Friday, March 13, 2015

The Fleeting Time

Is it just me, or does life seem to be passing by more quickly as I get older? I mean, wasn't it Friday just yesterday? And I thought Christmas was last weekend... It wasn't too long ago that I remember thinking that it was going to take forever to grow up. Everything in the future seemed so far away, so distant, almost an eternity away.

But now, 60 years old almost seems eminent. Holiday's used to take forever to come, now it seems as though I have to keep my eyes propped open lest I blink and miss them.

This all reminded me of Psalm 39:4 (and I had to looks this up, I can't claim to have had this memorized)
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

We're only on this earth for a short time before moving on to our eternal home. So use the time that our Father has given you.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Psalms 190:12

God Speed,
Paul

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Are You a Good Steward?

The other day I was struck by what now seems a profound thought (though only time will tell I suppose). My room had fallen into a slight case of disarray, some clothes on the floor, my desk was... less than tidy, and it was generally looking like a mini version of a bachelor pad. My dad came in one day and said something along the lines of "for just being two guys in this room (I bunk with my awesome younger, albeit taller, brother), you sure can make a mess!"


At the time I took this as a sideways chid for letting our room get so messy (which was true), but I was also a rebuke for not being faithful in what I had been given. I was reminded of the parable that was taught in Luke, which (using some quick searching) I found in Luke 16, wherein this well-known passage resides:
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, [. . .] And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?"
Luke 16:10, 12
 I wasn't being faithful in what the Lord had given me through my dad. On this earth I have about 150 square feet that I'm in charge of, and I wasn't treating it with respect. To a degree, I had been viewing it as 'my room' and since I apparently didn't mind 'my room' getting a little messy, it was ok. But it isn't 'my room' it's my Father's room (both earthy and heavenly). I am simply it's steward, and a poor one at that.

When the time comes for me to move out (probably when I get married), Do I want my father to say "finally, now we'll be able to keep that room of yours clean!" Or do I want to hear him joyfully echo the master in another one of Jesus' parables:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much
Matt 25:21
 Everything we own on this earth isn't truly ours. As the Psalmist has said:
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein.
Ps 24:1
 It's all His property, we are merely His stewards. Let us all use the blessings that He has given us for His glory.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get off my paltry soap box and get back to vacuuming.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Unrelated, and Yet, Related

I was journaling about a conversation that I had with a dear friend of mine today, and as I typed out something that she said it suddenly hit me like it was new to me.

"Our father"

My friend and I aren't related in any way, and yet, we are. She's my sister, I'm her brother. We have the same Father in heaven, He's adopted both of us into His family for all eternity. We christians have such a deep, familial connection with each other here on earth that I think is very rarely ever really realized. At least, I know I have seldom ever really thought of it, much less comprehended the significance of it. Just the thought of it is bewildering to me. God isn't only a Father to the fatherless, he has also given the fatherless a family to surround them, guide them, correct them, and encourage them.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, ~Ephesians 2:19

Friday, January 9, 2015

Reflections From the Past

Most people who know me will have at one point or another discovered that I am a journal keeper.

Now, let us get a couple of pesky definitions out of the way. Technically I suppose I actually keep a diary, because it's a "my-eyes-only" (save the rare occasion that I share an entry), deeply reflective and introspective account of my thoughts during the day, conversations I had, and things that I read. The word diary has such a feminine connotation to it that I have decided, in keeping with the title of this blog and despite the fact that it is technically more accurate, that I will allow the ladies to claim this word as their own, and I shall stick to journaling.

Anyway, I have pondered from time to time just why I keep this record of my life. I didn't used to always be like this you know. I have tried to keep a journal a number of times, but each time my efforts proved futile, and each time I eventually simply stopped writing. But in 2013 I started writing again, usually about once a week and kept at it. Maybe because my life was more interesting, and I had more to write about. Either way, at the turn of the new year I decided to try journaling every day for a month. I enjoyed that so much (and actually found things to write about each day) that I've continued doing so, rarely missing a day (and if I do, I always go back and attempt to reconstruct it.)

But my why is something that I think about, particularly since I so often cringe when going over my old entries. Why do I do this thing which it seems has only one purpose: to enshrine in history how immature I used to be. And far greater is my consternation when I think of others examining my innermost thoughts at some later date! But now, friend and reader, if you've stuck with me in my meandering thoughts for this long, I've finally arrived at the inspiration for this little journey of self reflection. It was a quote I discovered on my equally meandrous ventures on the internet about journaling.
“We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.” ~Joan Didion 
I know that for most of us (or perhaps I'm the only one, but I think not) looking back on who we used to be, "whether we find them attractive company or not," usually results in feelings of embarrassment that we once were the way we were. But I think this embarrassment is the wrong attitude to have towards our past. Who we once were should be a constant reminder of all that the Holy Spirit has wrought in our lives.

Looking back on our past, regardless of how vile, repulsive, or objectionable it is, should drive us ever further into our Father's arms, and cause an ever greater gratitude to well up inside us  for the saving work of Christ. So in this sense, my journal really serves as a record of the Holy Spirit's redeeming work in me. A log book of how I've changed over the years through His grace. It's also a mortifying reminder of who I once was, indeed would still be, were it not for the work of my Savior on the Cross. Praise God for His kindness and grace towards a sinner like me!

~Paul

P.S. I know I didn't really get to my why, just my what. So maybe I'll go more in depth on my why at a later date. We'll see.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Son of God, How Can it Be?

I just finished the chapter titled Sons of Godin J.I. Packers phenomenal book Knowing God, and it has opened my eyes to the reality of what it means to be a Christian more than any other singular book (the bible aside) that I have ever read. We've all heard the word 'adoption' before, and we've all read about how God is our heavenly Father, but these terms have always seemed (though I didn't realize it before) etherial to me.

But now, though I still feel that my eyes are almost completely shut, I feel as though I have caught a glimpse into just what it means to be a son of God. To be adopted into His family. To be reconciled to the Maker of all things by His own Son, and to now be counted a brother with Christ, heir to the inheritance of God. Just thinking about it make my head swirl, and my heart throb.

A Son of God. 

How is that even possible? We read about princes, and princesses, and knights, and royalty, and they all seem like such marvelous things... for other people. We even hear about people being adopted into royalty (more in the past then in the present though). Usually the adopted son or daughter is someone who is old enough to have proven that they are worthy of royalty. They have the character, discipline, intelligence, and insight to hold the position of familial relationship with those in power.

But our God, our King, the Creator of the universe, has adopted us into His family to be His sons and daughters, not because we were particularly mature, intelligent, or kind (quite the contrary) but simply because He loved us because of who He is. He didn't adopt us because we are lovable, He adopted us because He is loving. We have been made, by His free grace, sons and daughters of the one who is called the Most High, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. But there's yet another title by which He has said we may address Him, one of kindness, tenderness, love, affection, guidance, and closeness And one by which I feel I am just now beginning to truly comprehend it's depth:

I call Him Father.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Don't Have Time. (Really?)



"When I get home from work I don't have enough time to do the things that have to get done, " You say. 
 "I just don't have time to read books, " You lament.
"I'd love to read more books, but..."
But, but, but.

Excuses, that's what I hear Paul, excuses. Reasons why you can't, or wont, do the things that you say are important to you.

But my dear Paul, don't you have two (government mandated) 15 minute breaks at work? 
"Well yes..."
And what do you do on said breaks?
"Oh I do lots of things, I check my G+, FaceBook, The Blaze, get distracted, go on rabbit trails, etc."
So you have time to do all that, and yet you don't have time to read books?
"..."
This was my conscience convicting me this morning as I was trying to figure out how I could get more book reading into my daily life. None of us have as much time as we would like. But that's why we have to be purposeful in how we spend the time that we have been given. Google+ is great, as is FaceBook and the rest, but on my work breaks I'm going to prioritize reading good literature (and occasionally posting about it).


How about you? How will you capitalize on the spare moments between tasks? Will you fritter them away, or will you "redeem the time" (Eph 5:16) for the furtherance of Christ's Kingdom?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Are We Here for the Long Haul?

"Any theology that does not live with the sense of the immediate return of Christ is a theology that takes the edge off the urgency of faith. But any theology that does not cause us to live as though the world will be here for thousands of years is a theology that leads us into social irresponsibility."
        ~Tony Campolo in Four Views on the Book of Revelation

Wow wow wow! This is really accurate! I remember the feeling when I became unconvinced of dispensational premillennialism that I had time here to plan for the long term. The feeling that I don't have to rush for fear of being raptured or called away any minute was profoundly impactful. Mr. Campolo's last statement I think is especially true, "... any theology that does not cause us to live as though the world will be here for thousands of years is a theology that leads us into social irresponsibility." How many Christians have given up on this world because of the faulty notion that we're not going to be here very long, and therefore don't have to worry about the world at large, socially, politically, or morally? 

Here's the book on Goodreads, highly recommended:

And if you want to pick up a hard copy, here's the Amazon link:

~Paul

Friday, September 12, 2014

Easier Does Not Equal Better

There are times when I wish things were as they used to be. Life as a child is significantly easier than as an adult, especially in one particular area.

Decisions.

As children, most decisions are made for us, what we eat for dinner, when to go to bed, how much sugar is enough, and the list goes on. But as we grow up, more and more of the decisional responsibility should be placed upon our shoulders.

I'm at one of those momentous points in my life. I have to make the decision as to where I'll work for the foreseeable future. I have two options on my plate, both have their pros and cons, both would be enjoyable, and both would pay the bills (though one would pay them with more left over). What factors do I consider? How do I decide which is a better use of the limited time that the Lord has entrusted to me?

In years gone by I would probably have run to dad and mom and asked them what I should do, and they, while likely leaving the final decision up to me, would have told me what they thought was the best option. Now that I'm a young adult though, I'm so very thankful that my parents have sought to help me stand on my own two feet, rather than let me rely on them to choose my path.

My parents have given me mountains of advice, suggested things to consider, and people to talk with, and encouraged me to pray and see the Lord as I make this weighty decision. But they have resisted the urge that I'm sure they feel to tell me what they think is the right decision, for which I am extremely grateful.

And it's hard sometimes. Having the answer handed to me on a silver platter would be easy, but it wouldn't be better. While I wouldn't be responsible if the decision were a bad one, but I also wouldn't grow and mature, nor experience the blessing of a wise decision. We have to make decisions every day of our lives, and my parents recognize that the only way we can learn to make decisions, is to make decisions.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

~Paul

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Shiny Sink

Sinks - We all have them.


Shiny, clean, spotless sinks - Most of us don't have them.

I just got home from work, and was greeted by a very clean kitchen. So when I was finished making my afternoon snack (carefully seasoned mashed potatoes), I almost threw the spatula into the sink. But then thought about all the work that someone in my family had done to get the sink to it's current sparkling condition. I felt ashamed that I, in my laziness, was about to toss a soiled utensil into it, marring it's pristine condition.

So I didn't. I grabbed the scrub brush, took literally less than 15 seconds to clean the spatula, and add it to the drying rack.

It's so much easier to keep a space clean once it's completely clean, because leaving the first item out is always the hardest. By not leaving my spent spatula in the sink, I helped keep the kitchen clean for that much longer. 

Hmmm, now perhaps I should clean my room, because it literally looks like a tornado went through it...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Value of writing

A moment of terror flooded over me. I couldn't find them. I checked drawers, bags, all over my desktop, but they were nowhere to be found. But then I remembered that I had filed them all, safely next to my birthday cards from last year.

Phew.

That was a sigh of relief, I had found all of my birthday cards, and could commence writing my thank you notes, thanking each family who had taken an evening of their week to come celebrate with me the passage of yet another year that the Lord had granted to me. But being the distractible fellow that I often am, I sat at my desk and pondered the emotions of the last few minutes: concern, then panic, followed by hurried searching, and finally sweet relief as I found my treasures. All for some pieces of paper with only a few sentences penned on their smooth surfaces. But all were well spent emotions.

Long after the party is done, the money is spent, and the gifts are either lost, out grown (that one doesn't happen to me anymore) or worn out, I will still have the cards that people have given to me. Whether they were hastily written in the car on the way to the party - thoughts off the top of the author's head, or carefully formulated words of encouragement and wisdom written days in advance, I cherish them all. They show that those who penned them value their recipient enough to show their love and appreciation in old fashioned hand writing, long or short, in depth, profound, or a simple I love you.

Though they may not say we love you in so many words isn't that what birthday cards say? Words of Encouragement may not be my primary Love Language for showing love (and an area in which I need to grow), but it certainly is one that makes my heart rejoice. To know that others love me in ways that I know I don't deserve, it's almost too much joy to contain.

To all of you who have written to me, thank you. It means more to me than I can express.

Paul

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