★ Thought for the Day – Honest Self-Evaluation ★

My pastor shared this quote fro102 - Daily Dependence - Billy Graham - A Good Fatherm Billy Graham last Sunday for his Father’s Day message…

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”

It was a great introductory quote to engage all the Fathers in the room for sure, (I know I was…)  He went on to say that we need to be intentional in our own spiritual growth, intentional in our instruction/discipline, and intentional in our affection towards our children.  He also said that we need to be “Marked by God’s Word!”  Now if you’ve been following our blog, you know we’ve been talking a lot about reading the Bible and pursuing God so it should not be a surprise to any of you that this resonated with me; but it also got me thinking about that statement…“Am I really marked?'”  I think that it’s a good thing to step back and do an honest self-evaluation when you are given a challenge like that.  I love what our 26th president Theodore Roosevelt said in regards to honest self-evaluation…

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.”
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

Amen?  I love that so much!!  Not only for the sarcasm but also the truth!! How would things be different if we would stop and take a moment to “think” before we “put our f102 - Daily Dependence - Self-Evaluationoot in our mouths” and make a mess of things?

In two months I will be required by my company to do a task that I absolutely hate…the dreaded self-evaluation.  I know that the purpose is to give my supervisor an understanding of what I believe I have accomplished in the past year but it feels so much like “tooting my own horn.”  Now don’t get me wrong, I do avail myself of the opportunity but I attempt to be honest in the evaluation which leads me to the muse for this Thought for the Day”…

Romans 12:3 (NLT) says…

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are.  Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”

102 - Daily Dependence - X_ (1)It’s time to get honest…so what do you think of that?  Be careful how quickly you answer…Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) sheds some light on how good we are at evaluating ourselves…

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?”

When I think over my life and of all the mistakes I’ve made, the careless words and foolish choices that could have gotten me in much more than some hot water, it’s hard to believe that I am the same person.  There is so much I regret, but that makes me also so grateful for the life that I have as a born again believer in Jesus.  I truly am a changed man as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

102 - Daily Dependence - New Creation - 2 Corinthians 5-17 - New Creation - Copy

But even after walking with the Lord for the past 18 years, I still find myself saying and doing things I wish I wouldn’t.  It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15 (ESV)

“For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

That unfortunately is the human condition…we are all sinners and fall short of what God desires for our life, (see Romans 3:23).  The key is not to give up chasing after God, even after we fail to the right thing.  My wife an expression she always says that we need to 102 - Daily Dependence - Strive for Progress Not Perfection“strive for progress, not perfection.”  The reality is we can never achieve perfection this side of heaven but if we are always striving for progress, our life will be in an upward curve.  Even if we stumble, as long as we pick ourselves up and get back on track pursuing God’s desire for us, we will always be improving.  And we need to be very careful not to allow the enemy to get a foothold in our minds that we will never change.  Romans 3:24 (ESV) piggybacks on the fact that though we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” with this beautiful truth that we…

102 - Daily Dependence - License to Sin“are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

Of course this is not a license to sin!  Too often people try to play the “Grace card” as a way to justify continuing to sin.  That is not what Grace is about!  Grace is a gift to overcome sin not to justify it!

102 - Daily Dependence - Grace is Not A License to Sin

Going back to my Pastor’s statement about being “Marked by God’s Word,” I was reading Romans 12:9-21 the other morning from the English Stand Version (ESV) Translation and it had this heading…“Marks of the True Christian.”  Check it out, it is a powerful list!  To paraphrase, a “True Christian” should be genuine in their love for others…Should hate evil and be on fire to serve the Lord even though they may go through trouble.  A “Marked Christian’s” mission should be to live in harmony with everyone regardless of what they may do to us!  Verse 21 wraps up “The Mark of a True Christian” with this…

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Not what the typical human response is though huh?  I know it’s certainly was not mine until I started walking with God in 1998.  Before that, I can testify that was not my attitude at all…I was self-centered, egotistical and lived my life with one objective…it was all about me!  If you hurt me that was it, I would cut you out of my life, regardless of your attempts to seek forgiveness…you were dead to me.  I never thought about helping others, I just wanted my needs met.  But everything has changed since accepting Jesus as my savior.  Now I look for opportunities to help others, to be an encouragement and look out for those God brings into my life.

There was a man in the early church that I endeavor to be like which Acts 4:36 (NLT) introduces us to…

“For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”).  He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.”

What a name!  “A Son of Encouragement!”  He is described in greater detail in Acts 11:24 (NLT)…

“Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith.  And many people were brought to the Lord.”

That is my prayer, to be “A Son of Encouragement and to be a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith,” that many people will come to the Lord as a result!”  You see after all the “evaluation” is done and I realize I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I step back and realize despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!!

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he had this life lesson on this verse …

“Despite the Corinthian’s problems, Paul could see their genuine spiritual gifts, their repentance, and their love for God, and he wanted these things to encourage them to further growth. Likewise, we must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him by examining whether or not we are expressing His likeness and character in increasing measure (see also 2 Peter 1:3-8).

“We must always make sure we are maturing in our walks with Him!”  It’s a command!  But something I have  realize and I hope you gleam this as well, I can never meet God’s standard of Holiness, I just need to step back and acknowledge that despite all my shortcomings and failings, God loves me nonetheless!!!!  I will close with Acts 15:11 (NLT)…

“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” 

You see there is nothing we can do to make God love us anymore or any less!  Matt Redman has this beautiful song called “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” that is a beautiful reminder of how important and loved we are regardless of what we do, nothing is beyond God’s ability to forgive, no matter “how unforgivable” we may feel that it is…It is by the undeserved grace of God that we are saved!

 

 

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★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

17 - Daily Dependence - Dilbert - Christmas PartyI love this comic for two reasons…One because I have worked for companies that scheduled the “Holiday Party” in January to save some money…(kind of defeats the purpose)…and the other because it opens today’s “Reason for the Season” with reminding us of the “stuff” that has to be done.  In yesterdays ★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★ we explored how to break the spirit of greed and materialism and adopt a new mindset focused on Jesus and others.  To close out that “Reason for the Season,” and transition for today’s, here is a powerful insight from David Jeremiah,
17 - Daily Dependence - Consumed with BusynessI pray as the Advent Season has been a time for reflection and renewal in how you view the 25 days leading up to Christmas.  I know that today’s title has probably tipped my hand in where this is going, but before that, let’s talk about all the great things about this time of year.  Prior to going artificial, finding a Christmas tree and the decorating process has always been a sweet time of connection with our family as we reminisced over the various ornaments from different years and seeing old photographs in some of them.  Back when we lived in the northeast, I loved going ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, though if you 17 - Daily Dependence - Flipsidewere on the ice at the same time, you would need to keep a wide berth from me as I am an unstable skater!  Christmas Caroling, great food, and of course presents come to my mind as well!  There is a magical feeling of good will and compassion for one another…It’s the most wonderful time of year!  But as my uncle once told me, “there is a flip side to everything.” Amidst all the merrymaking…comes the crowded malls, endless list of presents to purchase, lights to be strung up on the house, Christmas cards to address and get out in time, and of course the resulting credit card bills after Christmas.  There is even a Christmas Carol Parody by Bob Rivers about the flip side of Christmas called the “12 Pains of Christmas.”  Growing up it was one of my favorites.  It’s easy to lose yourself in all the chaos of the things that have to get done.

My wife sent this comic to me and it just cracked me up!

17 - Daily Dependence - Countdown to Star WarsEven if you are not a fan of the most epic, awesome and mind-blowing space odyssey ever conceived and executed on the silver screen, you are well away of the much-anticipated Star
Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens that released last night!  A good friend of mine has been sending me countdowns17 - Star Wars Countdown to when we are hitting the theaters with the kids to see it!  As you can imagine, this has had my attention but the only think that can rival Disney’s endless marketing, is the incessant barrage from retailers trying to create a panic…”Time is running out”…”Act now before it’s too late”…”Only 7 days left until Christmas”…and so on.

So how has your Christmas season been going?  Have you been feeling pressured as the “To-Do” lists grow, and your schedules is jam-packed?  It’s no surprise that people get stressed out with so much to accomplish.  When you stop and think about it though, everything we consume ourselves with, is intended to make the most of this special time but it can end up leaving us drained and stressed to the hilt resulting in the opposite desired outcome.  Whether it be because of procrastination or truly too much to accomplish, I believe a lot of the craze is a result of not building in enough margin in our life…enough time to shop, enough time to drive from point A to point B, enough down time, and ultimately enough sleep…We are consumed with busyness and if we are not careful, the hustle and bustle, will cause to miss the “Reason for the Season”…the remembrance of the birth of Jesus…and ultimately steal our joy away from this wonderful time of year! But there is hope; if we could get our priorities straight we can have peace even with the lists.  17 - Daily Dependence - Billy Graham - Make Room for JesusI read this article from Billy Graham, “Make room for Jesus as you observe Christmas,” and this point really got to me about how are priorities…

“must bring great sadness to God to see the way we’ve treated His Son – not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.  The problem isn’t just that we’ve become preoccupied with material things…Nor is it only because Christ today is banned from our public celebrations of Christmas…The real problem is within our souls…Tragically, we still have no room for Jesus in our lives.”

If the whirlwind of “things to do” that I have been talking about describes how you typically experience this season, I want to encourage you to not let this year go by the same way. You can have peace…Day 8 of the of 121 Advent Bible Plan gives us some motivation too…

“When we live in peace, God is glorified because He is the God of peace. We reflect Him through peace, but we also receive lives of good, of flourishing. This is why peace matters!”

Christmas can be a great opportunity to reflect on what God has done for you, and all the blessings in your life…which I hope the past 17 days have helped you along the path.  Henri Nouwen Defined Christmas this way,

“Songs, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and sweet words do not make Christmas.
Christmas is saying yes to something beyond all emotions and feelings.
Christmas is saying yes to a hope based on God’s initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel.
Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine.”

Christmas is saying yes Jesus and following His example.  He was the ultimate example for TRUE HUMILITY.  During this time I like to take stock in how I am measuring up, to become more humble and less self-absorbed.  I would like to say I am further along but I have blown it many times.  I love this definition from John Maxwell on what Humility

“Humility is a true recognition of our strengths and our weaknesses and then a willingness to be secure enough to admit our weaknesses and allow other people to come alongside of us.  Because a humble person is one, who seeks other people’s advice, their help, asks questions and understands as my friend John Wooden one time said, ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’”

Humility is about recognizing our own short comings and allow yourself to be molded by others.  It is also about being that for someone else, and not miss an opportunity to make an impact those around you because you are consumed with getting stuff done.  So with humble mindset, here is a fresh way to look at the “To-Do” List…Let’s push aside all the distractions and this year let’s commit to:17 - Daily Dependence - Christmas List

  1. Be Present
    – Let’s put down the iPad or smartphone and really engage with those in front of us.
  2. Wrap Someone in a Hug
    – Let’s look for an opportunity to show the love of Christ to someone in need.
  3. Send Peace
    – It used to be a letter, but you can always send a text, Facebook message or email to someone you haven’t talked with in a while to let them know you care.
  4. Donate Food
    – Find a food pantry to serve at or help to feed those less fortunate.  There is a great opportunity on tomorrow in Dallas if you are free…click here for more information.
  5. Make Love (…keep it G-Rated)
    The Bible says in John 3:16 (NIV)…

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

17 - Daily Dependence - Doing for OthersBe the hands and feet of God where you live, work and play.  I will take a moment to share something very special that my 12-year old daughter made this for me last weekend for breakfast that made my day!  I share this to inspire you to find some way big or small to bring some love into the people’s lives around you!

  1. Be the Light
    There is such negativity in the world…a pervasive atmosphere of hopelessness, pessimism, skepticism, abounds and I believe that is a result of a lack of people who genuinely care for anyone other than themselves.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

Be the light that drives out the darkness!  In Matthew 5:14, 16 (NKJV), Jesus said, 17 - Matthew 5-14_16 - Let Your Light ShineHow different would this world be if this list was the kind of busyness we were consumed with??  How different would we be if we did approach it that way?  And the great thing is, you can start today and if you continue, there is a bonus for you…You will feel less stressed and depressed.  Mark Twain gives us some great advice…

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer everybody else up.”  

I saw this happen in my life just two weeks ago when my oldest daughter had a piano recital at a local Assisted Living Facility.  I love to watch her play piano but if I am being honest with you, the timing was terrible.  It was at 2 pm on a Saturday and my “to do list” for that day was packed…But as I watched the residents slowly enter the lobby with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, I felt God move in my heart and gently show me how much I had to be grateful for.  It also reminded me of my mother who since having a stroke now lives in a similar facility.  As the recital went on and I surveyed the room of over 30 residents in attendance, it was incredible the joy these“young Mozarts” brought to the residents who probably don’t have many visitors.  17 - Daily Dependence - Playing Piano for People in an Assited LivingThis woman in particular got my attention because she put her hand out after each performance to “high five” the child to encourage them that they did great!  You can see the beaming look in her face, she was being the light.  As I soaked in that moment, my “to do list” that was so important just an hour earlier was now gone from my mind and I felt so strongly…This is what Christmas is all about!  Being the light to those around me is all that matters!  17 - Daily Dependence - Paint brush Gift from the ResidentsWhen the recital concluded, the children were blessed with this special Paint Brush Gift that the Residents made for them to say thank you!

You may have noticed that this post came a day late and I do apologize for that!  I too was consumed with busyness but for a wonderful reason…Tonight we are doing a presentation for my in-law’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and I was in charge of the PowerPoint that took longer than expected…Hahahah!  Though we missed a day, we will still post 25 Days of Thankfulness, we just run through December 26.  I will close with this question, how do keep Christmas in your heart and not be consumed with busyness?   Steve Maraboli will help us with that answer…

17 - Daily Dependnece - Steve Maraboli - Keep Christ in Christmas“Want to Keep Christ in Christmas?

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

Here is a link to a very cool modern interpretation of the historical events surrounding Jesus’ birth and how it might have been had a social network existed at that time.

A Social Network Christmas

I leave you with this blessing from Philippians 1:2 (ESV)

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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