Skateboarding and Relationships

February 24, 2020

Skateboarding, the Law and Relationships

 

Hear

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.” (Ephesians 2:14, 15)

 

Believe

The doorbell rang. Jeanna opened the door and there stood a police officer. A neighbor had registered a complaint against us. According to the officer, Coleman and his friends were making too much noise on his skateboard ramp.

We knew the ramp was loud. We had spoken to our neighbor several times about the noise issue. He asked that Coleman limit his skateboarding on the ramp to 45 minutes and only skateboard during the day. Coleman was willing to make this concession, so these terms were agreed upon.

But soon even the 45 minutes was too much to bear. He was retired, and dealing with noisy neighbors was not part of his retirement plan.

He went to City Hall to research the noise ordinances. He pored over the documents, highlighting all the possible violations on our part. He then met with the police officer, shared his findings and asked that he issue a citation to us. The officer did not agree with our neighbor’s interpretation of the code, but he was obligated to meet with us to discuss the problem.

Soon the problem took care of itself. Coleman lost interest in skateboarding and the ramp began to rot.

The interesting aspect of the story is that when our neighbor brought the city ordinances into the picture, a code that he believed stood against us, he stopped talking with us. The law had placed a barrier between us. Any vestiges of a relationship were gone.

This story reminds me of Peter’s actions in Antioch. Paul told the story in his letter to the Galatians.

Under pressure from the Judaizers, Peter decided to rebuild the Jewish law in his life regarding the Gentile converts, which meant they had to follow Jewish customs, including circumcision, in order to be embraced by Jewish believers. This became a barrier that stood between Peter and the Gentile believers. As a result, Peter withdrew from them and ended all relationships. Law does that. It is not the foundation on which to build relationships.

Jesus is the One who brings us together. As Paul wrote, “for he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations” (Ephesians 2:14, 15). The law divides and causes hostility.

But all that changes when relationships are built in Christ. He is the foundation for strong, healthy relationships.

Some six months after we tore down the skateboard ramp, my neighbor saw me mowing the yard and stopped to speak. He shook my hand and said, “We got off on the wrong foot, can we start over?” The barrier was gone. And now we’re on the road to becoming good neighbors.

 

Live

How about you? Has the law become a wall of hostility in any of your relationships? If so, remove the barrier of the law and trust Christ to forge strong, healthy relationships instead of division. Let the love that you received from Jesus overflow into your relationships with others. Love tears down the walls of hostility and builds a foundation that supports real, authentic interaction with others.

In Him,

Bob Christopher

For more information, please visit Basic Gospel at BasicGospel.net and OnePlace.com.

Invading the Privacy of God – Week of February 24

Devotional 3

The Eternal One

“But who made God?” I must have been not more than six-years-old when I asked my mother.

“Nobody made God,” she said, “He always was and always will be.”

“But before that?” I persisted. “I mean before all the things God did, who made God?”

She shook her head and gave me a long explanation, which didn’t make any more sense to me than her first answer. After she walked away, I thought, She doesn’t know either.

At age six it seemed impossible for something not to have a beginning. “There had to be a place to start,” I mumbled to myself, “even if it was a long, long, long time ago.”

In college, one of my scientifically minded friends tried to explain it to me. He threw in a lot of scientific verbiage about the relativity of time, that it was circular and not linear, but I was as confused at age twenty as I had been at six.

Now, decades later, my theology and my Bible tell me God is, was, and always will be. I accept this as the final word.

I’ve never found a satisfactory solution to understanding the eternity of God and I assume I never will. My friend, Jay Zinn, said, “You know, we’re created beings. Everything in our world is created from something else. I had a dad who had a dad who had a dad. I can’t understand anything about humans or animals or plants except to look for what they came from. But God is above and beyond creation. And we can’t understand something that’s beyond the created world we live in.”

I agreed with Jay, but it didn’t stop me from asking and trying to understand. I still believe in trying to make sense of the mysteries of the universe. Yet I also realize how this works for me in daily, practical living. I want explanations. I want to understand. “God, make it clear” is something I’ve often prayed. The phrase “I just don’t understand” is such a habitual part of my prayer life, it wouldn’t seem natural to pray about difficulties without using it.

For instance, as a writer, I pray for God to help me write a book. I write it, and then I pray for God to help me sell it to a publisher. I get turned down. I try a second time and get another rejection. I pray, “God, I just don’t understand. You want me to be happy, or fulfilled, or at peace, so why do I go through all this?”

I pray for my friend who is in danger of losing her job and she gets fired. Larry goes on a diet; I pray for God to help him lose forty pounds. After three weeks, he has lost nothing and abandons his weight-loss program. “I don’t understand,” is my answer.

In hundreds of ways I don’t understand what God is doing in my life or in anyone else’s. But one day I realized that was precisely the problem: I put the emphasis on understanding.

The day that light crept in, I had just read the words of Brother Lawrence, who contrasted our understanding with the act of our will. Understanding, he said, is of little benefit, but the commitment of our will is of immense value.

Then I got it. I would say it like this. I kept wanting to obey the Eternal One when I understood the divine plan. Instead, God wants me to commit my will even if I don’t understand.

I found help in this matter recently when I came across a typed sheet of paper that someone gave me many years ago. I know only that it’s called “Others May, You Cannot” by George Watson. Here is part of one paragraph:

…make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as he pleases with his own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in his dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be his love slave, he will wrap you up in a jealous love and bestow upon you many blessings….

God has no obligation to explain anything to me. It’s the matter of the creature tying to usurp the role of Creator to demand such explanations or understandings. I’m willing to let the Eternal One work out all the solutions to the problems of this time and the period beyond human time.

I’m also learning to be grateful that God is here with us now, reminding us who is the Eternal One. I don’t have to understand the Eternal One, I need only commit myself.

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other…. I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”        ISAIAH 45:18, 19B, NKJV

Eternal and Everlasting God,

I don’t understand such terms as eternal and everlasting.

How can I? My world is limited and temporal.

Whether I understand isn’t the issue, is it?

Help me commit my will totally to you,

especially when I don’t understand

what you’re doing with my life

or the lives of others around me. Amen.

For more from Cec, please visit www.cecilmurphey.com.


Cecil Murphey has written more than one hundred books on a variety of topics with an emphasis on Spiritual Growth, Christian Living, Caregiving, and Heaven. He enjoys preaching in churches and speaking and teaching at conferences around the world. To book Cec for your next event, please contact Twila Belk at 563-332-1622.

Approval – One Year Devotions for Men

“Whoever finds me finds life and wins approval from the LORD. But those who miss me have injured themselves. All who hate me love death.” – Proverbs 8:35-36

The story is told of a young pianist who was making his professional debut in a famous concert hall in one of the capitals of Europe. The fashionable audience were most responsive to his playing, and at the end of the concert they gave him a resounding, standing ovation and called for an encore. Backstage, the young man refused to return to the platform despite the pleas of the stage manager and the concert sponsors. “But they love you!” they expostulated. “They’re on their feet.” The young man replied, “I know they are, but there’s one man sitting in his seat. He isn’t standing.” “What’s one man in a concert hall full of people?” they replied. Quietly he responded, “He’s the master—my teacher!” The approval that really mattered to the young pianist was missing.

In the human heart there is a thirst for approval, a longing for belonging, a hunger for acceptance. Children seek to please their parents and are insecure if they sense disapproval. Teenagers move from seeking to please parents to seeking peer approval. They must be with the “in” crowd, dress as they dress, listen to what they listen to, and conform to their patterns of behavior—all in order that they might have their peers’ approval.

Men do not easily grow out of this longing for others’ approval. No one likes to be thought weird, to be socially outcast, to be ignored or discounted. The tragedy is that sometimes the applause of the crowd drowns out the approval of the Master.

Wisdom says, “Happy are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home! For whoever finds me finds life and wins approval from the Lord” (8:35). Approval from the Lord is what matters. No matter how many peers stand and applaud or how many bosses issue good reports, if the Master is not pleased, all is in vain. The whole world can stand, but if the Lord stays seated, all is lost.

How do we gain the Lord’s approval? By listening attentively to what he is telling us, absorbing the truth he proclaims, and making practical application. Problems arise when what he says does not agree with the audience that we wish to impress. Teenagers vacillate between doing what is right and behaving in a way that is “cool.” Businessmen wrestle with doing what is right and doing “what it takes” to close a deal, knowing full well that the Lord does not approve of the methods used.

It comes down to this: Whom do we wish to please? Whose approval do we crave?

For Further Study: Proverbs 8:22-36 

Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for MenCopyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit TellingtheTruth.org.

Joy of My Heart with Anne Graham Lotz – February 24

February 24

God Is Faithful!

His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22–23, nkjv

Three hundred and seventy-one days after the Flood began, “God said to Noah, ‘Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives’” (Gen. 8:15, niv). We can almost hear the “Hallelujah Chorus” playing in the background! What a day of rejoicing that must have been! God had been faithful to see him through!

God has not changed. If He was faithful to watch over Noah and all those within the ark, bringing them safely through the storm, He will do the same for you. Just as He was faithful to preserve Joseph through thirteen years of slavery in Potiphar’s house and Pharaoh’s prison, just as He was faithful to preserve the little baby Moses floating on the Nile . . . God will be faithful to you. Why? Because God is faithful! He cannot be less than Himself! Keep your focus on God’s faithfulness and on God’s greatness!

God’s Story, (Nashville: W Publishing, 1997).

©2012 Anne Graham Lotz. All rights reserved.


THE KEY TO A LIFE OF IMPACT

What are the secrets to a life of impact? Daniel achieved greatness in the eyes of his contemporaries, in the eyes of history, and most importantly, in the eyes of God. His faith did not waver as he faced his critics, as he served new kings in power, or even as he confronted hungry lions. How can we achieve that kind of faith today? Twenty intentional, key choices made all the difference. Daniel’s choices can be ours, such as:

•  The choice to listen
•  The choice to forgive
•  The choice to pray

Cultivate a life-changing faith when you learn to implement The Daniel Key into your everyday life. Request your copy!

For more from Anne Graham Lotz please visit AnneGrahamLotz.org.

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