Into My Life

Lord, put into my life enough delays to teach me patience.
.......................enough failure to teach me humility.
.......................enough expenses to teach me to work.
.......................enough needy people to teach me generosity.
.......................enough leisure to teach me to enjoy myself.
.......................enough health to allow me to help the sick.
.......................enough barriers to teach me perseverance.
.......................enough illness to teach me to accept help.
.......................enough stress to teach me serenity.
.......................enough loneliness to teach me to reach out.
.......................enough joy to teach me to smile.
.......................enough questions to teach me faith.
.......................enough of YOU to teach me awe.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 22

We sing “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on…” without realizing that if we want to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus we will have to go where He wants to go, when He wants to go, as fast as He wants to go and then stand still when He says to. Traveling with Jesus means we let Him make all the “going” decisions.

Our spiritual ears work best when our emotional knees are bent and our physical mouth is shut.

God loves me too much and too wisely to give me too much responsibility in his kingdom. But He loves me too much to give me no responsibility.

If we want advice from God we need to have the humility to ask, the patience to wait for the answer, the faith to trust his answer is best and the courage to act on it.

God can’t do his work through us until we let him do his work in us.

If our churches had more suggestion boxes there would probably be more money in the collection boxes.

It is better to ask God rather than tell Him. (We really can’t tell God anything He does not already know.)

We must learn to recognize God’s mercy, be grateful for it and share it.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 21

Jehovah knew we could never understand a god who could create galaxies, control storms and harness the tides. But He thought maybe we could understand a god who washed feet, loved children and cried at funerals. So He sent Jesus.

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Should we study God’s word so that we can be informed or transformed? Are we as willing to be confronted and challenged as we are to be comforted and calmed?

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In my efforts to please my Father and be like Jesus, do I emphasize rules or relationships? Have I allowed myself to settle for a reasonable degree of success in the “Thou shall not” part of Christianity while allowing myself to fall short in the “Cup of cold water aspect”?

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Lost people don’t need to see good people working for God; they need to see a good God working through people. And these good people need to be aware of and acknowledge that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables them to do that work.

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What specific things did I do yesterday that said to the world “That man loves God”? What will I do tomorrow that says the same thing?

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The Father decides.    The Son delivers.    The Holy Spirit defines.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 19

God is more interested in developing me into a tool for his service rather than a trophy for his mantel.

I am a nobody trying to tell everybody about the Somebody who can save us all.

For a child of God his mercy will last longer and be stronger than his discipline.

I am glad God gave us commandments. How else would we know how to please Him?

Does God intend for me to be a soldier or a lamb, a crusader or a teacher, a fierce defender of the faith or a little child approaching Jesus?

May God’s joy in my heart soften my judgements of others and  allow his grace to spill over onto them.

A life of service to God is much to be preferred over a life of comfort for self. Do we really believe that?

God applies his forgiveness to our sins with eagerness and joy, not with reluctance and regret. As much as that forgiveness cost Him…..the death of Jesus…..we can be sure He delights in applying it to us. I must give to others what God has given me.

Dear Father, slow me down before I break down and lift me up before I blow up.

The Unique Gift

Are you stymied for gift giving ideas? Giving gifts can be problematic in our society of affluence when trying to find something for those who “have everything.” Here’s an idea for consideration. The ideal gift is yourself.

That’s right, give away some of yourself:

Give an hour of your time to someone who needs you.
Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down.
Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family.
Give a listening ear to someone who is lonely.
Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss.
Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is overlooked.
Give a gentle response to the frustrated.
Give a quiet push to someone needing encouragement.
Give the benefit of a doubt to the misunderstood.
Give a second thought to someone else's opinion.
Give forgiveness to those who have harmed you.
Give a second chance to someone who has failed.

God gave Jesus to us on the first Christmas morning. Jesus gave his life for us on a cross of disgrace. How much of ourselves are we willing to give others this Christmas season?

Courage to Care, Contact, Confront

In Luke 10 and Matthew 25, Jesus told his followers to be concerned with the physical and emotional needs of their neighbors. Then in Luke 19:10, he stated that the main purpose for his incarnation was to meet the spiritual needs of the human race. In Matthew 28:19-20, he directed us to have the same priority – the spiritual needs of others.

Before we can successfully carry out this Great Commission we must have the

Courage to Care

We must allow the Holy Spirit to created within us a sincere attitude of concern. We must allow the joys, sorrows, dreams and disappointments of others to become important to us. Until we have a true, heart-felt caring attitude we will not be successful “Great Commission” Christians.

Courage to Contact

The boldness of first century Christians caused them to go to public places and intentionally meet non-Christians so they could witness to them about Jesus. They were not content to form a holy huddle and hide their light inside the walls of a church building. We, too, must be willing to meet and interact with lost people so we can tell them the Good News.

Courage to Confront

In our live-and-let-live society, most of us avoid confrontations because they make us uncomfortable. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, by its very nature, confrontational. This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 10:34-37. Every person is either lost or saved, serving God or serving Satan, condemned or forgiven. The Great Commission will never be carried out until we confront the world with this knowledge.

We must allow the Holy Spirit to make us brave enough to care, contact and confront.

Disobedience Thru Ignorance

None of us consciously intends to disobey God. We don’t get up in the morning and say “Today I’m going to refuse to do what God tells me.”

Yet every day we manage to be disobedient. Why?

Sometimes the answer is that we simply don’t hear Him telling us how to obey. We are like the child who, as he runs off to play, honestly does not hear his mother say “You be home by noon.” We don’t consider our actions to be disobedient because we can’t be expected to do what God says if we don’t know what He says, can we?

Oh, we don’t put our hands over our ears and shout “I can’t hear you” like we did when we were children. Yet we allow the radio, phone, TV, computer and demands of job and family to drown out his still, small voice. We don’t hear because we don’t listen. Often we don’t listen because we fear He will tell us to do, or stop doing, something.

We may feel “I didn’t know” is an acceptable excuse for sinning. But while it may serve as a thin veneer of acceptability in our minds, God views it differently. For a child of God to be ignorant of His commands is a sin that leads to further sins.

Does God really want to make his specific will clear to each of us every day? Yes! But those messages will remain a mystery unless we learn to listen and comprehend. To hear Him more clearly and consistently we must enter our prayer closet several times each day, listen for his voice in the din of life, read what He has already written for us and discipline our minds to think of spiritual things.

He will guard us from accidental disobedience if we deeply and sincerely want to obey.

My Heavenly Coach

A standard practice among coaches is to view a film of the previous game with the players. During that viewing the staff points out each player’s mistakes and good plays. A dedicated player will accept the criticisms and resolve to improve. Such an athlete feels gratitude for the compliments and determines to repeat that behavior the next game.

Their won-lost record at the end of the season hinges largely on the success of such sessions.

If I am serious about playing well for my Heavenly Coach I will eagerly take part in the periodic reviews He makes of my life. At times I will sense Him saying “Bob, you missed an opportunity to be a witness there” or “Bob, that was cruel” or “Bob, that was a selfish attitude.”

Then my reaction should be “You’re right, Lord. I’m sorry. I see now that it was sinful. I confess each of these to you and I will try my best not to repeat them. Please help me. Thank you for forgiving me.”

At other times Coach will say “Bob, you controlled your temper pretty well back there” or “You were extra kind and thoughtful with your family today” or “Your attitude of gratitude was strong last week.”

And my reaction should be “Thank you, Lord. All that is the work of your Spirit. I’m going to work harder to make sure I keep developing the fruit of your Spirit.”

Christian Capitalism

In a capitalistic economic system every person is encouraged to accumulate all the wealth possible. Success is largely determined by the size of portfolios and bank accounts. Money earned today is to be used in a way that will produce more assets tomorrow.

By the same token, an individual’s poverty is of no concern to anyone else. A person is allowed to lose all his wealth without interference from anyone else. Birth-to-death poverty is common.

Such capitalism is a disaster unless it is guided by “Do unto others” (Matthew 7:12) and “Feed the hungry” (Matthew 25:35-36). Only these Christian principles can shape the system to benefit all income levels.

There are, of course, many times and places that Christians can give to people who need help. The Holy Spirit will lead in determining when, where and how such caring and sharing should take place. Certainly Jesus called on his followers to give help one-on-one.

But in today’s world there is a need for large-scale institutions that strive to produce economic equality. For the most part our churches have not stepped up to the plate to help fill this need. One of the least offered prayers during Sunday morning services is “God, do you want me to give more?”





Q.  Does God want the poor in my community to have more of this world's resources?
A.  Yes.
Q.  What is His plan for getting more to them?
A.  The generosity of Christians.
Q.  Does God want me to have more of this world's resources?
A.  Only if I will pass on these additional blessings to the poor.(Or maybe only if I pass on   more of my currently held resources.)

Become Before Doing

     God's call to his children comes on two levels. First we receive the call to become, then we hear the call to do. Isaiah's experience illustrates this two-level call. First God called him to become sinless. Only then did He call Isaiah to do something (Isaiah 6:1-9)
     Jesus talked about this "becoming process" in John 15:1-5. Our identification with him should be so constant and  intimate that we become exactly like him. Jesus told Phillip, "If you have seen me you have seen the Father." (John 14:9) When we have each become all the Father intends us to be, we will be able to say, "If you have seen me, you have seen Jesus."
     After we have clearly understood and started answering the "become" call, God issues the "do" call. Correctly answering the "do" call is the goal of the WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? movement. It is very wise to consider this question before making decisions. Each of our actions and reactions should be identical to what Jesus would have done in a similar situation. If we always follow his model, we will impact our world for him.
     However, if we try to answer the call to do without first answering the call to become, we are in danger of being like the Pharisees of Jesus' time. They were trying to do all their religion required without first becoming what Jesus was (Matthew 13:13-15). Maybe we need to start a WHAT DID JESUS BECOME? movement. 
     We must answer God's call to become by spending time alone with him in prayer and Bible study. "I want to be like Jesus" must become the primary goal in our lives. Then, in his own time, God will issue each of us a call to action.