Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Skill of Being the People

I’ve always fancied myself as a people person. I mean, I tend to get along pretty well with most people, but occasionally I run into someone who just seems bent on, NOT being a people person themselves. It’s then I’m really tested.
Jesus mapped out the basic premise as to how and what our people skills are to be based upon (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). Some would call it the Golden Rule, yet others are simply unaware that this principle precept even exists. I would go so far as to say that it’s a basic law, not only within Christendom, but within the fellowship of all people.

The “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” has often been taken almost like a lucky rabbit’s foot or some sort of holy talisman that we can “use” when we want to get good or better behavior out of other people, and that is simply not true. Regardless of how kind you are to some folks, they simply will not return in kind, the treatment given to them (ergo the need for Restoration ministry).

So face the fact, even when you treat others well that is no guarantee they will return it to you. But, here is where the “law” portion of this truth stands firm. God the Father observes all our comings and goings, especially those that directly connect with other people. As a result, when we come in contact with persons that are less than Christ-like to us (and they tend to be many), we can rest assured that how WE react toward the other person, is what God is watching. Therefore, the burden of trying to control someone else, for our wellbeing, is released into the hands of the Father, and we can live for Him. Not ourselves or even the other person we’re facing in the moment.

Is that clear as mud? Our efforts at Christ-like behavior, or our desire and efforts to afford the “Golden Rule” principle in our lives, must NEVER be for personal or subjective reasons. For loving others and offering godly kindness (or Fruit of the Spirit) must never be put forward for the sole intent to “get back” some kind of reciprocal good treatment. On the contrary, we are called to “good people skills” for the sake of others, period. And if, and when, we are so blessed to interface with someone of like values or convictions on the matter – it’s likely our kindness WILL BE RETURNED to us. But there is no guarantee.

And that lack of guarantee is exactly what faith in action is all about. We seek to live out good people skills (Galatians 5 and 1 Corinthians 13) and modeled Christ-like behavior for the benefit of others – not self. Albeit, self may garner benefit and blessing from those offers of faith, IT MUST NEVER be the motive that drives us to good treatment of others. Reciprocal good treatment is within the Sovereign Hand of God, and the providential interaction with someone of like precious faith, values and designs.

Good and proper interactions between humans (especially those of Christian faith) should be our desire. To live at peace with others, as much as it is within our power, is a noble and obedient response to a biblical mandate, but never ever forget; The Skill of Being the People of God is far less about us, than it is about others. It is far less about what I want than what God wants and how God wants me to be seen by others. Do they see the peace of God that surpasses all rational understanding of what most humans do in life and crisis, and thereby ask me to share the hope and resource I have with them, so they too can experience that kind of peace; OR NOT?

Improved people skills will bless you, but improved people skills are actually for others. For those who lack in the very disciplines and skill you are cultivating.

Think about it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Don’t Fall Much Anymore

Thirty six years ago I began skateboarding. I doggedly pursued that sport for about the ten years that followed. I even picked it up a bit once I started pastoring as an outreach to young people. I had to stop though, I was getting pretty banged up and the older you get, well you know.

But as I learned this particular sport there was a whole lot of falling going on, especially early on, plus when we started building ramps and taking to the air, lots of falls and many bruises and sprains were the norm. But that’s all part of the learning curve to get where you want to go (with anything in life).

But these days I Don’t Fall Much Anymore. The funny thing is, when I do, I’m preaching at the same time. Now don’t jump to conclusions here. What I’m saying is that because I’m stamped from the same DNA of Adam, my original forefather, I tend to list to the left or right from time to time, and even tend to tip over backwards occasionally. Oh my heart’s desire and life’s plan is to remain upright at all times, but you know, sometimes I fall.

Mind you, the falling has yet to be fatal, but it tends to be when the winds and waves are crashing into me, that it happens. I would like to brag about the fact that I never fall in anyway, but I can’t. So what I can say is this, though I Don’t Fall Much Anymore, when I do I’m sharing the grace of God with others at the same time I’m preaching to my own choir.

Now maybe you’re one of those stellar standing never falling individuals, if so let me step back in awe. But I’m not. For in each day I awake I am keenly aware of the fact that through thoughts, feelings and simple misinterpreted events; I find myself reeling with doubts and fears and then find myself in spiritual, emotional and just plain life gridlock. Oh I don’t want it to be that way, but I’m honest enough to say it happens from time to time.

So what do I do when I find myself slowly tipping one way or another? I speak to myself, and most of all I speak to Jesus. I also, find myself sharing with others the grace that I’ve yet to fully lay hold of myself. And therein lays the image that prompted my thinking on this matter.

It’s like the Nestea plunge and as I’m slowing falling back wards I’m speaking the truth to myself and others even as I plummet. Some might say that’s hypocritical, but I think otherwise. For in the very fact that I admit to my struggles, and that admission comes from the inner most parts of my heart, with honest and holy fear before God and man, I am then able to release the truth of His grace to myself and even those that observe from a distance. Did you get that?

So the next time you feel yourself listing in a direction that just seems like it’s going to end NOT well, know this; that even while you are going down for the moment, you’re not out of the arena of testimony, and thereby you can and will have power to express the truth of God that is NOT predicated upon your ability to stand and NEVER fall, but solely upon Him.

I Don’t Fall Much Anymore, but when I do, I am not silent. For the Message that is in me, and that has provided for me, the rebound of Resurrection power; He delights when I bounce back and keep on going!

Think about it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

When Bad Posture is Good

I’ll never forget the first time my dad spoke to the issue of my poor posture when I was a young teenager. Of course it didn’t help that we kids back then shoved our hands deep into our pockets and shuffled around in our tattered bell bottoms in a lazy and hunched over manner (much like modern day gamers hunch). My dad was right to tell me to straighten up, in more ways than one.

Now mind you my dad was very aware of people’s posture and the straightness of their backs because he suffered greatly with a severe case of scoliosis, due to the fact that he contracted Polio when he was a child, and unfortunately he lived with little to no treatment for his malady. So from early on in his life he had a football sized hump on one side of his back and fought off pain and a slouch all of his adult life until his death.

But let me ask you; is there ever a time When Bad Posture is Good posture?

And I would tell you the answer is yes; when that posture is broken and humbled before our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That’s right. Some of the most awesome times of connection and intimacy with Jesus are when we are found with poor posture as we hang our heads in deep felt humility before our King. Oh this type broken and bent posture is not for self-effacement alone, for that in itself has never moved the Hand of Mercy, but for the total and confident understanding that He alone holds the key to our healing, our forgiveness, our restoration and our victory over all things – including sin and ourselves.

Let me add a parenthesis to my point. Because I know some of you will already be mentally citing Hebrews 4:16, especially you KJV folks and its use of the word “boldly” when describing a believers approach to God’s throne, and with that I do not disagree. But I will say that holy boldness and holy humility go hand in hand. Without holy boldness, one with a broken posture might only get so far before they feel the sting and reprisal of self, sin, and satanic condemnation. Therefore the author of Hebrews reminds us of the confidence or boldness that we are to approach our God, despite our past or present condition or circumstances.

Yet in like manner we must also possess holy humility when we approach, for no one with vain or provocative bravado will EVER EVEN get close to His glory, let alone His mercy for help in time of need. For we know He gives grace to the humble, but he resists or opposes even the slightest hint of pride. Therefore one must be both humble and bold at the same time. The boldness demonstrates our belief (faith) and understanding of the magnitude of His grace as our single resource. And our humility of state and posture is our overt and visible confession of the truth from within; that says “without Him we are but dust, lost, hopeless and paralytic”. Our humble yet bold estate before Him comprises the perfect synergy of all the elements creation and Creator are united in.

So as I close my thoughts on this subject that my heart longs for more than anything, let me ask you: How’s your posture these days?

Remember, When Bad Posture is Good, others may frown and speculate, but He’ll never will.