Posted: June 11th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, freedom, grace, healing, hope, hurting, love wins |
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This is for the one who feels like God is against you.
Your inner thoughts are eating you. Watch me recite them.
With God against you, who can be for you? The hopelessness of life unecessary. No self-esteem mantra can reroute the negativity. No wins of the past can outshine the current crippling state. Every bad thing that sprouts up and eats the good is God using evil to devour evil. The anxious heart, the guilty sweat, the poisoned blood, – you walk with steps condemned. Everything you do is wrong. Everything you say is used against you. You avoid starting because you’ll ruin it before it’s finished. You’re weak with hopelessness. You’re old with tears.
This is for the one who feels like God is against you.
His inner thoughts can save you. Watch me recite them.
“God is a safe place to hide…” -Psalm 46:1 MSG
This is my index finger beckon. Come here. Come hear.
“Jacob-wrestling God fight for us, God-of-Angel armies protects us.” -Psalm 46:3 MSG
When you talk about God, does He sound like this?
“River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from the crack of dawn.” -Psalm 46:4-5 MSG
This is my index finger pointing. Look at this.
“Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says.” -Psalm 46:6 MSG
I’m getting ready to run into the morning sun. I can’t recite His inner thoughts and sit still like this.
“Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.”-Psalm 46:7 MSG
Can you see Him? It’s Spring. Things are blooming. He makes it easy for you that way.
“Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth…” -Psalm 46:8 MSG
Are weapons raised against you?
“[He] breaks all the weapons across his knee.” -Psalm 46:9 MSG
Are you running from the santuary to find Sanctuary? (It’s okay.)
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”-Psalm 46:10 MSG
I have to go now. But, I’ll recite the rest before I leave. You have to know He’s fighting for you. He’s fighting for you so that you can play for Him.
“Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.” -Psalm 46:11 MSG
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Posted: June 10th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, freedom, grace, hope |
26 Comments »
“Yes I have to agree Sin is Sin God will open his arms and forgive us for our sins but recall the lady who was accused of adultery Jesus told her to go and sin no more. We get only so much time to get this thing right it is better to learn Gods ways and will and try to live right then to take the chance of going to hell.” -A Reader
I heard a quote the other day that said something like, “Only trust people who are searching for the truth. Never trust those who think they know the truth.” Those who are searching for the truth will be wild with wonder and retain that which is most corroborated. They won’t alter evidence to support their version. They won’t shut down an argument when it’s not going their way. Those who think they know the truth are no longer in awe. Their eyes no longer glimmer. They are biased and closed off.
Why fear information and experience? Unless you’re afraid that what you believe is not the truth, there is nothing this world can do or say that would take it away. Living in closed minded fear wreaks damp with saddness. Like a child trapped in the body of an old woman, that kind of fear echos hollow with life unlived.
“Yes, I have to agree. Sin is sin….”
Is sin, is sin, is sin.
“…God will open His arms and forgive us for our sins, but…”
What is this “but”? There is no “but”.
“…recall the lady who was accused of adultery. Jesus told her to go and sin no more.”
Caught. She was caught in adultery. Naked as sin.
“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”-Jesus, John 8:11 ESV
This woman, prior to her experience with Jesus, had no question about her worth, her future, or her sin. She knew what she did and she knew she was worthless. There was no way out. Jesus brought up the sins of her accusers and then, it seems, left her fate in their hands. They did not have the authority to kill her so they had to back down. Jesus had the authority and he used it to make sure she knew that he didn’t condemn her.
“Go and sin no more.”
He wasn’t warning her. He was freeing her.
Go and sin no more. Sinners see it as a prescription for behavior. Saints see it as a proclaimation over them. She was a sinner. There was no question. He set her free to live clean again. He gave her a do- over. He forgave her and he set her free. That’s what “sin no more” is. It’s setting her free.
“We only get so much time to get this thing right…”
Even if we were given all of eternity to “get this thing right” we would fail. If we could “get this thing right”, then Jesus would not have had to come and do it for us.
“…it is better to learn God’s ways and will …”
You can’t learn God’s ways.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”-God through Isaiah 55:9 ESV
What would you do even if you were able to know God’s ways? Start playing God?
Never trust those who think they know the truth.
The pride of man is constantly trying to acquire independence from God. They want to know what He knows so they can be like Him.
“…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing…”-Genesis 3:5 ESV
“…and try to live right than to take the chance of going to hell.”
It is a superstitious and fearful faith that believes it’s all up to the person’s ability or a gambling chance.
Was the sacrifice of Jesus just a flimsy idea and the rest is left up to chance? How small has Jesus become when we’re in a world with people who have so little certainty that they go to bed at night not knowing if they were good enough?
Your salvation is a signed, sealed, and delivered promise and it is not left up to chance. It’s not left up to your goodness or your ability to stay away from sin. The only sin that can destroy you is the sin of unbelief. All the other stupid things you do are already taken care of.
He doesn’t condemn you. You’re forgiven.
Go, and sin no more. You’re free.
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Posted: February 4th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, faith, grace, healing, purpose, sin |
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“In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you.”-Isaiah 49:8 ESV
You speak like you’re in-between two lives: the old and the new. You refuse to enter the new because you’re still hanging on to the old. You think you can only enter the day with defeat because you’re still making yourself pay. Every hard thing that is thrown your way is viewed as a consequence to your sin.
You’re not going to move on from this place with your suitcase of truth only half packed. You can say all the right things, but you don’t believe a word of it.
You pull yourself up by the scruff of your neck and you make yourself go through the motions. You read that devotion, you listen to this podcast, you do that fast, you write those words. You do all of these things thinking that God will come and rescue you. You think He’ll restore what was before so that you can feel whole again. What if the end of an era is God’s answer to prayers you don’t even know how to pray yet? What if you have been rescued, but it doesn’t look like what you thought it would look like?
The rescue is past-tense. It’s waiting on you to have the revelation.
You can reject God by clinging more to your version of restoration than to your faith that God gets what He wants.
Does God get what He wants?
The only way you can move on to your new life is by believing that the consequences of your sin have a greater purpose. A purpose that has nothing to do with being a constant reminder of your sin.
What entity would want to constantly remind you of your sin?
What if God has you exactly where He wants you? Life is a journey and you are a pilgrim. You’re not at any destination forever. You are only where you are, and you’re only there for a moment. Discontentment blooms when you think you are forever paying for and suffering from your sins.
The faithless work the garden of Second Best.
They say: “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” -Isaiah 49:14 ESV
How can you know God and believe that you are a prisoner of your own Second Best? You are where you are for a reason. Reason can never be found by looking at your sin. There is no truth to be found in the damage of flesh and blood.
You have to look at everything as though God has a plan because God has a plan. It’s Jesus. You have to look at everything trying to find where it leads to Jesus. It’s your only compass. It’s the only way you’ll know what the truth is. He’s the Truth.
It’s all riddles until it’s not.
I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ -Isaiah 49:8-9 ESV
God is cultivating your life. He is getting rid of the parts of you that keep you from being who you were called to be.
You were called to be something. You wouldn’t be here looking for Him if you weren’t.
He is positioning you in a posture that induces passion where there was once apathy. Sometimes the best way to induce passion is to insert a thorn. If you’re tugging at the thorn, then you are looking at this all wrong.
I know how bad it hurts. I’ve been there. I’ve attended the funeral of my own potential. You’ll be in this spot until you can see God in it.
You’re a conduit.
When a pipe isn’t functioning, you dismantle it, flush it out, and rebuild it.
Are you dismantled?
There exists a consequence twist. It’s more than the suffering. It’s also the release. There are three consequences that will make your head spin. One, you can see more clearly. Number two, blind people avoid you. And, three, you have a new passion.
Do you understand this? Your life will be one that says “to the prisoners, ‘Come out’” and “to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’”
One of the consequences of your sin is the newborn passion for the failures. You now have an acute awareness of the difference between the voice of the flesh and the whisper of the Spirit. You know the difference between the light and the dark. Those who once had a voice in your life, the ones who would now torment you, are far from you.
Do you think that’s a coincidence?
“Surely your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land—surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.” -Isaiah 49:19 ESV
They think you are too far gone and they will not join you. They’re unable to handle the failure of others with patient grace and unending mercy. They are wrong. Why would you want them by you? God has positioned you, using your own consequences, to keep their lies from pinning you down with their doubt and holding you back from your purpose. “Those who swallowed you up” are “far away.”
Thank God for that.
What’s more? The twist that sends this whole thing spinning into reverent wonder is the fact that it’s because of your failure. You are removed from their influential doubt and enabled by grace to march into your purpose because they are too afraid of how dirty you got.
Because of your failure, you know how to find those who are buried.
Everything will come together. It’ll all make sense at some point. Stop wishing your thorn away. Wear it like a crown.
“Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples, and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” -Isaiah 49:22-23 ESV
His hand is poised, the signal is ready. Your children have been lifted, the march has begun. You will not be put to shame.
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Posted: January 30th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, think |
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I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. -Revelation 2:2 ESV
When you first believed, the truth of the Gospel was fresh. It was easy to spot those who had no idea what they were talking about. It was like being lost and suddenly finding the way home. The embedded code, once a frustrating mystery, was now clicking and you never turned away because it was still speaking.
I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. -Revelation 2:3 ESV
But then others came along and started telling you that what was setting you free was not real. They said you were cherry picking your information and focusing only on what would give you life while ignoring what condemned you. They said you were out of balance and walking a thin line that teetered on heresy.
You began defending yourself and questioning everything just in case they were right. You backed down from the beatings and got caught up in the “better safe than sorry” doctrine. People pleasing got a little too important. It’s a hard road to travel and even harder with a target on your back. It feels like they’re all waiting for you to mess up, so you shrink to obscurity.
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. -Revelation 2:4 ESV
You have abandoned the love you had at first because people got in the way. You spoke out about grace and love, about Jesus and His finished work, but they opposed you and you backed down.
He’s calling you back to the front lines because this fight was never about being liked or approved. It’s about screaming the gift of Salvation through the incessant buzz of religion because there are people dying in their own skin. There are people who don’t know that they, too, can come to the cross.
It’s confusing and bizarre to see self-proclaimed believers guarding the cross of Christ as though it were a trophy for the worthy. It’s more confusing when they are the very people you thought you could trust.
You got sidetracked by the shiny facade of the spit-polished and veneered. You get more approval for looking cleaned up than you do for resting in the promise of justification and the gift of righteousness. Too many are calling out your flaws, making it harder for you to trust in your relationship with Jesus. It’s easier to trust in your relationship with them.
Who said this was going to be easy? Jesus was killed for the Message. What makes you different? They may not burn you at the stake, but they can make you wish you were if you care about what they think.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. -Revelation 2:5 ESV
Remember the mystery you were chasing before you started caring if you were approved. Repent: see the struggle as part of it, not evidence that you were crazy.
Come back or risk falling asleep like the others. Preachers can end up preaching about preaching. Writers can end up writing about writing. Artists stop creating and start talking about creating. You can get so caught up in what you’re doing that you abandon what you’re doing to focus more on the “what” and not on the “why”.
Your “first love” is the “why”.
If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. -Revelation 2:6 ESV
If you lose your light, then you’re just like everyone else who talks to hear themselves talk.
Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. -Revelation 2:6 ESV
The best I can understand about what this last verse refers to is that the term “Nicolaitans” refers to the hierarchy found within religion. I won’t say much about this because there are only two verses in the Bible that use the term. But, using the Greek meanings of the words, the essence is that people have a relationship with the church, but not with God. They believe what their religion tells them to believe without question. With this in mind, a hierarchy removes the need for a personal relationship with Jesus, risking the belief that salvation is granted to those who practice their religion correctly. This leaves a person vulnerable to believing a false doctrine. This is why God hates it.
It makes sense if you remember that God sent Jesus as a means to having a personal relationship with His people. If His people abandon their trust in Him for their trust in their religious leaders, they become exposed prey for the father of lies. He’s the accuser and the destroyer.
Repent: turn around. Go back to your first love. If your religious community is after Love, then you’ll all be there together anyway. You aren’t wrong if you abandon the hierarchy that watches over you with a critical eye. You’re clearly wrong if you abandon the truth that saved you in the first place.
Do you have a little fight left in you?
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ -Revelation 2:7 ESV
Don’t be afraid. Put your shoes back on…
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” -John 14:1-7 ESV
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Posted: January 29th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, freedom, think |
13 Comments »
From the time of my youth, my life has been lived among my own people in Jerusalem. Practically every Jew in town who watched me grow up—and if they were willing to stick their necks out they’d tell you in person—knows that I lived as a strict Pharisee, the most demanding branch of our religion. -Paul in Acts 26:4-5 MSG
I think that those who have the hardest time trying to understand grace are those who have grown up going to church. Second to that are those who were discipled by these people. There is a reason for the ‘de-churching’ movement that has been rolling around for the last several years. People are figuring out that they, in all of their religiosity, are missing something. Well, they are missing something. Some of these people need to be deprogrammed and rebuilt.
It’s hard to know when you’re off track when you spend all of your time surrounded by like-minded people. There is no real challenge or eye-opening experiences. If you are challenged, it’s to be more of the same. To be the best at being the best. One of the most effective means to remove the scales from someone’s eyes is to let them fall flat on their face in spite of their death grip on their own holiness, but that’s a product of the mystery of God’s sovereignty. In all of that effort to be the holiest, they’re completely losing touch with a world they’ve been called to season. They alienate people with their lack of compassion and depth. They’ve lost their salt.
I’ve often thought that going to church does more damage to the free Spirit than not going at all. It’s hard to find a church that is full of people whose spirit is busting from their flesh. It’s much easier to find a church so full of bodies that they have to expand their walls. It’s hard to balance the politics of a functioning business against the diversity of a growing spiritual community. We can see evidence of that without even trying.
I’ve been approached by Christians who claim that the Spirit is breaking the mold and calling people to live outside the walls. I tend to resist the message of people who make sweeping claims about the movement of the Spirit. My view is that time will tell the whole story.
I’ve also heard people complain about churches they deem “seeker friendly”. They say that they aren’t being fed and they’re looking for something that is a little harder on them. They need a list of criteria. They need to feel condemned so that they can adjust until they feel holy.
My experience with churches deemed “seeker” is that they don’t wander too far from the basics. Those who are bored with the basics need to realize that they are bored with the simplicity of the Gospel. They’re bored with Jesus. We’re supposed to take the basics and let the Spirit cultivate those seeds into a wild frenzy of personal discovery. You can’t let other people do your thinking for you. You aren’t going to get life from rules. You’re going to get life from belief.
Use your own brain to engage the Spirit in a dance of critical thinking. Use inductive and deductive reasoning, then do your scriptural research to find the answers.
I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me. -Jesus in Paul’s Damascus road experience in Acts 26:17-18 MSG
How can anyone open the eyes of another when they’re in their own religious bubble of trying to be the best at being the best? Any self-help theory of personal discipline can offer the same standard without any input from the Gospel. Until you understand that the Gospel turns the demands of religion on its head and makes any attempt at holiness useless, you’ll never get in on the real mystery of the gift of Jesus.
Using deductive reasoning, you can look at the results of your own life and begin the journey of tracing it to the cause. In spite of doing everything right, people still feel dead inside. They’d never admit it to their peers, but they know that their hearts don’t burn inside them like the scriptures say it should. They’re missing the revelation that ignites the fire. They bypass Jesus because they think they should be further than that. Like a girl who cuts herself to feel real, they tighten their chains of religiosity until it hurts.
They think that the simplicity of Jesus is for baby believers. You can’t bypass Jesus to find a life on fire because Jesus is the fire. You are not meant to go beyond Him. You’re meant to be engulfed by Him.
“We have met countless “Bible-believing Christians” who would say, “Yeah, Jesus is Lord and Savior. I got that T-shirt a long time ago. But we must now mature, go deeper, and go on to other things.”
Go deeper? And what “other things”? Other things beyond Christ?
…The person who believes that a Christian or a church can graduate beyond Christ has never fully seen Jesus…” -Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola in ‘Jesus Manifesto’
Using inductive reasoning, you can look at the Gospel and explore the implications until you die. Take the facts that scripture clearly spells out and stop trying to make it harder. The offer is “sins forgiven”, “a place in the family”, and “real life” through belief. The moment you try to graduate to something harder is the moment you walk away from the Flame that burns with life in the heart.
There are no stipulations on “sins forgiven”. Sin is sin and they are all accounted for in the offer. Of course people know better. That’s why it’s sin. There is no stipulation on “a place in the family”. That decision was made long before you were born. There is nothing so terrible that you can do that would nullify the gift. Believing that makes something shift inside of you. It changes the core of who you are. That’s why there is a stipulation on the offer of “real life”. That stipulation is belief. Your core becomes Jesus and nothing else.
Those who don’t believe continue to strive for something they will never achieve. Defeat is at the end of that treacherous climb.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). There is no defeat because Jesus conquered every weapon of destruction (John 16:33, Isaiah 54:17). He told you that He accomplished what He came to do and when you believe that, you can’t walk away from it (John 19:30, John 6:37). You can’t move beyond it. The only thing left for you to do is to spread the word (Matthew 28:19, Acts 26:18).
photo credit: www.pedestrianpeople.com
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