Contentment Is Learned

I don’t make enough money. I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Workplace negativity annoys me. Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others.

Can you relate, or am I alone on this?

While all of these statements are true for me in my head, I also recognize that the magnitude of their truth only grows when I give it permission.

I don’t make enough money. Actually, I do. ‘Enough’ is relative. I have enough because God always provides for my needs. I may not have excess, but excess is not essential.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. True…but I could have went to bed earlier. I wasn’t proactive.

Workplace negativity annoys me. Ok, so why don’t I choose to allow it to energize me to be an element for change toward more positivity?

Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others. It is what it is. I’m not going to singlehandedly change societal behaviors, most of which are personal pet peeves anyway. I even talked with my therapist about this. (Yes I’m in therapy. Healthy people seek help while unhealthy people remain unhealthy in their solitude) She challenged me, “Why are you allowing others (strangers) to occupy so much of your limited emotional capacity?” Yeah, good question.

You see, all of these examples of mine are choices. Choices for action or mindset. Choosing to take the better path is usually more difficult and requires conscious effort. But we CAN do it!

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬

The apostle Paul wrote this in one of his letters while imprisoned. He had learned to be content because of his past experiences, both of pain and joy. He shares that in every circumstance he has learned the ability to ‘do all things’ in order to live in contentment because of the strength made available to him through Jesus.

Now, you and I don’t always have the ability to change the circumstances around us. But we do have choices regarding how we model walking through them.

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3 Keys To Thriving In These Current Times

Happy Friday!

Just a quick thought. I firmly believe that faith, hope, and love are the single most important keys to thriving in life and for sustaining society.

As a Christian, FAITH is believing in a Heavenly Father who breathed everything into creation…who sent Jesus in human form to pay for the sins of his people…and who demonstrates pure love. Faith is knowing God is there, here with us 100% even though we cannot physically see Him.

Faith leads to HOPE. Through Jesus, we have the hope of eternity in Heaven one day. The hope for a better tomorrow here on Earth while we await His return. Honestly, with all the trials the world has been suffering just in the past 14 months, I cannot fathom how anyone has been on this journey without an unshakable HOPE. My hope in Jesus gets me out of bed each day, allows me to enjoy my family, and have a positive outlook despite all that I see going on in our world.

And finally, LOVE! There’s so much good here.

The love…

…God has for all of His creation.

…God has specifically and individually for YOU and I.

…Jesus modeled for us to have toward each other while he was here as a human.

…God longs for us to have toward Him in return, AS WELL AS loving OURSELVES well (Mt. 22:39).

“…the greatest of these is love.”

Why is love the greatest? Because it’s eternal. It will outlast all other gifts, blessings, and things of this physical Earth. Love is our shared connection to each other, to Jesus, and to Heaven in the here and now.

I’m going about my day today trying to constantly reflect on my personal faith, hope, and love. I hope this post blesses you somehow today.

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What If Pike’s Peak Disappeared?

God’s love for you and I is more consistent, guaranteed, and tangible than it is for mountains and hills to be in their same place each morning.

Our family lived in Colorado Springs for a couple years. The front range was majestic. And Pike’s Peak could be seen virtually from any location in town. Residents could count on it being there.

And yet, scripture tells us that it’s more likely for Pike’s Peak to disappear than it is for God’s love for us to cease.

Rest in that truth today. And if you are finding it hard to believe, take that to God. Be honest with Him. He only has warm, open arms for you.

Be blessed.

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Have Recent Months Been Hard?

Perspective is everything!. Here’s what my wife and I have been experiencing in the recent six months.

  • Moved into a new home.
  • Three positive COVID tests in the family.
  • Two quarantines.
  • Finally bought a second car.
  • Missed Thanksgiving due to quarantine.
  • Gave up a great job.
  • Our first grandchild was born.
  • Missing out on a big leadership retreat in Lake Tahoe.

And the list goes on. Challenges and blessings, all of it. That’s where perspective comes in. It would be easy for me to say that the past six months have been really difficult. While that may be true, I’m challenging myself to change my perspective and language. Another way to frame this is to state that it’s been really BIG. See the difference? It’s still true, but ‘big’ identifies both the negatives and the blessings.

Know what else? God…God is BIG! His promises, power, and love for us is absolutely enormous. We don’t even have the ability to comprehend all that he is.

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. Psalm 147:5

God has proven to be bigger than my worst trials, and active in BIG ways with every single blessing I’ve had. Is this true for you too?

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Do You Have One Word For 2021 Yet?

I’ve finally discovered my #OneWord365 for 2021, and for the first time it’s the same as my wife’s!

‘BE’

Through the next 12 months I’ll strive to BE…

…Optimistic

…Kind

…Connected

…Calm

…Rested

I also had fun using a free mind-mapping app to give me further clarification and focus. My plan is to regularly review each of these and journal my progress along the way.

Join the OneWord365 Community on Facebook!

What is YOUR one word? Do you practice something similar? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Pandemic Language, No More!

Today, I’m beginning a personal challenge. A challenge to focus my positive thoughts and hopefully reduce much of the negative thoughts. I believe you would agree with me that words are powerful. The words we speak, think, and read ultimately effect us and others.

Recently, I have noticed that I have been talking about COVID-19 pretty much every day. Understandably, this reality has taken ownership of our daily lives. BUT….I’ve also become very aware that I’m not talking nearly as much about the things in my life that mean the most to me. My relationship with Jesus, my family, hobbies, dreams, etc. With that, here is my personal challenge. Maybe you’d like to attempt it with me. The concept is simple, but pulling it off will be a daily struggle and will require a ton of intentionality. I will be making every effort to completely ELIMINATE these words from my vocabulary. I’m not going to post them, speak them, or read them in the news (Lord willing).

COVID

Pandemic

Quarantine

Social Distancing

Vaccine

I can hear the laughter already. Here’s where I’m coming from, though. The pandemic has become a daily reality for all of us. It’s everywhere. So, I don’t feel the need to continue talking about it as if it’s a new headline in the news or that it’s going to end anytime soon. I’m moving on in a positive direction today and into 2021. I’m not saying I’m going to act like COVID doesn’t exist, but I don’t need to continue feeding it verbally either. Friends, family, co-workers, feel free to hold me accountable. Better yet, JOIN ME!

The hashtag I’m using is #2020NoMoreChallenge

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Permissions > Restrictions

Here in WA State we are undergoing more restrictions as COVID numbers are on the rise. Though these are arguably necessary, they are negatively affecting small businesses, grocery shopping, church gatherings, medical treatment, and much more.

My wife and I co-lead our missional faith community and we also work at a very busy grocery store in town. The latest restrictions are causing many in our community to go back into the ‘panic shopping’ that we witnessed last Spring. So, we are feeling all the craziness first-hand.

Thankfully, I was able to spend some significant time reflecting on life and scripture this morning (admittedly for the first time in over a week). And as is always the case with God, he kindly gave me a powerful reminder.

Whatever I speak, write, and post becomes my reality. Those actions (choices) define what is truth in my life. Like it or not, I can’t argue with that.

Let me share with you part of a reflection I wrote in my journal today.

Focus: Acknowledge the circumstances around you without adding to the negativity. Speak optimism & hope whenever possible.

This was big for me. It’s so easy to fall in line with the copious amount of pessimism and chaos in our world today. Allowing myself to simply blend in with the norm of that noise around us doesn’t lead to anything helpful. I don’t know if it’s possible to add white noise to white noise, but this is not what I want to be about.

Hence the title of this post, ‘Permissions > Restrictions.’ We don’t really have many choices in our daily lives when new COVID restrictions are placed on us. But we do have unlimited PERMISSIONS available to us. What do I mean?

You and I have an incredible opportunity to stand out, to be a loud sounding ‘gong’ in all this negative white noise. And it’s so rare right now that people will absolutely notice when we choose to react to negative circumstances differently than the vast majority of our surrounding society.

This does not mean that we ignore facts or act like COVID, politics, social unrest, and financial stress don’t exist. These things are very real and affect real lives. But another very real truth is that we have a loving God in Heaven who offers us wisdom, power, direction, and comfort for the times we live in. And God has given us each other. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have my faith, family, and community.

So….I’m making a declaration on my own personal attitude, my own behavior. For the remainder of November and all through December I will be making a conscious (imperfect) attempt at inserting optimism into conversations with others. The same goes for the thoughts that go on in my mind.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please drop me a comment below.  

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If YOU are a Christian entertainer/athlete and would like to be a guest on the Faith & Entertainment podcast, simply email me at brentdumler@icloud.com. I’d love to talk with you!

Strive For Joy!

At the time of this post the Presidential election is still not called. Regardless of who you voted for, I think it’s safe to assume that most of us are very ANXIOUS to know who will be leading our country for the next 4 years.

But I was reminded this morning of a directive & encouraging promise that God offers us.

“Do not be anxious about ANYTHING, 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 understanding, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7

We must pray with urgency and gratitude to God our Father. Then, his unexplainable PEACE will get us through this season, and the next, and the next….

Remember, God already knows who wins this election. May God bless our President, and may God bless America.

Stay safe, be healthy, be kind.

What is ‘Effective’ Discipleship?

What does it REALLY take to disciple someone?

A disciple is a LEARNER. And when we look at how Jesus interacted with his ‘learners,’ we notice 3 forms of engagement.
1. He taught them, both verbally and by example.
2. He let them experience his WHOLE life, not just the rainbows & unicorns side. (come on, we all have a unicorn side)
3. He extended grace & patience when they screwed things up.

Here’s what we DON’T see in Scripture. Or at least I don’t see it.
1. Jesus taught in the Synagogues (churches), but we don’t see him teaching a Sunday School class on discipleship.
2. He doesn’t provide us with a step-by-step process for making disciples.
3. He definitely doesn’t ask his disciples to do anything that isn’t already a regular part of his own life.
descipelship
After over 20 years in vocational ministry, I’ve learned that doing organic, unfiltered life with others is the most EFFECTIVE kind of discipleship. We must not place a completion date on it, allowing Jesus to determine that. And lastly, each of us as followers of Jesus really needs to practice being the teacher AND the student…the Rabbi AND the disciple. Meaning, we should be simultaneously learning from the lives of other strong believers AND intentionally guiding others to deeper understanding of God’s Kingdom by way of OUR EXAMPLE.

What’s YOUR experience been with the issue of Christian discipleship? I’m super interested and would appreciate it if you’d drop a comment below.

 

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A New Thought on the Feeding of the Five Thousand

Don’t you just love it when you’re reading a familiar scripture, one that you’ve read or heard taught on many times before, and something completely new jumps off the page and grabs your attention? Well, that happened to me today so I wanted to share it with you.

I was in Mark 6 today, reading probably one of the most popular and well-known stories in the entire New Testament. Remember the feeding of the five thousand? Let me sum up.

The disciples had just wrapped up a ton of ministry work and teaching and were blogreporting to Jesus. To which, Jesus asked them to come away with him to a remote place away from the demands of ministry for a time of rest and rejuvenation. They haven’t even really had time to eat. When they had arrived by boat to their destination the crowds met them there. They were recognized from the shoreline and word got around (as it usually did with Jesus).

So, Jesus had compassion on them and continued many teachings into the evening time. This is where it gets interesting! The disciples suggested sending the crowds into the nearby villages to get dinner. I think they really wanted to just get something to eat for themselves. I don’t blame them, I’d have suggested it myself. I love food. But no, the work was to continue because Jesus instructed them to give the people something to eat.

The disciples replied with (I hear a bit of sarcasm in this text) asking him if they should spend a large amount of cash to buy enough bread to feel them all. Jesus asks them quite simply, “How many loaves do you have?” To this, the disciples said, “Five, and two fish.” The story continues from there with how they organized the crowd in groups and everyone ate until they were full. And of course…the leftovers.

Here’s my reflection point. Jesus didn’t ask them anything about fish. He simply asked how much bread they had. I have a couple thoughts on this.

First…the disciples knew their teacher’s heart. Maybe they were simply saving time getting him their entire food inventory knowing he’d probably ask after hearing about the fish.

Or…they could have suspected Jesus was about to do something miraculous (this is my belief) and their hearts were inclined to bring all they had to him in faithful obedience.

This is what God spoke to me in this revelation. When Jesus is about to do something incredible and asks you and I to be part of his work, it’s best to allow him to work with all that we have to offer. This doesn’t always mean that he’s going to use all we have, but I think it’s a heart thing. Don’t you? Just because Jesus doesn’t ask us for something specific does not necessarily mean he doesn’t want it.

What does this section of scripture speak to you today? How is God talking to you through his Word in this season? Comment below 🙂

 

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

Please give my podcast a listen this week. We engage in discussions of faith with popular actors, musical artists, and athletes. Check out the Faith & Entertainment podcast!