Be In The Moment

Today, as I was out riding my bike, I had several opportunities to “be in the moment”.

What I’ve been learning lately, from reading the book Tapping the Source, is that I have a choice – each and every moment – of what I want to focus on.

It is an absolutely beautiful fall day. The temperature is in the mid-70s. There’s a slight breeze. There is a wide array of colors being displayed by several different species of trees. It couldn’t be a better day to go for a bike ride in the forest preserve – aside from the fact that it rained all day yesterday, leaving the path slippery with lots of wet leaves.

I rode my bike for a little over 12 miles today. That took me about an hour to accomplish. An hour. For an hour I was surrounded by beauty.

But, that’s not all I encountered. Because of the beautiful day, there were a lot of other people out enjoying the free park trails as well. In general, there were people just…out.

For instance, there was one man walking along the path, who, as I was passing by him, looked at me with this look as though he was going to spit in my face. I guess some “walkers” don’t like us bike riders being on “their” path.

There were several instances where I had to stop my momentum and slow way down because of pedestrians in both lanes, moving in opposite directions, meeting at the exact same time I would be passing them.

Then, of course, we can’t forget the hot-shot in his fancy car coming out of the Starbucks drive-through, talking on his cell phone, not paying attention to his surroundings… Had I not stopped for him, I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now, that’s for sure.

Yes, there were several moments along the way today where I literally wanted to bash some people’s heads in, break their necks, or just zap them into oblivion. I wanted to hang on to those angry feelings for a while and fantasize about getting my revenge.

But…that’s all they were…moments.

After each one of those moments had passed, I had the conscious awareness to realize that, hey, that moment is passed. It’s over. It’s gone. That’s not the moment I’m having right now. Remember, I said that my bike ride took about an hour. Roughly 60 minutes. Do you know how many moments there are in a minute? There’s a LOT! I had a LOT of moments. Only a handful were “bad” moments. Imagine, being surrounded by all that beauty and letting a few bad moments destroy the many other wonderful moments I decided to have.

While I may not be able to control all of the circumstances in each of my moments, I don’t have to dwell on those moments. Instead, I can choose to be in each new moment, leaving old moments behind, in the past.

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I am a new creation

For the past week I have been meditating on this thought:

“I am a new creation in Christ Jesus.”

This thought is, of course, based from the scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:17, which says,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

To help me meditate on it more fully, I have considered each word in the sentence individually.

I. I, Steve Pederson, am a new creation. This is personal. This makes me feel special, unique. I am a unique new creation. I am included. I am an individual that fits in to God’s plan.

Am. It’s not that I was, or I will be someday, or that I am, but there’s a certain degree of immaturity, but I am. Period. I exist as a new creation.

New. I like the footnote to this verse in my NLT Study Bible. It says,

“Christians are brand-new people on the inside. The Holy Spirit gives them new life, and they are not the same anymore. We are not reformed, rehabilitated or reeducated – we are re-created…”

What I like about this statement is that it gives the sense that there is nothing from the old that is kept. I’m not refurbished.

There’s just something about newness that is really cool. Everybody likes new stuff. It’s shiny. It’s not broken. It’s clean. It smells good. It’s fresh. There’s a promise that it’s going to work for a while. It’s still under warranty. It’s untainted.

Creation. This is the big one. When I think of creation, I think of all of God’s miraculous working power. I think of the creation itself. I think of the universe and how God fills it in every way. I think of the majesty, beauty, abundance and timelessness of creation. I think how overwhelming it is and how God has displayed his very divine nature through it. I think about how God’s creation is personal to him and a personal expression of who he is.

When I think of how amazing God’s creation is, and then I think that I am a new creation, it almost gives me chills.

In. This is important. This little word tells me that I am not on the outside looking in. I’m a part. I’m covered. I’m protected. I have special membership privileges. I have been created to be an important part of something that is much bigger than me. I am not only a  recipient of, but am a contributor to, a greater whole.

Christ. Who I am in is huge! Christ is King. He is the King of Kings. There is no higher authority in the universe. The universe was made at his command, by him and through him.

Jesus. Jesus gives it that personal touch; that touch of humanity. It’s a reminder that God became flesh and therefore understands my weaknesses. Jesus is my brother, and he is more than “just alright with me”.

To drive this meditation thought home, what I did was get out a notebook and pen and write out this statement 25 times a day every day for a week. Sometimes, when writing it down, I would focus my emphasis on just one word  and how that word was special – just as I’ve outlined above.

As a result, what has happened is that I’ve noticed that when I start getting tempted to think some less than holy thoughts, that thought is quick to pop into my mind and remind me that I am a new creation, and therefore I don’t need to think, act or react the way I’ve done so many times before – in ways that are not healthy to me spiritually.

I like what it says in Galatians 6:15-16, which states,

“…what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule…”

Thinking about all this has even inspired an idea for a new song, which I hope to develop and be sharing with everyone.

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Disciplining Children

“Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” – Proverbs 13:24 (NLT)

If this isn’t a hot topic in today’s world, I don’t know what is. Every parent has a different take on discipline. Some people interpret “the rod” in this passage literally and use it as a justification for using a physical stick to apply a “spanking” to their children. Others see “the rod” as a metaphor for discipline in general.

It’s my understanding that the scripture is referring to discipline in general, no matter what form the administration takes. The form of discipline a parent uses on a child is up to the wise and prayerful discernment of a loving parent. Besides, the need for the “rod of discipline” will continue to be there long after the effectiveness of spankings wears off.

To bind the use of physical punishment on a child as a general rule goes beyond the authority of any one person over another. That goes both ways. One person cannot use biblical authority to tell another that they are scripturally obligated to use physical punishment on their child. Conversely, it is nobodies business, not even the law, to determine what the appropriate course of action is for a parent to take in disciplining their child. (Neglect and abuse are of course matters where the law has authority to get involved.) A wise a loving parent is careful to discipline their child.

I think, however, the main point of this scripture is more about love than it is about discipline. Do you even love your child? “Well, of course I do! What a ridiculous question!” Is it really? I don’t think it would be in the bible if it was so ridiculous. Yes, it is possible for parents to even “hate” their own children. They show it by their lack of taking care to lovingly discipline them.

I appreciate this quote that is in the footnotes of my NLT Study bible on this verse:

It is not easy for a loving parent to discipline a child, but it is necessary. The greatest responsibility that God gives parents is the nurture and guidance of their children. Lack of discipline puts parents’ love in question because it shows a lack of concern for the character development of their children. Disciplining children averts long-range disaster. Without correction, children grow up with no clear understanding of right and wrong and with little direction to their lives. Don’t be afraid to discipline your children. It is an act of love. Remember, however, that your efforts cannot make your children wise; they can only encourage your children to seek God’s wisdom above all else!”

Let’s think spiritually and encourage the next generation of spiritual thinkers by giving them the chance they deserve, and maybe sometimes feel we didn’t get, through proper discipline.

For an excellent book on this matter, I would recommend Raising Awesome Kids – Reloaded, by Sam and Geri Laing.

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Is there truth outside the Bible?

I guess one thing I’m realizing is that I have a hard time accepting something as true if it’s not written in the Bible.

You’ve probably heard the saying “The Lord helps those who help themselves”. I’ve heard that too. What I’ve also heard, just about every time I hear that, is how it is not true, because it’s not in the Bible. Maybe the criticism is more that it’s a sign that people just don’t know their Bibles, because folks often quote it as Biblical truth, when, in fact, it is actually not in the Bible.

My question, though, is does it have to be in the Bible to be true?

I love my wife, but you don’t see that written in the Bible. Does that mean it’s not true?

Have you ever struggled with these types of thoughts? Do you feel like something is only trustworthy if it comes from the Bible?

Let’s think spiritually. What are your thoughts?

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