For today and eternity

Life is part of living. I know that sounds crazy because we take it for granted most of the time. If you are alive then you are living, right? Well…yes and no.

Sometimes living is more than just breathing and being and walking around. Sometimes, on some days life is more than waking up and seeing the sun and the trees and your family.

Good deedsIt is by taking the love of God and the love that we learn through our relationship with Him that we show our true life. The life that we live through Jesus and the life that His teachings have in us.

Remember, Jesus didn’t tell His disciples to live inside a monastery and hide from the world. He told them to take the gospel out to the whole world, even to the ends of the Earth. We can’t take His love to others unless we have it in our hearts and then walk out of our house and His and go into our community and tell others about Him.

Many of His disciples were killed in countries where they didn’t know the story of Jesus or the Jewish people, just for trying to bring His message to the World. This is what He told them and by extension what we are told to do today. So, why don’t we do it?

Many of us don’t tell others because we are afraid of rejection or hatred toward us because of our religion and beliefs. The problem with this is, it isn’t personal. Those who lash out at us over something that we are trying to tell them are doing it because they don’t want to hear the message! The message itself is being rejected, not us personally.

But, it feels personal doesn’t it? When people reject the message of love and grace that Jesus told us to take to the world, it does feel personal because we have a personal relationship with our Savior! The only advice that I can give is to let go of your hurt feelings and give the situation over to God, He will bring about whatever He desires in that person’s heart and life. It isn’t your responsibility after you have told them about Him.

Fear, anger, frustration, depression, and rejection are all used against us by Satan to make us ineffective at witnessing to others for Jesus. The message is the product that we give to others because we are saved by His Grace. It isn’t a requirement or a job to earn favor with God, it is the product of being given His grace and mercy even when we don’t deserve it and letting others know about the joy that we have because of it!

So, what will you do with your greatest gift? Lock it up behind the doors of your home or your church, or will you allow it to spill over and get into someone else’s life because Jesus got into yours? Even telling one or two people can and will make a difference in a life somewhere or sometime that you don’t even know about. But, you will find out about it when you meet them in Heaven and it is revealed to you.

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Living today and tomorrow

So much is happening in the world today. We see it and hear it on the news and on the radio. We read about it in newspapers and on the Internet. Some of it is true, some of it is blown out of proportion, and some of it is just made up to look like news.

Can we believe it? Some of it but not all.

So, what are your goals for life and living today? Are they similar to other people’s goals of losing weight or getting a degree? Do they have anything to do with making lots of money and building a nice (big) house? When I see goals like this or hear about them and then drive into Flowood or some other town and see these big homes that all look like they are duplicates of each other in size and shape I wonder what is the purpose?

It seems that we like to be individuals and we like to have things which others don’t have, but when it comes to our houses and cars we are stuck with copies of everyone else’s likes. There are no real unique homes or cars. Yes, you can paint the outside of a Camaro a different color from others, your home may have a different floor plan than the one next door. But the shape of the car is the same. The shape of the house is mostly the same.

Everything in our lives, for the most part, is the same. Wouldn’t it be great if we could customize our living space the way we want it to be? I know we are at the mercy of cost and that the companies which sell cars sell the cars which their research tells them that we want. Life is different today than it was, say one hundred years ago. They didn’t have phones, many didn’t have cars, most lived in what we call a shack today. But, I never heard my grandmother say that they didn’t have a roof over their head or food on the table.

Life today is very different from what it was then. Life today is very different from that of just forty or fifty years ago. It seems that we have forgotten how to be kind to one another. We don’t seem to try to help each other when there is a need. Mostly we just sit around and wait for someone else to help, when we have the ability to do it ourselves.

We also spend way too much time reading comments and things from social media sites. Yes, it is fun for a while but it is like sitting in a rocking chair, you are doing something but not going anywhere. Reading those comments is funny and sometimes it is educational but if you don’t get up and do something about those causes that you “like”, nothing will get done!

It is like saying “Amen!” with all the gusto that you can muster, then going out the door of the church and not having a clue what the Preacher said!

God put each one of us here for a purpose and a reason and it doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you have. You can do something for God’s Kingdom. It may be nothing more that offering up a prayer for someone in China or India, but God can use a heartfelt and sincere prayer and do something with it. It is true that there are many who don’t believe in Him and may never believe in Him, but prayer can make a difference in someone’s life. It made a difference in mine.

God loves you and He can work with you and through you to make a difference in someone’s life. A hug or a prayer or even just a note or an email letting them know that you are thinking of them and that you are praying for them in whatever situation they may be in. Seek Him out and thank Him for getting you up this morning and use today for something that Jesus would do if He were here. Then, repeat tomorrow and the next day until He calls you home. I promise that the outcome from small things will have an impact when you see its results in Heaven.

Choose…

We seem to be all about choices today. We choose a mate or a lifestyle to live by. We choose which school to attend and which major to take. We, sometimes, choose which religion that we will follow or not. Choices are part and parcel of life, particularly in America, but also in other places around the world.

Some of those choices in other countries are unpopular and bring hardship into the lives of those who make choices that are against the majority. At times our choices are so numerous that we can’t seem to decide what we want. What can we do in these instances?

Choose…

Your life’s religion is a choice, sometimes it is one based on culture or family tradition. But, if you found out that your religion is false or that it will not lead you into an eternity of happiness, what would your choice be? If that choice is going to be an unpopular one with your family and friends, what would you do? Would you choose to follow the crowd and go into an eternity with everyone else just because it was acceptable to them?

These are answers and questions which each of us need to ask of ourselves and our friends and family. Why should we bother with asking these questions? Because that is what Jesus told us to do…go into all of the world and preach (tell) to them the gospel. If you are a Christian, this is your mandate. It is not a question of if we can tell, it is more like when will we tell them?

Your life in Christ is secure in Him, if you believe in His atonement for you and accept Him as your Savior. God, the One God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, loves you far more than you can ever realize. He has a purpose for your life, not only here but in eternity too, but you won’t be able to enjoy it unless you follow Jesus and give your life to Him. This life is a puff of smoke compared to eternity, no matter how long you may live. Consider this and turn to Him while you are here because the chance to give your life and heart to Him is only available while you live. There are no second chances or do-overs later.

Living the life

Do you dream of living the life? Can I ask, “What kind of life is it that you want to live?”

Is it one of wealth and prosperity, where you can provide for yourself and your family regardless of the price? Or do you want to have enough…to make the bills and pay your utilities and buy food without worrying about whether there is enough?

These are questions which I have pondered my whole life and I cannot truly answer which one I would rather have. Actually, the second option sounds more feasible….more achievable, but the problem now is “How?”

Many people seem to have cornered the way to make money on the Internet. Is it ethical? Is it right? Are you really providing a service…a useful service for people or are you just selling open, empty promises and when they buy into it, then they have to participate in the lie in order to make any money?

I am not accusing anyone of doing this but there can’t be that many ways of making hundreds or thousands of dollars per week or month that is actually legal and ethical! The life that I am challenging you to live is not one that has all of the money that you need to vacation in Tahiti, or to live there during part of the year.

The life that I challenge you to live is one that is such that you wouldn’t be ashamed to bring your mother along with you. One that you would even be able to take Jesus along with you, no matter where you might go. Don’t you realize that God created us, each one of us, for a purpose…His purpose, not yours! He will make you prosperous if that is His will for you, but if you are in His will then your life will bring glory to Him and honor Him as well.

God loves you and intended for you to be a part of His Kingdom! You are a vital part of His plan. How do I know this? Because the Bible says that we are all unique and wonderfully made and because God would not create such a wonderful human being if you, each of you, did not have a place in His Kingdom!

All that you need to do is to ask Him to come into your life and your heart. Change your life and He will, repent of your sins and tell Jesus that you will learn to walk with Him. It is not hard. Read God’s Word, pray that He will show you what you need and how to follow Him and when you have done this you will know Him. He already knows you. Please consider this, the time of grace for the world and for the church is soon coming to a close. Nobody knows when this will be, but almost every prophecy that was supposed to happen before His coming has already happened. This life is the only chance that you get to make things right for eternity, so get it right the first time.

Living well today?

There could be many interpretations of that statement: Are you living well today? Is there a “living well” today? “LIVING WELL?!?” “Today?!!?” Are you kidding me!!!!????

All of these are questions which need answering for our culture today. In business and in life, living well can be accomplished but it must be done carefully. Yes, you can live like a king if you are making the money to do so. But, what will all the cars and houses and things get you? Noticed? yes. Happy? Not likely.

Things that money can buy will satisfy only a portion of your life and mine, but not the innermost part of us. You cannot purchase something which is priceless and which cannot be bought with money. More and more stuff just takes up space and it soon rusts and falls apart or is stolen to pay taxes on other things or sold to get more stuff. What actual good will any of it do for you or for someone else? Will a custom Rolls Royce feed you or clothe you? Can you live in it when your home is repossessed? Your Rolex can’t help with the bills when the money is gone and you will only get a small percentage of what it is actually worth if you sell it or pawn it.

Stuff like this is gotten by those who want these things for their exclusive nature and the perception that it gives others about their owner. But are you really the owner or are you owned by them?

The world and those who crave material gain are only in whatever business they are in for the money and prestige, when that is gone there is no satisfaction in it anymore so they move on to something else. Like the prodigal son, while he had money, he had “friends” but when the money was gone so were they. They latched onto the next sucker in line who had money enough to interest them and like leeches, when that dried up they moved on to the next one and so on.

Life is like that too, especially living by the world’s standards of success with all of the glitter and glamour of it. Like the prodigal though when the money is gone and there is no more coming in, all those pretty things and the people that came with them will just go “poof!”

So, what are you working toward? A big mansion and a Rolls with a Rolex on your arm and a custom made suit? An Olympic sized pool and a garden for a back yard that would be the envy of the whole town? I have a question to ask of you if this is what you are looking for. Why?

What good will all of that do? The things which I listed have a combined cost of well over one million dollars and unless you are making enough to buy it with cash, that is a LOT of payments to make. What could I do with one million dollars? Lets see….I could pay off all of my debts, medical and student loans, buy my wife a brand new car or truck if she wanted it, build a nice home, finance some improvements for the church that I pastor and pay the taxes on the one million too and still have about two hundred thousand left to send my kid to college without a loan.

Yes, one million can do a lot in some people’s hands and for some it might only last a couple of weeks. Yes, even after paying over three hundred thousand dollars to the IRS, I could still do the things which I said and likely still have one or two hundred thousand dollars because I am not going to buy the most expensive toys or houses, I can’t live in but one house anyway.

Living well means different things to different people and how you spend your money is your business as well as what you spend it on. The main point that I am trying to get you to consider is the eternal question: Will your wealth accompany you into Heaven or will it rust here after you are gone? It will go with you if it was used in the right way here and now. No, you won’t be taking a batch of gold or silver with you but you would have rewards in Heaven if your money was used to support a homeless shelter or feed the poor in Israel. Little seeds reap big rewards in the long run.

This season think on this…

If you are in business for yourself or trying to get into being a business owner, this time of year can be even more stressful. There is a deadline, in a way, that everyone wants to meet now because of Christmas. But, what is it? Why do we need to meet it?

The real deadline is not the holiday that everyone loves and looks forward to every year. It is your own time line, your “date with destiny” if you will. Do you think about it at all? Many people, especially those under thirty, don’t think about the possibility of death at all unless they have had someone close to them that was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Death is something that nobody wants to consider or think about, but it is one of those processes in life that none of us can escape.

This space is about life and a successful living of it so why am I speaking about this now…here? It is because this time of year is one of the worst times of the year for many people. Depression, anxiety, and suicides run far above the norm for any other time of the year during this holiday season and yet, there is real hope available to all.

Even if you don’t have a belief in a higher power or have turned your back on God because of your life or circumstances, He has not abandoned you nor has He forgotten you! God does care, regardless of the rhetoric and blathering that you hear from people who really don’t know any better. They are determined to see that you will be like them, what for? Because they are lonely and they are wrong and they need your company!

Anyone who believes that God doesn’t exist and that we are an accident of the universe is lonely because they are believing a lie and they know it! They just don’t want to admit it! Learn about the One who created you and me still cares about you whether you want to believe it or not and when you do, you will decide that He thinks that you are something worth loving. When you realize this you will also come to the decision that He is worth knowing and loving too!

Your success over the long haul, so to speak, is not dependent on your product or your salesmanship but on your character and the One that you pattern yourself after. If you choose to follow a fantastic salesman, one who can smoothly flatter and show the most easy way to make money, whether it was legal or not, then you will be like him. But, you will be empty inside and nothing that you accomplish will satisfy you.

If you pattern your life and your character on Jesus, then your success will be eternal. You will be able to sleep soundly at night and everything that you accomplish will be satisfying to you and to God. Doing the right thing, regardless of the money you make or don’t make, is more satisfying in the long run. By following Jesus as a disciple and as your example in life, your business will flourish and grow just as your relationship with Him will grow.

Think about it with an open mind and an open heart because how else is Jesus going to get in if you don’t open the door?

Life today, eternity tomorrow

Living successful today can mean many things to many different people. Some want to make lots of money, some just want to pay their bills off or be able to get a new car or house, some may need the money for medical expenses either for themselves or a loved one. We all have different reasons for wanting to be successful in life, whether you are young or old or wealthy or poor, there is a level of success that each of us would like to have.

How we get to that point in life is just as important as getting there. Would you sell drugs to make the money for your kid’s college education? Probably not. What about some other venture which is immoral, such as a pornographic website? Many people could make lots of money that way, but could your conscience be at peace with it? How many lives would your site wreck in failed marriages or other consequences of people looking at and becoming hooked on the content available on your site? Could you feel good about your money if you knew how much damage was being done by it? I couldn’t.

The Internet has changed a lot of people’s concepts of wealth and news, friendships and relationships and even how we view the world in general. We can get news twenty-four hours a day, we can keep up with our friends and work from almost anywhere in the world (depending on the job we have). In many ways, it has made the world much more accessible and smaller but it has also given us a larger audience to appeal to because anyone can access our sites, anywhere and at any time. So, what drives you in life? Is it money, power, prestige, fame or a combination of them all?

These are the forces that entice people in the world today in one form or another and yet they are all temporary. None of them will last very long. Oh, they will if you are shrewd and cunning but who wants to be that way for the rest of their life? You won’t have many friends if you act that way for long. Some will stay with you because of the money or the fame for a while, but they will leave eventually. Few will be real friends who would stick by you if your money was gone and those are the real friends, the ones that you need in your life. No one can live alone, with no contacts or true friends. It would be an existence which would eventually drive you nearly insane.

What about your own sanity? Physically, we can do many things but when stress and worry get to be overwhelming from the bills that are due or the loss of a loved one or of a job, what or Who do you turn to at that point for help? Many people today turn to the wrong things such as drugs or alcohol to ease the pain or to dull the ache of loss, but these are only temporary fixes.

Temporary fixes are just that, temporary! What about when the buzz wears off and you wake up or come down from it. If my memory serves me correctly, you usually feel worse which also makes you feel depressed even more. My suggestion is to give your life to Jesus and decide to follow Him.

Following Jesus in your daily life is not hard to do and it doesn’t restrict your life either. It frees up your life because you can’t help yourself in this area, on Jesus can change your heart and your life into what He intended for you to be! Once that happens, you will feel it in your heart and soul.

What Do You Think of When You Consider Success?

I have been trying to find a way to make money with blogging and so far all of the “systems” that I have found are just scams. Scamming people out of their money is not an honorable way to make money! A successful life is one that honors God in all that you do. In your life, in your job, in your worship and by life I mean that you need to carry Jesus with you daily. I am not writing this column or post for myself. I am not putting this up just as a rant page! Even though, I tend to get up on a box at times.

A successful life is one that helps others in ways that helps them succeed and in the process each of us will succeed. Lying and cheating people out of money is not the way to go. There are ways to create wealth and be a blessing in the process, but sometimes we have to find those ways. Doing things the way the world and those in it do them is not the way to go! Finding your calling through your service to Jesus and using that calling to make life better for other people will bless you beyond measure.

Those blessings may not be in monetary things. You may not make a six figure income from doing this, but you will live a successful life. It may not be a successful life from the world’s point of view, but in God’s eyes it is. How can we do this? I don’t know exactly. If any of you have any ideas which fit the criteria that I have laid out here, let me know and I will gladly pray for you and I may try it out if I can afford to.

You see, those people who put sites up and say that they were dead broke but came up with a system to make money they did just that! They might help you put up a site and they might just sell you their “secrets”, but then you are on your own. How do you think that you will do with around three billion other web sites trying to get everyone’s attention? You had better have a really good hook or some bait that will drag them in and hook them so that they will buy YOUR product instead of somebody else’s.

My question in the title is specific enough that many people will say “Money!” OK, if you are successful in making money then how else will you be successful? Success has many faces and not all of them are pretty. Money will pay bills and buy stuff but other than that it has little power. With enough of it, you can have a position of power, but the reward always comes down to “your character”. Because money will also cause the REAL person that you are inside to come out regardless of whether you want them to or not!

Make sure that the person which shows up after you are successful is the same person that you are or a better one!

Success in life, necessary?

Is success really necessary in life? To many people in life and business and in any endeavor that they attempt, success is necessary. But, what do you do with it once you have attained it? Do you go out and buy some extravagant item that you couldn’t afford before just to show off? Or, do you take your success and the reward that you have gained from it and make sure that you never get into debt again? Will you help those less fortunate than you have been or will you just forget where you were a few short months or years ago and go on your merry way?

These questions and the answers that come into your mind will tell you something of the type of person that you are. The real you, not the one that everyone else sees at the office or at a bar or even at home. The answers that come into your mind while reading those questions in the first paragraph. The answers which come, without your conscious thoughts in the way. Those are the truthful answers but they are also the answers that many people ignore or push away. Because they don’t want to admit to being so cruel or hateful. Nobody wants to admit that, unless there has been a change in your life that truly changed your character, each of us is selfish and egotistical.

We are, each one of us, this way from birth and nothing that you or your parents can do will change that. It is a sad fact and a blight on our collective conscience. Oh, we can be good and decent folks when we want something or when we think that we will get something in return. But, what about the times when we need something and we can’t do or say anything which will provoke such an action from someone else? What happens when you may be hurting, physically or emotionally, and there is nothing that you can accomplish which might prompt someone to give you what you need or want at that particular point in time?

Your character and the influence that it gives you in circumstances which come up daily, is the deciding factor when it comes to your true success in life. How much you make in terms of money is not it, nor is your promotion at work or anything which you acquire because of monetary rewards. The person that you are inside, where your character is grown and nurtured and pruned is the most important factor in your success in life. How you grow to be that person is dependent upon the culture that you live in as a young person, growing up in the care of your parents or grandparents. Yes, I used the plural of parents/grandparents for a specific reason…because each of us needs both figures in our lives.

A mother and a father, both of whom are present during your growth and development. It has been the deciding factor in the culture that our country finds itself in today because there have been and still are too many families which don’t have one or the other and sometimes both. Children that grow up without the influence of parents who care for them aren’t successful in life. I know there are exceptions to every rule and some people who are will get up and say that it was because of such a fact that they determined to be successful.

Success according to the standard that we use is measured by how big your house is, how much money that you make, etc. In material possessions, stuff, there really aren’t very many successful people in the world. There are far more people who are very UN-successful in terms which most of the world recognizes as success because there are more people living in parts of the world where their life is successful if they can manage to eat a meal two or three times per week. Success is relative because of the nature of success, where you may live, the ability that you have to live and your own drive and character which influences how you live and what you have to do to survive.

God does have some influence in your success because He is the standard by which your character is judged. His influence in your life depends greatly upon whether you have heard His message through examples set by your peers or your parents or from messages through attending church or being ministered to by a missionary in a country where Christianity may be despised and hated. Your compass, moral or not, depends upon the influence of people who have been in your life from your youth and upon their character traits as well. Were they influenced by parents who were God-fearing or were they humanists? All of these things come into play later in life and you may brush them off as the rantings of some person on the Internet, but the point is this: Character builds up, lack of it will tear down. Consider this when trying to find your path through life, wherever it might lead you.

Successful living is like walking

It is true that this is a recurring theme on this blog as well as in life, but everyone wants to know how to do it don’t they? Can you learn how to do this? Yes, but it takes work. It is not something that you can just get out of a box or from an e-mail, and it is not an instant, overnight fix for a life that is out of kilter.

Just like living a regular life, whether that life is one that includes fame and fortune or one that is full of strife, heartache, pain and otherwise unpleasant things which make such a life miserable, a successful life is one lived while doing what you enjoy doing.

But, there is not an instant fix or an easy way of making money like you see in the emails or advertisements. Contrary to the popular sites and so-called “strategies”, instant wealth without work just doesn’t exist. The idea that you can get something for nothing has been around for a long time and many people have fallen for it.

The point is that along with a successful life, your attitude toward that life has to be on point with your dreams and your reality. If you are trying to grasp a life that, in reality, is out of your reach it is not futile but you do need to step back and take a deep breath. I don’t mean that you need to think it to death, whatever it may be, but you do need to look at your situation and make sure of the direction that you are trying to go.

It may be hard or difficult to do the thing that you are trying to do, but nothing that is worth doing is really easy. I know that you have heard that before but it is true. Getting something for nothing just doesn’t happen, except with your salvation. That is the only priceless purchase that you can make with nothing from you. Jesus paid the price, all that you have to do is repent of your old life and tell Jesus that you want a new one.

Taking the first step toward a life of freedom, regardless of what kind of freedom it is, is always the right decision. But, if you don’t take that step, you will never know how it feels! Being free from debt or sin is not easy or quick. Most people think that when you get out of debt, then you will never be in debt again, but unless you have truly changed your spending habits it will happen again!

It is the same with sin, when a Christian is still a babe in Christ, fresh in their faith, your old habits will come back. The sins have been forgiven, but your life hasn’t been reset like a computer! Forgiveness happens from above, the change in your heart and your character is a process that takes time. Time alone with God, time spent studying His Word and lots of prayer. Nothing is instantaneous, salvation is given to you through Christ when you accept Him but the change in you happens gradually.

Like the man in the book, “The Richest man in Babylon”, wealth comes a little at a time and it is the same with a Christian’s life. It doesn’t happen like turning on a light, but it is like building a home. The foundation is laid first, then the framework of the building, then the flooring and walls are framed in, etc. In a Christian life and a business person’s life, success is also gained by taking steps toward your goal, but you have to take those steps. Some of those are easy, and some are difficult but nothing is impossible.