Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Trust is the opposite of Judgment

Mankind is a slave to "judging."

It is our thing.  We are such a slave to it, that we don't even realize it controls us.  We are not trying to free ourselves from it - we dance and scream and parade about how we have a "right" to it.

"I get to decide" - I want to determine and decide what something is, how it should go, why it exists - and I'll do it with my senses.  My reason.  My sight.  My feelings.  I will decide.

This was Adam's sin - the first one - original sin - thinking "I get to decide."  Good and evil?  Let me tell you.  I will be the judge of what is good and evil.  And since that day, we have been slaves to "judging" - thinking it is ours to do.  But deciding has never been ours - and it never will be.  Every problem we have in the world is born out of our twisted need to be the judge.  Every conflict you have ever had with another human being has come about because one or both of you have set themselves in the "decision chair."  God alone decides.  Adam knew it - and his departure from it has been our undoing.

This problem has eternal consequences, however, because we try to treat God this way.  We try to judge Him - with our human senses.  The foolishness of this should be apparent to us immediately - but in our "need to be the judge" we miss it.

How can you use your created senses - your reason, your sight, your feelings - to judge the Creator of those senses?
How can you order the One who ordered everything?
How can you hold God accountable when He holds all things in their place?
How have we managed (in our own minds) to put ourselves in a position where we are above God?

Things are not ordered this way.  You can't judge God - all you can do is trust Him.  And this is precisely what Adam lost when He reached for "judging."  He lost trust.

True trust in God is what mankind lost.  It is the thing Christ has come to bring back.  Because we need it to live.  There is no life in "judging."  Only punishment and death.  There is no life unless you are receiving it from the One who gives it and sustains it.  And you only receive something when you trust.  Trusting is receiving.

Let me say what you desperately need to hear:

Open your ears and heart, and hear what He promises.
He is not going away.
He doesn't want to run.
He is standing right in front of you - as near as He can be - and He is offering His whole fullness to you - and calling you to trust Him.

Think of what He says: "I've come for you.  I'm here for you.  I'll never leave you.  All those things you are afraid of - I have faced them.  I faced them for you - and I promise you, that in Me - I will get you through.  Stop judging and trust Me. 

When this Word of mercy and grace penetrates the heart and mind - it does so for freedom - and this freedom is not simply for you: it is freedom for those around you.

Judgment is done.  "It is finished," He declared from the cross.  And that means we are free from the slavery of "judging."  This freedom now comes out of our mouths for the sake of those around us.  No longer do we judge them - we free them, as we have been freed.

The Christian is set free so that they can speak freedom to all those they meet - leaving all the decisions and judgments to God (from whom they never departed).  But this freedom - the freedom God intended for us from the beginning - is restored by faith.  It is back baby! ...when we trust the Lord and take our hands off the fruit old Adam snatched.  When we relinquish "the need to judge" the peace, comfort, and joy of God find their place in our lives - and from our lives into the lives of those around us.

May God give you this faith - and through it release your hands from Adam's fruit, removing you from the judgment seat, and filling your mouths with promises of freedom to all those He surrounds you with.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

I'm unhappy because I'm undisciplined

You've heard it before: "I just want you to be happy."

It's the way we say "yes" to something we might not do ourselves.  We say "I just want you to be happy," even though everything we've learned tells us that this person we want to be happy is going to be very unhappy later when their poor decision meets up with all its consequences.  It's like we know they will be unhappy, but hope we are wrong.  We're not, and we probably shouldn't say it if we really want people to be happy.

Happy now - unhappy later.  High - Low.  It is drug culture.  Getting "high" on whatever latest "pill" promises us we will feel happy in the moment.  Buy something.  Sleep with someone.  Treat that unhappiness with a quick dose of Canadian consumer culture and sex.  Only to crash in a huge downer of unhappiness later when the high wears off.

The old anti-drug slogan still rings true.  "Friends don't let friends do drugs."  Whether those drugs are illegal drugs - or cultural substitutes meant to make you "happy" for a while - only to disappoint you later.  We could all do a better job at warning one another of that huge crash coming around the corner.  We are not unhappy because we don't have any good things.  We are unhappy because we are undisciplined with our good things.  And we try to change that unhappiness by chasing new things, and ignoring the old undisciplined things.


Discipline anyone? 


Run.  Deny.  Ignore.

Aren't these the reasons for unhappiness?  And yet, when you take an honest look, none of our attempts at happiness involve saying "No" to ourselves.  They are all bandaids - something to throw on overtop the pain.

"I want" so I'm unhappy.  I struggle to say "No" to myself.  I wrestle with the reality that my desires are not good for me - in fact, the Bible calls them sinful. 

What do we do with this mess?

Repent.  Turn away from these chasings, and turn to the Lord.  He put Himself into our unhappiness and died.  He made Himself the man of sorrows.  He joined us in our cause in order to make a new humanity by His death and resurrection. 

Guilt? Shame?  Fear?  He took it all.  He carried it.  Bore it up onto the cross and defeated it in His own body there for you. 

You are forgiven, so that you can pursue self-control.
He gives you His honour, so that you can pursue prudent choices.
You are loved by Him, so that you can weather the ups and downs of life without having to turn to "drugs", but instead turn to Him again and again and again - and whenever you have need.
The LORD is my shepherd;  I shall not want.

I don't "just" want you to be happy.  You may not be happy much here on earth.  I want you to know Christ - who is with you - and will never leave you - until that Day when you see His eternal Paradise and learn what happiness really is.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Come on Mom, can't I play more video games?

As a young boy and teenager, it used to bug me when my mom would shut down the screen time.  "Turn it off," she would say.  Always the negotiator I would always ask, "Why can't I play a little longer?"

"You've been playing for hours already.  No more.  It's a waste of time."  Momma knows.

It is incredible how easily parents and society are able to recognize that overplaying video games is a waste of time.  Go out and make something of yourself.  Stop investing your time and energy in something that is temporary - that will be turned off and lost - that is merely a distraction/abstraction from reality.

Our heavenly Father says the same thing - except the "video games" are all those worldly things we invest in that mean nothing for our eternal reality.  On the Day we come into His heavenly mansion, every manner of worldly living - of passing glitz and glory - will be turned off and lost.  God hits the power button on this world, just as surely as my mom hit the power button on the TV screen.  Why are we distracted by these things?  Why are we so slow to recognize they are a waste of time?

We are like spiritual teenagers - eyes glued to the things of this world - even though we know its dying and in the end - only God's Word will remain.  Why can't we devote time to studying the only thing that will endure?  Why do we struggle to give time to our congregation and its duties here on earth, when these will be the things that won't be "turned off" on the Last Day?  It's time to turn away from these things - and turn back to God.  He calls us - as surely as my mom called me - He calls us by name, and bids us come and look into eternal things, heavenly things, His things.

The Father sent His Son to do His holy will.  To take care of our eternal welfare.  In His death and resurrection, we are safe - AND we are given a chance to "get off the couch" of worldliness and invest our time and energy in what will endure.  You are forgiven.  God has got your eyes off the "screen" of distracted discipling - NOW - go out and make disciples - study God's Word - be ready with an answer when you get asked - support and serve those in your congregation in their efforts to do the same - and know the Lord Himself will drive you and strengthen you and have your back along the way.

Monday, 8 May 2017

How clean should I be? A story about a fridge

It's spring.  You may have taken to cleaning out some of the spots you've been willing to overlook for the winter months - like the fridge.

You know how it works.  You don't clean your fridge everyday.  You let it build up until it reaches that "unoverlookable" point.  You are content to have a little grime here or there, because the amount of effort it requires to disassemble everything (especially those parts where the _____ spilled) is way too high for the benefit.

In many ways, we treat our souls the same way.  We let things build up.  We are content to have a little grime, as long as it isn't spilling out for other people to see (because then we would have to deal with it).  No, there is far too much effort needed to keep our souls clean - in fact, it is impossible.

I like the picture of "factory clean" - you know, the way the fridge looks when it arrives from the factory.  Before you've used it.  It is amazing how the moment we use something it will never be truly clean again.  No matter how hard you try, you can never get the fridge factory clean.  There is bound to some amount of spot, smear or grim that you have to overlook. 

The same is true of our souls.  We can't get them "factory clean."  There is no more "brandnewness" left.  And we know this is a problem.  We might overlook the crud, but we all know God doesn't.

God is not about appearances.  "Factory clean" is the only acceptable clean in His holy heaven.  Only perfectly clean fridges will find a place there.  So what are we to do?  Nothing.  There is nothing we can do.

But He can.  And He has.  Jesus is factory clean.  He is the brand new humanity.  Spotless, smearless, grimeless.  All He has ever done is love and forgive and "mercify" every around Him, and trust and obey His Father above.  He is God's renewal - God's way of making you factory clean.  Jesus was sent down here - in order to gift us with His newness - in order to pave a factory clean way back to holy heaven, for an otherwise dirty group of people.  He is the Only Way, and He gives your soul "brandnewness" in Him - for free.

May you rest from your vigorous cleaning in the One who is your newness - even Christ, God's own cleanness made your own.