Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Season of Adoption

"The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children."

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

So, I was thinking last Friday night about how I feel like I'm in a season of adoption.  Here's the story.

I started this fast from women on October 21st, 2011.  I remember sharing this to people and the funny looks I would get.  Like, how do you fast women?  Haha. At the time, I didn't know how either.  I just knew something had to change.  I had been pursuing women since I was around 9, and never relented.  I also had this thirst for women, this great desire for intimacy with the opposite sex.  It fueled bad decisions, regrets, long term memories, and of course heartache.  So there I stood, sometime in October, frustrated with a certain situation and like we always do, try to blame God for our mess.  And this whisper spoke to me.


Well God, I can't eliminate all the girls in the world. That's a silly idea.


Interesting.  So, as I stated earlier, had no idea how that looked.  I just obeyed and attempted it.  I had to stop talking to a few girls that already had my heart at the time, in hopes of I would turn that pursuit of them into feet geared to pursuing God.  And I will confess that just like any other fast, the first few weeks were difficult.  I remember walking around campus and every girl that made eye contact with me caused my heart to skip beats. 

Pathetic?  Yeah I know.  But there, I found the issue. 

It seemed to me that I valued the love of a woman over the love of God.  So God began to show me how I was longing for this earthly love above His.  This special connection that you can share with a woman, emotionally, physically, and the newest joy, spiritually---I was longing for it.  I'd lay awake on those sleepless nights and imagine being able to share a bed with a woman I love, able to have something to hold at night, having someone to share memories with, build a family with, and couldn't wait for the day for that to happen.

Guys aren't that emotional right?  Lol.  I'll just say this.  It cracks me up that men think that we're not governed by emotions sometimes.  God exposed to me that my mad dash for women was simply my desire to be loved.  I'd say that's pretty emotional. #boom . Moving on.

So as Jesus is exposing to me all of this junk that's been in my heart for years, He also tosses me a shovel and suggests we get it out.  The first thing He showed me was that I was a son.  A son of a Holy God.  That I've been made new, I have a new home, new inheritance, new beginning.  And as the months progressed, things slowly but surely got better.  Yes, it was hard.  I'm a terrible motivational speaker because I will not say it's been cake and ice cream, or all you have to do is live, laugh, and love, or God and I have been going out on dates and no, none of that.  It took me fearfully and painfully but willingly submitting to God.  And then this happened. 

So, imagine this newly adopted son.  The life he had before he was adopted was, sad to say, was terrible.  But at the time, he didn't know any better, so he said things to himself like, "Well, it could always be worst."  So here's the newly adopted son in this new home, with new rules.  He remembered he used to have "freedom" in the orphanage where he was dying and more often miserable, but now he had to submit to his new Father in order to dwell in His house.  But, the son noticed something.  In the orphanage, there were times when he would go hungry.  But in this new house, he gets three meals a day, and the fridge is ALWAYS full.  In the orphanage, there were times when he couldn't take a shower everyday to be cleansed.  But in this new house, he can shower everyday.  He sometimes splurges and takes two or three just because he can.  In the orphanage, he remembers the lonely nights he had to fall asleep by himself, humming some song he heard on the radio earlier in the day.  But in this new house, his new Father tucks him in at night, reads him a bedtime story, and stays there until he falls asleep. 

That newly adopted son is me.  My poor Dad, (lol), He's so patient with me.  I had gotten so used to the loneliness that I forgot that He's always there.  I had gotten so used to being hungry that I forgot there's food in the fridge.  And again, poor Dad, I forgot that I didn't have to walk around with this terrible stench but that I could be cleansed daily. He had and still has to constantly remind me. 

"Son, you know you can come shower, anytime right?"    Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

"Son, you know you can come eat, anytime right?"  "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty John 6:35

"Son, you do know you can come talk, anytime?" Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I am a son.  I have a new Dad.  A new home.  Yeah, it'll take me awhile to get used to the new perks I have available since I've arrived, but the most important thing is......

I am home. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Self Help Bible (NKJV)

Hello readers. Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

I have much praise to give to my brother Jonathan Brown and his sharpening of me.  And this blog entry and many others have been a result of our friendship, so let's work. 

The title of this blog is The Self Help Bible.  As usual, I try to theme the title with a hint of sarcasm, hopefully to draw you into reading it.  So welcome. Now, as with everything, I'm here for your joy.  I wish I knew how to blog all the happy things.  Like I'm sure you guys would love to know how I haven't jogged in a week due to laziness or how I cut my leg on a car door yesterday, but, I didn't create this blog for you to be admired of me and my inabilities.  I desperately want you to be admired with Christ.  All of my motivation for these blogs is birthed out of that key element, be admired with Christ.  And speaking of happy things, let's get into the subject. 

So, I've slowly been noticing that a lot of pastors or speakers are very happy.  Like very happy in their teaching.  Now please don't misunderstand me, I'm all about motivating people and getting to them emotionally, all for that.  But what I have the burden now is that I feel that a lot of us are Feel Good Christians------

Yeah, that pause was intentional. 

We're Feel Good Christians.  And it's not our fault.  We've been pumped this message or this gospel weekly of how much God loves you and there's grace and forgiveness and He's desperate for you. All biblical trues.  All exactly correct.  But what I think has happened is that a cultural perspective of all of these words have gotten us into only being consumers of God.  That's honestly why I love my church.  Pastor Chris Hodges at Church of the Highlands encourages people almost every week to join the Dream Team and begin serving in the church.  That helps change that perspective in a physical way.  But perhaps even more important than that, we still have to stop being consumers of God in our thinking as well.  Here's the thing. 

It's been presented to us that the bible is a self help book.  Hey, dealing with hopelessness, Jeremiah 29:11.  Dealing with depression and loneliness, John 3:16.  Dealing with hard trials, Romans 5:3. 

The Self Help Bible. 

And quotes like "Let go and let God" and "Only God can judge me" and "Name it and claim it" and "Trust in the Lord He will make a way" and "This too shall pass" and "I'm too blessed to stress" and "I'm blessed and highly favored"  and so many more have become widely popular among us modern day Christians.  Almost common speech among the Bible Belt talkers.  Now again, all are in someway correct, so that's not the issue.

But have we gotten more focused on making our lives better here than we have making our eternity better?

I mean, nowadays the world and the church are preaching the same message! Hey, join us and you'll be successful and happy.  And I have yet to see this in scripture.  Now what I have seen in scripture is that Christians will face persecution because of their faith.  And some of us can't even handle missing a bus or making a C on a test or stubbing a toe and we're cursing the devil for a bad day.  Woe to me, my life is in shambles.  Newsflash, Christ tells us to focus on heavenly things in Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  

Here's the danger of this feel good mentality.  A. It creates bitter people towards God, and want to know why?  Because life hits these people in an unexpected way and they were told that God is a good and loving God.  They were never explained the weight of their sin and the curse on the Earth and the effects of it, no, they were told that God will spoil you and be like your grandpa and slip you cookies when your mom isn't looking.  What are we doing?  What are we communicating?  What do you tell people when they lose a parent "prematurely"? What do you tell parents who lose children?  What do you tell a wife who's loving husband wants a divorce?  What do you tell a girl who's boyfriend just dumped her?  What do you tell victims of self trafficking?  What do you tell these people?  The concordance doesn't say anything!?  Look in James? No, nothing there.  What if there is no bible verse to make them feel better?

But what there is----there is a Savior to overwhelming comfort them.  Because here is where we'll settle and just tell them something like, "Just trust in the Lord."  I remember going through a season in my life and I was venting to a friend and she started to ramble off all of these verses to me about trust in God and yada yada and I was like, "Shut up, I've used those already.  I know these verses."

So what happened?

I was a feel good Christian.  The verses were like temporary hits of satisfaction.  My nicotine patch for my urgent craving for my situation to change.  I'd quote them or Tweet them on Monday and by Wednesday I was back feeling the SAME way I was.  Or you'll have the Christian girls saying, Lord, I've been delighting in You and You said you'd give me the desires of my heart!  And God is saying, you've only been delighting in Me for a month.

Ok, let me stop with the analogies.  Here's the point.  If we're not pointing people to Jesus instead of the encouraging words He says, then we're selling people short.  Hey, I can't answer any of those questions, but I can say is that we should set our hearts on things above because what happens on this Earth really doesn't matter that much.  When I arrived to this eternal perspective on life and this eternal quest of making sure I'm chilling with God come Judgement Day, this life has started to just pass me by.  This life tends to throw its darts and daggers at me and I end up talking like Paul when he says, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.  Philippians 1:21-23

Really Paul?  I mean really?  You've stepped off the deep end huh?  Had a little too much to drink huh Paul? 

No, Paul got it.  Paul had something that a lot of us know nothing about.  Ok, I won't say that.  We MAY know a little bit about it.  Paul had joy.  And a serious abundance of it.  Joy is hard to spot when things are going well, because you're happy.  Let me say it this way, the joy of the Lord is this deep delight in Him, not in just His words, but in Him.  You can't get there reading the bible like it's a self help book. Everything in the Bible isn't applicable or even possible without a relationship with Him. 

So to get people truly healed, let's shoot Jesus straight.  Not His comforting words to make the emotions go wild, but let's shoot them Jesus.  Let's present Him so they know who said the words.  Let's present Him so they encounter Him and they too can have this joy that we speak of.  They deserve that.  People deserve to know the truth, and the truth is, this life ends. So that having a better life in 60 days, yeah, that will only last a little while.  So focus on eternity.  And once your perspective is there, your life will naturally get better, as you await the uniting of you and your Father in Heaven.

Let's step away from being Feel Good Christians and work our way into being true followers of Christ, which makes it sound like I'm implying that they're two different things.  :) 


Read this to understand that inside joke. Christian or Follower of Jesus.