Opera Not Opra

opdivaWhen you think of going to the Opera, you may think of classical music and orchestras.  In Norway, people think a bit differently.  To them and a growing number of the computer literate, the meaning of Opera has changed.

Opera is a sweet technological melody that flows from a company that’s based in Norway.  This pioneering developer has introduced a new version of its desktop computer browser that incorporates an enticing feature.

The software engineers at Opera have written their code, so it automatically blocks annoying spam and unwanted advertisements. This allows the web pages to load faster, and it creates a web environment that has increased privacy and security.

The need to turn down unwanted noise and unhealthy distractions is nothing new; and, the root of the problem may be your innate nature that can be as curious as it nosy.  As someone one once warned: Curiosity killed the cat.

A frantic, unfocused, and undisciplined life will eventually lead to a life that is physically fatigued and spiritually exhausted.  This is one reason Moses prescribed a practical solution to the curious needs of the Hebrews:

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. ~Deuteronomy 6

The purpose of frontlets is to prevent a horse from getting spooked or Blinkers.french.6-23-13.BL_distracted and to keep it focused on the road ahead.  Moses said God’s Word will do the same for you.  Godly principles act as Opera’s ad blocker: They filter out the unwanted and unnecessary noise of the world, and they create an environment that is in harmony with His will.  



The Hum of Sweet Harmony

egoIt seems to me that friction and factions are striking a note of discord much too frequently.  Everyone is asserting their rights, and no one is willing to play second fiddle.  As a result, society has lost the sweet sound of harmony.

This is evident whether you are looking inside of the church or outside of the sanctuary, and it was one of Paul’s major concerns when he wrote the letter to the Philippians. Paul knew that sweet songs of harmony are sung in the key of humility.

Humility is the love song of the church, and Paul penned the lyrics in the second chapter of Philippians:

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.  Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.~ Philippians 2:1-4

One verse of this song seems to summarize all of it: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”

A good understanding of humility is important, so I encourage you to give a little thought to these wise words :

  • C. S. Lewis: Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
  • Thomas Merton: Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.
  • Andrew Murray:  Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.
  • D.L. Moody:  A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility

The difference between the genuine and the counterfeit, is the difference between a juice harp and the music of the Boston Pops.  One is noise, and the other is the hum of sweet harmony.

You can listen to the difference for yourself by clicking on each of these words: Juice Harp and Boston Pops.

Opportunity is a Port of Unity

opportunity tagsIt’s a verse that I think is intriguing, but not because it is full of mystery; not because it is difficult to understand; but, because it is so rich in meaning: “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).”

I saw something for the first time the last time I read this verse. It is the word “opportunity.” If you section the word, you can see it: OP-Port-Unity—Our Peace: Port of Unity

This is the opportunity that Paul spoke of when he wrote to the Ephesians and said: “Jesus is Our Peace (OP).” He was discussing the law and grace with Jews and Gentiles, and he said the peace of Jesus is the Port of Unity:

“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace (Ephesians 2:13-15).”

Two chapters later, Paul emphasizes the importance of the peace we have in Jesus:

“I urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us (Ephesians 2:2-4).”

Look at the Op-Port-Unity principles in Colossians 3:12-17:

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

Instead of looking for what is wrong, use this week as a time of opportunity to focus on Jesus as Our Peace (OP) and to become a Port of Unity.

Psalm 37 or Scripture Guitar-Players Hate

There are three times in Psalm 37 where we are told that we should not play the guitar. This statement is supported by the three words found in verses 1, 7, and 8: Do not fret.

If you notice the diagramed picture of the guitar, Fret-Diagram2you can see that frets are an important part of a guitar. To be a skilled guitar player, the musician finds fretting to be an essential.

Well, I guess it’s time to let the guitar-players off the hook. The fret on a guitar is a noun, and the word “fret” as used in this Psalm is a verb.

Fretting, as used in Psalm 37, is the idea of a smoldering worry or anger that becomes a consuming blaze. You probably know someone who frets over most decisions or every item of life in general. They are consumed by anxious attitudes and worry.

In this Psalm, David gives Five Facts to Free us from Fretting:

Fact #1: Trust in the Lord, and do good” (Psalm 37:3). This is a heads and tails coin-like approach: Heads is the intellectual side of the coin that involves trust (Psalm 118:8-9). The flip-side of the coin is tails and it is the practical aspect of doing good (Romans 12:21).

Remember this as TRUSTING and TASKING. The trusting is an attitude and the tasking is an action. The moments of worry are managed by the movements of your heart, hands, and feet as you do begin the task of doing good.

Fact#2: “Delight thyself also in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4). It is impossible to be a delight-er and a fright-er at the same time. The idea in the Hebrew is to pamper yourself in God, and this accomplished by polishing the heart with the principles of God’s word (Matthew 6:33).

Fact #3: “Commit thy way unto the Lord” (Psalm 37:5). This is the decision to “choose the way of truth (Psalm 119:30-33).” To follow this thought, contrast the commitment of Demas in Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:10.

Fact #4: “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). The prophet Zechariah captured the meaning of this when he said: “Let all people be silent before the Lord, for He is coming from His holy dwelling (Zechariah 2:13).” Focus your thoughts on the majestic power of God and not on the circumstances of life.

Fact #5: “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath” (Psalm 37:8). The idea is to turn from the burn. Make the conscious decision to focus your attention on something else. FRET

As I’ve said before, I like to read The Message for its devotional value. Notice how it phrases this verse: “Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes—it only makes things worse. Before long the crooks will be bankrupt; God-investors will soon own the store.”

You can grasp the principles of Psalm 37 by becoming verb-conscious and embracing the relationship as seen in the graphic to the left.