The Green-Eyed Monster

We’ve been talking for the last couple of weeks about the loads of life we bear when we try and do it apart from Jesus. We’ve talked about anger and, last week, fear. This week we are talking about yet another load. This time the challenge comes from our not trusting God will provide for us as abundantly as He has promised. If God isn’t doing it, then we have to pick up the slack. When it all depends on us, though, and we see someone who has more than we do, our natural tendency is to envy them for it. Let’s talk more about envy and how Jesus offers us a better way.

The Green-Eyed Monster

Think back with me to your childhood for a few minutes this morning. What were some of your favorite toys? Personally, I was an action figures guy. (And just so we’re clear, those are not dolls for boys. They are totally different.) I had all kinds of action figures and I’d make elaborate set ups all over our basement. To the casual observer it probably looked totally random, but everything was right in its place. All of the various toy catalogues are starting to hit mailboxes around the country. Of course, you won’t be able to find any of the things in them, but it’s still fun to look through them and dream. I know we’ve received at least the Amazon Kids’ Wish Book. The last time I looked through it, I’m pretty sure there was something circled on every single page of the book. I remember doing that. I remember once when my dad was serving as a local judge, sitting in his chambers while court was in session and going through and circling everything I wanted in the Toys R Us catalogue we had just received. 

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Philippians 4:4

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We talked yesterday morning about people reacting to situations in the wrong way – happy when they should be sad, sad when they should be happy, mad when they should be glad, and so on and so forth. Reacting the wrong way is one thing. Have you ever reacted to a situation in the right way, but you didn’t really mean it? We talked some about gift-giving yesterday. I suspect you’ve been through the experience before of opening a gift on your birthday or Christmas and you either already had it or didn’t even remotely want it. But the other person had really put a lot of thought into it and fully expected you to love it. So, you put on a smile you didn’t feel and thanked them heartily for it. They left feeling good about themselves, and you left feeling…a bit dirty because you weren’t really honest with them. Sometimes we have to react to a situation in a way that doesn’t match our feelings because the circumstances we are in demand it, but that’s not ever something we enjoy doing. So then, what are we supposed to do with Paul’s command here to rejoice in the Lord always? Let’s talk about it.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Psalm 105:42-43

“For he remembered his holy promise to Abraham his servant. He brought his people out with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What is it that makes you happy? Perhaps many different things fit that particular bill for you. I’m happy when I’m spending time with my family, when my sports teams are winning, when a sermon goes just right, when I’m doing something good for someone else, when I’m out at night to see the stars twinkling, and so on and so forth. Your list may include some things like those, or it may be totally different. What I suspect your list does have in common with mine, though, is that the things on it are all situationally-linked. That is, they depend on the presence of a certain set of circumstances. Happiness is a good thing. But in the Scriptures, we are called to something greater: Joy. This week, as we continue our Advent journey, we are going to dig into the idea of joy and how we can experience this deeper reality in Christ. I hope you’re ready.

Read the rest…

Good Habits

Last week we confronted the uncomfortable reality that we are often not fine in this life. This week we start to explore a solution. How can we keep the hard emotions that so often bring us down at bay before they have a chance to do their dirty work? We learn the secret from something Paul wrote when he was in some pretty dark times himself. Check this out with me.

Good Habits

I am a man of habits. It’s just part of my personality. I operate best in conditions that are customary and repetitive. Maybe you’re the same, maybe you’re different, but that’s simply my personality type. And when it comes to personality types, there’s no one type that’s particularly right or particularly wrong. At least…that’s what I keep telling myself. No, each personality type comes with advantages and disadvantages. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. For me, when something is a habit, I’m dependable. Now, I’m sometimes forgetful, but once something is locked into a habit, you can count on my doing it. On the other hand, I can be boring; especially if you have the kind of personality that prefers a bit more variety.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: James 1:19-20

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter

We’ve all experienced some version of this before: Something has happened that, while not necessarily bad, is capable of being understood in a negative light. You hear about it in bits and pieces from someone who is sharing it with you third hand, and after hearing only half of the story, get ferociously angry. And in your mind, this is a righteous anger. God is offended at this and you with Him. You say or do some things that cannot be taken back. But, once that initial wave of rage has subsided a bit, you learn a bit more about the situation from someone who has firsthand knowledge and discover that your initial reaction was wrong. This wasn’t something worth getting angry about at all, and now you’re stuck with egg on your face. Oops. 

Read the rest…