Friday, May 27, 2016

Thought Management


While we can certainly pray for God to give us the strength to not lead us into temptation, worry, fear, or frustration; thoughts come. Some good, some bad, and some downright confusing ... and just know that espresso right before bed can lead to some pretty interesting thoughts!

One time I saw this creature flying toward me, then I realized it was a turkey as it got closer (I was at my parents house for some reason too) ... and suddenly it changed into a giant turkey made from Legos as it passed over my head!! ... very odd. What next you ask!? I woke up ... but anyway ... I digress ...

My point is that thoughts come.

2 Corinthians tells us to take these thoughts captive ... in obedience to Christ

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
Paul's quote was more pertaining to defending the ministry, but the point is that thoughts can certainly be used as a weapon for or against God's work if we are not careful to manage.

Driving to work this morning it seemed that we have a three ways to deal with these thoughts ... I'm sure you may have varying perspectives, but these are mine, so deal with it! :)

We can reject it, receive it, or redirect it ... let me explain.

Rejection:  Some thoughts are just so unwholesome, sinful, or full of anger, discontent, comparison, and judgment that we need to immediately reject these and not let them go any further. Often they come packaged in what seems to be a message from God that we should share with others. We need to be especially careful of these thoughts. He is indeed alive and well in this world, working in and through us daily, and occasionally the Spirit will move and guide us as He sees fit; but be careful. We indeed are God's hands and feet on this earth, but we are not His rod and staff. To quote Matt Chander, "You make a crummy god."

Personal Application: I've found that if I would not like this thought to come to light, or this thought is not leaving me at peace, I need to reject it. (To be clear, peace is not happiness and joy.) Something that should remain hidden is rarely if ever from God, and additionally a thought about us, another individual, or situation, that is getting us more worked up and stressed than bringing us peace is also unlikely from Him. God is a God of peace, not bitterness, malice, and impurity. Yes He is a judge too ... but we are not.

Receive: Some thoughts are simply so filled with peace, Truth, and Life that build us and others up. Not surprisingly these are the thoughts that are least confusing and often from God. God is not a God of confusion. Easy then right? Not quite ...

Personal Application: So while I've found these thoughts are easy to discern, are biblically sound, and speak life, receiving them is not as easy. Contrary to the worlds' mantra of "Just Follow Your Heart" , this is often far from it, my heart is just not that good ... my flesh would not think of or want to do many of these things on my own. They often inconvenience, disturb, and push me out of my comfort zone. These thoughts may indeed be easy to discern that they are from God, but they are also the easiest to reject. Our flesh pulls us to be a god, not submit to One. Thus, we sadly often receive the thoughts we should reject, and reject the thoughts we should receive. It's very easy to lash out and give in to temptation - and much more difficult to lay our life aside for the sake of someone else.

Redirection: I got this idea from an artist featured on the Truth Project. The idea is that as children of God we should seek the good in things that perhaps have been twisted. It's the 
untwisting of something false and revealing God's Good Truth. This can be helpful and life changing; but is often difficult, and dangerous. At times I've attempted to untwist something that perhaps should simply have been rejected.

Personal Application: While the idea of being a warrior for Christ and having Him use us to untwist and conquer evil seems ... exhilarating ... I would never do this in the dark (alone). If some idea came to me that seems like an opportunity to redirect, I have learned that counsel ... Godly counsel ... Christ-loving counsel ... is what I need. Thankfully I have a spouse that is chasing after His heart that I can bounce ideas off of ... and some others I trust ... but it's not a matter or thought to take lightly.

So ... I'm not sure if this has generated any new thoughts of your own, or perhaps you have been trying to discern a message yourself, but either way, I know one thing. Seek Him ... truly seek Him ... and He will guide you.

Blessings,
~Matthew

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How Facebook is Breaking Me



Over the past year or so I have taken breaks from social media, and Facebook in particular, on a fairly regular basis. It has ranged from a day to a couple weeks - though the frequency has been increasing as of late, and I frankly am not sure how much longer I will remain tied to the 1 billion plus people actively using Facebook daily.

That's a staggering number isn't it?

So then why leave? Despite the noise that Facebook sometimes creates (that we all see I'm sure) it's such a great tool for being connecting to so many people, sharing life, and even in my case, the Light to the world that is my Christian faith. What a huge mission field right? Additionally, there are people that I would likely never communicate with again if I left this giant tool of connectivity. So why even leave?

There are many reasons - but in a nutshell, I read less, write less, sleep less, and my creativity is stunted and replaced with something much more lazy and easy like thumbing through my phone or device.

It's destroying me and who I used to be; it's not making me nor my quality of life any better. In addition, it's a tool that puts our highlight reel of life out there for others to read, and allows the very natural human desire to compare harm and stunt myself and others from embracing our own journey and contentment in Him.

Are there many individuals that use it that aren't affected by some of the things I mention? Of course! However, it is my belief that many who say so are in denial or are ignorant to the real impact it's making in their life.

When I share these thoughts the responses I usually get are:

  1. Defensive: "I don't use it that much and it's not a problem for me."
  2. Offensive: "Well, then just stop using it so much - don't blame social media!"

I'm not blaming social media, it's a tool that is designed almost perfectly for what it is intended to do; I'm blaming myself.

Plus, as a Christian, these words always come to mind ...

One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.
John Piper

I could also replace prayerlessness with serving. Facebook is designed about being self-centric and it's doing a fantastic job at that.

So what do I do? In a way this is rather silly is it not? It's Facebook - just leave right? It's no big deal. Perhaps some may even say this post is narcissistic in nature ... but that is far from my intent. As always, perhaps my struggle and transparency may help someone else who happens to stumble upon this page that is struggling with the same.

I pray that I can wait 14 days, and that the pull and addiction to be connected to others (in a mostly superficial way) is surpassed by the pull to be connected to Him and others in a more personal way. I would love to do both, but both my personality and recent history have shown that at least for now, I don't know how to balance that. So I choose Him.

In case you feel the same, here's the link.


His,
Matthew

Monday, May 9, 2016

An Open Letter to Ford Motor Company

Taking a brief detour from my usual topics, I thought I would use this medium to share an open letter from my mother to Ford Motor Company.


I had never owned a brand new car.
It was December 2011 and I was going to be 66 on New Year’s Eve.
I went into Roy O’Brien Ford Dealership, sat down with a salesperson
and literally described the car of my dreams.
I wanted a Taurus – a red Taurus.
I wanted a Taurus because I read the reviews, I talked to informed people,
and I believed it to be the safest car on the road.
Weeks later I drove away with a 2012 Ford Taurus Limited -
Red Candy Metallic w/white leather interior, sun roof, heated/cooled seats,
rear sun shade – and SYNC.
We had her undercarriage rustproofed, and we had her pinstriped by the dealership.
Jim Galli, who did the pinstriping, was a true artist
and has since died from cancer.
We “secretly” named our Taurus Rory.
Rory is an animated red racing car
that our three-year-old grandson loved to watch on Saturday mornings.
I am telling you all of this because I want you to visualize this car,
not only as a classic example of what the Taurus could be,
but as part of a family’s life, providing safety, comfort, and pride.
She never went without a regular tune up or a full tank of gas.
And she never went anywhere without a car wash.

On January 30, 2016 my husband and I were attending a birthday party
at Mr. Paul’s Chop House in Roseville.
We left the party somewhere around 11:30 pm.
Witnesses say we were hit by a police car
that was racing down Grosebeck without lights or a siren.
Apparently the officer was on a call.
We were hit broadside, between the driver’s door and the passenger door.
We were spun around and ended up in the left lane of oncoming traffic.
I understand that the sound of the crash was bone chilling.
However, inside the car we were wrapped in a cushion of white
that covered us and blocked the view from our side windows.
We called out to each other, but someone else was shouting as well.
“You have been hit!  Do you want me to call 911”?
Over and over again the recording kept repeating itself.
We were dazed, and it took us several seconds to realize
that the voice we were hearing was the SYNC.
My husband turned off the ignition and the recording stopped.
We sat there, in this surreal situation,
and realized that we were both unharmed.
It was a miracle.
By the Grace of God and the engineering genius
of side air bags in our Taurus – we were both unharmed.
Even more surreal, I was not afraid.
I had no idea what was going on around me.
I heard the sirens and saw flashing lights through the windshield,
yet, inside the car we were somehow still being protected.

I stood on the curb in front of the restaurant
and watched them tow Rory away.
I was remembering how insistent I had been on owning this Taurus.
Even in the dark, her red candy color shone like a shiny red apple!
She was going back to Roy O’Brien where she belonged.
It is only right that they make the decision.
It is hard for me to think she can’t be saved – after saving us.


I wish my grandson was still three years old.
Such a magical age where nothing is impossible.
I would walk him into that bump shop on those short little legs.
I’d let go of his hand so he could walk right up
to his beautiful race car, look right into those headlights and say,
“You have to get better Rory!”
(and those mechanics would make her better) J


I would like to thank Ford Motor Company for designing vehicles to save lives.  Without the side air bags on our Taurus my husband would not be here today, and I would probably still be in the hospital.  We have always been a Ford family.  Our children and grandchildren own Ford cars.  You are not just a company - you are a family as well.  God bless the good work you do, and God bless your family.


Sincerely,


Karen Gasperoni
Harper Woods, Michigan



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