Thursday, February 23, 2006

Clarification on Post

Let me clarify my position on yesterday's post. From the responses I received on the comments, I found I didn't make some of my thoughts very clear. I love getting comments, they help me think about opinions I've formed, and sometimes help me change them. They provide a very nice counter to what some people might dub my overly strong opinions and thoughts. I stated I don't understand people's mindsets that don't have a positive outlook on life and circumstances. I stand by that, but I pray God will help me in that respect to better relate to people. I said people should focus on the good in life. In my opinion that is true, but one should also recognize the bad in life, just not focus on it. Putting on a "happy face" is not a good thing either, to fake happiness is to lie. I do not do that. I honestly have had some very bad days, but during those times, I actively seek out that which I can praise God for, just as Paul and Silas did when they were singing praises to God in the jail. Yes, I admit that I don't have it all together, I am human like everyone else. And my natural reaction is to just attempt to get through the problem quickly and not think about it. That's an area that God could really work on in my life. I guess really I was just so frustrated yesterday because I see Christians out there who never take the time to stop and praise God for the blessings in their life, they just stop to pray about all the problems. There has to be a balance. I have some great personal friends who will list a lot of bad things going on in their life, but then at the end they say God is still good. Even if that's all they can do, I highly admire and respect them for it. It reminds me of Job. He went on and on about all the bad that had befallen him, but he still glorified God.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Victorious Victim?

How do Christians do it? I simply don't understand! Christians are supposed to be victorious. Don't get me wrong, I understand hardship in life, difficulties and such; I've had them myself. How can you get up every day thinking about how bad your life is? What, do you actively look for the negative and focus on it? Tonight at Bible study we were doing a study in "Becoming a Contagious Christian," the leader made a statement (only for discussion purposes, I don't know anyone in the group who really thinks this way) about how life is about hardships, trials and difficulties. Yes, I know the Bible says that we will have hardships and be persecuted, but shouldn't we at least wake up with a bright perspective. The Bible also says that (loosly quoted) so as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Maybe I could be accused of being overly optimistic, after all I refer to myself as an "eternal optimist." I responded to his question by saying that life should rather be about opportunity, joy and blessings. Come on fellow Christians, get up tomorrow and think to yourself about how you can bless someone today, even if all you can do is give a stranger a real smile. I guarantee, the more you wake up with this perspective you will start to have more joy and optimism in your life! The Bible says the two greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. As you practice this your life will change every day, because it takes the focus off of you and puts it on others!

Proactive vs. Reactive Christianity

So often these days Christians are content to just sit back and practice Sunday morning Christianity. What if a quarter of all self proclaimed Christians in the United States would simply start putting their relationship with God in front of other things? Imagine a group of Believers who were becoming increasingly more passionate about their walk with God. What would this country look like? What about the churches, how much more effective would they become? People using their talents and gifts God has given them to make an impact in this world. The Christianity Jesus and the Apostles talk about in the New Testament, is not what is a major part of our lives. We practice reactive Christianity compared to Jesus' proactive Christianity. Instead of sitting back and letting the world influence us and then attempting to counter that, I challenge you to instead go out and influence the world. Just like Jesus and the Apostles did. Is this a difficult thing? At times, yes! But it is what Christ calls us to. God wants you to "let your light so shine...". Be an encouragement to those around you. Let them see the joy of the Lord in your life, but don't put up a front. Actively seek to let God deal with the sins in your life, and He will be able to use you to a much greater extent.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dogs Part II

Here I present a little test
To see which pet you think is best
Dogs and cats we'll compare with ease
Just tell which one it is you please
Dogs are kind, gentle and humble
Walking beside so you don't stumble
Cats are cranky, whiny and skittish
They remind me of the British
Big dogs, little dogs patiently stand
Waiting to obey your every command
Puny little cats look on with a frown
'Cause they don't understand when to sit down
My friends I ask with much implore
For you to tell me which is more
Cats that prance and strut with pretension
Or dogs that have a higher dimension

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dogs Part I

Dogs are born noble creatures
But when they see those feline sneakers
Out come their protector features
With snarling lips and pointy teeth
They bark and growl with rage and seeth
Reminding us that cats are not
A kind and altruistic lot
So give a shout anytime you see
A cat sneaking 'round next to me
Cage it, chain, it, keep it away
Let those dogs run free all day

Monday, February 13, 2006

Wasted Worship

Sunday morning as we were singing in church, I started thinking about worshipping* God. I realized that lately, unfortunately, I've really just been going through the motions. Worshiping God is much more than just singing the words on the screen. It's meditating on the meaning of the words. Focusing on God's magnificence. Enjoying His presence. Crying out to Him. Begging for more of Him in my life - and so much more. For me, the whole sum of my relationship with God is able to be expressed through worship. If I haven't been spending time with Him lately, or have a sin in my life, I don't give all of myself to Him. Now, it's not about having a good "God" feeling, all warm and tingly. Worship is an expression of yourself to God, as well as God's self to you. During worship I am giving myself to Him. Worship does not have to be "raise your hands and dance around", but it does have to be from the heart and not just the lips. To honor God through worship we must focus our thoughts on God, rather than the events of the past week or coming day. Before service starts I like to take a few moments to think about God so my mind is in the right place. Is your worship wasted?

*For the purposes of this post worship is used to reference singing.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Where Have All the Guys Gone - Part II

Guys today really bug me - acting like boys even into their late twenties and beyond. Men as a society today have lost the art of "manhood." We are more selfish than ever before, putting our own cares before the needs or cares of others. We lack common courtesy, such as opening a door for someone else, let alone a lady, or even the time tested skills of saying please and thank you. Whatever happened to chivalry, maybe I'm just being naïve, but we have lost almost all semblance of manners. Would it hurt us so much to let someone else go first in line? To put others before ourselves? Why do I rant and rave about this, because everywhere I turn in the public places (malls, stores, movie theatres, restaurants) I am assaulted with some twenty something kid who can't speak without using cuss words, or is driving down the street blaring his music so loud you can't hear anything else. Then there's the choice of clothes we wear. Not that I'm Mr. Fashion, but whatever happened to trying to look nice? When did wearing pants so low people can see your butt become fashionable? To me it's rude and disgusting. At what time did shoving a nail through your tongue become a fashion accessory? How does it happen, are you on lunch break at the construction site, you see a nail gun and you say to yourself, "I know where one of those would look nice". I like comedian Rodney Dangerfield's famous line, "...I get no respect". And that's exactly what you get, no respect. The other day I was standing in line at a Wendy's in Carmel. Two guys in front of me started fighting, I have no clue what it was about. They were raising their voices and one started advancing on the other. After looking around and noticing that none of the employees were going to say anything at this point, I took the opportunity to step in and tell them to cool it. They did and went their separate ways. Where are we as a society that it takes so little to start a fight? They don't respect themselves, each other or others around. If people simply would start trying to be decent human beings, open a door, pull up their pants, turn down their music and put the nail gun away, they would get more respect from those around them.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Breakfast Memories

Thank goodness for Pillsbury! As a guy that can't cook worth a hill of beans (want proof, ask people about my peach pie), Pillsbury is a savior to me this morning. Here I am eating blueberry waffles that are pretty darn tasty. (Disclaimer: Don't try this at home without trained help; I have no idea what actual ingredients are required to prepare blueberry waffles.) Did I have to get out the flour and milk or buy a thing of blueberries? Heck no! That's good, because I don't have any of those items in my kitchen right now. Hence this is the reason why I'm eating blueberry waffles and not my usual cereal. All I had to do was spend a buck at Meijer 'cause they were on sale and then drop them in the toaster. Now you might be thinking to yourself, "Why in the world is he talking about his breakfast?" For two reasons: I am easily amused and it brought back some very fond memories from childhood. While growing up I had cereal all the time for breakfast, which is probably why I love it so much now, as well as its convenience and simplicity in preparation. These Pillsbury blueberry waffles (say that five times fast) don't even compare to home-cooked ones and especially not my mom's. She would, now and then, make pancakes, waffles or french toast (my favorite). When I was younger I wanted to have this stuff every week, but looking back I'm glad I didn't. It made it much more special, because it gave me something to look forward to; it was a surprise. You know the saying, too much of a good thing isn't. One of my other favorite fond memories is Mom getting up early in the spring or summer to make blueberry muffins. We'd take them over to a park and have breakfast and play awhile. Those were some awesome times. Speaking of blueberry muffins, two blueberry muffins were sitting in an oven...ok, ok I'll stop! To any of you parents out there, this goes to show that you can take the commonplace, the ordinary and make it very special to your kids, with a little creativity and love on your part. It's building special memories for a lifetime. I call them, Breakfast Memories.

Thanks Mom!!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Annoying Annoyers

Sometimes people really annoy me. Other times I am challenged by them. What's really "painful" is when the person annoying me also challenges me. One of my biggest struggles is my stubborness (I know, hard to believe). It's an area I really desire God to work on in my life. I can see over the past several years how He has done an awful lot of work, but there's still a long way to go. Well, the other night I had a chance to let God continue working in that area. Being the stubborn individual that I am at times, I sometimes find it difficult to relinquish my opinions on a subject. Nonetheless, it is good to have discussions with people that help me grow and get out of my comfort zone. During the conversation I found myself attempting to support my opinions, if only for the sake of (well I'm not real sure what it was for the sake of, maybe argument or my pride). Inside I felt the need to defend myself, when in reality life at that moment would have been a whole lot simpler just admitting that they very well may have a good point. Rarely when I am challenged by someone do I admit to them that they might be right, but I always go away and think about it. That's what I found myself doing later that night. It's like asking for directions (which I honestly have no problem doing); you just don't admit you don't know how to get there. So please pray for me that God will continue working in this area of my life. It'll make things a whole lot easier.