Yesterday, I was shopping at Lowes Home Improvement store [One of my favorite stores.] I dutifully had my list of items I needed to purchase but when I came across the clearance rack, I found my favorite plant, Lantana. Clearance price? $1.00! So, I quickly took advantage of my good fortune!
While loading my items in my car, I discovered I had seven plants but had only paid for six. I had miscounted. [I never was good at Math.] So, I what do I do? After all, it was just a mistake; I was not attempting to steal anything and Lowes wouldn’t go bankrupt if I didn’t return it. I started to rationalize:
- It was a long walk back to the store and I was tired.
- I could return it later the next time at the store.
- It was only a dollar item! No big deal!
- People deliberately shoplift; so Lowes expects to lose a certain amount of product.
All those reasons made sense to me but the reality was still the same. I had something in my possession that did not belong to me and my conscious wouldn’t let me keep it. When I returned the plant and explained my the situation; the Lowes associate looked like they had just seen a green, one-eyed Martian!
I share this story, not to post on my own piety but to show us that honesty and integrity have become as extinct as the Do-Do bird. I want to be a person of integrity and I hope this is your goal.
Disclaimer: This story is what I felt that God required of me; you may have responded differently and I do not judge you. Allow the peace of God rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:15
When I was learning to drive, my father thought everyone should first learn to drive a car with a manual transmission. For those not familiar with that term, this refers to cars that require you to change gears manually. The process involves learning how to synchronize the gas pedal, the clutch pedal, and the gearshift. The key is to ‘smoothly’ engage the clutch.
My father and older brother took me driving in the country one Sunday afternoon (less traffic) to practice learning the mystery of the manual transmission. I came to a stop sign that had a sharp left turn UP HILL. Now the trick is to engage the clutch without letting the car roll backward. My first unsuccessful attempt was best described as a hopping rabbit. My “instructors” roared with laughter!
For the Christ-follower, our lives must “fully engaged” to live our lives pleasing to Him. Romans 12:11 “Do not be lazy but work hard. Serve the Lord with all your heart.”
The plague of Christianity is half-heartedness, resembles Christianity but there is no power, no love, no peace. We are to serve the Lord with all [fully engaged] our hearts. 2 Timothy 3:5 says, “They will go on pretending to be devoted to God, but they will refuse to let that “devotion” change the way they live. Stay away from these people!”
We are beginning a new year, I would encourage you to be fully engaged in your service to the Lord this year.
I understand that change is inevitable (Sigh) and progress is necessary but it seems to me that changes are happening at a phenomenal speed. Some changes are good. Medical technology is becoming so advanced it is a challenge for doctors to keep pace. Our automobiles have technology that was only dreamed about 20-25 years ago. My granddaughter was riding in my Chevrolet El Camino (If you don’t know what that is, ask your grandfather) and she could not figure out how to lower her window because she never saw a car that you had to “manually” lower it.
But there are some changes that do disturb me. My greatest concern is we are not properly preparing our children for adulthood. That became glaringly true during our current Presidental election. Some people were greatly disappointed, devasted, and downright angry, so they protested, rioted, and we “helped” them cope by creating ‘cry rooms.’
When I heard that, I instantly remembered Tom Hanks saying in the movie, A League of Their Own, “There isn’t any crying in baseball!” He was saying to his all woman team when things do not go well, (as the kids say) suck it up and go on.
Schools are failing our children by not allowing them to compete in sports. To keep children from being damaged emotionally, they give everyone a trophy! There are no winners! But how does that work in the adult world when they are disappointed and did not get the job they applied for? Or someone gets the promotion. Or the candidate they voted for did not win!
The reality is life is filled with disappointments. “Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it. 2 Timothy 3:12 MSG We cannot blame our children for reacting the way they do because we have not prepared them for the future.
Someone said; “The surest way to make life hard for your children is to make it soft for them.”
One of the greatest aspects of Christianity is prayer. If you have been a Christ-follower for any amount of time, you know how important it is to have a consistent prayer life. True prayer can sometimes be a challenge. That is why it is called a Christian “discipline.”
I firmly agree that every Christ-follower needs to have a time set apart for personal prayer. But I also believe that prayer needs to be a natural part of our daily lives. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “pray continually” but how is that done?
Bill Hybels, author of Too Busy Not to Pray, suggests a way make prayer a part of our daily routine. For example, when you shower, allow it be a “trigger” to pray for cleansing and purity in your life. If you take medication on a regular basis, allow that to be a “trigger” to pray for good health and healing for you and others. Don’t just read or listen to the news, allow it to become your prayer list. Pray for people that are hurting and facing tragedy. When you see an automobile accident or an ambulance rushing to help a needy person, pray for those involved. When you get a glass of pure, clean water, pray for those who do not have access to clean water.
The possibilities are only limited by your creativity. Start today, making your own prayer “triggers.”
“John Wayne.” Just the mention of his name brings a mental image of a man’s man. He is the epitome of the rugged individual; courageous, strong, and never asking for help from anyone, no matter the odds. The concept of the ‘stand alone’ rugged individual is highly regarded in today’s culture.
To ask for help is often seen as a sign of weakness or a lack of self-confidence. I do not remember the “Duke” (or Dirty Harry) ever asking for help from anyone! That makes for a great movie but in reality, we DO need each other.
The Bible refers to Christ-followers as the Body. The Body (both physically and spiritually) is made up of many members which are dependent on each other. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Sharing the load or asking someone for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of good judgment.
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (ECCLESIASTES 4:10)
We have approximately 9,000 taste buds in our mouths, each with ten to fifteen receptacles that send messages to the brain saying Yuck or Yum. John Harrison, the official taste tester for a major ice cream company, has developed such a sensitive tongue that his taste buds are insured for one million dollars! (I would like his job!)
All of us need a sensitive tongue, which the Bible compares honey and apples. “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body.” Proverbs 16:24. And Proverbs 25:11 adds, “Words spoken at the right time are like gold apples in a silver setting.”
We need to ask God to give us a sensitivity of speech to speak timely words, sensitive to each situation. “…a time to keep silent and a time to speak,…” Ecclesiastes 3:7 God-honoring speech comes only from a heart that honors God.
We have all had an itch that we cannot scratch. It is usually located somewhere on your back that your arm is too short to reach. So, you reach into your desk for a ruler but you cannot get enough pressure. Next, you get up, walk from your desk and rub your back against the door frame. No good! After several other attempts, you give up and try just to ignore the itch you cannot scratch.
Maybe no one was better at scratching than Solomon. The book of Ecclesiastes is devoted to his search for The Next Thing. He had wealth, power and ability. The phrase “I devoted myself to…” keeps coming up in his book.
- Solomon threw lavish parties that we today cannot comprehend the cost
- He surrounded himself with gardens, parks, and houses
- He constructed a palace that took 150,000 workers thirteen years to build.
- He accumulated 1,000 wives and concubines
- He indulged in every appetite. “I denied my self nothing my eyes desired.”
You can walk down the same road but you find, as Solomon did, nothing brought lasting soul satisfaction. We are called to contentment. Contentment does not come when we acquire enough. It is a product of the way we think. The goal of advertising is to get you to think how dissatisfied you are with your current it.
A spiritual leader went to spend a few days in a monastery to reflect. The monk who showed him to his simple cell said, “If you need anything let us know and we’ll teach you how to live without it.”
“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance with increase. This also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10