Thursday, August 04, 2011

Qualities vs. Symptoms

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I have some very unique and useful character qualities. Granted, most better psychoanalysts might not refer to them as “character qualities” as much as they refer to them as “symptoms,” but still. 

I think writers get a few symptoms…I mean, “qualities”…that normal people don’t get. Fiction writers, for instance, actually encourage those little voices in their heads. This week, though, I experienced another one. It’s that thing where I keep thinking I’ve misspelled words even when I haven’t. I think I might be a typo-chondriac.

Interestingly, if they come up with a 12-step program for typo-chondriacs, I’m pretty sure step one will be admitting you don’t have a problem.

When it comes to successfully walking out this life for Christ, though, we have to recognize right from the get-go our complete lack of ability to make it happen ourselves. We do have a problem. And without surrendering to the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit, I don’t even have a horn to toot. Not a leg to stand on. Not a keyboard to type on. It’s got to be all Him and zero me.

Me? I have nothing to offer. Especially since along with my typo-chondria, I think I might be coming down with a touch of kleptomania. Gee, I hope there’s something I can take for it.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nailing Down Obedience

           Never scrimp on fake fingernails. If you’ve ever picked up a set of those mega-cheap ones when you were in a rush, I have no doubt you completely understand what I’m talking about. How discomforting is it to have one of those slippery little rascals flick across a room? Have you ever nailed someone upside the head? Now that’s just embarrassing. But it’s the absolute worst when you’re at a fancy event, smiling awkwardly with your face redder than the most crimson nail polish as you’re picking a rogue nail out of some stranger’s salad. No wait, actually the absolute worst would be if the stranger ate the salad before you got to it.
Isn’t it mind-boggling that so many women who are caught fishing through strangers’ salads were in fact warned about the wayward nails beforehand (as in, “before” applying them to the “hand”)? Why don’t they listen?
In the book of Zechariah, the Lord had told his people to be truthful and just, merciful and compassionate, to take care of each other, take care of strangers, and to think the best about each other. Did they listen? No. Zechariah 7:13 is probably one of the saddest verses in scripture:  “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Could it be any plainer? When he calls and we refuse to listen, then we will call and he will refuse to listen. Judgment comes when we won’t listen. People who don’t listen will undoubtedly get nailed in the worst way.
So how can we listen to God? We stay tuned in by reading his Word and obeying what we read. And we stay connected to him through prayer.
Refusing to listen is as foolish as wearing the worst nails to the nicest dinner. In Deuteronomy 30:19-21 we’re reminded that choosing to listen to God our Father is choosing life. “…love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…” (Vv. 20-21).
We show love to our Father when we’re obediently listening and holding on to him. Nailing down obedience is nailing down love and life! 

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Games

Don't you just love a food-covered holiday table that's about as big as a football field? You're juggling several buttered rolls and a plate full of tasty side dishes while you're trying to score some major turkey. It's a big play. You have to really scramble to hit the turkey before all those ravenous relatives leave you stuck with only dark meat. First down and gravy to go.

It's especially great to have lots of relatives over for a holiday dinner (all white/dark meat issues aside) because they bring with them a virtually uncontestable excuse to eat in the family room. Sidelined in the kitchen? No-sir-ee. We're going long. With some fancy footwork, you can swoop up two pieces of pumpkin pie as you bob and weave your way to the goal:  the Lazy Boy. Touchdown!

It's good to have a goal.

We need goals in how we treat each other through the holidays, too. Grace is sort of like our end zone. It's our goal. Colossians 4:6 says, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt." Around this time of year, we're all keenly aware of the importance of good seasoning. We need to be even more conscientious about the words we use to season each conversation. Our every holiday conversation should be full of the wonderful flavor of grace. Tasty!

I love the way The Message puts Colossians 4:6:  "Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."

It can become all too comfortable to bring out the worst in others, to put them down with ungracious speech--especially when they're eating the white meat that you're sure is rightfully yours. Instead of lovingly inviting others into grace-filled dialogue, it can become easy to let them get on our last nerve, to exclude them, to cut them out. It doesn't exactly inspire a spirit of thankfulness all around, does it? Those are definitely not the kind of holiday games we should be playing.

Instead we need to consistently offer Jesus-inspired grace in all we do and in all we say.
1 Peter 3:8-11 says, "Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say, 'If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others'" (NLT).

Loving with tender hearts and humble minds, responding to others with blessing. That's the way to guarantee a happy, peaceful, perfectly seasoned holiday--even if Uncle Mort gets all the white meat AND shoves you out of the recliner.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Brewing


I’m so excited that I found biblical grounds that my husband should be the one to make the coffee every morning. Hebrews. You know, “He brews”? And it’s a whole book. I figure that’s pretty solid biblical grounds, right? Wait. Did I really twice mention biblical “grounds” in the middle of a bunch of coffee talk?

Okay, so no doubt I need to stay more alert in exactly how I read God’s word. The extra-shot-of-espresso, high-caff kind of alert. It’s important not to get lazy.

Isn’t it weird how we can sometimes make God’s Word say things it’s not really saying? Stringing things together that aren’t related, adding meaning where it doesn’t belong. Or sometimes we simply neglect God’s Word altogether. And that’s altogether the wrong thing to do.

The thing is, there are essential life-building truths we just can’t ignore if we want to live a vital, fruit-filled, wide-awake kind of life in Christ. The Bible is not just a collection of good stories a group of people brewed up. It’s God’s message to us. And there is plenty of meaning right there in his word—right there in black and white—without trying to squeeze out something else. Meaning to last a lifetime. And meaning to change a lifetime.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Now there’s some high-powered life-fuel. And 2 Timothy 3:14-17 lists some of the amazing things scripture does is in our lives. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Coffee may partially equip us for a morning. But God’s word thoroughly equips us for every good work. His word equips us for life!

I think I’ll be percolating on that truth for a long time.

Meanwhile, I finally figured out that I can program the coffee maker to make the coffee all by itself. Auto-brew. There’s no book in the Bible about it or anything like that, but is it okay if I tell you that I thought it was a pretty marvelous “revelation”? 

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