OH, LORD! IT’S MONDAY! BUT WHAT AM I LEARNING?

The Monday Morning Attitude, or spirit if you prefer, is one of those places and moments where we can do more than learn–we can mature! But learning, or as I prefer–maturing, doesn’t just happen automatically. It takes a conscious and dogged determination to choose to learn from it. What’s that saying? If we don’t learn from our mistakes we are destined to repeat them–over and over and over! And the Monday Morning Attitude is a mistake–because it steals from us the joy and wonder of the life God intends and desires for us to experience. So, this morning I thought I would share with you some things I learned on our recent road trip on the trike; since one of my dear friends wants to hear about it. (BTW, this morning I came up with the name for my new bike. My old one was Therapist, and this one is Counselor!)

  1. Don’t wear black jeans on a hot sunny day! Man, my legs felt like they were cooking on a smoker grill! I remembered an old lesson: the color black draws in heat!
  2. Watch out for others! It may have been in Amory, Ms., and there was a tractor mowing the sides of the highway. And this idiot decided to pass that tractor on a double yellow line as we were approaching it. Idiot may not sound like a very “Christian” term–but at 66 years old I call it like I see it!
  3. Stay off the interstates! Not because they are dangerous for a bike. No, it’s because you see so much more of the beauty of God’s creation on the two-lane roads.
  4. Take the time to talk to other people! On more than one stop, we had people wanting to talk about our bike. Some had questions, and others had stories. Rather than being impatient to get on down the road, we listened and talked. Shook hands and bumped fists! It was great!
  5. Don’t worry if you miss a turn, enjoy the ride! We missed a turn and saw parts of the countryside that we probably won’t see again. The adventure of not knowing exactly where we were didn’t keep us from enjoying the ride!
  6. There are some rough roads out there! I mean tooth-rattling, bone jarring roads. But we found out they aren’t everywhere. So we hung on until the roads became smoother. And we saw a lot of the beauty of God’s creation.
  7. Don’t speed! No, I didn’t get a speeding ticket! Speed limits are for our safety and the safety of others. Besides, we saw some beautiful flowers that otherwise we would have missed.
  8. Eventually, you will find a road that will take you to a familiar place! Remember us missing a turn (or two, or three)? We found a sign that pointed us to a familiar place. It was from that familiar place we knew how to get back home! So watch for the signs!

What should have been about a 3 or 4 hour drive, turned into an all day adventure! And we loved every mile (long miles) of the journey. We didn’t take a lot of pictures with our phones, but we took a lot of pictures with our minds. Here’s one from the phone:

The Mississippi River, taken by yours truly

Adding this picture reminded me of another lesson I learned. It’s hard going against the current, but sometimes you have to go against it to get to where you need to be! We couldn’t help but notice the strong currents on the Mississippi. We watched some tug boats going up stream–and they weren’t going as fast as those going downstream because they were going against the current. But I am confident those tugboats and barges arrived at the destination. By the way, why do they call them “tug” boats when in reality they are “pushing”, not tugging, those barges? We may never know.

But one thing I do know is that when we learn and mature through what we experience and what we see, then we can say, “Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall be do together?”

You’re NOT You When–Tuesday Thoughts 11 February 2020

The other day I was thinking about something that, well is missing in our culture. OK, I know, I know there’s a lot missing in today’s culture. So I will be specific–there is a lack of maturity. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines maturity as “he quality or state of being mature“. OK, so what mature? One of the definitions given is: “of or relating to a condition of full development“. EUREKA! THAT’S IT!

Full development as a whole person. But like the description of some nations, many are underdeveloped. They remind me of this Commercial:

Many people today just aren’t themselves because they have failed to mature. To reach full development as a whole person, we need to turn to something more than the culture of today offers. The views and values of this current culture has only promoted and provided a level of immaturity rarely seen in the history of humanity. And many need more than a Snicker’s Bar.

I’m reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3:18–“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” Maturity happens as we align our heart, mind, and purpose to the will and desires of God. Problem is people are too often absorbed and focused on their will and desires. The result of self-absorption is a pettiness and narrow-mindedness that has made people feel and act like they are miserable. Worse than this, they believe they are miserable. Event worst, they ARE miserable.

But to change this environment, we need to get back to Paul’s words. We need to allow The Holy Spirit to change us more and more to become like Jesus. Maturity happens as our hearts, minds and actions reflect Jesus rather than the world. You can’t be yourself, if you are like the world. You are made for something better. You’re not you when you’re not hungry for Jesus. Not even a Snickers Bar can help.

(I just added this one because I love Don Rickles.)

Winning The Trifecta–Tuesday Thoughts 4 February 2020

No, this isn’t about betting and gambling. It’s about a much ignored principle that is necessary to follow Jesus. The principle is: MATURITY! To be more exact, becoming Mature as a follower of Jesus. The lack of encouraging and teaching about Maturity is glaringly absent across the board of theological thought. Both evangelicals and progressives are failing miserably in understanding Maturity. I feel like the writer of Hebrews felt in these words:

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,  instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Hebrews 6:1-2 (NIV)

And I know that for many seasons of my life, I have come up short in arena of Maturity. But lately I have gone back to being a Disciple rather than a Pastor and Teacher. It has been a neglected journey far too often; but now, consider me simply a “student” sharing a report with the rest of the class of what I am discovering about this process of Maturity.

I’m not sharing “Steps To Maturity”–steps rarely work. But Principles work in every situation. I am praying this nearly every day. And the days I forget to pray these principles…let’s just say it shows in my spiritual life. I call this principle The Maturity Trifecta! Remember, this isn’t a 3 steps to Maturity, but an attitude and desire of the WHOLE PERSON. Here is the process and principles that each of us needs to begin each day with, and all day long.

1. Lord, help me keep my heart pure.
2. Lord, help me keep my mind focused on YOU.
3. Lord, help me keep my actions holy.

Face it, our hearts, left to itself, is tainted. We become selfish and even mean when our heart is neglected. Only The Holy Spirit can help keep our hearts pure. And our minds? Dear Lord in Heaven, without HIS help our thinking becomes twisted and vile; after all, it’s where Satan attacks us. And our actions must be holy. Holiness isn’t defined primarily by what we DON’T DO, and there’s a lot we shouldn’t do. Holiness is also what WE DO, it’s found in our actions. You can’t see what’s in my heart. You can’t see what’s in my mind (there are times you should be thankful for that!). But you can see my actions and hear my words.

So, pray! Every day and all day long, pray The Maturity Trifecta! Application of this Principle will lead you towards Maturity In Christ and God’s Kingdom will invade this world. Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!