I think it’s possible for you to give me a whole lot more than you are!

Have you ever said those words to God? I find that they are words that come up in my heart far more often than I’d like. One reason they do is because I still have a “healthy” measure of rebelliousness at war within me. The other reason is that, quite simply, God and I don’t always think so alike. Many things in my thinking have changed as I’ve walked with God the past three years, but one thing has not: my thinking always needs revision. At every turn in my journey I find new challenges that make it necessary for major portions of my human-centric thinking to be evacuated from their home inside me.

This change can often be mighty unpleasant. On rare and blessed occasions–which seem to multiply with time–I welcome the adjustments God gives my thinking as a breath of spiritual fresh air. Those are precious, grace-filled moments for me. But they can feel so natural to me that I begin to think that I am able to accept what God puts before me because my way of thinking and God’s are just so alike.

This is when God mercifully shows me the truth. He exposes the gap between my natural way of thinking and His. It can feel really hard because I don’t want to let go of my thinking; instead, I like to measure every nuance of His thinking that I can observe against my own. Quite frankly, I often find that His thoughts just don’t quite measure up. They don’t satisfy my “reasonable” mind.

Then God steps in and shows me that thinking this way is the source of my problems. First, I don’t think like Him. And second, I think He should think like me. Whoa! This kind of deceit is why God commands us to not rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Despite the fact that it seems to offer us the only counsel we can really trust, God is calling us to acknowledge that it is flawed. Any mental orientation that would lead you or I in resisting our Maker cannot come under the heading of true wisdom. Great frauds must be believable if they are to succeed, and so it is with our self-promoting thinking.

But if we are to be set free from this thinking, we do not just let it go ceremonially and then sit around in expectation of brand new thoughts coming along to take hold of us. That is not how it works. Thoughts must be chosen and thoughts must be guarded if we are to be sure that they will cause pure waters to flow from our hearts. But how can we do this? What thoughts do we choose; do we make things up in our heads? Do we strive all day long to have original thoughts? This sounds like it could be a whole lot of work!

It is. But it is not impossible. We have the Holy Spirit, given to the redeemed sons and daughters of God, to teach us what we are to think and to reveal to us the mind of Christ. The Bible promises us that He will lead and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Surely God does not expect us to find all this truth we are to be thinking about on our own; He merely asks us to follow His lead. When we walk with Him, in close and intimate fellowship, we will learn to think like Him too!

This is why God calls us to be His friends and not just His henchmen–running to fulfill orders that we don’t even understand. (This is not to say that we will never be expected to obey Him unless we understand what He’s doing. There will surely be times when we will obey His will simply because it is His will, not because we understand it. This is part of trusting His thinking above our own.)

But, His thinking is meant to have such a profound impact on us that it becomes an elemental part of who we are. We begin to not only act like Him, but think like Him and dream like Him. Through our lives, which are to become so closely intertwined with His, He will show the world what He looks like according to His heart and mind. Then no one will have an excuse that they did not know what God was really like or how to find Him. Do we need a better reason to want His thinking to become our own?

 

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A reason for living that goes deeper than I thought life could go

Have you ever been taken out of the game? Put on bed-rest? Prescribed a slower schedule and denied access to your super-man/super-woman cape and commitments? I have. Yes, in the grip of God’s loving ways, I’ve been “put on a shelf,” to a certain degree.

I have fought the idea that I can live without the world revolving around my activities. I have wrestled with the pressure to stop pretending that my assumptions do not need to change. I quietly begun to admit that others do not lose their reason for living because I am not beside them for all of their challenges and victories. I have lost my old sense of self and in its absence I look for a replacement. I feel uneasy in this new space. I cry out for help: “God, You got me here, now what are You going to do?”

While I am still in the process of accepting where I am and what God’s doing with me, I still have hope because God is yet doing something with me. He is changing–yes, renewing–my mind and it’s a gift. In all the confusion and frustration there has been deeper meaning; not everything has been lost. The wrestling has helped me discover something: Something I would never have applied to myself if God had not restrained my steps and severely limited my wanderings. Something that gives life even though it is so shamelessly tinged with death.

I did not know Christ

to any spectacular degree

before I found myself here.

But, now that quietness

has stole over me

and I have learned

to live out-of-the-way–

I hold a gift, a gift of

greater worth than what I’ve lost.

I have missed out;

I’ve been forgotten

but one thing I’ve gained:

Christ has become my peace.

He has come and sat with me;

made the emptiness a treat.

Overflowed my parched soul

with joy

and touch my weak points

with grace.

Christ is is known most dearly here.

And so I don’t fail to relax.

Instead, I give thanks.

My understanding is slow,

but one thing I know

He is true

and alone with Him

I still grow.

The wonder is that

I am not always (out) there

that I might remember

that I am not the One who’s needed;

only He makes this life

we live

a truly pleasant affair.


What do I want with a recycled gift?

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes I think it is optional for me to trust God. Mind you, I never consider it an optional thing for God to give me information and understanding about the mysteries in my life. But I don’t see this as a contradiction.

My expectations for God are lengthy and precise. I want to know He’s listening and I want to get His answers. I want to be satisfied with those answers, and I don’t want to be disappointed. I want everything to go perfectly (understandable) because He’s in charge and I don’t want any long, unexplained periods of waiting.

And yet, today I find myself in one. It is not that this is a new discovery–I’ve been in this place for a while now–it is just not something that I expected to experience in my walk with God. At least not at this point.

I’ve waited before, but it was different then. In those former times, the shelter I found in God was something I easily equated with the beautiful promise/explanation He gave me. When I became discouraged He would remind me of His word to me and I would be strengthened. And because He consistently brought it back to me, I was enabled to walk through things that my own vision declared to be very disadvantageous for me.

But, while I am thankful for that gift being given to me at that time, it is not something that God is offering to me at this time. Instead, He is giving me the opportunity to grow beyond living according to the bluntness of my own knowledge and understanding. He is teaching me to acknowledge and trust His knowledge and understanding, even when I do not have the opportunity to see into them as deeply as I could wish.

I am learning that I can be okay even in the midst of this. I’m finding joy in trusting that God has not forgotten me just because He’s not telling me everything He is doing with me. I want to know that; I groan for those answers, but I wait. They are not what I need most right now.

Many times I do not even know what that need is, but I come asking and gratefully receiving what He gives. It may not be what I identified in my heart as the biggest obstacle to my happiness, but it is what He has identified in His heart as the biggest generator of the happiness He wants to fill me with.

Can you and I just hold onto that? Can we just let go of the gifts that fortified us in other seasons and receive the more solid things God is giving us for hope-formation today?

Wikipedia: Sufijo que entra en la formación de palabras con el significado de: I Acción y efecto: cese, corte, tueste.

A Classic Character with A Climactic Claims

There is something about classic things — they just don’t die. No matter how old they are in our time, they never cease to be alive and authoritative to us. Their value is in their ability to portrey a moving portrait of the longings and behaviors of mankind. They affect how we see ourselves and what we believe to be true of the world around us — whether it is a novel, poetry, history, law or a futurist outline.

Perhaps a little surprising is that the Word of God is all these things. And yet it has a greater claim on our lives than any other classic held up against it. It has been written for one purpose and that is to reveal the Word (Christ) that came into the world to save men from the deceit of their character.

I don’t know about you, but I have a problem with what the Bible says. I can sit there with you and profess that it is a beautiful book that certainly has a perfect right to its particular status, but beneath what I say there is more that I don’t say.

I like the Bible, but I don’t want it to be right so long as it is discussing me. (I will admit that is highly convenient when I find a place where it slams an individual that I deem is worthy of it, but when I am its subject that is not the kind of treatment I want to get.)

I crave honor and exaltation and I believe that the Bible, of all things, ought to give it to me. You can tell me that I am a sinner and that I need saving — yes, even forgiveness — but don’t force me to accept all the features of this reality that I was once too dishonest to see.

I don’t care for the fact that every discussion of sin and wrong-doing that I find in Scripture is in some way a disortation on me and why I need Christ’s righteousness to stand in for my lack thereof. And the more I grow in god-like-ness — the more I reflect the beauty of God’s original design for me — the less I have a legitimate case for boasting in what I have done to make myself good.

Yet, all these problems show one glaring misconception of the text’s overall theme: Those beautiful words that begin Genesis and carry through the entire story of mankind and beyond, “In the beginning God…” In reading this I must ask myself, Where was I? Clearly this story contains me — missing nothing of who I am or what I was meant to be — but does not rely on me or revolve around me.

This is a problem if I live as though those things are the case: I risk never knowing who I truly am because I have missed the point of the tale into which I was so lately born. I must ask another question of myself at this point: “Do I truly love the Word (book) or its object the Word (the Person of Christ) if I live vigorously opposed to everything He speaks, everything He stands for, all that He is?”

Faith in Relationships

Faith in relationships…what does that look like? For me, it is being able to trust God that He is working out all the big and small details that I can’t handle on my own — details that concern more than me, and what’s going on in my heart, but someone I love who seems to see things so entirely different than myself.

That’s what it starts with at least, but from there God consistently leads me into the next stage, pointing out the lessons He has set up for me in this misunderstanding or apparent distance between me and another.

There is always so much to learn through the daily dynamics of our interactions with the people we share this life with. The experiences we have together are what pushes us to work on more than just what will improve ourselves, but will make us more focused on the interests of others.

It can be easy to pursue growth that makes us look good, serving as personal accessories, to trump up what already makes for a wonderful person. It is far harder to choose to see ourselves in the light that others see us, accepting their observations as being capable of being legitimate representations of us.

No, what others think of us will not ever tell the whole story, and their sentiments should not discourage us with the idea that we are not worth anything unless we live up to someone’s expectations of us, but we should not dismiss them either. We should take the  assessments we receive from others to our Father, who is faithful to present to us our true identity along with all the flaws that He is not lax to confront and correct.

The Way We Were

Remember way back when, when you first discovered Christ? What was your response? What did you think He was all about? Or were you too distracted by the offenses you had against His followers to look as far as the Guy this whole thing is really about?

I hope that was not the case. I hope the main object for you never really was His followers, but Who is to be followed. Not a consideration of whether you could really “do” following Him, or whether you wanted to be connected with this bunch that come with Him, but whether Christ really mattered, whether He is the Way, Truth and Life that He claims to be. The One who won’t let you get by without letting you hear His voice.

And, no matter what your original response was, I hope that isn’t all that remains now. I hope you haven’t stayed with a “yes” or a “no” that is so old it has grown stale. You wouldn’t even know that it ever had relevance because it has lost its affect. Does what you said then line up with what you live now? Have you learned anything in the interim that should have inclined you to search deeper into what is true, and is really worth believing, or have you ignored a multitude of opportunities to discover a reality you never knew?

Have you rationalized that there is no more to God than you already know/believe because you don’t want to hear any more? You are determined that you will not set yourself up to receive any kind of information or influence that will potentially discredit your ideas or pressure you to adjust what you’re grounded in?

But, isn’t the final decision for what you believe one that rests with you? With all this power and responsibility weighing on you, wouldn’t it be best to research the options you have as much from the inside as you can? To refuse to investigate the truth, we will always be satisfied with lies that are just close enough to the truth for us to be at home but not too unnerved.

That is no place to live out a lifetime, no place to put down roots and declare ourselves firmly established. If we do, we are deceived.

We were not meant to be masters of our own fate so much as we are told by others who want this quantity of independence so badly. We were meant to have the fullness of life in dependence. I know, this can sound like an oximoron. But it only fails to apply to our lives when we see our lives in the wrong light.

If we still believe we can have everything here and now on our own and be fully satisfied, then we truly do not have any need for anything else to further “complicate” our lives. But, if we are people who can agree that we have any need at all, then we must confess that we are needy people.

We cannot look at our lives as a million different pieces of a puzzle that must be all in place for us to enjoy life at all, or as a youthful lark that we need make no provision for, but as an adventure, which must be planned for and fully entered into to be fully enjoyed; an adventure that would make no sense if it ended in a deep, dark hole with no one at our side because we just followed where the road took us.

No, instead, we have options when we set out on our way. You may be saying at this point that you’re not really interested in adventure right now. Well, the truth is, whether you see yourself as the adventurous-type or not, you have been born into an adventure that is already in full swing. Your job, since you were ushered into this, was to make the most of where you are, using everything you have to find out the whole point of what is going on all around you.

Don’t be fooled by philosophers and their pets who tell you that this is all there is and you are not to dream that there is any meaning behind what you can see with the naked, physical eye. There is so much more — whether you find it or not, it is still there, dictating the deepest realities in life, holding you together in spite of yourself.