My Way

Frank Sinatra My way

“Alexa, play the Frank Sinatra station.”

Alexa’s my Amazon speaker-thingy.  You just tell it what you want to hear, and it provides the soundtrack for your life! This morning, I felt like some old standards.  This is what I got:

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

Listening, I thought to myself, “this is such a good song.  An old classic.  Well written, and ole Blue Eyes really knows how to belt it out.”

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

The words to the song, I just looked them up, were written by Paul Anka.  But the philosophy of life clearly belongs to that of the Chairman of the Board.

But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

The song is about a man, near the end of his life, looking back with pride. Every time life got tough, he made his own uncompromising decisions.  He did it “My Way”.

For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

It was at this point that I decided to write this devotion.  Did you notice that this song is seriously missing something? There’s no leaning on God.  No leaning on others.  There’s no collaboration, no love.  There’s only a man standing tall.

And you know what?  That’s not enough.

I know lots of people who have graduated from the Frank Sinatra school of hard knocks.  They learned to keep their own interests front and center.  They learned not to trust others or accept much help.  They learned to be strong and determined and single-minded.  They aim to be King of the Hill, A-Number One, and they aim to do it “My Way”. But they don’t learn to trust in God’s way, and that means missing out on the greatest experience of life.

It’s a tricky thing, putting your faith in God’s hands, especially when the world keeps telling you to go it alone.  Even long-term Christians can struggle with this.

I went hunting for “my way” quotes from scripture.  Here are 4 that I found from the Psalms:

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.  –Psalm 18:32

I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. –Psalm 119:59

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. –Psalm 139:3

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.   –Psalm 142:3

Apparently there’s room for both “My Way” and God’s Way.   That balance between God’s sovereignty and Human agency is a mysterious one — humans have been asking about that theological question since day one.  I’m apt to think that we can be strong people of integrity who are guided in our steps, hearts, and minds by a loving God.  We can have it both ways.

When I get to the point in my life when I say, “And now the end is near…” I hope I sing a very different song about my life.  One filled with lots of harmony and inspiration and love, one that reminds me that if I keep God in my life…

I’ll never walk alone.

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

 

You’re Being Lied To

I have a fancy watch.

It tells me all sorts of things, including the weather.  Last Tuesday, it informed me it was a whopping 81 degrees outside!

So I dressed appropriately in one of my summeriest beach-shirts and headed to the church for a meeting.

I turned a lot of heads, because it was only 65 degrees outside.

My watch was lying to me!

I think I’ve got that fixed now, but I don’t know what to do about the rest of the world.

I get this feeling that LOTS of people are lying to me.

Advertisers?  Big time.  I’ll almost never trust something they tell me on a commercial.

Politicians?  Well…yeah.  I’m afraid so.  When you couple these experts at doublespeak with the slipperiness of today’s media, half the time it all sounds like one big lie.

That calls into question lots of things like Facebook Posts and Tweets and all kinds of social media.

And then, I can’t help but think it, but there may be people I know.  Friends, acquaintances, even family who could be lying to me!

I like to think I can trust most people.  A lot of lies are white lies, or lies of omission, or to prevent embarrassment. But it’s true that sometimes we trust someone and we get burned.  We can even lie to ourselves.

For a society built largely on a set of commandments including “don’t bear false witness”, there sure is a lot of false witnessing going on!

If you can’t fully trust your technology, or big business, or government, or media, or even the occasional friend, or even yourself, who does that leave that you can trust?

(Here is where, if this were a children’s sermon, all the kids would say, right on cue:  “Jesus”.)

And that’s a good answer, of course, but let me offer two thoughts first.

If you’re worried that you’re being lied to, here are 2 ways I suggest responding:

  1. Think Critically.  Use your brain.  Gather data.  Sort through a wide range of possibilities.  See where reason takes you.  Once I stepped outside, it didn’t take me long to figure out that my watch was lying to me.  Sometimes the lies are harder to uncover than others, but God gave us minds to help us seek truth.
  2. Employ Faith.  Faith isn’t meant to be a passive feeling, it’s meant to be an active, useful tool for your whole life.  Faith is what makes trust possible even in difficult circumstances.  Blind faith will let you down a scary road (see #1 to avoid that).  Instead, an informed faith will make it so that you can make wise choices and invest your trust where it is warranted, without becoming paranoid or jaded.

I’ll admit there are days when I’ll spin around and wonder if there’s anyone not corrupted by lies.  Anyone?

The answer, of course, is (Okay now, kids, say it loud…) Jesus.  Here’s what he said:

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  -John 8:31b-32

Holding to Jesus’ teaching involves thinking (#1) and believing (#2).  Instead of dwelling on all the lying, we can place our supreme trust in The Truth Jesus offers, and go from there.

It’s a spiritual attitude adjustment that can change our lives and help transform others.

The Bad News?  You’re being lied to.  (It isn’t close to 81 degrees out there.)

The Good News?  Well, let’s just say,

It’s better than all the Bad put together.

And that ain’t no lie.

Have a great week,

Mitch