Tag Archives: Purpose Driven Life

Calling From God that Goes Beyond the Natural Life

Couter Cultural Christianity“11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.” (Galatians 2:11:17).

The Call of God and the Authenticity of the Gospel

Politics, nepotism, and social pressure from cultural religious networks of people are nothing new to the religious world. In fact, the context of this scripture suggest that these forces were at work placing pressure upon the early servant of the faith and many times severely hindered the work they were trying to accomplish. Look at the words of Paul as he spoke of his past life and the way he was entrenched in a religious system of belonging, controls, and social pressure creating conformity to the ideas of men, which equaled religious humanism in the 1st century. Unfortunately, those immersed in these cultural representations could not see the problems associated with these socio-cultural entrenchments because of  their ingroup affiliation that validated their life and existence. Thinking upon this morning, I am reminded of how much that churches have become social units,that are heavily influenced by traditions of the world and have moved away from a clear sense of calling from God, and have become social units that propagate cultural Christianity that is indigenous to a culture and not subjected to the scripture or submissive to God.

The Counter cultural Message

The apostle Paul presents a counter cultural message that asserts that its source is God alone. Therefore, the call of God is not a call to serve Him through contact with God and that contact with the nature of God will develop my understanding of the call and the direction it will take. Further, contact with God will assist me in gaining an understanding of what the call of God means for my life and how the call is to be measured out into definable actions. The call of God is an expression of His nature; the service, which results in my life, is best suited to me and is an expression of my nature that God has created in me and works through me. A deviation that occurred from the natural life was stated by the apostle Paul that was initiated by God—“When it pleased God . . . to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him [the message purely and solemnly expressing Him alone] among the Gentiles”

The Call and the Developing Understanding

Two challenges speak very loudly as I read Paul’s statement about the way he received and understood the message. The word revelation is overused, misused, and misunderstood by many Christians to mean some private mystical and private word from God that others have not heard. That was the heretical teaching of 1st century Gnostics, the experience of paranoid schizophrenics, as well as, other cults and mental disorders. Therefore, this application leaves a a unreliable etiology to reliably understand what revelation points toward. It is abundantly clear that the Bible is the only revelation of God that we will ever need and is the full disclosure of the supreme revelation, Jesus Christ. When Paul says that he received his message by revelation, it was not until his eyes were opened by Jesus and he could see past the temple, the Torah, the Targums, the Mishnah, and the Rabbinical writings that were a part of his enculturation. Then, as he met Jesus, his eyes were opened past His acculturation. God took the things that he had been taught in the Old Testament writings and revealed Jesus that he had not seen before because he was blinded by everything that he was absorbed in within his culture believing he was doing right and everything within him that attributed meaning, as he understood it from a human cultural perspective. Then Jesus cleared it up for him in a process of three years. As I read this, I am really aware that the word of God is of no private interpretation and God has a process of revealing His message, but it comes when we become aware of Him and separate ourselves to let His word speak to us that we might understand the revelation of God. A firm conclusion reveals that Jesus is the revelation that made the message clear as Paul’s previous knowledge was clarified by an encounter with Christ, God’s supreme revelation

Separation to Service

Service does not result from belonging to a ingroup, it results from belonging to Jesus and being devoted to Him alone. The message determines the mission and service is the overflow, which pours from a life filled with love and devotion for the Savior who calls us to a radical mission. Service is my gift of obedience in the relationship and reflections my identification with the nature of God that has been revealed to me. Service becomes a natural part of my life when I have separated myself from cultural Christianity to radical Christianity that elevates the Gospel to its proper place of priority in our life and the church. Service occurs when God breaks my will and brings me into the proper relationship with Him in order that I can understand His call, and then serve Him from a pure motivation of absolute love. Service to God is the deliberate love-gift of a nature that has heard the call of God. Service is an expression of my nature, and God’s call is an expression of His nature that invites me to participate in His work. Therefore, when I accept His nature and hear His call with an understanding ear, it is at that moment that the words that God has spoken in His word are revealed clearly.

Your words oh Lord separate me from the normal way of the world to the higher ways of God that result in sacrificial service that does not come from men or through men, but are a result of an encounter with the nature of God on the road of life. Lord, Your Word comes so quietly and so pervasively to convict my heart —Lord protect me, insulate me, and isolate me from the trappings of cultural Christianity and religious conformity that has a death grip on the church. Break the bonds in Jesus name through the power of the gospel.


Have You Arrived Yet? Choosing, Forgetting, Pressing, and Reaching

“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (Viktor E. Frankl ).

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13).

Quite often in life, we encounter obstacles that tend to define all of life in a momentary experience. More often than not being able to choose the right actions and move ahead is Don't expect others to understand your journeyderailed when the focus of life is always in the present. Something that may not be obvious now is that life is always stretching toward the future. The things that we see and experience today will only be here for a moment and all we have left is tomorrow. When the apostle Paul wrote that he had not “laid hold of it yet”, he was speaking about the goal of his life. He had not arrived yet, but his attitude toward life was organized around a primary theme.  He was not going to remain where he was, but he was stretching, “pressing” toward the future that God had for him. Something important that can be taken away from this is that the ability to choose is God’s gift to us that enables life to be focused upon things that will help us reach the goal “of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.  As a result, while life may railroad our plans sometimes, Paul said, “I press“, demonstrating that he exercised an enlightened choice to reach forward to a goal of Christian living, “to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering.

Choose How You Think and You will Choose How You Behave

Something to be noted about the power within a person to choose reveals while we have little control over circumstances or the actions of others, we control our thoughts and reactions to circumstances and people. Obviously, most people can learn how to think more positive and operate with an attitude of hope, regardless of circumstances, temperament, or intellect; but it requires an intentional effort to focus energy on the right things. Indeed, the way a person chooses to act toward the transitions in life influences whether forward movement occurs and if successful goal achievement will take place. Therefore, believing in your ability to reach a goal is an integral component of the power of choice. When you believe, you can reach the immediate goal and maintain a sure footing and it will enable continuance and provide a successful foundation for leading others to believe that they are able to choose a pathway to success.

Think Positive to Act Positive

To start thinking positively, begin by living positively. Most people wait until they feel like it before taking action, but that is going about it backwards. Instead, you have to act your way into thinking. By putting desires into action, you can establish a habit of thinking correctly and the result is a positive way of acting that reflects that we intend to succeed. If you tend to think negatively, break that habit by choosing to have and exhibit a plan that is focused on the goal and the outcome of actions. Our actions reflect an attitude that we can and will.  Besides improving your personal well-being, you will model the actions that you want your followers to take as well.  As they see your commitment to being positive, they will follow your example.

Plant Seeds that Nourish Life

To reap a successful harvest, a farmer does not plant seeds and then just expect them to grow on their own. He must continually water, weed, fertilize, and nurture the growing plants if he wants them to reach maturity. Likewise, if we want a successful life, we need to spend time every day nurturing our attitude. We must nourish the seeds of positive thinking, or they won’t grow. And if we don’t pay attention to our crop, weeds of negative thinking will spring up and choke the positive plants until they die.

Focus on an Outcome

Don’t feed the weeds. It does make a difference what we think about and how we view our life. “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, and whatsoever things are of good report … think on these things.”

Pay Attention to Details in Life

Have you noticed that whenever you buy a new car, you suddenly see others driving that same model everywhere?  I’m sure you’ve figured out that those other cars were there all along; you just weren’t looking for them before. Now that you have that particular car yourself, your eye is trained to notice it.

Beliefs Drive Perception and People see What They’re Prepared to See

That’s why it’s so important to train yourself to look for the best in others. There is good in the worst of us and bad in the best of us, if we look for it hard enough. So whether you notice positive traits or imperfections depends almost entirely on what you to see. When we consciously look for the best in people, we allow their good traits to have a positive impact on our life and leadership.

Creativity Leads to Productivity

You might believe that great ideas come only to the geniuses of the world. Nevertheless, in reality, discovering an idea is more a function of attitude than aptitude. An open-minded, creative person looks for ideas anywhere he can find them. He considers every option and does not reject anything until he has thoroughly examined it for any good he can find. Thomas Edison, one of the world’s great inventors, discovered some of his best inventions after other ideas went wrong, and he found another use for them. In fact, that is exactly what happened with the phonograph. If you keep an open mind and explore every idea presented to you, other people will follow your example.  Therefore, the new ideas you discover together will contribute to your success. Many people tend to take attitude for granted. They assume that they are stuck with the attitude that they have. Yet your outlook on life, as well as, that of those you influence, can be changed.  Consequently, the impact of positive thinking is so significant that it deserves regular attention. Take an attitude inventory today, and set yourself on the right track of thinking. Before you can change your world, you must first change the way you look at the world you where you live.

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None of These Things Move Me

 “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God  (Acts 20: 24).


The Cross and PurposeChallenges that Move us Reveals What Controls Us

Challenges in life tend to bring to the surface what lies beneath the surface of what everyone else sees every day.  It is easy to fool the public with our religious sophistry and controlled appearance presented to others.  I wonder if lies were told about  us, our integrity and credibility were challenged by a group of people trying to advance their personal motives, who intentionally tried to undermine our reputation.  If efforts were made to disable the ability to succeed in our relationships with others by others who were convinced they were doing God a service, could; can we say, “But none of these things move me”.  That was the lifelong experience of the apostle Paul who was criticized, undermined, stoned, and eventually killed. A lesson for life from Paul is that the “thing that move us” under pressure is the thing that control us in the midst of challenges.  In contrast, what keeps life on track is when we have a clear sense of purpose and a self-regulation system that keeps the emotional and spiritual energy we use focused.  One of the tools of the enemy to destroy effective living is emotional distraction –“moving us”.

God’s Call Regulates Responses to Challenges

Things that that cause emotional reaction, often are things that bounce life off-center; then, emotional reaction throws life under the bus to be destroyed.  In fact, some people believe it is easier to serve or work for God without a regulating vision or without a call, because life does not require regulation to the demands of Christ.  Instead of purpose and vision, common sense covered with a layer of Christian emotion, becomes the guide for actions.  In fact, you may be more prosperous and successful from the world’s perspective, but are you?  Quite possibly, you will have more leisure time, but there will be no spiritual victory when you live a life without vision, purpose, and commitment to calling.  Without acknowledging the call of God, service to God acquiesces to a life of the soul with a visible absence of the direction of the Spirit.  However, once you commit to a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God asks of you will keep “none of these things” from derailing God’s call away from vision and purpose.  As a result, your spiritual life will no longer be a work for Him based on common sense, but ministry governed by the call of God.

What do I Most Value in Life?

Is it the accolades of the crowd, those around us, or those we are attempting to serve?  What do we really regard as “dear to myself”?  The answer to this question can become confusing because values are so often connected with feelings, emotions, and personal need.  For instance, when we are moved by a high need for affirmation, approval, and reinforcement, others can become the source of what we value most in life—the self.  If I have not come to the place of surrender that “neither count I my life dear unto myself” in the calling to Christian service, other people can become the vehicle for my need.  I am often reminded that ministry is not about me, it is about Christ and His ministry of setting people free.

Refusing to Be Moved from the Value of God’s Call

If I have not been apprehended by a commitment to Jesus Christ and have not surrendered myself to Him, I will consider the time I decide to give God and my own ideas of service as dear.  I will also consider my own life as “dear to myself” instead of a sacrifice to God in service.  Remember that Paul said he considered his life dear so that he might fulfill the ministry he had received, and he refused to use his energy on anything else.  This verse shows an almost noble annoyance by Paul at being asked to consider himself or the annoyance of others complaints.  He was absolutely, indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received.  Our ordinary and reasonable service to God may actually compete against our total surrender to Him.  Our self-reasoned service is based on the following argument, which we say to ourselves, “Remember how useful you are here, and think how much value you would be in that particular type of work”.  That attitude chooses our own conclusions, instead of Jesus Christ, being our guide as to where we should go and where we could be used the most.  We should never consider whether we are of use—but should always remember that “you are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19).  You are His and should not be moved by anything other than God’s prompting by His Spirit.

Prayer for todayHeavenly Father: may your Grace capture my heart and life into servanthood that is moved by nothing except the power of your call and the efficiency of your purpose.  Give me vision that looks beyond the obvious until my actions can say that I am moved by none of these things and count my life as nothing except to what the power of your Spirit leads me to today. Bless you Holy and Righteous name.

Finding Direction When You Have To Make a Decision

How can a good choice be made when conflicting expectations, emotions, and external control factors exert power over our will to act and inhibitCast all your anxiety our thinking processes? Making the right choice is very often not as simple as choosing something off the menu at a restaurant. The level of difficulty becomes more pronounced when there are extraneous factors that impact other people’s lives. When you are responsible for other people and you have a strong sense of concern for the well being of others, decision-making be depressing and very taxing to work through.  Unfortunately, sometimes decisions are put off until the weight of the decisions have entangled emotions, desire, relationships, and responsibility into a tangled web of confusion and indecision.  The result is often laced with anger, resentment, and a feeling of powerlessness to act and you become paralyzed on stuck on a path to failure. When you allow decision to be put off until the point that you react, sometimes the collateral damage to all of the things that you feared become magnified because you make a decision in the midst of great frustration and anxiety instead of using a well thought out plan.  At that moment,  life is out of balance and the pressures of life exacerbate the tension about choices that are made. It is the classic fight or flight impulse that drives the response. . The reality is that life events and how we value importance to events empowers responses, anxiety, and ultimate choices that are made. In Choices, by Melody Beattie, “This process of discerning what we can choose—what we do have control over—and what we can’t is the heart of mental health and the heart of the spiritual path.”

Determining what we can actually change or impact is important to the choices that we make. Steven Covey addresses this issue in our circle of influence vs. our circle of concern.  Many times we expend our efforts on things that we are concerned about, anxious about, or things out of our control to do anything about.  Covey suggests that we place our attention upon things that we can actually have an influence over and leave the things we cannot change alone.  Putting this into perspective, it means releasing the anxiety about what cannot be controlled and focusing upon the circle of influence that can actually be changed by investing energy in the right things that will make a difference in the effect upon life.  It employs a reference to looking wisely at how we invest our time in the present to create the future that we desire to see as a reality. If you are a Christian this refers to a process called  discernment, which is a word used  by Christians to describe a spiritual gift, the activity of understanding something that may not be or is not clear and obvious with God‘s help.  This is an approach is to prayerfully understand, through spiritual reflection and to make sense of something that is obscure, or not understandable in a process of spiritual reflection.  Discernment-wisdom is a description of the thinking conditioning of someone who receives intuition and understands.  It is both a state of mind an activity that occurs in the process of decision-making that engages spiritual understanding about decisions.  As a result,  discernment and problem solving comprise the essential activity which occurs in the mind utilizing creativity and thinking processes bi-directionally between the event and the desired outcome.  Unfortunately, many people separate logic and intelligence from spiritual activity, but in reality how can these two processes be divided without robbing ones self from needed input about God;s purpose in life?  Understanding what choices can be made is  a process of spiritual understanding including one’s own self under the magnifying glass of God’s unique expression of purpose in our lives.  A choice is not simply about what an individual may want to happen or even what we believe that God may want to happen; it is more about the process of choosing consistently with purpose– not what we choose or what we desire to happens to us. With a focus on outcome coupled with process,what take precedence is what we become through the choice made;  not so much the mechanics of choice.  In the mind of someone who believe in linear absolutes, it may only be that the moral absolute is important.  However, the fundamental question of importance is what impact do decisions have upon what we are learning and becoming in the process decision making?

The moment that we come to the realization about what we can control and what we cannot, it is an opportunity for Divine Grace to enable freedom from the fear of failures, responsibility, and that we have to control everything, or be responsible for everyone.  In addition, surrender to a God sized purpose frees life from compulsive perfectionism,  which allows no room for failure or being less than others expect us to be.  Perfectionism weighs life down with the burden of carrying everyone’s cross and obstructs the process of well-informed and responsible choices being made.  What becomes of life is not some much the direction that choices takes us, but it is the process of developing the individual, who learns to trust in their ability to make decisions and express faith in circumstances of change that bring personal growth.  Decisions and choices do not always bring peace with others, but it places the individual at a opportunity to confront fears and understand, self, purpose, and personal meaning, i.e,  how lie is expressed.  This process of change causes things come to the surface that need better understanding, especially about how to have a more efficient life.  In the process of decisions, it is normal to experience  anxiety.   When choices are faced that include relationships with others, outcome, success, failure, etc., it is important to find direction that best suits your purpose in life. Having an  understanding that anxiety comes from feeling  loss of control about what may or may not happen is important to developing effective decision making.  In that moment, when we face the source of anxiety and surrender of control, freedom comes about what cannot be done, which creates the ability to respond with a new-found freedom to act instead of reacting.  In that moment, we can be released from the belief about how we think things have to be to have a happy life.  Consequently, there is the potential to experience new possibility when we use our head, our heart, and our faith to make choices.

When we fret about decisions and focus upon what we can’t control or change, there will always be the challenge faced from mental stress affecting the spiritual condition of our peace.  Be honest with yourself, when you express anxiety, worry, and over-controlling behaviors, it will not bring the outcome one step closer.  Rather, peace comes through putting things into perspective, placing attitudes and emotions in focus, and putting faith in the right place.  Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” (Matt 6; 33).  This sounds like a good place to start with choices faced, what do you think?

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The Postmodern Age and the Decline of Western Spiritual Meaning

Adam and Eve Driven out of Eden, by Gustave Do...Postmodernism:  A general and wide-ranging term which is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others. Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.

Postmodernism is “post” because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of their being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody – a characteristic of the so-called “modern” mind. The paradox of the postmodern position is that, in placing all principles under the scrutiny of its skepticism, it must realize that even its own principles are not beyond questioning. As the philosopher Richard Tarnas states, postmodernism “cannot on its own principles ultimately prove itself any more than can the various metaphysical overviews against which the postmodern mind has defined itself.” (Postmodernism)

Postmodernism: — a state of mind or way of thinking in the post-modern world affecting every area of western culture

A general understanding reveals that postmodernism is a term that has gained popularity in scholarly writing as well as casual conversations. In fact, Thomas Guarino (1996) says, “It’s a “movement” that has inspired raging debates about ‘the cult theory’ [in the 1930’s] across the arts and sciences” (p. 654). One of the core issues of postmodern philosophy is the denial of absolutes across groups and lends itself to logical positivism and relativity as a maxim of truth.  As a result, the intention of this article about postmodernism is not to solve the debate, but to understand the influence that state of mind held has upon contemporary beliefs about spirituality.

What Does  Postmodernism Describe?

A description given by Daniel J. Adams (1997) says, “The postmodern era can best be understood in terms of four major characteristics: the decline of the West, the legitimation crisis, the intellectual marketplace, and the process of deconstruction” (Toward a theological understanding of postmodernism).

The perspective of Adams demonstrates is a fundamental shift in thinking in this period that began in a specific era of  time and is associated with significant phenomenon occurring simultaneously in Western Culture that is characterized with the period of decline of spirituality. His analysis of Western Decline draws attention to a point of view that is fundamental to an evolution of spiritual meaning that has correlates to historical-cultural development.  To illustrate, Adams (1997) says, “the legitimation crisis, identified with metanarrative shows [what] is now being seriously called into question” (2). Unlimited development and capitalistic movement in American ideology versus environmental pollution, limited resources, concerns about nuclear proliferation—use of energy, environmental threats, third world poverty, and the goals of the NAFTA have deligitimated descriptions that had characterized capitalism and the past success of the West. Postmodern thinking is characterized by a shift in state of mind about core beliefs that are delegitimized in an essential devaluation of past matters of importance.

Adams, draws attention to another significant development correlated to Western Decline the, “metanarrative of Judeo-Christian sexual ethic” (p. 2)  characterizing American culture.  His perspective identifies the shift of views about sexuality chastity, homosexuality, marriage, divorce, and traditional view of marriage as another deconstructed normative value in culture. With Judeo-Christian ethics disempowered from authoritative acceptance, norms from the past are replaced with a plurality of views with no central source of knowledge or universally held value to describe a way of life experience in America. Deligitimation in postmodern life of the Judeo Christian ethic demonstrates changing beliefs about marriage, sexual behavior, and accepted norms indicate a shifting emphasis from the views of the past.

A perspective about the impact of postmodernism upon Christian thought is offered by David Couchman (2002) who describes how mind-set has been altered, he states: “if you drop a frog into boiling water, it will jump out immediately, but if you put it in cold water and heat it slowly, you can boil it alive because it does not realize what is happening. … We think we know what is going on, while the culture in which we are immersed is slowly killing us without our realizing it” (Couchman, 2002, p. p. 74). Thus the effect of postmodernism is not readily recognize because culture has been inoculated in a gradual process of change that has brought dramatic change in the decline of western thought about many important cultural issues that have placed a profound effect upon spiritual values and beliefs in the 21st century.

References Adams, D. L. (1997). Toward a theological understanding of postmodernism. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from Crosscurrents: http://crosscurrents.orh/adams.html

Couchman, D. (2002). Facing the challenge of our times equipping christians to respond biblically and effectively to postmodernism. Evangel , 20 (3), pp. 74-78 retrieved from EBSCOhost March 09, 2011.

Guarino, T. (1996). Postmodernity and five fundamental theological issues [electronic version]. Theological Studies , 57 (4), Retrieved from EBSCOhost March 30,2011.

Postmodernism. http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/postm-body.html

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God Knows about the Depth of Emotional Pain we Feel

Stress Reduction KitWhat is it that get’s on your very last nerve?  It is not your sweet spot, it is your hot spot.  In fact, there is something that all of us are facing that is wearing us thin today. Those are the things  that raise the temperature, creates stress, and causes things that would not normally to bother us to become larger than life. There times we get frustrated about the events of life and feel that no one cares or knows how we really feel. Yes, we even question if God really cares about what we experience in the times of disappointment and frustration. It is at times like this that we are overly concerned with the activity – what is happening or not happening – and not the process. In the process of frustration, disappointment, and discouragement; our response can be to give up.  However,  if during these times, we can understand that God knows about what we are going through and that nothing is escaping His watchful eye or concern– then frustration can turn into faith.  What does the Bible say about frustration in the life of the believer?

Psalm 31:7 says, that God knows the depth and emotional impact of problems upon our lives, “you God have listened to all my troubles and have seen the crisis in my soul.”  Now, some of you may think, “Nobody knows what I’m going through, nobody feels the pain I’m going through.”  But listen, God knows for sure.  Indeed, He knows our feelings and frustrations …  He has seen the crisis in the soul. Also, in Psalm 56:6,  we are told that He is fully aware of the emotional intensity caused by continued frustration, “You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears.”  So, what does this mean to us today?   It means that  there is no hurt that goes unnoticed by God.  He has seen it all, He sees it all, and will continue to see it all — He knows exactly what we are feeling.

Have you experienced times that you have you felt that those around you in the church who are spiritual leaders have abandoned you at the hour of need?   In Galatians 6, there is instruction about the matter of hurting people and the spiritual responsibility to them, “Brethren, if you over take your brother in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering your own self, lest you also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. ”  While people may,  at times, fall idly through the fault lines of ministry in the church,  one thing we can be certain of is that,  God knows exactly what you are going through,  where you are at, and is concerned about what is happening in your frustration.

Often when people are hurting it is common to feel isolated,  very lonely,  even when there are people all around.  Maybe there’s been a death in the family,  a divorce, maybe a lost job and you feel the sting of the crisis deeply.  What an ideal time it could be for some spiritual person to come alongside and encourage, restore, and minister a sense of Godly concern.  However,  because no one calls, no one comes by to check on the person,  they feel all alone, isolated, and think, “Nobody understands the way I feel, nobody can tell the way I feel, nobody feels the pain.”  You may feel like that even right now, but let me assure you of one thing: no matter what you are going through, God knows.  He understands our hurts,  the feeling of isolation, and the frustration that is being experienced.

In Psalm 103:13-14,  instruction is provided for readers to realize that God’s loving concern is always faithful, “He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic for he knows what we are made of — dust.” He’s our creator.  The fact is:  God is sympathetic to my hurts and your hurts. Not only does He see, He cares.  God understands why it happened.

He knows the causes, the reasons, the things that brought you to this point.  He sees how it all fits together.  The Bible says He understands because He made us.  He knows my thoughts, my failures, my feelings, my frustrations.  He sees the hurt in your heart.  While no one else may care enough to … , God is always present in the hour of need – He is omniscient.  Placing your trust in religious people,  preachers,  prophets,  and churches is often the route that leads to disappointment — God is always faithful to you because He knows and continues to love — no matter what.

What should I do?  In Psalm 142:3 it tells us that,  “When I am ready to give up,  He knows what I should do.”  It is God that has the answer and holds the future in His hand.  Others may tell you that your just over-reacting or make you feel like what is happening to you is not important, but listen; it is important to understand that God is not only omniscient,  He is sovereign and is uniquely interested in all that is happening in your life.  You may be ready to give up, but God is not.  He knows what is happening and what you ought to do– He has a plan for your life.

If He sees and understand the pain that you feel, what should you do right now?  A place to begin is in 1 Peter 5:7, where a solution is provided, “Cast all your cares on the Lord, for He cares for you.”  Cast them all permanently,  once and for all and don’t take them back.  Give Him your hurts just like you give Him your faults,  every area of your life.   Then, let God resolve the frustration that you feel about your life, what has happened, and what the future will hold.  He is omniscient and He is sovereign.

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What Does it Mean to be a Christian?

Carbon CopySome people may ask, “why be a Christian” and “what does it really mean to be a Christian?” An easy way to avoid the answer is to point out that it depends who you ask and dismiss the question. So, where we will get the answer from?  If people were going to be surveyed on Facebook, you might get answers about what you have to do and ideas that must be believed to be a Christian, i.e. doing something or believing things in a certain way.

However, an important place to start is by considering what Jesus says about this this life that has been labeled as Christianity.

When we carefully consider the words of Jesus in contrast to many things that you may hear a bout Christianity, “What Jesus promises is not a gimmick to give you goose bumps nor a mental attitude that has to be pumped up at pep rallies. No, Matthew 5 describes God’s radical reconstruction of the heart.”(Lucado)

If heart reconstruction is what Christianity is about; then what the the ways Christian living affects the passions and motivation for living?

In The Applause of Heaven, listen to the reflection of the words of Jesus.

“Observe the sequence. First, we recognize we are in need (we’re poor in spirit). Next, we repent of our self-sufficiency (we mourn). We quit calling the shots and surrender control to God (we’re meek). So grateful are we for his presence that we yearn for more of him (we hunger and thirst). As we grow closer to him, we become more like him. We forgive others (we’re merciful). We change our outlook (we’re pure in heart). We love others (we’re peacemakers). We endure injustice (we’re persecuted).

What reasonable observation can be made from the teaching of Jesus about transformation?

Christianity is not about doing something or necessarily ideals held in a vault somewhere that are protected from contamination, it is about a state of being.

The teaching of Jesus emphasizes citizens of the kingdom are invested in a spiritual relationship demonstrating character traits possessing an enduring effect upon life experience of the person and results in happiness, “Blessed”   People often say, “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”  Many people first characterize Christianity by conformity to a code of behaviors, but it is conformity to Christ that provides the identity not conformity to behaviors. Because Christian identity comes from Christ, the inner attitude demonstrating belief results in behavior. An important distinction to make reveals that Jesus advocates for a life of being resulting in characterological (enduring) traits demonstrating that a relationship with Christ has caused a transformation that is evident in the heart.

Christianity is about a developmental process and takes time.

Many people think of the things they see from from Christians as the final product and are quick to stigmatize all by a judgement made about reactions to Westboro Baptist or some other objectionable act.  However, at the same time, grace is extended to others who fail repeatedly, publicly, and do damage to others. A critical question for the individual making a claim to Christianity is whether they have really embarked on the journey of transformation.

Jesus teaches that patience precedes piosity and condemnation.  It was the religious crowd that had the wrong approach and who condemned those who did not conform to the rule and idea of religious tradition of the day.  Becoming a Christian in character is not conformity to an appearance, ritual, or culture, and becoming does not happen overnight.  Character traits are developed in a life lived against the wind in a refining and reflective process of listening to God, internalizing truth, and being changed in a process of development.

Observation: Today is a day that can begin a new process and what happened yesterday is yesterday.  Quit trying to do something, conform to someone, and be something someone else has prescribed.  Let your relationship with God shape your character and empower a life that is a sweet smelling fragrance going up before God that is a well pleasing sacrifice to God.  It is a place to start.

If you don’t know Jesus, he died for you sins, accept his gift by faith of eternal life and ask him to come into your heart and life and save you from the power of sin and He will forgive you, if you ask.  You can become a Christian today and begin the journey of faith.