one that liberates us rather than imprisons us. Life begins at the end of your Comfort Zone, and that only can take place when God becomes the God of all Comfort to you.

“You are my Hiding Place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:6

Only Jesus Christ Can be our true Comfort Zone

When your days are filled with worry and stress, remember that Jesus Christ has much bigger shoulders than you do, and they carried an old rugged cross all the way to the very heart of God.

The peace of God is found in Jesus Christ alone

"I am the way, the truth and the life; no man can come to the Father except by me." John 14:6 
The troubles of life will fill you with anxiety

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me."  John 14:1

 The peace of God cannot be counterfeited

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Life outside the Comfort Zone will always be tough

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 

If today is a day where your anxiety and stress are high and your heart is heavy, take time to meet with God in the Quiet Place and lay the burden of life at His feet.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

When Mom is Standing Near

Sometimes I find my heart still grieves since Mother passed away. I find it's when life takes me back to times where she would say, "No matter what have to face,or if troubles come this day, there is the man you are inside that will always find a way."

It isn't just the sound of rain upon my windowsill, or wind  that whispers through the trees and calls me to be still. It isn't heaven so vivid blue or clouds that paint the sky; the presence of her standing near, reminds me yet to try.

She gave me inspiration and she filled my mind with words,
And ever since I was a child, her voice I understood.
When times were tough, I'd want to quit, she wouldn’t hear of that, She'd dust my shoulders, tousle my hair, and pat me on the back.

A thousand ways she gave to me what no one else could give,
I wonder now that she is gone," Mom why did you not live? "
I miss the sparkle in her eyes, the smile upon her face;
and on those lonely, empty nights, your memory I do trace.

"You gave me love and pride and hope, you made me understand, that even if you were not here, you'd always hold my hand. To others I do seem so sure, so confident, and poised. But when I'm in the midnight hour, I'm just your little boy."

I stand upon the precipice of now, what time will be,
and look at all that I must face, the challenge just for me.
I will not fail, I won't give up, I ever more will stand,
and be the man she made of me, to walk upon this land.

"So mother, I am thankful, that you helped this man today,
a man that will embrace his dreams and conquer come what may. So blow upon the window rain, wind whisper midst the trees, I know that it will be alright, for Mom was here with me."

Thinking of you on Mother's Day Mom

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Where is this place called Dignity

I wrote this poem as an open and honest testimony for someone who has struggled with a lifetime of severe depression and mental illness. The poem chronicles the difficult journey that he had lived through for many years.

Slowly God has been restoring and healing my friend....

Where is this Place Called Dignity?
Where is this place called dignity?
There was a time I thought I knew.
It was confidence, a quiet certainty, 

and a sense of pride, yet now it eludes me so.

One strives to gain 

a sense of self,
to be that person 

I was meant to be.
A churning chasm of driven success;
yet illusive sadness engulfed me like a cloud.

Where is this place called dignity?
To once win the praise of others, 

and feel their respect,
Now there is a painful awkward silence,
a shallow Humpty, Dumpty, 

who is already falling...

Now I live with a constant fearful despair.
I have lost all pride and status, and am… alone.
My former life is but a vague aching memory.
I am living with the stigma of Mental Illness.

In the hospital, some knew... 
and understood this tortuous detour.
Here I am with fellow pilgrims 
who travel this lonely desolate trail,
for we wear the lonely darkened 

shroud of depression....
We are those who feel... 

the hurt of being treated as... 
not normal. 

Where is this place called dignity?
Am I now a social leper...

One who is shunned because of this 
heavy cloak that I cannot fling away 
into bright sunrise?

To quit at life is to dim the spark
of courage...
I will not give up. 

I must never yield to this death.
"Please Lord fan the embers...

of my feeble faith;
create in me a flame of hope

beneath the shadow
of the Cross"

Where is this place called dignity? 
It resides within my heart 
and it whispers, “I am Here”
It is the undying spark 

that defines me.
It is my tenacious courage 

that hangs onto  


Where is this place called dignity?
It lives within me as I weep with tears 

like winter rain.
It is within me despite 

the mood altering drugs
that I cannot seem 

to focus without....
how can I embrace my lost self?

But then Jesus has found me...


With shuffling steps,
I walk this pathway...
I choose to live... and not to die.
I know that I am but a shadow 
of my former self...
or was my former self but a shadow 

of who I really am?

This is my metamorphosis... 

I am now warm clay upon the Potter’s wheel;
I am privileged to reveal His life

through my life.
I am the vessel 

and He is the life within me that shines.

I will travel this pathway to continue my healing;
I will climb my own Inner Everest 
with Jesus as my guide.
For only He can lead me to
The High Places...

I am free...

“Though the fig tree should not blossom
         And there be no fruit on the vines,
         Though the yield of the olive should fail
         And the fields produce no food,
         Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
         And there be no cattle in the stalls,
    Yet I will exult in the LORD,
         I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
    The Lord GOD is my strength,
         And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
         And makes me walk on my High Places.” 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Never give up hope on someone who is struggling with Mental Health issues.  There is hope...and with God's healing love...there is liberating freedom...

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Learning to Let Go of the Past

Whenever we are faced with the challenge of living through a difficult tragedy or loss,  it takes everything we have to just face tomorrow. To somehow see how life can work now that our plans are shattered, or a relationship has ended makes starting over seem life an overwhelming impossibility.

We cannot live in the shadow of past regrets, but we can find ways to live in today's new beginning. Starting anything over is no easy task. Like the game of  Jenga, when the blocks of our plans come tumbling down, we have to stay in the game, pick up the pieces and begin again.It is never easy to start over. To have the courage and confidence to create a new beginning can feel overwhelming.

Life is not a Game

Playing a game with our family or friends is one thing, but life as we all know, is not a game. Sometimes, things happen that we have no control over yet we have to live with the impact of the consequences nonetheless.

Time Travelers know the meaning of finding it difficult to not revisit the past and go over strategies and contingency plans over and over to try to make some sense over what went wrong. Like the game of Jenga, every piece of our actions create a foundation for the choices yet to be made. If a certain foundational piece is unstable, whatever we do next can cause everything we call important to us, to come tumbling down.

We need to find a way to let  go of the Past

It just doesn't seem fair to have been hurt by someone, to lose a cherished family member, or find that recent financial problems have led to seeing one's home foreclosed upon. Every piece of our life is connected to another piece of our life. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not here yet, so find a way to live for today.

It is no easy thing to pretend it just doesn't matter to have lost everything that was important or meaningful in your life.To wake up each morning and put on the happy face, the serious face or it really doesn't matter face, only works for a little while. All too soon you find yourself time traveling back to the past, lost in a sea of regret, or caught up in the worries of tomorrow, in a tornado of anxiety, that just leaves you overwhelmed once again.

That is why it can be so difficult to move on when you cannot see how the next piece can fit into place without the other unknown pieces. We all know that life is more than a bunch of puzzle pieces, but how do you begin again?

Only a life with Jesus Christ can give us the wondrous balance to live in the present, while being painfully overwhelmed and grieved with a tragic event in the past and filled with anxious uncertainties about the future. How is that possible? 

 Every one of us will travel on the Road to Emmaus

One day two disciples of Jesus Christ were walking along the Road to the city of Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem. Their hearts were overwhelmed with events that had taken place just a few days before. Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, had been crucified, and was dead and buried in a tomb in Jerusalem. With that tragedy, so were their hopes and dreams. Time had literally stopped for these time travelers.

“Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.” Luke 24:13-14

They desperately needed some way  to make sense of what had happened.

The Lord Jesus drew near and walked with them

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Luke 24:15-18

The  Lord encouraged them to verbalize the reason for their heavy hearts

Jesus Christ stepped into real time as it was happening in the present, and met with two confused, hurting disciples. Sometimes we fail to remember that God reaches out to us at the point of our deepest felt need.

Even though He already knew, He wanted to have them express their own perspective on what was specifically troubling them. “What things?”  Luke 24:19a

 The Lord allowed them to share what was heaviest on their hearts

We can so easily cut people off and give eloquent advice, applicable verses from the Bible and even offer to pray for hurting people, but we far too seldom are patient enough to allow them to share the depth of their heartbreak or the impact of their shattered dreams upon their lives. What a confusing time it must have been to so many people when Jesus Christ, the expected Redeemer, the Lord of Salvation, was crucified.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.
 The Lord understands what it is like to lose Hope
"And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” Luke 24:19b-24

The Lord brought truth from the Scriptures to reach their troubled hearts

We can encourage people with poems and songs, gifts and hugs, but people only truly change when God’s Word enters their troubled hearts and minds.
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

The Lord never pushes Himself upon us but wants us to invite Him near

“As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Luke 24:28-31  
The Lord ignited their troubled hearts and it changed their lives

 When people are open with God and allow His Word to impact them they will never be the same. The Lord is present with us and He will reveal truth to our troubled minds and catch our hearts on fire with new hope if we will allow Him to be the Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He alone holds time in His hands.

“They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24: 32

Those of us who tend to be time travelers need to lock into the now of their lives. They struggle most for the discipline of being present and accounted for. These disciples stopped in their tracks, stepped out of the past, forgot about the future and grasped the critical reality that was theirs in the present. Divine responsibility replaced meaningless time traveling.

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” Luke 24:35 

What can we learn from this amazing account?

When you are overwhelmed, and drifting through the past, or anxious and dreading the unknown fears of the future, always remember that there really is no problem in your life that God cannot help you find the answers that you need to do what is right and good.

  • When your heart is heavy, remember that Jesus is near
  • He will walk you through how to sort out of your concerns
  • He wants you to be honest and open about your fears
  • Be open to hear what the Scriptures say about your troubles
  • Invite The Lord to draw near as you sort out what to do
  • Ask Him to set your heart on fire, not just fix your problem
  • Determine to follow through and apply what He has revealed to you
Thoughts to Ponder:

Why is it so hard to release to God what has caused so much pain in our lives?

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34