Jeremiah’s Legacy

“I have made you an assayer and a tester among My people, that you may know and assay their way.”  -Jer. 6:27

I’m glad that there have been Jeremiahs in my life.  When I listen to those people in my life – even when I want to hurt them for telling me the hard stuff – I always find healing and blessing on the other side.  Invariably, I will come to a point of realization that I would never have seen those blind spots in my life were it not for those people who spoke boldly and almost arrogantly into my life.  At the time I thought they were assayers and testers – but they were functioning as instruments of God’s grace in my life.  Were they not to come and were they not to assay my way, I would have wandered off on the same path as Israel and Judah. . .and we all know where that path leads.

Election Observations

1. A historic night – no matter what candidate you voted for. Unfortunately, for my generation and those younger than myself – there is a certain element of this history that we can’t fully appreciate because we didn’t experience the pain of the civil rights movement. Still meaningful for my generation, but the magnitude of it all is somewhat lost on us…well…lost on those of us who aren’t African American.

2. Watching an election has never been so much fun! Throughout the course of the day these social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc were just buzzing with people throwing their support out to their candidate. These sites were in their infancy in the previous election and have really made this process much more interesting. I’m curious to see how these types of sites will be a huge factor in 2012. $10 says we see the candidates more in chat rooms than in gymnasiums (and we’ll see Facebook’s profits go through the roof!).

3. Apparently, several American Christians are afraid of Barack Obama. That is stupid on so many levels. And, yes, I mean stupid.

4. A lot of American Christians are obsessed with the phrase, “God is in control.” Funny how it only comes out when we’re trying to console ourselves. ….that’s always bothered me. “You keep using that word….I do not think it means what you think it means.”

5. I’m thinking that many American Christians are afraid they might actually have to stand up for what they believe in because it is fast-becoming the minority view. And, ironically, instead of standing up for our beliefs, we find it easier to just slander the person who is threatening our cushy lifestyle. Whoops! So much for standing up for those beliefs. (see also 1 Peter 2:13-15)

6. I don’t agree with any of Barack Obama’s policies, principles or philosophies and don’t have to – even though he is my president-elect. That’s pretty awesome. Hard for me to imagine living in a place where I couldn’t freely do that. I probably take it for granted.

7. The single most popular Facebook status of the day: “I am praying for my country.” Why are we saying that? Did we stop praying while a Republican was in the White House?

8. If John Madden were doing the color commentary on tonight’s election he would say, “Obama beat McCain – bam! – right now!” I mean, McCain got straight up embarassed tonight. Landslide victory for Obama. Haven’t seen one of these in a looooong time.

9. I think John McCain’s concession speech was amazing. Everyone is saying that it was ‘gracious.’ I thought it was inspiring. It blew Obama’s acceptance speech out of the water.

10. No one cried tears of joy when George W. Bush was elected president. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t have cried if McCain would have been elected – and I doubt many others would have either. Why?

11. I think Obama’s election is the best economic stimulus package that George Bush has come up with yet.

12. Gov. Bobby Jindal for President in 2012!!! 🙂

Your observations? Add to the list…

Great Expectations

I have a certain opinion on the way things ought to be. Actually, I have a lot of opinions on how a lot of things ought to be. A good friend reminded me recently that my expectations will always compete with my faith and faithfulness. God is continually either beating my expecations or leaving them in the dust. Never in my life has God ever met my expectations.

The Scriptures illustrate this as well. Story after story we find God continually not acting the way people expect Him to. Pick a character from the Scriptures and discover how God either exceeds, thwarts, ignores, or redefines the expectations of believers and non-believers alike.

I went to a funeral on Tuesday. My friend, Josh, lost his father in a motorcycle accident last weekend. I’m sure he expected his father to be at his wedding. I’m sure he expected his father to be excited to be a grandfather some day. None of those are bad expectations to have – they are right and good. However, if Josh clings to those in the face of his tragic reality – he will not be able to keep his faith in the God who didn’t meet his expectations.

The same holds true in my marriage, in my role as a father, in my job, and at my church. If I am unwilling to follow Jesus out of my expectations in any of these areas, I am unwilling to follow Him at all. Ironically, following him out of my expectations is far easier than what I try to do instead.

I live in a world where my expectations are king. I expect to be treated with respect when I check out at the grocery store (or else I’ll take my business elsewhere). I expect to see my daughter get married some day (it would be tragic if I did not). I expect my bosses and elders to not make mistakes (giving me the right to chew them out if they do). I expect people not to be stupid, lazy, or in my way (I yell at them if they are). I expect my dog to obey my voice immediately (or he’ll get a whooping if he doesn’t). I expect my wife to keep the house clean (and take it personally when it’s dirty). Why would I treat God any differently?

Thank you, Lord, for never meeting my expectations and for not treating me the way I expect you to treat me. Were it so, you would not be my God. I would be god and You – my slave.

A Hireling in Shepherd’s Clothing

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (John 10:11-13)
Why would anyone want to be a leader?  When times are tough Jesus here illustrates that leaders are not to think of their own well-being, but that of their flock.  When a wolf is coming, the true shepherd considers his life as worthy to be spent for his sheep.  Instead of protecting himself and making sure that his safety is secure, the shepherd-leader of the flock lays down his life for the sheep.  
In a turbulent economy where bankruptcy looms large on the horizon for many companies and employees hear rumors of lay-offs and cutbacks – where are the shepherds?  Don’t these circumstances have the opportunity to turn us leaders into hirelings without even noticing it?  I mean, I have to protect my family, right?  Maybe.  But that’s the mindset of the hireling and not the shepherd.  The Shepherd never abandons his sheep.  He lays down his life for them.  Does that mean he should lay down his family’s life for them as well?  

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)

This is an aspect of leadership that isn’t taught and is difficult to learn.  I fear I have much more to learn about being a shepherd than I once thought.  And….there’s more hireling in me than I would like to admit.  
. . . and not just where I work, but also in my marriage and my family.

The Better Place

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I’ve had some time to rest and reflect over the past few days and it has been much needed.  Lots weighing on my mind and several decisions to make about the future.  In speaking with a friend of mine and in reading the Scriptures, I stumbled upon Luke 10:41-42 once again.  It’s the all-too-familiar story of Mary and Martha that I all-too-often dismiss for the “don’t be too busy” passage.  
As I read it this past week and considered it, the Lord reminded me that it’s not a just passage about being busy, being a perfectionist or even how to handle self-righteousness.  It struck me that another way to consider this passage is to remember that it is about my choice during times of worry and frustration.  When things in my life get cranked up, I have the decision where to place myself based on the circumstances.
I must remember that I need to find and remain in that better place that Mary chose.  I also need to remember that the place isn’t synonymous with activity.  I don’t make the place, I choose the place…and as long as I stay there, I will hear more clearly the voice of my Lord – and, hopefully, be a blessing and example to other Martha’s around me.   

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