Thursday, March 2, 2017

Revenge Fantasies

Revenge fantasies, are they healthy?  There is a modern trend in Psychology that is saying, “yes fantasying about revenge is not only normal but healthy for a person.”  The idea is that as a victim you have no voice and that by being given the opportunity to live out a “fantasy of revenge” you gain strength and can be heard.  These fantasies are lived out in a controlled setting and not acted upon but just fantasized. 

I am not a psychologist or even a counselor of sorts.  So, I am not commenting on my opinion about such a system, but I do recognize in my life that I have relished such quiet times where I could plot a comeuppance for someone who has wronged me.  A boss, co-worker, or just the nagging satellite salesman at the store.  I understand and have partaken in the release that is felt through such fantasies and can understand the findings that I have read. 

But I don’t see this as a teaching of Jesus.  Paul, maybe, when he talks about being kind to your enemies as this heap burning coals on one’s head, but I think there could even be a historical debate about that language.  Today I want to focus on what Jesus says about the matter.  In Matthews words in Chapter 5:38-48 Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile and to love your enemy.  Jesus says life is not fantasying about revenge but to reaching out in love to your enemies. 

Many of us, myself included having looked at this from purely our American roots of “can do attitude” and have felt that Jesus must be a passivist.  Well per dictonary.com the definition of passive is “not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of emotion or feeling.”  In other words a disengage of the one person to the actions of another.  But Jesus says to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, make them your friend.  What Jesus is saying is not passive but engaging the other person just from the standpoint of love, not anger. 

Jesus is not looking for us to lay down when beaten but to stand back up and pray for those that are beating you to be saved.  Jesus teachings were radical in the first century, and it is a radical thought today as well.  While modern psychology says, it’s okay to be a victim and fantasy about revenge Jesus says no it is not okay.  Jesus teaches to love those oppressing us.  When you love those, who try to victimize you remove their power.  Oppressors need you to be a victim, but if you refuse to act like one they can no longer oppress you, this is the radical teachings of Jesus. 

Jesus is looking for superheroes.  Jesus wants superheroes that can practice radical teachings.  The kind of hero that can stand for injustice without playing the victim card.  The kind that says I can love you even though you are trying to hurt me.  I can love you even though we do not agree.  I can love because I have been loved by the one who is love.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Atonement

Atonement.  If you were to look this word up the dictionary might say something to the effect, that is the paying for a wrong or a reconciliation of a wrong doing.  For the Christian, it is just that and so much more.  It is the reconnecting with our God that loves us through the blood of His son Jesus the Christ. 
There are some that do not understand this word, atonement, but for me, it holds a sacred meaning.  It means so much more than a payment made for my wrong.  To me, atonement means I can sit at eh foot of life’s biggest, meanest, most ferocious obstacles and have peace in my heart.   The peace is a sense of calm that tells me no matter how much pain is coming; the pain does not own me.  I belong to another.  I belong to someone who Loves me despite my shortcomings.  I am Lovable as well as Loved, and nothing this world can throw at me can take that away from me.

Sometimes I forget all of this and get caught up in the thorn in my life that has etched a rash into my soul.  I step back and realize the etching is because I have allowed it and I remember the Love I first felt.  The Grace and Mercy are flowing over me. Then I find joy, peace and rest at the foot of life’s obstacles. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Lord is my Righteousness

It has been a long time since my last post.  A lot of things have happened in my life, and that is all I am going to say about that.

Today I was looking at Jeremiah 23:6.  "The Lord is our righteousness."  That sounds strange.  "The Lord is Robert Brock's righteousness."  Putting your name in only makes it more so.  Try it, put your name in the blank.  "The Lord is _________ righteousness."  Uncomfortable? Odd? Maybe just awkward?

I struggle with seeing myself as anything close to perfect.  When I do surveys, I rarely give a perfect score because no one is perfect and there is always room for improvement especially in myself.  But that is not what God says here.  

If Jesus is my righteousness, then He is what perfects me.  I don't feel perfect.  I don't act perfectly.  I often find myself comparing myself to others that I feel are better than myself.  I see a father with his kids playing at the park, and I think to myself 'what a horrible parent I must be for not doing that with my children.' I hear other preacher's sermons, and I think 'WOW! If I could only preach like that.'  I hear about how healthy others are and what great shape they are in and think 'I am so lazy.'

 I don't feel perfect when I compare myself to others.  But I guess that is the point.  I am not perfect when compared to others; I am perfect because of Jesus and what he has done, not me.  It is not about me, it is, however, about Him and what He does for me.  Jesus makes me whole again. Jesus makes me perfect, so I don't have to compare myself to others.  Jesus takes away all of that anxiety, stress, and worry by making me perfect.  


Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What God Has Made is Good



Reading through Acts 11:1-18 today, a section of scripture I have read many times before, I realized I never really read it.  I only looked to it for justification for eating what food I wanted.  As I read and made some notes to myself I kept coming up with new questions.  Questions like:
Do I use this scripture correctly in my interactions with others?
Do I focus on being able to eat whatever I want and not on being led by the Holy Spirit?
Do I use it to justify myself or to uphold what God has established?
I really don/t like these challenging questions.  I would much rather think that I have it all figured out and just go forward from there.  I like the idea that I do everything right but the reality is that I rarely do anything perfectly.  I took apart these questions in my own heart and began to digest the bitter pill that they are for me.  I am praying about them and trying to answer them in my own way for my own better understanding.  So far this is what I understand or don’t understand.
I try very hard to use all scripture in the proper context and to look at it from the beginning to the end as a complete thought not a patch work of ideas stuck together.  However, at this I do fail from time to time and fall into what is easy and not go the distance to make a complete understanding of what I have read. 
I do focus this set of scripture toward eating whatever I want even though that is not what it is teaching at all.  I hardly even recognized the Holy Spirit was so involved in this section of scripture before and that God might be saying something more than what is made by God is clean.
I don’t think I have ever used it to justify God only to uphold my own justification.  I am not sure that I ever looked at it as anything other than a justification for eating food.
As I pull this apart in my own life and pray about it I ask you to do the same.  Is there a verse or section of verses that you use for your own justification and not the upholding of who God is?  I challenge you to look for that scripture which you use the most and see if you are using it not only in context but to hold up God, raising Jesus up for His glory?  I pray that we can all do this for our betterment and closer walk to our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is Faith that Important?

As Christians we throw around verses like 2Cor.5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight” hap hazardously to show that we must have faith.  Do we really believe this, do we practice it?  The bible uses the word faith 465 times (NIV).  Just how important is this faith that we talk about.  It is so important that it can keep some out and let others in to heaven. 
We see examples of this in our reading this week.  Rahab is a prostitute and a non Israelite.  Achan was born into the brother hood and raised to know and understand the Laws given by Moses.  You have an outsider and an insider if there ever was one.  The Lord saves Rahab and lets her and her family in because of her faith while Achan gets sent to the chopping block because of his.  This upper story that God is sharing with us gets repeated throughout the bible.
Mathew 8 verse 5 we see the faith of a centurion and Jesus talks about how he has not seen that much faith in all of Israel.  In fact Jesus goes on to talk about how some in the family (Israelites) would be thrown out and others who were not in the family would be saved.  This is serious business to God, but is it to us?
From time to time I find myself sitting back and complaining about the trials I have to face.  In retro spec I should be thanking God for the blessing of the trials he allows me to face.  I said that correctly, I am blessed with trials not burdened.  It is through these trials that I get to relay on my faith in God.  He, like any father wants his children to trust him.  It is in these low points in my life that I get to trust him fully.  I see a path that is clouded and dark with fear.  He sees an opportunity to show me his love, strength, and courage.  If I will let him he will carry me through the tribulation and with one motion of his hand still the storms of life about me.  It is love.
Love the feeling follows Love the action.  By being faithful to God I give him the opportunity to show his great love for me by protecting, guiding, and helping me through.  It is after the storm that the air is the clearest because we then feel the love.  Is faith important?  You bet it is and we had best get focused on it before we find ourselves on the outside looking in.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From the Desert to the Mountain

My trip from the Desert to the mountain was very different than that of Moses’ yet it had some distinct similarities.  First off I was not given Quail and Manna to eat every day, though I would not have minded the Quail for sure.  I also did not have to get water from a rock, I got to use a moving truck and it took more like a year not 40 years.  Our trips were similar in a couple of ways though.  One I went from the desert to the mountain top and it was a great leap of faith for my family and I to do so. 

When we are faced with challenges people often say, “I don’t have that kind of faith.”  I am not a faith walker like you, like Moses, I cannot just trust God to do everything, I have to be involved.   When Moses got involved, he got in trouble.  When I got involved, I got in trouble.  Moses was allowed to stand on the mountain top and see the valley I was allowed to stand on the mountain top and move on into the valley.  It was neither an easy nor a short journey. 

I worked too long for a roofing company that I should not have.   I felt, I needed the security of a paycheck.   It was not until I gave up the idea that a paycheck was security and adopted the belief that God is the only security I need.  That is when God went to work in my life and began putting before me the challenges that would forever change my life to work for Him.  We can’t see Gods plan for us when we keep looking through the glasses of the world.  Those glasses filter out God. 
Moses did not have these filters but the Israelites did.  This is why they were continually pushed and challenged to remove these calluses from their eyes and only trust in God.  The Israelites continually are concerned with things of the world; food, water, land, images of God, and rules.  Are we any different today?  We are constantly worried about how food affects us, is the water I drink the best, we build fences around our land, and images of God…just pick one, American Idol, CSI, any TV show, Movie, actors, vehicles, houses, hobbies come to mind.  We constantly look for images of gods to distract us from Him.  Finally we come to rules.  We all search out rules to define who we are, who we think you are, who belongs, who does not belong.  There are some out there who search out rules only to break them and some who are so bent on keeping them to the very last letter that they miss out on God’s greatest gift. 

We live by faith every day.  Sometimes it is faith in others and when they fail, we get hurt.  Sometimes it is faith in ourselves and when we fail, we hit rock bottom.  When we put that faith in God and really begin to listen to him and trust what he is doing in our lives we can make it to the mountain.  We can see something that others cannot.  We can see the promise of a better future.   A future in a land of milk and honey.  What must it have been like, for Moses to look down on that valley?  I can tell you from experience.  It is Joy, Peace, Jubilation, Tears, Passion, Energy, and Rest all at the same time.  To know that you have listened and you are allowing Him to run your life is such a relief.  From the desert to the mountain is a hard, long journey but the payoff in the end is priceless.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Shattered to Pieces

When I was in the second grade my teacher, Mrs. Weidemeyer, had a treasure box that students could get a prize from.   In order to get a prize you had to earn a 100% on a spelling test on Wednesday.  The box was full of toys, candy, trinkets, stickers, small books, pencils and all sorts of eye candy for little kids.  Ohh how I longed for the day I could get a prize.

One day in early spring my time had come.  I studied very hard and got the 100% needed.  On Friday while all the other kids were taking the test again I got to go through the box.  I wanted the perfect item so I searched and searched feeling like Indiana Jones looking for the lost ark never giving up even in the face of great peril.  Finally I found that perfect item.  A Charms Blow Pop, watermelon flavor.

I carefully took my prize and hid it in my desk.  All day long I remember peaking at it and thinking how sweet it was going to taste on my way home.  I could hardly wait for the end of school that Friday. 

When the bell rang I ran across the playground, which had to be 100 yards more or less, but felt like 3 miles.  Arriving at the Methodist Church across the street I could now open my prize and partake of it.  I began sucking on the pop dreaming about the gum that waited in the middle.  Wanting to savior every last grain of sugary goodness I did not take a bite. 
Half way to my house my neighbor Elvis asked if he could have a bite.  WHAT?  I thought are you crazy, my prized sucker, and you want a bite.  I told him no.  Elvis being a year or two older than me and a much bigger kid proceeded to manipulate and make fun of me then he pulled the sucker out of my mouth and threw it onto the asphalt shattering it to pieces. 

A fight ensued and I got my lunch handed to me until a women came out and broke it up and took me home safely.  My prize was gone and irreplaceable.  Elvis was forced, by his mom, to come over and apologize and even replace my sucker but none of that mattered.  My sucker was gone and could not be fixed.  I felt a hole grow inside of me.  I was unable to forgive my friend and neighbor…I was broken.

The good news is that we are all broken in one way or another but it is in that brokenness that God reaches out to us and puts us back together.  He loves us, seeks us, and has made us to love him.  We chose to turn from this love and from following him, and from having a relationship but he never turns from us.  He just sweeps up the pieces and makes us whole again.  The story of God’s creation is one about me…about you…about all of us and how, He our Father, seeks out our broken, shattered lives and says it is alright, you can be whole again.