Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wearing Blinders - Martin Wiles

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When worn properly, they prevent me from noticing what God desires I see. 

As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. Luke 16:21 NLT

I first noticed them when I was a young boy attending town Christmas parades. As the horse drawn floats and carriages meandered by, the horses sported blinders to remove their peripheral view. At the time, it made no sense to me. Why would the owners not want their horses to see in a certain direction? Later I learned it was for the safety of the crowd and the one riding the horse or driving the carriage. 

The rich man wore blinders. A beggar named Lazarus almost lay in his lap, but he didn’t see him—not truly. He was too busy living in luxury to concern himself with someone who might steal his time and dance on his emotions. His reasons for wearing blinders can be mine.

When I fear change, I wear blinders. Helping the beggar would mean the rich man would have to give up some of what he enjoyed. The direction I feel God prompting me to take may be uncomfortable. Change normally is. I get accustomed to my traditions and feel contented. 

I wear blinders when I’m anxious over what this change might entail. Change usually involves a particular loss. For the rich man, it would have been some of his luxury. Intervening in others’ lives means giving up something—time, money. But in the relinquishing, I actually gain more than I lose. Selfishness will keep my eyes focused inward and hinder me from learning that true living is about serving God by serving others.

Stereotyping also situates blinders on my eyes. The rich man doubtlessly didn’t see the inner potential Lazarus may have had. He never stopped to think how he could enhance the beggar’s life. Applying to everyone what I’ve experienced with one race, culture, religion, or economic stratum puts blinders on my eyes and hides from me their inner potential. 

What blinders are you wearing that prevent you from seeing what God desires you see?

Prayer: Remove our blinders, merciful God, that we might perceive all You would have us observe. 
(Photo courtesy of morguefile and clarita.)

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Flashback Friday - Martin Wiles

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Supernatural Power

She wasn’t crazy about getting up, breaking camp, donning a backpack or walking uphill, but my secret weapon always helped her.

My daughter could out walk me during the day, but morning wasn’t her specialty. Eating breakfast, stuffing her sleeping bag, packing the tent and her backpack were accomplished in slow motion. Headache and stomachaches were also common. Read more...

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Balanced - Martin Wiles

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Time comes in the same increments for everyone.

So be careful how you live… Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Ephesians 5:15-16

Flipping and tumbling across the floor didn’t concern me. Even bouncing off the trampoline and flipping over the horse beam didn’t tax my nerves. Watching her swing round and round on the bars only made me a little nervous. What set my nerves on edge was the balance beam. The other gymnastic activities my daughter performed could have resulted in injury, but the balance beam appeared the most dangerous. Walking, jumping, and flipping on a piece of a narrow slither of wood simply didn’t seem safe. Happily, she never injured herself. 

God wants me to balance my time just as my daughter balanced her body. Since I’m a “yes” man, this makes it easy for me to put too many irons in the fire. Satan uses my personality and tempts me to crave recognition and see how much I can accomplish in 24 hours. While I’m enjoying the adrenaline rush, my body is doing things God didn’t design it to do. Stress levels are rising, heart rate is accelerating, mood swings are increasing, and relationships are suffering.

Opportunities for good abound—in my circle of influence and across the world, but I can’t complete them all, nor does God expect me to. Doing too many good things at the same time results in stress and loss of joy. When this happens, Satan slips in and gives me a sour attitude which in turn usually leads to giving up everything. Performing good things with honorable intentions has the unfortunate potential of turning evil in the end if I’m not careful. 

I balance my life not when I simultaneously do all the good things I see around me but when I do what God wants me to do. He will focus me in the direction he wants, and I discover that direction through prayer. Recognition from others shouldn’t be my goal. Performing for an audience of One should be my aim. What can you do to better balance your life?

Prayer: Remind us, dear Lord, that our responsibility isn’t to do all the good we see but only that which is in Your plan for us at any given moment. 
(Photo courtesy of moreguefile and Melodi2.)


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Strength in Unity - Martin Wiles

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We can accomplish more together than we can apart.

Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Ephesians 4:3 NLT

A charter member leaves the church because children are allowed to play games in the family life center. A group splits and forms their own church because they didn’t like a decision made by the majority. A member spreads vicious rumors about one of the church’s leaders even though they are false. A member disagrees with the majority’s decision on a matter but becomes a thorn that spreads dissent in the church. Members fight over the style of music, color of carpet, or what color to paint the Sunday school rooms. A young Christian leaves the church when the church decides they won’t continue in a community fellowship because it is interracial. Just a few of the situations I’ve encountered in my church journey.

First century churches weren’t immune to squabbles, disagreements, and unspiritual activities. As Paul made a plea for them to be unified then, so church leaders face the same challenge in twenty-first century churches. Unity doesn’t entail total agreement on every decision. Due to our human natures, various beliefs, and different personalities, this is an impossible goal.

When disagreements arise—and they will, unity allows for disagreement without being disagreeable. An attitude of “I’ll support the majority’s decisions” goes a long way in promoting oneness in God’s churches. Democratic nations function in an identical fashion. As long as the church is not making unbiblical decisions, this should be my attitude.

Unity also happens when the members of the body garner themselves around a common vision. While the mission of every church should be the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), individual churches have different visions.

Remembering believers are all serving the same Lord—even though we differ on some insignificants, helps us keep the bond of unity in love within our churches. What can you do to promote a deeper spirit of unity in your church?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we be the magnets that draw others to the unity You desire us to possess. 
(Photo courtesy of morguefile and Jusben.)

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