Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time Out

I'm not sure if this says more about my habits of discipline or my son's knowledge of the animal kingdom, but...
Yesterday, Jennifer and I took our kids to the zoo. We saw a tiger, a few zebras, some monkeys, and several sea lions. One in particular caught our attention as it was sunbathing while it faced a wall. Our 5-year old son asked if the sea lion was in a time-out. (That same 5-year old shared the fate of the sea lion later in the day.)

I am pretty sure that the sea lion in question was only by chance facing a wall. But he was taking a time out from his other busy activities of the day. Those activities would include eating fish, waving to a crowd, and performing his best rendition of a shark for the people that looked on. Yet, at this point, he took a time out.

I wonder if he thought about anything. After all, that is what a time out is for. We send our kids there from time to time, hoping they will think about what they have done and why they won't do it again. I can hardly blame them as I should spend more time thinking about my words and actions, both before and after I say and do.

My children would never impose their own time out just to reflect on their actions. They are too busy playing and having fun to even consider this. I wonder if we are like this. Why take a time out when everything is going okay?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Master's Approval

I have never been all that humble. Even when I've tried to be humble, I've gotten proud of how humble I was. Tell me you didn't see that coming. But it's true. I believe I am as much a victim as anyone since Generation X where we all believe we're above average. But ask anyone that understand math and they'll tell you that 50% of people are below average. There's no way around that. But if you asked me, I'd tell you I wasn't in that 50%.

So maybe having a healthy self-esteem isn't such a bad thing. But I see it crowd in on my relationship with God. Since I want to please God and do good things for God, I try my best. So far, so good, right? But let's assume I actually do something with excellence. After everything goes as planned, I spend too much time patting myself on the back. And believe me, any time patting yourself is too much time.

But it's just for God, right? Yes, but then you have scriptures like this hit you square in the eyes...

Hebrews 3:1-6
"So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He's the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do. Moses was also faithful, but Jesus gets far more honor. A builder is more valuable than a building any day. Every house has a builder, but the Builder behind them all is God. Moses did a good job in God's house, but it was all servant work, getting things ready for what was to come. Christ as Son is in charge of the house."

I'm so enthralled with hearing I did a good job that I forget it's just servant work. So, do you want to encourage me? Try not telling me it was a job well done. Then maybe I'll listen more closely for the Master's approval.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Speaking of Words

The writer of Hebrews starts out with some straight up facts.

"Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God's nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!" (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Have you ever had a handful of items and tried to unlock and open your door without dropping any of the items. It could have been groceries, marbles, or kids. Whatever it is, I usually drop something.

Or perhaps you've been holding a lot of stress within. You just keep saying to yourself, 'Self, keep it together.' And then at just the wrong moment, you lose it.

God is able to do what we can not. That shouldn't be a surprise, but still we try to hold everything together. God can actually hold everything together. And He does it with words...powerful words, according to Hebrews. I can't even get my kids to stop beating on each other by simply asking them. I have, on more than one occasion, had to physically rip them apart.

But God holds everything together with His words. That makes sense, since He spoke creation into existence with words. So perhaps, instead of trying to do what I know I cannot, I should rest easy in God's promises, knowing He has the final word.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Word Up

Today is Yogi Berra's birthday. He is 84 years old. Besides being a Hall of Fame baseball player, he has some great sayings, some of which you probably don't even know are his.

"It ain't over 'til it's over"
"It's like déjà vu all over again."
"When you get to a fork in the road, take it"
"Always go to other people's funerals otherwise they won't go to yours"

And one that has a lot of truth to it; "You can observe a lot by watching"

While it sounds silly, since observe and watch are synonyms, I find it appealing. How many times have you jumped into a situation before recognizing what was going on? I often put my foot in my mouth simply because I did not get all the facts before I reacted. And, as we have each experienced, once you have said something, you cannot take it back.

This is why Paul warned Timothy in his second letter, "Words are not mere words, you know. If they're not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul." I saw blank stares when I tried explaining sound waves to my 7 and 5 year old the other day. If only sound waves were always pleasant. Sadly, few people realize how powerful their words are.

Each day we can build up or tear down. All with our words. We may not see immediate impact, but that should not fool us into thinking they have no impact. 'Words are not mere words.'

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dark Circles

So I have this dark circle on my left hand that is about 2 inches in diameter. I fell the other day and broke a vessel. It doesn't bother me, so I only wince when a cute girl passes by and I happen to be doing something manly, like typing for my blog. Anyways, I looked at this dark circle today and it reminded me of Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean. Without going into movie review mode, I recall that it was a sign that he was marked. As I recall, it was bad things.

Now I don't think this is a sign from God. It's more a consequence of bad defense at basketball. But I do have this feeling deep inside me that something big is coming. I simply cannot shake the feeling that God's purpose and plan for me are revealing something great in the not too distant future.

I cannot shake it. I don't want to. I can't wait for it to get here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Strangers Among Us

Perhaps you can help my wife and I settle a dispute. We've been watching American Idol this season. (Don't judge us.) There is one singer in particular, Adam Lambert, who has a unique style which has my wife rolling her eyes while I tap my toes. He has this thing he does which is half screaming, half singing, but not really in that Ozzy Osbourne kind of way. Okay, well maybe it is, but I think it is a difference maker for him.

Here's the thing. Yesterday I emulated it and was surprised how much it sounds like him. Mind you, just the screaming part. I did it a couple of times and got my little 2-year old performing her best rendition as well. But she's always looking for a reason to scream.

It got me thinking about strange things we do for attention. We often behave in strange ways. Sometimes I look at my kid's strange behavior and wonder where they got that. Then my wife reminds me where they got it.

On the other hand, there are some things that seem strange to us that should not. In 1 Peter 4:4, Peter is talking about what 'pagans' choose to do and how they are surprised when Christians do not act the same. I wonder if we could be accused of the same thing by our non-Christian peers.

I think there are several things, like forgiveness, obedience, and even where we look for security, that should seem strange to others. And when we don't, we will find that God finds it strange, and it is to Him that we will have to answer. 1 Peter 4:5.

Isn't it strange when we look to our peers for answers before we look to God?