Copyright 2015 AC Williams LLC

Don’t be afraid of commitment

While I was camping in the wilds of Colorado last week, I woke up in the middle of the night and had to go to the bathroom. At home, it’s pretty easy to get out of bed, tromp downstairs to our 100-year-old home’s single bathroom, and then return to bed. But when you’re camping?

First, it was freezing. Either low 40s or high 30s, so I had lots of layers on, and lots of layers always make it more complicated to navigate when you’re bundled up inside a sleeping bag. But I didn’t just have my sleeping bag. I also had a gigantic fluffy TARDIS blanket that I’d cuddled up with inside my sleeping bag because even with all my layers on, I was still freezing. Second, once I managed to get out of the sleeping bag, I had to put my shoes on, unzip the first layer of my tent, unzip the second layer of my tent, and get up off the ground. I needed my flashlight too and my extra sweatshirt. Once all that was accomplished, I still needed to hike then 1/8th of a mile (or so) to the vault toilets.

That was just to get there. Getting back into the sleeping back took just as much work. The lesson I learned? No matter what you’re doing when you’re camping, whether it’s sleeping or cooking or walking or even getting up at night, it takes commitment, because everything you do takes 10 times the work.

Copyright 2015 AC Williams LLC

My tent set up at Happy Meadows Campground, west of Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Colossians 3:23-24.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

Our world today is scared of the word commitment. Granted, it is a scary word and an even scarier concept–to be devoted to a principle or an ideal or a person or a company. It takes a lot of trust and a lot of forgiveness sometimes, and it takes a lot of work. A lot of work.

Being committed to something, person or object, requires that you care about it more than you care about yourself and your personal ambitions. Being committed means that you’re not selfish. When you’re willing to go all in for someone or something, it means that no matter the cost, you’ll do what’s necessary.

It’s important to do what God says matters, but there isn’t really a Bible verse that says what job you should work or what career you should pursue or what college degree you should get. God’s given us each our own skill sets and dreams and desires, so we each need to do what we think He’s calling us to do as individuals. The end goal just should be to glorify Him in all that we do.

See that word? Whatever? Whatever you do, do it like you’re working for God. Whether it’s work or church or family or friends, whether it’s your relationship with your parents or your kids or your spouse, whatever you’re doing today, do it the way God says is right. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you. Maybe you think it will open you up to ridicule or make you a target. But if God says it’s right, do it. It doesn’t matter what people say.

That’s what being committed means. You do it even if it isn’t fun. You do it even if it means more work for you. It’s not about what you’ll get out of it. It’s about how much glory you can give God before, during, and afterward, trusting that the reward God will bestow is worth far much more than anything you can earn down here.

God’s looking for people who will do what He asks. You can ask questions. You can have doubts. Just don’t give up. Don’t let the amount of work facing you convince you that it won’t be worth it. God makes everything worth it.

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Let’s get to work while we still have time

When I’m really busy or loaded down with deadlines, my default is to stop working and play. The more I have to do, the more I want to do nothing. I’m not sure what that is or where it comes from, but it’s one of the weaknesses I’ve noticed about myself. And it’s a pain in the butt.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to do. And the things I’m doing are important. I’m following Jesus with everything I have, writing for Him, working for Him, loving people for Him, trying to live according to His Word. In the end, it doesn’t matter what I feel like doing. It comes down to what I am doing and what I haven’t done.

time-watch-hands-of-a-clock-clock-pointersToday’s verses are Romans 13:11-12.

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.

There’s not a lot of time left. I’m not sure how many people are willing to accept that, but the world is getting darker by the moment. If you’re a Christ-follower, you can’t ignore that fact. The longer the world goes on in this state, the more trouble we get into.

This world and our lives here won’t last forever, and it’s becoming more and more obvious that our time is running out. We have a limited span of time to be here before God calls us home, and in the big picture of eternity, our handful of decades on Earth isn’t very long. But God gave it to us for a reason.

You can do a lot in 70 years. Heck, you can do accomplish a lot in 32 years, if you’re willing to work hard and do what God says is right. But it’s not easy. And you run into those days where you don’t want to do anything, where life just feels like you’re running in circles, like you aren’t actually accomplishing anything.

And maybe you’re not. Maybe you really are spinning your wheels, and if that’s the case, you need to stop and think about your situation. Are you really doing what God has called you to do? Or are you just staying put because that’s where you’re comfortable?

Our time here is running out, and God put us on this Earth to work for Him. I know it’s frustrating to be so busy you can’t keep your head above water, but that’s where priorities come into play. That’s where we need to start making the hard choices that will allow us to do the things that matter and let the things that don’t slip away.

What has God called you to do in your life? Are you doing it? If you aren’t, why not?

There’s nothing wrong with resting. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break. We all need it from time to time, and it’s important that we take the time we need to recover when we’re tired. But don’t stay there. Don’t keep sitting when you need to be moving. Don’t keep resting when you need to get back to work. We all have jobs to do.

The sunlight is nearly gone, and soon it’ll be too dark to work. So let’s get busy about God’s work now, while we still have the time.

Softening a hard heart is like rewiring a finished house

My parents have started watching this television show about home inspections. It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about, honestly. But then, I’ve never purchased a home. This show is interesting because 80-90% of the issues these home inspectors have to fix stem from one recurring problem: The builders did it wrong first.

If the builders had built the house to code or laid the foundation correctly or repaired electrical or plumbing problems the right way, the homeowners wouldn’t be having trouble. And no one would have to come along behind them to fix everything that’s wrong.

And, let’s face it, it takes 10 times more effort to go back and fix a problem afterward than it does to do it right the first time.

626111_35347132Today’s verses are Colossians 3:23-24.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused on what you have to do. It’s so much more fun to do the things you want to do, but life isn’t always fun. And it’s not always supposed to be.

If you’re a follower of Christ, you’ve been entrusted with a lot of responsibility, and not just in your day job but in your daily life as well. Part of that responsibility is living your life in a way that demonstrates God’s grace and Jesus’ love to the people around you–especially those people who you don’t particularly like. The other part of that responsibility is being a good employee.

Whatever you do, whether you’re a doctor or a lawyer or a chef or an engineer or a stay-at-home mom or a writer (aka a glutton for punishment), you are responsible to do the best you can. And, no, you’re not supposed to do the best you can for the sake of your career or the sake of your boss or the sake of your coworkers. You’re supposed to do the best you can for God Himself.

Maybe your boss signs your paychecks. But all authority comes from God. If you’re a Christ-follower, your first authority is God. You do what He says first before anyone else, and if He says to serve your boss to the best of your ability, that’s why you do it.

What if that boss is hard to get along with? What if that coworker is impossible? What if that job has just become so exhausting and so tedious and so frustrating that you just can’t stand it for one more day?

You have to be willing to work. Period. Laziness doesn’t belong in a Christ-follower’s life. (Please don’t mistake rest for being lazy. That’s another blog post, but believe me when I say they aren’t the same thing.) You have to work. Everyone has to work. God has given us dreams and goals and gifts and abilities and talents that are unique to who we are as people, and we need to be willing to work to achieve them. Because if we’re willing to work and if our hearts are focused on keeping in step with the Lord, He will work events in our lives out to give us the desires of our heart. But it doesn’t just happen. You don’t get rewarded just for sitting on your blessed assurance and expecting a miracle.

At the same time, there has to be a line in the sand somewhere. In my life, God has often used exhaustion and frustration to show me that it’s time for a change. But that’s a choice you have to make personally.

If your situation is so exhausting, so frustrating, so irritating that you can’t stand it anymore–move. Step out. Step back. Change your situation. Make the choice to move on.

If you can stand it, stay. And stop complaining. Because the more you complain about your situation, the more difficult it becomes to work with a willing heart. And if you can’t work with a willing heart for the Lord’s sake, you’re going to start forfeiting blessings.

And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to do that.

So if the job is tough, power through it. But don’t do it haphazardly. Do it right. Build your foundation solid. Do the job the way it’s supposed to be done, without cutting corners or taking shortcuts. Do it because God has told you to do it.

Just be sure to keep your heart soft. Be willing to work, and be willing to work for the right reason. And if you can’t, you might seriously need to take a long, hard look at your life. Because if your heart is hardened, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of effort to break it open again.  Sort of like trying to rewire a finished house because it wasn’t done right the first time.

Wheat ready for harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Get off the couch

I have a long list of things I enjoy that are complete time wasters. They don’t really accomplish anything, but I do enjoy doing them. Sleeping. Reading. Watching movies. Surfing Youtube. Daydreaming. The list goes on and on. And the irony is that those things we enjoy so much take time, but they make us happy. Or at least we think they do. And maybe they do for a while, but the more time you spend doing them rather than doing the things you know you should do, the more unhappy you’ll become.

There is joy in accomplishment. There is something remarkably satisfying about seeing how dirty my kitchen is and then comparing it to when I have finished doing my dishes. I feel like I’ve actually done something. It’s amazing!

Right now, my kitchen is a nightmare. It’s been a busy two weeks, but honestly I had time to do dishes on Wednesday night. Yes, I chose to do laundry instead, but I could have done dishes at the same time. I just didn’t. And now my kitchen is still dirty. But I chose to do something else instead of cleaning, and while I enjoyed what I was doing, I’m still bothered that the kitchen is dirty.

Wheat ready for harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat ready for harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Philippians 2:12-13.

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

It’s easy to work when someone is supervising you. When your boss is around, it’s easy to do what they want. When your parents are around, it’s easy to do the things that make them happy. And in making them happy, you feel happy. But when you’re on your own, it’s not so easy. You have to be self-motivated, and self-motivation is difficult.

But like Paul is telling the Philippians in these verses, hard work is important, and not necessarily physical work. I used doing the dishes as an example because it’s the most normal thing I struggle with doing. But what Paul is talking about is working on deepening our relationship with Christ. He’s not saying we have to work to earn our salvation. No, that’s not it at all. Nobody can earn salvation. What he’s saying is that we have a responsibility to demonstrate that we have been saved, and we can only do that with hard work, both physically, spiritually and emotionally.

There’s a complicated three-step process here that I learned about in a biblical doctrines class a long time ago, and it throws people for a loop every time. But I’m going to try to simplify it because it’s important and it makes sense.

When we choose to follow Christ, we go through what this doctrine calls justification. It’s immediate. It’s complete. There’s nothing we can do to earn it, and because we didn’t earn it in the first place, it can’t be taken away from us. But just because we have been justified by Christ in the eyes of God doesn’t make us perfect. On the contrary, it just splits us in half because we have the redeemed part of ourselves, but we also have the part of ourselves that remains tied to the world. So the Christian life becomes a struggle between doing what our sinful self wants to do and doing what God has told us to do.

The process of that struggle of learning how to follow Christ is called sanctification. And it takes our entire life on earth. We’re going to fail. We’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to stumble and struggle and do things and say things that we’re going to regret. This is where the hard work comes in. This is where our responsibility comes in. This is where we have to make the choice to do what God has told us to do in the Bible or to do what we want to do anyway. And that’s hard work. But eventually, when we reach the end of our life on earth (no matter how long it might be), this process comes to an end as God takes us home.

Then we get to experience the third part, glorification, when step into our new lives, when we shed our earthly body and take on the perfect body that God has for us. No more struggle. No more sin.

This three-step process confuses people because they think once they accept Christ, they should be perfect. And that’s not the case. Nobody’s perfect except Christ, but with His power we can make the right decisions. And that’s where verse 13 comes in.

If you know Christ, and if you’ve chosen to follow Him, He will give you not only the desire to do His will but also the power to make it happen.

Can you still choose to sit on the couch and veg? Sure. But you won’t be happy. Maybe you’ll think you are for a little while, but you won’t really be. If you’re a Christ-follower, you have a purpose here. God has something for you to do, and if you’re ignoring it, you’re going to be discontent. It’s a like a Sheltie stuck indoors with nowhere to run. You’re wired to do something specific, and if you refuse to do it, you’ll be restless and unhappy until you do.

Want to be happy, American Christian? Get off the couch and get to work.