Radnor Lake and the Sovereignty of God

I ended up back at Radnor Lake State Park. This time I walked with a friend and we both chose one of the more difficult trails. Halfway though, I was seriously huffing and puffing like the fat hobbit from The Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t pretty.

When I was able to catch my breath and take in my surroundings, I was reminded again how very small I am in the grand scheme of things. I am a vapor and a mist in the perspective of eternity.

How dare I make myself or my feelings the standard by which I judge all other things? How dare I question God when He acts contrary to how I in my very finite wisdom think He should act?

A theology based on my feelings will be a very unsteady one. If anything I read in the Bible or hear from someone disturbs my equanimity, I dismiss it out of hand. I will end up with a very vague and toothless doctrinal system that has all the form of godliness but none of the transformational power. I end up with a gospel that is not the Gospel at all.

When I read my Bible and something offends my sensibilities, perhaps the error lies within me. Maybe I’m the one who needs to change. It could be that I need to step back and look through a much larger lens at the grand story authored by God that is unfolding in and around me.

Nature has a way of reorienting me when I get my priorities out of whack. Being out among the trees has a way of reminding me that I’m not the one calling the shots and running the show. I didn’t make any of it and I don’t sustain any of it. God did (and still does) it all.

Nature is so much more patient than I am. I am most thankful that God remains unceasingly patient with me through all my selfishness and fear and doubt.

 

18,000 Steps and Counting

I was supposed to meet my friend at Radnor Lake, but that plan fell through. So I had a little deviation from my normal Monday routine. I stopped by Grimey’s Too, one of my favorite used music stores, then headed over to Crockett Park in Brentwood. After all, this was too pretty a day not to get in some walking.

I started off my hike with 7,000 steps on my Fitbit. I ended up with over 18,000. That’s a lot of walking for an hour and a half. I felt great afterward. Sore, but great.

I still believe that the key is to slow down occasionally. That is about as counterculture as you can get these days when the mantra is always more and faster and hurry up. We have all these time-saving devices and actually save less time and have less down time than any previous generation in history.

I work hard at my job. I also know when it’s time to stop. The almighty job can consume you if you let it, but it makes a pretty poor idol. Just ask any of a number of people who dedicated their lives to a company and a career only to get laid off due to “less than expected profits.”

Plus, you can almost never go wrong with exercise and fresh air. Nothing can clear the mind and calm the soul like nature can. The added bonus is all those endorphins that kick in after a good sustained walk (or jog, if you prefer).

You still choose what’s important. You still decide what matters by what you deem worthy to make time for. Too busy is a myth. If something (or someone) is truly significant to you, you will always find time for it (or them). Period.

At the end, I saw probably one of the best college basketball finals ever. I really didn’t have a dog in the hunt, so I was able to truly enjoy the best two teams in college basketball showcasing why they both deserve to be national champions. Unfortunately for North Carolina, Villanova had the last word. And the last shot.

So go for a walk tomorrow. Just get up and move. Preferably outside if the weather is still nice.

 

Lessons from Lent

lent2011

This may be old hat for you or not. I’m not sure. But stop me if you’ve heard some or all of this before: last year, I gave up only Facebook for Lent. This year, I decided to give up all social media. It turned out to be one of my best decisions ever. Although if I’m honest, I was being obedient to what I felt God was calling me to do. It really wasn’t my decision at all.

I don’t regret for one single second going without social media for those 46 days. I got in more prayer time, I read my Bible more, I read more books in general. Plus, I had a greater sense of peace from not being tied down to Facebook or Twitter.

I think sometimes in order to appreciate something more, you need to step away from it for a while. That was the case for me. I did sometimes feel out of the loop after missing all the news from Facebook. But I can always catch up on that.

Lent is more than just giving up. It’s replacing it with something better. It’s no good to give up social media if you’re going to fill up the time with television. Hopefully, you spend your extra free time in learning to hear God’s voice and hear His heartbeat and feel His love for you. Obviously, the best way to do that is through His Word.

I don’t claim that I was anywhere near perfect in that regard. I wasted too much of the time I had away from social media. But I’m not beating myself up about it. Instead I choose to focus on the fact that I was more discipline in regard to prayer and Bible reading than I’ve been in a long time.

I hope to be able to participate in Lent again next year. I hope that I can be free enough to walk away from anything that enslaves me and takes my eyes off Jesus, whether that be social media or TV or anything else.

Like I said before, it’s really not about giving up stuff or sacrificing what you love. More than that, it’s about prioritizing your life and making sure that Jesus and His Kingdom really and truly are first. Then everything else will line up and fall into proper place.

Life Lessons from Candy Crush Saga

I’m a fan of Candy Crush Saga. In the past few days, I’ve been slightly addicted to . . . er, I mean really dedicated to this game. My pattern is that I’ll be stuck on a level for quite a while then suddenly I’ll breeze through several in one sitting. 

I’ve learned something about the game. You have to be intentional with just about every move you make to be successful.

Life is like that. You may wish for more hours in a day (just like I might wish for a few more moves in the game before I run out), but really the question is how intentional are you about using the time you’re given? Are you task-focused or people-focused. At the end of the day, you have to decide what really is important and what’s not.

I’ve said it before but the harsh truth is this: you will find time for the things and the people that matter to you. If you find yourself making excuses over why you can’t find time for someone, maybe it’s because they aren’t really that important to you. You may call yourself their friend, but the truth is you’re just an acquaintance.

You can’t do everything and you can’t be friends with everyone. You have to decide who and what you’re going to invest in and make those things and people your priority. You choose people whose qualities you most want in your life, who are headed in a direction you want to go, and who will ultimately help you become your truest self, i.e. more like Jesus.

If your so-called friends can’t ever make time for you, let them go. Pray for them and wish them well, but don’t keep trying to reserve a place in your life for someone who doesn’t want to be there. You will find plenty of people who want you around and who want to spend time with you and will live it out. Remember the best way to spell love is T-I-M-E. No other way shows your love for people than spending time with them.

After all that, do give people plenty of grace. I gave someone chance after chance to be my friend, but they ignored every request I made to spend time with them and hang out with them. They only responded to me after I suggest that it be best for us both to move on.

As for that infernal game, one day I will defeat level 23. I’ve come tantalizingly close, but then managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It’s my talent. Did I mention how much of a gamer I’m not?

Anyway, as always, take what’s useful to you from this and leave the rest. Hopefully, God will speak some truth into your life from these ramblings. Thanks again for investing in my life by taking the time to read these posts.

 

In Search of Boaz and Ruth in the 21st Century (Yet Another Blog About Singleness)

I had a good friend commenting on how she couldn’t find any men who fit the role of Boaz in the Bible. I have to agree. Not too many godly men stepping up and taking charge spiritually. There are lots of guys out there, but not nearly as many real men.

Then again, as a single guy, I have a hard time finding Ruths. There aren’t too many women pursuing godliness with a passion these days. As before, there are a lot of girls out there, but not too many real godly women.

Then I got to thinking on the way home. Maybe the problem is me. Maybe I’m not finding my Ruth because I’m not trying consistently to be a Boaz. I’m all for godliness and holiness when it’s convenient and cheap, but not so much when it takes time and costs me something.

If I’m looking for certain qualities in a mate, I need to have those showing in my own life. Or at least I need to be developing those characteristics. I can’t expect kindness in a future mate if I don’t show it myself. I can’t expect deep spirituality if I am shallow when it comes to the things of God.

I think this applies to married people as well. You can’t expect your spouse to be something you’re not willing to be. You have to own up to your part and change yourself before you demand change from your husband or wife.

I know I have a lot of work to do before I can call myself a godly man. Sometimes, it seems like an impossible task and I feel like I will never get there. But God is best at taking the impossible and making it reality.

So before you point the finger at the opposite sex, make sure you look in the mirror first and find out if you need to get your priorities right first. That’s all.

 

 

 

Reflections from Radnor Lake

A friend and I met at Radnor Lake today and took one of its more scenic and challenging trails. Apparently, it was the road less traveled.

We met no living souls along the way, aside from a few curious deer and a couple of cardinals. After a day filled with city noises, it was nice to hear the quiet solitude of the forest and finally be able to hear my own thoughts.

It started raining halfway through the walk, and hearing the sound of the rain falling on the leaves of the trees above was hypnotic and meditative.

It was a steep climb, but it felt more than worth it. I almost felt like I was entering the inner sanctuary, close to the holy of holies, where you can hear God more clearly and see Him all around you.

Sometimes, you need to get away from it all. Most of what seems frantically urgent will still be there when you get back, but you will be better prepared to handle it.

Jesus had as much of a busy schedule as anyone who has ever lived, but He always took time to get away and be with His Father. Sometimes, it was early in the morning, sometimes at night. But He made getting alone with God a very high priority.

You will never have time to get to a quiet place with God. You will always have to make time, because you always choose to do what matters to you.

I’ll be the first to confess that I don’t make time nearly enough to really get to know God’s heart. I put so many other things before finding time to be silent before God in a quiet place.

May you and I be transformed by this living God into a people who hunger and thirst after knowing God more than anything else in this world.

Blessed are the pure in heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Blessed are the pure in heart. You may be like me and think, “Well, that rules me out right there. I am not pure in heart. If you could only see inside my heart and see some of the addictions and lies and crap that I carry around, the last word you would use to describe my heart is ‘pure.'” I have good news for you. If you have trusted Christ for your salvation, He has cleansed your heart. God sees you now as if you had never sinned. You are pure in heart.

The Message puts it this way: “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” That’s what being made righteous means– your inside world is put right with God. Then, instead of seeing fate and coincidence and random occurances in the outside world, you see God. You see His hand in everything.

Soren Kierkegaard said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” To stay pure in heart, it is important to not have divided priorities. Like loving God and money, or God and popularity, or God and success, or God and (you fill in the blanks). If anything competes with God for my attention, that thing must go, whether it be a possession or a relationship or a cherished dream. God is jealous and will not abide anything put alongside of Him as equal importance.

The good news is that the effort to have one focus is not a “strain and try harder”, but a “be filled with the Spirit and transformed by the renewing of your mind” event. Your and my job is to know God. To know what blesses and breaks His heart, to know what His will is for the world, and to know His Word so well that it becomes a part of you. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they know the Father and the One He has sent.”

Lord, I long to stay pure in heart and not wear myself out chasing in five different directions things that can only truly come from You. Be my passion, my heart’s overwhelming desire. Be so glorious in my sight that everything else fades away. Show me Your glory, and then I will be satisfied. Thank You that You have promised that one day I will see You clearly and love You perfectly.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.