Archives For Attitude

The Quiet Canvas

October 22, 2013 — 2 Comments

Image Credit Madison Wright

fairyjar1The simple act of being quiet before the Lord is a discipline that should be visited often. Quietness is a blank canvas before the Lord. In quietness, God makes faint undertones of color building to a masterpiece for His glory. He is the artist; you are the canvas.

My daughter Madison is an artist. She has work hanging all over her room. Each work tells a story-a story that was in her heart at the time. I’ve had the honor of seeing most of her work come to life over the days; weeks and months she would work on them.

Sometimes, I didn’t have a clue what the painting was until almost the very end. I would have to wait, and then once she put the finally brush strokes to the canvas the work would come alive and completely reveal itself. At other times, I could tell from the beginning what the work was and so in that case, the joy would come in watching her layer the colors making them burst off the canvas.

Quietness is where God works. Let Him paint. Let Him layer. Let Him choose the colors. Your part is to choose quietness. He waits for you. He has a grand idea for using you.

Quietness.

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There are 365 days in a year. I’ve never tried, but I would be willing to bet, if I placed the word happy on each day of a calendar when I finished the day happy, there would be less happy days than not. If it were one big wall calendar, you could back away from it to get the whole view, and it would look like a hopeless sight. However, that’s not the way I would see it as a Christ follower.

As a Christ follower my goal is not happiness. My inheritance is joy. Joy is not even a goal. Joy is a gift. I don’t have to fight for it. I don’t have to earn it. The Spirit of God living on the inside of me gives Joy. Now, back up from the same calendar and take another look and you would see the word joy on every day.

Happiness is an emotion. I enjoy experiencing happiness, but it’s not life giving. Joy, on the other hand, is a bi-product of the Holy Spirit. Joy arrives each day on the wings of mercy and walks with me through the ups and down of everyday life. When I walk with joy, happiness often merges along side of me for a while, and it’s nice, but when happiness leaves I don’t grieve because joy is always there.

Joy can’t leave because it’s a gift of God. Weeping might endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  If happiness is your goal there are many things you can do that brings it to you temporary. However, once that experience is over, happiness runs off and begs for you to wear yourself out chasing it again.

You never have to chase joy. Joy is part of the DNA that was given to you when the Spirit of God came to live inside of you. You are a temple of God, and His temple is a temple full of Joy. At times, you might sing a song of unhappiness, but underneath the unhappiness is a river of Joy that can’t be explained or shut off. It just is! Enjoy your joy and you are enjoying God Himself.

Galatians 5:22-23

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I’m not good with emptiness, but God is great with emptiness. Emptiness often becomes God’s greatest creative place in your life and mine.

Joseph was found in an empty well in Genesis 37:24 because of the envy of his brothers; yet eventually through the sovereign determination of God is made prime minister, second in the land of Egypt.

Emptiness doesn’t have to be a negative situation or a negative emotion when you know God is truly sovereign in your life. In fact, the greatest place to see the true message of what God can do with “empty” things is to ponder the empty tomb of Christ. The empty tomb is not a message of defeat and hopelessness. The empty tomb speaks to all of us, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Revelation 1:18

Maybe today you are feeling empty. Maybe today the future doesn’t seem so hopeful for you. Maybe today you can’t see past the moment of pain at all. Instead, You find yourself  hearing the negative and defeating voice of emptiness, and not the life giving voice emptiness has under the command of God.

You need to choose which voice you are going to listen to. Choose the negative and defeating voice and you will reap what that path leads to. Choose the life giving voice of emptiness and you will reap what that path leads to. If you are jobless today, if you are broken today by stress that is almost unbearable, if you are in the middle of family drama that is endless, there is hope for you. Your emptiness is a gift if you listen to the right voice.

Emptiness is a crisis, but in every crisis there is an opportunity for God to show off for His own glory. If you truly believe that God is sovereign, then you must believe that God has a plan and purpose in and through your emptiness. You can’t ever forget that God always shows up to demonstrate His glory in His perfect timing. God can work wonders beyond your dreams!

Which voice will you choose? Will you choose the negative and defeating voice, or the life giving voice of God? I think we both know which is correct. Now choose wisely.

Can God Be Astonished?

April 24, 2013 — 5 Comments

wow

Would you like to have the kind of faith that astonishes God? Is it even possible to have astonishing faith? After all, God who created all things, include you and me, would be hard to astonish I would imagine.

Getting a prayer of faith answered by God isn’t what validates astonishing faith. Astonishing faith is validated when God see’s the belief of your heart that He can do anything. In other words, you completely believe God can do.

In Luke 7:1-10 the Bible tells the story of the healing of the Centurion’s servant. The Centurion has a servant who was sick, and he loved and cared for his servant greatly. Understanding how authority worked, due to his military career, he called for Jesus to heal his servant with perfect confidence.

He sends some Jewish elders to ask Jesus to rescue his servant from death. When they approach Jesus, they begged him eagerly. At this point,  there is no indication of astonishment by Jesus.  They are asking for Him to do something, but faith doesn’t seem to be the motive they are using to move Him to answer.

Instead, they appeal to what the Centurion has done for the Jewish people. It almost like they are using the old appeal and thought of, “He has done good things for us; would you now return the favor and answer his prayer?”

Regardless, Jesus goes with them anyway. As He nears the house, the centurion sent friends to meet Jesus and give Him another message. The message was, “Master, don’t trouble yourself. I don’t deserve to have you come under my roof. That’s why I didn’t think myself worthy to come to you in person. But-just say the word, and my slave will be healed.”

At this point,  Jesus was astonished at what He had just heard. One theologian said, “Jesus is astonished at the second message, and we are astonished at His astonishment! Normally in the gospels Jesus does and says things that surprise people; this is one of the few places where Jesus himself is surprised.”

That’s right! Jesus can be astonished at your faith in Him. You don’t need a big background of religious facts in your faith bag to give to Jesus to try and impress Him when you ask. You just need to believe He CAN! You must believe He is the sovereign one and Lord of heaven and earth. The centurion had grasped what many of the Jews had missed, the one true God was present, personal and active in Jesus and was walking among them.

Jesus is still walking among us today. He is still active among us today, and He lives on the inside of you. Ask Him in faith without regard for a yes, no or a maybe answer, and you will astonish Him, or at least come close trying.  God reserves the right to answer in any way He wants, but you should never hesitate to ask.

Now go and try to astonish God with your faith today.

1-im-nobody-gregory-letts

Nobodies seem to always want to be somebodies. It’s ingrained into us from the time we are small to make something out of our life that makes us stand out. The world even points us in the direction of being somebodies.

What if instead of over worrying and over seeking to become somebodies, we thrived in the honored call of God to serve as nobodies? God’s words have plenty of nobodies through out scripture that contributed much and even though they didn’t acquire prominence in the here, and now, they will earn notoriety in the then and there.

Often when we think of the Bible, our minds race to the giants of scripture. We think of the Apostle Paul, the disciples, John the Baptist, Moses…the list goes on and on, but I think you get the point.

Giants of scripture are everywhere. However, woven throughout the Bible and its redemptive story are names that are not as familiar to us; however, they are still people of faith and immense worth. These men and women stand in the background and have “cameo” roles, but without them the story would have no movement, substance or depth.

The key players get all the attention, but from God’s viewpoint the supporting characters are not forgotten  but rather an essential part to the story. They get no attention now, but one day they will get the attention God has always intended. In the then and there, we will hear the rest of the story.

Every person, irrespective of how insignificant humanity may think they are God considers a prominent player on the field of faith. If you are feeling like a nobody today, I ask you to smile and play your role faithfully because one day the first will be last and the last shall be first.

shadow_by_tihku

Be it my Heavy Metal Band of the 80’s, (click here to enjoy or laugh) or being a pastor for more than 24 years, I’ve always been on stage under the lights. It’s my role in life. I’m always in front of people. I’m usually the one that gets the recognition and applauds of the crowd. I’ve never felt like I’m the one that picked myself to be upfront.  I feel like being upfront  selected me. I know for sure God called me to preach, and that by default, has put in front of people for many years.

At times,  I don’t mind being up front. I know it’s my call and responsibility. At other times,  it feels like a curse. I’m always being evaluated, sometimes in a good way and then at other times in a bad way. At any given time,  it’s a mixed bag of opinions sitting right in front of me. To top it all off God watches it all go down.

There are some among us, (maybe you) which have a desire to be in the spotlight. Don’t misunderstand me; it’s not wrong to have that desire, just don’t miss the beauty of serving in the shadows. You are among truly esteemed company when you do. Many down through the history of following Christ have served in the shadows. Timothy served in the shadows. Gaius served in the shadows. Tertius served in the shadows.

Something tells me that one-day, those in the shadows will be brought into the light, and the last shall be first. It seems to me that serving in the shadows is underrated in the here and now, but will one day be elevated beyond anything you can imagine. If you are serving in the shadows, don’t get discouraged with your call. God is watching even when no one see’s what you are doing. Hagar gave God a name, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13a)

Keep serving in the shadows. God will reward you soon enough, and I will be watching from the back of the line with a smile as you get your rewards to lay at His feet.

Falling Forward

February 25, 2013 — 2 Comments

trust 3

My son showed me a video the other day on YouTube, and we had a good laugh watching it a few times. A father was filming his daughters learning the trust fall. If you’ve never heard of the trust fall, it’s a trust-building game often conducted as a group exercise in which a person deliberately allows himself or herself to fall, relying on the other members of the group to catch the person.

Anyway, in this video there were only two girls and the father. After, explaining to the girl who had never done it before how to do it, she took her place and prepared for her first trust fall. Her sister got behind her. The father was filming and talking her through it. Finally, she began to trust and let herself fall. She was suppose to fall backward into her sisters arms but instead, she fell forward and right onto her face. She didn’t’ get hurt, but man it was funny to watch.

The trust fall got me think about falling forward. The game of trust fall is designed to fall backwards. However, in the walk of the Christ follower we are called to trust forward. In other words,  we are called to fall forward as we trust Christ to lead us.

Many times God calls us forward and our faith is weak and so we fall away in disobedience. We think to ourselves, “There is no way God can pull off in my life what He is asking me to do?”

We see in our heart the story of Peter getting out of the boat at the command of Christ and then sinking. We say to ourselves, “No way is that going to happen to me, I’ll just say in the boat and drift the storm out.” However, deep down we know we can’t stay in the boat when He is calling. We know our faith won’t grow in the boat, and He won’t get the glory by us staying in the boat.

The only decision that is God honoring is to get out of the boat and not be afraid to fall forward. What is God calling you to do? Where is He calling you to fall forward? I challenge you! Go ahead and fall. He will be there to see you through.

The Ugly Grudge Bucket

February 21, 2013 — 4 Comments

bucket

There is just something ugly about a Christ follower carrying grudges. Carrying around that proverbial bucket filled with ugly is a laborious task to keep doing. In fact, not only is it laborious,but also it grieves the heart of God. We are supposed to be people of forgiveness.

Grudges lead to nowhere good! Grudges damage everything. Grudges will hurt you from the inside out and will produce a wedge between you and your fellowship with God. Letting go of grudges and moving beyond them is the only godly option.

Letting go of grudges can prove to be difficult. Let’s face it, when you have been hurt, it is hard to let go. Fear often plays a role in us not letting go because we don’t want to ever be hurt again. Therefore, we hold on to the grudge and keep our guard up. As right as that may feel, you and I know deep down inside it’s just downright wrong.

You can only be free when you forgive. Otherwise, you are in a prison of your own creation. You are letting the grudge be your Lord instead of Jesus. Anger and frustration control you more than you know. However, you would do well to remember Ephesians 4:26-27 – And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Grudges are nothing to play with. Grudges can take you down a path you never thought you would go. You might do something you will regret forever. Turn before it’s to late and you jeopardize your reputation and the position you carry as a Christ follower.

Holding on to a grudge is not done in a vacuum. The longer you hold a grudge the more you will entice others into thinking about the person you are angry at in the same way you do, then you become the blind leading the blind.  Read with your heart the following verses and enjoy the rest of your day.

Hebrews 12:14-15 – Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

keep-on-dreaming

That day in the future, you know the one I’m talking about. That dream of becoming a (Insert dream) will only be accomplished when you do the work today that needs to be done in order to get there. Dreams rarely just fall into your lap. Therefore, hard consistent effort must be you daily exercise.

When you apply faith to daily hard work, your dream will take one step closer to you. If you believe in your dream, and have the passion to see it come to pass, your dream will happen in God’s timing. Dreams are not accomplished through haste. Dreams require time to develop and grow.

All great dreams take time to be accomplished. Don’t let impatience steal your dream by causing you to give up before you cross the finish line.  You have the dedication it takes! There is no mountain you can’t climb with God help.

Nature often teaches us about patience if we will only notice. I spend a lot of time in the woods hunting and observing nature up close. For instance, I’ve seen birds building a nests as I’ve set for hours in a tree stand. I’ve watched them over hours and hours fly back, and fourth finding sticks and straw to build their nest.

At times, while the bird was away finding more material, the wind would blow away the previous work, but it didn’t deter the bird once it returned. The bird would simply replace what the wind blew away and continue building. The dream of a nest must move forward.

Pursuing your dream will not always be easy. You will have times that you feel like giving up and walking away. Hang in there! Don’t throw in the towel! God is with you and will give you the grace to take daily steps if you will just trust Him and keep moving and working.

Don’t let anything or anyone discourage you from dreaming your dream and pursuing it. Don’t allow stumbling blocks and bad days to be the strongest voice in your life telling you to stop. Don’t settle for average, but instead, set your sights high and land among the stars.

John Maxwell describes a dream as “an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.”

Allow me to give you a few tips on achieving the dream God has put inside of you.

1. Know what the dream is. (Write a book, Become a painter, Become…)

2. Plan the path and pray the path. (You need action steps empowered by prayer)

3. Bring others into your dream. (Find people who will keep you accountable)

4. Overcome fear. (Never allow fear to master you) 5. Stop waiting. (Today is the day you start and not tomorrow)

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your dreams be built in a day. Now get going.

 

mqdefaultIt’s funny how a smile on the outside doesn’t always take away the insecurity on the inside. Faking confidence is a hard life to live. Sadly, there are many among us that have lived with a silent agony that eats them from the inside out. Maybe you know someone that lives this way. Maybe that someone is you.

You have learned to fake your way to the front of the crowd, but inside you feel like you are the last in line. It’s more common than you might think to fake confidence.

There are many people who have mastered faking confidence. They hide their shyness behind a smile. They have learned a smile creates an impression that all is well on the inside. Many people make a fast decision like when picking out clothing to buy or what meal to order, thus painting the false impression they are not indecisive. Often, strong eye contact is a learned and practiced skill that portrays inner confidence.

Now don’t get me wrong, all of the above-mentioned things are not wrong. In fact,  they can be true signs of true confidence and can help build confidence as well. However, you know the truth. You are the one that actually knows what is going on deep inside of you. After many years of reflection on this issue I’m convinced that the greatest enemy of true confidence on the inside is fear, the fear that you are not good enough, the fear that you are not truly unconditional loved by anyone.

Until you come to believe that God loves you unconditionally and entirely, you will never have the proper foundation of pure confidence that is God’s gift of grace to those who find their value in His love for them alone. 1 John 4:18, teaches us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” Accepting the perfect love of God into your life drives out fear! Period! Once fear of, not being unconditionally loved is gone, you are free to live in the gift of confidence that has always been there.

By design, God has placed in your life- worth and extreme value. He created you and He didn’t make a mistake. You are not a mistake. You are His and that is enough. You will never feel confident at all times. However, the fastest way to recapture confidence on the inside is to pause for just a few moments and say within your heart, “God created me out of His love, therefore I’m priceless in His eyes, and that is all I need.”

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”