Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Men & Women.

I feel like it's all too easy to idealize or demonize a person from the opposite sex. Much of the time I have found myself having false expectations of what a relationship with a woman would look like, viewing it as the goal, the end, the finish line.

But it isn't. I'm finding that dating, being engaged to, or marrying someone is a very real undertaking. It isn't perfection, it isn't fantasy, it isn't a way for us to get all of our needs met. It's something that causes us to die to ourselves on a daily basis, to show true, sacrificial love to the other person.

Men and women both have very real purposes and unique things they bring to the table. For example men are most actualized when creating and initiating something. It's who we are, we thrive on doing and giving life to something. Women are uniquely created with a profound ability to be and to relate. They were made with a high level of emotional skills and the capacity to be responsive.

Out of our brokenness we will often find ourselves getting these roles mixed up, and it can become hard for a healthy male/female relationship to take place. Our wounds may also cause us to avoid male /female relationships altogether.

God himself possesses both of these masculine and feminine qualities as shown in his ability to initiate truth and action in our lives as well as provide a place of comfort and rest.

The point is that we were created to be in right relationship with God and members of the opposite sex.

Rather than idealize or demonize male/female relationships, we should earnestly seek wholeness in Christ and in our unique gender roles as masculine & feminine.

You hear guys say to each other all the time as advice for getting a woman to like them; "Just have confidence bro." That "confidence" can serve as a mask for the fear and insecurities within. Jesus doesn't want us to cover over or avoid our brokenness, rather he wants us to be fully confident in him and who he has made us to be.

As men we should treasure the heart of women and fully accept in grace and love their humanity.

I'm done placing unrealistic ideas on women and expecting them to be the ones who fully heal the broken places in my heart and who affirm my masculinity.

I want to become a whole person in Christ so that on the day I am blessed with a companion, I can begin the journey of caring for the real human heart that has been entrusted to me.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What my heart knows about God

Recently I was charged with the task of sitting down and writing what I know about God. However, this is not a "know" as in mere "knowledge". This was meant to be from the heart, from a place of intimacy with Jesus. You can have knowledge about someone and no intimacy, but as you allow intimacy to take place, knowledge comes naturally.

So here, in a raw way, is what my heart KNOWS about the Father:

I know that God loves me more than I could ever love myself or be loved by anyone else.

I know that his is a perfect love. It's perfect, unfailing love because he is faithful and committed to us and not going anywhere. He 100 percent cares about our hearts. He 100 percent cares about my heart.

 If I had it my way I would be a person who is lazy, arrogant, selfish, prideful, insecure, depressed, anxious, and fearful (among other things). But God knows what I need and he knows how to get it to me.

I'm not just talking about physical provision (although he does that as well), I'm referring to what I need to become "complete, lacking nothing" as the apostle Paul states. He continues to raise the bar in my life for what it means to look like him and to follow him.

That is ultimately how I know that his is a perfect love and more spectacular than what I could ever give to myself. He does not hold back from putting me in uncomfortable places, speaking truth into my life, and providing a place of rest. Supernaturally in his grace he portions all of that out in ways that I can receive and act on it. His timing is wonderful. 

He is more than just a God who goes around cleaning up our messes. He is proactively teaching us and putting us in spaces where the Holy Spirit can work in and through us for reasons that we may never understand. He is committed to redeeming our past, working in/through us in the present, and guiding us into maturity for the sake of our future.

I know that God is love, and that statement has taken on a whole new meaning as we have walked together through victory and struggle. I know that He is Lord, and that I want him guiding the way, and not simply sitting next to me as I dictate where we go.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Rejected Friend part 2

I have recently had to come to terms with some pretty major weaknesses I possess, and as a result make some very humbling decisions. The tendency here is to buy into the lies that I'm only as good as what I have or the things I do. Even worse, I might be tempted to buy into the lie that I'm only worth comparing to others and hold no value of my own.

It's easy to get caught up in our own world isn't it?

We let things like fear, anxiety, and our need for control shape our daily actions. If left unchecked, over time the most gentle spirit can turn into a hardened soul.

I recently had an interaction with a notorious member of our community here in Canton. This person and their past has always been such a mystery to me. I have watched them literally lie, cheat, and steal just to make it through the day. Social pleasantries? Forget about it. They will come straight up to you and demand you give to their personal cause.

I don't know too much about them (mostly because it's hard to have a real conversation), but have had enough interactions to know that most of their thoughts center around their own existence, and that I have often acted in the same manner.

Who of us hasn't believed the world to revolve solely around us at some point?

Whether it's a complete focus on how much we hate ourselves, or being incredibly prideful, when the focus is completely on us it throws our lives out of balance and acts in direction opposition to our ability to love others in a sacrificial way.

What's needed is a perspective shift.

"How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you,  and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears."

- 2 Samuel 7:22

"I know that you can do all things (Lord); no purpose of yours can be thwarted."

- Job 42:2

The first statement is part of a prayer from King David in the book of 2 Samuel. By that point in his life, David had undergone a lot of tragedy and strife, yet still found it in his being to worship the Lord in genuine awe of who He is.

The second statement is from Job, right after he had just lost everything. I mean everything. Maybe more than you or I will ever lose.

These 2 experienced huge personal hardship in their lifetimes. They had every reason to renounce God, focus on themselves, and let their hearts fill with bitterness. They chose to put their personal stuff aside and acknowledge the bigness and goodness of God.

We have that choice today. We have that choice to acknowledge that we are small, yet loved by a big God who created the universe. What God did by sending his son Jesus in human likeness to die for us is huge when you consider how fleeting our existence is. We matter to God.

I love my friend that I described earlier. Many in Canton have written him off, shunned him from their establishments and lives. "There's no hope for him" people say.

I say that with God all things are possible. I say that behind his misdeeds is a human being who has been ultra wounded and taught that he is worthless. Can you blame him for focusing on himself?

We have the opportunity in this lifetime to realize how big God is, realize how much he loves us, and take part in a story much larger than ourselves. We don't have to let our hearts harden, and we don't have to give up on those who have.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Rest is History

I saw your best friend tonight
she said you're doin fine
I replied I used to know you
and she told me of the time

She told me how you met your love
as if it were divine
all the while never knowing
you used to be mine

I'd hoped things would turn out ok
I wanted you happy
She said your eyes met that day
the rest is history

Oh you may forget what we once had
that's fine, because we're through
what hurts is your blank memory
when I can't forget you

I remember when I held you tight
thanked the stars for what we had
you replied I'm glad to know you
and you told me of the time

You told me you had met your love
as if it were divine
In fact you said that love was me
and that day you were mine

I'd hoped we would turn out ok
I would always be happy
you dumped me in a sad display
and now I'm history

Oh you may forget what we once had
that's fine, because we're through
what hurts is your blank memory
when I can't forget you

The last verse will be much like us
it will be short and sweet
because I cant take another friend
who never knew our history.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Following Requires Movement

"Following requires movement" - Kyle Idleman

Following requires movement. If you are wondering why that's the 3rd time you are reading that phrase, it's because it holds such a great deal of wisdom for our lives and our relationship with Jesus.

It captures God's desire for our lives. That we would follow him and take the terrifying next steps to move from belief to action, from feelings of hope to stepping out in faith, from being a fan of Jesus and taking the "broad road" that's leads to destruction to being a follower and entering through the "narrow gate."

Now, you have to understanding something about me. I have a great tendency to mentally grasp a concept, speak about it, cast vision for it, write about it (often in this blog), and after all that MAYBE I will take action on it.

I am a well spoken human being. I do not struggle to communicate in an eloquent fashion. I fully acknowledge that as a gift from God, a sign of his grace, and something that has taken a very long time with many mistakes to be worked out.

However, I GREATLY struggle with being a guy who puts action and weight behind his words. As I think about it, I don't believe that makes me too different from many people on this earth. It's very easy to have belief and words that are separate from action.

Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 16: 24-25:

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.'"

The call is clear: Follow me. Don't talk about following me, don't pretend like you follow me, but actually follow me.

Following Jesus requires movement. It requires both you and I making sure that our words and actions are one in the same and that, most importantly of all, they both flow out of a relationship with Jesus where we know Jesus and are fully known by him. (aka intimacy)

Before I wrote this post, I made sure that I actually took some hard steps in my life that I had been putting off. You better believe I felt empowered to take those steps because of the community of people I have willing to represent Jesus and speak both grace and truth.

You better believe I texted every one of those people after I took those steps today. THEN I wrote this blog.

I leave you with 2 questions:

What is the next step Jesus has been asking you to take with him?

Who is going to keep you accountable and take that step with you?

Remember. Following Jesus requires movement. Let's stop standing still.