Saturday, November 24, 2012

Walking In The Fire

Just recently it was pointed out to me that what appeared to be something was really not what it appeared to be after all. Ever been accused of something that just was the furthest thing from the truth? I have! Stephen Covey in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” shares a story of a man and his two young boys on a subway. The story basically goes something like this. A man and his two boys got on a subway and as the father sat down the two boys began running around and acting up making the passengers uncomfortable. The dad seemed to be oblivious to the fact that his boys were making a ruckus and causing the other riders to be very distressed and even highly annoyed. After a short while Stephen who became agitated and even angry that this dad was not even paying attention to his own children approached the dad wanting to scold him for his misbehaving children and confronted the ‘irresponsible’ dad. After he confronted the man, the dad apologized for his boys behavior and for not keeping them in line but said his mind was on the fact that his wife, their mother had just died at the hospital. For what had seemed to be a careless father with rude children actually turned out to be a totally different situation all together.

How many times will someone see a situation in another person’s life and make a ‘judgment call’ on that person. For instance, how many are quick to judge someone’s motive or actions based upon what ‘appears’ to be the truth. How many react with condemnation or criticism when they see someone stumble in the faith or maybe act or respond differently than what they think a ‘Christian’ should. Just maybe the person is struggling and growing in his faith and does make a mistake or isn’t mature enough to do the ‘right thing’ at this point in his Christian faith. Maybe it could be that the one being judged truly is walking with God and walking by faith IN THE FIRE! Sometimes God takes us through the fire with Him to teach us, to show us, and ultimately to change us. Walking in the fire with Jesus is going to be tough, hard, and at times painful! It’s during these times that God ‘refines’ His children and consequently those ‘ugly’ things, the ‘chaff’ float to the top and become visible to all around. These are painful times and yes, during these times we should respond to God’s refining work in good and positive ways. Sometimes our responses might appear to some as being wrong or undignified and even ‘unchristian’. Can you imagine Peter when he cut Malchus’ ear off? It’s obvious that Peter wasn’t seeking cut off his ear. He actually was aiming for his head! Certainly this wasn’t a very ‘Christian’ thing to do was it? Surely a disciple of Jesus would not want to hurt someone! A nice Christian would never do such a thing as this would he? The fact is Peter was close to the Lord, growing in his faith, and following Jesus! It happens like this still today. Many will unfortunately ‘misread’ and ‘misjudge’ situations like these. Now there are times, because of habit that we react instead of respond and sometimes we react in negative and even wrong or sinful ways. This doesn’t mean that we’ve backslidden and are living in rebellion and open sin or that Satan has taken over. It just means that we have stumbled as we follow the Lord on this road of faith. The road that at times that takes us through the fire! Walking in the fire with Jesus will be hard and it will get hot and you will stumble, fall, and even sin!
Even so, walk on!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Is anyone really happy today? Really! From social media to walking in a local Wal-Mart it appears that many just are not happy. So much of the complaining and the negativity floating around out there is a pretty good indicator that many are flat out miserable. The scowls and frowns on the faces I see are discouraging to the say the least! One study has the United States as being tied with France when it comes to the happiness countries. The sad fact that we are tied for 13th place! Wow! That is certainly nothing to be happy about.

Merriam-Webster defines happiness as ‘a state of wellbeing and contentment’. Hmmm… Very interesting indeed.

The fact of the matter is that here in the United States of America, we have been blessed beyond measure and have so much to be thankful for yet we are not happy and we tend to want even more. Even those who are considered poor have the ‘niceties’ of life. On top of the basics; food, shelter, and clothing most everyone has a cell phone, television, and Internet service. The majority of people have so much more than those things, yet so many are still unhappy.

I find this a little unsettling but I am reminded that real happiness was never intended to be found in possessions or even in blessings. Things, status, and achievement were never intended to bring happiness yet most of us live life just the opposite. We have bought into the lie that if we can only get the right toys (car, truck, clothes, ‘bling’, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, family, etc.), reach a certain status (fame, position, popularity), or only do something grand (win the Lottery, be promoted to a great job, etc.) that we will finally arrive at ‘that place’ and we will then be HAPPY and live Happily Ever After!!! WOOHOO! Right? WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having possessions, desiring to better one’s self, or even to become famous, but if these things are sought out with the hopes of finding happiness then disappointment shall follow. A sense of accomplishment can be felt, excitement can be experienced, and even a momentary rush of ecstatic celebration, yet these things are short-lived and cannot be held. They will dissipate as smoke from a dying fire. It’s only momentary.

Happiness is something that we all seek. The only problem is that we simply seek for it in the wrong things. Happiness is a gift that can only come from the giver of that gift and not in things.  To expand Merriam-Webster’s definition, happiness is that state of being satisfied with ‘who’ you are based upon ‘Whose you are’ and in that that you are ‘favored and loved’.

Inside of every person is that innate desire to be wanted. Some may say it is to be loved while others say it is to be respected, but I have found that the greatest desire is simply to be wanted by someone else. This inherent desire was placed inside of us by our very own Creator, God Himself. In creating us, God placed this overwhelming desire to be wanted and to be desired by Him! This sounds so elementary and simple and maybe it is but I find that so many miss it. Even though many people seek for it in church and ‘churchy stuff’, just as happiness is not found in material things it is not found in religion or religious practices either. Many attempt to find it there and many claim to find it but in reality they don’t. Happiness is as easy as discovering AND living life from the vantage point that we are truly wanted by God Himself! God wants us, He loves us, AND He favors us! God really is crazy about us and He desires that we truly experience real happiness and experience it to the fullest! Happiness, that state of being content and fulfilled, comes only when we live life the way it was intended. Happiness is life lived to the fullest in God. Nothing! Absolutely nothing else will work!


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