Decided to do a bit of maintenance on the blog today and happened to notice that the first entry in the archives is dated July of 2004. So that means I’ve had this site up for nearly 10 years, it hardly seems possible. I’ve gone through seasons where there were no posts to seasons with multiple post per day (not many of those!), but one thing has remained unchanged: God’s love for me and all mankind. I’ve always felt that theologians try to make Christianity too complicated, Christ Himself kept it very simple, confess, believe and accept. Confess you need Christ, believe He loves you and will forgive you, and accept that forgiveness. All the rest will follow in good time. Christianity is not a religion of law and taboo, it is all about being free in Christ. This freedom is not license to sin, but rather the freedom of knowing that our sin will be forgiven if we turn away from it back to Christ. As Christians we shouldn’t be acting out of fear that we will be smitten when we make a mistake, we should be living in the joy that we don’t have to fear making a mistake.
Most people don’t realize it, but the moon doesn’t technically orbit the earth. Instead, both the earth and moon orbit around their common center of mass. Admittedly, this center of mass is located within the earth, but that’s beside the point. In fact, because the moon is so large in proportion to the earth, the earth-moon system is sometimes considered a double planet and what affects one, affects the other. And both the earth and moon dance together around the sun.
Our lives as a Christian married couple are much the same. They are intertwined, orbiting a common center and at the same time in a much larger orbit around God. We dance through life, sometimes in joy, others in mourning, all the while reflecting the light of God to our partner. To maintain this, though, one partner cannot have an excess of “gravity” in respect to the other, it must be a partnership of mutual respect and love. Only then can the marriage shrug off the pains and heartache afflicted by daily life. And our orbit about God provides additional benefits, as His influence steadies us and maintains our greater orbit about Him.
The problems come when we allow other “planets” to perturb our orbits. If we allow these outside forces a greater influence on our orbit than our partner or God it’s all too easy for the delicate dance to be disrupted and for one (or both) of the partners to be stripped away. This is especially true when the partners’ mutual influence begins to wane and they draw apart, it becomes easy for another party to slip in and supercede one of the partners.
The Kingdom of God is a mosaic of broken people. Each individual piece is broken and ugly, but taken together they form a beautiful work of art.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Yesterday afternoon, the boy wanted a “popcircle” (Popsicle). We’ve been working on getting him to say “please” and “thank you” when asking for something, so when he came up and said “I wanna popcircle”, we said “say please”. Now, you or I would simply turn around and without really thinking about it say “I want a popsicle, please” and we’d get one. Not the boy, no way, no how was he going to say please. “I don’t wanna say please!”, “I wanna popcircle!”, accompanied by screaming, collapsing on the floor and just generally throwing a fit. And every time he’d scream “I wanna popcircle!”, we’d calmly tell him, “say please”, at which point a fresh round of screaming and flailing would ensue. This went on for a couple of hours (being a horrible father, I took video of him for a couple of minutes) and he never did say please. He also never got his “popcircle”.
The point of this is, I wonder if sometimes God doesn’t feel like Kara and I did. He wants to give us good gifts and to bless us, but we just won’t ask in the right way. We refuse to say please (figuratively) and scream and throw ourselves on the floor when He doesn’t do things our way, right away. Maybe if we took to heart James 4:3 and stopped asking for things with the wrong motives, God would be willing to cheerfully grant our requests. So, the next time you’re asking God for something, examine your heart and determine why you’re really asking. And always say please.
A lake without an outlet dies, think of the Dead Sea, Great Salt Lake or the Salton Sea. All that pours into it remains even as the water evaporates away, leaving only pollution and corruption fit for nothing. Even so a Christian must constantly pour themselves out to others and accept an inflow from God to cleanse the pollution of the world from their hearts.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind — 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
Why do so many Christians live in fear? Or better yet, why do Christians concentrate so hard on the evil around us, to the exclusion of God? If all you can see is the Devil and his works, I suppose you might live in fear. But that’s utterly contrary to the way a Christian is meant to live! Instead of Satan behind every bush, we should be seeing God in all His creation, rejoicing in His creation and its beauty. But no, too many Christians have forgotten 1 John 4:4: Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. Remember Jesus walking on the water? Peter stepped out of the boat at Jesus’ command, putting his fears and doubts aside. And as long as his focus was on Christ, there wasn’t a problem. However, as soon as his gaze wandered aside, he began to sink. He stopped focusing and Christ and began looking at the storm around him and that was his undoing. As Christians today, we have the same problem, the minute we stop focusing on Christ, we’re toast, that’s when the enemy can come in and do damage. Satan has no power over us, for “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world”. God is for us, who can be against us? It’s time to stop living in fear and to start focusing on Christ. If He’s the center of your life, you have nothing to worry about. There’s one important thing to remember about this world, in the end, it’s all gonna burn. It’s time to distinguish the temporal from the eternal and start living for the eternal.
“But Jim”, I can hear some of you saying, “isn’t that an awfully simplistic way of looking at things?” Well, yes, it is. I don’t believe God intended for salvation to be intellectually challenging. He intended it to be simple enough that anybody could understand it and be saved. It’s mankind that has complicated the message of Christ, not God. Now, I’ll be first to admit that living as a Christian can sometimes be complicated, but most of those complications we bring on ourselves. The actual plan of salvation is astoundingly simple: believe in your heart that Jesus Christ was the only son of the Living God and was sacrificed on the cross for our sins and confess the same with your mouth. Everything else follows from that, if you believe, you’ll want to do those things that please God. And if you’re doing the things that please God, frankly, you’ll be too busy to do the things that don’t please Him and certainly too busy to worry about the Devil!
It’s never easy to lose someone. Yesterday, my wife and I lost our baby. Yes, the pregnancy was only seven weeks along and I know, intellectually, that at least 25% of first pregnancies end in a miscarriage in the first trimester, but it still hurts. However, we know that God works all things together for the good of them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. So, we’ll continue to trust Him and believe that He will grant us children when the time comes. Both Kara and I thank you for your support in this time.
If you’re not already reading Tony Woodlief over at Sand in the Gears, you really should be. Today’s essay has a wonderful insight into parenting and how it echoes the relationship between us and God:
Last weekend I stood behind him as he climbed a step ladder to the top rung, and then tried to climb atop the curved bar at its pinnacle, and all the while I thought: he’ll fall and I’ll catch him but on the way down he’ll learn a little something about not risking life and limb so readily.
But of course he didn’t fall, instead he twisted around to see me standing there and hooted and wiggled in his triumph over Mt. Stepladder, until the hubris was too much and I had to extract him, to wails of protest, followed by the stubborn set of chin and deliberate stomping crawl back to the bottom rung. And I thought, this is what God has to put up with, every single day. This is the point of parenting, from his perspective, his way of saying See? Do you see what you people are like?”
Read the whole thing…
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one
Ephesians 5:16 (NIV)
When we think of a shield as part of a set of armor, we tend to think about knights and the shield on the arm protecting the bearer from injury in single combat. But that’s not the type of shield Paul had in mind. Roman shields tended to be fairly large, carried by the infantryman and basically useless in single combat. What the Roman army did was line up and “lock” their shields together, each man’s shield protecting not just himself, but his mates on the right and left. As long as they were able to maintain this shield lock, the odds of getting wounded or killed were pretty low, but let just one man panic and break lock and it provided an opening for the enemy to come in. This is one of the reasons the penalties for desertion were so severe, particular if it happened in combat. The deserter not only endangered his life, he endangered the life of all those around him, by leaving an opening for the enemy.
As Christians, our shield is our faith in God. But that shield is largely ineffective by itself. It must be locked in with the shields of other believers to truly protect us. We must share our faith with other Christians, shielding one another from the fiery darts of the evil one. A solitary Christian with great faith can do great things, but a group of Christians with solid faith, who are “locked” together and in agreement, can do even greater things.