The world of the adult toddler

It’s funny to watch kids.

A two-year-old typically thinks it’s all about him. If there’s a toy in the room, it’s his toy. If you have something he wants, you should give it to him, and right now would be nice.

Put two toddlers in a room with one toy, and it’ll get ugly really soon.

A kid’s world is very small—just big enough for him and the people who are there to get him what he wants.

I’d like to think we grow out of this, but I’m not sure we do. I think we just express it differently.

Most of us no longer scream or throw ourselves on the floor, and we’re less likely to snatch something we want from a friend (I hope).

But we still struggle with the same issue.

The problem, of course, is selfishness.

Deep down, we think all the toys really ought to be ours.

We like it when it’s all about us.

My spouse isn’t meeting my needs.

My kids never help me.

People don’t appreciate anything I do—my boss, my peers, my family.

Me. My. Mine.

Welcome to the world of the adult toddler. Most of us probably spend too much time there.

Paul wrote: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

You and I could spend the rest of our lives on those two verses, and we’d never conquer them.

Pray about it today. Ask God to help you get rid of self and put him there.

Ask him to help you focus on serving more than on being served, on giving more than getting.

Ask him to shine his light on all the places in your life where self reigns supreme.

And then ask him to put himself on the throne of your heart.

Lost in the crowd?

Our world is unfathomably huge.

The light that bathes the earth this morning left the sun 8 minutes and 20 seconds ago traveling at about 186,000 miles per second.

The distance it traveled—93 million miles—isn’t really that far, though, at least not when talking about the universe. Our little galaxy is just one of billions.

I doubt David knew too much about astronomy, but he had looked up into the sky at night enough to know how incredible it is that in this great big old universe, God cares about us.

I can see David writing this psalm by candlelight on a clear night as he gazed toward the sky:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1-9)

It’s really amazing when you think about it.

About 7 billion people live on this planet, and about 300 million of them live in my home country. We’re all different—different ethnicities, languages, interests, cultures.

We’re tall, short, bald, big, and small.

We’re rural and urban, talkative and quiet, rich and poor.

And God knows us all.

He knows our concerns, our hopes and dreams, our problems.

It’s easy sometimes to get lost in the crowd, to think you’re just a number, that nobody really cares.

But God does.

Go outside tonight and look at the sky. Let it remind you of David’s gazing at those same stars and reflecting on God’s care for everyone.

In a world of billions, God cares enough to know how many hairs you’ve got on your head (Luke 12:7).

In other words, he’s very interested in you.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Are the bad guys winning?

I shouldn’t, but sometimes I look at the world and get a little discouraged.

I see inexplicable violence, blatant perversion, and rampant materialism, and I worry about the future.

Can you relate?

I know they’re not, but sometimes it looks like the bad guys are winning.

I was somewhat surprised recently when I started working my way through the Psalms. I soon realized that I’m certainly not the first one who’s had these thoughts.

They’re all over the Psalms.

Why are you letting them win, God?

What are we supposed to do?

Where are you? Why aren’t you doing something?

Here’s a sample:

In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:1-3).

Did you notice the uncertainty, the frustration bordering on despair?

What can the righteous do?

Maybe you’ve felt like that before. You see signs of depravity in the world, then you look at the church and see too much of the world in us.

Why are you letting them win, God?

He’s not, even though it may look that way sometimes.

Here’s the rest of the Psalm:

The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face (Psalm 11:4-7).

Where are you, God?

“I’m on my throne in my temple.”

What are you doing, Lord?

“I’m watching, I’m concerned, I’m acting.”

Are they going to win?

“Absolutely not.”

That’s a good reminder for us all.

The Lord’s throne is in heaven, David says.

And our King is fully concerned about and engaged in everything that’s bothering us.

He may not act today, or at least not in the way we think he should.

But he’s busy, and he always does the right thing at the right time.

The bad guys won’t win this one.

Chick-fil-A, homosexuality, and Jesus

Well, I ate at Chick-fil-A yesterday, a cozy atmosphere with just me and a few million like-minded friends. It was a small token of support for Dan Cathy’s recent statements about marriage.

With that in mind, I’d like to add a couple of comments to the ongoing moral, cultural, and political discourse—one you’ll probably agree with and one you might need to think about.

Don’t let anyone fool you—marriage, according to God, is between a man and a woman. In the beginning the Bible said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Jesus—not surprisingly—echoed the same conviction: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

People who believe biblical teaching on marriage are being called all sorts of things in the media this week, including the epithets “homophobic,” “close-minded,” and my favorite, “intolerant.”

Isn’t it interesting that the intolerant ones are always those of us who believe in some kind of moral standard?

It’s somewhat ironic that several “tolerant” mayors have pledged to use their influence to keep Chick Fil-A out of their cities, not because the restaurant has discriminatory hiring practices, but because its president had the audacity to state his moral and religious convictions. Perhaps I misunderstand tolerance, but something here seems inconsistent.

You can read an excellent social commentary by Cal Thomas here.

In your devotional time today, pray for families. Pray that God will strengthen marriages throughout the world and that more people will commit themselves to following his plan for the home.

But I’d like for you to think about something else today as well.

Let’s make sure that we’re committed to doing more than just fighting ungodly societal trends.

We’re in the news again for what we’re against.

Let’s also make sure the world knows everything we’re for.

The ideal—as in everything—is Jesus Christ. Wherever he went, he attracted the sinners of that particular community. The prostitutes, drunks, and tax collectors flocked to him, and he welcomed them.

He didn’t approve of their sins, of course—“Go and sin no more,” he told one—but he showed them love and grace and acceptance.

I think when Jesus came to town, he wasn’t known as the Rabbi who came to correct everybody’s sexual practices.

He was known to be both holy and loving, which is why the sexually promiscuous were drawn to him.

So we’re in the news again, and we’ll take a beating from the left-leaning social commentators. There’s nothing wrong with that—it’ll happen when we’re on the right side of an issue like this one.

But shouldn’t we also be known as the people who love sinners?

Can we develop a reputation so that unbelievers—whether heterosexual or homosexual—are drawn to our message about Jesus?

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1-2).

Life’s just too busy

Mary and Martha were like a lot of siblings—they loved each other like crazy, but sometimes they simply drove each other crazy.

Can you relate?

This story about them always makes me laugh—Martha asks the Son of God to help her settle a little sisterly spat.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

Can you envision the scene?

Martha’s working in the kitchen, making sure the beans don’t overcook and the roast doesn’t burn. She’s got sweat on her forehead and flour on her cheek.

Steam’s rising from the stove, and a little is coming from Martha herself.

She’s getting angry.

She keeps glancing toward her sister Mary, who’s doing what?

Absolutely nothing . . . and Martha can’t stand it.

I wonder how long she simmered before she exploded?

What in the world is Mary doing?, she thought. Hasn’t she noticed my slaving over the stove?

Finally she had enough.

“Lord, will you please tell my lazy sister to help me serve?”

You gotta love Martha’s spirit. She was doing what she knew best—serving, working, cleaning.

And I’m sure Jesus appreciated it, but he decided to teach her a lesson I’m guessing she never forgot.

Slow down and enjoy your blessings. Some things are more important than having a clean house.

I can’t think of a more important lesson for many of us.

Your life is ridiculously hectic: bills to pay, diapers to change, carpool to manage, practice to attend, meals to cook, dishes to clean, quotas to meet . . .

It never ends, does it?

Life’s filled with all kinds of responsibilities, and it’s almost impossible to get them all done.

But please hear Jesus: Have you sat at his feet lately?

Have you spoken quietly with him about your life’s joys and challenges?

Have you read his word lately to feed your soul?

You can only go so long at the pace you’ve set without nourishing the part of you that’s most important.

Are you “anxious and troubled about many things” today?

Are you letting the “many things” squeeze out the “good portion”?

Commit yourself—or recommit yourself—to communing daily with Jesus.

It’s possible to be so busy doing the good that we neglect the best.