Abundant Life Blog

 

Give the Gift of Presence

During the Christmas holidays, we will use many words that start with the letter “P” as we decorate trees, wrap presents, plan our parties, pack items for shipping, ask the kids for a little peace and quiet, count the people on our guest lists, and set the table with placemats, poinsettias, and pine combs. As we prepare to eat, we will pray in public and in private covering all who are present at our place as well as those afar. We will thank God for His promise to keep us and bless us as we prepare for another year while secretly having one eye on Mom’s pumpkin pie. Oh yes, the moment the last guest is gone and the wrapping paper is thrown away, we think back on the day with pleasant memories and dream of a pillow on which to lay ourselves down to sleep. The perfect way to end a perfect day.

Saints let us remember that there are many other “P” words that come up on Christmas day for those that are less fortunate. There are many in pain from the loss of loved ones at this time of year. There are others living in poverty and the streets are their place called home. Yet still others, children I say, with parents in prison and no one to protect them from the pushers, pimps, and pros determined to cheat them of their potential. Let us rise and intentionally plan to be present in the lives of those around us. In all of your giving this season, give the gift of presence. Be prominent in the life of someone suffering in plain view.

Touch the people around you. Be the presence of Christ, praying for those you pass by, those you see in the store, people at the gas pump but most especially for those you see sleeping in doorways, bus stops, and the back of buildings. Be a representative of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Pray without ceasing and help manifest the possible. If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me (John 12:32). As Pastor Derry says, “Don’t neglect what is in your hands.”

You are blessed to be a blessing and in this holiday season the biggest and the best “P” is giving is the gift of presence. Be present in every moment having eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand (Matthew 13:15-17). Merry Christmas!
 
Contributor: Tara Lynn Gray


Thanksgiving: More Than a Holiday, A State of Being

As we prepare for the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, marked by Thanksgiving, I want to take a moment to reflect on what the Bible says about it. As the title of this piece indicates, thanksgiving is far more than a holiday, it is a state of being. Not only does it reflect what we are thinking and feeling in any given moment, it is the precursor to peace according to Philippians 4:6-7 where the Lord tells us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We all want peace: peace in our homes, peace on our jobs, peace in the hearts of our children and peace for those troubled souls that don’t yet know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How we go about obtaining peace and the rest that is a natural outcropping of peace is to begin every day with a prayer of thanksgiving. In Matthew 6:25 we are told not to worry about our life, food, clothing or time, but to instead seek the kingdom of God above all else and that our Father in heaven knows what we need and intends to give it to us when we diligently seek Him. God confirms that word in 1 Peter 5:7 where He speaks of His love for us and instructs us to cast all of our cares on Him. He warns against letting anything trouble our hearts in John 14:1. He insists that we trust in Him to avoid the sin of worry. If we worry then we signal to God that we don’t fully trust Him or the work of the Cross. Brothers and sisters, abide in Him so He can abide in you and give you peace that will strengthen you, the peace that will guard you and the peace that makes way for Holy Spirit to guide you and fill you with love and joy that overflows. May your prayer and meditation on Thanksgiving transform you and steer you far from the earthly concerns of man and into the Spirit of life and peace in this holiday season and every day that follows (Romans 8:6). Bless God and bless you!
 
Contributor: Tara Lynn Gray


Your Seeds

We live in communities where we being taught that the concept of God is antiquated, that there are no moral standards, and that there is no need to teach our children to pray and no space for that type of activity in our schools. We being sold the flawed ideology that no one has the right to judge, that we can do what we please, that we can have freedom without accountability or responsibility. That is, until someone violates us, at which point we demand their accountability and that they take responsibility.

We are being influenced to believe that we are free to be irresponsible as long as we don’t hurt anyone else.  We are being bombarded everyday with entertainment that appeals to our lowest common denominators.  We celebrate deception, survival at the cost of others, we applaud lawlessness, we gather to view ignorance and senseless violence.  But it’s not hurting anyone, right?

Over the past several years, our eyes have been opened to deeply troubling issues, and most recently our hearts have been revealed in the range of emotion or lack thereof regarding unexplainably vile actions of a handful of individuals. But in the middle of all of the unfolding horror and drama, is a very inconvenient and uncomfortable set of truths that we must all deal with at some point.  In our current situation fear and ignorance are multiplying at exponential rates and the magnification of the internal biases that we all hold are being exposed. The temptation for all of us is to blame someone else for our current condition, but that is just our escape back into our failures to take responsibility for our abuse of our freedoms. The reality is that we only harvest what has been sown, but we are one society and culture, and we all live within each other’s harvests.

Like it or not, we have raised a generation of people that have had tens of thousands of hours playing first person shooter games (Halo, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, etc.).  Some of them we sent them to war, some of them then we hired as police officers.  Yet all of them have been impacted in some way by the thousands of hours of training in high speed chases, killing, being killed, hitting the resent button, and starting over.  For some of those that have become police officers, it is now being manifested in a trivialization of human life and the resulting tendency to act swiftly with no remorse in any environment where they sense a loss of control.  The behaviors of a few have now tainted how the many are now perceived.

But it is most certainly not just the police officers.  Like it or not, we have raised communities of people that have no respect for authority, and believe they have the right to rebel, the right to refuse discipline, the right to their freedom, even when their freedom leads them to create unsafe situations for others.  We believe that it is our right to gentrify neighborhoods and displace those that can no longer afford to live there and never be concerned with where they are going, all because it is the most profitable thing to do.  We believe that it is our right to act like victims until we gain power and then set out to fiercely destroy all who have opposed us.  Our society has grown to hate those things which represent success in others if it reveals our own shortcomings.  

In reading the two paragraphs above, did you read them in with race in mind?  Did you default to creating a profile based on what you read?  In all of these issues; color, race, culture, ethnicity, make no difference at all. Race is a problem, but not the real problem.  We have a heart problem.  We have a problem with our spiritual condition which is being revealed as we watch our society unravel.

Our society is eating the fruit of the seeds that have been sown into us; and lets all admit to the reality, that it all feels good until tragedy strikes. Our individual actions of today are being driven by our own self-centeredness and are deeply carving the problems of tomorrow, just as our current problems have been etched through the irresponsibility of yesterday.  The problem is that we are products of that which is in our hearts and minds in abundance.  Whether we like it or not, those things that we mediate on or those things with which we are occupied shape us and change us.  But the changes are subtle and often unnoticed until they create an impact.  Everything produces more of what it is and our society has become the breeding ground for ignorance, stereotypes, selfishness, greed, injustice, and fear. 

Are we really surprised?  Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul warned his young protégé Timothy about the same thing.

2 Timothy 3: 1-5.  But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear].For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.  From theAmplified Version

Every great culture that has attempted to eliminate God from their consciousness follows the same pattern of internal destruction, and every great culture that attempts to use religion as a means to oppress people rather than free people, follows the same pattern as well. All the great cultures before us either learned or denied the simple solution.  Most of the time people choose to listen to those that will tell them what they want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, and will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions [and will accept the unacceptable].  From theAmplified Version

We are experiencing the outcomes of embracing humanism, and false religion that has been tainted with our human biases. The truth is that it is time for a mindset change on every level. 

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

It all begins with facing our mindset and the truth about ourselves.  I have to be willing to take my responsibility in this whole picture and deal with my stuff. I am flawed, I have biases, I am less than perfect, and I need help from my creator to be complete. My willingness to confess and be changed puts me in position for the next step and it will not be until we are willing to be changed that we can expect our society to be changed.  

Are you willing? 

If you are, then connect with us and together we will begin the journey of restoring the dignity that all people should enjoy.  We are committed to raising up and empowering 10,000 people that are willing to address these inconvenient realities and transform our world into an environment where the types of injustices that we see are only history.  We invite you to join us.  
 
What seeds will you sow towards the future of your life, your family, and your community?