Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Are You Powerful Enough to be Ordinary?

Our culture is captivated by superheroes. From Gotham City to Metropolis, from Earth to Asgard, movie producers seem to be cranking out superhero films in record numbers. Of course, the thrill doesn't come from snug-fitting tights or even flying body armor. Story-tellers realize that, when a tale is presented well, the reader (or viewer) "becomes" the hero of the story. So to a degree, superhero flicks propel regular people from humdrum lives into roles where they can outwit, overpower, and vanquish the bad guys. (Another plus--superheroes tend to be physically attractive and rarely have trouble with their weight!)

A lot could be said about positive role models who fight for truth and justice, who stick up for the underdog and save the day. But let's get back to the real world. What does God require of His people? To be super smart? To possessive stellar martial-arts ability? To flaunt movie star good looks?

Not even close. You see, God takes delight in picking up ordinary men and women who know Him and using them as tools as He works in this world. Consider the backgrounds of Jesus' hand-picked disciples. They included fishermen. A tax collector (think IRS agent). Not exactly professions that made observers ooh and ahh. They were just regular guys, yet God used them to change the world.

Recall what the Bible says about the Jewish rulers in Acts 4:13:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

That's our distinctiveness. To know Jesus and to use the new life He offers to live in a godly way for God.

Muscles aren't bad, but if you've got them and you're a believer, give God the glory for your good health and strength. Same for good looks; if you've got them, no need to be stuck up about it. Rather than relishing compliments, praise the Lord and glorify Him rather than self. Do you have the intellect of Mr. Fantastic or Tony Stark? Then thank God for giving you a good mind, then use it for Him.

The point is, most of us are fairly ordinary, but that doesn't mean we're unimportant. All around the planet, God is using ordinary people to be salt and light in this world. Those countless Sunday school teachers who instill Bible truths every week? They might be ordinary, but God uses them. Pastors of churches in "small" or "unimportant" places are as much tools in the Almighty's hand as leaders of megachurches. Maybe you're a Christian plumber, truck driver, insurance agent, construction worker, factor worker, office assistant, a writer, or...? Chances are, you can't fly or deflect bullets. But God wants to use you right where you are to be a source of light and encouragement to the circle of people you know. Are you willing to let His light shine through you?

Never lament being "ordinary." The fact is, if you believed you were truly extraordinary, then you'd probably be too puffed up with self to be any real good to God or others!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Who Ratted on Moses?

Although the Bible records a multitude of historical incidents, often it relates only the main details, leaving us to wonder, how, when, where, or why certain events happened. For example:

In Exodus 2, we read how Pharaoh's daughter adopted Moses, the Hebrew child whom she found crying inside a miniature ark floating among the reeds along the Nile. Later, when Moses was an adult, he spotted an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew man. We don't know whether this Egyptian was notorious for his cruelty, or whether on this particular occasion he was on the verge of beating the Hebrew to death, but the sight sparked a reaction inside Moses. After glancing around and seeing no witnesses, Moses charged to the aid of the Hebrew and ended up killing the Egyptian in the process.

The Scripture doesn't tell whether Moses actually intended to the kill the man, but it happened. Not knowing what else to do, Moses buried the body in the sand. After all, even the adopted son of Pharaoh's own daughter had no right to kill. However, the very next day Moses learned that at least one other Hebrew man knew what he did. The verse after that one states, "Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses." So Moses fled from Egypt.

So the question arises, "Who ratted on Moses?" Did the man whom Moses saved tell the story, which then spread among the Hebrews? Or perhaps there was a witness that Moses had not spotted? Even if so, how did Pharaoh find out? It's inconceivable that mighty Pharaoh happened to be chatting with a group of slaves around the water cooler when one of them blurted, "Hey, did you hear what your grandson did?" The Bible doesn't say.

Of course, the slain taskmaster must have had friends, family, and neighbors. His absence would be noticed. When it became clear that he'd fallen victim to foul play, who would the Egyptians accuse first, but the very Hebrews that taskmaster oversaw at the jobsite? In that case, it's not hard to imagine the Hebrews, desperate to avoid punishment, crying, "We're innocent. It was one of your people, the one called Moses killed him!" Regardless of who blabbed, Pharaoh was outraged, and Moses fled.

From a human standpoint, these events might seem an unfortunate turn of events in Moses' life. God had planned to use him to aid the oppressed children of Israel in Egypt. If Moses hadn't decided to intervene, the taskmaster would have remained alive, and Moses wouldn't have "wasted" 40 years watching his father-in-law's flocks. At least, so we might reason. Yet, God's thoughts are higher than man's thoughts and His ways above our ways. It may be that Moses had some rough edges that needed filing off before he was suitable to lead his countrymen out of Egypt. Had his education and training as Pharaoh's grandson filled him with pride? Or was it essential for him to master survival in the uncivilized wilderness? We can't answer every "Why?" But when God sent Moses back to Egypt, this man was clearly not trusting in his own cleverness, persuasive words, or intellect.

Friend, in your life there will probably be events that you consider unhappy, maybe even tragic. You might question why God allowed them. Yet, if you know the Lord--if you're one of His people by faith in Jesus Christ--you can rest confident that He remembers you and loves you. The eternity He has in store for you will outshine any hardships endured in this earthly life. Trust Him!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Get Back to the Throughline of Your Life

Creative souls who write novels or screenplays sometimes get lost in their plots and subplots. The way out of the mess is to return to the Throughline--the driving force of the story.

"So what?" you may ask. "I'm not a writer."

Maybe not. But even non-creative souls have a story--a life--that continues to be written every day. And just like written works, lives develop subplots and tangents: friendships, family relationships, dreams, hobbies, pastimes, vacations, careers, entertainment.... In fact, it's possible for your life to become cluttered with so many tangents that you get lost in a morass of detours and dead ends that leave you frustrated or confused. When that happens, what should you do?

The answer is simple. You get back to your Throughline. In this universe of ours, your Throughline is God, and the relationship He wants to have with you. He is the Author of this world, and the Creator of your soul. Although temptations and time-wasters may entice you to fritter away your life in vain pursuits, by living your life with God, you automatically return to your Throughline, your purpose for being here. God's Word says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

No, living in relationship with God doesn't mean you can't have hobbies or engage in sports. It doesn't demand that you give away all you own and become a missionary in some faraway jungle. Living for God doesn't even guarantee that your life will be free of troubles, for He uses troubles to build our faith and trust in Him. But by keeping your eyes on the Lord, you can bypass the pitfalls and detours that cause so many to stumble and lose their way in this world.

Not sure how to begin walking with God? I'd be happy to share about that!