Saturday, February 28, 2015

Living on God’s Side - Martin Wiles

“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped. Mark 10:48-49 NLT

God can be on the side of those I may have no time for.  

We were out for an afternoon of shopping with my in-laws. Our city is average size but has never housed many homeless individuals. Since Wal-mart is our busiest retail store, it only makes sense for them to stand in its parking lot. And a man and his two daughters were. When leaving the parking lot, my father-in-law turned the opposite direction of our home. After questioning him, we discovered he was circling the block so he could help this homeless family. He eased to where they stood, rolled down the window, and handed them a disguised amount of money. My wife and I remarked that we had seen them there before. He simply replied, “When God tells me to do something, I do it.” Good advice. 

Living on God’s side requires listening to the prompting of God’s Spirit. Jesus did when he encountered Bartimaeus—a blind man no one else had time for. As a believer, I have the privilege of carrying God with me every day. He works through my conscience and a still small voice, stimulating me to follow his direction. When I slow down long enough to listen—and when I’m spiritually tuned in, I’ll see those endeavors he wants me to pursue. 

Sometimes living on God’s side means doing something that seems illogical or even wasteful. This is only because I don’t know the full story. I must trust God enough to listen and obey even when logic says to do the opposite.

When I live on God’s side, my heart will motivate me to show compassion to others as Jesus did—regardless of whether they’re in the tight spot because of their own bad decisions or not. Accomplishing this means prioritizing. Overloading my schedule with selfish endeavors or even good pursuits diminishes my time to listen to God’s Spirit and do what he’s nudging me to do. 

What can you change to put yourself on God’s side?

Prayer: Merciful Lord, instill compassion in our hearts so that we might live on Your side.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Flashback Friday - Martin Wiles

Path Walking

It abruptly stopped and disappeared beneath our feet. Fortunately we had a map.

Paths are supposed to lead to a destination. This one did; the top of a mountain. But it didn’t continue or circle back. It simply stopped. Paths are paths because people or animals walk them regularly. Grass is worn because of the traffic. I’ve walked root littered paths, rock infested paths, paths leading over mountain balds and paths passing through dense woods. Some popular paths are even denoted on maps. Read more...

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Making the Negative Positive - Martin Wiles

Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. Exodus 15:24 NLT

Positives can be formed from negatives.

I remember very little about math beyond the basics, along with a small amount of algebra. I was once asked to teach a sixth grade math class. While I knew the material, I was quite uncomfortable being the instructor. When we arrived at positives and negatives, the kids became confused. Especially when I taught them that two negatives create a positive. Generating a positive from a negative is possible after all. 

Moses had quite a few negatives in the bunch he led out of Egypt. When six million people start complaining, one has a problem. We don’t have any water. We don’t have any meat. We’re tired of this manna. Things were better back in Egypt. Who made you the boss? Just a few of the statements Moses had to deal with. Moses wasn’t successful in turning all these negatives into a positive, but with God’s assistance, he made a valiant attempt. 

Murmuring occurs when my perception is flawed. I’m not viewing the situation as God does or wants me to. Because of this, a negative spirit takes over, and I begin complaining about my circumstances or a particular person. The Israelites didn’t see what God was doing.

Understanding people and circumstances can cut down on my negativism. Moses knew the people he led were a stubborn lot. I—like everyone else, am a product of my childhood experiences. If I grew up around murmuring, I’m likely to do it as well.

Being around others who have a complaining spirit is contagious. Multiplying two negatives makes a positive—so does multiplying two positives. When I love and encourage those who are negative, the chances of them altering their attitudes increases. Dealing with negative people requires God’s wisdom—only he can change their heart, but my positivism will go a long way in influencing them toward the same end.

Are you allowing someone else’s negative spirit to affect your positive outlook on life?

Prayer: Father, make us the bright light of encouragement to those who suffer with a negative attitude. 

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meshing Personalities in Relationships - Martin Wiles

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. Psalm 139:14 NLT

What attracts us to someone else can be the very point of conflict thereafter.

I’m an introvert. I thrive on alone time. I can sit on a mountain peak for hours at a time and feel energized. Or on the back porch of a mountain cabin overlooking the protruding peaks and undulating valleys. No company needed. Curling up in either of these two places or in my recliner at home is perfectly satisfying. No sound required. My wife, on the other hand, is an extrovert. She thrives on people and noise. She’s a social butterfly. Of course, we complement each other. She makes up for what I lack in social skills, but on the other hand, I remind her of the importance of down time. We knew each other’s personalities before we married. But if we aren’t vigilant, what attracted us to each other can be our source of conflict in the present. 

Meshing personalities begins with recognizing different personalities exist. God made all people wonderfully complex with different body styles and personality types. Extrovert versus introvert. Sensor versus intuitive. Thinker versus feeler. Judger versus perceiver. 

Only when I understand the language and actions of a person’s personality—whether it’s my spouse, child, peer, or work partner, can I adequately communicate with them, work with them, appreciate them, and enjoy their company. Knowing the enemy—or in this case the other person’s personality characteristics, is half the battle.

Rather than personality types causing conflicts, they can actually add spice to relationships and life in general. Had God created us identically, life would be boring. The very traits that attract me to others may be the exact things that lead to conflict later if I’m not watchful. Appreciating and complementing the personalities of others and the differences they display, however, will lead to unity and a richer life. 

When others’ differences seem to get in the way, remember God made us as we are. Seek peace, not conflict. 

Prayer: God of wonder and beauty, help us use our differences to make this world a better place. 

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