Bare Minimum

In Mark 6:33-44,  Jesus asked the disciples to go and see how much bread there was to feed the multitudes.  They came back and replied “Five, and two fishes” (Mark 6:38b, NASB).  It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t ask how many fish there were.  The disciples took the initiative and found that out on their own.  The disciples get a bum rap most of the time…they lacked faith, they denied Jesus, they lived in fear.  But here, they did more than the bare minimum, and God was able to take it and do a miracle with it.  Sadly, we can get so comfortable in our relationship with Jesus and in “being a Christian” that we end up doing the bare minimum for Him.  In essence, we go through the motions of what might be called “the Christian life”.  We read a couple chapters from His word each day, we spend some minutes in prayer, we give our 10%, we try to witness every now and then, and then we get on with life and we believe that it’s OK.  We live as if our “life” is separate from the “Christian life” we live.  Does God deserve more than the bare minimum from us?  Does a lost and dying world where billions haven’t heard the Gospel deserve more than our bare minimum?  Do the orphans, widows, hungry, thirsty, oppressed deserve more than our bare minimum?  He gave His all for us at Calvary, can we give more than just the bare minimum for Him?  If we give more than the bare minimum, God may just be able to do a miracle through it and a lost world might finally hear about Jesus!

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Lollipop Moments

I was at work the other day when a family came in to take care of some business.  One of our employees handed the little 3 year old girl that was there a lollipop.  You would have thought that we handed her a million dollars.   With great glee in her voice, she exclaimed "Mommy!  I got a lollipop!!"

When is the last time you had a "lollipop moment"?  When was the last time you got excited when you received a simple blessing?  Truth be told, we can have moments like that every day!  God provides a lot of simple blessings each day…the beauty of a sunrise and sunset, a cool breeze on a spring day, a refreshing rain, the beauty of spring as it blooms, friends and family that love us and we love them, three meals per day.  Sadly, here is often our running commentary….this sunrise is so early, the wind is messing up my hair, spring means pollen…oh my allergies, you don't know MY family, I don't like THAT brand of soup!

When did we become so ungrateful and such sour pusses!?  When did we lose the joy of each day of life and the blessings it brings?  If we try hard enough, God can help us find some lollipop moments even in the very worst of days.  God never stops providing the blessings and the joys, we just stop looking for them and seeing them.  Life can make that happen if we let it.  Losing contentment in our heart can make it happen as well.  "Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am" (Phil 4:12, NASB).

"This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps. 118:24, NASB).  It's good to start the day looking for the blessings.  Jesus said, seek and you will find…why not look for some blessings today and have a lollipop, God's treat!

Will We Slow Down Enough to Feel?

I saw a commerical on TV a couple weeks back that caught my attention.  it was for Downy fabric softener.  It showed several scenes in which people were in a hurry, made a quick connection, and then left.

The tagline for the commercial was "Does rushing to do more cause us to feel less?"  Their point was that the great smell of Downy would keep people around each other longer.

Ok, yes, I know, I don't buy it either.  There is, however, a very real truth to their premise.  We live our lives in such a way that we do rush, rush, rush, all the time.  In doing so, we probably do feel less. We stay busy to keep us from feeling pain, hurt, fear, loss, happiness, sadness, almost as if we can't stand the thought of being with ourselves because we would need to come face to face with what lies inside, our uncertainty, our insecurities.  At the same time, staying busy is also a great way to avoid Gos speaking to us as well.

The Psalmist wrote "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10a, NIV).  The Scripture also speaks about how deceptive the heart can be.  Staying busy keeps us from confronting God and the issues of the heart, and keeps us from intimacy with God and others.  That type of intimacy can be very scary.

How great it would be if we were rushing to do less so we could feel more…more of the joy that Jesus died to give us.

Encouragement

A few weeks ago I was was able to enjoy a nice afternoon of playing golf with a few men.  All of us had our shots that shined and shots that left a bit to be desired.  However, one thing we all did very well was to have some positive talk going back and forth as we all tried to hit a good shot or two.  "Knock it in the hole…show us how its' done….nice shot"  were a part of all of our vocabularies as we tried to spur each other on to give Tiger Woods some competition.  It was encouraging.

In fact, there was probably more encouragement during that round of golf than most Christians hear in church in an entire month.  There is something wrong with that.

Doesn't the Scripture say that we are to "encourage one another daily".  (Heb 3:13; 10:25).  We're to communicate in such a way with each other so that when this round of golf called life is played, we're equipped to stay at it and not give up.  Our speech is to be sprinkled with grace.

Why can't the encouragement of the golf course make it into the church?  We seem to find too many ways to tear each other down or at least withhold a good word.  More people will feel churches are a safe place to be when they know they will be encouraged and strengthened for whatever life may send their way.

School is Starting…and Sadly, So is the Violence

I came across this story on AOL today, and it really disturbed and saddened me.

Horrified Students Witness Fatal Shooting

It leaves me with too many questions and not enough answers.  What possesses a teenager to get so angry and violent as to bring a gun to school and shoot a fellow classmate, presumably because they are different?  Where did he get the gun?  Did his parents know he was filled with this much anger?  How must the parents and family of the boy who was killed be feeling about now?  What's to say this can't happen at the schools at which my sons attend?   Did the boy who was killed know Jesus as his Savior?  Does the boys who did the shooting know Jesus?  Will he come to know Him as a result of this?  What are churches doing to get the life changing message of how Jesus can transform a life out to a world filled with violence, pain, grief, loss, hopelessness?  Will there be a team of people at a church in Knoxville equipped to share the message of grace and hope with those impacted by this tragedy, and then, will they make the efforts necessary to get out and actually do it?

We could blame the media, exposure to violence, and many other factors for what happened.  Ultimately, it is a heart issue, and a mind issue.  A heart that is filled with the wrong things, and a mind that was conformed to the world and not tranformed by being renewed.  Ultimately, only Jesus can change this, and we get the privilege to share with the world how they can know the Jesus that can do this!  Awesome!!