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18.12.17

Living in the Light

Recently I was leading our congregation in the old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I’ve always been intrigued by a particular phrase in verse 1.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changes not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be

There is no shadow of turning with God.
Think about that for a minute.


A shadow is formed when an object blocks another light source.
This means there has to be an external light source in order for a shadow to be created.


There is no light source other than God. He is the source. There is no shadow when He turns.There is no other source of Light and Truth.He is constant, everlasting, and never-changing.Without Him, there is only darkness… not even a shadow!


Mind. Blown.

Consider James 1: 17

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
 
…or I John 1: 5-6

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.

So what does it mean then; to live, to worship, to embrace His light?

When we live and worship in the shadows, it may look a little something like this:

  • Living in fear, shame or regret
  • Faking it, in fear of being fully and honestly known
  • Denial of our own character flaws & how they impact others
  • Sweeping issues under the rug, hoping they’ll go away
  • Judging others, while ignoring our own secret stuff
  • Creating unnecessary drama or conflict


When we live and worship in the Light, it may look a little something like this:

  • Choosing to live in honesty, tempered with love & compassion
  • Embracing God’s grace and forgiveness, and extending that to others
  • Allowing for vulnerability & relationship, with ourselves and others
  • Realizing none of us are perfect, only humans saved by an incredible, merciful God
  • Exposing the lies we believe & replacing them with the light of Truth
  • Extending love, grace and peace to others


When we truly believe the concept that we are not the Source of Light and Truth- only God is-we can then understand that we are mere reflections of His light.


We don’t have to perform. We don’t have to be harsh with ourselves or others.
We simply reflect Him.

It sure takes the pressure off doesn’t it?

But here’s the other thing: it also takes effort on our part… the practicing the Truth part.

Uh oh.

It takes digging into His Word, meditating on His Truth and intentional abiding in Christ.

It takes a whole lot of honesty and humble introspection.

It takes letting the Spirit reveal the Truth to us and embracing it deep in our souls.

It takes practice to flesh it out in our real lives, not just in our heads.

So I ask you dear friend, what are you reflecting?

Love the hymn? Check out one of my favorite versions:


20.1.17

Character Over Comfort & Control

Control.

We all want it.
We don't always get it.
Sometimes we get it, then decide we don't want it.

Sigh.

In my life I've come to recognize control as an old familiar acquaintance, continually proving that my sense of having it is simply an illusion. Just when I think I have it, it's often yanked from my groping hands and there's not much I can do about it. 

When we feel like we are in control, we often feel pretty comfortable with it.

You may tell yourself you've earned it.
You may snatch it away from someone else and justify it.
You may hoard it, thinking no one can hurt you.
You may sacrifice pieces of your character to have it.
You may hide behind it.

When we feel out of control, we often feel frantic.

Why are we afraid to let go of it?
we feel weak
we feel uncomfortable
we feel ineffective
we feel frustrated
we feel exposed
we feel like we are floundering, grasping
we wonder what will happen and how we'll deal with it

Could it be that God is more interested in your character development than your comfort?  Could it be that growth requires being uncomfortable?


Image result for images of frustration

Often, Christians get this notion of the "abundant life" (found in John 10) to flesh out as the perfect life, being in control of all circumstances, a comfortable existence, all our dreams coming true, instant answers to prayer and 100% happiness.

All. Day. Every. Day.

The truth is this: life is not easy. It wasn't meant to be. This is not Heaven!

When we pray with control in mind, we treat God like a vending machine.
He is not a vending machine, a genie in a bottle or a drive through.

Consider these wise words...

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
-James 1:2-3 

“Take on an entirely new way of life — a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you”

-Ephesians 4:22-24  

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
-Romans 5: 1-5

We grow when we experience discomfort.  That means letting go of our need to control.

Want to grow in character?

Embrace the uncomfortable.
Let go of your need to control everything.
Let the pressure do it's work in you, so you will grow in wisdom and tenderness.

12.1.17

You Can't Pour From an Empty Cup

You can’t pour from an empty cup.
It always sounded good in my head, albeit a bit cliché.
Until my cup was crumbling. Then I understood.

We've all been there.
We've run ourselves ragged trying to fulfill the expectations of others.
Or ourselves.

How can we find a healthy balance?

Check out my new post on this very subject:


With God's help, we can do better.

New year, new start.

New year, new grace.

New year, new perspective.

New year, new creation in Christ.

Happy New Year Friends!