Monday, June 22, 2015

Sow So

I had a novel idea this year when it came to my garden. I decided to plant what I actually wanted to eat! Amazing huh? Well, in previous years I continued to plant things that I found fun to watch grow, but not so fun to eat. Zuchinni, squash, eggplant for example. Lovely veggies, but not on the top of my list personally. I love greens (kale, spinach), peppers (hot and mild) and plenty of herbs to spice up my kitchen.

          After all, you should sow what you want to reap. (see what I did there?)

However, in reading through Proverbs 6 today after reflecting with my wife, I come across this passage (emphasis added by me) ...
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
If we take a look at that word discord, among some of the more popular definitions, I found three key words that were common throughout:

      Lack of Harmony
         Unpleasant in Nature

How would one sow disagreement, lack of harmony, or even just something unpleasant? I can think of no better weapon to cause that type of destruction than our very own words. The tongue continues to be such a deadly weapon against humanity.

"Did God really say?" ... sowing discord from the beginning ...

Additonally, let us not forget two other words mentioned in that passage; hate and abomination. This is not an issue our Lord takes lightly. The church is a place for us to grow in Christ, not in the flesh. Christ at the head, but still with imperfect human leadership. We need to remember that just because we disagree with something, does not mean we are right. We need to come together to seek His Word through our differences, not the desires of our flesh. Pride will be a forever present enemy of our own self, and the church.
... and one who sows discord among brothers.
We all have a group of friends we are more comfortable with, we connect with, and God has led us to. We need to be the ones that as soon as we see discord rear its ugly head in our own sphere of influence, we snuff it out.

With what though?


Meditate on that word for a moment ... right now ...


Perhaps when we think about it at home, in our church group, or even with our workplace relationships and beyond, we can ask ourself one simple question during a discussion:

Is love present?

Do I sense discord, or love?
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 ESV)
God so loved, so we love.


Breaking a Commandment: by Thanking God

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain." - Exodus 20:7 
When you think about taking God’s Name in vain, what do you think about? For me, a few examples immediately come to mind which I do not even want to put in print. I’ve also talked before about hearing or seeing many individuals, even Christians, use the acronym OMG. The use is equally insulting, even if the claim is that the letter G is not God but goodness. It doesn't change the implication that in our culture that acronym is more commonly known otherwise. I strongly feel we need to abstain from any use of such terminology.

Regardless, slipping up in this area is very rare for me; so while not perfect, I got this commandment pretty well under control right? Well, He has opened my eyes to things that I previously have not seen. Perhaps, some of these may surprise you, but here are some recent examples of my sinful use of taking His Name in vain.

  • Only by the Grace of Jesus Christ
  • Thank you Jesus
  • Help me Lord
               Confused? I’ll try to explain.

On our way to my father’s house for a small gathering for Father’s Day, we needed to stop by Kroger to pick something up. I dropped my wife off at the door and proceeded to park the vehicle while she ran in the store. (This particular Kroger needs a serious logistics expert to come in as their parking system is, well … anyway, I digress.) I wasn’t frustrated at all, in fact it was a beautiful day and I was quite relaxed, even with the parking lot chaos. I did end up finding a parking spot after a while, but it was only shortly before my wife was done and already walking to the car. She gets in the vehicle, we smile at each other, and she makes a comment that she was surprised I actually found a parking spot. I smile back and reply: “It was only by the Grace of Jesus Christ I found one, this lot is crazy.”

Ouch. Really Matt? The Grace of Jesus Christ is reduced to a parking spot privilege?

While we can have a separate conversation on the little blessings of life, and God’s involvement, this had nothing to do with that; the issue here is about sincerity.  I was not meditating on the immeasurable gift of Grace through Christ … I really wasn't even thanking God, I was making joke; a joke of Grace. Unintentionally, sure, but no longer as it has now been brought into the Light.

     ... but let us take a brief step back.

If we go to the passage from Exodus above, the word shav’ (transliterated) is used for the word vain. When the definition is examined, one word keeps coming up to describe this word; emptiness. If there is one thing that the Lord’s Name is not, It is empty.

This can at times even be seen in the seemingly innocent phrase: Thank You Jesus.

Are my thanks to Jesus like someone passing me salt at the dinner table, where I may not even make eye contact while I quietly utter the words thanks? Worse, is it like my example above, almost made in jest? Or is it similar to when I receive a gift from my wife, look at her in the eyes, smile, and thank her from my heart?

Thanking God doesn’t always require deep meditative thought. In fact, like any relationship, I think as we draw closer to Him, the more we will react in thanks; even for the very small things ... so long as it holds meaning. Many times I quickly thank Him for something and it is honest, true, and sincere. However there are other times ...

Simply put, are our words empty, or full of meaning? What about these phrases:

  • We’ll have to get together soon.
  • I’ll be praying for you.
  • If you need anything, let me know.
They sound wonderful, but do they have a fullness behind them when they leave our lips? I'm sure we all have lifted individuals up in heartfelt prayer, but I'm willing to guess we have also failed to do so, or do so with an attentive heart as we approach the King of Kings at His Throne in prayer.

May our words build ...
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
May our words bring Him glory ...
"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)
... and may they never be shav' ... empty.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Toothbrush Thoughts

  • Yes this is a tile wall
  • Yes this is in a shower
  • Yes this is my shower
  • Yes that's a decision tree
  • Yes that's a poor representation of a decision tree, but it fit my tiles and my thoughts for today so well ... anyway ... now that that's out of the way, let's continue ... ;)

I'm about to give you a small glimpse into my mind. I apologize in advance for any therapy needs that this may create. It's not my intention to hurt your brain, just a thought that came to mind. I felt I should share more of these, as after all, His Path, Daily is indeed an opportunity for me to share how God is active in my life on a daily basis.

In the shower? Yes ... now stop the tangents ... focus.

Oh look, shiny bunny ...

So I'm sitting here brushing my teeth in the shower; OK, standing. And I start thinking about my teeth, dental hygiene, yada yada and my mind starts to wander to the past. I pondered orthodontist appointments when I was a kid ... and then I remembered extractions. Not the most glorious thought, but whatever, it's in the past. Then I started thinking that I should visit the dentist again soon (sometime in the next few years probably, right?) ... anyway ... remembering past cleanings, xrays, and then the thought of wisdom teeth came to mind! Because of my earlier extractions, and recent visits to the dentist, I was told that I may not need removals because I may have just enough room ... but what if I didn't?!

Then my mind went to the procedure ... and anesthesia ... local? general? Oh boy, I've never had general anesthesia! What if I am sleeping and I still feel pain like some of those terrible stories! *chokes on toothpaste* ... Or what if I go to sleep and ... well ... ah!

Brushing my teeth is scary!

OK, perhaps not. However my point drifts back up to my photo. I stared at the tile wall and imagined a decision tree on the wall. I was reminded that I am pondering something not only in the future, but something that may not even happen. I imagined each square being a decision tree going forward, and was reminded that God doesn't want us to leave the future to Him because He wants us to be in the dark, but so we can remain in the light. Worry, anxiety, and wanting control over things in the future does not do well for our flesh, soul, and even those around us as we react to these negative thoughts.

And friends, this I know I am not alone on.

You may be thinking that this post is about as unoriginal as they come. Don't worry about the future. You've heard it so many times. Of course you have ... but I think you need to hear it every day, I know I do.

Perhaps when I jump in the shower next time, I won't see a decision tree with spider webs ahead of me, but rather a neat list of choices in front of me; for today.

So what do you need to think about ... today?

Just make those decisions ... and when we brush our teeth, or brush off yesterday, we can freshly look with proper focus on the present.

And for the best part? God isn't just holding our future ... He's with you holding your present.


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