Turning the Negative to the Positve  

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Have you ever noticed in yourself or others that when a rough day comes and something positive comes in to it, it radically changes the outlook on your day? If you haven't experienced it you are missing out. I have had such an experience and it really enhanced my day. I would presume if you do or did, it would enhance your day, too.

When your day is filled with bad news, bad luck, stress or negativism, to lift your head up to see the outcome of the future is super challenging. However, just one positive thing can make all the difference. Sometimes, for me, it is coming home to a beautiful wife and kids, receiving their "welcome" is a real mood lifter.

Speaking of things that lift the mood, here is this week's quote...
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. ~ William Arthur Ward
To be stuck looking at all the negative things in life will leave you very frustrated. It will seem as nothing is going right, when in fact there are many things to leave you with a smile.

Focus on the negative, and that will be what you're seeing. Look for the silver lining portions of your day that may pop up suddenly and a whole new "day" may come out of it!

Are you focused on your burdens or your blessings? Being thankful, or showing gratitude for your blessings may make the day seem like a much better day! Try it sometime!

Now it's your turn...How does gratitude transform your days?

The Road Less Traveled  

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Robert Frost is an interesting American poet. The poem, The Road Not Taken, reminds me of much of my life. I am sure we all have instances similar to this in our lives, and I am not unique to having to decide on things based on a choice I make. Choices are always in front of us and the one(s) we didn't choose is always behind us. The one(s) behind us are less traveled by us. We may go back some day, but probably not.

In the Sermon on the Mount, specifically Matthew 7:13-14, we read of Jesus pointing out to them to take the narrow way. This is quickly followed up by showing them why they need to take it. The narrow has less choices on it, maybe that is one reason it is narrow. Another possibility, is that you would be expected to do more things that are disciplined...have a good attitude, be salt, be light, not murder, be patient, do not worry, do not look at a woman lustfully, do not judge, etc. The previous list was all taken from earlier segments of the Sermon on the Mount.

As you seek to take the "road less traveled" here are some applications to choose from to use this week...
  • Prioritize ~ Sometimes my life can be chaotic. That chaos is usually because of my lack of prioritizing. I may bounce around to do a small thing here, then a small thing there, which adds up to time. I think part of the "narrow road" concept is to make sure that we prioritize where our "following Jesus" is going to be. Prioritizing means one is more disciplined. This could mean with your daily tasks to fit God in or it could mean with bigger tasks. Make sure that He is above all!

  • Take a Break ~ When you go on a journey, you will want to take time to have a break and stretch your legs. Sometimes when you do that you may look over your journey, see how much further you have, think about the distance covered thus far, etc. As you take a break in life to stretch and relax, may you examine your life to see where you've come from, what you're going to do in the future. Have you made mistakes in the past you are not learning from? are you willing to learn from them, how can you be a better person in the future, as you seek to be on the narrow path?

  • Understand "Destruction" ~ When the Twin Towers came down on 9/11 ten years ago, there was destruction. It was horrific to see those buildings fall and know thousands were impacted. The wide road leads to destruction. It will tear you down and cause issues as you seek to continue down that path. Enter the narrow gate!

  • Consider the "Pay Off" ~ It may be rough to go against the grain while here on earth, but think about the eternal rewards. They are practically indescribable. Having to "toe the line" for a while, here on earth, is much better than seeing the "wrecking ball" of destruction in the end! Enter and stay on the narrow road!
Which road will you take today, tomorrow, and the next day. Will you remain on the "road less traveled" or will you jump over to the easier road? Choose today the life-supplying path!

Maturity: How Does One Measure It?  

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In my lifetime I have been around a lot of people, as I have moved around quite a bit. I have seen lots of different personalities both young and old. They all have their own level of maturity. Some that are old have their times of acting like a teenager and those that are young act like an older person. Depending on the context this can be good or bad. For the older person to have the vitality of a younger person is good; the younger person to have the rigidness of an older person is bad. However, there is the other side of the coin, in that an older person to throw a fit like a teen would do, is bad. For a younger person to have patience and a level-headed demeanor is good.

What is the most scary is when you have an older person that believes they are mature just because they are older. When they expect, or should I say, demand to be respected because of their age, but their demeanor is very immature.

I have seen this in a couple of areas. One is in the church. The other is in sports. I will comment after you read this week's quote...
Maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated. ~ Unknown
The church has become, in many respects, a "me church" attitude. Whatever the individual wants or deems pertinent should be done. Sometimes when something is done that is not what the person deems important, they start to complain, gossip, or just leave. Much like a child on a playground who didn't get their way with the game that was being played. Examples of this could be the direction a church is taking, leadership, worship issues, teaching styles, or decor issues.

In sports, I've had experiences as a fan, player and as an official. I have seen people who can coach and officiate so much better than the coach or official, or so they think. One of the main issues is with people who have "played" the game so long that they "must" know all the rules. But they have never really opened a rule book and read it front to back. Did you know there is not a rule in baseball/softball that "tie goes to the runner?" However, everyone likes to throw that out there - I still don't know where that came from - maybe the playground?

I remember having to stop a little league baseball game, in a rural town, just to go to my car and retrieve the rule book to show a coach he was in error. It wasn't my choice, I asked him because he didn't believe me on the field. Of course, he was probably twice as old as I was, at that time, as I had just graduated from high school the previous May. Though he was older, he didn't show the patience and maturity to let the game go, instead he wanted to try to prove he was correct. Whether I am a fan, player or official, I have seen people get upset over coach's decisions, player's inability to perform, and an official's "blown" call.

Within the quote are two important phrases to keep in mind. One, experiences will help people mature. Two, learning from those experiences is key. You take the learning out and the experience means nothing. You learn little from the experience. The gain is little. Learn much - the gain is much.

I am challenged in many areas with this quote. Probably one of the greatest challenges for me is handling conflict with my wife. I know a lot, but if I don't apply the things I know, I haven't learned much. So, as I become grayer through the years, if I lack learning, my maturity will just be skin deep.

Now it's your turn. How have you seen this quote played out in yourself? Others?

"Drive By" Preaching - How'd you react?  

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What do you think of this form of "evangelism?"

To be honest, I could not watch much more than about 4 minutes, so I don't know what happens in the latter part.

After you watch - no matter how many minutes you watch - I invite you to leave your comments... 


How the World Treats You  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

One of my areas where I lack mercy is when people feel they "deserve" a certain type of treatment or they are "owed" sort of treatment. I think that people are going to be treated the way they "advertise" themselves. Whether it is conduct, attitude, the way they dress, the friends they choose, etc. With all those in mind, the outsider should not judge a book by its cover. However, the cover helps explain what is in the book.

When we expect certain treatment "just because" then we are selling ourselves short of any responsibility on our own for how we are treated. That brings us to this week's quote...
Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian. ~ Dennis Wholey

Why should those around you treat you a certain way? What is it that you "deserve" to be treated a certain way? Common decency says kindness should be our first response. But when a person starts to not appreciate the kindness then what?

I deal frequently with benevolent help, in my line of work. There are times that resources are offered and that is not good enough. One person said they didn't think they should have to "beg" for help. I replied, "You're not begging, I'm offering." Overall, he was getting defensive and didn't appreciate the kindness.

He was expecting a certain type of treatment, something beyond kindness. I wasn't giving him what he wanted.

Now it's your turn...What do you think of this week's quote?

9/11: Where Would We Be...If...  

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It hardly seems possible that it has been ten years ago since the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. That day was filled with so much emotion that I think every teen to adult remembers that day. This was probably the most horrific situation that has happened in my lifetime. However, what would America look like if we had not experienced “9/11”?

Think about the opinion of George W. Bush. I am sure there would have been many who still poked fun at his lack of oratory skills.

Think about how our airports would be different. They must have thought they were being lackadaisical in their failure to keep the airways safe. Would they still be checking people and bags the way they did prior to that day or would things have changed by now?

Think about our freedom. Were we beginning to take it for granted as it had been years since anything had happened. (I’m thinking Pearl Harbor was close to 9/11 - unknown attack, lots of people killed). Was this a wake-up call to realize “mighty” America is still very vulnerable?

Think about our patriotism? Following the attacks lots and lots of people started flying flags and appreciating their freedom. Songs like “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood had a new-found pride. The National Anthem was appreciated more.

Think about how we view our police and fire departments. After all of this we started to appreciate those who serve in those capacities much more than we did prior.

Where would we be if 9/11 wouldn’t have happened? If that tragedy didn’t happen, how would the effect of events like Hurricane Katrina change? We can only speculate as so much that has happened in the last 10 years!

Now it's your turn, what would you add to the list of "Where would we be's"...?

9/11: One Nation Under God  

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"What in the world is happening?" May not have been what I was exactly thinking, but it was going through my mind on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. As President George W. Bush had not been in office too long, I had not been in full-time ministry too long when this major catastrophe happened. For me, it had just been a few months since I started ministry and this event rocked me personally and professionally. I was not even prepared to handle the congregation in this situation. It was definitely a day I will never forget.

It was a day that probably anyone from 10 years of age on up (on that day) will remember. It impacted our nation, communities, schools, and families so much that it was searing on our emotional canvases.

As we are a nation founded on biblical principles, resolving to remain "one nation under God" is a must for Christians. They must resolve to keep their faith a priority when it comes to decisions as citizens in this country (aka voting). As we reflected on 9/11 on Sunday, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...
  • Pray ~ Pray for our country - its leaders, its protection, its service departments. Pray for our community. Pray for the victims' families. Pray for our enemies. There is seemingly so many things to be praying for, regarding this event. What would you add?
  • Stand Up ~ When you feel strongly for something that affects your freedom, stand strong for it. Whether you're right or wrong; win or lose, to stand up for what you believe in has a lot of respect within the action.
  • Understand Our Vulnerabilities ~ As a country, we felt our vulnerabilities attacked. Probably no one thought that someone would plan such a horrific act - taking planes and using them as missiles. If there would have been any suspicion, I would bet that our defenses would have been incredibly high. However, our defenses were low and our country attacked causing 3000+ killed on that day. Additionally, we must keep in mind our vulnerability when it comes to our soul. Satan is always trying to attack our weak areas. What are your weak areas? Acknowledge them, so you know how to protect them.
  • Strength Does Not Mean Strong ~ As the Psalmist writes in Psalm 33:16 regarding a king not being safe no matter the size of his army, I am reminded that our country may be one of the best armed military countries in the world, we are still not strong. A country that is committing itself to God is going to be strong. God makes the country strong and can bring down any size of army/country in an instant! May we keep our country one that relies on God to help keep up its strength.
Our country is one that millions of people in the world wish they could live in. We are blessed to have such a country. May our nation remain fixed on its biblical principles of which it was founded. With these principles in tact, let us continue to be "one nation under God!"

Now it's you're turn...What are your thoughts after reading the post?...

Dropping the "F-Bomb"  

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Now that I have your attention, I bet you’re wondering what this article could be about?

You may be saying to yourself, “Surely it is not what I think it is.” And, you’re correct. The point of the phrase in the title is to communicate about a word without having to repeat it. For some, words are repeatable in some places where they are not permitted in others. That is a bit of where we are going.

On more than one occasion I have been challenged with being able to talk to people about where they stand in their Christian walk. Each of us are at a different place, different pace, and different resting points.

I think we all have a tendency to be nervous about talking about our FAITH (that is the “f” word I am alluding to). We may be fearful because we know that when the word “faith” is mentioned, the whole room may go figuratively silent. Making us feel very awkward in the middle of the situation.

“How do I get out of this?” may be what we’re saying to ourselves as we just dropped the “F-bomb” to our friends. Or maybe it is to people we just met and we feel those awkward looks coming at us, piercing into us.

Yes, I’ve been there.

I think that we want so desperately to be the “good Christian” and share our faith that by the time we say it, it may come across as forced. One reason it has become a “bomb” is because of our lack of familiarity in telling people. Walk up to a gathering where something relates to a life situation you’ve been involved in and you can go on for several minutes talking about it. However, because of the awkwardness or anxiousness of not wanting to offend, we cower at the opportunity to talk about our Savior, faith, or our church. May we be challenged to talk about our faith more, so that it doesn’t become awkward to tell someone else about it.

Now it's your turn? What do you think?

Progressive Minded  

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When I was a young child to teen and I would go visit my extended family (most lived in the same town at the time) I didn't want to spend much time with my mom's side of the family. This was basically because there were no cousins near my age and the only thing that seemed to happen at my maternal grandmother's house (or later on, my maternal aunt's house) would be visiting. It was boring to me. Nothing to do (except get into trouble with my brother). I would ask and ask and ask if I could go over to my cousin's house, on my dad's side. I loved it there. So much to do! He always seemed to have the coolest toys - including a pinball machine and a go cart!

I could not simply sit around. I wanted to be moving and going in the direction of my cousin. That was where happiness was for me.

In life, things should be the same way. To sit around means we are not going anywhere. To be moving toward a goal means we are heading into something usually better. That brings us to this week's quote...
Happiness and success are to be found in forward motion. ~ Unknown
As I minister in a church, I aim to get people going. I think that having a "happy" faith-life, you need to be moving also. If we are not going anywhere, we are simply stagnate. To be progressive sometimes will have a bad rapport with people. Thinking one is "liberal" in their theological mindset. On the contrary, one can be the most conservative, but yet still be moving forward - it may simply be a bit slower than others.

Whether you are a business person or a patron, moving forward has its definite successes. May you find them in your daily tasks, as well as, your epic tasks! 

Now it's you're turn!

What do you think? Can there be happiness and success found when you're moving forward? Feel free to leave a comment...  

The Universal, Portable Rule  

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Do to others as you were the others - Unknown

The "golden rule" as Matthew 7:12 has become better known as is a lot more challenging than we often think of it as being. It is probably one of the verses that every child learns when they go to Sunday School or even Vacation/Holiday Bible School. Kids are instructed and encouraged to play fair with one another, including sharing and treating each other with respect. It can be challenging for them to apply the verse because of their lack of maturity. So that is an excuse for a youth...what's an adult's excuse?

When adults are reading this rule, do we think to apply it or brush it off? Have you ever thrown out the excuse of "That's the way I was treated, so evidently I can treat them the same way"? Justifying yourself being on the back end of the verse, not the front end? I have been guilty of this...and when you look back on it, it is immaturity shining forth.

As we reflect on the verse for a moment, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • Analyze ~ Look over your life, probably the immediate life - past week or two - and see what kind of treatment have you been demonstrating? Have you been applying this rule? Have you been leaving it behind, so as to excuse yourself from obeying it? Why have you been guilty of doing such a thing? Maybe it is because you lost track of its universal application. Maybe it is because you just didn't want to obey it? There are probably other reasons you can come up with. However, we must analyze to realize where we are in the following of this rule.
  • Take It With You~ When you grow up and move out of the house it is usually known that you do not have to live by your parents rules anymore. You are now an adult. However, when it comes to the "golden rule" you are never too old to have this apply to you. Also, you never are too far away that you are exempt from this rule. It is something that you must live by wherever you go and whoever you're with.
  • Utilize It ~ Do you feel the need to complain about someone's effort in their profession? Do you feel the need to "express yourself" by putting a negative comment about someone on Facebook or some other social media medium? Do you feel the need to pick on (physically) another person? Do you feel the need to take out your aggression toward someone or a situation with violence? The big questions are...What do they accomplish?...&...Do they really make things better - even if you may feel better afterward? Think about this sentence I recently read in a book..."Think about what others ought to be like, then start being that yourself." If you start out a sentence something like "I probably shouldn't be telling you this," you'd better stop, because you shouldn't. We must think to ourselves how one must feel if the situations were reversed. Use the rule!
  • Apply It Everywhere ~ "All men are created equal" and "Love your neighbor as yourself" are two important points to think about when we are thinking about who we should apply it toward...everyone and everywhere!
The "golden rule" is more than golden...platinum? However, it is universal, in that it applies to all mankind. And it is portable, in that you take it wherever you go.

May we take advantage of what impact the "universal, portable rule" plays on our life and start living it out! Share/Bookmark

What Do You See in the World?  

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I am probably typical when it comes to wanting to look at myself in the mirror. Those flaws will be seen more so than the good areas. We all probably would like to lose something here or there, have something changed, etc.

Though we look at the mirrors in our bathrooms and bedrooms with certain judgments about ourselves. How does the world look at you? That brings us to this week's quote...
The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful, the world will prove loving and friendly and helpful to you. The world is what you are. ~ Thomas Dreier
I read in a parenting book some advice about not being too upset when your child wants to do something radical with their hair or even wear something unconventional. Hair - whether colored or cut off - will grow back. Clothes are apparel on the outside, they can be changed - even if it is over time.

One's social circle will greatly influence how you are formed. It will also be your "judge" as you try new things out. Have a crazy haircut and the schoolyard will determine if it stays that style. Unfortunately, the schoolyard may have a greater influence over parental advice.

How are you being seen by the world? You may not even realize what peoples' views are of you, based on the views not being told to you. However, it probably won't take that long for you to realize if you are loving, friendly, helpful, and the list could go on. These are determined by how much you are reflecting them in your own life.

Make sure you do all you can to have a positive reflection!