Archive for the ‘busyness’ Category

It’s midnight, you’re lying down, not sleeping, the blaring noise of people, music, traffic…and that damn dog barking…

At times you really want to know if God makes sense or has any relevance to the demands and structure of the life you have made. At least, you think, the busy pace of your life does numb the nightmarish thoughts you have about wasting your life.

Elijah steps into a discussion with God in 1 Kings 19:9-13. The Word on the Street puts Elijah’s perspective this way…”I’ve worked my butt off for you God…” God is the leading act in this and throws out an earthquake and a Wyoming wind before He whispers and Elijah hears him. Now, God can talk with him about what really matters in his life at this time.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Is the pace of your life keeping you from really hearing God speak to you? Are you sure you want to hear from Him? Amazon has cool noise reduction devices or you could go to a park with your Bible, but leave your laptop and phone at home…only if you are serious about hearing God speak to you.

A Critical Decision Wanting and needing others in our life remains an ongoing choice we make daily..

A part time job most often means that a person is probably committed to that job for a short time or until something better comes along. In a similar manner, we often focus on getting people to commit to a Sunday service, a small group and maybe a couple of times annually to do a service project. This usually is the determination in thinking of someone who is an active Christian.

Think about the implications of Acts 2:47. “They live in community, everything under common ownership, they sell their stuff and donate crazy amounts to the poor. Every day they are at God’s HQ reenacting Jesus’ symbolic meal, praying together, doing each other good, celebrating God. and the local’s love it!…God’s upping the numbers daily…” The Word on the Street

I know it’s practically impossible to duplicate the early church’s lifestyle. They did not have cars, internet and myriad distractions we have today; but what are we really doing to develop lifestyles that are not segmented to occasional interaction with believers and non-believers? Proverbs 14:31, 1 Corinthians 13:4 and James 1:22 further develop the direction our lives should take. This challenges the socks off of me!

It may have something to do with the compartmentalization of church as somewhere we go rather than something we do. If it is “part time involvement” we may discard it at some point. In fact, if we are really following Jesus, our few hours a week involved will be challenged by Jesus who was 24/7 involved with those he loved.

Ask God to make it absolutely clear what his agenda includes for you rather than pursuing the agenda you may have determined for yourself and your family.

A coach comes into the school and asks a simple question “Who wants to be on this team?’ The answer seems easy because you have been waiting for this coach to come to your school with this question. Ten students raise their hands. The coach is pleased then adds “practice begins at 3 AM tomorrow.” You really want to be a part of the team but most of your friends drop off the list loudly saying it’s crazy to expect anyone to be anywhere but horizontal in bed at that hour.

But you set your alarm for 2:15 and plan to be there. Why would you do that when all of your friends won’t get up until 9:00? Really it is because of your love of the game. You would do anything to be on the team and play for this coach. Can a person really love the game more than anything else?

What about loving God more than anything else? Is that a realistic question in a world with more options than ever? I mean, think about how many tech starts there are every day, how many apps show up for your phone daily, or how many sporting and music events there are to attend. Besides, you think “I will check God out next Sunday for a couple of hours.” Psalm 73:25 reveals David’s heart but is this really possible today? And Paul’s priority is seen in Philippians 1:21. But that was David and Paul, right?

So, do you want to ask God to put it into your heart to love Him more than anything or anyone else? God always takes this kind of request seriously.

Sometimes when we wake up and begin our day we are drawn to spend a few minutes with God hoping to hear a word from Him. We are refreshed and maybe even focused on how God might use us in someone’s life that day. It may be in a few minutes or a little later in the day when something happens that causes us to forget that word from God, and for the rest of the day we are trapped in a tangled web of seemingly continuous distractions.

David woke up one day in the springtime and had made a decision he never thought would have such repercussions. In 2 Samuel 11, David decides to stay home from battle and instead sends his men to confront the enemy. Later that day he sees a woman bathing and the story goes way downhill from there. He forgot that our enemy is always plotting our downfall. He forgot that he was living behind enemy lines.

The context of Jesus’ life was one in which he was always aware of being behind enemy lines. He was alert to the strategies satan uses to destroy us. Take a look at Matthew 12:14 & 15, John 7:1 and 10: 39 & 40. We need to watch out for those things, some good and some not so good, that cause us to easily forget where we are living. A wrong perspective can lead to a tragic decision that opens the door to immeasurable consequences.

How long does it take for the enemy to get you off track from what really matters?  Why not get with someone and talk about how to live in a world controlled by an enemy who never goes to bed?

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.

change

change (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I remember a time in my life when I would drive into the gas station and an attendant would come out and I would say “fill it up.” The attendant would proceed to fill my car with gas. Most of us can’t remember ever saying that.

Our culture increasingly entices us with the “must have” or “next thing” to fill or complete our life. We find ourselves saying without words, “fill me up.” Maybe we are fearful that if we spend more time thinking about God or reading the Bible He will do something in us that will change the lifestyle we have concluded is really normal and comfortable. So, without reservation we continue to buy in to the next gadget, something that will improve the appearance or our home or the latest fashion that is sure to turn eyes our way.

However, God is more persistent than we can imagine to continually pull back the veil from our eyes so we can see who He really is, what He expects and what is best for us. But just like a kid who challenges their parents who seem to have “unreasonable” expectations of them, we pursue what our culture presents to us in such an alluring way and we are not really convinced God is telling us the truth.

Psalm 46:10 and Isaiah 66:1 and 2 are a couple of verses that most of us might wish were not included in the Bible. Who has time to “be still” when “Widespread Panic”, “Sun Valley on Ice” or the endless Casino events are a short drive away. Oh, and the golf course is almost always open. Whenever God speaks to us something is going to change and we will avoid that by chasing something else that captures our focus. A lasting truth that has helped me is to realize that God always loves me and has my best interest in mind. Jeremiah 29:11 is still in the Bible.

Don’t tack on time with God, but build time with Him into the fabric of your schedule. It will change something for you but God knows what He is talking about.

Smorgasbord

Smorgasbord (Photo credit: toastforbrekkie)

We are not on the planet to focus our lives on whatever hobby, sporting event, music venue or shopping event massages our personal interest. But that is how most of us live. We have to work but just wait for the evening or weekend-it’s ours. But then, how do you think Jesus woke up every day? What was he thinking about? Oh, but that’s Jesus and he had a much larger agenda than we do.

When our diet consists of whatever we want , the result is often measureable, but is more likely very subtle. Physically  it shows up quite easily but internally it may take years to notice.

The cost to really follow Jesus is huge because it reaches into the way we think about the use of our time, how we spend our resources, where we live and more. But to settle for what we want to do, or how we want to spend our money or… means we are forfeiting everything God intended for us when he started the whole deal.

John 10:10 speaks about a thief who comes to kill and ruin everything. His focus is you and me. He tricks us with the facade of thinking we are a disciple when we show up at Christian events or by our cleaning up our language when we are there. He convinces us with “you can’t have pure thoughts all the time.” He trains our ears to hear the never ending message of a culture focused on the exact opposite of God’s never changing purpose for us.

“Debit or credit” the thief says. It doesn’t matter. It removes us from using our time and resources for what only matters.

It costs a church to make disciples but the cost not to raise up disciples who make disciples may look good from the size of the building or crowd but the culture yawns with complete disinterest.

Look at the rest of John 10:10, To do it Jesus’ way results in life better than we could ever imagine. But don’t forget Mark 8:36 and 10:17-31-a smorgasbord to remember.

Success Is Certain

Success Is Certain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The accomplishment of anything is only relevant if the matter pursued is defined correctly. A baseball player could be considered successful by getting a hit every three times at bat. A business person who closed a deal 75% of the time might be successful. What about raising a teenager, loving a spouse or mom and dad, as an employee or making disciples…? How success is defined is critical but equally critical is what it costs to succeed.

If the definition is to win, nothing else matters. Neglect of God’s priorities easily gives way to not only playing the game but in winning the game. But what if success is bringing out the best in your opponent and has nothing to do with winning?

It is never a matter of how many show up at our Christian meetings, but rather are they increasingly following Jesus? A person’s motivation and direction in life are critical components of success. Both come with costs.

Comparisons of athletic teams, economic achievements or appearances miss the point entirely. The widow who gave a couple of pennies gained the compliment from Jesus and consider Apelles in Romans 16:10 who was a “tried and true veteran in following Jesus.” Pain, confusion, frustration, darkness and failure are all costs to learn how to do life God’s way, but if we learn and live life God’s way the cost is worth it. If we achieve anything other than living as God intended, the cost is too great.

Mark 8:36, Luke 18:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:12 should cause us to carefully examine how we use our time and resources while on the planet. Would Jesus look over to the Father as he sees you or I and say “sweet, they’re getting it?”

Feeding Frenzy of Cormorants and Brown Pelican...

Feeding Frenzy of Cormorants and Brown Pelicans eddy_MdO_bluff_MG_1758-9 (Photo credit: mikebaird)

A freeway at 3 AM is usually not crowded but who commutes to work at that time? Travel down I 25 into Denver from the north later, and you will wish you set your alarm clock earlier. Our life so easily can resemble 8″O clock or 5 O’clock traffic-hectic, irritating, and stressful. Our focus at these times is on survival and not the refreshing time with Jesus in our quiet time. The hard truth is that our pace of life does not only diminish the quality of our time with God but usually eliminates it.

I once told a group of University of Wyoming football players I had an assignment harder than any they would get from their head coach. I asked them how many thought they could have a quiet time with God for 5 minutes every day for a week. The laughs were out of control as they all thought they could easily do that. The next week I asked them about it. Two did that for 2 days and a couple did it one day. No one did it every day. Why, when it was so easy? The enemy will always fight to keep us from the Word and a relationship with Jesus.

When it comes to discipling another person, we must get off the freeway and on to a back road or plan to leave earlier. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking we will develop a dynamic relationship with God or help someone else until we slow our rapid pace down.

Take some time this week to meditate on Psalm 23 and 46:10. What will you eliminate from your life to really get to know God and help others along the way?