Is Life A Deck Of Cards?

In the game of Poker, if you don’t get a good hand the best you can do is pretend  you got it goin’ on and, A – hope that your bluff works and, B – hope that the next hand you’re dealt is better than the last. In the game of Solitaire, there’s no possible way to play a bad hand well enough to win – you get what you get. But in the game of Bridge, you don’t ever play alone and despite the hand dealt to you (and your partner) skill is the most important thing you can both have. Even greater than probability, in Bridge, the better you play, the better your chances of turning things around for yourself.

I like the saying, “Life is a deck of cards.” It’s a clever thought to think we all can ‘play’ what we’re dealt in life in such a way to turn a ‘bad hand’ into a winning one. My favorite inspirational place to read from in the Bible is the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon, a man before his time, sets out to question, challenge and experiment with all things ‘life’; he considers life with and without God, with and without rules.

…The words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 2:10 – paraphrasing from KJV:

“Anything I saw that I wanted, I got it. Anything that made me feel good, I did it. If it made my heart happy, I indulged in it without reservation. I figured, I had worked for it, it was my money, I deserved it, and so  I spent it how I wanted to spend it and I did with it what I wanted to do. It was my gift to myself in this life.”

If you are like me, about right now you might be thinking Solomon sounds like a pretty cool guy. He was filthy rich, independent, extremely intelligent, liked to laugh and have fun, wasn’t afraid of having a good time,  a free spirit, a leader of people, world famous, a king… this man lived life big. Who wouldn’t want a taste of that kind of life?

The beautiful thing about Ecclesiastes is that as you read about how Solomon lives his life, you get a sense that he dabbles with being a wild child not to be rebellious, but to find the wisdom in the meaning of life; in doing so, he answers the big question for all us, “Is life a deck of cards?” Solomon answers, “Heck yeah, it is!”

“Vanity of vanities,” is what he called life. “All is vanity,” Solomon said. In this context the word vanity means: the quality of being worthless or futile. Solomon observed that “time and chance happens to everyone”. He calculated that probability played a huge part in the life of every person regardless of their efforts or even the lack thereof. What I get from Solomon is that (forgive me for being so blunt) he would have been the kind of person with a pick-up truck and that bumper sticker, you know the one that says, “$H!% Happens.”

Solomon’s words were made famous through another writer, I’m sure you’ve heard of him – Charles Dickens (yeah, Dickens must have read the Bible cuz this is soooo out of the Book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3):

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance….”

Solomon realized for all of us that rich or poor, young or old, black or white, lucky or unlucky (including the parts that make sense and the parts that don’t) that everyone in THIS LIFE, ends up in the same kind of seasons. Death comes all too quickly and none of us leave with anything. Likewise, our reputation or even our legacy will eventually be forgotten. Another will come after us, claiming the same sorrows or victories, as if they were the first. Solomon said, “Nothing is new under the sun.”

After exploring every aspect of life, Solomon found that human ego was full of vanity. He noted that obviously there were consequences for our actions and there were predictable (and unpredictable) outcomes due to our choices but still yet, after weighing it all in the balances, he could not get over that little thing called ‘chance’, and for that, he didn’t believe any of us could completely control our own destiny.

…The words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 8:16,17 & 9:1 & 12:14 – paraphrasing from KJV:

“When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on the earth; I saw the work of God, that man cannot find out how God has done all the work that He has done under the sun. Even though a man labors to figure it out, he cannot. And even though a wise/educated man thinks he knows how it all works, still he can’t say he knows for sure – he is not able to find unquestionable proof (of his own theories).”

“I deeply considered all of this in my heart and have concluded that the best people in the world (the righteous) and the most educated (the wise) and all their works (research and studies) are IN THE HAND OF GOD.”

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear/Revere God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

For me, I find grace in Solomon’s wisdom from the Book of Ecclesiastes. There’s this balance of doing what you can do and letting go of what you can’t. There’s wisdom in considering life as a deck of cards in that, it is true, we don’t all have the same advantage. And if skill and will power are somehow the equalizing agents – well, we don’t all seem to be able to acquire the same levels of those either. Some people learn quickly and others… not so much!

The inspiration here is to not be too hard on ourselves or on others. If life is a deck of cards, we should play them in the game of Bridge – taking God as our skilled partner. In spite of all the bad things that may happen, if we place our hope in God, regardless of the fact that we do not live life with a good hand, we can still live life IN good hands.

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The Believer vs. The Born Again

Note from the author: [I have placed this piece in the category, ‘Not Ashamed’. ‘Not Ashamed’ is vastly different than my other posting category, ‘Strength For the Journey’. Please remember that this category speaks to my personal Biblical convictions, and reflects doctrine from denominational upbringing  –  it may not be for everyone.]

 

The Believer vs. The Born Again

The well-known expression, ‘Born Again’ is found in only two places in the Bible.  Because of this, there should have never been another definition of what it means to be Born Again created anywhere, by anyone, from any religion.

In the New Testament there is an account of a man (a ruler of the Jews) who came to Jesus secretly by night to learn about the things of God, his name was Nicodemus.  During one of those covert Bible studies, the well-known expression, ‘BORN AGAIN’, was coined by Jesus Christ Himself:

Jesus said to Nicodemus, Verily, verily, I say unto you,

                   Except a man be BORN AGAIN, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old?

Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say to you,

                   Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,

he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (because)

                   that which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Do not be astonished, that I say to you, YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN

— John 3:1-7 —

How did Jesus define being born again? He clarified His words to Nicodemus by stating that in order to be born again, Nicodemus would need to be “born of water and of the Spirit”. There are too many scriptures to share in this single post to bring deeper revelation of Christ’s commandment to be “born of water and of the Spirit”. Simply put, Jesus was telling Nicodemus to be water baptized and filled with His Spirit.

I have been a witness for the loving, saving, transforming message of Jesus Christ for almost 30 years. I couldn’t tell you the number of one-on-one conversations I’ve had with people about God; people of every different kind of religious and cultural background. Through these experiences I have come to realize that many people find themselves discouraged about the things of God; when they finally turn to Christianity for answers or try to involve themselves with ‘believers’ they are often left with even more questions than what they had to begin with.

In those raw moments of truth and transparency, I’ve been told many times that after they go to church, when the service is over, they walk out still feeling empty inside. For many, this emptiness becomes a miserable burden due to the disappointment of not finding the hope they were desperate for.

The problem with mainstream Christianity is that it teaches people that being ‘born again’ simply means reciting the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. So why do the multitudes find that this simple act of believing is not enough? Consider what the Bible says in James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God – you do well; the devils also believe and tremble.” How ironic, right? The teaching that believing is not enough because the devils also believe!

——-  >                   The Bible teaches us that believing is not CHANGE.

Believing can be an act of faith or it can be nothing more than an intellectual understanding, a decision, a choice – to believe. If believing is an act of faith then it should become the catalyst for taking a person to the next level. It is said that faith is not passive, it is active so the next level means putting that FAITH INTO ACTION.

The Believer has a state of mind.

— The Born Again has a change of mind.

The Believer brings things to past.

— The Born Again puts things in the past.

The Believer says, “I have faith.”

— The Born Again says, “I act on my faith.”

The Believer says, “If I believe, all things are possible.”

— The Born Again says, “I believe I am DONE with this situation! Mountain move out of my way and get out of my life!”

The Believer talks about authority.

— The Born Again walks in authority.

The Believer has a vision.

— The Born Again executes a vision.

The Believer says God CAN and God WILL.

— The Born Again says God DID and God HAS DONE.

The Believer says, “Even though I sin daily, I WILL BE saved because I have faith.”

— The Born Again says, “I AM saved and I AM an overcomer and I WILL CONTINUE to overcome because I have faith.”

You see, spiritual transformation does not happen at the point of belief. Mark chapter 16 and verse 16 says, “Believe AND be baptized.” As we saw earlier, in the words of Christ to Nicodemus, true change happens when we are BORN AGAIN. We have to submit ourselves to the remaking process. Being BORN AGAIN reshapes us and brings us into a spiritual rebirth.

According to the words of Jesus and His apostles/disciples in the New Testament, the Born Again Christian has repented of their sins, they have been baptized in the saving name of Jesus Christ, and filled with the Spirit of Christ/Spirit of Truth/Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost. (Acts 1:4-5, 7-8, and Acts 2:37-38)

This born again process is where our relationship with God actually begins. Before this, God is a thought, an idea, a desire, an encounter (at best) but not a reality – not a relationship. That is why Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of spirit is spirit.” We have to do more than just believe.

                             We have to BE changed in order to FEEL changed.

Perhaps James chapter 2:26 says it best, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” We SHOW our faith (our BELIEF) when we obey the words of Jesus Christ – when we repent and say, “Lord I am sorry for all the sin I have committed.”

We SHOW our faith (our BELIEF) when we obey the words of Jesus Christ – when we are baptized in water to represent the washing away of those very sins we are sorry for. We SHOW our faith (our BELIEF) when we offer up our sinful, human nature as a sacrifice to God and say, “Lord, change me. I submit my natural tendencies to you, give me a new conscience. Fill me with your Spirit so that I can be changed, forever guided, internally, with your way of thinking.”

I am thankful beyond words for the BORN AGAIN who taught me there is much more to this thing than just being a BELIEVER.

                                                      Change is real – if you want it.

 

 

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Hold Steady

It’s unfortunate that most us don’t fully believe in our own potential until someone else does. I still chuckle when I hear the phrase, “Fake it till you make it.” Is it true that only if others see, it can be said, “I’ve made it,”?

Am I the only person who has fallen into the trap of putting a tremendous amount of effort into getting people to see me the way I want to be seen? For the record, I’m not convinced this even works. It is one thing to bluff your way through or rather into something if your audience is a stranger to you; it is another thing entirely if the spectators are family or old friends.

So, what to do about changing the opinions of people who have known you your entire life? The pessimist says, “People don’t change.” An optimistic viewpoint says they do. I find myself somewhere in between. I would say that as a general rule people don’t change UNLESS THEY HAVE TO, in which case of course, they do.

My mother was quite the green thumb and always had beautiful plants growing everywhere throughout our home. On the weekends she would make her rounds watering and pruning, fertilizing and re-potting. On these occasions she’d recruit me as her student, “See how this plant is bending hard in one direction towards the window?” She’d then turn the pot towards me so I could see how crooked the plant was growing.

“Whoa! Yeah!!” I exclaimed.

“You know how to fix that?” She asked me with a twinkle in her eye. I’m sure my facial expressions must have reflected uncertainty because before I could answer she continued, “All you have to do is turn it from time to time. Leave it for a few days – it will straighten up on its own. The leaves will always turn THEMSELVES towards the sun. Always.”

Such a simple lesson, right? But I find it profound to this day. I believe people are a lot like plants. Some are bent too hard in one direction, living lives that are out of balance. Those are the ones you look at and say, “He’ll/She’ll NEVER change!”

Every once in awhile though, there’s that special person, like a well manicured plant that’s been faced towards the sun at every angle; no matter how you turn them, no matter what life has to bring, they always look beautiful – all sides of their person equally developed.

This topic is near and dear to my heart because I’ve sorrowfully watched many loved ones, who refused to take the time to “turn their leaves towards the sun”. Instead of working on living a balanced life and growing themselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, they spent far too much time over-developing one area of their life, causing them to be crooked.

The idea of ‘fake it till you make it’ is a crooked concept. It’s saying, “I am an incomplete person. I intend on getting by, by showing my good side ONLY. If I succeed at tricking you, then all is well. I have made it.” There is no personal standard for the individual who approaches life in this way. They have no interest in becoming a better person because as long as someone else sees them the way they want to be seen and approves of them, they believe they have reached their potential.

People like this do seem to get to places in life faster but I have also seen the same types lose their glory all too quickly in the end. Like a crooked plant, growing sideways only works for so long and then it hits the floor. It doesn’t take long for everyone to see the imbalance, the ugliness.

As tempting as it is to choose a bluff, fingers crossed behind the back, hoping against all hopes that someone will see you in the way you want to be seen, another option is available.  Grow tall and straight and strong. It will take awhile longer because you’re working on all of your sides.

Maybe I’m just a dreamer but I still believe a balanced life will stand the test of time. Be patient. Hold steady. And when they see you, when they finally SEE YOU, my oh my, how full and beautiful you will be. No faking necessary.

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Live In The Moment

They were helpless. It was a tremendous amount of work totting them around – a double stroller, a carrier, a baby backpack, a big ol’ puffy diaper bag. Everywhere I went people would stop and stare. They would smile. Sometimes they would move closer to me to get a better look, those were the ones with advice:

“They grow up too fast. Enjoy this time; it’ll be gone before you know it.”

I welcomed the comments with polite laughter but never understood the somber faces. Now that my children are grown, I understand. When I see parents with infants and toddlers I too find myself staring, smiling – realizing how quickly time flies. I find myself wondering at how much I’ve forgotten or asking myself if I missed something.

Were mine ever that tiny?! I can’t remember, or can I? I forgot how delicately small a baby’s fingers are. And then it dawns on me, yes, I remember now! My oldest son’s foot used to fit in my hand and now he towers over me at 6’ 3”, balancing all that height on a pair of 14’s. I know it’s real but it feels like a dream. What I DO remember and haven’t forgotten AT ALL… is how hard it was… raising the children alone.

Research results by ProjectKnow report that 13.8 million Americans have a drinking problem with 8.1 million of them being alcoholic. The latest statistic claim quoted on NBC News stated that 1 in 6 Americans take an antidepressant. In fact, CNBC reported that Americans consume “almost all of the global opioid supply”. Rattle off the names of a few prescriptions (Xanax, Valium, Prozac, Lexapro, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone) and notice how nearly everyone knows what you’re talking about; immediately they can identify, either because they’ve tried the drugs themselves or know people who have.

Dr. Jeff Logue Ph.D. with SAGU University, presented statistics on the use of pornography in this country saying, “The porn industry is making more money than all professional sports combined.” He also quotes that 40 million U.S. adults regularly access pornography websites. That’s over 10 % of the American population so wouldn’t it be safe to say that for every 10 people you know, 1 of them has a sex addiction.

Like the use of prescription drugs and alcohol, the use of porn has become so wide spread that the cliché, ‘everyone’s doing it’, is getting alarmingly close to true; people are beginning to feel emboldened about the use of porn, acting as if nothing is wrong with it. We like our drugs. We like our alcohol. We love our sex.

You’re thinking, what does this have to do with the gentle sentiment about kids growing up too fast? The answer is EVERYTHING! We are living in a generation filled with ridiculously stressed out people. People drowning in anxiety, suffocated with depression, shackled in pain, popping pills, choking down massive volumes of alcohol, and numbing themselves with the spiritual and mental poison of pornography. How many of these miserable people do you think are parents?

Is there a solution to end the anxiety, the depression, the pain? In the Bible, there is a particular portion of scripture referred to as ‘The Sermon On The Mount’ (Matthew chpt 5 – chpt 7). The teachings of Jesus Christ may be a difficult concept to embrace for some:

“Take no thought for tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself.”

In this sermon, Jesus teaches the people that yes, tomorrow WILL come (so don’t do anything stupid) but with tomorrow a whole new day filled with good and evil will come with it. Every day comes with the same basic needs: eating, being clothed, finding shelter.  We can lay out our best life plans only to be surprised with a little thing called TOMORROW. Life happens. In a moment, TOMORROW can come, without warning, bringing a new “evil” – one in which, despite our best laid plans, we are unprepared for.

Death, economic loss, tragedy, broken relationships, illness. We CANNOT prepare for everything so at what point do we accept this and stop worrying over the future?

Don’t Worry About What Hasn’t Happened Yet…

(Because it hasn’t happened YET! And maybe even WON’T!)

Don’t Excessively Think About Things You Can’t Control…

(Because going over things in your mind again and again doesn’t help

 especially if you can’t control those things in the first place!)

Don’t Try To Be Something And Someone You Are Not…

(Stop comparing and start sharing!)

Looking back at the wisdom I received from strangers, I only wish I could have understood more of what they were saying THEN. The pressures of life stressed me out a great deal. Still, I held onto my faith in God but I could have done a few things better. For example, I didn’t play with my kids as much as I should have – I always felt too busy to play. Living in the moment has been something I’ve learned to better embrace as I’ve gotten older. Only now, it is really starting to make sense.

Despite where you are in life or what kind of stress you may be dealing with, there is a way to LIVE IN THE MOMENT today! Try having more FAITH in God. If you were to read the end of Matthew, Chapter 6, you would find out that God sees, He knows, He understands, and He cares. And best of all? He promises to do something about it!

We can enjoy each and every little moment in our lives if we can learn to live one day at a time. The more we KNOW and BELIEVE that God is in complete control the more we realize we don’t have to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Do You See When You Look At The Moon?

I have a dear friend confused about who God is; he grew up in a Trinity-teaching church. As a kid in Sunday School he learned that the Holy Trinity consisted of God the Father (the FIRST PERSON in the Godhead), God the Son  (the SECOND PERSON in the Godhead) and the Holy Spirit (the THIRD PERSON in the Godhead).

Over the years it has been difficult for him to comprehend GOD AS ONE. He goes back and forth with it, stuttering in his prayers and in his discussions with others about God. He says things like, “I was praying to God, or Jesus, or! HaHa! Whatever, whichever, one – both, I guess, really, uhhm, haha, anyway…”

The Trinitarian teachings are so ingrained in his mind that he is afraid of leaving some part of God out; he tries to do his best to honor ALL THREE: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. He has two major questions that get in the way of him developing a deeper relationship with God and they are: why would God allow HIS OWN son to be killed and WHO should I pray to – God or Jesus or both?

When I try to share scriptures that might help my friend grasp the ONENESS of God he looks at me so intently that I think it is HOPE I am seeing in his eyes but when I blink and look again I realize it is doubt. He is 20 years my senior so it could be said he should know more about God than I do, after all he got a jump start right? But the more I visit with him the more it feels like I can’t break it down to him in tiny enough pieces.

He was TAUGHT TO THINK in “3’s” and this ‘triune’ thinking interferes with his ability to think in ONE. It reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago in college. I’ll never forget walking back to the dorms one evening with a young man from Haiti. The sky was clear and dark and perfectly lit up with the glow of a full moon. Always moved by nature I couldn’t keep my thoughts to myself. Suddenly I blurted out, “Wow! Look at the moon tonight!”

My walking companion replied in a thick Haitian accent, “Isn’t it lovely! Do you see the woman and her baby?”

Caught totally off guard I squeaked, “The woman and her baby?! No! I see the ‘man in the moon’.”

“The man in the moon?! You must be crazy! No, no, no. It is the virgin mother and the baby Jesus. See there,” he pointed to the dark shadows against the white of moon and explained the outline of a woman holding her child. I attempted to visualize it. I mean, I really REALLY tried. I thought it would be interesting to view the moon in a different way. Despite all of my efforts I COULD NOT SEE IT. I could only see the man in the moon.

“Maybe the moon looks different in Haiti,” I concluded frustrated.

“I am looking at the moon HERE in America,” he shot back, “And I don’t know what you are saying – the face of a man in the moon?!”

Now, imagine if you were God. As God you WANT your children to feel closer to you, connected even. You want them to trust you and know how deeply you care for them and think about them all the time. You want them to TALK to you, to have a better RELATIONSHIP with you. With all this being the case, now imagine how you would feel listening to two of your children arguing about the nature of who you are.

One child would be going on and on defending your character, explaining your nature with perfect understanding while the other child would be arguing that you were none of those things or maybe some of those things but that no one would ever really EVER UNDERSTAND you because you were too complicated – too hard to understood.

My college acquaintance and I could walk away with differing opinions about how the moon seemed to look to us because it didn’t really matter. The moon was still the moon at the end of the day. Ironically God is still God as well, at the end of the day, whether we understand Him or not. There is a huge difference in this comparison however and that is if we do not come to an understanding of WHO GOD IS we will miss out on life’s greatest blessing of all: having a relationship with God.

How can a person have a relationship with someone they DO NOT KNOW? Or what kind of quality relationship would a person have with someone they DID NOT UNDERSTAND? The very essence of the thing we call CHEMISTRY is the amazing ability each person has TO UNDERSTAND one another. As humans we love to be understood. And so it is with God.

Only God can tell us who He is and the way He does that is through the Bible. We MUST LEARN the scriptures to find out what they say about God and we must read them with an open mind, not one that has been already molded into a certain way of thinking. It has been said that the BIBLE is God’s love letter to us. I have found my understanding of God to become crystal clear the MORE I READ the Word of God. I feel closer to Him, more secure in my faith of Him, stronger, happier, more peaceful.

Ask me what I see when I look at the moon and I do not mind if you say you do not see the same thing. Only ask me what I see when I look at our God…

“Ephesians 4:4-5 – There is ONE (church) body and ONE Spirit… One Lord, One faith, One baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

 

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With Meaning Comes Responsibility

There are a dozen or more personality disorders ranging from schizophrenia to narcissism that fall under the category: shallow relationship disorder (yes, that is actually a technically correct term). People struggling with shallow relationship disorder are just that – shallow. I know what you’re thinking, “Wow! This is lame. That’s not a disorder! I know a lot of shallow people.”

To be more clear, I’m skipping over most of the medical, scientific, and psychological explanations for the sake of time but this IS NOT a simple case of being shallow SOME of the time, this is a case of being shallow ALL of the time!

These disorders make a person unable to get close to ANYONE, so whether it is a parent-child relationship, a romantic relationship, or (and this is a idea I’d like to propose) a godly, faith-based relationship, ALL types of relationships that involve a deeper connection is totally off limits for them.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, agreement breakers, false accusers, out of control, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, egotistical, arrogant, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God… ALWAYS learning, and NEVER able to come to the knowledge of the TRUTH.” II Timothy 3:1-4, 7

If you’ve never found yourself in a relationship with a person like this consider yourself lucky. For those of us who have, it’s not that we set out to find this type of person, it’s that we didn’t realize they had so many walls until AFTER a relationship started. Ok, correction: it was never an intimate relationship for THEM but only for US. As it turns out, in all the years you knew that certain type of person, you find out (much to your own heart break) that nothing MEANT anything to them.

Recently it came to me in this way: With Meaning Comes Responsibility. It seems our society has realized that the less something means the less responsible they have to be. It’s a wonderful trade off for a self-driven, self-serving, self-motivated generation. For example, if we minimize the Bible and say that it is historical fiction and that it doesn’t really MEAN what it says it means then we are released from the responsibility to OBEY the rest of the stuff the Bible says we should obey.

Atheists don’t believe in God, He has no MEANING to them – how convenient – they don’t have to be responsible for seeking after a relationship with God which in turn might lead to God asking them to live more disciplined, purposeful, Christian lives. It might MEAN that they would have to speak out against laws in our society that oppose the laws of God – now THAT is a heavy responsibility!

Jesus said in John chapter 14 and verse 15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” A married man/woman or mother/father might find they too have required as much from their loved ones, “If you love me, SHOW me you love me. If you love me, DO what I ask you to do – clean your room!”

One may only require something of someone they are in a meaningful relationship with and we all pretty much know what that MEANS. When whatever is between you and another person actually means something, the expectation is raised is it not? And so we have a world filled with people avoiding MEANING, avoiding RELATIONSHIP…. relationship with each other and most importantly relationship with God.

In order to truly know God or anyone else for that matter, we HAVE TO BE WILLING to nurture and care and tend to that relationship – we have to be responsible; or as the famous French writer, Moiler, said, “It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible but also for what we do not do.”

 

 

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You Know You Want More

Remember when the casual hook-up wasn’t enough anymore? When you knew you wanted a long-term relationship but you were afraid to tell him/her what you really wanted? Remember when you held out because it’s what you were taught and it’s what you believed in? You finally caved because you were tired of waiting; you realized you weren’t getting what you needed. You rationalized that a little compromise wouldn’t hurt if it lead to what your heart truly wanted.

They say the heart wants what the heart wants. Johnny Depp, known as one of America’s sweethearts, was quoted as saying, “You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.” How many times do we try to lie to ourselves? Ignoring the actions and behaviors of those we are actively giving our heart to? In reality they don’t respond to most of our text messages, they don’t follow through with making or keeping plans to hang out, they don’t ever call or come to visit. They never ask how we are doing. And yet when THEY text, WE respond adequately and promptly, when THEY ask us to do something, WE greet their invitations with enthusiasm and support. THEY don’t call but WE do. THEY don’t drive to our side of town but WE drive to theirs. THEY don’t ask how we are doing, but WE always remember to ask them how THEY are.

Today, in reading this, maybe you are being reminded of how you’ve been suppressing heavy feelings you can’t seem to share with anyone else. It may be that you’ve been ignoring the ache in your heart that something is missing. You know you want more. More out of your relationships. More out of your walk with God. More out of life in general. You are thinking of all the mistakes you’ve made, you keep trying to compensate for this emptiness – this lack – but nothing’s working. You’re stuck and you don’t know how to get out of it, over it, or through it.

The prophet Samuel instructs the children of God (I Samuel 12:20-21) to continue serving God with their whole heart despite the sins they have committed. Samuel says, “I know you’ve done wrong but do NOT stop following after God.” Samuel says (and I’m paraphrasing), “If you stop following after God entirely you will only do the natural thing – you will replace your relationship with God with other pointless relationships. You’ll chase after them and find all along the way, that they don’t bring any added value to your life. If you let go of God, you will reach for other things that in the end, won’t even save you from your loneliness and sadness; they will never be able to give you what you really need.”

Look, we all have been there. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” For some people, ‘falling short’ has translated into giving their heart or their time and attention to all the wrong things (lovers, employers, careers, clubs/organizations). For others, ‘falling short’ has manifested itself into giving themselves over to chemical  addictions, obsessions, or mind and spirit altering perversions. The very nature of our humanity is defaulted to seek after SOMETHING; inevitably we WILL SERVE someone or something – it’s how we are made.

This inherent need for ‘more’ is guaranteed to be satisfied when we seek after God. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).” A few things I know about God: He won’t fail you, He won’t abandon you, He won’t leave you feeling empty, He won’t NOT reach back when you are reaching for Him. So for those of you who know you want more I leave you with this passage of scripture from John 10:10:

“The thief doesn’t come for any other reason but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; but I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

I Have ALWAYS Wanted More For You. Love, 

Jesus

 

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