Does Your Stuff Keep You Up at Night?

The car needs work, the house needs a makeover, vacation plans needs to be made, it is time to upgrade to the newest technology, investments need to be adjusted for better returns, and the list goes on…. It can be exhausting…

In the midst of it all, one’s focus on God can get easily lost or put into the background of life.

The author of the proverbs has a really clear thing to say about all of this: Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. Proverbs 15:16

The author of this proverb makes it very clear, that if there is only one choice, choose a simple life with a strong focus on God and His ways of living. Do not let all the things that can get in our way of keeping a strong focus on God take over and dominate us.

Speaker and writer, Bob Goff, combats this tendency to be consumed with everything but God with a simple approach: “quit something Thursdays”. On Thursdays he reviews all that he is committed and obligated to and simply chooses something to quit doing. He recognizes that life, left to itself, produces too much stuff, and we need to be intentional about cutting back and staying focused on the most important things.

Today, consider what keeps you up at night. Why does it have a greater priority than God in life? Evaluate the words of Proverbs 15:16. Try Bob Goff’s strategy – quit or give up things that are cluttering your heart and mind. Today is a good day to start.

Are you ready for today?

What does being ready look like? Every day is filled with things we think are going to happen and issues that we didn’t know were going to come up. The physical basics are always there to get our bodies out the door, but beyond that, what does it take to come into a day ready?

Here are a few questions for self reflection that help with readiness:

Have you asked God to be with and guide you today? I have found that God is interested in making sure I am ready for the day in my spirit, thinking and attitude. In fact, I notice a real difference in myself between the days I ask God for help and the days I just take it on by myself.

What is the attitude you are bringing into the day? Take time to choose a healthy and helpful attitude towards yourself and others today. Being intentional in attitude choice makes a big difference.

Have you prayed for the people you will meet with today? One of the greatest moves of readiness, is to give consideration to others in our preparation for the day. There are simple ways to do this that include looking at your schedule and thinking through the people who are going to be with at those meetings. Remember, everyone is going through different issues and experiences on a daily basis that effect their contribution to the world.

Are you prepared for the things you are responsible for today? Being prepared helps with being ready for every day. It is worth getting up early or staying up late to complete the things that need to be done for the day’s readiness.

Do you prioritize with an adaptive approach? Everyone knows that plans are constantly adjusting. Each day requires a new reflection on priorities for the day as well as postponing things that are not essential to the most important things of today.

In the bible there is some very practical counsel about being ready for every day:

o God gives peace in every situation to those who are trusting Him                  for it.
o Be slow to think you have answers for other people, consider the                  issues in your own life first.
o Don’t be anxious. Instead, turn issues of anxiousness into prayer                    and give God thanks.
o The Holy Spirit does lead us into truth. The Holy Spirit does                                comfort. The Holy Spirit does give us words to say in difficult                            moments. Ask the Holy Spirit to be present.
o Jesus removes self condemnation and judgment from our lives. In                relationship with Him, we are free to be encouraging and helpful in                relationships.

The readiness challenge: Adjust the start of your day to allow for 15 minutes of reflection on the questions above for the next 30 days and evaluate your own sense of readiness.

“It Hurts so Good”

A good back rub by a skilled person often reveals unexpected soreness, tightness and pain amidst the relaxation. As deep tissues and muscles are worked over there is this strange combination of pain and relaxation. “It hurts so good” and the result is some real relief and renewal.

Discipline often reveals a similar reality in our lives. A skilled person identifies areas in our life, and they go to work on it to bring some needed discipline for our relief and renewal. “It hurts so good.”

The Bible has this incredible piece of truth tucked away in the book of Hebrews chapter 12 verse 11: “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

The nature of discipline is to address a situation or to instill a pattern that is for our good. There is often painful adjustments to be made as part of a disciplinary process. The temptation is to reject meaningful discipline because it is hard. However, there is usually some level of recognition on the part of the one receiving the discipline that there is a valid reason and need.

Even though it is not enjoyable at the time, the promised results are incredible: “A peaceful harvest of right living.”

Consider the opposite: “A turbulent harvest of wrong living.” When someone is not open to discipline, their lives begin to dominate everything in ways that are exhausting, wasteful, and hurtful. There is a commitment to shallow enjoyment. Vision for the common good is gone. It is anything but peaceful. It is not abundant. In the end it can leave one bankrupt in every way.

“A peaceful harvest of right living” is like a breath of fresh air in our world today. The path involves receiving needed discipline in our lives. The next time a skilled person applies discipline to your life, and some things are identified that need some work, remember, “It hurts so good.”

Going on a new adventure? Do you want it to go well?

If you were going on a new adventure and knew what you needed to do for it to go well, would you do it?

I have worked with people long enough to know that we often choose to undermine our own lives through decisions that are destructive. Many times we want good outcomes, but our not willing to do the things necessary for this to be possible.

The Israelites were heading out on a new adventure: settling into a new land.

From the scriptures come these words to them: “…If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.” Let’s break this down a bit.

You will live and multiply: There is a universal desire to live and to increase our presence from one generation to the next. Last night, my parents, now well into their 80s, were taking stock of how many great grandkids they had. I believe the number was 56. They are certainly modern days examples of a vibrant increased presences through the generations.

The Lord your God: This phrase implies belonging, a connection, and a relationship. This is not just about having a religious context or heritage. Through Jesus Christ we have come to understand this as a dynamic personal and community relationship with the Lord our God.

Bless you and the land: One working definition of blessing is the idea of being restored to our original purpose by God and through God. When we think about this in the context of ourselves and the space or land we work off of, this is an encouraging perspective.

Enter and Occupy: One of the roles of leaders is to enter and occupy space in this world for the good of others. It was 11 years ago that Warm Beach Camp was invited to begin ministry to people with developmental disabilities. This has taken a major commitment and it has required us to enter and occupy into a space and place we have never been before. What a blessing.

All of this makes you wonder what is the answer to the “if you do this”. Thankfully God doesn’t leave us wondering: “For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways.” (Deuteronomy 30:16)

This is one of those classic “easier said than done” commands. However, before you and I despair about our faltering ability to do this, think about what the possibilities are to accomplish this kind of willful alignment with God.

Jesus: Jesus fulfilled the laws of God. Along with the laws of God he brought to the forefront God’s grace. What this means is that by being in a relationship with Jesus Christ, it is through Him that we come into alignment with God. Scripture even says that we are viewed as righteous through Jesus Christ.

Holy Spirit: We are not on our own. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. God does not leave us wondering about what to do. He makes it very clear. The Holy Spirit is a key part of God’s clarity in our lives.

Scripture: The truth is, God’s word speaks God’s life and ways into each one of us if we will spend time in it. Even this devotional today is made possible by just one verse in God’s life giving word.

Community: This is written to a group of people, not just an individual. We are meant to do this life together, with each other and for each other.

Is God asking you start on a new adventure? Is there some space you are to take occupation of for the good of this world?

Love the Lord our God and follow Him through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Jesus, Belief and Judgement (10 things you might want to know)

Have you ever been judged for your belief in someone or something? Who is it that was passing judgement on you? Was the judgment fair?

The bible has record of a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a religious leader. He was trying to understand Jesus. In this story Jesus shares some incredible things:

#1. There is a spiritual life that is initiated by God’s Holy Spirit. It has a clear beginning. Jesus compared it to birth, a new life born to live.
#2. This spiritual life is what gives people the ability to understand God and the work of God’s kingdom. We can’t make sense of God without this spiritual life.
#3. God loves the world. He sent His one and only Son to bring us into relationship with Him forever.
#4. God did not send Jesus into the world to judge it, but rather, to save it.
#5. There is no judgement by God or from God against anyone who believes in Jesus.
#6. There is a judgement by God for those who do not believe in Jesus as God’s one and only Son.
#7. The judgement is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than light, for their actions were evil.
#8. People who love evil are afraid of having their sin exposed, so they avoid Jesus.
#9. To those who do what is right, they draw near to Jesus. In doing this others can see their commitment to doing what God wants.
#10. Ultimately, relationship with God is determined by belief in Jesus as God’s one and only son.

What God has provided us through Jesus Christ is a relationship that fulfills any judgement on my life for sin and brokenness. A ruling of judgement is completely satisfied (sentence fulfilled) through belief in Jesus Christ as God’s one and only son.

While the world may judge for expressions of faith, and religion, especially related to Jesus, God releases me from judgement and invites me into the spiritual life of His Kingdom forever.

It’s an easy choice.
(John 3:1-21)