Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What the hell are we doing?

You know, becoming a Christian is a huge leap. A lot of people look at those of who make it and think it's a leap into darkness at best, or absolute idiocy at worst. Those people probably would describe more like a fall than a leap, as off our rockers, but truly, that's their issue. The bible says flat out, that the wisdom of God is foolishness to man, and the fact is, it isn't going to be understood by them. It's not even their fault, there is just, quite simply, no revelation there. And you know what, God bless them, the best we can do for those who hold that view of us, is pray for the scales to fall from their eyes. It's a supernatural work that has to happen in them and on our own, we will never persuade another into the kingdom.

Sadly, this perception of Christians has become completely politically correct. It's not only acceptable to attack traditional Christian values, it's truly encouraged. Bill Maher and Kathy Griffin make full time jobs out of attacking the beliefs, the values and the people who hold them. The time of "live and let live" is long gone, and it isn't coming back.

There's part of the big leap one has to make choosing Christ. You will not only have to deal with the questioning of your beliefs, values and even your mental capacity/ capabilities, but in many areas you will even have to deal with the possible rejection of relationship. People will stop being your friend for following Christ. People in your family will reject you, and judge you, possibly even your own spouse. But this isn't something that should surprise us. Jesus warned us we would be hated because they hated Him first.

Now, there are those who will make the mental ascent to Jesus and maybe even pray the prayer to ask him into their hearts, and then choose to just stay on the "down low" with their Christianity. I strongly suspect they will find that a miserable and uncomfortable place to be, but many will do it, out of fear or doubt or just because they don't want to "rock the boat," but this is a game I personally wouldn't ever want to risk playing. The scripture says if we deny Jesus before men, He will deny us before the Father, and since we don't get into heaven for eternity without Jesus standing up for us, I just won't go there. And I don't recommend anyone else does either.

In my opinion if you try to be an incognito Christian, one of two things is going to happen. Either you will eventually burn out. It's too much to carry on, and you will eventually walk away from the beliefs you are not willing to stand for. If that isn't what happens to you, then I believe it is because the Lord will eventually hound you out of the darkness. He won't let you stay in the place of confusion and falsehood. He will push you till you are ready to make the stand. I know I've heard the whole "God is a Gentleman" spiel, but let me just say, a gentleman doesn't equal a pansy. He won't let you stay there, He won't. One way or another the stealth Christian is a temporary gig.

So you know what? I think those who actually choose to follow Christ and stand for Him publicly are pretty ballsy people these days. (Yeah, I said ballsy, get over it.) It takes a lot of courage to stand for Christ. It's a risk and a purposeful act of bravery. Props to those who make it. Props to the high school student who takes the stand in his school, or the employee in his work place, the mom in her neighborhood, I say bravo. I say way to go when you stand up and go against the grain and when everyone else thinks you should take the easy way out, or just keep quiet about your faith, and you don't, more power to you!

So here is the issue that is really on my heart tonight, I want to talk to you, the brave, the ones who are out there, proclaiming Christ in their lives, in the bent of their own personalities, in their own unique way. You, you are who you are, IN CHRIST. I want to ask you a question.

Why are we having such a hard time believing the word of God? I mean, sincerely, you have made the hardest choice, you have chosen to trust Him with your eternity, you have believed Him for your salvation. Does it get any bigger than that? I don't believe it does. So I am asking, if you can believe in Him for something that big, how come we have such a hard time believing Him for the every day? Why do we believe His word for that, but when life starts to happen we choke?

That big Book we Christians carry isn't just for show. Jesus IS the Word. And when you open that Bible, you are delving into the very heart of Him Who you have entrusted your eternity to. But all of a sudden way too many of us are questioning whether or not that Truth applies to our daily lives.

If the Bible isn't true for our every day, then what the hell are we doing?? When God said He would care for our every day, it was Truth. When He said He would NEVER leave us or forsake us, it was TRUTH. It IS Truth. It's the "fact of the matter" for our lives. And you know what? I think it's time we start living our lives like we know that.

We brave Christians, we need to exercise that same strength of faith that helped us choose Him, and proclaim Him in living out our Walk of Faith with Him.

“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

What then shall we say to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

We need to take God at His Word, and live what we say we believe, every day, in Jesus' name.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pesky Emotions

I've started my year out well, on the way to meeting my primary goal for 2011. Granted, I'm not even 3 weeks in, but so far so good. I am reading my bible every day and I am completely caught up (without ever being behind) on my daily reading plan. I am also keeping to my 2nd goal for the year, which is journaling to the Lord on a daily basis. In fact, many days, it's been multiple times a day.

Like I said though, I haven't even hit the 21 day remark. 21 days is one of the many theories about how long it takes to create a habit. I've also heard 40 days. I'm not sure how long it actually takes to create a habit, but I know exactly how long it takes to break one, a single day. So, there is no pride in my affirmation that things are going well, because I know however long I make it, stopping is so much easier than continuing on.

I have to admit though, there has been plenty of inspiration to dig in to the word and be consistent in seeking the Lord. Things are tough, lots isn't looking good for us currently, and the fact is, when you know things are out of your hands, it's a lot easier to be faithful in seeking the hands they're in. Of course even as I type those words I have to chuckle at the irony, because the fact is, things are always in His hands. Not even the very next breath is guaranteed without His approval, so whatever I "place in His hands," the reality is, I'm just acknowledging they're already there.

Fourth paragraph and I've already gone off on two different tangents.

So, I have been sensing some of the benefits that come from abiding in the Lord's presence. And in case you weren't sure, that's a big chuck of what abiding is, praying and reading the Word. Abiding is a beautiful thing. And there is a promise that comes with it, "If you abide in Me, you will bear much fruit..." (John 15:5) Fruit? Yes, fruit, you remember the list, right?, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control... (Galatians 5:22-23) What wonderful, luscious fruits they are. Even in small doses they are delectable to the soul. And I have sensed them. It's been really nice.

Then there are days like today. I haven't done anything any differently. I am seeking, reading, praying, meditating, even proclaiming. I am doing all I am supposed to do to the best of my ability. Not out of "have to" pressures, but out of devotion, because I really want more of the Lord. I am drawing near. And yet, out of nowhere, I feel as though something just seems to have disappeared, left me. I feel... low. My heart is... heavy.

Pesky emotions, sometimes they just have a will of their own.

It started last night. There are some things that are bothering me. I have concerns, I have hurts, I'm disheartened by some things, offended by others. But who doesn't? Life is life. We all have stuff in our lives that we would change if we could. But like a wave, the negative emotions have come in, and pulled me out.

I found myself in the shower this morning, close to tears. Crying isn't a bad thing (I suppose) but it's definitely not something I care for. Truth be told, I can't stand to let someone else see me cry, and not a big fan of crying alone, but wanting to cry without knowing the source? Drives me right to the edge. I want no part. "Sometimes you just need a good cry." That's a statement that isn't really a part of my reality.

By the time I got to church this morning, I felt like I was in a storm. The problem was, the storm was brewing completely inside of me. Hurts and frustrations rising to the surface made even being at church difficult. But, I was holding my own.

As I waited for Neal to return from picking the kids up from Sunday school, I was just biding my time and resisting the desire to bolt. Bolting wouldn't have panned out so well though, seeing how the kids had to leave with me. So I stood waiting.

Have you ever had an intuitive friend? You know, one of those friends who can sense the storm inside you from across the room? I have one of those, and she moved in for the kill. OK, not the kill, more like the question. And honestly, I couldn't answer her. I hate that I couldn't answer her, because I honestly don't fully know. I just stood there sort of shrugging and holding back the tears.

By the time I walked out of church my heart was beyond heavy. I was fully convinced that I am not accomplishing anything with eternal value, and questioning whether or not I ever had. I wanted to quit my church, give up my blog, walk away from my ministries, even unplug my Facebook account. And truthfully, as I sit here now, all those ideas still sound extremely tempting. I am certain I could make a good argument, even a valid justification for any and all of those ideas, and my heart would happily lead me there.

In fact the more I dwell on those pesky emotions, and meditate on my feelings, the more I long to go. If nothing I do matters anyway, than why do anything in the first place? That's how I feel.

Here's the thing though, I decided a long time ago, I wouldn't live my life based on how I feel. I realized a long time ago, my "heart couldn't be trusted, and the Word of the Lord confirms it.

“ The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?"

Jeremiah 17:9

Who can know it? Not me, I'm sure. My emotions if allowed to lead, would ruin me every time.

Ever felt like you wanted to give up on your marriage?

Ever felt like life wasn't worth living?

Ever felt so angry you thought you could kill someone?

Ever felt like you wanted to run away from everything?

No? Lucky you, because I sure have, and I don't want to begin to think what life could have been like if I had lived by my emotions. What a mess that would make.

So I can't trust me in the big picture of things. Even when I am doing everything right, there is always a loose cannon factor. I have news for you, I'm not the only one.

So what's a person to do? The Bible has an answer.

“ All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the LORD endures forever.”

1 Peter 1:24-25

The word of the Lord. There it is. There's the certainty I am hoping for. It's the anchor in the waves, it's the light in the darkness, it's where clarity can be found amidst confusion. It's where I know wisdom is to be found, and I can count on the fact that in the end, wisdom is proved to be right by what she does." (Matthew 11:19)

I wish my emotions were always manageable, but they aren't. But as long as they aren't what I lead by, their danger level is sharply reduced. I don't know why the battle exists, but it does. Some days it's a minor threat and others it's a raging war. Today fell somewhere in between, closer to than the war than I'd care for, but at least it didn't win. The waves didn't overwhelm, and I kept swimming.

Tomorrow is a new day, and it holds new hope. Most importantly, I know the Lord will be with me in, and His word will still be truth, and He will still be on my side.