Friday, July 31, 2009

Letting go of the good for the better

For people who have a deep and abiding relationship with Christ, the decisions between right and wrong are usually pretty easy. Its the decisions between what is good and better that are often difficult. For example, lets say my wife and I both had a long week and have been unable to spend quality time together. That same week my friends are having a get together on Friday night. We know Saturday is family day and Sunday will be busy. I have a decision, I can hang out with my friends on Friday night (which is a good thing) or I can hang out with my wife on Friday night (which is a better thing).

Or how about the decision between reading a magazine like Sports Illustrated (for men) or Better Homes and Garden (for women) instead of picking up the Bible. Reading SI or BHG is good, but reading the Bible is better.

I have a daughter starting school this year. As my wife and were weighing our options, we came up with three: 1. private school, 2. public school, 3. home school. We had to make a decision not between right and wrong, but between what we felt was best for our daughter.

There's a lot more examples I could give, but you get the point. Its often the decisions between something good and something better that are often far more difficult than the decisions between what is right and what is wrong. The reason these decisions can be hard is because we have to give up something that is good. Hopefully, the payoff is something better. Hopefully the results of spending time with my wife instead of my friends has a high payoff. Hopefully by reading the Bible we learn something new about God and our relationship with him even if it means missing out on an interview with Lebron James or skipping the latest home fashions.

I think the key ingredient to making the decision that God wants us to make is wisdom. That's why Proverbs 3:13 says "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold." And Proverbs 4:7 says "Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding."

May we seek Godly wisdom and may God honor our seeking by granting it to us.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Favorite Lyrics

For some reason, there are random song lyrics that pop into my head to fit a certain situation. For example, any time I'm counseling a married couple whose having problems and they say "I love you but..." Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to do With it" often pops into my head.
Which got me thinking, here are just a few of my favorite lyrics:

"I've spent all my resistance on someone I can't resist."
The Waiting - Hands in the Air

"Sometimes You're further than the moon
Sometimes You're closer than my skin
And You surround me like a winter fog
You've come and burned me with a kiss"
David Crowder - Obsession

"Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace finds beauty in everything "
U2 - Grace

"Only You can make every new day seem so new."
Five Iron Frenzy - Every New Day

"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above."
Come Thou Fount - Robert Robinson

"Throw your hands way up high, wave 'em side to side like you glad to be alive, and if you know where you going when you die say everything's alright"
rod.laver - Fifty Five

It’s undeniable how brilliant you are
in an unreliable world you shine like a star
it’s unforgettable now that we've come this far
it’s unmistakable that you’re undeniable
Mat Kearney - Undeniable

"He carried me home and threw me a party
A party so loud like the greatest love story
Oh my dear friend applaud now please
I've invited your heart to announce you are free
He takes your chains, busting you out of prison
Just open your heart, let your heart come and listen"
Charlie Hall - Hookers and Robbers

What are some of your favorites? Please share in the comments section.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Motives are a funny thing. We all have them, we all operate out of them and yet so many of us are unaware of them. Proverbs 16:2 says "All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord." The last part literally says "but the Lord weighs the Spirits."

In other words, God isn't just concerned about external behaviors, but about internal "motives" or "spirits." God cares just as much about what is happening internally, as he does about what is happening externally.

So many Christians think the Christian life is about what you do, but I would suggest that its more about who you are. Surface Christianity is about rules, deep Christianity is about what God is doing inside of you and as a result through you.

In any relationship there are motives behind the behaviors. Those motives may be pure, but externally carried out in a way perceived to be negative. Or, those motives may be negative, but externally carried out in a way that is positive.

Let me give you a scenario for negative motives being carried out in way perceived to be positive. Lets say I'm meeting a friend for lunch and I decide to buy it for him. That's an external behavior that looks good and pure, however, what if the only reason I am buying it is to soften the blow when I tell him that I've been dating his fiance'. That's not a pure and good motive even though the external behavior looks good.

Now let me give you a scenario for pure motives being carried out in a way perceived to be negative. Lets say I want to give my wife a day for herself. I wake up one morning and surprise her before she wakes up by taking the kids to my parents house. I leave her a note telling her I wanted to give her a day for herself, that she can do whatever she wants to do all day. Well, lets say my wife works full-time and this a Saturday. Also, lets say my wife does not like surprises and gets energy by being around the husband and kids. She may wake up, read the note and be furious. That's a pure motive in the husband that had the opposite effect of its intention.

Now, I know those scenarios aren't perfect, but what I'm trying to convey is that God does care about who we are and what we do. Have you checked your motives lately? They just might need a tune up.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Become the person you want to marry

This was some advice given in the SAM Sunday school class this past week. And it wasn't advice that I gave, it was mentioned by someone in the class. Our current curriculum is called Boundaries in Dating(if you are single and haven't read it, it can really help you with your dating relationships).

I just thought the advice was appropriate. If you are struggling with being single, the best thing to do is work on yourself. If you want a person that loves God and lives for Him, then maybe you should be that kind of person. If you want someone that is fit and active and likes to exercise, then maybe you should be fit and active and enjoy exercise. If you want someone that is chill and laid back and would rather watch a movie than exercise, then maybe you should be that kind of person too.

It sounds simple really, but so many people fail to follow it. Why? I think its a matter of negative thinking, specifically that we have to have someone in our lives to be happy. We are so afraid of being alone, that we settle for someone that doesn't have similar values and priorities and hobbies so that we don't have to be alone. The problem, as the authors of Boundaries in Datingsuggest, is that dating won't cure a lonely heart. If you have to have a romantic relationship to be happy, then you have some issues that need to be resolved before you pursue marriage.

If that's you, pick up the book and you'll find yourself on the right road.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Its just a Coke

I was getting a propane tank for the grill along with some mulch and soil from Home Depot the other day and accidentally stole a 20oz Coke. You see, I got the propane tank first and as I cruised to the other side of the store where the mulch is located I grabbed a coke along the way to drink.

As I was checking out, I totally forgot about the Coke (which was buried under the mulch and soil). Turns out I didn't pay for it. I didn't realize it until I was on my way home. I took a sip from the Coke and realized what had happened.

My first thought was "go back and pay for it." Then a second thought creeped in: "its Home Depot, they make a killing off me every year, its just a Coke. They'll never miss it."

I actually thought about not going back to pay for it and to be honest, I didn't go back until the next day (not because I was wrestling with whether or not to go back, I knew I would go back and pay for it). The point is, its so easy to justify small sins. Stealing a Coke seems so much smaller than stealing a car. But, spiritually its just as big. Notice I didn't say "Morally its just as big." While I do think its also a moral issue, for me, spiritual issues always trump moral issues and this was definitely a spiritual issue for me.

It was a spiritual issue because there was something inside of me that could justify not going back to pay for it. It was an automatic thought. This experience revealed that something inside of me is not right. That I still need God to work in my life and purge me of some junk that's there. Junk that's as simple as whether or not to steal a Coke. It still seems like a little thing to me even now, but I still believe something bigger was going on. Something bigger than myself.

It did feel good to go back and pay for that Coke. Maybe sinning isn't the only thing that feels good after all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I was reading Philippians the other night and something really jumped out at me. Halfway through the second chapter Paul says "Do everything without complaining or arguing." Ouch. Suddenly I remembered all the times over the past week and month that I had argued or complained or done both at the same time. And I thought to myself "why?" What good does complaining do? What good comes from arguing, especially when its over something trivial. So I decided to try not to argue or complain, Ouch again. I haven't been very good at it.

It is hard not to argue or complain. At least it is for me. Following Paul's advice and wanting to follow Paul's advice are two very different things. I want to follow Paul's advice and I'm going to try, because I think its good advice. Especially when you consider the reasoning: "so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation."

The world has enough arguing and complaining, it doesn't need me to chime in. Lord help me be the blameless and pure kind of Christian that you are calling me to be by helping me resist the temptations to complain and argue.