Daily Life

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I would like the reader to watch this 6-minute video before going any further with this entry:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_M33GcJAmU

 The video speaks for itself.  I would like to thank a friend for bringing this video to my attention, and more importantly, I would like to thank God for giving me the inspiration to write a commentary on the video.

    As children, we rely on our parents/guardians for everything; therefore, it only makes sense that we have a well-built trust towards our parents/guardians.  As we get older, we start to venture out into the world and adapt to the current culture.  We start searching for and putting most or even all of our dependence on worldly things such as romance, money, alcohol, drugs, and beauty.  Patrick Morley has noted, “When we don’t need to depend on Christ, we will not…Our natural tendency is to depend on self, not Christ.  Depending on Christ is an act of the will by faith, not the natural disposition of our heart.  I have prayed that God will always keep some major unmet need in my life so that I will always depend upon Him.  To be really in need creates dependency.  To have so much, creates self-sufficiency.  When our lives prosper, the natural tendency is to lose our grip.”
   
   
In romance, we look for others to love and to be loved with.  We continually find the need to improve our physical appearances to get the attention of others.  In order to obtain money, we must work, and the more we work, the more money we get, unfortunately, the more we work, the more we miss out on living true life with friends and family.  The more time we spend alone, the higher the risk we get of starting to get a dependence on drugs and alcohol.  Once an addiction is formed with drugs and/or alcohol, then we get fired from the job we were working so hard at.  At the end, we find ourselves down to nothing, no friends, no job, no money, no alcohol, no drugs, and no romance. 
       
    We think that it is impossible to return to the life we had, the life of childlike trust and dependence.  In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says:  “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Accept my teaching and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives.  The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.” (Lucado 2003)  God has given us free will; He watches every choice we make.  Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ came, lived a life worth emulating, then died on the cross for us, wiping away every sin and cleaning the slate of every bad choice we made.  Through Christ, God is waiting for us to come to Him and be embraced with His love.  Remember, our God is a God of great mercy and grace, a God of third and fourth and fifth chances.  Don’t let your sins or your past keep you from enjoying a strong relationship with Him.  Look to God to forgive you, to strengthen you, and to give you another chance.  Romans 8:35-39 says “Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us?  Can troubles or problems or sufferings or hunger or nakedness or danger or violent death?  As it is written in the Scriptures: ‘For you we are in danger of death all the time.  People think we are worth no more than sheep to be killed.’- (Psalm 44:22) But in all these things we have full victory through God who showed his love for us.  Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Lucado 2003) 

    At my home church, they have been doing a series called “Finding Life’s Rhythm” (Trinity 2009).  The series talks about the fact that there is a rhythm of work and rest that is built into our lives.  The rhythm is called the Sabbath.  In order to understand the Sabbath, we need to understand that God is ultimately responsible for our lives.  In order to experience the Sabbath, we need to unplug from the culture around us on a regular basis and spend time alone with God.  An excellent way to start spending time with God is to read and meditate on the Bible and pray.  I encourage everyone to read and reflect on Psalms 37 and 131 for starters.  The Bible can be read for free online at:  http://net.bible.org/bible.php

 

References:

Patrick Morley Walking with Christ in the Details of Life

Lucado, Max (General Editor) The Devotional Bible New Century Version (2003)

Trinity Lutheran Church sermons can be found at: http://markschulz.libsyn.com/index.php?post_category=podcasts

Life Storms

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One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is the story of Jesus calming a storm.  The disciples are in a boat with Jesus crossing a lake.  Out of nowhere, a storm develops, the disciples are terrified, and Jesus is peacefully resting.  The disciples then wake Jesus up, thinking that they are going to die, then Jesus got up and commanded the wind and waves to stop and be calm.  He then looked at His followers and asked “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:22-25).  In John 16:33, Jesus says “I told you these things so that you can have peace in me.  In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.”  When storms come into our lives we immediately expect God to calm the storm before we spend one minute in it.  God wants us to take courage and trust in Him.  Read the Bible until defeat turns to devotion.  Don’t look at the flames, Look at God who controls the flames.  In Proverbs 27:17, we read, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  When a person accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, then it is an honored privilege to be called a friend of God.  It is my prayer that God sharpens us daily so that we may have a stronger relationship with Him.  In Joshua 7:13, we read, “The Lord, the God of Israel, says some of you are keeping things he commanded you to destroy.  You will never defeat your enemies until you throw away those things.”  Today, our enemies consist of everything of worldly pleasure and possession and are keeping us back from living life to the fullest.  As Christians, we need to continually ask God to search our hearts and bring out anything that is keeping us down and holding us back from experiencing the true Joy that only He provides.   I would like to close this journal entry with a prayer from Peter Marshall:

Forgive us, Lord, for the things we have done that make us feel uncomfortable in Thy presence.  All the front that we polish so carefully for men to see does not deceive Thee.  For Thou knowest every thought that has left its shadow on our memory.  Thou hast marked every motive that curdled something sweet within us. We acknowledge with bitterness and true repentance that cross and selfish thoughts have entered our minds; we acknowledge that we have permitted our minds to wander through unclean and forbidden ways; we have toyed with that which we knew was not for us; we have desired that which we should not have.  We acknowledge that often we have deceived ourselves where our plain duty lay.  We confess before Thee that our ears are often deaf to the whisper of Thy call, our eyes often blind to the signs of Thy guidance.  Make us willing to be changed, even though it requires surgery of the soul and the therapy of discipline.  Make our hearts warm and soft, that we may receive now the blessing of Thy forgiveness, the benediction of Thy “Depart in peace…and sin no more.”  Amen. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHdcyue0bSw

Materialism

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The price we pay for a bigger home, nicer automobiles, or vacation is often a more demanding work life.  Some people choose to work harder in order to acquire more “things.”  Working more hours and working harder during those hours can result in greater stress, breakdown in family life, and a decrease in leisure time.  We have seen a decline of character that can be traced to conditions that have grown out of our fast-paced, high-stress, information-driven economy.  Many people are no longer connected to their past, to their neighbors, and to themselves.

Sometimes we struggle to achieve a certain economic goal only to discover that once we got what we wanted it didn’t fulfill us in the way we had hoped.  We are a nation of hyper consumers, “living way beyond our means and seemingly helpless to save ourselves,” according to Geoffrey Covin, money does not create or sustain happiness.  Happiness comes from social relationships, enjoyable work, fulfillment, a sense that life has meaning, and most importantly the Joy we have in having a Father in heaven who loves us beyond measure.

The way we choose to earn, save, and spend our money determines, in large measure, the quality of our lives.  For example, if you think that having more money is going to produce happiness or peace of mind, will you ever earn enough?

Jacob Needleman, author of Time and the Soul, has stated:  “Culturally and individually, somewhere in our history, we chose to make material possessions important, not realizing that we would pay for all these things—consumer goods, improvements, technology—at the cost of our time.”

Survey after survey has shown that unhappy people tend to be self-focused, socially withdrawn, and even aggressive.  Happy people, in contrast, are generally found to be more sociable, flexible, and creative and are able to tolerate life’s daily frustrations more easily than unhappy people.  Michael Crom views enthusiasm as an energy builder and as the key to overcoming adversity and achieving goals.  Most psychologists, in general, agree that happiness or unhappiness at any given moment has very little to do with the conditions around us, but rather with how we perceive our situation, how satisfied we are with what we have.  You can achieve a higher level of happiness by reflecting on the good things you have received in life.  Optimists are more likely to view problems as merely temporary setbacks on their road to achieving their goals.  They focus on their potential success rather than on their failures.

Soon after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, many people began to reexamine their values.  Some decided to spend more time with family and friends, thinking that although overtime might be an opportunity to make more income, it was also an obstacle to maintaining a commitment to their family.  Some workers also decided that their work and spend lifestyle no longer made any sense.  Instead of being very driven and motivated to acquire things, people said, “Maybe I don’t need all this stuff.”