Life Balance

When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6: 6


The way that we approach prayer can be a very interesting and highly variable subject. There are a great many ways to engage in prayer. Most people pray in ways that cover a wide range of styles and intensity. Some people express themselves in very formal and proper ways and some are highly emotive or truly casual in their attitudes and words. This is how it should be, for God made each of us as an individual and He relates to each of us individually. However, there is one thing that I believe is universal. That is the simple fact that God is neither impressed nor is His attention gained by the cleverness or by the form of our words. The point of engaging in prayer is not so that God would be aware of us. We are instructed by God to engage in prayer in order for us to become more deeply attentive to God.


In this verse from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not teaching against public or group prayer, for there are other instances when He engages in very public prayer. He is teaching us to approach prayer in a manner that runs against our culture. Christ wants us to understand that God is infinitely more interested in the relationship with us than He is in the form of our engagement in that relationship. The Father is fully aware of who we are, of what is happening in our lives, and of what it is that we truly need. He is also completely secure in who He is; thus, God does not need for us to express words of praise and adoration to Him. It is us who do need to recognize the character of God and to acknowledge His nature so that we can enter more fully into a life that reflects the love and righteousness that the Lord is pouring out upon us.


So, why does Jesus tell us to go into a private place and pray words that only we might be aware of? This is an issue of intimacy and of trust. The Father desires for us to drop our guards and to become utterly vulnerable before Him. He wants us to stop being wise, all-knowing and competent in the ways that our world teaches us to be in order for us to be able to recognize the sort of absolute dependence upon God that leads us to the surrender of our hearts and our minds completely to His will. When we pray to God in our own words with no other audience in mind than the Father, what we say may come out in unstoppable torrents or it might be uttered in only the sounds of the silence of inexpressible emotion. Form carries no weight with the God who already knows everything that is on our minds and whose intent is to bless us with the abundance of His grace, love and provision. Jesus is sharing with us what He already knows to be true. Prayer is an unending and unrelenting dialogue with God the Father, and it is a fundamental aspect of living in a very real state of present-time, deeply intimate relationship with our Lord and King.



Are not five sparrows sold two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Luke 12: 6


The details matter. Just ask an airplane pilot or a surgeon, and they will confirm this fact. The details of life matter to God, too. Some of these details are formed out of attitudes and from intentions; while others are defined by the way that people live out their days in pursuit of God or in attempted escape from Him. Still, without regard to what we do, where we go, or even what masters we serve, God knows it all and Christ seeks to enter into every aspect of each day of our existence with us. You see, the point that Jesus was making when He brought up sparrows was that they were truly the poor person’s sacrifice. They were so cheap as to be completely disposable; yet, to God, their Creator, each of those throw away birds was known and considered as a valuable part of this world’s beauty and balance of nature. They all had a purpose in God’s plan for this world.


So, if that was true about humble birds, how much more so does this same Creator God care about and fully comprehend each of the people that He has set out in this same world? We matter to God; so, we matter to Jesus Christ. God’s intent and desire for us is to be in close relationship with us; thus, Christ comes into our lives in order to redeem us from the separation of sin and to restore us to the glory of God that is our greatest and truest potential. We can fight against God’s intent and His desire. In fact, to various degrees most people do struggle with and against God for parts of our lives and throughout all of our days to some extent. However, these times of departure, rebellion, and disaffection with our Lord are futile. Those sparrows have more power to set their own direction and destiny than we do, for in the end, we all face the reality of our lives as our days on this earth end, and we go before Christ as the purveyor of truth and final justice.


There is no escaping this day of reckoning, and we should not be living in fear of it, either. God’s desire is that He would be greatly pleased to welcome each person on this earth home into His eternal presence. Jesus literally poured out His blood in order to buy each of us that outcome to the life that we have been given by God. This is a good day and this hour is the perfect time to consider my life in light of God’s view of those precious sparrows. Although the world may have viewed them as throw aways with no real usefulness or value, God sees the unique design and infinite depth of quality in every feather on their bodies. So, it is with each of us. God sees us as vitally important to Him, and He grants to each of us the talents, skills, and gifts that we will need in order to follow His will and to live out our days in service to our Godly calling. Our lives are filled with those details that matter so greatly to our Lord, and He will not overlook or forget anything that truly matters as we live out lives of service to Him.

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2: 17


If only people could learn to compromise. This is the exasperated lament of many of us today as a vast array of big issues remain unresolved and without solution. I do hold that there is much to commend the practice of compromise when it comes to governance and the management of society. Yet, I think that there is something else involved in the way that God would see people learn to live together peacefully in this world. The Lord doesn’t call upon us to compromise; rather, He desires for us to move away from our tightly held positions on everything and move toward Him and His singular point of view on all that we think, feel, and do.


In order for us to do this, we need to start to function in a manner that is like the one that God uses with us. God listens well, and He hears what we are saying both in the words of it and in the emotion that is behind those words. He also knows us in a manner that goes deep into our hearts and minds, and even with this knowledge, which includes our darkest secrets and our doubts and fears, the Lord still seeks to engage with each of us. He pours out His love, grace, and mercy upon us as He also brings the full weight of His truth and righteousness to bear upon our choices and decisions. In Christ, we find God’s great love in direct contact with humanity’s abandonment of relationship with our Creator, and the purpose of that contact is redemption and the reconciliation of our lost bodies and souls to God’s absolutely loving presence.


So, it seems that the real and true starting point for resolution of all that is difficult and to the conflict in our world is Christ. The strife, violence, and loss of our world will cease only when Christ returns and reigns over the restored order of creation that will become the new and eternal world at that time. However, that should not stop those of us who know Christ from living today as He would have us live. That would mean that we would seek to apply the truth of God’s Word in its totality to all that we think and do and also that we would strive to hear all others well and to attempt to get to know them in a deep and real way so that when we listen to them we can actually hear what is being spoken to us. This also suggests that we would be bold and brave enough to hold fast to what is non-negotiable from God’s perspective while inviting Christ to be our anchor point of truth and belief. In this world where disagreement is our common language, Christ speaks forth a different dialect as He leads His people into the conciliation of peace and the restorative hope of His grace and love.

Since all these things (the heavens and heavenly bodies) are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought we to be in lives of holiness and godliness!

2 Peter 3: 11


Most people spend a very great amount of time and energy on building up our world. This is not a bad thing to do. In fact, there is much about this effort that is both commendable and in conformity with God’s stated desire and will for us. Yet, there does come a time when we need to realize that everything that we do for the sake of this world and to improve its environment is headed for final destruction. In other words, we are a bit like the proverbial doctor who has spared no cost in working to save a patient who simply dies of old age at about the same time as the cure is effective. It is all a noble yet futile effort. Again, caring about and for creation is not futile and following God’s will in this matter is true obedience to our Lord; yet, in the end, Christ will return, and all that has been infected and corrupted by sin will be wiped away and then made new.


So, it seems to me that the point of our care for this world is about something other than the dirt, trees, and waterways of our planet, and the purpose behind these efforts needs to be aligned with a heart and a desire that is focused on something other than clean air, clear water, and the preservation of species. The very nature and character of God is reflected in the minute details of His creative handiwork. Although some will disagree with me on this, I state uncatagorically that God, Himself, made all of this world and every one of the other ones that proliferate across the heavens. He not only made them, the Lord fashioned them down to the smallest of details in and upon them, and He did all of this in order to set the context and the place for His engagement and relationship with the highest form of His workmanship in the form of people. I do not pretend to understand the whys of it all, and I certainly do not comprehend God’s methodology; however, I do accept that all that surrounds me is important to my Lord and that He desires that I view it in this same manner.


Yet, in so viewing creation, I am to maintain a balance and a set of priorities that holds God’s greatest desires as foremost to me. As much as the Lord is pleased by the care that we give to our physical world, He is even more delighted when we reach out to care for other people who dwell upon this earth. God does want us to protect our environment; yet, His intent in imploring us to do this is that there would be safe and sustainable places for humanity to dwell and so that people who do not know Him would see a tangible demonstration of Christ’s love for them in the sacrificial efforts of His followers. God calls upon His people to be holy and godly. We are to walk through our days as women and men who are neither afraid nor are we concerned about what it means to be viewed as different by our co-inhabitants of this world. We become god-like as our thoughts and actions reflect a form of care that will give our all for the sake of other people and that does surrender everything that we hold as dear or precious to serve Christ and to enter into living out His will. Thus, we care for creation with hearts and minds fixed upon the fact that the only thing that actually matters to God in the end of days is the souls of His beloved people.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4: 8


The human mind is amazing. We are capable of processing vast amounts of information and of managing a life that is lived out in an ever-changing and fast paced world. The thoughts that we have often come at a pace that is dizzying in its nature; yet, we seem to mostly keep then flowing in, through, and out of our minds in such a manner as to maintain life’s balance and processes. This is true because of the remarkable and the marvelous way that God designed and made us, but the quality and the nature of that design and its creation are still not enough to live in the fullest appreciation and application of all that we were made to be. We all need the presence and perspective of the Creator as an essential aspect of daily life.


This is where Paul’s exhaustive list of things to think upon comes into play, for he is describing many of the attributes, characteristics, and qualities of God in this recitation of what we should focus our minds upon. For me, thinking about these highly desirable values and life processes and their outcomes leads me to consideration of their source. So, it brings me to meditating upon God, Himself. The Lord granted His truth, honor, justice, purity, love, and all else that is good to His Creation; thus, to us. In kind, all that flows out of these qualities is also something that God has imparted to us and into this world, and the ultimate means that God used to do this is found in the coming of Jesus Christ into our world and the subsequent granting of His Spirit to travel through life with us.


So, we can fill our minds with the cares, worries, and concerns of our days and focus our considerable mental capacity upon solving and resolving these issues on our own, or we can take time out from all that we are dealing with and allow for the voice of eternal wisdom and truth to speak to us. God is fully aware of all that is on our minds and in our hearts. He desires to walk into each and every aspect of our days with us, and His understanding and knowledge is greater than any challenge that we may face. God’s Word provides the guidance that is required for all that life brings our way, and His Spirit is with us to reveal its deeper wisdom to us in each of the circumstances that we encounter. It is up to each of us to turn to God and to slow the frantic pace of life down so that we can step out of the rest of life and listen to God’s words of truth, love, and hope as He speaks into those marvelous minds that He especially designed to hear His voice.

Behold, God is my salvation;

I will trust, and I will not be afraid;

for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,

and he has become my salvation.

Isaiah 12: 2


It seems that everyone needs something to hold onto as we go through the days of our lives. There is some form of belief that keeps us more or less centered within the structure of our values and our ethical and moral boundaries. We may hold to a fully fleshed out set of rules, a religious system, confident self-determination, or some other construct; however, virtually no one goes very far in our adult journey with nothing of this sort to place our hands around to grasp onto and to trust to focus the outcome of the important decisions that we will need to make almost every day. I have tried several of these methods and means of gaining my bearings for this essential aspect of living, and there has been only one that actually works. The Lord has consistently and faithfully provided truth, wisdom, guidance, and protection to me regardless of where I have gone or what I have undertaken.


So, for me, Isaiah’s statement is truly on-target. He starts out with the single most important aspect of entering into a relationship with God. God is the only source of salvation that exists in the universe, and all of us need to be saved. We are born lost, defeated by our sinfulness, and bound for a life of separation from God and from the love, truth, grace, and justice that are formed up out of His character and nature alone. Not only does God save us and bring us into His presence in a relationship that enfolds all of life under His outpouring of engagement, but the Lord is absolutely trustworthy to provide answers to all questions, to care about and for us in all circumstances, and to never abandon or separate Himself from us. The Lord has been consistently true to His word to never leave my side and to always enter into my life in love, grace, and truth; so, it is natural to trust Him in all matters and with all aspects of my days.


Out of this trust comes the ability to be strong and to carry on regardless of what life may throw my way. The strength that I am speaking of is not some sort of brave front or unflinching determination to show no pain on the outside. Instead, it is a form of strength that knows that the outcome of this life is secured in Christ and that holds onto the Lord’s promise to provide His people with all that we need to remain true and faithful to Him in and through all that comes our way. Christ’s strength has taken the place of my weakness, and He makes me capable of singing songs of praise to my Lord during each and every day of my life. Thus, over and over again the Lord sustains me when I am failing in my resolve. He lifts me up when I have fallen down both in body and in spirit, and Christ is the solid rock upon which I can trust to set my feet when the troubling and the terrifying aspects of this world are hurling themselves my way.



Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 7: 1


This verse is speaking in summary of the fact that God has committed to dwell among His people and to transform them into human bearers of that presence by virtue of making each of us who know Christ into something holy and set apart like the Holy of Holies within the Temple, itself. As such, we should consider all that enters our hearts and our minds as if it were something that we are bringing to God as an offering upon His alter, and we need to realize that everything that we bring into contact with us is also joining us in our life-long act of worship to our Lord. For me, these ideas and concepts change the way that I view what I am thinking about, saying, and engaging in. It takes the ordinary and the personal and transfers all of it into the realm of what should be sacred.


Yet, there is a lot that I bring into my life that is far from holy, righteous, or sacred. Much of it is ordinary and routine in its nature, but there are also those thoughts and feelings that are unloving, lacking in grace, even filled with anger, or founded in lust, greed, and selfishness. In other words, there are a lot of words and images that I bring into my holy temple that are not acceptable in God’s view of what belongs in His place of residence. All of this is a part of the defilement and the corruption that separates us from God, and each of these things and the thoughts and actions that surround and empower them are also among the aspects of separation that Christ died to bridge and that His risen presence seeks to drive from our lives.


The Lord wants each of us to be very clear on this matter, He is with us fully in the struggle for righteousness, for purity, in all aspects of life and of living out our relationship with Christ. This is not an isolated or an individual contest against evil and with sin. We are called upon by our Lord to desire to become cleansed of these elements of sinfulness that we are carrying around with us in our hearts, minds, and spirits, and the Lord then asks us to turn toward Him and to yield our lives in full to His work on and within us. This is that point when we begin to engage in a process that will never cease in this life whereby we grant Christ access to all of our hidden corners and give Him permission to sweep us clean of all that is unrighteous so that we are purified and all forms of defilement are removed from us. In doing this, we are turning away from the momentary pleasures of this world and entering into the eternal glory of the holy presence of the Lord within us.

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