You’re A Hoarder

bf9dbf97ea8051bc052f2ea2d6268d3eI’m a hoarder. You’re a hoarder. He’s a hoarder. She’s a hoarder. Wouldn’t you like to  be a hoarder, too?

Remember the Dr. Pepper commercial from the 70s? It invited us all to come together in our commonality of drinking Dr. Pepper…although I never cared for it much.

We might have more in common, even in ways we don’t want to admit. Like hoarding.

Anyone who knows me will immediately argue, “You? A hoarder? No way!” I don’t have piles in my house. I go through the mail as soon as it comes in the house and immediately toss anything not essential. I don’t have a dozen (or any) storage units. But I’m still a hoarder.

We all hoard something. Sometimes it’s junk that piles up and becomes a tripping hazard, either physically or emotionally. Other times, it piles up and helps build a firm foundation.

Maybe you hoard friendships. That could be good, if you treasure and care for them, but it could also be bad, if you get territorial and overlook other important areas of your life.

Maybe you hoard memories. That could be good, if you appreciate what you’ve had and learn from the not-so-great moments. But it could also be bad, if you get stuck in the past and refuse to grow forward.

Maybe you hoard status and accomplishments. The influence you have on others along the way could be positive…or negative.

Look around (and inside yourself). What do you hoard? Are you building a solid foundation and continuing forward, or are you constructing a confusing obstacle course?

 

Be Honest with Hypocrisy

24ca621Hypocrisy is nothing new.

Solomon loved the Lord by walking in the statutes of his father David, but he also sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. (1 Kings 3:3)

We judge and are judged by our hypocrisy. Yet it is hypocrisy itself to assume we can completely rid ourselves of it. No matter how other-focused we are, we are still somewhat self-focused. No matter how loving and generous we are, we have remnants of quiet selfishness. No matter how grand our faith is, we have sprinkles of doubt.

When we come across hypocrisy in ourselves or others, we can resist the urge to rationalize it or to dismiss anything it touches. A moment of doubt doesn’t cancel faith. A thought of self doesn’t cancel our concern for others. A struggle with how to respond with grace doesn’t mean our grace, or God’s, isn’t enough.

When we’re honest with our hypocrisy, we’re willing to struggle through it to come through on the other side with a more bold, secure faith. We have a firmer foundation. Yet as we continue to walk on that foundation, we will discover more cracks we need to assess, repair, and sometimes, destroy and rebuild.

Calling someone a hypocrite often exposes our own hypocrisy. Maybe that’s okay. Perhaps it’s the dose of truth we need to admit and change.

Endure For a Little While

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

It sounded like the roofers were coming through our roof.

I stepped outside to check on the progress, and I heard an even louder banging. Our neighbor had someone in his old cistern, breaking it apart with a jackhammer, causing loud booms to echo as the sounds ricocheted among the houses. I heard beeping down the street and glanced to see a city backhoe working on a corner. In the other direction, two construction trucks pulled into a yard to begin working on a front porch.

I felt sorry for anyone in the neighborhood who expected a quiet day. We live in a typically calm area.

There are seasons in our lives that cause a lot of noise and distraction. Those seasons affect people around us, too. As distracting and annoying as the noise can be, in order to grow, we need to endure and invest in those times. Without a new roof, we won’t enjoy the protection through rain, wind, and several feet of snow. Without the demolished old cistern, our neighbor won’t be able to trust the foundation of the new part of his house. Without the backhoe, the water line can’t be maintained and relied upon.

Without intentional maintenance and sacrificial investment, our faith doesn’t grow. We may not like those raucous times when everything seems inconvenient and overwhelming, but God uses those situations and experiences to remind us of His protection…break down what’s getting in the way in order to build something more solid…regularly check, maintain, and improve the lines of communication and nourishment we need to thrive.

What we endure in faith for and with God has eternal consequences that help us every single day.

 

Is Sensitivity a Fault?

BoxTurtle2I was being hard on myself.

Why did I let other people’s tones, attitudes, and issues affect my own? Was I being overly sensitive? Was my sensitivity a bad thing? Was I letting close relationships impact me too much?

Deep breath.

Yes, sensitivity can be a fault. If I’m sensitive to the extent that I let everyone else influence, and even determine, my response, I’m not strong to stand firmly. I have a foundation issue, letting other people build, shake, and destroy, instead of trusting God to guide me in securely placing each stone, brick, board, and nail.

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great! (Matthew 7:24-27)

But I’m not leaving my sensitivity in the rubble. Just because it can be a weakness, it can also be a strength. In fact, it’s an important building block of the foundation God wants me to have. It’s part of who He is.

Without sensitivity, I cannot have compassion for others.

Without sensitivity, I cannot listen well.

Without sensitivity, I cannot authentically invest in relationships.

Without sensitivity, I cannot seek and trust God to lead my life.

Without sensitivity, I might avoid getting hurt, but what I would lose without sensitivity isn’t worth the cost. I don’t want to miss out on deeply investing in people’s lives, regardless of their messiness.

I certainly don’t want to miss out on the presence of God. God is never without sensitivity. When I willingly seek and follow Him, neither am I.

Absolutes of Everyday Life

youarehereWe all choose to follow some absolutes. Take an honest look at your life. What absolutes do you not only believe in and stand firmly on but expect others to abide by as well?

Maybe you don’t believe in God’s absolutes–or even in God Himself–yet you accept, live by, and project other rules, such as grammar, spelling, etiquette, traffic and other laws, and so on. Or maybe you even separate some of those categories out so that some laws (the ones you don’t want broken because you have a personal investment in them) are irrefutable but other laws (the ones you feel infringe on your rights or comfort) are negotiable, even unwarranted or ridiculous. Grammar and spelling? Well, it’s not okay to break some of the rules but others aren’t quite as important to keep. Etiquette? You better show some manners in a particular situation, but it’s okay to toss manners out the window in another situation.

I noticed this phenomena recently on social media. I saw some posts and comments pointing out others’ failures in “living by the rules set for intelligent civilization.” The offense? Poor grammar. I agree poor grammar is unprofessional and annoying, but to make it a requirement for meaningful life?

The only things that can be absolutes are things that are not location-specific, gender-specific, ethnic-specific, language-specific, or any other specific. Absolutes apply to everyone. They aren’t projected onto people. They are foundational. People can refuse to acknowledge the foundation. They can cover the foundation with other things that they then identify their foundation. They can make a small circle around themselves on the foundation and only claim a piece of it as absolute. But absolute is absolute. We each have a choice to find out more or refuse to do so.

Our choices don’t change the absolute. Our choices simply change us.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Beauty Within

No matter how shaky the ground underneath your feet feels, when you’re in a relationship with God, your foundation is firm. It’s solid because it’s not your foundation. It’s God’s. What we try to create on our own will crumble. We might think we know what we’re doing, but don’t have the perspective to understand what will deteriorate. We don’t know when a fire or flood will come. We don’t know what kind of bugs will infest the foundation we were certain would last a lifetime and perhaps beyond. We try to predict the natural wear and tear on building materials, but it’s just that: natural. We need supernatural construction. We need God.

beautyGod doesn’t make everything obvious. Even if He provided us with every piece of information, we wouldn’t fully understand because of our limited capacity. We’re human. He’s not! We often try to explain God, but every time we try to define Him, we limit Him, because our definitions will always be less than who God actually is. We must allow Him to reveal us as He knows we are ready and the people around us are ready. He knows the timing of His kingdom work. We respond in obedience, never sitting and waiting when He’d have us respond and stand and never forging forward when He’d have us patiently be still.

God knows what beauty lies within us. We’re created in His image to honor and glorify Him. We must be molded to most accurately reflect who He is. He molds and shapes us throughout life. We respond to His touch and voice. We feel stretched. We feel pressure. We feel messy. We feel unusable. We need to see ourselves through the trustworthy eyes of God. He is regenerating you. He is making you into something new—more beautiful and worthy than you can imagine.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. (Matthew 7:24-27)

False Teachings

G.B.Y.Logos.1Those false teachers are like springs without water and clouds blown by a storm. A place in the blackest darkness has been kept for them. They brag with words that mean nothing. By their evil desires they lead people into the trap of sin—people who are just beginning to escape from others who live in error. 2 Peter 2:17-18

We seek springs with fresh, flowing water, but not every spring is nourishing to us. We must learn to discern who to follow and who not to follow.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, we didn’t have access to vast information the way we do today. Information can be truthful, but information isn’t inherently truthful. When you ask a search engine a question, are you looking for information or truth?

A problem arises when we argue that truth is relative, depending on who is seeking and why. When truth is assumed relative, nothing is reliable. There’s no difference between fact and opinion, good and evil, real and imaginary. Questions of purpose, personhood, and faith appear to be unessential. Purpose, faith, and life seem to float in air – with no firm foundation.

When we become information-driven instead of truth-driven, we don’t change reality as much as we might think we do. We deceive ourselves into thinking we’re much more powerful than we are. We don’t define ourselves, our world, or the reality of either. We don’t – and can’t – change truth. There is foundational truth in life, and there’s a search engine you can use to seek it.

It’s God. You can access some accurate information using search engines such as Google and Bing, but when you search God, you’ll always find truth. It’s a different sort of search. It’s not instantaneous. It’s often a journey of one question leading to another and another. You’ll often reveal pieces of truth and continue to fit new pieces as you search more.

Searching God isn’t as easy as using a search engine, because it’s based in a relationship. Relationships are ongoing, challenging, developing.

Would you rather have a relationship filled with effort but also filled with truth or an impersonal, brief, uncertain interaction? Do you want to search passively or actively?

Live It. Notice opposites or things that don’t match throughout your day: salt and pepper, green and red traffic lights, loud and soft sounds. Practice noticing the details and differences. As you become more aware of what’s around you, you can become more in tune with what details God is pointing out to you to determine the differences between his true teachings and all false teachings.