Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Daily Digest #170

He . . . sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. —Isaiah 40:22

Many times I have been reminded to view things at a different perspective. Whenever I feel my problems are huge, I later realize that I only forget to pray. My worries exceed the length of my prayers that I end up worrying more. I also realize that it's not the length of prayer either, but the depth of it. A shallow one only makes my mind wander more, and the essence of talking to God is lost. A heart and mind geared towards God allows us to look in His eyes -- where problems seem small and insignificant, and blessings overflow.

For this, let us pray... May we look up to God so we could change our perspective on things. Two weeks in the Philippines have changed my views on different things. But He kept on reminding me how He is always in control, and that I can only use the blessings I have to do my part for the time He has given me. May we believe that we are being molded so that one day, we may see Jesus Christ in the face of others, and Him in us. Pray always.


What's Your Excuse?

The lazy person is full of excuses, saying, "If I go outside, I might meet a lion in the street and be killed!" Proverbs 22:13 (NLT)
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It's rare to find people today who are willing to take complete responsibility for their actions. In the victimization that's present in our culture, our problems are always someone else's fault.

You can blame whoever you want – the government, your parents, the school you went to, television, your boss, or the rest of society. There's no need for you to feel bad; anywhere you look there are people to blame.

Sometimes our excuses are quite humorous. Consider these actual statements given to insurance companies by people involved in car accidents:

·"In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole!"
·"Coming home, I drove into the wrong driveway and hit a tree I don't have."
·"The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him."
·"I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment."
·"I was on the way to the doctor's office with rear-end trouble when my universal joint gave way, causing me to having an accident."
·"I had been driving my car for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident."
·"The telephone poll was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end."
·"The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him!"

Silly? Yes. But so are some of the excuses we offer, instead of taking responsibility for our mistakes, failures, and sins.

The Bible says, "The lazy person is full of excuses" (Proverbs 22:13 NLT). Ben Franklin once observed, "The person who is good at excuse-making is seldom good at anything else."

Living the 'Good Life'

For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

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A few years ago the planned community of Mission Viejo, California launched an advertising campaign to attract home buyers. They used phrases like "Mission Viejo: the California Promise" and "The place to live the Good Life." Although "the Good Life" is a well-worn phrase in our culture, I wonder how many people have ever stopped to define what exactly it is.

For some people the Good Life is confused with looking good. They are preoccupied with appearance, as if that is all that really matters in life. In America our culture idolizes beauty and puts a premium on being attractive. Advertisers capitalize on this knowing that the promise of "looking good" causes us to spend billions on beauty products, tanning salons, plastic surgery, liposuction, custom color coordination, and the latest styles in clothing.

For others the Good Life is confused with feeling good. Their goal is the minimization of pain and the maximization of pleasure, and they will use whatever it takes to achieve it: hot tubs, Disneyland, cocaine, virtual reality, world travel, the latest movie. The pleasure and entertainment industry is now the largest industry in America. The old 60's phrase, "If it feels good, do it" has become the modus operandi for much of our society.

For others the Good Life is confused with having the goods. Their chief ambition is to collect all the goods and goodies of life. They make as much as they can and spend it as fast as they can.

ome honestly identify their values with bumper stickers that say "The one with the most toys wins." Others are not that brazen but they still believe that the Good Life is something that can be bought.

The truth is: none of these things ultimately satisfy.

·No matter what you do, you can't stop the aging process.
·Pleasure is a by-product of the Good Life, not the goal of it.
·The greatest things in life are not things!

So what is the Good Life? It is the personal fulfillment and joy that comes from being good and doing good. It is the result of discovering and becoming exactly what God created you to be. Nothing else will fill that void in your soul.

The Bible says this: "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).

When you use your life to help others, to do good, and to know and trust God, you will feel good about yourself. That is the Good Life. Don't let anybody con you into thinking it is something else!

Beware of Shortcuts
People with integrity have firm footing, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall. Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

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A few summers ago my family took a car vacation. We loaded up our van and headed out for an adventure. Our only goal was to see the western half of the United States. By the end of our two week trip, we'd put over 5,000 miles on the odometer.

For most of the trip we simply focused on enjoying the journey rather than rushing toward a destination. But in one of the states we traveled through (which will remain unnamed) we were so bored with the scenery that I got the bright idea of taking a shortcut to the next major town.

Looking at the map, the road for the shortcut appeared just fine – a straight shot to the next town. It could save us about an hour of traveling time. So we got off the beaten path and took the alternate route.

Big mistake! The road was fraught with difficulties:

· Construction work ...
· A line of slow trucks that we couldn't pass ...
· Cattle (then sheep) in the middle of the road ...
· Potholes the size of meteor craters ... and
· No gas station or restroom!

The bottom line: my proposed shortcut ended up taking longer, we nearly ran out of gas, and I had a very cranky family!

The lesson: Shortcuts are not always as good as they may seem. Sometimes the shortest distance to a goal is NOT a straight line.

We're often tempted to cut corners in order to speed things up or make a greater profit. But ethical shortcuts or short-changing someone else will always come back to haunt us. The Bible warns us: "People with integrity have firm footing, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall" (Proverbs 10:9 NLT).

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