We live in a very interesting time. There are people chopping off heads & think that’s entirely acceptable & even praiseworthy – weird. This week had the 2nd blood moon in a year – also unusual. Furthermore, Ebola is now being compared to AIDS for its potential devastation to humanity value – yikes! And then lots of people think we are in the end times of the world – that God is wrapping up the human experience to move into a new era of life.
I think we live in strange times, for sure. But with that being said, there are some important things to keep in mind:
*God is still in control & God is love (a very good combination)
*lets be sure to stay fresh & intense with our prayer life
*be careful not to let fear control your thinking or outlook
Our modern culture applauds tolerance with great conviction. We are strongly encouraged to tolerate all kinds of diversity (spicy food, GF diets, people with different ideas, age diversity, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicity, religion etc). In general, I think that tolerance is a nice idea but sometimes it’s application can get hazy. For example:
truth will never tolerate deception & vice versa (antonyms are inherently intolerant)
intimacy will never tolerate violence
genuine love will never tolerate indifference or apathy
While I think that tolerance is a nice idea, let’s not think that it should be the guiding principle nor conviction for our daily living. Tolerance should never replace genuine love
There are alot of things in our lives that have expectations: job descriptions, social behaviors, standardized tests, . . . . We put alot of expectations on ourselves about how a person should act, look, dress, speak, etc and I think that sometimes, Christianity or religion can be a really tricky “filter”. Looking like a Christian, talking like a Christian, dressing like a Christian doesn’t make a person a follower of Jesus. We can match up to all of the external expectations but in our hearts, we can be a million miles away from the reason Jesus died for us. The reason Jesus died for us was not merely to make our external image appealing, but moreseo to transform what’s on the inside of us. The defining distinctive Jesus identifies as being His follower is our love for each other (John 13:35). Loving well is very important
“YOU SHOULDN’T DO THAT!!!!” When we were growing up, you probably heard that a few times, as did I. Now that I’m an adult, I still hear those words in my mind sometimes. “You shouldn’t be driving so fast! You shouldn’t be sarcastic, you shouldn’t be so casual, you shouldn’t . . . . . ”
In religion, there’s lots of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” – we wishfully think that the right behavior will fix everything. From my perspective, this kind of thinking is like putting peacock feathers on a cow: accessorizing the external in an attempt to deny or compensate for the internal.
More than we realize our beliefs shape our behavior, so perhaps we would be better to consider what we believe as the first step. Yucky beliefs and thinking always result in yucky words and actions
It seems to me that most of us like things clean & shiny more than we like the work & effort that goes into making something shiny & clean. Yesterday, my kids & I cleaned out some of our garage. Needless to say, I found lots of undesirable junk (half eaten otter pops, sticks that were used as swords, an ancient waffle iron, wood planks, etc). After lots of sweeping, washing, moving, organizing, etc, part of our garage is not longer a hazardous waste dump
Sometimes, I think we need to do the deep cleaning work in our thinking, values, time usage & relationships. Life gets filled with clutter over the course of time & it’s tremendously helpful to declutter our lives from time to time so that we manage our time, money & energies to reinforce our central & timeless priorities – shiny clean
I read this morning about some high school seniors pranks in NJ who have been arrested for pranking their high school last night. Now I can’t really say that their behavior would fall into the “civil disobedience” category because it’s May, they’re seniors & might have possibly watched “Ferris Bueller”. With that being said, I also read this morning in Acts 5 about how Peter & some of his friends disobeyed the direct commands of the Jewish leaders by preaching about Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem, shortly after Pentecost & Jesus’ resurrection. In verse 29, Peter told these Jewish leaders they he had to obey God rather than man.
There’s a place & time for civil disobedience & some expressions of rebellion are even condoned by the Bible:
It’s not ok to passively watch someone get hurt or bullied.
It’s not ok to follow popular culture when it conflicts with loving God & loving people.
It’s not ok to blindly do what’s popular, trendy or hip.
It’s not ok to compromise your God-given identity to blend in for social acceptance.
Particularly when we are confronted with compromise, social acceptance and even being politically correct, let’s make it our fundamental priority to please God, end of story, full stop.
I’ve made some really dumb mistakes in my life – one of which was overvaluing intelligence. I think it’s almost humorous that I would say that because I’m still a massive advocate for education probably because I love to learn. Nevertheless, here are a few things that could be more important than being intelligent:
*character & integrity – people who are smart but lack character & integrity can be extremely dangerous!
*compassion – intelligence without compassion is very cold & sterile
*hard work – this seems pretty self evident
*forgiveness – when we don’t forgive, our world becomes increasingly smaller & smaller
These are just a few things I’m learning in my journey
Holy Cow! That was Jeroboam’s solution to help him stay in power as the king of Israel, even though God had obviously put him in this position. I was reading this morning (1 Kings 7) about how God spoke to Jeroboam through a prophet & told him that he was going to be the king of Israel. When Jeroboam became the king, he got really jittery about keeping his power & decided that his kingdom needed it’s own set of gods, festival days, worship routines, etc that would exclude anything from the Temple in Jerusalem or the worship of the true God, as outlined by Moses.
Jeroboam was put in the position of king by God’s power but he didn’t stay long because he decided to trust in his own methods & efforts rather than trusting in God. In my thinking, there’s no staying power of any lasting value that doesn’t include trusting in our Triune God
It’s always a great pleasure to find things that we look for. One time, I lost my wedding ring for like 2years. When we found it, there was MUCH REJOICING!!
Be mindful of the things for which you seek.
If you’re looking for popularity, you’ll find it & probably be disappointed.
If you’re looking to be wealthy, you might discover that money isn’t everything you thought it would be.
If you’re looking for success, you might find that it’s nothing more than a cat-and-mouse chase.
If you’re looking for applause & affirmation, you might discover that it costs more than it’s worth
If you look for God’s kingdom more than anything else, then everything else will fall in your lap
I read this morning something important about building a house & considering that I’m not very good at construction stuff, I tried to pay good attention. Sometimes I think we get really zeroed in on things that we can see, at the expense of things that aren’t as obvious. But very often, it is exactly the things that we can’t see that have the biggest affects on our lives (thoughts, emotions, faith, etc).
In Luke 6, Jesus gave a short story about being mindful of digging a very deep & settled foundation well before we ever try to deal with things that are observable. Lets be careful to keep deep foundations in Jesus first before we try to look & be cool
I’m laughing as I write this blog because I might possibly be the least prepared person you’ll ever meet. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found some definite disadvantages to the “leap before you look” approach, having gotten myself into all sorts of challenging situations, especially when you consider all of the variables that can go with any kind of international travel. With all that being said, I’m becoming an ever increasing advocate of being prepared & this also applies to the area of my connection with God.
In my experience, I know that God is altogether gracious with me & far exceeds any of my best efforts & I’m crazy grateful for God’s grace to me everyday! While I totally appreciate God’s grace, I’ve also come to the conclusion that my relationship with God seems to have more depth, gravity and fullness when I maintain a few preparation things:
go to bed early so I can get up early & spend time with God
talk with God throughout the day – more inclusion & less exclusion / isolation
understand that God’s connection with me spans the entire spectrum of uber shallow to depths of which I have yet to explore
fresh forgiveness – super important to keep a clean heart
unified prioritites: seeing all of the various responsibilities that I have within the context of God using them to improve & enhance my relationship with God
have a prepared mindset that God can do any thing at any time
I’m taking my kids to their bank today in an effort to continue their education in fiscal responsibility. They each have their savings accounts & we get to discuss the benefits of saving, the importance of tithing & the value of making informed purchases rather than impulse buying. None of this seems like rocket science, but these excursions always help to remind me of these essential lessons in money management. Which brings me to the point that everyday is filled with opportunities to learn, grow, change & improve – all based on our outlook & cooperation.
Dear Sarah, don’t fight the lessons
We probably have fairly similar lives with lots of demands & responsibilities – maybe yours are different than mine, but we usually have lots of things to juggle (kids’ schedules, saving Moses, workload concerns, personal goals, family dynamics, church things, . . . .). You probably have a similar list & I’ve often had people ask me for ideas on how to balance everything. If I’m honest, there are times when I don’t balance everything well & some things get short changed, which I hate.
But lately, I’ve found it really helpful to nestle into “one thing” – the essential & continuous priority that permeates everything (sleeping, eating, cooking, errands, conversations, work, blogging, thinking, planning, . . . . . ). My “one thing” is to know Jesus and I want everything that I do to be infused with this “one thing” – Luke 10:42. “One thing” doesn’t mean that I drop everything, but it means that as I go throughout each day with its diverse demands and responsibilities, my “one thing” continues and remains