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Choose Not to Be an Isolated Christian

April 14, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

Christian loners may be shocked to find out that God is more about community than individualism. He models this in the Trinitarian relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is further exemplified in the grace-filled gesture of making salvation available for all mankind so we, too, can enter into that relationship.

Whether we like it or not, people are interconnected. We are interconnected with God and with each other. So isolation for the Christian is not a viable option. Christians should be coming in contact with non-Christians so they have someone to share the gospel with, but they should also be meeting regularly with like-minded believers for encouragement and edification. This can be done by going to church, a Bible study, or a small group. In other words, Christians should be meeting regularly with a community of believers.

Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and left His followers on earth to communicate His message of salvation. They did this by worshipping Him, serving Him, serving others, growing in a relationship with Him, and sharing the gospel. So in essence, each individual was “the Church.” However, the analogy might go awry when people use this philosophy as a license for not meeting together with other Christians. For not only were these believers “the Church” independently, they were “the Church” collectively, as well.

Some get turned off at the concept of attending church. They think more harm than good has been done in the name of Christianity. It’s true that some atrocities have been done in the Name of Christ but that doesn’t make it right. There is a lot of good that comes from churches. Christian churches have pushed for every humane reform conceivable which includes providing education for all classes of people, cleaning up hospitals, opening orphanages, feeding the homeless, being the first to integrate in the South, and much more. In fact, there was a time that church was the only thing that could cross the color line and get away with it.

Some use the argument that going to church will not make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car. That is true. A local church is only as good as the Christians who attend it. But if you want your car fixed, you take it to a garage. If you want to find other Christians, a church might be a good place to start.

From the beginning, God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18) There are things we gain by being with others that we can’t learn by being isolated. Loners never have to focus on anyone but themselves. That’s not what the Christian life is all about. While it’s true that people can be irritating, Christian concepts like caring and sharing are hard to develop all alone.

Consider this… Churches are filled with imperfect, struggling people. Churches are hospitals for sinners, not sanctuaries for saints. A perfect church would have no members.

One final thought… Instead of looking for perfection in people, why not look for progress? Look at how far they’ve come, not how far they have to go. If you think those people are imperfect now, you should have seen them a year or two ago.

 


Choose to Explore Contradictory Concepts

April 7, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

There is no denying we live in a world where something good is referred to as bad and something can be so hot it’s considered cool. We have become adept in accepting things that sound illogical. That’s why the oxymoron is so common today.

Oxymora are phrases where words that seem to have opposite meanings are used together for a special effect. It’s a contradiction in terms. One example would be “pretty ugly.” How can something be “pretty” and “ugly” at the same time? Who knows? But in the English language, it is commonly accepted.

The word “oxymoron” is an oxymoron in itself. It comes from the ancient Greek. “Oxus” means sharp or keen; “Moros” means dull or foolish. Therefore, we have a word which means sharp dullness or as some like to say, “a foolish wise.” I guess some things we’ll never understand, but in all its incongruousness, the oxymoron permeates everyday communication.

Here are a few and I’m sure you could come up with many more. The list is endless.

  • same difference
  • living dead
  • virtual reality
  • sweet sorrow
  • limited lifetime warranty
  • original copy
  • authentic reproduction
  • definite maybe
  • local long distance
  • genuine imitation
  • pail volunteers
  • non-dairy creamer
  • new classic
  • honest thief
  • quiet noise

Some oxymora have become so laughable you rarely see them anymore. Who can say honest politician without smirking? Anyone using those words together must be terribly nice or standing fast on bittersweet memories of days gone by and unaware of the constant changes in our society. Good grief! But I digress…

So adept have we become at accepting this way of communicating that I’m amazed people have trouble believing the Bible. For at first glance, it appears to have many contradictory concepts as well. We have the virgin birth which many would consider an oxymoron. We have the long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ, coming to earth as a baby not a warrior. After He convinces everyone He is the Savior, He is crucified and dies. Then He is resurrected and goes off to heaven. God just doesn’t seem to do things in what we humans would call a logical way.

There are other things God mentions that may seem illogical to us:

  • Jesus is the beginning and the end. (Revelation 1:8)
  • God became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)
  • If we want to get, we must give. (Ecclesiastes 11:1; Luke 6:38)
  • We must forgive others even if they don’t forgive us. (Matthew 6:15)
  • If we want to live forever, we must die. (Matthew 16:25)
  • Freedom means serving others. (Galatians 5:13)
  • God uses the foolish to confound the wise. (I Corinthians 1:27)
  • To be exalted, we must humble ourselves. (Matthew 18:14; 1 Peter 5:6)
  • God loved the world so much He sent His Son to die for it. (John 3:16,17)

Consider this… On the surface this list may seem like a contradiction of concepts. However, just like oxymora are used for special effects, God uses Biblical phraseology in the same way. It deepens our understanding of salvation and enhances our relationship with God.

Perhaps if we gave the Bible the same consideration we give our everyday language, these concepts would not seem so foreign to us. In a world where good can be bad but really be good, it should be easier to accept the concept that Jesus lived and died but can really be alive!

One final thought… Just because we can’t see a physical image of God, doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. And that’s the long and short of it!

 

 

 

 


Choose to Be Perfect

March 31, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

Reading “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” in Matthew 5:48 reminds me of all my imperfections – which are many to be sure. The imperfection I hate most in my life is that I’m not perfect.

Those who struggle with perfection know too well the feeling of never really being good enough. We are like those children learning to write the alphabet for the first time who tear their papers up the second they see they have malformed a letter. It makes no difference that they made it to the “R” without a problem. If the “S” looks sloppy, then in the trash it goes. Practically perfect people are hard on themselves.

In psychological terms, perfectionism is the belief that perfection can and should be attained. When that belief transforms into thinking anything less than perfect is unacceptable, problems occur. Through a perfectionist’s eyes, a person’s self-worth is determined by flawlessness. Of course ideas of perfection vary from person to person. Perfectionists set rigid standards of performance for themselves and sometimes for others. They never feel they “measure up.”

One of my favorite movie lines comes from Mary Poppins when she humorously replies, “We practically perfect people never make mistakes.” Poppins, like most everyone else, links perfection to lack of mistakes. Sometimes Christians make the same error in reading the Bible. Actually the word “perfect” in the above scripture is “telios” meaning finished, full grown, mature, lacking nothing, or brought to completeness. It has nothing to do with making mistakes or not being good enough.

People commonly think that all perfection is about physical achievements such as being good, successful, or sinless. When God speaks of perfection, He wants us to “be complete” by being spiritually one with His Son Jesus Christ. This perfection is not designed to make us look good or perform flawlessly, but to let Christ’s life be manifest through us. Physical perfection is more concerned about actions we perform to a certain level, whereas spiritual perfection is about becoming totally dependent on God, letting Him work through us to perform His will – not ours. It is not concerned about “self.”

The good news is that we are already perfect in God’s sight. We are reconciled through Jesus Christ and He lives in us. This perfection does not come from our false concepts of trying to be good enough. On our own, we will never be good enough.

Consider this…It is not about our goodness; it’s about God’s greatness. With Christ in us, we are brought to completion and we lack nothing.

Will we make mistakes? Sure. But remember – the perfection spoken of in this scripture is not about what we do; it’s about what Christ does.

One final thought… Christ’s life in us makes us perfect or complete.

 

 

 

 

 


Choose to Do It Anyway

March 24, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

I remember once my daughter told her son to do a certain task. He balked and told her he didn’t want to do it. She didn’t get upset like I probably would have. She just calmly and sweetly replied, “That’s too bad. Life is full of things you will have to do that you don’t want to do, but you will have to do them anyway.” What a wonderful way to weave a life lesson into an everyday occurrence!

Do it anyway! What a concept! The Bible is full of instructions that I would rather not do. I struggle with all those “love one another” scriptures. I struggle with loving my neighbor as myself, loving my enemies, and even sometimes loving those closest to me (Mark 12:31, Matthew 5: 43-44, Ephesians 5:25). However, if I profess to be a Christian, I will have to do it anyway.

It’s hard to love people who are self-centered, unappreciative, and unreasonable. It’s hard to love people who don’t love you back. It’s hard to love someone who is irrational, illogical, or selfish. It’s hard to love those who verbally attack you, put you down, or spread unfounded rumors about you. However, the biblical instruction seems clear – love them anyway. Do it anyway!

An overview of Godly love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13. It is patient, kind, not envious, believes the best, endures, not resentful, and so on. However, it doesn’t say loving people means we should condone and accept everything they do, let them run roughshod over us, or give them everything they want. Love is not gullible. Nonetheless, even though love is a choice more than an emotion, it can still be a difficult and hard choice to make at times.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us. God so loved the world that He gave His Son for us. (John 3:16, 17) Jesus so loved the world that He died for us.  (John 10:18) His motive was love. He had no guarantee we would love Him in return; in fact, many reviled Him for this act of love.

Jesus gave Himself freely for us. Sometimes I think we minimize the thought process Jesus went through before that crucifixion. Even though He knew in advance what was going to happen, there was certain distress or why would He say, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me…?” (Luke 22:42) Many debate exactly what this “cup” was. These debates present interesting speculations, but personally I don’t need to know what the “cup” was. For me it’s enough to know it was an agonizing choice. “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) It wasn’t easy, but He did it anyway.

Consider this…Mankind is unworthy of such sacrifice – such love. Jesus knew what it meant to do it anyway. He did it for me and He did it for you. I’m so glad He did!

One final thought… Since Jesus died for us, perhaps we should live for Him.


Choose to Be God-Centered

March 17, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

I hate to admit it, but my world tends to revolve around ME and all things related to ME – my home, my family, my community, my city, my state, my country, my likes, my wants, my needs, my dreams, my passions, my opinions, and my thoughts. I am the center of my world and God loves ME!

Sometimes I forget that although God loves ME, He loves everyone else, too. I may be the center of my world, but I am not the center of God’s world – and it’s His world that counts. So from time to time I have to do a reality check. My world should not revolve around me; it should revolve around God.

When God becomes the center of my world, my world view or perspective changes. Exclusive concepts focusing on “me, myself, and I” are replaced with inclusive Trinitarian thinking focusing on “we and us.” Neighbors and coworkers are not just acquaintances but brothers and sisters in Christ. A panhandler is not just a beggar but a child of God. A homeless person is not an outcast, but someone God loves. God loves all of us, not just me.

Am I jealous that God loves others as much as me? I shouldn’t be – not when I fully understand God’s capacity for love. God can love all of us and still have a special, intimate relationship with each one as an individual. That’s just how great He is!

When we realize how much God loves us and how great He is, we don’t just want Him to be part of our world; we want Him to be at its core and center. Apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) In Him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28) We want to stay connected through prayer. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) His thoughts are not our thoughts, so we try to align to His way of thinking. (Isaiah 55:8) This is accomplished by internalizing and writing His words on our heart. (Proverbs 7:1-3) We meditate on scripture and apply it to our lives. (Psalm 119:15)

God knows everything and we don’t, so we want His will to supersede ours. (Luke 22:42) He has only our best interests in mind, so we adjust to what God wants to do, not what we want to do. Our agendas decrease as His become more manifest. We focus on Christ because that’s how we survive.

Remember the example of Peter? As long as he stayed focused on Christ, he walked on water. When his attention shifted off Christ, he began to sink. (Matthew 14:30)

Consider this…As our personal lives become more God-centered, we notice our perspectives slowly changing. We start seeing the world around us through God’s eyes instead of our own. We realize we were created by God and for Him, so we actually start thinking about God more than self. (Colossians 1:16)

I must admit, I still struggle with wanting my world to revolve around ME. However, in my heart I know it’s not about ME; it’s all about God!

Two final thoughts…If it’s all about ME, then where is space for others? Could it be that I am not as important as I think I am?

 


Choose to Agree to Disagree

March 10, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

Many live under the assumption that everyone they meet should like them. I have no such unrealistic expectations. How could everyone like me? After all, I don’t like everyone I meet. This includes Christians and non-Christians. Of course, as Christians, I think we should make an effort to get along with everyone, including (or should I say especially) each other, even if we don’t see eye to eye on everything. However, there is no need to put ourselves in situations where we come in constant contact with someone we don’t work well with if we have other options.

Such was the case with Paul and Barnabas. Both Paul and Barnabas were dedicated servants of God. After Paul’s conversion, he had a difficult time convincing Christians of his sincerity. And rightly so! Was this not the man who had been a vicious persecutor of Christians? It was Barnabas who persuaded the disciples to give him a chance, and a friendship formed between the two of them. (Acts 9:26-28) They even went on a missionary journey together.

Joining them on this journey was Barnabas’ cousin John Mark. (Colossians 4:10) For some reason, John Mark decided to return home to Jerusalem while Paul and Barnabas completed the mission. (Acts 13:13) John Mark’s decision did not set well with Paul. When another missionary trip was planned and Barnabas suggested taking John Mark again, Paul balked at the thought. So much so that a “sharp contention” developed between the two of them. (Acts 15:36-41) They couldn’t reach an agreement, so they agreed to disagree and split up. Paul took Silas on his journey, while Barnabas went with John Mark.

Now here were two servants of God who couldn’t agree on an issue. This wasn’t a deep theological or doctrinal concern, yet it was a difference of opinion on how to proceed with the work of God. They decided to go their separate ways. We hear nothing about them bad mouthing each other or putting one another down. They merely agreed to disagree.

The Bible says nothing about who was right or who was wrong in this instance. Some commentaries say Paul was too stubborn. Perhaps, but others feel Paul was guided by logic while warm hearted Barnabas was influenced by John Mark being family. Both Paul and Barnabas were praying to the same God for guidance and both reached a different conclusion. The point is that in some situations there isn’t a right or wrong – just a different point of view.

Although we hear nothing about Paul and Barnabas working together again, years later Paul mentions Barnabas fondly in 1 Corinthians 9:6 as a coworker for Christ. It seems Paul and Barnabas maintained a mutual respect for one another, which is difficult to do when you agree to disagree with someone. Paul even had a change of heart about John Mark. In 2 Timothy 4:11 he says, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministering.”

Consider this…Circumstances change and so do people. How many of us find ourselves eventually valuing someone we once had little regard for?

Because we all have different strengths and weaknesses, not everyone we meet is going to like us, nor are we going to like everyone we meet. And no matter how hard we try, we will not get along with everyone. The sooner we realize that, the better off we’ll be. But developing the art of agreeing to disagree can avoid conflict, prevent hasty conclusions, and allow time to reevaluate situations. We don’t have to see eye to eye on every issue to live heart to heart.

One final thought… Believe it or not, there are ways to disagree without being disagreeable.

 


Choose to Weather the Storm

March 3, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

Years ago traveling preachers would go from town to town, pitch a large tent, preach the gospel nightly for about a week, then move on. People would come from miles around to hear God’s word expounded. In larger cities, such as St. Louis where I grew up in the early 60s, they would set up on a vacant lot near a hub of activity. Whenever I hear Neil Diamond’s song Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show, childhood memories of mom hauling us to these revival meetings come to mind.

My dad believed in God but wasn’t what you would call a church-going man in those days, so he only came with us once. Unfortunately, there had been a bad storm the night before, resulting in some tent damage. As we nestled into the back row, the enthusiastic preacher was blaming this mishap on Satan and soon had everyone standing, pointing to the holes in the top of the tent, and shouting, “I hate the devil. I hate the devil.” Everyone except my father that is, who slipped our family out quietly and informed us that a preacher who didn’t have the sense to know God is the One who allowed the rain to fall isn’t one he wanted to listen to.

Dad taught me that while it may be convenient to blame our storms of life on the devil, God is the One ultimately in control. He said, “God is good, but it rains on everyone. Sometimes God stops the rain and sometimes He doesn’t.”

Jesus’ parable about the foolish man and wise man building houses in Luke 6:46-49 illustrates this. The foolish man built his house on a shaky foundation and the wise man built on a solid foundation. Then the rains came. It must have been quite a downpour because the foolish man’s house was washed away. The wise man’s house was not. However, it rained on both the foolish and the wise man. Neither escaped the rain.

Many Christians feel if they are nice to others and follow biblical principles, they will escape the rain. Oh no, my friend. The thunder will roar and the lightning will strike. It will rain on everyone: the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the just, the unjust, the atheist, and the Christian. No one escapes the rain. It rained on both the foolish and the wise man. However, each had a different result. The foolish man was wiped out, but the wise man was not. The wise man may have had considerable water damage, but he survived because he built his house on a solid foundation.

Spiritually speaking, the house represents our lives and that rock-solid foundation is Jesus Christ. An unshakable foundation can be laid daily by believing Christ, walking with Him, talking with Him, and trusting Him. Those with a shaky foundation cut corners, play the angles, and are self-sufficient. When the storms of life come – and they will come – we rely on whom we have grown accustomed to relying on. Hopefully that will be Christ.

Consider this…We are all children at heart, so when the storms of life come it is natural to be anxious or have concerns. But as the saying goes, “Sometimes God calms the storm; sometimes the storm rages and He calms the child.” Either way, we are far better off trusting God.

One final thought… If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.

 


Choose to Comfort Not Condemn

February 24, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

When someone is going through a hardship, they need comfort and encouragement – not judgment and condemnation. If we aren’t careful, we can make false assumptions about someone else’s trials. Here are a few…

A trial is God’s way of punishing people for their sins. Not true! God doesn’t need to punish us for sin. Sin brings its own punishment. We don’t know why someone is ill. When God healed the blind man in John 9, the disciples asked who had sinned to cause this blindness, him or his parents. Jesus said, “Neither!” (John 9:1-3)

People always bring afflictions upon themselves. Not true! We don’t know why someone is having a trial. After Jesus told the disciples that no one had sinned to cause the man’s blindness in John 9, he went on to say why this man was blind: “…that the works of God should be revealed in him.” We don’t know what God is doing an another person’s life.

If people have enough faith, they won’t be having trials. Not true! Did David lack faith? Did Paul lack faith? Did Job lack faith? Did Jesus lack faith? I don’t think so!

Bad things happen to good people all the time and we don’t know why. And shame on those who go to suffering people and add to their misery by telling them if they had enough faith they wouldn’t be going through some horrendous trial. If we learn anything from the Bible, it’s that all God’s children got problems – or will have problems.

Some faithful Christians will get diseases and die no matter how many sincere prayers are said for healing. Some will be gunned down by random acts of violence no matter how pure their lives have been. Some husbands will leave beautiful wives no matter how faithful and loving those wives have been. Dedicated Christians will face loneliness, death, anxiety, suffering, temptation, fear, exhaustion, conflict, poverty, and uncertainty just like everyone else.

People don’t need judgment or condemnation when they are going through trials. They also don’t need platitudes that might be helpful in the future, but certainly not during present suffering. Hurting people do not want to hear…

  • This was part of God’s plan.
  • The Lord works in mysterious ways.
  • All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.
  • God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  • You need to pray more.
  • You’ll be just fine.
  • Be thankful it isn’t worse.
  • I understand how you feel.

We don’t understand how people feel. Everyone is different. Everyone processes what happens in a different way. To say we know how someone feels is presumptuous. It, just like all the other platitudes mentioned, does nothing to alleviate a suffering person’s present distress.

So how can we comfort people? Sometimes by saying nothing but just being there. We can be available, give a hug, or sit with them in silence. Send a card saying we can’t imagine the pain they are feeling but we are so sorry for what they are going through. Bathe them in prayer.

Consider this…We can come alongside hurting people with an open mind and willing heart. In addition, we can ask God privately to guide us so we can be a help, not a hindrance.

One final thought… People don’t want to feel condemned or preached to in times of trouble. They just want to feel like someone cares.


Choose to Live Without Closure

February 17, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren 

The psychological use of the word closure usually refers to experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event. Many want to be able to pinpoint this conclusion instead of feeling a sense of ambiguity, so they express the need for closure. This need for closure varies depending on personalities, but for many, not having the closure they think they need prevents them from having peace and moving on.

Unfortunately, we can’t always have closure – at least not the way we want it. Why? Because there are areas of our lives we cannot control. However, we can control whether or not we allow certain events to hold us captive for the rest of our lives. This makes a real difference in how we live our lives. Do we cope? Do we become bitter or better? Do we move forward?

Here are just a few examples of events beyond our control:

  • Your twenty-year-old son dies in an unexpected car accident.
  • Your mother always favored your brother over you.
  • Someone breaks up with you and won’t tell you why.
  • A friend has a grudge against you and won’t tell you what you’ve done to upset him.

You cannot bring a child back to life and tell them how much you love them once they are gone. To forever live under the guilt of words unspoken keeps you in a world of regret. “If only I had done this” or “if only I hadn’t said that” are destructive thoughts because you can’t go back and change it. You can, however, determine not to let another day go by without telling a loved one how much you love them.

You cannot make a parent acknowledge their injustice to you if they don’t see it. You cannot make someone see what they don’t see or don’t want to see. After you become a parent, you may decide your parents just did the best they could so you will love them anyway. Either way you can definitely be determined not to make the same mistakes with your own children. If your parents were abusive, you may decide to sever your relationship with them.

You cannot force people to love you. If they don’t love you, then let them go. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t care for you? Decide what you can learn from the situation and move on.

You cannot make people tell you what is bothering them if they refuse to talk to you. If you have apologized for what you’ve done or what they think you’ve done, then what more can you do? In the future, choose friends who care as much about how you feel as you care about how they feel.

Closure is not about altering the past. Closure is not about changing others. Closure is not about pretending bad things didn’t happen. Closure does not mean something disappears. Closure doesn’t mean you block out a painful memory. True closure is about moving on. And in order to move forward, we need to let go of things in our past that would prevent that – things that hold us captive like guilt, regret, unfulfilled expectations, loss, or whatever it is that keeps us thinking we can’t be happy unless we get what we want.

Sometimes this kind of closure seems impossible, but with Christ all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). In Philippians 3:11-13, Paul says he knows he falls short in being the ideal Christian but through Christ he is able to let go of what lies in the past and move towards what God holds for him in the future. We need to press forward.

Consider this…If we are moving forward, we will have to leave some things behind. One of those things may have to be our idea of closure.

One final thought…We think closure brings peace. Actually, only God can give us peace.

 

 


Choose to Be Enthusiastic

February 10, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

What does it mean to be enthusiastic? Enthusiastic people have an intense enjoyment of life. They make an ordinary drive through the countryside an adventure. They make opportunities out of problems. They turn strangers into friends.

Why? Because enthusiastic people are interested in those around them. They don’t go through life in a ho-hum manner. They appreciate the gift of life and live it with warmth, zeal, and passion. They love God. They love people. They love life.

Let’s take a deeper look at the word enthusiasm. In the Greek, “en” means “in.” “Theos” means “god.” So basically enthusiasm means the Spirit of God within a person. Now there’s a concept for you! God living in you! When God lives in us, how can we help but be just a little enthusiastic?

Even from a physical perspective, we know that increasing our intelligence can be important. We know that having talent is a plus. We know developing skills can be helpful. However, you will find that it is enthusiasm that gives all those things the extra boost needed for happiness and success. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Enthusiastic people are creative and get things done. They are doers of the Word, not hearers only. (James 1:22) They work with all their might in everything they do as if they are doing it for God. (Colossians 3:23) They are eager to serve. (1 Peter 5:2) They are eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:14)

Since God is with us everywhere we go, we should never lack for enthusiasm, but we do, don’t we? We block that Spirit. We stay self-absorbed. We don’t smile. We don’t connect with others. We are embarrassed to let God’s Spirit overflow from us to others.

So how does one keep enthusiasm? Perhaps the answer is in Romans 12:2. Paul says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It’s this renewing of the mind and spirit that keeps us enthusiastic.

We must approach each new day with fresh eyes. We shouldn’t awake defeated before we even start by saying, “Good Lord! It’s morning.” We should awake eager to walk through another day with God. “Good morning, Lord! Thank you for another day of life!”

Consider this… Each new day is the one God has made. We need to rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) That’s what enthusiasm is all about. Enthusiasm keeps life interesting and exciting. It keeps us from getting bored with daily routines. It keeps us energized, engaged, and focused.

 

Focus is so important. We must keep our focus on Jesus. From a spiritual perspective, we can’t “work up” our own enthusiasm if it is going to be real. True enthusiasm can only come from God living in us.

One final thought… If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing with all your heart.