There is a time for everything

So many things happen to us in our lives that we often seek the meaning behind them. The good things we accept with gladness and the bad things we accept with our heads down. Depending on the magnitude of each, our reaction in response to them is supposed to be comparable. Or so society says. In American football, a team is given a penalty for excessive celebration if they go overboard in their response to a “good thing” and we all have heard that we are “overreacting” when we are responding to something bad. I would imagine that at some point we all have wondered why something happened to us or what we did to deserve such good fortune

My wife and I retold “our story” a couple of times in the past few weeks and I could start to see the seasons of our lives. We were engaged and married at a very young age. We waited to have children for six years and then waited five years between them. We relocated a couple of times – okay, 7 times, we reunited with my extended family after living apart for a period and guided both of our kids into adulthood – successfully. Our youngest moved out a few weeks ago and now we are ready for the next season. Unlike many couples, we prepared for our “empty nest” by never forgetting about “us” in this journey. Lisa likes to say that you can’t forget to nurture your marriage. Every season, journey and experience that we’ve had we kept our reaction commensurate with the situation. We like to say – “it is what it is” but always find a path forward.

1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. 4A time to weep and a time to laugh, A time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4

You have read me discuss God’s plan before. The wonderful, mysterious plan that God has for each of us. We never really understand why these things happen to us and I will say to the end that they are simply lessons for us to use later to share God’s love and His word. There is a time for everything – good and bad. We had to move my mother into an assisted living facility a couple of years ago. She started out being independent but soon she would need more attention and eventually she was moved into a memory care unit; where she is today at 94 years old. The experience was very hard on all of her kids, to say the least. We all have cried, laughed and questioned the meaning behind it all at some point.

Recently, my cousin who I haven’t really been in contact with much in my life, was faced with the same situation with my uncle. It has been hard for her. I have been able to share my experiences during this very painful time for her. We’ve emailed, had text message conversations and have spoken on the phone. So two year ago when I asked “why did this happen?”, I got the answer within the past 30 days. It is crucial for us to remember these words today because there is always a season and a time. It is more important to never forget the love of our Father in Heaven who gives us both the weeping and the laughing in our lives. Keep dancing!

Hospitality

I often wonder what would happen if everything that I did was recorded. The good and the bad being recorded – holy cow! On a related note, have you ever thought about why you do the things that you do? I watch our son open the car door for his girl friend and wonder where he learned that. We have been holding open doors for women since he was little and I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. We even extend that courtesy to our elders – no questions asked. For whatever reason, we never extended that to the car door but he picked it up. Its nice to see that in today’s world. No one really notices and often times we never hear a thank you when we hold the door but we do it anyway.

I also find myself never walking in front of a woman that is in “our group” or with me. I won’t let my wife walk behind me (if she isn’t next to me) so I often assume the caboose position in group settings. I know in some cultures that a man should be in that dominant position out front but I don’t believe that is the case – for me anyway. I have no reason for thinking or acting this way. No teaching or example from my childhood would instill this deep feeling within me. If I had to guess, it goes back to my leadership beliefs that the leader eats last, those lead before those leading or simply put – putting others before your self. I think it is the Rotary International organization who’s motto is “Service Before Self”. It has been my guiding leadership principle, which shapes me even as I walk through doors. What do people see when they watch you?

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

I pondered this verse for several weeks before I used it in a post. It was easy to write about “Service Before Self” in the opening but what biblical significance does this play? We all know the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you want them to do unto you. So I get the “show hospitality to strangers” concept but I struggled to find a relatable paragraph about some deep concept that God is trying to teach here. I’m not sure that I’ve found it because this verse really stands on its own.

Jesus said “what you do for the least of these you also do for me.” My take away is that this verse is reminding us of this. If we show hospitality to strangers we may be showing it to an angel and we all know where angels come from. I was reminded of the song by Joan Osborne – “One of Us” that asks the question; What if God was one of us? If the hospitality that we show is really to an angel, then isn’t that an extension of God? In the end, God may be one of us just not in the form we expected. So, does hospitality matter?

Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking has become an acceptable part of our society today. In fact, you are viewed negatively if you can’t multi-task. What we accept today as “normal” was once called being “scatter brained”. Multitasking and “smart phones” may have actually made us less productive. A number of studies have shown that the constant interruptions we have in our lives are actually slowing us down. Every time we rapidly shift from one task to an other our brains have to refocus or reset. We are truly losing our train of thought; the problem is that it is happening constantly.

Another study conducted with college students who claim to be “great multi-taskers” actually demonstrated that their motor skills and cognitive abilities mirrored those of someone legally intoxicated. Now that is sobering! Sorry I couldn’t resist. All of these studies show, what us “old-timers” already know, work on one thing at a time and you will actually get more done. We have all been behind the car that is just not keeping up with the flow of traffic, only to see them on the phone or worst yet, texting while driving. Remain focused on what you are doing (especially while driving) and your stress levels should decrease while your productivity increases.

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” 1 Peter 1:13

We are in the middle of lent, getting closer to Easter and there couldn’t be a more fitting verse. Reading the bible is a fascinating journey that explains how God tried to help focus His people on what is important. Imagine how many more distractions we have today than they did in those early years of B.C. Many of us who lived in a two-story house heard the phrase uttered by our parents “don’t make me come up there”, when we were misbehaving. God finally reached that point where He had to “come down here” because we just couldn’t focus on what He was trying to teach us.

God became man when He sent His son to show us the way. Peter reminds us to clear our minds, be alert and ready (sober). When we multi-task, we never really do one thing well, we do them all well enough. Peter is telling us to focus and set our hope in Jesus. Reduce the interference in your life by focusing on what is important. Send your fears and worry to God not so that you can do something else but so that you can focus on the grace that He is giving to you. Ensure that your devotional time is quiet and uninterrupted. Focus on what God is telling you through His word. Most importantly, have peace in knowing that your sins are forgiven by your faith in Jesus Christ.

Wisdom, what wisdom?

I’ve been searching for an answer to the question – “Where did all the wisdom go?” I can’t seem to find it anywhere and I’m afraid that it’s left our planet! Synonyms for wisdom include: understanding, insight, astuteness and prudence. Our country and our states used to be lead by people who seemed to have a great deal of wisdom. As an elected local government leader, I can see wisdom at work first hand. Local government is closest to the people and it deals with the problems and needs that people experience daily. Few people in our city are affected by decisions of the U.S. Dept. of Education but change the boundaries of where kids will go to school and you will see people cram into meeting rooms.

So back to wisdom, what happened? Our elected leaders seem to have forgotten who and what they are supposed to do. Look carefully at what they say or what they don’t and you will see decisions based more on ideology and party than on doing what is best for the people. Few are looking down the road at what the unintended consequences might be of making a decision. Even the average person has started to lose their wisdom. We hang on to the few sound bites we hear and believe them to be fact. Fake news is springing up all around us because we want to believe everything that we read. I’d suggest that wisdom has been lost by our desire for instant information no matter the source. In the old days, something became news when it corroborated by a second source. I guess the point of my first ever “rant” is that we all need to be protecting our own wisdom by expanding our sources and looking at the bigger picture.

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4

What a great way to describe our journey with God. We start to build our relationship with God by having the wisdom to answer His call and establishing the structure to hear His word. We move into the next phase of our relationship by taking God’s word and applying it to our lives. We attend church services, listen to the bible verses being read and say the prayers and creeds to profess our faith. We begin to understand what He wants us to do; we follow His teachings and go about our daily lives.

We think this obedience is what God wants us to do and it is here at the intersection of obedience and understanding where most people coast though their journey. At this point the house is built and the relationship is been established, but God is telling us that something is still missing. Imagine your house – a structure (wisdom), it’s occupied (understanding) but without love (knowledge) its not really ever filled. Seek to fill your relationship with God with the knowledge of His word through regular devotional reading, bible study and the active application of that knowledge in your life. Fill your life with His rare and beautiful treasures.