The Anger Train

Anger.001

I know there’s a ton of stuff that sucks…the REALLY.BIG.ROCKS!  Gas is $4 freakin’ dollars a gallon.  Grocery items…(oh, let’s not get started on that one).   And then there’s all the political crap!  AARRRG!!  it makes you angry, d#%n it! 

On top of all that, the images of suffering innocents abound…slammed right in our faces through instant media access.  Our.Emotions.Are.Raw.

So, what are we to do?

We have to get off the anger train! 

It takes good old fashioned (grow a pair) guts to jump off the train.

Many folks have been angry long enough that the anger train has built up momentum.  You can feel the hot air blowing in your hair.  The scenery of life is getting more and more blurred.  The clickety-clack of the next injustice announces its presence at a faster pace.

Don’t get me wrong.  The motivation for the anger is logical and many times feels moral.  You would not have climbed aboard if it weren’t.

Here’s the thing…the anger train that so many are riding (and that I am definitely tempted to board) is not changing one single circumstance. The prices are not coming down at the pump or in the grocery isle.  Politics.  Regardless of the party or arena, the root of politics has been a nemesis to true justice for…well…forever.  Don’t forget.  Politics and government are not the same thing.

Oh, by the way…angry Facebook posts and a “stand for righteousness” is also not the same thing.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” 

Be Angry And Sin Not

“Be angry and sin not.  Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”  Ephesians 4:26

That would seem to contradict my whole argument, wouldn’t it?  Depends.  How do we know if the anger we feel is righteous anger?

In a nutshell, righteous anger doesn’t separate us from faith in God.  Righteous anger isn’t a response to fear of loss.  Righteous anger motivates one to seek God as a first priority.  Righteous anger doesn’t make you or I ugly and difficult to be around.  Righteous anger is short lived.  It’s not allowed to have a life of it’s own.

So, let’s circle back around to the beginning.

It’s time to get off the anger train.  It’s time to get aboard the train of trust.  Through communion with God, see how He’s responding to life.  Work at envisioning what it would look like in your life if you could actually trust Him with everything that concerns you.

Here’s a great antidote that will help you jump off the anger train with a soft landing.  Spend time every day listing things you are thankful for.  Ride the Praise Train.  Seriously…

Thankfulness and praise keeps the heart flexible and able to receive necessary wisdom and creativity. 

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Star Christianity

super-star-2“Super Stars” have their place in the Body of Christ.  Ummm…wait!  That’s not true!  But why, then, do we measure ourselves (and others) with the “excellence” standards we do to decide who are the best, most usable, for the “cause of Christ”?

Let me start over.  God has gifted everyone with exceedingly important talents and callings.  Everyone.  You.  Me.  All.of.us.  But the standards we so often use on ourselves and others is right out of a Western cultural playbook.

Don’t get me wrong.  This is not a blog post about bashing the culture or the organized church.  It’s more of my attempt at a “reality check” in which I hope you will be encouraged to be everything you’ve been created to uniquely be…especially, if you feel ungifted and under appreciated.

There’s nothing wrong with recognizing wonderful accomplishments of those who have achieved and are achieving those feats of ministry that are very public and visible.  Their God given talents are wonderful and have a great purpose in God’s Kingdom…….as do the far less visible daily routines of the majority.

watch-gears-very-close-upI recently had an “inner picture” (vision) during worship on Sunday morning.  It was of the gears of a watch.  Big gears.  Little gears.  All sizes and shapes.  One of the thoughts (I believe from the Holy Spirit) that I had was, “Without every gear functioning, regardless of size or shape, the others will not turn.  All the gears have equal importance.

This is where some will say, “Yes, I know that’s truth!”  Then why do some of you -  that quickly say that – truthfully think your part is a lesser important part?”  Or, why do you secretly strive to be more like those who are more recognized than you?

I’d like to answer that. 

It’s because we, as a people (in general and in the church) have drank the poison kool-aid.  We’ve watched the laud and honor for super stars in the world…

But, we’ve gone to church on Sunday and seen the same thing played out.  Again, I’m not church leadership bashing here.  All churches aren’t like this…

But, the big sexy one’s are. 

Of course we know…don’t we…that our culture has taught us that the biggest bang for the buck is the key.  That’s what most new pastors strive for…numerical growth.  That proves their success…doesn’t it.  And growth…well…there won’t be growth without “excellence.”

Let me be quick to add:  i am not the slightest against large numbers when the increase is truly the hand of God.  

3d-man-with-question-mark-icon-84212896But my serious question is this.  Does the exciting presentation the congregation sees – in any particular church service – translate to the people the thought, “I’m important, valuable, usable by God, too?”  The high quality imagery, the powerful speaking, the professional musicianship from pretty people in the latest fashions create something.  Not all bad.  But, remember we, in western society, are very visual in how we learn.

Thrown together visuals, rambling disorganized speaking, and the quality of music that only a mother would luv (tolerate) is not my point. 

But I believe we’ve sought out and given place to what we call “excellence” when we would be much further ahead if we insisted on the top priority being an excellence of anointing.

When “excellence of anointing” is the engine that runs decisions, then a false sense of success is not created among the folks of the congregation.  God’s gifting has a way of elevating everyone in their uniqueness. 

Find the areas that give you the most satisfaction in living.  Discover and delight in the mundane and the miraculous.  Live each day with the desire to be a positive influence and support in your specific sphere of influence…whether that is at home, at work, in the community, et al.   Find your peace and do it with all your heart knowing that the more visible people would have a sh@* hole to live in if you didn’t keep the toilets clean.

And don’t forget…the highest excellence is measured by the quality of your character as you carry out whatever tasks and functions is your place “at this time” or forever.

Somebody once told me, “I just am not comfortable being in front of people.  But, I enjoy helping do whatever needs to be done.”  (btw…this person was one of my church leaders)

You.Sir.  You.Ma’m.  You.Are.Beautiful.  Just keep getting better at whatever you like doing and let an ever increasing excellence of character shine.

Gary

A Fruitful Life

plastic fruitEveryone wants to be fruitful in life.  It’s part of our God created DNA.  Even if a person has lost the edge on their desire, it’s still there. 

Many (I mean muchisimo many) years ago, the Lord spoke a word to me.  I knew it was His voice because it stood up off the page of my Bible and sang it’s song of hope to my heart.

John 15:16 (NIV), “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last…”

The picture of fruit, above, looks pretty good.  In fact, much of it looks “better” than the real thing often appears.  However…problem.  It’s plastic.  Not real.  Not tasty.  Not nourishing.

When the Lord spoke to me about bearing fruit that would remain, He wasn’t speaking of plastic fruit.  The thing is…plastic fruit does remain.  It’ll last and look good for eons.

The Remaining of God

Perhaps the primary illustration Jesus was speaking of in “the remaining” was fruit that had the kind of life that would continue to bear fruit, itself, for generations to come.

So That

Jesus chose you and I for a purpose.  Your life and my life has a purpose.  Reproduction.  His design for us is that we have His influence in this earth and on each other.  He gave us the “inner goods” to accomplish that calling.

Unlimited Variety

Many church folks are catching on to an important fact (that some have known all along).  We are created by God to be fruitful in a way that remains.  However, we have a weakness in the way that we teach fruitfulness…and many other things for that matter.  One size does not fit all.  The ways we function in our fruitfulness is as unique as our finger prints and DNA,

Most of our leaders and teachers that we consider successful tend to be easily expressive, and aggressive.  They have the image of success.  What success looks like, of course, varies from culture to culture.

Because of this per-conceived image of success, we tend to super-impose that upon what the expression of a truth looks like.  I remember years ago, 10 women at the church where I served, all baked the same dessert.  In fact they all used the same recipe.  What was funny is that all 10 desserts look and tasted differently.

Self Imposed Definitions

We’ve simply been surrounded by a “style” of the expression of truths that we’ve assumed that the style is one with the truth.  Ie:  If it’s the truth, it looks like this or that style of expression.   Because of this, we develop a kind of self imposed definition or description of … say…”a creative person” and if our abilities don’t fit our self imposed image or definition, we judge that…in this case…we are not creative.  The truth may be that we are highly creative, but we don’t call it that.

We All Have The Seeds of Fruit

We all have the seeds of fruit given to us by God.  He has a purpose for the fruit…that it remain…that it will last…that it will also reproduce.

We all have unique ways of accomplishing God’s goal.  We all have the capacity, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to develop fruit that is tasty, looks, good, and is nutritious for others and ourselves to enjoy.

Today Is Your Day

You aren’t worthless.  You have the unique capacity to bear fruit that isn’t plastic.

This will often fool you:  Your DNA will make your expression feel so natural to you that you could miss that it’s even happening.  In fact, that it’s actually very special.  It may be big like watermelons.  It may be small like berries.  Size of the fruit isn’t the point.  Good fruit has equal value unto itself…and is every bit as valuable to God, yourself, and those around you.

Do you want a fruitful life.  Wish no longer.  It’s right there in you!

If this has been valuable to you, please sign up via email or RSS feed above.  Thanks!

Gary

 

 

Getting Ahead of God

straightI believe it is impossible to “get ahead of God.”  The idea is commonly held, so let me explain what I mean.  I believe it will be hopeful and liberating.

As we navigate the twists and turns of our lives, we desire to make our decisions based on what we consider to be a revealed word or will of God.  Some of the most popular teachings revolved around the subject of, “Finding God’s Will.”

God’s Will Isn’t Lost

I really believe that we make the whole subject far more complicated than God ever intended.  He’s not playing a game of hide and seek with His purposes for us.  But, before I get too deeply into a discussion about “the art of finding His will,” let’s hone back in on this thing about getting ahead of God. [That's a subject for other posts]

God Doesn’t Hold Us Back

One of the problems I see in this whole, “Be careful not to get ahead of God” teaching assumes He “drags His heels” on our desires to get ahead…to advance in life.  It adopts the idea that God is always having to protect us from ourselves.

I believe God is the Master of Encouragement.  He wants us to grow in a sense of confidence in life.  Although it’s true that we all make bad decisions, those errors are not what God majors on with you.  I remember asking the Lord, “What’s the matter with me?!”  His quick response was, “I don’t want to talk to you about that right now.  I want to talk to you about what’s right with you.”  [That's a message you need to hear, as well]

God Is Always Ahead Of Us

Isaiah 45:2, “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron…”

It is not scriptural to say that you can get ahead of God.  That’s just a man made teaching.  Sincere?  Sure.  Scriptural? Not so much.

God is always ahead of us pulling us toward Himself and the straight places for our lives.  Yes, we all get off track from time to time.  We make decisions that take us the wrong direction.  But we never get ahead of God.

Isn’t That Just Semantics?

No, I don’t think so.  Words have meaning.  Words point us toward ways of believing.  Words are important.  They set an inner attitude and belief system.  It’s my firm conviction that we do ourselves a discouraging disservice that God never intends when we think we can get ahead of Him.  It drains us of courage for the next decision.

Confident Humility Is What’s Important

There are so many things that try to confuse, perplex, discourage and drain us hope as we navigate our individual journeys with the Lord.  Jesus wants us to not only come boldly to the Throne of Grace, but also “move boldly” in our walk of faith.  Humble confidence, to me, is the key.  There are times when you will zig instead of zag.  You just proved that you have a birth certificate to planet earth.  Be humble before God, but stay confident.  That’s what gives Him honor and glory.

What do you think?  Ready, set, go!  It’s your turn to comment.

Gary

 

 

 

The Sin Question

sin-picture-1024x866Yesterday I posted a rather “in your face” thing titled, “Hate the Sin, But Love the Sinner?  Having said what I did, the following should be considered.

Sin stinks.  In fact it more than stinks.  To consider it a non-issue would totally miss the point.

I don’t take sin lightly.  The results of sin are catastrophic.

However, I also believe that much of the religiously trained church world has brought more confusion to the table, regarding the issues of sin, than they have redemptive clarity.  Instead of insights into the powerful freedom we can achieve by His Spirit and His Word, the Old Covenant teachings of the Pharisees have re-bound multitudes of sincere saints.

Notes: 

1.  Saints are what a person is that has made Jesus Christ their personal God.  The Church at Corinth was being corrected for their sinful attitudes and actions; Yet, The Apostle Paul still addressed them as saints.

2.  The English word, religion, is literally the Greek word, “to bind again.”  That is why I said (above) that the Pharisees have re-bound multitudes of sincere saints  (with their religion).

So, sin.and.the.sinner….

With such a convoluted understanding of sin and how to think about it and handle it….

Realize.  Sin is the crappiest thing that’s happened to the human race.  But, there’s Good News.  And, a Christian is commissioned by God as a “Good News Telling Lover.”  Until the Good News Telling Lovers get their own s%#t straight…they need to simply exude the love of God.  Get it all over people.  Drench them in it.

A side benefit:  It’ll make you a lot happier person if all the responsibility of being a “sin sniffer” is off of your shoulders.

(Here’s a good article that helps bring some clarity to the sin issue)

Have a good day :)   Be blessed.  Enjoy Abundant Life.  It’s Yours In Christ.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

Hate The Sin, But Love The Sinner?

Arrogance“I Hate The Sin, But Love The Sinner.”  Really?  Seriously?  You self deluded, arrogant, self righteous, religious twit!

As a sound byte, the statement sounds really good.  Even spiritual.  Problem is…we’re not God.  We don’t have His capacity to make that kind of psychological separation.

How about we love the sinner and leave the hating the sin to the only One who can pull it off.  God. 

Well, I’ve said my piece.  Got that off my chest.  Apply it where you will. 

When all is said and done, people are longing to be loved.  Albeit, too many times in all the wrong places.  But, the motivation is to find love.

So, let’s let them find the love in Jesus, through us.  Let’s look at His life, in the Scriptures, and see what He made a big deal of…and to whom.  Where Jesus puts emphasis  of His words and deeds, stress those same places for yourself as you interact with those around you.  Otherwise, take it off your table.

Repent of the high-minded arrogance that has you deluded into thinking that you can separate the sin from the person involved.  Love people.  Leave what only God can do to God, Himself.  We’ll get much further down the road in reaching those whom God wants reached with His Good News.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating Peace…Unless You’re Dead

If you’re dead, there’s no reason to read this blog entry.  But, if you’re still breathing, you’ll want to discover this secret that is too seldom used by too many.

When you find yourself stressed out, hemmed in, or jacked up in some other of a thousand ways, do what God designed you to do…CREATE!

Before you bounce out of this article because you don’t think it will interest or apply to you, WAIT!

Creativity is as creativity does!  Here are a couple of the reasons many people’s eyes glass over when being creative is the subject:

  1. A misunderstanding that the “creative gene” is limited to artistic types like musicians, actors, authors, and the like.  WRONG!
  2. Things playful and enjoyable are for kids.  Once one becomes an adult with serious adult problems, anything but solemn seriousity in approaching life’s significant issue is a waste of time.  WRONG!  <I know seriousity is not a word…but i don’ care :)>

God Fashioned and Breathed His Creative Nature Into Everyone

When God made mankind, He did not reserve the quality of creativity for just a unique group that would become the artsy-fartsy folks.  The only differences among us is how that creative capacity is expressed.

He made some with the desire and ability to fashion with their hands.  Others love to work with numbers.  Still others have an organizational capacity to take a messy environment and creatively turn it into clean and neat.  The examples are as varied as talent and gift capacities.  The “life blood” of one’s unique personal make-up is known as creativity.  It’s the “creative spark” that ignites you and fulfills a practical need.

Play Is Serious Business

Working by the sweat of one’s brow was a part of the curse that came upon mankind as a result of disobedience.   I’m convinced that the pre-redemption “sweat of the brow” mentality is the vampire that’s been sucking the life blood out of God’s intended Abundant Life of God’s Kids.

The Kingdom of God being like children is a metaphor for many, many living qualities, but I believe that “play being serious business” is one of the key points of us being reconciled to Kingdom life and ways.  We are called to enjoy (infuse with joy) any challenge that faces us.  We have the ability, by His Spirit, to rejoice (re-joy ourselves) by drawing on Who He is.  Otherwise, we may be redeemed in doctrine, but still struggling through life with a curse mentality.

What Do I Do When Faced With A Challenge?

I play.  I create.  I plug into my God-given type of creative flow.  It settles me.  It elevates my “aliveness.”  And somehow I can’t explain, the creative flow snags solutions, out of the invisible.  In the playful peace I find a deeper connection to God than I do through a conventional understanding of prayer.   Actually, I think that real prayer and creative flow are deeply intermingled.

It took awhile for me to adjust.  I struggled with feelings that I was wasting time.  But “proof is in the pudding.” (Western idiom…sorry….lots of my readers are from all over the globe). 

Today, I live in more peace.  I enjoy more solutions.  I sense a more profound connection to to God and the life He has given me to live.

Do you resonate with this perspective?  How do you think you might approach your life with more of your creativity?  Please comment.

I get a “charge” out of visualizing quotes.  Here are some recent examples that helped settle me.  Nothing artistically profound.  Just simple Keynote projects on my Mac.

Revelation.001

Fear.001

Live In Christ.001Don't Water Your Weeds.001

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Forgiveness

forgiveness-jaIs there something beyond or better than the choice and act of forgiveness?  I’d like to share some thoughts with you on finding the peace of that place.

As I’ve considered and attempted to practice what I’m suggesting here, it’s not from a doctrinal definition, or scriptural argument.  I’m not – nor do I desire – to split hairs on meanings of words.  But, I have found a “concept of truth” that’s been very helpful to me.  I hope it will help you in your journey with relational wholeness.

We all experience wounds from unkind – even malicious – words and actions of other people in our lives.  In some cases, the bottom line is that you and I have been overly sensitive or offend-able.  We’ve made the proverbial mountain out of a mole hill emotionally.  However, we’ve all probably suffered words and experiences that were more devastating.

I heard the testimony of a lady that had died from cancer and ultimately returned to her physical body.  Through a process of five weeks, her tumors totally dissolved and, today, is completely whole in body.  One of the amazing parts of her experience was an “upgrade” in the area of understanding forgiveness.  She says that what became real in her time “outside of her body” extended on into daily life.  It wasn’t only meant to be a reality “on the other side,” but has the potential for being lived out in our “now.”

In the physical death state, she found herself looking at things that had happened to her that had caused a great deal of pain.  Issues that, on earth, she’d not been able to resolve in her emotions.  Ie: Not been able to forgive. 

As she saw these events re-happening, she suddenly also had a kind of “understanding.”  She, then,  also realized that if the roles had been reversed and her offender’s life story had been her life story, she would more than likely have said or done the same painful things.  Therefore, her conclusion toward those people was that there was no need for forgiveness.

Jesus said on the Cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  To me, those words of Jesus grasps the same idea.  He’s asking God to forgive them.  He’s not saying it’s not necessary.  However, he does say, “Don’t lay it to their charge.  They didn’t know what they were doing.

I’m not saying there aren’t other questions that come up.  However, I’ve found a fresh ability to release folks when I make the same choice by asking the Lord to help me put myself in their shoes.  I’ve found it profoundly helpful to say, “…because they didn’t know what they were doing.  And, I may have done the same thing myself.”

Again…this proposal doesn’t answer everything.  It’s not meant to.  But, please consider how it may contain wisdom for you in at least some of your circumstances.

What do you think?  Please comment:

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Hope Doesn’t Work

Torn HopeLast time we discussed the fact that faith doesn’t work if there’s no hope.  However, hope doesn’t always work, either.  There is a very specific reason that I want to look at in this post.

Last time I gave you fresh understanding on how faith and hope work together…and…< swish >  there goes the rug.  What do you mean that hope doesn’t always work??

Hope Must Have The Correct Focus

chasing-butterfliesThere are times when I’ve caught myself being a “confident feeling” chaser.  But, when my focus was on chasing the feeling, it turned out much like chasing butterflies.  It doesn’t work out.  The butterflies very often seem to be practicing their wind sprints.  They are just as easy to catch as nailing jello to a tree on a hot day. (I’ve used that metaphor before, as you may remember…cuz I like it :))

The Focus Must Be God & His Character

Looking to our emotions to see whether or not they are producing confident feelings will always disappoint.  The object of re-establishing hope daily is not the same thing as “pumping ourselves up” every day.  That’s not the same as refreshing hope.  And, that kind of “wishful thinking hope” won’t work.  It.won’t.produce.

God is the author of what we call hope.  It’s poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit as we look to Him and remind ourselves of the faithfulness of His character.

We discover the re-filling of hope as we re-focus our eyes – like Peter in the storm – on Jesus.  That’s the kind of hope beyond hope that attacks and gives confidence to actions of faith.

Gary

Faith Needs Hope

Hope

You may be thinking right now that you had so much faith yesterday.  Today, you seem empty. You feel like your faith has evaporated.  You’re fearful, stressful, and struggling. You wonder,   “How did I loose my faith?”  That’s what I want to look at today.

If you’re like me, I used to think of faith as having confidence in something, someone…God…His Word.  Then I discovered that confidence is not really the same thing as faith.  In fact, more often than not, we lump the words faith, trust, and believe all together as the same thing.  They aren’t.

Confidence is “Hope”

The Greek word translated hope is ejlpivß (elpis).  The definition of elpis (hope) is “onfident expectation or anticipation.”  The problem is that that’s what people normally mean when they use the word, faith.  Without hope there is nothing that faith will act upon. Faith is a course of action based on the hope that a person has.

Abraham Hoped

I used to be a bit confused by the words that Paul wrote in Romans 4:19, that Abraham didn’t weaken in faith when he considered his own body.  What about going in to Hagar?  It certainly looks to me like there was some fluctuation of faith when he did that. Not to mention other things. Yea, but not so!  Read one verse earlier (v.18), “In hope he believed against hope…”

Faith Needs Hope

Weakening not in faith = He and Sarah kept on doing what you do to have children. Yuh get my drift??  Abraham and Sarah’s continued in sexual relations.  That’s called faith.  It was based on the fact that Abraham had hope beyond hope in God’s promise.  Nothing mystical here.  And, faith is always a practical action that naturally comes from having confidence in God and His Word.

Lack of Faith is Not Our Problem

Hope is not wishful thinking.  That’s what it’s often been reduced to in contemporary Western civilization..  We hear, “Don’t get your hopes up.”  The truth is…that’s EXACTLY what we need to do.  Have our hopes as high and strong as possible.  The lack of faith is not our problem.  Our dilemma is a lack of sufficient hope.

Hope Evaporates

I don’t know if “evaporation” is the most accurate way to describe it.  But, practically speaking, the heat of daily cares, and a thousand and one other things is a drain on hope…or…that’s the way it affects the emotional part of our beings.

Fan the Flames of Hope Daily

Draw daily on positive God stories and promises.  Acknowledge your confidence in Him – on purpose with your voice and with your heart.  Start each day choosing Hope in Him.  Actions (small, medium, and large) will logically and practically result as the fruit of hope.  That’s called faith.

Hope Thou In God

David said in Psalms 42 and 44, “Why are you cast down, my soul, HOPE THOU IN GOD…”

Invest More In Hope

Now, it’s your turn.  Let us hear from you in the comments.

Gary