Mess to Message

To be honest, I haven't been consistently right with God for the past few days, weeks, and months. My life is a crazy mess. Which would be fine if my crazy mess of a life has no consequence to other people. Unfortunately and to my shame, until I get myself together I am messing up their lives as well.

It's the perfect word, "mess". It's really only by grace that we are surviving day by day, that my life is not falling apart, and that sometimes, there are even really really good days. These are all completely undeserved.

Now I am presented with a great opportunity: To experience, once again, the kind of changes that happen when I recommit and persevere in "seeking first God's kingdom and righteousness".

I feel ashamed that, after all this time, after all the times God has proven Himself faithful and powerful, I have come to this low point of my life again.

But at the same time, I feel excited. I know that things will turn out awesome. I know it.

But I have to do my part.

Debt, Hard Work, and Evil Schemes

Thoughts on Proverbs 6:1-19

Prevention is better than cure. So, as much as you can, don’t get yourself into financial debt.

What would make someone cosign a loan for a stranger? What would make someone make guarantees that would eventually ensnare them?

Haughtiness, and pride, maybe. Thinking big of himself and wanting to gain a reputation for being rich. It could also be because he was tricked or scammed by people with ill intent. Whatever the case, his financial literacy (managing of one’s finances) is not good. The parable of the prodigal* son comes to mind.

Sadly, many men have fallen into this trap. Proverbs 6 gives instructions on how to get out of it. 

Basically? Do. Whatever. It. Takes.

First on the agenda: Get your lazy *** out of bed, out of the couch, out of that comfy chair. If I were to apply this to our day and age, I would add get out of social media, out of games, out of TV or Movies.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know the things and activities we can – and should – give up.

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭6:10-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I know these verses, but didn’t notice until now that it’s after a passage on debt, and directed to a “sluggard”. Under normal circumstances and for those who do good work, this is still a great mindset to have, but one that can be easily abused. These two verses can be used as justification by workaholic Christians. Don’t overdo it.

“A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭6:12-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Some might be tempted with “get out of debt quick” or other “get rich quick” schemes. This is usually at the expense of others. Don’t do it, it will not end well. Proverbs says that the outcome for this is to be “broken beyond healing”.

It’s not often we get to know specifically what God hates, but Proverbs lists it up for us:

  • haugthy eyes
  • lying tongues
  • hands that shed innocent blood
  • heart that devises wicked plans
  • feet quick to run to evil
  • bearing false witness
  • sowing discord among brothers

Truly, the want of money (and the power that comes with it) makes men do detestable things.

To save us from falling on this trap, we need to make sure we are wholly devoted to God our Master.

(*Confession, I didn’t know what “prodigal” means until today)

How will people remember you?

Thoughts on Titus 3

Has it really been 2 months since the last post?

An acquaintance passed away the day I started meditating on Titus 3. He was young, my age, early 30s. His death was sudden – he was only admitted to the hospital only a few hours before and, as far as I know, he didn’t show any signs of sickness before then. He played sports regularly, had a vibrant social life, and seemed to enjoy his work too.

There’s much comfort knowing that he loves the Lord and is in peace in Heaven now. But his family and friends are crushed.

In the days after his death, messages from friends, family, and people whose lives were touched by him – whether directly or indirectly – came pouring in on social media. From their messages, I can tell that he lived a life of kindness, selflessness, laughter, and encouragement. He was a blessing to many people in his life, and even in his death.

This event brought me face to face with my own mortality. I spent many days and nights worrying, even anxious to the point of mini-panic attacks: “What if it happens to me?” 

What sort of life, what testimony, have I been living?

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
‭‭Titus‬ ‭3:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Am I living a life as one who has been forgiven, who has since then died to sin, and is victorious as the one who saved him?

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”
‭‭Titus‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Or, is there no change? Have I been like the seed sown among thorns where, “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” Mark‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

How will I be remembered?

Vultures

Thoughts on Hosea 8

“Set the trumpet to your lips! One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed my covenant and rebelled against my law.”

‭‭Hosea‬ ‭8:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

After reading this, I felt a chill up my spine – a feeling of dread. I know this: it’s that moment when you know that you messed up, God’s presence is gone and suddenly you are vulnerable.

“To me they cry, “My God, we—Israel—know you.” Israel has spurned the good; the enemy shall pursue him.”

‭‭Hosea‬ ‭8:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s not enough to know. Israel knew more about God than any other nation. In times of distress they know who is powerful, who is able to save. But knowing is not enough. There must be repentance, there must be a recognition and surrender to the His Lordship.

“They made kings, but not through me. They set up princes, but I knew it not. With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction.”

‭‭Hosea‬ ‭8:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Most of the time our problems are of our own doing. It happens when we make decisions without considering and consulting God. Whether it is because of direct defiance, or a simple lapse in judgment.

It just goes downhill from here. In spite of God’s discipline, the transgressions just gets worse and worse. And we try to fix the problems our own way. At one point we will try to ‘negotiate’ with God by doing ‘good things’, when all we really need to do is repent and turn our hearts back to him. Why is it so hard to do something so simple?

Hosea 8 ends with a sad note, I hope it will be better in the succeeding chapters.

Sit, Walk, Lie Down, Rise

Thoughts on Deuteronomy 11 (part 2.2)

“You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭11:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We’ve seen these passages before, in Deuteronomy 6:7-9. What did I write back then?

Wow. It’s taken me a year to get through 5 chapters of Deuteronomy…

Sadly, although I understood then what needed to be done and had some good ideas and good intentions, I never defined actual steps/actions that I would do..

Part of the fear of writing down my thoughts and the actions I will do is that it sets me up for potential disappointment if (when?) I fail. Like how I feel right now. But if I don’t write it down there’s no way to keep myself accountable to anyone. So here it is.

  • Sitting: During mealtimes, we can start a family tradition / habit. Something fun and meaningful to add to our prayer before meals. Should be prioritized over TV or other forms of entertainment. I need to get ideas for this.
  • Walking: The only time we can have a good conversation while “walking” is when we are inside the car. We noticed early on that Nate enjoys music (like his dad). So, trying to be a cool dad, I would play the Beatles as our soundtrack when we would go on trips. It’s lots of fun, singing along with him. We cannot deny that the Beatles were very creative – musically as well as lyrically. However, what were the lyrics? Good thing Nicole started playing Christian songs at home, and that Nate’s developed a couple of favorites. Now we play Christian songs during our trips. This should suffice for now.
  • Lie down: Oh yeah, we got one out of four, woohoo! It’s such a blessing to have started this, I don’t know how it happened. Now it’s part of our nighttime routine to have Bible Story time. We started with the Children’s Bible, and now we’re doing Goodnight Warrior. I look forward to this time with Nate everyday.
  • Rise: This may be a challenge since we don’t always wake up at the same time. If I’m still at home when my kids wake up, I can lead a prayer and/or reading of an encouraging verse.

Bottomline: Increase interactions, refocus topics, build an encouraging environment.