Monday, April 20, 2015

“God can open a door for anyone.”

A thought by John Ortberg, (2015-02-24) from his book. All the Places to Go . . . HowWill You Know?: God Has Placed before You an Open Door.  What Will You Do? (p. 7). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Here is the full thought by John, “What a gift to know that open doors are not reserved for the specially talented or the extraordinarily strong. God can open a door for anyone.”

And God writes through the Apostle John in Revelation 3:8 (NIV), “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.”

Now John in his book here quotes one of his college professors, Jerry Hawthorne, who says, “A door is one of the richest images in literature. It can mean safety (‘my door is chained and locked’) or hiddenness (‘no one knows what goes on behind closed doors’). It can mean rejection (‘she shut the door in my face’) or rest (young mothers’ favorite room is the bathroom, where they can close the door and be alone). But in this passage a door means none of those things. Rather, it is an open door, symbolic of boundless opportunities. Of unlimited chances to do something worthwhile; of grand openings into new and unknown adventures of significant living; of heretofore unimagined chances to do good, to make our lives count for eternity.”

And “God can open a door for anyone.”  What an awesome possibility for us all.

As John says, “An open door is the great adventure of life because it means the possibility of being useful to God.”  

Isn't that an exciting possibility for you and me?

Friday, April 17, 2015

“Love does not sustain itself naturally.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex andDating (p. 97). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Have you ever stopped to think about that?  Andy says, “What come naturally are passion, lust, chemistry, and that ‘can’t wait to get you alone’ feeling. But over time, all of that is eventually squashed by our unbridled, selfish, self-preserving natures.”

You see real love is un-natural. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  Andy says, “Do any of these traits come naturally? Granted, we know how to turn them all on when we’re winning and wooing. But love does not sustain itself naturally.”

He continues, “The brand of love Paul describes is a nonnegotiable for those desiring to sustain the chemistry and romance that make the early days of a relationship so exhilarating. Romance is sustained by patience, kindness, humility, and a short memory. While none of those things come naturally, every one of them is necessary. Otherwise our wounds, insecurities, and parental implants will become the driving forces and send the relationship in a bad direction. When that happens, good-bye, chemistry. Good-bye, romance. Hello, I guess I just haven’t met the right person. It’s that kind of thinking that creates the myth. It’s a myth to think that once you meet the right person, you will become a different person. The love of your life should bring out the best in you. But only you can prevent forest fires. Sorry. Only you can prevent your impatience, unkindness, pride, anger, and record keeping from undermining your relationship.”

So we are to do as Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

So are you ready to put away you adolescent view of love and start working at “becoming the person the person you’re looking for is looking for?”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

“By far the greatest single obstacle to success that I see in others is a poor understanding of people.”

A thought by John C. Maxwell (2000-03-08) from his book, Failing Forward: How to Makethe Most of Your Mistakes (p. 155). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Do you like people?  Do you get along with people?  Do you have problems with people?

Listen, people are very important and it is very important that you realize that.  If you don’t then you are going to have problems with living a fulfilling and successful life. 

John said, “I was talking to some people a couple of days ago, and they were complaining about not winning a business contract that they had bid on. ‘It wasn't fair,’ one person told me. ‘All the people involved knew each other, and we didn't have a chance. It's all politics.’ But what he went on to describe wasn't politics. It was relationships.”

He then said, “Authors Carole Hyatt and Linda Gottlieb indicate that people who fail on the job commonly cite ‘office politics’ as the reason for their failures, but the reality is that what they call politics is often nothing more than regular interaction with other people. Hyatt and Gottlieb assert, ‘Most careers involve other people. You can have great academic intelligence and still lack social intelligence— the ability to be a good listener, to be sensitive toward others, to give and take criticism well. If people don't like you, they may help you f a i l . . . On the other hand, you can get away with serious mistakes if you are socially intelligent... A mistake may actually further [your] career if the boss thinks [you] handled the situation in a mature and responsible way.’”

This is a great place to start in your maturing as a person.  Reuben Welch wrote a great book called, We Really Do Need Each Other, and we really do need to see that.

John says, “If you haven't learned how to get along with people…making people skills a strength will take you farther than any other skill you develop. People like to do business with people they like. Or to put it the way President Theodore Roosevelt did: ‘The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.’”

So how well do you get along with other people?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

“Rehearsing the past does nothing to alter or improve the future.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating (p. 91). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

What Andy is dealing with here is the last part of verse 5 in 1 Corinthians 13 (NLT) which says, “Love…keeps no record of being wronged.”  He talking about people who are record keepers and he is saying that love doesn’t do that.

Does your spouse do that?  Did you have a parent who did that?  Do you do that?  That isn’t love, that is a relationship killer and that is a power play.  It’s not love.

Andy says, “Love chooses not to keep dousing the present with the past. Besides, it doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t move the relationship forward. If one of your parents was a record keeper, I suspect you gravitated relationally toward your other parent, didn’t you? Whose influence were you most open to? The filer’s or the forgiver’s? Who did you feel closest to? The filer or the forgetter? Funny how that works. Nobody gravitates toward humiliation. The path to influence is paved by acceptance, not truth.”

He continues, “A person can be exactly right and end up exactly alone. Filers can always justify their truth telling, but eventually they will truth the life right out of their most valued relationships. You don’t want to be reminded of your failures. Your love interest doesn’t want to be reminded either. So stop with all that.”

Now he adds, “Do behavioral dots need to be connected? Do patterns need to be examined? Sure. By request only. By a counselor. By a friend over coffee. But not by a spouse or significant other. Filing doesn’t foster love. Forgiving and pretending to forget are your best bets for sustained romance. I say pretending because, well because, there are some things we won’t ever forget. But there’s no point in bringing them up.”

That is very good stuff.  In other words, don’t rehearse it, release it.  Let God have it, let Him work on it.

So what is it that you need to forgive and pretend to forget?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

“Love chooses to see the best and believe the best while choosing to overlook the rest.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex,and Dating (p. 94). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Andy is striving to show us in this section of his book, that we need to strive to embrace love as an action verb.  And he has taken us to the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible to show us God’s thoughts on love.  Now in verses 6 & 7 of this great chapter says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  What does love do?  “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  Not exactly our definition of love, even as Christ followers, is it? 

As Andy puts it, “Love does not delight in or get its kicks digging up dirt or catching someone doing wrong. Love isn’t looking for or expecting bad behavior. Love is hopeful… Love looks for and celebrates good behavior. Unlike the record keepers, love loves to catch people doing the right thing. Love goes so far as to look for excuses to credit others with right behavior.” 

Andy then says, “Love continues to hope and trust when circumstances argue otherwise. Love opts for the most generous explanation for the other person’s behavior. • ‘He’s late, but I’m sure he has a good explanation.’ • ‘She hasn’t called, but I’m sure there’s a good reason. • ‘He forgot, but he’s got so much going on and I’m so grateful for all he does.’ • ‘She’s not good with details. She’ll be devastated when she realizes she stood me up.’ When two people choose to consistently fill the inevitable performance gaps with trust, it creates a reinforcing current that drives the relationship in a healthy direction. Trust builds trust…Mutual trust is a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

In other words, love gives people the benefit of the doubt.

Will you strive to love like that?

Monday, April 13, 2015

“Was what happened truly a failure, or did I just fall short?”

A thought by John C. Maxwell (2000-03-08) from his book, Failing Forward: How to Makethe Most of Your Mistakes (p. 142). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

In my reading, I come upon so many good thoughts that it is hard to sometimes choose what to highlight.  This Monday morning was one of those times.  But this one is the first one that caught my attention.  Maybe this thought is for you.

John says, “You need to determine if what happened was really a failure. What you think is your fault may have been an attempt to fulfill unrealistic expectations. It doesn't matter whether you place them on yourself or someone else does; if a goal is unrealistic and you miss it, that is not a failure.”

We are so quick to want to play the blame game even if it is with ourselves.  Now it is important to learn from our mistakes but a realistic evaluation is very important.  And many times unrealistic expectations can be the problem.  In other words too high expectations can bring about frustrations.

Then John says, “To give you a better perspective on this, let me tell you a story that President Reagan told before he left office. It's about Three Musketeers author Alexandre Dumas. The novelist and a friend had a heated argument, and one challenged the other to a duel. Both Dumas and his friend were expert marksmen, and they feared that if they proceeded with the duel, both would die. So they decided to draw straws to determine which of them would shoot himself. Dumas picked the short straw. With a sigh, he picked up his pistol, walked into the library, and closed the door, leaving behind him a group of worried friends. After a few moments, the loud report of a pistol shot echoed from the library. His friends immediately charged into the room, and there stood Dumas with the pistol still smoking in his hand. ‘An amazing thing just happened,’ said Dumas. ‘I missed.’”

I like what John then says, “As you examine your problems, try to be like Dumas: Don't allow an unrealistic expectation to kill you.”

I needed this thought too many times on Monday after a Sunday when things weren’t up to my too high expectations where I was feeling like a failure as a Pastor.  Maybe that is where you are today.  Maybe you need to realize that you aren’t a failure.  Maybe you need to lower your expectations a little bit.

So how are you doing today?

Friday, April 10, 2015

“Unkindness kills romance. Instantly.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2015-01-06) from his book, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating  (p. 80). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

I know that this is a thought that we all agree with don’t we?  Now if they are kind that sparks something within you.  This is one area that we see what it means to embrace love as a verb.  I Corinthians 13:4 in the Bible says, “Love is kind.”

Andy says, “To be kind is to leverage one’s strength on behalf of another. When we’re kind, we put our strength, abilities, and resources on loan to someone who lacks them.  When you’re kind, you put you at someone’s disposal. Kindness is powerful. Kindness is a decision. It’s the decision to do for others what they cannot in that moment do for themselves. Kindness, in its purest form, is unconditional. It’s not a means to a personal end. The goal of kindness is to benefit the person to whom it’s extended. Kindness is love’s response to weakness. Kindness is perhaps the most important component in a romantic relationship.”

He then says, “Pay close attention to how a potential future partner responds to those he or she perceives as weak. Eventually he or she will perceive a weakness in you. You will expect that potential partner to lean in and loan you some strength. But that will only happen if said person has developed the habit of opting for kindness in the face of weakness. And while I’m delving into your personal life, unkindness doesn’t dissipate with the introduction of sex or a ring. In fact, odds are good, it will escalate. People who use kindness as a means to an end are often mean in the end.”

Start today at being kind.  Make it a part of how you treat people.  Remember, if you want to stay in love, then embrace love as a verb and love is kind.  Kindness is not a weakness, kindness is love in action.

So how kind are you?