I went to Wal-Mart with marshmallow on my face. I had a spoonful of marshmallow crème recently, and a small piece invaded my beard. I didn’t realize it until I got home from shopping! I laughed as I thought, “O goodness, I was walking around the store and everyone saw it.” I am sure you have never had marshmallow in your beard, but you have had stains on your shirt. You bite into a hamburger and ketchup or mustard lands on you. Someone might say, “You have something on your shirt.” Otherwise, you go the rest of the day unaware. The same thing happens spiritually. We walk around with stains on our character and never realize it. For example:
- We are arrogant
- We lose our temper
- We habitually interrupt conversations
- We come across as bossy
We do this and are often unaware of it, even though everyone else sees it. Do you know someone like that? They have a flaw in their character and everyone knows it but them? Honestly, we probably all have flaws everyone detects but us. We all have marshmallow in our beards. We need a better sense of self-awareness, understanding who we really are and how we really act. Pray for wisdom and ask God to increase your self-awareness.
Yesterday, right before it was time to preach, the lights in the church went out. It was pitch black. Someone gave me a flashlight, and I preached a message on revival, from Psalm 85. To be honest, it made everything better. People had to focus in the dark. Not only that, it was easier to preach with boldness. It was just me, a flashlight, the Bible, and the power of God. It is a service I will never forget. The lights came back on as soon as church dismissed. It was surely a God thing and a good thing. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Just go with it and trust God. It might turn out even better than you expected.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. I love my children. They are such a blessing, but parenting is not easy. I thought about a beloved verse on parenting, Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.” What’s the first word: Train. Have you ever trained for something. It’s not a cake walk. I’ve ran several marathons. Each marathon requires 3-4 months of training. At the height of the training, I run 20+ miles on my long days, usually Saturdays. I once trained for a marathon in July. Have you ever ran 20 miles in the Summer? In Louisiana? Wow, it’s miserable! I had to run at 4am to finish before sunrise. Training for a marathon is not always fun, but I keep the end in mind, crossing the finish line. When you get frustrated and overwhelmed in parenting, keep the end in mind. The goal is for our children to follow the ways of the Lord. It’s worth the blood, sweat, and tears.
I love Amazon Prime. You hit a button and two days later a package arrives. Yesterday my front door was stacked to the hilt with Amazon boxes. I was excited to receive a hat, a book, some candy, and shoes for the girls, to name a few. Wouldn’t it be nice if prayer were like Amazon Prime? You ask God for exactly what you want. Two days later you get it. You want wisdom. It shows up at your door on Wednesday. Your sick and want to get well. You pray and two days later you are back to normal. You want a problem to go away. Ask God. It will disappear before the weekend!
It sounds great, but that’s not how prayer is meant to be. We learn wisdom, for instance, after years of instruction and maturation. For a current problem to end in two days would mean forgoing an opportunity to grow closer to God. Yes, it would be nice to be healed in two days, but God usually doesn’t operate that way.
Amazon Prime doesn’t always work. My wife wanted the girls to have new shoes for Easter. They had to be in Thursday before the girls went to the grandparents. The package came in Thursday, but was at the post office rather than my house. I went to the post office, but they couldn’t give it to me. They had to process it first. We got it the next day. One day too late. At least I can return them! God never delivers at the wrong time. You never need a return policy with God either. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts not our thoughts. Keep praying. Keep being patient. Keep trusting God. He is far superior to Amazon Prime.
Do you carry an idol in your pocket? You don’t have a literal carving of a god, or a statue, but you might have a false god with you. It is easy for your smart phone to become an idol. It is ever present, in your pocket or by your side. It is ever knowing, just Google it. It is all powerful too, always calling out to us, demanding a response, demanding our worship. A phone is not intrinsically bad, but we can become more attached to our phone than to God. When you lose your phone, or it’s damaged, how do you feel? You feel lost, anxious, and helpless. Something is not quite right. That is how we should feel about God, not our phone.
Siri and Google are not the ultimate source of information. God is. Social media cannot fill your relationship void. God will. You-Tube will not satisfy your soul. Only God can. Maybe consider fasting from your phone for a while. Stop checking Facebook. Seek His face. Don’t turn to Google. Turn to God. Listen to Yahweh, not You-tube. Get off Snapchat and chat with God!
Everyone is going through something. That statement was recently penned by Kevin Love, a professional basketball player. Love publicly acknowledged his struggle with panic attacks. It was difficult for him to recognize and admit. Love is wealthy and healthy. What does he have to worry about? Kevin Love is human just like all of us. He has his own problems, worries, and fears. If you are going through a tough time, you are in good company. Everyone has tough times. I remember openly sharing my struggles with depression. People thought, “You are a pastor, a man of faith. You have no reason to be depressed.” Pastors are human too. So are pro athletes. So too are stay-at-home moms, plumbers, and engineers. If you are not struggling right now, be mindful of others. You might interact with someone today who is anxious, depressed, or weary. Have patience. Have compassion. Have some sympathy too. Life is not easy. Just know, in Christ, there is always reason for hope. Keep pressing on!
I encourage you to read Love’s article here: Kevin Love Article
How passionate are you about God? Do you truly love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Are you excited about worshiping Him? Serving Him? Living for Him? We are passionate about sports, entertainment, and our children or grandchildren. To be honest, we often lack passion for God. I just preached about the passion of Caleb, see Joshua 14. He was a man that followed God with his all. No matter what, he burned with passion for God. I lack that passion for God at times. I assume you do to. Here are some ways to rekindle that passion for God:
- Pray, seek God, ask Him to relight your fire
- Get in the Word, not to just check a box or out of guilt, but to truly encounter God
- Confess sins, Psalm 51 is a great guide
- Worship God, sing to the Lord at church and during the week
- Step our of your comfort zone, do something that requires bold faith
- Get some rest, maybe you just need a nap
- Surrender to the Holy Spirit, let Him rule in your heart and life
Have you ever made a bad decision? Who hasn’t! Even great people of God make bad decisions. Joshua, for instance, made a bad decision, making a peace agreement with the enemy. He failed to turn to God. We often do the same. Here are 7 Steps to Making Good Decisions.
- Get all the facts. Luke 14:28, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”
- Take some time. Don’t get in a hurry about it, if you can help it. I always tell people, “Let me sleep on it.”
- Pray about it. You are inviting God into the situation. You are surrendering to Him as well. Ask about that specific situation. Ask God for wisdom too, not just for that decision, but all of life, see James 1:5.
- Read the Bible. Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” What does the Bible say about the matter? Either directly or indirectly.
- Get wise counsel. Talk to godly people you trust, who can give you good insight on the matter. Proverbs 11:14, “But in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
- Do what Honors God. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.”
- Consider how it will affect others. Your family. Friends. Church. Nonbelievers.
You may not use every step when buying groceries, but I encourage you to think through these questions when faced with decisions. It will help you seek God and be wise.
Be Kind, Rewind! The phrase was often seen on VCR tapes. The local Blockbuster or Movie Gallery encouraged you to be kind and please rewind. How frustrating to rent a movie that needed rewinding before you enjoyed! Times sure have changed. Blockbuster is a thing of the past. So too are VCR tapes. Even DVD’s are starting to phase out. Movies are now accessed digitally.
I want to encourage you to be kind, please rewind. I don’t mean a VCR tape of course. At the first of a new year we typically look ahead, planning the year and making resolutions. It is a great time to do that, to start fresh and seize the day. I also take time to look back at the previous year, to rewind the year if you will and reflect. I like to reflect upon and record:
- The girls’ birthdays and how old they turned
- Mine and Lori’s anniversary
- Any major event in the life of my family
- What marathon(s) I ran for the year
- What God did in the life of our church
- What God did in my life
We tend to live such busy lives. It is good to stop and reflect on the past. Be kind, please rewind 2017 and consider the goodness of the Lord!
I ran the California International Marathon a few days ago. It was a very challenging race. One thing that I will never forget is the blind marathon runners. I noticed at least three. They were paired to a running partner. Sometimes it was by a rope or nylon cord as in the above picture. One runner was linked with a plastic stick. It looked like a magic wand with a tennis ball on the end. It is hard enough to run a marathon. Imagine running one blindfolded, linked with another runner. You cannot see. You just have to run with faith, trusting the one you are paired with. That is sort of what following God is like. We are linked arm and arm with God. We cannot see everything, but we run with the eyes of faith. Trusting God each step of the way.