Thursday, January 7, 2010

The plank in your own eye...

It's funny how sometimes we think everything is going great - we're growing, changing, developing our faith - when in reality we're about to get a simple reminder of how broken and imperfect we really are.

In my own life recently, I've been doing fine, good actually. Until something came out of nowhere in the depths of my being: I'm too quick to judge. Over the past few years I've grown much in my opinion and attitude toward the broken in this world. I've adapted the mantra that the past is the past, and whatever happened then cannot and should not affect how we judge people's lives today. But the reality of the matter is that I myself have let my past hinder and derail my hopes for the future. I've let the things that I cannot change prevent me from taking the risks of new beginnings. And I'm at a crossroads... what do I do to push myself beyond what's happened, and forward to God's glorious plan for my life?


However, as I surrender, I find that my judgment goes beyond my own shortcomings to the mistakes of others. Instead of loving someone, supporting them through a crisis with true, pure, unbiased care, I replay their mistakes, their shortcomings, their failures over and over in my own mind. Literally telling myself, "well, they've done this or that, so I'm one up from them." or "how will I ever be able to understand this person with so much baggage?" (bring in Matthew 7:2-4 here). And I'm reminded that it's not my place to judge, it's not my place to choose who God gets to love, it's not my place to live in this "high and mighty" mentality thinking myself better than others. It's His choice, His grace, His mercy that restores the broken, heals the hurting, and loves the lonely. As it says in Romans 14:10, "You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat."

And so often, as Christians, we think that just because others can't physically see the mistakes we've made (unlike unwed mothers - for example), we are somehow better than them. Speaking to my friend Callie last night made me realize that just because my sins aren't open or public for everyone to see, doesn't mean that I'm not somehow harboring something detrimental to my overall wellbeing. And I'm amazed at the people who's reputations have been forever burned because of choices and mistakes they've made. Those that don't hide the choices they've made, the sins they've committed. But they bring them into the open, that they may be healed, but that they may also be used for God's Kingdom as a story of His redemption and care. They are truly some of the most genuine, open, life changing people we will ever have the chance to meet. Let's not let our judgment prevent us from friendship and relationship with those who've been in the deepest pits of life, who've faced the horrors of pain, addiction, and abuse. Instead, let's come along side them, encouraging and learning everything we can from their own experiences and the path they've come down to repentance and the forgiveness of Christ.

So I end with this... what are your secret sins? What are the things hidden so deep that it would be paralyzing if they were revealed? What is it that's hidden under lock and key? And what needs to be done so that life may be lived free from the angst of the past? What do we need to bring to the open so that we may be healed and grow deeper in our faith?

Freedom comes with revealing. And until each and every one of the deepest sins is approached, presented, revealed, and forgiven, we cannot be fully used by God to touch those around us.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Two Thousand Ten

2010. Another decade of this world, gone. A new one, just beginning. Full of possibilities, choices, failures, blessings, and everything in between – we start another year. Life seems to fly by, especially in modern society, where productivity abounds, while relationships and families fall. The important “things” in life can be merely swept away in a blink of an eye. As our world continues to refuse to defend the important and succumbs to the pressure of the gods of this modern society(fame, sex, drugs, money, etc).

As we enter into a new decade, my hope and prayer is that the relationship and the love of others would be evident moreso than what the Jones’ have that I don’t. Rather than focusing on the “stuff” of life that will surely disappoint, finding the true meaning of life on this earth. Seeking to glorify The One and Only, instead of satisfying our own desires. That Ps. 37:4 would become a reality in life, rather than the fleshly desires that often rule and reign over us. No, that we would give full access of ourselves to God that He may pour out his desires on our souls, and that we would follow him faithfully in any direction or path He leads us.

As I’ve begun pondering goals and direction for the next year of life, I’m reminded of James 4:14, “How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” The reminder that our lives are short, brings up a multitude of questions like: What am I being called to do? What does God want me to do while I'm here? What are the specific gifts and talents that I have that can help me attain my goals/desires?

As I read a dear friend of mine's blog the other day about "what do you want?", I decided to do a little thinking/praying about what it is that I truly desire my life to look like now, and in the future. I could sit here and list all the things I've ever wanted, like A White Convertible Mustang with Bright Pink Racing Stripes, or the 6000 square foot dream house with a Mother in Law apartment and plenty of space for cooking, entertaining, and being a "home away from home" for those in need, or My debt being gone - erased, never to be thought of again. But the reality is, the world we live in, the lives of those around us are more materially based than ever before. I often look at my own dissatisfaction with the incredible BLESSINGS that are in my life and think, "what an ungrateful jerk I am!". The truth is, if we're lucky enough to have a roof over our heads, food to eat, and clothes to wear, we're richer than 85% of the world. That's HUGE!

As we face 2010 I've wondered: Why is it that we Americans deal with this intrinsic need to one up the Jones'? Why are we bombarded by stuff only to find that the more we get the more we "need" or "want". The unquenchable thirst for more has plagued the lives of this nation for decades, and the American Dream is nothing more than an exhausted fantasy never to be truly fulfilled.

As I sit in a world deteriorating by urges, rather than necessity, I find that the true things I want aren't what I "want" at all. They're simply what I desire - things forever etched on my soul. Simple acts and steps that have been spoken to my heart in the still small, steady Voice:

1. I desire to preach/teach the gospel "fearlessly as I should..." (Eph. 6). Not just sitting back and allowing the "big wigs" to influence our world. No, I want to be a voice and a vessel of Christ in the lives of those I come into contact with. Whether it's a person on the street corner or one of my beloved relatives. If I'm the only Jesus they ever see, I want to be the best example of Him possible, and in every circumstance/situation.

2. I long to write. There's not a day that goes by that my desire and need to write doesn't take over my thoughts. Short stories, life stories, nonfictional examples of grace, forgiveness, trust, pain, and inevitable eternal Joy.

3. I desire to have an "open door" policy anywhere and everywhere I go. If someone needs something, I want to fulfill it to the best of my ability.

4. I long for love, by the best earthly example possible. I love for relationship with another that is a an example of the love Christ has for His Church and that people would see our relationship as different, as a model.

5. I desire to leave a legacy for generations to come of overcoming obstacles by the grace and joy of the Lord.

6. I desire adventure, travel, change, risk, and everything that comes with it. Making memories along the way, rather than filling boxes with the "trinkets" where moth and rust destroy.

7. I want my ministry to be my job and my job to be my ministry.

8. I desire community - true community where we lean on one another, encouraging, challenging, building, and loving each other as Christ guides our lives. Lifelong friendships of support.

This is just the beginning of the life long list of desires, hopes, and dreams that I have. Of course I have my goals for the year and for life, but the above listed items are more than just goals - they're cravings of the soul. Desires that only He can fulfill in my heart.

"Don't Doubt in the Darkness what God Promised in the Light." - Pastor David Goode

What are your desires? What are the cravings of your soul? What needs to be done to achieve them? And where are you going to begin?

Here's to a fantastic 2010!