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Author Archives: Ben Hedgspeth

When the World Doesn’t Make Sense

So…you’ve seen it right? You’ve looked outside, turned on the news, read the tweets, skimmed the articles, you’ve been around enough to know. You’ve heard those convos at work, avoided others over holiday family meals. You can’t get around it anymore. It’s just time to admit it. This world is straight-up nuts.

Why deny it anymore? It’s pretty obvious. Tax reform bills that call for -more- spending than ever before and don’t actually reform anything in a way that people would call positive reform. People on video, recorded audio, and other pretty undeniable means who simply and plainly state that they didn’t say those things & if they did, that’s not what they meant by them…and no one bats an eye anymore.

It’s almost like lies are accepted as truth and the truth no longer has any basis for our western society.

As Christians, this isn’t surprising. We shouldn’t be shocked by this, it’s no secret. The world is broken and they have exchanged the truth for a lie. Scripture plainly states that this will happen. Check it out:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:18-19‬

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭59:14-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭9:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And there are plenty more where that came from. Truth always finds resistance. Truth consistently draws the ire of free will. Truth is a reminder of impending judgement. Truth carries the weight of personal, individual accountability. That’s rarely a popular point of conversation.

But liking or not liking truth holds no bearing on the looming reality it brings. Truth will be heard. Our sins will find us out. The news is our daily reminder of this reality. This news that careens through our daily head-space is our reminder of the brokenness that truth exposes.

A broken world produces broken results.

Truth makes those cracks and fractures stand out like a laser line in a pitch black room. It highlights the recurring insanity and draws our hearts and minds into a longing for that brokenness to be repaired.

Truth alone can produce a result that is truly whole.

Seek truth. In the midst of the crazy, seek truth.

“Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.

Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.

Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.

For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:20-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In the midst of a crazy, broken world, seek truth.

Seek God. Truth belongs to Him.

Seek Jesus. He is the truth of God made flesh.

Seek the Holy Spirit. He is our guide in truth every day.

Seek your rhythm in truth. Seek your rhythm in Him. In this, we can find secure footing while everything else collapses around us.

Peace.

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What’s Next

Waiting is the worst isn’t it?

How many times in Scripture do we find people just waiting? As I think through things, it seems to be a common theme. More often than not, they are waiting for freedom. Freedom from an oppressive government, an opposing force or army, freedom from prison, being in custody, a dry cistern or a lion’s den, right? Freedom from poverty, ridicule, pain, sin, guilt, a life on the run, fear, shame or regret? There are so many stories that rely on freedom. So many hearts longing for whatever comes next that just isn’t ‘this.’

But freedom rarely comes right at the moment we discover our need for it. Many times, God allows us a season to see our situation for what it is so that we discover more about our need for freedom from it and our need for Him to provide it.

Jesus prayed in the garden that God the Father would deliver Him from His suffering. But He would have to wait until it was fulfilled to be rid of the pain. There was no circumventing that pathway, and He knew it. Daniel had to first endure shame, mistreatment and sentencing, being tossed into the lion’s den before he would be liberated from their jaws & claws. Hannaniah, Mishael & Azariah (‘Rack, ‘Shack & Benny) had to endure the trial of the furnace before God stood with them and delivered them from it…as they stood in the flames.

There are so many other stories, real stories, that echo this same theme. God promises us delivery, but not always from the things we want to be delivered from or in the way(s) we would see it done. He has His own plans, His own ways for seeing things through. So, yes, pray for freedom. Pray for delivery, but know that we don’t know just how He will glorify Himself and see things accomplished.

Freedom may come in the moment we ask for it, or it may come at the 11th hour. Either way, God be praised!

Spoiler alert: Life isn’t a bed or roses or a plate of cupcakes. That was never part of the deal. But we can embrace the moments we find ourselves within so that we can prayerfully engage with God and seek His glory in them.

So, as you wait, as I wait, as we long for something different, don’t let the waiting keep you from seeing God’s handiwork in the moment. Don’t look so far ahead that you miss what He’s doing right now.

The desert may be harsh, but He shapes you in the journey, not after it. Seek your rhythm in waiting with Him, let Him take the lead & trust in His plans.

Peace.

Why Forgiving Can Be So Hard

We all have stories. Stories that aren’t fun, bring up painful memories and make us wish we’d never retold them. They’ve been pushed down, shoved to the back of our minds and left to gather dust. We often feel like that is the best method with those painful points in our past. It means we’re not constantly staring at them, we don’t fret over them day-by-day and we consider our intentional ignoring of those issues to be a small victory.

When we ignore those issues, they seem to go away, don’t they? When we press them down or shove them to the darkest corners of our minds, we feel like we’ve gained some modicum of control over them, and that, too, feels like a small win. When it comes to painful memories, hurts and emotional wounds, this is often what we consider the ‘best case scenario.’ Out of sight — out of mind. We feel like -we- have won & we like it.

But in reality, we’re still giving up emotional real estate to something that doesn’t deserve it. We’re allowing a wound to fester & a rust spot to slowly corrode a bigger hole in the protective plating around our heart. The ‘set it and forget it’ model of forgiveness only prepares us for return visits and deeper, exaggerated wounds later down the line.

Imagine with me that you are a solider for the Union in the American Civil War. You believe in human dignity, you believe that every man, woman and child should be free and considered as equals with their pigment-diverse kin all around the world. That’s a good place to be. But you took a musket ball to the thigh sometime ago, on a dark night during a particularly difficult volley with the enemy.

You let the field medic poke and prod with his finger, but he couldn’t quite get to the fragments in your leg…so you concentrated on healing the open wound, and tried to let life go on with this new addition to your person. What you didn’t understand is that you have allowed a dangerous piece of lead (which is inherently harmful) and the germs from the medic and a few other people all gain entrance into your wounded body…

You see where I’m going here?

Rot, infection, gangrene all have the potential to set in and you may lose more than just your leg.

This is what unforgiveness does to us. It rots us, eats at us, weakens us…from the inside out.

This is why it is so important to let forgiveness work itself out in us, prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom and strength in the process. God’s grace over us was never meant to let us retain those hurts. Since we have been forgiven, we should also forgive…and for so many good reasons. Forgiveness is healthy. Forgiveness is God honoring. Forgiveness leads us away from that lingering corruption and into the pathways and rhythms of grace. And that is a much better place to be, forgiven, forgiving and free!

When Faith Means Never Seeing

Hebrews 11 gives us the classic ‘definition’ of faith:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When we think of faith, we often think about waiting for something. Maybe it’s provision, a conversion or some other event that is down life’s road…something we haven’t seen yet, but fully expect to see. Faith, we think, typically has a payoff that we will experience.

But what about when faith means never knowing? What then? How do we hold on in faith when it will only ever be faith? Can we be content to know that God is working, but we aren’t going to be direct recipients of that work?

That’s what the prophets of the Old Testament had to walk through in regards to God redeeming His people. That’s what they had to accept when He wrote words about the coming Messiah on their hearts. Abraham would never see Jesus, but he persevered. Moses dealt with unruly people, longed for their redemption, but instead was used to show them a shadow of what would come someday.

“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:39‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And so it may well be for us. God works in these areas of faith, but He never promises that we will see what He is leading us toward. There may yet be a great movement, but its end may not be for us to experience. And we have to be okay with that. Faith doesn’t equate to our own gratification, but the glorification of God. That is what faith ultimately points toward. Faith has always been meant to point toward God and to bring Him glory. What parts we experience are just that, and we must be content to be used however He sees fit. We do so in faith, and He is faithful to see it all through. Trust in Him & be faithful in return.

Calling All Encouragers

It has often been said that everyone has a single, favorite word. It’s the first word to turn our head, catch our attention and get us engaged. It creates a connection and opens us up to listen. In the middle of a crowded room, hearing this word will stop us in our tracks to find the one who said it…it’s your name.

We all long for connection. We all long for the affirmation that we are worthwhile. When we are in a season of stress, those who know us can encourage us very simply, and when we are sad, those who know us can be the ones who bring comfort, restore joy and speak words of peace. When we have connections with others, we look forward to spending time together, sharing experiences and showing them kindness as well.

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul had these people, most notably in Ephesus, a city where he spent many years. He understood the benefit of forming these relationships, both for himself (a constantly traveling missionary) and the other (often new Christians in need of support.) You and I need to seek out these relationships as well. But they won’t simply fall in our laps. We need to work to surround ourselves with people who seek to build us up, who will support us when we are feeling down & who will help correct us when we step away from our walk with Jesus Christ. And then we do the same for them…

Too often, we tend to surround ourselves with people who are ‘easy’ to be around. These people require little to nothing of us, they encourage our lesser qualities and can be proponents for making wrong choices because they are the ‘fun’ choices. They are the drama-feeders, the bad-habit-pushers, and the ones who are the first to flee when help is really needed. They may encourage, but it’s only to reinforce their own poor choices. They take everyone down with them.

So surround yourself with encouragers, people who will pull you out of yourself and point you toward Jesus. Find people who are easy to be around because they actually care about you enough to push you to be better tomorrow than you are today. Find people who want to see you looking less like yourself and more like Jesus. Find your encouragers and see how much you grow when you serve one another in love throughout the rhythms of grace every day.

How do you deal with criticism?

“But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.””

‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Feedback is often a good thing, hearing back from trusted voices, getting a solid, objective viewpoint on things we may overlook or be blind to will usually help us grow and fosters maturity within us. Jesus gave feedback to the disciples, Jethro gave it to Moses, and on we go through out scripture. What would have come of David if Nathan hadn’t confronted him about his affair with Bathsheba & the murder of Uriah? What would have happened to John Mark if Paul & Barnabas hadn’t sent him home? There are incidents in our lives that seem unpleasant at the time, but bring us healing & wholeness. Fighting to maintain our ground (when that ground was sinful) does us no good at all, and can lose the godly counsel for us that we so desperately need. James tells us directly:

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

‭‭James‬ ‭5:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is love, that we speak up and help rebuke & draw into correction those who stumble and fall under sin. This is the good, God-honoring criticism that brings life. We need to pray that we are ready to receive it and to do something about it when it comes. Listen to Solomon:

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But what about unjust criticism? What about those intentionally hurtful, fear-based attacks that come from unfounded accusations? What do we do with those?
We have heard the little chant, “Sticks & stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” And that is terribly untrue. I still remember a ‘friendly’ insult from almost 30 years ago. Why? Not because I want to, but because it was an assault on my own self-worth, something I was struggling with deeply at the time. An ill-worded & ill-timed offense that struck deep & lingers to this day. A repeated whisper, a lie from the enemy, a doubt sewn into my identity in Christ.I shouldn’t pay it any mind, but there it sits…and it has friends.

What about when people try to be intentionally vicious, when the scheme, back-stab & betray? What do we do with those moments, phrases & hurts? How do we keep them from taking purchase in our hearts, growing roots, & making their home with us?

Paul reminds us to take every thought captive, holding it up to the light & heat of God’s own truth:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:3-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is our first step. We cannot help but hear the criticism, so we must then grab it & hold it up next to truth. Not situational truth, not the truth we lie to ourselves with, but with God’s own truth. Examine it, study it and see if it holds true still. Seek God-honoring counsel & allow them to be a sounding board. Pray over it and see if the heart of the message may have been from God even if the delivery wasn’t ideal. Sometimes passion & concern does a disservice to an expression of hope. Listen to David & Solomon:

“He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge— the Lord —knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath. Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭94:10-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“My son, do not despise the Lord ‘s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And if it doesn’t hold water? If it’s obviously hateful & meant to wound? Then give it over to God, and pray for those who have offended you. If you are in Christ, the ignorant, hurtful words of human beings play no part in determining your value & worth. Listen to this: You are a child of the King & someone who is not the King cannot give or take away from who you truly are when you are His. This is good news! Be glad & rest in this!

If it’s from God, it’s because He loves you and is sculpting you to look more like Jesus.
If it’s not from God, it’s trash, and deserves 0.0% of your head space. Dismiss it like the wind & move along. And if the enemy tries to regain that headspace again, just remember whose you are, the One who calls you by your name, not by your past or by false accusations. When we walk with God, we walk in the rhythms of grace.

Trusting Means Action

When Peter sat in the boat that day, when the gears started clicking in his head & heart, he saw Jesus doing something that he thought was amazing & that maybe he’d wanted to do a hundred times before, but had counted it as impossible. When he saw Jesus walking effortlessly on top of the water, he knew he had to try it, too. After all, Jesus was his master, his teacher, his rabbi & any disciple worth their salt was going to do anything and everything to match up with anything and everything their master was doing…no matter what. His single-minded devotion was a hallmark of Peter’s wonderfully impulsive faith. He was always ready to speak up, even if it made no sense in the moment. He was always ready to jump in & swing his sword, even if it wasn’t what Jesus wanted or needed in that moment. And again, here in Matthew 14, we find that same faith at work when he steps out of the boat & comes to Jesus on the water. And this time…this time he has it right. He waits to see what his Master is doing & he imitates that exact action. So Jesus rewards his faith by calling him out onto the water.

Peter is always a great example to help us out with a little self-examination. He is often a reminder of what not to do & also what it does mean to have a childlike faith & I love him for it. And here’s why: no matter if he was right or wrong, Peter was always, always willing to act. And so many of us let fear, worry or doubt keep us from even experiencing the pathway of Jesus, and His blessing in our lives. It doesn’t mean that we need to fling ourselves over every wall of faith without counting the cost. Jesus warns against living in a way where you do no count the cost of you actions & motivations.

But it does mean that we at least look, we at least try. We ask tough questions, ew get our hands dirty & we make it a way of life, not just something we do when we’re in the middle of an event with our church family. It becomes our credo, our life’s motto. “If Jesus calls me to it, then I will do it.” It’s a heart-song of obedience, willingness & trust. We can never doubt Peter’s trust for Jesus. We can never look at a moment in his life, with the exception of that night of Jesus’ arrest, and wonder if Peter really was sold out for Jesus. Trust meant action. Love meant following through. Faith meant doing something about it…and so Peter did those things.

And why?

Because Jesus took the time to invest in Peter. He lifted him out of a place that he had likely resigned himself to, somewhere comfortable, somewhere familiar & lifted him up to. Whole new way of life & thinking about life. I often wonder if Peter wasn’t terribly disappointed when he didn’t make the cut to move up in Synagogue school, when he turned 12 and the passed him back to his dad to pick up the family trade rather than being recruited to follow the local rabbi & become a ‘true’ disciple. I think there was a longing for more in Peter’s heart & that he had resigned himself to never getting to see that played out. His life was good, but it was coupled with a lingering doubt & disappointment that tainted how he saw himself & what value he placed on his own life.

And when Jesus came up to him, called him to follow & then clapped him on the shoulder as they walked over to Zebedee & Sons Fishing next door, if Peter’s heart wasn’t about to explode inside his chest. And his whispered dreams, his childhood desires, didn’t start to unfold before him right then and there.

Now, I may be totally off base & only by meeting Peter on the other side will I ever really find out. But that’s my guess, and I’m sticking to it.

So, love & appreciation drove Peter. It propelled him forward in faith & it led him to the place where he was going to hung-ho follow Jesus to any place and through any situation. Those who are forgiven much, love much & those who have been redeemed from what they felt was maybe a hopeless situation find their own love overflowing as well.

Let’s love Jesus well today. Let’s move in faith with the Holy Spirit. Let’s glorify the Father with our choices & see if he doesn’t do something in our lives like He did with Peter’s. My guess is, he will. It just takes that step out…

“And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:25-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Do what you know

Part of our daily routine at home, from a very non-serious perspective, has been watching a morning show called Good Mythical Morning on YouTube. My wife and I have watched two guys, Rhett & Link, do a wide variety of things in the name of entertainment. They have eaten the world’s hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper, played numerous guessing games based on trends or random facts, goofy physical challenges and a whole gamut of other seemingly random activities. The hosts are our age and grew up about 2-3 hours away from where we went to college, so there are some points of familiarity that drew us toward them from the get go.

Because we have been watching them for so many years, we know the names of their children, wives and plenty of stories about their lives from the time they were in elementary school up until the present. We know about their middle school crushes, pranks they pulled in high school, that they both have engineering degrees, & that Rhett is lactose sensitive. But we don’t know these guys. We’ve never met them, we haven’t seen them in person, and they certainly have no idea who we are…

So do we know them? From a surface perspective, yes. We know a lot about them. But, in reality, we don’t know them at all. Facts and exposure do not equate to a relationship.

Knowledge about them does not translate into a closeness with them.

If we claimed that it did, we would be delusional & it would sound like the beginning of some plot from a stalker movie. (Have you seen/read ‘Misery?’) There’s a line there, based in reality, that exposes the truth about just how well we actually know them. It would be silly/scary to claim otherwise.

The same is true when it comes to calling yourself a Christian. A lot of people know about Jesus. They have been exposed to Him, know parts of His story, have met people who spend time with Him, & so they think they know Him, too. In reality, they don’t really know Him, there is no relationship or any evidence in their life that would point toward their claims to know Him.

Jesus was very pointed about this type of person in His teachings & warned against living this way. It delusional & dangerous. He told us that walking with Him would produce a particular type of fruit/evidence in our life (multiplication of disciples & the ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit at work in us) & that the world would know that we belonged to Him based on the love we showed for one another.

He talked about the very real consequence of pretending to know Him & living that lie. In the end, these people will be told, ‘Go away from Me, I never knew you’ and they will meet their eternity with fire. It’s not a pleasant outcome. We must be careful not to deceive ourselves.

Listen to John, someone who walked with Him & personally learned from Him:

“We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:1-4‬ ‭NLT

John saw Jesus, touched Him, ate with Him, had an actual relationship with Him. In reality, they were friends. John was His student/disciple and Not only hung on His every word, but was able to put what he learned into practice in a very real space with Him, receiving feedback & gaining a better understanding from the experience. This is reality & relationship.

If we claim to know Jesus, then we had better spend time with Him. It’s not just a mental download of facts, but a real, functioning relationship that grows over time. Jesus promised us closeness through the Holy Spirit & that comes from personal familiarity, time spent and walking in obedience to His call on our lives. Jesus won’t keep us at an arm’s length if we are intentionally pursuing relationship with Him. He is open & ready to receive us, no matter what, & we can have confidence in Him because of that. He wants depth & a quality relationship with us. He wants us to draw near. He will never do anything to inhibit us from knowing Him better, make it too hard to do so along the way.

But it’s always, always a two way street. We must pursue Him as He has pursued us. We must be devoted to Him as He is devoted to us. We must understand the reality of our relationship with Him, being discipled/changed by Him, & know that He is our Lord & Master, not just some friend from school or a celebrity that we have memorized facts about.

If we claim to know Him, then we must truly know Him, spending time with Him, growing in real relationship with Him through prayer, the reading of the Word & putting it into practice under the umbrella of His love & grace. And when we do? Then we can truly live what we truly know. Thank God for grace through faith in Him along the way!

He makes it all possible.

Runaway

It takes a great deal of personal discipline to break from being busy. It’s no small feat to step away from an established routine.

How many people do you know that complain about being busy then go on to explain why each and every activity and commitment is worth the suffering they put themselves through? It’s like listening to someone who is trying to quit smoking, explaining how they hate what it does to them while they light the next one up.

We all do this, don’t we? This isn’t ‘someone else’s’ problem this is something we all do, something we all have to deal with. We feed into the madness of our schedule, act like we don’t have a choice in the matter, & then keep on pressing into the crazy cycle like we actually love it.

Being busy from time to time isn’t a bad thing. Being productive is, in fact, a good, Biblical call on our lives. We all have things to do for the kingdom, gifts to steward and people to share the Gospel with every day. But God never called us to some crazy, frenetic pace that wears us down, kills our spirit and becomes a new god/idol in our lives.

Instead, we need to learn to say ‘no.’ We need to learn how to put on the breaks & even how to run away from certain things.

Try writing down everything you feel needs to be accomplished this week. Make a list. At first it may seem a little overwhelming to look at everything that calls out to you, to all the tasks that ‘need’ to be done. A million voices calling for your attention, no silence, no peace.

But when we look at that list & we ask God where it’s okay & where we need to cut back…and we really, truly listen to His answer, we will be confronted by what is standing in the way of our peace and our growth in Christ.

Pray over it. Don’t be hasty. Listen to learn, learn to grow, grow to be healthy. Learn what you need to open your heart toward and what you need to say ‘no’ to from one day to the next. And then trust God with the outcome.

A new rhythm in your life that mimics His heart will honor Him & it will bring your heart into a place where you are strengthened to handle that day-to-day pace. This isn’t something that needs to wait until New Year’s Day. This is something to pursue today, tomorrow & the next day. This is the beginning of practicing the presence of Christ.

Run away from chaos. Run away from what pulls you away from time with Jesus. Be responsible with what truly matters & honor God with your time, & the growth that brings you closer to Jesus.

One for the road

So I’ve noticed something over the last few months as I’ve worked bivocationally at the start up of the church plant. It’s not a great revelation, full of life changing news. No angels descended from on high to deliver this to me on a honey-flavored scroll. The simple fact is this: maintaining a healthy devotional life is difficult when you’re commuting to work, making sure the kids are ready for school & dealing with what needs to happen on a day to day basis.

When I was working in a church office, setting my own schedule, it was SUPER easy to carve out intentional time every day (in the office) because it was expected and because I was able to set that time for myself.

Today, I’m sitting at the Trolley station around the corner from my house, waiting to ride to work. This is typically a good time for me, because I don’t have to drive the Trolley. But if I was driving to work, I’d have to use some sort of audio resource, but that would still feel a little shallow, it would come up a little short.

I’ve preached it before, I’ve taught it in classes, I’ve shared it over cups of coffee and it’s still true: nothing beats dedicated, concentrated time spent with the Word and some way to record those moments. We need time to chew on the Word, space to soak it in, to marinate in it so we can really listen to what is being said.

And that’s what is key, that we listen.

“Hear, O Israel!”

“He who has ears to hear (spiritually) let Him hear!”

If we’re going to use our commute time in the best way, then we need to cut our distractions down and leave that space for God to speak.

No, don’t drive and journal. That’s a bad idea. But you can pray out loud and have a convo with God over the passage you read and write down your take always at stop lights or when you get to your destination.

Listen to podcasts that echo where you are in your study time, catch a sermon on the radio if you can…just use that time well.

Even if that means you use your skateboard as a desk to create that space. Hey, it works for me. Do whatever you need to do & make the time.

You’ll never regret it.

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