Discipline of Reading

 

When I was in college reading was definitely not one of my favorite things to do.  I think part of the problem was the fact I kept being told ‘you have to read this ____,’ just never sat very well with me.  I really only wanted to read something if I wanted to, not because someone was telling me I had to.

Realizing that was my thought process, at times I would also take that into how I looked at reading the Bible.  At times I would also not look at the Bible for what it says it is, and what I say I believe it is.

So last year I decided I wanted to read the Bible in one year.  The entire thing; and not just skim reading but actually read all of it. Every. Single. Word.

This may seem like a daunting task to some especially if you’re like me and not a huge fan of reading in the first place.  However, it was something I truly wanted to do and knew could be done if I was serious about it.

I got a reading plan from my roommate and started reading.  Everyday there was a couple chapters from different books that the plan said I would read and then after a year, I would have the entire Bible read.

At first, it was simply something I wanted to do because then I could say I had done it!  After all, I was a Biblical Studies major in college…so I should have read the Bible all the way through at least once, right?

Then, about two or three months into the reading plan I developed a very legalistic mindset.  It became something I had to do to please God.  Obviously He wanted me to be reading the Bible, so if I wasn’t then I wasn’t doing a good job…

This wasn’t the mindset I wanted to have, and I really wanted to believe God didn’t intend that for me either.  I’ve never liked the legalistic mindset.  I believe creating space and disciplines in our lives is more than needed, but being legalistic in those disciplines is not.  So I was looking for something that would confirm exactly how I was feeling.

Then, one day, I was listening to a sermon by Matt Chandler from The Village Church (Check Resources Page) and something he said was very subtle, but had a huge impact on my thought process for creating those disciplines and finding freedom in them.  Not legalism.

He was talking about his somewhat normal routine for when he wakes up in the morning.  He was saying that part of his process is getting out of bed, making a pot of coffee and spending time reading his Bible before his kids wake up because he finds that when he starts his day off in the Word of God, he is simply a better man that day because his heart is aligned with the things of God.  Then, in a bit of sarcasm, he quickly pointed out that, “It’s not legalism, it’s smart.”

It’s not legalism, it’s smart.

That was all I needed to hear.  It made so much sense to me.  I don’t read because God is forcing me to or will be angry with me if I don’t.  And I don’t read because of some legalistic rule set that has been placed over me.

BUT, I read the Word of God simply as a discipline in my life to help me grow and connect more with God.  To align my heart and mind to the things that His heart and mind are focused on.

So no, I do not read out of guilt and a legalistic mindset.  But I do read out of freedom and for the growth of myself and hopefully the encouragement of people around me.

Finding Rest

February 28, 2014 — Leave a comment

Finding Rest

 

In our culture today this is not something that is frequently, or easily practiced.  The idea of rest.  For many of us, if we have time to rest, then we’ve also got time to get more things done and more times than not will choose to get stuff done.

If you’re anything like me then you often find things to do (even if you actually don’t have to or need to do them, let’s be real we are just filling the time.)

Resting, as weird as this may sound, can actually be hard work at times.  Actually resting isn’t the hard part, but setting that time aside and then choosing to focus on resting is the hard part.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

I’ve heard from a lot of people that they are just trying to make it to the weekend so they can rest (or if you’re like me, I don’t have weekends anymore, I just have random days off).  So sometimes working towards that let’s us think we will be able to rest then.

But, what if we changed our mindset and instead of ‘resting from a place of work,’ we ‘worked from a place of rest.’

I know this seems like a slight shift in our thinking, but it could make all the difference in how you view where you are currently at in life, and how people see you in your relationships with them.

So it is extremely important that we set aside specific time to rest, and we actually do just that! Rest.

The other part to this, is finding rest in Jesus.  He says in the gospels to come to him and he will give us rest.  Now, I don’t think he met we would be able to just lie around and sleep all the time (because the Kingdom of God requires action and work), but I think Jesus meant something deeper.  Something more important.

I think when he said we would find rest for our souls that we would finally be able to fill that hole in our hearts with the right piece.  Him.  He is the missing piece.

If you can think back to when you were a kid, when you tried to fit the circle into the square it never worked.  Why? BECAUSE IT WAS THE WRONG PIECE!

It’s the same with our lives.  We are constantly trying to find the right pieces to fill our lives with, and Jesus is waiting for us to come to him so he can fill us with all that we need.  So run toward him, not away, because he can and will give you rest.

To Be Known

February 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

To be Known

 

Matt Chandler has very often said, “To be 99% known, is to not be known at all.”  Or something along those lines…

The more that I hear that / think about it, truth rings from that simple statement.

As humans, we want to let people into our lives…but only as long as it won’t hurt us or possibly show the deepest darkest parts of who we truly are.

Most people like having other people around them.  We like having people around us telling us how awesome we are; how good we are at this or that thing; how funny we are; etc…

What we DON’T like is when we share something with someone that is too vulnerable.  Like what happened last Friday night?  Or that addiction that you can’t seem to get over.  Or the guilt that you feel every time you look in the mirror because of a decision you made that you feel is weighing you down.

We like being close to people, but more often than not we won’t share those extremely vulnerable things with others.

“To be 99% known, is to not be known at all.”

Think about that for a second.  Someone could know A TON about you, and still not really know you at all.

Jesus calls us to be vulnerable.  He calls us to be open with one another and to share those things that are difficult to talk about.  We are told to share our burdens with one another.

It’s difficult, it’s messy, but it’s life.  In true vulnerability and true community with others, we can begin to experience true freedom.  Freedom from the guilt that we feel.  Freedom from angst.  Freedom.

Why? Because we aren’t carrying it alone.  Others are carrying that burden and praying for you just as you are carrying their burdens and praying for them.

So join me in finding those people in our lives that we can have true and authentic vulnerability and community with, and begin to experience the joy and freedom in being 100% known.

Like I said, it’s messy and it isn’t always fun. But I believe if we can truly begin to live this out, we can expect great things in our lives.

Intervene

February 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

Intervene

[Photo Credit: Benj Haisch // www.benjhaisch.com/blog]

When you look up the word intervene one of the most commonly used definitions you will find is, to come between disputing people, groups, etc. 

Intervene is not a word that I use very regularly.  It is not one that I find myself using on a daily basis and constantly throwing into conversations that I might have with friends.

But, it is a word I quickly point to and think of when I think about Jesus’ work on the cross.

Intervene.

The reason I think of it so quickly is because it is exactly what took place.  Jesus, being perfect yet taking on the appearance of a man and living a life on earth, INTERVENED on our behalf.  He took the full weight of sin and endured the cross’ scorn and shame for the joy that was set before him (Heb. 12:2).

He came between two disputing things.  The righteousness of God, and the unrighteousness of mankind.  He took our place so that we could have relationship with him and be redeemed into the family of God that we were intended to always be.

So, the next time you hear the word intervene take a minute and think about the cross and how Jesus completely intervened on our behalf.

Better Version

 

Have you ever noticed that when watching TV much of the things we see talk about self-improvement or how to make oneself better?  Commercial after commercial, or even the shows that we watch talk about how this character or that character needs to better themselves to become the main person. Even some of the adds we see on all the different social medias describe in some fashion a way to make ourselves better.

One very unfortunate thing about this is many times we immediately apply this to our own lives, especially when God is concerned.

We think, “If I can just do this better,” or, “If I become like this person then God will be satisfied.”

For the believer and follower of Jesus there are just a couple problems with that thought…

God is already satisfied with you!  Do you realize that the minute you accepted his free gift of grace you were adopted into his family?!  You are not just some person that God looks down upon and continually wishes you would do better, but rather, when God looks at you, he sees his son.  He sees his daughter.  He sees Jesus living in and through you.

In the Bible, Ephesians 1:3-10 speaks directly to this adoption of you and I.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”

Read that more than once, and not just quickly either. But sit, and let the words truly speak to you and think about the fact that we have been pulled from where we once were and brought into the family of God.

The second problem with those thoughts we may have, is that a better version of you and I never truly exists.  You may disagree with this but hang on for just one second and I will explain.

The reason I say a better version never truly exists is because, we will always want a better version.  We will always find something that can be better.  We want to look better.  We want to have more money.  We want to have a bigger house.  We want to have a newer car.  On and on it goes with a never-ending trail of seeking satisfaction in something that doesn’t exist.

Actually, it does exist, just not in ourselves, others or material possessions we could obtain.  That full satisfaction exists solely in Jesus.  It exists when we decide to humbly and obediently choose to fully Jesus above all else and seek the life he has for us.

Jesus even says in the gospel of John that He has come to give us life, and life to the full!  He wants that for you and I.  He wants us to live lives that flourish in Him.

The only reason I can even begin to feel like I can write about this is because it has taken me a long time to come to that realization and I am still figuring out new things every single day.

However, when I realized (and am continuing to realize more and more everyday) that God looks upon me with such love as a son and actually delights in me, things began to change and I truly did start to feel more satisfaction simply by following Jesus more and more at his words.  It’s not easy, but it is worth it.

What about you? What are your thoughts on chasing a better version of you that may never truly exist unless found in Jesus?