Monday, June 19, 2017

Say So.

“Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets’” (Luke 5:5, NIV).

These were the first words recorded in Luke’s gospel from the man who would have much to say. Peter was a living paradox. He seem to live and speak from polarizing extremes, and yet would find such a place of influence in the mission of God’s heart for the world. 

These first words were sounded with what appears to be “defensiveness.” Jesus had asked him to do something that would have never made sense to a sane and experienced fishermen. Fish don’t live at the tops of the water during the daytime. They rest in the depths as to escape the heat of the sun.

Peter was defensive and then descriptive. He explained to Jesus why this would never work. It had been tried when conditions were right and still failed. Doing it again now would accomplish nothing better. 

“But because you say so…” Peter surrendered all that he knew, all that he felt, and all that he saw. There was something different about the words Jesus had spoken. Little did he know at that moment, but he had heard and was responding to the voice of God. That voice would change his life forever.

When God speaks, don't let a defensive reaction rob you of His divine invtervention. It’s tempting to argue why something will not work, how you’ve tried it time and again, and how futile doing another time would be. But as Peter chose to do in his moment, learn to do in your moment. Trade your “say so” for His “say so.” Because HE SAYS to do it, you will do it. Because HE SAYS you are strong, then you are strong, even when you feel weak. Because HE SAYS you are called, then you are called, even though you feel unqualified. Because HE SAYS keep trying, then you will keep trying, even though it seems that your efforts are useless. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your ears on His “say so,” and continue to respond to His word with all obedience.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Nexus, 11: Slow Down.

"Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.  So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves" (Romans 14:20‭-‬22, NIV).

You know that feeling, right? The one where you know that you are right, the other person is slightly off, or maybe they are completely off. If they would just listen to one more point of reason they would get where you are coming from. Have you ever thought that, only to find that the one more point only led to more "one more points" that became the gateway into an argument that became defensive and divisive? Working too hard to prove a point can become a nexus breaker of gigantic proportion. 

Such was Paul's point in regards to those who had a conviction not to eat food that had been considered unclean, yet others felt free to do so through what Christ had accomplished and had God had spoken to Peter. Jesus had fulfilled the Law, but some were not yet there in their faith or understanding. Others chose to continue to oberseve certain aspects of the Law out of their own conviction. The temptation to turn personal conviction into a fight to prove a point is opposite of who Jesus is and what He came to do. 

Where the Bible is as clear as crystal, let there be no doubt. WHere the Bible is as clear as crystal through YOUR INTERPRETATION and PERSONAL CONVICTION, slow down. Study and understand what the Bible is saying. Listen to those you are in connection with and try to understand what they are saying. You'll never earn the right to be heard if you never take the time to listen. Making your point at the cost of destroying relationship isn not why He came. If you want to prove a point, be sure not to cancel it out with a wrong attitude, with harsh words, or a motivation that is more about you than it is about Jesus or others. The devil is out to destroy nexus, and he specializes in using those who are inside the connection to do it. Resist the temptation to prove your own point and you deny him the pleasure of his sinister plot. Take time to listen to others and you will find time to be heard.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nexus, 10: Unity Takes Effort.

"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification" (Romans 14:19, NIV).

Doing "what leads to peace" has nothing to do with comfort or convenience, yet everything having to do with calling and conviction. You cannot truly hear or pursue with integrity your calling to do anything if you are neglecting and rejecting the call to "make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification." Mutual edification is a phrase that should remind you that as much as you need or desire to be encouraged and valued in what it is you do, and more importantly, who it is that you are, so do those around you. 

Think about it. God has placed you right where you are so that you can be a catalyst of change in bringing His voice of purpose and value to the ears and lives of those around you. Choosing to be more of a megaphone for the faults and elements of another that you don't like can have a deep and destructive impact in the nexus God has designed. Ask God to show you who people really are, beyond the impressions and feelings you have in regards to them. Personality differences will always exist. The likeability factor is real, but at the same time irrelevant when it comes to speaking value and purpose in the lives of others. 

If you want people to see the value in you, then ask God to open your  eyes so that you may see it in them. Satan came to destroy the purpose in others by attacking their sense of personal value. Think before you speak. Refuse to let him use you in fulfilling that goal. There is a time to address the conflicts and choices that contradict God's truth, but there is a way to do it that doesn't point the finger back at you. Deal with people, not just problems. Seek to protect the connection, so that hell doesn't have a reason to get excited when division takes another strike at unity. Let God's love for you be the motivation for loving others. Unity takes effort, but the reward for it far surpasses the results when no effort is taken.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nexus, 9: Keep "Little Things" Little.

"Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval" (Romans 14:16‭-‬18, NIV).

Have you ever heard stories of churches that have split over the choice of carpet colors, whether or not to switch from pews to chairs (and then what color), or what kind of music to play or songs to sing? Sounds silly, huh. What about marriage. How many divorces have listed "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for final seperation? Or, friendships and connections that have ended because of this text, that facebook posts, didn't get invited to that event, or any number of instances that often times get blown too far from reason or rationale?

Focusing on what seperates us will keep us from seeing JESUS. If you identify as a believer in Jesus, keep your focus on Him. That doesn't mean you don't have feelings or that you're not hurt when your opinions seem disregarded. But keep in mind that it is Satan who came to bring division and destruction to what God created. He created Adam and Eve, not just for reproduction, but for reflection. What they had together was a reflection of the unity God had with Adam and what was experienced in the Trinitarian relationship of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). 

It was Jesus who came to HEAL US & to UNITE US. Let Him start it in you. Major on what is non-negotiable, but keep that list to a minimum. Be careful not to allow emotions to morph something that should be minor into something major. Your feelings should be disqualified from making that decision. Use more than just your heart. Use God's heart. Let Him guide you through the feelings and restore the connections that He has purposed for you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Nexus, 8: Let Love Lead.

"If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died" (Romans 14:15, NIV).

When you believe that God has brought you to a certain place or "level" in your relationship with Him, you want others to come and know Him in that same way. Here's a word of advice. STOP. Let God continue to work in you. Unless you know that you know that you know, don't try to start working the same thing in someone else that God is working in you. Let HIM do it if that's what He wants to do. You are NOT called to change others. You are called to LOVE others. The Holy Spirit will work that change in the lives of others through the love that you show and live.

The change God works in those around you may NOT look just like what He's working in you. Don't judge. Don't intimidate. Don't manipulate. Love. Trying to get someone to change and become more like you, especially when it is the "gray areas" of personal conviction and not absolute truth, does more to lead them to push back than to press on.  Love them where they are and let God meet them there. Most of us are never pushed closer to God. We are drawn closer. Showing love will keep the conversation going and the relationship between you and the other growing. Let love lead you in your nexus with others, rather than your disappointment in where you expect them to be in their relationship with God.

Love leads you to care more about where someone IS than where YOU want them to be. Love them there & let God work. As God is not finished working in you, He's not finished working through you or in the lives of those around you. When it's black and white, love them enough to point it out, show them love, and help them to work it through. If it's not black and white in the Scripture, even though it feels black and white, full color, high definition, and three dimensional to you, slow down, back off, show love, and let God work. Or, acknowledge that where God has them may be different than where God has you. Don't allow judgment or jealousy to have a foothold. Keep loving and growing stronger in your connection with God and with one another.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Nexus, 7: What Arguing Does.

"I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean" (Romans 14:14, NIV).

Plain and simple, not everyone is going to agree with how you see the Bible. Yes, there are many things that are clear cut and black an white. There are other areas where the Bible is a bit vague, and requires you to be dependent on the Holy Spirit to know what God is saying to you about a particular situation. If God has given you a peace and a freedom about something and it does not contradict His word, then hold on to it. If God has given you a "hold on, wait a minute" in an area, hold on to it. But in never use what God has shown you as an equivalent with His unchanging truth for other people.

Many relationships and connections are stressed and damaged because of arguing about what the Bible says, what it means, and how it should be applied. Don't ARGUE what the Bible says. KNOW it. LIVE it. Let others SEE it. TEACH it. Then let Holy Spirit CONFIRM it. Arguing about the truth of God will keep you focused on what what divides and destroys and not on living it out with honor and integrity. Jesus spoke it, lived it, and let others see it in Him. The best argument for the Word of God is letting others see the irrefutable evidence of change in YOUR LIFE.

Arguing is generally began as a discussion with a pure intention. You want to share with another of a differing view what you believe in why. Of course, you feel that if they would just listen to all of your well thought out points of reason, they would abandon what they had previously held onto and adapt to your logical manner of thinking. And when that doesn't happen, emotions begin to ramp up little by little until the argument is no longer about WHAT is right, but WHO is right. When you are no longer able to reason with someone, let it go, at least for the time. Arguing will not lead you closer to truth, only closer to a more divided atmosphere. It's not about truth, but about who's in control. Let God be in control and let Him heal you when you feel like you're losing control. Hold on to what is true, but be careful not to hold others to see or value all that you hold to the same regard. Aside from absolute truth, God may be dealing with them in different areas and in different ways. Let the arguement cool and let the nexus heal.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Nexus, 6: Confronting Hurt with Honesty.

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister" (Romans 14:13, NIV).

You were created for nexus, for connection. You need it. You long for it. It may look different than the way someone else looks for it, but everyone searches to belong in one form or another. Some find that connection with a tv screen or a movie, some in an office, on the golf-course, in the community, or at a bar. Others find it in a community of faith. One of the biggest roadblocks to nexus is when one person begins to misinterpret the actions or inactions of another. When one feels they are trying to connect and assumes another is not. Rather than engaging with honesty, they turn inward and judge.

Hurt is a powerful obstacle to overcome. Hurt doesn't need to be real or intended, but only perceived. Hurt will lead you to think in a direction that reality never traveled, but will allow you to "feel" it as real as though it did. You begin to make decisions based on that perception. You share the pain of your perception with others. You begin to withdrawl and remove yourself from being further subjected to such treatment. The break in nexus, or connection, that could have been confronted in healthy and open communication, has now become the stumbling block for you and for those from whom you seperated.

Relationships, friendships, and connections must be discipled. They go through a process. Don't stumble on your emotions nor allow your reactions to your emotions to become a stumbling block for others. Choose to be a part of the solution to every relational problem you encounter. Choosing to react to your emotions without calmly considering all sides is more destructive than it is in getting your point across. Be willing to discple others, to work with others, in helping them see who you are, how you feel, and how to continue in a way that honors each other, honors God, and honors the purpose in which HE crossed your paths. Be a discipler, not a destroyer. Stop misjudging and start joining together. Judgment blocks. Joining together breaks through.