Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Called to Live

  • What's the difference between someone who does a job and someone who enjoys a job?
  • What's the difference between an athlete who gets paid to play a sport and an athlete who has a positive effect on a community?
  • What's the difference between a student who wants to graduate and a student who wants to make a difference?
I suggest to you that the difference is directly proportional to how much a person is willing to humbly submit to the right authority and to readily listen to the unpopular.

  • Is there somebody you work with that stands out as somebody who really enjoys it?
  • Is there an athlete you know of that, if they left their team/community, they would be missed beyond their athletic ability?
  • Is there a student who seems to have another goal beside just getting through school?

Go ahead, ask them, "What is up with you?" (or something like that :-).  Find out who they listen to or what drives them or why they do what they do.

How do you listen, though, when you're not sure anyone worthwhile is speaking?  There were times when God chose to be silent, or very quiet.  For instance, around 1100 B.C., there was a boy named Samuel who was trying to be faithful to this same God, even though he really didn't know much about Him.  Samuel had no idea what it meant to listen to God, or whether God spoke at all, or THAT He would speak directly to him.  Yet he did!  Why?  We don't know for sure, but I can say, for sure,  that God has never, nor will He ever, leave His creation high and dry, to fend for themselves, without an answer.

We also are able to witness, in I Samuel, chapter 3, that Samuel had what God was looking for (and still looks for today) - a humble attitude and an ear ready to hear anything.  Granted, it took until the 4th try for Samuel to actually know that it was God;  then, though, he responded immediately and proved that he listened mainly to . . . someone else.  This chapter holds the details of Samuel's "calling" and sets the stage for the life of a man who didn't do things unless God told him and who did do the things that hardly anybody else in his day was thinking about.

We, as human beings, are called to live life to the full and, based on the truth about our beginnings, this full life can only come when God is the one we're following, seeking, and honoring.  Here's where life becomes something that we LIVE, not just DO:  "Whoever tries to keep his life will lost it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it" (Luke 17:33).  First, give up trying to solve everything on your own, especially the whole mess about what happens after we die - give it all up to God, make it all about Jesus and his death on the cross in our place, and allow Him to be Who it all depends on.  I know it's hard, I know it's not natural, and I know it speaks against almost everything inside of us - yes, it's the epitomy of an humble heart.  Second, be in a posture and habit and attitude of readiness to hear anything from someone else (your Creator, Savior, and Sustainer), for daily direction.  Remember, you did not choose to live, you aren't here by chance, and you are known.  Therefore, you are CALLED TO LIVE, by a personal God, for a specific purpose, to a specific place, with only Him to please (oh, and, remember, He already loves you loads).

I am free, then, to live life to the full because it's all for Him.  He'll take care of my needs, my significance, and what ultimately happens to me as an employee, an athlete, a student, a homemaker, a wife, a dad . . . you get it!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Beauty of Submission

I can hardly wait 'til I meet with John, because I know he's going to confront me on my gambling problem, which I don't think is a problem.  In fact, I'm really looking forward to hear his side of the debate on whether it's a sin or not to spend hundreds of dollars on these sites, which is just another form of entertainment, really! 

Does this quote look familiar?  Probably not.  If we're involved in something that may or may not be wrong, yet enjoy it and justify it's existence, the last thing we invite is someone's opinion that it's an outright SIN.  I mean, how rude of them, right!  When is it right, if ever, to confront someone with questionable behavior?

Allow me to give you another sports analogy.  A professional baseball player is going through a hitting slump (all of them do, by the way).  At the same time, the hitting coach notices that he is reverting back to some old habits that are contributing to the slump.  What is the coach's responsibility, at this point?  Some would say that it depends on who the batter is and on what kind of instruction this coach has provided in the past for this batter.  Some would say that, since he's the hitting coach, he has the right and obligation to approach the batter and explain what he sees.  Somehow, someway, he does need to let it be known what is clear to him even if these things are undetected by the batter or even others.  One main reason is because THAT IS WHAT HE'S THERE FOR!

Now, the batter has a choice as to what he does with this information.  The beautiful, attractive part of him deciding to listen and put into action what the hitting coach says is that he is willingly saying, "I don't have all the answers and I need others to help me." As a result, the other players see his example of humility (always beneficial), the team benefits from his increased production, and the hitting coach is affirmed in his role, giving him more confidence and courage to address other things that his hitters are doing wrong.

A church, in the true, biblical definition of the word, is a gathering of people who are like-minded about who Jesus is and what He accomplished on the cross and in his resurrection.  It's a group of people who all recognize their need for Jesus' death to cover the consequences of their sin (eternal death and punishment in hell) and their need for Him to give them power over the daily struggle with sin.  This is why the Bible gives over 40 direct commands relating to "one another."  A church that gathers without submitting to each other or supporting leadership that can wisely address sin is not, technically, a God-honoring church.  Rather, it become a club where each person has their own interests in mind or a service organization where they provide physical help without offering any spiritual help.

Again, the beauty of a group of people submitting to one another and it's affirmed leadership can be equated to the beauty of a team where each person practices hard, knows their role, and corrects their issues so that the whole team is seen as a "well-oiled machine" by the end of the season.  It's beautiful because it's a WHOLE, not just a bunch of individuals.  It's beautiful because people learn to look out for each other.  It's beautiful because THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH IS THERE FOR! 

As a conclusion, let it be noted that when submission is ugly, it's because, in our first example, the player wants to do it himself and refuses (either passively or actively) or the coach demands change or simply does not seek input from others or the player.  In both cases, there is no submission, only rebellion or heavy-handedness.

So, first submit yourself to Jesus Christ, acknowledging your sin and need for Him as Savior.  Next, submit yourself to a God-fearing, Bible-driven, Jesus-honoring group of believers by committing to a local church.  The beauty that is produced will be truly amazing!

Monday, May 18, 2015

The importance of EQ

On the website for the Institute for Health and Human Potential (IHHP), I took their Emotional Intelligence (EQ) quiz.  I was congratulated for having high emotional intelligence!  Yea!  The way my emotions fluctuate from day-to-day, and even hour-to-hour some days, I wonder how people manage with low EQ.  Anyway, they gave me some good advice in the midst of my results:
Areas to work on: While you are doing well, don’t forget to take time out of your busy day-to-day activities to stop and reflect on what brings you the greatest meaning in your life. If we fail to do this on a regular basis, we risk becoming tranquilized by the trivial, sedated by the small details.

Here's the rub:  What if what brings the greatest meaning to my life is in direct conflict with what brings the greatest meaning to your life?  What if my wife derives great meaning from settling down in a small town and I derive great meaning from thriving in a big city?  Oh, so my wife, then, ought to be the greatest meaning in my life so that there's never a question of the two of us being in conflict, right?  What if her EQ is much different than mine and I start relating better with someone else?  What then?

Because EQ is so closely related to key relationships, and our relational needs are God-given, I am a firm believer that our spirituality must be a key component to how we process our emotions.  Because there is ONE Creator (work with me, here) then there is a certain, all-encompassing truth that each of us can subscribe to that will guarantee that my "great meaning in life" will dovetail beautifully with yours.  Pete Scazzero, through his Emotionally Healthy Spirituality website and ministry, teaches and trains others to teach the truths that we start with a right relationship with our Creator and then take that relationship into working on our right relationships with others, starting with those closest to us.

From IHHP.com to 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to Dr. Phil, the truth of who we are, how we are made, and what makes us successful is deeply rooted in our Creator, whether these popular resources and people publically acknowledge it or not.  Go ahead, take any good advice that "proven" or pop psychology promotes and compare it to what God says in the Bible.  If it doesn't match, proceed with much caution, and if it matches, acknowledge the Inventor of that truth and run with it under God's guidance.

Back to the aforementioned rub.  Read the last part of the IHHP website quote above.  If we fail to, individually and together, reflect on our dependence on God and our need for salvation through Jesus Christ, "we risk becoming tranquilized by the trivial, sedated by the small details."  Where we live, what we sacrifice for our spouse, and how we give of our time and resources truly becomes no big deal because we've reflected on and understand the big picture which God is already orchestrating.

EQ is important, but only as far as we are willing to process it in light of our relationship with God.  Increasing EQ without God is like increasing IQ without thinking.  Think about it.