Losing My Religion

“People in Jesus’ time questioned His authority to save, they went to Him for healing, and they didn’t doubt.  Today, we don’t question Jesus’ ability to save, but we question His ability to heal or do the miraculous….”

There are times these days where I don’t recognize the world anymore. Up is down and I’ve lost a hopeful optimism I retained in my youth. I also just downloaded a social media app, Marco Polo, it’s like my tenth social networking app,  why?!? Anyway, I look to Jesus, and He doesn’t even look the same to me as He used to and I have to wonder why to that. 

I live in a world where we can’t clearly define sin and do our best to stay away from the subject with others. We strive hard to receive a free gift of love from Christ and trouble with having an identity of being loved/redeemed.  We have turned love your enemy and your neighbor’ to love your yourself. 

I recently wrote an article about peace and its meaning of Shalom. We think of peace and have an image of one aspect of the word, Jesus says Shalom (peace), and he means wholeness, blessing, deliverance, prosperity, completeness, and, oh yeah, peace. I was listening to a sermon, where I got the above quote from, and I realized that salvation is the same deal as peace. When Jesus said Save or Salvation (Sozo), He meant healing, eternal salvation, peace, deliverance, wellness, or wholeness. 

I’ve spent so much time in life doing the right thing, doing what I ought to do and then questioning things when the first bad thing comes my way. I hold on to my religion to set me right but here is the bible clearly saying the same things over and over again which differs from my stance of striving to earn my reward. What is Sozo saying,  I died, now you are healed. I died, now you are made whole. I died so you can have  complete peace. I died, now you lack for nothing, I died now you are reconciled to me. It’s not a question of when it will happen, its happened, it’s a question of do you turn to religion or to what you see with your own mind or do you turn to who you trust ( faith in Jesus, the person).  When did Jesus not heal someone? When was his ability less than the situation, other than when people did not seek Him out. 

I’m thankful that I don’t have to worry about being saved in my Spirit or in all aspects of my living. I do want to start to let go the things that tether me to not having Shalom or Sozo. 

John 3:17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

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True Peace

I saw this interesting exchange happen last night. At my daughters gymnastic session, about fifteen kids were lined up against a wall after having ten minutes of play time. One of the girls had gone in and out of the aerobics room, but when she came back to the wall, she was crying and had done so for about two minutes. Thirteen kids were talking, giggling, hopping and jumping. One kid stepped out of the line and said hey, this girl is crying, is she ok ( it was my kid 😏😏).

What was fascinating to me was that Emma is two years old and the rest of the fourteen kids are 3-4, some look older. I thought to myself, happiness looks different to different people, but the rarity, the goal, in life is to seek it for others.

I am no stranger to hurt and pain. I can empathize with the one crying for cause or without one. I dug into scripture yesterday and found words that Jesus said about peace in the troubled times. He gives peace, His own peace and not to let your heart be afraid or troubled. It would seem that being afraid or troubled in our hearts is optional, is something we can control. Peace being given to us is not conditional.

The other kids at the gym class, they were in their own sort of peace of the moment. But the peace you can expect in life and the peace the world can offer it isn’t sufficient enough. Although we can control our hearts from being anxious and fearful, that comes in after Jesus gives His peace, His Shalom. I know the word has significance in Jewish mindset. Shalom being wholeness, restoration, blessing, and peace. What Jesus gives is on a whole different level and it’s not conditioned. He died for peace so that you would have it. In other places in the Bible, it reads, that peace would guard your heart and mind.

Peace might be a word that’s universal to you, joy and happiness and the like. However, real peace comes from one place, and it changes us and our paradigm entirely from what we consider to be normal day to day living. It changes us to love others. What I’m trying to say is that you can go to McDonald’s or you have Gordon Ramsey cook your meal and in both happenstances, you would be eating food. However, food from one is on a whole different level than the other. It probably doesn’t even deserve to be in the same category. Don’t settle for food for your mind and your heart that only fades, Jesus gives His peace, His shalom freely. Ask for it.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

John 14 :27

Chasing Hagar

The biblical narrative of Abraham is one spoken about many times over. It is a story of faith. Two people over the age of 80-100 ( depending on which point of the story you are focused on). Two people hearing over and over, you will conceive a child, not an adopted child, not someone from your family who you will pass on all your fortune to, someone from you Abraham and from you Sarah.  So naturally, they ended up with, maybe having a child with Hagar is the answer. 

This story has been said many times over but what was interesting to me was this commentary I read today that said, it was culturally acceptable and practiced at the time to give the servant of the wife to the husband so that an heir would be produced. NORMAL, acceptable, it was comfortably practiced as ‘the thing you do’ in this kind of situations. 

I was wondering about Abraham when God said, hey it’s time to sacrifice your son. Abraham responds by getting up really early and going. I was reflecting on the differences of responses from Abraham and Sarah. I think Abraham does what He does because He has heard God speak in visions and dreams, he’s talked to Him over and over about this, Father of many Nations Abraham, Father of many nations. You will conceive a child of promise Abraham, the child is coming Abraham; over and over for years until the words became reality. It didn’t matter that He was told to sacrifice his son, he had a reality of faith that God had always planned and is doing something bigger and better, and his focus was on what God spoke not on what he could think of. Sarah, on the other hand, said, eh let’s just do what we know what to do. This is the normal response to trying to have kids when your old and can’t conceive, so let me take what you say God and I’ll make it happen the way I know how.  Now look back at Abraham, what he does is simply obedience, God you speak to me and then I do, my actions are to do what you talked about in our many conversations because I know You. 

Months ago, my daughter started to be aware of feelings and such. She started to say Emma happy, Emma sleepy, Emma is sad. She started to say sad quite often, and I had to do something about it. I said Emma, its ok to feel sad but when you do, remember Daddy loves you. I told her this many times.  It didn’t take long for her to start telling me, daddy Emma’s no sad, daddy loves me. A few weeks ago I got a notification from daycare, a little girl was crying, Emma went up to her and hugged, its ok, its ok friend, Daddy loves you. 

To be Honest, I’ve been stuck in a confusing spot lately. And I know for a fact, I’m looking for my Hagar answer to bail me out. I want the normal response answer to my situation, the one everyone does and gets to do. I want something logical and comfortable because I just dont want to think about it anymore. But it’s not good enough, and I know it. I have to do something different, I have to do what God already told me to do a thousand times before I even thought to ask Him what I should do. It’s my unwillingness to rest in faith that really gets to me. Abraham is credited with fathership of faith by Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. That guy’s greatest achievement is faith and having children, and look at the impact he had on the world. Look at my daughter, she heard something enough times, and now she believes it, and now she’s telling anyone and everyone, changing her situation and theirs. Faith will always be worth more than chasing Hagar. 

Beauty beyond words

I talk about my daughter a lot. I think some may say, a little toooooo much. But I don’t care. Talking away here. I think you can hear the words I say about her, you can see her pictures, and you will come to the conclusion that she is the most amazing human being on this planet. No denying that, but, hearing about her, even seeing pictures of her, isn’t her. You don’t know her, and you haven’t seen her alive and in action. You don’t have a relationship with her so how can you have the most amazing person on this planet affect you or be real to you?

A call this morning made me reflect on relationship with Jesus the person. He’s alive and wanting to relate with you and talk and converse with you. Scripture is God-breathed and has authority, but it points to a person. Ask Jesus what He thinks about you, listen for how He responds. There is a lot of beauty to be seen and to be experienced, beauty that goes beyond words in a relationship with Him.

As it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word SPOKEN from the mouth of God.

I Wish With All My Heart

You know that feeling of wanting something, wanting something so bad, you can hardly eat or sleep, or think of anything else. With Christmas coming, I remember having that feeling a lot as a kid. I have this feeling now about a couple of things. It’s such an intense, powerful, and consuming force that dwells inside you, isn’t it?

My daughter recently had nursemaid elbow. Basically, her bones were out of place, and she couldn’t move her arm, and she was in a significant amount of pain. She had taken her nap after it happened because sleep is > than pain. I remember hovering over her bed wishing with all of my heart to take her pain away, to alleviate it, anything and everything. It was an intense hour and a half.  She’s all good, took her to an urgent care as soon as she woke and man she endured the pain like a trooper, talked to everyone in the waiting room, learned how to unlock a tablet for the first time (WITH ONE HANDDDD) all while saying no daddy, no help, Emma can do it.

I’m going to put Ephesians 1 down below but this intense yearning for your good for your pleasure, for your pain taken away… that’s the same way God feels about you. I highlighted Kind Intention, but the way you get into the root of the word, it’s a wish, a desire for good or delight. He wishes that through Jesus, all blessings from Heaven be on you. He hopes, all unknown things, all scary life happenings, be revealed to you in the fullness of when He works things out for you. LAVISHING..  wisdom.

You might have an express desire, and you might be going through something really hard. God’s express hope, in Romans 10 it says I wish with all my heart, with every fiber of my being, God’s express hope is to see you through, and He wishes and intends that every single blessing, and non confusion, and goodness, and mercy, and grace, and wisdom be given to you. There’s a list… and it’s long and He really really wants it for you. Before the world was created He wanted it for you, you know what that means? Before any good you did or before any wrong you made, He has an express desire to give you good things, and now, through Jesus, you have access to the whole Smorgasbord of blessings.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

When My people pray

2 Chronicles 7:14. If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Over a decade ago I had a vision of a child when I had no wife, no dating relationship in the horizon, just a promise. Emma Hope was prayed and believed for by two people for such a long time. There were times when we gave up and times when we grieved and lost hope, but hope did not disappoint us. I’m reminded today, that for those that have things that they have been praying for and waiting for, waiting for a long time, impossible things. There is a God that works in the realm of impossible. My hope for you, that you turn again to this God of wonder, to this God of Miracles.

Pursuing God

I’m in a Bible study tonight, and an elder of the church is preaching the word. He said, God is love and He is also Holy, we should accept both things. The danger is going to one quality of god that it throws our knowing Him in this extreme way.

I had to disciple my daughter recently. Terrible twos 🤦🏻‍♂️. It’s fun to be good daddy and the fun daddy, the disciplining daddy, is not so fun. Regardless of what daddy hat I wear, it amazes me how much my daughter pursues me. It made me think that sometimes we think of people one way, we see this one aspect come out and we focus on that one aspect and nothing else. Every human deserves love and respect, focusing on one aspect of their personality only causes us to block loving and respecting them. We love and respect as a whole.

Jesus is loving and accepting. Without a doubt, unlike anyone that has ever walked this earth, Jesus is loving. But the culture today, the human mindset is to apply His love in a way that accepts us to continue to be comfortable and do whatever we like. Let us not forget God in our daily life and let us not forget that above all else God is Holy Holy and when you look to this God and call His name and try to put Him into your world, put Holy Holy first then love. When we look at God in His entirety, we invite Him in His entirety into our lives.

2 Timothy 1:7 For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:8 But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life.