Category Archives: attitude

God’s Gift—Freedom of Choice

imagesGod gave Adam and Eve a wonderful gift. He told them how to use it. Still, they chose not to follow His directions. Do you know what the gift was? Here’s a hint:

In Genesis 2:16 (NLV), God tells Adam:

You are free to eat from any tree of the garden.”

A few sentences later, another hint:

“God made every animal of the field and every bird of the sky. He brought them to the man to find out what he would call them. And whatever the man called a living thing, that was its name.” (vs. 19–20)

1371397Freedom to Choose 
That was God’s gift to Adam and Eve in those first days of human history. It came with one rule: “Do not eat from the tree of learning of good and bad. For the day you eat from it you will die for sure.” (Genesis 2:17) Instead of obeying God, Adam and Eve decided to obey a conniving serpent. They chose bad over good.

God had given them a beautiful life on Earth, a life just shy of heaven. He wanted only good things for His humans. One of those was freedom of choice. God set Adam and Eve free to make every choice, including whether or not to obey Him. He also warned them that choosing wrong had consequences.

Today, Freedom of Choice remains one of our greatest gifts. It’s not provided by nations. It’s a gift given by God. Each of us has the right to choose between what pleases God and what displeases Him—And just like Adam and Eve, every one of us is guilty of making bad choices.

1.-God-free-will

This leads to the issue of judging others. We might disagree with the choices others make, but too often we forget that God has given them the freedom to choose. We should react to an unsafe choice or a choice to harm someone, but in most circumstances when passing judgment on others we need to remember that their choices are between them and God.

Here are two questions to think about:

  • When judging the choices others make, do you support their freedom to choose?
  • Do you believe that supporting someone’s freedom to choose is the same as supporting his or her choices?

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Filed under attitude, Desiring God, Freedom, judging, Relationships, Sin, Uncategorized

Death Takes a Holiday—Comfort for Those Who Mourn

© Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez

In the classic 1930s movie, “Death Takes a Holiday,” Death personified wonders why humans fear him. He decides to find the answer by becoming human for several days and mingling with the mortals.

And while Death takes a holiday, nothing dies.

Oh, that it were true that Death would be on holiday when we are about to lose a loved one.

But, of course, Death never goes on vacation.

“Death takes a holiday” has a completely different meaning for those of us who have lost someone we love on or around a holiday. When a loved one dies at holiday time, Death takes part of the holiday with him, and the holiday will never be the same as long as sad memories linger.

My mother, dad, and grandmother died, years apart, all very close to Easter. Much time has past since then, but still it’s somewhat hard to approach Easter with heartfelt joy. I miss my family. I miss my mother insisting that I always bring the same dessert for our Easter Sunday dinner—a coconut covered lamb-shaped cake from the bakery. I miss my dad singing in the car on the way home from church:

 “Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.”

 I miss my grandmothers, both of them, toasting Christ’s resurrection with the only glass of sherry that they’d have all year and chattering about their senior issues and aches and pains.

I miss them.

Light rays shining through clouds --- Image by © 145/Chris Ladd/Ocean/Corbis

© 145/Chris Ladd/Ocean/Corbis

Mercifully, God prepared me for those Aprils when Death would arrive at our house—April 4, April 11, April 19—long before my loved ones died. God knew that they would be going Home at Easter time, so He prepared me. He gave me the best of all gifts—salvation. I was saved on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan on a cloudy April 3rd day. At the very moment when God came into my heart, He opened the clouds just enough for rays of sunshine to stream down and reflect on the water.

I will never forget that wonderful gift and God’s perfect timing. He gave me something to celebrate in April, something to prevail over the remnants of sadness that would cast a shadow on Easter time.

Some of you are mourning the loss of a loved one this Easter, and while you suffer through the pain I ask that you remember this:

Death might take a holiday, but God does not.
He will never leave you.

Look for Him in your grief. He’s there. Ask Him to bless you with something to celebrate, something to part the clouds of sadness and send rays of sunshine into your life. Then trust Him to do it.

You know that He will
because God loves you—
in this life and in eternity.

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Filed under attitude, Death, Easter, Faith, Hope

A Speck, A Log, And A Lesson

People tell me that I’m a good listener, compassionate even. Lately, though, I’ve struggled with listening. When friends unload their troubles, my spirit shifts from patient to judgmental, and inside I shout, “Oh, please! Stop complaining.”

 When I ask God:
“Why has listening become so hard?”
He pulls me into my past, to the months of March, April, and May.

I suffered through some significant trials in the springtime: a job loss, the loss of a best friend, the illnesses and deaths of both my parents, cancer—all came at me hitting hard in succession, year after year, until I faced every springtime with apprehension. It took more than a decade to sift through it all, but I have, and I’m left with one powerful emotion: GRATEFULNESS.

 It’s the Lord’s gift to me—a Romans 8:28 gift of “all things working for good”— waking up grateful every day and ending my day with thanksgiving. Before all those trials I was the most negative person you would never want to meet. I was like Jonah, unhappy and running away until I got swallowed up by the big fish. God let me wallow in its smelly belly for a while, and when His big fish finally spit me out, I was grateful. God had taught me not to sweat the small stuff.

I sometimes think that He went a little overboard with my transformation. Recently, a friend called me a Pollyanna. I guess I am. I think that’s why listening is hard. I want to interject, “Oh, but look at the blessings!” Still, when someone is complaining about something that happened at work, or church or at home, the last thing they want to hear is, “But, you’re so blessed!”

We’re all human, after all, and we humans complain.

 Did you know that the Greek word for “complainer” is literally translated one who is discontented with his lot in life? When you read the Bible, you see that from the beginning we humans have lived in discontent. It’s part of being in the world, and Lord knows (literally) that the world gives us much to grumble about. But, Jesus said that we are not part of this world. He prayed and asked God not to take us (his disciples) out of the world, but instead to keep us safe from Satan’s power. (John 17:15—16)

Satan loves it when we grumble and complain. And isn’t that what I’ve been doing, complaining about the complainers? Is that why I’ve struggled with listening?—

 Oh, the irony of it all.  

 God answered my why question with one of His own:

 “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3—5 ESV)

Thank You, dear Lord, for a lesson in humility.
I’ve heard You.

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Are you on Facebook? Check out my page where I post daily articles and inspiration for writers. And while you’re there, I’d appreciate it if you’ll click on the “like” button near the top of the page. Thanks!

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Filed under attitude, complaining, judging