Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Following God's Schedule

#DailyProverbs Romans 11:33-36: "How great are God's riches! How deep are his wisdom and knowledge! Who can explain his decisions? Who can understand his ways? As the scripture says: 'Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who is able to give him advice? Who has ever given him anything,
so that he had to pay it back?' For all things were created by him, and all things exist through him and for him. To God be the glory for ever! Amen."

I don't like to wait.
I don't like delays.
I don't like it when plans are not followed.

Part of me could be diagnosed with any number of things (and I have) to explain why I get irritated and feel compulsions to have things in a certain order or way. When I do not have that, I get physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Or, all of the psychology aside, it may just be that I am a human being that's alive and experiences emotions, like everyone else does. Or, maybe I just want my way. We all want our way. (FYI, I don't know of ANYONE that doesn't want their way.)

All of us enjoy feeling in control of our own schedule and grow frustrated when things don't go according to plan. Yet if we truly desire to walk in the center of God's perfect will, we must become willing to cooperate with His time frame. This is the hardest and most annoying God-lesson you will ever learn. God's time does not equal your time. God's way, isn't' your way. God's knowledge and sight are deeper and longer than your knowledge and sight. I don't love that fact, but it's a true fact.

Consider how you pray about situations in your life. Without realizing it, you may be demanding that God follow the schedule you've constructed according to your very limited human wisdom. I want God to give me jobs that let me have x, y, and z times free. But, really, if I'm provided for, then God's job is done. Satisfaction and perfection were not on the table in our discussion, just forgiveness and a commission to go. Or, I want MY candidate to win, but hey... God may know things I don't, and may want things I don't. (I get schooled e'ery day by people, friends, foes, and yes... God.)

However, Christian... let's just say this: if we *truly* believe He is who He says He is, how can surrendering to His way not be to our benefit? If we "really" believe in truth - wouldn't we actually walk and talk and live and share and help like we are following the teachings of Christ (loving God, loving others)? Wouldn't you actually do the stuff - the hard stuff like in the early first-generation church (sharing, leaving lots of comfortable religion and seeking to share what Jesus did for you with those that you'd likely never associate with) - that Jesus talked about if you believed he was real and coming back and you would have to account for your life? Because otherwise... you are just in a really strict social club. Sure, church is moral, and teaches good things and is fun. But church won't save you. Jesus will save you, then you go to church to hang out and collaborate with other saved, forgiven folks. Church isn't some magical thing that does the transforming. Jesus does that. Church is something you are a part of and something that is edifying, not the reason to be edified. That li'l Ghandi fellow said it nicely: "I like your Christ, I just don't like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." And that's just a powerful statement EVERY true believer and follower needs to be sensitive to... if we exuded Jesus, people wouldn't think we are all a bunch of hypocrites that equate affluent conservatives with "good christian folk." We wouldn't be de-friending people over Trump, Clinton or bathrooms if people just exuded Jesus. You'd love them anyway, have peace with them anyway and move on about your business of being grateful you got saved, and sharing the good news of your own testimony. Not legislating and bean-counting the worthiness of everyone else. #Oops #TooMuchMK #GoodChristiansJudgeDontThey #No

Think about His unique, praiseworthy qualities:
  • His all-encompassing knowledge. Unlike us, Jesus has complete awareness about our world and the details of every individual life--past, present, and future. And He doesn't really need you keeping those details on anyone else. He can do just fine.
  • His complete wisdom. God understands man's every motive, whereas you are unable to accurately discern people's intentions, until later. And even then, your own emotions and agenda get in the way. I know mine do. I love the Lord, and I try to show love to people, but even I have a hard time with some. God is way smarter than me and picks out paths that I can't even see or pattern. We make choices based on partial information, whereas He has the wisdom to take action based on truth.
  • His unconditional love. Our Creator is always motivated by love and constantly has our best in mind. Unless we trust His heart, our view of reality will be distorted. And I say that because we truly have a tendency to say we 'love,' but we don't. Not like Him and not perfectly. We love with condition. We love with expectations. If I do this, you will do this, or I will stop doing this. That's human. But it's not God.
  • His perfect sufficiency. At just the right time, God will provide us with everything we need to carry out His plan. Period.

Submitting to God's timetable and his planning requires faith AND courage. It's scary and it takes GUTS to follow the Lord. Believe in the goodness of His heart and His plans--and determine to wait until He gives the signal to move forward. Then, as you follow His schedule, you'll experience the joy of watching Him make all things beautiful in His timing. And you'll never ever be short of miracles to be amazed at. I am amazed every day at the things God does, when I listen, when I take on the things that scare me and possible even make other "christians" mad at me; but man, God has NEVER let me down in planning or in scheduling.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Monday, April 25, 2016

Learning From Failure

#DailyProverbs Luke 22:31-34: "'Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers.'

Peter answered, 'Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you and to die with you!'

'I tell you, Peter,' Jesus said, 'the cock will not crow tonight until you have said three times that you do not know me.'”

The disciple Simon Peter was a man of great faith and bold action. The foundation of the Church as we know it, and the predecessor to Saul/Paul's writings and even their great conflict. But as readers of the New Testament know, his brash style sometimes led him to make humiliating mistakes. More than once, this disciple had to wear the label of "miserable failure" rather than that of "obedient servant." I know that I can relate to him. I relate to him much more than Pauline teachings on many subjects. I am brash. I am tempermmental. I would likely cut a soldier's ear off in the heat of the garden confrontation. I know I'm not alone. We can all relate when it comes to falling short of expectations. Obedience to God is a learning process, and failure is a part of our development as humble servants. When we yield to temptation or rebel against God's authority, we realize that sin has few rewards, and even those are fleeting.

Failure is an excellent learning tool, as Peter could certainly attest. Through trial and error, he discovered:
  • Humility is required of ALL believers (John 13:5-14);
  • God's ways are higher than the world's ways. Period. (Mark 8:33);
  • One should never take their eyes off Jesus (Matt. 14:30).
Peter took each of those lessons to heart and thereby grew stronger in his faith. Isn't that Romans 8:28 in action? God caused Peter's failures to be put to good use as training material because the disciple was eager to mature and serve.

God doesn't reward rebellion or wrongdoing; however, by His grace, He blesses those who choose repentance, and learn to retry until they get this "love everyone" thing down right. We can even learn to embrace correction and getting it right. We can embrace chastisement as a tool for growth. If you have mistreated people lately, spoken out of hate, instead of love, or even judged others because they are different. God can still use you, and you can still be reconciled back to God. Maybe you have used your standards as a witness instead of your actions, but don't worry Apostolic, God still loves you and God still wants to work through you to show the love of Jesus to people that need Him the most: the abused, the poor, the needy, and those that have been disenfranchised. Don't worry, Christian... just because you have gotten it wrong in fearing the world, and what you don't understand, doesn't mean you can't do better. We are called to not be OF the world, but we are definitely IN the world. Don't make the mistake of being so separate that you don't provide a view and connection to Christ. That's what you are there for. There's always a chance to do better. The particularly nice thing about those of us that have failed so spectacularly is that we are a forgiving, and sometimes even forgetting, people. We will most certainly forgive your failure and lack of love to those that God loves, and help you embrace the teachings of Christ to be kind to all, and love all, and share with all.

We would probably all prefer to grow in our faith without ever making a mistake before God's eyes, but we cannot deny that missteps are instructive. Failure teaches believers that it is much wiser and more profitable to be obedient to the Lord.

That's a lesson we all should take to heart.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#DailyProverbs 3/29/16

#DailyProverbs 29:1: "If you get more stubborn every time you are corrected, one day you will be crushed and never recover."

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#DailyProverbs March 23, 2016

#DailyProverbs 23:21: "Drunkards and gluttons will be reduced to poverty. If all you do is eat and sleep, you will soon be wearing rags."

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On Negativity

Look, some people are just negative. They are hard-wired to see the fault and see if and how it affects them first. That will always be their first reaction and their default setting.

It doesn't mean they aren't kind people, or even good-hearted or fun-loving, but... BUT, that trait will always show up. They will always find the one note missed in a beautiful song of thousands of notes. They will always find a way to be stressed or unhappy, even in the best of circumstances that so many others would consider a dream. If they have food, it's the wrong kind... if they have water, it's not what they wanted, if they have a roof, it could be better. If they are dieting, it's the worst ever. If they have lost weight, it's not enough. They will always want more and more and more... whatever it is, it could be better or different. They are just never going to be satisfied.

So, stop trying.

Life your life. Do what you are going to do. Go where you are going to go. Let them come, or not. Let them join, or not. They will be confused and hurt when you retreat or don't always seek to include them. And rightly so, either love them or don't love them. But don't be their "sometimes" friend. But, under no circumstances are you required to cater to them or ensure their happiness is secured ahead of your own.

The world is a big, beautiful, fun place - and even with the horrors that hit us daily - it's still great to be alive and sentient and able to pursue your passions and life paths. Do not let someone else hinder and derail that. Invite them along, but don't stop for them.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

#DailyProverbs: Controlling Our Appetites

1 Corinthians 9:23-27: "All this I do for the gospel's sake, in order to share in its blessings. Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last for ever. That is why I run straight for the finishing line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest."

You can't win a race, if you don't run it. You can't succeed in something if you never attempt it. You can't learn from mistakes, if you never take action and fail. What are you trying to win? What do you want to make happen and what does success at that look like? Are you making steps to achieve those goals? Why? Why not? Is your appetite ruining your diet? Is your diet causing you to fail at things?

What words would you use to describe our society? Materialistic, sure. We are. Our capitalistic sensibilities are good at making us want to work and see profit, but they also train us to focus on the end goal of making money - getting stuff. Everyone loves stuff. (Remember the Steve Martin movie, 'The Jerk?' When he lost his fortune and his wife left.. she said, "it's not about the money, it's a bout the stuff." We are sensual, sure. We know that sex sells everything. If you can get us to feel flushed and excited, we equate the product with that feeling of beauty and intimacy and we will spend money for it. We are impatient. We want it all and we do not want to wait for any of it. We don't want to build and see growth, we want the finished product. We are indulgent. We reward every step of a process and then wonder why we can't even finish the goal. We expect others to cater to our wants, and not realize that we breed entitlement, even in those that work hard and try hard... they become expectant that just normal, everyday, grown-up activities should get them some type of "extra credit." And people indulge that behavior. We are undisciplined. We create things like "cheat days" because we know that our mentality needs to feel like it's getting something it shouldn't. We do well, then we cheat???  We starve, then gorge. We are disciplined, then we take a break.

Those are just a few examples, but one of the worst is that w are also "have it right now" society and we have bred that expectation and culture since the industrial revolution. We do not want to strategically plan, lay the foundation, and then do the work to see results. We dont' see far, as in see past generations of work and planning to the future of the Earth. We want convenience and gratification today. The devil specializes in presenting us with opportunities for instant gratification while promising us that indulging our appetites will bring us the satisfaction we seek. But they don't. Over- and often-indulging will make you sick. It will make you fat. It will bloat your processes. It will cripple your speed. It will break your discipline. It will expand your materialism. It will twist your sensuality.

Appetites are not bad. Human appetites, in and of themselves, are not sinful, nor are the activities taht go with each a sin. In fact, they're God-given, God-ordained, and God-approved. However, because WE as humans tend to take one of a good thing and corrupt it by making it the sole focus, the greater purpose, and something we cannot control... we make sin out of them. Because of our fleshly weaknesses, they need to be controlled. Do you think sex is bad? No, of course not. Sex is great. But people get addicted. They begin to twist something very good into obsession. They being to have a harder time being pleased with something and they need to take it to a different level. Their boredom and complacency begins to make them want different partners, to do harmful things, and to want to make it something it was never intended to be. Food is the same way. Food is merely fuel... but when you make it a great focus of your life... when you make food a reward system for your behavior... you can eat "x," if you accomplish "y." That's crazy. Food is for your body. Not reward for your action. Food isn't your comforter. If you eat to negate negative feelings... you will create an emotional link between how you feel and the food you tasted and smelled when you were feeling that feeling. When you do that repeatedly... it becomes more and more ingrained in you. The examples can go on and on...

When our appetites rule us, we become something of a slave. We are not in control and we are not able to rationally do the tasks we need to do in front of us. We're in trouble. Paul equated and gave the analogy that likened the Christian life to that of athletes who are so focused on winning the race that they exercise self-control in every area of their lives. And that is exactly how we're called to live. We have purpose in our lives. We have so many reasons to be grateful, happy, and to be at work on various things... but we don't. We seem never satisfied.

And it's more than just lacking motivation and determination. It's that conditioned response and years of bad behavior that must be modified. It's generations of teachings that just... need to be excavated and demolished and rebuilt in a way that is healthy. If you are weak, you are not alone... we lack the power to do so in our own strength. For this reason, we need to rely on the Holy Ghost. If we yield our lives to Him and step out in obedience to His promptings, we'll have the strength to say no when unhealthy and detrimental appetites and behaviors feel overpowering (Gal. 5:16).

But the bottom line is super simple, and super easy: You can do it. You can actually begin to make small decisions and choices every day that begin to build up to larger changes over time. If you made them all in one may not stick to them. You might feel overwhelmed. But take baby steps. Make one good choice a day. Then add to them.

Love y'all. You can do it.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

#DailyProverbs 16:7

#DailyProverbs 16:7: "When you please the Lord, you can make your enemies into friends."

You don't have to speak. You don't have to act. You don't have to lift even one finger. Hold your peace, let God fight your battles. All you have to do is love God, and love others. The rest will unfold.

It is when you get involved, involve your emotion, your self-righteousness, that you begin to alter the outcome that could have happened, had you left it alone and let God handle it. Sometimes, you just need to shut up, step back, and leave it alone.