“Fire” Safety

imageMany of us acquired basic fire safety skills during our grade school years. Obviously, the purpose of this teaching was to help empower our chances of survival if caught in a fire. Interestingly, many of these safety principals can be applied to protect our spiritual well-being as well. For example, we will no doubt find ourselves in “fiery” situations throughout life, and our response to them can dramatically impact their outcome as well as serve as powerful testimonies for Christ. Therefore, the Bible shares valuable lessons we can apply in promotion of these positives – as illustrated through another perspective to the safety phrase, “Stop, Drop & Roll”:

Stop: The first step we were taught in escaping an actual fire is to stop moving. Likewise, when life situations get “fired up”, one of our first responses should also be to stop and check our surroundings. For any rash movement may place us closer to the flame. For example, bruised egos can typically be blamed for many of our emotional flare-ups (Galatians 5:26). However, when we stop jumping to self-defenses and take time to listen to the other perspectives being expressed, we may begin to better understand their position – this supports empathy, which in turn helps lower our ego’s desire to defend. Even though we may not agree with the perspectives shared, this powerful insight can definitely help reduce angry flare-ups.

Drop: The next safety tip we learn as kids is to drop down low, where the air has less smoke. Again, this is the same in life, for we are always in a better position in our relationships when we remain humble, rather than high and mighty (Philippians 2:3-4). Many times, this may mean letting go and dropping those things that hinder peace, such as our pride, ego, greed and insecurities. Although often difficult to do, especially during heated situations, these emotional toxins only serve to contaminate the air of any environment we’re in.

Roll: The last fire safety lesson we receive as kids is to roll, or move away from the flames to a secure area. Spiritually speaking, we do this whenever we surrender to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and apply the wisdom of God’s word in our lives. We may not possess the discipline required to remove ourselves from a harmful, or tempered situation under our own willpower, but God does. Therefore, as we seek His help in prayer and rely on His promises, He will answer – then in faith, we roll (Psalm 34:13-14).

Application: “Intention Of Prevention” – Proverbs 18:13
Life is full of danger, but when we apply the word of God, seek His guidance and live out our faith with others, we wisely reduce the negative consequences that can result when left to our own emotional resources. In fact, one of the most powerful methods in resolving and preventing fiery situations in the first place is by simply using the gifts God has entrusted us to serve others. As we know, He has bestowed gifts to all believers and when we use them for the benefit of others and the expansion of His kingdom, rather than for our own, we open doors to new friendships, stronger relationships, reconciliation and opportunities to share our greatest gift of all – Jesus.

On The Abide Ride?

imageI used to fly on business across our beautiful country on a regular basis, and although I missed my family while away, I always enjoyed visiting new locations. During these trips, the various types of traveler could always be identified by either the fulfillment, fear, or frustrations being reflected on their face. As an example, there were passengers who always pushed and shoved to be the first onboard, while others sat waiting wringing their hands with worry. Then, there were those who remained calm and smiled graciously as they allowed the occasional passenger to board ahead of them. Once on the plane, some chose to quickly close their window blinds and never speak a word, while others would clinch their eyes and claw into their seat handles with fearful trembling. Then, there were those who used their time to enjoy the passing beauty below, framed by their window, and kindly share new interactions with those around them

Interestingly, life is much like air travel. For we are all heading to the same destination, but how we choose to spend our time during the journey greatly determines our personal experience and our impact on others. Thus, which traveller are we? Three abiding attributes can help us with this determination:

Contentment: Abiding nourishes contentment. Therefore, being content doesn’t mean we lack ambition, or are passive in our pursuits. Instead, it redirects our ambitions and pursuits so that they are no longer waisted on ourselves, but invested for Christ. We will never experience lasting contentment when we are striving to expand our own agendas. True contentment is accepting all our situations as opportunities to reflect, glorify and share Jesus in all we do – and then trusting Him with the outcomes (Colossians 3:17).

Choice: Abiding in Christ is a choice we make no matter our circumstances. For we can thank Him always – seek Him always – and trust Him always. Is there ever a time we can’t apply this cycle of praise? Just consider, when we trust Him regardless, peace results. When we seek Him in every situation, wisdom is given and when we thank Him no matter what, priorities are properly positioned. May we always seek to choose worship over worry (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Connection: Just like a rechargeable battery is worthless if not routinely connected to its charger, we too must be connected to our Creator in order to abide and accomplish all the plans He has for us. We can miss out on the opportunities He sends our way to live life more abundantly, if we fail in nurturing our relationship with Him. If Jesus, who is God in flesh, demonstrated the importance of maintaining fellowship with the Father, and much more might we require it (Luke 5:16)?

Application: “A Joyful Journey” – Habakkuk 3:18
Our relationship with Jesus greatly determines our outlook on life and its outcome. We can either hoard our blessings, or share them. We can either hinder others, or help them and we can either accept the gifts God has given, or reject them. By receiving Jesus as Lord, we not only receive eternal life, but are empowered to enjoy the life He has set before us. We may not always be happy, for feelings are fleeting, but in Christ, we don’t live by feelings, but abide in the grace He offers. For when we realize He is with us every step of the way, what need is there to worry?

Wasted Ways

imageHave you heard, or ever used the expression, “If I only knew then what I know now…?” These words are often used to articulate the regret we feel when we reflect upon the opportunities and gifts we’ve wasted out of ignorance, or even neglect. Thankfully, through Christ, He can restore and redeem the direction and impact of our life, and help us abandon our wasteful ways:

Boasting: Have you ever “put your foot in your mouth”? Typically, when we boast, or brag, it’s due to our insecurities and pride. We want to hide our flaws, but by boasting we often reveal them. Contrarily, when we are humble, we focus less on our abilities and more on allowing Christ to work through us. We are available, knowing we have weaknesses, but that through Him all things are possible and can be worked together for good. Therefore, we’re more inclined to seize opportunities and further their impact rather than squander them out of boastful pride (Colossians 4:5).

Bedlam: Disorder and chaos typically result when we allow ourselves to be distracted by envy and selfish ambition. These destructive behaviors are rooted in tendencies that cause us to seek self over God, and if they can be a primary cause to the fall of Satan, it’s not difficult to imagine the potent influence they can have in causing us to stumble and squander our gifts for God. Yet, if envy and covetousness creates chaos, then contentment helps create calm (Proverbs 14:30). For when our satisfaction is in Christ, all else loses its luster and fades in comparison to the life only He can offer.

Bitterness: A bitter attitude spreads like a disease throughout the person harboring it and eventually causes infractions upon those in close proximity. Sadly, even some Christians can allow the burdens of anger and bitterness to dilute their impact. For bitterness serves only to repel rather than reflect the hope and joy found in Christ. Therefore, there is no room for such negativity in the life of a believer. Otherwise, how can we fulfill our call to shine as stars and lead others to righteousness of God (Daniel 12:3)?

Application: “Abiding Over Striving” – Zechariah 4:6
Striving is much easier for most of us to do than abiding. For when we strive, we get to control how much effort is exerted in order to achieve our desired goals. However, when we abide, we must willingly abandon our objectives for God’s, which may often directly conflict with our own wants. Therefore, may we always seek opportunities to help others rather than hinder them, and pursue expressions of gratitude over grandstands. For in doing so, our wasted ways must be put aside, along with our reliance on self.

Fed Up?

imageHave you ever had one of those times when you just wanted to quit it all? I have – it’s when you feel drained, like you’re treading water and getting no where. Progress seems to be stalled and there appears to be little impact being made. You’re simply tired of all the people, places and problems you have to deal with and you’d rather throw in the towel and walk away from all the frustration. Be assured we all face these times, and thankfully, God’s word reveals how our peace and passion can be restored, even when our struggles in these areas remain unchanged:

People: People come messy. We all have irritations, but some folks seem to know the exact buttons to push to send us into emotional tailspins. It may be a neighbor, coworker, boss, family member, or even someone from church. Many times, we can’t avoid these people, but how we allow them to affect us isn’t really their fault, but our own (Luke 6:35). For if we isolate ourselves to only those who make us feel good, we dilute our impact in the world. Therefore, may we view every person as an opportunity to strengthen our reliance on God and reflect His grace over our grumblings.

Places: Whether we feel we’re in a dead end job, have no job at all, or find we’re in a very difficult situation, our perspective determines our peace. If God is in control, then He knows what we’re dealing with and has allowed it for a purpose. Sometimes poor decisions have placed us where we are, or there may appear to be no logical reason at all. So, do we simply give up and quit? If we do, we often find it only takes us from bad to worse. In addition, we lose out on the benefit of experiencing God at deeper levels. For when we seek His guidance and trust in His direction, He promises to lead us through any and every situation (Psalms 23:4).

Problems: No one prefers problems over peace. Yet, everyone has them, and there is no escaping them. However, as believers, problems are also great opportunities that allow us to serve as encouragers to others and mature in our faith. When we consider problems in this light, we are less likely to give up, stress out and cave in (Habakkuk 3:17-19). Therefore, may we persevere and never abandon our trust in Christ – for He promises to never leave, or forsake us. The question is – do we truly believe this? If so, there is no need to embrace the worry and the doubt.

Application: “Mission Possible” – Luke 18:27
Clearly, if we find ourselves in an abusive, or dangerous situation, we need to get out, but when it comes to everyday problems that threaten to steal our joy, there is hope in persevering. For what is impossible with man is possible with God. Sadly, many resort to drugs, alcohol and other worldly distractions in an effort to cope with the problems of life. However, we who know Christ, have and know the greatest power to overcome. So, when we’re feeling fed up, just remember not to give up, but look up.