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‪reck·less /rekləs/ adj. without thinking about the consequences. rash, heedless, impetuous, impulsive, daredevil, audacious, madcap‬

Category: Christ (page 1 of 11)

Listening Ears

dog listening

I consider myself a pretty good listener. I try to cultivate a slow tongue and hear what you have to say. I make a conscious effort to allow you to speak, to allow you to communicate your point of view your side. I would like to think I make rational decisions after having weighed all the facts and heard all that needs to be heard.

Granted, I’m not always like this. Ronda will tell you I am an interrupter. And I am… at times. There are moments when I don’t want to listen. When I don’t feel like I need to listen. I honestly don’t believe those times dominate my ears. In my judgment, I listen pretty well.

The other morning, I was having a conversation with a professional who was not a good listener. She interrupted me multiple times and would not stop until I closed my mouth and heard what she was saying. This didn’t stop throughout the entire conversation, even after the second time I said, ‘as I was trying to say’.

This was very frustrating to me. I felt as though this lady would not allow me to get a word in edgewise. Do you ever feel this way? Do you ever feel as though people are some consumed with getting their voice heard, that they don’t hear yours? It almost doesn’t matter what you have to say, because they don’t want to hear it. They are sure what you have to say doesn’t matter. I find it annoying when I encounter people like this.

I have been reading through the book of James a lot lately. At my church, we are going through series of sermons in the book so I have taken this opportunity to study the book as well. This morning I read from James chapter 1, where James encourages us to be ‘quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger’. These are great words of advice for several reasons. I think our interactions with others would be improved if we would make a reasonable attempt to live this out… not just because the Bible says so. Here are three reasons why it is a good idea to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger:

  1. When we don’t listen to others, we dismiss them. Not only do we risk dismissing a potentially good idea from them, but we are dismissing them. Not just their ideas or thoughts, but them as well. When we are dismissive of others, it communicates they don’t matter. We communicate to them they are important, their voice isn’t worth hearing. We communicate t them they have nothing to add or say of value. Nothing that could be important or beneficial to hear. When we are slow to hear, we are dismissive of others and being dismissive doesn’t build relationship it tears it down.
  2. When aren’t slow to speak, we often end up putting our foots in our mouths. We’ve all been there haven’t we? We open our big mouths and say something we think to be informed by the truth, only to find out we don’t have all the information and we were wrong… and we look like fools, idiots really. I always think about the apostle Peter when I think about putting my foot in my mouth. On one occasion, Jesus was telling his disciples he was going to have to suffer at the hands of the religious leaders. When Peter heard this he was, “There’s no way I’m going to let that happen to you! I will take them out! I will introduce them to my little friend!” Jesus responds with the classic, “Get behind me, Satan!” Open Peter’s mouth, insert foot. Peter didn’t fully comprehend what was going on, opened his mouth and Jesus likened him to Satan because to stop the imminent suffer would have been akin to stopping God’s perfect plan. Being slow to speak allows us to gather enough information to speak with wisdom when we do speak.
  3. When are are quick to anger, it has a tendency to be unrighteous anger. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us to not sin in our anger. For me, this is a prescription to not be angry… because I don’t seem to be able to be angry and not sin. I’m a work in progress to be sure. Either way, if we easily anger there’s a pretty good chance we aren’t being angry in a sinless layabout things we should be angry about. Short fuses rarely lead to righteous anger. Again, it is a matter of having enough information to know whether our anger is justified or not, whether it is something ‘worth’ getting angry about. I suppose we need to understand what would qualify as ‘worth’. In my mind, righteous anger is warranted when the issue at hand would also anger God. If it is an injustice or situation where God would be angry, then we can be angry as well. Too many times we et angry quickly, when choosing grace and mercy would have been better choices. If we are slow to anger, consider and think rationally through the feelings of anger we are feeling we will better equipped to be angry at the right time about the right things.

We should be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger… essentially because it promotes the most healthy and best relationships with others. It is the best way to interact with others. I don’t always get it right. I miss the mark, often. James encourages us to slow down and make more of an effort to get it right.

Wisdom

  

It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and I’m on I-75 in the middle of South Georgia. Why?
I’m heading to north Georgia with two of my independent living youth. We are headed for the culmination of a mentoring program they started on the spring. It feels a little odd to be wrapping up the mentoring program I wasn’t really a part of. But tha s kind of how it goes. 

I have mixed feelings about being away from home this weekend. Without letting the cat out of the bag, there’s a lot going on back in Orlando. Ronda and I are in the midst of praying through a big situation for us. On one hand, I want to be there with her. One the other hand, I’m looking forward to the space and clarity that comes with spending a weekend in the woods. 

I suppose that means this weekend has a twofold purpose for me. To capstone the mentoring program and solidify my place in the lives of these youth as a mentor. And to allow God to speak to and mentor me this weekend. I have high hopes for this weekend. I’m trusting God won’t let me down. He doesn’t usually. 

The Celldweller song ‘The Last Firstborn’ is playing. That song always make me think of the Apostle Paul. He claimed his apostleship cake as one untimely born. I feel that way. Not that I’m an apostle, but that I often wonder about God’s choice to love me and use me to fulfill his purposes. But he does. And I believe this weekend he is going to teach me as much as he teaches these dudes with me. 

In some ways, I really need to hear God speak to me this weekend. I need it more than I have in quite some time. We started a new sermon series at church last week on the book of James. I’ve been reading it this week. In chapter 1, James says any who lacks wisdom should ask God in faith that he give generously to the obedient. That’s where j find myself. Asking for wisdom. Asking for God’s spirit of be upon me and inform my decision-making. I want to be a spirit-filled wise leader of the family and ministry God has trusted me with. 

This seems like a good place to close… God grant me your spirit of wisdom to be a wise leader of the people you have given to me. 

The Love of a Savior

Photo credit unknown.

Photo credit unknown.

One of the tenets of Christianity setting apart from other world religions, is the love of a savior. Christianity alone has at its center a God who loves his creation enough to call them children and to die in their place in order to satisfy his wrath upon sin.

Jesus himself draws the stark contrast of this revolutionary approach to life when he comments that few people would die for a good man. What isnt said there, but what is certainly hinted at is that we are not good men. We are sinners. We live in a fallen world and we are bent towards sin. Knowing this, and loving us anyway, our God sacrifices himself to pay the penalty for our sins.

This act is so revolutionary, so extraordinary, so out of the box we as a humanity can scarcely grasp the full weight of what he did or why he did it. Paul writes in Romans, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. While we were still in opposition to him. He loved us enough to move towards us. To take the first step to have a relationship with us. Which is a second tenet separating Christianity from other world religions, God desires to know us personally. He doesn’t sit on a throne far above in the heavens looking down at us, waiting for us to screw up so he can capriciously punish us. Rather, he engages in our lives with us, walking alongside us each day. In fact, his desire is to dwell within us. To live in and through us. Paul also write in one of his letters to the church at Corinth, that as Christ followers we are temples to the Holy Spirit (God’s spirit he sent to dwell within us). In this particular passage, Paul was correcting the Corinthians on their sexual immorality, however the idea that our bodies are temples of the spirit of the almighty God should have broad applications in our lives. Our lives should be lived in such a way that God is glorified by our actions.

As we prepare for today and this weekend, ask ourselves this question: Is God glorified in the way I am living, in my habits and daily routine, in my work, in my attitude and in the way I treat others? If not, now seems like the right time to reorganize our priorities.

Contentment

philippians4-11

Photo courtesy of dailybiblememe.com

Of all the things the apostle Paul wrote, these words are some of the ones I struggle the most with. Words I have some of the hardest time associating with. Learning contentment. This has been a struggle and journey I have been on my whole life.

There have been seasons of my life finding contentment has been easier than other seasons. Some seasons its a minor struggle, others it totally eludes me. Totally.

I wonder what is different about those seasons? Are the desires less? Do I have more of my desires fulfilled? Or is something about me different? Do I walk closer to God during the seasons where contentment comes easier? Do these seasons correlate with seasons of ‘mountaintop’ spiritual seasons? What is the connection and how can I bridge the gap and make the contented seasons become more prevalent?

Why is it so hard to live in a space that seemingly came easily for Paul? I guess it begs the question, did it come easily for Paul? If not, what was his secret and how can I get in on that action?

I can recall reading in the book Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (I could share many more thoughts on Bell’s books and his current stance on many issues, but now is not the time. Suffice it to say, Velvet Elvis was his first book and therefore remains untainted theologically by Oprah.) that one of the reasons our culture/generation/society has to constantly have music, sound or noise around them is because they are trying to either silence the noise inside their own heads or because they are afraid of the silence that comes from just being still. As I read that years ago, it totally connected with me. It resonated with me. At the time, I constantly had an iPod and earbuds on me or iTunes playing on my MacBook. I couldn’t stand the silence, being left to my own thoughts.

There still remains to question to be answered, what is the cause or root of discontent? The easy answer is sin. Obviously. But really, what is the answer? What is the reason I struggle so much at times with being content?

Because I long for more. My very soul cries out for more. I want more than I can have or am able to have. My soul craves something more. It craves something which can only be filled or supplied by God. The problem is, I often (as all humans do) attempt to fill that longing, that craving with other things which are clearly not able to satisfy. Things unable to fill the hole the void I am desperately attempting to get contented.

Okay. Great. I am trying to make content something which will never be contented because I am trying to content it with the wrong thing.

My heart and soul are restless. It feels as though I need to spend more time finding contentment in God.

I feel as though this is unresolved, but I also feel as though I don’t have much else to say about it right now… I suppose there will be a part two.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11

Vision with Clarity

Ps. 9:2

I will be glad and rejoice in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O most high.


David will be glad and rejoice and sing praises for what happens in verse 3-20… namely, God destroys all of David’s enemies and rescues his people from certain doom. David rejoices because he knows God will deliver him and his people. David is glad because he knows the sadness at this present moment is not one that will last, but will be overtaken by joy and gladness. David knows the afflicted will not perish. David knows the evil will not go unpunished. He knows God will be victorious, triumphant. He knows God will defeat all of the enemies of the good and righteous and he will lift up the head of his people and bring them home with him. God’s people will be the victory march, the triumphant parade at the conclusion of the battle. Despite all of the terrible swirling around David, he was able to see with clarity the future ahead of him.

Why is it so hard for me? Why is it so easy to get bogged down by the garbage surrounding our daily life? Why is it so hard to see the future outcome of God sitting on his throne being absolutely victorious over all his foes? Why is is hard to visualize evil being struck down and cast into the abyss? Why is it difficult to see the future where the throne of God is visible by all of creation and there is no weeping or sadness?

This is a future we all long for desperately, yet we fear hoping in something like this on the off chance it never comes true. On the chance that God isn’t who he says he is.

The book of Revelation is one human’s attempt to explain and describe the awesome, beyond description scene he saw in heaven. John was given a vision of heaven and he describes it for us in all its glory and majesty. he describes terribly frightening scenes of utter destruction of evil. He describes scenes beyond our ability to understand of glorious beauty with God at the center.

Why is it so hard to live life with end in mind? The same reason it is hard to finish a marathon. At some point we hit ‘the wall.’ The place where you think, this is the end. I can’t go any further. For me, that was at mile 23. We think the pain is too great, the outcome isn’t worth it and that it will be ok to just give up now.

Sure, its ok. If you don’t want to participate in the party at the end!

Paul reminds us to finish the race. To keep our minds set on the goal, the prize, the end. We must finish the race. Complete the course set before us. We must claim our prize at the end.

2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us our troubles are light and momentary when compared to the eternal glory far outweighing them… which to troubles are actually working towards defining in us. So while the Bible doesn’t say, ‘this too shall pass’ we can know these troubles are not the end. We can be glad and rejoice in God and sing praise to his name, knowing he is going to utterly demolish and destroy our enemies.

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