Reset, Reflect, Refocus

Welcome to 2017.  I know I’m a few days late, and it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’m looking forward to this year being a year of amazing things.  2016 was a 2016 of a year, but like all the years that came before it, it had its ups and downs.  It’s all in how you want to look at the year you just left and the year you are going into.  We are 9 days in as of today, and if you are reading this, guess what, you are alive and have the internet.

I challenge all of you reading this to change YOU this year.  You are the only thing that YOU can control.  I titled this post: Reset, Reflect, Refocus for this main reason, we are 9 days into the year, and many of us have already forgotten the resolutions that we made, or didn’t make, or life has been life already these 9 days in.  So my challenge to you is to wake up everyday and reset your mind again.  Wake up with the attitude that today is gonna be a good day.

Reflect every night and everyday about what God did for you during that day and the day before.  Can’t think of anything?  Are you somewhere warm and dry?  Did you eat?  Did you find a parking spot at the mall?  Look back not only on the previous day, but on your previous days, months, years.  Look back at your history book with God.  The last time your electric was about to be shut off but wasn’t, the last time your car was running on fumes and you coasted into the gas station, the last time you were in the drive through and the person in front of you paid for your meal.  When was the last time you did something for someone else?  God, provides for us, not because we give to those we don’t know, not because we deserve it, not because of our actions, not because we are or aren’t “good” enough.  God provides for us, because he loves us.

As we start out this year refocusing on what is actually important, we can make the best out of our lives and situations.  Refocus your life, and check your priorities.  Make sure that you know why you are doing what you are doing, and that you haven’t just become a cold machine, that goes through the motions of life.  Look back on what you have been through, and figure out what you are going to let God do to improve the life’s of those that love you, and those that don’t even know you yet, through you.

Sometimes life is about taking the sourest lemons life has to offer and making something resembling lemonade…

What’s your hope?

So last week I started with passion, and this week I want to move on to hope and faith. No not the sitcom, but true hope and faith.
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hope |hōp|noun1 a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen: he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information | I had high hopes of making the Olympic team.• a person or thing that may help or save someone: their only hope is surgery.• grounds for believing that something good may happen: he does see some hope for the future.2 archaic a feeling of trust.verb [ no obj. ]want something to happen or be the case: he’s hoping for an offer of compensation | [ with clause ] : I hope that the kids are OK.• [ with infinitive ] intend if possible to do something: we’re hoping to address all these issues.

faith |fāTH|noun1 complete trust or confidence in someone or something:this restores one’s faith in politicians.2 strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.• a system of religious belief: the Christian faith.• a strongly held belief or theory: the faith that life will expand until it fills the universe.

faith – noun 1 he justified his boss’s faith in him: trust, belief, confidence,conviction; optimism, hopefulness, hope. 2 she gave her life for her faith: religion, church, sect,denomination, (religious) persuasion, (religious) belief,ideology, creed, teaching, doctrine.

hope – noun 1 I had high hopes: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation,ambition, aim, goal, plan, design; dream, daydream, pipe dream.2 a life filled with hope: hopefulness, optimism, expectation,expectancy; confidence, faith, trust, belief, conviction,assurance; promise, possibility. 3 have we any hope of winning? chance, prospect, likelihood,probability, possibility; informal shot. verb 1 he’s hoping for a medal: expect, anticipate, look for, be hopeful of, pin one’s hopes on, want; wish for, long for,dream of. 2 we’re hoping to address the issue: aim, intend, be looking, have the intention, have in mind, plan, aspire.

To me, hope and faith, are the same but different. Faith to me is the belief of things unseen, and hope is what we want to happen. I have faith that the studs in the walls will hold up my house, I have faith that my heart will continue to beat, I have faith that God will provide for me and my family. I hope that my car starts every morning, I hope that my computer works properly everyday, I hope that I save my blog posts… It is also my hope that my daughter will grow up to be a great woman of God, and find a nice christian husband. I hope that I am the father figure that God has called me to be, I am the husband that God has called me to be.

If faith is a belief in the unseen, why do so many people say the the will only believe in things they can see. Do we not have any faith anymore. To me the best description of faith I have ever heard is; “I’ve never seen the wind, but I have seen the effects of the wind… but I still know that there is wind.” So while we can’t see God, we can see his creation all around us. We can see and feel the effects of his presence around us. Just when we don’t know where else to turn, we see a way out. God knows the answers the entire time, we have to look to him to get those answers.

Think about some of the team building exercises that are out there; the trust fall, walking blindfolded while someone else guides you. With all of these exercises you have to hope that people will catch you, and that they will guide you properly. Look at all of the plays that are used during a football game; the quarterback has to hope that his line will keep him protected, and that a receiver is going to get open, and be running the route that he is expected to run so that the quarterback knows exactly where to look.

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It comes down to the fact that we need to have a child-like faith. We just need to trust God that all will be taken care of. As kids, we didn’t care about the things that our parents did, house and car payments, bills, etc. We just wanted to know that mom and/or dad would be there to: pick us up when we fell down, make dinner, and that things were the way they were because that’s how God made it. As we get older, we start applying logic to our thinking, we start questioning faith with logic. It is here that we have to go back to the child-like faith, and realize that the things of God, don’t always make sense in the now. Many times we can look back on situations that happened in the past and see where God was in it, but it is hard to see when it is happening.

The biggest question that I want to pose to you now is, where are you putting your hope? Do you put your hope and faith into people, material things, sports? Do you put your hope and faith in God and Family? Take this time leading up to Easter, and reflect on where you place your hope, and what your passions are.

What’s your passion?

Preface:  I’m starting this post as part of a multi-post set leading up to Easter.  The post series is going to be about Passion, Love, Faith and Hope.  Feel free to comment definitions of these topics in your own words.

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What’s your passion?

passion |ˈpaSHən|

noun

1 strong and barely controllable emotion: a man of impetuous passion.

• a state or outburst of such emotion: oratory in which he gradually works himself up into a passion.

• intense sexual love: their all-consuming passion for each other | she nurses a passion for Thomas.

• an intense desire or enthusiasm for something: the English have a passion for gardens.

• a thing arousing enthusiasm: modern furniture is a particular passion of Bill’s.

2 ( the Passion )the suffering and death of Jesus: meditations on the Passion of Christ.

• a narrative of this from any of the Gospels.

• a musical setting of any of these narratives: an aria from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

passion

noun

1 the passion of activists: fervor, ardor, enthusiasm, eagerness, zeal, zealousness, vigor, fire, fieriness, energy, fervency, animation, spirit, spiritedness, fanaticism. ANTONYMS apathy.

2 he worked himself up into a passion: (blind) rage, fit of anger/temper, temper, towering rage, tantrum, fury, frenzy.

3 hot with passion: love, (sexual) desire, lust, ardor, infatuation, lasciviousness, lustfulness.

4 his passion for football: enthusiasm, love, mania, fascination, obsession, fanaticism, fixation, compulsion, appetite, addiction; informal thing.

5 French literature is my passion: obsession, preoccupation, craze, mania, hobbyhorse.

6 the Passion of Christ: crucifixion, suffering, agony, martyrdom.

Passion like love takes on so many different meanings for different people and different times.  It is during this time of year, that we hear a lot about passion.  Churches are preparing for Passion Plays, we hear about the Passion of Jesus, and we hear about the passion of basketball.  As you can see 1 of these is obviously not like the others.  In thinking about this I was trying to come up with my own definition of passion – the way you feel about something so strongly that it is what keeps you going.

That was the best own-word definition that I could come up with.  I also wanted to try and separate passion from love, because you can feel passionate about something that does not fall into the realm of love.  I’m passionate about writing, my family, technology, cars, The Ohio State Buckeyes, and while in a way I love,  those things, I don’t love them in the way I’m taking these posts.  I write because I like to do it, technology is my job – and I enjoy what I do.  Also lets face it, I live in Lexington, around here there is a PASSION for Kentucky basketball.

If passion is what gets you going and keeps you going, what is your passion?  Is it your family, your job, your team? Think about the things that mean the most to you in your life, what would you do to make sure that they/it had your full attention?  This takes me to a deeper thought on Passion; The Passion that God has for us.  Again as we come up on Easter, we are reminded of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.  He took our place, and took our sins and inequities upon himself, so that we would have eternal life with Him.

What do we do with this passion poured out on us?  Too many times we take it for granted.  We need to have a passion for God in the same way that He had a passion for us.  When you take a look at your priorities, in turn you will see your passions.  Your top priorities, usually turn out to be your passions.

So I leave you with this thought:  Check your priorities, check your passions, check yourself.  Make sure that your passions are what you want to be passionate about, if not its in your hands to make it right.

The Tebowing of America…. or Being our own worst enemy….

Tim Tebow Praying

Lately in the new there has been a lot of talk about the actions and faith of one Tim Tebow.  (Tim Tebow criticism says a lot about us … and it’s not good – NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/Tim-Tebow-why-the-heck-do-we-hate-him-110211)  This is just one article out there and I think it sums up a lot of things.  I couple of years ago, I did not like Tim Tebow, QB of the Florida Gators.  I did have respect for Tim Tebow as a man however.  I couldn’t like him a few years ago, I am a proud Ohio State Buckeye fan, but sports aside, the faith that Tebow displayed in his college and now professional career, is amazing.  The amount of missions work that this young man has done, his charity organizations to build hospitals, etc.

We see this all the time in America, a supposedly “Christian” nation, all jokes are made about Christians.  Things get pushed back at Christians, we get mocked, we get told to stand down, we can’t use the name of Jesus in a public prayer.  In an Gallup poll from December 09 http://bit.ly/txPLIV 78% of American’s identified themselves as Christian.  So how is it that the MAJORITY loses.  If we are truely a 78% Christian country, why do so many things get pushed forward.  Are we only Christian by name?  Are we only Christian on Sunday? Are you a Christian in your work place? There seems to be such an intolerance for the majority now, and honestly I realize most of it has come from inside the 78%.

I want to be fully open with this post and say that things like this church here in Eastern Kentucky makes me sick, however this has changed Today and has been overturned.  Things like this, give us Christians a black eye and a bad name around the country and around the world.  We are our own worst enemy, when it comes to things.  Read online comments about this article, about Tebow, about any Christian topic, and there are remarks from Christians that make me cringe.  I’m not a fan of the warm fuzzy Christian – the everything will work out, I love you God loves you, you don’t have to feel guilty; however I’m not a beat them over the head with a Bible, either.  There IS a happy medium out there.  Believe me I have been around both ends of the spectrum on this, and the results that you get are Sunday only/Convenient Christians or people who can’t stand to be around Christians.

The comments that get made, are peoples opinions.  As a Christian myself, I don’t always support the delivery of others opinions.  There is something that is to be said about how you use your words.

…….So back to my original reason for this post…..

Tim Tebow – Quarterback/Christian

This man has the courage to step out in the public eye, and be seen praying and giving recognition to God.  This is something many of the supposed 78% would be scared to do.  Taking the time to say thanks to God, for what He does in your life moment by moment, to follow what Jesus told us to do by, praying without ceasing — Just take a look at 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22.

Tebow hasn’t reacted irrationally to the mockings, he just rolls with them, turning the other cheek if you will, and keeps on doing his job.  We all need to take a look at our lives, and see why we don’t have the courage to say a prayer as we walk into our office, answer that next phone call, start driving on a trip, or go out to eat.  Be thankful for all that you have.  Rejoice in the life that God has given to you.  And please please please Think before you react to things.  People know you by your actions, if they can’t see God working in you daily, what are you doing wrong?

 

What are we doing with our lives

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you do the things that you do.  Not why do I go to work, but why are actions and attitudes are they way that they are.  The past couple weeks at Church, 2 different churches for that matter, the sermons have touched on things that I felt God laying on my heard for a few weeks now.  Why do we go to Church where we do, why do we do the things that we do, why do we live the way that we live, what are we doing as Christians different from the world?

Some words have kept popping into my heard why thinking on this; complacent, convenient, habit, comfortable, satisfied, pacified, agnostic, and accustomed.  If you look at these words and feel that they are all the same, you could be right, they could be all unrelated to some as well.

I feel that in life in general we are all creatures of habit.  Even if you think that your not, we are all a little OCD.  You know if someone has adjusted your chair at the office; You know that the blue pen was on the right side of the pencil holder when you left last night and now it is in the middle; You use the same seat in the conference room every meeting, in fact 90% of you co-workers sit in the same seat.  We get to a point in our lives that we are just in a habit, we get up at the same time everyday, go through the same routine, drive to work the same way, get mad when someone has taken your normal parking spot….. Drive home the same way every day, come home and put your keys on the same hook…. You get the point and for the most part we are all genuinely happy this way.  Our days have enough variance that they stay interesting, and when you have kids, in they house you never know what to expect.  But its the stable things in life that can cause us the issues.

We get to a point where our jobs have not changed in 20 years, you are still pulling the same lever that you did when you started 20 years ago, you have not had a desire to move up.  You are satisfied with you pay and responsibility.  You become complacent, in your work, everything is mundane, it the same ol different day.  To some this is great to others it makes them go crazy.  We do things because thats all we know.  We have no desire to go that extra mile to do something on our own, to step into that unknown realm of difference.  This happens all to often in our churches and in our spiritual lives.  We do enough to get by, we go to church on Sunday, we don’t cuss around people, we are good people, thats not enough.  As the Bible clearly states, we are not saved by works alone, however faith without works is dead.  It is not enough to go to Church and say that you are a Christian, you have to live it day in and day out.

This brings me to another point, when we become complacent and pacified, our spiritual lives suffer.  When we go to church just out of habit or obligation, we can’t let so and so down if were not there, we loose sight of why the Church is there to begin with.  If the Church has just become a social gathering to see and be seen, to get a warm fuzzy and to do your spiritual duty of going to church for the week, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.  While yes Church is absolutely about community, it is about helping each other, being there for each other.  When someone in the Church needs help, your answer should not be, let me see if I can make it, it should be I’ll be right there.  The sense of community in the church has changed over the years, but in some churches you can still see the congregation come together, pray for one another, cry for one another, and just all go to the throne of God for someone else.  They put their cares and worries aside for this other person who has a need.  No matter how great or small God hears them all.  Sometimes you just don’t see prayer services in Churches anymore, that the thing I love about our Church in Ohio, this little Church has not forgotten the power of prayer.  So what if it throws off the flow of service, let God do what God needs to do.

I have said all of that to say this; If in your life, you feel satisfied make sure you are not complacent.  God wants to bless us abundantly, He wants to fill our cups till they are running over.  He wants us to ALWAYS be hungry for His will in our lives, He wants us to find community with those around us, to where we don’t just know their names and 5 things about them, but that we can look at them or get a call from them and in seconds know that something is going on, good or bad, we have that connection with them that we know they need us to praise with them or pray with them.

Sometimes you will have to do things that you don’t think you can do or want to do, but be responsive to God’s will in your life and see if you don’t become happier in all that you do.  There will be a new feeling around you and people will know that something is going on.  God has done amazing things in the past with 1 person; David, Joseph, Moses, Abraham, Paul, Jesus.  Yes these people had others with them, but it took the power of God working through the one person to bring in those others, and do change lives, nations, the world.  God can use you and the gifts that He has given to you in ways that you have never dreamed, the key is to never be satisfied, always want more from God.  Our God wants to give us everything all we have to do is ask.  We step out in faith, even if we are alone, even if we only have 1 person to back us up, we still have Him on our side.  If you look at the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14,   Jonathan was tired of hiding.  They stepped out in faith that God would talk care of them, and 2 men killed 20 men who were more well armed then they were.

Have faith in God and trust in Him.  Nothing is to much for God and He will never give us more than He knows we can handle.  Maybe now is the time you to make that new commitment to your Church, maybe it’s time to find a new way to share your faith, maybe its time to put into action that tugging that has been in your heart to do something that you have no idea what it is.  Trust God in all that you do and believe, seek His will for your next actions, and see what adventures lie ahead for you.