Friday, June 23, 2017

Offenders and offended

God abhors evil (wrong doing) because he loves those it harms. He hates precisely because he loves first

This same love moves God to be patient with us in our wrong doing and the harm we cause others. He does not delight in our harm or perishing no more then he delights in our harming and destroying others. He equally values all who are created in his image.

So it appears God has a dilemma. He loves both the offender and the offended.


How did God resolve this?

Because of our brokenness, spiritual bankruptcy and inability to operate (to love) as we were designed and because of his infinite love for us and complete hatred for the wrongdoing that entangles and destroys us all, he provided the solution himself. God sent someone else (who came willingly out of love for him and love for us) to remedy this dilemma by having this person (willingly) suffer the consequences in our place. *Someone who did no true harm or offense (except calling out others on their arrogance...which of course they found offensive). 

He did this so both those who harm (offend) and those who are harmed (offended) might not have to reap long term destruction.

We are all offenders and offended.

To provide a solution he, who did no wrong and did not deserve it, took all of this and deliberately put it on himself instead of onto us, who did. He sent Jesus. He now invites you to accept his gift and experience the fullness of his love that moved him to offer it. 

This is why it's call amazing grace!!

Psa_85:10  Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Isa 53:3  He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

5  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

*Evil - רַע   (pronounced ra) (948c) in the Old Testament Hebrew; from the same as H7455; evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity

— adversity (7), calamity (4), disaster (2), evil (94), harm (2), harmful (1), hurt (1),ruin (3), surely (1), trouble (2), unpleasant (1), wickedly (1), wickedness (1).

For a further discussion regarding evil click here.  

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*in order for someone else to credit us with righteousness (God honoring living) and to bear the consequences of our unrighteousness (rebellious unbelief leading to God dishonoring living), they could not have any of their own unrighteousness (rebellious unbelief) and had to live fully for the glory of God (be righteous). The only sacrifice that could meet this was a "lamb without spot and blemish" (no flaws, sins i.e. no unfaithfulness to living for God's honor but total faithfulness. Someone who loved God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves). The only person to do that was the eternal Son of God and Son of man, Jesus Christ. 


Friday, June 16, 2017

Shifting hope

We get frustrated (or angry) with the struggles of life because intuitively we know pain and struggle is not what we were originally created for. We were ultimately created for a relationship of infinite, uninterrupted love, joy and bliss; not merely finite (limited/temporary) relationships or relationships with things finite.

We long for a relationship of *infinite love. When we can not find it we go after anything else we can "get our hands on" to give us that sense of love, glory, meaning, value etc. Yet we never truly find long term what we seek. We only experience tastes of it in fits and starts. 

Even for those blessed enough to be in a healthy relationship(s)... one(s) they are truly grateful for, it still is not enough. We long for more because we were designed for more...far more. 

Until we realize what we long for will not and can not be found in this life, we go through life constantly disappointed and always frustrated. 

Only when we come to a place that we know what we really long for is not here but yet to come, does the frustration subside. Our hope shifts and we enter into a true and lasting hope and begin to pursue all other things in light of this new hope. 

Rom 5:2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Rom 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Heb 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

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*Once true (perfect, infinite, uninterrupted) love is awakened, we desire more with even greater intensity and ultimately with everything that is in us. 

Usually the closest we come to this is when we "fall in love" for the first time. But it isn't sufficient because perfect, infinite, uninterrupted love is what we are designed for. This is our ultimate and true hope and only this love will do.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Eternal progression

Being finite and being untrusting (unbelieving) are not the same. 

A key aspect of unbelief is refusing to recognize the reality of our limitations or that of the worlds. 

e.g. Adam was told he was not suited to know good and evil *(yet) i.e. He was limited/finite. Yet he bought into the lie he could be his own god (someone with no limits) and no longer needed to be the limited/finite being he actually was; a being dependent on the truly and only infinite, self sufficient one (i.e. God), for life,love and all things.

In eternity the means by which we will continue to progress is not by faith as we do presently (since we will then be face to face with God and relate to him by sight) but instead, by an ever increasing expansion of our being in greater union with the infinite source of love and life.

And because God is infinite our expansion/progression will never cease i.e. We will always be increasing in our capacity to experience and enjoy God throughout eternity. There will never come a point we will "arrive" i.e. stop expanding in our experience, for there is no end to the infinite or our capacity to experience him. The reason our capacity will be ever expanding is we are like God i.e. In his image.

The love of God presently revealed to us by the Spirit through faith is what transforms us now and in eternity. The difference in eternity is that love will be experienced directly and seen face to face and not by faith i.e. No longer through a glass darkly.

* For a fuller discussion click here

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* Some have speculated that as Adam and Eve matured they might have eventually been allowed to eat of the tree. The reasoning is everything God made (all trees) were good. And knowing good and evil was an attribute of God himself and therefore must have been a good attribute but one that required something Adam and Eve did not yet have but over time might have developed. I am not sure I subscribe to this notion but it is an interesting one.  

Of course the challenge to this view is Christ "was slain before the foundation of the world" i.e. the fall was anticipated if not planned. So a scenario that does not include the fall is purely speculation, not to mention an inferior option, otherwise it would have occurred if you believe God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things/events. 



Friday, June 2, 2017

The essence of God's life (and therefore ours)

The below thoughts are inspired by Kyle Strobel's comments from an interview with Tony Reinke as Kyle reflects on insights from Jonathan Edwards. 

For the full interview click here  


Beatific

Gods self-knowledge is beatific. It is not a sterile, unattached, impersonal knowing of facts or simple information about Himself, it is personal, affectionate and relational knowledge. It is a knowing that causes the one who knows to desire/long for (it is affectionate) the one beheld/known. This is all due to the beauty of God. In short, God's life is beatific vision. 

Christ is God's perfect self understanding. An understanding so exact and complete it manifests/generates (begets eternally) a completely distinct and separate person (also with his own distinct understanding and will) as the only (eternally) begotten Son. 

The Father delights in the beauty of the Son (the Fathers exact and perfect self understanding [Logos] and perfect image of himself) 

and  

The Son enjoys the Father's delight. 


The Spirit

God's life (Spirit/Love) springs forth from (out of) beatific vision i.e. the beholding of the infinite beauty of the Son (the perfect self understanding/Logos of the Father) and the Son's response of mutual delight/love (Spirit) of his Father flows (overflows) out (as the Spirit) to his creatures/creation (particularly his image bearers [us] who are most able to participate in and enjoy this mutual delight in the beauty of God).

The Father generates the only begotten Son. The Son and Father gazing upon one another in love generates the Spirit as love.

Perfect and infinite knowledge of the beauty of God produces perfect and infinite love/affections as (in the form of) the Spirit.

God's life is religious affection (inward; generated from within between the Father and the Son) and pure act (outward; flowing out to others).

The Son is the image of God and the Spirit is the illumination of that image.


God's life consists of (is) 

Perfect and infinite knowledge (understanding/Logos) 

and  

Perfect and infinite love/affections (will/Spirit) 


We are like God

All knowledge of God is affectionate knowledge i.e. A kind of knowledge that always produces affections, desires, longings. It is true of God and therefore, as his image bearers, must also be true of us.

The knowledge he has in his own life governs how we know him as well.

Religious affection is seeing God in his true beauty and thereby knowing God and having your affections inclined towards him.

The only way for us to know God is through God's self revealing.

You can't have true knowledge of God without having your heart inclined towards him because all knowledge of God is affectionate.

Because this is true in God's life it has to be true in our life.

Partakers of God's very own nature

"The sight of the Father Christ has by nature we are given by grace."

2Pe 1:3-4  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of *sinful desire. 
...His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness
How? ...through the knowledge of him. i.e. God has given (by grace) us everything we need to participate in and experience life and godliness.
...he has granted to us his precious and very great promises... 
How? By his own glory and excellence i.e. By his infinite worth and perfect action/conduct
Why? So that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature.
Beholding God by faith is a darkened (dim...because it is not direct and therefore not perfectly clear) version of the beatific vision. I Cor 13:12, I John 3:2
We behold God now by faith (i.e. not directly, face to face) and will behold him in eternity by sight but in both instances the common denominator is beholding him i.e. Being caught up and participating in the beatific vision (the eternal delight of the Father gazing upon his Son and his Sons response of joy/delight). 
In both cases (now by faith and in eternity by sight) this beholding is a progression. As we see God now by faith we are changed as our faith increases. As we see God in eternity by direct sight we will also be changed as our understanding/view/experience of him in all his glory, majesty and beauty grows fuller/clearer.
The process of change in eternity has nothing to do with sinfulness, for Christ himself increased in faithfulness (learned obedience) through the things he suffered, yet his learning also had nothing to do with being sinful but with being incarnated as a finite man.
As finite creatures, we too will constantly be growing in our relationship and understanding (and joy) of the infinite i.e. God. The reason is because there is no end to the infinite i.e. God. Therefore we will never reach the "end", "bottom" or "top" of God.
God has created us like himself with the capacity to participate in the infinite. Our beholding him will increase by virtue of him being infinite and our being finite i.e. We will always be expanding since we will never arrive i.e. we will never be infinite since only God is infinite (yet we are eternal).

Beauty
Primary beauty is God's love life i.e. The life of love that transpires between the Father and Son in and by the Spirit.

All knowledge of God is visual so all knowledge of God is beholding his beauty. Not a physical but a spiritual beauty and beholding.

Why is it when we see something beautiful it "takes our breath away?" Because beholding God (the most beautiful/glorious) is an affectionate knowledge. We are draw to (we move/take action toward) and have affections for that which is beautiful. Why?  Because we were ultimately made for God who is infinite and primary beauty, the cause of everything else which is beautiful. Everything else is secondary beauty and a glimmer/manifestation of God, who is the Creator of all things (i.e. secondary beauty) which it meant to point to him who is primary beauty. 


Spiritual vs physical beauty

Since God is not physical, per se, the beauty of God is also not physical but relational (he took on human form in Christ but he is not "human form." It is not the essence of his being (i.e. human form is not part of his essential nature). The beauty of God is not something we physically behold but something we see displayed in relationship i.e. relationally vs physically. 

Harmony is a quality of relationship that characterize beauty.

What is relational beauty? It is harmony within diversity (e.g. Christ is equally God and man. God reveals himself to us most fully as a man. The diversity of the finite and infinite unit [harmonize] in one being, the God/Man). It is when things which are very different from each other work in harmony (driven by and due to love). Such as the love/harmony between and man and women, who are wired differently, both emotionally and physically. It is also how God exists/relates as the triune God; to himself as Father, Son and Spirit, and to us his image bearers. 

Things you would normally consider not working together, work because of love. This is the essence of beauty and what makes something beautiful.   

Physical beauty is secondary beauty. Relational beauty is primary beauty. 

Primary beauty is God's own life. 

God is beauty, because God is love and life. All of this makes God glorious. 

The way God solves problems is by being present. Since God is life and all problems are a manifestation of the absence of life, Gods presence is the solution. And this is because the essence of life is love/value/glory. Because we were made for love/value/glory we are most complete when we participate in these i.e. When we participate in God himself and his life...when he is most present with us and we with him.  

A thorough discussion of the ideas that inspired the above comments is discussed extensively in Kyle Strobel's book "Jonathan Edward's Theology:A Reinterpretation"

For related thoughts to the above, starting with the basic and progressing to the more technical...

here and 

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*How are we freed from sinful desire? By finding a superior desire that is more satisfying then the one we wish to be freed from. If you wish to lose your appetite for cold fast food (which is better then nothing if you are starving and nothing else is available), eat freshly prepared gourmet cooking...or better yet, find a gourmet cook that delights in feeding you. 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

great effort or great faith...opposites?

The question isn't whether diligent effort brings great results; it is what drives our effort i.e. why do we act. Do we act for God's honor or our own? 

Great results never comes without great effort...ever, regardless of the motive.

Great results it not a question of effort, but whether those efforts are driven "by the flesh" or "by the Spirit." What determines if results are truly great is whether they are driven by the Spirit. 

Great honor to God is the motive for great efforts driven by the Spirit and never happen without great humility and trust in God. 

Great humility and trust produces great effort which produces great results/fruit. This is to operate "by the Spirit." 

Being a believer does not mean we are to be passive in general but passive only in independent effort  i.e. in efforts driven "by the flesh." 

We are to be active and fruitful. Active in our trust, dependence and obedience to God which always results in fruit. As scripture says, "the just shall live by faith"

But it all must start with God and driven by him (i.e. in and by the Spirit). How? The more we behold the love of God (the only source of life, love and all things), the greater our trust and dependence on God. The greater our trust the greater our obedience. The greater our obedience, the greater the results. 

2Co 9:6  The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 

John 15:8  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 

John 15:16  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 

Psa 127:1  ... Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 

John 14:15  "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 

John 14:21  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." 

John 15:10  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 

1Jn 5:2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 

1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 

2Jn 1:6  And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 

For a fuller discussion of what it means to live by the Spirit or by the flesh click here.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Maturity

Maturity is marked by a tension of an increasing awareness

* Of the total extent of our brokenness i.e. our persistent tendency to try and be our own god and make life work without God. 

* That we make a very poor god and can not make life, as it should be, work without God. 

While at the same time becoming increasingly aware

* That God's love for us has nothing to do with our brokenness (or "goodness") and has everything to do with Christ being broken for us, 

* Resulting in our increasing love for, trust in and pursuit of God.

Our awareness of this tension between our brokenness and God's complete remedy for it increases as we continue to mature.  

The greatest indication of maturity is not our obtaining perfection but the growing awareness of our imperfection and God's total remedy for it.



Monday, May 15, 2017

Starting in the Spirit, ending in the flesh.

To operate in the flesh is acting to get love/approval/acceptance.

To operate in the Spirit is acting to give love because we already have it in Christ. 

If we are in Christ we already have God's perfect love i.e. God's love for his children is perfect (complete) and infinite because of what Christ has already done. Nothing we do or don't do will add to or take away from this love.  

To more fully experience it (subjectively) however, we must remain (abide/believe) in that objective reality. 

To remain in it suggests we can and do discontinue operating by the Spirit. Not only do we start in the Spirit but we are to continue in the Spirit (Gal 3:3). 

To initiate an activity of the Spirit does not mean we will automatically continue to do so. Our activity can start in the Spirit and deteriorate into an act of the flesh (i.e. performance, living under the law). 

The reason we are called to abide is our tendency is to not abide. In fact operating without the Spirit is our default way of doing things (i.e. how we naturally act without the Spirit moving us). 

If we do not continue to abide, we will digress into operating in the flesh. Without the Spirits enabling and empowering, we are naturally inclined to operate in the flesh. It's a constant pull on us until we learn to operate under grace i.e. in/by the Spirit. 

To start and remain (abide) in the Spirit requires a constant attitude of ongoing acceptance of (trust in) and dependence on God's love i.e. Without me you can do nothing John 15:5.

It is the exact opposite of operating in the flesh or what I like to call "performance based" action. Performance based action is acting to gain God's approval and acceptance. Spirit driven action is out of love for God because we already have his approval and acceptance in Christ i.e. based on Christ's efforts that gained it for us, not our efforts/action. 

Any activity that creates or strengthens a desire to stay focused inward (seeking the approval of God or others) and not outward on blessing others has deteriorated into an activity of the flesh and is no longer actions moved or inspired by the Spirit, even if it started out as an act of the Spirit.

To operate in the flesh is to seek getting what we need i.e. love, acceptance and approval.

To operate in the Spirit is to give what others need because we derive what we ultimately need (total love, acceptance and approval) from God.
  • For definition of terms such as "walking in the flesh" or "walking in the Spirit" click here
  • For a further discussions of remaining/abiding in his love click here


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

two ways we experience God's love

We experience the love of God in two ways. 

When...

1.   We behold the God of love in our times of meditation and worship (private or corporate) 
and  
2.   We live his love out i.e. when we live for the glory of God by our actions of loving others sacrificially as God loves us.

The former is the essence of the greatest commandment. The latter is the essence of the second which is like it.

Mat 22:36  "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 

Mar 12:29  Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (Mark makes this statement of worship, whereas Matthew doesn't so I inserted it here between the quote from Matthew). 

37  And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38  This is the great and first commandment. 39  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

Those who do the former without the latter become spiritually fat and lazy.

Those who attempt to do the latter without the former experience frustration and burn out. 

Though we experience God's love now by faith i.e. in believing in his love demonstrated in Christ's work on our behalf. We also experience and participate in his love by acting in love toward others i.e. obedience. 

We must have both. The former fuels and drives the latter. The latter fulfills/completes the former.

Some might argue, what about those times when God demonstrates his love through special provision in a given situation such as answers to pray etc? If and when he does, he does so when we are advancing his kingdom and glory  i.e. living his love out to others, which is the second item above. If God were to bless us outside of this it would only strengthen self indulgence not a greater desire to pursue God for who he is, verses what he does. God then becomes a means to another end (i.e. a specific blessing for my exclusive benefit) and not the end himself. 

Mat 7:7  "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 

Mat 7:11  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  

Mat 18:19  Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 

Mat 21:22  And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." 

Joh 14:13  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. 

Joh 15:7  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 

Joh 15:16  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 

Joh 16:23  In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24  Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 

Jas 4:2  You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions

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For a further discussion on the last point above click here



Thursday, May 4, 2017

but I am just telling you the truth...

What is the way of Christ? What does it primarily consist of? For many it is the only true way as well the way of truth. And this would be correct. Christ said, "I am the way, the truth and the life…" However is this way only about truth? 

What about grace? Isn't the way of Christ also the way of grace; the good news/gospel way? It is. 

So which is it? The way of truth or the way of grace? It is both

What is interesting is the Bible mentions both of these as vital about who Christ is, but in a particular order. It says Christ came full of grace and truth. Notice grace comes first. 

Joh 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And if you go down two more verses we see this: 

Joh 1:16  And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 

It is also worth noting that this passage is dealing with God incarnate i.e. God himself (the Word was God Jn1:1) revealing who he is in and through Christ.

Why does God the Father describe Christ in this manner i.e. Grace before truth? Is this deliberate? Does it matter?

I propose that the order and emphasis (3 mentions of grace to 1 of truth) isn't incidental. Not only because it is the emphasis and order given but also because we are unable to hear and receive the truth unless we think it is coming from someone we are persuaded loves us first. The old saying, "I don't care about what you know until I know that you care" comes to mind. 

We are not able to hear, see or experience the love of God in our broken state without grace first. God's love is offered, experienced and entered into on the merits of anothers efforts (i.e. by grace), not ours. If our experiencing his love was based on our efforts, we would never experience it. We can never do enough to merit his love. Christ also died for us long before any of us accepted or experienced it. We only trust the words of Christ to be true when we come to believe and receive this unmerited love of God first.

To illustrate, think of someone, a total stranger, being brutally honest about a characteristic of yours that is not very flattering. Let's say you had bad breath or seriously needed a shower and they told you. How would you respond to their speaking the truth? Would you receive it well even if it was 100% true? Truth is important after all. Unless your identity was strongly rooted in God's love for and you had Rhino skin (actually more of a grounded heart then a strong exterior), probably not. 

Now what if someone who had proven their love and faithfulness to you in thick and thin. They stuck with you no matter what you are going through and shared the same truth (i.e. you were confident in their love because of a past incredibly huge sacrificial act that resulted in their losing everything for your sake)? Would your response be different?

I propose that many within the church that are quick to go for the jugular with the truth and always try to convince others that they have, believe and are promoters of the truth etc OR they always seek to show others how, when and where they are in error, because they personally have not experienced the grace of God a great deal (if at all). There view of God is not of one who is loving but one who requires perfect performance and is disappointed in them when they don't perform well. 

The desire to correct others can come more from our own personal insecurity than from a desire to defend the truth or God's honor. 

We must always be sure we are speaking the truth. The truth must never be compromised. But in order for them to hear that truth, it is up to us to also sow those seeds of love and trust into hearts so they might receive it. How do we do so? By only preaching the truth to them? No, by first loving them as Christ loves us i.e. sacrificially with mercy and grace. 

For a further discussion of how we are to approach others click here


Saturday, April 29, 2017

pride, humility or both

Humility does not mean we can not (or are not allowed to) find satisfaction ("take pride") in completing a task. Humility is knowing the energy that drives us and the resources we utilize to do so are all gifts; they come from outside of us, not from us.

To "take pride" in accomplishment can simply mean we recognize we are Gods appointed means (the instrument and conduit) by which things are accomplished and are grateful and humbled by being that instrument to bring about his purposes.

In fact when we clearly understand our role (as stewards) we can be "proud" (in this sense) and humbled at the same time

To be recognized for doing something well is truly humbling when we properly understand how this comes about and who we truly are... Broken, rebellious, yet fully redeemed, Spirit infused and empowered, infinitely cherished and totally loved/embraced image bearers of God.

God honors/values/takes pride in our accomplishments done for his honor:

"For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 

Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 
And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.'  

His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' 

His master said to him,  'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'  - Jesus Mat 25:14 -23 



Monday, April 24, 2017

worry vs care

Being weighed down with the care for those things God cares about is not worry; it is concern. God is always caring. He never worries.

Worry is all about us. 
Care is all about others.

In caring we are never alone. 
In worry we are always alone.

Never expect or demand others to share your worry. 
Always hope others will help shoulder your care.

Worry is never legitimate. 
Caring is always legitimate. 

Worry is inward focused on "me"
Care is outward focused on others 

Worry locks us up and shuts us down
Care energizes and moves us forward

We are called to always care, never to worry.

Most of us don't just worry or only care. We are usually a mixture of both but should always seek to embrace care and abandon worry. The good news is because of Christ, he loves us the same either way. 

Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

C.S. LEWIS TALKS TO A DOG ABOUT LUST


C.S. LEWIS TALKS TO A DOG ABOUT LUST

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The following is a reproduction of the original article found here
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People sometimes think of Christian morality as a straitjacket—as if God has given us arbitrary commands that we must keep in order to prove our devotion to him. Following God’s instructions (especially in matters related to sexuality) requires us to sacrifice what we truly want, or to squelch our desires, in order to show God how much we love him. We are to give up what we want and obey him instead.
Reading through the collected letters of C. S. Lewis this year, I came across this gem in a letter from Lewis to his lifelong friend, Arthur Greeves, on September 12, 1933. Lewis was no stranger to lust and sexual temptation, and neither was Greeves, who experienced same-sex attraction.
But Lewis believed that the “Christian morality is arbitrary” perspective doesn’t go deep enough. It doesn’t consider what we really want. Neither does it deal with what God really wants. He uses his dog as an example:
“Supposing you are taking a dog on a lead through a turnstile or past a post. You know what happens (apart from his usual ceremonies in passing a post!). He tries to go to the wrong side and gets his head looped round the post. You see that he can’t do it, and therefore pull him back. You pull him back because you want to enable him to go forward. He wants exactly the same thing—namely to go forward: for that very reason he resists your pull back, or, if he is an obedient dog, yields to it reluctantly as a matter of duty which seems to him to be quite in opposition to his own will: though in fact it is only by yielding to you that he will ever succeed in getting where he wants.”
I wish I’d come across this illustration sooner, because I would have included it in This Is Our Time as an example of one of my book’s main pointsthat underneath the myths we believe and the actions we perform are both longings and lies.
The dog believes the lie that the only way forward, the only way to get what it wants, is to push ahead. Lewis, the dog-owner, affirms the longing of the dog to go forward, but he must pull the dog back in order for it to actually make any progress.
Lewis Talks to His Dog
Next, Lewis explains what he would say to his dog, if suddenly it became a theologian and was frustrated by the owner’s thwarting of its will:
‘My dear dog, if by your will you mean what you really want to do, viz. to get forward along the road, I not only understand this desire but share it. Forward is exactly where I want you to go.
‘If by your will, on the other hand, you mean your will to pull against the collar and try to force yourself forward in a direction which is no use—why I understand it of course: but just because I understand it (and the whole situation, which you don’t understand) I cannot possibly share it. In fact the more I sympathize with your real wish—that is, the wish to get on—the less can I sympathize (in the sense of ‘share’ or ‘agree with’) your resistance to the collar: for I see that this is actually rendering the attainment of your real wish impossible.’
God Shares Our Ultimate Desire
Lewis applies this parable to our own situation. As human beings, we long for happiness, yet believe the lies that lead to evil actions:
God not only understands but shares the desire which is at the root of all my evil—the desire for complete and ecstatic happiness. He made me for no other purpose than to enjoy it. But He knows, and I do not, how it can be really and permanently attained. He knows that most of my personal attempts to reach it are actually putting it further and further out of my reach. With these therefore He cannot sympathize or ‘agree’: His sympathy with my real will makes that impossible. (He may pity my misdirected struggles, but that is another matter.)
So, over against the person who says, “I must squelch my desires, out of duty to God” Lewis says, No, God actually shares your ultimate desire. He is redirecting your path so you can actually find that joy you long for.
And over against the person who says, “God affirms me as I am and sympathizes with all my desires,” Lewis would say, No. Because God affirms your ultimate desire, he must categorically reject your sinful actions and desires, for they will forever keep you from what you really want.
The Longing for Joy and the Lie of Sin
What’s the takeaway? First, Lewis says we can look back at our history and see there is a God-given longing behind many of our sinful actions.
“I may always feel looking back on any past sin that in the very heart of my evil passion there was something that God approves and wants me to feel not less but more. Take a sin of Lust. The overwhelming thirst for rapture was good and even divine: it has not got to be unsaid (so to speak) and recanted.”
But now Lewis exposes the lie: the idea that giving into your sinful, illicit lust will fulfill that longing:
“But [the thirst] will never be quenched as I tried to quench it. If I refrain—if I submit to the collar and come round the right side of the lamp-post—God will be guiding me quickly as He can to where I shall get what I really wanted all the time.”
The Gracious, Ruthless God
Second, Lewis says this parable applies to future temptation, and helps us understand why we should expect God to be ruthless in condemning our sin:
“When we are thinking of a sin in the future, i.e. when we are tempted, we must remember that just because God wants for us what we really want and knows the only way to get it, therefore He must, in a sense, be quite ruthless towards sin.
“He is not like a human authority who can be begged off or caught in an indulgent mood. The more He loves you the more determined He must be to pull you back from your way which leads nowhere into His way which leads you where you want to God. Hence MacDonald’s words ‘The all-punishing, all-pardoning Father’.”
It is impossible to appeal to God’s “love” in order to affirm you in your lusts. God cannot and will not affirm your sinful desires and actions because to do so would make it impossible for you to know true joy.
So what should you do when you fall into sin? Ask for forgiveness and redirection.
“You may go the wrong way again, and again He may forgive you: as the dog’s master may extricate the dog after he has tied the whole lead round the lamp-post. But there is no hope in the end of getting where you want to go except by going God’s way.”
Longings and Lies in Our Lust
This parable about the dog helps us see both the longings and the lies in the world’s understanding of sexuality, and it smashes the idea that God wants to kill our joy or obliterate all our desires. Far from it! Instead, Lewis believes that God pulls back the collar precisely because He wants us to find the delight we crave, in Him:
“I think one may be quite rid of the old haunting suspicion—which raises its head in every temptation—that there is something else than God, some other country into which He forbids us to trespass—some kind of delight which He ‘doesn’t appreciate’ or just chooses to forbid, but which would be real delight if only we were allowed to get it. The thing just isn’t there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as He can, or else a false picture of what He is trying to give us—a false picture which would not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing.
“God knows what we want, even in our vilest acts. He is longing to give it to us. He is not looking on from the outside at some new ‘taste’ or ‘separate desire of our own.’ Only because he has laid up real goods for us to desire are we able to go wrong by snatching at them in greedy, misdirected ways. . . . 
“Thus you may well feel that God understands our temptations—understands them a great deal more than we do. But don’t forget MacDonald again—’Only God understands evil and hates it.’ Only the dog’s master knows how useless it is to try to get on with the lead knotted around the lamppost. This is why we must be prepared to find God implacably and immovably forbidding what may seem to us very small and trivial things.”
God understands our temptations. He knows our hearts better than we do. He sympathizes with our ignorant attempts to find joy apart from him. But in his great love, he refuses to affirm us in our misdirected ways. To do so would be to abandon us to the leash and lamppost, where we would strangle ourselves.