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Groundhog Day

Proverbs 30:24-28

I guess I missed school the day they explained why people think a furry rodent can predict the weather. Can someone please help me understand? Oh, I know about Puxatony Phil. I’ve seen the movie. But the tradition itself, I’m not sure how something like Groundhog Day even gets started.

Predicting the future would be a useful talent. If I knew then what I know now I would have invested heavily in Google and Walmart. Did you hear? Facebook is filing a $5 billion – that’s BILLION with ‘B’ – IPO. I should have ‘friended’ Mark Zuckerburg. Being able to predict the future would come in handy.

Knowing the specifics of our future could make us ubber-wealthy or scare the schlamuckin out of us. Either way, history has proven we won’t know for sure what’s around the corner until we turn the corner to see for ourselves. Accurately predicting the future may not be in the cards, but we can prepare for it.

Those who appear to be the best at predicting the future are almost always the ones most prepared to meet it.

Andy Stanley talks about the principle of the path – you are where you are today because of choices you made yesterday. The course you take in the future is determined by the choices you make today. What steps will you take today to prepare for tomorrow? Here’s a quick inventory:
  • You have a family – What choice do you need to make today to strengthen your relationship with your wife and kids tomorrow?
  • You have a job – What decisions have you avoided that keep you from being satisfied with your career?
  • You have a spiritual life – Have you ignored it? Will you grow deeper in character, stronger in your walk with God and more certain of your own eternal purpose?
  • You may be involved in a church, small group or charitable organization – Are you prepared to receive new people, serve more effectively and increase the scope of your group’s influence?

We may never be able to accurately and consistently predict specific details of our future but we can prepare for it. Spring is coming whether that groundhog sees his shadow or not.

Fighting the Ugly

Romans 7:15-25

When I visit amusement parks, ballgames, concerts, community festivals, basically any public event, I’m always reminded of one simple truth.

The world is filled with ugly people.

That may not be politically correct to say out loud, but it’s easy to prove both statistically and scientifically. There are entire websites devoted to weird looking people at WalMart! Face it, ugly people far outnumber pretty ones. I think that may be why Hollywood is so popular. It’s a place for pretty people to gather and flaunt their pretty-ness.

Like slaves in the Roman Empire I think it’s time for ugly people to rise up and demand their place in the spotlight!

But that’s really the problem, isn’t it? Ugly is already in the spotlight. It’s not the ugly defined by physical comeliness or attractive beauty. It’s the ugly that comes from inside, the ugly that stains the soul. No matter how much make up, exercise, or Photoshop editing, regardless of the sparkle or shine on the outside the ugly inside has a way of making it’s way out. It’s why pretty people get divorced. It’s what tarnishes the beauty of success and strangles satisfaction.

The ugly inside, regardless of our external circumstance, finds a way to make its way out and corrodes even the most pristine of appearances. So how do we fight the ugly?

Powerless

It’s a principle from Celebrate Recovery. We must recognize we are powerless, on our own, to overcome the ugly inside. The ugly has a source. It’s our own heart. We need a change of heart that will lead to a change of mind, attitude and action. We can slap on some new paint. We can turn over a new leaf. But until we have a change of heart we’ll only find old dirt.

Heart change is Jesus’ specialty. You can trust Him to lovingly work in you and through you to remake you into someone beautiful from the inside out.

Patience

Real change takes time. Whatever ugly is in you has been there from birth and has been reinforced through your life experiences. Patience with yourself and with others gives you the space – think bandwidth – you need for genuine transformation to take place.

Practice

Repetition is a powerful tool. Repetition is a powerful tool. Repetition is a powerful tool. Getting it right once isn’t enough. Get it right again. Then again. Then do it again. Take one step at a time and when you experience a setback get up and get on with it. The team that wins the Super Bowl, the artist giving the concert – they made it that far through hours and hours of practice.

I could give you more bullet points, but none of that matters without a change of heart. That’s not a change you can make on your own. Trust Jesus with your ugly today.

 

 

A Comfortable Scandal – Teaching

The world loves a good scandal. Crazy people at WalMart are beating each other up over $2 waffle irons. Evangelistic Atheist, Christopher Hitchens, and wildcard Korean leader, Kim Jong Il passed away, both finally experiencing with definitive certainty the eternal answer to questions they so cleverly denied. Perhaps Kim Jong Sun will lead with greater wisdom. Either way –

Scandalous new travels fast!

There’s a comfortable scandal that takes place everyday in the hearts of Believers. There’s a subtle line of obedience we simply aren’t willing to cross. We hear what Jesus has to say. We agree in spirit and nod our heads in affirmation until we realize He’s talking about us. That’s where the scandal lies. We follow Jesus until He asks us to do something seemingly difficult, counter-cultural, or just plain inconvenient. This isn’t new. John 6:66 tells us it happened during Jesus time as well. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with him no more.” They came to the line they simply weren’t willing to cross. Scandalous…

There are 4 reasons why we walk away. And 4 ways to take the leap of faith Jesus asks us to make when He challenges us to do the difficult, impractical or inconvenient. Most everyone has drawn a line that says, “Jesus, I’m willing to follow you this far, but no farther.” I wonder, as you consider these 4 things how you might redraw your line.

4 Scandalous Distractions that Set the Limits of Our Faith

  1. Temptation – read more >
  2. Trials – read more >
  3. Teaching
  4. Transitions

Today – let’s focus on Teaching.

TEACHING – Most people don’t say it out loud, but it’s true. Some of the things the Bible teaches come across as difficult, strange or down-right impossible to do. Jesus tells the crowd to ‘eat his flesh and drink his blood’. We’re commanded to ‘love our enemies’. We’re told to forgive and help those who spitefully use us. We may like the sound of what we hear, but the practicality of actually living these words sometimes gets complicated. We draw the line and walk away, just like the disciples of John 6:66OBEDIENCE is really the only real way to handle the more difficult teachings of Scripture. We may not always like it or understand it, but God knows best. His ways are pure and right. As everyone left Jesus he turned to those closest to Him, His 12 Disciples, and said, “Are you going to leave me too?” Peter gives a remarkable response. He says, “Where would we go? You have the words of life. We have come to know and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” In those moment when our faith is tested because of difficult teaching we need to obey; not out of obligation, logic or reason; not because some preacher said you had too; not because obedience will make God love us more – it doesn’t – but because Jesus has the words of life.

There’s more to this story – especially when considering the arguments of brilliant men like Christopher Hitchens or the agressive dismissiveness of someone like Kim Jong Il. My mom used to say, “Whether or not you believe in the spiritual reality behind the principles taught in Scripture your life and relationships will be measurably better if you live by what it says.” I’ve found this to be true. I may not always like what I read. There may be parts I find difficult to understand or accomplish. But one way or the other, in the simple, yet profound words of Scripture, I find life.