Archives For August 2009

Rolled Away

Allison Stevens —  August 27, 2009 — 6 Comments

Do you have things in your life that sometimes creep back into your mind and haunt you? Things you did when you knew better? Times when you were “hell-bent” on doing whatever it was that made you feel good at the moment? Actions that if others knew you did it, they’d disown you?

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Getting Even

Jeff Olson —  August 27, 2009 — 3 Comments

Fist-flickrI recently ran across a website about taking revenge. I was actually stunned to see how many on-line sites are dedicated to the goal of getting even. From “thepayback.com” to “makehimpay.net,” scores of people share stories and tips on how to even the score with those who rub them the wrong way.

These people apparently live by the motto, “I don’t get mad. I get even.”

Getting even reminds me of the Old Testament character Joseph. If there was ever someone who had the “right” and the chance to get even, it was this guy. After his jealous older brothers sold him into slavery and staged his death (Genesis 37), Joseph eventually landed in Egypt, where God worked in his life through a remarkable set of twists and turns. By the time he was only thirty years old, Pharaoh put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt (Genesis 41:41-43).

Joseph was a wise ruler. During the productive years he stored up huge quantities of food to prepare Egypt for the years of famine that were sure to come. During a severe famine, when Joseph’s brother’s traveled to Egypt to buy food, an opportunity for revenge presented itself. But rather than get even and let his brothers have it, he set them up to demonstrate a level of mercy that could only come from God (Genesis 44-45).

His willingness to show mercy grew out of an awareness that he was involved in something much larger than himself, even his own mistreatment (Genesis 45:5; 50:15-22).

I don’t know about you, but I can get so caught up in how others have hurt me that I lose sight of how God (even though He didn’t intend for it to happen) may be redeeming it for a greater good? This story invites and challenges me to be more open to see my pain with redemptive eyes than I typically do. —Jeff Olson

Honor . . .

Tim Jackson —  August 25, 2009 — 1 Comment

Honor. Now that’s a term we don’t hear much about these days. It seems to be an antiquated idea from a bygone era. But I heard the term yesterday as I listened to the local news carry the story of a young corporal who lost his life while serving in Afghanistan. He was a son and great grandson of one of our ministry families here at RBC. His body returned home five days ago. The local news stated that he will be buried “with full military honors” today.

Honor guard

Honor guard

Honor. My mind flashed back 10 years to the images of a flag draped coffin with a military honor guard at a little country cemetery in West Michigan. Family friends had lost a son while serving on active duty in the Navy. What I witnessed that day brought tears to my eyes then and now as I remember the “honor” these fellow soldiers gave to a fallen one of their own.

What impressed me was the care, the time, the attention to detail, and the respect that the “honor guard” displayed not only for their lost brother in arms, but also for the family who had made the ultimate sacrifice of their son in the service of their country. The compassion, tenderness, respect, and strength that was given to the grieving family was nothing short of beautiful.

What still impresses me today is the obvious weightiness of an irreplaceable human being that this kind of honor demonstrates. Would that we honored one another in life like the military community honors one of their own in death.  We so easily forget that every soul carries weight. Why? Because we forget that we bear the image of the weighty God of the universe (Gen. 1:26-27). In the flurry of activities of our everyday lives and in the barrage of distractions that clamor for every scrap of our attention, we often forget the weight that we each bear. C. S. Lewis called it “the weight of glory.” Flawed as we all are, nevertheless, we are still marked by the weight of His glorious image.

I saw a flash of glory today in the honor given to a fallen soldier. It reminded me that we would all do well to take time each day to genuinely look one another in the eye and give each one that we meet–whether family, friend, or foe–the honor that is due to one who bears the immeasurable weight of our Creator’s glory–“For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Headship and husbands

Allison Stevens —  August 14, 2009 — 3 Comments

I think often about the role of husbands. Is he the “head” of the home and if so, what does that mean exactly?

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Slowing it down

Jeff Olson —  August 6, 2009 — 2 Comments

speedometer-flickrLast year, as the average price for a gallon of gasoline climbed above $4.00, I began to notice many people around me driving slower. Rather than quickly racing to their next destination, more and more drivers started taking a more economical approach.

Along with better gas mileage, I started to sense an unexpected benefit to slowing down. I didn’t realize it at first, but something inside of me began to slow down too. As I was driving to work or to the store, it hit me that I felt more relaxed—like my soul was catching its breath. I didn’t feel nearly as rushed as I usually do. It was a surprising, yet welcome relief.

Slowing it down can be a real challenge. If you’re like me, it’s easy to get so caught up in rushing through life that we leave our souls in the dust. Slowing down on the roads helped me realize how true that was for me.

We are built to take breaks. The Bible refers to it as “Sabbath.” It’s a part of the rhythm of life God instilled when He Himself rested after He finished His work of creation (Genesis 2:2-3) Right from the start, God meant for humans to work (Genesis 2:15), but He also meant for us to unplug and rest. Too often, however, the tendency is to plow through our days and weeks with little, if any, time for Sabbath.

Dialing it down makes for good mental health. Whether it’s easing off the gas pedal on the roads, choosing not to work through lunch, or taking a few days of R&R, we need to pause, let our souls catch up, and center ourselves in the One who made us to find our ultimate rest in Him.

Who are you?

Jeff Olson —  August 3, 2009 — 8 Comments

PassportCertain songs tend to stay with and get me to thinking. Lately, I’ve been struck by the following lyrics from an older song,

“Who are you? Who, who…who, who?

The words strike me as more than a line from a catchy tune by the British band The Who. The lyrics actually raise a core question-do we know who we really are?

It’s an important question. And answering it is not as simple as rattling off the basic information found on our passport—name, address, etc. There’s a lot more to us.

For instance, the opening pages of the Bible tell us that we bear the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). The Bible also tells us that “we are God’s offspring” (Acts 17:28). In other words, who we are is wrapped up in being one of God’s kids. And those of His offspring, who have found forgiveness and restoration through Jesus Christ, can learn to walk in the peace and the joy and the purpose of a new life in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Reading what the Bible says about us is truly good news. And I wish it were that simple. The problem is there are other destructive messages that come to us in various ways that compete with some of the things we read about ourselves in the pages of Scripture. As we’ve gone through life in a broken world, we’ve all heard lies that cause us to doubt who we really are; false messages that say we’re nothing or unwanted; half-truths that seduce us into believing there is something deeply flawed and unredeemable in us.

So…who are you? What are the messages you’ve heard? A lot is riding on the answers we end up with. If we don’t know what God really thinks of us, we will continue to live far less than who He intended us to be.