How do people want to be treated? Hmmm, how do YOU want to be treated? Now there’s a question that can be answered deeply or simplistically. For example, if you go to a restaurant and the service is substandard the server may ask, “Whaddaya’ want?” You may reply with a simple, “Burger and fries, please.” You may feel as though the server treated you, well, badly. But if a caring friend asks you, “How are you today?” well, that’s another matter altogether, isn’t it? We usually feel that a caring friend has a genuine interest and concern for us. They treat us well and we typically return the same interest and concern to them.
As I have considered this idea I can’t stop thinking about the Golden Rule from Jesus which states that we are to treat others the way we want to be treated.
“DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU!“
What a simple concept! I think that what people really want is to be treated with dignity, respect and as though matter. As the late Earl Nightingale once said (I will paraphrase his comment), “People do matter. In fact, as far as people are concerned they themselves are the most important person in the world. So, treat them as such.” So Nightingale advised us to treat every person as if he or she were indeed the most important person in the world. Doing so would likely yield countless benefits for us in virtually every aspect of our lives. Nightingale was simply encouraging us to live by the Golden Rule
So how do we show people dignity respect? Here are my thoughts. Give them the following …
Your Belief in Them
This post would be far too long if I were to comment on each item on the above list. Further, I think the list speaks for itself. But for more insight, from my perspective at least, listen to the brief (10 minutes) podcast below. Hmmm, what do people want and how do they want to be treated?
This seems to be a time of year when sickness strikes more frequently. For most of my life I have enjoyed relatively good health. As I have gotten older I have had my issues with the typical health matters that can come with aging. At the time of the writing I am 57 and I have cholesterol levels that go up and down. I refuse to take statin medications due to the side effects they tend to have. Please do not take that to mean that I think you should not take statins that your doctor prescribed if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol. This is a personal decision I have made and it is best for me. When I have higher than normal cholesterol I increase my exercise and eat much healthier and this tends to work for me.
I understand that sickness strikes each of us. Some have very serious health issues while others tend to have the occasional annoying cold or something that is only temporary. It is these temporary times that I want to address in this post. When sickness strikes a child of God I believe it actually provides us an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord and consider other people.
I trust these next lines will make the case for what we can do when sickness strikes.
When Sickness Strikes | Make a List of Your Blessings
Write Your Blessings
When we are sick and are restricted to the bed or sofa for a few days this actually provides us with an opportunity to think about how good God has been to us. Rather than focus on the burden of the sickness how about taking a notepad and writing every blessing from God that you can think of.
This can actually take quite some time because each written blessing will remind you of so many others that the Lord has brought into your life. Whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for each blessing that God brings to your memory. This practice will bring joy to your heart and your temporary sickness will pale in comparison to the many blessings God brings to your memory. You will feel better!
When Sickness Strikes | Meditate on God’s Word
I hope reading God’s Word is a regular part of your life whether you are sick or not. But being house-ridden with illness gives you a great opportunity to read and reflect upon God’s Word (the Bible). I recommend reading through an entire chapter from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) each day. As you read these chapters you will see Jesus’ in action. One of Jesus’ prominent activities was healing the sick. Jesus loves you and wants you to recover. Ask Him to heal you in His time and receive even more of His mercy.
Meditate on God’s Word
As you read jot down the things that you notice about the stories. After reading reflect on those insights and consider why the Lord caused those particular insights to stand out to you. This is likely God’s way of saying something very specific from His heart to yours. So, read to learn the heart of God and also understand His desire to show the world (and you) His gracious love and mercy.
When Sickness Strikes | Think of Someone You Can Touch
During a time of sickness you feel limited because you are restricted in how much you can get out. But in this amazing day of technological advancement we can touch and bless countless people who may need a word of encouragement. You can do this with a well-thought out text message or a post on someone’s Facebook page. Simple words like, “As I was praying today the Lord laid you on my heart. I wanted to tell you that I prayed for you and that I care deeply for you. Please call me if you need anything or if you’d like to talk and catch up. Thanks for being such a special person in my life. I love you!”
You never know how words like these can or will be used by the Lord to impact someone’s life in a very significant and meaningful way. I have received many well-timed words of encouragement sent to me when I was at a low point in my life.Just knowing that someone is thinking of me and praying for me brings a joy to my heart and spirit. Times of sickness can give us opportunities to touch many people. Go ahead, bless someone even now.
When Sickness Strikes | Pray for Understanding
So many people are down-in-the-dumps when they are ill. It’s understandable but not practical or spiritual. The Bible teaches in James 1 to consider it all joy when you face times of trial and temptation. This means that we should be looking for what God is saying to us or showing us during the times of sickness. Rather than praying only for healing you can also ask the Lord why you are at this place in your life. You may be surprised to know that He wants to show you something about Himself and what He wants to learn during this time. James goes on to say that we should pray for wisdom. Be wise as to what God may be doing during a time when sickness strikes.
Everyone is interested in success in some form or another. The non-Christian world tends to sum up success in terms of vocation or career accomplishment. There’s certainly nothing wrong with desiring vocational or career success, but a foundational question Christians should ponder is: “How does God view success?” Well, according to Dr. Charles Stanley, author of the book Success God’s Way: Achieving True Contentment and Purpose …
God sums up success in terms of relationship, character, and obedience. He desires for us to succeed first and foremost in our relationship with Him, then in our relationship with others, and then in our vocations and ministries.
Stanley goes on to define success as …
… the continuing achievement of becoming the person God wants you to become and accomplishing the goals He has helped you set.
It would make sense that a Christian, while motivated to achieve success in his or her vocational life, should first prioritize the prominent relationships of our lives. Please note that vocational success is subservient to the priority relationships we have with God and others.
Success God’s Way | Relationship with God
I remember so many years ago when I sat in a seminary class called The Holy Spirit and the Devotional Life. The professor, Dr. Chester Cadwallader, was one of the godliest men I have ever met. He stressed the importance of a growing relationship with God through daily Bible study and prayer. In fact many of the notes I took in that class are available in the free devotional guide I put together. Just fill out of the form on the sidebar and it will be sent to you via email.
Dr. Cad. (as we called him) believed that we would NEVER be successful in our attempts to grow closer to God unless we were relentless in prayer. He noted that the Evil One worked diligently to keep us from a daily prayer life. Some of his notes can be found below this post.
Dr. Stanley stressed that no meaningful success would ever occur if we did not intentionally work toward a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Are we allowing Satan to keep us from that relationship?
Success God’s Way | Relationship with Others
It goes without saying that God desires that we have significant relationships with others. In Genesis God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Jesus Himself surrounded Himself with disciples and followers. In fact, Jesus had those I call The Inner Circle of Peter, James, and John to be with Him during some of the most prominent times in His life and ministry.
Therefore, it makes sense that we prioritize building strong relationships with the people God brings into our lives … especially those of the Christian faith. Christ family and friends will stand by us, encourage us, love us, not judge us, and pray for us as we strive to live our lives for the glory of God.
Let’s focus on the people that mean so much to us. Bless them, encourage them, and even forgive them if necessary. Be Jesus to your Christian family and friends (all others too!)
Success God’s Way | Career or Vocation
After you prioritize the prominent relationships of your life then you focus on other goals, hopes, and even dreams. The best approach to career or vocational success, according to Stanley, is to:
Know that God is committed to your success
Set goals and put them in writing
Devise actionable plans to accomplish your goals
Develop the proper positive, God-honoring attitude
Be wise with your time (don’t waste time)
Be persistent and don’t quit
If you know that the career/vocational goal you have set (or any other goal for that matter) is in line with what God has helped you set then go for it using the list above.
I encourage you to read the book and delve deeper into this topic. You will be glad you did.
“How can Christians deal with depression and anxiety?”
This is an issue that has been prominent in our culture for a number of years now and each individual case is unique. Please understand that this post is not about those who are discouraged because of long-term physical pain or terminal illness. Those are different matters completely. But I have often been amazed at how people will instantly assume that there’s something wrong with them psychologically or mentally because they’ve faced a tragedy or had a season of discouragement or depression. We live in a world of “victims” who seemingly hope to see if someone in the medical or psychological profession can help them. Anti-depression medications are prescribed to hundreds of thousands of people yearly for the purpose of helping them “deal with life.” I believe, at least for the child of God, there’s a better way.
Honestly I’ve never been as sympathetic as I could be toward many of these people, especially if they call themselves a Christian. There are some exceptions to my position but in my opinion most people simply don’t tap into the loving grace and mercy of our Lord. I feel this way because I was raised with Christian values that stressed God’s love for me. An added blessing was that I also had a mom who simply would not tolerate me or my brother and sister rolling around in the mire of our own discouragement and depression. Her basic philosophy was that it’s okay to be down for a time BUT there comes a time to get up, dust yourself off, get over it and move on. And this is something that has worked for me very well.
Now obviously I realize that there are many people, even Christians, who simply can’t deal with some of the tragedies and difficulties they have faced in their lives. Perhaps they have never truly understood just how merciful our Lord is. So, this is partially where my position on leaving our burdens at the foot of the cross comes in. I believe that the Bible is clear that we are instructed to place all of our concerns on the Lord and allow him to take care of things for us.
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
We are God’s children and therefore His compassion and concern is more than our concern for our own children. Each of us, if we are a parent, would go to great lengths to do everything possible to help our children through the most difficult times of their lives. Certainly God will do the same for us. My position has always been very simple. If you have a great concern that causes you to be discouraged, feel depressed, or anxious about life; then take those concerns to the cross and pray. But when you are finished praying, do not pick those concerns up and carry them back out into the world with you. The idea is to leave them at the foot of the cross and trust that the Lord is going to handle these situations for you and give you something more prominent and meaningful to focus on.
Rather than focusing on ourselves and our concerns the Bible says that we are to consider others more highly than we consider ourselves.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2: 3b-4)
Focusing on how we can help and serve others is far more beneficial than wondering if we’re ever going to get through a season of depression. In fact, it is far more worthy of you and your time. Yes it’s true that bad things have happened to many people; maybe even you. But many things have happened to me as well. In fact, bad things happen to all people. The difference between those who are continually depressed or anxious because of the bad things and those who are able to face life in spite of those bad things is simply this: We understand that God will see us through and we will not allow what has happened to us to control our lives or define us. Life is too short and God has a meaningful purpose for us.
As a Christian I am defined by my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I have a loving Father in Heaven who has poured grace all over me. He has repeatedly demonstrated his hand of love and encouragement all through my life in spite of the many times of pain and depression I have faced. I could bore you to tears with stories of failure and depression in my own life. But I have chosen to trust God’s heart and allow Him to give me the strength to move through each situation. Anything else would be a lack of faith on my part.
So my thought is that people who are depressed and remain depressed are people who simply do not have the faith, willpower or desire to leave their concerns in the loving hands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They choose to pick them up and carry them around and tell the rest of the world about them.
Now before I close let me just add one small qualifier. There are some people in the world who legitimately have mental issues that only a professional can help. But I believe that these are in the vast minority of all cases. I believe that the overwhelming majority of people who claim to be depressed are depressed by choice simply because they will not leave things in the hands of their Heavenly Father. The legitimate few are people who possess mental or chemical illnesses within them that they can do nothing about.
If you are discouraged or depressed I will not tell you what my mom told me. But I will tell you to tell it to Jesus and then leave it with him. Then go and focus on someone else. That’s faith as I see it.
I remember watching the mini-series Jesus of Nazareth as a teenager. Of course at the time I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the Bible or biblical things. I didn’t know that Hollywood took some liberties (for dramatic affect) with some of the biblical texts they made scenes from. Whatever liberties they took, I have discovered, were somewhat minor.
I rushed home every night to watch it. Obviously this was long before VCRs, DVRs, DVDs, etc. If you wanted to watch a show in 1977 you needed to be in front of the television when it was scheduled to come on. I was sitting right in front of the set when it came to Jesus of Nazareth. I thought (and still think) that of all the “Jesus’s” in Jesus movies that Robert Powell was the best Jesus. To me, he captured the essence of the Lord. But really, how can we ever know, right? To me the movie is still the best of them all.
In the scene below Jesus is trying to reason with the Pharisees. The discussion is about their adherence to the Law (the Torah) and why they love it so much. Jesus is trying to clue them in on the fact that God loves mankind, fallen people, and sinners far more than the dusty law. He was trying to educate them on God’s grace. Since he couldn’t convince them with his logic, he demonstrated the heart of God’s Grace in the scene.
Grace means that no matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, who you’ve been with; you matter to God. He loves YOU … period.
Some Christian people try to make the New Testament the “New Old Testament.” They get bogged down on law (rules, regulations, obedience, etc.) Of course grace does not mean that one can live in any way one wants. It does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind and purposely live in a sinful way. But honestly, any person who has truly received God’s grace has no desire to live in rebellion. True believers desire to walk in faith and righteousness. They will have no need to be forced into obedience.
The Heart of God’s Grace | An Example from Matthew 11
Back in 1996 I was in a seminary class called The Work of the Pastor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The professor was Jim Shaddix. Dr. Shaddix opened the class by teaching us about how to grow in our relationship with Jesus. He noted that if we were to be effective pastors then we would need to learn from the Lord Himself. We needed to get in the yoke with Jesus and walk with Him daily. Dr. Shaddix based the lecture on Matthew 11:28-30.
If you read these verses you simply can’t help seeing the grace of God that is all over them and contained within them.
Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden ~ The weariness and weight came from trying to live up to the standards of a burdensome law
And I will give you rest ~ That’s the heart of the good news … Rest from the burdens of laws and religious standards. We are not saved through our efforts of righteousness but through God’s gift of grace once we express our faith in the Lord.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me ~ This is what Dr. Shaddix stressed for us in the lecture. Learning the love, compassion, and service of the Lord is to be our focus. Jesus loved everyone … with the heart of His Father’s grace.
For I am gentle and humble in heart ~ Does this sound like someone who is trying to force laws and standards on us?
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light ~ Jesus was sharing that living under God’s heart of grace is far easier and far less burdensome than trying to live up to religious standards.
The Heart of God’s Grace | What People Need
It is my conviction that too often God’s people feel inadequate in their faith walk. Too many ask themselves, “Why can’t I live consistently in my walk with the Lord?” They have been told by too many pastors and teacher’s that they HAVE to live in a certain way in order to prove/demonstrate their faith. But I am convinced that faithful living is NOT demonstrated when we feel we HAVE to pray, witness, tithe, attend church, read our Bible and so on. I believe that a true believer will do those things because they want to. Their thinking is that “doing” righteous things is the least they can do.
In Romans 7:13-25 Paul made it clear that he always wanted to serve the Lord faithfully; but didn’t. It is his “want” that we should focus on. Nowhere in the passage does he condemn Himself because he didn’t “do” acts of righteousness. He simply acknowledged the struggle of his desire to serve the Lord and his indwelling sin. He had a broken heart because of this struggle. He says in verse 17 that “It is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” He acknowledges that even as a wretched man God still pours grace upon him. Read Romans 8:1 slowly and carefully,
In my opinion God’s people need to remember the Heart of God’s Grace. They need to get in the yoke with Lord, learn from Him, and love all people as He did. Those that do this because they want to are in the right position. Those who try to do these things because they feel as though they have to are truly in a sad state.
Forced obedience is meaningless. Obedience out of a sense of desire is the result of God’s Heart of Grace.
PS: Have a minute? Please share this post by clicking on the social media icons below and please, leave a comment too. I would love to hear from you.
PPS: The Bible teaches that our physical body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). So many people, especially those of us in America, fail to take that truth seriously. For years I struggled with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diverticulitis. Thankfully a Christian friend introduced me to a great line of supplements that are comparable in cost to GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe. These products have changed my physical life and I praise God for them. There will be no pressure put upon you if you want information. You can’t buy them from me. If interested you will buy them direct from the manufacturer. I will simply reply with more information … email@example.com … God bless you.
“I know I am supposed to share my faith and tell others about Jesus, but I get so nervous. How can I share my faith and be faithful to the Lord without having all this fear?“
This is a sincere question and I really appreciate it because I can relate to it. You probably can as well. We constantly hear, both in the pulpit and in Sunday school or small group sessions, that we are to be faithful to the Great Commission and tell people about Jesus. And the truth is that we REALLY DO want to be obedient in the area of personal evangelism. But one of the reasons that 95% of born-again believers NEVER share their faith is because they are scared to death. They are afraid of rejection, conflict, being labeled as some ‘Jesus freak’ and so on. Many never share their faith because they feel that it is a private thing and if others are interested enough they will simply ask us about our faith.
I have pondered this in depth countless times. There are tons of training courses and classes available to “teach you” to share your faith in Jesus. People willingly take such classes but still rarely implement the strategies. Why? Same reason. FEAR!
I have discovered, however, that all fear goes away if we can talk to people in a natural way about our faith in Him. We don’t really need a canned, planned approach (even though those canned approaches can help at times).
I can naturally talk about Jesus because He is THE most important part of my life. I can easily talk about my wife or my children because I know them intimately. It is easy and natural to talk about things that are close to us. It requires no practice or skill.
So, when the opportunity presents itself to share, then simply tell people what Jesus means to you and how you came to know him. This is called your Personal Testimony. The clipboard image below provides an outline that you can easily follow. Each point speaks for itself and you can easily respond to each numbered point. You can craft your responses so that the entire presentation will only take two to three minutes.
I know you are thinking to yourself,
“but how does the opportunity present itself?”
There are many ways but two are prominent for me.
I pray and ask the Lord to give me opportunities. This is a prayer that I have discovered that God will answer almost daily. Be prepared to see opportunities naturally present themselves to you after you ask the Lord to provide them.
I display a conversation starter. I wear a #2 lapel pin that my wife bought me from Amazon. Simply go to Amazon.com (HERE) and you will find what I wear most days. When people see the #2 they almost always ask, “What’s the 2 for?” I then reply, “It’s a reminder that I am always in second position to the God I love and people I serve.” I then can ask them, “Can I take 3 minutes and tell you how I came to know Jesus and why He means so much to me?” They almost always say yes.
The short video below is a good source to help deepen your understanding.
How to Share Your Personal Testimony - YouTube
Tony Note: If you are struggling with this and can’t really create a testimony then perhaps you have never truly given your life to the Lord. If you are concerned about that, I encourage you to contact me today.
“How do I convince an atheist that there is a God?”
I think that since atheism is rising at an alarming rate many evangelism-minded Christians pose that question. These loving brethren want to see the world changed for the glory of God. They even want to share our loving Lord Jesus with those who have no belief in God. I applaud them for that.
But the simple answer to the question is, “YOU can’t!” You and I cannot convince an atheist that there is a God. Obviously we can share some data and reasonable argumentation with them, and we should. But in most cases they will remain in their position of unbelief. Data and logical rationale, in and of themselves, rarely produce a born-again believer.
There are some people whose minds are so closed or their hearts are so hardened that only God Himself can break through their barrier of unbelief. That is where YOU and I should put our hope … that God will begin to break through those barriers. He can do this in any number of ways.
If you read the stories of atheists who became Christians you will see that the road to conversion began within themselves due to something that they, or someone they were close to experienced; of an emotional, physical or even a spiritual nature. The change they saw in someone they loved and admired moved their hearts more effectively than mere data and rationale.
I note the above as merely an introduction because there are some things we can do that God may use to assist His work in hardened, unbelieving hearts.
Following are my thoughts.
If you Want to Convince an Atheist of God’s Existence | Pray Daily
There is no greater power than prayer. We see God move in powerful ways as a result of the passionate prayers of His people. One example is found in 1 Kings 18:20-40 when Elijah challenged the priests of Baal. The power of God was revealed when Elijah prayed the following:
“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
God provided a powerful victory and “39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
We begin our effort to win an atheist to Jesus by praying daily and in the belief that God can break through the barriers of doubt and unbelief.
If you Want to Convince an Atheist of God’s Existence | Prepare Decisively
As noted above, data and rationale rarely produce a born-again believer in and off themselves. However 1 Peter 3:15 does teach that we should …
… sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.
The word for “answer” in the verse is apologia which means an apologetic argument done in gentleness and reverence. Heated and argumentative discussions with atheists will likely push them further away than draw them nearer to the Lord.
Making an apologetic defense will require some preparation. Due to the rise of atheism in the world today the field of Christian apologetics has received renewed and vigorous interest. Books, websites, and courses abound in the field and a simple Google search of Christian apologetics will yield countless avenues of study.
Decide to prepare so that you will be able to give an answer as to why you believe in our Lord and Savior.
If you Want to Convince an Atheist of God’s Existence |Pursue Discerningly
Usually an atheist is quite open to friendly dialogue and debate about faith and religion. I have rarely found one who was closed to respectful conversation. But we want to always remain respectful and non-combative. HERE is an example of a discussion I had with an atheist a few years ago. The door can remain open if our demeanor remains conversational and relational.
However, it is best that we decide to end the discussions rather than have the atheists do so in anger. It is best that we know when to walk away rather than have the atheist push us away. Jesus said that there is a time when we simply shake the dust off our feet and end the dialogue (see Matthew 10:14). So, we should discern when we have done all we can and leave the rest to the Lord Himself.
Here are a couple of interesting articles of former atheists who are now committed Christians (Here and Here).
I trust this post on How do I convince an atheist that there is a God? has been helpful.
Please leave a comment below and feel free to share this article with anyone who may find it helpful. Copy the link and share it on your social profiles and please click the social icons below.
In Christian circles the word “fellowship” is as common as the non-word “ain’t” is in the south. Most people relate the word to sitting with other Christians in the church fellowship hall eating chicken and casseroles together. I suppose that is indeed a form of fellowship.
But the true biblical definition of the word “fellowship” (koinonia is the New Testament Greek word) has to do with being together in a community of believers and discussing things related to God’s blessings to believers. For the more scholarly readers – below is the official definition from Bible Study Tools online.
As nice as those fellowship meals are, they don’t hold the proverbial candle to what true fellowship actually is.
Fellowship at a Funeral?
A few days ago I attended the funeral of my good friend and Christian brother, Reverend Pat Stewart. I have attended and officiated more funerals than I ever dreamed I would in life. Most are sad and low key regardless of how much effort is made to do the opposite. But for a true believer who lived a godly life that was a true embodiment and constant expression of fellowship, a funeral is not morbid or sad. These funerals are joyous and celebrative.
Pastor Don Ware
At Brother Stewart’s funeral people were smiling and happy. Pastor Don Ware gave a joyous and honoring eulogy for our friend and brother. Three other men gave joyous testimonies related to the impact Pat had on their lives. That’s fellowship!
I saw many of the members of Highlands Baptist Church truly enjoying fellowship … AT A FUNERAL! One after one they stopped me and told me of the blessings that God had provided them through the life and ministry of Pat Stewart. I was uplifted and blessed just to hear these sentiments. I shared a few of my own with them as well. It was truly a celebration of fellowship.
True Fellowship Changes Us
As I left the funeral service I was overtaken with the thought of fellowship. I asked myself if I was living in such a way that blesses others and communicates the blessings of God. Honestly, I think I do much of the time. But I am sure there are those moments when I am, well, not so much of the blessing I would like to be. Aren’t we all like that?
God gave us fellowship in order to share His blessings with each other. True fellowship is not about casseroles. It is about sharing with one another what God has done in our lives that has blessed us. We want to share those blessings so others who are facing life’s challenges can see and sense the blessings of God that are so available to them. This kind of fellowship changes us. It builds hope and creates joy!
I love the fellowship of fellowship.
Now, go fellowship with someone who needs a blessing today.