What happens when you get sick?

Many of my friends have missed work or church this month due to illness. In fact, I received texts from an ill Bible study group member on my way to church last night. January seems to start the season when all the respiratory viruses swirling through town find the weak spots in people's defenses. We're busy. We're tired. We ate poorly during December. Soon we're all sick.

So what happens when we get sick?

1.  We avoid others. We don't want to share our germs, so we put ourselves under quarantine until we're no longer contagious. We call in sick at work or skip school or sleep in another bedroom for a few nights.

2. We channel our energy toward self. For good reason, we focus on fighting our own fatigue and discomfort so we can get well. (The obvious exception is parents who are living the "Dads don't take sick days; dads take Nyquil" commercials in real time. Been there. Done that. Kudos to you all.) When we're sick, our schedules and priorities change. We try to table our plans and delegate our responsibilities so we can hang out on the couch and give our bodies time to rest and heal.

3. We expect to get well. We take our meds, possibly see a doctor, and look forward to feeling better.

Bottom line, we do what it takes to get healthy, and hopefully, the lifestyle changes don't last long.

Change this scenario to the arena of spiritual health though, swapping chronic sins and addictions for the flu, and we see two similarities and one big contrast.

What happens to the spiritually sick believer?

1. Spiritually sick Christians avoid other believers. Spiritually sick people rarely serve. They don't exercise their spiritual gifts. They don't want to join others in worship. And they don't reach out to believers who need their help or encouragement.

2. Spiritually sick Christians focus their attention on themselves. They don't have the emotional energy or spiritual stamina to help anyone outside of a close friend or two, so they don't try. They stay on the couch, so to speak, distancing themselves from their former priorities and valuable ministries.

3. Spiritually sick Christians may or may not get well. Sometimes they don't seek outside help through the Holy Spirit or another believer. Sometimes they don't open their hearts to the healing power of prayer and God's Word. If they decide they don't want to feel better, they often retreat to the couch permanently.

As children of God, one great goal for 2015 is spiritual health. Will we do what it takes to avoid chronic sins, maintain (or regain) a Christ-like mindset, and build our spiritual stamina? Other believers are counting on us. Christ's kingdom work is waiting for us. Let's make a commitment to stay off the couch this year.

Thursday – January 29, 2015


See joy!

For several years, I've signed my emails with the words "See joy." But what do those words mean?

Christopher and Melodie Lane, authors of Christ in the Carols, shared this explanation in their devotional on the familiar Christmas carol, "Good Christian Men, Rejoice":

To rejoice literally means to "see joy," or to be delighted. The joy that this song asks us to see is Jesus. He is the source and object of our joy, for in him we find our delight. No matter our circumstance, Jesus, our joy, is ever present, never changing. Therefore, we will always have reason to rejoice.

Above all else, Christmas reminds us that we have a reason to rejoice no matter how many highs and lows we've faced during the last year. I don't know your situation, but I can testify that 2014 has been a roller-coaster year for my family. Frankly, I'm exhausted, but I haven't lost my reason to rejoice because Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow.

When we look past all the gifts and hoopla of this week, we grasp the true meaning of Christmas: Jesus came to be our Savior. God is with us. No matter what happens in 2015—whether good or bad, whether mourned or celebrated on Facebook, we'll be able to look at our circumstances next year and see joy.

And that truth, my friends, is the best gift any of us can receive this Christmas.

Tuesday – December 23, 2014