This is the day that the Lord has made...

This is the day that the Lord has made...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Character Building:101

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I can still remember his last breath, watching his chest heave and then relax.  I can remember thinking for the previous 10, that was his last. But then, another breath would follow. And then they stopped.  The loss of my father was a game changer.

For the previous 37 years of my life, I would consider myself a winner.  I mean, I experienced defeat in sports and in relationships and some of the more trivial things in life.  But for the most part, I could pretty much consider my life a success.  So much so that, as I reflect, I really had no significant need for Christ in my life.  Sure, I was a Christian.  I went to church on Sunday.  I even prayed at meal time.  So far as depending on Christ, not so much.  I was pretty sure I could do anything I set my mind to and often believed I did have a cape to go with the attitude.  Until the passing of my father, I had never truly experienced a meaningful loss.

The game changed in relatively short period of time. One loss lead to another, that lead to another and another.  I can succinctly remember thinking to myself amidst the chaos and turmoil of my new life, "can't I just get a win here, Lord." It was during this time that I turned to Christ because I was all out of answers, energy and life.  I prayed to our Lord to save me; save me from myself, this world and all the pain I was suffering.  I knew that things would be better now with Christ in my life.  I knew Jesus would step in and pull me from the raging river of turmoil, loss and pain that I was stuck. Instead, he gave me a paddle, which looking back, was the greatest gift I've ever received.

I'd always read that character is built in times of struggle, turmoil and loss.  And to some extent, I would agree.  I believe, however, that while character is built  during hard times, it requires the love of Jesus to chisel and forge that new man or woman from the old.  While I know the earthly loss of my father was a blow, I also know that Jesus said He would be with us to the end of the age.  To me, this means that in the end, I will always be a winner because of Him.  I praise and thank God today for his unending, undying and unlimited love for me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Prideful World

John 15:5 (NIV)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

One of my greatest personal, ongoing disappointments is the frequent uprising of pride.  So many times each week, or worse, each day, I react to the world with my earthly prideful instincts.  It seems that the world we live in has a powerful diverging influence that continuously strives to pull me away from my spiritual centeredness.

As an entrepreneur, I am consistently afflicted with the need to promote myself in order to maintain and grow my businesses.  I struggle with the well-publicized notion that if I am not selling myself, daily, how can I expect my business to thrive.  And, worse yet, the further I am away from Spirit, the easier it is be creative in this manner of prideful self-agrandizement.

Some might say that I am too hard on myself, that this is just the way it is in business, or that sometimes you just have to ignore your spiritual teachings when it comes to this aspect of life.  I disagree.  I believe this exactly what Jesus was referencing in John 15:5 in my need to remain in him.

I can't count the number of times I've learned my lesson the hard way believing that I can do this on my own.  While it may appear that there is some earthly gain in my prideful efforts, inevitably there is a greater price to pay in the long run.  Most often, that price is a breakdown in my relationship with Christ.

I am always amazed at how strong my relationship is and how peaceful and rewarding life is when I am pursuing Christ and the principles He has given us.  And, conversely, how broken and empty and difficult life is when I am moving away from Him.

I pray today that the Holy Spirit would continuously arouse my awareness to the first mis-step I may take that leads me away from what is good, what is right and what is the truth.  And I pray that I might be a forever growing branch on the vine of Life, producing abundant fruit in season and be pruned delicately for the next season of growth in Christ.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Harvest Season

John 15:16 (NIV)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit---fruit that will last---and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

As we come into harvest season, it reminds me of the many lessons I have learned about sowing and reaping.  There can be no harvest, of course, without the planting of and caring for the seeds that were planted.  The farmer knows, through education and experience, that certain actions are needed throughout the growing season to insure that he has a crop to harvest in the fall.  His tender seeds require water, warmth, cultivation and host of other needs to meet in order to attain the level of harvest he anticipated at planting.

Notice, the farmer doesn't simply plant the seeds and then leave them on their own, simply hoping for  a good crop.  Instead, he invests copious amounts of time and resources in the seeds he planted, all the while having great hope for an abundant future harvest.

I have to ask myself, daily, am I nurturing and caring for the seeds that I have planted?  The prayers, offerings, gifts and time that I dedicate to the fulfillment of the Lord's purpose in my life are minimized in returns if not continuously attended to through continued prayer, thought and action.

Jesus tells us that He chose us specifically in order to bear fruit- fruit that will last- when we do so in His name.  If I want my bountiful harvest to last, it is up to me to do the work required to achieve the result desired.  This means personal accountability: spending time daily with Him; continuous fervent prayer for those people, things and opportunities that I have asked of Him in His name; frequent nurturing of the new "seeds" I have helped to plant in His kingdom.

My faith comes alive when I take on the farmer's mentality and realize that the fruit that I bear, fruit that will last, is a result of the time, energy and work that I put into it.