What Are You Watching?

When my son was young, he was active. It was hard to keep him interested in anything for very long. Never one to watch a video or sit quietly in front of the TV made it challenging to keep him busy. But if road construction was happening, he would sit and watch it all day. He loved the ‘diggers’ and ‘rollers’. He got quite good at digging holes in the backyard. Anytime we were near a construction site, he would tune in. He’d just watch what was happening. Mesmerized by all the machinery he loved to watch people building things. I’ve found that to be unusual behaviour. Most people prefer to watch things fall apart rather than be built up. Cars slow down to stare at an accident. TV shows have higher ratings when people are fighting in relationships. Social media gets more traffic if people are being nasty to one another. Watching people build something or watching beauty doesn’t seem so interesting. Why is that? Our attention gets drawn to conflict and drama, yet we want peace and joy in our own lives. What if we focused more on that? What if we looked for the positive rather than the negative? “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)  What we pay attention to has an impact on our mindset and our life. Where we put our thoughts or what we think about matters. That’s not pretending as if there are no problems in life, but we don’t have to put all our energy into our difficulties. Taking time each day to consider the praiseworthy things can give us extra strength to overcome the more negative ones.

Tell them today

Are you ready for a crazy story? I have heard of stories like this before, but this one is over the top. A few weeks ago, a man in Belgium faked his own death. The mourners gathered in the cemetery to say their goodbyes and while waiting for things to begin a helicopter appeared and landed nearby. Out stepped the dead man. To say everyone was shocked would be an understatement. He says he pulled the prank to teach everyone about the importance of keeping in touch. He wanted to find out who really cared about him. So, it was a kind of test. By the way, it was all filmed for his TikTok channel. Anything for ratings, I guess. I don’t know how the family is reacting, but if it were me, I wouldn’t talk to him anytime soon. Inflicting that kind of emotional trauma on loved ones isn’t caring or thoughtful behaviour. Even if he has a good point. And there is a good point. Today is the best time to reach out and let someone know that you care for them. I have conducted many funerals over the years. People say wonderful things about the dead. I wonder if the deceased knew what others thought or how valued they were. Better to let people know when they are living than when it’s too late. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Is there someone you can reach out to today? Can you let them know how much you care for them? How important they are in your life? Why not today?

You are more important than your pet!

Last week, we took our dog to the vet. She needed minor surgery and to be checked over for general health. The anesthetic left her a little dazed and confused but she’s doing fine. I’m always amazed at the level of care that animals receive in Western culture. They really are treated as members of the family. The pet care industry is worth billions of dollars. This is not the case in many parts of the world where pets aren’t as valued. In Jesus’ day, dogs weren’t considered family as much as scavengers. We don’t read much about people keeping pets in scripture. Of course, the possible kinds of pets you can have these days range from cats, hamsters, snakes, fish, and newts. But the Bible does say that God looks after the animals. Psalm 147:9 tells us that God is concerned for all His creation, including the animals He created: “He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. In Luke 12:6 Jesus says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” At times, I think our obsession with pets is a little over the top. But if we, people with great faults, can care about animals, will not our heavenly Father care even more for us? It’s not uncommon for people to feel that no one cares or sees their situation. It’s encouraging to remember that God does. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) When feeling forgotten or when in need, we can go to our heavenly Father and ask. Don’t believe the voice saying, ‘I have no one to care for me.’ He cares for the birds and the cattle, and he cares even more about you.

Don’t Let Anger Control Things

A passenger boarded a Los Angeles to New York plane and told the flight attendant to wake him up and make sure he got off in Dallas. The passenger awoke just as the plane was landing in New York. Furious, he called the flight attendant and demanded an explanation. The attendant mumbled an apology and, in a rage, the passenger stomped off the plane. “Boy, was he ever mad!” another crew member observed to her errant colleague. “If you think he was mad,” replied the flight attendant, “you should have seen the guy I put off the plane in Dallas!” Professor David Seamands says that “Anger is a divinely implanted emotion. Closely allied to our instinct for right, it is designed to be used for constructive spiritual purposes. The person who cannot feel anger at evil is a person who lacks enthusiasm for good.” So there are times when we see injustice or cruelty and it is appropriate to get angry. Even Jesus expressed anger when he saw the condition of the temple under the money changers. However, it’s important that we control anger rather than allow anger to control us. There seem to be a lot of people these days who just love to get people angry. It’s not helpful In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:21-22) According to Jesus’ teaching, it is better to live in peace with others than to live with anger in our hearts. Anger is like yeast: only a little is needed and the bread will rise. In the same way, just a small bit of anger can have a huge effect, moving into every part of our lives, changing how we see things and stopping us from knowing true peace. Jesus encourages us to settle any matter quickly with others so that our hearts will be at peace. Don’t let anger rise in your spirit; it always has a deadly effect.