Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Book Report (Ch.19): Every Day A Friday

Seeing Through Eyes of Love

I am, an extremely fortunate man. Not because I have numerous friends, a bank account that many would envy, a fancy car parked in front of a palatial home, but because I belong to a grand family— Not to a huge family here on earth in the traditional sense, although that can certainly bless a man, but a heavenly family that overlooks my life, my journey; my walk of faith with Jesus, and brothers and sisters here on earth that are citizens of the Kingdom of heaven. My fortune is in knowing they too, have ran the race and kept the faith. My fortune is in knowing they reside with the King forever! My fortune is in knowing they are doing well. My fortune is in hearing their voices. My fortune is in praying and encouraging them. My FORTUNE! God gives me day by day. That’s what makes me a fortunate man, and in turn that’s why I write encouraging life-filled words to you passionately and with commitment, looking to the Lord Jesus to run my race with determination and enthusiasm. God is my EVERYTHING. Amen.

Beloved, chapter nineteen of Joel Osteen’s Every Day A Friday is filled with many stories, where moments leading to misfortune were turned around and seized and became FORTUNE.

Let’s dig right in!

My immediate attention is caught in the very first sentence of this chapter: “Too often we judge people without knowing their stories.” Yet, if that wasn’t enough, Joel continues, “We haven’t walked in their shoes. We don’t know the struggles they’ve been through. We don’t know how they were raised. We don’t know the challenges they face.”

What can we possibly say to that?! I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I have experienced those types of people! We sure did and we sure have.

The second paragraph, is equally attention grabbing, but here’s an immediate blessing for you and I. “The truth is, people are the way they are for a reason. If we took time to know their stories, we would be much more forgiving. If we understood the battle they’ve fought, the pain they’ve endured, the people who’ve done them wrong, we would give them a lot more mercy.

Beloved, it’s confession time again. Both you and I don’t always know what’s going on behind the scenes in the lives of others, and we don’t know the stresses of their lives, but if we took the time to find out what they’re all about, instead of being critical and writing them off, we might be surprised that there is hurt in them, pain that stems back years even decades, and if we will take the time to embrace instead of chase away, their healing and pain will finally have opportunity to get healed as they will open up and allow the healing process to begin.

That’s being a Christian at its finest—being the hands and feet of Jesus. Hands that heal and feet that bring good news to others and never chase away. Amen.

There’s so much goodness in this chapter, but I don’t want to make this longer than it needs to be, and I want to include two whole stories from this chapter in this post.

Puppy & Boy

There was this older farmer who had puppies for sale so he put a sign on his fence. A boy about eight years old from across the road came over and said he wanted to buy a puppy. He then pulled out a pocket full of change and said, “I’ve got thirty-nine cents; is that enough?” 

The farmer laughed. “I don't know,” he said. “Let me count it.” He counted coin by coin. thats exactly the right amount,” he told the boy. He called to his farmhand and told him to let out the puppies. Four of the cutest little fur balls you could imagine came scurrying toward the little boy. He reached down and played with them, trying to figure out which one he wanted to buy.

Then he looked up and saw that a smaller pup was just coming down the ramp from the puppy cage in the barn. There was something wrong with the puppy’s back legs. It tried to run, but the best it could do was hobble along.

The little boy was immediately drawn to it. Without hesitation he said to the farmer, “That’s the puppy I want.”

The farmer was puzzled. He said, “No, son. You don’t want this puppy. It will never be able to run and play like the rest of the litter. There is something wrong with its back legs.”

The little boy reached down and rolled up the legs of his jeans to reveal steel braces on his legs. For the first time, the farmer noticed he wore specially made shoes.

He said to the farmer, “You see, I don’t run well either. This puppy needs someone who understands it.”

[Just take that in for a moment...]

Beloved, Joel goes on to say that this world is full of people who need to be understood. We dont know what others are going through. We dont know the hurt or the pain they have endured. They may be different and have hang-ups and do things we wouldnt do, but thats okay. Give them a little room. 

As I was retyping the story above, this thought came to me like lightning! Oftentimes we arent sure of what we want, but give it a little time, and God will make it very clear. So much so, we without hesitation will say, Thats the one I want.

[Flavio, you take those words above in for a moment...]

Gods Word speaks to such a thing, in that it says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit [trust, surrender the unknown] to him, and He will make your path [choices] straight [known]. (Proverbs 3:5-6 emphasis added).

I was overcome by tears reading about the boy and the puppy. Suddenly this thought came to me once again like lightning! I wonder if God not only places us in the lives of those, that we compliment their weaknesses with our strengths, as they compliment our weaknesses with their strengths, but also pairs us up with people who equally hurt the same, then we can embrace, love, cherish and nurture one another.

Wild Bill & The Old Deacon

Bill was a college student known for his wild hair and sloppy dress. Everyday he wore the same T-shirts with  holes, blue jeans and sandals. He didnt care to dress well, but he was a very sharp young man, a straight-A student. He was just a little different.

One day he went to a campus ministry event. His heart was touched, and Bill gave his life to Christ. The campus ministry encouraged him to get into a good church. There just happen to be one across the street from the university campus. This was a small and very formal church, very conservative, and members of the congregation dressed up for services.

You can imagine what they thought when Bill walked in late for a service the first time. The little church was packed and he couldnt find a seat. He walked down the center aisle towards the platform. He was wearing his usual tattered old T-shirt, blue jeans, and sandals. He went row by row and couldnt find a seat.

Finally Bill reached the front row, and found out there still was no place to sit, so he plopped down right on the floor in the center of the altar area. He wasnt trying to be disrespectful. He just didnt know any better. He was acting as if the church were a college classroom with no seats. 

About that time the head deacon came up from the back of the church and walked down toward Bill. This deacon was in his eighties, a very distinguished gentleman, silver hair, glasses, wearing a very expensive suit. 

He walked slowly down the aisle with his cane. There was such a commotion that the minister had to stop the sermon and wait for the head deacon to reach the front.

Everyone was thinking he was going to ask the strange young man to find another seat or leave the church. The expectation was that the disciplined eighty-year-old man would have little understanding of the ways of an undisciplined young college student.

Imagine their surprise when the head deacon stopped next to wild Bill, laid his cane down beside him, and with great difficulty lowered himself to the floor and sat next to him so he wouldnt have to sit there alone. 

At the sight of the two of them sitting side by side on the altar, the whole church erupted in applause. The minister said, The sermon you hear me speak today is one youll remember maybe for a week or two, but the sermon you just saw will be remembered for the rest of your lives!”

As I was reading the above story for the second time, once again I was overcome by tears of joy. I immediately prayed this prayer, “Father, as I read and as I yearn to grow more, I thank You for the stories and examples that forever change my life. The stories that make me cry, the lessons that make me a better man. I pray, My God, to be a difference maker as well. I so desire to be that change in someones life. That catalyst in the lives of others for the rest of my life. Use me to be that person. I am Yours. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Theres a story in the bible in (Matthew 26:6-13) that shows such an impactful sermon, that Jesus Himself, said, ‘I tell you the truth, wherever this Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.’

[Today it has been remembered and today it has been discussed.]

Beloved, what are some of the lessons you get from the two stories above, and the verses in scripture included along with them?

I believe Joel nails it completely for us. He says, our attitude should be, “God, how can I help this person come up higher? What can I do to inspire them to become better? How can I make them feel more loved, more accepted, more valuable, more secure? 

My Takeaway & Prayer:

There will always be someone who has a need, who has hurt and pain from their past and/or present. What you and I can do, is make sure we see people through eyes of love, not eyes of judgement. It doesn’t take much to console someone. It doesn’t take much to keep someone company. It doesn’t take much to be an example, to make someone feel valuable and secure. All we need to do is see people through eyes of love, not eyes of judgement.

Father, today’s message from chapter nineteen is an amazing one. It’s filled with love and lessons. Thank You for inspiring Pastor Joel Osteen to write this chapter and this book. Help us to see others through your eyes of love, and not our eyes of judgement. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

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