Archive for the ‘Perspective’ Category

One day in my basement a number of guys were sitting around when one of them asked “how long?” Another quickly said “not long.” That exchange went back and forth for what seemed like 5 minutes. It became so funny that the room exploded in uncontrolled laughter.

Some things have a humorous ending while others don’t, and seem to go on beyond what seems like unreasonable time limits. Perspective is a large factor in determining our irritation, our disheartened attitude or our patient waiting. So with a wrong perspective, we often ask the question “how long?”

God has some things to say about waiting: Psalm 27:14 challenges us to be strong and encouraged to wait for God to act; Isaiah 64:4 promises that God will act when we wait for him; Lamentations 3:26 reminds us to wait quietly for God to work his plan in and for us. Quietly can mean that we stop scheming how to make something work and wait for God to do it.

I remember memorizing Psalm 37:4. I loved finding this verse because I knew I could wait a while and God would come through and give me my desire. But delighting in the Lord turned out to be quite a learning process that continues to this day. And one thing I learned along the way is that God may change your desire into another but he still is faithful to fulfill the promise.

Then there are some desires that remain and the challenge is to continue to delight in the Lord. If God always has my best in mind, why is it so hard to wait year after year? It’s worth it even when God takes us on a highway we never planned on being on. As it turns out, there is quite a lot of incredible scenery on the track God leads us on. It’s easy to miss when we want our desires to be fulfilled on our timetable.

If we are growing as a follower of Jesus, we all experience times when God seems to have left town on a cruise. We’re not sure how to trust him as our dark night goes on and on. Maybe God is hiding or a more damaging thought creeps in telling us maybe he was never there in the first place. The truth is we will neither understand how God works throughout the world nor in our life developing our trust in.him.

Hebrews 13:8 is a huge statement because we learn that God cannot change who he is…ever. He is not hiding but trying to teach us something in the darkness that we can’t learn in the light. Trust is only wasted when the object being trusted in is unreliable. We must learn that trust in God is essential for developing a relationship that is not based on what we can see but on when we can’t see our hand in front of us.

Have you come to a place where you can agree with Jeremiah as he loudly says in Jeremiah 32:17 “…you created earth and sky by your great power-by merely stretching out your arm! There is nothing you can’t do?” Something in our relationship with God deepens when we think he is hiding in the dark but learn by trusting him that he never changes and is present in that darkness.

Paul echoes this in 2 Corinthians 1:8 & 9 and 9:8. Listen to how trust was developed in Paul-“The West Turkey trip was a total nightmare! Everything hit the fan…we were comparing notes on our funeral services…you know he”s the only one who can get you going again.” ( Word on the Street) In 9:8 Paul adds that God is with us to enable us to be ready for anything (especially in darkness).

So, the adventure takes us into the most unlikely places and situations where darkness tries to choke out our confidence in God but is a mere whisper compared to the volume of God’s voice in reassuring us that this is where we learn.

Are you unsure about God’s faithfulness because nothing is making sense with…? Allow God to change that darkness into something you never thought possible.

A couple has been told they will have a new baby boy but everything changes when they have identical twins. Life just got complicated as they try to understand how they are going to know who’s who as the boys grow up.

No one likes to be confused about anything, especially when it comes to knowing God better. Once again however, God knows the teachers that open our hearts more completely to knowing him. Sometimes in life it seems God is changing the rules when in reality he is helping us understand events or situations that don’t make sense to us. We easily become confused.

It is easy during these times to want to run, hide or not deal with developing a more meaningful relationship with God. We played our best cards but the numbers on them seem to have changed and we’re totally confused. It’s hard enough getting to know God when life seems to cooperate.

Consider Job and his situation. Doing everything right, you would think it would be rewarded appropriately by God. But that’s not exactly the script God used in teaching something valuable to Job. And, that didn’t make sense to Job. Job 37:4 and 5 shows how God at times does things that “stagger our understanding” and can easily become confusing.

As confused as Job might have been, he comes to a completely different conclusion in Job 42:5. Consider The Word on the Street  “I’d heard rumors of your reputation. Now I have seen you with my own eyes, and I’m dying of embarrassment at my attitude. I take it all back, every question, every accusation. Sorry, it won’t happen again.”

The next time you have identical twins or just get confused by what is or is not happening in your life, remember “God’s methods are not in any of our manuals.”

I was sitting down for lunch with two bowls of rice. One had some lamb curry mixed with it and the other an Indian lentil mix. My wife Frannie, asked if I was going to eat all of it. I reasoned that if I ate half of one and half of the other I could have the two Baby Ruth nuggets for a snack later because I would not be full with the rice. So I told her “1/2 + 1/2 = 2.” She didn’t get it so I explained my reasoning. It made some sense to her but also sounded weird.

But think about how God’s perspective often differs from ours. Something happens and we ask God a question but we are not prepared for His response. It seems to come from “left field.” We’re not prepared for how God views life or the issues, problems or questions that arise as we stumble our way through an often messed up life.

It made sense to me to say that one half plus one half equaled two. It did not to Frannie or probably to anyone else who didn’t know what I was thinking. Now, think about Habakkuk 1:2,3 and 5-11. This guy expressed all kinds of rage. God listened and then knocks his socks off with “Hang in there. Keep up with current affairs. You’ll be blown away by the incredible plot line I’m working on.” The Word on the Street. If that doesn’t get you to see that God looks at life in a different way, check out Psalm 90:4 or 2 Peter 3:8.

Keep asking and thinking but be ready for God to respond in ways you never will comprehend.

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?

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)

English: Dzong (fort) in Punakha (a place name...

English: Dzong (fort) in Punakha (a place name) in central Bhutan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I attended Refugee Day in Boise, Idaho. Along with having Ploff (a national food of rice, carrots, onion and other ingredients) from Uzbekistan, I witnessed about 20 refugees from various countries become citizens of the United States. Among them was a man from Bhutan. Most of us have no idea whether Bhutan is the name of a dog, a city in California or who knows what. It is however, a very secluded country in Asia. I have always thought about how much I would love to visit Bhutan and take in all of its wonders, hidden secrets and glimpses of ordinary life there. What an adventure that would be!

The difference between a few days in Bhutan or several trips on a roller coaster cannot be adequately compared, But then, how many people do you know who agree with Jesus and believe to a point that they might even show up at religious meetings or occasional conferences with well known speakers? These events can be exciting but adventure…not even close.

Following Jesus (aka obedience), is where it’s at. Excitement only opens the door but following Jesus shows us the entire house. John 14:21 speaks to this and also reveals something about our relationship with the owner of the house. James 1:25 also suggests that to believe in Jesus is like “catching a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God…” Message Trans. However, if we follow Jesus according to his definition, the adventure begins.

So, why are we satisfied with excitement when adventure is screaming at the top of its voice?

Given the choice, most of us would prefer to drive a car with heated seats, is

Inconvenience

Inconvenience (Photo credit: futureshape)

extremely comfortable, never needs repairs…you get the idea. Why would we choose one that has a window that does not quite roll all the way up, whose heater occasionally works and has no air conditioning? That one can stay on the used car lot even if it was offered to us free.

When are we really a neighbor? If we move into neighborhoods that are protected by American Home Shield, it is likely we might meet those living around us because they are probably safe. I mean, when they moved in we didn’t see them unloading various knives or weapons we can’t pronounce. We could easily invite them over for a BBQ.

But a neighbor is one who gets excited about who just moved in next door or who they just met at the gas station because now they have the opportunity to show them just how much God really loves them. It doesn’t matter they wear a black leather jacket, don’t wear shoes most of the time, have hair the length of your sister’s or have a very interesting tattoo visible all of the time. And what if they just moved in from Somalia?

If we have concluded that God brought this person into our life to learn that Jesus is more than an exclamation mark in a conversation, then we can be the real neighbor.

Check out Luke 10:29-37. Given the choice, most people are never going to live in neighborhoods where they have to be inconvenienced by other’s needs. The possibility of an assault happening does not check one of their boxes. But the real neighbor is ready to love people that God intersects their life with anywhere and anytime. God knows who these people are and is thrilled to give them the opportunity to accurately define  neighbor.

Alzheimer’s destroys our enjoyable lifestyle. It is something dreaded and I know of no one who looks forward to this illness. However, it is easy to deliberately or gradually forget the only thing that gets God dancing at the party.

Almost everyone focuses on what they believe will make them happy even though happiness has never been the prize God has for us. Joy, on the other hand is ours but if we get this dreaded disease we sacrifice the prize. It really doesn’t matter whether some traumatic event causes us to not value what God does or over time we simply choose to put our priorities on the top shelf. Either way we constantly can reach for life in things that come up short every time. The new car, dynamite stereo, unbelievable concert or the slow cruise down the Rhine River leave us only wanting more. Alzheimer’s is taking over.

Isaiah 65:11 and 12 speaks about our abandoning God, forgetting and ignoring what he hates and choosing to figure out life our way. However, if we want the prize God has for us, Isaiah 66:1 and 2 clears it up. Enjoying the life God has for us only has one condition-to reverently be responsive to whatever God says to us. God never changes the formula, He doesn’t forget, we do.

How can we not get this disease? Join with others who are listening to God and doing what he says. It’s simple but is hard to find but worth the trip.

My Joy

My Joy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why would you be on either of these roads? Well you say “it depends on where you want to go.” There are many differences in these two highways but one of the obvious is that one is about 6 lanes going to San Francisco and 6 lanes going to San Jose; the other, well let’s just say you will have to wait for other cars to go through some of the narrow parts before you can. One is filled with cars and trucks almost all of the time and the other, you do now want to meet even one truck on this road.

Matthew 7:13 and 14 describe a couple of differences between narrow and broad that not only apply to roads but also our lives as Christians. To be clear, there are times you need the interstate but that narrow road has beauty not found with multiple lanes or many cars. We need to be careful we don’t substitute the size and speed of travel on the interstate with the reward of the narrow road.

Not many in the Western world have either time or courage to travel the narrow road as it relates to the Christian life. Churches are groups of Christians who are basically on one or the other of these ways of living the Christian life. For example, one road results in superficial change while the other is so real it is scary; one builds shallow community while the other is a tight knit family; one allows only those who are “like us” in while the other is often characterized as “messy”(you”re not sure what someone might say or wear or have pierced).

Let’s not present a revised or watered down version of church or how to live the Christian life.

Which road do you prefer? What would happen if you chose the other one?  It does really depend on where you want to go.

San Jose, CA freeway interchange 280 and 87

San Jose, CA freeway interchange 280 and 87 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)