Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wake Up and Live!

A funny thing happens when I get startled awake. I act (often rashly) before I am aware of my surroundings. A family member or friend will startle me out of a nap. I'll yell, flail, and rebel before I actually know what is going on. Though I respond instantly, it takes a minute to get my bearings so that I can respond appropriately.

That response can illustrate how we wake up in our spiritual lives. We fall asleep in our faith. Therefore, we aren’t as aware of God’s voice, God’s direction or God’s presence in our lives. Then, some circumstance jars us awake. We turn to Jesus like a knee jerk reaction. We pray for Jesus to fix the situation before we fully understand the situation. We demand God give us direction though we aren’t that familiar with God's voice. In other words, we jump to spiritual action before we get our spiritual bearings.

When that happens, God’s grace is sufficient. Though we return to Jesus like a startled napper, he helps us regain awareness in Him. Ephesians 5:13-15 promises it: “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.’” We may not be spiritually aware when we wake, but we have the promise that Jesus will help us see by shining his light on us.

If you have fallen asleep spiritually, let me encourage you to wake up! Wake up and act spiritually even if it feels like you’re flailing. Pray. Read the scriptures. Worship with fellow Christians. As you do, Jesus will shine a light on you. He will help you discern His voice. He will help you recognize His will for your life. Though waking up may shock our system, He will help us see our situation for what it is and bring it to life.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lamp and Light

A Gospel singer named Amy Grant was popular when I was a kid.  One of her big hits was a song called Thy Word.  The lyrics of the chorus to Thy Word quote Psalm 119: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path.”

When I first listened to Grant’s song, the lyric didn’t make sense.  My thoughts went something like this: “Why do you need light on your feet and how can words be a light?  If you are in the dark, you should carefully walk to the closest wall and turn the light on.”  The Psalm writer’s symbolic language was lost on my grade school sensibilities.

As I grew older, I learned that flashlights and flood lamps were hard to find in ancient Israel.  In fact, they didn’t exist.  In the Psalm writer’s day, light was carried on candles and torches.  Carrying a light allowed a person to see where they were walking, illuminating a short distance in front of them.

That is the type of image of scripture the Psalm writer is trying to create.  We carry God’s word with us and it illuminates the path right in front of us.  We take steps of faith, trusting that the light will continue lighting our way.

As you approach this week, read God’s word in a way that allows you to take it with you.  You might even try memorizing a short passage of scripture.  As the words of the Bible become a part of you, ask how they apply to your life today.  You can take God’s word with you to work and allow it to inform your relationship with co-workers.  God’s word can come to mind during your family time this evening. 

The Bible is a lamp for your feet.  Let it light the path that is right in front of you today.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Culture Wars & the Christian Life

America’s culture wars have reached a feverish pitch. Facebook feeds are filled with mudslinging (aggressive and passive aggressive). The talking heads of 24-Hour news stations use inflammatory language to bludgeon silent opponents who were never invited to the conversation. The lines are drawn. The talking points are clear. Us verses them. Them verses us. To be on one side or the other, people must agree to the entire ideological platform.

Confronted with that, many Christians don’t know where they fit. Our faith won’t allow us to agree to an entire platform of ideologies. The scriptures, the traditions of the church and the direction of the Holy Spirit constantly call all human ideologies into question. As a result, we feel like we don't fit in.

If you are one of those folks, wondering where you fit in, you are in good company. The Apostle Paul described “not fitting in” as a natural part of the Christian life. Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul says, “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Our belief in Christ (and opinions that stem from that belief) may trip up some factions and be foolishness to others. Though it doesn’t always fit, it is our belief.

As you navigate the culture wars of the world around us, ask the Lord for wisdom. Consult the scriptures for wisdom about the affairs of the day. Study what the Christian church says about issues rather than consulting the talking heads of the media. As you do, you’ll find wisdom in the One who sits above the petty conflicts of people. You may also find that you still don’t fit in.