Archive for September, 2008

Attitude, Part 1

September 29, 2008

This is how Dictionary.com defines attitude:

Attitude: “manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind”

Take a second to consider yours. Not at this particular moment, but overall, day to day (the problem with “right now” is that it will usually be too heavily influenced by how you feel).

If you think you have a pretty good/positive attitude, try this: imagine your 8 year old spilling his drink on the living room carpet, or being late to work when someone bumps you from behind at a stop sign, or dropping a spoonful of spaghetti on your dress at lunch, or any number of irritating things that can happen to us daily.

How do you respond when something like that happens? If you are like me, you get annoyed. And you may yell at the driver, or get upset with your 8-year old, or stomp around in a mad-at-self display.

So how do you fix this? What I do is say “that’s what I did this time”. And just think about that. And then, maybe because you think about that, next time you can catch yourself and in each case be a bit less so. This will work, though it may take a while. If you are impatient, just think where you’ll be in “a while” if you don’t start trying to fix it now.

One last thing: how often do you take offense at what people say to or about you? It’s the same process. And really this is just trying to be less concerned about ourselves. If we try thinking less of ourselves (or rather, thinking of ourselves less) we’ll take less offense at what people say. And I believe take another step on the path toward God.

The Point of Truth

September 16, 2008

I think we all come to a point of truth in our lives. That is when we decide whether we really want to know what God expects of us. And whether we are going to follow him or not.

I can understand an honest atheist. If you’ve examined the evidence and conclude that religion is all a bunch of made up nonsense, that’s fine. I think you are wrong but I respect your decision. If you don’t believe in hell, then you certainly shouldn’t worry about it.

It is the lukewarm “Christian” I can’t understand. The person who believes the Bible is true, but don’t follow it (and seems to seldom even read it). Who seems to agree that there is indeed a God in heaven, and perhaps a devil in hell, but are content to occasionally go to church but not look too deeply into what all this means. Who pray when they need help, but go about their business the rest of the time.

I mean, either this stuff is true or it isn’t. Being half way true really doesn’t make a lot of sense. If it isn’t true, then don’t worry. But if you think it is true, then shouldn’t you take it seriously?

How does one break out of this state of being? Honestly I’m not sure. I spent most of my life as a resident of that state, and only in the past few years struggled out of it. Why did I decide that what I was doing wasn’t enough? That I was mouthing the words but not living the life? I just don’t know. I can’t remember turning right instead of left. I can’t remember explicitly choosing God over Satan. I can’t remember what made me sit up and realize that I wasn’t really a Christian (though I was pretending to be one), and much more importantly, start taking action to change that.

While I can’t remember exactly when I changed my path, I can think of two things that influenced me.

The first is my reading of the Bible. C.S. Lewis said that the Bible is an education in itself, and I believe that’s true. Read it often (and sincerely) enough, and it will change you. It is hard to explain how (here’s one attempt), but I very much believe it has worked for me.

The second is that for years I’ve prayed for God to show me his will. To help me see what I should do and to have the courage to do it. I think he answered it by guiding me – by helping me turn right instead of left, but helping me see more clearly what is right and what is wrong. By giving me the desire and ability to start toward Him.

That seems pretty simple doesn’t it? Read the Bible and pray for help. Over and over.

If you feel lost, that something is missing, that you aren’t on the right path, just do those two things (and if you aren’t sure how to get started with either of them, email me – I’d be thrilled to do what I can to help you – and you might be surprised to find out just how many people will line up to do the same). Be patient and do this for as long as it takes – days, months, years. Keep doing it and wherever you are, whatever kind of person you may be, God will answer you. He may do it in his own time, but he’ll definitely do it. He’s promised that, and he doesn’t break his promises.

Part 3: It is Still Not About You

September 4, 2008

You know how someone can casually mention something and it just sticks with you? Well Gary Copeland once shared this wisdom with me: we don’t just go to church for ourselves: we also go to provide support and fellowship for our brethren. His point was what if he just didn’t go tonight and someone there really needed him?

The more I think about that, the more it gets to me.

I may not agree with much of Rick Warren’s theology, but in A Purpose Driven Life he really nailed it when he said “It’s not about you.”

That’s such a critical part of being a Christian – loving others – thinking about others – wanting to help them – as opposed to being only concerned about ourselves. And I think as we work to “become” more like Christ (instead of just checking off the rules), we find ourselves naturally being that way.