I wake up every morning at just about the same time. I begin to wake up and lie there for a what seems like forever. I finally get up and look at my phone to see what time it is. I am out of bed, heading to the family room around 4:45.
It rarely makes any difference what time I go to bed. Every day plays out about the same. Sometimes there’s some variety. As I write this, last night I fell asleep early on the couch. I went to bed and woke up at 3:00 a.m.
When this really bugs me the most is on the days I have off. Whether it’s the weekend or a holiday, it doesn’t make much difference. I might sleep an extra hour, but I never sleep late.
Sometimes I wonder what kind of toll this takes on me. There are physical consequences to not getting enough sleep. There is an emotional toll that a lack of sleep takes on you. But there’s more. Much more.
There has to be spiritual issues to not getting proper rest too.
I’m not sure that I can prove that, but I think Elijah is good example of it.
After he had a big showdown with Baal’s prophets, Elijah had to flee. By the time he stopped, he seemed to be exhausted. He laid down and slept until an angel woke him up. Then he woke up and had a meal.
It seems that he was stressed out and what he needed most of all was a good night’s sleep.
What gave him the most spiritual benefit was rest.
I imagine that this is often what we need most as well. When we feel like we’re at the end of our rope, when we feel like we’re losing our religion, we might just need a good nap. Preferably under a shade tree. Follow that up with a nice big sandwich and a cold drink and we might be re-energized and ready to meet with the Lord.
There is a spiritual benefit of rest that we could all use.
Have you ever needed the spiritual benefit of rest?
I listened to a podcast not too long ago. It was People I Almost Know by my friend, Michelle Moran, which I had the privilege of appearing on back last fall.
She interviewed J.R. Forasteros. Besides his expertise on pop culture, he is also well-known for his tattoos. It was fascinating to hear them discuss all of the tattoos he has accumulated over the years.
To be honest, I’m still not entirely comfortable with lots of tattoos. I know it has to do with how I was raised and my age and stuff. I don’t think it’s immoral or anything. I think it comes down to the fact that deep within my mind I’m thinking, “It’s just not normal.” I quickly add the following thought”
Who wants to be normal anyway?
By rule, we who follow Christ should automatically be disqualified from the ranks of the normal. At least, that is, if the world is considered normal.
It doesn’t have to be tattoos like J.R.
In fact, that is probably just normal for him. What makes him to be not normal is something that lives within him. Or rather someone.
Think about that for a minute. Christ lives within us, inspiring us to live lifestyles that cannot be considered normal to the world.
Look at the life that Jesus Himself lived. He wasn’t considered normal by the establishment. He was hanging with the outcasts, the freaks, the “tattooed.”
Let’s face it. According to the Pharisees and the Sadducees, Jesus was hanging out with the freaks.
The world, more and more, thinks we are freaks.
Let’s not disappoint them.
I don’t mean that all of us need to get tattoos. I think J.R. is able to reach some people who many of us can’t.
But so can you and I.
How do we do that?
One way is what I said in a tweet back in November.
It seems too many of us who claim Christ let the world affect our beliefs and actions, rather than the other way around.
That has nothing to do with tattoos. It has everything to do with living out the faith we claim to follow.
Let’s get busy living as Christ has called us to. Let’s get busy not being normal.
Are you normal?
A few months ago, someone who has worked for my employer for close to two decades quit. This person had had enough. They didn’t think that they could work there any longer and live the faith they claim. While I cannot relate to where this person was, I can respect the decision.
Another friend of mine is on staff at a church. This person works a regular job, as well as serve the church. Between church and family, this person spends few nights at home. On top of that, this person was encouraged to add additional nights away so as to be viewed favorably by those in the church. This encouragement came from the pastor.
That shouldn’t surprise us. Most pastors I know feel pressured to be at every event the church has. If the doors of the church open, the good folks of the church almost expect the pastor to open the doors and be there. It has been a learned behavior that pastors seem to pass along to those that follow them. As an aside, I’m glad that my pastor feels no such pressure.
A question that we need to ask ourselves is if we are the problem? Have we contributed to this problem because we consider the pastor a hired gun to be proxies for our ministry. Someone needs a visit? The pastor will be there. You’re bored? Go visit the pastor in his office. That’s where he should be all day, every day anyway.
Is this gospel thinking?
I think not.
The Gospel frees us from the relentless pursuit of having to prove ourselves and secure our identity with work. — Tim Keller
We gain liberty through the Gospel. It frees us from sin, but from much more as well.
It frees us from having to tie our identity to our jobs.
It frees us form having to work ourselves to death for our churches.
It frees us from having to prove ourselves to everyone and everybody.
We have nothing left to prove.
Have you ever had your identity wrapped up in your job or church?
Recently I was talking to a friend of mine. This person has some ties to Christian performing. We talked about this for a while and, while I was astonished, I was saddened by what I heard.
I heard tales of how the people performing didn’t really live any sort of lifestyle for Christ. Basically the performers treat their jobs as being entertainers for Christians. They know the lingo, how to talk the talk and walk the walk in public.
One night some folks I know went to see one of the performers we discussed. Following our conversation, I had some serious misgivings about whether I should say anything to them or not. Evidently it is well-known in the Christian industry that this person leads a lifestyle that would have curled the hair of my friends. I held off due to the fact that I couldn’t really verify it with firsthand information.
As I thought about it for a while, there was one thing that bothered me more than anything. We have made an industry of Christianity.
I can go to a certain store and buy my Christian books, magazines and music. I can also get Christian art and calendars. Plus, lest I forget, there is also my Christian movies and exercise videos.
Just up the street I can go buy my Christian jeans and shoes and who knows what. I don’t go there because my jeans come from San Francisco.
I hate the fact that we have, in some ways, become just another alternative market. Further evidence? We have our own t-shirts and breath mints that witness for us.
Each year, we who follow Christ are becoming the minority in this nation. We’re going to have start taking the attitude of being missionaries. Otherwise, other countries are going to begin sending missionaries here to us. For all any of us know, they already are.
Christianity is going to have to be more than an industry. It’s going to have to be a true walk of faith in our lives.
Do you ever shake your head about the Christian industry?
Recently I was in a store near my home. We were on our way somewhere after church, so we stopped in for a drink and a snack until we ate lunch later. I turned and saw this picture in the magazine rack:
You can’t go anywhere without seeing or hearing something about Duck Dynasty. I have’t been to Walmart in a while at the time I’m writing this, but I’m sure there is plenty of Duck Dynasty merchandise. My employer is a sponsor of their show, so we see and hear plenty about them. A couple of the Robertson clan came to our area to speak a few weeks ago. I believe they even had a Christmas CD this year. Of course, the greatest measure of their popularity is making the cover of Mad. That really means you’ve made it.
In five years, few of us will be talking about Duck Dynasty. More than likely, their show will be off the air by then. They will have made their money during this phase of their life and they will be back to simply making money from their duck calls and such. Everyone will have moved on to the next big thing.
I’ve seen a bit of this first hand. The CBS show, Christy, filmed about 300 yards from my house. There used to be a lot of people who would drive by to get a look at the sets. That number grows less and less as the years between now and when the show aired.
I’ve learned something watching both of these phenomenon play out. I suppose I’ve seen it in other things as well, but just didn’t realize it.
Fame is fleeting.
Life is just a vapor. At least that’s what James tells us in the Bible. As I get older I realize that more and more. The days of our lives are, like MacDonald Carey used to say, like sands through the hourglass. And if you don’t know who MacDonald Carey is, well, I’ve sort of proved my point.
We can chase fame in many ways. It may be local, national or international fame. It’s easier these days to chase fame. You can gain follower after followers on Twitter. You can go viral with a tweet or a video. You might gain many readers of your blog.
It can all go away in a flash.
So, what do we do?
It’s fine to try reach people. If your Twitter base grows, that’s fine. If more people follow your blog, that’s awesome.
But if we’re trying to make ourselves famous instead of the One whose fame will always exceed ours, we might be chasing the wrong thing.
If we believe what the Bible says, then we should be about making His name famous. If we happen to become known for that, then that’s cool. At least our notoriety will be tied to something eternal.
We just can’t seek our fame instead of His.
After all, fame is fleeting.
Have you ever gotten caught up in chasing fame?
A few weeks ago my department moved to a new location. We needed to move to make way for some other departments that needed our space. It happens quite often.
This is carried out by the telecom folks where I work. There hardly seems like a week, much less a day, goes by without someone being moved about within the company.
When the move is scheduled, we go into action. Boxes are gathered up for us to pack our belongings. Everything is made ready for the change.
There are a couple of other things we do as we move.
We pull out the wipes and clean. We clean the spots we are moving to, but we also clean those that we are leaving.
We try to leave things better than we found them.
Each of us have this opportunity on a continuous basis. All of us face chances to change things. We could leave things the same, but where’s the fun in that? Plus are we really simply leaving things the same? Few things remain unchanged.
A problem we face is that we might possible make things worse. It depends really, mostly, perhaps, with our attitudes. If we let it, if we simply want things to only remain familiar and unchanged, we can grow into a sort of curmudgeon who fights against all change that comes our way.
However, if we see change as an opportunity, as a chance to improve then we can actually leave things better than we found them.
You and I, if we know Christ, have been born again. We have become new creatures and the old has passed away. The new has come. We didn’t stay the same. We became something newer. Better.
Paul says that we must be transformed, not conformed. That implies change. Constant change. We can’t remain still, the same, long enough for the world to conform us to its image. We must seek improvement. We must become better.
In the wake of this change that we face personally, we need to leave things better after us. Our transformation into newer and better creatures must result in us making everything around us better.
We must leave things better.
Do you try to leave things better than you found them?
I still remember it like it was yesterday. I hadn’t been married long. I was twenty-three or so and knew everything. After all, I was twenty-three. Or so.
We ate lunch most Sundays at my in-laws. My sisters-in-law weren’t married yet, though both had fellows they were dating and one would eventually marry.
I’m not sure how the conversation started, but it was typical Sunday afternoon lunch table fare. You know, The Bible. Aliens. Life on other planets. Just normal stuff.
The debate continued between two of us, one sister-in-law and me. She believed life was possible on other worlds. I didn’t.
We battled back and forth for a while. The result? My sister-in-law ended up crying. That’s how good of an argument I put up. I won. I was right. I was so right.
I was wrong.
That’s a problem that too many of us share. We take a stand. We fight for what we believe in. We do everything we can to convince we are right.
We are so right. We are so wrong.
We lose sight of everything else, other than simply being right.
It doesn’t matter who we are battling. We don’t care how the other person feels. We don’t consider the other person’s opinion or take on the subject.
All that matters is being right.
Truth exists. It matters. For those of us who share this faith in Christ, truth is a person. It matters more than anything else.
However, one problem we face is when we confuse the Truth with our truth. When something we believe or prefer becomes entwined with the One we believe in.
It could be music or movies. It might be sports or cards.
It might be aliens from outer space.
It could be when you are so right you’re so wrong.
Have you ever been so right about something you are so wrong