Thursday, January 12, 2017

We Can Live Honestly, Because We Are Loved

This video is really interesting. There's a lot of truth here, about how we limit ourselves by the lies we believe, about how we live in fear of what other's will think. Kyle's biggest point though, to me, is how we so often can't accept the love of others, we can't believe they really mean it, because we don't love ourselves.

"How could they really love me? I'm not worthy" we tell ourselves.

"They're just saying that to be nice. If they only really knew what I was like, what I have done, then they wouldn't love me."

But for for those who have been saved by Christ's blood, we can love who we are because Christ loves who we are. If the God of the universe, Who knows EVERY single thing we've done, even the things we ourselves have long forgotten, loves us, who are we to differ with Him and distain the very thing He loves?

Some might take this as license to live life according to their own flesh, but it's precisely because our Father loves us that we can be okay with where we are, with who we are, yet also desire to become more like our lover, more like Christ.

That's the key that makes Kyle's message resonate, at least for me. I am lovable because I am loved, and I can live passionately, honestly, vulnerably, because no matter what other's think of me, I know what my Savior thinks of me.

He loves me.

And that is enough.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Don't Despise the Lost, We All Have Rotten Meatloaf in Our Refrigerators

I used to always kind of chuckle when I read an article about a guy who did some crazy thing, hiking the pacific crest trail, driving across the country, or even going vegan, in a quest to ‘find himself.’

“Seriously?” I’d think in a scoffing tone of think. “Pull up your diaper and get a job. Stop being selfish and thinking about yourself and do something."

Only recently have I have ben realizing that my dismissal of those ‘self discovery’ quests, my disdain for, and even sense of superiority to, people looking for themselves comes from a deeper place than a simple sense of productivity or efficiency. The reason I didn’t like them, was very simple, and unnervingly close to home.

I realized, I am that guy.

And I don’t like him.

Not knowing who I truly am is a feeling that I’d stuffed deep down, tried to not think about, ignored. Ever opened your fridge and seen that tupperware container of last weeks dinner (ok, admit it, it’s actually from last month’s dinner), growing various unnatural colors and textures, probably smelling up a storm inside it’s little plastic coffin, just waiting to offend the smelling sensibilities of anyone foolish enough to open it? What did you do with that little container of overripe meatloaf? Yeah, pushed it into the back of the fridge, maybe hid it behind the bag of carrots. Pushed it away, to be dealt with later, hopefully by someone else, when you’re not home.

That’s what I did. I pushed my smelly little container of my rotten identity, or rather, an uncertain identity, into the corner behind a container of ego or false humility or something and tried not to think about it. But it was there, and though it’s hardy tin of polycarbonate did an admirable job of containing it’s festering contents, some would always seep out, reminding me of it’s presence, affecting my life. I couldn’t ignore it, but I also couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t know how. I wasn't brave enough to face it, so I pretended that it wasn’t there, and mocked those who were brave enough to admit that it was.

“Besides,” my subconscious must have reasoned, “Look at the rest of the stuff you got, it’s all pretty good, not even close to it’s expiration date, don’t worry ‘bout it.”

*   *   *

In each of us there is a longing to be loved, but to be truly loved, you must be truly known, deeply known. And the deeper someone get’s, the more likely it is that they’ll find something they won’t like. So we close up, close off. They can’t hurt us if they don’t know how bad we can be. I mean, can you imagine what they’d think if they found that tin nestled neatly behind the eggnog? Can’t let that happen.

And yet, the desire is there, for someone to know you all the way, to know all those nasty thing’s you don’t know what to do with in your fridge that is life. But there’s a risk in letting them in, a risk that as they go deeper in, they’ll get weirded out by all the gunk, or maybe just not be able to handle the stench, and they’ll pull out. But after you’ve let someone in, there’s no going back, because now they know, and they know too much. But what if they get in, and they don’t look at what you think is garbage with disdain? What if they see it, and feel empathy, compassion, and love? What if, in seeing that you’re not perfect, they’re opened up to reveal that they’re not perfect either?

We’re all broken, walking this broken way, which conveniently enough, is the title of a book I’m reading right now.

Those people we meet in this life who are brave enough to be broken with us are like gems: rare, beautiful. God may only bring a handful of them into our lives this side of heaven, but oh how sweet is the fellowship of those who are raw, who are broken, and who love the broken. Yet as amazing as those friends are, there is One who actually knows the extent of our brokenness, and loves us more than any other human ever could.

*   *   *

So while the old me might have mocked the idea of going on a quest to ‘find yourself,’ new more recent me gets to dismount his high-horse, apologize to all the identity seekers out there (Sorry!), and join them on their quest, our quest, to discover who we truly are, and are truly meant to be.

Monday, November 7, 2016

No Matter Who's Elected, Christ is Still King

Today was a very productive, restful day. I worked on my business, read some out of Delighting in the Trinity (which, btw, is a book you should read), visited with my host family, filled out my voting ballot, ate dinner, listened to music and a few podcasts, etc.

'Ok Paul, we're all thrilled that you had a great day. But this isn't Instagram, go post photos of your food elsewhere' I can hear you saying. Or maybe you're not. But either way, I do indeed have a grander purpose in telling you all of this.

I'm not pleased with the two front-runners, not one bit, and the funny thing is, I don't think 80% of America really is either. And while I won't be voting for either of them, I think it's a safe assumption to say that we'll either have a power-hungry criminal or a power-hungry business man as our next commander in chief. But that said, Christ reigns. Right here, right now. He's not 'going' to be in charge one day, He won't take control of the planet sometime in the future, He's exercising his authority right now. Even over who is elected president of the US on November 8th.

And it's because Christ is at the right hand of God that I can go about my day today and not fret about tomorrow (Matt 6:34). Does this mean that tomorrow will necessarily be more comfortable than today? Absolutely not. We may experience persecution like America hasn't ever seen, we might see religious liberty curtailed and marginalized. We might see the rounding up of our weapons, abolishment of the 1st and 2nd amendments, it might turn into hell on earth. But we need not fear.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating inaction or passivity We've been given the responsibility to not just vote, but to speak out, to get involved, to influence. We cannot abandon those duties, those privileges, to the hyper-calvinistic fatalism of 'well God's in control, so what can I do?' God is sovereign, but we are responsible to act.

The true King is still on his throne. I love Psalm 37, the whole chapter's so good, but the heart of it is Psalm 37:4-12. I know it's a long section, but I entreat you to read it and let it's truth sink in:

"Trust in the Lord, and do good;
 dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
 Commit your way to the Lord;
 trust in him, and he will act.
 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
 fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
 Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.
 The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming."
And if we need further reassurance that He is ruling now, Daniel 2:21 tells us "He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding." 

Brothers, sisters, friends, whatever happens, whoever gains office, wherever the nation goes, I encourage you, trust God. Love God. Know that He loves us, and has our best in mind. "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18). For those of you who know me well (you know who you are. :) ), you'll know that I'm preaching to myself here more than anything. I have fretted, I have feared, I have wrung my hands over the direction our country is taking (and a million other things). But I've been encouraged as of late by fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and by reading the Word, meditating on the truth that though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil.

I'll leave you with this one thought, an excerpt from R.C. Sproul's Podcast, Jesus Changes Everything, because he said it better than I ever could.

"And so my hope and my prayer is that as you go to bed tonight and await the election results tomorrow, that you will never lose sight of the fact that Jesus Christ reigns. That Jesus Christ has given us the leader that He’s chosen for us for His glory and the good of His people. We may be chastened, we may be persecuted, we may be driven into the coliseums like our fathers before us, for sport. I don’t know what the future holds. What I do know is that Jesus holds the future."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Corporation's are Like Children.... Maybe

Reading an article about the recently released movie Ex Machina got me thinking, and this is what I thought.

So, there's these things out there, corporations, and they're kind of like children, only really, really big. They do all sorts of interesting things, invent cars that don't use gasoline, computers that fit in your pocket, and pull liquid energy from nearly 10,000 feet below the sea. But they're also foolish, and don't know what's best for them or the economy. There also aren't any mechanisms or systems to keep them in check like competition, economics, or voluntary certification boards (what a silly idea). The only thing that can keep these big, stupid corpo-children from destroying themselves and all of humanity (and possibly the last vinyl record ever signed by John Lennon), is the corporation's big brother, your best friend, and the savior of mankind (which they do lovingly, for a small fee): The government! That's right! Though corporations are basically like children, the government is completely comprised of angels and their harmless toy poodles! They'll make sure nothing bad ever happens! yay!

But in all seriousness, I do find it interesting that this article in the NY Times (and the movie, which I've not seen) presents as the solution to the potential risk of AI's to be government regulation. I probably tend to lean too far to the libertarian side of things, and government does does have a role in society, but without a doubt it's too large, and seems to be the magic tonic that will solve all of our problems if only we will entrust them with a little more power.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Fleeting Time

Is it just me, or does life seem to be passing by more quickly as I get older? I mean, wasn't it Friday just yesterday? And I thought Christmas was last weekend... It wasn't too long ago that I remember thinking that it was going to take forever to grow up. Everything in the future seemed so far away, so distant, almost an eternity away.

But now, 60 years old almost seems eminent. Holiday's used to take forever to come, now it seems as though I have to keep my eyes propped open lest I blink and miss them.

This all reminded me of Psalm 39:4 (and I had to looks this up, I can't claim to have had this memorized)
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

We're only on this earth for a short time before moving on to our eternal home. So use the time that our Father has given you.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Psalms 190:12

God Speed,

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Are You a Good Steward?

The other day I was struck by what now seems a profound thought (though only time will tell I suppose). My room had fallen into a slight case of disarray, some clothes on the floor, my desk was... less than tidy, and it was generally looking like a mini version of a bachelor pad. My dad came in one day and said something along the lines of "for just being two guys in this room (I bunk with my awesome younger, albeit taller, brother), you sure can make a mess!"

At the time I took this as a sideways chid for letting our room get so messy (which was true), but I was also a rebuke for not being faithful in what I had been given. I was reminded of the parable that was taught in Luke, which (using some quick searching) I found in Luke 16, wherein this well-known passage resides:
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, [. . .] And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?"
Luke 16:10, 12
 I wasn't being faithful in what the Lord had given me through my dad. On this earth I have about 150 square feet that I'm in charge of, and I wasn't treating it with respect. To a degree, I had been viewing it as 'my room' and since I apparently didn't mind 'my room' getting a little messy, it was ok. But it isn't 'my room' it's my Father's room (both earthy and heavenly). I am simply it's steward, and a poor one at that.

When the time comes for me to move out (probably when I get married), Do I want my father to say "finally, now we'll be able to keep that room of yours clean!" Or do I want to hear him joyfully echo the master in another one of Jesus' parables:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much
Matt 25:21
 Everything we own on this earth isn't truly ours. As the Psalmist has said:
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein.
Ps 24:1
 It's all His property, we are merely His stewards. Let us all use the blessings that He has given us for His glory.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get off my paltry soap box and get back to vacuuming.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Unrelated, and Yet, Related

I was journaling about a conversation that I had with a dear friend of mine today, and as I typed out something that she said it suddenly hit me like it was new to me.

"Our father"

My friend and I aren't related in any way, and yet, we are. She's my sister, I'm her brother. We have the same Father in heaven, He's adopted both of us into His family for all eternity. We christians have such a deep, familial connection with each other here on earth that I think is very rarely ever really realized. At least, I know I have seldom ever really thought of it, much less comprehended the significance of it. Just the thought of it is bewildering to me. God isn't only a Father to the fatherless, he has also given the fatherless a family to surround them, guide them, correct them, and encourage them.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, ~Ephesians 2:19

Friday, January 9, 2015

Reflections From the Past

Most people who know me will have at one point or another discovered that I am a journal keeper.

Now, let us get a couple of pesky definitions out of the way. Technically I suppose I actually keep a diary, because it's a "my-eyes-only" (save the rare occasion that I share an entry), deeply reflective and introspective account of my thoughts during the day, conversations I had, and things that I read. The word diary has such a feminine connotation to it that I have decided, in keeping with the title of this blog and despite the fact that it is technically more accurate, that I will allow the ladies to claim this word as their own, and I shall stick to journaling.

Anyway, I have pondered from time to time just why I keep this record of my life. I didn't used to always be like this you know. I have tried to keep a journal a number of times, but each time my efforts proved futile, and each time I eventually simply stopped writing. But in 2013 I started writing again, usually about once a week and kept at it. Maybe because my life was more interesting, and I had more to write about. Either way, at the turn of the new year I decided to try journaling every day for a month. I enjoyed that so much (and actually found things to write about each day) that I've continued doing so, rarely missing a day (and if I do, I always go back and attempt to reconstruct it.)

But my why is something that I think about, particularly since I so often cringe when going over my old entries. Why do I do this thing which it seems has only one purpose: to enshrine in history how immature I used to be. And far greater is my consternation when I think of others examining my innermost thoughts at some later date! But now, friend and reader, if you've stuck with me in my meandering thoughts for this long, I've finally arrived at the inspiration for this little journey of self reflection. It was a quote I discovered on my equally meandrous ventures on the internet about journaling.
“We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.” ~Joan Didion 
I know that for most of us (or perhaps I'm the only one, but I think not) looking back on who we used to be, "whether we find them attractive company or not," usually results in feelings of embarrassment that we once were the way we were. But I think this embarrassment is the wrong attitude to have towards our past. Who we once were should be a constant reminder of all that the Holy Spirit has wrought in our lives.

Looking back on our past, regardless of how vile, repulsive, or objectionable it is, should drive us ever further into our Father's arms, and cause an ever greater gratitude to well up inside us  for the saving work of Christ. So in this sense, my journal really serves as a record of the Holy Spirit's redeeming work in me. A log book of how I've changed over the years through His grace. It's also a mortifying reminder of who I once was, indeed would still be, were it not for the work of my Savior on the Cross. Praise God for His kindness and grace towards a sinner like me!


P.S. I know I didn't really get to my why, just my what. So maybe I'll go more in depth on my why at a later date. We'll see.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Son of God, How Can it Be?

I just finished the chapter titled Sons of Godin J.I. Packers phenomenal book Knowing God, and it has opened my eyes to the reality of what it means to be a Christian more than any other singular book (the bible aside) that I have ever read. We've all heard the word 'adoption' before, and we've all read about how God is our heavenly Father, but these terms have always seemed (though I didn't realize it before) etherial to me.

But now, though I still feel that my eyes are almost completely shut, I feel as though I have caught a glimpse into just what it means to be a son of God. To be adopted into His family. To be reconciled to the Maker of all things by His own Son, and to now be counted a brother with Christ, heir to the inheritance of God. Just thinking about it make my head swirl, and my heart throb.

A Son of God. 

How is that even possible? We read about princes, and princesses, and knights, and royalty, and they all seem like such marvelous things... for other people. We even hear about people being adopted into royalty (more in the past then in the present though). Usually the adopted son or daughter is someone who is old enough to have proven that they are worthy of royalty. They have the character, discipline, intelligence, and insight to hold the position of familial relationship with those in power.

But our God, our King, the Creator of the universe, has adopted us into His family to be His sons and daughters, not because we were particularly mature, intelligent, or kind (quite the contrary) but simply because He loved us because of who He is. He didn't adopt us because we are lovable, He adopted us because He is loving. We have been made, by His free grace, sons and daughters of the one who is called the Most High, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. But there's yet another title by which He has said we may address Him, one of kindness, tenderness, love, affection, guidance, and closeness And one by which I feel I am just now beginning to truly comprehend it's depth:

I call Him Father.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Don't Have Time. (Really?)

"When I get home from work I don't have enough time to do the things that have to get done, " You say. 
 "I just don't have time to read books, " You lament.
"I'd love to read more books, but..."
But, but, but.

Excuses, that's what I hear Paul, excuses. Reasons why you can't, or wont, do the things that you say are important to you.

But my dear Paul, don't you have two (government mandated) 15 minute breaks at work? 
"Well yes..."
And what do you do on said breaks?
"Oh I do lots of things, I check my G+, FaceBook, The Blaze, get distracted, go on rabbit trails, etc."
So you have time to do all that, and yet you don't have time to read books?
This was my conscience convicting me this morning as I was trying to figure out how I could get more book reading into my daily life. None of us have as much time as we would like. But that's why we have to be purposeful in how we spend the time that we have been given. Google+ is great, as is FaceBook and the rest, but on my work breaks I'm going to prioritize reading good literature (and occasionally posting about it).

How about you? How will you capitalize on the spare moments between tasks? Will you fritter them away, or will you "redeem the time" (Eph 5:16) for the furtherance of Christ's Kingdom?


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