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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reacting or responding

by Nelson Roth
You’ve probably been to the doctor’s office and have experienced what happens when the doctor strikes that tiny reflex hammer just below your kneecap.  Uncontrolled action, right?  

In a similar way, the things of life, whether positive or negative can trigger uncontrolled actions.  Hasty decisions or negative reactions are often the result.  In a time like this, you have a choice to either react or respond.

Last week, Pam wrote in her article that being centered brings balance in our lives.  How then can we experience balance more often?  When the things of life come our way like the reflex hammer, how can we keep from reacting with uncontrolled actions?  

When it comes to being centered there is another choice.  Being centered is about who’s in the center - self or God.  You can live your life, take action, and make decisions based on either being self centered or God centered.  In their book, Lead like Jesus, the authors Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges use an acrostic to explain EGO, saying that we can either - Edge God Out or we can Exalt God Only.   Who is in the center of your life - self or God?

Is there something like a reflex hammer striking in a sensitive area of your life?  Is career, relationships, finances, ministry, health, or an unexpected event causing quick, uncontrolled action?  If that’s happening you have the choice of either putting self or God in the center - running from God or to God, reacting or making right responses.  Running to God when we have those reflex hammer experiences - is the right response.  When we get centered in God, it helps to bring stability and balance in our lives.

In John chapter 15:1-10, Jesus told a great story about being centered - He called it abiding in the vine.  The word abide is used ten times in these verses.  Abiding means to continue, to remain - to be centered.   Note that being centered in God includes Jesus. Previously in John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and My Father are one.”

May I call out three observations I have made in this passage in John?  

  1. We all need God and Jesus.  He said “I am the vine, you are the branches … without Me you can do nothing.”
  2. God and Jesus love you, He says so in verse nine.  He is faithful and will always be available.  He also says, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”  He has already made the choice to abide.  No matter what, He will be there, you can count on Him.
  3. So, God and Jesus will abide - now, the matter of abiding or being centered in Him is up to you.  Jesus uses the word “if” in verse seven, “If you abide in me”.  To abide is your choice, and if you abide, you will be centered in God.  
Getting back to the analogy of the doctor's examination with the reflex hammer - physically it's a good thing to have quick reflexes; however, in the things of life and the choices they bring, we want to be careful to not react; but to make right responses by being centered in God.

Question: What is striking in your life like a reflex hammer and what choices are before you?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

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  1. Interesting that you ask such questions. At this point, I'm not sure I can form the words that adequately describe what is striking my life. Maybe soon. :)

  2. Imagine what might have happened had Nehemiah "reacted" rather than waiting to "respond." Romans 3:27-28 (The Message) What we've learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We've finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.


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