Friday, January 20, 2017

Who are you going to believe?

I often see guilt as the motivating pull towards Jesus. That’s easy to understand since we preach a gospel of shame.  I remember an encounter once with a youth group leader.  I was trying to explain why we worked hard not to make guilt the motivator in our presentations.  He was pushing hard for a presentation that brought on guilt because in his mind guilt was the best motivator.  Guilt is what brought people to Jesus… is it?  Are we to be motivated by guilt?  I thought guilt and shame are what Jesus came to release us from.  I’m still sad when I think of that conversation.  It felt like I was at odds with the whole religious world.  But I still believe that it is fruitless to preach the gospel to bring on guilt and shame so that people will repent and turn to Jesus.  I'm thinking of Zacchaeus.  You can read about him in Luke 19:1-10.  What motivated him to repent?  Was it his shame or was it that he was accepted... included... Loved?  I believe Love is the only fruitful motivator. Check out 1 Corinthians 13:1-3  

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing."

We all feel guilty and shameful about something.  We all have those skeletons in our closets.  We hide them all the more meticulously when we have never encountered grace.  What is grace?  Isn’t it the release of all that guilt and shame?  not because we aren’t guilty but then again, well wait, are we?  If we stand cleansed of our guilt and shame,  what does that mean?  I believe it means we don’t have to move or struggle encumbered by our guilty feelings.  We can stand against them in the Name of Jesus and move out of a place drenched in Love.  We can walk without shame.  What does that even look like?

I believe we have a choice.  We can listen to the guilt and shame and be paralyzed by it’s condemnations.  Or, we can recognize that we have sinned and yet receive the cleansing given freely to us by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  We can receive that fact the Jesus delights in us, and because of His Love, we are free. Free means Free!

It then becomes a choice of faith.  Are you defined by the evil that you have done?  NO, No, NO!!!  You are defined by the blood of Jesus.  You are clean.  Choose to believe Him and He will set you free.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Back to Eden Gardening

Back to Eden Gardening, have you ever heard of it?  Back to Eden gardening was started by a guy who didn't have enough water in his well to water a big garden.  He asked the Lord what to do, and the Lord said, "Do what I do"  And so he watched the Master Gardener and noticed that His forests are always covered by debris.  Leaves and sticks and chunks of bark.  So he covered his ground with wood chips and has had great success.  The trick is not to disturb the ground with tilling and the like but just cover it and let the cover decompose into moisture holding nutrients.  

I have wondered how many things we do thinking that our way is better than God's way.  Like GMO foods.  What are we doing?  And what was God's original intent.  Check out Deuteronomy 22:9-11.  

“You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled. “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. “You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together. "

These are the commands from God to the Israelites.  They came with a promise.  

“If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)

I'm thinking there could be a cause and effect here that we are missing.  God didn't want DNA defiled.  He didn't want to mix one kind of grape with another.  Why?  I don't know, but There are only 66 books in the bible.  They are God's very short, written record.  I believe  everything in it has some good purpose.  It has a point for being there.  And in some way shape of form it is a protection for us to follow it.  (not for legalistic reasons, following the law isn't a path to salvation, but there is wisdom in the word of the LORD.  Why is He wanting us not to defile a seed?)

I don't believe God is threatening us here, I believe He is showing us the path to life.  So why would we mess with what God created?  That isn't just for the food we eat.  But it's a good start! 


Friday, August 26, 2016

Haters

That word makes me cringe.  How can it in anyway send a message of grace?  I care, you matter, there is such a thing as good and evil.  Pain isn't always bad.  The lack of it isn't always good.  Sometimes I care and you matter so I choose for you... pain.  I have to get a tooth pulled this next week.  If I don't, well eventually the bone around that tooth will erode away.  Eventually, the infection would poison my body.  It's gonna hurt.  But it is the path to healing.

I don't feel any pain right now.  Why would I choose pain?  Because pain is the route to healing.  It is often so.  I'm thinking of Jesus and pain... and how much we selfishly avoid it... and how He selflessly didn't

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lives matter!

Is it a question of black or blue?  Or is it a question of humanity?  Life matters!  Your life matters!  Each and every precious breath on this earth is fraught with purpose.  We are created with great purpose! Every life... every breath... every fragile, frail, angry, hurting, bruised and broken soul... MATTERS!

We are here to build. ("Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." [Ephesians 4:29]) We are here to care about another's needs and do something about it.  It matters that you are hurting.  The millions that are hungry, orphaned, without a country, without a home.  We all matter.

But the secret to winning the war against contempt is not contempt.  It is love, service and grace.  "Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”" (Romans 12:20) 

If you want to change the worlds response to you, your people or your cause, give grace to your enemy.  Be a people of kindness, goodness and grace.  Create a movement that builds up and calls out that all lives matter... I'm in... you?

Monday, June 27, 2016

I was reading Ecclesiastes yesterday and this passage jumped out at me; "Also do not lake to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others."  Ecclesiastes 7:21-22  What a hard concept to actually put into practice.  I have been the victim of tons of contempt.  I have figured out that people harbor ill thoughts and beliefs and then wait until you are on your back to pounce and dump.  It's frightening but only if I take to heart everything people say.  Funny how much resilient people seem to be able to ignore.  As for me, I have a deep, deep fear of another's contempt.  It has way too much power in my life even now.

What would it be like if I didn't take to heart everything people say?  What if it didn't matter... not in the sense that I don't care but in the sense that it just isn't where my equilibrium lies?  This is a place in my life God has worked on for years.

I'm thinking of C.S. Lewis's book "The Great Divorce"  In it his picture of hell is just a tiny crack in the ground of heaven.  We have made it this huge gaping void but perhaps I need to give it much less significance?

For me today, this passage is a picture of grace.  I have known such grace from people who let me restate myself until I feel understood.  It is so amazing to have someone say, "I heard X but I know you well enough to know you meant something else.  Try again!"  Or just to be given the gift of patience.  What a gift for someone to see only the good in you in spite of your flaws and crooked features.  I am the type that sees the splotch of ink, rather than the rest of the white paper.  God forgive me... heal me!

God I want to offer that gift to others.  I want to be resilient and patient and kind.  (Listening)  It is true that I have focused on people's faults... perhaps as a protection/defense?  If I see another's faults maybe mine are more palatable?  Such the opposite of grace.

Grace is such a powerful thing.  Perhaps the one weapon we have to win against evil eh?
It's confusing, isn't it?  how did we get here?  It happened so fast didn't it?  Has America lost it's identity?  Who are we now... and what do we stand for?  Equality?  I beg to differ.  Justice? Not that I've seen.  Hope?  So sad.. so little hope.  It feels like we as a country have lost our way.  Doesn't it?

But then, why are we surprised?  What is the end result of teaching people that there is no God?  That we just happened and we are simply descendants of apes?  What if there was no intelligent design?  What does that make us then? What now is the point of living?  If we are not created, we are of no more value than dogs, or maybe even less, since we can make more informed choices eh?  Look at the consequences of our decisions.  it is much bigger than we might think.  We no longer have a reason to be reasonable.

Think about money.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."  Is he implying that there are only two masters out there?  We will serve Him or money?  I wonder... We have definitely made the switch in this country.  And money is a cruel master isn't it?

I keep wondering how to navigate a world that serves a different master than I do.  We keep missing each other on every pass because I really don't want to serve money and our laws are written with the expectation that I do.  I am lost as to how to respond.  

But I believe we were created and for a deep, deep purpose.  Perhaps in these times that purpose is more important than ever eh?  light is most needed the darker the night isn't it? So how do I become light?  What can I do in this world now?  (listening)...  I simply hear "be kind".  I have seen that, the more we are focused on money the less we notice the people who have none.  Where I am today, homeless people are huddled in huge cardboard villages.  How can I learn to see?  Learn to watch? and learn to be kind?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Focus?

It's raining, the birds are singing playfully outside and there is a very slight puff of wind teasing soggy branches of trees.  But there is also the harsh sounds of a sea plane coming down for a landing and the swish of a car, the blare of a truck's air brakes and the tick, ticking of a clock.

Isn't it funny how the continuous roar of the sea is soothing but the continuous running of a toilet can drive you crazy?

I wonder at how much noise we produce just by being busy.  We drive rather than walk because we don't have the time?  Or is it that we just don't want to walk anymore?  So much of what we have invented was invented to save time and effort.  The washing machine, dryer, dishwasher.  What about the power drill, lawn mower and car?  I use them all.  But if they save me time I don't know what happened to it.

I saw a clip where Bernie Sanders was saying that he played ball in Brooklyn growing up and a part of the positive for him was not having parental supervision all the time.  He said kids learned how to interact by interacting on their own.  It's a very good point!

Why are we busy?  What do we do?  We work, so that we can have money so that we can eat to have strength to go to work?  Kids go to school to get homework so that they can study at home and go to school and get more homework?  

Is there another way? What does it mean to be still?

This verse is written in the command form:

"Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still". Psalm 4:4

So is this one:

"Be still, and know that I am God;" Psalm 46:10

The birds are still singing outside.  I think I will go outside to listen.