Friday, November 27, 2015

Are You a Butterfinger or a Reeses?

Due to some recent health issues, I have renewed my efforts to cut back on caffeine and sugar.  That being said, I did splurge today on a little chocolate after our hiking trip.  I was looking forward to the Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cup that awaited me, but as I ate it, I came to a conclusion:  it wasn't as good as a Butterfinger or a Reeses.  In trying to be something it wasn't, not only did it fall short of the very thing it was trying to imitate, but it fell short of itself.  I would have much rather had a regular Butterfinger bar or a Reeses cup than that peanut butter hybrid.  But that's what happens when we try to be what we were never intended to be.

Take, for example, my desire to play the piano like so many others I know.  They have style.  They have class.  They have the technique and the perfect fingering.  They utilize grand runs and unique chords.  I, on the other hand, am a competent pianist, but no more.  I can make my way through most songs, but don't count on fancy chording or impressive fill-ins.  I don't do that.  I can't do that!  However, I have been told, on many occasions, that my music is beautiful and full of feeling and emotion.  Unfortunately, I don't feel that my "emotion" is as nice as someone else's flair, so I try to up my program.  I practice a song until my fingers are numb, but that doesn't matter to me because I've worked in all the proper things at the proper places, determined to make my music sound as impressive as another's.  But guess what?  It falls short. . . way short.  Despite the hours of practice and the intense concentration, the piece still lacks the quality of a better pianist, and because I am so focused on the technique, I lose all feeling and emotion.  In short, I'm still not as good as they are, and now, I'm not even as good as myself.  What a lousy deal!

God has given each of us talents and gifts, and there is even a variety within each of those talents and gifts.  He has blessed us with skills and personalities that are perfectly suited toward the things He has called us to do.  So, why would we try to be something or someone else?  We're not equipped to do those jobs because God never intended for us to do them.  He has given us each our assigned tasks, and He does not give us a job to do without giving us the skill with which to do it.  We may not be the best at what we do, but that's not what God is interested in.  First off, He's concerned that we are faithful in what He's called us to do.  Second, He wants us to do what we've been called to do in the way we've been called to do it because, while we may not be the best, we will often deliver something that "the better ones" do not.

If God made you to be a Butterfinger, please don't try to be a Reeses.  It simply won't work.  Just be yourself and allow others to appreciate you for your faithfulness to who you are.  After all, I'd rather have a Butterfinger that tastes like a Butterfinger than one that's trying to imitate something else.  Be what God intended you to be.  Don't fall short of yourself!

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. - Romans 12:6-8

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Poem

Today I am thankful for so many things
Houses and family, my hopes and my dreams
A husband who loves me, a church fami
ly who cares
Nights that are free from fear and despair
Knowing that God has my best interest at heart
Showers of blessing that I know will soon start
Grace and mercy to get me through every day
I'm thankful for how the Lord guides my way
Victories that have come, and defeats to inform
I can do nothing without the strength of my Lord
Now on this day, I remember these things
Giving glory to God for all the goodness He brings.

Poem by Dana Rongione

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The "Positive to Poo" Ratio - Repost

If you missed my earlier post with minister/comedian/marriage counselor, Mark Gungor, you'll want to go back and watch that video.  This guy is a hoot, but he offers very valuable information.  In the video, he uses the Bible verse, Proverbs 14:4a, to explain that there is no such thing as a trouble-free marriage.  Proverbs 14:4a states, "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean."  In other words, if you have oxen, you're going to have ox poop!  Likewise, if you have a marriage, you're going to have some differences in opinion somewhere along the way.  It's just a fact!

I laughed at his explanation but realized that the concept goes far beyond marriage.  In fact, it applies to all life.  If you're alive, you're going to have trouble.  The Bible says so.  In Job, it says, "Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble."  In John, Jesus Himself said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation."  It's depressing, I know, but it's unavoidable.  Let's boil it down:

Ox = ox poop
2 dogs = lots of dog poop (trust me, I know this one well)
Life = life poop

The key to dealing with this inevitable situation, as Mark Gungor explains, is to find the proper "positive to poo" ratio.  This goes back to a couple of my earlier posts that discussed getting rid of the inner Eeyore and retraining our brain.  It's simply too easy to focus on all the poo in our lives.  It's all around us.  It stinks.  It seems to permeate every fiber of our being.  And at times, we're so tired of the poo that we contemplate ending it all, just to get rid of the poo. 

Do you know the best way to stop thinking about the poo?  Think about something else.  Don't focus on the negative.  Focus on the positive.  What's good in your life right now?  Do you have loved ones who care for you?  Do you have a good job (or in this job market, a job at all)?  Do you have good health?  Were you able to take a breath this morning?  Do you have plenty to eat?  Surely, there's something.  Think about it.  Ponder it.  Meditate on it.  Put it above your negative thoughts.  Whatever you do, don't let the poo outweigh the positive!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hope in the Midnight Hour

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. - John 11:32-35

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. - John 19:26-27

The above passages are two occasions where we see Jesus grieving for those who were suffering.  In the first passage, He wept because of the pain that Mary and Martha were going through at the loss of their brother, Lazarus.  In the second passage, Jesus had compassion for his weeping mother and dear friend, John, who could only stare in horror at the sight before them.  In both instances, Jesus was filled with sorrow and longed to take away the hurt.  However, He could see what the sufferers couldn't--the end result.

In the story of Lazarus, Jesus purposefully delayed His coming.  He could have gone as soon as He received word that Lazarus was ill.  Since He knows all things, He could have arrived before that.  But He waited.  Why?  Well, He answers that at the tomb of His dear friend. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 11:41-42)  Healing the sick is one thing; raising the dead is quite another.  Jesus waited so that the people would believe, and that's exactly what happened.  Though it broke His heart to see the tears of Mary and Martha, He understood that it would all be worth it in the end.  He understood His delay.  He understood the greater miracle that would take place.

The same thing happened at the cross.  Jesus could have come down from the cross and ended Mary and John's suffering right then.  He could have personally wiped the tears from His mother's eyes and held her in His strong arms.  But He knew that the cost of alleviating their temporary suffering was an eternity of suffering in Hell.  He knew what had to be done even though it caused His mother and friend great grief.  I'm sure He longed to end their sorrow, but He could also see beyond the midnight hour.

Dear friend, I realize that all of us are going through something.  For some, it is one huge trial.  For others, it's like the death by a thousand cuts where we can't recover from one injury before encountering another blow.  Whatever the case may be, I am here to tell you that there is hope in this midnight hour.  Your suffering has a purpose, and there is a greater good beyond this dark time.  God does not delight in our suffering.  In fact, He hurts when we hurt.  However, He loves us enough to allow us to go through certain suffering in order to bring about something better than we could ever imagine.

Hang in there, and don't quit fighting the good fight.  God isn't late, nor has He forgotten about your need.  He is working all things for our good.  Just keep in mind that a little suffering may be the pathway that leads to treasures unseen.