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Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Our world and culture are completely stuck in the way of suffering and pain. Tragedy and fear fill our daily news stories with school shootings, devastating storms, genocide, disease, poverty, hunger, slavery, and the list goes on.

We are surrounded by pain.

I have also spent the past decade journeying and listening to the sound of suffering in others. The heart hurts and takes a beating from the words and actions of others. We all feel the effects of bad decisions, careless words, and the wake of selfish behaviors.

We can’t help but wonder why? Where is God in the midst of all of this pain and suffering?

How do we trust in a God who seemingly allows bad things to happen without stepping in? How do we trust in a God who seems inattentive, uninvolved, unaware, or even late?

As I think of these questions, I can’t help but also hear Peter’s words to Jesus as the storm raged against their boat one night, “Teacher! Don’t you care if we drown!?

I think one thing we fail to remember is that sin is very much present in lives, culture, and world. There is no where that is safe from sin. Atrocities and pain are the result of sin. The manifestation of sin knows no bounds. It has no limits or reasoning. Sin only has a savior.

My pastor in DC lives by two mantras that I love. He states that first, “God has always responded to suffering with incarnation,” and second, “if you are suffering, longing, or hurting, Jesus’ presence is what you get.

I feel like we are quick to blame God before blaming sin. Sin is ugly and dark. The consequences of sin run deep. Instead of looking at sin we wonder what happened to God. Did He forget? Was He unaware? Does He even care?

The truth is that nobody slips through the cracks when it comes to God. He knows and sees and cares deeply about all things. He cares about the pain of sin. God is an “in the midst” kind of God. He is ever present weeping with us in our pain. Suffering was not part of our original design and yet sits with us in ours.

God is far from being unaware or inattentive. Scriptures proves this promise that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

When the storm of life feels like we are drowning, He is there. In the midst of hurting, pain, and longing, He is present. When all we see or feel is suffering, He is incarnate.

Grateful for a God who is always in the midst.

I pose the question to you:

How do you trust a God who___________?

Where is God in the midst of your life right now?

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I have a passion for traveling. My heart is fully alive when my passport is stamped. There is nothing like it for me. To be honest, traveling is the only time I really embrace “all things new” in my life.

I have traveled overseas 20 different times. I have experienced some crazy cultures from a semester “studying” in Spain, living life with people in the Middle East, practicing my tortilla making skills in Mexico, almost being traded for two rugs in Turkey by my mom (not really), perfected my “oopa!” in the Greek Isles, ate my way through Italy, and rocked the adventures of backpacking and serving around South Africa.

I always try and purse living life the local way when traveling.

You might read that list and think “how fun!” Don’t get me wrong, I have had the time of my life. I honestly can’t imagine the “me” I would be without those experiences.

Traveling has changed the way I see and experience God. My world view and faith have been directly impacted by those experiences.

I am so grateful for the ways all of those places have left their stamps on me.

Through traveling, I have also been exposed to many different levels of darkness and sin. Sin is definitely cross-cultural. My eyes and heart have been exposed to some heavy things. There is nowhere in the world sin has missed.

Every time I leave a country, I am more broken and grateful for the redemption of God.

I have engaged in hundreds of conversations with people who have had overseas experiences. Everyone has different responses to what they saw. One thing I cannot shake is when people see darkness and sin and blame God for not doing something.

We have all heard questions asked like, “why do bad things happen to good people?” or “How could God let this happen?”

One thing that has always puzzled me is how quick we can be to blame God before blaming sin.

Sin is ugly and tragic. We can catch glimpses of its darkness when we are exposed to things like human trafficking, child abuse, rape, murder, slavery, oppression, corruption, hate crimes, holocausts, and genocides.

I do believe that God has those in mind when He sent his son. All people, everywhere, experience sin, as well as the wages of death that come with it. God is standing in the midst of the darkest of sin wanting to extend the invitation of redemption.

It was Jesus who was crucified on the cross, and with arms already extended, invited the worst of the worst sinner next to him to join Him in paradise.

Why do bad things happen to good people? I don’t have the answer for all scenarios, but sin is dark, and it is real. Sin affects good people who never ask for it.

Where is God when it comes to darkness and atrocities? He’s in the midst of it, desperate not to lose one, but extending the arms of redemption.

In what ways do you see yourself and others blaming God for what sin is responsible for?

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I often ask myself the questions of what am I wired to do? What are my gifts and talents? How has God made my personality to reveal who He is?

These are questions of the doings of my heart, but what about the deeper things? Why does God care about me? Who am I that you are mindful of me?

I think I can lose sight of some deeper values of God.

Andy Stanley talks about how we can miss a vital part about who God is when we only look at salvation. Yes, Jesus did save us from life apart from God. He has redeemed us, but there is more. God has not only saved us, but desires to reconcile us to an original relationship plan.

I know I can get stuck on just seeing Jesus as the forgiver of my sins, and the one who stands in the gap for me to be reconciled to the father.

I often miss the relationship.

We are all created to know and be known. We were created to enjoy and be enjoyed by a perfect relationship. We were created to belong, be loved, and be cherished. Jesus came to offer that message as well. When we decide to accept Jesus’ invitation for salvation we are also accepting an invitation to being reconciled to a place of a restored relationship.

In Him, I am spoken for.

In Him, I belong.

In Him, I am someone’s someone.

In Him, I am enough.

In Him, I am loved.

In Him, I have trust.

There is a brokenness in my relationship with God. One that started back when sin entered, and one that I up hold when I forget that my original design is to be known and know an intimate relationship with Him.

The brokenness in my relationship with Him affects every area and relationship in my life. I know my other relationships walk with a limp because of it.

Jesus has a message that was deeper than just saving us from hell. I am so grateful for salvation. Eternally grateful, but I don’t want to miss the deeper message He is also offering.

We were designed to know and be known through a perfect relationship. Sin has tainted the original plan, but it is not lost. He still desires me.

Who am I, that you are mindful of me?

I am His.

How is your relationship with Him doing?

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Sometimes I just feel like I only have a voice shouting to God from a distance. Sometimes I just see through the lenses that are filled with wounds, scars, and sin. My jaded self-perception gets stuck on seeing the old me; the dirty and weighted down me. Sometimes I see a me that only seems to reflect the lies of being the “un-able.” Through those jaded lenses, I see a me that is un-lovable, un-ownable, and un-worthyable. Those are the “un-ables” in me.

I will admit that sometimes I only have the guts to yell out to God from a distance. I see the state of my heart and keep my distance. It’s in those times I have missed the reality of who Jesus really is.

Through reading the story of the Ten Leper’s, I see myself through the eyes of one.

Leper’s are the outcast and disgrace of a community. They are forced to live outside of the life and love of the “clean.” I find myself there so many times. My heart is messy.

One night, ten leper’s had a chance to connect with one who was not only clean, but one who could make them clean again. So they shouted from a distance, bringing the only thing left to bring, their voice. Jesus stopped, took time to meet them where they were. Jesus used his voice to make them well.

One man recognized his deep healing. One man recognized that Jesus’ voice made all things new in him. One man took that same voice used earlier from distance and knelt before Jesus. A voice redeemed. A shouting voice now spoke softly on it’s knees praising the salvation of a savior.

Jesus took one voice, who only knew worthiness only from a distance, and drew him close. Jesus only heard a voice of his beloved. Jesus only saw a man who was his child and worthy of healing.

I have been a voice begging and shouting from a distance. I have experienced times of only being able to see through fogged covered lenses. Jesus hears me, always, and invites me to himself. I have a choice to hear his voice and go on with my day, healed, but empty. I also have the choice to return to the voice of  my healer.

We have two choice: to either experience the healing or experience the healer.

Which will you choose?

Do you have the guts to call out?

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I am feeling the weight of sorry. It feels caving to my chest.

I feel like I can’t say sorry enough. It feels like the only word I have right now. I feel the weight of my sorry.

I am very aware of my sin. I am aware of the weight and affects of my sin. I feel stuck in the place of sorry.

I wish there was a deeper word for sorry. I wish there was a word that took the sting from sorry away. I see my shortcomings and failures. I see my self-sufficient choices that have left me staring at a pile of sorry. My shoulders drop as I have made the choices to enable my heart to feel this way.

I can’t seem to say sorry enough to the Lord. I have sinned against him. I am sorry for keeping him waiting on me. I hate that. I know I don’t have to keep apologizing to the Lord. I know he forgives, and has already forgiven, my sin. Sorry is the offering I have.

I feel caught in the mood swings of the psalms. One psalm David is on top of the praising God world, and the next he is offering of a broken and contrite heart. That’s me.

Sorry is humiliating. Not the act of apologizing, although that is no fun either, but broken pride requires humility.

I am trying to sit in my sorry. It sucks. All I have is surrender. I think I am finally ready for it.

Today I have a choice. Today I have a chance, a decision, and opportunities.

How will you choose today?

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In school we were taught by the bell curve, right? People fell somewhere in the curve. Depending on where I was, I would judge others who were above and well, there wasn’t really a below me. I always appreciated those who brought the curve up for me.

I see this mentality in myself, as well as others, when it comes to our weaknesses. We have created this bar of greater and lesser weaknesses. We are usually the bar. Similarly to the bell curve in school, we figure out where others weaknesses fall in comparison to our own. There are different weight levels associated with different weaknesses. Again, we place ourselves as the bar in which others either fall above or below where we sit.

Jesus came two thousand years ago and redefined the bell curve. Jesus came preaching the words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

As a counselor, and friend, I have been in countless conversations where someone has acknowledged their weaknesses. Each time I can literally see bondage melts away. Spoken weakness is a powerful thing. There is such freedom and exhale that comes from saying our weaknesses out loud.

There is a lot of fear that comes from revealing our hidden tracks. There is a long time lie that states that there is someone perfect out there who has no weakness. The bell cure keeps us believing that weakness is varied by levels. However, the truth is that everyone has an alternative for Christ. Everyone has experienced life on a hidden track.

The truth is that Jesus sees all sin the same. To Jesus, sin is what separates us from him. That is what he cares about. Weaknesses are similar. Weaknesses, if not talked about, keep us on the hidden track. That is what God cares about. He sees separation.

Separation is what I want to care about as well. Not the weight of the weakness, but the heart that is struggling to surrender control to him.

The lies that keep us attached to our weakness may sound like this:

  • No one will like you.
  • You will be rejected if you talk about your weakness.
  • You will be made fun of and thought less of as a result of your weakness.
  • Nothing good will come from talking about your weakness.
  • You are the only person who has experience in your weakness.
  • You are alone.

Spoken weakness dispels bondage. Weakness that is surrendered brings connection and community. “Power is made perfect in weakness.” Weakness is acknowledged dependence on God. The fruit of acknowledge weakness is obedience.

I have seen so many deep and authentic communities display God’s power and glory from acknowledged weaknesses. It is hard and definitely not fun, but it’s worth it. Some of my best friendships are from shared weaknesses.

God is waiting to make perfect power with you. Will you risk your weakness?

How?

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I miss the days of discovering hidden tracks on my tapes and CD’s. That is the one thing about ITunes that is a bummer. I remember when I would leave a tape or CD running with out noticing and then all of a sudden a song would start playing. I loved the hidden track songs. Sometimes I like the hidden track song more than any song on the album.

I adopted this hidden track method when I would make mix tapes and CD’s for friends. (Let’s just take a moment for the days of mixed tapes…) My brother and I would leave a signature song as our hidden track. It was always “Manamana” from the muppets.

There is another hidden track in life that has got my heart welly. I decided to back and read about when the first hidden track started.

Before the fall of Adam and Eve, they experienced perfect intimacy with God. There was nothing between them that was unseen or unknown. It was perfect. This is how life was meant to be.

Then the bait of deception was taken. The apple was eaten. Sin shattered perfection.

What happens next has left me feeling gut punched. I have read this story a thousand times, but my heart is tender over this brokenness.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.

This was the first time that Adam had to be called by the Lord. This is the first time that perfect intimacy was not shared. Fear and shame entered a perfect relationship. Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presences of the Lord and chose the hidden track.

For the first time I think I really understand what was lost that day. Is it weird to mourn the loss of what could have been?

I know I have chosen the hidden track of life more than I would like to admit. I have experienced times of trading security for fig leaves and confidence for fear.The hidden track reveals just how deceptive the heart is above all else.

Adam had heard the voice of the Lord so many times, and for the first time he was “afraid.

I feel the loss of knowing unbroken relationship in his presence. I have experienced too much of life indulging in the false advertising of the hidden track. God always calls for me in his faithfulness.

Is it weird to feel sad over the fact that he has to call to me? I am sitting here humbled that he never stops pursuing me, never stops calling out to me, and never stops drawing me near. I crave the relationship that is unashamed, fearless, and near to him.

I feel the weight of my choices that have enabled the hidden track in my life. I am laying down my fig leaves. I desire life where hearing God’s voice makes me exhale and not afraid. The bait of deception is life on the hidden track. Freedom comes from life experienced in his presence.

Which track are you on?

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