Is That You?

The sudden slapping sound of metal on metal made by the tumblers in the door lock broke the empty silence and her eyes opened.

Covered by blankets and the heavy darkness her breathing goes shallow to listen more intently. Her mind sorts through scenarios, and then if only to satisfy her anxious internal voice and quiet her fears she calls out in a voice just loud enough to be heard…

Is that you?

Practically every married couples lived out this scenario or some version of it and at times our relationship with the Heavenly Father is also this way. We’ve been together a long time,during which His Holy Spirit has been a counselor and guide. We’ve walked together,He’s carried me, I’ve walked away, He’s been faithful. You’d think we’d be more discerning of His “moving” by now but somehow at times we still find ourselves feeling like the woman under the blanket. Seeking confirmation of what we think we know, anxious and fearful of the unknown, and that can be dangerous because many times we only see what we want to. Our spiritual eyes can easily become accustomed to an environment of darkness!

I know that there are definitely times when I find myself asking…

Is that You?

I find biblical context for my confusion In Luke’s Gospel chapter 7:19-23.

What John was experiencing was definitely not what he or any of the other apostles had expected to occur. At this point John was perhaps facing death, so I can understand how difficult it must’ve been for him to trust who he thought Jesus was.

I don’t make very many life or death choices but given what was at stake here I can totally understand how he might’ve wondered if he’d been mistaken somehow.

He needed to ask Christ in as direct a way as possible exactly who He was. He chose to send two of his friends to ask Jesus because he was imprisoned. Can you imagine that? Telling your friends and most likely people who you’ve taught about Jesus to go and ask Jesus this most basic question! As awkward as that prospect must’ve seemed to him, I believe his biggest challenge was to first face his own fears.

Fear of being wrong, of not seeing things as they really were and of exposing his own humanity to his friends. He had to first understand that thinking you know something is the greatest obstacle to learning anything!

That’s certainly a mindset I can relate to.

Recently I’ve had occasion to reevaluate some of my own beliefs. Take abortion for example…I just don’t think that denying that choice to a woman is very much of an expression of love which is what Christian people are called to do and be in this world. I understand that it’s about the unborn child but it’s still the woman’s real estate that it has to be conveyed through…

Our Father hates all sin, as should we, but He gave Adam a choice because
without it…

It’s not love…it’s just the law!

and while God’s word certainly carries that authority He’s too much of a loving Father to treat us like programmable robots, no, He gave Adam a choice!

What I’m saying is “Who are we to insert our authority over the lives and choices of another when God Himself who is love, chose to do otherwise”

Do I hate abortion? YES! but standing outside an abortion clinic harassing people who’re already going through perhaps one of the most difficult times of their life doesn’t seem all that loving to me…

We’re not called to be anyone’s judge or to be argumentative like an attorney…we’re just supposed to be witnesses of the difference His love has made in our lives! To be ever-ready to give an answer when asked about the source of our hope!
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I see the people outside the clinic with the huge and unspeakably gruesome pictures of aborted babies on display. I look into their accusing self righteous faces as I walk by and then stop for a moment and ask…

Is that You?

I know it’s me…

Listening to the lyrics of a song recently I was struck by their accurate reflection of my own life!

I want to know what became of the changes, we waited for love to bring. Were they only the fitful dreams of some greater awakening?

Jackson Browne “The Pretender”

I’ll admit that sometimes I feel that way. I’m certainly not as committed to living my life for the Lord as some are! And I do feel somewhat frustrated and discouraged over the status of my own spiritual life! It’s been quite a challenge to me that’s with me to this day! At some point, who knows when…I’d like to find my own state of grace where I can truly accept the full measure of forgiveness that Jesus was crucified to secure for me!

Take this guy for example…

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I met him one day while I was taking a break from driving. He told me drives this bus up and down the west coast doing his ministry which he claimed was based on Seventh Day Adventist teachings…
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He told me that Christ had established his true church in 1866 which had me wondering what the second chapter of Acts was all about!

My issues with this particular variety of religion are numerous but in a nutshell, well…it’s a religion! A man made set of rules that when followed entitle you to go to heaven. Based on the belief that Christians are still under the law instead of the “new and better covenant” spoke of in Hebrews 8:6.

Is that You?

If what your looking for is a perfect representation of God the Father in Christians or the institutions they establish you’ll never find it! If you think otherwise I believe that’s an indication of how you see yourself, Perfect!

I know I’ve found it to be true in my own circumstances…

Can you see the problem?

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We’re all created in Gods image but our sin shattered it into shards and fragments that show a perverse reflection. There are times when man does reflect enough of Him,or is able to die to his self to such an extent that what we see seems like perfection…

We call that “art”

In the ninth verse, thirty eighth chapter of Marks gospel,John brings to Jesus’ attention certain other practitioners they’d observed who were engaged in a deliverance ministry of sorts. The idea being to get His approval to “forbade” them from it. My sense is that based on His reply Jesus wisely observes that “if our policy is to shut down everyone who doesn’t have it all together who’ll be left?” And tells John to basically leave them alone!

None of us have got it all right…

No need to ask, “Is that you”!

We are the woman,

we’re also the bride.

We are the pretenders,

prevented by pride.

From seeing the truth,

Through our fractured eyes.

We fear what could save us,

And instead cling to lies!

Scratch That Itch!

I remember one Sunday morning a few years back. My family and I were stuck at home because of car trouble and so we were having home church which was being led by my daughter. She had prepared a short message that she shared on what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.  I thought it was pretty good for an eight year old and after she finished we talked a little more and thats when this analogy occurred to me.

I asked her,

“What if someone cleaned your room when it was so messy that there was no way that you could ever do it yourself! Picked up all your toys, made your bed, vacuumed the rug, we’re talking immaculately clean! And then, after they were finished they leaned against the door frame and just watched you because they love you and enjoy seeing you play in your restored to order room. Would it change how you played? Would you try your best to keep it that way and never let it get dirty like it was before? If you answered yes then know something about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus!”

Since that day I’ve continued to search for answers to my own questions about what it means to live your life in Gods Presence.  The subject of how we are to live as Christians is one that plays out daily in the many details and choices we all face. I know that there will come a time when my simple analogy to my daughter will no longer suffice and so I want to be ready when perhaps she’ll come to me saying,

“I want to honor God in this way but I’m afraid some people might not understand”

I want her to know then as she did before that the reason God always has His eye’s on her isn’t because He’s watching to see if she does wrong, it’s because He loves her so much that He can’t take His eye’s off her!

I also hope she know’s that in her relationship with Jesus there’s an intimacy between her heart and His and that He understands her motives. His judgments are based in a love that not only “thinketh” no evil but one that,

1 Corinthians 13:7

 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

 I don’t want her to live her life as if she’s automatically guilty by association if she should become involved with things that might be thought of as being inappropriate for Christians.

I’ve dug myself quite a hole there, here’s what I mean…

There are some who might see a person being involved with the Martial Arts as such based on it’s links to Eastern philosophies and Buddhism. I just hope they don’t try to sell that to Chuck Norris who’s Kick Start program has helped thousands of kids find their way out of drug’s and gang’s and put their lives on the right track! I can’t imagine a Christian having any objection to other Christians participation in the Olympic’s even though originally they were intended as a competition to honor the Greek god Zeus! And Christmas? Oh come on! Ironically, in the two predominant holidays Christians observe there’s more Pagan symbolism than there is Christian, does that mean we should stop celebrating them? I know at least a few that have for just those reasons…

If, in an effort to maintain the temple of the Holy Spirit which our bodies are to be we decide to employ the stretching exercises used in Hatha Yoga I hope we aren’t shunned or looked down upon by other church members. Also, if your faith is such that you find exercise threatening to it perhaps yoga’s not your real problem. I’m saddened that I can’t tell people the whole story of how God has revealed His plan of redemption in the stars starting with Virgo the Virgin and ending with Leo the Lion of Judah’s return without people thinking I’m a heretic of some kind because of the acceptance of our enemies perversion in our minds of yet another of Gods precious gifts to us!

Romans 12:21

 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Several years ago I attended a revival given by a local church, during the service the kids were entertained down stairs by a Christian magician.  Should I have turned around and left because of not wanting my child to be exposed to the occult? Some Christian’s would say YES! Even though no where in the Bible does it say anything about theatrical magic being forbidden!

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

I thought Id just go ahead and get this verse of scripture into the mix as well, according to the Strong’s Concordance Itching ears are those which are “desirous of hearing something pleasant” as opposed to sound doctrine which is defined as,

a) of Christians whose opinions are free from any mixture of error

b) of one who keeps the graces and is strong

I’ll leave it to you to decide what I am…or am not, but whatever conclusions you reach regarding me I’ve said all these things to make a point which is this.

I have an itch to see Gods church rise up in these last days and be all He intended it to be and for it to complete the purpose for which it was established! A burning and uncomfortable itch to see the church cast aside it’s fears and it’s dogma and allow The Holy Spirit to move among them in whichever way He choses! To stop allowing counterfeit spiritual perversions of practically everything God’s given us to keep us from using those real gifts that we must employ if we’re going to be the generation that He’ll use to bring in the great harvest!

1 Corinthians 8:9

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.

If more Christian’s would get a similar uncomfortable burning itch, and would scratch it, who knows…

We might just have a wildfire on our hands instead of no-fire.

The “Real” Jesus

When asked about his taste in music, Ray Charles was once quoted as saying,

“There’s only two kinds of music, those kinds being good and bad”

and that’s a statement to which I wholeheartedly agree!

I’m not a big fan of most Christian music, sadly, like so many endeavors which are labeled as “Christian” it seems as though the quality of the products produced are lower than those of their secular counterparts. When people talk about books, music, movies or whatever which are produced by Christians inevitably you’ll hear their work patronized with statement’s such as

“It was pretty good, for a Christian writer,musician,comedian,etc…”

As if there’s an unspoken but well understood lower standard involved.

And that’s messed up…

I consider myself to be a fairly typical person, but then again perhaps I’m just caught up in my own “delusions of adequacy.”  I think perhaps a case could be made either way regarding me, but I digress. When I meet people I hope they notice something different about me, I would hope that they would perhaps feel loved in some way! I don’t wear a crucifix outside of my shirt for people to see or have a WWJD wrist bracelet on. If I’ve never met you before, I probably won’t ask you where you attend church within the first ten minutes of a conversation. Some people stress about sharing the gospel or “witnessing” as it’s called, but sometimes the most “Christ-like” thing we can do is just to listen to people.

When people meet me I don’t want them to see a stereotype, I want them to meet the real me.

I am a Christian, but I’m not “Ned Flanders”…(nothing against Ned)

I think that Jesus was a very real person!

Not only in a physical sense but also in terms of how He related to people out of a genuine love for them.

Throughout the bible Jesus’ personality is displayed in many ways. Some of my favorite examples are from His various confrontation’s with the scribes and pharisee’s. This one in particular speaks to me of His sense of humor in dealing with them.

Matthew 9:5

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

Jesus perceives their thoughts accusing Him of blasphemy after His forgiveness of sins. I can imagine Him being somewhat confounded by their attitudes, but His reaction is to love and teach them.  He begins by turning the question back on them by asking “whether is easier” which is actually rhetorical in that He knows they can’t truthfully say or do either. Jesus seems to be seeking counsel from these great scholars of the law while simultaneously proving Himself to be God and them to be fools!

Jesus, you crack me up!

Another of the more prevalent stereotypes of Christian people has to do with the idea that all of them are pacifists. The perception is of them being people who would never raise their voice in anger or resort to violence under any circumstances.  It doesn’t say in John’s gospel what if anything might of happened to Jesus that day as He traveled to Jerusalem to observe the passover but apparently,

“He was in no mood”

to discover what was going on in the temple that day…

John 2:14-15

14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

During his lifetime here on earth Jesus was a real man with real feelings just like each of us! He had a sense of humor, He could feel pain and sorrow, He could even become angry! It’s a comfort to me to know that being a Christian doesn’t mean we should be always happy or always be serious and sad like the stereotypes portray. I just want to be the person God intended me to be, no more and certainly no less! Helping people do just that is something Jesus was very good at, He brought comfort to the afflicted, and affliction to the comforted!

I think that it’s so important for Christian people to be “real”, and to not be perceived as being out of touch with the very real struggles that people they might meet are going through. Jesus had great compassion for people who were stuck in the “miry clay” of sin. He understood the temptation’s of this world and the depravity of mans soul that drives him to do something, even if it’s wrong, to fill that void in his heart. He didn’t judge people for having the need which I feel is a critical first step that’s necessary for people to be comfortable enough with us and to trust us enough to actually confide in us about the sin and spiritual needs in their lives so that we might have a “real” opportunity to share the real Jesus with them!