It is such a DIY world these days. I, for one am quite grateful for the access we have to unlimited how-to information. I can’t imagine going through this season of life (newly-wed, new homeowner, etc.) without a manual on … Continue reading
Grandmother smelled of sugar lemon drops, Juicy Fruit gum, and the mustiness that follows a morning mass filled with incense and random splashes of holy water. She was round, soft, and good for planting several sloppy kisses on me a … Continue reading
Sometimes, when I am going through a particularly rough time, I find myself less and less committed to spiritual disciplines. My quiet times diminish, my prayer life becomes rushed and shallow, and I fill free time with mindless distractions, instead … Continue reading
“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” Philippians 4:11b (NIV)
Have you ever noticed how overextending yourself tends to bring unwanted pressure into your life? I think we tend to busy ourselves in order to gain more, find acceptance among peers, land a better position, and gain riches of all kinds. Perhaps we live under the illusion that having such riches is what makes a person complete, content, and deliriously happy. Yet, when we discover that’s not the case, we’re left feeling empty and discontent.
Recently God’s been showing me that when I constantly want more than He has given me, it reflects a heart that is discontent. What I’m saying to God is, “I’m not satisfied with what You have provided for me. I want more.” In wanting more, I place undo pressure on myself in an attempt to get what God hasn’t provided. Naturally, anxiety is the result when I focus on things other than God and His will for my life.
The pressure to have more and do more can lead us down paths we never intended. In our attempt to fill the vacuum of our empty souls, we discover that external luxury is only a cheap substitution for spiritual wholeness. As our key verse points out, Paul knew the secret of finding contentment. “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Take note that Paul wrote these words in a high stress situation as he sat in jail awaiting a verdict for a crime he didn’t commit. I don’t know if I could find contentment if I were in his sandals. I would probably strum my wooden cage with a rock singing pitifully, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.” Finding contentment doesn’t mean we have to like our current situation, but it may require an appreciation for it. Let me explain. Continue reading
Buzzing in and out of stores today with my beautiful mother, reminded me of one haunting thing: the buying of stuff is addicting and at the very least dangerous. As a friend said the other day, “shopping begets shopping.” Scripture says it another way in Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. I think there’s an “elementary principle” at play when it comes to materialism. The more you give in to want the more you want. Perhaps that is why the Psalmist said, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The Lord is my Shepherd…I have all I need. The Lord is my Shepherd...He gives all I need. The Lord is my Shepherd…The Lord is precisely what I want.
A singular desire for Jesus is hard to cultivate in a culture bent on telling you what you “need.” It couches it in terms of what you “need” lest you realize that greed is getting a grip and you’re about to slip straight into sin’s stronghold. I felt that pull today. I got one thing, ah, but it wasn’t enough. My eyes saw something else. My heart nearly choked to have it. I well imagine, in America, we all know what that feels like. I had to look at that temptation and propensity to sin and tell myself the truth. Continue reading
It began as an attitude of discontentment, rooted in pride that led to a season of, as the Bible would call it, grumbling. In a phenomenon common only to human nature, grumblers attract other grumblers like bees to an open soda can! And it’s amazing how seemingly sweet it all tastes! Even seasoned believers fall prey to the temptations that are common to man.
While I considered myself not at risk for overt acts of sin, my pride of the heart is what put me at odds with the Spirit of Christ in me. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall”, 1 Corinthians 10:12. The scripture also says in James 1:14-16,”But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived my beloved brethren.” Even so I was deceived.
Two years and a heavy Hand wielding a sharp pair of pruning shears later, I say from a much humbler heart, and with praise and thanksgiving, that His cut is really the kindest cut. God warns with His wrath and woos with His mercy. The two worked in tandem to bring me back to fellowship in His presence and fruitfulness in His power!