Posted: November 17th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: change, faith, freedom |
No Comments »
If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.– 1 Peter 3:13-18 MSG
Your own journey can take you through some weird places. Maybe places you never knew existed. You hate that you care too much what other people think. You let it guide you for too long and you start to notice that you’re not being you. You’re being some overworked, overextended, translucent version of what other people want of you. In this case, they’re your opposition. They are between you and who God called you to be.
You already know that you should be focusing on Jesus, but we get that idea messed up, too. You lose your vision a little and He starts turning into something on a checklist instead of your perspective. You reduce Him to “should”.
You alter yourself to meet the expectations of others because you’re not being honest about where you are on your journey. You think that if you’re not like everybody else, they’ll think something is wrong with you. Maybe it’s time that you try to articulate why you live the way you live. Form a complete thought, an elevator pitch, about this place in your journey. You’re there, so you should be able to look around you and glean the wisdom of a clear conscience.
You don’t have to defend your reality with God when someone else’s reality looks different. You, do, however, have to be ready to respectfully speak up about it. It’s okay if people oppose you when your conscience is clear. You’re so worried that they’ll judge you that you completely miss an opportunity to be a voice that echoes God’s to them. They could end up learning something from you.
“Journey” by electroncloud
No Comments »
Posted: October 28th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: change, faith, freedom, grace, hope |
7 Comments »
“For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith.” – Hebrews 4:1-3 MSG
I see people wearing guilt like a weighted suit or an iron scarf. You wear it like it’s the only thing connecting you to your faith. You know you’re not as good as you should be, so at least you can feel bad about it. You are wrong, but not in the way you think. Think of all the ways you know, for a fact, that you’re not living up to your moral standards and understand me when I say that all of those things are not what is keeping you from a relationship with God.
I understand the fear associated with being a Christian. It’s the fear of “being disqualified”, and it is such a thing. People are capable of being disqualified. It has happened before, to the Israelites, and it still happens. This passage in Hebrews is talking about being disqualified from “rest”. It’s the kind of rest that pulls you toward God’s goal for you. God talks about people who fail to “receive the promises with faith” when He says this:
Exasperated, I vowed, “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.” -Hebrews 4:3 MSG
God was exasperated because He had already done His part. It’s Jesus. Our part is to believe it and then to rest in it. But some fundamental breakdown in the faith department causes people to miss the “rest”. The promise is still out there, though. And it has no expiration date…
God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today… -Hebrews 4:7 MSG
The question I asked myself at this point was, “What does ‘rest’ mean?” As translated, it is talking about putting something to rest or causing it to cease. The ESV translation uses the phrase “Sabbath rest” when talking about this “rest”.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. -Hebrews 7:9-10 ESV
Stephen uses the same word and meaning when quoting God in Acts 7. This is the message that got Stephen stoned.
“Heaven is my throne room; I rest my feet on earth. So what kind of house will you build me?” says God. “Where I can get away and relax? It’s already built, and I built it.” -Acts 7:49 MSG
God rests, but where?
We’ve always set aside a “House of God”, even to God’s specifications. Moses made a tent, Solomon made a temple, and we build them on any available street corner. They get bigger and bigger. They become a tax free business, get declared “holy”, and become filled with bodies on a specific week day. Many of them are even done to God’s specifications. But God does not live in a “house” made by hands. He never has.
Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands. – Acts 7:48 MSG
God does not live in a building. So where is He on Sundays? Or Saturdays… (whichever your “Sabbath” happens to be)? This is where I ask what “Sabbath” actually means. According to Vine’s, the Old Testament’s regulations were such a burden that the “Sabbath” was a time to rest. It was a time for people to “rejoice”. But, like everything else, religion got it’s hands on it and shrouded it in regulations. It was, and still is, so off that when Jesus didn’t recognize the rules layered over the gift of “rest”, He got called out as a sinner who “broke the Sabbath”. There is no specific day. That’s a construct created by people.
This “promise of rest” is a “perpetual Sabbath” (Vine’s). It is a perpetual time away from the burden of Law and the freedom to rejoice. Believers enter a perpetual Sabbath through faith. People who do not believe, do not rest. It’s the only way to get disqualified. They wear suits of guilt instead of the bare skin of freedom.
God doesn’t live in a certain house on a certain day. This doesn’t mean that going to a place of worship on specific day every week isn’t beneficial or even your act of obedience. Romans 14:5 and Galatians 4:9-10 both recognize that this is how some people express their faith. But putting rules around it and policing people with fear, disclusion, or guilt is completely wrong. It’s evidence of unbelief.
God lives in us and the Sabbath is every day.
7 Comments »
Posted: August 3rd, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, grace, purpose |
Comments Off on private act of worship
In the timeline of being a human driven to find purpose and leave some sort of beauty in my wake, I’ve found that it’s mostly bored waiting and frustrated effort. I want to spend all of my time hunting the mysteries of Truth, but my days are filled with the business of taking care of my responsibilities. Working all day to move an inch forward.
Being a human in a technological era is a new terrain of life comparisons. People are still overcoming the tendency to believe everything they see. It’s all written and photographed to mold your thoughts or guide your decisions. Staged lives can make people look like they’ve figured out something that you haven’t, but it’s all play acting for branding and sales.
“Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”– 1 Samuel 16:7 MSG
Don’t let anyone groom you into thinking that they have something you don’t. Don’t believe everything you hear, no matter how polished the delivery. Some of the most beautiful flowers are never seen, the best talent never shared, and the best ideas never heard. Your worth is not determined by the way your life looks on the outside. Be who He’s created you to be as a private act of worship.
Comments Off on private act of worship
Posted: July 7th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: grace, healing, hope, purpose, sin |
2 Comments »
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him… – Hebrews 2:8-9 ESV
This scripture makes clear the sovereignty of God and the human inability to really get it. God has put everything under the control of Jesus, leaving nothing out, and we walk around with the illusion of control. There’s this underlying belief that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to those who must be doing something right. The language of the Bible expects its readers to not have to question the authority if Jesus. The Law put us all on the side of “wrong” and Jesus put us all on the side of “justified”. The people who wrote the Bible understood that you wouldn’t be able to make the ends of what you know and the beginning of what you don’t know meet. They show you Jesus and that should be enough.
Life is not linear, but we make judgements and attribute value as though it were. When we’re weighing the truth, our minds dig up some nasty dirt to test against the limits of His jurisdiction. Like we’re trying to convince ourselves that He’s not really who He says He is, we think of the worst things imaginable to try to see if it matches our idea of what the God we know would allow. It brings up existential questions about His goodness, or lack, and we wonder, if God is in control… then why do bad things happen?
Life is multidimensional. There is so much that we don’t see.
A straight line of cause and effect is rudimentary, but we fail to think past it. The second dimension adds height to the length, third dimension adds depth, and the fourth adds time. That’s where we live our reality and even with that, there are too many cause/effect variables and outcomes to be certain about anything. What we understand makes up our reality. When you are surrounded by people who agree on the reality, then you have a group. But, having a group of people who agree on a reality doesn’t make it true. It just makes it manageable. The reality that exists beyond our understanding goes much further into more dimensions.
You don’t have to understand all that. You just have to see Him.
Instead of conjuring up stories that you’ve heard from a distance, just focus on the ones you know first hand. Think of the bad things you’ve done, the broken parts of you that enabled it, and the healing that took place once you could no longer hide them. Sin makes you own the broken places like fruit makes the farmer acknowledge the roots.
My husband is mowing the lawn while I type this. My daughter and I are sitting outside with halos of clover flowers in our hair I picked them before he mowed because it all looks the same until it grows. Sometimes you don’t know you’re dealing with weeds until they bloom. I think Jesus allows your sin so that He can heal your roots.
You only know your story, and is scripture true in your story? You don’t know the eternal view of your own sin, much less anyone else’s. Is God in control or are you? Scripture backs everything up with the identity and finished work of Jesus. Scriptures expects for Him to be enough.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:9 ESV
Don’t doubt the power and authority of Jesus just because people are experts at hurting one another. You might not see or understand all that is under His feet, but you know Him. He experienced death in every single person’s place. Because of this, God has given him authority over absolutely everything. There is nothing left to lose, no price left to pay. It doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen…, it does mean that the story isn’t finished unfolding.
2 Comments »
Posted: July 6th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, purpose, think |
3 Comments »
Life is boring between the highs. You have to learn how to be in your own company and get used to hearing your own thoughts or you’ll always be a follower, a consumer, or an impostor. People and circumstances can be frustrating and you have to learn how to be self-contained enough to not be pulled in. It can seem like everyone else is living a better life while you’re stuck in your own monochromatic existence. We want what they have, but they want what someone else has, and so on. Eventually you have to stop looking for the elusive source of the so-called happiness because it’s a dysfunctional fantasy-chasing cycle. You’ll never be satisfied because you weren’t meant to be. Not here, anyway.
I read and article recently that said it’s a good thing to let your kids get bored and figure out what to do about the “nothing” on their own (1). The author argued that boredom breeds the opportunity to be creative, self-motivated, and helps them discover their ability to influence their world. Too many structured activities stunts the development of their own problem-solving self-direction. It hinders their ability to set and reach their own goals because someone else, a coach/teacher/leader/parent, is always making the plans and setting goals and snowplowing obstacles for them.
I don’t feel so guilt-ridden seeing my kids sink into summertime boredom. I know that eventually they’ll make ridiculous videos, bake cupcakes, or paint their nails for the seventh time that day. I also know that they end up getting on each other’s nerves and arguing. It’s annoying, but it, too, is an important way to train for the rest of their lives.
Constant stimulation dulls the senses and makes people forget how to think. Always looking at someone else will only make you less satisfied with you. People fill the gaps of knowledge about others with positive attributes the the point of absolute fiction. We don’t even know we’re making stuff up and then getting jealous of it. Nonstop activity helps people avoid being in their own company, or from facing the fact that their best is someone else’s average.
The endless flow of incoming information drowns out the silence in the soul. Dress-rehearsal highs are planned and documented, but the real play gets called off. Filters make it look cooler. Everyone’s trying to keep up and one-up the other. I’m not saying that everything is a sweeping facade, but you know the unsettling feeling of a paid-off touchdown when you see it.
It’s like watching herd of sheep follow each other’s back end. “He makes me lie down in green pastures…” (Psalm 23:2). What if one of them just laid down in the green pasture?
It’s a loss to drown out the silence because creativity, spirituality, and purpose speak there. People treat minors like majors because they’re not comfortable enough to walk beside still waters. They sensationalize the tiniest moments because they’re afraid that’s all there is.
Most of life is spent being patient. Don’t let people fool you into thinking they have it better than you. If they did, you wouldn’t know about it.
Don’t bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked. In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings and wilt like cut flowers in the sun. Get insurance with God and do a good deed, settle down and stick to your last. Keep company with God, get in on the best. Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. Quiet down before God, be prayerful before Him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top. – Psalm 37:1-7 MSG
Try listening to the quiet within you.
1. Gold, Sunny S. (July/August 2015), “How to Be a Better Parent”, Scientific American Mind, p. 11.
3 Comments »