Messy


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There are some messy jobs out there. It takes a strong work ethic and an equally strong stomach to do what no one else could handle. But sometimes what makes it so messy is not the work itself, but the spiritual environment. Maybe that’s you. You would say that it is just hard to be a Christian where you work. For others, it’s not just the workplace environment. For many, it’s hard to be a Christian in the family you’ve been placed in, or the school you go to. How do you navigate through all the stuff you’re not sure a Christian should be exposed to? What do you do about the elements of the workplace that you can’t endorse? When do you take a stand? And how? It’s MESSY and it’s not always easy to know how to draw the lines. Especially because retreat is not an option. We know Jesus has called us to go into the world and He told us it would not be easy. The good news is that we can learn from those who went before us. And Daniel is a great place to start...

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Imagine you show up for the first day of class, sit down at the desk and pull out your books and your laptop. You are ready to go. Then the professor walks in, and begins his intro lecture. That’s when you realize. You are in the wrong class. You now have to make the walk of shame to the exit. Maybe you’ve been in a place where you feel like you don’t belong. It couldn’t have been worse than what the biblical character Daniel felt. For him it was a spiritual issue. How could he possible be a godly person, in an environment completely opposed to that effort? That’s life in exile. And if you are a Christ-follower, the Bible says you are in exile too. Maybe you’ve felt that before. It’s difficult to live a godly life in an environment that is not set up to promote godliness. That’s Daniel’s story. We can learn a lot from him. Particularly instructive is what he did first… he resolved his allegiance.

 

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Imagine you are in a situation where you have the chance to take a risk and speak up. Maybe it’s a family member that is making some bad decisions and you have the opening to say something to them. Maybe a friend you’ve known for a long time finally cracks open the door to a spiritual conversation. Maybe at work, your boss asks for your input on an ethical decision for the company. How far do you go? What if you say to little? What if you say too much? Maybe as an act of faith we should be reckless. Perhaps we should be seizing those rare opportunities and just trust that God will clean up the mess. Or maybe we should trust our instincts and rely on our own read of the situation. But is that leaning on our own understanding and not trusting God? How are we supposed to handle these delicate moments? We can learn a lot from how Daniel operated. He was in a situation that was so delicate, his life and the lives of his friends were on the line.

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Remember that season of your life where you didn’t have to interact with any difficult people? No one does! Difficult people are a part of life. But there is one category of people that can create a particularly messy situation. These are the people that operate from a completely different worldview or faith, and are antagonistic to you yours. It could be a family member that always tries to prove to you why your beliefs are illogical and irrational. It is the co-worker that puts you on the spot every time they read about a noteworthy Christian messing up. How should we engage that type of person. The Bible character, Daniel, was no stranger to this situation. He had a difficult person that he showed incredible love to. There is much we can learn from this incredible story.

 

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Somewhere deep down, each of us wants to make an impact. God’s wired an impulse into our souls that is driven to have a positive influence. Sometimes when we see an extraordinary character in the Bible like Daniel, it is inspiring but also can be discouraging. We look at these incredible opportunities and adventures and wonder how our lives could compare to them. We see what God did through their incredible lives but feel so ordinary. Where do we even start? Daniel instructs us there too. There is something so simple, but more powerful than we realize. And we put it into operation starting tomorrow. Something we can commit to and then watch God work. God calls us to be committed to EXCELLENCE.

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If you had the option of avoiding discomfort, would you? I think if you stopped to think about it, you’d need more information. If the discomfort is senselessly breaking your arm, then the answer would be yes. If the discomfort is sitting in traffic on your way to pick up your loved one returning from a combat tour overseas, then the answer is no. Pain is endured when the allure of the joy on the other end of the pain is stronger. But interestingly, often we simply avoid pain and discomfort at all costs. That leads us to miss out on some of the best parts of life. Furthermore, we often think that following Jesus will automatically result in less discomfort. We believe that the closer we draw to God, the more he will make our path comfortable, more stable, and easier. In reality, Jesus promised the exact opposite. The path of following Jesus is difficult. But the joy on the other end, far outweighs the cost...