It’s All In The Attitude

Philippians 2:13-17 New International Version (NIV)

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.

I love the book of Philippians. It’s so full of positive attitude. Depending on the version you have the words “joy” and “rejoice” are mentioned about 10 times in Philippians, a book with only 4 short chapters. It is also the home of the “whatever’s”.

Philippians 4:8

8

philippians_banner
Image by bridget_willard via Flickr

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

It is the former verses that hit home today however. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”. I want to quote this verse to my son, like constantly. I think it would be more productive if I modeled this verse to him instead. Lately I’ve been a grumbler. My energy level is down to zero. I don’t want to do anything. My attitude is….”who will care anyway?”

Who will care? God cares. He cares if I give in to the desire to sleep all day long. He cares if I make a promise and then decide that keeping it isn’t important. He cares about all of it because He cares about me. It’s not so much the condition of my floors that concern God as it is the attitude of obedience and gratitude.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing”. Everything? Yes, everything! But there is so much to do, I don’t know where to start. Where do I start? It doesn’t matter where you start…. Just start. Complete something, gives thanks for the energy that you had to finish it and move to the next thing. Pray for the energy to complete that next thing and when it’s finished give thanks again. Everything we need can be found in Jesus. Jesus can give us the drive to carry on. Do everything without grumbling or arguing…. Even to yourself. Don’t grumble, pray. And then change your “whatever’s” to the “whatever’s” listed in Philippians. It’s a short book, give it a look and start your days with an attitude boost.

Open The Eyes of My Heart sung by 10-year-old Autistic, deaf boy.

What do you do with your old clothes?

Clothing in history
Image via Wikipedia

Galatians 3:25-29 The Message (MSG)

But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise. In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham‘s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.

Who doesn’t love getting new clothes? I love clothes. I love shopping the outlet pages of my favorite catalogs on line. I love when the new clothes arrive. I love digging them out of the box, taking them out of the plastic bag and trying them on. Sometimes I’m thrilled with the fit and look of the new clothes. Other times I’m not so thrilled. The anticipation of the new garment did not get validated in the way the garment looked on me. This is not the garments fault of course, it’s me. My anticipation of how wonderful the garment would look on me was not realistic. Even if the garment fits perfectly and I enjoy wearing it, the excitement doesn’t last. The garment isn’t new for very long. My closet is a living testimony to my search for something new to wear that will stay new and exciting to wear. How easy it is for me to walk into my closet, look at the clothes and think…. “I’ve got nothing to wear”.

We try to do this with our faith too. We search for the right song, the right verse, the right moment to hang onto , pouring our religion into that song or verse or moment. “This is what it’s all about!” But soon the song becomes boring, the verse becomes mundane and the moments fade. We look around our “closet” and think, “I’ve got nothing to wear”. So we search again. I love this version of the Bible; I love the expressive-ness of it. “Your baptism in Christ was no just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe.” I would venture to guess that the majority of us don’t have a clue to what an adult faith wardrobe is. We won’t find it in any outlet catalog. As much as music is soothing and inspiring, we won’t find this wardrobe on YouTube either. The only place this wardrobe can be found is in the Bible. It’s not just a couple of verses that clothe us in the adult faith wardrobe, it’s the entire Bible. That is where we will find Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s promises to us. The next time you feel like you’ve got nothing to wear, open God’s Word instead of the latest catalog. It’s better for the soul and the budget.

Gracious God, thank you for our ability to clothe ourselves in Jesus!  Remind us daily that the only garment that makes a difference is salvation.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Been Through the Water ~ Kyle Matthews

Jesus Came For The World

Corcovado jesus
Image by @Doug88888 via Flickr

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (MSG)

16-20Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ‘s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

21How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus Christ is the Savior.  Not just my savior, not just your savior.  He is the world’s Savior!  This song is the most expressive visual of that fact than any I’ve ever heard or seen.  It’s a fairly familiar song, but don’t pass by this version of it.

Not much else to say…..   🙂Revelation Song

Stop, Look, and Rejoice in the Day

Psalm 118:1,5-9, 22-29

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

5 In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
and the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?
7 Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me.
I will look in triumph at those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in people.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

22 The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.
24 This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
 25 Please, Lord, please save us.
Please, Lord, please give us success.
26 Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God, shining upon us.
Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you!
You are my God, and I will exalt you!

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

 

Yesterday morning was one of those mornings when all I could do was marvel at God’s day as it was unfolding before me.  I was driving to see my bestest of all best buds.  The drive takes about 20 minutes.  This was a crisp January morning; cold but strangely void of snow.  The sleeping countryside shimmered beneath a fresh veil of morning frost.  A full moon was still suspended in the early morning sky, shining brighter as the sun approached the eastern horizon, reluctant to relinquish her hold on the night.  As the morning dawn began to give way to sunlight I could see a light fog hugging the curves of the landscape dancing with the low clouds of smoke drifting about from the wood furnaces hard at work in the farm houses I passed.  With each moment the sun advanced turning the sky everywhere that beautiful pale blue and soft blush pink that beckons us to start the day.  Still the moon shone brightly, clinging to western horizon, just above the tree line.  The country highway I drove was a quiet one so I was able to drive slower than I usually would to soak in as much of this beauty as I could, knowing this gift would soon disappear as the minute hand marched forward into the day.  Even the cows lazing about seemed a lovely gift on this morning, almost as if they were encouraging me to slow down and fill my soul with this incredible morning.

This is the day that the Lord has made.  I’m afraid to say that I don’t normally take the time to enjoy the beauty of the Michigan countryside surrounding the tiny town that I live in.  I’m always much too busy with the busyness of doing nothing it seems, to even notice the beauty in the places I take for granted.  I’m so very grateful that I did not do that yesterday.  The memory of that beautiful morning hangs in the art gallery of my mind as an exceptionally precious gift.

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!!!

 

His Love Endures Forever ~ Chris Tomlin

Who can take it along?

“[Treasures in Heaven] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

Treasures on earth.  Big house(s), big shiny cars, lots of “stuff”.  Earthly comforts that we as members of the “civilized” world feel entitled to.  We strive for it from the day we get our first paycheck.  Television shows about constant remodeling and upgrading certainly don’t help me in this area.

My parents were raised in the depression era.  They are very frugal and as a result are now quite comfortably retired.  Growing up though, I saw this as a major drawback.  Having been told by some girls during my Jr. High years that I could no longer be friends with them because my family didn’t have enough money didn’t help that.  I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to prove them wrong.  Child-ish I know, but it’s still there buried in my accumulated pain.

My husband’s family lived very modestly as well.  They lacked for nothing overall, but he could still feel that tug to have more.  He spent his life being an over-achiever to reach his target of more.

When you combine these two personalities you come up with a “More Mentality” out of control.  We had the big vacation home in AZ, we had two shiny (used) Jaguar cars.  We always planned for bigger and better, regardless of the debt.  Just weeks before Larry was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, we’d been strategizing ways to get “enough” for him to be able to retire early.   We could always justify our extravagance by our giving.  We weren’t stingy with the money God had blessed us with, so surely God must want us to have all of this, right?

That all changed so quickly.  One day life was going on as normal.  The next day our world fell apart.  All of our “more” meant nothing.  There was no way that our vacation home could make the cancer go away.  The cars became nothing more than a way to get to daily radiation treatments.  All of the money quickly flew out the window.  We discovered very quickly that all of these earthly treasures were useless.  The only treasure we had in the end was our relationship with Jesus.  For Larry, this relationship was everything!  For me, it was my sole source of comfort.

People remember Larry for many different things, but they all remember his extraordinary faith.

Where are your treasures?

Lose My Soul ~ Toby Mac

You want me to go where???

Isaiah 6

Isaiah’s Commission

 1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another:

   “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
   the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

   And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”Isaiah 6

How easy would it be for us to say, “Here I am Lord, send me!”, when faced with magnificence that Isaiah saw in his vision?  I think I would be much like Arnold Horschach from Welcome Back Kotter.   “OOH, OOH, OOH!  I’ll go, I’ll do it! Send me!!!”  Just the thought of such holiness brings waves of longing and contentedness and wonder.  Looking around at the broken world around us, who among us wouldn’t desire to gaze on the glory of the Lord?

And yet it is this broken world around us that claims the gaze of God.  It is this world that He desires us to go out into on His behalf, shining His radiance to the ones He loves.  But whom is it that God loves?  Whom are we to love on His behalf.  Surely not the homeless man who sleeps in the trees at the park each night and searches for pop cans during the day to buy enough alcohol to keep him numb during the long frigid winter nights.  God would not want us to love the young woman who walks the streets looking for her next “job”, oblivious to her beauty and worth in the Lord’s sight.  Would He really ask us to help the fatherless boy who walks alone, head down and paints incredible works of art on the side of the buildings while his mom works three jobs.  His artwork is just graffiti after all, not potential.

We can come up with a million reasons why we should just stay to ourselves.  Money, time, safety, “that job belongs to someone else, God didn’t wire me that way.”  “I’m too shy, I wouldn’t know what to say.”  Yes, these are my reasons.  It’s so easy to say, “God, send me!”, and yet when He says GO, I say, “Ummmmmmmm, I didn’t really mean that exactly Lord, could you just send me somewhere else?  Maybe somewhere not quite so …  real.  OK?”  But where we live is real.

Start with a smile.  Progress to a “Hello”.  Maybe even, “How are you?” and then wait for a real answer.  Pray for them, then ask to pray with them.  Pack a lunch for the homeless guy.  Look the young woman in the eyes and smile.  Show her that you truly see her.  Maybe bring the young man some paints and paper.  Service to God doesn’t have to be hard.  It doesn’t take much to show people that you care about them.

Heavenly Father, we long to see your glory.  Remind us that we do see you everywhere we are, everywhere we look.  We see you in the world that Jesus came to serve.  Help us to see that the places Jesus walked are the same places we are to walk.  Among the broken, the poor, the hopeless.  It’s grungy work, but we are grungy people too.  Our mission is here and now.  Forgive us Lord, for wanting to walk away instead of walk toward your world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Mercy in Me

Lord, can you just hold me?

Epiphany! 

1. a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.

2. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.

3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

1 Peter 1:3-12

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

January 6, 2009…it was a “normal” Tuesday afternoon.  Larry was done with chemo and radiation, and we were hopeful that he was improving.  The steroids that he was still on made it difficult for him to sleep though so Larry had decided to go to bed and try to nap.  I was upstairs in the office getting caught up on the book work and trying to keep the dogs quiet so Larry could rest.  I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what was happening in our bedroom just below me while I worked.

About 30 to 40 minutes later Larry came up the stairs.  I was so disappointed for him because this meant that sleep had once again eluded my exhausted husband.   However, when he sat down in his desk chair and turned toward me I was instantly alert.  Something had happened. His face was red, but glowing.  There were tears flowing down his face.  I’ve never seen such amazing humbleness and awe.  While he was lying down God had come to Larry and gave him his own Epiphany.

Larry told me that as he’d been laying in our bed he physically felt God’s hand under his own elbow, holding him up.  Larry said that he had felt as if he were lying on water and God’s hand was keeping him afloat.  God told my husband not worry anymore about the company that we owned, HE would be taking care of it.  God also told Larry that everything was going to turn out just the way it was supposed to.

I don’t remember the exact words anymore, just the look on Larry’s face ~ the look of all-consuming love.  For days afterward Larry would say, “I don’t want to lose this feeling.  How can anyone experience what I did and not be changed?”

Eventually the glow left and the nightmares of his disease returned in the form of a seizure while driving us home and more surgery followed by more chemo.  The glow returned weeks before Larry’s death when he could no longer communicate with us.  Instead he communicated with angels who were sent to comfort him.

Everything did turn out as it was supposed to of course, just not how the rest of us wanted it to.  How comforting to me it is though, that my beloved husband experienced moments that I can only dream of.  Moments that I cherish.  Moments when I could not comfort him, but God could.

We are never ever alone.

Todd Agnew ~ Sit With You A While