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Material Illness

Were you thinking Mental Illness? That’s not a typo in the title. I have a few stories to tell today, and they just might open your eyes to a better life.

When I was a kid I desired attention, maybe you did too? I loved it when my parents would play with me, or take the time to encourage me at sports or art or Cub Scouts. It meant a lot. You too may have fond memories.1003-best-buddies-forever

If you were lucky enough to go on vacations as a young person, then I bet you’ve tried to recreate these experiences later in life, maybe with your own family. Maybe you yearn for some of these experiences that you remember.

In my adult years I seem to watch a lot of TV. Over the years I’ve seen my fair share of daytime shows like Dr. Phil where a family is in turmoil, or a child is disturbed. I’ve seen this show play out in lives surrounding my own and I bet you have too. Maybe we all just need a vacation, eh?

Let me tell you what I really see. I see relationships. I see good examples and bad examples, but in the end it’s the relationships that matter. Dr. Phil points out what needs to change…the kid cries and opens up…the parents are shocked to realize the solution wasn’t so difficult. What do we take from these “happy” outcomes?

Here’s the rub. The big issue. Too many of us have never come to the point of realizing there is a problem, but if we look in the mirror, if we strain our eyes just a little bit, I think we’ll see it.

In a country where we seemingly “have it all”, we have so little. What?! What are you talking about?! It’s quite simple. What do you remember from your childhood, from school, from your life? What do you really long for? I bet if you are honest with yourself you will bring to mind relationships. Who was your best buddy growing up? What adventures did you have? Any friends in school or college that you formed lasting memories with over the years? How about family engagements? Games nights? Good conversation? Going to lunch with co-workers and learning about their lives? These are the memories that most of us recall and cherish. This fact is why we have a problem.

The problem is that too many of us have changed. We have somehow decided that buying stuff is where the memories are at now. We buy a new car, then after a year it’s not good enough. We collect stuff and can never have enough. We buy stuff and NEVER open it, now that’s crazy. Let’s think about this. I remember some of my toys and stuff from my childhood, it was fun. But it was TRULY the relationships that I yearn to remember and have again AND have in abundance.

Dr. Phil points out how there are relationship problems at the core of many of his shows. It’s never about not having the right stuff! It’s never about how you should have been buying this or that; it’s that you shouldn’t have been focused on the wrong things. You should have been focused on the relationships.

You know this also applies to your faith. Your “relationship” with Jesus is key! Why would it be any different? If church is a building and you go to “get” something, then it’s not a relationship, it’s a thing; it’s stuff. Salvation is not something to buy, it’s a gift and gifts come from a relationship. If you don’t “know” Jesus, then maybe you haven’t been looking for a relationship with him. Make sense?

Remember the fact that you have some pretty good memories from good relationships in your past and present. Seek to build on these or start new ones. Memories are gifts. Cherish them, build on them and get over your material illness!

Tough truth

You have a good job and life.  You are able to buy just about anything you want.  Next year you need more, maybe.  Your job is unsatisfying so you look for a new job to define yourself and support the family with honor.  Are these things bad?  Could they be the wrong ideas?  I’m still reading in John and getting more and more out of it.  From the following verses:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.(The Holy Bible : NIV Jn 12:23-26)

Wow, this really spoke to me.  I’ve heard it before, read it many times before, but it made me really think about my life.  What did Jesus mean by “hate”?  It seems clear to me that He meant our “old life” before becoming a true Christian.  You could also argue that it means all aspects of our life, meaning we should all be missionaries, etc.  In a sense I think both of these thoughts are correct.
—-Let’s look at Paul, in some of his letters in the New Testament he is a “tent-maker” working when he needs to, and staying with supporters when they “support” him.  Paul was not defined by his job of tent-making, he was defined by his relationship with God and what he did about it!
—-Mary and Martha seemed to be hard workers surrounding Lazarus, they had many of the same feelings we have (i.e. busy-ness, sorrow, joy) They were not missionaries like Paul.  They supported Lazarus as far as we can tell and may have supported Jesus for a time too.  Lazarus attracted lots of attention because we was raised from the dead.  In John, it speaks of how many people came to know Christ through Lazarus.
—-Also, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Peter spent a lot of time performing miracles and spreading the Word.  BUT, we must also recognize that they had much help behind the scenes that wasn’t often spoken of in the Bible.  There was the scenario when they needed help dealing with feeding all the widows.  They noted that they needed someone to step up and take care of this ministry so they could take care of their own ministry of spreading the Gospel. (The pastor cannot do everything!)
—-So, what am I getting at?  In just a few examples, we see that we are all supposed to work in some way.  The job may change too.  We do need to put food on the table and take care of family.  The key is that we are also supposed to be ministering in some way.  Feeding the poor, preaching, helping others, encouraging, but doing these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  God says he gave us all spiritual gifts.  Can you tell what spiritual gifts those listed above had?
—-Do you know what your spiritual gifts are?  Have you ever taken what is called a spiritual gift assessment?  Here is a simple one, but there are many out there.  Try a few and see if you have a hidden gift you have never developed!!!
The Bible tells us we are all ambassadors for Jesus Christ.  We are to be defined by a new life in Christ, and we are to look back on our old life and truly “hate it”.  Are you still defined by your job, your standing in life?  Maybe it’s time to take a look, and see what God may truly have in store for you!  Don’t miss out!
In Christ,
Jeff