More than 50,000 soldiers dead all triggered by a concubine running away from her husband. I’m reading the last few chapters of Judges in the OT & these events leave me baffled & cold. They baffle me because even though Israel obeyed God’s directives, they still lost two battles and 40,000 soldiers died.
These events leave me cold because of the human ability to be barbaric: the concubines husband cut her up into 12 pieces and sent her body parts throughout the 12 Tribes of Israel. Clearly, this is a very dark time in Israel’s history.
And there are times / events in our lives when we don’t understand God. Why does an omnipotent God allow atrocities and deplorable behaviors? And how does
God’s loving character reconcile with His judgment? Making these questions get even more personal, why doesn’t God heal various ailments & terminal illness?
Or why does a cheater co-worker get the promotion & we get bypassed, again?
I’m grateful that God is abundantly able to handle our questions, doubts, fears, uncertainties & pain.
While we wrestle with these questions, or different ones, let’s stay in fellowship with God for the simple reason that He holds us together because of His infinite love for us!
“ . . . . just as also I have been fully known.”1 Cor 13:12
When I think about who I am & who I present myself to be, I want to think that there’s no discrepancy. But sometimes there is. It’s not uncommon for us to be in a situation & moderate ourselves to be situation appropriate. There’s some wisdom with these kinds of choices.
But I appreciate that we Jesus / Genuine Love, there’s no need to modify or regulate who we are. Indeed, no one knows us better than Jesus & being anything less than fully transparent w Him is a tragic distortion of intimacy. And even worse, we miss experiencing genuine love. And in full truth, we are made for genuine love – to be loved & fully known, as well as knowing & fully loving Jesus.
There’s running banter betweeen DC & Marvel fans about which brand of hero entertainment is better. Each side seems to have it’s own strengths & shortfalls, each hero having a fatal flaw: Superman has his kryptonite & Ironman has his arrogance (or whatever you deem to be his weakness). And that’s the rub with the human race – we can have our moments of glory & splendor with dark quagmires nipping the heels of grandeur.
Enter Jesus who is the ultimate flawless superhero. Jesus is all-powerful, all-knowing and present everywhere. If Jesus has any weak spot, it would be His affection and devotion to you and me. Jesus continues to go to inexplainable extremes to keep us reconciled to Himself, infused with genuine love. Let’s be committed to worshipping the real hero of the human race: Jesus Christ!
It’s a well known proverb that pride goes before a fall & i could be the poster child for this proverb. At my home church on Sunday, I did a face plant trying to lithely “pop” up on the stage. I caught my toe on the edge of the stage & the thunderous KABOOM was my pride exploding, along w smashing my thigh & scrapping up my elbow. I want to think that I’m agile, athletic, coordinated & spry, along with 20 years younger. So maybe I’m kind of athletic & sometimes agile.
This fall has helped me come back to reality – I’m not a gymnast, I’m not 30years old & I’m not so spry.
Lovingly, Holy Spirit helps us understand grace, humility & truth, along with a healthy dose of comic relief, when we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
I recently enjoyed watching the NCAA college basketball championship game & the most common question was, “Who are you cheering for? Which team do you want to win?”
In essence, which side are you on? As we walked into the arena, we were inundated with Michigan fans so I wasn’t too keen to shout out, “GO ‘NOVA!!!!” But I had definitely picked a side & cheered accordingly.
The same holds true for all of us in the narrative between what the enemy says in contrast to Holy Spirit’s narrative.
The enemy accuses, condemns, shames, deceives & is always trying hurt, kill & destroy us.
On the other side, Holy Spirit advocates, convicts, comforts, leads us into truth, makes us alive, confirms our true identity & continuously pours love into our soul.
So pick your side & actively select the narrative to which you’ll listen & entertain / converse with, keeping in mind the respective outcomes that go with each side 🙂
““I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In Luke 5:32, Jesus told the religious leaders these words in reply to their complaint about Him eating & drinking with shady characters. And throughout all of Luke 5, the people who get a sharp tongue from Jesus are the religious leaders.
As I’ve thought about this, maybe Jesus was loving this group of people by being cranky & confrontational because they were deceived. Perhaps Jesus wanted to heal the deception in their lives so they could have an intimate relationship w Him & they needed the non-gentle approach. Let’s remember that genuine love celebrates truth 🙂
Jesus left a crowd of people where He was appreciated and valued so He could help a raving lunatic. In Mark 5:1-20, we read about a man who was completely undone and thoroughly tormented by loads of demons. He was demon possessed and was living a very tortured, painful and isolated life. When he was described in these verses, I was deeply moved by his tragic existence. He would roam the tombs & mountains with no human contact, gashing himself, screaming and unclothed with no hope of reprieve or help – until Jesus came.
When we come across people in our lives who are broken, hurting, dysfunctional, crazy, hostile, erratic and even barbaric, let’s be willing to see past these descriptions and difficulties to see a human in need of love and redemption. Let’s remember that the enemy of humanity is seeking to torture, deceive and destroy humans in any way possible. On the other side, Jesus wants to work through us to bring love, healing and redemption! Let’s make sure we stay on Jesus’ side 🙂
I’ve been seeing some interesting stuff about fake news. It’s not surprising to me that there’s an increase in fake news since the regular news seems to have some questionable assumptions & untrustworthy conclusions.
What we want is true news – stuff that’s objective & accountable. We want to listen / see news that has been researched & proven to be reliable. We want news that’s proven to be balanced & accurate over long amounts of time.
But let’s never forget or ignore that Good News is ground zero. And here’s the Good News:
Jesus loves you
Jesus doesn’t change
Jesus is sovereign
Regardless of the fake-ness or truth of the news that’s reported, the Good News is reliable, immutable & eternal!
I want to think that I’m genuine & forthright. I don’t want to think that I am either deceived or deceptive. But alas, in Jeremiah 17:9, it says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
So it’s important to acknowledge that we can trick ourselves into thinking & believing things that aren’t true.
When we think & believe things that are untrue, even if just slightly, we put ourselves at high risk to live in distortion & dysfunction.
The best vaccination for deception is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls the Spirit of truth. Let’s make it a platinum priority in our lives to be led into truth by the Holy Spirit – John 16:13
Do you ever think about your thoughts? Or the motivations for things that you do? It seems to me that the thought processes, feelings, motivations and our internal mindsets have massive affects on our choices, conversations, attitudes and actions. So if our thinking or emotions have been poisoned by the enemy (who comes to steal, kill & destroy), then it makes sense that the behaviors, conversations etc can be dysfunctional & corrupt.
Here’s a good example: have you met people who have a chip on their shoulder, or think that nobody likes them or maybe they’ve been victimized & carry that mindset throughout their daily living? There’s probably good reasons behind why they behave the way that they do. But let’s remember this truth: we have a free will to make different choices.
So here are a few things for consideration:
Take a pause & reflect: why am I doing / saying this?
Is my behavior / conversation / attitude coming from a place of brokenness or distortion?
Welcome the Holy Spirit into the places where you sense such brokenness & distortion / deception
Let the Holy Spirit help you make different choices – Romans 8:26 🙂
“You must not turn aside for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver because they are futile.” 1 Samuel 12:21
Samuel spoke these words to the Israelites after Saul was confirmed as their first king & I can’t help but think that these words apply to my life. Do I pursue futile things? I want to answer, “no”, but if I’m truthful, I pursue futile things. For example, when I’m painfully honest, I pursue popularity & applause from people, getting frustrated when I don’t get enough. I pursue an adrenaline rush when I consider adding kite boarding to my hobby list. I pursue futile things when I get sidetracked with making image more important than genuine love. I pursue futile things when I let my intellectual appetites undermine my spiritual development. These dont have to be exclusive, but I know myself well enough to know that my intellect can lead me on endless rabbit trails away from walking with the Holy Spirit.
What might be some futile things in your life that would distract you from growing in your walk with Jesus?
Have you seen the cars that are started by pushing a button rather than using a key in the ignition? It seems like the “button pushing” concept is growing more common & it’s a nice upgrade for simplifying life, but for one massive exception:
Each of us have various buttons that cause us to react in various ways – some good & some, not so much. Rather than thinking in terms of people pushing your buttons & causing you to react, maybe it would be more helpful to think about the buttons that we have & why.
Instead of getting upset about people pushing your buttons, I think it’s more productive to think about what those buttons are & why we have them. This journey starts with accepting the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth & then agreeing to let the Holy Spirit lead us in truth. Without that decision, we’ll stay in perpetual bondage to the button pushing slavery & victim to the internal triggers that remain hidden but manipulated by the enemy of our soul.
Think about your personal buttons & ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about these buttons to you!
There’s loads of emphasis on making healthy choices, particularly with our eating, exercise & uses of time & money. I’m continually coaching my kids to Mae healthy choices & I’m abundantly clear that God coaches me along these lines as well. Here are some specific areas for making healthy choices:
Advocate or Accuse: let’s be aware that accusing is what the devil does & advocating is what the Holy Spirit does. Which choice is your natural default?
Convict or Condemn: condemning is when there’s a dead end & no hope to change, grown or improve – everything the devil works to accomplish. Conviction happens when the Holy Spirit speaks in our hearts about something that’s wrong, endeavoring to help us change.
Truth Or Lie: Jesus says in John 8:44 that the devil’s natural language is lying but a few chapters later, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth. If we tolerate white lies or incremental truths we need to consider if we are listening to the devil more than the Holy Spirit :!
In our home, one of my kid’s weekly responsibilities is to do the laundry for all of us. I often think that this child is shrinking my clothes from setting the dryer too high. But alas, we both know that this misconception is rooted in my desire to eat freely without consequences.
I think all of us have the ability to believe what we want & dismiss what we don’t like. This is another essential reason we desperately need the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus tells us in John 16 that the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth & in our modern living, we need an abundance of truth, full stop. Let’s make the ongoing decision to follow the Holy Spirit in truth even at the expense of eating less & exercising more 🙂
Maybe I’m the only person to struggle with his, but I find it challenging to be truthful & sincerely loving at the same time. For me, this is a tricky balance because I find it easier to be loving & less truthful or more truthful but less loving.
In Proverbs 3:3, it says that we should keep both love & truth around our neck & written on the tablets of our heart. In this verse, we don’t get to pick one over the other, love over truth or truth over love. Instead, we are to blend them together as they connect our head to our body (as a necklace) & permanently inscribed on our hearts to inform our core values & define our actions, conversations & outlook.
With the Holy Spirit helping us, let’s blend love & truth throughout our daily living!
I have a child who is in the process of a vertical learning curve related to blame or responsibility. This is a nice way to say that blaming other people facilitates irresponsibility & this is no bueno.
These conversations challenge me to look at areas in my life where I might be blaming people & not taking responsibility for my actions, words & attitudes.
I’m seeing with stark clarity that the attempts to blame others limits my ability to grow & improve.
Are there places in your life where you seem quagmired? Is it possible that you might need to think about being proactive & taking responsibility for the things you can change?
Let’s be sure that we let the Holy Spirit speak truth into our hearts so that we don’t deceive ourselves, limiting how much we grow & improve.
I’m currently watching my friend’s daughter use a laser pointer for entertainment, with their cat chasing the laser. She shines the laser on the floor & the cat pounces on the red dot, only to find that the dot has leaped beyond his grasp to another spot on the floor. Looks like it could provide some amusement for at least several minutes.
Seems like the devil gets us in this game as well. He dangles something shiny in front of us, we pounce & find that the shiny bait evaporates to reappear somewhere else. We think that being pretty is the same thing as being significant. We think that being smart makes us valuable. We think that achievements or promotions make us important.
While our looks, intelligence & achievements are important, let’s remember that our value & significance is because Jesus loves us, full stop 🙂
“Bow down to me & I’ll give you all that you see.” This was the final temptation the devil tried against Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. I’ve been thinking about the 3 ways the devil tried to tempt Jesus – against His flesh, worship & power / authority.
It seems to me that the devil uses the same schemes on us. He tries to tempt us with flesh stuff. He tries to sabotage our worship of God using alluring idols (money, image, pride, intellect, etc). And the devil endeavors to undermine the authority God has given us, telling us that we are frail, powerless, disabled & incapacitated. I think the devil’s number one tool is deception. This is reason alone to snuggle into the Holy Spirit, our Spirit of Truth, so we don’t fall prey to the devils’ efforts & schemes.
Be sure to read my book, Heavenly Help, so you can stay in synch with the Holy Spirit & out of synch with the devil, the enemy of your soul!
“How come all these awful things have happened?” Ever ask God this kind of a question? I think probably everyone alive has asked God some variation of this question & the Bible shows people asking God the same stuff.
I’m reading about Gideon & I seriously appreciate his honesty with the angel at the beginning of their conversation: If God is with us, how come all this stuff has happened to us? This was in reply the the angel’s salutation, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior”
Gideon’s initial behavior & words didn’t really confirm that he was a valiant warrior & if we are honest, there are lots of times when our behavior & words don’t express that we are valiant. Nevertheless, God knows our substance & potential so God speaks to our true self rather than the smokescreen insecurities we wear. Not only does God call us by our true identity but God also helps us know who He is, as Gideon acknowledges when he experiences God as the Lord our peace in Judges 6:23-24.
So let’s make it a premium value to be honest with God so that we can honestly know God 🙂
Seriously, the enemy of your soul wants to deceive and steal your identity every second of your life & often we are totally clueless to these efforts. It’s his oldest trick from the beginning with Adam & Eve. This book by my friend Robby is super helpful & brand new!!
I’d also strongly encourage you to buy: Do What Jesus Did Also by Robby & totally a blast!!