Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Breakthrough Series

Stuck in a rut? Need a miracle? Ready for something MORE?

You need a Breakthrough. Join us at Crossroads for our new series, beginning September 18.

Every week we will see how breakthroughs in history mirror the way God breaks through to our hearts.

Pardon the Interruption, September 18
Our world is a closed system, except that God breaks in and shows us truth. His supreme breakthrough was coming to live on earth with us. As he breaks in, he reveals reality to us! See John 1:14.

A New Mind, September 25
Our thought patterns are twisted and corrupted, even though we don't realize it. God reveals our faulty thinking and helps us live in the truth. See Romans 12:2.

Better Lenses, October 2
We see reality through our own lenses. Everybody's view of the world is distorted, and we need God's perspective to see people as they truly are. See Acts 10:9-47.

Discipline, October 9
Some breakthroughs require effort over time. Persistence in spiritual discipline brings deep personal development. We don't always see it right away. But if we believe that discipline pays off, we can stick with it and find breakthroughs. See Proverbs 1:1-7.

New Challenges, October 16
Life is full of new challenges, and new challenges are opportunities for breakthrough. See 1 Timothy 1:3-7.

New Friends, October 23
It is easy to label groups of people, but if we get to know individuals, we can have a breakthrough of understanding. See Philemon 1-25.

New Reality, October 30
When circumstances radically change, we have to adapt. Our new way of handling reality can bring breakthrough. See Acts 1:12-14.

Hearing the Spirit, November 6
God leads his people through his Spirit, even today. Rather than groping in the dark, we can live with confidence and assurance, following the Spirit. Now that's a breakthrough! See Acts 8:26-29.

Being Childlike, November 13
Children see the world through eyes of wonder. Adults learn how to take things for granted. But the adult who breaks through the layers of cynicism and boredom can really live! See Matthew 18:3.

The Power of Beauty, November 20
Exposure to beauty actually changes us . . . for the better. God's beauty has supernatural power to transform us. See Psalm 27:4, 8.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

White Supremacy

Disillusionment is under-rated. It is good to have one’s illusions exposed. Many of our illusions about life stem from the lenses through which we see the world around us. From childhood we learn how to interpret the people and events we encounter. We notice how our parents and family respond to various situations. We note the way others treat us. We see how people receive our good and bad behavior. We shape our lenses accordingly, to help us know what to see and what to expect in our world.

With my set of lenses, I saw the world as a place of opportunity. The systems of society have always seemed neutral to me. I don’t expect to be treated with favor or resistance at the DMV, a department store, or a restaurant. I expect the workers at these places to do their jobs normally for all patrons—because that has generally been my experience.

My lenses are shaped by my experiences. It’s how I see the world.

But no two people have the same experiences. Our lenses are all shaped differently. For those who have experienced rejection or poor treatment in public places, the world feels potentially hostile. They don’t fit seamlessly into the system because of sex, skin color, hair color, accent, size, or shape. Those outward characteristics shape the way others perceive us, and probably how they treat us.

Those experiences shape our lenses. We expect a certain kind of response from others, and usually we see what we are looking for. I expect and find a neutral business environment. Others expect and find a biased environment. What I now realize is that the world is not nearly as neutral as I had believed.

It took the writings of Richard Rohr, another white male, to pull back the curtain and let me see my illusion. This has rocked my world.

When the horrific stories of racial tension increased recently, I could not sit idly by. I texted a black friend to invite him to lunch. Over the meal, I acknowledged that I now see that the world’s systems are designed by and for people like me: white men. I had never noticed that bias, because it had never stopped me. I fit perfectly through the system’s filter, so much so that I never knew it was there.

As I described for my friend my realization that there is a biased system, he said, “We call that white supremacy.” Oh wow.

Many call it “white privilege,” which seems much less harsh. But the term “white privilege” also fails to strike deeply enough in my soul. I can deny white privilege all day. “People don’t treat me that way because I’m white.” (How can I really know?) But white supremacy says, “Whites make the rules, set up the systems, and if you will just follow the (white) system, you will get along just fine. What is your problem?”

Forgive me for failing to propose sweeping systemic solutions here. I’m still reeling from my new corrected lenses. I’m trying to find my balance. I’m trying to see reality more from God’s perspective. Disillusionment may be good, but it’s not easy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Olympic Identity

Two American Olympians who won a silver medal for synchronized diving both acknowledged the Lord after competing. See the video here.

Many athletes thank God, along with coaches and parents. But David Boudia and Steele Johnson independently downplayed the significance of the Olympic medal. Each man said "my identity is in Christ." The medal is a great honor, but not necessary for their self-esteem.

With identities secure in Christ, the men were free to perform their best. They had nothing to prove. They could dive in peace.

So what is this "identity in Christ" stuff?

When we have right standing before God, nothing else really matters. Through a relationship with Jesus believers receive, as a gift, the righteousness of Jesus. It is not earned but received. We don't have to work for it.

Paul puts it this way in Romans 3:21-22: "But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known...This righteousness from God comes through faith in Christ Jesus to all who believe."

The believer's "identity in Christ," then, is that of perfect righteousness, given as a gift. It is "apart from the law," not earned by being good. It is received by faith.

I find it very hard to live from this identity in Christ. I am constantly striving to prove myself, trying to be good, trying to be productive. But when I experience deep in my soul the security of Jesus and his righteousness, I am at peace. I don't look for any silver medals or perfect dives, but I can truly do my best when I remember that I have nothing to prove. Jesus proved it all on the cross.