Category Archives: Christianity

It’s a matter of perspective

 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. Paul – 1 Corinthians 1:30-31

One of the ugliest things to watch is the disruption of a marriage or the dissolution of a long lasting friendship. These two examples are also some of the most painful things to endure, regardless of the reason for fissure. The breaking of a union, no matter the type, frequently comes with scars and damage.

As I was working as a faculty member for a church camp, a pastor used the following example. Taking two pieces of paper, he glued them together and allowed the bond to take hold. Once the bond was set, the attempt to separate those two pages with minimal damage to either sheet. The result, regardless of his care, was still a torn sheet.

Now, if you look at most relationships and even marriages, there were probably moments that were stellar and drove those in the relationship towards one another. The excitement of adventure, the comforts of familiarity, and the bond of shared interests can build up a good union. No one earnestly starts a relationship with the hopes to dissolve the connection at some later date and so it starts off well.

The issue often comes when our interests become divided through ill chosen battles. Now, I’m not dismissing turns of events that are abominable, but rather looking at events where overtime there was an ever so small development of separation. This could be emotional detachment, or over committance to things outside of the friendship. There are many situations that can lead to the end of friendship.

What does all this have to do with today’s verses?

Our ability to maintain unity comes from a higher perspective than we get by looking at our own nose. In our relationships, the most important perspective to keep is the perspective which maintains view of everyone’s perspectives, desires, and needs. It seeks out the good of the whole rather than the good of a particular side.

Now, take that perspective and think about this: how does this impact your relationship with God? How would this impact your relationship with a significant other? How does this impact your relationship with a friend? a stranger? Democrats? Republicans? *Theists? Your neighbor?

To be a Christian is to realize that your life was paid for by a higher order and by the whims of the higher order. Christ died for us, not because we had something to give, but because he had chosen to give. Spoken a bit differently, John writes later in the New Testament, “We love because Christ first loved us.” He lead by example and now we follow in that path.

In view of that, our job is to love other people regardless of their station, social status, beliefs, or political agenda. Our job is to make sure that we take every step to seek out the true good in our interactions with all people. After all, is that not what Jesus did for us?

So my challenge today is this:  In this season of political turmoil, seek bi-partisanship. In your season of loneliness, seek a healthy relationship. In your spiritual walk, seek a broader perspective with the father of all who through you can do all things. Seek the perspective of highest love in all things and you can surely do no harm.

 

 

You-Turn

This is a continuation of a previous post: Believing vs. Faith

A few years back I was a missionary in the Philippines and I was teaching some youth how to put together a sermon. One of the student’s approached me and boldly stated,

“I’m going to preach on something that’s super important. You hear preachers talk about a 180 degree turn in life, but that’s not enough. You need to make a full 360 degree turn to get your life on track.”

After I finished chuckling internally, I explained that mathematically a 360 degree turn is a full turn back into the same direction. I then went on to explain that 180 degrees is always the exact opposite direction of the way you are pointed and that pastors weren’t asking people to half heartedly follow God. With some relief, he went back to his sermon with a little less blasphemy and continued determination to encourage people to walk the straight and narrow.

This week I began this blog with a personal piece about believing vs faith. I highly recommend reading it first, especially if you struggle with the relationship piece of Christianity. That is, if you call yourself a Christian, but wouldn’t know the Holy Spirit from a passing thought. I struggle with that and this post continues to talk about that struggle.

In my attempt to repent, which literally means to make a 180 degree change in your life, I started off by addressing that I was pointed in the wrong direction. There’s God’s way and then there’s the highway which runs smooth and easy into the fitful sleep also known as Hell. This direction was causing issues for myself personally and at home.

Since writing that post, I have been actively working towards building the relationship piece of Christianity. I’ve been working towards having real faith once again. As I was trying to figure it out, I was comparing myself to where I used to be in faith and I was discouraged seeing that I was no where near where I left the path. In dismay, I thought, “It’s going to take a long time to get my faith back.”

And I was wrong.

I had forgotten something important about walking away from God. Regardless of how far you go, it’s never to late to make a you-turn to God and begin the relationship again. It may not be just how you ended it, but it doesn’t mean you have to throw away all the memories you once had. Just like visiting and old friend and sharing a cup of joe, you pick up where you are and go from there.

This may not come as a surprise to many people, but I found it incredibly helpful this week as I began to seek out faith once more. My hope is that at least one other person may be encouraged by the beginning of my journey in knowing the same piece of information. God is faithful even when we are not, and this is just one example of God’s faithfulness to me even when I am not faithful.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

God is being faithful to you, are you ready to be faithful back? Is there something that causes you to worry about what that might mean? Share your thoughts, fears, and concerns, and I will gladly share the journey with you. We are all on a journey, each of us together.

 

 

 

Believing vs. Faith

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (James 2:19)

At one point in my life I was quite sure that I believed in God, and not just belief, but strong faith with a steadfast relationship. I was the missionary, worship leader, counselor to friends, and I even wrote devotionals for nearly a year. Then I met real life and felt my foundation shake in ways I had never felt before. Now, I’m trying to figure out how to return to faith with more than just belief.

The verse at the beginning of the post marks something I struggle with. I believe in God, I definitely believe in the Bible, and I believe in the holy Church that’s meant to be wed to Christ in his return. I would willingly debate and stand up for the foundations of Christian faith and present them as the only way to truly live. I am a firm believer in Christianity.

The issue is that I seem to lack faith and follow through. I don’t regularly attend church, I spend my money primarily on my desires, I never pray, and I just don’t have a relationship with God. I believe in God, I would say that I have intellectual knowledge of God, but I don’t have faith in God.

I know that this situation impacts me on a day to day basis. I don’t have that Rock foundation I used to. I don’t have the peace that surpasses understanding. I don’t get to rely on the comfort of sharing a God ordained moment in the middle of the day. There is nothing that I enjoy by being outside of faith and retaining the knowledge of God.

In addition to my own struggle, I know I cannot be the only one in this position. It is easy, even comforting, to think that believing in God is enough. The trap of believing without faith make Christianity look easy and attainable for anyone, even people on their own strength. The reality is, however, that believing is not enough.

So what must we do?

Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(Acts 2:38)

Repent and learn to lean on the Holy Spirit who is alive and well in this world. All we have to do is stop living our lives for ourselves and begin focusing in on God’s will for our lives. It’s an intentional redirection of priority to God in all situations and it’s not easy. I think the best interpretation I’ve heard is “It’s never easy, but it gets easier.”

Are you in a similar faith situation? What steps are you taking to repent? What has helped you repent in the past? Let me know, because I’m ready to make this change too.