Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Is Your Busyness Robbing You?

Have I let busyness rob me of knowing God the way I might if I wasn't so busy?

I've been pondering this question for a few weeks. It's a challenging one to think about.

We live in a culture that prizes busyness. The answer to the question of how things are going is often that we're busy. And when we're not busy it can feel like we don't have the right answer to that question.

This thinking has infiltrated the church as well. There's a subtle pressure to add more volunteer time to the schedule if we can't continually tell people how busy we are. We look up to those who have filled their weekends and evenings with service.

But when we fill our schedules too full, often one of the first things that gets pushed out is our time with God. And this robs us of knowing God the way we could. Even when we're filling our time with serving at church, that busyness robs us of knowing God the way we could.

Don't get me wrong . . . I'm not saying there is anything inherently wrong with serving at church. In fact, I believe we should all be taking an active role in the church we belong to. But, when the time we spend serving our church makes us so busy we have no time for relationship with God, we have a problem.

How do we respond to this? How do we stop allowing busyness to rob us of knowing God?

We have to learn to create a life with space in it. Space, so we're not running from one thing to the next unsure if we'll be on time. Space, so we can linger with a friend in need. Space, so we can spend time with God and listen to His voice.

We have to learn to slow down - to stop living life in a hurry.

It doesn't come easy. It's a counter-cultural move.

I think we need to change what we celebrate and look up to. Instead of celebrating busyness and looking up to those who are really busy, we need to learn to celebrate being unable to talk about how busy we are.

We need to change the way we look at how we spend our time. We need to see our time with God as the most important thing. We need to move our time with God onto the non-negotiable list and allow other things to go when we don't have enough time to do it all.

Have you allowed busyness to rob you of knowing God the way you could if you weren't so busy?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Regretting the Hurry

"Someone asked me recently what was my biggest regret in life. I thought a moment, surveying the vast and cluttered landscape of my blunders and losses, the evil I have done and the evil that's been done againstme.
'Being in a hurry,' I said.
'Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all that rushing.'
Through all that haste, I thought I was marking up time. It turns out I was throwing it away."
(Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, page 45)

Go back to the beginning and read the quoted passage above again. Slow down while you read it. Take time to reflect on what Mark Buchanan is saying here.

How would you answer the question about what your biggest regret was in life? What do you see as your biggest regret?

It usually doesn't take us long to come up with things we regret. Choices we made. People we chose to keep in our lives and people we chose to remove from our lives. Jobs we chose to take or not to take. Things we chose to do with our money or possessions and things we chose not to do with them.

When I really stop to think about it, despite all the choices I've made that are regrets, I have to say that I've come to agree with Buchanan on this one. My biggest regret is being in a hurry and it's the root of most of the decisions I regret making.

When we're living life in a hurry, our decisions suffer. We're so concerned about getting to the next thing that we run from one thing to the next with no time to think.

Are you living life in a hurry?

Do you see living life in a hurry as a regret? Why or why not?

I wonder what would happen if we became intentional about not living life in a hurry. What would happen if we slowed down enough to be really present in the moment and gave ourselves the room in our schedules to think?

I think that rather than feeling like we couldn't possibly get everything done, we would find that we have the time to do what we need to do without a problem.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Change

It's Friday, which means it's time for Five Minute Friday. This week the word is "change."

Do you embrace change? Or do you fight against it?

Or maybe you find yourself somewhere in the middle of those extremes? You don't excitedly seek after change, but you don't run form it either.

Whatever the case, the one thing we can be sure of in life is that we will have to deal with change. Change in our lives because of things we do. Change in circumstance because of choices we made. Change in our lives because of things others do. Changes in circumstance because of choices others made. Sometimes we choose the change and sometimes we don't.

The one thing we can be sure of is that change in evitable. And as followers of Christ, change is something that happens constantly in our lives - or, it should be.

When we choose to follow Christ, we being a process of transformation - of change. And that process of change in a lifelong process. We're constantly being changed to become more and more like Christ.

When we stop to look back over the years, we can see evidence of this change. And evidence of how we responded to it. We can see the times we embraced the change and we can see the times where we fought against it. But the important thing is that we give glory to God for the ways He has changed us.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We're All Called to Something

What is a calling? Do you have one? Do we all have one? Or is it only for specific people?

Sometimes I wonder if we overuse the word calling in Christian circles, and it loses some of its importance in the process. Other times I wonder if we elevate it to too high a status and lose some of the importance of what God asks us to do as we serve Him in our everyday life.

I just finished reading a book that made me think more about this. Kelly Minter ends her book Wherever the River Runs with the following words:

“I think our tendency is to believe that God is inviting someone else into the ministry of reconciliation, tapping someone a little more gifted or holy than us for the work. . . . But the reality is that God has called every one of His children to the poor, the outcast, those on the fringes of society, the spiritually hungry. Hardly ever do we feel ready, comfortable with the task, confident in our goodness, or have any idea where the river might run, but – such a sobering reminder – He has called us still.” (emphasis mine).

The last sentence really resonated with me. I think we often struggle with the idea of calling because we don’t feel ready or comfortable or confident. But, God still calls us to serve and to love the world. How we each do that looks different, but it all comes from the same call.

We call it the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39). Elsewhere in His teaching, Jesus calls us to love our enemies as well (Luke 6:27-36 & 10:25-37).

When God sends us to “the poor, the outcast, those on the fringes of society, the spiritually hungry,” He is sending us to live out what we call the Great Commandment. It’s the way we are called to live as followers of Christ. We may not feel qualified or ready to do it in the specific way God gives us to do it, but He asks us to anyway and depend on Him to do it.

When I look at it this way, I start to see the calling God has on my life, on your life, on the life of everyone who claims to follow Him. We are called to love our neighbours and our enemies. It’s not a calling specific to a few “elite” in Christian circles. It’s a calling for all Christians – whatever we spend our time doing.

We do all have a calling. And it is important. That calling is to love – sacrificially, with an attitude of service to those we meet and interact with. It’s a high calling, and it’s worth it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

What We're Really Looking For

“We may desire deep friendships, ironclad marriages, thriving children, a secure economy, healthy bodies, a trip to Europe – but what we really want is an encounter with the living God. To be loved known, and seen by Him. We pursue all the other stuff because it’s the stuff that tastes, but Jesus is the One who nourishes.” (Kelly Minter, Wherever the River Runs)
Since I first read those words, they’ve been running through my head. Specifically, the short sentence in the middle: “To be loved, known, and seen by Him.” Those words ring true in my life, and in the lives of many people I talk to.
We purse all sorts of things in life, as we seek to fill our deepest longings and desires. And ultimately we find that nothing satisfies them for long, if at all.
Friends, family, vacations, money, possessions . . . they make us feel happy in the short term. And most of the time, they can be good things in our lives. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of them. How we use them may be a problem, but that doesn’t make the thing itself a bad thing.
The problem is when those things no longer satisfy, when they no longer make us happy, we’re left looking for more. And that is when we can turn to the wrong things, or things that were good to begin with can become a problem.
When you get to the core of what we’re looking for – what  we desire – it comes down to wanting to be known, loved, and seen. We want to be known for who we really are – the part of us that we often keep locked deep inside for fear of how other people will see us. We can to be really loved – unconditionally, sacrificially, deeply. We don’t want to go through life feeling invisible – we want our presence to be noticed, to be missed.
We seek to find all of these things in so many places that don’t satisfy, when what we really need to do is seek to meet with God. The one place we can be really known, loved, and seen is when we enter into relationship with Jesus. He is the only One who can satisfy those needs.
The psalmist put it this way, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8). The psalmist knew and had experienced that God was what would satisfy and he calls us to try.
What are you seeking to satisfy your desires?
Is what you’re seeking truly satisfying your desires?
Have you allowed Jesus to meet you and be the One who knows you, loves you, and sees you?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Fill

A day late this week, but jumping onboard with Five Minute Friday. This week's word is fill.

Running on empty. Sometimes this is  how it feels like life is being lived. We've gotten to the point where we're just going through the motions - doing what we know we should be doing, but with no heart in them.

It's easy to end up here in our spiritual lives. That place where we got to church, read our Bibles, pray because we should. But they've just become things we do.

The good news is that we don't have to stay in that place. We can ask God and He will fill us. He will fill us with His love again and with a desire for that deeper relationship with Him.

And when God does that, we're no longer left feeling like we're running on empty. We're filled with what brings us real life.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

In His Strength, Not Ours

Have you ever read something in Scripture that seemed like it would be impossible to actually live?

Have you ever walked away from reading something Jesus said and felt like there was no way you could ever actually live that way?

Much of how Jesus calls us to live as His followers is something that sounds impossible when we read it. It's a life we can't live by just trying harder.

We can't love people the way we're called to love them in our own strength.

We can't turn from sin and live a righteous life in our own strength.

We can't live in the freedom Jesus purchased for us on the cross in our own strength.

Thankfully, we don't have to do these things in our own strength. As followers of Christ, as have the Holy Spirit living in us. And He is our strength to live the way Jesus talks about His followers living. When we are surrendered to and dependent on the Holy Spirit living in us, we can begin to live the life that Christ calls His followers to.

The hard part is surrender. And that's part we have to do. We have to choose to surrender our own will, our own plans to God. We have to choose to let go of control.

Living those things that we read in Scripture that seem impossible becomes possible when we surrender to Christ.

Often this surrender and dependence on the Holy Spirit is a daily thing. It's not a one time decision to be dependent on the Holy Spirit for strength to live each day. We have to choose.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Writing Something Worth Fighting For

I've been wondering a lot lately about why I feel the need to keep on writing. I've written before that I write because I can't not write. There's something in me that makes me want to write. But, I've often wondered why I feel that way.

The truth is that, even though I know the reasons why I write, it isn't always easy to write. Sometimes it's a battle to get the words on the screen in a way that makes sense to anyone who would read it.

I stumbled across a quote a few weeks ago that helped me understand why I write anyways.

"Some days writing feels like fighting but those are always the days the pages are finally full of something worth fighting for." (Jon Acuff)

When I read those words I realized something . . . writing, for me, is about making sense of what I stand for and what I will fight for with my life. And the times when it is hardest to write are the times when what I've written matters most.

For me, what matters most is living a life that is about following God completely. About seeking to live all of life the way He would have those who claim to be His followers live. It's a high calling for how to live, but one I believe is worth it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Begin

God provides us chance to begin again each day, each moment.

We stumble. We sin. We mess up.

When we confess it to God and ask for His forgiveness. He freely gives us His forgiveness and a chance to begin again. We start over with a no record of what we have done.

That chance to begin again is something we need constantly. A chance to begin again is something we need each day, each moment.

I'm thankful that God offers us that chance. As many times as I may need it.

All I have to do is return to Him and ask Him for that chance again. I don't have to try to do the right thing so He will give me that chance. I just have to ask and it is given. God's grace poured out on my life.

The chance to begin again is available to all who are willing to confess their sin and ask God for forgiveness - for a chance to begin again.

Joining in with Five Minute Friday again today. This week's word is "begin."