Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Choosing Jesus Daily

"Ours is the first generation in American history that has been born into a world where Christian truth is no longer the reference point for defining the story of humanity."  I don't know who wrote this, but I ran across it in my reading this week.  As I think about it, I unfortunately have to agree.  Privatized faith, pluralized beliefs, marginalized religion and relativized values have contributed to the spiritual restlessness that exists today.  Ours is a morally gray world where absolute truth has been replaced by "if it makes me happy, it works for me." 

The compartmentalization of our lives has brought about spiritual drift.  As a result, we have a decision deficit.  This undermines the very core of our relationship with Christ and fuels the inconsistency we struggle with.  The way that we (Christians) can combat this is to realize that our decision to follow Christ must not be taken lightly. As Jesus said, we must "remain" in Him.  That word means "maintain unbroken relationship with."  This implies a choice that is followed by ongoing choices.  Like the recovering alcoholic who has to decide day by day (even hour by hour) that he will choose not to drink, Christ-followers must decide day by day who it is that we are going to follow/serve.  We have to choose Jesus every day!  That's what a living sacrifice (Roman 12:1-2) is all about. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Are You Thinking?

Sometimes you look at the actions of another person, shake your head, and ask yourself, "What were they thinking?"  You might utter those words under your breath or even be so bold as to flat out ask the person.  Typically it's not a positive question.  It is usually thought or uttered with total disbelief.

Let's take it a different direction.  What are you thinking?  Perhaps I should ask, "What are you focused on?"  What grabs your heart today?  What is it that you value most?  Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).  The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."  In Proverbs 27:19 we read, "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man." 

These and other verses tell us the importance of right thinking.  What we think about impacts our hearts.  The fruit of our lives flows out of our hearts.  I think it's safe to say that godly thinking will ultimately produce godly living. 

You might be thinking right now, "That's not very deep."  But review your attitudes, thoughts, and practices over the past three days.  What were you thinking?  Now ask, "What am I thinking?"

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Tyranny of the Urgent

I am in a season of life that seems to have no slow down in it.  My summer was extremely busy, filled with a lot of good things.  We threw in a surgery for my wife, a month-long visit by my oldest daughter and my grandson (and my son-in-law was here for a week), our awesome Vacation Bible School at church, several trips to the hospitals and rehab centers to visit ailing congregational members (all trips were long ones - our nearest suburb where everyone goes is Fort Wayne), and, oh yeah, a vacation!  Then school started and my youngest daughter is in volleyball and we are out most evenings at games.  We even have an all day tournament tomorrow that is 2 hours away from home. 

I say that knowing that your life is probably as busy as mine, if not busier.  So here's the question:  What things are important and what things are urgent?  I know I allow a lot of urgent things dominate my time rather than keeping the important things at the forefront.  Then I complain that I don't have time for the really important things.  I have to work very hard at making this distinction and then prioritizing my schedule.  If I don't, the urgent becomes a tyrant.

A friend of mine once said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."  Any thoughts?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Confessions of a Baseball Junkie

I have to admit that I am a bit of a baseball junkie.  I have followed baseball since childhood when I listened to my first game on a transistor radio (for those who don't know what one is, google it!).  Don Drysdale was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Despite growing up less than two hours from Pittsburgh, I became a rabid Dodger fan until my wife, children, and I moved to San Diego in 1988.  I "converted" to being a Padres fan and enjoyed watching the great Tony Gwynn master the art of hitting into the 5.5 hole.

If I haven't lost you, let me get to my point.  San Diego is a beautiful city for baseball.  There are many distractions that keep people from going to games - the mountains, surf, zoo, wild animal park, museums, water parks, etc. - all compete for people's attention.  I loved going to games at the old ballpark - Jack Murphy Stadium (I know it's called Qualcomm not but the old name just sounds better).  The new stadium, Petco Park, is absolutely gorgeous - a great place to watch a game.  I've enjoyed taking my youngest daughter, Bekah, there on two occasions.  I get a thrill just walking into the stadium.  I love the smell of the ballpark (not just the brauts!).  The rich green grass, pristine white chalk lines and brown base paths simply take my breath away!  And when the Padres take the field, the fans go crazy letting the team know they are behind them all the way!  When we are there, we expect the team to win. 

Shouldn't that be the same feeling when we go to church?  Shouldn't worship be a time when believers gather together to experience the awe of being in the presence of Almighty God?  Shouldn't it be a heart-stopping, life-changing, celebration of the Lord of the universe?  Why do we let so many other things distract us from going, and even when we are there, distract us from what our focus is to be?  We worry to much about little things.  Insignificant things.  Petty things.  We allow the temporal to keep us from the Eternal.  Does God sense our "support?"  Do other believers?

Some people think that it's the pastor's job to make things exciting.  I agree that all church leaders have a responsibility to eliminate distractions and center the focus on God.  At the same time, every believer walking in to the "stadium" has a responsibility to support the "home team."  You have to come expecting to win.