Send Them Away

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

His first disciples seemed eager to send people away.  Before Jesus fed the five thousand, before he placed the child on his lap, the followers of Jesus first sought to send them away.  Let them find their own food.  Let them find acceptance and love from less important people.

Both responses were rebuked.

“You feed them.”

But they couldn’t.  They didn’t have enough.  And they were right.  Not in their hands and not in their hearts, truthfully they did not have enough.

“Don’t hinder them.”

No question of whether the disciples had anything to offer here, and children smell a fake a mile away anyway.

Now I’m not writing to rebuke anyone, but to ask a question.

Are you hungry?  Come to church, come to God’s word, come to His heart.

Are you lost and hurting?  Just come straight to Him.  His people can help you and those who know Him best help the most.  His word, the Bible, is rich in healing and talks so deeply of His love.  But come to Him.

Seek His presence, listen for His voice.

All He is asking, right now, is for you to come.

Ridiculous

It makes me laugh to hear it now.

For years the accusation from satan has been to point out what a ridiculous person I am.

And it’s the truth.

When I cheer for someone, I sound like I’m angry (apparently) and I yell till I’m hoarse.  When I sing in worship, I get kind of pitchy, I often sing harmony and I sing till I’m hoarse. I’m overweight but dance and jump.  I laugh out loud, in church, with people watching.  

I’m not sure why the last two matter but I’ve been told it’s inappropriate.

I think the accuser is often honest in what he says.  He just doesn’t want to acknowledge God’s perspective.  It’s like that with lots of things.  And he isn’t the only one saying it.

We say it to ourselves.

I’m ugly.

I’m fat.

I’m stupid.

No one could ever love me.

So that’s two voices speaking the same truths.

And there are other voices too.

Ha!  But it doesn’t matter.

We have heard how God says He loves us.  We “know” he says we are beautiful, precious, worthy.  And we know that’s not true.

But here’s the thing, and I hope I’m saying this right.  God’s lies are more true than anybody else’s truth.  How He sees us matters more than anyone else’s opinions.

I’m not there yet.  And if I try to convince myself of God’s truths it turns into ego and religion.  I think the only thing I can handle right now is looking at Him more than I look at myself.

And He is beautiful!

And I’ll just accept that I’m ridiculous…

And keep dancing!

Time to Change

I think it’s time for a change.
I’ve been the bitter worshipper long enough and God has been way too good for me to rest there.

Let me elucidate.

I’ve been married for almost twenty seven years and in that time have given her so many reasons to leave, to give up. But she still loves me.

I’ve made so many mistakes.  Failed over and over again. Yet found the strength to stand.

Others have “failed” me, rejected me, disappointed me. But the gates of my heart are still open. 

I have yelled at God, fought Him at every turn.  And despite that, He holds on, He will not give up!

I’ve been bitter but God is changing me.

The tumors of fear and addiction have been removed.  The cancerous lies of Satan have been exposed and treated with the healing power of His great love.

I’m done with being angry.

I’m having too much fun being alive!

All Righteousness 

Righteousness is a word that gives me a curiously unpleasant feeling inside.  My mind immediately goes to self-righteous people and to my own lack of righteousness.

I have never done many things “right.”

I was reading today in Matthew 3:13-17 and there’s something I don’t understand.  Jesus said he wanted to be baptized to, “fulfill all righteousness.”  But he never sinned, from the moment he was born till the day he died he never ever sinned.  Seems like that would “fulfill all righteousness” better than getting dunked in the water.  And John’s baptism was for repentance, he was calling people to turn away from the things they were doing wrong.  He even challenges Jesus on this, basically saying, “what do you have to be sorry for?”

I know I’ve done wrong, a lot.  Why is this story there?

Maybe, just maybe, I need to see how Jesus laid down his life before he ever did anything.  Sure, he gave up his life to complete his work on the earth.  He was a miracle worker and teacher by then, a certified leader, a rabbi.  But God didn’t even call his son to ministry until after Jesus laid down his will, his life through the act of baptism.

Many of us want to be used to do something great for God.  I certainly do.  What am I holding onto? What am I unwilling to submit to?  What can I just not lay down?  It is likely the same thing that is keeping me from freedom, binding me to depression, holding victory and peace just beyond my reach.

And I’m sick of it.  I’m tired of holding on to what is actually killing me.

I’ll never be righteous but I’ll step closer as I open my hands.

I Quit

I quit my job last week.  I still don’t have a job.  We have no money (well, very little).  I have only sent out one application for a job that I might not get.

This is a picture that I would not want to paint for anyone, and certainly did not want to paint for myself.

Everything is wrong except the part where I tell God that I’ll obey Him.  Now it has taken me a while to obey Him, but I did it in the end.

I tried to work up an emotional frenzy to decide to obey.  I became angry and bitter, largely because I wanted an easier path to obedience.  I wanted assurances that obedience wouldn’t cost me more than I could afford, or that there would be a payoff I could see before I chose to obey.

Yeah, faith in God doesn’t work that way.

I knew the stories of the priests stepping into the raging Jordan River, the worshipers, not the soldiers, that lead the charge into battle, Ananias going to meet with the murderous Saul of Tarsus.  But I really wanted an easier path, one with less risk involved.

In the middle of it, when I am experiencing the turmoil of fears and a peace that is beyond understanding, do I get to see God.  Worship is different and has taken on new meaning, and that is good.

I don’t want my praise, my prayers to be lying platitudes to a God I don’t believe in.

I want to fly.

My Purpose, My Calling

We hear a lot about hearing God’s call, following God’s calling for you, receiving the call to ministry, finding your purpose in life.  Are you looking for that dream job, the career of a lifetime.  Well hold on to your seats kiddies!

I have the answer for those who are searching.  And if you thought you found your calling and now feel unfulfilled, I have an answer for you too.

I know, who knew such wisdom rested in this earthen vessel but, prepare to be amazed.

Your calling, your purpose, your life’s ambition is fulfilled in following the same call that Jesus yielded to.

Your purpose, my purpose, your calling and mine, is to die.

Well that just sucks!

Yeah, I wanted something cool and amazing, preferably center stage and that paid well.  Second best would be something behind the scenes, you know, nobody sees you but you’re making things happen.  Those on stage depend on you.  You are needed.

But then I looked at Jesus.  His calling wasn’t to do miracles, though he did some of those as well.  His purpose was clearly not to be king, or even start a religion.  He stated that his purpose was to “do the will of the Father.”  And the final act of that was to give his life up.

I saw “the Passion of the Christ” one time.  As I watched what happened to him, I cried.  I balled.  And I kept asking why?  Why would he do that for someone like me?  Why would he do that when he knew how I would receive it?  How I would throw the shit of my sin on the priceless gift of his love?

There is no explanation for why that my mind can comprehend.  But he accepted that price.

And now he calls to me.  He beckons me with his scarred hands, with the love, that held him to his purpose and to the cross, shining over me.

How will I answer him when He longs to take me through the cross?  How will I submit when it is more than my salvation that is at stake, when it will cost me everything?

“Not my will but yours, Lord.”

The Weight of the World

I deal with depression from time to time.  Things don’t always seem to go the way I want them to.  It can feel so heavy as to be unbearable.  I remember the times that taking my life was a better alternative than facing one more day.

I have looked at Jesus.  I have scoffed at the verse that says he was tempted in the same way I am tempted.  He never knew failure.  He never knew guilt and shame.  And because of this, I minimized his sacrifice on the cross.

He died.  Many people during the Roman occupation died, suffering for longer than Jesus did.  They were beaten too, mocked, humiliated.  It becomes a common theme when a ruling force ceases to value life, to respect something other.

I have looked at it differently this year.  God has been teaching me.

I know what it feels like to be rejected for a job, a ministry position, a loved one.  He knew the rejection of every person he had come to save.  They didn’t want him.

I know shame and failure from my own sin.  He knew the shame and failure of being the King of Creation and being nailed to that cross.  At some moment, though he knows all things, must have hoped that his love, his miraculous power, his wisdom and grace should have been enough to reach the world.  But it wasn’t.  His closest friends denied him.

And then I think about the weight of what I carry, the burdens I carry.  Then I multiply by the number of people living right now and add that to those that lived before, knowing that I am not alone in what crushes me.  And in that moment on the cross, I see him lifting that weight.  Not just the weight of the crossbeam of the cross but the weight of guilt and shame, the weight of failure and sin, the weight of hatred and lust and fear and every sin under the sun.

I see my Hero standing up under what would crush the rest of us.  And not only did he lift it once, he carried it and HE DEFEATED IT!!!

Amazing, truly awesome!

He did it all to set us free from it.  No one could do what He did.  I can not loose the chains that have bound me.  But He can, He did.

I don’t even know what the proper, appropriate response to this should be.  My singing, my dancing, my bended knees, my clapping and every note I could ever play, my life is not enough.

I will give it anyway.  It is all that I have.