I Ate All the Blueberries

Sorry honey, they are all gone. I guess we will just have to get more…

This last Saturday my lovely wife and I took a trip to Costco for the free samples. While we were there we also did some shopping. My favorite purchase of the day was a 2 lb. box of plump, juicy, mouthwatering blueberries.

Now, I know what you are thinking. What did we need 2 lbs of blueberries for?

We needed them for eating, of course!

So, over the next few days, I did just that. Eat blueberries.

I ate blueberries so much so that earlier today, I actually found myself typing the words, “how many blueberries is too many blueberries?” into the Google machine.

I was happy to read the very first sentence my search produced. “When it comes to fruits, you can’t go wrong with blueberries.”

The article went on to talk about serving sizes and whatnot, but at that point, I didn’t care anymore. I got the answer I was hoping for and that was all that mattered to me.

“You can’t go wrong with blueberries.” That phrase was really the only thing I remember reading because it was really the only thing I wanted to see.

And that got me thinking, we as humans tend to be harmfully selective in our fact-checking. Often-times many of us will only focus on what we want to hear and see while ignoring the rest of the facts. The results are an incomplete picture of the truth. And an incomplete truth is a complete fallacy.

In this case, I stopped reading the health article because it’s first sentence justified my actions. I didn’t feel guilty gorging myself because, in my mind, the article told me it was “o.k.”

This seems like a really silly example but the underlining problem, for many of us, can be much more harmful.

Selective and biased fact-checking has led to the rise of “fake news” (from both sides, by the way.) Media outlets run stories that are designed to make us either feel good about ourselves or to be outraged at someone or something else. All this is done in an attempt to allow us to justify our feelings towards those topics or people. Remember, an incomplete truth is a complete fallacy.

Or to put it simpler, a half-truth is a total lie.

Incomplete facts often lead to wrong actions for wrong motives. That’s why the Bible, in 1 Thessalonians 5, tells us to “test everything” and to “hold fast to what is good.” The instruction is there because we humans have a tendency to so easily be led astray by “nice” sounding half/incomplete truths. That’s why we need to always be doing full and unbiased fact-checks in our lives.

So, here is a list of things/people that you should always be fully fact-checking:

  • Your Facebook feed. (Do I really need to explain this one…)
  • Your favorite pundits. (Don’t get tunnel vision.)
  • Your friends. (Even people who love us can accidentally lead us astray.)
  • Your family. (Even people who love us can accidentally lead us astray.)
  • Your Pastors. (Even people who love us can accidentally lead us astray.)
  • Your own heart. (Jer. 17:9- The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.)

My final thought as I finish this final handful of blueberries would be the most important one: we need to be fact-checking against the backdrop of the Bible. The Word of God is everything we need for life and godliness, (2 Peter 1:3) and God has given it to us for our benefit.

If it doesn’t line up with the truth of the Bible, then it is an incomplete truth…and we all know what those are.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:8-9

What’s In A Name?

I recently was having breakfast with a very good friend and he asked, “So, why do you call your blog “The Sidebar? What’s the meaning behind it?” I explained it to him and now I feel as though this would be a great time to explain it to you as well.

You see the definition of a sidebar is something along the lines of a ‘thing’ that is written, spoken, or given in addition to something else. Let me put it this way, have you ever been talking to a person and all of a sudden, a thought pops into your head and you interrupt yourself? Something like, “Hey, look at that beautiful German Shepherd—by the way, did you know that German Shepherds are the second most popular dog in America?”

This additional information usually is connected to the original thought and provides helpful details. In websites and newspapers, sidebars help to support the main articles and provide a roadmap for reading the whole issue.

Sidebars are secondary to the main point but helpful nonetheless.

So, why would I want my blog posts to be secondary to something else? Because the Word of God is always the primary, everything else comes after.

If you read and enjoy my posts, praise God! That’s awesome! I am so glad and thankful that you take the time and effort to read what I put together. But please, and hear me on this, please don’t let these Sidebars be a substitute for the real thing, for the main thing. The main thing is and needs to always be the Bible, God’s written word to us. His love letter to us, the people He created.

Psalm 119:9-11 is a passage that is a good reminder of why we ought to be soaking in the Bible on a daily basis.

“How can a young man [or young woman, or old man, or old woman for that matter] keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

We read the Bible in order to draw us closer to God, to keep us from sin, and to guide us in the way of life. The incredible man, D.L. Moody is credited as saying, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

It’s called The Sidebar because it is secondary to the main thing but still helpful. There is another reason why I chose this particular name.

Have you ever sat down with a friend to enjoy coffee and some deep conversations when all of a sudden something that is said catapults your mind in a completely different direction? You begin talking about one subject and by the time you walk away the conversation has changed topics a dozen times.

If you are anything like me then this probably happens to you a lot. It’s not a bad thing. People and things remind us of other people and things. One idea makes us think of another related idea. It’s just how our minds work.

That is the goal behind a Sidebar. As we face various situations, issues, and events may our minds would be continually drawn back to the truth. What if everyday situations would cause us to focus, or refocus, on something relatable and far more important. What if we continually related the real-life situations we face with the real-life biblical truth. These connections between everyday events and the truth we find in God’s Word are not hard to make when we allow God to work in our lives.

Romans 12:2 challenges us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I hope that this quick little Sidebar in your day has drawn you to focus on the incredible God who loves you and the awesome Word He has given you. That has been and will continue to be the goal of this blog.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8

When You Just “Can’t Even”

Okay, I know the title of this sounds like something a teenage girl would text to a friend after finding out that there is homework due the next day, but hang with me for a moment.

From all that I have been able to deduce the phrase “can’t even” can be equated to saying, “I’m emotionally dumbfounded.” In fact, according to the internet, the phrase is used when a person has so many emotional responses to a situation that they just can’t even comprehend what is going on.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of many different situations where I have been left emotionally dumbfounded. Life is full of circumstances that are hard and confusing and, if we allow them to, they weigh on us so much until we can’t even stand it anymore. Often times we allow our anxieties and stresses to rule over us.

So, what do we do when we just simply can’t even?

We need to trust that when we can’t God can.

Jesus literally gives us the answer here in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Additionally, 1 Peter 5:7, reminds us that we ought to be, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Why should we go to Him when we are burdened? Because He can give us rest. Why should we cast our cares and anxieties on Him? Because He cares for us. Why should we lay our burdens down? Because He can carry them with ease.

Another thing that we need to realize and remember is that emotions can be tricky things. Emotions are good things that help us connect to events and to one another. I feel as though I can’t overstate this, emotions are not bad, it is ok for you to feel how you feel. However, with that being said, we need to understand that emotions can be very misleading. So, when we are in the midst of a highly emotionally charged situation it is good to take a step back and refocus on the truth that we know. Emotions can change from day to day or even hour to hour, but the truth always remains.

God is true, and His Word is truth. Next time you feel like you just can’t even take a moment to step back and run to the Bible for help, support, and direction. I use the word “run” because I want to convey the urgency in which we should be going to read our Bibles. 1 Peter tells us that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. All the answers and wisdom we need can be found in His love letter to us. His Word is literally a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm 119:105)

In addition to running to God’s Word, we should remember that we can talk to God faster than we can text a friend or update our status. Prayer is so much more than a list of rote phrases that you repeat for different occasions. Neither is prayer a performance where you try to wow others by your “talking to God skills.” No, prayer is much deeper and much simpler than that. Prayer is communication with God. That statement is so very simple and yet incredibly complex. The God of the universe who holds galaxies in His hands and breathes life into being- is the same God who cares enough about you to listen to your smallest and silliest requests. To Him, your request and burdens matter because you matter.

I thank God for Philippians 4:6-7 for summing everything up so perfectly. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We are promised that when we take our burdens to God, the peace of God (which by the way, surpasses any and all of our understanding) will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That is incredible! When we are emotionally dumbfounded, when we are at the end of our rope, when we just can’t even, God can and will give us peace.

So, next time that you feel overwhelmed just remember; when you can’t even move forward, find the answer, deal, cope, reason, feel, or understand…God can.

Find your rest in Him.