Hurters, Hurriers, Helpers

Some people are “Hurters.” They see people as objects to be used to gain more stuff. Their attitude is “What is mine is mine and if I can work it out, what is yours will be mine, too.”

Others people are “Hurriers.” They see people as objects to be by-passed in their their frantic efforts to keep all they have. They believe “What is mine is mine and I intend to keep every penny of it.”

Still others are “Helpers.” They see people as objects with whom they can share what they have. They believe “What is mine is ours.” They seek chances to pass on to others what God has given them.

I was created to be a Helper.
I was saved to be a Helper.
I have been gifted to be a Helper.
I must be trained to be a Helper.

Listening to God’s Advice

Suppose I was the world champion rodeo bull rider.  I had mastered all the techniques and tricks of the trade. I was the best that ever existed.

Then two years ago I retired.

Now my son wants to be a top tier rider. He is in his second season. I try to teach him all I know. He listens, but when he climbs on a bull he ignores my advice. In event after event he gets bucked off. His pain and injuries are mounting up week after week.

Each time he hits the ground it hurts me, too, because I love him. I know it would be so much better for him if he would just listen and follow my instructions.

So it is with God when I try to live my life outside his advice and commandments. Life would be so much easier and successful if I just followed what He has told me in his Word. When my stubborn nature leads me away from Him I get hurt and He suffers because He loves me.

Who Is Going To Drive Your Car?

To win a contest a young American is taken to the south edge of Tokyo where he is given a set of car keys and an address. He is shown a car and told “Deliver this car to that address within the next hour and you will win $1,000,000. It can be done, but only if you take the most direct route.”

He now has four choices:

(1) Jump in the car and start driving, trusting to blind luck.

(2) Buy a city map in the lobby of a near-by hotel and start driving while reading it.

(3) Buy a map and hire a local citizen to give him instructions while he drives.

(4) Hire a driver from the taxi stand and let him do the work.

Throughout our lives we are on a perilous journey across unknown territory. The prize of “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23) is offered to us by our heavenly Father.

We have four choices:

(1) Stumble through each day, hoping to do more good things than bad.

(2) Blunder along, occasionally reading the Bible in search of advice.

(3) Sometimes ask God for guidance as we use the Bible, but stay in control and make all our own decisions.

(4) Allow God to “take the wheel,” then sit back and enjoy the ride.

If we truly believe He loves us, and if we truly believe He is all-powerful and all-knowing,  why do we hesitate to give him control of our journey?

How Did He Stand It?

When did Jesus know He was going to die on a Roman cross as a common criminal? At birth? At age twelve? Certainly by age 30.

At some point his divinity gave a fore knowledge of his death.  How did his humanity handle this look into a future that promised such pain and suffering? How did He maintain a sense of joy and peace in the shadow of the cross? What allowed Him to laugh, sing, joke and smile during his ministry?

And He did each of those things. Grown men didn’t leave home, family and careers to follow a sour puss. Children didn’t flock to be picked up and held by a grouch. Crowds didn’t contribute their donkeys and cloaks to form a parade for a “gloomy Gus”.

How did He avoid a constant feeling of dread and sadness as He healed and taught the people of Judea and Jerusalem? As he conquered disease and death in others, surely the specter of his own future hovered in the background of his mind.

The answer to the question has to be in his total trust in his father’s wisdom, power and love. Long before Gethsemane his daily mantra was “Not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42.) He was fully convinced that only by following Jehovah’s will could He provide a way for the human race to be ransomed from the power of sin. He had heard “With him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17) as He stepped out of the waters of John’s baptism and He had to die to hear it again.

What am I willing to do each day to hear it from Jehovah God?

 

 

 

Limiting God

A man decided he wanted to live in a new house. He met with a contractor and after they discussed every aspect of the project they shook hands on the deal. Since the site was at the end of a narrow, rutted road it was decided the construction would not begin until all the material had been delivered.

Three weeks later the carpenter and his crew started moving dirt and pouring concrete. A week after that the owner showed up one morning with a can of red spray paint. He walked around the stacks of material and started marking some of it with the paint. The builder was confused. He asked “What are you doing?”  The land owner replied “Do not use any of the material that has red paint on it. Do the best you can with the rest of the stuff.” He ignored all other questions, got into his pickup and drove off. It was the last time he visited the scene until the house was completed.

The carpenter continued to work to fulfill his part of the agreement. He did the best he could with the limited material and soon completed the project. When the owner came for his last inspection he was dissatisfied. He could not understand why the work was not up to the standard of the construction crew’s usual work.

Do we behave this way with God? We accept the blood of Jesus as payment for our sins. We become God’s children. Then we begin the process of discipleship, trying to become like Christ. But when the Holy Spirit comes to guide and help us, we withhold parts of ourselves. We say “Help me. Mold me. Shape me, but don’t change my attitudes, preferences or habits. You are not allowed to alter my likes and dislikes. My favorite forms of recreation and pleasure are off limits.”

Then we wonder why our lives are not producing the joy, peace, power and contentment we feel God has promised. We don’t understand (or accept) that God needs us to commitment all of who we are in order for us to become all of what He wants us to be.

God Replied

Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…” (KJV)

     I said to God “I really don’t have many chances to give a verbal witness to others about you  and your love.”

God replied ” Give and care and share. Help others in such radical ways that people will ask ‘Why did you do that?’ Then you can tell them about me.”

     I said to God “I really don’t  have many chances to give a verbal witness to others  about you and your love.”

God replied, “I will allow you to be publicly tempted and you can publicly resist that temptation. People will ask ‘Why did you act like that?’ Then you can tell them about me.”

     I said to God “I really don’t have many chances to give a verbal witness to others about you and your love.”

God replied “I will allow some tragedy to come into your life. As you continue to be loyal to me in your time of trouble people will ask ‘How can you have such faith in times like these?’ Then you can tell them about me.”

Possessions, temptations and grief are opportunities for us to develop stronger trust in God and a stronger witness for God. Is our faith strong enough that He can reach others through us?

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     Today I will meet some “evil” people who will enrage and oppose me, some “good” people who will frustrate me and upset me, and come Christians who will ignore me and puzzle me.

As a child of God, I am to pray for all of them and actively love each of them.

Desert Teaching

God has always used desert experiences to teach his people. Scriptures tell us that Moses was in the desert for years before he was called to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt. Joshua spent time in the desert with those same people before he was used to lead them across the Jordan to Jericho. David fled into the desert to escape Saul before he became king. Paul retreated into the desert for three years after his meeting with Jesus.

On the whole, these times were not pleasant or easy. They were not a time of vacation or amusement. In each case they came on the heels of an emotional experience. Moses killed a man, Joseph was given the task of forming an army from a group of ex-slaves, David was fleeing for his life and Paul had just learned that his understanding of the Hebrew scriptures and his life goal were completely wrong.

Jehovah dictated the agenda for these periods. He confronted these men with His presence. Each one had to accept His plan for their lives. Each left the desert yielded to the will of the Father.

My deserts probably will not be physical. Am I willing to go into God’s emotional and spiritual deserts and spend time alone with Him so that I may more clearly understand and accept the path He has for me? Can I let Him show me my weaknesses and errors so that He can correct them?

He may need to remove me from the daily rush and pressure of my schedule. It may be necessary to slow me down. I may need to go through a time of de-cluttering and simplification. The emotional and spiritual deserts of this world tend to do that.

As Creator of the universe He will show me who He is, what He wants me to become and His plan for my life. My ticket out of the desert may be a state of willing and grateful dependence on Him. Until then I will not be fully ready to serve Him.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 6

Much of our lives are spent “between rocks and hard places.” We dread such episodes and try to avoid them.  When we do end up there, whether it’s our fault or the work of others, we tend to complain, gripe, moan and groan. We expect loved ones, acquaintances and even strangers to come to our aid.

But in my life it has been proven over and over that such a position is a good place to meet God. My most common prayer from that “between” spot is an enthusiastic “HELP” and He always does. I have never been in a place where HIs compassion, mercy and aid do not overcome my problems.

Maybe if I spent more time with Him when I am in my “between the recliner and the couch” soft spots I would avoid the between the “stones and cement” ones. But it is wonderful to know that whichever location I end up in tomorrow, He will be there.

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     We think of habits as actions we take unconsciously, without thoughts. But is it possible that habits can also be things that we do not do? Is it possible to unconsciously, unthinkingly not do something?

     I think the answer is “Yes” and that explains how we can stop reading our Bibles, praying or attending church regularly. We get “out of the habit” of doing the things we know are important and helpful to our Christian growth.

God is anxious to help  correct such inaction if we will just ask him.

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     Romans 8:18 speaks of glory, not glory we deserve or earn, but glory that will be “revealed in us.”  Of course, that is God’s glory, the same that was revealed to the Hebrew people in the desert by a daytime cloud and a night time fire. The disciples were given the privilege of experiencing it when Jesus was transfigured (Matthew 17:1-3.)

As His children, we should also radiate that same glory. Not by flames or clouds or shekinah radiance, but by loving everyone we contact. What specific actions will we be called to carry out? We never know from one moment to the next. But if we spend time asking for directions and if we are faithful to follow each of those actions, we will shine as He expects us to.

Sunday Morning Football

I once watched a football game in which one team, the Crusaders, forgot the purpose of the huddle.

When they first formed their tight little circle they congratulated themselves for the previous play, whether it gained five yards or fifty yards.

Then they took the time to point fingers at each and assign blame for lack of points on the scoreboard.

Then they checked on each other to see if anyone had been injured on the last  play.

Then they reminded themselves of what a good coach they had.  Sometimes one or two of them would stand up, look over to the bench and wave.

Then they would talk about how nasty and mean the opposing players were.

Then the conversation usually turned to how unfair the referees were, always calling penalties on them but never on the other team.

Eventually they would discuss and take a vote to determine their next play.

Needless to say, they lost the game.

But does that description of the Crusaders’ huddle sound similar to what goes on in Sunday School classes and church gatherings today? (Go ahead and read it again.)

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 4

For forty years the Hebrew people had to go out each morning (accept on the Sabbath) and gather their food for the day. This is a reminder to me to spend time each morning allowing myself to feel God’s Spirit, become more grateful for His blessings and fully understand my assignments for the day.

*****

“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes… I will not know wickedness.” Psalm 101:3-4) Avoiding temptations is largely my responsibility. I am to take specific steps to avoid being tempted. If I ask the Holy Spirit He will help me, but the resolve to avoid sin and sin-inducing situations is up to me.

*****

I tend to want to live in “hallelujah” territory and remember that the “whosoever” of John 3:16 includes me. But I want to ignore “I’m sorry” territory and forget that the “all” of Romans 3:23 also includes me.

*****

Immanuel… God with me. Impossible! Incomprehensible! Outrageous! Wonderful! Unbelievable! The God who imagined and created and understands and controls all the universe has chosen to be with me – to love and value me. This has to be the greatest miracle of all time!!!

*****

Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… and you will find rest…” (Matthew 11:29) What is His “yoke?” I think it is concern, sympathy and love for others. (Can I learn such feelings?) Whatever it is, I will rest when I accept it and wear it. I think wearing it allows me to learn some things I cannot learn any other way.