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‪reck·less /rekləs/ adj. without thinking about the consequences. rash, heedless, impetuous, impulsive, daredevil, audacious, madcap‬

Category: God (page 2 of 19)

Dark Darkness

  

Yesterday, I was asked ‘what do you do when life takes just a little more faith than what you have?’ This is an intriguing question. I was taken a little aback by the question… I hadn’t had coffee yet!

As I thought through my life experiences and how I handled life when the darkness and shadows seemed to overpower the light. This happens to us, doesn’t it? No matter how strong our faith is, there inevitably will come a time when we feel as though the weight is too much. Too overpowering, too overwhelming.

How do we respond? How do we overcome that which is overcoming to us? When I was asked this question, I thought for a minute or two and came up with a couple strategies I have used when the darkness has felt overwhelming. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but a couple strategies that have worked for me in the past.

  1. Remember the outcome of the past – More times than I care to recount, I have felt overwhelmed. I have felt out of control. I have felt crushed by the weight of my circumstances. However, I have survived. Things may not have always worked out the way I hoped they would, but I have made it through. I have come through the darkness and come out on the other side. What has helped me is to remember I made it through, is realizing I have survived. I have been beaten, but not broken. I have been pressed, but not crushed. Keeping this in mind has assisted me in keep perspective and remember this darkness shall too pass.
  2. Remember I am not alone – In everything we face, we are not alone. Not only are there others around us who have faced the same struggles, God himself has entered into his creation and walks alongside me in difficult times. Good has sent me his Holy Spirit to dwell within me. Scriptures refer to the Holy Spirit as the paraclete, or ‘one who comes alongside’ to assist me and carry me and help me through the tough times. The light is always more powerful than the darkness, after all darkness runs from the light. Not only this, Jesus when he walked the earth he felt and experienced all the same things we do here on earth. He felt loss and depression. He felt betrayed. He felt angry. He felt hurt. He experienced the same range of emotions we experience in the same way we do.

There are, no doubt, many others strategies I’ve used to make it through the dark times, but these are the two which stand out most prevalent to me. Hopefully, these will be of assistance to you as well. I recall from the movie ‘the Crow’, a line – “it can’t rain all the time” and this is true. At some point the rain will stop, the sky will clear and the sun will shine. Life comes at us in seasons, some lasting longer than others, and they too shall pass.

The Love of a Savior

Photo credit unknown.

Photo credit unknown.

One of the tenets of Christianity setting apart from other world religions, is the love of a savior. Christianity alone has at its center a God who loves his creation enough to call them children and to die in their place in order to satisfy his wrath upon sin.

Jesus himself draws the stark contrast of this revolutionary approach to life when he comments that few people would die for a good man. What isnt said there, but what is certainly hinted at is that we are not good men. We are sinners. We live in a fallen world and we are bent towards sin. Knowing this, and loving us anyway, our God sacrifices himself to pay the penalty for our sins.

This act is so revolutionary, so extraordinary, so out of the box we as a humanity can scarcely grasp the full weight of what he did or why he did it. Paul writes in Romans, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. While we were still in opposition to him. He loved us enough to move towards us. To take the first step to have a relationship with us. Which is a second tenet separating Christianity from other world religions, God desires to know us personally. He doesn’t sit on a throne far above in the heavens looking down at us, waiting for us to screw up so he can capriciously punish us. Rather, he engages in our lives with us, walking alongside us each day. In fact, his desire is to dwell within us. To live in and through us. Paul also write in one of his letters to the church at Corinth, that as Christ followers we are temples to the Holy Spirit (God’s spirit he sent to dwell within us). In this particular passage, Paul was correcting the Corinthians on their sexual immorality, however the idea that our bodies are temples of the spirit of the almighty God should have broad applications in our lives. Our lives should be lived in such a way that God is glorified by our actions.

As we prepare for today and this weekend, ask ourselves this question: Is God glorified in the way I am living, in my habits and daily routine, in my work, in my attitude and in the way I treat others? If not, now seems like the right time to reorganize our priorities.

Victimology

colbycriminaljustice.wikidot.com/criminal-profiling-2012

colbycriminaljustice.wikidot.com/criminal-profiling-2012

victimology |ˌviktəˈmäləjē|
the possession of an outlook, arising from real or imagined victimization, that seems to glorify and indulge the state of being a victim.
I want to share with you a mindset or approach to life that has crippled me more than anything else other than being a sinful, fallen human being.
Being a victim. I should clarify, I don’t mean I have been crippled by an actual victimization that has occurred. That is different than this. Some of us have experience trauma and abuse and are victims of tragedy. I mean another kind of victim.
I mean the kind of victim that can best be described as passivity. This kind of victim revels in being a victim. This kind of victim using their victim-ness as an excuse to not move forward. This kind of victim is crippled and unable, dare I say unwilling, to make any changes or adjustments to their live in order to grow and move on from whatever circumstance they find themselves in.
This kind of victim is passive. They allow life to happen around them, to them… without taking any stand or trying to effect or impact what is going on around them. This kind of victim assumes they aren’t able to change anything so they don’t try. They passively watch as life passes them by, thinking to themselves how unfair it is that everyone else has everything they want and how good stuff happens to everyone else but me, I’m stuck here in the mud with crap just happening to me.
I am a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern (fancy way to say Licensed Mental Health Counselor in training) and have suffered my share of mental health related difficulties. I am aware of the intricacies of mental health struggles and how difficult it can be to take responsibility and action in our lives. I know how easy it can be to allow life to happen without trying to engage and impact the direction of life. Please understand that when I say, we can’t afford to passively approach our lives.
I only took seven years to complete my Master’s degree, which gave me plenty of time to think through and mull over how I approach mental health. I have realized a couple things about how I approach mental health issues. First, we all have a backstory. Each one of us has a history that helps to explain who we are and where we have come from. For many of us, in that backstory are clues to why we are using the particular coping strategy to manage life. Oftentimes, we don’t even realize our coping strategies are maladaptive or unhealthy… they are the only ones we know.
Secondly, in that backstory is the root issue we must face and overcome if we are to move on with our lives. For each of us this is different. It may be trauma or abuse. It may be our perception of experiences we had growing up. It may be unresolved guilt or anger. Whatever the root issue is, it will eventually have to be overcome.
Thirdly, I know we are responsible for our actions, thoughts and behaviors. We have to be. We aren’t machines or robots. There are at times circumstances making it more difficult for us to act, think or behave in certain ways… but that doesn’t give us a pass to sit back and stop acting, thinking or behaving in rational healthy ways. If we want things to be different in our lives, we are the catalyst to make that happen.
We can no longer accept passivity and victimology. Can’t continue to live life from the sidelines expecting for it to somehow get better or be different if we aren’t willing to get in the game and make an effort to make it different and better. You are responsible for the way you approach life. You are responsible for your victim mindset.
And so am I.
I have come to understand when we approach life and mental health circumstances we have to uncover the root issue in life causing us problems. We have to learn better ways to cope or manage our behaviors. We have to restructure the way we think each day. We have to adjust our behavior patterns to healthier ones, to ones utilizing healthy coping strategies to combat life. We have to take responsibility for ourselves, our actions and the place in life we find ourselves.
I am no longer content playing a passive role in my life, allowing someone else other than me or God to have the spotlight in my life. Are you? Are you ready to actively engage in your life? Let’s and together and overcome passivity and victimology.

Contentment

philippians4-11

Photo courtesy of dailybiblememe.com

Of all the things the apostle Paul wrote, these words are some of the ones I struggle the most with. Words I have some of the hardest time associating with. Learning contentment. This has been a struggle and journey I have been on my whole life.

There have been seasons of my life finding contentment has been easier than other seasons. Some seasons its a minor struggle, others it totally eludes me. Totally.

I wonder what is different about those seasons? Are the desires less? Do I have more of my desires fulfilled? Or is something about me different? Do I walk closer to God during the seasons where contentment comes easier? Do these seasons correlate with seasons of ‘mountaintop’ spiritual seasons? What is the connection and how can I bridge the gap and make the contented seasons become more prevalent?

Why is it so hard to live in a space that seemingly came easily for Paul? I guess it begs the question, did it come easily for Paul? If not, what was his secret and how can I get in on that action?

I can recall reading in the book Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (I could share many more thoughts on Bell’s books and his current stance on many issues, but now is not the time. Suffice it to say, Velvet Elvis was his first book and therefore remains untainted theologically by Oprah.) that one of the reasons our culture/generation/society has to constantly have music, sound or noise around them is because they are trying to either silence the noise inside their own heads or because they are afraid of the silence that comes from just being still. As I read that years ago, it totally connected with me. It resonated with me. At the time, I constantly had an iPod and earbuds on me or iTunes playing on my MacBook. I couldn’t stand the silence, being left to my own thoughts.

There still remains to question to be answered, what is the cause or root of discontent? The easy answer is sin. Obviously. But really, what is the answer? What is the reason I struggle so much at times with being content?

Because I long for more. My very soul cries out for more. I want more than I can have or am able to have. My soul craves something more. It craves something which can only be filled or supplied by God. The problem is, I often (as all humans do) attempt to fill that longing, that craving with other things which are clearly not able to satisfy. Things unable to fill the hole the void I am desperately attempting to get contented.

Okay. Great. I am trying to make content something which will never be contented because I am trying to content it with the wrong thing.

My heart and soul are restless. It feels as though I need to spend more time finding contentment in God.

I feel as though this is unresolved, but I also feel as though I don’t have much else to say about it right now… I suppose there will be a part two.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11

My Neighborhood

Photo courtesy of http://www.agentevolution.com/

Photo courtesy of www.agentevolution.com/

I’m in my car… driving to work. Yes, I shouldn’t be doing this… but I am. Technically, the law states it is illegal to text while driving. There isn’t specific mention of Evernoting. I bet I could find a Davy attorney who could get me off. Anyway, digression.

Several months ago, I began reading a book called ‘When I don’t desire God’ by John Piper. Real heady stuff. I began to read this as we started a life group with a couple other couples. Oddly enough, this life group/small group/missional community/community group whatever you call it initially birthed as three couples from h2o connected with each other, yet didn’t find a home in any of h2o’s missional communities (fancy name for life group). That’s not the strange part… the strange part is none of us attend h2o any longer (all for various reasons, some of which are intertwined but all happened independently of the others). I believe this group or community to be an authentic life-giving community for a number of reasons… but our ability to survive our separation from h2o is one of them.
I have found in my life I have often had two communities. My friends and my church friends. There has always been some overlap. Real, authentic community of friendship transcends church attendance. I count the men in this quorum to be my closest friends whom I can just as easily pound beers with, share my parenting issues with, ask for marriage advice (even though I’ve been married the longest), and share my sun struggles. In all we do together, we are committed to each other and to sharing our lives together… the good the bad and the ugly.
Community is about having people with whom you share common interests, but also a common interest in pushing each other forward and helping each other to be the best person we can be. This seems a little trite, but the reality of authenticity is just this. Community is about being integrated into each other’s lives in a such a way that when we are apart we are missed.
I have experienced this kind of community in the past. Sadly, it has not been a normative experience for me. I count myself lucky to walk alongside my friends in my community.
It is now late in the afternoon, and I finally have an opportunity to bring myself back around to wrapping this up. As i review my thoughts thus far, I realize when I began this morning I wasn’t intending to share my thoughts on the community I have with my friends (and granted, they aren’t even necessarily fulled thought out thoughts). Even so, I want to share a few closing thoughts to attempt to wrap this up in a semi-meaningful way.
We are community-driven creatures. I believe one of the aspects of being made in the likeness of God is this community aspect. We have an innate desire to surround ourselves with others. We thrive on having a group of people with whom we can travel through life. Loneliness is never our choice. As humans we want others around us.
Not only do we want to have a community, but we want to belong to a community. We want to a part of it, be a piece that matters. We want to know others depend on us and need us around. We want to feel as though we are irreplaceable. We long to be indispensable to those around us. Being in a group only brings the fulfillment we crave when we belong to the group.
Similar, yet still distinct, we want to matter. Not just to those around us, but in the larger cosmic scheme of things. We want to know we have a place in a larger story. We want to belong locally to our community, but also globally. We need to know our life matters, that it was for something. We don’t necessarily need to change the world to find this meaning, but we want to know the things we do each day are worth doing. We want to know the days we had here on earth amounted to something of worth. As a child of God, our very existence was worth every drop of our precious savior’s blood he poured out for us. Our very existence is of more worth than we could possibly know or comprehend.
Community, belonging, meaning. These are three truths of existence for every human being. I am thankful and blessed to have a community to travel the road of life with where I find these three basic needs filled in a way consistent with God’s design for me here on earth. I am able to walk through life with a little patience until these needs are ultimately fulfilled by my creator and savior.
I hope you find a community like mine.
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