Category Archives: ATTITUDE

PRAYING FOR OTHER PEOPLE.042518

Latin Teenager Praying

My relationship, my spiritual relationship, with God is based on the six great themes of the Bible: love, humility, gratitude, trust, obedience and service; all of which are founded on the underlying concept of surrender.  All the themes, one way or another, are brought to life, they’re empowered by surrender, to God and to other people.  In a supernatural way, this is the attitude of Jesus that flows through us when we surrender to Him.

When I pray, I usually begin by ‘praying through the themes’ one at a time, as they relate to me and my relationship with God.  Every time, I see something new about how I should love God; humble myself before Him; be thankful for all the ways He blesses me; renew my trust in Him as it relates to all my other relationships, my cares and my troubles; confess my failures in obedience and renew my commitment to do His will and not mine, to have His attitude and not mine; and as my act of service, to deny myself, die to myself, and follow (surrender to) Him; so He can use me for His purposes in this world today.

So I was praying for my son today, my youngest son Ian, who is a freshman in college and is going through some major, life-changing events and decisions that will affect him for the rest of his life.  It is a challenging time, but a truly exhilarating time, to be alive in his world.  He has asked me to pray for him, which I am always happy to do.  I do pray for him every day anyway.  Today, I started a new practice, of praying for Ian the way I pray for myself.  It opens all kinds of new doors for me to think about in praying for him; not just about what he should do or not do; but also about all his relationships, with God and with others, that I can meditate on and consider how God is moving and working in Ian’s life and the lives of those around him. (They may need a little prayer too!)

There’s a limited amount of time to ‘really’ pray (like this) for all the people that are close to me; so I think I’ll need to spend more of my ‘unstructured’ time (formerly known as leisure time, ha!), when I’m driving down the road, or waiting in the doctor’s office, or waiting for an appointment, praying in this way for others.  God only knows what the results might be, for them and for me.

 

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FORGIVENESS (ADVENTURES IN JESUS).042218

hands of a prisoner behind barsI spent last weekend in prison.  I was a member of a team from the Jubilee Prison Ministry, that goes in to prisons for three days to talk to the inmates about Jesus and what it means to be a Christian.  While I was there, I gave a talk on forgiveness: In the middle of the talk I gave a personal testimony from life as it relates to forgiveness.  My testimony went like this:

When I was a young man, about 20, I met my future wife and I asked her to marry me.  She said, ‘Yes!’  Neither one of us had any money, but we had love, so it was OK.  Pretty quick we had two sons, and then one daughter.  My wife and I grew up together while raising our kids.  Finally, I got a better job.  I was making $125.00 per day.  We thought we’d died and gone to heaven.  Oh, I had to spend a lot of time working away from home; three weeks away and then one weekend at home.  There was a lot of stress, but we both thought it was worth the sacrifice.  This sort of work went on, for 6 or 7 years, over and over, till one day, when we’d been married about 10 years, I found out my wife was having an affair with another man.  At the time our kids were 10, 9 and 3.  At the time I thought it was all her fault, but I’d forgive her and forget about it, if she’d just come back.  Well, eventually she came back, after a long separation.  But you know what’s crazy?  Throughout that hard time in our lives, I never even considered all the way I contributed to that event.  Like never being home when my wife needed help.  Or when she wasn’t feeling good, or the kids were sick, and she had to deal with it all by herself. Probably the worst is that after she got the kids down, when she finally went to bed, she was all alone.  She needed someone to love her, to hold her; to be with her.  Here I am 30 or 40 years later, and I’m just now realizing all the ways I failed to love, honor and cherish my wife; all the ways I wronged her; all the ways I harmed her.  I’m a sinner and I desperately need forgiveness. Continue reading

Whad-a-ya-mean Love?072216

TROOPS ON PARADE.072216“Be ye kind one to the other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another …” Eph 4:28-32

When my two oldest sons, Sam and Andy, were in high school, they went to military school in New Mexico. Secretly, they said they wanted to go to military school because there was less discipline there than there was at home. I don’t know. Maybe. All in all, I think they learned a lot there, both in education and in life experiences. Not all good, but certainly some was. They made good grades; they excelled in the military training; and they responded well to the military discipline (probably learned that at home?). ‘Course they weren’t perfect angels, but who is? Both of them got in some trouble from time to time, partly because they were a little resistant to authority. Can’t imagine where they got that. As a matter of fact, both of them got kicked out for various reasons, but both of them got back in and graduated.

This little story is about Sam. One day, for some unknown reason, he decided he’d stick the fire hose in the window of the Tactical Officer’s office (Tach Office) and fill it up with water while the Tach Officer was away doing his rounds one night. When he came back, the tach office was about 2½ feet deep in water (up to the bottom of the windows), and when he opened the door, the water knocked him down flowing out the door. He was a little hot.

Because there is a “secret code of honor,” nobody squealed on Sam for several hours. Finally, the officers devised a way to put enough pressure on everybody that someone finally gave in and told them who did it. That was maybe 10:00–11:00 in the morning. Shortly after that, the Officer of the Day called me on the phone in our hometown, maybe 6 hours away. His first words were, “Come and get the sumbitch; we don’t want him around here.” After that, he gave me a short version of what happened and then told me that Sam and all his belongings would be waiting for me out on the curb, whenever I was able to get there. He knew how far I was away, and he didn’t care. Then I said, “I want to talk to Sam.” The guy said, “He doesn’t want to talk to you.” But he put him on. Continue reading

CATS ‘N’ DOGS.071016

American staffordshire terrier dog playing with little kitten

I’ve had people tell me that I oversimplify things, that I try to reduce everything to the most elemental level possible.  They’re right.  I actually LIKE to do that; to find ways that simple things CAN explain, do explain, complicated matters.  Here’s one for you: “Some people are like cats and some are like dogs.”  I’m sure you’ve heard of this idea before.  It’s not new, just true.

Take cats.  They’re an independent lot.  Fascinating.  On a good day they’ll purr and rub up against you, even crawl up in your lap and let you pet them as long as they want.  They’re soft and cuddly.  Often they’re very expressive.  They have any number of different “meows” to tell you what they want or need.  But don’t get crossways with them.  They may not talk to you or get close to you for a week.  And when you try to get them to do something they don’t want to do, forget it.  If you’re wondering who is the master and who is the pet, you obviously haven’t been around cats much.  Oh and have you noticed the disdain they have for dogs?  You’ve probably seen an 80 lb dog back down from a 10 lb cat.  And what about quick response to direction?  Even when they’re accustomed to doing something you want them to, they have to take time for a little grooming.  Their timing, their rules, their game, their way.

On the other hand, take dogs.  Some little, some big.  Almost all are just DRIVEN by this desire to please their master.  They may have been in the crate for hours, but when you come home and let them out, they try to lick you to death.  They’re wagging their tails so hard they can hardly stand up.  They run in circles to entertain you and let you know how much they missed you.  If you let them, they’ll follow you wherever you go, wind, snow, sleet, rain, or dead of night.  And they’re really protective of the master and his or her clan.  Again, little or big, old or young; if anyone attacks, they are ready, willing and often able to defend.  Even when the master is old or broke or really cranky, even when he beats his dog for something he didn’t do, the dog is there to please, to worship the ground he walks on.

You probably already know the punch line:  “Some people are like cats and some are like dogs.”  It’s almost exactly like that other line: “Some people are believers, some are skeptics.”  Continue reading

NOT THAT KIND OF SIN.061516

cycle of fears, pain, anger, grief, revenge

Since we’re talking about sin, you probably heard of lying (bearing false witness) and stealing; murder and adultery; not honoring your father and your mother and covetousness; see Exodus 20:3-17, the Ten Commandments; also including don’t make or worship idols, don’t take the Lord’s Name in vain, remember the Sabbath to keep it holy, and the most important one, ‘you shall have no other gods besides Me [the One True God].’

But we’re not talking about those kinds of sin, what we show to the world as sin.  We’re talking about what is going on in your heart; all the things that give rise to the sins that we exhibit to the world.  Things like fear and shame, and guilt and worry, depression, hate and unforgiveness, arrogance and control.  James says in his letter to the churches, in chapter 1:14-15 14“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”  What was it Jesus said about what defiles a person? In Matthew 15:17-19, 17He said, “It’s not what goes in your mouth, but what comes out of your mouth that defiles you, 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. Those things defile a man.”

How do we get away, and stay away, from sin like that?  The short answer is, “Turn to God”.  Like John the Apostle says, in 1 John 1:9, “If you’ll confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”  But ultimately, it’s like Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross [that means die to your self] daily, and follow Me.”  It’s a lifetime commitment.  If you keep on drawing near to God, He will definitely keep on drawing near to you.  (James 4:8) It’s His life that will make you whole.  It’s His righteousness (not yours) that will keep you from sinning, more and more every day.

LOOK IN THE MIRROR; WHAT DO YOU SEE? 053016

Homme en pleine reflexion devant le miroirRomans 8:1-4: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not follow their sinful nature, but follow the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the sinful nature, God, by sending His own Son . . . condemned the sin of the sinful nature, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not follow our sinful nature but follow the Spirit.”

That’s the ‘Perfect Law of Liberty’ that James talks about in Chapter 1:22-25, speaking of the man who hears God’s Word but doesn’t do it, he says, “He’s lying to himself.  He’s like a man who looks at himself in a mirror, and as soon as he turns away, he forgets what he looked like.”

The ‘Perfect Law of Liberty’ is the same as the ‘Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus’ that makes us free from the law of sin and death.  The Perfect Law of Liberty is the law that is followed by people who hear God’s Word and do it.

True obedience lies in doing what the verse says, “Don’t follow the sinful nature. Follow the Spirit of Jesus.” That’s obedience. from Out o’th’ Bushes, © 2016, by Tex Tonroy.

WHO DO YOU TRUST? (REALLY) 042716

Eroded beach with house, Pititinga, Natal (Brazil)

So we were talking about obedience; and we were talking about ‘building your house on the sand’ as a metaphor for ‘basing our lives on principles and practices that shift and change’.   We should touch on another aspect of this obedience.  If, as we alluded to earlier, obedience is about doing what God tells us to do; then what about the First of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before (besides) Me.”  We’re back to that question about who or what do we worship (or serve)?  Who do we really trust?  Who do we really turn to when we’re in dire straits with nowhere to turn?

Well, I’m good about saying that ultimately I trust God; not my job, nor my employer, nor my network of friends and relatives, nor my piddly bank account or my credit cards.  But do I really?  I say that; but every time I get in a bind, I’m steadily calculating where I’m going to go to stay afloat for another few days or weeks.  Funny thing is; usually something “falls out of the sky” that I was completely not expecting, so clearly that it just had to be God.  It’s happened over and over so often that I just can’t deny that God really has delivered me from evil or destruction or punishment when I didn’t deserve to be delivered.  God’s mercy.  (You know ‘mercy’: that’s when God loves you and takes care of you, even when you deserve to be punished.)

Problem is, we all have been in that position, when to our logical mind it looks like there is a logical man-made explanation for how we got out of that trap; and we don’t give the credit to God.  Somebody comes by and says, “You know that just couldn’t be God; that was your boss, or your rich uncle, or just the luck of the draw.”  And the sad thing is we let it slide and agree by omission.  We don’t say, “You may think that, but I know it was God.”  Just so you’ll know, nobody else may think a thing about it, but God didn’t miss it.  The true miracle is that God still loves me (and you) anyway.  Some people go for years, running in the bushes, worshipping those idols of ‘other stuff’ taking care of them, growing more and more calcified in their position of trusting something else besides God, acknowledging something else besides God is our real god.  (Often it’s our selves.)  The really sad part is that we’re not only worshipping idols, but we’re getting more and more used to trusting in “the house on the sand”; getting closer and closer to the time of ‘great was the fall of it”.  That’s dis-obedience and the fruits (the results) of disobedience all rolled into one.

In case somebody didn’t get it; trusting in something else besides God to take care of you is not only 1] building your house on the sand (basing your life on shifting, shaky stuff); but it’s also  2] worshipping idols; serving other gods than the One True God.  That’s disobedience of the first order.   That’s the exact definition of what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Everyone who hears My words, and does NOT do them is like a foolish man . . .” Only an idiot would do that.  I guess if you want you can join me as a ‘recovering’ idiot.  You know, like members of AA talk about being a ‘recovering alcoholic’.  We never completely grow out of it.  We have to get up every morning, turn ourselves over to God and say, “One more time Lord, I’m turning myself over to You; I’m dying to myself so You can live Your eternal life in me.  I love You.”  From Out o’th’ Bushes, © 2016, by Tex Tonroy