Category Archives: Acceptance

Messed Up Thinking

I used to have messed up thinking. Yes, folks, it’s true.

I used to think it mattered what other people thought about the way I looked or what I did or who I talked to. It doesn’t.

I used to think I had to reach some high level of corporate performance in order to be successful. I didn’t.

I used to think I’d have to be the person I thought others wanted me to be before they would accept me. Not true.

I used to think I was required to meet everyone’s expectations, even if I didn’t know what they were. How dumb.

I used to think I had failed miserably as a human being because I couldn’t do all of the above. A lie.

The thing is, there are countless messed up thinkers out there who are deceived, because this is the way the world measures success, acceptance, love. And the results are failed relationships. Depression. Self-esteem issues. Suicides. Loneliness. Fear. I could go on.

The bottom line is that who and what you are matters to God. You are precious to Him and He loves you – His own creation. He is the only one who will accept and love you unconditionally, regardless of what you’ve done or where you’ve been. He can straighten out your messed up thinking. He can put you on the straight path to real success.

Jesus said in John 10:10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (NKJV)

Stop listening to the enemy’s lies. Allow Jesus to give you life – and more abundantly!

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Dealing With A Difficult Person

There is a person I’ve known quite well for a long time and she can be difficult to deal with. Really difficult. I have to admit that occasionally I’d rather run in the other direction than have to be with her. Come on, be honest. All of you know people like that.

This woman and I are at about the same stage in our lives and we have a lot in common. We’ve both been married a long time, we have grandchildren, and we’ve done many of the same kinds of things along the way. You’d think this would be a recipe for a great friendship. You’d think. But the clashes between us are frequent and often have lasting effects. Of the negative kind. And that’s not good. Not for either of us.

She likes to have her own way. This irks me because guess what? So do I. And since we work together a lot, this causes friction. She’s also quite bossy. Wait, let me correct that. She’s very bossy. I’ve been known to exhibit the same tendencies, so you can use your imagination here.

I thought about making a list of this woman’s shortcomings, but it would be long and unflattering, so I won’t.

Because this woman is me.

Dealing with me is a work in progress.

I talk to God about this on a daily basis. He knows all about the difficult person I can tend to be and I am always gratefully amazed at how much He loves me anyway. He’s way more patient with me than I would be, that’s for sure. He is always ready to teach me to be a better person, especially when I am willing to let Him have the floor instead of trying to do it my own way. When I give Him the reins, I find it so much easier to get along with me.

And I’m so glad that His love never fails, it never runs out, and He never gives up on me.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

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Acceptance or Persecution?

There are many things amiss in the world, but there is one particular issue that rises to the top of the contentious list. Our rights and freedoms as members of the human race.

We hear about it all the time, but what does that really mean? I don’t think anybody knows anymore. While I believe that the inherent meaning is noble and good and right, our rights and freedoms have become skewed along the way. So much so that much of what I hear and read in the media is just plain dumb.

You have to be politically correct, you know.

It’s to the point where you can’t even express an opinion without being called narrow-minded, racist, prejudiced, or worse.

But there’s a contradiction here. You must embrace same-sex marriage, accept the religious practices of other cultures, and say nothing that could be construed as offensive to any race, color, sect, or political party. Except, of course, when you are referring to Christians. Then anything goes.

Anything that sniffs of Christianity – church, the Bible, prayer, etc. – is fair game for the hounds who make it their purpose in life to be obnoxious. Seriously. It’s true.

Apparently, rights and freedoms do not apply to Christians. A Muslim can wear a turban to school, but a Christian cannot wear a T-shirt with a cross on it. Public buildings are being asked to establish non-gender specific restrooms to accommodate the LGBT population, but those same public buildings do not allow any form of Christian display or practice.

Why is it that Christians continue to bear the brunt of persecution while being forced to accept the beliefs of other groups?

It’s not fair. It’s not right. It doesn’t even make sense. But that’s the way it’s always been. And that’s the way it will continue until Jesus Christ comes again.

I have gay friends. I have friends of other faiths. I have friends who are completely against Christianity. We don’t fight. We don’t argue. We talk about why we believe what we believe and there are no hateful words or intolerance or offenses taken. We simply reach a point of acceptance – acceptance of each other’s fundamental rights and free will.

And I will exercise my right and obligation as a Christian to pray for them.

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God Helps Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

You’ve heard the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” You’ve probably even thought it was a Scripture quote, spoken from pulpits everywhere by well-meaning preachers. I hate to burst your theology bubble, but this isn’t in the Bible.

The truth is, God helps those who cannot help themselves. He helps those who cry out to Him.

He comes to the rescue of the broken, the hurting, the lame and the shattered. He raises to unbelievable heights those who know they could not possibly done it on their own. He resists the proud and the arrogant ones who are convinced they must do it their way. He simply lets them.

God will search for that one who knows their accomplishments will rely on Him and nothing of themselves.  He takes great pleasure in showing Himself strong to the simple, the humble, the needy and the powerless. And let’s face it. We have no power without Him.

God opens doors that have been locked up tight. He arranges strategies that cannot be maneuvered by man’s hands. He puts things into motion, giving opportunities to those who have been cast aside.

When you dare to call out to the Source of all true power, you have found the secret to your most profound and limitless destiny. Your weakness becomes your strength in Him.

We all get the opportunity to learn the same lessons. Forgiveness. Love. Judgment. Redemption. These are the very principles of the Gospel of Christ. When we learn them, we learn who God really is. He is not a God who demands our highest performance. He is not a God who insists we achieve impossible goals before we can be promoted. He made us. He knows our humanity and our inability to reach perfection. And in knowing this, He crafted the remedy that would bring healing, wholeness and power.

It is through understanding His redemption that we will find the key to unlocking our greatest purpose. He takes what’s broken and replaces it with a priceless jewel. We get to exchange everything the enemy dumped on us for a brand new life in Christ.

When we release our dreams and hopes and pursuits and future to Him, He begins a massive outpouring of His favor. We take one step at a time with complete trust in Him, and He makes our path straight.

God helps us because we cannot help ourselves.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

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In Him

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:3-14

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Customer Service in Reverse

I have been in the customer service business all of my adult life. Truth be told, we are all in the customer service business whether we realize it or not.

I was in the coffee shop yesterday morning, doing whatever it is that coffee shop managers do on Mondays. Business was brisk, despite the pouring rain outside, and there was a lot of conversation and laughter going on. Except for the grumpy customer. There’s always a grumpy customer.

Our staff did everything they could to please Mr. Grumpy, but he wasn’t having any of it. We could have served him a  gold-plated croissant and he wouldn’t have been happy. The thing is, he got all he asked for and then some. Our staff bent over backwards for this guy in an attempt to provide an excellent customer experience, but he wanted to have a bad day. And he wanted to make sure everybody else had a bad day too.

Hence, my thoughts about customer service in reverse.

What gives a person the right to treat other human beings the way Mr. Grumpy treated my coffee shop staff? Nothing. Nothing and no one. Ever.

Think about this the next time you buy your coffee, or when you’re at the Walmart checkout, or when you go into the bank. The employees who work in those places are real people with real lives. They have feelings just like you do. Why not make their day instead of expecting them to make yours.

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The Difference

My temporary bookstore is in a business complex that rents out offices to mediation firms. These mediators utilize neutral meeting places when there is a dispute with insurance companies. In most cases, this involves our provincially owned auto insurance corporation not wanting to pay out when somebody gets hurt in an accident. The mediators are there to keep the discussions on track and to ensure that a fair resolution is reached. No fisticuffs.

I watch three groups of people come and go past my store. There are obvious differences.

The mediators arrive in casual attire with file folders in hand and they look fairly relaxed. They aren’t the stakeholders so really, what do they care. They’re courteous and they smile.

The lawyers representing both sides pull up in their brand new BMW or Lexus SUV or the occasional Jag. They use two parking spots because they don’t want to take the chance that they might get a scratch on the paint job, and they don’t give a second thought to the fact that they are in a clearly marked handicapped stall. They don’t have to abide by the rules apparently. They are dressed in dark suits, white shirts and classy ties. They drag behind them big fat briefcases on wheels and they text or talk on their phones the whole time. They want everyone to see that they are Very Important People. Their facial expressions telegraph the message that they are really too busy for this so let’s get on with it so we can move on to another $400 per hour client. They’re rude and they never smile.

The clients get off the bus that stops just a few doors down. Or they drive an old beat up Ford Tempo that’s held together with duct tape. They are dressed in the best they have and without exception, every single one of them looks like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. It’s not difficult to see the concern on their faces. They’re people who are afraid to smile.

These three groups don’t mix.

The mediators gather in little clusters, sipping their lattes, chatting and laughing about who knows what. They look like a fun bunch who enjoy their work. And why wouldn’t they?

The lawyers are pigs. They aren’t capable of speaking to their clients in anything but legal jargon, which is delivered in condescending top volume. As if the victim is deaf. Or stupid. I can hear every word as they stand outside my door before their meetings. The clients are too scared to say anything, so they just nod like they understand. No compassion at all from the legal beagles. I’d like to kick a few of them in the shins. With my pointy shoes on.

The clients stand alone, terrified, and so far out of their element that one wonders if they will be able to find their way back. I want to hug them. Pray for them. Show them that there are still people in the world who actually care.

Today I watched as a lovely Filipino woman, about my age, was completely ignored by three men who appeared to her attorneys. When she attempted to enter the conversation, the men literally turned their backs on her and continued their conversation as if she weren’t even there. She was a non-person, as far as they were concerned. Simply a means to an end – their salary.

I was disgusted.

I know there are good and kind lawyers. And I know that not every mediation taking place next door is the same as the situation I’ve described. I just want to make the point that nobody has the right to treat someone who is less fortunate with the kind of disdain I’ve seen over and over again, not only near my place of business, but everywhere. In the workplace. In schools. And even in the church.

Jesus said, in Matthew 25:40, “I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me”.

Be the difference.

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