Today is the last day of June. For all intents and purposes, the year is half over. The days are already growing shorter. Before you know it, most of 2014 will be in the rear view mirror.
I don’t have anything particularly profound to say today. I’m somewhere around half-way through my life half-way through 2014. So, the message to you is the same message to myself.
Whoa, we’re half-way there, whoa, whoa we’re livin’ on a prayer
Don’t give up….don’t ever give up. – Jim Valvano
What are you going to do over the next six months?
We continue our trip through Philippians, chapter 2, by picking up with verse 9.
Paul begins with the phrase, For this reason also. The reason he is referring to flows from the previous two weeks that we have looked at Philippians. Specifically, it is that Jesus willingly and obediently faced death on the cross.
What did God do for this reason? God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. God exalted Jesus higher than anyone before Him. It is reminiscent of Jesus saying that no one greater than John the Baptist ever lived. Here Paul is saying that Jesus was exalted higher than anyone else could be. His name is above all names.
How high is this name that God bestowed upon Jesus? It is so high so that the at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the under the earth. Paul is saying that Jesus is preeminent over everyone and every thing that had ever existed in the world.
What are the results of God bestowing this name upon Jesus? Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Not only will God the Father exalt Jesus Christ, but everyone will do this as well. He will be confessed as the Christ and Lord. How? To the glory of God.
What are the results in our lives of God and man exalting Christ? Working out our salvation. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not at in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Paul wants these Philippians to obey him in working out their salvation.
Why should they work out their own salvation? For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. God is at work in the Philippians, so Paul wants them to work out their own salvation to match the work God is doing in their lives.
I first heard this song when I was in college. It was a live concert version by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I later learned that it was originally by The Byrds, which I came to love more than the Petty version.
The song was inspired by the hoopla surrounding The Monkees. They had recently begun their television show, which took four guys who were nominally musicians and made huge stars out of them. The Byrds had suddenly realized that everyone and their brother were rock stars, people who they didn’t necessarily feel had paid their dues.
When it comes down to it, many people were becoming musicians just because they wanted to be rock stars. They wanted the fame. They wanted the notoriety. They wanted all of the trappings that came with their success in music.
Is it much different for us?
We might take mandolin lessons because, yes, we love the music, but we also want to become the greatest mandolin player in the world.
We might write a book because we want to be well-thought of as a respected author.
Maybe that’s why we go to medical school. We want what being a doctor will bring to our lives and not just the financial rewards.
Maybe that’s why you started a blog. You wanted to be a rock star on the Interwebs. All you need is for that one post to go viral, for everyone to find out who you are.
Maybe that’s why you became a preacher. You think that your standing will change if you stand before people and speak for the Lord every week.
There are all sorts of reason why we do what we do. Some of them are even honorable and worthy. Others aren’t.
Why do you write your post or sing your solos in church or whatever it is what you do?
So you want to be a rock ‘n roll star?
I’ve been writing this little piece of the Interwebs for just over three years now. I began it way back about 100 years ago in 2011. If you haven’t noticed, I spend a lot of time writing about God, church, the Church and faith.
It takes a lot of content to write a blog for three years and 1,000 posts. You begin to look for ideas everywhere. In fact, you don’t even realize that you are scanning for inspiration. You just are. Conversations. Movies and TV shows. Books. Other blog posts. The Bible. God.
It’s real easy to begin to focus on finding content instead of the content itself. There is a slippery slope between something resonating with you so much it winds up in your writing and simply seeking that next idea to write about before you go to bed.
God can become who you tweet about. He can become another Facebook status. He can be your 1,65th post.
The thing is, and let’s be honest, He’s much more than that. If He become all of these other things to us, it’s time to stop, drop and roll. Or something like that, because we might find a little lightning hitting our backsides.
Oh Lord God, Father, Savior…..I beg you to not let me get in this situation. When I approach that line, wake me up before I cross it.
I challenge you to make sure that you don’t fall into that trap either. All of us are capable and susceptible. Chase after that relationship with Him to avoid it.
Have you ever found yourself letting God just become content instead of who He is?
All of us have been afraid of something in our lives. If we are honest, we will be afraid again. Perhaps we are even facing some fear now.
We might not face our fears with the arrogance of the three little pigs. We may not even face our fears at all. The first step, of course, is to admit to what we are afraid.
- The dark
- Public speaking
Of course, our fears are only limited by our imagination. One of the things I fear are ideas drying up. I hope that they never quit arriving.
Our fears seem so large sometimes. They stretch around and sneak up on us. They make frontal assaults and try to take us unawares. We think they will never end. As soon as we defeat one, two more take its place.
What can we do?
Turn our eyes upon the Lord.
He is bigger than our fears. We should take Him with us. Turn it over to Him. Face it head on. Win.
What are you afraid of?
Numbers are interesting. Some people have lucky numbers. Famous numbers. Many people know who made the number 23 famous in the NBA. NASCAR fans will always refer to the number 43 as being driven by the King. Me? My favorite number has always been 11. It was my first jersey number when I began playing football way back in the fourth grade.
Lately, though, I feel like a number has been following me lately. Or numbers, even more of late.
It began with the number 11:11 showing up on my clocks. It didn’t matter if it was my cell phone, computer or any other digital device, 11:11 began following me around.
Then it began happening differently. 1:11. 2:22. 3:33. 10:10. 12:12. If there was a way for numbers to repeat on a digital readout, I began seeing them.
My numerology friends might place some significance to this. They might say that something mystical is happening at that time. Something of significance.
I agree, just not the way they might think.
When these times appears to me now, I look at them as a time to pause. I take a breather. I stop what I’m doing and pray. This isn’t to say this is the only time, but I’ve trained myself to do this now.
Is there anything in the numbers themselves that mean anything to me? No. I just look at them as an opportunity to stop what I’m doing and refocus.
I view them as a selah in the Psalms. A time to stop the beat and rhythm and just pause for a second. A time to reflect.
Does it happen every day? No. But it happens more often than I ever imagined it would. When it happens to you, pause for a second, reflect and turn your eyes upon the Lord.
Do you ever see these type of numbers showing up? What do you do when you see them?
If you are aware of culture at all, you know the FIFA World Cup is happening. It is the biggest sporting event in the world, with somewhere in the neighborhood of ONE BILLION viewers. (Yes, somewhere Dr. Evil utters an evil laugh.)
I have been aware of soccer for about forty years now. There was a soccer boom, of sorts, when Pele’ came to the United States. It has never captured my imagination, though I do want the American team to win. There has always been a bit of animosity between soccer enthusiasts and many of the rest of us. Compared to the rest of the world, soccer has nowhere near the popularity of other sports in the United States.
Sometimes the same attitudes that many have for soccer are directed toward the church. The question is, what can the church and soccer do better in their relationship to those who are ambivalent?
Soccer enthusiasts and we in the church should not cram our enthusiasm down other’s throats. We have been told that soccer was going to take over the United States for about as long as I can remember. I was told that it would eclipse all other sports in the 7o’s, 80’s, 90’s and now. Many have dug in their heels and resisted just to prove those who like soccer wrong.
We in the church do much the same thing. We cram our faith onto others much like the soccer lovers. We irritate with the way we go about telling others about our way of life.
What should soccer and the church do?
Each should take a different approach. Both should share their love in ways that will appeal to others. For example, if you’re a soccer fan, how about inviting a non-fan to watch a match with you? In my lifetime, no one has ever done that with me. So, as I write this, I sit here watching a game I do not understand simply for patriotic reasons.
We in the church should do this as well. Find loving and creative ways to invite people to be involved in church activities. Even better, just invite them to be around believers in non-churchy ways so that they can see that Christians are real people.
Are you a soccer enthusiast? How would you “evangelize” those who don’t like or get soccer? How do you do that in the church?