Month: May 2019

Pie Plate Over my Head ?

pie plates

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Back when we took Art History, my college roommate and I joked that the halos behind the heads of the saintly people in medieval paintings looked like pie plates.

Those guys sure had a strange and otherworldly quality to them. That’s how I used to view  being holy — being very severe and ethereal and far above things that regular people are into. If I were to be holy, I would need to strive for my own pie plate.

But is that what today’s scripture verse is saying ? Does God expect us to have a strange and unearthly quality ?

Lately I have taken a fresh look at holiness, and I don’t think it is weird and unearthly. I think a danger of pie plate holiness is taking myself way too seriously and annoying other people by thinking I am somehow more “holy” than they are.

Just look at what Scripture says holiness really is like :

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

Indeed, instead of making me stuffy and remote, holiness makes me more joined to life and to other people, not less. To be holy is to be warm, friendly, caring and patient. Holy people even  laugh a lot !

If we’re holy, we have no need for a pie plate over our heads. No  otherworldly look on our  faces. Just an overflow of God’s grace, passing on his amazing love for  people.

Not Worth Praying About ?


 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

My prayer life was geared to saving up praying for the Big Stuff. Like, it would be silly to pray for a parking spot. But this past winter the Spirit started to prompt me to  pray for small things.

Let me give you two examples that kicked this off.

First was a computer fix, my wife’s laptop looked like it was dead in the water. Instead of taking it right to the repair shop, I felt led to pray for  an easy solution…so I Googled and found out  that sticking a paper clip into  a little hole on the back of her computer might work…then…answered small prayer… the computer came back to life !

Second was buying the right Christmas tree. I was pretty sure the little trees at our nearby Acme  would be all sold out, so I was already asking my wife  “Where will we look next?” But then came a leading to pray for a tree anyway…….and lo and behold there just happened to be one left….

Praying for the computer and the tree was fine but these little prayers pointed to something more important as they showed that I needed to pray about something else that I thought was little.  I am talking about a bad attitude.

My worst attitude is when my thoughts get filled with vague grumbling,  murmuring, or complaining. Before, I had not viewed that kind of low-key whining as even worth praying about, since at first glance it seems like no big deal. But God takes grumbling seriously, and complaining leads to falling into a vortex of negative thoughts— thoughts that revolve around me and what I deserve and how I should be treated….then I become like the little critter being sucked into the whirlpool in the picture.

But praying for the Lord to change my whining thoughts reverses the whirlpool…I head up and away from it being all about me and increasingly towards — loving God and people !

What do you think is not important enough to pray about ?

A Blah Day ? Don’t Lose Heart.

Most days, I do personal Bible study in the morning. I like to get a fresh insight, a takeaway for the day. But one day this past winter I was looking for my daily takeaway and came up really empty. Why was there nothing new today ? How could spending time in the Bible, God’s word,  seem so  fruitless ?

Outside it was windy and frostbitingly cold, one of those subzero windchill days. Our Ice Age outside led to my feeling a bit of cabin fever inside. I started to feel worldly and aimless.  I lost confidence that a project that I was to turn in soon would be any good. In addition, I had binged on a show on Netflix,  which initially hooked me, but then seemed to grow sillier the more of it I watched. Was I just wasting time ?

This frustration led to giving me my takeaway for any day where there is not a takeaway : Sometimes I just need a personal reminder that Jesus is truth and love!

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1b,2a,3)

Jesus faced opposition. Sometimes we feel drained because we are facing opposition too; but other times we get weary  without feeling any opposition at all.

To refresh us, let’s zero in on one word from today’s verses. Here’s your Greek for today : Aphorōntes. This single Greek word is translated in our Bibles as “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

Aphorontes means taking our eyes off of one thing and looking at a different thing instead.  We might be focusing on  a variety of things other than Jesus—we might be worried about an endless to-do list ; we  might be binging on Netflix ; or obsessing about a grievance we have with someone. So today’s exhortation asks us to  look away from our improper focus ….and look towards Jesus.

Jesus says he is the way and the truth and the life. And this is not just a fact that we know in our heads. Because as we fix our eyes on him, then through the power of the Spirit, Jesus dwells inside us — giving us  warm, personal assurance that he really does  love us and doesn’t want us to feel weary and lose heart.  When Jesus comes alive in us like that, the day does not seem so blah after all !