Adversity, Bible, identity

No Longer Conform

A key feature of therapy today is helping folks advance beyond their poor coping skills by processing memories. Looking at the past can help them understand why they behave in certain ways in the present.

Christ followers have had this privilege since the resurrection. We know it as “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The Bible refers to the memories (habits, proclivities, tendencies, inclinations, predilections) of a believer’s past as “flesh.” Sometimes these patterns are of our own choosing and making. Sometimes they are the patterns developed because of the choices, examples, teaching, and actions of others upon us. Either way, they no longer mark “who we are” or “what we do.” They are but the hauntings of an identity we’ve let go. Our identity is now in Jesus…to be like him…both as a shield of compassion for others and a servant of character for Christ. In another passage we read:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3,4

Dredging up the past can be ugly and painful. Who wants to think about the parts of our past that hurt? Yet, it may be necessary to “observe” them for what they are…relics, shells, ghosts. They only have power if we choose to allow them room to lounge around our active thinking, or to lurk within hidden chambers of our minds, just waiting for another opportunity to act like they belong. They don’t. The above passage continues…

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

And the more we build our present on what’s really true about us (God’s truth) and dispense with those fleshy memories–those ugly lies–the more we attain a future in which looking backward will be from the victor’s podium rather than the victim’s perch. Then we might find ourselves calling from on high…

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable. I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Psalm 178:1-4

Yes! We will tell others our story…our testimony. We’ll let them know that in that darkness their was a Savior.

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Adversity, Bible

The Valley of Pain and Shame

At our church we are praying and working intensely at becoming adept with our ministry for those who have experienced trauma. In this day and age how can we not do so? Please join us in prayer that the Lord would increase this territory not only for us, but for all of his Church.

If you wonder why, please consider reading this very personal and enlightening blog from Pastor Greg Olson…

http://jesusdoesntgetlost.com/the-valley-of-pain-and-shame/?unapproved=65&moderation-hash=120116d8309b1e9d5d10214748ebc66f#comment-65

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Bible

Abide

Learning to Abide

I love the word “abide.” It comes from the Greek word monē (monay). Twice it appears in John 14.

The first time is in John 14:2: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” The English phrase “dwelling places” is the Greek word for abide.

The place Jesus wants us to abide forever is with him. Amazing!

The second time is in John 14:23: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him.” There it is again. This time in the form of “abode.”

The place God desires to abide is with us. Amazing!

Think about this for just a few moments or so. Sure God could snap his fingers and instantly change everything…automatically we humans would be disallowed from messing things up. We’d look to him perfectly…without reflection, without choice. Like automatons. However, that wouldn’t be love…neither from God or from us. So, while he doesn’t like it, he let’s us mess up…but all the while he’s wooing us back…calling…imploring…abide with me. Amazing!

 

 

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Adversity, Bible

Big Tom

This coming Saturday my nephews, our family, our friends, and I celebrate the life of my Brother Tom. Our loss on March 26th was heavens gain. A few days before he left, I was reminded of something I learned from him…

“As I sit here at Tom’s bedside watching him sleep comfortably, I’m reminded of a family reunion on our Mom’s side. All the aunts and uncles were there except Aunt Peggie (we were all reunited with her many many years later). The gathering was held at Grandma Alpha’s and her latest husband Emory. They had a small farm somewhere in the outback of Idaho. Among the many incredible memories is one of both love and pain. While it never needed any help remaining seered in my memory, our Uncle Chuck kept it alive for everyone else as he would regale us with it absolutely everytime we had the pleasure of visiting either by phone or in person.

All the dad’s and boys were camped out one night in a big tent (in fact, I think it was actually an old white parachute, however I’m reaching the downward years of memory so I’m more than willing to be corrected on this little tid-bit of the story). Of course, there were all the usual suspects in that testosterone fueled environment…boys, teen males, and men on vacation. So there’s no need telling what it sounded and looked like…mayhem was afoot should suffice as a descriptive picture.

However, the hour finally approached when the dads finally obeyed the hollers from the moms in the house, “Paul, Chuck, Ed, John, get those boys settled down. It’s time for some sleep!” It took awhile, but sure enough the grunts, shouts, belches, woops, yee-haws, and laughs began to subside. I, on the other hand, was in rare form. Big Brother, Tom, joined Dad and the uncles in giving me increasing demands to pipe down. Nothing doing.

Through out the years Uncle Chuck held us all spellbound over and over with his telling of the tall tale that grew a little taller with each telling. It always concluded with Chuck’s final line and his acting out the scene…

“Then Tom reached the end of his rope and said, ‘Rick, if I told you once, I told you a thousand times…wham!!!!'”…as he acted out Tom’s blood producing punch to my nose.

Now as fond memories go this should rate rather low on the Human Fondness Scale, but oh nay nay. It’s one of my greatest childhood memories. Here’s why…it has come to represent for me the balanced dance of two unlikely partners…pain and love. Tom meant well. He loved me. Still does. I knew it then. I know it even better now. He knew I was well on my way to Dad’s end game. Much more shenanigans on my part were bound to arouse the flames of the old sarge. It was time for me to invite sleep into my disposition. Sure, there would be some crying as Tom carried me into the house to assist Mom in cleaning up my bloody nose, but there would also be some sweet brotherly reconciliation as he brought me back to the overnight camp out. Pain and love…like the Lord offers…the same Lord we read of in the Bible: “Who the Lord loves he also disciplines.” Hebrews 12:6

And now, now my brother’s love continues to instruct through the pain. He sleeps and I admire him all the more as I reflect upon his life time of overwhelming patience and compassion. He has offered them to everyone he has ever known…and I love him for it no matter the agony I feel now nor the grief which is to come.

Sleep well, Tom. Please wake up again. I have more to learn.”

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Bible, Culture

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

 

I like progress. I like it when we improve and make things better. I like conservation. I like it when we conserve what is right and good and necessary.

I hate abusive political progressivism. It uses the word progress for the relativism people seem to love so much. It seeks change for the sake of change regardless of whether it’s helpful or not. It seeks change based on the emotional appetites of its possessors. It seeks to conserve the tired, worn out ways of The Dark Triad: machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. It leads to oligarchy and suffering…oligarchy for the few, suffering for the many. I hate abusive political progressivism.

I hate abusive political conservatism. It uses the word conserve for the dogmatism people seem to love so much. It seeks maintenance for the sake of maintenance regardless of whether it’s helpful or not. It seeks maintenance based on the emotional appetites of its possessors. It seeks to progress the tired, worn out ways of The Other Dark Triad: legalism, nepotism, and sociopathy. It too leads to oligarchy and suffering…again, the former for the few, the latter for the many. I hate abusive political conservatism.

Both abusive political progressivism and abusive political conservatism are on full display these days. They both use and abuse privilege…especially the privilege of truth. This is why great documents like The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution get bandied about by both groups. They become documents of first rejoinder…not for truth and clarification, but for clout, agitation, and propaganda.

I hate both abusive political progressivism and abusive political conservatism…and apparently they both hate me and you. They both fail. There is hope in neither, but there’s hope in Jesus.

Jesus loves me and he loves you.

He also loves progress. He loves it when it advances the purpose of his Father’s love and truth. He also loves conservation. He loves it when it too advances the purpose of his Father’s love and truth. In fact, he abides in his Father’s truth and he invites his followers to do likewise. His joy from progress and and his joy from conservation are not political. They are personal. What he said and did as well as what he says and does are ever the same. He was, he is, he ever shall be immutable. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He cannot be changed, swayed, or bandied about. He loves life and eternal life. He offers both. Jesus loves me. He loves you too.

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