Devotions from James Smith’s book The Good and Beautiful Life
The author talks about judging and that “Judging is making a negative evaluation of others without standing in solidarity with them.” Correcting someone can be healthy and even life-enhancing but judging others never is. We judge others to fix them or to make us feel better about ourselves, thereby showing we are more concerned about ourselves than the other person. Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Others know instinctively if they are being judged and not loved. Even when we try to point out their wrong, the first step toward change is for a person to admit or recognize that there is a problem. When we judge others, we are forcing them to recognize their errors and they may not be ready. Sometimes they don’t know how to change either. Then there is the other factor that our judgment may be wrong….until we have walked in their shoes how do we really know? They may be fighting battles of which we know nothing about. When we judge others we feel superior to them and as we focus on their weaknesses we are spared from admitting our own. Jesus offers us a different way to help others change without judging them. In Matt 7 Jesus said we would be judged by others with the same scrutiny we use. So let us go on to His way that we may truly help others. More tomorrow…
Devotions from James Smith’s book, The Good and Beautiful God
More on how we turn our worries into prayer as it says to do in Phil 4:6-7
Once we have done all we can do in a given situation, we simply turn the matter over to God and then worry won’t take over in our lives. C.S. Lewis once said that a person who has weeds in is garden should not pray about the weeds but pull them up. But when we face situations we cannot change by direct effort, beyond our resources, then we turn the matter over to God. Practically speaking he suggests setting aside 10 -15 minutes a day when we can think about all the things we could be anxious about. Write them down in a notebook and ask what you can to do remedy each of the situations. Make a note to do the things you can do and turn everything else over to God. Then write specific requests to God. As we do this we realize God is available to us in every circumstance, large or small. WE begin to see things from God’s perspective, which puts our problems and concerns into a new light. Somehow as we write things down, it forces us to think about our concerns and if they are driven by false narratives or centered on His kingdom.
Prayer is a gift from God and He gives us this gift to help us discover how loving and caring He is , and to help us grow and mature. As we focus on Him we will notice how our prayer life includes the well-being of others and reflect the values of His kingdom more than that of the world.
May our worries diminish this day!
Devotions from James Smith’s book, The Good and Beautiful Life
In Matt. 6:33 we are told to see the kingdom of God first which means “making the reality and principles of God’s kingdom our first and primary concern.” It means facing our trials and troubles not with anxiety but with trust that God can and will work in them. We can pray, care for the poor and do all kinds of good things but still our primary concern is what God is doing. If we put anything ahead of the kingdom of God, they become idols, even though they are good things.
Worry prevents us from seeking His kingdom. “Anxiety is foolish and accomplishes nothing except to put God out of the picture.” As long as we worry we can’t seek His kingdom first. It is useless to worry about tomorrow for we live only in the present and can count on Him for tomorrow.
In Phil 4:6-7 instead of worrying we are told to pray. We are invited to turn our cares into prayers and as we do this we put the matter into God’s hands.
It allows God to use the resources of the Kingdom to meet our needs. As we do this we discover great peace that is beyond our understanding. As long as we live in fellowship with God, we have nothing to fear for nothing can separate us from His love.
Devotions based on James Smith book, The Good and Beautiful Life
Have you notices how the media plays on our fears to boost their ratings and sales? There is a difference between concern and worry. We can be concerned about many things but worry is what we do after e have planned, prepared and acted cautiously. When we stew about something we have crossed the line into worry. “Worry is a disproportionate level of concern based on an inappropriate measure of fear.” Worry leads to anxiety and is both futile and opposed to kingdom living. Every time we cross the line into worry we have turned our focus away from God and His providence. Sometime we do this because of the false narrative that says, “If we worry enough about something, we will prevent bad things from happening.”
Worry harms our relationship with God, causes physical discomfort and destroys joy. Jesus says in Matt 6 we are not to worry about primary needs like food and clothing. If God provides for the smallest of creatures, won’t he provide for us? Also, If God takes such great pains to make a little, insignificant flower beautiful, then how much more will HE take care of the people He made in his own image.
When we focus on our own limited resources we worry, but if we trust in His abundant resources our worries will cease.
Devotions based on James Smith’s book The Good and Beautiful Life
More today on real treasure.
Wealth pretends to offer what we want from God- Security, comfort, and happiness. That is why we are prone to serve money. But money is not the real issue; our hearts are. It is possible to be very poor and serve mammon; it’s possible to be wealthy and have a kingdom heart. The inward issue – where our heart is set – is what really matters. Matt. 6:24 says we have to choose which master we will serve, God or mammon. Mammon wants us to deny God and slavishly pursue happiness through wealth. God want us to reject mammon and to love and trust Him.
Our kingdom narrative should be that “God will provide for and protect me and mine and therefore we are free to seek His kingdom and invest the resources He gives us for His work. God is out for our good and has endless resources. We can never out ask God.”
Earthly treasures decay. Heavenly treasures accrue eternal interest! When we have the inner attitude of simplicity it will affect our outward decisions. This means having the right narrative about wealth, knowing that it is a provision from God but must not be treated as a god. Let us think about our possessions in light of His kingdom. One suggestion the author has during Lent is to give away 5 things that would be of some value to someone else. That is a start!
Devotions based on James Smith book The Good and Beautiful Life
Our minds are imprinted with narratives that begin very early in life. The way we handle money can be traced to our early experiences regarding material wealth. When Rockefeller was asked how much money he would need to make him happy he said, “Just a little bit more”. This kind of thinking is fueled by the false narrative that I am alone. I am on my own. It is based on fear. A word not used as much today is Avarice and means an excessive desire for money or material possessions. Both the stingy and the spendthrift can share the same belief that it is money that makes one happy. God wants us to reject mammon and love and trust Him, which is the real path to peace and happiness. Jesus said there are two kinds of treasures we can invest in (heavenly or earthly), two kinds of eyes ( generous or stingy), and two deities we can serve (God or mammon). Earthly treasures are temporal; heavenly treasures are eternal. Mammon says it can produce peace and happiness but it fails. God promises peace and happiness and always delivers. Let us invest in His kingdom!
I have been away from Canaan for the past two weeks. We have been with family. At present we are baby sitting our three grandchildren in Olathe, Ks. for a week. So I feel a little out of the flow. The posts I have been doing about a Father who delights in us, takes some reflection time for me. I sense there is a message I need to get out (almost like birthing). For me it is hard work. There is a part of me that wants to forget this birth processing. But at this stage in my life, I sense this is the next step of obedience me. I never in my wildest dreams ever imagined that I would be writing on a blog site. But here I am, for any one out there in cyberspace to read what I have to say. One thing I am convinced of – God isforming a new message for our post-modern age that is taking many different expressions. My burden is to help men grow spiritually. God is calling forth a new generation of men, who are being shaped by a journey that is taking them deep into their hearts, having come to realize that they have lived on the surface, that is their head (the control tower), for too long.
Since I have been away from what I call our semi-monastic, I will pick up on the Father’s delight in us men next weeek. Today I would like to make some brief comments regarding the Super Bowl ads. I just was amazed at all the material the ads presented men to consider regarding the preception of the modern male in America. Remember people watch the super bowl just for the ads. There is a great deal of thought put into what will reach the psyche of men. I would even suggest that if you belong to a group of men, that you would view some of the ads, discussing them from a biblical point of view. These ads should demonstrate beyond a doubt that there is great confusion about the masculine in our culture. Men desperately need to gather together to once again find their “masculine soul” as they cry out to their heavenly Father for clarity.
Here are comments that I gathered from the Internet chatter. Believe me, there is plenty of it regarding these ads. This is a golden opportunity for men to engage the culture to debunk the message that is presented. Here are some of the comments: “Portraits of men in embarrassing situations led to a larger theme in this year’s super bowl ads. – the emasculated male in tough economic times” – “Chrysler’s dodge charger ad. featured shots of various men with voiceovers narrating promises to ther wives. ‘I will put the seat down’ or ‘ I will say yes when you want me to say yes.'” -Flo-TV has an ad that portrayed an emasculated man in one of its spots. A narrator introduced a character whose, “girlfriend has removed his spine, making him incapable of watching the game.” The ad ended with a very clear message to men, “change out of that skirt.” One of my favorite lines was from Dove soap. The ad. wants men to be “comfortable in their own skin.” There seems to be an appeal to a more nurturing and caring man with the phrase “men and care.” The day after the game, I bought USA Today. There was a whole page ad for dove. It said, “It’s about time you had a reason to sing in the shower.” Well, there you have it. Just a sample of all their is to discuss.
I for one was thrilled by the ads. It was an expression of our wayward culture in full display trying to address the issue of maleness in our culture. I do not know how the average male in America is able to find his way in such a confusing spiritual, moral and psychological swamp as our culture has become. There needs to be a light, a compass and a voice to get us out of this swamp. The light is Jesus, the compass in God’s word and the voice is the Holy Spirit, especially speaking in the midst of committed men who are crying out to God in one voice, “We want to get back our hearts.” So men consider these ads as a prophetic call to men to get down to the business in recovering their masculine soul. Be encouraged that what you are sensing in your heart for change is from God. “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out” (Prov. 20:7). Give yourself permission to trust the inclinations of your heart. Also be assured that God is working among men today in a new way. “The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being” (Prov. 20:27)
Devotions from James Smith book, The Good and Beautiful Life
“Live for an audience of One.” This Puritan saying reflects God’s kingdom living. Much of our lives are spent playing for an audience of many, and fixating on what others are thinking or saying of us. But we need to shift to an audience of One. What we do for God is what really matters. As we focus on God it leads us to a true sense of who we are. “True self knowledge comes from looking into the face of Jesus, not the faces of others.” This doesn’t mean we don’t pay any attention to what others may say about us, but we turn our thoughts to God first. Then we are free to listen to others and have discernment.
The kingdom of God is the only place we have real peace. When our false narratives are replaced with His kingdom narratives we are able to love without needing to receive, pray without feeling pious, serve without needing to be thanked etc. Our value is set; our worth is stable and unchanging. We are of immeasurable worth! When our hearts are penetrated with that message we become truly free!
Devotions from James Smith’s book The Good and Beautiful Life
We all want to be loved and feel valuable, worthwhile and wonderful. The world measures our worth on the basis of our appearance, production and performance. Image is everything! But this need for affirmation from others makes us vulnerable to the sin of Vainglory. It is rooted in insecurity and driven by our need for affirmation by others. It is very subtle and hard to detect. If we live outwardly pious lives we may be tempted to think we are better than others. In Jesus day, He was critical of 3 vainglorious acts – Ostentatious giving, praying and fasting in order to be praised and noticed by others. But Jesus was more concerned about the real issue of the heart and motives for doing these things. Whatever we do is it to come into greater intimacy with God or is it to impress others? He wants us to do things with no concern about what others will think about us. How different the narrative of His kingdom is: You are valuable to God. God loves you no matter what. Your worth is not dependent on you performance or on what others think of you. We are precious and priceless to Him. Wow! If we can really grab hold of this our lives will never be the same. More tomorrow on this.
Devotions from James Smith’s book, The Good and Beautiful Life
Jesus ways are so different from the ways of our world. Often people of this world feel vulnerable, impotent, and exposed. Their false narrative is that the only way to protect themselves is to use force. But that does not produce lasting change but just more violence. The kingdom of God startles our enemies when we do what Jesus asks, to love our enemies and to return good for evil etc. To love ( agapa) is to will the good of another but doesn’t mean we may FEEL love towards our enemy. But we act for their good. When we hate our enemies we betray the God who loves his enemies. Jesus responded by extending self-giving, nonresistant love. We need the power of Christ within us to do the same. “ This doesn’t happen overnight but over time. The way of Christ in response to injury is the only way that leads to freedom and comfort even in trials that come to us through others.
“God is with us- so the need to retaliate is diminished. God has an endless supply of resources –so the need to hang on to possessions decreases. God is looking out for our needs- so we can take the time to go the extra mile. God is the real owner of all we have – so the need to hoard and protect it diminishes. Kingdom identity (I am one in whom Christ dwells) and kingdom awareness ( I am in the strong and secure kingdom of God) are the keys to doing what Jesus calls us to do. Let us choose to live like Him!