Believer or Disciple?

a man praying before a mealAre you a believer? Do you believe that Jesus is God? If so, how many points does that give you? Where does that belief put you with God? How does that measure up in your relationship with God?

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

So even the demons believe that Jesus is God, so how does that square with being a believer? You hear people say that all the time, “I’m a believer”.

Let me ask you a more important question! (Are You A Disciple Of Jesus?)

Well, I guess we should determine what a disciple is to determine if we are one or not?

Harper’s Bible Dictionary describes a disciple as an apprentice or pupil attached to a teacher or movement; one whose allegiance is to the instruction and commitments of the teacher or movement.

Does that describe your relationship with Christ?

So, above we see that a disciple is not just a believer, but he’s an avid learner and imitator of his teacher. Are you and avid leaner and imitator of Christ?

What did Jesus say about being a disciple?

Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

Are you in training? Do you have the peace of God?  Are you investing yourself and time? Are you, am I like our Teacher? Do we emulate Him, do we speak His words, and do we act as He did?

Part of being a disciple is being like what Paul talked about in Romans 8:29: For whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, …

To be a disciple then, we must be emulating and conforming to the image of Christ. Are we doing that?

I would be lying to say I was a perfect disciple. I can assure you I don’t always speak His words, or act the way He would in all situation. What I can tell you is when I fail; I get up, brush myself off, and move forward. I want to be like my Savior, but He is a hard act to follow.

Do you have a strong desire to follow Jesus and become like Him? Unless you do, the scriptures say we can’t truly be His disciple!

So, what is something that might identify us as disciples? Let’s take a look at some scriptures on that.

John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.

Do we abide in Jesus? Do we accept and act in accordance with His word and His will; not just with lip service, but with action?

James 1:22-25 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

A doer isn’t someone who just hears and believes something, a doer is someone who takes what he learns and does something with it.

So, what’s another way to measure whether we are a disciple of Jesus?

John 13:34-35 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Sometimes people aren’t very lovable, but Christ doesn’t say anything about only loving the lovable. Also, this is not an emotional love He’s talking about, but a charitable love; a loving in spite of.

As a disciple we’re supposed to follow Christ’s example. People will know and judge us according to our actions, and how we treat others. What are your actions telling others?

Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself falling short as a disciple, we all fall short more often than we’d care to admit. But, being a disciple isn’t a matter of getting everything perfect, it’s a mindset and commitment to emulate the one you follow.

Isn’t it the same in life when learning a skill? Those who truly want to succeed in life, in relationships, in business or some career must have a disciple’s commitment in their learning.

There is no greater calling to me than to be a disciple of Christ. That doesn’t mean that your whole life is about reading the bible, and spending hours in prayer each day. Some are called to evangelize or preach so most of their time will be serving the church. Others are called to write, or to be activists for just causes; they are called to devote time and study to that calling. Some are blessed with financial success so that they may help others in that way.

Being a disciple of Christ is about the heart. If you feel you are having problems with your heart, ask God to be your cardiologist, and make it right.

Why Do We Tear Others Down?

Photo by  EngelFish

Photo by EngelFish

What is it about people that they feel such a compulsion to talk about and tear down others? What pleasure do we derive by gossiping about co-workers, bosses, Hollywood celebrities and sometimes even friends? Pull up just about any news site and there is no shortage of salacious stories, and gossip telling us about someone in Hollywood doing things that are really none of mine or anyone’s business.

So why do we do it? What possible benefit can we derive from it? There are probably many reasons, but I think a big one is the same reason people bully others. When we tear someone down it makes us seem a little superior to them. So many of us struggle with self-worth issues that we are willing to do almost anything to show ourselves valuable or important to others.

I don’t know about you, but I have never once listened to someone tear down someone else and said to myself, “Boy, I’m really impressed with you”. It’s like intentionally hitting your hand with a hammer to get attention; you’ll get attention alright, but your hand is going to be mangled. And that’s exactly what happens with your reputation. When you run around gossiping or speaking evil of others your reputation will be mangled.

Give me a couple hours of hearing someone complain about their life or other people, and I feel exhausted. Give me a couple hours around positive people who are doing things with their life, and I’m on fire and ready to take on the world.

So what is it you want in your life? Do you want to spend your life always putting others down, and looking for ways that you’re better than them? Do you really want to waste your time finding fault and being a busy-body? When you break it down and look at it in that context, I think you will agree that that kind of life is not one that most of us want to aspire to.

When all is said and done, don’t we all just want to be happy? Don’t we all just want to be liked and appreciated by others? To be happy and to have friends, you have to be a friend to others. To be appreciated, you have to become the kind of person people appreciate. That is not a gossip or someone who speaks evil of others.

In “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie says, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” You’ll notice that it doesn’t say anything about tearing others down, but by becoming interested in them. By finding the good in them.

Show a genuine interest in what someone else has to say, even if it’s not a topic you’re interested in, and you will see their face light up. Greet people with a genuine smile, and most of the time you will have that smile returned to you.

Be nice to people, and most will be nice to you. Be a trustworthy friend, and you will be admired and appreciated. Talk bad about people and the only friends you’ll have are other people who like to gossip and tear people down.

Start looking for the good in people, and you will find yourself much happier. It’s easy to find fault in people, because were all human and filled with faults. But there is also lots of good in each of us, and when you look for and focus on that good, your life becomes so much better and happier.

In parting, I would like to share this quote.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain–and most do.” ~~ Dale Carnegie

Why Isn’t Life Working The Way You Hoped?

feast sunsetWhy is it so many of us never seem to get to where we want to be in life? What is it that keeps us from reaching our dreams? Why is it that so many of God’s children have so little belief in their potential?

Can you imagine if God saw us like many of us see ourselves? What chance would any of us have making it into His Kingdom? God wants us to dream, and to go after those dreams. He wants us to be lights and to help lift and build others. But I have to ask, how can we be lights, or help lift and build others when we don’t believe in our own God given potential?

If God gives us a gift and we don’t exercise that gift to help serve others, then we squander that gift. Self-doubt and negative thinking is polar opposite to what God wants for us, but it plagues so many of us. I say that from experience. We dream of being a writer, a musician or whatever, but self-doubt and negative thinking tell us we don’t have what it takes. Why do we listen?

If you have children, do you judge and see them according to their shortcomings, or do you see the great value and potential in them? Why do we not cut ourselves the same slack that we cut for our children and others?

We get stuck listening to negative chatter and forget that God has a plan for each of us. We just need to start seeing ourselves they way He does.

With that said, I’d like to share The Tale of Three Trees with you. It’s an awesome parable that shows God has a special plan for each of us. When we don’t see ourselves as God sees us, we hamstring that plan. God wants us to be successful in all parts of our lives, but we have to remove the self-imposed shackles we put on ourselves.

Drink in this parable and see if it doesn’t help you see things a bit differently.

‘The Tale of Three Trees’

Three little trees stood high upon a mountain discussing their dreams for the future. The first little tree looked up at the dazzling night sky and said, “I want to carry the treasure of kings and queens. I want to be beautiful. I want to be filled with all the riches in the world.”

The nearby stream caught the second little tree’s eye. “I want to be a mighty sailing vessel,” he said. “I want to sail in the roaring oceans, roam the high seas, and deliver kings and queens safely to their destinations.”

The third little tree loved the mountaintop. “I want to stay right here and grow and grow and grow,” she said. “I want the people that pass by to look at me touching heaven and think of God.”

One day, many years later, three lumberjacks came to help the three trees with the next season of their lives.

The first tree, now beautiful, was cut down. “I will become the most beautiful treasure chest,” he thought. “I will get to hold all of the world’s riches.”

The mighty second tree was cut down. “I will now sail the roaring oceans,” thought the second tree. “I will be the mightiest of all sailing vessels.”

The third tree, with her branches stretched toward heaven, was also cut down. Together with the other two trees, she was taken down the lovely hillside.

The first tree arrived at a carpenter’s shop. The beautiful tree was aglow with excitement. But he wasn’t made into a treasure chest. The skillful carpenter made the beautiful tree into an ordinary feeding trough.

The second tree was brought to a shipyard. The mighty second tree thought, “Now I will be the most vigorous of vessels.” But the strong second tree was made into a simple little fishing boat.

The third tree was brought to a lumberyard. There she was made into beams and put aside. “Why did this happen?” thought the third tree. “All I ever wanted was to touch heaven.”

As the weeks passed, their dreams began to fade from memory. However, one magical night brought the first tree’s dream to life. A young mother put her newborn into the trough.

“This manger is perfect,” said the mother to her husband. And the first tree knew he was cradling the most important treasure ever.

One night the fishing boat was used by a tired traveler and his friends. They quickly fell asleep, and the small boat floated out to sea. The sea became rough, and a thunderstorm was brewing. This frightened the second tree. If only he were a mighty vessel and could withstand the force of the storm!

The traveler was awakened by the storm, and he stretched out his arms and said, “Peace.” The sea became calm and the thunderstorm vanished. It was then that the second tree realized he was carrying the Almighty King.

One morning, the third tree was taken by soldiers and carried through a hostile mob. She trembled with fear and distaste as a man’s hands were nailed to her. But three days later the sun rose. The earth was full of joy. She realized that everything had changed because of God’s love.

The first tree was made beautiful.

The second tree was made mighty.

The third tree made people think of God.

We need to start seeing ourselves through spiritual eyes the way God sees us. If He has called us to a better way, who are we to doubt that calling? Who are we to not strive to be and do our best at what God has called us to do? So, what will become of your tree?

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Ya, BUT

man and woman arguingI attended a communications seminar some time back that had us do a very different kind of exercise.  The object of the exercise was to try and convince someone that our idea was better than their’s without using the word “But”.  So you couldn’t say anything like, “ya, I see your point, BUT, bla, bla, bla.

Now, if you’ve ever tried to do this, you know it can be quite the challenge.  “But” is the word we almost always lead off with when we are trying to tell someone that our way or idea is better than theirs.  Now, we might very well have the better idea, but as soon as we throw the word “But” into the conversation it’s an uphill battle to wrangle the other person to you side of the issue.  Now, if your a parent or boss, you can pull if off, and get your way, but you won’t get genuine agreement, just submission.  That’s not leadership, it’s bullying.

Part of being a good leader or even just a good communicator is to win folks over to your way of thinking while showing them appreciation and respect for their point of view.   Of course, there is always the possibility, if we will take the time to listen to another’s view or idea, we might find their’s is better.  BUT, that’s another subject all together. :)

I have learned from experience that “Butting” others before fully hearing them out and showing respect for their ideas will make you a loser even if you win the battle.  Now there are some folks who will disagree with you no matter how tactful or right you are, and there’s nothing you can do or change about that.  “But”  there really is a better way of getting people over to your side while still liking and respecting you.

So, how might one pull off this feat of communications magic you’re asking?  It’s really easier than you might think.

1.  Listen to what they have to say before trying you share your better idea.

2.  Show a genuine respect and interest in their idea.  Even if it’s not a great idea you still need to be nice and appreciate others ideas.

3.  Repeat their idea back to them as you understand it, and make sure you do understand what they’re saying.

4.  Tell them you appreciate their idea and it’s definitely something that should be considered, then ask them what they think of your idea.

Now, if you truly have the better idea and have explained that idea clearly, there’s a good chance you will win them over. You will have showed them their idea is important to you, which means they are important to you.  Who doesn’t want to be thought of in that way?

The way I might put it in a conversation is, “That’s really a good idea, and I can see that.”  So, let me ask you what do you think about an idea I had for the situation”?  Then of course, explain your idea.  You will have made them feel good about the fact that their idea was important to you, and most people will want to reciprocate that good feeling .  Then like I said, if your idea is the better one, there’s a good chance you will have won them over to your way of thinking.

Give it a try and see if you don’t get more people agreeing with you.

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Just Be Nice

Photo by am4ndas

Photo by am4ndas

Sometimes being nice can be a tall order. Of course, it’s rather easy when all
is well, and others are being nice to you. The challenge comes when things
aren’t really working out the way you’d like, or when others are being less
than nice to you. What do you do in those cases?

Well, if you’re human, you’ve probably done your fair share of not being very
nice at times. If you have chosen a life of walking with God, those instances
should become fewer and fewer.

It takes a lot of character and self-control to be nice when others aren’t being
so nice to you, or life is dealing you a tough hand. I can tell you I failed miserably
at being nice not too long ago when I was dealing with a blown engine.

Well, because of what I felt was a car companies bad warranty policy, any
unfortunate employee that had to deal with me, was not experiencing my nice side.
I was stressed, I was aggravated, and I wanted everyone there to know it.
Instead of following Solomon’s admonition in Proverbs I did just the opposite,
and strove with people who had done me no harm.

Proverbs 3:30 says, “Do not strive with a man without cause, If he has done you
no harm”. Well, although the company is still at the top of my “you know what
list”, the people on the phone had done me no harm, and didn’t deserve my ire.
I’ve reflected on that a lot lately, and hope to be a better example of a godly
man next time.

Have you ever ordered something on line and have the wrong item sent to you? How
did you act? Were you calm and friendly on the phone while straitening things
out, or did you tell them just how inept they and the company were for sending
the wrong item? I’ve done both and found people to be much more helpful when I
was nice life throws me a curve ball.

The saying you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar is true; and we
would all find our lives filled with much fewer arguments, less stress, and more
joy if we would all be a little nicer.

So what can we all do to be a little nicer when in a challenging situation?

1. We can all take a moment and think before we speak, it takes practice, but
can be done, and pays huge dividends.

2. We can put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and try to see things from
their perspective.

3. We can practices being nicer in tough situation by visualizing challenging
scenarios and see ourselves acting in a better way.

4. We can talk to God at the beginning of our day and ask Him for His peace
which surpasses all understanding so we will be prepared when those challenging
times come.

5. Or you can do as I’ve been doing lately, and tell yourself all throughout
the day to be nice. When someone whips out in front of me in traffic, I bite my
lip a little and tell myself to be nice. When someone does something I don’t
like I tell myself to be nice. The funny thing is as I’m doing this, I’m really
starting to feel nicer and happier, and much more able to deal with those less than ideal situations.
Just food for thought!

May God’s peace be upon you, and may you find yourself being nicer to all.

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