Earlier this year I wrote something huge. I wrote a list of 25 planks I have stuck in my eye. (Matthew 7:3-5). I wrote down my planks and then promptly hid them in a file on my computer vowing to never show anyone. Well, “the time has come” as Effie Trinket says. God is nudging me to confess my 25 planks to the world. So here is my list exactly as I wrote it a couple months ago, yet ever-pertinent to my life. This week: planks 6 through 10.
6. Stop Stupidity.
26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
11 Fools give full vent to their rage,
but the wise bring calm in the end.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.“
As humans we have the tendency to do stupid things, say stupid things, and just be plain stupid. I’ve made plenty of stupid decisions. All of my stupid decisions were made by me, from me, and came out of me, all by myself. The inclination that I can handle things on my own is stupid.
Think before you speak. Think before you act. Think before you react. We are the light of the world. We are a city on a hill shining brightly in the darkness of this world. If you are glowing like a lightbulb in a dark room, don’t you think everyone around you will be watching your movements? This is how it is to be a Christian. Our actions tell our true intentions. Everyone is watching to see how we live and how we act to determine if we are trustworthy and truthful. Stop being stupid, invite God into your decisions. The world is watching how you anger, how you act, how you react … and so is God.
Today, invite God into ALL of your decisions.
7. Stop Forgetting.
25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Psalm 77:11-12 (11-19)
57 You are my portion, LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
11 Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
1 Chronicles 16:11
Stop forgetting you are human and you are going to make mistakes. Stop forgetting to put God first. Stop forgetting to pray. Stop forgetting you can ask for guidance. Stop forgetting to read the Bible.
Stop forgetting you were not made for here.
You are a soul.
You are a soul temporarily stuck in an earthly body.
Stop forgetting you are a child of God. Stop forgetting that Jesus didn’t just die for you, Jesus died for the guy sitting next to you too. Jesus died for everyone, including the person who cussed you out yesterday. Stop forgetting why you are here. Stop forgetting your purpose. Stop forgetting your gifts. Stop forgetting to spread love.
8. Stop Distractions.
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
There are so many material items in our American world, it is easy to go an entire day without consciously thinking about needing God. It’s as simple as that. Stop the distractions that prevent you from needing God. Rely on Him. Need Him. Want Him. Long for Him. Be broken for Him. Hurt for Him.
Today turn off your TV, your computer, your phone. Meditate. Spend time finding God.
9. Stop Quitting.
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
I have good intentions. I want to read my Bible everyday. I want to devote quiet time to meditate with God. It inevitably happens that I begin the commitment and then things fall apart. I become too busy. I would rather watch TV and do nothing with my exhausted brain than try to read some scripture that is difficult for me to understand.
If I forget to do my laundry one week, I have no underwear to wear when I need it. If I forget to read my Bible and spend time with God, I default to relying on the wrong things to get me through the tough times. Stop quitting the good stuff just because you become too busy. Make reading your Bible and spending time with God as necessary as doing your laundry. When your laundry piles up, think about how it might also be time for a 1-on-1 session with God.
10. Stop Pretending.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9
12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:12
We are all human. We all have problems. We all hurt. We all fall short. We all fail. Stop pretending to those around you that your life is perfectly tied up. No one has a perfectly wrapped up life. We are meant to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Confession is the first step to banishing the facade of fakeness. Stop pretending you have it all together. None of us do. Open up to your friends and family. Take these 25 “stops” as my confession. Each step is something I am actively trying to change in my life. 1 John 1: 8-9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Today, open up to someone about your struggles.
Stay tuned next week for my Planks 11-15.
All verses quoted are from the New International Version of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.