Saturday, November 28, 2009

My family and I like to watch the TV show "Monk"; a story about a OCD detective who has extraordinary perception skills. It is the shows last season and last night was part 1 of the finale. Monk has been poisoned and is going to die in 2-3 days unless and anecdote can be found. One of the characters is commenting on Monk's life - "I used to think that Monk was less than human; he was missing something. I now understand that he saw a whole lot more than we did; he was fully human." (I can't remember the exact words, but it went something like that.)

I have been thinking about how there are quite a few things that are right below my emotional surface right now. I find myself emotional about my mom, marriages that are in shambles, the future relationship of my kids with God, the friends that I am praying find God, young girls who are cutting themselves to get attention; things like that. I find myself crying out to God for these situations. I see and feel the pain that sin has caused in these relationships. This is not the way God designed it to be - full of pain and brokenness.

I believe that the reason last night's episode of Monk set my mind going was his extra ordinary perception and the realization of one of his co-workers that this caused him pain. I looked at the amount of pain that I feel as I look at the sin racked situations around me and realized that it was puny compared to what God must feel every moment of every day; in its completeness and fullness. I can run and hide from it; I don't think of it all the time. He cannot hide from it; He experiences it in it fullness all the time.

I probably have written about this before. However, understanding this once again causes me to worship Him, causes me to understand how gracious He is toward me and helps me understand what Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane when He was facing the weight of the sin of the world on Him. He did that for me; He did something that I could never do; look into the face of evil and defeat it.

Keep your eyes open today and see the effects of sin around you. I don't ask this so that you can be depressed; I ask this so that you can place your hope FULLY in the one who conquered sin and will worship Him more fully.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

OK, my kids don't like me sometimes. There are times when they ask me for something they want. I tell them it is OK to get it, but they have to use their money to purchase it. As you can imagine, the tone changes and suddenly it is not as important as it was when they asked me to pay for it. When I ask them to pay the cost, they are forced to evaluate whether it is "worth it" or not.

I call this the value scales - is the cost worth what I am going to receive. Picture a scales - one side of the scales is labeled "COST"; the other side of the scale is labeled "PERCEIVED VALUE". We all have the value scales embedded in us - we are constantly evaluating whether what we are doing or buying is "worth it".

If something has no cost, then ANY value will tip the value scales toward the "PERCEIVED VALUE" side of the scale. I will always take something that has no cost but even a minimal perceived value. (Have you ever wondered why people always take free stuff that they just end up throwing away? There is no cost, so even if there is a very, very small value, the value scales tell me that it is worth it so I take it.) If something has a high cost, then we weigh the perceived value of it. If we don't think it will be "worth it", the value scales are tipped toward the "COST" side of the scale. We don't pursue it because we do not believe that the cost "outweighs" the value we will receive from it.

The value scales have large ramifications for our spiritual life. David expressed a part of it this way - I will not offer anything that costs me nothing (2 Sam 24:24). He understood that offering something that cost nothing indicated to God that it had little value to him. Paul said it this way in his letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 4;17) - our light and momentary troubles is working for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all. He looked at the value scales and said the cost that I am paying now with all the trials I am going through is "worth it" because I will receive some eternal reward that outweighs them. (Note that the only way one can make this statement is by looking at eternity through the eyes of faith.)

A teacher I listened to on the radio said it something like this - if we properly value the heavenly prize, we will sacrifice and endure now so that we will achieve later. We have to look at our behavior today in light of an eternal value scale. What costs we pay today, will provide worth in the future. If we don't believe that our current actions will have eternal consequences (good or bad), we will live like the man in Luke 12:19 who lived his life under the "eat, drink and be merry" philosophy. Consider this today - keep an eternal perspective in your value scales!

PS I have found that it is necessary to teach this scales to my children. If I continually indulge them without having them count the cost, I do them a disservice and train them to be self centered consumers instead of disciplined spenders.

Monday, November 09, 2009

I visited my mom in the hospital last night (yes she is in the hospital again [H1N1]; she is on the back side of it, but still has some breathing issues). The last time I visited she told me that she felt useless. That statement pierced my soul. Of course she can't move much of her body, she is very weak, she has to rely on people to do most everything for her - by all PHYSICAL accounts she is useless.

My encouragement to her was that in God's economy, she was not useless. While she may feel useless, God was not finished with her yet. The fact that she was alive was enough to prove that God still had a purpose for her - He still had a mission for her to accomplish.

While not really being sure what this mission is, I am convinced that as long as we are on this planet and able to function, the Great Commission in Matthew 28 applies to us. I encouraged my mom by saying that in this phase of her life she may experience her greatest ministry yet - having faith in the midst of very trying life circumstances; of holding onto the truth that God is at work through her even though life circumstances will not allow much physical movement.

This is what walking by faith looks like. Believing that God is at work even when we can see it or feel it. Believing that God is at work IN and THROUGH us, even when we can't "produce". Staying committed to Him and doing, thinking and living like Christ will put us in a position of being used by Him - whether we realize it, whether we feel it, whether we see it or not.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I have been reading Nehemiah again for a leadership class that I am teaching. We were in chapter 1-2. A couple of leadership principles that struck me:

1. Leadership is initiated by a call - Godly leaders receive that call from God. Leaders see chaos and are called to bring order to it. The call is the initiator and sustainer of their leadership. (Nehemiah spent many days praying, weeping and fasting and then he moved.)

2. Leaders have a plan or develop a plan of attack.

3. People often know what needs to be done in a situation; they just don't/can't do it. Leaders also know what needs to be done; they do something about it or help others do something about it. (The walls laid in rubble for 70 years after the temple was built; it took Nehemiah to catalyze the people to build the wall. After 70 years of rubble, it took 52 days to complete the rebuild).

More to follow......