Archives for the month of: January, 2015

vacuum

My vacuum cleaner died yesterday, and I think it was my fault. It was supposed to be a really high quality vacuum. Consumer Reports rated it very highly, and we paid a lot of money for it…and it never worked well. It scratched my hardwood floors, and the power nozzle worked occasionally. I frequently had to drive over dirt on the floor or carpet several times before it actually disappeared, and it rarely picked up everything on one pass. You might say it “didn’t suck”, and you would be partially correct.

 But yesterday I was in a hurry. I was trying to vacuum before I ran errands, and, as usual, the vacuum was not cooperating. The fourth time I had to restart the motor in hopes of coaxing the power nozzle to start, I actually cursed it in anger…and it hasn’t started since.

 I turned it off and on, over and over, to no avail. For the briefest moment, I wondered if somehow my words had actually been effective, rather than just an emotional outburst. In retrospect, I don’t believe my curse had any effect in the demise of my vacuum, any more than my pleading restarted it.

 But our words do have incredible power. We can use them to bless, to encourage, to inspire, to rebuke, to condemn, to destroy. I still remember hurtful things said to me in anger decades ago. I still draw strength from encouragement spoken by people who chose to bless me in a life changing moment. Words can be a gift or a weapon. May I choose to bless those in my path more often, and may I choose to give mercy instead of venting my frustration.

Jesus in Gethsemane

The last private moment Jesus had with his Father before he was arrested, he prayed for you. John 17 gives us the content of that prayer. Here are a few of things he wanted for you:

        For God to protect you from evil vs 11 and 15

       For you to have the full measure of his joy vs 13

       For God to sanctify you with truth vs 17

       For you to be unified in our relationships with other disciples vs 20 and 23

       For you to be with him vs 24

       For you to see his glory vs 24

 Heb 7:25 says that Jesus continues to intercede for us, even today. Our choice to belong to God and not to the world affords us his protection. Being in his presence will bring us joy. We are separated from the world by knowing the truth about who God is and who we are. Our churches are to be defined by our ultimate goal of knowing God and fellowship with each other, not our petty disagreements about our personal preferences. Since Eden, God’s ultimate goal is to dwell with us…on earth now, and in heaven for eternity. Jesus took on human flesh for a while, but he wants us to see him as he is – in all his glory.

 When you pray “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, it includes the things on this list. May the desires of your heart match God’s will for your life. And may your prayers lead you into his presence where you will find the full measure of his joy and see his glory.

 yes no

Our culture has made communication very complicated. We often sacrifice truth to political correctness or hide our true thoughts behind what we think others want to hear. Advertising and politics are now billion dollar industries that are built around communicating what will influence our listeners to agree with us….whether or not it’s the whole truth. We can “spin” information or a story to highlight the parts we like, and ignore the details that don’t work to our benefit.

Where is the line between tact and honesty? Where is the line between truth and lie? When we disguise our “yes” as “no”, or vice versa, it is usually because we are ashamed of or threatened by the truth. We want those who hear us to be impressed by what we wish were true, or we want to hide the truth from them.

When our elected officials begin to give answers and make decisions based on keeping their power, rather than on what is right and good for our country, they change from being statesmen to politicians. When marketing companies are more focused on increasing sales than they are on speaking truth, they begin to resemble the charlatans who peddled snake oil out of the back of their wagon in the old west. Their “yes” and “no” are buried in clever facades that will achieve their desired end, even if the truth has to be bent or ignored.

Jesus’ example for us and his command to us is to “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No” (Matt 5:37). What an odd command. It is so easy to understand, but can be so hard to obey. God knows our whole truth, no matter how we spin it, and is not fooled. Hiding behind partial truth and lies can separate us from him and can damage our testimony with others. Whatever calling we have must include authenticity.

The only place the whole truth of our lives is safe is in the hands of our God who loves us unconditionally. Trust him with your whole truth, and allow him to use your authenticity to encourage and inspire those around you to do the same.