I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted waiting to develop the perfect, fail proof plan. I have to constantly remind myself that if God wanted to make me a robot that operates on strict step-by-step instructions, He would have. Instead, He made me creative, resourceful, able to navigate obstacles and has given me discretion over how I represent His interests. So, I must simply be led by a desire to please God, put my hand to the task before me with what I have and work to grow my stewardship. There is no need to agonize over my next move. If I first aim to have His heart and relate to the world as He does, my steps will be guided in the process.
So, listening to 90’s R&B yesterday evening has got me in my feelings and thinking about the blissful allure of an intense, all-consuming, never-ending love that characterized our music. And, sometimes I think I want that, but I’ve learned to ask, “Is that really good?” Is the way I want to be loved healthy?
If I can be real for just a second, I will admit that I sometimes struggle with wanting to be the center of my wife’s universe. But I know that isn’t good because I lack the “weight” or kabad to hold everything in her universe together. Being the center of her universe puts me in a position to do something I’m not built for -to sustain someone else’s existence forever. Conversely, it puts my wife in a position to be sustained by something that will surely fail (even if I were perfect, I have to die at some point). Apply even a little Bible and you’ll quickly find that my looking to be central to another: to be exalted and worshiped, isn’t love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…”
To be blunt the love trumpeted by most music is promoting idolatry -a diversion of attention to someone or something else for what we should be getting from God.
So, what SHOULD we want? Answer: an intense, all-consuming, never-ending love with the only one who can deliver it -God. I believe the first step in really enjoying love is to be completely satisfied with Him -alone. Only then, can we really love or be loved by others, because if God is love (1 John 4:8), to share love is to share God. And, for that He has to be central.
It strikes me how sternly and often Jesus spoke about hypocrisy (Matt 16:6, 23:28, Luke 12:1, etc). If the Teacher sees fit to warn about something and call attention to it repeatedly, it’s important and something I need to press into.
So, I’ve been praying for some time, “Lord, what is hypocrisy? What is the corruption in us that you are speaking to when you say ‘hypocrisy’? How do I identify it in me?” I believe this answer came to me during my study time today,
“Hypocrisy is to elevate oneself and condemn fault in others that we overlook in ourselves.”
This is informed by passages such as Romans 2:1, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” In short, we are all corrupt and corruption causes harm. Period. So, we’re all guilty and in need of mercy. If we have received such great mercy as that made available in Jesus Christ, we know it was not because we were worthy but because He is merciful, else mercy is not mercy. This should produce in us humility and compassion, definitely not superiority.
If I be surrounded by darkness,
And there is but one light faint in the distance,
Let me not focus on the darkness,
But on that light,
And move towards it until light is all I see.
I think it’s easier to be happy when you know there’s a part of you that will never be satisfied.
I believe there are ideas in the world that, when accepted, become part of us, such as the spirit that seeks fulfillment through indulgence, apart from God. This is biblically referred to as our “flesh” (not to be confused with our biology). We all wrestle with it and it can never be satisfied, not with any achievement, any possession, any experience, any relationship -anything. It robs us of joy and peace because it’s restless, discontent, constantly grasping but never laying hold of.
When my flesh is aroused and I find myself dissatisfied with my life, the temptation is to feed this hunger, to do something that gets me more of something: more enjoyment, more recognition, more money, more power. But this focus on “getting” runs counter to the purposes the Bible says we are created for: to be fruitful, to create, to produce -to give. So, I find the key to my peace is not feeding this fleshly hunger but to starve it, to redirect my focus and energy from what I want to get out of the world to what I want to put out into it that yields life. That’s where I find fulfillment.
Jesus put it this way, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” [Matt 16:25] What is His sake? That we may have life. [John 10:10]
My marriage, like anything God creates, is not just for me. It’s for the benefit of those around me: for my children, my nieces & nephews, for my community -for the world. Marriage is the gold standard of relationships and if I cannot maintain the relationship that claims to be based on love, it sets a really low bar for the others.
So, I must fight for love, the hope of marriage. I must fight towards my wife. I must work through our differences. I must bless her and not hurt her. I must help bring to bear her God-given gifts to the world. I must do this, even in seasons of unhappiness, especially in seasons of unhappiness. I have a pursuit greater than happiness.
Son, before you look for a wife, be about something, want something, do something worthy of devoting one’s life to. There’s no point in asking someone to be part of nothing. #husband
Nearly everyone knows that humility is not about puffing yourself up. But did you know that it’s also not about putting yourself down or pretending to be less than you are? Humility is somewhere between knowing that the world will go on without you and appreciating the capacity you have to positively impact it. Humility is context. It’s knowing that I matter only as part of something greater.
Frustrated and feeling overlooked, he still flashed a smile to his teammates, congratulating them on their touchdowns. After the game, sensing his dejection I said, “Work hard and keep finding ways to get open. It will come.” I then lauded him for having a good attitude even when things didn’t turn out the way he had hoped. I said, “You did the right thing, son.” He retorted, “What good is it to do the right thing, when it doesn’t get you anywhere?” I replied softly, “I’d take a good conscience over a good moment any day.”
He turned and looked at me for a moment, seeming to consider my words before looking out of the window. I hope he got it.
Son, I know you’re eager to leave home and take off with your friends because you all can do life better. I sincerely pray so. But dismissing what’s happening around us today as someone else’s problems will doom you to repeat the same mistakes.
The oversimplified solution is to merely shed ourselves of our parent’s generation’s thinking. I get that and once believed it. But, I offer you this wisdom: “There is nothing new under the sun.”
It has been my experience that the problems that currently plague our world are nothing new, they’re the same, old, bad ideas rearing their heads in different ways. It’s worth researching, contemplating and discussing today’s problems and how we got here -now, for your generation to even begin to have a hope of avoiding its trappings.