Saturday, August 01, 2015

TRY NOT TO WASTE A GOOD PROBLEM

A thing I dearly treasure about the kingdom of God system is that it works upside down and backward to most conventional wisdom.  To keep you give away is but one of many of His drastic measures.  Another is that to really live one must die to self.  Try that one on as well.

If ever a person was found to be defiant in disposition, the kingdom of God is a perfect fit.  It dares to break the code of routine and thoughtless dailiness.  And don't you know God seems to enjoy it as well.  What He calls faith in Hebrews 11 we seem to have possibly undermined that very word for our walk.  No.  We don't call those moves faith. We call them miracles.

Within that faith chapter story-lines are built on a consistent thread of premise.  A person is faced with a problem and believes God not only has the solution; but believes God will provide it as well.  In this entire glorious chapter, not one believer wasted a good problem.

If we believers in God are found to be whiners, moaners, and complainers, no wonder the community brushes us off as fake.  Our problem is not that Jesus has no affect on our neighbors.  Our problem is that we waste good problems by failing to see that God works precisely in these conditions to show His valiant skills.

So what do we do with legitimate problems (for they do exist in abundance among us)? How do we not waste them?

We faithfully move about believing everything is working for good (Romans 5:1-5, 8:28).  We are not on earth to build personal empires.  We are here to love God and others.  Our authentic world is about those two entities.  What happens to us, then, has two-fold meaning; (1) what a stage to praise God and (2) what a moment to learn how others hurt so that we can better serve them in their stresses.

Some of the harshest and most disastrous moments in my history have proven to give me deeper and more sensitive understanding toward those who sit in my office overwhelmed by stresses.  We are advantaged by struggles to be more effective in assisting the next oncoming struggler.

Pain and suffering and perplexity are not about us.  They are always about lessons to be learned in order to help our neighbor.  So, dear and kind friend, don't waste a good problem.  But go to school on it.

Learn.  Adjust.  Before long, one may ring your doorbell with their new problem.  And you will be able to coach them to take a look at such from the hillside of being blessed in order to help their neighbors as well.


Friday, July 31, 2015

A BOOK THAT MIGHT GIVE YOU A MUCH-NEEDED BOOST

Frustration knows no boundaries.  Social class?  Ethnicity?  Education?  Profession? Politics?  Every participant in all of these divisions tend to suffer immensely from discouragement.  Particular groups are not the cause of it.  The fallen life is.

The only reason I would think to address this topic is because my life has been plagued by the nagging struggles of trying to be on top, or in control, or having a grip on this element called a 24-hour day.  I love life while it chews me up and wears me down here and there along the way.

Jesus is the answer.  Of course he is.  But how?  The how is found in his thinking approach.  Men and women will discover the wonder of God (I Cor. 2:9) when we can dethrone our human perspective (I Cor. 2:14) and then take on the mind of Jesus (I Cor. 2:16).  What makes Jesus the successful answer compared to our failing exasperation is found in one place; his mind.

We are exhorted to begin to think like he thinks.

So stroll through the gospels.  Watch him.  Listen to him.  Note encounters with the helpless as well as with the critics.  Note adapting flexibility of his mind.  That's to be our procedure.  Think.

So much of the time we just want.  We want things to improve; to go better.  Want can be good; but to think launches us into a new world.  It is a new hope.  Thinking discovers potential, probability, and possibility that wanters don't realize just might be a-prowl.

Therefore, I recommend a book.  While it isn't a religious one, it is certainly about faith.  In walking through some treacherous and deflating times lately, it seems coincidentally weird that I'm reading concepts that are surely found in the mind of Christ.

A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger, for me, is a perfect seminar in book form.  Sample comments:

  • The comfortable expert must go back to being a restless learner.
  • The glut of knowledge has another interesting effect, as noted by author Stuart Firestein: It makes us more ignorant.
  • If you don't have that disposition to question, says John Seely Brown, you're going to fear change.  But if you're comfortable questioning, experimenting, connecting things--then change is something that becomes adventure.  And if you can see it as adventure, then you're off and running.
  • It is not easy for a company to move away from what it has done in the past.  The consultant Jack Bergstrand of Brand Velocity thinks  one of the most important questions  companies should ask regularly is "What should we stop doing?"  Company leaders naturally tend to focus on what they should "start" doing.  Bergstrand notes that coming to terms with what you're willing to eliminate is always harder.  Yet if you can't answer that question, he maintains, "it lessens our chances of being successful at what you want to do next--because you'll be sucking up resources doing what's no longer needed and taking those resources away from what should be top priority.
Maybe this book would give you a boost where you lead.  It seems to be God-timed for me.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

WHY SIN DOESN'T FEEL LIKE A CHOICE

Even in church the concept of sin gets only vague recognition.  It seems to be more of a theological topic to be debated rather than noted as sheer rebellion spewing from the heart of man.  Before you sense this is a power-fisted rant by a squint-eyed preacher, wait.

This is not a rant.  It is an explanation hoping to help each of us who feel shackled by pushy forces larger than ourselves.  I include foremost myself.

Sin isn't an element of nasty or vulgar and only a few (well, okay, a lot) have it.  Sin is sweeping devastation intending to eradicate the hopes and dreams of every heart.  It is vicious.  It is cunning.  It is destructive.  It is also gigantic in measure as well as strength.

The overwhelming nature of sin goes basically undefined.  It isn't a breeze.  It is a tornado.  It isn't a kitten.  It is a wounded tiger.  It isn't sneeze.  It is an epidemic.  It isn't an itch.  It is a terminal disease.

And this is my point.  Sin is so overwhelming that it seldom feels like a choice.  Instead, it feels like what?  It feels like we can't help it.

We can't help it, we say.  Varying according to sins, the cries of self-defense can be heard seemingly before the words are uttered.  Some can't help it that they are addicted to porn.  Others can't help it because they are gay.  Yet, others can't help it because they are overrun by the thirst for greed.

Why is it that if God calls anything sin that man tries to call it a matter with which we were born?  It isn't because God doesn't know His creation.  Rather it is because the very core of sin has been dismissed.  (Again, I'm not yelling.  I'm wishing to open our minds as to what is happening to all of us.  I need this.)

Sin has been marketed and bought into as devastating only when someone else is committing an act that we would never commit.  When it comes to those sins like mine? Oh, those.  Those are the ones that we just can't help.  And, religious people just seem to be so narrow and closed-minded (when it comes to sins like mine).

If we are to get a glimpse of rugged sin we need only look at the rugged cross.  Jesus didn't die so that kiddies could have Sunday School artwork.  He faced the most ferocious, life-sucking villain ever; my sin/our sin.  And he won.

Sins (our personal ones) often feel like we don't have a choice.  But we do.  We have been relieved of this conflict.  This doesn't call for understanding of how it works as much as it insists on obedience to God when, truthfully and often, we just don't get it.

It is sin's vicious power and violent strength that go undetected.  We hardly note that we've been sucked into a falsehood of believing that whether gossip or thievery or any other sin, that God calls sin, have been dismissed as a matter of, we just couldn't help it/we didn't have a choice.

This is the temptation I have.  I wondered if any of you feel the same.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

TRY NOT TO WASTE YOUR "ALWAYS ON THE GO"

We huff and we puff.  We sigh and we moan.  So much to do.  So much ground to cover. On top of that there's God.  He wants us to be on the move it seems.

We each are called to GO into all of the world.  Where exactly would that mean? Singapore?  London.  West Africa?

The call of God can become so easily dismissed because our going basically is in America and, more fundamentally, within a hundred mile radius.  Somehow the church GO has felt like a foreign territory of sorts.  Yet, it isn't limited to such.

What is one of the elements of our lives where we hear a bit of sighing; even complaint?  Listen to us.  I am so tired.  It seems like I am always on the go.  Always? On the GO?  Yes.  Always on the go.  Do you think that if we could transform our way of life already into His call for our lives missionally that we might be striking at a strong spiritual chord of need and opportunity?

Since we are on the go, we are to use such travels for the glory of God.  How could/would this look?
Here are possibilities:
  1. Through prayer
  2. Through invitation
  3. Through interest
  4. Through natural connections (work/family/recreation)
  5. Through study
  6. Through counseling
  7. Through community projects
  8. Through checking on the ill
  9. Through surprising with a plate of cookies
  10. Through inquiry as to how their day is going
  11. Through media encouragement
  12. Through noticing people everywhere we turn need support
Here are the opportunities:
  1. Kitchen tables
  2. Company picnics
  3. Sports events
  4. Doctor's office waiting rooms
  5. Car tags waiting rooms
  6. Hospital visits
  7. Praying for a neighbor
  8. Meeting waiters and waitresses
  9. Attending school events
  10. Donating to causes when the doorbell rings by seeing a wonderful person looking at you
  11. Seeing people everywhere you turn; believing that one day they will want to know God.
  12. Observing high-profile and public servants as to how they must be drained and need a lift.
Not surprisingly, GO is an outward direction.  If we could move the church outward, we would cure many of the churches inward ailments.  People are not happy when they (1) are not productive, and when they (2) are focused inwardly.  The reverse brings satisfaction and joy.  And...God is certainly for the latter two.

Try not to waste your ALWAYS ON THE GO.  Such is a significant kingdom matter.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

WHAT CAN BE?

We have great need today.  It's always been this way.  That's why we like discovery. There remains a thirst for breakthrough.  And, often we experience it.  Such reports are exhilarating.  And we want more.

James Pollard Espy was eighteen years old.  Still unable to read or write at such an age, he was for some reason wowed when hearing the orator Henry Clay.  After the talk, Espy tried to make his way to his idol.  The crowds hindered.  A friend yelled across the crowd for Espy, He wants to be like you, even though he can't read.

Mr. Clay grabbed one of his posters which had CLAY in large letters.  You see that boy?  That's an A.  Now, you've only got twenty-five more letters to go.  Within a year, he started college and later became a great pioneer of meteorology.

This is not only the kind of story that we love; it is reality.

This is where we live.  What can be?  Adventure can be.  Learning can be.  Opportunity can be.  Success can be.  Overcoming failure can be.  Overcoming disappointment can be.  Starting life over can be.

The past, regardless of pros or cons, advantages us in both the present and the future. We are not like Rocky Balboa in his series of movies where the opponent couldn't put him away.  We are more.  We are like Jesus (from cross to grave to resurrection); you can put us away...but we will be back.

That, my friend, is what can be.  With God, all things are possible...Luke 1:37.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

GOD'S "START-OVER" FACTOR

How many of us live in what seems to be a self-imposed prison.  On any given day some of us could use that infamous get out of jail card.  Some days are tough.

A divinely fascinating thing I find to be true of God is that He lives to bring us great rescue; ultimate joy.  The grand stories from beginning to end of the Bible are of some of His people in trouble.  And then...and then there is the impossible rescue.

Sometimes we feel stumped.  Other times we feel trapped by life's unfair circumstances; even if we brought much of it on ourselves.  It seems that we believe that we will reach a point (or an age) where we have life under control.  But we never quite reach that peak.

Enter: God's "Start Over" factor.

It is God that calls us to be new, presents us as new, and perpetuates?  You've got it. New!

At whatever age one is, the new-birth effect is in play.  Tried and failed?  Try again. Believed and failed?  Believe again.  Risked and failed?  Risk again.

The Kingdom of God isn't for losers for in the kingdom there are no losers.  Because of one brilliant move--Jesus coming back from the dead (starting over in essence)--we have been supplied with a gift far too good to be true.

W E  G E T  T O  B E G I N  T O D A Y  A S  I F  W E  W E R E  N E W L Y  B O R N (again)!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

YOU CAN DO MORE THAN SWIM WITH ONE TOE ON THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL

The swimming pool possesses great wisdom.  It has a call all of its own.

Let go!  Take your toe off of the bottom.  Don't be afraid.  Let go!  You can do it!  Try again!  Let go!  Trust yourself for more than a life of trying to swim with your toe on the bottom!  Don't be afraid!

This is the code of life: one can let go of the bossy fear and begin to swim or one can be limited to hopping about in the shallow zones of life while always envying those at the deeper end.  Safety comes from one end of the pool; robust laughter from the other.

I spent too many years suited up for the swim of life.  Yet, fear sunk me.  Afraid of failure, I played it safe.  Adventure was that thing that I admired in others at the deeper end; but it wasn't for me because I was bent on living from the shallow end of the pool.  From there I could wish; but I could not celebrate.

I found mystery to be torpedoed by explanation.  Adventure was sabotaged by the unyielding ruts of playing it safe.

The time comes when one simply has to make the leap.  We must let go of the ties that bind.  When we begin to realize that our spirits are not earthbound, something seems to open our senses to the Land of More.  This partly explains addictions; the craving for more than this.

Somewhere along the way we will want to consider moving from the shallow end of life to the deeper experience.  The transition takes place when we allow the Spirit of God to work with our spirit.  We move from crawling to soaring.

God is more than us going to church and quietly sitting in rows.  We are called to the greatest journey ever.  We are called to do more than we can do.  This call can either inhibit or thrill.  I say we vote favorably for the thrill.  I say we give ourselves a vote of confidence that since we are already suited up for life....why not dare to move out into the deep?

Psalm 46:10.  Let go...and let God.