Tuesday, April 16, 2019 – Holy Week

It took David a long while to become curious about his own heart and ways. A lot of fighting and death, infidelity, lying and murder. Still he seemed darkly content to keep it all tucked away. Then along came a friend who knew the truth. With caution, he told David a story about a poor man with a cherished little lamb. One day, a rich neighbor had company, and rather than taking one from his own flock, he took the poor man’s treasured lamb and killed it. David was furious and judged that rich man worthy of death. Nathan then said David, “you are that man” (2 Samuel 12).

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!  Psalm 139:23-24

How much pain must we inflict and endure before we become curious about our own hearts? How much inner turmoil and relational tumult before we say – God, I’m curious about my heart? What’s going on in me? How am I hurting myself, others and you? Show me, change me, lead me to a better way – your way.  It took David, a man anointed by God as King and rich beyond measure by today’s standards, a long time before he saw how dark, hidden and selfish his heart had become.

I resonate with David. I spent 40 years with little curiosity of my own heart. I gathered knowledge and wealth and even came to Christ and worshipped Him – but my willingness to explore my own heart was anemic. In hindsight, I can see that I was fearful. Fearful of what I’d find.  Fearful of what I imagined I might lose. Fearful of knowing myself and being known to others. I was sure rejection would come if I explored my heart and let it be known. My fears blocked me from a deeper knowing of self and God. But a painful event demanded my curiosity; it moved me toward exploration and a deeper relationship with God. The love, acceptance, communion and joy I desperately wanted began flowing to me.

King David finally opened up through Nathan’s subtly piercing truth. He became curious and trusted God to search him and lead him in a way of everlasting life. That is a way of beauty, satisfaction, joy, love and deep, deep fellowship with God.

I am learning to engage in what I call compassionate curiosity – that is to see myself and others with love and a desire to know. It is as if you and I are works of art to be fondly appreciated. Not because we are perfect — We are broken. We are messy. We are fearful and sometimes hidden behind falseness. But we are also beautiful works in progress, works of art hidden behind years of dust and neglect. We become more beautiful, even glorious, the more we invite God’s gaze and risk Him drawing us out of hiding.

What if this Holy week you welcomed His gaze, invited His search and risked being compassionately curious about yourself and others? It may seem very risky, but as David experienced there is much to lose if we don’t and tremendous gain if we do.  Will you take the risk to pray David’s prayer, be curious and invite God to unveil His art?


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Are you busy? Why? Sometimes my busyness is the result of multiple opportunities to make an impact. When I am busy in a healthy way, I sense a peaceful fulfillment from using God’s gifts in me to make a difference. I sense His presence and pleasure. And at the end of those days, I rest well. That’s a healthy busy.

But busyness can be unhealthy and detrimental, too. Remember the story of the storm?

A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. He (Jesus) was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die? ”

He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still! ” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith? ” Mark 4:37-40

Sometimes my busyness helps me hide. Busyness keeps me from facing my fears, leaning into my deep desires and living faithfully in Christ. At times, busyness is a tool employed to avoid contemplating the state of our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Jesus knew how to rest and be busy. He practiced the art of trusting in the Father— whether feeding thousands after a full day teaching or resting amidst a storm. His heart and mind were convinced of the Father’s purpose and care for Him.

The disciples in this story are busy bailing, fearfully and frantically avoiding death — so they think. Without a minute’s hesitation for contemplation, they fitfully wake Jesus from his sleep and accuse him of a lack of care. Busy bodies blaming Jesus.

On one level it seems prudent, logical and necessary to wake up Jesus – help us bail dude! But Jesus doesn’t commend their sense of urgency and busyness; He says their fearful actions indicate a lack of faith. Had they taken even a moment to consider who was in the boat? Had they taken so much as a minute to look at their fear and ask ‘what’s really going on within me right now?’ No. And Jesus said that is faithless.

Busyness (that they clearly justified), and their reactionary response to their circumstances, had blocked them from contemplating the deeper matters before them. Who is in my boat? What is it I fear? Why? What is the deep and holy longing I truly desire?

These are hard questions, and busyness offers a dodge. But they are essential questions we must ask ourselves. In answering them, we are hopefully led to more self-awareness, growth in faith, and most importantly knowing the Man in our boat — Jesus.

I Can’t Tolerate … ME.

I Can’t Tolerate … ME.

What do you struggle to tolerate? Is it slow drivers abusing the fast lane? Shoppers abusing the 10 item or less line? Lactose? Gluten? Politicians abusing power? Hollywood elites abusing people? There’s intolerance everywhere. But what about you, do you tolerate you? Sometimes I don’t tolerate me.

Intolerance of self further damages our humanity. Intolerance of our bodies, our faces, our stories, our past, and our brokenness is hurtful. We are only human and that means we have limitations and brokenness. It’s part of our human condition, but it’s often a part we struggle to accept or tolerate. Intolerance of our true humanity impacts how we show up in life.

Let’s back up to explain. Our spiritual ancestors, Adam and Eve, abused the power and freedom they had in God’s garden (Genesis 3). They chose to turn from him and snatch the forbidden fruit. Every one of us has followed suit. They started a crazy train of personal intolerance that leads us into into fear and falseness, like it did them.

Their intolerance was their unwillingness to accept that they had turned away from God. Instead, they pointed fingers at one another and God. They wouldn’t tolerate the reality of their brokenness and accept personal responsibility for a fractured relationship with God. So Adam blames Eve and God, and Eve plays the victim to a serpent. Unwilling to own their sin, they hide behind masks of falseness.

The masks they wore were born of fear. They feared the consequence of owning their sin. They feared standing in the light before God. They feared his response. So, they hid from him rather than standing in the light and saying, ‘Father, here we are, we blew it big time.’

The truth is we all blow it. When we pursue our deepest longings in ungodly ways, we blow it. Adam and Eve tried to fix it, to make a wrong right, by covering themselves in a lie. The lie was born of fear. They put on masks attempting to fool God and each other. The mask of victim and the mask of blamer were lies – they were false ways of pursing a re-connection to God. It failed miserably and the disconnect grew deeper.

We all have masks, and they do us no good. I have the mask of a performer, among others. It’s the false part of me trying to measure up – for me, you and God. It’s driven by the fear that the real me is not enough. It’s fueled by the fear that if you know the real me, my sin, my suffering, my limitations, you will reject me. You see the fear is you won’t tolerate the real me. And deep within I already don’t tolerate me.

My intolerance of my own broken humanity, self rejection, coupled with the imagination of others rejection, prompts the mask of a performer. The performers mask covers the fear of rejection, and both conceal the true self longing to be loved and welcomed.

There are lots of masks such as the people pleaser, judge, cynic, know-it-all, recluse, joker, stoic and hundreds more. There are endless false ways to attempt to cope with our brokenness. The only way to truly be free is to tolerate ourselves. To own our brokenness before God and others.

The true self appears when we shake off our fear and the lies it believes, stand in the light, and accept the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. To tolerate myself begs that I trust that Jesus truly holds me, covers me and secures me in love. His covering alone makes me tolerable, totally acceptable, completely welcome to our heavenly Father. Jesus reconciles us to God such that we need not fear, nor hide in falseness, from Him, one another or ourselves

The true self becomes buried behind layers of fear and falseness. Sometimes the intolerance feels so right, so normal, that we don’t even know the false layers exist, but they do. The remedy is the love of Christ. A love that tolerates the true me, the true you, because we have been remade, reconciled and redeemed by the power of His blood.

Jesus breaks the chains of intolerance, casts off the fear, stripes away the mask and welcomes us to the light. I’m working on tolerating me, because Jesus already has.