What is success?

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It has been said that “If you aren’t receiving what you want in life you’re probably wanting the wrong things”.

Every man-made problem in this world  can be first helped and then eventually solved if we just take what is stated in Matthew 6:33 to heart.

 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

So what does it mean to “seek first the kingdom of God” anyway?

First of all what are “these things” Jesus is talking about?  If we read the prior passages we find that He is speaking about our desires of this world.  We may think that we need some material thing but our Father truly knows what we need and if we truly love Him, He will give it to you.  Which leads me to the one thing that has resonated most with me since the beginning of His presence in my life.

I have come to understand that God is no different from any loving father.  If you want to imagine how God feels about you then just think about how you feel about your child.  Now, back to the question at hand, what does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God?

Some people believe it to mean “We are to seek the things of God as a priority over the things of the world.” which in my opinion is too general so let me narrow it down.

Every day when you rise up out of your bed, simply and gratefully give your first fruits of the day to Father God.  This means to give thanks to Him for another day to be His light and ask Him to make plain to you His will for you so that you may do His will and not yours.  The acceptance of His will over yours is a key as we read in Romans 8:28,  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  And so we know that even though it may hurt at the time, it is for the best so it must be accepted.

Now in taking this approach you have put your focus in the right perspective and “His will be done” has become more than just something we say and pray, it is what we truly now accept and strive for.  Then, when you strive for His will over yours, peace is achieved because the gospel of John 5:14, which tells us; “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” becomes truth.

I am not saying you will achieve fame or fortune and I’m not saying you won’t.  I don’t know the will of God for you. But I can assure you this, you will have peace and joy. and isn’t that really all that you need?

It really works but here’s the first hurdle.  Throughout the course and trials of the day keep referring back to Him in this way.  Seek His will.   In doing this without hesitation you will be seeking first the kingdom of God.

The second challenge is to remain patient and diligent in Christ believing without doubt.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

Hebrews 10:22

God’s peace be with you……

why are you an atheist or agnostic?

It has been said that the seed of atheism is created by hurt and then fertilized by pride.

When I went through my divorce and lost the ability to communicate with my children, then 4 and 5 years old and in need of solid ground, I saw this as extremely painful and unfair in accordance with what I saw as the future for both me and them.  No doubt this is a stinky life situation that could easily justify in the mind of man a hurt delivered by God, don’t you think?  But now some 20+ years later here I am raising 3 beautiful children and married to a wonderful person living what seems to be a dream.  And oh ya, I maintain a healthy relationship with both of my older children now and they are just fine.

My point is this, we all go through storms in life for what seems to be no reason good enough to swallow but in the end it always works out for the best.  The “best” may not come as fast as our will wants it to but it does always come.  Even if we bring the many atrocities that have happened throughout history onto the table, haven’t they all worked some sort of miracle for someone, somehow?  The civil war, the genocide of the Jews and Native Americans, WWI and WWII, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and so on and on.  No doubt on the surface they are horrible but after time we can see that miracles of one kind or another do eventually come.  It may be hard to see the silver lining, but no matter how hard to persevere through, it is there if you are honest enough with yourself to see it.

Unfortunately, there in the midst of the pain we have a human nature that wants to place blame but in our human haste too many times the wrong person or energy source receives it.  We must always remember that there are two forces at work in this world, both good and evil.  One needs to look no further then the recent mass killings in this nation alone to see the evil, but why must we focus on the good and place the blame there?  Strange don’t you think?

Then, when human self-pride is sprinkled onto the seedling we have a problem of a more permanent nature.  Why? Because no one wants to be seen as wrong or foolish.  Wrong to have made an incorrect decision that carries great gravity.  That would look foolish now wouldn’t it?

But what if you discovered that to be foolish is actually defined by not changing your mind when you have discovered that your initial decision was the wrong one?  And that by now making the right choice in accordance with what you know to be true in your heart is not only wise but shows incredible strength as well.  Wouldn’t you change your mind?  pruning

When a branch is pruned it is painful to both the branch and the vine, but in the end they are both strengthened and produce a great fruit for harvest 86518136_XS.

God’s peace to you and all of humanity

Unexpected Spiritual Change

winchester 2013 024Unreal, incredible, unsolicited, undeniable.  These are all still words that come immediately to mind when I think back to how this all began.  My happy-go-lucky life wasn’t completely on track, but I certainly wasn’t stressed to the point of seeking help from God, and yet He came and in an instant everything changed.

Happily married with a wonderfully developing family, I was almost entirely satisfied with my life at the time.  The only thing that was out of whack was the fact that I was not employed but even that wasn’t really a concern to me.  After all, I had seen much worse times in my past and had always somehow come out just fine.  This lack of employment wasn’t any different in my mind.  We were going to be just fine no matter what.

I had ran a landscaping business for five years prior to the recession but it didn’t last.  This was indeed a failure, but to my wife and I, this was completely acceptable. The removal of the intense stress of running the business was a good occurrence. We were not in debt over the loss so we chose to view it positively.  We saw it as a life change that would enable me to stay at home and raise our son in a healthy environment rather then putting him into an expensive daycare and trusting them to. The trade off was as welcomed as a steak into my dog’s dish.  Our stress level had been reduced and yet for some unknown reason God chose to begin my transformation at that juncture of my life.  This was and still is very strange to me because it’s in direct contrast to all of the “born again christian” testimonials that I had heard.  I wasn’t at a low point, I was happy and on cruise control, so the question of why began to haunt me and still lingers.

As far as my spiritual background is concerned, it is as sorted as the next guys I suppose.  I was raised a christian, but always had my doubts.  At the time of the “awakening” I was attending a Lutheran church that my wife and I were married at, but I wasn’t really a church goer.  An avid football fan is what I was, so my attendance was determined by whether or not my fantasy team was doing well and if my wife could talk me into going. I was a “challenged” believer to say the least.  I was in all actuality a believer “just in case” and I was fine with that because I didn’t know there was a possibility of anything more.  I wasn’t actively trying to become more faithful or more spiritually righteous because I didn’t know that I could be.  Then in came The Helper and my life did a complete 180 and God has been in me ever since, that is except for a 24 hour span that I’ll never forget.  This day long unbelievable happening prompted me to turn what had begun as a journal, into a currently unpublished book.

I initially started my journal just to try to make better sense of what was happening to me because as I stated before, I wasn’t seeking change, and yet it started to happen.  When the Spirit began His work on me I was as confused as Adam on mother’s day, and so was my family.  I have since decided to write it as a book so I could hand it down to my children so they can then hand it down to their kids, therefore keeping God at the forefront of my family’s lives because I know that if one seeks first the kingdom of God then all other things will be given unto them.  I also want my children to know just what happened to their dad and why I am so in love with Jesus and Father God.

I will begin posting my book/journal next week in hopes to inspire those that God brings to it.

God’s peace,

Tom McGraw