Pulpit Reflections

Pulpit Reflections
Are you having a bad day, week, year, or life? The Bad Day Book contains stories that will perhaps make you feel better:

"I rode my bike 110 miles to my old girlfriend's house to show her I loved her enough to win her back. When I got there, her mom said she was out of town with her new boyfriend. Her Dad drove me (and my bike) home in his van." Age 17

"On my wedding day, we put my dress in the car and drove to the church. When we got to the church, we realized the skirt of the gown was shut into the greasy hinge of the door. I walked down the aisle with a big crease of grease right down the side of the gown." Age 27

"I was driving carpool and a very carsick child started a chain reaction with the other kids, if you get my drift." Age 31

"My wife and I both got fed up and quit our jobs on the same afternoon without consulting each other first! Dinner that night was pretty interesting." Age 37

(Selected from The Bad Day Book by Robyn Freedman Spizman and Tracy Green)

Why is it that when we face these kinds of challenges one person stays positive and another gets discouraged or depressed? I believe there is an equation that will be very helpful for you to remember- C+P=E. This is not algebra. Rather the C stands for Circumstances, P stands for Perspective, and E for Experiences. Our circumstances plus our perspective determines our experiences.

We can't control what other people do but we can determine our perspective. When our perspective is dictated by our circumstances, we become inwardly focused.

We are like a roller coaster, either up or down (i.e. depressed to happy). Maybe you have heard people say "I am doing pretty well under the circumstances," You need to ask "What are you doing under there?" Why do you want to be under your circumstances? Your emotions swing from one pendulum to another.

The key is to allow perspective to control circumstances not the other way around. If we keep our perspective upward and outward � we can live above adversity. The apostle Paul wrote a powerful letter of the Bible called Philippians. He wrote it from a dark, cold, sewage laden dungeon. Ironically, this letter has become a great book on joy. Paul's focus ought to challenge us to ask where our focus is. He writes:

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" (The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (Php 1:2-7). Thomas Nelson: Nashville)

There are three key words that are keys to an upward focus:

1. Thank

2. Prayer

3. Confidence

First he thanks God every time he remembers them � he remembers the significant relationships, family, and events. Remember, however bad it may appear, circumstances can't take those things away.

Second, he prays making requests with joy. When negative things happen, often frustration and panic follow and we say "my life is out of control." Remember life is never out of control, it is just out of your control. God is still sovereign and in control- nothing ever takes Him by surprise, or catches Him off guard. What God wants to do is to bring us into right relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Then, rather than looking inward, we would look upward to Him � choosing to submit our will to His purposes and plans. Paul could pray with joy because he knew God's purposes were being fulfilled despite the adverse conditions.

Last Paul speaks of confidence. He is convinced that He who began a good work � not around you, not above you, but in you will see it to completion. What an encouragement for those who have trusted Christ as their Lord. The truth is that life is not out of control, it is just out of your control. God has a plan and intends to complete it.

So what are the big issues that weigh you down � maybe it is work, finances, kids, people?

Where is your focus? Begin to focus outward and upward rather then inward and downward. Let Christ rule in your heart and see if you can't live above your circumstances.

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