Tag Archive: Religion and Spirituality


The wrong perspective

I sometimes find myself judging a book by its cover.  I live in a little town and like most little towns, we may not all know each other, but you see everyone.  I can’t speak for all little towns, but he there are a handful of, shall we say, less than attractive, at least by modern standards, people.

When I lived in a city of over 100,000 I didn’t notice, or perhaps because I didn’t go to “that” side of town, I don’t know.  But it reminds me of something Jim Rohn used to say “You can say people shouldn’t judge you by how you look.  But here’s a hint, They Do.”
On the other hand God judges people by how they look, the difference is that God looks at the soul.  He loves all of His creation, but he sees the horror and repulsiveness of the soul that is wrapped in sin.  God looks at these souls kind of like a dentist looking at a decaying tooth, and doesn’t think tear it out.  He loves with a depth that I can not begin to comprehend.  A love that is overwhelming in its depth, breadth, and intensity.  And God sees? Beauty? Potential?

Worthy of Love, and needing it

So how can I not see the soul of the person in front of me at the grocery store?  How can I not look at the heart, perhaps scared, torn beat-down, and not simultaneously ache & see the beauty of one formed by God.  One who Is loved so much by the Creator, that God’s desire is to hold, heal, help.  How can I not see the beauty God has created in someone?  I struggle, but none the less I try to see the beauty thru the eyes of the Creator.  What’s more I need to not just try to see the soul loved by God, but to also feel and act as the one who created them does.
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Amish family riding in a traditional Amish bug...

Amish family riding in a traditional Amish buggy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wonder if the Amish are on to something?  Are they right to send the young men out into the world.  By forcing them to make their beliefs system their own, nobody can then take it away from them.  What they claim to believe isn’t just because of what their parents, friends, or family believe, but they are forced to make a choice.  To either accept or reject the beliefs that they have been raised with.

Or is someone else’s belief enough?

Contrast that with the following survey from the UK http://richarddawkinsfoundation.org/
“Asked why they had been recorded as Christian in the 2011 Census, only three in ten (31%) said it was because they genuinely try to follow the Christian religion, with four in ten (41%) saying it was because they try to be a good person and associate that with Christianity.”
Can what you believe be handed to you like a family heirloom?  For me I left the family beliefs behind.  I searched and looked and tried so many things.  Only to have a sense of emptiness that nothing could fill.
Oh I tried and trust me I worked really hard to make all kinds of things fill me up, make me feel complete.  Inside of me was what I now know was a God shaped hole.  But then I tried to make other religions fill that.  When that didn’t work I then looked at anything, everything else.  Other people, especially women, trying to make them fit that shape.

Until it is your own it will not fit.

I would put someone else in that place, and for a time it would kind of sort of work.  Imagine trying to make three pounds fill a twenty pound bag.  There is something there, and it doesn’t feel as empty.  But sooner or later you realize that there is still something missing.  A life that isn’t full, isn’t complete.
The only thing big enough is God.  And now, well those other things just don’t seem that important.  Actually not important at all.  I enjoy the company of friends and time with family.  And although some of them are women I don’t use them to fill me up.  In fact being involved, dating, even the idea of marriage doesn’t really fit, at least for now.

Unlike Jerry McGuire the only thing that completes me is God.

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Isn’t there more?

Being what some would define as moral does not mean your kind.  But as a Christian we are to be kind, gentle, humble.  And what’s more to love our enemies.

I don’t know of anyone who is seen as simply moral, who also loves their enemy.  Marcus Aurelious was known as a moral leader, his writings about stoicism are still read, studied, and followed.  Often by those looking for a moral guide to life.  Yet this was a man who had no problem persecuting Christians of his day, because they were the other.
We are called to more than just a moral life.  We are called to be more.  Christian ethics mean to be not just good people, but to be a reflection of our Creator.
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But neither will I.

When it comes to God’s grace and mercy, you can’t earn it, I don’t deserve it.  That is the point.  If we could be good enough to earn God’s forgiveness and mercy, then I wouldn’t need Jesus.

I was having a conversation with the pastor at church and we were talking about the roles of grace and the law.  How do we explain Christian ethics and lifestyle and what it means to live a Christian life.  The conundrum is the balance and conflict between the two.  I can’t earn forgiveness, and Paul talks time and again how the law brings death.  Yet I know that the law is God’s standard.  So what do I do with that?

Obeying the law won’t save me, it won’t earn me salvation or forgiveness.  For if I could keep the law I would not need forgiveness.  Without a doubt there is the danger of falling into legalism.  It is way to easy to fall into looking at how I am keeping this law or that precept, and how you are not.  Then next thing you know I start looking down my nose and judging you, because although you may be great at keeping laws 1-2-3, they’re not the ones I think you should be focused on keeping.

At the same time how do you encourage people to keep the law, not for what it does for them but because of whose laws they are?  So I’m wondering if this makes sense?  We should strive to keep the law, knowing we are going to fail.  But still strive to keep the law because the law is God’s standard, shows the attributes of God, and pleases him.  Not because God wants to be a wet blanket, but rather than the law is how the universe works.

Would you want someone you love to suffer for you?

So if we love God, wouldn’t we want, try, even strive to keep the law?  1- because it is God’s standard. 2-because it pleases God. 3- Because of all He has done for us.  4- my sin Jesus took on himself on Calvary, suffering for my sin, why would I want to make Him suffer more?

After all God does not need us to “behave” to bring him joy, although our obedience and worship brings him joy.  We can’t earn God’s mercy, so why keep trying?  It’s not about trying to earn Mercy from God we already have mercy as much as we will ever need.

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To be a Christian is to be a follower, a disciple of Christ.  

 

But let’s be blunt and completely honest.  To live a perfect life for me is impossible. Why?  Because God isn’t able to make me perfect?  Of course not, but because I am not able to let him.

Know perhaps you’re saying “What kind of faith is that?  You say you’re a follower of Christ and yet you don’t do what he says.”  True I don’t I fail to live up to the Christian Ethic.  With no excuse for my own short-comings let me give you a for instance.

Unintentional failure is still failure

A man joins the Air Force.  He’s patriotic, loves his country and wants to serve. One day while walking across the base or standing around talking with some of his buddies a superior officer walks by, but our airman doesn’t notice and doesn’t salute. Is he no longer a patriot?  Of course not, but I fail to salute my king, my commanding officer a lot more than on one occasion.

 

Now our Airman is given a set of guidelines to live by just as you or I am.  The difference being that the closer I get to God the more aware I become of how far from perfect I really am.  Don’t mis-understand,  I am someone who loves God, and is loved by God. But I find being a Christian an ever-evolving process.  The closer I move to God the more aware of my short comings I become.

 

What was obvious to me as sin in my life when I first swore allegiance to Jesus is now easy to avoid.  Now as those things have become non-issues, other deeper things have become noticeable to me as a problem, as a sin that blocks or at least hinders God’s impact and presence in my life.  And if the time comes where, with God’s help, I conquer these things my guess is God will say to me, “That’s great but what about X”

 

Now before you get all “aren’t you trusting in works, or Christ made us free from the law” on  me let me be clear.  Doing anything on my own will never save me or earn God’s mercy, otherwise it would not be mercy.  Likewise I don’t strive to live up to God’s standards as expressed in the Law, because I have to.  Rather I want to because this is what God says is the standard.  His standard is perfect because God is perfect.  I know I will fail, but that does not mean I shouldn’t try.

 

So if you define being a Christian as being Christ-like, then I am destined to fail.  But I am going to fail greatly.

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Do I focus too much on the knowing, the need to know.  Rather then believe, and let God be God, accepting that some of his workings are beyond my comprehension.  Or should I trust what I do not fully understand while seeking knowledge and wisdom.  Search for truth, and understanding, believing that God wants to be known, or else he would not have made himself known in even an infinitesimally small way.  Which comes first, believing God or knowing God?

Faith ain’t always easy

Any of you who know me, know that I do not see Christianity as being dependent on blind faith.  I see God as one who has shown himself over and over again to man, and yes to me personally, tho before you get the wrong idea, no I have never had a vision, a dream or even a burning bush.  Still I find myself focusing on trying to know the why and the what of God.  Why are things in my life the way they are?  What is God trying to show or teach me?  But what if it is not about me?
Max Lucado has a great book “It’s not about me“.  Sometimes this book is a bit hard to read, at least for me.  Not because it is too deep or theological but because of what it makes me face.  One of the things Mr. Lucado talks about is the story of Job, yes that Job.  He points out that after all that Job goes thru and endures, loss of family, wealth, health.  When God comes and speaks to Job, and restores everything and more to him, God never tells him the why.  God doesn’t ease Job’s mind about the why.  God doesn’t tell Job, “Look people will be studying your life, and using it for an example for 5,000 years”

No my trials and issues are NOTHING like Job’s

Would it have made a difference to Job?  I don’t know.  I do know that sometimes I don’t get to know the why.  Maybe that’s just as well.  I can’t speak for you but if God came and told me.  “I know this is tough but someone reading this 20 years from now half a world away is going to make it through a hard time because of this.”   My first thought would probably be really, you can’t find someone else to use as an example?
I’m not one for blind faith, and even tho this might seem like what I am talking about having, it is not.  I have faith because God has been faithful.  God has done things in my past that make it seem realistic that he knows what he is doing.  Even when I don’t.
What about you?  Do you find God wanting you to know him or trust him more?
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