Posted: August 5th, 2016 |
Filed under: God | Tags: purpose, spiritual abuse |
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Kris Camealy wrote “Captivity”, chapter five of “Soul Bare”. She talks about following God’s call to a private Christian college that ended up being like a prison camp. That kind of disillusionment is not uncommon when someone is following God. He can take you down some weird paths sometimes. They always have a purpose, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re in the middle of it.
As she began to describe the rules at this place I found myself feeling that dark oppression that comes with that part of religion. It has taken a long time to not feel that wolf at my back, but I still recognize his breath. I laughed at the absurdity of what she was describing. Especially when she described how she would push the rules. Those tiny social bubbles of religious oppression can make bright colored tights seem like defiant rebellion. I wonder if she would ever have dressed like that outside of that environment. It makes me think of Romans 7.
For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. -Romans 7:8-10 ESV
I know these subcultures exist, I just forget the details until I’m reminded. That environment creates all kinds of strange expressions from the people within it. It’s an attempt to push the envelope from the inside while still maintaining its legal integrity and mailability. They feel like they’re really doing something, but outside that envelope, they’re completely irrelevant.
Kris is sure that she followed the call of God there, but the twist of His purpose is a message I preach all the time. God uses the funky along with the ideal. Being trapped for a while pushed her to find God in the bowels of that graceless school. He can be found anywhere. Kris gives a few examples of what her take-away, so far, was from that experience. I think it still speaks to her sometimes.
“He chose the pharisaical camp as the backdrop to love me deeply in a way I hadn’t known” (page 43).
You can tell that Kris can still tap into the feeling of that place, and it’s a good thing. It keeps her from losing this amazing gift of having a healthy dose of the Fear of God. Not in the “I’m going to strike you down” kind of way, but in the “I’m GOD.” kind of way. He can use whatever He wants.
I would bet that it also keeps her from being graceless. You know how when someone says “she’s a good one”, with that knowing look, and you know what they’re talking about? That they mean she’s the real deal? I bet people say that about Kris.
Angie Hong wrote chapter six of “Soul Bare”. I’ll write my thoughts on her chapter next.
Posted: August 3rd, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, grace, purpose |
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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.
Posted: July 7th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: grace, healing, hope, purpose, sin |
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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.
Posted: July 6th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, purpose, think |
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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.
Posted: June 12th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: freedom, healing, hope, purpose, think |
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The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. – Colossians 1:5-6 MSG
The Message, in a single word, is Jesus.
We spend too much time trying to pick the right answer and be better than we were yesterday. We create order that trips our freedom and practice self-control while continually failing. Our dreams dangle two steps out of reach and “doing the right thing” is the saboteur. We push to be adults so that we can be better children. Always two steps behind. We try to make our kids who we think we should have been and are disappointed when they’re just like us.
…for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began… – Titus 1:1-2 ESV
He’s our promise.
The struggle is a distraction because the Truth is too simple. We think we’re so wise, outsmarting ourselves like we’re divided Could-Have-Beens stuck in bodies of sin. We ignore the miracle of ever-expanding creation from the microscopic frenzy of cellular production on our skin all the way to the vibrating black matter of the tiny ignored galaxy we inhabit.
For just a moment, turn off the autopilot and look around you. You want something deeper, you want something more meaningful, but you don’t even understand what is right in front of you. You’re not two steps behind, you’re exactly where you’re trying to be. We have to learn to balance micro moments of peace on the cusp of quake.
We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus. – 2 Timothy 1:9-10 MSG
It’s not about you. It’s for you.
If even the slightest glimpse of Jesus doesn’t cast such a blinding light over yourself that you disappear into it, then you’re not seeing Jesus. He’s not the light that illuminates your flaws. You were made for Him and through Him. To Him, you have no flaws.
This offends those who look at people to measure Truth. This angers those who would drag another into the street of public opinion. Those who scream “Heresy” upon hearing the simplicity of the Gospel are speaking to their own unbelief. His “yoke is easy” because He’s already done the work. His “burden is light” because He’s already carried the weight. The ache for more will never go away.
When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee—God can’t break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. – Hebrews 6:17 MSG
He is the source of Truth.
This whole thing is set up so that you can’t mess it up. You can’t make God change His mind about you. Actually receiving the gift, as opposed to just hearing about it, will change your mind about you.
People live flaccid lives feeling shortchanged and forgotten. Their eyes have not yet opened to the always expanding creativity swirling around them. It’s to small or too fast or too vast and they can’t see what they don’t know. There is a life just beyond the mundane and it’s right in front of you.
All of life is layered upon itself, dependent upon the layers below and above. Life has always been illustrated by linked circles of intricate interconnected dependence and beauty. Take, for example, the anatomy of a butterfly wing. A delicate piece of microscopic lace with details the size of a single bacterium is one of several thousand microscopic scales on a single butterfly wing and each creature has four. It aids with light and flight. Chances are, you’ll never get the opportunity to see the beauty outside of pictures, but how often do we stop to look at fluttering butterflies anyway?
But it’s more than butterflies. It’s hidden layers of beauty, purpose, and meaning. Because of the interconnected pushed-and-pushing nature of molecules and the ever more illuminated fact that there is no such thing as nothing and every space is taken up, the unnoticed flitter of a butterfly wing is the response of a series of reactions and is responsible for it’s own set of subsequent reactions. The mid-flight turn of a Chinese butterfly has the potential to shape the curve of an Oklahoma tornado.
Everything that moves has to first be moved. Atoms do not animate themselves. Somebody had to move first. Aristotle’s explanation of God is “The First Mover”.
What is your word?
You are a response to His movement. You are a word spoken by His voice. If you knew that you couldn’t mess up His intricately laid plan what would you do? If you knew He was just waiting to hear your voice, what would you sing?
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf… – Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV
A magnified butterfly scale.
A magnified butterfly wing.
The butterfly effect illustrated by light simulation.