What do you see?

screens

Have you ever really considered how you see the world? Why do you notice certain things and completely miss others? Why are you offended by some people and easily accept others by default? What causes your heart to leap in celebration? What moves you to tears? And why are these things different from some of the people around you?

It’s unbelievable how conditioned we are as people. The places we live, the parents we have, the teaching we receive and the experiences of our lives shape us deeply – often far beyond what we realize. These influences in our lives work to shape our reality. Our perception of the way things are and the way things ought to be.

What is amazing is how much of this happens below the surface. Beneath our awareness. It’s so easy to allow ourselves to simply drift through day-to-day, absorbing the ideas and values of our encounters and our culture.

But, what if we live aware, with our eyes wide open? What if we ask authentic questions about why things are the way they are? And what if we turn this vision on ourselves? To our own hearts? What would we find at the core? What have we allowed to become our center? To drive our hearts and our pursuits? What will we find there?

As a Jesus Follower, this has become a huge issue for me. You see, I want to really see! I want to experience the world with awareness and intentionality. I want to encounter people with the eyes of my God. To see them with the love and compassion he has for them. To ache for a world that is broken and to be moved to joy when they find life as it should be.

This kind of vision doesn’t come easily. It takes practice. It requires pursuing the heart of God that we find in Jesus. And it demands that when we find him, we stop and listen deeply. Authentically. Humbly. And invite him to uproot what we have known and who we have become. We will have to be honest with ourselves, often seeing our own lives and pursuits differently. It will change everything.

No, it’s not easy but wow…the indescribable beauty that is revealed when we have eyes that see!

Quieting the Noise – 10 days in

Social Media

 

10 days into a media fast (see the previous post “Quieting the Noise” to see why) and here’s what I’m experiencing:

The Good

– finding several opportunities a day to hang out with God in scripture for a few minutes at a time

– keeping a stream of thought going all day…after I’m with people and find myself alone again, my thoughts immediately jump back to what I’ve been experiencing with God

– experiencing intentional moments with my kids in the evening…instead of defaulting to the TV or computer, we’re playing games, wrestling, reading and talking about God

– realizing that my heart is calmer, more at peace, more open to interruptions…my focus is more on people…my wife is getting more of me

The Struggle

– finding that I’m out of the loop with a couple Facebook conversations that ran through our community this week…although not quite sure how much of a struggle this is because those conversations were mostly unnecessary drama

– wanting to sit down on the couch in the evenings and unwind with my wife in front of the TV or a movie…I love sitting with her every evening

– wondering how things are going with the Olympics and what the latest news is with the Cowboys

– discovering the relational connectedness and personal peace I often trade for the noise of our world

10 days down, 30 to go!

A Great Read

Do you have a Bible? If so, how many? Do you have a favorite? Is it a thin-line Bible? A daily devotional Bible? A chronological Bible? A study Bible? A pocket Bible? Or possibly an on-line Bible?

What version do you prefer? Do you like the NIV? The New Living Translation? The Message? Or do you lean more toward the New King James? The New American Standard? The New Revised Standard?

It’s amazing how endless the possibilities are for us to access scripture. We have it on our phones. We have readings sent to our e-mail accounts. We have them in our cars, in our bedrooms, in our living rooms and even in our hotel rooms when we travel. We have literally come to the place where we could have constant access to the word of God.

And so I ask, “What’s your relationship with the Word?”

Early on, I knew the Bible to be God’s book. That he inspired over 40 different men to write his words down for us. That it is divided into two major sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. That it has 66 books, 39 in the Old and 27 in the New. That the Old Testament has stories about God and his people – Israel. And the New Testament has stories about Jesus and the church. I was a student of the word. I took notes in church and worked to connect all the dots. I was definitely in pursuit of more information. I wanted to know more about God, more about the church and more about what this meant for me.

Then, there was a time when I stopped reading the Bible altogether. I struggled with what appeared to be inconsistencies in scripture. And with inconsistencies in my personal experience. I stopped my pursuit of God and did my best to numb my heart.

But still he spoke to me. In the midst of my struggle, he reminded me of his love and his desire for me to be free. I heard is voice through the gentle challenges of other believers. And finally, he broke through with a word spoken deep into my heart, saying, “You have no life without me!”

When I came back home to him, I entered with a new desire. I wanted to know this God who would not give up on me. I longed to discover his heart. I wanted a real relationship with him, not predetermined religious answers. And so I searched, I questioned, I discovered and I let go.

In my pursuit of God through his word, I found Jesus. I was introduced to the Word who was God and has been with God from the beginning. Who participated in creating us for relationship with himself. Who ached as we continually choose to love ourselves more than him. Who has relentlessly chased humanity from the beginning of time. Who established the nation of Israel to represent God to the world. Who refused to give up on people. Who punished and rebuked but always followed it up with hope and provision. Who willingly gave up his place to become like us. Who came to once and for all rescue us from the enemy, from this world and from ourselves. Who stood in our place, taking our penalty…dying so we could live! Who promised that his presence will always be with us, leading us and reminding us of his way. Who will one day take us home!

When you look at your Bible, do you see him? Do you encounter his heart? Do you invite him to break through and have his way with you?

What’s your relationship with the Word?

 

Jesus is Crazy!

Stone Cross

Sometimes, I think Jesus is summed up best in one word…crazy! If you really watch him, listen to what he teaches and apply it to your life, you might agree with me. This man is nuts! Consider for a second one of his more famous teachings:

“Don’t resist an evil person!

If you are slapped on the right check, turn the other, too.

If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.

If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.

Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.”

What was he thinking? Does he really understand what he’s asking us to do? What are the end results of a life like this? Do I really have to allow myself to be beat up to follow Jesus? Do I really have to freely give my stuff away, without resistance — even more — does he really expect me to give more than what they are trying to take from me or to serve more than what is being required by a person in authority over me? Do I really have to live this way?

That’s what’s amazing about the way of Jesus! It doesn’t make any sense from the perspective of self-preservation. But that’s just it. That’s the complete wrong perspective.

Jesus has invited us to follow him, which means that we live life like him. That we watch how he talked…how he interacted with people…how he touched the untouchable…how he loved the disgraced…how he accepted the prostitute…how he forgave those who were intent on killing him. We stand at the shadow of the cross and hear his words echoing, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves take up their cross and follow me.” And from that vantage point, all rebuttals that Jesus was just talking rhetorically disappear.

Here is a radical God that is recklessly demonstrating the depth of love he has for us. It’s a love that transforms us to the very core. So much so, that it becomes who we are. It becomes what we offer. And at this point, we stop asking, “Does he really want me to do this?” and we begin asking, “Who is the next person I can share this with?” And this sharing is so much less about what we say…it’s about who we are. It’s about being willing to die so someone else might live!

Yeah, this is crazy – but what a beautiful way to live!