Asbury United Methodist Church
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April 5, 2018

Today I feel the need to revisit a quote by Abraham Lincoln that I cited yesterday.

          Lincoln said, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, because God is always right!”

          Sadly, I feel that much of the time we’re oblivious to this concept…of being on God’s side.  What does living on God’s side look like?  It means that we understand that our greatest good is always aligned with the greatest good of others.

          Yesterday, I cited the Aramaic word DINA.  DINA means balance.

          God created the cosmos to have balance so that the planets circumnavigate the stars in proper order and alignment and do not bang into each other.

          When we live out of balance, we collide with others on a far too regular basis.  Living this way is destructive.  It harms much of what we touch.

           Often, I have heard others say, “Well, this is just the way I am!  This is just my nature!  This is how I am wired!”

          Sometimes the very person I have heard say these things is me!  And, I am here to tell you that these responses will not do…for me…for you!

          I don’t care how we are wired, God can lead us out of destructive thoughts and behavior.  We just need to work it!

          Years ago, I had a big desire to run in the Charlotte Observer Marathon.  But, all I did was sit around talking about it.

          I never got around to training for the marathon.  But, I did have some great intentions.

          I downloaded a training schedule off the Internet that would give me three months to gear up for that big day!  I read tons of articles!

          But, as great as it was that I had inner conviction, I never did anything about it!  Can you imagine what would have happened if I had showed up on that big day and participated in the marathon anyway?

          I am quite sure I would never have finished the race!  I am also quite sure that I would have done incredible harm to my body; and, I could have collided with others!

          Who knows the damage I could have done if I had chosen to run a marathon without doing the work.  Yet, often we run the race of life without a thought of preparation, training, order or direction.

          Much of the time, we collide with every step that we take.  In the process, our souls and bodies take a beating.

          “Well, this is just the way I am!”  “This is just how I am wired!”

          These attitudes are out of balance and out of harmony with God’s vision for our lives.  The path from these statements leads to frustration, low self-esteem, being overly defensive and ultimately to deep guilt.

          And, guilt is a terrible motivator.  Guilt can be debilitating. 

          Furthermore, conviction without action leads to uncontrollable anger.  “Well, this is just the way I am!”  “This is just how I am wired!” 

          These are statements of self-loathing!

          I am again reminded of the Prodigal Son:

          “He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So, he got up and went to his father (Luke 15:16-20 NIV).’”

          To put a blunt point on this, the son came out of the pigpen.  What if…what if he had simply stated, “Well, this is just how I am?  This is how I am wired!” 

          He would have remained in that pigpen forever!  He would never have experienced the grace that the father had awaiting for him.

          Good intentions and strong convictions have their place!  But, they are wasted if we never get around to leaving the pigpen.

          And, a pigpen can be any stance or lifestyle that is out of harmony with God’s vision and God’s systems of doing things.  God is always right!

Our pigpens can be varied and colorful.  We’ll notice them most whenever our actions are out of balance with our hearts.

We will also notice that we collide far too regularly.  It can feel as if we are banging into everything.

We must remember that God’s universe, God’s laws, God’s systems of doing things are self-correcting; and, if we live out of harmony, it will cause us nothing but discomfort.

As a caveat, it pays to understand that our pigpens can do actual damage to our hearts!  The American Heart Association says so anyway!

In a USA Today article, The American Heart Association stated, “Examine your values and live by them.  The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better you will feel.”

The good news is that we do not have to stay in that place called Far Away.  But, what we must do is see is that our good intentions and our convictions are invitations for growth.

We do not have to take the whole staircase today!  But all of us have the power to stick our pinky toes into the water.

Jesus tells us the parable of the mustard seed, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20 NIV).”

Today is a good day to act upon those inner convictions.  I can see no downside!



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