Have You Been Noticed Lately?

27 08 2018

My grandson often repeats, “Papaw, did you see me…” or, “Watch me…” You can fill in the blank with almost anything he does or desires to be noticed doing.  It can be a really small thing, however he still longs to be observed.  He lives for that voice of approval and praise.  It’s a child thing, right

 

Actually it’s a people thing.  Do you desire your spouse to notice you?  How about your boss?  Do you like it when your teacher notices your extra effort or when your neighbor compliments you on your landscaping?

 

Here is the troubling thing in longing to be noticed.  If it’s simply all about me, then I can’t be noticed enough. If being noticed connects to my personal need for security or affirmation, I can’t get enough.  In my desire to build some level of esteem, my need becomes insatiable.  

 

Did you know that God notices you?  Why wouldn’t He, He created you.  He longed for your time to be born.  He has always had a plan and a desire for your life.  He has never given up on you and He is continually watching you, noticing you and delighting in you.  All other approval can become lost and we can become deeply discouraged in our self-effort to be noticed, but He waits to show you His love and His approval.

 

No spouse, no child and no parent can satisfy your longing to be noticed. However, God knew you before you were even found in your mother’s womb. (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:4) You have His eye!

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How Often Are You Phubbing?

20 08 2018

There’s a new word in town. Have you heard of it?  That word is a combination of two words: phone + snubbing = phubbing.  Do you know a “phubber?”  How would one know if this describes them?  You can start by asking your friends.  Ask your spouse or even better, ask your children.  If people in your life are trying to get your attention while you’re looking down at a small hand-held screen all too frequently, you just might have a phubbing problem.

 

The actual definition goes like this: the habit of snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone. I’m not kidding. Google it. Seems odd to be writing about this subject, but it is a reality in our technology crazed world today.  Airport travelers run into me while walking and looking down at their phone.  It’s tough getting someone’s attention that actually works in a service department while they’re glued to their mobile screen.  We can forever notice how face-to-face relationships have taken a back seat to an email, a text message or a Facebook prompt.  It’s not unusual to hear bells, whistles, buzzes and other such prompts from mobile devices while in a meeting.

 

But here’s who I really feel for.  I am genuinely concerned for the children of the phubber.  These children are pulling on their parents’ arms, legs, saying “Mommy/Daddy” repeatedly, asking questions, trying to converse and the adults are either not responding or saying, “Wait a minute would you?  I have to finish this text message.”  I just want to scream, “PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN AND LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD!”  You brought them into the world to teach, train, listen to, care for, play with and love. PLEASE put your device aside and interact with your child.

 

Not too long ago I was watching the parents on the sidelines of a younger children’s sporting event. Parents, not too far back in the history of parents attending their child’s sports activity, would actually watch their kids on the playing field, yell and scream words of motivation and affirmation. Today, they’re looking down, addicted to a device that is causing them to miss watching their children grow up. And when that child asks, “Daddy did you see me…?” You can fill in the blank. That parent will lie and say, “Yea buddy, you were great!”

 

One day those same children will have their own device and then the snubbing of a parent will quickly and sometimes, most deservedly take place.





Those Little Irritants in Life

30 07 2018

I was awake at 3:30 AM in order to catch an early morning flight.

Almost immediately after boarding the plane, the gentleman behind me started snoring LOUDLY.  About every minute or so, he would catch his breath and then suddenly make a sound like a neighing horse.  This went on for the full 35-minute flight.  So happy he could get some sleep, BECAUSE NO ONE AROUND HIM DID!

 

On my next leg of the journey, the gentleman beside me decided that he needed more and more seat space.  After five and a half hours, I was half way into the aisle getting my elbow hit by the drink cart. 

 

Life can be full of these kinds of little irritants.  They’re inconvenient, uncomfortable and, well, down right uncalled for sometimes.  And yet, it’s not fully the experience as much as it is a test.  It’s a test of what we tell ourselves, our self-talk. It ‘s a test of personal frustration levels.  It’s a test of the amount of compassion in our heart.  And it can be a test of how much grace we walk in.

 

We like things our way – the convenient, comfortable way.  But that’s just not real life is it?  So here’s a tip when one of those life inconveniences comes you way: pray and give thanks.

 

“Thank you, Father, that I can be on this plane to minister Your life to those that You have assigned to me.”

 

It will keep your heart right.  Besides, the next time you become an inconvenience or an irritant to someone, you’ll hope they took the aforementioned advice.

 

PS  On the final leg of my journey, I was given a free upgrade to first class…”Thank you, Father for this comfortable seat.”





I Catch Only Green Lights

16 07 2018

There was a study conducted by professor emeritus Robert Rosenthal of Harvard University in which he told elementary school teachers that some of their students were “intellectual bloomers.”  Then the teachers were told the students names, who had been randomly selected, and also told that those particular students would excel in the forthcoming year.

 

It was all spurious information and those “bloomers” were actually no different from any other student in the class.  The only difference was their teachers’ expectations and because of that expectation those students did significantly better than the other students by the end of the year.

 

Expectations, we all have them.  I was sitting at a red light one day and queried myself as to why I seem to catch all the red lights.  Immediately I sensed a voice asking, “Do you expect to catch all red lights?”  I knew instantly that the message was about expectations and what I speak over myself.  From that point I changed my speech and declared, as well as thought, I receive mostly green lights.

 

I was telling my wife this story the other day while driving back from Massachusetts and we laughed and laughed as I actually received green light after green light.  Now I am not saying there was any divine intervention on the road with traffic lights, but I am saying my expectations changed, my thoughts changed and my speech changed while there was a necessary shift in my life. It may sound trivial, but I really do believe that our expectations can become self-fulfilling prophecy.

What are you speaking over yourself?





What Seeds Are You Planting in Your Field?

11 06 2018

My lone tomato plant.

I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA where springtime is a frenzied time of planting.  It smells really bad in our county, from one end to the other.  It’s that magical manure being applied to help supply the ground with needed nutrients for the soon-to-be-planted seeds.  The farmers are busy as they move their equipment from winter storage to field after field.  Quite honestly there is no such thing as a lazy farmer; he or she is fully expecting a future crop.  It is why they work so tirelessly day and night.  From our home, we can hear the diesel tractors running through the night and catch their lights shining into our windows.

 

Soybeans and corn just surfacing

I have never met a farmer who doesn’t expect to yield a crop.  They work and labor in anticipation of the forthcoming seed growing into a harvest. And all along the way, there are factors the farmer cannot control, e.g., too much rain, too little rain, wind and even varmints eating the crop.  Every time I witness their faith I think of a verse found in II Corinthians nine, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

 

I am “farming” this year as well.  I have one tomato plant on my front porch.  I am expecting a harvest, albeit a small one. I’ve sown sparingly and I’ll reap what I have sown, a little fruit.  But my farming neighbor is going to reap heaps, truck loads that will fill his barn and his grain elevators.  He will feed his livestock and his family for the coming year because he has sown generously.

 

What seeds are you planting and what size harvest are you anticipating?





8 Reasons Why You Are Not a Victim

4 06 2018

I first wrote this and shared it with a victim of rape. She was deeply hurting, feeling victimized and of course dealing with shame.  If the enemy of our soul can keep us in shame and victimization, he will keep us from future effectiveness.  Perhaps something written below will speak to you and help with something you still feel from your past or maybe a friend is in need of it.

  1. You are not a victim. Victims give up influence and assertion.  Victims do not know who they are because victims are lost in insecurity and suffer a loss of identity. But, because the believer’s identity is not in himself, it is already lost to Christ and the power of His resurrection.  (See II Corinthians 12:9 – His power is made perfect in your weakness.)
  2. God’s plan is victory. Sin is a part of the Genesis three world we live in.  Victory means that God takes the evil of this world and turns it into something victorious.  Being a Christian does not mean we do not experience the evil of this world because it rains on the just and the unjust.  It means God has a bigger plan, a greater story.
  3. You are not responsible for someone else’s sin against you. True guilt leads us to repentance. Shame leads us to condemnation. True guilt followed by true repentance leads to life.  Shame leads to death of one’s spirit and soul.  Shame leaves us feeling exposed, injudicious, inadequate or defective in some way. Shame breeds condemnation and condemnation breeds more shame.  Jesus took our shame on the cross, as well as, our sorrows.  He spoke to you from the cross, “Shame off of you.”  We must ask ourselves: What am I responsible for and what am I not responsible for? What is the responsibility of the offender?  What am I learning about myself through this?
  4. What boundaries did I break or do I need to instill in my life? Perhaps we realize that we broke our own boundaries or had not thought through God’s boundaries.  We need to search His word for His boundaries and His values that He gives us for protection. God’s boundaries are not as the world’s boundaries because He has our best interest in mind.
  5. Do not repress your anger. Often we have a tendency to go inward with our anger after severe hurt(s).  Anger can erupt from feeling powerless and out of control, wanting to “make someone pay”. Allow your anger to be a positive force for healing and personal change.  Anger does not make a better athlete or person, but a more careless one.  If pressed down, it leads to bitterness and self hate.  (See Job 7:11 and Ephesians 4: 26-27 where we are told to not allow our anger to cause us to sin.)  Talk through and work through the anger so you are not stuck in its grip.  Keep moving through the sadness so you can reach the acceptance piece of godly grief.
  6. Obsessions of thought. Watch for thought obsessions turning into actual physical obsessive compulsions.  Maintain life balance through prayer, worship, counseling, talking to parents and trusted friends who are confidential.
  7. Forgiveness pursued. Watch for defense mechanisms, e.g., rationalism, denial, unforgiveness, becoming the fixer or the peacemaker. Matthew 18:21 says to forgive continually.  There is a difference between extending forgiveness and complete forgiveness.  Not forgiving or forgiving only partially will initially cause us to feel power over the perpetrator, but it will only punish us in the end.  Take steps to forgive the perpetrator as God gives you the grace to do so.  Forgive yourself; He has forgiven you.  You cannot change what decisions you made, but you can forgive yourself and move on so you can grow from them.  Forgive God rather than allowing bitterness or anger at God.  Because of Jesus, God understands our disappointment.  Remember Jesus said from the cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
  8. Move on and mature in God. Allow a tragedy to become a springboard for a better future. For example, we will never know why we were born into the family we were born into, but we do know that God has used it to make us who we are today.  (Isaiah 43:2)

You cannot change this situation, but you can let it change you to become more secure, more compassionate, a stronger and more loving person used by God to bring healing to others.





Comparison is a Killer

28 05 2018

I am not totally sure why comparison is so often our human go-to mode.

I’m guessing the experts would have a lot to say on the subject, but the Bible has something to say as well.  It states, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  (II Cor. 10:12)  Pretty straightforward, eh?

 

Some years ago I wrote a tract about developing a child’s self-esteem and started out with the story of Maggie.  I observed that Maggie never combed her hair, brushed her teeth, looked in a mirror or compared herself with anyone.  She was our Labrador Retriever whose full name was Sweet Magnolia of Pheasant Hills, aka Maggie.  She knew who she was, who she was created to be and she knew our unconditional love and acceptance of her.  Perhaps that’s what’s missing in our lives…knowing who we are, what we’re created for and that we’re all unconditionally loved and approved of by our Father in heaven.

 

The Bible says that comparison is unwise. Why? When we compare ourselves to someone else we typically come up short or proud, insignificant or feeling better than another.  Obviously these outcomes are unproductive and self-deprecating.  Comparison is often full of feeling less than, not measuring up or lacking in performance.  Or, it’s full of pride, feeling better than and viewing oneself as more significant than others by out performing.  Crazy thing is it’s all within our own minds.

 

If you have children help them to not compare themselves.  Children have their own unique gifts and talents.  Do not make performance the determining factor of your love, acceptance and approval of them.  Never compare them with their sibling.  Comparison is full of critical judgment and will eventually kill their creativity.

 

Ask God to help you hear your own thoughts of comparison and allow Him to speak truth-filled words over you rather than your own negative or pride-filled mental dialogue.  I wrote another prayer tract called, Who I am in Christ and it is filled with the truth of scripture to help you know whose you are and why you exist so that comparison can end once and for all.








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