Religion

Living on purpose with William Holland

We are all growing older. Thanks a lot, right? I realize that many will think this is not a very optimistic or positive thought but, nonetheless, it is a reality. I could have gone all day without hearing that; however, as with other topics, this too has a certain amount of accountability attached to it that can make a huge difference between dreading the future and maintaining
a healthy and positive attitude.
Recently, I could not help but notice a picture of Stan Lee on the front cover of a magazine, and was amazed at how great he looks for 94 years old. He is no doubt enjoying the fruits of his labors from creating fictional characters such as The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Spider Man, just to name a few.
Amazingly, he is still creating new figures, creatures and comic books and, of course, providing the inspiration for an endless supply of highly successful super-hero movies.
As I continued reading about Mr Lee, it appears that his highly active imagination gives him the energy and excitement that fuels his relentless work ethic. He does not entertain the retirement mentality because his imagination provides him with a continual supply of enthusiasm and motivation.
I am in and out of nursing homes every week and know several men and women in their nineties who will astound you with their outward appearance as well as their very sharp minds. I always ask about their secret to enjoying a long life and the common reply is that hard work made them tough.
I have also noticed that most of them keep busy and have certain activities to which they look forward. As with Stan Lee, we notice that people who are active, whether physically or mentally, seem to possess a built-in optimistic anticipation that motivates them to keep pushing forward.
Older people who are still mentally strong are keenly aware of current and future events. They keep up with what is happening and have their own opinions, which
is a healthy form of independence and inspiration.
May we keep a tight grip on our faith in God and focus on positive thoughts that can increase our awareness and help keep us young at heart. Frank Lloyd Wright once said: “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes”.
I cannot overemphasize how important it is to retain hope and faith in order to retain a positive attitude for the future. If we lose our expectation that good things are coming just around the next corner, we will have nothing joyful to live for and will become vulnerable to falling into a state of negativity and discouragement.
I have heard throughout my life that you are as young as you feel and I can say that some days I still have a pep in my step, for which I am grateful.
One tip that I will pass on to readers who are now being given “senior discounts” is the benefits of walking. My wife and I walk around the neighborhood in the evenings and I am amazed at how good I feel once we get going.
Stretching the legs, relaxing and taking a breath of fresh air can do wonders for the body and mind. Deuteronomy 34:7 tells us: “Moses was 120 years old when he passed away. His eyesight was not impaired and he was still vigorous and robust.”
As we become more mature, another great idea is to stay in contact with family and friends. It’s good to explore new adventures, to write letters, visit acquaintances, attend church and other types of event and make some lasting memories with those we care about.
Maintaining a hobby is another excellent idea that can help keep us mentally, physically and spiritually stimulated.
Raising a small flower or vegetable garden is a wonderful activity that not only gives us some physical exercise; watching something grow can also invigorate us with expectation and a sense of appreciation from day to day.
I like this quote from Betty Friedan: “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength”.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

Living on purpose with William Holland

One day at the beginning of the month, I was sitting in my office on a dreary afternoon, tapping on the keyboard and listening to the rain blowing against the window. The house is quiet during the day as my writing routine commonly includes both of our dogs sprawled out on the hardwood floor snoring contently around my desk.
Then it suddenly dawned on me – the 14th of the month would be the fortieth Valentine’s Day my wife and I have shared together. I sat back and pondered about our also upcoming wedding anniversary and how very happy I am to share this milestone with the one I love.
I am confident that Mrs Holland feels the same way but might be a little self-conscious as I blow the trumpet about us being together for four decades. Nevertheless, it has been amazing so far and throughout both the hard times and the good times.
We are truly blessed.
Familiarity is a slow-growing deception that causes us to take people for granted and, in the realm of marriage, it is one of the main reasons why couples become distant from each other.
Readers who have been married for a while can surely relate when I say that holidays and other celebrations – especially Valentine’s Day – gradually lose a little of their sparkle and excitement and I guess it’s partly from a combination of getting older and becoming more familiar with your mate.
For example, when we are newlyweds, the flowers, gifts, candy and going out to eat at a restaurant seem like a magical fairytale. It is so exciting just to be together, gazing into each other’s eyes and hardly thinking of anything else.
But, as the years pass by, the newness seems to wear off and now, after a hard day’s work, it’s mutually agreed that a peanut-butter sandwich, a candy bar and watching Wheel Of Fortune is plenty of excitement to celebrate the occasion.
Whatever happened to all the hugging and holding hands?
Have you noticed how the first years of marriage are filled with a series of three little words like “I love you” and “You are beautiful” and then, after a few years, they evolve into “Toilet seat down” and “Need more Advil”?
When we were younger, we didn’t know the meaning of tired and now we become giddy about taking a Sunday-afternoon nap. Nonetheless, it’s a comfort to know that the person who shares our couch with us every night is there because they love us and enjoy being with us.
As Valentine’s Day is part
of a week dedicated to love, let us embrace the moment and think about the one who stole our heart. There is no need
to wait for a certain day of the year to express our romantic feelings as we can surprise our beloved with our affection all through the year.
The point is that it’s important to let our spouse know we are thinking about them and we appreciate them. We assume that they already know we love them, and they do, but there’s nothing wrong with showing our love more often.
By the way, we are not guaranteed how many years we will have with our spouse, which is another reason to cherish all the moments we have together.
We can also turn to the Bible as a wonderful source of wisdom on this subject, as it reminds us of our responsibility to honor our vows. As we lit the unity candle, we made a pledge that having God at the center of our marriage would bond us together and should always be our highest priority.
We do not need to be a marriage counselor to come up with a few ideas that can improve our relationship with our spouse. It’s not the price or intrinsic value of what is given at this time of year but rather the genuine sincerity of why we are giving it.
I would prefer to have someone give me a Reese’s peanut-butter cup while telling me how much they love me than to receive elaborate expensive gifts out of obligation. Let us remember that God is love and that having constant communication with Him and our mate is not an option if we desire to maintain a close relationship with both of them.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

Living on purpose with William Holland

As a chaplain for an armed-service veterans’ healthcare facility, I meet a lot of interesting former military men and women on a regular basis. I facilitate Bible studies and lead worship services for these heroes throughout the week and really enjoy my private conversations with them.
Recently, I had the privilege to spend some time with a man named Tony who is a Vietnam veteran. He suffers from the effects of agent orange and recently lost both legs from diabetes and the use of his left arm to a stroke. I listened intently as he shared the details of his very interesting life, which included being adopted.
Statistics reveal that more than 100,000 children are adopted in this country every year. With all the difficult situations that families face, it is encouraging to know that there are many sincere men and women who reach out with compassion and are willing to love a child as their own.
Tony was very young when he was adopted by a loving Christian couple who could not have children and he grew up as their only child. His new dad was a military man and Pearl Harbor survivor and his new mom was so excited to have a child of her own.
Tony had a wonderful middle-class upbringing but, while everything seemed normal, he always had a strange feeling that something was not quite right. When he was 14, his parents finally revealed they had adopted him. They also surprised him with news that he had two brothers and a sister but said they did not know their names or where they were.
He then recalls his classmates taunting him about his adoption and saying that he would never be worth anything, which gave him low self-esteem and a negative outlook on life.
As an adult, he would often think of his siblings and, even though he could not remember them, he had a special place for them in his heart. After doing some intense investigating, he finally obtained the name of a man who had been a neighbor and friend of his real mother and father.
Tony arranged to meet the former neighbor and learned that his mother had given birth to his elder brother when she was only 12 years old and his father was in his early thirties. She bore Tony when she was 14, a year later another son and, by the time she was 17, she had four children, with the last one being a little girl.
Sadly, Tony’s parents had been alcoholics and drug addicts and abused their children in horrible ways, including burning them with cigarettes. The state removed the children in 1954, when Tony was only three years old, and they were split up, with each being adopted by a different family. Now he was determined more than ever to find his siblings.
With more research, he learned that both of his parents had passed away and that his elder brother had been killed in a motorcycle accident. He was able to track down his younger brother and sister and called them, crying as talked to both of them on the phone. They set up a meeting and, when they were finally united, it was such a joyous occasion and Tony was amazed at how much they all shared in common.
He learned how adoptees take a chance when they begin searching for their family because they might not like what they find. However, he emphasizes that it is worth the psychological risks and believes it can bring healing and closure, along with answering many important questions. Today, when he sees parents with their children, he imagines what it would have been like to grow up with his siblings and says he hopes that all parents will embrace the responsibility to allow love to preserve and protect their children.
We are reminded that our Heavenly Father has spiritually adopted all of his children and loves us all so very much. It is comforting to know that, as children of God, we will always all be members of his family and that nothing will ever separate us from his love.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

Living on purpose with William Holland

It is spiritually reassuring to know that we are not alone in this world. Our gracious heavenly Father has promised his children that He is interested in even the tiniest occurrences in our life and has promised to be with us always.
Matthew chapter six mentions how He knows what we need before we even ask Him. This spiritual insight brings comfort and peace to our souls as we realize that God is constantly aware and always concerned about us.
I was teaching a Bible study the other day and closed with a song called God Will Take Care Of You. I love this old hymn and its simple yet profound message of security and assurance. In these troubling times, we know the world is changing and many people are very worried about where it’s heading.
As many folks are hoping our nation can become great again, whatever that means, let us agree that our highest priority should be to follow God’s voice. When mankind listens only to his own dreams and imaginations, there is always a lack of true contentment and security.
As Christians, we cannot afford to be saturated with doubt and negativity but rather need to realize that, when we try to hold our frustrations and problems, it will only increase our fear and anxiety. God loves us and desires to deliver us from stress and discouragement in order that we might live in peace.
Our spiritual armor is described in the sixth chapter of Ephesians and, in particular, verse 16 mentions about the shield of faith that offers protection against the different types of evil arrows and attacks from the enemy. This is not to say we will not be involved in warfare but at least we can be prepared.
The reality of having a defensive barrier is truly a blessing but, for it to be activated, we need to understand that it is our responsibility to believe it and incorporate it into our daily walk.
Is there more to this shield? Another aspect is developing the discernment to recognize a spiritual ambush and then asking for wisdom to know how to deal with it.
I believe today’s constant bombardment of information is another type of attack that is overwhelming our mind and causing us to be distracted from our mission. The strategy of the dark side is to keep us twisted in knots and spinning around in circles with panic and confusion. As we discover how to avoid negativity and manage our time more wisely, we can learn not only how to survive but also how to thrive!
I Peter 5:7 says: “Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you”. Here we see a loving and compassionate God calling us to come and give Him our worries. We can bring these heavy weights of concern and anxiety to Jesus today as we humbly and simply trust Him.
Matthew chapter 11 declares: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. A yoke is a device that connects horses or oxen to a wagon in order for them to pull the wagon. God is explaining here that He never intended for us to pull our wagon of worries by ourselves but rather to give it to Him.
Being critical and negative has never helped anything, as listening and speaking are two different skills. God is the almighty, all-powerful ruler of the universe and has more than enough authority and power to manage the world He created. He promises that, by faith, we can release our fears and stress through prayer and worship and be refreshed and renewed, enabling us to once again enter the race and continue our mission.
Jesus is waiting to restore the joy of your salvation today as you consider that He is only a prayer away: “Come unto Me, all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest for your souls” – Matthew 11:28-29.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

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Living on purpose with William Holland

The presidential election has caused a lot of stress and frustration, to say the least. Each campaign relied on the same strategy of trying to intentionally scare and convince voters about what would happen if the other candidate took office – and to some degree both sides had a valid point.
Sadly, during the campaign it was reported that both candidates were more strongly disliked than any nominees in the past ten presidential cycles. For voters – and others – who believe in praying for God’s will to be accomplished and the importance of submitting to governing authority, the 2016 election has left many wondering if the best person actually won.
Whatever your worldviews, the Lord wants to encourage you today with hope and joy about who He is! In the sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus teaches that there is no need to feel anxious or fearful. He has the ability to see the future and has always known the hostile atmosphere with which every generation would be dealing.
We are spiritual creatures but the problem is that we are also heavily influenced by our emotions. Christ said: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.
“Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
The idea here is to simply trust Jesus. When we realize our weakness and sincerely believe He is in control, we can rest in the peace of his presence. His message continues: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself and has its own share of troubles.”
Yes, we live in a time of concern but, if we allow ourselves to become despaired and discouraged about the political system, we are certainly not helping our blood pressure and our negative attitude can actually cause us to become bitter and miserable.
The problem with being overly focused on negative events that “might” happen is that we lose focus on the positive and definite things we could be doing. Fighting and stressing about who sits in the oval office will not change what happened; however, if we can direct our attention to the real purpose why we are here, which is to pray and seek God’s face, we can continue being spiritually effective for his glory.
From a Christian perspective, let us consider that Jesus never ran for office even though the political atmosphere in his day was also aggressive and at the center of attention. It was not that He was uninformed or did not care about society but rather that He simply chose to not allow politics to distract Him from his mission – and so should we.
Jesus had no intention of becoming a political candidate, nor was He seeking votes, but his agenda has always been devoted to searching for the hearts of those who would believe in Him. His message relays that government is not our highest priority but, instead, emphasizes that our focus should be our relationship with God and reflecting the light of his love.
The Jewish people were hoping Jesus would step forward as their king, who would establish Heaven on Earth and deliver them from the political stronghold of the Roman empire. However, He was trying to teach them – and us today – how to live as spiritual citizens of Heaven while also functioning in this earthly realm at the same time.
This is not easy but, when men and women allow God to transform their minds and souls, we see love, peace and compassion flourish.
The condition of the world is a direct result of the way humans think and act. True greatness has nothing to do with wealth or influence but has everything to do with the spiritual foundation upon which we are building our life.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.