Daily Devotions

Nurture or Neuter

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Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

God has given each one of us an amazing gift: our brain. If God wanted little puppets, the Divine One would have made our brains smaller and less agile. God wants us to use this amazing gift. But like any gift, it comes with a responsibility. We are to treat our minds with respect, nurturing them so they can grow in wisdom and understanding. If we do, our minds will provide a meaningful life. If we squander or abuse our brains, the quality of our lives will suffer.

Anyone who reads my devotions regularly, knows I respect the writer Thomas Oppong. His article, “The Quality of Your Mind is The Quality of Your Life,” affirms, “It’s our own thoughts and habits that determine how we look at the world and, ultimately, what we see.” If we waste our time on drivel, or on ignorant conspiracy theories, like Qanon. Our brains weaken and our divine wisdom is lost.

Oppong has a recommendation to help us nurture and not neuter our brain’s capacity to guide us faithfully. He points out, “The quality of your life is-the quality of the books you read-the quality of the people you surround yourself with-the quality of the relationships you build-and the quality of your understanding about the nature of reality.” I have no idea if Thomas Oppong is a person of faith. I have not seen where he has shared his faith identity. But he has a spiritual way of approaching the world and I can translate his words to help my own faith journey. The books we read instruct our worldview. Other people also influence that worldview. His words should not be interpreted as a reason to avoid people in need, but to recognize there are people we can assist; and then, people who influence us. It is vital we have people in our lives who nurture us. That is a vital role in the formation of the church.

Today, ponder how you are using your brain. Are you being influenced well by the books you read, the television and movies you watch, and the people you associate with in your daily lives? Is your time spent on the computer trying to find a reason to feel special, or nurturing the faith with humility? Treat your brain as a gift, and nurture it with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. When you do, life’s meaning will become transformative.

Passionate Even at Hardees

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Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)

One of the many things I’ve learned from Bill Ekhardt, is that it is important to follow your passion whenever you can, in your work, as well as in your free time. Most of my life has been spent doing whatever needed to be done, whether it was fun, meaningful, or whether or not I had a passion for it. Bill encourages the staff to work to their passion. Sure, we still have to accomplish some tasks we’d rather not do, but focusing on our passions makes those uncomfortable moments less frequent.

The benefit extends beyond the individual. When we all work primarily to our passions, we are able to mold a staff around each person’s passion. The benefits of this were on display when the pandemic hit. Each member of the staff had something unique to add to the virtual worship service, but also to the way we organized ourselves in areas of care, administration, and education. Out of our unique passions, we have been able to transform our congregation into a profoundly new form of spiritual expression during a horrific time.

Sadly, for many, we’ve been doing whatever was necessary for so long, we have forgotten what working with passion feels like. It is crucial that each one of us spend the time to find out what ignites our passion and seek to fulfill it. That often does not mean a job change. It is finding passion in what we are doing. For example, when I was in high school, I worked at Hardees. Like all the men, we worked the frier and grill. The women worked out front. I had stunk in the kitchen. Even behind the counter, the owner recognized that I was visiting with a large number of the people who came into the restaurant. He boldly put me – a man –  at the front, taking orders. I became passionate about my work, and the overall warmth of the restaurant improved. Old job, new passion!

Today, consider what makes you passionate. Pray for the Holy Spirit to provide the creativity within yourself, so you can bring renewed joy to your life. God did not put us on this earth to live a life of drudgery. Finding ways to be passionate about work and life is what God calls us to do each day. Rather than trying to create the perfect situation, make your situation a passionate place, and watch your life come alive.

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