Archive | November, 2018
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True Religion

26 Nov

via True Religion

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True Religion

26 Nov

As I began my rediscovery of my faith, I promised to always be transparent. I may not always be completely accurate but I am always honest with you. Especially in the ways I doubt or mess up.

I think the hardest part of my faith journey these 10 years, is shaking off the beliefs, the ideals, the teachings that actually kept me from really knowing God, knowing Christ.  I think you can be saved, by simply accepting the gift of salvation Christ gave to you.  That mustard seed, if it took root, is enough.

Religions have made it difficult for us to really know Christ. To know God. To know the Holy Spirit. The rules and politics became magnified and we lost sight of the fact that people in need of a savior were the ones teaching and preaching and leading us.  Sadly, because of the sin in people, it is hard for people to find God.

Religion became about people; Like we did it, like we saved ourselves. We lost God in the mix. Even our non-denominational churches need a shaking up.  We spend so much time on wrong things. We waste opportunity after opportunity, simply because we missed the point.  WE are not the point. WE didn’t earn our salvation.

Sin is a black stain. All sin is a black stain. Whether you lie about why you’re running late or you harm a child. Sin is black. It is all black and in need of a redeemer. Period.  Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5) fell to his knees and couldn’t even look at God because he was able to fully see the stain of his sin compared to the Glory of God.  That is us. Each and every one of us.

That is why Jesus was born.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”” Luke 19:10 NLT

He is the seeker, the all-knowing, just waiting to be known.   Period. 

God created every life. He loves every single life. He seeks every life to know Him.

If the creator of all things,  loves every life, cherishes and longs for every life to know Him, pursues every sinner, how arrogant it is to judge any single person anything.

He isn’t doing this to you. He is seeking you. He is saying “look at me, look to me, seek me and you will find me, hear me, follow me, trust me. ”  It is not a human responsibility to fix society. It is a human response to salvation to want to share that amazing advent with the world.

God could force us to worship Him, but he seeks us. He could reject us for not choosing Him, but He simply continues to pursue us.

There is a longing in us, for more. A hole inside our heart, a wounded sorrowful place that without Him, never becomes full. He left that space inside our hearts just for Himself.  I have times where I don’t feel Him there and it hurts. Physically. I miss Him.  When I begin to worship Him, glorifying Him, I feel my whole being fill up.

My faithwalk is one of ups and downs. I go through periods of deep devotion, humbled and reverent awe of all He is. I also go through periods of time where I forget about Him, I do things out of my own ambitions and needs, and not out of obedience and submission. I am prideful at times, without acknowledgement of all He provides. I am self sufficient, moving along without thinking of Him, at all.  There are times that I have literally sat in such a place of awe, knowing it was Him with me because the atmosphere completely changed.  I have also been edgy, worried, fearful, gossipy, insecure, all things that I am when I forget who He is and who I have dwelling within me.

Honestly, I am in a weird place in my journey. It is so different that at times, I worry that my faith is going cold, yet at the same time, knowing it isn’t. I am trusting Him with this new place, not because I am so good at being a Christian…(I am not), but because I have learned that I can try to be but it really works much easier if I remember that He is in charge and He has never let me down. He is sovereign.

It is so hard to imagine a God that can dwell inside of us. How crazy does that sound? That He would choose us, to dwell within us? We know, deep down, from that humble awareness that we are probably not perfect enough for Him to be inside of us. So why do we expect perfection from the world around us?

HE is the one that loved us first. HE, the one that created the world, also numbered every single hair on every single head. He is self reliant and self existent. He doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need one single thing because He is omnipotent and sovereign.  We just get to travel through this world, on our way to His world.

He didn’t tell us we were so wonderful, He said we were wonderfully made. He didn’t say we were worth rubies, He said we were bought with the price of rubies.

I forget this humility.  Often. We all do.  We need to do better at loving this world, and we need to start by loving God and loving every person God created, starting with ourselves. We all walk around with that hole inslde that only he can fill and we all walk around with the big black stain of sin. No sin is exempt and no sinner is exempt. No sin is darker. No sin is less than.  Neither are the sinners. We, every single human on this earth is a sinner. Period. It isn’t that we are free to sin however we choose, it is that we are called to humble our own selves before Him and surrender our own sin to Him. It is vertical, this sinner/savior relationship. This is what Jesus meant about the plank in your own eyes. (Matthew 5-7).

My faith may not “feel” tangible to me, but He is really opening my eyes to the truth. To my lowness in the big scheme of things. That lowness is blessed with promise and joy everlasting. Truth shall set us free. I want us all to know true freedom.

So, put your bible on your bed-stand and walk out your door today and see the hole in people. Not the black stain. Find the love inside of you and look around you, see the love needed and share that love, pursue it passionately. When we do this, then we are behaving like God. Oh that I would walk this, every moment of every day.

This is true religion.

 

Sweet Surrender

4 Nov

Oh, but if only we didn’t have to suffer!

Life is so many things, but there is something about discomfort that makes us not see anything but the discomfort. Why is that?

As I comforted a friend in her grief yesterday, I realized that honestly, sometimes we have to just be in it. Just be sad. There was a time when people wore a band or put on burlap and put ash on their face, to let the world know they were grieving. They didn’t buck up, they didn’t try to hide it, they announced it. It was their’s. They owned their own emotions. They were just going through what they were going through.

Somehow in our “enlightenment”, we became unable to endure anything but happy. Truth be told, I think this only makes us more unhappy!  We say “don’t dwell on it”, “focus on the good”, “take your mind off of it”.  What a disservice we do to real grief! The strength that comes from really embracing all of life. I see it in my work as well, people trying to “avoid” death. “If we don’t talk about it, it won’t happen.”

There is a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that nothing is new.  There will always be times of joy and times of sorrow, times of birth and times of death.  Sadly we have gotten so fragile that we can’t even bear someone cutting us off in traffic or having a different perspective.

This is the root of all hatred and bitterness. This set up we create of how we think our life should look instead of embracing what we have and where we are at.

As for the modern church,somewhere along the line, we decided that being Christian meant that we would be blessed with happiness. We are blessed with peace in the trials, because of Hope, Hope for more than this hard world! Jesus was pretty point-blank when he said “you will have trials in this world”

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33. 

I am growing to understand the depth of what He meant.  My friend and I have both walked through this harsh reality this week. She helped me really awaken to the truth. We, (me), tend to think we deserve something good because we are walking with God. Not consciously, but we still do it. This is legalism;  As if our works do anything except glorify Him. We tend to think we should be blessed with more than what Jesus was blessed with.

Jesus was alone in the garden, abandoned, betrayed. He suffered greatly, went to hell for us, all before His final Blessing.  What is it we think we actually deserve again?  It is pretty humbling to think we try to put ourselves above Jesus?

Submission is hard, faith is hard, life is hard.  We have sin in us, so this world is full of hardship. There is both good and evil here. We have to stop worrying about everyone else’s sin, about what other’s do, especially when it is aimed at us. In the end, it isn’t really about us. Our journey is our own.  We can’t control the wind, we can’t control people and we can’t control God.  As much as we love beginnings, endings are as important and natural. They just come with discomfort.  And we don’t like that. We expect it be better than that.  Disappointment is just unrealized expectations. What really do we have a right to expect?

Works is just a form of worship and glorification, not about earning.  Blessings are not rewards just as hardship is not punishment. It is just part of our journey. Nothing new. Nothing is a surprise to God. Just us.

Feel your hurt, feel your sorrow, feel your pain, feel your anger. Stop being so afraid of the hardship that you miss out on the fullness of God’s Glory.  There is something very precious about climbing into your sorrow with God. Just being still in your pain and in Him. It is a tangible closeness that I have never felt any other time.

It really blows my mind when a christian judges another for their journey. Especially when calling another christian a hypocrite. None of us is above another and humility comes as a blessing, not a punishment.  What a joy it is to know I will never be perfect and it isn’t an expectation. What a blessing it is to have exposed my entire inner thought life to Him, shared every dark detail of my thoughts, my actions and to know I am still seen as beautiful, beloved, as precious as a ruby.  To be forgiven and set free from guilt. In the end, it is His opinion of me that matters.

Now for those that are not Christian, this is where it gets really muddy. We as christians have been so legalistic that those that aren’t Christian expect us to be something different that what we can really be.

Being set free from sin, does not mean we don’t sin. There are those that think this means we are free to sin. No, we are not free to sin. Sin is our burden, we will always mess it up, but when you know you are forgiven by God, it honestly begins to change you, it brings you closer to Him, you begin to think more like Him, talk more like Him, and hopefully, love more like Him. God can’t change what you try to hide. He sees it, nothing is hidden, but being afraid to surrender it all, expose it all, before the throne, keeps you enslaved to it. We are set free from it. Confessed sin is cleaned.  It is between us and God.

Legalism is a hard, hard thing. It is prevalent in our churches as much as this world. It is prevalent among believers and non believers alike. It says, you must look and act a certain way. You must do. You must or must not be this or that. You must not sin, you must be joyful all the time, you must be… or not be. False. Relationship with God is vertical. The horizontal is the welcoming portion of the cross. The love. The all.

Faith is actually about surrender. We are all sinners and the one common thing we share is that not one single one of us has it all figured out.  Faith is this, Jesus died for us, because we couldn’t earn our way to heaven. We failed.  Faith is trusting in this. Faith is dying to your own ego and thinking it’s about you at all! It’s about God.  This is the safety to fully process everything but from a place of surrender. This is the peace that is above your circumstances, because He is beside you. He is your Rod and Staff, and refreshes your weary soul. (Psalm 23).

So feel what you feel. Climb in and let God’s glory lighten your sorrow, your burden’s because with Him, it’s not heavy.  Surrender yourself. Confess your dark.  With God, it is healing. It is freedom.

Laugh, fellowship, enjoy your life. Cry when you hurt, cry out when your are afraid. Don’t judge, not even yourself:

Submit.

Be.

Be still and let Him be God. Because He is, anyways.

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.