Posted: April 18th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: change, faith, freedom |
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Just because you say you are a thing, and present yourself as a thing, does not make you that thing. You must first find that thing stalking you in the secret spaces of thought and knocking on the doors of your intent. You must turn inward and meet that part of you as an act of submission rather than fabrication. You can be anything you want, but until you are no longer mimicking the identity, convictions, and practice of others, you are not anything. The genuine does not use others as products for consumption. The genuine knows how to create.
The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it’s not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! – Romans 10:4-5 MSG
When you study the movements and habits of others as a means to make them your own, you procrastinate your own journey. You shortchange yourself. Deep feelings of inadequacy are keeping you from getting to know yourself. You can’t fake your way into being someone of substance. You can’t follow enough rules to make it real. You only attract others who, like you, don’t know where they’re going. You surround yourself with people who want to be someone and never know that they already are.
But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story—no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying? The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest. It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. – Romans 10:6-9 MSG
Stop running from your own quiet. You’re not missing out on anything because what is going on out there is not yours. You can’t keep taking and taking, all the while expecting no one to notice that you’re just regurgitating someone else’s ideas. Where is your fruit? Show us your creation.
You can’t do this on your own. You’re making people want to avoid you. Spend more time breathing in the already present God. Breathe out all the tension and angst of someone with no vision. Leave the frustration of a desperate wannabe behind as you cultivate your own garden. Water your own grass. Find your own path. Let the organic righteousness of God fold you into His mysteries and weave you like thread into something uniquely beautiful. Maybe somewhere down the line you’ll meet up with like minds instead of trying to consume the minds of those you want to be like.
This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” – Romans 10:9-10 MSG
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Posted: April 11th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: freedom, grace |
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One of the most noticeable things that enters my head when I’m starting to write a blog are the loud voices of people who have to downplay grace. They’re the ones who are afraid it will make you think you can go ahead and run blazing naked down the shiny streets of sin. I think if someone want to do that, and if they are reading the word of God, then they aren’t waiting for God to give them permission to sin. They’re looking for loopholes.
Maybe people aren’t scared of the actual words, but of the interpretation of the words. But, if you’re understanding the Gospel correctly, it looks as though a person can do whatever they want to do and get off without punishment.
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. – Ephesians 1:7-10 MSG
The person looking for a loophole is law-focused. The person looking for a new life is Christ-focused.
There is no condemnation, no punishment, no hell to pay, or penalty owed. Not “for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans :1).” You’re also not the same person that you were when you were behaving like a hedonistic animal. When you receive the grace of God, you are raised from spiritual death. Justifying your behavior is no longer your focus.
The death is like a blindness. You live in a small bubble of “gotta get mine”, “YOLO”, and “God made me like this, so it’s must be okay”. That blindness leads to horrid behavior that brings death to your real self and feeds the death of those around you. You can’t climb over the fence of Abundant Freedom and strut around like people don’t know you’re covering your death suit with sheep’s wool. You may be loud, you may know the words, you may even get people to nod their heads when you talk, but you know that you were never baptized in the Blood of the Lamb. Christ’s sheep know his voice. If you’re gorging on the mutual sustenance of flesh, they can smell the lies on your breath when you’re claiming the Inheritance of Freedom.
We were all “made like this”. We were all blind and unaware of the Kingdom. Your flesh is its own handicap. Like anyone else, you can use it to reduce expectations, or you can accept the specific calling that comes with the condition. Those who have been raised from their own death by the Grace of God are no longer the masters of their own life. They’re raised to be soldiers, warriors, conduits, vessels, and hands. They’re the charged chemicals of the activated synapse. They’re the energy field around the Truth. They’re lights in the darkness, beacons on a hill, and they do not spend their light shining it on themselves.
That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country. – Romans 6:3-5 MSG
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Posted: April 8th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: divisions, freedom, grace, think |
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When I talk to people about the downfalls of organized religion, I often find myself in the company of people who have their own anitreligion religion. If that makes sense… I’m talking about people who create their identity, form their own language, and get really intense about being antireligious purists and rejecting organized religion. I am someone who will move when it feels honest to move. I don’t feel the obligation to perform procedural behavior just because it’s a Christian behavioral norm, so that makes me look a little more liberal than I actually am. It also, strangely, makes me look more religious than I actually am.
I recognize and even respect that there is an important role in the sense of community that people find when they go to church. As an introvert, I spaz out a little at the thought of obligated social interaction. Especially when it pertains to something so vulnerable and, consequently, emotionally charged as faith and spirituality. I acknowledge the need for the organization, especially for people who don’t necessarily read their Bible on their own. I’m not saying that all people who go to church don’t actually read their Bible. I’m positive there are lots out there. But, sadly, far too many don’t.
It’s like the people who are most politically vocal around major elections don’t even vote when the election day arrives. Being religiously vocal around religious topics is no guarantee that the person talking actually reads his or her Bible. It’s strange to hear people bring up the sins of others to neutralize or diminish their own. They wouldn’t need Jesus if that logic worked. It’s unsettling to hear someone talk about the grace of Jesus in the context of their obviously sinful lifestyle. The grace of Jesus doesn’t allow sin, it changes the identity of the sinner. The people who claim to be Christians, but deny Him in everything else are both in the church building every single Sunday and out of it. Both butcher the words of people who are on their own journey toward Truth and make every path look like a path full of hypocrites.
Going to church doesn’t make a person a Christian. It’s not even a criteria. However, in some countries and cultures, it’s a hard fought gift. In others it’s a right of passage. For many, it’s a break from the rest of their lives, and for others it’s their job. I don’t downplay the experience because of what it means to so many people. The worship and the camaraderie are two of the highlights I hear people talk about the most. When you refrain from the pressure to perform and when you resist the trap to conform, don’t make antireligion your religion. If the over production of the sacred is what keeps you from standing near the fog machine, then accept that within yourself without judging someone else’s love for the entertainment. Don’t bad mouth people just because their journey looks different than yours. Antireligion is not better than religion and religion is not better than anti. However, freedom is better than any of it because that’s what Jesus won. Your choice is your freedom, just like their’s is their’s.
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Posted: April 6th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: advice, faith, freedom, grace |
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Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” – Romans 10:11-13 MSG
So many people are living lives divided between the seen and unseen. They feel alienated by what they’ve led others to believe and trapped by what they try to hide. We’re not designed to be able to carry on the facade like that. It’s an internal battle of self-hate and it won’t be long before the battle spills into the streets of your life. It’s not because you’re not good at hiding, it’s because you have a purpose that requires you to be whole and intact. It’s only a matter of time.
It’s hard to believe that there can be life after a dark secret is revealed. The lie that owns the darkness is that Love will abandon you if you tell, so you spend all of your time trying to fix yourself before anyone finds you out. But your secrets are a prison and lies are the warden. I have escaped that cell and can tell you that you can trust God to not let you fall to your spiritual death once you jump. Every part of this experience is crafted with precision to make you who you are called to be. You can trust Him to handle your worst. Embrace the experience with absolute assurance and you’ll live to worship Him for all of it.
Secrets make you smaller.
If you’re not man or woman enough to own your choices or to stand up for your behavior, then ask yourself in that moment: What part of Who-I-Want-To-Be is being sabotaged by Who-I-Really-Am? Your secrets aren’t serving you, you’re serving them. It’s not like you’re actually accomplishing anything lasting. It’s just veneer. Honesty is what will align you with your purpose. Even if your purpose is to break you before it’s built within you. If you think that you’ll disappoint God with your secret shame, you don’t know Him at all. God is in your hidden spaces communing with your hidden self. He knew all about your shame before you did.
Keeping secrets is like swallowing a slow-release poison.
If you’re only as sick as your secrets and not acknowledging it is like trying to protect a ticking time bomb. It makes no sense to put that much effort into something that is bent to destroy your facade. I know from experience that what is hidden doesn’t feel as real as what is exposed. But, …
You’re not hiding it as well as you think you are.
You can’t have the hidden life and the public life and be present in both at the same time. But, we’re not created to function as separate parts. That would be a psychological disorder. And a person with that legitimate disorder would tell you that the whole person is unquestionably affected by the separate identities. You’re not protecting your life from your secret. You’re protecting your secret from your life.
Everything gets found out.
If the holder of the secret is the one who lets it go, then that is one less offense against him. The guilt is released as you release yourself to the process. This is the moment by which your faith is defined. It’s reveals the ultimate question about what you think happens to people like you. I’ve submitted myself to that process, had to face my own version of that question, and should have been crushed. But, I wasn’t. I was placed up higher so I could be shown much more. Grace is ridiculous when you forget what Jesus chose to go through to accomplish it. You couldn’t possibly out-sin the forgiving power of the cross.
Not all secrets should be revealed.
Some things are better left behind. As long as you are really leaving them behind.
When all is said and done, only the truth remains. Whoever you really are is what will be left. If you’re really your hidden self, then make yourself known. If it is your public self, then stop protecting something that’s going to mess everything up. Your purpose is calling, and it wants all of you.
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Posted: April 4th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: faith, grace, hope, love wins |
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Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. – Isaiah 30:19 MSG
I heard a story about Herbie Hancock recently. For those of you who know his name from Tommy Boy, he’s actually an amazing pianist. He started his career playing for Miles Davis. In 1963, a Miles Davis concert was taking place in Stuggart, Germany. The band was playing the song, “So What”, when 22-year-old Herbie accidentally played the wrong chord. It threw the entire song and band off. He sat there cringing because he knew he was making himself and the band look foolish. But, Miles immediately changed his own solo and played a series of notes that made the sour chord sound right and make musical sense.
Not only does this illustrate the genius of Miles Davis, to take a mistake and make it sound like a Miles Davis song, but it also illustrates the humbling generosity of that genius. As someone who has played albums of sour chords, I can’t help but see the parallel between what Miles did for Herbie’s mistake and what God does for mine.
God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. – Isaiah 30:23 MSG
Miles didn’t let Herbie drown in shame and God doesn’t let us, either.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. – Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG
If you’re flailing in your own mess and wondering how God could redeem the situation and you, don’t let your faith fail. He makes art out of disarray. No matter where you go, He is there, making your path straight and urging you on.
Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” – Isaiah 30:21 MSG
God is before us, preparing the way. He follows behind us, making it right. We think we’re messing it all up, but He’s playing music. Anyone who knows what it’s like to be rescued from their own shame knows how biased he is toward us. Anyone who has walked through the blood of Jesus into the open spaces of grace knows how thoroughly he showers us with undeserving purpose as he waters our choices and produces life from our certain death. Anyone who knows, sings. He plays his solo and we sing the song he’s made of our lives.
But you will sing, sing through an all-night holy feast! Your hearts will burst with song, make music like the sound of flutes on parade, en route to the mountain of God, on the way to the Rock of Israel. – Isaiah 30:29 MSG
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