Monday, May 31, 2010

Victim No More

******My thoughts are a bit scattered this morning, and for that I apologize. I hope the heart of the message came through though. ******
As the month of May and my position as a counselor come to an end, I've been thinking about my life. I've been trying to evaluate what has happened to me over the last year or so. My relationship with God has been mediocre at best. Why? As I was thinking through all of that, I realized that I'm asking the wrong question. The question isn't what has happened to me, but what have I chosen to do. It seems that I've played the role of victim, something which I'm constantly encouraging the people that I counsel not to do. It wasn't until this morning that I actually realized that that is what is happening. I've taken a helpless, apathetic perspective on life & God waiting for things to change without taking any serious steps forward to make that change.

I was reading through James this morning, and it says in James 2:21-22, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;" Abraham was acting on his faith, and his faith was perfected. I need to be acting on my faith, instead of sitting on my rear end waiting for things to come to me.

I was also reading a blog by a student in India. She talked about being in India and experiencing it, but realizing that she is in India to be a part of what God is doing there. I am in America taking it all in, but not being a part of what God is doing here. I need to get off my rump & start acting on my faith.

God has been reminding me that He loves me, and that I love Him & others in direct correlation with how much I understand that. I've obviously lost sight of that some. Whether I feel it or not, I know that God loves me, and I need to live in faith by acting on the fact that He loves me . . . so I need to love others and go to them. I can't have the victim mentality and wait for everyone to come to me.

God, help me to act on Your love for me, by loving others & having my eyes open to the work that you are doing around me. Help me to jump in & not wait around for someone else to do it or wait for when I feel like it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spending Time with God

I've gotten too regimented in my time with God, and it is killing my relationship with Him. The last 2 posts that I made were not made from reading Scripture but from spending time in conversation with God. Now what God showed me during that time matched up with Scripture, but I didn't get it by reading. I'm not saying we shouldn't read Scripture . . . so please don't misunderstand me. But my soul longs for intimacy with my Father, and it doesn't come from just reading Scripture mechanically. We must spend time with Him.

I just read an article by Gary Moon entitled "Getting Scripture All the Way Through Me." He talked about a man in his family that read the entire Bible literally a couple hundred times, and yet he was the meanest, angriest, and most hateful person that he knew. He was reading too much & too fast to allow an intimate relationship with the Author. So spend time meditating, praying, seeing God in everything from coffee to porches to trees to golf. He is constantly wanting to show us Himself. Look for Him!

Lord, I long hard after you; please fill my soul.

Friday, May 14, 2010

More Thoughts on Imago Dei

So I walked the Greenway again the other day, and continued to pray for people, and God continued to show me more about how His image is in each person. I watched people enjoy talking, laughing, walking, and just being together. Some may be believers, others are not. As a believer, I wonder, how do unbelievers find some level of joy without Him? Why do we all seek to be in relationship with others? Why do we want to be married or have deep friendships? Bkz being in relationship with another person who is created in His image (whether believers or not), is giving us a taste of being in relationship with Him. We find some fulfillment with these relationships bkz we are in relationship with someone who was created in His image. But we, being created in His image, aren't Him; so we find the relationships only partly fulfilling.

The only fulfilling relationship is with the Father. He will complete us totally, and do it perfectly! So seek hard to develop your relationship with Him, and be careful to treat those created in His image with love & respect.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Imago Dei

Last evening, I was walking the Greenway in Cleveland, TN. I've taken up walking instead of running, bkz I've found that it is actually more stress relieving than running. It just takes longer. So in order to make the time faster, I decided to pray. I get very easily distracted when I pray, so God told me to pray for every person that I passed. If you've ever been on the Greenway in the evenings when it is beautiful out, you'll know this can be a challenge.

I passed some young teenage girls and prayed for them to know that they are loved & valuable to God. I passed an older couple, and prayed that they would love their families well & be encouraged by those around them. I passed an older woman, and I prayed that she wouldn't feel alone. I passed these 2 young boys that were trying to get my attention, and I prayed that God would put good mentors in their lives to give them good attention. I prayed for young moms that were screaming at their kids about how they are such "brats," and I prayed that God would give the moms patience, love, and encouragement for their kids. That their significant others would love them well, and encourage them. That the kids would know that they are valuable & loved by God. I prayed that all of them would come to know God if they didn't already. I passed a middle aged woman with a mentally challenged young man, and I prayed for patience with him & comprehension of God for him. Whatever God laid on my heart, I prayed.

I found that as I prayed I began to see people differently. I didn't get annoyed with the young boys acting rudely trying to get my attention. I didn't get angry with the moms screaming at their kids. I began to pity them. A homeless man walked by me, and God said, "Whether he knows me or not, he is created in My image." It is amazing how that changes things. I got in my car, and got frustrated with the driver in front of me. Instantly the Lord reminded me that they were created in His image. I have no idea what is going on in their life. Don't judge them.

So this morning, I was reading James 3 where it talks about controlling the tongue. I found verse 9 really fascinating in light of yesterday's experience: "With it we bless our Lord & Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God." I went from blessing people for an hour on the Greenway to cursing them in my car. OUCH!

So it is my goal today, to bless the people that I come in conact with . . . at Walmart, in the car, on the Greenway, at work . . . bless and don't curse. They were all created in the image of God!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Twisted Truth

It has been a rough several months, and I think I've finally come to the bottom of my funk. I've discovered a new lie in my life, that I'd not noticed before. About 4 years ago, I was on fire for God. I was always content, always happy, always speaking about Him, and things changed. I still stuck to the truth, but my joy was gone. I think it started about 2 years ago when I read a good book that I took to the extreme: Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb. It is a great book with great points, but when taken to the extreme it makes God a kill-joy. I then kept running across the quote: God is more interested in our character than our comfort. Again, this is true, but when not balanced with other things like James 1:17 "Every good thing given & every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." or "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4).

There seem to be a few things that Scripture teaches that we aren't smart enough to remember to balance. Predestination vs. Free will; Eternal security vs. Blasphemy; etc. We can't wrap our brains around them here, bkz we are finite, but Scripture addresses both sides of these issues. The same is true with what I have been believing . . . a truth twisted. God is more concerned with His glory & our character than our comfort or happiness, but He is still our Father. He still loves us. He still rejoices over you (Zeph.3:17).

So as I've been in my funk for the last several months, I've discovered that somewhere along the line, I started believing that bkz I want something, the Lord isn't going to give it to me. This is a complete contradiction to the 2 verses in the first paragraph (and there are more that teach this!). We have to understand that we'll never understand God this side of heaven, but we have Scripture & prayer that help us to try to make sense of it all.

I'm so glad that I serve a God that loves me, likes me, delights in me, and His joy is my strength!