Posted: February 8th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: aftermath, change, faith, freedom, grace |
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I read this recently: “It’s hard to let go of the demons inside. They were the only ones holding you when no one else would.” It was a message written across a photo of a skeletonish looking thing holding the face of a man who appeared to be crying. The person who shared the photo added the caption, “True!” to his post.
I know this person’s story and I know the “demons” he keeps at bay. I also know what he means. What is familiar is more comforting than what is unfamiliar. This is true even if the familiar is pain. I’ve been in the place of holding on to the pain to the point of sabotaging anything that would threaten to heal it. I would do this unconsciously, as a survival instinct, because I knew how to navigate the darkness.
When you grow up the way I did, you learn to pack light. Joy, love, and relationships are all too bulky to carry. They slow you down and ultimately put you in danger. It hurts to lose what you care about, so you try to care about very little. When life starts to settle and joy starts to inject hope in the future, that’s when you pull out the demons to protect you. The drinks, the sounds, and the memories all serve to remind you of who you believe you are and keep you from believing that you can be anything more. You say whatever terrible thing you have to say until you can see your pain in the eyes of anyone who falls for you. And a relationship that dysfunctional is all you’re capable of.
Preferring the familiar is part of the human condition. It’s not a special dysfunctional ability reserved for the strong few. It’s why commercials make sticky songs, toxic products spend tons of money making you feel like you know them so that you’ll bring them home, and people stay in the dead waters when they could set off looking for vigorous rivers. People prefer the ruin that they know to the decay that they don’t. They would rather get hit in the same nerve damaged spot over feeling new pain in a new spot. These people are strong. Some of the strongest you’ll ever meet, but their strength is their abuser, their captor, their own demons, and they might even be smart enough to know it.
I’ve walked through that on my own journey, and I’ve found my way out. I can write about this subject because, instead of finding comfort in not trying, I’ve found the life that I’ve always wanted. I don’t get to reclaim or redo a lost childhood, but I get to break the mold that that kind of hurt forges. Life, I’ve discovered, is in the challenge and the anticipation. It’s still heavily weaved in difficulty and disappointment, but not like the emptiness of remaining the hiding child peering at life through the cracks. It’s possible to outgrow the comfort of familiar demons much like the “normal” child outgrows depending upon his parents. You mature. Like an infant redwood in an indoor planter, your potential is grossly underestimated.
We, “children of Cain”, have an opportunity of which the others are not aware. We have the freedom to create whatever we want. We can stamp down new paths because our old ones aren’t lit. We can start new lives and build new structures because our old lives with its old structures are the products of someone else’s poor construction. We can leave it all behind and let God create something brand new within us, around us, and through us. We are not cursed and neither are our children. What happened to us, as children, is not a reflection of who we are. It’s just something that we lived through.
“Afflicted city, storm-battered, unpitied: I’m about to rebuild you with stones of turquoise, lay your foundations with sapphires, construct your towers with rubies, your gates with jewels, and all your walls with precious stones. All your children will have God for their teacher—what a mentor for your children! You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness, far from any trouble—nothing to fear! far from terror—it won’t even come close!” – Isaiah 54:11-14 MSG
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Posted: February 5th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: faith, grace |
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“No king succeeds with a big army alone, no warrior wins by brute strength. Horsepower is not the answer; no one gets by on muscle alone.” – Psalm 33:16-17 MSG
People who are spiritually asleep prop themselves up with all kinds of false hope. They rely on their intent, knowledge, and upbringing to back them up. They carry weighted scales to measure their sins against the sins of others. They reason with sifted scriptures and manipulated truths. They go into battle not knowing that their tools may be functional for a while, but they’re emptied of meaning at the core. The Kingdom life may, at times, be animated in flesh and blood, but the reality is entirely spiritual. You aren’t really living if you’re spiritually asleep. You can’t be saved by your ability to reason in a religious argument. The sooner you find yourself useless, the sooner you will find your real life.
I believe that every single one of us has a purpose. We are called through our uniquely human and undeniably flawed condition into a meticulously orchestrated and predetermined divine role in the Body of Christ. We came out of the womb with our own predispositions and have been stamped with the damage of our own experiences. None of which is a mistake, an oversight, or a setback. It’s who we are, it’s who God loves, and it’s how we’re going to find (or have found) the Gate to spiritual life.
It grabs my attention when I hear people use the name of God, the gift of grace, and the message of truth to support their lives without crushing under that Name, understanding that Gift, or living that Message. People like that are why I get inundated with arguments against grace. It makes people want to dumb it down so that it’s not misused. I fully acknowledge that people will say whatever they need to say to get them through a conversation that makes them uncomfortable. Those who don’t walk with their Creator through their own Garden of Eden will use His name to support themselves and attack others.
I wish people understood that it’s not about being right or wrong. It’s not flesh and blood argument. Your understanding of the error in another person’s spiritual condition is not used to balance out the error in yours. If you are getting by on the strength of your own understanding, then what happens when your strength wains? If you’re justified by your own ability to argue, then what happens when you reach the end of your logic? You were not created to ever be enough. That’s why you fight this deep vibration of utter loneliness. You need Him. He’s your only hope.
“We’re depending on God; he’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own his holy name. Love us, God, with all you’ve got—that’s what we’re depending on.” – Psalm 33:20-22 MSG
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Posted: January 11th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: change, grace, love wins |
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“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. “ – 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV
We produce a lot of noise. Much of it is lies. Fear, hate, pride, ignorance, jealousy, gossip, bigotry… It’s a crash of sounds that make no sense and bring no life. It’s the smog that clouds out the sun. We’re pale and deficient and have no idea.
Fear steals your breath. It shallows you and keeps you faint. Hate is an excuse. It keeps you from grabbing the responsibility to learn what you’ve yet to learn. Pride is the greatest shortcoming of all. It’s a branch that won’t fuse; a light hidden from the dark. Ignorance is the most frustrating noise. It talks endlessly about what it does not understand. It doesn’t learn because it doesn’t know what to ask. Jealousy is the smashed mirror. It diminishes your beauty, your accomplishments, and it taunts your soul. Gossip is not a bandaid for your wounds. It twists the truth and wrings the beauty of grace and hope out of other people’s stories. Bigotry is a lice infested top hat. It fills the void where self-worth should be.
What if we only spoke of love in the language of love and left all of the ugliness to find someone else to do its bidding? Would the gong soften and the cymbal sing? If the music of love replaced the nonsense of pride, would our lives organize in harmony? I think so.
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Posted: April 26th, 2012 |
Filed under: God, life | Tags: faith |
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”Sanctification requires our coming to a place of death, but many of us spend so much time there that we become morbid.” –Oswald Chambers
When you find yourself helpless to your sinful nature, when you mess up so bad that you want to crawl out of your skin and get away from yourself, when you are screaming for a Savior you thought you understood, but now feel completely unworthy of and alienated from…that is the kind of death that it takes to be free.
It’s not a matter of trying, it’s a matter of helpless fact. When you are begging to be squashed or saved, you are officially “out of the way.” The beauty in the horror.
Those who “add God to their existing ‘good'” don’t have a clue. Those who lose every claim to their own ‘goodness’ are swallowed up by God and have to suffer under the weight of believing in the Unseen Everything and trusting in the Unbridled Anything. All sensibility is contradicted and held together by the Invisible Wonderful that is crashing in on the self-sustained here-and-now.
The spiritual is more real than the so-called reality and the flesh and blood is about to rupture from trying to contain the Uncontainable. It’s terrifying elation. It’s life-threatening Life. It’s the Light that dwarfs the light. It’s the paradox that dumbfounds and ruins everything. It’s the one who says to his lover, “You have ruined me for any other attempt at love.”
God does that. He ruins you for any other attempt at life. He’ll let you resist until you have nothing left. When it’s done, it’s done. He’ll drain you of you and the whole kick about this thing is, you’ll thank Him for it. A person can deny Him until their eyes bleed, but when it’s time, it’s time. There really is no other place to run. Is there?
“First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.” -Jesus in Matthew 8:22
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Posted: April 16th, 2012 |
Filed under: God, life | Tags: faith, freedom, grace |
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There are some things in [Paul’s letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. -2 Peter 3:16-18
The other day I read about when the Israelites said to Moses, “You speak to us and we’ll listen, but don’t have God speak to us or we’ll die.” (Exodus 20:19)
Maybe if we just hear the message from a person, we can reject it without feeling like we’re rejecting God. Human understanding only goes so far, it’s when God speaks and we listen that we can break through. God is speaking all the time. Sometimes He uses people to spread His message.
You won’t be able to break through anything unless you believe in redemption. The story of redemption, which is the story of Jesus, is the key to being able to reach any kind of understanding or belief that leads to faith.
That’s why the message of grace is so important. It’s the story of Jesus before anybody gets ahold of it.
There is a truth that underlines every circumstance and the more you focus on the circumstance, the less you’ll be able to see the underlying truth. That truth is the story of redemption in every single circumstance. We can’t just sit around and congratulate ourselves for not failing like someone else did.
The truth that underlines every circumstance is the fact that every person is on their own spiritual journey to being complete. Until we are complete, our brokenness will surface and need to be dealt with, one broken piece at a time. When our damage surfaces, it looks bad. We fail in our weak points and learn from our mistakes. We need to be a community of people who see the lesson, the underlying truth, and not the mistake. Those who have fallen need to know redemption. People already know right from wrong. They need to know what Jesus did.
The more you know about a person’s failure, the less likely you’ll be able to see the plan that supersedes it. The more familiar you are with the hopelessness, the less likely you’ll believe in the healing.
The underlying truth is the plan of healing.
It’s scary to open up to the message of redemption because it always causes a death to self and a response is required. “Don’t have God speak to us or we’ll die.”
You have to think about these things. If you’re really in this for the Truth, if you really want to get to the heart of God, then you have let go of all the parts to your ‘self’. It’s an abandon. You’ve given up some, but you have to give up all. You have to allow Him to expand on the parts you think you already know. You do know some, but, you only know in part. This journey of faith is one of learning and growing.
We learn and grow in faith, and we learn and ‘grow in grace’. We are given ample opportunity to grow in grace. Failure is everywhere.
You have an amazing purpose. You won’t be able to fulfill it until you know what it is to ‘grow in grace’. Take up the side of grace. Refuse to be a pallbearer in the burial the accuser has orchestrated. That’s when you’ll break through. That’s when you’ll know what it is to be free.
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