What are you really about and why won’t you let me see the real you?

I relish psychoanalyzing people–a raw confession, I know. But, I really don’t have many qualms about it. This passion of mine is wrapped up in the way God designed me. I believe the calling God has given me to write and explore His work in mankind is naturally related to an obsession with the heart–this is, after all, the seat of where we relate with God. If we don’t have the heart, we don’t have anything.

So, I focus my attention on the heart, believing that I cannot understand a person if I do not know their heart. The problem is, that I don’t always have access to others’ hearts. This grieves me. A person could invite me into every area of their life and if they refused me entrance to their heart, I would consider everything else they offered me to be a ruse; a means of diverting me from knowing and enjoying the treasure of their actual person. I would feel shut out and rejected. Even confused. My heart would surely bear the effects of such a loss.

Yet, I wonder if my experience of love’s side-effects is anything in comparison with the ones known to God. Surely, all my frustration with relational disinterest and distance can only be the smallest dose of identification with what burdens my Father’s heart. Were it not for us, He would never know distance of any kind, brokenness or pain in any form. What kind of Love seeks to unite itself with such imperfect and fellowship distorting creatures as us?

The more we look into the pain of our own relationships with men and women around us, the more our eyes will be opened to the most concrete witness we have to God’s love for us: He would intertwine His heart with pain-givers like us. He would willingly immerse Himself in the muck of our disregard for Him–not letting sin separate us from Him without a fight to restore purity. He became the One marked with our impurity–the consequences of breaking harmony with Him–so that with His heart He might reconnect with us once more.

Our final conclusion is that where God is, Love is not diminished by pain, nor is it unable to redeem the sinful hearts that disorient us from enjoying Him. Love expands toward its object regardless of its condition or the hardships it will put Love through. Love delights to rescue and will direct all its energies toward that end until it is fully received or fully rejected. Recognize, dear friend, that you and I are the objects of Love, who is Christ. We have two options regarding Him, yet only one truly offers freedom to our hearts and life to our being. May we grow in choosing to receive Love until there are no longer any holes He yet must fill.

Handling stress ineffectively

Today I can’t seem to quiet my brain down to think. Either that is the problem or I just don’t have anything creative inside to work with. I want to have some brilliant thoughts to work with–something that will bless both of us because it was put to words. But I don’t seem to have the capacity for that today.

What I do have is a rushed feeling that fills my minute periods of silence. I have a strong ambition to get everything accomplished that is on my list for the day and not let the effort kill me. At the moment, that seems like a tall order. One I don’t know how to squeeze into the few hours with which I have to work. So I just keep working as fast as I can. I don’t want to get lost beneath the piles of uncompleted work, nor do I want to…to…

Well, I don’t know what else I don’t want. Is it that I don’t want to be embarrassed that I didn’t get more done with the time I had? Am I comparing myself to some imaginary genie who would no doubt put me to shame if he walked, for a day, in my own shoes? I don’t know. I think those things are part of it, but not all. Another part may be that I fear the consequences of not getting everything I have to do completed on time. I fear my own inadequacies. Not just that it will be seen, but that it is a reality too grievous for me to handle. I do my best to supersede it by doing everything I can to achieve–more, more, more!

But it all feels like a rat race. Rather than making me feel more capable and significant, it makes me feel less so. The hurried-ness I face provokes in me the fear that I can be swallowed-whole by tasks and requests that are too great for me, yet ought not to be. Amidst this mess, how can I think of being a conduit of blessing in my world? Before the Mount of De-emphesis I question my resources and worth, believing all that I claim is nothing.

But what does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 13? Only the one who has not love is of no benefit, “nothing” as it says. He didn’t say the person who can’t keep pace with their to-do list or the one who is crippled in their daily execution of life-on-schedule. These things only matter to the degree that they affect our ability to love.

In God’s kingdom you have innate worth. The real question is whether you will use your worth to build God’s kingdom or thwart it. Will you be a blessing–fulfilling the law of love by the empowerment of Christ–or will you forsake the essence of the One who gives you value in His love? Maybe how you and I answer that question will contribute to how we deal with stress. Maybe.

The sin that stops with me — NOT!!

Every act of idolatry is a rebellion against God; a misuse of our function and worship; a sin with tremendous consequences; a legacy many generations will not be able to out-live.

If we try to convince ourselves that sin only affects us from without, and does not also spring forth from without, we will have some consequences to deal with–we can be sure! Failure to face the truth never turns out better than if we had faced it squarely.

By believing that sin and its affects come from some place exclusively outside us, we are saying that we don’t belong to the fellowship of sinners. We say we can avoid that label because our personal righteousness is of a higher caliber than that of everyone else.

Even if we say that most people are basically good and cannot really be charged with “sinning,”aren’t we really just saying that we refuse to acknowledge that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin–and any other grossly immoral person you can think of–is not really human?

Aren’t we just trying to put a comfortable distance between us and them; enough to say that we’re not really anything like them–we could never be capable of what they are? I don’t think we can stand on that. For one thing, is is obvious that they were physically a part of our same species. If you read their writings and listen to their speeches, it is indisputable that they exercised the same powers of speech, intellect, reasoning and persuasion that we have. (I trust that they also smelled, sounded and tasted the same way we do–disregard that last one!)

If this does not make them human, then we  must ask ourselves, what constitutes a human? Or, more revealing, what constitutes a human that does not undermine our pleasant perceptions of ourselves?

Now, that’s a hard one. I think if we really look at everyone, every single person on this globe of ours, you would not find one that did not make your foundation for self-view a little shaky. In fact, I think you would find seven billion and more examples of sin and depravity that you would find revolting–if you could indeed see far enough into each. I’m no scientist, but I suspect that that would be enough evidence for a personal reevaluation to be necessary. A multitude of theories would most likely need to be thrown out if one is to remain relevant to truth.

So, do you do it? Do you throw out the theory of mankind being basically good and search for a new one? Do you search not only for a new theory on human orientation, but also a new definition of self?

I hope so. I hope you don’t avoid acknowledging sin so much that you never encounter righteousness. I hope you leave the land of “mediocrity” where every man’s a sinner but he won’t quite say it; where every man’s more in danger of hell than he is of saying it; where every man has a Savior waiting for him, yet chooses instead to risk being a  savior to himself.

Reclaim your freedom (from sin)!

Even if God gave us the whole world (which He has), we couldn’t enjoy it because our sin would be in the way.

Our sin would turn us more against God in prosperity than in adversity. We are prone to reject God and suffer the consequences; we do not like what represents God apart from Him cleansing us to love the Truth.

Sin takes up so much space in my heart that where it abounds (in places of my heart that God has not already taken over) there is no room for His righteousness to blossom. Sin cripples my ability to be fruitful because it will not have any part of the Word of God.

These seeds of God’s precepts must have a good, fertile soil to be nourished in — not for the sake of the seed, but for the sake of my absorbing that good seed. But my sin my insides as hard as rock and my exterior as impenetrable as the same so that no word of God can ever go beneath the surface of me.

Yet, His Word is dynamite and His Spirit is TNT to my soul’s defenses against Him. Satan can’t even stand up against that — sin was crucified in Christ and now there’s nothing holding me back from obtaining Christ for my Master of delight.

So you like Love, do you?

Love is trumpeted the world over as the ideal/emotion most capable of inspiring mankind. It is a gift, and the most fulfilling reality we know on this earth.

But, what about when love comes to us disguised? When we don’t immediately recognize it in its initial form, we often give no thought to immediately turning away from it.

How little we know of all the ways we run from love! We claim to be enamored with it, but act in ways that compromise our commitment to experiencing the real thing.

The Son of God came to us in the form of a lowly servant — a man without a face or physique that we should recognize as glorious. His manner was also unlike anything our world or we can boast.

He did not come to show that God has finally came around to our way of thinking, or impress us with His willingness to negotiate a mutually agreeable arrangement for peace. He will not compromise His law, or bow down His character to us. His aim is so far above submitting Himself to our expectations of God — including displays of obsequious love and undying respect for our demands.

Rather, He has done us the greatest service imaginable in entering into our mess and treating us like what we are: people broken and beaten by our rebellion against God.  He sees that we are separated from Him by our own self-destructing choices, and He has come to reveal the choice that He has made to deliver us from them. It is the choice that has the power to save and change our lives.

The rescue, and subsequent transformation, of our hearts is the key to lives that may be lived to the full, unlimited by death.

But how many of us truly know about these dynamics? We know plenty about changing our lives, and altering our behavior, but what have we ever experienced of heart-alteration?

To tell you the truth, we have and will not know until we have known Jesus Christ who alone is capable of making such a difference in us.

If we do not know Christ according to experiential and spiritual knowledge that transcends merely amassing information about Him, we will never truly know what any of this means.

How many of us walk away from the chance to be forever changed, because God didn’t garb Himself in ambitions that naturally align with our own.

He did not come near to us, to pleasantly assure us that all our problems can be easily cleared up because they are entirely external. He is not here to agree with us that there is nothing inherently wrong with us or how we approach God. What could be the ultimate gain for us in this? How would this glorify Him?

A Being who would not dare to defy our means of self-expression and god-devoid pleasures would not be worthy of following. If He is not unmovable in His commitment to His righteousness — to declare His judgments and to develop it in us — there would be no sense in trusting Him as He would not be truly good.

But this is not the case with Him: He is absolutely good, and all His judgments are perfect; therefore, we are not free to exercise disbelief without inheriting undesirable consequences.

Let us then, open ourselves up to love that is what we really need; let us move beyond the fear of never getting what we want and instead discover what true love offers us in God.