Some Small Things Aren’t Good

25 10 2013

Bugs…I have seen a lot of them. They have ranged from the smallest of gnats to scorpions and spiders. But that’s not what this post is about. Not really. There’s another bug that I have been exposed to. Having spent 14 years in a technical career as a network administrator I have seen my share of software bugs too. They are ‘glitches’ in the programming that cause the program to not work correctly or crash all together. All of these things are small when compared to other things on the planet. But we can’t discount that they can cause issues to be dealt with.

smallNot long ago I posted about small but not-so-insignificant things. Just like the small, good things in life, there can be small, bad things that adversely effect us. If we’re not careful they can creep in and destroy something that we have taken great care to build. A failed greeting by a friend at church can turn into hurt, anger, and bitterness before we know it. One misunderstanding can destroy friendships that have lasted for years. One ear turned toward gossip can poison the perspective of even the most loyal people. All of these things are small in comparison to some of the things we have all seen…but they are no less destructive if not dealt with.

Not long ago my niece (Madison) started complaining about her hip hurting. It appeared to be a sprained muscle but a visit to the doctor was warranted. After multiple visits, including one to children’s Hospital in St. Louis, the diagnosis was a hairline fracture. There was a crack in her hip that was smaller than a hair follicle. This was causing all the discomfort.Because of that small crack in the bone Madie was confined to a wheelchair for 4 weeks. Thankfully it healed and she is doing fine. Yet the impression on me was made. Some small things aren’t good for you.

One small drop in a pool can cause ripples to reverberate throughout the entire thing. One missed screw can cause a machine to fail or worse. Those small things, while not entirely harmful, can set off a chain of events that can cause serious damage. One missed prayer time may not be a huge thing…but it can lead to more and more if not dealt with. One slip in our time in God’s Word can lead to our not being armed and ready to do battle when necessary. All by themselves these events are small but add them together and the weak spot becomes a target for the enemy to launch an all out assault.

surrenderSo…what do we do about the little things? That can be easy and hard all at the same time. The basic thing is to keep up on the beneficial little things. Prayer and Bible reading are as essential to our spiritual life as food and water are to our body. One day missed won’t kill us but it can significantly weaken us. David put it this way, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.(Psalm 119:111 — NIV)” He also said, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.(Psalm 27:8 — NIV)”

Finally we need to learn to keep our guard up. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.(Proverbs 4:23 — NIV)” In my martial arts classes one thing we are constantly told is to keep our hands up. This is because if we don’t we get punched in the head. We need to learn to keep our hands up; not to block the enemy but in surrender to the Father. And when we do that we can guard against the little things that could do us great harm.

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Under My Control

30 08 2013

A couple of weeks ago my men’s life group leader assigned some ‘homework’. He had been thinking about the verse in Galatians 5 that lists the fruit of the Spirit. Just for all of our reference it can be found here. Over the next few days as I drove home from work (a 45 minute commute) my normal list of podcasts began taking on a theme. In particular one of my regular listening broadcasts. T D Jakes was sharing a series titled The Love Letter. He made the following statement in his message ‘Love has no Loopholes’, “If He commands me to do it…then it must be in my power to accomplish it. That means love is controllable.” And something clicked.

To really understand what clicked you need a little background. When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus gave two. “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 — NIV)”

Most of us have heard and/or quoted these verses but this time it was different. I asked God to reveal something new about this and how it relates to the fruit of the Spirit. And then I started listening. Here’s what I believe He began to (and continues to) show me.

We tend to think about love as an emotion. We think of it in terms of feelings for our children, parents, friends, family, and others. How we feel about the person determines the level of love we have for them. But that’s not what Jesus is saying. He says it is a commandment. He says it is something we HAVE to do. In fact…it’s the biggest thing that we have to do.

In addition to the degrees of love that we feel for people we think it can change based on circumstances that have happened or the other person involved caused. For example…the husband or wife files for divorce stating, “I just don’t love you anymore.” The kids say that they don’t love their parents because they won’t get them the latest thing that they want. It’s all event-driven. We love based on how we FEEL.

loveBut what if love isn’t a feeling at all? No…I’m not talking about Boston’s song, “More Than a Feeling” or the cliché statements like, “Love is an action.” What if our capacity to love is based on choosing to offer grace and mercy even when we don’t feel like it? Does that sound familiar? It should. That’s what Jesus did for us.

Let’s go a little bit deeper into this. The first item mentioned in the list of the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE. It’s not something that is givento us. We don’t learn to love…we choose to love. We decide whether we will follow God’s commandment or whether we will break it. It’s totally up to us.

So the next time I say the words, “I love you” to my wife they will carry a different meaning. I’m not saying that I feel something (although I definitely do). It’s a decision on my part to follow the commandment of the Almighty. I am making a choice to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and love regardless of what is returned. And let’s face it…if we all did more of that the world we live in would be a very different place.





Learning to Use the Tools God Gave Us

30 05 2013

I’m going to ask a loaded question (because I already know the answer). Are you ready? “Have you ever felt like you’re the only one dealing with a problem or situation?” Of course you have. We all have at one point or another. And you know what? It’s normal. As long as there is trouble in this world we will all feel isolated. Even the prophet Elijah felt this way, “…I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too. (1 Kings 19:10 — NIV)” It’s one of the tactics of the enemy to isolate us. Why? Because he knows that there’s strength in numbers.

Our tendency, when we feel isolated, is to withdraw and wallow in our sorrow and misery. And you know what? That’s exactly what the devil wants us to do! Why? Because when we do that we fail to use the tools that God gave us to combat this tactic. “What are these tools you speak of?” Well…I’m glad you asked.

Tools

1. Realize you’re never alone. I talk in-depth about this in other posts so I won’t reiterate those things here. Suffice it to say that God’s Word is packed with promises about us not ever being left alone. Trust that these promises are true because God’s character won’t allow Him to lie (see Numbers 23:19). For more…look here and here.

2. Throw it at God. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 — NIV)” The word cast in the original Greek means to throw or place upon. This verse is telling us to throw our anxiety, issues, and problems at Him. It all comes down to trusting that God can handle the situation. And since He’s the creator of the universe…I think He can.

3. Find a trusted person (in the family of God) to help you carry the load. This is probably the least used tool that God gave us. We’re all, at some point or another, going to have problems, issues, trouble, stresses, worries, and more. Why in the world do we think we have to face them alone? We should all be willing to support each other in these tough times. And let’s face it…we will all need to be supported too.

  • “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15 — NIV)”
  • “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 — NIV)”

There are more verses like this but suffice it to say that we’re all part of God’s family and family should stick together.

God has given us so many things to fight the isolated, depressed, and lonely feelings that we inevitably face in life. The ones above are just a few. The thing to remember is don’t face it alone. There’s strength in numbers.





New Year’s Resolutions

1 01 2013

It’s 2013…so hard to believe.  My how time flies by.  Didn’t we just watch the ball drop on tv last week?  It certainly seems that way.  Now we’re back at the beginning of a brand new year.  Everyone is making their resolutions for the year.  The things that they want to do to make this year better than the last.

Well…that really got me thinking.  If something needs a resolution then there’s an issue that needs to be fixed.  In other words there was something wrong.  Now, most of our resolutions are pretty much the same.  “I want to lose weight.” Or maybe, “I want to exercise more.”  Most of these things are just changes we want to make in our lifestyle.  They’re not things that need to be corrected or issues that need to be solved.

What if , though, we really take a look at some of the things that we want to change — issues that we really should work on and resolve in our lives?  What if we focus on these things?  What kind of change would that make?  How would it affect others?

Well…I’ve been thinking about this and have come up with my list.  If you choose to…feel free to add to it.

  • Love more not less
  • Listen more, speak less
  • Take time for the important things, not the urgent
  • Take time for the little things as God whispers and the world is loud (one of my favorites).
  • Live out Phil 4:8
  • Say “Thank you” more
  • Give more, demand less

This is not a complete list.  It’s one that constantly changes and adapts.  You see I believe that our resolutions list should be one that makes our lives complete…not just the new year.  And when we really work on this list then every day of every month of every year will be the greatest that they can be.





What an Influence

28 11 2012

I’ve been thinking about influence today.  One of the biggest people to influence my life is my grandfather…or “Papa” as we all call him.  Yes, even his adult grandchildren call him that.  Growing up around him brings back a lot of fond memories.  So many times we (my brother, sister, and I) would be headed out the door for school.  Here comes Papa in his truck ready to take us fishing for the day.  We’d excitedly look at mom and she would smile and nod her approval.  Then off we raced to change our clothes and get our poles.  What fun that was!

He was an influence in many ways.  He is, in fact, one of the reasons that I am in ministry today.  Now a retired minister…Papa was my pastor until I was 16 years old.  He is a man of integrity, honesty, conviction, compassion, and so many other things.  I saw all of these at work in his life.  He affected my life for the better.

If you look up the word influence in the dictionary you will see that it is both a noun and a verb.  As we all know…a noun is a person, place, or thing.  Someone or something is an influence on you.  That person or thing affects you in noticeable ways.  A verb, on the other hand, is an action word.  Someone or something does something to influence you.  Hmm…isn’t that interesting?  We can look at those who were an influence on us and will probably see both the noun and verb.  That’s true in my Papa’s case.  The person he was affected me…but his actions also affected me.

I believe that being an influence — the noun, the thing– comes from good character.  A character that is God shaped.  It is something that we are because God has placed it there and continually works on it in us.  The verb influence — the action part — is a result of what occurs in our life because of the God-given character.  Our integrity, honesty, trustworthiness.   It’s the compassion on others that changes them and compels them to have it on others.  It’s the integrity in our family, home, school, and workplace that others notice and strive to live out because of us.   All of these things are what we do and, by doing them, we affect the lives of others.

So my prayer for today is this…”God…may You be the greatest influence in my life.  May I always feel Your presence changing and molding me.  Help me to see those that you place in my path to influence me.  And may I be the instrument of your influence in the lives of others.  May this be all for Your glory.  Amen”





Don’t Save it for the Holidays

20 11 2012

It’s here again. The holiday season. Time for big meals, laughter, love, peace, joy. All the good stuff. But it really seems to me that we should have these things all the time.

The contemporary Christian group Avalon sings a song titled “Don’t Save it all for Christmas Day”.  It talks about giving, loving, and laughing all year long.  I think it’s something that we need to do.  Why should we just be cheerful during the holidays?  Some of us aren’t even cheerful then.    Why not share what God has given us all year long?  After all…didn’t Jesus come to give us a full life?  So…in honor of the holidays getting started I would like to propose three ways we can give all year long.

  1. Be thankful for what you have.
    As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving we always stop at this time of the year to count our blessings and be thankful.  Well I think that this should happen all year long.  All too often we forget about this because of the busyness of life and it saps the joy and happiness from us.  So go ahead…be thankful all the time.
  2. Be cheerful…not cheerless.
    It says in Proverbs that a cheerful heart is like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22).  We all, at times, need to take our medicine.  It makes us feel better.  It soothes the aches and pains when we’re sick.  Well…start taking your medicine.  Cheer up.  If you’re not sure how…start with #1 above.
  3. Give always.
    Why do we wait until Christmas to give gifts?  It never makes much sense to me.  “Well,” you say, “it gets expensive to give all the time.”  I disagree.  We don’t have to spend money to give a gift.  How about the gift of a kind word or a smile?  How about helping those in your neighborhood when they need it?  It doesn’t take any money to offer any of these things and they go a long way to bring joy into the lives of everyone.

I know that there’s more ways that we can put this into practice.  Hopefully you’re thinking of ways that you can practice this.  If you don’t mind…share yours with us.  What ways do you see to give all the time?








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