Good things and God Things

Happy 2018! I think I’m not supposed to say this, but I don’t mind one bit the end of the holidays. I love Christmas, but there’s something about January. December is a month filled with family, friends, food, activity and just… a lot. I love decorating the house, and I equally love un-decking all the halls. There’s just a fantastic feeling about hitting the reset button in different areas of life.

Like most people, our family has goals for 2018, some big, some small, some practical and others lofty. As we were talking with our kids about the specifics of them yesterday, two words popped in my head: big picture.

Continue reading

Kneel, Roll and Be Free

camel_one_previous_owner4Photo courtesy: moxon.net

This post is about how to act like a camel, so bear with me for a moment.

Every once in awhile I come across a familiar verse and see it in a whole new way. There’s this little section in my Bible they call “word wealth” and it aims to reveal the true meaning behind certain words. The original meaning, from the Hebrew or Greek. What’s fascinating is that some of our English words just don’t cut it when it comes to understanding what God was conveying to us through His word. In the same way that Eskimos have several different words for what we just call ‘snow’, there are layers and meanings to our ‘ordinary’ words.

Here’s the verse, which we’ve probably all heard a few times:

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

Commit your way. Words like dedicate and devote come to mind. If I commit my way to Him I’m making a kind of pledge or promise to follow Him. All good things.

Here’s what my Bible had to say on it that just was such a powerful picture to me:

commitgalal (gah-lahl) Strong’s #1556; To roll, roll away, remove. In this text the reader is encouraged to roll his works into God’s care. The picture is of a camel, burdened with a heavy load; when the load is to be removed, the camel kneels down, tilts far to one side, and the load rolls off.

Did you catch that? Read it again. We’ve all probably seen a camel kneeling down to drink or let someone off it’s back. It has to get down on it’s front legs and roll the load off it’s back.

Kneel. And roll.

This is such a simple and profound thing for me. We all have loads to carry. Some is just life responsibilities, like work or kids or marriage. We carry them everywhere we go. It’s our God-given ‘load’ and in the right context, it’s a joy to carry. On the other hand, we pick up things along the way that are simply backbreaking, things we aren’t meant to haul around.

Guilt. Disappointments. Old scores to settle. Resentment. Opinions of others. What a long list we can all make.

Is your back hurting? Is your spirit heavy? God is saying it’s ok to bend the knee and take a rest. Furthermore, after you’ve bent the knee, feel free to roll all that junk right off. Lighten your load. Get rid of it. Roll it AWAY from yourself and ONTO a God who can actually do something about it.

How very freeing. Remember what Jesus says to us:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28

Rest for your SOUL. I don’t know about you, but I desire that kind of rest. You know how you feel after a solid nights sleep? I imagine soul rest is even better and more important. It doesn’t mean the troubles disappear, it means though that they are off our backs. Rolled onto a Savior who willfully takes them. What is required of us? Kneeling and rolling. Pretty basic.

Ask God today what you need to roll off your back and onto Him. We aren’t required to walk around heavy-laden on the verge of collapse. It’s not heroic to be overburdened. Camels aren’t the most graceful of creatures I suppose, but neither are we when we are overwhelmed. Kneel down, awkward as it may be, and roll all that stuff off. I imagine we’d all walk a little lighter and straighter without a giant load weighing us down.

Blessings friends.

Nothing But Cowbell

18012913_10212316575936232_220595045_o.png

Do you ever come up against people or arguments that are so one-sided, so determined to remain in their own four walls that you genuinely don’t know whether it’s worth it to fight or flee?

I watched a fascinating video yesterday posted on the Sheologian’s website about what happens almost weekly at an Arizona Planned Parenthood clinic between pro-life and pro-abortion protesters. There’s a pastor who shows up to talk with the abortion rights people. He asks calmly about their position and if they would please speak with him and have a conversation about what they believe. This is what happens: cowbell.

This lady stares into her smart phone and relentlessly shakes a giant cowbell in his face. She then says she doesn’t engage with crazy.

I began thinking about how much of our time is spent uselessly trying to argue against the cowbells. To be totally fair, I also considered the times I’ve spent being the one ringing that big ol’ bell.

Noise is nothing but a distraction from the truth. Truth is what leads us to freedom. If all a person can do is ring the cowbell and make more noise, there’s no getting around it and there’s certainly no hope for ever receiving any truth.

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about foolish arguments:

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.” (26:4)

Strangely enough, the very  next verse seems to say the exact opposite thing:

“Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” (26:5)

 

Wait… are we supposed to engage or run? Fight or flee? I think instead of being opposed to each other, these two verses build upon one another. The first verse is warning us not to stoop to a low-level because it simply makes us into what we are standing against. It’s the whole “two wrongs don’t make a right” analogy your mom always told you when you were a kid. When someone is wrong, they only way they can draw you in is through deceit and distraction. The enemy would like nothing more than to see us all standing around shaking cowbells at one another because it distracts from what is really happening. It’s a lose/lose situation, even for the person who originally was standing on the truth.

Verse 5 is the different side to the same coin. It tells us to answer these arguments “lest he be wise in his own eyes”.  A right word at the right time can change everything. The point is not to shame someone and hammer them for being wrong, but to expose untruth and folly so we are not wise in our own ways.

What strikes me most in this story of the pastor is that he isn’t obsessing over winning or being right, he’s just desiring truth to get out there. Whether it’s accepted or not isn’t really his issue. He speaks it, but doesn’t get sucked down the rabbit hole of hostile and foolish arguments. God’s path to victory is often via a humble and low-road. The great thing about truth is that it doesn’t really need us to defend it. It just is. We stand up for it and speak it, but the fight isn’t really ours to take on.

Two strangers confronting one another on the street is one thing, but take this now and apply it to your actual life with family and friends. My eyebrows raise and my teeth clinch a little just writing that. Sometimes there are cowbells ringing all over the place, from the ones we love the most. At times it’s us holding up a giant noisemaker refusing to budge or hear any truth. Satan would like nothing more than to keep us clanging and shaking bells in each others’ faces. I love this passage from Lisa-Jo Baker:

“We are never in more dangerous territory than when we’ve been wounded by someone, and as we lie there bleeding and hurt, Satan tries to poke and prod and torture us into a reaction that is wildly out of proportion to the original wounding.” 

Wildly out of proportion. This is his trap, believers. The desire to be heard leads us down an irrational and ungodly path where truth gets tossed aside and our winning becomes the most important thing. We have to ask ourselves which we care most about, doing right or being right? I’m a huge believer in the notion that when we continue to do what is right in God’s eyes, according to His word, He will lift us up.

The noise of foolish arguments is designed to keep us distracted, spinning our wheels, angry, and obsessed with the wrong things. Cowbells are everywhere. I thank God every day that there is so much to be found in His Word to guide us around all this noise. If you’re holding up a big bell, consider setting it down and listening to the person in front of you, above all, consider listening to God. If you’re faced with someone ringing relentlessly in your face, ask for wisdom about how to engage. Or disengage. That’s the beauty of walking with Jesus. His truth is our most powerful weapon. Far better than a giant noisemaker.