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Christian Blog

Answer to the Man

When I started my first job at 16, dad said to me on my way out the door, “Answer to the man.” “What do you mean?”, I asked. “Son, when you’re on the boss’ time, do what he says without complaining.” I took my dad’s advice that day, and it made all the difference.

The Apostle Paul, in prison and facing execution, said something similar to his young apprentice, Timothy.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer.

2 Timothy 2:3-4

I’ve never been a soldier, but as a teacher on an army post, I rub shoulders with people in the military every day. One thing I’ve noticed is there’s an Army regulation for almost everything a soldier does. I once asked a military friend, “Don’t you think a ten point checklist to park and secure a combat vehicle is a little over-the-top?”

“What I think is irrelevant. I do my job and follow orders. Anything else is an indulgence.”

*SSG McMurtry (Just a cool Hollywood sounding name. Not the real guy’s.)

Impressive. “But what if there aren’t specific orders or regulations for something?,” I asked. “How do you respond?” “That’s when you follow the commander’s intent,” he said.

He explained that, in a combat situation, all written orders are assumed to be fluid. No plan survives intact once there’s contact with the enemy. The commander’s intent is a short statement written in bold print that essentially says, “Whatever happens, this is the most important thing to accomplish.”

VERY impressive. I started looking for commander’s intent statements in the Bible.

I found Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, who were living under intense persecution.

Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

Philippians 1:27

And Jesus’ charge to His earliest followers:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Matthew 28:19

Answering to the man (God) can be challenging. If there was only an app called FaceofGodBook, with those little red numbers over the icon–you know, messages from heaven?

However, we do have the Bible, and we know what Jesus did, and we also have the Holy Spirit. And that’s enough to know the Commander’s intent.

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

Hooah!

Categories
Christian Blog honesty

Talking Face to Face Versus Facebook

Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.com

Confession: I used to spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook. But I didn’t even realize when too much was enough–until my wife said, “David, you’re on your phone ALL the time!” So I checked my usage. Sure enough, I spent an average of 2 hours 20 minutes every day–on Facebook alone!

I ended up deactivating, and then deleting my account.

Yes, there were withdrawal symptoms, but after about a week I stopped constantly checking my phone for those little red numbers. FOMO was eclipsed by FOMU–Fear Of Messing Up.

Being off Facebook has been a mixed blessing. We’ve missed a few funerals; yep, it was on Facebook, and we don’t take the newspaper. It’s also harder to keep up with some of our family members.

But here’s something on the positive side: being off FB has encouraged me to have more face to face conversations–especially with people who aren’t exactly like me.

And when someone is right in front of you, you benefit from tone of voice, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues to help prevent misunderstandings. Plus, unlike when I was on social media, I’m not as tempted to quickly (and often inappropriately) respond to a perceived slight.

The Original Social Validation Feedback Loop

The Christian love (agape) found in the early church was deep and purposeful. (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37). Such mutual benevolent concern is hard to find in cyberspace, where interactions are often superficial and impulsive.

When Christ Himself was asked about the greatest commandment, He responded, Love God first, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-31) Loving your neighbor was not a recent rule, (Leviticus 19:18) but by the time of the New Testament, most folks held a rather narrow view. Jesus challenges this thought with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).

He makes it crystal clear that any person in need is our neighbor.

On FB, my ‘neighbors’ tended to be people who were a lot like me; there’s nothing wrong with that, but it felt like an echo chamber. It just wasn’t a good place for me to try to live by the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12).

I simply share my story, and am not judging you. Facebook took up too much of my life, so I quit. Perhaps you’re stronger and can handle it.

God’s best to you.

Categories
Christian Living Discipleship

Drawn to the Light

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

One night this summer, I accidentally left the garage door up with the lights turned on. It was three hours later before I discovered my oversight. As I opened the door that leads into the garage from the laundry room, I was greeted with a surreal sight: dozens of moths! They were on the walls, hanging from the ceiling and covering both vehicles like polka dots.

They all looked similar to this one.

I decided the best thing to do was to simply turn off the lights and shut all the doors. The moths will go nowhere in the dark, I thought: “I’ll deal with it in the morning.”

But early the next day when I opened the door, there were just a few little brown insects to be seen. Only when I walked to the other side of the garage did I discover what happened overnight.

Most of the moths had landed on the floor—fanning out from a night light. It was the only source of luminescence in the room, shining only 0.4 watts, yet most of them found their way too it!


This begs the question, just how much of God’s light does a person need?

King David wrote of God’s Word being a lamp for his feet and a light for his path (Psalm 119:105). This doesn’t sound like the airport runway lights I’d prefer, but it must be enough to find The Way, or David wouldn’t have said it.

Jesus Himself spoke about how just a little bit of the right stuff is a big deal in the kingdom of God. Remember the parable He told about having faith like a mustard seed (Mark 4:30)?

As an amatuer bread baker, it still amazes me just how little yeast is needed for a whole batch of dough! “Surely, one packet isn’t enough,” I tell my wife every time. But the balls of dough keep rising until they triple in size! Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to such an experience (Matthew 13:33).

As a child of God, out on life’s ocean, it’s often hard to find my bearings. And when I can’t see but a few feet in front of me, it’s tempting to pray for lighthouses, fog horns and flares–something BIG to show me The Way. However, like He did with Elijah, God often speaks in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13).

I suppose the moral of the moths is to tune in to the light of God we have, no matter how small. Flood light faith isn’t always needed.

God’s best to you in your journey.

Categories
courage Hope

What Happened to Hope?

“hope” by @polsifter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I rolled up early one morning last week to one of my favorite running routes on the U.S. Army post where I work. It’s a fairly straight, flat road lined with mature shade trees next to a huge field. Just on the other side of the trees there’s a little creek. This particular morning, a light fog blanketed everything. It was the picture of serenity.

However, despite the setting, I started my run brooding over a stressful situation at work that seemed to have no feasible solution. But then I heard something.

Over the hum of the nearby interstate, an unseen group of basic trainees was calling out cadence. I pictured them running in formation as they chanted together at the top of their lungs:

🎶“Everywhere we go-oh, people wanna know-o, who we are, where we come from, so we tell them who we are…”🎶

These aren’t basic trainees, but I imagine it looked something like this.

As the sound of the soon to be soldiers faded into the distance, my sinking thoughts were buoyed by a fresh revelation:

If they can do that, I can do this!

The majority of basic trainees are miles from home—many for the first time— and dealing with a new “normal”, one where drill instructors make ALL the decisions. Homesick and uncertain what’s coming next, these brave young people must stick together to survive the next 10 weeks. Their Esprit de corps, the devotion they have toward each other and the group as a whole, is literally their life-line.

Perhaps the title of this piece should be, “What happened to hope?” Okay, I already changed it; my first one was pretty lame.😀

Anyway, this is what I heard in the soldiers’ chanting: hope for the future. But for the world at large this idea is no longer in vogue.

It’s painfully clear these days that (to many) hope is like a wind up toy with an ever-weakening spring. A quick check at thesaurus.com confirms it. Synonyms for hope include, anticipation and expectation, but also fool’s paradise and pipe dream.

However, for the Christian, hope is as certain as the character of God.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:24-25

I love the metaphor, “spur one another on.” It’s like every believer is calling out in formation with all their might, “MORE LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS!!”

These days there are plenty of reasons for a child of God to lose hope, but none of them are good ones.

Now is not the time for swerving, by God! And I mean that literally, not sacrilegiously. 😁🙏

Here are a few more of my favorite “hold on to hope” scriptures. Please share some of yours, if you’d like.


“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Hold on to HOPE!