Recognition

Whenever you notice something positive that someone does, take the time to recognize it.

Suppose your spouse lies their phone down and engages you in a conversation that fills your soul. Be sure to specifically tell them how meaningful that was to you. If a coworker goes above and beyond the call of duty and helps you with a task, take the time to write a note telling them how much you appreciate their work. If your parent buys you a meaningful gift, offer a heartfelt thank you. When a friend adjusts their plans to be involved in your activity and makes you feel special, let them know how much that means to you.

That which gets recognized gets repeated.

Often it is easier to focus on the negative and see the glass as half empty. These people could have done more or better. Rather than noticing all the places where someone let you down, find the one place where they connected with your soul.

Reinforce joy-producing events by recognizing that they happened. This is a big step toward making them occur repeatedly.

Note to Self

I am a notetaker. 

I have lists on my computer, post-it notes on my desk, and handwritten notebooks full of ideas. 

My mind is usually so packed with information that if I do not write them down, they are quickly forgotten. This is an accurate statement about the small things I need to pick up at Walmart, and it is true of the more essential things I need to remember. Things like Biblical statements, theological thoughts, and religious concepts easily escape my mind if I do not write them down and review them regularly.

Here are the four notes that I keep with me every day.

  1. I am loved by God. 
  2. I am forgiven in Jesus.
  3. I am not alone in this world.
  4. I serve a purpose in the kingdom of God.

These things sound so simple, but whenever I forget these truths, then nothing else makes sense.

I think this is true for most people, so be sure to put them somewhere you will not forget them too.

Future Crisis

Whenever we experience a life crisis, it is usually the result of us ignoring or neglecting something in the past. 

For example, if you do not budget your money, an unexpected bill will arrive one day, and you will be unprepared. As a result, you have a financial crisis because you neglected to evaluate your cash flow somewhere in the past. 

The flip side is also true.

What can you do today that will help you to avoid a crisis in the future?

Areas to consider are your money along with your relationships, career, health, and faith. There is a long list of things to ponder about the future outcome of your actions today.

If a crisis is the result of neglect in the past, then a blessing is the result of wise choices in the past. So what can you do today or this week that will bring benefits and blessings in your future? 

Preaching To Ourselves

When you hear a great Bible lesson, take it to heart. If you are taught a new way to behave that aligns with Jesus’ teaching, be sure you do it first. Reading a great book about faith can help you learn how to grow as a Christian but practice the ideas in your life before sharing them with others.

One challenge in the life of faith is to preach to ourselves before we preach to others.

The first question is not, “Who do I know that could benefit from this?” Instead, the question is, “How should this change me?”

Before you seek an audience to listen to your sage advice, be sure it has penetrated your heart and transformed your life first.

I Thought I Was the Only One

One reason that some comedy works is that the person talking says something you have thought or done. They may tell a story about how stupid they acted in a situation while you think, “I have done that same thing.” Possibly they share an anecdote from their marriage and how their spouse behaved, and you immediately go, “I know precisely how he felt.”

There is great power in knowing you are not the only person to think or feel a certain way. It holds more than the ability to make us laugh. It also contains the power to bring us closer as people.

This is one of the great blessings of being in a Christian community. Whenever we share the stories of our struggles with faith, someone will say, “I thought I was the only one.” Giving a testimony of a time God provided when it seemed impossible will allow another person to think, “I am in the same situation, and maybe God can handle this for me.”

One of the great blessings of the Church is sharing the stories of how faith is working in our lives. This will allow people the joy found in knowing they are not alone.

Initiate

He referred to himself as “the friendship Sherpa.”

If you are unfamiliar with a Sherpa, it is the group of native people to Nepal who are most famous for helping people climb Mount Everest. They will guide, carry gear, and support climbers to the top of the mountain. Because they have lived at such high altitudes most of their lives, they are the perfect companions for the journey of a lifetime.

The man went on to say that he found the best way to have friendships was to become the person who worked to make things happen. He planned trips for a group of people to participate in adventures. He hosted people in his home for game nights, movie nights, and dinner. He took it upon himself to initiate group activities. Over time the people who were a part of those events became his closest friends.

The lesson is easy to see. If you want strong friendships in the faith, you cannot be passive. There is a responsibility to become a friendship Sherpa and not look for someone you can use as your travel agent.

Sitting at home lamenting that you are lonely is not helping. Someone has to initiate. What if that someone is you?

It Takes Time

I saw an interview with a champion barbeque maker. He was asked for the key to his delicious smoked meats. He responded simply, “Time and more time.”

If you are going to make high-quality barbeque, you cannot be in a rush. It is not something that is created in the microwave. It requires brines and rubs and waiting. Cooking the meat “slow and low” are the keys to a great taste. It takes time and more time to make it all happen.

The same principle is true for most things. Great things take time. There needs to be a plan, gathering the right ingredients, putting things together, and then allowing the process to work slowly.

This is true in most spiritual matters too. You cannot become a fully devoted follower of Jesus with one decision. It starts with a choice that leads to learning, changing, growing, failing, being forgiven, and transformation.

You may not be happy with your spiritual life right now, but keep doing the right things each day. Even a little prayer, Bible reading, Christian fellowship, and learning will keep you moving in the right direction. The goal is to live for Jesus completely, which takes time and more time.

The Work of Evil

Satan rebelled against God, but ultimately God was far more powerful. Once the Devil understood this, he started on a new mission. He wants to destroy the relationship between believers and their heavenly father.

His primary tactic is deception. He uses lies, half-truths, manipulation, and slander. He whispers in our ears, “Did God really say?” He twists the Bible to distort its meaning. He uses anything at his disposal in an attempt to separate us from God.

Today is Halloween, and people will share horror stories, watch movies about dark matters, dress up as evil characters and attempt to scare each other. However, evil is always far more subtle than that. The Devil’s work does not need to include murder or possession; he need only lie to you about God and your relationship with him.

The Devil is not trying to take your life. Instead, he is trying to destroy your relationship with God. The good news is that God is not moving. Nothing can separate us from his love. The only variable is you.

Be sure you are not listening to the wrong voice. That is the only real thing for a believer to fear.

How You Say It

It is as important as what you say.

Your words, inflection, demeanor, and volume communicate something about which you speak.

When you talk about Jesus, are you boring, dry, and uninteresting?

Are you angry, frustrated, and mean when you talk to a family member about your faith?

Do your words about being a believer come with energy and enthusiasm?

Are you happy when you talk about being a Christian and part of a Church?

Your mood will carry a message, no matter what words you use. So make sure the emotions fit the topic when you are talking about Jesus.

Poser

I overheard one young person saying to another, “He acts like he likes it, but he is such a poser.”

I openly admit that I am not cool or up-to-date on teenage slang, but I thought I knew what he meant. A quick google check confirmed my definition was correct. A poser is a person who pretends to be something they are not, usually to deceive or impress others.

Everywhere you look, there are posers. People are pretending to be smart, trendy, and cool. People act like they have it all together, their family is perfect, and their marriage is flawless.

There are even people who pretend to be spiritual. They stop by Church occasionally, say a few religious words and throw out God’s name in casual conversation. Some will even post a verse in their home or online without ever knowing the context in which it was written. Others will buy a cross necklace they wear for everyone to see. The list of ways we can fake being a follower of Jesus is too numerous to count.   

Being a genuine believer is a challenging endeavor. Don’t be fooled by a few words and fancy trinkets. Faith is seen in our attitudes and actions. If Jesus isn’t transforming your life, you are a poser.