Posts Tagged ‘Perspective’

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.

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.

You sleepily pick up your phone and the recognizable voice says “get your stuff, we’re leaving in 15 minutes.” Stunned, you ask “where are we going?’ The reply does not give you the assurance you were hoping for. “Come and you will see.” Take a peek at John 1:35-39.

Disciple making can become routine to a point it begins to be boring and without the anticipation of adventure or excitement. If we follow the rules, do the assignments, don’t miss the meetings we surely become a follower of Jesus. Right? Jesus has an uncanny way of helping people unlearn the clutter that often makes traveling the discipleship road as tasteful as eating a dead rat. Without a sweet notebook, I Pad or  dynamite blogs, Jesus was able to equip followers with everything they would need to pass it on to other travelers. John 17:4,6,20.

In our helping people become real followers of Jesus, we often should take people somewhere where neither of us has been. Don’t think of a cool location to read the Bible with them but maybe a way of thinking that stretches them. It may be a short term mission trip in Argentina or in the older part of your city. But if we are following Jesus, our disciple making will definitely keep people awake.

Check out some of the ways Jesus got and kept the attention of the early disciples in the use of water and whips in John 2. What a teaching technique.

How are you really participating in Matthew 28:18-20? Is it an adventure or another trip to Walmart?

This begins an adventure of posting ideas and thoughts that I believe will encourage people to pursue the journey of following Jesus, challenge people to become serious about the culture wars we face and help people in their disciple making skills and perspectives.