Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Guilt by......well, just Guilt!

"And he touched my mouth and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
              Isaiah 6:7

Ever since I can remember, I never could lie very well.  Everytime I tried to lie as a kid, it would backfire on me because I would feel all this deep guilt within myself and then just confess whatever it was.  My lies were always written on my face or in my actions.  Guilt would consume me. 

Guilt has now turned into fear for me.  I don't feel guilt as much any more, as I do fear of the ramifications of telling the truth in today's litigious society.  Look at your car's insurance card:  one of the key things it says is to not admit guilt in an accident. So my insurance company is telling me not to take responsibility for my actions?  What message does that send?  Maybe I am naive in my thinking here, or it could be the guilt I carry around.

Fear and guilt are of the same color when it comes to the emotional spectrum.  Boiled down to their essence, these emotions invoke feelings of not being in control.  As we all know, control is an illusion, or should I say dillusion, we mere humans see as some ability we have over our surroundings and circumstances.  Some people spend their entire lives chasing after control of their situation or position in life.  We here it a great deal:  "I must take control of my destiny, fate, etc."

The problem is this:  fear, guilt and control can turn into obsessions if we are not careful and do not focus on the fact that our Father in heaven has control over all things, except of course, our own choices.  Choices are about the only things we have control over in life.  And no one makes right decisions 100% of the time. 

Christ is our refuge in those times we are afraid.  Trying to take control of a situation is us saying to God, "Hey, I got this one.  Take a break for a little while because I want to play your part for awhile." Guilt, is us saying, "God, today I will not let you forgive me for the things I have done wrong.  I just want to wallow in my own misery hear.  Take a break for a little while because I want to play your part for awhile."

The ultimate sacrfice has been paid for our sin, sins which can lead to guilt if we let them, and further, guilt leads to fear when we try to take control.  The atonement has happened.  Why do we try so hard to pay our own way?

Forgive me Father,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.  I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Oh Lord, make me dwell in safety." 
          Psalm 4:7-8

Last night, my wife and I hosted our home team as we have done every Tuesday since the beginning of February.  Tonight was a little special for me.  As I posted months back, I read the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  We have been following the accompanying study to his book in our home team this session and it has been really cool to see our group participating and growing in their walks with Jesus Christ.

Tonight was especially enlightening to me as we dug down to the heart of loving our Savior and God.  We talked about loving Him in a way that rivals that of our most intimate relationships here on earth.  It made me look deep into my relationship with Him and wonder:  How much effort am I putting into our relationship?

We asked a lot of questions tonight. What was it like to pursue that person in your past or present who you would do anything to spend time with?  What did you give up in life to spend that extra 15 minutes with your special someone?  Was a 3 hour drive, one way, worth seeing that person for only 30 minutes?  Seeing that person in the flesh was amazing, but how does not seeing Jesus physically affect how we interact with Him? 

Relatable questions, all of them, but pondersome nonetheless.  I had to ask myself some other questions:  when I was chasing my wife in college, what did I do that would seem crazy just to get a kiss or spend 5 minutes with her?  What did I give up for her that might have been important because I just wanted to spend time with her?  (Quick Story:  I once drove 28 hours straight from Tucson AZ to Auburn AL just to spend 2 days with my fiance before some military training.  I have a $200 speeding ticket from a Louisiana cop to prove it!  Now, would I do that again to spend 2 days with my Savior?)

Let me ask those questions again and replace "my wife" with "my Savior."  When I was chasing my Savior in the past, what did I do that would seem crazy just to spend 15 minutes with Him?  What did I give up for my Savior that might have been important because I just wanted to spend time with Him?

Fast forward to today:  What am I giving up to spend time with my Savior, Jesus Christ?  What is more important than my relationship with Jesus Christ?  Then we threw out the challenge:  conciously spend more time with Christ this week than we do with that special someone (spouse, kids, friends, coworkers, etc.). Whether it's 1 minute or 1 hour more, make the effort.  Don't do it because it's forced, but do it because it is what we yearn for and desire.  We were not just talking about doing things for Christ like church, or service or, worship.  We were talking about connection and letting responsibilities go just to spend time with Him.

Sherk the responsibilites for once and open up your mind and Bible.  What will it be like?  I bet it's like no other experience on earth and I want it!

Take these responsibilities and ..............,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Resurrection

Question of the Day:  why is the birth of Jesus celebrated so much more than His death and resurrection?  This has been a question I have had for a very long time.  Many will argue that there would be no crucifixion and subsequent raising from the dead had Jesus not been born, so it is more important to celebrate His birth.  But I beg to differ.  There would be no salvation without his death and resurrection. The blood He shed for each and every one of us on the cross would not be possible if Christ had decided not to abide by the will of the Father.

"And going a little farther, he fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but what you will.'"  Matthew 26:39

"And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.  Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'"  Mark 14:36

"And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed saying, 'Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.'" Luke 22:41-42

Three of the four gospels confirm that Jesus could just have easily done his own thing, as take up his final cross for us and spill his blood for our salvation and forgiveness.  In Jesus' final prayer in the garden, according to John, Jesus even hints at the fact that he could have made that decision.  So my questions still remains, why do we celebrate Christmas as the penultimate holiday to celebrate Christ, yet for the most part, we give Easter a cursory recognition?  Is just a reason for us to take 2 weeks vacation from school at the end of the year?  Does it give us other reasons to conclude the year on a high note?

Who knows.  I vote for a change to the status quo across the board.  Let's celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection as much, if not more than, we do His birth.  It just might change our outlook on the gift we have been given by the Father.

Please don't take this as an indictment on anyone or any organization.  I am just as guilty.

I'm just saying,