Saturday, July 24, 2010

Are You Ready to Grow Up?

Obedience to God is an amazing thing. I have been on both sides of the coin. I have experienced blessing for being obedient and I have experienced consequences for not being obedient. I believe the goal, however, for every Christian is to become more obedient as we grow in our relationship with the Lord.

It’s similar to raising a child. When they are babies there isn’t much discipline to be done and we really don’t have any expectations. We are just enjoying this stage of newness. As a new believer, I think it’s similar to how God feels. He is just enjoying this newness of life that we have found in Christ. That is why babies only receive milk. They are not ready for more. I Peter 2:2: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.”
In other words, without the milk of God’s Word there can’t be growth. The intention, however, is that there IS growth. We don’t expect our children to remain babies forever. They have to grow and the same is true as a believer.

There is a source of frustration that can arise when children don’t begin to “grow up.” Sometimes we see children who appear to be greatly lagging in maturity. They are 5 years old and still walking around with a pacifier in their mouth—hopefully I have not offended anyone who has a 5 year old with a pacifier. My point is that growth is part of human development but it is also part of spiritual development.

I Corinthians 3:1-2, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.”

Who wants to be on milk forever? If you are a parent, think of the first time you put something in your child’s mouth that wasn’t milk. Some of them probably spit it right back out. That’s like a believer who isn’t ready for something more than milk. They want to remain as an infant in Christ.

Then there are other babies who, although quite surprised at this new thing in their mouth, gobble it up. They are ready for more! They are ready for solid food. The same is true with believers. There will be some believers who are ready for more. As a believer, we SHOULD be ready for more. We should be CRAVING more.

Hebrews 5:12: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”

This is really sad if you think about it. Every single one of us ought to be a teacher of the Word of God. It doesn’t have to be formal, such as a Sunday school teacher or a preacher. We should all be equipped to share the good news and teach others. It could mean that you are a “teacher” in your neighborhood, in your workplace, with extended family or at your school. But the point is that we should all eventually arrive at that place where we are ready to teach others what we have learned. We shouldn’t be babies squalling away, kicking our legs and opening our mouths for more milk!

Still not convinced that you need to grow up? Look at the next verse after Hebrews 5:12: “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe” (Hebrews 5:13).

If you are unskilled in the word of righteousness then you are not able to grow in obedience. Obedience is a really big deal to God. If you are a parent, you know that it’s a big deal for you. My children are now either a preteen or teens. If they were still acting the way they used to at 2 and 3 years old, there would be a serious problem.

So think about your spiritual walk. Are you still a babe in Christ? Have you been wearing diapers for too many years? Or are you more like a toddler, getting into things you shouldn’t and throwing fits when you don’t get your way? Perhaps you are more like a school-age child, who is just flitting through life, enjoying this time of childhood antics. Maybe you are more like a teenager, still trying to figure out who you are but finally beginning to break away from childhood. You have one foot in childhood but another foot moving toward adulthood.

Or are you a grown adult? Not only ready for solid food but tearing apart the meat of God’s Word? Do you dig into it like it’s the last time you will ever eat? This is the place God has for you. Are you ready to get there? Are you ready to grow up?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Got Peace?

One of the things that I have been on a pursuit for, especially as of late, is peace. I’m not talking about an inner peace; by the grace of God I have that. I am talking about peace in certain relationships in my life.

I have had to learn the hard way that while I am seeking peace, I can expect to be hit with some trying challenges. It seems like as soon as you determine to really work at something, the heat gets turned up. The people you are trying so desperately to be at peace with suddenly come at you with a renewed force. The easy thing would be to stop trying and just walk away.

Believe me, I have been there. This pursuit of peace has left me to feel like I am scrambling up a mountain. Just when I get my footing, an obstacle looms before me and I begin to slip. At times I just want to let go and freefall. Forget them…I have tried and I can do no more. Yet God keeps asking me to hang on. Sometimes it is with the edge of my fingertips.

It has been a trying pursuit, to say the least. It has left me banged up at times. I have been hurt in the process. I have wondered why. But then I am reminded of the many times we read throughout the gospels in which Jesus never gave up on people. He was the true pursuer of peace; however, the peace He had to offer was a relationship with the Heavenly Father.

That realization has given me a new strategy. No longer do I feel a need to pursue peace for the sake of not arguing or being able to just get along. I need to seek peace in order to point them toward a relationship with Christ.

No, they don’t exactly get me. Their beliefs don’t exactly line up with mine. I might seem too radical to them at times. But preaching won’t do it. I have to live my life in a way that pleases the Lord and then pray that the peace they see in my life will make a difference in their life.

Sometimes we try so hard to fix situations, to change things when really all we need to do is step back and just let God do the work.

Peace with others can only really be had when we first have our peace with God. That peace will begin to overflow into other areas of our lives and that includes our relationships with others. Got peace? Perhaps if it hasn’t happened you need to find a new strategy. Study and examine the life of Christ and take note of the way He dealt with relationships. His life is the greatest example and He truly is the Prince of Peace.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Don't Be Hasty in Making Decisions

Recently I had a very important decision to make. I was faced with what might have been considered a no-brainer to others. What was right before me appeared to be the opportunity of a lifetime. It was enticing and presented a nice price tag. No, this wasn’t something I would have to pay for; it was something I would get paid for. Financially it would have been wonderful for our family.

Despite the pretty outward package I knew I couldn’t jump right in. I had to be sure this was really best for our family and for my future career. It probably surprised the person who presented this opportunity that I didn’t immediately agree. I told her that I would need time.

That time would be spent praying, talking to my family and others close to me who could offer some words of wisdom. I knew more than anything that the prayers for wisdom, guidance and direction would be what would make things clear.

In the end I turned down the offer. The fact that the person who offered this has never responded to my answer in turning it down makes me think I have lost some favor. It is very hard to not let it bother me. It may have seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime but despite how enticing it was, in the end I had to do what was best. Boy, that wasn’t easy!

Sometimes the decisions we make in life will not be warmly received or understood. Others may think we are foolish. We may be questioned or ridiculed. Sometimes we make decisions that are to please others. However, if we say yes to something in order to please man, we may have lost sight of our purpose.

For me, I just cannot stand the thought of being out of God’s will. Just because something is good doesn’t mean it is right for you. I would rather lose favor with people than with God.

It reminds me of a recent conversation I heard on the radio. They were talking about the very same thing, doing what is best for your family. The speaker was using the example of educating our children. He said that home schooling is a great option for many families but so is public school and so are private schools. No one choice is the better one. Yet so often people will try to dictate to others what they should be doing, just because it is what they are doing.

It is the same thing when we face decisions. One of my family members stated, “Well you can’t turn it down.” In their eyes it was something they would have jumped at so that meant I should do the same.

For me, I have always known that my presence here in the home is the place I am to be. My availability to my children has been priority and although it is what I feel is best for our family, it does not necessarily mean that I believe others have to follow suit. That is what helped me to make the decision that I made. It would have taken me away from the very place that I know God has me in.

I realized in the end that this new opportunity would have distracted me from what God’s purpose in my life is. If I had jumped at it because it was the opportunity of a lifetime, I would have either missed out on some blessings or brought about a whole bunch of problems. That certainly wouldn’t have been worth it.

It’s important that we take time to think through, pray and sometimes we need to seek the counsel of others before we make life changing decisions. In the end we have to know that we are following God’s plan for our life. Don’t be hasty in making decisions. Bring them before the One who knows what is best for you.