All posts in Attitude

The Journey

There is a new commercial out by the transportation company Lyft.  It says that “It’s not where you’re going that matters; it’s how you get there!”  I wonder about that…  It seems to me that both the journey and the destination are important, but for very different reasons.

The Journey

Man Standing At Beginning Of Winding Road — Image by © Images.com/Corbis

One of my dearest friends in the world is suffering right now and has been for an extended period of time.  He is stressed financially and at 65 years old has little hope of recovering, save a miracle.  His family is in conflict and can’t get along; The hurricanes of recent have messed with his house. His insurance it threatening to cancel and he just found out that his wife has breast cancer and she only gets 2 weeks of paid absence from work; not to mention that they have a $6k deductible on their health insurance.  He has asked me, “Can it get any worse?”  Yes, it can get worse, but it sure doesn’t feel like that is possible from his perspective right now.  Plenty of people have it worse off, but this is a very heavy load and it makes a person wonder about the efficacy of prayer and whether God really cares.

The Destination

On the other hand, if all we ever worried about was what goes on in this fallen world, then we would be very short-sighted, wouldn’t we?  Paul said it best when he said,

“If in this life only we have hope, we are of all creatures, most miserable!”

~ 1 Corinthians 15:19 ~

For many, the hope of eternity with God is all they have to justify the suffering in this life.  However most Americans, even in the worst situation, live like kings compared to the rest of the world. And if you are a Christian, you believe that God is preparing a place for us where we will be eternally happy, safe and secure.  Consider these great promises from the very lips of Jesus:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you that where I am, there you may be also.”

~ John 14:2 ~

And the Apostle Paul assured us …

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard the things which God has prepared for those who love Him!”

~ 1 Corinthians 2:9 ~

This brings up a foundational question:  Do you love God?  We don’t need to waste our time asking whether He loves us, because He already told (and showed) us that was the case.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but has everlasting life.”

~ 1 John 3:16 ~

So why do we suffer?  Volumes have been written on this subject, but let’s consider a few answers and see if they satisfy our need to understand God’s ways:

  1. This world is fallen …
  2. We may need correction …
  3. We are being prepared for our future assignment …
  4. Suffering builds our faith …
  5. Others are watching how we react …
  6. Suffering may be the first necessary step to getting to success …
  7. The answer from God is either No or Not now …

Now look back on some of your sufferings and ask yourself if those thoughts help in any way?  If they don’t, then I would offer an additional thought to consider that we can only take in by faith:  If we knew what God knows, everything would make sense; therefore trust God!

Do you consider God trustworthy?  That is what it all boils down to … Is He as good as His Word?  Your answer to that particular question is the most important decision you will ever make.  God loves you and demonstrated that on the cross of Calvary.  That is a hard fact you can take to the bank.  Trust in God and in the end you will be glad for every step He has taken you on in your journey; no matter how rocky the road.  I can personally attest to God’s faithfulness in my life and hope you can too.

Scripture tells us that King David was a man after God’s own heart.  Here is what he was thinking as he went through some very troubling times in his life.  I pray it will help you as it has helped me when I had to look up to see bottom.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

~ Psalm 23 (NIV) ~

 

 

What’s In A Name?

Today I met a young man who had a very unusual name. It caused me to ask him about where he was from and to engage him in a conversation. Dale Carnegie said that a person’s name was the most beautiful thing they could ever hope to hear. I have found that asking a person about their name is an excellent place to start a conversation.

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

As we spoke (he was driving me someplace and we were drawing closer and closer to our destination) I popped a couple of questions:  “Have you ever thought about your spiritual life?” Then a second question –  I asked my new friend if he was a Christian or Muslim or had any faith at all?  He told me that his parents were Christians but that he was not very religious. So I asked him to consider something hypothetical. “If you found a watch laying on the sidewalk wouldn’t that tell you that there was someone someplace who had placed it there? And what about this car we’re driving in; Someone had to make it. It didn’t just happen all by itself. Consider how complex the human body is or the world we live in; Doesn’t it suggest that there must be a creative mind behind it?  And if there is a supreme being out there who created all of this, wouldn’t he get in touch with us? Wouldn’t it be his desire to connect with us and tell us about himself? That’s why God sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world – to enable us to know Him and to experience a relationship with Him.”

I WAS NAMED AFTER THE PROPHET, NOT THE TRIBE

My new friend stopped for a second to consider what I had shared with him. He told me that he agreed with what I said and asked me what my name was? I told him my name was Daniel and that I was named after the prophet and not the Jewish tribe in the Bible…We both laughed!

I look forward to talking with him again and It all started because I asked him about his name.

Scripture says that someday God will give us a new name in heaven. I believe He will name us according to our assignment and faithfulness to it here on earth – that’s just my guess and remains to be seen, but I know there’s a lot to the name that we carry. God re-named the Apostle Peter and when He gave Peter his new name he said,  “On this rock (his new name meant ROCK) I will build my church.” God renamed many people throughout Scripture according to their task or their mission. What kind of name do you expect to have in eternity? I hope mine won’t be Ichabod.

What’s in a name?  Everything! It might be the very means God has given you to crack a cold heart so He can break through!

“Therefore God exalted Him (Jesus) to the highest place, and gave Him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” ~ Philippians 2:9-11

TRANSFORMED


Not long ago as a result of her transformation, Caitlyn Jenner was thrust into the spotlight and according to the sports network ESPN, instantaneously became one of the great “heroes” of our time for coming out as a woman in a man’s body.

Jenner claims to have been confused about his/her gender identity since earliest youth but finally mustered the courage to make an outward change more accurately reflecting the true inner self clothed in the wrong body.

My purpose is not to degrade Jenner or to even enter into judgment about the gender decisions made, but to use this situation as an illustration of something deeper and far more widespread than we imagine.  Who are you – really?

Principally we are a living soul housed in a physical body. We read in the first book of the Bible that “God created us as a living soul.” God freely offers all of us the opportunity to be truly TRANSFORMED in even a more dramatic fashion than anything Jenner has embraced or even considered. This truth is vitally relevant to all of us and can forever change you into someone entirely new.

It is generally acknowledged that we are more than mere animals at the top of the food chain. In fact, Christian Scripture declares that we are the height of God’s creation and embody His image in that we are Body, Soul and Spirit – 3 parts representing the triune God.

“God made man and breathed into him and he became a living soul.” ~ Genesis 2:7

When man fell from his original perfect state by asserting his independence from God, his soul was condemned and he was utterly lost.  All of humankind was banned from God’s presence and heaven forever.  Even worse, we are unable to remedy this calamity on our own; just as a sick person cannot heal themselves without outside intervention. We now need an external source of help to bring us back to God and our original relationship with Him. We cannot fix ourself by trying harder. We need a Savior to come to our aid.

Jenner is trying to do what all of us try to do… to fill the emptiness inside by making external changes, but this is a futile quest.  We must be made over from the inside out, not the outside in.  We need a spiritual adjustment.  We must be transformed… from what we are … to what we were meant to be and can become again. We must be made over into something new and only God has the power to do that.

Do you have a desire you cannot control or maybe you have a habit that dominates your life, or an insecurity that makes you react too strongly? We all have something we want to change about ourself. The question we must ask is; “How can I make that change?”

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.  The old things are passed away and now everything has become new.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus was God incarnate (God in a human body). It was God’s plan to become a man, enter human history, show us what we were intended to be like, sacrifice His perfect life as a payment for our imperfect lives and then defeat death on our behalf so that whoever put their trust in Him could be transformed into something new – both inwardly and outwardly. Through Jesus Christ alone, we can be made new and be restored to our intended relationship with our Heavenly Father. Are you willing to let Him transform you?

“Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the father except through me.” ~ John 14:6

How can we be transformed? It’s very simple: We must acknowledge our need, tell God we are sorry for our independence and ask Him to save us from the certain eternal separation that awaits all those who go their own way apart from Him.

Two things happen when we are transformed

  1. Our standing before God is transformed. We get a new beginning and fresh start.  It’s a free ‘do-over’ from God: A gift which Jesus paid for and gives to us freely just for asking. When we receive Christ as our savior, God now sees the perfection of Jesus instead of our rebellion and independence. As followers of Christ, we literally ‘put on” Jesus like a covering over our sin and it is hidden forever!
  2. Our current condition and state of being are transformed. God changes our:  will (we will want new things); intellect (we will think in new ways); emotion (we will respond differently than before)

In summary, God makes us over.  We still live in an imperfect and fallen world, but we ourselves and our future are being and will be forever changed.

“I beg you brothers that you present your body to Christ as a living sacrifice – holy and acceptable to God. And do not be conformed to this world (don’t let it press you into its mold),  but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may demonstrate what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” ~ Romans 12:1-2

RUN THE RACE GOD HAS SET BEFORE YOU!

“But after God’s Spirit comes upon you, you shall receive power and you will be my witnesses wherever you go.” ~ Acts 1:8

T – take your problems to God.  He loves you!

R – remember that you are unable to solve your issues without external help from God.

A – ask Jesus to be your Savior. Confess your sin and turn your back on it. That is why Christ suffered and died on

the cross.

N – never despair. When you are feeling defeated – go to God for strength and encouragement.

S – sin no more.  Tell God that you are determined to follow his ways and allow Him to set you free.

F – forget your failures in the past.  Jesus gives you a new start.

O – offer encouragement to others.  No matter how bad our situation may be, there is always someone who is even

more in need of help than we are.

R – rejoice in your deliverance.  Thank God for coming to your aid.

M – memorize a few Bible verses that will keep you on track. Claim God’s promises as true in your life no matter how

things may appear on the surface.

E – expect a miraculous change to take place. Miracles are God’s specialty.

D – demonstrate your transformation by your obedience to God and by following Him daily.

Wouldn’t you rather be what GOD can change you into? Trust Him to transform you.  All you need to do is ask.

“Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” ~ Romans 10:13. Acts 2:21, Joel 2:32 

PRAY A PRAYER LIKE THIS FROM YOUR LIPS TO GOD’S EARS

God in Heaven, I confess my sin and need for a Savior.  I realize that only You can truly transform me and make me over into what You want me to be.  Please come into my heart right now and make me a new person.  I believe You will change me inside and out.  I ask You to make me over in the powerful name of Jesus Christ Your Son.

Cast Aside

A recent issue of National Geographic Magazine disclosed that Michelangelo’s great work, entitled David, the 17 foot tall masterpiece carved out of a single block of marble, was fashioned out of material that other artists had discarded because they deemed it unfit to work with. Today this work resounds in history as one of the most outstanding artistic creations ever fashioned by man. This reminds me of what the Psalmist prophesied concerning Jesus.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” ~ Psalm 118:22-23

This story is replete with irony in that King David, who was the subject matter of Michelangelo’s creation, was also a flawed man.  He was a poor father, an adulterer and even a murderer but God had a plan that superseded David’s shortcomings.  What enabled the fulfillment of this master plan despite David’s weaknesses? The answer is revealed in the New Testament book of Acts (13:22) where we read that David sought with all of his heart to follow God.  He failed often but his failures were not fatal.

God had a plan for His beloved Son Jesus as well, which was established in eternity past and no one could negate it; not even all the demons of Hell. The crucifixion of Christ made it seem to some that Jesus had not succeeded in His mission. But just the opposite was true.  For had not Christ suffered and died on our behalf, there would never have been the redemption of humanity. What may look like failure to men often looks very different from God’s vantage point.

In the same way God has a plan for you and me. What He has in His heart to perform will come about no matter how unlikely it may seem to us. You have tremendous potential and purpose that is uniquely designed for your life. Knowing God and fellowshipping with Him will allow you to participate in God’s plan to the fullest extent possible so that not only does His plan come about, but it will be beneficial to the greatest possible extent. Don’t run from God’s will or merely accept it; embrace it with all your heart!

God never makes a mistake and even our greatest failures have been accounted for in His master plan. Take heart. You will never be cast aside if you belong to God.  Dedicate yourself to serving Him as did both King David and Jesus – his Greater Son.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”

~ Psalm 37:23-24 (KJV)

The Most Important Question

If I were to give you the opportunity to ask one question and only one question of God, what would it be?  I’m not talking about making a prayer request but an honest inquiry about something you do not know…

The most important question that I can think of is, “How should I be spending my time?” Or another way of phrasing it would be, “Am I doing that which is most important and has eternal significance?”  I try to begin and end every day by thinking on this subject. There are so many things that crop up in each of our lives to distract us from what is truly important. Of course we have obligations and work to perform, but even choices we make in regard to these subjects could be better directed by asking ourselves if this is truly important or if it is just routine and habit?

What were God’s priorities for His Son while He walked the face of the earth? He had a particular mission that was different than ours (the redemption of humanity and payment for our sin so that we could be right with His Father), but inherent in His unique mission was His interest in other people. He healed the sick, preached the Good News and most importantly loved others. How are you doing in those areas? Is your life all about you or is it focused on the needs of others?

There’s a woman who runs the cash register at a store where I meet with someone on a regular basis and her name is Joy. She didn’t know it, but her name reminded me of a song I learned as a young boy. It went like this: “Jesus and Others and You… what a wonderful way to spell JOY!”

How are you doing at putting Jesus and Others ahead of Yourself? That is the true path to doing what really matters. That is how you can do what is eternally significant. That is the most important question.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” ~ Luke 10:27

Attitude Determines Altitude

The Way Up Is Down …

You have heard that attitude is everything … right?  Well it’s true!   Let me tell you why that is so.  Psychologists tell us that it is not actual reality but how we perceive reality that is the most important factor.

In our model Jesus, we can see this perfect example.

Philippians 2:5-11 (KJV)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What words come to mind as you meditate on this passage?  Humility…  surrender… exaltation… those are some which come to mind for me.  Let me answer my question with another question:  How was it possible for Christ (the God-man) to be so yielded to God that he could be perfectly aligned with his Father’s will?  Set aside, if you can, the fact that he himself was God and concentrate on the fact that he was also fully man.  What can you and I learn from His example?  Can we get to a place in our personal life where we are fully directed by the will of God?  And if we can arrive at this place, how can we achieve this depth of Christian life? Do we even want to follow Christ that closely?

Paul said that he wanted this kind of walk with Jehovah God.

Philippians 3:10-12 (KJV)

1That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Let us join Paul in making this our goal and pursuit.  God is willing if we are. Do you believe that?  What stands in our way?  If we begin with the attitude of Christ and believe that no price is too high, we are well on our way to the heights which only heaven can offer.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” ~ Philippians 4:13

Where would you like to start in your own life? Let’s begin by listing the top 3 or 4 areas of our life where we tend to be least spiritually submissive to God. What kind of strategy can we put into place to move us in the right direction? Do you have an accountability structure? Can you memorize Scripture that references your battles? What other ideas can we build into our life to assist in this pursuit? Give this discussion serious consideration because your attitude will determine your altitude.