Archives for posts with tag: Practical Christianity

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

GRATITUDE

In a recent bible study, we had a great discussion about Gratitude.  The sharing was super and we got into a long discussion about the role that gratitude plays in our lives  . . .  in the level of joy that we each live with . . .  or don’t.  After a lot of discussion and turning this subject all around I think we all agreed that the main thing that having gratitude does is bring us closer to God.

Think about it.  If we believe that all things came from God then it would make sense that He is responsible for the things that we have to be thankful for.  Now, this can open up a new discussion on whole different track . . . is God responsible for everything that happens . . . our getting that promotion  . . . having a healthy baby . . .  our mom getting cancer . . . uncle Fred dying in a car crash?!?!  That is a track I will discuss in a future posting, but in short; my thought on this is that there are natural laws of our universe and there are natural consequences to decisions we make.  And let’s face it; bad things happen to good people!

I don’t believe that God causes these bad things to happen.  I do think that He allows them to happen . . . but He will use even the bad stuff for good.  See James: 1, 2-5 (again, another blog post subject!)

Anyway, back to our discussion on gratitude: It is helpful for us to explore the things that we have and experience in our lives that we can give God thanks for . . . in nature . . . in our relationships . . . in our work.  It really helps us to tie things back to Him . . . Our Creator.

For me, I find that gratitude or thankfulness is a muscle all in and of itself.  Like any muscle in our body, if we go long enough periods of time without using them they will atrophy . . . lose their tone and not function as well.  When I go through times when I am not actively exploring and searching out the things I have to be thankful to God for . . . my attitude starts to go downhill . . . and pretty soon negativity starts to creep in and that is not a healthy track for any of us.

This discussion could go on forever and I would welcome any of you reading this to keep it going by way of posting your comments to this blog.

For now, I want to close with this: Several years ago when Kris and I were so busy in our lives that we could scarcely see ourselves coming or going,  I ran across a book which made a radical change in my prayer life:  “Too Busy NOT to Pray” by Bill Hybels.  This is a great book in many aspects but the thing that got my attention and continues to influence my prayer life was Bill sharing the A.C.T.S. model for prayer.  Here is an excerpt of Bill’s book and his discussion on A.C.T.S..  Hopefully it will have a nugget or two that you can hold on to:

Excerpt from His Book: “Too Busy NOT to Pray” by Bill Hybels
A.C.T.S. Model for Prayer

I. A doration.

In adoration we focus on our God who has dreams for us rather than beginning by focusing on our problems. It is good for us to be reminded that God is bigger than our problems and difficulties.

What is meant by adore? Webster defines adore as “regard with utmost love, esteem, or respect, to worship as divine.” We usually call Sunday morning services in our churches at R-S, worship services. Just calling a service worship, does not necessarily mean that worship takes place. Adoration, in private prayer or in a gathering of Christians, requires our involvement.

Have you ever thought about how you adore God? You might think about the many attributes or qualities of God or focus on a particular attribute of God you are especially aware of at that time. To help me do this I may use a Psalm of praise or another scripture which tells of the qualities of God. I may sing a great hymn of praise or a praise chorus. You may notice that I often plan our Sunday morning services to spend some time in adoration of God, frequently having us join together in hymns or praise choruses. We have already sung our theme song. (8:30) Let’s adore our Lord with some more songs of praise. (10:30) Our choir is going to sing an anthem of praise and then we ask you to join in singing a couple of hymns of praise.

II. C onfession.

Confession may be a neglected area of public and personal prayer. We become aware of our sin and confess it to Jesus Christ as we are born into life with Christ. Jesus died to forgive us for our sins and when we confess our sin and ask for His forgiveness, He does indeed forgive us and cleanse us.

If you have made this vitally important step in your life, let me ask? Have you sinned since then? Have you confessed that sin to God? Notice I said, “That sin, not all your sins.” We certainly should confess them all, but naming specific sins privately to God is a much more effective means of confession than lumping them together and saying, “Lord, Please forgive me for all these ways I have failed to please You.” Be honest with God. He knows the truth about you and me anyway. Our conversation with God is so much better when are open and honest with our Lord. Think about honesty in other relationships, too. If I am trying to hide something I have done against you, what kind of relationship can we really have?

Some people, including some church attenders don’t like to think about sin. Pastor Bill Hybels tells this story.

Many years ago I had an interesting conversation with a man-I’ll call him Harry-who regularly attended my church. I had given a message on our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. Harry came to my office and said, “All this talk about sin is making me feel really bad. I for one don’t consider myself a sinner.”

Harry was a guy I could shoot straight with, so I said, “Well, maybe you’re not. Let me ask you a few questions. You’ve been married twenty-five years. Have you been absolutely one hundred per cent faithful to your wife the whole time?”

He chuckled and said, “Well, you know I’m in sales. I travel a lot…” We both knew what he was admitting to.

“Okay,” I said, ‘when you fill out our expense account, do you ever add something that wasn’t strictly business?”

“Everybody does that.” he relied.

“And when you are out there selling your product, do you ever exaggerate-say it will do something it won’t, or promise to ship it tomorrow when you know it won’t go out until next Tuesday?”

“That’s the industry standard.” he said.

I looked straight at him and said, “You have just told me that you are an adulterer, a cheater, and a liar. Repeat those words after me-I am an adulterer, a cheater, and a liar.”

He looked as if his eyes were going to pop out. “Don’t use those awful words!” he said. “I only said that there was a little something on the side, a little this and a little that…”

“No,” I said. “Just say it like it is. You’re an adulterer, a cheater, and a liar. To me that means you’re a sinner in desperate need of a Savior.”

Your sin may be different from Harry’s, but are you willing to call it what it is before God and ask for His forgiveness? That’s what confession really is, saying the same thing about sin as God says. Don’t try to rationalize it because others do. Let’s take a few moments right now to privately confess our sin to God, after we confess together using 890.

III. T hanksgiving.

Repeatedly the scriptures call us to thanksgiving, not merely a holiday we observe once a year. In Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica he wrote (5:18), “in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Pray thanking God for who He is, for what He has done for us through Christ, for how we can find Him actively at work among us each day.

Some of us as parents know how wonderful it makes us feel to have a daughter or son freely thank us for something we have done for them! That really blesses me when Rachael or Jonathan says, “Dad, Thanks for taking me to the ball game or the playground!” Don’t you think God, our heavenly Father is also deeply moved when we express our gratitude to Him?

Let’s take a few moments to thank God now, maybe share some God hunts, but please don’t share prayer concerns yet. Then we will share communion, thanking God for the wonderful gift of His Son to give us salvation.

IV. S upplication.

Supplications, that’s the aspect of praying that most of us do better than the previous three. After we have adored Him, confessed our sin to Him, and thanked Him for the delightful things He has done for us, then it is time for supplication, for telling God what we need, for making our requests to the source of all our blessings. We’ll do this now.

As always thank you for reading.  I pray that this posting has ministered to you in some way.

Please feel free to comment or open up discussions on this or any other subject you are interested in.

Blessings,

Pat

Several years ago, there was an ad campaign on TV . . . I think it was for a men’s after shave lotion and the guy on the TV gets a good firm SMACK on the face and responds with “Thanks, I needed that!”  That very well describes my feelings as I have been working my way through Joyce Meyers’ book “The Battlefield of the Mind”.  Joyce pulls no punches in talking about her experiences of working through various issues of life and how they relate to her walk with Christ and her relationships with everyone in her life.

The concept that SMACKED me across the face not just once this week was about patience.  Joyce makes a great statement about patience: “Patience is not the ability to wait, it is the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” SMACK!!  That one hit home for me.  Many times I think I am being noble and the model of a good Christian man  because I am able to buck up and wait on God or wait on others.  And that is OK except . . . I am whining and complaining the whole time I am waiting . . . Look at me, I am having to wait on God . . . or Jeez this line is slow, but because I am such a good person, I will totally put myself out by being patient and waiting!

One of the major things that Joyce brings out is what causes us to wait with less than good attitudes is our pride . . . or lack of humility.  Somehow, we got this idea into our heads that we are somehow above having to wait . . . waiting is for others who, are not as cool or important as me or as busy as I am.  Where did I get that idea?!?!

She mentions the scripture of James 5: 7 which talks about waiting.  It says “Be patient as you wait”.  It doesn’t say be patient if you wait.  Life is about waiting.  It is for all of us.  SMACK!  But this is one of those scriptures (among many others) that are for people other than me.  After all . . . I am above waiting . . . . really!?

One thing that I find in myself is that when I am impatient and for whatever reason Satan has put into my head, I think that I shouldn’t be having to wait on anything, I then shift into control mode.  But truly, isn’t that the way managing our lives is; when someone, perhaps a person who works for us or a child comes to us and says something can’t happen on schedule?  We go into control mode and see if we can approach the situation from a perspective they haven’t thought of yet to move things along again.

I will say that in everything there is a “God’s” part and an “Our” part.  We don’t just hang out at the beach and eat bon-bons and wait for God to do everything.  We do have to make an effort . . . in a godly way.  But I know for me, it’s almost as if I adopt an attitude of  God doesn’t have this right or God doesn’t realize the time frame I need this to happen in and what Joyce says to this is:  “Our job is not to control our circumstances, but to respond to them in a godly way.”  That includes listening to God to hear what he wants our part in this to be.  SMACK!

THANKS . . . I NEEDED THAT!

Like all of us . . . I am certainly a work in progress.  It is with books like this one from Joyce Meyers and many others out there that I think God uses to help us to look at ourselves more objectively.  The purpose is not to denigrate us but to help us see ourselves more as God sees us and help us to more become the people He created us to be.

Some books that have been helpful to me in my walk of faith are:

“The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyers
“The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
“Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do” by Dr. Robert H. Schuller
“Too Busy NOT to Pray” by Bill Hybels
“The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God and Having the Guts to Respond” by Bill Hybels
“The Man in The Mirror” by Patrick Morely
“Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptations One Victory at a Time” by Steve Arterburn
“Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge
“Walking With God” by John Eldredge
“Talking to God” by Charles Stanley
“Listening to God” by Charles Stanley

As always,

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

I read a lot of things relating to my spiritual growth and living the way God wants me to . . . doesn’t mean that I am always successful.  But one I have to tell you that I have received a lot of good, solid teaching from Rick Warren at Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, California.  Today’s posting was inspired by a daily devotional e-mail I received from Rick “Purpose Driven Connection”, several weeks ago.  That coupled with my own walk and experiences helped to create today’s post.  Thank you Pastor Rick!

Many of you know that Kris and I have spent time serving as missionaries in Kenya.  During our first trip there, Kris and I separated.  No . . . No . . . nothing like that!  I mean, on this particular day, Kris when with one group to work at an orphanage and I went with another to high school in the slums.

As a little background to this about 30 of us were on this trip and we though we were allowed to bring two suitcases at no extra charge (that dates me doesn’t it!) we each only brought one suitcase and a plastic storage container.  These containers were filled with everything from medical supplies, medicines, school supplies, clothing and shoes for the folks we would be working with.

Back to our story; my group was at the school to deliver some of the school supplies we brought with us.  We all met in the schoolmaster’s office with Pastor Steve who was our leader as well as some of the teachers and unpacked our gifts for them.

Afterwards, our little group broke up and we went out into the schoolyard to connect with some of the kids.  While I was standing there, I saw the schoolmaster walking across the makeshift soccer field toward me.  When he finally reached me he greeted me again with his sing-songy Kenyan accent.  And then he said, “Ah yew a meenistah?”  I was taken aback because he knew who our pastor was.  He had just had him in his office 5 minutes ago!  I answered, “No, I’m not a minister, I am just one of the people here on mission.  Steve, the tall guy over there is our pastor.”  He retorted, “Yew ah weeth thees group yes?” I agreed.  He continued, “ahnd yew ah heeya serving Christ yes?” Again, I answered yes.  With his voice elevated for effect he concluded, “Theen yew ah a meenistah!  We ah ahll meenistahs!”  I got it!

In chapter 40 of his book; “The Purpose Driven Life” Pastor Rick Warren asks the question: “What will be the contribution of your life?”  My translation of this what will be the legacy you will leave behind after you are gone?  Will it be money, fame, property or lots of toys?  Or will it be changed enriched lives . . . Lives that are different because those people came in contact with you during their life?

That is ministry.  It’s not a big scary thing it is just simply anytime you use your gifts and talents to help others . . . you are ministering.

The bible talks a lot about ministry and the fact that every Christian on this earth for ministry:

We were Created for ministry (Ephisians, 2:10)
We were Saved for ministry (2 Timothy 1:9)
We are Called Into ministry (1 Peteer 2:9-10)
We are Gifted for ministry (1 Peter 4:10)
We are Authorized for ministry (Mathew 28:18-20)
We are Commanded to minister (Mathew 20:26-28)
We are Prepared for ministry (Ephisians 4:11-12)
WE are Needed for ministry (1 Corithians 12:27)
We are Accountable For and Rewarded according to his or her ministry (Colossians 3:23-24)

Look at 2 Timothy 1:9 LB

                          “He saved us and chose us for His holy work, not because we deserved it but because that was His plan long before the world began.” 

Why did God save us?  So we could serve Him.  A non-serving Christian is a contradiction

So, If we were saved to serve God, how do we do that?  We do through ministry by using the gifts and talents God gave us!

But how do we serve in ministry?  Well, I can tell you this, It is much, much easier than may think.  As the schoolmaster in Kenya helped me to understand: When we help others in the name of God . . . “We ah ahll meenistahs!”

In upcoming posts, I will discuss some of the super easy but effective ways of being in ministry, helping others.

As always, thank you for reading and following.

Blessings,

Pat

Being a believer is a life full of contrasts and inside out thinking . . . it’s a real balancing act.

The world’s values and economy and God’s values and economy are pretty much at odds with each other . . . about 180 degrees apart.  The world tells us to look out for number one . . . that it’s all about us . . . grab everything you can before someone else gets it.  Do whatever we have to so that we will feel good!

God’s values tell us to turn the other cheek . . . to love our enemies . . . care for the widows and orphans . . . to first be a servant in order to be a leader.

But, as I was studying and preparing a sermon message, it came to me that there is a great way to marry these two diametrically opposed value systems . . . it’s with ministry!

It is actually pretty simple but it does require a difficult first step . . . start serving others.  When we put others first and help them in the name of God . . . that’s ministry.  And the way God set the universe into motion, is that when we open our hearts to serve others and help others . . . we are the ones who are blessed . . . and feel good about ourselves.  Oh, we definitely bless those we are helping but I would argue that we are the ones with the biggest blessing and . . . we develop a purpose and passion for our lives and become the really self-actualized people.

Want to look out for number one . . . help someone else!
Just a thought!

Thanks for following and reading.
Blessings,

Pat

As we finish this series on being strengthened by God . . . . just a quick review of where this series has taken us:

FIRST – We have to connect to God.

SECOND – Know that there will be barriers to following His direction for us and

THIRD – It Will Take Determination . . . Strong Faith . . . Single Mindedness

Just because you flicked the Devil off your shoulder once doesn’t mean he won’t be back.  As we covered before.  The enemy will be relentless in keeping you from growing closer to God!  It’s that simple!  So it will take determination on your part . . . a single minded determination to stay the course that God sets for you!  When I was preparing this posting  . . . FLICK – HIT THE ROAD! . . . FLICK – HIT THE ROAD! . . . FLICK – HIT THE ROAD! . . . the enemy was everywhere!

A great example of this kind of single-minded faith is a guy named Mauricio.  Mauricio was the son of an itinerate farmer.  He and his family moved from farm to farm with the farming activities throughout the year.  Consequently, Mauricio never attended the same school more that 2 or 3 months at a time.  He was always the new kid and the brunt of jokes and bullies.

But, Mauricio had a dream.  He was going to work hard (he was certainly no stranger to hard work) and save his money and buy some ranch land.  With more work and more savings, he would buy some horses and be a horse rancher and trainer.  Mauricio had had this dream for as long as he could remember . . . it was going to happen.

One day in school, Mauricio’s teacher gave the class a writing assignment; write two paragraphs about what you want to be when you grow us.  “You have 30 minutes to complete this and turn it back in to me at my desk.” She told them.

Mauricio couldn’t believe it!  This is great!  Not only do I know what I want to be, I have the vision in my mind.  All I have to do is put that vision on paper!  He thought.  He started writing and the words just flowed from his # 2 pencil. If Mauricio had any difficulty with this assignment, it was keeping it to two paragraphs . . . very long paragraphs and  . . . containing his passion for his dream!  He was the first to turn his completed assignment in.

Later in the day, the teacher had graded all the papers and handed them back to the class.  As she walked down his aisle, Mauricio thought he saw something on the next paper in her hand.  And as the teacher handed it to him, he could see the large bold red “F” with a circle around it!  As he looked at the paper he also saw a note below the large red “F”  See me after class! it read.

From that time until the end of class Mauricio couldn’t keep from thinking about the “F”.  Maybe she doesn’t like me . . . why an “F” and not a “D” . . . I actually thought it should have been an “A” or “B” . . . I think it was pretty good grammatically . . . after all, I did complete the assignment . . . maybe my paragraphs were too long.  It clouded his thinking until the end of class when he could finally talk to his teacher about it.

“I’m sure your are wondering why I asked to see you after class.”  Mauricio’s teacher asked him after he approached her desk.  She continued, “and why I gave you an “F” on that assignment”.  “Well Mauricio, I’ll tell you.  You see you are only the son of an itinerate farmer and while I am sure that your father is a fine man he is after all, an itinerate farmer.  And Mauricio, you cannot ever amount to any more than what your father is!”  To write about owning a horse ranch and being a horse rancher and trainer makes for a nice story.  But you remember I asked you to write about what YOU want to be when you grow up.  This paper you handed in is pure fiction . . . a pipe-dream . . . there is no reality about it at all!”

“I will make you a deal Mauricio.” She said, “If you will go home and re-write this paper and base in on something in our realm of reality and turn it in again tomorrow, I will invest my time in grading it again.  Is that fair?”  Mauricio agreed, took his paper back from her and dejectedly started his long walk home.

Once he was home Mauricio worked and worked on that paper.  After several hours and many crunched-up papers from his writing tablet later he was finally done.  He went to be in a much more peaceful state.

Awakened by the excitement of his new perspective, he showered, got dressed and headed off to school early that morning stuffing a pop tart in his mouth as he walked.

He got to school well before the starting bell was to ring and his teacher was at her desk getting ready for her day.  She heard Mauricio step into the room and looked up from her desk and said “Good morning Mauricio!  Did you think about our little conversation yesterday?”  Yes, Ma’am he answered and he pulled his paper out of his back pack and handed it to her.  Just has Mauricio had experienced the day before, she could see the same big red “F” with the red circle around it on the paper before it even reached her hand.  She took it reluctantly and said in a very curt tone “why this is the same paper that you turned in yesterday.  I thought you were going to re-write it.  Does this mean you don’t care about your grade?!”

Maurico sat pensively and said, “you know, I thought about re-writing it but this is my dream and I made a decision last night.” And what would that be Mauricio” she asked him.  His volume increased a bit under his determination and he replied, “That you can keep that “F” and I . . . I’m gong to keep my dream!” and turned and said down at his desk.

That, is the kind of single-minded faith I am talking about!  The enemy is going to employ every kind of deterrent he can to discourage you from following the direction God has given you for your life.  It might be a direction for the next short segment or it may be a life-long dream and passion like that of Mauricio’s.  But we all have to have the tenacity to FLICK the guy in the little red suit and horns off of our shoulder and continue to look to God and follow His direction and don’t give up!

I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME!

Amen and Amen!

Thank you for reading and following!

Blessings!

Pat