Move Forward With Confidence! Here’s How.

We know that Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom 10:17).  When Jesus said we would know the Truth, and the Truth would make us free, the implication of the verse is that it’s the TRUTH YOU KNOW that makes you free.

About a week ago, while I was having stuff done to my house, there was something that I wanted done, and I was pretty sure it was supposed to be done, but it kept getting passed over by the contractors.  I watched day after day as they worked around the area I was looking at, but day after day, they didn’t do anything.  I started getting anxious.  I even went and found the quote, just to look and see if it had been overlooked in the pricing.  Nope!  It was there!  So why do they keep working around it?  I began to create a  picture in my head of a big confrontation with the contractor in my front yard – out there in front of God and everybody.

It suddenly hit me.  This is not faith.  This is fear!  Fear is perverted faith, and I know better than this.  God gives me favor with people.  Then I thought….wait a minute, where is that in the Bible?  I couldn’t think of a specific scripture that promised that God has given me favor with everybody.  But what does the Bible say?

I remembered Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Then right on the heels of that,  Rom 8:31 & 32  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

To me, knowing where that truth was located was very important.  Many times we get ideas about what God is like or how He will act, but without actually having a scripture to back that up, you can’t really have faith.

Why?  Because as soon as your good thoughts about God get challenged, and they will be challenged, you will realize that what you believe about God is not based on a firm foundation.  Faith must be based on a firm foundation.  In order for something to be scriptural, we have to actually have scripture.

I began to think about it.  He will cause this to work out for my good.  He loves me.  He’s working in this situation on my behalf.  I made the shift on the inside.  I prayed about it, basing my prayer and my faith on the scriptures that the Holy Spirit brought to my memory.  I was now in a place of confidence.  I had faith that God was involved, and that it was going to be alright.  The next day, I had a passing conversation with the contractor, who all on his own, pointed out the part I had been wondering about and indicated that he wasn’t finished, and that it would all be done. Thank God!

Faith calls for the manifestation of itself.  It’s where we learn from God’s own example that we are to call those things that be not, as though they were (Rom 4:17).  We see from Job’s example that Fear also has a voice (Job 3:25).   It calls for the manifestation of itself too, because it’s perverted faith. Fear is having confidence in the circumstance and it’s ability to hurt you.

How do you move forward in your life?  When you navigate through your day, how do you know that the choices you make are the right ones?  Do you often see potential issues before they happen and successfully avoid them, or do you often find yourself knee deep in drama and wonder how you got there?

Recently I was having a conversation with someone at work.  They pointed out that they thought I was well suited for my work.  They commented that I am so confident in what I and my team do, that I am not easily pushed around.

The truth is that I do my job like I live my life.  I live by standards. A standard is defined as “an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations”.  One way to look at standards is that they are the rule by which everything else is measured.  They are the ideal.  It’s helpful if these are also unchanging.

In Metrology (The Science of Measurement), Primary standards are the highest order of standard.  They were at one time based on artifacts.  Items that were assigned final authority concerning a set measurement.  The problem with this is that artifacts are objects that are subject to change.  In recent years, science has been working to move the standards from artifact basis to a basis of fundamental physical constants.  That way, if anything happened to the standard bar for a meter, we could still measure a true meter.

A Standard is true.  It’s always the right answer.  When I’m at work, I operate according to the standards set forth by our executives regarding production speeds, processes and costs.  To me, these standards are like the company constitution.  When I operate in accordance with them, I am always in a defensible position.  I can have confidence that I operated according to the will of the executives.

The same is true with my life.  I can live in confidence to the extent that I am living according to the standard of God’s Word.  It is my final authority above all else.

In recent years, the world has become more vocal in its resistance to all things Christian.  It seems to have become popular to make fun of Christians for believing that the Bible is the truth.  There are even people who grew up in church that now take verbal “cheap shots” at Christians for believing what the Bible says. The Bible is the truth though, and it is the standard by which all things will be measured in the end.

It’s important not only to know about the standard but to actually know it.  Jesus said in John 8:31 & 32  If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. It’s important to know God loves you, but it’s more important to know specifically where the promise is that tells you that God loves you.

When it comes to knowing what to do, it’s so important to know what the standards are, and to submit yourself to them.  Only then can you stand firm when the world is telling you something different.

Today, you can move forward with confidence.  The very next step you take can be the first step toward the things you so desperately need.  What it takes…what it always takes, is a commitment.  Without a solid decision on your part, you will still be pushed around.  You must be as committed to the truth as the truth is to you.

I want to remind you of the choice Joshua required Israel to make in Joshua 24:15.  “Choose you this day whom you will serve”, and then he adds “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

The choice is yours.

Your buddy Art.

For more info about your standing with God, Click Here.

 

 

 

A short update from Art.

Hello to you!  I want to take a minute and just have a conversation with you, my beloved reader.  I really value our connection and I don’t take it lightly.  Because of that, I think I need to give you an update as to why my posting schedule has been a little erratic.  It’s basically comes down to me needing to take some time, and focus on getting some stuff done.  

Before Christmas I started on an ambitious woodworking project that I’m right in the middle of now.  

Here’s what I’m modeling after,

www.woodsmithplans.com

 

and here’s where my version is today.

Instead of tools, my version is going to be a cosmetics and make-up brush chest with a mirror in the lid.  🙂

We’ve also decided to replace the windows and siding on our house.  The windows were done last week, and we’re right in the middle of the siding part.  We needed this badly.  This house had been foreclosed on, and we purchased it from a bank.  When we took possession of it, there were no doors on, or in the house.  No light fixtures, vanity, water heater or air conditioning.  They had all been stripped by the previous owner.  All of the windows had been caulked closed and only one of them had a screen.    

After spending several intensive months on it, we’ve got a pretty good house. Except for the siding and windows.  But that’s all about to be fixed!  Yaay!

A couple of weeks ago, my uncle R.G. and his lovely wife, Marie came through and visited with us for a short weekend.  I was really blessed by it.  We broke bread together and stayed up kind of late just remembering funny stuff from the past.  We can’t get together for too long before we start encouraging one another in the Lord. I’m so glad and blessed that we had that time together.  

My uncle and I are pretty tight.  He’s been an active part of my life since I before I started the third grade.  Before that, we lived in different states.

When my parents divorced, I went through some pretty tough times personally.  My uncle took an interest in me and my life.  He loved me.  I say that as a verb.  He taught me, he helped me, he joked with me, he took me fishing, and most of all, he showed me the Love of God.  

He was the first Christian that didn’t make a big deal about my sin and mess ups.  He didn’t judge me. He just stayed steady, and would counsel me when the opportunity arose.  He stepped in when I didn’t have anyone to teach me how to be a man, and spoke to me about things like Honor, Integrity, Humility & Character.  Things that mattered.  

He actually set a good example to me of what these things look like.  The Lord used his example to birth in me a desire to help others this way. Especially young men.  

Anyway, I’ll do better at being more consistent with my posts, but I would like to ask you a favor.  Would you please send me a comment or email and give me three things that you would like me to touch on with this blog.  It would be a tremendous help to me.  I always make the topics a matter of prayer and I’ve been led by the Holy Spirit on much of what I’ve written about in the last three years, but I would like to sharpen my focus on the things that you really need to hear about.  

I sure would appreciate it.  I would like to borrow a comment from my friend, Pastor Bob Keich in closing and just say this – If no one has told you they love you today, let me be the first.  I love you guys.

Art

Do you have what it takes?

I read something on social media a while back where a young person was asking for someone to please be proud of him.  It got me thinking – a lot.  It saddened me that he felt that way, but the truth is, it is completely in his control.  

First, let’s look at the difference between I love you, and I’m proud of you.  

My love for you does not depend on how you act because it isn’t based on who you are, it’s based on who I am.  Love also can’t be taken, it can only be received. If it’s taken, it’s not real love, but something devious that we call manipulation.  Manipulation is the place where the selfish people play.  These will try to make you perform in order to be loved, but that’s not real. Real love must be given, not paid for.  It comes from the heart of love, and is demonstrated by giving.  This can be clearly seen in the famous Bible verse John 3:16.  

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

There’s a huge difference between I love you, and I’m proud of you.  I love you can exist on it’s own because it’s not really dependent on you.  It’s a decision made by someone else, and it’s based on what’s in their heart, not on you, or what you have done.

That being said, when someone says I’m proud of you, that is a way of saying that they are pleased with you.  Being pleased or displeased with someone doesn’t mean that you don’t love them.  It just means that they have done something you think is awesome or they’re doing things you don’t like.  Maybe they’re doing something that you are uncomfortable with. This is where some might get confused.  People can love others, but not want to be around them because of the way they act.

When someone tells you they are proud of you, or are pleased with you, they are telling you that YOU have done well.  Pride in yourself, or other people being pleased with you is based on YOU.  It comes from what you do or have done.  How you act is what matters here.  

Here’s a hard truth, and the faster you learn it, the better off you’ll be.  People don’t really care how you feel.  Seriously.  They don’t.  What they do care about is what you do.  

You have an unspoken agreement with everyone you interact with.  They may care how you feel, but they care far more what you do.  So much of what happens to you, or for you, is based on how you act.  

Does it seem like nothing goes your way?  Is it hard to get ahead?  Does it seem like you just can’t get a break?  When I hear people say stuff like this, the first thing I start looking at is how well do they take instruction and criticism.  What I usually find is that when people think they are struggling and can’t seem to get ahead, it’s usually true.  The reason it’s true though is because they won’t listen.  They can’t take criticism without getting their feelings hurt or getting angry, and they can’t take instruction because they act like they already know it all.  

When you’re arrogant, people don’t like dealing with you.  They will push you to the sidelines of their life and only deal with you when they have to.  

I know this from experience.  When I was 19, I was hard to get along with.  I had a very bad attitude.  I was arrogant, smart mouthed, and easily offended.  I was a real pill.  I had a friend that I worked with named Tim. Tim cared enough for me to pull me aside one day and tell me the truth. He said “People don’t like working with you.  If you don’t change your attitude, you’re going to get fired.”  The fact that he was there talking to me about this meant that it was the topic of conversation among my coworkers and my supervisor.  He was warning me.  

While it was extremely hard to hear, it cut straight through my bad attitude and hit me right in my heart.  It was apparent to me that my friend didn’t want me to get fired.  He wanted me to change, to do better, and he knew that I was burning my own bridge and my time was running out.  

Let me stop here and ask you a question.  What would you do if you were me?  Would you spout off something like “I don’t need this  #@!* job anyway!” and storm out?  I didn’t.  I wanted that job.  I immediately humbled myself and asked him to help me.  I submitted myself to his oversight and invited his criticism; both of which he faithfully gave.  It was hard, it was SO hard.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like hearing bad stuff about myself.  I want everyone to like me all the way, all the time.  

I began to realize something in that time that has helped me stay steady ever since.  We all would agree that none of us are perfect. Criticism is one of the most effective ways to identify areas where growth is needed, but we all resist criticism all the time.  Part of the reason is because when someone points out one of your faults, it may not be your fault that’s the issue.  Maybe they are the one who’s actually more wrong that you.  Another reason is that, even when someone is right about us and our faults, we think they are just judging, and we don’t consider them qualified to judge us.

If you can get over that, if you can learn to see correction and criticism for what it really is, you will grow & mature faster than you can imagine.  What correction really is, is someone taking the time to point out that you could be doing a little better.  To really grow, you will have to want it enough to endure the discomfort of being corrected.  You will need to humble yourself.

The bottom line is that, if you want people to be pleased with you (proud of you), you have to do things that earn it.  It’s not too late to start down this road.  You can begin today and build the man you want to be.  It starts with humility, and being able to be corrected.

Are you at a disadvantage?

Not too long ago, I heard a man talking about relationships.  He pointed out that because he was his father’s son, he was always able to go into the garage and use his dad’s tools.  Even when he became an adult and moved out of the house, he was still able to go over to his parents’ house whenever he needed to, and borrow a tool.  His point was that there were advantages to being the son, or daughter, that were not available to everyone else.

I know what it means to be a son, but I couldn’t relate to that whole garage story.  I didn’t have the advantage of a garage full of tools, and a dad who would let me borrow them.  I began to wonder.  What have I missed?  

Courtesy of stocksnap.io

I know of another young man who started a siding company.  This guy’s dad is a popular minister.  When the young man started his company, his dad leveraged his own influence & time to help his son promote the fledgling business.  I remember seeing the dad’s facebook posts, proudly talking about his son’s new business.  I would also see pictures posted of the dad standing at his son’s booth at a trade show, helping him promote it.  I think that is so cool.  

I wonder if these young men know what they have.  Compared to those of us who don’t have that kind of relationship with our dads, they certainly seem to have  an advantage.  

There have been many times in my life that I wished I had my dad with me, even if it was just to push me harder to man up.  There were many times when I noticed his absence and felt disadvantaged.  

Even now, the temptation is there to feel disadvantaged.   I have to keep reminding myself that it’s simply not true. There is no disadvantage when you know God.  His salvation is so great that it completely erases all disadvantage.  I believe the only reason we may feel disadvantaged is because we are getting supernatural help from our spiritual enemy.

I will say this though – Without God, the disadvantage is real.  It doesn’t take a missing father either. You could have an abusive father who’s there all the time.

Like the young man I mentioned above, some young men don’t want to follow in their father’s foot steps, but instead have the benefit of his influence to start their own enterprise.  That’s great too.

Joel Osteen is a tremendous example of someone who stepped into his father’s shoes, stayed true to the vision for Lakewood church, and has grown his church and his influence far beyond his father.  He has, by building on the legacy of John Osteen, continued the growth of the ministry, and he reaches millions more that just those that attend Lakewood.

Consider Joseph in the Bible. (Gen 37 – 41).  He was the great grandson of Abraham.  His dad was called Israel which means Prince of God.  He was heir to a tremendous covenant with Almighty God.  He had prophetic dreams.  His dad gave him a fancy coat.  Everything was just going awesome for him.  Then his brothers conspired to kill him.  Thankfully, they didn’t follow through but instead, sold him into slavery to the Ishmaelites.  There were many times in Joseph’s life where he had opportunity to think that he was disadvantaged.  His father’s influence was gone and he seemed to be alone.  There were probably many times that as a slave, and as a prisoner, he took a beating.  Think about it though.  He was never beyond the reach or the sight of the Almighty.  God knew exactly where he was.  Even as a slave and a prisoner, God didn’t forget about him and kept promoting him.

One day, there were only two people in all the land that knew that God had given Joseph supernatural wisdom, and used Joseph to interpret dreams.  The butler and the baker.  Within three days, one of them was dead (the baker).  Things really looked bleak for Joseph because when the butler was restored to his position, he forgot all about Joseph.  The day came though, where, in a single day, IN A SINGLE DAY – it went from one person knowing about Joseph, to everybody in the land knowing about Joseph.  That’s what I call promotion!

God was faithful to bring Joseph into his destiny, but Joseph had to be faithful even when it looked like things were only getting worse.  The promotion was from God, not Joseph, but the promotion would not have come had Joseph not been faithful when no one was watching. Even after his promotion, it was the favor that God had given him with the pharaoh, and his faithfulness to do the job that kept him there.  

It might seem to you that you are disadvantaged.  You have nothing going for you and everything is hard.  It may be true.  Through being prideful and hardening your heart, you may have damaged, or weakened relationships with others and now it seems like you are alone.  It doesn’t have to stay this way.  

God hasn’t forgotten about you. He knows where you are.  If you will draw near to Him, repent for your stubbornness and commit to do what He directs you to do in His word, He will get into your business and help you like He did for Joseph.  The very next step COULD be the first step in the right direction.  

I have a note on my cork board in my home office.  It’s a quote from Rev. Keith Moore.  It says “I don’t have to know anybody.  I don’t have to have any money.  I have faith in God, and faith in God is enough”.

When you have God, you are not disadvantaged.  Quite the opposite.  When you’re His, you have an extreme advantage!  You can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengthens you.

How to get clarity & direction.

For many years I struggled with knowing what to do.  I usually ended up drifting. I would make the best choice of the opportunities that would float by me, but I had no idea what the future held.  I just hoped that it would be good and sometimes worried that it wouldn’t be.  Yes, I said worried.

Today I don’t believe in worry.  Worry is a form of fear, and fear is the opposite of faith.  We know by scripture that faith comes from hearing God’s Word continually.  I now know that when I’m tempted to worry now, I need more exposure to God’s promises.

I took some time off from Blogging this last month to spend some extra time praying and getting clarity regarding direction in 2017.  I put some of the things I’ve been thinking about in this video.  I pray you find it helpful.

So – Are you with me?  I would really like to hear from you.  What are you focusing on for the coming year?

If this video helps you at all, please share.

I sure do appreciate you all.

Art

It’s the thought that counts.

One time when we were kids, my younger brothers, sister and I were invited to a neighbor boy’s birthday party.  Back in those days we didn’t have any money for a gift.  I remember giving him a pair of novelty glasses that had lights on them.  They were mine and I really liked them but I really didn’t want us to show up empty handed.  I remember feeling ashamed that we weren’t giving him a new gift, but at the same time, I remember that gift being a real sacrifice for me personally.  He may have never known how big of a gift we gave him that day.

One of the hallmarks of this season is buying gifts. I’ve heard that when it comes to retail, there are two seasons. Christmas season and Not Christmas season. There’s no doubt that a pretty substantial chunk of our economy relies on the purchases made for Christmas gifts.

The other side of the buying is the giving. That is where the real action is. Unfortunately, this can be a little tricky. I remember several years ago, we had a “Secret Santa” at my work. We would draw names & then give an inexpensive gift each day for five days leading up to Christmas eve. I drew the name of a young man who drove our delivery van at the time. I thought I would get him things he could eat. Everybody eats – right? It was a terrible idea. It seemed that he was allergic to everything I got him. I could tell he was pretty disappointed. The problem was that I didn’t know him very well.

Don’t you just love it though, when you get it right? It’s pretty awesome when you give a gift that’s a hit. Especially if it’s a surprise. I know how I feel. When someone takes the time to get to know what you like, how you think, what you need, what you WANT. They take the time to carefully evaluate you and what would make you happy, then choose your gift…wow!

We’ve all heard “It’s the thought that counts”, and it’s usually used to make us feel better about a bad gift.  When you really think about it – It’s the thought that counts is an eye opening perspective.  Consider for a second that it really is the thought behind any gift that makes it what it is.  It shows how much or how little we think of the people receiving the gift.  It’s getting easier to buy for people you don’t know very well now that so many stores are offering gift cards.

Now consider the truth behind Christmas.  John 3:16 says For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Now, that verse gets more attention than many other verses in the Bible.  But so often, people don’t take the time, stop, and really consider the implications of it.  While there are people everywhere who know that Jesus came to earth, most don’t consider why.

Often, the gift represents honor, and honor represents value.  God’s gift to earth represents how much He values us.  He sent us His only begotten son – who laid aside His majesty, glory & honor, and became one of us. In Philippians, the King James Version says “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”.  New American Standard Bible says it this way “but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men”.  He became a man and came to earth because, to save us.  Why? Because we were beyond helping ourselves.  We were sold under sin to a cruel master, cursed and unable to help ourselves.  God, the Father loved us so much that He sent His Son.  To become one of us.  To live with us. To die for us. To be raised from the dead for us. To be seated at the right hand of the throne of God for us, so that Hebrews 6 calls Him the Forerunner.  That’s a very important distinction because forerunners are not the only runners.  Forerunners are the first runners.

Heb 2:10  For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

It all started on earth with a little baby in a manger. From an earthly perspective, such a humble beginning, but we can see heaven’s perspective by the way the angels acted in front of the shepherds on the hillside outside Bethlehem that night.

Luk 2:13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Luk 2:14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Heaven’s perspective of this gift was significantly different.  They were ALL rejoicing.  This was a big deal.  Think about what they said.  On earth…peace, good will toward men.  This means that before this, there was no peace.  Things were incomplete and broken.  Why? Because the definition of peace literally means “set at one again”.  Fully restored.  Nothing missing, nothing broken.

Take some time during this Christmas season to reflect on what this really means.  God said in Jeremiah 29:11 (God’s Word Translation)  I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.  The King James says it this way “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you…”  God’s thoughts toward us are thoughts of peace, wholeness, nothing missing, nothing broken.  These are all reflected in the gift He gave to us – Jesus. God could not have given us more.  The gift reflects the thoughts.  That’s what God thinks of you.

From my family to yours,  Merry Christmas!

Art

Where to start on the road to honor.

New Year’s Eve 2009, my family and I were on our way home from my wife’s parents’ house.  We had spent the evening eating junk food & playing games but everyone was getting pretty tired so we decided to go home.  It was right about midnight (I remember because of the fireworks) when a small Mazda coming toward us spun out of control. It hit the big pickup truck in front of us, turning the truck in the road about 120 degrees & then tail whipped right into the front of our car.  It hit us so hard that it slapped the front of our car clear off into the ditch. The Mazda was wrecked in both the front and the rear.

We were all okay, escaping with just a little seat belt rash and some muscle stress from the accident, but our car was totaled.  The 19 year old young man driving the Mazda was okay too.  He kept apologizing and it became pretty clear that he was under the influence of alcohol.

A lot happened that night.  The Highway Patrol & the Fire Department showed up, made sure everyone was okay & took our information. Then I realized that the young man’s father had also arrived. He made sure his son was okay and was now talking to the state trooper. The father had a weary look on his face.  It seemed by his actions that he was very embarrassed by his son’s behavior that night.  When he was also informed that his son had refused towing service because “his dad had a guy” the father sighed and his head just dropped into his hand.  He was ashamed.  I remember thinking as I watched it “This is the exact opposite of honor”.  Accidents sometimes can’t be avoided, but that night there were some very bad choices made that led up to this one.

Proverbs 17:2 says “A servant who does wisely will have rule over a son causing shame, and will have his part in the heritage among brothers” (BBE).

It’s so important to understand that the first part of honoring your mother and father is to NOT cause shame.  I know there are plenty of times when I was a fool and embarrassed my parents.  I am personally responsible for many of the gray hairs on their heads.  It took me a long time to understand what it really means to honor them. I wish that someone would have helped me understand honor and why it’s important when I was a much younger man.  I will share more about honor in upcoming posts but the simplest way to define it for me is “to heavily value”. As we grow up we sometimes forget that we’re still sons & daughters and that what we do directly reflects on how we were raised.  God holds us strictly accountable to honor our Father and Mother (Ex. 20:12).  We do that with our life, by being quality people, and it doesn’t end when our parents are gone. We honor them for the rest of OUR lives.

I would love to hear your thoughts on honoring your parents. Please add your comments.

 

(Previously published April 2014)

Thanksgiving perspective.

When I think about why we have Thanksgiving in the U.S.A., It touches my heart.  We’ve all heard the story when we were in grade school of how the pilgrims and the natives sat down to have a meal together.  Maybe you were one of the children whose school put on a Thanksgiving play.  I personally remember making hats out of construction paper.  Some kids made pilgrim hats while others made Indian head-dresses.  I think I had a head-dress.  The truth is though, that there’s much more to it than that.  That Thanksgiving was a celebration of survival and the Europeans would not have made it through that first winter without the help of the native Americans.

happy-thanksgiving-2016-social-card

We know from history that the Pilgrims left England and moved to Holland to flee the persecution that was coming from the Church of England.  The writings of some of the pilgrims indicate that they decided to leave Holland to come to the new world because of what they called “the hardness” of Holland and what some called the “great licentiousness” of the youth there. For whatever reason they came, their coming was a mile marker of something huge – look how far we’ve come!

True thanksgiving is something that is done on a more personal level.  Thanksgiving is of the heart.  The word for thanksgiving in the New Testament is the word Eucharistia (Strongs G2169).  It literally means Grateful, gratitude language – giving of thanks.  In the Old Testament the word for Thanksgiving is  Todaw  (Strongs H8426).  It means to avow. Adoration, signified with an extension of the hand.  Literally, lifting hands with thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:4 says Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.  The BBE says Be glad in the Lord at all times: and again I say be glad!.  Paul goes on to talk to the us about what we should do when things challenge our reasons for rejoicing.  In verse 6 he says “Care for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtue, praiseworthy, think on these things.

If we are all being honest, Thanksgiving is not our default setting. Selfishness is.  It seems that all we have to do to be selfish is let our feet hit the floor every morning.  Being anything else takes intention.  That’s why it’s important to have a daily devotion routine.  It brings your mind back to the truth.

When I miss my times with the Lord for very long, I start to have a sense of entitlement.  I begin to get angry with people around me because they are not doing for me, what I think they should.  I find that I think about myself far more, and about others far less.

When I take time with my Heavenly Father and His Word, It brings things back into perspective.  I remember that what I deserve is far worse than what I have received.  In fact, I try to remind myself often that what I deserve is to be lit on fire for all eternity. Real fire, real torment.  That will never happen to me because of the blood of Jesus.  And because of that, I can be very thankful every day.  With great humility, I acknowledge that, no matter how difficult things are in my job, in ministry, with my family, with my bills, or any other thing, It can be fixed, It will change, and I am grateful for every good thing I have received.

I never want to lose sight of this truth.  Thanksgiving doesn’t have to come from feelings. It’s a choice.  Today and everyday, I am thankful.

Where Did The Time Go?

My Life In A Graph.

This image is a graph I threw together to represent my life on earth.  I don’t know how long I will live but for the sake of the graph, I chose 94 years old.  Each block represents a week.  There are 52 blocks wide and 94 blocks down.  The highlighted portion shows the time that I’ve already spent.  The blocks that are not highlighted represent the yet to be lived portion of my life.

my-life

I got the idea for this graph, watching Tim Urban give a TEDtalk about procrastination (see link at the bottom).  Tim showed a similar graph for a 90 year old person.

While some might think this is a bit morbid, I think it’s important to measure these things because we as humans, have a tendency to drift and put things off until “Someday”.

Where did the time go?

Have you ever looked back at some important event in your life and suddenly realized how many years had passed since it happened?  Where did the time go?  It may seem like it was only yesterday.  We’re human. If we are not intentional, we will lose track of time.  That’s really what this is about…Time, and how we use it.

In Tim’s speech, he humorously outlines the difference between the brain of a normal person, and the brain of a chronic procrastinator.  While they both looked very similar, the procrastinator’s brain had one difference.  It’s what Tim calls the “Immediate Gratification Monkey”.

People everywhere living with regret.

One of the thoughts that I came away with after watching Tim’s talk was that there are people everywhere living with regret.  Why?  Because regret is usually what comes after procrastination has run it’s course.

Many things that we might procrastinate on are short term & temporary.  A report due to your boss at the end of the month, or a low interest rate on a loan.  These things are tied to time and have a relatively immediate consequence attached to them.  Even if you have to put in extra hours, do extra stuff, or lose sleep to get these done, you’re not likely to totally forget because of the consequences.

There are other things though, that are not tied to time and don’t have an immediate consequence.  It’s these things that cause so much of our regret.  These are the things in the “Someday” slot.  I wrote in a previous post about how I had asked my dad if we would ever go see Elvis Presley live.  My dad said “Someday”.  Just a few years later Elvis passed away.  Someday never came (see link at the bottom).

Someday!  

How many people had big dreams, dreams of traveling to some place they long desired to see, but in the twilight of their lives, they looked back with regret? They never made it happen.  Maybe they had broken relationships that they always intended to fix, or hurt feelings they always intended to forgive…someday.  Suddenly, they realized that it’s too late.  they are too old, their health is failing, or that other person is now gone.

These “Someday” issues often carry a far greater weight of regret.  The problem is that they are not tied to a short term consequence, so we don’t ever get to the point of panic over a deadline.  We will put off something that may be hard or painful to deal with, telling ourselves that we will deal with it eventually.  Eventually is a very nebulous, ethereal word. It’s not concrete.  Eventually is a synonym for Someday.  They both describe a realm where things go to never get done.

Chip & Dan Heath wrote a tremendous book called Decisive.  In chapter 11 they discuss the need for trip-wires.  They tell the story of a woman from Alabama who always wanted to visit Italy.  She had a chance to go once but because of work, she decided to put the trip off.  While she often thought about Italy, time slipped by. After several decades pass, her health deteriorated to the point that she couldn’t go at all.  The Heath brothers ask the question “When did she ‘Choose’ not to visit Italy?  Was it every day? Or never?  She surely never expected that her first decision to postpone the trip, would become a permanent one.”

Deciding by not deciding.

For plans like this, we need to install a trip-wire.  Something that would bring the choice to the forefront of our mind, forcing us to reconsider our plan, make it happen, or discard it.  We have to be intentional about these things because we have a tendency to run on autopilot a lot more than we know.  If this woman from Alabama could have put a time limit on her postponed trip, that said something like “If I haven’t visited Italy by my 38th birthday, I will either make it a high priority, or discard it”.

There are a lot of examples of this.  Has anyone heard of the band Van Halen’s stipulation in their concert rider that a bowl of M&M’s would be placed in the dressing room with all of the brown M&M’s removed?  I remember the first time I heard about that, I thought they were being ridiculous and difficult to work with.  It turns out though, that it was a trip-wire to quickly tell the band that the venue hadn’t fully read or followed the details of the contract.  It automatically put the band and roadies on high alert.  They would need to be extra careful about the staging, power availability & safety.

Moving forward.

It may be because I’m getting older, I don’t know.  I have been thinking a lot about my time.  I want to make sure I’m not just drifting.  I don’t want to let my dreams just float by and not live them because I let Busy get in the way of Important.

Where do you stand?  Is there something important to you, that the busyness of your life has crowded out?  Maybe it’s time to put it on the calendar.

 

Tim’s TEDtalk

My previous post Someday is never a safe bet.

Be Like Mary, Not Like Zack!

While I don’t think most people would equate having a lack of faith with being rebellious, there is a kind of unbelief that is exactly that.  This week while studying, I found myself reading the passage in Luke 1 where the angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah.  Later in the same chapter, that same Gabriel appeared to Mary, mother of Jesus.  His announcement to both Mary and Zachariah was that they were both about to become parents.  It appears at first glance that when Gabriel made that announcement, they both responded the same way and with the same type of question.  They each received a very different result though.

How were they similar?

They were the same in that in each case, God sent a messenger, an angel named Gabriel, from His presence to declare to each of them His (God’s) will.  Gabriel declares to both of them that they were going to have a child. He also declares to each of them that the birth of their child would be a miracle.  Each case would take faith to receive because in each case, the circumstances said it was impossible.

How were they different?

While it seems on the surface that they were the same, there had to be a difference.  The Bible says that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).  If they were the same, they would have both received the same results.  We see that the difference was faith.

The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).  Weymouth says it this way  “And this proves that faith comes from a Message heard, and that the Message comes through its having been spoken by Christ. ”  Believing is a choice, and the ability to believe comes from the faithfulness of the speaker.  You believe me because I have kept my word to you consistently. I have been faithful.  That is faith in me.  Faith in God comes from being thoroughly convinced that He will do what He said He would do in His Word. We believe the promise, because we believe the speaker.

When Mary asked the question “How will this be since I’m a virgin?”  Her question was a question of process.  If you think about it, this had never happened before and she had no basis for faith.  There was no precedence.  Also, we see that once she heard Gabriel’s explanation, her heart went out and laid hold of it.  “Be it unto me according to your word!”  Her faith had kicked in and she believed the promise.

Zachariah had a very large precedence set for him.  He had examples of the Lord opening the barren womb with Hannah.  He also had examples of the Lord giving children in old age with Abraham and Sarah. They were in the same boat he was.  Zachariah had a basis for faith.  Not only that, but the Bible says when Gabriel first appeared to him, he said “Fear not, your prayer is heard”.  Zachariah had been praying for a child.  The issue is that once Gabriel told him the message, Zachariah wanted a sign to prove that the promise was true.  Even the promise from the mouth of an angel wasn’t enough. He wanted a sign.  He was looking at the promise through the circumstances the same way the 10 spies did in back in Numbers 13.

His sign was also his sentence.  He lost his ability to speak until the promise was fulfilled.  Gabriel told him why in Luke 1:20.  “Because you didn’t believe my words”.  I think it’s important to note that the angel took away his ability to speak.  Zachariah’s mouth, and confession may have been a problem that needed to be stopped.

Zachariah may have had strong faith at some point.  We can see from Gabriel’s statement that he had enough faith at one point to ask the Lord for a child.  Just like a muscle though, faith can atrophy.  The world is constantly feeding information that creates fear and doubt.  If we don’t take active steps to minimize that message & replace it with a faith giving message, our faith will become week.

So if faith comes by hearing, then if there is no hearing, there can be no faith.  I have heard complaints about how some ministers will give 10 minute mini-sermons about giving & believing for finances before they receive an offering in their church.  While I’ve been in churches where this was an attempt to squeeze more money out of people, I have also been in churches where the mini-sermon was very faith building.  It was good solid illuminated truth regarding God’s will and His promises.  It helped my faith.  What I’m trying to say is this.  If there is no hearing, there can be no faith.  To say that people don’t need to hear any more preaching about certain promises is in contradiction to scripture.  2 Peter 1:12 says “I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”   Jude 1:5 says “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this…”  You can never have too much faith in God’s Word.

Special focus.

There have been times in my own life where I was struggling with my health.  After a few days of messing around, I finally came to the conclusion that my faith was weak in this area.  Instead of pretending that I was more spiritual than I really was, I humbled myself.  I realized that I was not where I needed to be and believing that the Bible was true, I determined that what I needed was to hear faith building words regarding healing.  I went about searching for the best material I could find on the topic.  I found a tape series, (yes, they were tapes back then), called Receive Miracle Healing by Dr. T.L. Osborn, and I listened to it…and only it, for more than 10 months.  I realized that my ailment wasn’t going to disappear by itself and I couldn’t afford to handle it medically.  I put my hope in God and trusted that He would get me to the place I needed to be, in order to receive by faith.

The bottom line.

When we get right down to it, we’re talking about trust.  We need to know that God can do it, but that’s only the first part. We also need to be convinced that He will do it for us.  We don’t receive from God based on His ability, we receive based on the level of our faith – our trust in Him to do what He said.  Literally, you can not receive beyond your faith.  And to pretend you have faith in order to appear more spiritual is actually a lame substitute.  It’s your Ishmael. Fake faith will not produce results and it’s actually a form of pride that will BLOCK you from receiving.  God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5).

F.F. Bosworth said “Faith begins where the will of God is known”.  If you find yourself struggling in an area of your life, and you find yourself defeated more than you are victorious, take heart. Immerse yourself in the Word & ask the Lord to help you.  Don’t let up until He turns the light on.  He will show you light in a verse that you may have read a thousand times, but all the sudden, you see what it really says.  Faith springs alive in your heart.  Once He brings revelation, and has given you a Living Word that you can believe, it’s time to receive it!  Don’t resist the message!  Don’t require an additional sign!  Don’t be unbelieving.  Don’t rebel against the promise.

Instead – Be like Mary!  “Be it unto me according to your word!”