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Archive for March, 2014

Most trees don’t develop deep roots unless they have to.

If plants have frequent access to water in the first few feet of soil, the roots spread wide but not deep.

This is why so many trees are toppled in warm climates when hurricanes strike.

But there are a few tree varieties that never topple in the storms.

They might be stripped of leaves or even branches, but the trunk remains.

Why?

Because of deep roots.

The plant kingdom teaches us something else about deep roots.

They are the survival pipeline when droughts hit.

Plants without deep roots dry up and die.

How do deep-rooted plants avoid this outcome?

By having to keep reaching, reaching and reaching with roots until the sustaining water was found.

I have a garden and I have trained my plants to not require watering every day.

Why? Because some days I am just not around to do it and I don’t want them to die as a result.

Listen, we need deep roots of faith because we experience emotional or financial and physical wellness droughts.

Sometimes we’re in a spiritual drought where it seems that blessings are rare and burdens are many.

At such times, our roots can grow deeper through prayer, through Bible study, through worship and through conversation with other believers as we seek after the everflowing Living Water of God’s Truth.

We will feel parched at times. But we will find the purpose of the parching — to deepen our roots in preparation for a more godly life.

We will be on our way toward becoming oaks of righteousness rather than swaying reeds of comfort and convenience.

Here’s the verse from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible that prompted this message:

“The godly have deep roots.” (Proverbs 12:3)

No matter what storms might batter and strip our branches, no matter what droughts shrivel our leaves, let’s remain alive and standing firm because we’ve sent our spiritual roots deep into God’s heart through prayer, worship, study and Christian fellowship.

It’s what godly people do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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As a former business editor for a group of newspapers, I enjoy reading articles regarding workplace relationships and management styles.

I read an article this morning that can have a direct benefit for Christians who practice the lessons described by the author.

Published orginally in Inc. magazine, the article describes seven characteristics of likeable bosses who foster greater productivity among employees.

As I read this list, I was reminded that these same seven characteristics can help Christians to be more likeable in the workplace or schools or neighborhood or at home.

And the more likeable we are, the more “listen-able” we are to the non-Christians around us.

In view of our mission to share faith with others according to the timing and leading of the Holy Spirit, boosting our ability to influence others is a very important thing.

So let’s appy these faith-adapted principles at every opportunity.

1. Be Friendly

Sounds obvious, but simply taking a moment to greet your unsaved friends by name and make small talk with them goes a long way toward increasing your likeability. Be as approachable and accessible as possible. Take time to compliment others and ask them how their day is going. Be patient; remember that it’s important to set aside time for your people, no matter how busy you are. In fact, that busyness — yours and theirs — makes a friendly word even more important.

2. Be Available

Some pretty amazing ideas for life success come from non-Christians, but if the Christians aren’t approachable by non-Christians, most of these ideas will never surface. Non-Christians are more likely to come to share their ideas and potential solutions when their Christians make it clear that they value their others’ opinions and want to hear them. While not every idea is going to be a winner, it’s very much in your interest to hear people out. Showing non-Christians that their opinions and ideas are important to your life is a wonderful way to keep your relationships energized and happy–and boost your likeability along the way.

3. Be Flexible

Life happens, so try to be flexible whenever you can. Decide what rules you will make exceptions for and avoid putting too much stress on the little things. Be understanding when things go wrong, and accept that people make mistakes. Offer second chances whenever possible. Make sure that the work of living and serving gets done, but be flexible when it comes to personal matters, weather, or traffic.

4. Be Positive

Just as negative energy can rub off on others, so can positive energy. While negative emotions on your part tend to create negative outcomes in both your unsaved friends and your organization, positive emotions help your friends open up to a universe of new options and alternatives. Be optimistic and genuine with the people living around you and they will be more likely to react in the same way, making your relationships healthy and constructive.

5. Be Dependable

You need to believe that your non-Christian friends will do the right things at the right time, and they need to be able to depend on you to support them in good times and bad. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, no matter how small. Your unsaved friends must be able to trust you because their future is in your hands. Being an unreliable Christian will result in unhappy and distant relationships with unsaved people who would rather be friends with someone else.

6. Be Grateful

Everyone wants to know how they are doing, so give feedback. Praise is just important as criticism, and you should regularly complement your non-Christian friends for a job well done. As human beings, we subconsciously seek praise in all aspects of our lives, including the job. Show your appreciation in a variety of ways. Keep it fresh and genuine.

7. Be Compassionate

Try to see yourself through your non-Christian friend’s eyes–are you someone you would like? Put yourself in your others’ shoes and have compassion for their trials and tribulations as well as their accomplishments and victories. Having (and showing) true compassion for your non-Christian friends might take effort on your part, but the results will be well worth it. Your people will respect you as a Christian, and they will find you more likeable–increasing their loyalty and effectiveness as a result.

Let’s do our best to apply these principles. There are many people who need close relationships that these measures can help to produce.

As always, I love you
Martin

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A resume is essentially a description of choice outcomes.

If we have a pattern of choosing wisely, it will be reflected on our resumes.

And so it is with our spiritual lives.

Let’s aspire toward a stronger spiritual resume.

Let’s gain and apply more wisdom.

Hundreds of Bible characters and some of our Christian peers provide solid examples of good choices.

Choices rooted in adherence to the pattern of faith taught in biblical wisdom.

I encourage you to read Deuteronomy 6 today. You’ll gain rich wisdom by doing so.

And the fruit of your choice will be a more successful, a more visible faith.

Here’s is Jesus’ view of why wisdom is so important:

“But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.” (Luke 7:35)

Let’s strive to make sure our examples before others are testimonies to the value of wisdom.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We’ve all seen the cartoon drawings of an ostrich hiding its head in the sand and we’ve thought “How foolish.”

If only we’d never been as that ostrich when it came to our attempts to hide from accountability for poor choices.

Oh well. There’s always the opportunity for improvement.

I’m reminded of how Adam tried to hide from God after the tragic decision to believe the serpent rather than to believe God.

As if God couldn’t see through the bush that He had created.

God saw through those leaves.

He saw through Adam’s finger-pointing blame of Eve.

He saw Adam’s real need — an atoning sacrifice of blood so that Adam wouldn’t have to die for his sin.

All because of divine love for the one who made a foolish choice.

We’ve made foolish choices.

All of us.

And sometimes, we’ve even tried to hide from God in the bushes of skipped church, ignored prayer, worldly partying, workaholism, perhaps even obsessive hobbying.

It never worked.

God still saw us.

We were still in sin.

We still needed an atoning sacrifice of blood so that we wouldn’t have to die for our sin.

God still loved us, despite our foolish choices.

It is this set of facts that we should have in mind when we read passages such as the one for today from The One-Year Bible:

“But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)

Whether it’s the pledge to turn our lives over to the Lord when we’re saved or the pledge to tithe or the pledge to be faithful in church attendance and volunteerism, let’s do our best to keep our word.

It’s never good to tell God we’ll do something — or not do something — and then we break our promise.

Excuses don’t make good masks when it comes to how God sees things.

Let’s keep our promise to serve and to give and God will keep His promise to bless.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I’m one of those people who rarely sleep well.

I can count on one hand the number of times a month that I awake actually feeling rested.

It’s not pleasant.

But I’ve learned to push through it, drink coffee and focus on my missions for the day rather than what I missed while on my pillow.

My eyes are achy tired now even as I write this.

There is a silver lining to this recurring circumstance, though.

I think more about God than I might have otherwise.

Here’s why:

“I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night.” (Psalm 63:6)

We’ve all have times when we couldn’t sleep because we were thinking optimistically about what someone might do for us.

And we all have had times of sleeplessness because of negative thoughts about what someone had done to us.

When it comes to God, however, our thoughts should only be on that which is good.

We can never wrap our brains around all that God does for us or around how awesomely loving and perfect and merciful He is.

So when we have opportunity to put our brains to work while we await the onset of sleepiness, let’s redeem the time.

Let’s find rest in the restlessness.

Let’s meditate on the amazing grace and perfection and power and wisdom of our God, finding peace in the darkness of closed eyes and enlightened minds.

Our bodies — including our eyes — might awake tired in the morning, but our souls will be refreshed and ready to go forward in strength for another day of personal ministry.

I like that idea. Hope you do, too.

As always, I love you
Martin

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When my days on earth are over, a joy and contentment beyond description will be mine.

This fact compels me day after day to live a life more pleasing to God.

I’m not perfect, but I rejoice that God’s gracious power and patience continues stirring me — and steering me — toward that goal.

You see, no matter what disappointments I encounter in this life — and there have been many — they pale in comparison to the reward awaiting me in the next life.

This is the magnet of mercy that draws me with a power greater than the lies of the world.

Psalm 61:4 concisely states the desire of my heart:

“Let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings!” (Psalm 61:4)

I pray that this is your desire as well.

Who knows? Perhaps we’ll be side by side under His wings.

I’d like that.

As always, I love you
Martin

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God told the Israelites to make sure that their offerings were from the firstfruits of their harvests and that animals sacrificed to Him were to be those first in quality.

It’s clear that God wants to be first in the lives of believers.

So it is not surprising that King David wrote a psalm that speaks of how God is pleased when believers think of Him first in the morning.

“Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song.” (Psalm 56:8)

Do you awake the dawn with songs of praise for God?

As in listening to Christian music while getting ready for work or cooking breakfast?

Do you find yourself singing or humming Christian praise songs as you ready to head out of the door?

You can imagine how pleased God is when He sees you praising Him first thing in the morning.

If you were God, wouldn’t you be pleased by such displays of worship?

Let’s be more active in worshiping God in the morning when we get out of bed. Talk to family members about God’s wondrous grace if they’re living with you.

Testify to co-workers first thing in the day about some blessing God provided for you that morning or the day before.

Wake up your heart and I will do the same.

God deserves that the first moments of the day to honor Him.

As always, I love you
Martin

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