Saturday, October 29, 2011

How to Be a Contagious Christian

I watched an interesting 20/20 special Friday night, “Billionaire Secrets: What They Know That Can Change Your Life.” One of the men that Barbara Walters interviewed was the founder of “Zappos” shoes, Tony Hseih.

Let’s just say that the way he runs his company is a little unconventional. His office looks like a party is going on, not a business. People are dressed in weird costumes. They have toy car races in the middle of the office, blow horns, wave pom-poms and well…enjoy working.

It is a stark contrast to the usual suit-and-tie, professionalism you see in most businesses. Yet he is obviously doing something right as his company is worth $1.2 billion. His business platform is built on this, “Great things will happen if you make employees happy.”

I couldn’t help but think how this can equate to the Christian life. Long before I became a Christian, if you had asked me what I thought being one was like, I would have likely answered, “Boring.” To me, Christianity was a list of dos and don’ts…however with many more don’ts than dos.

I’m so glad that I have come to see it otherwise. Being a Christian isn’t supposed to be drudgery. It isn’t even supposed to be about rules. That is Pharisee-like living. Strict, stringent, tight, whatever you want to call it.

I enjoy being a Christian and yes, I actually do have a lot of fun. The great thing is that I don’t have do it by paying a heavy price the next day (like I did in the old days).

Drawing others unto Christ will be better done if you make it fun. I’m not talking silly, crazy stuff. I am talking about laughter and enjoying life. Too many times believers forget how to laugh. They forget how to enjoy the life they have been blessed with. They are so wrapped up in trying to live by the book that they miss out on all the fun.

I can picture Jesus laughing and I imagine He did it often (wouldn’t you, dealing with those crazy disciples??!!). And I also imagine that it was contagious. If you want to be a contagious Christian, then you need to actually enjoy your life. Who wants what you have if it doesn’t bring any pleasure?

Photo by Crystl in Flickr

Friday, October 14, 2011

Is Your Soul Cluttered?

I don’t like living in a cluttered home. In fact, I have a reputation for getting rid of things…sometimes without the other person’s permission. While keeping an uncluttered home can alleviate stress, the same is true for our souls.

Do you have a cluttered soul? When I think of clutter, I think of those closed spaces that we hide things in. On the surface our home may appear to be neat. However, a few feet away there may be a closet that if you opened it, a number of items would spill out.

What has the potential to spill out of your soul? Anger? Jealousy? Greed? Discontentment? Hurt?

When I first came into a relationship with the Lord, my soul was so cluttered that you wouldn’t even be able to fit a finger inside. There was absolutely no room for nothing else, including Jesus.

But as soon as I made that decision to follow Him, items began to get immediately cleared out. However I had so much junk stocked up, that it was a process to get down to where I am.

Is my closet completely void of clutter? Not quite. I think to some degree we will always have clutter to deal with. After all, how else would we come to depend on the Lord’s help?

Think about the state of your soul and begin to ask the Lord to help you de-clutter. Get rid of the things that are holding you back from truly enjoying life and living it to the fullest.

Friday, October 7, 2011

God Will Fight the Battle

Many times throughout the Old Testament we are told to not be afraid. God knows the way fear can play on our emotions. He understands the powerful impact it can have.

One of the first times we hear God’s declaration to not be afraid is when the Israelites, after being in slavery for 430 years, are finally set free from the oppression of the Egyptians.

After God sends 10 plagues on the Egyptians, Pharaoh finally agrees to let the Israelites go. They have been given a death blow; all of their firstborns lose their lives. It is too much and now he can’t get them out of his sight quick enough.

The Israelites are celebrating as they finally break away from the chains of bondage and slavery. Life is looking good. But then…

Pharaoh changes his mind. What was he thinking, letting the people go? He decides to go after them and at the first sight of the Egyptians, panic sets in for the Israelites.

Think about how life can do this. We are sailing along, feeling pretty good about how things are going. But then we see something coming against us and our first instinct isn’t faith, it isn’t trust in God but it is a declaration that we would be better off back in the land of slavery.

What land of slavery have you come from? What has God delivered you out of? What have you been set free from? At the first sign of trouble, do you really want to go back?

For whatever reason the Israelites suddenly thought that they would have been better off as slaves. But Moses says, “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do His work of salvation for you today…” (Exodus 14:13, Message). He also goes on to say, “God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!” (Exodus 14:14, Message).

Sometimes all we need to do is stand firm, watch God take care of the problem, allow Him to fight the battle and then we just need to keep our mouths shut.

Photo by el7bara in Flickr

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Empty Spots in Your Life

Leaves have already begun to swirl around. It is always so hard for me to believe when a new season comes along. It seems I hardly had a chance to really the enjoy last one.

This is becoming truer as I get older and as my children get older. Just this morning I was updating pictures in these cool picture frames my stepmother bought a few years ago.

They are the kind where you put in a small picture starting with kindergarten and they go all around the frame until you finally reach the middle, where the senior picture goes. I have finally completed a frame. I could hardly believe that I put in the last school picture for my oldest son, now a senior.

I glanced over at my daughter’s frame, the glaring reminder that she only has three empty spots left. So it was almost a relief to then look at my youngest son’s frame and count five empty spots.

There are two ways I can look at this. I can mourn the fact that there are no empty spots on my oldest son’s picture frame or the fact that there is only three left on my daughter’s. I can focus just on that, the emptiness I see. OR…I can instead look at what has filled those spots. I can look at what God has done.

When I take the time to really look at each picture that has been filled…kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and so on…I see God’s hand. So it challenges me to consider where I am going to put my focus.

Are you focusing so much on what appears to be emptiness in your life? Perhaps it is emptiness you feel inside or a loved one you are missing, a relationship that seems impossible to mend, the loss of a job, no money…whatever your “empty spot” is, decide that instead of focusing on that, you are going to put your focus on the spots in your life that God has filled. Sometimes it’s really all about perspective.

Now I can take a step back and not feel sad that my son’s picture frame is complete. I can feel thankful that God has blessed us so much with his life and I can instead; look forward to what God is going to do in the future.

Keep your eyes on what God has already completed, and not on the empty spots in your life!