Opposite Attraction

I come to this with some fear and trembling.  So do me and your pastor and your family a favor, if you’re not going to read the whole thing, stop here.

Still with me?

Ok, good, let’s move on.

“He’s a coward,” the lie came whispering.  I was thinking about a pastor, one of my pastors, and that is what I thought.  It felt so real, so true.  I felt myself agreeing, believing it.

Now, maybe he isn’t the bravest man alive, but anybody who knows anything about the pastors at my church know that they are not cowards.  Especially when it comes to the Word of God.

So why did I think and start believing what I knew wasn’t true?  Did it make me look better, feel better about my place in life?  Or was it just from the “father of lies?”

Does it matter?

It was a lie.

What is the advantage or who gains an advantage by my belief a lie?  

We get these thoughts from time to time.  In marriage we can get them a lot.  

“He’s a bum.”

“Why did I ever marry her?”

And to these lies, and the ones like them that surround everyone I meet, I like to apply the principle of opposite attraction.

It works like this.

“That pastor is a coward.”  I pray to the opposite.  “God, I thank you for his boldness in standing for you.  I stand with him as he fearlessly lives for you.”

“Why did I marry her?”  The opposite, “thank you for bringing her into my life.”

Here’s the hard part, sometimes it isn’t actually a full out lie.  But make no mistake, a truth that leads us to hate someone is never a complete truth.

“He’s unfaithful.”

“She hates me.”

Oh precious, broken heart, be drawn to the opposite.

“Raise him up to be faithful.  I believe You are working in him to give his heart completely to You.  You are making him a man of God.”

“She is loving and blessed.  I believe You are softening her heart to love despite the hurts she has endured.  You are creating a woman of God who trusts completely in You.”

And in praying to the opposite our hearts can be drawn to the possibility of the opposite.  Our anger and fear dissipate in the presence of the God who says, “all things are possible.”  Our trust is placed in the only one we should ever completely place it in.  And the noise of all the lies diminishes.

Turmoil is replaced by peace.  Depression is replaced by power.

Hate is replaced by love.  

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The Story of Donkey

A man got a donkey one day.  It wasn’t big or amazingly strong but he needed it to help him carry his burdens.

The donkey was faithful, though often he was slow.  He was strong but the more weight the man put on him, the slower he seemed to go.  He was a gentle donkey but, well, like I said, he was slow.

The man kept the donkey for many years but used him less and less for he was not a patient man.  He would carry his own burdens, though it hurt his back and damaged his knees.  It just drove him to frustration that his donkey was so slow.

One day, he found himself far from home, alone, in a place he did not recognize.  He heard wolves calling and voices in dark places and the donkey just seemed to be plodding.  His burdens were great and he shared some of them with the donkey, but wouldn’t lay too much on him for fear of them stopping altogether.

The attack came out of nowhere.  Robbers had lain waiting for just the right moment then jumped out of hiding to steal, to kill, to destroy. But as fast as they were, they were not fast enough.  The donkey spun and kicked and bit, braying viciously.

At seeing the donkey fighting, the man fought to but only succeeded in receiving a knife wound in his side and a club to his head.  As he fell, he felt the donkey come under him, so he grabbed on with all his might.  The donkey thundered away, carrying the man, his burdens and the burdens he had lain on the beast.  The thieves were left far behind.

God is not a donkey.  But I treat Him that way.  I am angry with His mannerisms, His “slowness”, His “smallness”.  But, He is only slow from my perspective, only small in my eyes.

We stupidly see God as something fathomable, comprehendable from our, in our finite minds.  The best that my heart can understand of who God is, His love, His power, His majesty, is but a donkey compared to HIS reality.

That shames me.

THAT BLESSES ME!

I’ve Got Nothing 

I can be angry, kind, lustful, peaceful, joyous, morose, and a whole gamut of things that don’t make any sense or seemingly even fit together.  

So can you.

I bring skills and experience, life and wisdom.  There are actually some things that I am pretty good at (I know!  Shocker!)

So do you.  So are you.

But really, compared to God’s strength, wisdom, greatness, purity, holiness, love, I have nothing.  I am nothing.

Today, we hear so much about a child’s potential.  That if they put their mind to it, they can do anything.  That if we come together in world peace and tolerance, we can fix this world.  If we read this book, attend this conference, change our perspective, we too can be happy and fulfilled.

In medical terms we refer to this as Taurus faecus.

I bring nothing.  I am nothing.  I have nothing.

And then our world changes.

We come to the cross of Jesus, our Savior.  We lay our nothing down.  We submit our hearts to Him.  We ask Him to live through us.  And then, we experience real freedom, real power, real love.

REAL FREEDOM!

Not the horror of addiction, the stringing together of feel good moments that leave us empty.  Not the shaky, broken foundation of my strength, my control of my world and its circumstances.  Not the selfish, me-centered, fearful heart of my passions.

REAL FREEDOM!  REAL POWER!  REAL LOVE!  And with them, REAL PEACE!

I’ve got nothing.  Praise God, my life doesn’t end with me!

Grab a Towel!

I never thought about this before.  

It was tradition in the ancient cultures of the Middle East to wash guest’s feet when they entered a home.  Typically this was performed by a servant.  According to some, in the absence of a servant, the job fell to the lowest person present.  Every organization has a pecking order, those who serve and those who are served.  Usually this is established fairly quickly.  One problem, Jesus didn’t have any servants (He still has trouble locating them), and He tended to turn pecking order ideas all upside-down.

So here’s the scene (and it probably wasn’t the first time):

They arrive at a place where no servants are present.  Maybe an argument ensues, “your turn…I did it last time…I do it all the time…”  You know how “kids” are.  Wait, I’ve seen adults act that way (Christian and non-Christian alike).

And since our Lord and King was not a type A person (you know, bossy, tough), I imagine Him hearing the argument and quietly getting up, grabbing a towel and going to work.  But think, they were shocked by this.  He hadn’t done it before.  Did He usually let them argue it out?  Did He usually offer bits of wisdom to admonish them?  In another scene, when he visits a leader in the community, He just doesn’t get His feet washed (an insult by the way), until Mary shows up with kisses and perfume and tears.

On this night, the night before He died, I think there might have been a sense of heaviness, a feeling of something about to change.  John felt it and wanted to be so close to JESUS that he leaned on Him during the meal.  No one wanted to be the one to set aside their self-concept, no one wanted to set aside their fears or concerns.  They may not have even thought of arguing, consumed by their own thoughts, foot washing was not paramount.  But Jesus, though He knew what was coming, though He had His own concerns and fears about what He was going to face, took off His robe, wrapped Himself in a towel and served.

I get weighed down by worries.  I see only uncertainty in my future on earth.  Fear can almost overwhelm me.  I want to be noticed and valued.  I want greater responsibility, greater dreams to dream.  I don’t want pain or embarrassment, humility, obscurity.

Maybe, instead of shoving myself forward into the limelight (or wishing God would) . . .

Maybe, instead of hoping for fame and glory (yes, I still wish for these things) . . .

Maybe, instead of considering how to up my position, leverage myself into power, be a mover and shaker in this world . .

Maybe, I should just go grab a towel.

Do Not Doubt

“This kind can come out only by prayer.” Mark 9:29

The father saw his tortured boy.  He asked for help and none came.  It went on for years.  Then Jesus – how many of you love those words – then Jesus came and healed.

“Why couldn’t we drive this demon out?” The disciples asked.  They had come to see God’s power in their lives and were perplexed, maybe a bit discouraged that this time the regular things hadn’t worked.  The tried and true formulas had failed.  And mind you, these were people functioning under Jesus’ authority.  Consider this too, the demon shrieked as it left the boy.  This is evidence of a hold that perhaps even Jesus had to increase his efforts to break (increasing on the infinite is something I’m not sure about but at least consider the possibility).

In my last post, I talked about walking away from temptation.  I even expressed in terms that may seem angry at those who don’t walk away.  I don’t apologize for that but hear me as I give credence to what I said.

I was introduced to pornography at the age of ten.  I have lived in that addiction for over forty years but now know freedom.  Yes, and I do mean real freedom.  I still am tempted.  I am still a male.  But I am free.

All the formulas and ideas, from praying and accountability, the gimmicks that so many claim to stand on, never worked for me.  Prayer and accountability are important but I can tell you, if you do it to overcome sin, you are putting the cart before the horse, as they say.  They become gimmicks, and often make things worse, because the end goal is not deepening your relationship with Jesus, but making yourself a better person.

Jesus didn’t die to make you better.  I’m sorry if that bursts a preconceived notion, but it is true.  He invites you into His kingdom, not so you will shape up (He loves you just the way you are).  He invites you because you are His child.  And to overcome sin, for you to overcome sin, was never His goal.

“IT IS FINISHED,” He cried on the cross.  He already overcame sin.  In your life, in mine, sin is conquered.

I can hear you (hear myself) at this point.  “Bull  —-!”

“This kind can only come out by prayer.”

Do you seek freedom?  Do you want healing?  Let go of everything.  Give up your dreams, your hopes, your passions and turn to Him.  Don’t tenaciously clutch your life in your hands, all of your life.  Learn thankfulness, gratitude, for what God has done and is doing in and through you.  Then look to Him.

Do not doubt. . . NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

I Have the Power

He turned the corner and caught her eye.  She smiled at him, so inviting, so brazen.  It was late with no one around, and so he went to her.  She met his embrace, returned his kiss…

But she was not his wife.

And so, though the scene played out in his mind for a moment, he walked away.

Do not take this post as tempting.  Do not take this message as arousing.  This is supposed to be taken as a punch to the face.

Too many are holding on to thoughts like these.  Too many are crying out to God for help, for comfort, for strength.  All the while, nestling sin in the warmth and fetid waters of their humanity.  And this isn’t just for guys.

All of us face the lies, the sickening honey of the affair, the betrayal, the compromise.  But we have a power that no one can take away.  We have the strength to do one thing.

Walk away.  Leave.  Put it down.  Let it go.

Or better yet….RUN!