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Excitement often raises the volume, but it often has an effect of people wanting to get away fast. We may think that the louder you speak, the more you have to say and people should listen up. For sure, there are times we need to speak up to emphasize something, but we shouldn’t mistake volume for intelligence or truth.

The story is dramatic and the verses are 1 Kings 19:11-13. Elijah was ready to let God yell it out in no uncertain terms and sure enough a Wyoming wind tore through and shattered stuff. Then a California earthquake hit, then a fire, but God was absent in all this. Then…a gentle whisper “…what are you doing here Elijah?”

Life, pain, betrayal, reasonable, etc. all scream at us with explicit instructions on how to live, what’s important, when to move, who to believe… These are accepted by the majority, but when did majority overrule truth? Jesus was certainly in the minority for all of his life.

The deal is that we have to be in a quiet place to hear a whisper. It’s much easier to keep the music on, especially if it’s “Third Day” right?

WHAT THIS MEANS: The issue  is “how badly do we really want to hear what God says about how we’re living?” What reasonable explanations do you and I have for continuing to live like the majority? When Jesus said “follow me”, it changed everything for a few men. The word “minority” was introduced to them.

The two letters “i” and “n” can be powerful or insignificant, but if tacked on to the word “convenient”, everything changes. Convenient can mean close, agreeable, or easy. It usually implies comfortable.

Now, think about out obedience for a while. We like to use it to refer to kids listening and doing what a parent says. It’s a little more challenging to be the one in the focus. We have all kinds of ways of skirting around this word or issue when the focus is on us. We’re ok with going the mile required, but what about the second mile? Check out Matthew 5:38-48.

We don’t grasp the implications of the gospel if we define when obedience ends and inconvenience wakes up. Judges 21:25 in The Word on the Street says “These days, with no king to call the shots, everyone does their own thing, if it feels right, just do it.”

In the movie “Field of Dreams”, the challenge then was “go the distance.” Obedience defined correctly “goes the distance.” Barnabas and Paul and some other men were men who “risked their lives” to help others know Jesus. Check out Acts 15:26.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Never add conditions to obeying God. Don’t limit what God wants to do through your life by adding “in” to convenient when you think of living the gospel. Keep track of the “second mile” opportunities God gives you and get some better walking shoes.

The verses are Philippians 2:5-8. They are exciting to read, greatly encouraging and severely challenging, but essential to live by. Look at part of it in The Word on the Street “…he checked his global contacts list, walked off without his body-guards. He unplugged his airwave connection, left his precious star collection, He said,”I give it up.” And took up a new role-a role well below him. He became flesh and blood, skin and bone, and stepped down from his heavenly throne to his new earth home as a normal guy…”

This is great news, but also sets the bar high for us if we intend to make any difference in people’s lives God sets in front of us. We don’t mind inviting people to a church service (although that seems to be risky), but influencing people to consider Jesus is a whole new ball game.

Jesus’ time with people was “everyday.” Our waving a couple of times as we drive off to whatever, doesn’t quite measure up to influencing anyone to think about Jesus. Our Christian life should not be lived separated from daily life  with people. We need a little “gloves, mud and normal life ” with them.

WHAT THIS MEANS: How can you and I carve out time to really live and get to know what our neighbors had for dinner last night? Can we really get that close to them? Plan on talking with or having coffee or a glass of wine with a neighbor this week.

 

 

 

 

Maybe you’ve planted a garden, fertilized it and watered it, but you don’t see anything happening. Wait a while! Or, maybe you’re convinced he or she is the right one but they are cool to your trying to advance the relationship. Give it some time! We really don’t like to wait for much of anything. Technology has advanced our lifestyle to such a place where waiting is unnecessary, or so it seems.

We carry this way of doing life into our dealings with God in the same manner. We prayed once for whether we should stay or leave, we sent an email  to twenty people and two responded, we even offered our house for a bible study, but no one seemed interested.

We’re often ready to get after it and God seems to be taking an extra long lunch. What the spank is going on? As it turns out, much of life is one of waiting. We can easily run the risk of getting out in front of God in our decision making and that can lead to disappointment with God and our not believing this stuff is real or matters.

Acts 1:8 in the Message helps. “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be my witnesses…” The early followers of Jesus were ready, but if they had charged off the line without knowing the play, they would have been knocked out on the first play!

WHAT THIS MEANS: It’s uncomfortable to wait, but it’s the only way to see God do his thing and use us to impact people’s uncharted or wrecked lives.

If we are going to finish a race, a project, a speech or whatever, the way we begin greatly affects our completion. The same is true in our walk with God. Learning how to memorize scripture, or to have a quiet time with God, or how to study the Bible are for sure blue ribbons. They get us going, but if we don’t know the “why” we are doing these things, we will probably drop them when life sneaks up on us and hits us with real hard stuff.

If we know why we should memorize scripture, it makes complete sense to do it. David said it like this in Psalm 119:9 and 11 in The Word on the Street “The chances of a young guy staying pure? The odds on a girl not getting hurt?…I’ve memorized your words in my heart as my guarantee not to make you frown.”

If we don’t know “why” we should “hide God’s Word in our heart” (memorize it), we’re kidding ourselves about our intention to please God with our life or win the battles our enemy wages against us every day. The same can be said of having a quiet time or reading or studying the Bible. The “why” makes all the difference in what marks our life when we are 40, 50 or 75 years old.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Have you started the race on the right foot? If not, it’s never too late to begin. We must understand the power in knowing “why” we are doing something before we focus on the “how” to do it.

Memories are interesting. The older I get, it seems my life has become more uncluttered. What that really means is that I don’t remember a lot of things. But there are some things I know, have seen and experienced, that will always be ingrained in my memory. I can see them in my mind’s eye.

The early followers of Jesus had a unique place in history. They actually saw, listened to and talked life with Jesus. We get to read about it. The first verses of 1 John 1 say it like this in The Word on the Street “I’ve seen the Real Thing. He was around way back before history heard the starting gun. I was there! I heard him, clocked my eyes on him…we’d share in court that he’s the genuine article.”

There was no way they would be talked out of the stories they must have repeated many times to people. We haven’t seen Jesus like these guys did, but we can know him and see who he is anyway. Once we know and see, we are changed and we can’t decide we never knew or saw the truth that walked around the middle east. We can’t go back!

WHAT THIS MEANS: Keep making memories of Jesus events in your life. Google Maps can’t diagram this destination and once we begin the trip, we “know and see” and build a memory for a lifetime.

You can get a coffee at many coffee shops and there are many places you can get a burger and fries. How do you decide? In the long run, it really doesn’t matter (except for coffee). Do you ever stand before your closet and take 20 minutes deciding what to wear? Gender probably plays a role in that one-just saying.

But there is one decision you can make that will change everything. would you like to know? Or might you have some questions as to the implications, dangers, benefits…?

Think with me about 2 Corinthians 5:17. If we’re “linked to Jesus”as The Word on the Street says, “…we’re not genetically modified but are brand new.” There’s a big decision to make here. John 3:5-7 talks about a destination that’s better than our dream vacation-God’s kingdom. But a decision must be made. If every person will kneel before God at some point, making a right choice is huge. Look at Romans 14:12.

So, we make decisions every day, but one is make once and then reaffirmed many times in our lifetime. Everything is affected when we decide Jesus meant what he said and we’re going to do it all and not miss out.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Each person has an opportunity to let Jesus be the boss. Our decision to be “all in” affects everything. How do you know you have made that decision and meant it?

It was recently discovered that a house built in the foothills of Boise had a crack in the foundation. The hill had settled and caused the damage. It may take a little while to discover flaws in a foundation. An earthquake can expose them quickly, but rain over a few years eventually can do the same thing. Either way, something could be incomplete in the construction.

No one would want to purchase the house mentioned above until the issue is resolved. What about spiritual growth? We can easily accept learning information about the Bible without dealing with it in our life. Just as we wouldn’t want to live in the house with an exposed flaw in the foundation, we shouldn’t settle for learning Biblical facts without seeing a change in our life.

In John 13:17 Jesus is clear that the benefit for us is not in knowing what he said, but rather practicing what he said. He spoke about this also in Matthew 7:24-25 using another analogy. The Message speaks about “incidental additions” we can make in our lives that don’t change anything in our attitudes or character. They only have an appearance of change. James 1:25 also in the Message speaks about how distractions can derail us in practicing what matters.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Take a hard look at your life this week and ask the Holy Spirit to show you if you are practicing what you have studied and maybe even memorized. What hangs you up in making an application of the Word? What distracts you from getting serious about practicing what you know?

Everyone lives with questions every week. “When are you going to take out the trash? What time are we going? What are you wearing tomorrow?” These questions really make us dig deep, right? No, and they are quickly forgotten and are almost irrelevant to many of us.

Then, there are the questions we would just as soon avoid. Questions like “What does it look like to practice love with these people? What benefit will it be for me  to get into that small group studying the Bible?” These questions remove some shallowness seen in the first set of questions.

Oh, and one more-“What is enough?” This question is one that really changes everything. Philippians 4:11-13 are verses that raise this question for us. How do we get to a place where we can say and mean it that we have enough? When we can say “I have enough”, we are finally free. We are free from the culture’s insistence that just having this thing and we’ll be happy, satisfied or whatever.

Paul is absolute in saying he “learned” to be content. Being thankful is one of the roads that leads to contentment and making it easier to say “I have enough.” Listen to Paul’s conclusion to Philippians 4 in The Word on the Street “The generosity of the Boss, Jesus the Liberator, soak into your soul. Absolutely!”

WHAT THIS MEANS: Can you say with Paul that you have learned the secret of being content? What holds you back from wanting to get to this place? Give more away this week to someone in need.

Whatever we do, we should avoid being average or normal when it comes to the pattern of our culture. 2 Timothy 2:3-4 in The Word on the Street in part says “…trained  combat teams don’t get sucked into the daily soap opera of normal life…” Perhaps part of the issue for most “Christians” is that most haven’t been trained prior to engaging our culture.

Think about it. How much training, preparation or whatever did you receive in school, from parents or a Christian college community that really helped you deal with the jungle of our 21st century culture? The Message further adds on to the Timothy verses-“A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals in the marketplace.”

Where can you live where this is not the accepted lifestyle of people who are involved or not involved in church and the Christian way of life? We so easily get involved in political and various social issues that our lives get increasingly complicated. Some issues are worth our time, that’s for sure but Jesus faced some of the same challenges with a different focus.

Matthew 6:33 and 28:18-2o are a focus that we must have if we are to avoid the traps of our “normal” Christian life these days.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Take a deeper look at how Jesus and his followers lived. What focus do you see with them that you need to have more firmly in place in your life? How can you begin to avoid being more traded in our culture’s persistent pull?