Tag Archives: attitude

Set the World on Fire… Not Literally, But Stop Making Excuses

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“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  —Neale Donald Walsch

“Fire tests gold, adversity brave men.”  —Latin proverb

“The lazy person is full of excuses, saying,If I go outside, I might meet a lion in the street and be killed!'”  —Proverbs 22:13 NLT

What’s holding you back?  Be wise, but stop making excuses!

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The Greatest of These


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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Where’s the Fruit?
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Lift ‘Em Up!

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with special thanks to Chris Ward, Jeremie Dufresne, and my other brothers.

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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Resolution Bucket: A New Strategy and Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork


What Do You Smell Like?

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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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Photo credit: Christopher Bruno via freeimages.com with text added

Photo credit: Christopher Bruno via freeimages.com with text added

 


Just Do It, Because No One Else Can Do It For Us

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Photo credit: Martin Louis

This past Tuesday, I officially became a member of our local volunteer fire department. Although I am just a corporate member for the time being, I plan on taking an EMT course and becoming a responder. In the meantime, I can participate in some of the training sessions, one of which is a fitness program led by one of the firefighters free of charge. It has been great!

You know how you know you should be doing something, but put it off either because you just can’t get motivated enough or you feel like you’re too busy? After experiencing some knee pain earlier in the week that had nothing to do with the fitness training, I went to see my chiropractor. (They do treat more than back pain and back injuries.) He examined my knee, and knowing I have also had a history of hip pain, he raised his brow and imploringly said, “René, you have got to stretch. Everyday.” I had heard those words from him before. Then he explained that my muscles were too tight and were pulling on my kneecap whenever I put weight on it while it was bent. Needless to say, I was so grateful that last night’s fitness training was a stretching workout. I have been doing stretches everyday this past week, and although I am still experiencing some occasional pain, I have noticed a big difference. I had not been as diligent to stretch when it was just my hip, but having shooting pain in my knee when going up or down stairs, or simply squatting to sit on the toilet was a great motivator to start stretching daily. It’s better than having surgery, and I don’t want anything to hinder my new venture with the department and plans on becoming an emergency responder. Pain and strong desire are often good motivators.

You know the saying, “When the cat’s away, the mice will play?” Working out and being self-motivated reminded me of something the Apostle Paul had said in his letter to the Philippians. People, who believe we have to earn brownie points with God by being good and religious in order to get to heaven, often use what he said to prove their point. In Philippians 2:12, 13 Paul wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” It’s kind of like that phrase about the cat and mice. Sometimes it’s easier to be motivated to do the right thing when we’re around people who can motivate us. Sometimes when a good leader or boss dies or is away for an extended period of time, things can start falling apart. Paul was saying that the Philippians had always been good at following God while he was with them, but he was encouraging them to continue following God even though he wasn’t there to hold their hand. They needed to work out or exercise their own salvation, to exercise their own faith, because no one could do it for them. At the same time, he reminded them that God was still with them and working in them, so they were not actually alone.

Just as we will never reach any goals by waiting for someone else to do it for us, we can never be reconciled to God and be with Him in heaven through someone else’s faith. Sure, Jesus paid the penalty for us, because we can never earn enough brownie points, but we still have to accept Him as Lord and Savior. No one else can do it for us.

 

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How to Get Attention

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I learned something this weekend— how to get and redirect attention.

While helping a local volunteer fire department with its car wash fundraising event, I agreed to put on a firefighter’s turnout gear to attract the attention of passersby.  I prefer helping by washing cars or being behind a camera rather than drawing attention to myself, but it was for a good cause.  Since the station had a sandwich board with neon green posters announcing its car wash, I thought it would be a good idea to stand across the street.

Wrong.

I realized that by drawing attention to the opposite side, I was drawing attention to myself instead of to the station and the car wash.  Hey, I had very little experience doing that kind of thing, but now I know.  I did eventually stand by the neon green signs, which was much more effective.

I hate writing this next part, but I can’t leave it out and still get the complete point across.  And by the way, I am not fishing for compliments, ok?  So don’t embarrass me… please?  That reminds me of a quote.

“You better be very careful fishing for those compliments.  You might not like what you catch.”  —Steve Cobb, pastor in “The Deacon”

Ok, so years and years ago when I was 20-something, an out-of-state visitor to the church I was attending, asked me out on a date.  I accepted even though he was quite a bit older than I.  While strolling along a sidewalk after dinner, we talked about our faith in Jesus and future plans.  He turned to me and told me that God had given me the gift of beauty.  Although I feel pretty some days, I don’t think of myself as being beautiful or having a gift of beauty.  Anyway, he said that God could use it to help point people to Him.

Although outer beauty can capture attention, it can also keep it for itself.  Although I, like any woman, long to be considered beautiful in someone’s eyes, what I desire most is an inner beauty that reflects the love of God, because that is true beauty.  He’s still working on me.

One of the things I have learned in life and the blogging world is people are drawn to images more than just words, and through the stock photography business, I have learned that people are drawn to faces more than to mere objects.  Photos with people are much more profitable, because companies know that customers are drawn to faces, especially happy ones.  So even though the fire station had signs posted, and even though they were neon green, having a person either holding a sign or drawing attention to the signs and event is much more effective.  In the same way, although billboards, funny church signs, and religious tracts may draw some attention, what is much more effective is love… personal interaction that draws attention in His direction and not just to ourselves. After all, Jesus has so much more to offer.


Leave No One Behind

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I have had a few occasions to witness the friendship and bond between bikers, and this past weekend, I was even privileged to ride in a Toy Run with a motorcycle club for the first time.  I knew a motorcycle culture exists, but what I suspected was confirmed— not all motorcycle clubs or bikers are created equal. Although some bikers would not call themselves a Christ-follower, they put some of us, who call ourselves Christians, to shame.

On one occasion months ago, I watched a group of bikers getting ready to roll out of a restaurant parking lot after having had breakfast. As I watched, I noticed one of the bikers pull out onto the main road when the coast was clear. He positioned himself in the center of the lane so his fellow bikers could safely depart. Then he took up the rear.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” —Jesus

This weekend while riding in the Toy Run, one of the club member’s bikes developed a problem, so all of the members pulled over. ‘Sailor’, the one with whom I was riding, said, “We never leave anyone behind.” The members pulled together to assess and assist.

Duct tape fixes everything. Well… almost.

I don’t know everything there is to know about bikers and motorcycle clubs, but there is one thing I do know. In most cases, the heart is the same; it’s just a different face.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.   —Proverbs 18:24 KJV

 

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Unconditional Love and Grace Are Not Dirty Words

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A few weeks ago I heard a preacher talk about God’s unconditional love as if it was a dirty word. On another occasion, an old friend spoke of grace with equal disdain. I understand where they were coming from. One was coming from an attitude of legalism, while the other was grieving over grace being taken for granted and used as a license to sin. I am grateful that the pastors and teachers at the church I attend preach about God’s unconditional love and grace in a balanced way and without contempt.

 My daughter and I were discussing how people see truths differently depending on where they are in life and through which lens they are looking. For example, a person who truly recognizes his or her own utter depravity and the amazing grace and unconditional love of God, tends to really understand grace and is able to be gracious toward others. They see grace in a very positive way. Those who tend toward legalism and feel justified because they are able to keep certain commandments or live what they consider to be a good Christian life, tend to view unconditional love and grace with less value and speak contemptuously about churches that emphasize God’s love and grace. It is reminiscent of what Jesus said to Simon, the Pharisee, when he scorned Jesus for allowing a prostitute to wipe His feet with her hair. Jesus said:

“Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gave me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but his woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” (Luke 7:36-50)

The preacher I heard also mentioned visiting a fellow Christian, and upon finding out he had beer in his refrigerator, condemned him and questioned whether or not the man was a true Christian. Even if the man was an alcoholic, it does not mean he is not a Christian. What if he is addicted but wants to quit? What if he agrees with God that his drunkenness is sin? Didn’t the Apostle Paul himself say in the very same letter to the Romans concerning there being “therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, that he himself does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do? Didn’t Paul call himself a wretched man and thank God for Jesus Christ his Lord? (Romans 7 :14-25)

The attitude of the preacher reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the publican (with modern claims added in italics and parentheses for emphasis):

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Alcohol has never touched my lips, nor my feet entered a movie theater. I am in church every time the doors are open, and I go out soul-winning every week.)” And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. —Luke 18:9-14

Another preacher, who is full of grace, has never condemned his crack addict friend. He does not question his love for the Lord just because his friend is in church for a time and then falls back into his crack addiction. This preacher loves his friend unconditionally and encourages him to never, ever, ever give up. Which one would you say is more like Jesus?

Unconditional love and grace are, indeed, not to be used as a license to do whatever we want. If we do that, then it is fair that our love for God would be put in question. But if we hate when we sin, if we agree with God and try to turn away from doing it again…

and again…

and again,

He forgives us 70 x 7, because He is full of grace and a love that does not put conditions on us, like doing penance, before He will love us again. His love is unconditional. A person who simply dismisses sin and makes light of it because of grace and unconditional love, may need to consider the seriousness of sin, the purpose of obedience, and his/her own love for God. Likewise, people who speak of unconditional love and grace with disdain, may need to consider their own depravity and remember from what they themselves have been saved.

If I err, I would rather err on the side of love and grace.

 

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Wisdom Wednesday: Balance Is Key

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“Moderation in all things.”

“Even in adultery?” a response was shot back.

The responder was being facetious in trying to defend his position in a discussion, but even though he used a logical fallacy, his retort does bring up a good point.  Moderation in all things obviously does not include immoral things.

“Immoderate desire is the mark of a child, not a man.” —Democritus

“Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things…” —1 Corinthians 9:25a KJV

“If there is one single secret to long life, that secret is moderation.” —George Gallup

Moderation and temperance for one person may be different for another, because the idea of moderating something has to do with measuring it, and temperance has to do with self-control.  One person might be able to eat a pint of ice cream without gaining weight, while another person gains weight just by looking at it.  One person might be able to have a glass of wine with a meal, while another person cannot stop at just one.

“Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.” —Epicurus

“Hast thou found honey?  Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.” —Proverbs 25:16 KJV

“Even nectar is poison if taken to excess.” —Hindu proverb

“Enough is as good as a feast.” —English proverb

Moderation and temperance are not just about food and drink, it’s about every area of life— work, recreation, relationships, hobbies, sleep…

Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?” —Ecclesiastes 7:16 NASV

“Nothing brings more pain than too much pleasure; nothing more bondage than too much liberty.” —Poor Richard aka Benjamin Franklin

“Better learn balance.  Balance is key.  Balance good, karate good.  Everything good.  Balance bad, better pack up, go home.” —Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid

 

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Harmless As a Dove

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