Was Your Mind Made Up?

stormWe were expecting life to be pretty simple.

High school graduation, maybe a college degree, maybe the family route instead, but all of it falling into place in our early twenties without all that many bumps.

And when heartache started calling instead, when our plans for life folded like a cheap suit and God was nowhere to be seen, some of us just shrugged and walked away.

“If God won’t be there for me, why should I be there for him?”

It wasn’t quite that blase. We still love him…kinda. We certainly believe. We know he exists. We get riled up on his behalf when some atheist or Democrat starts talking.

But we’re not really on fire for him otherwise.

I don’t mean this as a guilt trip. Please hear me out.

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Daylight Savings Messed Up My Unbelief Clock

daylightWith daylight savings coming up on us again in a few weeks, I thought I’d update this story from last spring.

This weekend, I served as a counselor at a youth retreat, out of cell service.

I woke up Sunday morning at 8:30am feeling most refreshed. I’d initially worried that I wouldn’t get enough winky-winky because I’d gone to bed late (12:30am), but nope…8 hours of sleep. It felt good and I was happy. (You know you’re coming up on middle age when these are the things you think about.)

Until a little while later, when I overheard that Daylight Savings Time had started that night. I hadn’t heard about it during the prior week, and didn’t see the usual Facebook memes the previous day because we were out of cell service.

So I’d actually slept only 7 hours.

The moment I realized this, I kid you not, I started feeling tired. Over one hour.

And it got me thinking: Our reality determines our thoughts and feelings to a great degree.

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Let Us Not Be Lazy. Pray Over the Hurricanes Again.

I don’t have anything terribly original to post today, but our broken world seems content to supply something in my place.

We must pray for the victims of Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut.

Does it seem obvious and re-“duh”-ndant to pray for this again? Perhaps.

But maybe that’s what it takes to keep us on our knees, to spare us our laziness – let’s just call it what it is – the hope that maybe just one visit to the prayer closet will do. I have that suggestion constantly whispering within my flesh, and I grieve at it and pray that God silences it.

Scripture commands that we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), where the Greek for “without ceasing” really means “constantly recurring”. Folks in the Old Testament modeled repeated prayers, like Moses’ 40 days of intercession or Elijah’s seven pray-and-looks. And if nothing else, God simply deserves our time in communion with him. Drive-by prayers will not do here.

We can’t know what God’s up to, and we must accept that sometimes the answer is no. But I still wonder whether we are falling short of the results we could be seeing in this world – “leaving points on the field”, as it were – by not praying as we should.

Even now, according to NWS forecast discussions (I highly recommend these narratives for their educational value, by the way), Florence has weakened a bit and the eye is breaking up. It reminds me of Katrina, which weakened significantly just before it hit New Orleans. Or Lane, which, although destructive, turned aside from Hawaii last month and spared the islands far worse.

Could it be that prayer had something to do with that? There is still going to be suffering. But I’ll take every MPH of reduced wind speed we can get.

Fellow blogger Megan Reedy is teaching in the Phillippines, which are currently the target of a 180 MPH(!) typhoon, Mangkhut. This is stronger than most Atlantic hurricanes and hitting a country with far fewer resources and infrastructure to protect its citizens. Please pray for that country and, if you don’t mind, specifically for the safety of Megan and her students.

If our prayers don’t inconvenience us today, we’re probably not doing it right.

God is Lord over Florence and Mangkhut. Let us pray as if we believe it.

35

cordAs occasions for celebration of recovery go, birthdays aren’t bad.

I used to have this subtle feeling that mentioning my birthday was akin to seeking attention. So I wouldn’t mention it. Then I realized that this was really just akin to worrying about what others would think of me.

So today, when a chance to glorify God through a birthday came up, I decided I would take it.

So there it is. I turn 35 on Thursday.

Is this, like, the part where where “no longer a kid” actually starts? Anyone? Bueller? Frye?

Anyway, it is the tendency of advancing increasing age to look forward and worry over the narrowing gap. Diminishing opportunities, declining vigor, regrets over goals not yet achieved, etc. I, in particular, am reminded today that my mission on earth – to lift up the name of Jesus to others – is not indefinite. I have a limited span to get this done. (Yes, I know, I’ve still got plenty of time. Though I did find out this summer that my knees are going to be requiring help from my leg muscles and will no longer hold out on their own.)

But this time I found myself looking to the past.

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Comfort when Justice is Withheld

justiceMost of us are well familiar with Isaiah 40:28-31, the “those who trust in the Lord will renew your strength” passage.

Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth.

He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding.

He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.

Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall,

But those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

But I had never, until this last Saturday, seen the context of the verse before it, verse 27, which adds a new dimension: that powerful God arrayed against injustice.

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3 Relieving Ways God Is Not Like You

Victory Succeed Freedom Motivation Winning Man

I’ve come to believe that what each of us considers “God” is actually, in large part, a projection of ourselves. We think of God as sharing our opinions of things – right down to our judgments of others; of pasts, presents, and futures; and of ourselves.

It can be disrupting to find out otherwise, to find out that God has a very different take on…well, practically everything.

The classic example is revelation of sin. “No, that is not okay, and it cannot continue,” says God in your life with the gentleness of one who no longer condemns (Romans 8:1), and we have to obey and adjust. This is not a chore; it is freedom. How wonderful that he is holier than we are!

Or God might nudge us onto a plan that is different from ours. Isaiah 55:8: ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” And we are reminded that God’s plans are higher and more trustworthy than ours. Again, a relief. How awful it would be if we were in charge of all the drawing boards.

These are the common ways in which we think of God as “not like us”.

However, I am constantly discovering even more.

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How Do You Want Your Singleness Remembered?

victoryLong-term singleness can be heartbreaking.

For all the church’s teaching on how singleness is a valid season and state of being (and it is), they seem to miss the point sometimes. Or a lot, depending on who you ask.

Some of us don’t do well on our own. We just don’t. The idea of vacations by ourselves seems utterly pointless; every year sees more friends marry off and leave you with less in common; and no matter how much good stuff we hear about self-improvement, no one person will ever be good at everything. Or even remotely competent, as my attempt at steak last week could testify. Such success is rare in my apartment.

For those who never grew up in strong homes in the first place, the search for love, for a witness to our lives, takes on a far greater urgency. Their “love tank” is empty. As the grandchildren of the sixties continue growing, you will see more of that.

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