Have you seen the movie “HEAVEN IS FOR REAL”? It is based on the true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!
There is much debate on the validity of whether Colton really went to Heaven or not…this Thought for the Day is not intended to open that discussion but rather to explore the idea of Childlike Humility which I think we can all agree our culture desperately needs to develop.The film showed how Todd Burpo went through every imaginable storm a person could go through…financial, personal illness and injury and worst of all almost losing his four-year-old son, Colton who claims to have visited Heaven during a near death experience. Todd and his family are then challenged to examine the meaning from this remarkable event. The movie realistically depicted the struggle that they all went through to process this extraordinary experience of their little boy’s trip to heaven and back. Well worth the price of admission! My kids said the book is even better! I love this quote from the book that describes what childlike humility is:
“What is childlike humility? It’s not the lack of intelligence, but the lack of guile. The lack of an agenda. It’s that precious, fleeting time before we have accumulated enough pride or position to care what other people might think. The same un-self-conscious honesty that enables a three-year-old to splash joyfully in a rain puddle, or tumble laughing in the grass with a puppy, or point out loudly that you have a booger hanging out of your nose, is what is required to enter heaven. It is the opposite of ignorance—it is intellectual honesty: to be willing to accept reality and to call things what they are even when it is hard.”
I think that Todd Burpo nailed it!! The debate may go on whether Colton really went to heaven or not but it is for sure that Heaven is for Real!!! And the scriptures are clear that we need to have “faith like a child” which is the key to eternal life! In Matthew 18:3 (NASB) Jesus said,
Be humble enough to accept that God is so much bigger than you and that you will never “know everything”…just have faith and trust Him, for God loved you so much that He sacrificed His own son Jesus so that you and I would have eternal life in heaven! Embrace childlike humility and accept Jesus as your savior.
Life has a way of knocking you down but there is a way to navigate the storms that come our way and that is in trusting in Jesus! In Matthew 14:27-33 (NLT) it shows what happened to Peter when he took his eyes of Jesus…
“But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,”Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him.
“You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.”
Are you despairing today? Feeling hopeless? Do you feel like you are stuck? Just like Peter, when you focus on the wrong things, you will start to sink and will remain trapped. To further the point, look at what David, a man well acquainted with persecution and adversity said in Psalm 40:2…
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
The New Living Translation states it this way:
“He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”
That is exactly what Jesus can do for you today! All you need to do is change your perspective and look up to our Heavenly Father…God is just waiting to come to your rescue! He sent Jesus as part of that rescue plan and He is willing and able to pull you out of any mess you find yourself in. So the answer to our question today is to…Keep Your Focus on Jesus!
I will close with this foundation truth from Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB) that I pray will bring you great comfort!
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
If you would like to read more on this subject, check out 2 posts:
“Be a Leader, Not a Follower,” is something I have tried to pour into my daughters’ lives. For obvious reasons, I have taught them this, so they would not get mixed up with the wrong people, but also because they will never be great or successful, if they ride the coattails of other people. Albert Einstein said it perfectly:
To be successful in business and more importantly in life, you need to be a leader, even if that means walking alone at times. It is not easy, but a life of mediocrity and following the status quo is far worse! Or a life in pursuit of financial gain or power will leave you empty inside in the end. There is another benefit to walking alone and that is being a person of integrity and truth who not only knows what is right and wrong but also does it. We have strenuously taught our children to always stand up for what is right which is impossible when you are a mindless follower!
Edmund Burke once said,
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
It was Hamburg, 1936; during the celebration for the launch of a ship. In the crowd, one person refused to raise his arm to give the Nazi salute. The man was August Landmesser, seen in this photo which was published in a German newspaper in 1991. It is a truly polarizing image to see the courage and boldness of one person, who refused to participate in what he did not believe in.
I hope to never be in the same extreme situation as this man was, but every day I do face decisions at work or with friends where I need to decide whether I will participate in what I know is wrong in order to fit in or will I be a person of integrity who will stand up for what is right? Compromise is a slippery slope, once you make an exception to violate your beliefs the next time will be that much easier to fail to make the right decision. Integrity is everything!
What will you choose?
If you would like to read more on this topic, here is something I posted that you may like, called:
I think this is a question everyone asks at some point or another. Knowing who you are and what you are about is key. I read this quote from Thomas Jefferson that is amazing:
I love that thought, ACTION will delineate and define you! Did you know that Thomas Jefferson is referred to as “America’s Renaissance Man” because he was one of the most accomplished presidents in American History. Thomas Jefferson was a president, politician, inventor, author, educator, lawyer, architect, and philosopher. If anyone would know the key to success he would!!
I will close with this final thought from Pablo Picasso,
“Action is the foundational key to all success.”
You want to know who you are, you want to be successful? Then don’t waste time polling those around you…ACT!
Have you ever heard of the abbreviation “EGR “? I just recently was introduced to the term, which is short for “Extra Grace Required.”
I did some research and found this definition…
EGR n. Abbreviation for Extra Grace Required.
“A person in church whose ongoing spiritual and emotional needs frustrate the efforts of others to interact with that person or minister to that person.” (Source: http://www. dictionaryofchristianese.com/)
We have all met someone like this…A person who requires a lot of effort on our part to help. Sometimes, if we are being honest, it is a challenge just listening to what they are going through, but as I read the definition, I felt the Lord convict me and say to me that: “You require EGR too!”
We all do. We are all sinners. We all have fallen way short of the mark and we are all in need of God’s grace! I love how Max Lucado put it about the grace that God offers us…
“He gave us grace. Not just mercy, mind you, but grace. Grace goes beyond mercy. Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace threw him a party. Mercy prompted the Samaritan to bandage the wounds of the victim. Grace prompted him to leave his credit card as payment for the victim’s care. Mercy forgave the thief on the cross. Grace escorted him into paradise. Mercy pardons us. Grace woos and weds us. Grace does this! Grace is God walking into your world with a sparkle in his eye and an offer that’s hard to resist.”
It is all about Grace! So before we say, “Extra Grace Required” for someone else, remember we all require extra grace!
If you have spent any amount of time on earth, at some point or another you have felt burnt out, whether it be excessive school work, managing the kids’ schedules, or a huge project deadline at work. Burnout is not just physical exhaustion, as some may think it to be, it can also cause emotional and spiritual fatigue as well. In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter stated that,
“Burnout is defined as a state of chronic stress and frustration that leads to:
Physical and emotional exhaustion;
Feelings of cynicism and detachment; and
A sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.”
In another article, I read that a new cause of employee burnout is always “Being On”. Social media, smart phones and access to work emails pressures people to be “on,” even after hours. Burnout is a serious issue, one which many people ignore, but to the detriment of themselves, and everyone around them. Someone once said that,
“Burn out is what happens to you when lose your purpose.”
I think that is such a great observation. The times in my life when I have felt burnt out, I was at my lowest point, finding myself going through the motions, aimlessly adrift with no purpose and no hope. John Maxwell put it this way,
Burn out can have serious consequences on every aspect of our lives including our will to help others. It can affect out family lives and our health. If your answer to the question is “yes,” that you are burnt out, then I encourage you to take a break from the hectic schedule, and pressures of life and get some much needed R&R. The time you take to just “stop and take a breath” well pay dividends!
Here is a final word from Steven Furtick from his incredible sermon series called “Moodswingers.”
“Burnout is when the demand placed on you is greater than the resource available to you. Could it be that if God’s presence is inside you that you have unlimited resource. But just when your lights go out, you no longer can access what’s available to you?”
Do you remember the classic song from Disney’s Pinocchio, “When You Wish Upon a Star”…Jiminy Cricket sang these lyrics oh so long ago…
When you wish upon a star Makes no difference who you are Anything your heart desires Will come to you
Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true
“Anything your heart desires will come to you.”Growing up we all had dreams and aspirations…whether it was to walk on the moon, cure cancer, or score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. But sadly, some people along the way, give up their dreams and settle for what was easily achievable. The problem is, when you let go of that thing that fills you with passion, a piece of you goes away as well. Or maybe you are rationalizing in your mind that this job is just temporary, “one day” I will make a move and purse my dream job. But is you are not careful “one day” can become a lifetime of excuses to not begin. Jeremy Riddle made this profound statement,
Whether you have “settled” or have yet to “start,” it is clear that the fulfillment of your dreams will not come just by“Wishing Upon A Star,”you need start and pay the price, aka “put in the work” to make it happen!
I remember growing up in Pennsylvania as a kid, I wanted to make some extra money; so I made a pitcher of lemonade and set up a folding table and got to work. The problem was, I lived off a small country road and there was very little traffic, whether by foot or vehicle. Needless to say, I did not make much that day…hahaha! You’ve heard the old adage…
Which is a phrase used to encourage optimism and a “can-do attitude” in the face of adversity or misfortune. Though it is put on bumper stickers and feels played out, there is tremendous truth that we can use in our lives when we are squeezed!
I once heard a great analogy contrasting the pressures of life with a sponge. Bishop O.W. Prince compared it this way:
“What is really inside of us will come spilling out of us when life puts the squeeze on us. Crisis will usually reveal what is really in our hearts. It is easy to do and say the right things when life is calm and everything is going right, but what we say and do when chaos hits and the pressure is on tends to paint a more accurate picture of who we really are.”
Wow! That is convicting! God has been showing me that I have some work to do! Just like a sponge, when we are squeezed, what is in us will come flowing out! The question is, will it be sour like lemons or sweet like lemonade? In James 19-20 (NLT), we are given this word of advice…
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
So I ask you…What’s in your Sponge?
When you are squeezed, what comes out? WILL it cause a mess and hurt those around you, or WILL it be full of grace and uplifting? Here is a promise of what will happen if you choose the latter…
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (NLT)
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines opposition as: “action that is done to stop or defeat someone or something.” Have you experienced opposition in your life? Better question would probably be, has anyone not experience some amount in their life. Whether that was from a neighborhood bully or student in school or a boss at our job, everyone at some point or another has faced it. But what I want to talk about is the defiance that comes as a result of being a Christian. Being associated with Jesus is going to cost you. If you look at the book of John there are numerous occasions that people were persecuted just for their association with him…
The Pharisees expelled a man who was cured of blindness from the synagogue just because Jesus was the one who cured him. (See John 9:1-34)
Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.” (See John 11:16 NLT)
The Leading Priests decided to kill Lazarus just because Jesus raised him from the dead and they were losing followers. (See John 12:10-11)
This opposition did not stop in the time of Jesus life…Though it is not widely broadcasted in the nightly news, Christian are being persecuted all over the world today.
“According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population live in areas with severe religious restrictions. Many of these people are Christians. Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in the person of Jesus Christ.” (Source www.opendoorsusa.org/persecution/about-persecution)
Following Jesus has great rewards, but hardship will come. We wonder why we get ridiculed and face animosity for being a Christian, but John 15:18-20 (NLT) is very clear the reason for the World’s Hatred:
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.
Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.”
Mark Driscoll said something that really stuck out for me…
Whenever you start serving God in a new way, you are breaking into territory that the enemy wants to keep. The Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 16:9 (NKJV) that:
“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”
Opposition will always come when we try to do the Lord’s work, just expect it because the enemy does not want you to take away his territory! Press on through and trust that God is Sovereign! And most importantly pray! Prayer changes circumstances and people. In the book, Draw the Circle, Mark Batterson gives this profound statement that will revolutionize our lives if we can grasp this:
Opposition is inevitable but the enemy is ineffectual when counteract the attacks with prayer! I will close with the truth from 1 John 4:4 (NASB)
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He [Jesus] who is in you than he [Satan – our enemy] who is in the world.”
The world lost the comedic genius of Robin Williams on August 11, 2014. Besides inducing laughter and smiles to people around the world, he was an incredible dramatic actor who brought characters like Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams (Patch Adams) Sean Maguire (Good Will Hunting) and my personal favorite John Keating (Dead Poets Society) to life. As I think about the joy that Robin Williams brought to his audiences, I am saddened to the core that he could not find enough for himself to prevent the depression from consuming him. Life is fragile and at times like this it is natural to reflect upon our own mortality and take inventory. Too often we take for granted that we have all the time in the world to tell people how we feel about them or to reconcile with a friend or family member that we are estranged from. It is critical for us to realize that life is brief… James 4:14 (NASB) gives this somber reminder…
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
That may be the case, but rather than despair, I think this should trigger us to make some changes….and to live life with purpose. In the 1989 classic, Dead Poets Society, Robin William’s portrayal of Professor John Keating, inspired me to be more than I was, and to live life to the fullest! In one of the most iconic scenes, Robin Williams gives this life lesson…
Make your life extraordinary! Our lives may be a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, but we can leave an impact that lasts for generations to come. It is time to stop wasting time…seize the day and make an impact! I endeavor to that with my wife and children, as well as friends and pretty much anyone I come into contact with. I am far from hitting the mark but I am always striving to do better. As the new school year approaches, I have been encouraging my daughters to look for that person who is being left out or just doesn’t fit in, and be a friend to them. The late great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar made this profound statement…
And that is so true! People who know me today would probably be surprised to hear this, but I was that kid that was in need of kindness and a friend. Living an extraordinary life is not about acquiring power or about monetary wealth or living in an extravagant house or driving a luxury car, but by making a difference in the lives of the people in your sphere of influence. John Maxwell has one of the best definitions of success which is my mantra and what I would call living an extraordinary life…
“Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most.”
If you asked those closest to you, what would they say? I love how Anna Quindlen put it…
This Thought for the Day is all about making an impact on the people who are around you. Take the time to spend with your children, (and your spouse) instead of working late, you will never regret that! The very last command that Jesus made to the disciples in Matthew 28:19 was about making an impact, He said:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Life is fragile. Life is brief. Make an impact! Seize the Day!
So what does that mean for you? What habits or routines do you need to break? Do you need to start leaving work on time so that you are there for the people in your lives that need you to be around more? What opportunity or decision are you hesitating on to make that could make an impact? The choice is yours…
For those unfamiliar with the Dead Poets Society, check out this inspiring scene…Carpe Diem!