FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


Leave a comment

Just For Looks

This weekend I laughed with a friend as we kicked back and listened to Jerry Clower, Justin Wilson and Jeff Foxworthy on Pandora.   Especially funny to us (because of an inside joke) was Foxworthy’s line about the towels in the bathroom being “just for looks.”

Now I know that my friends and colleagues who are reading this post are at this very moment exchanging some looks.    Upon reading  the names Clower, Wilson and Foxworthy, some are saying, “Who?” while others are saying, “What?”  Still others are rolling their eyes in disbelief that I was listening to these three.

Nevertheless, the towels in my bathrooms are “just for looks.”  They are white!  Bright white, actually.  Not touching them is one of the rules of my roost.  Now if a guest came and used one I wouldn’t get bent out of shape (much), but those closest to me and those who frequent my home the most know.  They KNOW.  The white towels are “just for looks.”

Jeff Foxworthy said this simply did not make sense to him – or any other man (that was the point of the joke – crazy rules women have).

It was a joke – a simple one liner, but it got me thinking.  About looks.  About the things we do “just for looks.”  Because others are watching.  Because we worry about what people will say.  1 Samuel 16:7(b) ESV says, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Focusing on looks is clearly a “mis-focus.”  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look nice or wanting to maintain a beautiful home, we must establish priorities and maintain balance.  Our priority should be to seek the things of God (Colossians 3:1-2) and maintain balance in life.  We maintain balance by making sure Jesus is the center of our lives – much like the hub is the center of a wheel and permits that wheel to roll in balance.

Our lives naturally have a hub.  For some it is family.  For others it is career.  Your hub might be pursuit of education and degrees or it may be the quest for money.  It may be appearances or looks.

Make Jesus the center of your life.  He will provide the stability, control, power and confidence you need.  Isn’t that, after all, what our obsession with “looks” is about?  The Scriptures tell us to “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants.  Then all your other needs will be met as well (Matthew 6:33 NCV).

Yes, even the ones “just for looks.”

 

 

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Fried Crabs, Part 1

In the little town where I currently reside (most of the time), it is common to see street side vendors and their hand painted signs advertising “Fried Crabs.”  While one or two have a food truck of sorts – old converted vans, others have a folding card table dressed with a vinyl cloth and accented with an electric deep fryer and all sorts of odd plastic containers.  One bears some kind of cornmeal mixture while others contain spices and sometimes mixtures of liquid ingredients.  I’ve never dared ask exactly what.  There is, too, the old ice chest which holds the crabs.

There are always small gatherings of people when I pass.  Some standing.  Some finding a seat on an array of odd furnishings – old metal folding chairs, worn wooden stool chairs and, the one that always makes me smile, the discarded seats from cars and buses.  While some customers grab their fried crabs and go, others sit, chat, swat flies and swap stories as they eat their crabs.

I’ve only viewed these vendors from what I’ve deemed a reasonable distance.  I’ve never tasted their wares and have no desire to.  Why?  I eat with my eyes first, and these sites are less than appealing to me.  I cannot get past the looks of the ice chests – blackened and smudged exteriors, the plastic containers – yellowed and stained and sometimes the vendors themselves – greasy aprons and unkempt hair.  I have looked for the health department rating certificates, but have yet to spot one.  I’m thinking there are none.

So, I take a pass.  Again, I eat with my eyes first.

Don’t we all?  Well, at least most.

Appearances are important.

Given the choice of a bright, shiny, well lit diner or a dimly lit fast food restaurant surrounded by a littered parking lot, most would choose the diner.  Given the choice of drinking a tall glass of clear, cool water or taking a swig of water from a chipped cup with remains of a previous meal encrusted around the rim, most would choose the glass.

Our sensory systems – taste, smell, vision, auditory and touch – are intertwined.  Research shows that our vision heavily influences our tasting, smelling and even our thinking.

First impressions are powerful.  In a matter of seconds we form impressions.  It is our human nature to quickly evaluate and move on – I will eat that.  I won’t eat that.  I will buy that.  I won’t buy that.  I will like this person.  I won’t like this person.  Good? Bad?  Right?  Wrong?  I cannot say unequivocally, but I can tell you it is how it is.

It is how we are.

Which makes me think again about the teachings in Isaiah 43:10 (ESV) –  “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen…”

Not just those who travel to foreign lands or those who go door-to-door or those who engage in street evangelism – all Christians are witnesses.  Everyday, everywhere, all the time we are the Lord’s witnesses.

Many think of witnessing as something you do.  We equate it with certain acts and behaviors like passing out tracts, sharing testimonies during street revivals, ringing doorbells or praying the sinner’s prayer with someone after sharing an outline of faith.

But the truth is that we are witnesses all the time.  And note that Acts 1:8 says, “You shall be witnesses…” not You shall do witnessing.

So like it or not, you are a witness.

What kind of witness are you?

I once heard a minister say, “Your witness is only as good as your personal relationship with Jesus and the extent to which you submit to the power of His Holy Spirit allowing Him to work in and through you.”

What does it look like you are selling?  When people see you, are they drawn to Christ or do they turn the other way?

People are watching.  We are making impressions, and they are evaluating.  What kind of witness are you?

THIS WEEK reflect on your witness.  How are you presenting God’s truth?  Remembering that we eat with our eyes, consider first your appearance –  not just your dress or hairstyle, but how you carry yourself, your speech and your actions because, indeed, people will struggle to hear what you say when they are focused on watching what you are doing.  What might you need to change?  Is there something you need to stop doing (gossiping, telling off color jokes, lying, hanging out with a certain crowd…).  Is there something you need to begin doing (speaking truth in love, being on time for work, being more quiet, spending more time alone or with a different crowd…).  Pray that God’s Holy Spirit will whisper to you revealing actions you need to take to strengthen your witness.  Pray that the Holy Spirit opens your ears and your heart to hear, receive and act swiftly upon what He tells you.


Leave a comment

Cleaning House

My parents were Neatniks – especially when it came to housekeeping.  Saturday mornings began with my dad inspecting our closets, our drawers and under our beds.  Everything had better be hanging (and in order) or folded (and sorted into the right drawer).  And, in his words, “There shouldn’t be anything under your bed except the floor!”  If just one piece was found not properly folded or in the wrong drawer, he dumped the entire contents of the drawer into the center of the bed and you folded everything again.  Sometimes he would “help,” but I really think that was more about keeping an eye out to make sure the work was done to his satisfaction.  Seems to reason that I soon learned to be organized.

My maternal grandmother was likewise organized and one of my aunts was fanatically neat.  Following in their footsteps (and fearing my dad would appear out of nowhere with a dust mop or broom in hand), I became a super neat housekeeper.  But I didn’t last.

It’s not that I have become a slob (those who know otherwise, Shhh), but I just shifted priorities along the way and determined a level of neatness and a level of messiness that I can live with.  I also learned some secrets to making your house appear cleaner than it really is when guests visit.  My mother told me to buy lower wattage light bulbs and to use lamps instead of overhead light.  A friend told me to boil a little cinnamon and water on the stovetop – you get that “fresh baked goods” aroma.  A colleague taught me to drag the edge of a book across the carpet to simulate vacuum cleaner marks and to keep an empty basket available for collecting miscellaneous small items like magazines and phone chargers then all the items can easily be stashed inside a closet or (forgive me Daddy) under the bed.  And finally, someone told me that you don’t let guests stay longer than 30 minutes because the longer they stay, the more they notice.

Isn’t this just what some people do with their lives?  They clean up the outside and focus on outward appearances.  Or they know secrets to making their lives look clean.  A lot of stuff (sin) gets swept under rugs, stashed in closets and stored under beds.  But we read in 1 Samuel 16 that the Lord looks at the heart.  It does no good to “look like” a Christian or even to “act like” a Christian if the heart is not clean.  Consider the cries of the psalmist, first in Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” and then in Psalm 51:7 (KJV) – “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Your Heavenly Father will, just as my earthly father did, show you the places in your life that need cleaning. He will also help you, washing you whiter than snow.