Snapshot: three student athletes sitting around my kitchen table, wanting to get things straight, wanting to do things right. The year was 2012. I was fully immersed in an active family, leading a women’s Bible study and also leading Fellowship of Christian Athletes at San Clemente High School, (South Orange County, California). Two huddles a month at lunchtime just wasn’t sufficient to teach the students about God and equip them with the tools they needed to grow. So, I envisioned a casual, welcoming place where they could come and learn more, sing worship songs, eat pizza, be together and get fed in the Word. It happened. I called it Sunday Night Live. Good times.
As a byproduct, God was moving-- in the students and in a leadership team of students learning to serve their peers while figuring God out themselves. So, the three athletes around my kitchen table? Yes, three girls who were at the top of their games – all going on to compete at the collegiate level and one still playing professional soccer today: Dani Weatherholt (above, Orlando Pride). All three wanted to please God . . . just what we have been talking about! One of the girls cut right to it and asked: can you just give me a list of sins so I don't do them?
Because why? She wanted to honor God, she wanted to please him. Newsflash: There is no pleasing God without being obedient. We cannot be obedient without knowing what is involved, what it is we are to obey. In breaking down Ephesians chapter five, verse 10: Carefully determine what pleases the Lord, Paul gives us some great guidance that falls neatly under one of two categories.
Remember, Paul was a prisoner of Rome at the time but wanted those he loved to be ever so close to the God he knew. Remember, he knew well the difference between being a religious law-keeper and one who had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But it was because of his desire to have a free life in Christ—not held back by sin, darkness or deceptiveness—that he explained what that would look like.
Obedience requires things we are to do, and things we are not to do. So this morning I put pen to paper on a lined sheet of paper and wrote two headings:
Things to do: please read slowly
Love others unselfishly
Be careful with what you say
Speak out thanks to God
Be careful who you spend time with
Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit
Encourage others with scriptures
Sing praises to God
Things to stay away from:
Sexual immorality – Right here, someone is saying, 'so what does sexual immorality mean'? According to the Scripture, it includes homosexuality and any kind of sex outside of marriage
Being taken in by deceit
Being a fool
So, how are you doing? Because you love God and want to please Him, what do you need to give over to him, ask for his help and stop doing??
And also, because you love God, want to please him [and accordingly, live at peace in your own mind and spirit], what things ought you ask his help to do more of?
Go ahead. Take stock.
This is something I have been doing more of lately – being a little more ruthless with myself. After all, we live in the Amazon climate where we deny ourselves nothing. You know, 'I want it, I want it now and so I shall have it; can't pay for it? No problem, I have a credit card.' And so grows our self-absorption, impatience, and even lack of self control. We have become the never-to-deny-ourself people. Restraint? What is that? Hmmm…. Causes one to think, doesn’t it?
Here in the year 2022, right and wrong are all mixed up in our culture. Some would tell us there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, there are no moral absolutes. That is a lie. Yes, the emperor was naked. There are rights and there are clear wrongs; do not be deceived like the frog in the pot of water.
Here's a news flash--in terms of our mortality, we have little control. On December 9, 2020, when I was getting dressed that day and planning to meet my dear friend Robin in the afternoon, I had no idea whatsoever that I was going to be in a strange accident at 5:15 pm in which my own SUV ran over me—I had no idea I was about to stare death in the face. Here's the thing--there are no do overs when we take our last breath. So as Paul said in verses 15 and 16 I want to live wisely, making the most of every opportunity. ‘You?
In the last Morning Briefing, I talked about what puts a smile on my face as a mother, and compared that to how we might put a smile on God’s face . . . first and foremost, we make God smile when we listen to him, heed his word and obey him. The rest is hot fudge on top—very important, of course, but secondary. Obedience is where the rubber meets the road.
Because we live for another place,
p.s. If you think of me, would love prayer for my back - my vehicle ran over my lower back and I have been suffering again lately.