Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If you can't do it right...

I hear the nagging words of my mother, "If you can't do it right, don't do it at all." I honestly can't say I remember a specific situation where I was given this command, and yet I have it somewhere in the back of my head. While many people use this as an excuse to avoid trying something new, or avoid something better, the truth is that there is definitely a time and place for this advice. Sword swallowing. Knife throwing. Those immediately come to mind. And why? For no other reason then our own safety and the safety of those around us.

I love the translation of Malachi 1 in The Message:
A Message. God's Word to Israel through Malachi: God said, "I love you." You replied, "Really? How have you loved us?" "Look at history" (this is God's answer). "Look at how differently I've treated you, Jacob, from Esau: I loved Jacob and hated Esau. I reduced pretentious Esau to a molehill, turned his whole country into a ghost town."

When Edom (Esau) said, "We've been knocked down, but we'll get up and start over, good as new," God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, "Just try it and see how far you get. When I knock you down, you stay down. People will take one look at you and say, 'Land of Evil!' and 'the God-cursed tribe!'

"Yes, take a good look. Then you'll see how faithfully I've loved you and you'll want even more, saying, 'May God be even greater, beyond the borders of Israel!'

"Isn't it true that a son honors his father and a worker his master? So if I'm your Father, where's the honor? If I'm your Master, where's the respect?" God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling you on the carpet: "You priests despise me!

"You say, 'Not so! How do we despise you?'

"By your shoddy, sloppy, defiling worship.

"You ask, 'What do you mean, "defiling"? What's defiling about it?'

"When you say, 'The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority,' that's defiling. And when you offer worthless animals for sacrifices in worship, animals that you're trying to get rid of—blind and sick and crippled animals—isn't that defiling? Try a trick like that with your banker or your senator—how far do you think it will get you?" God-of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.

"Get on your knees and pray that I will be gracious to you. You priests have gotten everyone in trouble. With this kind of conduct, do you think I'll pay attention to you?" God-of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.

"Why doesn't one of you just shut the Temple doors and lock them? Then none of you can get in and play at religion with this silly, empty-headed worship. I am not pleased. The God-of-the-Angel-Armies is not pleased. And I don't want any more of this so-called worship!

"I am honored all over the world. And there are people who know how to worship me all over the world, who honor me by bringing their best to me. They're saying it everywhere: 'God is greater, this God-of-the-Angel-Armies.'

"All except you. Instead of honoring me, you profane me. You profane me when you say, 'Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account,' and when you say, 'I'm bored—this doesn't do anything for me.' You act so superior, sticking your noses in the air—act superior to me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! And when you do offer something to me, it's a hand-me-down, or broken, or useless. Do you think I'm going to accept it? This is God speaking to you!

"A curse on the person who makes a big show of doing something great for me—an expensive sacrifice, say—and then at the last minute brings in something puny and worthless! I'm a great king, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, honored far and wide, and I'll not put up with it!"

The people of God had definitely put themselves in a situation where if they weren't going to do it right, they shouldn't be doing it at all. Their motives were wrong even if their actions were right.

Sometimes I worry that God is watching our generation and saying the same thing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finisher's Medal

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV)

The idea of a finisher's medal never really appealed to me until I found myself taking my last steps across a finish line, 12k from where I started 92 minutes and 41 seconds previously. Though I finished in the top 1/3 of females that day (7490 of 24,139), I hardly deserved an award for performance. True, my finishing time was about ten minutes faster than I had ever trained at home - thank you race day adrenaline - but it was hardly something I would brag about.

If on race day, they were only handing out awards for those who deserve it, very few would have received one; and if God's handing out awards for those who deserve it, none would receive it. You see, essentially, none of us are able to run the exact race we were intended to. We've fallen and failed along the way, but the joy is in getting back up and pushing on. God is a righteous Judge and sees our heart and our efforts.

So, maybe a finisher's medal is cool to me now, because I have one. Or maybe it's because I know I am still in the middle of a race, one that will eventually award me an even cooler finisher's medal, the crown of righteousness.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


One day about a year and a half ago, upon seeing the boyscout group at our local park, I asked Jacob if he'd like to be a boyscout. Adamantly, he answered he did not. He had developed some very strong feelings about them, which I thought was interesting since I don't know any boyscouts and I didn't think he did either. Fast forward to last week when I picked up Jacob from school. There were boys dressed in their uniforms, ready to go to their meeting. It all made sense now. He had obviously had an encounter or learned the reputation of one or more of the boyscouts at his school.

A few bad apples, right?

So many times I hear of the reputation many so-called Christians have earned for those of us earnestly trying to follow God. Christians are often stereo-typed for the wrong doings of those who called themselves something they never really were.

Or worse: sometimes Christians are exactly what the masses are perceived as, but we are too self-righteous to see it, humble ourselves, and ask God to change us.