Productive Struggle

Sometimes the first step is the hardest to take. The first word the hardest to say. I was shaped by tragedy. My personality formed under traumatic circumstances. I say that not as my crutch – but just as my reality. I know that Jesus is my savior and that he has rescued and redeemed me. I get that I am no longer who I used to be and that I don’t have to live in my past – I get it – in theory. But the practicality of it is that I am who I am right now based on who I was shaped to be back then. Could God completely wipe clean the hard drive of my personality and make my character new? Absolutely he could. But I don’t think that God will do that because he knows that if I struggle through this change as he works slowly on me then I will be truly changed. Now – I pause here to say that I already have been changed so much. I no longer carry with me many of the destructive behaviors of my past. My decisions are guided now by the Spirit rather than by my own selfishness. My outlook is one of hope rather than hopelessness and despair. I have already experienced great change by the grace of God. But I feel more and more that I must become responsible for some of my own deeper growth and change (some of those personality things) so that then I will see the true me, the image-bearer me come alive. While none of us can really claim our own successes – we are nothing without God – I do believe that God will allow me to struggle through in order to build up my faith. And if I seek him in and through it all then that struggle becomes a “productive” struggle as I grow and transform. There is a lot about me that I wish were different. But me is who I am and merely wishing won’t change me. My faith in God, lived out daily, my trust and hope in his power to transform, and my desire to seek him and his guidance in every moment of struggle – those are the things that will bring about my desired change. Those things will be my transforming power.

Working with your neighbor

Originally posted on Brian Suman:

cubiclesOwe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. – Romans 13:8

Do you work with your neighbor?

We all do.

Well, maybe not the one next door or across the street or maybe not even the one that lives a couple of houses down that you just waive to as they drive by but in the context of the Bible it’s the person in the cubicle next to you. Your manager down the hall. That person in the lunch room that you secretly wished had a different break schedule then you.

The workplace is one of the best environments that will test your will to love. It is the place where not only will successes be shared but where things will not go as planned, co-workers will disagree, and change will bring out our…

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God is calling…

Originally posted on Brian Suman:

godiscallingme2If God is calling what is He calling you to? For some of us we feel like we go through our whole life seeking our purpose. Seeking a way to be able to give back, be meaningful, or have some existence. But as we go on the continued search for a title or position to fill in work or ministry, do we miss what God has called us to?

From prison, Paul writes a letter to the people of Ephesus summarizing our call.

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Being Human

There are a lot of things that are hard about being human. Life is messy. Sometimes it’s hard. And at times it just sucks. I think that the hardest thing about being human is emotions. Emotions are powerful! They can be debilitating. Sometimes they can’t be contained. Now before I go any further I will acknowledge that there are plenty of good, positive emotions that arty the same attributes as the bad ones. For example, pure joy can overflow and cause tears of happiness. But there are also plenty of “negative” emotions that are just as strong, if not stronger. One of these is anger. It can be ugly. It will control the mind and the tongue, causing thoughts and words that are not truly reflective of the person speaking them. Sadness, hurt, pain and loneliness kind of all wrap up into one big pile of messiness that can weigh down and smother ones spirit. I think that one of the hardest feelings I have dealing with is when someone I love is experiencing sadness or pain. This feeling should really have a name of its own. I have learned how to cope with (perhaps not in the best way) my own emotions…but for me to watch someone I love suffer through anger or sadness is nearly overwhelming. But the flip side is even sweeter too. The joy of watching someone you love be at peace and filled with their own joy is amazing (sorry that word is so overused). So I’m not really sure what my point is (if there is one at all) Exocet that I am truly fascinated with the ability to feel things the way we do as humans. It makes me wonder how Jesus dealt with his array of emotions while he was human. The Bible talks about his anger. And sorrow. And grief. And yet we know he never once sinned even as he dealt with those emotions. I’m fascinated by his mind and his thoughts. And it brings me comfort to know that since he did walk the earth as a human that he felt the same things I do. He understand my prayers when I ask for help dealing with my human emotions.

What should I expect?

Originally posted on Brian Suman:

expectationsThe definition of expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Said another way, it’s seeking to prevent disappointment by establishing in advance what can realistically be achieved or delivered by an undertaking or course of action.

An expectation is something we place on someone else. Something some of us place on God.

In our yearning for the expectation to be met, we envision joy, satisfaction, or something given to us. We expect another person to do as we would want them to and as long as we focus on the intent, another result is never considered. The other result that disappoints. The result that leaves us with hurt feelings and disappointment. As many times as we have all been disappointed we seem wired to repeat the cycle.  To set a bar that someone will fall short of.

Why do we do this?…

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Love Her Through Me

Originally posted on Brian Suman:

Bible heartFrustration is birthed out of unmet expectations. Isn’t that so true? I often think of that statement when I am frustrated over something and I try to be real with myself to understand if my feelings are truly being driven by what I want. James 4:1 says, “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you”? Did my selfishness get in the way? Am I thinking of the others involved or supporting the outcome of a situation even if I gain nothing?

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Taking the Field

Originally posted on Brian Suman:

fnlightsWhat parallel does Friday night football and our walk with Christ represent?

We all the love a big game right? The pre-game festivities (church), the smack talk (fellowship), and the social media blitz leading up to the big event. It is a craze that can keep us pumped for days, maybe even weeks, in advance. We have a game plan. We are fighters. We are champions.

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Caught in a Storm

Originally posted on Brian Suman:

boat in a stormThis past week was a challenging one to say the least. There are multiple things going on in my life and I wasn’t able to spiritually brace myself for the storm that hit me. (The problem there is ‘I’ wasn’t able instead of letting Jesus battle for me.) It hit so hard that it caused me to study less, pray less, and even question my walk with God. Not trying to be over dramatic, but it hit pretty hard. I like to be real and transparent and share these things with others because I know that I am not alone. I am not the only one that asks, “why God?” and I am not the only one that feels as if their walls are caving in and the implosion is immanent. 

“You don’t have enough faith,”Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even…

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Fight the good fight

Feeling really tired and groggy this morning. Very little sleep. Massive headache. Completely lacking inspiration. I sit here with my Bible open to Hebrews. I intensely read the introduction that describes the time and place it was written, and the meaning and message contained within. About four verses in, my mind wanders…why am I “studying” Hebrews this morning? Or perhaps the better question would be, what am I avoiding by studying Hebrews this morning? Why am I not reflecting on the real stuff that is on my heart right now? And I’m fairly certain I know the answer. My heart is not good currently. In a lot of ways, it is hurting. I have some serious issues going on in my heart right now and I guess I just don’t really want to face them. I really have some serious work to do on my heart – NO, I need to let go, realize I can’t do the work that needs done, and allow Jesus to work on my heart, because right now, its a bit of an ugly mess. I am ashamed and embarrassed…but I can’t fix it. I have to sincerely admit that my heart is not right, and ask God to work in me…to take it away from me. That is so hard for me to do. Through Christ I have grown so much and have found amazing freedom from all that has held me down in the past…but everyday its like my human nature (the old me) fights my redeemed self for control. My nature is to wall up, crawl into a hole and choose to be numb when things get tough and I am hurting. But the Spirit that lives within me will not allow me to live that way any longer. The Spirit within me prompts me to fight the good fight, and fights for me to break old ways, destroy negative habits and be who I am in Christ. Its a constant battle that rages between my old self and the new me in Christ. But it is surely a fight worth fighting.