Perspective

I think there are many times in life where we gain perspective. In actuality, the definition of perspective is seeing things from a different view, but because of that, having a better grasp of the place we are in.

 

Let’s face it, our world revolves around us, our worlds are limited and very small, if it doesn’t happen to me or close to me, I really don’t care much about it.

 

A few things have given me perspective over the past couple of weeks, one was a trip overseas to Cambodia. I saw a culture of people who were hurting, and had much less material things than we do. But I experienced a joy and peace from those people that we in American culture don’t tend to see very often.

 

Another was having a conversation with a little boy. I asked this little guy questions about baseball and life, listened to my wife ask him questions about how long he has been playing and what he liked best about it and what position he played. Then we asked how old he was, and when his birthday was. The shock of that question, was that he was only 3 weeks older than our son Ethan. There are those moments in your life as a parent of a special needs/developmentally delayed/ autistic/ down syndrome or whatever else your blank is, that sneak up on you and bring a grief that you forgot was inside of you. Whether it’s due to the busyness of your schedule, acceptance of your position or any other reason, you forget that that’s there…a silent pain, lingering around, waiting for a trigger to catch you by surprise.

 

I hear all the time that God gives special parents to special people and that God wont give you more than you can handle, and I agree with all that, but sometimes those statements, said in ignorance in the midst of pain can cause a parent to resent the person saying them.

 

I also know that there is a penalty for sin, and that is death, within death are included all types of situations and conditions that lead to death. The bottom line is that when you look at your situation by itself, it seems larger than life, but when you gain perspective on your situation, that it is one of many trials in our life, that are brought about, so that through it, we may bring glory to God, it starts to change things. Not immediately do things change…but gradually…over a period of time, the healing starts to come to the pains that you have, and the wounds become less and less painful, because God is a god of healing. But He is also a God that wants ever tree, person, cloud, animal and dust particle to speak to the glory of his coming Kingdom. And when that is the lens you view life through, THAT will give you a real perspective on everything in your life.

 

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Satisfied with scraps

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4 ESV)

When I look at the modern church today in light of scripture, it is sometimes downright nauseating. We have created a system today that one of my good friends calls churchianity, that seems to have taken the place of what the bible leads us to.

Our problem, mine included, is that we look at our lives, culture, the church we are a part of, and interpret scripture in light of the circumstances that surround us. The downfall to that way of living life and basing our theology is that it’s a bit like looking through a foggy lens, we can only see a certain view because it’s limited and a bit distorted.

When I read this scripture and contrast it with how many churches today are advertising their “good deeds” everywhere you look in the name of inspiring others, how does that mesh with what Jesus tells us? By advertising our good deeds, are we settling for scraps? Are we settling for our reward here as a pat on the back and being known as a great social organization instead of being humble in our good deeds and letting God see to our reward. It seems clear to me, but very unpopular in this Facebook, Instagram, how many followers can I get world, that Jesus tells us to be careful in our helping others that we don’t begin to seek the accolades of those around us.

Wounding Words

Have you ever had those words or phrases, that no matter who says them, no matter how politely or with how much passion is behind them, they still sting.

Chances are if you’ve ever experienced that, those words are attached to some kind of wound from the past. The pain associated with it, like a physical wound, is an indicator that the wound is not fully healed.

Like a burn that is more sensitive to heat until it’s fully healed, many people live their lives, content to just stay away from the heat so to speak, or if they can, they’ll just endure the pain and deal with it. We never fully address our hurts, why, because addressing it may hurt! And at least the mild pain we feel every now and then is familiar. We’re scared of what the pain might feel like if we dig into the wound, so we just don’t.

There are many wounds in my personal life and church history that still hurt, and when someone says something, I tend to get upset with that person, not realizing that it doesn’t sting because I don’t like that person or they are being a jerk, but that I have a wound in me that’s not fully healed.
When I see “Christians” especially worship leaders, being narcissistic and promoting themselves, I get disgusted, and the God always brings it around to me, what is it about what’s said that affects a wound?
When I hear phrases like “life giving”, my wounds draw back and I realize that the abuses of that phrase, which have seemingly meant, fake and lacking authenticity for the sake of numbers, and it stings to me, three again is another wound I need to address.

Whatever it is for me, or for you, God says that he will give us beauty for ashes, and a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61) That scripture encourages me to seek healing for my wounds, and let Him bring the medicine that’s needed to heal me.

Inviting or Receiving

Have you ever thought about the phrase “Inviting Jesus into our hearts” ?

All my life I’ve heard that to be saved we have to invite Jesus into our heart, I’ve said it many times, offered many invitations to invite Christ into your life to be your savior and be saved.

Through study of the bible and reading many commentaries and other books, I found something…or I guess I could say, I didn’t find something.

Nowhere in the bible do I see salvation measured by inviting Christ into anywhere. Multiple times I see people receiving His invitation. The disciples get an invitation to follow him, Zaccheus got invited to feed Jesus at his house, and Jesus invites us all to receive His invitation to eternal and abundant life.

The thing that we often turn a blind eye to is the obedience part that comes with following Him, with receiving that invitation. When we invite someone into our home, we are in charge of where they sit, what the eat, how hot or cold it is in the house, etc. and when we invite Christ into our lives, it gives us the same comfortability, that we are in charge, and He is our guest.

On the other hand, when we are invited to someone else’s house, we receive that invitation, and things are out of our control, we are treated with respect, but we are also expected to respect the rules of the house. Sometimes as a guest we are even surprised with the food and hospitality we receive, that we didn’t pay for. When we receive Christ’s invitation to follow Him, we are putting our lives, well being, and obedience in His hands, and even though we may have to be out of our element in some of the things He may ask us to do, the rewards and provision we will receive will be not only surprising, but free!

Spiritual Arrogance

Reading through 2 Corinthians, reminds me of the natural bearing that we get in our lives as Christians to become spiritually arrogant. The more we grow in our walk as Christians, the more we seem to become prideful and well up with a sense of having gone to a new level in Christ, and it’s good, to continually seek new levels of depth in Him, what’s not good is when we use the ruler we have to measure ourselves and we put it on others.

When Moses encountered the presence of God, he came down from the mountain and had to veil his face because the glory was showing so brightly that people were staring at him. So he put a veil over his face as to not attract attention to what God had done in his life. Here’s where we do just the opposite, we like to grow in our knowledge of Christ, get puffed up on biblical knowledge and maybe even encounter God and see some real change happen, so we think we have to put on a veil because people know that we’ve encountered God and see a difference, but no one has seen a real change in us. We seem more grumpy and unloving than many non Christians, we come across more judgmental than Fox News….and I like Fox News, but we have knowledge of change but no application, and we still try to put this veil in between us and others that God didn’t tell us anywhere in the bible to put there. So people who are in our lives all around us, look at us and wonder why we wear this veil. That guys no different from me…why does he do that. I know people much nicer than that Christian…why does he wear that veil. And we separate ourselves from the rest of the world, and we suddenly become ineffective for the cause of reaching the people around us.

As a pastor I run into many different opinions on how our church should do spiritual growth, what the messages should be about, what we should study in our small groups, what our church should and should not focus on, and everyone has their opinions. Opinions are good if God speaks through them, but so often things that people want or statements that they use are veils that they want to put up out of spiritual arrogance.

Here are some common statements I hear and what the real meaning behind them usually is:

“I want to go deep” – Translation : I really want to think more about what the bible says than do anything about it.

“I’m don’t feel like I’m getting fed” – Two translations – I don’t know how to feed myself apart from Sunday mornings – or – I’m not hungry enough to eat what’s being offed at your church.

“I’m just not getting anything out of the service”- My main concern if I’m going to attend here is ME

These are just a few, and here’s how I think all of these personally have affect in my life…I get deeper in my personal study and prayer time than I have ever been able to get in any church, whether its teaching, or super spirituality, if you’re not getting it in your prayer closet, you won’t be satisfied at church either. If I’m hungry, I will eat what’s on the table…when there have been times I haven’t got anything out of the teaching…it’s not the teacher that wasn’t good…I just wasn’t hungry enough. And if I care more about the church service than I do my service to the church, I have reached the point of spiritual elitism, and I might as well just start running around with a holier than thou Jesus veil on my face.

Kerplunk

Have you ever played Kerplunk

It;s a game where you fill a tube up with marbles, and there are a bunch of sticks holding the marbles up. The object of the game is to pull sticks out strategically so that the marbles dont drop when you pull your stick out.

As i was thinking about that game this past week, i began to think of how we live our lives so often, we dance around with danger or sin in our lives, hoping that the marbles don’t drop and it doesn’t make a mess.

We pull sticks out, by lashing out in anger, dabbling in pornography, crossing boundaries with members of the opposite sex, getting drunk, doing drugs, or even less deliberate things like getting to wrapped up in emotion and life on facebook, or instagram and letting that affect our self worth.

We do these things with a bit of anxiety in our gut, but when we pull out the stick, and see that the marbles are still there, and all is ok, we completely ignore the damage that is being done, the anxiety has gone away, but the weakening of our image, marriage or self control has already happened.

The reason we keep seeking these things is usually twofold, we’re struggling with knowing who we are in Christ, we’re trying to dull the pain of something in our past, or both.

One way we can get healing in these areas in our lives is to invite the Holy Spirit to reveal us those incomplete or unhealed places in our lives, show them to us, and help us see how to go about healing them.

When he does, we will stop having to worry about the issues we cause, by pulling sticks out of our foundation, and we will be much less likely to have to clean up a mess of marbles, because of our own doing.

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