I don’t have many people in my life who I can really call friends. Most of the people that I see often want something from me – my help, my advice, a connection, a problem solved, or they want to hire me for a project. It sounds sad but I enjoy helping people, so it doesn’t get me down – much. I had coffee two weeks ago with someone that I’ve known a long time but never considered a friend, until our coffee. I realized that we shared so much in our lives, and we’ve been there for each other often enough that he is a true friend. This past week, another very good friend came to just visit us. It was an extension of a business trip but he could have just as easily gone home and not stopped. We haven’t seen each other for a couple of years but we picked up right where we left off – something only guys could do. It made me appreciate friendships even more.
Two days ago, I said goodbye (relocation) to someone who became a friend out of a working relationship. We had developed a deep appreciation for each other and the more we worked together, the more we realized that we were two, very similar people. We didn’t always agree but we ALWAYS respected each other. As I reflected on this post, I was encouraged by the fact that I have people in my life that I can count on as reliable friends. I am grateful they are in my life.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Unreliable friends truly come to ruin your life. My friend who I had coffee with described how he was cutting some people out of his life because they were so negative. Most of them never realized that he stopped calling and he is much happier now. We don’t seek out unreliable people for ourselves, but they seem to show up or evolve over time. There is one person who is always present in our lives and is closer than a brother, it’s Jesus.
The book “The Shack” written by Wm Paul Young, describes the Holy Trinity in very vivid detail. He describes Jesus as a friend who is always there, always supportive, and always provides sound advice. Jesus is that person who “just gets you”. We are not meant to be alone in life, God knew that and provided Adam with Eve – we all need friends. God also knows that we will have imperfect people in our lives, so He provided us with the perfect friend, Jesus. He will never leave our side and when we need comfort, He is there for us. Seek Jesus in your prayers and devotions and you will find true peace in this world.
Self-discipline is a funny thing. In one way it makes us stronger and more focused than someone without it but in another, it makes us so determined that we lose the ability to see the simple things around us. It also has the ability to force us to do things that we might just otherwise simply blow-off. I’ve been pretty self-disciplined my whole life, I had goals to reach and found ways to complete them. When one road was blocked, I found a path that would lead me to another road headed in the direction that I wanted to go. This type of drive can become consuming and before you know it, you aren’t paying attention to the things that are changing around you. My son used to say, “just relax and chill a little”.
He is often right, and I need to embrace his happy-go-lucky life; I need to chill out a little bit. Between my city council work, my consulting projects, my work on regional boards, my special projects, and household demands, I could use a little less drive and a little more chill. Self-discipline won’t let us ignore the commitments that we’ve made, nor should we. However, it should also teach us to balance our lives and take time for ourselves and each other. Look around the world at the top athletes and you will see very self-disciplined people. You will also see people so absorbed in themselves that they lose sight of the things that matter most. Stay balanced!
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
God never intended for us to be timid; He wants us to be bold and social. We are supposed to be sharing God’s word with a world that needs salvation and we can’t do that when we sit quietly by ourselves. God’s Spirit gives us power and love to be there for other people or to openly share God’s message. We should have the confidence to stand tall in the face of all adversity because God has given us the strength to do it. No matter what is before you, you have the power of God’s spirit by your side. When you are troubled, turn to God for strength to knock those troubles down.
God’s love for you will protect you and He is always there for you. One part of self-discipline is that we remember to do what God has asked of us too. We may be driven in this life, have great goals for our careers, and can even pave new roads to success but if we are not disciplined to be faithful to God by growing and sharing in His love, what is the use? God says to us “chill a little” on those earthly wants and needs and give Me a little time. Learn what God has in mind for you, learn what love really is and learn what real self-discipline is by knowing how Jesus gave His life for us. He could have changed course when things got bad or quit when He found out that He was to die. Jesus had the self-discipline to stay the course that God had chosen for Him. God isn’t asking much of us, just a little time with Him and less in this world. Go chill with God.
I’ve mentioned before that my inspiration for these weekly devotions come from a number of places. Often it comes from a sermon that I heard and then after pondering it, I apply it to some life message. Honestly, most often it comes from bible verses that I’ve read in the past and taken note of. I’ve had several conversations this week while I’ve been offering management advice during a consulting engagement. The idea is that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s just not okay to repeat them. Often, we want to focus on the cause of a problem or what should have been done or could have been done, but they all end with a finger pointing at someone. This happens a lot in our places of work or in our homes; someone must be blamed for the setback or the missed opportunity. Some people refer to this as accountability but, it’s just proof that old saying: “one oh no wipes out 10 atta boys” is true.
Instead of learning, moving on and accepting that mistakes happen, people won’t let it go. They keep punishing the person over and over ignoring that people change and learn. We all know that the best way to learn is through mistakes. In science it’s called trial and error and is part of the “scientific method” of study. Researchers can go on for years coming up with ideas to test and then when they fail, they test a new one. The difference between learning and tolerance is that in science, they tolerate the concept of trial and error and in business they don’t. We should all be a little more tolerant of each other and work together to make things better. People can become better when they are supported and encouraged despite a mistake. We wouldn’t treat a child with the same contempt for a mistake caused by not knowing, why do we do it to adults?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
We all go through various transformations in our lives. In the public safety professions, a rookie is transformed throughout their career. Lazy teenagers become successful adults and single, wild guys have become awesome parents. We are almost constantly under a transformation of one sort or another. St. Paul is reminding us of the transformation that we have through Jesus Christ. We are not the same people we were before Christ came into our lives. Our baptism washed away our sins; God washes away the original sin that we cannot ever escape, through His word and the sacrament of Holy Baptism.
We become one with Him and are new again; we are transformed! As the TV commercial says – “but wait, there’s more! No matter when in our lives we are baptized, we remain in sin throughout the rest of our lives and yet, God still forgives us through His grace and mercy. He only asks that we confess our sins, repent and trust in Jesus as our savior. The old Adam in us is washed away and sin will never have power in our lives with Jesus as our one and only savior. We are a new creation, one in which God is happy to call us His Children. Despite our mistakes and failures; Jesus takes all of our “oh no’s” and makes everything an “atta boy” – “the new is here!”
What do you have faith in? Often times we hear that people have faith in “the system”, the assembly of policies or procedures that govern us. The system is broken these days, so maybe fewer people actually have faith in it. Where do we turn? The phrase, “if you want a job done right, do it yourself” sounds like we are putting faith in ourselves. In fact, many people put their faith there – in themselves. Something in their lives has driven them to believe in only themselves. They’ve been let down somewhere along the way or have become so focused on what they’ve accomplished that they lose sight of those that helped or supported them along the way. I hate to say this but as a “politician” people must have faith in me in order to elect me. I’ve never been “political” but lately, I find myself doing it more and more.
I take my job as a councilmember very seriously because of the faith that people have put in me as their representative. In any position you hold, people have to put their faith in you too. They have to trust that you will care and defend them as a leader or they have to believe that you perform your job well as part of a bigger plan. When people count on you, when they have faith in you, you have a huge obligation to live up to those expectations. I pride myself on being prepared to answer questions at any time for a resident. I pay attention to what concerns people express and I’m always looking for ways to keep them informed and educated. People often comment that they appreciated my explanations; my reply is always that I’m just doing my job and that I take my role as their representative seriously. I want them to have faith in me. Be sure that people know they can have faith in you too.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”. Hebrews 11:1
Faith in the Biblical context is filled with ambiguity; there are a lot of things that we do not see. We can’t see eternal life and we can’t see God’s plan for our lives but we have faith in them. Some people focus so much on their personal success that they stop having faith in God to provide for them because they are so busy providing for themselves. The devil wants us to think that we are in control of our successes and that we don’t need prayer to be successful. These people have faith in just themselves. This verse in Hebrews reminds us that we can be confident in what God is doing in our lives and that our hopes are His hopes.
Faith in God also means that we can be sure of His presence and work in our lives even though we don’t see it. Faith is knowing, without question, that God is present in all things. Our sinful nature makes us believe that we are in control and that God only intervenes when we ask; sin puts faith in ourselves and not in God. The devil will shower you with money and success so he can keep you focused on yourself as the most important thing. Sin wants success and the feelings that come with it. When your faith is in God and all that He does, you no longer worry about success because it’s there. You won’t worry about material possessions because He will provide for you. Faith is confidence and we can be assured by the promises that God made which we cannot see. Have faith in God to watch over you.