Mirror, Mirror On The Wall…

“Mirror, mirror on the wall…” You know the line from Grimm’s Fairy Tale #53. You probably actually know it from the children’s Disney movie, Snow White.

Interesting thing about the mirror and our thoughts along the same line, we want it (the mirror) to answer our way. We want it to think, act and respond the way we think, act, and respond. When it does not, we often miss it… or just ignore it and go on about our business.

In the letter James wrote (1:22-27), he mentioned a mirror and different human reactions to it in comparison to people looking into God’s Word and their reactions to it:

“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

“But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

“Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” (The Message)

It is not difficult to figure out how an “All In” disciple should respond to the “mirror,” God’s Word, is it? Do you bother to look into the Word? If you do, are you taking a good, hard look at how you match up to God’s expectations? I suspect that your answer is about like mine: “Sometimes.”

We should be more consistent, you and I. Let’s be more diligent, shall we? After all, Jesus was “All In” when He lived (and died) for us.

photo credit: Miedo a la muerte estilo imperio III via photopin (license)

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.”

Complain? Who Me?

Following the lead of another minister I read about, I challenged the congregation to 21 days of no murmuring, complaining, or argumentative interactions. It sounds extreme, but the Apostle Paul said believers should not be doing it at all, much less for 21 days (Philippians 2:14-15).

What does it say about me when I say that I trust God, but complain like a teenager told to clean his room when the weather, traffic, meal, etc. do not measure up to my expectations? It says that I do not trust God’s decisions in this matter. If I do not trust Him in these little things, do I really trust God at all?

If I am to “shine as bright lights in darkness” as believers should, I must stop acting like the people dwelling in darkness! Being “All In” encompasses ALL nooks and crannies of life.

Do all things without murmurings and disputings. That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14-15 ESV).

photo credit: calling a wahmbulance via photopin (license)

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?

photo credit: Daydreaming ! via photopin (license)

Spoiled Milk Is Still White

There are few things that elicit as rapid a response as chugging a mouth full of spoiled milk. Some people can smell the putrification without opening the container. Some do not have the ability to detect the condition by smell. One thing is for certain, spoiled milk usually still looks like unspoiled milk.

The long term impact of misjudging milk, while unpleasant, isn’t serious for most. The long term impact of other misjudgments are often more dire. Are the car tires safe? Are the propane tank fittings properly secured? Is my mentor really looking out for my best interests?

While the questions above are centered on other things and other people, the same questions really should be directed inwardly. Am I really God’s person? Am I God’s person no matter the cost, inconvenience, or immediate consequence?

Posturing and pretending to be God’s impacts eternity, both mine and those gullible to the point of following my lead. Hence the warning: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).

There is a certain power and prestige that comes with having others think of you as a wise teacher. Jesus encountered some who reveled in the notariety, but did not trouble themselves by becoming: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)

Being deceitful is worse than being blatantly defiant. Jesus likened it to a mouth full of spoiled milk, or in this case a tepid drink: “…because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). It takes professional help to misunderstand that!

Better to be “ALL IN” than to be spit out.

Photo credit: y2.d170 | hangover craving. via photopin (license)

Of Donkeys and Holy Books

There is an old Zen Proverb that says: “A donkey carrying a pile of holy books is still a donkey.” Initially it doesn’t sound very profound, but it really is. Being loaded down with or surrounded by trappings doesn’t change the nature of who or what a man is. The “who” and the “what” may impact the trappings chosen, but the trappings guarantee nothing about the man.

History is replete with anecdotes of charlatains in religious regalia posing and imposing their personal agendas, all the while proclaiming their messages were sourced in the Creator Himself. David Koresh comes to mind, probably because that tragedy took place a few miles from my childhood home.

Others from the past few decades may wash over you, but this is nothing new that our generations have brought on mankind. It is man being who he is, man focused upon his own agenda.

Simon the Sorcerer, Diotrophes, Herod, Judas Iscariot, shall I go on? Man, unwilling to have the reality of God shape his finite mind and thoughts, discards the notion of God (or at least the idea that God is sovereign to dictate), and attempts to find his own way. Paul was clear that God is not “down” with that approach (Romans 1:20-25).

Even “religious people” can fall into the same trap of a self-defined righteousness, which is really no righteousness at all (Romans 2:1-5; 10:1-4; Galatians 1:6-9). Carrying about the trappings doesn’t alter the beast of burden, however, Jesus can transform us into sons and daughters of God.

Let’s be clear, it is the power of God that transforms. It is my decision to allow it. The decision is not a momentary excursion into God-land; it is a total immersion into God’s will and plans: “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).

This is our choice: Remain a “donkey,” or be ALL IN and transformed by the power of God.

photo credit: Quien es el burro? via photopin (license)