Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Do You Make Choices?

Every day we have choices to make. Of course there are the more simple choices such as “Should I get up this morning?” OR “What should I wear today,” to the more complex choices of “Should I change jobs,” OR “Should I start or end a relationship.” The question I want us to consider is: “How Do You Make Choices?” Whether we realize it or not, we have a system by which we make our choices. What is yours?
I would like to suggest a way to make good choices. I believe that God has given us the Bible for many reasons, one of which is to help guide us in life. The Bible gives us some excellent instruction in how to make choices. As we are told in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” All too often we choose to make our own decisions, trust in our own knowledge, instead of seeking God for direction. And all too often, our choices get us into trouble, or cause us problems. If we trust in the Lord, if we seek the Lord before we make our choices, especially our big choices, then we will walk on a much better path!
In Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us: “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We usually seek things for ourselves first, and our choices are made on what is best for us. But Jesus turns it around and tells us that if we seek God first, and the things that are good for the kingdom of God, then our choices will be clearer, and better for all, including ourselves. If we do this, we will see fruit born in our lives that will make our life productive and purposeful.
There are many other verses in the Bible that can help us with making choices, but let me mention one more; Psalm 37:4. In this verse we read: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” In life we want to have good things; things that will delight us. But like a child, we don’t always know how to make choices that will bring delight to us. Often times what we think will bring us delight actually brings us headaches and heartaches. But when we delight in what delights God, then our desires change, and God will give us what we want, because we want what God wants!
I pray that you would make the good choices that need to be made, but giving yourself over to God, and the desires of God. Blessings. Chris

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Can You Be Trusted?

They say that trust is something you have to earn. And if you think about it, you know it is true. If you have ever trusted someone who has let you down, or who has hurt you, then you know that trust is not to be given lightly. To trust someone means that we must give our heart and mind to someone else. When that trust is damaged, so are we.
My wife Tami and I happen to be fans of the show "Dancing with the Stars." I am amazed at the trust level the women have to have in the men they dance with; this is especially true when it comes to the professional women dancers trusting the men stars. If a throw or catch is missed, the dancers can get really hurt. Through hours of rehearsal and practicing a trust level is developed. They can know the catch will be made, because they have developed the trust. At this point in the dance, if the catch is missed, it would be a fluke, because it has been made over and over again in practice.
This is true in life as well. We develop the trust of others by practicing being trustworthy. We usually trust people with minor things (like meeting us somewhere for lunch or general information about our lives). As we see people trustworthy in the small things, we begin to decide to trust them with bigger things (like our more private thoughts and feelings to being a close friend).
As a pastor I know that my congregation members trust me with much. They trust me in how I love them. They trust me when they confess things with them. They trust me to teach them the truth. They trust me to lead them in the right direction. I value this trust, and know that to dishonor this trust would not only be hurtful to them, but in what they believe about God.
Even more, when we come to trust God, it is because we have seen God's faithfulness in our lives. To say that we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is at first just words. The real belief comes when we see God being who we believe God to be. When God answers our prayers, our trust is increased. When we experience God's presence in our lives, or feel His presence in worship, our trust is increased. The more we trust, the more we open our hearts and minds to God, and the more we will see of God, which will continue to cause us to trust all the more.
I hope that you can trust your heart to God, and that you find it desirable to be trustworthy. May God bless you in this.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is anyone following?

It is said that to be a leader, you must have followers. But even more than having followers, you need to have influence in the lives of others. Without influence there is no change, and without change there is no forward movement. But with this said, anyone can be a leader, because we all have the opportunity to influence others; we all have people in our lives whom we influence. For parents it could be their children, for bosses it is their employees, for children it could be their friends.
Being a leader can't be enough though. The question then becomes, 'where are you leading?' Is the direction you are going worth following? Hitler was a powerful leader, with many followers, but he was leading people down a terrible road. Being a leader isn't enough. We need to have the right vision, so that we can lead people in a worthwhile direction.
I believe the greatest leader ever was Jesus. He was a great leader first and foremost because He was leading people to a place where they could know and follow the will of God. He was a great leader because He loved people deeply, caring for their deepest needs. He was a great leader because He invested Himself fully into the lives of His followers. He was a great leader because He had great wisdom and compassion. He was a great leader because He in essence gave us a passport, a ticket to heaven through His death and resurrection.
So how can you and I be great leaders? We need to care deeply for those we are seeking to lead. We need to be humble in our leadership, helping others to understand we are learners as well. We need to have a vision of God's will so that others will know they are on a purposeful journey. We need to be compassionate and forgiving for our own mistakes and others'. We need to help others see that the destination is worth the effort that is to be given.
Leadership is not about power, it is about lovingly influencing others for the sake of Christ and for the life God has for us to live. As you seek to live, I encourage you to implement the characteristics of Jesus' leadership, and see what a wonderful difference it will make. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Looking out the window

The picture here of a person looking out the window can lead us to many different thoughts. Sometimes looking out the window represents someone who is reflective in nature. Looking out the window can also cause us to think of someone who is lonely or alone. It could represent someone who is isolating themselves from the world. Even more, it could be a way to protect yourself from the outside world.
God created us to be in relationship. The most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with God. In this relationship, it is important to have times of quiet and reflection. It is in these times of reflection that we get a sense of where we are in life, and where God wants us to be. In these times of reflection we slow down enough to listen to God and feel God's love.
Our world is full of lonely people. In the Aerosmith song "Angel," the first 2 lines of the song say: "I'm alone, yeah, I don't know if I can face the night I'm in tears and the cryin that I do is for you..." This song is talking about the loneliness of a relationship not working out. How often in life do we struggle in our relationships, and this struggle leads us to isolation. That is why our relationship with God is so important, because it gives perspective to all other relationships, and keeps us from ever really being alone.
I know a number of people who tend to isolate themselves from the world. Some isolate themselves because of feelings of anxiety and a difficulty of being around others. Others isolate themselves because they feel that the world is miasmic, and they don't want to pollute themselves from the evil of the world. The window helps them to feel protected. We are told in Romans 12:2- "Do not be conformed to this world..." Yet Christ told us in Matthew 28:19 to "Go therefore and make disciples..." The challenge is to go our into the world, and yet keep ourselves from becoming stained or polluted by the world.
Let us see what God wants us to see, and then receive the power of God to go out and share God's love. Let us not get stuck "looking out the window."