Written December 22, 2023 (Published January 10, 2023)
We are ten days into the new year! How are you doing? Me? Well, as you can see above, I haven’t experienced one new day in 2023! I do plan to be EXCELLENT (smile).
Faith is a topic that is extremely personal. As the United States continues to be on its current trajectory, faith is becoming a more heated topic. Please know that as I write about faith, I empathize that several of you have chosen a more secular path. Please continue to read this more through a “get-to-know-Paul” lens or a lens of “understanding-better-people-who-have-faith.”
When I was a child, I had very little introduction to faith. As a child, up to when I was eighteen years old, the only time I would celebrate a faith was Christmas, Easter and earn that merit badge for Boy Scouts. This is too bad. I believe my life would be different if I had a father and faith. Different for the better. Yet, it’s never too late to find one’s faith and make the commitment to follow it. My faith is Christian and as I write this article, that is my lens. My filter is the teachings of Jesus Christ. Like Dr. Maxwell in his book MAKE TODAY COUNT (a book we are currently working out of), I made the decision to accept God’s gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, as my Savior.
By making this decision doesn’t mean I am better than you. It doesn’t mean I am perfect. It doesn’t mean I judge you for NOT being a Christian. Heck! I don’t even judge you for how you behave and act as a Christian. What it means is it gives you an idea of how I make decisions. Where my heart and mind are at. Now, here is the rub. You who have placed yourselves in the “marginalized” group. To often you have made the decision that I look and judge you a certain way based on how you know Jesus Christ. That is too bad. Give people the benefit of the doubt. My understanding of being a follower of Jesus Christ is to love all people. So to the “marginalized group,” learn more about Jesus Christ and you will be around some incredible people.
As a I approach this sensitive topic, that is a key concept, “… learn more about Jesus Christ and you will be around some incredible people.” You need to consider to make the decision to deepen and live out faith daily. Now, I am not going to proselytize. I am not here to convince you to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. NOPE! What I am here to say is if you make the decision to follow a faith, you must deepen your knowledge of that faith and live it out daily. As you explore faith, Dr. Maxwell has three things you need to know: We Already have Faith … The Important Choice is Where We Place It, Understand That Faith is Often Birthed Out of Difficulties, and A Faith That Hasn’t Been Tested Can’t be Trusted. We will focus on Understand That Faith is Often Birthed Out of Difficulties.
When I was a freshman at the University of the Pacific, I had a friend named Jennifer. Jennifer is a person I would call a “Charismatic Christian.” She gave away her CDs because they were “satanic.” She gave away her clothes for the same reason. She was going over the top. Well, I wanted to understand better why she was becoming whom she was becoming. I want to know the church group she found and my goodness, no wonder she was becoming who she was becoming. I attended a Friday night gathering! The experience was unlike I had ever experienced. After all, if I did go to church, it was the Carmel Mission. Very traditional Catholic Mass. At that traditional Catholic Mass, there were know electric guitars, amplified voices and a drum-set. The Friday night gathering was intoxicating. I don’t want to go to deep into this experience. Let me just say, it was too much for me and I became full-on Catholic.
Jennifer was having a difficult time at the University of the Pacific. Not because of the school. No. It was getting used to being away from home and being in a college. There was a group on campus that helped Jennifer get through her difficulties.
Especially since THE RESPONSE to Covid19, we are seeing a frightening increase in the number of people suffering from depression, anxiety, and similar negative emotions. If you are one of those people, please know that an answer that does not include medicine, intensive therapy sessions is FAITH. I am not a Christian that is going to POUND you with – there is only one way. JESUS IS THE ONE WAY. What I will say, for me and hundreds of millions of people do believe JESUS IS THE ONE WAY. With this article, what I am going to say to you is FAITH IS A VERY STRONG RESPONSE TO SOLVING YOUR DIFFICULTIES. With this being the start of a new year, I do hope you will consider going to FAITH. As always, I make myself available to you, including developing your faith.
As a high school music teacher since 1989 (briefly retired December 22, 2021 – August 12, 2022), I have had my fare share of difficulties. I know what it is like to have people be mean, filled with rage and take it out on you, failure and on and on! What has gotten me through all the difficulties is JESUS CHRIST, as well as family, friends and other “believers.”
We need to learn how to manage the discipline of faith. For Dr. Maxwell and me, every day we need to live and lead like Jesus Christ. And I assure you, I fall short of the “every day.” I don’t beat up myself for falling short. I just get better! So, how are you going to live and lead like the faith you have chosen? Well, Embrace the Value of Faith. You do need to put God in the Picture. As I mentioned to you earlier, you need to associate with people of faith. Faith is a group effort. FOR SURE. And. also mentioned earlier, you need to explore and deepen your faith.
Let’s look at Dr. Maxwell’s story under, Put God in the Picture.
“There’s a story of a man driving a convertible on a mountain road who took an unexpected turn too quickly and went right over the edge. As his car fell, he managed to grab on to a tree sprouting from the cliff face as his care dropped a thousand feet to the canyon floor.
“Help!” he screamed. “Can anyone hear me?” An echo was the only response.
“God, can you hear me?” he cried.
Suddenly the clouds rolled together and a voice like thunder said, “Yes, I can hear you.”
“Will you help me?”
“Yes, I will help you. Do you believe in me?”
“Yes, I believe in you.”
“Do you trust me?”
“Yes, yes, I trust you. Please hurry.”
“If you trust me, then let go of the tree,” thundered the voice.
After a long silence, the man cried, “Can anyone else hear me?”
If you want to embrace faith, you must let God into your life. No one else is worthy of our absolute and unconditional trust. Theologian F. B. Meyer said, “Unbelief puts our circumstances between us and our circumstances.” Who wouldn’t like to have the Creator of the universe helping them? James, one of the fathers of the first-century church, advised, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
You may not be ready to accept faith into your life. NO WORRRIES. There is no rush. You need to be ready to make the full commitment. The choice cannot be like going on a diet and then get off the diet the first six months. Yes. I have done that as well. From my life experience, what I can tell you is FAITH is THE answer to facing and solving difficulties. The answer is not always going to come when you it to. You are not in charge. God is in charge. Go back and read the parable Dr. Maxwell shared with us. You have to be willing to let go of the branch.
Please consider purchasing Dr. Maxwell’s MAKE TODAY COUNT. I barely scratch the surface of this gem. https://www.amazon.com/Make-Today-Count-Success-Determined/dp/1599950812
I hope this helps you. I want to help you MAKE TODAY COUNT. Please consider hiring me for one-on-one training and/or giving a group presentation. I am very good with middle school and high school ages. Also, I am now doing adult groups! Check out the curriculum tab on this website. Hope to hear from you. Here is my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org