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Faith Fitness – day 2 (Optimism)

This post is part of a series called Faith Fitness – increasing our capacity to believe.  Don’t forget to see the intro, part 1 (Testimony), part 2 (Optimism), and part 3 (Hope).

Thanks for joining me again.  I hope that your finding yourself invigorated by your newfound appreciation for your divine worth.  You are magnificent, and incomprehensibly capable of achieving anything.

Now you’re ready to move on to step two – building up just a little more momentum.  The second exercise in building your capacity to believe and exercise faith is all about optimism.

First, let’s discuss the principle upon which this exercise is based.

Faith and pessimism are antithetical.  You cannot simultaneously be pessimistic and faithful.  The perniciousness of pessimism cripples your ability to hope (a crucial component for active faith), and fills you with a spirit of negativity.

Many people believe that the optimistic can be too much so, forcing them to be unrealistic.  But we need to watch ourselves, for faith is not based on reality, but our hope for things which are not seen.

When Peter sought to walk on water, as long as his eyes focused on Christ he maintained his belief that what he was doing was possible.  But when he cast his eyes toward the waves and the depth of the ocean beneath him – what he saw was reality.  What we perceive as reality blinds us to what CAN be.  And because reality told him that standing on water was not possible, pessimism and doubt shattered his foothold of faith, and he started sinking.

But optimism forces us to look beyond “reality”, and not in an ignorant, self-disillusioned manner.  While our physical eyes are trained to see “reality”, or what things ARE, optimism is the lens that lets us see what CAN be.

With optimism we see the bright side of things; we see the good in all that surrounds.  I testify that as you begin to perfect the practice of optimistic living, your world will become brighter.  You’ll be lifted up to the view of a vista that is abounding in opportunity, flush with goodness, dripping with wonder, and that perspective will change your life forever.

Optimism is empowering, for it lets you see the world as it could be.  And as the clarity of that vision begins to replace the dull reality that surrounds you, you’ll find yourself capable of believing that you can make a difference.  You’ll start to see the role you can play to connect the realm of reality to the wonder of what could be.

Now, armed with the testimony of who you truly are, and looking through the lens of opportunity, you’ll be prepared to move to the next step… HOPE.  The brilliant and empowering, propelling principle of hope.

So today’s exercise, is to be optimistic.  Focus your mind on forcing out the negative cloud of pessimism, look at the world not at what it is, but what it could be.  See the silver lining.  Enjoy the wonder and glory of a much brighter world.

Rusty

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How to reconcile hope with failure

I’ve moved this post to my new Life-Engineering blog, dedicated to motivating people to achieve their goals and change their futures by taking control of their lives.

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Placebo – the power of belief

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Don’t stare in your rear-view mirror

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Someone who decided to make a difference

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Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord,

For even a life
so battered and scarred by sin
can be made beautiful
if it’s he who we put our trust in.

For a larger version, to print, or to save as your desktop background, click on the image above.

Rusty

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Phantom Leg Syndrom – repentance and hope

I read an article the other day on CNN about Phantom Leg Syndrome.  It’s something I’d heard of before but never really given much thought to.Phantom Leg Syndrome describes a medical condition where someone who has lost a limb (not necessarily a leg) feels itching, pain, or other sensations in the limb that is no longer there.  It occurs because of neuron stimulation at the point where the limb was severed, and as those signals travel to the brain, they’re interpreted as coming from the missing limb.  The result is an excruciating and unnerving experience because there’s clearly no way to alleviate that itch/pain/sensation.

As I thought about it, I couldn’t help but appreciate the striking similarity there is between this syndrome and one’s moral and spiritual conscience.

Often in life, we succumb to spiritual entropy, we get out of tune, take a wrong turn, or sometimes simply fall flat on our face.  Whatever the cause, a core part of our spiritual and emotional well-being goes missing. 

Sometimes it takes an unbearably long time to realize it, but inevitably, God has built into our souls a mechanism to eventually surface that to our awareness.  Much like the phantom limb syndrome, where neurons deep within the body are pricked and call for attention, our conscience eventually gets pricked and we come to realize something is missing.

Unlike in the instance of a missing limb, the Atonement of Christ has made it possible to replace that crucial component that is missing from our lives.  Repentance, while not always easy, IS always available.

Repentance gives us a spiritual regenerative ability that is unmistakable and undeniable.  The atonement was given to all – if we will but receive it.

But sometimes thinking beyond the pain of the “now” (for those who have found something missing) is impossibly difficult.   You get stuck dwelling upon your past, which tends to result in an ever inhibiting cycle of self-imposed limitations.  We convince ourselves that help is somehow beyond reach.

It’s not.

The Atonement represents an irreplaceable, unmovable, and unchanging ability to become whole again.  Christ performed miracles as he walked the earth, making people whole, all along the way.  His atonement extends that cycle of regeneration today and forever.  His ability to heal today, is no less real or compelling than it was 2,000 years ago.

Rusty

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Hope – Is it an attribute of God?

In working on my book Escape Velocity, I’ve come to the chapter on Hope, and the vital role it plays in what I call “change endurance”.  It was like stepping off a cliff.

I had been moving right along, capturing the flow, the principles and practices an individual needs to employ for their change to endure.  But when I got to the role of hope, suddenly I was caught up in the enormity of the idea.  I caught glimpses of how deeply it permeates all action, both post-launch, and leading up to launch.

For context, Escape Velocity uses the metaphor of a rocket, which has to leave the gravitational pull of the earth, in order to enter orbit, likening it to an individual who must escape the gravitational pull of their past, their habits, their self-perceptions, labels, and other constraints, in order to reach an orbit of new achievement.  The “Launch Event” is that pivotal moment when you suddenly catch a vision of what you want to do or be, when you’re filled with passion for change, rife with motivation, and ready to move.

The more I pondered the topic of hope, the more questions I had.  I wanted to share some of those questions here, and solicit your feedback (thank you in advance).

The question I ask is this… Does God hope?

Is hope an attribute of the Father, or an attribute to help us become like Him?

Does hope imply imperfection?  Is it an emotion that aids us in moving from a state of less knowledge to more knowledge, or from lesser obedience to greater obedience, from weakness to greatness?  If so, does God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and perfect nature preclude the necessity or value of hope for him?

I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Rusty

Inspiring words for those who need them

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Four reasons why hope breeds success

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Faith Fitness – Day 4 (Believe)

This post is part of a series called Faith Fitness – increasing our capacity to believe.  Don’t forget to see the intro, part 1 (Testimony), part 2 (Optimism), and part 3 (Hope).

At long last, we’re moving on to the next step in building our capacity to believe.  We’ve moved now from a testimony on pure principles (step 1 – Testimony), to the ability to see things not for what they are, but what they can be (step 2 – Optimism), to an active level of hope for those things to come to pass (step 3 – Hope), and we’re now ready to take the next step, again, this more active than the last.

If you haven’t truly gone through the first three steps, this step may be very difficult, but either way, I highly encourage you to keep working on those first 3 steps.  Reread them, keep working on them.  Like any exercise, after all, these are not one-time instances of exertion, but ongoing endeavors that must become an active part of our life.

Hebrews 11:1 says that “…faith is the substance of things hoped for…”, or other translations:  “…the assurance of things hoped for…” and “… the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith isn’t some wishy-washy fell-good sensation where we simply wish for something to come true.  It’s “substance”, “evidence”, these words convey something very concrete and real.  The power of faith is perhaps the most powerful principle in the universe.  By faith, all things were created.

If God can work such mighty faith, then surely we, as his spiritual children, can begin to work faith at a much smaller level.

When the Apostles woke the savior, fearing for their lives, he calmed the storm and then gently chastised them for being of such little faith.  When Peter attempted to walk on water, but started to sink, he did likewise.  When the apostles were unable to heal certain sicknesses he offered the same feedback.

Clearly the Lord knows we’re capable of affecting real, substantial, concrete change in our environment, in our lives, and in the lives of others.  

So, the first thing you must have faith in, is God.  You must take your testimony to an active use, and put your faith and trust in him.  Believe that he is all powerful.  Believe that he is all knowing.  Believe that he has a divine plan and purpose.  Believe that you are his child and are of limitless potential.

Once you can firmly say that you have faith in God, now you must believe in yourself.  How can you exercise faith to exert change if you don’t first believe in yourself?  This is not arrogance.  It’s not boasting in your own strength, this is believing that you can affect change, that you do not have to be some simple bystander, but that the Lord wants you to participate, and play a part. 

Now shift your focus to something else in your life that matters.  Clearly it must be a righteous desire, or at least with righteous intentions.  Remember the steps – look through the lens of optimism, see what it is that it CAN be, then actively hope for it to be that way, and now believe that it will come to pass.

And don’t worry, it’s not meant to be easy.  Belief is when the muscle is fully flexed, which is not often easy (although it does get easier).  When your muscles are fully flexed you quickly experience fatigue.  When you exercise your faith, you may find the same kind of experience.  But don’t worry, just like exercising, the more you exercise, the more your endurance grows.  Experienced distance runners are able to run great distances and feel minimal effects because they’ve toned their body for the endeavor.  Such it is with faith.  The more you work that muscle, the easier it becomes, the more you can do, and the less tiring it is.

Now, don’t let yourself stop believing, don’t succumb to fatigue and give in because it’s too difficult.  Faith is all about perseverance.  Be confident, trust in God, and believe.

Rusty

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Faith Fitness – day 3 (Hope)

This post is part of a series called Faith Fitness – increasing our capacity to believe.  Don’t forget to see the intro, part 1 (Testimony), part 2 (Optimism), and part 3 (Hope).

Moving right along to day three, things start to get exciting, for we’re slowly starting to get more “active”.

Think of Faith as full action, for we’re really talking about active faith, where you’re intent is to affect things through the power of belief, and not simply a passive conviction of principles and ideas.  But before we can get to that level of activity, we have to move in small, simple steps (by small and simple things are great things brought to pass).

Day one (testimony) we built a foundation of principles strong enough to support the full power of faith.

Day two (optimism) we opened our eyes to a world where we see beyond “reality”.  It required a small amount of action, where we open our eyes and look beyond, seeing the world not as it is, but as it can be.  This is a world where all things become possible.

But today, with hope, we take it one step further.

Hope is where you move from just seeing what COULD be, to hoping that it WILL be.  True hope is more than just simply thinking “yeah that would be nice”.   True hope is actively hoping for it to come to pass.  It requires a persistence of thought and intent.  It’s an ongoing visualization of your desire, not just an admission of worth.

The perfect examples of hope are children.  For children are full of optimism – the world hasn’t yet had time to erode their ability to see what can be, by beating them over the head with what IS.  Because of this, to children the world is full of possibilities.  And when they decide to hope for something, it’s not some passive desire, it consumes their thoughts, it’s forefront in their minds.

Have you ever told a child that you’re “thinking” about doing something fun, like going to Disneyland, or going to get ice-cream, or whatever.  From the moment they think that it’s even possible, they’re thinking about it.  Every moment they’re asking if they can, they visualize it, they see themselves there, they can almost taste it already, and they simply won’t let go of that vision.  That is active hope.

While optimism is simply meant to open our eyes, and see the things that are possible, looking past the limitations of reality, hope is where we actively desire for those things to be, and faith, the final step, is where you actually start to believe that they will come to pass.

So the exercise for today is to be hopeful.  Just try it.  Try hoping for something, something small if you must, but something. 

As you shrug off that pervasive power of pessimism and embrace the healthy hospitality of hope, it becomes an undiminishing well of endless energy, enthusiasm, determination and perseverance. 

Hope naturally dispels the dulling darkness of doubt and despair, which is why it’s so energizing.  Hope keeps us alive, it keeps us moving, and we could do nothing without it.

Rusty

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