Do You Want to Play the Glad Game?

Are you a Pollyanna? I am.

Pollyanna is a character of a classic children’s book by Eleanor  H. Porter. She is continually playing the “glad game.” In this game, she faces every circumstance with the belief that there must be something to be glad about if you look long enough. In the story, the adults get annoyed with her constantly optimistic view of life. In fact, that annoyance continues today. The dictionary actually has a definition for a Pollyanna.

Pollyanna: an excessively or blindly optimistic person. To be unreasonably or illogically optimistic.

But I think she had it right. One of the quotes from the book says, ” if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it SOME.” Now, I’ve never counted to see if she was right about there being eight hundred verses telling us to be glad. But do we really need that many?

Here are a few that should confirm His desire for us to be glad.

But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; Yes, let them rejoice with gladness.” – Psalm 68:3(ESV)

O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” – Psalm 90:14(ESV)

Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.” – Psalm 104:34(ESV)

So, I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind in the least if I’m called a Pollyanna. In these days that we’re living, it’s so easy to get discouraged. Reading the news, hearing what others are struggling with on a daily basis, how can we possibly be glad? It certainly looks excessive or unreasonable, even illogical to think that we could be glad in the midst of what’s going on around us every day. But God says we are to be glad. Why?

Because God is still on His throne.

For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.” – Psalm 92:4(ESV)

Me and My Shadow

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When my older boys were entering their teen years, we helped them find opportunities to shadow some men in the workplace. The purpose was for them to get an idea of what it was like to work in each career field. They spent the whole day following the man around like a shadow.

Have you ever considered your shadow? What does your shadow look like? It looks like you! It’s the silhouette of your body as it appears in front of the sun or another bright light. Your shadow moves and acts exactly as you do.

So consider for a moment that someone approaches you and asks if they can shadow you for a whole day to see what your life is about. Much like a career shadow, they would follow you around watching your actions. Watching how you interact with others. Watching how you make decisions. They would see how you handle stress, what choices you make regarding your health, and perhaps how you handle your money.

As a Christ-follower, you are made in His image. You’re supposed to reflect His character. So your shadow should look a little like Him, don’t you think?

So, the question is: If someone followed you around all day, would they know, without you telling them, that you have asked Jesus Christ to be Lord of your life? Could they tell from your actions that He is the most important person in your life? Could they tell by your interaction with others, that you exhibit His compassion for those you come in contact with every day?

If we were to shadow Jesus, we’d know exactly who we were following. If others shadow us, who would they see? Do we look more like Jesus or more like everybody else?

Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:6 (ESV)

 “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”1 Corinthians 11:1(ESV)

In the Silence You Can Hear Him

This post is from about 5 years ago. Some things are worth repeating.

I thought I was losing my mind. On several occasions, I have been lying in bed reading and heard music. Once I got up and went into the boys’ room to see if they could turn off their music for the night only to find that they didn’t have music playing. It was puzzling but I didn’t think too much of it. I’d go back to bed and put it out of my mind.

I have inner ear issues, so maybe I’m really not hearing anything, I would tell myself. Maybe it’s other normal house noises that I’m perceiving as musical. I’d just get it settled and then a few nights later I’d hear it again. I finally told my husband I was hearing music. He thought I must be imagining it. Maybe I was.

The only time I could hear it was at night when the house got quiet and I was finally still and ready to rest. This morning my husband heard it too and we finally solved the mystery. A few months ago I received a small television that belonged to my grandfather. We put it in our room along with a DVD player so we could watch movies once in a while when the boys were using the only other TV in the house. We also hooked up a set of computer speakers. As sometimes happens, the system is picking up radio waves and in the stillness at bedtime, I can hear the faint music coming through the speakers.

I’m not losing my mind after all! You can imagine how relieved I felt! But the Lord wasn’t done using this experience. He took this opportunity to remind me that this is what I have to do in my spirit. His voice is often like those radio waves. I have to shut off the noise of the world in order to hear Him. It isn’t because He can’t speak loudly. He could shout if He chose to. But He would rather I quiet myself and chose to turn away from the noise of life around me to give Him my full attention.

He has intimate things to say to me that are for me alone. He has things to tell you as well. He wants to speak to you in the voice that only you can hear. He wants to whisper to you how much He loves you and what wonderful things He has in store for you. We can hear Him best when we turn down the volume around us.

I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.” Psalm 85:8 (NLT)

Facing the Trials

You’ve probably heard yourself say, at some time in your life, “that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Or “that was a very difficult season (experience, situation, conversation, etc.)”

We all have hard times. Sometimes when we’re in the middle of a  particularly trying time, we can get discouraged about the future. Or maybe we see the changes in our world and know that life is getting more difficult for us and many others. We can begin to dread the future, thinking the hard times that are coming will be too much for us to handle. Whether it’s something tragic or a strong temptation, we know we will face more trials in the future. We know we aren’t done. We haven’t arrived. We’re still on the journey that marks the life of a follower of Christ.

But instead of becoming discouraged, we need to consider where we’ve been. There is a reason God told the Israelites to tell the story of His marvelous works in the Old Testament. We need to be reminded of what God has already brought us through in order to grow in our faith, in our belief that He is still faithful to complete the work He started in us.

How do you react when you face hard times? Maybe it’s the death of a loved one or having major surgery. Maybe it’s a painful divorce or a child who walks away from the family. Maybe it’s that difficult conversation that you never wanted to have. Any of those situations can cause us to be overwhelmed.

Can you think of an instance when you were overwhelmed by life but finally got to the end of the suffering? When you said, “that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”? The key word in that sentence is the word done. It’s over, in the past and you made it through, even though it was hard. God was there.

He’s still there. Right beside you. Ready to take you through the next thing. Yes, there will be a “next thing” but God is already working on getting you through it even as he brings you to it. He already knows exactly how to equip you to handle anything that comes your way.

The reason we dread the future is that we aren’t there yet. We can’t see the way God has planned to get us through. Maybe we can see difficulty up ahead and we know we can’t possibly overcome it now. But when we get to it, we’ll be able to because God will take our hand and guide us through.

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.’”Isaiah 41:13

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

The Sharpest Knife in the Drawer








Have you ever tried to cut a tomato with a dull knife? It can be a frustrating experience. When you are trying to prepare a meal, there is nothing more exasperating than working with a knife that needs sharpening. It’s inefficient. It slows you down. It simply cannot do the job it was designed to do without being sharpened once in a while.

Scripture tells us that we are like that dull knife. We need to be sharpened regularly. How does this happen? God designed us to sharpen each other.

It has been said that iron cannot sharpen iron because they are both the same substance so they are unable to sharpen each other. In order to be sharpened, one substance must be stronger than the other. Could it be that we take turns being strong depending on which of us needs sharpening in a given circumstance? I think so.

Do you have people who rub up against your life and sharpen you? I do. Those people are a vital part of my everyday life. They are necessary if I am to keep from becoming the dullest knife in the drawer. If I am to be useful for God’s kingdom, I have to be sharp. When metal rubs up against metal it also shines more. I need to be able to shine for others to see. I need to have a sharp and clean edge so I am useful to God.

To be sharpened in this way we must become vulnerable. We must allow someone to come close enough to touch our lives. We must be willing to feel a little uncomfortable when we experience a bit of friction as our edge is honed.

But it’s well worth it.  Find others who are willing to sharpen you when you need it. You will be made more useful to our Lord. You will be the knife he reaches for when he has a job to do because He knows you are one of the sharpest knives in the drawer.

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17(NASB)

Do You Have a BFF?

 

Have you ever had a friend that knew you so well they could anticipate what you were thinking? Were they even able to finish your sentences because they knew what you were going to say? In some social circles, that person would be called your BFF (Best Friend Forever).

Or maybe your son or daughter planned to ask you for something but you had already anticipated their request and arranged to fulfill it even before they asked. Because you love them so much, you want to take care of them, to surprise them, to make them smile.

There is someone who knows you that intimately. Who knows your thoughts and knows what you need. Your Heavenly Father begins to answer your prayers even before you speak them. He is so tuned in to what you are thinking that He can finish your sentence while you are still speaking. He loves you that much.

It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” – Isaiah 65:24 (NASB)

Go ahead and tell Him what’s in your heart and on your mind. He’s listening.

I Wish I Would Have Said…

When was the last time you were in a conversation and sometime later, after it was over, you had that moment when you said, “I wish I would have said…?” Okay, sometimes what we wish we’d said was probably not a good idea anyway!

But there are times we do wish we’d said things differently. Perhaps our emotions got the better of us and we said things we would like to take back. Perhaps we could have been kinder.

What if we truly sought God before we opened our mouths? What if we only spoke as He directed? We would have no more regrets about what we say.

God talks clearly about our words in scripture.

“A person takes joy in giving an answer; and a timely word–how good that is!” – Proverbs 15:23 (CSB)

“A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings” – Proverbs 25:11 (CSB)

“The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.” – Isaiah 50:4 (ESV)

Can you imagine what it would be like if we all surrendered our tongues to God’s direction? Everytime we opened our mouths someone would be blessed!

Pass or Fail

I remember a particularly challenging class I took in college. I worked hard but just didn’t keep up. I was used to getting As but when I finished this class I was thrilled to see a B+ on my grades report. It wasn’t an A but it was good enough.

I know you’ve heard the phrase, “God doesn’t grade on a curve.” In fact, God only gives two grades. Pass and Fail. In His grading system, a B+ isn’t good enough, not even an A-.

God expects a perfect grade. We either pass or we fail. And…nobody passes. Nobody. Scripture says we all fall short.

” For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” – Romans 3:23 (NASB)

God wants perfect obedience to His commands. So the hard truth is that we will all fail miserably. But cheer up!

If you put your trust in Jesus, you can still do your best. But in the end, when it’s time to take the test, the creator of the test goes in your place and passes with a perfect score.

Jesus never fails.

More than You Can Count

 

It’s not uncommon these days to see large numbers casually thrown around with little thought. We see the billboards with the lastest lottery numbers into the hundreds of millions. We also hear about the national debt being in the trillions.  Just how big are these numbers? And can anyone actually count that high?

There are many people who have become millionaires and billionaires so I guess we can count that high. But what about trillionaires? Not so far.

It’s hard to visualize numbers this big but maybe this will help. A million seconds is approximately 11 days. How about a billion? About 32 years. And a trillion? how about 32,000 years!

We can barely get our minds around numbers that size. I read that if we could spend $1,000,000 a day and we started when Jesus was born we would have spent a trillion dollars by now. Incredible.

But we can count that high. We can really know precisely how much a trillion is.  Even though a trillion seems like an astronomical number it is still a number we can identify.

I’m glad we can count that high because it makes something we find in scripture even more amazing.

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.”  Psalm 40:5 (ESV)

God’s thoughts toward us are too numerous to count. More than a billion, more than a trillion.  If He were to think a new thought toward us every second it would take Him 32,000 years to get to a trillion and He would only be getting started.

When you feel small and irrelevant just remember how many thoughts God has toward you. He is the God of the entire Universe. His greatness surpasses everything we can possibly know and…

He is thinking about you.

Balancing Your Faith








Easter 2012 146 smallI’ve always heard that faith is the opposite of doubt. But lately I’ve been thinking about it differently. Perhaps it’s because I struggle with a lack of confidence sometimes. I find myself wondering if I am really equipped to do the thing God has told me to do. Kind of like Gideon asking God, “Who, me?” over and over. That is clearly doubt, isn’t it?

At the other end of this faith spectrum, if you will, is what I see as pride. If I move away from doubt and find myself confident in what I’m doing then I immediately begin to worry that I will become prideful and take the credit myself for what is really God’s doing. So really, from where I sit, doubt and pride are at the opposite ends of the road with faith landing squarely in the middle. Right where it belongs.

God calls us to a balanced life. We need to trust Him and take Him at His word. If we constantly wonder if God has really called us and equipped us to do His work then we waste time that we could be using to accomplish what He’s asked of us. But we dare not become over confident and forget where our true strength and ability comes from.

 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6 (ESV)

 Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV)

I think the whole picture is really much simpler that it looks. If we are aware of our doubts we confess them to God and move on toward faith and if we find ourselves overstepping our faith, we again confess our weakness, humble ourselves and come back to faith. Right in the middle. I believe the Lord knows that we have this continuous struggle. I think He has put us in this place on purpose so we don’t ever fall off either end but we are constantly readjusting to stay right in the middle. Right where God can give us hope for the future as we walk with Him using the gifts He has given us to proclaim His goodness.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)