It looks like life

Life

“It’s just the way I am…”  I’ve said it and heard it from others and every time, it drives me to immediately go to God and ask for a change.  I can’t hold onto the belief that there is anything in us that is unchangeable.  I’m not talking about genetically designed manners or even the proverbial “thorn in the flesh.”  But I am talking about character traits, the habits and inclinations in our personality that bring about our immediate reactions, our initiations, how we respond to entrenched situations, what we are attracted to and repulsed by.  If we accept that we are unable to change then I believe we have in essence deified ourselves as an unchanging god more powerful that the God who saved us and made us new by His grace.

If we are born again then why do we crawl back into the skin of the dead?  Why do we find solace in the smell of the decomposed?  We long for new mornings, new mercies, new friends, new scenery, new jobs, new shoes… but we hold fast to our old habits, old nature, old desires, old sin.  We give power to the reminiscent and glory to the good ole days.  New is only chic if it honors the old.

So, what does it look like to truly be born again?  To go back into the womb of God willingly, responding to the election of His call to not only redemption but to “newness of life (Romans 6:4).” To pray for and accept new desires (Psalm 37:4).  To allow the death of ourselves to have its victory so that reconciliation of the new creature will exist (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).  To “seek the things that are above, where Christ is… (Colossians 3:1).”   To spend time every day choosing behaviors just as you spend time choosing your clothes—putting on “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you… And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony…and be thankful (Colossians 3:12-15).”

So, what does it look like to truly be born again?  It looks like life.


Darkness

“…a darkness to be felt.”  Exodus 10:21

I can feel the darkness on some days.  It bears down on my soul and depresses my spirit.  My eyes see no shadows, and all becomes stagnant, still, and heavy.  I used to fear it, thinking it had power over me and that I would have to wait it out; wait for the lifting and for the familiar glow of hope.  But darkness is not dark to God (Psalm 139:12) nor is it always something He immediately extinguishes.

Darkness is of God.  It stills the reckless, quiets the clamor, and hastens the sinner to the Savior.  It brings the floor up to your knees and thrusts your hands to your face, catching every tear that burns with truth.  It is there that the prostrate child can openly confess to the One who said, “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3)

In those dark times, when the night seems endlessly felt, run faithfully forward lead only by the Spirit into the light of God’s revealing truth.  Confess your sins, all of them.   Ask for more awareness of what is in your heart, so that you will glean more truth from the Light of world.  The Light who separated out the darkness giving us endless days and fearless nights.

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5


The Embrace


“…a time to embrace…” Ecclesiastes 3:5

The heart is a deceitful and willful organ that only God fully understands.  He alone searches the depth of it and knows it completely.

Because of His great love for us, through grace He embraces our desperately sick hearts and heals them.  The embrace from within reveals our bruises, loosens our tensions, and will either soften our heart to the Maker or harden it—both are the will of God and both demonstrate His power at work in us.

I am blessed when I experience this healing as He removes my heart which becomes hard with frustration, pride, anger, or cynicism.  He throws it against the door of my closed my mind, making both into sand that is washed away by the blood of Christ that fills my new heart.  It is then that I can choose to trust and love as He reveals to me the new creature He is forming.

Through unveiled eyes I see inside my heart where Christ resides and is always molding me.  Embracing and kneading until I am pliable.  Then, with gentle but willful pressure makes me into whomever He pleases—creating in me a clean heart and a renewed spirit that resides in the presence of God, joyfully.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

This clean heart beats wildly not in restless abandon but in hopeful freedom that comes only from a life that is created in Christ for the good work of revealing His glory to the world.  I no longer squint to see people through my narrow lens but can see them through the Savior who brings all He chooses into the same body with the same heart.

I wonder if Jesus, through His passionate and grace-infused love for us sees us walking in harmony with the Spirit, all dancing to the beat of our own gift-filled drum making music in worship to the King.

The embrace.

 


To whom shall I go

Blog Pics

John 6: 25-69 ESV  “…so the Jews grumbled about him…vs. 41.”

Grumbling. Nothing more than cynical, sarcastic, willing skepticism. A refusal to  accept the status quo or to advance in faith. The Jews had allowed a mindset to become so entrenched that when Jesus inserted understanding they had no room for it and  it became to them a pinched nerve. The truth of the bread of life could have loosened their wrangled attitude freeing them to see their Savior and Provider.  But instead it became a fiery impulse of disbelief, which intensified their grumbling into a murderous hatred and they, along with those who could not handle the taste and texture of perfect food, locked their lips and turned away.

“…so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. vs.57”

I love that Jesus refused to placate their contemptuous questioning. Instead, He scandalously defined His divinity by revealing the depth of His requirement for saving us. We will consume Him as He becomes to us, consumable. Christ in us. It is a hard saying and only those who have been granted a place at the table of Lord, can understand it. That is why so many walk away when the flesh and blood of Jesus causes in them holy heartburn. But Jesus does not leave us in this awkward digestive state. He gives us living water through the Spirit who quiets our discomforts, brings truth to doubt, answers to questions, and new life through His nourishment. Born again.

I resonate with Peter when he answered Jesus’ question to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Yes Jesus, to whom shall I go.


The Highway

The Highway

I love that God lives in me—that life is not this lonely journey for pilgrims in search of holiness.  Believing, like others that to be holy one must spend countless hours on practicing the ways of holiness—the fruits of the Spirit.  But, I am convinced with each rounded corner that the holiness we strive for is in every step we take along this way.  In every movement forward there is the hope of a destination –even if that destination only a step away.  For us the hope is glory, and for us, our hope is realized in every step we take with Christ, who is in us.

Our highway is paved, marked, and guarded—though often an obstacle course, it is never impassable.  Highway life is all about the work of the present step.  It is not about running ahead or falling behind.  It is in the ownership of the present journey and your identity in Jesus alone.  In our walk we are being changed with every step, cleansed from the former and fastened to each other as we wander along never unhindered by the foolish, unbelieving, and vicious tormentors.  So have faith, and keep in step always moving forward fueled by the knowledge of “this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Parkway black and white

And a highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
    It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
    even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

 No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 35:8-10


Unity

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” Psalm 133

I wonder, will we ever attain the unity that God meant for us.  The psalmist must have experienced it because he talks of it in chapter 133.  My sister holds this passage close, as do I in the longing for relationships that are like the watering of the earth, or the pouring of anointing oil.

So perfect is the dew that accumulates as snow on the mountaintop and in the spring melts into pure water that flows down giving life to everything from plants to people.  And the oil—a blending of spice and aroma that consecrates the holy ones who make sacrifices on behalf of those they serve to the God they love for the people they love.

Unity in its purest form is a thirst quenching emulsion of life.  It feels as good as a cold drink after hard work or as in sync as a swimmer’s stoke against the water.  Serving and being served, outdoing one another in showing honor to each other, carrying one another’s burdens, giving before taking, loving all the time, forgiving all the time…laughing together, dancing together, breaking bread and sharing wine.  Opinions die and sides become circles with one center—God.  God, who in perfect unity is the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”


And to Jesus

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:6

Hunger and thirst dominate my life.  I am always seeking for satisfaction that I can’t find in any other source but Jesus, but I still seek.  The frustration I experience when I consume counterfeit contentment always builds to a point of implosion which leaves me feeling empty and ugly.

When I seek Jesus, He reminds me that what I crave is certainly not the momentary pleasure found in my appetite, but it is nothing less than what all children of God seek—satisfaction, fulfillment, contentment.  It is the whole of our longing and it is what drives us to visit other gods, to resist forgiveness for fear of revisited pain, and to elevate what should only lowered to the rightful place under the feet of Jesus who is over everything.

The blessing of being a hungry one is there is always room for the filling of the Spirit.  That is the other side of this for which I live and breathe.  I know when the pangs of hunger set in and thirst drives me to solitude it is then that I find myself on the resolute trek to the mountain where my strength is tested and my weakness revealed.   When I do it right, I am carried to the place where glory permeates the air and joy mixes with humanity to bring forth a peace that steals every ounce of grief, desperation, exhaustion, loathing and barrenness.  It is then that I love.  I love my God, Jesus whose blood speaks the perfect word of grace, freedom, and life.  And I love others, who with me enjoy the righteousness of Jesus and look forward to dancing with angels as we gather at the throne in festal celebration of the living God who saved us for life eternally in the new Jerusalem.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” Hebrews 12:22-24

Yes, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:6