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.

photo credit: “where’s that cake!” via photopin (license)

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.

photo credit: “Don’t get cute with me!” via photopin (license)

A Spiritual Being Living A Human Experience

Several years ago my princess and I headed west on a motorcycle. On that trip we experienced many things and places. One that rises in my memory is the stop we made in the Black Hills of South Dakota at the Crazy Horse Memorial.

During our visit, Crazy Horse was described as “a spiritual being living a human experience.” He saw himself as more than his flesh, with a higher calling than his personal well-being and comfort.

Isn’t that how God challenges us to think and therefor act? We are to think of ourselves as “pilgrims” here, like Abraham, looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. We are spiritual beings, temporarily wrapped in humanity, looking forward to going home.

That makes John’s encouragement (1 John 2:15) make sense: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” We can not, after all, be “ALL IN” with God at the same time we are chasing the offerings of “the world.”

Keeping that perspective: “A Spiritual Being Living a Human Experience” should make my choices much easier.

Will you give it a go as well? How will that shift in perspective change your life?

Photo: Taken by Wayne Wells

The Impact of Personal Sacrifice

Stephen’s story, recorded in Acts 7, draws my attention like a poltice drawing an infection. It evidently had that impact on Saul of Tarsus as well. As you likely recall, Saul is introduced to us in this event of lies, deception and murder. Unlike others cast into the fatal role, Stephen apparently never pled for his life or railed against his accusers and their unjust charges. He simply pled for forgiveness for the evil men and revelled in the vision of Jesus, standing at the throne of heaven, honoring his death.

We are given no reason to suspect that Stephen knew why God had chosen his fatal path, nor that God had whispered comfort into his ear to help him through the ordeal. The image we are left with is one of faithful determination to walk beneath the “cross” he had been assigned, ever giving glory and honor to God.

Saul, later known to us as the Apostle Paul, could not get that image out of his mind either. He referenced it while giving his testimony years later: “And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him” (Acts 22:20).

Stephen was “ALL IN” as God’s man. He did not question God’s strategy nor God’s use of His assets. Stephen trusted God, His purposes, and His promise. Stephen walked the path he had been placed upon, yeilding himself to God’s plan to impact this influential, type-A Saul of Tarsus.

When you are tempted to abandon God’s plan for you, take comfort and courage in the example of Stephen. I do. Paul did.

“All In” is just that, nothing less. Oh… lest I forget, there is Good News that forever needs repeated. If/when we mess it up and get off track, God still loves us and the Blood of Jesus still cleanses us!

What do you use as encouragement in times of doubt or discouragement?

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)