And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death...
And if your right hand leads you into sin, cut it off and throw it away—for better you lose one part of your body than march your entire body through the gates of sin and into hell.
Just to clarify right away, this is not actually talking about mutilating your body. I think it’s self-explanatory, but I just wanna make sure we’re on the same page. We are talking about removing the things in our life that are bad for us that cause us to sin and die a little each day.
What originally inspired me to look at the book of Colossians for these texts was the scripture we are about to go through. Back at the end of August I was reading some random scriptures and I came across this particular scripture and it seem like such a good thing to talk about. It jumped off the page at me. What’s interesting is that I don’t know why. The moment I read that scripture I could see exactly the best way to tackle it in a discussion, and it just was laid out in my front of me. And here we go…
Death is not a bad thing! In this case, death to our baser side is a very good thing. In order to grow, the things that halt our relationship and the things that keep us distracted from God must be shorn away. This is all about cutting out the things that come between us and God. It could be perfectly good things, but when we make those things more important than God then we have a problem. It’s about dying to ourselves. That’s how we live. I know it’s completely bonkers, but it is completely true. The more you drive the bus of your life, the more times you are going to crash that sucker and send everybody around you screaming because they’re on fire. We screwup, we hurt one another, we succumb to our darkest nature and deepest temptations. But, we have God and when He is our focus and when the Holy Spirit is guiding us and when Jesus is our all, then those things of earth that want to squeeze the life out of us fade away. We all have things that distract us. In reality, we are deep rivers of brokenness that have built up over a lifetime and we use our distractions to hide from that brokenness. But, God knows it all. He knows how to heal those scars and pains, and He knows how to love you through your mistakes. God loves you. He loves you so much that He sent His only son to die for you so that all those things that want to drain the life from your soul, mind and heart are defeated so that you may live in Christ. We die to ourselves so that we can live in God’s glory and grace.
Talk to God about the things that you know are distracting you; the big and the little and everything in between. What have you set between you and God? Ask Him to reveal these truths about your life, and while you are at it, ask Him to help you heal from what is weighing you down now so that you may die to self and live anew.
I was talking to my mom today about how weird I am. I have no problems at all being weird, I am proud of it. I told her that I embrace my weird and that she needed to embrace her weird. You see I’m bold, I have no problem when the occasion calls for it to be loud and crazy and weird. For example, last week I was playing my mom the song "Joy" by For King and Country and as I was playing it I just couldn’t stop myself from dancing in my seat. We were at a public place and we were outside in the gazebo and I was just moving and rockin’ out to that song. With a slight grin on her face, she just stared at me. I kept encouraging her to get into it and be free. She continued to just stare at me. Today she did the same thing. I wasn’t being overly weird, but my usual, and she just kept staring at me. I told her that I embrace my weird. She felt the need to point out that I’m proud of my weird. Maybe sitting silently and staring at me weird is her weird, except I know better. I know her as well as anybody knows her and my mom has a weird streak inside of her that she hides. So, I kept thinking about it and I came to realize that embracing the weird isn’t enough, we also need to express our weird. That’s part of exploring who we are as people, it’s part of experiencing the reveal that God has promised in introducing us to the true us. Yep, I brought this back to Colossians 3:4 if you can possibly believe that I’m still talking about that. "When Christ who is our life shows himself, then shall you also appear with him in glory." (NMB)
Getting to know every part of us, even the strange and weird and crazy and silly parts of ourselves, that is all God given. I read a book called Divine Obsession (actually I have quoted it a few times in these messages), in it there’s a chapter on Peter. Actually, to be more precise it’s about the relationship between Peter and Jesus. One of the things that this particular chapter posits is that the relationship between Jesus and Peter was that of best friends, the kind who can laugh and giggle and poke fun at one another. It describes a scene of the two of them staying back from the rest of the disciples as they’re traveling because they are moving slowly due to fact that they are skipping rocks and telling jokes. Imagine, Jesus telling jokes. I guarantee Jesus told jokes, why, because it’s fun and it’s laughter and it’s living and it’s life. To bring that to other people is an act of love. Jesus was weird. He not only embraced His weird, but He expressed it fully. There’s a scene in The Passion that is unquestionably my favorite, and that’s where He and Mary are playing and joking with one another. It’s such a light moment in a dark movie, and it brings a rounded aspect to this Man who we have put on a pedestal, but He was a man, a great man, a real man. He was a fully realized human being with a desire to laugh and enjoy the life that His father created. Jesus was weird. Correction: Jesus is weird. We all have something about us that is odd or different or just weird, and it was by design. God designed us to be fully realized human beings, with a soul tied to Him and informed and inspired by Him. We were made in the image of God, that means God has a big sense of humor. Embrace your weird and express it. It may take time and it may be something you need to pray about, figuring out how to let down your guard, but it'll be worth it. Vulnerable is scary. Especially being vulnerable to ourselves because there’s no harsher critic than our own insecurities.
You’re a weirdo and I like it. Have you explored how that weird part of you is actually a gift from God? Have you asked Him to reveal why you’re weird? Have you tried asking Him about the weird parts of you that not even you know about? These are just a couple of suggestions about things you could be talking to your Lord and Savior and favorite Weirdo about. Embrace your weird, a true gift from God.
I have people in my life that I strongly disagree with, people I love and respect. I hope that those same people love and respect me even though we may be at odds on a great many things. To many in my family I’m the outsider. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I am a goody two shoes who goes to church. That has kept me at arms length with a great deal of my family. I don’t get invited to parties or poker nights or just to go hang out. I’m ignored most the time and probably not thought about a lot. But, as distant from my family as I am—I love them. There’s much about their lives that I disagree with but—I love them. There’s a great many things that have made me angry regarding my family members but—I love them.
On the other spectrum, I have a nephew who is about as opposite of me as is possible. Politically he is a communist and I am anti-all parties. He is agnostic (or atheist as he still trying to figure that out) while I am excitedly Christian. He wears all black all the time where as I love bright colors. He is a pothead and loves to drink while I hate everything to do with drugs and alcohol. There have been times where these differences and many others have caused tension between us, but we never lost the love and the respect for one another. I can sit down and have a conversation with him about our differing political views and I can hear him out and I know he hears me out. We don’t go into these conversations trying to change one another we just talk and listen and accept that we are different and love each other regardless. And when tensions arise the love is still there. And yes, there is often tension and frustration.
I was watching the new show God Friended Me and it got me to thinking about how often we let those things that are different about one another keep us from truly engaging. In the show the main character is an atheist and his father is a reverend and they don’t talk. They can go for months without saying a word to one another and when they do come together they fight. There is no respect and there’s a little love in those conversations. It’s all about staking their claim and bolstering their point instead of listening, understanding and loving. Frankly, this is common place in our world today and as mentioned above, in my life. It’s important to really examine how we treat one another. The people that you keep at arms link, why is that? Sometimes there are legitimate reasons and sometimes our own stubbornness gets in the way.
Besides the fact that I was just watching the show so it is fresh in my mind, I bring this up because were moving into a part of Colossians 3 that talks about vices and virtues. We all succumb to temptation, we all screw up, we all have our own opinions, we all have problems and we all have things that keep us apart. But, we have one very important thing that does bring us all together and that is Jesus. Even for the non-believer, Jesus still brings us all together because He gave us believers a very important piece of instruction in the Bible: love one another. Christ was the greatest example of unconditional love, we must be that example to the world and break down the walls that wanna keep us all apart. We are supposed to love one another, we’re supposed to love all and that includes ourselves. As you take time to examine yourself or take time to examine others, don’t lose sight of Jesus and His message. Where can forgiveness reign, where can hope spring up or where can walls be torn down because of love in your life?
Try your hardest to be confident in who you are. You are enough - you are beautiful.
And when Christ who is our real life comes back again, you will shine with Him and share in all His glories.
What do you think God sees when He looks at you? Honestly. Take a moment and really dig deep into how you feel about the idea of God’s eyes on you.
I was listening to a spiritual exercise yesterday and it instructed me at the beginning to stand up and be seen by God. The idea was not that God couldn’t see me where I was sitting, but it was about having me face the idea of God looking me up and down from head to toe. I’ll admit I didn’t stand. I think I was a little afraid, no...I was very afraid to face that type of scrutiny. I know that God loves me and that He sees all of my beauty, but I still see all of my scars and my flaws and my darkness. He sees all of that and still sees beauty. Incredible. God said to us, “You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.” Song of Solomon 4:7 (MSG) It’s right there in the Bible, in the Word of God, in the life breathed and inspired Word of God. His message for us says that I am absolutely flawless. It says that you are beautiful beyond compare. Can you say that to yourself? I’m crying right now trying to get the words out. Trying to put myself in that mindset and accept that level of love and forgiveness and acceptance, it’s really hard and I just pray it isn’t impossible. If I was recording this you would hear all my pauses as I sniffle and have to catch my breath through the tears.
I want you to understand how much God loves you and the amazing views that He sees in you every single moment of eternity. He has seen everything you are, everything you’ve done and everything you will do and He has seen a beauty beyond compare and someone who is flawless in His eyes since the beginning of time. Can you see that for even just a moment? Can you accept yourself fully and completely for just a second? Can you believe in your beauty inside and out? And what would your life look like if you could? How would that change you? I need to encourage you to read that scripture over and over and over again and believe that to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit you are truly loved and you are the Beloved. Let Him reveal that to you.
You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.
How’s life? Have you spoken to God recently? If so, what did you discuss? If not, why not? Have you picked up your Bible? If so, did you read it, and if so what did you read and what did you learn? If not, what’s holding you back? What’s happening in your life right now that could benefit from some time in the Word?
Yep, I just bombarded you with a whole bunch of heavy questions. That’s what I do. And yes, I smiled 😁 a cheesy grin when I wrote that. I am asking these questions because these are the same kind of questions I ask myself, the kind you, me and every other person on this planet need to take the time to reflect on. It all starts with the core relationship which is between us and God. So tonight I’m asking these questions as a way to bring you and I back to purpose behind these messages, to remind you to spend time with your loving Lord and Savior. Talk to Him. Bombard Him with questions and then let yourself be open to the answers.
When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
I was reminded yesterday why it is so important to experience this reveal. I was having a conversation with a well-meaning person who felt it necessary to tell me his opinion on my relationship with God. He proceeded to tell me what I needed to be discussing with God and how I needed to act in regards to my walk with Christ. This person actually told me that I was wrong in my thinking and proceeded to scold me. There was a time in my life where somebody telling me that would have spun me out. I have, on too many occasions, been dragged down bad roads that lead to pain and suffering by mostly well meeting people who told me what they believed God wanted me to know. Those experiences have left ugly scars in life. Looking back, my stomach turns thinking about the pain caused by other people's message for me.
Hallelujah, God has been working in my life and revealing Himself to me and in the process revealing my true self to me. This journey has allowed me greater discernment and wisdom, technically His discernment and wisdom, about my life and about my relationship with Him. I need to know me. I need to know Him. I need to walk this journey side by side with God. I need to know what He’s doing in my life. There are many things I need to know. Hallelujah, God has all the answers. Through my relationship with Jesus, through His relationship with me, I was able to thank this man for his concerns and then leave those concerns at God’s feet. I walked away from the conversation a but frustrated, but mostly able to leave it behind. Because I know myself and Jesus better now than I did when I was younger, I can step back and trust God to do the revealing of His true message for me.
The two greatest relationships we will have in life is with our Creator and ourselves. Let Him reveal His beauty to you and in the process you will get to meet yourself as well. I’ll make it easy for you, start with “hello.”
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
What makes you you? That question has been asked and answered by philosophers, scientists, clergy, your crazy aunt, and many more. It’s probably a question that will be asked forever. One of the things we search for in this life is a deeper meaning to our purpose and a greater understanding of ourselves. Why are we here and who are we supposed to be? We are made up of dreams and ideas and feelings and experiences and a calling on our lives. All of those things, when we tap into the truth of them, reveals God in us. Janet Ruffing said, “Our desires, our wants, our longings, our outward and inward searching—when uncovered, expressed, and recognized—all lead to the Divine Beloved. . . . All our desires ultimately lead us to God.” Our true desires, for security, for peace, for hope, for joy, reveal God in us. Our personal desires and dreams, like my desire to write and to counsel, reveal the intimate relationship and specific attributes God places in each of me. The more we learn about these desires and these ideas, our calling and purpose open up more and more of who we are, and more and more of who God is.
Going back to my desire to write, I want to write to tell stories, to express heart, express hope, express redemption and to tell stories that will inspire. God does that all the time. We have His word as a instruction book for life, full of stories that do all of that and teach us new things every day. He is revealing Himself the more He reveals me. And as He reveals me the more He reveals Himself. That’s what happens when Jesus lives in you, you will have Him as a part of you and all that which you were born too and for will be revealed. You are His beloved, let Him show you all that is in you that He loves so much. Let Him love on you, let Him reveal Himself to you and show you who the true you really is.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I put a hole in a wall. I drew another persons blood. I broke glass. These are just a few examples of the things that I did out of anger. There was a point in time in my life where my emotions ruled me. One of our strongest emotions is anger, and for me that is heightened because I have such a big temper and used to have a very short fuse. When my son hit his teenage years everything went bad fast. I struggled to be able to communicate with him any other way besides at really high decibels. We would just scream at each other over everything. There was nothing in those moments but our raw frustration and anger with one another. He ran away from home so many times it became more common for him to be away than to be home. He eventually left permanently. He moved out and I haven’t spoken with him...well, it’ll be three years next week.
In the midst of my anger, in the middle of my temper flaring up, when I am just so frustrated I want to scream bloody murder, God is there. When I finally let Him in, when I finally started to let go of my need to control and I just tried to hand it all over to Jesus, I began to change. I’m still estranged from my son. There is still a hole in that wall. The glass is still broken. A person from my past has a scar that I put on them. And, I am still angry a lot, I still have a big temper, but God can change everything. It isn’t I that have changed, it is God who has changed me. I feel so loved, I feel so protected, I feel Him within stretching me, guiding me, teaching me. It’s Him within me that has allowed me to stop with the knee-jerk reactions and to stop putting my pain on to others. I finally got the message: rejoice in the Lord always. It’s a simple message that is very complex. The Bible doesn’t say:
rejoice when I’m relaxed
rejoice when I’m at church
rejoice when the music is playing
rejoice when I’m at a party
— it says rejoice ALWAYS.
Yep. Rejoice always. Specifically, rejoice in the Lord always. That was the message that finally got through to me. That was the message that God used to introduce me to the real Him and the real me. That was when it all changed for me...getting that message through my thick skull. Finally, I understood what God was saying:
if I’m flipped off in traffic—rejoice
if I’m screamed at by my neighbor—rejoice
if I’m in a car accident—rejoice
if I can’t pay my bills—rejoice
if a family member does something stupid—rejoice.
I don’t rejoice in what happens, I rejoice in Him. That’s how I went from somebody who took out all my pain on others by screaming at them or breaking things or hurting them, to somebody who just wants to love. A couple years ago I said to my niece, “I like people, actually I love people.” You know what she did, she laughed at me. And then she said, “no you don’t!“ My own niece didn’t think I liked people. That’s how dark my life had gotten, the people in my life that I loved couldn’t even see how much that I actually liked being around them and being around others. They just saw my pain and my anger because for so long that was all I could show the world.
I don’t know all of your pains, I don’t know all of your struggles and I don’t know if you have put your fist through a wall; but I do know that no matter what is going on around you God loves you and He’s taking care of you and trust me when I say He knows so much more about your circumstances than you ever will. How will you respond? Will you just live out your life reacting to the crap, or will you rejoice? I choose joy!