On Mission in the Marketplace–Part 2

https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_31144186_181728386917_1_original[1]

On Sunday the church gathers, but on Monday through Saturday the church scatters. Into the marketplace followers of Jesus Christ live as God’s ambassadors. They are his representatives, his messengers. They are on mission.

R.C. Sproul described the mission to the marketplace. “The cradle of the church was the marketplace. From the preaching and public ministry of Jesus to the daily acts of the Apostles, the central scene was the marketplace. Perhaps the greatest need for our day is the need to market Jesus Christ. The church must become expert in marketing: not in the slick, Madison Avenue style, but in an aggressive, yet dignified way. The marketplace is where we belong. It is where needy people are found. It is not enough for the church to hang a welcome sign on her door. We dare not wait for the world to come to us.” Jesus’ strategy always involved believers going into the world, to penetrate the marketplace. Followers of Christ must recognize their ministry and mission of communicating God’s love to people they come into contact each day.

How do followers of Christ penetrate the marketplace?

Realize Your Job Is Your Mission Field
The marketplace is the largest mission field in the world. You and I rub shoulders everyday with people who need the power and grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sylvia and Don Hill had the Shoe Shine concession at the old Eastern terminal at Boston’s Logan Airport. While getting shoes shined many people would share their lives with Don and Sylvia. They would share the joy and the pain. As people shared their stories, Sylvia and Don would pray, witness, and minister as they felt directed by God’s Spirit. Often people would write or stop by and thank them for listening and ministering to them.

As Sylvia was washing down the stand one night, a man watched in amazement as she so carefully washed and closed the stand. He approached Sylvia and acknowledged that he had been watching her and asked her how at the close of such a busy she could do such a good job in taking care of the stand. “I have to,” she said. “It is God’s stand!”

Tony Ponceti is the owner of a very successful printing business in Miami. His attitude is that God gives him daily orders and he simply follows them. He believes in the “theology of interruption.” If he senses the Spirit leading him to minister in a certain way, he will adjust his business agenda to get in on God’s agenda. When Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami, Tony became absorbed in the needs of thousands of hurricane victims. He shared food with the hungry, found shelter for the homeless, and medical aid for those suffering everything from minor to major illnesses. As he administered humanitarian aid, he would pray for the hurting and share Christ with them. When Andrew struck Miami, God interrupted Tony’s printing business agenda and gave him a ministry agenda of helping storm victims find relief and then to find Christ.

What can you do in your work setting to minister and witness to those around you? Let me encourage you, first, to list the people with whom you work that you will pray for. And begin praying for them each day. Second, begin each day by consecrating your work place. Dedicate it as a sanctuary to God. Make it a holy place where God is present and God can work. And, third, look for opportunities to minister, to serve, to help, to offer assistance. We may not be able to do everything, but we can do something.

“Before I need you, I need to know you.” Pain and problems come into every person’s life. Employee Care of America partners with businesses to provide help and hope for its employees. We build a relationship before the need arises. Think of it as an Employee Assistance Program on steroids. If you would like to find out more about this beneficial service click here for our website.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

On Mission in the Marketplace–Part 1

https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_31144186_181728386917_1_original[1]

When Jesus entered our world, he didn’t box himself inside the four walls of the synagogue. He walked into the lives of sinners. He touched the lepers. He associated with prostitutes. He dined with heathen. He scandalized the religious community by penetrating the world.

In order for Jesus to reach and rescue the world he had to penetrate it. Likewise, for us to impact and influence the world for Christ we must penetrate it. We are to go as he went, to associate with unbelievers. Perhaps one of the church’s greatest failures is that believers have disengaged too much. We need to penetrate the marketplace. Here’s how.

Take on the “Unseen” Partner
Before you go to work, take time to pray about your job. Pray for the people you’ll be working with and those who you’ll be serving. Remember, God is the “unseen Partner” in all of life. He is with us wherever we are. And we need his presence, especially in the marketplace.

The 13th-century writer Meister Eckhart penned: “The kind of work we do does not make us holy, but we make it holy. . . . As we have the divine being within, we bless each task we do, be it eating or sleeping or watching, or any other [task].”

A businessman decided to take the “unseen Partner” with him to work. Consciously he decided he would take Christ’s presence with him throughout the day at the office. To remind himself of the divine being within he prayed every time he walked to and from the drinking fountain. As he walked through the offices and spoke to people, he prayed for them. As a piece of paper came across his desk, he committed it to God. He said he noticed no outward change in his attitude, but some of the love and concern he had for these people must have communicated itself to them. People began to come to him to talk about their inner lives.

Being conscious of God’s presence can have a profound impact on your job, and the people around you.

Transform Your Attitude
At your work, whatever it may be, have an attitude that reflects the positive nature of God’s grace on your life.

Many jobs are boring. The marketplace is often a maze of nameless people. Sometimes good employees don’t get recognized and promoted. The woes of layoffs and the threats of mergers and downsizing can be discouraging. But in the midst of less desirable circumstances attitude can transform a boring, thankless job into a Christian ministry.

When Gordon MacDonald pastored Trinity Baptist Church in New York City, he would ride the same bus daily from his home to the church. One day the bus driver complained to MacDonald: “You’ve got it a lot better than me. You have an interesting job and travel different places. I just drive this bus up and down the same streets every day.”

MacDonald told the bus driver his job could be a Christian ministry too. “Every day, when you first get on this bus, before anyone else gets on, dedicate this bus to God for that day. Declare it to be a sanctuary for God for that day. Consecrate it to God’s glory, and then act like it is a place where God dwells.”

Several weeks later MacDonald returned from a trip and saw the bus driver. “You’ve transformed my life,” the man exclaimed. “I’ve been doing what you said every day, and it has made me see my job in an entirely new perspective.”

The same transformation could happen to you in your work if you would take the time to adjust your attitude each day.

What can you do in your work setting to minister and witness to those around you? Let me encourage you, first, to list the people with whom you work that you will pray for. And begin praying for them each day. Second, begin each day by consecrating your work place. Dedicate it as a sanctuary to God. Make it a holy place where God is present and God can work.

“Before I need you, I need to know you.” Pain and problems come into every person’s life. Employee Care of America partners with businesses to provide help and hope for its employees. We build a relationship before the need arises. Think of it as an Employee Assistance Program on steroids. If you would like to find out more about this beneficial service click here for our website.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Finish Your Race

iStock_000007122366XSmall-300x198[1]After years of progressive hearing loss, by age 46 German composer Ludwig van Beethoven had become completely deaf. Nevertheless, he wrote his most fabulous music, including five symphonies, during his later years.  Louis L’Amour wrote over 100 western novels selling over 200 million copies. He received 350 rejections before he made his first sale.  These men possessed incredible staying power. They refused to bail out when the going was tough. They knew that their work was more like a marathon run than a sprint. And like world-class marathon runners, they finished their race.
What did they possess that enabled them to finish their race?

The Force of Faith
There is strength in smallness. It only takes a spark to get a fire going. A small ruder steers a large boat. One idea can spur an individual to change the world. And faith, regardless of its size, can turn a desperate calamity into a hope-filled future.
How often, when we feel like giving up, have we said, “I wish I had more faith.” Or, when we are going through difficult situations, someone says to us, “You need more faith.” More faith is not needed. The issue is not the size of our faith, but the object of our faith. The smallest amount of faith focused on God can be the difference in whether or not we finish. The seed of faith is planted within us. We can become more potent than the situation we are facing. God has implanted with us all the faith we need. As long as we keep our heart focused on him, God can work. God cannot work through us, however, if we quit.

The Presence of the Provider
When we encounter distressing situations, we need to remember God’s role.
We remember God’s goodness in the past. Recalling the good things God has done, lifts our spirits. The old hymn is helpful here: “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

We remember God’s closeness in the present. God is with us. He is by our side. He has promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5 NIV). We may not be calling on God, but he is still there.

We remember God’s power for the future. He will give us the strength we need. When we get depressed and discouraged, we must get our minds off our circumstances and get them on the Lord. We can hang on by flipping the switch that channels God’s power through us.

We may give up, but God will never give up. We may quit, but God will never leave. God is not only on our side he is on our side.

The Reservoir of Resources
Sometimes we want to give up only because we have depleted our physical resources. Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” When we are burned out often what we need is some rest. Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is go to take a nap, or take an affordable two-week vacation. If we are going to finish it is imperative that we take care of ourselves physically.

When we are ready to give up we must draw upon a higher power made available to us through worship and meditation. These daily disciplines are a priority to finish the race. Before we give up, look up to God. God wants to provide us with the spiritual resources to patch us up, to keep us going. Finishing requires spiritual stamina. That comes through a balanced diet of Bible reading, prayer, worship, and service.

Strength, also, is found in numbers. The tallest trees in the world are the Redwoods. Interestingly, they have a shallow root system. Their power comes because their roots become intertwined with one another. When we have an active support group around us to encourage and uplift us, we are less likely to give up.

These resources and the presence of God and the force of faith are free and undiminishing. They are the ingredients that keep us going, enabling us to finish our race. Beethoven had them. So did L’Amour. And so do you.

Did you know that if we practiced love our relationships would be stronger, our jobs would be more meaningful, and our ailments would be fewer? Earlier this year I wrote an encouraging book on love called Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love. The book gets its title from perhaps the greatest statement ever made on love in 1 Corinthians 13. This book provides a guide to love, and, if practiced, it will make us well and whole. Click here to claim your copy.

Posted in character, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Facing the Unknown–Part 2

unknown_500[1]

Every day we face new ventures, unseen horizons, and challenging obstacles. It could be a move to a new city, a change of jobs, attending a different school, or moving to a new neighborhood.

Facing the unknown is difficult. It is like stepping from the light into the darkness. It can be a terrifying experience leaving behind everything familiar to face the uncertainty.

One can face the unknown with confidence by putting into practice these ideas.

Start Over
Don moved to our town from Iowa. He had left behind a broken marriage, a disappointing job, habits that were not becoming a Christian. He was on a downward spiral to disaster. “Why did you move here?” I asked. “Two words,” he said, “to start over. I’m looking for a new beginning.”

The future is a wonderful place. In fact, you better get used to the future because that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life. The future has a redeeming value and quality to it. In the future we have the exciting opportunity to begin again or to start over. The unknown is not such a terrible place. It’s a place of new beginnings. A place of starting over.

In the movie City Slickers, the three city boys go to a New Mexico ranch to drive a herd of cattle to Colorado. In one scene Phil, who has had an affair with an employee that threatens his marriage, cries to his friends, “My life’s a dead end. ‘m almost forty years old. ‘ve wasted my life.” His friend says, “No. You got a chance to start over. Remember when we were kids playing ball. And the ball would get stuck in the tree. And we would yell, ‘Do over.’ Your life is a ‘do over.’ You got a clean slate.” Life offers “do overs.” Where are they? In the future. Who grants them? God. Why does he give us another chance? So we can start over.

Move Forward
The unknown may not be that frightening and depressing after all. A new community, a new job, a new school, a new church may be the doorway to new opportunities and new horizons. But, that doorway must be stepped into in order to experience God’s blessings. Therefore, the next two-word set is vital—move forward.

Oswald Chambers puts it all in perspective. “It is no use to pray for the old days; stand square where you are and make the present better than any past has been. Base all on your relationship to God and go forward, and presently you will find that what is emerging is infinitely better than the past ever was.” God has always challenged his people to move forward. And he has always rewarded people who do move forward. Faith is always required in moving forward. To face the unknown, to meet the challenges of a new day, to move ahead in life, to grow, always requires faith. You see, it is only as we move forward in faith that the unknown becomes known, that the darkness becomes light, that the night becomes day. Moving forward in faith is like walking toward an electric-eye-opening door. The door only opens as we move forward toward it.

God has some wonderful new beginnings and exciting new blessings awaiting us as we move forward in faith into the unknown. Patrick Overton describes our movement and God’s corresponding response so beautifully. He writes: “When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that step into the darkness of the unknown you must believe that one of two things will happen: Either there will be something solid for you to stand on, or God will teach you how to fly.”

When you step into the unknown it often feels as though the rug of your life has been pulled out from under you. But remember that if the rug has been pulled out, God is under the rug. He will catch you, support you, encourage you, and soften the blow of the fall. You can count on him for that. He can be trusted.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Facing the Unknown

unknown_500[1]

Every day we face new ventures, dark horizons, and challenging obstacles. It could be a move to a new city, a change of jobs, attending a different school, or moving to a new neighborhood.

Facing the unknown is difficult. It is like stepping from the light into the darkness. It can be a terrifying experience leaving behind everything familiar to face the uncertainty.

One can face the unknown with confidence by applying these two ideas.

Fear Not
Fear is very much a part of life. It is a God-given emotion. To be afraid is normal. If it is out of control, fear is the most paralyzing emotion of all. Fear makes a person doubt their abilities and paralyzes the free use of their talents.

In the ancient Greek language, the word for fear meant flight. It’s the picture of pheasants being flushed from their nesting areas and flying because they have been frightened by the approaching danger of a hunter. It is the soldier in battle fleeing the enemy when being shot. “Did you hear those bullets?” asked one soldier to another. “Twice,” he said, “once when they went past me and once when I passed them.”

While fear is present when facing many of life’s unknowns it does not have to paralyze us. Moving to a new community, changing jobs, making new friends, attending a new church can all be fear-producing events. But they don’t have to erode our fulfillment in life.

One faces their fears with fact. God says that we do not have to fear because his presence accompanies us through the unknown events of life. God is saying that we can walk into the unknown because he walks with us. It’s only two words—fear not—easier to say than to practice, but easier to practice when we know that God’s presence accompanies us.

Let Go
Paul Tournier wrote, “We must always be letting go . . . leaving one place in order to find another, abandoning one support in order to reach the next, turning our backs on the past in order to thrust wholeheartedly toward the future.”

I did not learn to swim until I was eleven years old. I always had this healthy respect for the water. I was cautious. When my wife and I were vacationing in Cancun, Mexico we decided to go snorkeling. Mostly she chose, and I went along. We were taken out to an area that supposedly had beautiful coral reefs and exotic fish. The water was choppy that day, and I spent more time spitting salt water out of my snorkel than looking at fish. A couple of times I thought I was going to drown. I couldn’t have been happier when we got back to dry land.

A few years later my wife and I went to Maui. Everyone said you have to go snorkeling. A favorite place for the locals and vacationers was just a short walk down the beach from where we were staying. Again, my wife wanted to go. So again I complied. We proceeded to the water, which was peaceful and calm. Out from the shoreline beneath the water’s surface were incredible rock formations that created a natural aquarium with multi-colored fish swimming in all directions. It was indeed a sight to behold. But it was only experienced as I let go of my past fears and reluctance. If I had held on to those memories, I would have never experienced a serendipitous moment.

When you step into the unknown, it often feels as though the rug of your life has been pulled out from under you. But remember that if the carpet has been pulled out, God is under the carpet. He will catch you, support you, encourage you, and soften the blow of the fall. You can count on him for that. He can be trusted.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

When You Are Angry with God

IMG_1129-1[1]

Sometimes life hurts. And when we hurt, the natural response is anger. When another person is responsible for our pain, our anger turns toward the one who has injured us. But sometimes there’s no clear culprit in our suffering. At those times, it’s natural to place the blame on the One we know is in control of everything. And so we unleash our anger on God.

Can we blame the young woman of bitter feelings when she finds herself experiencing her third miscarriage in fifteen months? Can we blame the parents for their profound anger toward God when they learn that their baby boy has Down syndrome? How can the elderly man not blame God when he discovers that he has Parkinson’s disease?  Can we blame the victim of a horrible car accident or a cruel rape for lashing out at a God who seems not to care?

Let me remind you of some very important truths when you are angry with God.

 After you blame God for all your suffering, don’t forget to thank him for all his goodness.

I have been asked more times than I care to recall, “If God is good why does he allow _______? Human suffering? Half of the world’s population to starve? Countless babies to be born with severe birth defects? A young father to accidentally run over and crush his two-year-old child while backing out of the driveway?

I’ve been tempted to respond to that question with a question of mine own. “If God is mean why does he give ______?” If God is mean why does he give us a healthy body? A warm bed to sleep in and a roof over our head? A job? Life, even though we are jealous, envious, and spiteful? A son or a daughter who loves us no matter what?

Skeptics often ask, “If God is good explain to me how there can be so much evil in the world.” Ask the skeptic, “If God is so mean explain to me how there can be so much good in the world.”

Don’t get mad at God because he doesn’t do what you want him to do.

Too often we treat God like a pit-bull attack dog. When we see someone or something that’s not to our liking we say to God, “Sic ‘em.” God doesn’t work that way. And, by the way, what gives us the right to think that we can use God as our secret militia to stamp out anyone and everything that does not operate to our standards or specifications? Until we become all knowing and all-powerful, until we can balance grace and justice, then we should resign as chief warden of our little universe.

Too often we want comfort while God wants us miserable.

Would it surprise you, then, for me to say that there are times when God wants us to be miserable? Yes, God is a God of comfort. He comes into our lives to bring comfort and joy and peace and happiness. But, there are those times when God comes to bring discomfort. To issue us a wake-up call. To move us out of complacency. To stretch us. To challenge our comfort zones. To help us see beyond the walls of our measly existence. To break down the barriers we erect because of our prejudices and hate. This was brought home to me once again, when I read, “Counselors are trying to make many people comfortable whom God is trying to make miserable.”

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

While you desire judgment and destruction, God demonstrates mercy and forgiveness.

God is a God of grace. Time and time again, God has displayed his unmerited favor and love upon us. And all the while, we deserve judgment and punishment. So, the next time the angry erupts, remember that we deserve judgment, but God grants mercy.

A young mother who lost a baby said, “We still don’t have all the answers, but we’re working it through. Our anger and pain have gradually been replaced by his peace.”

We all experience tragedy. How we respond to God during suffering will, to a large degree, determine if we will emerge from that crisis weakened or strengthened. When life hurts, we have two choices. We can become bitter at God or better with God. We can build barriers between God and ourselves or build bridges to a deeper relationship with a loving and caring God.

The choice is ours.

Recently I wrote a book on Psalm 23, Soul Therapy: The Healing Words of Psalm 23, that speaks to the heart, quiets your spirit, and eases loneliness. This psalm is a picture of contentment; it represents that mental state and physical place for which everyone longs. I share how Psalm 23 can comfort and empower your life. Click here to claim your copy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Four Lessons of Contentment

Contentment[1]

Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., observes that our society is marked by “inextinguishable discontent.” Our quest is usually not for contentment but for what is better and what is next. We want a better job with better pay and a better boss. We want better relationships and a better car and a better house. And, we have a propensity to live endlessly for the next thing—the next weekend, the next vacation, the next purchase, and the next experience. We are never satisfied, never content.

Here are four lessons about contentment.

Contentment is learned.

When several of the men who had been prisoners of war during the Vietnam War returned home after surviving the horrors of Hanoi, a number of those brave men said, “We learned after a few hours what it took to survive, and we just adapted to that.” They didn’t whine or complain because they had been captured. They learned contentment.

Contentment is an inside job.

Contentment isn’t denying one’s feelings about unhappiness, but instead it exhibits a freedom from being controlled by those feelings. Contentment isn’t pretending things are right when they are not, but instead it displays the peace that comes from knowing that God is bigger than any problem and that he works them all out for our good. Contentment isn’t a feeling of well-being contingent on keeping circumstances under control, but instead it promotes a joy in spite of circumstances looking to God who never varies. Contentment is a state of the heart, not a state of affairs. Contentment is not based on external circumstances, but rather on an internal source.

Contentment comes by surrendering to God.

Contentment is a matter of accepting from God’s hand what he sends because we know that he is a good God and wants to give good gifts to his children. We accept, therefore, from God’s hand that which he gives. All that is needful he will supply. Even pain and suffering that seemingly cannot be corrected he can redeem.

If we fail to surrender to Christ, we will forever be discontent. Our freedom will be suffocated. We will be in bondage to our desires. Our relationships will be poisoned with jealousy and competition. Potential blessings will be sacrificed. Discontentment has the potential to destroy our peace, rob us of joy, make us miserable, and tarnish our witness. We dishonor God if we proclaim a Savior who satisfies and then go around discontent.

Contentment is often hidden from the casual observer.

Those things we expect to bring contentment surprisingly do not. We cannot depend upon contentment to fall into our laps from education, money, or status because contentment arises from a different source.

The secret of contentment is hidden from the casual observer. What is that secret? Remembering what Jesus has done for you. Because of the cross the believer is freed from the chains of sin. Because of the cross, their salvation is secure. Because of the cross, they have a friendship with God. Because of the cross, their future is heaven. Isn’t that enough? What else really matters? Life’s essentials are taken care of.

Then, you are content.

Did you know that if we practiced love our relationships would be stronger, our jobs would be more meaningful, and our ailments would be fewer? Earlier this year I wrote an encouraging book on love called Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love. The book gets its title from perhaps the greatest statement ever made on love in 1 Corinthians 13. This book provides a guide to love, and, if practiced, it will make us well and whole. Click here to claim your copy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Five Reasons Worry Kills

o-WORRY-facebook[1]

Worry is anxiety full-blown. Worry paralyzes people until they can’t do anything for fear that it will be wrong. The very word worry comes from the Old English word that means “to strangle.” It strangles the very life out of us. There may be more significant sins than worry, but few are more disabling and destructive.

Here are five reasons why worry is counterproductive.

Worry Is Needless
Randy Reid, a 34-year-old construction worker, was welding on top of a nearly completed water tower outside Chicago. Reid unhooked his safety gear to reach for some pipes when a metal cage slipped and bumped the scaffolding on which he stood. The scaffolding tipped, and Reid lost his balance. He fell 110 feet, landing face down on a pile of dirt, just missing rocks and construction debris.

A fellow worker called 911. When paramedics arrived, they found Reid conscious, moving, and complaining of a sore back.

Apparently, the fall didn’t cost Reid his sense of humor. As paramedics carried him on a backboard to the ambulance, Reid had one request: “Don’t drop me.” (Doctors later said Reid came away from the accident with just a bruised lung.)

Sometimes we resemble that construction worker. God protects us from harm in a 110-foot fall, but we’re still nervous about three-foot heights. The God who gives and sustains life can be counted on in the smaller issues of our lives.

Worry Is Senseless
Most of us are familiar with the poem:
Said the robin to the sparrow:
‘I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.’

Said the sparrow to the robin:
‘Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.’

While it is true the birds do not sow, reap or store in barns, they build nests for their families, scratch for food and yank worms out of the ground. But they don’t worry about next year’s worm crop. They sing while they work and live day by day. And God, day by day, provides for them.

Worry Is Useless
Once upon a time, there was a man who worried all the time. He worried about his job, his health, and the economy. He worried about whether he worried too much. A woman co-worker chided him for worrying all the time. “It just doesn’t work,” she said.

“What do you mean, it doesn’t work?” he replied. “Sure it does! Nothing I worry about ever happens!”

Worry changes nothing. Although we pride ourselves on being practical people, worry is perhaps the most impractical thing we do.

If worry changed anything, it might be justified. But there is no evidence that it improves anything for good. Worry is useless. Even more, the evidence indicates that worry makes things worse. It wastes our energy. It exhausts us. We seldom get the restful sleep we need. It impacts our appetite. We eat less, and what we eat is less beneficial to our bodies because worry throws off our digestive system. It skews our mental attitude. We think negative thoughts leading to inner turbulence, fearfulness, lack of confidence.

Worry Is Faithless
A quick glance at the headlines in today’s paper will convince us that there is much in this world to worry us. Nuclear war. Hunger and famine. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Gas and heating oil prices. Wildfires. The list seems endless. As long as the focus of our attention is on these headlines, we will worry. But when our perspective is eternal, we trust God to give us what we need.

The great prayer warrior, George Mueller, who started an orphanage and kept is funded through prayer alone, once wrote, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” Worry can be a signal to redirect your faith. It can be a built-in reminder for you to get better acquainted with your heavenly Father.

Worry Is Godless
Worry is an affront to God. It is a practical denial of what we say we believe. When we worry, we align ourselves with godless people. We deny God’s values. We, therefore, live as though we, too, were godless. Consequently, we reject our heavenly Father. A Father who has promised us, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11 NIV).

Worry cannot live in the presence of God. It cannot breathe in the atmosphere made vital through a relationship with our heavenly Father.

Therefore, stop worrying.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Four Critical Decisions to Save Your Family

Family-Silhouette-3[1]

A man worked for a television studio, but, unlike so many in the TV industry who seldom watch television themselves, this man was addicted to it. He would come home from work, turn on the tube and watch it all evening—usually until it went off the air. He spent little or no time with his two children or his wife. In fact, his kids hardly knew they had a dad. All they knew was that someone living there watched TV all the time.

Needless to say, his marriage was hurting and deeply immersed in isolation. For some reason, however, he and his wife decided to attend a Marriage Enrichment Conference, and that weekend literally changed his life. He realized his priorities were totally wrong and that he was setting a bad example for his children.

When the man got home on the evening following the conference, the first thing he did was take the television set from the family room and store it in the garage. Then he took a family portrait he had stuffed away in a closet and hung it on the wall where the television set used to be.

Next he called his wife and two children into the family room for a family council meeting. As he shared with them his new set of priorities and asked for their forgiveness, his 12-year-old son interrupted him and said, “Dad, now that there is a picture of our family where the television used to be, does this mean we are going to be a family now?”

This husband and father had made a giant step, from spending night after night doing nothing of value, to deciding to be a dad who cared about his family and did something tangible about it.

If it seems that your family is not connecting, let me suggest that you:

Pray about your priorities.
Ask God to help you order your life according to his priorities.

Think through your promotions.
Often promotions come with a corresponding increase in workload and hours. Is it worth it?

Consider changing jobs.
No job is worth sacrificing your spouse or children. No career is more important than your relationship with those you love.

Stop gift wrapping the garbage.
Or anything else that drives you to perfection and sacrifices valuable time with your family. As I was mowing my yard the other day, I thought, “Do I want to be remember for having a beautiful lawn or having a wonderful family?”

We must be diligent to screen out any attacks—vicious or otherwise—that would rob us from spending time with our family. A recent survey by Massachusetts Mutual Insurance found that Americans believe “parents having less time to spend with their families” was the single most important reason for the family’s decline in our society. Spending time with our family is our right. Frank Minirth, M.D., states, “A child’s birthright is the right to spend time with his family.” And every other member of the family has that right, too.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Four Choices to Make in a Crisis

imagesQBAVE3PC

The Chinese language uses two characters to form the word crisis: one means danger, the other opportunity. A crisis can blindside you, bringing pain and added hurt; or it can provide an opportunity, leading you to a new adventure and a new season. The outcome is dependent on your response.

Here are four choices that confront you in a crisis.

1. You can give up or go on.
Choose to go on. Persevere. It’s the ability to hang on when it would have been easier to let go. Persistence jumps to the forefront for those people who survive a crisis. Persistence is the key that keeps us from giving up and letting go.

The dictionary defines perseverance as “the power of going on in spite of difficulties.” Popular colloquial phrases describe it as: “Keep on keeping on.” “Hang in there.” “Put up with it.” “Stick-to-itiveness.” “Don’t quit.” Its synonyms are determination, endurance, tenacity, plodding, stamina, and backbone.

So don’t quit. Never give up. Keep going. Hold on. It has been said, “Life is like reading a book. It begins to make sense when we near the end.” Perseverance maintains the stamina needed to endure the pains and hardships of life. So hold on, hang in there, don’t quit.

2. You can retreat to the past or move forward into the future.
Choose to move forward. Crisis by their very nature is frightening and depressing. We tend to retreat to the past—what is familiar, what is comfortable, what is known. Don’t do it. Move forward. Faith is required in moving forward. To move past the dangers to meet the opportunities of a new day, to move ahead in life, to grow, always requires faith. As we move forward on faith that the unknown becomes known, that the darkness becomes light, that the night becomes day. Moving forward in faith is like walking toward an eye-opening electric door. The door only opens as we move forward toward it.

Facing a crisis often feels as though the rug of your life has been pulled out from under you. But remember that if the carpet has been pulled out, God is under the rug. He will catch you, support you, encourage you, and soften the blow of the fall. You can count on him for that. He can be trusted. Oswald Chambers wrote: “It is no use to pray for the old days; stand square where you are and make the present better than any past has been. Base all on your relationship with God and go forward, and presently you will find that what is emerging is infinitely better than the past ever was.”

3. You can withdraw from people or connect with people.
Choose to connect with people. Too often when faced with a crisis the human tendency is to isolate ourselves from others, going into hiding. We need to communicate to others for help, support, encouragement, and strength.

The connection is at the heart of religious experience. Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of sociology, spent years in the South Sea Islands studying the religion of primitive natives to discover what religion was like before it was formalized with prayer books and professional clergy. In 1912, he published his influential book, Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, in which he suggested that “The primary purpose of religion at its earliest level was not to put people in touch with God, but to put them in touch with one another.”

Crises are a time to connect with others, not to withdraw.

4. You can fear the future or trust the Savior.
Choose to trust the Savior. Fear is very much a part of a crisis. Fear is a God-given emotion. If anxiety is out of control, it is the most paralyzing emotion of all. Fear makes a person doubt their abilities and paralyzes the free use of their talents. It brings on “cold feet,” makes one a “chicken,” and eats away at one’s “guts.” Fear causes one to miss a sure two-foot putt, a free throw in the closing seconds of a game, a promising opportunity for financial gain, a friendship that could last a lifetime. Fear motivates us to make more money, “just in case;” to always have the resume out, “you never know;” and to look over your shoulder, “you can’t trust anyone.”

In the ancient Greek language, the word for fear meant flight. It’s the picture of pheasants being flushed from their nesting areas and flying because they have been frightened by the approaching danger of a hunter. It is the soldier in battle fleeing the enemy when being shot. “Did you hear those bullets?” asked one soldier to another. “Twice,” he said, “once when they went past me and once when I passed them.”
While fear is present when facing a crisis, it does not have to paralyze us.

An antidote for fear exists. One faces their concern with fact. God says that we do not have to fear because his presence accompanies us through the crisis events of life. God is saying that we can walk through a crisis because he walks with us

 

Posted in character, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment