Archive for the ‘Intention’ Category

Your Beliefs Don‘t Make You A Better Person

July 11, 2018

…Your behavior does.

You can tell me what you believe. But I’m watching how you behave.

You can tell me you are a Christian; but if your actions are not those of a disciple of Jesus, I will think you are not a Christian.

On the other hand, you may wake up in the morning not feeling very Christ-like. But you help someone with a bag at the store, or open a door, or let someone pass in front of you on the road to work, or some other small blessing to someone else.

You can “fake it ’till you make it” or better you can intentionally choose your behavior and discover a Jesus-like attitude toward life.

Jesus said to follow him and love…God and our neighbor. Love is an action verb, not a noun describing an emotion.

You go out and do love by how you treat other people. In so doing, you are following Jesus. After all, he often said to go and do.

Beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.

God Is Not Hidden Nor Does He Hide His Wisdom

February 1, 2018

I have not spoken in secret or kept my purpose hidden. I did not require the people of Israel to look for me in a desolate waste. I am the Lord, and I speak the truth; I make known what is right. Isaiah 45:19, TEV

James, the brother of Jesus and the wisdom writer of the New Testament, advised us that we can just ask God for wisdom and he will provide.

Can it really be that easy? We don’t need a special spiritual guide to initiate us into a secret society where the hidden truths are finally revealed?

Digest the words from Isaiah. God didn’t (doesn’t) hide from us. We don’t have to search in remote places. No, we don’t have to go to Sedona, AZ at the right phase of the moon to find God.

We just need the intention–we ask with intention for wisdom. It is best to ask also for discernment so that we can apply wisdom correctly.

If we but ask God daily for guidance, we can perhaps avoid the problems and wasted life of Solomon. He who asked God for wisdom and had it granted, failed to live his life as a wise man would. I’ve just finished my annual reading of his wisdom sayings, the Proverbs. But look at his reflections of his life in Ecclesiastes. All was meaningless, he said, because he failed daily to follow God.

God was not hidden. He’s right here beside us willing to enter our life. We can have wisdom and live a life of wisdom if we but just open ourselves.

“I am the Lord, and I speak the truth; I make known what is right.”

Avoid Those Who Cause Dissensions

May 1, 2017

Some people just seem to love causing trouble. We knew them in elementary school. We knew them in high school. They are in our churches, our organizations, our businesses.

There are people who show up at your church with one agenda–raise dissensions and split the church.

Paul finished his teaching in his letter to the Romans. He was greeting people by name.

Then, while thinking about all the people, he must have had a thought about those he didn’t wish to greet. He gave a final instruction inserted in  his greeting people and his good bye.

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them.”

What was the teaching? First, believe that God raised Jesus from death to life. Second, love everyone always.

Does sowing dissension and splitting fellowships show love? Does that attract outsiders to a loving fellowship? Or, like Paul wrote, does it just serve to feed the ego of the sower?

Consider wisely.

I Was Such A Mess, And Then

April 21, 2017

“I was such a mess,” said Radek, “and then I started studying productivity and became productive, happier, and found a great job.”

This is from The Podcast, a conversation between the developer and CEO of productivity application Nozbe Michael and the Nozbe Apple App developer Radek. Two Polish guys who speak English on the podcast better than some of my friends.

Episode 93 asks, Why is studying productivity a worthwhile pursuit? Many people assume it’s all useless — and much of it is! Like with dieting, it’s a field filled with charlatans promising amazing results with barely any effort at all. Yet, underneath all the nonsense is wisdom to be discovered.

They are correct. The first “productivity” or “self-help” seminar I attended was 40 years ago. I’ve been through DayTimers, ProActive Management, Franklin Planners, a series of software applications, and now Nozbe. I like Nozbe. The link above is an affiliate link (thank you to all who have downloaded or purchased the app).

But you have to use it to benefit from it. I ditched the others because I could incorporate Nozbe into my daily workflow better than the others.

I remember from my days of selling and installing automation in factories that if the technology got in the way of work, then it was turned off–quickly.

Radek and Michael agree–you don’t become productive overnight, just as you don’t lose 20 pounds and keep it off overnight. You start with one habit change. Do it for 30 days and see if it works. Then maybe go to the next habit change. Repeat.

Spiritual formation is the same thing. You don’t go from “worldly” to “spiritual” overnight. Perhaps you go from “not-God” to “with-God” overnight. You went from “who’s Jesus” to “oh, Jesus” overnight.

But then what. You were a mess. You’re still a mess. Just have a new awareness.

In my life, I’ve seen many (too many) people “get saved” but still remain the same person. The New Testament tells us over and over that we’re in a long-term race.

You change one habit. Bring it into your daily life (maybe reading spiritual books and the Bible every morning for 15 minutes). See how it works. Then add another habit (maybe prayer and meditation every day, maybe twice, regularly). Try it for 30 days and see the benefits of incorporating it into your daily life. Then maybe you begin to see little acts of service you can do daily.

Then one day someone says to you, “Wow, you’re really a changed person!”

That is going from a mess to a maturing Christian. People see it in your life and ask, How can I get some of that?

Can We Work Hard Enough To Earn Salvation?

February 23, 2016

I have a friend who is greatly concerned with faith versus works.

Jesus constantly picked on those Pharisees who placed priority on following the letter of the law. It’s really a matter of attitude. The Law essentially takes the place of God. In their view, they could only approach God by perfectly following the Law.

And they tried. They tried hard. It was a stress. It was also a source of pride. When it’s all about you and what you do, then you can point fingers and compare. You can say, “I’m better than you.”

That doesn’t sound very spiritual, does it?

Jesus picked on those people.

Paul addresses this in his letter to the Romans. He takes a long way to the argument that there is no way we can possibly follow the laws so perfectly that we can be made right with God.

It is only through grace freely given by God alone that we can be made right with him.

So, there are the Spiritual Disciplines or Spiritual Practices.

My friend worries at times that I am falling into the works side of grace / works. Certainly one could look at the Disciplines as works. If I pray every day, worship at every opportunity, serve when I can, study daily, and so on, then I am right with God.

Wrong.

A study of 17,000 Christians who had drifted away from church and faith and then returned was quite revealing. Overwhelmingly they said that what brought them back were spiritual practices–mostly reading the Bible daily.

Dallas Willard says, “The disciplines are activities of mind and body purposefully undertaken to bring our personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order.”

A key word–purposefully. Another word is intentional. We are intentional that we’ll practice certain spiritual disciplines in order that we will be brought closer to God. The goal is not the practices. They merely are used intentionally to draw us close to God.

Intention and attitude determine if we are mired in works or actively participating in grace.

Why You Do The Things You Do

February 11, 2016

“You’re doing it for all the right reasons,” he said to me.

That remark made me pause. I’m still thinking about it.

When I take on a leadership role, what is my inner motivation?

Do I have a need to feel important?

Do I have to be the boss?

Am I just contributing from my set of skills?

Especially in my church work, but also in my profession, does the work bring me closer to God? Or does it bring me closer to my narcissistic self?

Do I lack the ability to say no?

Do I just have a passion for that work?

In my professional leadership role, I work with other visionaries who are sincerely trying to move the industry forward with no other self interest. None will become exceedingly wealthy. But we care about the advancement of manufacturing and production. There is no room for an overly large ego.

In my church role, I can look inside and say that I really care about the spiritual development of other people. If I can get them involved, it could be life changing. It’s a missions role. Going outside the walls of the church building and helping others, even if it’s just through painting, building walls, constructing a wheelchair ramp so a person can more easily get inside their homes, these all have a deeper meaning.

When you focus on others and work in tandem with God, you actually succeed no matter the results or your personal gain.

Your motivation determines your reward.

Do You Want To Get Lucky

August 27, 2015

An old joke from the Newhart Show set in Vermont. The handyman, Tom Poston, finds a stray dog and takes him in. He names the dog Lucky, because he is, well, lucky to have a home.

Enter Stephanie, the cute young woman. Says Poston in his dry voice and deadpan face, “Stephanie, if you’re ever feeling lonely, you can come to my room and get Lucky.” <badda boom>

I have a fried who has moved from writing about technology and business to writing about life. He’s questioning his Catholic precedents right now. Happens to all of us at some time, I guess.

His latest writing was on getting lucky.

Are some people just lucky?

Are they lucky because they have a positive mental attitude?

Are they not lucky but practice “active consciousness” bringing good things into their lives (he read a book).

Two answers

I go with two answers.

First is the obviously practical. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

If you get the opportunity to speak on a subject or finally play an instrument in the orchestra, then you had better have been practicing for years so that you can succeed.

Second is not so obviously practical–but in effect it is.

You still need preparations–the disciplines of study, practice, prayer, service.

However, you also need to pray with intention. Not just wishful thinking. Not just vague prayers to God.

No. It is the hard work of prayer. It is engaging your mind and strength and soul in prayer. You have intention. You pray on purpose, with purpose.

You pray, “God please bring a person into my life who….” Maybe it’s someone to whom you can share the gospel message. Someone who offers a chance at a service or ministry you’ve been searching for. Someone who needs a mentor or friend.

Or you pray, “Lord, I feel you nudging me toward a mission, a ministry. Open my eyes and show me the ministry you have in mind for me.” I did that over the  space of a year or more. Then I got a phone call.

Lucky? Or good? Or, ready when God calls?