Posts Tagged With: Wisdom

Spirit Writer Info

The next post on the Origin of the bible is nearing completion. The response to this topic has been great, and I believe this is the more important subject to discuss. So please be patient and know it is forthcoming.

bible

 

I did want to take just a moment to bring another post to your attention, on another of my WordPress sites. It offers a brief observation on one aspect of Human Responses to Dogs A separate window will open, allowing you to keep your place on this page. It is titled Wimpy Dogs & Egos

I think you may have some wisdom to share that the Dog Response Post will bring to mind, perhaps an experience you’ve had in which God has taught you something you didn’t know before. Be encouraged to share a comment with us there. I find these divinely inspired bits of knowledge to be, not only among the most exciting grains of wisdom, but some of the most beneficial as well.

 

My heart feels like it’s in tune with the Apostle Paul’s as he writes to the Colossian church in the passage below.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 (Underscoring mine)

 

Have an Exceedingly Blessed & Profitable Day!

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Categories: Animal Companions--Pets, Community, People, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love—It’s All In Your Head

love

Part One: Love and the Human Psyche (By the Scientist in Me)

Part Two: Loving Loved Ones Who Are Hard to Love (By the Minister of Christ in Me)

 

Love & the Human Psyche

Neuro-Psychiatrists tell us the human brain is hardwired in a way that we crave intimate relationships—that we long for love. Yet often those relationships end so horribly in heartache. A bad relationship leaves our fragile psyches bruised, or even completely shattered. Once bitten by love, some fear a repeat of that emotional trauma so much that they close themselves off and never again open themselves up to love.

A young man attending college sees a beautiful woman in class, and immediately he is attracted to her. Several weeks pass, and he’s made a few heart-felt, yet feeble attempts to speak with her, but every time he sees her the attraction is intensified. Something has been happening within the neural network of his brain.

Love has a way of rewiring our neural network. We meet someone, and similar to a virus, they occupy and alter our synapses. This causes our brain to release chemicals that produce arousal, attraction, or obsession. That special person becomes an ever present distraction; we can’t seem to focus upon anything but them. But we are not simply thinking about them all the time. Our brain is building a model of that person—a simulation of who and what we believe them to be. Our mind is actually predicting what they think, or rather what we want them to think, and even how they feel. So let’s say we’ve begun a relation with them. It may go well for some time.

Then suddenly our illusion of that person meets who they really are. Our simulation of them and reality finally collide like two trains heading in opposing directions. That person had no chance whatsoever of living up to our expectations of them, because we had a false view of who they were. Our mind was in love with the depiction our brain created of who that person was, rather than the actual person. This brings up the all important question: Did we ever really love their true person, or were we simply in love with our perception of who they were?

 

Loving Loved Ones Who Are Hard To love

(Previously published in “Christian Focus Magazine” June-July issue 2013 pg.42)

 As Phillip sat across from me with his elbows on my desk, his face in his hands, the quaking voice he emitted dripped with disappointment and sorrow. He was adamant that his wife Maria had changed completely after they were married, saying that she was not at all what he had expected her to be. When I also spoke with Maria, she said almost exactly the same thing about Phillip. Then, counseling both together, we discovered that they each had held very unrealistic expectations of the other, as well as a false view of each other from the beginning.

If we do not love God first, and understand our desperate need for the grace He gives, then the people we love will never meet our expectations of them. We will expect conformity to an illusion of what the perfect candidate for that particular role or relationship looks like.

When we come to Christ and see ourselves with clarity in the light of His holiness, how utterly detestable our own sinfulness becomes to us! It is only when we see ourselves for who and what we truly are that we can know what unconditional love is, for God has sent His own Son to die for us while we were yet sinners, while we are still in that wretched condition. The question is then begged: Do I really love this person who is so far from my illusion of what they should be? Our answer lies in the question: Has God demanded that we conform to a pattern of perfection before He loves us, or after His act of grace and mercy, after He has proven His love? He loved us first, and then acted upon that love with grace.

Speaking of our old sinful nature, Paul writes in Gal.2:20 “I am crucified with Christ”. In dying to the old self, we crucify our illusion of who and what we ourselves are, and of what that loved one should be. The weakness of the flesh perpetrates and perpetuates these illusions in our mind. The Spirit of Truth, or Holy Spirit, reveals truth. Jesus Christ is the truth, (John 14:6), and ALL truth can be found through a relationship with Him.

 

Expect your expectations to change!

 

With our illusions shattered by the illuminating reality found in Christ, we can decide to love unconditionally. We must begin granting grace and mercy to our loved one. Suddenly, our expectations are pure. They have not been lowered, but are now reasonable, having grown out of an accurate knowledge of who we really are, and hence who they truly are. We are now empowered to lead them to the same truth in Jesus to make the changes they need to make. We certainly cannot judge them (we are or were in the same condition) and we can now truly love them, for our disillusionment—the breaking of our illusion, has given us the ability, the power to love them into change.

There are 3 steps toward our loved one becoming what we need in that relationship.

Know the truth found only in a relationship with Christ Jesus.

Love unconditionally as we have been loved by God. 

And grant them the same kind of grace we have been given.

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Romans 16:20

Phillip and Maria just had their second child. After fifteen years of happy marriage, they say their love for each other has now grown to a beautiful maturity, and life together is wonderful, thanks to Jesus Christ.

 

 

Categories: Christian Living, Romantic Love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Father’s Wisdom

Dad

In the above image, my father Jim Bass was putting the final touches on a sign he’d built for the Chidomoyo Christian Mission compound in Zimbabwe Africa. He is now with the Lord.

It was fascinating to watch my father work. He was a true craftsman in every sense of the word. Whether working with steel, wood, rock or concrete, he could build most anything. But I was not content to simply observe.  When dad added a beautiful extension onto our Florida home, I stood watching wondrous things take shape under his deft hands. Oh how I wanted to be like him, and I wanted be a part of his improvement projects around the house. He would put me to work on tasks that would effectively keep me out of his way.

Work Crew

Above is preacher & missionary Jim Bass and his construction crew getting ready to put a roof on a building for one of the village churches of the Shona people.

Patiently, my father showed me how to add the right proportions of sand, cement and water to mix the mortar he used in laying masonry blocks. I made batches of it in a wheel barrow using a hoe to blend the mixture together. It was hard work for the little wisp of a boy that made up my twelve year old frame. At times, I’d simply be on hand to pass tools to him, and afterwards there were always cleanup jobs. But in my heart I knew the little bit of help I gave was insignificant. I wanted to do what my father was doing.

Laying those masonry blocks looked so easy. Constant badgering would finally lead to my father giving in. I watched closely how it was done, and then, finally, it happened. Dad stood up, handed me the trowel and said, “Have at it.” It was dumb luck that my first two blocks were set just right. But as I laid the third, and began to go on to the fourth, dad stopped me. Together we walked around to the other side of the wall where it was easier to see how the last block I’d layed was not level with the others in that row. And it was setting crooked. I was all ready to take that one block back out. But dad simply said, “I will take over now.”

My father did not do as you might think. He leveled that askew block, but left it as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. For many years afterwards, whenever I questioned my father’s decisions, he would take me outside the house and together we would look down at that one masonry block that stood out of place from the rest of them. Still today, I wonder at my father’s acceptance of that flaw in our wall, leaving it there, just to have a permanent life lesson for his son. Was I really that important to Him? Today, that out of place block can still be seen. And every time I think of it, there is a warm assurance of my father’s love for me. It is the most beautiful flaw I’ve ever seen.

During this, the sixth decade of my life, more changes have been wrought in who I am than in all the previous decades put together. It’s like running downhill, the further you go the more speed you pick up. At forty years old I was so certain of what I wanted my legacy to be. If only I could be remembered as a man of faith, a servant of God, all would be well. At fifty-seven I now realize that it’s not at all about what I do, but what I allow God to do, in me, and through me.

If I were to die today, I have no certainty as to what words might be used to describe anything close to a good legacy. We hope to leave behind something of ourselves that indicates we’ve left the world a better place for us having been in it. But I continuously see how inept I am to do anything of eternal significance. It is all accomplished by Christ in me, rather than by me. If there is anything to boast on, it’s merely to be a good helper. I do my best in submitting to God that He may work through me. But I need to stay out of God’s way, and not run out ahead of Him, and make certain I don’t hinder what he is doing. This involves a lot of listening, submitting and remaining available—doing as He directs. It’s the same as when I was helping my earthly father. I still feel rather insignificant in the overall scheme of things, but God thinks differently about you and me.

The bible indicates that each one of us is an important part of God’s plan. He sent His own Son to die in our behalf, that we may be a part of Him, and a part of the work He is doing here on earth.

Thoughts for reflection

  1. What flaws or scars do I have that remind me of my Heavenly Father’s love?
  2. The book of Revelation indicates that Jesus still has scars from His crucifixion. Why did He keep His scars?
  3. Am I taking credit for the things God is doing through me?
Categories: Growing in Faith, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

What God Wants to Teach Us

Over the past two weeks I’ve been diligently seeking God’s will for the next phase of my life. I’m still praying over some aspects of what He is leading me to do. It is exciting to know that God has a plan for my future and for your’s as well. Jeremiah 29:11 states the following. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Whatever God has in store for you and I, we can rest assured that He is leading us towards great success! I’ve been doing a video series on godly success on YouTube. And because I’ve been so occupied with the other things God is leading me to do, I’ve neglected this blog. My apologies for that, and I plan to do all that is in my power to make it up to you. I have some excellent posts in the works. For now, I wanted to offer this 3rd video in the series, “Journey to Success”. Stay Blessed!

Journey to Success 3

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How-to: Be Successful (Step One)

SUCCESS 1

Do you hope for tried and true steps to lasting success?

Which work for every worthy venture on planet earth?

You want it to be clear and easy to understand?

“What’s it going to cost me,” you ask?

Here’s the entire cost up front: A little of your time & attention, and a lot of effort. That’s all it costs.

If you are reading further, I suppose you’ve decided to invest a little time and attention. So let’s move on to our efforts.

  1. TRUST IN GOD
  2. Be Willing to Change
  3. Be Determined & Persevere

Step one: Defining Success.

 I have a certain friend who loved to flaunt what he felt was his success. He had more money than most anyone else in our circle of acquaintances. He had more material possessions, and he had a great deal of influence in the world. He also had lots of associates who held him in high esteem. The sad part, however, is that he was not/is not happy; in fact he suffers great depression. Recently, the Lord allowed his entire life to come unraveled. His wife left him, his dog actually died, and his business was in the toilet. God was vying for this man’s attentions, and trying to teach him what real success is all about.

“When our ideas of success are contingent upon bank balances, popularity, influence over others, titles, or any other worldly endeavor, it is extremely temporary! Our success will be as fictional as Marvel’s superhero character, The Flash. Those temporal things can end in a blink of The Flash’s eye.”

Just as with my sad friend, most people today believe the definition of success that the world programs us to believe. We’ve heard it ever since we were toddling around in diapers. “You can do anything you want to do in life.” We are told “Just believe in yourself and try hard enough.” Here in America it is often billed as “The American Dream”. We’ve been taught things such as: “You can even be the President of the United States.” Or, “You can be the best.”

Right out of the starting gate we are programmed to think from an egocentric perspective: It’s all about me. But these notions are diametrically opposed to God’s outline of success for every individual on earth.

When our ideas of success are contingent upon bank balances, popularity, influence over others, titles or any other worldly endeavor, it is extremely temporary! Our success will be as fictional as Marvel’s superhero character, The Flash. Those temporal things can end in a blink of The Flash’s eye.

For Christians, even our identity is bound up in who and what Christ is. Our lives are centered on and around God (theocentric). Instead of struggling to be the best, where our efforts are zeroed in on ourselves, it’s all about Jesus. Our efforts are to serve Him, and to exalt Him in the best way we are able. We make Him the best instead of striving to make ourselves the best. Accordingly, when we do so, God elevates us to the best that we can be. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1st Peter 5:6
When we discipline ourselves to conform to God’s way of doing and thinking, He rewards us with success. But exactly what is God’s idea of success?

We will be offering God’s definition of success in increments, because success involves many things. It affects every area of our lives, including our finances, our station in life, our popularity, and more. We’ll discuss each of these in turn. But first let’s look at the most prominent characteristics of biblical success.

Success is taking the talents, skills and gifts that God has blessed us with, and putting them to work in a way that does the following.

  1. Trusts God
  2. Brings Glory to God
  3. Increases (Returns a Harvest)
  4. Keeps us Busy

This is not being the “Master of your own Destiny,” as we are taught by the world. Our destiny is in God’s hands, and we must trust Him enough to do things His way. In the Parable of the Talents (Mathew 25:14-30) Jesus indicates the criteria by which our lives as Christians will be measured.

In this teaching Jesus shows 3 servants, representing 3 children of God. There are three for a reason. The first two receive exactly the same rewards (verses 21 & 23). But they were given different amounts to work with. One had been given 5 talents to work with, and the next servant was given 2 talents to work with. The third servant received 1 talent to work with. The first man went to work with what his master had given him, five talents. He increased what he’d been given to double the amount. The second also put his 2 talents to work and doubled them. The one who produced 5 more talents received the exact same reward as the one who produced 2 more talents.

The third servant did nothing with his talent. He hid it in the ground until it was time for the Master to call upon all three of them to give an account of their labors. This is what each one of us must face: A day of reckoning, when we will be assessed for how well we used what God gave us to work with. It’s not the amount that is important. What we do with what we are given and how we use what we are given is what will be gauged. Jesus could have employed only two servants in his illustration, but he didn’t. He used three servants to show that just because one servant has more money, more talent, more skill or greater gifts, it makes no difference on the Lord’s measure of success. God’s expectation is the same for all of His servants and children. We are to use what we are given to the best of our ability for His glory and not our own.

Paul gives a good talk against the world’s egotistic and egocentric idea of success in 1st Corinthians 4. Look at verse 7: For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

How can we boast about having something that somebody gave to us? That’s like the kid at school whose parents are rich. And he or she think they are better than the other kids because they have more money, better clothes and an expensive car that daddy bought for them.

Let’s not think for a moment we are throwing out the good advice of being a hard worker. This is essential if we hope for success. But God is the one who gave you your brain, and your ability to think. Do you have a good head for business? That’s great, but God is the one who gave it to you. Do you work hard? Excellent! But God is the one who gives you the strength to do so. Besides, working hard is simply doing your duty. God gave Adam work in the Garden of Eden as a blessing, to give him extra purpose, and responsibility, without which no one can be happy.

Success is also being happy and satisfied as we accomplish what God has assigned for each of us as individuals to do. While at the same time, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. Now that, my friend, is step one for SUCCESS!

To be continued…

 

Categories: Faith, Success, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Successful Christian Leaders

Upward Leaders in Christ

lead

Have you ever seen someone receive a promotion to a leadership position, then all of a sudden they get all wrapped up in their own greatness? Their head gets so big you wonder how they can remain standing upright without tipping over. It’s not a pretty sight. Sadly, they’ve sabotaged their own position. No one wants to follow a strutting peacock. At least not until they have learned to humble themselves and begin to view their position as responsibility rather than simply wielding authority.

Christian leadership is unique in that God has clearly laid out a plan for success. Operating under the lordship of Christ, Christian leaders can be assured of shining achievement. Looking to our perfect paradigm, Jesus’ life of humble obedience to the Father in combination with His service to mankind is the perfect pattern for servant-leadership. That means I need to do as Jesus did: Be a good follower. Only then can I be a more effective leader. In the realm of perfection one must be a good sheep if they are to be a good shepherd. We follow Jesus, our Chief shepherd. And, we learn to humbly follow our leaders here on earth. Leadership is the role of a good servant first, and leader second. Maintaining a servant mindset is essential if we hope to advance. God Himself will “lift us up”, as Apostle Peter writes. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6 NIV)

Humility is one of the most important character traits of a successful Spirit-led leader.

Our Shared Purposes, Objectives & Directives

When we seek to do God’s will we are issued wonderful purposes which undergird everything we do and say, and this helps us to correctly align our priorities. Our purposes are three fold.

  1. Bring glory to God/Christ Jesus. (Matt. 5:16)
  2. Build up, teach, and strengthen the faith of other believers (the church). “…Let all things be done unto edifying.” (1Corinthians 14:26b)
  3. Share the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus with nonbelievers. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) V

When we determine to perform God’s will, He leads us on to victory. God’s word establishes our objectives, giving us a cause for which we all together stand and promote. The Lord assigns our ultimate goals to accomplish, which will always bring glory to God instead of to the earthly leader. The Lord also provides the principles by which we operate. In other words, He gives us our means of how to get it done—our modus operandi.

By following Jesus closely we have access to constant guidance from God Himself, through His Holy Spirit residing in us. Wow—talk about having a great panel of advisers! Who better than Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

  • Great Christian leaders surround themselves with other good leaders who are sound counselors and advisers, and to whom they hold themselves accountable.
  • If we hope to be a great leader, it is imperative that we learn to take advice and weigh it well.

    WE NEED TO MASTER PARTICULAR ARTS

  • Listening to those who are under us within God’s structure of spiritual authority
  • Empathize with everyone
  • Communicate from reason rather than out of emotion
  • Rather than gaining followers, our goal is to help create more leaders. We advance by helping others to advance. This is an attitude.

History offers accounts of lots of guys who may have risen to the heights of success, but their morals and principles were not Christian and not of God. Adolf Hitler rose to great power as a leader and led many down a path of destruction. So we see that by using ungodly principles one can become a successful leader, at least by the world’s standards. However, it’s a short lived success. And can cost not only our soul, but the eternal lives of others as well. That’s the exact opposite of Jesus’ program for us.

GIFTS

Every Christian is given at least one spiritual gift or special ability to use for the cause of Christ. It is for the sole purpose of carrying out God’s plan here on earth. As that gift or talent is used, it increases, becomes better and more productive. Gifts are for use in edifying the body of Christ


“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. …if it is to lead, do it diligently…” (Romans 12:6,8 NIV)

Diligence is a prerequisite for every good leader. Christ represented the Father here on earth and He diligently carried out His will. Likewise, we represent Christ as His ambassadors on earth, and we must be diligent in carrying out the ministry He has entrusted to us. Lackadaisical leadership falls flat.

Pre-determined Goals

Three overshadowing goals for every Christian Leader:

  1. Bring glory to God
  2. Fulfill Jesus’ commission of sharing the gospel
  3. Build up fellow believers (edification).

 

“Effective Christian leaders are committed to advancing the mission in ways that also enable others to make their kingdom contribution”—Unknown

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18 NIV)

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20a NIV)

 

We have our preponderate goals from the Bible.

We have the counseling of God’s Holy Spirit.

We have our people advisers.

We have our special gifts to use (of which Paul urged Timothy to not neglect).

We have the great commission of Christ to go make disciples of all nations.

And we have the call to build others up, strengthening their faith, teaching them to observe all things Christ commands us while; encouraging, expounding knowledge, enabling, and edifying those who follow us.

We have everything we need.

All that remains is our diligence in carrying out our marching orders from God.

Full Steam Ahead!

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New Year Enlightenment

What was your New Year’s resolution 25 years ago?

Do you ever go back in time, in your thoughts, and listen to the words of your much younger self? It can be very enlightening. Sometimes I have to chuckle at the younger version of me. I recall billing myself as a “survivor” at twenty-five years old, before I’d experienced the depths of danger my future years would entail. Even though my statements back then may have presaged the fact that I would indeed live through several life threatening and harrowing ordeals, I had no way of knowing that at the time.

Now 57, I understand how blessed I am to have the Lord looking out for me. Maybe if I live to be a hundred and ten I could then rightfully say I’m a survivor. Yet, now, I know and acknowledge the fact that still being alive has more to do with God’s will, than it does my own capabilities.

Oh the inexperience, pride and naiveté of youth! But increasing in wisdom as time lapses should not cease simply because we’re older now. Looking back at my past, I can certainly see how I’ve matured and learned a lot since then. But what about the future me? Will I look back at this very moment and chuckle at the present me? How much wiser will you and I be in another quarter century than we are right now? It’s a humbling thought.

Imagine how much wisdom a man or woman would have been able to amass previous to the world-wide flood, before God cut down mankind’s lifespan. Some people lived for over 900 years! Back then, I imagine a person under a hundred years old would be considered immature. Of course, the passing of time does not automatically ensure an increase in knowledge, though, perhaps it should.

I like the old adage that says, “If you want to make God laugh just tell Him your plans.” The Lord must have winked at our childish ways many times before He allowed us the small taste of wisdom we enjoy today.  The wisest and oldest among us are but children in our thinking compared to God.

In light of these things, I find it comforting that the Lord leads and guides those who submit to Him. In His omniscience He always knows the right course of action we should take. He knows all and sees all. That, and God’s love for us are good reasons to do things the Lord’s way.

I’d be apprehensive to hear what kind of label God might put on me, the way I had labelled myself a survivor. However, the best way we can ensure a good review from our Heavenly Father is to trust Him at all times, and in every circumstance. Which translates to: follow Jesus closely and seek His counsel in all things. That’s the wisest thing we can do.

My New Year resolution this time around is simply to trust God more, to realize my own ineptitude without Him, and to submit to Christ in every circumstance life throws at me.

So far, I’ve survived all the times I spoke and acted out of ignorance. Yet, looking back there is evidence that I’ve increased in wisdom, because I never would have made that statement when I was twenty-five. Praise God for watching over and protecting you and I from our own lack of understanding.

I hope you’ll carefully consider God’s wisdom, and His love for you. I also pray that this New Year you will resolve to study the bible more than ever, and continue to grow and learn from His wisdom. Have a Very Happy New Year!

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