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Some Christians put more emphasis on the spiritual gifts, like preaching, teaching, evangelizing, or in the charismatic circles, sign gifts like speaking in tongues, as if the gifts of the Spirit are more important than the fruit of the Spirit. “I’m a preacher, Bible teacher, or missionary, so I am spiritually superior to you and more effective in spreading the Gospel and teaching spiritual things than you,” or “I speak in tongues, so I am more spiritual than you”. After adding the poster to my Facebook page and receiving a few comments, I realized that the quote parallels 1 Corinthians 13, also known as ‘The Love Chapter’. Basically, the gifts are meaningless without the fruit. “And the greatest of these is love…”
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Ever heard of ‘The Broken Window Theory’? I hadn’t until a few months ago when our deputy chief referred to it during one of our fire department meetings. Although ‘The Broken Window Theory’ is based on the premise that disorder leads to crime, within the framework of the theory is a principle that can be found in the book of Proverbs.
I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. —Proverbs 24:30-34 KJV
Whether it’s a broken window, things left undone or out of place, or disintegrating relationships, it conveys a sense of complacency and apathy, and can become a new ‘normal’ if left neglected or disregarded. Those directly or indirectly involved are basically saying, “I don’t care enough,” or “It’s not my problem or responsibility,” or “We don’t feel led to get involved”. Neglect leads to disorder, disorder leads to chaos, and chaos leads to tragedy.
We are all a part of something, even if only a part of humanity. We all have a responsibility. If we want peace instead of chaos, happiness instead of sadness, beauty instead of ugliness, success instead of failure, and growth instead of decay, then the little things matter, and it’s up to us to take ownership and fix the broken windows.
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Wanna build a stronger, better team or crew? The subject came up when Bill, one of my firefighter brothers and I were talking about my experiences at a recent structure fire. He is very knowledgeable and has years of experience, but since I am a ‘probie’ with comparatively little knowledge or experience, and being the smallest member of the fire department, in some ways I am the weakest member. I expressed gratitude for the on-scene training I received from both my own department brothers, as well as from other departments who were also on-scene. Although Bill would not agree that I am the weakest member, he stated a key concept in building a stronger crew— lift up and strengthen the weakest member, and the whole team becomes better and stronger.
That reminds me of an illustration I used in a blog post a couple of years ago using a wooden bucket with broken and worn slats. The bucket can hold only as much water as the shortest slat, so if we work to fix and raise it up first, the bucket will hold more water. If we fix and build up a taller slat first, the bucket will still hold only as much water as the shortest one.
If lifting up and strengthening the weakest member makes the whole stronger, then it stands to reason that kicking the weakest member when she’s down would only serve to weaken the whole, right? Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” I am grateful for those who have lifted me up instead of kicking me down when I’ve messed up.
My friend, Scott, says something that is similar to a quote by Nate McConnell:
“The whole is the sum of its parts, so be a good part.”
Let’s show our strength by giving a hand and strengthening those who are weaker.
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Have you ever hugged someone, who was wearing a nice cologne, and later caught a whiff of their fragrance lingering on you? Mmmmm…. Have you ever hugged someone or been in their presence long enough to have their stench get trapped in your nose? [gag] Whether a person physically smells good or bad, some people have sweet smelling spirits while others have stinky ones. Just as breathing in a pleasant scent can bring a smile to our faces and remind us of a nice hug, so, too, can a sweet spirit linger and cause us to smile.
In the letters to the Ephesians and Corinthians, Paul spoke of the sacrifice and love of Christ being like a fragrant aroma to God, like the incense used by Jewish priests in the tabernacle and temple. When we imitate Him, we, too, are like a sweet aroma to God, but we can also be like a sweet fragrance of life to others. That’s what I want— the sweet spirit of God that leaves a fragrance of life.
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“They’re easier to take off than to put on,” our fire chief stated after some of us ‘probies’ learned how to install tire chains on the fire apparatus. We were expecting a snowstorm, but until the storm has passed, we never know what kind of weather or how much snow we’ll actually get here in Vermont. It’s not good to run tire chains on dry pavement, but being prepared is better than being caught with our chains down, especially since speed is important when responding to emergencies. I couldn’t help but think his statement provided a life lesson.
It is easier to avoid a slippery slope if we prepare ahead of time. It is easier to gain some traction by ‘putting on’ wisdom and knowing what to do if we have obtained the knowledge and wisdom needed for different situations. For example, it is easier to say, “No,” or avoid a temptation if we ‘put our chains on’ before facing that temptation, whether it’s a piece of triple chocolate raspberry torte, sex, drugs, or saying something in the heat of the moment that we’ll later regret. It’s best to ‘walk away’ at the outset of a potential problem rather than end up trying to extricate ourselves from the problem after we’ve succumbed. Remember B’rer Rabbit and the Tar Baby? Either don’t stop by the bakery for coffee, or make a firm decision ahead of time not to buy a pastry, too! Don’t even look at them! Once you step foot in the bakery or go through the drive-thru, you’re already on the slope. Got traction?
I didn’t say it was easy.
It isn’t always easy to say, “No,” to strong desires, but making a decision about what to do, if we ever find ourselves in a certain type of situation, makes following through with that decision a bit easier if we make it ahead of time. If we choose not to think about it or prepare, we could find ourselves slipping and sliding, and not only crash ourselves, but hurt others as well. Good thing there are no maple cream doughnuts in the house.
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A few nights ago my daughter and I watched a movie, and something one of the characters said caught my attention. I think it can apply to more than just the obvious situation, don’t you? The main character’s best friend said:
“Don’t choose the better guy, choose the guy that’s gonna make you the better girl.” —Trish in This Means War
So who do you want to be? What do you want to be? Are your current life choices keeping you from being the person you really are deep down inside? Are current relationships with people and organizations helping you grow or keeping you stunted?
“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” —C.S. Lewis, author
I’m not talking about being a snob. I’m talking about the people you include in your inner ring, your most intimate of friends from whom you seek advice and with whom there is mutual benefit and not just a one-sided relationship.
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” —Proverbs 27:17
I’m also not talking about micromanaging our lives, and I know sometimes making the best choice isn’t always easy. After all, we’re human, and we make mistakes… sometimes, big ones. We cannot allow fear to keep us from making decisions either, because as Harvey Cox, an American theologian once said, “Not to decide is to decide.”
Don’t allow apathy to make the decision for you. Choose between what will keep you where you are or what will help you reach your goals.
Don’t just sit there. God cannot steer a car that isn’t moving.
“Are circumstances driving you, or are you controlling your circumstances?” —K. Scott Bonovich, author
It’s okay to say no.
Don’t kill yourself trying to fit into someone else’s mold. Do you want to be like them, or do you want to be you and who you believe God created you to be?
I recently made the decision to become a firefighter, and I am pursuing an education to become an EMT. I have been surprised by those who have been supportive from the beginning and those who are still not supportive to this day. One of my family members remarked that it seemed like the fire department had chosen me instead of my choosing the fire department. I assured her that it was my choice, and I worked hard studying the apparatus and equipment so that I could earn my shield and begin riding to assist and gain practical experience. Like anyone who has ever experienced great success, sometimes I had to decide between playing and working. I am grateful for those who also chose to work by taking the time to teach me. We played afterward.
“What are you prepared to do?” —Jimmy Malone in The Untouchables
How badly do you want it? What will it take to get it? Who do you want to be? It starts with a vision and then one decision after another.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” —Socrates, a character in Way of the Peaceful Warrior
Happy New Year!!
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Originally posted on Heavenly Raindrops:
Surrounded by God’s Abiding Love
I love you
With an abiding love.
It is not altered
By the certainty
Of your inadequacies.
It does not change
With the rippling tide
Of your shortcomings.
It does not fade
With the fluctuations
Of your loyalty.
It is constant,
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
For similar posts, seeSnippets of Rain
A recent conversation with a friend concerning my blog post about anonymously receiving a large bouquet of balloons reminded me of a joke I had once heard from a preacher. The friend asked if I really believed the gift of balloons was the result of divine intervention as I had expressed in the post.
“Yes,” I confidently replied, then told him the joke.
There was a Christian lady who lived next door to an atheist. Whenever the atheist overheard the lady pray, he would mutter to himself that there is no God, and sometimes he would argue with her.
One day she ran out of groceries, and the atheist overheard her praying. “I’ll fix her,” he thought to himself, and he went out and bought bags of groceries, set them on her front porch, rang the doorbell and hid to see what she would do.
When she opened the door and saw the groceries, she shouted, “God did it! God did it! God did it! Thank you, Jesus!”
He jumped out and shouted, “God didn’t do it! I did! I bought those groceries and put them on your porch! See? There is no God!”
The lady started laughing and dancing and praising the Lord.
“Didn’t you hear me?” the atheist asked. “I bought those groceries!”
“I heard you,” she said. “I knew the Lord was gonna provide, but I didn’t know He was gonna make you pay for ‘em!”
Something recently said by a different preacher made me think of another joke. Well, not so much a joke as a cute analogy. The preacher had quoted the first part of James 4:8, which says, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” Unfortunately, he made a logical fallacy by stating that the contraposition must then be true— that if we draw away from God, then He will draw away from us. So here’s the analogy:
A young man asked a girl out on a date. She accepted, and when he picked her up in his pickup truck, she sat as close to him as she could. They eventually got married, and they continued sitting close together. As the years went by, a space developed between them until one day, the wife lamented that they didn’t seem to be as close as they once were. The husband replied, “Well, honey, I ain’t the one who moved.”
The story reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son, who asked for his inheritance ahead of time, moved to the city, squandered it, and sought to return home as a servant and no longer as a son. All the time he was away, the father prayed and waited for his son’s return, and when he finally did, the father threw a huge party.
The father didn’t move.
It also reminds me of Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
If God draws away from us when we draw away from Him, He never would have pursued us nor sought to reveal Himself to us so that we could have a relationship with Him. Divine intervention? Yes!!
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A beautiful, heartwarming post revealing that some things take time and cannot be forced.
Originally posted on Karina's Thought:
I am very happy in the midst of my busyness take care my baby boy and did the company tasks, this weekend I could back to gardening. With my husband I walked around the garden and enjoying each flower there. In the rose section, I found a beautiful red rosebud. I am so excited and amazed then I touched it softly and said to my husband, “I cannot wait to see this beautiful rose blooming. What happens if with my hand I open its petals so the rose will be unfolded?” “I don’t think so my dear princess. You cannot unfold the rosebud “My husband replied gently.”There is a time to the rose will unfold beautifully. If we force it the rose will be dead. My dear, Let God unfold this rosebud according His time. Not our time. When? We even do not know. So just be patient to wait…
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