Become Blinded by the Truth

Your Christian Walk: a habit a hobby or a lifestyle

My boss has Celiac disease, which causes a serious allergic reaction to gluten. The body reacts in such a way that it rejects the ingestion of this protein with an angry vengeance. The thing is gluten is such an intricate part of the American diet he often struggles when eating out, which, is more often than not because he travels a lot as part of his job. His dietary lifestyle is so drastically different from the rest of the team we center our team lunches and outings around where he can get a decent gluten-free meal. I often think of what a pain this must be. I mean, he can’t have too many spontaneous food outings or even enjoy a good old fashioned potluck.

I think about how set apart his lifestyle is. I’m reminded that as Christians we are called to be set apart as well. (I Pet. 2:9) We are chosen by God, set aside for his purpose. Yes, we are called to be different. Our lives do not represent the status quo. But too often they do. Too often our Christians walk is not a reflection of what we say we believe. We ascribe to Christian ideals—goodness and kindness and such but our lifestyle plays out in a manner that is flexible and changeable depending on what is going on around us.

 

Is your Christian Walk more of a hobby?

My husband and I like to bike ride. We hit the trails with our mountain bikes when we can but not nearly often enough. In fact although we’ve had the bikes for a couple of years they still have a beautiful glossy finish which gleams as we ride. But we don’t sweat it too much. We’ll ride when we get to it. Those bikes have a cozy spot in the garage.

When our Christian walk is more of a hobby we practice it when we get to it. If we are plunged into a midst of a crisis he suddenly hears our fervent and desperate prayers. Or, there we are at church walking with heads up clutching our bibles while averting the stares of parishioners that give us that “what are you doing here?” stare. And our Bibles are certainly accessible if we need to reference them. But we hardly ever do. After all, they are the same old stories we heard as a kid. Besides, the good Word we hear on the Sundays we visit church is usually enough. No one would mistaken us for anything but a Christian—that’s pretty darn certain. Right?

Is your Christian Walk more of a habit?

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Good habits provide structure and expectation. They make us more predictable and create a definable cadence to our lives. We love to say that we have good habits. Habits may be based on some strong belief system or simply the way we’ve always done things. Going to church may be a habit. It’s a good idea to hear a good, inspiring message to get us through the week. When our Christian walk is a habit we “do” Christian things more often than not and no one would mistake us for anything more than a Christian—and that’s almost a solid fact.

Is your Christian Walk a Lifestyle?

The Bible says that if you are a part of Christ you are a new creature. The old you is gone and there’s a new you. A lifestyle change is broad and far-reaching. You take great means to protect it and nurture it because it is your life.

When your walk is your lifestyle your relationship with Christ becomes more intimate. It is one that is personal and necessary as you seek to please and honor the one that has given life to you. You sacrifice and give up things that were once dear to you but are no longer, because they are an offence to the one with whom you share this relationship.

You shy away from relationships that dishonor Christ. Your lifestyle is changing not in one area but in all.

My boss’s kitchen is quite different from mine—filled with rice and oat flours, Xanthan gum and such. He makes no apologies for the great pangs he takes in selecting restaurants. He never complains. It is his way of life. He protects his health. He doesn’t risk it to appease our group or anyone else because in the end he is the one that would suffer.

A Christian lifestyle is not always convenient for the ones around us. Some may be offended by the way we live. They may find it tediously annoying to witness the careful way we choose to always honor something or someone we cannot see but claim to know.

Are our lives perfectly coiffed? Absolutely not. But as we walk daily he guides us.

With this lifestyle we are more prepared for the obstacles that will surely come our way. Prayer is not awkward monologue as we reach out to a strange, distant bigger than life force. It is dialogue between us and our Creator—it is private, personal and comforting because we know that he hears us. When tempest threaten our peace of mind we may not know what to do but we certainly have access to the One who does. When it is a lifestyle our mental breakdowns lessen. This is not to say that fear won’t creep in but our path is straight and our steps are assured.

The Problem with our Thankfulness

The Problem with our Thankfulness

It is a virtue we’re taught as soon as we can utter words. We say to whether we mean it or not because it is the right thing to do. We go through the motions for fear of being rude or weird or ungracious. The problem is that many of us are not genuinely thankful; we secretly (or openly) live in a state of ingratitude. Well how do we make it real?

Train your Heart

Thankfulness is not instinctive. We are by nature selfish beings. And if we don’t train our hearts to be grateful, we will live in a state of perpetual need—or should I say, never ending want. Most times our unthankful attitudes stem from unmet expectations—we didn’t get what we wanted or deserved or needed. But thankfulness is not be contingent upon receiving something we expect or desire; thankfulness has little to do with the gift but everything to do with the giver. We must train our hearts to appreciate that it has been given to us and not what has been given. At the root it is about love—the love we have for another. It is our ability to recognize and lift up people and not the weight of what they have given us.

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Focus on the Present

Thankfulness forces us to stop and center on the present. Suddenly we must see and appreciate what it is that we possess—not on what we would like to have, not on what we have lost. Even if our thankfulness is on past events or possessions, the present is always our point of reference. Living in the moment allows us to see and take in all of life’s goodness-as little or as plentiful as it may be.

Remember that thankfulness causes us to look into the face of God

Gratefulness opens and expands our capacity to see and receive God’s goodness. All good things come from Him and when we are thankful we are forever reminded of Him. To look upon God is to look into the face of love. And in doing so our hearts are primed to receive all good things. Thankfulness keeps us loving, hopeful and happy.

 

Every Story has Already Been told–except for yours

There is nothing new under the sun the saying goes. Nothing. Everything has been said, seen and done. What is the point? The point is the uniqueness of you–the priceless one-of-a-kind—you.

The problem is we often look at others and covet their experiences or their ability to deftly convey their experience. I believe that each generation has an collectively—as well as its individual voice. The cry of a generation is often thematic and we may not realize what they were trying to convey s until the time has passed. We look back on the 60’s and late 70’s and say that was the hippie generation or the 80’s as the Me generation. But today, now for those stories may be reflective of the times.  Your voice is filled with all of the idiosyncrasies of your time, culture and experience. It cannot be duplicated.

It is unavoidable that you will be influenced by those who have gone before (remember nothing new?) but those that will hear or read your story will be filled with fresh wonderment. God’s beautiful creative power allows us to relive the past without living in the past. A new generation needs to hear your voice. An old generation needs to be reminded of this story.

So do not try to duplicate but reach into your depth and express what God has given you, exactly as he has given it to you. You may be surprised at the results.

I will get there: silencing the voices within

I will get there: silencing the voices within

So I’m winding down for the evening preparing myself for bed and I’m reflecting on my day. I’m a task-oriented person. I tally up what I’ve accomplished for the day and decide whether or not the past 24 hours have been successful. I began my morning in prayer asking God to give me strength for this, help me to be better at that. This particular day I asked for control over my mouth. Teach me Oh Lord how to keep the peace and say only what needs to be said. And Lord, give me patience with my children to give them the attention they need.

I remember this prayer as I’m making the kid’s lunches for the following day.

It is well after 10 at night there’s not much else to be done. It is then I remember the argument I had in the car with Wil; the one I was never gonna have again. He’s packed on the pounds since we’ve moved to the south. For lunch that afternoon he pulled into a McDonald’s and ordered the biggest, juiciest burger they sell—and a side of fries. I sat quietly for a moment remembering my humble prayer; right before I go into a rant about how huge he has become and a treadmill wouldn’t exactly hurt him. He blows me off but I won’t stop because I figured at that point I might as well empty myself. I sigh. Well, I can remove that from my list of things accomplished.

And then as I’m placing lunches in the fridge, I remember my prayer for patience with the kids. In my mind I fast forward to just after school. We were riding home and Jillian goes into a long-winded story about some kid that was being nasty to her. Midway through I’m thinking about what to cook for dinner and how long could this story possibly go on? Ugh. Mommy, you aren’t even listening to me, she asked. I tell her I am. But of course I have no solution to her problem because I only heard half of the story. I roll my eyes up to the ceiling. Geez, that was a bust too.

I go on, checking some things off the list as accomplished, but most others were not. Sometimes it feels like my life is more ebb than flow. Thursday night I’m in bible study and instead of getting into praise and worship I am once again analyzing my failures and weaknesses. I hate this. But I hear His voice say, I will get there. It’s then I realize that we are often harder on ourselves than he could ever be on us. We have lists and rules and so many absolutes we can’t even keep up. But His grace is sufficient. Every day I pray for this or that not realizing that every day he gives me grace to accomplish those things. But I’m not suddenly cured from being impatient or short or unkind. There’s no instant relief or quick fix. Grace is connected with action. As we move and strive he gives us grace, or favor and spiritual strength to do what we need to do. We don’t always feel it. It is not through will power or crossing our fingers. His grace is there. We just need to walk in it by faith. Yes, I am moving in an upwardly direction. In time…I will get there.

My daughter walks into the kitchen later that evening after bible study and asks me about the meaning of Easter. It is late. She needs to be in bed. I am tired. I sit her down at the kitchen island and explain it to her…from the beginning. I am getting there.