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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Maybe not the lifestyle you planned

When I was a young adult, one of the shows gaining popularity was this show which featured lots and lots of well-to-do people and how they lived.  It was called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", featuring Robin Leach "showing off" the homes of those who enjoyed what some considered an "elite" lifestyle. Ball players from major leagues, actors and actresses, and a myriad of other rather insanely rich people had opulent homes and properties which made eyes pop and people dream about what it would be like to live with such luxury.  It must have hit the mark for many a TV viewer as the series ran for 11 years!  One home caught my attention more than any of the others.  It was the one Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz lived in located in Beverly Hills, California.  Why?  I think it was the simplicity of their lifestyle in a region where "magnitude", "frills", and "effect" were all the rage.  Their home looked like a "regular" home from the outside - just another home out of an era gone by.  Sure, they had a pool and a nice lounging area in the backyard, but the home looked "lived in" and kind of like what "regular" people would be able to inhabit.  All the other homes we saw were massive in comparison, with all kinds of "bells and whistles".  I think this is why this one stuck with me - complete with card table, clean kitchen and piano. Nothing screams for attention more than the "gaudiness" of trying to "put on the Ritz" like so many of those portrayed did in their homes.  Nothing shows the shallowness of life quite like the need to "show" what one has.  Lest anyone think I am equating Lucille Ball's lifestyle to the one we all need to adopt, I am merely comparing two obviously differing "philosophies" on how one will handle their wealth or good fortune in life.  What we have is one thing, who we are at the core of our being is quite another!  What we have may be on "display" in life for others to admire and drool over; what we display from the recesses of our heart is what really speaks the loudest though!

The lifestyle of good people is like sunlight at dawn that keeps getting brighter until broad daylight. The lifestyle of the wicked is like total darkness, and they will never know what makes them stumble. (Proverbs 4:18-19 CEV)

The closer we draw to Christ, the brighter our lifestyle becomes.  The evidence of his presence begins to "ooze" out of the recesses of our heart - we cannot contain what he creates within us - it is meant to be shared.  It may not be the same "opulence" displayed in those "Lifestyle" homes, but let me assure you, it rises above even the most elaborate and fancy of those!  Our lives are mirror images of what we spend time facing long enough.  For example, turn toward sports frequently enough as something which consumes your attention and you will find your home begins to reflect this "affection".  You will decorate in the team colors, display a few team memorabilia, and even begin to talk stats about team performance.  This is just part-and-parcel with being a "fan" or "devotee" to the sport!  Now, think about considering Christ in just the same manner. If we are dedicating just as much time to him, we might just see a little bit of him reflected back to us in all we say and do!

We sometimes think the more we focus on something the closer we will be to obtaining it in our own lives.  Yet, so much of what we spend time focusing on is just an elusive object, position, or scheme.  The truth of the matter is pretty plain - we focus on the wrong stuff and then wonder why we don't see more of Christ manifest in our lives.  Unless we spend time looking into the mirror of his face, we won't see what he sees!  Even when we spend just a little time with him each and everyday, we become more and more like him just because we begin to see reflected back some of his glory and "brightness" in our lives. It is impossible to behold the presence of God and not be affected by it!  In much the same way as "big dreamers" were affected by seeing the show I referenced above, we can be affected by time with Jesus.  Many think it has to be dedicated time on our knees, long hours in church, and the like.  I am here to challenge that a little bit today.

It isn't the "quantity" of time - it is the quality.  Do we spend enough time in the Word?  To answer that I would have to ask you if the Word is having an affect on you, regardless of whether you read a verse or two, or an entire chapter. The quantity isn't the issue - it is the quality.  Do we spend time in prayer in the "right" way?  I am not a "kneeler", so I pray on my feet, sitting in the car on the way to work, when someone comes into my office, and while just sitting reflecting on the beauty of the garden.  Prayer is just talking to God about the regular stuff of life.  It isn't always this structured, totally organized methodology.  I won't win any points on "organization" as it comes to my prayers.  I just let them flow and let God take care of putting "organization" to them.  Do we spend enough time with his people?  I guess this is up for interpretation for most.  I have been a three service a week church-goer, to a one service a week church-goer.  I have attended small groups and gone periods without one.  There is a balance which must be maintained between it all.  This is all I am saying.

The most telling part of walking with Jesus is the evidence of us having walked with him.  This is the focus of my life and the hope I have for each of you. When others look upon your "lifestyle", my prayer is that they don't see the "opulence" of the world, but that which comes from having beheld the face of Jesus!  Just sayin!