Signs of Life

I was talking to a friend who is somewhat particular about his yard, and he told me there are two parts of his yard that are his favorite spots. I thought to myself, “These must be particularly lush and manicured parts of his yard to be his favorite.

But actually, his two favorite spots in his yard are spots where the grass is worn down to the point where many would see them as blemishes in his yard.

But my friend doesn’t see them as blemishes. He sees them as signs of life. The first spot is where he stands to throw pitches to his daughter. And the second spot is where his daughter stands and practices swinging at those pitches. He said these spots are more important than the rest of his nice green lawn because it’s where he and his daughter have great conversations and make lasting memories.

This got me thinking. My friend gets it! He knows that the important thing is not the grass, but rather what happens on the grass. He knows it’s not the possessions, but the people that are important.

Now there’s nothing wrong with taking care of the things you have. My parents taught me to do this, so those things would last. Yet so often we work hard to keep things looking nice and new because we think they were the centerpieces of our life.

But our focus should be more on the people in our lives, than the possessions in our lives. And people are not always neat and clean. They leave behind messes, scuffs, and blemishes. And yes, this can be frustrating, but never forget…these are the signs of life.

Some of the signs of life at my house are…

  • A nicked baseboard from a grandchild rounding a corner on a tricycle.
  • A yellow highlighter mark on the carpet from a grandchild who was more zealous about coloring the picture than staying on the paper.
  • A wall with stains from the stickers a grandchild used to decorate the room.
  • A milkshake stain on the armrest of my brand new car, from an after-school trip to DQ with grandkids who just couldn’t sit still.
  • Black marks on a bathroom wall from my 88-year-old mother’s walker…who got the chance to hang out at our house with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Where are the signs of life in your house, your yard, your car…your life? I’m guessing they are not the pristine spots that are shiny and like new. I’m guessing they are the spots and blemishes that mark a well-lived and well-loved life.

You will either see the blemishes, dents, dings, and worn places as points of frustration or signs of life. It depends on your perspective. Just remember this…someday, when these places are more empty than you would like, it will be these signs of life and the memories associated with them that will mean more to you than having things that are pristine and perfect.

2 Samuel 24 – Righting Your Wrongs

Have you ever done something you knew was not right? Maybe others even told you it wasn’t wise, but you did it anyway. Then afterwards, things began to unravel. Your conscience began to trouble you. Your situation got worse. And you began to realize you needed to right your wrong.

Oddly enough, God ends the book of 2 Samuel with just such a situation. In 2 Samuel chapter 24, Israel has sinned and David falls to temptation, taking an unnecessary and uncalled for census. (1 Chronicles 21:1) Perhaps David’s act of taking a census was an act of pride and arrogance, but afterwards David knows he has done wrong. God, being just, brings judgement on the sin of David and Israel…graciously allowing David some say in the judgement.

Then, in mercy, God relents. He tells David to offer a sacrifice at the very place where David experienced mercy.  Though the owner of the land, the oxen, and the wood needed for the sacrifice offers it all to David for free, David insists on buying them instead…knowing that by its very nature and definition, a sacrifice must cost us something.

Why would God put such an account at the end of 2 Samuel? Why would He conclude the story of David in such a way? Perhaps its a reminder to us that no matter how much God blesses us, we should never get “too big for our britches.” Perhaps its a reminder to listen to wise counsel, no matter how successful we’ve become. (Proverbs 13:10) (Proverbs 21:11) (Proverbs 11:14) And perhaps it’s a reminder that God will not ignore sin…no matter who you are. (Numbers 32:23)

We must not forget that how our story ends will depend on whether we heed these same reminders and remain humble before the Lord.

Age: It’s Spiritual

In the first post on age, we dealt with the fact that young and old alike struggle with issues of age. We talked about a sort of age related dementia that goes along with youth, adulthood, and old age, and we gave you some things to remember and do that will help with these dilemmas of age. (If you missed that post, click here and catch up before you read further.)

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Age: It’s Natural

Note – Though this post does not specifically target marriage, it addresses something every marriage has to deal with.

Age. Whether you’re young or old, everyone grapples with their age. The young wish they were older. The old wish they were younger. Even the terms “young” and “old” are relative to our age. When we’re ten, thirty seems old. When we’re thirty, fifty seems old. And when we’re fifty, we’re just hoping we can make it to retirement!

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Control, Coronavirus, and Other Complications of Life

In these day when our news, our social media, and our lives are consumed with the Coronavirus, one thing is painfully clear…

WE ARE NOT AS IN CONTROL AS WE WANT TO BE.

We never have been. Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, we have done whatever we could to subjugate and eradicate the feeling of not being in control. And we’re still doing that.

Some try to convince themselves that the government will get control of this. Others repeatedly tell themselves that God is in control of this. And others militantly follow social distancing plans and hand washing procedures to stay in control of this. These are all good things, but they still fall short of putting us at ease and quenching our thirst for control.

 

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO FEEL LIKE WE HAVE CONTROL?

  • We want to feel in control to keep our fear at bay. There’s a lot of fear out there. Health fear. Economic fear. Scholastic fear. Fear is swelling because we feel we can’t control these things.
  • We want to feel in control because we lack trust. We don’t trust our government to make the right calls at the right time. We don’t trust others to do what they should do to keep their distance, or to keep food on the shelves, or to keep helping when we’re in need. Then we don’t trust God to intervene as we hope…despite what we might profess.
  • We want to feel in control, because it helps us maintain a sense of self importance. We want to feel that we’re different and special. But we feel out of control when we realize we’re no different from everyone else.

 

In one way or another, there’s a bit of control freak in all of us. But here’s the thing…

WE ARE NEVER IN COMPLETE CONTROL!

There will always be things we can’t control. It’s a given in life. The quality of our life is not dependent on keeping control of everything, but rather in how we respond to the things we can’t control.

  • It’s not about making fear go away, but rather about going on in the face of fear.
  • It’s not about trusting someone to fix the problem, but rather trusting someone in the midst of the problem.
  • It’s not about being above everyone else, but rather being in it with everyone else.

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN WE’RE NOT IN CONTROL.

Even Christians have control issues at times, but we don’t need to strive for control, because…

  • In the face of fear, we’re told…“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV.
  • In the face of mistrust, we’re told…“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5 ESV.
  • In the face of self-importance, we’re told…“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:11-12 ESV.

Like the rapids in a white water rafting trip, the Coronavirus is part of the trip down stream. It may raise our adrenaline, but we don’t have to be in control of the rapids. We just need to stay in the boat and listen to our guide.

In times of trials, you may not be able to control anything else, but you can control to whom you listen. Whether you’re struggling for control over work, marriage, children,  finances, or pandemics, the questions is still the same…to whom is your heart listening?

3 Small Changes to Raise Your Discouragement Tolerance

Everybody has a different level of pain tolerance. Some have a high tolerance for pain. They have the ability to tolerate pain that others might find intolerable.

Still, other people have a very low tolerance for pain. Even a small pain feels big to them. They don’t wait to see if the headache will get worse. They take something at the first sign of a headache to make it go away. The same can be said about discouragement.

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Relaxed Time

When you hear the term “relaxed time,” what do you think. Does it sound like a fantasy or an unreachable luxury? Does it sound unrealistic? Does it sound lazy or unnecessary?

Relaxed time is time that’s free from demand or expectation. It’s time when you don’t have to do, fix, or produce something. It’s time you can truly and unhurriedly be present.

I believe we need regular relaxed time and that a lack of relaxed time can contribute to increased stress, missed opportunities, and mounting health issues.

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Looking for Peace

Insurance ProtectionThere’s a shortage of peace in the world. Terrorist invade and ravage our world like cancer cells invading and ravaging a body. Countries are on edge over territorial, trade, and nuclear issues. Racial tensions tear apart our communities and country. Political parties bicker and battle over every little issue. Husbands and wives divorce and fight battles over children and property. There’s a shortage of peace in the world.

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Accumulation or Appreciation?

Depositphotos_18473781_xsMaybe you’ve seen this…a preschooler is sitting on the floor playing with a toy. They’re perfectly content with the toy they have, until they see another child playing with a different toy. Then the preschooler wants the toy the other child has. They don’t want to just exchange toys. They want both toys!

It’s funny in preschoolers, but it’s not so funny in adults. Yet so many of us get caught up in accumulating things rather than appreciating what we have.

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