Solitude is taking time in a specific place with a deliberate purpose and plan. It is time to ponder and ask questions; it is a place we set aside, discover what we believe and stand for, and develop a plan that is not pressured or forced.
The goal of this time of solitude is to become more authentic. God only made one of you, and you possess unique qualities and purposes. It would be a shame to neglect your uniqueness as you are working to gather appreciation from others, others who do not care.
This solitude is a time of separation from the thoughts, actions, words, and opinions of others. It is time to honestly and humbly evaluate and reevaluate. Take a moral inventory by asking yourself some of the following questions. What are your core beliefs? What do you stand for? Who are you?
Time spent in solitude is not a race; take your time, remain focused but unpressured, and you will find, with God's guidance, that slowly, your resilience, creativity, and authenticity will grow.
This book is the product of this kind of meditative solitude. Most of the verses came to me at night after spending time meditating on the scriptures that appear before each poem.
God has called us to Himself. He has given us all a purpose and a voice. Sadly, most Christians have never found their God-given voice. The enemy has effectively used multiple strongholds to frustrate their growth, kill their purpose, and silence their voice.
A stronghold is a perceived offense that causes us to become self-focused. They are beliefs that weaken or destroy grit. I have divided the various strongholds into the categories of existential strongholds, environmental strongholds, and personal strongholds to aid in understanding. This list addresses most of the strongholds used by the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy. The enemy cannot physically put a brick on your path to stub your toe but can whisper a thought that can cause you to fall off a cliff.
This book is an in-depth evaluation of twenty common strongholds.
As listed in Ephesians 6, God's armor is the faith-sustaining qualities and characteristics essential for building resilience and Godly grit. If we could live without threat or adversity, the armor would not be necessary. The problem is that you cannot avoid all hardship, and much of it, you will not be able to handle it without reliance on the Holy Spirit and relying on God’s armor. If you expect to remain healthy and viable in God’s kingdom, you need to put on His armor daily. You will need to be equipped with honesty, faith, surrender, and ongoing honest self-evaluation. You will need to be living a life of continuing confession, redemption, restoration, reconciliation, and ongoing sanctification. If appropriately equipped, you will find your place in God’s kingdom through service and generosity.
Do you have what it takes to be a warrior? I am not talking about a physical combat warrior but a spiritual warrior who has the strength and stamina to seek God, tear down strongholds, and use their voice. God is looking for men and women who are willing to be His warriors. Most Christians are content just wearing their team colors and cheering from the sidelines. God did not call and equip you to be a casual fan; He called you to be in the game. To be in the game, you will need Godly grit. Godly grit is Holy Spirit infused passion and perseverance. This book explores Godly grit elements, what prevents it from growing, and what can be done to replenish a lost supply. This book is not for someone satisfied with complacency. This book is for someone who sincerely desires to be a disciple of Jesus and reach a hurting world. The world needs an army of God’s people ready and willing to stretch and struggle as they become vessels of God’s love. Is that you?
We live in an age of abundance. We have a wealth of food, distractions, entertainment, possessions, and an overabundance of information. We have all we could need, but we still want more. With all we have, you would think we would also have an abundance of contentment. Instead, we have a wealth of discontentment. It does not matter if you have a lot or have just enough to survive; we all struggle with the same significant issues. Suicide and addiction rates are climbing as we continue to anguish amid our affluence. We struggle with factors that have been the cause of turmoil since the days of the first man, Adam. So, you may be wealthy, or you may be impoverished, you may be famous, or you may feel insignificant. Your status does not matter; we all struggle with the same significant issues. We all wrestle with the pain of feeling isolated and alone. We all struggle with our meaning and purpose. We are all crushed by an awareness of our weakness and how powerless we are where it matters. We all walk under the dark cloud of our mortality as we work hard to deny our eventual demise.We struggle under the weight of emptiness with a felt distance between ourselves and our creator. These are the burdens we all share. These burdens cause unbearable pain and cry out for relief. We now live our lives focused on personal comfort at any cost. We become self-centered and self-protective. Our actions only increase our awareness of our isolation, meaninglessness, powerlessness, frailty, and emptiness. So, we push and strive even harder. We treat obstacles as offenses and become bitter in our relentless striving for comfort. As we reach out for support, what we get in return is misery. This overwhelming misery is experienced emotionally and physically and does not have a successful psychological or medical cure. So, what is the answer to this plague of despair?When God created Adam, He placed him in a world He defined as being very good. With the breath of God, Adam awoke with a body and a spirit. Adam was different from the rest of the animals. Adam possessed the image of God. Somewhere in the intricate sequencing of humanities’ DNA is the original God-breathed image. This image has the capacity for intimate, meaningful relationships with God and fellow man. This image was made for beneficial work that has meaning and purpose. Work that would be fulfilling. The image also has a capacity for creativity and power. It can accomplish a plan with a purpose. This image was made to be immortal with the full awareness and appreciation of eternity. The understanding of death was not part of this image. This image also fostered a thorough knowledge that man was more than a physical being. A man was also a spiritual being, and within that spiritual part is where access to contentment existed. Adam was complete, as God intended, his body and his spirit were alive and well. But, like all men since, Adam wanted more. He turned his back on God and, in the process, opened the door for humanity's ongoing struggles. Since that time, man has been living with a fractured image. The image was to be our glory but has become the source of our anguish.In our anguish and turmoil, there is some good news. God has provided a path of reconciliation so we can live today as God originally intended. We do not have to remain stuck in the mud of relentless misery.
Bitterness is the internalization and personalization of a perceived injustice with a persistent and intense rumination about the injustice or the agent of the perceived injustice, resulting in more damage caused by the bitterness than could ever be caused by the injustice. You may have suffered some horrible abuse and feel your bitterness has merit. Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse is never justified. Civil society needs strong laws with harsh penalties for abusers. If you have suffered abuse, you do not have to live out the rest of your life defined by the abuse. Abuse is a legless, hungry tiger growling on the other side of the room. Bitterness gives that tiger legs and claws, so now it can tear you to shreds. Do not allow your bitterness to give destructive power the abuse. When I first began this journey to write about bitterness, I naively thought it would be a simple task. Bitter people are victims, victims of their own making, imprisoned by their own hands. Working as a family physician for four decades, I have seen lives destroyed by many agents. I have witnessed cancer taking the life of the young, heart disease kill people in their prime, and addiction rob the lives of many. Of all these agents of destruction, none compare to the devastating impact of bitterness. Bitterness will turn the wise into fools, the wealthy into beggars, and the delightful into the disgusting. Bitterness will steal your wealth, your health, and at times, your life. I thought it would be a simple matter of just stating the evils of bitterness, sound a loud warning, and I could then move on to another topic. My simplistic view may be of help to someone who is not bitter, but it has no value to those who are already bitter. Bitterness tosses away reason and makes the bitter person both blind and deaf. If it is possible to help someone caught in bitterness, we must look behind the scenes and address the causes of bitterness. This journey led me to explore the roots of bitterness, and the actions, directions, thoughts, and beliefs of someone who is bitter. The bitter feel they need more to feel complete, and this led to an exploration of greed and self-centeredness. If greed and self-centeredness are behind bitterness, then what is the cause of greed and self-centeredness? This awareness led to a path where only the brave dare venture, an exploration of spiritual emptiness. There is no adequate medical or psychological treatment for the misery produced by greed-fueled bitterness. Some therapies will lessen the pain of the misery, but they are not a cure. The only effective remedy is spiritual. If you are living in a pond of misery, you are also bitter. No life circumstance can cause you misery without you being bitter. You will need to address the bitterness if you hope to escape the misery. So if you are not bitter, I hope the strong warning to avoid bitterness like the poison it is will be sufficient to keep you on the right path. If, on the other hand, you are bitter, and living in misery, then I pray you will have the courage to read on and allow God to guide you out of the hell of bitterness.
Are you struggling with an addiction? Do you have a loved one struggling with an addiction? What are the weapons that we need to fight this beast? Addiction is enslaving and killing our young people, devastating families, overstressing first responders and emergency room staff, and financially draining limited healthcare dollars. Addiction is a monster that needs to be understood and contained. Only when you know what it looks like and how it behaves will you have a chance of getting it into an appropriate cage.The field of addiction and addiction treatment is controversial. Much of the controversy is present because of philosophical differences and the feeling that treatment is often unsuccessful. There are many caring and well-meaning people who work in addiction treatment, but all of their efforts are barely scratching the surface of the immense problem. Honestly, we are losing the battle. There are three general approaches to addiction and its treatment with the adherents to those positions adamant about their belief. The three groups are; abstinence-based, recovery-based, and harm-reduction. Each group holds on tenaciously to their philosophy and methodology. Addiction is a disease of comfort-seeking. It is not a disease of drug-seeking. The addict seeks comfort as a cure for discomfort. The discomfort comes from the experience of pain and anguish. There are numerous causes of intense pain and anguish that can lead to or reinforce an addiction. We need to understand the pain if we hope to understand the power behind the addiction. The first part of this book looks at several of the more common sources of human misery and anguish. Pain and agony are very personal, and it is crucial to view the individual struggling with addiction as suffering, even if they are obnoxious or have criminal tendencies.How are we to treat those suffering from addiction? How do we know what boundaries are appropriate? As people of faith, how should we view this devastating condition? I have struggled with these issues for the last four decades as a family physician and, most recently, as an addiction medicine specialist. What does it look like to provide compassionate care? What role does my faith play in helping a struggling patient? What can you do for a friend or family member who is struggling with an addiction? Is there hope?
When was the last time you were overcome and cried; I cannot handle it! It is all this stress! If I just had less stress, I would be able to survive! Or when was the last time a well-meaning, but an uncaring friend told you, “if it doesn’t kill you, it will only make you stronger?” But what about those times when it felt like the stress might kill you? Stress can and will hurt you in many ways. It can hurt you physically. Stress can lead to increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Stress can hurt you emotionally. Stress can cause chronic anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a nervous breakdown. Stress can hurt you socially. Stress can destroy relationships, be the cause of family conflict, be a significant factor in a divorce, and lead to cultural clashes and war. Stress can hurt you financially. It is tempting to try to spend your way out of a stressful situation or gamble away what you have in an attempt to lessen financial stress. Stress can lead to addictions or obsessions that eventually only create more stress. You can not improve your ability to deal with stress through food, drugs, alcohol, excessive work, gambling, gaming, or increased screen time. Uncontrolled stress is a monster!Would you like to be less controlled by destructive stress? Would you like to get stronger even in stressful times? Yes, stress is a potent force, and if given a chance, it will kill you. Stress is also uncontrollable and unpredictable. We would love to have the superpower ability to eliminate the destructive stress coming our way, but that will never happen. No matter how wise and strong you are, you will never be able to hide from stress. Stress is universal; you will face some form of it today. You will never know how significant or what variety, but you will encounter stress today. Be prepared! You cannot alter your environment to eliminate stress, but if you know what to look for, you can be ready to deal with it effectively. To get a handle on stress, we must understand what it is and then what strategies are adequate to deal with it. Practical approaches to control stress differ based on the cause of the stress. In this book, I explore what I have observed in the lives of thousands of patients to be the five primary sources of stress and some valuable stress management strategies.
It may sound just a little crazy, but embracing boredom will enrich your life. As a modern society, we avoid boredom like the plague. Boredom is painful. Boredom is an idle, restless discomfort, and a vacant, empty mind craves distraction. Yes, it might be uncomfortable but do not run from it or try to drown it in endless meaningless activities or shallow thought. Do you want your life to have meaning? Do you wish to exercise your creativity? Do you want to love and be loved? Don’t let fear limit your questions and constrict your life as you drown in a sea of self-soothing digital-distraction. Put your smartphone away. Turn off the television and unplug your computer. Learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and ponder difficult issues. You need to embrace boredom to free up your thinking. If you run from boredom, you will quickly lose your ability to think. It will be uncomfortable, but it will be worthwhile. Boredom is not your enemy; it is your awkward friend.Every soul has a cellar, a place of repressed insults and offenses, a cold, dark storage shed of disappointment, and unresolved anguish. We want this cellar to be an out-of-sight storage container in another state, but in reality, it is something we carry with us everywhere we go. If you choose to disregard what is in your cellar, it will eventually rise and hurt you. It may take time, but ultimately, it will show up as anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, despair, or any of many other self-destructive misery factors. Embrace boredom by thinking about meaningful things, gratitude, forgiveness, creativity, problem-solving, and personal growth.Ponder and write down your musings, and write a gratitude journal.You owe it to yourself to ponder. Pondering will enrich your life.Boredom is a mental stew made with a dash of loneliness, a cup of felt meaninglessness, a sprig of powerlessness, a scent of mortality in a pot of spiritual emptiness. If you expect to live a full and meaningful life, you will need to be willing to wander into the swamp of boredom and take some time to ponder essential life issues. Without this pondering, you will scramble for the next distraction, unable to find meaning or purpose, unable to love or recognize when you are loved. If you live in fear of the darkness of boredom, it will leave you feeling even more alone and isolated.
What do you experience if you miss your morning coffee, your morning cigarette, or prematurely run out of your pain medication? Why are these chemicals so addictive? Do you have a loved one struggling with an addiction? Are you struggling with an addiction?
Addiction is enslaving and killing our young people, devastating families, overstressing first responders and emergency room staff, and financially draining limited healthcare dollars.
Addiction is a monster that needs to be understood and contained.
Only when you know what it looks like and how it behaves will you have a chance of getting it into an appropriate cage.
Addiction is a disease of comfort-seeking. If I had the power to remove one phrase from the medical vocabulary, it would be the phrase, “drug-seeking behavior,” this phrase should be replaced with the more accurate, “comfort-seeking behavior.” The addict seeks comfort as a cure for the discomfort of their pain and anguish.
Scientists in the field of neurobiology have made significant recent advances. This short book provides a brief description of the science of addiction and why some of these chemicals, like sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, opioids, cocaine, Ecstasy, Kratom, and methamphetamine, are so addictive.
I hope that an awareness of the power that these chemicals possess will increase the reader's respect for them. These chemicals can rob you of all you value, and before you realize it, destroy your life.