You want me to WHAT??

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” – Matthew 5:44-45

Do you have difficult people in your life? You know, the kind of folks that make every encounter feel like you are biting on tin foil.

I do. I work in a job that creates high stress levels. I have learned, I guess, to thrive on the stress of the job to some extent. There are some people that I deal with that make each project a real hassle. If I am not under the bus, I am in the crosshairs. If I am not at fault, I am still to blame. If I hold my ground, I am not a team player.

Some days, I find myself thinking “Just wait, you will get yours!”

This is not the attitude that Christ wants us to carry. Luke uses slightly different language:

“bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” – Luke 6:28

Have you ever tried to do this? The high road is not easy. It is far easier to wait. To plan. To scheme. This is not what Christ wants from us. I admit, I have spent more than my share of time counting the mistreatments. The accusations. The lies.

Christ tells us to “turn the other cheek”. This is not just a physical cheek, but also an emotional cheek. When others do wrong to us, it hurts our pride. It hurts our perception of ourselves, as well as the perceptions that others hold about us. I get tired of turning that cheek. Some days, I feel as if I am out of cheeks to turn.  I was given a new cheek today.

My morning drive to work is some of my best prayer time. Each day, I start the same way: “Lord, please use me today. Show me how I can do your will today, and give me the strength to do it.” This morning, I heard a pastor talking about these verses on my way to work. Shortly after I arrived, someone showed up in my cubicle. They had been mistreated by a coworker. I talked with them about the situation. I started laughing, and then relayed to them my daily prayer and the verses listed above. God had answered my prayer. We talked about how these verses applied to the situation we were both in.

I took a few minutes to pray for both this person and the coworker as I went on to my next task. I asked that God help me to feel refreshed, and to show me how to be a better example of Christ to those around me. I know that I will never be perfect this side of Heaven, but I also know that I can do better job of being a witness than I do most days. I also asked for an extra portion of grace and mercy when dealing with difficult people.

How will you react next time?

In His name,

Brad

August 27 2008 | General | No Comments »

Why me?

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” – Exodus 4:10-13

Tonight, the part of Moses will be played by… YOU!

Have you ever felt like Moses? You are just minding your own business, and out of nowhere (seemingly), God speaks to your heart. It may be a small nudge, a firm push, or it may be a smack between the eyes. God speaks to each of us in a very different manner.

Why, when the Master of all things speaks to us, do we so often try to find excuses not to listen? One of my favorite movies is “Evan Almighty“. I watched this recently, and had a true God moment. When Evan, played by Steve Carell, was talking with God, played by Morgan Freeman, Evan told God that “this wasn’t part of my plan”, Morgan Freeman doubles over in laughter. When Evan asks about it God starts laughing and says “Your plan?”

How many times have we answered God’s call with:

  • “Sorry, that’s not part of my plan.”
  • “Sorry God, get someone else to teach that class. ”
  • “Sorry, God, get someone else to lead that team.”
  • “And please, please, God, get someone else to visit the shut-ins.”

God wants each and every one of us to serve. he has gifted each one of us with a ministry. It may be praying. It may be teaching. It may even be just listening to someone who needs to vent.

Each day as I go to work, I pray that God will find a way to use me. Recently, I met with a friend of mine who is having stressful times at work. I talked with this friend, and that was the way that God used me that day. I am amazed that God can use me to be an influence in a positive manner. That he can us me to minister to someone. I know me. I know that I am not qualified to minister to someone. But the Holy Spirit, who lives in me, is qualified to use me in ways that I cannot understand.

So often, I find myself telling God, like Moses, “pick someone who is more qualified.” God answers me the same way He answered Moses: “Who made you? If I can make you, can I not give you the words to say.” What an awesome concept!

Next time God prompts, just try saying “Okay God, we both know I am not qualified. I am counting on you to give me the words, to give me the gift I need to do your will. Prepare me to do your work, and help me to give you the glory.”

Go in Christ, and serve when asked.

August 05 2008 | General | No Comments »

Why do we wrestle?

“That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.”

Genesis 32:22-31

Jacob wrestled with God, and it was a stalemate. Not because God could not overpower him, but because he chose not to overpower him. When Jacob was touched by God, his hip was wrenched, and he walked with a limp the rest of his days.
Do you wrestle with God?

I know that many times in my life, daily almost, I wrestle with God. I cannot say why, I know that it is futile, that I will lose every time, but I do it anyway.

This blog has not been updated in quite some time. I was too busy wrestling.

My Bible study has not been consistent. I was too busy wrestling.

My desire to reach other for Christ has diminished. I was too busy wrestling.

My participation in a Christian outreach group has declined. I was too busy wrestling.

I know that I will lose the wrestling match, yet I continue to wrestle. Are you as stubborn as I am?

Jacob was touched by God. His life changed permanently. I have been touched by Chris, and my life changed permanently.

Why do we wrestle? Is it:

  • Stubborn pride?
  • Desire for the old me?
  • Desire for control?
  • Desire to blend in?

I wish I knew the answer. Someday, I will. Until then, I will try not to wrestle, but I make no promises.

July 19 2008 | General | No Comments »

Support Services

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:3-11

As Christians, we have a major role in working with missionaries: We are in the role of Support Services.

Support Services is the term generally used to describe the group in a company that keep things running in the background, and does not usually receive the recognition that the folks on the front line receive. In our role, we are responsible for the two main components of missions work: Prayer and Tithes.

As Christians, we should always pray for our missionaries. These folks have answered the call to go into unfamiliar environments and surrender the comforts that we enjoy. They do this to spread the Truth to people who have not heard it. Many times, they fight the fight of public relations. I recently spoke to a friend who stated that the people he works with have been taught all of their lives that the Unites States is a Christian nation. When the people in his country see the movies and television shows coming out of the Hollywood, part of a Christian nation, they say that they do not want to be part of this family. The only view they know of Christianity is what we call entertainment, which is far from Christianity. Sure, there are a few movies that have been released that do promote a Christian message, but the bulk of the mainstream movies do not. How can we blame them for not wanting to be part of this split-personality culture? We need to pray that our missionaries can reach these people with the Truth.

Additionally, we have an obligation to fund the efforts of our missionaries.  Without our financial help, our missions teams cannot do the work that they need to do.  I urge everyone to seek God’s will in how much they should give, beyond their tithe, to fund missions work.

April 17 2008 | General | No Comments »

Contentment

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.” – Philippians 4:11

Princeton University’s WordNet defines contentment as “happiness with one’s situation in life”.

What does it take to be content, or happy, with our situation in life? Some think that it is the right house, in the right neighborhood. Some think it is the right car. Some, the right job. Others, the right spouse. Are these thoughts on the right track? For most people, the more we have the more we want. This is not contentment.

Paul said that he could be content wherever, whenever, however. This is a man that was in imprisoned, beaten, persecuted, and had a physical “thorn in the flesh” that we do not understand. Yet through all of this, Paul was content. What made him content? Paul saw that material, financial, environmental, and physical factors did not create contentment. Instead, he found happiness with his relationship with Jesus. In that relationship, we can all be content.

Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21″For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He knew that happiness was in him. He knew that he was content, and excited, about living in his situation and serving his Savior. He knew that better things awaited him after death, yet he continued in perseverance to serve faithfully where he was placed, with his situation in life. I admire, and envy, Paul. I do not long to suffer as he did, yet I wish that I could be content in all situations.

The daily grind can really be a grind. Many times, I let the things of this world – work, finances, relationships, stress – take my focus from the role I have as a Christian: To serve faithfully where I am, with the gifts that I have been given, for the Glory of God. Too often, I get caught up in how things impact me, not in how I can impact the world for His Glory. I fail to see that I can be content in service without recognition.

Too often, we fail to heed Paul’s advice in Philippians 2:4. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If we concentrated more on a servant’s outlook and less on a master’s outlook, I believe that we would find more contentment in our daily lives. If we put the need for evangelism before our need for comfort, how many lost people would be left?

Think about it.

April 14 2008 | General | No Comments »

Obedience, Part II

I received this email from a friend several years ago. This sort of sums up my post yesterday about obedience being a journey, not a destination.  I do not know the original author, so cannot assign the due credit.

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t moved.”

Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. Satan said, “Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.”

That’s what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. “Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”

The Lord responded compassionately, “My son, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.

And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms and back are strong and muscled, your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my son, will move the rock.”

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just a simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves mountains.

When everything seems to go wrong … just P.U.S.H.

When the job gets you down . just P.U.S.H.

When people don’t react the way you think they should… just P.U.S.H.

When your money is gone and the bills are due … just P.U.S.H.

When people just don’t understand you …just P.U.S.H.

P = Pray

U = Until

S = Something

H = Happens

March 06 2008 | General | No Comments »

Obedience

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.‘” I Samuel 15:2-3

“Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.” I Samuel 15:7-9

Saul was blatantly disobedient to God. Why did he do this? Was it vanity? Did he think that his need for “stuff” was more important than God’s need for obedience? We do not really know why he did this.

When confronted with his disobedience, Saul starts scrambling. He reminds me of the child who was being chastised for picking his mother’s favorite roses. After the damage is discovered, the child suddenly decides that he picked the roses to give to his mother.

Like Saul, we all are disobedient at times. Whether it is disobedience to a parent, to society, our employer, or God, we all experience some sort of rebellious attitude during our life. Disobedience always comes with a price. When we are disobedient to our employer, it my cost us our job. When we are disobedient with society, it may cost us our freedom. When we are disobedient with God, it may cost us everything. Saul lost his leadership position; Jonah spent three days in the belly of a great fish; Moses was not allowed into the Promised Land. What will you lose?

Dr. Bill Bright, founder of the Campus Crusade for Christ International, wrote once that “there is no place in Christian work for disobedient Christians.” This struck a chord with me one day as I was preparing for a mission trip. It made me realize that to be truly devoted to Christ, I have to live a life of obedience. This is not easy in today’s fast-paced, stress-filled world. In the heat of stress, it can be easy to lose your civil tongue, to lash out verbally in anger, and to fall victim to old habits. God does not call for us to be successful, just obedient. This does not mean that it is okay to slip into old habits. When we fail, we need to pray for forgiveness from the Lord, and ask for forgiveness from the people we have harmed.

Remember, obedience is not a destination, it is a journey.

March 05 2008 | General | No Comments »

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