Monday, March 28, 2011

A prayer to know God fully & rightly

Dear Lord,
You have revealed Yourself to us in so many ways because You long for us to know You and to have a meaningful relationship with You. Sadly, though, we so often seek to create an image of You in our minds that contradicts who You really are, an image that we hope will bring us pleasure and comfort (but usually it only does so temporarily). Rather, may we desire most of all to be, do, & have that which is pleasing in Your eyes and that glorifies You to the world--even if those things are not what we would desire most at the time. We pray that while we can know You in such ways as through nature, in prayer, and in other people, we would always turn to Your revealed word, the Bible, to make sure that what we read, hear, and feel lines up with the truth. And may our knowledge of you not just be intellectual, but as that knowledge grows day by day, let it help us to deepen our relationship with you. In Jesus's name. Amen.

Blog description updated

Updated it a few days ago. Hopefully it will help you better understand my purpose for writing this.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"We" before "me" (but always with "He")

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...."

In writing this blog I'm, in a sense, sealing my decision to fully follow God's will as expressed in the Bible. And when it comes to those verses which demand our all, this verse is the essence of putting oneself fully out there. I must admit there are times when I grumble if my wife takes me away from "me" time. But in marriage, "me" must always come second to "we" (and Christ--the "He" in the title of this posting--must always be a part of that "we"). Not to say that married couples should stay joined at the hip every moment of every day. But "me" time should be used to help each partner grow in whom the Lord created them to be so that he or she will ultimately contribute to a better "we." Couples should pray for wisdom and be able to communicate with each other about when time alone and time together is necessary for the health of both the marriage and each person's well-being. In short, whether it's time spent together or apart, that time should always take the best interest of the Lord, the spouse, and the marriage into consideration.

I may never be called to give up my physical life for Kim. Or maybe I will. More important, though is that each moment of each day I must die to the part of me that wants to choose "me" over "we."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

1% goals: update

A while back, I wrote about 1 percent improvements (click on the title of this post to link back to that one). As is so often the case with me, I didn't actively plot a course toward those goals. But that 1% ideal hasn't left me (especially since I shudder at the idea of wholesale changes in short periods of time). So though my road to being all God created me to be is progressing slowly, it is progressing. Some improvements I've been making:
  • Read several minutes from the Bible each day.
  • Stay in contact with my stepson more often.
  • More reading blogs & tweets from others
  • Organizing my Facebook account so I can get more out of it
  • More time working on my creative writing
  • Eat better and exercise. My wife & I are eating healthier foods, and at least a few days per week we exercise. Nothing overly strenuous, but it's a start. I've been gradually cutting how much sugar I put in my daily cup of tea. We both have been using skim milk (used to be 1% milk, so there's a 1% improvement right there--ha ha). We've cut our evening ice cream down significantly. I've cut down my cappuccino from about twice per week to once per month.
Some areas I need to work on are improving my quality time with the Lord, getting deeper into the Bible, focusing more on God's mission for me & building my schedule around that more intently, and writing more to my wife. Of course that's just a start. Give me time. It might take a while, but one of these days those little improvements will make me a whole new person. So what if I'm 95 by then!  :>D

Friday, March 11, 2011

No little jobs, just little attitudes

As I rode the bus to work today, I saw college students reading textbooks or looking over class papers. Some of these students are taking a math discipline, others science, others history...and so on. I don't know these people, so only God can say for what purposes they intend to use their knowledge. Maybe one day some of them will work in seemingly innocuous jobs that they think won't make much of a difference either way, while others will boast of being in powerful positions.

I need to always remember to let God determine just how important or influential my job is. Just as He cares about our hair count, or whether a sparrow falls, so too He cares what we do regardless of how much value others place on it. The widow who gave the two small coins was barely noticed by the religious leaders. Jesus's response shows the true value of her "whispered" act, compared to the "shout" by the big givers. Likewise, whether one of these students becomes a professor at a powerful university or tutors one person, whether they write a series of bestselling books or one article in a newspaper...whether they see their work as important and influential or as worthless, it's all at God's disposal. Better to do all we do with a spirit of excellence and an attitude that says, "May the work I do and how I do it bring glory to God and blessings to others." That is ultimately the great equalizer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What are the greater crises?

(Click title of post to see story at World Magazine).
Is it true that our financial crisis is so serious that issues like abortion and marriage should take a back seat? Or is it true that as the writer states: "A nation is fundamentally a moral community. If we do not take proper care of our children, both in and out of the womb, there may not be a country to finance that we recognize as America"?

I know in past years I allowed myself to believe that voting for a "somewhat" pro-life or pro-family candidate was better than voting for somebody who favors less restrictions on abortion, etc. Now, I have a tough time supporting the "lesser of two evils" mentality, even if that means the candidate I dislike more wins the election. More and more I'm led to believe that when God sees we are going to stand for morality, even if the short-term result seems negative, He'll bless us in the end. If we allow short term victory by supporting people whose moral values conflict with God's will as expressed in the Bible, then I believe God will question (as it were) the strength of our belief in Him and what He stands for. In other words, it might be better to vote for nobody, or for a candidate with strong morals that has little or no chance to win. Of course, I still do struggle with this, knowing that by doing so some people would claim I'm helping to seal victory for the "wrong" candidate. What do you feel about that?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The whispered shout of I Love You

This morning, my wife whispered, "I love you." I didn't hear her at first, but eventually I did. Even if I hadn't heard her...even if she never uttered those words...I'd know she loves me by how she treats me. Now don't get me wrong. Saying those three words in addition to showing love is vital in a relationship, as I'm sure any marriage counselor would attest. It's also a reminder to me that if I intend to shout my love (or any good intentions for that matter) to my wife, to God, or to whomever, may my actions always sound at least as loud as my words.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity

I heard this on the radio this morning. Just one account of the many martyrdoms suffered by Christians through the ages, even up to the current day, for standing up for the name of Christ. Click on the heading to view the accounts of the godly courage of these Christians. How dare I turn away from Christ even for a moment for some petty trial that pales in comparison.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No carbon copies of the Lord

In recent days as I rode the bus to work, I've seen my stepson John's identical twin. Well, not really. But he could be. Same build, same facial structure, same hair color, similar clothes. I almost couldn't stop looking, and I half expected him to laugh, smack me on the back, & say, "Hey, Jeff, bet you didn't know I was here."

This young man I saw on the bus probably would have laughed at me, or had pity on me, or even beaten me up (yes, my stepson is pretty big!) if I tried to talk with him and scuffle with him as though he were my stepson. With good reason. I have developed that relationship with my stepson that I haven't (and quite likely never will) with this young man.

But imagine if I got to know this young man, and imagine I didn't have a good relationship with my stepson. And, imagine I was delusional and started to think, "I think I like George (his made-up name) better than John, so from now on he's going to be my stepson." That wouldn't make George any more my stepson than he was before. (And George would probably try to have me committed!)

Psalm 86:10 (click on the title of this posting for the verse online) says, "You alone are God." We might think that we can find, or create, another god that's better than the true God. Perhaps worst of all is those people who have been enlightened as to who the true God is, but they decide to reject certain aspects of the truth of His person and character and only follow what we like. From a distance, if you don't look too closely, this god looks like the real thing. Actually, it's further from being the true God than "George" is to John.

Please don't become too familiar with any god but the true God. Because if you do, in the end, you'll feel pretty beaten up.