Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Be Still

One of the Bible verses where I turn most often is Psalm 46:10: Be still, and know that I am God. A few years ago (my daughter is now ten), I jotted down some thoughts about “being still” which I’d love to share with you.
* * * * *
Our 3½ year old daughter talks all of the time. From the moment she wakes up in the morning until nap time; from when she wakes from her nap until bed time – she is talking. And it’s not just idle jibberish flowing from her thought processes. She is asking questions, providing commentary, telling stories – all requiring the attention and input of her listener. You cannot get by with an occasional “yes, dear” when you hear her voice inflection indicate she is waiting for a response. No, you have to be actively listening in order to properly respond, “yes, Batman is a good guy,” or “no, Grace’s party is next Saturday,” or “no, Owen’s light saber won’t really cut your head off.” An incorrect or inadequate response runs the risk of a replay of all that led up to the question in the first place.
While I would prefer a bit less verbosity first thing in the morning, I’m not complaining. It is amazing and very entertaining to see how her mind works and is developing.
It would be nice, however, when bed time approaches, for her to wind down a bit more than she does. Our routine calls for: a bath, brush teeth, read a story, rock, climb in bed, a drink of water, sing songs, pray, hug/kiss, sleep. Until the “sleep” stage rolls around, she really doesn’t wind down very much at all. While rocking, I may get about ten seconds of good, quiet, still, snuggling. Then, its back to squirming, laughing, . . . being Rachel.
Again, I’m not complaining. This is a great stage of her life, where she is “doing” so much for herself and she is capable of so remarkably expressing herself verbally.
But I do sometimes long for that baby stage where I could just hold her for long periods. She was so dependent on me for everything. She would rest and relax in my arms and drift off to sleep. She would wake up slightly and look up at me as if to acknowledge, “yep, he’s still got me – safe, protected, taken care of.”

How true this whole picture is of our relationship with God:
● We spend so much of our lives developing our independence.
● We spend most of our “time with God” in a one-way conversation.
● We seek God’s answers to our questions instead of just seeking God.
● We want God’s affirmation of our words, actions, and thoughts instead of affirming Him with our words, actions, and thoughts.
● We so seldom take the time to just rest in the comfort of His love and the assurance of our salvation.
Obviously, any analogy that we can come up with relating to God breaks down on some level because He is so “other.” In relation to our human condition, we cannot even fathom His holiness, His power, His majesty, His glory, . . . Him.
We know He cares about our hurts. We know He wants us to bring our needs and concerns to Him. We know that He cares about every aspect of our lives and wants us to share it all with Him.
But I think He also longs for us to just rest and relax in His arms; to let go and acknowledge that He is in control and all will be just fine; to stop squirming, worrying, and fretting about the world beyond the comfort of His arms.
And I think He wants that for more than just ten seconds a day.
He may remove us from difficult circumstances; He may deliver us from pain. But so long as we are in this fallen world, He certainly desires that we . . .
“Be still and know . . .”

I hope you enjoy the lyrics of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, Be Still and Know:
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still, O restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still
Be still; Be speechless
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know He is our Father
Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Hero?

I have never had any particular reason to be a fan of the Florida Gators’ football team, but I have really pulled for them the last couple of years as I’ve watched their quarterback, Tim Tebow. If you keep up with NCAA football at all, you know about Tim. His college career has been so amazing that it has even spawned a line of jokes similar to the ‘Chuck Norris’ or ‘Jack Bauer’ line of jokes, like:
The active ingredient in Red Bull is Tim Tebow's sweat.
Tim Tebow can get Chick-Fil-A - on Sunday.
People with amnesia still remember Tim Tebow.
Superman's only weakness is kryptonite. Tim Tebow laughs at Superman for even HAVING a weakness.
When Google can't find something, it asks Tim Tebow for help.
What color is Tim Tebow's blood? Trick question. Tim Tebow does not bleed.
Tim Tebow once stiff-armed a horse. That animal became what is now known as the giraffe.
When taking the SAT, write "Tim Tebow" for every answer. You will score more than 1600.
Tim Tebow gets called for roughing the tackler.
When Tebow spikes the ball, he strikes oil.
Tim Tebow can touch MC Hammer.
Tim Tebow frequently donates blood to the Red Cross - just never his own.
Referees created instant replay so they could admire Tim Tebow more than once.

But it’s actually the man behind all of the statistics, victories, and hype that I admire. Although he is a devout Christian, home-schooled by missionary parents, and unashamed to admit to confused media types that he intends to remain a virgin until he marries, he has not (to my knowledge) ever tried to leverage his ‘celebrity’ to gain fame and glory for himself. In fact, one of the things that really started me liking him is how he realized that, in his position, the television cameras would be showing ‘close up’ views of him on a regular basis. So, he took that opportunity to write Bible verse references on the ‘glare strips’ he would wear under his eyes.

Although obvious, Tim’s proclamation of God’s Word was still subtle. While a guy wearing a rainbow ‘Afro’ wig and holding a ‘John 3:16’ sign in the endzone bleachers draws criticism and derision, when Tim had the same verse on his glare strips during the 2009 BCS Championship Game, Google recorded 93,000,000 hits for it.

For those of us who have been on Tim’s real team for a number of years, a verse like John 3:16 is just ‘second nature.’ But for 93 million other folks out there, an outstanding young athlete earned the right (in their minds) to point them toward the gospel message.

Patrick Morley (of Man in the Mirror) is similarly impressed with Tim and he tried to keep track of all of the verses Tim referenced on his glare strips this year. He says they were: Proverbs 3:5-6, Mark 8:36, Romans 8:28, Isaiah 40:31, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalm 23:1, Ephesians 4:32, Philippians 4:6-7, Colossians 3:23, Joshua 1:8-9, Romans 1:16, Hebrews 12:1-2, John 16:33, Ephesians 2:8-10. Look those up when you have an opportunity to see what Tim has proclaimed.

There are lots of NFL scouting experts who say Tim doesn’t have what is required to be a successful NFL quarterback – not accurate enough, too long of a throwing motion, etc. But if I had the chance to choose him, I would in a heartbeat.

Tim Tebow is a difference maker. Tim Tebow leads others where they need to go. Tim Tebow marshals all of his gifts and talents and efforts with victory in mind.

And Tim Tebow also plays football very well.

If you are like me, you probably don’t have the opportunity to ‘witness’ to millions of people each week. But what are you doing with the opportunities you do have?

Admittedly, you may lose some credibility if you wear glare strips under your eyes with ‘Philippians 4:6-7’ written on them when you attend your Monday morning sales meeting. And if you’re a surgeon, your patients may go elsewhere if you ask them if they know where they’ll end up if they die today.

But still – we are on the same team with Tim Tebow. The game plan calls for us making a difference; for us to lead others where they need to go; for us to maximize our gifts, talents, resources, and efforts.

Tim Tebow does some heroic things. But Tim Tebow is not my hero; Jesus Christ is.

Tim has shown us one way of pointing others toward our Hero. We should have our own ways of doing that as well.

Are you doing that?

Better question: How are you going to do that today?

“You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.
Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see,
so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 5:14-16, NLT

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year Resolution

I’m not really much of a “New Year’s resolution” kind of guy. Are you?
I suppose that such resolutions have their place and can serve some good purposes, but they’ve never been too important to me. Maybe some deep-seated cynicism within me is trying to protect me from setting myself up for disappointment or something. Who knows?
It has always fascinated me though, how so many people focus so much on one little tick on the clock when our calendars change from one year to the next. They seem to really grasp at straws for the hope of a “do over” in some area (or areas) of their lives. “It’s a brand new year! The past is behind and I can start with a clean slate!”
But . . .
What about that mortgage, car payment, or credit card bill? What about that project you left on your desk at work on December 31st? What about those extra twenty pounds? What about that leaky faucet in the guest bathroom? What about the argument you had with your son on Christmas? What about that homeless guy under the bridge?
Do those things go away or start with a clean slate just because we went from 11:59 p.m. on December 31st to 12:00 a.m. on January 1st?
The reality is that there’s not much in this life that stops being what it is one second and then becomes something brand new the next. There isn’t much that disappears and will no longer burden us just because the clock went ‘tick tock’.
But - you know what did? Here’s a hint: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17)
Have you ever thought much about that? It’s really a wondrous mystery how that happens and it’s certainly beyond my explanation. But what is clear to me is that upon accepting Christ we do not become turbo-charged versions of our old self; we are not updated and improved; and we’re not “made over,” enhanced, or strengthened.
No, we’re NEW CREATIONS!! Completely new! We became something we weren’t before (and could never have become on our own).
However, unlike “New Year’s” revelers who want to pretend a new year makes all things new and leaves all the old behind, we become completely new and then we keep reaching back to our old self to bring it along for the ride. What sense does that make? We’ve been made a new creation, yet we drag the old with us into our new life!
And that just ain’t right.
The God of all creation has made me a new creation, for His purposes, by taking up residence within me (Gal. 2:20, Col. 1:27, 1 John 4:12). And then I keep dredging up the old me. I keep thinking I can ‘resolve’ to improve upon and make the old me acceptable to God to some way.
I’m tired of it. God deserves better.
The old me is gone and could never be made acceptable. He made a new me and He did what I couldn’t have ever done – made a new, acceptable me. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, NLT)

So, . . . I resolve to leave the old self behind and focus on perfecting the new life to which He has called me. I resolve to make this new creation submissive to its Creator; to more fully trust the Most Trustworthy One.
And I resolve that this resolution will not fade away with the passing of time. Because some things, like the new life He has given me, are eternal.