Nudgings Feed

Nudgings #55 - May 19 "Old Wet Tennis Shoes"

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Old Wet Tennis Shoes

All of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. (1 Peter 5:5-6, NLT)

According to the Apostle Peter, what we wear matters. And he isn’t talking about power suits and skinny jeans; he’s talking about pride and humility. The manner in which we conduct ourselves affects our relationships and interactions, both with God and with others. Pride is a non-conductor, an insulator that inhibits our connection with God and those around us; whereas humility, as exemplified by Jesus, serves as the conduit in our lives through which God powerfully impacts the world with His love.

As a kid growing up on my Grandad’s farm, I learned a valuable lesson about electricity and conductivity that I believe applies to Peter’s admonition to “dress yourselves in humility.”

At the time, I was wearing a pair of old wet tennis shoes.

In the midst of a busy day of feeding and milking cows, irrigating fields, and maintaining farm equipment, my grandad and I spent some time after lunch mending fence. The tools and materials we needed for the job were in the back of the old farm truck. My grandad asked me to back the rig up to an area of fence that needed some work. Eagerly I complied, but ended up getting the truck a bit too close to the fence—and it was an electric fence.

When my grandad let down the pickup's tailgate it was lying on top of the electric fence wire. My grandad, clad in rubber irrigation boots was unperturbed. He placed one hand on the bed of the pickup and, with a mischievous grin, beckoned me over, extending his weathered hand.

"Grab hold," he said, his eyes twinkling. Obliging and clueless, I squished over to him in my old wet tennis shoes. I reached out, took his hand, and completed the circuit. A jolt of electricity shocked us both!

Grandad's laughter filled the air. Despite the tingling sensation coursing through my veins, I couldn't help but join in. It was a moment of delightful levity, a lesson learned about conductivity, and a metaphor for life.

Pride is a non-conductor. Just as the rubber tires and boots shielded the pickup and my grandad from the electric charge, so too does pride insulate us from the flow of empathy, compassion, and connection with others. Pride stems from thinking too highly of ourselves, and our achievements and circumstances. Pride quenches the Spirit—extinguishing the spark, power, and life of God in our lives. It creates a barrier between us and God and the world around us.

Humility, on the other hand, connects us to God and others, and it is the pathway through which God’s power, grace, goodness, and blessing are realized in our lives. Jesus is our model—the Son of God, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, “… made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!" (Phil. 2:7-8, NIV)

God extends His hand to us—and to the world around us—through humility. So, as you go about your day, remember Peter’s words and “dress yourselves in humility.” Put on your old wet tennis shoes and step into the world. You might find the outcome to be delightfully shocking.


Nudgings #54 - Jan. 10 "Looking to Jesus"

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Looking to Jesus

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)

The other day, I was trying to find some information for a friend and had to look back at my journal entries from 1998 to 2006 to find the requested details, and as I did, I was amazed. Perusing those pages reminded me of people, places, celebrations, accomplishments, setbacks, losses, struggles, sadness, laughter, questions, concerns, hopes, wishes, and endless wonderings—and through it all—I saw God’s faithfulness and help.

Those eight years were a period marked by global uncertainty and personal change, including the Y2K scare, the 9/11 attacks, my children's entry into school, and several career shifts—to name a few. During that time, I made choices, took steps, and did things (some good and some not so good) that affected my journey (and my journaling), but I could have never planned, predicted, or orchestrated the path that was realized in my life. Looking back, I resonate with the prophet Jeremiah who said, “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course” (Jeremiah 10:23, NLT).

Within my journal, I record not only the events that occur in my life but also what is happening in my heart and mind at the time. I talk to God as I write, and sprinkled throughout my journal entries over those years, I noted that I had written the prayers, "Jesus, guide me," "Jesus, show me," and "Jesus, help me," multiple times. Amidst the whirlwind of daily life, I did what I could—I looked to Jesus.

Here at the threshold of 2024, I wonder what stories (and prayers) will unfold within the pages of my journal this year. It is a time of great instability in our world. There is much environmental, economic, and societal upheaval, and tragedy abounds as wars rage in multiple places across the globe. Personally, I know that the landscape of my relationships, finances, and health will change too—and with change comes challenge. What will that course look like? I don’t know. Those pages haven’t been written yet.

So for now, I choose to heed the words of the author of Hebrews, and step into the unknown of this year, focusing on the one thing within my control—looking to Jesus. And I'm certain that someday, when I reflect on the story written within those journal pages of my life, I will be amazed to find—through it all—God’s faithfulness and help.


Nudgings #53 - Dec. 24 "Why?"

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Why?

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NLT)

I will never forget the advice I received from a wise mentor about handling tough situations and navigating challenging interactions in life. He said, “Don’t get hung up on what is said, but instead, look a little deeper and consider: why is it being said?”

That thought, “why is it being said?” came to mind as I considered the Christmas story this year. In the account of Jesus’ birth, there were wise men from the east that travelled to Bethlehem to find the newborn king of the Jews, and when they found Him, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, NLT)

Academic circles abound with controversy, debate, and skepticism concerning the specifics of the wise men in the Christmas story (were there really three?). In the Gospel of Matthew, it says that magi from the east saw a star and discerned the coming of a great king. They sought out the mystery, interacted with the infamous King Herod, and eventually found the child. The Scriptures say that the magi brought the newborn king gifts. There is a wealth of jokes and puns surrounding the tale of the wise men and their offerings, but beyond all the debates and jest, I found myself looking a little deeper and asking, “Why did God tell us about the wise men and their gifts?”

The gifts the magi brought to Jesus were unique, glorious and mysterious—full of foreshadowing and promise. The first gift mentioned was gold. Gold was the most costly and precious metal of the day and was equated with royalty. It was an extravagant gift—steeped in sacrifice. The gold of the magi tells the world that the baby Jesus is a royal king—the King, to Whom every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Phil. 2:10, NLT). 

The second gift from the magi was frankincense, an aromatic resin made from tree bark. In the Old Testament, dried frankincense was a part of the temple candles that were used in the Holy of Holies. The sweet fragrance of incense, rising up from those candles, symbolized prayer and the Spirit within that Holy Place. The gift of frankincense, given to the baby Jesus, highlights his role as our great high Priest—interceding for us all at the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16, ESV). 

The magi's final gift, myrrh, must have left Mary and Joseph scratching their heads, because the ancients used myrrh to embalm dead bodies. The birth of Jesus was about life, not death, … wasn’t it? The angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11, ESV). God sent baby Jesus into the world to save us, and this is where the symbolism of myrrh becomes apparent—Jesus saved us through his suffering and death on a cruel Roman cross. He came as a baby to die for you and me.

So, as you reflect on the Christmas story this year, be sure to look closely. Don’t get hung up on the words, but instead ask about the “why.” Consider the baby Jesus as royal King, great high Priest, and our sacrificial Savior, and then look even deeper . . . into the depths of God's love for you (John 3:16).

Merry Christmas!

 

 


Nudgings #52 - Dec. 17 "The Light"

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The Light

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined. (Matthew 4:16, NLT)

I was only five years old, but I still remember the light.

It was Christmas Eve, 1971. After my dad got off work, our family—my mom, dad, baby sister, and I—all loaded into our family car, a 1969 Volkswagen Bug, and headed for my grandparents' home in Jerome, Idaho to celebrate Christmas with a house full of aunts, uncles, cousins, loving family, and fun. It was snowing and blowing when we left Boise. What was supposed to be a two-hour journey turned into a long, slow drive into a dark and snowy night.

The wind blew, and the snow swirled the entire trip, blanketing everything in white. We finally turned off the main road onto the quarter-mile long lane that led to my grandparents’ farmhouse and were surprised to find that drifting snow had formed a barrier across our path. My dad, hoping to break through the drifts, accelerated the car and I was thrilled. I remember the roar of the VW engine, the unsettling sound of snow scraping on the floorboards beneath our feet, and the car slowly coming to a dead stop. Our headlights were buried under snow, and with the engine running we sat there in total darkness—completely stuck.

Still a long way from the house, all we could do was trek the remaining distance on foot. It wasn’t going to be easy for my parents—trudging through the deep snow with a baby, a five-year-old, and all of our belongings. However, a glimmer of hope appeared in the dark night. Down the lane, a flashlight flickered and slowly moved toward us. It was my granddad on his tractor, making his way through the snow to our rescue.

I was captivated by that light. It was just a flashlight, but it pierced the darkness. As it approached, the outline of the tractor chugging through the snow emerged, and then, finally, I could see the smile on my granddad’s face. He leaped off the tractor, gave us all hugs, hooked a chain to the front of the car, and pulled us home through the swirling snow. Within minutes we were enveloped in the radiant glow of love, family, and a joyous Christmas celebration.

Where do you find yourself this Christmas? Feeling stuck? Trapped? Lost in the darkness? Here's some good news—a glimmer of hope. “The angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” There it is, the real meaning of Christmas. A light has dawned and the rescuer has come to bring us home—it is Jesus.

Over fifty years later, I still remember that Christmas Eve—the long trip, the dark night, getting stuck in the snow, my grandfather’s smile, and the joyous fun.

But most of all . . . I remember the light.

Merry Christmas.


Nudgings #51 - Dec. 3 "I’m Thankful"

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I’m Thankful

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God. (Psalm 50:14, NLT)

The other day at work, I passed a colleague in the hall who greeted me with, “How are you?” and I replied, “I’m thankful.” He paused and asked, “What are you thankful about?” and I answered, “Oh wow, lots of things …. I’m thankful for the gift of today, my health, this job, my family, my students, God’s love in my life, and … I’m thankful for you and the opportunity to work with you.” My coworker paused thoughtfully and said, “Hmmm … there is a lot to be thankful for,” and we went about our day.

When I responded to my colleague with, “I’m thankful,” I meant it. I wasn’t trying to be original or funny; I was being real. I know the customary response to the greeting, “How are you?” is “good,” but a while back, I came to the realization that I couldn't honestly respond with “good” every time to that question, because things aren’t always “good." We all have bad days (even bad years). At times, life brings moments and situations that stink. However, “good” isn’t the defining factor in my life—Jesus is—and because He is good, I can be thankful.

It’s been said that the Apostle Paul wrote about giving thanks and being thankful at least 46 times in his New Testament letters. It’s crazy, but the guy who tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18) and “give thanks always … and for everything” (Eph. 5:20) is the same guy whose story is filled with persecution, imprisonment, physical suffering, opposition, hostility, shipwrecks, peril, abandonment and betrayal. How can he be thankful, let alone implore us to be thankful?

It’s because thankfulness to God isn’t a feeling; it’s a choice. Asaph, the author of Psalm 50, equates thankfulness to the uncomfortable idea of sacrifice—giving up something valuable for something even more important or worthy. A life of gratitude doesn’t come naturally, or easily; it requires effort and practice. It’s a discipline. This is reflected in the tradition of praying before meals. We all need to eat, and when we do, mealtime can serve as a regular and tangible reminder to reflect upon God, showing appreciation and gratitude for His presence and care in our lives.

The thankfulness that Asaph refers to, that Paul calls us to, and that I mentioned to my colleague the other day, is based in and upon Jesus. Jesus is God. He is the author of life, the giver of hope and the source of every good thing. He is the Creator of the universe, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. His very nature is one of compassion, mercy, love and grace.

Even while we were all dead in our ingratitude, rebellion and sin, Jesus took on flesh and blood and came to earth to save us. He died upon the cross, paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins, and rose from the grave. He is our help today and our hope for eternity. Jesus is “good,” and a friend who is always with us—even when life stinks. In Him is found joy, peace, hope and abundant life.

So, if you ask me, “How are you?” I am going to say, “thankful,” because of Jesus.

In Him, “… there is a lot to be thankful for.”


Nudgings #50 - Nov. 17 "Forget It"

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Forget it

My grandparents had a small farm in Southern Idaho and it was my privilege to spend my summers working alongside my grandad on that farm. It was a great adventure that included tractors, milk cows, irrigation boots, barn cats, hay bales, hard work, and two dogs—Tara and Pug. Those two dogs knew every square inch of that 100-acre farm, and they spent their days exploring the fields, swimming in the pond, sleeping in the sun, and hunting the yellow-bellied marmot—commonly known as a rock chuck.

After lunch one day, my grandad and I walked out the back door of the house and were surprised to find a large, dead rock chuck lying on the back step. Tara and Pug stood nearby, panting, slobbering, and beaming with pride. We celebrated their triumph with pats on the head and lots of “good dogs” all around, and then my grandad told me to grab a shovel and go bury that thing in a nearby pasture.

I dragged that lifeless marmot out into the field, and the dogs followed me eagerly and attentively, brimming with joy. I dug what I thought was a deep hole and I buried the carcass. Two weeks later, the matted, stinking remains of that rock chuck appeared again on the back step of the house. Nearby, Tara and Pug lay innocently in the yard, but the traces of dirt on their front paws and noses told the story. Needless to say, I reburied the creature in a different spot, without Tara and Pug tagging along, and that was the end of that. They forgot about the rock chuck and resumed their life of fun and adventure on the farm.

Those crazy dogs had dug up that dead thing, and I understand why—they’re dogs. But why do you and I do the same thing? It’s been said that “memory is like a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food.” We remember the things we should forget, and forget the things we should remember.

We all have junk, mistakes, regrets and sin in our lives, but the Good News is that Jesus went to the cross and took all of that dead stuff and buried it. It is gone! All we have left to do is to forget it, and live a redeemed, victorious life of adventure and joy in Jesus.

In Isaiah 43, the prophet tells us to,

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" (NIV)

In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul tells us how he lived the victorious life,

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

What are you keeping that you should throw away? What are you remembering that you should be forgetting? What are you digging up that Jesus has buried by His grace? “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20, KJV). Don’t dwell on your past, your mistakes, your sin.

Forget it . . . and fix your eyes on Jesus.


Nudgings #49 - Oct. 27 "Not Alone"

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Not Alone

Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

(Matthew 28:20, NLT)

Do you feel alone sometimes? Me too. Most major news outlets, many health care providers, the Surgeon General and (of course) Google, all say that the new epidemic in the U.S. is loneliness. But you and I know this is not a “new” problem; it’s an age-old problem that has resurfaced yet again.

Even in the best of circumstances, all of us experience the sense of being alone. It happens in my life when I encounter situations where I don’t know what to do. Whether I am facing the big challenges, stresses and struggles of life, or just dealing with the little hiccups, hurts and hurdles of the day, the common thread that I feel (but don’t dare give voice to) is ... “I am alone.”

Just the other day I was frustrated to find that my roof was leaking—again. I thought I had it fixed! Now what do I do? Who do I call? How much is this going to cost? And as the rain fell, I was drenched in loneliness.

A few years ago, I found myself in the throes of a critical illness that had all the doctors stumped. My body, mind and life were ebbing away, and I was desperate. The medical professionals were working hard for me, my family was loving me, my friends were supporting me, and countless people around the world were praying for me … and I felt alone.

There is no rhyme or reason to loneliness. It comes on us when we are by ourselves, and it ambushes in the midst of a crowd. We feel alone when we are faced with difficulties in life, work, relationships, family, finances, and health and sometimes ... when all is well.

The Enemy of our hearts wants us to believe the lie, “you are alone,” but thanks be to God, we are not alone. God is with us in our moments of confusion and suffering, and—more importantly—He is with us even before we enter into those challenging places!

Jesus' last words to you and me, and to every lonely person who has ever lived, are, "Be sure of this: I am with you always." Thankfully, in God's economy, "always" means... always.

In Joshua 5 we find the leader of God’s people facing an impossible situation—the towering walls of the city of Jericho. I am sure that Joshua felt alone at that moment, but he wasn’t. Joshua encountered the Lord in an angelic messenger who told him that where he was standing—on the cusp of the impossible—was holy ground because God was already there. Even before the battle begins, the Lord is with us.

In John 6 we find the disciples on a boat in the middle of a storm and in big trouble. As the storm raged and the waters of chaos threatened, the disciples felt scared, helpless, and alone. But they weren’t. Jesus was already therewalking upon the waters!

In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul speaks a powerful truth to all of us who feel alone. He says, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:5-6, NIV).

Did you catch that? In our moments of need and anxiety, we are not alone. The Lord is near! Even before the roof leaks, before that phone call comes, before the battle begins, before the healing happens, before help arrives, even before we call upon His Name (and even if we don't) … Jesus is with us.

Loneliness is real, and it is sinister, but it doesn’t have the last word in our lives. Look to Jesus with hope and take heart, for when we come before God with anything, we are standing on holy ground—because He is already there.

You and I are not alone.


Nudgings #48 - Aug. 30 "Who are you?"

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Who are you?

The evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15, NLT)

I’ve taken my fair share of “selfies,” some with important and popular people, some in exotic places, and scores with friends and family. Honestly, I do it to make memories, but . . . at times, there is a little part of me that wants to be “known” as one who visits cool places and hangs out with the in-crowd. (Ouch! The blessing and bane of social media … and my pride.)

In Acts 19:13-16, there is a group of Jews called the Seven sons of Sceva who were trying to make a name for themselves (be “known”) by going around and casting out evil spirits. They were amassing huge crowds and getting lots of attention by name-dropping . . . "in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches.”

And it worked—up to a point.

The Sons of Sceva looked good doing and saying what the people wanted. They were casting out evil spirits and garnering lots of “likes” and “followers.” But in the end, they were humiliated when one evil spirit they encountered called them out as posers—attacked them, beat them up and exposed them as frauds saying, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?”

The evil spirit knew Jesus was the Son of God, the Creator of the universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world . . . and he trembled (James 2:19). And surprisingly, the evil spirit knew Paul too. But why? It’s because Paul’s claim to fame was this: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).

Paul took the words of Jesus seriously when He said, “If any of you wants to be “known” as my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Paul was doing the work of the ministry in Ephesus, but Paul was not the one doing the miracles. It was Jesus who was breaking the strongholds, healing the sick, casting out evil spirits and releasing the captives—and He was doing it through Paul.

Paul knew that all the power and glory belonged to God, and he knew that the only way to really be “known” was not to be seen in scores of “selfies” in this world, but rather be found in a “die-to-selfie” with Jesus.

May we all be "known" in this way.


Nudgings #47 - Aug. 5, "Engagement Ring"

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Engagement Ring

When you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. (Ephesians 1:13-14, NLT)

Thirty-six years ago I asked Dina to marry me and when I did, I gave her an engagement ring. It was a token of my love that symbolized my commitment to her and ultimately—to us. The ring was a tangible sign of my future intentions.

At the time, the engagement ring came at a significant cost to me. I was still in college and literally counting my pennies to get by. I did some odd jobs, saved up some money and was finally able to buy the ring. It was expensive … it cost me $100, but it was worth it! The ring represented so much more than dollars and cents. It was an investment in my preferred future—Dina and me together!

Much to my delight, Dina wore the ring proudly as a declaration of her current and future identity—it was a statement to everyone around her that she was loved and cherished by someone (me). It represented a sincere promise, a future hope and a dream fulfilled. It spoke of my love for her, my intentions toward her, and my dreams that included her. The ring on her finger affected both of us, as individuals and as a couple. It changed the way we saw ourselves and the way that we interacted with the world around us.

In Ephesians 1 Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is the promise of God to His people. It is God’s divine pledge to the bride of Christ—earnest money down on the guarantee of our eternal life with Him. Essentially, the Holy Spirit is our engagement ring from Jesus. It predicates a now and future reality—an already but not yet promise of God’s Kingdom, love and life in our midst. It clarifies our identity, sets our purpose, and represents an integral union as we live and move and have our being in Him. It sings aloud, “I am His and He is mine.” Commitment, self-sacrifice, faithfulness and love are inherent to its encircling presence in our lives. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit and we wear it—encompassed in His essence and power—we walk, talk, work, play and live our lives.

The ring I bought for Dina cost me a $100. The engagement ring that God the Father bought for you and for me cost Him the life of His Son. Receive the gift, walk in the Spirit and wear it proudly, joyfully and hopefully. It is a sign to the world that you belong to Him.


Nudgings #46 - July 31, "Whatever Happens"

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Whatever Happens

As I sat in church on Sunday and listened to the sermon, my heart and mind were going in another direction. I saw a guy in church that looked like Rex, the auto shop service advisor that I had interacted with two days earlier. My car had been in for repairs and when I went to pick it up my interaction with Rex was a bit tense. I disagreed with the bill. I had done my research and felt the charges were excessive.

I voiced my concern and made my case convincingly … and a bit curtly. In the end my bill was reduced by $150, but seeing this guy that looked like Rex in church made me think . . . What if it’s him? What will he think when he sees me playing bass in the worship band? What will he think of my testimony for the Lord?

As I reflected on my interaction with Rex I concluded that I said and did nothing that was wrong, inappropriate or that I regret, but I still didn’t feel right about it. I tried to allay my concern by recalling something I had recently read stating, “Too many of us confuse the words “nice” and “godly.” They are not the same thing.”

I agree with this. Sometimes hard things need to be said and done and they don’t feel and/or appear to be “nice” at the time. I mean c’mon, Jesus flipped tables in the temple didn’t he?

Yes, but He also died upon a cross . . . for me and Rex.

As you can see, as I sat there in church I wasn’t listening to the sermon, I was wrestling with things before God. Do I just let people run over me? Take advantage of me? Overcharge me? It’s not right!

Immediately my mind went to a quote from Wayne Dyer that I often repeat to my fifth grade students, “If you have the choice between being right and being kind, choose being kind.”

Then my mind went to Paul’s words in Romans 2:4, Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (NLT)

Nice? Right? Kind? Godly? I don’t necessarily want to be thought of as “nice” but I do want to be “godly”—more specifically—Christlike. What is $150 worth?

In Paul’s New Testament letters to the churches he says to make sure that everything you say and do is seasoned with salt so as to present Christ in a tasteful and honorific way in and through your life (Col. 4:6). Jesus is my hope, my help, my Lord and my life. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20, NIV).

God is my provider (Matt. 6:11). He is my portion (Ps. 142:5). He can pay my bills. Do I really need to fight and fuss? Where is my trust? Tyler Staton says that, “Sin is meeting the deep needs of my life by my own resources.” When it comes to my needs and immediate concerns ... do I argue, assert myself and exhibit contempt so as to communicate my position, convince my contender and manipulate a situation for my benefit?

Is the $150 discount that transpired after I voiced my concern and complaint worth the uncomfortable conflict and likely diminishment of my testimony for Christ to Rex and the others in the room? Like I said, in my interaction with Rex I did and said nothing that was wrong, inappropriate or that I regret, but I still didn’t feel right about it. So, at the end of the church service I went up to the guy and asked him if his name was Rex, unfortunately, it wasn’t him.

I’m headed back to the auto shop.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27, NIV)


Nudgings #45 - April 28, "Default or Design"

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Are you living by default or design?

I am a school teacher and the other day one of my fifth graders showed up in class with a set of three juggling balls. She said that she won them at a carnival and wanted to donate them to our classroom. I asked her why she didn’t want to keep them and she said, “Because I don’t know how to juggle.”

She handed me the balls and I began to juggle them. The whole class was in awe and asked, “How did you learn how to do that?” I told them that I learned how to juggle when I was their age. One Saturday morning I got three of my dad’s racquetballs, stepped away from the TV and the inner voice in my head that said, “you can’t,” and I spent the entire day learning how to juggle. I must have bent over a million times that day to pick up a dropped ball, but through failure, frustration, tears, anger and work, I ended the day knowing how to juggle.

I told the kids, you can either live by default or design. Default is the place of stay the way you are, let life happen and end up where you end up. Design is where you take action, make your life, choose your way and engage in becoming a person who can juggle, write, draw, play music, invent, create beauty, help others … whatever!

In Romans 12:1-2 the Apostle Paul exhorts us to engage with Jesus in designing our lives. He writes,

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (MSG)

Default says, “it is what it is,” but design says, “make it, move it, change it, create it.” Paul says we design our lives by fixing our eyes on Jesus and offering our bodies, minds, hearts and souls to God—for His glory.

Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave to give us abundant life—today and forevermore—and he says to each one of us, “come to me and truly live!” God’s mercies are new every morning and He graciously gives each one of us a set of three juggling balls and a Saturday and says, “start becoming.”

Are you living by default or by “His” design?

By the way, that little gal in my classroom decided to keep the three balls and is well on her way to learning how to juggle.