NPR has a Sunday morning show called “How I Built This” that I listen to on my way to work every week. It is an interview with an entrepreneur who has taken a dream and turned it into a multi-million dollar business. For example, last week they interviewed the developer of Stacy’s Pita Chips. Her story was similar to others; she started out running a small pita sandwich business out of a Boston hot dog cart. She decided to cut the leftover pitas, add seasonings, and bake them as chips. She and her partner worked hard on this one, focused idea, living on practically nothing. Eventually they were able to place a small amount of their product in a local “Whole Foods” type store, and it took off. Thus a huge company was born, and ten years after its inception, Stacey’s Pita Chips sold to PepsiCo for over 250 million dollars. Don’t you wish you had thought of it first?? If you are someone who tithes, I do too!
The New Testament offers some suggestions for how to build things:
Matthew 7 New International Version (NIV)
The Wise and Foolish Builders
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Building yourself, your family and your life on the words of Jesus Christ is the way to ensure that you have a good foundation. While the passage refers to all the words of Christ, it is interesting to look at the chapter in its entirety to see which particular words lead up to this statement. Matthew 7 specifically addresses this:
Do not judge, or you will be judged.
Do not overlook the log in your own eye while focusing on the speck in your brother’s eye.
Do not misuse the sacred trust you have been given.
When you ask, seek and knock, God will respond to you in the way you respond to your hungry child.
The way that leads to life is narrow and small. Destruction’s gate is wide open. Choose the narrow one.
There are true and false prophets and disciples all around us. Beware of the false ones, and be a true one.
That’s a lot of foundation to build on, and it’s only one chapter of one book! If we were to just live a Matthew 7 life, what would it look like?
Building our lives on God’s words helps us to shore up our framework so that we can withstand the storms that come into every life. But building ourselves on the Word that IS Jesus Christ is the surest way to stand firm when sands begin to shift under our feet. John 1 reminds us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God.” Centering ourselves in the personhood of Jesus Christ is our best bet against the hurricane. In that way, our deeply-focused lives become lives of fortitude, endurance, and hope.
The only way I know to do this is by full immersion. It is the best way to learn a new language, and the best way to learn a new life. Full immersion means weekly worship, daily Bible reading (congratulations! You have just hammered a truss into place by reading this!), hourly prayer, faithful service, consistent meditation where you open yourself to the Holy Spirit, regular fasting, critical self-examination, repentance, and some self denial thrown in for good measure. You may recognize that list as spiritual disciplines, usually practiced at Lent. Guess what? Lent isn’t a season, it’s a construction tool.
What do you need to do today to strengthen your abode? God calls us to abide in him, and he will abide with us. Start now. It’s always hurricane season in the spiritual realm.
Photo by WUNC.