Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chapter 5: Having The Right Attitude

       "You better check yourself before you wreck yourself", is a saying that was popular in the late 90's early 2000's. Now if you are old enough to know this saying you know that it was normally brought up when someone might be acting, saying, or doing something that might end bad for them. I heard that saying so much that I got sick of it, but for this subject I think it fits perfectly. Having the right attitude is something that is very important in the church and not talked about enough. The attitude of anyone can be one of the biggest thing that can make God look bad.
       We have all met someone who's attitude just turns us off. That person may be smart but no matter what they say you tune them out. They may have great answers for life but because of their attitude you just do not want to listen to them. We as the body of Christ must never be one of those people. We have the very answer to life, Christ Jesus, but if we have the wrong attitude people will not even care to hear us. I have heard it said, "people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care". We must never think because we have this answer we can have bad attitudes toward anyone.
       Our attitude is something that can hold us back from many things that God has for us and it also can put people at arms length of us when we try to share the Gospel. Like I said in the last chapter, everything is a choice for us to make and one of the biggest choices is our attitude. I truly believe that a bad attitude can lead us into sin. So what kind of attitude should we have as followers of Christ then? Well I am glad you asked. Let us look at this from two sides. First the bad attitude and second the good attitude. I think it is good to look at both so we can know what having the right attitude looks like.

       Everyone can recognize a bad attitude when they see it. A bad attitude is as obvious to everyone as a open head wound on someone. So what does the Bible say about having a bad attitude? In Philippians 2:14 it says, "Do everything without complaining and arguing." WOW! That is a big deal. Even though that is really plain I want to break it down a bit. So the word everything in Greek is pas which means exactly what is said EVERYTHING. The word complaining is goggysmos in Greek which simply means: a secret debate or a secret displeasure not openly avowed. Finally the word arguing in Greek is dialogismos which means: the thinking of a man, deliberating with himself or a thought, inward reasoning. Basically a bad attitude is when we do things with a secret displeasure or when we have inward reasoning with why we dislike doing what ever it is we are doing. With that test I would be willing to say that all of us have had a really bad attitude with doing the will of God at some time or another. I do know that God at times asks us to do things we may not like or agree with but when we submit to His will we must not carry our attitude along with it, we need to also submit our attitude along with our actions. I want to finish the bad attitude part up with the thoughts from an earlier chapter by saying that we can not always have the right attitude by ourselves we must put our lives in the hands of God. He is the only way to overcome all of our short comings.
       Well now that we know what the bad attitude is, what does having a good attitude look like? Again let us look into the Bible for this answer. Colossians 3:15 says, "And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful." Then in Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father." What does all of that have to do with a good attitude? Everything! We know from an earlier chapter that we are meant to carry the name peace along with us but how can we without a good attitude. See, Paul tells us not only to let peace be in us but also ALWAYS be thankful. Paul then goes on and says that no matter what you say or do you represent Jesus so do it with a good attitude. These words from Paul are really strong because they come from a man who when scourged left praising God, so he must know what it means to always be thankful.
       Now that we have these definitions of good and bad how do we line our life up to the word? Step one: stop taking stuff so personal! Look, bad things happen to everyone but if we look at bad things happening through the lens of Romans 5 we see that those bad things can make us better if we allow them to. Step two: stop being the victim. Look, not everything that happened to you was done on purpose and even if it was, overcome it. If anyone, other than Jesus, had a right to play the sad victim card it was Paul but I have seen nowhere that he did. Paul, instead, took everything and allowed it to bring him closer to God. Finally step three: realize that God is still in control. This one is easier said than done, I know, but nothing happens that catches God off guard. If something happened in your life it did not catch God by surprise so he must know that you can get through it.
       God gave me an analogy one time for this exact idea. If someone where to pour water on you what would happen? Well, we all know it would roll off but what if someone poured acid on you? Well it would eat right through you. With that, everything that happens in your life is either water or acid. We can either let it roll off our back or eat right through us. We must realize that everything is water until we allow it to become acid.
       Now, there is something that is worse than having a bad attitude and that is apathy. In the next chapter one of my brothers in Christ will be talking about how having no attitude at all is destroying the body of Christ today. Simply put, I would rather deal with someone who has a bad attitude than someone who is apathetic. Why you may ask? Well, because someone with a bad attitude shows me the potential of passion but someone with apathy shows me, well, apathy. I will leave the rest of that idea to my brother Dwayne Dunning.
       I want to finish this out with saying that we must not allow our attitude to destroy the ability to minister to the world. When we have a bad attitude we can become useless to God in many ways. We need to always check inside ourselves if we are doing anything that we are asked to do by God with displeasure in our hearts. We must always have the right attitude when doing the work of our Father. Like always let me ask you some questions. Do you let your attitude come in the way of sharing the Gospel? In what way has your attitude pushed people away from God? Can you trust God enough to always be thankful no matter what is going on? 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Chapter 4.5 Don't Blame God! . . . Or The Devil Either

       Well, I recently made a really bad mistake in life that will take along time to fix. I will not go into detail but I will tell you that it was all my fault and I have no one to blame but myself. If you are wondering why I am talking about this it is because in the first part of this chapter, which again I encourage you to read first, I talked about being in the hands of God and what that looks like. Now I stated that we make God look bad when we try to take this life into our own hands and take it out of God's hands. I myself am going through something of that nature now, see we all have done things we are not proud of so who can we blame it on? God, the devil, or ourselves? In this chapter we will talk about freewill and what it looks like when we try to take our lives and live them without being in the Hands of God.
       This chapter will be a little more personal because I intend to share some of the things I have done in life that made God look bad. I also plan to show some people in the Bible who forgot to be led by God and how it turned out bad. Earlier in this chapter I covered what it looked like to be led by spirit but when we fail we can not blame God; for this it is by our own doing. I also wanted to say how much it angers me whenever I hear, "the devil made me do it", NO he didn't! You did whatever it is that you are giving him credit for. Basically everything comes down to a choice and no one made that choice for you but you so stop blaming it on anything else.
       Throughout my life I have made some real bad decisions and I have had to pay the price for all these things. Now I could blame other people for what had happened but in the end I did what ever it was by my own choice. I have been a lot of things in my life. I have been a pot head, an alcoholic, a liar, a cheater, a thief, and even a person who has been angry at God, but why? Was it God's fault for calling me somewhere and me not being able to handle the stresses of life? Was it the devils fault for putting all kinds of sin in my way? Or was it my fault for being to blind and stupid to realize when I was moving outside of the will of God? Well to me the answer is obvious, ME, but to many people instead of taking blame for what they have done they choose to point the finger at anything other than themselves. Oh, the blame game it goes deeper than just saying that it is someone else's fault we go as far to blame our past, the devil, and at the worst case we blame God.
       So let us start with blaming God. Now understand that I think blaming God for any kind of evil is completely unbiblical! If anyone ends up in a place that God has called them then the choices made after arriving are theirs and not because they were called there. I want to look at some people in the Bible that came to a place by the will of God and what happened on their journey. Lets start with a story that is well known, the Israelites leaving Egypt to the promise land (Exodus 12). Now we know that the reason they were leaving was to go to the promise land but something happened. Most people know that on their way that they are given the ten commandments and many other rules to live by. So what went wrong? Well, like most people they got upset with their current situation and instead of looking toward what God had promised them and they rebelled. Some say that in this they moved from God's perfect will into His passive will in the wilderness. Although I agree to this point to a extent I see it more like this: God is not a liar so even though the people did pretty much what God told them not to do He had to follow through with His promise. See, the people could blame God for all of their mistakes but even in their sin God still took care of them with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. Ultimately no one can blame God for what had happened it was the choice of the people to fall away and miss out on the promise.

       Well, then the devil made me do it! WRONG! There are two stories in the Bible that I can think of where people could try and blame the devil. Lets start with an easy one the garden of Eden. Yes, the devil deceived Eve who turned around and convinced Adam to fall too but is it the devil's fault? Of course not. Blaming the devil for this would be like trying to tell a cop that your friend told you that you could speed so he is the one that deserves a ticket instead. Adam and Eve had free will and they could have said no. How about Job? If you have read Job you know that the devil was allowed to do anything to Job just not to kill him. Throughout the story Job is told that it is his fault for his situation and to curse God and die. He refuses to do so until closer to the end and that is when God shows up to set him straight. Even with all of that I have seen nowhere that Job blames the devil but I could be wrong, it has been a while since I have read Job. Again with Job he had all right to blame the devil for his situation but not for his reaction to what was going on.
       So who is to blame for how we act? Well the answer is simple, WE ARE. I am well aware that we all have a sin nature inside of us but it is up to us to follow that or die to it. (Rom 7:21 and Rom 8:5-13) We are the ones that must take blame for our own sins and repent for them. We can no longer try to point the finger to an outward source and say that something made us do this or that. We must realize that we are all sinners and need a savior.(John 15:22 and 1 Tim 1:15) We make God look bad when we try to either justify or blame our sin on something other than ourselves. As His people we must be led by the spirit, as I said in the first part, and when we fail just admit it. When we do this we come back to a realization that we are all sinners always needing help with our lives and a savior who can help us.
       As I said at the beginning I am dealing with something that I have messed up with, what I did is not important, and it made me realize how frail I am. At times we get too comfortable with life and forget that EVERY day we need God to guide us. When we do mess up we must not try to run and hide, like Adam and Eve, but instead face it. We must not blame anyone or anything but instead repent. We are at our best when we call to our Father for help and at our worst when we think that we have everything under control. We must never act as if God can "sit this one out" in our lives. He is our way, our truth, and our LIFE.
       To sum up this whole thing, we need to put our lives back in the hands of God and when we mess up face it. God hates when we sin but delights when we truly repent and call on Him for help. It is not God's fault or the devil's fault, it is our fault. We give the devil too much credit and God too little. Let me end like I always do by asking some questions. What are you trying to hide and not repent from? Do you blame God, the devil, or realize it is your fault? How would your life be different if you stop blaming others and started owning up to your own problems?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chapter 4: In The Hands Of God

       Being in the hands of God is a subject that is going to be a little different than the others that I have talked on so far. There are two reasons that this subject is difficult for me to really talk about: 1) this subject has many different connotations when it comes to theology and 2) I have to be careful what I am going to say so I do not become a heretic. I want to say that I will not push any one theology in this blog, that is something that I think is better left for personal discussion, and I will not attack any one theology either. I do have personal thoughts on free will and predestination, that I can back up biblically, but I will do my best to leave those aside and talk about more practical things in the idea of being in the hands of God.
       So what does it mean to be in the hands of God? Well, the best way to find out is to look in the Bible. There are many verses that may come to mind when it comes to being in the hands of God but remember we are talking about how we make God look bad so I am going to just talk about the ones that pertain to living a daily life right for God. I will always affirm that we are taken care of by God (Matt 6:25-32 and Matt 10:29-31) and that if we place our life in His hands he has a planned provision for our lives but that is not what I want to go into. 
       I want to talk about how the Bible tells us that if we are living for God that it is not really us who are living this life; it is through Jesus that we live (Gal 2:20). We are fallen people and we fail on all regards to live right (Rom 3:23) but through the power of the Holy Spirit we have the power to over come all of these things. Being lead by the spirit is something constantly on the pin tips of the writers of New Testament so it must be important. The bottom line is that we can not live a life that makes God look good without putting our life in the hands of God.
       Putting your life in the hands of God must start somewhere so the first thing is to put God first. God himself makes it very clear that this is a must do (Exd 20:3 and Luke10:27) and if we forget to do this it is beyond impossible to put our life in the hands of God. The next step is realizing that if we want to live for Him we must lay our life down for Him (Matt 16:24-25). The main way we make God look bad is failing to put Him first in everything and putting ourselves aside for His glory. Putting your life in the hands of God or being lead by the spirit, as some may say it, helps us come in line with the way our lives are meant to be. We are told that we can not overcome sin without His spirit (Rom 8:12-16).
       Too many times we make this life man centered and too few times we make it God centered. We fail to realize that if we try to make things right we will always fail it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ that we can live an upright life. I have heard, I myself at one time have taught, that if you just do not think about doing a specific sin you can overcome it and with that teaching the scripture 2 Cor 10:5b "take every thought captive and make obedient to Christ". Is that what is really taught there? NO. If you read it in context or just the whole thing it is not a man centered power that overcomes it says in the verse before that, "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world", so how do we even try with our strength to take anything captive? It is only by the Holy Spirit, the weapon that is not of this world, that we overcome anything. 
       The way to be in the hands of God is to do what Paul says in Rom 12, "... But let GOD transform you into a new creation by changing the way you think". We can not change without the power of the Holy Spirit! We must stop making this life transforming thing a man centered power and put it back in the hands of God. If we know that it is only through faith that saves us we must also realize that it is only by the spirit that sustains and changes us. A man powered change is something that has always failed us and is one of the many ways we make God look bad. We try to change, without the power or guiding of the Holy spirit, and when we fail to the world around us it makes God look powerless to change anyone. The kingdom of God is of power (1 Cor 4:20) and what is that power? It is the Holy Spirit and if we want to live in that power we must stop striving and put our lives back in the hands of God.
       The easiest way I like to put this is: to many times we try to fix things by looking at the shadows/sin in our lives and say, "I will not do those things", but instead of looking at those shadows/sin we should look at the light/God. When we take our focus off of the things around us that may cause us to fall and put it on the One that has saves us the shadows/sin becomes nothing. We can not change without the power of God and laying our life in His hands. 
       I know that some people may think, "well we have freewill and I am putting everything on God", but our freewill will come in to play in the next chapter: Don't blame God... or the devil either. As always I leave you with some challenges. What things are YOU trying to get right and not trusting in God? What would your life look like if you put your whole life in the hands of God? In what ways have you made God look bad by not putting your life in the hands of God and how can you change that?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Chapter 3.5 Speak Up By: Keith Rowell

       So last week we looked at the work we have done but just doing good works is not enough. To talk to us about that is one of my good friends Keith. Here is what Keith had to say about this subject:

       I love the show “Undercover Boss.” The idea that the CEO of a large company would disguise themselves as an employee to better assess the health of their company is great. Throughout the show the CEO works with random employees of different locations to see the variety of jobs their company takes to run. My favorite part is the end, they gather those employees and they come face to face with the CEO, who they thought was just another co-worker. SURPRISE! It’s your boss! And they are baffled that the person they trained is the one who pays their salaries.

       At times Christians live like this. We go around like a boss on “Undercover Boss,” living life and fitting in. We are following Christ but we are not open and obvious about it. Some to the extent that our friends, co-workers, or even family have no idea; they think we are just good, moral people. They have no clue we are following Jesus and have access to the Hope of the World. We live life appearing as one thing, but secretly we are following Christ. 

Then….one day…...they find you out……

       Maybe they catch you praying over a meal or they see a tweet you shared from your YouVersion Bible App. The gig is up. Then you get the opportunity to talk to them about Christ….and to explain why you didn't say anything sooner...

       A big slogan for Christians is, “Preach the Gospel, use words when necessary.” This is great for encouraging those who follow Christ to make sure their actions in public and private are biblical. However, it sets a trap to almost be like “undercover” Christians. Throughout Scripture you have followers of Christ going out and boldly proclaiming the Gospel. Today, you will have the chance to proclaim the Hope we have in Christ. Actions are not enough. Open your mouth and share His love, His grace, and His acceptance. Let others know that you are not a good person, but one that is forgiven. 

Be bold.

Speak loud. Prove your actions with your words.

       Thank you Keith. Let me end with a challenge: Do not just do good works, which is great, but make sure you actually preach the Gospel too. Our works show cause people give glory to God but if we fail to let people know of our God than how can they give him glory?