I truly believe, with every fiber of my being, that the most important factor in life IS NOT what happens to us, but rather it is HOW WE RESPOND to what happens to us! And for the most part, how we respond to what happens to us is habitual. In other words, when something happens, we don’t think about how to respond, we just automatically respond the way we’ve always responded to similar occurrences.
These learned habitual responses are formed during our childhood and if they are not modified or adjusted, they will continue throughout our adulthood. This is what I believe is the problem in many situations in our country today!
A child is naturally selfish, self-centered, and insists on having its own way. When that is denied, the child responds with a temper tantrum, which involves aggressive behaviors. As part of the child’s social development, a good parent teaches the child how to share, how to respect the property of others, how to accept disappointment, how to accept ’No’ for an answer. All of this is part of the child’s maturing process.
I believe what we are witnessing in our culture today are the actions, responses, attitudes of people who have reached the age of maturity, but have yet to mature! At the same time, we are also witnessing the actions of children who have been allowed access to ‘grown-up toys’ too soon!
The Apostle Paul said: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NET) But it’s hard to put away childish ways when they have been allowed to grow uninhibited to the point where they have been habitually ingrained into the subconscious.
The answer? Be conscious! Nearly 95% of what we do every day is done as a subconscious habit! In other words, we live most of our life on autopilot! For instance, if I were to ask you: “What shoe did you put on first this morning?” More than likely, you couldn’t tell me! But I can tell you that it was the same one you put on first every morning!
So, here’s your homework. Tomorrow morning BEFORE you put on your shoes STOP! Take note of which one you reach for, and then put on the other one first! Try this every day for at least 21 days! It will be hard at first, but if you are consistent and don’t cheat, by the end of the 21 days, you will be putting on the opposite shoe with the same ease as you were putting on the other shoe!
Now, after you’ve mastered that, stop and think about the non-productive or negative responses to situations you always find yourself engaging in. Then, the next time a ‘trigger’ situation occurs, BEFORE, you respond STOP AND THINK: Is my response appropriate or proportional to the situation? Am I trying to kill a roach with a hammer?
You see, you respond that way because you have always (habitually) responded that way! It just might be that your response is inappropriate and non-productive. If that is the case, then you need to change your response!
Don’t settle for the false belief that that’s just the way you are and you can’t change because you can! You can change any response the same way you can change what shoe you put on first every morning!
Change your thinking; change your habits! Change your habits; change your responses! Change your responses; change your life!
Remember, it’s not the problem that’s the problem! It’s how you respond to the problem, that’s the problem! And often times, if you would just stop and think instead of just automatically responding the way you’ve always responded, you just might discover that the problem is not a problem at all!
Here’s a thought: Today marks my 62nd birthday! As I reflect, I can remember when I was a child, thinking people who were 50 were old! I definitely don’t think that anymore!
But as I reflect on this moment in my life, I understand and accept the reality that I do not have as long as I have had! I know I do not have 62 more years on this earth! I know, in the best case scenario, within 15 to 20 more years, I will cash in my chips!
I am not saying this to be morbid, pessimistic, or anything of that sort. I am thankful for the time I have had! I am thankful for spending all of these years in good health! Nevertheless, I know that my day is headed toward the sunset and the night!
Therefore, I will endeavor to be even more careful with my time and more selective with my activities. I’m striving even more than I have in the past, to make every moment count! So please excuse me if I no longer indulge in idle, fruitless, or negative activities. I am past putting a premium on ‘having fun,’ I am striving to have and leave a positive impact on the lives of others!
They tell me that during World War II, all throughout Europe, was found, scribbled in many places, the phrase: “Kilroy was here!” It is my desire, that after I am gone, my epitaph will not be restricted to being etched in stone in some cemetery somewhere, but that it will also be written in the hearts of all those who knew or even heard of me, letting the world know: “Harold Miller, Jr., was here!”
Has anybody ever told you how awesome you are? Well, if they haven’t, let me tell you, you are AWESOME with a capital A!
Now you might wonder why would I make such an assessment when I don’t even know you? Well, you are part of the human community and according to the Bible, you bear the image of God! What does that mean? It means that in spite of your flaws, imperfections, and insecurities, you are designed for God to manifest His life and love through you!
God created this whole world, just for you! When things went haywire, God sent His Son into the world, and that Son died a cruel death to get you back! And then God raised that Son from the dead as a stamp of approval of what the Son did and as a guarantee that if you trust Him with your life, even after you die, one day you will be resurrected as well!
I know, it sounds incredible, especially when you look at the mess this world is in today! But this world is in such a mess because there is an enemy that has blinded the minds of so many people to the truth I just shared with you! But I’m telling you right now: If you think it’s hopeless; that’s a lie! If you think your life doesn’t matter; that’s a lie! If you think life is not worth living; that’s a lie!
Be encouraged my friend! You are valued, you are loved, and you matter! No matter where you are in your life right now, the God of Heaven and Earth wants to lift you to a higher plane! He wants you to live in and enjoy the benefits of His Kingdom, not just after you die, but also right now and right here!
Want to know more? Find a Bible version you can easily understand and read Psalm 8. You will find out that you are royalty!
I didn’t mean for this post to be this long, but I just wanted to encourage you! Hold your head up! Be encouraged! No matter what’s going on, you are loved! You are valued! You matter! And you can make it! YOU ARE AWESOME!
How many times have you heard your pastor, some preacher, your favorite evangelist, or heard a song say: “The Bible says: ‘God won’t put no more on you/us than you/we are able to bear!” How did you feel when you heard that? Well, you should have felt like something’s not quite right! Why? Because the Bible DOESN’T SAY THAT, and GOD DOESN’T OPERATE LIKE THAT!
Even before discussing what the Bible actually says, let’s consider the implications of that widely believed, yet false premise. What kind of God would ‘put something on you,’ and then offer to relieve your burdens, only after you pray for relief? That’s a sick and sadistic god! Definitely NOT THE GOD revealed in the Bible! If you actually believed in a god like that, you would have some sort of resentment, even if it was only subconscious! One of the reasons the world rejects our faith is because so many of us who profess faith misrepresent faith by making statements that sound good but make no sound theological sense, such as the statement of this discussion!
Now, here’s what the Bible actually says: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV.
Now, let’s break the verse down: The Greek word for ‘temptation’ in the verse is a word defined as; ‘a test, an enticement to do evil, adversity, or affliction.’ The phrase: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man,” means whatever you are going through IS NOT a unique situation! You’re not the only one, others have and are going through what you are going through! What you think is unique to you is actually quite common to everybody!
God is faithful and God will not suffer (allow) you to be tempted/tried/afflicted/burdened above/beyond what you are able, but with whatever you’re going through, God will provide a way for you to escape so that you may be able to bear/handle it.
Now notice, Paul did not say the temptation/trial/affliction came from God! James said in James 1:13: “Let no man say when he is tempted (same Greek word Paul used in our verse), ‘I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempted he any man.” Wow! James actually said, we are not to say what we’ve been saying because God doesn’t roll (operate) like that!
The gist of the matter is this: Whatever trials, afflictions, burdens or adversities we face; GOD DIDN’T PUT THEM ON US! And James tells us not to say that! But the GOOD NEWS is that God is faithful, in that God will not allow whatever we’re going through to be more than we are able to bear! Paul said, God will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape. In other words, the answer is in the question, within whatever you’re going through is your relief, and there is a blessing within your burden!
When we say, “God won’t put no more on us than we are able to bear,” we misrepresent the character and nature of God. God is not the source of our burdens, sin is! We live in a sin-cursed and fallen world. But when we encounter the various burdens and afflictions that everyone encounters and goes through, we (believers) can rely upon a faithful God who will not allow whatever we’re going through to be more than we are able to handle! The real message is this: If God allowed you to come it, (or it to come to you), God will help you through it! Whatever your burdens may be, what the enemy has designed for your defeat, God wants to use for your good! Don’t curse the darkness, just light a candle because we serve a God who is able to turn our stumbling-blocks into stepping-stones!
The story is told of some young foolish boys who were always trying to fool a wise old man who lived in their village. It had become somewhat of an obsession with the young boys, because every time they went to the old man with what they thought was an enigma, the old man would come up with an answer!
So one day, one of the little boys came up with what he thought was the perfect plan to stump the old man! He told his friends that he would go to the old man with a live bird within his closed fists and ask the old man if the bird was alive or dead. If the old man said the bird was alive, he would close his fists tighter and kill the bird! If the old man said the bird was dead, he would open his fists and the bird would fly away!
Completely satisfied that the plan would work, the boys took off to go see the old man, almost unable to contain their excitement at the thought of finally fooling the wise old man. When they arrived at the wise old man’s house, they eagerly presented him with their fool-proof riddle. They said: “Old man, Johnny has a bird in his hands! Tell us, is it alive or dead?” The old man sat silent for a moment, intently looking at their mischievous little faces. Then, the old man simply said, “The answer is in your hands!”
Well, that’s the way life is! Although many think it is in the hands of the governments, family, friends, circumstances, or situations, the ultimate success or failure in your life is in your hands! You can live life with open hands to give and receive, or you can live life with closed fists, attempting to hold on to what you have, not realizing that while a closed-fist secures what you have, it also prevents you from receiving more!
But not only is it in your hands, it is also in your head! Much of life is not ‘what it is,’ it is ‘what you think it is!’ The Bible says: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he!” The poet, Walter D. Wintle wrote:
If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t;
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the word we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will,
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you’re outcasted, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.
Several years ago, I read Zig Ziglar’s book: See You At The Top, Ziglar wrote: “How you think determines what you become. . . The mind is a dutiful servant and will follow the instructions we give it. . . I am convinced your business is never either good or bad – out there. Your business is either good of bad between your ears. . . . You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind. . . Realistically, most locked doors are in your mind.” In his famed work: Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz writes: “A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment. This is a basic and fundamental law of the mind. It is the way we are built. . . .You act, and feel, not according to what things are really like, but according to the image your mind holds of what they are like. You have certain mental images of yourself, your world, and the people around you, and you behave as though these images were the truth, the reality, rather than the things they represent.”
Yes! But not only is it in your hands and in your head, it is also in your feet! Some weeks ago, I rode a bike for the first time in many years and I found out that it’s true what they say; if you ever learn how to ride a bike, you will never forget! Riding a bicycle teaches several fundamental lessons of life: The only way to remain upright and balanced is to keep moving forward at certain rate of speed! As long as the bike is moving forward; you’re making progress toward a destination and you are balanced. It’s alright to stop peddling for a while and coast, but if you wait too long before you start peddling again, it will be almost as hard to regain your momentum as it was when you first started! And if you keep coasting and never start peddling again, you will eventually stop; progress will no longer occur, you will lose your balance and you will fall, if you don’t stick your leg out! Yes! In many ways, life is like riding a bike; to make progress, to reach your goals, to maintain balance, you must keep moving forward at a certain rate of speed!
My bike-riding experience also reminded me of another truth! I noticed as I was riding that I had to constantly adjust my direction! Nothing major, just constant minor shifts! The same thing happens in driving a car! Even on a straight road, you have to make slight and minute shifts and adjustments. That’s the way life is! It is never perfectly straight! But, to get to where you want to go, you must first of all, have somewhere to go! We are designed to have goals and to work progressively toward them! In Psycho-Cybernetics, Maltz talks about the fact that human have a built-in success mechanism that must have a goal or a target. It’s in your feet because you will only find fulfilment in life as you walk or peddle your way toward your goals, making slight adjustments and sometimes major turns along the way!
Yes! It’s in your hands, it’s in your head, it’s in your feet, and it is also in your mouth! In your mouth, there is either a miracle or a mess! We used to say as kids: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!” Well, I found out that is not necessarily true! Not only can words hurt; words can kill! Jesus said: “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:36-37 CSB17) The bad words other people say to you ‘may’ or ‘may not’ hurt you, but the bad words you say to yourself ‘will’ hurt you! When I say ‘bad words,’ I don’t mean profanity, I mean the put-down-words, the negative conversations we sometimes have with our selves! If others say we can’t do it, we can use that as motivation to prove them wrong! But if we say to our selves that we can’t do it; we’re doom to fail, because who can successfully argue with themselves and win?
Lastly, not only is it in your hands, in your head, in your feet, and in your mouth; it is also in your heart! Your heart is your uttermost desire! Your heart is what you want most in life! The commercial asks: “What’s in your wallet?” But an even more important question is: “What’s in your heart?” Jesus said: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matt. 12:34-35 NKJ) Your heart contains the will and the fortitude necessary to get and achieve what you really want in life! You heart contains the treasure or the trash that motivates everything you do!
Yes! It’s in your hands! It’s not up to the government! It’s not up to the economy! It’s not up to your spouse or your children! It’s not even up to God! Ultimately, you must accept full responsibility for your life and say: “If it is to be, it is up to me!” Whatever you make out of your life, it is in your hands!