The prophet Isaiah announces the coming of God's son into the world with these words: "For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. He will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end." What a wonderful Solution-Focused message this is for a hurting and longing world. The prophet tells us that Christ will be born and for us he will be a...
Wonderful Counselor - He is one whose teachings we should heed because he will tell us lovingly and truthfully how to find healing and wholeness in every area of our life.
Mighty God - He is not just one who can give advice, he is one who is willing to get involved in the nitty gritty of our lives> He is one who has the power to effect true and lasting change.
Everlasting Father - He always cares. He is always there. Nothing will be able to separate us from his great love.
Prince of Peace - In times of turmoil and stress he is the one who can calm the troubled waters of our soul. "Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end." His peace will grow within us.
I wish all of my readers a blessed and merry Christmas, and I pray that the promise of the prophet will be the reality of your heart this Christmas day.
If you start at a point and walk 50 miles in one direction, obviously you will end up at another specific point. But if you start at the same beginning point and alter your direction even by one degree, 50 miles later you will be in an entirely different place. The lesson: small changes in direction over time take us to an entirely different ending.
Many people, especially as we begin a new year, plan to make huge changes in their life. Some of these include: a radically altered diet, an aggressive exercise program, accomplishing monumental new tasks, and possibly even the transformation of one's personality. The problem is, striving for big changes seldom works. But small changes, which are realistic and sustainable, can in time make a huge difference in the quality of our life.
For 2018, what small changes can you make in: your attitude, your spiritual disciplines, your diet, your financial management, your exercise routine? A basic principle of Solution Focused Therapy is that small changes lead to big changes. So as you live into 2018 and consider the "life improvements" you want to take on; Think Small! By the end of the year you may be surprised at where life has taken you.
Recently a therapist friend of mine used a term that caught my attention; she told me that one thing that was now helping her was the practice of "pre-emptive prayers." I had never heard those two words used together like that before and I quickly asked her what she meant. She told me that usually she prays about things as they are happening to her. There is a conflict in her family and she prays about that. A friend becomes ill and she prays about that. She is having a day when she is feeling anxious and she prays about that. But, she told me, "I'm now spending more time praying "ahead" of anticipated events." As the school year was approaching she prayed that her daughter would like her teachers, make new friends, and be excited with her classes. As the Christmas season was approaching she begin praying for God to be lord of her schedule and time. For her upcoming dentist appointment, which usually makes her very anxious, she prayed that God would give her peace and that His presence would be felt during her appointment. "In other words," she said, "I now pray a pre-emptive prayer for God's blessings on situations I know are coming." What a difference, she said, this has made on her overall attitude and sense of peace.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Jonah 2:1, "Then Jonah prayed." He finally prayed after he had run from God, been tossed over board and thrown in the sea, and was swallowed by a large fish. Yes, I guess it was time for Jonah to pray. But why did he not pray before all of this trouble came. At the first request from God to go to Nineveh, the Bible tells us that Jonah ran away from the Lord. What a difference it would have made if he had only run to the Lord in prayer.
I too tend to pray as situations arise. But I'm now determined to make "pre-emptive" prayer a more essential part of my life. I'm sure it will make a difference. Perhaps it will make a difference in your life as well.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.