Friday, November 19, 2010

Life cereal & the Bible

One thing I really love about farming is winter. I actually enjoy winter. I'm more of a polar bear than most people I know. I don't mind cold weather. Anyway, what I like most about winter (besides Christmas) is that it's not a very busy season for us. This year it will be because my parents are moving and I'm helping with the remodel of the new house and the move. I'm cool with that though, because I'm really happy and excited for the rents. 

I seem to keep getting off track. 

I like winter because it gives me an opportunity to do things I normally don't have much time for. An example is playing guitar. I get into it during the winter, playing for at least an hour every day, usually closer to two. I just got done playing for about an hour and a half, actually. During the spring, summer, and fall guitar takes a back seat. I get home from work and just want a shower and a meal, most likely a beer as well. Winter time, I plan my days this way - "Well, I think I'll put on a pot of coffee. Then I'll take a shower and wear my favorite pair of jeans. Who cares that I've worn them four days in a row? Not me. After my shower, I'll drink coffee. Probably play guitar. Look at guitars on ebay. Watch the Drive-By Truckers on YouTube. Listen to James McMurtry on vinyl. Read a book or some magazines. Eat a couple of hot dogs. Rinse, lather, repeat."

Now this next part might get me in trouble. I know how bad it sounds. 

During our busy seasons, I don't take much time to read the Bible. I know, it can't be hard to carve a few minutes out to read God's inspired word. And yes, as a Lutheran, I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God breathed to the writers through the Holy Spirit. Every single word. This is a conversation for another time, though. Anywho, I seem to put God's word on the backburner. I have a hard enough time dragging my butt out of bed at quarter after 6 in the morning. I can't concentrate on anything for the first hour or so I'm awake. I can irrigate in the mornings during the summer mostly because it's not difficult, and the mechanics of it have been branded onto my brain since before I came out of the womb, I believe. When I come home at night, my brain is also fried. This makes it hard for me to get revved up to read anything. 

Pretty lame excuses, huh? I make it sound like God's word is the daily newspaper.

Starting today, I'm trying to get into another mindset. I read the Bible while I eat my Life cereal. Why Life? Why not? It has lots of sugar in it and it tastes great with milk. I might as well eat a bowl of sugar with milk, but it's been my favorite since I was a kid. I eat copious amounts of it and I'm guessing I get no nutritional value from it. If you've seen me eat, you are probably saying "You're not going to get much read in 73 seconds Ben." Yeah, you're right. I mow my food down. That doesn't mean I stop reading there, though. The act of eating while reading somehow gets me into the zone. I don't really know why. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I'm smashing down the walls of male stereotypes - I can do two things at once! I may have to change my cereal though, because with the amount of reading I hope to do, I will weigh roughly 419 pounds on my Life cereal breakfast diet by the time winter is over. 

I read something in Matthew today. I love to read the sermon on the Mount. It could very well be my favorite passage in the Bible. This morning, the sugar must've gone straight to my brain, because something stuck out to me that never has before. Matthew 5:6 says "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." Now, I hunger and thirst for Life cereal and coffee in the morning, but I don't know that I thirst for righteousness. That little verse hit me like a frying pan to the back of the head from an angry wife (no, this has not happened. I'm guessing it feels real bad, though). Righteousness, from what I can understand, means being free from sin and guilt. We're human. There is no way we can do that. We all understand we are sinful, and only through Christ's love and grace can we be made without sin. 

The question in my mind is - Do I ever thirst or hunger for righteousness? Do I ever attempt to be free from guilt or sin? Do I, on a consistent basis, turn from sin, which causes guilt? I don't think I do. I think I look at my sin and say "I can't, of my own accord, do anything about this sin." Jesus died to take our sins, and thank the Heavenly Father for that. What I'm trying to get at here is that Jesus calls on me to live a different way. Instead of simply accepting His grace, maybe I need to strive to turn from sin in the first place. Now, I know what you're saying - "Ben, we live in a sinful world. Moreover, you cannot be your own savior." Yeah, I know. What I'm saying is there are things that I can work on, things I can remove from my life with help from Christ. I cuss a lot. I drink too much on occasion. I don't always keep my word. My anger controls me sometimes. I say things I know I shouldn't. I hurt people. I judge people. Can I change these things on my own? Heck, no. But God can. He can fill me with His spirit, His love, His grace. If I turn myself over to Him, trust Him, He can help me change. It's not only His responsibility, though. I have to help Him help me. No, I cannot live a life of righteousness, because I am a sinner. Sitting in my chair, listening to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by The Band and typing this is a sin. Eating Life cereal is a sin. That's what I believe, anyway, because this world is sinful. Only by His grace, His love, His crucifixion, can these things be made right, made righteous.

With Christ's help, I can strive for righteousness. Will I obtain it? Only when I die to life in this world and move on to the next. I know that nothing I can do will make me righteous. Only Christ can do that for me, but that doesn't mean I can't work on it. I can work to watch my mouth, the things I say, how I say them. I can work to stop judging my brothers and sisters in Christ and love them, the way that Christ has called me to do. When my temper flares, I can ask God to enter my heart and soul, to help control the anger. Prayer will be, and should be, my constant companion. In all situations, I can call on Christ, and He will help me work through my unrighteousness. It is only through Him that I will have the strength to change.

Bet you never thought a conversation about Life cereal would be so intense, did you?

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