Tag Archives: perspective

Divine Intervention and a Lesson in Logic

IMG_0905 sun.halo_smw

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!!

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Love Sometimes Comes in Waves

Fathers.Love.diptych_sm

Advertisements

Leave No One Behind

IMG_6229 duct.tape_smw

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

 

If you liked this, you might also like…

IMG_3716 Rene.armed_smw

 

 

 

 

 

I Got Your Back

 


Wisdom Wednesday: Don’t Fool Yourself

954919_54240183 mirror.image.butterfly_qt

Photo credit: vassiliki koutsothanasi via freeimages.com with text added

I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say, “Just follow your heart,” as if our hearts never lead us astray. Oh, I understand what they’re trying to say, but I have witnessed so much drama and devastation by people who have taken that advice and followed their hearts with wild abandon. Yeah, go ahead and follow your heart, but don’t neglect wisdom.

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” —Proverbs 28:26

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you’re the easiest person to fool.” —Richard Feynman, American physicist

“I try not to kid myself. You know, I don’t mind romancing someone else, but to fool yourself is pretty devastating and dangerous.” —Bill Veeck, baseball team owner

How do we know when we’re fooling ourselves?

One indication that we are fooling ourselves is when two or more people risk losing our friendship by being brutally honest with us about something and we reject it, because it’s not what we want to hear or believe. Even if other people say the opposite about us, we would do well to consider if the assessment has at least some validity.

“To be human is to err, but it is truly the fool who perseveres in error.” —Latin proverb

Another indication is when we blame others for a lack of success instead of considering if we might possibly be to blame or at least share a part in it.

“Those who see the faults of others, but not their own, are wise for others and fools for themselves.” —Latin proverb

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” —Italian proverb

Yet another indication that we might be fooling ourselves is when we think more highly of ourselves than we ought. A common thing said by some Christians when facing adversity or resistance is to proclaim it’s because they are doing God’s will and are, therefore, under spiritual attack.  Sure, it could be a spiritual attack if the spiritual realm is really threatened by us, but it could also be our own self-importance and folly that is causing the adversity and resistance.

“God and man think him a fool who brags of his own great wisdom.” —French proverb

“Self-exaltation is the fool’s paradise.” —Italian proverb

“I believe in my mask—The man I made up is me. I believe in my dance—And my destiny.” —Sam Shepard, American playwright, actor and director

And lastly, another indication that we might be fooling ourselves is when we cause drama, because we feel the need to be heard and vindicated. It is one thing to vent to one or two close friends privately. It is another thing to broadcast our perceived wounds and injustices to the masses, unless, of course, broadcasting a true injustice would actually benefit the masses.

“A fool carves a piece of his heart to everyone that sits near him.” —Italian proverb

“Wise men talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.” —Plato, Greek philosopher

“A fool is like the big drum that beats fast but does not realize its hollowness.” —Malay proverb

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Seek Counsel


Where Are You Taking Me?

IMG_2206 RedRockCanyon_smqt

“God will take you where you haven’t chosen to go, in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own.” —Paul Tripp in his sermon “The Difference Between Amazement and Faith


“If It Ain’t Rainin’, It Ain’t Trainin'”

“If green grass is in your future, God will lead you there, and he will take you down your own path. The path could very well be a dirt road, and all Marines know “if it ain’t rainin’, it ain’t trainin’.” When it pours, we must learn how to be content in the mud.”  —Jason B. Ladd

“If green grass is in your future, God will lead you there, and he will take you down your own path. The path could very well be a dirt road, and all Marines know “if it ain’t rainin’, it ain’t trainin’.” When it pours, we must learn how to be content in the mud.” —Jason B. Ladd

Jason B. Ladd, a fellow blogger and U.S. Marine fighter pilot, recently published a blog post called The 1 Big Lie That’s Stressing You Out.  He addresses one of the biggest issues that causes stress here in America.  If you’re looking for peace and ways to de-stress, I hope you will check it out.

 


Should Christians Be Happy All the Time?

IMG_7630 despair_smw

Three years ago, I had published a blog post that was inspired by a song taught to children in church, as well as an article by Russell Moore entitled Why Facebook (and Your Church) Might Be Making You Sad.  I had been considering posting it again, and although I could be wrong, I think the Holy Spirit gave me a nudge to go ahead and do so.

The song is high energy and fun to sing because of hand motions and increasing speed, but it hit me three years ago that it can also be very confusing and deceiving.  Why?  Well it goes like this:

I’m inright, outright, upright, downright happy all the time.
I’m inright, outright, upright downright happy all the time.
Since Jesus Christ came in and cleansed my heart from sin,
I’m inright, outright, upright, downright happy all the time.

Are Christians happy all the time?

When a little girl in a preschool class heard she would be singing the song, she cried out, “But I’m not happy all the time!”

Out of the mouth of babes.

Are Christians happy all the time?  Should we be?  We might try to pretend to be, but no, we’re not.  We have the same struggles as everyone else.  I think there are a few reasons we might put on a façade:  1) It makes us feel more religious/spiritual, 2) We have a sincere desire to glorify God, showing He is real and trustworthy, and we wrongly believe being happy all the time is most glorifying to God.  But can we truly reflect what’s real, if we ourselves are not?  Is that glorifying to God?

One of the things Russell Moore said in the article mentioned above is, “By not speaking, where the Bible speaks, to the full range of human emotion—including loneliness, guilt, desolation, anger, fear, desperation—we only leave our people there, wondering why they just can’t be “Christian” enough to smile through it all.”

Children, teenagers and even adults could be left asking themselves, “What’s wrong with me?  Why am I not happy all the time?”  Not only that, but they can learn to not trust the Bible or church, because what they’ve been taught either doesn’t square up with real life or they later realize they were led to believe something that isn’t true.  Even Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

I mean no disrespect to anyone who has taught or still teaches the song or songs like it, because no one would knowingly seek to confuse or deceive children.  Sometimes we do things because it’s what we ourselves were taught or because it’s what has always been done.  But I think when children speak or react, we ought to take note and consider if perhaps changes need to be made in the way we present things.

Edited on February 24, 2014 @ 20:48 to add:  I should have said and need to add that the preachers and teachers of the church I attend do speak to the range of emotions found in the Bible, so this post is not an indictment of them. The purpose of the post is to encourage review and consideration of things we’ve always done and things that may sound good but may not be true.


Wisdom Wednesday: Perspective

IMG_0490 cosmic.self_smw

Have you ever thought one thing and then heard or saw something that changed your perspective, which changed your mind about what you believed was true? Or have you ever been stressed out about something or someone, like thinking a person didn’t like you but later finding out she thought you didn’t like her?

In the letter to the church at Philippi, Paul encouraged two women who were at odds with each other to make peace, and he told the rest of the people to help them. Then he gave further instructions, including the power of positive thinking, that would help keep the peace of God among them.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” —Philippians 4:8

“Anger so clouds the mind that it cannot perceive the truth.” —Latin proverb

Sometimes things are, indeed, as they appear or as we’ve been told, but sometimes they are not. Sometimes in order to know what’s true, we have to be willing to see things from another vantage point. A couple of weeks ago, my second son told me about a short, amazing T-Rex illusion video that demonstrates the principle of perspective perfectly. It is very cool!

Even after seeing the T-Rex as it truly is, it is nearly impossible to avoid seeing the optical illusion when the perspective keeps changing. Life is constantly changing and in the same way, its changing circumstances can cause us to forget what is true, and we can start believing a lie. Or sometimes because we trust our own perception or what seems to be true, we refuse to see things any other way and remain stuck in an illusion.

“It was an illusion, but to the perception, it was as powerful as reality.” —Steve Cobb, pastor

Any good life coach will tell you that the first step to transformation is to change your thinking. The Bible gives the same principle. Romans 12:2b says, “…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” The context has to do with how to test and know what the will of God is—what is good, acceptable and perfect—but the principle of the first step in transformation is there none the less.

“It is not the problem that’s the problem. It is your attitude about the problem.” —Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean

“We don’t see things the way they are. We see things the way we are.” —The Talmud

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” —John Lubbock

“Most people see what they want to, or at least what they expect to.” —Martha Grimes

Here is another video that illustrates the power of both positive and negative thinking. It’s a bit longer, but if you tend to deal with stress, it is well-worth watching.

Edited on January 9, 2014 to add:  Please see my additional comment below.

If you liked this post, you might also like:  Don’t Panic


Wisdom Wednesday: Freedom

Photo credit:  Luca Zaninoni - www.sxc.hu/photo/1330210

Photo credit: Luca Zaninoni – http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1330210

Have you ever gained freedom from one thing only to rush into something else and found yourself bound again or wishing you could go back? A couple of days ago as I had just finished grocery shopping and was going to pick up my daughter from an appointment, I watched a little dog with a red collar running and bounding through the strip mall parking lot. It appeared to have escaped from a parked car and was simply ecstatic to be free. As I prepared to park my car and try to rescue the dog, I watched it jump into some tall grass that swallowed it up. Not far from the edge of the tall grass was a river, and I was afraid the dog might unsuspectingly jump into it. The dog seemed to have no sense of potential danger, only that it was free. What if it had fallen into the river or gotten lost or hit by a car? Would it have regretted its momentary lapse of restraint for a brief run in the sun? Was it truly free?

2 Peter 2:19b says, “…by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved,” which according to the context is his own desires. The dog was enslaved by its intense desire to run free. Its desire seemed to be more in control than the dog itself.

“No one is free who is a slave to the body.” —Latin proverb

“…use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” —Galatians 5:13b

I am so glad for the boundaries my loving, heavenly Father has set for me, and that He didn’t set me free to pursue things I’d begged for only to realize later how enslaving or harmful they would have been. It reminds me of the time my daughter’s dog escaped the house to run after a UPS truck and into a main road. What did she think she was gonna do with it once she caught it? I’m so glad she wasn’t hit by a car, but I couldn’t help but think of my beloved German shepherd I’d had that was free to be outside with us without a leash as well as by herself, because she knew to stay within the boundaries where it was safe and she was loved.

“To be free to sail the seven seas, you must make yourself a slave to the compass. Every freedom has a corresponding slavery. We can be free from the toothbrush and a slave to cavities or a slave to the toothbrush and free from cavities. For everything we want, we must give up something else.” – from Quiet Walk Daily e-Devotional

“We must accept responsibility in order to have true liberty.” –Ken Davis, Christian comedian


Don’t Panic

ImageDo you ever feel like you’re losing control and things are slipping through your fingers?  Sometimes when things start becoming a bit chaotic or scary, we panic and grasp for control.  But like holding sand and trying to grasp it more tightly, we find it slipping through our fingers even faster.  And instead of maintaining control, like King Saul, who was jealous of David’s success and popularity, he eventually lost his kingdom, his son, and his very life.

Image

Or maybe you’re more like Eli, the priest, who was passive and failed to properly train and rein in his sons.  He held them too loosely, not realizing things were slowly slipping through his fingers, and he, too, eventually lost his sons, the Ark of the Covenant and his life.

Finding the balance between panic and passivity can be difficult.  You may have heard the phrase “Let go and let God”.  When we are passive, we use it as an excuse to continue holding things too loosely, and we actually shirk our responsibility.  Then we wonder why things are slipping through our fingers, and we blame God for not coming through.  When we panic, we have a difficult time letting go and letting God and trusting Him to come to our aid.  When things continue to fall apart, in our pride, we tend to blame others rather than asking if we ourselves are somehow to blame.

Image

When we hold things properly— not too loosely and not grasping for control, acting responsibly and trusting God— not only will things not slip through our fingers, but with our hands firmly cupped and looking to God for direction and strength, He is able to help us and even bless us with more.  So don’t panic.


Reflections and Musings

Image

Purpose.

Being transformed by the renewing of the mind.

Breathing.

As so many often do at this time of year, I have been reflecting on this past year, the events and people who have impacted me, and the things I have learned.  Purpose, being transformed by the renewing of the mind, and breathing have been more recent topics that have been at the forefront.  While I cannot list everything that has impacted me this past year, I thought I would list the top ones.

Motivation.  What really motivates me?  What motivates you?  Not what you or I think motivates us, but what really does?  How can we tell?  The top quote for me this year was by Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church.  In his sermon Fig Leaves, Lies and the Grace of God he said, “Whether you understand the motivations of your heart or not, really what’s driving your actions, and what’s driving your life and how you fill your day, actually comes back to what you believe is actually going to bring about the most fullness of life possible for you.”  So… how do you fill your days?

Attitude.  Attitude reflects leadership.  In a team, company, organization, or family, the attitudes of those being led will generally reflect the attitudes of those leading.  If there is mistrust at the top, there will tend to be mistrust all around.  If there is enthusiasm and a team spirit, it will be reflected with lots of positive attitudes, energy, and respect.  I want to reflect a good attitude for those who look to me for any type of leadership, and I never want to automatically blame others if their attitude is less than what I am hoping for.

Purpose.  Another blogger wrote she didn’t think we necessarily need to have a purpose, that maybe our purpose is just being here and enjoying what we have, and that life doesn’t need a goal; it is a goal itself.  I disagree.  The Bible says without vision (or guidance), the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).  Without vision or purpose, life is either chaotic or stationary.  My daughter once related an article she had read, which listed reasons Okinawans tend to be, not only the longest lived, but also with a better quality of life.  One of those reasons is they have a deep sense of purpose and responsibility, and it makes them feel like an important part of the larger community.  Having purpose is life-giving.

Being transformed by the renewing of the mind.  The outside won’t truly change until the inside is first renewed.  If you find yourself unable to change, you probably need to change what you believe is true.  Change what and how you think, and the rest will take care of itself.

Breathe.  Don’t forget to breathe.  It feels good, and it is good for you.

Balance.  Balance is something we all try to maintain.  This year I’ve been trying to balance between taking care of myself and not becoming selfish.  When I was a young woman, I remember seeing older women deserting their families.  They said, “I’ve taken care of everyone else for so many years, and now it’s time for me to take care of me!”  I don’t want to be that woman.  I know it’s important that we take care of ourselves and not neglect our own needs, but I never want to go so far that I would abandon my family just to please myself.

Blessing.  I can’t remember who said it, but the basic idea was when you bless someone, you add or reveal the value of another person.  When we bless someone by giving them a gift, spending time with them, or serving them in some way, or even if we look them in the eye and smile, it says, “You are valuable.  You are worth it.”

Stand fast.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of what you know is true or into what you know is false.  Don’t even waver.  Just stand your ground, or you will eventually find yourself on the ground and in the mud.

Become better, not bitter.  We can allow situations to make us become either better or bitter.  The Bible says that a root of bitterness can cause many to become defiled (Hebrews 12:15).  Misery loves company, and complaining can become contagious and promote negativity.  Not only that, but if our bitterness becomes too obnoxious, it can cause others to become bitter toward us.  Becoming better is so much more advantageous and attractive.

Perspective.  “We don’t see things the way they are.  We see things the way we are.”  —The Talmud.

Don’t give up!  I was able to volunteer this past summer at Union Rescue Mission, one of the largest homeless missions in the country, located on Skid Row.  When I talked to Jenny Kershner, who is in charge of their Learning Center, about people relapsing, a statement she made surprised me.  She said, “Sometimes relapsing is a good thing to help a person solidify the decision to change and fully rely on God.”  Steve Cobb, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in New Bern, NC told a crack addicted friend, “Never, ever give up!”  And he didn’t.

I am grateful for Evan Sanders, author of The Better Man Project, for his inspirational and motivational posts.  If it were not for his post entitled What I’ve Learned, I would be composing this tomorrow, or not at all, because I might have waited too long without writing anything down, allowing the inspirational juices to drain.  Thank you, Evan!


%d bloggers like this: