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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Stuck?

What do a mud-bound car, a quicksand hobbled deer, and a web-tangled fly have in common?  They’re all stuck!  And what do many, many people- Christ-followers included- have in common with one another?  Many of them are stuck, too.  Maybe not as visibly as the deer, car, or fly, but they are truly stuck- their forward momentum has come to a standstill.

The sources of our “stuck-ness” vary widely- unresolved issues from our past, broken relationships that have a deep hold, pain or trauma that we haven’t been able to work through or release.  Some are stuck spiritually: we come to the same place of great intentions but no follow-through again and again, or perhaps it’s a destructive habit or pattern that we can’t seem to break.  For so many folks there’s an internal message stuck on repeat, “This is as good as it’s going to get.  You can’t ________.  You just don’t have what it takes.”

Pete Scazzero refers to this phenomenon as “the wall”- a barrier we keep crashing into but don’t seem to get over or around.  We’ve got to go through it.  And sadly, perhaps sadder than any trauma or loss we’ve experienced, many folks have simply accepted defeat.  Resignation has replaced resolve, hopelessness has overtaken determination.  Or maybe we’ve decided that it’s just too hard, too costly, or too painful.  It’s simpler to let the stuck-ness stay.

But listen again- with your heart- to the words of Jesus, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  Read it again.  Once more.  Freedom is not just wishful thinking or for the sweet bye-and-bye.  It is our birthright as members of Jesus’ family.  He paid the price to make it available, so why wouldn’t we want to live in it?  Maybe we’ve just gotten too used to being stuck, or perhaps we haven’t been willing to do that hard work of that leg of our journey.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Freedom isn’t just a word or wishful thinking- it’s available.

So here’s my question: when you’ve been stuck, what has helped you to break free?

 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

God’s Emotions

Does God have feelings?  Real ones?  Maybe that seems like a strange question.  Of course He does.  It’s just that we’re not used to thinking about them.  Just think: what emotion do you most associate with God?  I’m betting it’s anger.  Most of us don’t have a difficult time picturing God as disappointed, displeased, irritated or just flat out mad- at us in particular or humanity in general.

But have you ever thought about God suffering?  That He might actually feel pain?  This verse from Isaiah 63 stopped me in my tracks the other day:  In all their suffering He also suffered…”  Think about that for a moment.  When God’s people experienced pain and anguish- even pain that was self-inflicted- He hurt with them.  God suffers with us.

That changes the mental picture of God that most of us carry around.  We tend to view our God as a fairly distant “far away and not yet” kind of deity.  That the pains and hurts and raw emotion of our existence are somehow kind of “beneath” God.  But think about this: Jesus reveals to us a God who is full of emotion- radical joy, deep sorrow, tender-hearted compassion.  Jesus puts a face to God’s palette of empathy and emotion.

And make no mistake- how you feel matters to God.  He is not distant or detached from your journey, but feels it with you, alongside you.  All of which brings a fresh comfort and depth to Jesus’ words, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Not just an interested observer, but a forever friend, a companion in each moment.  He knows us.  He cares for us.  He meets us where we are and enters in.  What an amazing God!

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Steve Jobs and Dying

Steve Jobs died last night.  He was the founder of Apple and certainly one of the more influential and creative people in our generation.  I don’t know a great deal about him, other than becoming a fan of the products he helped produce—Ipods, Macs, Ipads.  Sure, those things are just that- things, and they are often over-hyped and venerated beyond what is fitting.  But what struck me about Steve Jobs is what I just finished watching- his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.  He told three stories about his life, but the last one struck home- the account of receiving a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.  Here’s what he said:

‎            “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

At the time he gave the speech, he believed that the cancer had been eradicated.  Sadly, 6 years later, it took his life.   I don’t know about his spiritual life- from what I gather Steve didn’t have a relationship with God.  That grieves me, as it should all of us for any person, anywhere.

But that doesn’t change the wisdom in what he said to those graduates- and hopefully to us.  Solomon said the same thing a couple thousand years ago: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, 
for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

What does it mean to live with our death in view?  Morbid preoccupation?  Fearful timidity?  No!  Just the opposite!  I want to live my life all out- for what matters, what is eternal, what counts.  I want to make bold and courageous choices and love God and love others with reckless abandon.  I want to live… all out.  Fully alive.

As I see it, there are only three things that last forever: God, people, and God’s Word.  I want to give myself fully to those three- to those things that will outlive my time on earth.  That’s what I want.  And it’s what I desire for each of you, too.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Uncategorized