Thursday, April 23, 2009

First thing in the morning.

But our attitude really is so much more than just the way we treat others, it is more than just learning to control our anger. Our attitude will dictate just how we make it through the day. Think about as soon as you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing on your mind? Are you dreading the day, do you find that you just do not want to get out of bed? I will let you in on a little something. You know the first thing I think when I wake in the morning? Psalm 118: 24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Let us rejoice! And why should’nt we? Have we not woke up and found ourselves alive and breathing? The Lord has set another day at our doorsteps and we have to make a choice on how we are going to meet it. The only way worth your effort it to REJOICE!

Think that you do nto have anything to be happy about? Or that attitude really does nto make a difference Let me share one of my favorite stories with you.

Attitude is EverythingBy Francie Baltazar-Schwartz
Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"
He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."
"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.
"Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life."
I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.
Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"
I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.
"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked. Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man. " I knew I needed to take action."
"What did you do?" I asked.
"Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply.. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."
Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Tomorrow when you open your eyes, think one think before all others. Psalm 118: 24 and REJOICE! That attitude will follow you the rest of the day.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


What if I were to tell you that there is a specific way to live, would you believe me? What if I were to say that all of the bickering, backbiting, and angry arguments were at least half our fault? Would you raise an eyebrow, and scoff at the idea, would you be quick to offer up a rebuff of well they were asking for it, or they started it? What if I were to tell you that as soon as you take your fist conscious breath of the day you have already started to make choices that will not only effect your day, but the day of everyone around you? It all comes down to one little word that has a huge impact on our lives, and our spiritual health, that word is attitude.

What is your attitude? How do you face the day? When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing that races through your mind? How you answer these questions goes a long way in not just getting an idea of where your priorities lie, but it goes a long way in showing where you are spiritually. See the Lord told us what our attitude should be. He spelled it out clearly when he told us the two greatest laws. Love your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength, and the second is much like the first. Turn and love your brother (those in your community) as you love yourself. Love is the attitude that we must pursue, and make no mistake about it. Many might call love an emotion, but it is in fact an attitude. It takes work, it takes commitment, and it takes perseverance.

If we try to live the attitude of love then the arguments go away. I know you are thinking what??? How will that work? Well the easiest way to stop an argument is for one side to shut up. Think back to your last argument, what really came of it? Hot words, things said that were not meant, things taken out of context and skewed….the argument becomes more about winning than it is abut fixing anything. How is that love? God loves us, and He wants us to love each other the same, we cannot do that if we are always tearing each other down. It is not enough to just find an outlet for our angry actions, we must learn to master them and live out of love for one another. It reminds me of a young man who had a terrible temper.

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.

It is all about the attitude of love….how many nails have you driven into your fence?


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter Story

Easter is upon us. I wanted to share a story that was sent to me, and I plan to share this Sunday in Service. I have heard the Easter story told many different ways. I have heard it through the viwpoint of the disciples, I have heard it through the viewpoint of Barabbas, I have heard some try to tell it through the viewpoint of Christ…..This is a viewpoint I have not heard before, it is told by way of a Roman Soldier.

Do you hear it? What you ask? "Tetelestai" I can hear it even now. It beckons to me through the wind. I can tell you are looking at me strangely.
Let me go back and explain why this word is so pregnant with meaning for me. I had never seen anything remotely like that day. In my time spent with the Legion in Jerusalem; I had helped perform many executions, but this one was different. This day there were three young men condemned to die. The sentence proclaimed on each of them had been death by crucifixion. At the palace, we tied the large crossbeams of rough hewn wood across the backs of each of the condemned. Their arms were outstretched on the wood demonstrating to everyone throughout the city what was going to happen to them. We took "the parade route" through town. We wound down every street to warn the people that the Roman Empire was serious about crime. Everyone knew where we were headed. There was this hill called "The Skull" where we performed the executions. As we wound down the streets, the weight of the beams dug into their back.
Several splinters from the rough wood slivered deep into their skin. The first man hollered curses at the crowd. There was no remorse there, only bitterness. I can still hear his angry voice yelling at the top of his lungs. The bitterness came out with his words and hung around him condemning him yet further. He made no appeals for mercy. I guess he was holding onto the only thing he had left. His strength had been robbed from him in the prisons. I had to prod him with my sword several times to keep him moving.
The second man was almost the opposite of the first. In his tears, he cried out for mercy. He mentioned his child and tried to tell a heart-rending story to the crowd. But all they did was jeer back. I had to wonder about the wisdom of killing this repentant man. But mine was not to wonder, mine was to take orders.
As the third man came by, I heard the whispers and murmurs going through the crowd. I overheard that this was Jesus. I figured this must be the guy that had whipped the city into a frenzy and the reason why we were having this execution so quickly. He didn't look like the criminal he was supposed to be. Also on his head, there was a wreath of thorns. Each one had dug deeply into his flesh encircling his head with blood. His olive skin was hanging in strips on his back. He was so badly beaten that the pain had to be unbearable. I glanced at him and saw such a peaceful look in his eyes that I couldn't help but stare. This peace didn't make sense. Did he not realize that he was about to die one of the most gruesome deaths possible? Did he know that he would die from lack of air as he started to lack the strength to pull himself up by his nail pierced wrists and finally his lungs would fill with liquid? I was absorbed by this man, when he stumbled. The weight of the cross seamed to be unbearable for him. I grabbed one of the young men standing by and shouted at him, "CARRY HIS CROSS!" This man looked like he was going to hesitate, but as I went for my sword he lowered his head in submission. I strapped the cross to him and we continued to march.
After an eternity of marching, we approached the site of execution. The sound of a hammer hitting a nail echoed throughout the countryside as we connected the crossbeams to the posts. As we finished each one we would lift the post up and into the hole in the ground. As we slid the cross with Jesus on it into the ground, he asked for forgiveness for us. For us??
Why in the world did we need forgiving? Even more importantly, how come he didn't hate us like every other condemned man. Did he not realize that we were killing him? I wandered away with some of the other soldiers while we waited for the condemned to die.
About three hours later, the entire land went dark. This was an unusual dark. It wasn't like night. It was a stifling darkness. This day was getting weirder and weirder. I just wanted this execution to be over with so I could go my own way.
Then about three hours later, the darkness left and I heard Jesus scream out "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani" I wondered what he was screaming. I heard someone say that he was calling Elijah. But then I heard someone else correct them and say that what he was saying was Hebrew for "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" The cry was with such agony that I can still hear it in my ears. It was not merely a physical agony. It went much deeper. It was the agony of a heart breaking. I recognized that cry as one that I could never quite understand. Finally something that made sense from this man. I was used to seeing a sense of desperation from these men watching their life slip away.
I was thinking about this when he screamed out his final word, "Tetelestai"
It covered the countryside. It was long and drawn out and obviously painful for him to say. Roughly translated that means "It is finished." But that alone would make sense. Truly it was finished, after all he was dead after he uttered it. But "Tetelestai" means more than that. It means that it is utterly and totally complete and that nothing else could possibly be done to add to it. My curiosity could take it no longer.
I went up to the cross and asked a woman there who this Jesus was. She broke down in tears, and I couldn't understand her through her sobs. But the man with her explained to me a fanciful story of Jesus. He tried to tell me that Jesus was the Messiah. But I wouldn't listen. After all, if Jesus was truly the Son of God then we wouldn't have been able to kill him, right??
Before I left we went ahead and broke the legs of the two other criminals, but we didn't waste our time with Jesus. He was obviously dead. One of the other soldiers ran a sword through Jesus' side and blood and water flowed. I had heard of these "tears of the heart" before but I had never seen it. I left that site and tried to go about my day.
Well the next week as I was going around town, I stopped in my tracks as I saw this guy that was in the spitting image of Jesus. I figured it must be his brother or something. But as I stared I saw the nail marks still in his wrists. As I stood there staring, he called me to him. With a slight smile, he said, "I AM He" He had read my mind, I bowed down. He could read my heart as well. He raised my head and told me, "What I had completely finished was paying for your sins. Go and sin no more, for you are a new creation."
Now as I go everywhere, I hear "Tetelestai" It is God's way of reminding me that sin is no longer my master. After all, nothing else could have been done. I hear the word echoing in the breeze as the birds sing. It is a subtle sound even in the hubbub of the crowd. Whenever I stop listening with my ears, I can hear it again. "Tetelestai" Can you hear it? Listen closely. There it is. Yes, it is finished. Jesus could have done nothing more to reconcile you with God. That is the great news!! As you hear "Tetelestai", remember once again that you can be a new creation. The old will be wiped away! Shout it in praise to Him, "Tetelestai." And when someone asks you what you are saying, you can tell them about this man that died not only for me but for you and them as well. "Tetelestai!"

Happy Easter!
God Bless,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

first difference

While there are differences in all of the gospels, the one thing that is missing in Luke, but is included in all of the other Gospels is the Hosannas. Matthew, Mark, and John all have at least one reference that is much like the account in John: 13They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!"

While Hosanna is a word of adoration, literally translated it means save us. That being said one can see why the Hosanna was left out. In Luke the crowd that greeted Jesus were not described as simply a crowd, nor were they towns people, Luke called them “the whole crowd of disciples”. What stuck in Luke’s mind was that this crowd of people already knew that Jesus was the Christ…the anointed one. They did not need to shout save us, they were busy declaring to the world that Jesus was King.