If by chance you have been reading my readandponder.com blog posts on Facebook AND if by chance you have sent me a friend request that I’ve ignored, this post is for you. I am just not comfortable accepting friends I don’t know but I want you to know it means a great deal to me if you are following my posts. I would love to continue sharing my thoughts on faith with you but my request is that you click the link to take you to the WordPress page and select “Follow” there and take advantage of the Comment section to share your thoughts with me as well. You will continue to be able to read the posts on Facebook as usual but you will be encouraging me by that process. Just like you I’m on a journey I believe God has chosen for me. It’s a journey of learning to live by faith every day and with every post. My comfort comes from the realiation that I’m not alone because you’re there with me. ❤
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
This would be a perfect world if verse 8 could only be true. Post-election the exact opposite seems to be the case in our nation. It’s a dangerous truth right now. There doesn’t seem to be bottom line of thought from which to begin to work toward agreement let alone imagine like-mindedness. I’m caught trying to figure out who’s the enemy in this whole mess.
There’s an enemy at work, for sure, but contrary to the evidence of the emotional response to this election, it’s not of our making. Evil is the enemy. It’s an enemy that’s chosen to wreak havoc among us. It’s an enemy that’s clever enough to know how to do just that; by wearing the disguise of the choice you “didn’t” want. Either choice!
This enemy is afraid of the truth of these two verses. Verse 8 is God’s vision of what he’d like us to be, and verse 9 is reality of how to see through the enemy’s disguise to get there. When you can’t stand what’s happening, kneel.
I John 5:6-10a & 11-12a NASB
6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life…
“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…”. The Spirit, the water and the blood have been, and are still, testifying in your life. It’s easy to recognize that testimony after you’ve been adopted into God’s family. But what about those years before? Those three were not just standing in the wings hoping you might come to your senses. They were there testifying to you about the reality of Christ.
I was baptized when I was about 12. There was some huddled whispering among relatives at that time that was mysterious to me. Some of the mystery became clear shortly after my baptism when I learned the only Dad I’d ever known wasn’t my birth father at all but the process for adoption had been put in motion. The name I had been baptized with wasn’t actually my new name…yet. That process took years but I came home one day to find my Dad with papers in hand weeping because I was finally his daughter.
It doesn’t make a bit of difference what the human details were. The participants might not have been perfect or even particularly religious. The Lord in his mercy, saw that young girl and was testifying to her about another adoption that would take another 15 or 16 years: this time by a heavenly Dad.
Like me, you were not adopted into God’s family because he’d waited long enough…or by the skin of your teeth…or your wise choices. Long before that adoption became a reality there was a process in motion: testimony was happening. Don’t overlook it. That recognition can be one of the strengths in your life. Think back and see for yourself how faithful God has been to you both Before and After.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Monday morning I heard that my favorite knitting, spinning, weaving and gathering spot here in Florida had burned to the ground overnight. Philippians 3 came onto my radar this morning with search for what the Bible has to say about Loss and Everything.
I know it’s just a store. I know it’s not the worst loss but nevertheless it’s a real loss. We gathered there and became friends with shared interests. We learned new skills and shared tips and laughter. In large part that was due to the generosity of the shop owner who managed to create an environment where people wanted to meet together every week. That place is gone but we are still going to meet together today…not in that lost shop…but in one of those friend’s home.
Here’s my connection to Philippians. Paul doesn’t soft peddle loss by any means, it’s big to lose everything. His words force me to consider this loss as a real-life lesson, not just in terms of all that was lost in that fire but from the perspective of what, and who, “everything” really is.
Excerpts from Mark 3 NIV
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts…9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him…21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”…
I’m having a negative reaction to everything I read today. I don’t like reading that Jesus was angry and distressed. I don’t like that he made plans to keep himself away from the people. I don’t like that his own family was ready to haul him away because they thought he was out of his mind. This is a clear indicator that I’m deeply involved in romanticizing the human Jesus and I don’t like that either.
I read a book “Imaginary Jesus” by Matt Mikalatos. It’s not a “Christian” book per se, it’s a novel and underlying the humor of it is a very serious reality. It’s the mistake of seeing Jesus as what we need him to be in any given situation. Here’s part of the description from Amazon: “When Matt Mikalatos realizes that his longtime buddy in the robe and sandals isn’t the real Jesus at all, but an imaginary one, he embarks on a mission to find the real thing.”
I don’t want to miss The Real Jesus because of my need to make him look and act like I think he should…but…I don’t want him to be angry, or distressed either. That’s too raw, too human, and too much a mirror of what my reaction might be. Maybe that’s the point. The Real Jesus will show me my own humanity despite my creative attempts to mold him into an imaginary image. Obviously he’s not finished yet.
Mark 6:47-52 NIV And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he [Jesus] was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
This Scripture is a different kind of picture of what “belief” looks like for those closest to Jesus. It turns out those most intimately connected to Jesus can suffer bouts of what verse 52 calls “hardened” hearts. I’m pretty sure fatigue, fear, confusion had a lot to do with that. That’s true of us too, but these were his disciples. That’s a surprise isn’t it?
We can fix those physical conditions with more rest and more knowledge. Those are surely needed, but the heart problem needs something more. That fix is being willing to consider Jesus is watching for opportunities to come you. He may choose unusual circumstances to walk into your life or your circumstances and then climb right into the “boat” with you.
“Take heart” no matter how astounding it seems, his words “Surprise, It’s Me” are his comfort and assurance for your heart and your life.
Habakkuk 2 :1 I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. 2 Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
My “station” is the Lazy Boy early in the morning looking for God to speak to me through his Word and sometimes the words of his people who have shared their inspiration in their own writings. One of my favorite quotes is from Oswald Chambers: “patience is not the same as indifference.”
It’s that Lazy Boy that’s made all the difference between patience and indifference for me. If I’m there and I get nothing it’s patience. If I’m not there, it’s indifference. It’s an Inspired Risk to believe God is there with truth for me. It’s an Inspired Risk to believe I do have a “revelation.” It’s an Inspired Risk to find my own words of faith and then run with them. I won’t get it right every time…but there is an appointed time. Patience is an Inspired Risk: “Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come …”