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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ornery as ever?

Advice:  An opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action or conduct.  It seems there are many avenues for advice.  Some comes quite welcomed - as when you ask a question because you definitely are seeking information to help you make a decision.  Other times, it may be offered, but there was not a whole lot on our part done to actually welcome or invite it!  When this occurs, we have a tendency to let it run off our backs like water on a duck.  When it is something we actually are seeking, we take it all in, considering carefully each part of advice we receive and then we latch onto whatever seems the most logical.  We probably call this "good advice".  It has some benefit to us, so we latch on.  If we don't perceive the benefit in it - we likely let go.

Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight:  “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.”  God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around.  Celebrate God. Sing together—everyone!  All you honest hearts, raise the roof!  (Psalm 32:8-11 MSG)

Our psalmist wants to give some advice which he labels as "good advice".  Now, if we are consistent in our definition, this would be something we likely should embrace - if we have the mind to.  Therein is the rub - our mind actually wrapping itself around the advice we receive.  Most of the battle is in the territory of our mind - having control over almost every action we perform. David tells us he is "giving it to us straight".  In other words, he is not going to whitewash this advice, or be manby-pamby about it.  He is going to deliver it straight up, red hot, and aimed directly at us.

First word of advice - don't be ornery!  I have developed a tendency to respond to someone who asks how I am doing with "Ornery as ever!"  I never really gave it much thought, but it is probably truer than I think!  There are lots of times I still need a bit and bridle to keep me on track!  So, knowing me like you probably do now, you knew I'd have to look up the true meaning of ornery!  

Yep, it means something TOTALLY different than what I thought it did!  I had this "I am up to my regular mischief" kind of attachment to this word, but it carries something much "rougher" in meaning. In fact, it means to be ugly or unpleasant in disposition, to be temperamental, and even to be stubborn, low or vile.  If that isn't enough, it also means to be inferior, common, or ordinary.  Now, this definitely does not describe a child of God!  As a child of God, we are far from inferior, common, or ordinary.  In fact, if God dwells within us, it is impossible for us to be "common" or "ordinary"!

So, am I gonna change my use of this term?  Yep - may take me a while, but I think it is not an accurate reflection of what I am in Christ or what I hope to be.  In fact, I don't want to be counted among the ugly, unpleasant, or temperamental.  Does it mean I never act "ugly", do things a little "unpleasant", or have some tendency to allow my "temper" to flare?  No, but God helping me, these traits will be replaced with the grace of God!

Second word of advice - have an honest heart.  If you want to get at the root of the matter, look at the heart (the seat of our emotions).  There you will find all manner of mixed up stuff - ranging from the best to the worst.  So, why focus on the heart?  Simply because knowing what is there helps us respond differently to its tugging.  If we know we are getting a flat tire because we see the tire sagging, we likely will drive differently.  We won't get on the highway where high speeds could put us in danger.  We won't expect to make it a long journey because the pressure may not hold us for long.  We will not expect the best performance from our vehicle because driving with a flat is like trying to walk with your shoelaces tied together.

An honest heart is willing to admit the tire is flat and they need help to change it!  I "could" change a flat tire on my car, but I likely would struggle for a while trying to get those tight lug-nuts off.  You see, they were applied with a whole lot of pressure, so they are on there pretty tightly.  My strength may not be sufficient to loosen them.  In fact, I think I'd call the tow service before I'd attempt it on my own.  Why?  It is not because I refuse to touch anything "dirty" or "difficult".  It is because I know my limitations!  The same is true in my spiritual life - I know my limitations.  I cannot clean up my heart on my own!  If I am honest with God about the condition of my heart, he is free to act on my behalf to "fix the flat"!

So, am I ornery?  Truth be told - probably so at times.  Do I want to stay that way?  Truth be told - heavens no!  So, what do I need to do to ensure I don't always need a bit and bridle to keep me on course?  Develop an honest heart.  It is in having a heart willing to admit its limitations, understanding its strength is not sufficient to make the changes it desperately needs, we find the first step toward removing bit and bridle.  If you have ridden a stubborn horse, you know the purpose of both.  Without them, the horse meanders where it will.  With them, there is an external control exerted which directs them.  I don't want external control - I want internal control.  Not my own, but God's in me. How about you?  Maybe we all need a little change of control in our lives!  Just sayin!