Wednesday, October 16

handling emotions

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things Gal. 5:22, 23

I have felt discouraged all day. I tend to be one of those people who do not normally fluctuate between the highs and lows of emotions. While I am grateful that I do not sink into despair, I wonder what it would be like to feel the ‘highs’ more often. Today, as life circumstances combine with the silence of God, I find myself wondering how am I to respond to these emotions. Part of my faith background tells me emotions are synonymous with the fruit of the Spirit; if I feel sad, that is not of the Spirit so I should repent and fight until I feel/experience “joy”. This false equation, between emotion and fruit, has led to much unconscious guilt in my life. More than that, it has led to a negative perception of emotions in general.

I do realize there is a correlation here, meaning if I feel angry all the time or live in a state of sadness that the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit is hindered in some way in my life. That aside, what I am learning is that emotions are natural, they are going to feel good and they are going to feel bad, The real measuring stick of the “fruit” is how I respond to those emotions.

My family has endured some hard circumstances. I do not understand why things are playing out the way they are, if I stepped out of line or not, or what I am to learn from these things. So I wait, I pray, I ask, but God is silent. Still, in all of this I know two things 1. God is and 2. He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). Remembering these two things shifts my perspective to a new question: What does this emotion tell me? Where is it coming from? How do I handle it? How do I take this discouragement, lay it at the feat of Jesus, and ask Him to sift my heart showing me what I cannot see? I must allow myself to feel, while not allowing the feeling to overtake me but rather become the mirror. Yet, if I look into the mirror with my own eyes I will most likely become deceived, so I pray that I would see as God sees, from His perspective.

I do not think this is the right response in all situations. Sometimes we really do need to simply recognize the emotion, recognize the truth, repent, and move on. However, there are other times where we need to allow God to deal with what is really going on. In most cases, or maybe all, the circumstances do not cause the emotion but serve to reveal things that were present all along but we could not see.

Overall, I am thankful that even when God is silent, He is present. He is still unfolding His plan and drawing me closer to His heart along the way.  

Wednesday, October 9

Thoughts on Fearing God

 "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction "

In fearing God we are acknowledging that He is God and that we/I am not. It is repenting and recognizing that I do not know everything and that my way is not perfect but His way is. He is the creator of all that is,  He is almighty God and when I recognize these truths I can submit myself fully to Him, allowing him to teach me, correct me,  bring understanding and enlighten my eyes. It is easy to get offended with God as His ways are not our ways and His plan goes so far beyond any temporary pain we may experience; though He has compassion on our temporal experience...He sees so far beyond that. When we remember this and in awe we fear Him (falling into the hands of the almighty living God)  then we are OPEN to His knowledge and wisdom. Until we reach this point we will exalt our own understanding and as Paul says raise up/exalt strongholds against the knowledge of God and keep his wisdom from reaching us. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

"blessed is he who is not offended because of me" Matthew 11:6

     One way in which this is demonstrated in the Christian life is through the repentance of sins. In repenting of our sins we are in essence recognizing that God is both love and justice, that in Him there is no lie. We are recognizing Him as creator God, who set forth principals for living life as He intended, which considering He is good, is the best possible way to live. We are acknowledging that we have stepped out of bounds with how God created things to function. We acknowledge that we chose to live according to our natural desires of selfishness and admit that there are consequences for wrong doing. We acknowledge we want both the love and justice of God and we accept His forgiveness and any consequences as a result of our stepping out from under the umbrella of His grace. In doing so, in fearing God and repenting, we also open ourself up to receive His grace, His instruction, His wisdom so that we can walk, not according to our flesh but in accordance with His Spirit. We are empowered!  

Wednesday, October 2

Standing up for Truth

*This is not a political post. Read it as an object lesson,
and if you can not… well then stop reading *

The Government has shutdown because people could not agree, compromise, talk civilly (you fill in the adjective). For a moment though, let us forget about the issues leading to the shutdown. What concerns me is the response I heard from all sides. One group stands up for their convictions (remember this is not political… object lesson), the other side tells them to sit down- expected. However, those on the same side tell them to sit down as well, not because they are wrong but because they cannot win. I heard various politicians state that while they agreed, they could not win so they should stop fighting, because the issue was not important, their image was important and losing was not good for the image. 
            Listening to these responses I was reminded of a video I watched concerning what the Church would look like in 100 years… may it was 10,000 years I do not remember. The speaker said the Church could not win on certain issues, so they should give up those issues and move on to protect the image of the Church. One of the issues was abortion, even more he said, it is not about whether we think it is right or wrong or even biblical but that we can’t win the argument… so we should stop now.
            Some believe there is nothing worth fighting for, no inherent value, no ultimate morality, you only take a fight you can win, like a layer only taking cases that are a slam dunk (then boasting about their record). The reality is some things are worth standing up for, even if you are going to loose, even if you are going to be humiliated, even if it will cost you your very life.
Consider the result of a Church that never separates it message from culture’s message. Picture a Church that fails to uphold Biblical truths and principals because they are unpopular to the world. Then, consider a Church that remembers her role is not to convince the world of what is true, not to be held in high esteem as the ‘evolved church’, to be accepted or tolerated by the world. What if the Church remembered she is the Bride of Christ, seeking to glorify the Bridegroom, so that when He arrives He finds a pure and spotless Bride. A Church that is growing because they are holding fast to the pure Gospel message, loving each other with the love of Christ and loving the world enough to holdfast to what is true.
The monologues and dialogues I heard, the vanity, all of it revealed a deeper issue in our society. We no longer care about what is right. Rather we care about how it looks. If it looks good, we talk loudly about it. However, if we cannot win, if it is not appealing, we will remain silent and pray to God that nobody asks us what we think or what God says. Consider this, would you being willing to stand up for what is right even if you knew you could not win, no one would agree with you and you would be humiliated?

"In a time of universal deceit- telling the truth is a revolutionary act"
George Orwell