It is What it is

Have you heard the phrase “first world problems?”  It refers to the fact that in first world or affluent countries where we have nothing of any real urgency to worry about, we can still find things to complain about.

It’s really quite true. In comparison to the conditions the rest of the world has to face every day, our “first world problems” are of no consequence.

Your car has a flat tire and you have to get a ride to work.

Your electric bill goes up $20 a month.

Your dishwasher breaks down.

You’re having a bad hair day.

All first world problems.

Can you even imagine that someone is Sudan or Syria or __________(fill in the blank with another country who is experiencing war or famine or some other national crisis) could be worried about any of those issues I just listed? Absurd.

And yet we get overwhelmed by these and other relatively insignificant issues every day. We get bogged down by worry about things that are not life and death. We are quick to feel like life is out of control if too many of these things happen at the same time.

I’ve learned a new way to view the first world problems that I face and that’s to say “It is what it is.” Then I proceed to consider my options in dealing with each of the issues as they present themselves.

This past week I’ve had to deal with a fourth week of back pain stemming for an injury that isn’t healing as fast as I would like. I also learned that one of my sons has been diagnosed with diabetes. In addition to those things, I also had to deal with the trauma  of three of my sons being involved in a car accident. Thankfully, they only experienced some bumps and bruises.

I could feel life was closing in on me as these experiences piled up. I could have just given in and allowed myself to shut down and refused to go on. But instead, I chose to engage my secret weapon. I chose to say,” this is my life today. It is what it is. What am I going to do with it?”

What’s going on in your life today? Are you feeling overwhelmed?

Take a fresh approach.  Look at your life.

It is what it is.

What are you going to do with it?

Who Invented Music?

IMG_0277smallI read an interesting article that reminds me how pompous we humans can be. The article was discussing why humans invented music.

What?

I’m serious. It was a complete discourse on why early humans felt the need to invent music.  And then there was the article that talked about whether humans invented music or just discovered it and that it really was a part of evolution as we became more intelligent and found a need for entertainment and community.

Really?

The Bible speaks of music in Genesis. It talks about how Jubal was the father of all who played the harp and flute (Gen. 4:20) Isn’t it interesting that we use the words jubilation and jubilee to talk about joyous celebration?

The Psalms are full of instructions to sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord.  Singing and making music is a way for us to show our thankfulness to our Lord for all He’s done for us. And in the stories of David and Saul, God showed us that music is also good for our health, both mental and physical. Scientific studies confirm that singing and listening to music reduces stress and makes us healthier. Imagine that!

But just to set the record straight about who in fact invented music, we need only to go to Zephaniah 3:17 to see that the invention of music belongs to God alone.

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.  

God sings over us. He rejoices with loud singing. I guess that settles who invented music. But don’t miss the incredible point here.

Have you ever had anyone sing over you? Have you ever felt the desire to sing over someone else? God has. He is so full of joy when He thinks about you that He can’t contain His joy and He bursts into song. That makes me want to sing!

Psalm 104:33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

Psalm 95:1-2 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

 

Me and My Shadow

shadowsIMG_3802

When my older boys were hitting their teen years, we helped them find opportunities to shadow some men in the workplace. The purpose was for them to get an idea what it was like to work in each career field. They spent the whole day following the man around like a shadow.

Have you ever considered your shadow? What does your shadow look like? It looks like you! It is the silhouette of your body as it appears in front of the sun or another bright light. Your shadow moves and acts exactly as you do.

So consider for a moment that someone approaches you and asks you if they can shadow you for a whole day to see what your life is about. Much like a career shadow, they would follow you around watching your actions. Watching how you interact with others. Watching how you make decisions. They would see how you handle stress, what choices you make regarding your health, and perhaps how you handle your money.

As a Christ-follower, you are made in His image. You are supposed to reflect His character. So your shadow should look a little like Him, don’t you think?

So, the question is: If someone followed you around all day, would they know, without you telling them, that you have asked Jesus Christ to be Lord of your life? Could they tell from your actions that He is the most important person in your life? Could they tell by your interaction with others, that you exhibit His compassion for those you come in contact with every day?

Throughout the Bible there are examples of foreshadowing. What that means is that something is just a glimpse of what’s to come but not the real thing. Many times there are instances of foreshadowing that hint at the coming of Christ and what He will be like.

If we were to shadow Jesus, we’d know exactly who we were following. If others shadow us, who would they see? Do we look more like Jesus or more like everybody else?

1 John 2:6 Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Who’s in Charge Here?

Have you ever been involved in a large event and things seem to be out of control? One of the first things you might hear from a frustrated participant is, “Who’s in charge?”

Why would it matter who’s in charge?  Because it is assumed, or at least hoped, that the person in charge can fix the mess. Solve the problem. Straighten out the chaos.

And what happens when someone who is not in charge tries to step in and take over thinking they can fix things? They have no idea what planning occurred or what foresight was used to make the decisions that were a part of the planning. They can’t know the all the goals or the reasons certain actions were chosen and others rejected. Things can go from bad to worse very quickly.

And yet, we do this with our lives. We are the ones who step in and assume that when things are going a little different than we expected or when things are flat out a total mess, we have all the answers.

We don’t.

God says in His word that man makes the plans but God directs his steps. God is the one in charge. He is the one we should go to when things aren’t going well. It’s a mistake to step in and try to take things into our own hands. That goes for our own lives as well as other people’s lives. God’s in charge in both places. No matter how it looks.

Proverbs 19:21 Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.

Psalm 22:28 For the kingdom is the LORD’S And He rules over the nations.

Humility or Humiliation?

What’s the difference between humility and humiliation?  In a word – pride.

There are many things that happen to us in our lives. Things that make us feel embarrassed or defensive. It’s interesting to see someone react with humility. It’s refreshing to see the calm peaceful response. How do they do it?

The secret is that they have put aside their pride. They react with humility because they have allowed God to be their source of strength.

If we usually feel humiliated and offended when something negative happens it may be time to examine our hearts. Are we allowing pride to stand in the way of God’s instruction? And are we willing to set aside our own need to be right so that God may work in the situation? Or do we see each situation as a personal attack? To react with humility means to look at a negative situation and ask what God would have us learn from it instead of dwelling on how to get out of it without looking bad.

The scripture is very clear about what God thinks about being prideful.

Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”