Monthly Archives: February 2012

Matter of Trust

God speaks to me in interesting ways sometimes and this morning he’s speaking to me through Billy Joel. 🙂

Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will it’s just a question of when
Ive lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned
But that wont happen to us
Because it’s always been a matter of trust

I know you’re an emotional girl
It took a lot for you to not lose your faith in this world
I can’t offer you proof
But you’re going to face a moment of truth
Its hard when you’re always afraid
You just recover when another belief is betrayed
So break my heart of you must
Its a matter of trust

You can’t go the distance
With too much resistance
I know you have doubts
But for Gods
sake don’t shut me out

This time youve got nothing to lose
You can take it, you can leave it
Whatever you choose
I wont hold back anything
And I’ll walk a way a fool or a king
Some love is just a lie of the mind
Its make believe until it’s only a matter of time
And some might have learned to adjust
But then it never was a matter of trust

Im sure you’re aware love
Weve both had our share of
Believing too long
When the whole situation was wrong

Some love is just a lie of the soul
A constant battle for the ultimate state of control
After youve heard lie upon lie
There can hardly be a question of why
Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
But that can’t happen to us
Because it’s always been a matter of trust

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In the last post I made I ended with some questions about the parable of the lost sheep. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I receive that parable. I wanted to really think about from what view-point I take the parable in and process it.

I think for most of my life, as I’ve heard this parable, I’ve always heard it from the perspective of one of the 99 sheep. It seems odd to me now that I would naturally never assume I was ever the one lost sheep that the Shepherd left the rest to go in search of.  I think this has a lot to do with my church upbringing. Being brought up in the church it’s easy to make  a habit of thinking of the lost sheep as the rest of the world and never really associating with it personally. At this point in my life I can clearly see where I have been (and sometimes still am) that wandering sheep. I do strongly believe that I am as much in need of a Savior today as I was yesterday, last week, last month, last year, and so on. And as the hymn says,

” O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!  Let thy goodness, like a fetter ,bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart Lord take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

That being said, the thing that strikes me about this parable is not  the group of Christians who associate themselves with the 99 left behind, or the group that identifies with the lost sheep (although they are very different groups and the differences are interesting), the thing that grabs me is that none of us immediately identify ourselves with the shepherd.

When I realized this I had to stop and ask myself why I didn’t identify with the shepherd and my thought was something along the lines of, “well isn’t the shepherd symbolic of Jesus… but wait, shouldn’t I be identifying myself with Christ? Hmmm.” . It’s easy to understand, sheep follow the shepherd and we are followers of The Great Shepherd, but are we missing something vital in thinking like sheep instead of like shepherds? I think we are, which leads me to the next thing that struck me and a completely different passage of scripture.

Mark 2:1-5

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

You may be wondering what these two passages have to do with each other, but don’t worry, I’m getting there. =)

In the Luke account of the parable of the lost sheep the text says of the shepherd, “Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home.”

There are two important things that both of these stories have in common,

  1. Both the men who brought the paralytic and the shepherd carried the lost.
  2. Neither account required the lost to change their attitude or behavior before they were picked up.

In both of these biblical stories we see a picture of these faithful ones literally carrying the lost without condition and as I’ve studied these passages it’s begun to have a profound impact on the way I feel about how the Body of Christ acts towards our culture and the people around us. In Mark, Jesus sees the faith of the men who lowered the paralytic through the roof and he forgives him. Do you see that? Not for his own faith, but for the faith of those who carried him, he was forgiven. The shepherd in Luke doesn’t sit waiting with the rest of the sheep for the one who wandered to come back, or even for that sheep to call out for help, he goes immediately and searches until he finds him and the puts the sheep on his shoulders and carries him home.

These two visuals overwhelm me when I consider that so often Christians are standing between God and the lost and saying, “Repent to us first, admit that everything you think you are is wrong, and then we’ll point you in the direction of God.” .

It breaks my heart and I think it’s something we must change if we want to have a positive impact on the world around us.

So the question I ask myself now, the question I am prayerfully seeking an answer to is, how do we bring about this change, how do we carry the lost sheep?

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Are you one of the 99?

I want to warn first of all that this is not a complete post, but just the beginning of one. Something to get us to think. Kristin first put this idea into my head many months ago, and as the number 99 has gotten more and more attention and multiple circles over the past 10 months, I felt that it was time to bring this conversation to the table.

I want to talk about 99, but a different 99 than has been discussed lately. I want to talk about the 99 sheep from the parable of the lost sheep that Jesus told in Matthew (and Luke).

First let’s refresh, here’s a little video that should give you the gist of the parable (I love this video, especially the end).

Now remember that part where I said this wasn’t a complete post? The first thing I want to do is ask some questions…

  • Right now, are you one of the 99 sheep Jesus left or are you the lost sheep  he’s chasing after?
  • If you’re one of the 99, how does it make you feel when you think about Jesus being willing to “leave you in the wilderness” as Luke says, in pursuit of a sheep who decided not to stay with the fold and do his own thing?
  • How does this impact your attitude towards the one sheep?
  • Do you think that Jesus intended the church to be a part of the 99, or do you think he intended us to be the shepherd?

Ponder, and I’ll get back to you. =)

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What’s Sin Got To Do With It?

There’s always a Christian somewhere saying something about sin, most of the time  in an effort to decide what is and isn’t sin. While I realize that I might be going out on a limb here, I’m really starting to wonder why we’re so obsessed with sin?

While I thought about this I decided to go to the Gospels and read what Jesus said about sin, how he talked about sin, and how he engaged sinners. While searching and reading I found several things interesting.

  1. Jesus never separated himself from sinners… instead he sought them out.
  2. In many cases, just the simple act of being in His presence was enough for some people to suddenly feel aware of their sin. Jesus very rarely spent any time pointing their sins out to them, and when he did, it wasn’t accusing, it was in a way that said, “See, I know you. Even the deepest, darkest, parts of you. I already know these things about you and I’m still standing here.”
  3. The paralytic man whose friends carried him in to see Jesus

First let me quote a couple of passages,

Matthew 9:2
Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:5
Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?

I read this story in Matthew, Mark, and Luke… All pretty much the same. What we know is that this man was a paralytic, and that his friends carried him in to see Jesus because they believed that Jesus could heal the man. We don’t know what the man himself thought, he’d probably seen a lot of healers at that point and was still stuck without legs that would walk. Jesus reads the situation pretty quick and the scripture says that when he saw the faith of the men who brought the paralytic in, he forgave him of his sins. And at that point the Pharisees, just waiting for something to jump on, get all in a huff wondering just who Jesus thinks he is that he can claim to have power to forgive things.  To which Jesus (and this is my favorite part) answers, ok which is easier forgiving sin or telling this man to get up and walk?

A couple of big things are going on here… first we have the guys friends. These friends aren’t sitting around with the paralytic and telling him that he is a sinner, and that perhaps his inability to walk is a product of his sinful heart, and that he needs to straighten himself out and then come and beg forgiveness from Jesus so that he might be cleansed and made decent. Nope. They aren’t those friends. Instead, they are physically picking this man up off the ground and carrying him to Jesus because they believe, no, they know  that Jesus can and will heal their friend.

Are you seeing the depth here… they weren’t waiting for their friend to clean up, to get their act together, or start behaving himself, they lifted him up and carried him to the feet of the Savior. His sin wasn’t their priority, getting him to The One who could heal him was! This is huge! Do we do this for those around us? Maybe we can’t carry them on a cot to Jesus, but what are we doing? How are we lifting the people around us up? How are we engaged? Is our priority pointing out the sin in the world around us, or getting them to God?

Also look at how Jesus responds. I think it’s safe to assume that Jesus would know the heart and mind of the man, but it wasn’t for the condition of the paralytic’s mind and heart that Jesus forgave his sins, it was for those men who carried them, for their faith the paralytic was not only forgiven of his sins, but healed. To me this is everything… we don’t know if this man was repentant, we don’t know if he renounced  whatever kind of sinful life he may or may not have been living, what we know is that his friends carried him to Jesus and that Jesus could and would do the rest. And after Jesus forgave his sins and healed him, he never said, “Now here’s a list of things you may never do again else you might prove that my forgiveness and healing didn’t take.” Instead he told the man to pick up his mat and go home. Simple.

Whatever else might go on in this man’s life, whatever choices he might make, Jesus had left a permanent mark on him. He had  been a man confined to his bed and Jesus had made him walk. With every step he took from that moment forward, even if those steps might lead him in the wrong direction, even lead him to sin, he would know the truth. And I believe that Jesus,who is the truth has the power to do what needs to be done in a person, even if it takes a lifetime, once he’s left his irreversible mark on them.

Now maybe I’m reading a lot into the story, maybe not, but these things came to mind after I read all of the accounts…

Why are we spending so much time asking ourselves and each other to define what is and isn’t sin?

Does it matter?

Do we want to be standing with the Pharisees, pointing out sin and questioning what is and isn’t forgivable and whether or not God has the power to actually do it, or do we want to be the people who carry others to Jesus and trust that He can and will change what needs to be changed and mend what needs to be mended?

I don’t know about you, but I want to be the friend.

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