Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Labor and Strive

As I come off of a busy season and anticipate another one, my heart cries What do I do? Why do I do what I do? Why do I labor and strive? 

As he always does so faithfully, the Lord answered my questions from four passages in his Word: Colossians 1:28-29, I Timothy 4:6-16, Hebrew 12:1-3 and Philippians 4:13-14.

First, the Lord laid out my calling. My job is to tell others about Christ, to warn and teach and to not neglect my giftIt is so easy to get sidetracked with programs and wearisome tasks. But with the Lord, it is back to the basics: Teach Christ. Use my gifts.

Next, God showed me how I am to fulfill my calling. I must train myself to be godly, set an example, be diligent, watch my life and doctrine and persevere. I need to forget what is holding me back and strain toward what is ahead. I must throw off everything that hinders this, fix my eyes on Jesus, consider him and run the race marked out for me. This isn't easy. These verbs imply hard work, self-discipline and stick-to-it-ive-ness. I cannot do this on my own. That's why Colossians 1:29 instructs me to depend on Christ's mighty power that works within me.

Finally, I was reminded of my goal, my prize. I want to present my "students" to God fully mature in Christ, to save them and myself, and to not grow weary and lose heart. Keeping the goal in mind is vital. It will give me the energy to keep laboring and striving. 

I fix my eyes on you, Lord. Fill me with your power and help me run this race, this next sprint.

So I tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given me. I want to present them to God, fully mature in Christ. That's why I labor and strive, depending on Christ's mighty power that works in me. Colossians 1:28-29.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Disappointment in Leaders

After reading Mark 15:25-32, I noted that as Jesus hung on the cross, he was mocked and insulted by just about everyone. First it was those who passed by, then the chief priests and teachers of the law, and finally, those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. I got to pondering why so many would attack him. 

The words of the mockers give some clue to their motive.

"You who were going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself" "He saved others, but he can't save himself."

It seems to me that these mockers were disappointed with Jesus. He had not behaved as they had desired. He had not proved his power as they had anticipated. The one they had pinned so many high hopes on for deliverance and independence was dying on a cross. 

Their disappointment quickly turned to sarcasm and mockery. Where were the grand words now? Where were the miracles and supernatural deeds? What a joke! He couldn't even save himself, much less the nation.

Thing brings me to the principle I need to apply to myself. When I am disappointed in a leader, when they don't act as I believe they should, when they don't show the appropriate vision or initiative or faith, I begin to get sarcastic. Yes, I even mock them. Perhaps not publicly or to their face, but in my heart, I throw insults.

What a joke! Why did I even think they could get the job done? They can't even lead themselves, much less the church. They sounded so pious, their plans looked good on paper, but they can't make it happen. They haven't got it in them. What's the use?

Yes, I am guilty of mockery. So what is the remedy? Looking back to the scene at the cross, I see that had those mockers realized who Jesus truly was and been able to see the big picture, they would not have felt so disappointed. True faith and understanding in the Savior's plans is the antidote to disappointment.

My faith is misplaced. My faith should be in my Savior, not in his appointed leaders. His big picture will prevail despite and in spite of those trying to carry it out, including me.

Who are you disappointed in today? What leader has let you down? Have you begun to mock him or her in your heart? 

Lord, please don't allow us to turn our disappointment into sarcasm and insults.  Help us instead to trust you and your big plans.

2013 Resolution

On this the 10th day of the new year, 2013, I am getting to my resolution... start a blog. 

I have resisted a blog. Not out of false humility (if anything, pride is my nemesis) but rather as a reaction against social media that assumes everyone wants to hear what I have to say. Fear has also held me back. I'm not sure I want everyone to read (and judge!) my feeble and simple thoughts. I don't really want a string of comments telling me I'm off my rocker or misquoting God's Word.

I just want to ponder, to muse, to record what God is showing me through his world, his people and his Word. And so I begin. I will tentatively put myself "out there". I will use this method available to me to give it a try, to exercise a budding gift, to see where this journey takes me.