Thursday, June 14, 2018

a few words with God


Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
Ecclesiastes 5:2

There are no instant answers, simple secrets, or inside methods of spiritual success with God. Rash “fast food” prayers and hasty emotional reactions have no business being in our practical theology. Worshiping God, knowing Him, walking with Him, and enjoying Him are matters of serious diligence. They can greatly enhance our daily life rythyms and through spiritual disciplines can flow into our lives, but never believe for a moment that belief in God, praying to God, or trusting God with hard circumstances (especially when other people’s choices are involved) are simplistic efforts. God is vastly above us in every way. Faith is kind of hard work because of that.

God’s immensity guarantees we cannot worship rashly. We can’t reduce walking with God down to “4 steps” or a three letter acronym. We also can’t lash out at His sovereign love when it clashes with our pre-conceived notions of what we think we should get from God. We pray, but God is in heaven, in control of everything, and we simply are not. We should never think of prayer as our means of getting God to give us what we want.

Real prayer that is mature will indeed ask of God. It may ask bold things in faith. Jesus encouraged that. But it will always align itself under the Lord’s own prayer that teaches His disciples not to be hasty: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Those few words, put to our heart’s requests can keep us from being rash or hasty with God.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

getting justice in Jesus


Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.
Proverbs 29:26

Life is unfair
when people in power don’t care
they seek power for themselves
ignoring the human hell
sin makes among us
Oh, how we need Jesus!

We treat each other mean
with hearts so unclean
it’s a jungle of pain
seeking personal gain
the struggle destroys us
Oh, how we need Jesus!

Jesus suffered under Pilate
knowing what injustice meant
He was despised and hated
but accepted what was fated
He suffered and died for us
Oh, how we need Jesus!

Now Jesus reigns as King
and His praise we will sing
as we cry out for justice
finding relief only in Jesus
tears wiped away from us
Oh, how we need Jesus!

Monday, June 11, 2018

The calendar is not God.


Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
Proverbs 27:1

I am a planner. Calendars and agendas are the tools I use to build my life, organize the chaos, get stuff done, and ultimately find some satisfaction in my labor and in my down time. This is not necessarily a bad thing unless I turn the tool into a functional idol. And unfortunately I do at times. When all my calendars, clocks, printouts, and plans fail to deliver satisfaction, it is generally because I have expected from my planning what only God can do. Many is the time that a plan for an hour, a day, a week, and even a year goes completely off track. I cannot know what a day will bring to me. It may be “spot on” my schedule. It could go awry.

Mature Christian insight has taught me to flex my schedules and plan with parameters. I’ve learned to pray as I scroll through my calendar and notes for each day. Every day I have in this life is first lived to bring glory and praise to my Creator as I hope to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life and to others in what I say and in what I do. Each day is lived to love God and love people. The agenda must always flow first from this driving value and hope. And when God is the director of my day, and not my iCal lists and notes, I am truly content to serve Him first.

Lord,
May each calendar notification that pops up on my phone, computer, or in my memory today remind me that my life is in the control of You, Who knows tomorrow when I never will. May I leave each event, meeting, task, and “to do list” in Your control and enjoy life for Your glory!
Amen

Friday, June 8, 2018

Slow down on the “like” button.


A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
Proverbs 18:2

It seems to me that the way in which social media is shaping us to quickly press a button to express an opinion about someone else’s statement, photo, or experience is forming us into the kinds of fools this proverb warns us against. We are becoming a world of opinionated followers of our own tastes who force our brand on the world. And again... we are becoming a world of opinionated followers of our own tastes at the expense of true diversity. That is not a good thing. We could be actually losing the ability to think. We get dumber with every “retweet”, “like”, “follow” and added digital “friend”.

Slowing down my opinion would be a good thing. Not quickly throwing my thoughts onto someone else’s statements or posted content would be a wise application of the principles in this proverb. The irony of blogging this and having a link to this post in my facebook feed is not being lost on me this morning! But maybe this thought could get considered by more than just me... The communication advantage in a connected world is great.... and also very dangerous. It is why I must discipline myself to stop and think faster than the second or two my eye falls on an instagram feed.

So then, ancient wisdom from millennia past gathered by Hebrew poetry lovers and condensed into the book of Proverbs now informs my 21st century connectedness. And I will follow this wise advice in order to slow down, understand, and spare the world my rash opinions! Opinion is not greater than understanding! Wisdom is better than cleverness. Substance is more important than image. Spiritual depth and the power of Christ is more glorious than a million “likes”. Following Jesus is greater than having followers. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

listen to reproof


The ear that listens to life-giving reproof
will dwell among the wise.
Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
Proverbs 15:31-32

How I need to listen more! The longer I live, and the more people I get to know on this earth, the more I need to shut up and listen. God has placed around me good people whose insights into my life can be used to make me wiser and better. He is very gracious to bring me opportunity to receive corrective insights from the perspectives of other people. It is a joy to know this kind of growth opportunity. And as long as I keep my selfish pride from interfering, I can know the growth that comes from insightful reproof.

This proverb encourages me to listen and pay heed to these insights as an important tool for personal growth. It is also a form of self-care to process and receive reproof. I’m promised to be smarter with the wise application of these insights. This is why God designed me to live in community. He uses this community to help me to “dwell among the wise” and gain life intelligence.

Lord,
Help me to listen more, to trust what You are doing with the people You’ve placed in my life to speak to my heart and bring growth and healthy change. Forgive my sinful refusals to consider life-giving reproof. Help me to dwell with the wise, to care for myself by learning from what other people point out in me, and to follow in obedience the things that should change in order to live in Your wisdom.
Amen

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

words & wounds

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18

Relationships are built with words and actions, and it is often words that can ruin what was built. Speaking rashly, with whatever natural instant motivation driving what is said, is a sure-fire way to leave a path of wounded people in the wake of our conversations. Our sinful flesh will wound with words. Defensiveness, broken thinking and emotions, selfishness, and sinful reactions will all turn our rash words into sword thrusts. We will go beyond mere self-defense and swing the sword with a kill shot when given the chance. We jab at hearts with our words.

Better words however are found in the wisdom of God’s Word. The gospel can and must transform our tongues. We can be agents of change and healing with our words when we let God’s truth sanctify and renew our minds, giving us healing words to say. But this does not come in a rash way with impulsive gusts of words. It takes deliberate submission to the Lordship of Christ, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and the commitment to knowing the Word of God to do so. We have to repent of our impulsiveness and commit to submission to God. But we can speak words of healing if we will do so.

Lord,
I begin this morning looking at Your Word, so that you can fill my mind with Your truth. And as I think on it right now, would You use that truth to prune away selfish, sinful motivations from my speech and actions today? I want to speak Your healing words. I want Your redeeming work to give me a wise heart and tongue as I speak today.
Amen

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Swiftly Run


He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
Psalm 147:15

A new dawn rises
and in the east
Your Word has commanded
my new day begins

As light shines
into the window
I have been handed
a gift for all men

Your Word runs swiftly
like the light across these hills
always accomplishing
as Your desire fulfills

I have a chance
to obey Your command
to rise with this light
and live in good news

I too am Yours to control
chosen by You to be used
to shine gospel bright
and sin’s darkness diffuse

Swiftly runs Your word
into my own heart
always completing
what good thing You start