Distracted From My Agenda

Our bank has been sold/bought again. I’m not sure how all of that happens, but I have an idea how it impacts the banks depositors/customers. I’m not even sure if customer is the right word or not. I guess it is.

The litle inconveniences like new checks, new debit/credit cards, new transit and routing numbers to change on automatic drafts and automatic deposits are really not all that difficult to deal with, but they require my time and I initially thought of just changing banks. Why did I think of doing that kind of thing? Was it because I do not like to be inconvenienced or distracted from my own agenda? I thinks so.

That is unfortunate. I have been well treated and served. Yet my first thought was to jump and run from this small commitment of time and energy, when I have received so much time and energy from those bank employees. I am not proud of this admission, but there it is.

Jesus had some followers who decided to “turn back” because they just didn’t trust Him (John 6:66). They were not willing to take their eyes off of their ideas and trust them fully to Jesus. While my “bank issues” do not nearly approach this example of turning away from Jesus, they are rooted in the same thing: I do not want to be distracted from my agenda.

It is a common thought process, even among those who try to be “All In” disciples.

photo credit: Denison State Bank – Teller Line via photopin (license)

Deliverance

We are so easily distracted. We “plan” to do something, but run out of time (or energy) and it doesn’t get done. We decide we will not do something, but lo and behold (a colloquialism from my past) we do it anyway. We are a mess.

The Apostle Paul expressed the same frustration in Romans 7. His frustration produced the exclamation: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” His answer to his own questions was, of course, Jesus Christ!

No indication that Paul wallowed around in self-pity or self-abuse as a result of his “bad” choices and actions. He ran to Jesus and trusted Him. It’s not that Paul wasn’t sorry that he had been a disappointment and had personally failed to live up to God’s standards. The thing is that Paul trusted the blood of Jesus and God’s promise that He loved Paul anyway!

Being an “All In” disciple of Jesus isn’t about performance. It is about trusting and, therefore, obeying. We aren’t just to trust Him in salvation and living. We are trust His promises and relax into His love.

Where Can I Get One and How Much Does It Cost?

Due to vision surgeries and other health issues that have arisen over the past few years I have begun cycling anew. No longer able to successfully deal with balance and energy levels required to ride a typical bicycle, I have taken the plunge into the world of recumbent trikes.

When I purchased this trike I was warned to plan extra time into my travels to allow for conversation, because people will want to talk about it, and they have. They ask about comfort, because it looks comfortable… and it really is comfortable. They ask about the steering because it does not have conventional handlebars like most people expect. They ask about climbing the many changes in elevation because we have those in Eastern Middle Tennessee. It climbs well. It’s not fast, but it climbs. If I get tired I just set the parking brake and sit there on the slope and catch my breath, starting again (even uphill) without difficulty most of the time. The point is that it is wonderful for me at this time along my journey.

They usually announce that they want one of these, asking:

  1. Where did I purchase it?
  2. How much does it cost?

They receive the first answer easily, the second… not so much. These cost significantly more than traditional cycles. When they hear the price point, they lose their interest, shrug their shoulders, and walk away.

I have seen the same response from people when they see the peace that comes from being an “All In” disciple. Calmness in the middle of life’s thunderstorms is attention grabbing because few people have experienced that in their own lives. They ask about it, say that they would like to experience it, then walk away when they hear the price.

“Denying self” in the process of “coming unto Jesus” for the “rest” He promises is a much higher price than most are willing to pay. I suppose that they just do not believe it can be that peaceful.  Perhaps they are just not “broken” enough to seriously consider it. They still think they can get where they want to go on their own. I did not consider the trike a good alternative until I became convinced I could not “do it” with a conventional bike. Now I wish I had upgraded to a trike years ago.

Upgrading to Jesus is well worth the price of total surrender of self. If you are interested, I can help point you in the right direction. My friend David has the trikes, but Jesus is the one with the “peace.”

 

My Inconvenience May Be God’s Plan

While playing a recorded interview scheduled to air a couple of weeks later, I encountered a “glitch.” Evidently the entire 35 minute interview did not “upload” to my Podcast host. If that description sounds confusing to you, don’t worry. It is not important, forge ahead.

I was playing it in the car so that another person could hear it. I felt they could benefit, so I had no qualms about playing it for them. The recording abruptly stopped after the person being interviewed told about being brought to her spiritual and emotional knees and how she responded. I was frustrated and really wanted the young woman to hear the entire interview.

I started the interview again in the hope that it was just an internet problem and that it would work the second time. We listened and it stopped again! When I arrived home I discovered that only half of the recording had, in fact, uploaded. I re-loaded the interview so that it would play in full when the time came.

Upon reflection, my passenger seemed to be touched by the “testimony” of the young woman in the interview… and she was able to hear it twice! It was no mistake. It was orchestrated by the Master. My inconvenience… His plan… so often the same event.

“All In” disciples of Jesus should never get in a “twist” over inconveniences. God is directing the traffic.

photo credit: Day 256/365 – Who needs a remote? via photopin (license)

Repurposed

She said, “I wish I was like I was at 16 again.” Many of us understand the challenge of coping with the changes marking our years. That may be especially true as the decades really begin to pile up.

We exchange our youth and vitality for experience, skills and wisdom. I did mention that we trade in our vitality, didn’t I? Yes, there it is. Our vitality and youth slipping away in the trade. Perhaps that is what is most noticeable… our dwindling youth and vitality.

We repurpose items all of the time. Have you ever wondered if any of those “repurposed” items wished they were still new? Of course you haven’t. But is that idea any more ridiculous than my wishing I was not being “repurposed?”

It is easy to be “All In” when my assignment is glitzy and glamorous. It can occasionally be more difficult when I am “repurposed.” The view from an outsider looking in can often see great value in my new purpose, even if I am rusty and my tires are flat. The new beauty may be because I am rusty and my tires are flat.

Being repurposed is only a problem if I insist on defining my purpose. I need to be at peace with what God chooses for me. Isn’t that the way this “All In” discipleship works?

Cannot Be Moderately Important

When we think of “distractions,” noise, telephones, texts, interruptions of other origins come to mind. We have, in our minds the schedule for the day even if the schedule is empty and un-demanding. It is my schedule and I do not like nor appreciate being distracted from it or having it “hijacked” by someone else. Perhaps you feel the same.

However, being a disciple of Jesus, a believer claiming Him as “Lord,” is much more than some religious statement or answer to a catechism question. It is a matter of becoming a “bond-servant” in exchange for all of the “spiritual blessings in the heavenly places” that God provides (Ephesians 1:3). “Exchange’ is not even a good word here, because it implies that I have offered up some item or service of value in the transaction… and I have not because I have nothing of equivalent value to offer.

The “bond-servant” decision has, at its core, the reality that my life is no longer mine, but His. My schedule, my desires, my joy, my purpose are all rooted and fulfilled in His scheduling, His desires, His joy & His purposes. My service extends not only to His interests, but to the best interests of those within reach of “my touch.”

The things I usually consider as “distractions” that fuel frustration in my life are either sent from the “deceiver, Satan,” to get me off course, or simply manifestations of my own “non-surrendered self-lordship.” Being an “All In” follower of Jesus is not just a more extreme way to follow Jesus, it is the only way Jesus accepts. Jesus said so Himself: “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” (Luke 9:23). I must stop thinking of distractions as such. I should think of them as redirection from my will to His will.

To quote C.S. Lewis, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

Playing Devil’s Advocate

There is much discussion blended with sophistry these days. I suppose that has always been the case with humanity. Imagine Adam and Eve whispering to each other when they heard God calling for them in the Garden after they had followed the serpent’s advice to ignore God’s instruction. Eve may have been lashing out at Adam for not protecting her from herself (she would have been right to do so), after all he was standing right behind her. Adam making excuses, any excuses trying to deflect his guilt. Both eventually arguing about “words.” I have been guilty myself. That is not to say it is OK… because it is not.

There may be a place in debate training or training in logic and ethics in order to provoke thought and consideration, but to “play the devil’s advocate” for sport or advantage is not only dangerous, but forbidden. Some will not be able to see through the charade, or worse yet, may attach to the false argument for personal gain or advancement, recognizing the persuasive deception couched in the words used.

Paul spoke of this and was not unclear in his instruction: Remind them of these things, commanding them before the Lord that they not argue about words, which leads to nothing of value and to the destruction of those who hear them. Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But avoid profane foolish babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness, and their word will spread like gangrene (2 Timothy 2:14-17).

Reading and hearing fine sounding arguments crafted to persuade that “evil” is actually “good” is frightening on several levels. Godliness is not “rocket science.” It is actually very simple. The only difficult aspect is denying self and deciding to comply with God’s way.

Playing “Devil’s Advocate ” in the culture wars presently being waged is costly as measured in souls. Being “All In” is a matter of being clearly in God’s service, no matter that social cost.

Be clear, but kind. Be devoted to God, not political correctness.