Scary Stories

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Alive and Active Life
Scary Stories
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Scary stories are scariest if you are in the story, but you don’t know what is going to happen. The risk is significant, the outcome is uncertain, and the danger is elevated. All the unknowns make scary stories hold your breath and hope things turn out OK. If you already know how things turn out, most of the “scary” is gone.

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Contentment

Alive and Active Life
Alive and Active Life
Contentment
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Have you noticed a lot of unrest all over the world recently? It’s sobering. And it affects people. Even folks who feel pretty stable are wondering – “What is going on these days?” There’s a complete lack of contentment, and people want to know how to respond to all this unrest. In a world of upheaval, what hope is there to regain a life of contentment?

Jesus gives really great advice about contentment, and I think it’s super relevant right now.

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I Bet Your Life Is Like Mine

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Alive and Active Life
I Bet Your Life Is Like Mine
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I bet your life is like mine. We are different as individuals, yet surely there are similarities! Let’s start here. Is your life ever filled with challenges and difficulties, losses and disappointments? Have you ever been pierced with tragedy? Have you experienced health issues? If you’ve lived several decades, you likely have more questions now than when you were younger, right? You might have had seasons of unexpected, undeserved poundings! Your sufferings may be from someone else’s terrible choices. So – what do you think? Any of this sound familiar? Is your life like mine?

 

Set The Pace For Your Life

I could add even more to that first paragraph, but I won’t. Why? Because although there is more I could add of life’s hardships, trials, and challenges . . . there is another similarity also true for your life and mine.

Our lives are filled with God’s blessings – all the time, every day. So many things to enjoy from relationships to creation to adventures to pleasures to advancements. The best blessing is God’s presence. These all co-exist alongside our difficulties.

The person who is conscious of God and His blessings is the person who does well, even in a broken world. This person gives thanks always. They set the pace.

So, I ask you again. Is your life like mine? Are you enjoying God’s blessings around you?

  1. What blessings co-exist in your life alongside your troubles? List them.
  2. Do you give thanks often for them?
  3. Are you setting the pace by how you perceive your blessings?
  4. Do you have an Alive and Active Life?

 

God and Your Life

It’s challenging enough to figure out who you are. Then to figure out who God is – well, that seems impossible. What would you think if I told you – you can do both. Of course, your knowledge, conclusions, and understanding will be limited. But you can know yourself and God much better than you do now (no matter how well you know both of you right now)!

Let’s talk about God. The Apostle Paul presents a good picture of God. He calls Him “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God.” (2 Tim. 1:17) Lots of big, significant words. They are even a bit difficult to digest. Still, these words are a life changer, and a world changer. It helps to realize these words are the beginnings of adventure, new growth, and increased understanding. So rather than seeing them as a threat, welcome these words as a new opportunity to know God. He has invited you. And He wants to be all those great, powerful things for you.

But Paul doesn’t stop with those big concepts about God. He adds qualities more common to our thinking. For example, what ideas would come to your mind if you considered how to interact with such a great Person? I’d start with gratitude, respect, and allegiance due to such a great King. Sure enough, Paul introduces these new words to help – “honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (v. 17) You can give honor and glory to God!

  1. Have you figured out who you are?
  2. Are you getting to know God better?
  3. How much adventure, new growth, and increasing understanding are you welcoming into your day?

 

Unpacking God And Your Life

Let’s try to unpack this. It’s critical to be able to wrap your arms around these concepts – at least enough to begin the journey of discovery. Let’s start with God.

The “King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” died for you because He loves you. He is powerful enough to rise from the dead – which He did – for you. In addition, He calls you to Himself to live as a close, personal friend to Him. When you trust Jesus for salvation and forgiveness, you become part of His family, a royal heir, with all His kingdom rights and resources available to you. So, you see that God isn’t just that untouchable, great, “out-there” person. He is very interested in your life and wants to invest in you.

God wants to help you unpack your life, as well as His own life – which is made available for you. This intimate bond is the original design from before creation. God loves you. He made the human race for Himself – His children. But He also gave each person a free will to decide if they want to be His child. No forcing.

  1. Are you remembering God loves you – and that Jesus died for you?
  2. Do you live like you are a close personal friend to God?
  3. Is your identity secure as a member of the royal family?

 

Friend Or Enemy?

The original design is an unthinkable reality. No one is worthy of that gracious, generous offer. Not you. Not me. Scripture says we were once enemies of God – by out own choosing. (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21) In fact, let’s call it what it is. We are sinners – bad people with bad hearts. But God showed us mercy and kindness through Jesus for our ignorance and unbelief. He built a bridge over our bad choices.

This mercy and grace is not just given to us. It is quite literally poured out into our lives – abundantly. The only missing piece is the “receiving.” Have you opened your life to receive from God like a flower opens to the rays of the sun?

In a broken, pounding world, God shares His great resources to fill failing hearts with love, faith, and hope. This is your new reality in Christ – every day. The cross changed the landscape so people could change sides – from the enemy’s side to God’s. No longer chained slaves to evil, we are now royal heirs! Simple, sincere repentance and faith in Jesus gives you forgiveness of sins, resurrection from death, and eternal life. Plus, you get dearest friendship with this great King. What a jackpot!

  1. Have you crossed over the bridge Jesus built so you can be forgiven?
  2. Are you opening to God each day like a flower opens to the sun?
  3. Do your choices prove you are a friend of God – or an enemy?

 

God And Your Fragile Heart

As you take in Jesus each day, He pours His life and power into your fragile heart, even in our contemporary, difficult times. His own heart is strong and steady. He is extravagantly gracious, causing the sun to rise on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Mt. 5:45) He is loving and kind toward all He has made. (Ps. 145:9)

So, having identified His goodness, I can safely say your life, indeed, is like mine. It is filled with an underserved future, powerful resources, daily delights, and unfathomable friendship with God. If you are alert, humble, and thankful, you will notice many blessings that co-exist alongside the difficulties in your life.

In free countries, it’s hard to think of daily battle. Yet, every day, you need to fight to hold onto your faith. Work hard to keep good conscience. Navigate life’s waters without shipwreck. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) He gave you the “heads up.”

As you troubleshoot through life’s hardships, please remember and cherish the co-existing good all around you. God has not abandoned you.

  1. Does your heart feel fragile?
  2. Have you responded to Jesus’ invitation to live inside His love and kindness?
  3. Why not spend time each day identifying more of God’s goodness in your life? Make a list.
  4. Are you “taking heart” in your troubles – because Jesus has overcome the world? Do you choose to do this?

 

Application Thoughts and Questions

The first part of your application is to review the above questions in each section. I’ll list them here again for your convenience.

Set One

  1. What blessings co-exist in your life alongside your troubles? List them.
  2. Do you give thanks often for them?
  3. Are you setting the pace by how you perceive your blessings?
  4. Do you have an Alive and Active Life?

Set Two

  1. Have you figured out who you are?
  2. Are you getting to know God better each day?
  3. How much adventure, new growth, and increasing understanding are you welcoming into your day?

Set Three

  1. Are you remembering God loves you – and that Jesus died for you?
  2. Do you live like you are a close personal friend to God?
  3. Is your identity secure as a member of the royal family?

Set Four

  1. Have you crossed over the bridge Jesus built so you can be forgiven?
  2. Are you opening to God each day like a flower opens to the sun?
  3. Do your choices prove you are a friend of God – or His enemy?

Set Five

  1. Does your heart feel fragile?
  2. Have you responded to Jesus’ invitation to live inside His love and kindness?
  3. Why not spend time each day identifying more of God’s goodness in your life? Make a list.
  4. Are you “taking heart” in your troubles – because Jesus has overcome the world?

 

Ponder and record answers to those groups of questions in your device or journal. Then, jot down your difficulties, trials, and painful losses. After that, jot down your blessings. I bet you’ll find your life is like mine.

Your life gives you the privilege to focus on God’s blessings more than your troubles. Trust God in your hardships. Claim His promises. Obey Him. This will keep your heart alive in His hope. Have an Alive and Active Life.

Content taken from More E-pistles For An i-Generation, Sess. 71 and from 2 Tim.1:12-20. Check out this fabulous Bible study book – and more tools to help you grow in your walk with God.

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TRUE COLORS

Alive and Active Life
Alive and Active Life
TRUE COLORS
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I love autumn colors! I wait for them every year. In fact, autumn is my favorite time of year (next to Christmas celebrations). Incredible displays of color, the crisp, magical feel in the air, the cheer that rises. Gorgeous skies. Backyard firepits, s’mores, and hotdogs. Pulling out the warm, cozy sweaters. Yet, even as I enjoy the splashes of color that cheer the world, and as I indulge in the entire experience, the colors remind me of something else. It’s something that helps me, but it’s also rather sobering. It challenges me, too. And it all has to do with true colors.

(Your area of the world may have already finished autumn colors, and you may have snow! Perhaps your area of the globe is warm year around. The lessons of true colors are still applicable to every person!)

True Colors In The Community

Before getting into today’s content, would you like to see some community colors? The trees on a walk through my neighborhood are majestic and beautiful. They give so much joy and draw my heart to the Creator. Notice the gorgeous colors against the moody fall skies. Some of the trees look like a paintbrush that an artist dipped outer edges into bright colors.

Every autumn, I’m in awe at what is beneath (inside) the cloak of green over the leaves. As I consider this, I become pensive about my life, asking myself good questions and pondering my own changing seasons. Here’s a peek into my head during those times:

  • What is beneath – inside me right now?
  • What character do I need to developed further?
  • As I consider all the unknowns of the future, how will I respond when I hit problems and difficulties?
  • Do I represent Jesus well?
  • Is He formed in my life?
  • Do others see His beauty when they look at my life?
  • What changes do I need to make to have more true colors?

 

Back-It-Up Into Summer

Let’s back-it-up into summer for starters. All summer we enjoy the living green around us. Deep, rich, vibrant shades and hues of green compliment each other. A beautiful emerald sea. It feels comfortable. Add all the gorgeous blooms and fruits of gardens, the soft coo of mourning doves, and the cheery music of songbirds. Then add the hum of grasshoppers and buzz of bees. Maybe the smell of freshly cut grass. Finish this landscape with a glass of ice tea, sun glasses, and a good book.

But summer days shorten. Crisp air crawls over the earth, and a thin veneer of frost lingers each day until sun rays melt it away mid-morning. Unannounced, quietly, ever-so-slightly the show of true colors begins. Green slowly retreats. True colors give a “first peek” as fall gently nudges summer to the side. A new beauty emerges.

True Colors Emerge

As a child, I remember learning that chlorophyll pulls inward from the outer parts of a tree into the center during winter. As a result, colors that were hidden when chlorophyll was present are then seen. In other words, you see the leaf’s true colors. How interesting. The green was a sort of covering. A temporary cloak. Even a kind of blanket.

Every year this transformation from deep, rich green to colorful fall displays is an opportunity to see what is actually there in the absence of chlorophyll. And it’s a reminder to thoughtfully look at your own true colors. What’s underneath the daily chlorophyll, your covering, where others don’t see. Changing seasons can be a reminder to explore your true colors.

True Colors Of Shifting Seasons

Seasons of our lives shift and change. Some shifts are unpredictable. Some changes are regular and expected – like clockwork. The unique opportunity of shifts gives a peek into what is really going on inside you. It reveals your character, who you really are in your center (your heart), and who you are becoming.

Questions are excellent tools to help you identify and take advantage of your shifting life seasons. Sometimes a change of seasons feels like a threat. We are not ready for what it brings. Other times, it’s a welcome relief that couldn’t come soon enough.

There is good in every shifting season, even ones we strongly dislike, because God has promised to walk with us through each season. He has promised never to leave you. And He has said, “. . . in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

One of the “dependables” I’ve discovered about life is this. The good things always co-exist alongside the difficulties. There is always something to be thankful for. Because this is true, a person can train their heart to look for God’s blessings – and enjoy them with a grateful heart – even when they go through trials.

Good Questions About True Colors

So here are some good questions to evaluate your emerging true colors:

  1. What is revealed when stress and pressure push you to your breaking point?
  2. What is present in your heart that you try to hide? Why do you hide it?
  3. Do you remember God sees everything about you? Do you remember He loves you so much?
  4. What would others see if your veneers and presentations were pulled back?
  5. What do you try to paint as “more green” – and why? Is it worth all that effort?
  6. Do you ever wish you could just be yourself? (You can.)
  7. Are you pleased with how you present yourself? (You can be.)
  8. Is your presentation (thoughts, words, actions) congruent with God’s principles, and is your heart connected to God’s heart?
  9. What is the worst that would happen if you decided to be honest about yourself, revealing your true colors?
  10. Did you know you can change your colors to be more beautiful and pleasing to God?
  11. Have you come to enjoy your own unique true colors? (Instead of copying someone else’s colors. )
  12. Why not rejoice in the person God made you to be? God gave you beautiful true colors.

 

Those are sobering, critical questions. They require pensive interaction. Asking and answering them helps you engage an Alive and Active Life.

A Look In Your Back Yard (or Your Park)

So what do you see when you look out your window? What true colors are emerging in your yard or nearby park? Similarly, when you peek through the window of your life, what colors do you see? What true colors paint your character and your heart?

Sometimes a person is deeply regretful when they see the colors of their life. Their choices make shame and failure rise up in their mind. This reality is part of the process of choosing to change your colors. If you are truly sorry for past choices, simply tell Jesus. The Bible calls this repentance. Scripture says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9)

Did you get that? Your colors can change. You can find out what your true colors were designed to be. God always creates incredible beauty! That means your true colors are lovely.

Slow Down To See True Colors

It helps to slow down. I like to call that a “pause.” I remember a year when I was so busy – I completely missed the colors of autumn. I was grieved at my loss when I realized it was already done. Since then, I’ve tried to be more attentive to changing seasons and colors. This means slowing down enough to look.

Just like noticing nature’s changing seasons, slowing down means pausing to enjoy the beauty God intends to share with you each day. Ponder His creative power to connect with His colors. See the beautiful display of His love for you.

Slowing down also means connecting with the person God designed you to be. You are made in His image – beautiful and holy. Why not be the person you are designed to be?

Pausing is essential to know God better. You have to know who you are emulating. Slow down (pause) and take a look. “. . . live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God . . .” (Col. 1:10) You can have true colors of good living. And you can personally know God!

Slow down. Pause. Look at Jesus. Look into your heart and character. Match your life colors with God’s palette of every imaginable color. Be the “you” God designed. Dip the edges of your paintbrush into God’s paint of true colors.

Application Questions and Thoughts

  1. Are you pleased at true colors that show themselves – or are you perhaps embarrassed?
  2. Are you willing to pull your green back and let God’s true colors show through your life?
  3. Do you pause long enough to see the blessings in your seasons, co-existing with your difficulties? Why not slow down? Pause.
  4. Why not engage your unique true colors with all your might, creativity, and passion?
  5. Are you willing to let your display of colors point others to Jesus and bring more joy to these troubled days?
  6. The color red dripping from the cross onto your life reveals your true colors. Why not stay very near the cross and let Jesus change your colors with His?

 

Let your true colors show and live an Alive and Active Life this week!

 

 

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Harvest – How Is Your Yield This Year?

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Alive and Active Life
Harvest - How Is Your Yield This Year?
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Did you plant any gardens this year? Maybe some veggies or flowers? Perhaps you have a patch of herbs. Or maybe a favorite front step potted plant. Farmers across the world have their own kind of (very large) gardens. So do businesses with green houses, orchards, or public farms. I had a garden this year, and I poured time and effort into it. Gardeners have something in common. They look for harvest of the crop they labored over – from produce to flowers to cash crops. How is your yield this year? Read More …

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Deceptive Cycles: Steps To Break Free

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Alive and Active Life
Deceptive Cycles: Steps To Break Free
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Deceptive Cycles

Deceptive cycles have trapped most people at one time or other. You, me, pretty much everyone. These cycles are key enemy strategies to get God’s people to fail, live defeated, be burdened, and struggle with discouragement. Deception formed the original temptation of Adam and Eve. So, we are not alone. Still, this was never God’s plan. He wants you free to have an Alive and Active Life.

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How To Measure Your Motives

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Alive and Active Life
How To Measure Your Motives
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Recently, we explored 12 Qualities Of Noble Character and how critical it is to aim for excellence. In fact, I would add that people with noble character help change the world. We need more noble character around the world. If noble character is that important, and since Motives Matter – how do you measure your motives as you work to increase your own noble character? That’s the content of today’s material.

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Manage Feelings: A Bit Like Technology

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Alive and Active Life
Manage Feelings: A Bit Like Technology
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Managing Anything Is A Big Deal!

Have you ever thought about how many things you manage in a day? It’s overwhelming. From a home and yard, to your budget. You manage health, weight, and wise shopping for food. How about keeping everything clean, fixed, ready to use? You manage your career, family, friendships. Even time-off needs management for constructive fun and rest. And – seriously – all your techie stuff needs managing. (Have you noticed?!) Computers, phones, devices, apps for everything you can imagine. There’s another thing you need to manage to have an Alive and Active Life. You need to manage your feelings.

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12 Qualities of Noble Character

Alive and Active Life
Alive and Active Life
12 Qualities of Noble Character
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When you think of noble character, who do you think of? Is it a famous person? Perhaps a friend. It might be a family member or a person of influence in your community. Maybe you would choose a person of past history. Whoever you think of, one thing is sure – noble character still matters.

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Got Power To Live An Alive and Active Life?

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Alive and Active Life
Got Power To Live An Alive and Active Life?
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Do you remember the commercial years ago (maybe the 1990’s) – GOT MILK? In the commercial, everyone has a “milk mustache.” No one can argue the value of drinking milk – especially for children. Even adults relish a glass of milk with cookies. That creamy white drink has power to build strong bodies in youngsters as they grow. Babies can’t live without milk. But when little ones grow up they need more than milk to be strong. They need inner power to live an Alive and Active Life. So the question I ask you is – GOT POWER?

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