God’s Person and the Election Cycle

This is a tough one because so many are passionate about their politics. I too, have strong opinions about some issues, BUT… since I am God’s servant and not my own… Wow, what a pivotal perspective: God’s servant and not my own.

As God’s servant, I will stand for faith, justice, and mercy (among other things) but must keep a strong focus on God’s will and purposes, and the best interests of others. I have watched strong opinions that cross the line into personal defamation and belittling. That is not good no matter who is doing it.

Excepting God Himself, Jesus, there has not been a human, politician or not, that was all he/she should be. Nor has there ever been (including now) anyone operating with God’s full wisdom in pointing to THE one who was God’s choice to rule, without God revealing His choice to that prophet.

Since I am “All In” as God’s servant I will not have my voice for God be muffled by differences in political opinion. I may state mine, but I will also honor others to do the same. I will vote when the time comes and then sleep soundly because:

  1. I have confidence that God knows what His plan is;
  2. I have been obedient in voting (as God’s servant) for the person I think is the best choice among the rabble.

What I must not do is alienate people with whom I disagree politically, so that they will ignore me when I speak the name of Jesus into their lives.

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Landing Kites

As a youngster I loved to fly kites. By the time I was 12 or 13 I had become an accomplished builder of the same. I recall kites 5-6 feet tall with scraps of bed linens as the surface, heavily starched to provide more wind resistance for lift. We even flew lesser kites, attached to the main line to lift the sag. We flew with heavy twine and it needed the lift once the kite was 30-50 yards out.

Getting the kite up and out so far was not the thrill or main challenge. I was in Central Texas where the wind blows most of the time anyway. The real thrill was to reverse the process and land the entire collection of kites and line without any of the kites touching the ground. Retrieving them to hand was a huge ego boost and claim to superiority in my little world of 12-13 year old kite aficionados.

As God’s “All In” servant, I can still be easily drawn to such a focus on completion that I miss God’s re-assignment“We are through with that, Wayne. There is something else I need you to do now,” He may whisper.

Sometimes I respond hesitantly, but follow His lead and allow the “kite” to hit the ground. Other times I discover that I was so focused on my goal of seeing the project through that I forget that His priority may not be the same as mine.

I have found that being “All In” is a daily challenge (and sometimes an hourly challenge).

Do you have any special challenges in your “All In” discipleship?

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Adaptation Required

I admit that I am slow to change my metaphors. I automatically think in terms I grew up using. I recently, trying to compliment a waitress for her prompt service said, “You are faster than a speeding bullet. How are you with tall buildings?”

The young woman looked at me like I had one eyeball in the center of my forehead, even though she smiled. When I explained the reference to “Superman,” she just shrugged her shoulders and politely excused herself.

She did not “know” Superman. She was too young to have spent time reading his comics, besides, how many people read comics today? I suspect fewer still read Superman. I was using American English like she spoke, but it was still a different language.

Being “All In” requires that I adapt as best I can to the modern vernacular and points of reference. After all, my task is to represent the Master. The Apostle Paul captured the concept when he wrote: I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). More to the point is 1 Corinthians 14:9: Fewer words with understanding is better than many that do not communicate (my own paraphrase).

Holding on to my comfort zone is not to be my priority. After all, I am “All In.” Are you?

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Capturing Every Thought

“Capturing every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) sounds overly optimistic, if not impractical… or does it?

Living for a purpose begins with our thought processes. Since we are expected to live for God’s purposes and the best interests of others, it must begin in our thoughts. Our perspective, goals, decisions are birthed and processed as thoughts.

James 1:13-15 makes it painfully clear that living for ourselves also begins in our minds. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

To avoid that “death” James predicted, every thought must be Jesus’. Otherwise it is impossible to be “All In” as His follower.

Jesus does give His disciples “rest” (Matthew 11:28). That is not the same as “time off.” If we are “All In” then we are just that, “All In.”

Are you?

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It Is Time To Be Still And Available

I’ve known Christians with their day planners so full that they could not get from one appointment to the next on time. I’ve seen evidence on social media that some wear “righteous” busyness as a twisted form of evidence of their spirituality. Is there no end to religious agendas and church programs that, no matter their intent, steal more and more time away from availability? Have we reached a point where God has to call and leave a message for call back in order to schedule an appointment?

Imagine the priest and the Levite passing by the man who had been beaten and left for dead in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). Jesus did not let us in on their excuses like He did in the story of the invited dinner guests in Luke 14, but they were clearly preoccupied with something, even if it was the fear of missing out on “work” if they became unclean. They were not available for an assignment that God had scheduled for them. Whatever the details, their agendas were already full of their own plans for the day.

Jesus’ point in the story was that the Samaritan was responding to God’s purposes and not his own (the Greatest Commandment), as well as to the best interests of the injured man instead of his own agenda (the Second Greatest Commandment).

Allowing our own religious agenda, assuming it is religious, to steal our availability away from God is certainly an irony. It must, however, be avoided.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10) doesn’t really sound like a suggestion. It may be the only effective strategy to avoid this self-driven “righteous” busyness.

Being “All In” isn’t the same as being heavily scheduled. It is being physically, spiritually, and emotionally available for what God puts in our path. For that, we must be listening. To listen, we must spend time being still.

Be “All In,” not worn out.

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I’ve Just About Had Enough

I have a few people in my life who seem to operate from anger. Most conversations are complaining, accusatory, assaultive, argumentative, or leave the impression that they are on the edge of one of those. Being around these people is like being around a dog that is snippy, you just can not relax and let your guard down. I nearly always come away exhausted.

About the time I’ve had enough and… did you notice that? “I’ve had enough…” shifted the focus. I mean, I was not really focusing on God’s purposes or their best interests, but on my own discomfort and frustration. That is so easy to do.

I may need to distance myself until they settle down (Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God.” Titus 3: 10 MSG), but my focus is not to shift away from the other person’s best interest to myself. I struggle with that, do you?

Being “All In” as a disciple of Jesus includes stuff like this. Are you up for that? Jesus was. Let’s you and I be up for it as well.

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Peace In Chaos?

Early morning traffic in the city is not a new experience, but it is something I only participate in occasionally these days. It is stop and go, this lane that lane, switch and twitch, relax and tense up.

Traveling with a friend recently I was reminded of Isaiah’s words: “Crying Peace, Peace, where there is no peace.” Not the same context, but the words fit. My friend was driving to an early medical appointment and tends to be edgy on a good day. This wasn’t one of those.

I assured him several times that all was well, there was plenty of time, and he should just relax. His assessment was different. He knew (intellectually) that I was right, BUT… it just didn’t feel that way. He could not relax.

Have you ever been there? Jesus’ disciples were when they finally got the message that Jesus was actually leaving. The brethren from Ephesus felt that way when they realized they were never going to see Paul again. The answer in both instances was the same, “Look to God.”

Folks, that sounds overly simplistic. Perhaps that is why more people do not try it. It is the answer though. The peace that passes understanding is real. We just aren’t very good at relaxing when all of the “traffic” is unpredictable. What IS predictable is God’s care for His children.

Be “All In” as God’s follower and relax into His care, even in the midst of chaos. It is better than holding a death grip on the steering wheel that doesn’t control anything anyway.


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Anger Addiction?

I read the other day that it is possible to become psychologically addicted to being angry. Assuming it is true, how would that happen?

Several years ago Cindy and I worked with juvenile males that would have been felons if they had been eighteen, so we are not taking about nice boys. But underneath their rough exterior, most of them were still just boys. Most had grown up in environments where their adult role models were not able to be respected (respectable). The young men had, therefor, followed the behavior of others that were poor models.

It seems that every emotion they experienced (other than pleasure) was pretty much processed the same. Anger was the response to nearly every negative emotion. They felt as if they had no security, always feeling threatened. They felt alone, even surrounded by their gang buddies. Maybe that is how it happens to everyone: feeling alone and threatened, processing every emotional response as anger.

It does not have to be so. For the “All In” disciple Jesus promised to always be with you. He even promised eternal protection: “Let not your hearts be troubled…”

Be an “All In” follower of Jesus. Then you can relax into His love and care… and not be angry.

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God Is Not Like Me, I’m Supposed To Become Like Him

A friend who can rival Erma Bombeck with the accounts of life at her house recently told of her nine year old daughter’s observation about her string of snow days at school. Her account picks up as mother and daughter were driving to a local store.

Mom said: “I can’t believe you’re out of school again- the roads are perfect; God sure has been answering y’all’s prayers about not going to school for some reason.”

Daughter’s response: “Yeah He is; isn’t it great? Of course I’m sure He hated school too when He was a kid.”

While perfectly predictable and acceptable in the immature, imagining God in our image is a real problem. The ancient Greeks and Romans did that and amassed a collection of vindictive, self-absorbed gods.

In an interview yesterday an older man told me that he had grown weary of trying to make God into his own image and had, years ago, decided to take God for who He is. It makes a huge difference.

Paul, in his letter to the Roman church, predicted that God’s wrath was in store for people who, although they could know God, refused to allow His sovereignty and existence hold any sway in their own reality (Romans 1). Ignorance of God’s expectations (righteousness) results in the only thing it can, man establishing his own expectations of himself and others (Romans 10).

Not a good plan… Accept God as sovereign and be “All IN” about living for Him. (It’s easier said than done.) It is comforting to know that God loves us, sent His Son for us, because He doesn’t want us to be “condemned” (John 3:16&17).

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The Time For Talk Is Over

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161-180 AD was a Stoic philosopher (among other things) and is reported to have said: “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”

Persecutions of Christians ramped up during his reign, though there is some question as to his active involvement in the process. Be that as it may, his statement is reminiscent of the story Jesus told the Jewish lawyer who had asked Him: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

That question was the springboard from which Jesus told the story of the “Good Samaritan” and ultimately made the stinging point to His antagonist: “This do, and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:28). This was a pointed answer because the Jewish “lawyers” of the time didn’t “do” anything. They just, as my friend Charles Coil said, “polished frog hairs down to the size of gnat’s whiskers.”

Godliness and righteousness is not something that can be practiced without doing. Not much of the “doing” can be done wearing anything other than “work clothes.”

Interested in being an “ALL IN” disciple? Then stop talking about it.

Do it.

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