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Archive for the ‘ruts’ Category

Want to do something that is really good for you? Practice kindness, “A man (person) who is kind benefits himself but a cruel man hurts himself” Proverbs 11:17 (ESV, parenthesis mine.)

Anything make you grumpy? Susie’s dog continually chewing up irrigation lines instantly wakens my inner grump. Somebody treating me like I don’t have a brain has their finger on my grumpy switch. Whining, constant negativity, laziness, stupidity, action-less complaining creates this fast spinning, downward sucking whirl, at the bottom of which my inner grump dwells. Just thinking about what makes me grumpy makes me grumpy. I wish my list was shorter.

The absence of kindness, grumpiness unchecked and excused, is the dance floor of cruelty. Cruel words, cruel intentions, cruel actions, and cruel laws execute fancy choreography dressed in self-righteous clothes, hollow justifications, damning humor, cutting sarcasm, intellectual hubris, and stubborn ignorance. It is a short and crowded walk from grumpiness to cruelty.

Kindness contains mercy and mercy is never without kindness, they benefit both the giver and the recipient, in other words they are always a win win proposition. On the other hand no one really benefits from grumpiness and cruelty, they always injure everybody. This is why Jesus and the scriptures unequivocally and uncompromisingly tell us, encourage us, and command us to unilaterally practice kindness and mercy (Galatians 5:22; 2 Peter 1:7; Matthew 5:&; 2 Timothy 2:24; Proverbs 3:3, 19:22). We are to practice kindness not merely in response to kindness coming our way, no, we are to be kind and merciful (Ephesians 4:32) and have kindness and mercy mark all of our actions, be our normal response. It is the only way to disarm grumpiness and cruelty whenever and wherever they invite us to dance with them.

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself” Proverbs 11:17 (ESV). I read it this morning, right before I walked outside to feed the dogs, and yep, he did it again, not only did he do a number on the irrigation, he also tore up the obviously inadequate protective fencing I installed just two days ago. My inner GRUMP was awake in a flash. Good thing for Walter, aka “Butt-Head,” “Nerd of the Nation,” that God had me read that particular scripture before opening the front door, otherwise he might have gone to “doggy hell” instead of just the “dog house.” I wish all of my grumpy episodes were this benign, that all of my temptations to be cruel had pinned back ears and a saggy butt with a wagging tail and a pitiful look. But they don’t, and neither do yours. It is when we feel unkind, when we feel justified to be cruel, merciless, and harsh that we need to choose what is best over what seems to feel good at the moment.

Have you had to live with grump, or work next to grump day after day? Man, that’s taxing. There is nothing pleasant about the stench and constant ooze of the puss of unkindness continually threatening to become a full-blown infection. How do we maintain kindness there?

  • By continually reminding ourselves of how beneficial and right kindness is and feels.
  • Seeing the self-inflicted wounds of those who are unkind and cruel, and refusing to wound ourselves.
  • Remembering the principle that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7), kindness grows kindness.
  • Always looking to Jesus and the way he responded to unkindness and cruelty, For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly” 1 Peter 2:21-23 (NLT). Jesus conquered the very power sin and hell with kindness and mercy.

So today, tomorrow, and every day, do something super beneficial for you, be kind! “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation” Proverbs 3:3-4 (NLT).

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” Numbers 21:4-5 (NASB)

The new car smell was long gone and there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the car, it was in good shape, dependable, and most importantly – it was paid for. But he couldn’t count those blessings, all he could see was the miles on the odometer, the stains on the seats, the few scratches here and there, and all that it was missing compared to a new car. So finally he even convinced his wife with all his car negativity, surely a new car would bring relief and happiness. In fact it brought more stress, the payments and increased costs stretched the budget to the “constant worry” level. It didn’t take long for the negativity to return.

“What were you thinking? Why did I ever go along with that? I loved the old car!” the wife accused.

“Oh now it’s all my fault! I seem to remember you signing the papers too!” he snarled back, before storming out.

The liberation of the ancient Israelites had slowed to an agonizing taxing crawl. They found themselves on another detour, this time a long march around the kingdom of Edom, which wouldn’t allow them to use the Kings Highway. It didn’t take long for their inclination towards pessimism to resurface. In their grumbling against and accusation of God and Moses they did what negative, complaining pessimist do – twist the facts.

The facts were they had not died, they had not starved, nor had they run out of water. There was fresh food every morning and God had just supplied enough water from a rock for every person and all of their livestock. The truth was that they were on this detour because of their own dumb and faithless choices. They already would have been where God wanted them to be if they had trusted God more than their fears, if they had surrendered to God instead of their constant negativity, foolishness, and sinful ways.

Lying to themselves was not enough. The clincher was their utter ungratefulness, “We loathe, despise, detest this miserable food.” What should have been a daily source of thanksgiving and praise was turned into a spoiled complaint and self-indictment. There was nothing wrong with the food, nor with God and Moses, their faithfulness, their goodness, and their patience was impeccable.

Too many stall out with God, in following Jesus Christ. Not because there is anything wrong with God and Christ or because preachers are telling lies and mislead, but because somewhere along the journey of spiritual liberation in Christ there is a failure of faith followed by a twisting of the facts expressed in negativity and thanklessness. The Christian life, a life with God, is not just a quick moment of faith resulting in liberation from sin; it is also a lifelong devotion to faith on the journey. “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. ‘For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.’ But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved” Hebrews 10:35-39 (NLT). This is what the generation Moses led out of Egypt never learned. May you and I learn and be different.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD… — To give thanks to the name of the LORD. Psalm 122:1, 4b (NASB)

Have you ever been a rut and didn’t know it? Maybe you were working, working, working and someone had to come along and tell you, “You need to slow down; you need to take a break”. Or maybe when you were so busy you forgot to eat and someone had to remind you. It is amazing how many ruts there are and how when you are in one you often don’t even know it until someone comes along and hollers at you down in your rut.

Maybe we should all get together and play, “Name that Rut.” I have been in both of the ones mentioned above, as well as in the rut of self-pity, greed , negativity, business (wait I am still in that one), over-commitment, being out of shape, joylessness, stubbornness, overestimating my importance, procrastination, …. Feel free to kick in and participate anytime with some of your own __________________________________________________ .

Ruts trap us, they lock in our wheels, and they paralyze our minds to the point of unawareness. It is really easy to get into a rut but it is difficult to get out of one, especially when you have been in one for a while. It is possible to get in such a deep rut that that we can’t see anything else, we think it’s normal when it is not. If we let it, a rut will keep us until the day we die, it will have us circling, and circling, and circling, only a little deeper each time around. That’s why sometimes the only way out of a rut is if someone cares enough to shout down into it, cause to us stop, and give us a hand to pull us out – “I was glad when they said to me, …”

Why had that person stopped going up to God’s house – stopped coming into God’s presence, stopped worshipping God? How did s/he get into a rut where thanking God was no longer important, much less something primary? Maybe “praying for the peace of Jerusalem” seemed like a joke, much like praying for peace and politics can seem like a joke today? Maybe s/he had decided that there were already too many hypocrites going to God’s house? Maybe s/he wasn’t all that convinced anymore that there even is a God? Maybe s/he was simply stuck in some other rut where there was no time, energy, or sense of importance for spiritual things? We don’t know. But we do know that whatever the rut was that person was glad that someone cared enough to both holler and reach down into that rut. “Stop and come with us, to worship, to pray, to give thanks,” was the invitation.

This Thanksgiving be the one who invites all the others who have gathered to go before God to acknowledge him, to praise him, and to give him thanks. Be the one who won’t let it be just an ordinary holiday circling in a godless rut of family, friends, food, fun, and football. “Let us go to the house of the LORD. … — To give thanks to the name of the LORD,” because this is where all giving of thanks should begin.

This Thanksgiving lets bow before God who in is love, mercy, and grace hollered and reached down into the inescapable rut of our sinfulness, confirmed by human history, and has invited us through his Son Jesus Christ, to come into his house, and to give thanks.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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