Wednesday, November 14, 2012

*VJ* Same Seed, Different Fruit

I'm introducing a new series called the "Venting Jam".  Whenever I just have an idea or a thought that consumes me, and I do not have the patience to organize it into a college level English formatted and eloquently worded blog, I will do a VJ, a Venting Jam.  So, this would be equivalent to us getting coffee and I'm sitting across from you and I'm just ranting about something.  So.... 

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

I love my friends.  Very much.  I wish they knew how much I learn from them.  Maybe they will after reading this. 

I'm here today to discuss something that I have learned about, us.  The people.  People.  God's own.  Us.  I think we are more broken than we realize and care to admit. I have been apart of discussions or have heard about discussions about how we hurt each other.  Men devaluing women.  Women devaluing men.  We misunderstand each other.  We wrongfully manipulate each other.  We lust after each other.  Women hear this wrong, men say this wrong.  Women interpret things we say and do wrong, men's body language is wrong.  Men's intentions are wrong.  Women's intentions are wrong.  We provoke each other.  Tease each other. We're super critical of each other.  We question motives all the time.  And as you just read it, this rush of awareness of our hurt overwhelmed me last night and I just wanted to vent to you now, my readers.

By the way, thank you so much for reading today.  I hope all these blogs are a blessing for you.

So after discussions upon discussions about the differences in men and women, I think we need to admit some things---ready----we're different. You know that right?  Of course you do.  Equality only matters in value, not anywhere else when it comes to male and female.  Women, you're different.  Stop trying to men.  Get off our Sports Channels as anchors! (That's for another blog for another day.  Disregard that.)

But our relational differences are heaving us into continuing to have bad ones.  It's like we don't realize when we're just being women and when we're just being men.  Because I feel like that we both struggle with the same insecurity.  I think we as a people desperately search for our value and worth.  So, in an interesting twist, we are very much different, but very much the same.  To explain the title, I feel like we have the same seed steering us off track, but how we're different is shown in the different fruit that is produced from that seed.

Let me say it this way, the differences in the fruit that is produced is how we've decided or how it's been decided for us of how to gain it.  Women, you first.  It hurts me that women struggle with feeling beautiful.  And women don't even realize that they're feeding into the struggle by the media they choose to watch.  Things like the Victoria Secret Fashion Show comes on and women across the world are watching it, and without realizing they're watching a nationally advised fashion show, that has women on display, and communicating to all of you, THIS IS WHAT BEAUTY LOOKS LIKE.  And you sit there and buy into it.  And during that night, I see some of my friends, women I care about, post Facebook statuses and Tweet about how they wish they looked like that.  And it hurts me.  But this is our culture's definition of your value.  If you're beautiful, how it's defined by culture, you're valued.  If men look at you and stare as you walk by, you're valued.

Men, our turn.  It hurts me that we struggle with feeling valued because of our status.  I've watched myself feel heavily insecure when a football player walks into the room and all the women gawk.  Or when an entire stadium has signs up for a particular guy or women are retweeting everything L├╝tzenkirchen says or women are saying how much they want a rapper or an NBA player or a celebrity, and the thought comes to my head, "Man, I want that kind of attention."  Because we know, that it's not JUST their looks.  Like if Cam Newton wasn't Cam Newton, he wouldn't have had the attention.  So men know that's it's all status.  Status in our culture makes a man more attractive.  A guy pulls up in a Mercedes Benz and women wants him because he's in a Benz.  But that same guy, same guy, pulls up in a Honda Accord, the girl wouldn't look twice.  So we know it's status, and to satisfy our desire for our value and worth, we want it.

Same seed, different fruit.  The same seed is that we're all looking for our value in this society, but the different fruit produced is how we choose to pursue it. Women want to be beautiful, so however culture defines it for them, that's desired.  And men want to be respected and honored and glorified, so culture tells us if you're not rich or play a sport very well, you're a nobody.

And it's sad to watch the Christian body still struggling with the same thing.  Christian women are juggling with which is more important: To attract men, should I focus on getting more beautiful or getting more godly.   Which ironically, are almost polar opposites. "Guys seem to like tighter bodies, so let me get a tight body and show it off with how I dress, even though God says dress modestly." 

And Christian men are juggling between getting more status or getting more godly.  Which ironically again, they can be polar opposites too.  Girls seem to like the bad guys, so let me be bad, even though God is saying be good and serve them.  Girls seem to like guys that can get any girl they want, so let me get any girl I want.  Let me grow my status in the church, not because I desire influence and understand the responsbility of that, but to be liked.

Now my plight is that, I'm still figuring out why our identities and our worth is so hard to realize, to learn, and to live in.  It's like we flucate up and down from feeling a million bucks to hating life and feeling condemnation.  So even as I write I'm looking at you like,

What are we supposed to do!? 

I mean we're flooded with this, day in and day out.  We're way more consumed by entertainment than our Bibles and than our devotion.  We're actually content with a 15 minute devotional when every TV show is at least 22 minutes long.  What will it take for us to gain a knowledge of who we are in Christ and live in it daily and not allow this world to define us but instead Jesus be the center of our lives foreal? 

Crescendo ending and a cliff hanger ending in a venting jam.  ;)  And still, my high school English and college public speaking training proves itself worthy. Haha.  The End. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Grace That's Hard To Ignore


And the sad truth. So many people do ignore it.

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

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 1 Corinthians 12:8

I was driving home from an early morning bible study with some great older men of the faith, and a song I was playing in my car just reminded me of the gospel.  Here are the lyrics.

Beauty for ashes
Joy for pain
Mercy instead of my blame
Ruins me for more
I'm lost in Your presence Lord.

It's from the song Over My Head by Starfield.  And the gist of the song is the writer is clueless and seemingly wrecked at God's love for us.  It's over his head, it doesn't make any sense.  And as I'm listening to those lyrics this morning, they just jump out and hit me in new way.  I've heard this song a thousand times (literally), but this time, it was such a refreshing truth on the ride home.  And as tears rushed to my eyes as I thought about my own life and all God has seriously done and continues to offer as exchanges for me.

Son, you have ashes, I'll turn them into beauty.
Son you have pain, I'll exchange them for joy.
Son you feel the blame, I'll exchange it for mercy.

The biblical definition of grace is to get something that we do not deserve; unmerited favor.

Hmm....Receiving something that we do not deserve?

Who doesn't love that?  How many of your friends would allow you to fully abuse them and yet, whenever you ask for anything they are right there to give it to you, an abundance of times?  I will go ahead and answer that for you.  None of them will. 

I've questioned the hearts of man.  I have a very deep misunderstanding of how anyone can ignore the love of God.  I know what the Bible says about the god of this world, Satan, has blinded the eyes of the unbeliever (2 Corinthians), but can the blind see again today?  Please? 

I'm extremely wrecked by the gospel, which enlightens me to the fact that both believers and unbelievers need the gospel.  If you are an unbeliever, let me help you know what that means.  A person that does not believe in the birth and life and resurrection of Jesus Christ and have not put their faith in Him, this is for you.  Hey, He loves you.  And I know, you may have heard that before.  You may have read a bumper sticker that said it, but you're reading it again.  Jesus loves you.  He has paid for the sins you may have just committed today, yesterday, last weekend, or right now, or about to do.  Jesus has covered it, paid for it, because of His grace and mercy for you.  Stop ignoring this free gift.  No, don't focus on what's expected from you to be a Christian.  God will deal with that when He gets you first.  He wants YOU!  And please for a minute forget the Christians that may have hurt you or given you a bad image of God, I'm about to get to them in a minute, but this is for you-----God is not like them.  They should be more like God, and yes they may have shown you blatant hypocrisy, but again, that's the purpose of the gospel.  That is the purpose of the cross.  God saw that we were going to continue to be a fallen people, continue to rebel, to war, to disagree, to fight, to verbal abuse, to covet, to abandon, to judge, to hate, to hurt and yet, His son, has beautifully died and paid the price for our sins.  So that hypocrite's short comings that turned you away from God, God paid for them, so who are you to judge them?  There is no condemnation for them----but please know this is not an exclusive group.  You can be well under that promise of no condemnation yourself, of eternal life for yourself and freedom from your sins.  That's available for you.  They have been died for, just as you have been.  Stop ignoring the grace and come to Him.  Come to Him.  Come to Him.

Believers, now it's your turn.  REST.  Experience the gospel daily.  We have to start living as if this home is not ours, and rest in the fact that WE ARE OKAY.  You have eternity in heaven if your future, so calm down and rest.  If you fail that class, guess what?  You have eternity in your future, and a different GPA, but still, you're okay.  Remember that your works are desired by God but only of an outpour of your love for Him.  It does not earn your approval anymore, it does not earn you any more love.  You are redeemed and forgiven.  Live in it.  Rejoice.  Calm down and live.  You're alive.  Rejoice in the Savior.  Love the Savior.  Give your life to your Savior.  Live in daily repentance, because I guarantee you, you will mess up later today or very soon.  Because even on your best day, your works are not good enough.  So rest in the truth that you're covered, and pursue Jesus and pursue His holiness and godliness out of the love of your heart for God doing what He has done.  Stop ignoring that you have this grace and live in it.  You are free dear friend.  You are free.  And go easy on them unbelievers.  They need to see the love you claim to know--which is you claiming a certain love you have.  They need to see you actually be the church.  They need to actually see your life wrecked for the gospel and transforming your mind because you've placed your hope in Him.  Stop ignoring the fact that you must share this grace, but first you must know it yourself. 

The gospel is for us all.  I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of god for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. Romans 1:16

Jesus my friends, has delivered a beautiful gift to us.  If you've speed read through this blog, slow down right now. 

Jesus
died
for
you. 

His grace is sufficient--which means, that sin or brokenness or heartache or whatever you are finding hard to deal with, try Him on it.  He said it was sufficient---  let Him prove it to you.

Love you all.  Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why Do We Desire Our Chains?

I once heard a story about the months following the abolishment of slavery in 1865.  It was about a 45 year old slave who was released by his slave owner, but refused to leave---refused the freedom.  The slave owner, in fear of being convicted of the crime of holding him, began to forcefully attempt to remove the slave from his property.  But the slave would not leave.  When asked why he wouldn't, he simply answered, "What else should I do?"  The slave owner explained, "But you're free now.  You can have a regular life now.  Freedom has been granted.  Why are you denying it?"  The slave answers, "I've been a slave all my life.  All I've done is the work on your plantation.  All I know is the skills I've learned here.  What else should I do?  This is all I know." 

"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you."  Romans 8:5-9

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

If you've been reading my blogs for awhile, you may have become aware of how in tune I try to be and stay with my own brokenness.  Even the title of my entire blog is at its depth an expression of deep healing.  So the question I've proposed to you, and most recently to myself, is the question why do we desire our chains? 

Here's why I am asking.  If you're a believer in Christ, and you've tasted the salvation that we have experienced and the freedom in Him that comes along with it------why do we still desire the chains of our sin? Answer it with this question in mind.  What's your thoughts of the slave not wanting to leave? 

I feel that we may have gotten ourselves into something.  Because, if we're freed from sin, why do we still desire it?  If we're alive, why do we still desire death?  I think it goes all the way to the truth that we're all born into sin.  We are all born with a sin nature and we have dealt with this nature since birth.  It's evident in children, when you do not have to teach children to be selfish and greedy and angry, and violent.  They innately do it---inherited sin.  So, imagine this brokenness has become a part of our identities.  Just like the slave, all he knows is being a slave.  All the skills he knows is as a slave.  All he's even done and worked has been as a slave.  So maybe many of us have identified ourselves in our sin.

You cannot miss that.  Maybe you have identified too much of yourself in your sin?  Maybe you're so used to being depressed, or so used to being lustful, or so used to being angry, or so used to being insecure, that you've identified yourself with your brokenness.  It's become who you are.  I remember the first few weeks of dealing with my issues, I had a hard time imagining a world without them. 

Then it hit me. 

I'm used to my chains.  Because here's a truth about humans, we ALWAYS find a way to be okay.  We always respond to situations, we are never neutral. We never just endure pain.  We will find a way to ease it.  Whether its good or bad, we will find a way to ease it.  So what I've found is that these things we turn to have been comforts at one time.  Whatever it is we're addicted to or struggle with, it was once a comfort.  The porn has at one time comforted our desire for intimacy.  The flirtation has at one time comforted us with our desire for attention and self worth.  The drugs comforted our depression or insecurity at one time.  The drinking comforted our desire to make the pain go away or the loneliness of not fitting it.  The cutting comforted us by giving us another pain to focus on. 

Before we were free, we adapted to our chains.  The first few weeks in our chains, it hurt bad, but our natural tendency is to ease our own pain, so in that we got comfortable.  In other words, we figured out a way to deal with the pain. 

But, we're free now.  We've been freed from those chains, from those past sins. But our identities are still tied up in them.  So just like the slave, it was easy to free him, but what shall he do? 

Give him a new identity.  Help him get the slave out of him.  He's still thinking slave. He's still acting slave.  Even though he's free, he's still a slave in his heart.  We have a few modern sayings like, "You can take the thug out of the hood, but you can't take the hood out of the thug." It's the same message. 

God can take the slave out of slavery, but He must and will work to get the slavery out of the slave.  Our minds are still desiring slavery when we desire our chains.  We STILL desire death.  We STILL desire our chains because they were once comforts to us.  And friend, it's going to be a battle to get the slavery out of you. You don't just fall into godliness, it will take focus and discipline.  You don't just fall into being a man of God or a woman of God, it takes submitting to Jesus and allowing Him to transform your heart and desires.

You're free now.  Stop desiring your chains.  We must----friends---we must allow God to give us new identities.  Those past sins does not define you anymore.  Those addictions do not define you.  Things in your past does not define you.  You are free.  You've been made new.  Jesus is your new Master.  He has your new identity in Him, pursue Him, love Him, grown in Him, love Him. 

Those chains are no longer you.  Get up.  Walk away from them.  You're free.

Friends.  You're free. 

It's Going To Be Alright

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.  Psalm 31:24

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

I have a guilty pleasure.  I enjoyed the minutes after the election of reading the Facebook and Twitter posts.  Like, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Like, popcorn and two sources of electronic devices loaded up.  Let me paint for you the extremity of this enjoyment. 

I had my laptop open, on Facebook.  I changed my newsfeed to Most Recent, so I could get the freshest of the posts.  Then, I had my tablet on Twitter, where I was also hitting the refresh button every few seconds so I could get the freshest of the Tweets. 

I know, I know.  How sad of me.  But I will say this, I enjoyed seeing you all post your opinions of your heart. 

Yes, I said it.  Your heart. 

So I really wanted to hop into the mix.  Ya know, toss in my opinion of everyone else's opinions about other people's opinions, but then it hit me, I would only being doing just that, voicing my opinion when I'm telling other people to stop voicing their opinions---which all just seems so silly.  And I didn't want to feel silly, however, this thought hit me--------I have a blog.

So right now, I'm being silly.  My opinion of the election is..........

Please people calm down. 

I can tell that a lot of us are not thinking of eternity when it comes to worldly issues.  I'm honestly talking to my believer friends here, because this should be expected from unbelievers who live with no hope in anything other than this world, but you, the Christian....

Where is your hope? 

I'm witnessing from many of you a lack of awareness of the sovereignty of God.  I'm witnessing from a lot you an exposure of your hearts condition of your security.  A lot have tweeted the "Christian things", but not many are actually believing it.  If Jesus is our King and our President and God controls it all, then your next Tweet should not be some demeaning sarcastic Tweet about people on welfare and food stamps and leaving the country.  Because if you believe that God is sovereign, you would understand that the hearts of man are corrupt and that God's wrath will be dealt to the wicked.  So therefore, there is no hope outside of Jesus.  Guys, nothing will get better outside of Jesus, because the wicked will be dealt with.  Your church isn't telling you this are they?  God will judge the wicked, and if you are not in Christ and covered by His sacrifice for your sins then you will be judged by the Law, which says that if you break one of the laws you break the entire Law, which means you are guilty.  But you can be justified as innocent because of Jesus's death for your sins, His payment covers you if you receive it.   

So, calm down.  You're okay.  Which is why I am saying to the believers, "It's going to be alright." 

Hey, if this nation does blow up and we all get controlled by China or lose oil or whatever, know that God is sovereign, know that you are okay.  Our hope is not in this world, so that means if this world---let's just say the worst case scenario, it explodes.  We are going to be with the Lord in Heaven. 

So beyond all your stressed out lives and your worries about the economy collapsing and the world going in shambles and you having to work so hard for lazy people, guess what? 

You're going to die one day and be with God in heaven for eternity, and a lot of people will not be.  Are you aware of this?  You are OKAY.  The estimated 72 years we spend on this Earth is nothing compared to the promise you have waiting for you in heaven.  Calm the freak down. 

I don't mean to be aggressive, but I'm seeing us, the Christian body, continue to put our hope in nothing that is bringing life for ourselves or unbelievers.  Instead we're giving in to the worries of the decrees of this world, and the ones without hope are in turmoil and even the Christians are too, then how are they going to see the light in us?  Are they going to see the hope in us if you're freaking out every time your internet goes out or the president you don't like gets elected or something doesn't go your way, get over yourself and know that Jesus is your hope. 

Now, I know this is easier said than done.  I'll be needing this blog in I'm sure a week when I'm stressing about something, so I'm aware this is a normal attitude for us.  But, remember this one thing,

It's going to be alright.

You are okay.  You have God.  A lot of people don't.