Last Friday my wife and I were sitting in the LAX airport waiting to get on a flight back from our California vacation. We had purchased standby tickets for the flight, which saved us a good amount of money. The only issue with standby tickets is that you always run the risk of not getting on a flight depending on how full that particular flight is. Our flight was a red-eye flight and so we had bought the tickets weeks prior thinking that there should be plenty of seats available because no one really likes flying through the night. However, we underestimated the amount of people who were on spring beak and were taking this flight.
As we sat waiting to be called up to get our tickets, I felt anxiety that we may not get on the flight. This would have lead to a long night of getting back through the craziness of LAX, trying to find a hotel room at midnight, and getting on a flight hopefully the next day. In other words, this option wouldn’t be ideal. We were praying that the Lord would help us to get on the flight. Finally, the ticketing agent called Mindee up and we got our tickets confirming that we would be on the plane headed home. This was a moment of rejoicing! After a long day of not knowing, we were excited to be able to head home. I thanked God for His provision and we boarded the plane.
Once we got on the plane I noticed that the luggage space above my seat was full and I would have to move back a couple rows to find space for my carry on. Dissatisfied, I found an open space a few rows back and put my luggage there. I then found my seat, which at first I thought was great and then minutes later I began to feel a little claustrophobic and uncomfortable. It also didn’t help that the person behind me kept pushing on my seat. I started to grumble to myself about it. After we took off, I started to get really thirsty. Frustrated, I thought to myself, “Where is the beverage cart?” It was at this moment that I realized how discontent I was being. I had gone from not knowing if I would be on the flight to all this feeling of entitlement in just an hour. I was just saved from not having to go through everything I would have had to go through had we not been allowed on the flight to grumbling and wondering about when I would get my ginger-ale. I felt the Spirit convict me and I repented immediately. I had so quickly forgotten how joyful I felt just to be on the flight.
I think this relates to many of us as Christians. Maybe you have been a Christian for many years or maybe you are newer to the faith. Either way, we need to guard ourselves against feelings of entitlement and boredom. After walking with Jesus for awhile, I have seen some Christians start to feel entitled as if God should be doing more for them. They look for other avenues of how God can serve them and bless them. When their prayers are not answered the way they want, they grumble. Maybe this is you right now.
I have also witnessed Christians become bored with Jesus as if he is just another thing in their busy lives. The gospel becomes less and less glorious to them as time goes on. Some of you may be feeling that way right now. It’s in these times that we need to remind ourselves, or have others help to remind us, of the beauty that is the good news of Jesus. We need to be reminded of back when we first believed in this glorious truth and held it so dear and precious to ourselves. We need to be reminded of how thankful we were just to hear this good news. Think back to when that was for you? I’m sure you were rejoicing, because when the Holy Spirit illuminates the glory of the death and resurrection of Jesus for you, there is no other response.
I pray that we would not feel entitled as if God owes us something more. Family, we already obtain infinitely more than we ever deserved from God. I pray that we would not get bored with the gospel. Would we not sigh and say “I know this already” when we hear it preached or taught. Rather, I pray we would revel in the fact that God chose us to be His children and that we are saved from our sin.
Brothers and sisters, entitlement and boredom can be a deadly foe to our spiritual growth. Would we not fall into these. Rather by God’s help, would we be like a guy who rejoices in the simple fact that he doesn’t have to be left where he is, but gets to be included on the flight that’s headed home.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.