Here is a recent interview with Fruitful Vine Ministry titled Godly Character for a Godless World. I hope you enjoy it.
Here is a recent interview with Fruitful Vine Ministry titled Godly Character for a Godless World. I hope you enjoy it.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a fascinating book titled, David and Goliath. A portion of his book details the rivalry between the Philistines and the Israelites. These two groups were enemies who at this particular point in time had taken up battle positions directly across from each other.
Gladwell noted that typical battle strategy at this time in history was for one army to send out one person who would battle someone from the other army. Whichever person won would win the battle for their army. In this particular encounter the representative for the Philistines was a man named Goliath.
Through the research done by Gladwell, he determined the following about Goliath:
Goliath would come out each day and torment the Israelites challenging someone to come fight him. David, who was bringing food to his brothers, showed up and became incensed that Goliath was treating the Israelites like this. David decided to take on the challenge and fight Goliath.
Remember, David was not a military man. He was a shepherd. When the king of Israel, Saul, heard David wanted to fight Goliath he gave him armor to wear and a sword to use. However, David ultimately refused the armor and the sword. He decided to fight this battle in his own way.
Here is the lesson. Many times, we feel that God needs to answer our prayers in the way we want things done. We expect God to give us armor and a sword. In reality, the way God does things isn’t the way we do things. Here is what Isaiah 55 says:
My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you can imagine.
David realized that he could not fight a battle the way everyone told him to fight. He realized he needed to simply rely on God to use the skills God had given David. David needed to fight on his terms…which meant giving the fight to God.
So, with a slingshot and stones David defeated a giant armed and protected with the best that was available to soldiers at that time. David had used a slingshot before. He was a shepherd. David knew how to protect his sheep probably with that very slingshot. David let God use the skills he already possessed to accomplish the job.
Next time you are facing a challenge let God use what He has already given to you. Don’t search for the latest armor and sword to solve your problem. Allow God to work through your slingshot.
I like to run. I always have. Where I live now I have two courses I usually run. One is at Toccoa Falls College which is a beautiful spot to just enjoy a run. The second spot is a local cemetery. I know that sounds strange but there is something just peaceful about running there.
Over the course of many miles, I have had the chance to read many of the tombstones. One family plot really got my attention. This plot is a small section containing four headstones. Mom and dad are there. Dad lived to be 62. Mom lived to be 78. One interesting thing is the two small headstones next to mom and dad. Two children are buried here. The first is a son who lived for one day. Dad was 24 when his son died. Mom was 22. The second is a daughter who also lived for only one day. Dad was 23 when he lost his daughter. Mom was 21. There is no indication the family had any other children. I just stood next to the graves wondering about what this family had endured.
It is hard for me to imagine losing a child. Losing two children when you are in your twenties? That’s hard to take. Then going the rest of your life with no children had to lead to some deep feelings for both mom and dad and some interesting private conversations.
So, as we approach Thanksgiving why even talk about this? Here is why. Many of us have family members who are still living. Yet, we get caught up in non-stop work, texts, email, and other things that rob us from spending time with our family. We get so busy with the daily grind in our lives that we forget to tell our family how important they are to us and that we really do love them.
We forget to ask our kids what is happening in their lives and what is important to them. We forget to listen. We get into a routine that keeps us from spending time with our spouse doing something that is important to them. We don’t intend to let time get away from us but it just seems to happen. I would bet that the family who lost their two children would talk privately about how they would give anything to have their kids with them throughout their lives.
Many of us do have our kids and our spouse with us every day. They are gifts. Be thankful for them and let them know it this Thanksgiving.
For those who are not married or do not have children…you have others who care about you. Mom and/or dad, brothers, sisters, friends, etc. There is someone in your life who really cares about you. Let them know how thankful you are for them too. I bet someone in your life would love a phone call this Thanksgiving.
Most people want to improve. We are unhappy with some aspect of our life or personality. We suffer from a host of ills that just need improvement. How can we be a better speaker? How can we be a better father or mother? How can we become a better writer? How can we become rich? The list is endless.
According to Kyle Francis, Director of Marketing and Data Analytics at My Peak Plan, Americans spend $10 billion on motivational products every year. Francis says this:
The problem is that 50% of all traditional motivational books are never read past the first chapter and 90% of motivational books are never finished. This means that people really want to improve but don’t know where to start or how to finish reaching their goals.
Francis is right. We all want to improve our lives but just don’t know how to do it. We get stuck looking at how to improve from within. We are looking for some great strength inside of us, fooling ourselves to believe that we can really change by ourselves.
But what if there were a way to really change within each of us that involved something bigger than just you and me. Suppose we looked to God for that change. Rather than looking to a self-help book written by others who probably read self-help books themselves, let’s look to the creator of the universe for help.
The writer of Ephesians (4:22-24) says this:
…throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
A new nature, renewed thoughts and attitudes, created to be like God, throw off your former way of life…there is a powerful message here. Think about the possibilities for your life. Don’t look internally for a life change. You can’t do it by yourself. Let God be your driving force. Then you will experience a real change from deep within.
Our recent November 6thelection had people pointing fingers in every direction. One candidate telling us why we should not vote for their opponent and the opponent telling us why we should not vote for the other candidate. The news and social media were mostly about the negatives. There was very little positive.
If we are always tuned to the latest news stories and social media, this electronic rudeness seems to be the foundation of much of what transpires in our culture. However, don’t be fooled. There is still real goodness in the world. Today’s story authored by Rose Minutaglio, is about two people who found remarkable love. Here they are below…Isabell and Preble Staver.
Isabell and Preble met in the 1940’s and were married in 1946. They were married for 71 years. Even after all this time together they would still take naps together just holding hands. It was clear they deeply loved each other and had loved each other through all their years together.
One morning Isabell died. She was 95. Preble’s daughter told him that his wife had just passed away and that “It’s OK for you to let go now”. Meaning, of course, that it is OK for Preble to pass away. His job on earth was complete. At about 8 PM on that same evening Preble passed away. Together for 71 years both husband and wife passed away on the same day. They existed for each other. Preble spent his life making certain his wife was OK and Isabell did all she could to take care of Preble through the years.
When you hear this story don’t you just wonder about your priorities? Don’t you wonder why as a culture we spend so much time on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram instead of taking time to talk with our spouse or children about something important to them? Do you wonder if the best use of our limited time on earth is to engage in rude interactions about politics? We spend our time talking about things with so little lasting value.
Preble and Isabell got it right. They knew that life was about kindness, generosity, selflessness, and love. They spent a lifetime refining these traits and caring for each other and their family.
We can all learn many lessons from the Stavers. Let’s spend less time watching funny videos on Facebook, less time staging the perfect shot on Instagram, and less time arguing with people on Twitter. Instead let’s focus on things that enrich our lives, the lives of those in our families, and the lives of those who cross our path.
My daughter (Joy) and I played for the opening community worship time at TFC. What a fun morning.
Sometimes I like to just sit and watch people. If I get to the airport early I watch the folks traveling. Sometimes at shopping malls I just sit on a bench and watch. You can learn a lot about people just by watching.
You can see how folks discipline their children, you can see their preferences about fashion, you can see their reactions to various events, you can even begin to see a bit of who they are as a person.
I often find that I am the person being watched. Someone will stop me and say they saw me in a particular store or restaurant. Yet I had no idea that person was even there.
Last week I saw a lady in the grocery store with a bag of Cheetos. I didn’t know her but thought I would have some fun with her. I told her that anyone who would buy Cheetos could be a good friend of mine. Her response? She said, Thank you, Bob. She surprised me. I still have no idea who she was but she certainly knew me. Doesn’t it make you wonder how many folks watch us as we go through our normal day? What example did we give these folks as they watched?
When we call ourselves followers of Christ, people intentionally watch us. People want to see what makes us so different as Christ followers. Sadly, for some, there is no observable difference between the behaviors of Christ followers and the behavior of others who make no such claim.
I see some who claim to be followers of Christ who are sad all the time, feel like the Bible is a weight around them keeping them from the fun in life. With sad faces and much complaining these people invite you to follow Christ too!
After watching some of this sad behavior most people would run from an invitation to follow Christ if the result is perpetual sadness.
For those who really are true followers of Christ, scripture talks about the joy that comes from a relationship with Christ. In fact, scripture mentions the word joy over 300 times! Scripture mentions happiness more than 30 times. Joy is actually one of the fruits of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness…
As I look at another verse in Matthew 7 I find this:
Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
So now I must wonder about those who profess Christianity but are terminally sad. The sad fruit being produced identifies that person. Something is missing in their relationship with Christ. It has to be. The scripture is clear on the fruit that must be in the lives of a follower of Christ.
Let’s build our relationship with Christ so we exude joy and happiness. This doesn’t mean we’re laughing all the time and don’t have problems. It simply means that we can experience joy knowing that God will see us through whatever we may face.
For all those people watchers watching us, let’s make sure that folks realize the tremendous joy that comes from being a follower of Christ. Let’s give the watchers a desire to experience the joy found in Christ. Someday someone may ask what makes you so different from others because they witnessed your joy.