Faith, expectation, the New Year, & other musings…

This Sunday at Hillside we are wrapping up our “Jesus REVOLUTION” series – it’s also our last Sunday gathering of 2014. The normally hectic pace of life has significantly increased in this Christmas season, & in some ways, I feel like I’ve had to be more & more intentional about stopping, reflecting, & evaluating life, its happenings, my priorities, & what I give my time to. Specifically, over the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to take time to reflect on the questions:

  • What could/would it look like if Jesus did a revolution in my life?
  • What am I expecting/hoping for Jesus to do in me?
  • What am I wiling to put on the table?

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life. The time spent with my family & friends. Watching my kids turn into great adults who love Jesus & are making strides forward in their own lives. The work I am privileged to do. The life & growth in Christ I’m seeing within our church family. And still…


 

I wonder what areas Jesus wants to cut away so that I can grow, develop, deepen. What thought patterns & meditations of my heart He wants to transform. What ways I interact with & respond to others. How I can better take care of myself (body, mind, & spirit.)

I guess what I am expecting is that He is doing something NEW in me. That He is in the process of awakening parts of my life, my soul, that have been dormant or stagnant. That He is going to be refining me – So can will continue to be growing more & more like Him.

So the answer to the last question, “What am I willing to put on the table?” is ME. It feels a little scary – which means that my prayer heading into 2015 & beyond is: “Increase my faith, Lord. Because “…we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:39

Blessings, grace, peace, & FAITH to you

New Year’s REVOLUTIONS…

You know those AT&T commercials where a guy sits at a table with 4 or 5 little kids & asks them questions, then helps guide them on entertaining rambles? Those are among my favorites. New Years’ week, one came out with a kid going on & on about “New Year’s Revolutions…” I laughed. :) (You can watch it HERE.)

Later, I was thinking about “New Year’s Revolutions” – in the context of the “Holy Night” series we just finished. Everyone expected the Messiah, the Christ to bring a revolution – to deliver Israel (using military means) from the tyrannical oppression of the Roman Empire, to reclaim the throne of His ancestor, King David, & to dispense God’s judgment on the enemies of God’s people. Here’s something John the Baptist declared about the mission of the Christ:

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, & He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11,12

Whew! Fire? Threshing? Judgment? Unquenchable fire? That  sounds revolutionary.

And yet as we look through the Gospels at Christ’s actions, we see a very different picture of ‘revolution’ – Jesus, a humble, submitted servant of God, launching into public ministry with His own water baptism, & visible infilling of the Holy Spirit. He then promptly was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert for 40 days of fasting… & temptation at the hands of humanity’s ancient enemy, the devil. Christ resisted each & every temptation with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit & the proper application of God’s Word, the Scriptures.

It reminds me of the familiar scene in the garden of Eden when Adam & Eve disobeyed God when they gave in to the same devil’s temptation to eat a fruit God had forbidden. Where Adam & Eve’s actions led to humanity’s fall into sin & separation from God, Christ’s example in resisting temptation through Scripture lit a fuse that led to Him declaring the day of God’s favor & the restoration of relationship with God, as sons & daughters, for all who would receive Him.

Jesus did start a revolution… & it is still going on today.

Purposing to Grow…

Watching college football on New Year’s Day is one of my favorite things. The full slate of Bowl Games provides a comforting & familiar backdrop for thinking, pondering, & musing – which, along with brown paper bags, wrapped up with string – are a few of my favorite things.

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution maker. I don’t want to make a bold declaration, only to not follow through… I’m NOT a judger of those that do make them; I’d just prefer that my life & how I live speak for itself… instead of just words…

The older I get, the more I am recognizing the ever-growing ease of resting in my own wants, likes, & preferences… & a propensity, a pull to settle in to the path of least resistance. Even if it’s not good for my long-term hopes & dreams.

I see that my good intentions & resolve to change, to grow, to be different melt away as soon as the smallest bit of relief comes. Like how the desire, purpose, & intent to diet & take off a few pounds/inches fades away in the amount of time necessary to change from a pair of tight jeans into stretchy warm-ups…

Wish I could say that that ISN’T true of me. That I have got the whole self-control & life discipline thing-y conquered. But I don’t. And therefore, I want to purpose to grow. I want to live on purpose, with intention & determination. To honor God, & ever be growing into His plans for me instead of shrinking from situations that are demanding, difficult, & challenging.

And so I purpose to grow:

    -to think & speak positively & hopefully
    -to spend more time with my wife doing her favorite things
    -to get to know my kids better. In 5 days, I will officially have teenagers (18, 15, 13.) This fact means we are entering a NEW LIFE STAGE – which means I better get to know them, & let them know me in the middle of the new-ness.
    -to continue my quest to be a lifelong learner, regularly & consistently stretching to know God & to be known. To grow in faith, & to read, study, research, dig, & wrestle.
    -to study, speak, & understand German
    -to see an increase in self-control & time management
    -to write
    -to live well, embracing life in its fullness – cause it’s not just going to happen by hoping for it.

When I look back at what I’ve written, I think that maybe someone would see this as a New Year’s Resolution list, & for a lot of reasons (pride being number 1) I guess I could be inclined to try & wordsmith an explanation or 10 of WHY this ISN’T one of Those Lists because I’m not one of Those People. But that would be silly, because really, how others perceive me & think of me can’t be paramount. Can’t. And won’t.

I’m purposing to grow.