Getting a Backhanded Compliment Can Be a Good Thing

It’s Important to Know Who You’re Talking to and Speak Their Language

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day. Too often we take our mothers for granted. We are used to them taking care of us and loving us even with all our flaws.

A mother was working late one day, and her husband and daughter decided they would clean the kitchen for her before she got home. They washed the dishes and put them away. They cleaned the table and the counter. They swept and mopped the floor. They had the kitchen looking great and were excited.

When the mom got home, she came in through the kitchen. She took off her coat and hung it over the back of a chair and sat her purse on the table. She went into the living room and sat down and turned on the TV. The husband and daughter stood there waiting for a compliment.

After a while they asked her what she thought about them cleaning the kitchen. She looked at them and said, “It’s a thankless job, isn’t it?”

Don’t forget to tell your mom thank you.

A backhanded compliment can be a little confusing.

A woman was greeted after singing a solo by a gentleman who said, “You sang that song well, and you didn’t sing too long.”

Or what about the man who was always getting reprimanded at work getting a comment from his supervisor, “You’re stinking less at this job all the time.”

We all speak such different languages. It’s hard to know how to take a backhanded compliment.

In Acts 17:16-31 Paul gave the Athenians a backhanded compliment. These people were searching for God but were trying to make Him fit their wants and desires, so Paul spoke to them in a language that they understood.

While Paul was waiting in Athens, he was upset to see all the idols in the city. 17 He went to the synagogue to speak to the Jews and to anyone who worshiped with them. Day after day he also spoke to everyone he met in the market. 18 Some of them were Epicureans and some were Stoics, and they started arguing with him.

People were asking, “What is this know-it-all trying to say?”

Some even said, “Paul must be preaching about foreign gods! That’s what he means when he talks about Jesus and about people rising from death.”

19 They brought Paul before a council called the Areopagus, and said, “Tell us what your new teaching is all about. 20 We have heard you say some strange things, and we want to know what you mean.”

21 More than anything else the people of Athens and the foreigners living there loved to hear and to talk about anything new. 22 So Paul stood up in front of the council and said:

People of Athens, I see that you are very religious.

 23 As I was going through your city and looking at the things you worship, I found an altar with the words, “To an Unknown God.” You worship this God, but you don’t really know him. So, I want to tell you about him. 24 This God made the world and everything in it. He is Lord of heaven and earth, and he doesn’t live in temples built by human hands. 25 He doesn’t need help from anyone. He gives life, breath, and everything else to all people. 26 From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be.

Some of the people who heard Paul made changes and put their faith in God. Just like the people in Athens, if we listen to backhanded compliments, discern the good from them, make the right choices and apply those changes…we’ll be better for it.

Too often we try to make God what we want Him to be. This isn’t how it works. God is God and we were made in His image…not the other way around.

Remember that we all speak different languages, and it’s important to find out the language someone else is speaking before we start talking. We also need to be careful how we complement each other.

Oh…Thank you Mom for all you’ve done and the love you’ve given me throughout my life.

We Should Be Willing to Take a Risk Because it’s the Right Thing to Do

It’s All About Believing in the Right Thing and Having Faith

Do places have a memory?

Have you ever felt connected to a place through memories. These could be your memories or others.

I have this kind of connection at home. The house I live in was built in 1916 by my great grandfather. My grandmother on my mom’s side of the family grew up in this house. Then my mother and her sisters grew up here. Now I live there and have raised my family in this house.

To say that I have memories here is an understatement. I have childhood memories of Christmases, Sunday evening suppers, 4th of July fireworks, butchering chickens, putting hay in the barn and on and on. In discussions with my mom and aunts, I’ve heard stories of their memories, too.

All these memories, both heard and lived, have played a part in my feelings for this farm. It has been a part of making me who I am. It’s more than that…it is a part of who I am.

I can see my grandmother and mother running through the house in bare feet on the same floors that I walk on every day.

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. This commemorates Jesus’s walking into Jerusalem and the people waving palm branches in greeting.

 On His way to Jerusalem, He walked over the Mount of Olives. Like my house holds memories for me, the Mount of Olives held memories for the Jews.

As Jesus walked over there, He would have seen King David as he was fleeing his son Absalom. He would have seen Zacharia as he prophesied. He would have seen all the faces of the people to be the first to be raised from the dead buried in the cemetery there on the Mount of Olives.

Memories are both good and bad. It’s up to us to decide which ones we are going to focus on.

Paul Veneto is a retired flight attendant who worked out of Logan International Airport. On Sept 10, he landed back home in Boston. The next day was off. That’s when United Flight 175, the flight he was an attendant on, flew into the World Trade Center.

He knew the people who were working on that flight. They were his friends and coworkers. This was hard for Paul, he could have been on that plane…he should have been on that plane. He felt guilty about it. Dealing with this Veneto fell into drug addiction.

After being off opioids for six years, in 2015 he decided he would walk the 220 miles from Boston to ground zero pushing a beverage cart to honor the memory of his coworkers and bring attention to them.

This is focusing on the good memories.

We need to remember that the things we do every day will be memories for us and others.

Sometimes this means making difficult and unpopular choices. It can be risky to do the right thing. As we approach Easter, we need to remember what Jesus did for us. He knew the price. He knew that it was risky, but He did it anyway…because it was the right thing to do.

When we are faced with scary situations, we need to remember Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us. Having faith in Him can give us the courage we need to do the scary things in life.

When We Ask God Man-sized Questions, We Are Limiting the Answers We Get

We Need to be Asking God Sized Questions Instead

Asking a man-sized question is a sure way to get a man-sized answer. As humans it makes sense that we think in human terms, because we are human after all. But what could be possible if we quit limiting ourselves? Because when we incorporate these limitations, we are limiting God’s answer.

This is a little bit like the cute little girl who went into the pet store and shyly asked the store owner for a small rabbit. The store owner asked her what color she would like. “We have black ones, brown ones, white ones. What color would you like?”

The little girl said, “It doesn’t matter, my python won’t care.

The store owner asked a man-sized question. He made some presumptions about what the little girl’s plans were for the rabbit and then asked the question. We do this kind of thing all the time when asking questions of God. We limit His answers with our small questions.

God has a lot bigger plans for us than we have for ourselves.

In Luke 20:27-38, the Sadducees, who didn’t believe in a resurrection, asked Jesus a question about a woman who was childless when her husband died. According to the writings of Moses, the husband’s brother should marry her. In this story the brothers kept dying and the next one would marry her.

The question from the Sadducees was, “In the resurrection, whose wife would she be?”

This is one of those man-sized questions.

Jesus goes on to explain to them that marriage is a worldly thing designed for companionship, family and filling the earth. In Heaven there will be no need for marriage. We will be like the angles.

We need to be thinking bigger, out of the box questions and then have faith that God will answer them. This doesn’t mean that the answer will be what we think or expect. We need to change our simple-minded thinking.

We need to quit holding God back with our small questions.

In Mark 11:23-24, we are told that if we, “…tell a mountain to be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and don’t waiver, that it will happen”. I don’t know about you, but my small man-sized brain finds this hard to believe.

The first vision that comes to my mind is the mountain being lifted from the earth and floating to the nearest ocean and being dropped in. The Scripture doesn’t get into the specifics. Maybe it could involve some big excavation equipment or new technology.

Think about President Kennedy when he said that we would put a man on the moon…and we did. That sounded pretty far fetched when it was said, but it happened. President Kennedy had faith. This doesn’t mean that it was easy, or that a man just magically floated up to the moon.

This was a God-sized idea that required the faith and hard work of a lot of people.

We need to think bigger and have more faith. If we align our man-sized thinking with God’s and remove our human-sized limits, we will be amazed when that mountain is in the sea.

A Lot of Things are True…But There is Only One Truth

Belief is Important, But Not as Important as WHAT You Believe in

We are bombarded with information that is presented as true. The flood of information that is out there today makes it hard to know what to believe.

We take something at face value only to find out later that it isn’t true.

Knowing what to believe can be a challenge.

How do we know what to believe?

Knowledge is an important thing, but if we aren’t careful, it takes the place of faith. What we put our faith in is the key to unlocking the life we were meant to have.

Real faith is believing in something bigger than knowledge.

In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus’ disciples were unable to release a boy from his demon. The father of the boy asked Jesus to. “Help us if You can.” Jesus replied, “Why do you say, ‘if You can’?

Anything is possible for someone who has faith!”

At once the boy’s father shouted, “I do have faith! Please help me to have even more.”

After Jesus and His disciples had left and were alone, they asked Him, “Why couldn’t we force out the demon?”

Jesus answered, “Only prayer can force out this kind of demon.”

It appears that the disciples’ efforts were short on faith. For prayer to work we have to have faith.

Knowledge is important but it’s limited.

Faith, on the other hand…if we truly have it, has no limit. Jesus’ followers ask to have their faith made stronger in Luke 17:5-6. He tells them, that if they have faith as small as a mustard seed, they can tell a mulberry tree to pull itself up and plant itself in the ocean and it will.

When it comes to our eternal life…faith in the wrong thing isn’t good either.

Earlier in Luke 17, Jesus tells his disciples that, “Anyone who causes another person to sin, is in for trouble. It would be better for them to be thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their neck.

He goes on to say that we are to “correct followers who sin and forgive the ones who say they’re sorry.”

This sounds pretty straight forward. If we sin, we are to ask for forgiveness not look the other way.

It doesn’t say it’s okay to sin.

If we believe that Christ is God and that He came to earth as a man and that He is our only way to Heaven…then we need to believe everything He tells us in His Word.

If we believe this, then He is the one and only Truth that we can believe in.

Faith Is Better Than Magic… Magic Only Goes So Far

It Requires Action from Us for Faith to Do Its Magic

Faith’s magic is different than magician magic. It’s not a slide of hand, distract you over here while they do the “magic” over there.

There were two boys that were always trying to out prank each other.

One of them stole three candy bars and showed his friend. The friend told him that was no big deal, he could get the store clerk to give him three candy bars.

The first boy didn’t believe him. He had no faith.

The second boy went to the clerk and asked to show him a magic trick. The boy said he would need three candy bars and he would give them back when he was done. The clerk agreed.

The boy took the candy bars. He unwrapped the first one and ate it. The clerk was puzzled. The boy took the second and did the same thing. Now the clerk was getting concerned. The boy now repeated the process again and ate the third one. The concerned clerk says, “Okay, where are the candy bars?”

The boy says, “They’re in my friend’s pocket.”

God’s magic isn’t magician magic. It’s faith.

Faith requires action. In Hebrews 11:1-12 there are examples of people of faith taking action. Noah had faith and built a boat, even though it had never rained. Abraham had faith and went to a country where he had never been that became the promised land. Sarah in her old age believed and had a son.

Faith is like a staircase. You know there’s another floor up there. But if you don’t climb the stairs…you’ll never experience it. Faith without works is dead.

Faith is more than just believing. Faith is where the rubber meets the road. Even the demons believe.

If we don’t act on our faith, it’s useless.

Faith is more than knowledge. To become a musician, it requires more than just learning how to read music or knowing how to play an instrument. It requires practice. This is true for faith too.

Faith is not about information…it’s about transformation. God tells us in Jeremiah, that His plans are for us to prosper. He has plans for our hope and future. To0 much of life is spent doubting beliefs and believing doubts.

When a trapeze artist lets go of the trapeze and reaches out for the catcher, they must believe that they will be caught. The flyer simply stretches out their arms and trusts that the catcher will catch them. This is faith. We need to stretch out our arms to God and trust that He will catch us.

We all experience faith daily in varying degrees. The more we believe, practice and climb the stronger it becomes.

Faith is a better guide than reason. Reason can only go so far…faith has no limits. I will expect miracles in my life because faith produces them every day. I will believe in the future that I do not see. That is faith. The reward of this faith is to see the future that I believed.

Andy Andrews, Seventh Decision

Fear is a Powerful Force, But Faith Can Help You Overcome It

Like Every Other Decision in Your Life…It’s Up to You

Believing in something we can’t see can be hard. This is where faith comes in.

Last week we celebrated Easter and Christ’s resurrection. We talked about the women finding the empty tomb and how the apostles thought this was nonsense.

This week we’ll pick up from there. In John 20:19-31, the disciples were afraid and hiding in a locked room, when Jesus showed up. He showed them His hands and feet and gave them the Holy Spirit to go out and spread the message of how we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Thomas, one of the disciples wasn’t with them when this happened. When they told him…he didn’t believe them. He said, “I won’t believe unless I see and touch the scars.”

We’re more like Thomas than we would like to believe. We tell ourselves we believe, but do we really?

Thomas’s need for proof was like a farmer from South Carolina in the early 1900s.

 He said that he thought the existence of Europe was fictional. He believed that there was no such place as the continent of Europe. He found it hard to believe that anything existed beyond the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, in 1918, the last year of WWI, he was drafted into the Army and had the opportunity to experience Europe as a fact. He said, “You wouldn’t believe what lies over there.”

This is often how we feel about life beyond the grave.

You wouldn’t believe what lies over there.

Thomas went on to share Christ’s message in India, where he was killed for the work he was doing.

We can believe because people like doubting Thomas gave their lives to get the word out.

It is easy to be afraid. Like the disciples too often we can hide behind locked doors. On the other hand, if we believe, we can share the message that we’ve been given.

Being afraid prevents us from doing amazing things.

The lyrics of Bette Midler song The Rose, from the movie with the same name, we are given a good example of what we miss when we live our lives in fear.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying
That never learns to live

Think of what can we do if we truly believe Christ is risen?

Don’t be afraid to live your life. Live faith over fear!

One of Life’s Biggest Tragedies is Not That We Lose, But That We ALMOST Win

FAITH or FEAR…Which is the Driving Force in Your Decision Making?

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about stepping out of my comfort zone. This was me doing something that was new and different from construction. I was afraid that it might not work, but I had faith that it was what I was supposed to do.

We all like operating in that place of comfort, after all, it’s well…comfortable.

As I’ve been working to do this thing that is out of my comfort zone, it seems that everywhere I turn this topic has been showing up. It’s been in things I read, discussions I’ve had, podcasts, blogposts, etc.

We can always find ways to delay or subvert the thing that we’re supposed to do. This shows up in all sorts of ways. Ultimately, it’s because we’re afraid. We’re afraid that it’s not good enough, or that no one wants what we have to offer.

One of the places that this topic of fear vs. faith was prevalent was in my re-reading of the 7th Decision in Andy Andrews book, The Traveler’s Gift.

In this chapter David Ponder meets the Archangel Gabriel in a huge place full of a wide variety of things that seem to have no connection to each other.

One of the things is a picture of a familiar looking boy and girl. Gabriel said, “The boy’s name is Jason and the girl’s is Julia.”

David looking at the photo, remarked, “I’ve always liked those names. My grandfather’s name was Jason. In fact, if Jenny had been a boy, Ellen and I were going to name the baby Jason. We always said we would name our second girl Julia. We wanted several children, but we never were able to afford . . .” A cold wave of nausea swept over David. Lowering the picture slowly, he gripped the side of the large basket with his other hand to steady himself. Breathing heavily, he said, “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” Gabriel answered.

David, asks, “Why is this being done to me? Why am I seeing this now?

Turning to face Gabriel, David said, “What is this place?”

Gabriel spreads his arms and said…

“This, my friend, is the place that never was.”

This is where things that were about to be delivered just as a person stopped working and praying for them. It’s full of dreams and goals of the less courageous.

David asked if he can keep the picture, but Gabriel said, “I’m sorry, but Jason and Julia don’t exist”.

“The tragedy of life is not that man loses, but that he almost wins.”

Why do we quit?

We quit because we lack faith.

Are you a person of faith or fear?

Which of these guide your everyday actions and decisions?

We’re driven by faith or fear—one or the other—both are the same. “Faith or fear is the expectation of an event that hasn’t come to pass or the belief in something that cannot be seen or touched.”

“Great achievers—are rarely realistic by other people’s standards. Somehow, these successful people, often considered strange, pick their way through life ignoring or not hearing negative expectations and emotions. Consequently, they accomplish one great thing after another, never having heard what cannot be done.”

If our plans are in alignment with God’s plan for us and we believe in our purpose anything is possible. In Mark 11:23-24 we’re told that if you believe, what you say will happen. If we ask for what we want in prayer and we believe, we will receive those things. Because…

“Nothing is impossible for God”

Have faith, don’t quite and you will win.

Oh, by the way…not only are we moving forward with the VB Homes project, we’re also moving forward with the customer consulting project.

The Untapped Power of the Mind is the One Thing That Keeps Most of Us Stuck

But the Mind Can’t Do It Alone…it Requires Action as Well

Why is it that we doubt what we know? There are countless examples of the power of the human mind, yet we think… “this power only works for other people, doesn’t apply to me”.

Not only is this lack of belief directed at ourselves, ultimately it shows our lack of trust in God.

In Mark 10:46-52, there’s an example of the power of belief and acting on that belief.

The blind Bartimaeus is sitting along the road begging for money as Jesus goes by, he begins shouting. The people told him to be quiet. He shouted for Jesus to help him even more.

Jesus told him to come to Him.

He got up and went to Jesus.

Jesus asked him what he wanted. He said, “I want to see again.”

Jesus said, “Go. You are healed because you believed.”

This is the power of believing and acting on those beliefs.

Too often people find themselves in a bad situation like Bartimaeus and give in and give up. They feel angry, hurt, defeated or afraid and just stay there. It’s okay to have these feelings…just not to stay there. We can fight the pain, or we can accept it, learn from it and move forward like Antoinette Bosco.

During her eventful life, Antoinette “Toni” Bosco had plenty of reasons to feel abandoned by God. A mentally ill mother, heavy responsibilities early in life, a disastrous arranged marriage, the death of three of her seven children – the list is a painful one. But, instead of turning her back on God, she decided to embrace Him even more.

She attributed much of her ability to cope in these difficult life situations to her Italian father who came to America as a young man. He taught her, “To be good to people, to help people, never be cruel and never be angry.”

There was a point of suffering when she just wanted to pull the covers up over her head and hide from the world. She was telling herself; I just can’t get up anymore. Then she heard another voice…

If you think you can’t or you think you can…you’re right.

“I would not have gotten through my life without my faith. I do believe that the Lord Jesus is with me all the time.”

Bosco has learned that you never know what’s going to come next in life, but no matter what, it is essential to keep the faith.

“I know every day my prayer is “Be with me and let me know that You are with me,’” she said. “So far that has sustained me.”

Use the power of your mind, given to you by your Creator and start moving forward to fulfill your life.

Going Slower Once in a While Helps Us Go Faster in the Long Run

Relax and Have Faith…Fear and Worry Won’t Solve Anything

There was a military study done to see how long soldiers could go without a break. It was determined that on the seventh day their output and performance was significantly less, even though the soldiers themselves didn’t see any difference.

Slowing down and resting is important. Even God rested on the seventh day after working hard for six. And we were made in His image after all.

We were designed to rest one day each week.

Most are familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 with five small loaves of bread and two fish. As is the case with all the Bible there are some great life lessons in this message.

Don’t stress – Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we get enough food to feed these people?” This was a text because Jesus already knew what He planned to do. Philip began stressing…he said, “We would have to work months to buy enough food for every person here to have a little piece.” Philip forgot who he was with. Jesus had this. Too often we forget who we’re with.

Trust in Jesus – Andrew on the other hand spoke up and told Jesus, “Here’s a boy with five loaves and two fishes. But, this isn’t enough for so many.” Even though Andrew didn’t know how…he knew Jesus did. He believed.

Sit down and be fed – The crowd was told to sit down, and they did. Jesus gave thanks for the food they had and passed it out. After the crowd had eaten all they wanted, there was twelve baskets of leftovers. If we will take time to sit down with God, in His Word and with other believers, we will be fed more than we can hold. Enough that we will have leftovers to share with others.

Make Jesus a priority – This crowd had walked a long distance without planning for the trip, just to be near Jesus and learn from Him. They were willing to put forth the effort just to be in His presence. Are we willing to make this kind of commitment to be near to Him?

Give everything we have to God – The small boy gave everything he had to Jesus and God expanded it to enough to feed the boy as well as everyone else that was there. He wasn’t stingy holding on to it, afraid that if he gave it up, he wouldn’t get any. He gave freely of what he had. Do we share our skills and abilities with others by giving them to God first?

God will fill our cup so full it will run over if we give everything to Him first!

It doesn’t do us any good to stress and worry about things. God has got this if we will just remember to slow down ‘once in a while’ and give everything to him.

When asked the definition of abundance, a 10-year-old boy answered, “It means…

We have everything we need, even if we don’t have everything we want yet.”

It’s Not About the Storms…It’s About Our Faith When Going Through Them

No Matter How Dark the Clouds Get, the “Son” is Shinning Behind Them

Most of us are familiar with the story of Jesus asleep in the boat when the storm comes up. The people with Him were scared and worried. In their panic, they wake Jesus up and ask Him, “…don’t you care about us?” He stands up and commands the wind and waves to stop… Then He asks them,

“Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

We face storms of different kinds. The important thing is to remember to have faith.

No matter how dark the storm clouds get, the Son is always shining.

Pastor Lee told a story about a family that moved to Florida. The kids decided to go snorkeling in the pond in their backyard. While swimming an alligator decided to go swimming too. The mother yelled at them to get out. One boy was under water and didn’t hear her. The mother rushed out to get the boy, but before she could get him out the alligator had the boy’s head. She got a hold and started pulling. Because of the snorkeling gear the alligator let go. As they were swimming to get out the alligator bit the boy’s foot. Once again, the mother pulled against the alligator. It turns out that he didn’t like the taste of the flippers any more than the head gear and let go again.

The boy had some cuts on his head and feet, but no major injuries. The family was grateful, found a church and started going. The mother said, “That close call gave us a new perspective on life and God.”

We’ve all had situations where life hits us in the head and we adjust our priorities.

Having faith doesn’t mean we won’t have storms…it means we don’t have to go through them alone. Having faith gives us the peace to curl up next to Jesus.

He’s got your storm…whatever it is.

This week’s message reminded me of the TobyMac song, Help Is on The Way. This was the first song of hope he had written since the death of his son.

TobyMac said in an interview,

“I was walking through that valley and kind of went downstairs one morning and turned to Psalms. I read this scripture that said, ‘God is rolling up his sleeves,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that in the Bible.’ What beautiful imagery, when you think of the God of all creation rolling up His sleeves on my behalf – on our behalf. And I just thought, ‘What promise.'”

This song speaks to going through storms and the assurance that God has our back –

I heard your heart, I see your pain
Out in the dark, out in the rain
Feels so alone, feels so afraid
I heard you pray in Jesus’ name

Sometimes it’s days, sometimes it’s years
Some face a lifetime of fallen tears
But He’s in the darkness, He’s in the cold
Just like the mornin’, He always shows

Well, I seen my share o’ troubles
But the Lord ain’t failed me yet
So I’m holdin’ onto the promise, y’all
That He’s rollin’ up His sleeves again

It may be midnight or mid-day
He’s never early, no, never late
He will stand by what He claimed
I lived enough life to say…

Help is on the way
Roundin’ the corner
Help is on the way

Have faith. No matter how dark the storm seems, help is on the way!