Posts tagged god
Posts tagged god
Happy Easter. Today’s message at church was “How is the resurrection relevant?”
I am always seeking the relevance in Gods word. It is so hard sometimes to see how to apply lessons and messages in today’s world.
There is one promise Jesus NEVER made, that life would be easy. There is one thing EVERYONE can agree with: the world is difficult. We have difficult decisions to make, we have really painful things to deal with, we have sorrow, heartache, etc. I think we’ve all heard sayings about decisions defining who we are, or how we deal with tough situations speaks volumes about us.
20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Romans 8:20-21
We are “subjected to frustrations” so we seek out answers. At church this morning the pastor categorized our solutions to problems into three categories: Religions, Secular and Christian
First I want to point out that there is a difference between “Religions” and “Christian”. Religion is an organized group of people who share a common believe system. Christian very simply translated means a follower of Christ. Plain and simple.
The religious solution to problems is to fight our “climb” our way out. As the pastor pointed out it usually reveals that problems are centered on our own selfishness or ignorance. The solution looks “steep” like a long path up a big mountain. There is a slight glimmer of hope. If you’re good enough and you “take up your cross” and bare your burden it will work out. This is true for a lot if not all major religions.
The secular solution to problems is that we are totally alone and that we should just learn to toughen up. Life is meaningless. Get a thick skin. No ones looking out for you, but you. Insert cliche quote here. It’s a pretty dismal outlook with very little hope involved.
The Christian solution: LIfe. Death. Resurrection. Jesus took on flesh and blood to walk this miserable life with the rest of us. He embraces and acknowledges that this world is frustrating and hard. He takes on ridicule (all of our sin) and dies an ugly, painful, tourtureous death on a cross. Many of his own followers at that time thought: okay, well good game Jesus. Thanks for validating how awful we already knew the world was. Then, to the astonishment of ALL he rose from the dead three days later. Proving to those who doubted him (including some of his closest followers) that there is more than this world. There is a HOPE in Jesus. For those who believe, you will never feel alone in your struggles. You are never alone in your moments of decision. You are never alone at your loneliest times.
The resurrection represents an unconditional love and hope. Not only is that relevant today, but it was relevant yesterday and it will be relevant tomorrow.
So today, whether you celebrate Easter for the candy or for the acknowledgment that Jesus rose from the dead… May you be blessed today with a sense of unconditional love and hope within you. May you feel that you are not alone in whatever struggles you are facing.
HE IS RISEN!
A lot of people struggle with faith and feel the need to prove God’s existence. It’s a common struggle. While the Bible does say to have a child like faith it also says that at some point we need to stop drinking milk and start eating solid food (1 Cor 3). While we are asked to have a child-like faith we are not asked to be children. I agree that some people take this way too literal. The child-like faith is important though. The Bible says, in so many words, that we will NEVER fully understand or comprehend God- it’s just not possible with the limited capabilities of our minds. This is where God asks us to have that child-like faith. We have to suspend our disbelief and accept that we will not have every answer. This is where the struggle begins. There are many different reactions at this point:
-Well if i’m never meant to understand it than why bother at all
-I’ll just sit here and never ask questions and just go through the motions like a good little “Christian”.
-I’m going to ask questions strive to learn as much as possible and accept that I may never get ALL the answers.
I think I fall in the last category most of the time. Here is the think about throwing your hands up and saying:
“You know what? I know nothing God. I have no idea who you are. Absolutely, no clue whatsoever. I think you love me, and I attempt to reciprocate by making the world a better place (hopefully)” It’s just not true…
God created us in his image. That doesn’t mean God walks around in skater shoes with a shaggy hair cut… it does mean that there is some representation of God in all of us (Genesis 26-31). And the interesting part about Genesis 26 is that God refers to himself in the plural. This is representative of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. So we are actually created with bits of all three. You can interpret that as you will, but you can’t say that you know NOTHING about God; to say that means you know NOTHING about yourself.
God doesn’t give us a magic formula to prove his existence because that’s not the point. Just because someone can solve an equation doesn’t mean anyone gives a crap about the answer. Maybe it’s a really important equation- maybe the answer will solve some big world problems.
God doesn’t want to be solved- He wants to LOVE and be LOVED. Love is hard to define, hard to show, hard to prove. Love requires a certain amoutn of faith too, but we do it everyday. We love our parents, our friends, our pets, our jobs (hopefully), our computers, our precious equations, etc….. We put trust and faith in THINGS and PEOPLE all the time. So why does it become an issue all of a sudden when we are asked to love and put faith in God?
Just food for thought.
(if you don’t know what the numbers mean… don’t worry about it….)
This past Sunday I went to Jubilee Christian Center for church because the River was meeting out of town and I couldn’t make it. Interestingly enough the topic at Jubilee went along great with the message from the River the week before! It was a continuation of the topic Faith.
To quickly recap my last blog- in order to find yourself you have to seek God. In order to seek God you have to have Faith in Jesus. It is not by good works alone that we are saved-it REQUIRES faith that Jesus came to absolve us of our sin, thus giving us the opportunity to know God (and ourselves). This weeks lesson explored the POWER of faith. And let me tell you… faith is some powerful stuff.
Jesus was known for testing his disciples. He challenged their faith daily (not much has changed now that we are his disciples). In Mark 11:20-26 Jesus and his diciples pass a fig tree that Jesus had previously “cursed” (Mark 11:11-14 which we will come back too later). For some reason the disciples are amazed that the fig tree actually withered and died at Jesus command. You’d think they’d realize by this time that Jesus means business… but anyways… He uses this as an opportunity to teach/challange them. He points to the mountain and tells them that any one of them could move that mountain into the ocean if he just believed in his heart and prayed. I know this is an extreme example- but God is EXTREME!
Back to Mark 11:11-14, Jesus goes to a temple for worship. He’s = seen this temple and it looked good (smoke coming from the offering alters- people hanging out- legit). He isn’t too jazzed with what he finds though, so he leaves. Later, he sees a fig tree from a distances and notices it’s got foliage (even though it’s out of season). He’s hungry so he goes to the tree- not a piece of fruit on it. Already a little miffed about the temple and now hungry with no fruit- Jesus says “may this tree NEVER bare fruit for anyone again!” Now circling back to the fig tree withered and dead. Does anyone smell a metaphor??? We can say we have faith, but we better have more than just leaves to show for it. Things may appear great on the outside (we go to church, we listen to “christian music”, we wear shirts with verses on them, we write blogs) but unless we actually put our faith the practice it’s useless. There are lots of ways to put our faith to use, prayer is a really good one. Start to pray- honestly and sincerily. Not just the standard bed time prayers for world peace but true honest prayers:
-Pray for people you know
-Pray for the people that make you angry- that you need to forgive
-Pray for things to happen (but have confidence and BELIEVE they can happen or they wont).
The bottom line is: TAKE ACTION. Don’t just sit back and let things happen. God has given us this ability to make things happen through our faith. Ask and it can be done!
I do believe in the power of prayer and having faith that God can/will get things done for you. I recently had a friend whose family member was going through some medical things (yea i’m being vague on purpose sorry). They asked for prayer- and pray I did. I prayed soooo hard for this person, and I truly, honestly, 100% had confidence that God would heal them. There was no doubt in my mind that by asking with an honest heart and having faith, that God would come through. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one praying this way for this person either. Sure enough- God was good and this person had clear test results! PRAISE GOD!
This lesson really got me thinking about people in my life that could really use faith like this. To know that you can’t just sit back and say: “Well if this is God’s plan then I’ll just let it happen”. Yea, God has a plan for us but he gave us free will so we could CHOOSE to do something with it. We cannot get stuck in the mind set of “why don’t YOU fix it God” because he empowers us by faith to take action and get things done!
:) I get passionate about faith.
I’m feeling very inspired after attending service at The River Church this morning.
Todays message was “Grace and Faith”.
The pastor began by asking a general question to everyone: “Who are you?” This is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately. Who am I? What am I passionate about? What defines ME? The pastor went on to the his next question: “How can you truly know someone else if you don’t know your self?” Good question….
Now he’s got my attention.
We try to find or create ourselves in our work, our hobbies, our friendships, our THINGS. We go to school for degrees or we work at jobs so we can say “this is what I do”, “this is who I am”. Does a piece of paper or a title really define who you are? I have an advertising degree. I’m a manager at Restoration Hardware. But neither of those things defines me. It has to go deeper.
As odd as it sounds- our identities are found in someone else. If you believe like I do that God created us, wouldn’t it make sense that our identities are found in Him.
To find ourselves we have to have faith in God. There is a really key word in the verses above: FAITH
I’m going to deviate a little bit to explain faith vs. works in regards to a relationship with God. It’s a common misconception that in order to be a “good Christian” you have to follow a rigid set of rules to please God and get into Heaven. There are many religions today that still force people into following intense rules and regulations. And back in the day (before Jesus), God did give a lot of rules for His people to follow (i.e. the 10 Commandments). But God saw that his people were FAILING miserably at keeping his rules. (Galatians 3:1-4). NO ONE could/can work hard enough to earn God’s love. Seeing this, God manifested Himself in human form (see pervious blog Three in One) and came to earth to save us from ourselves. Jesus lived and breathed and loved. He came, not to promote religion but to spread love. He lead a sinless life- the only person who could ever follow all the rules. And then he was crucified. For us. From that point on the rules were out the window.
WE DON’T HAVE TO LIVE BY THE RULES.
We have to put our FAITH in Jesus that he was the son of God sent to this world to redeem us. That FAITH is the only thing that keeps us right with God. You can work as hard as you want to follow rules but you will fail, over and over and over again. The only thing that will never fail is putting your faith in Jesus. Boom! Saved! Pretty easy huh? Not. The strength of my faith waivers. I question God from time to time. Challenge him when I don’t like what he’s put in my life, but at the end of the day I still have faith. It can be hard but the rewards are great!
Just because you are saved by faith and not works- doesn’t mean you should go around being a jerk or doing really morally questionable things. Having faith requires some effort. You can’t have faith in something you know nothing about. So there maybe some Bible reading or church or prayer or SOMETHING that keeps your faith intact. And the more you dig-in the more you want to be a “better person”. It all goes hand in hand. (Galatians 2:20).
So back to finding ourselves.
We know now that in order to find out who we are, we need to find God. To find God we have to FAITH in Jesus. That will open us up to receiving Gods grace and love in our lives. So we go to Him with open hearts ready to be loved and He will reveal his plans for us (Psalm 51: 16-17). He will show you who we are.
Other Bible Verses:
**I’ve waited to post this. It’s been a few days since I wrote it. I added a little too it but overall its my first reactions to my break up.**
How fitting that my first post was about lamenting. God has a very mean sense of humor sometimes. Only two days ago I sat through an inspiring message about dealing with sorrow. And now God is giving me the perfect opportunity to test this message.
We are approaching the 48 hour mark.
The first 24-36 hours were filled with lamenting. I have poured my heart out to God, asking (begging) him to take this hurt away. He has very gently responded by telling me to feel it out. Experience the pain, feel the sadness. Embrace the heaviness and ache in my heart.
LET IT OUT.
Good. Now share it. Let others into your pain, allow them to support you through it. I have some great friends that have let me cry, vent, be angry, but most importantly just be sad. Hand holding and hugs are not my style of coping. I just need people to listen to me- and that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Hours 36-48, stepping back and assessing. Now that I’ve nearly exhausted my emotions and tears I can step back and look at the situation with a bit of detachment. I’m sure there will be more tears and emotion but the worst is hopefully behind me. There are a lot of people involved in any break up. In this case there’s Me and Joey. Our families. Our friends. Our co-workers. When things fall apart you learn where peoples loyalties lie. And it’s an opportunity to see who will be there to support you. This has been particularly hard in this first few days because I’ve felt disappointed by people I thought I was close too. However, I have been so surprised by people I never expected to hear from. It’s genuinely appreciated.
The support doesn’t end here though. I need people…friends… more than ever. I don’t want to push anyone away that wants to support me, but I also expect that some friendships will be altered beyond repair. I am a strong person and this has weakened me, but I’ll bounce back eventually.
One of the hardest parts of this break up has been telling my family. Being away from my family- I feel like they take comfort in knowing I have someone to look after me; take care of me and just be there for me since they can’t be. I wonder if this break up adds stress to their lives- worrying about me and how I will cope. But as my sister so wisely put it- I cant worry about mom and dad right now- I have to focus on me and my next steps. My family loves me and will always be there when I need them.
Break ups are NEVER easy. You can have a horrible abusive relationship and still feel sadness and pain when it’s over. On the flip side you can love some one so much but it just doesn’t work and this is where I find myself. I love Joey. He is so caring, has a huge heart (physically and metaphorically) and he’s loyal. But I needed him to be more. Likewise I couldn’t be what he needed me to be. When it comes to important things like marriage, children and the like you can’t force it and you can’t compromise. I think maybe I got my feelings a bit more hurt. Not intentionally but because I had such big dreams of OUR future; I had such high hopes for US.
At the end of the day we are in two different places in our lives. We’ve both been growing and changing over time. The changes are subtle and maybe we dont even realize them at all, but they’re there. We could be happy for another month, year, 2 years… but it would end up here eventually.
4 years is a long time to spend with someone. I have gained so much from my relationship with Joey. I would never have worked at Apple… or met my amazing r240 family… or Katie, who brought me to Resto. But deeper than just work and friends I have learned a lot about what I need in a partner. I’ve learned what I need to do different, and what I need from others.
I am a firm believer that God brings people into our lives for a purpose. I can trace the impact each relationship has had on my lifes journey. We had a great relationship and I sincerely believe we will have a great friendship someday.
48 hours and beyond. There will be more tears, people to “break the news” too and the separating of THINGS. I’ve haven’t been single for more than a few months since 1999. LOL. YIKES. I’m TERRIFIED of being single. It seems so lonely and scary. But I’m also excited. It’s a chance to focus on me and the next chapter of my life.
I’ve started a list of things I want to do:
-More hiking and outdoor activities
-Get more involved in church and bible studies again.
-Get my first tattoo
And someday when God thinks I’m ready he will bring me someone that fills all my voids. No compromises.
In the mean time… it’s ME time.
Other reading: Here’s an article I read (within the first 12 hours) that I found to be very interesting!
The message at church today was about Lamenting.
1.to feel or express sorrow or regret for: to lament hisabsence.
2.to mourn for or over.
3.to feel, show, or express grief, sorrow, or regret.
4.to mourn deeply.
5.an expression of grief or sorrow.
6.a formal expression of sorrow or mourning, especially inverse or song
Sounds fun right? Well believe it or not lamenting can lead to happiness.