On selfishness

Early last Tuesday morning, I was packing up to drive down to Pensacola, Florida with my oldest daughter and my two youngest children. My oldest daughter is dating a young man who is stationed there for the Navy and she invited me to join her. (Yay! What a wonderful opportunity!)

We were trying to leave at 7 a.m. and I was racing around looking for any final things we needed to bring. My husband was sitting at the dining room table reading his Bible – usually a very praiseworthy thing in my eyes. And then it happened. He asked me to get him a cup of coffee.

The thing is, every morning before I teach online, I make him a cup of coffee to take with him to work. It’s just one tiny thing I can do to serve him and let him know how much I appreciate him.

But that particular Tuesday morning, boy, it made me mad. Here I was, rushing around to pack the car and grab last minute stuff for our trip, and he’s sitting there reading his Bible and he wants a cup of coffee.

Are any of you thinking, “Wow. That’s so selfish.”  I sure was.

[Before you read any further, please know that my husband and I have already discussed this and he encouraged me to post this.]

But here’s the deal, the real deal.

That’s me. That man sitting at the table reading his Bible while the rest of the family is rushing around — as painful as it is to share this with y’all — that’s me.

And, dare I say it aloud or type it out on my little phone keyboard, but I feel all super-spiritual while I’m sitting there. I’m thinking to myself, “They should’ve gotten up earlier. Why are they rushing around? They’re so unorganized.” Or some other such self-righteous thoughts.

Somehow it is so much easier to see the speck in someone else’s eye than the log in my own. I think Jesus talked about that sometime.

In all honesty, who was the selfish one here? Truth be told, both of us. 

Here I was, heading out of town for a week in Florida, while my husband stayed back to work and take care of the dog … and I’m complaining about getting him a cup of coffee. I wish that I could look not only to my own interests but also to the interests of others. I wish that I could serve others like Christ served me. Jesus did so much more than get me a cup of coffee with a quick-as-a-wink Keurig machine.

Father, I pray that you would give me your strength to love and serve others like you loved and served to me. I thank you for the blessing it is to have a husband to get coffee for. I thank you for the blessing it is to have a husband who reads the Bible. I thank you for the blessing it is to have a daughter who invited me to come with her younger siblings to bring along. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that convicts me of sin and shows me my own self-righteous, deceitful heart. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning and that you are faithful and just to forgive us of sin and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Father, I pray for the strength to turn away from selfish motives and desires. Give me a heart like yours. Amen.

Of Authors and Authority

Have you ever really thought about the word “authority?”

When Jesus finished his great “Sermon on the Mount” (found in Matthew 5-7), which includes such oft-quoted passages as the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer and the story of the wise man who built his house on the rock, “the crowds were astonished at [Jesus’s] teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29 ESV)

Jesus’s teaching had power. Jesus wasn’t just quoting somebody else. Jesus wasn’t just repeating other people’s rules. Jesus had authority to tell people what to do.

Like when other people’s children come over to my house, they have to follow my rules. Jesus, as the Almighty Creator-God, has total authority to tell us, His Creation, how we ought to live.

Then, in Matthew 28:18 (ESV), after Jesus has been resurrected and is about to ascend to heaven, we again find the word “authority.” Jesus told His followers, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

What an encouragement that is to me! Jesus has total authority over heaven and earth. Whether you or I recognize it or not, whether we submit to Him or not, God is in charge over heaven and earth. Jesus has complete authority over our lives.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV), we are told to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I love this passage. Really, I love all of Hebrews 12. (I give you permission to stop right now and go read all of Hebrews 12, then come right back!)

Looking at various translations of Hebrews 12:2, KJV and NKJV translates “founder and perfecter” as “author and finisher of our faith,” and NASB translates it “author and perfector of faith.”

In English I see a connection between Jesus having all authority in heaven and earth, and Jesus being the author and finisher of faith.

Jesus wrote our faith and Jesus finished our faith. He is our perfect example. He is both the main character and He is the author. All things were made through Him and for Him.

Because Jesus has been given all authority in Heaven and on earth, so we must obey His commands and walk in His ways. And because He is the author and the finisher of our faith, we can place our complete trust in Him, looking towards Him as we run with endurance this race that He has set before us.

How does Jesus having all authority encourage you?

How does Jesus being the author and perfector of faith strengthen you to run with endurance the race God has set before you?

What is God calling you to do — or not do — today?

TWIG

About Apologies

After almost 25 years of marriage, and raising four children, I’ve both given my fair share of apologies and received them. I’ve instructed my children to accept responsibility for their actions and apologize far more times than I can count.

For the past two months, our women’s Sunday morning class has been watching a series of videos called, “Resolving Everyday Conflicts” by Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Ministries. They are available for free through RightNow Media if your church has a RightNow Media account. Or you can find the DVD or the book online at Christian Book Distributors.

I found Session 5, “Accepting Responsibility, Making an Effective Apology,” to be particularly helpful. The speaker shared seven A’s for an effective apology.

  • Address Everyone Involved
  • Avoid If, But, and Maybe
  • Admit Specifically
  • Apologize, Acknowledging the Hurt
  • Accept the Consequence
  • Alter your Behavior
  • Ask for Forgiveness and Allow Time

In light of this recent teaching, the interaction between Adam and Eve and their Creator in Genesis 3 jumped out at me.

After eating the forbidden fruit, God asked Adam two pretty simple questions, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Adam replied, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)

Then, God asked Eve a pretty simple question as well, “What is this that you have done?”

Eve replied,  “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

How many times have I asked my children similar questions and received similar answers?

  • Me: “Did you finish your homework?”
    Child: “I didn’t know how, and you weren’t home to help me.”
  • Me: “Have you taken out the trash like I asked?”
    Child: “The dumpster was full.”
  • Me: “Did you put away your laundry?”
    Child: “I forgot.”
  • Me: “Who made this mess?”
    Child: “He did.”

And the list goes on and on.

Since the very first sin, mankind has struggled to take responsibility for our actions. Adam blamed the woman for giving him the fruit, as well as blaming God for giving him the woman. Eve blamed the serpent for deceiving her. Our children blame others or their circumstances, including their own forgetfulness, for their shortcomings. And we blame our children or our husband or our neighbor or the traffic or the dog … for ours.

How do you struggle with accepting responsibility for your own sin?

Who do you usually blame when you mess up?

How can you improve in being genuinely repentant and seeking reconciliation when you’ve fallen short?

Rather than reading this post and thinking of how messed up your kids, or your parents, or your husband or your wife is … let’s try instead to focus on our own responsibility in the problem. And seek God God who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, and who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

TWIG

By the way, I found this article helpful. “Seven Marks of a Good Apology (and 8 Marks of a Bad One)” at Crosswalk’s website. It outlines each of these 7 marks of a good apology in more detail.

Reading through the Bible in a Year

I’m using the YouVersion Bible app to read through the Bible. I really like the audio of the ESV Bible in YouVersion because the reader is so good. (And, by the way, it’s free!)

I usually listen to the Bible read aloud at night when I’m getting ready for bed and then listen to the same passages in the morning as I’m getting ready. Then I sit down to focus more on what I’ve read and reflect on it.

Today I started a reading plan called, “Solid Life Whole Bible.” You are welcome to join me. You can get an account on YouVersion and send me a friend request. My name is easy to search for.

The first day’s reading was Genesis 1, Luke 1 and Jude. I like reading from the Old Testament and the New Testament each day. I like to see the whole story of God laid out together. I love to see how God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

God has always been the great Creator. He created the universe and everything in it in six days. He created Adam and Eve in His image. He created John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb even though she was a barren old woman.

God has always been the God of the impossible. Luke 1:37, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Today I’m reminding myself of this, as I’m praying for people I love to know Jesus and praying for strained relationships that seem like they will never get better. I’m reminding myself that if God can change my life, surely He can change others, too. As long as there is breath, there is the possibility for a new beginning. Never give up hope.

God has always been the God of purpose. He had purpose for the sun and moon and stars. He had purpose for light and land and plants and animals. He had purpose for man — the first man and the first woman and the millionth man and the millionth women. He has purpose for me and each of my children.

I especially think of this today as Daniel celebrates his 12th birthday. He is a precious, undeserved gift from the hand of a good Creator-God, the God of the impossible, and the God of purpose. Happy birthday, buddy!