Wholeness and Expectations of God

We live in a world that view wholeness as circumstantial. In place of the word wholeness, we have learned to substitute happiness or comfort. So, being complete is not a state of being, but rather an emotional state. When we bring this view into our relationship with Jesus who is the source of our wholeness, we then place the mantle of responsibility for our circumstances upon his shoulders. In our minds the shift may be subtle or not so subtle. If Jesus loves me, then the things in my life should be ok; everything should work out fine. Whether we apply to mindset to parenting, our jobs, healing, addiction, the state of our relational life, the growth of our church or ministry, etc., we have made our devotion completely conditional. In return for our faithfulness, we expect God to restore our circumstances so that we can be happy. Instead of conforming to the image of Christ, we would rather add Jesus to who we already are. Just enough Jesus sprinkled in to make things work out. But, what happens when things don’t ‘work out’? How do we respond when Jesus does not enable our false sense of identity? Frustration with God. Accusing God of withholding what we know is best for us. This may lead to an epic wrestling match with God for control. Questioning God’s presence. We pray for band-aids. God does not enable our false self. Many times what we deem unanswered prayer is God leading us to a deeper awareness. Living in anxiety. If my circumstances are not changing or something bad does happen, does that mean...

Going Away Sad

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. – Mark 10:21-22 Our souls crave wholeness. Within us, at the core of our desires we know there is something more. That is why a man described as having “great wealth” was found running up to Jesus, falling at his feet, and begging to know what was the “something more” he needed. Knowing what is within all of us, Jesus does tell the man what the one thing is. As you can read in the passage above, Jesus focused on the misalignment of the man’s heart. This person at the feet of Jesus had his identity and dignity rooted in his wealth. Unwilling to release his grip on his financials, the man went away sad. All of us sense there is more. This hunger expresses itself as loneliness, anxiety, exhaustion, stress, inadequacy, etc. These are the symptoms that we attempt to relieve. The attitude that this man had is within all of us. Growing as disciples requires us to develop an ever deepening awareness of what we are clinging to besides Jesus. Jesus treats us in the same way. He shines the mirror on us and says “you want _______________ more than you want me.” And you may be going away sad saying “why can’t I have both?” We can fill in that blank with almost anything: relationships, sex, money, work, raising kids, leisure, power, church...

Image of the Invisible God

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. – Colossians 1:15 The second commandment says that we are not to create any images of God, nor are we to serve an idol of our own creation. For any representation that we, as broken image bearers, will create will fall short of the true image and also have inherent flaws. While our idols and images of wholeness are not necessarily a golden calf, they fall short just the same. Having no images does not just refer to physical objects, but the the images that we demand wholeness and significance from. For the church leader, an image may be size of the church. Or having a particular reputation and status within the community. Or an idea of excellence that should be achieved. Striving for these things becomes equated with serving God well and begin to form a foundation for justification. In all of us, there is the temptation to put body image, dietary lifestyle, relational status, or even kid’s behavior and education on a pedestal. An image of wholeness and what a life well lived should look like. So we serve these things, and many, many others. Yet, these idols we strive after, all they will do is demand. There is no rest in the quest for body image. If you eat a snickers bar then you will have to work that much harder. There is no freedom in trying to achieve a certain financial independence, for it becomes a precarious position to maintain. More will always be required. Idols never forgive; they relentlessly take and...

All About That Bass

I’ll admit it, I like the Meghan Trainor song All About That Bass. It is on my iPhone. It’s catchy and I can sing and dance to it (thought that is something none of you will ever see – you can thank me when you see me). Also, I do appreciate the message of the damaging affects of comparison. (See What Comparison Does) Comparison erodes our sense of who we are and deprives us all of dignity. Those around us are deprived of their humanity by our using them as a measuring stick for our worth and significance. Our self is eroded because comparison causes us to live in a constant state of dissatisfaction. When we live in comparison, we can not develop healthy self-acceptance. (See What is Acceptance?) Church leaders compare the size of their churches to those around them, or to the mega-church that they’d like to be. Church leaders compare their leadership style to that of others, and end up trying to be something they are not. Church leaders compare their spouses to the Proverbs 31 or some other ideal, and the spouse feels the weight of that expectation. There is always something else to compare. But, here is the thing about the song’s message… Every inch of me is NOT perfect, from the bottom to the top. Many of us eat for comfort. That is not perfect. Many of us seek to control others. That is not perfect. Many of us make decisions at the expense of others. That is not perfect. Our tendency to compare is a symptom of the false self (the old nature)...

Shattering the Image

Hand crafted in the image of the Creator, experiencing no shame, the man and woman were left to tend the garden God had placed them in. For an unknown amount of time, the two of them lived in this idyllic state. Until the Lie. A serpent appears on the scene with the ability to talk. Myself, I hate snakes. Since I can never remember if it is “yellow on black, better step back” or “red on black, friend of Jack” or “red on yellow, you’re a dead fellow”, I just play it safe and avoid them all. Much more so a snake that could talk.   But that bit of wisdom was not available to our happy couple and they engage the crafty serpent in conversation. This serpent is intent on spreading a Lie; God held back on them, He really did not have their best interest at heart and could not be trusted. They were really less valuable then they were going around thinking. There was something they were still lacking if they were going to be complete.   The Lie was that there was something in addition to God that would make them whole.   Sound familiar? The enemy convinced God’s image bearers that they were incomplete and not fully acceptable. It is the same Lie that all of us at some point believe. It is the source of our false self and it comes in a million forms. “I am not wanted.” “I am not lovable.” “God is nowhere to be found.” “I am unnoticed.” “I am defective.” This list could go on and on.  ...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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