Posts Tagged ‘Christian Living’

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Oreo Cookie of Life

May 26, 2020

 

Most of the time we over-complicate our relation to the absolute (God).  Now, over-complicate does not mean that we are making our relationship harder than it needs to be.  

Dying to self is a difficult task requiring endurance and perseverance. Over-complicate usually means misalignment; doing things for the wrong reasons.

I have recently engaged in an enlighting task for myself.  I applied a tool of my profession, a logic diagram, to the analysis of my spiritual life.  I want my “what” to correspond correctly to the appropriate “why”.

A logic diagram flows purpose (why) into actions (how).  A well constructed logic diagram readily reveals the reason for every contemplated activity and allows for each activity to be crafted to achieve the true purpose.

My logic diagram resembles an Oreo cookie.

One wafer is to glorify God & enjoy Him / Love God; my purpose.  The other wafer is faith; my how.  Everything between those cookie wafers is my life.

Not very complicated.

It is very easy to allow our relationship with the world around us to dictate out relationship with God or have no relationship with God.  That means we have replaced our wafers and if you’ve got wrong wafers them you’ve got inappropriate relationships.

That is the sweet work of a faithful follower of Christ; getting the sweet filling of life appropriately positioned between the absolutes of God and faith.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/497549

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Sign in the Sad

May 24, 2020

Depression is something I don’t understand.  I gravitate towards answers that are conclusive with clear prognosis.  Depression does not accommodate either. 

Depression does not lend itself to a comfortable cause-effect diagnosis.  I want those whom I love to be happy.  I want to “fix” it for them.  Their sadness seems like my failure, even though I know it is not.  

Depression relegates solvers into supports verging on spectators.  

I have heard the explanation of causes – chemical, biological, neurological, environmental and the combination there of.  I don’t dispute their veracity while acknowledging their bothersome uncertainty.

I have often wondered if there is more intertwined in the uncertain explanations than the physical.

We are told that there will be a time when the experience of the depressed will not be limited in numbers.   Consider a world where the reality of the depressed is not unique, not a clinical diagnosis, but the universal experience of the whole. Where the joy has gone and darkness reigns.  Where the merry of heart have resigned and numbness ascends.  

Maybe, depression is more than a taste for an unfortunate few but a universal sign beyond that particular issue; a foretaste to when merriment yields to blindfolds being removed.  Reality being revealed to a world, which has chosen it’s own rule.  A reminder of the warnings of old, to the prophesies, where we are told, that merriment in what we hold will be banished beyond any gravitational fold.

Maybe, these thoughts are more imagination than inspiration, but I long for the depressed to be made whole now. Even if depression isn’t a sign, I am motivated even more to pray for the lost to be found, so that they never know the absence of joy, follow into the on-coming darkness.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/496874

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Socially Distant

May 21, 2020


We are told to distance ourselves.

Separation has become a prescription.

Conveyance prevention, a priority.

Efficacy measured by normality.

We separate, fearing the unseen.

Celebrating the fruitlessness of disease never known.

But what of maladies needing proximity?

I have heard it said, “I’m taking a break from God.”

Distancing for a time from the Divine.

Is separation the prescription for spiritual affliction?

What conveyance is this break preventing?

Do we need less Spirit; peace, love, joy?

To isolate alone, isn’t that a symptom of the malady?

Distancing oneself to ruin, it seems.

All the while, the prescription resides in drawing near.

We should pull close when unfelt feelings arise.

When God seems not to hear.

When the old man wants to flee,

We bind him in our need.

Abiding in the Spirit, there is the key.

Side by side or I’ll think, “A break is all I need”.

Assurance will come, when ruin is foregone,

Through the healing breath of the Unseen.

Celebrated in the fruitfulness of the Known.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/495489

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Testing For Fear – Psalm 56:3

May 14, 2020

I am a bit anxious this morning, I will not lie.

All the self-confidence belies the insecurities of a day full of significance.  Today, I lead a team readied for a presentation instrumental in winning a five year, $15 million contract.

It is a big deal for a small company.  We have been waiting for eight years. 

I am embarrassed by my own anxiety.  No lives hang in the balance.  My employment is not dependent upon the perfect pitch.  All today can hold is a hope for a bulwark against tomorrow’s uncertainty,  so that I won’t have to worry about where tomorrow’s prosperity will reside.

Oh, foolish man that I am.

In essence, my anxiety reveals an inherent resistance to trusting the One who truly controls the conditions of my future.

God knows what I need and when I need it. He has provided my daily bread my entire life and I know He will provide tomorrow’s.

My anxiety is just a fear;  a revelation of an unholy alliance with control.

Are you fearful, like me?  Our response to uncertainty is the most revealing test one’s faith can undergo. Testing for fear is not a scare opportunity.  

The nature response to uncertainty is fear, whether we recognize it as fear or not.  Fear changes us.  It effects our behavior.  It modifies our attitude.  It steals our joy.

Fear is a foe.

So, I repented this morning.  I have changed my anxiety to trust.  I have done all the work to be prepared for today but God has done more.  It has been Him who has sheltered me to this point and it will be Him who shelters me through tomorrow. 

Therefore, I can enjoy the opportunity of today.  There are not many people who get to do what I have the privilege to do.  I will trust, which enables me to enjoy.
https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/491949

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Pride and Persistence – Numbers 16:8–11

May 9, 2020

“And Moses said to Korah, “Please listen, sons of Levi! Is it too little for you that the God of Israel set you apart from the community of Israel to allow you to approach him to do the work of the tabernacle of Yahweh, to stand before the community to serve them? He has allowed you to approach him, you with all your brothers, the descendants of Levi, but yet you also seek the priesthood. Therefore you and your company that has banded together against Yahweh. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?””

What does your heart desire?

What is the passion of your life?

What motivation drives you toward your goals?

I have a list of goals that I wrote shortly after graduation from college.  Most of those goals have been obtained.  Some are beyond my grasp.  A few would not be enumerated if the list were written today.

I struggle to discern the motivation behind my own youthful list and now even my middle-aged musings.  Therefore, I will not hazard in the foolish task of questioning the motivation of others priorities since I am baffled by my own.  

However, I am aware of the fine line between pride and persistence.  

A good goal will stretch you.  It will challenge you.  A good goal will require persistence.  Yet, the persistence of a good goal can cultivate a discontent in the unfulfilled now.

How do you live in the unfulfilled now?

Discontent in the now can be dangerous for decision making.  Consider Korah and his followers.  They challenged Moses and Aaron because the role of their now was too little for the hopeful goals of their future.  Their decision to resolve an unfulfilled now resulted not in fulfillment but in destruction.  

They wanted a priesthood that was not God’s will.

I don’t know the all motivations of Korah. I do know that his persistence was motivated by something other than righteousness.  

We are called to contentment in God, which means joyfullness with where you are today.  I often ask myself when I sense a dangerously developing persistence, “will I be content in Christ Jesus, if nothing changes”?  

There have been seasons where the honest answer to this question has been “no”.  We all battle the multiple manifestations of pride.  For me, pride often lurks within the persistence necessary for betterment.  I want to be all that I can be.  I want to live to my fullest potential.

Why?

Why are you striving?  Why are you persistently pursuing your greatest potential?  You have to know your why…honestly know your why…if you are to have any hope of balancing current contentment with righteous persistence.

https://ref.ly/Nu16.8-11 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Fear or Friend – Psalm 46:1–3

May 4, 2020

“God is our refuge and strength,
a very sufficient help in troubles.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth change,
and though the mountains totter into the midst of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though mountains shake with its surging water.”

May I be bold enough to add, “though a virus infects throughout the earth, and though people fall, though economies totter, though our healthcare system shakes”.

We are not a people accustomed to uncertainty.  We are accustomed to regular returns, predictable profits, and a pill for every malady. We are accustomed to the refuge of a regular wage and the strong towers of a robust hospital.

Where does the anxiety of this time come from?  Why do we hear of despair from COVID’s destruction?

The earth has changed, and our response has been an innate cry for help in these time of trouble. That cry has been direcred largely toward the government.  The government, who according to the news, should possess all the resources for sufficient help.

Yet, this fact reveals the greatest deficiency of our modern world.  Society’s cry reveals it’s misplaced trust for refuge and strength.  Our greatest help in times of trouble is never the institutions of man nor the strength of one’s net worth.  

COVID is a merely another revelation of our greatest vulnerability.  We are a society in a fallen world, full of sinful people without sufficient help against the troubles of coming eternity.

Therefore, COVID is a blessing.  Any crisis that awakens a misplaced cry, serves the helpless by informing them of a trust that has drifted from the true source of strength and refuge to an illusion.

Uncertainty is a friend.  A friend does not allow loved ones to meander into destruction with insufficient refuge.  This current uncertainty can be that friend if we allow it to reveal were we have placed out trust.
https://ref.ly/Ps46.1-3 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Spiritual Competition

April 26, 2020

If you are still sheltering in place as I am, here is the video for a sermon I gave on spiritual competition and the analogy to physical competition.  Maybe, it will make it feel more like a Sunday.

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Leadership for the Right Purpose – Proverbs 28:11

April 12, 2020

“A man of wealth is wise in his own eyes,
but the intelligent poor sees through him”


Position sways responses.

I learned this early in my career as I was in a contracted regulatory role.  I was the final gatekeeper for those who wanted approval for their developments. As a result of my position, I regularly had my ego stroked.  One would have concluded by the praise that I was a sage.  I was not.

I have done this with clients throughout my career. I need a client’s business so I moderate how I interact with them.  I try hard not to manipulate but I equally try to stay within a realm of professional client development. This means that I work to assuage unpleasantness in favor of the client’s position.  I have worked for clients who are not very good at their job.  I would never tell them they are inadequate.  It is not my job to change the image that they have of themselves.

I am now President of the company where I have worked for over 20 years.  It is strange to witness the change in behavior as one ascends the corporate ladder.  People treat you differently.  U have learned that just because no one disagrees with you, doesn’t mean they’re in agreement.  It is easy to get an inflated image of oneself.  It is easy to misinterprete modulated responses for admiration.

One’s position sways how people  react to you.

Therefore, those in leadership, positions of authority, have to fight becoming wise in their own eyes. Here are some suggestions for that fight:

  • There are few truly brilliant people in this world.  Just assume you are not, no matter what people say.  Remember, in comparison to God, you an imbecile.
  • Share your mistakes, concerns, and uncertainties.  Allow people, under your authority, to know that you don’t have it all figured out and that you need their help.  Be confident enough to allow your true level of wisdom to be seen. Be humble so that you won’t have to be humbled.
  • If you feel like responses are too restrained, then create safe “devil’s advocate” opportunities for sharing opinions without them having to be in direct contradiction to your own.  It is hard to stand up to authority, even in the safest of places, so make it easier.
  • Keep your opinions to yourself.  Others will have the tendency to reflect your opinions back to you.  We all like giving the “right” answer.  Ask for opinions before you share your own.
  • Delegate problem solving.  Allow space for other’s ideas and allow the idea to remain theirs.  Work with your problem solvers to get the idea in a form that you can agree with, but go the long route to make sure it is still their idea. Do not take it over.  You don’t have to own everything.  Treat others as you would want to be treated, and that includes other people’s ideas and work.
  • Titles are intoxicating.  Remember that you are in leadership to serve, not to be served.  If you are pursuing leadership for the perks and how you think the position will make you feel, then you are pursuing it for the wrong reasons.  You are in danger of becoming wise in your own eyes.  So, downplay your title.  Remember that all things are a gift from God.  Pursue leadership for the fulfillment of the gifts that God has given you. He has you in your role for a purpose.  That purpose is to glorify Him and not yourself.

I hope these thoughts are helpful, but then I might just be wise in my own eyes.

https://ref.ly/Pr28.11 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Mind Matters – Philippians 4:8–9

March 31, 2020

“Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are pleasing, whatever things are commendable, if there is any excellence of character and if anything praiseworthy, think about these things. And the things which you have learned and received and heard about and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

My mind prepends things; good things, bad things.
My mind ponders things; kind things, cruel things.
My mind plans things; commendable things, contemptible things.

My mind conceives things; wonderful things, wicked things.
My mind craves things; honorable things, hurtful things.
My mind concocts things; uplifting things, demeaning things.

My mind flits amongst so many things, that rarely is it ever settled.  Mixed and competing emotions battle for that moment of expression, when the mind touches the physical world.  Where the mind settles at the moment of action determines whether those actions are destined for the treasury or the dung heap.

The mind matters; the things (thoughts) of the mind matter.

The mind determines who we are in the physical world, which matters. I don’t want to diminish the works  of the mortal world.  However, the motives of the immortal world, the world of the mind, matter more.  Good works from bad motives always corrupts the produce, no matter how pleasing it may appear to the physical eye.  

The settling of thoughts matter because your thoughts define who you are.  Who are you?  Write down five thoughts upon which your mind routinely revolves.  Are they worthy thoughts or unworthy?  Are they redeeming thoughts or demeaning?  The preponderence of those thoughts define you.  Therefore, they matter.

If those thoughts are not who you have been called to be, then you must change your mind.  Easy to say, hard to do.  Yet, the mind must be controlled in order for it to be changed.

How do you control the mind?  First, you must be resolved upon who God has called His children to be. Write down five characteristics that you know should defined a child of God.

These are the feasts for your mind to settle upon when it is unsettled.  These are the honorable things, the right things, the pure things, the pleasing things, the commendable things, the fruit-of-the-spirit things for your mind to return to.  Think about these things. Ask the Holy Spirit for these things.  Your mind is a collaboration between your will and God.  Ask and you will receive. Think upon the things of God and it will happen.

And soon, the things you think about, the things your mind returns to, will transform you into the person God has called you to be, practicing things pleasing to Him and worthy of the treasury.

https://ref.ly/Php4.8-9 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Conflict Resolution: Which Path? – Proverbs 15:1

March 29, 2020

“A soft answer will turn away wrath,
but a word of trouble will stir anger.”

Imagine we have a difficult hike to make. Our destination is a community of peace on the opposite side of a mountain.  This mountain is large and formidable.  There are areas of instability, where a rock slide could sweep us away. There are vast stretches lacking any springs for refreshment.

Obviously, the shortest course will be to go directly over the mountain.  These routes are poorly marked and likely filled with all the hardship of an ill-advised expedition.  Many have tried these routes, but few parties ever arrived at the community of peace intact.

The other route is long.  It meanders along the valleys and ravines. The path is broad, following a refreshing stream.  Travelers wind past hazards while slowly gaining elevation.  

Often, the gains are imperceptible causing travelers to become discouraged and set off on more direct routes. Those routes rarely lead up the mountain.  Often, these impatient travelers find themselves once again at the base of the same mountain or a new one.

The patient traveler diligently stays on the long path with his destination firmly fixed in his mind.  The goal for these patient parties is not simply to overcome the mountain but to summit the mountain as a group, not as individuals.  The long route is the most likely path for the group to achieve their goal and reach the community of peace but it takes uncommon endurance.

I consider conflict a mountain.  Conflicts are barriers to peace and unity, just like a mountain separating you from your destination.  Conflicts are difficult with a lot of hazards which can result in even more barriers if not handled carefully.

Some refuse to deal with conflict.  They are like the travelers that never leave camp.  They sit at the base of a mountain and wonder why the conflict never goes away.

Some choose a direct route.  They say it like it is.  They don’t select their words carefully and rarely listen for a response without an interpretation.  These direct routes often include “words of trouble” that only stir up more anger.  Many, on a direct route, excuse their course as being part of their nature. As if, they had no other choice but a direct confrontation.  

In my experience, directness is not a personality trait.  The direct person is usually either impatient or selfish (unloving).  Those on the direct route rarely get off the mountain of conflict.  It is where they live.  They feel like the world is out to get them, never realizing that they are the ones continuing to raise more mountains (barriers).

Gentleness of tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it causes a break in spirit. Proverbs 15:4 

The long route is hard, mostly because it involves a lot of self-control.  Yet, gentleness takes time.  Soft words must be allowed to seep in and moderate the heart of a conflict.  Kindness has to be kindled and love often must be demonstrated through long-suffering.  Conflict resolution requires consideration, which will rarely be granted when there is a break in spirit. 

Travelers of the long route must value gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control, and love.  I don’t see travelers on direct routes valuing those same attributes.  Is it any wonder that a world valuing direct, powerful, harsh, responses is a world mired in conflict?

Conflict is not fun.  However, the mountain will never go away until it is surmounted.  If you are ready to deal with your mountain, what route are you going to take? May I encourage you to take the long way?

 Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3–4

https://ref.ly/Pr15.1 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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