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
Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? They say that everyone has a twin but I could not verify the validity of that saying. But does everyone have a doppelganger? There is only so much genetic diversity to go around,” said Michael Sheehan, an assistant professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University.
A new baby is born and someone is bound to say, “Doesn’t he look just like his Uncle Elmer?” Or you go to a family reunion and you prepare yourself for, “You look just like your Aunt Mable!” My family tells me that my grandson, Brice, looks, and acts just like me. [I am not sure if that is a criticism or a compliment!]
I found an interesting verse of Scripture, Acts 4:13 that says, “Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”
I am not sure all that this verse implies but I do know that you become like the people you “hang” with. Proverbs 13:20″ He who walks with the wise will become wise…” So as Christ-follower, we must ask ourselves, “Does my behavior, attitude, and actions reflect that I have been with Jesus?
Surrender: to yield (something) to the possession or power of another
Control: to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command
Let’s be honest; most of us like to be in control. We stress out when things seem out of our control. Growing up with two brothers, control was a big issue, whether it was who would ride “shotgun” in the car or would we watch cartoons or American Bandstand. It feels nice to call the shots, drive the car, hold the mic, dominate the remote, and plan out a detour-free itinerary for our lives.
Control becomes a major issue when we refuse to surrender control of our lives to God. I’m like, “Hey God, I know you created the world, and exist outside of time, and are unquestionably wiser than anyone could imagine, but I just want to give you a heads up. You’re going the wrong way!”
Jesus prayed, “Your will be done,” right before His crucifixion; and our hearts, words, and lives should continue His prayer.
We cannot micromanage God, but we can trust Him. We can yield to His guidance, knowing He only leads us in the right direction.
We all get to choose. The options are confidence in our own partial understanding or surrender to the one who holds the map.
If you have raised children, they probably have done something that was foolish, destructive or even dangerous. And you ask them the proverbial question; “What were you thinking!?” The standard reply is usually, “I don’t know!” They are telling you the truth because they were not thinking! It came to their minds and without thinking or weighing the consequences, they did it.
I wonder if God asks the same question of us sometimes. Thoughts and impressions come and go through our minds and we never give them a second’s notice. But God’s Word says what we think, what we allow ourselves to dwell is very important. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to “... take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ.” Our thoughts should not control us; we must control our thoughts. Every sin and unChristlike behavior begin as a thought. In the Garden of Eden, Satan’s strategy was simply to place a thought in Eve’s mind that God was being unfair to them. Genesis 3:1 Eve should not have entertained that thought.
“Our lives move in the direction of our strongest thought,” [Craig Groeschel] You cannot control thoughts that come to your mind but you can reject from dwelling on them.
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.”
When I was a boy, my mother bought me a series of books. They we called “We Were There.” They were stories based on historical events as though you were personally part of the story. That probably contributed greatly to my love of history.
I have often wondered what it would have been like to personally experience the events recorded in Scripture. I think we have a tendency to view Biblical characters as totally foreign to modern man. But the fact remains that man has basically been the same through the ages. Solomon wrote, “Everything that happens has happened before; nothing is new, nothing under the sun.”
So figurately, the characters involved in the Nativity basically represents mankind of all ages. There were three groups of people, of the three groups, you will find you were there.
Group One: True Worshippers; the Magi. This group recognizes who Jesus Christ is and worships Him.
Group Two: The Indifferent; Chief Priests and teachers of the Law. These learned men knew all the Scriptures concerning the coming of the Messiah and yet they totally ignored the most important event of history. This group represents the majority of people today; they knew all about Jesus but they are indifferent. They are not against Him but they do not see how Jesus can make a difference in their lives.
Group Three: The Hostile; Herod. The Roman Senate had given Herod the title King of the Jews since he was part Jewish but when Herod heard there was another King; he sought to kill Him. You do not have to look far to find those who oppose Jesus: Radical Moslems, the Human Rights Campaign, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the list goes on. The Washington Times has identified 200 ‘openly bigoted’ anti-Christian groups.
So the question is which group represents you? If you were there, which group would you identify with?
I am always on the lookout for a good writing pen. (Though most of my writing is done on a keyboard.) And when I say a “good” pen, I am not necessarily speaking of an expensive one. When I am with my peers, I always look to see what pen they are using. You never know when a better pen comes along and I might need to change.
Several years my son bought a nice pen/pencil set as a Christmas gift. I really liked it but I put away in my desk, fearing to use it “every day”. I was afraid that I might lose them; which is a good possibility for me. Though it is safe while in my desk, I never get the enjoyment of using it. Often when a family member dies, the family will go through the belongings that were left behind. Many times they will find a gift that has never been opened or an heirloom that was handed down but the rest of the family was totally unaware of it.
1 Peter 4:10 is an interesting verse: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another; as good stewards of God’s varied grace..” Two obvious observations: Every Christ-follower has been given at least one gift and secondly the gift was given to us to use; not hide.
In the parable of the talents, the servant that was judged, was the one who hid his talent. He was not judged for doing bad things but for doing nothing. Fear is not an adequate excuse for an unopened gift. There is no tragedy like the tragedy of the unopened gift. Some will go to their grave and never unwrap their gift.