It's all around...

It's all around...

A word before we begin:

This is a fun little experiment I’m going to dive into over the next couple of months. It will probably evolve and grow.  This thing is birthed out of a desire that hasn’t left me over the past 5 years and that I want to explore.  We are going to talk about Jesus and explore different aspects of scripture. This one is going to be more of an introduction. It’s based on where my heart is, or has been for as long as I can remember. There will be prayer and there will be worship on some level as well. THIS IS NOT A CHURCH COMMUNITY… so please do not get confused. However, if you are not in a place in life where that is something that you are wanting to be a part of, maybe this little forum can be a place to examine that or if you are just into it you are more than welcome to join in.

Here’s what you need to know before diving in:

  1. I love Jesus, and believe he loves me and you too; but I also understand that you may not believe that. If you're here in this forum, just know that is a generally accepted thing by me. 
  2. I’m not perfect, and I’m ok with that. If you read something you disagree with please comment (respectfully) and we can discuss.
  3. I do believe that we are called to be something greater, but it’s a process. If you feel condemned by any words, please understand that was not my intention in any way. Feel free to reach out to me directly.
  4. Worship is important. So it will be a part of this little project. In fact worship will be discussed about in all aspects of life. For now each post will end with at least one worship song led by my good friend Tiffany. Worship through song is one of the most familiar expressions of worship in our culture and throughout history. The production is not excellent, it’s just an iPhone recording… but the heart is as honest and pure as it can be. I would encourage you to engage in that. Even if it’s not something that you are comfortable with at least put your headphones on and hear what is being sung.
  5. I believe in it. So there will be prayer. I will also being praying for you. 
  6. Some of this may be awkward and not feel 100% natural, that's going to be part of the growing process. So bear with me as I figure it out. 

With that, let’s get started:


Prayer: 

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
on earth as it is in heaven..
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us as we forgive others.
Give us ears to hear and eyes to see.
Direct us.
You’re in charge!
Your beauty surrounds us!

Amen.

Creation is beautiful. I see so many signs of God in it all. His fingerprints, His attention to detail, I see it in so much of the world. I see it in the creation story of the bible. I see it in the creation story that some others adhere to of the original singularity. I see it in the complex thought processes that lead people to faith and that lead people away from faith … I see beauty in it all.  I see it as marks and gifts of a Father who has gifted us with intelligence to question and trust to believe. I think there is beauty to be found in it all. Some people are probably pissed that I see beauty in some of those things; I’m ok with that.

Experience trumps ideas. I have experienced the beauty in all of these things. I’ve felt deep reverence in the creation story of God breathing life into man. I’ve also felt deep reverence in the idea of the “singularity” where all of everything was condensed into something the size of a sugar cube… all matter and energy being one and the same. There is an elegant background to it all. Like all things beautiful it can be distorted, exploited and abused.

I’ve been reminded recently of the poetic nature of how I have always engaged with my faith. It has always left me a little more open ended. It has upset some people but it has also left me more open to discussion, and in turn has led me to share of God’s love with a wide variety of people. I have missed that. I miss not forcing myself to share God’s love; but rather it being a simple natural byproduct of the person that He made me.

I should clarify that I think all of salvation is through Jesus. That he was and is a real person. I classify myself as a Christian and think that salvation comes through Jesus. I believe that in the beginning was the Word (Jesus) and the Word was with God and The Word was God (John 1:1). Even that thought alone is beyond my comprehension, it’s beautiful.

In the beginning of what?

What is the beginning?

Before there was anything how was there a beginning?

Beginning references time and time doesn’t exist without… something.

These things WOW me. They drive me deeper and nearer to God. They remind me that time is really nothing other than a circumstance of creation and prior to creation there would have been no time; but God was.

I can talk about these things all day and that’s fine. Talking is good and it may help relay what happens in my mind slightly. It’s the experience though, that defies words, that I’ll never be able to convey fully. The idea that I am a speck in an infinite universe, that some people believe is still expanding at the speed of light and that in that speed of expansion time no longer exists like we know it. And then science tells us on a quantum physics level that anything that we know about space and time doesn’t matter because electrons can be in one place and then without traveling in any way that we can understand be in another place, and now we have teleported electrons to space! I SAID TELEPORTED! The electron was here on earth and then…. BOOM! That thing was in space!

I say all of this because, to me, these thoughts point me to God. I don’t say them to convince you of God. In fact these same thoughts of turned some people away from God.

To me, they draw me in.

They remind me of God’s words to Job:

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
“Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
— God

Read the entire selection here

We cannot begin to fathom creation. Our minds want to so bad… but they can’t. It’s amazing. It stands beyond all of human reason and I love it! It wrecks me when I ponder it.

It’s in these moments when heaven and earth collide in my heart that transcendence abounds and I feel "next level", for just a moment I feel more alive than normal. I feel connected to something greater. There are no words for that feeling… at least my limited small town Texas born vocabulary doesn’t have them. Where words fail I feel a central Texas sunset makes up. It defies words but paints a picture of something far greater than emotion or feeling. It takes words and makes them colors and takes sentence structure and blends colors in ways that no artist will ever truly replicate.

It’s like love… real love. Like “I would die for that person” type love. There are no real words to explain that. All you can say is “she means more to me than life.” But even that falls way short of real thing that you mean.

Take my wife for instance; I love her… but it’s deeper than the word. It’s more than our language will allow me to convey. With my wife it entails so much; friendship, trust, compassion, devotion and so much more. My wife draws me in emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically.

These things go beyond words.

Beyond convention.

Beyond self-preservation.

They are deep rooted and there is no real reason they exist, they just do.

It’s in realization of things like this that John Mark McMillan’s line in “How He Loves” makes so much sense,

“So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.”

Jesus came to earth to meet us in the most intimate of ways.

He spit in the dirt and made mud for our eyes.

He spilled his blood on the ground.

He released his Spirit.

He touched us and healed us.

He spoke forgiveness over his accusers.

He showed us a different way. A way where the first are made last and the last are made first. In this way the woman who was caught in adultery was redeemed and the rich young ruler who had held to all of the rules was condemned by his own righteousness. Jesus’ way is a way that stands out among all other philosophies of the world.

In Rob Bell’s book, “What We Talk About When We talk About God”, he talks about a God that is ahead of us. Pulling us to something better, something greater. 2000 years ago God came to earth to show us what that looks like and it’s not what was expected. It was humble and dirty. It involved washing feet, hanging out with tax collectors and prostitutes, touching the ones with highly infectious diseases, building a team of leaders from those rejected by the institution. God came to earth wrapped in skin and said, “I love you. Let’s do this together.”

When my kids are having a hard time with a specific task the best thing that I can do is put down what I’m working on and be present with them and help them through it.  When humanity was having a hard time being the image bearers of God He intervened. He stepped in and said, “I know that you’re having trouble here. I’ve given you the freedom to go about this every way possible and you aren’t quite getting it. So let me show you what this looks like.”

Heaven slammed into earth and hasn’t left! We are in His presence at all times. God is surrounding us. He’s guiding us. He’s still showing us. He is in us and with us.

It’s this goodness that draws us to change… or in a highly abused word “repentance”.  The goodness of a God who comes to live among us and in us while pulling us forward is what leads us to repent of our ways. Repent simply means to change change one’s mind. We have heard the word abused horribly with the wrong heart behind it for most of our lives.

The kind of repentance that God desires for us is to turn from self-destruction and run full force towards life. In Jonah Chapter 3 the Ninevites repent from chasing death, so much so that they clothe their animals in the proper old testament attire that goes along with repenting. When they do this God sees and changes his mind, he changes the course of his thoughts…. He repents. Biblical repentance isn't about right and wrong, it’s about what brings life and what brings death. When God repents in Ninevah, 120,000 lives are saved. There is power in turning to life.

Fun side note: often the religious folks don’t grasp repentance and grace and how they operate in a fun intertwined way. Jonah (the prophet) is a great example of this. He truly wanted the Ninevites destroyed and when God’s grace landed upon them he mourned and pitched a fit.  The book ends with Jonah feeling as though he is right and God is wrong and God speaking of the value of 120,000 lives. 

When riding a motorcycle there is something called “Target Fixation”. Loosely defined, target fixation is a behavior in which a person becomes so focused on a singular object that they tend to ride (or drive) straight into it. 

A fun story about target fixation:

Crystal, my lovely fantastic wife, took a motorcycle riding course in hopes of getting her license. She didn’t want to ride on her own; but he did want to say she could if she wanted to. She was killing it in the course. She learned all of the basics and was riding! And then it happened… target fixation. She was heading towards a building and was supposed to turn well before getting there; but she couldn’t take her eyes off of it. So she headed towards it. Her mind was saying, “Don’t do it!” but her body was like, “This is happening whether you want it to or not.”  And BANG! She hit the building. Had she “repented” changed her thought process she would not have hit the building.

Target fixation applies to life as well. We become so focused on the things that do not bring life and before we know it, BAM! We are slamming into a wall, coming to a complete stop and hitting the ground with a crowd of onlookers just for the icing on the cake.

This is life.

This is repentance.

Jonah had target fixation of the vision that he wanted to see that he missed the beauty in what God was doing.

How often do we get so focused on our expectations of things that we smack into the wall of failed expectations and miss what God is doing.

God is with us here and now. His fingerprints are all around us.  Our natural inclination is to look past those and find a way to fixate on things that will, undoubtedly, not lead to more life.

Our culture feeds this. Our culture demands it of us. Whole industries exist that turn our gaze from life to death. They are packaged so nice and neat that we don’t even realize it. The ways that we are surrounded with, the things that we know aren’t important but we place the mantle of importance upon, the things that consume our days… if we are honest, offer absolutely no life.

God, the author of all life, calls us to repent, to change our focus and start seeing life. Move away from death, turn away from the walls we are heading toward and look a full life in the eyes. This isn’t a feel good message. It is GOOD NEWS! Life and life abundant, life to the fullest is here and now, we are just looking at something else and heading the opposite direction.

Today, right now, turn towards life. Begin to see the marks of love that surround you. Take a walk and watch the birds dance in the sky. Look at the grass and the trees and marvel at the fact that if they didn’t exist you wouldn’t exist. Consider the warmth of the August air and know that it is warm because our little planet revolves around a ball of fire at just the right angle and distance to sustain life, take a deep breath and allow the air to fill your lungs and consider the miracle that you are breathing in oxygen produced by the plants that surround you and that oxygen is fueling your body and mind, allowing you to read this.

Sometimes we just need a change of perspective. Sometimes seeing beauty in creation can draw us to the kind of repentance that brings life and allows us to feel loved. You are not forgotten.

You are loved.

If you have something you would like prayer for please let me know. If you have thoughts or questions let's talk. The comment section below is open for you. Just be respectful ;) 

Grace. Peace.

Grace

Grace

Hold on, let me take a picture.