Cure for Discombobulation


waitingDo you ever feel dis-combobulated? I do. (I’m not sure what it means to be combobulated, but I don’t like it when I’m not.)

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Trumping Trump [& the Lions]


lion-dNFL players – e.g. the Detroit Lions & Dallas Cowboys – are required to play by certain rules that help maintain some semblance of order and fairness in the game. For instance, the only guy who can be tackled – legally – is the guy with the ball. There are “roughness” limits when it comes to crushing another player. There are legal and illegal ways a player can use his hands to dominate another player.

Christ-followers are also required to play by certain rules. These rules do not apply to the “grand-standers.” We are citizens of a Government that has an eternal perspective and purpose. Things that do not make sense to a non-citizen of heaven may understandably be called non-sense, or even “foolishness.”

For instance, Paul instructs U.S citizens who are [first of all] citizens of heaven to be subject to the authority of the leadership of the United States [Romans 13.1]. God permits the election process dog and pony show which often results in the people “substituting fools for knaves.” No worries. God has a Plan that supersedes the temporal triviality of the majority.

Without an eternal perspective, it makes perfect sense to wring our hands and spew our frustration with the craziness of our times. If all we have is what we can see, we have reason for despair. And we have reason for spewing hostility toward the government. That is, unless we’re citizens of heaven.

As citizens of heaven, we have a unique vantage point. We’ve been born into a life that makes eternal sense out of the momentary non-sense. We are subjects of a King whose authority blows past any authority that has been given to a mere mortal. And our King has instructed us to keep our eyes on him rather than becoming distracted by fleeting authorities.

We are ambassadors for Christ, living in a foreign land. We’re only passing through on our way home. As ambassadors, we are not to legislate Christian morality. That is not our purpose. Our purpose is to allow the light of Truth to shine through us – unobstructed by our flesh-stained agenda. We are not here to change the behavior of our neighbors. Our neighbor’s behavior will change when his or her heart is transformed by the grace of God.

We have not belonged to this world since the moment we became Christians. As citizens of heaven, we accept the momentary insanity of democracy, knowing we have a higher calling. Because of our eternal vantage point, we are set free from the worry of the world. We are invited to live in the freedom and joy of our forever citizenship in heaven…in Jesus’ name!

(P.S. GO LIONS!)

(Author’s note: Any disrespect, either to Mr. Trump or the Cowboys, is unintentional.

My respect for the Cowboys has grown to a point near what it was when Tom Landry was coaching “America’s team.”

And regarding the “dog and pony show” and “fools and knaves” comments, I borrowed them from Randy Yeager, author of The Renaissance New Testament [see Romans 13.1 Comment]. The election process “dog and pony show” often [emphasis added] results in the people “substituting fools for knaves.” Whether or not Mr. Trump leads with wisdom [or foolishness] remains to be seen. Time will tell.

In the meantime, those of us who “identify” [sorry, I really tried to resist] as citizens of heaven have an unprecedented opportunity to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. That’s what makes it possible for us to live in submission to “authorities,” and yet maintain our inexpressible joy, as we are receiving the goal of our faith – the salvation of our souls.)

Are You a Naked Warrior?


Barefoot (2)Are we bold enough to pray with Paul that God will give us the words we need to fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel whenever we open our mouth? It’s a bold prayer. [Ephesians 6.19]

Here’s what strikes me about this prayer: Paul knew he was incapable of sharing the the mystery of the Gospel – apart from God’s power at work within him. And he was the Apostle Paul! Yet he was just like us – incapable of the work of the Spirit apart from the empowerment of the Spirit. More

Guard Your Heart


Guard your heart_June 2015Have you ever noticed that a lot of “relationship” issues are not really relationship issues at all, but are actually issues of the heart?

If we’ve decided to live God’s way… “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth” [Ps.86.11], we will continually face this choice: Will we respond according to what we’re feeling at the moment, or will we make an intentional choice to respond in a way that’s pleasing to God? It’s about our heart submission to God.

The best way to fix a relationship issue is to allow God – INVITE God – to fix our heart. IF we will humble ourselves and pray, and seek God’s face and turn from our self-serving way, THEN we will begin to experience more heart-to heart intimacy in our relationships. God-honoring relationships flow from a God-honoring heart.

“Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” ~Proverbs 4.23

All That & A Box of Chicken ~ the PRIDE TEST


PRIDE TEST_Jan 2015

 

[Inspired by the Message My Own Worst Enemy at Sagebrush Community Church by Todd Cook, January 11, 2015]

 

Every Bite’s a Blessing


Gluttony (1)I’m intrigued by several things in life. But nothing intrigues me more than this: What does it take to trigger…and sustain…life change? What does it take for me to get better at doing what’s best for me? And to do it more quickly. And more faithfully.

What’s the catalyst of true transformation…transformation that causes us to become more like the person we are designed to be? Knowledge doesn’t seem to do it. We all have more knowledge than we know what to do with. We can rattle off the benefits of change, but perks don’t seem to do the trick, either.

Like many pastors throughout the world, our pastor, Todd, pours his heart into the weekend messages – heart and soul. But quite frankly, I sometimes wonder what difference a great message makes. What difference does it make in the way we think, or in the decisions we make. Does the truth really have an impact on how we live life…in the long run?

Okay, I’m probably going a little too deep here, considering our topic. Our topic is discovering a blessing in every bite of food.

I’ve recently made a life change. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say I’ve recently begun a life change. It’s a change in the making. But my change-in-the-making was not motivated by a gifted speaker. It was not inspired by some profound insight. Or by knowledge.

It was inspired by our five-year-old grandson, Landyn. It happened during one of my Michigan visits to see my family there. And I’m quite sure he didn’t mean to do it.

It was a simple observation: “Grandpa, you’re getting a little chubby.” And he grinned.

And I grinned back. And I meant it (if it’s possible to mean a grin).

I grinned because it was true. And it was cute. And it started my neurological wheels turning.

For several months I’d noticed a profile in the mirror that I’d never imagined I’d see. It was the profile of an overweight (okay, “chubby”), little-past-middle-aged grandpa-guy. So I’d suck it in for a few seconds, just to remember what I used to look like. Then I’d tighten my belt and get on with my day. According to the chart on the wall of my doctor’s examination room, I was one category shy of being obese.

When I got back to home to New Mexico, I was motivated to face my chubbiness. I began by posting a plea for help from my Facebook friends. I imposed only two restrictions: no diet suggestions, and no exercise guilt trips. That’s it. These things may be great for other people, but they’ve become a bit cliche. I was looking for some fresh ideas.

Some folks suggested supplements. My son, Aaron, suggested tapeworms. I’m sure supplements have merit, but they’re not my thing. So I looked in to the worm suggestion. I found an ad from the 1920s that promised worm eggs were “easy to swallow.” And exercise and dieting were not a required component of the tapeworm regimen. I was intrigued. Unfortunately, Amazon does not seem to carry tapeworm eggs, so I nixed that idea.

Another friend, Chuck, suggested that I make hunger my friend, rather than a beast to be fed. This simple idea spawned a plan: Eat everything I want, but less. Enjoy every bite. And make friends with my hunger.

That was six weeks…and 20 pounds…ago.

And I’ve experienced some fairly significant side effects (besides gaining a couple notches in my belt). I spend less money on food. I have more energy. Most important to me—I’m more thankful. Which makes me more aware of the needs around me.

I’m thankful for every bite. I enjoy the flavor, and the texture. I chew slowly. I savor even the slightest hint of seasoning.

Knowing that I’ll take only a few bites – maybe a half dozen or so – I’m not in a hurry to pound it down. Then I put whatever’s left back in the fridge for later. It was a plan that required me to do what seemed unnatural at first. It was a plan that required intentional, consistent choices.

It was a plan that required me to weigh every hunger craving I had against what I wanted in the long run…which was to be less chubby. And more honoring of God’s provision in my life.

I discovered that my craving for food – in the past – had trumped my better judgment. My cravings – rather than my will – were behind the wheel…in the driver’s seat of my life. It was akin to a spoiled child wrecking havoc in the home, and nobody doing anything to stop it.

The intentional choice thing is beginning to spill over into other areas of my life. I’m aware that I often use too many words to say what I want to say. I’ve noticed that too often I’m impatient about things that have no lasting significance. And I’ve noticed I’m too quick to judge.

It seems as if the more grateful I am for the things that have been entrusted to me to sustain my life, the more careful I am to treat these things with respect. I feel less “gluttonous,” not just with respect to food, but with respect to everything that matters to me. I savor the things that are precious to me.

I’ve become more attuned to the Source of my new-found restraint and awareness—the Spirit of God. He’s the source of something called the “Fruit of the Spirit,” and self-control is a component of this supernatural fruit (Galatians 5.22-23).

Yes, I get hungry. And I’m thankful for my hunger. It has become my friend, reminding me that everything I have is a gift. And I’ve been gifted with things most people in the world can only dream about. I can eat as much as I want, as often as I want. And I can eat as little as I want, as seldom as I want.

I can truly say I eat to my heart’s content.

Every bite’s a blessing.

Baby ‘n the Bathwater


baby and bathwaterFrom my vantage point, much of the craziness in our country that’s driving us to the edge of destruction is our tendency to do things our way rather than God’s way.

Many “social programs” are caught up in this debacle. (No, I’m not “against” social programs. I personally know many folks who have poured themselves into helping people through these programs. And I was grateful for food stamps when I was going to school and working five part-time jobs to support my family in the ‘70s.)

But to my knowledge, God never said the government should take care of the people. God instructed the people to take care of the people. In the end, Jesus does not say, “I was hungry, naked and imprisoned, and the government took care of my needs.”

Unfortunately, we’re so tapped out by our government mis-spending our money, we don’t have much left to do what we’re called to do. I can’t help but wonder how our society might be healthier if we actually took care of our own–within our own families and communities. With a more personal approach, we would know if someone actually needed help, or if they were simply refusing to take responsibility for their lives.

(Can we agree we see both of these scenarios being played out in the “system”? We can all think of some who actually need help, and we can also think of some who truly are conning the system.)

If at all possible, I believe everyone needs to give something back in exchange for what they receive. Not because we need to get something back, but because we all need to give something back. Even if all we have to offer is gratitude. Or a helping hand to another person.

When I read some of the comments that are lobbed – or spiked – back and forth about these issues, it seems that many of the skirmishes seem to be triggered when one person exaggerates his point in order to dismiss another’s opposing point. In many cases, it’s not “either/or.” It’s “both/and.”
It’s like choosing up sides on the playground. It’s childish behavior.

And it’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The baby is God’s instruction that we take care of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Let’s be sensible about what needs to happen with the bathwater.

And let’s look for an opportunity today to personally make a difference in the life of someone who needs a bit of “social” encouragement – with whatever we have may have to offer…in Jesus’ name.

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