At one time you yourselves used to live according to such desires, when your life was dominated by them. But now you must get rid of all these things...
I have a consistent message. Have you noticed? It’s something I’ve been noticing more and more. If you do a quick perusal of these writings two words keep popping up: joy and focus. It makes sense since the goal has always been to remind my readers to spend time with God, the source of our joy. But, even when the topic of the day is a totally different message, somehow it still always veers back to focusing on God and letting Him transform us so we may live joyful.
I was telling my friend Trina this week about this consistent message in my writing and she just smiled at me. We got to talking about how we all have a message within us, a message that God wants to bring to the world and no matter how many ways we say it, the message always seems to be the same. If you listen to Chip Johnson’s sermons (ctknampa.org), Chip is relatively consistent about speaking on our need for community and oneness in the body of Christ. Rick Snodgrass’ consistent message is grace and the need to understand its intricacies. Apparently I’ve found my message. CS Lewis said, “If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.” The reason I write these messages over and over again is because the thing I want most for you in this world is “joy, power, peace, [and] eternal life” and the way to get those is to spend time focusing on God. Turn your eyes to Jesus and you will be able to “get rid of all [those] things” that keep you chained to this world. You will truly be free and truly live a joyful and fulfilled life.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these…
I know it’s been a while since I wrote one of these message. It’s been even longer since I focused on Colossians. Tonight felt like a good night to dive back in. This scripture speaks to me. Last time I wrote about this particular scripture I wrote about my past, but I think it’s time to look at my present and how my past is encroaching on my present.
Writing these messages started out as a favor for a friend, but overtime it has become something much more. I came to realize that God had a plan in this, a plan for me and my life. I have learned so much this year writing about Him. The research. The prayer. The time spent just thinking about the writing and the message. It’s been great! On top of that I have had the opportunity to share my heart and give glimpses into the inner workings of Melody. I’ve also been able to share the greatest message of all: GOD LOVES YOU!!
So what happened. Why for the past month or so have I stopped writing. There are a few answers to that question, but the one to look at tonight is revealed by the scripture: old bad habits. For the past month or so I have found myself slowly by surely walling myself away. My hermit like nature sprung up and took over and I let it. I don’t fully understand all the reasons why, but I do know that fear played a part in it. Like I said, this writing has opened me up in ways I wasn’t expecting and when I started to see it I got scared. I’m back to living “the life [I] once lived.” Not good! I don’t want to shy away from my future. I don’t want to shy away from God’s plans for me. I don’t want to shy away from the people in my life. I don’t want to shy away from myself. So, as the scripture says, I must rid myself “of all such things as these.” For me, that’s my fear and isolation. It’s my worry about the future. It’s my walls that need to be obliterated. This is not easy. Change is never easy.
Hallelujah, I have Jesus! He knows the plans He has for me. He knows what is inside of me. I just have to let Him do His thing. I have to stop fighting. There is a plan for this. I’m going to start reading my study books again. I’ve signed up for a class being taught by a friend. I’m also going to sign up for a class at NNU that I think will be good as well that will be a week long in mid-January. These are not my plans. These are God’s plans and He has been showing me very clearly that I need to get focused on Him again. I write about it enough, right! Heck, it’s pretty much the message I write to you every time I write one of these…focus on God…give Him time…turn to Jesus! Okay, it’s about time I took my own advice.
What have you been struggling with lately? Are there things in your life that you need to be rid of, things that cause you to sin, cause distance in your relationships, especially with God? Talk to Him about it. Know that you can’t change without Him. Know that He wants to help you be the best you. Know that He loves you immensely. I’m always here if you want to message me, but make sure to give time over to God. Talk to Him and let Him fill you with His presence and let Him inspire and change and bring about amazing growth within you.
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.
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 as Christ himself is seen for who he really is…
We humans have a love-hate relationship with the truth; and it changes depending on what truth we’re having to face. Last week my nephew decided to move to Twin Falls. He had gotten it in his head that if he did not leave immediately he would never leave the Treasure Valley. He believed he was stuck. That became in his mind a truth. So, he went to visit some friends in Twin Falls and had a plan to get a job there. A few days later he texted me and tells me he is going to San Francisco by mostly hitchhiking. With the last of his money he made it as far as Salt Lake City. And then he got stuck. He spent several days unable to get out of the city, hungry, alone, cold and in a lot of ways lost. It wasn’t long after that he told me he was coming back. He has a whole new plan now, it’s actually his old plan that he was talking about a year ago that he never did anything about. His perceived truth chased him away from the real truth of his life and dreams here in Idaho.
In my opinion, this entire thing had to do with a health scare. Just a few short weeks after a bad spell he was in Twin Falls. This trip was about running away from the truth about himself, avoiding his doctors, avoiding people around him that we’re going to ask him questions about his health and in general avoiding the truth that was weighing on him. In his case, he ran. I myself have locked myself away, ignored the truth, yelled at the truth and even beat it up a few times. The crazy thing is, it’s not always bad truth I am fighting against. Sometimes even the best truth can scare the crap out of me. It’s mental. I’m mental! But the reality is: we all are. There’s something very raw and vulnerable about the truth. And it doesn’t always have to be our truth either, just hearing truth can wreck us to our core. You would think that we would all want to run after something as important as the truth. Yet, we are terrified of it. When it comes to our relationship with God, when He reveals Himself to us, we are forced to face Truth. And not just any truth, but the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Capital “T” Truth! There is a reason why the world fears and in some respects despises Jesus, in part because of His truth and what it means about us. He is perfection that we can never be and yet we live that struggle every single day. We are told by society what perfect is and that we need to conform to those standards. But it’s all superficial, because we can never ever be perfect. But we can be loved by perfection. We can be saved by perfection. We can be raised up from our muck by perfection. The truth about love, the truth about hope, the truth about peace, the truth about who we really are undermines everything the world is trying to make us believe. Jesus reveals Himself in every moment of every day of your life, and He is just waiting for you to respond. Open your heart, open your mind and let Truth be revealed.
And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world...
Have you stopped and thought about what that will be like? Jesus’s return will happen someday. It’s a day that is talked about in churches, but do you ever take the time to think about it. Admittedly, I haven’t done much thinking about it years. Due to an incident in my childhood I avoid thinking about it. When I was a kid I had a nightmare that Jesus came back. As I was swept up to meet Him in the sky, I looked back and noticed certain people, that I very much love, weren’t coming. I could see them standing on the ground and I tried to reach for them to bring them up, but I couldn’t reach them. I was very young when I had that dream and thinking back on it now it still turns my stomach and makes my heart race.
I have allowed fear to rule over this beautiful day for far too long. Fear gripped me as a child and stripped from me all the joy that can be found in reflecting on that day. My Jesus is coming back! I will get to experience something beyond imagining! The son of God is going to call us to Him!What does that look like, I don’t know. But, the truth of it is that this world is not my home and Jesus is going to take me to my home. It’s going to be a beautiful and amazing day when He comes. He loves me so much that He cannot leave me on this earth any longer He’s going to bring me to my real home.
This may all sound cliché, but it is far from it, because it is truth. Jesus loves you and one day He’s going to take you from this earth and you will get to be with Him in a way beyond your current understanding. Your heart, mind, body and soul with Jesus forever. What does your heart feel when you think about it? Are you like me, are you worrying about everybody else? Have you not really put any thought into it at all? Are you afraid of that day? Why? Maybe you have a picture in your head, what does that look like? Jesus has provided everything that we need on this earth so that we can get the tiniest glimpse of heaven. And one day, one amazing day, He’s going to give you the full on experience. “Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7 (NLT)). Close your eyes, shut out the world around you, just let your heart feel and let it imagine the experience of Jesus’ return when all will see the splendor and glory of the Lord. Don’t hold back, lean into it. “My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.” Luke 12:32 (VOICE). If you feel fear or trepidation or anxiety, hand it over to God and just let your soul soar with Jesus. Take all your anxiety to Him, so you may be free to relish your time with your Creator, the one who will someday come back and bring you to your real home. How can you reflect on that today? Where can you find joy in these truths?