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Putting Christian Faith to Work      Download this Full Story
By m r w
Saturday, August 31, 2002

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By M R. Wood
© M R. Wood 1987-2014


Introduction

Where to begin?
How do you start to write a book on Christian living?
Who am I to do so?
And why am I compelled to do it?
These questions have plagued me for some time now.
Where to begin, at the heart; the dwelling place of the holly spirit; The place GOD uses to speak to us.
To start, I am not theologian. I do not belong to any specific group of organized religion. I have no academic credentials that would qualify me to write this booklet. My only credential is that I believe in and love the lord. I believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead to sit at the right hand of the Father. I believe that our salvation is predicated on our belief in and commitment to Christ.
Commitment to Christ, what does that mean? Isnít it enough just to believe that Christ is the son of GOD? I say no! Even Satan knows who Christ is, even if Satanís children donít. As Christians, we need to be committed to Christ. Our Faith in Christ must start from the deepest regions of the heart and from there radiate outward until it permeates the fiber of our daily lives. In other words, our faith must be turned into action. When you truly believe, you act upon it. You never doubt it. Each of us believes in gravity. We donít worry about floating off the face of the earth each morning. We get up each morning with the faith and confidence that our feet will land on the ground. We act on our belief. So it must be with our faith in Christ. We must internalize our faith so that our acting in it is second nature to us.
In the following pages, I will share with you some basic principles that I continuously try to use to put my faith to work. There is no magic here - no great theological insights. Instead, there is a simple set of guidelines intended to help me in my quest to make my walk with the Lord second nature to me. My prayer is that you find this book to be of some help to you in your walk in faith.
God Bless You.

Be Positive in Your Attitude with Others
Isnít it easy to engulf ourselves in our own self-importance?
When we do this, it always seems to follow that we surround ourselves with walls that limit our ability to do GOOD. No sooner do we start believing our own press, when the walls of Ego, DISTRUST, FEAR and DOUBT spring up around us.
Operating in this mode it is impossible to maintain a positive attitude with other people.
I have found that one of the essentials of putting my faith to work is to be supportive of others; to approach them with an open and loving heart.
Donít misunderstand what I am saying here. Most of my friends see me as an outspoken, hard-hitting individual. They do not always know how to handle my directness or candor. I am not saying here to patronize, or to live in fear of hurting someoneís feelings. What I am saying is to be LOVINGLY HONEST with people. This is different from being maliciously honest. Being LOVINGLY HONEST means to be truthful donít weasel around it. Situational avoidance of the truth quickly turns to lying and deceit. Being LOVINGLY HONEST means to use care in our delivery of sensitive information and messages. Donít be afraid to say what you mean and to say it with conviction.
Having a positive attitude with others means to be supportive where support is warranted, to be strong and not weak, to be to others as you would have GOD be with you.
MAKE AN EXTRA EFFORT TO UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY DO
Have you ever been misunderstood? Have you ever done something that you thought was good and right, just to have someone accuse you of being deceitful of underhanded? Youíre not alone. Human nature seems to be plagued with jumping to conclusions. As a rule, it seems that people just donít want to make an effort to understand life through another personís eyes.
As Christians, we should always try to see the truth of a personís actions. Notice I didnít say the GOOD! If a person acts in love, then we should be sensitive to that love. If a person acts in evil, then we should be sensitive to that as well. We should see things for what they are and not for what we would like them to be.
I am not talking about absolutes; I am talking about our ability to discern truth. To do this we must be able to see past the actions of others and look directly into their hearts. Of course, this is more easily said than done. The truth of the matter is you can do this, however, to look into someoneís heart; we must not harden our own. We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We must be willing to take some risk. We must be willing to approach others as well as ourselves with an open mind and an open heart. To approach others openly takes FAITH!; not faith in others; not faith in ourselves, but FAITH that CHRIST will be there to guide and protect us.
Next time someone does something that seems to go against your expectations of that person, take the time to make sure you really understand the WHY behind their actions. Be sure you perceive the action correctly.
ē Do your homework.
ē Be a good steward.
ē Look to their hearts.
ē See what IS.
ē Try to understand.
ē Donít be judgmental.
Itís not our job to determine the righteousness of someoneís actions. It is our job to be understanding, compassionate and loving.

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART.
IT WILL GUIDE YOU TOWARD TRUTH
Probably the most difficult thing for us to do is to listen to our hearts. We seem to be able to listen to everything and everyone but listening to our hearts seems to elude us. We listen to the advice of others and often act on that advice, not because we think they are right but because we are too insecure to do otherwise. Many of us go whichever way the wind blows us. We care more about what others think, than what GOD thinks. We give in to the pressures of our friends and of our enemies.
If you only absorb one thing from this book, let it be this:
GOD SPEAKS TO US THROUGH OUR HEARTS!!!!
The Holy Spirit is our transmitter to Christ. The Holy Spirit is not just our comforter. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, our advisor, our navigator.
When I say, ďListen to your heartĒ, I am saying, ďListen to GodĒ. GOD is TRUTH!
In order to have a relationship with GOD, we must tune in to his station. We canít be clicking our way through the channels of our receiver. We must lock in to ONE channel: GODís channel. We donít need to rationalize situations. We donít need to approach life with situational right and wrong. We donít need to intellectualize our way through things. We do need to tune in to our HEART! Your heart will reveal the road map to fulfilling GODís purpose for you. Listen to your heart. Act on it. Tune in to GODís station. All the other stations belong to Satan. They are easy and expedient to listen to and they will lead you far away from GOD. They replace love with hate, trust with suspicion, peace with anxiety, faith with doubt, respect with jealousy, confidence with fear. You choose! You decide! Listen to your heart.
ALWAYS DO WHAT IS RIGHT
Always do what is right. Sounds like motherhood and apple pie. So why is it that we continually fail at this? Well, to do what is right, we first have to know what is right.
Today, most people believe that right and wrong are relative terms. You know, ďWhatís right for me may be wrong for you.Ē This kind of thinking might apply to the color of the clothes you wear or to the medicine you take but I am speaking of fundamental right and wrong.
So how do we recognize right and wrong in a given situation, especially a difficult one?
First, we must recognize that most situations that require us to take action, right or wrong are difficult because we are torn between doing the right thing and doing the socially acceptable thing. Our thinking is cluttered with worry about the political and social ramifications of our actions, Admit it. How many times do you find yourself worrying about what your friends will think, or how your actions will be accepted by others? Now ask yourself, how many times do you find yourself worrying what GOD will think? Hmmmm Ö
Doing what is right takes courage, conviction, and faith. Once we have reconciled within our heart what is right, then what others think or what society thinks is irrelevant.
I have found that if I ask GOD to help me (PRAY), he does. I am amazed at how the most complex situations become reduced down to a simple YES or NO result. GOD can reduce the seemingly complex maze of grays to simple blacks and whites. But first, we have to be ready to listen and then act upon GODís advice.
Right and wrong; good and bad; they are absolute; they are not situational. Only our intellect and cowardice makes them so. For most people always doing what is right becomes the hardest thing they do. Doing what is right is a question of doing what GOD would have us do. Everything else is merely Satanís way of misdirecting us.

NEVER DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU SAD OR UNHAPPY ACCEPT OUT OF LOVE
Sacrifice is the act of doing something for the overall good of others that requires us to suffer in some way. Sacrificing for the right reasons is a good thing. Christ sacrificed his like for us so that we could find eternal life for ourselves. His suffering was supreme. He sacrificed out of love and compassion. He sacrificed for the right reason. Unfortunately, many of us sacrifice our own well being out of a sense of guilt, fear, self-pity or some false sense of duty. When this happens, feelings of resentment grow within us. We canít understand why our sacrifices arenít appreciated. We become martyrs unto ourselves. We become negative and often destructive influence to our friends, families, and ourselves.
GOD doesnít want us to suffer. He wants us to have an abundant life. He wants us to be happy, filled with the joy of his love.
Sacrificing your pride, your money, your time, yourself because of your love for someone else is a noble and courageous act of faith. Donít be misled by those who would goad you in to some sacrificial act because itís your duty, or you owe it to them or whatever. Sacrifices must come from the heart. They must not require any reciprocal acts on the part of others. Sacrifices should be a selfless act of love, no strings, and no ďgotchasĒ.
Every day your life should be dedicated to the Lordís purpose. For most of us, this means living a life that is full of happiness and service. So when youíre feeling sad or unhappy, stop and ask yourself why. Who is your suffering helping? What good will come of your sadness? If you canít find a good answer, spend a moment in prayer in thanks to GOD for the blessings he has given you. Be specific, then go out and be of help to someone. Go out of your way to be a positive influence in someoneís life. Do this in an act of faith that GOD will lift your burdens as you help in lifting the burdens of others.

GIVE AND THEN GIVE SOME MORE
Giving is not an act of losing. When we give with the right intent, we donít end up with less, we end up with more.
A while back in my life I learned a very important lesson. I learned that the only way for me to have more is to make sure others have more. The only way for us to increase in our abundance in life is to increase the overall supply.
The sad part life is this; the world is saturated with people who are constantly trying to increase their material and spiritual well-being at the expense of someone else. The more they grab from others the less they keep. Although their lives seem to be cluttered with an over abundance of material wealth, these people are notoriously unhappy, depressed, and directionless. Like an insidious cancer, they push and push to find happiness through acquisition and conquest only to end up further and further away from their goal.
GOD holds the keys to the warehouse of abundance. His ability to pour out blessings in to our lives is unlimited. We must never lose sight of the fact that all our happiness, material wealth, and overall well-being are gifts from GOD. Our faith in Christ and our continued prayers of praise and thanksgiving move GOD to bless us in every way.
We must in turn be willing to use the gifts GOD has blessed us with for his glory. I am not just speaking of giving your money to worthy causes, or contributing to your church. That kind of giving is easy. But true , from the heart, giving requires us to dig deep in to ourselves, deep in to the vault of our spirit, and give of ourselves to others.
Giving requires commitment. It requires faith that GOD will replenish us. Giving beyond reasonable expectations, in the name of Christ, and constantly doing so, no matter what our personal circumstances, and without expectation of reward, is one of the greatest acts of faith we can perform.
By now you are probably seeing one central theme to each of the topics within this book: FAITH IN CHRIST manifested in action.

DONíT KEEP SCORE ON PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS
Keeping score, I guess people just love to do it; especially self-righteous ďChristiansĒ. Christís whole reason for dying on the cross was to allow us to be forgiven in GODís eyes. So then, why is that people are always keeping score on each other? They have the ďwhat have you done for me latelyĒ syndrome, the ďwhatís in it for meĒ mentality. They gossip. They judge.
By keeping score on our relationships with others, we guarantee that the relationship will fail. Keeping score will eventually erode the trust and respect required to make relationships work.
Someone who keeps a scorecard on others is lacking in faith and love. Itís not our job! Keeping score always results in focusing on all the bad things people do, all the things that donít measure up to our standards. The more score we keep, the less friends and quality relationships we maintain and sustain; our heart eventually hardens in to a cynical loveless stone.
Christ constantly teaches us that he approaches us with loving forgiveness for their sins, so then shouldnít we be willing to forgive others.
If youíre looking to LOSE Christ in your life, then keep your scorecards full. It wonít take long. Instead, try accepting people for what and who they are. Donít build relationships based on a ďyou scratch my back and Iíll scratch yoursĒ foundation. Donít complete in relationships. Donít be afraid to be vulnerable. Donít get angry with those who donít measure up.
As you reach out, in love to others remember this: We are on this planet to allow us the time needed to perfect our faith in GOD so that we might find eternal life in heaven. In order to perfect our faith we must practice it. By keeping score on others, we are practicing ANTI-faith.
LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
BEFORE YOU LISTEN TO OTHERS
Listening to your heart before you listen to others will keep you from betraying your own values and principles. Remember, GOD speaks to us through our heart (our spirit). When we are making a difficult decision we should first pray to the Lord that he will provide us with the guidance we need to do the right thing. Once we are satisfied that we know what to do, what others might think shouldnít really matter. Sometimes, God will use others to help us. Our answer may very well be found in the advice of someone else. When we do seek the advice of others, always we should always test their guidance with our heart (ie. Check it out with GOD). I know this may seem very strange, but itís all a matter of faith and trust in Christ.
No matter how many ways I say it, it all comes down to our willingness to take action based on our FAITH and TRUST in CHRIST.

BE COMPASSIONATE FOR THE SITUATIONS OF OTHERS
Compassion, if Christ was anything he was compassionate. His overwhelming love for us flows from him at every turn. Isnít it amazing how lacking in compassion we are? We are so afraid to show tenderness and love to others. Most people see such traits as signs of weakness. I say, it is the coward who hides behind a hardened heart, and it is the courageous who open up and take chances.
It seems that we have trouble letting our compassion and love show while Christ had trouble keeping it in. Put your strength to work. Donít be a captive of fear. Repressing our love and compassion also shuts others out from extending their love and compassion to us.
Expect in extreme situations, GOD only works on the willing heart. We all must learn to let go, to open up, to take chances to put our power as Christians to work.
Allow yourself to feel, to empathize, to understand, to love. Be compassionate towards others.

BE TOLERANT OF OTHERS
Tolerance is like compassion, we can all use more. When others do things that injure our egos, or anger us, we should do our best to be tolerant of the situation.
However, our tolerance should not be all pervasive. Even Christ found it intolerable in the Temple when he threw out the moneychangers. Certainly, there are times when intolerance is appropriate. We should never tolerate Satan our the games he plays, But itís only through Christ that we are able to recognize Satanís handiwork.
More times than not our intolerance is unwarranted. Intolerance grows on you. The more often we are intolerant towards others, the easier it becomes, until the very presence of the person within our midst is met with rudeness and cruelty. Tolerance is a difficult thing to explain, because it has degrees and requires judgment and discernment, two traits that many of us are sadly lacking.
All I can say here is try to do your best. Watch yourself. Donít be quick to explode or dump on others. Practice tolerance.
TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WOULD HAVE GOD TREAT YOU
We all know the golden rule: ďDo unto others as you would have them do unto to you.Ē Well, I think that it should read, ďTreat others as your would have GOD treat you.Ē After all, GOD holds all the cards. His judgment is final. Just think about how you want GOD to treat you today, tomorrow and on the Day of Judgment. Think about the fact that he sees what we do even when others donít. We canít hide from him. We canít deceive him. He knows us from the inside out. So as we go about our appointed rounds we need to ask ourselves, ďWould GOD approve of what I am doing right now? Will I be proud to stand before him and acknowledge how I have treated others throughout my life?Ē
Certainly none of us will stand before GOD with a perfect record. Nor does he make that a requirement of salvation. But thatís where GOD has it over us. He may not be pleased with our actions, he is just compassionate, tolerant and forgiving, to a point. Again, the more we shrug off our sins against one another the more we pursue them until we just stop caring what GOD thinks. Thatís when Satanís got us and we are lost.
Why risk it? We are the only losers in the deal.
Keep Your Focus on Christ And Trust in HimTrusting in someone we canít see or touch isnít easy. Putting our faith, your life in the intangible is even harder. But that is what faith is all about. When we search our soul, we know there is someone beyond manís comprehension in control of the universe. That someone is Jesus Christ. As Christians we are children of GOD. As his children we are to obey His will. His wills is that each of us believe and trust in Christ. Itís just that simple.
Yet, knowing this, shouldnít we try to do more? Is our own salvation all we are after? Are we satisfied with just getting by as Christians? My hope is that your answers are yes, and no to these questions. Knowing Christ loves us, knowing he protects us, provides for us and blesses us; knowing all this, shouldnít we make every effort do the same for others. We should all be like junior Christ, loving, protecting and blessing others. We should be extensions of him. As Christians, We are all part of the body of Christ. A body works best when it is in shape. Each of us has the responsibility to Christ, to stay in spiritual shape by practicing our faith.
Keeping our focus on Christ, all the time, is the best exercise we can do. We must focus on him when we pray. We need to focus on him 24 hours a day. We must make him the yardstick of our life.

BE FORGIVING OF OTHERS
Forgiveness, this is what Christ died for. Yet, we continue to ask it for ourselves while refusing to forgive others. The world is saturated with unforgiving people, whose scorecards are full and who are deficit spending on their souls.
We Must Be Forgiving!!!
Itís not an option. Christ made it very clear to His apostles. What you forgive others on earth will be forgiven you in heaven, and what you do not forgive here on earth will not be forgiven you in heaven. How much plainer can that be?
We canít afford to subscribe to the ďDonít get mad, get evenĒ or even the ďforgive but donít forgetĒ School of thought. We must be ready, willing and able to forgive those who trespass against us, put it behind us and go on. I realized that this is a very difficult thing to do. I understand how being hurt can create such resentment that we just canít see our way clear to forgive. Forgiveness often takes time. It requires us to pray for the strength to be forgiving. If it were easy, it wouldnít be a problem for us. Forgiving is just something we must practice and learn to do. Itís a matter of focus and faith on Christ. Itís a matter of keeping the big picture in front of us. I doubt that any of us will be perfect at it, but that doesnít mean we shouldnít be trying.
SEEK THE TRUTH IN ALL SITUATIONS
Of all the quotes from the Bible that is misused,
ďSeek the Truth and the Truth will set you freeĒ
must be one of the most.
The ďTruthĒ being referenced here is GOD. Yet the passage is constantly used in context of seeking any truth. ďSet you freeĒ means to set you free from damnation and to open the doors to eternal life.
When I say, ďSeek the Truth in all situationsĒ, I mean, seek GOD in all situations. Look for Christ. Is he there? Grab on to him. Our entire journey through this life terminates at Heavens doorstep. The purpose of the journey is to seek Christ, allow him to enter our lives, and to be an extension of his body. Our responsibility is to follow the path GOD has designed for us, each path being different yet ending at the same place. Ironically, the most difficult part of the journey is finding the path. We find the path through Christ, nowhere else. We stay on the path by allowing Christ to send the Holy Spirit in to our lives to serve as our guide.
We must prepare a place within our hearts for the Holy Spirit to dwell. Therefore, we must clear out Satanís clutter, clean up our act and put out the welcome mat. The first step in the preparation process is to seek Truth (Christ).
To understand this section fully I urge you to take the time to read the book of John. I believe that within this book of the Bible lies the key to understanding Christís expectations of us. Read it slowly and with deliberateness. Take notes. Paraphrase each message. The most important Bible study you may ever do could be here.
DONíT BE DRIVEN BY CIRCUMSTANCES
Every one of us reacts to our circumstances. Many of us are driven by our circumstances. Whatís the difference, plenty.
Being driven by circumstance means that we are not in control of our lives. When our situations seize control of our lives, we leave the door wide open for Satan to manipulate us. We tend to lose sight of our purpose. We tend to float with the tide, rationalizing that we canít do anything to change things, or that we are just enjoying the process of the trip.
I beg you not to allow this to happen to you. GODís purpose for us does not include giving control of our life to the world (Satan). I wish I could make every person in the world understand that if GOD isnít in control of our life, then Satan is. There is no middle ground. As soon as we start to intellectualize our predicaments, start to blame the system, or others for our situation, we are taking giant leaps away from faith.
One of Satanís strongest weapons is to throw circumstances at us that beg us to falter in our faith. Through stressful situations, injustice, persecution, bad breaks and heartbreaks, Satan tries to misdirect us from our focus on Christ. All of sudden we find ourselves asking GOD how He could allow this to happen and Satan, standing in the shadows, smiles knowing another victory is his.
Iím not suggesting that our faltering is a sentence of condemnation. But as we allow ourselves to become more and more driven by our circumstances we start shutting GOD out. Little by little, over time, Satan succeeds in hardening our hearts until one day we just donít have any room for GOD in our lives. Satanís subtle persistence wears down and we donít even notice the transition.
I expect that many of you that read this will take strong exception to this because of its implications; given your current circumstance. All I can suggest is that when we feel our back against the wall, our world caving in, recognize whatís happening and increase our devotions to Christ; increase our prayer time. We should not try to muscle our way through, or fall in to the trap of self-reliance. So reach out, talk it out, and pray it out. You will prevail and your circumstances will change and change for the better.
DONíT HOLD OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE THATíS GODíS JOB
Holding others accountable ties back to keeping score, being tolerant, and forgiving. When we are using our energy to monitor what others are doing with their lives, we actually trying to do Godís job.
Each of us has our hands full just trying to monitor our own lives, let alone the lives of others. We are not to judge, lest we become judged.
Becoming judgmental grows on us. Itís hard to draw the lines as to where to stop. The only way to avoid the problem is not to buy in to the process; and eliminate the practice from our life.
The disadvantage we humans have is that Satanís games are addictive to basic human nature. Itís not inherent to our nature to follow Christ. The world is Satanís domain, and as Christians, we do not belong to the world but to Christ. GOD has given us to him. Without Christís constant protection and intercession in our lives, we would be incapable of surviving in the environment we live in. These concepts are difficult at beast to read, let alone accept. Yet, there is nothing new to what I am saying. Christ has said it all before. Donít take my word for it. Study the Bible. As you do, donít intellectualize it, or rationalize it, but study to understand the true message. That message is; Christ is the son of GOD. He is one with GOD just as we are to be one with Him. Every verse, every passage, every example must support this message. Any other interpretation is just incorrect.
ACCEPT OTHERS AS THEY ARE - DISCERN THEIR NATURE Ė TRUST ACCORDINGLY
Trust is funny thing. We all want it but we rarely give it. We want people to trust and not doubt our intentions, yet we want others continuously to prove their actions and recommendations with facts and figures. For most Trust is a one-way street. Some people are worthy of our trust while others are not. So what makes a person trustworthy? Is it repeated demonstrations of reliability? Is it promises kept? Is it the lack of betrayal?
I believe trustworthiness resides in the heart of a person, in their inherent nature. I also believe that a personís trustworthiness means little if we are unable of trusting. Our ability to trust others is often rooted in our faith. When our faith is Christ centered we become more able to discern the nature of a personís heart. We improve our ability to accept them as they are and allow their nature to drive our trust in them.
Non-faith based trust is so often based on the desire to believe and not on discernment of the nature of a personís heart. Such trust so often leads to disillusionment and heartache as those we have placed ďblind faithĒ in fall short and let us down.
When we learn to accept people for whom they are, their actions are understandable. We keep our expectations in line with reality. Learning to accept people as they are means we have to put forth the effort to understand what makes them tick, their cause and effect.
Once we have done this, we can quickly understand the intentions behind their actions and words. We donít get hung up in semantics or game playing. We simplify our relationship because we keep our cards to the table.
So trust is a function of our own nature. Trusting appropriately is a function of placing our trust in trustworthy people. Finding trustworthy people takes discernment of their nature.
NEVER EXPRESS NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ABOUT OTHERS
Putting people down seems to be one or our favorite pastimes. We seem to have boundless ability so say negative things about other people. I am not talking about facts about people, which can be positive or negative. I am talking about the gossip and editorializing, criticizing of others.
Negativity stems from our own insecurity. When we are insecure with ourselves, we are often insecure in our relationship with GOD.
Speaking negatively about others occurs when we say something about someone else that is derogatory to their character or shows a total lack of compassion for their situation.
Even speaking the truth about someone else with an intentional negative spin is wrong.
Just as we should be intolerant with Satan, we should speak out against Satanís influence in someoneís life. This should be done in private with that person.
I question the intent of those who go out of their way to expose anotherís shortcomings or faults. How does this help anyone? How does it serve GODís purpose? When Christ spoke against the Pharisees, he did so to their faces. He wasnít trying to belittle them, but rather to expose them for what they were: children of Satan. Certainly his word were not supporting or constructive. He cut right to the heart of the issue. So it must be with us. We should not talk about others behind their backs, gossiping and spreading harmful rumors. If we believe we must speak out, then have the courage to confront the person directly. Hiding in the shadows, working through deceit and deception, working the system is how Santa works. Christ expects us to be more open and honest. Thatís how he is with us and thatís how we should be with others.

BE KIND Ė NEVER MEAN
Kindness should be extended to everyone. There is never an excuse for being unkind. Being mean to others violates the very premise of love. Donít confuse being strong or forceful with meanness. When we discipline our children, we arenít necessarily mean to them. Good parents will discipline their children out of love and for their childrenís long term good.
Being mean is being uncaring. We are meant to others when we act with indifference to them as people. Meanness does not require us to be yelling, or physically abusive. The worst types of meanness come from being cold and distant to those who love and care for us, shutting them out.
Practicing this kind of meanness is practicing non-love. When we are mean from the heart or towards someoneís heart, we are allowing darkness to grow within us. Left unchecked, that darkness will eventually consume us and we become the ultimate loser.
Being unloving to others is being unloving to Christ. Such actions are equivalent to putting a sign on our heart that reads:
Christ Not Wanted Here
The holly Spirit needs a caring, loving and discerning heart in which to dwell. Meanness, self-centeredness and lack of tolerance, are the stuff of darkness. If we fill our life and heart with these things the Holy Spirit will haven no choice but to take up quarters somewhere else and be assured Satan will quickly take up residence in the resulting void.
Be a representative of Christ in this world. Be kind to others. Always approach others with love.
Donít Patronize People Be Lovingly HonestIf you are like me, you hate it when people patronize you. You know, those times when people give a pat on the back for a job well done and donít meant it. Those times when you feel they are treating you like a child, patting you on the head and saying ďrun alongĒ.
I canít find any reason to patronize someone. Patronizing is lying; itís being mean. Patronizing another is disrespectful. It tells the world that we donít take a person seriously. Being patronizing is arrogant.
Better to stay silent and keep our thoughts to ourselves, than to patronize someone.
We must constantly strive to maintain an honesty that is not brutal but rather loving in its nature.
Being lovingly honest requires us first to be honest with ourselves; to be aware of the intentions behind our words and actions. This is often as difficult as learning to be loving and forgiving of ourselves.
Please, please, choose a loving nature in all your dealings with others.
NEVER TRY TO GET EVEN
Have you ever wanted to ďget evenĒ with someone? Has anyone ever ďdone you dirtĒ? Getting even is the inverse of the golden rule: ďHurt others as they have hurt you.Ē Try to image the utter disappointment Christ must feel each time he sees one of us trying to get even with someone else. I never fail to be saddened when someone voices the ďdonít get mad, get evenĒ philosophy. The person trying to get even is a shining example of how not to come to Christ.
Those of you with children can easily understand how our father in heaven must feel each time one of us (His children) practice such unworthy deeds. Arenít you saddened when you see spite and hate in your children towards others? Doesnít it hurt you inside when your child takes an overt action to hurt someone else just to get even? I am confident that it does.
The Christian cannot afford to get even with anyone. Instead, as people do things that hurt us, we must pray for them. We must try to understand them. Personally, I find myself feeling sorry for those who are into inflicting equal of greater amounts of hurt on others based on the hurt they received. What a sad and loveless way to live. Hate, pride, and greed- surely these are the-chains-that-bind our hearts and keep us from knowing Christ.
Try to remember the version of the Golden Rule presented earlier tin this book:
Do unto others as you would have GOD do unto you.
I donít know about you, but I certainly would not want GOD trying to get even with me. Yet, if anyone has the right he does.
IF YOUíRE WRONG ADMIT IT
DONíT HIDE YOUR MISTAKES
PUT THEM BEHIND YOU AND GET ON WITH IT
Our foolish pride is often our greatest enemy. Itís our egos that trick us in to rationalizing our actions in a way that always makes us right.
I guess people just hate to admit when theyíre wrong. We all would like to think that we have some level of infallibility. But letís face it. Most of us would rather hide our mistakes than admit them.
Our inability to admit when your are wrong dilutes our credibility when we are right. It weakens us as a person. Here is what often happens:
First, we make a mistake and you know it.
Second, we defend the error to others in an attempt to get their approval actions.
Third, we work ourselves in to a corner, to a point where we defend our actions even though we know we are wrong; why because our ego is now at stake.
Fourth, we start to resent those who oppose us and try to find fault with them and their viewpoint (we try to get even).
The above scenario goes on-and-on. The more we allow our life to be ruled by your egos and intellect, the further away from Christ we become and we play right in to Satanís hands. And all the while, we are convincing ourselves that we are in control, that we have direction in our life, that we are happy. We canít find happiness if we are living lies. Our fear of being open and honest betrays us to others and ourselves.
Be courageous! Donít be afraid to admit when you are wrong. It will strengthen you. And after you have identified and owned up to your mistakes, put them behind you. Donít punish yourself for them and donít allow others to punish you either. Once you have set things right with GOD, it doesnít matter what others think.
DONíT HOLD GRUDGES.
GOD KNOWS WHAT IS GOING ON.
HE CAN HANDLE THINGS.
Holding grudges is ďgetting evenísĒ little bother. Holding a grudge means to harbor ill will towards others. Instead of stepping forward and purring our feelings on the table when someone does something that hurts us or makes us angry, we tend to keep it in; we suppress our emotions. This suppression impacts our body, our mind and our spirit. We begin to build resentment; we begin to hold a grudge.
Typically, the grudge releases itself when we have gotten even, or s o it seems. All these things that I am presenting to you are interrelated. Each negative practice stems from a single source; Satan. They compliment each other. They feed on each other. Each is designed to enlist the others until our spirit is so cluttered and confused that we become lost to the Holy Spirit. If I could grab readers by the collar and force them to understand, I would; but that isnít the way things work. We have to make the choice. We have to make the first move.
Next time you feel yourself holding a grudge toward someone, tell them how you feel. Explain to hem what your perceptions are and talk it out. Release it from your spirit and get on with living.
NEVER CONFUSE YOUR PRIDE

Pride is an interesting characteristic of people. Having pride in our work or in our actions is a positive. It means we are proud and satisfied. However, there is another kind of pride, a pride that makes us incapable of coping with situations.
All of us have seen this pride at work. It occurs when someoneís ego has been damaged in a way that prevents them from keeping an open mind. Their ability to make decisions that are fair and just, disappear. In its place is the overwhelming need to prove that they are right. They turn inward and shut out the rest of the world.
This kind of behavior usually passes in a while.
Pride stems from the ego. Pride can often be confused with our principals. Our principals should stem from our heart. They are the guidelines from within that motivate us to do what is right. When these two get confused, we become prideful. We become destructive to ourselves as well as to others.
When our pride controls us, we arenít doing GODís work.
But how do we know when pride is in control? Along with pridefulness comes resentment and thoughts of distrust, envy, and self-pity. When our principals are at stake, there are rarely any of these feelings. We know what action needs to take place and we take it. Instead of feeling resentment for someone, we feel sorry for them. Instead of self-pity, we feel directed to correct the situation.
Check yourself and monitor your feelings. When pridefulness sets in, first pray about the situation (seek some guidance from Christ), and then go to the those who are involved and explain to them your feelings. Once again, this takes courage, but in doing this you will release the burden within you.



APPROACH EACH DAY AS AN OPPORTUNITY
Doing good and helping others, what a wonderful way to go through life! Once we have our focus on Christ, this should be our primary mission; deep inside, that we help others. The joy and gratification is immense. We donít need recognition for our deeds. Our reward comes from within.
So why donít we do good an help others more often? Doing good and helping others means we must be willing to sacrifice a little bit of ourselves. It means we need to be willing to take the time and the effort to do something that daily urgencies and pressures presumably wonít allow.
If ďI Donít Have TimeĒ, is our reasoning then we need to rethink our priorities. Christ said it very clearly when he said there is never a wrong time to do GOOD (Godís work).
How can we, in good conscience, ask GOD to constantly help us if we wonít, in turn, help others?
A day should not pass that we do not reach out to someone in need and offer a helping hand. The need doesnít have to be great, nor the deed. Whatís important here is that we are looking to help and are ready to help. God will provide the opportunities; we only have to be receptive to them and act.
Doing good and helping others brings with it and abundance of blessings from GOD and a boat load of obstacles from Satan. For this reason, we want all our good works to be on no-strings-attached basis and in the name of Christ. Believe me, doing good to other without GODís protection (not doing them in Christís name), is a dangerous proposition. We are no match for Satan. He hates ďdo goodersĒ. He will do his best to make our good works turn in to self-serving acts that will backfire on us time and time again.
Reach out! Each an every day thank GOD for allowing you the opportunity to be of services to someone else. Donít help others because you desire gratitude and recognition. Help others because it is what GOD wants you to do. Youíll be happier for it.


NEVER LIE OR MANIPULATE TO ADVANCE YOUR OWN PURPOSE
Lying to others and manipulating circumstances is bad news. There just in no place for such activity the Christian life. When we engage in such practices, we are inviting Satan to dinner. When we lie and manipulate, we are actively choosing to step outside of GODís protective custody. The Holy Spirit isnít capable of shielding us from Satan.
I canít begin to count the frequency with which I encounter people lying and manipulating others. What is amazing to me is that they are usually very aware of what they are doing and believe they are justified in doing so. They have conveniently rationalized and intellectualized their position. Not only are they lying and deceiving other, they are lying and deceiving themselves.
I am not talking about evil people here. I talking about well meaning individuals that believe their actions are justified by the ends they are seeking. Nothing and I mean NOTHING, can be further from the truth.
I Challenge you to show me one instance where Christ used lies to achieve his purpose. I challenge you to show me one place where Christ endorses such practices in others. Where is manipulation used? Where does Christ use the ďback doorĒ approach to getting things done? That just isnít the way GOD works.
Why do we do it? Try fear, cowardice, insecurity, lack of faith. The list goes on. Our own cleverness is our own prison. When we try to control our situations and circumstances, we are in fact saying:
GOD, I can handle this one. I donít need your help. Your approach of being honest, loving and truthful wonít work this time. Stand aside.
Guess what, He will. You know what else, Satan will step right in and take over.
By now the message should be clear, you are either with GOD or with Satan.


ALWAYS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF
Taking responsibility for ourselves is an awesome and scary proposition. When we take responsibility for ourselves, we give up the right to make excuses.
Allowing others, especially those who are close to us, to take responsibility for themselves can be equally difficult. It means letting go. It means losing ďcontrolĒ over them.
For me, taking responsibility for myself means to turn the management of my life over to Christ. In doing so, I am released from Satanís grip. By giving up control, I am gaining it. Sounds strange doesnít it? At the same time I am being released, I am releasing others that I am trying to hold. I have found this to be the hardest part of all, letting go and trusting Christ to take care of them.
I donít rally understand why Itís easier for me to trust Christ with my life than it is for me to trust him with the lives of those near to me, but it is. If had to guess, I would say that it comes down to a matter of timetables, mine being shorter than Christís. But trust I must, and so I let go. I turn the control over to Christ, knowing that my loved ones are in the best of hands. But just to be safe, I constantly remind Christ, through prayers, that I have done so and ask Him to provide for them, protect them and love them. I know I am doing the RIGHT thing.

BE CAUTION ABOUT MAKING COMMITMENTS TO OTHERS.
Commitments are promises. Our ability to make good on your commitments speaks very loudly about our integrity. When I make a commitment to someone, I am making a commitment to myself to deliver. In doing so, I am committing to Christ that I will follow through. Since I have committed my life to Christ, it only stands to reason that promises I make to others are also promises to Him.
For that reason, I am very cautious about making commitments. The last thing I want to do is to break a promise to GOD.
Promises left unfulfilled, are lies. In the wink of an eye, something good can become something ugly. We expect Christ to follow through on the promises he made to us, donít we? Then likewise, we should make good on our promises to others.
When the occasion comes when we do falter, we shouldnít compound the problem by making excuses. Instead we should for forgiveness, and be a little bit more cautions and little more diligent the next time.

PRAYING IS THE MOST YOU CAN DO
Of things I hate, I hate it when someone says, ďI guess all we can do now is prayĒ What a statement. Hear me on this! Praying is the most we will ever be able to do to make a difference. When we think otherwise, we are saying that WE are in control and not Christ.
As Christians we MUST get this straight. Christ is not our servant! He is not standing in the wings waiting for us to ring for him when it suits our purpose. Itís just the opposite. We belong to Christ and not vice versa. The very first thing we should do is PRAY. Christ is the Good Shepherd. He is always there to help us, not because it is our right, but because he has seen fit to do so.
Everything we have comes from Christ. I mean Everything! Our homes, our families, our health, our salvation are all gifts. It is with unmerited favor, that we survive in this world.
As soon as we think we are in control, we are our of control. So if we are holding prayer in reserve, holding it as a last resort, we shouldnít. We should start with prayer and go from there. Short of Godís help there is nothing we can do that is of any lasting value. Without GOD, we are nothing; we are insignificant parasites wandering aimlessly through life. But with GOD in our camp, we are glorious and victorious. There is no obstacle that can overpower us because to do so would be to overpower GOD.
HAVE THE COURAGE TO MAKE THE EXTRA EFFORT.
So many people sit on lifeís sidelines and settle for just getting by. Christ came to us so that we might live life more abundantly. I canít recall an instance where he advised us to do little as we can in order to get through the day.
Just getting by does not fulfill GODís purpose for us. We must be ready, willing and able to always put forth the extra effort required to make a difference. Sure Itís easy to stand by and let someone else carry the load, but who are we serving by going that? Certainly not GOD.
We should consider it a blessing from GOD when he gives us the courage to do more than is expected. Going beyond the average, excelling and making the most of our abilities makes us winners; just getting by makes us losers. So what will it to be? Be winner in life. Have the courage to make the extra effort. Make that effort in making relationships work, in helping others, in everything you do. Donít settle for less. Do your very best in Christís name. Expect that you will excel. Donít ever be embarrassed or apologize for it. Do your best and be your best.

BE HELPFUL
What more can I say? Be helpful, donít be a hindrance to others. Once again, it comes down to doing that which will be most favorably looked upon by Christ.
When we are helping others, and doing it to glorify Christ, itís as if we are helping Christ.
Being helpful is good, but being helpful in order to glorify Christ is wonderful. We should always be alert and sensitive to being helpful to others. Donít wait to be asked. Take the initiative. Make an offer. People may not believe it, but donít let that stop you.
After all, how often do people offer to help you just because you look like you could use some? Better yet, how often have you wished someone would lend a hand, an ear or a heart to you? How often have you needed help but were afraid to ask? Take the first step. Make the effort. Take the time. Donít be like everyone else, Be helpful.

PRAY, EVERYDAY, THAT CHRIST WILL FILL YOU WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Praying to be vessel of Christís work is my foremost prayer. For me, living out GODís plan for me is the ultimate achievement.
Just the thought of being so blessed that the Holy Spirit shines strong enough from within me so that it can be experienced by others, would fulfill my every wish on earth.
This doesnít mean I want to be Pastor, Preacher, Priest or Evangelist. It simply means that I want to be the best that God can make me. I want this not for myself but so that I can glorify Christ and in doing so, GOD. If I fulfill this by being a teacher then so be it. If Godís plan is for me to be a garbage collector then that is okay too. What GODís plan is for me isnít what is important. What is important is that I live by that plan and give thanks and praise to GOD for allowing me to do so.
GOD gives us to Christ. Just as Christ is GODís glory, we are Christís glory. For that reason, GOD protects us and provides for us. He does this because Christ asks Him to. He doesnít do it for our sakes, but for Christís.
By our faith, we become one of those GOD has given to Christ. We must therefore dedicate ourselves to that faith lest we fall away from Christ and thus away from GODís blessings, mercy and grace.
I cannot think of a better way to achieve such dedication than to become an extension of Christ on earth, a vessel for him to work through.

ALLOW CHRIST TO MANAGE YOUR LIFE.
DONíT RESIST
If we are to follow GODís plan for us, then we must be willing to allow Christ, through the Holly Spirit, to manage our lives. The big question here is ďhow do we know when we are in control versus Christ?Ē I wish I had an easy answer for this. I guess it all comes down to listening to our heart. It is from that point within us that we can find our direction. When we manage from our intellect, when we begin to rationalize right an wrong, we are in trouble.
God gave each of us freedom of choice. We can choose to follow His ways or Satanís. On the face of it, that seems simple enough. But in order to make the right choice, we must be open to GODís will. We must be willing to give up our lives in favor of following Christ. There is only one source for this, our FAITH. It is by our Faith that Christ sends us to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in turn becomes our guide through life. The Holy Spirit replaces our intellectual conscience with a spiritual one. The Holy Spirit reveals Truth to us. The Holy Spirit teaches us about Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, we obtain a true understanding of Christ.
This is a fundamental truth that has been lost to most of the religions of this world. There is an overall confusion about learning about Christ versus having the Holly Spirit, reveal Christís true nature to us. Man and the books that he has been inspired to write teach us about Christ. But the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us. We can read, listen and study our hearts out, but until the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we will never perfect our faith in Christ to the level that he would have us achieve.
The last paragraph is sure to get me in trouble, but that doesnít change the truth about things. GOD is in control. Through faith, I am given by GOD to Christ. I must then allow Christ, through the Holy Spirit, to manage my life.

KEEP YOUR UNINVITED OPINIONS TO YOURSELF
Of all the guidelines presented in this book, I fail this one the most often. I wish I knew what compels me to voice my opinion so often. Even when I try to hold my tongue, I canít. I hope you are more successful than I am at keeping your uninvited opinions to yourself.
Our opinions reflect our beliefs about what is. They do not shape truth, but merely are an expression of our interpretation of it. Iím not sure that everyone understands this to be true . After all, itís just my opinion.
I find it interesting when people think others have too many opinions. I think what they mean is that some people express there opinion too often. Being accused of being opinionated is being accused of having too many beliefs about what is. I guess most people are more comfortable being around people that are confused and undecided about things. My experience tends to support this thesis. Either way, we should respect the right of others not to be inundated with our opinions. We need to come to grips with the fact that not everyone cares about what we think, no matter how important we believe our opinion is.
If you are certain that your opinion reflects reality, then you should be content knowing youíre ďrightĒ. I think our insecurity about our own position on things makes us express our opinion so often. Maybe we are just seeking confirmation. I can also accept the possibility that some of us are compulsive teachers, constantly trying to help others to understand reality, whether they want to or not. Either way we should be courteous of others feelings and desires and keep uninvited opinions to ourselves.
Even when people ask us for our viewpoint, we should use discretion in our response. We can always choose not to comply with their request and therefore keep our opinion to ourselves. If we do choose to share it, we should give it with loving discernment.
We should never be malicious with our opinions. If we cannot deliver the message in a constructive manner, maybe we and everyone else is better served by our silence.

TELL YOUR FAMILY THAT YOU LOVE THEM EVERY DAY AND DONíT BE AFRAID TO EXPRESS YOUR LOVE FOR OTHERS.
Why are people so afraid to express their love for one another? You would think that it lessened a relationship not strengthen it. Even our TV programs depict people who obviously love each other but leave the words unsaid in fear of some dire consequence.
I think we tend to confuse love with sex, especially when there is love between a man and a woman. Believe it or not, heart felt love does not differentiate between sexes. When we love someone, we love whatís inside them, not their gender.
The only place where love seems acceptable today is within the family. Itís okay to love your kids and express that love openly. Itís okay to love your mother, father, sister, brother and wife. Here it seems that in these relationís gender is not an issue.
So I recommend that we start expressing our love to our family every day. WE should reinforce that we love them by telling them often. Then, as we become comfortable with the thought of expressing our love for others, we can extend those expressions to those outside our family. If youíre like me, there are people in your life that you have strong feelings for, people for whom you would sacrifice for without hesitation. Donít be afraid to express that love. Just consider them part of your family. After all they are your brothers and sister in Christ.
Learn not to be embarrassed about caring for others. We canít care too much of others. We need more love in the world. With our love comes Christ. With our love comes forgiveness. With our love comes compassion. Donít we all want to feel more loved by others? I do.
If you canít say the words, ďI Love YouĒ, then at least let your actions speak for you. Start somewhere! But start. Love brings love. The supply is unlimited. You canít use it up. Donít be afraid of it. Embrace it, and thank GOD for blessing your life with it.

LET YOUR ACTIONS AND WORDS DEMONSTRATE YOUR LOVE FOR CHRIST.
This is the last guideline I will offer you in this book. To me, it summarizes the entire message. We must internalize Christ into our hearts. He must become second nature to us. Our entire existence should be consumed by Christ. Every action we take, every word we speak should be a demonstration of our love for Christ. We should exist to please him.
I understand that to achieve this would be to live perfection. I also understand that these goals are not achievable by us in this life. But a day is coming when we will leave this life for a better one. Now is our chance to practice our faith and love. We have an opportunity to get ready for that better, everlasting life right now.
In life, we have a choice. Life can be a contest of wills between us and those who oppose us, or life can be a journey, a process by which we prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Life can be beginning, not an end.
Each of us gets to make our own choice. By choosing Christ, we choose the journey.
God has plan for each of us. Unfortunately, GODís plans are not always clear to us. Without knowing it, each of us probably places living above GODís will.
You and I cannot expect to learn of and about GOD through our traditions. We must build a road to GOD that allows Him to provide each of us with a good life now and a glorious life in heaven. This road begins and ends with FAITH. This road begins and ends with FAITH. This FAITH must be practiced and put to work every day of our lives. Acting in faith is the most convincing testimony to it.
I sincerely hope that the time you have invested in reading these few pages has yielded a prosperous return. In my life, I have found these guidelines to be tremendously useful. They keep me focused on Christ and for that reason useful. For that reason alone I wanted to share them with others; with you.
God Bless You and Keep You.

 

Introduction

Where to begin?
How do you start to write a book on Christian living?
Who am I to do so?
And why am I compelled to do it?
These questions have plagued me for some time now.
Where to begin, at the heart; the dwelling place of the holly spirit; The place GOD uses to speak to us.
To start, I am not theologian. I do not belong to any specific group of organized religion. I have no academic credentials that would qualify me to write this booklet. My only credential is that I believe in and love the lord. I believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead to sit at the right hand of the Father. I believe that our salvation is predicated on our belief in and commitment to Christ.
Commitment to Christ, what does that mean? Isn’t it enough just to believe that Christ is the son of GOD? I say no! Even Satan knows who Christ is, even if Satan’s children don’t. As Christians, we need to be committed to Christ. Our Faith in Christ must start from the deepest regions of the heart and from there radiate outward until it permeates the fiber of our daily lives. In other words, our faith must be turned into action. When you truly believe, you act upon it. You never doubt it. Each of us believes in gravity. We don’t worry about floating off the face of the earth each morning. We get up each morning with the faith and confidence that our feet will land on the ground. We act on our belief. So it must be with our faith in Christ. We must internalize our faith so that our acting in it is second nature to us.
In the following pages, I will share with you some basic principles that I continuously try to use to put my faith to work. There is no magic here - no great theological insights. Instead, there is a simple set of guidelines intended to help me in my quest to make my walk with the Lord second nature to me. My prayer is that you find this book to be of some help to you in your walk in faith.
God Bless You.

Be Positive in Your Attitude with Others
Isn’t it easy to engulf ourselves in our own self-importance?
When we do this, it always seems to follow that we surround ourselves with walls that limit our ability to do GOOD. No sooner do we start believing our own press, when the walls of Ego, DISTRUST, FEAR and DOUBT spring up around us.
Operating in this mode it is impossible to maintain a positive attitude with other people.
I have found that one of the essentials of putting my faith to work is to be supportive of others; to approach them with an open and loving heart.
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. Most of my friends see me as an outspoken, hard-hitting individual. They do not always know how to handle my directness or candor. I am not saying here to patronize, or to live in fear of hurting someone’s feelings. What I am saying is to be LOVINGLY HONEST with people. This is different from being maliciously honest. Being LOVINGLY HONEST means to be truthful don’t weasel around it. Situational avoidance of the truth quickly turns to lying and deceit. Being LOVINGLY HONEST means to use care in our delivery of sensitive information and messages. Don’t be afraid to say what you mean and to say it with conviction.
Having a positive attitude with others means to be supportive where support is warranted, to be strong and not weak, to be to others as you would have GOD be with you.
MAKE AN EXTRA EFFORT TO UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY DO
Have you ever been misunderstood? Have you ever done something that you thought was good and right, just to have someone accuse you of being deceitful of underhanded? You’re not alone. Human nature seems to be plagued with jumping to conclusions. As a rule, it seems that people just don’t want to make an effort to understand life through another person’s eyes.
As Christians, we should always try to see the truth of a person’s actions. Notice I didn’t say the GOOD! If a person acts in love, then we should be sensitive to that love. If a person acts in evil, then we should be sensitive to that as well. We should see things for what they are and not for what we would like them to be.
I am not talking about absolutes; I am talking about our ability to discern truth. To do this we must be able to see past the actions of others and look directly into their hearts. Of course, this is more easily said than done. The truth of the matter is you can do this, however, to look into someone’s heart; we must not harden our own. We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We must be willing to take some risk. We must be willing to approach others as well as ourselves with an open mind and an open heart. To approach others openly takes FAITH!; not faith in others; not faith in ourselves, but FAITH that CHRIST will be there to guide and protect us.
Next time someone does something that seems to go against your expectations of that person, take the time to make sure you really understand the WHY behind their actions. Be sure you perceive the action correctly.
• Do your homework.
• Be a good steward.
• Look to their hearts.
• See what IS.
• Try to understand.
• Don’t be judgmental.
It’s not our job to determine the righteousness of someone’s actions. It is our job to be understanding, compassionate and loving.

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART.
IT WILL GUIDE YOU TOWARD TRUTH
Probably the most difficult thing for us to do is to listen to our hearts. We seem to be able to listen to everything and everyone but listening to our hearts seems to elude us. We listen to the advice of others and often act on that advice, not because we think they are right but because we are too insecure to do otherwise. Many of us go whichever way the wind blows us. We care more about what others think, than what GOD thinks. We give in to the pressures of our friends and of our enemies.
If you only absorb one thing from this book, let it be this:
GOD SPEAKS TO US THROUGH OUR HEARTS!!!!
The Holy Spirit is our transmitter to Christ. The Holy Spirit is not just our comforter. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, our advisor, our navigator.
When I say, “Listen to your heart”, I am saying, “Listen to God”. GOD is TRUTH!
In order to have a relationship with GOD, we must tune in to his station. We can’t be clicking our way through the channels of our receiver. We must lock in to ONE channel: GOD’s channel. We don’t need to rationalize situations. We don’t need to approach life with situational right and wrong. We don’t need to intellectualize our way through things. We do need to tune in to our HEART! Your heart will reveal the road map to fulfilling GOD’s purpose for you. Listen to your heart. Act on it. Tune in to GOD’s station. All the other stations belong to Satan. They are easy and expedient to listen to and they will lead you far away from GOD. They replace love with hate, trust with suspicion, peace with anxiety, faith with doubt, respect with jealousy, confidence with fear. You choose! You decide! Listen to your heart.
ALWAYS DO WHAT IS RIGHT
Always do what is right. Sounds like motherhood and apple pie. So why is it that we continually fail at this? Well, to do what is right, we first have to know what is right.
Today, most people believe that right and wrong are relative terms. You know, “What’s right for me may be wrong for you.” This kind of thinking might apply to the color of the clothes you wear or to the medicine you take but I am speaking of fundamental right and wrong.
So how do we recognize right and wrong in a given situation, especially a difficult one?
First, we must recognize that most situations that require us to take action, right or wrong are difficult because we are torn between doing the right thing and doing the socially acceptable thing. Our thinking is cluttered with worry about the political and social ramifications of our actions, Admit it. How many times do you find yourself worrying about what your friends will think, or how your actions will be accepted by others? Now ask yourself, how many times do you find yourself worrying what GOD will think? Hmmmm …
Doing what is right takes courage, conviction, and faith. Once we have reconciled within our heart what is right, then what others think or what society thinks is irrelevant.
I have found that if I ask GOD to help me (PRAY), he does. I am amazed at how the most complex situations become reduced down to a simple YES or NO result. GOD can reduce the seemingly complex maze of grays to simple blacks and whites. But first, we have to be ready to listen and then act upon GOD’s advice.
Right and wrong; good and bad; they are absolute; they are not situational. Only our intellect and cowardice makes them so. For most people always doing what is right becomes the hardest thing they do. Doing what is right is a question of doing what GOD would have us do. Everything else is merely Satan’s way of misdirecting us.

NEVER DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU SAD OR UNHAPPY ACCEPT OUT OF LOVE
Sacrifice is the act of doing something for the overall good of others that requires us to suffer in some way. Sacrificing for the right reasons is a good thing. Christ sacrificed his like for us so that we could find eternal life for ourselves. His suffering was supreme. He sacrificed out of love and compassion. He sacrificed for the right reason. Unfortunately, many of us sacrifice our own well being out of a sense of guilt, fear, self-pity or some false sense of duty. When this happens, feelings of resentment grow within us. We can’t understand why our sacrifices aren’t appreciated. We become martyrs unto ourselves. We become negative and often destructive influence to our friends, families, and ourselves.
GOD doesn’t want us to suffer. He wants us to have an abundant life. He wants us to be happy, filled with the joy of his love.
Sacrificing your pride, your money, your time, yourself because of your love for someone else is a noble and courageous act of faith. Don’t be misled by those who would goad you in to some sacrificial act because it’s your duty, or you owe it to them or whatever. Sacrifices must come from the heart. They must not require any reciprocal acts on the part of others. Sacrifices should be a selfless act of love, no strings, and no “gotchas”.
Every day your life should be dedicated to the Lord’s purpose. For most of us, this means living a life that is full of happiness and service. So when you’re feeling sad or unhappy, stop and ask yourself why. Who is your suffering helping? What good will come of your sadness? If you can’t find a good answer, spend a moment in prayer in thanks to GOD for the blessings he has given you. Be specific, then go out and be of help to someone. Go out of your way to be a positive influence in someone’s life. Do this in an act of faith that GOD will lift your burdens as you help in lifting the burdens of others.

GIVE AND THEN GIVE SOME MORE
Giving is not an act of losing. When we give with the right intent, we don’t end up with less, we end up with more.
A while back in my life I learned a very important lesson. I learned that the only way for me to have more is to make sure others have more. The only way for us to increase in our abundance in life is to increase the overall supply.
The sad part life is this; the world is saturated with people who are constantly trying to increase their material and spiritual well-being at the expense of someone else. The more they grab from others the less they keep. Although their lives seem to be cluttered with an over abundance of material wealth, these people are notoriously unhappy, depressed, and directionless. Like an insidious cancer, they push and push to find happiness through acquisition and conquest only to end up further and further away from their goal.
GOD holds the keys to the warehouse of abundance. His ability to pour out blessings in to our lives is unlimited. We must never lose sight of the fact that all our happiness, material wealth, and overall well-being are gifts from GOD. Our faith in Christ and our continued prayers of praise and thanksgiving move GOD to bless us in every way.
We must in turn be willing to use the gifts GOD has blessed us with for his glory. I am not just speaking of giving your money to worthy causes, or contributing to your church. That kind of giving is easy. But true , from the heart, giving requires us to dig deep in to ourselves, deep in to the vault of our spirit, and give of ourselves to others.
Giving requires commitment. It requires faith that GOD will replenish us. Giving beyond reasonable expectations, in the name of Christ, and constantly doing so, no matter what our personal circumstances, and without expectation of reward, is one of the greatest acts of faith we can perform.
By now you are probably seeing one central theme to each of the topics within this book: FAITH IN CHRIST manifested in action.

DON’T KEEP SCORE ON PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS
Keeping score, I guess people just love to do it; especially self-righteous “Christians”. Christ’s whole reason for dying on the cross was to allow us to be forgiven in GOD’s eyes. So then, why is that people are always keeping score on each other? They have the “what have you done for me lately” syndrome, the “what’s in it for me” mentality. They gossip. They judge.
By keeping score on our relationships with others, we guarantee that the relationship will fail. Keeping score will eventually erode the trust and respect required to make relationships work.
Someone who keeps a scorecard on others is lacking in faith and love. It’s not our job! Keeping score always results in focusing on all the bad things people do, all the things that don’t measure up to our standards. The more score we keep, the less friends and quality relationships we maintain and sustain; our heart eventually hardens in to a cynical loveless stone.
Christ constantly teaches us that he approaches us with loving forgiveness for their sins, so then shouldn’t we be willing to forgive others.
If you’re looking to LOSE Christ in your life, then keep your scorecards full. It won’t take long. Instead, try accepting people for what and who they are. Don’t build relationships based on a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” foundation. Don’t complete in relationships. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Don’t get angry with those who don’t measure up.
As you reach out, in love to others remember this: We are on this planet to allow us the time needed to perfect our faith in GOD so that we might find eternal life in heaven. In order to perfect our faith we must practice it. By keeping score on others, we are practicing ANTI-faith.
LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
BEFORE YOU LISTEN TO OTHERS
Listening to your heart before you listen to others will keep you from betraying your own values and principles. Remember, GOD speaks to us through our heart (our spirit). When we are making a difficult decision we should first pray to the Lord that he will provide us with the guidance we need to do the right thing. Once we are satisfied that we know what to do, what others might think shouldn’t really matter. Sometimes, God will use others to help us. Our answer may very well be found in the advice of someone else. When we do seek the advice of others, always we should always test their guidance with our heart (ie. Check it out with GOD). I know this may seem very strange, but it’s all a matter of faith and trust in Christ.
No matter how many ways I say it, it all comes down to our willingness to take action based on our FAITH and TRUST in CHRIST.

BE COMPASSIONATE FOR THE SITUATIONS OF OTHERS
Compassion, if Christ was anything he was compassionate. His overwhelming love for us flows from him at every turn. Isn’t it amazing how lacking in compassion we are? We are so afraid to show tenderness and love to others. Most people see such traits as signs of weakness. I say, it is the coward who hides behind a hardened heart, and it is the courageous who open up and take chances.
It seems that we have trouble letting our compassion and love show while Christ had trouble keeping it in. Put your strength to work. Don’t be a captive of fear. Repressing our love and compassion also shuts others out from extending their love and compassion to us.
Expect in extreme situations, GOD only works on the willing heart. We all must learn to let go, to open up, to take chances to put our power as Christians to work.
Allow yourself to feel, to empathize, to understand, to love. Be compassionate towards others.

BE TOLERANT OF OTHERS
Tolerance is like compassion, we can all use more. When others do things that injure our egos, or anger us, we should do our best to be tolerant of the situation.
However, our tolerance should not be all pervasive. Even Christ found it intolerable in the Temple when he threw out the moneychangers. Certainly, there are times when intolerance is appropriate. We should never tolerate Satan our the games he plays, But it’s only through Christ that we are able to recognize Satan’s handiwork.
More times than not our intolerance is unwarranted. Intolerance grows on you. The more often we are intolerant towards others, the easier it becomes, until the very presence of the person within our midst is met with rudeness and cruelty. Tolerance is a difficult thing to explain, because it has degrees and requires judgment and discernment, two traits that many of us are sadly lacking.
All I can say here is try to do your best. Watch yourself. Don’t be quick to explode or dump on others. Practice tolerance.
TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WOULD HAVE GOD TREAT YOU
We all know the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto to you.” Well, I think that it should read, “Treat others as your would have GOD treat you.” After all, GOD holds all the cards. His judgment is final. Just think about how you want GOD to treat you today, tomorrow and on the Day of Judgment. Think about the fact that he sees what we do even when others don’t. We can’t hide from him. We can’t deceive him. He knows us from the inside out. So as we go about our appointed rounds we need to ask ourselves, “Would GOD approve of what I am doing right now? Will I be proud to stand before him and acknowledge how I have treated others throughout my life?”
Certainly none of us will stand before GOD with a perfect record. Nor does he make that a requirement of salvation. But that’s where GOD has it over us. He may not be pleased with our actions, he is just compassionate, tolerant and forgiving, to a point. Again, the more we shrug off our sins against one another the more we pursue them until we just stop caring what GOD thinks. That’s when Satan’s got us and we are lost.
Why risk it? We are the only losers in the deal.
Keep Your Focus on Christ And Trust in HimTrusting in someone we can’t see or touch isn’t easy. Putting our faith, your life in the intangible is even harder. But that is what faith is all about. When we search our soul, we know there is someone beyond man’s comprehension in control of the universe. That someone is Jesus Christ. As Christians we are children of GOD. As his children we are to obey His will. His wills is that each of us believe and trust in Christ. It’s just that simple.
Yet, knowing this, shouldn’t we try to do more? Is our own salvation all we are after? Are we satisfied with just getting by as Christians? My hope is that your answers are yes, and no to these questions. Knowing Christ loves us, knowing he protects us, provides for us and blesses us; knowing all this, shouldn’t we make every effort do the same for others. We should all be like junior Christ, loving, protecting and blessing others. We should be extensions of him. As Christians, We are all part of the body of Christ. A body works best when it is in shape. Each of us has the responsibility to Christ, to stay in spiritual shape by practicing our faith.
Keeping our focus on Christ, all the time, is the best exercise we can do. We must focus on him when we pray. We need to focus on him 24 hours a day. We must make him the yardstick of our life.

BE FORGIVING OF OTHERS
Forgiveness, this is what Christ died for. Yet, we continue to ask it for ourselves while refusing to forgive others. The world is saturated with unforgiving people, whose scorecards are full and who are deficit spending on their souls.
We Must Be Forgiving!!!
It’s not an option. Christ made it very clear to His apostles. What you forgive others on earth will be forgiven you in heaven, and what you do not forgive here on earth will not be forgiven you in heaven. How much plainer can that be?
We can’t afford to subscribe to the “Don’t get mad, get even” or even the “forgive but don’t forget” School of thought. We must be ready, willing and able to forgive those who trespass against us, put it behind us and go on. I realized that this is a very difficult thing to do. I understand how being hurt can create such resentment that we just can’t see our way clear to forgive. Forgiveness often takes time. It requires us to pray for the strength to be forgiving. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a problem for us. Forgiving is just something we must practice and learn to do. It’s a matter of focus and faith on Christ. It’s a matter of keeping the big picture in front of us. I doubt that any of us will be perfect at it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying.
SEEK THE TRUTH IN ALL SITUATIONS
Of all the quotes from the Bible that is misused,
“Seek the Truth and the Truth will set you free”
must be one of the most.
The “Truth” being referenced here is GOD. Yet the passage is constantly used in context of seeking any truth. “Set you free” means to set you free from damnation and to open the doors to eternal life.
When I say, “Seek the Truth in all situations”, I mean, seek GOD in all situations. Look for Christ. Is he there? Grab on to him. Our entire journey through this life terminates at Heavens doorstep. The purpose of the journey is to seek Christ, allow him to enter our lives, and to be an extension of his body. Our responsibility is to follow the path GOD has designed for us, each path being different yet ending at the same place. Ironically, the most difficult part of the journey is finding the path. We find the path through Christ, nowhere else. We stay on the path by allowing Christ to send the Holy Spirit in to our lives to serve as our guide.
We must prepare a place within our hearts for the Holy Spirit to dwell. Therefore, we must clear out Satan’s clutter, clean up our act and put out the welcome mat. The first step in the preparation process is to seek Truth (Christ).
To understand this section fully I urge you to take the time to read the book of John. I believe that within this book of the Bible lies the key to understanding Christ’s expectations of us. Read it slowly and with deliberateness. Take notes. Paraphrase each message. The most important Bible study you may ever do could be here.
DON’T BE DRIVEN BY CIRCUMSTANCES
Every one of us reacts to our circumstances. Many of us are driven by our circumstances. What’s the difference, plenty.
Being driven by circumstance means that we are not in control of our lives. When our situations seize control of our lives, we leave the door wide open for Satan to manipulate us. We tend to lose sight of our purpose. We tend to float with the tide, rationalizing that we can’t do anything to change things, or that we are just enjoying the process of the trip.
I beg you not to allow this to happen to you. GOD’s purpose for us does not include giving control of our life to the world (Satan). I wish I could make every person in the world understand that if GOD isn’t in control of our life, then Satan is. There is no middle ground. As soon as we start to intellectualize our predicaments, start to blame the system, or others for our situation, we are taking giant leaps away from faith.
One of Satan’s strongest weapons is to throw circumstances at us that beg us to falter in our faith. Through stressful situations, injustice, persecution, bad breaks and heartbreaks, Satan tries to misdirect us from our focus on Christ. All of sudden we find ourselves asking GOD how He could allow this to happen and Satan, standing in the shadows, smiles knowing another victory is his.
I’m not suggesting that our faltering is a sentence of condemnation. But as we allow ourselves to become more and more driven by our circumstances we start shutting GOD out. Little by little, over time, Satan succeeds in hardening our hearts until one day we just don’t have any room for GOD in our lives. Satan’s subtle persistence wears down and we don’t even notice the transition.
I expect that many of you that read this will take strong exception to this because of its implications; given your current circumstance. All I can suggest is that when we feel our back against the wall, our world caving in, recognize what’s happening and increase our devotions to Christ; increase our prayer time. We should not try to muscle our way through, or fall in to the trap of self-reliance. So reach out, talk it out, and pray it out. You will prevail and your circumstances will change and change for the better.
DON’T HOLD OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE THAT’S GOD’S JOB
Holding others accountable ties back to keeping score, being tolerant, and forgiving. When we are using our energy to monitor what others are doing with their lives, we actually trying to do God’s job.
Each of us has our hands full just trying to monitor our own lives, let alone the lives of others. We are not to judge, lest we become judged.
Becoming judgmental grows on us. It’s hard to draw the lines as to where to stop. The only way to avoid the problem is not to buy in to the process; and eliminate the practice from our life.
The disadvantage we humans have is that Satan’s games are addictive to basic human nature. It’s not inherent to our nature to follow Christ. The world is Satan’s domain, and as Christians, we do not belong to the world but to Christ. GOD has given us to him. Without Christ’s constant protection and intercession in our lives, we would be incapable of surviving in the environment we live in. These concepts are difficult at beast to read, let alone accept. Yet, there is nothing new to what I am saying. Christ has said it all before. Don’t take my word for it. Study the Bible. As you do, don’t intellectualize it, or rationalize it, but study to understand the true message. That message is; Christ is the son of GOD. He is one with GOD just as we are to be one with Him. Every verse, every passage, every example must support this message. Any other interpretation is just incorrect.
ACCEPT OTHERS AS THEY ARE - DISCERN THEIR NATURE – TRUST ACCORDINGLY
Trust is funny thing. We all want it but we rarely give it. We want people to trust and not doubt our intentions, yet we want others continuously to prove their actions and recommendations with facts and figures. For most Trust is a one-way street. Some people are worthy of our trust while others are not. So what makes a person trustworthy? Is it repeated demonstrations of reliability? Is it promises kept? Is it the lack of betrayal?
I believe trustworthiness resides in the heart of a person, in their inherent nature. I also believe that a person’s trustworthiness means little if we are unable of trusting. Our ability to trust others is often rooted in our faith. When our faith is Christ centered we become more able to discern the nature of a person’s heart. We improve our ability to accept them as they are and allow their nature to drive our trust in them.
Non-faith based trust is so often based on the desire to believe and not on discernment of the nature of a person’s heart. Such trust so often leads to disillusionment and heartache as those we have placed “blind faith” in fall short and let us down.
When we learn to accept people for whom they are, their actions are understandable. We keep our expectations in line with reality. Learning to accept people as they are means we have to put forth the effort to understand what makes them tick, their cause and effect.
Once we have done this, we can quickly understand the intentions behind their actions and words. We don’t get hung up in semantics or game playing. We simplify our relationship because we keep our cards to the table.
So trust is a function of our own nature. Trusting appropriately is a function of placing our trust in trustworthy people. Finding trustworthy people takes discernment of their nature.
NEVER EXPRESS NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ABOUT OTHERS
Putting people down seems to be one or our favorite pastimes. We seem to have boundless ability so say negative things about other people. I am not talking about facts about people, which can be positive or negative. I am talking about the gossip and editorializing, criticizing of others.
Negativity stems from our own insecurity. When we are insecure with ourselves, we are often insecure in our relationship with GOD.
Speaking negatively about others occurs when we say something about someone else that is derogatory to their character or shows a total lack of compassion for their situation.
Even speaking the truth about someone else with an intentional negative spin is wrong.
Just as we should be intolerant with Satan, we should speak out against Satan’s influence in someone’s life. This should be done in private with that person.
I question the intent of those who go out of their way to expose another’s shortcomings or faults. How does this help anyone? How does it serve GOD’s purpose? When Christ spoke against the Pharisees, he did so to their faces. He wasn’t trying to belittle them, but rather to expose them for what they were: children of Satan. Certainly his word were not supporting or constructive. He cut right to the heart of the issue. So it must be with us. We should not talk about others behind their backs, gossiping and spreading harmful rumors. If we believe we must speak out, then have the courage to confront the person directly. Hiding in the shadows, working through deceit and deception, working the system is how Santa works. Christ expects us to be more open and honest. That’s how he is with us and that’s how we should be with others.

BE KIND – NEVER MEAN
Kindness should be extended to everyone. There is never an excuse for being unkind. Being mean to others violates the very premise of love. Don’t confuse being strong or forceful with meanness. When we discipline our children, we aren’t necessarily mean to them. Good parents will discipline their children out of love and for their children’s long term good.
Being mean is being uncaring. We are meant to others when we act with indifference to them as people. Meanness does not require us to be yelling, or physically abusive. The worst types of meanness come from being cold and distant to those who love and care for us, shutting them out.
Practicing this kind of meanness is practicing non-love. When we are mean from the heart or towards someone’s heart, we are allowing darkness to grow within us. Left unchecked, that darkness will eventually consume us and we become the ultimate loser.
Being unloving to others is being unloving to Christ. Such actions are equivalent to putting a sign on our heart that reads:
Christ Not Wanted Here
The holly Spirit needs a caring, loving and discerning heart in which to dwell. Meanness, self-centeredness and lack of tolerance, are the stuff of darkness. If we fill our life and heart with these things the Holy Spirit will haven no choice but to take up quarters somewhere else and be assured Satan will quickly take up residence in the resulting void.
Be a representative of Christ in this world. Be kind to others. Always approach others with love.
Don’t Patronize People Be Lovingly HonestIf you are like me, you hate it when people patronize you. You know, those times when people give a pat on the back for a job well done and don’t meant it. Those times when you feel they are treating you like a child, patting you on the head and saying “run along”.
I can’t find any reason to patronize someone. Patronizing is lying; it’s being mean. Patronizing another is disrespectful. It tells the world that we don’t take a person seriously. Being patronizing is arrogant.
Better to stay silent and keep our thoughts to ourselves, than to patronize someone.
We must constantly strive to maintain an honesty that is not brutal but rather loving in its nature.
Being lovingly honest requires us first to be honest with ourselves; to be aware of the intentions behind our words and actions. This is often as difficult as learning to be loving and forgiving of ourselves.
Please, please, choose a loving nature in all your dealings with others.
NEVER TRY TO GET EVEN
Have you ever wanted to “get even” with someone? Has anyone ever “done you dirt”? Getting even is the inverse of the golden rule: “Hurt others as they have hurt you.” Try to image the utter disappointment Christ must feel each time he sees one of us trying to get even with someone else. I never fail to be saddened when someone voices the “don’t get mad, get even” philosophy. The person trying to get even is a shining example of how not to come to Christ.
Those of you with children can easily understand how our father in heaven must feel each time one of us (His children) practice such unworthy deeds. Aren’t you saddened when you see spite and hate in your children towards others? Doesn’t it hurt you inside when your child takes an overt action to hurt someone else just to get even? I am confident that it does.
The Christian cannot afford to get even with anyone. Instead, as people do things that hurt us, we must pray for them. We must try to understand them. Personally, I find myself feeling sorry for those who are into inflicting equal of greater amounts of hurt on others based on the hurt they received. What a sad and loveless way to live. Hate, pride, and greed- surely these are the-chains-that-bind our hearts and keep us from knowing Christ.
Try to remember the version of the Golden Rule presented earlier tin this book:
Do unto others as you would have GOD do unto you.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly would not want GOD trying to get even with me. Yet, if anyone has the right he does.
IF YOU’RE WRONG ADMIT IT
DON’T HIDE YOUR MISTAKES
PUT THEM BEHIND YOU AND GET ON WITH IT
Our foolish pride is often our greatest enemy. It’s our egos that trick us in to rationalizing our actions in a way that always makes us right.
I guess people just hate to admit when they’re wrong. We all would like to think that we have some level of infallibility. But let’s face it. Most of us would rather hide our mistakes than admit them.
Our inability to admit when your are wrong dilutes our credibility when we are right. It weakens us as a person. Here is what often happens:
First, we make a mistake and you know it.
Second, we defend the error to others in an attempt to get their approval actions.
Third, we work ourselves in to a corner, to a point where we defend our actions even though we know we are wrong; why because our ego is now at stake.
Fourth, we start to resent those who oppose us and try to find fault with them and their viewpoint (we try to get even).
The above scenario goes on-and-on. The more we allow our life to be ruled by your egos and intellect, the further away from Christ we become and we play right in to Satan’s hands. And all the while, we are convincing ourselves that we are in control, that we have direction in our life, that we are happy. We can’t find happiness if we are living lies. Our fear of being open and honest betrays us to others and ourselves.
Be courageous! Don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong. It will strengthen you. And after you have identified and owned up to your mistakes, put them behind you. Don’t punish yourself for them and don’t allow others to punish you either. Once you have set things right with GOD, it doesn’t matter what others think.
DON’T HOLD GRUDGES.
GOD KNOWS WHAT IS GOING ON.
HE CAN HANDLE THINGS.
Holding grudges is “getting even’s” little bother. Holding a grudge means to harbor ill will towards others. Instead of stepping forward and purring our feelings on the table when someone does something that hurts us or makes us angry, we tend to keep it in; we suppress our emotions. This suppression impacts our body, our mind and our spirit. We begin to build resentment; we begin to hold a grudge.
Typically, the grudge releases itself when we have gotten even, or s o it seems. All these things that I am presenting to you are interrelated. Each negative practice stems from a single source; Satan. They compliment each other. They feed on each other. Each is designed to enlist the others until our spirit is so cluttered and confused that we become lost to the Holy Spirit. If I could grab readers by the collar and force them to understand, I would; but that isn’t the way things work. We have to make the choice. We have to make the first move.
Next time you feel yourself holding a grudge toward someone, tell them how you feel. Explain to hem what your perceptions are and talk it out. Release it from your spirit and get on with living.
NEVER CONFUSE YOUR PRIDE

Pride is an interesting characteristic of people. Having pride in our work or in our actions is a positive. It means we are proud and satisfied. However, there is another kind of pride, a pride that makes us incapable of coping with situations.
All of us have seen this pride at work. It occurs when someone’s ego has been damaged in a way that prevents them from keeping an open mind. Their ability to make decisions that are fair and just, disappear. In its place is the overwhelming need to prove that they are right. They turn inward and shut out the rest of the world.
This kind of behavior usually passes in a while.
Pride stems from the ego. Pride can often be confused with our principals. Our principals should stem from our heart. They are the guidelines from within that motivate us to do what is right. When these two get confused, we become prideful. We become destructive to ourselves as well as to others.
When our pride controls us, we aren’t doing GOD’s work.
But how do we know when pride is in control? Along with pridefulness comes resentment and thoughts of distrust, envy, and self-pity. When our principals are at stake, there are rarely any of these feelings. We know what action needs to take place and we take it. Instead of feeling resentment for someone, we feel sorry for them. Instead of self-pity, we feel directed to correct the situation.
Check yourself and monitor your feelings. When pridefulness sets in, first pray about the situation (seek some guidance from Christ), and then go to the those who are involved and explain to them your feelings. Once again, this takes courage, but in doing this you will release the burden within you.



APPROACH EACH DAY AS AN OPPORTUNITY
Doing good and helping others, what a wonderful way to go through life! Once we have our focus on Christ, this should be our primary mission; deep inside, that we help others. The joy and gratification is immense. We don’t need recognition for our deeds. Our reward comes from within.
So why don’t we do good an help others more often? Doing good and helping others means we must be willing to sacrifice a little bit of ourselves. It means we need to be willing to take the time and the effort to do something that daily urgencies and pressures presumably won’t allow.
If “I Don’t Have Time”, is our reasoning then we need to rethink our priorities. Christ said it very clearly when he said there is never a wrong time to do GOOD (God’s work).
How can we, in good conscience, ask GOD to constantly help us if we won’t, in turn, help others?
A day should not pass that we do not reach out to someone in need and offer a helping hand. The need doesn’t have to be great, nor the deed. What’s important here is that we are looking to help and are ready to help. God will provide the opportunities; we only have to be receptive to them and act.
Doing good and helping others brings with it and abundance of blessings from GOD and a boat load of obstacles from Satan. For this reason, we want all our good works to be on no-strings-attached basis and in the name of Christ. Believe me, doing good to other without GOD’s protection (not doing them in Christ’s name), is a dangerous proposition. We are no match for Satan. He hates “do gooders”. He will do his best to make our good works turn in to self-serving acts that will backfire on us time and time again.
Reach out! Each an every day thank GOD for allowing you the opportunity to be of services to someone else. Don’t help others because you desire gratitude and recognition. Help others because it is what GOD wants you to do. You’ll be happier for it.


NEVER LIE OR MANIPULATE TO ADVANCE YOUR OWN PURPOSE
Lying to others and manipulating circumstances is bad news. There just in no place for such activity the Christian life. When we engage in such practices, we are inviting Satan to dinner. When we lie and manipulate, we are actively choosing to step outside of GOD’s protective custody. The Holy Spirit isn’t capable of shielding us from Satan.
I can’t begin to count the frequency with which I encounter people lying and manipulating others. What is amazing to me is that they are usually very aware of what they are doing and believe they are justified in doing so. They have conveniently rationalized and intellectualized their position. Not only are they lying and deceiving other, they are lying and deceiving themselves.
I am not talking about evil people here. I talking about well meaning individuals that believe their actions are justified by the ends they are seeking. Nothing and I mean NOTHING, can be further from the truth.
I Challenge you to show me one instance where Christ used lies to achieve his purpose. I challenge you to show me one place where Christ endorses such practices in others. Where is manipulation used? Where does Christ use the “back door” approach to getting things done? That just isn’t the way GOD works.
Why do we do it? Try fear, cowardice, insecurity, lack of faith. The list goes on. Our own cleverness is our own prison. When we try to control our situations and circumstances, we are in fact saying:
GOD, I can handle this one. I don’t need your help. Your approach of being honest, loving and truthful won’t work this time. Stand aside.
Guess what, He will. You know what else, Satan will step right in and take over.
By now the message should be clear, you are either with GOD or with Satan.


ALWAYS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF
Taking responsibility for ourselves is an awesome and scary proposition. When we take responsibility for ourselves, we give up the right to make excuses.
Allowing others, especially those who are close to us, to take responsibility for themselves can be equally difficult. It means letting go. It means losing “control” over them.
For me, taking responsibility for myself means to turn the management of my life over to Christ. In doing so, I am released from Satan’s grip. By giving up control, I am gaining it. Sounds strange doesn’t it? At the same time I am being released, I am releasing others that I am trying to hold. I have found this to be the hardest part of all, letting go and trusting Christ to take care of them.
I don’t rally understand why It’s easier for me to trust Christ with my life than it is for me to trust him with the lives of those near to me, but it is. If had to guess, I would say that it comes down to a matter of timetables, mine being shorter than Christ’s. But trust I must, and so I let go. I turn the control over to Christ, knowing that my loved ones are in the best of hands. But just to be safe, I constantly remind Christ, through prayers, that I have done so and ask Him to provide for them, protect them and love them. I know I am doing the RIGHT thing.

BE CAUTION ABOUT MAKING COMMITMENTS TO OTHERS.
Commitments are promises. Our ability to make good on your commitments speaks very loudly about our integrity. When I make a commitment to someone, I am making a commitment to myself to deliver. In doing so, I am committing to Christ that I will follow through. Since I have committed my life to Christ, it only stands to reason that promises I make to others are also promises to Him.
For that reason, I am very cautious about making commitments. The last thing I want to do is to break a promise to GOD.
Promises left unfulfilled, are lies. In the wink of an eye, something good can become something ugly. We expect Christ to follow through on the promises he made to us, don’t we? Then likewise, we should make good on our promises to others.
When the occasion comes when we do falter, we shouldn’t compound the problem by making excuses. Instead we should for forgiveness, and be a little bit more cautions and little more diligent the next time.

PRAYING IS THE MOST YOU CAN DO
Of things I hate, I hate it when someone says, “I guess all we can do now is pray” What a statement. Hear me on this! Praying is the most we will ever be able to do to make a difference. When we think otherwise, we are saying that WE are in control and not Christ.
As Christians we MUST get this straight. Christ is not our servant! He is not standing in the wings waiting for us to ring for him when it suits our purpose. It’s just the opposite. We belong to Christ and not vice versa. The very first thing we should do is PRAY. Christ is the Good Shepherd. He is always there to help us, not because it is our right, but because he has seen fit to do so.
Everything we have comes from Christ. I mean Everything! Our homes, our families, our health, our salvation are all gifts. It is with unmerited favor, that we survive in this world.
As soon as we think we are in control, we are our of control. So if we are holding prayer in reserve, holding it as a last resort, we shouldn’t. We should start with prayer and go from there. Short of God’s help there is nothing we can do that is of any lasting value. Without GOD, we are nothing; we are insignificant parasites wandering aimlessly through life. But with GOD in our camp, we are glorious and victorious. There is no obstacle that can overpower us because to do so would be to overpower GOD.
HAVE THE COURAGE TO MAKE THE EXTRA EFFORT.
So many people sit on life’s sidelines and settle for just getting by. Christ came to us so that we might live life more abundantly. I can’t recall an instance where he advised us to do little as we can in order to get through the day.
Just getting by does not fulfill GOD’s purpose for us. We must be ready, willing and able to always put forth the extra effort required to make a difference. Sure It’s easy to stand by and let someone else carry the load, but who are we serving by going that? Certainly not GOD.
We should consider it a blessing from GOD when he gives us the courage to do more than is expected. Going beyond the average, excelling and making the most of our abilities makes us winners; just getting by makes us losers. So what will it to be? Be winner in life. Have the courage to make the extra effort. Make that effort in making relationships work, in helping others, in everything you do. Don’t settle for less. Do your very best in Christ’s name. Expect that you will excel. Don’t ever be embarrassed or apologize for it. Do your best and be your best.

BE HELPFUL
What more can I say? Be helpful, don’t be a hindrance to others. Once again, it comes down to doing that which will be most favorably looked upon by Christ.
When we are helping others, and doing it to glorify Christ, it’s as if we are helping Christ.
Being helpful is good, but being helpful in order to glorify Christ is wonderful. We should always be alert and sensitive to being helpful to others. Don’t wait to be asked. Take the initiative. Make an offer. People may not believe it, but don’t let that stop you.
After all, how often do people offer to help you just because you look like you could use some? Better yet, how often have you wished someone would lend a hand, an ear or a heart to you? How often have you needed help but were afraid to ask? Take the first step. Make the effort. Take the time. Don’t be like everyone else, Be helpful.

PRAY, EVERYDAY, THAT CHRIST WILL FILL YOU WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Praying to be vessel of Christ’s work is my foremost prayer. For me, living out GOD’s plan for me is the ultimate achievement.
Just the thought of being so blessed that the Holy Spirit shines strong enough from within me so that it can be experienced by others, would fulfill my every wish on earth.
This doesn’t mean I want to be Pastor, Preacher, Priest or Evangelist. It simply means that I want to be the best that God can make me. I want this not for myself but so that I can glorify Christ and in doing so, GOD. If I fulfill this by being a teacher then so be it. If God’s plan is for me to be a garbage collector then that is okay too. What GOD’s plan is for me isn’t what is important. What is important is that I live by that plan and give thanks and praise to GOD for allowing me to do so.
GOD gives us to Christ. Just as Christ is GOD’s glory, we are Christ’s glory. For that reason, GOD protects us and provides for us. He does this because Christ asks Him to. He doesn’t do it for our sakes, but for Christ’s.
By our faith, we become one of those GOD has given to Christ. We must therefore dedicate ourselves to that faith lest we fall away from Christ and thus away from GOD’s blessings, mercy and grace.
I cannot think of a better way to achieve such dedication than to become an extension of Christ on earth, a vessel for him to work through.

ALLOW CHRIST TO MANAGE YOUR LIFE.
DON’T RESIST
If we are to follow GOD’s plan for us, then we must be willing to allow Christ, through the Holly Spirit, to manage our lives. The big question here is “how do we know when we are in control versus Christ?” I wish I had an easy answer for this. I guess it all comes down to listening to our heart. It is from that point within us that we can find our direction. When we manage from our intellect, when we begin to rationalize right an wrong, we are in trouble.
God gave each of us freedom of choice. We can choose to follow His ways or Satan’s. On the face of it, that seems simple enough. But in order to make the right choice, we must be open to GOD’s will. We must be willing to give up our lives in favor of following Christ. There is only one source for this, our FAITH. It is by our Faith that Christ sends us to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in turn becomes our guide through life. The Holy Spirit replaces our intellectual conscience with a spiritual one. The Holy Spirit reveals Truth to us. The Holy Spirit teaches us about Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, we obtain a true understanding of Christ.
This is a fundamental truth that has been lost to most of the religions of this world. There is an overall confusion about learning about Christ versus having the Holly Spirit, reveal Christ’s true nature to us. Man and the books that he has been inspired to write teach us about Christ. But the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us. We can read, listen and study our hearts out, but until the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we will never perfect our faith in Christ to the level that he would have us achieve.
The last paragraph is sure to get me in trouble, but that doesn’t change the truth about things. GOD is in control. Through faith, I am given by GOD to Christ. I must then allow Christ, through the Holy Spirit, to manage my life.

KEEP YOUR UNINVITED OPINIONS TO YOURSELF
Of all the guidelines presented in this book, I fail this one the most often. I wish I knew what compels me to voice my opinion so often. Even when I try to hold my tongue, I can’t. I hope you are more successful than I am at keeping your uninvited opinions to yourself.
Our opinions reflect our beliefs about what is. They do not shape truth, but merely are an expression of our interpretation of it. I’m not sure that everyone understands this to be true . After all, it’s just my opinion.
I find it interesting when people think others have too many opinions. I think what they mean is that some people express there opinion too often. Being accused of being opinionated is being accused of having too many beliefs about what is. I guess most people are more comfortable being around people that are confused and undecided about things. My experience tends to support this thesis. Either way, we should respect the right of others not to be inundated with our opinions. We need to come to grips with the fact that not everyone cares about what we think, no matter how important we believe our opinion is.
If you are certain that your opinion reflects reality, then you should be content knowing you’re “right”. I think our insecurity about our own position on things makes us express our opinion so often. Maybe we are just seeking confirmation. I can also accept the possibility that some of us are compulsive teachers, constantly trying to help others to understand reality, whether they want to or not. Either way we should be courteous of others feelings and desires and keep uninvited opinions to ourselves.
Even when people ask us for our viewpoint, we should use discretion in our response. We can always choose not to comply with their request and therefore keep our opinion to ourselves. If we do choose to share it, we should give it with loving discernment.
We should never be malicious with our opinions. If we cannot deliver the message in a constructive manner, maybe we and everyone else is better served by our silence.

TELL YOUR FAMILY THAT YOU LOVE THEM EVERY DAY AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO EXPRESS YOUR LOVE FOR OTHERS.
Why are people so afraid to express their love for one another? You would think that it lessened a relationship not strengthen it. Even our TV programs depict people who obviously love each other but leave the words unsaid in fear of some dire consequence.
I think we tend to confuse love with sex, especially when there is love between a man and a woman. Believe it or not, heart felt love does not differentiate between sexes. When we love someone, we love what’s inside them, not their gender.
The only place where love seems acceptable today is within the family. It’s okay to love your kids and express that love openly. It’s okay to love your mother, father, sister, brother and wife. Here it seems that in these relation’s gender is not an issue.
So I recommend that we start expressing our love to our family every day. WE should reinforce that we love them by telling them often. Then, as we become comfortable with the thought of expressing our love for others, we can extend those expressions to those outside our family. If you’re like me, there are people in your life that you have strong feelings for, people for whom you would sacrifice for without hesitation. Don’t be afraid to express that love. Just consider them part of your family. After all they are your brothers and sister in Christ.
Learn not to be embarrassed about caring for others. We can’t care too much of others. We need more love in the world. With our love comes Christ. With our love comes forgiveness. With our love comes compassion. Don’t we all want to feel more loved by others? I do.
If you can’t say the words, “I Love You”, then at least let your actions speak for you. Start somewhere! But start. Love brings love. The supply is unlimited. You can’t use it up. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it, and thank GOD for blessing your life with it.

LET YOUR ACTIONS AND WORDS DEMONSTRATE YOUR LOVE FOR CHRIST.
This is the last guideline I will offer you in this book. To me, it summarizes the entire message. We must internalize Christ into our hearts. He must become second nature to us. Our entire existence should be consumed by Christ. Every action we take, every word we speak should be a demonstration of our love for Christ. We should exist to please him.
I understand that to achieve this would be to live perfection. I also understand that these goals are not achievable by us in this life. But a day is coming when we will leave this life for a better one. Now is our chance to practice our faith and love. We have an opportunity to get ready for that better, everlasting life right now.
In life, we have a choice. Life can be a contest of wills between us and those who oppose us, or life can be a journey, a process by which we prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Life can be beginning, not an end.
Each of us gets to make our own choice. By choosing Christ, we choose the journey.
God has plan for each of us. Unfortunately, GOD’s plans are not always clear to us. Without knowing it, each of us probably places living above GOD’s will.
You and I cannot expect to learn of and about GOD through our traditions. We must build a road to GOD that allows Him to provide each of us with a good life now and a glorious life in heaven. This road begins and ends with FAITH. This road begins and ends with FAITH. This FAITH must be practiced and put to work every day of our lives. Acting in faith is the most convincing testimony to it.
I sincerely hope that the time you have invested in reading these few pages has yielded a prosperous return. In my life, I have found these guidelines to be tremendously useful. They keep me focused on Christ and for that reason useful. For that reason alone I wanted to share them with others; with you.
God Bless You and Keep You.


 


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Reviewed by Julie Donner Andersen 4/12/2007
Common sensical Christian advice that we need to hear more and more often! Simple truths written well, M.R,! I enjoyed this piece tremendously! It will touch lives. God bless you!
Julie
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 9/19/2006
This most inspiring piece changed my life personally for the better....thank you!!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Valerie Boggess 3/7/2004
Michael, I enjoyed your shared thoughts. Truly it is God's Holy Spirit that moves us from within, revealing the Truth. If we listen we will hear His voice. God bless.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 11/30/2002
enjoyed the read..... please come visit my den, tell me what you think, ...... ;0), m
Reviewed by Rich Kay 9/12/2002
WOW, WOW, WOW - Very powerful and humbly communicated. Did I say WOW? It caused me to do a bunch of thinking... When is the full book coming out? : - )

Thip piece was awesome - I really enjoyed the stories and the simple but profound principles. I did alot of underlining....
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 9/3/2002
this is just excellent, my friend...great job! :) enjoyed very much...i need more faith sometimes...been letting things get to me lately, let the littlest things annoy me...pray for me, would you? thanks...(((HUGS))) and love, karla. :)
Reviewed by Kay P Devenish 9/2/2002
You can be proud of the effort you put into this excellent work Michael.I agree with the bulk of your ideas here but being me would not be able to go along with it all,one bit in particular flustered me,the bit about keeping uninvited opinions to myself,my big mouth just has to say what I think,sorry but that's me,I think you understand,(smile),anyway matey,you work above was excellent...well done indeed!Hug from kay.0




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