Yearning To Be Whole

Solitude breeds thought which brings forth perspective. 

He is heard in a still small voice, a gentle whisper, yet we search for the audibly, louder signs. 

He is felt on the gentle caress of a breeze, the solstice of a nighttime walk, yet we pay no attention. 

All day long we run the rat-race chasing things of little importance in hopes of having these gaping holes inside of us filled. We want to know there is a purpose for us. We yearn to be whole. Complete.

All around us negativity and fear is blossoming like sunflowers in the fields too numerous to count. Our world has changed a lot. We are looking at things square in the eyes that we hoped we would never have to experience in our lifetime. Pandemics, self quarantine, riots, incredible storms, murder, and lack of morals seem at an all-time high and so close to home. We want peace. We want harmony. We want security. 

I sit here and this chapter comes to my mind. Slowly I read and reread its content. 

“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains.   “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,  and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,  but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.   “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’   spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—  then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house.  Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.  How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!  Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.  For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.   “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.  At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you ahead of time.   “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.  For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.   “Immediately after the distress of those days  “ ‘the sun will be darkened,  and the moon will not give its light;  the stars will fall from the sky,  and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’    “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth   will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.   “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it  is near, right at the door.  Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.   “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,   but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;  and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.   “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Matthew 24:3‭-‬44 NIV”

I encourage you to seek comfort in these words, to rest assure that the world may be surprising us left and right but God is not surprised.

Hold on my brothers and sisters. Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Seeking Rest

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Sin is deceitful and hardens our hearts toward God. It develops a pseudo exoskeleton, making it harder to penetrate with God’s love.

The Israelites were made to wander in the wilderness due to their pride of self and unbelief in God. They never entered into the Lord’s rest as a result.

Therefore, they were constantly seeking; seeking more, seeking a king, seeking a home, seeking love and purpose even though it was in their midst, they were still seeking. They were anxious. Instead of peace they had anxiety.

Unbelief was their sin.

They were tricked and hardened by it. 

Sin’s tentacles wrapped around their hearts so much that they could not make room for love to penetrate their heart’s walls. 

They were blind. But they chose blindness. They heard the things over and over from God through Moses, yet they chose to trust in what they could see and feel more so.

They chose to be unbelieving and it cost them peace. It cost them rest.

This promise of rest however did not stop with the Israelites. Let us be careful with our own individual lives that we do not become a Xerox copy of their behavior for we also have been given the Good News through our Bibles and hopefully through our friends and our churches as well. May we find value, purpose, and meaning in it so that we may enter into the Lord’s rest in the now and so much more in the future to come.

Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart. He is seeking to give you rest. True rest. Real rest. Rest from trying to earn your place in this world and the one to come. Rest from the chaos and heartache in this complex and amazing world. You see, the world has not been built to eliminate pain but Christ has come so that we may have the pain relief to make it through.

Today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as you did during your rebellion. (Hebrews 3:8)

May your rebelling cease and you come to find  hope and peace found solely in a Sabbath rest God is waiting for you to accept. The gift has already been given, all one must do is accept it.

I Need A Silent Night  <——–  These thoughts made me think of this song.

Our Biggest Contender

There is a song I love by Andy Mineo called Wild Things, I guess if you were to ask me what kind of people I am drawn to it would be this group. They are the misfits. People who haven’t been to church in awhile due to struggles and addictions that keep them afraid of the church doors. Depending on where you are in life, you could be contending with your biggest giant just inside this building where fellow believers meet.

We fear ridicule, we fear blame, we fear judgement just inside these doors and because we already struggle with all these things in our minds without the help of anyone else, we shy away from church as we feel it will be more of the same. But let’s face it. I mean honestly, guys. Our biggest contender is our flesh. We can make all the excuses in the world but we are accountable for self.

Some of us have been through some crazy stuff. Some of us are going through rough stuff right now. We feel so foreign. We don’t come from homes where stability is (was) a factor. We hardly know what it is like to feel safe. We are on guard; constantly watching our surroundings.  We (would) have to question who was going to be home when we got home from school. Would mom have a new partner? Would dad have another girlfriend? Would they be sober? We prayed like crazy with anxiety that at times felt crippling. Often there was concern that there would be anger and we could get hurt yet again. 

We didn’t reach out when we needed someone to turn to and we caved in on ourselves. We cried a million tears. We cut. We drink (drank). We take (took) pills. We engage (engaged) in porn. We experience (experienced) sex. Constantly we are (were) searching. And even when the help comes (came) we (would) refuse it as this was our new state of being. We have grown (grew) accustomed. We are (were) comfortable in our chaos. The enemy has cleverly baited this trap we can (could) barely part from. 

Until one day, in a rare moment, we look up and a glimpse of freedom is caught. We observe.

 It stands off in the distance. It is stable. It is genuine. It knows all our faults yet never once has it dismissed us. It actually beckons us to stay. It reads us like a book and yet loves us. Convincingly. It saw our disease and revealed the cure. Sin. Repentance. Follow Me. Four simple words. That easy. 

For some of us, we ran. Terrified. And in the moment we looked back, we saw the dark venom pulled from the cankerous souls of the ones who remained. They then became radiant. They were changed. Just like that. In what seemed to be the twinkling of an eye. The sight froze us in place. We could not continue running. No. Instead our bodies turned to face this enigma. 

These newly transformed bodies started walking our way. We were mesmerized. And slowly, one foot in front of the other, we started advancing towards them. They were alluring. We wanted whatever they had in them. We wanted healing. So we were drawn to their light, and one by one, we all were relieved of the dark venom we allowed to pulse in our veins for so long. For too long.

Soon this group became our fellowship. It was a place we could be real. We could be raw. We could be vulnerable and be safe. We could cry out, cry softly and (or) just vent. Once we were unified, we were overflowing. We were passionate. We were intentional. We were commissioned.  We proceeded in movement to set the world on fire with the same radiance that coursed through us. And one by one, we continue to succeed.

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Could You Be Awkward

Are you ‘Christian’ enough to be awkward for Christ? Hmmm. Let me repeat that, “Are you ‘Christian’ enough to be awkward for Christ?” This idea has ran in and out of my thoughts for the last month or so. 

 

What do I mean? Elaborate. OK, I will try. 

 

In John 14:15 we read,  “If ye love me, then keep my commandments.”

And in 1 Corinthians 13:13. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 

 

Then there is Luke 10:25-37. 

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Note that a denarius in verse 35 was equal to the daily wage for a day laborer. The Samaritan gave denarii (plural) in order to properly meet the needs of both, the injured man & the innkeeper. 

There are moments in society where good Christian men move in humble acts of love serving God, as they know of His love towards them and the desire God has for them when encountering a need such as this Good Samaritan to pass the love along. 

 Usually in those moments we are moved at our core and filled with admiration and compassion. Why? 

Just watch the Hallmark channel at Christmas and tell me you can do it without being moved. 

 Why are we so moved when love is truly shown through sacrifices? 

You know the thing that gets me about the story of the Good Samaritan most? 

It didn’t actually happen. It’s merely an illustration of the actual virtue-love.  It is in response to the man asking Jesus who his neighbor was. An ethical question. I can sense by the scripture representation that a self-conscious superiority was at play here in the man’s tone. He wanted literal proximity perhaps. He wanted it revealed to him to what barrier was he obligated to love his neighbor as himself. 

See Jericho was one of the priestly cities, so that there would be frequent travellers on a variation of errands. The priest was coming from Jerusalem, so he could not plead a ‘pressing public engagement’ at the Temple. I feel the repetition of the description regarding the conduct of both the priest and the Levite serves to suggest it was a common act. They both did exactly the same thing, and so would twenty or two hundred ordinary passers by. 

They saw the man lying in a pool of blood and, even in the face of such a sight, went on their way. Maybe they said to themselves, ‘Robbers again; the sooner we get past this dangerous bit, the better.’ We see here that they were heartless, but do you think they saw it? 

Don’t we do the exact same thing ourselves, and do not see that we do? How many of us have witnessed bad mishaps? We see someone pulled over on the side of the road with a flat tire and think that; “ surely they’ve called someone else, I’m too busy right now.” What about an angry child lashing out at any who comes near? “Just a rebellious teen,” we think; but what if he is abused constantly and has been kicked out of his home? What of an addict passed out in his car- or is that our thought- and the man actually is hypoglycemic and in desperate need of attention.How many of us cross these situations and have left untouched because our hearts were unaffected? The world would be a changed place if every Christian attended to the sorrows that are plain before them.

Also, what if the Samaritan hadn’t reached out to the injured man? What if he hadn’t helped the man when he couldn’t do it himself? What would become of the man knocked out? 

He might have died, but I believe that someone would have come along eventually. Man may fail time and time again but God does not. If it wasn’t the man’s time then, there are those willing to walk and function in God’s love and He would have ordained their paths to cross. 

I personally have experienced a situation like this. Years of abuse had me shutting people out of my life, then I began shutting down and turning to suicide attempts. MANY people did pass me by saying things like, “Another pity-seeker” “Her story creeps me out, keep moving.” Others just genuinely had no idea how to approach me as if I was something that would render them a whole lot of awkwardness and a ton of trouble. 

 

Casting Crowns has this song called ‘One Awkward Moment’. 

These lines in particular:

 “She’s a castaway Stranded on the island of her yesterdays

  Freedom was her ocean, but she got swept away

  Little princess dreaming got lost somewhere in the waves

  Left behind

  She’s been going at this all alone since she was nine

  But God loves you, He’s got a plan for you, she’s heard all the lines

  But when she opens up her heart nobody’s got the time.”

We who claim to be Christians should seriously consider the lesson in the Good Samaritan particularly looking at the priest and Levite. I personally have gleaned from the illustration that there can lie in the essence of our faith the possibility of having a lack of concern for those wounded around us. 

That revelation should grip us, shake us, and convict us if we find this tentacle of discord gripping our hearts in any way. If, in our love for Christ, we are found indifferent towards our brothers’ or sisters’ wounds, then our worship in our churches is merely mockery. It is only when we have found in Him- in Christ- the pity and the healing which we need that we shall go out into the world with love that is as wide as His.

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