As Far As It Depends On You

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Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1984)

Attitude – The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes. (Chuck Swindoll)

Emotions – Emotions don’t settle upon you like a fog.  They are not foisted upon you by others.  No matter how uncomfortable it might make you feel by saying it – others don’t make you mad.  You make you mad.  You make you scared, annoyed or insulted.  You and only create your emotions.

Once you’ve created your own emotions, you have only two options:  You can act on them or be acted on by them.  That is, when it comes to strong emotions, you either find a way to master them or fall hostage to them. (Crucial Conversations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler. McGraw Hill, 2012)

My Musings – Life is full of people thinking the worst of us, saying unkind things about us and doing terrible things to us.  These are the things that are “foisted upon [us] by others.”  We cannot stop them from happening, “we cannot change the inevitable.”  What we can change is how we “react to [them].”  More specifically, do “we act on [master] them” or are we “acted on by [fall hostage to] them?” The choice is ours.

My Advice – Living at peace with certain people will not always depend upon what we think, say or do. “We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.”  Nevertheless, we need not respond in kind.  We must do our best to stay “in charge of [both] our attitudes [and emotions].”  It may not be easy.  Doing the right thing is rarely is.

In Everything

Philippians 4:6-7Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We do not have to live in anxiety, no matter what perilous things we may be going through.   We need only pray. We may not always get what we pray for, but we can always find peace.

My Advice – Don’t let anxiety overwhelm you. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control how they affect your heart and your mind. Just pray. God will grant you peace in the storm.

Keeping the Peace

Isaiah 26:3You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – There is a lot of talk about peace today, but only God can give a true peace that will last.

My Advice – Do not waver in your trust in God. It will give you peace in your heart and a sense of calm that cannot be explained, even in the most difficult situations.

Turning Away or Stirring Up?

Proverbs 15:1A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Responding gently does not mean that we have to be a doormat. But it does show that we value relationships, peace and reconciliation over rights, strife and pride.

My Advice – You will have many opportunities to respond harshly to others. But even when you are wronged, and may be justified in answering harshly, try a gentle response. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how often this turns enemies into friends rather than affirming their animosity and how well it maintains rather than damages relationships.

Lest We Forget

Psalms 103:2-5Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. He forgives…heals…redeems…crowns…satisfies…renews….  (NIV 1978)

My Musings – But we do forget. In the midst of pain or sorrow or stress or misfortune, we lose focus of the benefits and refocus on the problem. We forget how many times in the past He has delivered us. If we remembered it would be so much easier for us to endure.

My Advice – Recall to mind, on a regular basis, how much God has done for you. Be specific. This will make it so much easier to recall them when you go through similar difficulties. Then it be less likely that you will say “how am I going to get through this” and more likely to say “I remember when God helped me through something just like this.”

Upside Down Frowns

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Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. – Mark Twain

Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – A song I remember from my childhood included the phrase a smile is just a frown turned upside down.  Peace with others will come much easier with smiles than frowns.  And usually, whether we smile or frown does indeed depend on us.  Even if the others are frowning, our smiles can help turn those frowns upside down.

My Advice – Is not any better than today’s comic.  Be like the little children, just try giving a smile away.  And make sure the wrinkles of growing older are where smiles have been, not frowns.  In fact, make sure the smiles are not “has been,” but still are.  Just because we grow old does not mean we have to stop smiling.

Quiet Waters

Psalms 23:2,3He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – When we are at our wits end we do not always want to take time to rest. It is then that He takes hold of us and makes us rest. We scurry around frantically and He takes our hands to lead us. And suddenly we are rested and on the right path – rested.

My Advice – When rest comes unexpectedly in the midst of stress, and guidance in the midst of not knowing where to turn, consider it the hand of God.