Tag Archives: Wrong

One of the Things We Continually Get Wrong

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 21:13 (NIV)

I have a notebook in which I keep thoughts, notes, and ideas that come to me at odd times. In this notebook I have a series of messages I’d like to give someday. The working title of the series is The Things We Continually Get Wrong. It’s about the common thoughts and beliefs I observe followers of Jesus continually embrace (and, I confess, that I sometimes catch myself embracing) despite what God’s Message teaches and two millenia of examples provide.

One of the things on my list of The Things We Continually Get Wrong is the notion that God’s will is for all of us is to be healthy, wealthy and wise in the temporal and material sense. There are plenty of teachers and preachers willing to tell us that (usually as they ask people to give them money), yet those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus often find a very different reality.

As I read today’s chapter I thought about Paul’s resolute decision to travel to Jerusalem, despite being told by both God and prophetic believers that it would not end well for him. Paul is on a mission, and as Luke describes the events I couldn’t help but think of how Luke also described Jesus’ in Luke 9:51: As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem[emphasis added]

Now, Paul is following in Jesus’ footsteps, and he knows it.

This morning I’m again reminded of our human desire to cling to this life and avoid death [see yesterday’s post]. It’s a natural desire, but it’s another thing I find that we continually get wrong as believers. If I truly believe what Jesus taught, what Jesus exemplified, and what I see Paul doing in today’s chapter, then I must embrace the notion taught in the old timey spiritual:  This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through. Paul, like Jesus before him, is pressing the events that will lead to his death. This isn’t some act of suicidal desperation, but an act of obedience and sacrifice knowing that the events which will transpire will provide the platform for Paul to share the Message in unparalleled ways with people he would otherwise never reach.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, while those willing to lose their lives will find it.”

A Million Choices

“…all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God….”
Deuteronomy 28:2 (NRSV)

When I was a young man I made an observation as I hung out with my friends. I watched as my friends made snarky retorts to their parents and the argumentative escalation that inevitably occurred and usually ended with some sort of punishment. I would see the willful choices others would make to do what they knew was wrong, and the trouble that it eventually afforded them. I was not a perfect kid, and I did my share of stupid things, but more often than not I realized that there was a peace in life that came with simply doing the right thing.

As I read the chapter this morning I was struck by the list of blessings that were promised to God’s people if they would obey His commands. While some of these blessings are divine in nature, there are many blessings on that list which are simply the natural consequences of consistently choosing to do what you know is right in life and relationship.

Life is both crazy and stressful. The journey is hard. I can make it more difficult with poor choices in the way I live, act, think, speak, and relate to others. I can also assure myself a certain level of peace by choosing daily to live, act, think, speak, and relate to others in a way that is good and right.

The day lies before me with a million choices to be made of thought, word, and action. How I choose in each moment will make a huge difference in how this day ends, in stress or peace.

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Chapter-a-Day Deuteronomy 16

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Image by stevelyon via Flickr

The right! The right! Pursue only what’s right! It’s the only way you can really live and possess the land that God, your God, is giving you. Deuteronomy 16:20 (MSG)

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day, and he related an experience from his day. Standing at the teller of the local office of the County Treasurer, he was registering a used car he’d just purchased. When asked how much he’d spent to purchase the vehicle he had a momentary mental struggle. If he simply gave an amount that was a few hundred, maybe a thousand, lower than what he actually paid, he would have to pay less tax to register the vehicle.

“Truth wins out,” he heard inside his head, inside his heart. And the struggle yet ensued. There were, I’m sure, all sorts of arguments for being dishonest. It’s not a great amount, no one would know, and who really cares if the government gets a few dollars less on a registration tax in the grand scheme of things. “Truth wins out,” his conscience whispered. Or, perhaps it was Holy Spirit.

He gave the true amount of the purchase, paid the proper amount for registration, and slept much better that night.

I thought of my friend when I read today’s chapter. Little white lies and small dishonesties are easy to get away with. We think very little about them, but perhaps we should heed the challenge in today’s chapter to actively pursue what is right. Little dishonesties have a tendency to grow in unexpected ways and require further deception. Doing what’s right in the little things clears the conscience and paves the way for doing right in much more substantial life matters.

Indeed, “truth wins out” in many ways.

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Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 56

Good night, sleep tight. "God's Message: "Guard my common good: Do what's right and do it in the right way…." Isaiah 56:1 (MSG)

Along the journey, I've faced certain crossroads at which I had to make a difficult decision. Often, the decisions were difficult because the consequences of the choices I made would be relational and or financial and the impact of the decision would follow me one way or another.

Part of the decision making process for me has been to ask "What's the right thing to do?" With it, I tend to ask myself "What decision will allow me to sleep better at night?" There is something to be said for a clear conscience. To sleep peacefully at night knowing you've done things right and in the right way.

Looking back, I know that I haven't always made the best choices. But, as I progress in life's journey I like to think that my batting average has improved. I've learned that the choice which immediately satisfies my pride and hubris is usually the one that haunts me in the wee hours of the night. The choice that forces me to humbly submit, follow Jesus, and take the narrow, more difficult terrain (a.k.a. the high road) is ultimately the path which afffords me the best night's sleep.

Sleep tight.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and prisspetite

Chapter-a-Day Exodus 1

Deep roots. But the midwives had far too much respect for God and didn't do what the king of Egypt ordered; they let the boy babies live. Exodus 1:17 (MSG)

Interesting. I just wrote a post on my professional blog about principles, and the start of our journey through the book of Exodus seems to pick up on the same theme. There are moments in each of our lives when we must make a choice. We can do the expedient thing or we can do the right thing. It's easy for me to say I'll do the right thing, but these choices sometimes have to be made in the heat of a stormy moment when we're all alone.

The midwives could have made a great case for doing what they were told, being obedient to authority, and saving their own lives.  But they had too much respect for God

I think everyone has certain principles, if you ask them. The real question that interests me is: "In whom are your principles rooted?" If my principles are rooted in a higher authority, l find it a whole lot easier to stand amidst the storm and make right choices. If my principles are rooted in myself - my own sense of right and wrong, I find that what is "right" seems to expediently shift with the prevailing wind.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and amandochka

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