Archive for August, 2013

change

change (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

We all know that a good coach who cares about their players will always be committed to helping a young man or woman learn a better way of playing the game. It might  be correcting a batting stance, or how to hold the football when running or how to grip the tennis racket. However, to improve you must cooperate with the coach’s instructions.

God started the whole process of life on the planet and created us to live in a way that would not only bring glory to himself but would also enable us to enjoy life as he intended it to be lived. The enemy got wind of this and ruined the whole deal. Every since, Jesus has been working to restore us to that original plan.

However, for us to see change in our life whether it is in relating to people, knowing the right direction to take, having the right perspective of who God is, or whatever needs to change in us, we must cooperate with God. This means among other things we must take the classes he tells us to enroll in. We would rather these classes be electives but they are part of the curriculum. Some of these classes are Pain, Darkness, Confusion, Frustration and Anger, and the Unexpected. If we seek to learn as we take these classes, we will begin to see change in our life. If we don’t cooperate with God, we probably will have to take the class over.

Colossians 2:6 and 3:1-10 show that we must focus on what is worthwhile and make the decision to get rid of the dark secrets and habits that have gotten us nowhere. Jesus is offering us freedom from the jails we have been locked in but we must cooperate with him.

Do you want to change?

Driving a car while texting can cause us to run a red light or fail to slow to the 25 mph posted speed limit or even worse… Our enemy has any number of strategies to cause us to take our eyes off of the prize. Some are so obvious like an affair, taking the change out of the tip jar or “relaxing” with the new video game for 3 hours. But he is more subtle than we imagine. After all, he has a few years on us.

So he just distracts us, and our understanding of life and how it is to be lived becomes distorted. It doesn’t happen overnight but day be day it is reinforced. Our normal seems to have changed from what we would not be caught dead being involved in to a more consistently accepted practice. The damage the enemy does today comes wrapped in deceptive packages that appear as good, right, or normal accepted ways of looking at life.

Regardless, while we become absorbed in these distortions we miss the freedom we long for and the resulting peace that comes from living as God created us when all of this started. Remember, satan was the voice in the dark alley selling a lie to our original parents. They bought it as do we much too frequently.

1 Peter 5:8 will never be found in the “upcoming events” section of the local newspaper, it will not be tweeted nor will there be a U Tube video of how he sneaks up and destroys life. And 1 John 2:15,16 reveals  a built in design flaw of satan’s strategy that is not easily seen unless we take a daily walk with Jesus.

Weapons of Mass Distraction

Weapons of Mass Distraction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flirting with Disaster (film)

Flirting with Disaster (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes our relationship with God resembles someone who wants something on their own terms. It’s sort of fun to listen to worship music and then go to that movie you wouldn’t invite your grandmother to come to with you. The Tuesday Bible study group is great because it’s interesting discussion and they serve great snacks but you always forget where you put your Bible as you prepare to go the next week. What the spank is going on here?

We’re just flirting with God! But at least we’re showing up at the study and we have 3rd Day on our Pandora play list. God did not speak us into existence so we could check into him every now and then. Flirting is a common game played by people who really have no intention of developing a meaningful relationship with a person. It’s just fun we say. Flirting can lead to disaster between two people but what about with God? What happens when we occasionally give God some attention? This “beyond extremely shallow” relationship with God, like the game we play with people, will not give us the freedom and full life Jesus promises us.

The people showed up one afternoon to listen to Jesus, they might get a free meal, but what they got was a description of what it really meant to follow Him and all but a handful got out of there as quickly as they could. Seriously look at John 6:47-67 and 8:31&32 and think about whether you are flirting with Jesus. If we act on what Jesus says, then and only then will we know the truth about who God is, how we can make life work, and be set free from the traps of the enemy.

Flirting with God is like partial obedience, in which you are only willing to go so far. In 1 Samuel 15 there is the story of Saul and what his “flirting” resulted in. Don’t settle for anything less than an uncompromising relationship with God.

An In-N-Out Double-Double cheeseburger in narr...

An In-N-Out Double-Double cheeseburger in narrow depth-of-field focus with a second burger and fries blurred in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know, what you and I might be prone to say is that we want both the fries and the cheeseburger. But the cheeseburger is the main part of the meal and the fries are on the side. That is always true except at a restaurant  in Boise, Idaho. At Boise Fry the burger is on the side and the fries are the big deal.

We easily live life in ways that show what we believe is mandatory and what is optional. One thing Jesus was consistent with was to regularly turn our thinking upside down. Just when we thought we knew what was right, Jesus would redefine it. “One thing you lack…” he told a wealthy man who thought he was tracking with Jesus. Or how many times did you read about him saying “you have heard it said, but I say…”?

Churches have many names for small groups of people who gather to talk, eat and study together. But it soon becomes clear that these are optional, maybe like the fries on the burger menu. The early Jesus followers knew nothing of this. Acts 2:43-47 opens a world to us that most of us have never experienced. Can you really live like this and have relationships that don’t just consist of a 2 hour meeting? It can be experienced but the group must be treated as the main course. To share life with others means getting dirty together, laughing and crying together, being available 24/7. A knock on the door at 12:30 AM is never seen as an intrusion to your privacy but rather is an opportunity to be Jesus to your friend. There is great cost but the freedom that comes from not being in control is of immeasurable value. God gives us the opportunity to enter these most meaningful relationships. and the world is starving to see it too.

Who do you think would love to make a group like this the main course with you? Ask them!

Kingdom of Comfort

Kingdom of Comfort (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I didn’t mean it to go this far.” “If I had only known what I know now…” Common and too often statements made by someone who strolls leisurely through life with beautifully disguised traps placed by out enemy that suck us in and destroy our life. They vary, but the intention of the enemy is to disable us from enjoying God and focusing on things that matter most.

There is nothing wrong with being comfortable but when we are following Jesus, he has a way of leading us into conversations or situations that challenge us to take risks that are essential for a life that is directed by God.

Think about  David’s life as king. In 2 Samuel 11 David after sending his men into battle, is perhaps bored and just starts looking for something to do. Having spotted a woman who was stunning he knows his usual nap will be anything but usual. You can read the rest of the periilous story that not only wrecked his life but others as well.

We never know or believe what consequences are put into motion by our focus on living a comfortable lifestyle. Focus is the key word here because when we are committed to doing everything we can to escape any discomfort, we are in danger. David did recover from his sin and God even called him a man after his heart.(Acts 13:22)

Be careful to not make comfort, security, or safety a part of your definition of a meaningful or successful life. These are cleverly disguised traps to keep you and I from what God knows is best for us.

Time

Time (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_IN_SEPTEMBER)

We have calendars on the wall, on our laptops and phones. They record where and when we are supposed to hang with Bill or Claire. Our concerts, football games, kid’s soccer games increasingly take our time. Our hobbies, personal recreation time and movies all garner a high priority. The August 7-13 Boise Weekly publicatiion had at least 75 happenings for the week. I stopped counting at 75. There is nothing wrong with any of these things unless…

A focus on developing a meaningful relationship with Jesus and helping others learn how to also walk with God and how to pass that on to others allows us to have the time to do what Jesus said life is all about. To not miss the trip God promises to be better than the “Dirty Deck Party Weekend”, we have to get our “life focus” right. It doesn’t mean we can’t dance with our buds but we’re gonna make time for God and others. The problem is we like play rather than war and believe me it is a battle to really make a difference in someone’s life.

2 Timothy 2:3 and 4 in the Word on the Street reminds us to “…use your gifts God’s given you since you connected with the Liberator, Jesus…Tough it out with us…Trained combat teams don’t get sucked into the daily soap opera of normal life. And verse 17 adds “keep on track with your training. You’re convinced, so carry on focused.” The truth is we don’t really believe there is a war that our enemy wages 24/7. And if we do, it is easy to believe it is for others to fight, not us because it might alter our lifestyle.

But if God always has our best interest in mind and loves us and Jesus always told the truth, to not enlist in this battle means we will miss the most significant trip of our life. We’ll have to live with knowing we poured our life down a rat hole if we don’t make time for what really matters.

Success

Success (Photo credit: aloshbennett)

I imagine you have said it yourself or your kids have said it one too many times. You are only 30 minutes in the trip that is going to take several hours and you or they ask “are we there yet?” Our questions and thinking always reflect what we believe is important or how we are putting the pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

A church (which is made up of a bunch of people) is successful not when you can’t find a seat, or the new building is now completed or the number of programs has exceeded the number of days in a typical month. The criteria for evaluating success should not be how many but rather what kind. Are people learning how to be real (honest) with each other, involved in consistently sharing life together, and is their life arousing curiosity from those who intersect their life?

People all over the world are looking for people who will be up front with them, genuinely care about spending time with them and who are figuring out how to eliminate the attractive and myriad distractions that choke the life out of them.

The Thessalonians were impacting people all over the place. They had become the daily headlines in the newspapers. If it were today, word of their changed lives would have gone viral on the internet. Twitter wouldn’t have had enough room to list all of the tweets about how they were focused on what really mattered. Check out 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

Get some coffee or a beer with someone this week and talk about this.