Archives for posts with tag: Chritianity

I was reading my daily devotional “Jesus Calling” this morning . . . I highly recommend it.  The subject was Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Oh, we’ve all heard the story of Eve and the fall and we men tend to joke that it (the fall) was all the women’s fault and so on.

The subject this morning was the fact that the way Satan tempted Eve was to get her to darken her perspective by showing her the one thing she could not have . . . the fruit from the apple tree.  Think about it . . . . she was in the Garden of Eden . . . everything was perfect for cryin’ out loud!  Yet Satan coerced her into looking right past all the perfection she lived in every day and to focus on the one . . . the only thing on the planet that she was forbidden to have . . . the fruit from the apple tree.

I don’t know about you but I sure have a tendency to do exactly the thing that Eve did.  I live a life with an over abundance of blessings . . . good health . . . wonderful marriage . . . great lifestyle . . . and the list goes on into eternity . . . the blessings I live with.  Yet, when there is one thing not exactly right, we tend to be unhappy . . . discontent until that thing is fixed.  How self-centered and selfish is that?!

As I was thinking about this, the thought occurred to me that we need to be good stewards of what God has given us.  Oh, we have all heard those stewardship sermons where the preacher tells us that we have been blessed with income and we should give 10% to God and I don’t disagree with that.

But let me take that a step further . . . I challenge you to think about ALL of the blessings of our lives . . . our finances . . . the sunrise . . . the blooming flowers you saw on the way to have a root canal . . . ALL of your blessings as something we need to be a good steward of.  Rather than taking those wonderful things for granted . . . give thanks!

Don’t let Satan . . . and the world darken your perspective into only being able to focus on the things that need fixing . . . look at ALL the things in your life that God has ALREADY fixed . . . and give thanks!  Our perspectives will brighten and our minds will be more open to hearing God’s voice in our lives!

Amen and Amen!

Pat

A few weeks ago, when Kris and I were in California we attended one of our Favorite churches; Bayside Church in Granite City.  They were just starting a series on the book of Proverbs so we were blessed to get to be there for the introduction.

The book of Proverbs is known as the book of wisdom and is among the wisdom literature of our culture.  Among the plethora of other information given pastor Ray spoke about the handy-dandy fact that there are 31 Proverbs and 31 days in our longest months . . . just perfect for reading a book of Proverbs every day!

Another opinion that Pastor Ray shared was that our American society as a whole has become obsessed with intelligence and not so much with wisdom.  We have all known those people who graduated with super high academic honors, but have great difficulty operating in our society due to their lack of common sense and/or wisdom.

Anyway, we are starting a study on Proverbs in our bible study and a thought came to me;  You know you can’t just read the book of Proverbs and “get” wisdom.  Oh, you expose yourself to it and get a first blush at what principles are wise and conversely, which are not.

I remember the first time I read through Proverbs . . . it was sort of  . . . well Duh!?!  The statements make logical sense.  But the key is to have the principles readily available in our minds and souls so we can call on them when we need to.

The thought then came to me that reading Proverbs is like loading an operating system on your computer (in our brains and souls).  The more we load and reload it, the more familiar it becomes to us and the more that information becomes a basis for us doing life . . . when we use that info on our operating system it just becomes part of who we are.  Not necessarily in a conscious way but more behind the scenes in our subconscious mind.

I challenge you, start reading Proverbs . . . a chapter a day.  If it is the 4th  of the month, start with Proverbs 4 and read a chapter a day.  It  probably won’t make an earth-shattering change in your life immediately . . . but you will see a change in your life!

Thank you for reading . . . blessings!

Pat

I left my boss’ office  . . . or should I say former boss’ office deflated, dejected and emotionally in a tailspin.  You see, my career in the first half of my life was in the homebuilding and land development industry.  That industry is traditionally boom or bust . . . and when it is good  . . . it is very, very good.  And when it is bad . . . it’s awful.

This day, it was decided by the higher ups in my company to change the direction of the company and my position would no longer be necessary . . . I had been laid off!

I went home and after explaining to my wife why I was home so early, I set to work getting my job search underway.  The first call I made was to the executive recruiter who had found this position for me; Jaquie.  I have always had the utmost in respect for Jaquie as she was a strong Christian and a lady of very high integrity.

“Sounds like you’re having a James 1 day!” Jaquie said after hearing my story.  Not being that familiar with James 1, I responded with something lame like “uh yeah, I hadn’t really thought of it that way.”  After I hung up the phone, I looked up James 1 and read it with renewed interest here is what it said:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1: 2 – 4  NIV

At first I was frustrated with Jacquie; Wasn’t this like praying for patience?!?! I didn’t need perseverance or to be complete . . . I needed a job with income for my family!

But God worked on me and helped me to understand a lot about that verse.  It is now one of my life verses.  You see, I finally came to realize just how true this scripture is (like all scripture isn’t true!).  I guess a better way to put that is that as I began to embrace the meaning of the scripture in my life . . . it really helped me to mature just a bit more into the man God created me to be.

You see, when we look at our challenges in life not as inconveniences to us or something that a judgmental God has chosen to punish us with we begin to realize who God is.  I began to understand that He is always there, working behind the scenes to make us more like Christ . . . to make us more content in our own skin . . . with our own circumstances.  When we understand that God didn’t cause this difficult time in our life but will use it for good . . . our good, then we are beginning to come more in alignment with who God wants us to be.

After all, as Christians, we all want to be mature and complete don’t we?  And that takes perseverance . . . and perseverance requires the testing of our faith.  Darn, don’t you hate it when that happens?!  But that is just the way the God set the universe to spin . . . the sooner we embrace God’s economy and stop fighting it . . . the sooner we start to be mature and complete . . . and . . . content.

Oh, and about the job, I had a new one in a couple of days!  Not that I found a new way to manipulate God . . . but when I focused on God and what He wanted me to do in my life rather than my selfish desires and wants . . . a blessing was a by-product!

OK . . . perhaps I will take perseverance and being complete.  Thank you god for helping me to get this straight . . . again!

Thank you for reading!

Blessings,

Pat

I don’t know about you but I am guilty of missing God’s best because many times I am focused on an area that may not be my God-Given Gift set.  Sometimes, either for the sake of convenience, or out of need, we are tempted to focus our efforts in areas which we were never intended to focus on.

Especially in times of economic tough times, we are inclined to take a job outside of our gift set just to provide for our family.  There’s nothing wrong with that . . . as long as we realize that it is a temporary situation.

In Ephesians 4:16 the New Living Translation of the bible says:  He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

I think a lot of us do this.  As we move through life and follow our careers doing the things wear are specially gifted by God to do . . . are passionate about, we learn a lot of skills that are simply a by-product of doing what we are specially gifted by God to do.  Example, as a business owner, I have learned to keep my financial records in pretty good order . . . at least until I plug them into my taxman at tax time.  Does that mean that I should start up a new business as an accountant?  Heavens no!

You see, my God-given gift is for running a business, not keeping financial records.  Does that make sense?  Oh I can do a passable job at bookkeeping but, the scripture says “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow.”  If I am focusing my time and energy doing something that God hasn’t particularly gifted me for . . . that I have no passion for, I am out of my Passion Zone . . . and consequently, I am missing the goodness of the passion that God has built in to each one of us.  I am frustrated because it isn’t how I was gifted and it is unnatural for me to be do this at least at this level.

It’s difficult for me to help the others grow when I am focused on trying to be an expert at something I was never intended to be an expert in in the first place.  Does that make sense?

It can take a lot of focus and time to figure out what God has designed us for.  But it is much easier to go the opposite way . . . to figure out areas where you have no passion . . . that you could probably do if you had to.  These are the areas where we need to minimize our focus.  This process will help us to surface the areas we are specially gifted in and are passionate about.
When we are doing something that we are ho-hum about . . . we may be doing Good for God and His kingdom.  When we are doing what God has specially gifted us for . . . we are giving our Best for Him and His kingdom!

A resource for helping you discover your special gifts and talents which my wife Kris and I have found to be very helpful is a book by Eric Reese “S.H.A.P.E.”.

As always thank you for reading!  Let’s not settle for the Good that God has given us, let’s find our passion and discover the Best that He has for us and in so doing help God’s kingdom grow as well as our own contentment!

Blessings!

Pat

As happens with all of us, God is using a friend of mine to get my attention about our lives and deaths.  I mentioned in my last posting that a friend of mine has just discovered that his cancer has come back . . . shown up in a different area.  We all hoped that he was “cured”!

What would it have meant if he had been “cured”?!  I believe that God is showing me that it would have simply meant that this particular potential cause of death has been eliminated . . . at least for the time being.  The fact of the matter is that we are all terminal . . . we are all on a path toward death.

I once heard a comedian do a bit about dying and it really resonated with me and helped me to gain perspective on our lives and our ultimate end.  It is like a horse race with all of the various diseases and conditions competing to be one who takes us out.

Imagine a horse race . . . imagine the announcer at the race track;  and it’s whooping cough taking an early lead, with mumps and measles close behind.  Whooping cough is falling back and it’s a fall from a tree coming on the outside!  But wait, on the inside it’s heart disease, heart disease, and diabetes is coming through the pack!  It’s diabetes, diabetes!  Here comes cancer and it’s gaining in the home stretch!  It’s cancer passing heart disease, passing diabetes, it’s cancer, it’s cancer widening it’s lead . . . cancer . . . cancer . . . and it’s cancer all the way!

As I said before, if we are “cured” of one aliment, it simply means that that particular potential cause of death has been eliminated  . . . for the time being.

I made that statement to a friend of mine and they accused me of being morbid.  Well, perhaps, but our “terminal” condition is something we all need to come to grips with.  Now, I am not saying that our eminent demise is something we should all dwell on . . . not at all.  What I am saying is that it is something we on which we need to have perspective.

In Psalm 39:3-5 the bible says, “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is..  How true this is.  What are we doing with our lives?  Are we wasting time away?  Are we presuming on God that we will be here tomorrow . . . and the next day and the next?  Are we putting off doing the things we want to door know we need to do in order to leave a legacy behind after we’re gone?

Have you been feeling a nudging or hearing a small voice inside of you telling you that you need to do something . . . call that friend . . . talk to that estranged family member . . . join that ministry . . . tell your spouse or kids that you love them . . . or come along side your friend who just learned his cancer is back?

That’s OK, you’ve still got plenty of time . . . hmm . . . remind me . . . just how much time was that?

As always, thank you for reading and for your support.

Blessings,

Pat

A friend of mine, whose cancer was in remission just heard that it (the cancer) is back.  That brings to mind all the things we are taught about death and dying and heaven and hell.

It also brings up a host of questions that seem to become more and more prevalent as I become older myself and I see death’s sweeping hand taking people closer and closer to me; Is heaven really a place I will go when I die?  Will I go there if I said the Baptist sinner’s prayer and not the Presbyterian’s or vice a versa?

Assuming that I got it right on the sinner’s prayer and that heaven is an actual place where I will see my deceased loved ones and enjoy no judgment, no right and wrong and . . . get to actually be with Jesus . . . why would I want to put myself through hell on earth to stay here and not go on to utopia?  That mindset just doesn’t seem to make sense . . . do we truly believe what we hear about utopia . . . heaven?!

Could it be that when we have terminal ailments . . . me with my blocked arteries . . . my friend with cancer . . . that that is the time that God intends for us to come home to Him?

Could it be that by exercising our free will and seeking out medical care we extend our time here on earth . . . beyond what may have been God’s plan?

Or, did God put the medical care here for us in order that we could extend our lives . . . so that we could continue to positively impact others’ lives for longer than we would have?

We westerners have been trained and taught that that is just what we do.  We get sick, we do everything in our power to get well.  This mindset goes from the smallest sniffle to the blocked artery or bone cancer.

Or is our advanced medical care technology and system just something God allowed us to figure out in order to offset the processed and otherwise unhealthy foods that we have come up with to cause many of these terminal ailments?!?!

I can’t tell you that I have answers to all these questions that I pose this morning.  All I can tell you is that God knows everything, including, what is best for us!  We just have to talk to Him but more than that, we need to listen to Him for His direction and guidance in our lives.  That is an easy statement to make . . . just listen to God and do what He says . . . I am the living proof that that is a life long and super challenging task . . . I make progress  . . . I lose ground . . . I make progress . . . I lose ground.  Hopefully, overall, I make progress in God’s eyes.

I think it boils down to a couple of central messages, one of which is: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 
John 14:5-7 (NIV).  We have to first seek our creator before we can hear from Him the direction for our next step.

Thank you for reading and for your support,

Blessings,

Pat

Life is Most Exciting . . . . Between Trapezes

“Life is most exciting  . . . between trapezes!”  When Kris and I we members of The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, were we exposed to some of the best and most powerful teaching and preaching in the country.  One of our favorites was Dr. David Scoates.  He was a fabulous storyteller, a compelling teacher, not to mention a strong man of God.

In one of his messages to us, Dr. Scoates was talking about moving ahead with confidence and enthusiasm as we engage in the incredible adventure of pursuing God’s direction for us.  He ended his message with the statement: “Life is most exciting . . . between trapezes”.

That statement has stayed with me ever since.   It has prompted a lot of thought and reflection about what is involved when in faith we follow God’s plan for our lives.

Let’s think about the analogy; the trapeze artist starts out in a secure environment . . . standing on her perch at one end of the arena, high above the crowd who is craning their collective necks to watch the artistry (I don’t know about you but standing on that tiny perch 40 feet above the crowd would be anything but secure to me!).   Then the artist ventures off of the secure perch gripping her trapeze with both hands, launching herself out and swinging over the audience.  Just to warm up (and to dazzle the crowd) the artist engages in a series of spins and twirls on the trapeze . . . first sitting . . . then standing . . . than appearing to fall only to catch herself with her knees and show her large smile to the crowd as she swings upside down with her arms outstretched!

Now she starts swinging from her hands and her audience, now fully engaged, knows that she is getting down to business.  She swings back and forth several times and as she does, someone on the other side of the arena appears on the perch there.  He unhooks that trapeze and watches his partner.  She finally gives an imperceptible signal and he starts the second trapeze swinging . . . .empty.  Finally, our first artist takes the leap and flies to the empty trapeze, turns around and flies back to the first one again.  Swinging higher now, the team start their routine over again.  This time when she releases from her trapeze she flies higher and while traveling to the other, perfectly synchronized trapeze, does a couple of summersaults before catching the other trapeze, which is exactly where it should be.  The crowd finally breathes collectively!

Our artists now fly all over the place with increasing difficulty and showmanship until they end their performance by dropping with a graceful maneuver into the net below.  The crowd goes nuts.

I bet you are already seeing the analogy.  For me, this story is full of parallels to us following God’s direction for our life.   In Philippians, Paul tells us that He can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.  And I think most of us believe that . . . at least while we are listening to God and thinking about following the direction He is giving us.  This is the part where we are standing on the perch at one end of the arena.

As we rely more and more on God and our faith gets stronger, we venture out and take that first real step of faith.  Perhaps it’s doing a business plan for a venture you want to start, or looking at your first house to purchase.  Perhaps it’s letting your emotional barriers down so you can love and be loved.  Now you have gripped the trapezes and made your first swing out over the crowd.  As you continue at this level of commitment in following God’s direction, you become more and more comfortable with it . . . swinging . . . still on one side of the arena but getting more bold with your tricks.  You are looking into financing on that house or talking to potential business partners about your new venture or allowing that other person to express their feelings for you.

Finally, you are to the point that you sense God working behind the scenes on your behalf You swing higher and higher and finally release your trapeze . . . your “security” and fly through the air trusting that God has set the other trapeze into motion at precisely the right time and speed for you to catch.  With that successful landing on that first attempt you become more and more confident in God’s protection and involvement in your act.  You are able to do more and more things with increasing levels of difficulty . . . buying that house or making those first deals with the new business, allowing the relationship to blossom.

But beware, as your success continues, there will be a tendency to believe the lies that God’s adversary will tell you: This is all about you . . . look what you have done . . . and you did it all yourself and didn’t even need God in it at all!

That is when you may find the other trapeze just out of synch . . . out of reach!  But also remember that even if you do find the other trapeze out of synch and you miss it and fall to the net; our God is your net . . . the God of second chances.  He will allow you to climb back up that ladder and work on your routine with Him however many times it takes for  you to get it right!

Life is most exciting . . . between trapezes . . . when you are listening to God!