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“Happiness comes when what happens is favorable to us.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2012-01-03) from his book, I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth,and Life of Following Jesus (p. 114). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)
But what if it becomes unfavorable to us?  Leonard goes on to say, “When circumstances at the surface of our lives are unfavorable, happiness leaves. It has a brief shelf life; it comes and goes rapidly. Joy is far different. It doesn’t fluctuate according to its surface surroundings. In fact, it can actually flourish in the midst of pain and suffering.”
But we strive for happiness when it is joy that we really need.  Leonard says, “Our culture, it seems, is convinced that happiness can be purchased. Materialism, consumerism, and individualism have blended to form a hollow chocolate bunny within the American dream. Overpromising and underdelivering, the individual pursuit of happiness has catapulted the US to number one status as the most depressed and medicated nation in the…

“Jesus wasn’t looking for leaders at all. Jesus was looking for followers.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2012-01-03) from his book,I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus (p. 20). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.(Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

I have been challenged by Leonard Sweet back to his first books on the church.He brings things into focus and this thought does it for me again.
He shares, “Leadership is a functional position of power and authority. Followership is a relational posture of love and trust.”And somehow it is imperative in our walk with Him to see that He is the leader and we are the follower.The disciples show us how that worked.They were chosen by Him just as we are and they accepted His call as we should and they walked and watched and followed Him wherever He went.And that could be where our problem starts.
I mean they saw Him in person.They could talk to Him, ask Him questions, watch Him but now we say that we don’t have that ability so we look to be or look for others to be that physical pres…

“The church has too often been a ‘No’ place filled with ‘No’ people. But to truly follow Jesus is to rattle off ‘Yes,’ not ‘No.’”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work(p. 221). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
I have said that when it comes to my three granddaughters that anything they ask for the answer is “Yes”.And then I say that it is the best way to get back at my kids but the truth is I do all I can to say “Yes” to them too.I love them and I want to give, give, give and God is the same way.He wants to give live, He wants to give joy, He wants to give forgiveness.He also wants to say, “Yes.”
You probably heard yesterday the part in the Easter Story where Mary Magdalene after she had come out of the empty tomb saw this man and she thought he was a gardener when in fact it was Jesus.The key is John the writer of this was going back to the fact that Jesus had created us in a Garden.That He is a Gardener.He created us in a Garden and it was for our enjoyment.It was sin that brought the no in not God.
As Leonard says it,…

“Prayer for Jesus is not about techniques, but trust.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 186). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
I know that people who don’t know me but who see me out walking the streets everyday think I am a homeless schizophrenic. Now I am neither but I do walk a lot and I do talk to someone while I am walking.I do a lot of praying while I walk.I had two occasions today when I was praying out loud and someone passed me.They didn’t look back but they did seem to walk a little faster.
Now that may not be the best technique but it works for me. I love walking and talking to my friend, Jesus.I found it very meaningful today.While I was walking and praying the first time I worked through an attitude I was having toward someone who was very hurtful and critical of my Pastor.God helped me through that time and gave me the assurance that He would encourage my Pastor and his family during this situation.I find conversing with Go…

“Some things need to die in our lives.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 175). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
As I was walking back home after doing some reading at the local Peet’s Coffee I was thinking about some of the things that worry me here at 66 going on 67.They are things that haven’t really bothered me but they do now with my getting older.And I was wondering what it was in my past that is causing me to be bothered about not having enough money to live on after Margaret retires too.I never have been concerned about money but now I am.Why?
Of course some would say that I need to be concerned.I understand that but why is my faith lacking now when I have always lived my life with faith that God would take care and He always has?And the thought went back to those weeks when we were really close financially and we had to be very careful and remembering how I felt trapped in those times.I was very anxious and I was h…

“Anything good in life puts risk into play.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work(Kindle Locations 2219-2220). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
But we want security and safety.No way do we want risk.
Our son, Brett’s 35th bd was this week and he was a very good thing in our life.But he was a risk.I spent time with my oldest granddaughter, Ashlyn, yesterday.Of course she is a very good thing along with Addison and Harper but they each one were a risk and they still are. But oh how they were worth the risk.The truth is you wouldn’t even be here if your parents wouldn’t have taken a risk.
“In fact”, Leonard says, “recent scientific studies have concluded that humans and organizations endure and mature, not in spite of their willingness to take risks, but because of their risk taking.For safety’s sake and security needs, we want to make the next moment like the one before it. Hence, the power of the status quo, the challenge of change, and …

“Each one of us is a ‘fifth Gospel.’”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 160). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition
What a great thought to start a new week.
Leonard continues, “There are the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John . . . and you. We each continue the Jesus story on the pages of our own lives as the gospel becomes ‘my gospel’ and then ‘our gospel’ until it finally becomes a special edition ‘fifth Gospel,’ even perhaps a ‘third Testament’—the gospel translated into our lives and written between the lines on the pages of Scripture.”
You see, His Gospel is to be lived out through me and you.We are Jesus to the people around us.That is why many in this world have such a negative picture of Christ.That is how we live.He said that He didn’t come into this world to condemn the world but we do condemn so what He says to those we condemn cannot be heard.It is not His words they hear but how they are lived out through us that…

“The nature of sin is not the violation of a moral code, but the tearing of a relationship.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book,The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 158). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
We are living in a world where the self-centered actions of one can bring so much pain on another.What about the pain of a child when they are told that momma and daddy are breaking up?Many of you remember and still feel that pain.
I am discussing on my other blog, Bill’s Front Porchhow to prevent an affair.That self-centered act for sure can tear out the heart of a relationship whether it is a mate, a child, a parent and even God.We each one have the freedom to bring great pain upon another don’t we?But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I like how Leonard takes the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and shows it to be a Game of Life.He says, “In the traditional RPS game, each gesture has a meaning, a function, and a consequence. Scissors cuts Paper; Paper covers Rock; and Rock breaks Scissors. Sin is our Scissors. Ou…

“Adults who leave their childlikeness behind don’t get real, they get real old

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 145). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
We as we get older make life so difficult, don’t we?But that is not God’s plan.
Think about God’s creation.Did He create the beauty around us for children or for all of us to enjoy?Did He create your family so you would work, work, work, or to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy? I love doing stuff with and for my family.Here is that word again, it’s all in our perspective.
I was thinking about when I was a young boy and of how we would play that we were working.When does that need to stop.Why can’t we enjoy our work again like when we were kids? But it seems that our task as adults is to take the joy out of life. I mean we send our kids off to school not to enjoy the priviledge of learning but the task of succeeding.You must realize your full potential instead of the joy of stretching, creating and grasping new potential within …

“There are lots of good reasons to start up a business or to enter a profession or to take a job.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 140). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
And those reasons say if it is a time in your life to endure or enjoy.
Leonard says, “Making money isn’t one of them. Doing something that brings us pleasure is the best of them. Doing something that serves humanity in the service of God is unbeatable. Godplayers don’t open up a coffee shop to get rich. They open up a coffee shop because it’s fun and serves the common good by providing a ‘third space’ commons.”
It all revolves around the reason why you do what you do.
He goes on to say, “A work mind-set creates Macy’s inch-thick rulebook. A play mind-set creates Nordstrom’s two-sentence strange attractor: (1) Use good judgment in all situations; (2) there are no additional rules.”
So many people work to make money so they can retire.I read an article the other day that said that retiring too early is one of the reas…

“There is no better way to soothe a child’s cries than with a lullaby.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 129). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
A couple of weekends back, my wife, Margaret and I were in Florida celebrating my mom’s 90th birthday.It was such a very special time with our family and extended family.I will remember the varied meaningful conversations that I had with all of the family members.
Our last night there Connie, my sister and Margaret and I had one of those very meaningful times with my mom.At one point we were thinking of the significant times every night that Connie and I had with Mom.Before we went to sleep we would pray together and then we would sing the lullaby, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” and Connie and I sang that together there in Clermont, Florida for the first time in over 45 years.That was a very, very meaningful time that even now brings deep emotion to me.
Leonard says, “Many of our most beloved nursery rhymes are p…

“The definition of righteous humans: those who get up when they fall, not those who never fall.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 125). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.

How do you handle it when you fall?I think it depends upon our maturity.
Have you ever been with a child and they fall and they look up at you and say, “Why did you let me fall?” and they say it with a bit of anger.Kind of like when we fail at something and we look to heave with some anger and say to God, “Why did you let me fail?”But the mature Christian understands that it’s our fault and we stop and learn the lesson or ask for forgiveness.That’s where pride falls by the wayside and true humility comes in.
Playing the blame game is a horrible way to live.Accepting our need for help from others and from God is the right way to live.
Let’s understand that we are not perfect and we will blow it.So when you do, just get up, dust yourself off, ask for forgiveness to other, to God and maybe even to yourself, and then g…

“We are witnessing an alarming decline in mental and physical health among our children, and we wonder why.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work(p. 115). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
I think that is a good thing to wonder about.Our kids today live with so much pressure to excel and it deadens their enjoyment to really live.And I think that carries over into being adults.
We live in a world where we strive to not only be good but to be great.Like being good is a problem.But God said each time that He created something that it was good and even when He created man He said it was very good.
Now I love life.I strive to not be pressured by it.I also strive to make a difference but to also enjoy it.Six days a week I wear an LA Dodgers’ hat.I love the Dodgers.I really enjoy baseball and I don’t feel guilty doing that.Seven days a week I wear a Mickey Mouse watch.I love and enjoy Disneyland.I also wear 24 hours a day a wedding ring.I really enjoy my wife and my family. But I also write two blogs and I l…

“God didn’t give us a plan, but a purpose; not a map, but a mission; not a blueprint for tracing, but a blue sky for exploring.”

A thought from Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book,The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work(p. 86). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
We are constantly looking for that four step plan.Oh I know I have used the four or three steps but life is more than a recipe, it is an adventure.We miss out on so much of life when we look for a plan.
Leonard goes on to say, “God did not create us to live out a ‘life plan’ or a ‘master plan.’ There is no one plan with definite specifics. God has made us with special gifts and blessings, with the expectation that we enjoy using them in God’s mission in the world, the ‘reign of God.’ Or as Augustine put it in such memorable form, ‘Love God, and do what you will.’”
Now the adventure starts with having a relationship with God through His Spirit in us.We are His creation and in that we explore and live out His purpose and His mission.Look at who He created you to be then go live the adventure that is opened up to yo…

“To trust God in order to get something is not faith, but self-interest.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work(p. 43). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
I find that to be a lot of people’s belief.They are trusting God in order to have good health.They are trusting God in order to get good grades.They are trusting God in order to not pay taxes or to not have to get health insurance or whatever self-interest they may have.But is that really what it means to trust God?
Leonard says, “Faith is trusting God because of who God is - trusting God when there is nothing to get, when everything is gone, when only God is left.”
Solomon wrote in his book of Proverbs that we are to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 [TNIV]).Trusting in God mean to submit to Him.
I have been in Florida this past weekend and I told a friend of mine this morning that I lo…

"A fly is a perfect example of the status quo."

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work(p. 52). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
I never thought about that.  He then says, “Young or old, a fly doesn’t change, and it remains the same size throughout its adult life. Even after death, it does not rapidly decompose.”
There are people who just fly around telling you to not make waves, don’t take risks, just accept things the way they are.Don’t change, don’t grow just accept.
He goes on to say, “Too many followers of Jesus are living a ‘fly gospel’ that produces nice people rather than saints; that stands for convention rather than adventure; that is respectable rather than passionate; that calls for guarded, take-care living rather than heroic, take-risks living; that is more at home with the status quo than with living on the fly.”
What would have happened if the Apostle Paul was like that or Peter or John?Where would we be if the early church wen…

"God has placed us on earth not to judge us, but to enjoy us."

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 3). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
I have done that this week and will do it this weekend.I have spent the last two afternoons with our middle granddaughter, Addison and I really enjoyed our time together. Tonight our daughter, Stef, her husband, Andrew and Harper, our youngest granddaughter will be coming to spend the weekend with her Papa and Gigi.It is going to be great to have us all together.I am looking forward to the fun that we are going to have, just being together.
Now here is the point, if I enjoy my kids and grandkids so much, how much does my heavenly Father really enjoy me?He takes great pleasure in me.That is why He created me.But we live so much with this fear of being a disappointment.And I’m sure that a lot of kids live with the fear of being a disappointment to their parents.And the truth is, so many parents h disappointed.But not…

“Some studies have shown that human creativity doesn’t plateau until age eighty-three.”

A thought by Leonard Sweet (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work(p. 33). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
He then said, “Other surveys indicate that happiness peaks at eighty-five—in other words, you get happier and happier the older you get.”
But somehow we believe that a useful life ends at 65.When we retire it means that we are to just wait out our end.But Leonard also said, that “when Jesus was the equivalent of our 'retirement age',  he set out on a journey to save the world.”
He states that today “Fifty percent of all baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1972) will live healthy lives beyond one hundred.”“This dramatic expansion of life span has been relatively recent. Whereas in the 1890s, the average life expectancy for a male was thirty-seven, by the 1990s it had doubled, and now it’s even higher, into the mid-eighties.”
We need to change our perspective about age and effectiveness.Just because we hav…

"When a soul lives off the faded splendors of the past, it is sinking into itself and not rising to God’s occasions."

A thought by Leonard Sweet, (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work(p. 29). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
I have been spending some time in searching out this matter of living and making a difference at this point in my life.During this time, my wife, Margaret and I have had some interesting conversations.And during this time I found this book by Leonard Sweet.It has been a God find.
There is a danger in looking at one’s life from the perspective of being at the end of one’s true effectiveness or living off the faded splendors of the past but Leonard gave this thought about rising to God’s occasions. He said, “Have you considered the possibilities? Has the church? The question now at age sixty is not, ‘Where should I start on my bucket list?’ or, ‘How do I best set things in order?’ or, ‘Where do I rock?’ but, ‘What should I do with the best years of my life?’ ‘How can my life be pleasing to God during this Third Age?…

"True greatness is the refusal to recognize anyone as an enemy, only as a fellow hurting human being."

A thought by Leonard Sweet (2014-02-21) from his book, The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work (p. 13). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
He says right before this that “Every person we meet is a hurting human being. We don’t all hurt in the same places, but we all hurt. Find the hurt and mainline the soul with blessing.”
I believe that is so important to realize.Somehow we seemed to be so focused on our self and believe that the world revolves around us.And because of that we can take things so personal and so our feelings can be hurt so easily.But the truth is they are so focused on their hurts that they don’t feel they can notice anyone else’s hurts.
The key is to give people the benefit of doubt and not take it personal.To strive to reach out to give them a blessing by showing them they are not alone.What would happen if each one of us would do that?It would change you and it would change your world.
Leonard also says, “To be blessed is to kneel in…