Tag Archives: Decisions

I Can’t Juggle

juggler 4I Can’t Juggle

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.  Proverbs 16:2-3

Years ago, I learned the “art” of juggling…. Well a little.  I was never that good at it. I could juggle 3 hackee sack balls ok – in the right conditions.  I had to stand still, look up, and watch out for throwing the ball in the direction of other people! Needless to say, I can’t juggle.  The same can be said when we try to live life without the Lord.  There are so many “balancing” issues we face and without he priorities of the Lord – we will “Drop the ball.”

Life can be a “juggling act!”   There is so much to do, and seemingly so little time to do it in.  Many people are so consumed with things, stuff, and opportunities of life that life itself gets out of balance and they begin to “drop the ball.”  This post is for you.  Be challenged and encouraged to streamline the juggling motions of life.

Like Proverbs 16:2-3 says, “The ways of a man are clean in his own eyes.”  Our choices, decisions, and priorities can all be justified – humanly speaking.  You can give a “good reason” for why you do what you do or don’t do what you don’t do.  Self-justification is a terribly effective habit of the natural man.

At the same time, verse 3 tells us that when we commit our works to God, our thoughts will be established.  That is, when we are making decisions based on a “God Priority”, then our decisions will be blessed.  When God blesses our decisions, life is less complicated, choices are easier to make, and perspective of what is truly important comes into a clearer view.

How can I start to “juggle” life in proper balance?  Here are some Scripturally simplified ideas:

  1. Be still, and know that I am God: Psalm 46:10a
    1. Stop everything at specific moments of each day and each week.
    2. Daily Bible reading and prayer, should be consistent in life.
    3. Church attendance should be a regular part of your week. Plan around church, don’t plan church around the other stuff.
    4. Life becomes too hectic when we do not take time to be still and know that God is God.
  2. He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. Proverbs11:28
    1. Seeking what is right is better than seeking more money. We do not work to get money anyway – we work to glorify the Lord and to gain the ability to “give to him that needed.”  Ephesians 5:28
    2. When we are working for money we look sight of the greater picture that everything we do should be under the auspices of “the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31
    3. Ask the Lord to help you control your work schedule instead of allowing your work schedule to control you. This is something I learned from my parents as a teenager when they had me mowing lawns or clearing snow, remodeling buildings, instead of flipping burgers or checking people out at a checkout line.
    4. The riches will not last – but right choices last a lifetime and for all eternity!
  3. The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. Proverbs 10:8
    1. “Know it all’s” talk a lot and do not listen well for how to improve their life. They drop the ball because they are attempting things they want to do, or think they can do, but have not consulted the Lord or learned people.
    2. Have you noticed those struggling the most in the “juggling act of life” are generally the ones who are trying to live life on their own. God is not a priority, His input is not welcome.  Other people’s encouragement and admonition is rejected.  Some people drop the ball and do not even notice!
    3. The wise in heart receives the Bible to make balanced changes in his life.
  4. The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. Proverbs 11:5
    1. Making right choices can become a lifestyle pattern.
    2. Notice how the mature Christian will allow what is right to direct his way. When he makes a right choice now – it makes it easier for him to make a right choice tomorrow.  Before long a singular good choice will become a whole string of good choices that then becomes a pattern for living.
    3. The more consistent a person is with right choices, the better he will be at juggling life!

Be encouraged to trust your path to the Lord.  Avoid juggling life on your own apart from the Lord.  Don’t drop the ball!  Incorporate Godly reasoning in every decision you make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Direction of the Mind

The Direction of the Mind

Remember the old cartoons on Saturday mornings and some character saying “Which way did he go? Which way did he go?”  Was that Bugs Bunny?  You may remember.

“Which way will you go?” is the question for today.  There are definite paths our minds can go.  The direction your mind is leading you is of incredible importance.

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?   25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:23-25

There are two paths at the intersection of life that each person faces every day.  One path is going the direction God maps out in the Bible.  The other path is heading in the direction the world/flesh draws up – away from the direction of God.

The Apostle Paul was not exempt from this decision making battle between his natural man (The Flesh) and the Spiritual Mind that was given him when he became a Christian and received the new nature (Spiritual Mind) from the Lord.  The spiritual side of Paul was constantly in a war with the carnal or fleshly side of Paul.  We have the same sin nature and the same spiritual nature he had.

Lewis Sperry Chafer was clearly right when he stated, “Nothing could be more misdirected than a self-directed life.”

There are two possible responses when confronted with the choice of “Which way to go?”  There is no middle ground in between these two paths.  Some believe they can strike out on their own and make their own path back to the Lord, but the terrain is tough and not navigable. It is better to get on God’s path, or when prompted by the Lord, jump back on his path.

Path One:  A Reacting Mind.  This “Reacting Mind” reacts to the desires of the flesh.  Its primary power comes from the engine of lust.  The body can lust for good things such as air, food, water, and even sex.  When moderation or the boundaries are broken for these blessings, it becomes sin.  For example, sex within the boundary of marriage is wholesome, fulfilling, and terrific!  Sex outside of the protection marriage becomes enslaving, and may even cause feelings of guilt and depression.

The Reacting Mind does what it feels like it wants to do.  It is captive to the flesh of the person and to the influences of the world around him.  Have you even been in a car when the driver “jerks the wheel” in attempt to not miss an off ramp off the highway?  That fast reaction is caused by not anticipating, or looking far enough ahead.  The reacting mind is many times impulsive too.

Path Two: The Ruled Mind.  The Ruled Mind responds to the leading of the Spirit of God.  It is not controlled by lust, but by love.  This mind is submissive to the Word of God.  While the Ruled Mind knows it is in a fast paced battle, it is active and fore-thinking to avoid sin, watch out for an arrogant spirit, and to steer clear of pride each day.

The Ruled Mind is determined to live out the Word of God each day in all its decisions and determinations.  This mind is thinking of “how to please Jesus” instead of “how to please self.”  Instead of reacting in tough situations, it is ruled by the patient Spirit of God and calmly makes the right decision.

Ask the Lord to help you have a mind ruled by the Spirit of God and the Word of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Letting” of the Mind

The “Letting” Mind

“When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”” (Ministry127)

Why would a man say that when facing a potential life and death situation?  He was thinking like Jesus.  He had the “mind of God.”

The word “let” is a verb defined as “not prevent or forbid; allow.”  The Scripture tells us to “let” the mind of Christ – Jesus Himself be in us.  What we think, how we think, and why we think is to be placed under the influence and direction of Jesus.  If we are not careful, we let a lot of worldly or wrong thinking impact our mind.  We must allow the mind of Christ to help us navigate life and not allow the world to do our thinking for us.

Have you “let” the mind of God to control your thoughts?  Will you let the mind of Jesus control your thinking today?

Our word “let” is found in Philippians 2:5-8 which teaches, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The mind of Jesus will lead us to four ways of thinking:

  1. A real humility about self.
  2. A sincere priority of pleasing our God.
  3. A vibrant call to serve others.
  4. A willingness to give your life to the Lord.

Do any of these thinking perspectives ring true in your life?  Consider the “what, how, and why” that your mind is thinking.  Ask the Lord to help you think like Jesus.  From the moment you “let” all your decisions and thought processes will filter through the Word of God and the Will of God.  Like missionary Calvert, your mind can think like Jesus – all to the glory of God.

 

 

 

 

 

Emergencies and Tragedies

Emergencies and Tragedies

One story I have read and enjoy very much is a story is “told of a zoo that was noted for their great collection of different animals. One day the gorilla died, and to keep up the appearance of a full range of animals, the zookeeper hired a man to wear a gorilla suit and fill in for the dead animal. It was his first day on the job, and the man didn’t know how to act like a gorilla very well. As he tried to move convincingly, he got too close to the wall of the enclosure and tripped and fell into the lion exhibit. He began to scream, convinced his life was over…until the lion spoke to him: “Be quiet, or you’re going to get us both fired!”

There are many emergency situations that may arise in life.  Storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding will take their toll.  Earthquakes, forest fires, and even volcanoes create much distress, problems, and each are potential life and death scenarios.

Depending on where you live a “natural disaster” may be more likely to unfold.  Having safety plans and survival plans is advised.  Today we also have the added possibility of a deranged, depressed, or demon filled attacker.  Violent attacks ranging from guns and knives to cars and even blunt objects are all possible.

Those are real emergencies. Most of us will experience relatively few true “emergencies” in life.  A majority of the time, what we are more likely to encounter are “tragedies.”  We see this especially in the areas of relationships, priorities in life, and spiritual formation.

Unlike emergencies, that can unfold rapidly, tragedies are events that are slowly unfolding in life.  For example:  a teenager who leaves home saying he “hates God, the Bible, and church” is not an emergency – he is a tragedy.  He did not wake up one day with the impression that he was against everything his parents stood for.  It took time.  An evil attitude was nurtured over time.  Sinful thinking and warped thinking was not only tolerated, but allowed to grow over time.

Emergencies need a quick response, while tragedies (while still urgent) will take some time to unravel and correct.  Please note that repentance and turning a life around all starts with one good decision, but it takes time to adjust a lifetime of sinful choices or bad habits.

Proverbs 3 teaches about wisdom.  Wisdom is personified in this passage.  Each person must decide to keep his or her eyes on wisdom.  She will help you to not stumble, fall, or be in a place where great trouble will capture you.

Proverbs 3:21-26 instructs, “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: 22 So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. 23 Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. 24 When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.  25 Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. 26 For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.”

If we keep our eyes on wisdom, it makes it harder for us to “fall off a cliff.”  Why?  Because wisdom will not let you get near the cliff to begin with.

Falling off a cliff would be an emergency.  Plunging down 65 feet off a rock face would be disastrous – but it is an emergency that is predicated by a tragedy.  The tragedy in this case is a life of wrong thinking, unwise decisions, and a heart that is slowly walking away from wisdom and away from the Lord.

There are many tragedies unfolding in the lives of people all around us.  Seemingly “insignificant” choices that are rooted in selfishness more than the Spirit of God, may seem innocent, but they do bring a person closer to the cliff.

  • A child may think “It is just a drink or a smoke” but that brings them closer to an emergency of an overdose on some other drug.
  • A man may think “it is just one magazine or website” but it is a slow path to addiction in his mind and isolation in relationships.
  • A woman may think “it is just a few dollars more” for coffee, tea, or some other fancy and expensive pleasure, but it could lead to mismanagement of finances leaving a person’s savings account bankrupt.

By The Way:  Poor choices are not just about plain sin.  Sometimes the innocent pleasures that are prioritized above Bible principles can become sin to us. Wisdom assesses each scenario and helps you to avoid tripping and falling.  The Apostle Paul suggested this in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”  Just “Because I can” does not make it a good choice.

Please avoid making every decision based on emotion, drama, or selfishness.  Be aware that the mundane, daily choices are the most significant of choices for direction (towards wisdom or away from wisdom) that will determine if you have an emergency or not.

No one intends to create personal emergencies in life.  They develop as “tragedies” over the course of time.  Tragedies are happening all around us.  Be sure your life is not a tragedy.  Remember Shakespeare?  He wrote what literary students call “Tragedies.”  Those writings include: “Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet.  Many people have been entertained by these “Tragedies” over the years.  Purpose to not let your life be mere entertainment for Satan or the world.  Your life should not be a “play thing” or amusement for evil people. Make the daily decision to apply God’s wisdom to your life today.  Keep your eyes on God’s wisdom.

 

 

 

 

Good Intentions Are Not That Good

Good Intentions Are Not That Good

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.  Jeremiah 17:10

“In one Peanuts comic strip Sally was struggling with her memory verse for Sunday. She was absorbed in her thoughts trying to figure it out when she remembered, “Maybe it was something from the book of Reevaluation.””   (min127).

We must allow the Bible to impact our hearts and lives. Each time you read the Word or hear a Bible message, do a reevaluation of your heart and mind. Let the Bible cut right to the matters of the heart and decide to not merely have good intentions in the Christian life, but to actually takes steps and strides with Jesus.

Some people say: “God knows my heart” in an effort to justify or rationalize a lack of faithfulness or to explain a decision that they have made. God knows your heart, but that is not an “Excuse” for what you DO or Do Not DO.  He does not just examine intentions but actions.  The Lord “gives” according to our “ways” and doings.”

Good intentions are not the same thing as good actions. Good intentions left by themselves are not that good. They need to be accompanied by good actions.   Because God knows your heart, He knows what motivates you and what discourages you.  He knows why you do what you do and “what makes you tick.”

Like Jeremiah 17:9 says – the heart… is “desperately wicked: who can know it.”  Don’t just follow your heart – follow the heart of God.  Do not merely obey your will, but obey the will of God the Father.

Go beyond having “good intentions…”

 

 

 

Following Jesus in A New Year

Following Jesus in A New Year

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

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Peter has just declared that Jesus was “The Christ of God.”  Jesus tells them to “tell no man” and that He would suffer many things.  Peter and the other disciples did not really understand the suffering of Christ until after His death and resurrection.  The next part of this narrative directs us to this verse: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Self denial is one of the most difficult things to do as human beings.  Recently, our family was treated to a terrific Chinese Buffet.  Walk into a Chinese buffet or similar “all you can eat” restaurant and you will see that many Americans struggle with denying self.  Denial issues could relate to eating, exercise, music, the friends we have, time in front of a screen, and nearly every area of life.  Even things that are not necessarily a sin of themselves can become sin to us when we do not practice moderation and the discipline of self denial.

Taking up the cross includes suffering for Jesus.  Some people at work or at school will not love Jesus like you do.  Some will persecute you.  You may be passed over.  The neighbors may not be as kind to you.  You may have people threaten you or mock you.  Take up this cross, letting others know you are a Christian, no matter what suffering you may encounter.  This is to be done daily.

Then Jesus says: “Follow Me.”  “Deny self, take up cross,” and “follow me” are great places to begin a new year.  Here are a few suggestions to help you follow Christ.

  1. Decisions are about Jesus.  A new year’s resolution?  Read the Bible in a year?  Handout a Gospel tract each week? Accept a new job?  Relocate?  Become engaged?  Get married?  What about other spiritual decisions such as confessing sin?  Going to the altar during the altar call and making a decision for Christ?  How about service in the through the local church?  Will you serve in areas you like most or areas that are needed the most?  Make all your decisions about Jesus. 
  2. Discussions are about Jesus.  What will be the topic of our conversations?  Will you boast, exude pride about self?  Will you speak of personal selfishness?  Will you talk about the Lord to others?  Will you say how good God has been to you?  Could you tell someone about Jesus and His gift of eternal life in this new year?  Avoid talking negatively about your local church, pastor, Sunday School teacher or other Christian.  They are not perfect, and for that matter neither are you.  We are to talk to others about Jesus and talk to the Lord about our “problems.”  Be sure to tell people about Christ while at the same time speaking well of His bride – the church.  The lost will pick up on dissension in your speaking about other Christians and it will turn them away.  Be careful of the words you say and how you say them.  If it would be improper to say something in a press conference in prime-time, it would be wrong anytime.  Discussing the Lord will help you choose proper words because of the proper topic being Christ.
  3. Dedications are about Jesus.  To Whom or to What will you be dedicated to?  “Me, myself, and I” is very shallow and humanistic.  The “world, the flesh, and the devil”, are other choices for the dedication of your heart, but will leave you in sin leave your heart heartbroken and enslaved to sin.  “Money, fame, and getting ahead” are insufficient to bring you true peace and lasting joy.  “Following Jesus” is all that really matters.  Be dedicated to following the Lord in every area of your life. 

 

Whether the dedication of your heart, the discussion of your mouth, or the decisions of your mind, let’s determine to be followers of Jesus Christ this year.  Deny self, carry your cross, and follow Jesus.