In my distress I called to the Lord…Psalm 18:6
If our high school would have had a debate team, I would have been absolutely the last person picked to be on it! I’m amazed at the way some people can eloquently deliberate a topic with conviction and finesse. Still others can bark an opinion and slam you with a defense that leaves your head spinning. I simply smell controversy or conflict and nearly trip over my own feet trying to get away from the conversation! We all have our own opinions and we all have the ability to make choices but that doesn’t mean we are obligated to yell them out. As Christians, it’s up to us to make sure our opinions and choices are based on truth and rooted in Scripture and Church teaching. Seems simple enough right?
As a society we don’t like to be told what to do. We aren’t so good with rules and regulations and I wonder if that is because there are so many voices yackin we can’t even hear the truth anymore. As the presidential race begins to gear up I find myself not listening to any of it because I’m not sure where to find the truth in it. I’m not sure what happened to right and wrong; good and bad but we seem to live in a world full of clauses and sub-groups and exceptions. Some days I think gray is the most popular color in America. A very wise man I know always used to say, “Just do the right thing and keep your mouth shut.” Imagine what would happen if everyone was told to follow that advice for a day! What would happen if everyone was told they couldn’t say one thing for a day unless it was based in truth and steeped in Scripture?
A person could get pretty upset and discouraged with the state of affairs we seem to be in right now; but then that’s exactly what Satan wants. He would be delighted to think he’s reduced us all to a society of bickering, selfish, self-centered, slandering, lying, cheating, stealing idiots. He would be delighted to think we’ve forgotten our mission to seek the truth, live the truth and love the God who created us. Well news flash…WE HAVEN’T! I have come to realize a couple important truths of my own in the last couple days that seemed to yank me right out of my disappointment with our current state of affairs. The first; when we get to heaven we won’t present a summary of our best earthly actions nor will we be judged in groups. We are flying SOLO so it is our sole responsibility to make sure the choices we make and the opinions we base our actions on are in line with the will of the Father. One thing that is not gray…following the will of the Father is often very hard! He cares about our character not our comfort. The second; God is bigger than anything going on here on earth! He’s mightier than any ruling, leader, mandate or current event. He’s the one we should be aligning ourselves with, seeking protection from, gaining wisdom from and hanging on every word from. In order to do that well; to really follow His lead; we need to spend time in conversation with him. What would happen if the next time we see a post, or hear a news report that bubbles up our blood we stopped before reacting and spent a moment or two in prayer. Before we spout off our opinion what if we asked the Holy Spirit to inspire our words to be truthful and steeped in Scripture? God is bigger, richer, stronger and mightier than any of us combined but in order to see all of that clearly revealed to this hurting world, we have to live like we love him and become a world that prays first before anything else!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three “things”, “people”, or “groups” that seem to bother you most. Your task for the next week is to pray consistently for those three things. In your prayer, ask God to guide your actions and reactions to those three things.
Blessings on your day!
So the last will be first and the first will be last. Matthew 20:16
How long would it take you to come up with a list of chores you really don’t like to do? If you’re anything like me you often try to get somebody else to do those. Let’s face it, some tasks are just awful and nobody wants to do them. Today I’m going to suggest that those are exactly the jobs we should be doing before anybody else gets a chance. Now before you quit reading thinking I’ve lost my marbles let me explain what I mean.
I think sometimes we get things a little backwards and forget the importance of humility and the blessings that flow from simple humble service. I heard a story not long ago about a man who makes it a point to always pick up the paper towel from the floor any time he goes into a restroom. You might be surprised to learn that the man is a famous executive. His car needed a repair while he was traveling on business one day so he pulled into a small gas station for the repair. He waited patiently and as usual, after using the restroom he picked up all the stray paper towel that littered the floor. When he was paying his bill he offered his kind thanks, included a tip for the repairman and his check was met with a question from one of the station employees. The young man said he knew what the restroom looked like before and he knew this man was responsible for its transformation and he wanted to know why a man who was rich and powerful would feel it necessary to do a job even he didn’t want to do. The man smiled and told the young man it was a simple task to keep him aware of how important humble service was. As he was leaving the station he looked at the young man and said, “I don’t ever want to get too big for my britches or think I’m better than someone else. We all have to find ways to take care of each other.”
I think as a society we are insulted and offended too easily. It’s easy to think things “aren’t our job” or that some tasks belong to those with less seniority or authority. Sometimes following the example of the executive is more beneficial for us than it is for anybody else. This week a tornado ripped through a neighboring town leaving a path of destruction. Praise God nobody was seriously injured but what a disaster! Social media and network news has been full of great stories since the storm of the teamwork, compassion and selflessness being witnessed as Portland cleans up. People helping others, taking care of each other, doing great humble service for people they know and people they don’t know. It’s a beautiful thing to see unfold. I thought to myself yesterday, what if that’s what we did every day? What if that was the norm instead of the exception? What if we just did stuff for others because we were able to?
The most powerful thing about humble service is that it completely removes us from the picture. We don’t do those nasty little tasks like picking up restroom paper towel in order to advance in our career or get a raise in pay, we do it simply to serve others and it is in those simple acts of selflessness we may truly serve God. I can take out the trash even if it’s not my job, I can clean out the pig pen even though the pigs aren’t my 4-H project, I can pick up paper towel in a restroom even if I didn’t drop it, I can give someone the closer parking spot. It’s all humble service…now I just have to remember to do it!
A Seed To Plant: Take a couple days to pray with this thought then like the executive, pick something you can do as an act of humble service.
Blessings on your day!
Come follow me…Matthew 4:19
I’m sure to someone who drives a truck or travels extensively for work my week didn’t seem like much but to the woman who has a 3 mile commute to work it was kind of a big deal! I spoke to a wonderful group of women in Madison Wisconsin on Wednesday and traveled to Franciscan University in Steubenville Ohio for Shannon’s college orientation on Thursday. It was 24 total driving hours according to GPS calculations however it ended up being nearly 34 in reality. But…as he often does, God had some lessons smack dab in the middle of the unplanned and unpredicted!
I thought I was so prepared. I had printed MapQuest directions, OnStar and three smart phones in the vehicle on the way to Wisconsin. I was sure we would scoot around the lower side of Chicago and fly right along. Not the case! I was completely enjoying the company and conversation of three great travel friends and listening to the OnStar lady politely point the way. That was the only thing I was paying attention to until I saw the Sears Tower in the distance. I thought I’d be routing around the city any minute but the tower just kept getting closer until we were completely stuck in six lanes of thick traffic. Yuck! I think it’s fair to say that even the super close view of the landmark Sears Tower didn’t make it any better; we were not too impressed. Faith provided an interesting perspective though. Instead of being rattled by the traffic and congestion I just kept feeling so thankful that I had friends along for the ride! I’m not sure how willing they will be to take another trip with me but I was so glad to be traveling through that mess with laughter and good friends! We were determined to find a different route home and avoid downtown Chicago but that superior plan came with a missed exit and a lovely drive nearly fifty miles in the wrong direction. As frustrating as that was to discover the delay resulted in a perfectly timed connection with a nephew in Indiana. Had we executed our plan perfectly we would have missed him completely. Funny how things work when we think we have the perfect plan!
After the events of Tuesday and Wednesdays drive I was sure the familiar trip to Ohio would be a cake walk. Again, I left with printed directions, a smart phone (which I have to admit is new and I really don’t know how to use very well yet) and our friends at OnStar. I was confident and looking forward to an easy drive when all of the sudden something brought traffic to a standstill. It was the kind of slowdown that had people getting out of their cars to visit. Sitting there meant being very late for our six p.m. event but trusting google maps meant driving through the grass median and turning around to follow directions that took us someplace completely unfamiliar. Trusting the voice on that little smartphone was a big decision. Thankfully after a bumpy ride to cut across to the other side of the interstate it was a smooth and flawless detour. I was amazed that the alternate route took us about 1/4 mile north to a tiny little two lane road that I’d never noticed before which ran parallel to the interstate. As we drove along we saw the miles long back up. If we hadn’t trusted that little GPS voice we might still be sitting there!
The week was sprinkled with mishaps, unplanned detours, opportunities for a new perspective and happy endings. I guess life is a lot like that isn’t it! No matter how perfectly we think we have things planned and mapped out; stuff happens! I practiced trust, patience and optimism this week and each time I did things just worked out. I don’t think it was a coincidence…I think that’s pretty much the way life really works when I’m not so busy being bent out of shape that my excellent planning isn’t materializing! We had to be willing to try new routes and make changes based on blind trust. It’s funny that after we finally made it through Chicago we made a much needed rest stop and lying right at my feet on the pavement as I hopped out of the car were two penny’s facing up revealing the words “In God We Trust”. I love it when he gets right to the point! If he is who we trust, it isn't blind trust at all! He always leads the way but that doesn’t mean his path is straight, clear or direct! After all, the invitation came in Matthew's Gospel, "Come follow me."
A Seed To Plant: Stop and pray about one thing you are busy planning right now. Ask God to take charge of those plans and then let go of the control a bit and see what he does with your plans.
Blessings on your day!
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