Archive for the ‘Deciding’ Category

The Gate is Narrow and the Road is Hard

April 21, 2021

We’ve all seen it, I suppose. We are out in public, maybe at a grocery store with its overstimulating array of lights and products. And the small child who can’t take any more of the experience. The child starts screaming and crying. And the parent yells at the child to be quiet.

The parent’s yelling just adds to the level of sensory overstimulation. And things escalate. Threats and maybe a smack of the hand ensue.

The easy thing is to yell at kids to behave. The hard thing is to suck it up (literally suck in a deep breath) and tend to the child. The first is easy, yet not productive. The second is hard, but produces more quiet and a better relationship.

How often in life do we find ourselves with a similar choice? We can take the easy way of least amount of energy expended. We can suck it up and do the hard thing.

As Jesus was building to his climax in his teaching on the Galilean hillside, he taught, “The gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life. Few take it.”

It’s a challenge to us. Think of all the times in life where we took the easy way out. And then we were left to wonder, “What am I doing here?”

As we think about all the teachings in the message Jesus had just given, we know we are left with a choice. It’s all up to us to decide. We can suck it up and do the hard thing. The difficult thing. The thing that works out better in the end. That is the best way to life.

And The Point of the Sermon Is

April 8, 2021

A good keynote speech or sermon or presentation concludes with a point. Maybe an action item. Maybe a challenge.

Jesus had healed a bunch of people and talked with them. He then led them to a hillside by the Sea of Galilee and talked to them. The talk was about the kingdom of heaven and life there. That life was attainable starting right there.

He built through the talk that we call the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew chapters 5 through 7) and came to a conclusion. A summary point. A call to action.

There are two types of people–those who hear his words and act on them and those who don’t.

He illustrates.

The first type are like the man who builds his house on rock, on a solid foundation, a house that will withstand storms.

The second type are like a man who builds his house on sand, a weak and shifting foundation, a house that will be washed away.

That leaves every generation with the same decision. Will we be a disciple with a firm foundation? Or, will we drift like the shifting sands?

You Become What You Think About

January 27, 2021

This ancient insight holds that what your mind dwells on determines what sort of person you become.

The insight remains true when you find you have become a victim of something–perhaps bad health not caused by your poor choices, or perhaps a malicious boss, perhaps wrongly accused of something.

You are a victim. It is not your fault.

Now, what do you do?

Three times in a week, the insight of Viktor Frankl has come to my awareness. God must be telling me something. I’ll have to figure that out. Where am I being a victim? But, back to Frankl. He survived the Nazi concentration camps with this insight–you have the freedom to choose your response to the situation you find yourself in. Have you not yet read Man’s Search for Meaning? Perhaps it’s time.

You can whine, complain, seek sympathy, seek revenge, succumb to anger. Or, you can choose the most appropriate response to get yourself through.

Circumstances may have made us a victim of something. We can choose our response. Choose wisely.

Will I Be A Sitter Or A Follower This Year

January 1, 2021

Already yesterday I saw threads on Twitter about posting your New Year’s Resolutions.

Don’t.

They don’t work. Before January is over, you’ll have forgotten them.

This year, maybe we just decide to stop sitting and complaining. We choose to get up and follow Jesus. The first groups around Jesus? They weren’t scholars so much as they were followers.

Try this thought from Søren Kierkegaard.

Although the scribes could explain where the Messiah should be born, they remained quite unperturbed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek him. Similarly we may be able to explain every article of our faith, yet remain spiritually motionless. The power that moved heaven and earth leaves us completely unmoved.

What a contrast! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it spurred them to set out on a long, hard journey. The scribes, meanwhile, were much better informed, much better versed. They had sat and studied the scriptures for years, like so many dons. But it didn’t make any difference. Who had the more truth? Those who followed a rumor, or those who remained sitting, satisfied with all their knowledge?

Søren Kierkegaard

Maybe you were taught to be only a leader, never a follower be. But you follow something or someone. You follow those who promise riches. You follow those who promise power. You follow those who appeal to your insecurities and fears.

None of those satisfy in the end.

Make 2021 a year of choosing to follow Jesus who leads us (if we but do his teaching) to living a better life because we chose to live in God’s kingdom.

Maybe you will or won’t lose that 30 pounds. Or you will or won’t write that book. Or you will or won’t double your income.

But you can be a different kind of human.