Friday, June 15, 2012

Of Love and Lust

Of Love and Lust

Love can sneak up and take us by surprise at any encounter with another person. It is basic human nature when hormones start surging. If both individuals are adult, single, and willing you can let passion can take control. The same feelings are true for lust and the two are closely related. There are a great many people who sadly can not tell the difference.

Those who are married, in a committed relationship or under vows of celibacy need to be able to tell the difference and have the self discipline to control both. With lust you can let the moment pass and as soon as the object of lust is out of sight the energy is gone. Love on the other hand is much more difficult to deal with and takes more awareness. Love lingers in the heart and mind for a long long time.

Love is a good emotion and can be very healthy if dealt with appropriately. You can love a great many people with good boundaries for the expression of that love. The love of a good friend does not need to lead to sex nor interfere with a comment. Awareness, self-discipline, and honesty about your feelings will make the difference. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Remembering Sermons

Pastors like to think that people remember and cherish every word of those carefully crafted sermons we work hard on each week. A good preacher spends an hour in preparation for each minute he or she preaches. A little secret is that most pastors do not remember last week’s sermon either.

Memory is a fuzzy thing. Try to remember what you had for lunch a week ago Wednesday? Most of us can’t do it. How ever though the memory of what we ate is gone but the nourishment from what we ate is now part of us.
So too with the sermons we hear our memory of titles may fade as we walk out the church door but the spiritual nurture remains to feed us.

I am sometimes pleasantly surprised when years later some one tells me about a sermon I delivered and don’t remember myself.  I stand up to preach and it is an act of faith that God will use my words to touch someone.

What was the last sermon you remember?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Criticism is Hard!

Criticism is hard! Most of us don’t like to be criticized and we feel bad when it happens. We have to admit that sometimes we deserve it and sometimes we don’t and I am not sure which hurts the most. My personal problem is that I tend to respond much too quickly when I should take the time to cool down and evaluate my part of it.

There are some differences between Criticism, Critique, and Evaluation. Criticism is usually sharp and says, “I don’t like what you did or said.” It is an expression of displeasure from one person to the other. It is most often received badly and does little good. In fact it is often counter productive.

A Critique is a step up from criticism though the two words stem from the same root. A critique can be either positive or negative and often both. It too can say something went wrong so let’s discuss the possibilities for correction. This is an approach that is often lost in our society.

As a Toastmaster I am very much into evaluation as a tool to help one another improve our lives, work and progress. It usually starts with here is what went well and is followed with here is one way to improve on this. Always it is followed up with appreciation for the effort.

As a mayor of a small city I am in a position of no matter what I do some people will be happy and some will be very unhappy by the same action. Some of those who are unhappy will remember for a long time but that is just the way it is. What I have to constantly work on myself about is how do I respond? Sometimes even when I try to have a cool down period the other party is impatient and demands an immediate response. When I fall for that I am usually not going to give a good well thought out answer. We are still a work in progress. Lord help me!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spiritual Workouts

In Philippians 2:12 Paul tells us to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

This verse has often puzzled me since he also says that salvation if a free gift God though grace.  What does it mean for me to work out my own salvation?

Here is the rub; I carry around within me a lot of baggage that hinders my acceptance of this free gift of grace. Things like anger, fear, selfishness, and hatred of those different than me. So working though my salvation means letting go of my anger toward someone and forgiving them even if they do not ask for it. It means letting go of those things that I covet.  It means relinquishing control of situations that make me anxious.

God invites me to work out my salvation by letting go of things I want to control and allowing God to do some cleaning in this earthly tent that I call my life. Once I claim the gift of salvation my workout is like a personal attitude adjustment so that from then on my living represents Jesus my savior to the rest of the world. My spiritual workout has always been a struggle and still is. Like physical exercise it never stops.

How is your spiritual workout going?