Faith RX’d – Faith Workout

Decided that the Faith RX’d Workout for today resonated with me, so here are my thoughts…

READ

Romans 5:1-11

REFLECT

Peace is something we all desire – in our relationships, in our world, and in our own hearts.  It is what we seek, but what does it really mean?  And, how is it attained?  Biblical peace is defined as “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is” (Thayer).

So, our quest for peace is really a desire to be safe with our God.  It is a state of contentment that only comes from knowing how we stand with our God.  This week’s passage teaches the only true pathway to peace and contentment is through Christ.  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)

RESPOND

1.   Do you feel at peace with God?

2.   What parts of your life still lack peace – family, friendships, work, school, etc.?

3.  What times of difficulty in your life have actually helped you seek peace with God?

“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. (Psalm 37:11-ESV)


 

The biggest thing that I felt am impact with is the idea and notion that we should feel at peace, no matter what is going on around us.  No matter what trials and obstacles sit in front of us, peace can be found within us.  As I have gone down the rabbit hole so to speak, it seems that the human body was designed to be at peace.  That we can lead healthier lives by keeping stress down (look up the impact of cortisol on the body).

Christ desires us to see the bigger picture and that is that all the chaos and things that keep us from finding peace are irrelevant and honestly, meaningless.  The drama at the office or even within your own family is not something that we should allow to take control of our lives and distract us from the Grace that is given to us.

As I read through the verses in Romans referenced above, the fact that there is a line that can be made from perseverance to hope is something that I really needed to hear and focus on today.  I struggle with many things and a lot of them simply come down to wanting to do everything right.  I want hard work to pay off, but I often want it to pay off immediately.  And many times it seems that it is going the opposite direction.

I lack the peace that comes with BELIEVING that perseverance can and will lead to hope.  That my job(s) and my job performance are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  I have a higher calling and part of that begins with demonstrating peace in the storm.  I am working on finding that peace despite my circumstances and not always having the results show up when I want them.

How do you find peace in the storm?

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Let It Go

Don’t worry this has nothing to do with a certain Disney song with that same title.  This is not a youtube video of me singing this…sorry, I cannot put you through that pain and torture.

I have been involved with several different groups of believers in my lifetime.  I am not that old, so I know that there will be many more groups that I will be involved with.  One of the things that I have witnessed in those years is the nature with which we cling to our faith.  We internalize and define what it means to be a Christian by our own standards.  We find what we like and make that our faith.  We take the practices of the brand of Christianity that we like and make that “the way”.

This is my admitting my own guilt in this matter.  There are things in the church that I grew up in, that I have made critical to my definition of faith.  If a church or person did not have these, well they really are not a true Christian. Some people grow up with that traditional church system.  And that becomes their norm.  That becomes something that they cling to and internalize as being one with Jesus.  Others might have grown in a non-traditional setting without a leadership system.  This becomes their norm and both sides are really really good at defending why they operate the way that they do.

All sides can always argue why their method is Scriptural and therefore good.  Each person has learned how to defend their stance on the issue.

And somewhere in all the chaos is this person of Jesus.  Somewhere in the debates and the clinging to our own vision of “THE truth” we lost sight of Christ.  We defend and defend when we should be worshiping.  We get caught up in being right that we neglect the Savior.  I have seen the “discussions” lead to people wondering about their brothers and sisters walk.  Are they really saved?  How can they call themselves a Christian?

And in that regard, I pull you back to Christ.  I encourage everyone to stop looking to be right and start looking to grow closer to Christ.  If the traditions and practices of your church or faith group or whatever term you use, allow you to grow closer to Christ and have a fuller understanding of Him then please continue growing in that manner.  I encourage all of us believers to be open to that moving of the Lord as He works.  If the practices of your group are a barrier to you hearing His voice, then it is time to re-evaluate the entire situation.

I am writing this to encourage all of us to stop clinging to the things of our faith and make sure that we are all growing closer to Christ.  Just because someone questions the way that you worship, please don’t take it as a personal attack or make it your job to validate your own practices.  If you are growing closer to Christ and there is fruit, then keep bearing good fruit.  BUT at the same time, do not think that the other person needs to be set straight.

Because through all the fighting you are missing the fact that Jesus is in the room wanting to share something with you.  Remove the distractions that keep you from getting closer to Him!

My little girl is one…

This past weekend, I celebrated the one year birthday of my youngest.  It was a great day.  It was also a day though where I am reminded of what my commitment is to her as a father.  I have a commitment to both of my girls as a dad, just as I have a commitment to my wife as her husband.

The biggest thing that I am reminded of is that I am not perfect…I will never be the perfect dad to them.  I will make a million mistakes.  So as you turn one (and even my older one who is four) there are some things that you always need to know and remember about me.  You might call these my promises to you…

I will always love you…nothing can change that

I will not always be your friend…I have to be your parent first and that means that some times I will make decisions that you don’t agree with.

I will discipline you…see the above statement

I will fight for you and alongside you

I will do my best to set a good example for you.  When I succeed in life, I want you to see the journey that is involved.  When I fail, I want you to see someone who is not defeated.

I will make mistakes and have to apologize…so will you

I will do my best to show you what love is and keep love strong in our house.  Love isn’t always pretty, but it is worth it.

I will do my best to encourage your passions.  Always have passion for something.  Never be afraid to be different or to be passionate.

I will teach you as much as I can, but there are some lessons and decisions that you will have to make on your own.  Sometimes you might not make the best choices…it’s ok…you are allowed to fail, just not see yourself as a failure.

That is the start to the list.  I am sure there are many more things that you need to learn as you grow.  The biggest lesson is also that there is someone who loves you more than me.  As a Christian, I believe that with all my heart.  Someday you will meet this man called Jesus.  As I put together your first year, there are two songs here.  One is from me, admitting that I cannot fulfill your every need (hard truth for me) and the other is a love letter from heaven.  They are two songs that mean a lot to me, just as you do!

Happy Birthday Emma!  Daddy love you!

 

Forgiveness and Repentance

****This is probably more rambling than anything****

 

Recently, I put up a little question on Facebook and a few people responded to it.  It was a simple question with a challenging premise, in my mind.

Which is easier…forgiveness or repentance?

The response was a mix of one or the other, but the majority made it clear that it was a hard decision to make and neither one of them at the core is easy.

The question arose, I took stock of my life and looked at the world around me.  I wanted to take a minute and see what my weaknesses are and the things that I need to be better at.  I also thought about the simple truth that if I had to make the commands of Christ as simple as possible…what would they be?

I came up with the following short, sweet, probably too basic for many list:

  • Love The Lord with all your heart
  • Forgive Others
  • Repent

And there we go.  The hardest part is that doing items two and three are a subset of item one.  That is to say that in order to love the Lord as he desires us to love him, we must learn to forgive others as well as admit our mistakes.

But the more I spent in prayer on this topic or trying to work through it…I discovered that for me, I am really asking a variation of the question…

Is it easier to forgive other or to forgive myself?  Is it easier to let go of the hurt that someone else inflicted on me or is it easier to admit that I made a mistake…that I was wrong?  Because I can tell myself a million times that I forgive the person who wronged me, but I know whether or not I have truly repented and forgiven myself.

The long and short of it is (for me), that since we ate the fruit in the garden, we lost the ability to forgive ourselves.  We have this knowledge of what is right and wrong.  We have the ability to hold onto that desire to be right at all costs, even when we know we were wrong.  We justify…”the devil made me do it”.  We have pride.  And that pride keeps us from being able to be wrong and be okay with it.

Pride keeps us from being able to forgive ourselves.  Pride inhibits us from kneeling before the cross and acknowledging that Christ has indeed forgiven us our sins.

So for me, I better start working on repenting and letting go of the very thing that keeps me from admitting I was wrong.

Nothing is Wasted

A lot of times, I hear people talking about shifting their paradigms or changing the way that they look at the world.  There is this notion that the lens we look at the world through is broken or just flat out the wrong lens.  So I am taking a moment to offer the following “lens” to add to your bag.  I am going to offer up the following perspective and hope that it helps you out in some small way.  I have to admit that the inspiration for this was a Jason Gray song.  I give to you, The “Nothing is Wasted” lens…

Over the course of the past month, I have struggled with many battles.  I have stood beside my wife as she buried her Pappy.  I have felt my value decline in the office I work at.  I have struggled with the idea of why do I work so hard to turn around at the end of the week and feel like, I have nothing to give my family.  I have also had plenty of highs.  I have met new people, inspired new people to try new things.  Over the course of my life, I have battled depression and fought back the temptation of suicide.  I have almost lost my brother before he saw his first birthday and like many of my generation, I survived my parents divorce.  I have questioned my faith, questioned God, and been flat out mad at Him.

But then comes this song…by probably my favorite artist.  And it is simple, it is basic and it hits me every time I listen to it.  Nothing is wasted…in the hands of our redeemer.  So what?  What does that mean to you and me.  It means simply that.  It means nothing is wasted, when we put it in his hands.  It means that when we stop looking at things from the whoa is me state or how can God do this to me, and start looking at it from the TRUTH that nothing is wasted, we can find the strength to pull through.  The strength to trust and more importantly the truth that we are loved.

Nothing is wasted.  Nothing.  NOTHING.  In the hands of OUR Redeemer.  That means the divorce that hurt at age 10…is being used by God for a purpose, if I trust Him with it.  Pappy, while the pain is there, nothing is wasted.  We start to see the lessons Pappy taught us, or anyone that we have lost has taught us.  We start to realize that the pain we feel is because of the loss of something that was never ours to begin with.  That man, belonged to our Redeemer.  Those moments of failure as a husband or a father (or a wife or a mother) are not wasted in His hands.  When we can see those moments as meaningful and powerful we might just find the lesson that the Lord is trying to teach us.

And the biggest lesson that I can take from this is for that kid that was wanting to take his own life.  Nothing is wasted…in the hands of our redeemer.  That means your life (my life) is not a waste.  I am not a waste, no matter what depression sinks in.   Nothing is wasted…not even the parts of myself that I don’t like.  The parts that scare me, the parts that are hidden.  NOTHING is wasted in the hands of our Redeemer.  I do not know who out there struggles, but STOP putting everything on your shoulders…put them in the hands of the Redeemer…Nothing is wasted!

Tonight I Didn’t Go To Bible Study…

Tonight, I did not go to Bible Study.  I pulled myself out of the loop.  I had a really rough and long day.  In the past, I might have run to this group and put on the happy face, shared my stories, my revelations, and all things me!  I could have read the chapters and been just fine.  I probably would have even been encouraged and touched by many of the brothers and sisters that are in the group because there hearts are there.

But tonight I didn’t go to Bible study…and I am still standing.  Lightning didn’t strike me down and more importantly than anything…I felt like I finally got some real time to experience Christ.

I had a terrible day and needed the Lord to do something.  I had felt abandoned and abused and on the drive home…I was reminded of the gift that is a marriage and parenthood.  The Lord tapped my shoulder and said…no matter how bad your day, I have given you these people to come home to.  They love you in spite of your flaws.  They have learned to love you and see you the same way I do…as “perfect”.  Just as you have chosen me…they have chosen you.  They trust you to be a leader in the house and set an example for them.  You not only represent them, but you represent Me.  You had better decide to love like I love.

I started to perk up and not feel quite so down.  So I rejoiced a little…and sat in silence hoping to hear more.  One might call this prayer – only I didn’t say much.

Again, I “heard” some truth…I realized it isn’t about church services and Bible studies.  It is not about religious activity but about sharing Christ.  It is not about always talking about Him.  It is not about the Scriptures I have memorized or can use to demonstrate my superiority.  It is about “sharing” or revealing or living out of Christ.  It is about Christ and when you love people, you are sharing Him.  When you choose not to judge, you are sharing Him.  When you choose to listen, you are sharing Him.  When you choose to put yourself on the cross for 15 minutes and be what one person needs you are sharing Him.

The biggest thing that kind of struck me, is they might not even know you are sharing Him with them.  He has changed me, and that is what I am sharing.  I am sharing the new me…and He is the builder of that new me.  People need to know that they are loved…unconditionally.  And that includes me.  And that is something I can do…if I am willing to let Him live through me.

And ultimately, I ended up at the Subverisve blog…It was refreshing to be reminded that I am valuable to the Body as a whole.  That while the world may dump on me, possibly even reject me, there is a place for me in the Kingdom…and bigger than that, I am a vital piece of this thing known as the Church.   I have been at the center of many a discussion or debate about the “right” way to do church.  Is it with a pastor or is it in the living room?  And tonight, I cannot say that one way is the right way, but I can say that if it points you to Christ and I mean makes Him come alive in You, then that is where you need to be.  If your church experience leaves you with knowledge and no fire or passion for the son of God, then you might want to re-evaluate where you are at.  If you cannot share the Christ that is in you, in your church world…then maybe you have to move on.  If your church life sends you out into the world feeling empty and forsaken, then it is not Christ.  The power of the Spirit from Christ will send us each out into the world ready to share Him with all.  It will allow us to love with grace and compassion.

I am reminded of a lyric from one of my favorite artists…Andrew Peterson.  In a song about marriage he has a line that goes:

“The only way to find your life, is to lay your own life down.  And I believe that’s an easy price for the life that WE have found”

I know the song is about the marriage between a man and a wife, but it is also about the marriage between Christ and the church.

The only way we find our life, that is our life in Christ, is to lay our earthly life down.  And I believe that’s an easy price to pay for the life that WE, a united body of Christ with one another and with Christ, have found.

 

Nobody Puts Jesus in the Corner

I am writing this as a reminder to myself.  I am saddened by the state of this thing we call Christianity.  Or maybe it is just that everyday, it seems as if this thing we call the church gets more and more dirt on its dress.  There is division and infighting, debates and arguments.  We have become a group that “knows” all the answers and yet knows absolutely nothing.  We are a group of bickering siblings fighting about which one daddy loves the most.

What I am about to say is directed at no one in particular, and it is directed at everyone.  It is directed squarely at the man in the mirror as well.  It is directed at those who attend a traditional church or those who find themselves in a home church, or an organic church, or however they want to define their Christian community. Are we pointing people to Christ?  Are we building him up?  As a father of a two year old, are we behaving and acting in a manner in which we are setting the best possible example for them?  Is the way we treat each other a manner that will encourage our children to actually want to know this man Jesus?

I am sorry to say this but in our quest to know Christ, it seems that we have become obsessed with knowing the facts of Christ.  At times, it seems that our causes become idols standing squarely in the way of people knowing and growing closer to Christ.  We put making people think like us, be like us, find Christ like us, worship like us, anything like us a barrier to knowing the real person of Jesus Christ.

We have become a group of people that sit in rooms and fight over trivial things while Jesus sits in the corner waiting for us to see Him and choose Him.  He sits there quietly waiting for us to turn to Him and stop talking.  He is sitting there like the parent of those bickering siblings wanting to scream “Are you finished?  Are you ready to listen to me?  Are you ready for me to share with you or do you want to keep going back and forth like you are…I’ll wait.”

So I encourage everyone to look within themselves and figure out what needs to be left at the cross.  What are you clinging on to that is inhibiting Christ from being known through you?  Are you willing to put them at the cross and let them die so that Christ might once again take His place as the Head of His Church?