Perhaps I need to be less concerned about doing more FOR God, and more concerned about doing everything WITH God.
Jay lived on an island with a large tribe. His complex culture had evolved over the centuries and included religious practices that were also complex, and at times, difficult to understand. Jay didn’t think too much about it. He just followed the culture’s lead and worshiped in a similar fashion to the vast majority of his tribe. He worshiped many gods, as did most of his tribesmen. Not even knowing the gods’ names, he just followed the rest of the tribe and made his sacrifices like everyone else.
He did at times wish life could be simpler. Worshipping so many gods kept him busy. They constantly harassed him, wanting attention, demanding he sacrifice for them. They all yanked him about like a fish on a hook. Though he didn’t know their names, he could feel their pull. There was the god of Others’ Opinion. The god of “Jay is in Control.” He was closely related to the god “Have it My Way.” Then there were Appetite and Desire gods, and their very powerful relative, Lust. The Fame god, Pleasure god, Power, Riches & Security god . . . the list was way too long.
On his stroll through the streets of Manhattan, Jay walked past the Madison Avenue Baptist Church. He was thinking about his to-do list and the sacrifices the gods were demanding this week when the joyous singinging of the worshipers in the church caught his attention. He took a quick glance at the church sign. “Love the Lord God with all your heart. No one can serve two masters,” it said. He stopped for a moment and pondered the meaning of it. What a simple minded bunch, he thought. Did they not know about all the other gods? As he resumed his walk, his thoughts went back to his to-do list and the sacrifices all the gods required. His shoulders slumped a bit and his once purposeful steps degenerated into a slow shuffle. Life would be so much more peaceful, so much more joyful, if I could serve only one god, he thought.
Proverbs says to trust in the Lord and don’t rely on your own understanding. I think I often try to do the first part while ignoring the second part. It’s more like “I’m trusting you Lord to help ME figure it out.” One big problem with that approach is that it leaves no room for God to do something bigger than I can understand.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NET
Have you ever thought about the difference of being conformed vs transformed? You can conform a square peg to fit into a round hole by cutting down the corners and forcing it in. If you transformed it into a round peg by completely re-making it, that would be a whole different experience. The conforming process forces something to be other than it was designed to be. The transforming process makes it something entirely new. The conforming process results in compromise and corruption of the original. The transforming process results in a new creation. A bonsai tree is the result of conformity; continuous tiny cuts and confining the roots to a tiny container, until you stunt the tree growth and force it to stay small. A giant Sequoia tree is the reslult of transformation . . . a tiny little seed transforms into a gigantic wonder.
I want to be transformed, not conformed.
Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.
– Romans 12:2 NET http://bible.com/107/rom.12.2.NET
I’m taking a big risk today, living life on the wild side, throwing caution to the wind, and doing something absolutely crazy. I took my precious cell phone out of its case and left the house with it unprotected. That’s right. As I write this, my cell phone is sitting on the table at Wendy’s with no case, no rubber cover, not even a screen protector. It’s wierd. I feel vulnerable and liberated at the same time. The screen is so smooth and bright. The phone feels so sleek and light in my hand. It slips in my pocket like it’s coated in butter. I love it.
Do you ever think about how strange it is that we shop for the sleekest, nicest aluminum-framed bright-screened phone then promply engulf it in a giant rubber encasement and a screen dulling plastic film? We do it because it’s precious to us. We don’t want to damage it. So instead, we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy half the qualities that made it precious to us in the first place. It reminds me of Ecclesiastes.
I’ve been reading the book of Ecclesiastes lately, and I think it could be summarized like this: Cell phones wear out. All cell phones break sooner or later. Enjoy it while you have it. Make the most of it. Use it to the max. But treat it like it belongs to God, because it really does. And look to God to provide something even better when this cell phone dies.
Here is a headline from today’s tech news…
A Wisconsin company will let employees use microchip implants to buy snacks and open door
The article, found here, explains that employees will have chips implanted in their hands so they can purchase snacks and gain access. Here’s a snippet from the guy who provides the technology: . . . Westby speculates on a future where RFID chip technology is used for “your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities,” . . .
That was just published. Now compare it to something published around 2000 years ago:
The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave ) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast – that is, his name or his number. – Revelation 13:15-17 NET
I will let you draw your own conclusions, but consider what a little more hacking and identity theft might do to public opinion regarding implanted chips.
The Bible is full of examples where God saved people from evil intensions, rescued people, conquered armies, etc. My problem is that I often don’t recognize my personal battles as modern day versions of the same thing The book of Psalms is full of scriptures about how the Lord will vindicate, rescue, deliver, help to conquer . . . but do I realize that applies to me? He can rescue me from the evil person who is battling me on the job, at the office, in the market place and community, just like he rescued David from the evil people that wanted to take his life.
This doesn’t mean that bad things will never happen to me in life. But I do think that the principles of victory in the Bible apply to me just like they did for David or Samson or Paul. My adversary may be called George instead of Goliath but my God is the same yesterday today and forever.
I stopped by the Dunkin Donuts on the way to work this morning and bought a dozen donuts. I left with 12 of my favorites, but no blueberry donuts. I like blueberry donuts. But Dunkin doesn’t make one. They make something called a blueberry donut, but if you look at the ingredients, you may notice one ingredient conspicuously missing. You guessed it. No blueberries. In my opinion, you can’t make a blueberry donut without blueberries.
I guess Dunkin makes a donut with some blue food colored specs and a bit of artificial flavoring and they call it a blueberry donut. They can call it whatever they want. It’s not a blueberry donut. Maybe this bugs me because it seems like false advertising. It feels untruthful, and a little arogant. As if you can make something true just by declaring it so. It reminds me of one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
There is an amazing truth in that statement. A realization that it doesn’t matter what you call a thing or what you may pretend it is or isn’t. The truth of what it really is still remains. It’s true of donuts, roses, and people.
It seems like it’s been raining in Atlanta for a month. Truthfully, it’s only been about a week of rainy days. But when sky’s are grey and the rain won’t stop, sunshine seems like afar away memory.
A week of daily downpours has our yard a muddy mess. The ground can’t soak up any more water. The grass is being washed away and we almost have a swamp in our back yard. We’ve had a lot of rain. But what we haven’t had, is a wet basement. I am very thankful for the dry basement.
In times past, this much rain would have surely caused a small lake to form in my den. This year, at least so far, we have avoided it. For sure God’s grace and mercy is involved, but I think He has also helped me avoid it by other means. Namely, hardship, experience, and preparation.
The hardship of drying out a basement multiple times over the years has taught me several things. The first is that drying out a basement is a real pain in the butt, so I don’t want to do it if I don’t have to. The second is that I have to be diligent about preparation. I can’t procrastinate. If the gutters are full of leaves and overflowing, and if downspouts and landscaping don’t send the water away from the house, I’m in trouble.
This year, I’ve been on the roof cleaning gutters several times, even once or twice in the rain. It beats dealing with a flooded basement any day. But it’s really hard to make myself do it sometimes. Especially if there is no rain in the forecast. Here’s a word of advice: Sooner or later, there is always rain in the forecast. Do yourself a favor. Fix the gutters while the sun is shining.