Sunday, September 13, 2009

Trusting Truth- 40 Days of Psalm 37 (Day 31)

Before I get started, I want to say how much I miss this every day. If the Lord gives me the time, I will write this daily. But, my main ministry (my wife and daughter) take precedent over everything else and when I haven't been writing, just know that I'm serving them whether it be by working more, giving them more time, or praying for them. Now for today's word...

"The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip." Psalm 37:31

I write this on Sunday September 13th, 2009, the first day of the NFL season and the end of the second week of college football. The weather has gone from hot and sticky with no visibility and a steamy mirage just steps in front of me to a cool breeze, beautiful (yet comfortable) sunshine and a view of the soon to be snow-capped mountains some sixty miles away from where I'm sitting. For me, fall (which starts September 22nd) is the best time of the year, a time in which everything "seems" right. Football is on all weekend, kids are back in school, my electricity bill drops by 50% as I no longer have to run the air conditioning all day, plans for my wife's birthday are being drawn up like a basketball coach with three seconds left to play, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and anything in the wardrobe can be worn as it's just "cool enough" for jeans and a sweatshirt, yet just "warm enough" for shorts and a t-shirt.

There is something about the changing of seasons that gives us a clean slate, or at least the feeling of one. Like a snake changing it's skin, we feel as though we are coming out of the old scaly summer into the paradoxical smoothness yet crispness of the fall. But, from our experience in years past we soon will remember that with the new season comes new challenges, new joys and new sorrows. Though the seasons are an amazing rhythm to life that we innately know God has created to give us "newness" and "freshness"; as soon as the new season is close enough that we can see it, we drop God's hand and sprint into it without Him, thanking Him for bringing it, then choosing to run on the bumpy road that He sees as a life we choose to once again, live without Him. We refuse to accept the gift of changing seasons in which we can experience each moment to the fullest as we find joy in what God will do while we walk with Him; in exchange for taking advantage of a "new" time as a chance to create a new "essence" for our lives. The sad part of course, is that the closer we are to God, the more we realize that the true essence of our lives has been given to us by Him, yet when we dropped His hand sprinting into our "new" life, we dropped all meaning and our steps are no longer firm.

Personally, this lack of contentment is something that I've struggled with every day of my life as long as I can remember. As a child I wasn't allowed to have certain shoes because they cost too much and I would dwell on that even though I had a great pair of shoes already. When I was 12, I couldn't wait to be a "teenager" as if there is some perk for me (although today it seems that 12 is the new 18). When I was 15 and got a driver's permit I was frustrated that my parents couldn't have had me a year earlier so that I could be driving without them by now. At 18, While being recruited to play college basketball, I told coaches not to waste their time because I was "too good" to play at a small school like theirs. Thanks to God's sense of humor, I ended up at Vanguard University going 7-27 as a Senior losing to all those "small schools" that recruited me. The list goes on, but as I'm about to turn 29 I'm realizing that true contentment can never be found in the things of this world. The life I was trying to create for myself in the upcoming "season" was empty if my heart hadn't been transformed into the heart of Christ.

I don't know what it is that makes us believe the "perfect" mate, job, car, toy, etc... will bring us the meaning of life that we missed in "seasons" past. Just to make this clear, when I say "us" I'm not talking to the non-Christians here but to the actual followers of Christ, me included. We have fallen into the trap of "existentialism" from the 1960's. We sing Beatles songs like they are worship music yet don't pay attention to the lyrics. We show up at church to find this "give yourself a better life" (not the gospel) message gift wrapped with a new name in some new fancy Christian book that everybody at church is saying you "must read". Gone is the steadiness of God and learning about who He truly is in His own word because according to some guy who's teaching you, God's word may be fallible. Gone is the absolute truth that Jesus is who He says He is (and was actually killed for saying) and in is creating a Jesus in our own image. Let's face it, we say we love Christ, but most of the time, we love that "we love" Christ because we think we are giving ourselves meaning and creating a much better eternal life than the alternative. Gone is letting God's word do the teaching, and in steps the hip new speaker with the popular book that doesn't make anyone feel left out. We all "might have a shot" if we are willing to change who Jesus says He is, is the new message even if it means an unsteady life in which we "figure out our meaning". In the Spirit of compassion we've thrown out the true Gospel in exchange for the crowd pleasing good intentioned unsteadiness that is known as post-modernism.

Then again, this conforming to culture should not surprise us, even in our own church. Because we live the same lifestyle as those who don't follow Jesus we give all of our time on the weekend to watching football (ouch) at the expense of prayer that brings us closer to our Creator or giving our families the attention they deserve. During the week we may spend our evenings in bars buying rounds to fit in so people don't think we're those "crazy Christians who are out of it". (having a drink is not the issue here, it's the lifestyle). As one guy told me, a "Christian fanatic" is really some person who loves Christ more than you do. In today's culture I aim to love Christ without being "fanatical" yet I call myself a "fan" of numerous sports teams which as we know is short for the word "fanatic", how does that work? An even bigger issue is that we all watch the same smutty TV that allows us to see the same commercials as the non-believers. The ones that remind us that our walk here through life is always in need of something, it can't be firm. We're bombarded with the lies that nothing will make the steps of life firm. Many times commercials give me the feeling I have right after I put on a great new pair of white shoes and a small speck of dirt gets on them the first day they're being worn. That sick feeling that I now need to buy new ones. Finding contentment in anything other than God is like having delicious sugary treats at every meal, sure they taste great but eventually you realize that it's not worth feeling sick and sticking with substance is the only way to get true nourishment.

Today's scripture is clear that we can put an end to the senseless chasing after a life of meaning and contentment. God has already presented us with an opportunity to experience contentment in Him as we accept a life in Christ. According to God's word, the righteous man has the law of God in his heart, and that is enough in this life and for eternity to keep him content. Romans 13:8-10 tells us that,

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. "

When we love, we are acting out of the law that is on our hearts, the law that keeps our steps firm. We are actually fulfilling it in the same way Christ did, by loving God and loving others. When we are acting like Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, we are walking on a path that is firm both now and into eternity because God's law is eternal. Numerous times in Scripture we are taught that God is never changing in His character, yet, we choose to walk away from Him, forsaking the narrow, firm, steady path, in exchange for the lies of the Price of this world. Don't be duped by anyone who tells you that you can figure out what you're here for. No book written other than the Bible can fulfill that, and God clearly states that in knowing our true meaning, we will walk a steady path. The only way to accept what God can and will do in your life, is to get out of His way, quit trying to figure out what He wants you to do and understand that our main job of life is to accept the gift of Christ and respond by loving God, loving others, and glorifying God in our joyful acceptance of His constant grace.

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