Content or Complacent?

This morning our lesson in Sunday school (or for the modern church they are called Weekend Groups) we discussed a passage in Philippians about being content.

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:10-13New International Version (NIV)

While the passage focuses on being content no matter what our human situation is, the lesson made me think of two things. First what is the difference between being content and being complacent?

lazy manBoth definitions include the phrase “being satisfied”.  The difference is that the definition of content indicates not needing more and complacent includes not wanting more. I agree with the author here that when we fully rely on God, we can be content in all earthly situations that come our way. But what I wonder is if we get complacent, do we stop seeking Him? Do we stop stretching ourselves in order to grow in our faith?

The other thought I had was about the things God doesn’t want us to be content with. This list would include the eternal. I don’t think he wants us to be content with where we are today in our faith. We should always strive to grow more in our faith. I don’t think He wants us to be content with our current knowledge of His word. The Bible says to meditate on it day and night. I don’t think He wants us to be content with how strong our witness to others is today. Every person we encounter needs to see Jesus in us.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:3 – 8

Can we do all of this perfectly? Never. But at the end of the day, when we fail in our human efforts we take comfort in the fact that His mercies are new each day and the words of Paul in second Corinthians 12.

But he [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 New International Version

Be encouraged.


There is Hope

There were several ideas I worked on for this week but nothing that excited me. Today, January 29th, it was a windy, cloudy, humid, balmy 67 degrees and so I strolled the yard to see how th20130129-220506.jpge garden was wintering.

There among the dead remnants of last summer’s colorful splendor, I found hope for the coming spring. It seems the tulips have peeked out to check out the situation for further growth. The site brought immediate encouragement that in spite of the crazy weather — up and down temperatures — the renewal of spring will come.

So, my friend, take a deep breath and relax, the gray blustery, non-snowy winter will serve it’s purpose and move on at the insistence of spring’s arrival.

All the best,

Gardening in the spiritual sense

Many times on Sunday afternoon after church and our family lunch, Jay will retire to a nap, Cole to the couch for relaxing with some TV and I head for the yard.  Some might call what I do, “yard work”, but for someone like me who works in a professional setting, climate controlled office 40+ hours a week, it’s much, much more than that; even though I end up hot, sweaty and very dirty.

I like plants and flowers and have garden areas in the front and back of our home.  It’s still absolutely amazing to me to plant a seed or small flower and watch it grow.  Isn’t that amazing?  Most of the time while pulling weeds or trimming I think about the sermon from that morning, our Creator and this earth He gave us that we so readily consume without a second thought.  Sometimes I think about all my questions for God, like “are weeds that bloom really weeds or just misplaced flowers?”  Today, I planted mums (.88 cents at Home Depot) and my trees from the Arbor Foundation (   Today I thought about the legacy of gardening I’ve inherited.  Family legend has it that my MaMaw Bray could poke a hole in the ground with her finger, put a stick in it and grow a tree.  My mother is a gardener and gave me something close to a stick with roots last spring assuring me if I put it in the ground I will have a Butterfly bush.  I did what I was told and sure enough there grew a Butterfly bush that was very busy this afternoon.

Being outside trimming and cleaning up the garden reminds me of how we should constantly be aware of how God nips and prunes us to become the beautiful person He sees when He looks at us.  At the end of my time outside I usually turn on the hose and give all the flowers a drink, hose down the sidewalk and my feet.  What a wonderful site and fresh smell; completely natural.

Ok, so to top it off, I like to mow also.  In fact, I’m a little sad that my son is getting old enough and motivated (by the pay) to want to mow.  It’s like getting a haircut.  You start out a little unkempt and in an hour you have a clean, well-manicured look and feel.  The same holds true for your lawn.  Within a short time (and even when you don’t edge) you have a tidy looking yard.  To make mowing really appealing in today’s vernacular; it’s pretty much instant gratification.  There, I said it.

Coming in from the garden I am sticky, dirty, and if I’ve worn a cap it’s pretty much sweat-plastered to my head until I’m safely in the bathroom where no one can see the mess of my hair.  I always feel my cleanest after a post-gardening shower.  From a dirty mess to clean and fresh, huh, pretty much the point the pastor was trying to make.

Think about it,


8 Days Later

Today is January 8, 2011.  We have tasted the new year and have stepped back into our post holiday schedule; work, school, life. There are 357 days left in 2011, what are you going to do with them? What do you WANT to do with them?  We are completely guilty of burning entire days on nothingness.  Ok, so there are “have-to’s” in every day.  We have to work to provide for our families.  We have to take care of our families, because we love them and they need us.  There is great joy in the responsibility of family.  But what about those other hours of the day we blow on TV or video games or mindless cruising of the internet. (I’m not opposed to mindless wandering of the internet if that’s what led you to read this.)

Consider for yourself the meaningfulness of your life.  Is the content of your days like a fruit salad? Light and tasty but it doesn’t stick with you long? Or are your days meaty.  You know, do the experiences of your day stick with you or even change you?  Yes, I said the “change” word.  Some would say they are too old to change.  Ok, so let’s try on the word, grow.  Are you ever too old to grow spiritually, emotionally or intellectually?  Let me help you here, NO.  This life thing we are on is a journey.  The people we meet, the books we read and the experiences we have should change us; help us to grow into the person God wants us to be.  How much more interesting are we as individuals if we broaden our horizons beyond the water-cooler mindless droning of our medias?

Like a recipe for a good meal, we have to be purposeful in adding the ingredients that will give a little bit of sweet, a little salty and the meat that will stick and build us up.  To be purposeful, we have to understand what we want in the end.  We need to know what our goal is. For me, the meat of my day usually comes from something I’ve read, heard on the radio, news articles or talking with someone smarter than I. 

My overall goal or mission in life is to make a difference.  At the end of the day, week, month, year or my life, all I want is to make a difference.  So, each year I write personal goals that lead me spiritually, professionally and intellectually.  It is well known that goals are more likely to be met when they are written and reviewed daily.  I write goals every year, but I only review them every now and then.  Yes, many of my goals are accomplished but not all and not the big ones.

Hopefully, the few minutes you have invested in reading this will pay you returns.  My goal is to leave you hungry for growth and change.  Find that spark within you that will foster your motivation.

Happy New Year, friends.  I look forward to our year and the many adventures we will have together.  May you and your family have a healthy blessed year.

All the best,


New Year and New Lessons sermon from Dave Stone, Southeast Christian Church, listen and be inspired