Random Lent Thought for Thursday March 16th: ‘Jesus is Coming: Look Busy!’

One of my favourite coffee mugs (not that I own it myself, but I’ve seen it) is this one that 885025_10152158410965400_1541528251_osays ‘Jesus is coming – look busy!’

Here’s my thought for the day. Jesus is not impressed with busyness; Jesus is impressed with love.

This is a hard lesson for us to learn, because we’re formed by a culture that idolizes workaholics. And this culture is creeping insidiously into the church, so that we’re all being brainwashed into thinking that the more activities a church puts on, the higher its level of spirituality must be. If you don’t have that stressed and exhausted look on your face, you can’t possibly be doing everything God wants you to do, right?

Years ago, in a letter to a child, C.S. Lewis gave some wise advice that I’ve tried to remember. I’m quoting from memory, so this won’t be exact. Lewis told his young correspondent to remember that there were really only three kinds of things she had to do: (1) Things that must be done, (2) things that should be done, and (3) things she enjoyed doing. ‘Things that must be done’ include brushing your teeth, doing a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, cleaning the house and so on. ‘Things that should be done’ mean the ordinary rules of Christian morality. ‘Things that you enjoy doing’ – well, over to you!

Busyness is not godliness. Busyness might just be nothing more than busyness. I’m convinced that my Christian life works best when I do a few things and do them well, rather than scattering my energy like buckshot in a hundred different directions. Remember: Jesus is not impressed by busyness; Jesus is impressed by love.

Love is Action

Random Discipleship thought for today:

Jesus tells us the the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. We modern Christians often get confused about what this means, because to us, ‘love’ primarily describes a feeling. But in the Bible, love is not a feeling.

Yes, of course, there is a feeling that we call ‘love’, but the most important kind of love is not a feeling but a decision, an action. To pick up your tool belt and help build a Habitat for Humanity house is love. To give money to World Vision is love. To spend time with an emotionally needy friend when you’d rather be doing anything else is love. To tell someone the truth when you suspect they’re going to throw it back in your face is love. To take your spouse a cup of coffee in bed is love. To choose to stay with the person you promised you would stay with rather than the new young thing you feel attracted to is love. To give up some of your dreams so that you can be there for your kids is love. To forgive your enemies whether you feel like it or not, because Jesus told you to do so, is love.

And so the list goes on. These are not things that we do because we love someone. These actions are loving someone. Love is action.

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Religion or Relationship?

We’re often told these days that ‘Christianity isn’t about religion, it’s about relationship’.

I know what people mean by that, but ‘relationship’ is actually a very modern word. It only appears once in the NRSV translation of the Bible, and that’s in the Apocrypha (4 Maccabees 2:13)! But here’s what I found when I searched for ‘religion’:

‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.’ (James 1:27).

Three cheers for that kind of religion!

 

A personal update

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Feeling pretty good this morning. On January 1st I weighed 217 lbs, had a (tight) 40″ waist and was wearing 18 1/2″ collars. I was tired of being so big, of being on blood pressure and cholesterol medication, of having sore knees and not feeling fit enough to do the outdoor stuff I wanted to do. I was tired of feeling worn out about work and not having the energy to tackle the projects I wanted to tackle.

So I decided to do something about it. Quit making excuses, quit blaming my body type and DNA. I decided to ask for help from God and my wonderful wife (who has been 1000% supportive of me all the way), I made a simple plan, and started out.

After about four and a half months, my doctor did my annual physical, did a few tests, and told me I no longer needed my blood pressure and cholesterol pills. He also asked me how far I was planning to go. I said, “What would you recommend?” He did the numbers and said ‘170 lbs’ (I was at about 180 at that point). I agreed with him, and so we set 170 lbs as a goal. That would be a loss of 47 lbs.

Today, 183 days after I began this project, I reached my goal of 170 lbs. I’m now wearing 36″ waist jeans (straight cut, not relaxed fit), my collar size is 17 1/2″, and I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in twenty years. I have way more energy, and last week when we were hiking in the mountains I couldn’t believe the difference.

Thank you so much to all my friends and family, and especially to Marci, for your incredible support, without which I couldn’t have done this. Thank you God for helping me to stick to this, one day at a time. Thank you also, God, for giving me patience (this was not a crash diet, it was basically not eating between meals, no dessert except fruit, cutting down on sugar, replacing bread with ryvita – that sort of stuff – it was what Eugene Peterson calls ‘A long obedience in the same direction’).

Everyone who’s ever done this knows that losing weight is only half the battle; keeping it off is just as difficult. Please keep me in your prayers, my friends!

A few things to be working on for the new year

‘Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ; discipline your body; do not pamper yourself, but love fasting. You must relieve the lot of the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and bury the dead. Go to help the troubled and console the sorrowing.

‘Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else. You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge. Rid your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love. Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.

‘Do not repay one bad turn with another. Do not injure anyone, but bear injuries patiently. Love your enemies. If people curse you, do not curse them back but bless them instead. Endure persecution for the sake of justice’.

Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 4.

There’s a lot more where this came from, but this is enough for now, I think!