Hi Ho, Hi Ho ‘Tis off to Work We Go

How would you describe your work ethic?

Sage wisdom comes from the old sage, the late preacher Sam Jones, who said,

“The longer I live, the more I am certain that the greatest difference between men — between the feeble and the powerful, the great and the insignificant — is energy, invincible determination— a purpose once fixed, and then death or victory. That quality will do anything that can be done in this world, and no talent, no circumstance, no opportunities, will make a two legged creature a man without it.

There are hindrances without and within, but the outer hindrances could affect nothing if there were no inner surrender to them. Fear of opinion, timidity, dread of change, love of ease, indolence, unfaithfulness, are the greater hindrances. Optimism is believing that you can eat the rooster that scratches over your grave.

The essence of that has been circulated for a long time. Maybe it is time we believe it. 

Tenacity achieves that which otherwise is impossible. Jamestown suffered a great flood. The water rose to six feet. Two friends allegedly sat on a rooftop and watched it flow by. Amid the debris was an old hat. It flowed by, stopped, turned around, and came back upstream against the tide. Reaching a certain point it again reversed itself and started downstream. This process repeated itself several times as they watched in amazement. Finally one of them said, “I know what it is. Grandpaw said he was going to mow the lawn today come hell or high water.” That’s tenacity. Dogged determination is another term for commitment.

Leonard da Vinci, considered by most to be a genius and extremely hard worker, wrote, “O Lord, Thou givest us everything, at the price of an effort.” Indeed the anguish of Jesus on the cross was the optimum gift at the ultimate cost.

“If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,          
It is almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost.
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a person’s will,
It’s all in the state of mind.
Life’s battle doesn’t always go
To the swift or fastest man,
But sooner of later the person who wins
 Is the one who thinks He can.”

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Actions Have Consequences

Imagine you are a very good athlete and someone offers you a bribe if you will not play up to your best and thereby throw the game. Would you do it? Think about it, there is a result. Doing so you will have a life-time of emotions ranging in sadness, grief, loss, guilt, shame, anger, and lifelong regrets.

Would you do it?

Suppose you are in finance and a friend has devised a scheme whereby you can skim big money and get away with it. Would you do it? Oh, by the way though you won’t get caught you will have a life-time of emotions ranging in sadness, grief, loss, guilt, shame, anger, and lifelong regrets.

Would you do it?

Imagine you are in a business that deals with food products. You have just discovered a way you can dilute certain products that would reduce their quality and make you a large profit. It’s easy and not likely to ever be detected. It will enable you to get out of debt and make money. Would you do it? There is one thing you need to know. You will have a life-time of emotions ranging in sadness, grief, loss, guilt, shame, anger, and lifelong regrets. 

Would you do it?

Suppose you are a lovely young unwed adult female. Here is where the plot thickens. You are pregnant. You can get a abortion and no one will know. Would you do it? Before deciding, be aware you will have a lifetime of emotions ranging in sadness, grief, loss, guilt, shame, anger, and lifelong regrets.

If you could avoid giving birth while single, would you do it? I don’t mean an abortion. Here is how.

A lovely highschool teenage girl visited me in my office. It was her senior year and she had garnered almost every award and title there was. She sobbed out her story of being pregnant and then said, “I don’t know why I did it.” In conciliatory tones I said, “I know why.” 

Abruptly in sharp tones she snapped back a harsh, “Why?” I said, “Because of the things you read, the movies you watched, the stories you listened to, the social media you viewed, and the people you hung-out with, you made up the decision to do it before you did it and subconsciously you have just been looking for the right opportunity to do it.”

With tones of regret she said, “You are right.”

Avoid those things and you are highly unlikely to live with a lifetime of emotions ranging in sadness, grief, loss, guilt, shame, anger, and lifelong regrets.

“All these evil things come from within and defile a person.” (Mark 7: 23 CSB)

The process is defined by the computer axiom GIGO. What “Goes in Goes Out.” Stop it before it starts by programming the mind with virtuous thoughts. Virtue, now there is a thought for you.

Whatever became of the “True Love Waits” concept. It reduced pregnancies. Critics still write of it negatively, but when not taken to extremes it worked. Try it individually in all of life, males, and females.

Aids to Optimism – Part Three

“For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100: 5

“God is good…”  He always is. Things aren’t always good, but God is. Complexity consequences when we fail to distinguish between God and things. As a result, we often end up feeling it is God Who isn’t good.

Water is always wet.

Fire is always hot.

God is always good.

Those are basic unchanging characteristics of each. Things aren’t always good, but God is. Don’t confuse the two.

In Richmond, Virginia a woman named Mary Green God sued David A. Hurt. The cases were posted as God verses Hurt. Spiritually that is our God versus our hurt. He still opposes our hurt as He did on Calvary.

 “…His mercy is everlasting….” 

Grace is God supplying the good we don’t deserve. The good.

Mercy is God sparing us what we do deserve. The bad.

His mercy is everlasting.

If given a box of sand and told there were particles of iron filings in it, you might search for them with your eyes and fumble for them with clumsy fingers without finding them. However, if you were to sweep through the sand with a magnet the almost invisible particles would be drawn to the magnet by the power of the magnet’s force field. 

An unthankful heart, like our clumsy fingers in the sand, may discover no mercies. Let a thankful heart sweep through a day and as the magnet finds iron, so in every day you will find heavenly blessings. His mercy is everlasting.

“…His truth endures to all generations….”

In a culture that professes its foundation to be relativism, He offers stability. Many in our society profess there are no absolutes, everything is relative, insecurity.  As a result pessimism abounds.

To such perplexed people God offers truth that endures. As there are rules that remain constant once a sporting game has begun, so there are spiritual concepts that don’t change in the game of life. Game on!

The Bible repeatedly presents goodness as a core quality of our Lord. It is His very unchanging nature. Therefore, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (I Chronicles 16:34) It is just Him.

“No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18) Daily our experiences confirm both aspects of that.

Walk with Him and you can say with the Psalmist, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107:8-9) Trust Him, try Him, prove Him. Do it and you will become more optimistic.

Aids to Optimism – Part Two

“Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm. 100: 3, 4

Some people strut their moment on life’s stage quoting, “I am the captain of my fate…I am the master of my soul.” Not!

Some live by these words of W.E. Henley in his poem “Invictus”:
“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as a pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever God may be
For my invincible soul.”

Be real! Jesus put things in perspective when He asked, “Who can add one cubit to his height….”

We do better to quote the Christian counterpart of “Invictus” written by Dorthea Day, entitled “My Captain”:
“Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole
I thank the God I know to be
For Christ — the Conqueror of my soul.”

An attitude of gratitude is fertile soil for optimism. Exaltation is elevating. Therefore, “Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Vs. 4B)

William Law asked and answered his question. “Who is the greatest saint? It is not the one who prays most or who does most, it is the one who is most thankful.”

It is not the happy people who are optimistic.

It is the optimistic people who are happy.

Happiness doesn’t produce optimism, rather optimism consequences in happiness.

Do you always feel thankful?  Be real! The honest answer from all of us is “NO!” Psalm 116: 17 – 19 speaks to such an emotional moment: “I will offer You the sacrifice of thanksgiving….”  A sacrifice is something we give that costs us. Sometimes the sacrifice is thanksgiving and it costs us dearly. 

Often thanksgiving comes as an act of faith, not from elation over circumstances.  “Faith,” regards a suspicious person with an arched eyebrow. Many feel faith is a thin thread by which to be suspended. Instead it is the anchor of the soul.

Robert Jastrow, noted astrophysicist, in addressing the American Association for the Advancement of Science, noted, “For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream.”

A counter comment is included by Martin Luther in the introduction to his commentary to the Book of Romans: “Faith is confidence in God’s grace so strong and so confident that a man will stake his life on it a thousand times.” So live demonstrating it. That is cause for optimism.

Aids to Optimism – Part One

“Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100: 3, 4

Jesus does not want your attitude held hostage by circumstances. He does not want circumstances to control your attitude. Rather, He wants your attitude to influence circumstances.

Believers can rejoice because Jesus met their worst enemy, Satan, and overcame him. Because of Jesus’ victory, we work from victory not for victory. It is Jesus’ victory that enables us to be victorious.

The King of Kings has defeated the “prince” of this world.

Don’t ever step into a never-before-lived-day without a spirit of optimism.  You choose your attitude. The choice is yours. Jesus in you is the hope of glory.

Yogi Berra said, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.”

General W. J. Slim was a little more precise in this statement: “When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action to take … choose the bolder.”

Dealing with some of the difficulties of life is like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you get tired. You quit when the gorilla gets tired.

Our Lord knowing this has provided numerous uplifting influences to enable us to regain our footing when knocked down by events that jolt us.

“Enter His gates… and into His courts.”

This was an expression by the ancient Hebrews that speak of public worship. Public worship puts God in focus. It is like looking at an object through a magnifying glass?  With the object in the center of the glass in focus you could see it best. However, around the edges everything else might be fuzzy or faded. Worship enables us to get God in focus and things to fade.

It is often ourselves that needs to be put in proper focus. Sometimes we are defeated, depleted, and deflated. At other times we operate from an inflated ego. Worship gives balance. Therein we are dealing with One bigger and more able than we.

Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. Neither limit your worship to public worship. Walk through life as though the world around you is a great cathedral, and in it worship the God of creation. Be mindful of Him amid His artful creation and silently express adoration to Him. Remember it is He we are to worship, inspired by nature, but it is not nature we worship.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24: 1)

Worship is in essence focusing on God formally and informally. Live with a sense of His presence and worship Him. Having such a companion is cause for optimism.