shedding the skin.

“Father, forgive me for being an angry person.”

“Lord, I’m sorry that I’m addicted to porn.”

“God, I wish I wasn’t so resentful, I wish I could forgive them.”

 

I’m starting to wonder if maybe that’s the wrong way to repent.

 

The main reason I think that is because we are repenting of an identity that is not true of a child of God – when Jesus begins to inhabit us, He gives us His nature, He gives us His identity as a son/daughter of God.

Those things we want to repent of – they aren’t how God sees us. God doesn’t see you as His angry kid, or as His lustful kid, or as His dishonest kid, or as His irresponsible kid, or His sexually immoral kid, or as His greedy kid, or His selfish kid…

 

He just sees you as His.

 

God doesn’t regard us according to the flesh – that is, He doesn’t look at us the way we look at ourselves – and He invites us to look at ourselves and Him the way He looks at us and at Himself (2 Corinthians 5:16.)

 

We wear our sin like a garment when we say things like, “I’m an angry person,” or, “I’m a porn addict,” or, “I’m a liar,” or, “I’m selfish.” That is, we put that forward as our identity instead of realizing that these are problems we may have, but not problems that define us.

 

God is a God Who clothes us. Consider the following:

“to grant those who mourn in Zion – to give them…the garment of praise for a faint spirit..” (Isaiah 61:3)

“my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation…” (Isaiah 61:10)

“When I passed by again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of My garment over you and covered your nakedness…” (Ezekiel 16:8)

 

See, when God intervenes, He intervenes to cover those things we think we are seen as. They may still exist – for all have sinned and most of us still sin – but they are not our defining characteristic.

 

Let us, by the grace of God, shed our sinful skin and be covered by His garments of righteousness.

 

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”

 

 

the hopeful irony.

It is in one of Christianity’s greatest ironies that one of its greatest hopes emerges. The irony is that naturally, we are incapable of living the Christian life – a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc – without God’s help. The things that God asks us to do are utterly impossible without the assistance of God. The demanded is impossible without the Demander.

 

The hope, however, is that everything that God commands us to do, He does enable us to do. He tells us to love our neighbor, but it is He who plants love in our heart. He demands we forgive those who offend us, but we do so because He forgave us first, us, whose sin sent His beloved Son to the cross.

 

Ephesians 2:10 says that we are the handiwork of God, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Philippians 2:13 then tells us that is is God who works in us, both to will and to work. In other words, the only way we can want what God wants is if God gives us that desire, and the only way we can act out what God wants is if God works in us to work out what He asks.

 

It is for this reason that daily we must approach the throne of grace, not with many words to state our (un)deserving case, but with a humble prayer on our lips:

 

Father, grant me the power of the

Holy Spirit, that I may live like 

Jesus, love like Him, act like Him, 

think like Him, react like Him, interpret

the actions of the world like Him – that

I may be like Him.

i hear, now that i may listen [//journal]

i would need more than two hands to count the number of times i’ve screwed up in the last 24 hours – either i’ve lost my temper, looked at something i shouldn’t have, wasted time, didn’t say hello to someone, said the wrong thing at work, failed to listen to someone who needed to talk to me, thought something prideful, You name it, I’ve done it.

 

the worst part is this: i hear You in the back of my head as it’s all going on. i’m glad for that. at one point i didn’t even do that. at one point i did whatever i wanted without a sense that i should do something different – now i know better. but i don’t necessarily do better.

 

i hear You saying, “Son, you know what to do. Son, do you really want that? Son, that’s not who you are.

 

God, my Father and Source – i hear You, but i’m asking You for the grace to listen. after all – it is You who works in me, both to will and to work (philipp. 2:13) and unless You build the house, i’m striving in vain (Ps. 127:1) and apart from You, i am capable of nothing (John 15:5.)

 

i can’t even listen to You, let alone hear You, without Your help. so – would You help? make me aware of the things in my heart that block me from acting on what You say in those moments that make the difference, the ones that can make me or break me, the ones that make the difference between bearing fruit and not bearing fruit. 

 

i hear You, now – that i may listen.

 

throw no stones.

Last week, Gary Johnson (Libertarian candidate for President of the United States) was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. They began the interview with some formalities and questions about who he was taking the most votes from, and then suddenly, rapidly, without any segue whatsoever, asked: “What would you do, if you were elected, about Aleppo?”

“And what is Aleppo?” Johnson asked.

“You’re kidding,” replied Mike Barnicle.

“No.”

“Aleppo is in Syria. It’s the epicenter of the refugee crisis…”

Johnson went on to talk about what he thought about the situation in Syria and what he would do it. Unfortunately, the damage seemed to have already been done. Social media pundits and critics went nuts on the man, and he participated in multiple interviews shortly after in which he was asked if he thought the gaff was disqualifying to be POTUS. (Quick aside: How is it that with all of the negatives that come with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a brief moment of forgetfulness is enough to disqualify a third party candidate?!)

The world, we were reminded that way, is chock-full of stone-throwers. People who can’t see past their own self-righteousness to give a little grace and understanding to a guy who had a moment of forgetfulness.

Now, I try not to talk about politics a lot on the blog (I did it once and don’t really enjoy it, given the track record of my blog and how that was out of place and out of context) so I’m not trying to get into it on here – but I do like to talk about it in person. I chewed on the events of this story for a while and talked to a few different people, asking if they’d heard what happened earlier in the day. My question to all of them was, “do you know what Aleppo is?” I got about two “yes”es, and a whole lot more “no”s.

 

What I realized was this: a lot of people don’t know what’s going on in Syria. I sure as heck didn’t know the extent of it. I realized, through Gary Johnson, that I didn’t know the half of the situation there. I didn’t know the names of major cities on Syria, didn’t know the ins and outs and who was on whose side, whose side the United States are on, etc.

 

But not a lot of people think that way. Republican and Democrat, media pundit and layman alike used this as an opportunity to say, “oh, how embarrassing, a guy who’s struggling to get into the debates doesn’t know what Aleppo is. His campaign is done.” Instead of choosing to forgive a moment of ignorance, forgetfulness, lack of knowledge, brain fart, whatever you want to call it – people politicized it. Because most people know that. Because real patriots know that. Because real candidates know that. Because real people who care know that.

 

Right?

 

I have a big problem with how America handled that. But I can think of more examples than the Gary Johnson/Aleppo situation.

 

I live in Lexington, KY, home of the Kentucky Wildcats. Now, we’re much more well-known for our basketball program than our football program. But for now, football is the only thing in season. On the first weekend, Kentucky led Southern Mississippi 35-17 at halftime. The game ended 44-35…to Southern Miss. It got ugly. Enter “Mark Stoops” on Twitter and you can see all of the things people are saying about him (He’s the head coach of Kentucky football.) Social media was rife with comments about how disgraceful it was, how the team should be embarrassed, people wondering how the players can show their faces around Lexington, and fans talking about how ashamed they were to be a Kentucky fan.

I get being emotional about sports, but I question how far we should go with our reaction to it. Why is it suddenly a moral or a justice issue? Why do we use words like “embarrassing,” “disgraceful,” “abysmal, or “ashamed?” Those are words critics use – those are not words that laymen have the right to use. I wonder how many of social media detractors have been in the shoes of those they’re putting down (and it doesn’t just have to be social media; in the case of the Kentucky game there was plenty of Monday-morning criticism.) How many people lambasting Kentucky football players have suited up for a college team before?

How many of us who criticize our government have served in office? How many of us who make fun of a singer for hitting a wrong note during a live performance have done that?

“But they’re professionals,” you say. “They’re getting paid to do this, they should do it well.”

Right, agreed. But imagine if your name trended on Twitter every time you made a mistake. Imagine if CNN talked about me non-stop for a whole day for writing an incoherent, poorly-flowing blog. Imagine if a photo of bad latte art I made got retweeted and sent all over the internet with captions about how ashamed I should be that I didn’t get the perfect rosetta. Imagine if you got pelted on the Huffington Post for being in a bad mood at your job one day and giving bad service.

 

Maybe our argument and the logic we use to criticize others (ie. “they’re professionals, they should do better”) we should use on ourselves first. If we all started with ourselves, the world would be a lot better off.

 

Self-righteousness is the number one disease of our generation (perpetuated, I opine, by social media.) At every turn, we get chances for self-promotion. In our ever-connected world, we get the chance to choose the news outlets we take in – whether we’re going to consume news with a liberal spin or a conservative spin. We get a chance to saturate ourselves with just our own interests and live in our own little bubbles, and sometimes they’re bubbles of important issues, leading us to lambast others who don’t live in that bubble. What do you do about someone who isn’t up to date with what’s happening in Syria, to borrow the earlier example? Are guilt tactics the most effective way to get someone to care? Self-promotion and bashing others aren’t going to help Syrian refugees. Humbling yourself, learning, giving to relief funds, and creating conversations with other people, are the only ways to heal the situation.

 

And really, that’s the only way to heal our world. Maybe we’ll have the world that everyone dreams of – a world in which we’re unified, we love one another, and we look out for one another – once we humble ourselves and learn to put down our stones.

Announcement – book ahead

It’s been a few weeks since the last post – that’s part inspiration, part time, part finishing up some stuff at work, part taking-a-weekend-off-in-Michigan.

 

A few weeks ago, I wrote about changing roles at work to take some time to chase other pursuits. I’ve wanted to sing, act, and write more. What I’m realizing, however, is that I can’t do them all at once, and so I’ve evaluated which makes the most sense to chase first. Writing won.

 

I’ve toyed around with the idea of writing a book for a while – fiction was never an option because I don’t think my imagination is that expansive, and non-fiction just required me to decide a topic to write about – and now I’ve decided I’ll go for it.

 

It seems like it should be a bigger deal than it is to say, “I’m writing a book.” And it kind of is a big deal, but it’s mostly not. So far, it’s a bit like writing papers in college. You know you have to squeeze it in to your schedule at some point, so you consider late nights, early mornings, and camping out at a coffee shop. It’ll eventually be one of each.

 

That said, I’m writing a book. The book is going to be about honesty. It’s going to explore the motivations and consequences of lying vs telling the truth, and it’s ultimately going to cast a vision of a world in which everyone was honest about what they want, what they’ve done, who they think they are, who they want to be, what they’re good at and what they’re not; what they want to do and what they don’t want to do, what they like and what they don’t.

 

It won’t be definitive, it probably won’t even be thorough. It’ll be full of biases and my own opinions, it’ll probably make sweeping overgeneralizations, but it’ll be honest.

 

Details such as when and how are still to come.

 

Thanks for letting me share my excitement.