Posts Tagged ‘God’

I determined long ago to name this blog Confessions of a Confused Christian. However, as I recently went back over many of the posts, I realized there was not a lot of confessing or confusion. Every post seemed to always resolve itself into total assurance. It seemed as though there was no real faith struggle that every i was always dotted and every t was always crossed. I admit that some of the reasoning is because I switched my primary means of communication from this blog over to Facebook. However, even there, I could see that most posts talk about how great my faith is and an outsider may think my faith does not waver.

So, here I am pondering this moment of how deep to go; how much to share. It is difficult to use written words as a form of communication because it is impossible to sense the tone and emotion behind the words. However, since the blog has the words confused and confess in it, I feel it is only appropriate to confess my confusion. Sometimes I really struggle in my faith. I struggle in my relationship with God. I often do not see relevance in the church. When I read the Bible, I am often confused. I read of a church in the first century that seemed so honest, so real yet I see much of the church today being so superficial. I see people in the New Testament fighting for what they stand for, and I see so many Christians today fighting about what they are against. We rally and protest and get loud and rarely love, I mean truly love. We are well known for what we are against, but rarely show what we are for. That confuses me. Am I supposed to stand in a line and picket the abortion clinic, or am I to present a cup of water to a hurt woman who just made the decision to abort the baby? Which would Jesus do? If I show love to her am I now saying I support abortion? Must I yell and spit so I can prove I am a Christian or was Jesus actually telling the truth when he said they will know we are Christians by our love?

The truth is I am often confused. I have been hurt. I have felt abandoned and betrayed. I have been hurt by the church. I have bought the lie that I had to be against all the things I am supposed to be against and somewhere along the way I have forgotten what I am supposed to be for. I have often tried to please church people and in the process have found myself drifting further and further away from who God has truly called me to be. I have been hurt by the church. I have been hurt to the point that it is often difficult to differentiate if it is people or God who is hurting me. Why must it be so difficult?

One of my favorite verses has been Psalm 30:5 which declares, “For his anger lasts only a moment,but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” What a comforting thought to know that joy comes in the morning. However, sometimes it seems that morning will never come. I often identify with the poet Emily Dickinson who penned these words: 

Will there really be a “Morning”?
Is there such a thing as “Day”?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?

Has it feet like Water lilies?
Has it feathers like a Bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?

Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!
Oh some Wise Men from the skies!
Please to tell a little Pilgrim
Where the place called “Morning” lies!

Will morning joy ever come? Or will we just remain in tears of mourning? Will joy find it’s way into our lives, or are we destined to lie in constant wait? I confess that God confuses me and His word sometimes troubles more than it comforts. There are times in our lives when it hurts so much we just can’t see the joy coming. We feel the pain and experience the darkness which seeks to consume us. So we wait. We sit in the dark of night waiting for the morning joy to come. We long to feel anything other than the current hell we are experiencing. We look to God, even in the midst of what seems like His silence and we wait. We hope. We look toward that morning light which will bring the joy. However, in the meantime, we wait and search for the place where morning lies.

Last night, my family went to see the African Children’s Choir. This was about the third time we have seen this choir perform and each time has been amazing. Last night was no exception. The group of children made the entrance with shouts of jubilation as they danced on the stage. The enthusiasm and power they showed were quite impressive. We clapped and cheered and sang along as they performed their songs and dances.

One of the most touching moments for me personally took place a little over half way through the evening. The children came out one at a time saying their name and what they wanted to be when they were older. I loved hearing about their dreams of being pilots, police officers, teachers, bankers, and pastors. I thought about what life must have been like for them early on. Most came from a home with at least one parent deceased or not present for whatever reason. Many had no running water, no substantial source of income. They all came from poverty. These children had seen and experienced more heartache in their young lives than most people experience in a lifetime. They could easily have the mindset that they have no real future. We may look at people of similar circumstance and have little hope they will become anything significant. Yet, they had the dream and vision and hope of becoming the best they could. They refused to buy the lie that they were insignificant.  They refused to let their dreams die. They desire to beat the odds and become someone of great significance.

The true reality is they are already significant. They were created in the image of God. They were deemed worthy of the blood of Jesus as he died to give them hope and a future that far exceeds anything they could ever even dream. The stage presence of these children possessed such power that you believed they would become all those things they said they wanted to be. Yet that fails in comparison to the awesome power of our Lord working in the lives of people. His power is available to all. He is the source of all power and all hope. As the children sang He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, I could not help but recognize how true that really is. He holds it all together. The stars, the land, the sea are all held together by Him. Mankind finds hope in Him. He’s got the homeless in His hands. He’s got  the widow in His hands. He’s got the child walking 45 minutes for water to do laundry in His hands. He loves the fatherless. He loves the single mother struggling to love and care for her kids and pay the bills. He loves the dad who works long hours to provide the best way he knows how. God loves the athletic and the uncoordinated. He loves the educated and uneducated. God loves the prostitute and the nun. He loves the rich and the poor. He loves you and me. He’s got the whole world in His hands. Therefore we can dream. We can hope. We have a future. We have love and acceptance no matter what this world throws at us. We have God, therefore we have all we need.

Today is the big day. My fantasy football team has its first matchup. I do not yet know the outcome. I have to wait until all the games have been played. Fantasy football is about drafting players from each skill position and your points are based their actual performances. We had a live draft on a Monday night. We went into a classroom at our church and began the draft process. I recall the conversations regarding the various players.  We each made statements like “he has a lot of potential.”  “He is such a great player if he can stay healthy.”  “He would be awesome if he would stop complaining and start doing his job on the team.”  I suppose it is a little silly for grown men to sit in a room and pretend to be owners and managers of a football team, but it was a great time of fellowship.

Later, I began thinking about the church and about men and women of faith throughout history. What if we could have a fantasy draft for our church? Who would we choose? Why would we choose them? I began to think of people we read about in the Bible and how they had great faith. Perhaps someone may pick Noah. After all, he was faithful in a time when no one else was. God chose to save Noah and his family and start all over. What a great man of faith. We should definitely choose him for our fantasy faith team. The only problem is that when he is finally able to stand on dry ground again , he passes out drunk and naked. Perhaps we can rethink this pick.

What about Abraham? He would be great. God told him to pack his belongings and set off for a place. Abraham did not know where he was going, but he trusted that God would direct his path and protect him. At least, he trusted that God would protect him sometimes. He had his wife Sarai lie a couple of time and say she was his sister in order to save himself because although he knew God, he still thought he had to take precautions (being deceitful) in order to stay safe. Maybe you want to wait until a later round now before you decide to draft Abraham.

What about David? Now there is a first round pick if ever there was one. A shepherd boy who fearlessly faced a giant named Goliath. The giant was a trained warrior, yet David faced him when all of Israel’s fighting men were too afraid. From shepherd to king – that is the man I want on my team. I choose David first. He is perfect for my team. Wait, there was that thing with Bathsheba. He was outside and she was in the tub. He glanced in her direction, then he glanced again. Then he stared. Then he lusted. Then he slept with her and she became pregnant and he plotted to have her husband murdered. Maybe I should rethink picking David for my team.

I choose Peter. He was one of Jesus’ closest friends. Surely he would be close to the heart of God. I mean he walked with Jesus for three years. He saw Jesus perform miracle after miracle. Peter heard God’s voice in the form of Jesus. He touched God’s shoulder in the form of Jesus. He sat at the table and dined with the Son of God. I am definitely picking Peter as my first choice. He delivered the great message at Pentecost where thousands came to Christ. He followed Jesus ready to fight and die for him. I choose Peter. He even walked on the water. I definitely choose Peter. Okay, so while walking on the water, he got scared and began to sink. At least he still had the courage to do it in the first place. Oh, and there was the whole thing where Jesus told Peter he would deny him. Of course, Peter said “I would never do that, Lord.” Way to go Peter! But then they came to arrest Jesus. Peter followed at a distance and while warming himself by a fire, people began questioning him and asking if he was a Jesus follower. What did he do? He denied it. He denied it again. Then he denied a third time. Maybe I should rethink choosing Peter to be on my team as well.

The point is that we all have flaws. Some of the greatest men and women in the Bible have major issues. They sin. They make mistakes. They struggle with their faith. For me, that gives me hope. I can see the people as real. They are real people with real flaws. They have struggles. they doubt. They fall flat on their face. They make mistakes. They are human. Just like our group of men sitting in a room talking about the strengths and weaknesses of various players, we all have strengths and weaknesses. We often do the same when it comes to church. “That person is such a gifted teacher” while at the same time saying “if he could just be more organized.” We say “what a great singer” but also “she keeps finding the wrong men.” We have men of great talent, but they struggle with pornography. We have women with so much to offer, yet they suffer from deep depression. We are a church of flawed people. We have major character flaws. We sin. We doubt. We struggle. Yet at the same time – we love, we serve, we have faith.

I am thankful that the Bible shows us the strengths and the weaknesses of people. It gives me hope. I am thankful that men were not allowed to edit their lives and share only the strong points, but that we are also exposed to their vulnerabilities and weaknesses. We can have hope. Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the “hall of faith.” It is filled with names of great men and women who showed amazing faith. For the purpose of this post, I will refer to it as God’s starting lineup. The men and women listed there had amazing faith and courage, yet they also had flaws. they were murderers, adulterers, and even prostitutes. Yet God chose them to be on his team. It gives me hope. If they can be drafted onto God’s team, maybe I have a chance at being drafted too. thank you, God, for letting me be on your team.

Making a Mark: Part 2

Posted: November 13, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

In case you missed part 1 of this post, you can find it here. Adam and Eve were taken captive to the idea that there was something more to be had. When their eyes were opened to the sin they committed, they tried to hide. They covered their bodies and they ran and hid from God among the trees in the garden.

There are some of you reading this post who have pursued more for so long that you are hiding. I know I have been guilty and if I look really deeply and honestly their are still area where I good at hiding my pursuit for more. I guess one of the differences between Adam and Eve and us is that eventually they confessed they were hiding.  Perhaps we think we are too smart to get caught or we are too proud to admit we are hiding – or maybe we are just ignorant. Maybe we have been pursuing more and hiding for so long, that we do not realize we are hiding – that we are fake.

There are times that we walk into a church building and sit in a pew. We sing songs of praise to God; we bow our heads and pray; we partake of communion; we drop a check in the offering plate – yet we are hurting. We are hurting because we are hiding. We are hiding our broken marriage; hiding our lust; hiding our addiction to pornography; we are hiding. We hide the fact that we have broken and disconnected relationships with our parents, our children, our spouses. We hide our jealousy and insecurities. We hide the fact that we are jealous because your car is newer, your house house is bigger, you have a better and happier marriage. This hiding tears us apart. It weighs us down. It is a burden, but it is all we know. We have been carrying it for so long that it seems so normal, so natural, or even comfortable.

We become so busy trying to our mark in life that we fail to realize that God has already marked us. He has already given us a way and a place to leave His mark. The mark we are seeking to leave must not be our mark, but God’s. Our mark is too small a thing to live for, but God’s mark is worth dying for. We are all living a mark. We mus decide what that mark is and whose it is.

The sin of Adam and Eve left a mark on all of us. Their mark of sin has affected every generation of mankind. Our pursuit of more leaves a mark on the world around us as well. We all want to be successful. We want to be the best. We want people to look to us for the answers. We want others to say, “wow that person really knows how to manage money. They know how to build a company from the ground up. That church really knows how to throw a big event.” Yet at what cost?

Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth deals with some issues that I think are relevant to us today. In 1 Corinthians, he writes how people are divided. The church is made up of these groups who each believe they are superior because of who they learned the gospel from. Some say they follow Apollos; other follow Paul or Cephas; some say they follow Christ. They are all falling into a trap. They are all seeking and pursuing more. They are all leaving the wrong mark.

In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul writes “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred.”Paul uses the plural form of “you” to mean the body as a whole. In other sections of his letter, he uses the single form meaning the individual person is the temple of God. If we are truly the temple of God; the place His Spirit dwell, then we need to seek to leave His mark and not our own.

If we are to leave His mark, then we must be honest and see where we need to grow. So now, let the examination begin.

Are you taking a time of rest? The Bible refers to this as sabbath. I want to encourage all of us to take a sabbath. Take a time to rest. It is so easy to get caught up in work, in life, in our pursuit of more, that we fail to really seek after God. Take a time of rest. Take time to reflect and refocus.

Is there anyway you have not loved yourself? Have you honored yourself as part of the temple of God? Or have you given yourself so much to your task that you are burned out, stressed out, and frustrated. Do you have that time when you cannot be reached; when you will not return a phone call, when you will not respond to an email; when you are having uninterrupted time with God?

How long has it been since you have taken a rest? Has it been a while? Are you tired? Frustrated? Overwhelmed? Burned out?  Do you need to rest? Now is a good time. Stop what you are doing. Don’t worry about that email or answering that phone, you can reply later. Stop and focus. Tell God what is on your mind. Let Him know how tired you are. Tell Him how you need to rest. Admit that you have been pursuing more for so long that you forgot to rest. Be real with Him. He already knows all about you. He loves you still. Tell him how sorry you are for trying to hide. Ask Him to help you be real. Let Him make you into what He wants you to be and not what you think others need for you to be. He knows far more. He knows you much deeper. He is all that matters. Take some time to rest in your Heavenly Father’s loving arms.