Pick Your Addiction

Purdue Pharmaceutical company developed and marketed a series of powerful opioids, using false claims, and deceptive and manipulative advertising to sell them to doctors and patients. Today, North Americans use over 80% of the opioids sold worldwide and the opioid crisis has exploded in the last few years.

I cannot believe there is more pain in North America than the rest of the world combined, but I believe it provides a statement to where we are as a culture and the spiritual reality it mirrors.

We were created for addiction.  We are designed to be addicted to our creator.  To long for His presence, to hunger after His voice and His Word.  To desire above all else to walk in His light and depend on His strength and grace.

If we are not exchanging our distress, pain, confusion, disillusion,  weariness, insecurity, you name the condition, with the peace, fullness, and grace of Jesus, we cannot help but turn to something else that not only numbs the pain, but steals the beautiful, intangible things received when dwelling in the throne room of God.

The alternatives the world markets come in countless forms and can be just as addictive, but like an opioid, do not lead to life and healing.

Westerners have an intense dislike for pain and its processes. The thing with opioids is they don’t fix the problem, they only mask the pain and the issue continues unchecked.

John 10:10 is so tantalizing, it is quoted often enough as to be so familiar it fails to truly reach us.

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I came that you may have life and have it more abundantly!” 

Culture has fed us line of BS when it comes to what life abundant looks like, telling us pain is to be avoided at all costs and consumables lead to happiness.

Jesus is not afraid of pain, nor is He unable to give us the grace we need to face difficult circumstances and come out better for the process.

Romans 8:28 says:

God works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew,  He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. 

Paul continues; we may go through tribulation, distress, persecution, disease – but none of them can separate us from the victorious love and abundant life in Jesus.

It is me turning to other coping mechanisms that separates myself from the Life God gives.

Surrendering to the Father’s gentle hand leads to life abundant – unadulterated by the numbing affects of dependance on something we were not made to depend on.

Purdue’s deceptive marketing netted only blood money;we truly have good news to share with a world in pain, and new life now and eternal treasure in sharing it!

Do you have coping habits that take you from the presence of Jesus?  Do you know some one in pain that you can love extravagantly like Jesus?

 

Be Gentle!

Friends came to visit the other day with four children, and I found myself saying “be gentle” a lot around Raphael and my instruments.  Most kids don’t ask to play my piano, they just begin banging away. What they don’t know, and likely wouldn’t care, is that my piano is an heirloom. It was custom hand carved in Ontario in 1901, has been fully restored and holds significant value to me because of who gave it to me.

This led to pondering what is really important as far as breakable things, so the next morning I looked up verses that deal with gentleness.  The first one was Philippians 4:4

Let you gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near.

In our individualistic expressionistic culture, gentleness is not something we hear about often, but it is something that sets a person remarkably apart.

The Bible tells us a gentle answer turns away wrath.  It is not human tendency to respond to wrath or anger with a gentle answer. David told me of an incident where he was taking significant verbal abuse from some one who had come to work for him.  Rather than returning heated words, he responded, asking;

“What is your name?”

Taken aback, the other stopped and asked; “What?”

“What is your name?”  David repeated.

In the midst of the angry tirade, David firmly extended dignity, offering a relationship to work from, rather than simply fighting around a problem and the situation resolved peaceably.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure and peace loving, it is always gentle…    (James 4:17)

As I thought about gentleness, Jesus showed me a picture through my heirloom piano of how He feels about His children.  Each is custom created and holds significant value to Him – far more value than the rarest instrument and He desires gentleness to mark my dealings with each one.

The broken vessels always seem to have the sharpest edges and must be handled the most gently.  I have come to realize it is the same with people.  I never cease to be amazed at the gentleness with which Jesus interacts with the broken, outcast and lost, flying in the face of culture’s disregard for those outside the circle.

If we are listening when interacting with people, we would hear Jesus say – “please be gentle – that person holds significant value to me.” He is near, waiting to pour gentle grace into my every encounter others if I will see with His eyes.

To be undergirded with gentleness does not mean to be walked on or to turn a blind eye to wrong, rather, it is an undercurrent, directed by wisdom and strength that sees beneath the surface of the masks we wear and says; “I see you, and I care about the person beneath the mask”

We are to be gentle when gentleness does not come naturally.  To be part of mending the brokenness we all carry in a way that reflects accurately, the One who cares the most.

 

 

Check Your Undergarments

You know that sinking feeling when you are dressing for a big day and upon opening your drawer, you realize you have no clean underwear?  I would far rather be stuck wearing dirty underwear than be caught in a mistruth or doing something that casts a shadow on the name of my Jesus.

So where are you taking this?  You may ask.  I have been thinking about the gritty day to day stuff that is the foundation of who I am.  My motives, my attitudes, my thought patterns. The Bible talks a fair bit about character as clothing and the importance of dressing right for life.  It determines how people see us, and how we navigate life.  How we act when everyone or no one is watching and the attitude in which we do even “all the right stuff.”

The definition of righteousness is:

Acting in accord with divine or moral law :  free from guilt or sin.

The thing is, I can’t be righteous on my own.  Its not about being “good enough” or even doing “all the right stuff.”  Its about identifying with and abiding in Jesus moment by moment, day by day.  Jesus made me righteous, and then I must live out my life in that righteousness.

Job, the one God tells Satan is blameless says this:

Everything I did was honest. Righteousness covered me like a robe, and I wore justice like a turban. (Job 29:14)

Isaiah prophesies about the Messiah – our role model saying:

He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment. (Isaiah 11:5)

I am learning that doing what is considered the “good Christian things” is empty and gets me nowhere if I don’t have the undergarments of truth and and the robes of righteousness as a foundation.

The catch is that I can’t don these crucial garments without abiding in the One who supplies them.  Jesus is the Truth and only in Him am I found righteous.  It doesn’t matter what others think or say, it only matters what He thinks and what He says.  I can only know what He thinks and says through knowing the Word of God and intimacy with Jesus through His Spirit.  Without a belt, one may well find themselves with their pants around their ankles, and without underwear… well you follow my drift.

People of integrity can be hard to find, and yet, it is the foundation of any healthy relationship.  It is also the basis we build our witness on.  Everything I do should be done fully clothed and with my underwear on whether it be a business deal, an interaction with a stranger, words I speak to my family or words spoken under my breath.

Have you been to the throne room yet today? Have you checked your undergarments lately?

 

But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)