Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pray, click, delete.

Lately I’ve become obsessed with the game FreeCell, a game that comes preloaded on every PC sold these days. I would tell myself, “this is a good way to exercise the mind… get the blood flowing in the morning." But I would often find myself going back for a FreeCell fix time and time again.

Phone ringing? Load up FreeCell while on the call. Waiting for the printer to print? Time for FreeCell! Dinner waiting at home? Oh, we still have time for one more game. Okay, maybe two.

Time out. Is this the plans the Lord has for me? Training to become the national FreeCell Champion? Will honing my skills… how to get the red nine over to the black ten… really advance God’s Kingdom? Time for action. So I just deleted FreeCell from my hard drive. Gone. More time for work, family, community, God.

Easy, huh? Wouldn’t it be cool if we could tackle all of our shortfalls this way. Alcohol? Hit the delete button. Porn? Into the recycle bin (shred that one). Those extra donuts… those hurtful words… those worldly ambitions. Click. Gone.

I may sound na├»ve, but I believe we have that power – to put our sinful ways in a place where they are off our desktops – in a place where we can’t retrieve them. Maybe it’s not as simple as a drag and drop – but prayer and daily devotion can do wonders. God can intercede and take action even with our most compulsive behaviors if only we ask – and let Him in.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

borrowed thoughts

Blog surfing this afternoon... came across one I wanted to save. will u?

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Question of Love

Our church service yesterday was “dialogue day” – a chance for people to ask questions of our pastors and elders on matters of faith, the bible and the church. Afterwards, Raj, a man I had just met that day, remarked how he most enjoyed the questions from the younger people in our congregation… simple questions, he noted, that got to the heart of our walk… with no simple answers.

I’ve been thinking about one of those questions this morning… “Why did Christ have to die?” After all, God (being God) could have simply snapped his almighty fingers and achieved the same results… salvation with a good beat.

You think about the love God has poured out to us… and how we (aka I) respond to that love many times with apathy, selfishness, defiance and sin. How many hits can a relationship take before it becomes dissonant and totally irreconcilable? What does it take to restore a relationship that has been stepped in so many inconceivable ways?

In my home, if I forget to take out the trash, a simple “sorry” can usually right the ship. Forget an anniversary? Well, there better be some flowers involved. I guess the deeper the hurt, the more it takes to restore the balance… the trust… and the love. What then would it take to restore a relationship that’s been damaged in every way possible… by murder, dishonesty, unfaithfulness, deceit, lethargy, greed, and more, time and time again?

To restore such a relationship, it would take the greatest act of love ever possible. Every act of love, by definition, comes at a cost. So it’s not surprising that the greatest act would come at the highest cost. It was not enough that God would sacrifice his only son… it was not enough that Christ would endure the lashings, the nails, the beatings, the thorns, the struggle and pounding inside as the body struggles to breathe once more… I think this act becomes even more powerful and amazing because Christ himself was God. The almighty Creator, the Sovereign King, the Almighty Lord took on the pain of rejection, crucifixion and death in order to restore the balance… the trust… and the love.

Christ paid the price to restore the relationship… and through Him I am saved. Halleluiah! Halleluiah! Halleluiah!

PS: Happy Anniversary, Eileen!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Finding Jeremiah with my GPS

My wife and I were driving to Fairfield today, and the GPS system must have been set on “shortest distance” vs. our usual “fastest route” because we made more turns on more tiny side streets that I even knew existed. A ten minute ride on the highway (the long way) took us nearly a half-hour by taking the “short cut” programmed into the navigation system.

And it made me wonder… is God’s way the shortest distance or the fastest route? I’ve been spending a lot of time in Jeremiah this month, and I keep coming back to Jeremiah’s prayer (10:23-24).

I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own;
it is not for man to direct his steps.
Correct me, LORD, but only with justice—
not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing
It always brings to mind one of my favorite verses from Psalms (25: 4-5)

Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
So many times when I’ve felt lost in life, it has been comforting to know that the path is already there… I don’t need to build the road… I don’t even need to find the road… I just have to allow myself to be directed towards it… and then make the choice whether or not to walk it. The road is already there. And it’s already been walked by Christ.

And you know what? Once you know that, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s the quickest route or the shortest route – because it’s the only route that gets you to where you need to go.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A Devoted Devouter

I read this week that Mary-Kate Olsen of Full House fame will be playing the role of “a devout Christian” on an upcoming TV series. And it made me think… is there such as thing as a non-devout Christian?

The dictionary lists two definitions for the word “devout”… 1) devoted to religion or the fulfillment of religious obligations; and 2) sincere, earnest. If you Google “devout”, you’ll find the word is often used to modify Christian (Muslim, atheist, etc.) but there are also non-religious references, such as a devout bachelor, devout mother, devout husband.

One doesn’t wake up each day and say “I think I’ll be a mother for today” – being a bachelor, a mother, or a husband are all undeniable points of fact. And as there are clearly “bad mothers” and “irresponsible husbands” – the word “devout” is a good modifier, letting you know who is serious and who isn’t.

Sadly, being a Christian these days seems to follow the same line of thinking – more likely to be a point of fact, and less a point of faith. Ergo, I guess the word “devout” lets you know whose label is really sincere.

You would think that if you scanned the Bible you would find thousands of references to “devout” people – after all, those Bible folks were certainly sincere in their faith. But that descriptor is only used a handful of times, and often to depict someone like Cornelius, a Roman Centurion who you wouldn’t expect to be one with the Lord.

I guess back in the day, if you called yourself a Christian, the word “devout” would simply be redundant. And superfluous.