Don’t Complain, Trust!

ComplainingLife never seems to go exactly right for my kids. They are constantly caught between having too much work and being bored.

“Can we play the Wii? Can we watch a movie? Can we sit in front of a screen without moving and just let the colors flash in front of our faces for a few hours?”

“Oh, are you bored?” I ask. “You can unload the dishwasher while your brother puts a load of laundry in.”

“Dad! I just did that yesterday!” Lips tremble.

No matter how wonderful dinner is, they never seem so satisfied that they won’t complain about something. “I don’t like it when the macaroni and cheese touches my rib-eye. Do we have to drink water with this amazing meal? How many of these well-seasoned, buttery green beans do I have to eat? What, no dessert?” Perhaps they don’t use those exact words, but you get the idea.

So I’m reading along in Exodus 14-17…God parts the Red Sea, allowing the entire nation of Israel to cross safely to the other side to escape the Egyptian army riding hot on their heels…God closes the Red Sea over the Egyptians, wiping out the entire enemy…they burst into song: “I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously…He is my God, and I will praise Him…”

And then, first thing in the wilderness, they come to a place where the water is bitter (they can’t drink it), “and the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?'” God took care of their problem and miraculously sweetened the water.

I complainThen hunger set in: “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness…’Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger!'” So God provided bread from heaven (manna) every single morning and continued this sustenance for the next forty years!

Then they were thirsty again: “The people contended with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water, that we may drink’…and the people complained against Moses…” So God watered the people out of the side of a rock!

Come on, now, people! Can’t we get through this life without complaining and shaking our fist at God and demanding to know why He put us in whatever situation we find ourselves? Paul wrote to the Philippians and encouraged them: Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Phi. 2.14-15).

Yep, if you can do all things without complaining, you will truly be blameless. Turn the complaining into thanksgiving. Instead of centering on what God has taken or withheld, notice what God has given! Instead of noticing what’s not on the table, be thankful for what is. Those around you will be more thankful for you when you make this change, and you can rest satisfied that you are walking as God’s child. God’s true children don’t complain against Him, they trust Him.

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What’s Your Worldview?

AslanWhen you read fiction you must suspend reality and accept the author’s parameters in order to enjoy the book. If, for instance, a reader were to take issue with C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because there is no such thing as a talking lion, he would not find much enjoyment in that work. But of course most of his friends would think him silly for incredulously mocking such a masterpiece of fiction, because Lewis did not intend for his readers to believe Aslan is a real lion but to understand him as a wonderful analogy and metaphor for Someone who does exist. In fact, for all its magic, talking creatures, and impossible situations, Lewis steeped his Narnia series in a biblical worldview.

How does one determine whether a worldview is biblical or not? Simply put, a worldview is how one views the world, but a worldview determines every aspect of life. Scientists may hold a biblical worldview as their foundation for studying the physical universe; they recognize God created all things, there is a master design to all things, and God gave mankind the purpose of seeking to discover His creation. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter (Prov. 25.2). The historian may hold a biblical worldview, understanding God is the beginner and sustainer of all that happens on earth.

The depraved artist paints vulgar images, claiming “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But the artist standing on a biblical worldview paints images which glorify God, insisting that we dwell on those things which are morally upright and honorable.

Christian WorldviewWhat is your worldview? Is it biblical? Does your life rest upon Scripture or upon something else? Many who insist they are Christians really have not accepted Scripture (or don’t know enough Scripture) in order to have a biblical worldview. How do you interpret science, history, political events, language, law, morality? What underlies your actions and reactions every day? Do you make decisions based on what is politically, socially, or economically expedient for you or based on what God said is right and wrong?

Your worldview affects everything in your life. It’s worth a few minutes’ meditation to truthfully answer those questions for yourself.

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Tight Pants: “Because It’s Comfortable”

LeggingsTights, leggings, yoga pants, spandex, whatever you want to call them, you can’t escape them because women wear them everywhere.

My wife read to me a recent online conversation in which a women defended her two teenage daughters’ choice of pants. The woman said she and her husband would never tell their daughters what to wear and what not to wear, and if she catches anyone staring she gives them a piece of her mind: “Don’t you know she’s only seventeen?” I’m sure the embarrassed man thinks, “What’s it matter what age she is? I’m just looking at what is publicly on display.”

Some women wear such tight clothing for the express purpose of drawing the attention of men. I dearly hope (and expect) it’s usually not the case. The number one reason I have heard from women as to why they wear such revealing and attention-drawing clothing is that it’s the most comfortable thing to wear.

Let’s think through that logic. If it’s okay to wear in public because it’s the most comfortable thing, then I might expect to see many women walking around in their bathrobes and slippers. I have known a number of children who are most comfortable in their own skin…and nothing else, yet we expect them to wear clothing in public for some reason.

Using the reason “because it’s comfortable” is the same as saying “because it feels good” or “this is what I like best.” Has that ever been a helpful moral guide? There have been times when knocking a guy’s block off would have made me feel good. Why do we avoid drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex? After all, they appeal strongly to our flesh and make us feel quite nice at several levels. “Because it’s comfortable” turns out to be a motivation born of the flesh–it’s pure selfishness!

Modest ClothingI challenge you to make clothing decisions based on a MORAL standard, not a “because it’s comfortable” standard. The first is based on God’s revealed will; the second is based on your selfish fleshly desires.

For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error… (2 Peter 2.18)

The word for “sensuality” includes the idea of lewdness, debauchery, and sexual promiscuity, but it is built upon the concept of license. In other words, we engage in sensuality when we cast off God’s ways–we feel we have license to do whatever we want. Notice how sensuality is coupled with “fleshly desires” in this passage. When we find ourselves defending what we wear with “because it’s comfortable,” we should recognize we are simply appealing to our fleshly desires!

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality(Galatians 5.19)

Now just because something is comfortable doesn’t mean it’s sinful! But comfort must not be the driving principle behind our wardrobe choices.

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Parents, Act Like Adults!

RageIn the grocery store parking lot last night I heard an angry yell: “Get out, now!” I squinted across the dark lot and saw a door open on a nice SUV. Out jumped a girl I estimated to be about twelve or thirteen, arms crossed, determinedly not looking at the man who I suppose was her father. She kept a good fifteen feet away from him, marching angrily along, while he fumed and scowled at her. As they walked into the store, I overheard one biting word he shot at her: “Stupid!”

Being a young teenager, I am sure the girl was not without fault in the altercation. Those young ones know how to push buttons and kick soft spots. But let’s say this was her most horrendous night ever and she had been disrespectful and disobedient towards her father. On absolutely NO condition should a father tell his daughter she’s stupid. I believe I can say that with confidence.

On the heels of last night’s event, this afternoon I was notified of a little baby girl who was taken to the hospital last week and diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome. She’s in critical condition at the moment. I have not the words to describe my sadness for that little one.

How often we parents blame our children for OUR sins!

Next time you feel like flying off the handle at one of your children (which for me will probably be this evening–just sayin’), think hard before you speak or act. Do not tell your son, “You are making me lose my temper!” No. Take ownership of your temper, your anger, and your actions. Sure, your son may be throwing all he has at you because he lost his temper, but what do you think happens when you react in kind? What do you teach your son?

Angry boyNext time your daughter screams in your face, resist the temptation to scowl at her and demean her. There is no place for that. In fact, if she is screaming in your face, she probably learned it from someone close to home–maybe from you.

Sons and daughters need discipline, not abuse! Children are growing up these days with child-parents who have yet to grow up and take responsibility for themselves. Don’t get me wrong and think I’m pointing fingers at anyone in particular–I am thinking long and hard about my own actions and reactions towards my own children. There’s much that’s not pretty; much needs to change.

Our Heavenly Father presents the great parental standard, and He treats His children with love and mercy. Jesus teaches us not to call a brother “empty-head” or “a fool” (Matthew 5.22) and also to love our enemies (Matthew 5.44). Sometimes our enemies will be those of our own household (Matthew 10.36), and they require our prayers and attention.

Parents, let us be the adults. Be the man, father. Show a backbone, mother. Let’s keep our heads, hearts, and hands in check and under control at all times. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath (Ephesians 4.26).

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So Abram Lied

Camel CaravanWhy do Bible studies always get derailed at the story of Abram’s deceit in Genesis 12? Abram hauls his family to Egypt because of a famine, and he asks his wife Sarai to lie and say she’s just his sister “that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.” Sure enough, Pharaoh snatches his beautiful wife right up and intends to keep her for himself. Following the rest of the story, you find that God plagues Pharaoh until he realizes what’s happening, gives Sarai back to Abram, and boots them out of town.

Why was this story recorded for us? Everything in Genesis relates to the purposes of God in bringing forth and executing His divine plan to redeem human-kind from our sins, so how does this story fit? Are we supposed to argue over whether or not it was okay for Abram to lie, since God didn’t punish him for it? I’ll give you a hint: the text does not at all deal with Abram’s morality. God is not said to be angry or pleased with Abram. I’m thinking we shouldn’t dwell on it, then.

Sarah Was IncludedWe are tracing the seed of Abram. Just a few verses earlier, God had promised Abram, “I will make you a great nation” and “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12.2-3). I could be wrong, but I suppose Abram probably knew he would need a wife in order for those promises to bear fruit. What Abram didn’t understand, perhaps, is that God intended to fulfill those promises through Abram and Sarai, specifically. We find that Abram and Sarai later attempted to help God out by having a child through Sarai’s Egyptian maidservant, Hagar, to which God responded a few years later by explaining, “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son…I will establish My covenant with him…and with his descendants after him” (Gen. 17.19).

God’s plan included Abraham and Sarah, and so this story of Abram’s deceit is not really about what Abram did but about how God rescued Sarai from a bad situation in order to preserve her as holy to Abram and as the mother of the child of promise.

God’s plans will not fail no matter what we decide to do!

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