Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sabbatical Thoughts - Day 3

During this "time away" during which I am resting, reading, studying, and listening to God - I stumbled upon the following from Dan Perkins - Pastor of
Twin Oaks Church - San Jose, CA

I will be probably spend several days pondering the following:

I don't know why it's taken me this long to realize that most things in life that are good for you can also be bad for you (key word... most as opposed to some). So... I got to thinkin... What makes it so? Reminded of that old joke about the town idiot who thought the thermos was the greatest invention ever made. "So," another person replies, "What's so special about a thermos? It keeps things hot or cold."
"Yes!" says the idiot... "But how does it know?"

What I've discovered are the two key components in whether something will be good or bad for you.

First, Moderation. Without getting into the moral implications of behavior (duh! put down the breadstick) this seems rather obvious. Too much of anything can be bad. Right? The notion of "you can never be too rich or thin" has already been dispelled by anorexia and the lottery. Besides, anyone who has been to Hawaii can attest there comes a time when you do want to go home. So what makes moderation a determining factor of whether something is good or bad for you is when you push beyond the point of content for the sake of consumption. We here in the US are trained to think and consume beyond contentment. Why? Because we can!

So, you're probably thinking, "What's so special about the thermos..." Well, I'm not saying this is certain but I think our ability to moderate our consumption is a key link to our ability to live holy. As a pastor I have had to deal with a lot of people's choices that have put them in difficult life situations. Invariably, those choices were the results of people going beyond the point of contentment insisting for more! More sex, more numbing, more money, more power, more... More... MORE! Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should do something. Sadly, we have grown up in a place and in a time when you walk into the candy store you check your pockets to see how much money you have and proceed to buy all the teeth-rotting, insulin-rising, pre-packaged stuff we can get our hands on. Why do we do this? Perhaps it because we've been conditioned but I know some folks who just know how to live contently! They have little, drive older cars, take simple camping vacations, you get the idea; and they're happy! They're simply happier than most folks I know because they're content! How did they miss the conditioning?

The second cause for good or bad is our Motivation. Now this one gets a little tricker to identify because it's hard to pin down motivation. I believe motivation is fluid. It changes course like a meandering river based on the current landscape. In fact, motivation can quickly change when confronted with certain obstacles. Our motivation can either push us to these obstacles and reveal our heart's conviction or push us through these obstacles and reveal our heart's resolve. They key here is our heart. What good or bad that results of any action, activity or ability is what lies within our heart... "YES! But how does it know?"

Our walls... The things that we hold within... for security, defense and identity or let me put it this way, for peace of mind, confidence in any situation and what you want people to know about you; are healthy when we are moved and monitored by a standard beyond ourselves and built on a foundation of spiritual and ethical bedrock. Our gates... The things we let in our lives, determined not by quantity but quality, will ultimately decided how well we live our lives.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Tyndale House Publishers. (2004). Holy Bible : New Living Translation. "Text edition"--Spine. (2nd ed.) (Ro 12:2). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.

So how does this work in your life? Here are some questions for you to discuss.

How content are you and what makes you content? are you leaking?
What do you fill your life with to be "full?"
Are there appropriate and/or defined boundaries in your life?
If so, what are they?
If not, what should they be?
What causes you to act on something?
Do you see yourself as a leader or a follower? A motivator or moderator?
What precautions have or do you need to take on letting good things in your life and removing the "crap" from your life?
When was the last time you did an inspection of the gates in your life? food, entertainment, friendships, habits, recreation, pursuits... what's been burned, loose and hanging off the hinge?
Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-6 and discuss it's meaning, keeping in mind what can be good for you can be bad without moderation and proper motivation...

Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

Tyndale House Publishers. (2004). Holy Bible : New Living Translation. "Text edition"--Spine. (2nd ed.) (Ec 12:6-7). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.