Why Was I Made This Way? (For His Love)

As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

I’ve been reading through the book of John once again, and this small text from chapter 9 always jumps out at me. Being born with cerebral palsy, the question always came out of my mouth” why did God make me this way. A step further, and we see that people that don’t even believe in God ask this question as well.

A soft answer to the question from various people is “God made you special” or “you’re this way for a reason”. The second answer, has more explanation to the question. In verse three, Jesus says that it was neither the man who sinned, or his parents. But the man was born blind that that works of glory of God might be displayed through him. Admittedly, in the early stages of my life, this kind of answer would be something that I’d blow off as BS.

However, when my very being understood how much God loved me, even in spite of having cerebral palsy. It was only then that the shame began to melt away from my life. I began to love all the scars on my body from surgeries, I began to love my right hand, which does not have full dexterity.

It truly breaks my heart to see others like myself, wrestle with the same self- hatred that I did for my life. And at times it still pops up in my mind, which is why it is of deep importance to fixate on the love of God daily. The scars that we hate, the hand that we wish were different, are the same scars and hands are the very same ones that God loves so deeply.

Getting to this point, is not an easy venture. It really never ends until we see Christ face to face in eternity. You will stumble, and wrestle with different thoughts and temptations daily. Some days the sun will shine brighter, and sometimes the darkness will seem as though it has sealed any light from coming in.

Once again, if we allow ourselves to go into strict training, in dwelling on Gods mad love for us. We then will understand that his love will hold us through in an all tribulation in life. If you have never thought about Gods love, and much he loves you. I encourage you to do so today, it doesn’t have to be some super religious experience. All you have to do is talk to him, be honest, tell him that you are tired of living as you have been, that you need his forgiveness and grace and make you new again from the inside out.

I promise you that he will do that tenfold for you, he will love you in ways you have never imagined.       

A soft answer to the question from various people is “God made you special” or “you’re this way for a reason”. The second answer, has more explanation to the question. In verse three, Jesus says that it was neither the man who sinned, or his parents. But the man was born blind that that works of glory of God might be displayed through him. Admittedly, in the early stages of my life, this kind of answer would be something that I’d blow off as BS.

However, when my very being understood how much God loved me, even in spite of having cerebral palsy. It was only then that the shame began to melt away from my life. I began to love all the scars on my body from surgeries, I began to love my right hand, which does not have full dexterity.

It truly breaks my heart to see others like myself, wrestle with the same self- hatred that I did for my life. And at times it still pops up in my mind, which is why it is of deep importance to fixate on the love of God daily. The scars that we hate, the hand that we wish were different, are the same scars and hands are the very same ones that God loves so deeply.

Getting to this point, is not an easy venture. It really never ends until we see Christ face to face in eternity. You will stumble, and wrestle with different thoughts and temptations daily. Some days the sun will shine brighter, and sometimes the darkness will seem as though it has sealed any light from coming in.

Once again, if we allow ourselves to go into strict training, in dwelling on Gods mad love for us. We then will understand that his love will hold us through in an all tribulation in life. If you have never thought about Gods love, and much he loves you. I encourage you to do so today, it doesn’t have to be some super religious experience. All you have to do is talk to him, be honest, tell him that you are tired of living as you have been, that you need his forgiveness and grace and make you new again from the inside out.

I promise you that he will do that tenfold for you, he will love you in ways you have never imagined.

      

Reflections On Psalm 1:4-6

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

In Psalm 1:4-6 the psalmist David switches back to speaking about what it will be like for the wicked who do not follow God. His words ae not very PC according to our current cultural standards. Nor would they be seen as loving or all inclusive. However, I am going to argue that the words of David are more loving than many of us are willing to see or admit. In our current Christian climate, we desire for everything to be relevant and cool, a lot of what we know as the gospel or good news of God hardly offends anyone anymore. It seems like some pastors would rather be cool and be liked rather than preaching a sobering message. Now, myself included, I have spent a lot of time writing about the mad love of God, and how much God loves you and that it doesn’t matter how many times you sin, you can run to him for forgiveness. That is very real and true in my own life, and it’s something that I want to be real and true in the lives of others.

            However, even though God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. He is also just, which then means there will be a day, where people who have not placed their faith in God, will stand in account. But it will not be the same judgement that Christians go through, which is what I believe he is getting at in the first part of verse five. They will be like a chaff blown away by the wind, he says in verse four. Again, this can be seen by many as unloving, cruel and whatever other words you wanted to interject.

But if God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and if it is his kindness that leads us to repentance. That must also mean that he gives us humans, countless chances to acknowledge him as savior and king. Countless. To me, simply waking up in the morning and seeing the beauty of nature is enough for me. Paul talks about this very concept in Romans 1, of course its much deeper of an issue than that, but that’s maybe for another time. All I’m trying to say, is that if a person at the very core of who they are, doesn’t want God (and God knows that) it only makes sense that  God would give them what is actually desired. Be assured though, God does not get off on doing this, it grieves him and it should grieve us Christians as well. It should cause us to want to share the gospel with a broken and lost world. In verse six, having the understanding that the lord watches over his sons and daughters, we should only live in that in response to the amazing and gracious gift that he has given. Which is the ability to be called beloved sons and daughters. Once again, this is not because we are amazing, but because he is. This should cause us to live sober, and embrace his amazing grace. Whilst remember who we once were without him. And also be willing to share him with others.      

Stop Saying Your Broken

Growing up in my faith, it was very common to hear fellow believers, exclaim that they were a broken person, after all it makes sense, within the the framing of the Christian faith. Is the idea the sin a broken and corrupted everything within the human existence.

A pastor I once listened said that Christians are image bearers of God, and are like a mirror image of Christ. But sin has broken the mirror inside us that reflects christ. Hence why Christ had to come and die, to repair what was broken in us.

Again, it all makes sense. At least to me, and if you’re a follower of Christ. But I don’t believe that it was it was the healthiest of narratives to believe after becoming a Christian via the power of the holy spirit. I believe that most of us that have the name of Christ on our hearts, have forgotten that we have the holy spirit inside us. (1 Corinthians 12:13- Eph 1:13-14)

God put the spirit inside of us. Shouldn’t that do something to the psyche of a Christian? Absolutely!

God also gave us spiritual armor and a sword to fight back with, Ehp 6. Again, that should tell you something.

Once again, I think there is nothing good that comes from a fellow Christian that simply believes that they are weak and broken person, waiting for Christ to come and put them back together. Negative. Absolutely not! Outside of Gods grace and love, yes we are weak and broken people left to our own stubborn and tired ways.

But when the holy spirit invades your whole being, you have the mind of Christ, you have been made a new creation and have been enlisted in the army of God. Because we have the spirit, because we have been made a new creation and because we have been enlisted in the army of God.

Guess what, God calls us to go set other hostages free, he calls us to go on the attack against sin. That doesn’t seem like a broken person to me. Some many of us walk around with our heads down and shoulders slouched, thinking and believing that we may never have victory in our lives. In no way shape or form is that how the father wants us to live our lives. If anything living like that is like living out a lie from the pit of hell.

Your past has been forgiven. Any sit that you will ever commit. Past, present or future has been forgiven. That is every reason to hold your head up, to stand up straight with your shoulders back. It is every reason to achieve a sense of mastery over the self, in the grace of God.

So, my fellow believer. Stop saying your broken, rip that narrative up. Yes you may struggle and stumble at times, but that isn’t who you are. Remember what God has done for you, remember who he has made you to be. Hold your head up and stand up straight.

The Key To Paradise

I believe that one of the “hard” things of the Christian faith, is that if we are not careful things can become lost in translation. We can read the same things over and over in our bibles, without having what we read move us or change us. I’m no different, I struggle to pray as I should, and though my bible reading is disciplined. It can seem very robotic, as though I only do things out of “religious duty”

We all know the story when Christ is on the cross, with two people on each side of him. If you don’t know of it, I encourage you to read Luke 23:26-44. Again, I have read this passage quite a bit over the span of my faith journey, and it sadly doesn’t move me sometimes or nothing jumps out at me. The story kept coming to memory, so I opened my bible with the thought in my mind

“Okay Lord, what are you saying to me?”

As I was reading, it came to my attention that there were two different types of hearts: On one hand, there is the heart of stone, the first criminal almost has a mocking tone of voice and posture of heart. “Your Jesus right? So why not get yourself off this piece of wood and save us!?” (My translation). If I’m not careful, this can be me too, I can have a horrible attitude about my life and faith as well. In which case, I have to bring myself in Gods presence, seek forgiveness for my hard heart and allow him to soften my heart over again.

I love the words of Ezekiel 36:26:

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone[a] and give you a heart of flesh.

In my observation, this is what happens to the second man hanging beside Jesus, something happens inside of his own heart to invoke a different response. He says “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same condemnation ? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom .” And he (Jesus) said to him “Truly, I say to you. today you will be with me in paradise.”

Again, I’ve read this before, this really isn’t anything new to me per say, but what I noticed, is that there is so much going on between the second man and Jesus. I don’t know much at all about this mans life, his past or anything. But I think it’s safe to assume, that he knew deep down he made a mess of his life, wasn’t proud of himself at all and knew that there wasn’t much at all that he could do to merit the grace of God.

I believe that that is the best place a person can be, because when we are to proud, full of pride then there really is no way we can see the grace of God, can we? No we can’t. And our hearts cannot ever really soften, unless the spirit of God breaks through with a holy sledge hammer.

The way Christ responds to this man, completely blows my mind, Jesus doesn’t lead this man in a prayer, tells him to repent or anything of the sort. The man only cries out from his heart, which is in a way a form of repentance and asking for forgiveness. And Christ accepts him willfully. The man knows, that if he is to enter paradise with Christ, it has everything to do with the goodness of Christ and zero to do with himself.

This, my friends, should set us free! Why? Because it’s no longer about us, we know longer have to slave and white knuckle our way into Christs love. We can rest in the grace and mercy of Christ, and breath with great joy because it’s all about the finished work of Christ for us.

Trust me, if you feel like God is done with you, or wants nothing to do with you, you’re mistaken. He just wants you. All of you. While you are still alive, there is still time to know the grace and goodness of God. All you have to do is cry out to him.

Don’t get bitter-Get Better! The Annoying Truth.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: Don’t get bitter getter better, if you’ve found it to be slightly annoying, that is more than okay. However, it’s been coming to my mind the last few days, and as annoying as it can be. I believe that the phrase or quote has truth to it.

First, bitterness is nothing more than carrying around excess emotional, mental and even spiritual weight inside us. It robs us of joy, fun, sleep, makes us cranky and not fun to be around. For many of us, we have had relationships go wrong, been screwed over in some ways or saw someone we don’t like get the upper hand in life so to speak.

It drives you nuts I know, especially with social media, it’s easy to see the lives of someone we don’t like all happy, acting as though everything is fine. Meanwhile, we’re still pissed that they hurt us, and rightfully so. I’m not trying to make smallness to anyones pain.

Over the last year, I have had a few people screw me over in various ways, and you know what? It hurts and it pisses me, and somedays I would like to give them a piece of my mind. But here’s the thing, they probably don’t care and aren’t even giving it a thought.

So what I left with? What are you left with?

Two options: Stay where were at: Bitter, angry, pissed off, hurt and wanting to smacking someone or a group of people silly. Or… Or, we can let it go, for the better quality of life. Letting go of the hurt, anger and frustration. This then, doesn’t mean that you justify what a person did, it doesn’t even mean you forget it. But it does mean accepting the harsh reality, that the person that is most stunted in forward progress is YOU and ME.

I’ll say it again, most people don’t care that you’re hurt, angry or pissed off. They mostly only care about themselves. Unless, unless a person comes to you and is truly remorseful, then the context can be a lot different. So at the end of day, we are stuck with ourselves.

Get better: As I said above, we can learn to gradually let go of the wrongs done to us, for the improvement of ourselves. We can ponder any mistakes that we could have made, and learn to improve upon them. We can apply discipline in our lives, in the name of setting boundaries, so that we don’t allow others to hurt us or take advantage us whatever it is, ever again.

You and me, we only get one shot as this earthly life. So why not spend it on the relentless pursuit of getter better in every single area of our lives. Not being weighed down by past experiences? We soar greater in life, when we have less to weigh us down.

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Arguing Toward Peace (Why Jordan Peterson is Right).

Some days ago, I watched a video of Dr. Jordan Peterson on the Dr. Oz show, Dr. Peterson was talking to a married couple who were on the brink of divorce. The wife had the papers all ready to go, but she had not signed them yet.

Link here: Dr. Jodan Peterson saves a marriage 

The wife had said that she didn’t go through wife signing the papers yet, for the soul purpose of there being hope still. Which I applaud and even find admirable. Dr. Peterson said a lot of good things in the three minute clip, but the one thing I found to be absolute gold was when he uttered the words:

Argue Toward Peace

Argue toward peace… Which is something we don’t do as Americans, why? Because we all want to be right, we all want to hold onto grudges and resent and not forgive and move for the better. Now most certainly, there’re times when it is right to walk away from a relationship and even family, if it is completely toxic and no parties want to meet in the middle.

Arguing toward peace, requires a few things

One: Letting go of your ego, meaning that one stops thinking about only about what they want. And why their right, actually hearing the other side. This can even be said in light of our political climate as well!  Who would have thunk? Once again I know it can be difficult to control our emotions when we are bitter, frustrated and angry. Lord knows, that I suck at this myself.

Its easy for me to blow and raise my voice, and even harder for me to step away and breath for a moment. Yet, that is what we must learn to do more and better. Scripture informs us that fruit of the spirit is:

Love

Joy

Peace

Forbearance

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

And-self control.

Furthermore, scripture says Blessed are the peacemakers  (Matthew 5:9). The reality is, we could all do a lot better at being peace makers, that doesn’t mean holding firm to our own convictions, or stepping into battle when the time is right. But it does mean, that we learn to make peace with those we love. For example, my girlfriend and I have made an agreement not to go to bed angry, This is partly a biblical approach and partly logical.

I hate going to bad with any sort of anger or frustration it literally robs me of all joy, makes me toss and turn and takes me away from my true self. That usually leads me to call my girlfriend to apologies, which of course leads us both to feel at peace. Arguing toward peace, means sitting down, and calming talking through things, not screaming and holding onto how they hurt you or vise versa.

It’s about knowing that things are with fighting for, even when the world tells us to give up and start afresh. Not doing the relational hard work to reconcile our differences with one another. Arguing toward peace, in my opinion must become the new norm for us as a society.

And only when we have exhausted every option, is it worth giving up. In closing, I’d like to say also, that arguing toward peace Does NOT Mean allowing someone to walk all over you, cheat on you and even be physically abusive with you.  Arguing toward peace is a methodology,  that is to be used to facilitate healing in the lives of two people or even a group of people. But never under violent relational circumstances.

Blessings

-Brandon

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