Monthly archives: January, 2016

List Of A Different Kind

 

 

List of a Different Kind

Just the other day, as I walked into a bookstore with my wife, she pointed out a book on display entitled How to be Kind. No, she wasn’t giving me a hint (at least, I don’t think so), and I didn’t pick it up to see what the author came up with. But days later, I’m still curious. What did he or she have to say to the rest of us? What made them decide that such a book was necessary? Was it written to all the people in their life that were unkind over the years? Had they learned a secret you or I don’t know about about how to really be kind, as if we were missing the target? Or was it simply a book of ideas, for that person out on a mission to be kind to others? And I wonder how many How to be Kind books have sold? I can tell you it wasn’t on the best seller’s shelf…which tells me something. In large part, people may not be looking for ways to be kind. On their list of things-to-do today, “be kind” probably didn’t make it. On my own list of things-to-do today, the same is true—writing about kindness was; being kind was not. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re unkind folks, but it does highlight the inherent intentionality behind kindness.

 

Did your parents ever tell you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? I suppose that might be a temporary fix to withholding damaging words or actions, but it doesn’t teach us long-term to be intentionally kind. Indeed, silence may be an example of kindness at times, but if love is an action, and it is, then silence may not fit most contexts. In Scripture, we are told to be kind (2 Tim. 2:24), put it on (Col. 3:12), and have our heart reflect it (1 Peter 3:8) because it appeared to us (Titus 3:4) and because we have tasted it (1 Peter 2:3). The backdrop to these exhortations? Fights and arguments, hate, religious differences, lying, and complaining. Against those we are told to reflect the kindness of Christ. Long ago and still today, kindness is on God’s list of things-to-do today, for He knows it will change us from the inside out. Consider adding “be kind” to your list today and watch God change the people around you.


“So When Did This Become Ok?” Love Is Patient!

Yoda patience

patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

 

Last week, I ran into our local grocery store to grab two things. In my mind, I thought this should be a quick process.  But in reality, I was in the Express line for a long time…waiting.  As I scanned the progress of the other lanes, I was sure that they were moving faster than mine. The longer I waited, I noticed I was unknowingly clicking my ink pen incessantly as if that could make the line go faster. Oddly enough, I caught my mind drift to what I would write about for this week’s blog. I laughed out loud as I knew that it was on the demand in 1 Corinthians 13 – “Love is patient”. And there I stood. Agitated. Agitated and busted I should say.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. There may be times when you pass me by on the highway and you may think I’m talking to myself.  I’m actually doing the driver’s version of a sports fan who talks to their TV in hopes that it will change the outcome of what is happening. I’m encouraging the person in front of me because they’re in my way, going too slow or making me late. Or what about all the internal eye rolling that goes on when I’m told to take a number, have a seat, or the Doctor will be right in (we all know that one is not true!) Surely, you can relate? I’m thinking some scenarios of times that you’ve experienced difficulty waiting patiently are popping in your minds right about now as well.

And what about the times we show impatience with those closest to us? We bark. Get snippy. Sit in the car and honk letting everyone know it’s time to leave.

Waiting. Patiently waiting. Why is this so hard? And these things are just the “small stuff” in life.

What about the “big things” that we wait for? A spouse. A baby. A new job. A restored relationship. A physical healing for yourself or a family member.  The salvation of a loved one. Ever feel like you’ve patiently waited for God to answer your prayers and wonder if he ever will? Abraham and Sarah can relate. Sarah was around 90 years old before she had the baby her heart yearned for and waited decades to have. (Genesis 16) Sometimes we wait and years pass then God totally surprises us and answers.

Ever patiently waited for God to answer your prayer and the answer turns out to look differently that what you anticipated? Jacob and Rachel can relate. Jacob worked to earn her hand in marriage for seven years; only to find that he married the wrong sister. He’d have to wait another seven years for the love that his heart was waiting for. (Genesis 29)

If you were in our house a few weeks ago, you may have overheard a conversation that started out with these words. “Since when did this become ok?”  And although I was only alluding to something as simple as the fact that my bathroom drawer and cabinet had become extremely un-organized and cluttered, my mind quickly aimed that question towards something of more worth. There was a trend of impatience in my life ranging from traffic, red lights to my family members that was affecting the overall tone of our home and was becoming contagious to my kids.

I asked that same question about my impatience that day that I will ask of you with yours, “Since when did this become ok?” What do you say we choose to not be ok with it? What if we all take a step in the right direction in this area of patience. What if we start with something as simple as waiting patiently at those red lights?  What if this week we choose to love those around us well. After all, “Love is patient”. Who’s in?

 

 

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion,

 kindness, humility gentleness and patience. “ -Colossians 3:12


Perse-what?

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I’m supposed to be writing a blog about perseverance and I wonder if I know anything about such a topic. Have I persevered? Have you? I knew I could have defined perseverance by giving a synonym such as “endure,” and if pressed further, I could have come up with something more scholarly like, “endure through difficult circumstances,” but still I was drawn to the old-fashioned dictionary. Surely, the geniuses at dictionary.com know everything there is to know about words, right? Their take: “steady persistence in a course of action or purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” Okay, so I wasn’t far off. Surprisingly, they also offer a definition in terms of theology. Bingo. This is their offering: “continuance in a state of grace to the end.” Both of these are extremely enlightening, and if we marry the two, I wonder what we might learn or how we might be challenged.

 

What if I, what if you, steadily and continually persisted in a relationship in spite of difficulties, obstacles, and discouragement in a state of grace to the end? Does that thought scare you? Cause anxiety perhaps? Maybe you don’t believe that such a relationship exists or can.

It’s not worth it. You don’t know what they’ve done. Too many obstacles and too much discouragement. I’ve checked out. They are no longer allowed in emotionally. They are dead to me. I persevered long enough and it didn’t work.

Let us also remember that Jesus, our example, doesn’t check out, only persevere a short while, or write us off. Rather, He continues in a state of grace with us to the end.

 

As I pondered perseverance a little more, I was struck by the blatantly obvious nature of the necessity of difficulty for perseverance to have any chance at manifesting. In fact, each of the demands—all 14 of them—can only thrive in the fertile ground of difficulty. There’s no choice to be patient with someone who always agrees with me and caters to my every desire. Hope isn’t hope if hopelessness never seems like a viable option. And so it goes with every demand of love. Because you’re reading this, I know you’re human. And because you’re human, I know you are in relationship with others. And because you are in relationship with others, I know you must persevere…in a state of grace…to the end.


New Year New You

 

New Year New You

Well, we’re only a few days in. How are things going? You know, with those New Year’s Resolutions that is. Whether you cringe or get an adrenaline rush from speaking those words, it’s inevitable; the new year is here. Have you decided that you’re going to go for it this year and have already made some new resolutions? Or are you not even going to “waste” your time because you feel like you will fail anyway?

Don’t you think that it seems like there needs to be an extra week at the end of the year between Christmas and New Years just to be able to plan what your resolutions will be?  How can it be that we go from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas in what appears to be days? Before you know it, it’s time to watch the big ball drop in New York and there’s nothing written down to accomplish for the year.

Can you relate?

I’d venture to say that we all know the agony of just trying to decide if we really want to make the list.  The long list that is basically acknowledging just how many things you need to improve in your life. Seems so daunting. But, you decide to go for it.

The typical first week, you’re feeling good about yourself.  You’re “on” 7 days in a row; what’s another 358 days, right?! But in reality, we all know week two and week three arrive. Life happens. You miss a day or two. You get behind. You feel guilty. You quit.

Another year goes by. And in a spiritual sense, isn’t this exactly what the devil wants? For us to stay exactly the way we are…not growing, defeated, stagnant, the same. How can we stop this cycle?

What if we shifted our expectations of what “success” is and not be so hard on ourselves? Last year, I wrote down a list of resolutions. No, I did not excel in every area entirely; but, I progressed in a good majority of areas. Even better, I gained some perspective along the way. I got to the point where I asked myself, “Why am I trying to reach perfection in all these areas?” That accomplishment would be too much for the most driven person around.

Are your feet pointed in the right direction? Are you growing and further down the road in an area than you were last year? Give yourself some grace. Call that progress. Jesus does.

So, let that give you courage in making resolutions for this year.  Remember that a resolution is really just a firm decision to do or not do something. Don’t complicate it. Author Francis Chan puts it this way, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter”.

Follow Joshua’s example in having resolve, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”. There’s no muddy area here. Have the same kind of resolve in your resolutions each day.

Go ahead. Grab a pen and paper or a seat at your computer. Make the list.