Archive for the ‘Troubles’ Tag

One Surprising Hope In Our Post U.S. Presidential Election 2016 Troubles!

hope

8 “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work. God’s Decree. 9 “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” – Isaiah 55:8,9 (The Msg)

No matter what outcome you expected in this year’s 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, and the troubles going along with it, you have a reason for surprising hope! However, in the grace of God (and by God, I mean the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!), you are going to have to bear with a little counterintuitive thinking and acting to see and experience it.

I cited the bible verse above as a reminder of this counterintuitive difference between God’s thinking and ours. It might also be helpful to remember that one definition for “counterintuitive” is “something that doesn’t seem likely to be true when assessed using intuition, common sense, or gut feelings.” – Wikipedia

Another word for counterintuitive is “unreasonable”. I like that word because it really hits at the heart of our wrestling with God in troubling times. His talk and approaches just don’t seem reasonable from our (often painful and woefully blind!) vantage points! Understatement! Hmpf!

However, let me try to point you to a counterintuitive but surprisingly hopeful way of receiving this relational God – Father, Son and Spirit, revealed in Jesus:

God is pleased to be hidden and found in our human troubles!!!

THIS IS a central point in understanding God’s Good News as Good News! Right in the middle of mankind’s troubles, and when it seems all is lost, God so loves the world and sends his only Son into it (John 3:16-17), to save and not condemn it. He sends himself, personally, into our troubles! The Father then sends the Spirit through the Son, into our troubles, that we might participate in his kind of self-giving love along with him (Acts 2:33)!

You see, God IS love (and unconditional love at that!), so the God-logic is simple really! God loves us, humanity, despite our sinful condition, and therefore, in order to love us where we’re at, he comes to us where we’re at – in our troubles!

That is why there is no need to fear troubles, ULTIMATELY; rather we should seek and expect to find God in even the thorniest situations! In Jesus, God Reveals that he comes to fallen humanity exactly where it is: in our places of brokenness, poverty, homelessness, racism, misogyny, criminality (he died as a criminal even though he wasn’t one!), weakness, bondage, demon-possession, over-taxation, foreign occupation, sickness, failed political systems, and even death! REALLY! God, in Jesus DIED with, like, and for us, remember? John 19:30.

From Genesis to Revelation, in the bible, the great Revelation is this Relational God Who is with us in every kind of trouble, meeting us there to redeem and restore us from it in the most counterintuitive way possible – being with us in and through the mess! Ha! This is one reason why my bible reading is so awesome! God encounters me there as THIS God in OUR TROUBLES! Our fallen intuition, common sense and guts simply can’t get us where God actually is – with and for us unconditionally, even in our troubles! Yes, God is good and not intimidated by our troubles in any way! He goes where Unconditional Love goes when it Loves Unconditionally! 🙂

We tend to run from this “holy” God, or picture him running from us, neither of which is true holiness as it pertains to God. THIS is holiness: God, the Holy One, doing what he ACTUALLY DOES, coming to us where we’re at to love us, and taking our troubles up into himself in Christ, healing us of them! For clarity, this love isn’t a warm and fuzzy substance apart from God, like warm jelly in a bowl, where everything “feels good”! No! God is himself this love! This means that love is the up-close and personal being of God, Father, Son and Spirit! It is the whole God Revealed in the person of Jesus, determined to judge and discern our troubles AS trouble, and getting rid of them (ouch and “suffering succotash” as Sylvester the cartoon cat would say! haha)

God judges and discerns us in this way for the sake of saving US, and growing us up to be and become all he has made of us in the humanity of Christ, eventually, without any troubles at all! Rev 21:4

Yes, If you want to find God these days, you’re going to have to be open to finding him right in the middle of the troubles in this world, even troubling elections and other insufferable ills! Not because God is evil or because he initiates our troubles, or because he’s naturally there and likes trouble – No! – BUT because we are his children in trouble and in need of him, and he is pleased to show up and be for us where we are at, by grace!

(Haven’t you noticed more people alert, and in prayer, and awakened to God at this election time when, to many, he also appears to be hiding? Ha! See! He’s both hidden AND found in troubles! Heehee)

Please remember that God is not ultimately found in things that are “going right” (even though He is found there too, being good and righteous), or “going wrong”. He is found in himself! He is found wherever he wants to be found and not where you want to find him! He is found by grace, and as grace, and not by works, morality, or the Republic, or the democracy, or wherever else you want to box him in (Except evil! God can’t be found as evil, or creator of evil, but only as the one who opposes it, makes it work on our behalf, and gets rid of it from the INSIDE out as he did in Jesus!)

“15 Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel.” – Isaiah 45:15

 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

– tjbrassell

*photo courtesy of testimoniesofhope.com

How Should You Respond, Properly, To Today’s Troubling Times?

Response in Troubled Times

And there is a proper response! It was proclaimed and lived by Jesus Christ as He stepped into the troubling events of this world in His day. And, through His Body, the Church, He continues to proclaim this same message:

“Re-Think-Act and Believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15 (And for immediate clarity, Mark has already written in Mark 1:1 that the Good News is a Person or, in his words, the “beginning of the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God…”

Yes, that is still the message of Jesus and His people to you, and everyone, in our world, right in the middle of our current and troubling events! Jesus is God’s basic and fundamental response to the political lies and insanity, murder of innocent victims, bombings, and human trafficking – God’s response to everything! He is the proper response because He is GOD’s response shared with us in our humanity to all sin, evil and rebellion within creation! It is the response of Him Who created all things and of the One in Whom we all live and move and have our being. The One in, and through, and by, and for Whom all things are created and sustained (as my brother Baxter Kruger likes to say!)

If you’ve already misheard and think this sounds too simple, or too unrealistic, or too cognitive to address problems compared to the “hands-on solutions” needed in our complex world, then you’ve already misheard what’s been stated, so let me make it a little plainer!

How could it be too simple when it has something to do with trusting the Relational God Revealed in Jesus?:

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.” – Romans 11:33 The Msg.

The Solution is simply stated, yes, but simple, NO! ONLY Jesus could, and can, and is, and will pull off helping you to trust Him that He really is your, OUR, only Good News in the face of all troubles!

How could this response be unrealistic when Jesus tells us that our response of peace and reconciliation with each other has been pulled off by and given to us by HIM, God Himself?! That HE has responded for us and acted in our place and on our behalf, in our fallen humanity, as our Good News????

How could this be too cognitive or something just “up in your head” when it clearly addresses the foremost way in which you receive and process troubling events – tossing, turning and dealing with them in your mind, right?! Isn’t it also addressing the problem behind most poor and evil events – NOT thinking along with Jesus about Who He is, and who He says our neighbors and we are in Him? He says we are all reconciled to Him and, in Him, to each other! Check it out:

1But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. –Ephesians 2

How could it be too cognitive when Jesus loved His Father, and commands us to do the same, with all of His heart, soul, MIND, and strength? A response from our whole humanity matters and is given to us from our Father, through Jesus and by the Spirit! Responding in Christ’s love to God and our neighbor:

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Luke 10:27

OF COURSE all of this means participating in some kind of real everyday, human action – to RETHINKACT in relationship! RE-THINK-ACTING in the Light of Who Jesus is as our Good News in flesh, which means:

1.) Your first and primary response to today’s troubles is Jesus Himself, Who has responded properly to His Father in word and deed, on humanity’s behalf, in the Spirit, and Who has “overcame the world” (today’s troubles!) as He puts it! Yes, you are reading me right, JESUS HIMSELF is your proper response to trouble, coming to you and to me freely and graciously, as a pure gift! God is with us and for us IN FLESH! Whew! Wow!

It’s the next few things that become more COSTLY to you because Jesus also shares Himself with us as the One Who “became poor that we might become rich” and Who said “whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves, pick up their cross daily, and follow Me”. Starting to see the cost yet??? Haha

Here are other costly things you can participate in with Jesus as a proper response to today’s troubles:

2.) Place your single-minded faith and trust in Jesus Christ, given to you as a gracious gift, and relate with Him in union and fellowship! Ask Him, personally, how you might respond to any given situation! He knows exactly what to do – but be prepared for plenty of mysterious surprises because His variety of responses to people in situations is as varied as there are people and situations to respond to!

The high cost of trusting Jesus is that you can no longer trust anyone or anything else, including yourself, like you trust Him! In the Light of His Lordship, you understand yourself to be a dependent creature whose entire outlook and motives apart from Him are now called into question and found lacking! If you could have responded properly to your troubles then there was no need for Him to come and do it! You can’t trust what things look like, feel like, or sound like – you can trust ONLY Him despite those things or outcomes! You no longer trust in your own ideas of independence and freedom, your own pride, smarts, things, race, nation, guns, policies, votes, gender, economic status, good works or anything else! You trust ONLY IN JESUS and identify ONLY in and with Him!

This means that despite your daily troubles, and even in the middle of them, you can, and should, cast all of your care upon Jesus for He cares for you! It is the reason so many of us pray to Jesus, and read the bible, and congregate together as His Church (believers) regularly – to meet Jesus there and have Him remind us of Who He is, and who we are in Him, and what He has accomplished and made of the word despite our sin, and the kind of good works He does in the middle of everyday troubles in flesh till He returns!

To conclude, this is both encouragement and a warning because, as Karl Barth has rightly stated: “No neutrality with God is possible. We [YOU] must choose between the true God and idolatry.”

And because God has been Revealed in Jesus, what He gives us as a response will look more like God the Trinity in character. More like self-giving than selfishness. More like other-centeredness than self-centeredness. More like self-sacrificing and forgiveness than living at the expense of others. More like being social and relational than being totally closed and hiding from others. As my friend Rodeen Williams wrote recently “Made in their image, genuine freedom is best realized and enjoyed in the consciousness of our union with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

As the Holy Spirit encounters you, WILL YOU RESPOND PROPERLY by receiving Jesus and this God Revealed in Him – this God Who has already received you? Will you “Re-Think-Act and Believe the Good News!”? Mark 1:15

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