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Tuesday Thoughts 6-6-17

The view outside my office window this morning is full of promise!  On these beautiful, sunny, warm days it always seems like all the right things will get done (though sitting in my bathrobe in the deck while sipping coffee all morning seemed like the best thing).  But as we wrap up a three week journey today, let’s be reminded about what true accomplishment is: “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:26 NIV).  In order to lead and accomplish great things, we need to be followers!  In week one, we concentrated on the need to relinquish life’s authority to God.  Last week, we talked about focusing on Jesus, especially through the Word of God (see for weeks 1 &2). The third step toward followership is closely related to focus.  It’s putting on blinders.   If you’ve ever been to Mackinaw Island, you’ve seen cart horses with pieces of thick leather (blinders), one on each side of an eye, fastened to the bridle.  These blinders kept the horse from seeing distractions that would draw their focus away from following the drivers.  What a dumb beast, right?  I am a dumb beast too, and need to add blinders (“add” because if I don’t have my focus on Jesus but put on blinders, I’ll just wander around bumping into things).  If I have focus but no blinders, I will see things out of the corners of my eyes; tempting flashes of old habits & desires, and new, bright and shiny “opportunities” that are, in reality, only attempts of the enemy to stop you from following Jesus.  The thing about blinders is that each person will have a custom-made set.  What I need protection from will be different than you.  This brings us to a very important truth.  We play an active role in putting them in place!  This calls for self-awareness and brutal honesty.  In the Old Testament book of Job, there is one short verse that illustrates how this works, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman.” Job 31:1 (NLT).  First, Job, the book’s author is the one who took action: “I”.  Second, though we have no back story, he had to come to the conclusion that it wasn’t right to look lustfully at a woman (notice the surrender of authority to God and the focus on the character and will of God) and that he might want to do it anyway.  Third, he made a covenant, that is, an agreement or contract not to do it.  The fourth thing that is a part of the effective blinder process (which we don’t read here) is choosing an alternative.  The narrative in our head should go something like this, “I know I’m susceptible to this temptation so I’m making a commitment to steer away from it, but when I see it coming, I’ll do this instead…”  This will not work when your shiny thing has moved from a fuzzy far-away perception to a close, clear image.  In order for them to be effective, blinders are put on horses BEFORE the distractions are present!  How do you discover alternatives?  Practice the two steps from the last 2 Tuesdays: surrender the authority over your life to Jesus, and make Him your focus.  When we do those things, The Holy Spirit will help us choose godly alternatives to our distractions.  So what are you waiting for?

Note: The next two weeks I’ll be on vacation so there will be no Tuesday Thoughts.

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