Friday, July 20, 2018

Addressing fear

Some significant keys in addressing fear; keys I am always learning to more consistently live by: 
  • Shift your identity (who you are; your significant, importance, value) from the approval of others and base it on God's glory i.e. your true identity is based on who God is (the supremely valuable and most glorious of all) and His assessment of you as his beloved, not the assessment/opinion of others or even (and sometimes especially) your own self-assessment.
We are designed to live for the honor of God, not to *protect ourselves (physically or emotionally) i.e. our design (and therefore our purpose) is to uphold Gods honor not our own. In so doing God says he will honor us (which includes ultimately protecting us and providing what we need most, though not necessarily what we want most).
"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted..." – Jesus, Mat 23:12    
Our living for his glory impacts others.

The most important thing we can do is bring to others the most important "thing" i.e. our greatest accomplishment, value (and fulfillment) is in bringing awareness of God's great worth to others. 

If our conduct says God is most important to us, we are proposing by that conduct He is likely most important to them as well. How we conduct our everyday lives will either indicate He is or isn't most important, worthy (or not worthy) of their trust and commitment and not just ours only.

  • We must understand the real level of control we have (i.e. the lack of it) in order to learn to trust in God's providence/sovereignty/control i.e. God does, is and will provide what we need most and what is best as we live to honor him.
  • You ultimately combat fear through action not reasoning/thinking only i.e. taking action on what you fear instead of convincing yourself you have nothing to fear. Your mind (reasoning) is necessary to assess the best course of action but once assessed, step forward in faith and act. 
Doing the thing you fear confirms the fear is often far worse then the reality. Knowing God is with you irregardless, sustains you. He will never forsake us no matter what we go through or how much it appears otherwise).
For several posts discussing the significance of our being designed for God's glory click here.

*This is not saying we are not to take reasonable steps to care for ourselves. This simply means self protection is not our focus, God is i.e. how do we best honor him in all we say and do. 

This may result in taking actions that seem risky to some, such as doing ministry in a hostile environment e.g. foreign missions in a region opposed to Christ etc. However pursuing God in a hostile environment is safer then pursuing safety itself. Just read the book of Jonah.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

man...saint and sinner

Humanity has two opposite and contradictory characteristics. This is not only addressed in Scripture but observable in human behavior (ourselves and others).

Among humanity we have observed, appreciated and enjoyed the Michel Angelo's, Leonardo da Vinci's, Mother Theresa's and Johann Sebastian Bach's of the world while at the same time been appalled at the Stalins, Hitler's and Idi Amin's of the world. We have observed man expressing the greatest creativity and kindness while at the same time the greatest cruelty and destruction. How can such a great capacity for good and evil reside within the same being?

Man was designed to enjoy the greatest bliss possible through a relationship with the most blissful, magnificent and ultimate being in the universe. But man also has rejected that relationship as God designed and intended, and seeks to be his own god. In so doing he has cut himself off from the very source of life, love, purpose and meaning.

Now he seeks to fill the void that resulted from this disconnect by anything within his grasp, be it power, wealth, fame, pleasure…*fill in the blank. In short man has an endless and insatiable need to feel significant, important, valuable, worthwhile... in short, loved. God **created him that way. Not with the void (that was our doing) but with the capacity and desire for the one who is infinite love, wisdom, majesty and beauty.

When you combine great skill, ability, and talent (all aspects of our being in Gods image) and great resources (i.e. the incredible world with everything in it that God made, including other image bearers with the similar resources) with a great void, due to the absence of God, you have a formula for the greatest destruction. The greater the vacuum in us for life the greater the energy exerted to fill it. And what would create a greater void then the absence of the very Source of infinite life, love and all things?

Some fill this by exerting power and control over others and some fill it with power and control over the rest of creation.

When men and women however are connected to the Source of life, love, meaning and purpose, their creativity and abilities God has given them are engaged and shine forth for great good, beauty and joy. In short they become conduits of the goodness and love of God, instead of emotional and spiritual black holes.

They become fountains for good because they are filled with the good of the Creator or they become agents of evil to fill the infinite void of a need for the infinite source of life.


*Man even uses attempts at "obedience" to win Gods favor in order to feel significant and accepted by him. This is true of any religious system be it so-called Christianity, Islam or anything else.

I say so called because true Christianity is CHRISTianity. It is about Christs efforts on our behalf, not our efforts to win the favor of God and others. And it's about knowing God's bottomless love for us secured by Christs efforts on our behalf driven by this infinite love.

**God is the only endless and infinite source of love, life, beauty, joy etc. For us to participate and enjoy him as he is required us to have a capacity equal to God's infinite fullness, or at least as great a capacity as possible without us actually being God ourselves. Imagine how great a void there must be to have such a capacity and be absent that which it was created to be filled with.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

When are we most alive?

When are we most alive? When we are participating in the life of God. The more we participate in his life, the more we are restored to our original design and the more alive we become.  

And what is the life of God? It is the love and joy God has had from all eternity past and presently experiences in the union and communion between the Father and the Son as they gaze upon, share in and show forth the beauty, majesty and glory of the other in, by and through the Holy Passion/Spirit of love and adoration. 

This very same life is freely extended to any who receive it. 

We will participate in and experience that life to the degree we turn away from trying to secure life apart from him through our own efforts and let him fill us with his life/Spirit/love.

To say it another way, the degree to which we look to something other than God for life, is the degree to which we will not look to and experience the life offered and found in him. 

Jesus said:
"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 
And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one." - John 17:3-11
"...that they know you..." to "know" in this passage is not simply informational knowledge about someone but relational knowledge (in the same way we intimately know someone we love dearly, such as our spouse). This would be the same kind of knowledge the Father has of the Son and the Son has of the Father ("...that they may be oneeven as we are one..."); a knowledge that creates the joy of oneness/relationship. 

Also note the number of times giving (i.e. sharing/relationship) between the Father and Son is mentioned or alluded to in this passage.

It is in this same knowing (the giving and receiving of love/life/value/glory) we find life in all fullness because God is the source of life.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The significance of being dependent/finite

It is obvious we are dependent beings. We see this demonstrated on a daily basis. We must have food, air, water and shelter to remain alive. If any one of these are not available we will physically perish.

We are also dependent beings spiritually and emotionally. This is evidenced by our constant need and ongoing attempt to find a sense of value, purpose and meaning. 

Why is this significant?

It shows we must have/need meaning otherwise why the constant seeking of it.

It also shows our attempts at acquiring it on our own, independent of God, are inadequate.

Our constant focus on self instead of God is the result and indication of our rebellion to this dependence/design.

God is the source of love, life and all things, we are not. We are designed to be consciously and deliberately connected with him and nothing else as our source for true, lasting meaning.

And if he is, to think we can find life outside and apart from him is harmful in the greatest possible way. It is like being on a road you hope and believe leads to the best possible destination when its doing exactly the opposite. It is the ultimate deception that leads to our greatest harm.

Because we rebel from our design of finding true life in, through and from our Creator, we are in a *deep and constant state of pain/feeling worthless, without lasting meaning and purpose. We unsuccessfully seek to fill this void without God, when only God alone can fill it.

The good news is in His kindness, God made a way to restore and reconnect us, if we will receive his offer.

If we refuse his offer to reconnect/unite and find true life in him we remain in our state of pain/feeling worthless without lasting meaning and purpose. This leads ultimately to our greatest harm, not to mention dishonoring to God.

*we are often not fully aware of our painful longing for meaning/purpose/ value until we are pressed beyond our natural ability to cope i.e. using whatever it is we use and depend on to find meaning independent of God our true source.

For a further discussion click here.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Being freed of brokenness

In our attempts to make life work best (i.e. to get what we *need or want and/or protect ourselves [self defense mechanisms]) we develop unsound tendencies or patterns from the earliest stages of life. These patterns embed themselves into our personality and character in such a deep and subtle way, we are not fully **conscious of them or how broken they or we are.

Only over time, as we come to see and trust in the fullness of God's infinite personal love are we able to honestly acknowledge these broken patterns, no longer allowing them to cripple us with shame and self condemnation, and
ultimately be freed from them.

However seeing them is only the first step to overcoming them. But a vital step as well. We can not rise above and overcome a behavior pattern or character flaw if we first don't know it exists.

These tendencies are also so embedded they never completely go away.

Once we are ***aware of these patterns and begin to be freed of them by God's love, we will ****slip back into these default tendencies, if we do not remain diligent and alert
 (guard our hearts/faith) in our trust in God.

But neither do they have to control and dominate us. As we come to know and trust in Gods infinite love, it becomes the dominate force/driver in our life/conduct instead of these deeply embedded and broken patterns. Though the tendencies always remain, through our constantly growing trust in Gods unrelenting love, we are increasingly empowered to rise above those patterns. Gods love, instead of our broken attempts to self love, become the primary influence/force/drive behind our behavior.

As we learn to trust his infinite love we find it superior to our finite self loving (expressed in, by and through our embedded tendencies and patterns of living and relating to the world and others) and we become more and more freed from these attempts to secure life for and by ourselves.

Awareness of these areas of brokenness and God's ceaseless super abounding love in spite of them are key to being freed.

Ironically even though these tendencies are always with us, ***lurking just underneath the more powerful influence of Gods love they are not a bad thing but good. Once we are aware of these tendencies, these patterns of brokenness require us to more diligently and constantly look to God to remind ourselves of his love in order to continually overcome and rise above them. Where we are weakest (in natural resources to live as we are called and designed i.e. for the glory of God) we must be strongest in God's power/love to do so. 

To say it another way, our points of brokenness/greatest weakness also become the points on which we must depend on God most to overcome them, which is a good thing, not bad.

"...where sin increased, grace abounded all the more," Rom 5:20b

*think of an infant crying when they are hungry, tired or need a dry diaper. The crying itself is not wrong. It is how we let others know our needs before we are able to speak. How we use the crying (and later our words or actions) is the issue. Do these 
become a means to simply convey our needs or an attempt to control our world in an unhealthy way i.e. to manipulate and control others to meet our needs.

At our earliest stages we learn patterns of behavior to get/take what we need. God is not part of the equation in this development (unless our parents lovingly, constantly and patiently point us to God as the ultimate source of all we need and they are simply the initial, primary means by which God meets those needs) i.e. we come into the world naturally inclined (even determined) to make life work the best we can without God.

**these patterns of behavior and interaction with our environment and others begin at the earliest stages of our development, even in the womb. It has been determined that in the the womb we develop what is sometimes called "preverbal scripts" i.e. emotional, nonverbal (vs verbal) messages that embed within us in response to negative emotional input from the world outside us, that we constantly play in our hearts telling us lies about who we are and how we can best meet our need for love i.e that we are not image bearers of God designed to find in Him all we need, but we are our own gods who must (and will) find life independent of God the best way we know how.

Only constant reminders of and trust in Gods love and promised care can overcome these messages (lies) and the resulting broken and embedded patterns of distrust.

***Being challenged beyond our “natural” abilities to cope, surfaces these broken patterns revealing them and their inadequacy to aid us in handling challenges.

I have natural in quotes because these broken patterns are coping mechanisms we have developed by using our natural abilities along with any external resources to help us cope.

These challenges can be in the form of extreme pain and suffering beyond our natural ability to endure or obedience (exertion) beyond our natural ability to carry it out.

****As our confidence in God's love exceeds our dependence on our broken patterns of relating, God's love becomes the new driving force in our life and behavior. When our confidence in God's love drops below our dependence on these default behavior patterns to make life work without God, we fall back into those tendencies and patterns.

Overtime as our faith matures our confidence in God's love becomes more consistent so that we are less inclined to fall back into our broken default patterns. But those patterns are always there. What changes is our confidence in God's increases i.e. The primary force that drives our behavior is no longer dependence on the old broken, default patterns but God's love.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

prayer...evidence of humility

When we pray God gives us what we need most. If he doesn't give it, it's not what we need most or we are not sufficiently humbling ourselves (i.e. praying) to receive it.

To say it another way, we may need humility more then something else we think we need or want more/most, so pray and if you are truly humble/dependent on God he *may grant it. 

Prayer isn't about "getting things" from God for ourselves, it's about receiving things (i.e. humility) to advance God's glory. 

Our greatest need is God himself. The primary disposition necessary to experience him to the fullest of his infinite glory is humility expressed in or by our dependence i.e. A sense of desperate need for God above a need for anything and everything else. Prayer is the greatest evidence of this humility/dependence.

If God withholds providing for secondary needs it is to strengthen our awareness of our primary need for him thereby increasing a closer union/communion with him.

The greatest evidence of our awareness of a primary need for him is prayer. Prayer is the language/expression/fruit of humility. You may have tremendous gifts, skills and resources but if you do not have humility you can not truly walk with God as you were designed to.

A focus on others

The best way to know we are truly dependent on God is when we seek (pray for) things for the honor/benefit of others; Christ first and our neighbors second.

We can not focus on others if we are not drawing from the love of God first. We must have (s
acrificial) love to give/to love sacrificially.

The more connected we are to God the more love we have and the more lovely (more able to love sacrificially) we are.

And we are not drawing from the love of God unless we are in union/harmony with him.

And we are not in union with him without humility.


*actually he will grant it when we are truly humble. I only say "may" because only God knows when our hearts are truly in a sufficient posture of humility to receive it; we only think we know. And if we think we are when we are not, we will falsely expect the answer we are praying for.

This is why persistence in prayer is encouraged. Our persistence itself is a humbling process. If we persist long enough we may be sufficiently humbled so we are able to receive the answer we seek.

Often what we seek is not the issue to unanswered prayers, sufficient humility is i.e. why we seek it.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Everything is a gift

If something is given with clear instructions on how to use it correctly, according to its design/function and we accept that gift under those conditions but then use it as we see fit, what will likely happen?

To the gift

It would not operate properly and likely eventually break.

To us

We would not gain the maximum benefit intended from its use.

Our relation to the giver

We would be dishonoring (disrespecting) the giver

The givers relation to us

1. The giver may allow us to experience the full consequences of not using the gift as designed since instructions were already clearly given but ignored. 

2. They also may rightfully withhold future gifts since we have demonstrated our word is not honorable/trustworthy. 

Everything we have and are is a gift; our time, skills as well as all external resources (food, water, shelter, air, material goods etc).

Misuse of God's good gifts is not only contrary to God and his design, but to us as well as the gifts, regardless of whether we agree or not.

Everything has a design, function and purpose and is to be used accordingly if we are to see it operate at its optimal level and fulfill its optimal purpose. 

The one who knows best how things operate and why they exist is the creator of those things/gifts. 

To operate things according to the givers will is to also operate according to God's design of things and therefore to operate at an optimal level.  

The designer of those gifts is always the one who best knows how their creation works and must always be rightfully heeded and confided in for the best results/outcome.

How are we created and designed to operate? 

We were designed to love God with everything we have and are and our neighbor as ourselves i.e. To know God and to make him known; to spread his renown/glory so others might also live as designed for God's highest glory and their maximum benefit.

Knowing and loving God is not something we initiate but the fruit of being known and loved by God i.e. We are not love initiators but love responders. To say it succinctly, we love him because he first loves us