What would you do?

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What would you do if $200,000 suddenly found itself into your lap?  It is kinda like finding that wallet on the street.  What would you do?  Most of us have thought about that sort of scenario and wrestled with our response.  I remember an event that took place in Los Angeles a while back. A 22-year old Mexican immigrant to the United States found a sack containing $203,000 in Los Angeles and decided to give the money back.

“I’m poor, but I’m honest,” the young man said in Spanish through an interpreter, explaining why he returned the sack, which he came across while he waited for a bus in Los Angeles.

He admitted he considered keeping the cash, which was wrapped in a clear plastic bag and had fallen out of an armored truck. But after watching news reports of the missing money, he turned it in to the police. Hopefully, he received the $25,000 reward offered by the armored car company.

My hat is off to such honesty…especially in the face of poverty.  Sad to say there are more than a few folks that would have decided the other way.  There was a study done several years ago in which they went to different cities and left wallets (with good I.D.’s) with just $20 in them laying in various locations.  The results were pretty dramatic…the majority were never returned.

Why would good folks choose to “steal” when no one is looking and they have every opportunity to do what is right?  Maybe because they really believe that no one is looking.  Lest we forget…this is An UpWord Glance…God is always watching, even when no one else sees what is going on.  Consider these Scriptures:

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth – He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do” (Psalm 33:13-17).

“My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes” (Jeremiah 16:17).

Most people are wishfully hoping (maybe praying) that supervisors would concentrate more on catching them doing things right…rather than looking for folks making mistakes.  In fact, this is considered a great management style by numerous leaders in the field.  Sadly, many folks think of God in terms of some “tyrant” who sits on a throne watching for people doing things wrong and then zapping them with a lightning bolt.  Actually the opposite is true. Here is what the Holy Scriptures have to say about God watching us:

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

God is indeed watching and He is longing to catch us doing something right today!! Perhaps He could catch us doing something right in the next few minutes. Have a blessed week!!

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Where will your treasures end up?

Here’s a quick quiz for you.

> > > > 1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

> > > > 2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

> > > > 3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.

> > > > 4. Name five people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.

> > > > 5. Name the last five Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

> > > > 6. Name the last five year’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do? Me either!!  The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers.  They are the best in their fields.  But the applause dies.  Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten.  Accolades, awards, and certificates are often buried with their owners.

When I was in college, I remember the University of Arizona baseball coach, Jerry Kindall, speaking to a Christian group I was with.  He was an excellent major league ball player in his day.  He pulled out his World Series ring and showed it to us.  He said there was a time in his life when he almost sold his soul to be able to obtain that ring.  It meant everything to him.  As he was preparing to speak with us that night, he had to search high and low to find the ring.  He finally located it in his sock drawer underneath a pile of socks!!  His point was simply that giving our lives to gain the world’s treasures really amounts to nothing.  Even if we gain the treasure it will mean nothing in a very short time.  He went on to say that the real treasures we need to strive for are the ones we lay up in heaven.  These come from our relationship with God and our relationship with those around us.

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Now this can easily be applied to our personal lives or our work!!  Have you ever observed someone “selling their soul” to make the next rung on the ladder of success??  Promotions and titles also get buried with their owners.  Even if they make it, the cost to their lives…especially their inner selves…can be so very great.  The change can be slow, but family and friends begin to see it or at least feel the change.  No matter how much a person might think they can live one life at work and another at home…there is really only one life that each of us lives.  It is similar to the person who thinks they can appear one way at Church and yet live another way the rest of the week.  We are all simply one person…living one life.  The relevant question in this article is “Where are we laying up our treasure?”

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

> > > > 1. List a teacher who aided your journey through school.

> > > > 2. Name a friend who has helped you through a difficult time.

> > > > 3. Name a person who has taught you something worthwhile.

> > > > 4. Think of a person who have made you feel appreciated and special.

> > > > 5. Think of someone you enjoy spending time with.

> > > > 6. Name a hero whose story has inspired you.

Easier? You bet!  The lesson?  The people who make the biggest difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, the most awards, or the best promotions.  They are the ones that care!  And just as true: You make the biggest difference in other people’s lives not because of your credentials…or money…or awards…or promotions… but rather you touch their lives because you truly care about them!

Jesus has the final word on where we put our treasures:  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Garbage in – Garbage out!”

 

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“Garbage in, garbage out!”  I’m sure most of us have not only heard that phrase before, but, most likely, we’ve used it ourselves.  Whatever we take into our minds will likely come out of our mouths or be in our actions in some way.  This is illustrated with the increased sales in tennis rackets whenever Wimbledon is televised or the increase in participants at health clubs right after the summer Olympics are televised.

Certainly, we would not classify such things as “garbage”.  This principle can work to our advantage if we are putting “good food” into our minds.  The problem is that some people are not really watching their “mind-diet” very well.  Just like our bodies love junk food and crave more of the stuff, so our minds seem to love “garbage” and we develop a craving for the stuff.

At the extreme end of this type of behavior is the person who is addicted to pornography.  The “garbage out” results for this individual are often tragic, both for the person and for the people in their life.  In prison we see perhaps the most extreme results of minds that have been allowed to feed on such “garbage”.

Maybe it would be to our advantage to check out exactly what we are feeding our minds.  We live in a society that is very health conscious when it comes to the mental or the physical realm.  Yet so very little is ever said about our spiritual health.

Do the people who are feeding our minds a great deal of the time have values that are far removed from ours?  Has this influenced us as a society?   If we take an honest look at the moral values of our society over the past 40 years, the sad answer is YES.  Has it influenced us as individuals?  Only you can answer that for yourself.   As I honestly look at my own life, I know it has and it will continue to do so as long as I allow it.

The mental and spiritual aspects of our lives are precious.  They deserve our attention, maybe even more than our physical bodies.  These two areas go inseparably together. We need to take responsibility for what we are feeding our minds, realizing that what we take in will become a part of us.  The following verse of Holy Scripture would be a good one to stick right on our television sets:  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things…and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Whether we realize it or not, there is a continuous battle for our minds. The mind can be the doorway to the heart. Do you fast from certain foods during the course of the Church Year?  It is most helpful as those who fast regularly will affirm. Have you ever consider fasting from certain visual things as well? That may not be something that you’ve had on your radar, but it may be worth considering. Maybe it’s time to start a mental “fast” of sorts.

St. Paul had something similar in mind when he wrote the Corinthian Church these words: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,  casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

What am I feeding my mind tonight?

Are you a Ruminant?

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Are you a Ruminant?  Say What?!  I would like to take this opportunity to talk seriously about “Ruminants”.  Well as you probably know a ruminant is any animal that chews its cud.  Cows are the most common ones we see.  Have you ever watched a cow chew the cud?  Basically they eat some food and then later belch it back up and chew it again.  This is right and proper for cows, but certainly not for humans.  If we started doing that, our stomach acids would seriously burn our throats.  Plain and simple, we are not supposed to be ruminants (but I think I may be one…I’ll explain).

This being a ruminant is not only true for food but for other areas of our lives.  Many of us try to chew the cud when it comes to problems, changes, or the future.  We chew on something for a while and then later on we “belch” it back into our minds and chew on it again.  Sometimes we find ourselves “chewing the cud” at 2:00 in the morning.  In all honesty, we weren’t made to chew this kind of cud either.  From my own experience, those problems taste horrible at 2:00 a.m.

This article actually came about as a result of a dream I had one night.  It wasn’t the usual “hot-fudge with nuts after my pizza dinner” induced dream.  In this dream there was a cow standing in a field chewing its cud…that’s it…that’s the dream in its entirety: the cow was chewing grass, swallowing, and then belching it back up and chewing again.  I don’t know how long I watched this scene in my dream, but that was all there was to it…except for the voice.  As I awoke from this crazy dream I plainly heard a voice saying: “You are not a cow!!  Quit chewing the cud!!”  Please don’t call in the psych’s…I already know I have issues!!!  I stayed awake for a while pondering what had just taken place, feeling oh so sure that God had communicated to me in a very simplistic way…so that I wouldn’t miss His point.  I was (and sadly continue to be at times) a cud chewer.  The stressors in my life get regurgitated at the most ungodly hours…like 2:00 a.m.  How I wish I could blame it on chocolate!!!

I have continued to ponder this dream and the words of the voice and I came to some conclusions that I thought I would share with you.  I wish I could report a total victory in my cud chewing…but my throat is burning as I write!!  Please keep in mind that I am simply a cud chewer trying to stop this horrible habit. Hopefully these thoughts below can be of some help to any fellow chewers of the cud!

In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus tells a story of a rich man who started worrying about his future.  He began to “chew the cud” and decided to build bigger barns so that he could take life easy (eat, drink, and be merry).  All that “cud chewing” did him absolutely no good.  God said to him:  “You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”  Jesus then told His Disciples:  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…but seek His Kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:16-31)

When God called the rich man a fool, He was really saying the man was denying the existence of God.  God’s own definition of a fool is:  “A fool says in his heart, there is no God” (Psalm 14:1).  When anyone begins to be controlled by their problems or worries, they are really saying that there is no God to take care of these things.  In reality, God is more than able to take care of our problems and worries…to take care of our future.  By God’s own definition, we become a fool when we deny God’s ability to take care of us and then we begin to create a new god (barns, money, etc.).

Whenever changes or problems occur in our lives, we are faced with a choice.  We can get anxious about our situation and begin to worry.  This of course leads to stress and early morning hours of “chewing the cud”.  This is not a healthy approach to life.  The other choice is to involve God in the situation.  St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians explains what we should do:  “The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:5-7).  God did not create us to “chew the cud”.  We should definitely leave that to the cows and enjoy a peaceful life.

I am thinking of starting a “CUD CHEWERS ANONYMOUS” group or a “RUMINANTS FOR GOD” group.  So if you know of someone who has total victory in this area…let me know.  I can’t seem to find anyone in my neighborhood.  Otherwise, if you see me standing out in a field someplace, chewing away… you’ll know what’s going on!!   :>)  You are welcome to join me…us cud chewers usually like to be in herds!!

Praying you fellow ruminants out there gain victory…Blessings to you all!!!