I’m chilling with the posts the rest of the week. Let’s face it.
Most people are focused on the holiday and family, as they should be.
I heard something that startled me this past weekend. I didn’t really believe it, so I turned to Google to find out if it was true. Sure enough, it was right.
Older white men commit suicide at a higher rate than any other population group.
Does that surprise you?
Now, here’s the question that I think we all need to ask ourselves after hearing something like that. Why?
I guess you could attribute it to health. Men aren’t able to do what they used to be able to do and they wonder what the use is in going on. They don’t want to suffer or go downhill any further.
But could it be something else as well?
I’m convinced that we men are created for a purpose. We are created for quest. Much of that sense of purpose comes from our work. We want to believe that our lives consist of something much larger than ourselves. When we quit work, when we retire, too often that purpose is gone.
I don’t have scientific evidence to back this up, though I don’t doubt that it exists. However, I do see anecdotal evidence of this all around me. The men I know who retire too often don’t fill the void left from not having their careers with something else. They don’t have a true purpose left to pursue in their lives.
I have about 16 to 19 years left until I will be eligible to retire. I have decided that while I may not always work at my job, when it comes to retiring, I’m not for it. I’ve decided that I’m going to need a purpose, a reason to get out of the bed everyday when I’m older.
I think of Caleb when these thoughts come to mind. Caleb was 85 and wanted the hill country in the Promised Land so he could battle giants. He needed something bigger than himself. He needed to fulfill God’s purposes as he aged.
That’s a good model for the rest of us. We aren’t being put out to pasture when we retire. We have the opportunity to focus our attention in a different direction than we could have when we were working.
Are you going to retire? What are you going to do to have a purpose in your life when you “retire”?
The Bible tells those of us who follow Christ to renew our minds. It really does. Right there in Romans 12:2. Check it out if you don’t believe me.
I think most of us have read that verse, thought about those words, and heard sermons several times,. You would think that we would have it all figured out by now, but based on personal experience and personal observation I can answer that with one word.
The problem is that despite all we have heard and know, we act as though it is something that will just happen. It’s almost as though we think that renewing our minds will happen by osmosis. “I’ll read the verse and my mind will must be renewed.” We think that it takes no effort.
I don’t think that’s what Paul had in mind. I think he gives a couple of clues before he throws in the renewing our minds part.
In verse 1, Paul says that we should present our bodies as living sacrifices. That indicates that renewing our minds begins with dying to ourselves. Sounds like Paul is in line with Jesus, doesn’t it?
Then Paul goes on to say that we should not conform to the pattern of this world.
There we have some big thoughts on how to renew our minds. Die to self. Do not conform.
So, how can we specifically renew our minds?
How about not filling it with what the world does and filling it with what is Godly?
How about soaking up God’s word and memorizing it?
How about spending time in prayer daily and continuously?
Maybe we should go where the world doesn’t or only superficially does?
Let me give you and example?
A family in our church is leaving for Haiti on Christmas Day. They are going on a week-long mission trip. They are taking somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 pairs of shoes that people have donated to give to the people of Haiti. They will also be working at some other things while they are there.
Guess what? You don’t do that unless you’re dying to yourself. You aren’t conforming to the pattern of this world. You don’t do this unless your mind has been renewed. You have filled yourself up on God’s word and prayed about it. You’re going to Haiti when the world is more interested in something else.
Renewing your mind doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of work. It’s a daily process to pursue.
Is your mind being renewed?
I have been in church for all of my life. Except for a brief time when I was young, I don’t really recall a time that I wasn’t spending most Sundays in the church house.
One of the things that occurred weekly was the fellowship time. In conjunction, the preacher would often say to give someone the “right hand of fellowship.”
One thing I never heard said was to give someone the right fist of fellowship. At least not until the summer before my senior year of high school.
I’ve been in a few fights in my life. In fact, I was right up on the line of being in one just a few weeks ago. It had to do with someone cursing my son, I’m not sure I reacted well, but I did act like a lot of dads.
Some fights turned out okay. Others didn’t. One of the problems, though, was that I didn’t really care where I got in a fight. I challenged the school bus driver to come off the bus and fight one time. He was probably smarter than I was at the time and never left his seat.
One of the worst was when I about got in a fight with a deacon.
One summer our part of the country was going through a drought. The committee in charge of the grounds decided that the plants around the church needed to be watered. I was hired for the job and began my tasks in earnest.
It was a boring job and hot, so I hatched a plan to do my job and stay in the cool. My grandparent lived across the road from the church, so I hooked a sprinkler to the hose and set it to water the plants. I walked over to my grandparents and hid where it was cool. Occasionally I would go move the sprinkler and head back across the road.
One time when I went to move the sprinkler the water had been turned off. I looked at it with a bit of bewilderment. I scratched my head and turned the water back on. The next time I went to move the sprinkler it was off again. I turned it back on. This happened again, so this time I decided to stick with it and see what happened. That’s when things got bad.
The aforementioned deacon drove up and asked me what I was doing. I explained to him that I had been hired to water the plants. He told me to stop wasting the church’s money and water. I told him, “No thanks. I’ll keep doing what the church hired me to do.” He told me again to stop. I told him emphatically again that I was going to continue. This is where it got real bad.
The deacon told me that I needed a whipping since I wouldn’t listen to him. He knew me, of course, but he didn’t really know me. I wasn’t going to let him whip me.
He started to open the door to his truck and I started making my move. I wasn’t going to let him have the first shot at me. I was going to get him before he could get out of the truck. Just as I was about to throw the first punch, I heard my name. There stood my grandpa who had witnessed the whole thing. He advised the deacon to stay in his truck and told me to get over to the house.
I watched as he and deacon talked for a while, sometimes a bit heatedly. Finally, the deacon drove off.
I dreaded what was about to happen as my grandpa walked back over. He came into the house and looked at me for what seemed like an eternity. Then he said it. He asked me a question with a bit of a grin on his face.
“What were you going to do, give him the right fist of fellowship?”
Next .week will be a short work week in these parts. More than likely in your parts too. We will be celebrating a little old holiday called Thanksgiving.
For some, the highlight of the day will be the Cowboys or the Lions playing some football. Others will be watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade a few hours earlier. Some will kick their holiday movie watching that night with, perhaps, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
For most of us, we will gather with family and share a meal unlike any other we eat during the year. It will be almost sinful how much we eat next Thursday.
Quite honestly, we will be gluttonous next week. We will eat more than our fair share. We will eat to the point of having to change clothes to be comfortable.
Imagine, though. Just imagine.
Imagine if we were that hungry for God.
Consider if we feasted on God’s word the way we will on turkey.
What if we desired prayer like we will desire the pecan pies?
Think about if we meditated on God’s word like we will meditate on what we will eat.
What if we put feet to what the Bible tells us within its pages?
What if we were gluttons for God like we will truly be gluttons a week from today?
How could you be a glutton for God?
I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day. She had recently had a job interview. She was asked about confrontation. Her response was interesting. It went something like this.
Does confrontation have to be bad?
Most of the time we believe that confrontation is bad. Someone has done something. We must confront them with what they’ve done. Perhaps it’s a spouse or subordinate. Maybe it’s something that has to be handled in a Matthew 18 kind of way. It doesn’t matter.
Confrontation is uncomfortable. It isn’t pleasant. It doesn’t feel good. None of us like it.
What are the results of confrontation?
The attitude of a poor performer may improve resulting in better performance and the betterment of the team.
A spouse may see their blind spot and a marriage may improve.
A member of the Church sees their sin and the Body is healed.
A sinner is confronted with their need for a Savior and the trajectory of their life is changed eternally.
So, we are back to our original question. Or at least the other side of the coin.
Can confrontation be good?
I was listening to the Freakonomics Radio podcast the other day. It’s always an interesting listen, even when they discuss subjects and positions I don’t agree with.
The latest episode was about having babies, creating life. Evidently we’re projected to peak in work population around the year 2050, when we will begin coming back in the opposite direction.
One of the interesting ideas was that families that lost children in the terrible tsunami a few years ago were more likely to have children than those who did not.
Evidently, we’re made to create.
Many of you who read this blog are “creatives”, people who are compelled to create art of some sort. It may be through writing or some other endeavor. Many of love to sit down with nothing and finish with something.
Here’s the rub, though.
You are a creative. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, painter or not.
My wife, Jan, is creative in many ways. She is good at organization, neatness and babies. She almost a baby whispers. I’m good at none of these things.
Others may be creative in gardening, woodworking or evangelism. You name it, and someone is creative. We all are in one way or another.
This shouldn’t surprise us.
We were created by a creative. Or should I say THE Creative.
We were made in His image. We carry a spark of that original fire within us. We should be creative in the way that He has made us creative.
So, go out. Today. Be creative. Glorify God through all of your creative means.