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Huh, so that's it!

There is a pretty familiar question that we might all hear from time to time this week, if not everyday: "Are you serious?" Whenever someone poses this question, they may not really be seeking the truth about your level of trustworthiness, or even your ultimate desire to commit to something. In fact, they might just be saying this to exclaim some message of surprise - like they could not possibly imagine what we just did or said as even remotely possible! There is another saying: "Let's get serious now." This one is often spoken as a word or two of admonishment designed to get us focused (and often to get us refocused) on what is at hand. These aren't words spoken to just hear ourselves speak - they are spoken because there is some need to make a course correction - to get back to what we should be doing.

Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug. (Isaiah 51:1)

When you are serious about something, there is a process that occurs. First, there is engagement in conscious thought - you focus your capacity for understanding and processing on the subject or task at hand. Then you have determined the subject or task to be weighty enough to require your attention and time. In turn, you make a determination to undertake it with earnestness. So, the process begins by taking conscious thought and ends up getting us into action of some sort - not any lackluster action, but one that shows our determination and focus. Isaiah is speaking to Israel in his words of prophecy, but there are always tidbits of truth for us in each message spoken so many years ago. God would like us to really think about the things we take seriously in life. If you have paper and pen, take a moment to make two columns. On the left, put a title at the top "Serious About" - on the right, put a title "Not So Much". Now, as you go throughout your day today, take a moment here and there to write down the things you are really serious about today - those things you give your capacity of thought to, that you have determined to be weighty enough to require your focused attention, and those you have some sense of earnestness in seeing completed.

I usually undertake this "exercise" on a pretty regular basis. Why? Simply because I have a tendency to allow things to drift into my realm of thought and attention that really are demanding too much of my attention and time! As I refocus on what it is I am serious about - I often see my list can be a little too self-focused (taking time and giving attention to what will satisfy my needs rather than the needs of those God places in my life). Now, this may not be the case with you, but it could very well be. If so, putting this down on paper actually helps you and I to recognize the things which are consuming our time and perhaps even consuming "us". If you are serious about RIGHT living and committed to SEEKING God....ponder....ow do you see the connection between what Isaiah advises and my little exercise? Yep, as you took time to write those things out in one of those columns, you were "pondering" what it is you are committed to - what you (or others who have influence in your life) have determined to be worthy of your thought and attention. You can think of pondering as a kind of "chewing upon" exercise. You kind of keep pouring over and over the list until you begin to see how each of the things listed is really affecting your relationships with God or each other, and even balance in your life. There is much to be gained by taking time to ponder.

Isaiah was speaking to a nation of "believers" who had taken their eye off of the things which were most important. In fact, they find themselves driven into servitude to nations around them and living under the burden of being "slaves" to another country's leader. God's intention was for them to live free - unburdened and definitely not under the leadership of these hostile countries. How did they get to this point? Maybe if someone had asked, "Are you serious?" a little earlier, they might not have drifted this far! I don't know about you, but as hard as it is to hear an accountability partner ask me the tough questions, I appreciate their words! It is often exactly what I need in order to refocus! Ponder the rock from which you were cut. Are you familiar with the passage from I Peter 2:5 which refers to us as living stones? When we actually take time to consider the rock from which we are cut, we are considering the things which make our "cornerstone" so reliable. His love, grace, and forgiveness. His truthfulness, commitment, and transparency. In turn, we begin to emulate the "stone" from which we were taken - we begin to look and act like Christ.

Ponder the quarry from which you were dug. I live close enough to some of the copper mines in Arizona to know what a mine looks like. I also have been to the quarries from which granite is taken. Having this experience allows me to recognize some things about a quarry. First, it is a pretty dirty place. There is a whole lot of "turning over" of soil until you find the thing you desire most. God has taken us from a whole lot of "dirt". Second, once the copper is removed or the granite cut, it is a thing of beauty and function. We are not dug from the quarry of sin to just "exist" - but to be a thing of beauty and function in the kingdom of God. So, ponder with me today. You might be surprised what it is you discover about yourself - and God! Just sayin!

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