Tag Archives: 1 Peter

While God Warms our Bottle

8 Mar

Recently I was engaged in conversation with a young Methodist pastor two months after his wife had given birth to a beautiful little girl. Lupe was relating how God was teaching and growing him through this totally dependent and adorable creation. He and Kelsey named their daughter Adarah, which is a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful.”

Adarah lets her hunger be known in no uncertain terms. Daddy hears and understands, but it’s necessary to first warm the bottle before satisfying her needs. Meanwhile, Adarah gets more frustrated and frantic. What a beautiful picture of God and His children. He hears and understands, but first God makes sure the bottle is warm. We doubt His goodness and believe He ignores our frantic pleas. We want satisfaction now. We worry and fret because we can’t see or understand how our problem will be solved. God has a solution.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7 NLT).

As time passes, if caregivers are consistent and loving, babies learn that their needs will be filled. They also learn to eat solid foods. Toddlers express preferences and gradually mealtime can become fun or it can become an ever increasing power struggle. So much depends on the patience and nurture of the parent as well as the health of the child.

Our heavenly Father is always loving and patient because that is His nature. However, as His children we aren’t always patient or healthy—emotionally, spiritually, or even physically. We don’t grow up. We fail to thrive. The writer to the Hebrew speaks to this age-old problem.

“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right” (Hebrews 5:12–13 NLT).

God knows our needs and takes us where we are. In the beginning we need milk.

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into God salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2–3 NRSV).

He wants us trust His goodness and love. He wants what’s best for us. He alone knows the future and His timing is perfect. He offers solid food through Scripture, friends, books, sermons, and even blogs.

Choose to grow.

Remember He’s warming the milk.

Trust Him.

Can I Get By with This?

8 Nov

Confession time: I customarily drive about three miles over the speed limit. I had a highway patrolman friend tell me they usually let drivers get by with driving 3-4 miles over the limit. Then our state raised the speed limit to 75. Cars traveling at least 85 mph often pass me and they usually get by with it.

Have we become a people who merely try to get by? Can I be one or two minutes late without upsetting my boss? If three minutes goes unnoticed, why not ten minutes late? If a subcontractor makes a mistake, does he correct it or leave it, knowing that “it will cover?” There are many opportunities for getting by—mop the center of a floor and skip the corners, inflate billable hours, scarcely study for a test, text instead of supervise the kids you babysit, and more.

Let Scripture guide our work ethic. “ Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23–24 NRSV). When we think we’re getting by, we’re really cheating ourselves of the reward God has planned for us.

But there’s a flip side to getting by—we’re not giving God His due. The quality of our work reflects on Christ. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NRSV). It’s crazy to think that my service could bring glory to God, but that’s what it says.

We have only One employer, One audience, One supervisor. It’s unrealistic to believe we can do all things well, much less, that we can do anything we set our minds to. However, whatever we find to do, we must do it for our Lord, Jesus Christ. We do our best because He is the best.

Not everyone will understand, appreciate, or even approve our attitudes and actions. Sometimes we’ll be blamed and criticized unfairly. That has to be secondary to pleasing God. “Live such good lives among [unbelievers] that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12 NIV).

Christ followers aren’t to do just enough to get by. “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” (Matthew 5:40–41 NIV). I haven’t always lived up to this standard, but it remains my goal and gets easier as I age. I don’t want to get by; I want to make a difference. How about you?

“Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever” (1 Peter 4:11 NRSV).

Worry

2 Aug

I sat cross-legged on the bed in our inexpensive motel room, midway into our 900-mile trek. Our destination was the university where George hoped to get his doctorate. All our possessions were stacked in the rental truck and stuffed into the towed Datsun station wagon. Two dogs and a ferret occupied boxes in the back of our aging van, which pulled the boat. (“The Grapes of Wrath” comes to mind.) The university hadn’t yet accepted George into the doctoral program; neither house nor jobs waited. I read Matthew 6:19-34, which concluded with these words.

[Jesus said,] “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ . . . for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:31–34 NASB95).

I wrote in the margin, “Does this mean tuition, books, gas?”

I’ve heard the definition for worry is assuming responsibility God never intended us to have. Perhaps the key is distinguishing between God’s responsibility and mine. The passage above says our part is to seek God first. God knows us and adds to our life all necessary things.

Yet that’s an incomplete picture. Second Thessalonians 3:10b says, “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (NRSV). George and I worked extremely hard—maybe too hard. Remember how Martha worked as Mary sat at Christ’s feet? Jesus told her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41–42 NRSV).

Ultimately, God is our greatest need.

Still, we spend time worrying about so many things; most never happen. I realize we have legitimate concerns and God is not our fairy godmother. However, worry changes nothing. I’ve learned to do all I know to do and leave the results to God. We can trust His love and intimate knowledge of our needs. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT).

Paul said, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have” (Philippians 4:11 NRSV). That gives me hope. Replacing worry with contentment is something I can learn. The three years it took George to get his doctorate taught us remarkable lessons in contentment versus worry and faith versus fear.

Several years after my encounter with Matthew 6, I wrote the answer to my own question. “Yes— tuition, books, gas and so much more!” In spite of discouragement and fear, God provided material needs, emotional support, spiritual strength, and encouragement—always in His time. Life is continually a matter of praying, trusting, and waiting.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 NRSV).

Relationship Repair

15 Jun

The question is not if a relationship will need repair, but when will a relationship need repair. Only superficial acquaintances avoid conflict. We can stick to subjects such as food or fashion, golf or fishing, and never have a cross word. However, if we want to go deeper than the weather, we’ll eventually find points of conflict.

We grow up with rules, spoken and spoken, in our family of origin. There are certain topics we don’t discuss, certain emotions we don’t express, and secrets we don’t acknowledge. We may think, “If you love me, you’ll never make me feel guilty. That was my father’s favorite weapon.” Then when a mate or friend has a legitimate complaint about the relationship, we feel betrayed, unloved, and angry.

The same is true of unspoken expectations. Many couples have told me, “If he/she loved me, he/she would know what I need. If I have to ask, it seems forced and artificial. What’s the point?” Asking for what we need is an important skill anyone can learn.

A healthy relationship is based on love, trust, and growth. It will offer honesty, compassion, forgiveness, respect, and mutual responsibility for maintaining the relationship. If one person walks on eggshells and the other feels free to explode in anger, the relationship may not survive.

How then can we quickly repair relationships? Repair depends on the level of offense or pain. The “secret” is our attitude. First, we can simply overlook some things, realizing fatigue, stress, or even low blood sugar can make us grouchy. Maybe it’s not that important. Love and let it go.

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 quoting Prov. 10:12 NKJV).

Second, the issue or offense is irritating and important but not deeply meaningful. However, it could become a more serious problem if we don’t address it. It’s time for a simple to understand, but difficult to practice skill: The I Message. I’ve taught elementary students to use this simple, formula to express needs.

I FEEL (Use specific words to describe emotions: angry, confused, disappointed, attacked).
WHEN (Describe the upsetting behavior without character assassination or blame).
I NEED (a response from you, help with, a different tone of voice, eye contact. Be specific), please.

In a usually positive relationship, intimacy increases when we’re able to express our needs and feel heard and respected. Once again, attitude is key.
“Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15NIV).

A third category is serious, painful, and threatens the relationship if ignored. It may be a flaw in the other person or touch a deeply held belief or fear resulting from a previous relationship or family of origin. This response is best thought out and, if possible, prepared in advance. Examine the source of such a powerful response and be ready to explain it. Then without blame, express your feelings, what the issue represents, and ask for compassion and understanding. The greatest success comes when both parties accept responsibility for their part and value the relationship.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3–4 NASB95).

With God’s help, we can repair relationships quickly.

Please share comments, questions, and/or how these tips worked for you. You can encourage and bless others with your response.