Author: kenraetz

How Far We Can Go in Sin

First, I am a Christian.  Most reading this know that.  I have a mix of family who believe very similar to me and some who do not believe in a God at all.  My story is inherently biased toward my faith journey.  I hope you’ll take some time to read this.  It is from my heart.

My pastor has a way of taking a message from the Bible that could easily be conveyed as “don’t do that”, and turning into a message which my heard reminds me “I might do that too.”  Such was the case for this morning’s message, a walk through Judges 19-21, a horrendous story of a people of God who had gone so far away from their roots of faith, obedience, and a strong moral compass and committed heinous acts.  Our pastor could have avoided this section or simply put a nice little spin on “the world is bad… let’s try to be good”.  Instead, he plowed into it and God is using this to convict my heart and prompt me to really dig deep in my faith journey.

In Judges, we see the people of God had all but abandoned their adherence to any commandments from God.  They had gotten into a cycle of sin, consequence, crying out to God, God bringing a “deliverer”… then doing the whole thing all over again.  And the statement that probably sums it all up is the last verse of Judges v21:25, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Far too often these days, I look at world events, such as yet one more shooting of police officers today (this time in Baton Rouge), and I get angry and want to see justice done over the senseless violence and hatred happening in this world.  But the message being revealed in my heart is that deep down, I had a seed of racism that is inherent in my heart.  This is not just a white/black racism.  I am inherently selfish and will develop opinions on people based on race, age, social/financial status, job… you name it.  And though we don’t want to admit it, we all are… to some degree.  Everyone is “doing what is right in their own eyes.”  We are a world of people choosing our own morality… our own “right way.”

After the message this morning , I found myself thinking about what God is calling me to do in response.  I came up with a few things:

Recognize that this could be me…  It IS me!

The people of Israel at the time of Judges had strayed away from God’s law.  They had become a “shame culture”, where the most important pursuit was the approval of man.  So, when family members did something they perceived as bringing shame on their own life, they would seek justice, retribution, or “honor killing”.  And sadly, this kind of culture still exists today.  Just this week, a news story out of Pakistan of a so-called “honor killing” has brought us face-to-face with the depravity of man.  They say that over 1,000 “honor killings” happen in Pakistan annually.  But what about us, here in cozy America.  Do we live with this same kind of retribution-oriented culture, living out of shame over what people think?   Spend a few minutes on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform.  If you’re not saying what the community wants you to say, you are condemned, mocked, and character-assassinated by people you don’t even know.

I am capable of horrific things.  My heart is deceptive and inherently wicked.  The more time I spend in my marriage, with my children, and in the workplace, the more I see how my sin affects others.  This story in Judges could easily have been me.

See what God has done.

God’s love for the world has overcome the wickedness of man.  While we sometimes turn our attention to “trying to be good”, we must know that we can never be good enough.  Ever.  Some people hold to a belief that most people are inherently good.  That they want to do good.  How do we reconcile then the evil deeds done in this world?  Do we say “that is the exception.”?  Perhaps it is.  But then, when I’m in relationship with someone, as soon as they do something I don’t like or that infringes on my independence, I get really angry.  People say that God could not judge people… that he is Love, and that He wouldn’t judge/condemn people who are not deserving of eternal life.  But… we would be ready to do the same thing… if the crime were great enough.  Is there anyone out there willing to let this guy go had he survived the terror attack?  What if your spouse, child, or best friend had just been killed by him?  What then?  We all have our limits to grace.

Fortunately, God does not see humanity as divided up between good guys and bad guys (at least in terms of our behaviors).  God sees it in terms of His great plan and the story He is making.  While the story in Judges 19-21 demonstrates the wickedness and how far man would go in his depravity, God demonstrated his love for us by Christ dying in our place.  (Romans 5:6-8)  It is through Christ that I can see the hopelessness fade away and the new direction and life of hope, faith, and resurrected love be put to a new and grand purpose.  This is the life I have today.  And I am very thankful for.

Respond with repentance

How far did God go to provide us salvation in Jesus?  Pretty doggone far.  How far must I go in turning to Jesus?  Pretty far.  True repentance, my pastor said, is “turning from the ‘self-life’ (the life focus on gaining for myself), and turning to Jesus”.  I must really focus on and be honest about what I’m really being saved from, and what it took to save me.  Honesty in repentance is not an easy thing.  But I must.  My life… my joy… my heart depends on it.

My prayer… my need… and my commitment, is to devote a daily time of prayer of confession and repentance, accepting the grace of God my Father, and the Lordship of Jesus in my life.  Each day.  I need that.  I too will stray.

I hope you’ll take a minute to listen to the sermon.  It was very helpful for me today.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/grace-audio/Sermons/20160717.mp3

Going to California!

There is a pretty clear line drawn on my blog right now… my last blog post occurred in September, 2014. Why? On August 8 of last year, I said goodbye to an organization that had given me a chance to grow up and become a leader in a field that I really enjoy working in: Data Analytics. I was with my former employer for 16 years, and I could not have asked for a better group of leaders and co-workers.

But when I saw my opportunity to step out and start a new company, focusing intently on client service and agile project delivery, I could not pass it up. And things have been going pretty well. Starting your own business is not for the faint-of-heart, but it is a thrill nonetheless. And I could not ask for a better business partner than Will Harvey, our co-founder at Think Data Insights.

In our field there is an annual conference that tends to be “the place to be.” We were deciding whether we should go or not (you know… did the cost justify the value), when I decided I would submit an abstract for a topic to speak on. And it turned out they chose my topic! I’m so pumped! So, in mid-April, I’ll be travelling to Santa Clara, California, to attend an amazing conference and speak on the topic of “Prototyping Analytics”.

I wrote a blog on it if you are interested in more details.

I'm speaking at PASS BA Conference

I’m speaking at PASS BA Conference

Work: Miserable Job -Or- Opportunity To Serve?

servant-leadership-jesus-washing-feet

Do you enjoy the work you do?  Do you find it sometimes challenging just to go in and do the same thing all over again, day after day?  Growing up there was a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial that often played about a donut maker who was always getting up to make the donuts. One night he “passes himself” coming and going. That is certainly what it has felt like lately for me.

I’ve also noticed lately that a number of people in and around my life have been posting and talking about various aspects of their jobs that they hate. While I can truly relate to the challenges of getting up and slogging it out at work sometimes, I find it genuinely disheartening to think that people do not enjoy getting up and doing what they do for a living. I have certainly had days that I didn’t enjoy, but by-and-large, I feel like I’ve been blessed to do what I love to do.

I recently left my employer after nearly 16 years of service and it has caused me to reflect on the many opportunities I have had over those years. It led me to step out on my own to start my own company, and for that, I am truly grateful. For more on that journey and what I’m doing with Think Data Insights, check out our website at http://thinkdatainsights.com. We’re having an exciting time!

What I want to do here is present an opposing view of work for you to consider; a view that looks at our work not as a “job” (which seems to carry a VERY negative connotation with most people), but rather, something altogether different. What if our jobs weren’t really jobs at all, but rather places where we were able to serve people, make their lives better, make a living in the process, and… what if…

We found JOY in our work!

What if “job” were really a good word? What if one of our greatest callings here on earth is to “serve others”? How would that change our outlook?

An angry customer? Just someone having a bad day (that by the way, we have no idea what might be going on in their lives). Perhaps I can make their life better.

An extra or early shipment of inventory that I now have to stock that reminds me of all the screaming throngs of customers that may come soon to buy it? Perhaps I can be thankful that I live in a society where there is such demand for goods that allows me to have a job.

A co-worker not doing their job? Perhaps there is something going on in their life that I can minister to.

No salary increase this year? Perhaps the company is doing all they can to keep everyone employed. It is a good reminder that these business owners are people too, who have sacrificed a lot to provide jobs for their employees. They’re not the “evil rich people” many in our culture want to paint them to be.

So, what is stopping you today from enjoying your work? Better yet, what is stopping you from being a servant-hearted leader, employee, co-worker… even friend, husband, son, daughter? My challenge for me and to you my readers is to go and SERVE SOMEONE today.

Friendship and Joy in God

I am a highly relational person.  In most personality studies, my traits lean me toward quiet influence and steady support for those around me.  I enjoy collaborating with people, and most of all, I love the close relationships I have in my life.  Carol, my wife of 19 years and truly my best friend, is one such example.  I have known her now for 26 years (since high school), enjoying the gift of a friendship that grows stronger each day.  And this has brought me great joy.

I also have enjoyed several very close friendships with some key men in my life.  These are vital friendships in my journey of faith.  These men have seen me through some difficult challenges in my life, they have shared their lives with me, and I have enjoyed an amazing fellowship with these men.  What is so incredible to me is how God brought them to me from so many different places: church (both current and previous), previous employment, and even counseling.  And these friendships have brought me great joy.

As I sit in the dark in our room here at Ridgecrest, NC, with my family still sleeping, I am also reminded of the gift my children have been to me.  My two older boys (young men, really) are finishing up their fourth year at a two-week camp for boys here in the mountains near Asheville, NC.  We will be picking them up in a few hours.  And I have missed them.  Yes, I am their father.  Yes, that is not always easy.  But I would never trade it for the world.  And as they grow, I know that our relationship will change to more of a friendship.  And this entire process has brought me great joy.

So, as I began reading during my quiet time this morning, my eyes (and my heart) were drawn to these amazing words in Romans 5:10-11:

10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (emphasis mine)

So often in the church, the message we hear sounds a little more like we’re still enemies with God, but He will tolerate us because of Jesus.  But we better be on our best behavior or He may decide to send us off after all.

I for one do not do well under that kind of message.  Being highly relational, I am very sensitive to my perception of what people around me think of me.  So, when my mind begins to process my relationship with Jesus the same way, I struggle in my faith.

This passage says that through Christ and His saving work, I am now friends with God.  This is astounding.  Friends hang together.  Friends share their deepest secrets.  Friends work through hard things.  Friends are there for each other when they need them most.  And friends… real friends… last a long time.

Friendship with God means I can trust whatever process God has for me at any moment of my life.  Friendship with God means I can unequivocally trust Him with my whole heart.  And friendship with God leads me to rejoice in the beautiful life He has given me.  I can have confident hope in my salvation.  I can have utter joy.

So, today, I choose joy.  I realize a few days after the boys come home and school begins next week, life will return to normal.  It will be hard.  We’ll get mad at each other over various meaningless things.  They’ll assert their independence in ways very frustrating to me.  And I’ll be ready for them to go back to camp long before they do again next year.  But in the end, I will rejoice in my God and all He has done, and I will choose joy in the midst of these beautiful relationships God has given me.

A Haunting Reading

It has been a while since I have written on my blog.  I had not realized how long (almost 2 months), until a few people who recently read a few posts commented on them, causing me to go back and read them myself.  I have wondered why I have not posted.  Did the newness wear off?  Did the excitement of writing and sharing get replaced with the reality of the demands of life?  I don’t know.  But I would like to get back at it.  I so enjoy writing.

This morning I had an interesting experience.  As I sat downstairs reading my Bible, I came across a passage that I could not simply pass over.  I read it and paused.  I reread it.  I tried to move on, but I was haunted by this passage.  Here it is:

Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12

The words in this passage are clear.  There is nothing I had to look up or seek deeper knowledge on what it could mean.  It states very simply that if a Christian desires a godly life in Jesus (which by what I read of Scripture, we all ought to), then we will suffer persecution.  Now, given that Paul was writing this letter to a very specific audience, it could be easy to dismiss what he is saying.  Christians in the time these letters were written had been persecuted mercilessly.  Paul continually sought to encourage his fellow believers to press on in the faith.  So, in many ways, this was just another reminder to these believers that they will indeed experience persecution.  I can hear Paul now… “yep… you can expect it.  Don’t be surprised by it one bit.”

That brings me to modern day Christianity.  In particular, to American Christianity.  I believe we are living in an amazing time of peace and prosperity in the United States.  I will be the first to admit that I was born into a privileged life, one that by comparison to much of the rest of the world, would have the appearances of royalty.   And I will also admit that I don’t experience persecution.  I just don’t.  And I think that is why this verse haunted me.  If everyone who wants to live a godly life in Jesus will suffer persecution, why don’t I?  So, I prayed, re-read the passage, prayed some more.  Then I read more of 2 Timothy 3, and I finally landed on the following conclusions:

God speaks to me through the “haunting verses”

I had a sense as I was sitting there reading that verse that God was “fathering me”, wanting to teach me something profound.  I really felt like I was on holy ground.  Honestly, this does not happen very often in my life.

Rejection = Persecution

I am often afraid to share Jesus Christ with other people, or to live my life boldly, and a big reason why is I do not want to be rejected.  And for me, this is an experience of persecution.  I often crave affirmation from people, and to have someone reject the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ for something the world has to offer is really difficult for me to bear.

Putting my hope in Christ above affirmation of others IS one way I can live a godly life

I may not be the next Billy Graham, and that is OK.  God uniquely made me to fulfill a purpose in this life.  One of the barriers for me doing this is seeking the approval of others.  So, to reject this and turn to Christ as my greatest hope is one way I can “live a godly life in Jesus”.

If I am not experiencing persecution, this may be an indication that I am desiring something more than Jesus himself

Jesus-seeking Christians will experience persecution.  What form that takes for each person, I don’t know.  I do know that I am called to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit leading me to see where I might be denying Jesus in my everyday life.

 

Now what?

I’ll probably re-read 2 Timothy 3 again tomorrow morning.  I loved the sense that I was near God this morning.  And I will pray that God would continue to “haunt me” through his teaching and leading my by His Word.  And finally, I will “seek first the kingdom of God” by starting my day in prayer, meditation, and reflection on His Word tomorrow morning…  before news, Facebook, e-mail, and even family demands.  I will place my hope in Christ, the anchor for my soul.

Taking The Stairs

I am near the end of a very enjoyable and challenging book called Take The Stairs, by Rory Vaden.  With “7 Steps to Achieving True Success” as the subtitle, I knew I was in for an amazing ride.  Who would not want success?  And in only 7 steps, right?  I’m kind of a sucker for productivity and motivational books and speakers.  But I had been reading a number of Rory’s columns in our local newspaper, and I found them to be very insightful and inspiring.  So, I decided to take the plunge and buy the book.

No elevator to success

The theme of his book is simple:  We live in an escalator-mentality world, full of people, like you and me, who choose easy over rewarding, short-term pleasure over long-term fulfillment.  The solution?  Take the Stairs.  Not necessarily in an actual “take the stairs everywhere you go” kind of way (though more on that later).  But more of a Take the Stairs mindset.  A way of thinking about your world, your relationships, your job… really everything.  Doing the hard things that frankly, many people just don’t want to do.  Sometimes experiencing pain, discomfort, and “less” now, so that you can experience unbelievable freedom, satisfaction, and “fullness” later.

Now, here’s the good part.  Let me tell you what has happened since I’ve started reading Take the Stairs:

  1. I am literally “taking the stairs” every day at work now.  I work on the 3rd floor, and for the most part, I took the stairs down each day.  But I always take the stairs up now… always.
  2. I got my wife Carol to read this book.  Now, you have to understand.  She enjoys reading, but frankly, with the life and schedule demands she has on her, I don’t see when she could read.  And I’m the one with all of these great “idea” books I’m telling her about.  She picked this one up and we’re talking about the ideas… together!  It is amazing.
  3. I began a workout program in my home 2 weeks ago.  The full schedule of this Burst training routine is Mon, Tues… then off Wed, back on Thur, Fri, Sat… then off Sun.  I have completed 11 workouts in a row, according to the schedule.  I am feeling more fit by the day.  I LOVE IT!
  4. I have taken action on a few personal and work goals and am beginning to see things a little more clearly on next steps to take.  (That sounds vague, but I can’t really talk much about it right now).  Suffice to say, I am seeing fruit.
  5. I have seen various personal struggles with sin dissipate, being replaced with a joy and love for Christ.  Not perfected… but definitely in the right direction.

So, I want to encourage anyone who is tired of being average, living with an escalator, “Procrasti-nation” mindset… go take the stairs.  Whether you read the book or not.  Go do something on purpose… because it is hard and rewarding.  Your faith will grow.  Your confidence will grow.  And I think your desire and passion will grow.

I Hate Cancer… Let’s Stop It

I hate cancer.  I used to be scared of cancer.  Now, I just hate it.  I have seen numerous family and friends die at the hands of that wicked monster.  My first experience with cancer was with my grandmother.  I first learned of her skin cancer diagnosis while I was in college.  Since then, I’ve seen my aunt and father also pass, along with several family friends.  I truly hate cancer.

Why am I choosing to write about cancer now?  It has been several years since anyone close to me has died.  However, some dear friends of ours recently lost a very close friend of theirs to breast cancer.  I’ve been following the thoughtful, tear-jerking, sweet posts about this mother/wife/friend who succumbed to cancer.  What a great way to honor her through the many words about the significance of her life.  And it occurred to me that it is time to share a conviction I have, which I hope can also serve to honor the memory of anyone who has ever battled this disease.

Of course, we know the big “no-no’s” to prevent cancer:   Smoking, Chewing Tobacco, Excessive exposure to the sun, excessive alcohol, improper colon health…  The news is full of stories of what to add or take away from our lives to “avoid cancer”.  We live in fear that we’ll “catch cancer”.  We gets tests and screenings to see if we have caught it yet.  We live with the thought that “if we are lucky” we might not ever get it.

Over the last 2 years, my family has been exposed to a new way – a new understanding – about how to avoid cancer.  And it has nothing to do with being scare of catching cancer.  It has EVERYTHING to do with changing the health of our body so that we become cancer killers!  If you want to read more about this, there is a great book called The Cancer Killers, by Ben Lerner, Sayer Ji, and others.  This book goes into great detail about how to turn your body into a fighting machine when it comes to cancer.

I’m not here to promote some idea that we can make our lives and health perfect by diet.  Not one bit.  But I do believe that while we are here, we have a responsibility (and a desire) to have the fullest life possible.  We have one life and one body.  Why not live it to the fullest and with the greatest health?  The highlights from the book, in case you don’t look at it, are that there are 5 essentials to killing cancer:

1. Healthy Mind – Learning, growing, being fed spiritually

2. Healthy Nerve Supply

3. Quality Nutrition

4. Exercise – The kind that maximizes oxygen and leans muscle

5. Minimize external toxins

My family and I are not doing this perfectly.  And I very well may be diagnosed with cancer one day.  If that day comes, I’ll have some soul-searching to do on how I will fight it –

Traditional treatment that very often kills the body slowly (Poison, Burn, or Cut)

-OR-

Whole body restoration through natural means

These would be tough decisions indeed.  But for today, I’m going to focus on LIVING and building a healthy body.  Will you join me?

Graveyard Spirals Kill

I am a pilot.  Though I haven’t flown for 14 years, I LOVE flying.  Sometimes on those beautiful middle Tennessee spring or fall days, when the sky is clear, the wind is minimal, and the sun is shining… I’ll look up in the sky and dream that I can be back up there.  Maybe one day.

The worst day of flying still beats the best day of real work.  – Anonymous

So, why all the talk of flying?  Last night, during our discussion at about the importance of remaining connected to the body of believers in the church, I was reminded of the JFK Jr. airplane crash on July 16, 1999.  There is a full NTSB report of the crash here if you’re interested.  The cause of the crash was something pilots talk about a lot, which was a graveyard spiral caused by “failure to maintain control of the airplane due to spatial disorientation.”  As an airplane starts to make a turn, your body tells you “I’m turning” through the various wonderful God-given senses we have.  If the airplane is in a turn long enough, your body will adjust to the turn and given no other visual indicators (like on a dark night), it will feel like you’re flying straight and level.  One look at the altimeter will tell you that you’re descending (this happens in a turn).  Natural response?  Pull up!  But this only serves to tighten your turn, until you spiral into the ground, usually at an alarming rate.  At the point of impact, the NTSB estimated JFK Jr.’s plane was descending at 4,700 feet-per-minute.  In comparison, a standard descent in a commercial airliner is 500 fpm (and you feel it then too).

frightened_child

Like a graveyard spiral, so often through my day, my brain is giving me all sorts of messages on how to interpret what is going on around me.  These messages are influenced by my life experiences, my relationships, my overall body chemistry at that time (if I’m feeling physically or emotionally down, it is more difficult for me to interpret conflict accurately).  In the moment of confusion, I have two choices.

Choose the lie: “you’re not appreciated”, “wait until people find out who you really are”, “they’re laughing at you behind your back”, “Those guys are way better dads than you’ll ever be”)

lies and truth

image courtesy Cindy Bultema blog site

Choose Truth:  God has chosen me to be His own.  He has equipped me for life and godliness.  I am a new creation.  I am His servant, not the world’s.  I was bought with a price, and it cost me nothing – God’s perfect love and sovereignty will cast out all fear in me.

Which do I choose so often?  The lies… at least for a time.  Which is why it is so critical that I not do this life alone.  I MUST be in a community of people, growing, sharing, and BEING REAL.  As our pastor said during his message this Sunday in Hebrews, “ISOLATION KILLS”.

How do we pull out of the graveyard spiral of life?

1. Use your instruments – Focus on the truth, not what you feel like at that moment.  This will not be easy!  Use the instruments of faith, deep friendships, and Godly mentors.  Pilots have instruments in their plane before they fly.  Don’t wait for accountability.  Get it now.  Psalm 15:2, Psalm 25:5, Mark 9:24

2. Reduce power and level out – Often times, whatever is going on in your life is contributing to the chaos behind the lies.  Slow down, cancel extra engagements, get some rest, and eat right.  Even Jesus “got away” at times.  Matthew 14:23

3. Point your nose down – What?  We’re losing altitude and I have to point my nose down?!  YES!  It allows the plane to pickup speed, and thus have greater control over the airplane.  And in life, we need to give up control sometimes, submit to the Godly wisdom and guidance (sometimes through another person), and take ACTION on that guidance.  Trust in your shepherd.  Psalm 23

Are you in a graveyard spiral?  Are you tightening your turn by trying harder, putting a mask on, and isolating?  Get out of the spiral.  Trust God that it will be OK.  Put your faith in Jesus and not what the world says about you.

Family Matters and Family Meetings

My family means a lot to me.  I have been married to my beautiful wife for nearly 19 years, and am blessed to have both 3 sons and a daughter.  They are intelligent, witty, funny, athletic, and creative.  I think they will all be incredible leaders one day.  Each one has a unique giftedness.

My oldest son Connor, 14 years old, has an amazing laser-focus intensity when he is working on something or learning something new.  Once when he was in 5th grade, playing his 2nd year of baseball, he started throwing a new pitch and the coach asked him where he learned it from.  His reply?  I watched a youtube video.  When he was 5 or 6 years old, he spent the entire Christmas day (not stopping until he finished) putting together a Millennium Falcon kit that was intended for ages 9+.  He is a smart and athletic guy.

My next oldest son Brandon, also quite smart and athletic, has an amazingly beautiful personality.  He has hardly ever met a stranger.  He’ll play hard in a sport with even older boys, then sit down and joyfully read a book with his 5-year old brother and 7-year old sister.

Caroline, our 7-year old?  I think I may need to buy a Michael’s store to keep up with the amount of paper and supplies she uses to create the amazingly wonderful ideas she has in her head.  She is always creating, playing make-believe, or dancing.  And I am very thankful to be the delight of her heart.  That’s the place every father should have in a little girl’s heart.

Graham, our 5-year old son is the life of the party.  Though he hates it every time someone says “he’s so cute!”… he really is that cute.  He has watched his brothers play sports now since he was born, and knows more about the different facets of sports than many adults.  He was walking around the house the other day asking Carol’s iPhone about different sports scores.  Siri would respond with a very descriptive phrase “Tennessee pummeled…” and he would just get so tickled.  He also is the snuggliest of the bunch.  He loves getting real close to me or his mom and just sit and rest.

We are a busy family, with 4 kids in school, sports, dance, and church life.  Carol and I have been desiring to have regular weekly family meetings as an opportunity to slow down… to “rest” and bring us closer together for a brief moment during the week.  I came across a couple of resources recently on the art of manliness website with great info on how to conduct a family meeting and developing a family mission statement.  So, last night we had our first real family meeting.  Here are the highlights:

– Lots of fidgeting so Carol got them all squish-balls.

– I sent one to his room because of a negative attitude.  He came back ready.

– I wanted to end it halfway through because everyone seemed like they wouldn’t stay engaged (never mind that they’ll play video games for hours if we let them).

THEN…

– I taught them a couple of really neat ideas around developing a family mission statement.

– All 6 of us had an opportunity to share ideas, questions, and even difficulties in their lives.

– WE PRESSED ON AND FINISHED!

 

So, it was not perfect, by any stretch.  But we did it.  And for that, I’m grateful.  We’ll do it imperfectly again next week, but we’ll keep pressing on and doing it.  Why?

 

Because FAMILY MATTERS!

Lusting for Comfort… Treasuring Something Greater

 

“The lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.”  Khalil Gibran

I heard this quote on my way in to the office this morning, and was stunned.  And I believe it was no accident that I heard it.  So much of my life has been spent securing comfort in this world… an “eternity on earth” of sorts.  I mentioned in my last post my fear of being exposed as an imposter.  That fear is driven by a deeper fear that I’ll lose my little “kingdom” I’m building, and I’ll have my little comforts taken away from me.  Those comforts I long… no, that I lust for.  And as Mr. Gibran states, my soul’s passions having been murdered by my lusts, they now lie in state while the lust simply grins as I mourn over what I’ve lost.

This can’t be how life is supposed to be lived.  What is the antidote to this vicious disease of lusting for comfort?  John Piper, sheds some like in his wonderful message on Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, comparing our lives to the solar system [emphasis mine]:

So it is with the supremacy of Christ in your life. All the planets of your life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and feeling—all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of your life. And if he ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, and a hundred things will be out of control, and sooner or later they will crash into destruction.

Jesus Christ encountered a very confident and wealthy man, who desired something he thought Jesus could give him.

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV)

I’m that man.  I’m the guy who is looking at my treasures sadly because of what I think I’ll lose.  I’m the guy that lives my life as though my planets are held up by me, all the while missing the strong gravitational pull of the Son Jesus Christ, whose blazing glory and brightness of His supremacy is constantly pulling at me to become the most beautiful part of my life.  I’ve been that guy for so long.  But no longer.  Like the parable of the treasure hidden in the field (Matthew 13:44-46), the antidote to the viral spread of discontentment and fear in my life is to treasure Christ for all he is worth.  It is to find supreme satisfaction in the glory and treasure of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, my Savior.

What do you treasure today?  What do the planets of your life revolve around?  To paraphrase Joshua in the Old Testament, as for me and my house, we will put Christ at the center of our solar system, and live with joy that His pull is so strong!