Monday, November 23, 2015

Developing an Attitude of Grattitude

I haven't always been a thankful and positive person. I grew up in a home with a perfectionist father and highly critical mother. Both followed Christ, but as you might expect, these faults (we all have them) shaped me. It took marriage and a husband who pointed out my negative attitude to make me realize I needed to change my outlook.

I know people who, no matter what good has happened in their lives, only see the bad stuff. They want to pull you down into their mud puddle and make you wallow in their misery with them. Though I pray for them, I try to limit my exposure to them because they are life suckers and not life givers.

What a difference a good attitude makes. Even when bad things happen, if we try to be thankful for what we do have, it can completely change our trajectory. This may sound cheesy, but some days I make myself give thanks as I take my daily walks. Even when it seems like everything is going wrong, I am surprised that I can find good things to show grattitude to God about.

With Thanksgiving only a few days away I felt it appropriate to focus on thankfulness and having a positive attitude. The apostle Paul wrote "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”(Colossians 3:17, NKJV.)

When we work for an audience of one, God, it can make suc a difference in out outlook. Here are a few things I am thankful for. 

For basic liberties that many in other countries don't have:  freedom of speech to express my opion without being censured for it,  the option to run and mange my own business, to go to a church of my choice where I can worship God and participate in discussions without fear

For health. I know so many people who struggle physically. I no longer take this for granted.

For family. A husband, children, and silblings who love me 

For an abundance of food. Even when money is tight, we always have a choice of what we want to eat.

For God's love and continued guidance.  He is a force field in my life. Though I don't always see his presence or feel it, I know he is there and loves me greatly.

What are you thankful for? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, November 16, 2015

When Living by Our Own Moral Compass Snuffs Out the Light

In my last post I talked about people who didn't necessarily claim to follow Christ but who exemplified Christ-like behaviour.  When we live like Christ, light shines out of us into a dark world. When we do our own thing without regard for others, we make the world a darker place.

Below are some real life examples that have astounded me regarding how darkness creeps into the world. 

One of the galleries where I exhbit my artwork experienced a rift with a new member. Miscommunication between the new member and several others, plus the inability of the newcomer to follow the guidelines of the gallery caused the newest member to leave in a  huff. This person took a private battle and anger public. She posted a rant on the gallery's Facebook page, saying every negative and hateful thing she could think of in order to get back at the people she felt had wronged her. I am sure those who operate the gallery didn't intend to upset this person. What the former member did in response was so self-seeking and hostile I couldn't believe an adult could act this way. 

In another example, I recently met a woman who told me a story that again exhibited people using their own moral compass by which to operate. The event occured several years back when this woman lived and worked in New York city as a waitress while putting herself through school. A well-to-do family had come in for dinner along with their rambumtious children. They were very demanding and the children were out of control. All through the dinner the waitress ran herself ragged trying to meet their requests. 

At the end of the meal when she presented the bill to them, the mother paid with a credit card and signed the receipt with a sterling silver Tiffany's pen. The tip was for $2.00 and the family left without thanking their waitress who was extremely ticked off. The woman who paid accidentally left her expensive pen behind. 

As the waistress finished up, she spotted the pen and confiscated it. A short while later the woman who had signed the check came back and asked the waitress if she had found the pen. "No, sorry," she responded. "I haven't found any such thing." And that was that.

Last week I was a victim of identity theft. Someone attempted to charge $630 on my Discover Card but fortunately I, and the store at which it was charged, caught it in time. This is the second time I was nearly robbed via credit card. The first time the person scammed me using a stolen card to the tune of $1,000.

Last week Paris was rocked by multiple acts of terrorism. I could reference countless more scenarios but you live in the same world and already know what I do. 

Above are both minor and major scenarios which exemplify people doing dark things and doing what they want in order to achieve their own goals. They act according to what seems right in their own eyes in order to achieve a purpose. When we live this way, we do not shine any kind of light on the world, Instead, we make the world a darker place. 

I can't help but think of the passage that says, "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. " Judges 17:6. Which refers to the Jews living according to how they saw fit prior to having kings.  When we don't let Jesus and his teaching rule over our lives, we have no moral compass. Instead, we do what seems right in oiur own eyes. If anything, the world needs the light of Christ-like living to shine bright in a dark world.  Without it, there is little hope.

Monday, November 9, 2015

When Pagans Act More Christian Than Christians

Having been raised in the Southern Baptist Church I absorbed teachings that placed God's elite, those who have been "found," as being more godly and Christ-like than those who don't necessarily claim to be Christian.

The older I get, the more I realize that those who claim to follow Christ sometimes are less like him in how they act or think than other people I encounter who do not make any outward profession of following Christ. 

Though this isn't always the case, I'll talk about secular people being the opposite of Christ and beiing counter to the light in my next post. It does happen, which makes me reconsider my past beliefs.

C. S. Lewis in his book The Last Battle, one of the tales of Narnia, touches on this. It has been a long time since reading the book so I cannot reference the characters or exact example, but his writing indicates we might be surprised as to who enters the kingdom of heaven when all is said and done. They may not outwardly make a loud profession of following Christ but may be more Christ-like in their behavior and principles than others who are sure they have a ticket into the kingdom.

Gandhi, who studied Christ and the Bible and modeled Christ-like attributes as he took on the cause of the poor and devalued in his navtive India, was of the Hindu faith, yet he admired Christ. He said, "The message of Jesus as I understand it," said Gandhi, "is contained in the Sermon on the Mount unadulterated and taken as a whole.. If then I had to face only the Sermon on the Mount and my own interpretation of it, I should not hesitate to say, 'Oh, yes, I am a Christian.' But negatively I can tell you that in my humble opinion, what passes as Christianity is a negation of the Sermon on the Mount... I am speaking of the Christian belief, of Christianity as it is understood in the west."  (1

Gandhi hesitated in calling himself a Christian because of all the bad examples exhibited by people who claimed to follow Christ.

The following examples may be minor to you but they are indicators of people's "heart" conditions to me. Here's what I have seen:

  • Secular people going the extra mile to care for poor and hungry people. On the other hand church people getting riled because they don't want to suspened their weekly Bible study for a night to participate in a group charitable act outside church walls.
  • At a craft show a young girl with her mother gave me her lovely filigree locket which she had in her pocket. She lost the chain and thought I could sell the locket for myself and make a little income. (At the same show I enjoyed putting it out on my table with a new cord. When she passed by the next time, I gave it to her, much to her delight.) 
  • At this same craft show, without my asking, people pitched in and helped raise my canopy. One man was from a group that promoted the memory of the Confederacy which I struggle with as being counter to Christ's teaching due to the history of slavery.
These are a few I can recall though I know there have been many others.

Jeus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."  (Matt 7:21)

My point in all this is that no matter what label we put on ourselves as being Christian or not claiming to follow Christ, it is our heart and actions that reveal where we truly stand.

Have you experienced moments of seeing Christ in other people outside the church walls? Share your examples below.