Friday, October 24, 2014

One day at a time.

Life can be overwhelming at times. It is interesting how there are some seasons of life when everything seems to come at you all at once from different directions. It is so easy to get caught up in the fast paced, high demand current that threatens to take you out of balance. If we allow it, people, circumstances and even our own thoughts can really take over and we begin to loose control as the stream of life begins to carry us and it starts to feel like we are trapped. We begin to loose focus as we try to solve all the issues all at once and it only spins us more out of control.

In these moments it is so important to regain control. It is in these moments that it is important to take it one day at a time. The most important thing at this time is to pause and rest. Then, instead of looking at the whole picture, just look at one area and complete one task that is more pressing without the feelings of guilt. It also means that maybe it is necessary to take a few steps back and temporally remove people and situations that are not helping but instead are draining our energy (in love of course, the once who count will understand).

For me, when I go through moments like these I tend to remember the words of Jesus after he spoke to them of some challenging times to come, encouraging His disciples with these words: "I have said these things to you so that in Me you would have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but take heart, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). No matter what we go through we can still have peace in Christ because He has overcome the world, even death itself!

Peace comes when our heart's focus is on the One who can help us overcome all the circumstances. Being free from worry and having peace comes from knowing this truth. As long as Jesus remains our focus, we can trust and have faith to take it one day at a time even though we don't see the outcome or have the answers. When life becomes overwhelming that is the time to strip ourselves away from all the distractions, slow down and find dwelling in His Word. When we set our feet on the Truth, the Rock - we gain balance in our life. When we stand on His truth we become free of the worries of this world.

...and for that I am thankful.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Right or Wrong?

How do we go about telling what is right or wrong? 

There are many ways to tell what is morally correct and what is not. We go about it based on what we were taught and what our parents and teachers believe in, later on developing our own world of ideas and philosophies, making decisions accordingly. In many cases it is easy to tell right from wrong, like for example it is commonly known that it is right to 'stop' at a red light and it is right to 'go' at the green light. We were taught and we just know that it is right to look each way before crossing the street. In other cases we know it is 'the law' to wear our seat belts although not everyone may follow it. The rights and the wrongs that we perceive within our worlds are like either the clear paths we can go through or the stop signs signalling 'do not head in that direction'.

There are different types of Rights vs. Wrongs which guide our decisions:

- The Moral Right vs. Wrong
- The Socially acceptable Right vs. Wrong
- The Legal Right vs. Wrong
- The Personally acceptable Right vs. Wrong
- The Common Sense Right vs. Wrong
- The Intuitive Right vs. Wrong

How do we find out what is Right and what is Wrong? We learn through experience and by discovering the consequences and outcomes, which then help us (hopefully) not to do something if the result is unpleasant or unwanted. We may even get confused at times about what is right or wrong and our understanding and concepts evolve as we ask questions and learn more about life. The interesting thing, I find, is that we all want to be rights about what we consider 'right' and 'wrong' which is why people engage in so many arguments trying to prove that their 'right' is the 'rightest' on any given topic. What's worse is that we try to impose our 'rights' and 'wrongs' on others.

Whatever we believe about the topic, we still somehow in many instances choose to do 'wrong'. The funny thing is that in so many cases as humans we, for some reason, trip over the same rock and go back to repeat the same mistakes. If we take Einstein's definition seriously we can determine that majority of the human population is insane...

This morning I had an interesting conversation with some great minds and as 'iron sharpened iron ' we got to a point in our conversation where we began to examine what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for us as believers and even further - teachers of the Word. It was interesting because what each one of us sees as acceptable and not acceptable is such a personal definition. No matter how personal the question of 'right' vs. 'wrong' may be, I am convinced that there has to be a way to tell, aside from our personal convictions.

Many times young people ask questions such as "Is it ok for a Christian to have tattoos?" or "Why can't I listen to certain music or watch certain shows/movies, it has some occasional cursing or one scene with violence, so what?" or "What's wrong with going to a bar and having one or two drinks with my friends, shouldn't I have a right to choose?".  Sometimes these Rights & Wrongs can seem hard to determine with the blurred lines of what is socially acceptable, especially if the Bible does not directly deal with the issue. (That is also implied that the person believes in the Bible being the inerrant Word of God)...These are seemingly complex questions to answer for a lot of believers and this is the same reason why there is such a split even within the Christian church and the body of believers. I ask myself "should it be so if we are reading the same Bible?". Shouldn't we come to the same conclusions about what we believe about living life as God designed it? Why are there so many separations and disagreements? How can we stand as one is we do not agree?

The truth is, the answers are so simple that sometimes we tend to miss it because we over-spiritualize things and intellectualise everything. We want it to sound deep and profound and impressive, so we miss the essence and simplicity of the Gospel. Today there was that 'Aha!' moment when one simple statement made by my brother in the faith, Pastor Nate, resonated with me and brought clarity to a lot of things I was asking discernment on. As we shared our personal takes on what we understood to be acceptable or not, he shared that for him the litmus test for discerning right from wrong comes down to this one simple thing. "It is so simple, that I do not want you to miss it", he said..."for me the question is always - does it bring glory to God?"

That was simple and so true. When we want to do something that is questionable we tend to want to negotiate with God as if asking "How far to the edge can I come before it is considered wrong or sinful?" That is the wrong question. In everything that we think, say or do the question to ask is "Does it bring glory to God?". Imagine if we asked that question as we approached the subjects like the way that we treat our bodies, the way that we treat ourselves and others, the way that we treat our brains with the stuff we expose ourselves to, the way that we date, do marriage and parenting...does it bring glory to God? That is where we ought to start in the way we re-learn to walk and live out our faith, not according to the patterns of the world, but according to the Word - the way God designed it. That would bring Him glory. God's Truth is so simple and beautiful, so clear and yet so profound. Desiring to bring Him glory is what's lacking in the body of Christ...and that is what the unbelieving world finds so unbelievable.

Sharing moments like these with people who love God and share the same desire to learn how to bring Him glory is priceless. Today was that day...

...and for that I am thankful!

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

Friday, October 10, 2014

"What's LOVE got to do with it?" (***EVERYTHING***)

It is all about love!

I don't mean the romantic kind, although there is definitely a place for that kind of love too. What I mean is, everybody wants to be loved. We hear countless songs about LOVE, I even heard people say things like "Love is my religion"...but we have such limited understanding of the meaning of LOVE and what it actually LOOKS LIKE 'real time'.

We all want to experience the depths, the width, the heights of love and often people go to such extremes for love. Yet, there are others who settle for the sake of love. People have killed in the name love! We fall in and out of love like we fall in and out of a hammock or a chair.

Love is so misrepresented and that is not at all a surprise. We base our idea and experience love based on our own exposure to it. We tend to love the way we have been loved. If we have never been loved by our parents, or the love we have received in the past was full of pain, then we are going to recreate what we know and have experienced.

What I have been discovering lately and the one thing that God is really teaching me in this season of life, is that we are meant for GIVING of love, more so than receiving. God is LOVE, He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son... We are created in His image, which means that we too are created to GIVE when it comes to love, but we cannot give what we do not have.

The only way we will ever be able to truly love is when we understand how much we are loved. When we understand that our unlimited source of LOVE comes from God and we decide to connect to Him, our well will never run dry. Instead, it will overflow and be poured out into the lives of others. When we focus on giving love without any expectations of getting anything in return because our love tank is constantly being filled by the Source, we are able to recreate the Love we experience from our Father - the unconditional, RADICAL LOVE!

Other people stop being the source of love because it can only come from God's unfailing and unconditional love for us. That kind of revolutionary love does not seek her own way, it does not seek his own selfish desires, because it only knows how to give. It does not require approval and it does not give to be 'liked', it is about pure, genuine desire to express the LOVE we feel from our Heavenly Father to everyone we come in contact with.

I thank God for this revelation - and answer to my prayer to reveal to me how to love others as He loves me. In retrospect, I am also realising how much growing I need to do in this area because i do not know how to love...I do not know how to receive love...because I still do not fully grasp how much I am truly loved by God...

...even though I do not fully know this Love, I am thankful for it...