Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What the Bible Says About Alcohol...

A big shout-out to my friend, Mark Marshall, pastor of Clearview Baptist Church in Franklin, TN for this post on What the Bible Says About Alcohol?

Let me get this part on the table right up front. Nowhere does the Bible prohibit the use of alcohol in all circumstances. In other words, nowhere does the Bible say you are to avoid alcohol completely. However, Scripture gives a number of very strong warnings about its use.

He then goes on to outline what the Bible does say. Well done, Mark!

If you've ever wondered what the Bible says about alcohol, take a few minutes to check it out here today.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Consider the Source?

I was confronted today by someone whom I love dearly and trust greatly. He drew my attention to a personal flaw and challenged me to face it and change it. He is right. I know it and will continue to work to right it. But there's a larger question that I considered after our discussion.

Why is correction so much easier to take from some people than from others? I mean, correction is correction, right?

If someone observes something in us that needs to change, and tells us, that should be enough, no?

No. Because we have a hard time separating the message from the messenger and the motive behind the delivery. Some comments and critiques come easier from people whose motives are noble and unquestioned.

Noble motives are those based on love and altruism. In other words, people who act selflessly, for the benefit of others, doing the right things right for the right reasons with nothing expected in return are noble people. Noble people also act consistently, therefore their motives are unquestioned. That's the kind of person we desire to be: one who can offer critique that is received eagerly.

We know all this, do we not? It's why we console ourselves when we receive a message we don't want to hear with the cliche "consider the source."

Here's the gotcha. We dismiss criticism coming from some people at great risk to ourselves. Though the messenger may be ignoble or inconsistent, he may still offer us valuable insight into our character and our behavior. Critique is easier to receive from some more than others. "Considering the source" may ease the pain now while shielding us from what we really need to hear.

Job said, How painful honest words can be! (Job 6:25). But the writer of Proverbs says whoever listens to counsel is wise (12:15) and listen to counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise in later life (19:20).

No caveats. No disclaimers. No "consider the source." Instead, consider the critique. Regardless of the motive of the messenger, there just may be something there.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wood rot...

This subject deserves a little more treatment than I could give in a Tweet and a Facebook status update.

After Tropical Storm Hannah passed through last week, my wife noticed a water stain in the window sill in our sun room. I looked a little closer and when I pressed on the wood, it felt like a sponge. It was definitely rotten.

The paint was just as clean, bright and white as it was on day one. Only when pressing on the wood was the damage obvious. I looked outside and found that the caulking around the window had begun to dry and a hairline crack was evident upon close inspection. It was enough to let water in and, over time, the damage was done.

Last night, as I pried, chiseled, pulled and levered the old wood out, the parallels to our lives became more and more evident. It is easy to paint over the blemishes and imperfections in our lives. It is just as easy to hide the private, inner thoughts that we want to protect from the scrutiny of others. But they are still there. Like the water. Creating an environment in which the damage occurs on the inside. Then, when a little stain appears, and someone prods a little deeper, the rot is exposed.

So what to do? First, find the leak and caulk the seam. Stop the intrusion of whatever is tempting, gnawing, chipping away or attacking you. Then, expose the rot and get it out. It will be painful (think hammers, wood chisels, and Dremel tools), but necessary if repairs are to be made. Then celebrate that healing has come.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Our best? Or just good enough?

Dilbert.comYes, I do like Dilbert. Scott Adams can certainly present extraordinary insights into organizational behavior by observing what are all too often ordinary occurrences. Sadly, I find "us" depicted in the strips. And it challenges me to change.

This strip reminded me of a book I picked up in seminary: An Enemy Called Average by John Mason. This book is a great collection of devotions, quotes, anecdotes and thoughts that challenged me then and now. I think it was the first place I saw the concept that the enemy of "doing our best is not doing our worst. Instead it is doing 'just enough.'"

Let's raise the bar today. A new benchmark. Our best.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What are you doing right now?

Is reading this post the best thing you could be doing? I hope so... <G>

Merlin Mann, over at 43Folders posts "Right Now, What Are You Doing?" noting how easy it is to be distracted by the web, social networking, etc. He illustrates a "fix" with a page that loads with his browser or tab-sets, that is an instant reminder that the path of distraction lies directly ahead.

That's true spiritually as well. It is easy to be distracted from the most important things by otherwise good things. They're just not the best things.

When your focus or attention begins to drift, Merlin suggests "Catch the drifting as it happens, refocus, then repeat as necessary."

That may be the best thing you do all day. In fact, repeat often enough, and it could change your life.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Spill the wind

One of the things I like about sailing is the infinite number of adjustments that can be made to the trim of the sail. Some days I just set them and forget them. On others, I tweak them in all sorts of ways by easing or tightening lines, trying to eke out that last bit of speed drawn from the power of the wind.

Today, the wind was blowing about 15-20 miles per hour in the St. Simons Sound, with gusts much higher. Several of the gusts led to our being overpowered, which is evident by the heeling of the boat and the excited shouts from my crew as they awaken from their seasick-induced slumber.

One of the sail adjustments available is to increase the amount of twist in the sail. Simply put, the bottom of the sail is presented full on to the wind for power, but the top twists away, spilling the wind from the sail. This reduces heel angle without sacrificing too much speed, especially in breezy conditions.

While James said "resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7), Paul suggested that there are times we need to run rather than resist: from immorality (1 Cor 6:18), idolatry (1 Cor 10:14), and youthful passions (1 Tim 2:22). Paul's words suggest to me that I need to spill the wind when faced with temptation. While resisting the temptation, I need to run toward righteousness, faith, love, peace and a pure heart (1 Tim 2:22). I resist the enemy by standing firmly in the word, but I present him less of a target as I head off in pursuit of higher aims.

So, if you are being overpowered today, spill the wind. Don't try to stand against everything that comes your way. Stand firm where you can and then run from the rest.