Archive for March, 2010

Have you ever been in an argument? Of course you have. Have you ever been in an argument where you lost track of what the argument was about and noticed everyone just running on emotion and aggression? I have been there too, but I have never actually seen one of those arguments achieve much.

Disagreements are a result of people being what they are — different. God gave us each an identity and a personality, and some conflict all the time, but they all conflict at one time or another. So what in the world is God doing there? Does God want us to argue, or is there another purpose? I believe in the latter statement. image

Jay taught me something (hear that Jay?) that now that I have it in my thick head, I observe it in situations all the time when I see a disagreement. For whatever reason, people argue with each other. Duh, you say — but hang on just a sec before you judge my words. Most of the time, the source of the argument is some issue somewhere that has come between the people. What makes the most sense is to make the target of your emotion the issue or problem, not the person on the other side of it. How do you do that? You look at the problem, put it between you and say, "WE have a problem", not "YOU have a problem". Once WE have a problem, we can direct our emotions at it as a team, not at each other. I see this all the time, and if you look around, you will see it also I think. Oh — and guess what? It is Biblical:

Ephesians 6:12 (New International Version) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The problem is the evil, not the person. I know it seems like an oversimplification, but it really isn’t. Try it yourself. When you disagree with someone, look at the source, not the other person. I think you will find yourself using less emotion, more humility and having a lot more fun problem solving than arguing.

So go ahead — argue with a problem, not a person. You’ll have a better day!

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I wrote a week or two ago about the marks we make on people’s lives. I could have written more on that with a slightly different angle, but well, the space just was not there, so consider this part two.image
If you believe as I do that God has created an incredibly complex and beautiful mosiac for our lives, then this will make sense. If you think that we just go through life in a random manner, then well — you and I will just not agree much on this point. 
I believe God puts people in our lives. As I look around at those I come across on a daily basis, I do not always pay attention to what I could experience as a part of good interaction with them. What I am trying to get better at is looking at each person as potentially having a gold nugget in their pocket that God wants them to give to me, and/or I have one to give them (or both!). Regardless, since God put them in my path, I have to believe there is a reason. I think he is using us to grow and perfect each other, and to make us each more like Him.
Now it’s not always fun. Some of the greatest growth I have experienced in my life has been when I was dealing with the most difficult people, those who are not seeing things my way. I also have gotten great joy from dealing with those people I love being with and enjoy. Hmmm, let’s ponder that one a moment. So what does that tell me? That tells me that no matter who is in front of me, there is a blessing in it if I will only look for it. It tells me that God honeslty expects me to seek out what he is sending my way or is asking me to give — regardless of who I am interacting with.
In Matthew 25, the parable of the Sheep and the Goats addresses this in a way as he talks about meeting the needs of His people. Remember? That is the passage where he says two key things:

Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
and;
Matthew 25:45: "He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Okay — then what we do to others — we do to Him. Kinda changes the perspective a bit doesn’t it? If he is wanting that, then yes — we should treat each person the way we would Jesus if he was standing in front of us. I know it is a challenge, but it is worth it. Imagine if we could all do a better job at it, how different our lives would be.
Ooops — gotta go now — I see Jesus walking down the hall toward me! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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We meet all kinds of people each day. Each of those people leave a mark on us as they pass by, be it positive or negative. The same person can give you negative one day and positive the next. To put this into an analogy, I see the mark people make being a bit like the wind blowing my life about. The words we say and receive are powerful winds. I can be cruising (sailing) along quickly on a good day, run into a negative person and have my nice forward progress interrupted as my sails empty from bad words. Before I know it, my sails have collapsed and two things happen. One, I lose that nice sailing along feeling. And two, I can now be easily blown into a bad direction, because my forward momentum has dropped. On the other hand, if I run into a positive person with positive words, it can either fill my sails further and speed me up, or help me to change my stalled state and get under way again in a positive direction. Once headed that way, it is hard to slow me down!image

Now put the shoe on the other foot. What direction is your wind blowing others? Do you ever run into someone who is in a good mood and you bring them down? Whassup with that? How do we allow ourselves to do this and how does it make us feel? Have you ever been able to blow a positive wind in someone’s sails? Pretty awesome isn’t it? This is what friends do for each other, they blow positive wind. Two people blowing bad wind is a train wreck (okay, I switched analogies but you get it). I love this verse in 1 Peter:

1 Peter 3:10-12: For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

Looks like God is in the positive wind business. Okay — so for today’s "Action Steps" (oh man, I am talking like Jay now…), here is what you do:

1. Always remember that you are a positive or negative wind

2. Identify your sailing speed each day, and be conscious of it to protect your momentum

3. Carefully see where the wind is blowing as you meet each person so you can guard your momentum

4. Deflect bad wind and blow some good wind in the deliverer’s direction

5. Celebrate the good wind you find, and add yours to it!

We can indeed control the wind around us, with God’s help. If you are having a bad day, or a bad week for that matter, ask God to blow you some good wind. My guess is he will first offer you some calm, and then give you a nice cool breeze to move you forward. He’s that kind of God.

Happy sailing.

 

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Michael Nyenhuis posted an entry on his โ€œNeglected no Moreโ€ blog about a colleague who died from a heart attack while serving as a nurse to the victims of the Haiti earthquake.  His name was Matt Bouthillier, and he was a volunteer for Medical Teams International.image

As a volunteer, he did not have to be there.  He was not paid to do it.  He left comfort and familiar surroundings to serve God by helping people in need.

There are no words I can say to comfort his family and friends, that comfort can come from God only.  The thought I can not get out of my head though is that I would so like to have my own death follow Mattโ€™s example.  To die while earnestly serving God.  Straight from service into eternal fellowship.

God grant me that.

 

Rest in awesome peace Matt.

Follow the leader

Posted: March 3, 2010 in God's word, Spiritual Thoughts
 

I was a bit out of sorts this morning. I won’t go into the details, but I had a bad dream last night and when I awoke, my soul was troubled and I was very anxious. When that happens I go into problem solving mode to figure out how to get myself out of the funk I am in. I just wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be today, or what I was supposed to do.image

So as He will at times, God took my head and my heart to a comfortable and warm place. A place where I think a lot clearer. Can you guess where he took me? Here — I’ll give you a hint of the words that ran through my mind and you can guess it for yourself:

Before the day, before the light, before the world revolved around the sun. God on high, he stepped down into time, and wrote the story of His love for everyone. He has filled our hearts with wonder so that we always remember that you and I were made to worship, you and I are called to love, you and I are forgiven and free. When you and I embrace surrender, when you and I choose to believe, then you and I will see — who we were meant to be!

So where do you think God took me? He took me to song, and therefore right into worship. Did you recognize the lyrics to Chris Tomlin’s song, "Made to Worship"? It was just what my heart needed this morning to refocus me and take me on into this day to continue my purpose — to worship Him.
So this morning I want to pause and say thanks. I want to say thanks to all those people in my life that have led me into worship with song. Thank you to people like Chris Tomlin who writes such great songs, but on an even more personal note, thank you to all our Chapel musicians. You do indeed take my heart and lead it closer to Jesus every time you take up an instrument or a microphone. Even when I fail to follow the lead you are giving, thank you for taking the effort to lead me closer to Jesus. It counts in my life, and in the lives of many others.

So how about you? Does song lift you up and lead you into worship? If so, tell your worship team so this week and sing out on Sunday like you never have before! Jesus does love a song, I am sure about that.