In God’s Will and Time

Wouldn’t life be great, abundant even, if we could get in sync with God’s will and His timing? Much of the heresy in the church today arises from false teaching about God’s will and timing. We are told that God wants what’s best for His children. That’s true. He knows what is best; we don’t. What’s worse some believe that we can change His mind about what’s best or when things should happen. Much of our prayer time is spent explaining to God what He needs to do and when He needs to do it. God must smile and shake His head a lot.

Abundant life isn’t a comfortable past and a “secure” future. It is the expectant joy in experiencing the surprising opportunities God presents us with each day. Life is exciting and satisfying not when God provides what we order up each day, but we experience what he supplies every day.

Irritation

I have become irregular in my postings.  I think it’s because I’ve been so irritated. I find I am more easily irritated lately. I realize that there were plenty of obvious irritations recently, the elections, the effects of the flood which never seem to end, the heat, the humidity, the incredibly stupid fall television shows.

I am hoping when the election and summer heat is over and the cool of fall and the holidays arrive, everything will be better. I think I may be fooling myself.

For example, social media isn’t going to go away with a change in the seasons. I find social media is a great source of irritation: People who think that Hillary will be a swell president. People who think that Trump is great and not just the least offensive alternative. I am so sick of seeing posts that promise that “this changes everything” or “Hillary is done.” or “Trump is toast.” Even when the election is over I’ll have to hear how great and how awful whoever wins is.

Social media is populated by people who feel it’s a great idea to tell me to “share” if I love Jesus, support the police, or  hate the police, or love my family. It’s my policy never to repost something that tells me to share even if I’m in total agreement. I’m irritable that way.

I can’t tolerate people who share posts from four years ago about issues that have long been resolved. They tell me about lost kids who were long ago found and are not irritating adults. They tell me about battles that were over long ago. Doesn’t anyone check anything out before they post. People who think it’s fine to use the “f” word on social media or discuss their love lives, or their lack of a love life. People who think I want a picture of what they had for supper or that they are at the market to pick up something to make for supper. People who think I will enjoy pics of their pets or their kids. Okay so I do enjoy those, especially pics of my own grand and great grand kids, but I’m getting irritated just thinking about those other things.

I would get off of social media but with whom would I share my political insight or how I love Jesus, support the police and love my family. No one else cares about what I had for supper or that I’m in the parking lot of Albertson’s while my wife shops, speaking of irritation.

Perhaps being irritated is just a symptom of old age. Maybe I need to be more irritating. I think I’ll buy a baseball cap and drive slow in my new compact car and irritate those behind me just as I have been irritated by old farts in the past. Maybe I’ll post on Facebook pictures of those irritated drivers who finally pass me up.

I say what’s the fun if you can’t irritate someone? Hope you found this post irritating. Let me know if. you did. It’s no fun being irritating if you don’t know for sure that you are.

Weddings and Funerals

Generally I have  not been a fan of weddings and funerals. I don’t like getting dressed up. I don’t like pretending to know people. I do enjoy avoiding getting people off the hook by saying who I am and how I am related to the guests of honor. Let ’em guess. I mean generally these events are not about me and so are no big deal. I enjoyed my wedding, the best I can remember. I’ll likely miss my own funeral.

I had to attend a wedding and a funeral this weekend and I was determined to make the best of it. With the proper attitude the funeral turned out to be a blessing. I didn’t really know the deceased, but she obviously was a loving person who knew and served the Lord. The event helped me refocus on what’s important: service and family. The length of the race is unknown; got to just keep on running.

The wedding turned out to be fun.  It was great to see an old family friend so happy. The service was nice and the food was great. There are truly beautiful women in my family who are a joy and blessing to me. It was great to see them all dressed up, dancing and having fun. Weddings remind us of how the Lord has blessed us in our own lives. They give us hope that there are still good things in a world that kind of sucks.

There were a lot of old people at both the wedding and the funeral. By old, I mean older than mean me, so really old. I hope I’m not turning into one of those old people whose only fun is going to weddings and funerals. That would be horribly ironic.

Excuses

Watching the news this week, I found myself commenting how terrible it is that some have used a tragic death as an excuse to riot and loot. This got me thinking about excuses and how easy it is to fall back on them.

If the Saints or Cajuns or Florida Gators lose on the weekend, I can make that an excuse to have a bad attitude to start the week. When my wife cooks a great meal, the excuse to overeat comes very easily. I felt very justified in getting angry when a woman in front of me in the check out line at Wal-Mart had way too many items to be in the 20 item line. I even counted her items under my breath as she checked out . Turned out she had 19. Our excuses are usually not valid or even factually accurate.

There are way too many excuses floating around. A lack of good choices is no reason not to vote. A tough day is no reason to be unkind when we get home. A few bad eggs is no excuse to condemn everyone of the same color, faith, or philosophy.

Probably most important of all there is no valid excuse not to share the love of Jesus, lifting a hand to those who are down, hugging those who are distressed, feeding those who are hungry, loving those who seem unlovable.

Thanks to the rioters for reminding me for so many important things, there is just not excuse.

 

Waiting or Procrastinating

All of us have times when things aren’t happening. We usually say we are “waiting” for something to happen. Sometimes, we are just covering up our procrastination.

Waiting is an honorable thing. We are waiting when we have done everything we can and the next move has to come from someone else. When that someone else is God, we are in a good place. Scripture often proclaims the appropriateness of waiting on the Lord.  When waiting our eyes are on God. Our strength is renewed. Peace reigns.

Waiting often means that something has started. Things have been done. There is movement toward a goal. Waiting implies that we know the next thing that needs to happen and we are prepared to act when it does. When we wait we are prepared, ready and faithful that God knows best about timing.

Procrastination occurs when the ball is in our court and we search for reasons not to take the next step. It focuses on our lack of preparation, readiness or faith. We doubt that anything is really in process. We consider that maybe we have taken a wrong turn or misinterpreted a word from God.  We spend a lot of time looking in the mirror.

Procrastination is a place of anxiety, worry and doubt. Waiting is a place of peace, confidence and hope.

If you are in a quiet time of life, consider are you waiting or procrastinating? That’s what I’m asking these days.

 

Please Don’t Call Me a Christian

Please don’t call me a Christian. I have many reasons for this plea.

“Christian” has no meaning. People are called “Christian” because they once said a prayer or because they go to church or because they live in a “Christian” nation. Maybe they just claim the title. There are no standards for being a Christian.

Christians have been embarrassing.  Some of these people who are called Christians have done embarrassing, sometimes hateful things that I don’t want to be associated with. Some of these things are mass sins like persecutions or enslavements. Others are personal like individual hateful words or hurtful acts.

Jesus didn’t call me that.  Jesus didn’t call us “Christians.” He called us disciples or followers. He described us as salt and light. These terms describe our ability to grow to be like him through his power and grace and to reflect his goodness and glory.  Disciples are identifiable by what He has done and not what we accomplish. “Christian” has come to mean “holier than thou” or hateful. Jesus said we would be identified by our love. That’s based on how we reflect his light and love, not on what we say we believe.

It’s risky to abandon the “Christian” label. There is some comfort and security in its vagueness. When we claim the mantle of discipleship, salt and light, there are objective signs that confirm or deny our claim. Our status can be proved or disproved. There’s a need to continually seek his face and, thereby, reflect his glory.

Masterpiece

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

I am God’s masterpiece. He planned good things for me to do long ago, before I was born. That means since I am still alive there are still things that He planned for me to do.  I haven’t completed all that He planned for me to do and there is still opportunity to do those things.

I notice that this verse is written in the plural. I suppose that means I am not intended to do these good things alone. There are others that I must work and serve with to get these things accomplished.

So what are these good things that God created me to do? I guess I could look at my natural talents and abilities for clues; but I was created “anew” so that I can do those things. Whatever I am to do is only possible since I am a new creature in Christ. I believe, therefore, that the tasks I am called to are things I am unlikely to be able to do on my own. Success in them is possible only in Christ Jesus.

There are lots of things I can’t do on my own. So there’s no direction there. God would not put all this work into his masterpiece and not give his direction. Time to listen for guidance, alone and in group.

 

Yield

There is a traffic sign in our neighborhood that I’ve learned to ignore. It suggests I yield to a street that has almost no traffic. At best I slow a bit to make sure no one is coming. I certainly don’t stop. I guess one day I will get caught, but it hasn’t happened in nearly thirty years. I’m feeling pretty confident in my civil disobedience.

We daily face a spiritual “yield” sign as well. I often blow by it with as much indifference as I ignore the sign in my neighborhood. I often take God’s instruction to yield as a “suggestion” not a command. Sometimes I ignore it because it’s not specific enough. “Yield what?” I ask. I know the answer is “everything.” I don’t know why I even ask. I know I could at least start by yielding something.

Our failures to yield, I believe, are the reasons we have floods, economic downturns, personal tragedies,  and political chaos. They are God’s attempt to get us to pay attention to the”yield” sign. It’s like posting a motorcycle cop on the corner where the “yield” sign has sat all these years.

Why don’t I understand that the command to “yield” isn’t arbitrary. It’s to keep me from the danger I get in when I try to run things myself. It’s to alert me as to just how unimportant are the gifts I’ve been given and how essential the Giver is.

Yielding is not the doorway to slavery; it’s the gateway to freedom. True freedom lives where we yield control of all to the only one who can see the road ahead, manage any roadblocks and arrange any necessary detours.

Maybe now when I see that neighborhood traffic sign, it will remind me of the importance of spiritual yielding. I sure hope so.