why we do what we do

I find it not encouraging (rather than discouraging, which I try to avoid) when people who don’t know you judge you. In my case the idea that I’m promoting myself and giving my thoughts which I’m not authorized (like by any church, religious or educational institution) nor asked to do. This makes it difficult for me to take them seriously since they don’t know me at all and what I’m about.

There are too many places to go on this one, and not enough time for anyone. We could cite the priesthood of believers for one thing. That the Spirit is on us all in Jesus, and gives each one of us something special from God to do, as simple as that might be. I’m not sure why it is, but I’ve rarely felt any encouragement to carry on and keep doing what I’m doing, but at some key junctures of doubt I asked people I respect and they encouraged me to continue on.

Sometimes I feel like God has let me down, that God never believed in me. Of course I don’t actually believe in myself at all, except for the grace God puts in me in that original creation of his through the new creation in Christ. I know better, but just the same I can ask that hard question when I see the life of loved ones falling apart, or precariously on a precipice. Not to mention my own struggles, and simply survival mode I often seem to find myself in.

Of course we do what we do because of the grace of God in Jesus, and therefore in response to that great never ending, always present love of God in Jesus. And hopefully by the Spirit, we do it out of love. Even if much of what we do in the course of a day is done to simply fulfill the immediate task in front of us, while we do try to maintain some kind of interactivity with God and others.

My plea is for people to not judge others, and not think this or that about them, but instead get to know them. And think the best of others, not the worst, not because people are so great, because we’re all flawed for sure, and broken. None of us have it all together. But God is faithful. And God is actually exalted in his servants through Jesus, something God chooses to do. Which is why I can celebrate others (Psalm 16:3) even while knowing that none of us are any better than the other, that we’re all completely dependent on God’s grace and gift to us in Jesus.

So why do I do what I do, like write this blog, etc.? I don’t completely know. There’s plenty I suppose to say on that. But hopefully in the end it’s all for Christ and the gospel to the glory and praise of God. That is what I aspire to, and by God’s grace want to be passionate about. As together with others I want to carry on in the race marked out for us in and through Jesus.

when life doesn’t seem right

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

Habakkuk 1:2-4

If you’ve lived long enough, and for too many it’s too soon, you will know that something is not only not quite right, but too often just plain downright and perhaps even blatantly wrong. Habakkuk saw this, even an insight from the Lord which he received as a prophecy. He wrestled through, and received God’s response, and then worshiped with a confession of faith, in the end.

What do we do when we see injustice, and experience wrong ourselves? Too often we curse the darkness, or we complain and grumble to others. We don’t know if Habakkuk did any of that. We do know from the book, that he took his concern to the Lord, and that the Lord responded. An important key to the book is that God answered. That made all the difference in the world.

It’s not that God’s reply in its content is always welcomed, or easily understood, in fact it might provoke more questions, which was the case with Habakkuk. But he did not leave what amounted to a kind of conversation. And in the end, he had not only God’s answer, but a faith that would see God and worship him, as well as enable Habakkuk to glorify God in the midst of difficulty. Rather than disillusionment and despair, there was a faith and worship.

Hopefully the Lord can help me to that, today.

A great book to read on a Saturday, and prayerfully ponder.

 

what moves us?

Emotions are a part of life, along with reason, so that there’s a time for a number of activities which need to be done, or at least which we humans do, many legitimate, and some possibly not (Ecclesiastes 3). I am moved by a good number of factors, but one of the most basic and I might add, essential ones, is simply to make a living for my family which involves meeting the responsibilities of my work. And then there’s necessary items I need (or ought) to do around the house. As well other basic things we all regularly do for good reason.

But what underlies all of life at the core of our being? What do we essentially live for, and if need be, above all else, would die for?

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

We know what moved the Apostle Paul who said elsewhere that for him to live was Christ (Philippians 1). What motivates us above and beyond everything else, and actually impacts what we do on lesser levels to some extent, if nothing else except that we are a different person in doing those things, is Jesus and the gospel, and the life and will of God found in him.

Sometimes I’m distracted and detoured by lesser things, which may give rise in me to something lesser, essentially in what can become something of an idol in the heart, something which displaces God and God’s will for us in Jesus. But God in his love convicts and brings me back to my senses in and through Jesus, so that I want to continue on and grow in what matters above all else. And not only puts everything else in place, but helps us glorify God in whatever we’re about.

At times we’ll be moved by lesser things, sometimes for good reason. But those are not where we’re to be anchored and live. We live for God’s will for us in Jesus, for the gospel. Our hearts and lives compelled by nothing less than the love of God in Jesus our Lord.

 

enjoying life to the full

There is room for simply enjoying life, for example, enjoying a trip to a place one has always wanted to see (like a national park) or visit (like a nation). Recently Deb and I had a wonderful getaway for our 30th anniversary to Ludington, Michigan, most noteworthy up there, the sand dunes. Though the bed and breakfast was great, as well as the eating places. For our 25th we were at Mackinac Island for nearly three days and two nights, just a wonderful time. We need times like that.

As followers of Jesus, we do need to take some time and rest, even get away, just as he tried to do with his disciples. Of course that was a unique time, and people soon found him, and the crowds kept pressing in. So it was evidently hard for them to get away, even though that was indeed Jesus’ intent. It won’t be so hard for us to do so, for sure.

Paul tells us that while we can enjoy the good things of life, we are to live in this time as if those things  are temporary, living in view of the eternal, what will last:

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

1 Corinthians 7

That is not an easy passage to interpret (or that chapter, for that matter). Though the main points are probably clear enough. The point here is that we’re to live with a sense of urgency and focus which is not about living it up in this life. We are to live as though this life is passing and will not remain, because that is indeed the case.

That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy good things of this life, of creation. But it does mean that we in Jesus actually can give up some of those good things. And for those of us who don’t, we need to live with what is eternal, what will last, as the priority of our lives.

But that can mean not only sacrifice within our enjoyment of the good things, but also a purpose which can extend to using those good things in a missional sense. We have to remember: all that is good is a gift and we are stewards of such gifts. So that we can enjoy our marriages, or a pastime (for many, it is sports), or something special (like some special coffee or brew) to the glory of God. Perhaps in simply giving thanks and praise to the God from whom all blessings flow. Or in creative, missional ways, being able to share something of that enjoyment and of our lives with others, so that ultimately they might see and find the love of God in Jesus for themselves.

And of course the life to the full that we do enjoy is the life in God through Jesus by the Spirit, the life that Jesus came to give. To be poured out into our lives so that it can overflow and spill out onto the lives of others. That they too may find the life that is truly life.