Do you remember Saturday mornings as a kid? I loved waking up early before anyone else, pouring a giant bowl of sugar cereal and parking myself in front of the TV for a solid two hours of cartoons. Not to worry though, after those two hours were done, we would spend the rest of our day outside burning off all that sugar and finding ways to amuse ourselves.

Times have changed. Now we wake up and reach for the glowing rectangle that is never more than an arms length away. Saturday mornings are for scrolling. After ten minutes on social media this morning, I am happy to report that I know no less than five families who are currently vacationing in Hawaii. I wonder what money tree these folks planted to be able to take ten people to Hawaii, but I digress. Mostly, I wish I was in Hawaii too. Enter the inspirational pictures to make me feel better. Feast your eyes on these beauties:

Meh. I don’t feel better. Everything about me is actually not wonderful. If I was living for myself I for sure would be in Hawaii right now. Also, if I were ‘enough’ my house would look a lot bette than it does at this moment. Fix it, Jesus.

These ‘influencers’ are making my head spin. That’s what we all are now, didn’t you know? Our whole purpose in life is to ‘influence’ people we don’t even know. Not for the betterment of them mind you, but for our self-gratification. When Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” He wasn’t just making a suggestion. In order to live, we must die to everything that is not of Him. What does that mean though? Do we not get to have any fun in the meantime? Do we have any say in this?

Jesus is not interested in obliterating the personalities of those who follow him. He does not aim to fill the kingdom of heaven with clones. He aims, rather, to renew our new self “after the image of its creator” — a creator who is not a bare unity, but a glorious unity of Father, Son, and Spirit. When we lose ourselves, we do not simply get a new self, increasingly radiant with the glory of our Maker. We begin thinking about ourselves less and less. We begin to discover that we become most us when we forget about ourselves and become consumed with him. We will discover that we are happiest when we care least about how unique we are, or what sort of personality we have. We would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God, gazing upon His face, than hold a mirror to our own in the tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:10).

Scott Hubbard

I think this hits at the heart of our struggle: our obsession to be seen and known by all the wrong things. How can we gloss over the fact that the Creator of all sees and knows us far better than anyone ever will? That’s a big deal. Even family members who love each other dearly can’t always fulfill this promise. Do you know what this means? It means that we don’t have to rely on human systems to fulfill what God promises to fulfill. When others let us down, it doesn’t crush us. When we let ourselves down and realize we aren’t ‘enough’, we don’t feel condemned to keep up the charade.

The ‘influencers’ are just as messed up as the rest of us, they just have fancier smoke and mirrors, which, as we have seen, can fail pretty easily.

This headline is sad to me. A 19 year old girl based her whole existence on a ‘brand’ that was eviscerated overnight. Nineteen years old. What were you doing at 19? Most of us were just beginning to figure out who the heck we were. I was learning through both success and failure. How thankful I am that I didn’t have it all figured out. She’s a product of parents that put her at the center of her own little universe and it’s all a huge sham. Friends, none of us should base our lives on such things. You are not a brand any more than you are your degree or most recent award. Romans 1:21 says that the further we move away from God, the more futile we become in our thinking. This is futility at it’s finest.

Before we crow too loudly over people like this, let’s remember we are all in the same boat here. Spend a day with the fam at the local amusement park, take a group of kids to the mall, attend a sporting event… watch how quickly things can devolve. It’s every man for himself because our default buttons are set firmly to ‘me’ and ‘now’. We need Jesus. Not the Sunday-only kind of Jesus that puts a smile on our face for an hour, but the Jesus that comes and washes away all of us until what’s left is so infused with Him, we can’t tell where we end and He begins.

It is no good trying to be ‘myself’ without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call ‘Myself’ becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop.

CS Lewis

Still Offended By Goodness

“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:13-15

There is a predictably one-sided and hysterical article that came out at HuffPo bemoaning the fact that Chick-Fil-A is still continuing in their “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior” by donating vast amounts of money to hate groups. Genuine shock and outrage that they did not receive the previous memo to abandon their beliefs has ensued. I’m not going to link to it this time, it’s too ridiculous and it’s easy to look up. The ‘hate groups’ that are referred to by the way are Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army, so there’s that. Without heading down a huge rabbit hole (or shall I say chicken), I want to use this as a little jumping off point to talk about this marvelous paragraph in 1 Peter about how we believers are to deal with the haters.

It’s a story as old as humanity itself, Peter is addressing his letter to Christians who are suffering persecution and rejection because of their obedience to Christ. Their contemporaries are shocked and a little insulted that these folks don’t still choose to run with them in the same sinful circles (4:4) as they once did. Peter urges patience and humility in the face of unjust persecution.

So he begins by asking the question, “who is going to harm you for being a follower of what is good?” The answer is clearly those who aren’t following what is good. Misery loves company… sin loves company… and when you choose not to walk in it or celebrate it, you become a natural target. The Chick- Fil -A debacle was a manufactured outrage from the beginning, a lose-lose battle for anyone holding Christian beliefs. As painful as it is, being a follower of what is good automatically makes you a target.

Peter goes on to say that even when we suffer for what is right, we will be blessed. The enemy will do everything in his power to get us to jump ship or join forces with the other side. The media is in an all out war against a chicken restaurant for heavens sakes, the likes of which you simply do not see with any other company. God says be blessed in the midst of it. Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays and still does better than McDonalds and Starbucks franchises combined. Obviously, something is working. We think we need to do things the world’s way to keep up and it just isn’t true. Honor God, honor His ways, and be blessed by being different.

The last few sentences Peter writes are powerful. “Be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” Now honestly, how often is this happening? Do people see a hope in us that makes them genuinely want what we have? Or are we too busy fortifying our own little walls to keep everyone out? Peter is telling us we need to be shining examples of HOPE in a world gone totally bonkers. How do we do that? “With meekness and fear…” Meekness and humility are almost entirely extinct traits in our society. What if we could be settled in our beliefs, but still humble enough to want to share them with others? What if we could stand our ground against this anti-Biblical agenda that wants to erase truth, but do it in a way that our conscience is clear before God? That’s the ‘fear’ part right there…we have to fear God more than men. Chick-Fil-A, as a company, is doing exactly what we all need to be doing on a personal level.

“They think it strange that you do not run with them…” (4:4)

Let them. We have to be ok with this. Biblical love is sharing the hope and truth that is in us with others. It is not nodding and agreeing with sin so that people will like us. Peter and the early church faced persecution and so will we, and friends, Chick-Fil-A is the tip of the iceberg. I use it as an encouraging example to be true to God, serve Him, serve others, and let the haters dig their own proverbial graves.

Whats that silly internet meme? “Ain’t nobody got time for this?” That’s the truth.

Are people mad that you still haven’t caved to their demands that you embrace the world? It’s ok.

Are folks offended that you continue to believe what Jesus said even though their own modern-day analysis says you are a fool? Super.

We need not be afraid of suffering for what is right. Not ever.

Draw people with the hope that is in you, and do it with meekness and fear. The gospel has a beautiful way of proving itself true time and time again.

On Colleges and Keeping Up

Hustle is an idol if it leads you to cut ethical corners in order to stand out in a competitive world. Katelyn Beaty

I for one am completely fascinated by this past weeks crazy college recruiting scandal. The well-oiled machine that is our national media never misses a beat. I’ve been trying to understand why it has affected me so, and I think it’s largely because it simply hits me in a vulnerable spot: the kids.

I talked with my boys about the antics of these unhinged parents and what could be the driving force behind all this. The irony of it all was of course further compounded by the fact that one of them is a seemingly squeaky clean Hallmark darling whose entire career is based on portraying wholesome characters. You just never know.

I’m acutely aware of the dilemmas and difficulties of raising teens in a culture that wants to undo every value and belief we hold dear. We struggle on a regular basis with boundaries, ethics, identity and truth. The comparison game is strong. Everyone is living in a bona fide pressure cooker that could blow at any moment if we don’t properly let some of the steam out.

We came to a conclusion that much of it has to do with daily, gray-area choices we all make. One compromise leads to another. Pride, when fed and encouraged is almost impossible to tame.

Do I brag about this success or stay humble?

Do I cut corners here if nobody will ever know?

Should I turn a blind eye to something I’ve seen that I know is wrong?

One of our biggest struggles has been the old “well everyone else is doing it, we need to keep up” excuse. I call it the Lance Armstrong defense. You have to do certain things just to even the playing field, or else you’re going to be left in the dust.

Before you know it, you’re photoshopping their face on some other kid’s body and bribing the ACT test-giver.

It’s easy to poke fun at this crowd. I’ve read up on the other non-celebrity parents, and quite honestly, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for them. I do understand, as we all do, feeling overwhelmed and inadequate to be somebody in a world where there are already so many somebody’s.

It’s quite literally the oldest story in the book. Satan tempted Adam and Eve into believing they could have fulfillment outside of God. He convinced Eve that she could acquire something better and elevate herself to a new level of importance.

This whole thing is a losing game. The ends do not justify the unethical means it takes to get there. What is their end game anyway? To bounce from one material success to another, never slipping, never letting anyone see what you’ve sacrificed to get there? I’ll pass.

This is why we reject the hustle, the self-help nonsense and the even (I’m sorry to say) the Christian cool kids who are taking us further into the grey fog of compromise. I’ll be the first to admit, swimming upstream in a downstream world is not easy or even enjoyable at times. But sin always, always ends up costing us more than it can ever give us. The obsession with worldly image is taking perfectly kind and rational people down a path that will destroy them. I used to try and shield my kids from defeat, but now when it happens I don’t necessarily shun it. There’s big things to be learned through disappointment. It’s the same disappointment though that can drive us to make foolish decisions. I loosely joke with them and ask “Would you be the Tim Tebow or the Lance Armstrong?”

I’d like to think Jesus would come down and personally smack me upside my head if I ever stooped to something so low, but let’s be honest here… we are all just one selfish, insecure decision away from doing something really dumb. We are not above our teens any more than they are above us, and we all need the same thing:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage… for you brethren, have been called to liberty… but God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 5:1, 13,/6:14

Friends, we don’t have to live on the hamster wheel. It’s hard to be in the minority, but it’s actually also a great honor. The world is destined to be deceived, they are bent on it. Let’s remember we don’t have to claw our way up the totem pole or prove our worth. We are worthy and loved already, our kids are too, whether they wind up at Harvard or living in our basement.

Basking In Our Awesomeness

I love reading people’s differing reactions to big, juicy, topics of our day. I shouldn’t, but I do. The way people perceive the same things so differently fascinated me. My blog friend Jen Oshman wrote an amazing article yesterday at the Gospel Coalition reviewing the newest self-help/Christian book by motivational speaker Rachel Hollis. I would highly recommend reading her thoughts, they are fair and Biblically sound. For something marketed to Christian women, there is reason to be concerned. The book pushes Jesus far out to the sidelines and encourages women to be selfish, self-absorbed, shameless social climbers and dream-chasers. Although I wouldn’t read it, lots of women I know do choose to pick it up and soak it in. They quote it and post excerpts because it makes them feel something, it stirs the mind, body and heart to get it together and do better.

We have to be able to have intelligent conversations with ourselves and others about why we read and think the way we do. Too often, I hear about women reading this kind of thing, feeling both inspired and frustrated and not sure what to do about it. Something is off, but they keep on reading, accepting at face value the ideas as absolute truth, and they are left with some big questions.

The article relates to the book, but goes beyond it into some questions we all should be asking ourselves. Oshman calls the crux of the message both “exhausting and damning“. That is serious stuff. We can’t just live awesomely and plow over people on the way to our dreams. My favorite quote is this:

“We were made to be more than self-made. We are God-made. God-rescued. God-loved. Only as we orient our lives and dreams around Him will we experience true and lasting joy.”

I don’t think it’s too terribly controversial to say Jesus doesn’t promote us promoting ourselves. He loves us, has good plans for us, but dedicating our lives to our own awesome image is just gross. I’m pretty sure it’s also idolatry.

The steady diet of motivational DIY spirituality should be giving us indigestion. But like a Snickers bar at 3pm, we still crave it.

It’s a healthy discussion I think… one that will never be put to rest and that’s ok. We need to understand why we are drawn to the things we are drawn to… good and bad… wise and frivolous… so that we can make solid, life-giving choices. Jesus is the reference point, though. Not our dreams, aspirations or fragile egos. Don’t call the Bible “nuanced” when it’s clear. Don’t create tension where God has given an abundance of truth and grace.

Lent is upon us… we remember that we are dust, but are not condemned to remain dust. We actually are made for more, as the shiny new books tell us. God doesn’t want to take away or deprive us of our dreams, but He probably would like us to examine how much of our big giant selves we are inserting into the space that should be reserved for Him alone.

He gets to be first. We need to come in a strong third, maybe fourth even. Love God, love others, chase those dreams, but please… remember they originated with Him, not ourselves, and finding earthly fame at the expense of your soul is a terrible trade off.

Children of (Dis)obedience

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4

I read the story of the Tower of Babel and I can’t help but wonder “who amongst these people thought this would be a good idea?!” Just a few generations down from the great flood in which humanity was essentially wiped out and given a new start, here they are again, eyeball deep in idolatry, rejecting God, and building their castles in the sky.

Verse 5 is a little cheeky sounding to me, it says that God had to “come down” to see what they were up to. Even man’s biggest tower was still an anthill to Him.

There are worse things than wanting to make a name for yourself and not be scattered all over the earth, aren’t there? Possibly. However, these folks, the descendants of Noah, were given a very specific command: Go and fill the earth (Genesis 9:1). They were doing the opposite of what they were told to do.

And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. v.6-8

God knows, better than we know ourselves, what we are capable of when left to our own devices. This was just the beginning. Interesting that the flood did not and could not wipe out the stain of Adam’s sins. Humanity continues in it’s pride and desire to be it’s own boss.

The disease of sin has been passed down to us, it’s in our very genes. Ephesians 2:2 says we are born “the children of disobedience.” Instead of filling the earth with the Good News, we are busy building our own little kingdoms. Jesus came to undo what the first Adam had done. He came to break the sin-curse that plagues us and root it out once and for all. Have you ever pulled a giant weed up by the roots? It’s remarkably satisfying. If you get it at the roots, it’s not coming back. Too often, we pull and tug at what we can see of our sin but fail to deal with things at the root. Trimming a weed to make it look better doesn’t get rid of the weed problem. Jesus restores us to our original place in the story… free from the curse and free to live a life of obedience to God.

We don’t always respond to the word obedience with open, welcoming arms.

Ever tried to correct a teenager? “I’m doing the best I can! I’m not perfect!”

Ever been comfy enough with sin that you really just don’t even want to give it up? “Don’t be so legalistic! Jesus came to free us from the law! We aren’t supposed to be earning our salvation!”

If talking about living in obedience makes you feel more condemned than free… if it brings up more excuses than solutions… well, you’re not alone. We mess up, then give up, making all kinds of excuses as we go. This isn’t God’s plan at all, thankfully. Salvation isn’t earned, it’s worked out (Philippians 2:12). Our obedience, our love toward others, it’s just the evidence of a real faith working inside us.

How confident are we in Jesus? Do we go all-in with Him regardless of what people will think? In spite of our discomfort? Or do we obey when it’s convenient and take to building our own little cities when we think we can do it better? It’s so easy to start piling up our bricks isn’t it? They keep us sheltered and together. But God isn’t all that concerned with ‘safe and in place’.

James tells us pointedly that faith without works is dead… our obedience (or disobedience) is a natural outflow of our faith. We aren’t meant to struggle along like beggars, we actually get to go “from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7). He gives us strength to obey, a desire to obey, and a heart to obey. One strong choice leads to another, and before you know it, obedience is more natural than disobedience. Our default becomes not what our flesh wants, but what God wants. Not always the easiest choice, but for sure the best choice.

God wants us to honor Him by putting Him first. I don’t think we are created to handle “big” very well. Making a name for ourselves shouldn’t be on our to-do list. Making His name known should.

To Lent… Or Not To Lent?

The supermarket Peeps are out. This can only mean one thing: on to the next religious/commercial season!

In about a week, Catholics and some Christians will observe Ash Wednesday and begin the season of Lent, a time of remembering the wilderness journey of Jesus and His ultimate sacrifice for us. Much like Advent, Lent is a season of preparation and waiting.

So begins the annual debate amongst Protestants and evangelicals, “to Lent… or not to Lent?” We have a funny relationship with this season… trying to strike a proper balance between the secular and the holy is no small task. Some will go out of their way to not celebrate Lent, calling it a return to the ritualistic stuff the Reformation did away with. “Fish on Fridays!” was a strict observance of my Presbyterian church when I was a kid. Did you know McDonalds’ Filet-O-Fish sandwiches were created to keep Catholic customers happy during Lent? And that the entire Swiss Reformation was kicked off by a couple of priests who decided they wanted some delicious sausages on a Friday during Lent? It was actually called the “Affair of The Sausages” and it’s as entertaining as it sounds.

I came across two images about Lent that sum up this whole debate: The first, a Catholic priest telling us that the purpose of life ain’t about being happy kids… but the purpose of life is to attain perfect life. Or something. I’m not sure actually. In the comments section this guy actually told a new convert to try their “Holy40” program because if you start off too severe at the beginning, you may not make it. The ‘Holy40’ has a nice ring to it I suppose, sounds a bit like the Christian version of chart-topping hits. Regardless, this guy isn’t messing around. You must ‘develop’ a good Lent he says… behave yourself… use the program if you know what’s good for you.

The next picture is one of a lovely affirmation done in the oh so popular new marker script that has taken over our Instagram feeds. This sweet girl promises us that free Lenten printable are coming soon to her shop… (!!!) but that she is actually dreading the approach of the season. She goes on to give a tortured but honest explanation of how if we just ‘do the work’ we too can be transformed by the glory of Easter.

So enters all kinds of confusion about fasting, rituals, personal choice, and spiritual growth. Fat Tuesday binge drinking is followed by somber Ash Wednesday piety. We bask in the work of the cross but work our tails off to feel worthy of it. It is all very odd. Something I’ve noticed about this season, especially in the more evangelical circles, is our affinity for the “40 Day” cycle. Much like Advent in December where we count down the days to the arrival, the “40 day road to Easter” gives us a chance to reflect, wait and hopefully draw nearer to Jesus.

Here’s the hook: 40 days has huge Biblical significance and can be a meaningful time for us. It can also be just another checklist exercise in futility. Here are just a few real-life book examples of the 40-day obsession that got me wondering if maybe we’ve gone off the rails just a little bit:

40 Days to a More Generous Life, 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed, 40 Days of Decrease, 40 Days of Biblical Declarations, 40 Days to Lasting Change, 40 Day Soul Fast, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, and my favorite, 40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood… sign me up for that one.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s offered to us. Some of these books or studies can be beneficial, some I know are not. We just love hitching our wagons to anything with a scheduled outcome though, don’t we?

I think we can all benefit from heartfelt reflection as we lead up to Easter. I personally am not giving up any coffee or wine, but I am picking up God’s Word. I like to focus on the Gospels, the story as it is told to us, Jesus as He is represented, as He IS. We have an old book of paintings that tells story of the Passion of Christ, it’s simple, but there’s nothing boring about it. It has the Bible verses at the bottom of each page. It doesn’t offer any new strategies or foolproof charts, it just tells the greatest story ever told. Charts and strategies comfort us, but time will prove they are a trap. Even the most spirit-filled, Biblically sound Jesus-lover has to watch out, for it sneaks through the back door of our minds and before we realize, we are trying to formulate ourselves out of our problems. It’s the gospel of self-sufficiency, self-reliance and just all -around self. It’s why these books sell so well. There must be some little trick, if we can just figure out the key, we’ll have it all figured out. By our selves.

Contrary to popular thought, we actually are called to humble ourselves and take up our cross daily (Matthew 16:24). Notice the word “daily”. Not just during Lent or Advent. I think most of us could spend 40 days just on that idea alone. We sacrifice daily. We crucify our flesh daily. We humble ourselves daily. The last thing any of us need is something to make us feel more inferior. Things may go awry during your 40 days of this or that… it’s ok. It’s not about finding perfection, it’s about finding Jesus, and ourselves within Him.

The point of this coming season is that Jesus took our place and gave us life from death. Ash Wednesday gives way to Resurrection Sunday. I agree with the old Reformers that we don’t need a calendar or holiday to begin or end anything with Jesus, He’s ever-present and doesn’t change. We don’t have seasons of obedience or sacrifice, any more than we have seasons of gluttony or sin. We have our daily bread, our uninterrupted abiding and communion with Jesus.

I do love this time of year and the chance to pause and reflect. I don’t mind Lent as long as it leads away from myself and towards God. But we mourn no longer. We are no longer slaves to sin or self. Ask Him what He would have for you during this time. Let Him decide what your 40 days will look like and I guarantee it’ll be better than any study book you could every buy.

What do you do (or not do) for this season?

‘Shallow’, Oscars, and the Giant Void

I skipped out on the Oscars, truth be told I saw exactly zero of the films nominated this year. The creepy Hollywood worship just weirds me out. The more people go ‘gaga’ over Lady Gaga, the more want to put my fingers in my ears and yell “La la la la!! I can’t hear you!!”  There’s something embarrassing about making already narcissistic people even more puffed up in themselves. I digress…

I read a little article this morning about the universal void we all feel and try to fill… even Lady Gaga herself said she has to leave the TV on so she doesn’t feel so alone. Her song with Bradley Cooper is now the most awarded song in history, for whatever thats worth. I think it speaks volumes of our emptiness and longing for something more.

Tell me somethin’, girl, are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more? Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?”

Tell me something, boy, aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void? Or do you need more? Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore?” SHALLOW 

This song won all the awards and gives us all the feels. People like having all the feels. Sometimes I find it hard to listen to things like this precisely for that reason. The emotion is too raw, I become acutely aware of this horrible void inside me, but have nowhere to go with those feelings other than to keep listening to lyrics that make me even more introspective.

The author gives us a sobering analogy of life that stopped me in my tracks:

“If your age is 15, it is 10:25 in the morning in your life. If you are 20, it is 11:34 in the morning. If you are 25, it is 12:42. If you are 30, the time of your life is 1:51 P.M. If you are 35, it is 3:00 in the afternoon. If you are 40, it is 4:08 in the afternoon. If you are 45, it is 5:15 in the evening. If you are 50, it is 6:25. 55 is 7:34. If you are 60, the time is 8:40 p.m. If you are 65, it is 9:55 p.m. If you are 70, it is 11:00 at night. “

Oh my gosh, for me it’s already after 4PM! What kind of rude wake up call is this? Now is not the time to be floundering around bouncing from one little success to another hoping to find some elusive happiness.

If we can learn anything from watching the Hollywood circus, it’s that the human longing for significance is a deep one. CS Lewis said:

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

We cling to our short-lived successes because they give us a jolt of happiness for a moment and push us through to the next thing. But we are always left wanting more. Who won an Oscar five years ago? Who won the World Series twelve years ago? Most people don’t remember and they don’t care.

Paul says something in 1 Corinthians that I find so fitting for this situation:
“Run your race in such a way that you obtain the prize. Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into submission, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (9:24-27)

We are all on the clock, and no amount of money or fame or awards can change that. Paul wanted to make sure we understand that going after the temporary stuff is like flailing about with your fists hitting the air. He says go after the real prize… remember what you’re doing here.

The bar is set high for us in our culture. We see winners plastered all over the place and feel deficient. Women and girls spend obscene amounts of time on their appearance, boys I’m learning just compete with everyone to the point of madness to be top dog… we don’t even know what we are chasing after, we just charge ahead with our big egos at the wheel.

I want so badly to be able to run confidently past it all and not be sidetracked by what is basically just a glittering pile of garbage. I want to take Paul’s words to heart and know that I don’t have to run with uncertainty or angst in my heart. He said you can’t mix the spirit and the flesh, it just doesn’t work (1 Corinthians 2:13). The Psalmist wrote “I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked” (84:10). 

That’s something to think about. God or the earthly good life? Where do we look for our significance? Let’s choose the real over the phony. The lasting over the temporary. God over Lady Gaga.

Sorry, I had to say it…