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Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

The Complex Turned Simple

blue pansy

It’s almost too easy to slip into a sea of hopelessness as we face this complicated thing called “life”.  For those who have found their salvation in Jesus, it can still be overwhelming just dealing with the day-to-day. But, what if it was intended to be simple?  What if the complexity of trudging through our days was merely a deep-seated lie we’ve accepted as truth?

A thriving relationship with God need not be formulaic or complex.  It can be very, very simple.  But the complexity we bring to the relationship via sin shifts all that simplicity into seeming chaos.

All through the Bible, we are told to lean on Him, trust Him, come to Him.  Basically, the simplicity of a relationship with God is that we live as though He is actually our life-source.

But then we’d have to release other things, things that we find comfort in, things that we’re used to, things we believe to be true.  Perspectives, addictions, worldly comforts, the sense of having control…all these things we would need to let go of for the simplicity of a relationship that more than fulfills all we think we’re getting out of these temporal things.

What if it was as simple as saying, “God, here’s my concern, my hurt, my devastation.  What do You have to say about it?  What do you have to say about me?”  And then stop…and listen.

What if we could truly trust that Jesus dealt with our sin once and for all and is, Himself, the living Truth which moves beyond our limited and skewed perspectives?  What if He is the only Source we need? Things might begin to look drastically different.  Life may not get “easy”, but it would certainly be simpler. No longer relying on “me” to fix whatever I think needs fixing.   Just trusting Him with it, whatever “it” may be.

Honestly, I’m not fully there yet.  Many times, I still turn to worldly comforts as a default.  I turn to topical books and classes (which are often full of wonderful wisdom), but when I look to them to “fix” everything, I’m seeing the class or the teacher as my source rather than God.  Or, I take the nuggets offered and I try to force them on my circumstances, therefore attempting to master my personal universe.  Take a wild guess how that usually turns out…

But God is wooing me back to a relationship founded in simplicity.  Founded in trust.  Founded in love. Founded in actually living like He’s my Source.  Bringing Him into my day-to-day, asking Him to sit with me at the kitchen table, inviting Him into the reality of my messy kitchen while we sip a cup of tea and chat…doing life together.  Isn’t this the point of it all anyway?  Relationship.  One that opens the front door unapologetically while wearing pjs, with the kids’ toys scattered all askew, without fear of judgment or reprimand.  Relationship with the One who loves me most.

What does He have to say to you today about where you’re at? About who you are?

 

Imagine what your life would look like if you knew exactly who God designed you to be?  In my book, Refining Identity, you will dive into God’s Word, sift through the lies you’ve been living under, and discover God’s purpose and identity for you.  For individuals as well as groups, Refining Identity is written as an interactive discipleship journey to help you walk in that relationship with God, coming to say for yourself, “I am who I AM says I am.”  Discover more HERE!

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Relationships | Marriage

The Pressure Cooker – Part 2

So we left off from “The Pressure Cooker – Part 1,” with the thought that we need to know our design. God made us in an intimate way, knowing us before we were formed , “For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:13-14 ESV

I find it awesome that our God and Creator of the universe took His time and effort to personally know us, to personally or Godally (yes I know is not a word, but it should be) “knit” the fabric of our being. Because He created us, I believe He knows what we are created for and what type of environment we are going to flourish in. To tie it all together, He knows the heat setting that’s best for us.

How much heat can we take? You may have heard the label of someone with a type A personality, that refers to someone who is highly driven or “successful”. And although these people may thrive in tough situations and may be able to get stuff done, that surely doesn’t guarantee that they can handle the heat very well. In many situations they are actually just plain stressed out and the “successful” and driven side is very often is a coverup, a sort of manifestation of a protective mechanism that this person is using to not deal with his or her past. They may truly be results driven, but many times there is unhealthy stress and pressure that needs to be removed.

Keep in mind this isn’t a dig at type A personalities, many have said that I am type A. But either way we all have our issues no matter our personality type of traits, “for [we] all have sinned, [are imperfect] and fall short of the glory of God” and need to be “justified [and set free] by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 ESV  (emphasis added). So no matter the personality type you may have been told that you are, God’s diagnosis and prognosis is much greater, much better.

So, we should figure out a way to remove the pressure. Don’t get me wrong sometimes pressure cookers are great thing, even in our Christian lives, because the heat and pressure can break down really difficult challenges and help us get through tough obstacles, BUT the heat must be removed sometimes for some time. Did you catch that “sometimes for SOME TIME.” this isn’t just 15 minutes a day, although if that is all you can get at the beginning do it. Lets bring back our pressure cooker, if it is cooking away and that rocker is a rockin’ you can take it off for a short amount of time and the rocker will stop, but you can put it back on the burner and it almost immediately picks up where it left off. Why? Although the heat was taken away and the pressure dropped enough to keep the rocker form rocking there is still a massive amount of pressure built up in side. Typically the safety valve is still up even. Are you getting the analogy? The safety valve is telling everyone to stay away do not open up, because bad things will happen. The second you add that heat back it is on again and you truly haven’t received a break, you truly haven’t received freedom from that build up.

This is probably why God told us to honor the Sabbath. I think it is cool that he made it one of the Ten Commandments to get some rest, to chill out, relax and take a load off. I think He may have known what He was doing, what His creation was going to be like, what pressures we would feel especially under the fallen world we are in. It is time to chill and reduce the pressure, to take some time for some time to balance that pressure again. We will examine some ways to do that in Part 3. To be continued….

 

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Relationships | Marriage

Just drop it…

How many of us have heard this being said in the heat of an argument? Why is that said? To release stress of the argument, to prevent negative or even more damaging things from being said, to prevent hurt or further separation? The answer is yes to all of these.

Proverbs 17:14 NIV

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

As the Scripture said going down that path is like breaking open a damn. It is better to simply drop the argument then deal with the overwhelming flood about to happen. But what about the issues on the other side of that barrier so close to breaking?

Why not take it easy and start letting the “water” out easily. In the heat of the moment, just drop it and when the water has settled start to talk about the stressors behind the emotion? You both will enjoy the discussion much more.

Categories
Relationships | Marriage

The pressure cooker – Part 1

It has been said time and time again that it takes some exponential number of positive statements to offset the number of negatives in ones life. God spoke to me in yet another awesome way while having a discussion with my wife, Courtney yesterday that has just continued to resonate in me.

Now considering I used to be that guy that would take every word as an opportunity to take up a spirit of offense and fight with you about it, what the Holy Spirit gave me was huge. His response to a question posed about how often my wife and I do or don’t praise one another and if it was enough to offset the negatives we may or may not bring to the table. This probably isn’t news to you, but married couples do say non-positive or otherwise known as negative things to each other.

His response was that we need to deal with the deep wounds in our lives, otherwise Satan will take neutral comments to each other and twist them into negative, heartless, ungrateful and hurtful comments.

He gave me a vision of a pressure cooker. With the top off it is no more than a pot and as the temperature rises the steam simply vents out, but once you put the top on every bit of heat adds to the pressure felt inside. Until the pressure indicator rises it is still safe to take the top off, but once the pressure indicator pops up there is to much going on to safely remove the top. As the pressure builds even further the rocker on top lets of enough steam to keep the pot from exploding.

I believe this is the heart behind Ephesians 4:27 – “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” (The Message)

Much like that top, holding what’s in, in and keeping what’s out, out, an event or words that hurt deeply can create a barrier that not only shields us from bad, but prevents us from letting positive in and negative pressure out. If we deal with it soon enough in a healthy manner we can take care of it, taking the top off, without too much, if any, collateral damage. But at this point every little but of heat adds to that hurt and pressure inside. The problem comes when we pass that point of pressurization, the indicator pops up and watch out. What is that indicator for us as people? It could be the smiles and flirtatiousness dissipates, arguments don’t stop and can get to the point of pure dislike or hatred towards the other spouse. It could be almost anything, we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, to help us notice the indications.

The issue of compliments, neutral and negative comments is hard to deal with at this stage. Once the pressure’s up a nice comment here and there is like tipping the rocker with your finger to let a little more pressure release. This compliment could be roses or tickets to a ballgame our any other nice gesture for those who’s words get in the way, but like splashing a small amount of water on the top to cool everything down a tad. It doesn’t last long and it can be back to the same pressure in no time and some times that little splash of water can become steam and burn you (I hope you’re getting the analogy here). In addition many times the pressure comes back quickly because the heat from under the pot hasn’t been taken away.

There are three problems here one is the top that started to keep in the heat and therefore build pressure, two is the heat under the pot and the third I will address later. The heat could be coming from many sources, a job, family, school basically life. The top is anything that keeps you from venting that heat. Everyone is different so determining which needs to be addressed is not for me to say in a blog, and truly should be talked through with an unbiased counselor or mentor, but I hope this will help.

Some can handle and dare I say even enjoy the heat of everyday life. It drives them, gets them off the couch, lets them do things, some not so much. If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen. I’m not being rude or obnoxious here I am simply saying know your design. If God created you to operate at room temperature or on keep warm, then don’t throw yourself on a red hot burner. To be continued…..”The Pressure Cooker – Part 2