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God sent me some encouragement Monday. I was talking to some of my colleagues (A and B) and one of them, B, cursed. A looked at me, then at B and said "No way Mark said that." B reluctantly admitted it was him, not me who said it.
What's encouraging about that is I have been sitting next to A for a long time. And I didn't use to hold back my tongue a few years ago. My job frustrates me and I am a heart on my sleeve person, so it's pretty obvious when I am upset. I'm not proud of it or excusing it...just being honest. Then the Holy Spirit told me that I needed to clean up my act at work if I thought I was going to proclaim the Gospel to anyone. So, I pray a lot about it and God is certainly helping me...and it's showing to the people around me. I'm not nearly as grumpy as I once was. Some have recently dared to say that I'm not grouchy. :)
In addition, A is a very smart, critical thinker. He doesn't believe in salvation and talking to him about the Bible or Jesus just gets an argument going...and he's a real good arguer. We once had an discussion that didn't go well for me. We don't talk about it any more and neither of us is upset with the other. I have seen others who were unprepared speak to him too and it's not pretty.
Having A say that yesterday was amazing to me. I have always thought that once you blew your witness, there's really no going back. Might as well move and get a new job. But that's not true. It may take a long time, but living your faith and walk with Christ out in the open will have an impact on people.
No longer can I say that "You are a walking testimony" is any kind of cliche. It is absolutely true! I don't say anything to A, but he knows, has seen, that something has changed in me. We, as Christians, are indeed a work in progress. Don't think you can never go back once you've stumbled. God, not you, draws people to Him in His time. Just keep living your faith. If you stumble, even if you wallow for a while in the mire of sin, get back up and continue walking with Jesus.
You just don't know who's watching.
p.s. my comment to A was that he should see me when I am around my kids....not always pretty. Praying about that too.
p.p.s. should work on that with my neighbor too. Long way to go there.
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My wife and I have been fighting a bit more recently. It's a drag considering a few weeks ago I remarked to her that we were in one of the best places our marriage had ever been. What happened? Most of it has to do with my vacation from work. I took that last two weeks of December off as I do most years. With all that time off, I managed to hardly read my Bible at all. Quite the opposite of what I think should happen.
When I have a break coming up, I always envision myself taking a day to fast and being able to study for an hour a day in addition to my morning devotions - that would be a lot for me unless I am teaching, which requires at least that. However, the reality seems to be that neither of those things happens. In fact, my devotions go right out the window. Or maybe I should say they go into the alarm clock? The only time it's quiet in our house is early in the morning. Three boys...nuf said. I get up early every day for work so that I can have a little time. Why is it that I can't get out of bed when I don't work?
Driving home from work the other day, I said that to Kelli. I was listening to a prophecy conference teaching about Israel and all that God has done for that nation. Such as making them a nation after 100s (1000s?) of years of being scattered across the globe. And re-establishing the Hebrew language after it was effectively dead. Those two things can't be said of any other land or language in the history of Mankind. And the same way that God has a plan for Israel, He chose me from the foundation of the world. And I can't get out of bed to spend time with Him?
Part of the reason we were doing so well before was were coming out of a pretty significant trial. So, I was reading a lot and listening to every bible study I could get my ears on. And God revealed a lot of inner garbage to me. It was good to get that out, though it's a struggle to keep it out. Humility is tough. For me it's trying to balance self-awareness and self-righteousness.
There's a great line from a needtobreathe song that goes, "just because I'm wrong, doesn't make you right." I think understanding what that means is good for me. I might think someone did something wrong, but that doesn't give me the right to react any way I want. And just because I behaved poorly, don't you think maybe you had something to do with that?
My relationship to my wife is supposed to be like Christ's relationship to the Church. Mankind did everything wrong yet Jesus came and died for us. It doesn't matter if I think my wife did something wrong (and the definition of that can be loose in my mind sometimes), it's my responsibility to love her by dying to myself and treating her with respect. That same philosophy extends to our relationships to other people...not just husband/wife. Jesus said that the second most important commandment was to love others as yourself. Treating others with love means dying to yourself - putting them first. As I have said before, I don't think that means you're a doormat and you just let people do whatever they want. If you see a brother or sister in Christ behaving badly or in a way that doesn't honor Christ or will do them harm, it's your responsibility to correct them. But there is a loving way to do that which doesn't include condemnation or putting yourself on a pedestal.
Kelli and I are working through this time. I think we're both going through a similar sort of thing...not enough time in God's word. Maybe we need to work on a way to spell one another from the kids so we both get time...we'll be praying about that.
Well, I've gone on long enough...
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