Sunday, July 25, 2010

First Words

Have you ever walked into a room, held your finger on the light switch and said, 'And God said', then as you flipped the switch, 'Let there be light'?

I have always heard that a person's last words are very important and that you can learn a lot about a person from these words. I have also heard that first impressions are lasting ones.

Consider this. God is an eternal being. He always was. He, the Son and the Spirit chose to make man in there own image; but before they did they forever settled in heaven the Word of God. (Psalm 119:89)

If you read through the Bible in its traditional lay out you will start in Genesis. Our first impression of our God is His first words, 'Let there be light'.

Light mostly represents truth in the Word of God:
God is light and in him is no darkness at all.
We are called the children of light.
Men love darkness rather than light because there deeds are evil.
Ye are the light of the world.
Let your light so shine before men.
The light of the body is the eye.
Everyone that does evil hates the light lest his deeds should be reproved.
Let us put on the armor of light.
The light of the glorious Gospel...
The light of the knowledge of the glory of God...
For whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Christ shall give thee light.
Christ said, 'I am the light of the world'.
In the New Jerusalem the Lamb is the light thereof.

The word light in Genesis 1:3 means (to be hot) and the word darkness means (twisted away).
In 1st John 1:5 the word light means (to shine or to make manifest by rays) and the word darkness means (dimness, obscurity, shadiness).

God wants to reenter the relationship he lost with us at the Garden of Eden; but in order to do that everything must be brought out into the open. God comes to us hiding nothing. He says, 'What you see is what you get'. We, on the other hand, try like Adam and Eve to hide from God what we really are. If we want a relationship with God we have to sit in the hot seat and have the rays of truth shine on us. This exposes our deeds and the thoughts and intents of our heart. There can be no shadiness or obscurity in our dealings with him.

God comes to us with the strong position of entering relationships with honesty and openness; and He expects the same from us.

When we try to hide things from God he says that we are in darkness. We are actually twisted away from the light. We are running from the truth; and that truth is what makes us free from the law of sin and death. Truth is the light we need to see our error so we may correct it and have restored fellowship with God.

Christ is the light of the world. His gospel is our light to find salvation. Truth, knowledge of God and God's Word are our lights to keep us from stumbling spiritually. Keeping ourselves in the scriptures is our armor of light to keep us from the works of darkness.

God wants us to live a life that need no shadows for hiding what we are. His reputation is wide open for inspection. In him is no shadow of turning. When you read God's Word you will find that God is brutally honest. Look at what he records about his favorite men; pretty tough stuff.

Question! Do we enter our conversations with truth? Are we honest with our spouse? Are there things in our lives that we need to hide from our children? Do we deceive our parents? Are our business dealings above board? Do we lie to our friends and coworkers? If honesty and openness is not the policy then we are destroying our relationships.

Let's reclaim these relationships. Let's walk in the light as He is in the light so that we can have fellowship one with another.

It was nice chatting with you,
John

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What Are You Doing To Help Your Church or Assembly?

Do you attend services once in a while? If so, that's great! Most people don't go at all. But let me ask you this. When you do go do you feel like an integral part of what is happening at your church, assembly or place of worship? When the leaders of your particular ministry talk of all the good times and all the good things God is doing in 'this place' do you feel a bit left out?

Think with me about the people you enjoy and the places where you feel comfortable. More than likely it is the people you do things with or the places where you are involved to some degree. I bring this up because most people deep in their hearts have a yearning to be accepted by God and God's people. Most folks wish they could feel comfortable at religious services. How does a person come to feel like they are a part of a body of believers?

First, we have to get past the movie/media/TV version of the religious leader and believers in general.They imply that Sunday School, church, worship, attending assembly and devotion to God is for sissies, kids and women. Some of the toughest men I know Believe God

My former pastor was a paratrooper in WWII. My present pastor was a construction worker putting in twelve and sixteen hour days as a young man. My dad worked on a construction crew, joined the Navy, became a pipe fitter and welder and still passed on to me his faith. Faith is not for the weak at heart; it is for those who have the fortitude to face the hardships and blessings of life knowing that both were ordained by God.

Second, the book of James says that our faith without works is dead. Christ's work on the cross produced salvation for the world. If we invest our faith in Christ, we get salvation. If we do not put our faith to work, what do we produce? Nothing. When we put our faith to work we bring salvation to others and give them the same chance we had.

Look at these scriptures in Revelation.
Rev 2:2  I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
Rev 2:9  I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Rev 2:13  I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Rev 2:19  I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Rev 3:1  And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Rev 3:8  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Rev 3:15  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

These admonitions were written to seven churches in Asia many years ago. Christ was grading them and then instructing them so that they could continue as a church and not loose their opportunity to influence the world. None of these churches exist today. What did he notice about all of them? Their works. God is interested in what we are DOING in the assembly which we have chosen to call our own. This involvement affords us many things: Gratitude for those who labored for us, influence in the world for God, an extended family providing needed help in hard times, the knowledge that we belong, but most of all the right to exist.

Jesus Christ said:
Mat 5:16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
Joh 10:25  Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
Joh 14:12  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Christ is big on getting involved. The problem is that we think we have to do it alone. Yes, Christ is there to help us in the work but it is comforting to know that there are like minded people in your church or assembly that would love for you to be a part of what they are doing.

Don't be afraid. Jump in and get involved. You just might find a host of new friends that go along with the fulfillment of accomplishing a task for God.

It was nice chatting with you,
John

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brothers and Sisters.

As I watch my boys grow and mature (which is painfully slow at times) I see us as kids. I soak in the hateful looks they give each other, the irritating actions towards each other, the impatience, the anger, the mean words, the critical statements and the belittling. I also drink up the tenderness, love, affection, sharing and affirmation that they are learning to invest in each other.

Each one has a dominant strength; and each one has a dominant weakness. But the strengths are different in each as are the weaknesses. The strength and weakness of the one is a point of irritation to the other and ditto back the other direction.

Both of them could use their strengths to help with the others weakness, but in the event of such a rarity happening the pride of one will not allow the help of the other.

As a parent I sit back and say this is such an easy fix, but it wasn't so easy when I was where they are now. OK, it's still a bit of a pain in the neck. But I'm getting better at it. Aren't I?

God put my boys together in the same home because they need each other to mature properly. They learn patience from the others weakness and humility from their own. They learn service from their own strength and admiration from the other's. They learn to conquer pride by accepting help for their weakness and to develop their strengths by helping the other with his weakness.

I see the same thing with the differences in my marriage; it's just a bit more civilized now that I am an adult. I have learned better how to mask my pettiness.

I would not be the person that I am without you four. Your strengths and weaknesses have helped me grow and mature to the person I would never have been if you were not a part of my life. God put us together because we needed each other. And may I say - because we need each other.

Just like my boys are needing to, we needed to grow to accept the differences in others, acquire patience and admiration. We had to beat pride and learn to serve. And I thank God he put us in the same family. No matter where our lives take us whether together or apart I'm glad I have you four and no more. Thank you for the part you play in my life; you are the best brothers and sisters a man could want.

I love you,
John

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What Does The Word Family Mean To You?

My Pastor's favorite English word is "HOME" and he tells a story of his wife asking him to describe in one word what he wanted his home to be. He said "HAPPY".

He recently gave us a survey sheet asking about the programs he has in place for us. He wanted to know if they were interfering with family time and asked us to comment on many of the activities. I wrote down at the bottom of the survey, 'I would ditch them all to spend more time with my family, but I know that these activities are healthy for our spiritual and social development'.

I love being with my family. Every now and then I will be at work and a feeling of homesickness will come over me like a cloud. I have this pressing desire to drop everything and go home because I miss them so much. So I go off alone, calm myself down, call home and talk to my wife for a few minutes.

In Psalm 68:6 God says that he sets the solitary in families. The family is the first institution God ordained; a man and a woman and any children they may or may not have. Families shouldn't need the company of other families to be OK. Yes, you need social skills, friends, work and other outside activities but to function as a family you shouldn't need anyone but God. A family ought to be very comfortable with each other, confident in each other and best friends. They ought to learn from each other and serve each other. They should feel enabled to accomplish any task they ought to perform because of their family.

The word 'family' comes from the Latin word 'famulus' - so does the word familiar. When you say that a person is familiar to you, you are declaring that they are like family. 'Famulus' means servant. So if someone is familiar to you they care for your needs or have in the past and have your welfare in mind. Why should someone who is not family care more about and serve my family more than I?

Families get along best when the service/need scale is in balance. That is not to say that there are no selfish people in our homes. We all are selfish to some degree at times. So in order to cover for my selfishness someone serves me and the times when others are selfish I need to jump in and serve. Servants serve; the selfish take and this is not necessarily a bad thing. But the servant isn't there to just appease the selfish; the selfish needs to be taught to serve as well till there is a flow of give and take. A child may not know how to serve but is learning by taking from the servant. The trouble comes when a person only learns the receive part and neglects learning to serve. It is a journey into maturity that we all must take.

Christ shows us his spin on this subject. As he is washing the feet of his men he instructs them to follow his lead.

Joh 13:12  So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Joh 13:13  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
Joh 13:14  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
Joh 13:15  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Joh 13:16  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
Joh 13:17  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

Notice that Christ said happy is what you will be if you learn to serve. Now read this one.

Luk 22:24  And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
Luk 22:25  And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
Luk 22:26  But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
Luk 22:27  For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

Our strife comes when we want others to serve us and find that they want us to serve them. It takes a great person to let it go and say, 'how may I serve you'. God wants us to excel at being a servant and that is what he says makes us great.

What would our families be like if we all worked at serving one another? Our children would be eager to come home. Our marriages would become more stable - better yet, a pleasure. We would have more good times together and would produce a better society. You would be able to say, 'my home is happy'.

What does the word 'family' mean to you? Could your home use a servant?

It was nice chatting with you,
John

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Affects My Spirit?

OK. Ask yourself some questions.

Do I habitually have cross words with my spouse? Do I snap at my children way too often?
Are my nerves on edge most of the time?
Am I constantly disappointed in myself?
Do I get up on the wrong side of the bed and make life miserable for those who come in contact with me during the day?
Do I accuse God for all the things that are wrong in my life?
Do I find it difficult to face my Pastor, Elder or mentor?
Am I in a depression right now?

Our spirit is that part of us that communicates man to self, man to man and man to God. At times in our lives we find it almost impossible to communicate with any of the three. Our spirit seems wrung out, battered or even dead. Sometimes I don't want to be with myself much less God or anyone else. I know that I'm not supposed to feel this way, that I have to find a way to get along with these three, but the energy it takes to show congeniality in every situation is too much which reveals my bad spirit to everyone.

Many things affect our spirit. Let me list some:
Lack of sleep, poor diet, health issues, relationship strains, lack of connection with God, financial pressure, lack of intimate contact with your spouse, responsibilities for which you lack answers, work stress, laziness, selfishness - you could list as many or more.

Part of maintaining your spirit is knowing yourself and your limitations. We are all custodians to some degree. Many of the things in the list above we have some control over - for example.

Change your schedule so that you get more sleep.
Read books on dieting or nutrition. Go see a nutritionist or a doctor. Get advice to learn what you can and cannot eat. Find out if you are 1.) over your healthy weight limit 2.) suffer from low blood sugar or high blood pressure 3.) tend toward heart disease or cancer.
Take time to develop your relationships in life; don't trade them for anything else.
Have regular conversations with God and keep his words in your heart and mind.
Make a decision to get your finances in shape and stick with it. (Check out davidramsey.com or Joshuah Kennon on about.com)
Talk to your spouse every day. Touch your spouse every day. At least every week let your spouse know in plain language and by physical attention that you are passionately crazy about him or her. Saying I love you should be like breathing.
Talk to your children, touch them, hug them tight, tell them you love them and help them do something often - weekly if possible.
Study what you don't know about the things that you should know. If you are at a loss where to start, get advice from someone who excels in that area.
Accomplish something. A human being needs something to do in order to feel valuable. Fight laziness.
When you feel selfish, drive yourself into doing something for others.

You may not be able to do anything about your health issues. (Take the advice my pastor gives and become an expert in the area of your infirmity. Study everything you can on your particular illness.) 
Your spouse may have left you. Your work situation may never get better. Your finances may always be a mountain you cannot climb. But you must take care of the things that you can fix to lighten the load.

In the sermon on the mount Christ said, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'. If you are poor in spirit, you are the best candidate to own a piece of the kingdom. What is the kingdom of heaven?

Mat 13:10  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Mat 13:11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

Christ tells his men that the secret to the kingdom of heaven was for them to know, and Matthew chapter 13 is his description of that kingdom.

Mat 13:1  The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
Mat 13:2  And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Mat 13:3  And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
Mat 13:4  And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
Mat 13:5  Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
Mat 13:6  And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
Mat 13:7  And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
Mat 13:8  But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
Mat 13:9  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mat 13:10  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Mat 13:11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Mat 13:12  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Mat 13:13  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Mat 13:14  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
Mat 13:15  For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Mat 13:16  But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Mat 13:17  For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
Mat 13:18  Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
Mat 13:19  When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
Mat 13:20  But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Mat 13:21  Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Mat 13:22  He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
Mat 13:23  But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Mat 13:24  Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Mat 13:25  But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
Mat 13:26  But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
Mat 13:27  So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
Mat 13:28  He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
Mat 13:29  But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Mat 13:30  Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Mat 13:31  Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Mat 13:32  Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Mat 13:33  Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Mat 13:34  All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
Mat 13:35  That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
Mat 13:36  Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
Mat 13:37  He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
Mat 13:38  The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
Mat 13:39  The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
Mat 13:40  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
Mat 13:41  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
Mat 13:42  And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:43  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mat 13:44  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Mat 13:45  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Mat 13:46  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Mat 13:47  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Mat 13:48  Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
Mat 13:49  So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
Mat 13:50  And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:51  Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

Christ's description of the kingdom of heaven was given in parables. The word parable means to throw alongside. Christ liked to tell stories that paralleled the truth he was trying to get across. Then he would explain them to his men. God likes to force us to use our brain now and then so he gives us some tough Scripture to chew on. Let me oversimplify these parables, if I may. There are seven of them.

1. A sower sows the seeds of the word of God in the hearts of men. Knowing that the seed will not take root in all hearts, but will affect individuals differently according to their faith, he sows indiscriminately.

2. In the end of the world God is separating two kingdoms and burning one.

3. A very small seed grows into a plant large enough to provide shelter for many.

4. A little bit of yeast is mingled into some dough which causes the whole loaf of bread to rise.

5. A treasure worth so much someone risks all to gain it.

6. A pearl so valuable someone sells all to buy it.

7. A fisherman hauls in a load of fish and sits down to sort them out keeping the good and trashing the bad.

Trying to make sense of these parables I came up with this. Am I willing to take the risk of influencing people for the good, knowing that many will reject what I have to offer but hoping that I win a very valuable prize? What prize? The treasure of many people encouraged throughout my lifetime by the acts of kindness that I bestowed upon them. Simply put, the kingdom of heaven is warning people of judgment to come and helping them in everyday struggles.

How do I do this? One way is to tell them about my heavenly Father. If you want your spirit lifted, then inherit a portion of the kingdom of heaven. When you have done what you can do to help your spirit, and you are left coping with what you cannot change, your spirit may still be depressed. The most fulfilling thing you can do for your spirit is to tell someone about Christ and what He has done for you. Will everyone listen? No! But the ones that do have the opportunity to be your part of the kingdom of heaven.

First, do what you can do, then leave the rest for God.

1Pe 5:6  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
1Pe 5:7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Now that God is helping you with your burdens, help Christ's with his.

Mat 11:28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Mat 11:30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Jesus says that if you want a renewed spirit, come do some work with me. The people who work with me are spiritually stable. Do you enjoy your labor when you have to do it alone, or do you like it when you have a companion who can share the experience.

It is easier to carry another person's burden than it is to carry your own. Have you noticed how easy it is to pick out another person's fault, but your own faults are hidden to you? Examples: it is easier to help another person with their marriage, to rear another person's kid, clean up another person's financial mess, give health advice to others...
God knows this and so he gives us the opportunity to ask him for help with our problems if we agree to jump in and help others with theirs. So the second way to renew our spirit is to help someone with their problem.

It is amazing how well your spirit becomes when you give of your time to help your fellow man. Granted, those who live for themselves have more stuff, but those who live for others have a better spirit. Which one do you want?

Yeah! I know. You want the stuff. So do I some times. Ha!

It was nice chatting with you,
John

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Attitude Is What? Everythng?

The definition of attitude in The New Oxford American is: - a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person's behavior. Another entry reads - the orientation of an aircraft relative to the direction of travel; and another reads - a position of the body proper to or implying an action or mental state.

We borrowed the idea from the French and Italian languages where it meant 'fitness or posture'. These languages are Latin based which brings us to the word aptus meaning 'fit'.

Posturing is behaving in such a way that is intended to impress or mislead.  Or you could say , being deceptive in ones attitude.

Our American understanding of attitude is the anger, frustration, facial expression, and body language that is manifested to a person or because of a circumstance. But attitude goes deeper than this. Our attitude is our positioning, our posturing, our fitting ourselves to life and its circumstances, philosophies and people.

How do you position yourself to your: spouse, authorities, children, parents, friends, enemies, fellowman, problems, employment, responsibilities, blessings. Are you taking an adversarial stance? Are you in a position to exit your relationships, responsibilities or your faith? Are you a friend or a servant? Are you a critic or do you bring healing? Are you an inspiration (not the singers)? are you an over comer or an under achiever? Step back from the person or situation in question and ask; in relation to this what position am I in - what am I ready to do. That is your attitude and it bleeds over into your actions. It also affects how others perceive you.

Rather than saying, that person has a bad attitude; we might just as well say, that person hasn't positioned himself very well to this situation or in respect to that person. I think attitude has more to do with preparation than with circumstance. How do you prepare for work? Before you meet your spouse, do you condition your thinking in order to meet him/her properly? When you enter the life of your children are you prepared?  Have you sat down and considered the troubles that are typical to your age, gender, race, occupation and faith to determine how you will act when those situations arise? What you are doing here is creating an attitude or positioning yourself  for future events so you can be prepared.

How can we do this?

The raw meaning of the word orient is the Latin 'oriri' or to rise. This refers to the sun rising in the East. The word orientation means to face east. We use this word to describe our position relative to someone or some object. When we go to an orientation we hear information that allows us to face the same direction as the people in charge.

But why the East?

The sun rises in the East. The wise men saw The Star in the East which led them to Christ. The Gospel traveled from the East. And when Christ comes back to set up his kingdom he will split the eastern sky with a blinding light. Does this give you an idea of the person or object we could use to position ourselves? Our attitude can be set in relativity to Christ and His words.

If you are positioned toward Christ, how would that effect your marriage, children, friendships, actions, occupation or anything that makes up your life? How are you positioned relative to Christ and His words?This is a question that I have to ask myself often. I am constantly having to adjust my attitude just like the pilot in his plane.

It was nice chatting with you,
John

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gratitude V/S Complaint

I was reading in Ezra 7:27,28 and I asked myself how anyone could bless God. Or was Ezra saying that God was already blessed? My pastor taught that the word blessed means happiness all the way to your inner core. If he wasn't lying to me, I have to think that our God is a happy one.

Look at what God did in this situation. He put in the heart of the king to send people back to Jerusalem for the remodeling of the worship center. God must have been having a good day. He extended mercy to Ezra in the presence of the king, his cabinet, the house of reps and the senate. God must have been having a good day. God strengthened Ezra by putting His hand upon him which empowered Ezra to do the job God had for him to do. God must have been having a good day.

Oh! Wait a minute. Ezra is a captive in Babylon (Iraq), so maybe God isn't having such a good day after all. As a matter of a fact the Hebrews had been there for right at seventy years. God must have had a lot of bad days.

Hmm.  Let's see.

I woke up this morning. God must have been having a good day. When I opened my eyes, I could still see. God must have been having a good day. I was able to dress myself. God must have been having a good day. I heard the voices of my family. God must have been having a good day. My car started and took me all the way to work. I have a job. My wife has been with me for almost fifteen years. I have healthy sons. My parents love me. I have smart, sharp siblings. When you get on a roll like this it's hard to stop. God must be very happy to be treating me this way.

On the other hand, I have a pain in my lower back that I live with. I woke up this morning with a very sore throat. I have a pain in the muscles of my neck that is giving me a throbbing headache right now. Money is tight. the tires on my car are almost bald and I have a huge dent in the side of both vehicles (not my fault). My wife just recently went through back surgery and is numb on one side. God must be having an awful day. What's He got against me? You know, you can get on a roll going this direction as well.  

I realize there are people who have very troubled lives who may be reading this and saying to themselves - he doesn't know the first thing about what I'm going through. And you are absolutely right. The rest of us should use the trials of these people as reminders to be grateful to God. One of the best ways to stay grateful is to find others that suffer more than you (they are everywhere). When I see a wheelchair I thank God I can walk. When I see a blind person I thank God I can see. When I see a deaf person I thank God I can hear.When I hear of a troubled marriage I thank God for my wife. When I see afflicted children I thank God mine are healthy.

I'm sure Ezra had a few things he didn't appreciate about his circumstances, and I'm sure Ezra wasn't a perfect human being; but we could learn a lesson from the way he handled his words that day.

It was nice chatting with you,
John