Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Love & Decisions

Decision making is a relative breeze when I’m enjoying the love of God. When it isn’t, the solution is not to concentrate on making good decisions but to be restored to the love of God. He secures me, and the proper decisions follow in their proper perspective and order. (Philippians 1:9-11)

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Listening Gets Easier

The more I listen to God the easier it is to listen to you. I believe the reverse is true as well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Helping The Freed To Freedom

If I’m going to help people be as free from fear and reprisal as Christ Jesus made them to be, then I’m going to have to let them love me in the way they can, not in the way I want them to.

Family Reunion

My three brothers and all of our families are together enjoying a family reunion in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

From left to right, eldest brother John, youngest brother Evan, me, and my twin brother Brent. I will post more pics in the days to come.

Yeah, we're having a blast!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday's Starting Point

It's the starting line of the work week, so here's something to thing about before going too far.

If you’re going to live by faith and if you’re going to help people today, you’re going to have to see past their behavior to who they are—either in Christ or not yet. Without the complete picture, you’ll be wrestling flesh, and in the long run that’s not helpful.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Beware The Fatheads' Parade

“Off with his head!” shouted the Red Queen of Wonderland, “Off with his head!”

The loveless and fat-headed queen, brilliantly played by Helena Bonham Carter in the recent iteration of the film, wanted to know everything about everyone, and, in her own twisted wisdom, dealt precisely and brutally with all who failed her scrutiny. Wanting to placate her, the subjects of the realm attached to themselves false and oversized features such as elongated ears and noses, and bulbous posteriors, completing the look of a kingdom in agreement and submission. The assembled court presented a fascinating and twisted parade.

Watching the movie, I wondered if I don’t unwittingly join a loveless and fatheaded parade as well. I’ll explain.

I have a long history of craving knowledge and insight, believing those qualities would be at the top of the gotta-have-it list for life. As I remember, grad school at USC was a seemingly endless immersion at the library, pouring through books and files and microfiche, interrupted only for fresh air and coffee. By necessity I learned how to research and found that knowledge was not only interesting, it provided protection against error as well. There’s a lot of value in that. Looking back, the fear of error became a big contributor to my desire for knowledge.

From those days to these, I’ve become a sort of glutton for knowledge that feeds insight so I can choose the best path, the right car, the proper foods, the most accurate and informative news sources, the correct candidate and the perfect position on anything and everything I should need to comment about. Oh, and it’s time I got a new cell phone, so I’m currently immersed in researching HSDPA+, LTE, UMTS, 4G, GMS versus CDMA, screen resolution, processing power, Android versus iOS versus Symbian^3, and which carrier has the best coverage, contract, and minutes for my bucks. This is SERIOUS! I don’t want to make a mistake and blow the decision, so I’ve got to get all the pertinent info I can, right?

But here’s what I’ve found: there is a knowledge and insight that renders the possessor as loveless as the fatheaded queen. It cripples its possessors by anointing them “Expert”, which, while making them feel good, comes with a heavy requirement: perfect judgments. We are not set up for that. Having become the crucified to this world, born from above new creation sons and daughters of God, we share now in the nature of our Father (2 Peter 1:3)—and that’s a nature of love. God is love (1 John 4:16); He doesn’t just have love or feel loving. God’s love never ebbs, it never is somewhere else, it never is too busy, and it never fails. He is love.

Love is in our DNA.

The Christian is set up for love—think about that—and the kind of knowledge and insight we’re to strive for is supposed to be the fuel of love.

The apostle Paul writes: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

What does God want for the Philippians and for us? Abounding love! You wouldn’t mind that would you? And what will happen then? We’ll be enabled to live—and live well.

What knowledge you’re going for today and what insight you’re getting will and is determining the abundance of love in your life.

Think of it this way: God knows absolutely everything there is to know about you. Does that sound scary? But what’s your favorite thing about God that He is always approaching you with? Isn’t it love? It is! Look, God has the goods on you—He knows all your dirt. He knows your heart, reads your mind (and your email), sees your activity—and loves you perfectly! And He doesn’t turn away from you so He can’t see your bad behavior or witness your ugly attitude. Ooh! I can’t look—Ralph looks awful today! God is always looking at the facts—He has all knowledge and all insight. And He loves endlessly. The facts He’s looking at affect Him greatly—I would say that what He knows and sees kindles His love! When He looks at you, love bursts forth from Him because He knows the facts!

Do you get it?

He sees you in Christ, His regal son, His magnificent daughter, His chosen vessel of and for His glory. That’s what He knows, that’s His insight, and love pours forth from Him for you. It abounds.

God knows all about Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He knows capitalism and socialism through and through, He knows there are differences between Nikon and Canon cameras, USC and FSU, corporate heads and government officials, and that there are benefits and risks to eating at McDonald’s. But so far, I’ve not heard a heavenly “Off with their heads!” (You may recall that He already sent Someone Else down that road.) Why not? Because His love, grand and happy, is never threatened. Something else fuels it—real knowledge and real insight.

Is that what you’re seeing when you look around?

If love is missing these days, then I suspect it’s because you’ve been looking at the wrong facts. If your recent history includes hot anger at Obama/Bush/Palin/Pelosy, and you’re convinced that you’re RIGHT about that lousy SOB, O/B/P/P; if your blood pressure boils when thinking that some people actually believe global warming is real (or fake), cap and trade is a good (or bad) idea, gays should (shouldn’t) be able to marry, the SEC is the best (worst), Apple is better (or not) than Microsoft, the Yankees are baseball’s best (worst), Brazil will win (lose) the world cup, and Obama bows too much (too little), then I think you’ve likely fallen into the parade of the fat heads. You’ve been too much about this world’s knowledge, and not only is love missing, but so is discernment, purity and confidence in Christ.

You may not be shouting “Off with their heads!” but you’re not far off.

Get out of the parade. How? In faith that Love is waiting and available, turn off the television for a few days. It might not be easy. By faith don’t read the newspaper or go to that newsy web site tomorrow—and for a few days. Instead, talk to God. Ask Him what He knows about things visible and invisible. Ask Him what His heart is for you. Ask Him what it’s like for those your flesh has lately been railing against. Crack open the book of Colossians, throw on some Steven Curtis Chapman or Tenth Avenue North. Take a walk. Get a great book—check my web site for recommendations (http://lifecourse.org/Recommends.html).

It won’t be long before you’ll begin preferring the knowledge and insight which fuels love, and your appetite for that which makes you a worldly expert will diminish.

And you’ll be out of the parade of the fat heads.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Successful Career Change

(It's a beautiful Saturday morning here in the Rocky Mountains, which means it's time for a wee bit of fun. Have a great weekend.)

A gynecologist had become fed up with malpractice insurance and HMO paperwork, and was burned out. Hoping to try another career where his skillful hands would be beneficial, he decided to become a mechanic. He went to the local technical college, signed up for evening classes, attended diligently, and learned all he could.

When the time of the practical exam approached, the gynecologist prepared carefully for weeks and completed the exam with tremendous skill. When the results came back, he was surprised to find that he had earned a score of 150%. Fearing an error, he called the instructor and said, "I don't want to appear ungrateful for such an outstanding result, but I wonder if there is an error in the grade?"

The instructor said, "During the exam, you took the engine apart perfectly, which was worth 50% of the total grade. You put the engine back together again perfectly, which is also worth 50% of the grade."

After a pause, the instructor added, "I gave you an extra 50% because you did it all through the muffler, which I've never seen done in my entire career."