Design Without Purpose = ?

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gen. 1:26-27 (MEV)

As neither a theologian nor a sociologist, I present a view of our current cultural confusions that is simply informed by my reading of scripture, listening for the whisper of the Holy Spirit, and paying attention to what is happening. My view is this: when humans can see our design but having lost any clue for the purpose for the design we end up with complete confusion.

We are living in a society that is experiencing one unfounded and outlandish idea of human behavior after another having unbelievable influence. We now ignore design and do not trust the Designer, instead we allow children to self identify as male and female based on something as feeble as a “feeling”. The sexual preference ideas have moved us and continues to move us into frighteningly darker realms. Religious, racial, and class based conflicts arise with more and more acrimonious rhetoric. All in the name of being able to assign purpose for the design.

This confusing mass of activity and spent energy is not leading us towards clarity, but into deeper confusion. The deeper the confusion, the deeper the desperation for clarity which opens us to the suggestion of whatever ideas that make us feel better. What is frightening is the depth of falsehood we will buy into just to feel better. One of the most diabolically deceptions is that of “personal” truth. You know, that crazy idea that I can have my truth and you can have your truth. No personal truths are allowed to be disregarded in the process of you developing your own and REAL truth is of no value.

Human being were not created for confusion, we were created for clarity. Yes, our current struggles reflect lack of clarity. But rejoice and be glad, this is one of the great realities of salvation through Christ. “For the Son of Msn has come to seek and save what is lost.” (Luke 19:10) Christ restores our clarity, He returns to us our ability to walk in the purpose of our design.

Without such clarity we end up as…..

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Still Trying to Have Enough

Contentment – the condition or state of being satisfied.

When was the last time you felt satisfied, just simply content in your life? Maybe it was just a moment ago. Maybe you don’t remember the last time you were aware of being content.

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” 1Timothy 6:6-8

Paul, writing to his spiritual son, gives Timothy a fantastic insight into life, one that is has value today. When was the last time you were simply satisfied with having food on your table and some clothes in your closet? In a time when western culture has come to believe free wi-if is a basic human right it might have been a while.

My general observation is that we have so much, but no sense of when we have enough. Between advertising that feeds us the idea that it takes products and money to be happy, combined with increasing spiritual shallowness, contentment seems beyond the horizon. So we fill our homes and our lives with the things that continually fail to keep the promise of fulfillment.

All true contentment starts in a relationship with Jesus Christ. From the moment of humanity’s creation, we were designed and purposed for the glory of God. When we gave away that purpose we gave away the foundation of contentment. A part of Christ’s work in our lives is the restoration of our ability to be content, by restoring us to the purpose of our design.

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

The very lie that deceived Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) was that there was more satisfaction than God was letting on. The minute they bought the lie man took on the goal of satisfying himself. We have certainly accomplished a great deal, yet contentment remains elusive.

I encourage you, I plead with you eat the Bread of Life – let Jesus satisfy. We cannot enter into any real, concrete and sustainable contentment apart from Christ. However hard we work, no matter what we achieve, regardless of how full our toy boxes become, apart from Him our need remains.

Turn Off, Tune In

This is going to be blunt, broad and for some-unkind.

GET OFF YOUR PHONE! Turn off your ANTI-social media. Live in the present, the now, the real; stop living the lie you present or trying to live up to the lie others present. And for crying out loud, stop trying to convince me and yourself of some innate value added garbage that makes us all feel better.

When was the last time you studied the eyes, the face, the vocal inflections, cadence and tone of delivery from a person you are conversing with? You have to be in the real, the now, the physical space shared by another human for such study to occur. That study is what allows you to interpret, understand and connect with another human being. Such observations inform you as to the possible and appropriate responses to both what is being said and how it is being said.

Jesus Christ’s earthy life was marked by a complete awareness of the “now” and the lives also present in the “now”. The blind, the lame, the local whore and the ruling class all were known and acknowledged as being part of the “now”. And all that was happening in the “now” was a set-up to help people see beyond the “now” and into the “next”. The past becomes unchangeable history, the now is a momentary and liquid reality that will soon become next. Imagine how fun this would be over a cup of coffee-in real time with a real person.

Live in the now, the real, the today…

“Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:15)

Turn off, tune in!

Let God Feed

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV)

If your life were some type of steerable vehicle, who is driving? Most people I know would quickly respond, “I am trusting the Lord to lead my life.” And I would be amiss if I did not say I have no reason to not believe that they believe that. But there lies the challenge we all face; is what we believe that we believe from the truth of God’s word or our comfortably held opinions about God?

We feed ourselves spiritually in a manner similar to how we feed ourselves physically-we eat what we enjoy. But not everything the Lord wants to teach us is going to initially seem sweet and tasty. In fact, much of it seems down right hard to swallow. Yet, if those things that are not easy to encounter lead us to lean more into the steadfastness of Christ, ask for seconds.

The truths that God feeds will direct us to the love of God and that will deepen our awareness of the steadfast strength of Christ. You and I will have to accept one basic and unchanging reality, our comfort is not high on the list of goals. But our joy and delight in the Lord is. Psalm 30:5 tells us, “For his Psalm 30:5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Back to Reality

“A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. ” Isaiah 40:6-6 (ESV)

There is an ongoing challenge that I believe we face on a daily basis. (And by we, I mean believers in/ followers of Jesus Christ.) As I explain what I perceive as the challenge, some might be offended while others might agree. My goal is neither offense nor agreement. My goal is to stimulate consideration.

Our minds are under constant demand for attention, by the “always there” information flow. Our lives are filled with screens: TV, computer, smart phone.  Each of these carry so many promises of escape from reality. But from reality there is no escape, only distraction. Over time the distraction begins to replace reality to the point that reality becomes the distraction. We settle for that which fades, while that which endures forever is relegated to an afterthought.

Taken for Granted

Several years ago a popular worship song contained the lyric, ” Lord, you are more precious….” The song then proceeded to list things such silver, gold and diamonds. This song seemed express the heart of a person captured by the immeasurable beauty and value of the Lord. Christ is the only precious one or He is taken for granted.

Are you and I captured, fascinated, awestruck by that which God has done on our behalf? Do we stand amazed that the Creator of the heavens and the earth put on flesh and dwelt among us, that we might know  His grace and goodness and redemption? It ought to be enough to stop us in our tracks and stun us with wonder. Joy ought to overwhelm us. The beauty of our God’s grace and work, in doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves, should literally take our breath away.

So I pose these three questions: 

1) Has following Jesus become more of a cliche than an active engagement?                                           2) Is life overflowing with gratitude for a salvation that relegates ALL circumstances of life to their proper category; temporary?               3) Are you taking for granted the salvation that is only available because God loves us and put Christ up as the payment?

I believe that when we take Christ and our salvation for granted we dim the light we are called to be. I believe that when we live captivated by the wondrous work of Christ on the Cross and the grave breaking resurrection, taking salvation for granted is far less likely. And I can firmly state that when we are fully alive in this amazing salvation, we display and declare with contagious conviction and glorious joy that Jesus Christ is the only source.

A Thought from the Journey

I first came to faith in late 1986. I was a college student and knucklehead who was all about a good time. Those early years of “following” Christ were definitely informed by the love of a “good time”. The neo-pentecostal/ charismatic movement was very much the “big” thing in most of my early experience. Yes, I bought in to the prosperty gospel, the word of faith, and everything else that promised a good time.

God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit were often treated as being there to fulfill my emotional, physical and spiritual desires. All I had to do was know the right language and write an occasional extra check. Any thought of serving Christ as Lord and trusting God as Father, while being led by the Spirit into real truth just did not fit. 

I had believed, falsely, that me and my desires were the central factor in my relationship with God. Christ on the cross was reduced from an amazing work of mercy to proof that it’s all about me. Following Jesus was not about living for His honor and glory. Following Jesus was about my whims being satisfied and feeling good. My expectations were built on too many “your best days are ahead” statements and very little awareness of “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”(Hebrews 13:8)

It took a long time to move away from the belief that faith is all about me. The mercy of God came in the form of hunger. A hunger to read the Bible, big huge chunks of it. A hunger to know God through His story. A hunger for relationship that was enduring not see-sawing on the fulcrum of my selfishness. A hunger for Him.

I seldom,if ever, listen to the T.V. preachers who are often running corporations disguised as ministries. Most of what I read is from, the tried and found faithful men, and women who live or lived in pursuit of the increase of God’s fame with little thought of any cost to themselves. 

I listen to some close and trusted friends when I need counsel. The Lord puts some pretty amazing people in our lives to walk with, so I have ceased to care about the slickly produced and regularly published. I choose those who have been faithful and steady. Those who walk in relationship with God because He is worth it. Those who see Him as their great rewatd.

If I could offer one piece of advice from my journey, it would be this:                                  Read the Word and let it inform you, teach you, correct you, shape you and equip you. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-5, 14