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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jesus, All For Jesus

Yesterday at Baccalaureate we sang this song. I love its message, and pray that increasingly I am able to live out its words.

Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.

For it's only in Your will that I am free,
For it's only in Your will that I am free,
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

why we resist...part 2

A couple weeks ago, I decided to tackle the question "Why do we resist authenticity?" As I began writing, I knew that I had more to say than anyone should attempt to fit into one post, so I added "part 1" to the title. That post centered around our desire to be loved. I've had a few conversations since the initial post and as a result I feel the need to slightly amend my central idea that everyone longs to be loved. I now think that the central idea should have been that we long for intimacy, which, in my mind, includes love. Maybe it's just semantics, but I think intimacy conveys a more complete sense of what I intended. If you haven't read my first post on the topic, you should (Cause why not? You're reading blogs right now anyway).

Now on to part 2...

Authenticity requires vulnerability. At the core of vulnerability there exists risk, which is the second reason that we resist authenticity. It's not that we don't want to be authentic. Nor are we opposed to the idea of authenticity. Instead, we are uncomfortable with the inherent risk involved. To some extent this touches on the fear that I talked about in my first post, but I think it goes beyond that.

To be truly authentic with others we must put ourselves in an uncomfortable and unknown position. We must be willing to place our heart in a state of vulnerability. We must lay down our deep seeded habit of trying to protect ourselves. We often resist this though because it opens the door for hurt, and we will do everything in our power to shelter ourselves, to be safe.

Over the past few months I've talked about this with a couple of close friends. In each of these conversations, we've talked about the risk/reward scenario that is played out each time we decide to be authentic or not. If we allow ourselves to open up, we can be truly known but are forced to accept the inherent risk involved. When we don't, we remain in relative safety but have no chance to be truly known. Our choice is easier if we have history with the other person. Exponentially more difficult is when we find ourselves having to decide whether to be authentic with someone that we just met or are just getting to know. Ultimately, the question comes down to whether we believe (or just feel in our gut) that we can trust the other person.

Often times the conversation makes it way to the question of whether our authenticity is worth it, knowing that it may lead to either a life-changing friendship or a lasting disappointment. Risk/Reward. That's all it is. So, is it worth it? I'll save that for another post.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


My church, Colossae, had its very first gathering yesterday. We met at Chris and Sharon Newman's house in Tigard, where a group of us have been meeting on a somewhat regular basis for a few months. We worshiped, prayed, dove into scripture, and started to get to know one another. It was very good.

I've been anxiously anticipating the start of this new church plant since mid-November when my pastor, Chuck Bomar, first told me about it. Since that time it has been amazing to see the ways that God has brought this church together. It seems that each person has a remarkable story of how He directed them to Colossae. This experience has clearly confirmed that indeed there is no such thing as random occurrence or coincidence. Instead, God often moves in subtle ways that we do not detect as His move in the moment.

Chuck spoke from Romans 6:15-8:1. He talked about our identity in Christ, and our individual need to embrace that true identity as we grow into community as a church. It was weighty stuff. But sin has a way of clouding that identity and condemning us. It is a beautiful truth of our relationship with God and our identity in Christ.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

In Christ Alone

For the past two days I've been singing, humming, and whistling the same song. It's a good one, so I thought I would share it (with who I'm not sure).
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.
I'm moved by the way this song lays out the truth of God's love. It resonates in my spirit.

Monday, April 7, 2008

overwhelmed by refinement

Have you ever gone through a stretch when God was trying to teach you so much that your mind, and more importantly your heart, had absolutely no way to process it all? Or at least so you thought in the midst of the chaos. I hadn't until about two weeks ago. That's when God started in on me.

Each lesson came in such quick succession that it has been easy to get overwhelmed. As I began unpacking something that the Lord had showed me, the next thing would hit. My mind raced. I didn't know where to start. I haven't slept very well.

I'm not gonna lie, I haven't really enjoyed it all that much. It has been a confusing, frustrating, and exhausting experience. It has been painful and hard. I've cried. And yet, though the process is uncomfortable, this one fact makes it worthwhile: I know that my King is refining me. My heart is being transformed to be more like His.

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Here are some of the things that God has confronted me with during this time. They are by no means new lessons or earth shattering ideas, but I am seeing them with more clarity now than before.
  • My plans are not God's plans.
  • When I say that I trust God, that often includes the unspoken condition "as long as things are going my way."
  • I must learn to be still and quiet; to rest in him. (Psalm 46:10)
  • I try to protect my heart, even though that is Jesus' job. (Philippians 4:7)
  • I don't have to have all the answers.
  • Man will often disappoint; God never will.
  • I've got religious pride.
  • I often find it difficult to accept love.
  • When it comes to God, I think too much and don't allow my heart to engage.
  • I need to be more earnest in prayer.
I don't know where or when I will emerge from this period of God's refining. On one hand I pray that it ends soon, and on the other I pray that it lasts for some time. For that is the very nature of this experience. Spiritually it is a very challenging period but also rewarding. Ultimately, God's plan is perfect, and I choose to fully place my trust in him, no matter how difficult that may be for me to do.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

why we resist...part 1

Why do people have such a hard time being authentic with one another? Why do we put on intricate masks that hide our true selves? Why do so many people feel like they are, at least in part, living a lie? Why do we resist living as the people that God created us to be? And, why do all these things ring true in my life?

I think the answers to all these questions can be found in one simple truth: we long to be loved.

We want to be accepted, valued, cared about. Unfortunately our desire for these sentiments is so strong that, in many cases, we're willing to accept cheap forgeries (feelings of acceptance from those that only know our facades). We forsake the opportunity to experience the real thing and end up missing out on it altogether. How can we expect to experience real love and acceptance when we don't allow others to truly know us? Without exposing ourselves, the feelings and emotions which we hope to receive aren't based on fact, and are temporary at best. The affirmation we receive is hollow, which creates a wretched existence in which our deepest longing goes unfulfilled.

The reason is that as much as we long to be loved, we often possess an even greater measure of fear. Fear of not being loved; fear of being rejected. Our logic, although seriously flawed, asserts that by not letting others get too close, then their opportunity to dislike, reject, or otherwise hurt us is negated. We protect ourselves. It is a classic defense mechanism. It also works, to a certain extent: it is indeed harder for others to hurt us deeply when they are kept at arm's length.

And yet, the cost of employing this defense is the very thing that our hearts seek...love.