Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Whose Advice Are you Taking?

I listen and I take note to many of the voices speaking in society.  Some of them are good, some of them are not.  Ok, most of them are not.  We listen to those who can speak the most elegantly, but often lack conviction in their lives or ministries.  I have heard pastors get excited from the pulpit and say they would do things they never did.  We listen to advice from friends who can't make their life work, and ignore those with wisdom and incite.  We listen to the young and popular, and it's a bad idea.  Look at Rehoboam.  He didn't listen to his dad's advisers, he listened to his buddies and he split the kingdom.  Ahab listened to his life (never trust a woman named Jezebel).  Job's wife and friends gave bad advice too.  Moses was smart, he listened to his father in law.

Who are you listening too?  Gossip columnist and movie stars, musicians, politicians?  Maybe it's a young, hip pastor or leader or CEO.  Lots of advice books and columns and radio shows.  I put my trust in the Word of God, lots of dead men (Edwards, Owens, Spuergeon, etc).  I'm not telling you who is listen too, you don't even have to listen to me.  Just be wise with who you seek for counsel and who you are listing too.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sometimes You Need Some Space

I think that sometimes the best thing you can do in relation to other people is sometimes limit contact.  In this modern world of ours, we have this fake interaction we call Social Media.  Some of it is good, some of it is bad but much of it is too much.  We share what we eat for breakfast, where we are with who doing what and when.  We assume the world wants to know what time I brush my teeth and where I got my coffee from this morning.  Most of it is pretty harmless, and even fun or funny.  Sometimes, it's not as harmless and we need to be proactive.

We all have things that get on our nerves, and sometimes that thing is posted all over social media.  Mine is when people isogete (take the Bible out of context to make a point) or make theological statements that are in contradiction to the Bible, just because they don't really like what the Bible says is true.  Drives me up the wall.  My other issue is Pharisee-ism, people who want to condemn everyone, but care about no one.  We can call it judging and condemning from afar.  We are to hold each other accountable WHILE carrying one another's burdens.  We were never meant to stand with arms folded and critique.  When people do that, it makes me want to fold my arms and critique.  Yes, it's hypocrisy, and I'm aware of the issue.  It's because of I have this issue that I recommend some space.  Sometimes the best thing you can do when someone drives you nuts, pushes your buttons and makes you crazy is take them off social media, avoid prolonged contact and learn to love them from arm's length.  Don't judge them, don't critique them, help and pray for them but don't follow them on Social Media.

We are commanded to love one another, and sometimes the best way to do that is with some distance.  Give them (and yourself) some breathing room.  If you have a pet peeve and I bug you, you have my permission to love me from afar.  I may be the best thing for both of us.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Surviving the Blah Days

Ever had a blah day?  A day when you didn't feel like getting out of bed, let alone do anything productive?  Maybe you're tired or the weather is bad or you just don't feel like being a contributor to the world at large.  You feel emotionally void, physically drained and spiritually dry.  Know what I'm talking about, or is it just me?  The blah days, when you want to eat too much, sleep too much and do nothing worthwhile.  I have those days, and let me tell you, those days are hard.

It's in the blah days that temptations seem the most available.  On blah days, it's easy to sit around on social media, look at things and say things.  Some things you shouldn't look at, some things you shouldn't say or post or tweet.  It's a temptation to be rude on blah days, because you feel blah.  It's easier not to care about someone's feelings.  It's easy to say or do things you'll regret.  What do we do with blah days?  Where is God when things are blah?

Blah days happen, and we have to live through them.  A few things you can do during those blah days.  Find a project offline, like a scrapbook, model, paint or draw or write or sew or something.  Find something to work on, something to focus your energy on.  Listen to a sermon or Christian music while you do something.  Fill your mind with positive things that will keep your mind from drifting to negative things.  Play with your dog or your cat, I'm sure they would appreciate it.  Do for a drive or a walk or a swim and take time to breathe.  Most of all, keep the lines of communication open to the Father.  Maybe God is taking a day to slow you down to tell you something important.

Blah days come, but they also go.  Hang in there during those days of blah-ness.  I hope you find a blessing on the other side.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bear Fruit, Don't Work Fruit

So one of the things that I have realized is I can't produce fruit.  I can't work the fruit of the spirit, but I can do the works of the flesh.  The fruit of the spirit comes through me, not from me.  The Holy Spirit produces the fruit, it's the Spirit's work.  He makes the fruit, we are just there to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

So, here is the implication.  We need to change the way we teach and preach.  We give lists of dos and don'ts, we make rules and laws and tell people how to modify their behavior.  We tell them to be loving and forgiving and gentle and humble.  Guess what, they can't.  Only the Spirit can produce love and peace and gentleness and self control.  All we can do, all we should do is abide in the Spirit.  We do this by thinking about those things which are good and noble and right and pure.  We transform by the renewing of our mind, thinking about Christ and His mission, His message, His goodness.  We focus on God, we think about God, we pray and think about scripture.  We put our mind where it needs to be and as a result, the Holy Spirit puts our lives where it needs to be.

We have focused so much on changing our behavior, on following the rules that we have missed the basic fundamental responsibility.  To fix our eyes upon Jesus, to focus on God and let Him do the work in us.  He will make the fruit, we just bear the fruit.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Spirit Filled Life, Am I Living It?

I am reading a book about having a Spirit Filled Life, I'll post a review when I'm finished.  It's made me stop and wonder if I am living a Spirit filled life.  Baptists don't talk a lot about a Spirit Filled Life, and I'm not theologically in line with the Charismatic view of a Spirit Filled life.  To have a life filled with the Holy Spirit, I have to completely surrender myself to His will and His control.  Have I done that?  Do I even know how to do that?  I am finding that the idea of faith the size of a mustard seed is rare.  Most of us have faith the size of a neutron, maybe an atom.  A few have faith the size of a single cell, maybe a cluster of a few cells, but Mustard seed, that's hard for most of us.  Complete abandonment of even one aspect of our lives is so hard.  We always want to have at least part of the control, part of the say.  It's our lives, and we want to control to some aspect.

I am finding just how hard total and complete surrender is.  I have dreams and visions and ideas that I want, and it's hard to surrender those things to God.  It's hard to trust God because often His plan is not our plan, and we assume our plan is better.  It's not, but we assume it is.  We fight and we struggle to regain control, just to fight and struggle to give up control and be filled with the Spirit.

I'm admitting that I am struggling to give up control.  I am tired and worn and I want to give away all my life and all that I am.  I just don't really know how.  I guess these are the time that we fall in prayer, and we cry out for the Lord to take our lives.  I don't know how to give it, so I just ask that He takes it.  It's time like this that make me believe that free will in nonsense.  If I had free will, I could just give myself to God, but I don't have the ability.  I can't just make a choice and everything is great and easy and simple.  Tell a man filled with rage to just choose to be at peace.  Tell a woman consumed by hurt to just stop hurting.  Tell a person to just give their entire life and being to God and be Spirit filled.  It takes some surrender, but the ability to just do it?  If you think it's that easy, you are living in fantasy land.  It takes someone stronger than me to do it.  It takes God, so I pray He takes all of me.