Friday, August 25, 2017

Division


 

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work- which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and turned to meaningless talk. 1 Timothy 1:3-6

It would appear that our world is going mad. It’s not unexpected, Jesus warned us to expect things like this, family members on opposite sides (Matthew 10:34-39), people telling us what we want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3) instead of the Truth, to name a couple of examples. It should not surprise us that things will get worse before they get better. I’m not surprised but I am saddened.

          Just the other day my sweet friend Donna put a message on social media asking that people share pictures, stories and family news, things that would makes us all smile. She asked that maybe we take the focus off the evil in the world. Great advice! I loved it and applauded Donna for saying it. Some people disagreed. One of our dear friends disagreed rather forcefully. He was not mean or nasty, just impassioned. That led to other comments pro and con. See what happened? Donna tried to do a good thing and ended up with a bit of exactly what she didn’t want.

          Division. It’s one of the enemy’s favorite tools. In the exchanges there was marked disagreement. I’m happy to say that those disagreements stayed civil, for now. These people are on the same side of the big picture. They just have differing ideas about how to promote what they believe. While they stayed civil and kind that is rarely the case. I agree with Donna, there is far too much blaming and name calling going on, in the news and on social media.

          When I read the verses from 1 Timothy, they brought to mind Donna’s efforts to focus people in a more positive direction. Never did she say ignore what’s happening around us. What she said was basically, shine your light. Reading the words, “controversial speculations” and “meaningless talk” I thought, that is what Donna is combating. No good comes from finger pointing or belittling.

          When we engage in such behavior we’re focusing on the wrong part of the story. Is it awful in our world right now? Yes! Why fan those flames? Why not instead, share the triumphs, as Donna suggested. Show that God is indeed still God.  Jesus is coming back for us and while we wait it would be best to follow His command to love one another.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Unfinished


 

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

My grandson Abram is anxiously waiting for his rocks to be finished. These are rocks that he brought back from Tennessee, his new favorite place. After panning through the dirt, Abram was so pleased to find several big rocks and even more small ones. He was not terribly pleased with the fact that they weren’t as pretty as some of his Pop Pop’s stones. Pop patiently explained to Abram that the rocks had to be tumbled and that tumbling is a pretty long process. Today we are just three days from the finished product and Abram is beside himself with excitement. He has big plans for those rocks.

          A few minutes ago I read the verse from Philippians my first thought was of a conversation that I had yesterday. In dealing with one of my more stubborn students I had to stop and take a deep breath and remind myself of his limitations, so that I would continue with gentle firmness and not just lose it. A co-worker observed me. This woman watches my every move because I’m one of those “Christians.” Read that as people she doesn’t quite get or trust. I know she judges all of my reactions and I want to shine for my Father. So I smiled at her as I leaned down to gently encourage my little buddy and I said, “God’s still working on me.”

          It’s true, much like Abram’s rocks, I’m unfinished. I’m not the shiny, sparkly, full restored product that I will be on my arrival at home. Unlike Abram’s rocks which have taken several weeks to prepare, my process will last my whole time on earth. Again, like Abram, sometimes I’m excited about the finished product and sometimes I just want it to be done. I want it now! Abram says, “But can’t I just see them?” and Pop says “not yet.” I ask why I keep making the same mistakes, repeating the same sins and Abba just smiles.
          It’s easy to tell Abram to have patience, that the result will be worth the wait but not so easy to wait myself.  The “product” I want to see right now, is me, shiny and always doing the work I was given to do, always living to my purpose. While Abram’s wait is just about over, I don’t know how long I’m going to wait to see my Savior. I do know that it will be well worth the wait. In the meantime, I’ll continue to stop, take a breath and know that God is still working on me

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Name Dropper


 

You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it. John 14:14

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe. Proverbs 18:10

Just yesterday I heard a young woman tell a story about her father. Her father held a position of responsibility in our community and so when Whitney found herself in a little mess, she smiled her stunning smile and said basically here’s the ten reasons why what I did wasn’t all that bad and by the way, my dad is Mr. Important. Problem solved. Except it wasn’t. Her dad truly was a pillar in our community, a man of actual integrity not just approval seeking pseudo- integrity. As Whitney went on to say, facing the actual consequences of her actions would have been far easier than what she faced at home after dropping daddy’s name.

          Her father reacted as he did certainly to teach his daughter a lesson, to put a little fear into her but I think there’s more to it than that. Perhaps more than either of them saw at the time.

          Whitney used her dad’s name, a name to which he spent years attaching honesty, integrity, compassion and strength. She tossed it out there as a shield. She was right. Her dad’s name was a shield for her, not to get her out of a deserved penalty but to protect her from what was truly harmful. I’m sure there were times when being that man’s child afforded Whitney respect and consideration that she had not yet earned. Most likely there were times when Whitney’s dad told her to tell people she was his child, knowing that would open a door or two for her or keep her out of harm’s way.

          In listening to her I was reminded of how many times Jesus tells us to ask our Father for anything, using His name. Jesus is our entrĂ©e to the Father’s throne. (Hebrews 4:16)  He is our shield. We have His permission to drop His name.  We have His blessing and His promise that when we use His name, the name of Jesus, our prayers will indeed be answered.

          In our society name dropping is usually a way to bring attention to ourselves by using the accomplishments or notoriety of others. It is a practice that isn’t exactly pleasant. As is often the case with Jesus, dropping His name is good. It’s the right thing to do. Telling someone that we know some random celebrity is a bit boastful. Telling someone we know Jesus is an invitation.

          Whitney used her dad’s name with the confidence of a child who knows how well she is loved. We need to use the name of Jesus in the exact same way and in the exact same way, loving consequences will result.