Thursday, April 15, 2010

Relationships - Live With Them or Without Them?

There is a saying, "Can't live with them and you can't live without them." Men & Women can say this about each other can't they? In reality, we can easily say that about all relationships. As I walk in faith God is continually showing me the idols of my heart.
I am an only child and from a young age relationship/friendships have always been very important to me. I vividly remember as a young girl that I would put friends first before anything else in my life.
When relationships are good and enjoyable we can say, "can't live without them!" But when they are not going so good is when we say, "can't live with them!" I began reading Paul David Tripp's book, "Relationship - A Mess Worth Making", several weeks ago when I could easily say that I could live with them. As I began reading God was faithful to stir my pot of life and my relationships to show me where my relationships were in the priority list of life. I'm pretty sure we can all say that in all our relationships we will have some degree of disappointments. Tripp writes, " It is clear to you that no relationship ever delivers what you dreamt it could. Your fantasy collides with reality, and reality bites!" Tripp takes the old cliche' and says it this way, "Some of our deepest and most painful hurts have been in relationships. There are times when we wish we could live alone and other times when we are glad we don't."

What I am learning is that I put too much stock in my earthly relationships to dictate my daily emotions or temperature of my attitude. Tripp says, "in the messiness of relationships is that our hearts are revealed, our weaknesses are exposed, and we start coming to the end of ourselves. Only when this happens do we reach out for the help God alone can provide. Weak and needy people finding their hope in Christ's grace are what mark a mature relationship." Tripp continues with, "the very thing we would naturally seek to avoid is what God has chosen to use to make us more like HIM."

This is the part of the book that hit me to the core....

"Each of us is tempted to make relationships the end rather than the means. The primary relationship Adam and Eve were intended to enjoy was their relationship with God. This vertical communion with God would provide the foundation for the horizontal community they were to have with each other. Everything God made pointed Adam and Eve to the primacy of their relationship with Him. All of creation was to function as an arrow pointing to God. But in our sin we tend to treat people and creation as more important. The very things God created to reveal His glory become instead the glory we desire. This is where we see, with C.S. Lewis, that our desires are too weak, not too strong. We settle for the relationships when they were meant to point us to the perfect relational satisfaction found only with God. The irony is that when we reverse the order and elevate creation above Creator, we destroy the relationships God intended - and would have enabled - us to enjoy."

A few years back I renewed my purpose and told God that He was enough. Since than He has been faithful and merciful with me to use the circumstances in my life to show me and purify me so that I can truthfully and honestly say with a pure heart say, "Lord you are enough!"
I know the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 73 knew exactly what I meant and felt...

Psalm 73: 25-26
"Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Are your relationships there to serve you? Or to serve HIM? May we all be able to say like the Psalmist, "besides GOD, I desire nothing on earth."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Which Thief Are You?

The last few days I've been reflecting on the words that Jesus spoke just before he died, "It is Finished!" In that reflection I realize and came across the conversation with the two thieves that are being crucified with Him.
Luke 23: 33-43
"When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, 'Father, forgive them; for they don not know what they are doing.' And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, 'He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.' The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, 'If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!' Now there was also an inscription above Him, "This IS THE KING OF THE JEWS."
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other answered, and rebuking him said, 'Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!' And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'"

I don't know exactly when or how but the older I get I realize how much less its me in my faith and more God. I realize how much of a sinner I am and how much I don't deserve the gift of salvation which drives me to my knees in humility and make me thank God for the price He paid on the cross for my sins so that I may have eternal life. In other gospels it depicts that both criminals are hurling abuses at Christ. Its commentated that the one began with abuse and after time realized who he was being crucified next to... "God". I have had years to come to this realization when one of the thieves came to this conclusion within hours to realize his depravity and his need for a Saviour.

The two thieves are examples for us of two different types of people in the world. The unbeliever who is blind to their their sin. Who hurls accusations at God with anger of why their life has turned out the way it has and for God to take them out of their dreadful situation ("Save yourself and us!")even though it was a consequence of their sinful life.

Than we have the other person who realizes that when they compare their life next to God's that they are a sinner in need of a Saviour and with only the sacrifice of the Saviour will they inherit eternal life.

Being that today is Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified, may we be reflective as we go into the Easter weekend that it wouldn't be just a time of eating chocolate bunnies and coloring hard boiled eggs BUT it would be a time of reflection of what Christ did for you so that He can say to you, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Which thief are you?