Archive for May, 2008

14
May
08

the very thing we need most

Sometimes we avoid the very thing that we need the most.

I have been avoiding exercise recently. I know that I need it. I know that it will make me feel better. I know that it will help me in just about every way.

But I still avoid it. And I know better.

I find that sometimes people avoid relationships that can really help – God filled relationships that make us better as humans.

But sometimes we avoid the very thing that we need most.

There are a lot of reasons to avoid real relationships.  Getting to know people is not very efficient at all.  Try being efficient with people and see how much it endears them to you.  It just doesn’t work.  I had to learn how to be efficient with tasks but effective with people.

Effective relationships are filled with “wasted time”.  I have 2 daughters and I’ve found that the only way that I can get quality time with them is to have quantity time with them.  It doesn’t come easily.  You can’t just walk into people’s lives and expect to have depth without taking the time to get past the barriers that we all put up.

Isn’t it interesting that the way that God decided to reveal Himself to the world was to show up on the earth and hang with 12 guys for 3 years.  (and many more people at different levels)  The passages of Scripture that we read about are the quality moments in the midst of quantity time.  They go together.

Relationships are made rich by the time together.  There’s just no other way around it.

When we gather to worship, it’s the consistency of showing up that creates the dramatic moments of change.  Yes, there are divine moments that transcend all of this, but we will miss many more “Aha” moments of revelation if we are not consistent in coming together to worship and celebrate His goodness.  It may sound like a “go to church” line, but there’s a truth to it.  The moments when the celebration seems dead and dull we are not aware that the pathway is being built toward a moment of breakthrough.  The quantity is leading to the quality.

But sometimes we avoid the very thing we need the most.

09
May
08

grace under pressure

There is a great quote from C.S. Lewis that states “Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.” (The Problem of Pain) It’s another way of saying that it’s in the irritants, the things that don’t go our way, the ways that life can corner us that we come to personal discoveries of what our internal makeup REALLY is.

I remember as a guitar instructor how many new students would tell me that they were great players. Then I brought out the great equalizer for new musicians – the metronome. The frustration that they faced as they tried to keep up with that click, click, click was a lesson in where their skills truly lay. I feel the same way about my spiritual walk; I would be doing great if all the circumstances would just line up to my agenda and get out of my way. But they don’t – and that’s the point.

The apostle Paul talks about his qualifications to be an ambassador for Christ. Here is the resume that Paul considers relevant:

Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

2 Corinthians 11:23-29

It was the places where things didn’t go well that Paul uses to validate his ministry. In other words, we become more aware of the reality of grace when things don’t go our way than when things do. A friend once said to me, “Don’t pray for the boldness of a lion when you keep placing yourself in rabbit situations.”

Add to that a God of whom Scripture states loves us with a jealous love. He loves us so much that He will pull down anything that stands in the way of a relationship with Him. He will deliver us from a spirituality that feels good in isolation but won’t stand up to adversity. He loves us so much that He watches our raised hands in worship, listens to our self righteous boasting of our love for Him, then He throws a wrench in our plans to show us how much of our spirituality is hype and how much is real. It’s God’s love that places us in situations that make us question, that demands answers that our current views can’t address. It’s in that place of crisis that He upholds us, comforts us and leads us past the veneer of our current spirituality into real relationship with Him. Therefore Paul concludes his biography with this amazing statement:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It’s grace under pressure that brings us to this understanding. The grace was always there, but it’s the pressure that makes us aware of it. God is in the pressure point, and it’s on the other side of that pressure point where we can be freed from shallow spirituality and put into real relationship with our Creator.

08
May
08

one of the biggest traps of the soul

Galatians 6:4-5

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

This is one of the great traps of our generation – comparing ourselves to others.  To compare ourselves with others creates a paralysis of our souls.  We look at other people in our occupation and think to ourselves, “Why can’t I be like them?”.  It starts off innocently enough but then it spirals into a constant questioning of our decisions that keep us from going on the the unique journey that God has prepared for us.  In the apostle Paul’s book on the church he states,

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. “ (Ephesians 2:10)

The “good works” that each of us has in front of us are unique.  When we use language such as “destiny” and “purpose”, we must come to grips that those terms imply that we are going on a journey that no one else can travel.  To proceed on the path in front of us is essential for God’s purposes for all of us.

I believe in community.  And I believe that the Christian faith is a corporate faith, not one that is individualistic.  But when we see the pattern of Scripture, we see that we are not to be either independent (doing things with no regard to anyone else) or co-dependent (doing things that are based upon everyone else).  The big idea of Scripture is to be interdependent (unique in our personality and journey, yet expressing that in a community).

When we compare ourselves to others, we are validating or invalidating our journey based upon someone else’s journey.  And that creates a pandoras box of insecurities, bad decisions, and anxiety.

God’s desire is for us to know Him.  To walk with God is to go places that we never expected to go in ways we never expected.  If we compare ourselves to others we invite only condemnation and pain into our souls.  Here’s how we can break the cycle:

1. REPENT – Yes, repent.  Don’t see this as just an insecurity, but as sin.  See it as denying God’s workmanship in our lives.  We are trying to be someone else, and in doing so we are denying those around us the most important thing that we bring to the table – us!  Pray for God’s forgiveness for exalting someone else’s calling over our own.

2. CAPTURE – Once we’ve repented, realize that we’ve probably developed patterns of comparing.  Look for anxiety and confusion over life decisions.  Many times we know what we’re supposed to do, but comparison has stifled our ability to follow the leading of the Master.  We need to capture those anxious or confused thoughts and bring them to the Lord.

3. RENEW – Dive into the Scripture and let God’s words renew our thinking.  Have the courage to have preferences, to share insights, and allow insights to be shared that can really help us in the crossroads of life.

Life is too short to be enslaved by the success or failures of others.  What may be working for someone else will not work for us.  What may not work for someone else may be the very thing that we need to do.  God has a path for each of us and that path is GOOD!  Don’t allow comparison to quench the Holy Spirit and what He is doing in each of our lives.




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