Monthly Archives: March 2016

Can You Believe It?

It can be frustrating when someone won’t believe you.  There have been a few times over the years when Wendy hasn’t believed that I know how to get to whatever destination we’re driving to.  Before you jump to conclusions I need to confess that she’s been right at least as often as I have.  But I used to get very frustrated when I knew I was right and she wouldn’t believe me.  Not so much anymore.  I’ve learned the hard way that it’s easier to be gracious when I’m right than it is to be humbled after being adamant only to discover I’m wrong.

Gratefully God’s attitude towards us is always one of graciousness.  Not that God is ever wrong, but there are many times when we don’t believe him, and though he may scold us for our unbelief, it is always gently and for the purpose of leading us into belief.

In Mark chapter 16 Jesus reprimanded the disciples for not believing the witness of those who had seen him after his resurrection. But then he commissioned them and they went out and turned the world upside down in their witness of him.

What do you struggle believing?  Maybe you’re like the disciples and are having a hard time believing that Jesus rose from the grave and has extended grace and forgiveness to you.

Or maybe you identify with what a few people, who in my mind are spiritual giants, have admitted they struggle believing:

“I have a very hard time with believing that I don’t need to worry about money.  Nothing – not even disease – stresses me out more than when I don’t think I will have enough money.”

 “’Husband, love your wife as Christ love the church/Wives respect your husbands.’ Deepest struggles over the years have been to believe that I can or even should initiate love toward my spouse when words or actions have hurt or disappointed time and again and I feel like my spouse doesn’t deserve my love.”

“I struggle with forgiving people who have hurt me. My head can have all the right answers about loving and forgiving, but when I get in that persons presence I feel the walls going up and a strange awkwardness.”

My own struggle to believe has been that I don’t need to feel appropriately guilty for an appropriate length of time, like some sort of penance, before God is satisfied that I’m truly repentant.

The key to overcoming unbelief begins in the head and then moves to the will.  I decide that I will believe God and then choose to act on that belief in obedience to God.  The “feelings” of belief will follow.

This is faith.  And faith comes from God.


Pursuing What’s Most Valuable

I’m a pretty competitive guy.  Just ask my boys.  They weren’t very old when I quit letting them win at stuff . . . like when they turned two.  Of course when it came to video games it wasn’t very long after that that they wouldn’t let me win either.  But apparently I wasn’t always like that.

Mom and Dad enrolled us kids in organized soccer when I was seven or eight.  I remember that we played for a couple of summers and I can vaguely recall driving to the field for games, but I don’t have much memory of actually playing.  That may be because I was what you might describe as easily distracted.

I’m told that at times the whole knot of kids from both teams would be chasing the ball up the field but something in the grass would have caught my attention and I’d be on my hands and knees completely oblivious to the game and the coach yelling at me from the sidelines “David!! Go get the ball!!” I guess playing soccer just wasn’t important enough to me at the time.

That illustrates an important Biblical truth: we pursue what is most important to us.  That’s the point Jesus was making when he said that your heart will be where your treasure is.

In 1Timothy 6:11 we’re urged to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  It’s not primarily speaking about behavior, though behavior will be a by-product of this pursuit.  Rather it points toward pursuing the nature of God which is imparted to us through faith in the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and through his death and resurrection has paid the price for our sin.

Many of you reading this would give mental assent to that truth, but let me ask you a tough question: What does your life say about how important that is to you?  What do you spend the majority of your time pursuing?

Far too much of our lives, mine included, have been spent poking around in the grass over trivial and ultimately unimportant things while what’s really important and eternally significant is moving away from us. I’ve decided I want to be where the action is.  I want to be involved in what God is doing bringing hope and purpose to my life and the lives of people around me.

You can too, right where you are.  God will use you right in your circumstances if you’ll give your life to him to use for his glory.  It’s time to pursue what’s important.  It’s time to get in the game.

Jed Clampitt Theology

In one of the earliest episodes of Beverly Hillbillies cousin Pearl is trying to convince Jed that he should move out of his little cabin in the hills.  “Jed, how can ya even ask?  You’re 8 miles from your nearest neighbor; you’re overrun with skunks and possum and coyotes and bobcats; ya use kerosene lamps for light; ya cook on a wood stove summer and winter; your drinkin’ homemade moonshine; washin’ with homemade lye soap; and yer bathroom is 50 feet from the house and you ask should you move?!” Jed reflects for a moment and then quietly drawls, “Ya, I reckon yer right . . . a man’d be a dang fool to leave all this.”

There’s a lesson in there that reflects what Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 6:6. “Godliness with contentment is of great gain.”  He goes on to say that people whose primary goal in life is to get rich run right into a trap that sets them up for spiritual disaster.  The question is how to get what I need to make a living without falling into the trap of chasing after money and accumulating stuff.

The key is in the words “godliness” and “contentment.” Godliness is less about behavior and more about a desire, passion and adoration for Jesus who died for your sin.  Contentment describes an internal strength from God that equips you to be sufficient to face any circumstance.  Pursuing godliness develops contentment.

Paul goes on to describe what contentment looks like: being generous and sharing what you have with others in need.  The description here is of fostering community where the focus is on giving and generosity rather than craving and consuming.

Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with being wealthy. (Which includes the vast majority of us when viewed on a global scale.)  In fact right in this very passage Paul says that God intends that we enjoy the things he has blessed us with.  But the way to get the most enjoyment from it is to share it with others.

Don’t believe me?  Then let me give you a challenge that will prove my point.  In this next week I want you to look for an opportunity to give something of yours away.  It doesn’t have to be anything major, but it should be to someone who has a genuine need and who would be unable to pay you back.  In fact ideally they shouldn’t even know who it came from.

You’re going to be surprised at how much fun it is.

When you pursue godliness you will develop contentment that is expressed in a generous and giving way of life.  To paraphrase Jed Clampitt, “a man’d be a dang fool to not want all that.”