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Impulse, again


Spur of the moment buying may empty the bank account, enlarge the waist, occupy the garage, or dress-up our appearance. Unless it becomes compulsive, however, it's relatively harmless. Impulsive thinking, however, is a danger to our lives, relationships, and commitments. It's one of the reasons Scripture counsels us to guard our hearts and minds. An unguarded heart produces impulsive words and actions. It's manifest most when we speak before we have all the facts, or when we believe everything we hear or read. Impulsiveness hurts others. Mostly ourselves. Paul wrote, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7, ESV).

Here's an example. Years ago we were at a local restaurant. We bumped into some people we knew, though they were more acquaintances than friends. I introduced Harriet to the other people in their party as "My first wife". One of the unguarded hearts in that group spread the rumor that I had been married before. Several weeks later a group of deacons approached me about it. Impulsive thinking had ignited a brush-fire of gossip that caused discomfort for a lot of people, especially the person who started it. Harriet and I just laughed. The joke was on them.

Mythbusters, Snopes.com, and other truth detectors maintain a steady client list because some people will believe anything. Why? It's an onion, of course, peeled lay by layer. At the heart of this cultural anamoly, however, is the personal need for recognition, the drive to publish something first, or be the life saving whistle-blower about a situation. The impulsiveness is, therefore, a self- esteem issue, the need for recognition. As a result, social media has become the infectious carrier of so much dis-information. It's not a value judgment of social media, but of the people who like to light fires. They are truth arsonists.

It's one of the ugly things about the dark underbelly of local churches. Someone told me recently they were sick of church drama. I told them there really is no church drama, but, there's plenty of human drama. Of the 1,700 pastors who leave the ministry every month, not to mention hundreds of church staff members, a good many have been demonized by impulsive talk and actions, the telling of half-truths, uninformed opinions, and unsubtantiated facts. There are, of course, concentric circles that move from this destructive center---a man called of God is marginalized, his family is injured, the church is distracted from mission, and the church's mission in the community is hindered. The blast area just grows.

The heart at peace doesn't need the personal strokes and recognition that impulsive words and actions often bring. When we're at peace we can see, hear, analyze, and react in a more secure and peaceful way. When us mere humans are at peace his church is more missional and sensitive to a dark culture than when we're moving impulsively.

Paul wrote, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1, ESV). It is the season when we herald his birth. Let us also herald his peace.

Merry Christmas!


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