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Thursday, September 21, 2017

it IS your fault!

There are 2 types of people in this world, those who take responsibility for their lives, and those who do not.

Have you noticed that we live in a culture of blame? There is the overweight woman suing McDonald’s for making her fat. Did the Golden Arches reach out, grab her, and force food down her throat?  There is the guy that throws his money away at the casino. Did the blackjack dealer drive him to the bright lights; take the money out of his wallet and place bet after bet? In both cases, shift went from the individual to some outside external force.

I read a book once with the title, “Take control of what’s controlling you.” Aptly fit for our society today. Dr. Henry Cloud wrote a fascinating book that inspired this post (It’s Not my Fault) that I benefited from measurably. In it, he says you need to, Take responsibility for your life, then put your arms around reality and take ownership of it …”





(B.O.B.) The beginning of blame
Genesis records the origins of much of what you and I experience today. Life, death, murder, marriage, etc. In Genesis chapter 3, we discover that right after Adam and Eve disobey God and sin, they start the blame game. Adam points to his wife, his wife then points to the serpent. Blame, Shame and Guilt. All there in the garden. For our purposes however, we will focus on blame shifting. We just love to shift blame and responsibility on to others. We love pointing to external factors that will get us off the hook. One interesting element about blaming outside sources is that they may be true AND we may even have good reasons to blame -but it does not solve any of our problems.

I will unabashedly state that if you are the type of person that consistently shifts blame on externals --you have serious problems. I know it and your friends / family know it too. I can’t say for certain that you know it, but the sooner you understand this hang-nail about yourself the better off you will be. See, those in life that are successful, those in life that have risen above their circumstances have figured out some important life lessons, one is that they take responsibility for their own lives. 

Is it time for you to look inward, instead of outward?
Choose to man-up and rise above the external forces and when you do, you choose to be a victor instead of a victim.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The BEST poem in the WORLD!!!

I was shocked, confused, bewildered 
As I entered Heaven's door, 
Not by the beauty of it all, 
Nor the lights or its decor. 

But it was the folks in Heaven 
Who made me sputter and gasp-- 
The thieves, the liars, the sinners, 
The alcoholics and the trash. 

There stood the kid from seventh grade 
Who swiped my lunch money twice. 
Next to him was my old neighbor 
Who never said anything nice. 

Herb, who I always thought 
Was rotting away in hell, 
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine, 
Looking incredibly well. 

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal? 
I would love to hear Your take. 
How'd all these sinners get up here? 
God must've made a mistake. 

'And why's everyone so quiet, 
So somber - give me a clue.' 
'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock. 
No one thought they'd be seeing you.' 

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Black Feather

Ever hear of Occam's Razor?
Its basic tenant is, "the simplest explanation is usually the right one."
Many use Occam's Razor as a means to slice through a problem / situation in order to eliminate unnecessary steps.

Today, I would like to apply Occam's Razor to conflict. Jesus said, "If you have an issue with someone, the best way to handle the difficulty is to simply go to them." Face to face. Toe to toe. Heart to heart. It's a rather direct approach.
It's a rather gutsy one too.  The genius is found in its simplicity.

Just think for a moment just how many other ways you and I handle conflict:
-The Ostrich approach (ignore it).
-The Bursting a blood vessel approach (do you really need an explanation?).
-The Big Daddy approach (cover it up).

Possibly the most dangerous approach is the "Black Feather" approach.
Below, I will share a short story that illustrates this powerfully.

In a small German village, a woman differed with her minister and became so angry that she began spreading ugly rumors about him around town. As fate would have it, she eventually became ill and called on the minister to pray for her. He came gladly, and she asked his forgiveness of her gossiping. "I will grant you forgiveness," the minister said, "but there's something you must do."

"I'll do anything," the woman said.

"As soon as you get well, go pluck the feathers from a black chicken and put them into a basket and bring them to me."  When the woman got well, she did what the minister asked her to do and presented the basket of feathers to the minister.

"You did well," the minister said. "Now take this basket of feathers and scatter them in the corners of the marketplace and from the towers of the church. Scatter them throughout the town. Then return to me."

So the woman did.


She walked from one end of town to the other, scattering the feathers. Then she returned to her pastor. "I have done as you asked," she said.
"Very well. Now take your basket and collect all the feathers. Make sure not one is missing."
"But that is not possible!" the woman said with a choking cry.  "The wind has carried many of them away.

"So it is with your words," the minister said. "While I have gladly forgiven you, do not forget that you can never undo the damage your untrue words have done."



Any
reasonable person will see that out of all the alternative options, the direct approach is certainly the best.  It is also the toughest --let's be honest, nobody is running to the front of the line when it comes to conflict resolution. One of my favorite quotes is Thomas Watson's, "What fools are they who, for a drop of pleasure, drink a sea of wrath." This is precisely what happens when you and I choose to let things fester within our hearts by not going directly to the source of our conflict. In a real way, it is like we gladfully go to the shelf, pour ourselves a glass of destruction and drink it straight down. Your life will be better off if you put that glass down and get direct when handling conflict.  When you do, you will switch that old glass of wrath for a fresh goblet of peace. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Welcome to Heaven

I once heard a story about the difference between Heaven and Hell.

A man dies; he’s met in a kind of divine foyer by an angel and taken to a huge room with a long table, covered with plates and bowls heaped with delicious food. There are people sitting all along both sides of the table, but they look angry, frustrated — and famished. Suddenly the man notices that none of the people have elbow joints. They’re all desperately trying to feed themselves, and they can’t reach their mouths. The angel says, “This is Hell.”




Then the man is whisked by the angel to another room that looks exactly the same –long table heaped with food; people down both sides, no elbow joints...but these people look happy and well-nourished.
This is Heaven,” the angel says.


Then the man looks closer,
and sees that all the people are feeding each other across the table.

The point? Much of life is about perspective. 
It has been said that life is not about the cards that you are dealt; rather it is how you play the cards that you have been dealt.  God has placed you here on earth for a reason.  And if you are reading this post, then you can assume that you still have one.

-May you find it.
-----May you thrive.
-May you live. 

May you welcome people to heaven on earth... 

I John 3: 16-17.  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him. 
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Good Morning, fellow Lepers.

Good morning, fellow Lepers
Joseph Damien was a nineteenth-century missionary who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii.

Those suffering grew to love him and revered the sacrificial life he lived out before them. 

One morning before Damien was to lead daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more hot water on the same spot. Again, there was no feeling whatsoever. Damien immediately knew what had happened. 

As he walked to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with, 'My fellow believers,' but this morning he began with... 'My fellow lepers.' 
                                                                               (Story told by Ravi Zacharias)

Damien could fully relate to the lepers because he became a leper. He knew personally the struggles that they faced. He could actually feel their pain. Let's think about Jesus for a moment. He was made like us and therefore understands the hurts we experience.  According to the book of Hebrews, we learn, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." 


I think I can speak for everyone in regards to our need for a Savior that identifies with our human struggles. Isn't it comforting to know that the frustrations we carry, the sorrows compounded in our hearts and even our failures can be understood by the God-Man, Jesus Christ?