Archive for the ‘Thought for the Day / Quotes’ Category

There is a popular adage that says, “hurt people hurt people”, which is simply an acknowledgement of our human tendency to hold on to the pain of the past, and over time, to act out of that hurt.  Indeed, many of history’s most notorious abusers were first victims of abuse.  And though we have little control over the things that happen to us, we do bear some responsibility for how we respond. 

There is also phrase that speaks of, “nursing a grudge”, which effectively points to another common pattern of human behavior, which is to keep issues alive that would otherwise wither and die, if they were left unattended.  While a victim can rightfully claim that they didn’t start the fire, adding wood and gasoline to the flames eventually breeds some level of accountability for the resulting damage. 

Finally, there is the term, “triggered”, which describes a moment in real time (i.e. right now) when we make an emotional/intellectual/spiritual connection to an experience from the past, and we react out of that former hurt, instead of what is going on presently.  In such moments, the magnitude of our reaction can reach well beyond what is reasonable for the current circumstance.  Ironically, this term also seems to acknowledge the weaponizing of our hurt.  While there may not be malicious intent, acting out of our hurt only serves to perpetuate the damage.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he specifically calls out anger, but goes on to include every form of malice (e.g. bitterness, rage, slander…).  While he acknowledges that we can experience these emotions, he urges that we not let them take hold of us, allowing them to become sin (Eph. 4:26).  He further warns that entertaining these negative emotions will give our enemy a foothold within us (Eph. 4:27).  If we carry this woundedness long enough, it weaves its way into our identity, becoming a conduit for the enemy to sabbatoge every effort, and/or relationship.  Inevitably, the idea that we’ve always been this way evolves into the belief that this is just who we were created to be. 

I believe that this is why we so often see God give characters within scripture a new name.  He is in effect saying, the world has viewed you as Jacob, but I see you as Israel; you have been taught that you are Simon, but I call you Peter; you have thought of yourself as Saul, but I think of you as Paul: your experience has led you to believe that you are the least of the least of the least, but I know you to be a mighty man of valor.

Too many of us, who are called by His name, know that we are wounded, routinely act out of that hurt, and have even passed that damage on to the next generation.  Often times, our difficulty in letting go of the pain of the past is rooted in unforgiveness.  No doubt, the demons that we’ve failed to conquer in our own lives have snuggled with our children.  But part of the transformation that the Lord has authored for us (2Cor.3:18) is the renewal of our hearts (2Cor.4:16), and minds (Rom.12:2).  Receiving this healing is an essential part of fulfilling God’s purposes in our lives.  It is also part of the abundant life (John 10:10) Christ died to give us.

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One of our granddaughters lives with us, and as of this writing, she is not quite a year old.  She is a precious, beautiful child, who is bold, energetic, and full of curiosity.  Not surprisingly, she wasn’t even ten months old when she started walking, and containing her is a daily challenge.  With the playpen proving to be too restrictive for this 20 lb. force of nature, we fenced in our living room with plastic fencing in order to keep her from the fireplace, the stereo cabinet, bookshelves, electrical outlets… and we constructed a gate, so that us older folks didn’t have to hurdle our way in to, and out of, the living room.  Within this room sized play yard, there are all manner of soft, colorful, musical, and educational things for her to engage with.  Above all else it is intended to be a safe space for her to learn and grow; but from its inception she has made it her mission to escape from it. 

In this endeavor, she has demonstrated amazing resourcefulness, as she’s tried to pull the fence up to crawl underneath it; to slide herself between the seams in the panels, and to push the fence (or gate) down.  When those efforts have failed, she’s pushed her rocking chair, or her wheeled horse to the fence, and tried to use them to climb over it.  Often times, she’ll stand at the gate, and shake it by its bars.  Every time the gate is open, she stops what she’s doing and runs toward it.  Every time the gate closes, she lets out a yelp of protest.  Indeed, the mere existence of this fence seems to be an affront to her soul.  Even without a conscious understanding of it, she instinctively pushes against the concept of limitations or boundaries.

Similarly, while she shows little interest in pacifiers, most teething biscuits, and baby food in general, she will readily stick shoes, used tissues, clumps of dog hair… in her mouth.  Protecting her requires constant vigilance, and quick hands.

As I have prayed for this little one, the Lord has impressed upon me that this is how it is with His children as well.  Like us, He tried to setup a safe and ideal situation for them, but they chose to go their own way.  He then tried to create healthy boundaries to keep them safe, but they perceive that He is trying to keep them from the “good stuff”, and rebel against them.  Indeed, the very idea that He would set limitations causes them to doubt His goodness.  Likewise, He tries to provide them with daily bread (i.e. wisdom and words of life) for growth and well-being, but they readily choose to dumpster dive (i.e. on the empty philosophies of mankind) for their meals instead.

And in all this, I see myself.  Please Lord, not my will, but thine be done!

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While the historical link between religious feasts and pagan celebrations seems to become a hot topic during every “Christmas” and “Easter” season, I’ve never sensed that the Lord is as vexed about it as we seem to be.  God has the ability to work all things to the good, even (or maybe especially) our flawed efforts to worship Him.  I feel certain that He is more moved by a heart that yearns to celebrate (& honor) His coming as a man, and the sacrifice He made for mankind, than by a heart that is filled with indignation at the potential inaccuracies within our religious traditions. My prayer is that our hearts will be completely available to Him in this (& every other) season.

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The spirit of religion feverishly sews the torn veil back together, and sends volunteers to become brokers in our relationship with God.  If we succumb to this, we risk becoming a people who do things in Jesus’ name, but who don’t actually know Him (Matt. 7:23).

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  • What if our value to God isn’t found in what we can accomplish in His name, but is rooted in our genuine affection for Him (2Chron. 16:9, Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, Rom. 8:28)?
  • What if our extensive knowledge of scripture, and all our good works don’t really matter unless they are accompanied by His heart for others (1Cor. 13:1-3, 1John 4:20)?
  • What if God isn’t so much concerned with the perfection of our execution, as He is with the sincerity of our effort (Rom. 8:28, Heb. 11:6)?
  • What if partaking of His resurrection power is predicated on participating in His death and burial (John 12:24, Rom. 6:5)?
  • What if we’re not waiting on Him to move (John 19:30), and He is in fact waiting for us to discover what we’ve already been given (Rom. 8:19, Col.1:27, 2Peter 1:3)?
  • What if He’s already given us everything we need to be His glorious bride (1Cor. 2:16, 1John 2:27, 2Peter 1:3), and we’ve just been too distracted to prepare for a wedding (Matt. 15:8)?

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The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).  The fruit of the (unholy) spirit of this age is self-pity, envy, strife, offense, depression, fear, lethargy, conceit, and addiction.  And you shall know them by their fruit (Matt. 7:16).

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For the last couple of years we’ve repeatedly heard that the best way to avoid the spread of infection is to minimize the time spent around other people, and to maintain a safe distance and/or wear a face covering when you have to interact personally.  While the effectiveness of these actions with regard to the spread of COVID is debatable, it is hard to deny their effectiveness within the standard western religious paradigm. 

Jesus said that the world would be able to distinguish His followers by the way they love each other, but it’s doubtful that anyone would describe “Christians” in the west as a close-knit group.  Indeed, we are more famous for the contentious division that has resulted in thousands of different denominations, and other disenfranchised ministries.  Even amongst these independent tribes/sects, there seems to be precious little transparency, trust, or genuine fellowship (i.e. mask-wearing).  This obvious discord could rightfully be deemed “Religious Distancing”. 

As individuals we need to examine our own relationship with the Lord, and wonder at the degree to which our hearts have truly succumbed to His.  God means to be the end that we are pursuing, not the means by which we pursue some other end.  The truth is that you cannot walk closely with Him, and not be infected with His compassion for the lost, or His burning desire to see the will of the Father done “on earth as it is in heaven”.  You cannot spend time in His presence, or hear His voice without being changed in some way.  But just as Paul told the Corinthians (2Cor. 3:18), we must behold the Lord with “unveiled” faces in order to experience this kind of transformation.

It is unlikely that a lost world will be infected with the love of God, by a people who seem to be immune to it themselves (1John 3:15-17).

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The enemy of your soul loves it when your declaration of oppression eclipses your profession of provision.

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When we first met, you were confident in your knowledge of the Lord:

You imagined I was impressed by you.

I thought you were kind of arrogant.

God saw that you needed a friend.

As we walked together, I began to learn your story:

You presumed that you were healed from the hurts of the past.

I thought you were deceiving yourself.

God saw that you needed a friend.

Eventually, I watched your life unravel:

You imagined it was an attack of the enemy.

I thought you were simply reaping what you’d sown.

God saw that you needed a friend.

Now, as I watch your rebuilt life shake:

You imagine that it will all be fine.

I wonder if things will ever change.

God sees that you need a friend who’s more like Jesus.

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In the midst of so much turmoil in the world, there are so many voices clamoring for our attention.  They offer finite answers to infinite questions, whereby even genuine revelation from God is often presented as if it is the sum total of what the Lord is saying, instead of part and parcel of a much bigger picture, which no one man could possibly know (1 Cor. 13:9 & 12).  Seekers of truth can easily get caught up running from one would-be Prophet/Teacher to the next, desperately trying to discern God’s priorities in this moment, but I sense that the Lord’s focus remains firmly on the posture of our hearts.  As He told the Prophet Samuel (1 Sam.16:7), He doesn’t regard outward appearances, which includes all the things we’re doing in His name; choosing instead to look at the condition/attitude/posture of our hearts.  While we like to think of our accomplishments “in Jesus’ name” as fruit, He defines fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) as Christ’s heart/character spilling out of us (Col. 1:27).   

The spirit of this age hopes to keep us focused on, and striving to change, what is going on around us, while the Lord is challenging us to look within.  Indeed, His eyes range throughout the earth, looking to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him (2Chron. 16:9).  He promises to work all things to the good of those who love Him and who are called to His purposes (Rom. 8:28), and He is faithful to reward those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).  None of those promises hinge on our performance, or perfect theology, or prophetic insight.  They all rise or fall on the posture of our hearts.  Even the oft quoted 2Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name…” is not about praying for our nation, it’s about the posture of our hearts if we hope for our prayers to be effective. 

God did not consider David a “man after God’s own heart” because of his impeccable character, his valor on the battlefield, or his perfect obedience, it was instead his relentless pursuit of the Father’s will.  What made the tabernacle of David so attractive to the Lord wasn’t the 24/7 nature of the music, it was the insatiable hunger for His presence that fueled it.

We need to quit asking God to send revival, as though we are trying to pry it from His reluctant hand.  He has placed the seeds of revival within the hearts of His people, and we are not waiting on Him to move, He is waiting for us to cultivate the fallow ground.  If we’ve yet to see the promised harvest, it is time to examine the condition of the soil (i.e. our hearts).  If something in the way we teach/preach the “Gospel of Kingdom” has served to take our eyes off the King, then we have taught amiss.

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