Sunday, February 16, 2014

Needles down, please

It's time we stop spinning webs.

Have we become expert spinners? We can spin one complex, intelligent (and convoluted), high-stakes web or several seemingly innocent, inconsequential strands that we hold onto (or that hold onto us) for next time. Our needles are actively at work, sometimes without us even realizing it.

What are we spinning?

Webs of lies.



In the message this morning, Pastor Chuck referenced a few anonymous surveys that provide eye-opening research on what people really think, which exposed that lying is an ongoing habit in our lives. Think about this: How would you answer questions that probe into your real beliefs about God, people, money, etc., if you knew no one would associate your answers with you?

Now, there are outright LIES that are crafted and planned to cause harm and deception, and there are the ones that seem to creep up on us. I think these are the ones that can be the most insidious (i.e. causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed.). These are the lies that get us out of a sticky situation we haven't had a chance to think through or "protect" someone's feelings or the ones that speak volumes when we do not say a word when we should.

The remedy? William Barclay put it well when he said, "Telling the truth demands a deliberate effort." Chuck recommended the following suggestions and related questions. These will keep you thinking...

1. BEFORE (think ahead):

  • Is what I'm about to say the truth?
  • Should I speak or remain silent?
  • Do I feel under pressure in this gathering?
  • Is this confidential information?
  • Am I about to cheat? (when you cheat, you lie to yourself)

2. DURING (ask yourself):

  • Am I saying this correctly with the right facts?
  • Should I be giving someone else credit for this?
  • Am I exaggerating?
  • Am I holding back something that should be said? (don't let your silence lead others to believe you agree with what is being said if you don't)

3. AFTER (consider this):

  • Do I regret what I just said? (asking this question with an open heart gives the Holy Spirit freedom to work)
  • Should I get back in touch to tell them I was wrong?
  • How could I have said what I said in a better way?
  • Was I trying to hide something when I said that?

These questions are convicting in general, as I consider my own speech, and specifically when I think about certain situations I have experienced. Let's all be proactive as we monitor our speech and work to keep each other accountable, as well as offer grace when we fall short.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

en·joy

A few years ago (2008, to be exact), I took on a challenge from my Dad to focus on one word for the year: flexible. The goal was for me to open myself up to unplanned opportunities and be a bit more spontaneous.

What a life-changing challenge! It really shifted my perspective. I went from begrudgingly muttering the word to myself when an unplanned "opportunity" arose to welcoming the unexpected.

All this to say, I still prefer to plan things in advance, but there is joy and pleasure in the spontaneous. There are smiles to be had and feelings to experience that can only be the product of an impromptu event. I won't miss out on those anymore!

The events of last year led me to a word for this year: enjoy.

en·joy [en-joi] 
verb (used with object)
1. to experience with joy; take pleasure in.
2. to have and use with satisfaction; have the benefit of.

Synonyms
1. appreciate, fancy, relish, savor.

God wants us to enjoy our time with Him and pursuing His will for our lives, not the fleeting pleasures of the world. It doesn't get much better than 1 Timothy 6:17:

"As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment."

As I look to make this word my theme for 2014, my goal is to take time to savor, experience, take pleasure in, make memories, and develop deep gratitude for certain things in my life.

  • I want to enjoy my time with the Lord.
    (spend more time praying and thinking and worshiping and singing, not rushing through a checklist)
  • I want to enjoy rest.
    (take time in the evenings and on the weekends to unplug and just simply rest without guilt about not filling every second with productivity)
  • I want to enjoy time with the people I love.
    (laughing, loving, hugging, listening, talking, sharing, growing, challenging, admiring)
  • I want to enjoy work.
    (whether at the office or getting things done at home, I want to think through what I'm doing and be thankful for the responsibility, enjoying the abilities God has given me)

Sometimes, a picture says it best. This picture (courtesy of my sister), will serve as a reminder to me of my approach for 2014: