Café Chat Feb 28th

For today’s topic, we have been invited to contemplate a question that calls for some introspection:

My biggest struggle/stronghold is _____________.

After identifying the “thing” that plagues us, that which is our greatest personal demon, we are challenged to envision life free of this struggle:

How would my life look if I no longer struggled with _______? What if I was completely free from ______ through Christ’s power…(Put your struggle/stronghold in the blank) *Try to give some very specific ways your life would be different if you no longer struggled with your above named stronghold*

The answer has not come easily. At first I thought it’s my critical nature, or my tendency to over analyze things. But after much internalizing I’ve decided that’s part of what God’s actively using in me as I study scripture and I’m embracing that part of my nature – I don’t desire to be free from it. Maybe it’s my tendency to “beat myself up” for my shortcomings…but I’m doing much better there, so I decided that’s not really the demon I am struggling with.

I finally concluded that my struggles are with a variety of little demons all belonging to my struggle with impatience. The little demons are intolerance, judgment, self-righteousness and the desire for justice based on my convictions of right and wrong. My impatience is like that of Rebekah. While she was still pregnant God told her she was going to have twins, and “the older will serve the younger.” Later she conspired to fool her husband Isaac to ensure his blessing went to her favorite, the younger son. Did God really need her help in fulfilling His will? Clearly not. Rebekah was impatient.

In today’s search for an answer, I was touched by this command from Psalm 37: “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” And these Proverbs offer great guidance:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11)
“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” (Proverbs 25:15)

In Galatians we are told “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

As Paul and Timothy prayed for the Colossians, that we may have a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience. We are called to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Like Timothy, I am an example of Christ’s infinite patience. Through Christ I aspire to preach the Word. I desire to correct, rebuke and encourage others—with great patience and careful instruction.

I envision my life without wasting energy fretting about things I can’t control, poisoning the air with vented emotions that do nothing to bring us closer to His kingdom. In peace and serenity I would focus on the positive, offering gentle words of wisdom. Given insight into God’s plans, I picture myself enjoying the journey rather than trying to speed things along.

Lord, as you are patient with me, let me be patient with others–not wanting anyone to perish but for all to come to you. Help me to reflect the light of your saving grace, to be a guidepost for others.

Amen.

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Friday’s Freebie

I’m glad to be home.

Thirst for Wisdom

Listen as Wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice! Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you. Everything I say is right, for I speak the truth and detest every kind of deception. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. (Proverbs 8:1,6-11)

There are so many things that tempt us away from wise choices. The world today absolves us of bad decisions, offering government bailouts or corporate forgiveness. The implication is that it is okay to be foolish. I know from experience that the public schools will gladly look the other way or whitewash unacceptable behavior of students and teachers. This is not loving forgiveness but rather a practice destined to lead people to be unprepared for harsher consequences. Personal wisdom is often gained through trial and error.

I am wiser for the mistakes I have made – certainly more so if I have paid some consequence for those mistakes. It saddens me to see parents trying to protect their children from consequences. We made that mistake and have witnessed the harm we’ve done in the long run.

I recently watched Stranger than Fiction. There is a scene (spoiler coming so skip to next paragraph if you don’t want glimpse of ending) in which a young boy rides his bicycle into the street directly in front of a bus. Our hero leaps to save him, pushing the boy out of the way but sacrificing himself with the effort. There is a glimpse of the boy be reassured that he hadn’t done anything wrong. Maybe I’m hard-hearted but I think riding your bicycle into traffic, in front of an oncoming bus no less, is “doing something wrong.”

The following morning I was enjoying breakfast in a restaurant. I was bemused by a child (maybe 3 years old) running relatively unsupervised around the buffet area. Two women, presumably mother and aunt, took turns corralling back to their seating area. The child was wildly entertained by the game. All of this might be innocuous enough, but as part of the sport the child was playing with the spoons and bowls that were kept at about his eye-level. After a while the waitstaff gave up on putting the spoons and bowls back in order. I am fairly confident that after the family left things were “put right” but probably not washed. Pity the diners who came for lunch and unwittingly had the soup.

I remember all too well the painful balance of letting my young ‘uns entertain themselves while maintain a modicum of control. The clear amusement demonstrated by the two women, their indulgence of the game, their indifference to the work created for the waitstaff all build the message for the young “Do whatever you want. You’re so cute!” At some point does that message change? Or does this boy grow into a man who has entitlement issues?

Maybe I’ve had too much time on my hands this week. For myself, I will continue my search for wisdom and I will continue my effort to share that which I have gained. Maybe shouting “Listen to me! I have important things to tell you!”

Peace,

Wednesday Wants

My want for today is easy. I want to be home, safe and sound, spooning with hubby and enjoying a good night’s sleep. In between here and there stands a long journey that I pray is safe and uneventful.

Blessings,

Tips for Better Living

Don’t look for someone to blame.

When things don’t go according to our own plans, we often look for someone or something to blame. Unfortunately, finding fault in others is counter to our goal of imitating Christ’s humility.

If you want to remain blameless yourself, you should avoid the practice of blaming others.

To blame others detracts from our faith in God. If we accept the premise that there is not one of us on earth today who can be considered flawless, then we can assume that we are all susceptible to mistakes. Through Jesus, our Savior, although we are flawed we are found to be without fault. Since God created us, we are indeed perfect with all of our imperfections. So are the other members of His kingdom.

If we allow that we are members of God’s kingdom and we allow that God is the master planner, we should accept that God has a plan and a purpose for each of us as individuals. No individual has greater authority than God. To blame an individual for something, we are making an accusation that presumes they have more control over our lives than God does. And I don’t believe that is so.

Tolerance of our differences, respect for each other, love and support, lifting one another up – that’s how we share our lives together as blameless members of the same extended family.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

Amen

Monday Blueprint Madness

Sometimes good intentions are not enough. Careful planning, occasional course corrections, updated communications….all are required to successfully complete a project.
How long did these folks keep “hoping for the best” as they closed in on “completion?” I imagine them arguing and looking for someone to blame.

Not in Kansas anymore

I’m staying in the building on the right. That’s a commuter train on the elevated track. The 2 buildings are sitting on one-fourth of a traffic circle.

You might notice the sign on the right side of the building. That sign is lit up in neon at night. Neon that changes colors like a Christmas tree. Red. Blue. Orange. Pink. Green.

My room is on the 10th floor, right around the “C” at the top of the sign. The curtain doesn’t quite block the light so during the night my room glows with the changing colors.

There are a lot of buses, cars, skooters, pedestrians. I’ve enjoyed my forays out and about. It’s always interesting to get to know a new city (or in this case a new part of a city I’ve been to before).

This is not a part of town that caters to non-mandarin speaking types. Which is fine. I’m studying the written language and learning new words. However, I don’t know enough to order dinner without supervision from one of my local friends.

Now if I could figure out how to make this trip without my stomach betraying me. Tonight I’m dining on imported Pringles. {sigh}