Your Daily Dose of Perspective – September 7, 2015

chess-316657_1280Your Daily Dose of Perspective


Did You Knowafghanistan-79493_1280

  • Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • 1.1 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity.
  • 4 billion people live outside the protection of law.


Paradigm Shift

Starting each day can be quite a task! Within seconds of opening our eyes our minds are flooded tasks, responsibilities, hopes, and fears. Some of us might rush to the bathroom, flip on the light switch, and hop in the shower as quickly as possible. Others may methodically file into our daily routines, making coffee and catching up on the morning news. Before we know it, we are inching our way towards mid-day completely immersed with sensory overload and minds working a million miles an hour. The lifeline of our smart phones serve as the very necessary distraction from the mundane as we trudge on fiercely battling mediocrity and purposeless with every every fiber of our being. But for many of us, this is the norm. This is the way the world works: fast and filled with choices galore. And yet, in truth, its really not the norm, at least for the world. The majority did not wake up feeling safe in their homes. A quarter of humanity do not have any aspect of refrigeration as part of their lives. No ice. No cold water dispensers. The majority of the world do not think as we do in our regular day to day because they lack the choices, the means, and the privilege.


What if we could start today taking pause to reflect on these blessings? What if we could trek on life’s journey recognizing the vast amount of choices, conveniences, and privileges that afford us the time to take on more options and choices that most people in the world cannot? Maybe we might take the needed pause and reflect on God’s providence. Maybe we would pray for opportunities to help those around us in need whether it be materially and/or emotionally. Jesus set the bar in the story of the Good Samaritan:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.  He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denariiand gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’  Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:30–37 ESV

Let us start today recognizing God’s blessings and seek out ways to show the love of Jesus and the greatest gift there is, the gift of salvation. No blessing is greater than this and nothing reflects the love that God has for His people better.

Faith Has Friends

Faith was never intended to stand alone. In today’s culture we often hear in Christian and Secular rhetoric the phrase, “Have Faith!” And yet the Bible teaches that faith alone does not cut it. James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:13) and more specifically that a person is justified not by faith alone (James 2:24). Faith is no doubt instrumental in our ability to exist in the hope of our salvation through Jesus Christ. However, faith can be so much more than the whimsical emotion accompanying belief. Faith has friends. Faith has fortified compatriots. Peter encourages us, in escaping the corruption of our sinful desires, to:

amazing-736875_1280“…make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

What valuable teaching for us! The danger and often disaster of pursuing faith alone is the foundationless emotional dependency that is so “wishy-washy” in our lives. How can we grow in our sanctification when we anchor ourselves to our faith alone? No, it was not intended to be this way. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Both Paul and Peter knew that faith is necessary, but it is also just one element in our journey to indulging in and reflecting the love of God. So let us look at these valuable attributes that we are to aspire for in addition to our foundation of faith:

lake-801871_1280Virtue – The attribute of goodness. It is the quintessential effort of aspiring to think and act righteously.

Knowledge – The prize of discovery. This knowledge is acquired from the Holy Spirit as He teaches us through the Bible, prayer, people, and circumstances.

Self-Control – The fortitude of conviction. It is obtained by the recognition that all of our needs are satisfied through Jesus.

Steadfastness – The ability to persevere. Steadfastness exists with peace only when hope is on the forefront of our minds.

Godliness – The purity of our adoption. Because we are only clean by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our godliness exists as we point to Him.

Brotherly Affection – The fellowship of grateful co-heirs. Our ability to look on another and envision them with the grace and love that the Lord sees when He looks upon us.

Love – The greatest of aspirations. To live apart from fear. To live apart from hate. To live, aspiring that in every moment we are grateful for all that God the Father has created, thankful for our salvation through Jesus Christ, and honored that the Holy Spirit is within us, guiding us to become more like Christ.

These seven attributes that we are to aspire for in addition to faith give us a concrete lesson plan for our lives. Thus, when we face the “wishy-washy” nature of our emotions and wonder where the solid ground is, we can look at 2 Peter 1:5-8 and know that faith has friends and we would do well to aspire for them.

“Anxiousness & Fear” – excerpt from Pursuing Wisdom: Unmasking Theology

Anxiousness is “characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency: worried” (Merriam-Webster). It is not surprising that this is in direct connection to the fears coming from our ultimate need. Is it not obvious that there would naturally be a sense of fear a lone creation, in the absence of his or her Creator, would feel? But just to make sure we are on the same page about this leery nature induced by fear, let us also look at the definition of fear.

Fear is “to be afraid or apprehensive” (Merriam-Webster).This emotion is induced by an imminent danger the creation is subject to in light of being unplugged from the Source. The creation cannot sustain itself eternally. Therefore, whether or not the conscious mind allows itself to be aware of the existence of God doesn’t change the fact that God exists and furthermore everything in us and around us is disconnected from him and cries out with urgency due to impending doom.

We must be careful not to miss the important difference between anxiousness and fear. While fear is clearly the emotion of that natural danger we reviewed earlier, anxiousness is “characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind.” It would be very easy to simply write this off as another description of emotion. However, utilizing our progressive understanding of our reasoning we can clearly see that while fear is the emotion, anxiousness is the result of human reasoning being applied to the emotion.

When we are anxious or worried, it is not simply an emotion. Anxiousness would be the precursor to the rise of the prevention need we learned of in the first chapter. We know that appealing to the human nature in I Must Resolve is obviously not-God. However, fear is the effect of noticing the disconnection and instability we have on our own. It is then that the choice is made about where we go in order to resolve it. Therefore, if part of wisdom is reason applied to revelation, then anxiousness would simply be human reasoning applied to fear. It is in this stasis that modes dominate and conquer the human psyche.

There are only two ways to remove anxiousness. The I Must Resolve way cultivates modes to the point that the reality of our disconnection is denied and replaced with modes suggesting dominance over emotion. The submissive God Will Resolve way removes anxiousness by casting our cares upon the Lord (I Peter 5:7) and, in faith, gaining a “peace that transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7).

The only reason I am going into this much detail about a subject catered to in the first chapter is because I feel it is important for us to understand, as Christians, that our human nature will cry out against our attempts to push through mere feelings in pursuit of our need of discovery. It is only natural that we will face a rebellion from our human state as we seek with the fullness of our faith to grow closer to God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Our desire for wisdom will create a sense of turmoil within us.

With the revelation of modes and the exposure of insecurity, it is so easy for us to cater to feelings. Furthermore, with the aid of human reasoning (mode) we could easily disassociate ourselves from introspection. But let us not be like Logos was originally whereby we would merely attempt to manipulate the indicators of our deficiencies. Let us run with earnest in the effort of exposing all that hinders us from having a deeper relationship with our Lord. Let us trust with the God Will Resolve mentality, which is only natural to the new creation and those reborn who follow Christ, that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us our purpose and direction.

What Virgil and Longfellow Can Teach Us About Pain

Through pain I’ve learned to comfort suffering men.” Virgil, The Aeneid.

Sometimes rocky roads can leave us feeling broken and alone, not knowing all the while that they are shaping us to be better men and women for those the Lord puts before us. As Longfellow says:


Footprints, that perhaps another, 
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, 
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, 
Seeing, shall take heart again.” Longfellow, A Psalm of Life

My Review of “True North: Christ, the Gospel, and Creation Care”

Western society is saturated with the constant outcry to “Go Green!” A charge, when in the mouthpiece of the secular is purely for natural preservation and ungrounded moralism. And yet, many Christians will respond to the individual responsibility with negligence often due to a faulty view of Creation Care. Liederbach and Bible have set out in this work to bring biblical clarity to the Christian position. Their effort, backed with a substantial amount of biblical references and sound resources, embarks on a journey seeking proper alignment with God’s intention for his creation. They argue that with this pursuit, the Christian will properly value God’s creation and subsequently his/her responsibility to it. Liederbach and Bible consistently edify Jesus Christ, keeping his presence a shining star within the book. And it cannot be understated that this work successfully achieves a practical construction of a necessary argument for Creation Care. It not only motivated me to examine my own negligence but it also reshaped my perspective about seeking proper alignment with the Lord in all respects of life.

This book is worth your time. Its available on Kindle and it gives great “How to” advice on proper Christian perspective.


Struggling With The Etiquette of Correspondence

Have you ever felt weighed down by your email? Is it challenging to stay on top of responding back to people? Here are three points that might help alleviate that burden for both you and those who await your response.

1) Introduce a simple “Hey Tap” into your email-checking routine. When you are glancing through your email, hit the reply, and quickly insert some variation of “Thanks for the email, get back to you soon.” This can be very helpful in your correspondence and relationship maintenance because it communicates to the sender that their message has not been lost in the cracks (or junk) and that you are taking the brief time to acknowledge that their message is important to you. This removes the stressful pressure of trying to make sure that you aren’t blowing people off unintentionally. Because people have different expectations for response time, this will ensure that you are making the first step in respectful personal or professional etiquette.

2) Don’t let your inbox be your reminder list. Quite frequently we will use our inbox as a resting place for unanswered emails. This can be a good system for your first week of using a new email account, but very quickly the list grows beyond your visage. As they say, “out of sight, out of mind.” Thus, other measures may be more effective in keeping on top of your responses. Most email accounts offer you the ability to create subfolders for your emails to be stored. Consider creating a folder called “Unanswered Emails”. By having a specific folder with these emails in it, you will be more likely to respond. If you have a reminder function with your email or your phone, consider also implementing a reoccurring reminder that says “Check Unanswered Emails”.

3) Resist the temptation to “say it all” in your email. Often times we are personally discouraged from responding to an email because we are either waiting for the right words or we feel that the response would need to be more lengthy than we have time to compose. Emails are for your benefit! Consider tying off an email with “I have some other points to mention, but I’ll have to get back with you.” Using this method not only gives you the freedom to take a breath in your response, but it also gives your receiver the opportunity to respond to what you have written thus far, just as one would in verbal communication.

Remember that your ability to email is a benefit to you and should not be a shackle. Let’s be a blessing to our friends and colleagues by putting our foot forward in the etiquette of correspondence.

Avoiding the Unnecessary Taboo of Marketing

I went to a business conference once where a speaker said that no one is afraid of selling. I remember he then paused, looked around at the audience, and then exclaimed, “People are afraid of failing, not selling! Show me a person who, that if every time they attempted to sell something they succeeded, would say, ‘Nope! Not for me.’” That bit has really stuck with me over the years. At first, I thought it was extremely insightful and, thus, I took it as truth. However, as time went along and the ambitions of success would come and go, I was left with one constant that I realized was more important to resolve beyond successful marketing and that was ethical marketing. Of course, some people just don’t like the idea of selling. In fact, selling, marketing, and advertising are natural taboo topics for most people today, and yet these topics may not be so worthy of the disdain they are given when viewed in the proper light. Here are three points to think about:

Marketing is a Natural Part of Social Interaction

We are always promoting something. Did you like the restaurant you ate at? Did you hate it? Who did you tell about it? Anytime we give an opinion about something or someone, we are marketing. When we give someone directions to a business, we are marketing. If we Facebook or tweet about it, we’ve marketed it. We are all natural marketers. Marketing is never missing. It is always present though quite often not acknowledged.

There is Unethical and Ethical Marketing

This is a no-brainer. Marketing has its bad side when put in the hands of the greedy, the manipulative, and the narcissistic. And yet, marketing is not to blame. Marketing is the wielded weapon of the despot. Marketing can be the shoes that carry a villain to power. However, marketing is no more the villain itself than gasoline is the villain of a car crash. And there are so many examples we have to choose from as to what unethical marketing looks like. Movie and television depictions of these foes can be overwhelming and thus naturally cause all of us to taint the subject. And yet, remembering the first point that marketing is a natural part of social interaction, reminds us that by simply exerting awareness we will recognize that marketing is not, in itself, bad. And yes, there is ethical marketing too: positive and negative ethical marketing. Positive endorses something and negative deters. What makes it ethical of course is not determined by whether or not there is financial gain. Ethics is determined by the moral structure beneath it. Proverbs, for example, provides clear-cut moral structures. If you believe in Natural Law, as I do, then we believe that all men know right from wrong in their hearts. Whether seen from the Bible or from Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, man recognizes morality. Thus, the ethics of marketing depends on the bearer.

Marketing is Not Egotism

Some stray from the topic of marketing because, if you are marketing your business or your name then it may seem like you are arrogant or narcissistic. However, if you have a product or service that you believe in, or if by promoting your name you are putting light on what you are passionate about, then it is not really your ego that is being promoted. The effort of self-promoting for ego and identity has many signs and consequences. That is why it is important to have counsel with men and women of seasoned integrity who can help us with that assessment. Better to heed their counsel than to chance burying the talent because of insecurity. Furthermore, as stated, promotion will be done regardless by us. If you own a business and you are not talking about it, it would be good to remember that the next time you tell someone about your favorite brand of ice cream, you were marketing their business. If we look upon our service, our products, and even our influence in name as gifts or talents then we will be more likely to put our endorsements in their appropriate places, sleeping well at night, knowing that we marketed ethically.

3 Temptations Christians Will Face In 2013

1) Post-Political Fiasco Cynicism

Few will deny the impact the last couple of months have had on American confidence in our political leaders. With a great voice of cynicism resounding from the media, it is tempting to simply join in and start railing against the President and/or Congress, slamming anyone who has put us or others in financial jeopardy. There is no doubt that a great host of people are not only angry but also hurt and deeply affected by the choices (and lack of choices) of political figures in 2012. And yet, we must pause in the drama of it all and recognize that though this is where we live, it is not our home. While this maxim does not condone abandoning our civic responsibility as a united people of these 50 states, it does encourage us to remember the priority of our dependence on the Lord and our trust in His plan. We must rise, we must stand for Biblical values, and we must do so with passion rather than cynicism. The great divide between cynicism and passion lies in the motivation. Passion aspires with hope while cynicism, devoid of hope, bitterly dwells on unfairness. Let us go forward as passionate followers of Jesus Christ. (Verse for Thought: Eph. 4:29)

2) Further Entertainment Desensitization

With each passing year, the level of exposure we all have to violence, language, and sexuality increases. As Christians, it can be difficult to determine what standards we put in place for ourselves and our family to ensure that we are living lives worthy of our calling. This determination can only be accomplished with a reliance on the Holy Spirit’s guidance and good exposure to Godly men and women that have been around the block a time or two. We must, as Christians, aspire for one thing especially when it comes to this issue and that is the consistent acknowledgement of the seriousness of entertainment desensitization. Desensitization occurs when we let by and ignore the danger and drastic effect of violence, language, and sexuality. Acknowledgement is a must. Let us be inspired to change the channel, turn off the movie, and even talk a bit more with our families about what is going into our eyes and ears. (Verse for Thought: Mark 9:47)

3) Tax Return Salvation

There are many Christians facing a financial crunch as we enter into this New Year. While the hope of a better economy was whispered in 2012, by the end of it, facing a fiscal cliff, most of us lost that little bit of hope. We have to be careful coming towards April. Some will receive a tax return, others won’t. But regardless, it is important that our faith remains strong.  We must secure in the front of our minds the belief that the Lord supplies all of our needs. So, if you are getting a tax return then it is a blessing from the Lord in which you have a responsibility to apply it in a way that will glorify Him. If you are facing a debt as the tax season approaches, remember that the Lord knows what you face and while hurdles may require jumping, nothing is more important than your trust and dependence on Him. Nothing ever surprises the God of the universe and this truth can make a big difference in how we approach our victories and defeats. (Verses for Thought: Matt. 6)

The Practicality of Being Genuine

Simplicity can be therapeutic, especially when we are hurt or angry. In our dramatic human natures it can be very tempting to build things up and then blow up. And yet, in the end, we are the ones more hurt than the one who afflicts us and worse, we will likely bring our loved ones down with us. I wonder if sometimes, in our dramatic responses, we detach ourselves from the fundamental vulnerability of what we actually feel. When someone hurts our feeling, we need to be able to simply say, “My feelings are hurt.” When we are angry, we need to simply say, “I am angry.” And most importantly, since this is at the root of it all, when we are scared, we need to be able to say, “Jesus, I am scared.” For, when we attempt to resolve these emotions without this simple acknowledgement, it is so easy to slip into an “I Must Resolve” mentality where we believe that it is up to us to fix it. And this is such a slippery slope. When we are not genuine about what we feel, we are simply working our way towards self-dependency, building up agendas and masks of behavior. This is not the way the Bible outlines Christ-centered dependency. If we are going to, in anyway, live on this earth as tools for the Kingdom of God, then we have to put ourselves out there and be genuine. We have to risk being vulnerable and risk being burned. So let me encourage you with four buzzwords to remember when you face the temptation to spin or to back-peddle:

1)      RELAX! There is nothing wrong with taking a moment to step back or away from a circumstance to “Be still and know that [HE is] God.” (Ps 46:10)

2)      EXAMINE your most basic emotions in the circumstance. Look within and ask yourself, “What am I really feeling?

3)      ACKNOWLEDGE verbally these emotions you are feeling. This doesn’t have to be an announcement to everyone in the room. Make the declaration in prayerful openness to the Lord.

4)      LAY your burden before the Lord with an honest and vulnerable prayer for His peace that transcends all understanding. (Luke 12)

Be Real! Be Genuine! If life is complicated, it may be because we are spending too much time on the issues and not enough time on our hearts. Remember, the Holy Spirit is within us. He is our Counselor. What does that mean? Who is the Holy Spirit to you? What role does the Counselor play in your life? How honest and open are you with the Lord about how you are feeling? Don’t think that His Omnipotence means that your acknowledgement is unnecessary. The Bible so clearly asserts that we confess our sins (1 Jn 1:9) and also that we cast our cares on Jesus (1 Pet 5:7). It is vitally important that we be genuine Christians

The Potential Freedom of Freedom

Do you feel chained down? Strapped? Confined? Bottled up? With all of the stresses in life and the many decisions we all face every day, there are few who can say that they don’t, at some point, feel this way. And it can be very confusing to go to church, listen to praise music, or even the advice of loved ones telling us of our freedom in Christ; only to find that, daily, we end up facing the restraints of our circumstances and relationships. Why are so many of us stressed when we know that we are supposed to be experiencing freedom in Jesus Christ? There are so many resources, biblically, to draw from concerning this freedom we are meant to have. And yet, if you have spent any time in Christian fellowship, then you likely are well “versed” in these references. The most direct is from our Lord Jesus when He says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). Another very helpful reference is Christ’s teaching about anxiousness in Luke 12. Properly, any good Christian Brother or Sister should point to these in order to reroute us in our stressful, confining, human ways. But I think that we are meant to do more than receive this sage advice. We have an obligation to be poised and ready for it.

Today, there are many distractions in our lives which may lead us to either not listen to what the Bible tells us or to quickly forget it when the next arrow comes. To be specific, we have to get out of our own way in order to receive the guidance of what Jesus so clearly tells us. Praise the Lord that we are not alone in this. The Holy Spirit works in us and molds us. He is our given counselor. And yet, we still have choice. So, the question is, what can we do to prepare ourselves, amidst the chaos, to be receptive of the Lord’s guidance? Here are three tips:

1)      Sanctification properly carries repentance with it. We must always keep with us the repentant acknowledgement that the reason we live in a fallen world is because of sin. Our repentance must accompany our desire to grow in Jesus. However, if repentance becomes self-loathing, then there is no freedom in Christ. Therefore, we must make great efforts to constantly live with hope while never forgetting where we came from as mere men and women.

2)      We must acknowledge that we are not a finished product. We are a work in progress and that involves going through the hard times in order to be sanctified. Simply recognizing this can take such a distracting burden off of our shoulders because it is extremely hard to see straight when we are always looking behind us, lamenting that we are not perfect.

3)      Feeling better may sometimes come as a result, but it cannot be the purpose. When simply feeling better is our goal then our development in Jesus Christ is not what we are after. We are seeking after our own benefit. When anxious, we must acknowledge and know in our hearts that God has a plan, He is in control, and all things will work to His glory (which is to our good too!)

In closing, let us remember that freedom exists not simply in the ability to choose whatever course we want, but it is the ability to exist securely knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:35-39).