Living in Athens

I was listening a news briefing and heard a quote from Ben affleck:

While he ponders his own future as the Dark Knight, the actor does see a timeliness in Justice League’s arrival now. “We certainly are in need of heroes in 2017,” Affleck says. “There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, from natural to man-made disasters, and it’s really scary. Part of the appeal of this genre is wish fulfillment: Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?” USA Today

Immediately my mind went to one of my favorite stories in the book of Acts.

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” v16

Paul gets invited to speak, which is one of the most crucial and important parts of the story. Here is what Paul shares:

‘So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” ‘ Acts 17:22-31 

So when we see someone in our culture saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?”

I want to scream, “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.”

Our culture is desperate for answers and desperate for hope. When invited, let us share that there is someone who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil… His name is Jesus!

blessings

be inspired

sj

 

 

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already??

It’s November 3rd and I am already behind.

So, I thought yesterday and was prepared to post about being grateful for Godly parents.

And it would seem timely and appropriate to also say that today I’m grateful for grace.

These are two different categories and yet most of where I first learned about grace was from my Godly parents.

blessings 

be inspired

sj

November Gratitude Project

I have heard it said over and over… “Gratitude changes your attitude”

I know that it has been true in my life before, and so, here it goes…

I am going to make a concerted effort to keep a daily list of things which I am grateful.

Day #1

God’s Word

I don’t know what I would do without the Word of God. It has been proven in my life over and over. It has brought comfort and peace. I am so grateful.

Thank you God for the Bible!

blessings

be inspired

sj

“the thoughts I think”

I have been listening to The Phil Vischer Podcast for the past few months. I love it!

It is equal parts funny, insightful, and poignant. The other day they posted a “throwback episode” and I thought, I haven’t been listening long enough for this to be a rerun, I will just listen… and I am so grateful that I did. The entire podcast can be found here.

As I was listening to the podcast in my car, which is where I do most of my podcast listening… I was struck by Todd Komarnicki’s prayer that he shares halfway or so through the podcast. He refers to it being his daily prayer, and I felt like I was eavesdropping, but then again he knew he was on a podcast. He mentioned that it was influenced or lifted from several phrases found in the book of common prayers. Common prayer is something that I have found greater value in as I have matured.

Sometimes for me, knowing what to pray can be overwhelming and having these written prayers available has been life-saving.

I went back and listened to Todd’s prayer and transcribed it and had it put on business cards to carry with me. I am committed to memorizing this prayer, but until I do… it’s conveniently on my cheat sheet in my pocket.

I found myself looking at that card the other day while feeling overwhelmed by a few of life’s circumstances… it reads:

Lord, I surrender this day to you

I pray that you empty me of myself completely

and fill me back up with Your Holy Spirit.

Let the words I speak,

the thoughts I think,

the deeds I do,

and the words I write,

not be mine but Yours.

Sanctify me and set me apart for Your Holy work,

and use me as an instrument of Thy Divine Peace.

-Todd Komarnicki

As I read through these words, I got stuck…

“let the words I speak”…. hadn’t really talked yet that day… so check

“let the thoughts I think… not be mine but Yours.”  <tires screeching to a hault>

Houston, I think we have a problem

Also, let me erase that first “check mark” My self-talk was all kinds of mine and not His.

We can go all the way to the top of the prayer and start all over… I hadn’t really surrendered anything, I was clinging to things that I so foolishly believed I had control over.

It seems too easy to sing through “Oceans” and read the account of Peter and Jesus walking on the water and think… “I know the lesson here”

but, when the waves seem to crashing around, I find myself too focused on the waves.

So, today I am grateful to have eavesdropped on another’s prayers, written it down and carried it in my pocket, so that when I was looking down at the waves, I could be reminded that I need to surrender, empty myself, and let my thoughts be NOT mine, but Yours… Thanks Todd Komarnicki

blessings

be inspired

sj

Consumer v Contributor

It has been a good long time since I have sat down to write.

I feel a constant struggle in my life between being a consumer and a contributor. In the last ten years or so, I have come to love reading. I can’t get enough of it. I am not quite disciplined in getting enough time to actually get through all the books I want to consume. My Amazon wishlist is mostly books, and I have a very bad habit of buying books before I am finished reading my current reading list. This doesn’t even take into consideration when I start to go back and reread a handful of my books.

The tension I feel lies between these two positions:

There is so much really great material that has already been written. (cue: Cracker song “What the world needs now, is another folk singer, like I need a hole in my head“)

vs.

I am called to speak. I am called to contribute. (insert MLK, Jr “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

It struck me the other day while listening to a message that brought me to one of my favorite parts of scripture, the Great Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”

It struck me, it says hear. It doesn’t say watch. It doesn’t say, you will get it if you are around me enough. It says hear.

If we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1), and God is a Creator (again, Genesis 1) then is it not a safe conclusion we are to be creators as well (notice the use of lowercase “c”)?

In my personal journey, for most of my thirties, I felt like I heard God saying to me… “shut up! just listen, you don’t have to always be talking… your opinion doesn’t have to be voiced” and just as I seemed to learn the lesson of being quiet and yielding and listening… now as I am in my forties, I feel that God has changed his script… “speak up, come on, you can’t be quiet on this any longer.” So, the tension is in knowing when to speak and when to listen and to strike a healthy balance. I don’t think I am far from where I need to be, but I also think that I need to cast off any fears I might have to speak the Truth to a world full of people who desperately need it.

I was sharing with someone yesterday, the consistent message that the world offers us; the news, the media, the marketers is “FEAR FEAR FEAR” There is no hope without this policy, or that product, or did you see what you are missing out on… don’t be the only one without a new, bigger, better toy, but wait you really need it. 

And the reality is, none of the things that they are offering us actually provide fulfillment, satisfaction, freedom, or hope.

But, for those who have experienced freedom and hope, we know it will only be found in the person of Jesus Christ.

I need to be sharing this message louder.

I am not saying that nothing else is important to talk about, there are issues, there are applications… but, at the core of it all… without Jesus Christ there is no hope.

I pray that get the balance right on the tension between being a contributor versus a consumer.

If you have experienced freedom through Jesus Christ, can I encourage you to join me, let’s speak out and share the GOOD NEWS!

blessings

be inspired

sj

Wise words

Okay, with a title like that, you have to go straight to God’s Word, right?

I was in Acts 5 today and saw these words of Pharisee Gamaliel:

 “So I advise you to stay away from these men. Leave them alone. If what they are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God.”

If it is of our own doing, it will fail… But, if God is behind it… get out the way!!!

May what I be about today be what God is behind. Amen and Amen.

blessings

be inspired

sj

Take 5

There are a few songs that have been written recently that resonate with where I am in life.

This song is one that upon first hearing, I thought, this guy has been living my life and writing my thoughts down… It had the effect on me that I often find in the Psalms.

I would encourage you to close your eyes, calm your spirit and just listen to this song, and let it bless you.  Find 5 minutes and make time for this.

blessings

be inspired

sj