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Showing posts from December, 2017

Relationships, Pain, and Isolation

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During a men's breakfast at church, a man visiting the US from Kenya pointed out a difference in social relationships in our country, compared to his homeland. He noticed the distance between people, the separation between lives. In relating this, he was not referring to today's chaotic world. He was talking about fellow Christians, who otherwise have more ideal connections than many in society.

A larger view of the social climate is more complicated still. Contemporary social relationships can be likened to living among clusters of islands. If each island were a person, while there exists limited connection with others, there is an unspoken separation of troubled waters. To chart a social voyage, the navigator must live up to a revolving door of different stipulations for each person. The interpersonal interactions we have are guided along a walk of carefully prepared eggshells. In our consequent isolation, we may well wonder, is there anyone who wants to know the real me? P…

Panic, Anxiety, and Fear: Finding Peace in Emotional Turmoil

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Life is full of adversity and difficulty. We may not realize how much extreme effort we are exerting, if anxiety, stress, and "freaking out" is our way of coping with circumstances. Somehow we feel the strain will affect the outcomes. Worried fretting is held to our chests as we agonize, without considering healthier, more objective ways of dealing with challenges. The energy produced, though harmful to our emotions and health, seem a valid way of trying to manage. It becomes part of handling things.

In contrast, when we come to God first in our need, when we lay our agitated hearts before Him, we confront life with truth. We cry out for the whirlwind to stop and for Him to be our peace. Help alone is not enough, however. As we give up the notion of self-sufficiency and trust in God in Christ Jesus to be our enabling and contentment, we become free. There is need for Him to equip and empower, not simply as a nice addition to our lives. This is begun by learning of Jesus. He…

The Problem of Evil

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The problem of evil has impacted mankind for thousands of years. Throughout history, a trail of destruction is found in its wake. Until our modern time, it was a given for us that it existed. What we are seeing in society now, particularly in the West, is a redefining of evil and morality. A major shift in thinking has taken place.

In terms of personal behavior, the term evil is no longer used. Such a view is considered too constricting for human expression. However, in one sense we are absorbed with the issue more than ever. It seems strange that on the one hand we want to remove this actuality and live as we please, but on the other we have become obsessed with it. It comes down to where our focus is.

In our day, evil is understood in terms of “the other”. We see offense in other people, other groups, other societies, other mindsets or views. We are quick to point out the other person as wrong. This is true in almost any way that exists of objectively or subjectively viewing others…

Holiday Blues

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For those having melancholy dispositions, enjoyable events can be accompanied by sadness. It seems for every up is a feeling of letdown. This is especially true after an experience of elation. It’s over already? That is all there is? The Holidays can heighten this experience.

Temporal endeavors cannot truly satisfy. Though we search for lasting contentment, we find it fleeting and elusive. Only God meets our deepest needs. In a world infused with our imperfection in even the best things, we can’t have Heaven now. The most pleasant circumstances will not fulfill complete joy. Echoes of emptiness haunt them, sometimes in the recesses of our minds, at other times bearing down on us.

Issues of loss, depression, or emotional instability can intensify turmoil yet more. What an inspiration we find in the Bible with the most transparent, raw experiences people can endure revealed. We need not put on a brave face before God or avoid Him because we struggle and feel unworthy of His attention. …

Searching for Validation

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The human heart longs for personal significance. As a result of the removal of meaning from our existence, we are restlessly searching for something to give us validation. It is a worthy pursuit to seek purpose, yet without the profound we are left with temporal matters which cannot fulfill the heart. We look to spouses, careers, our appearance, achieving notoriety, social circles, and all manner of things to give us a sense of fulfillment. Others bury inner longings with harmful behavior. There are a myriad of these, with lives ruined in its wake.

There is one thing perhaps more than any other that drives the need for acceptance. This is social media. Each day we present ourselves hoping someone out there will affirm our worth. There is nothing wrong with sharing, of course. In our emptiness it has become a highly charged altered reality where we are left lonely and unsatisfied. If we do no get feedback generated at a constant pace or meet resistance to our world view, we wonder if …

The Christ Child

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At Christmastime we are surrounded by images and tradition. They can become so familiar they fade into a warm and fuzzy background to the events we enjoy. Commonplace narratives can dim in their meaning to us, without conscious reflection.

To the uncommitted, the baby Jesus is a vague, comfortable notion of religiosity and familial feeling. A Christmas card Jesus makes no demands of us. If anyone today, in the larger secularized world, even cares about the Christ, they prefer a benign controllable symbol.

There is nothing wrong with pleasant and agreeable perceptions of Christmas. It is a wonderful time to enjoy. The reality of the birth of Jesus Christ, however, is in stark contrast to the simple ideas that barely capture our attention.

The sublime reality of the Incarnation is no mere Christmas card. The very Son of God was born into history–true, living, breathing history. He came into our world, fully human yet divine. God sent His Son to the humblest circumstance, to simple peop…

Dependence

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In our can-do culture, dependence has a negative connotation. We pride ourselves on self-reliance. Fueled by ambitious energy, we are driven by what we know we can achieve. For problems out of reach, anxiety besets us. Do we worry because we feel inadequate or because everything must be up to us?

Our modern mindset does not want to admit need of God. Demands are made, with rejection of Him if we do not get what we wish. Jesus is added as a dash of religion, appended as a last resort clause to a life lived devoted to ourselves. At the same time depression, anxiety, and emotional disorders are more prevalent than ever. Lack of dependence on God has created an incredible amount of emptiness, while what seems to us constricting is freeing and healing.

When we look to almighty God, illusions of our adequacy are surrendered. Since God is holy and we are not, nothing we can do will better us. God is not looking to give a little help, He seeks to entirely redeem us. Fruitless effort impedes r…