He Is Your Life

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So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. Colossians 3:1-4 (The Message)

When I consider the passage above, I am reminded that we are to die to our old self and live in the newness of Jesus Christ. This is a choice, even though the Holy Spirit guides us, because we can choose to grieve the Holy Spirit and live in the old self. I find that sometimes I want to put on the old self. Anyone else? Our nature is to satisfy self and live in our desires. This is how the world lives and we see it everywhere every day.

I love how the Message translation reads “so if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it”. So true….actions say a lot don’t they? Pursue the things over which Christ presides is a perfect way of telling us to pursue godly things. I don’t always feel like reaching for my bible first thing but when I do, I am the one who is blessed. I am the one who benefits from spending time with God. Then I find like the next verse that I am not self-absorbed when I do spend time with God. I think about others and I seek to help others just like God would do. I am able to be a vessel for Him and be used in ways that only God can use a person.

If I am dead to my old life and my new life is real, then Christ is my life. Of course, this is not referring to physical death it’s referring to spiritual death. However, I want to share something about physical death. In my position at the church, I am the Director of Congregational Care and Adult Discipleship. In the role of congregational care, I help to care for people who are sick and hurting and some of the sick die. Being with those who are believers when they die, those are holy moments. You feel an assurance and presence of God in those times. I was at the bedside of my mother when she went to be with God. It was beautiful and something I will always cherish. She had fought a long battle with cancer and it was time to go be with God.

On May 15, 2015, my husband and I were driving home from dinner and we took another route home instead of our usual. This two-lane road did not have shoulders and it is a road with a few hills. It’s a pretty drive and it was a nice evening, still daylight around 7:30 pm. We came over a small hill to see two cars in front of us and it was evident they had just collided. There was a car in front of us and we stopped. We jumped from our cars to see it was a horrible accident, a head-on collision. Pieces of the cars and items from the cars were strewn everywhere. One of the drivers was coming in and out of consciousness and the other was unresponsive. We could not get them out of the cars because the cars were too mangled. All we could do was call 911 and try to put out a small fire under the hood of one of the cars. You can imagine our relief when the fire trucks showed up to make sure this situation didn’t get worse. That accident didn’t end well for one of the victims and a 28 year old woman was pronounced dead at the scene. This has affected me and like most traumatic experiences and I am changed.

My perspective is fresh and my purpose is clear—we do not have time to waste. There are people out there who do not have a relationship with God through Jesus. I know that I cannot and do not save people, that is God’s job alone and I am not judging this young woman’s salvation because only God knows a person’s heart. But I will tell you that following the accident, I could not find evidence of God in her life when looking at social media and family comments. A memorial service was held at a Universalism Unitarian Church and this tells me there is confusion among her family regarding Jesus. All roads do not lead to heaven only the path through Jesus Christ. I am praying for her family as they grieve and for a real saving knowledge of how to receive eternal life.

So what are some ways we can share Jesus with people we barely know? May I suggest putting on Christ every day and living out the Christian life by putting on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another. Above all, the scriptures tell us to put on love—the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:12-14).

Pray for opportunities to share Jesus with others and God will give them to you. And if you chicken out at the time of opportunity, pray for another opportunity. I have found God to be faithful to give second chances and third chances and so on and so on.

Here’s a thought, next time you are at the store, notice the person who is at the register. Make time to have a one to two minute conversation about them. I have found that some are quiet and don’t want to talk but many are eager for someone to ask them something about them. They have to say things like, “did you find everything ok today?” and if you respond with a question about them such as “how’s your day going” or “how are you today”, I’m always amazed at how people want to share. We just don’t take the time in our busy all about me world to ask a simple question. So think about making yourself available at an inconvenient time to listen to someone else by acknowledging them. Nothing makes a person feel more valued that someone spending time with them and often times, it only takes a minute or two. This is just one small way to show God’s love to people and you never know the impact it could have on a person. You may just be the only person who seems to care that day.

So don’t shuffle around with your eyes to the ground
Absorbed with the things in front of you
Look up, be alert and make yourself found
Be the person God can use.

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WWJD with Difficult People?

Good insight and advice.

Walter Bright

My first attempt at a title for this post was, “7 types of people I really don’t like.” I know! I know I should love people unconditionally. I know I should go the extra mile. I know I need to be like Jesus, but I fall short so many times  in my love and patience for difficult people. How many can handle a church member whose always giving you a dirty look, a sarcastic remark or a backhanded compliment.

I can still remember the conversation between a church member and myself as we sat in the hospital room visiting with his wife.  In our conversation, I had mentioned that I’d received some pictures from the current pastor of a church I pioneered few years back. 10 years after I left the church, it had become on the fasted growing churches in that region.

My friend looked at me and said, “well, I don’t…

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The Storm

dark clouds

The Storm

The storm is coming, clouds dark and black
I can see through the clouds the sun is in the back

The sun’s yellow rays shining through to see
The beautiful skyline God laid before me

He wants us to know that His Son will always shine
Even through the dark clouds He is there behind

For the Lord our God need not hide
But gives us opportunities to release any pride

So give to the Lord, all your heart, soul, strength and mind
And trust in the Lord, He has been there all the time

Kim Thomas
August, 2002

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Love Made Known

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John 17:20-26 Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus was betrayed and led to his death on the cross, but right before that happened he prayed for all believers. He prayed for unity among believers and complete unity with himself and God. He said if we have this unity, then the world will know that God sent Jesus and the world would understand God’s love.

I wonder if we have missed the mark and this saddens me. I don’t know if we are united as a group of believers. I don’t necessarily see us all working together for the kingdom as much as working to make our own churches or ministries successful. We get so hung up on our doctrine that we forget lives are on the line.

Last weekend, I attended a memorial service for my uncle who was a Jehovah Witness. It’s my understanding that he believed Jesus existed but didn’t believe he needed him as a Savior. He didn’t believe in hell and didn’t believe he needed “saving” from his sin. He “worked” hard to achieve in that faith and believed his “good works” would allow him to be resurrected when Jesus comes to establish his kingdom on earth. Until then, he will be asleep like being under anesthesia is how it was explained at his memorial service.

I loved my uncle, he was my mother’s brother. There were approximately 20 Christ believing followers at his service among approximately 100 Jehovah Witnesses. We were definitely outnumbered but all of us were praying for them while they were trying to convince us of their belief system. You see the power of God and God’s love can and will transform hearts under any circumstances. Unfortunately, it’s too late for my uncle but it’s never too late for those who are still drawing breath.

Will you unite with me and join me in praying for those who need to know God’s love and saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? Because when Christ does return, my hope is that we can say we did all we could.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:13

Cloudy Times

Today the clouds are gray and there is a breath of coolness in this summer morn. It is summer, yet the day doesn’t reveal the strong nature of a summer day in Texas. The day seems questionable as to whether it will produce rain or sun and if it will be warm or cool.

I find myself wondering what the day will bring much like the circumstances that surround me. After all, this is the last day my husband will perform his job. He was hired nearly 14 years ago by his company and was recently told his job was being eliminated. Now he waits to hear if he has a job as this is the last day he will work in his current role. This leaves uncertainty and with uncertainty comes insecurity.

When I give this much thought, I feel silly. Silly because who knows what tomorrow brings? None of us really know but we plan according to today and last week and last month and last year. We like certainty and a plan yet this is not reality. The only thing I am certain of is the God I know and serve yet have never seen with my eyes. Isn’t it funny the things that seem certain with our eyes is not and what we cannot see is certain. This is the whole premise of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen”.

Dave Ramsey says that women have a gland that spasms when we worry about the uncertainty of security and provision (ie: money). He is right, we do! Did God make us this way? It’s funny to me that as a woman I have this “gland” yet I also have the ability to trust God completely and know he always provides. I will let the gland rest as I trust God with this matter. You see God knew this was coming all along and I’ll just bet on God to have a better plan when this is all said and done.

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Three Good Questions

As Jesus went on from there. He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So he got up and followed Him. Matthew 9:9

Following is leadership and leadership is following. You can’t have one without the other. Jesus challenges us to follow him just like he did with Matthew.  Notice Jesus didn’t say, “Do you want to follow me?”. He said, “Follow Me!”. This was not a question but a statement. Matthew got up and followed him. May I suggest that when we are following Jesus, we are leading. We are leading simply by following Jesus Christ.

I’ve been particularly interested in leadership recently. Over the last few years, many speakers and teachers are talking about leadership. Andy Stanley has a Leadership Podcast titled, Simply Lead. Andy tells us to “keep leadership simple” and as your organization is growing, it typically grows with complexity and that is an unavoidable reality. Our approach to leadership should not be complex because our clarity in leading is vital to the growth. Andy tells us to ask three simple questions as we consider the vision or mission of our organization. 

“What are we doing?”  Asking yourself the vision or mission statement of your organization should bring clarity in answering this question. Does this new idea or project follow our vision for the organization? When everyone asks this same question, your team is united in moving forward.

“Why are we doing it?” This is where we find inspiration and clears up what’s at stake if we don’t do it. This goes beyond money and finds us considering how we can make the world a better place. What would be lacking in our country or community if we went away. This is a question all organizations can ask themselves. The leader has to ask him/herself why am I doing this. The “why am I doing this” helps us to see our personal and corporate passion. “Why” has the power to get us through the tough times and is the reason we don’t quit.

“Where do I fit in?” What is my critical role as a leader and what is my unique contribution. What is my core responsibility and am I doing what only I can do? Am I in my sweet spot as a leader. These questions helps us to re-center ourselves. We are at our best when we are doing what we do best and our organization is at it’s best when everybody is doing what they do best.

Andy suggests a one sentence responsibility description for your employees. If all else fails, this is the one thing that is expected from a particular person. That way, with everything else going on in a busy workplace, this helps the employee keep focus and answer the question as to “where do I fit in?”. This helps streamline an organization as the organization becomes more complex.

I love these three simple questions and how they are helping me to stay focused in practical ways in all areas of my life. I hope I’m a better leader which ultimately makes me a better follower. And since we are all following someone, I hope and pray you choose to follow Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).Image