“Turn” is my word for this year. Specifically, in baffling or important decisions, turn and ask Jesus first. Sounds like a piece of cake, right? Easier to write than to do, at least for me. You see, I have this hangup. It’s bred into me to say yes and scramble to accomplish whatever need someone presented or whatever good deed needs doing. HOWEVER, this is not biblical. Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t heal everyone in Israel? There were still sick, twisted people when He headed back to Heaven. That’s because He talked over His earthly mission with His Father, every day, all the time. He turned, and then He obeyed. That’s how He managed to be gentle and lowly, even in a human body.
There’s an important truth there. He talked it over with His Father. We call that prayer. The trick, for me and you, is to turn off automatic response in favor of discussing the current situation with Jesus. Sometimes I don’t even get my whole thought out before Jesus starts answering. Sometimes he taps me on the shoulder before I have a thought. Other times I ask and ask and He just says, “I’ve got this.” Finally, of course sometimes I ask Him and He says nothing. That is a dead giveaway that I need to stand in place, not rush off to anywhere. But I’m still practicing, sometimes I still forge mightily ahead and don’t ask.
Nevertheless, He loves me. Whatever his response, I know He loves me and will give me His best answers and His best in everything. So this year, I’m practicing. Won’t you join me? Turn and ask.
I grew up listening to people argue politics and religion while they said it’s okay to talk about anything except politics and religion. Neither one is worth arguing about, and here’s why I think so.
Religion always turns out to be man’s twisted interpretation of what God thinks. Whether you’re talking Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Muslims or whatever. Politics also has the drawback of being dependent upon the interpretations of men. So getting your undies in a twist about either is useless.
A much better plan is to find out about God and apply what you find only to your own life. That should make such a drastic change that people will notice. When they ask what changed, tell them what you found out and how you apply it. Sounds simple, but it’s life-changing and takes a lifetime. And for me, it’s a wild ride. (You’re welcome for one of the world’s shortest blogs.)
I’m studying Exodus. Moses was a reluctant spokesman for God to the pharoah of Egypt. I suspect he may have started out as a people pleaser, as opposed to a God pleaser. I have been called a people pleaser, by others and by my inner voice, Weezer, who is a … bitch.
I have this issue. Here it is. God created us to need each other, to be relational. We need to give and receive love. So when does that become people pleasing?
First, I looked up what a people pleaser does. This is adapted from Psychology Today.
we disobey what God says, or our own moral code, to please a person
we never evaluate the availability of our time or inclination before we say yes
we’re unable to manage our health because we’re overcommitted to others
we make all the plans
we do all this because we live in anxiety from early relationships, and that causes fear of failure or rejection
So, I hit that list on all five points. Great, what do I do? Hebrews 11:27 says this about Moses: “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing Him Who is invisible.” He kept checking in with God, again and again and again. And as he did, he became a God pleaser instead of a people pleaser.
So I made a longer list of how I can do this in practicality. Here you go:
Put time with God early in my day
Track my food
Exercise before I start my “to do” list
Speak up for myself, and remember, the outcome of speaking up is not the issue
Attend events less frequently and use the time to recharge
Identify one responsibility I can cancel to gain free time for myself
Teach people how to behave toward me by rejecting behavior I don’t want
Say no to something small
Express my opinion and learn from people who disagree
So there you go. Next is, practice, practice, practice. And tell your Weezer to shut the hell up.
I’m not going to say anything about the current Coronavirus because I’m not an expert. I am an expert on a few things, though. For instance, I’m fairly certain there’s no earthquake vault under where I live in California because I checked it out when I was taking journalism in college. (Not that we don’t shake a little, but not a lot.) I think I’m an expert on managing dry skin because I have it. Gold Bond Ultimate, just sayin’. (This is not an advertisement, but a recommendation from my doc.) I’m an expert on my hubs, too. Maybe not completely because he keeps changing, but better than anybody else in the world. So that’s me, or some of me.
Who’s an expert? Somebody who’s done the work of finding out. A scientist or MD is an expert on the Coronavirus, or maybe if you want to know what it’s like, someone who’s had it. Due to that fact, I ignore a whole bunch of what I see on Facebook. But I listen to the experts, and follow their recommendations. That’s why you won’t see me in crowds for a while, including church on Sunday, darn it. We need to give the medical people a break by not all catching it together. But I said I wasn’t going to say anything about that. So never mind.
Another expert I pay attention to is that one who’s been in the trenches. If I want to know how to be a mom, I pick a mom who has stayed the course whether her kids are considered successful or not. If I want to learn writing, I listen to a writer who publishes what I want to write. If I want to be a CASA, I listen to people who volunteer as CASAs.
Why am I saying all this? Because there are a lot of folks these days who don’t know how to pick an expert. We ask sports figures how to manage finances, movie stars how to love our kids, radio talk show hosts how to manage our love lives. We even take advice from television shows, say what? Whoa!
Evaluate people! If a sports figure is living high because s/he makes millions, what’s that got to do with you? A. You probably don’t make millions. B. That dude may easily be out of money when s/he blows out her knee or his elbow. Goodbye high life. What about your hardworking parents or neighbors, wouldn’t they be better experts? Did you know that movie stars concentrate most on how to act and look good? Why would that make them an expert on parenting? Famous isn’t informed. How about picking a couple who have raised several kids. They won’t sugar coat it or give you pat answers. They’ll give you the true skinny.
OKay, you say, so where do we go for advice? Go to people who are honest and kind, to people who are humble and wise. Go to people who are willing to help and also admit they are still learning themselves. And I know you may not appreciate this next, but go to God. He’s the expert extraordinaire, and He loves you, so you can trust Him not to steer you wrong.
One last thing. God gets a lot of bad press. People say He lets bad stuff happen for no reason. Not so. Even when God allows bad stuff, there’s a reason. We may not be able to discern it in the moment, but He knows we learn more in bad times than in good. So, as an expert Father, He allows the bad times. And if you don’t believe He loves you, take a look at the world He created for you. EXPERT
I can’t let Toenail Fungus be my last post for 2019, so I’m thinking about Jesus.
He was God and with God until the Holy Spirit planted Him in Mary’s womb. I wonder if He knew in there. Did He know He was love? Did He remember the swimming around after He was born? Did He remember hearing the whispers as she walked about Nazareth? Did He remember coming from Heaven?
Or what about Joseph and Mary? They’re both your regular old garden variety people trying to live the lives God gave them. And then Gabriel appears. I slow down from wrapping presents and picture that. A glowing stranger standing in my house or inhabiting my dream. I wonder if Mary reached for a handy weapon or just sank to the floor, shaking. I wonder if she started thinking hard about what she’d learned of the Messiah. Could this really be happening, right now? In her town? To her? And then he was gone. Wait, did that just happen? Now what? Talk about walking with God. Did she hustle right down to the synagogue and ask the rabbi to haul out the scrolls?
I wonder what travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem was like nearly nine months pregnant. Not by plane, but by donkey. I haven’t ridden a donkey, but I’ve ridden a horse, even pregnant. It’s okay, for a little while, but not for miles. Did she get off and walk just for a break, and then get back on when she got too tired? Was she thinking about how the Rabbi said He’d be born in the City of David, or by this time was she wondering if she’d eaten the wrong thing for dinner, or whether Joseph and Elizabeth had joined her in some kind of insanity? Did God encourage her through those days?
Did she think, “I knew it couldn’t be me who’d mother the Savior,” when the innkeeper put them up in the stable? “Surely, God wouldn’t allow His Son to be born in a barn.”
Or what if I were one of those shepherds? I’m beating the bushes looking for a lamb who’s bleating his head off when the night sky lights up with singing angels. Dude, what is up? I crouch behind a tree. Just because they’re singing doesn’t mean I’m not in trouble. My buddies are caught in the open, and the angels tell them to find a newborn baby lying in a cow manger in a barn. Say what? But I heard it with my own ears. We drive the sheep up the road to Bethlehem, through the town, drawing people to their windows to shew us out. But we’re on a mission. There’s light in a cave just outside town. We stop the sheep just outside and hear a baby cry. Must be the right place. We creep up without words and look in. Look in … your turn.