The Trap of Boredom and Complacency

Today I read Deuteronomy 5-7. This book is Moses’ final farewell message to the people of Israel before they enter the promised land. In this passage he reminds them of the ten commandments God gave them and tells them to obey everything God commanded them to do. He also gives instructions for how they should conduct themselves once they enter the promised land, everything from completely destroying all the people and their idols to remembering all the things the Lord has done for them and to serve him only. Knowing how the rest of the story goes it is hard to understand sometimes when reading a passage which goes by quickly yet covers many years to understand why the people would forget and do their own thing. How could they forget all that God had done for them especially when they could hear his voice and see his presence with them?

Even as I think about these things it reminds me how true this is for me and other followers of Christ today. We have this encounter with Christ that sets us on fire. We feel different and start devouring the scriptures and sharing our faith all over the place. Then we start to settle into what it means to be a follower of Christ as a marathon instead of a sprint. We mature a bit and develop habits that help us to stay focused on him and we begin to integrate everything in our lives around our faith. Then we have to work harder to stay connected. The world pulls at us and the reality of life creeps in and begins to distract us and steal our joy. Eventually we get to a place where it is a struggle to stay consistent in our walk with God. Just as the Israelites forgot God and when their own way, we do the same thing today and we have the Holy Spirit living in us.

I think the main enemies we face related to our walk are complacency and boredom. We become complacent with how our life is going and tend to live for excitement which generally ends up being something new or a new event in our lives. Outside of that, we take everything for granted and start coasting through life. As things become more and more predictable and we settle for less, we become bored and find our time with God to be dry and more of a chore than a life giving time with an eternal God. So we give up and look for other things to bring us the joy that can only come from a relationship with God. Rather than pursue the source of true joy we manufacture joy in the things of the world. I have seen this over and over again in my own life and the lives others. When they get going in their time with God and stay consistent in pursuing him, their attitude changes and their whole sense of purpose and connection causes them to feel more fulfilled. But over time they get complacent with it and start to cut corners and tell themselves they are too busy on this day to have their quiet time and one day becomes two, three, until eventually the quit all together. In the middle of their quitting they start to get bored with God and with their lives and either get angry and cranky or they seek joy in other things or events. It is a predictable cycle that if we choose to fight through it, we can find life and fulfillment on the other side.

Lord, help me not get complacent or bored with my life and my pursuit of you. Please help me to always stay focused on what is important and always be sensitive to your quiet voice in my life. Give me a sense of purpose and meaning and help me to use this life you have given me to it’s ultimate fullness. Amen.

Meeting God

Today I read Exodus 1-3. The places where God meets us in our lives are always times where we are surprised and when God sets our lives in motion in a certain direction. There is something about how God works with us that he is always guiding us to the place he wants us to be but the path to get there is as important sometimes as the outcome itself. Here was Moses, a man who had grown up in a foreign culture, knowing little of his Hebrew background, yet still called by God to be the leader of his people as they left their captivity in Egypt. Moses had to be a strong man based on his killing of the Egyptian who was beating a slave and his chasing off the men who were harassing the women at the well in Midian. He also had a lack of confidence since he was concerned about how the people would receive him and having to have backing by knowing God’s name, etc. It took a conversation with God through a burning bush to call Moses to the job God had for him that he would invest in for the rest of his life.

I think about my own life and the burning bush experiences I have had. The last thing I ever wanted to do was be a Pastor. I felt unworthy to handle the task so God sends me to Promise Keepers in Oakland to hear Kenneth Ulmer talk about all the guys in the Bible God used who had problems that made them seem unworthy. I tried to meet God half way by getting my counseling degree so he sent pain from a kidney stone and my hearing the words Jesus gave to Peter when he went back to fishing instead of doing the work of the church, “feed my sheep” to tell me I should pursue ministry. I used my wife as an excuse and when the bill for what seminary would cost came in she told me to send the bill in faith instead of telling me there was no way we could do it. When money became an issue he sent help through my great uncle who paid for the rest of my seminary. Time and time again God has shown up in my life and given me personal burning bush experiences to help keep me on track and moving in the direction he wants me to go. It seems at times like he is moving really slow or all my dreams keep getting put on hold or may never come to fruition. Yet in all of this I am constantly learning that I just need to remain faithful and keep walking one step at at time. As I do this, I learn more and more about the life God has for me and I see how my character needs to continually grow as I seek to become more like Christ.

Lord, please help me to remain faithful to you. I don’t want to leave my first love or go off the path. I want to be a man who finishes strong and finishes well. Please give me wisdom beyond my years as I asked for so long ago as a kid. Thanks for your presence in my life. Amen.

God is Thinking About Me Now

Today I read Deuteronomy 30-31, Psalm 40, 1 Corinthians 1, and Day 1 of the Love Dare. I have many things rolling around in my mind today. One of those is my feelings of closeness to the Lord. Right now I feel a tug of war in my soul between giving everything to the Lord and a passion for Him and the pull of daily details and relational issues. In today’s reading, Moses gives the recipe to the children of Israel on how to stay close to the Lord by reading his commands frequently and obeying them and passing them on to your kids. He also predicted through what God told him that the people would rebel and would forget to do those things, which we know from history lead them back into exile. This flopping around between commitment and “being in the zone” and being pulled to other concerns where God is not central is the defining struggle of the Christian life. Even now I can feel my heart wane and commit moment by moment and I have the Holy Spirit which the Israelites did not have.

The same issue was present in the Corinthian church where they had the Holy Spirit and the many gifts he gave the church, yet they had quarrels and disputes among them that caused all kinds of problems in the church. This is what I have seen over and over again. Even in my own life I have had problems with people that I did not handle well or talked about behind their backs to make me feel better about it. That is a completely wrong approach and the cowards way of dealing with issues. I need to be consistent in going to the person I am struggling with so we can resolve it together and be reconciled and move forward in unity which is vital in the church. Again, this is a heart waning/commitment issue.

Yet in the midst of all of this, the Psalmist states in verse 17, “As for me I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now.” That just blew my mind this morning and is something I have to continually dwell on and remember. That despite my circumstances, God is thinking about me right now. Even when I am not thinking about him and going my own way. Still God is thinking about me and loves me and is waiting for me to come back to Him. What an incredible gift God has given me! I want to be a man who lives up to this thought and stays obedient to God’s call on my life. In the Love Dare it talked about being patient instead of angry and to not lash out against your spouse when things go wrong to but be patient and process the situation. That is one way today I can live out the fact that God is thinking about me, by being like Him which is patient for sure!

Lord, help me to think of you as often as you think of me. Help me to walk in step with your Holy Spirit instead of going on and off the trail. I want to live my life to its fullest in all that you would have for me. Please help me to have your vision for my life instead of my own. Amen.