One of my fav pals and his wisdom…”Larry-isms”

1My BESTEST pal is a pretty wise guy…no, not THAT type of wise guy.  I’m talking wisdom…Godly wisdom…Jesus honoring wisdom…wisdom of the ages.  He blesses me often with snippets that become for me “life’s proverbs.”  Thanks Larry…you are a treasure indeed!

“I am not living my life so that you will love me, I’m living my life so I can love you”

“The only way I can love ANYONE is by loving Jesus with my whole heart, mind, & strength…if I love ANYONE OR ANYTHING above Jesus, it only leads me back to living to please others and hoping they will love me in return.”

“I want to live my life for Jesus…if I live my life so that others will think that I am smart, that I know what I’m talking about or to be recognized by others, that becomes my mission in life- Recognition! To win the recognition of others! We need to live our lives so that when people look at us they see Jesus, they hear Jesus, they only think of Jesus. Every time they see you, they have taken their eyes off Jesus.” Matt. 6:33 Seek first His Kingdom & His righteousness and ……

“If you’re going to talk about people, talk about Jesus. If you’re going to talk about people, talk to Jesus about those people.”

“I am not living my life so that you will love me, I’m living my life so that I can love you.”

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Here’s something I ran into – A “Creed” for those who Struggle…

A Creed for strugglers – I ran into this not too long ago on one of my fav blogs.  I liked it for some reason…it made me uncomfortable.  Why?  Because some of it is true…we all struggle…but thank you JESUS for the gift of faith and the gift of Jesus’ constant love, grace and presence that takes our struggles and uncertainties and beautifies them (“beauty for ashes…oil of JOY in mourning”).  So, here goes…you read it and see how you feel!

1Since many of us were small children, we’ve recited The Apostles’ Creed in church.

 For those of you who may be unfamiliar, the Creed is essentially a synopsis of the essential tenets of the Christian faith, intended to be professed in corporate worship as a shared declaration of belief. It’s world-altering big picture stuff touching on the reality and Trinitarian nature of God, the identity, life, mission, and resurrection of Christ, the existence of the Trinity, the concept of eternal salvation, the function of the Church, and the return of Christ as  judge.

 And while we’ve said the words consistently throughout our lives in thousands of gatherings (most times likely believing every word deeply), the truth is for most Jesus followers we’ve often been less than fully convinced of at least one bit or another at any given moment yet unable to reveal it.  After all the Creed is a moral litmus test, a spiritual bellwether; a verbal line in the sand separating:

 the insiders from the outsiders, the faithful from the heathens, the saved from the lost, the saints from the sinners, the believers from the heretics, the rescued and the sanctified “us,” from the morally broken “them.”

 Would you admit that there have been times over the course of your journey of faith (since you have grown more transparent and honest), to admit the times that your heart and mind have vacillated?  Have you ever felt like a walking spiritual contradiction? Maybe you have struggled…that is ok.  There are times when all Jesus followers find their faith far less absolute or fixed than what the Apostles’ Creed demands.  This then, is a creed for those times…

 A Creed for strugglers

I believe in God—usually. I mean most of the time I’m absolutely sure that God exists, though sometimes dying children and serial killers and Cancer and Tsunamis do make me wonder about His power or goodness. And on a few really bad days I’ve even been terrified that God may not be there at all. But yes, I do believe in God.

I believe in Jesus yet sometimes struggle with the Christ. The idea that God hated the flawed children He created so much that he had to send His only son (who is also God) to earth and then brutally murder Him to satisfy—Himself, seems rather wasteful and petty and mean. Many days I hesitate to go all-in with that part of the story. I also sometimes wonder about the science of the whole Virgin Birth thing and the miracle stories too, if I’m being honest.  Yet Jesus is the closest thing to bedrock I’ve ever found; my peace and rest and many times the only thing that keeps me from totally losing my religion. I always find his words and his ways beautiful and life-giving, yet even then I wonder just how this whole salvation thing really works and what I’m missing that others seem to get without trying.

I believe in the Holy Spirit but confess I often can’t tell what is God speaking to me, and what is just me talking to myself. God as Spirit gets a little nebulous and weird and loosey-goosey for me sometimes too, especially when trying to trying to find something supernatural and sacred in the mundane, ordinary, fluorescent-lit, traffic-jammed, mosquito-occupied days I stumble through.

I believe in the Church, though if I’m honest it seems to do as much harm as good in the world, and I’m not sure what to do with that tragic reality. I’ve been both gripped by The Church’s beauty yet repelled by the horrors it has manufactured. I can (many times in the very same days) find it both fully lovely and entirely gruesome and this unsettles me greatly. I daily fight for the Church and fight with The Church with equal vigor and often wonder which is the better path.

I believe in Prayer yet I don’t really know what it does or whether or not it works, or if it does work just how and when. Some days I pray earnestly, some days I live life as a continual silent prayer of gratitude, and some days I say empty, showy words to the sky and hope that God doesn’t catch it (or forgives me if He does).

I believe the Bible, while providing many people a way to hear from and know God, has ironically also been the single most damaging weapon to ever exist in the hands of Christians; used to justify hatred, war, bigotry, greed, and every kind of ugliness we wish to wallow in and inflict upon each other. The Bible is often the greatest barrier to God that people ever encounter— and this is the stuff that keeps me up at night.

I believe that I am tired, worn out, and exhausted from forever feeling I’m chasing after the wind that is God, when I’d just rather stop running and stop believing altogether.

I believe that I sometimes passionately, vigorously defend God while simultaneously being unsure He’s even there.

I believe that as I walk further down this road of faith, I find surety in only my questions and the forever not-knowing of it all.I believe that God is far bigger than my words or thoughts or feelings, and since those are all I have to go on, I’ll always have a bit less than I’d like to of God.

I believe that God is far bigger than my words or thoughts or feelings, and since those are all I have to go on, I’ll always have a bit less than I’d like to of God.

I believe in Heaven and Hell—and sometimes I just don’t.

I believe I regularly conclude that I need to be saved from the wretched mire of my sin, yet just as often wonder if sin isn’t something we’ve conjured up; a convenient way of excusing ourselves for being simply terrible to each other.

I believe that I want desperately to know things that I may not be able to know—and this stinks royally.

I believe that some days I have the faith of a mustard seed and some days far, far less.

I believe that my spiritual life is often equal parts deep conviction and fake it ’till you make it.

Most of all, I believe that God (if He is truly God) knows all of this in ways no one else ever could; all my trying and failing, and following and falling, and grasping and losing— and He relentlessly and unwaveringly loves me through it all.

God knows the meandering, perpetually broken road I have traveled to reach Him, and knows too just how much my heart breaks when blessed assurance that has been captured after a long and brutal fight, invariably eludes me almost instantly.

God knows that I am a seeker, a pilgrim, an open-hearted lover, a learner, a rabid chaser of the Divine, but I am a fraud and a failure and a traitor and a rebel all the while.

Thank God, that God is God.

This is the honest creed of an exhausted apostle who struggles and stumbles toward Love.

I may not like it all, but I can fully own it all.

 

The Bible Project – I’m one of their RAVING FANS!

10302183_300x300I’m loving The Bible Project!  These guys are nailing it in terms of giving people a great overview of the Biblical Story.  Check out their YOUTUBE channel … it is worth your time.  In addition, their website provides extra resources and stuff that could help you in personal or corporate Bible study.  I haven’t met these guys yet…but my prayer is that that opportunity comes soon.  All I know is that I’m one of their RAVING FANS!

Below are some excellent videos on the Gospel of Luke – as some of you know, I’m a Biblical Studies Online Professor at Azusa Pacific University…one of my courses is the Gospel of Luke.  I am always in the process of studying this marvelous gospel story.  If you are curious, here’s a good place to start with the Bible Project’s videos.  Give them a peek!

Luke Part 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIb_dCIxzr0&index=6&t=37s&list=PLH0Szn1yYNecanpQqdixWAm3zHdhY2kPR

Luke Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26z_KhwNdD8&index=7&t=32s&list=PLH0Szn1yYNecanpQqdixWAm3zHdhY2kPR

Luke Chapters 1 and 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OLezoUvOEQ&index=2&t=8s&list=PLH0Szn1yYNec6O3ZOZzAMb2WW2abJwzZ-

Luke Chapters 3-9 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k4GbvZUPuo&index=3&list=PLH0Szn1yYNec6O3ZOZzAMb2WW2abJwzZ-

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