Religion

Living on Purpose by William Holland

There is a touching story found in John chapter 12 about humble servants love for her Lord. Verse 3 reads, “Then Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Judas managed the finances for the ministry of Jesus and was angry about how the perfume should have been sold and the money used to help the poor. Jesus spoke up and said, “Leave her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor, always you have with you; but me you have not always.” We can picture this scene in our minds as a beautiful example of the importance of having our priorities in the right place. Mary was not intimidated by the criticism of the world because she was mesmerized in the holy aura of God’s presence. She discarded what this realm considered logical and practical and was only concentrating on the revelation of who He was. Her personal relationship with Jesus was her highest calling and nothing was more important than becoming one with Him. This is a glimpse of humility that has made the bold decision to be free from embarrassment and fear and is determined to live and serve God whatever the cost.
Pure and love are not two words that we often connect together because much of what we know about love in this world is not always pure. We are flawed humans and realize that love many times has a slightly twisted angle or ulterior motive. Within our dysfunctions, it’s common to feel that we need to earn someone’s love as we learn how to exchange and trade love in order to receive it. However, the wonder and beauty of God’s love is not based on how much we can do or how well we perform. He loves us with a pure unconditional love which means that even in our worst moments – He loves us just the same. When we receive this revelation of His pure love for us, we are broken and drawn to express our sincere love back to Him through worship. When Jesus was on the cross, we were on His mind and we will forever bow before Him in gratitude. To recognize who He is and to love Him with all of our strength, mind and soul is all that He has ever wanted. What more can He say, what more can He do?
Brother Lawrence, whose 17th century work, “The Practice of the Presence of God” details his determination to re-train his conscience to become so discerning that he considered everything as an opportunity to know and serve Christ. By allowing this concept of awareness to transform who we are, we not only have a wonderful opportunity, but a responsibility to mature into a higher level of spiritual sensitivity. We are learning that the Christian lifestyle is about establishing and maintaining a bond of intimate devotion with God, as we allow our mind and heart to be changed into a reflection of His image. It’s not just about the world watching us sing a song to Jesus, it’s all about us demonstrating His character in our life. Brother Lawrence is quoted, “many times the most powerful sermons are without words.”
If we truly desire more of God, we must choose to deliberately pursue Him. Spending time with Him is how we get to know Him and everyday He patiently waits for us to acknowledge Him and get alone with Him. It is enlightening to discover that the more He is on our mind the more sensitive we are to His voice. When all is said, and done, and we stand before His throne, the amount of our thoughts we allowed Him to occupy will reveal what meant the most to us. The extent we are filled with Jesus depends on how much of our will we surrender to Him. When He is invited to sit on the throne of our heart as Lord, is when the awareness of His presence will become a lifestyle.
This is an excerpt from my new book, “A lifestyle of worship, living in the awareness of God’s presence.” It is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble or you can contact: billyhollandministries.com

Living on purpose with William Holland

Through the winter months, I had been thinking about how I was going to tackle the huge project of replacing our privacy fence in the spring. I have built this type of fence before and those of you that are familiar with this, will understand when I say it is very hard work, especially when you are doing it by yourself. Digging post-holes are not for the faint of heart – ha! I retired in 2014 and have not really been involved with strenuous activity for a while, so when I started tearing down the old fence, I knew the first day this was going to be rough. Yes, there were days I thought about calling a fence company to take over, but to be honest, as I kept going, the better I started to feel. I would start early trying to come up with a game plan for the day, drinking coffee as I contemplated. The weather was cool and it was very peaceful listening to the breeze flowing through the trees and the birds in all their glorious and enthusiastic singing seemed to be encouraging me to keep pressing forward. I finally finished the other day and I am very grateful to be able to mark that from my list and now I can move on to other projects I need to accomplish.
When I was growing up, my dad was a custom home-builder and he taught me a lot about construction. He passed away last year and my mom gave me some boxes of tools that he had saved from the past and I put them in my shop. The other day I was looking for a drill bit and noticed dads old set of bits and as I opened that old familiar yellow plastic box, I remembered the good times we spent working together. The flood of emotions took me by surprise and I just sat down and allowed the memories to roll like I was watching an old movie. My dad was very talented and I was always amazed at his strength and what he could do when it came to building things. He was creative and had an ability to problem solve and was not afraid of hard work. He was respected for his high level of expertise and was definitely a true craftsman.
As I thought about how much I miss him, I was reminded that one day I will see him again. It seems I never really considered how precious my time was with him but now I think what a blessing it would be to hear his voice again. I am sure you feel the same way about your loved ones and how we have a tendency to take for granted they will always be there. We have a small plaque in our house that I walk past everyday which says, “You will never be forgotten although we are far apart – your memories live within me forever in my heart” and how true this is. We have a brief opportunity on this earth to spend time with each other and hopefully to also get to know God, as the Bible declares that for those who are born-again in Christ, death is not the end – but actually the beginning. This gift of eternal life is the best news that has ever been given!
John chapter 14 says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” May you be comforted to know there is a heaven where you can live with God forever and be with your loves ones again. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things will pass away” Revelation 21:4.
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

By guest writer RL Calhoun

I have never met a person who said: “I don’t want to be happy. I just want to be miserable all the time.” Yet, it is all too obvious that real happiness is missing in the lives of most people. It’s like an elusive butterfly. They know it’s there but they simply cannot take hold of it. Happiness continually eludes their grasp.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter we Christians know as the book of Philippians, which has been called appropriately The Epistle Of Joy. In its fourth chapter, Paul listed the key ingredients of a prescription for happy living for every child of God.
In Paul’s words, the first key ingredient is this: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!”
Now there might be things in your life in which you simply can’t rejoice right now. Perhaps you are enduring an affliction or dealing with a problem and it’s a big one. Let’s never forget that God didn’t promise us a rose garden.
In fact, at John 16:33, Jesus said to his first disciples and to all of us who know Him as Lord and Savior: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world”.
One thing we can always do no matter what is taking place in our lives is to rejoice in the Lord and to keep on rejoicing in Him. We can continually rejoice in who He is and what He means to our lives and, when we do, we are going to banish doom and gloom and happiness is going to burst forth upon us.
At Philipians 4:5, we learn that Paul’s second key ingredient is: “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Who do you think is the happier person? Someone who’s in a dither, ready to explode at any moment? Or is it the individual who is gentle, the person who rolls with the punches and is not always in a standby attack mode ready to strike out at someone else?
The answer is obvious. Gentle people just get along better in life than their overwrought counterparts.
When Paul wrote “The Lord is at hand”, I believe he wanted us to understand two facts. First, the Lord sees how we act. He knows when we are gentle and when we are not.
When we are not Christlike, we grieve the Holy Spirit and that stifles the flow of His power in our lives. And, without the power of the Holy Spirit, we cannot minister effectively.
Then again, there is an extremely positive fact that we need to understand by the words “The Lord is at hand”. The Lord never requires us to do what He does not enable us to do. He is at hand in our lives to produce gentleness within us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The third key ingredient in A Prescription For Happy Living is found in verses 4:6 and 4:7. Paul wrote: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ”.
Too often, it is worry that destroys happiness in the lives of Christians. As has been well said, “Worry doesn’t take the trouble out of tomorrow; it steals the happiness from today”. What the Lord wants us all to realize is that, if something is big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about.
When we are up against some seemingly impossible obstacle that is robbing us of joy and happiness, we are to move immediately into the arena of prayer. With thanksgiving in our hearts, we are to declare: “Lord, I praise You that I am an overcomer. I refuse to allow unbelief to reside in my heart.
“I stand on the truth that, with God, nothing is impossible. I cast off worry and I put on trust. I believe your word that says to me that I am always triumphant in Christ.”
When we stand strong in prayer and reject worry, the Lord promises to throw up a garrison of his peace around our lives and, where there is peace, there will be happiness!

RL Calhoun is pastor of New Life Fellowship church in Texas City.

                     William Holland

Living on purpose with William Holland

As a minister, I am always being updated about what is happening in the daily news and  regularly reminded about how the world is falling apart.
I do appreciate the hard work from the news agencies to keep us informed, but we must also realize there needs to be a balance between constantly absorbing what everyone else is doing and concentrating on the life we have been called to live.
While it’s true there are many bad things that happen every minute, we should also remember this does not mean that everyone is a criminal or that the entire world is a valley of death and darkness. There have always been bad people that do evil things but it just seems worse now because the population has grown and with advancing technology we can instantly know what is going on everywhere.
Unfortunately, this constant flood of negative information can overload our emotions and cause fear, anxiety and stress. It is also not a coincidence that technology and anti-depressant medications have grown together.
Years ago, people lived somewhat isolated from the constant bombardment of bad news which by the way gave them much less to be upset and worried about.
The average person was more focused on their family and investing their time working to make sure they had everything they needed. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “there is no substitute for hard work” and I believe the concept of perseverance and determination should be included in our education curriculum.
Excuse me if my views are old school, but playing on a cellphone all day and watching television all night is not the formula for accomplishment. OK, back to our subject.
Another point that we can consider, is there are many decent people that are doing good things. They may not receive the same amount of attention but they are out there. I see this side of the spectrum a little more than the average person because I am in and out of places where these individuals devote their time and resources.
In my small community, I know lots of people that volunteer behind the scenes and are making a huge difference in the lives of others.
Just imagine all the ones that support charitable organizations, those who work in the churches and others who are actively involved in community outreach and then multiply that around the world.
Nonetheless, like I said earlier, we rarely hear about these secret agents that are driven with love and concern and are not afraid to act upon their convictions. To them, I say; Praise the Lord for you!
The old illustration of the glass being half-full or half-empty is a timeless truth.
We have the choice to think negative thoughts or positive thoughts and whichever we choose will have a direct influence on what we do and say.
Do we really want to be known for being the first one to be the bearer of bad news or the one that always declares, “it will never work?”
Do we want to be remembered as someone that has a dark cloud of negativity that follows them everywhere they go? I realize that inquiring minds want to know, but we should not receive pleasure from shocking others with the gory details that will give everyone nightmares.
Being concerned and broken-hearted about a tragedy is one thing, but getting excited about it is dysfunctional. I personally believe the most important act we can do is to begin our day in prayer and ask God to help us be a positive person.
When we take the time the time to connect with God, we are being equipped with His attributes to face the day in a higher state of spiritual awareness.
His divine wisdom and discernment will help us live under His control and prevent us from being influenced by our emotions.
Whether we embrace it or not, a Christian is accountable for what they think, how they act and what they say and it would be a wonderful testimony and would bring glory to God if we would demonstrate His optimistic light of love, hope and encouragement in every situation.
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky where he is a Christian minister and author. Ask for a free copy of his new CD called, “Keeper of my soul” at: billyhollandministries.com
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

In today’s world, it’s common to see people standing on a street corner holding a sign declaring how desperate they are for financial assistance. In our small town, we also have some who walk up and down the streets at all hours of the day and night and, over the years, they have become familiar simply by being continually visible.
Along with others, I have spoken with them and assist them in whatever way possible. Most of them have a place to stay and receive social-security assistance but still need help in many different ways. They suffer from various health problems and dysfunctional family situations but, unfortunately, they are also exposed to harassment as passing motorists honk their horns and laugh at them.
One older gentleman in particular pushes a shopping cart around town and it’s usually filled with empty cans and various items he has found. His skin is weathered and wrinkled and occasionally someone will stop and talk with him and give him a sandwich.
In speaking with him, I discovered that he receives social security and has a modest place to live but he seems to enjoy walking around town and is free to do whatever he wants as long as he is not bothering anyone or causing a problem. We have a number of other colorful characters who do the same thing, reminding us that there are people who live a much different life than we do.
I’m sure there are reasons and circumstances that would explain such people’s individual situations but we are not to look down on or be cruel to those who have experienced a difficult and disappointing life.
Colossians chapter 3 describes the attributes that Jesus hopes we will realize and develop: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, a heart of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; showing patience and understanding, and forgiving one another”.
As a community chaplain and a member of state and local crisis-response teams in Kentucky, I am often involved with people seeking assistance, especially during the wintertime. Our local leaders graciously open the schools and other buildings for emergency warming shelters for the homeless and many restaurants are generous in constantly donating food.
Recently, a new emergency shelter has opened with a vision of serving three meals per day and providing 60 beds, along with washers and dryers where the homeless can maintain their clothes.
My sister Terri, who helps me each year with holiday food boxes for the needy, was taking a tour of this new facility recently with her eight-year-old son Victor, who listened as she was explaining to him about generosity and how important it is to help others.
Suddenly, he spoke up and said: “Mom, maybe the man who pushes that shopping cart around town can find this place”. The room fell quiet. He was trying to process this information and the innocence of a child had connected with having compassion for someone in need.
This story brings a tear to my eye as I think how important it is to teach our children not to take our blessings for granted and how Christ wants us to love and help others.
James chapter two talks about people who are wealthy and those who are poor and refers to respect and attitudes of pride and the way we treat people. The writer explains how easy it is to brag about possessing faith and having pity on those who are suffering while walking away without actually doing anything to bring relief to the situation.
Verse 15 reads: “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you tells them ‘Depart in peace and I hope you find food and shelter’ but does not take action to give them what they need – how is that helping?”
We can use the excuse that people have created their own problems but we have all made mistakes and, if not for the grace of God, where would any of us be?
“And be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for the sake of Christ has forgiven you” – Ephesians 4:32.
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.