Monday, April 27, 2015

“Do not despise the day of small things. For we do not know what is small in God’s eyes.”

A thought by John Ortberg, (2015-02-24) from his book. All the Places to Go . . . HowWill You Know?: God Has Placed before You an Open Door.  What Will You Do?  (p. 85). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

That is such a good thought at the beginning of a new week and close to the beginning of a new month.  How do you view what you do?  Think about this, maybe how you view it is different from how God views it.

John says, “When we are born, our world is very small. As we grow, it may become quite large. If we live long enough and grow old enough, it will become small again. If we do not learn to find God in our small worlds, we will never find God at all.”

I am finding that true in my retirement years.  There was a time that I was challenged to do greater things as a church planter but now the quality time that I get to spend with my wife, Margaret and with my three granddaughters, Ashlyn, Addison and Harper has more meaning than I could ever imagine.

John continues, “Babies and mangers appear small and insignificant — but that is how God comes to us. Jesus mostly did small things. He talked with obscure individuals — a Samaritan woman at the well, a disgraced prostitute, a tax collector. He hung out with children so unimportant that his disciples tried to shoo them away. His final miracle before his trial and crucifixion was to replace a sliced-off ear. We have no idea what is big or small in God’s eyes. But for sure, I will never go through a ‘big’ door if I do not humble myself to the task of discerning and entering all the small ones. Do not despise the day of small things. For that, too, is the day the Lord has made. And that is where we find him.  

So how does this thought make a difference in your day today?

Friday, April 24, 2015

“Every morning is an open door; every moment can become one.”

A thought by John Ortberg, (2015-02-24) from his book. All the Places to Go . . . HowWill You Know?: God Has Placed before You an Open Door.  What Will You Do?  (p. 18). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

I love that thought.  I read on Facebook this morning that a friend of mine had a horrible day yesterday and I felt for her but then the thought came to me but today is a new day.  Yes there is memory of yesterday but today is a blank slate with new adventure and new possibilities and new potential. 

What was your day like yesterday?  Learn the lessons from it and see today as a new open door to walk through.  Oh I can see the door and have some fear because of what happened yesterday and decide I’m not going to open it.  That is a real choice for us.  The problems of yesterday can keep us from the possibilities of today.  They can but they don’t have to.

John says, “Some of us see the doors and seize them, and so life becomes a divine adventure. Some of us shrink back or fail to see. A room with no door is a prison. To fail to embrace the open door is to miss the work God has made for us to do. If we want to experience more of the Spirit of God in our lives, we need to train ourselves to look for and respond to moments of divine opportunity.”

Remember, “This is the day that the Lord has made.”  This is a day that He has created for us and yes it takes faith and trust in Him and in us to set out and open the door of today.  Then the Psalmist goes on and says, “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  Even if yesterday was a tough day don’t let it control today. God brought you through it.  You survived.  So rejoice in the opportunity of a new day.

As John said, “To fail to embrace the open door is to miss the work God has made for us to do.”  “This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

So how is this thought going to make a difference in today?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

“Financial pressure can suck the romance right out of a relationship.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex andDating (p. 176). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Have you found that true?  I’m sure that many of you have. The truth is it can suck out all of the enjoyment of life.   Andy says, “The number one source of conflict among couples is money.”  It is number one.

He then says, “The primary source of financial pressure is debt. Dumb debt. Credit card debt. Car leases… If you have debt, chances are you have other bad financial habits.”

Make a commitment to stop and look at what it is that is causing you to not get this under control.  I love the prayer of the Psalmist who says, “Search me oh God and know my thoughts.”  Why do you have to have all of the stuff?  Now there can be good reasons for it but if it causes relational problems then there is a problem.  Take it to God and then take it to your spouse.  Prioritize and then let some things go

Andy also says, “You’ll discover that lowering your standard of living will increase your quality of life. That’s a lesson that will serve you well the rest of your life.” 

When I retired we were living in an over 3,000 square foot home.  Now as a church planter we used that home in many different ways of ministry but now we don’t need a home that size.  We live in a two bedroom 950 square foot apartment.  And we are very happy.  We also just have one car.  I take my wife to work.  We don’t need two cars.  Now that is us.  In a few years Margaret will be retiring and we will need to downsize some more.  The important thing is us not our stuff. 

What about you? Don’t let stuff get in the way of your relationships.    

Now if stuff is more important to you then don’t get into any relationships.  And if you do please be honest about your problem.  I like how Andy says it, “If you’re thinking, Andy, the person I’m looking for is a person who has the capacity to bail me out financially, make sure to tell ’em up-front. First date. Say, ‘Look, I’ve got about nine grand in credit card debt. I’m looking for someone who’s willing to pay that off for me. I don’t plan to change my spending habits; I’m looking for someone to support my bad spending habits.’ Far-fetched? Let me ask you this. If it’s okay for you to sneak your bad financial habits into a relationship, are you okay with him or her sneaking bad habits in as well? Or would you prefer to know up-front what you’re dealing with? If you want to marry rich, knock yourself out. But in the meantime, get out of debt.”

So how does this help you today?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

“Happiness comes when what happens is favorable to us.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2012-01-03) from his book, I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth,and Life of Following Jesus (p. 114). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

But what if it becomes unfavorable to us?  Leonard goes on to say, “When circumstances at the surface of our lives are unfavorable, happiness leaves. It has a brief shelf life; it comes and goes rapidly. Joy is far different. It doesn’t fluctuate according to its surface surroundings. In fact, it can actually flourish in the midst of pain and suffering.”

But we strive for happiness when it is joy that we really need.  Leonard says, “Our culture, it seems, is convinced that happiness can be purchased. Materialism, consumerism, and individualism have blended to form a hollow chocolate bunny within the American dream. Overpromising and underdelivering, the individual pursuit of happiness has catapulted the US to number one status as the most depressed and medicated nation in the world.”

But Jesus offers us joy.  Remember what the angel said to the shepherds about Jesus birth in Luke 2:10 (NIV), “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”   He didn’t say happiness which is what we strive for in so many ways but he said, “Joy”.

Leonard says, “The roots of joy are like those of desert plants that have the ability to thrive in arid environments. They grow long and deep, far below the dry sandy surface, to reach the water needed for life. Jesus is the source of our deepest joy. First followers draw from the deep underground springs of this joy not only to quench our own thirst but also to soothe the parched souls of those around us.” 

The prophet Nehemiah said to his troubled people who were going through some rough times, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV).  We need to hear that today.  He is the source of our joy.

Leonard says, “Followers remain mindful of their joy quotient while guarding against an addictive dependence on happiness. Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann contends, ‘It is only as joy that the Church was victorious in the world, and it lost the world when it lost the joy, when it ceased to be the witness of it.’ Of all accusations against Christians, the most terrible one was uttered by Nietzsche when he said that Christians had no joy.”

So how does this make a difference in your situation today?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

“God’s primary will for your life is not the achievements you accrue…”

A thought by John Ortberg, (2015-02-24) from his book, All the Places to Go . . . How Will You Know?: God Has Placed before You an Open Door.  What Will You Do? (p. 15). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

What is God’s will for my life?  What does He want me to do?  The problem is that is the wrong question.  Here is the whole thought of John, “God’s primary will for your life is not the achievements you accrue; it’s the person you become.” 

He continues, “God’s primary will for your life is not what job you ought to take; it’s not primarily situational or circumstantial. It’s not mainly the city where you live or whether you get married or what house you ought to be in. God’s primary will for your life is that you become a magnificent person in his image, somebody with the character of Jesus. That is God’s main will for your life. No circumstance can prevent that.”

No the question is, who does He want me to become? 

He then says, “We all understand that, especially parents. If you’re a parent, would you want the kind of kids you have to tell their whole lives, ‘Wear these clothes. Take these classes. Go to that school. Apply for this job. Marry that person. Purchase this house,’ and you always have them do exactly what you tell them as long as they live? (‘No’ is the correct answer here. No, you wouldn’t want that.) Why? Because your main goal is not for them to be little robots that carry out instructions; your goal is that they become people of great character and judgment. The only way for them to do that is to make lots and lots of decisions. Of course, that means they’ll make a lot of the wrong decisions. That becomes a primary way they learn. Very often God’s will for you will be ‘I want you to decide,’ because decision making is an indispensable part of character formation. God is primarily in the character-forming business, not the circumstance-shaping business. And God is in the open-door business. This means a new way of looking at God. He prefers yes to no. He loves adventure and opportunity. This means a new way of looking at life. I do not have to be afraid of failure. I do not have to live in fear over circumstance. Each moment is an opportunity to look for a door that opens up into God and his presence. This means a new way of looking at myself. I am no longer limited by my smallness and weakness. The God who opens the door to me is also the God who knows how small and weak I am. This means a new way of choosing. I no longer have to live under the tyranny of the perfect choice. God can use even what looks like the ‘wrong door’ if I go through it with the right heart. Our lives are filled with doors.”

I hope that frees you up in the decisions of your life.

So what does this say to you and the situation that you are facing?

Monday, April 20, 2015

“God can open a door for anyone.”

A thought by John Ortberg, (2015-02-24) from his book. All the Places to Go . . . HowWill You Know?: God Has Placed before You an Open Door.  What Will You Do? (p. 7). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Here is the full thought by John, “What a gift to know that open doors are not reserved for the specially talented or the extraordinarily strong. God can open a door for anyone.”

And God writes through the Apostle John in Revelation 3:8 (NIV), “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.”

Now John in his book here quotes one of his college professors, Jerry Hawthorne, who says, “A door is one of the richest images in literature. It can mean safety (‘my door is chained and locked’) or hiddenness (‘no one knows what goes on behind closed doors’). It can mean rejection (‘she shut the door in my face’) or rest (young mothers’ favorite room is the bathroom, where they can close the door and be alone). But in this passage a door means none of those things. Rather, it is an open door, symbolic of boundless opportunities. Of unlimited chances to do something worthwhile; of grand openings into new and unknown adventures of significant living; of heretofore unimagined chances to do good, to make our lives count for eternity.”

And “God can open a door for anyone.”  What an awesome possibility for us all.

As John says, “An open door is the great adventure of life because it means the possibility of being useful to God.”  

Isn't that an exciting possibility for you and me?

Friday, April 17, 2015

“Love does not sustain itself naturally.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex andDating (p. 97). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Have you ever stopped to think about that?  Andy says, “What come naturally are passion, lust, chemistry, and that ‘can’t wait to get you alone’ feeling. But over time, all of that is eventually squashed by our unbridled, selfish, self-preserving natures.”

You see real love is un-natural. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  Andy says, “Do any of these traits come naturally? Granted, we know how to turn them all on when we’re winning and wooing. But love does not sustain itself naturally.”

He continues, “The brand of love Paul describes is a nonnegotiable for those desiring to sustain the chemistry and romance that make the early days of a relationship so exhilarating. Romance is sustained by patience, kindness, humility, and a short memory. While none of those things come naturally, every one of them is necessary. Otherwise our wounds, insecurities, and parental implants will become the driving forces and send the relationship in a bad direction. When that happens, good-bye, chemistry. Good-bye, romance. Hello, I guess I just haven’t met the right person. It’s that kind of thinking that creates the myth. It’s a myth to think that once you meet the right person, you will become a different person. The love of your life should bring out the best in you. But only you can prevent forest fires. Sorry. Only you can prevent your impatience, unkindness, pride, anger, and record keeping from undermining your relationship.”

So we are to do as Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

So are you ready to put away you adolescent view of love and start working at “becoming the person the person you’re looking for is looking for?”