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.

The Unpredictable

I read recently that when something unusual happens, pay attention. God is doing something. I don’t know where I read it. If it was your blog, email or post please accept my apology for the lack of credits. I just do not remember.

Paying attention to what is happening, especially when it is out of the ordinary can present a huge challenge. We easily get transferred to our own agendas when life becomes predictable. We forget the encouragement James gave the refuges to say (actually say) if God wills I will do this or that. We just make our plans because, after all, things are predictable.

When the predictability fails we are likely caught with the “deer in the headlights” look wondering what just did (or did not) happen. If the whole “deer in the headlights” thing confuses any of my readers, just think of the expression on someone’s face at a paralyzing moment when facing the unexpected.

When the unexpected happens… Actually nothing unexpected can happen if we are walking through life assuming God is working and guiding events. We just deal with whatever He sends our way without getting anxious , flustered, or irritated. Having no expectations other than absolute confidence in God’s involvement is critical to experiencing the “Peace that passes understanding.” It has nothing to do with circumstances or results, only confidence in God’s involvement.

Be “All In” and pay attention when the unpredictable happens. God is doing something special.

photo credit: Unpredictable collaboration (detail) via photopin (license)

The Impact of a Life Well Lived

We can not measure the impact we have upon others. Parents teach their children to care for others above themselves by modeling that very attitude in the everyday mundane-ness of life. Teachers impact their students far beyond the curriculum by their personal carriage and deportment. So it is in the really important matters of life as well.

There have been many whose impact on my life can be measured by my own reckoning. Others have made their mark in ways I can not distinguish or remember. Some have come into my life and passed through in what seemed to be a few insignificant encounters. Others have been a presence for a much longer period.We can never know the long-term impact. So it is with my impact upon others.

The death graduation of one man has prompted this reflection. I heard of him from others and did not quite know what to do with their accounts of his faith, especially given his past. Then I met him. I still did not know what to do with him, but I could no longer discount him.

His faith was simple yet overwhelming in its simplicity. Even in his parting word to his son as he slipped out of his physical body and into eternity, I am bewildered and led. “Its been a blast!” were the whispered words of another Stephen, willing to go wherever and do whatever God’s Spirit directed, always displaying the excitement of the adventure and the trust in his Parent like a child going through Disneyland.

God knows how many were led, not just pointed toward, but led to Jesus by Bob. I have been forever changed, and he probably had no idea the impact God had on me through him. May I be the “All In” servant used by God to impact others so profoundly. May you be as well.

Photo: Bob Hughey

Surrounded by Children

I have taken a week off from writing, you may have noticed… but I suspect few have. It is both understandable and alright if you have not. Sometimes I need to be quiet and listen. Probably more often than I actually do. That is, however, a subject for another day.

During my time of “quietness,” I was touched by an expression I have heard so many times in my life when someone else was leading a group in prayer: “We are gathered as your children in your presence…”

As Cindy and I have passed into our sixth decade of life, our children and grandchildren are busily engaged in their own lives, as they should be. But sometimes we long for them to come… just to be with us… without schedule… without agenda… without electronic devices… without wishing their “detention” in our presence would quickly come to an end… just because they want to be with us. Since we live some distance from all of them there are actually very few times that can happen.

With God it is different. We can “live” in His presence all of the time. We can “go there” in all of the odd moments that inhabit the spaces in our lives. We can program times to “be still” and sit at His feet, marinating in the splendor of His presence. We can be unhurried, unforced, uninhibited in our praise and meditation, “relaxing and rejoicing as His child in His presence.”

Being “All In” is not “all work.” Being “All In” is being “all His.”

 

The Garbage Does Not Take Itself Out

A friend reported that her little girls had learned to say “b*#ch” in a foreign language. While that seems to be a rite of passage for children, it clearly demonstrates the aggressive proactive posture parents need to take in their children’s lives. Whether it is with their electronic devices, television shows, music preferences or “new words” they pick up, the garbage doesn’t take itself out now does it?

Adults must stay on the offensive to keep themselves pure as well. The great deceiver, Satan, takes every opportunity to chip away at our holiness and make us comfortable with that which we would not have tolerated in our own lives in the past. It happens so slowly that we find ourselves making justifying arguments based upon technicalities instead of godly principles.

Being God’s “All In” disciple has its foundations well before associated behaviors become apparent. We respond to life and situations from the depths of who we are.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).

Being “All In” is not a religious hobby, it is a godly obsession.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:3-11 ESV).

photo credit: 2016 – Mexico – Pachuca – Keeping it Clean via photopin (license)

The Great Disconnect

There has always been, I suppose, a disconnect between theory and reality. We hear it in political conversations when candidates (or supporters) announce how something should be “fixed” and compare their “fix” to the reality when the “fixer” is elected to office.

We hear people declare that “Islam is a religion of peace,” but hear too often of murders and bombings taking place “in the name of Allah.” True, there are religious zealots roaming around claiming connection to most all religious groups, but so many claiming that their “god” allows/commands/demands such seems pretty widespread on this one.

But then we come to those claiming Jesus as their Lord. Claiming a “lord” requires focused obedience. It requires a “speak lord, thy servant heareth” approach to everything. When I claim His Lordship, yet think and behave according to my own thinking, I become the poster child for the great disconnect.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46 ESV)

Photo taken by Wayne Wells

The “Last” Ride

A retired truck driver/rodeo cowboy spent 18 years preparing for his funeral. Sounds a bit odd, wouldn’t you say?

The story goes that after his retirement, he began riding a motorcycle, trying to recapture the excitement of the rodeo. He liked it so much that he planned, negotiated, and accomplished a funeral complete with:

  1. his embalmed body,
  2. on his ’67 Harley,
  3. in a custom, see thru plexiglass casket,
  4. placed inside a custom, concrete vault,
  5. in a three plot burial site.

Billie Standley obviously wanted to impress his friends on his “last ride” to the cemetery. I wonder if he was equally concerned with pleasing the Creator of the Universe in the last few years of his life.

How easily we are distracted by our own goals when we should be focusing on God’s wants and purposes. It looks really foolish when I see this kind of distraction driving someone else’s life. The nagging question I need to constantly answer is: What does it look like when I do that?

As an “All In” disciple I don’t have to live like a monk, never smile, and never be light-hearted. What I do have to do is be ever vigilant and listening for the Master’s voice.

photo credit: Ride via photopin (license)