I discovered a power bar that I really like, for the simple reason that I can read & understand the ingredients. There are no complicated words, chemical compounds, multi-syllable mysteries nor contrived nutritional concotions. These power bars are really straightforward: egg whites, almonds, dates and peanut butter (or something to that affect). It’s nice to recognize the ingredients on a package instead of trying to decipher words & find the commas ,)
In the same way, we would be wise to consider what’s inside of each of us: what we think about and allow into our hearts affects what we do & say. When we ruminate on being selfish, allowing judgment & unforgiveness to reside in our thoughts / heart, when we let bitterness & resentment to run amuck in our emotions, let’s be abundantly clear that such hurtful ingredients will taint our external behaviors / interactions. Maybe this is why it’s so important that we do what Paul says in Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Talk is cheap & words are a dime a dozen. I was thinking of this in relation to various sermons I’ve preached & blogs I’ve written. It’s not as difficult to speak as it is to live out the words we speak. We all have moments when we feel strong & full of faith. We also have moments when we feel frail, fearful & less than full of faith. It’s in these less than powerful moments when our substance gets tested & we come face to face with our humanity. Maybe this is one of the reasons I so deeply love the words of John the Baptist, “Jesus must increase & I must decrease”.
I want Jesus to live big through me & I want the Holy Spirit to empower not only my words but more importantly my actions, attitudes & behaviors. Let’s be sure to allow the Holy Spirit to give us strength, courage & love for Jesus to live big throughout each day!
There was a chick in the Bible who I really admire & her name is Abigail. I like her because she stood as a beacon of functional thinking contrary to lots of dysfunction swirling around her. Nabal, her husband, was a foolish man & was treating David with dishonor & dysfunction. David, for his part, was really amped up about how Nabal was treating him, so he decided to get revenge on Nabal. Everyone around Abigail had dysfunctional thinking that was creating dysfunctional behavior that could ultimately lead to destructive outcomes.
But Abigail saves the day with her functional thinking and behavior: She interrupts David’s plans & dissuades his anger. She then returns to Nabal and waits until he gets un-drunk to honestly tell him what she’d done. The outcome from all of these events is that Nabal died & Abigail married David, an upgrade from her former foolish husband.
Let’s be mindful that we don’t let dysfunctional thinking seep into our thoughts. Let’s take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ! If we’ve made these bad choices (dysfunctional thinking & behavior), then let’s repent and ask the Holy Spirit to help us in our thoughts & actions to be more healthy & constructive!
Honest truth, I’ll never be Martha Stewart, no matter how hard I try or how much I pretend (nor do I want to be Martha, but that’s for another blog). But here’s something to think about: sometimes pretending can be a helpful way to start making changes that we want. For example, if I wanted to be more patient, it would help me to think about how that might look in my life. “Sarah, if you pretended that you were more patient with Benji (my 11year old son), you would smile rather than snap when he blurts out something without thinking.” Then I can choose to start acting on that “pretend scenario” to make it more real & concrete.
Or if I wanted to be more physically fit, it would look like I exercised with weekly regularity (rather than yearly) & my eating choices would have fewer “fake” foods. So yesterday, I went jogging outside for the first time in forever.
Consider that our ability to pretend can be a God-given gift to help us along the path of personal progress 🙂
“YOU SHOULDN’T DO THAT!!!!” When we were growing up, you probably heard that a few times, as did I. Now that I’m an adult, I still hear those words in my mind sometimes. “You shouldn’t be driving so fast! You shouldn’t be sarcastic, you shouldn’t be so casual, you shouldn’t . . . . . ”
In religion, there’s lots of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” – we wishfully think that the right behavior will fix everything. From my perspective, this kind of thinking is like putting peacock feathers on a cow: accessorizing the external in an attempt to deny or compensate for the internal.
More than we realize our beliefs shape our behavior, so perhaps we would be better to consider what we believe as the first step. Yucky beliefs and thinking always result in yucky words and actions 🙂
Here’s a quickie thought about our relationships – be gentle. I’m reminded to be gentle on many occasions – most frequently when someone says something to me that is sharp or insensitive. When this happens, I find that it’s most helpful to give others the benefit of the doubt & not automatically assume that they’re trying to hurt me or have malicious intents. I honestly think that if others understood some of our sensitivities, they probably wouldn’t say some of the things that we find to be hurtful. So with this in mind, I want to be a gentle person & tread lightly. I figure that if I’ll be gentle, others won’t find the need to forgive me as frequently and perhaps this is a practical way to express Jesus’ love.
I’m also reminded that Jesus wants me to be gentle with myself – to intentionally lose the lists of failures, shame & shortcomings, since these items have already received His forgiveness. I can also be gentle with myself by being less impatient with my maturation.
We can give life in lots of different ways. Here are some thoughts & practical ideas to integrate into our daily living.
First, in a few weeks, I get to travel to India with @savingmoses. I have it in my heart to create a facility where we can provide night care to the infants & toddlers of prostitutes of the sex workers. Presently, infants & toddlers of the these workers many times are chained to the same bed during the time when their mother is working. My goal is help these infants & toddlers develop a world view that doesn’t so overtly include prostitution as a means of earning a living. I believe this is a very SIGNIFICANT way to give life to someone at the beginning of their life. Of course I will be blogging about our trip everyday & keeping you posted on our progress on facebook, twitter, etc.
Second, we can give life to the people in our lives by our words. Positive, uplifting, encouraging, vision casting words are absolutely vital not only in our lives, but also in the lives of the people around us. The closer the relationship, the more opportunity that we can speak life into the person we love. When you notice positive things about a person, tell them!! When someone is having a rough day, remember something good about them & tell them!! If a person tends to have a negative outlook, counter-act the negativity with some constructive optimism. I seriously appreciate that we need to NOT live in denial, but on the way to positive results in our lives, we need positive inputs. Maybe its even a good day to post a nice & sincere comment about someone on their FB wall 🙂
A final idea about how to give life is with our time and activity. If we’re not careful, we can easily get caught in the selfish trap & fritter away our time & energy on selfish & even meaningless activities. Let’s look for opportunities to improve someone else’s life by volunteering, getting involved in a local charity, church or relief agency.
Let’s give life, since we are made in the image of the original Life Giver 🙂