Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why "Treat Others The Way You Would Want To Be Treated" Is Not Sound Advice.

Last weekend I had the blessing of attending  being at the Calvary Chapel Des Moines Men's Retreat this year at Hidden Acres Retreat Center located in Dayton, IA. It was a great time with the guys from my church. We took a look at some of the questions Jesus asked and also spent time in the Word, prayer, and playing games like volleyball and basketball. This year's focus was on how to build relationships between us brothers in the body of Christ, and that was my main reflection on this retreat.

The main thing that the Lord spoke to my heart was this...

Treat others the way you want to be treated is not always sound advice.

Why is this?  For three reasons. 

First, people may want to be treated differently than how I would want to be treated. Let's face it, when I am going through some negative emotional feeling like anger, being upset, or nervous, the last thing I want is to be with other people. I just plain want to be left alone in my thoughts in silence, and meditate on the situation. I don't want to talk to anyone or be with anybody, Now there is nothing wrong with that per-say, but other people may want someone by their side to comfort and console them. They may want people to come by and be with them. And because I would rather want to be left alone, that is not what others may want. The bad thing is that when people want me to come along side them when they really need me, I'm not there, and it may look like I don't care when in fact I am giving them what I would want in that situation. 

Second, I may need to be treated differently than how I think I need to be treated. Just because I would prefer to be left alone in certain situations doesn't mean that's what I need. My needs are way different than my wants. I may need someone to come beside me and comfort me or give me biblical sound advice. I may need people to pray for me when things are at their worst, put their arm around me and tell me its going to be alright. But what I don't need is to become a hermit away from everyone and sulk in my own thoughts. That's just what I want, and it's not healthy.

Lastly, I am just plain ignorant of the situation at hand. One question from the retreat was easy to answer. "What does Jesus think about you?" Knucklehead was the first word that popped in my head. But in all seriousness, I've never experienced the pain of losing a child, or a parent, getting divorced, or losing everything I own in a house fire. I've never experienced the joy of my wife giving birth, having my son get married or even grandchildren for that matter. Since I've never experienced any of these things, I tend not to empathize with others in those situations. But I have experienced the pain of losing a sibling, getting laid off from work, and trying to have kids and never will. I have felt the pain of having a spouse who rejected Jesus Christ only to experience the joy of having her come to know Him in a real "Paul salvation" kinda way. I have felt the joy of getting married, paying off college debt, and buying a home. I need to empathize with others in their joys and pains. I need to feel emotion when it comes to other people. I need to be there for others even though I don't know what they are going through. I don't do that and I hate myself for it. I know I've offended others when I really didn't mean to, and I really do want to change.

One of our elders at my church can be very emotional when it comes to other people. He can cry at the drop of a hat. I wish I could be like that. It takes alot for me to get excited, happy, or even cry. To be honest I can't remember the last time I cried, and I know that it probably bugs people. I know it bugs my wife. So if you have any suggestions please feel free to pass them along. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Joyful Inconvenience

We go through life being inconvenienced for many different reasons. Whether at the store when they don't have our favorite ice cream. We are inconvenienced when we are stuck in traffic trying to get home to our wives who have an amazing night planned. And, we are inconvenienced when we break down on the side of the road and are late for an important event and can't do anything about it. No matter what, when things go awry and not the way we planned, for the worse and not the better, we are not happy, and deserve better. Or do we?

For the past 3 weeks I have been in Georgia away from home training for my new job. Away from my wife, listening to lectures, watching films, taking tests, and working with people my personality is not compatible with to then come back to the hotel, grab a meal, and go to bed to wake up hours later and do it all over again. For 3 weeks. I was ready to come home. Guess what? Didn't happen. Got to the airport and my flight was delayed. Then delayed some more to the point where I missed my connecting flight. With no flights available, I am stuck in an Atlanta Ramada Plaza that looks like it hasn't been updated since it was built in the late 1970's. Not to mention that they gave me meal tickets to use at the hotel that hasn't had a working kitchen since Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. I'm not happy, or joyful, and yes, feeling put out. 

So where does the joy come in? It comes in Jesus Christ. That no matter what situation I am in, I can use it for Christ's glory.

People ask me often why I am so patient and that in really sticky situations I let things (for the most part) roll off my back like water on a duck. Not always the case trust me. My friends know me better. But for the average person I'm pretty patient. How did it happen? The Lord for one. Of course, but also there are some things I do to help me through a situation, like I'm having right now.


Next time you're having a crappy day, and things are just not going your way. No matter what you do, it's just not working out, do this. Take your right index and middle finger, put them together, and put them up to your neck and feel your heartbeat. Is it beating? Then you're doing pretty good. Seriously. When I get really messed up, depressed, sad, angry, put out, I just feel my heartbeat and say, "Yup, still beating. Praise the Lord. Doing good today." Now this may not work for everyone and I would never belittle any condition people may have like chronic pain, disease, cancer...etc...etc. I've met people who would be thankful their heartbeat wasn't there. But for most of us, the average person, that heartbeat is the only thing keeping you from sudden death. I mean think about it. You have a pump in your chest that never needs maintenance, lubrication, oil, repair, or primed and pumps at least if not over 100,800 times a day, every day, without stopping. How can you think about that for a few minutes and not praise God for what you have?

Look Up.

Many times when I've been down or anxious, I go outside on a nice clear night away from city lights, and look up at the stars and think to myself, "I am a very insignificant part of this entire universe that God created for His glory." Depressing? No. Because I am traveling 67,000 miles per hour on a rock that is spinning at 1,000 miles per hour, the sun that heats the earth enough to grow plants, lets us see, create solar energy, among hundreds of other thing but not too close that we burst into flames or far enough that we turn into Popsicles and freeze to death. Every morning I know the sun will rise and at night I know the sun will set, and there is nothing I can do about it. You know what? It's cool with me. I can't control what goes on in space, but God is in control. He's way better at it than I would be. Read Job 39-42 and prepare to be amazed at God's glory and His control on our lives. 

Look Out. 

Now when I say "look out" it's not a warning, but a comfort. Every once in a while I will put my face up against the bathroom mirror, close one eye, and stare at my eyeball. I'll study it, check out every line and detail. The colors, the shapes, size, and just say to myself, "wow, God created that, and that is just one small piece of me." Blows my mind every time. He took care to make that, among many other parts. Designed and engineered for His glory. I am His special creation. What is He going to do with me today?

God's Plan Usually Isn't My Own

Here is my point. I am a part of the entire creation. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, created in God's image for His glory. God is the potter, and I am the clay. Formed with a purpose and function with love. Since He created me, He can do whatever He wishes in my life. Do we really have free will? What if I made a pencil from scratch. Does my pencil have free will to write whatever it wants?  Do I own the pencil? Can I write anything I want with the pencil? What if I snapped the pencil in half and threw it away? Can I do that? Do I have that right, or does that make me a mean person? So if I am God's creation, made with a purpose and function, does that give me the right to do whatever I wanted? Nope. Does it give God the right to do whatever He wanted with me? Yup. 

So I think about this and wonder, "what if I am here in this Hotel for a reason other than missing my flight?" What if this was God's will I was here? Here's what happened to me today. For the past three weeks I've been reading a book my John Piper called, When I Don't Desire God, How to Fight For Joy. So I had it in my hands when I checked in and the guy who was working the counter saw the book and commented on it. I told him what the book was about and he took a picture of it and said he needed to read it. He's been a joyless Christian for months and has been praying for a revival in his heart feeling bad that he doesn't have a desire for God much lately. What if I was meant to talk with him and encourage him, and give him a Gideon New Testament to put a smile on his face (which I did). God has plans for us that we don't know. A man plans his ways, but God directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9). 

Better Than I Deserve

Years ago I had the privilege to know a man at church named Ken Hunt. I never really talked with him until one day he overheard me telling someone about a problem in my basement and he offered to help. After helping me with the basement we ate dinner my wife cooked and chatted about things to get to know each other. One thing about Ken is that when you asked him, "How you doing?" he always answered, "better than I deserve." One day I asked him about it and  was curious what he meant. He just answered something like, "No matter what we get in this life, it is better than what we deserve, and that's hell." That was a key moment to my thinking as a Christian, that no matter what I receive in this life, it will be far better than anything I deserve in the next. Thank God (literally) that He sent His Son to willfully pay my fine with His life blood on the cross so I can have that better life. This helps me have a thankful heart as much as I can. 

So, tonight I will be sleeping in my clothes with the light on, but thank God I have a roof over my head and a lock on my door. I'm not going to get much sleep, but thank the Lord He will allow me to get up another day and breathe His air. 

I have a heartbeat. Life is good, and no matter what, it's better than I deserve.