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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reactions

Pastor John's sermon God's GPS and Bro. Larry's Sunday School Class.

Our Reactions to what happens around us.

Most of this week we've been at my in-laws house as my father in law is not doing well. Even in this stressful time God has been faithful to speak to me about different things as I pondered about His will for a persons life.

Many of us are familiar with Charles Swindoll's quote
"I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” If we believe this then it means that even with life's way of throwing curve balls at us we still have great responsibility for our outcomes based upon our reactions. The quote looks us square in the face with the reality that even with the hurts and brokeness that come as a part of life it is we who determine our ultimate victory or defeat.

I'm thankful that many times we have opportunity to compose ourselves and put on a better reaction.
Paul the apostle talked about putting things on and off. He was talking about attitudes and actions that please or displease the Lord. Thankfully he explained the Holy Spirit can renew and transform us day by day as we yield to him. Even though I came to the Lord as a child...I still find situations where my flesh rises up and my reaction is not what it should be to help a situation or a relationship. Thankfully many times my initial reaction is not in the presence of the person or persons who otherwise would get a piece of my unyielded mind. There are times when hard things need to be addressed and said...but it makes all the difference when your attitude has been cleansed of that self righteousness that only thinks of itself. Take heart that no matter how old you are in the Lord he is faithful to reign you in and to give you wisdom and calm to deal properly with any given situation.

Some of the things the Holy Spirit will talk to us about that will help us in our reactions.

Perspective:
We see things from our own perspective based on our experience or knowledge concerning a situation in our life. The Spirit will often urge us to change perspective enough to see where someone's mindset is compared to ours. He will ask us to take note of what things have affected their words, actions and reactions. This doesn't mean we change our mind, but it does allow us to speak with a compassion and understanding that we wouldn't have otherwise. Sometimes I'm tempted to "fix things quick" and get things straight....but that can land a person in trouble if they bypass the Spirit's call to take a moment and ponder someones perspective. This can also come into play during a conversation....be willing to listen.

Forgiveness
Reactions can be totally different when we choose to forgive someone who has hurt us. Maybe someone has had a bad day, perhaps they are going through strain at work or at home or a myriad of other circumstances. When we choose to be aware that not every offense is caused by mean-spiritedness we are well on our way to redirecting our reaction to a situation. There are times when someone is purposely mean...maybe they are reacting to their own hurt and loss...and it is then that we must decide whether we will allow them to pull us down with them. While we don't have to be buddy buddy in such cases...letting go of anger and the desire to pay back looses us from the trap of walking in sour attitudes and reactions.

Remember how you react effects yourself and other people.
Have you ever been in a good mood singing a song as you work only to be stopped short by someone who clouds the room with anger and a sour expression. Maybe you've been the one with the cloud hanging over your head. No one is saying that life is all a bowl of cherries....or that your every waking moment should filled with the "sound of music"...but remember you affect those around you. Take some time to allow God to speak to you when you feel that cloud. He wants to shine some sonlight into your day if you will allow Him to.

Here are some Don'ts
  • Don't despair if you've blown it with your reaction...ask forgiveness and trust God to restore relationships.
  • Don't assume that you are the sole blame for every situation of offense or stress. Remember just as you must yield your reactions so must others.
  • Don't give up. The apostle Paul said, "I have not yet attained". I don't know about you but that sure gives me hope.
Maybe you have some experiences or some more Don'ts to add to my list. Feel free to go ahead and reply.









Thursday, January 14, 2010

.Taking Inventory

Pastor John's sermon The Truth About Forgiveness is a reminder that our life can be blocked if we don't forgive others when we have been forgiven of so much.

Please pray for missionaries to Haiti Randy and Anita Chabot and their daughter Amelia. They are okay but last I heard Amelia's fiance was not found. I sent an email from Amelia out a few nights ago with an update on how they were doing. At that point she knew her computer battery wouldn't last long and that it would be hard for her to get ahold of us at all.

Taking Inventory
I turned 45 years old in December. The passage of time causes one to take inventory of their life and what they've accomplished. This year I watched "It's a Wonderful Life" with my niece. It spoke to my heart...because sometimes our inventory is not like God's inventory. We can have our outlook soured by circumstances that are not a finished work yet. You all know the story of "It's A Wonderful Life" George Bailey looks upon his life with all of its trials and wonders if anything was worth while...indeed he wonders if he is worth while. He is kind hearted and spends his life caring about the needs of others but is accused of being a poor business man by the scheming Mr. Potter who cares nothing for the welfare of anybody but himself.

Our worth in God's eyes
Sometimes we cannot see with our eyes the worth and value that God puts upon us as an individual human being. We examine ourselves and see only brokenness. We see circumstance that are in the now before they are truly finished and we cast a judgment about ourselves, others and even God. We must be careful not to let the "Mr. Potters" of the world set the criteria for our inventory. Paul the apostle said that he would let God judge his accomplishments not the whims of man.

A look at life without us
It might seem a little self important to say that without us things might not be as good for those around us...it is hard to get past the idea that we might be getting prideful to even go there. Yet God knows every hair upon our head and every coming and going we make. If we yield our lives to His purpose then whether or not we "see" our worth at the moment...we can be assured that we do matter. Maybe you are in the midst of a mess complete with upset emotions and depressed thought patterns. That still doesn't mean that you haven't had a godly impact. We are often the toughest critics of our own life. Your inventory of yourself might not have a high rating...but remember there are those who would rate your contribution higher. God can make something new from a broken life...His sense of value is far different than ours.

Sometimes others don't see the value in another human being until they no longer have what they once had in relationship.
Whether it is a young person going off to college, a husband or wife who are not getting along, or simply a kind next door neighbor we often don't see true value in someone until we are removed from situations or their presence. I remember longing to be on my own...out of the watchful eye of my parents. Yet when I went to college I found myself missing the very people who I wanted to distance myself from because I began to see their worth when they were no longer close by. Absence doesn't always have to be the way we realize the worth of others or our worth to them...we can take a moment in our busy lives to make a mental list of the things that we are thankful for about people around us and yes even things about ourselves.

Evil intents at work
In the movie It's a Wonderful Life Mr. Potter is the source of scheming with selfish intent. His trickery and mean spiritedness was the assault that caused the final blow in George Bailey's ability to go forward. George felt like he couldn't take one more step and that his whole life had been for nought. The Word tells us the we wrestle not against flesh and blood. We wrestle instead against the forces of the enemy of our soul. We are not blind to the fact that often the tool of the enemy is a human being caught in the devil's trap. George believed the lie of the enemy and it plummeted him into a cycle of self destructive thoughts and emotions that would have killed him without God's intervention. These feelings brought on by the master accuser caused him to give up on life. We must be diligent to not fall for a lie instead of God's truth.

God's view
There is a moment near the end of the movie where George finally gets it. The pharmacist saved from a deadly mistake caused by the grief of losing his son, his brother saved in childhood by George from a drowning accident lived and was able in turn to save many men in battle, and the families who looked to him for help in a time of trouble. He sees that his life matters. He sees that the world would be less with out his contribution to it. I hope as you ponder the well known movie you see that your life has value. Jesus is the source of that value. His love for people and his desire to serve came as a gift from heaven's throne.

The next time you take inventory of your life ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He'll show you areas that you can improve upon. He'll show you those things that please Him about you. Don't believe the lies the devil tries to cast.