Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday Morning Blues

You're probably familiar with the phrase "Monday morning blues." This term has come about because so many people experience some kind experience where they feel down on Monday morning. There are several reasons for this: busy weekend, lack of sleep, mental frustration with your job, thinking about how long the week is even before you start it, even feeling the futility of life.
No matter what your personality, positive thinker or not, everybody feels the Monday morning blues at some time. The question then is: How can we handle the Monday morning blues? Let's look at how we can overcome the various affects.
I read a report that states that our internal clock actually operates on a day that is longer than 24 hours, so that when Monday morning comes, we have a natural sleep deficit of almost an hour. Along with the deficit that often comes from being busy througout the weekend, we need to work at going to bed a little earlier Sunday night so that we can be better rested for the work week.
A second issue is frustration with your job. Many people don't like the jobs they have. In fact, the statistics show that more than 75% of people are desiring a different job. Due of this, many people dread Monday morning, because it means going back to a place they don't enjoy; their work. So to help with the Monday blues, we need to find a way to enjoy the job more. A good way to change this is to stay positive. Think about the good you bring to the job. As the Bible tells us in Colossians 3:17- "And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." If you seek to do your work for God, and not for your employer or others around you, you will enjoy what you do much more.
A third issue is that we get tired of doing the same thing over and over. So the week begins, and you think about your job being redundant. A good way around this is to find new ways to do old tasks, or find new tasks that can replace the old tasks. Try to be more creative with your work. Do things in teams. Set goals for yourself; as you accomplish these goals you will feel good about your work. Lastly, don't think about the whole week, or that Monday is the first of 5 days of the work week. Focus on Monday alone. This will help to curb that feeling of being overwhelmed.
It could also be time to look for a new job. Sometimes just looking can make you appreciate what you have, or cause you to realize there are other options.
The Monday morning blues will exist. But we can beat them, and we can even get to the point where we enjoy our job, and our life all the more. As Ecclesiastes 3:13 tells us: "..It is God's gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chocalate Chip Cookies

I have used this blog to talk about many theological and spiritual issues, but sometimes it is good to think on the lighter side of life. So today I want to talk about chocolate chip cookies. Why chocolate chip cookies? Well, it happens to be the topic of my blog group, but it also is a way to think about one of life's good and simple pleasures. And in thinking of these simple pleasures, it helps us to keep equilibrium and not get too serious.
When I think of chocolate chip cookies I first of all think about my childhood. My mom would often make chocolate chip cookies. It was wonderful to have this tasty dessert, especially when they were hot out of the oven. Milk and chocolate chip cookies are one of the great treats of life.
But when I think of chocolate chip cookies, I also think about the wonderful balance of the dough and the chocolate chips. In life, the right combinations can make two things that are good, become together something that is great. We can see this in good teams, where good players joining together make a great team.
Or even more, a man and a woman coming together to be married and make a great partnership. This is true for my wife and I. In this partnership, my wife makes me a better person, and hopefully I make her a better person. Together we do great things in and through our lives.
So, hopefully for you and for me, next time we're eating a chocolate chip cookie, let's enjoy it for what it is, the delicious dessert, and let it remind us how God combines us with others to do great things!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Does God control our direction?

Today I want to talk about whether or not God controls our direction. And to this I answer "yes" and "no." What I mean by this is that God wants to direct us, but we don't always let God direct us. In Jeremiah 29:11 we read: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God has plans for us, and God has given us the gifts, abilities, and desires for these plans. But to be directed by God we have to seek God.
There are many reasons why we don't seek God. We can get lost in our selfish ways. We can follow the path of the world. We can listen to the advice of others that isn't necessarily from God. For example, someone my see that we are humorous, and encourage us to become a clown. But maybe you have coulrophobia (fear of clowns)and this would not be a good career choice. When we make our own choices in this way, we are not allowing God to control our direction.
As a pastor I have the opportunity to help people give themselves over to God; to encourage them to let God control their direction. In fact, one of the best things I do as a pastor is mentoring. In my mentoring, I help people to discover the passion that God has placed in them, and set goals that help them to live this out. But often times I see that people get sidetracked or blocked from carrying through on these goals (even with my help).
However, we can have direction from the Lord. This is good news, because we struggle all the time in our lives to make good and wise decisions. We get down on life because it seems so out of our control. But it isn't out of God's control. As Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
If and when we seek God with our heart, all of our heart, then God will give us the direction we need. With this direction, we will be able to live out the purpose of our lives, and our lives will truly have meaning. On top of this, we will experience great joy in our lives, because we will be fulfilling our passion and doing what we enjoy doing.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

When I Forgive

One of the great truths of the Christian faith is that I am forgiven. This is a great truth, because there is much for which I need to be forgiven. I lose my temper sometimes and say things I shouldn't. I don't always selfish at times and don't give my wife the help she needs. I can be prideful and arrogant. And on and on the list could go. As I said, I need to be forgiven.
The Bible tells me in 1 John 1:9- "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." So, the requirement for forgiveness is honest confession. This is made possible because of Jesus' death on the cross; His sacrifice in our place. Jesus took our punishment so that we could be forgiven.
This is all good, except for the fact that while God forgives me, I am not always good at forgiving others. Actually, I am better at judging others than forgiving them. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-3, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" It is interesting that someone else could do something wrong, not big, but enough that I notice, and yet I do something wrong and completely ignore it. Their wrong is like a speck of dust; my wrong is like a Tamarack tree. But I don't see mine!!
Matthew 6:15 is another of Jesus' challenging statements; He says: "But if you do not fogive men thier sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." I need to forgive others, because when I forgive, I learn how to be forgiven. When I forgive, I learn how to free myself from guilt. When I forgive, I am able to let go of that which causes me pain. When I forgive I am able to understand God more fully.
When I forgive others, it is sometimes as much or more for me than for them. Sometimes people don't deserve to be forgiven. They are not sorry for their actions, or don't seek to change their behavior. In these cases the forgiveness is to free me from their control over me. I can let go of any negative feelings I possess, and focus on what I need to do to heal.
During this Easter season, I remember what Jesus has done for me; going to the cross to die for my sins. Because of this I am forgiven. As I seek to walk in Jesus' steps, I need to learn how to forgive. How about you?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What my life would be without Jesus

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like without Jesus? I accepted Jesus as my savior when I was 15, so I have known Jesus for over 2/3 of my life. But even still, I think I have an idea what might have been, because when I was in high school, I was not making good decisions before I knew Jesus.
A quick run down: my language included many swear words, I started smoking marijauna, I would hang out at lunch and make fun of other kids, my grades had started to slip, and my choice of friends was not good at all. If I had continued down this road, I am afraid I would not have made much of myself.
I write this without being proud of my actions or decisions at all. Even though the title is "What my life would be without Jesus," I would rather focus on what my life is with Jesus. The reason for this, is because I believe my life would be much the opposite of what it is now!
With Jesus I began to say "no" to many things. My swearing, my sarcasm, my arrogance, drugs, alcohol, how I treated people, and on and on it went. I began to believe in myself and in the fact that Jesus called me to do great things. I began to love others for Jesus. My life was transformed so much that it became evident to all that something was different.
Because of this I took a more obsequious path. I trusted that God had a plan for my life, and that I needed to humble myself and follow this plan. I graduated from college and went on to get my Masters of Divinity and become an ordained pastor. And because of this I know that God touches many lives through my life!
Without Jesus I believe I would be lost and without purpose. I definitely know that I wouldn't understand what life is about and how my life makes a difference. And I know that I wouldn't have changed so many other lives around me. I am glad I don't have to live my life without Jesus!