obedience

Road Closed

by Larry Hehn on July 30, 2014

Road ClosedThe road to my office was closed today, as workers replaced the railroad tracks that cross it. The intersection leading into the work area was marked with pylons, a large electronic sign, and detour markers to keep drivers from wandering into a dead end.

Despite the visible warnings and suggested alternate route, I was amazed at how many drivers ignored them and continued down the doomed path.

When they reached the trench where the railroad tracks used to be, it became clear. Yep, that “ROAD CLOSED” sign really meant the road was closed.

Go figure.

To be honest, I’ve done that many times myself. Whether it be challenging a real life “ROAD CLOSED” sign and almost getting stuck in knee-high sand, or simply ignoring God’s direction at different points in my life and choosing my own way instead.

There are good reasons for both the literal and figurative “ROAD CLOSED” signs in our life.

Yes, I am thankful for the truth behind that old cliché that says God allows U-turns. But the older I get, the more I hope to notice – and heed – his “ROAD CLOSED” signs when they first appear.

And not wind up on the wrong side of the tracks.

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. – Proverbs 14:12

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.” – Robert Frost

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Put on your new nature

by Larry Hehn on December 10, 2013

butterflyEarlier this year we renovated our bathroom.

The old shower head hung less than 6′ above the base of the tub. It wasn’t a problem for my wife, who fit comfortably underneath it. But I always had to crouch in the shower to keep my head from smashing into the low-hanging plumbing.

One of the first changes we made was to raise the shower head to 7′ high so I wouldn’t have to duck anymore.

The change has been liberating, to say the least.

I can now stand up straight and still have several inches of clearance between me and the shower head. Gone are the threats of bruises on my forehead and the need for sloppy posture.

But still, a few days ago, I caught myself crouching in the shower again.

I had fallen back into my old conditioning.

Even though the shower head is now well out of harm’s way and there’s no need for me to duck, I unconsciously went back to my old habit.

Yes, even when there’s no good reason to go there, sometimes we slip back into auto-pilot and find ourselves in a familiar rut.

In his letters, Paul had to remind the Colossians and Ephesians to “put on your new nature” – so they didn’t slip back into the old.

So don’t be surprised or discouraged if you catch yourself slumping back into your old default mode. Know that it’s a conscious, Spirit-led decision to put on your new nature and leave the old behind.

As John White says in The Fight, “Transformation is not an overnight matter. It takes a lifetime.”

Stand up tall, and put on your new nature.

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. – Colossians 3:10

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. – Ephesians 4:21-24

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7:21-25a

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. – Romans 8:6

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. – Romans 8:12-13

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Live Out Loud

by Larry Hehn on January 7, 2013

joyKatie is Deaf, but that doesn’t stop her from singing at church. Yes, she signs along with the music, but also sings the words out loud with all her heart. She doesn’t hit all the right notes, but she makes a joyful noise.

Ed can hear, but can’t find a tune to save his life. Still he sings with unbridled enthusiasm, and worships with a joy that is simply infectious. He doesn’t hit all the right notes, but he makes a joyful noise.

Meanwhile, I sing softly, self-conscious. My hearing isn’t the best. Neither is my voice. Am I off key? What if somebody notices? What if they don’t like it? What if they laugh?

Hmm. Sounds pretty pathetic when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, this was me last Sunday.

Until, of course, God clobbered me over the head with a two-by-four. In a good way.

I thought of the years that I’ve sat on my gifts, too timid to put them out there for God and others to see. What if I screw up? What if my best isn’t good enough? What if people don’t like it? What if they laugh, or criticize?

But then God dropped a new question in my lap.

What if this is what you’ve been called to do all along, warts and all?

Katie and Ed don’t inspire by the notes they sing. They inspire by the reason they sing them.

This year, you and I may not hit all the right notes.

But let’s make a joyful noise.

Let’s live out loud.

Every corner of creation is a living declaration
Come join the song we were made to sing

– Steven Curtis Chapman, “Live Out Loud”

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” – Matthew 5:13-16

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