Reaping and Sowing

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:1-10 ESV) British prime minister Herbert Asquith once spent a weekend at the Waddesdon estate of the 19th-century Rothschild family. One day, as Asquith was being waited on at teatime by the butler, the following conversation ensued: “Tea, coffee, or a peach from off the wall, sir?” “Tea, please,” answered Asquith. “China, India, or Ceylon, sir?” asked the butler. “China, please.” “Lemon, milk, or cream, sir?” “Milk, please,” replied Asquith. “Jersey, Hereford, or Shorthorn, sir?” asked the butler. One of the phrases I have often used in teaching responsible choices is that you get what you get because you went where you went. The words of Eleanor Roosevelt ring true: “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”  The Bible clearly teaches that we reap what we sow. Someone has written the “chapters of a healthy life making good choices: Chapter 1: I walk down a street and there’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. It takes forever to get out. It’s my fault. Chapter 2: I walk down the same street. I fall in the hole again. It still takes a long time to get out. It’s not my fault. Chapter 3: I walk down the same street. I fall in the hole again. It’s becoming a habit. It is my fault. I get out immediately. Chapter 4: I walk down the same street and see the deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it. Chapter 5: I walk down a different street. Who are you living for?  What is driving the choices in your life?  Turn toward Him the direction and power to make good choices today. Perhaps its time to walk down another street! Today is the eve of walking down another...

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The Owies of Life (Part 2)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 ESV) Listed below are seven ideas that really work to help you think more positive. Life is difficult, but there are things you can do to lighten your load. See if some of these don’t help. Teach Yourself A Lesson. In counseling this technique is called reframing. You take a bad experience and try to define what it is that you can learn from this experience that will make your life better. It is a way of turning pain to gain. Interrupt Your Negative Thoughts. Research shows that if you continue to think negatively, you will feel more negative. Interrupting those thoughts and replacing them with positive memories can be extremely helpful in creating more positive energy. Set Realistic Goals. Positive thinkers have learned how to meet their objectives. They set standards that are neither too high nor too low. They feel a sense of accomplishments when they complete tasks on their daily “to do” list. Realistic goals must be specific and they must be achievable./li> Be Good To Yourself. You need to define those things that make you feel good and as often as you can incorporate them into your life. We know that positive reinforcement works. You need to reinforce yourself with the things that you value and enjoy. Look For The Silver Lining. While it is true that negative things do happen and that there are times, when we seem to be overwhelmed by them, it is important that positive things do, in fact happen. Take time each day to write down or think about positive things that occurred in your day. It could be as simple as looking at a beautiful cloud, or hearing a song that you really enjoy. Be Glad It’s Not Worse. This technique simply put says, while my situation may be bad, it indeed could be worse. An example would be that you break your wrist, but that’s better than being paralyzed for the rest of your life from the waist down. While sometimes our situation is as bad as it gets, usually, in most of our situations, we can find things that are worse. Fake It, Charlie. Chaplin once said, “Smile though your heart is breaking.” While it is important to get in touch with our feelings, being able to tell a joke, put a smile on our face, or do something that is absurdly pleasurable can help the discomfort of our lives go...

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The Owies of Life (Part 1)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for he testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and ityou know that t will be given him. (James 1:2-5 ESV). The unpleasant and difficult experiences of life are what I often call “owies.”;  They always hurt, but they don’t need to permanently affect us.  The key to dealing with troubles is in seeing each as an opportunity for increased joy.  There are five practical things that help in achieving this. First, understand that no experience comes labeled, you are the labeler. The power to choose is yours! As William Shakespeare said, “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.”; You and only you are the labeler of your experiences. Do you complain that roses have thorns or do you rejoice that thorns have roses? You have the ability to choose your reactions. Sometimes these decisions to label are not done consciously and your past habits will put on a negative label. Become aware of that and change it immediately. Realizing your ability to label is an awesome power and a great step towards success. Second, avoid blaming yourself for making mistakes. The road to success is always under construction. Every morning we awake to a day we have never seen or experienced. Mistakes will be made and obstacles will appear. You have no control over these events but you do control your reaction to them. It is important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes. We need to learn from our errors and move on. Sometimes we hurt in order that we may learn. Do you see a stumbling block or a stepping stone? You decide. Third, understand that like energies attract. Like attracts like. Positive thoughts produce positive results. If you surround yourself in positive emotions, energies, thoughts, and people then positive events will be the end result. Unfortunately, the same is true if you surround yourself in negative energies. Do you know someone that is always negative and melancholy? Notice that bad luck seems to continuously follow them. They may say that a rain cloud is right above his or her head. Well, they’re right. And as soon as they realize that it is nearly always themselves who create that rain cloud they can chose to make it disappear. What you plant, so shall you harvest. If you plant rose seeds you get roses right? Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. This is the law of the harvest. Fourth, determine what you want and act on it. Imagine an archer that did not have a target to shoot his arrow at. He would fire his arrows aimlessly and would not be successful. Have a goal, write it down, and act upon that goal. Now that there is a clear target you can have a plan of action. A visible target it easier to hit. Nobody ever sat his or her way to success. It takes hard work, motivation, a positive attitude and a strong belief that you can do it. That combination produces what we call luck. Do not sit back and wait for life to happen to you. Have a plan and take the needed steps to create what you want. Fifth, choose to feel happy. It has been said “Act as if and you will...

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Complete In Christ

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.     Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:4-10 ESV). The following story comes from an unknown author.  It illustrates an important truth about our relationship with our children.  However, more than that, it prompts us to think of the imperative of being “made whole.” Once there was a little boy who wanted his dad to teach him how to play catch. One sunny day the little boy’s father was sitting on the couch, drinking a beer, while watching a baseball game. The boy rushed into the house exclaiming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, show me how to play catch!” The father, blankly staring at the television screen, replied, “In a little while, Son, let me finish watching this inning. Come back in five minutes.” “Okay, Daddy,” said the boy and he ran out of the room. Five minutes later, the boy returned screaming, “Daddy, let’s go play some catch now!” The father turned to the boy and said, “Hold on, Son, the inning is not quite over. Come back in five more minutes.” “Okay, Daddy,” said the boy, as he shuffled out of the room. Five minutes later the boy returned ball and glove in hand, eagerly awaiting for his father to play some catch. “Daddy, let’s go, I want to pretend I am a baseball star!” shouted the boy. Frustrated by the boy’s constant hindrances, the dad scanned the room. While scanning the room, the father noticed a magazine underneath the coffee table. On the cover of the magazine was a large picture of the world. The father, who was angered and annoyed, began tearing the magazine cover into small pieces. After a few moments of shredding up the magazine cover, the father placed the torn pieces on the magazine. Then, the father turned to his boy and said, “Son, once you put this picture of the world back together we can play catch, but do not interrupt me again until you are finished!” Apprehensively, the boy took the magazine and sulked into his room, as he sobbed, “Okay, Daddy I won’t.” A few moments later the boy returned and said, “I’m done, Daddy can we play catch now?” Stunned, the father glanced towards his child, and there in his small hands was the magazine with the world pieced perfectly together. Amazed, the dad asked his child how he put the world together so quickly. “It was simple,” stated the boy. “On the back of the world was a picture of a person, and once I put the person together that’s when the world came together.” As we approach a New Year, come to Christ and be made whole.  He waits with open arms to welcome you into a complete...

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Morning Coffee

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! (Psalm 84 ESV) Perhaps you are like I once was; you need your morning coffee. You need the real stuff. Statistics point to the fact that 75% of all Americans are in this same position. We are a group that drinks some coffee product every day at some time during the day.  Coffee has become such an important part of our lifestyle that very profitable businesses have been developed to serve nothing but coffee.  And, it seems contained to our generation more than any other generation. Young people are not so addicted.  Only 61% of their population drink coffee each day.  Perhaps their addiction is to Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, or Coke! Some studies have been done and the new “fix” comes from caffeinated products like “Red Bull.” Fortunately I no longer fight that battle as I have been off caffeine for some time. I am reminded, however, how easy it is to make habits and so hard to break them! One of those that have served me well in the past years is the habit of spending time with God in the morning.  That has been a habit that has proven to be a very good one!  There have been times when I “skipped” it, but for the most part, I always return to it as a source of strength and comfort. The writer of Psalm 84 was like that also. It must have been easy for him as he apparently worked at the temple. It is interesting to see the difference in his life when he was unable to continue in the presence of the Lord.  We don’t know exactly what circumstance it was, but something happened, whether invasion or illness or other reason, which prevented his being there. His reaction was similar to mine when my morning coffee comes late. He wanted to be near God, in the temple, more than anything. He mentioned yearning and fainting. There are many things we want badly. I wonder if God’s presence is on that list? We need God much more than we realize. He is the source of our spiritual life. If we are Christians, we cannot make it one day without God’s enablement. We need Him bad. Why don’t we feel like it? Granted,...

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Twin Falls

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.   He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV) Not long ago I saw a program detailing some of the sights of Maui. Mary and I traveled there some years ago for a vacation.  It was a one of the most spectacular places we have ever visited.  We did all the things that folks normally do when they visit Hawaii.  We spent time along the beaches walking in the sunshine, took a snorkeling tour to Molecai, and generally had a wonderful time of relaxation.  One of the things we did that turned out to be very interesting was our road trip to Hana. Hana is a port city on the island of Maui that is somewhat difficult to get to since the roads are very narrow and often in bad repair.  However, we felt adventurous and set out to make it all the way around the island! It was well worth the time and effort with spectacular views all along the way. At one point, we stopped to hike a trail to the Twin Falls. It was touted as an “easy walk.”  Well, about an hour into the “walk” we began to ask some of the others coming back if it was worth it to continue.  Some never made it to the falls and couldn’t say, while others said it wasn’t very much farther.  After a while of walking and resting, then walking and resting again, we made it to the falls.  And, it was worth it! The view was wonderful! I learned something from that little trek. It is the same in our walk with God. Many times it seems that life is a long walk along the trail, long, tiring, and no view beyond the next corner. When we reach a large mountain, we feel that we’ll never be able to make it and so some of us give up. But if we lean on God He will increase our power and give us strength. Then, when we reach the top, we can see how far God brought us. We realize that we could not have done it without Him, and that whatever we went through was worth it. Some years ago I read an account that illustrates the trust we need to make it to the top. It seems a group of scientists and botanists were exploring remote regions of the Alps in search of new species of flowers. One day they noticed through binoculars a flower of such rarity and beauty that its value to science was incalculable. But it lay deep in a ravine with cliffs on both sides. To get the flower someone had to be lowered over the cliff on a rope. A curious young boy was watching nearby, and the scientists told him they would pay him well if he would agree to be lowered over the cliff to retrieve the flower below. The boy took one long look down the steep, dizzy depths and said, “I’ll be back in a minute.” A short time later he returned followed by a gray-haired...

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