February 2008

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

1 Thessalonians 5:18

This verse is often misquoted and/or misunderstood in many religious circles.  Just today, I was reading a newspaper’s account of a “Homegoing” or funeral service and a bishop was quoted as saying, “We’re told to give thanks for, and in, all things, and right now we need You, Lord.”  He was speaking in reference to the grief of those who had so loved the departed.  Unfortunately, many have taken this to mean that God wants us to give thanks for all things and anything.  It has been taught from too many pulpits that we are to be thankful for all things and all circumstances whether good or bad,  right or wrong, blessing or cursing.  This is a fallacy which needs to be corrected both in and outside the church. 

God is a good god.  He’s not saying for us to be thankful for a diagnosis of cancer, for a child who’s died, for a failed marriage, or for a bankruptcy.  Those things fall beneath the curse.  Those things come from the destroyer…the enemy… the one who hungers to steal, kill, and destroy.  Those things are from him and he’ll do it to us as much and as often as we’ll let him.  We’re not expected to be thankful for the enemy’s handiwork.  We’re not to be thankful for poverty, illness, or any other method of the enemy.   

It’s easy to see how this verse can be misinterpreted.  It’s quite simple to look at the verse and assume it is saying to thank God for every circumstance for that circumstance is God’s will for you.  I’ve often heard people say things like, “I wouldn’t be in this (mess), if God didn’t want me in it.”  or (when justifying a disappointment or failure) “I believe God has a reason for everything…”  I usually keep my mouth shut and respectfully listen to the rest the person has to say while all the while my insides are screaming, “Yes, there’s a reason for everything, but that doesn’t necessarily mean God orchestrated the circumstances you’re referring to- quite possibly and most likely decisions you made contributed to the problem.”  Of course, I usually keep that to myself.  Yet, many people seem to find comfort in blaming God for their hurts, their pains, and even, sometimes, their failures.  A misinterpretation of a scripture like this can help them to do so- especially, when they’ve heard it from the pulpit.

So, what is the true meaning of this scripture?  I believe it is referring to living a life of thankfulness- or, rather, having an attitude of gratitude.  This means living a life that is always conscious of and thankful for the goodness of God.   Not to thank God for everything (both good and bad make up everything)  but to thank God for His goodness in everything (as in the midst of everything) – no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks to God for his goodness.  In other words, no matter what circumstance you may find yourself in, have an attitude of gratitude and don’t forget to give God thanks – not for the circumstance itself, but for His goodness which never changes.   An attitude of gratitude is sure to supercharge your prayer life!  Living a life of gratitude towards God and meditating on His goodness will help us to focus on what’s really important in the midst of any circumstance.   Hmmm….maybe it’s time to make a list of all the things we’re grateful to God for…So, let us be thankful and give thanks, for this is the will of God for us.



Now, it’s time to address a most important issue when talking about the job.  Now what could it be?…hmmm… How about attitude?  Whether or not you’ve received confirmation in your heart regarding God’s current plan for you, it’s up to you to maintain a proper attitude.  Not only is it necessary to keep a proper inward attitude, but it is just as necessary to maintain the proper outer attitude in any given situation.

Of course, internally, we should keep an attitude of faith-filled expectancy that is backed up by the Word of God.  Search out and know which scriptures you’re standing on!  Don’t just leave it to old fashioned tradition that you’ve heard over and over again.  Spend some time in the Word and find the scriptures to stand on for your situation.  That will be the foundation for your belief as well as your petition to God. 

 Next, check your level of gratitude.  Have you been focusing on your own worries and level of discomfort so much that you’ve taken the goodness of God for granted?  Don’t forget you were probably searching for a job when the one you can’t stand now came along.  Remember to be mindful of that and to thank God for his provision. Also, don’t be afraid to ask God to make your heart more receptive to anything He wants to do in your life through this current position.  Let Him know He has your full cooperation with whatever He may want to do through you or, perhaps, even develop in you.  Make His plan the priority in your life. 

Adopting the aforementioned inward attitude will certainly blossom into an outward attitude of performing your job unto God.  This means approaching each task not as if you’re doing it for man, but as if you’re working for God.  Tackle each task with a spirit of excellence.  Consider it your ministry.  Walk into that workplace with a pleasant attitude, and give it your best shot, day-in and day-out whether you’re a “short-timer” or not.  Your attitude and countenance does matter- whether you’re working there for just two more days or two more years, you are always a representative of Christ.  Don’t make your misery everyone else’s misery.  Attitudes have a definite effect on anyone who has to remain in the same environment with you.  Make sure you’re one to lift others up- not bring them down.  There should be something different about you that makes you stand out from the rest in a positive light.  Don’t let yourself be known as the negative one or the fearful one or the big-mouthed gossipy one!  Never stir up strife and run around playing the part of the #1 talebearer in the office. You’re so much better than that!

Also, for those of us who have been cursed with an anger-management problem…it’s time to have a serious talk.  I can say first hand having worked with  a few people with anger issues in the past, there is not much worse than having to spend several hours a day with an angry person.  It makes for an extremely hostile environment.  These explosive firecrackers should go for some kind of treatment before they hurt someone else or themselves.  No one enjoys working in this kind of environment and, really, no one should have to.  If you suspect your anger may be having an effect on your co-workers, please look into getting some help before something happens and you are made to do so. 

Now, all of that being said, how’s your attitude?  It always matters. No matter what kind of job or career you may have, attitude matters!  

Well, it’s Friday morning, and no doubt, some people are living for the weekend!  They absolutely hate their job or the environment in which they have to work.  Sometimes it’s co-workers, the boss, the public, the conditions, the expectations, or even the tasks themselves that can drive us up the wall.  It could even be the schedule.  There are probably a long list of reasons we could dwell on for each and every person who is unhappy in their workplace.  However, this is not that kind of blog!  So let’s look at it from another point of view shall we?

Two ladies in particular come to my mind when I think of someone hating their job.  However, as I just wrote this, a couple more popped into my head.  These ladies make it no secret that they are dissatisfied with their current positions and are trying to do all they can to get out of them.  They diligently search for other job opportunities and often throw their hats in the ring at most any chance they get.  I think it’s wonderful to be diligent.  We should all have the courage to pursue our God-given dreams and passions.  However, there is a big difference between pursuing your God-given passion and running away from an uncomfortable situation. If we’re focusing on just getting away from our current job more than focusing on what God has planned for us, chances are we’ll be unhappy in the next situation as well.  God has not given us a spirit of fear!  We’re not to run away from every uncomfortable situation.  We are more than conquerers and God has given us what it  takes to overcome any work situation- big or small.  I would say running is definitely not the answer. 

So what is the answer? I would say to pray and ask God which path to take.  He has your answer.  Perhaps, you’re trying to run away from a situation in which God has placed you in order to make a difference.  Perhaps, you were the answer to someone’s prayer.  Maybe He placed you there to be an encouragement, a light, and a Godly influence to others in that workplace.  Perhaps, He’s given you favor to affect certain ones there for the benefit of His kingdom.  Maybe you’ve been positioned there to strategically pray for certain people or circumstances.  He may have even placed you there to take a particular stand on an issue in order to affect change in that environment.  You may never know unless you stick around to get a definitive answer. 

Of course, you may find the answer has more to do with someone else’s influence on you rather than yours on them.  If your current situation is, indeed, where God has placed you, maybe He’s trying to work something out of you, or develop something in you.  Maybe there are trials, battles, and mindsets there that you’re going to have to fight in order to prepare you for something greater in your future.  All battles can be won by submitting yourself to Christ and letting Him work through you.  Stand on his word and let Him fight the battle for you and through you!  Never run in fear!  The key to success is getting with God’s plan and in order to do that, sometimes, we have to let go of our own. 

So, if this post strikes a nerve in you, perhaps it’s time to have a little talk about the job.  The answer may not be the one you’re dreading.  However, if it is, find comfort in the truth that the One who knows you better than you know yourself, has already prepared you for your current assignment.  God Bless!

Ever feel like the whole world is looking at you?…waiting to see what will become of you…your life…your drive…your passion….your dreams?

Well, maybe they are…and then again… maybe they’re not… you probably think many people are looking at your life who really aren’t and many of those people who actually are looking at you and your life would most likely surprise you.  You could be making quite an impact on someone’s life, all the while unbeknownst to you.  Positive or negative, good, bad, or, as yet, undecided- we all have the potential to touch nations. 

It’s not going to be so much through what we say and do every now and then.  What will have the greatest impact on others, is what we are and who we are deep down on the inside.  Our heart’s motive always seems to rise to the top. Through our conversations, our habits, and our everyday routine we have the opportunity to shape a generation and change the world. 

I possess a deep desire to inspire the next generation of my family.  I often find myself counseling and encouraging my nieces.  I want to encourage them in a way I feel that was lacking in my own upbringing.  But the more and more I talk, sometimes it just hits me square in the face, “Hazel, you can say what you want, but the proof is in the pudding…”  I can attempt to “coach”, “inspire”, and “encourage”, but what would speak so much louder than what I could ever say, is my life itself.  The testimony that will be the most real to them will be my life, not something I told them every now and then when the occasion arose.  They’re looking at me to see what I do with my life.  They’re looking at me to see if living this life for Christ is worth it.  They’re looking at me to see if it does pay to dream big….to trust God….to take His word as truth.  I know in my heart of hearts, the most potent statement I will ever make will be with this life. 

Lord, I thank You today for the plan You have for my life.  I look forward to seeing what grand statements will come from fishbowls.  Amen! 

Many people have the habit of looking at others and defining them by the negative circumstances of their life.  It could be a past failure,  a current failure or even a failure that’s recurrent, and the great consensus of too many would be to label that person by their failure.  That’s the easy thing to do.  It hardly takes any time at all and can be a great way to screen out the riffraff.  Right?  Too many people I come into contact with seem to think so.  I can hear it in their tones, their words and their often hasty and thoughtless vocal judgments.  When challenged on this, I’ve often heard, “Well it’s been my experience….”

The truth of the matter is, a person’s worth cannot be calculated through the sum total of their failures.   However, changing other’s minds regarding this issue can often seem like a losing battle.  Of course, our main focus should always be our own mindsets and not everyone else’s. How do we look at others?   Perhaps of even more importance is the question, ” How  do we view and define ourselves?” 

Oftentimes, we let others’ images of us paint the picture of how we see ourselves.  This is a huge problem.  People’s views and opinions can be so fickle.  What will you do when others’ views of you turn sour?  It’s bound to happen.  Will your self-esteem and sense of security fly out the window because of a quickly changed opinion? It’s certain you will suffer if your self image is caught up in what other people think of you and how they view you and your choices.  As I mentioned before, others will often focus on your failures without looking any deeper.  They will speedily sum up the total of your worth without ever realizing there was so much more to you. 

I believe one of the keys to keeping a healthy self-image is to never let your failures define you.  Of course, we should always attempt to learn from and correct our mistakes, but to constantly dwell on the pain of that event or  failure is the ultimate mistake.  You’ll have to forgive yourself (and others if necessary) and move on.  Don’t keep yourself locked in the pain of failure and regret.  God has great plans for you and you could possibly be missing out on some wonderful opportunities that He’s set before you simply because of your own bitterness and self-pity. 

Perhaps you’re even missing out on some of His opportunities because deep down inside you don’t believe you’re good enough.  Maybe something you did or something that happened to you years ago has shaped your concept of what you can expect out of life and what you can believe of God. 

Perhaps you feel as if you can’t trust anyone because if they knew about all of the skeletons in your closet they would surely hurt you, use you, or reject you. 

Perhaps you are afraid they would laugh at you, or simply look at you with contempt. I suppose fear is the root of it all. We must remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind.  We were created in the likeness and image of God.  No one, especially a born-again believer, should look at themselves as being “less than”.  We are the children of the King, a joint-heir with Jesus…never, never, never should we believe we’re not good enough. 

When and if that feeling of fear and rejection starts invading our thoughts, we should fight it with everything we’ve got.  God’s word is a weapon we can use against any feeling of doubt.  Meditating on His words of truth will only improve our lives and our self-esteem. 

 It is also of the utmost importance to remember although you may have done a number of questionable things in your past, the blood of Jesus is able to wash you as clean as snow…so much cleaner than snow!  He loves us so much and he has provided us with, “plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us  hope and a future.”  There is no need to ever look to man for your self esteem- that is simply a pitfall.  Look only to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings to identify yourself.  That’s where you’ll find the self-image that is real.  The image that is true.  There’s never a reason to define the worth of your life by a failure.  Your failures are not the whole story.  Your failures are just another chapter in the book.