★ Thought for the Day – What’s Your Story? ★

I am excited to announce that today is our 200th post!!

It is also the 3 year anniversary since the Daily Dependence blog was born!  And the first post that will also include an audio recording if you prefer to listen instead of reading, just click here to listen.

 

Today I want to ask you this question…

What’s Your Story?

We all have one.  It could be that you were adopted, or grew up in a single parent home, or maybe you had both parents under one roof.  Perhaps your family was rich or poor or somewhere in the middle.  You may have grown up believing in God, or never have darkened a church door in your life, or you could have come to faith later in life.  Whatever your family of origin, socioeconomic circumstances and religious background may be, we all have a story which has helped shape and define the way we behave and interact with others.

For me, I grew up in a one stoplight town in Pennsylvania with my mom, brother and sister.  As a divorced woman with 3 kids to support, my mom worked herself to the bone as a maid in a local resort destination but unfortunately God really did not have any real part of our lives.  I have been thinking a lot about my story lately since my oldest and daughter got back from a trip to Zaragoza, Mexico.  If you are thinking “I have never heard of a vacation destination with that name,” well that’s because no one would ever pick there to spend a week unless they had family there or as a result of their car breaking down while driving through to somewhere else.  Zaragoza is a dirt poor town near the Mexico–US border with Texas, 1 hour southwest of the Del Rio border crossing.  With a population of approximately 12,000, Zaragoza is far from any resort area; in fact, it is 1,000 miles to the north of Acapulco, Mexico.

The reason we were there was to share the love of Jesus through acts of service…from passing out food in the neighboring homes, to putting on Vacation Bible School for the children, to facilitating men’s and women’s bible studies.  The video below was produced by a friend of mine on the trip that captures the incredible week of ministry that our church experienced as we partnered with the local church called “Rancho Dos Countries” (www.ranchodoscountries.com) in Zaragoza, Mexico.

It was my first mission trip and was absolutely amazing!  I shared the video with a buddy of mine and he had this to say…

“Looks like you helped bring a bunch of joy to some folks man!”

My response to him and what I want to share with you today is that it was just the opposite!  I have spent over a year going out of my mind as a result of a project I am on and all the stress it has caused, but one week in Mexico has change my attitude and outlook on life!  While he was correct that I did help some people, they helped me far more!  I learned three major things while in Mexico:

1.  Service.

I’ve always been a person who would pitch-in with whatever is needed.  On the missions trip I learned very quickly that you will do a variety of jobs and there is absolutely no room for ego.  From the Team Leaders to the Pastor to the youngest child on the trip, everybody was expected to shoulder their fair share and do whatever was asked of them without complaint and with joy.  And that is exactly what happened!  It was truly incredible to see Psalm 133:1 (NIV) in action!!  

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

We left from Mansfield, Texas as acquaintances but have come back as a family!

The second thing I learned was:

2.  Gratitude.

Many times I have acknowledged that God has blessed me with a beautiful family, a wonderful house, and a great job but until this trip I never truly understood how much I really am! The abject poverty that I saw on this trip was heart wrenching and quite honestly difficult for me to believe that in the 21st-century there still exists!

The people of Zaragoza have so little and yet when you talk with them, there is a deep joy and appreciation of what God has done in their lives.  It was inspiring and convicting at the same time.

The final lesson I learned was:

3.  Perspective.

I realized that the things that I worry about are so meaningless.  Yes I may have a bad day at work or having issues on a tough project, but there are people not only in Mexico but all over the world who spend their days just fighting to survive.  While there to encourage the people, I found myself being far more encouraged by them.  I met a man there named Francisco.  I first saw him riding up a hill towards me on the makeshift bicycle you see on bottom right of the photo.  When he reached me and of the other guys from our team, we greeted with the biggest smile.  You may not have noticed it at first but there is a crank shaft that goes from the handle bars to the front wheels and that is because Francisco has no legs.  He is known all around the town I would suspect because of the bicycle and his physical limitations but after talking with him for a half hour or so through a translator I believe it’s because of his joyful attitude and fun loving spirit.  He also does an incredible job of shining shoes which is how he supports his wife and two daughters.  We were blessed to hear his testimony of how 20 years ago he tried to jump on a moving train and lost his grip resulting in the dual amputation.  If that were not traumatic enough, Francisco was also dragged by the train for a while before he got free.  When he was found, Francisco was assumed dead and sent to the morgue.  For 12 hours he laid there until the medical examiner discovered he was alive!!  As I listened to this miraculous story, it is undeniable that the hand of God was o on him that night and has been for the past 2 decades because there has never been a day in my life that I have ever gone to work with an ounce of his joy half it is without a doubt embodies what the Apostle Paul commanded in Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV):

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

I have quoted this scripture many times believing in my heart that I was fulfilling the charge, only to see from the life of a humble shoeshine man that I have far to go. Because of Francisco my perspective has been forever changed.  Boy I tell you nothing helps you more to forget about your problems like going on a mission trip to serve and help others because you never know how God will not work through you BUT to you!!

In the post ★ Thought for the Day – Back Into the Fire ★ I shared this verse from 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ESV)…

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

God comforts us so that we will turn around and comfort those in need.  That is why Missions Trips are so wonderful, because you get to partner with God, to be His hands and feet in the fulfillment of the Great Commission that Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV):

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'”

Everyone has a story.  Everyone has gone through hardships and adversity, some much more than others.  The key though is what to you do with it??  My wife  put it perfectly when we were talking about this Thought,

I love that!  We all have story. How can you use your story to glorify God?  Bill Hybels nailed it when he said:

“It’s incredible to realize that what we do each day has meaning in the big picture of God’s plan.”

Like Francisco, as we share our story of what God has carried us through, we can encourage and inspire others in His masterplan!  I leave you with the same command to Go Make Disciples of all Nations, not just in another country but in your neighborhood, school or workplace!  There are needs everywhere and I pray that you will move you into action!

 

If you would like to read Part 2, click here.

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★ Thought for the Day – Begging God For_____? ★

As we come to the closing of another year, and the festivities begin with Thanksgiving tomorrow, and then right around the corner Christmas…I wanted to tap the breaks to help us get ready for that all important day that occurs in between….you guessed it Black Friday!  I saw this comic and thought it was priceless…and so true.  A little Black Friday humor!  I don’t know about you, but I do not subscribe to camping out all night or getting up at the crack of dawn to fight the crowd88 - Daily Dependence - Black Friday Realitys in order to get a great deal.  Now anyone who knows me, knows I always hunt for a deal and then will even try to negotiate the price further.  In fact my cousin even referred to me as Dave Ramsey Jr…but you will not see me captured on the news running through a Wal-Mart at 5 am for door buster deals.

So what is on your Christmas list?  What is the one thing you must have?  Maybe a LCD Flat Screen TV? A Coach hand bag?  A Fitbit, to enhance your workout?  Maybe a Self-Balancing 2 Wheel Scooter or a Drone/Quadcopter?  Whatever it is, you can be sure the desire for it has been feed by the incessant Black Friday marketing on which store has the best deal.  I was sick of the commercials before we even got out of October and we still have another month to go.  Tonight my wife and I made a run to the Target, and as we passed Home Depot they were in full swing selling Christmas trees in the parking lot…ugh…I want to transition from the red-faced child screaming “Daddy I want this _____” in the toy section, to what we do to God in our prayers.  Do you find your prayers centering on stuff or a job promotion or finding a spouse?  Do you pray to God with a transactional attitude that you bring a checklist of items for Him to grant?  Or do you pray to Him with a relational attitude that you want to grow closer and get to know God?  There is nothing wrong with asking God to be promoted or to find a spouse but when it is the only reason you talk with Him that is the problem.  What I hate more about the crowds on Black Friday is what the day turns people into…irrational, crazed shopaholics!  88 - Daily Dependence - Black Fridat MadnessIn the ★ Thought for the Day – Keeping Up With The Joneses? ★, we delved into the need to be content with what God has provided for us.  Proverbs 30:7-8 (NLT) is one of my absolute favorite verses on this subject, which says,

"O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die.  First, help me never to tell a lie.  Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!”
“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die.  First, help me never to tell a lie.  Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!”

What would happen if instead of begging God to grant all of our greeds, we would selflessly pray for God to change our hearts to want what He wants…integrity and contentment?  A prayer I pray daily is for God to make me more like Him…to be a better husband, a better father and a better servant to all.  Proverbs 30 is so powerful; I especially love verse 9 that says,

“Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?”  And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”

How different would our lives be if we embraced this wisdom?  The bridge between going to God for our greeds, to our needs is a grateful heart.  Psalms 100:4-5 (NLT) says,

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.”

Too often we get consumed with what we don’t have instead of being thankful for what we do.  I know myself I get lost sometimes looking at the bank account and wishing there was more money and not appreciating all that God has done for me.  It is a natural feeling to long for more, or to get twisted up comparing our situations with others but God doesn’t want that for us.  He longs for us to get our priorities straight and trust in Him to be our provider, releasing all our anxieties.  The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Steven Furtick made this profound statement about this verse…

“One of the reasons we’re so anxious about what’s coming, is because we’re not thankful enough for what we have.  And so Paul says, if all you ever pray about is what you need but never stop and thank God for what you have, you’ll always be anxious.”  

Amen!!  There is such wisdom in that statement!  I know myself whenever I shift my focus from God and to my circumstance, anxiety always results.  Verse 7 of Philippians 4 goes on to say,

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

Stephen Furtick went on to say,

“We all want the ‘peace of God’ in verse 7, but to get that, we need to first go through verse 6, and be thankful for what God has provided for us.  It is all about having the right    perspective with our priorities aligned with God’s.”`

When we were in at the First Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX, I saw this plaque and it got me thinking…

“What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”

If that were true, how much would be gone when the alarm clock broke the silence at 4:30 am?  It is really convicting to me.  Cultivating a heart of gratitude really is the key, I would like to reverse this Thought for the Day and pose this question to you…

88 - Daily Dependence - I Am Thankful forFor me I am so grateful for the life God has blessed me with – a beautiful wife and wonderful children, a great home and job…words cannot express my thankfulness!  Most of all I am thankful for who I am in God!  The late, great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar said,

“The greatest source of happiness is the ability to be grateful at all times.” 

As we, as a nation set aside tomorrow for giving thanks, I would like to challenge us to do what Zig Ziglar said “to be grateful at all times,” and in all circumstances.  Let your thankfulness be not just once a year, but all 365 days!  In keeping with this philosophy, starting on December 1, 2015, we will be starting a 25 Day series where we will delve into the Reasons for Thankfulness for the coming Advent Season.

88 - Daily Dependence - 25 Days of Thanksgiving

You can see the first post here: ★ Day 01 – Reason for the Season – Why Do We Celebrate?

Or see them all (including this one) by clicking here…Reason for the Season

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!