Lent – Approaching , the “suffering.”

cross in silhuetee

Why is the passion of Christ so named?

These days everything, we are told requires “passion”, from watching or playing football, at work, in relationships, when selling, in our lives in general. We are informed that we need it to succeed, to reach our goals, to be fulfilled. The lack of it is often regarded as a fault.

Truth be told, however we may profess to be “passionate” about any or all of these things, we do not constantly live our lives in such a place, rather it is peaks and troughs, highs and lows.

This use of the word “passion” when set as the essential catalyst for so much sets us up for a fall, as everything has to come from us.

The problem with that, is anything created and reliant on us and our world is ultimately fallible and inconsistent. However “Passionate” we are we will always reach a compromise, a result of our good and bad days, our conflicting desires whether on our own or as part of a team.

Christ’s passion however, was nothing like this, his passion comes from the Latin “passio”, which means, simply, “suffering”.

That is actually what we are approaching, the event of Christ suffering a terrible torture for us.
He did so on our behalf. He did this so that he could “become” sin enabling us to come before god as righteous as we can be.
His suffering was perfect, the gateway for our salvation.

The Greek Josephus, and the Roman historian Tacitus who recorded the event in independent documents say that they were suprised this suffering inflicted by Pilate and the establishment, and more that the subsequent persecution of the Jewish sect of Christians did not “snuff the idea out” . We know today that despite the persecution that existed and still exists Christianity continues to grow due to the man and his many miracles (that was the ancient chroniclers explanation at the time).

This victory over so much from such humble beginnings, from such lowly people, would not and could have happened if the catalyst had been the solely result of our inconsistent and fallible work. However passionate the early Christians clearly were they were as human as us. They had the same weaknesses, the same errant ways. However passionate they may have been they could not have been the foundation of so much alone.

We know that we were not left as orphans and the holy spirit called the early Christians and calls people to this very day!

So although they had passion without gods help we would not be here today. They had a mission to make the church and christs message heard and understood by a world that knew him not.

Our “passion” this lent must be, to try make his suffering worthwhile, and to be more passionate about the gift he gave us. So that his passion, his suffering continues to bear fruit.

The definition of Grace is a gift given that is undeserved, that the recipient of the gift did nothing to deserve. Christ gift was and is delivered by grace to all of us.

This gift means that all his children should to continue to bemuse and befuddle the many who would wish his message of love and resurrection from the death of sin to simply “fade away” as Tacitus expected. This level of gift entitles him to demand the highest efforts from us. It legitimizes his demand that everyone should strive to reach the door he opened for us all.

We should love God with all our heart and soul as he requested, the same god who he allowed us to come before.
We should love our neighbour as ourselves as that is SO clearly what the world needs now.
We should try and bare and share the fruits of his suffering, his “passio”, and his passion for us.

His love, this ultimate act of grace should be the catalyst for us to ask him further into our lives so that by his grace we can change and prioritise our lives making the top of the list, the things that actually matter.

As holy week approaches, that should be our goal.
That Takes passion.

Lent Day 26 The Test

frank-clark-quote testing test time
So I suppose it had to happen. Since my beginnings as a christian, nothing really challenged my faith. If you have read my blog so far you will see the various discoveries that lent has given me. However with this week came the first test.

First my ears (The perennial source of trials and tribulations) sent a few obstacles down and then work has been as challenging as can be. Changes raining down from all directions brought my stress levels to an all time peak.

I prayed with the words “your will not mine”, in them.

Suprising myself I found that I meant it.

This gives him the latitude to show you his direction, and when you are following HIS path the peace he shares comes with it.

As much as humility is our touchpoint, I do feel pleased that when the test came, rather than getting angry I simply recognized it as him changing my direction, and moving me back to the path he has set.

Also as much as I was confused and uncertain, I knew it was in his hands and that whatever came, it would be for the overall betterment of his plan.

My wife saw my lack of clear thinking and talked me down from the little tree I had climbed up. The idea’s fitted in I saw with his plan, and felt right. From a point of confusion, to clarity, from nowhere to go, to a range of options.

The Prayer this morning has been “Thank You” to him and to Mrs T.

The future still has question marks, but today its being explored instead of feared, and from rudderless to knowing he is at the wheel.

These guys say it SO much better than me..

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/hillsongunited/oceanswherefeetmayfail.html

Lent at the Halfway mark – What has it done for you?

half way

So have you made it half way through lent with your trials intact? I must admit I haven’t, the odd look at facebook, and one or two days have whizzed by with hectic work schedules followed by a brain dead dinner and sleep. So the odd day has seen some pretty poor prayer, and one day even got missed.

Thankfully he knows me better than I know myself, and seems to have still made this lent way more special than I ever expected. My days have been filled with thoughts on my faith, extra prayer has led me to a feeling of closeness I was starting to miss.

Hearing others speak has given me new perspectives on my understanding of his word, how far I have come or better to say how far he has brought me.

I have also been still and felt him, and prayed for life direction and felt sure I was following his will.
I have been able to see myself before my journey, and seen myself now and been given clear perspective on how far I have to go.

Our god has shown me a lot in this first twenty days, and I still have the same trepidation on what is about to come

Lets finish the first half with a little prayer…

Lord, please bring all your people into the lesson that is lent.
Please show us new ideas and new ways of being closer to you.
Please break old habits that build walls in our soul.
Thank you for my journey of lent such as it is.
Use your trials to bring us to knowledge you require us to know
Open our ears, hearts and souls until they are calling you every day
In Jesus name bring us closer again
amen

Lent Day 19 – How many “doubt” god?

DoubtFactor
I am going to try and tackle this without sounding proud. Please whoever reads this be convinced that my faith was given by grace. Something given by grace means it was given to someone who did and does nothing to deserve it. So taken in that context nobody has any room for pride.

I think the world has degree’s of doubt in God, ranging from the atheist through to the Christian. The atheist denies his existence, agnostics may have some shape or shapes of many gods, and then the Christian not only that god exists, but that god gave us Christ as an intermediary and he is the only way we can come to the father.

For me when I have spoken to people and I find atheists easiest to speak to. There is no grey and everybody knows the starting point. Agnostics, or those that think Christ is a teacher also are quite easy to talk too.

But its the doubting christian I find hardest to relate too. When I came to Jesus he washed all my doubt away. But you see and meet so many who instead of working from a point of acceptance try to understand his message from a point of doubt. In my early days when I asked obvious questions about the bible I was told “trust the author” so many struggle to do so?

This simply cannot work. Not long term, as where “faith” should fill the void, the “world” does. Nothing in the world has any answers, nothing in the world fills the void. Some ignore it (atheists), Some say some scientist will fill it, some use many gods or pseudo gods to build a patchwork quilt.

But the christian doubter has the hardest job, because they get given so many glimpses of the truth, but they have to tie it into there semi worldly, semi christian multi threaded view, that will forever be full of loose ends and contradictions, never settled, never finished.

Now some might say that this is how we should be, always searching. I would agree, but when your starting point has so many starting points, from so many silo solutions you can never really move forward. In fact I don’t think you can hit the starting line.

My Christianity is as multi threaded, as far from any finish as any can be. However when the starting point is that he exists, I am where I am through grace, and anything I found out has been revealed, that only the meek can hope to come to him that allows true progress moving towards becoming a christian.

In a sales cycle it is explained to us that at any stage you can when deciding to move through the buying process “skip” a step. However at some point, maybe much much later any step missed will be harder and longer and will have to be taken.

Out journey through faith is like that, unless you fully accept him, his father and the teachings of the bible (which by the way is not the same as some “literal” view) as correct, then however far you may come, you will have to cycle back and resolve those issues or walk away. Until the day that you accept all of his basic message, and more importantly his ultimate wisdom, involvement, truth and inerrant truth then one day you will be faced with a decision.

I am the way, the truth, and the life.
Nobody comes to the father except through me.

He may have many rooms, he may have prepared them for you, but until you accept him as the landlord, and obey his rules, then you don’t get the keys.

In fact you can’t even find the house.

My feeling and prayer for all those Christians with unresolved basic issues with god, Christ, resurrection, allowing evil, etc. The hurdles we all have to face, is to face them. Ask him to help you face them.

No matter how many messages he shows you that you will have to overcome, no matter how many ideas you may grasp, each doubt twists the prism through which you understand the truths you have to encounter.

Go back to basics, go face the thing you doubt, ask him to come into your life and show you how to overcome your doubt so that you can become closer.

Do that whenever the voice of the world makes you doubt, and he will gather his flock and bring you back.

So to answer the question I posed.

How many doubt god?

Many more than we think.

Lent Day 16 The more you think you are getting it right, the more wrong you are.

pride

Sometimes after I pray or when I look back on where I have come from, I feel something close to pride. Pride for being the better person he made me, pride for making the time to pray, pride for being better at obeying him.

This shows the trap we must avoid, simply doing right does not make us righteous.

Pride in basic Christianity? In fact at that precise moment.
That is when I go the most wrong, the furthest from his path.

On social media you see people so certain they have the faith , the correct message, they have the way forward.

This very certainty is evidence of their error.

I see people making up their theories on how god interacts, how he is a god of chance, how he cant do this etc. They question his wisdom, his action,inaction, his righteousness etc.

The common thread is pride. The greatest sin, the hardest to avoid. 

Here is why it is such

Pride says, I know best, when he knows best.
How many times do you hear the latest version of society dictating the way we should act, think, feel? Actually our ordinance comes from higher than the politically correct. The Pharisees were certain they were correct. The had built ivory towers of respect from their fellow man.

Pride stops you listening to your fellow man
One of the most common failures of listening is having the answer before the speaker has finished.
That means we think our answer is best. Our pride means we stop listening. Our heart closes before we hear the full story. Our heart closes because “we would never do that”.

Pride is a massive stumbling block to forgiveness
I would never do that, I am above, I see you as wrong, lesser, lower, more of a sinner than me.
The platform for holding on to the lead weight of anger. Once you lose the ability to see yourself as anything but the biggest sinner around, all of those that sin against you seem less bad than you?

Pride enables relativism,
This disease has been around since day one. Paul wrote to the collosians for the same reason. The church in collosi had moved to Gnosticism, which was christian like in some facile ways, but the body could do what it wanted. While we thought ourselves still pure. We know best, we can chop off the bits he asks of us and still make the narrow gate.

Pride Judges God.
When we see anger, bitterness, brutality we judge god, we ask him why?
Some lessen faith, some call him weak, or bad, or uncaring, absent, careless.
Only a thing with pride as big as a mountain would judge the thing that created us.

So in this period of lent, when we come to him, we must see ourselves as the sinners we are, listened to through grace, and love. Borne with patience, giving back only a very small part of all he gave to us.
Open only to his voice, and without pride.

How do I know this post is even HALF right? It leans as best it can on the only source we have for showing how to come to god justified, and as righteous as we can be.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Poor means humble, those that see themselves and know themselves to be poor in spirit, without pride, without question, without knowledge, but saved by grace.

Then we may learn, just a little more of how fallen we are.