Tuesday, April 15, 2014

depravity before prosperity :: a passion week post

{WARNING :: this post wound up longer than intended.  Every once in a while I feel compelled to do a whole lot of writing and not so much editing.  So I'm taking a deep breath and hitting publish.  Thanks for your grace.  And as always - I would love to hear your 'speak the truth in love' voice in this conversation.  I know I'm not alone in my wrestling so please, by all means, comment away!}
Depravity.

It means corruption but it goes deeper than that.  
Your computer can be corrupt.  A company can be corrupt.  
Depravity is the corruption of our very souls.

Acknowledging depravity in this world is acknowledging that something went terribly wrong shortly after perfect man was created in the perfect garden by the perfect God.  That 'something' is often called ‘sin’ and it immediately separated us from our God…our Creator.  
{Remember that whole bit with the sneaky serpent and the forbidden fruit?}
Sin reflects the depravity of man...and woman.  
You and me.

Yet even in that moment of original sin, when the bittersweet taste of rebellion was still on their tongues, God had it in mind to bring us back to himself.  

It was the result of human sin that caused the great divide between creation and Creator but it was the result ofdivine love that reached back across to take hold of us.

I hear a lot of talk about a 'prosperity gospel'.  
I don’t know everything there is to know about this position within the context of Christianity.  
I couldn't say for certain which people or churches or organizations would identify themselves as believing in a prosperity gospel or which ones are attracted to this line of thinking.  
It’s not for me to judge or analyze or put under a miscroscope but I will say this...  

The gospel, for me, does not begin with prosperity - it begins with depravity.

And when it does...prosperity looks a lot different than you might imagine.

It doesn't look like my fulfilled dreams.
It looks like His fulfilled dreams.

It doesn't look like
a higher paying job
a new car
a bigger house
a clean bill of health
the man of your dreams
the children you always wished for...
Could God offer us those things and then allow us to use them for His glory and honor?  Absolutely!
While there is nothing inherently wrong with these dreams, if they are not God's dreams for you then achieving them is not prosperity...it is selfishness and disobedience...it is completely missing the point.

And the point is this...
if God never answered a single one of my prayers from this day forward
He would still be God
I would still love Him and trust Him with my heart {however broken it might be}
because my faith and my God are not evidenced in
my answered prayers
my successful career
my picture-perfect marriage
my healthy children
my worldly prosperity...
they are evidenced in the person of Jesus Christ and what his life, death, and resurrection means for a depraved soul like mine...and yours.

A lot of people may be shaking their heads right now and wagging their fingers while telling me I should...
Be more positive
Don’t be so dramatic
Live in freedom
Take hold of the abundant life
Access all the blessings that God has for you
Focus on the good in the world

And in response I say – I do.
But there is something I do before any of that.  
I acknowledge my own depravity - my own inferior position to a superior God - so that my view of prosperity is God's view of prosperity...not the world's.  
Don't ever be fooled into thinking they are one and the same.  
The way God wants to prosper you is not the way the world wants to prosper you.

And so I plead with Him in prayer that I would never, never, ever ask Him to build me up by the world's standards...would never, never, ever expect Him to give me everything I wish for, because what He has already given is enough.  

I don't need to stand up in front people and carefully articulate a beautiful story of how my God heard my prayers for this or that and then answered them just as I desired and so...see there!  He's real!  He exists!  This is the evidence!  He wants to make all our dreams come true!
Hogwash.

There is something far more important than accessing God's blessings for myself, 
setting my sights on the 'good life'...
there is Jesus.
In Him alone I prosper.

And by that I do not mean that if I worship and follow him I will prosper.
I mean that the very experience of knowing him, being loved by him, and loving others is prosperity.  
There is nothing more I should ever want...but I do.  
I want more.  We all do.
So I get flat on my face and beg God to prune away those prideful branches so that contentment and surrender to his dreams for my life will grow in their place.

God, in his goodness, may see fit to give me every single thing I've ever dreamed of...or He may not.

The desire of my heart is not that I would use God to achieve my own prosperity but that he would use me to achieve His.

The true richness and beauty of the gospel can only be fully grasped when I fully grasp my inadequacies, my weakness, my sin, my mistakes, my position far from home…and the fact that I don't deserve one single thing - including my salvation.

We deem this passion week holy.  It is the sacred road we walk right up to Easter...to the tomb...to
     the empty place that was evidence of abundant love.

Do you want to know the lyrics that lead me just all out weep these holy days?  They are from Laura Story and they remind me that - 
instead of chasing after worldly prosperity,
I can rest in my own depravity, 
so that I might find true prosperity
in Jesus' perfect divinity.

I’m so tired of trying to be something I could never be.
Be my God so I can just be me.

The entire song is a beautiful reminder to me of who I am and who God is. The true answer to those two questions will set your sideways, upside down world completely straight again.

Maybe you could use a little holiness in your week.

Maybe, like me, you need someone to be your…
Healer
Comfort
Peace
Father
Mighty Warrior
King
Savior
Life Line
Everything

As you listen to the words let him be all of that for you, so this Easter week - and always - you can just be you.

And know that in your deep depravity…
His prosperity, not your own, is worth seeking above all else.
{Whew!  See...I wasn't kidding with that warning, was I?!}




How do you view prosperity within the context of your faith?

Monday, April 14, 2014

darkness before light :: a passion week post

From where I sit I can see the light breaking open in the sky like an egg in a frying pan.

It's one of the things that gets me out of bed in the morning.
My alarm goes off early and I wince.
Then I smell the coffee freshly brewed and waiting...and I remember that the sun won't wait.  If I want to watch it paint the first moments of the day I have to make my way downstairs and to my desk for my front row seat.
And so I rise.
To watch it rise.
And these last days leading to Easter I keep thinking about the One who rose.

We call it Passion Week.
By 'passion' we don't mean an intense desire or enthusiasm for something 
or an outburst of strong emotion, as Webster defines.
We mean suffering.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

high fives and my messy beautiful

If you saw me high-fiving my friend Mary outside of preschool last week this is why.  Allow me to set the stage...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

first friday finds :: april 2014

{It's #firstfridayfinds time again and here's this month's unedited, 15 minutes worth of truth.  Please share yours at the bottom too!}

I had just finished scarfing down a bagel in my car when I read it.  {Sometimes when the kids aren't around I eat something that is not gluten-free...shhhh...don't tell}

I thought to myself - give him an inch and he takes a mile.
I give him a mustard seed and he moves a mountain.
I offer a quiet breath of a prayer and he writes big bold truths on my heart.
I sit in defiance and self-reliance and his love comes sweeping in to rescue me.

It was just another crazy busy day.  We all have them...despite the fact that I feed myself the lie that I am the CRAZIEST and BUSIEST person EVER.  {How's that for prideful?}

I had 15 minutes between finishing one appointment and the opening of the library {where I needed to swing by and pick up a book}.  I was literally thinking of what other errand or task I could squeeze into the 15 minutes so that I would not waste one. single. moment.
Crazy.
Busy.
Get my drift?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

when freedom brings fear


The heavy iron gates clanged shut behind him, separating him from the prison that had been his home for years.  The suit he wore gave him a distinguished look more befitting of him now that he was no longer a convicted felon.  Despite being an old man he looked clean and fresh but his eyes told another story.  He gripped the seat on the bus with white knuckles…even the muscles in his face were unable to soften.  And as we watch Brooks Hatlen's painful transition back into the world his words are a haunting reminder of the effect years of imprisonment can have on a person...

Dear Fellas – 
I can’t believe how fast things move on the outside...  
The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry...  
I wake up scared  and sometimes it takes me a while to remember where I am...
Maybe I should get me a gun and rob the Foodway so they would send me home...  
I’m tired of being afraid all the time...  
I've decided not to stay.

Friday, March 21, 2014

5 minute friday :: joy

I've never written a '5 minute Friday' post.  I read them on occasion.  I never write them.  Today...when I saw the prompt was JOY...well...I knew it deserved at least 5 minutes of my time.
Blindsided...
it means to be attacked when in a vulnerable position...
to be hit by something you never even saw coming.

Yesterday I was blindsided.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

big important things

This morning I had the luxury of an extra long shower minus the audience of little people with their faces pressed to the glass...
so I did some good solid thinking.
Do you know what I thought most about?
You.
And this blog.
You may, or may not, have noticed that I have not posted here in over a week.
That's unusual.

Friday, March 7, 2014

first friday finds :: march

Trial and Torture.

Sound like something you would like to read?
How about something you would like to live?