Sony’s Thoughts: Looking Forward

It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone. I’ve been trying to figure out where 2010 went but I’ve given up searching and am already looking toward 2011. I don’t know what it will hold but I’m sure it will be like most years: full of joys and sorrows, laughter and tears but mostly full of the awareness that there is a God, He holds the world in His hands, and He is going to take care of His people. My responsibility is to keep my eyes on Him and know that nothing in this world can harm me for I’m sheltered in the arms of God!

I don’t know what last year was like for you and I don’t know if you’re full of anticipation or dread for the coming one but I do know that, although we may not know the future, God does, and He has promised to never leave or forsake us. He’s also promised that His grace is sufficient and that His strength is made perfect through our weakness.

Therefore, I eagerly look forward to seeing what God does this next year. With the shape that our country’s in and the financial instability our country experiencing, it can be scary at times but I’m trusting God to lead and guide and give grace where needed. Nothing can happen without His approval and He will only do what’s best for me. He’ll do the same for you.

A couple things I’m asking God for is to make me more compassionate and more in tune with His Spirit. I want to be used of Him more than ever before. I want to encourage others to keep fighting this never ending battle because one day we will see Jesus. If nothing else, each year that passes brings us closer to that day. And I look forward to finally getting to meet each of you and hearing how you came to meet the God I love.

May you have a blessed 2011 and may you continue to grow in the love and grace and knowledge of God.

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Sony’s Thoughts: Unfathomable Love

He left the splendor of Heaven knowing His destiny
Was the lonely hill of Golgotha, there to lay down His life for me

I find myself often longing for Heaven–a place where there is no sorrow or dying or pain. There are no goodbyes, no bills to pay, and no evictions. Doesn’t that sound like paradise to you? As I was reflecting on Christ’s birth the other day, it hit me with greater force that the place that I long to go to get away from the stresses of earth is the very place Christ dwelt before choosing to come face the hardships of earth so that we could one day have a better life.

I now know what Dottie Rambo must have realized when she wrote:

If that isn’t love, the ocean is dry
There’s no stars in the sky and the sparrow can’t fly

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Emphasis is often put on Christ’s death as proof of His love but I’d say the minute He chose to come to earth, He was in essence giving up the paradise He knew to join in our life here and that in itself is love unfathomable.

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Sony’s Thoughts: Don’t Forget Jesus

Christmas is approaching and, for those who haven’t finished their shopping, this could prove to be a hectic, stressful week. It’s interesting to me that, at a time where we sing about “peace on earth,” some places are anything but peaceful. If ever there is a time to shine with the love of Jesus, this should be it. Don’t lose sight of the Reason we celebrate. We know that Christmas is not about gifts but we often act like it is. More time is put into shopping, wrapping, and opening than is put into reflecting on Jesus, His coming to earth, and His love for us. Thoughts of Him should make us love Him and, if our hearts are full of love for Him, we won’t be scowling, rude, stressed or depressed.

As you do last minute shopping and Christmas preparations, consciously turn your focus to God. Thank Him for blessing you to allow you to buy gifts for your loved ones. Pray that He will guide you in your purchases, and trust Him if you can’t find the gift that you thought was the perfect one. Maybe there’s something better you haven’t yet thought of.

Remember: Christmas isn’t about the gifts, the food, or even the family. It’s about Jesus who has blessed us with every good and perfect gift just because He loves us. Now THAT is something to celebrate!

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Sony’s Thoughts: Draw Me Nearer

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice
And it told Thy love to me
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee

An occasional encounter with Jesus is just not enough. I long to walk with Him constantly, feeling His presence and knowing He’s holding my hand. He is my #1 love, the reason I sing, the One who gives me joy in the midst of uncertainty. How I love Him but I know I would be incapable of loving if not for the love that He poured out on me.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “too Heavenly minded to be any earthly good” but I would say we can’t be any earthly good unless we’re Heavenly minded. I’ve yet to meet the person who is too focused on the Lord that he’s neglecting to be a Light on the earth. If anything, it’s our closeness to God which empowers us to be the witness for Him that this world needs.

Don’t be satisfied with a mediocre relationship–one in which you talk occasionally in order to present your requests to God. Draw near to Him daily, and Scripture has promised that He will in turn draw near to you. As you draw closer to Him, you will sense His presence and you will experience peace. You may even find yourself smiling more as you realize how much He loves you. He desires to be near you but He’s waiting on you. Won’t you take the first step today?

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Sony’s Thoughts: Don’t Stop Being Thankful

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and, for most of us, we go back to work tomorrow morning. This is generally the point where life goes on as usual, complaining about work or what life bring us and we forget that we just had a day of feasting and family and Thanksgiving. How quickly we forget. Maybe that’s why Scripture often tells us to “remember” and “don’t forget.” For some reason, so many people stay focused on the “now” that they forget what God has done in the past and His promise to “never leave you nor forsake you.”

Don’t be like the Israelites who saw God do so much but, when things began to go in a way other than what they wanted, they quickly began to grumble and complain. How grievous that is to God! He loves us so much and we often do the equivalent of spitting in His face as we refuse to acknowledge His goodness. Thanksgiving should be the essence of everything we do.

For myself, life has not always gone the way I would have chosen. Even this year, there have been things that I haven’t understood and wouldn’t have written for my life but I will tell you that God has been so good to me. He’s never left me and He’s reminded me so many times that I am His precious child and He loves me. How can I complain knowing that His plans for me are good and not evil? He’s “never done me nothin’ but good” and I don’t ever want to lose sight of that!

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Sony’s Thoughts: Random Reflections

There is so much on my mind right now that I’m not sure what to write.  One thing God is reminding me right now is the importance of, not just reading His Word, but meditating on it, truly grasping it. For the Christian, there is no such thing as standing still; we are either moving forward or we’re moving backward. For myself, I can’t afford to go backward. My flesh may not like the growth process but I have no desire to go back to the empty, hopeless life I used to live. I’m no longer a baby in Christ so I press on, expecting God to continue to lead me and guide me and teach me to hear His voice so that I can reflect Him on a daily basis.

I’m also asking God for a lot of wisdom right now. It’s hard for me to see far into the future but God sees and He knows His plans for me and, as we draw nearer to Christ’s return, I know it’s more vital than ever that my relationship with Him is strong and that I’m where He wants me, doing what He wants me to do.

Ken Hagin said that he never memorized Scripture but that the Spirit would always bring Scripture to His mind. God’s been faithful to do that for me too and  I pray He never stops. He knows what I need to read and grasp at which times. May I be faithful to slow down and listen when He speaks. May I not be afraid to step out in faith, knowing that He loves me. He sees my heart and, if my goal is truly to follow and obey Him, serving Him and not myself, He will walk with me, lovingly guiding me when I begin to get my eyes off the goal. What a loving Father I have! May I live each day, purposing to please and glorify Him.

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Sony’s Thoughts: Giving Thanks

The sun is shining, and the weatherman is predicting a high of 55 degrees today. This time of year, that’s a huge blessing. Well, any time the sun shines is a blessing as wintertime can be dreary, at least outside. I’ve heard that depression is more rampant in wintertime, more than likely due to the lack of sunshine and people not being able to disassociate the weather from what they feel inside. I know holidays can also be hard for people who have lost loved ones or who may not have good memories of the days that should bring joy and cheer.

As I think of how quickly Thanksgiving is approaching, my mind constantly wanders toward those things I have to be thankful for. It’s never too early to give thanks and, in fact, it’s something we should be doing all year long. Let’s not wait until November 25 where we dutifully mouth a token thanks for something we’re expected to give thanks for. Let’s really think of everything God’s done for us and how much we really do have to be thankful for. If you truly enter into it, a month won’t be enough time to praise Him.

Thank You, Lord, for being so good to such undeserving people. If You never do another thing for us, we have already been overly blessed.

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Sony’s Thoughts: Happiness vs. Joy

Last night, I started reading a book titled Outrageous, Contagious Joy. One of the questions it said it was going to answer was, “Does God Want You to be Happy?” I was curious to know how he would answer that as I’ve heard people make the comment that He does and they use it to justify all kinds of things. The author’s conclusion to that question is the same as mine. Nowhere in Scripture does it state that God wants us to be “happy.” However, neither does He want us walking around mournful. He desires us to find that complete joy which does not change, even in the midst of trying circumstances.

You see, happiness comes and goes. When things are going our way, we’re on top of the world and, when they’re not, we plummet too quickly into discouragement and despair. It should not be that way for Christians. If we truly believe in a God who created this world we live in and then put us on this planet to fulfill His purposes, it should fill us with joy. You’re not an “accident” or a blob that formed out of nothing. God made you for a reason, and that reason was to tell people about Him and to glorify Him in everything you do.

As you go about your days don’t ask, “Does this make me happy?” Rather ask, “Am I pleasing God?” If you are, your joy will be full and you will have true contentment. Ain’t that what it’s all about anyway?

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Sony’s Thoughts: A Word Fitly Spoken

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the importance of encouragement but it’s still something that burns in my heart. As I see people who are struggling, who need a friend, who are fighting depression, I can’t help but think that, if more of us were quick to give them a kind word or a compliment, it would overturn the negativity in their lives. As the song says, “A kind word never goes unheard but too often goes unsaid.” Why is that?

I think we’ve become too self-focused to notice those around us but often the greatest way to receive the encouragement we need is to pass some encouragement on to others. There’s nothing that brightens my day more than to know I’ve helped to brighten someone else’s. When I don’t think I’m accomplishing that is when I find myself becoming discouraged. Reaching out and getting your focus off yourself really does work.

Ask God who He’s placed in your life to receive encouragement from you. Then don’t be afraid to reach out and fulfill your purpose in that relationship. I guarantee you you will leave that encounter with a spring in your step and a song on your heart as you thank God for His faithfulness.

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Sony’s Thoughts: Down But Not Out

On the last day of the National Quartet Convention, I hurt my leg. I’m still not sure what I did but it seemed like the best thing to do was to keep it up for the most part, walking only when necessary. The following Wednesday, I came down with a sore throat which lasted several days. Since I was “down” anyway, I decided it was a good time to not feel well but I think I learned what it means to be “down but not out.”

When a person is sick or incapacitated for some reason, it seems like there are two options. We can get frustrated and discouraged or we can turn to God and say, “Thank You, Lord, for this time to do nothing but praise You.” For myself, it’s a great reminder to “Be still and know that I am God.” When we’re able to run around, it seems like that’s what we spend our time doing but there’s nothing like sitting in His presence doing nothing but communicating with Him and listening for His voice.

I’m still human and, after a few days of being down, I start to get eager to get back up and running but I’m learning to trust the Lord. Thankfully, God granted me a quick recovery for both my leg and my sore throat but, if He hadn’t, my job would have been to continue to lean on Him and know that He knows what’s best for me. Even when I’m down physically, I don’t have to be out of sorts. It does no good anyway. Being “down” is a great time to rely on God’s peace. He will grant it if we but ask. When we’re down, we can still encourage others and smile at those who are serving us. Don’t let satan win but make a conscious effort to take what he meant for evil and allow God to use it for good.

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