Friday, August 24, 2012

#115 Ninja Splinters

Life is filled with pains; some minor, some major, and some just irritating.  Having survived some 38 years now I have had a few pains along the way.  One type of pain that can be tricky to deal with is a splinter.  Some call it a sliver but I grew up hearing the word splinter and will most likely stay with it. When I think of a sliver I have visions of pie pieces that have been cut too small.  They reach a point where they cease to be pieces of pie and simply become slivers.  Slivers that do little more than make you want more pie because you really wanted a piece all along.  But I digress.  Pie is not my point...back to splinters.

In the various jobs and projects I have worked on over the course of my life I have had wood and metal splinters.  There's nothing like having a piece of lumber slide through your hands only to come to an abrupt stop because a splinter of wood embedded in your flesh.  Or if you have ever been drilling through a piece of metal you've seen the spiral-shaped metal that is peeled out of the hole.  Sometimes when you're drilling or cutting metal the shavings are really, really small and look more like dust than tiny pieces of metal.

In my questionably humble opinion, the small splinters are the worst.  I would much rather--if I have to get a splinter--have a larger piece of wood or metal that I can easily see, easily remove, and easily discard.  But there have been times that I really did not notice I even had a splinter until my clothing catches it just the right way or unless I happen to place pressure on that portion of my hand in some way.  There you are going about your business and then "Ouch!"  You have a brief stabbing pain run through your body.  Upon further inspection you cannot even see what happened.  Sometimes it has taken me days to actually dig around with a needle or pin to find the little rascal.  I always feel a special sense of satisfaction and relief once those pesky little ninja splinters are gone from my body.

In a similar way some of our relationships resemble splinters.  Yes, some people sort of jab or pierce us in a hurtful way.  Most times it's rather obvious to me when someone doesn't like me or the way that I do something.  Other times we cannot really tell that we are being pierced by someone because they are subtle about their dislike of us.  Maybe they smile to our face then run us down to others.  And many times we are not even aware that we are being "poked" until an event causes a "snag".  Then we suddenly realize that all is not well.  We are then faced with the realization that something is sticking us and perhaps we've been sticking someone else unawares.  Yes, some of our relationships are like the ninja splinters.

But far more important than removing a foreign object from our finger is removing the foreign objects from our character and from our relationships.  Let me say this, "Some relationships will never be mended."  Why?  Simply because not everyone wants to make amends.  Some people are so stubborn, arrogant, and prideful that they refuse to budge.  They do this while expecting everyone else to bend and change around for them.

As Christians we have an obligation to try to make things right with people.  Jesus often urged His followers to work through things.  He urged us to forgive and to seek forgiveness.  Ultimately, Jesus  gave us all the counsel and teaching that we need to be prepared to live with Him forever in heaven and in the new earth.  The big question is, "Will you take the time to dig out the splinters or just let them stay while infection sets in?"  We all know that infection breeds death and Christ has not come to destroy us but rather to give us eternal life.  The choice is yours, which will you choose?

Dear Father God,
Today, I thank You for splinters.  Not because I like getting them but because it reminds me that it's better to dig out the splinter and endure a little pain there instead of living with it and suffering infection and death.  Please teach us to lean on You, Lord, in all that we do.  May we always know that we can trust You to help us through each struggle and through each difficult relationship.  Give us the courage to dig out the splinters of our relationships and character that we might be prepared for eternity with You and that You might be glorified through all that we do.  We pray now in Jesus' name, Amen!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

#114 Self Checkout

Are there things in this world that irritate you?  Are there things that just get right under your skin?  Of course there are.  We all have things that we either have a distaste for or that rub us the wrong way or that really irritate us.  Sometimes we call these things our "pet peeves".

In my questionably humble opinion self checkouts are the bane of the modern retail world.  Yes, yes I know that lots of people use them and think that they are the greatest thing since buttons on a shirt, but I do not and will not use self checkouts.  Why you ask?  It's actually very simple.

Every item that is sold in a given retail establishment is priced with the cost of the labor required to stock the items on the shelf and to ring out the items when they are ready to be purchased.  In other words the price you are paying for every item has calculated into it the cost of paying the people who work there to put it out for sale and to assist you in buying it.  So when you and I ring out the items ourselves we are throwing away money.  Every time you wave an item across the scanner, make your payment, and bag your items you throw away money because the store schedules less workers because you are doing the work they used to hire people for.

Some retail locations take it even further by attempting to force you to use the self checkouts because they realize how much money you save them by doing the work yourself.  They "force" the use of these lanes by placing them closest to the store exits.  The staffed checkout lanes are all the way to the center of the 50 checkout lanes.  The store is banking on the idea that people will be too lazy to walk all the way to the center registers where paid cashiers are working.

Now my wife would disagree with me on this topic for sure.  She loves the convenience of not waiting for long lines of people to flow through the manned stations.  She likes letting the kids scan the items and bag them.  But I am thankful that she patiently waits with me in line when we are together.  I would have much less aversion to this new way of doing business if the stores gave us a small discount for doing their work or if they at least gave us special coupons to save money on our next visit.  So until they start doing that you will find me in line letting the store earn its overhead.

"Take a deep breathe, relax, and now make a point."  The reason I bring this up today is that it's really silly how many things we let bother us.  Yes, I feel that it is a principled issue and not simply being too lazy to check out my own items, but is it really worth getting worked up over?  How many times do we irritate the Lord because of our foolishness?  I'm actually afraid to know the answer to that.  No doubt there are countless times that our foolishness causes heartache to the Lord and yet He lovingly and patiently keeps working with us.

If God is patient and long suffering with us how much should we also be toward one another?  It's almost as if we feel entitled to being able to get upset over foolish things when really we too are called to be like our Lord.  When Paul wrote the epistle to the church in Galatia he told them how to know if they were connected to God.  He wrote that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22, 23).

I have to admit there are too many times that I have not been long suffering with people.  There are too many times that I have not been kind, gentle, good or self-controlled.  But today I want to have a fresh connection with the Spirit of God that I might bear fruit worthy of His presence don't you?

Dear Father God,
I thank You for bearing with us in our foolishness.  I thank You for not giving up on us.  Please forgive us where we have failed You today.  Please forgive us for all the silly things we do and for all the grievous sins too.  Today we long to be close to You with a clean heart.  As You grant us forgive us please also fill us with Your Spirit that we might bear fruit worthy of our God.  We love You and pray now in the precious name of Jesus, Amen!

Friday, August 3, 2012

#113 Blindsight

We have all heard of either having hindsight or foresight right?  Hindsight is being able to look back on events and see where better decisions could have been made or how things went right or wrong.  Men and women have also been blessed by the Lord to have foresight sometimes.  God has often revealed what would happen in the future.  Foresight can also be interpreted to mean that someone has the ability to discern how events will unfold.

While I am familiar with both hindsight and foresight I must admit I had never heard of blindsight.  That is until I read an article about a man who progressively lost his eyesight due to a series of strokes.  He lost vision in one eye with the first stroke and the other quickly followed suit shortly thereafter.

But unlike many people who lose their sight this man was not completely blind.  No, he could not see things but yet he could see.  Let me explain.  You see the strokes damaged the visual cortex of his brain where images are processed.  The oddly rare thing about this man's condition is that only his visual cortex was damaged.  Meaning that his eyes still worked just fine.  His eyes still saw things just as they always had.  Researchers were amazed by this man because even though he was clinically blind he could still tell if someone was angry, sad, happy, or otherwise.  He could still navigate around objects.  It was quite amazing to me to see how resilient the human body is.

As I read the story about this amazing man I could not help but wonder just how limited our bodies are now because of sin.  In Genesis 1:26 we read that God decided to make man in His image.  But we also know, thanks to the Biblical record, that sin has had a very harmful effect on that original image.  This is most notable perhaps in the shorter lifespans that we have now compared to the first several generations after creation.

How much more are our bodies capable of?  How much more would God have us do that is more in harmony with the image of God?  The only way to find out is to make sure we have a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Not only are we promised that He will make us a new creation as it relates to our character (2 Cor. 5:17), but He will give us a new, glorified body that is not tainted with sin (2 Cor 5:2, 1 Cor 15:51-53). Each time I get up with a sore back or have a headache I long for that new body.  When I see children with birth defects or anyone with a severe handicap my heart longs to see them made whole too.

The part that makes me the happiest I suppose is that the promise of a new, untainted character and of a new, glorified body is freely available to all who will accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.  It is my prayer that we all will have a desire to be connected to the Savior.  Why not let today be the day that you start living for Him more fully and completely?

Dear Father God,
Thank You for making us with such amazingly wonderful bodies.  Thank You that each one of us is a beautiful miracle.  Please keep us faithful to You until the day that You restore us to the image You first desired for us.  Until then may we live to glorify You in all that we do.  In Jesus' name we pray, Amen!