What If People Knew About My Failures

What if People knew about my failures

What if People knew about my failures?

Newsflash, they probably already do.  No not all of them, but some people know.  We can’t hide ourselves successfully from everyone.  And especially not God.

So why do we feel the need to hide are failures?  We’re afraid others will think less of us.  Sure.  And maybe they will.  But isn’t it more important what God thinks of us?  He knows anyway.  But He wants us to fess up.  Not just so we can be humbled, although that’s not a bad thing; but mainly so we can be healed.

What if People knew about my failuresConfess your faults one to another so you can be saved (made whole or healed).  Good advice now.  It’s the enemy who wants to keep it all in the dark.  And convince us to hide it all inside.  God wants us to say out loud to Him and ask in Jesus’ name for forgiveness.  And guess what?  He does.  He is faithful and just to forgive us of all our unrighteousness.  Because that what He does.  All the time.  Every time we ask.

So embrace healing.  Confess to God.  And don’t even be afraid to confess to other mature brothers and sisters in Christ.  There’s freedom in confession.  What’s brought out in the light can be healed.  And who cares what others think?  Isn’t healing more important?  Isn’t God’s plan for us more important?

If you’re afraid what people think of you, remember that fear of man’s opinions disables or paralyzes, but God delivers us from that.  He gives us freedom to run with Him in wide open spaces of His Grace.

 

 

So, when thinking about confession, and people’s opinions, here’s how it goes much of the time:

1% will make fun of you
1% will judge you
1% will encourage you
97% won’t notice or care

But there’s a 100% chance God will notice, care, and love you, and help you through.

Finally, this joke helps me:

When you’re 20, you care what everybody thinks of you.

When you’re 40, you don’t care what everybody thinks of you.

When you’re 60, you realize ain’t nobody thinking of you 😊

Remember it’s just a joke.  Cause God is always thinking of you, and He’s crazy about you.

-J.B.

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Why Failure is So Important

Why Failure is so important

Why failure is so important

When I was about 12 years old, my parents signed me up for the swim team.  Being raised in Florida I was no stranger to the water, and thought myself a good swimmer.  But the first week of practice was a bit of a shock.  I lacked skill and stamina.  Sure I could keep my head above water, but by comparison I was an aquatic newbie.  The exercises were hard, and the pool got longer and longer.  Like a belly flop from the high-dive, my pathetic performance slapped me hard.  Then came the sinking feelings of inferiority.  And it wasn’t just in my head.  I didn’t have what it took to compete, even against 12 year olds.

Why Failure is so important

Twice my lifetime later, when I was about 24, my company gave me the opportunity to fly to the East Coast to conduct a sales presentation to a group of accountants.  These were veteran CPAs and bookkeepers.  And yours truly was demonstrating the new accounting software.  I prayed the laptop didn’t crash.  I wish I’d paid more attention in the training sessions.  My 90 minute presentation felt like crossing the English Channel.  I floundered.  I sucked.  They left.  No one bought.

I got a lot more stories like this.  Thankfully I’ve got some more enjoyable ones too.  But I’ve learned that if I’m not careful, the failure experiences can add up in my mind.  It’s easy to put too much weight on failure.  The key is to learn from failure, and move on, choosing not to live it over and over.  Failure is part of life.  And in perspective it can help us live a more balanced life.  We should not, afterall, think of ourselves more highly than we should.

So here’s a few things I’ve learned about failure:

Failure can be good.  If we learn from it, we can get better.  And we don’t have to keep making the same mistakes over and over.  We can grow.

Failure reminds us we are still students.  Life can be a great teacher.  So it’s healthy to adopt a teachable attitude, so we can learn lessons from our everyday experience.

Failure is like fire.  It can be useful if managed properly.  And sometimes it’s best not to process this alone.  The greater the severity, the more skilled help you may need.  If you’re not careful it could get out of hand.

Failure reminds us the world does not revolve around us.  Other people matter.  How we treat others matters.  Perhaps we should be more considerate in the future.  If we want real, lasting, loving relationships, don’t be an egomaniac.

Failure makes success sweeter.  What’s easy isn’t valued.  What’s rare or hard is precious.  Quality takes practice and persistence.  Craftsmanship is never an overnight cram session.  Only after much trial and toil is quality produced, and success within reach.

Failure brings priorities into focus.  What’s really important to us?  Maybe the U.S. Swim Team is not in your future.  Fine, well now you know.  Be willing to try.  Risk failure.  And find out what you like, what you love, and what your priorities really are.

Failure challenges misconceptions.  I thought it would be easy until I saw how high the bar was set.  I thought I could speed and not get caught.  I thought I was a great public speaker.  I thought I was indispensable to my boss.  Etc etc.  Healthy perspectives come from both success and failure.  And we should be able to view our lives through the lenses of both.

 

Why Ego Makes Us Stupid

Ego makes us stupid

Ego Makes Us Stupid

Ego is like a fart which everyone smells except the owner. And we all do it. Yet often, the more flagrant our ego, the last we are to realize it. And when we do realize it, we usually try to deny it. Like reaching for the deodorant, our first reaction is to cover it up. And why? Because we think our ego is a part of us. And any negative reaction by others is a commentary on our person.

But it’s self-limiting to equate ego with who we really are. We are more than our bad manners, and we can learn to be more considerate of others. It’s smart to realize the whole world does not revolve around us. And, more importantly, that other people are not there just to cater to us. When we realize this, we are able to see ourselves and others in a healthier way. It’s good to want to be healthier. And smart for us to grow in this way. If we don’t, we won’t outgrow egocentric limitations and will continue to wonder why everyone else holds their nose in our presence.

Ego makes us stupid

But you may say, there’s lots of successful people with big egos, and look at them, they have a great life.  Well, it’s not true.  They may have a certain ability to project other traits which mask their ego, or enough money to attract things which seem to prove their merit; but, in the end, the quality of their life is not what it could be.  And often, their close relationships suffer. And sometimes irreparable damage separates them from friends and family.

Nope, it’s not smart to nurture an ego. But why do so many of us suffer with one, when it seems so stupid to hold on to? It’s because we are creatures of habit. We walk the same pathways in our minds because it’s easier footing than to try and forge new trails. And by continual use we convince ourselves that this path, simply because it exists and even perhaps that it has served us well in the past, is the best way to go. We buy our own delusion. We accept our contorted rationale as brilliance, which others haven’t aspired to yet. We tell ourselves our thinking is right, when in fact it’s wrong. Thinking we know best, we have become stupid.

ego-makes-us-stupidThe ancient scriptures caution us against stupidity, or being headstrong lest we travel down perilous paths.  “Do not be like the horse or mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle.” Literally, if we are not reined in, we will wander off in desperate attempts to satisfy our own lusts, and fall prey to our own devices.  Yes, we have a will.  Yes it’s our life, and we can choose to live how we want. But it is foolish to do so. Restraints can save us from harm, from getting lost, from being unproductive. If ego is not restrained it runs amuck.

The last time I checked, the mule is not that smart. It is stubborn. It seeks its own way, and often without contemplation. Sometimes you have to beat it, to make it mind. Ego is like the mule in our heads. Best we learn to kick our own ass, before life does it for us. Smarter this way. So try some humble pie. Humility is a great tonic. Ask God for help. He always listens. And He knows best how to gently lead us down healthier paths.

 

 

Finding a Mentor, When There Isn’t One

finding a mentor

 

Finding a Mentor, When There Isn’t One

Finding mentors is hard for me.  Maybe I’m a bit different.  Or maybe I’m just too much of a jerk.  Either way, when I look around for older wiser Christian men who might be a little further along, I don’t see many who might want to help me.

So if you feel the same way, here’s a few tips:

First, we should all seek out mentors.  Mentors help us.  They can shorten our learning curve, point the way, and mostly help steer us out of the ditches.  Trying to do it our own way is a recipe for hard breaks.  Being a self-made man usually means being too stubborn to learn from others.  Thinking we know better is just pride.  Get used to falling a lot.

finding a mentor

Second, it’s false to think there aren’t any mentors out there.  No matter what you’re in to, or want to do, there’s plenty of others who have been down that road before.  Sorry snowflake, but you’re not really that unique.  We’re all people, or at least most of us.  And everyone I’ve ever met suffers from the condition of being human.  We have more in common than we often realize.  So there’s always another human being out there who can relate to you, and help you.

Next, yes sometimes we are a little different than the norm.  And if that’s you, fine.  I’m different too; and don’t relate to the average guy very well.  Still, there are plenty of guys I can relate too.  And so can you.  Just realize it might be a smaller pool you’re swimming in, but you can find better fish than you.  They are out there.  And you can model yourself after them.

Be purposeful and persistent.  Not every candidate for a mentor is actually going to be your mentor.  They may turn out not to be a good fit.  They may not be interested or accessible.  Fine.  Reach out to the next one on your list.  It takes some thought and commitment to seek and select a mentor.  You usually won’t get lucky on your first few attempts.  So, it’s a long-term goal.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast, and this guy’s name was mentioned.  I googled him.  Come to find out, he lives near me.  I’m skimming his blog, his facebook posts.  Then messaging and chatting.  Then setting up a coffee.  That’s how it works.  Maybe for you it’s twitter.  Or asking around at church.  Whatever.  Just take action.  Make some inquiries.  Seek and you shall find.

 

Who Should a Christian Vote for President?

Who Should a Christian Vote for President

Who Should a Christian Vote for President?

There is no one right answer to the question who should a Christian vote for President of the United States?  That said, there is a good way to prayfully answer this question.  And, I will give you my answer for who I’m voting for. 

Like it or not, we have two political parties in the U.S.  Although I may like aspects of the Independent or Libertarian parties, they do not, in fact, elect the President.  Only two parties, the Democrats and Republicans elect the President and major offices.  If this changes, I’ll be glad to change; but for now these are the options we got. 

First, the Dems.  As a Christian it is hard to find the rationale for voting Democrat in any State or National election.  There may be some exceptions for individual local candidates.  However, for Congress, the Senate, and the President there is hardly a Biblical basis for voting Democrat.  I know some people have familiar and traditional ties to the party.  But parties change.  And when a party blatantly departs from Biblical standards, then as a Christian you must depart from that party.  One individual candidate may have their own personal views, but as a party at large, there are certain principles they expose.  This is the party platform.  And usually a party votes in line with the platform.  As a Christian I believe it is a matter of priorities.  I believe moral issues trump economic and social issues.  The Democratic partly supports abortion and planned parenthood.  They support gay marriage.  Therefore, as a Christian, I cannot support the Dems.

Next, the GOP.  There is no Christian party.  The GOP is not a Christian party.  But the GOP is less diabolical than then Dems.  The Republican party does not support abortion or planned parenthood.  The GOP supports traditional marriage.  (See page 31)  That’s enough for me.  Sure we can talk about the economy and Constitutional issues.  Sure we can talk about Big Government or Small Government.  We can talk about Federal versus State control.  But again, as a Christian our priorities should be for freedom of worship, and the sanctity of life.  It’s hard to profess devotion to Christ and say the economy is the most important issue.  I think Jesus would disagree.  It’s also hard to say that one party is more benevolent to the poor or underserved.  Both parties, regardless of what they say, are committed to maintaining their political power and control.  They are not motivated to helping those in need, but only convincing those in need to vote for them. 

As a Christian I must vote for the lesser of two evils.  Right now that is for the Republicans.  So I will vote for whomever the GOP nominate.  If the GOP were to change, then I may change.  And perhaps not vote at all, or vote for another party.  As of now, we still do have some clear differences on moral principles, and so this makes it an easy decision.  Notice, I do not vote out of tradition, or self-interest, or family ties.  My grandparents were democrats.  My parents were for much of their lives too.  But this is not how God wants me to decide to vote.  And nor should you. 

Some Christians argue that we should not try to use the Bible or Jesus as justification for voting.  They say Jesus wasn’t political.  This is nonsense.  Being a Christian means following the Bible, learning from it, and doing our best to live it out.  Voting is part of how we live out our life here in this country.  Jesus had a lot to say about stewardship.  And we must be good stewards of the freedom we have been given while we still have the choice.  Someday our freedoms may be gone.  And voting haphazardly or out of fear is not being a good steward.  As Christians we must vote for leaders who believe in and follow Scripture.  If there are none, then we must vote for leaders who do not clearly violate Scripture.  It’s really that simple.  Christians should not make it more confusing, or get entangled in the morass of issues.  And right now, thankfully, we do have a few leaders who believe in and follow Scripture.  We should vote for them.  Period. 

The guys running for President who are Christians and claim to believe in and follow Scripture are Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz.  There may be a couple more, like Ben Carson and Scott Walker, but in my opinion they are ‘maybes.’  We can judge someone by their fruit.  And, in my opinion, all the other guys have lackluster fruit which makes them largely indistinguishable as a committed Christian.  There’s just not enough evidence to clearly say they’d be convicted of being a true follower of Christ.  I could be wrong about the rest of the field, but we are only electing one, so these three are followers of Jesus and the clear choice:  Huckabee, Jindal and Cruz.  So I hope the Republicans nominate one of them.  So if you’re in a battleground state, please vote for one of these three.  That will help the Republicans nominate a Christian who would most likely make more Biblical decisions.  And that’s a good thing.  And more importantly, having a true Christian in the highest office in our land is much better than having a non-Christian as president. 

This stuff matters.  If you think it doesn’t, then revisit the recent gay marriage Supreme Court decision by Obama appointed judges.  And if I hear one more fellow believer in defense saying we need to pray for our President, I’m going to ask them why they didn’t pray before they voted for President.

 

Why Josh Duggar Really Should Matter to You

Josh Duggar Ashley Madison

Josh Duggar’s Ashley Madison Scandal

Let’s get the controversy started by first saying when it comes to recently discovered adultery vis a vis adult hookup sites for Josh Duggar I personally don’t care.  I don’t want to know about his use of the internet to explore his fantasies.  I don’t want to know how many times he cheated on his wife.  I don’t care when and where and how he did what with whom.  I don’t care. 

What I do care about is how some Christians are responding.  Some are shocked.  Some are appalled by the hypocrisy.  Some are saddened by the sin and deception.  Some are empathetic to his wife and kids.  But many just seem to be weighing in on the story itself because it is juicy gossip.  Like an R rated movie, we are morbidly attracted to watching vice from a safe distance.  As the ugly details come to light, we want to watch as it reeks havoc among the cornucopia of kids.  It’s like throwing an iphone at an amish daycare.  Aha, now they’ve done it.  They’re all infected now. 

And some seem to relish the “I told you so” moment when another Christian hypocrite is exposed.  It’s a special pastime for those hurt by the church to gleefully savor the comeuppance moment.  Yes, they’re having a moment.  And we’re supposed to sit back and watch them squirm?  What a sick preoccupation with pain?  And is that all this is?  They get there due, and good riddance?

I think the whole thing is immature.  And yet, at some level, we are all immature.  We still think it’s about sin.  It’s not about sin.  Sin is an old story.  The same story retold for each successive generation.  Everyone on the planet gets to experience how miserable it is here.  And for some who ‘pretend’ it’s not miserable because they keep themselves from sin, we like it when they eventually do succumb to its gravity.  Well, how depressing folks.  Our world is doomed, held captive by sin.  Thanks for reminding me.  We’re all stuck in the muck and mire.  And for many that’s the end of the story. 

Josh Duggar Ashley Madison

What surprises me is that even for many Christians that’s the end of the story too.  They seem to stop there in misery.  But that’s not the whole story!  They’re forgetting the best part.  They’re commensurating they’re misery, by not letting anyone be left out.  When in reality, they’re the ones being left out—of the amazingly cool second half.  They’re so focused on being trapped inside the devil’s dungeon, they’re forgetting about the hero who has come to set us all free!  It’s like they stop the movie when the evil hordes have taken over.  Don’t they also want to watch as the hero regroups his army, conquers all, and sets everything right?  Because it’s an awesome story!  The greatest ever told, and we get to be part of it!

It’s a matter of perspective.  And I personally understand that those in pain have a real hard time seeing anything other than pain.  They take pad answers as insulting and insensitive to their pain.  I get that.  But the question is:  Do you love your pain so much you don’t want to be healed?  And would you deny healing to others?  When people are offended, many times they are actually denying themselves healing.  And yes, this means they don’t really want others to be healed either.  Yeah, I said it.  I know that’s gonna offend some folks, but it’s the truth.  It’s easy to feel like a victim.  It’s easy to justify our disappointment when we can blame it on someone else.  But are you stopping there?  Are you quitting your quest?  You got hurt.  So now you’re camping out in hurtville?  Hanging out building idols to your favorite hurts? 

I know what it means to be hurt.  But I ain’t stopping there.  I want to complete my quest.  The hero came to my hole and stretched out His hand.  He helped me up.  And I’m going with Him on His adventure.  I’m not going back to that stinkin’ hole.  And when I see someone else still stuck in their hole, I don’t laugh, or say they deserve it, or even just ignore them.  I tell them Jesus is here to help them out.  That is what real Christianity is about.  That’s what real followers of Jesus do.  They help people out of sin pits.  They call everyone to follow Christ in His epic battle. 

Yes, this world is a battle ground.  But the reality is those of us who follow Christ are actually on the victory march now.  It’s not completed yet, but we’ve already begun.  And yes, many times it doesn’t feel like we are headed towards paradise, walking through victory, praising God.  I get that.  Sometimes it sucks.  And it smells horrible.  And it’s tiring.  But that’s faith my friends.  If it were easy everyone would do it.  But it’s not easy.  Jesus said wide is the way to destruction, but narrow is the way to life, and only a few find it.  If we don’t look closely we could miss the way to life.  It’s easy to get distracted by the craziness of this world, and lose sight of Christ leading the way.  It’s easy to get hurt and stuck in the muck.  But our battle now is to keep our eyes on Jesus, and help others to do the same. 

Our job is not to get distracted by hypocrisy via Josh Duggar, or TV preachers or politicians, or anyone else.  We need to see what’s really going on here.  We need to look past the pain, not accept the doom of sin, and see the Savior strong and capable who is leading us out of this mess into His glorious kingdom.  This is our quest saints.  We are His people.  We are on His mission.  Let’s live like it.  Let’s talk like it.  Let’s ignore the pot-stirrers like it.  Let’s help some of our less mature, more easily distracted family members learn to change the conversation from shock to salvation.  Less about exposing hypocrisy and more about desiring holiness.  Less about falling and more about grace. 

Let’s change the conversation.  Let our response be prayers of mercy for anyone who’s fallen.  Let us all humble ourselves and pray for one another.  Let us boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is able to save us from this life of sin.  Let us all commit to following Jesus without mumbling, gossiping and complaining.  When another brother or sister falls, let us seek to gently restore.  And may our response of Grace be so clear that it covers over the din of naysayers.  This stuff really matters.  This is real Christianity.  Josh Duggar is just another guy who fell.  Our response matters.  We should care about our response.  The Savior has called us, and He is watching.  If that’s not enough reason to care, then nothing is. 

 

Dirt Bike Surfs Wave & Rides on Water

Dirt Bike Rides on Water Surfs Wave

Dirt Bike Surfs Wave & Rides on Water

This is one of the coolest videos I’ve ever seen.  First it’s a motorcyle actually riding on water.  But this guy actually surfs a wave.  Incredible.  And, it’s just a well made video that is fun to watch.  It just keeps getting better.

How to Dismiss a Toxic Person

How to Dismiss a Toxic Person

 

How to Dismiss a Toxic Person

You’re fired.  Sort of.  I’m not specifically referring to an employee.  I’m talking about a person in your life, maybe a friend, someone in your social sphere, or even a member of your Christian community.  Sometimes we encounter toxic people in life.  Often they do not initially appear to be troublesome, but as time goes on they bring out the drama in a big way.  They are a downer, a consistent energy drain.  They complain, always have a need, want to confide, monopolize time, and force attention to themselves.

The toxic person is usually a gossiper and stirs up strife and dissention.  They almost always have a beef with someone, and feel the need to tell you.  And perhaps the worst of all is a toxic person is easily offended.  Even when you try to help them, they get more offended.  And maybe they try to manipulate you too in the process.  Yep, it’s ugly.  The whole stinky messy sticky business.  And they just want to suck you in deeper.

Now the Christian side wants to help.  You empathize with them, and see their hurt.  But what can you really do?  Is your relationship as a trusted friend and accountability partner, or is it just a one-sided dump fest on you?  Usually the toxic person doesn’t have real accountability or counselors in their life.  They just move around in shallowness, mucking up the lives of any kind heart who’ll listen.  Then after a while, they get offended again and move on.  And repeat the cycle.

Sometimes you can spot this person coming and get out of the way.  Perhaps you have a gut feeling warning you about getting involved.  And usually your hunch proves true if you do.  Hindsight can be a hard lesson here.  I know.  I’ve been down this road.  And I know personally how the offensive spirit in the toxic person’s life can work its way into our own.  Often we don’t realize it at the time, because the Devil is a sly one, and that’s his game see.  He disguises the poison as just circumstances.  But upon closer evaluation, the common denominator is this person.  The toxic person who seems to keep spreading the virus around.

So what can you do with a toxic person?  Pray, and get out of the way!  Simple as that.  But relationships are tricky right?  And you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings either.  Well, you don’t have to do or say anything that you’ll ask God’s forgiveness for later.  Just politely and definitely and completely and finally back away and tell them to stay away.  It’s called dismissal.  And it’s perfectly legal.  Yes, you as a Christian are allowed to dismiss a toxic person from your life.  It is healthy to do so.  Further, it could be the very thing God is trying to teach you to do.  Deal gently, be obedient, and let God handle the outcome.  You are literally handing this person over to God.  (Or Satan, depending upon whether you read the New Testament or not.)  It’s not your role.  It’s God’s role.  So roll with it.

And when you do, I promise, you’ll know it’s right.  At first you may feel timid and sad, but later you’ll be glad you took the higher healthier road.  You must guard your heart, and not allow offenses to take hold.  Jesus warned us, so this isn’t a shocker—you’re gonna have some real _____ (insert favorite derogatory noun) in your life; and you’re responsibility is to pray for them and get out of the way.  The toxic person is not ready yet for God to heal this broken area in their life.  They are being stubborn, maybe even rebellious, and are just redirecting their own pain at someone else.  Don’t let that be you.

Anything or anyone who comes to steal from you is not of God.  A toxic person is never humble, only insecure.  So their spirit is not open.  You’re not going to give or receive a blessing dealing with them.  Your desire should be to honor God and yourself and your family.  You must preserve the integrity of your relationship with Christ and with your family.  You should not give a toxic person permission to speak into your life.  And that means ignoring them.  Find excuses to be busy.  Cancel any appointments with them.  Go somewhere else.  Get another job.  Don’t invite them over.  Just back away.

But what if you can’t avoid this person completely?  Perhaps they’re a family member or coworker.  Sure it’s harder, but you can still back away.  Don’t let some artificial status confine you.  Just because they’re family doesn’t mean they own you.  Do separate holidays.  Or only get together at public places.  Tell them you’re amish now.  Defriend them on Facebook.  Cut ties.  Again it’s not easy but you can do it.  Jesus said anyone who is not willing to leave Father and Mother for my sake is not fit for the Kingdom.  Wow.  How’s that for being decisive?!  So we have no excuse.  We allow a toxic person to remain in our life as if a poisonous snake were in the bedroom.  How long would it take you to get that snake out of the house?  It’s a matter of priorities, and protecting what’s most dear to you.

 

What to Do When People Share Hurts

what to do when people share hurts

What to Do When People Share Hurts

I had a conversation with a man which started out normal enough like “Hi, who are you?  What do you do?” etc.  But quickly I could see he was hurting.  And soon he shared some trouble in his life, specifically that he is doubting Jesus, and the reality of the Gospel.  He attends church with his family, and yet he feels like an outsider, a doubter, wondering whether Jesus is real or not and whether the Gospel is just all made up.

Now, that’s not something you might expect to learn shortly after a cordial hello; but this is what hurt looks like.  On the outside, he appeared professionally dressed and a somewhat successful local business owner, but on the inside he is deeply troubled.  Right there, I could ration that I’m not a counselor and he should go see a head shrink.  But why did he share this with me?  Probably he doesn’t know, and didn’t intend to; but maybe God was behind it.

Often I find that God brings people across our path who are hurting so we can share some of this burden with them.  But what does that mean?  Are we really meant to volunteer our time to take this person on as a personal community service project?  Perhaps, if that’s what God is wanting; but most of the time no.  That’s not what God wants.  God probably just wants us to pray for this person, and be open to what God may have us do next.  And many times He not asking us to do anything next, but He is asking us to pray.

what to do when people share hurts

Do we really need lighten to strike as a sign that God is asking us to pray for them?  Most likely the hurt exposed to us is reason enough to pray.  I believe that as disciples of Christ, we’re meant to share one another’s joys and bear one another’s burdens.  This means to simply listen and rejoice with those who rejoice regardless of our present circumstances, and to comfort those who are hurting regardless of whether we deem their need legitimate, or even the best use of our time.  Because really, isn’t it God’s judgement of what is the best use of our time?  And usually God wants us to spend more time praying.

When a person has a need, or wound, it may not be necessary to stop and pray for them right there; but almost always to pray for them later.  God will direct our prayers for them.  God revealed their hurt to us so we could intercede for them.  For some reason God’s Kingdom work involves us praying for one another.  And God likes it when we do so.  So the next time a person shares a bit of their pain, consider listening and let them know you will pray for them—and then actually do it.  This is how God works in people’s lives.  This is how we do Kingdom work.  This is how we can labor on earth, fight spiritual battles, defeat the enemy, and see God’s glory here and now.

Prayer does not need a degree or professional license.  Prayer is what we all can do every day.  And praying for others is a great way to be less selfish, more obedient to God, and grow as disciples.  As the saying goes “Prayer changes things.”  And prayer changes people.  And God can use you and me to be a part of changing someone else’s life.  How might our society change for the better if we spent less time talking about people and more time praying for them?  How might our country change for the better if we spent less time complaining about it and more time praying for it, our leaders, and our people?

God has us here in this place and this age for a reason.  Prayer is our best way to fulfill the divine reason we are here on earth.  Most of the other stuff we do is just taking up space; but prayer changes the space in which we live, and brings heaven down to earth now in real and practical ways.  Prayer changes people, heals hurts, softens hearts, and opens ears to God.

Prayer is the means by which we can literally see the power of God influence people.  Prayer is part of the resurrection life of Jesus spread abroad in our hearts and lives with our fellows, but it requires we participate, and blesses us when we do.

So, pray for people and see what God does in them and in your own life.  Watch how we experience more of God’s love in tangible ways.  Pray for someone today.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

Faulty Windows Update, and How I’m Dealing with It

Faulty Windows Update

I’m sitting here at my computer trying desperately not to lose my mind over its nonresponsive state.  I hate this.  I hate feeling helpless, held hostage by Windows.  When it works it’s great; but my dependency upon technology is more evident than ever when it fails.

Why?  Why am and so utterly dependent upon technology?  Just a victim of the modern world I guess.  But as I think about it more, I’m dependent upon a lot of things.
I’m dependent upon…
My car
My phone
My computer
My Internet provider
My bank account
My refrigerator
My grocery store
My electric company
My local water utility
Even my freakin’ coffee maker!

Geez, it’s like I couldn’t survive for one day without all these complex systems up and running to support me.  And what about my family and my kids?!  How could I provide and care for them?  Am I so ridiculously fragile as a human being that 40 years since birth I still can’t sustain my own existence but a few miserable days?

As I reflect upon humanity over the millenia, regarding dependecy and self-sustainability, not much has changed.  It’s an illusion really that our modern world is more adept at sustaining human life. We need the sun and plants and water and animals.  And we need each other.  Beyond that, we don’t really need technology to live.  We just think it makes our life better.
In truth, we’re all doomed to toil in the mud, whether real mud or bits and bytes mud, it’s basically the same poop.

Still here we are, the victims of our age, held captive in time, forced to labor and fight the battles of our day.  Nothing is this world works right.  Everything is broken.  Our best attempts to improve upon it for these past few thousand years have proven laughably fruitless.

What then shall we do?  Give up?  Join the ranks of the homeless on the street?  Or, just keep plodding along hoping the next update will bring something better.

The wisest dude ever to step foot on dirt said that everything is meaningless and folly.  The culmination of human wisdom says our life is just a lump of clay, or puff of air.  Here for a sec, then poof gone, remembered no more.  Wow, what a drag.  We should just eat, drink, and be merry then.  Fill our appetites now because nothing else matters.
This is human wisdom, or humanism.  Selfish indulgence without regard to anyone or anything.
But thankfully there is wisdom beyond our understanding. Wisdom that gives us a peak at hope.  It is wisdom from God, or literally God’s ways and thoughts.  And the wisest guy ever, did in fact, uncover some of this celestial wisdom for us.  He said that human wisdom ends in our own selfish futility, but there is a higher better wisdom we should aspire to.
He said the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  And we should fear God and keep His commandments, for this is our whole duty or purpose.

First, I’m surprised that’s it.  Guess I was expecting a scroll and not a fortune cookie.  Perhaps some more details would clarify this more.
And better still, something that would help me deal with my anger issues with Microsoft.  But then I go back and ponder this wisest thing said by the wisest of humans: Fear God and Keep His Commandments.  This is our Duty and Complete Purpose.  Hmmm…ok, I suppose this does simplify things a bit.  And I could use some simplification right now.

But how does this help me snyc my phone with my crm?  Well, it doesn’t, but it does help me realize how little that matters.  Soon, I’ll be gone.  Well not here anyway.  I’ll be standing before God my Creator.  And He will ask me how well I updated to the latest versions of Android and Windows. Uh, no.

Instead, he will ask me how well I received His Son Jesus which He personally sent to save me from this screwed up world.  Thankfully I can answer that one.  That one’s easy.   Well, it’s easy if you have acknowledged and accepted and followed Jesus as your Savior.  And thankfully I have.  And hopefully you have too, because accepting Jesus is the best way to follow wisdom and fear God, keeping His commandments, and finally finding some purpose and meaning in this life.

Accepting Jesus may not solve my computer issues, but it does help me understand my computer is not the issue.  Meeting my Creator is the issue.
And did I take Him up on His invitation to be adopted into His family.  That’s the issue.  He sent our older Brother Jesus with a cool invite to join Him in God’s Heavenly paradise.

So I’m saying YES!  Now I realize, my time here on earth is short.  And good thing too, ’cause I hate faulty Windows updates.  And soon this buggy world will be gone, and all will be made perfect.  And everything will work and feel right, and love will reign without strife or heartache.  There will be no more pain or headache.  We will know true peace and happiness forever.

And it’s all waiting for us.  It’s just around the corner.  So come with me and follow Jesus to a much better place with a healthy happy family.
And we’ll just forget all about our worthless technology, ok.

What’s Really Important in Life?

What's Really Important in Life?

What’s Really Important in Life?

Getting coffee, stopping by the bank, picking up groceries, returning phone calls, paying bills, registering kids for camp, and on it goes; welcome to daily life.  It’s almost impossible to avoid such tasks.  Only the very rich and very poor successfully do so.  For most of us it’s so routine we don’t even question whether our time is well spent.  And perhaps we feel there’s simply no other choice but to tackle the next item on the list.

Yes productivity is good, but quality of life is better.  So it’s worth asking:  How much quality is gained by our quantity of errands?  Or, how have we benefitted from our time invested?  Often it’s not an encouraging answer.  Are we really just hopelessly distracted by daily duties in pursuit of paying the mortgage?  At the end of another month, how have we grown, matured, or developed?  How have are key relationships flourished?

I’m no philosopher monk.  Someone’s got to mow the yard, change the oil, wash the clothes.  I can’t just ponder the universe all day.  But perhaps it’s a matter of priorities.  Is my ultimate priority to have a well manicured yard?  In 40 years will I even care?  And what will I care about in 40 years?  How I kept the house, or how my kids have matured?  Did they play soccer for 8 years, or did they learn how to be disciples of Christ?

How might I take small steps today towards my heart’s true treasure?  What can I take off my list today, and replace it with something worth treasuring a few decades from now?  Perhaps reading the Bible to my kids aloud during breakfast is better than checking email on my phone?  Perhaps making a weekly small group is better than just going out to eat?  Perhaps spending a little time in prayer and meditation is better than going to the gym?

There’s no right answer here.  But when we consider our life’s destination is a result of the millions of small steps taken, it helps us ponder the direction of our steps.  Is what I’m doing now heading anywhere?  And where will I end up if I keep doing this?  Sure, it’s sobering; but, man is it important to ask meaningful questions now.  There is a place for being introspective.  And it’s good to ask God about His will for our life before just taking off.

So then, how might you interrupt your routine today with something eternal?  What moments can you redirect God’s way?  How much time will you spend quiet, listening for His heart beat?  These are worthy questions my friends.  What is your answer?

Why I Don’t Give my Kids an Allowance

Allowance for Kids

Why I don’t give my kids an allowance…and what I do instead.

Many parents give their kids a weekly allowance of a few bucks.  Now while I don’t believe this is horrible, I do believe it can be damaging to them.  An allowance is usually just free money giving to kids.  And I don’t like this practice, because it is just free money, or unearned profit sharing.  Although I love my kids, and I do give them many things for free such as love, time, provisions, and presents, I do not want to give them unworked for profits.

I want to teach my kids that work is rewarded; that hard work is their way to earn their living in this world.  I want my kids to learn how to work and support themselves.  I do not want them to think that there is money floating around out there that is theirs that they are just entitled to.  I want them to learn that money is only the result of deserved value giving to others.  I want them to learn how to be productive citizens who know how to provide products and services to others that deserve recompense.

Giving them free money gives them false expectations.  It breeds an entitlement mentality.  It is counterproductive to a healthy work ethic.  I think we can all see how an entitlement mentality that rewards slothfulness has weakened many in society.  We don’t want our kids to learn the path to weakness, we want them to learn how to be productive, self-sustaining, members of society.  And an allowance is not a tool to bring about self-reliance.

Instead of giving my kids an allowance, I create opportunities for them to do age appropriate work around the house to earn wages.  Money is the result of work.  And I want them to learn how to work.  So there is some work that is allotted to each child as chores, or what they are asked to do for no money because they are members of our family.  And to keep a house running, we all must work together for our mutual benefit.  But there is also work they can do for pay.  It is optional, but if they complete the designated assignment completely, they will receive pay.

I believe create healthy expectations about chores and optional work helps them learn best practices to succeed in life.  They must know that life is work.  And if they want to live their own life, there is lots of work, like cleaning, organizing, and preparing food that is necessary just to live a wholesome life.  And, in addition, there is work of value to be done which rewards them with pay so they can purchase other things they desire to live a more fulfilled life.

This is not to say that the only fulfillment in life comes as a result of earning money.  But, there is much to living an enjoyable life that only comes from having earned money.  And it’s important that at an early age they learn this distinction.  And, I believe, this understanding comes only through practical personal experience.  So I endeavor to give my gives valuable experience that teaches them healthy practices to better their lives.

So, an allowance is not a good idea, but working for chores and working for profit is a good idea.  The Bible says that hard work is rewarded, and that work provides a satisfaction that cannot be gained by any other means.  If we believe the Bible, then practicing its wisdom in our home life should be the goal.  And I hope that you will consider your economic policy in your home, and make adjustments if needed to promote healthy attitudes and expectations about living a fulfilled life.