A gift from God

Happy Labor Day! This is the day that usually marks the end of summer for most of the United States, except in Arizona. We will continue to have summer weather for at least the next 45 days. The forecasted high for today is 107 but dropping to 104 by Friday. We are celebrating the holiday weekend, never the less, with a traditional barbeque and an extra day to just hang out. For us, that usually means more homework or getting to the things that we didn’t do all weekend – they don’t call it Labor Day for nothing! While it’s easy to complain about the extra work around the house, this holiday does represent a celebration of us, the workers of the world. We are given the opportunity to use our talents, skills and abilities to make a difference for someone. In exchange, we are paid for our work. Granted, some are paid more than others but we are able to provide for ourselves. Each of us has special talents that we can use to make a difference for someone. Restaurant staffs make a difference for their customers, accountants provide a service and peace of mind to their clients, the grocery clerk who bags our purchase and so on; everyone makes a difference. If you think your labor is a waste, stop and consider whom you make a difference for. We all have our specific jobs, at this specific time and for a specific reason that we simply don’t understand. So what should we do? I’d suggest that you enjoy your time and learn how you make a difference in everything you do. The word LABOR means that it is supposed to be hard but it doesn’t mean that it is without purpose. Enjoy the holiday and look forward to the changing seasons that are coming – even to us in Arizona.

“Moreover, when God gives a man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work- this is a gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19

I’m reminded of the old expression “a gift from God” with this verse. Our human nature is to think that we’re responsible for all the things that we’ve done. “It was me who…” is how we start our sentences when describing an accomplishment. We often think of ourselves when it’s something great but we blame God when its something less desirable. Why did God give me this disease? Why did God let me get fired from my job? We forget that God gives us ALL things; the good and the bad. He put the right people in our lives so that we met the manager who was looking for a new employee and we landed that awesome new job. God gives us what we can handle – not too little and not too much. God also wants us to be happy with what He has given us. He doesn’t want us being envious of the new car that our neighbor just got. He doesn’t want us to be angry when we are passed over for promotion. He wants us to accept what we have (be content) and be happy. It is ALL a gift from God and that is something to be thankful for. Everything, good and bad, is a gift from God. We are supposed to learn from the bad and model God’s grace for others. We are supposed to share the good with others too. God loves a cheerful giver but it’s not always money we need to give. God has blessed each of with talents and those should be shared too. Work should be less about labor and more about celebrating the gift of opportunity from God. Go out and continue to make a difference.

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Are you worthy?

As the holiday weekend comes to a close, I am reminded about the sacrifices that have been made to keep America free. Its been hard to focus on the idea of “fighting for freedom” since we have been involved in military action (war) for more than a decade. Many Americans have viewed the Iraq War as one of questionable intent and the war in Afghanistan as simply a fight against the terrorists. The irony there is that if we don’t stop the terrorists, we are not really free. We often hear people say that America doesn’t need to be the word’s peacekeeper. How do we maintain our freedom if vital parts of the world are controlled by radical governments? This is not a political blog so; I’ll bridge this conversation back to those that have sacrificed for us. We honor men and women for their service on Veteran’s Day and we remember those that gave all on Memorial Day; July Fourth is our celebration of the freedom to hold those and many other ceremonies. Those that serve or have served answered a calling much like each of us have. We all have talents and skills that make us unique in this life. Some people are too confident and we can’t stand being around them and yet others will say: “I’m not special or I don’t have anything to offer”. We all have something special to offer, our trouble is that we aren’t very good at recognizing it. I’ve had conversations about my having no trouble picking up body parts or working on people who were critically wounded but don’t ask me to pull a tooth – yuk! We all have something to offer, that’s why cops don’t like fires and firefighters don’t like bad guys. Don’t waste your time swimming in pity because you don’t feel special or feel like you don’t offer anything worthy. Start spending time seeking to understand what you do offer. Simply being a good listener is a skill that not everyone can do. Find your purpose and then, put it to work.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Ephesians 4:1

God knows the talents that He gave each of us and then calls on us to use them when He sees a need. Too often, we get wrapped up in our own circumstances or needs that we forget to notice what God has done for us. We have all been blessed by wonderful lives and God has put us where He needs us. Sometimes we are the inspiration for others and other times He gives us people to be inspired by. It’s only when we are open to His will that we realize what is happening. St. Paul continued to write inspirational letters despite being a prisoner for his faith. He stayed strong and reminded others to live as Jesus instructed/demonstrated. He reminds us that we have a life worth living because it came from God. Are we worthy enough – absolutely! We are all worthy. No matter what we do, God says we are worthy because He sent Jesus to die for us. Our job, our bank account, our house or car or whatever we have do not make us worthy. God wants us near him and that is a life worthy of the calling we have received.