Friday, June 19, 2009

Caught in the Cookie Jar

"The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, he will not even bring it back to his mouth!" (Proverbs 19:24).

Cookies are delicious. My favorite is a fresh and chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Cookies are made to be eaten. In fact, a good cookie doesn't last long in the cookie jar. It may not even make it to the cookie jar. But what if I hated the effort that went into making the cookie and also the thought of not having one on hand so much that when I put my hand in the cookie jar I couldn't bare to let go? This is the attitude and actions of a sluggard.

A sluggard wants, desires, covets, hoards, possesses but refuses to put forth the effort to plan, make, create, or even to consume. He just wants to hang on to what he has. He doesn't want to make any effort to replace, restore, replenish or maintain what he does have. He is stuck like a slug. No movement. He is a sluggard.

Are you stuck in some area of life? Is your hand caught in the cookie jar? Is it because you are afraid to lose what you do have? Are you thinking, "If I make any changes it will upset the apple cart"? Or maybe you want something but you are just not willing to put forth the effort to get it. Most of the time this effort is psychological or emotional. We are frozen by fear. Fear of failure. fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection.

Are you stuck with your hand caught in the cookie jar? You might have a sluggards attitude. Let go. Release whatever you are hanging on to - fear, possessions, your comfort and ease, security, a broken relationship, your pride, your anger, vengeance. Get moving. Have faith in God. Faith is acting on God's promises. Faith moves.

I smell the aroma. See the golden baked dough and the soft, melted chocolate chips. Now, what are you waiting for? Pull that cookie out of the jar. It's time to chow down.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oozing Jesus

When you squeeze a bottle of ketchup, what comes out? Ketchup, of course. When a Christ-follower is squeezed, what comes out? Well, you would think the character of Christ, the fruit of his nature. But as we all know that is not always the case.

When Christ was "squeezed" by betrayal (Luke 22:5), mocking and beating (Luke 22:63-65), false accusations (Luke 23:2), he did not retaliate or try to defend or justify himself. When Herod questioned him before the vehement accusations of the chief priests and the teachers of the law, he said nothing (Luke 23:9-10).

What comes out when you are "squeezed"? What comes out when you are lied to, or worse, lied about? What comes out when you are hurt, treated unjustly, belittled, overlooked, disrespected, or ignored? Proverbs says, "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint" (17:27a). There are times when it is best to say nothing. "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue" (17:28; see also 17:14, 19).

Saying nothing is saying more than you will ever know. Saying nothing shows the depth and quality of what is on the inside. Saying nothing reveals the degree of your faith. When we say nothing we are saying a ton. We are saying that I am a son of Royalty. My Father King will take care of the injustices. Nothing anyone can do to me can escape his sovereign rule and power. This King is Daddy. He will defend me.

Godliness is living life as if God is always present with you. You know that God sees, knows, and will act. By saying nothing you are relinquishing control and ultimately, justice to His hands.

Yes, Jesus said nothing. Yes, Jesus was put to death on a Roman cross. But he also rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father. And when he left, he sent his Spirit to indwell us, power from on high (Luke 24:49). So, the next time you are "squeezed", be sure you are filled (controlled) with the Spirit so His power and His character comes out.

Are you oozing Jesus when squeezed? You'll know by your words, or lack there of.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's Show Time! But Who Has Top Billing?

Today began my sixth month of unemployment. Many lessons have been learned. One of which is to be thankful for my weaknesses, trials, and for the unknown, because it makes me run to God. It makes me so aware of Him and desperate for Him. This is a good thing. After all, the point of my life is to point to Him. Life is all about Him. He is life.

It is easy, so human to go through life without a God-awareness. We live life as if each day is just another day and that there will be many more to come. We live life as if it is all about us and we are in control of it all. Francis Chan, in his book, Crazy Love, compared this attitude to a person who plays as an extra on an upcoming movie. For two-fifths of a second you can see the back side of his head. He rents a theatre for opening night and invites all his friends and family to see this movie which he proclaims is about him. This is stupid thinking. This movie is not about him.

How dumb we are to think the movie of life is all about us and that we have any control over its plot. Life is all about God. This chapter proclaims the sovereign control of God. "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" (16:9). " "To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue" (16:1). "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" (16:33).

Life is God's movie. He is the main character, but he invites us to play a part in his movie. Our part is to point to Him, to live for Him, to glorify Him. First Corinthians 10:31 says, " So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." In the words of Frances Chan, "That is what each of our two-fifths of a second is about" (Crazy Love, p. 44). Solomon says it this way, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed" (16:3).

It's show time. Give Him top billing!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Discipline: Look, Listen, Learn

Discipline is corrective, protective and instructive. It corrects us from error in our life, protects us from a way of life that is destructive and deadly (Prov. 5:23; 6:23-24; 19:18), and instructs us toward right living that is honored by the Lord (10:17). Discipline comes from the Lord, from yourself, and others (13:24). It is based on knowledge (12:1), knowledge of the truth. If there is no truth, no standard, there is nothing by which to make a judgment, to evaluate whether correction is necessary.

Our responsibility is to listen to correction (13:18; 15:31), even seek it out (15:12), and then apply it to life (9:8-9). Here are three practical suggestions to grow in discipline - look, listen, learn.

1) Look for discipline. Seek it out. Get the council and advice of others. Open up your life to as many trustworthy and wise people as you can. Schedule regular accountability. Ask your spouse if she sees areas in your life that need growth and change. Daily ask God to reveal sin in your life.

2) Listen to discipline. Don't be defensive. When someone corrects you, realize it is for your benefit, no matter how much it hurts. Take time in your life to reflect and think and do self-evaluation. Make solitude and sabbatical time a regular practice in your life.

3) Learn from discipline. It is one thing to recognize an area that needs correction, but it is quite another to make the necessary changes. Change is hard, especially those life long, stubborn habits. This requires regular, consistent discipline. The Bible calls this "training in righteousness". It requires repetition of new information and behavior. It will also require you to monitor, be on the alert, for the encroachment of old, stubborn sinful thoughts and behavior. Learning requires practice, practice, practice - discipline yourself for godliness. Write it down. Say it our loud. Share it with a friend. Ask for God's help and wisdom.