For This Very Reason…

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2 Peter 1: 1-7…”His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption of the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”

2016 was a spectacular year for me. Not many in the court of public opinion share that sentiment, but that was my experience nonetheless. I started the year with a burning desire to build this devotional blog globally. My intentions were good but my underlying motivation was wrong. My previous blog, a politics and war opinion forum, spread to well over 100 nations across the world with zero effort by me to make it happen. It just did. To this day, I still get hits on it all over the world from articles on everything from the Soviet Gulag to ISIS. It won’t die. I figured if I could do that with subjects I hated with every bit of my passion, then God would spread a devotional blog where all my loving heart was on display to even greater heights. By the end of 2016 it had spread to 25 nations and every continent on earth except Antarctica. I don’t think any one lives there. But something didn’t feel right, and God put a muzzle on me the second half of the year. The blog went dark. Even so, already in 2017 we have views from 4 countries just checking if there is anything new. Brazil, South Africa, Canada and the good ol’ USA. Let’s turn the lights back on.

The thing that wasn’t right was the position from which I was writing from. I never write from arrogance, but I was attempting to write from the standpoint of teacher, and God gently explained to me…1. I’m not ready for that. 2. Teachers hold a position of high responsibility in spiritual matters, and that I had better make sure I was ready for the consequences if I failed. I was basically given the option of – A. Shut up and learn. B. Face another painful rebuke. I chose – A. If you’ve never experienced a rebuking by the spirit, trust me, it’s much easier to just go where you’re told to go. The good shepherd swings that staff roughly if he has to. So, I dove myself back deeper into learning his ways. What a year it turned out to be. I was shown so much majesty I’d never be able to convey it all back to readers. That picture above this piece? That was taken back in the fall in the mountains of North Carolina. God hauled me up yet another big hill and let my eyes feast upon the very best of creation. He did that a great deal for me in 2016. He even took me to another grand hill, this time in Scotland,  where he showed me the very origins of my name and heritage, and to top it all off, “hugged” me with a huge burst of wind as I finished praying to him looking over his majestic vista. God was filling his child with good things.

Peter tells us in the above scripture not to just rest on the gift of salvation, but instead because of it, make every effort to use the freedom of existence without shackles, to transform our earthly life to meet up with our eternal one. Fill with good things, and when we do, we set forth on our destined path that leads to all those things being added to us. Eventually, we meet God, which = Love. Not any earthly definition of love. Actual, real, pure and holy goodness…Love. That is the final destination for those that belong to him, and we aren’t required to wait for it. We only must begin walking on the right path. God put me on that path. I’m still plodding along. If I had to mark my progress, I’m somewhere in the land of learning self-control while still gaining knowledge that will see me past that landmark. It’s fearful to let go of the world. Honestly, I’ve never met many earnestly aware that’s what they are attempting to do. I know a few and that’s it. We fail many of the tests, but our knowledge continues to increase as we fine tune where we went wrong and adjust. In the same way any other great thing was built – by trial and error. I have to state…God has been SO gentle with me this time. It’s not at all like it was when he had to conk me over the head to get my full attention. He knows that I know when I’m screwing up, lightly prods me in the side when needed, and lovingly whispers encouragement in my ears. I don’t know if this gentleness will remain for all of the walk, but I sure hope so. Either way, whether by staff to the head, or gentle encouragement in the ear, I will keep walking his walk until I get to him. I believe I can write again. Just not as a teacher, but instead, a brother sharing his experiences and things I’ve learned on the path. A guide. Maybe a funny looking Sherpa. There is but one teacher and his name is not mine.

Where are you on your walk? Are your feet even moving in the right direction? If not, the first and only place to start looking as to what went wrong is what you are filling your existence with. Where is your passion being funneled? We all get trapped in and by the world. It’s 100% guaranteed. Do you have the knowledge to get out of the traps? Has the staff pulled you out of those deep holes? You know whom you must call to for help.

For this very reason, start filling your life with goodness. “The Bible” has been mocked into cartoon like silliness by the world. But there’s grand reason the world does that…those are living words from the creator directly to you and Mr. World knows that. That silly book is life itself. It’s your passport to eternity. Start reading one psalm and one chapter of proverbs daily, and pray the Lord’s Prayer on your knees afterwards. Watch what happens.

See you on the path.

Your Brother,

Gary Abernathy

 

 

 

 

 

Giving Encouragement

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2 Timothy 1:7…”For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

A transforming Christian straddles a line between reality and our own lives, and the ever-increasing “power” within us that places us in another reality able to see and feel the needs of other souls. Timothy speaks to this in this line of scripture that in the larger picture, is him giving encouragement to his faithful. The chapter’s final paragraph begins with the words…“You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygeius and Hermogenes.” (2 Timothy 1:15). He doesn’t care. He’s offering praise to the loyal. He knew his destination and mission.

That confidence in knowing only comes from the Holy Spirit. Once it is present within us, we have access to that confidence and the unlimited powers of creation that are required for what is asked of us. I’m a content writer for a well-known family website. I’ve had that platform for several years now and it reaches large audiences of specifically men, but entire families. I did not pursue it…instead it chose me. It’s a tremendous responsibility given mostly anonymously. There is no personal glory. There are no riches. No stepping stones to further gain. Just the platform of – teacher. To be a teacher of Godly things is a dangerous path. James warns us about this in the following scripture: James 3:1…”Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” That warning lays heavy on me when I write. Am I adding to his word? Am I subtracting? Am I misleading? Is this right…is it wrong? Constant questions in my head. Hesitation has become my instinct in maturity, replacing the ignorant eagerness to speak my mind quickly and fully. Yet, I have the confidence of the Spirit inside of me that leads me forward.

I’ve written hundreds of articles on family. One that is currently up on that site is about what a child of divorce needs from their dad. It was impressed on me to write that article and it’s had a large readership. It was written from the perspective of the child that gets blurred out by the war raging between the parents. I read a comment this morning from a dad who wrote simply under the article…”Sure seems hopeless sometimes.” I found his sentence to be the perfect reaction to what he had read and why I was led to craft it. Why? Because he realized the enormous depth of emotion and consequence actually taking place, which is what my work attempted to convey to the reader. In 700 words or less, which is nearly impossible. Nothing is impossible with the power of the Spirit. He got it. He reacted. Now he’s thinking. Now he knows. Hopeless? I don’t think he believes that or he wouldn’t have used the word…seems. He knows how to proceed. I gave the instruction. His issue will be if he does what he must do for his children. Live selfless to his responsibility. I taught…will he listen?

To give him encouragement, I wrote below his sentence that I had prayed for him. Which I did. I never say that without actually sincerely doing it. To give encouragement I’ve come to believe is our chief obligation as “lights.” The picture above was taken by me on a trail where I had stopped to rest. I fashioned a simple cross out of twigs as I caught my breath and left it behind for eyes I’ve never met. Encouragement. I was led to do that. Why…only the Spirit knows. Are you a teacher? Do you instruct? Are you a parent? A husband? Wife? Child? There is an honor, integrity and responsibility placed upon us. To fulfill it, mostly, we are to simply…encourage. Just as Timothy did to his faithful in this scripture.

“If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it – young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous – is changed by it.” John C. Maxwell.

Gary Abernathy