Sunday, July 2, 2017

Working through Matthew

I am reading through Matthew again...yes, I am rather fond of this book as it bears my name.  Surprisingly, this time I am finding all kinds of truths I had never noticed before.  I suppose with any book you read again, you're likely to find things you missed before.  I read Harry Potter about 4-5 times through and enjoyed it quite a lot each time, but I really can't say I learned or saw things I had missed before.  Matthew is different.

This time through I am noticing all of the non-spiritual things.  Obviously, I read and notice when Jesus performs miracles such as making the lame man walk, but I am more interested in the "normal life" perspective this go around.  For example, as soon as Jesus hears about the death of John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin), "He left in a boat to a remote area to be alone."  In all of my life, I've not paid any attention to that and certainly never heard a sermon on that verse.  I'm pretty sure that would be a terribly boring sermon too...probably best that never transpired.

But the reason this line caught my attention now is that it shows how Matt-like, Jesus was at moments.  We see a man here who has healed the sick, made the lame walk, and raised the dead...yet, he finds a need to go and be alone when his friend dies?  Does He intend to mourn or pray or cry or scream?  We have no idea.  But, it stands to reason that some emotion caused Him to stop what He was doing at the time and go by Himself.  In these moments, He wasn't doing anything miraculous, which teaches me He was more like me than I had previously believed.  And if He is like me in those moments, perhaps I can be like Him in the other moments.  

Perhaps when He says, "go and sin no more."  He really meant, "Matt go and sin no more...and yes you can really do that."  The more I understand Jesus as a real life person, the more I can believe that I can actually live a life like His.  Will I feed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fish?  Probably not.  But, I may feed 5,000 one day by living on less and giving more.  Will I raise someone from the dead?  Not likely (lol...I can still hold out hope right?).  But I may be able to breathe life into someone who needs just enough encouragement to take another breath and choose not to end theirs.  Will I choose to sacrifice my life for the sake of others, to give when I would rather take, to love when I'd rather burn with bitterness?  God, I hope so.  And if a perfect man who walked this earth believes I can do it, who am I to doubt?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Compound Decisions

Compound interest.  Einstein said it is the most powerful force in the universe.  This coming from a key architect of the atomic bomb carries a bit of significance.  If you've ever looked at the math of it, you can see what he meant.  But compound interest doesn't just involve math.  The decision to save, invest, and not spend on a consist, even relentless quest is what fuels compound interest's power.  And so, compounded decisions rather than interest provides the decision after another to use money wisely.  Do that over a year, a decade, and a lifetime and you will build a tremendous and unstoppable force.

This truth doesn't just apply to money, but all of life!

People don't just one day make one good decision that gives them a great marriage, a great business, great relationships, great success, or a great relationship with Jesus.  It is one decision after another after another.  To put it another way, Michael Jordan didn't become one of the best (if not THE best) basketball player of all time the day he first broke a record.  He compounded every shot he ever took to slowwwwwwllllllyyyy become the best basketball player that ever lived.  It is very much like moving a mountain, one pebble at a time.

And that's why most of us give up way too soon.  It is humbling (sometimes even humiliating) to see such little progress each moment of every day in pursuit of moving the mountain.  But this is how compounded decisions are created.  This is how we create momentum in all areas of life.  We choose each day with every decision to either build or destroy.  

People don't start out marriages knowing and wanting to cheat on their spouse.  It is a series of bad decisions that bring them to that point later on, by entertaining thoughts, desires, and emotions that compound and lead to the next bad decision.  This creates momentum towards an ultimately even worse decision that topples their marriage.  

But imagine if we intentional chose to build and strengthen and encourage and grow towards a positive vision and goal with every single decision...every thought, every moment?  If we really understood-as Einstein did-that each decision compounded on each other to help us reach a future goal, would we choose to take more seriously each moment?  We could build an amazing future.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Life to the FULL

I feel like I spend most of my life turning down the noise, lessening the clutter, retraining my brain, unlearning lies, and just generally get rid of everything that keeps me (and us) from fulfilling lives.  The vast majority of what we hear and see is based in lies or distracts us from the truth.  Give me real truth front and center, overflowing the brim and I will drink that down at once!

Unfortunately, I feel like I spend so much of my time throwing out the bad and very little time pouring in the good.  

Apparently I am not the only one stuck on this course, longing for a different path.  But to take such a path requires a life that looks very different from those lives around me.  This path is an ancient path which few have tread.  It's not worn and smooth; it is full of stone and rough edges.  But the sweat and the dirt of this path takes you to a life worth living.  

Where do we find such a path?  It is the path of Jesus.  Not that Sunday school Jesus or the Jesus that makes the TV evangelist rich or the Jesus who lives only in a manger or who scolds you for not following the rules.  Not the Jesus who promises a happy and painless life, nor the one who is a Republican (or some other political pawn).  Not the Jesus who hates gays or smokers or kids who get pregnant before marriage.  Not the Jesus who inspires the KKK or hatred or bombing abortion clinics.  Jesus has nothing to do with any of those.  Yet, Christianity or Christians or Church or some other Jesus related term has become attached to all of these things throughout time and that couldn't be further from the Jesus I know and I see in Scripture.  And so, it is incredibly important to stop and unlearn the lies incorrectly attached to Jesus.    

Jesus lived a life of love, compassion, boldness, strength, courage, and selflessness.  But too many people have used the name of Jesus to make money, build empires, terrorize others, etc.  Thus, I spend a lot of time unlearning things that are not true so I can actually follow the real Jesus.  But, if successful, a life modeled on Jesus' will provide exactly as He promised: life to the full and rest for the soul.  That is a life worth living.