slow down

Let me give one example of what it means to live a Jesus kind of life.

Take kindness.

You see the word “kindness” being thrown around a lot today. It’s big in advertising. Branding statements. All the good branding statements are biblical. Like Northridge hospital, part of the Dignity Health organizations. Branding statement.

“Hello humankindness”

Well, I’ve noticed not one of the businesses talking about being kind or kindness has the #1 solution as to how you can actually make progress in your kindness.

You know why we have a tough time actually being kind? We have a tough time being kind because we are too rushed to get things done.

Haste has worry, fear, and anger as close associates.

Hast is a deadly enemy of kindness and hence haste is the enemy of love.

This is why when you are running all over the place, trying to get from here to there, you’re not someone anyone else wants to be around. Deadlines, being late, rushing because you have so many things to do…well you need help.

You are the person who is speeding in and out of traffic from one red light to the next so you can get some place 38 seconds faster.

You are the pushy guy elbowing me aside so you can get checked out at the store as quickly as possible. You are the mom who doesn’t have time to notice your kid is usually quiet today, because you’ve got to get her to the next practice or the next lesson or something else you came up with that you thought would be good for her so she could get ahead or get in the right school or at least do better than you did. There is one thing the overbooked and rushed kid will learn. She will learn to be unkind too.

Is this you?

Are you rushing for your life?

Or are your rushing from the life Jesus wants for you?

Yes, think of Jesus. Find me one example of Jesus rushing to get something done?. Show me in the Bible one place where Jesus overbooked? Where Jesus got irritated.

No, you can’t, because Jesus didn’t live a life where is too rushed to get things done. No matter what is happening around him, Jesus is the picture of kindness.

Why is Jesus so calm? So unrushed, and so, yes, kind?

Because he is a human being who realizes life goes on.

Well, I have a solution. If being too rushed is making you unkind, and if you don’t believe this is happening ask those rushing with you. If this is your problem, you may greatly be helped by doing what Jesus did frequently. Spend a day of silence and solitude so you can see the world survives without your activity. The world isn’t going to end if you aren’t rushing to get there.

Oh but that is impossible! That would be so hard!

OK, another way you can learn the world goes on without your activity is to have a serious accident or illness. Another way to discover the world will actually survive without your input.

What will it be? The worry, fear and anger of rushing all over the place? The unkindness the rest of us have to put up with?

Maybe a good sickness or accident will save you…

Or, how about silence and solitude? That sounds about right to me, eh?

You seem when we prayerfully consider the damage done by our unkindness, and honestly compare it to what, if anything is really gained by our hurry, we will come to understand that for the most part our hurry is really based upon pride, self-importance, fear, and lack of faith, and rarely upon the production of anything of true value for anyone.

And to think this is only one example of living the new creation. To do this one thing, stop rushing everything and everybody, this one thing can change your world.

ME

When do you find yourself rushing?

Jesus is the Pioneer

Yes, Jesus is the answer. Jesus dies but he is raised from the dead. So, get connected to Jesus and stay connected to Jesus and watch what happens.

Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with the heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm.

Start thinking like Jesus would think if he were in your situation.

Do you think Jesus loses hope? Look at the way he lived. If there was anyone who was a victim, misunderstood, lied to, lied about, hated. But, he didn’t try to blame everyone else for trying to make his life miserable. Of all people who have the right to call himself a victim, it’s Jesus. If anyone could say life is unfair and he is being attacked and he doesn’t deserve it, it’s Jesus. If anyone had the right to strike back, take revenge, attack those who were attacking him, it’s Jesus.

But, he just keeps living. He knows where his power and honor and authority rest. With God.

The world doesn’t have any answers to the dying and rising.

Jesus knew the answer. Knows the answer. Connected to God, you may be dying to some real life right now, but,

Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ.

Jesus knows this. You can too. Nothing can keep you dead.

Here’s the facts of life.

You don’t belong in the old world or the old world’s thinking.

You are raised with Christ, so you possess a true life in God’s new world, the heavenly world.

The real you is now found in the heavenly world.

You are God’s son. You are God’s daughter. If you don’t see it, you will. 

And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with him in his glory!

Here is the truth. The heavenly world is not a super-spiritual world that is going to leave the created world behind.

The biblical picture is of God one day flooding the present creation with the new life which is currently in the heavenly realm.

In other words, one day Jesus the Messiah, who can’t be directly seen with our old world eyes will appear again. All of existence will be transformed and what is at present unseen will become visible, and earth and heaven will be joined forever in the fulfilled new creation.

When this happens, all those who are in Christ, whose death and present true life is hidden with Christ in God, will appear as well, as the glorious renewed human beings they already really are.

That’s you. That’s me.

Who we really are will be revealed.

So, now that we know this, we discover a new way towards a genuine good life where we learn to think of things from a heavenly perspective, seeing things though God’s eyes, as it were. Not seeing things that belong to the present world of decay. The world of unfairness. The world of suffering.

You think things through rather than just going with the flow of the world.

When you grow in Christ, your mind itself grasps the truth that you have died to the old ways of seeing things and your life has been hidden with Jesus in God.  When your mind grasps this, then your choices, your will, starts to follow through. You begin to live that new creation and you are glad to be doing just that! 

You can live that life right now.

ME

What are some old ways of seeing things you might die to?

 

life is suffering

Only when you see yourself as a victim do you lose hope. When you give in to the suffering or resentment.

Because there is something else true of life for every single one of us.

Life is suffering and life isn’t fair.

We live in an irrational age. We live in an age where the big lie is life is divided into victims and oppressors.

It’s so easy to blame society, blame our culture, blame somebody else out there for your problems.

That is so naiive.

Suffering is what we all experience one way or another. There is no clean dividing line between victimhood and oppressor.   There is no answer in pointing outside of yourself to find the answer to all of your problems.

Your problems are 100% your problems. No, you can’t always help what happens to you. But, you are responsible for how you respond. If you are a teenager or older, you are 100% responsible for your attitudes and actions. There is only one answer. Jesus.

Yes, he dies but he was raised from the dead.

So, get connected to Jesus and stay connected to Jesus and watch what happens.

ME

How have you been suffering lately?

Losing Hope?

Colossians 3:1-4

Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection, too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honor and authority!

We are closely bound to Jesus as his followers. What is true of Jesus is true of us.
It may not feel like it.

Learning to believe what doesn’t at the moment feel true is an essential part of being a Christian.
And the fact is, we only act on what we believe.

Believe means trust. We might say we believe in something, but we don’t really believe it if we don’t act as if it is true.

That’s why we can’t let how we feel get in the way of the truth.

When it comes to Jesus there are two key things that are true of him that are also true of us.

One he died.
Two he was raised from the dead.

When we think of it this way, we realize all of existence is about this same thing. Mini-episodes of dying and rising.
Life is suffering. There is so much brokenness that goes on in our lives that it is never a matter of if we will suffer, only when.

If your parents are aging, every time the phone rings and it is your immediate family, you instantly have a thought, “Now what’s wrong?”
Dad fell.
Mom has to go back on chemo.
Think of those who are dealing with sick kids right now.
Or kids who are suffering in different ways.
I have several friends right now whose adult children are battling in some really dark places.
Life is hard. Life is suffering and it all has to do with dying to something. Or literally dying.

Now, what do you do about it?
Do you sit back and wait for the inevitable?
Do you give up hope?
No, hope is what is absolutely don’t give up.
What is true of Jesus is true of you.
Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection, too.
You are alive in Christ. He will not let you lose hope and enter despair. He will shine in the dark places in your life.
What you need is in the heavens. From heaven, Jesus is offering you what you need to face the little deaths of your lives at anytime. Not just the big death, where you die physically and leave this earthly life.

O, we are all going die in that way. No, it’s about living. Currently, we are all living and there is so much to live for!
Jesus is about living the heavenly life here on earth.
You see, he has the power, the honor, and the authority.
There is no one who can tell you to lose hope.

ME

What are your greatest concerns right now?

Worry?

You know how something that is so obvious can also be something profound? Here is one of those things:

God isn’t worried about anything.

God has concerns.

God is a compassionate God.

But, God doesn’t worry about anything.

 

So, here is an amazing question.

If God isn’t worried about anything, then why should I worry?

Worry will not help. Importantly, worry will not help me make decisions. Why? Too much worry can’t help me make decisions.

When we are highly stressed our brains don’t work correctly.

Consider this. According to brain research, when we worry, or are overwhelmed by other negative emotions like anger or shame, our brain disengages. We literally aren’t able to figure out solutions that may be helpful because our brain isn’t in a processing mode.

And the other thing that happens is we can’t engage with God. The part of our brain that sees things through God’s eyes is clouded over.

Because the solution to whatever is bothering us needs insight from God and needs good thinking, worrying becomes a barrier.

What does that say about making decisions out of fear?

Anxious people make poor decisions.

We see this in our families. We see this at work. We also see how misguided we are when we choose to use language to increase the anxiety level of those around us on purpose. In brain research, there is a term for this. Anxiety-producing behavior. In Christian faith we have a term for this, too. Iniquity. A deformity of how we communicate.

We see this all the time in government and politics, as well. We make decisions that are based on the least amount of good thinking possible. Any actions we take which are attempting to increase anxiety and worry, any anxiety-producing behavior we exhibit, the less likely anything good will come out of it. Listen to the language of politics and government. It is based on hysteria and crisis. The more of this panic we feel, the less likely our brains will be engaged.

It’s not by accident that some of the poorest decision making possible comes out of efforts to increase the anxiety level of the people around you. In fact, when we use the big negative emotions of fear, anger, or shame to support our cause, we guarantee poor thinking and poor decisions will be the result.

If we follow Jesus, we don’t need to get caught up in this. Faith is confidence that with God, everything is going to be fine in the end.

God isn’t worried about this.

So why should we worry? We don’t need anxiety, we need trust.

ME

What is worrying you lately? How might you make progress?

Listener

But being a good listener is hard. I know, God designed us mainly for listening. The old saying goes, That’s why we have two ears and only one mouth.

Yet, to be a really good listener it is not the ears as much as it is the eyes that give a sign of what is really being said. The eyes are the main way we learn and the main way we listen. From the beginning when mommy and baby’s eyes connect, this is how we show someone we care and are glad to be with them.

But, there are other times when you are a good listener and someone says you aren’t listening to them. This happens to us when we are listening closely, but the person says we aren’t listening to them, and what they really mean is, “You don’t agree with me.”

Listening is how we relate to each other and make progress in relationship. In order to have joy in our lives and to learn to love like God loves, it takes making progress in our relationships with others.

Listening is also a way to connect someone to the love of God. When God joins us in this Gospel listening, he gives us insight in what is being communicated, and how God might respond through us.

We are given the same opportunity as Jesus to invite the Holy Spirit into our listening.

Matthew 12:25

Now, Jesus supernaturally perceived their thoughts and motives…”

Mark 2:8

Jesus supernaturally perceived their thoughts…

Luke 6:8

Jesus, knowing their every thought…

Luke 11:17

Jesus, well aware of their every thought…

Acts 15:8

God, who knows the hearts of every person, confirmed this when he gave them the Holy Spirit, just like he has given the Spirit to us.

When we are in conversation with others, we get to listen like Jesus listened. Of course, for Jesus, this often starts with questions.

Who do you say I am?

Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?

What do you want me to do for you?

It’s interesting when we think of Jesus with all the answers. Actually, he didn’t just spout out wisdom, Jesus asks a lot of questions.

He is interested in what is being said and how it might be joined with God’s story.

We can listen the same way. With the supernatural insight of the Holy Spirit working through us.

Listen

Why do you think that so many of us are such poor listeners?

My problem is not if I am a good listener when you mean, “am I  processing what you are saying?” I hear exactly what you are saying, but there are times it doesn’t look like it with body language and eye contact. Especially if I am in a social setting. Then, I can hear all the conversations around me and can tell you what everyone else is saying, too! So, I’ve learned to focus on eye contact and body language to be sure my attention is being received as attention.

I have gotten much better at paying attention because I have to listen closely in order to understand our grandchildren. Sometimes, I actually am reading lips to get the phrase.

You don’t want to miss, “I have to go pee pee” or worse, “My stomach hurts” which is code language for “I have to go more than just pee pee!”

But, we do have a hard time listening. Some of us are scanners in social situations. What’s a scanner. We’re having a conversation with someone and when we are doing the talking they are looking around as if saying, “There is a better conversation opportunity over out there somewhere.”

Or you have the famous, “my cell phone is ringing. “ I am in conversation with you and my cell phone rings and so I naturally stop listening to you and answer the phone. Like because it is a miniature computer and it is demanding my immediate attention, it is more important than my in-person face-to-face conversation.

No, if it is that important. They will call back.

Thursday, my friend and I were watching a video on brain skills and learning and how important it is to connect to someone face to face, live, in person, and how important it is to be focused in listening and then his phone rings and he answers it!

I just started laughing!

ME

When are you best at listening?

IMG_8830Being God’s son I have Identity, Authority and Power. You see, if I am God’s son, then I am the son of the King and I have his royal authority to bless his creation, and God gives me the power to do just that. Be a blessing as God works through me.

But, that’s not what I heard growing up. Well-meaning Christians failed me again.

You see, I got to the stories of Jesus but I was misinformed. I was told how great Jesus was and all the amazing things he did through miracles and such, how his prays were answered, but no one once told me I ought to expect to see some of these same things in my own life.

No one told me that the things of heaven are available today. No one told me it’s not about dying and going to heaven, it’s about living and having heaven break in here on earth from time to time.

Jesus was human. Not a little bit human, or “pretend” human, he was human. God comes as Jesus and he empties himself of his divine nature. So, all those things we hear about in the Bible that Jesus did are done by someone who is simply walking closer with God, but he is no different than you or me in his makeup. It is not impossible for us to do the things Jesus did if we follow God like he followed God. Jesus said it himself.

He said, you will do greater things than I did…

And God has showed up in power in countless people’s lives in miraculous ways and we might miss it completely. We may be ignorant of the history of God’s people since the time of Jesus, or we might not want to believe this because it “isn’t happening to me.” We say, “O, that’s just Jesus, or that’s his disciples, I can’t be used by God to bring healing, or forgive my enemies like he did and such.”

But that’s exactly what we can do! We are part of the rescue and restoration.

IMG_8813

I grew up on the stories of God and his people. From my own parents and grandparents, my teachers at church, they would all tell me these amazing stories about the great heroes like Abraham or Isaac or Jacob or Moses or King David…with the moral of the story being if you can be like them, you too, will shine.

But, as I got older, I read the Bible for myself, and I read about these same guys again, andI saw how they are all broken and petty and vindictive, and not larger than life perfect heroes at all.

Abraham slept with his wife’s servant so he could have a son to carry on his family history, his wife Sarah encourages this, because neither one of them trusted God to come through.

But God does come through and they have a son Isaac who plays such favorites between his twin sons Jacob and Esau, Abraham loves Esau best. So, Rachel his wife gets mad and favors Jacob and he became a momma’s boy and together they trick Isaac into giving Jacob the family inheritance even though it belongs to Esau.This almost caused the story of God’s people destroying each other.

Then when Jacob had his own kids, he didn’t learn a thing about playing favorites from his own disastrous life. He decides to play favorites with his son Joseph, having him tattle on his older brothers, like a spy. Not surprising this doesn’t go well, and again God’s chosen servant nearly destroys God’s promised inheritance with sibling jealousy.

Finally, Moses clears things up and eventually leads the people to the promised land. But he starts thinking he has the power to do things on his own and so starts acting like God. He suffers the consequences of this sin and doesn’t even get to finish his journey and enter the promised land himself.

And don’t get me started with David the greatest King. Amazing model of faith and also a creeper who just happens to see a woman naked, wants to sleep with her, so he has her husband knocked off like a mafia don, and then he marries her and they don’t live happily ever after.

Again and again the real Bible shows real people and again and again. But, if we are told these stories as if everyone is great and wonderful, big heroes we miss the whole point. People are not God and whenever we try to run our own lives things eventually turn out in disaster. Only God is great and wonderful and only God is worthy of our trust in him. And God can take anything the brokenness and pain we cause ourselves or what happens to us and make good come out in the end.

It is God who is great and wonderful. God’s love never fails.

If you actually honestly read the Bible, God really only seems to work through brokenness.

ME

Do you have times you try to do things without considering God is with you? Think about it…

Creation

From the beginning, God is putting his trust in people. We may continue to let God down, but God doesn’t give up. And you know what, a remnant, a small group of people have always come to God, broken and receptive and God has always shown up. No more is this more true than Jesus, who took all the promises of God to his people Israel, and fulfilled them himself. Now all people can come to God through Jesus and the path we take may vary, but it is the same journey.

This journey is repeated again and again. In God’s Big Story and the stories of all of us created by him.

Creation, where we come into relationship with our loving God.

Fall, where the brokenness of our world rears up through our own actions in life or the things that happen to us.

Redemption or Rescue, where God who is faithful and never leaves us and brings us through any trials we face, picking up our broken pieces and molding us again as we become stronger through our weakness.

Restoration where God continues to work through us as we are receptive to him, and we find ourselves in the remarkable position of working with God as he works through us and blesses and restores his creation.

Creation, Fall, Rescue, and Restoration becomes the pattern of our story in the midst of God’s Big Story.