Live Today Deliberately

A Daily Thought Provoker Quote
from Heart & Path Journal at HeartPathJournal.net
Online Publications of David J. Hall

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“Live life today the way you will be glad you lived it when you get to Heaven.”

( David J. Hall )

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#PastorsTip #DTP

Love vs Hate

A Daily Thought Provoker Quote
from Heart & Path Journal at HeartPathJournal.net
Online Publications of David J. Hall

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“We often mistakenly believe that the opposite of love is hate. But I believe that is incorrect. The opposite of loving others is being self-centered. If your focus is always on yourself, you will never be able to build positive relationships.”

( John Maxwell / “Winning With People” )

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#PastorsTip #DTP

Beyond Cultural Christianity

Being a member of a good local Christian church, or being a frequent attender, it’s a good thing… but it’s not the primary thing.

Liking and participating in a good church because you want your children to go to Sunday School like you did as a child, to have some connection to a faith system that they can run to when they hit hard times in life, these are good things… but it’s not the primary thing.

Joining the church choir because you have an interest and a talent in choral music, or you play a musical instrument and you like the wholesome atmosphere in which to develop and use your art, these are good things… but it’s not the primary thing.

Perhaps you have entered the ministry because you enjoy counseling and teaching, you have a knack for the intellectual atmosphere that some denominations have developed over their many years of study and you enjoy the predictability of the practice of traditions, these are good things… but it’s not the primary thing.

Or, perhaps you entered the ministry in a more Charismatic setting because your personality fits right in to an arena of creative expression in preaching, in music, and in the arts. These are good things… but it’s not the primary thing.

So what is this PRIMARY thing? Jesus spoke of it many times, and we will look at a couple of them.

The setting for this example is in the home of Martha who had a sister named Mary. Martha was very busy being the hostess preparing food and refreshments and serving her guests. Her sister Mary though wasn’t helping her serve, she instead was sitting at the feet of a special guest, Jesus, listening to His every word as He spoke to everyone.

Martha was so upset at Mary’s neglect of helping that she even asked her special guest to scold Mary for not being busy. Jesus however said something in return that likely made Martha upset, but likely made Mary feel encouraged:

“And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”

~ Luke 10:38-42

There are a lot of needful people and situations that we can spend every waking moment to serve and solve, and all of that service is good.

Mary, however, had recognized and chosen the PRIMARY thing: Being close to Jesus and taking to heart His every word.

  • Martha was serving Jesus, but Mary was encountering Jesus.
  • Martha was doing good things, but Mary was foremost doing the PRIMARY thing.
  • Martha was being hospitable to Jesus in her home, Mary was being hospitable to Jesus in her heart.
  • Martha was concerned about what her guests might think of her less-than-perfect hospitality, Mary was concerned with what Jesus wanted to do in her own life.
  • Martha recognized the special influence Jesus had in their social gathering, Mary recognized the special influence Jesus was having in her own heart and soul.
  • Martha was good at seeing people’s needs and recruiting others to jump-in, Mary was good at seeing the PRIMARY need and personally drawing near to Jesus for fulfillment.

The setting for this next example is based in the future. Jesus prophesied that on the Final Day when each person has their “day in court” before Him in Heaven to give an account for their soul, there will be those who will have been like Martha, but sadly never like Mary. They will have spent their life-strength in pursuit of really good works for their own salvation instead of spending all their strength in pursuit of knowing Jesus personally.

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’”

~ Matthew 7:22-23

Really good works are never enough to erase our sin. When we do really good works with the motive of someday saying to Jesus, “Look at how much good I’ve done. I’ve cleaned myself up and reversed my life’s course to do good instead of bad,” our good works become evil because our motive was to exclude Jesus from our inmost being.

When Jesus will say, “I never knew you,” He will not be speaking of knowing about them informationally; He will be speaking of knowing them relationally.

So, today as you consider your own life, are you a Martha or a Mary? (Men, don’t fall into the trap of pushing this example aside based on Jesus’ use of the female gender to illustrate His point. His point is for both genders equally!)

Are you a pastor, minister, or priest that has given your life sacrificially to do magnificently good things in serving the needs of others, even in the name of Christ? I beseech you to make sure that you not only know the right doctrines about Christ, but that Christ knows you on the personal level, that your salvation is based upon Him knowing you relationally and that your great good works are simply the discharge of your ministry duties done in love for God and humanity.

Let’s be sure we have the PRIMARY thing activated and is being cultivated before we engage in seasons of practical and sacrificial service.

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#PastorsTip #Luke10 #Matthew7 #Mary #Martha #Jesus #Ministry #GoodWorks #Salvation #KnownByChrist #Relationship #Personally #Pastor #Priest #Minister

Spousal Appreciation Renewal

A couple may be dependable, faithful, and loving to one another, and yet it is within this context that Appreciation can still deteriorate to mere Expectation.

Appreciation is a positive feeling of gratitude that we experience when our spouse does something for us that we do not [secretly or openly] demand of them in our relationship. Even the smallest of things can result in a sizable positive feeling of gratitude.

Expectation is when we [secretly or openly] demand something to be done for us because of the relationship. Unfulfilled expectations are a bitter feeling that we experience when our spouse does not fulfill our [secret or open] demands. Completely fulfilled Expectations never produce the same feelings as Appreciation, at best they trigger a neutral bland feeling, which makes the relationship feel blah.

As for my use of the term “demand,” some would resist the thought that they demand anything in their relationship. Well, let them tell themselves that the next Valentines Day, Birthday, and Christmas when their spouse suggests that no “gifts” be given to each other on those occasions.

Some might say that gifts on those special days are tradition and not their “demand” of the relationship. Again, if they did not receive gifts on those special days, would their feelings be neutral, or that of bitterly unfulfilled and slighted?

My point here is simple, and it’s not to point the finger. It is however to shine a flashlight so that we can see ourselves in the dark mirror and be genuinely honest with what we see in ourselves. If we are feeling gratitude as a direct result of our relationship, we are likely people of Appreciation and our spouse is free of our [secret or open] demands called Expectations.

I have looked in the mirror and have seen a change within me that I want to make. I want to starve, uproot, and burn my tree of Expectation; I want to plant, nurture, and be blessed by a tree of Appreciation. If we are cultivating two trees in our heart at the same time, both Appreciation and Expectation, the Expectation tree will soon overpower the Appreciation tree. We must eradicate (with extreme prejudice!) our own trees of Expectations.

The Book of Proverbs speaks directly to many matters of the heart, including those of married couples. Here is a passage that speaks to us directly as couples; it isn’t only referring to physical intimacy, but to the big picture of keeping the relationship fresh throughout the years of living life together:

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.”

~ Proverbs‬ ‭5:18-19‬

In nature, most trees absorb carbon dioxide and other potentially harmful gasses from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.

In our analogy, the trees of Appreciation absorb potentially harmful feelings such as unfulfilled expectations, and release gratitude into the atmosphere of the marriage. If in nature one tree can provide oxygen for four people, think of how rich the atmosphere of a home will be if there are two trees of Appreciation for just two people!

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#PastorsTip #Proverbs5 #Appreciation #Expectation #Gratitude #Unfulfilled #Fulfilled #Marriage #Relationships

The Adrenaline of Relational Conflict

Do you have a loved one who seems to always be in the midst of a relational crisis with some or all of those around them? (Or, maybe you are that person that is in constant crisis?)

It is possible that your loved one is an “Adrenaline Junkie,” someone who is in constant search of situations (consciously or subconsciously) that will trigger their own brain and body to release adrenaline into their system.

More commonly the Adrenaline Junkies we might hear about are those who go skydiving, bungee jumping, or engage in other risky activities. The videos of their adventures that are broadcast in the media are quite often very popular because their audience members themselves (like me) often have some adrenaline release triggered in their own bodies just by viewing their risky activities.

Adrenaline is a powerful body-produced hormone that has great benefits and pleasurable effects. It’s release into our system should be managed by each person through living in godliness and wisdom. However, as with most anything in life, it can become highly abused and become an addiction to which we can become enslaved.

Many of the “works of the flesh” listed in the scriptures involves the abuse of our body’s ability to trigger the release of adrenaline into our system. Adrenaline in and of itself is a very good God-designed and God-given hormone for our body’s functions and enjoyment, but when we mismanage its use we can become addicted and enslaved by it. It is this ungodly mismanagement and abuse of adrenaline that can be referred to as “works of the flesh.”

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

… The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

‭~ Galatians‬ ‭5:16-21‬

As for conflicts in relationships, most everyone does not consciously create conflict for the purpose of an adrenaline rush. While other factors are often involved too, things like an illicit romantic affair, being intensely argumentative, secretive gambling, and other vices that are relationship stressors that one “falls into” usually has at its core a desire to “feel alive again,” which usually translates to a subconscious craving for an “adrenaline fix.”

A marriage relationship where a couple does not “feel alive” basically comes down to the lack of either spouse triggering any adrenaline release in the other, like they did early in their relationship. Let’s remember, adrenaline is good for a marriage, if it is triggered in agreement with scriptural wisdom, and not by means of conflict.

We would be wise to consciously discern the true reason behind any conflict that arises in our own life, or the life of a loved-one. A heart that is sincerely surrendered to Christ will be willing to see the truth, regardless of what it might truly be… even if He reveals a “relational conflict adrenaline junkie.”

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#PastorsTip #Galatians5 #Relationship #Conflict #Adrenaline #Junkie #Marriage #FeelAliveAgain

Flourish in Any Trial

What kind of environment do you find yourself living in? Is it overwhelming at times due to strained relationships with loved ones, or chronic health issues that induce pain and isolation, or a financial drought where expenses are increasing through no fault of your own, or your place of ministry has become a desert instead of the oasis it used to be for you?

Trials of these kinds are common, very common, but pointing that out doesn’t take the pain away, does it? No, but we can’t live life by allowing pain of some kind to be our navigator or captain. We must endure, persevere, and be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

( James 1:12 )

The greatest fears during trials are not just related to pain (physical, emotional, mental), but include anxiety of losing the ability to flourish in life.

My friend, as a child of God who has committed your life to Him for all of eternity, He knows how to take care of you in this world. Your trials of today, though the enemy designed them for maximum destructive power in your life, will not result in your destruction.

God is active and present on the scene, and He will make use of these same trials to prune some branches in your heart and soul. Pruned trees make for fruitful trees… very fruitful trees!

Persevere. Endure. Collaborate with God in accordance with the scriptures, His Word. And, in the midst of the fiery trials always remember to cultivate the joy of your salvation.

“But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your loving kindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress.”‭‭

( Psalms‬ ‭59:16‬ )

#PastorsTip