Showing posts with the label Attention

Are you getting the most out of it?

I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love. (Galatians 5:4-6) I bet no one will be surprised to know that I spent a great deal of time trying to be holy by completing various religious 'plans' and 'projects'. I'd fast for a day, not really knowing why I was doing it, but someone told me it would 'make me closer to God'. I'd read a certain number of chapters in the Bible every day, not really getting much out of it, all because someone told me I needed to make a 'plan' for reading through the Bible every year. I'd go to church every Sunday morning, Sunday even

What? Who? Where?

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans 8:35, 37) There are lots of things and people working overtime to separate us from the pursuit of our first love - Christ. What? You say he isn't your 'first love'? Well, if he isn't, he needs to be! We will never experience any love so loyal, any grace so deep, or any peace so settling as what we enjoy in putting him first in our lives. Could it be we are so easily overcome or overwhelmed by life's hard things because we haven't given him 'first place' in our lives?  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powe

Squander less....embrace more

What difference does a day make? To some, a day is an eternity because they are never really confident they will see another. To others, a day seems like an eternity because they are waiting with a degree of impatience for something big to happen they have been dreaming about for quite some time. To God, a day is something like a fraction of a second to us - hard for us to imagine, beyond our comprehending. Every moment matters. Today's seconds may slip away from us unnoticed if we are not careful, but with God, not one of those miliseconds are ever missed. “So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed. Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don’t squander your precious life. Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work. When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God’s good pleasure. But if you wrong me, you damage your very

Our greatest attention - Our greatest affection

Bless our God, O peoples! Give him a thunderous welcome! Didn't he set us on the road to life? Didn't he keep us out of the ditch? He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires, brought us into hardscrabble country, pushed us to our very limit, road-tested us inside and out, took us to hell and back; finally he brought us to this well-watered place. (Psalm 66:8-12) Maybe we think "blessing God" means giving a little of our hard earned income in the collection plate on Sunday, or perhaps singing a sweetly sung hymn. To bless means to exalt, magnify, and glorify the one we consider worthy of such a position and honor. It means we worship and adore the object of our affection and attention. What we miss most of the time is that the one we worship and adore is supposed to be  the object of both our affection AND our attention. The one who receives our greatest attention usually holds our greatest affection , and because of this we find opportuni

Give credit where it is due

Harry S. Truman reminds us, "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." I wonder how many of us go through our lives just trying to get credit for whatever good we manage to accomplish and totally discount the very significant struggle we have with that stuff in our lives that often might just border on being a little bit 'not so good'? Most of the time, the desert region around where I live is kind of arid, not very 'colorful', and kind of scraggly. Yet, whenever we have a particularly wet winter and early springtime showers, something amazing happens to the desert floor. Not only do the cacti come into full bloom, but there is a plethora of wildflowers that spring forth. I had never really considered the fact that most of the wildflowers in the world go completely unnoticed by human eye. They spring forth from the hard soil of the earth, struggle against the elements, bloom in all their majesty, and no one ever sets an eye

Use it or lose it

When I used to play team sports, I used to like basketball. The game was both a challenge in endurance and accuracy. We had to run a lot to keep up with the movement of the ball, but we also had to be very accurate in our passing of the ball to the next player, while assisting them in making their lay-up shot with absolute accuracy. As I have gotten a little older and a whole lot more out of shape than I used to be, I have neither the endurance, nor the accuracy! I have tried shooting hoops in the driveway with my grandsons, but alas...I stink! I miss more than I hit. My skill didn't leave overnight - it left because I failed to use the skill to keep it 'in shape'. My muscles have lost their tone and my eyesight requires more and more correction every couple of years. All this combined leads to a fairly 'ineffective' basketball player now. Use it or lose it - isn't that what they say? I wonder what we haven't used in a while that we might not even realize we

Your full attention, please

My mother frequently uses the term "Listen to me!" as a way of getting my attention so that I actually stop, pay close attention, and hear out whatever her idea or issue is at the moment. It isn't always at the most convenient moment, nor is it always easy for her to get out whatever it is she wants to share. Yet, it is important enough for her to ask to for me to hear it, so I respond with, "I'm listening, mom", and she begins.  It isn't said in anger or in a moment of disappointment. Rather, these words are usually spoken in a "sing-song" manner, but with very specific intent - they are intended to get me to REALLY listen to what she was saying. Why? Because she knows she has something to say even if it is getting harder for her to say it! She has walked through much already, learned many lessons, and has the advantage of experience on her side, but the disadvantage of advancing age makes it harder and harder for her to actually form those th

Know when to quit...

Do you have enough sense to know when to quit?  In my industry, we call this "work - life balance" - knowing when work needs to come to an end and the things in life which matter outside of work become our focus with enough energy and enthusiasm still left to actually enjoy them.  Quite a few people in your circle of influence may struggle with this "knowing when to quit" kind of thing - whether it is in the realm of a job they go off to each day, or something which distracts them equally as much in their leisure life.  Either way, if there isn't balance, we find ourselves engaged in what becomes the focal point of our lives and this can demand a very disproportionate amount of our time, energy, and heart. Do not overwork yourself just to become wealthy; have enough sense to know when to quit. As soon as you become fixed on riches, they vanish. For suddenly they sprout wings and become like a soaring eagle flying high in the sky. (Proverbs 23:4-5 VOICE)

What you "toying with"?

Desire:  Those things we long for or crave; the hope for satisfaction of some sort.  I think we would all admit to the fact of having desires - some are quite innocent, while others give us a little bit of a challenge in life.  Some desires are easily fulfilled, while others will be the things we chase after repeatedly and find no satisfaction in ever obtaining.  What we forget is the "hold" desires place on us as we pursue whatever it is which becomes the object of our attention (focus).  It is almost impossible to have a desire and then not to want to "go after it" with some form of passionate pursuit.  In the evenings, I will look over at mom and see her pondering something.  I know this usually means she is thinking about what might be in the house which she can "nibble on" for a wee snack to tide her over till bedtime.  She isn't really all that hungry because we had a good dinner - she just wants something crunchy, chewy, or sweet to satisfy a l

Principle 17: Be Aware of Your Heart

We have a significant issue in society today related to the stability of the institution of marriage - what was designed to be the pledge of one life to another for the entirety of their lifetimes.  We even have issues with figuring out how to define marriage anymore - with everyone trying to "redefine" it to fit their desire.  Probably not too many of us think we will deal with adultery when we enter into marriage, any more than we think we will have to deal with the issues of prostitution or pornography.  Yet, today's culture puts the sanctity of this union we refer to as "marriage" to the test with all kinds of issues, doesn't it?  You only need to view one night's television to reveal the subtle undertones of the issues we are facing - some not as subtle as others! What we don't realize is that damage we do when we give our hearts (and bodies) to someone outside of the sanctity of marriage - whether it is through prostitution, pornography, adult

Football anyone?

We sometimes get into a pickle and then wonder how on earth we got ourselves where we stand at the moment, right?  What we do in those moments is "look back".  We are trying to figure out what brought us to this point - because we really don't know where we "slipped up".  Truth be told, we do this more often than we'd like to admit - finding ourselves "looking back" for that moment in time when we made the choice to go one way when we were being beckoned another.  Probably one of the most telling things we will discover is not some "point" where we slipped up, but in what it was we allowed "into" our lives at that point.  We allowed something to invade our lives which actually "ran interference" with the truths we knew to be true, or the choices we knew to be right.  When a football team assigns someone to "run interference" they are asking that individual or group of individuals to divert the attention of th

You and me - let it be!

Distraction:  That which divides the attention or prevents concentration. Distractions are often things which provide some type of amusement or entertainment - taking away our focus.  The idea of being distracted hits home whenever we have to put on the brakes too fast because we have been daydreaming, or at times when we find ourselves being asked for our opinion on what has just been said but have no idea what was actually said because we were miles off in la-la land!  We all struggle with distractions - some of us worse than others.  For some it is a relationship - the amount of time and effort we spend in the relationship actually deters us from being involved in things which are most important in our lives - things like time with God, attention to our family, etc.  For others it is some form of media - taking away attention we should have been directing toward relationships, work which is piling up around the home, etc.  There are innumerable ways to be distracted - so we must lea

Clutter got you?

PAY ATTENTION:  Did you ever stop to consider these two words in that order? First, to "pay" means you give something over in order to obtain something different.  It has the idea of "transfer".  "Attention" has the idea of directing one's mind toward something.  So the "transfer" here is one of "mind space" - we are giving our "mind space" to another in order to have what it is they will "fill" that space with.  At first that may not seem like much, but if we do this enough, we become filled with the right stuff.  If we yield our "mind space" to the wrong stuff - that which is very limiting in its focus and which really has no lasting benefit for us - we find our minds become "cluttered" rather than more "ordered".  Maybe this is why God adds the next words - listen to me.  The idea of giving one's mind space over to God in order for him to fill it involves some willingness on o

Fritter not!

Are you a "fritterer"?  You know, someone who sees time slip through their fingers, then wonders where it went?  To fritter means to allow something to slip away little by little.  It is unlike a glass slipping from our hand and shattering on the ground because we had wet hands when we tried to hold it. In this case, were were unprepared to hold the glass securely, so it slipped and we were full conscious of it slipping.  To fritter a glass out of your hand is kind of like dozing off with a glass of water in your hand.  Slowly, little by little, the glass tips ever so slightly.  Then it tips a little more, and a little more.  Then in the next short passage of time, the glass lays on its side, contents flowing freely from it.  We can remain asleep, unaware of the contents being spilled, or the condition of our "hand" which "relaxed" its grip and allowed the spillage to occur. A life frittered away disgusts  God ;  he loves those who run straight for the f

Invitation to attend

18  If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.  (Proverbs 29:18) It has occurred to me that not knowing what God is doing is often the condition of many of our hearts each day - we are "along for the ride", but oblivious to the destination.  One of the questions the pastor asked yesterday was, "What is this Christian experience all about anyway?"  It occurred to me this morning that many of us would have a hard time with that question - not because we aren't enjoying our salvation, but because we really aren't sure what we are doing with our salvation. Our passage puts it pretty plainly.  We can head out for a destination - not knowing the reason we are travelling the road we are on, oblivious to the traveling companions we have along the way - all the while making forward progress of some sort.  The question we need to ask is if it the "right" prog