Distractions and Divisions: Majoring in the Minors

Sunday was an out-of-the-ordinary day for me. My beautiful niece, is just weeks away from blessing our family with a healthy baby boy. Baby JT (they aren’t giving us his name yet, just initials) will be my first great-nephew! He will also be my parents’ first great-grandchild. So it was only appropriate that we attend her baby shower, even if it was on a Sunday afternoon three hours away in another state. That’s what families do!

My sister-in-law offered to drive so we made a day of it. Sitting in the back seat of my brother’s brand new extended cab pickup truck, leather and loaded, my seat partner was my 12 year old niece Gracie. What fun we had telling stories that she had never heard before about family. Then on the way back, we played a game Gracie wanted to play: Start two words of a story then the next person repeats those words, adds their two words, and so it goes. I must say they were a bit ridiculous but I don’t know the last time I have laughed so hard.

I said all of that to say this: Driving down I-275 in Ohio, chatting away, all of a sudden my SIL swerves over into the median and then immediately corrects herself beautifully back onto the busy highway just like she had meant to do it. What I did NOT see was the driver beside us who was busy on his phone and not paying attention. He had wandered into our lane so quickly she had to react. React is exactly what she did; pickup trucks are not just for men! So many times in a situation like that you over-correct and cause a wreck, or you jerk so quickly to miss the guilty vehicle that you flip your own. Thankfully God was watching out for us and Shauna was an excellent driver.

It could have been so much worse; all because of distraction.

It’s been a busy time, to many a frustrating week. Don’t worry; I’m not going to become political. We all have opinions and convictions. Instead, let us think about spiritual warfare, about someone else who has been busy, very busy with distraction and divisions. The Bible tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion, roaming to and fro. Doing what? He is seeking whom he may DEVOUR. (1 Peter 5:8.)

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 ESV.

Martha was distracted. The scripture doesn’t say she was too busy, it doesn’t say she was guilty of doing something insignificant. But she was distracted by the things that were not important Distracted means to be physically pulled or dragged away from something. There was division between Martha and her sister, Mary.

Everyone had to eat eventually; even Jesus would share their meal. But Martha was distracted with MUCH serving. Mary was “at the feet of Jesus” which doesn’t particularly mean she was sitting right on His toes. It was used to signify that she was a follower of Jesus, she made it her purpose to hang on His every word and if He was in the room there was NOTHING else that would distract her from hearing from Him!

Is that where we find ourselves today? All of the political, social and economic happenings are important and not to be taken lightly. But what could we be doing that is more important, no matter how we feel about different situations?

Majoring in the Minors

Look at this passage of scripture that speaks so plainly (the bold emphasis is mine):

“But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.

You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:3-18 NLT.

I could have easily highlighted it all, it is so good. Peter is telling us that there are things out there that can easily trip us up, distract us and keep us from our ultimate purpose: that the Lord might delay His coming just so more people could be saved! While we are waiting for His return we are to be living peaceful lives, pure and blameless in His sight, pointing others to Him.

This is nothing new; these are the Apostle Peter’s words, not mine! So we must be on guard! Pour ourselves into study of the Word so we will not be fooled and confused and lose our own secure footing.

I am not taking lightly anything that is going on in the world from ISIS terrorism to racial relations, marriage redefinition, who will be the next president of the United States and on and on and on…it is all important! We should be praying, fasting, petitioning God to have mercy on our country and our world. None of these things should surprise the Christian…we have the playbook! We know these things must come to pass before the Lord will come to take us out of here and we will be ushered into His presence. We do not know when that day will be but I just have to think the Lord is grieved with our distraction and the devil is dancing with glee.

Let us remember the MAJORS: The Gospel, reaching the lost, sharing the literal Good News that Jesus Christ still delivers, still saves, still heals, still brings hope to the hopeless. If we don’t tell them, who will? May we not be so distracted by letting our voices be heard on the latest Supreme Court decision, mass shooting, or act of terrorism that we forget to tell the one sitting beside us at lunch that Jesus is the answer. And the way out.

Souls going out into eternity are the majors, everything else is minor.

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I’ll see you in my complicated migraine dreams…

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The #FiveMinuteFriday prompt is the word Dream. We are to write five minutes, no editing, worrying or self-analyzing. Just write for the love of the written word. You can read other great takes on this week’s prompt here.

Go!

I have complicated/complex migraines. Not that I am bragging by any stretch of the imagination. For twenty years or more I suffered from regular migraines; the hide your face under a pillow, plug your ears from any noise, cry and pray it would go away soon migraine. Anyone who suffers with these debilitating headaches has my heartfelt sympathy and compassion. I have felt your pain.

But for some reason known only to God Almighty, I, thankfully, no longer have those types of headaches. I have what I call the crazy migraine. The Sweetheart will definitely agree with me.

Complicated migraines can, at times, mimic a stroke in their symptoms. For instance, you can become weak on one side, your speech will slur or you might not make any sense at all. Some are very scary, others are quite mild. Some also have throbbing headaches, others just a mild one. I don’t have a lot of pain, usually a dull headache in the back of my head with extreme numbness and tingling in my head, down my side, leg and into my feet where it feels like lightning bolts are scampering to be the first in line to zap the life out of me. I become extremely dizzy and disoriented to the point of knocking over furniture; I am a threat to myself to be sure.

Mine are just weird.

The fun part begins when I fall asleep. I might have just drifted off when The Sweetheart says I then start hollering crazy things such as, “Help me, help me, please come help me!” But it is a mumbled mess because my speech is slurred and I am half-asleep. What I am experiencing on the other end is a dream. It is almost always the same type of dream, I am trying to wake up or trying to get away from something and I am yelling for my Doogalas to come and rescue me but it feels like I have cotton in my mouth and can’t get it out. Or, worse yet, I am running in slow motion (picture your favorite cartoon character) and my words come out very slow and with extreme effort, as if we have slowed down a record from 78 rpm to 45. I just can’t get my feet and legs to cooperate. And he doesn’t come to rescue me. (There might be hidden explanations here, hmmm?)

This last one was supposedly my most entertaining yet. I started crying and saying, “I want to go with you; I want to go with you!” The Sweetheart is trying to wake me up and when I do finally come around, I fall right back asleep and ten minutes later it starts all over again with “help me, help me!” Once again, being the gallant rescuer that he is, I am gently awakened and brought back to reality for a short few moments before we repeat the process all over again for a third time.

dreams 1

We all have them, some good, some not so good, some just plain confusing and exhausting. When I was little, I shared a room and a double bed with my sister who was two years older. My parents have told us many stories of the two of us talking in our sleep.

And make sense?! We did. Gotta admit that is very strange and I don’t tell too many people. They might think we were weird or something. (smile)

So what are your dreams?

Do you feel like you are past the age of seeing dreams fulfilled? I will be 54 years old in about three weeks and I haven’t seen all of my dreams come to pass but I sure have seen many of them. I wanted a family, I wanted The Sweetheart, I wanted all of us to serve God together. I wanted a home that everyone could come back to. If you know me, you know I do not have that last part. My family is scattered and I don’t even own a home any longer because of our traveling for Revival By Design and our overseas work. We are scattered because of ministry; I will not complain!

Then there are the things I never dreamed I would see or do such as traveling the world to help new works become established, teaching and training leaders sometimes even with an interpreter. Who knew? Maybe we don’t dream big enough, maybe we should aim higher and just see what God will do.

Maybe, just maybe, God would hear our cry and answer our prayers, fulfilling our dreams!

Praying today my dreams would become more Kingdom focused, with or without migraines. Praying for you, wherever you are, that you would dream big, as the song says, “That’s the Lord’s desire for you….” And one day our dreams, our ultimate dream of living eternally with the Savior, will become reality. We will all be gathered around the throne and we won’t have to worry about whether we are going to be rescued. Jesus has already accomplished the work. It is finished.

I’ll see you in my dreams…

Stop.

 

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Fits, Fights, French Fries and Father’s Day

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Reader Discretion Advised: The following story is true. The names may have been changed to protect the innocent. If you feel you are acquainted with the players, please keep this information to yourself so as not to spoil it for other readers who might have enjoyed thinking it was their own family. Some of it may, or may not, be written in first person just because this writer likes to keep things interesting. Happy Father’s Day!

Fits, Fights, French Fries and Father’s Day

Sunday church with three boys is exhausting, exasperating and simply draining. Getting them ready for Sunday School would be a big enough job: prying each one out of bed over and over again, breakfast three different times, foraging for lost socks, shoes or even underwear (clean underwear), and separating them from each other when their sleepy attitudes turn to in-your-face fist-fights.

We had TWO Sunday services each week; one at 10 a.m. and the other at 7 p.m. This made for a very long day for parents that were youth pastors with many responsibilities. To say our stress level was high would be an understatement.

Now, our three boys were not angels. Blond hair, blue eyes and smiles that melt even the grouchiest heart, they were still all boy, through and through. They liked to wrestle, they loved sports and they lived to antagonize each other. In this particular story their ages were approximately 12, 6 and 1 ½.

It had been another long day, but a good day, in the house of worship. We had about a 20 minute drive home and it wasn’t unusual to stop sometimes at a fast food restaurant for a snack and drink for their ride back. It was winter and I opted for hot chocolate, The Darling got his usual Coke or Dr. Pepper and the boys each had a French fry and drink to themselves. They were taking turns feeding The Baby little bites.

Then it began. I don’t remember what the squabble was about, I just remember it wouldn’t stop. Whining, picking, poking, telling on each other, taking someone’s toy, grabbing someone’s French fry, and it went on and on. I had turned around in the van and spoken pretty stern to them but it started right back up again. We were all tired, stressed and “over it”.

Then it happened. The Darling (affectionately coined because of his gentle nature and heart of goodness) jerked the van over to the side of the road and put it in park. I had flashbacks to my childhood of trips to Florida with four stair-step Brady Bunch look-alikes (or wanna-be’s) in the back seat and floorboard of the car. My dad would stop the car along the road, halfway through the Great Smoky Mountains, and say, “If you don’t stop it, I’m gonna turn this car around right now and we’re going back home!”

Yeah, sure you are. But back then gas wasn’t $3/gallon so who knows? He might have done it!

The Darling jumped out of the van and the bickering came to a halt. He grabbed the sliding door handle and threw it open so hard I thought it would go flying behind us. It became deathly silent inside the vehicle and little blue eyes were wider than dinner plates. This father, who was crazy about his boys, loved them to the moon and back and had the patience of Job (okay, I’m stretching that last part, he was a NORMAL dad) was grabbing French fries and child-size Cokes and pitching them over his head as fast as he could go. Bags, wrappers, entire drinks untouched were taking a trip down the grassy knoll faster than a speeding bullet.

I don’t remember hearing anything from Son #1 or, amazingly, from Son #2. I do remember The Baby in his innocent, sweet dutch-y, not-quite-2-yet voice squeak out, “My Fwee Fwies, my Fwee Fwies!”

I was holding on to my hot chocolate for dear life.

Silence.

Complete Silence.

The Darling returned to his driver’s seat, there was a slight whimper from the child car seat but no vocal sounds of any kind coming from two that had lived longer on the earth.

Reminiscent of the three Taylor boys of Tim the Toolman, these three hesitated to repeat that story for several years unless they were sharing with a trusted neighbor over the fence, but once they were out on their own it was free game, just like everything else.

The Darling? He is a great sport, hey, he didn’t throw out the kids, just French fries! He actually did feel bad about the littering and returned to the scene of the crime, unbeknown to the rest of us, and pick up the actual trash. He’s cool like that. (Disclaimer #2: The following picture is about five years old, perfect for this story, and the subjects may or may not be related to the actual events that took place many years earlier.)

Fits, Fights, French Fries & Father's Day

On this Father’s Day, some 22 years later, we want this dad to know we wouldn’t trade memories like that for anything. He gave selflessly, loved big and worked long hours to provide for his boys and their home and a lesson was taught that day that the boys wouldn’t soon forget and it was much louder, and more effective, than being grounded, sent to your room or a swat on the behind.

This is a weekend set aside to let our dads know how much we appreciate them and all they have sacrificed for us. For being there, for loving, giving and especially for listening. You are blessed if you had a dad in this category.

But what if you didn’t have a dad like that? What if your story is completely different and your childhood was abusive or your dad just didn’t care, didn’t take the time? Maybe he was distinctly absent from your life altogether. Perhaps you don’t even know his name.

And days on the calendar set aside to honor someone that you just don’t feel like honoring are, well, simply hard.

If you don’t have a father figure in your life like that, and this is a difficult weekend for you, know that your Heavenly Father can be all of those things to you and more. The 23rd Psalm says it best when it declares, “The Lord is my Shepherd…I have all I need.”

And, if you are a dad yourself? You do NOT have to repeat the pattern that was walked before you but you can give your own children a different life, a better upbringing than what you had by patterning your life after Jesus Christ.

If you dread Father’s Day because of infertility, my heart goes out to you.

Just like Mother’s Day, this day set aside in June to honor dads is especially trying for those who want to be parents but have not been able to enjoy that blessing as of yet. It is easy to tell you to be a father to a child who needs one, become a Big Brother or involve yourself in activities in your church or community. Those are definitely all good things to do and will enrich your life in so many ways. But this weekend it is just hard. It is hard to understand the “why’s” and to answer the questions in the back of your mind. Did you know that God hasn’t forgotten you and your wife? That yes, there are some families who never receive the answer to this prayer that they truly desire. Those are things we may never understand, but God does and He is able to heal that broken heart and replace that emptiness with a joy that can only come from knowing the Savior. I pray you and the one you love find that healing today.

If your father is no longer living, my sincere condolences in your tremendous loss. May your heart and mind be flooded with memories that remind you of him and his love for you.

Thank you to the all of the dads out there that are being DAD. As the saying goes, anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad.

Go be DAD to your kids and try your best not to throw FWEE FWIES out on the highway.

Kingdom2

 

You might also enjoy Stuff my Dad taught me

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