Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Lil' Perspective on "Things".

Some people look for hope and contentment in the world- things that are man-made.
Some people look for hope and contentment in God.

Me. I have hope in God. Real, unrelenting hope and faith.

But I keep trying to find contentment in and by the things of this world.

I was convicted of this today in church. Although the sermon wasn't, a home-runner for me, the service pastor at our church put this in perspective at the closing of the service.

The flesh and the heart are always in a constant battle. But what's important to remember is that by simply changing your perspective the enemy can become weaker. When we look at the things of this world from a heavenly perspective through the eyes of God, things of this world become a lot less powerful and influential.  

But I think it is important to mention here that I did not say things of this world become bad.  

So many of us have it ingrained in our heads that "things" of the world are bad, especially materialistic things. I don't believe that and I honestly don't think God believes that either. I don't believe God wants us to suffer and live in "poverty" because others are in poverty. I don't think when Paul wrote in the book of Timothy that "love of money is the root of all evil", he is saying money is bad. In fact, he doesn't say that at all. He says "the LOVE of money is the root of all evil".

There is nothing sinful about wanting a nice car and having a nice house. It is the perspective and meaning you have and give to those things that can lead to sin.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that just as much work can be done for His kingdom by those with a nice car and house than by those without. I choose to believe that Psalm 37:4 means what it says: "Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". And in Proverbs 16:3 which says, "commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed".  Did you read that?  desires of your heart and your plans.  God has set certain desires and plans within our hearts because it makes us who we are as individuals. Just because we have them does not mean they are inherently sinful plans or bad desires. In fact those plans and desires can be the more powerful tool in our lives.

I am pretty sure that the fact that I want to own every single Boy Meets World season on DVD is not a bad thing.  My desire and plans to travel and explore the world outside of missions are not bad and unGodly.   If somebody wants to become a successful president of some big-wig corporation...that is okay and can bring just as much glory to God as anything else.

It all has to do with perspective. I am challenged to look at things with a different perspective. I am choosing to not feel guilty for wanting nice things and desiring certain plans for my life. Instead, I will choose to check my perspective- look at them all from a heavenly perspective- so when I get my plans and desires or loose them, at the end of the day, I can still stay "God is more than enough."

My hope and contentment will still be rooted in Christ.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Feeding the Foundation

Since I was a teeny tiny kid, I have always loved big houses. I seriously obessessed over them and always wanted explore them and one day take up residence in one. In fact, many Sunday afternoons were spent looking at the houses for sale in the newspaper, picking out my favorite mansions, and then gluing them into my scrapbook.

I am not sure why I loved them so much. I thought it was maybe because I lived in such a little house. However, even now as I have grown up, babysat and stayed in some really beautiful homes, I am still obsessed with them.  Everything from the outside to the inside, I marvel over.

As I was thinking about this the other day, I thought of the analogy that people use for people. You know- "it is on the inside what matters". I thought of houses that are so pretty on the outside yet the insides are completely ugly and then also of the house that are old and yucky on the outside, but the inside is really well-designed. I prefer those houses because they have the Narnia effect on the emotions.

Either way- both parts of the house can change. The interior can be completely renovated and redesigned as well as the exterior.

But one thing that can never be changed (or is very rarely changed outside of complete demolition) is the actual foundation of the house.

Then I thought: and when have I ever taken the time to look at the foundation of a house? After all that is where the structure and the beauty of the house being and evolve from.

So take that thought, apply it to people and go with it where you want...but here is where I go:

If instead of making assumptions about people by their exterior OR interiors, I looked at their foundations, how would my relationships with them change?

I am great about judging the exterior, by the way. It is one of my favorites games. I mean after all, in case you didn't know, Jordan means "rivers of judgment" so naturally, I am a natural. (justified?! please?!) I think we are all pretty good at this though.  It comes in a package deal with our sin nature.

Interior however, can be a little trickier. You meet someone and if you are anything like you me, based on a 15 minutes conversation, you know if you like the person or not. (probably more like 5, if I am being honest. )  When talking you wait to see if the person meets your standards of a"good conversation".  Did they make me laugh? Did I make them laugh? Are they smart? or are the a little more on the Paris Hilton side of the spectrum? (I am okay with either).  Can they have a real conversation or is just surfacey stuff?  Where are they from? Where did they go to school? What did they major in? Oh and a big one- greek life? If I can guess from the get go, this usually means I won't be best friends with them. (I said usually- not all the time and I said best friends- not just friends. )

Some other people may take longer than 15 minutes though.  It takes a couple interactions, a couple hang-seshes, and a couple weeks or so. You can get to know the inside of person based on what they say, how the interact, and who they are, right now in their life.

But this is where I go wrong and forget. Everyone changes from the inside out and like I said, the only thing that doesn't change, is the foundation.

Foundations form, frame, and uphold both the insides and outsides of a person just like they do a building.

Some people can look like they have it all together on the outside and the inside because it is the areas of our life we can control and change. We can control our looks and we can control our behaviors. However, we all know that after a while, when you get past the mask and the act of a person and start to see dysfunction, you realize it is usually routed in the dysfunctional foundation of that person. And when you see the dysfunction in the foundation, then grace and mercy extend a lot more freely because we realize that people's ugliness, covered by a scripted and perfected act, is just an outcome of a faulty foundation- something which usually they have no control over and have no idea how to fix or remodel. 

So what does this mean?

The obvious-pay attention to the foundations of people before you judge them on the outside and the inside. Grace and mercy are something we receive freely everyday from the Person we deserve it least from so we should more than willingly extend it to others.

But more importantly, take a look at your own foundation.

No matter how you grew up or how you were raised, it is important to pay attention to how you are feeding your foundation. This can be done negatively and positively.

Are you feeding the weaknesses of your foundation? For example, taking issues from your past and letting them ruin your relationships now by giving them control over the present? Are you dwelling on the negatives things that were built into your foundation that you had no control over. Or what above feeding your sin nature in general? Unfortunately, nobody has a perfect foundation. There is sin built into every single one? So are you feeding the sin of your foundation? When you feed the sin and weaknesses in your foundation, you will produce a weak and ugly person no matter how good you think you are at masking it.  

Instead, focusing on feeding your foundation with good. And I don't mean things that simply make you happy, but things that are good in God's eyes- including but not limited to struggles and challenges along with happiness and love and grace that you let shape you into a beautiful person inside and out.

Stop trying to control the outside appearance and inside behaviors,based on "who you want to be".  Instead feed the foundation, build into it with good, and you will become who you want to be and it will more solid, more believable, and more sturdy that any mask or scripted lifestyle could ever be. 
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