Thursday, April 18, 2013

Revelation 3:16 - The Cry of the Complacent

Solid Rock Downtown - The place to be at 8 p.m. on Sunday evenings in Portland.

Last week at the church I attend on Sunday evenings, I made my way up to the prayer room that is provided for people who need prayer, have questions, or simply want somebody to talk with. I had several things on my mind, and made the trip as much for prayer as for the chance to talk my thoughts out with a brother in Christ.

It just so happened that I met with Mike, the downtown pastor at Solid Rock, the body that has become my home over the last two years. I laid out several of the things that were on my heart: I still hadn't called the woman who had given me a business card out of the blue at work (view previous posting for context), I had been dragging my feet on starting a missional community in an area that God had presented to me, and a few others. Each instance being a time that the Lord had opened a door that either I refused to walk through, or walked through slow and late.

Over the course of several minutes of open, honest conversation, Mike said that I should look and try to find the root of why I hesitated to jump through the doors and windows that God had wide open in front of me. Was it fear? Pride? Did I feel undeserving? Or was it something else?

I told Mike that I would think and pray on it (which I have done, but it needs more work), but that initially, I know that one of my most common tenancies is to simply keep the status quo - doing what is necessary to keep things the way they are, and nothing more. I'm motivated by desperation more often than not, and things don't happen until the last minute, or won't happen at all if I don't see them as essential.

They call me a hipster, sometimes.
In that respect, it is complacency and a fear of disturbing the peace that seems to halt my response to God's promptings. That, mixed with the pride of thinking that it was my hard work that got me my current coffee-job, was what has stopped me from calling that woman. Having to change my schedule, talk to people in new ways, or take on a new role is what has stopped me from contacting the Missional Communities ministry leader. I might, might get into something uncomfortable.

While this complacency is a habit that needs changing in all areas of my life, there isn't any waiting to change it in respects to God. My sister has promised to make my life difficult if I haven't called the woman by Friday, and Mike directed me to the man in charge of the ministry, but moving forward in this battle with complacency is still very much a battle that I don't know how to win.

For now, it's baby steps. I'll call that lady tomorrow morning, and I am about to draft an email to the pastor at my church, but it's a problem that I'll need help in solving. Thoughts?

"So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." - Revelation 3:16

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Proverbs 16:3 - Hiding from Omnipotence

Not much relevancy. Just... beard.
At church this morning, the preacher had an interesting point that I want to stick with me. He said that, should we wonder whether something is within God's will, see if we are comfortable asking for God's blessing. Obviously that doesn't always work, but it does force us to take the second and consider the motivations and consequences of things.

It's like asking permission from your parents to do something. If you feel like you have to change and twist the story of what you're about to do in order to make it sound ok and get approved, odds are you probably shouldn't be doing it. Or at least you'll get in trouble when you're found out.

Things work in a similar fashion with God. It's an extreme, but saying "Lord, please bless this robbery I'm about to attempt. May I not get shot and may I get away with loads of cash" makes so little sense it's ridiculous to ask. Instead, we ask God to provide money for us and just so happen to leave out that we plan on robbing the bank on the way home from church.

How to fix  that, then? It's our nature to hide our wrongdoings from God. Look at Adam and Eve - they ran and hid from God after they had sinned. Whether it's out of embarrassment or fear, we all do it. What is it that I need to change in order to reverse that habit?

I haven't put a whole lot of thought into the matter as of yet (part of my movement to blog in the moment), but initially, I think it's part of the sanctification process and an issue of trust. Hiding anything from anyone nearly always means that we're afraid of the reaction. Hiding a broken toy from mamma, concealing a stain in the carpet in a new apartment, hiding a little extra weight behind loose fitting clothing: it's all because the reaction might not be something we want.

Joseph followed after God, and he was made successful,
to God's glory. Also, his family kinda sucked.
It makes a little more sense to do that between humans, because not all humans are the same. They judge, they're unpredictable, some of us are downright mean spirited.

But God isn't.

The broken toy would get a timeout. The stain on the carpet would take money out of the security deposit, and the imperfect body depends on the person, but God isn't that way. Yes, there are consequences for our sins and our habits, but that doesn't change the fact that God LOVES us. That, coupled with the fact that God knows what we've done, what we continue to do, and where our hearts lie, takes away any and all reasons for dishonesty with God.

We'll have to deal with the consequences of what we do in this world, but being honest with God throughout the day and night, in constant conversation, goes a long ways toward preventing those mistakes that make us want to hide. In time, transparency (our mindset, at least) becomes the new norm, the new habit.

Today's life verse sums it up better than I could. Proverbs 16:3 says that if we put God in our heart and consult him on our plans, then our plans will be blessed. I'll most likely revisit this subject again, but for now I'll take this and treasure it:

"Turn to the Lord for help in everything you do, and you will be successful." - Proverbs 16:3 (ETRV)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Psalm 6:8 - The Voice of My Weeping

They had to cage me to shave me. That was definitely a low point.
I find it all to easy to ignore the issues that I struggle with or the problems that I've waded through and simply put them in a little box that has "solved" scribbled on the side. That is particularly easy because it's much more pleasant to remember the highs and the victories than it is to recall the low points that made each victory so sweet.

That means that I'll have to work at blogging in the present. Sure, it's good to look into the past, but it's also important to capture the feeling of the moment, as David often does in psalms. Some of the verses are nakedly honest, showing David's entire thought process.

Take Psalm 6, for example. David lays his heart out, displaying his fears, his tears, and his shortcomings. Then, as David often does, He turns his eyes to the Lord and takes hope. What an incredible example! It's ok to be bare-bones honest with God, He already knows your thoughts!

This honesty is definitely something that needs work in me, and there is no better time to start than the present.

About a month ago, basketball season was finishing for the athletic league that I worked for. Spring sports were on their way, and I was looking forward to another season, as well as a comfortable raise. I finally made a move on a precious little apartment. I'd be living cheaply, but it was something I could afford. Then, two days after signing the agreement, I was informed that my contract had run out two weeks previously, and that because of some serious money shortfalls, the league couldn't afford to keep me.

Much better.
I'm at work at my coffee shop with four hours left on my shift, I've lost my job and a major portion of my income, and I have an apartment I can't afford. It wasn't panic (close, but not quite) that set in, it was a deep and gripping fear and hints of doubt. Why would God give me a job and give me a raise, find me an apartment and then take it all away in an instant? Where would I live? What would I eat? I asked for nothing more than to finish my shift before I fell apart.

And not an hour later, I got my answer. A woman came up to the counter and, after taking her order, handed me a business card and told me to give her a call, that they might have a job in marketing and social media. I was speechless. I haven't called yet (I plan to), but I learned something invaluable that day. It's just as I posted on Facebook shortly after getting that fateful call: when the good Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.

What I'll take with me from that experience is this: Just like when Abram moved everything he owned far away from the home that he knew for a reason he didn't know, trusting that God would provide for him, when the Lord tell me to jump, I have to trust that His hands will be there to catch me. That is even if and especially if the landing isn't clear.

"Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping." - Psalm 6:8