If you are alive on this earth, you have heard the world attitude. You have had to adjust your attitude. You have been on the recieving end of a person that needed to have an attitude adjustment, and if you are like me, you may have felt inspired to the “instrument” that God was going to use to make that adjustment (We have to “SLOW OUT ROLE” when that happens). Attitudes are in everybody, every day, every where, and in every circumstance!
16 years ago, I came across an addage that I had forgotten until recently. Here it is…
What makes life 100%? If
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Now that is pretty powerful wouldn’t you say! I believe that Jesus lived His life in this principle. The Apostle Paul, saw this through his encounters with Jesus and developed this “thesis” the more and more he wrote about Jesus. Look at Paul’s thoughts on this in the book of Phillipians…
Philippians 2(NLT) – Have the Attitude of Christ
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I know right now in my own personal life, the more I shift my eyes off of myself; then shift them to Jesus and to other people, I notice something…
MY ATTITUDE AUTOMATICALLY ADJUSTS FOR THE BETTER!
As a matter of fact, John C. Maxwell said this about attitudes… “When our attitude outdistances our abilities, the impossible is possible!”
This Christmas Season has been unlike any other that I have experienced. Jen did most to the Christmas Shopping, I found myself being pulled in many ways those closing days to Christmas. Then on Saturday, Dec. 22nd, after coaching my 6-year-old 2ndbasketball game – EVER – I came home and crashed for 3-hour nap, in which I woke up with a 102.5 fever. The Christmas Flu hit, and I was in my bed for 5 days. For the 1sttime in my 21 years of Full Time Ministry, I missed a Sunday and a Christmas Eve Service due to sickness! WOW, what a season for firsts…
Of course, being a great sharer, my 3 kids and wonderful wife are on the way to recovering. Sorry guys, I Love You!
Then last night, on Thursday, Dec. 27th, I stood with a family from our church in an ICU room, and said goodbye to their Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle… to me – My Friend! Chuck Baker, almost 80, went to be with Jesus at 7:10 PM.
It is the first time I have been in the room as I watched a person, a friend, take the 1-second-long journey from life to death. I watched in grief, in wonder, in despair, in pain, in great rejoicing, in bewilderment, and utter amazement. A man that I had laughed with, joked with, prayed with, talked about everything with, and man that I worshipped Jesus within Church, was now in the place that I have preached about for 21 years – he is there.
I didn’t know what to do with all of that emotions. All of that weightiness from the family’s grief. All of my own emotions filled with so many thoughts. For the first time in my 45 years, I had witnessed the miracle of eternal life. I was on the earthly side of that miracle, and I longed to be on Chuck’s side – Heaven! He wasn’t in pain anymore. He didn’t have a walker. No more pills. His heart was strong, all in 1 second! It was the first time I ever truly wanted to switch sides with a Red Sox Fan! You see we talked of being never able to trade places as baseball fans, I as a Yankees Fan – He as a Red Sox Fan! After the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the 2018 Playoffs, Chuck gave me a sympathy card, and he drew a broom on the inside of it. (Chuck has a great sense of humor!) As a good friend of ours said, “Chuck is now playing with the Angels!”
I have been somewhat fortunate in this world to have only been close to death only about 20 times in my life. My mom, my father, my father in law, 2 grandfathers, a grandmother, an aunt, an uncle, several classmates, and then about 8 close families that I have walked through death with, as they said goodbye. In all of these journeys to eternity, I have never been in the final hours of life. I have never seen death, the beginning of eternal life.
After last night, I have a fresh perspective of the true meaning of the words written by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8 & 9, “8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.”
I met a man in 2010 in Memphis, TN.
Wes Linder was a kind and gentle man to me. You see, he was homeless, had nothing to his name but an old SUV, the clothes on his back, and then a few earthly possessions in the old SUV. I was introduced to him by his family. I got to know his brother and his mother. The day, I met Wes, we went to the food pantry and grabbed several bags of dry good groceries and personal items, and went back to his SUV.
You see, I sat in his truck and let him talk and talk. We shared cold soup, canned tuna, crackers, and bottles of water. We talked of dreams and goals. We talked of family and future. We talked of God and sin and eternity. I prayed with Wes that day, and only saw him one other time after that. He died 6 months later, just weeks after my family moved from Memphis, TN to Cape Cod, MA. On Dec. 29, 2010. There was nothing I could do or say. My broken friend’s body couldn’t hold together the years of his life. But this I know, his soul was desperately looking and searching for the love and meaning of Christ’s Love for him!
2 men, that I have known for collectively less than 2 years, made a huge impact on me.
Wes taught me that there is no price tag too small or too great to spend time with someone who needs to be loved. Wes taught me that love matters, no matter how it is shared. Wes taught me that life is not about position or bank accounts, but it is about heart and soul. Wes taught me that there are some amazing jewels hidden in the roughs of life. Wes taught me that simple love is found in simple ways – in authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability. Wes taught me to NEVER judge a book by the cover!
Even though Wes had so many questions as to the many of life, he lives on these 8 years later, because he made an impact on so many people, before he crossed over to eternity!
Chuck taught me to laugh. Chuck “made” me love the taste of Root Beer. Chuck helped me loved the Yankees that much more. Chuck taught me what a passionate, never quit, tougher than nails life is all about. For the last 8 years of Chuck’s life, he made a commitment to Jesus, because he survived a Heart Attack (1 of several) that should have been it for him. He didn’t miss church from that point. Chuck taught me what friendship with differences is all about – you try being a Yankees Fan up here – LOL! Chuck taught me what faithful looks like, sounds like, and is.
Chuck understood his meaning in life, and though Chuck’s death is only a few hours old, Chuck will live on, because he made an impact on so many people, before he crossed over to eternity!
On the way home for the hospital last night, I stopped at the store and bought a bottle of A&W Root Beer and had a good cry. Once home, I talked to my wife to unpack the emotion, then I went upstairs and prayed for my kids as they laid in bed, then spent some time with my oldest son.
Today for lunch, I went down to the food pantry at our church, and had a cold can of soup and some crackers, and sipped on a bottle of water.
You see, I’m 45, and hopefully, have a lot of life to go. But today, I understand life a little more than I did last night…
I understand, that being alone in this world is hard – so do life with people that are like you and that are not!
I understand that the simple things in life, are often the most meaningful.
I understand that no life is a waste and that we are all meant to impact the world for good, by pleasing Jesus.
I understand what Clarence said, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends!”
And I have had some greats ones!
Love You, Chuck! Sundays will not be the same, but you will not be forgotten!
Love You, Wes! You’ll never be forgotten, and always be remembered!
I think I am beginning to understand this journey of life…got a lot to learn still…but I am up for it!
How many times have you been a place where you really didn’t want to go. I’m not talking about places to eat, family times, church service, dentist office, or even that holiday play at Christmas. I’m talking about that place in your life where God is walking you through what feels like to much to handle. Yesterday, I sat in church and couldn’t keep my eyes dry for a “New York Minute”. I watched my Pastor since my “growing up years”, from his wheelchair preach an anointed message of “Rest, Relief, and Refreshment”! It was the first time I had sat through an entire service and listen to him preach in 14 years. I still remember the day when I heard the news that he and his son where in a car accident, that drastically changed his world. Pastor, thank you for modeling those times in your own personal life. Pastor, thank you for speaking truth in multiple ways this morning. It was life giving and powerful for me.
Later in the day, I began to think to myself about the places that I find myself. The tired feelings, the emotional stress, the tons of minutes spent thinking, dreaming, wishing, and praying. Sometimes fear consumes me. Sometimes bewilderment follows me. Sometimes just the thought of not understanding overtakes me.
Then I began to think about what God is doing in my life. How He is creating me to be who He wants me to be. He is not necessarily consumed with the path that I wish I was on, but He is totally taking me on an adventure to be more like Him. These feelings are not just for me, but I think they are for us all. God is taking us to a place that we don’t necessarily think that we can go to. Sometimes it hurts too much. Sometimes it is not a familiar place. Sometimes it is a place that brings us to the end of ourselves. Most of the time it is a place that takes us to the place that brings us to total dependence on Him, not our own self.
Then I remembered with the words ofJames 1:1-8, 12-18…from the Message Translation…
1 I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello!
Faith Under Pressure
2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
5-8 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
13-15 Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.
16-18 So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.
Did you catch verse 2, “…when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” It is not ‘if”, but it is WHEN!
They are going to come! It is life. And sometimes it is hard and it hurts. But they are going to come. They change us. They make us better. They cause us to become more like Him!
I don’t know about you, but I want His ways to be my ways! I want to be more like Him!
Do You? If so, when ‘they’ come… Consider them a SHEER GIFT!
If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will see that I do not post a whole lot about water. Water is not my favorite thing. I have to confess, if being clean was not such a priority, I wouldn’t shower daily – simply because I just don’t like the drying off process. I know that seems so weird, but what can I say, I am a little quirky (It’s only me – I know!). Please humble me with another water post.
We were recently blessed with a trip to Florida! It was amazing to see friends and family, some of whom we have not seen in at many as 7 or 8 years. We got to hang out with some dear people in our lives, eat at some of favorite Florida restaurants, make some great family memories, and see my nephew play football – this being his senior year!
Well, my favorite memory has to be from Thursday, Sept. 8th. Our family went to St. Petersburg beach in the Tampa area. What a beautiful place and the weather was perfectly hot for a great day in the bay side water. Well, we arrived at 3:15 and stayed well beyond 2 hours, which is huge for us. After have been there for about 45 minutes, I noticed that my little guy, Ian – 3 years old – hadn’t got in the water yet. So I made my way, “back to shore” to grab him and get him in the water. After I grabbed him, there was much screaming and leg kicking, he was so overwhelmed and did not know what to think of this vast body of water. As I got him calmed down and his body accustomed to the feel of the water, he really began to adjust and feel safe and secure in the arms of his dad. Once I got out to the depth of the water at about chest deep for me, he was totally loving the water, but then he got a strange look on his face.
“Dad, are there sharks out here?” Well you, our kids are avid “Shark Week” fans. You could tell that Ian was putting 2 and 2 together. He was in the home of the shark. I quickly replied, “No Ian. The sharks are not here this close to the people. You will be okay, ‘You just have to trust me!'” Well we ended up playing in the water, collecting shells, and throwing the football, etc… for the better part of an hour and 45 minutes. It was great. I told my wife later, that Ian made the trip to the beach this time. His little world of understanding, just got a little bit bigger! And I was grateful.
As I reflect on our little time in the water, it was if my Heavenly Father was speaking to me, “Son, you just have to trust me!” Boy, I was humbled. “I know Daddy, I have to trust you. It just all the unknowns. It just the lack of seeing what tomorrow holds. It just the fact that things aren’t turning out like I thought they were supposed to. It just very little is making sense right now. I feel so overwhelmed, like being in the middle of the ocean, where the sharks live. Daddy, I am a little bit, well a whole lot – scared!”
Ah that point of reckoning where you and I have to admit that we don’t have it all together. Where we have to depend on our Heavenly Father, more than we depend on our own judgments, relationship, our own sensibilities, and our own skills and abilities. We just have to trust Him! We have to remember it was Jesus that said in Isaiah 41:10,
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
And then in Isaiah 43:1 & 2,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
That is our Heavenly Fathers way of saying, “You Just Have to Trust Me!”
So, as we were pulling into my brother-in-law’s neighborhood, Ian woke up instantly in from an hour and half long nap. Without missing a beat, he says…
“Let’s go to the beach! That was fun being in the water!”
My hats off to you Sport, you are learning to love the adventure into the Shark’s Layer! Keep on Swimming!