Considering Glory

Taking time to consider God's working

Month: December, 2016

MiniBlog: A God of Limits

Freedom is not found in the absence of limitations. Aristotle believed true freedom was found by imposing the correct limitations. Healthy relationships embrace limits.

Limitations (or boundaries) help us to tell others “no” so we can maintain our health and effectiveness. 

Why are limitations necessary?

Appropriate boundaries lead to success because God created them for our good. God gives us limits, not to restrict us from good, but to protect us from bad. He isn’t asking us to do what He won’t do Himself. Yes, God puts limits on himself too. Jesus used boundaries to protect his identity and fuel His ministry. He would climb a mountain to pray alone with His Father. Jesus was the one person who didn’t need to worry about losing Himself, yet he practiced setting boundaries. He understood: without a sense of separateness, you’ll lose your potency.

Boundaries helped Jesus stay on track – I think we should follow suit. 

The Priciest Christmas Treat

This is the first time in my life I’m not spending Christmas in Fremont, CA at my Papa and Yiayia’s (Greek for Grandma) house. We are all the way in Springfield, MO far away from any relatives. To boot, it’s cold, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be having a white Christmas either. Kaleigh and I are both positive people and know that we’ll make the best of our daughter Karis’ first Christmas, but it’s still difficult for each of us in our own way. 

My Mom is great. It wasn’t her decision to miss her first grandchild’s first Christmas, but she has been such a good sport about it. She knows my love language is food and there’s one special treat she makes once a year that makes the whole world disappear when you eat it. She got the recipe from her grandmother, and a few years ago she perfected it. Peanut. Butter. Balls. It’s chocolate and it’s peanut butter. It’s crunchy and it’s chewy. It’s delicious and it’s Christmas. For me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without them. (Maybe I should pray about that?)

They’re the priciest treat ever, and here’s why. My Mom mailed us a package with nine peanut butter balls and a check for $200. Now we really need the money after moving across the country, but I was still enormously more excited about the peanut butter balls. Do some quick math and that means they’re more than $22 a pop. To be honest if someone offered me one in July for $50, I don’t think I’d have the strength to say no.

Times are a little bit sadder this time around, but I’m thankful for family and food that make celebrating Jesus a little more familiar. 

Reflecting on Mr. Mark Hayward

Mr. Mark Hayward was of the highest quality. His integrity was unshakable. He was the first man I had ever met who told me he saved himself for marriage. That shook my world, and I too wanted to be able to tell young men the same story. My wife, daughter, and I have been deeply changed for the better because of the impression he left on me. 

Since he was the first man I knew who had been walking closely with the Lord for all of his life, I thought there would be more men like him. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how special he was-and blessed I was to share in his life. It’s difficult to capture how uniquely good this man was, so I can only think to recount one story to illustrate his character.

One summer I was working at Hume Lake after high school. When Mr. Hayward heard I was up there, he asked me if I could help him with his cabin. It wasn’t anything too difficult, but I remember wanting to just so I’d be able to spend more time with him. After he had showed me what he needed help with, we started talking as he drove me back to where I worked. He shared a story of some famous basketball player who slept around with literally hundreds of women and when asked about it, he replied “the person who is truly a man only sleeps with one woman.” As Mr. Hayward told the story, he had tears in his eyes. He encouraged me to live for Jesus and love people well. As he so frequently did, he had inspired me. 

Mr. Hayward had wrecked my view of manhood. He was one of the greatest men I knew, yet he loved people furiously. In fact, it was that very same love that made him such a great man. He taught me this: “play now – pay later, or pay now – play later.” He lived by that in every way, and it showed in his relationships. He was the embodiment of integrity, love, and manliness. I look forward to heaven when he’ll shake my hand, give me his half grin, and poke me in the chest as he so often did when he told me something important. 

MiniBlog: Bashing Millennials is a Sin

Do I need to justify my proposal? 

In most areas of life, there is cultural accountability for not viewing one’s way as the best way. One race is not better than another. One gender is not better than the other. A blue collar worker is not better than a white collar worker. And the list goes on. 

As can be expected, there are those who openly believe their race, gender, or socio-economic class is better. In most cases, those people are shunned for their arrogance and naïveté, but for some reason generational pretension is seen as a virtue. Let me emphasize this: it shows great insecurity, not strength, to bash another generation. 

The bashing goes both ways, and it’s childish. Each generation has its strengths and weaknesses. Sure, (on average) we may be more entitled, but we (on average) are more committed to social justice issues, better advocates of mental health, and are masters of technological efficiency. 

In Galatians 2 Peter is caught being ethnocentric. Rightly, Paul rebukes him for his sin. He had pride in his ethnicity just as some of us have pride in our generation. I believe Paul would give the same rebuke to a person who is bashing another generation.

If you are truly concerned with our generation, I challenge you to prove it by mentoring a millennial. I have been freed from entitlement and laziness mostly because I had great mentors from the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations. Don’t tear us down for being different, build us up so we can work toward a better future together. 

MiniBlog: Bad Sabbath Teaching

Full disclosure: I am terrible at honoring the sabbath, but I think I know why. 

Have you ever heard or read something by a Christian that said, take your Sabbath and do what you want to do. If you want to watch a movie, play video games, or whatever it is that makes you happy, do that. And don’t feel guilty. 

Here’s why that’s not Biblical, restful, or effective:

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:13-14 ESV (italics added for emphasis)
Bottom line? Seeking our pleasure does not get us delight. So much of Christian teaching on the Sabbath lends itself toward giving yourself a free pass on being selfish. Let me tell you, God did not design us to feel rested from being selfish. We are not fulfilled when seeking our own pleasure. This teaching completely misses the point. 

I believe this has been an overreaction to legalistic teaching on the Sabbath. There used to be, and still is, much lunacy regarding rules and regulations on the Sabbath. 

Here’s my suggestion for making the most of the Sabbath:

  • Spend more time reading your Bible
  • Spend more time praying
  • Talk with your family (or friends) about how God is working in your life 
  • Ask God what He wants you to do

Don’t focus on your own pleasures – seek God’s pleasure and you’ll find true rest. 

MiniBlog: Why Rudolph is the Best Fairytail Christmas Story

We all know how it goes. Rudolph is different and he’s made fun of for it. One day, his defect makes him a hero instead of the misfit. What a great story. 

The story could have gone completely different. Imagine, in an alternate universe, Rudolph is approached on the renowned “foggy night” to lead Santa’s sleigh. But this time, this is Rudolph’s response:

“You all have treated me like dirt since the day I was born. Whenever I wanted to play a game or needed help, you would just make fun of me and call me names. Now, since my defect is convenient, you all want to be my best friend. I don’t owe you anything. Good luck flying in the fog, I’m going to go enjoy myself.”

Rudolph had every right to respond this way, but he didn’t. The story leaves out a few interesting details. Rudolph never complained about being left out. There was never an apology from the other reindeer. There was never an “I told you so” from Rudolph. 

He refused to play the victim. 

By definition, he was a victim, but he chose not to identify as one. Instead of becoming vindictive or revengeful, he knew who he was. He knew he was different, and he knew he had a purpose. 

When situations are out of your control, how do you respond? Do you know your purpose? Are you forgiving or spiteful? 

In a world full of victims, be a Rudolph. One day, your time will come to save the day. 

MiniBlog: A Fierce God

I know so many people who have a subconscious perception of Jesus as being weak and as a victim. Disclosure: a lot of gender generalizations are used here. Our Christian culture, in some ways, is geared toward women, but neglects to show how God appeals to manly men. All it takes is just a cursory look at popular worship music lyrics or common keys the songs are played in. Most men don’t want to sing Kari Jobe’s song:

I want to sit at your feet

Drink from the cup in your hand.

Lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat

This love is so deep, its more than I can stand

I melt in your peace, its overwhelming

This is very emotional language.  Some men appreciate, but most are bored by it. Christian comedian Tim Hawkins once joked men would rather watch a game and eat nachos with God than talk about their feelings. Don’t get me wrong, men need to understand and appreciate their emotions, but unlike most women, men don’t get excited about God when they ponder emotions all day. Our churches should emphasize passages like the end of Isaiah 49:

“For thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children. I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.””

As a man, this passage gets me stoked. It’s gory. It’s aggressive. God is victorious and we’re on His side. He’s our hero. This is the stuff that gets me excited about God. 

If we want men to start engaging in the call of God, we need to show them how exciting He is. He isn’t tame, he’s the greatest warrior in the universe and he is calling us to battle. Are you in?