What Comes from Within

Standard

I am learning that one of the joys of being a diabetic is having ones blood tested every three months. Spent a small portion of my day, yesterday, having blood drawn and meeting with my doctor. The tests showed a dramatic improvement in my glucose levels, which made the doctor happy. He told me that he thinks that I should be able to kick this diabetes diagnosis to the curb.

Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

But let me tell you, the holidays were tough! I had to be more vigilant than normal about what I was putting into my body. There were some days that I didn’t do the best of jobs; but more days than not, I succeeded.

Has me thinking about something I taught on this past Sunday, in Mark 7 (bolded emphasis mine):

14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”   17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. 18“Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? 19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)   20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

Before this passage, the Pharisees are arguing over the tradition of hand washing before eating. Jesus calls them out on using man-made law as an excuse to ignore God’s law:

6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,   ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’   8 For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”   9 Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. 10 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 12 In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. 13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
One of the greatest games ever created. No joke.

But what I want to go back and focus on verses 22-23:

20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you.21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

Unlike diabetes, which is all about what one puts inside them, the Bible talks about what comes from inside being the problem. We can feed this problem through what we consume on a day-to-day basis through:

  • The books we read
  • The games we play (excluding Ice Ball above)
  • The movies/television we watch/stream/consume
  • Even through our daily bad habits we’ve picked up–I see you picking your nose!–.

All of these, as with the sugar I am fighting against putting into my body, can act against our souls in unhealthy ways. Diabetes is teaching me that I can give up/avoid certain foods. That I don’t have to have a Vanilla Coke, 2-3 times a week, in order to stay awake/just enjoy/fend off headaches. We get to where we think that we have to have certain things. That we have to watch a certain series or play a certain game so that we are on top of what is going on culturally. The fact is, some of the things that we consume hurt us… and God calls us to let those things go.

We are our own worst enemies. I am thankful that I do not have to operate on my own strength. That I serve and love a God who gives me discernment, wisdom, and the ability to know when my self control has failed and I just need to flat out run/get away from whatever it is.

Be Excellent – Listen

Standard

Woke up this morning and laid in bed for awhile. Peace.

Got out of bed, grabbed my phone, and I started scrolling through twitter.

A Southern California pastor dying of suicide filled my feed. As well as discussions on:

  • Checking on friends
  • Listening
  • Anxiety and depression

Being greeted by a brother in Christ’s suicide, first thing in the morning, just sucks. But I can’t imagine what his wife and children are feeling.

A few years ago, over a lunch with a pastor, I confessed that I wasn’t doing well. My depression was trying to drown me, and I admitted it out loud. The pastor half listened and eventually changed subjects/blew me off. He had no clue how close I felt to doing something… and yet he didn’t care either. There was never any follow up. Nothing. I cringed when I heard friends were going to talk to him. Afraid of the damage his lack of pastoral care could bring about.

I get that we are not all gifted in all things. But I do think we all have the capacity to listen and empathize.

Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

Bill and Ted have said it best:

“Be excellent to each other.”

Listening and empathy are but a level of excellence worth fighting for. I’m not sure where you are today; not sure what side of the bed you woke up on. I want to encourage you to find someone trustworthy who will listen before/after things get bad, someone who practices what Bill and Ted preached. Be excellent.

Quiet Wisdom – Looking Forward

Standard

Photo by Joshua Allwood on Unsplash

I was having a rough time teaching Sunday school this past week. One of those times where I felt like a stranger in a group I’ve known 10+ years. The path of faith felt heavy, I was tired. In the midst of me fumbling through a lesson, one of the guys, who doesn’t talk too much, spoke up. He said (and I paraphrase):

As a high school coach, football practice has started back up. With the heat, no one wants to be there. He said as he watches the guys run down the field, he watches their heads, where they are looking. Many of the guys look around, making sure that they are keeping pace with others… instead of giving their all and running.

He said that we all do that as Christians. We focus too much on others, comparing, instead of looking forward and running the race.

And with that, God slapped me upside the head.

Are you looking forward or looking around?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. – Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)