On one of our ice-filled days last week, I was
looking for a movie to watch online. I
looked at several reviews of different movies of different kinds. Some of the reviews talked about the actors
or the storylines of the particular films. Other reviews talked about the feeling that the reviewer got as he/she
watched the movie. On one review of a
popular action movie, the author simply put:
“You have not lived until you have seen this movie.”
Obviously, it is in fact possible to live without seeing
that specific movie, but we understand what the reviewer meant. He intended to say that your life will
dramatically change by viewing this film. He believed the movie was so great that he had to share its greatness
with everyone he could reach. His review
has likely had thousands of readers and everyone knows how he felt about that
What are we excited about in our lives? Are we excited about our favorite sports team
or our favorite celebrity? Are we
excited about our career or our family? Do we realize that the subjects we choose to spend time on and what
topics we choose to talk about demonstrate what really matters to us?
I would suggest that most people who come to this blog are at least interested in living the Christian life. I
invite you to turn that mere interest into genuine excitement. The life of a Christian is a passionate life
as well as a fulfilling life. The
journey through life as a Christian is exciting because the gospel of Jesus
Christ calls for radical living. We are
to be the most loving people in the world.
We are to be people who spend time in good works and in caring about
others. We are to spend our resources of
time and money on spreading the message of hope in Christ to the far corners of
the earth. In short, we are to be
excited. Our message to the world around
us is to be similar to that of the enthusiastic movie reviewer, “You have not lived until you have
experienced life in Jesus Christ.”
One skill that every person needs to develop is the ability to accurately
observe what is happening in a given situation.
We all need to learn to pick up on the verbal and visual clues people
are sending out during a conversation.
Being able to pick up on characteristics like tone of voice and whether
or not someone is attempting humor are key in being able to having a fulfilling
social life. We all know people who are
naturally good at reading other people’s emotions and we probably also know
people who lack this skill and therefore create awkwardness and tension in
Jesus was a masterful observer of the world around Him. He drew analogies from the natural world and
referenced often the writings that were familiar to His audience. Perhaps His greatest skill was in the
observation of human nature. In John 4,
He immediately realized that the woman at the well was avoiding her true problem
by deflecting the conversation onto ethnicity and religion. Jesus cut through her attempts at distraction
and went straight to her heart. Jesus
had an ability to discern the hearts of men and women because of His being the
Son of God, but even without His divine nature, Jesus was a great listener and
therefore a great observer of the human condition. He could see true faith and could also know
the hearts of His enemies. This skill
was one of the greatest aspects of His ministry.
As Christians, we must also learn to observe the signals that people give
off in our conversations. Is this person
bragging to cover up insecurity? Is this
person lying to himself/herself to cover up a wounded heart? Is this person truly joyous or simply masking
fear? The reason we need to listen to
others and to observe their words and actions is simple: only when we truly
know someone can we empathize with him/her and then demonstrate the love of
Christ. We don’t love people just to
convert them, but we must love people in the hope that they will see what we
have in Christ and want that same measure of peace and joy in their own
lives. May God help us to observe, to
respond and to help heal the lives of those around us.
"Faith is not an instinct. It certainly is not a feeling - feelings don't help much when you're in the lions' den or hanging on a wooden Cross. Faith is not inferred from the happy way things work. It is an act of will, a choice, based on the unbreakable Word of a God who cannot lie, and who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean, in the person of Jesus Christ."
Over the last few days, I have seen lots of photos of my friends and
family that were taken during the holidays.
Technology allows us to share our moments with each other like never
before. One activity present in lots of
the photos was the fact that many people played games with their families
during their Christmas and New Year's celebrations. One
new game that several folks enjoyed is called HedBanz. The idea of the game is that each player has
a card worn on a headband that everyone else can see, but you do not see your
own card. You then attempt to figure out
what is on your card by asking questions of the other players.
Many people are in a similar situation in their lives spiritually. Everyone around them can see their weaknesses
and their strengths, but the person in question does not have a high level of
spiritual discernment. One great
strength to have as a person is the ability to evaluate oneself honestly. It takes true strength of character to be
able to realize our own weaknesses and to be able to recognize our strengths
and yet maintain humility.
What are some of your weaknesses as a person? Do you have a tendency to gossip, gripe or
boast? Do you have a problem with
laziness, carelessness, self-control or honesty? Being able to recognize a weakness is the
first step in being able to correct it.
What are some of your strengths?
Are you a good listener or an effective communicator? Are you fair, level-headed, diligent or
hard-working? It is not boastful to
humbly recognize your personal strengths.
When you are able to realize what you do well, you are able to put those
talents into work in service to God and to others.
To be able to see yourself as you truly are is an ability that we all need
to develop and use in our lives. Only
when we have some understanding of ourselves, can we hope to understand the
hearts of those around us.