Archive for priorities
Jesus said “it is hard for the ‘rich’ to come into heaven” (Matthew 19:23) …what does that mean? does our financial success disappoint God? is there a secret monetary value we should stay under to be considered for eternal life? does God really care if you have a lot or a little or just “how much” is in your heart? most of us think whether you have a lot or a little, all he really cares about is where you are in your relationship with Him. what you have done with your gifts to give and care for your brothers and how you have faced the temptations and the redemption presented to you everyday. so why are the “rich” called out as if they will be given a separate application for acceptance… as if their entrance exam will be held to a different scoring standard?
it seems to have less to do with dollars and more to do with contentment, when we don’t want for anything and our needs are met. even when we have “non-monetary riches” like a great family, a good job, true friendships, true love, good health…you know a good life…do we find ourselves as deep in prayer as those who are suffering? stricken by tragedy, loss, emotional or economic pain, the poor among us are on our knees, in our churches. in fear, we are cracking the Bible looking for answers, growing in faith and in desperate cry for His presence in our life. the deepest relationships with God are most often built or at least strengthen at our “poorest” moments. when we are “rich” and comfortable in our lives we tend to lose the intensity to seek, to grow, and to submit everything to our faith. it can be difficult for the very “satisfied” to remember from where it came, we tend to believe we can take credit for our comfort and forget “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). so, could it be that the poorer times in our lives become our greatest opportunity to know Him and forever change our eternal life regardless of financial security? could it be that our most trying times are the catalyst for who God wants us to become and thus really are the answers to our prayers for His riches?
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” Matthew 19:24
well, we made the news again. Christian values always seem to make the headlines as if it were a news flash that we do not want our religious freedoms taken away. doesn’t anyone remember why we started this “united states” thing? in fact the primary motivator for the founders leaving their former land was their government telling the citizens what their values were going to be. the founding of our country was based on the virtues and beliefs of individuals being a God-given right and a lot of very brave individuals fought and died for a land where that is still possible. but there is just one small catch…”we the people” have to keep our virtues in order to keep our freedom. benjamin franklin said “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom”. george washington, referring to the constitution, said that it could survive only “so long as there shall remain any virtue in the body of the people.” and thomas jefferson said “virtue is not hereditary”, “virtue has to be earned and it has to be learned”, “it has to be cultivated continually and exercised from hour-to-hour and from day-to-day.” hmmmm, maybe these dudes were on to something…maybe our passion to stand for our virtues and beliefs have become compromised and now…so goes our freedoms?
each one of us falls short of our commitment to God and living our Christian priorities from time to time. we go against His greatest ask of us, to place Him first in our days. we lose our way when we hustle from here to there and take our eyes away from the apex of our true “A” game. we find our way again when we come to our knees in prayer, as we fear our worst fears or become overwhelmed by the blessings of our lives. but it is in the “hour to hour” and “day-to-day” discipline to our faith that we are delivered His promises …gifts beyond our imagination such as real forgiveness, true peace, freedom, guidance, and virtue. each Christian should be reminded that it is incumbent on each of us as individuals to turn to Him hourly, seek Him daily and deliver to Him continuously our best each day or risk the loss of the freedom and salvation we will surely suffer in our personal little corner of the world, in our great nation and there after…
“Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘return to me’. declares the LORD Almighty, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty” Zechariah 1:3
when was the last time you sat in silence for let’s say 10 minutes or more? like most of us the only time that really happens is in traffic, in the shower, or the unfortunate happenstance of getting stuck in an elevator! you can count on the traffic at some point and showers are generally inevitable as well, or at least those closest to us hope so. however, getting stuck in an elevator has not happened to very many of us. but when we deliberately sit with our thoughts for an extended period of time, and in this day and age we’ll define that as anything more than 10 minutes, an amazing thing happens. thoughts begin to run amuck, ideas are launched, businesses are started, inventions created and prayer too is inspired by the silence. most Christians are in the practice of prayer sometime during the day…quick one in the a.m., maybe longer one in the p.m., medium-sized at a meal. but a committment to more time in prayer and silent peace with our faith we will never fully realize until we attempt it. there are those who have said…”i was led by God to do this”. those who have said…”He spoke to me and I just knew”. truth is, He is always there. He is always trying to get to us. the difference between the believers who hear the voice, receive the guidance, feel the inspiration, and are at peace in their faith and those who are still struggling to connect is that the one that “hears”…..stops to listen.
no, not football, that started months ago. not basketball…those people are still arguing. today marks the kick off, the starting bell, the tee off of Advent. you might have felt something going on the past couple days…the thick news paper the day after Thanksgiving, the mega traffic jams around town, the news stories of mayhem at the malls. you may be thinking we have to prepare…do I have my list of things i will ask for ready to go? do i know what things i will buy? when should we put up the decorations and should i go ahead and buy a few extra strings of light before we even begin the process? everyone knows the lights never work two years in a row. if this is the feeling in your air, you aren’t alone. it’s everywhere. the bustle of the hustle is a real distraction for the peace on earth the season can bring, but only if we let it. throughout the days ahead cross-skills will try to keep the focus on the real meaning and order of the season’s “roster”. and we hope you will join us. each one of us take in the fanfare in different traditional ways. the music, the decorations, the food, the parties, the giving and receiving – it is the celebration and it should be grand. after all, we are propping up the coming of the MESSIAH, but let us not forget to give it meaning. as is always the charge: let’s all do something different in our lives this season to glorify and live the miracle we proclaim.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.” Luke 37-38
of course the question is coming, or maybe you have already been asked. you may have even asked yourself…”what am I thankful for this year?” as much as this is a time of year to stop and give thanks, these days many people have had to re-evaluate lately what “blessed” really means. this is a time in american history where a lot of what we “have” is in the balance. mortgages/homes lost or in jeopardy, jobs/businesses lost or threatened, finances then under attack from lower levels to no income at all and the cost of living is becoming an obstacle course! although we are living in tumultuous times, any situation where we receive the gift of perspective can actually be our most thankful and blessed days. when we begin to realize the value of our shelter and not the size or location of it. when we are simply walking down the street and re-discover the strength of our legs allowing us to do this very simple task while the health of our family or friend may be compromised. when we are standing in our own back yard and notice how pretty the sky is and we have not had to travel for the splendor. when we find the most beautiful sight to be in the face of the people we love. an ice-cold glass of water in the summer or a warm bed as the nights get cold begin to have new meaning to those who are truly thankful. we really don’t have to look very far to find a life of struggle and despair. and when you do, you will more often than not find someone who will tell you how low the bar for happiness has become. for simple pleasures of a peaceful night’s rest or a bit of encouraging news become the brass ring. this in mind, let’s do something different this thanksgiving we may not have done before. remember that giving thanks is an action phrase. let’s plan to give thanks with our actions. here are a couple of ideas: start a list of things we are thankful for, keep it until the end of the year and see how long that list becomes, anything goes. make it a competition among family members. or how about giving what talent or treasure we have to someone who has less. our small sacrifice can be our brothers savior, give thanks by giving a little bit more. or try reconnecting with our more meaningful relationships, friendships we don’t make time for. and then there is worship – after all isn’t that what it really is anyway? worship really is going to the Man, on our hands and knees, and thanking Him in person for our daily bread, for his mercy on our trespasses, and for our most treasured blessings, __________ (fill in the blank). but does our worship really match the magnitude of our thankfulness to the provider of all things? let’s think about changing something we are doing within our faith to show our gratitude this season. let’s find a way to give back the thanks to the One who gave it.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17
how many times have we said….”if i just had ____, then everything would be great.” a new car, a new figure, a better boss, a million dollars, a chance. problem with that is, when we get “it”, there is always another blank, always something else we hope for. the real issue is what are we really looking for? is this part of our constant search for purpose, for meaning, for happiness? maybe. many of us struggle with the quest to win. many for the chance to fill our lives with a missing piece, even if it’s temporary. sometimes there are excuses for our short comings. achieving our quest for happy things, status or acceptance is satisfying but it’s temporary. think back to the last time you “made the grade”, “won the prize”, finally got that thing you wanted…are you still sitting there holding your trophy or have you set your sights on the next quest? think about how things might change for all of us if our desires to “fill that blank” were less earthly and more heavenly. like “if i just had…patience, peace, forgiveness.” then what we are really looking for…happiness, may be achieved. turn to prayer for your patience, find God’s love for your peace, and follow Christ’s example for your forgiveness and the real glory will be ours.
“but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20
we always want. so much to want. let’s face it, mankind has produces some pretty cool stuff and the imagination and ingenuity really belongs to God. He has gifted us all with the ability to invent anything from the sticky note to the porsche 911 convertible…oh yeah, let’s say it’s black. but what fun would any of these extra “perks” of humanity be if we are starving, lonely, or sick. how cool would it be to have a 50 ft yacht if you were never allowed to get off the boat to see your true love, your family or your children? most of us would truly not want any of this “stuff ” if we could secure our well-being, our loved ones and our own personal peace. so while you are walking around life today, look up to the sky and say thanks to The Man for the sunlight that feeds our soul, the rain that nourishes, the wind on our face, the ham in your sandwich, the smile you gave a perfect stranger. thanks Man.
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Plasm 118:24
why? because God gave us eyes for a reason. it is one of the greatest avenues in which we gather information. we see, we assess. it’s o.k., that is the way it works. if you have seen a sunrise or sunset lately you have to know the way things look matter to Him. when you see a waterfall in the mountains, a brand new snowfall, a full moon over a sandy beach or a valley of flowers, you see God’s creativity and interest in capturing our attention. He hopes that we may pause and notice Him. so that we may open our eyes to His world and then our hearts to His word. many of us are interested in looking our best on the outside as an outward sign of our own creativity, self-respect, or to capture the attention of others. but once inside our souls, do others see more than “the look” we are presenting and see the light of our maker? do they see our faith… in the words we choose, in our kindness toward others, and in our actions? our outward appearance might get the attention of the people around us, but once inside our souls are we beautiful to God. that is what matters.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify you Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
as we dodge the darts of life today, as the tests of our medal are administered, and the mosquitos of annoyance are buzzing in our ear, take the moments to stop and enjoy the source. is it the back to school stress? thank God for your education. is it the worry there will not be enough (fill in the blank)? thank God for what you have. is it the person who ignores you? thank God for the one you’ll go tell and will make you feel stonger. dig in…find the good…in fact THE GOD in every moment. He is there, seek.