There are alot of things in our lives that have expectations: job descriptions, social behaviors, standardized tests, . . . . We put alot of expectations on ourselves about how a person should act, look, dress, speak, etc and I think that sometimes, Christianity or religion can be a really tricky “filter”. Looking like a Christian, talking like a Christian, dressing like a Christian doesn’t make a person a follower of Jesus. We can match up to all of the external expectations but in our hearts, we can be a million miles away from the reason Jesus died for us. The reason Jesus died for us was not merely to make our external image appealing, but moreseo to transform what’s on the inside of us. The defining distinctive Jesus identifies as being His follower is our love for each other (John 13:35). Loving well is very important 🙂
“YOU SHOULDN’T DO THAT!!!!” When we were growing up, you probably heard that a few times, as did I. Now that I’m an adult, I still hear those words in my mind sometimes. “You shouldn’t be driving so fast! You shouldn’t be sarcastic, you shouldn’t be so casual, you shouldn’t . . . . . ”
In religion, there’s lots of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” – we wishfully think that the right behavior will fix everything. From my perspective, this kind of thinking is like putting peacock feathers on a cow: accessorizing the external in an attempt to deny or compensate for the internal.
More than we realize our beliefs shape our behavior, so perhaps we would be better to consider what we believe as the first step. Yucky beliefs and thinking always result in yucky words and actions 🙂
It seems to me that most of us like things clean & shiny more than we like the work & effort that goes into making something shiny & clean. Yesterday, my kids & I cleaned out some of our garage. Needless to say, I found lots of undesirable junk (half eaten otter pops, sticks that were used as swords, an ancient waffle iron, wood planks, etc). After lots of sweeping, washing, moving, organizing, etc, part of our garage is not longer a hazardous waste dump 🙂
Sometimes, I think we need to do the deep cleaning work in our thinking, values, time usage & relationships. Life gets filled with clutter over the course of time & it’s tremendously helpful to declutter our lives from time to time so that we manage our time, money & energies to reinforce our central & timeless priorities – shiny clean 🙂
How’s that for a stupid question!?!! I don’t start anything with the intent to fail & I most certainly do not like to fail, full stop. But some of my thinking about success has been changing & I’m becoming more aware that many of my ideas about success have been more influenced by my American culture rather than the Bible. My culture says that success is all about being bigger, better, more, power, stronger, wealthy, popular, image driven, new, hip, trendy & all things glitz & glam. In the American culture, success isn’t about being broken, serving, homely, unpopular or tarnished, some of the things that Jesus personified & taught. The more I think about success from a cultural versus a biblical perspective, I have to conclude that my culture and the Bible don’t always agree. The important part of the disagreement is the side on which I chose to live. If I have to chose between being successful based on the Bible or on my culture, I’m going to side with the biblical definition of success 🙂
How about you?
Today in America, we remember the military men & women who have served our country along with those who have given their lives to defend liberty & freedom. Today, along with the 4th of July (our Independence Day), are very significant holidays for our country & it is very fitting & appropriate to honor people who serve. Whatever your political affiliations or beliefs may be, if we are devoted to Jesus’ teachings than we share a fundamental value that serving others is important. So happy Memorial Day & lets endeavor to remember to serve others 🙂
I read this morning about some high school seniors pranks in NJ who have been arrested for pranking their high school last night. Now I can’t really say that their behavior would fall into the “civil disobedience” category because it’s May, they’re seniors & might have possibly watched “Ferris Bueller”. With that being said, I also read this morning in Acts 5 about how Peter & some of his friends disobeyed the direct commands of the Jewish leaders by preaching about Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem, shortly after Pentecost & Jesus’ resurrection. In verse 29, Peter told these Jewish leaders they he had to obey God rather than man.
There’s a place & time for civil disobedience & some expressions of rebellion are even condoned by the Bible:
- It’s not ok to passively watch someone get hurt or bullied.
- It’s not ok to follow popular culture when it conflicts with loving God & loving people.
- It’s not ok to blindly do what’s popular, trendy or hip.
- It’s not ok to compromise your God-given identity to blend in for social acceptance.
Particularly when we are confronted with compromise, social acceptance and even being politically correct, let’s make it our fundamental priority to please God, end of story, full stop.
Just when we think we have everything planned & locked into place, God will often shake it up baby, causing us to twist & shout, sometimes in glee & sometimes with pout. It seems to me that human planning is the place God starts for divine upheaval. This makes me really appreciate when Isaiah says in 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”
Let’s be mindful to keep a tighter grip on God more than our plans 🙂
What’s your favorite food or activity? Have you ever had too much of something that is your favorite? We’ve probably all had this experience sometime in our childhood where we kind of overdosed on something that we really liked – teaching us the valuable lesson of moderation.
When it comes to Jesus, however, I don’t think that moderation is the best decision. In actual truth, I think that our humanity is perfectly designed to absorb & integrate more of Jesus than we can possibly imagine. We’ve got plenty of humanity but not enough Jesus 🙂
I’ve made some really dumb mistakes in my life – one of which was overvaluing intelligence. I think it’s almost humorous that I would say that because I’m still a massive advocate for education probably because I love to learn. Nevertheless, here are a few things that could be more important than being intelligent:
*character & integrity – people who are smart but lack character & integrity can be extremely dangerous!
*compassion – intelligence without compassion is very cold & sterile
*hard work – this seems pretty self evident
*forgiveness – when we don’t forgive, our world becomes increasingly smaller & smaller
These are just a few things I’m learning in my journey 🙂
Packaging & image are important ingredients in the modern world. It seems to me that we frequently make lots of snap decisions about situations & people based on our “first impressions.” The tragedy of this mindset is that we can easily overlook people and things that have great substance & investment. Perhaps the religious leaders in Jesus’ day made this mistake & didn’t take the effort to know Jesus beyond the superficial assessment they made of His ministry (not including Nicodemus).
What’s in our hearts has more lasting value than transitory & superficial images.