Thursday, March 28, 2013

When Irritated Or Angry, Serve

Have you ever been irritated? Medically, irritation is a state of inflammation, a painful reaction to cell lining damage. It means you hurt because something rubbed you the wrong way.  Again, I ask, have you ever been irritated? 

I have. Something rubbed me the wrong way. In defense of myself, it would have rubbed you the wrong way, too. That doesn't make the irritation go away. Defending an irritation does the same thing to us that scratching a sore does. It keeps it from healing and makes it worse, often causing it to spread like an infected wound. Soon we are covered with irritations, and eventually we become an irritation to everyone around us. Is there a remedy?

Well, we can try to avoid irritations, going with the flow. But, people and situations will not go with us. Friction is inevitable, especially if we are people of conviction in a conviction less world. In this world there will be friction and so there will be irritations.  Is there something else we can do?

We can try to overlook it. Love covers a multitude of sins, and often we are able to overlook the things others do.  Applying patience, forbearance, and prayer to a person or situation is often all it takes - like a bandage on a wound. Sometimes, though, that doesn't work. The irritating person or situation is like a pair of shoes that rubs us the wrong way, a pair we have to wear. We cannot avoid them or the situation, then we find the blister under the bandaid festering rather than healing. What are we to do then? 

Well it helps to apply Jesus to the wound in a specific way by serving, preferably serving the one who irritated us. If that is not possible, just serve someone. Jesus came to serve and if you want to abide in Christ and experience His healing power and presence you need to serve.  If you can't serve the source of the irritation, just serve.

Serving brings us in step with Jesus. He came to serve. So, if you're going to walk in His presence, a.k.a., abide in Christ, you must serve. It also distracts us from our irritations so God can heal them. Serving is a holy distraction that takes our focus off ourselves and our irritations so we stop fiddling with them.  Then Jesus can heal them.  It's like in the movies when they cowboy is shot and they have to cut the bullet out with no anesthetic. Someone puts a stick or twisted bandanna in the cowboy's mouth and says, "Bite down hard. This is gonna hurt."  Biting on the stick does nothing to take away the pain, but it does distract the cowboy long enough for them to remove the bullet.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Christian Maturity Is Not

Something dawned on me this week. It may be simple, maybe misled, but I was thinking about this. Becoming a mature Christian certainly involves caring more and more about what Jesus cared more about.  Here's what hit me, though. It also involves caring less and less about what Jesus cared less about. I mean, if it didn't bother Him why should it bother me?  If it wasn't a major focus in his life, or in his teaching, why would I want it to be a major focus in my teaching?  If it didn't bother him, why should it bother me?  And, if I want to help my brothers and sister become mature, becoming clearer reflections of Christ, then I want to help them major on the major and minor on the minors as defined by Christ.  So, if it wasn't a topic of Jesus' conversation, wasn't an issue with the apostles, it doesn't need to be an issue with me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Wonder If Heaven Is Like

Sometimes it's an odor. Sometimes a snapshot. Sometimes it is a voice that is so similar to one we haven't heard, one that we will never hear again, that we are transported back to another time. Some of those times were difficult. The memories are storms we survived. At other times, though, the memories flood our hearts and minds with peace, hope, and a sense of wellness that is like a warm blanket on a cold evening. This blanket doesn't wrap around our shoulders, but around our hearts. It fills us with a sense of wellness and wholeness that we long for. I just saw the picture.  My mind fled to that time when the world seemed kinder, gentler, when I felt safe and warm. I asked, "I wonder if this is a little of what Heaven will be like?"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

First And Last Name

The last book in the Bible is also the last inspired.  John recorded the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to him late in his life near the end of the first century. All the other Biblical books were completed years before. This last book speaks about last things and the last name in this book is Jesus. "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen." 

And, if you read the last chapter in this last book, you will find that the last name was also the first.  Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the end. . . I, Jesus have sent my angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star."

I know that it is not possible to live life anonymously. God didn't intend us to do so. John mentions himself several times in the book of Revelation itself. He identifies himself as the recipient of the vision of God. He tells the churches he is writing to that it is he, John, the apostle who is recording the words of Jesus. His identification as an apostle certified what he wrote. There were many people writing many things in the church then, just as I am writing this today. But, the vast majority of them had no apostolic authority to claim their words were from God. John's signature in this book let the church know it was from God through an apostle.

Yet, as John identifies himself, he does so, not as an authority, but as a brother "I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ," (Rev. 1:9).  And, the last mention of John in this last book is anything but boastful. He wrote, "I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown them to me. But he said to me, "Don't do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God." (Rev. 22:8-9)

The first and last name in the Bible, and in history, is Jesus. How can you live today so that it is the first and last name of your day? How can you live today so that it is the first and last people hear from you?  How can you live this day so that what people remember about your life today is Jesus?