Friday, May 28, 2010

Spiritual Entropy

"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." (Hebrews 2:1)

I've wrapped up my slow and intentional read of "Leading on Empty" and have been struck with my need to continue developing a very intentional life rather than reactionary. Part of seeking to lead an intentional life means one must be willing to consistently monitor and assess which requires margin. The need for this is clearly stated in the book where the author writes "Entropy, or the gradual decline back into a mediocre lifestyle defined by habit and reaction, is natural."

Even though I have been following Christ for 30+ years now, there is little doubt that I am still needing to grow. A reactionary life (defined in my last blog post) leads one to the pathway of mediocrity at rates that sometimes leave me feeling overwhelmed. How true the words from Hebrews that remind us of our need to give time and attention to an intentional life so as to avoid the spiritual drift into mediocrity that we are all susceptible to.

At the young/middle age of 38, I am beginning to realize that all the energy and good intentions I had for Christ in my 20's doesn't come as easy anymore. There is so much vying for my attention in life that I have a tendency to drift into a state of spiritual entropy whereby I am putting out mediocre "religious product" (heard a sermon last Sunday on this) at best. In fact, I would wager a guess that many other pastors/ministry teams/churches/boards struggle with this as well.

Spiritual entropy describes the North American church and reminds me of many of the warnings given to the 7 churches in Revelation. If we are to ever overcome this in our churches, then I need to make sure I am doing my part to live an intentional life so as to make a difference to the glory and honor of Jesus in whatever part of His vineyard He chooses to use me throughout the rest of my days here on earth!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Life of Reaction?

I was doing some reading and thinking on yet another concept drawn from the book "Leading on Empty" that I've been slowly wading my way through. In the later part of this book, the author challenges one to think about the life course they are choosing to walk.

One of the courses depicted was "A Life of Reaction". Here is how this life course is described; "With this paradigm - a life of reaction - we plod forward until something forces us to change direction... A life of reaction is a life lived in the twilight realms between conservatism and activism, hope and dejection, passive indifference and compulsive hyperactivity. It is a disorienting, sometimes dangerous way to live, but the majority of people have chosen this lifestyle, most of them by default."

Needless to say, this statement got me thinking hard. The ultimate challenge of the books is for us as Christ followers to pursue a life of intentionality firmly rooted and grounded in Christ, His Word and His priorities for our lives. It's worth chewing on and I will be doing it for a while as I want to do all I can do to finish well the course of life God has set me on.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Parting Words...

One of my favorite books of the Bible if not my favorite is 2 Timothy. I have always appreciated the heartfelt words of the apostle Paul to his beloved son in the faith, Pastor Tim (Timothy), as Paul's life is coming to an end. But this week, I have also spent some time in 2 Peter as the church family gets ready to embark into a study of this letter. This letter also contains parting words as the apostle Peter recognizes his death is imminent (2 Peter 1:13-15).

As I thought about these two letters from the Bible, I could not help but ask myself what my parting words would be if I had a chance to write them out shortly before my death. To be honest, I am not sure I have a solid answer yet, so I am going to keep wrestling with it. But it does cause one to pause and ask yet again what type of legacy am I leaving with my family, my co-workers, my church family. Very sobering thoughts to say the least.

I also got thinking about the fact that not everyone gets the opportunity to take the time to reflect upon what parting words they would leave in writing for others. With that in mind, here are a few other thoughts that have challenged my heart this past week...

First, does my life regularly reflect an intimate knowledge of Jesus as seen in my day to day words and deeds? If so, I can confidently go at any point and know that my daily life represented a legacy that consistently pointed people towards my Savior.

Secondly, I can't let any amount of time go by with hurtful words/actions hanging over any relationship. How sad to think that my parting words/actions to someone else I love would be anything but God honoring.

There are a whole lot of other thoughts floating around in my head right now, but the parting words of the apostle Peter sure got me thinking quite a bit this week.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Let the Obedience Training Begin for My Dog and I

Yesterday I did something I swore I would never do... I took my dog to obedience training. All in all he is a good dog and we enjoy him as a family, but lately he has been testing the waters by trying to be at the very top of the family pyramid as boss. So off the five of us headed for not group lessons, but private. All in all it went very well and we've already figured out a few things that are helping already, but I couldn't help but take away a few spiritual lessons from the day.

First, I can be a lot like my dog with God. Even though I know He is to be master and Lord of my life, I often find myself through my words and deeds trying to climb the hill of independence and be the boss of my life. When I take these steps, I am in essence telling God that He can take the back seat as I set up self as the primary ruler of my heart.

Secondly, disobedience leaves me feeling unsettled. My dog is at his craziest when he is trying to rule the roost. It leaves him feeling unsettled, nervous and more out of control than when he is submitting to his master. This is true for me as well. Even though trying to be the boss of my own life sounds like a great idea with incredible freedom, life gets most out of control when I forget who the master of my heart really is.

Finally, I am most at peace and content when walking in obedience to my God. Our dog is a joy to be around when we have the pecking order right and he is living in obedience to his master. This is true in the Christ followers life as well. Even though we live in a culture that states personal independence trumps all authority in our lives, the greatest peace, contentment and joy comes when we live in submission and obedience to God and His Word.

I guess both my dog and I need to prepare ourselves for a lifetime of obedience training. It just goes better for all involved when we both obey our different masters.