Friday, November 4, 2011

Roots Are Powerful (Fake It 'Till You Make It Pt. 3)

There are things that we cannot hastily let go of because we are deeply rooted in them.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned about the Bible is the importance of learning the lessons from the Bible before you need the lessons from the Bible (yes I know… that sentence is a mess. It would be way better if you could hear me articulate it!)

What I mean by this is that the Bible is full of teachings and concepts that are practical to life. However many of them are hard to apply and understand, particularly in the very moments we need them. Thus it is necessary to learn them ahead of time. Let’s take an example…

James 1:2-4 is the cliché verse to quote to someone who is going through a rough patch. The account of Job is told time after time to those who are in the midst of devastation. This is meant to encourage, but really… it doesn’t very much. Not in the midst of trouble, anyways. Not unless the individual is already rooted in these truths. Without a prior belief and understanding of these scriptures, people are more than likely going to take this teaching as an insult and find it nothing more than frustrating. They are then likely to dismiss it altogether.

Approach the couple who just miscarried a child with Jeremiah 29:11…

Approach the family who’s oldest son is constantly getting in trouble with the law with Proverbs 22:6…

Approach the woman who just found out her husband has been having an affair with Romans 8:28…

Approach the man who lost his job and has no idea how to break it to his wife with Philippians 4:19…

Approach the college student who just had her heart broken by the man she thought she would marry with Psalm 37:4…

How they receive these scriptures will depend on their roots. If they are already rooted in them, there is room for comfort and encouragement. They will be able to trust God despite the circumstances they find their selves in. If there are no roots, however, they will find insult and discouragement. They will lose trust in God due to their circumstances.

You and I will react the same way.

That is why it is important to grow deep roots during the good times. The soil is more fertile. When trials come (and yes, they will come) and hard times find their way to our door, it is those roots that will keep us grounded.

And this is what it means to go through the motions; to rely on our roots even when our hearts are far from them.

If we are rooted in God’s word, we will not be quick to abandon him… even if our hearts feel far from him.

Roots are powerful.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Matter At Hand (Fake It 'Till You Make It Pt. 2)

Do you frustrate yourself with the motions? I feel like a poser when I do that. Relying on muscle memory to ‘do what’s right’ doesn’t feel right.’

Of course it’s frustrating!

Extremely frustrating!

To have something that once brought you joy become stagnant; that is frustrating!

To have something that once brought you purpose seem meaningless; that is frustrating!

To have something that was once fulfilling turn into a burden; that is frustrating!

So what do we do? We can stop and move on (or away) to something else, or we can go through the motions. Going through the motions gets a bad rap in our culture because we have had it instilled in us that we are supposed to “keep it real,” that we are to live in (and for) the moment; to live for instant gratification. Thus it comes very naturally to us to abandon what we have once accepted and jump toward something new, or different in the hopes of being instantly fulfilled again.

And honestly… that can often work for a while, but before you know it, dissatisfaction returns and it's time to look for the next new thing again (and again, and again… and yes, again.)

So should we go through the motions? Going through the motions isn’t all that bad. In fact everyone does it. Who hasn’t spent a season going through the motions at work? Everyone has days, even if they love their job, when they go through the motions. They do what needs to be done, and they do it as well as they can even if their heart is battling against it. What about relationships? That marriage? Even the happiest of married couples have approached moments where they found that their hearts were not fully engaged. Yet to survive, they go through the motions.

Why? Because generally there is a lot invested in these things. There is too much at stake. With the job, it’s an income, a sense of purpose, or a matter of pride. With relationships it can be a matter of family survival, emotional stability, or financial security. Whatever the reason, we do not lightly abandon these (and many other) things. For most people, they cannot be abandoned even if the desire to jump ship exists. There are things that we cannot hastily let go of because we are deeply rooted in them.

Read that last sentence again because it is key to the whole point of this series.

A Conversation (Fake It 'Till You Make It Part 1)

This happened months ago. Church had just wrapped up. I just finished leading the fine of people of Christ’s Fellowship in worship. Then I got a text message from an old friend whom I had recently reconnected with in the last few months.

What do you do when you become jaded about church? When you just can't bring yourself to go through the motions to satisfy others?

Gosh. Who, after a few years of following Jesus, hasn’t asked that same question in one way or another? Who hasn’t been frustrated, jaded, confused, hurt, or even lost in the midst of being found.

And the truth, which I told my friend, is that I have been through recent bouts of feeling jaded myself (another story for another day perhaps); but that I continue to go through the motions. However, I don’t go through them for anyone else. I do it for myself. Even when I don’t want to, I try to do the things I know are right. Sometimes I fail, but heck, I failed when I wasn’t jaded as well. That’s when the pivotal question that sparked this blog series came about…

Do you frustrate yourself with the motions? I feel like a poser when I do that. Relying on muscle memory to ‘do what’s right’ doesn’t feel right.’