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.

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Suffer the Little Children

A young mother was rushing around trying to herd her children in the general direction of the door so that she could try to get to church on time. So many “last-minute” adjustments to make and the clothing options kept coming “undone” as her young girls were making last-minute wardrobe changes after playing around for so long.

The telephone rang and in her rush the young mother answered wondering, “Who could be calling?” It was the children down the street, wondering if she could give them a ride to church. These children played with hers all of the time, but there was always bickering, tugging and pulling. With a sigh the young mother agreed and told them she would be by in five minutes.

They eventually came boiling into the building, a few minutes after the devotional had begun. Passing into classes, the young mother finally began to regain her composure, at least until the baby she had brought to class with her needed some special attention. She was once again swept away by the ongoing whirlwind of childcare.

Later, after worship, when everyone was preparing to return home, we found them. There were two “notes” written in third grade scribble that had been prepared for the collection trays passed around every Sunday. When read, they placed on open display the hearts of the little children who had called for a ride. The notes said, “I’m sorry that I didn’t have any money to put in the bucket.”

All of the trouble and inconvenience involved in moving the flock of children to worship, without the assistance of a border collie, was clearly part of God’s plan. This young mother likely felt that she would have been just as well off to stay home, since she couldn’t relax and “worship” in the midst of her circle of turmoil. “Worship,” however, was exactly what she was doing. She was elevating God above herself in spite of the turmoil that accompanied her.

This “All In” mother likely felt as if nothing was being accomplished, but God has clearly been doing a great work in the lives of the children all the while. We have not been charged with delivering measurable results, merely faithful response to the opportunities He places on our path.

Be “All In” and let God do the heavy lifting.

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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.”

 

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.”

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

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

Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak and Attack

It is reported that flags were armies’ identifiers before technology changed that reality. During the American Civil War the flags of both North and South were often so similar that troops sometimes attacked men on their own side!

We can become so caught up in our enthusiasms (whether nationalism, political parties, food preferences… well it could be anything) that we end up destroying something with which we actually agree.

In moments of stress, whether induced by excitement, fear, or pain, we must slow down and listen. We must listen, not only for the voice of others, but mainly for the voice of God. After all, we are not our own but the Master’s. At least we are if we are fully committed, “All In.”

James 1:19 – “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.”

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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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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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