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Words to Live By

August 28th, 2009 Comments off

“The beauty of old men [and women] is [wisdom and experience].”

Growing up is part of life and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  It’s always ironic to hear how children want to become adults as fast as possible (to do “adulty” things) and adults wish they could become like children so they don’t have all the responsibilities they shoulder now.  But one truth that I am becoming more and more aware of is that the older you get, the faster life passes you by.  I remember when I was a child, waiting an hour seemed like eternity…I would anxious and move around a lot (well more like bounced around…just ask my family) and if there was ever times were I was waiting I didn’t like it…  Think about Christmas when you were little…days seem to go slower than a snail, and when the day finally arrived our anticipation burst into happiness and joy.  I am 24 years old this year, and Christmas seems to come and go so fast.  It’s already almost the end of August and we might begin seeing Christmas shopping specials soon.  I’m not only talking about Christmas, because everything in life goes by like a blur now, and I realize as I get older it will only go by faster…

Here are some words that came out of my devotion today from an elderly man: “Time has a way of catching you unawares. It seems like yesterday I was young, just married and embarking on my new life. Where did the years go? I know I’ve lived them all, and I get ‘glimpses’ of how it was back then…my hopes and dreams. But here it is…the winter of my life…How did I get here so fast? I remember seeing older people and thinking winter was so far off I couldn’t fathom or imagine it. But here it is…my friends are retired and getting gray…they move slower…I see great changes. I remember when they were young and vibrant, now we’re the ‘old folks’ we never thought we’d become. Each day I find that taking a shower is a real target, and taking a nap isn’t a treat anymore, it’s mandatory, otherwise I fall asleep where I’m sitting! I’m unprepared for the aches, pains, and the loss of strength and ability to do the things I wish I’d done and didn’t. Winter’s here and I’m not sure how long it will last. If you’re not there yet, let me remind you it’ll be here faster than you think. Whatever you’d like to accomplish in your life…do it today. Don’t put it off, because you can never be sure if this is your winter. There’s no guarantee you’ll see every season of life, so say all the things you want your loved ones to remember. Your life is a gift from God, how you live it is your gift to Him and ensuing generations.”

These words by the older man show his wisdom and experience, and the verse in the beginning of this post is already wisdom in itself.  His words encourages me to seize every moment of every day, because we do not know even if we have tomorrow, another mintue, or another year.  Even if we do…time will go by so quickly we might miss opportunities and life will just pass us by.  Learn from this elderly man as I have, because before I know it, I’ll be that elderly man (if I live to then) who passes my wisdom and experience to younger people. 8)

Categories: Devotions Tags: , , ,

Integrity (Part 2)

August 27th, 2009 Comments off

“The integrity of the upright will guide them.” – Proverbs 11:3

Another problem we face, like the self-serving bias in the previous post, is something called “fundamental attribution error.”  Here is what it looks like:  if something good happens we tend to explain it by taking credit for it, but if something bad happens we tend to explain it by blaming circumstances.  For example, if I do well on a test I think it is because I’m smart; if I do poorly, it’s because I was distracted and didn’t study enough.  But the issue gets worse when we try and put the blame on the behavior on other people instead of realizing our own bad behavior.  How about this example: if you have gotten a speeding ticket, or any type of ticket, you blame the police because they HAVE to fill their quota and were out catching speeders instead of real criminals…  I’ve heard that excuse a lot…and I hope I don’t ever use it, because the fact is you still sped, broke the law, and now justice needs to be rendered.  You can’t put the blame on other people, when you knowingly and willingly broke the law.  If they let all speeders and traffic rule breakers loose and catch only real criminals, there would be more accidents, deaths (that will affect families), and overall just utter chaos…  So, even though they have quota to meet, there is a good reason they have to do it.

What’s the solution to the fundamental attribution error?  The way of grace and repentance. We need God’s help to see the truth about ourselves. And He gives it to us in three ways:

  1. Through prayer.
  2. Through reading and applying His Word.
  3. Through people who love and know us well; people who don’t tell us what we want to hear but what we need to hear.

To live a life of integrity means taking the blame when you, yourself, did wrong and NOT blame others.  When we do that, we start to build up the self-serving bias and placing ourselves above others.  That’s why I believe humility goes hand-in-hand with integrity; you simply cannot have one without the other.  So take this time to start humbling yourself before the Lord and ask for his help and know you will receive it in one of the three ways mentioned earlier.

Categories: Devotions Tags: , ,

Integrity (Part 1)

August 26th, 2009 Comments off

“The integrity of the upright will guide them.” – Proverbs 11:3

I think the world would be a much better place if everyone had integrity.  And for the most part, there are a lot of people in the world who have admirable integrity.  But there is one problem, which is called “the self-serving bias.”  That means pretty much everyone believes they are above average.  Take this for an example: 800,000 high school students were asked whether they were above or below average. Now if they were accurate they’d have split 50-50. Guess what percentage rated themselves below average? Zero! 20% rated themselves in the top 1%!  This self-serving bias is seen in many areas, most drivers view themselves as above-average drivers, 88% of college professors rated themselves as above average, and 90% of all pastors within the survey rated themselves above average preachers…

This is a huge problem because when we begin to view ourselves above others it begins to disintegrate our integrity and our capacity for integrity.  Jesus said: “…many who are first will be last, and the last, first.” (Mark 10:31) The fact is we should never view ourselves above average because it just sets us up in a very bad place.  Becoming first doesn’t necessarily make us bad, but while we continue to view ourselves above average, humility and integrity begin to become absent.  In a way, we start to become the Pharisees…  Our problem is not just our lack of integrity, but that we can’t see how badly we lack it.

I viewed myself as a good driver (no accidents, or tickets, etc.), but doesn’t speeding (even a little) or performing the infamous California rolling stop already diminish that goodness?  I am in fact a very poor driver according to the law, and I can never say I am above average unless I begin to always follow speed limits, stop completely, and other things the law requires.  In fact that’s almost the same as when we view ourselves as good people, and we deserve to go to heaven.  But God has given us a very strict law, The Ten Commandments, and if you have ever broken one of them, you are considered a sinner and are destined to hell.  We should never think of ourselves as good people because we simply aren’t.  There was only one who was righteous and his name is Jesus, and that is why he was able to take our sins away, because he himself was blameless and pure.

This devotion has helped me realize that I should always humble myself in situations and never view myself above average in any situation.  That doesn’t automatically give me integrity, but it will allow me to produce an integrity that will constantly guide me as the verse from Proverbs above says.  Do you view yourself as above average in anything?

What “sells”

August 25th, 2009 Comments off

“Another Jesus…a different spirit…a different gospel.” – 2 Corinthians 11:4

It’s quite easy to teach/preach what people want to hear.  Think about these statements: “You only need to be a good person to be saved”,  “God is a loving God and he doesn’t allow good people to go to hell,” or how about: “Everyone will go to heaven.”  If any of those statements sound great to you, then clear them out of your head right now, because ALL three of those statements are FALSE.  Salvation comes by grace, through FAITH (Ephesians 2:8).  Being good just doesn’t cut it because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Therefore, pretty much everyone will go to hell and not heaven.  I’m not making this stuff up, this is the absolute TRUTH, BUT the silver lining – that glimmer of hope – comes from THE most well known verse of the Holy Bible: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  That verse says it plainly, you MUST place your FAITH in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to have eternal life in Heaven.   And when it says God gave his Son, that means he sacrificed his Son (his ONLY one) on the cross to pay the penalty we all deserve (hell), but God loves the world too much…to see everyone perish.  That right there is the gospel, and if any part of that struck you it is time for you to place your faith in Jesus Christ.  I’m pretty sure I know most of you who read these little blogs, and I urge you to talk to me if any of this struck a chord in your heart.

There may be many other teachings that you may have heard but isn’t the truth.  So how do we know what is true and what is not true?  It begins with us reading the Holy Bible, which I view as God’s direct Word to us.  If you want to know God and what He has to offer you, the best place to start is reading His Word for yourself, not listen to preachers all day and tell your what his Word means.  Which would you rather trust to be more accurate, an autobiography, or a biography written by someone else?  The Holy Bible IS God’s autobiography, because it gives us a very clear picture of who God is and what He desires.  This isn’t just a book of history, it is His story.  It is inerrant, and the prophesies explained in the Bible actually did come true.  There is one prophesy that has not been fulfilled and that is Jesus Christ’s return to this earth, and that is not a time that you want to be on the wrong side.  I’m not trying to scare you, but the end times aren’t going to be pretty…  We (Christians) don’t know when that time is and it could very well happen tomorrow…  Make sure you ARE on the right side…

I deviated a lot from today’s devotional, but I really felt that I should proclaim the gospel in today’s post and most of my posts from now on for that matter because there’s always a sense of urgency since we do not know when the end times are coming.  I guess today’s devotion made sure that I will continue to hold His Word close to my heart so that I may guard myself against false teachings as well as not be a false teacher myself.  The Word has a way of producing a Christ-like character in me that others will be drawn to!  So let’s take Apostle Paul’s advice when he warns us against anyone who preaches “another Jesus…a different spirit…or a different gospel.”

Categories: Devotions Tags: , , , , , ,

Resilient People (Part 1 and 2)

August 22nd, 2009 Comments off

“We are hard pressed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8

Life never seems to go the way we want it.  For some cards are dealt to us that we would never expect and I think the Apostle Paul knew that the best when he writes: “We are hard pressed…but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.”  The fact is everyone has the choice to be resilient in any situation that we face in life and we choose to be depressed and complain about it, or we can choose to rise above it for personal growth.  Resilient people have four traits that allow them to face difficult times:

  1. They take control of their lives – Instead of blaming others for their problems and never rising to the occasion they see their own strengths and begin to influence what they can, instead of focusing on what they cannot.
  2. They surround themselves with the right people – This is so important especially in today’s society where it seems every just goes with the flow.  There are a few who don’t and those are the people you should surround yourselves with.  That’s why fellowship and small groups within the church are vital to the members because you will begin to lean on God through the church body.
  3. They allow pain to spur growth – Sometimes pain or failures are the best situations that promote growth in your life.  It’s almost like falling into a pit, and it forces you to become stronger to be able to climb out.  You can’t fall any lower than you already are, and the only direction you can go is up!
  4. They insist on changing what they can – Attitude is a very important factor on being resilient.  You can draw from God and learn to control the one thing you can control – yourself.

I don’t know what situations you are facing, or the cards that life has dealt you, but even though we are hard pressed, we can be resilient.