I Hope It’s ALL Good

I used to think hope was a case by case thing, but now I know that hope demands to be your perspective.

Blue theater

For a while now, every month or so, I feel like I have been learning something about hope. This year I’ve decided to let it change me and my thinking.

It’s a powerful thing hope.

Here are some truths on hope I have been trying to apply so far this year:
-Our Hopelessness about a problem is a bigger problem than the problem.
-There are no hopeless circumstances, only people who do not have hope for them.
-Once people get true hope, their circumstances cannot stay the same.
-It’s ALL good.

Here are some thoughts on hope and how to get there.

There is a scene in the movie Donnie Darko where a bunch of high school students are watching a film in class. In this “educational film”, Patrick Swayze talks about how fear and love are opposing emotions that we act out of at the most primal level.
The title character in the movie gets up in the class and yells at the teacher about how ridiculous this is, enraged at the over simplification of the entire human emotional spectrum into just two base opposite emotions to hilarious end.

There is a common misconception here.

Fear and love are not opposites.
The opposite of fear and despair is actually hope.
You see FEAR is the confident expectation of coming and immanent bad, while HOPE is confident expectation of for coming and imminent good!
Fear and hope have an expectation about them.
You can tell when someone is afraid because they react to life out of this expectation of harm or that their circumstance will all fall apart.

We are not meant to live this way.
It is unhealthy.
Our bodies are wired to recognize danger and to survive if such danger is perceived to be immanent.
Picture this: When a deer is in a field and hears a predator in the brush it quickly stiffens up becoming alert to danger.
It enters a survival mode when sensing immanent danger releasing a chemical in the brain called cortisol.
This chemical is also released in human brains when we do not feel safe in our environment.
What cortisol does is shuts down non-essential bodily functions such as immune systems, hair and nail growth, and digestion, in favor of survival.

Sadly these environments can include being around your family, church, or even in your workplace. Really any group where there can be drama, accusations, expectations, or talking behind backs that is not addressed.
It is not good to have a constant flow of this chemical in your brain.
You will get sick and it is not fun.
Not dealing with things like this robs us of living life to the fullest!

What does this have to do with hope and goodness???
stay with me.

Of course in the past I have not felt safe in some environments.
Some fears I have had came from lies I was believing about myself and others that I did not talk about.
They are just in our heads.

I have heard it said that lies sound really good in darkness of our own minds, however, when brought into the light of day they are laughable, silly, and lose their power to separate us from others.

You know what someone who has hope looks like too.
They are expecting good for everything like its Christmas!

Scripture says, “And we know, with great confidence, that God ,who deeply cares about us, causes all things to work together as a plan for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” Romans 8:28 amp

I love the great confident expectation of good that Paul, the author of Romans, had!
but if what he is saying is true then why is their pain and suffering in the world???
Now were getting into one of the oldest questions ever.
Why do bad things happen???

I don’t know.
I don’t know why my Grandpa died but I do know that my Grandma found a close comforting relationship with God after.
I don’t know why my friends can’t have children but I know it lead them to adopt an unwanted little girl who now has a home and a better life because of it.

I believe this is what God working all things together looks like.
I have confident expectation that in my family, church, work, and even in our nation and the world that God is working all things together, even the bad circumstances, for a greater good.
I see it sometimes.
Sometimes I don’t.
But I have great hope that He has a greater story to tell than what I think the best outcome could be or even what I perceive is going on.

For my friends who do not feel like they belong or that their safe place doesn’t feel safe anymore, I urge you to find community.
Know that Jesus last promise was that He would be with us always.
Even in the night.
I saw a movie last Christmas where a man in WWII crashed in the pacific and was
captured by the Japanese and tortured in a labor camp.
(I hope none of you are in that situation right now.)

At the beginning of the film a priest talked about day and night.
He said, “The night and day are not opposed to each other but were created to be
lived through.”

The night isn’t even opposed to God!!!
He is in it even when we can’t see it and in the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible, He call both the day and the night good.

In our country, family, and church to see that He’s working all circumstances, even the seemingly bad, for good of His children, Is eternal hope.
(His children, that’s you by the way no matter who you are!!!)

All of this leads me to believe there is something He is seeing that we are not (duhh, being omnipotent and all), but when we look back it’ll be so obvious how we grew or how it all worked out in the end.
You have survived ever circumstance you have ever been through!
We need His perspective.

So in your current situation know that God is working all things together in ways we maybe cannot see right now.
That from His perspective it’s all good.
That He is making all things new, and even when we cannot see it Jesus is with us because He promised He is.

This is what having Gods perspective on hope looks like. Not a circumstantial hope that fades based on your situation, but an eternal one that lasts and is not in fleeting things.

Jesus is as close as the mention of His name.
Try it every morning and in every situation you can’t see him in!
He is present. He is with us. He is Emmanuel.
He is the hope of the world who my hope is in.
I pray you would find safety in Him, that you would allow Jesus to be your safe
place, that the lies we believe that separate us from others would seem silly in
the light, that you would find community and belonging Knowing who you are and who’s
you, that it would negate that fear and despair and that you would realize eternal hope in your life.

Remember joy comes in the morning.
Call on the name of the God who makes all things new!

Experience Hope,
Drew

 

Kings and Kingdom: A Musing

Get it

Museum… A musing…

I offer a musing on the day after Martin Luther King Day.

(Partly because I saw Muse with my Mother last week and partly because I like how it sounds and have all of these thoughts rattling around in me… Less painful than it sounds)
Sidenote(already?) : “Less Painful” would be a great name for Major Payne’s sidekick, whoever Major Payne is.

Back to business.

To be honest, before this year I had never really taken the time to appreciate the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.
I knew he had a dream and that early morning April 4th, 1968 is when he died, but that’s mostly because of U2 songs.
Yesterday however I really tried to take the time to dig in and understand his mission of love and civil liberties in a nation divided.

We are not in too different a place as a nation now. I’m not talking about racism or sexism or equality, which are still issues but thankfully progress has been made.
No I’m talking about the overall issue we are still having with learning to love and not hate our neighbor and enemy.
At the same time as I was trying to understand what the man stood for I was bombarded with many other messages in this political season we are in with elections coming up just a few months from now.

I’m not one for politics.
I used to be.
I was one of the founding members of Midland High school’s Teen-Age Republicans club, or TARS as we liked to be called. (Not a very attractive name)
That’s another story for another time.
Now I’m more interested in people.
It can be hard in this season, with social media being such a huge part of our lives, to filter through all of the opposing messages we are receiving.
On one hand I heard the message that “Love is the only thing that can turn an enemy to a friend” from Doctor King, and on the other hand the messages that “We are going to protect Christianity”, and build walls, from various political candidates. One message is filled with hope for a better future for all, one message instills a fear, an “us versus them” way of thinking, an idea that there is an enemy out to get us and take what we have, that we must be on the offensive.
(Wars happen. I understand that.)

This stuff can get confusing.
Who do we believe?
Who’s message do we listen to?
Do we have an enemy in this world?
What are Jesus thoughts on these things?

I’ve been thinking a lot about fighting back lately.
If it’s worth it. What if I had to.

As a culture we are terrified of our own demise. Of losing what we’ve been given.
Honestly, We’ll all die some day.
Life is a vapor.
A myst.
It’s here and gone.
This should have an impact on how we treat others and ourselves.

A lot of people in Jesus day thought a Messiah would come to usher in a new political Jewish kingdom. (Sounds like the hopes and dreams of a subjected people under Roman military rule.) 

Jesus is the Messiah but He did not come to kill, destroy, divide and rule with an iron fist. The Kingdom He came to establish was a new way of living and seeing the world that He gave Himself for.

A way of love.

I’d like to submit that we are Kings with Jesus in this Kingdom of love and that we rule our own love.
We have dominion over it. We decide what to do with it.

You can’t love something that you fear.
When our way of life is threatened we tend to retaliate in fear to protect what we have.
“The quickest way to lose something is to take a defensive position where we fight to
protect what we have instead of working to increase it”, my pastor Drew Neal once said.
The things we have that we are afraid of losing tend to be so monetary.
It’s all like that vapor we talked about earlier anyway.
What we really do have though,
that lasts,
is our love.
So what does it look like for us to love the world?
God so loved the world that He gave of Himself for it.
Before we can do that though we have to believe that it is good ground to sew into.
God did and sent His Son Jesus. 

The way Jesus came to show us involves not just loving those who are like you but your enemies as well and blessing those who curse you. Turning the other cheek. 

The poor and the immigrant among you.

Doctor King said “Love is the only thing that can transform an enemy to a friend”.
So when I see my enemy I now see my brother, my neighbor.

To that politician I heard yesterday, Christianity isn’t worth protecting, but my love is and people are. I don’t see more value in organizations than I do in people. Sorry.

Is anything worth protecting? Fighting for?

Love alone is worth the fight.
Protect your love and love the world.
As some friends of mine would say “Keep your love on” at all times.

I have confident expectation for good that this whole world that Jesus so loved can be saved and that it is good ground to plant your love into as well.

Experience Hope,
Drew

Would It Help???

Bridge of Spies

I really like movies.
I feel like I get a lot out of them. The fact that all this money was spent by a studio to bring to life a director’s vision, something that must have moved him greatly, to life, and that I can experience that vision and be moved by it as well, blows me away!
Seems like most movies have something to say or leave you with something to think on. Whether it’s about human rights (Selma), the environment (Avatar), political control (Hunger Games) or a plethora of other topics, we can walk away, most of the time, with something new to think about and examples of these concepts.
Side note: Unless its Michael Bay, seriously I’ve never walked out of one of the transformers movies being able to restate what I just saw happen with words… Sound effects maybe, but not words.

Over the weekend I saw the movie Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks. It really brought to life a very tense era of history I really don’t know enough about: the cold war.

No Spoilers I swear…

In the movie, Tom Hanks is seen with a Russian spy who, if he stays in the U.S. will inevitably be executed or thrown into prison, or if he ends up back over seas, will probably be put to death by his people who have disowned him.
Tom Hanks asks the man a very logical and common question at least four times in the film “Aren’t you worried?”, and each and every time in the film the man responds, “Would it help?”.

SUCH A POWERFUL STATEMENT!

This is a man who has been disowned and is most likely going to be put to death and he refuses to worry!
How often are we going through things in our every day life that are (hopefully) less severe in which we worry as if it is the end of the world as we know it?

Another time in history that I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to about that was also very tense is the middle east in the first century.
This was the time of the man Jesus ministry and we can find him teaching something very similar about worry.
In the book of Matthew 6:25-33 Jesus is in the midst of teaching His sermon on the mount to potential Jewish followers speaking on how to live life to the fullest in this new kingdom of love He had come to establish.
These people had had their money taken from them by corrupt tax collectors, temples violated, and been mistreated in general time and time again.
Any moment they were ready to take up arms and fight against their oppressor.

After speaking to them about how to pray, to forgive, to be at peace with God and man, and to not act holier than thou when practicing their beliefs and money, Jesus touches on worry.

Side note: Jesus’ sermon on the mount is a teaching that is so applicable today so if you haven’t read Matthew 5-7 or if it has been a while I encourage you to.

I like how NT Wright translates Matt 6:25-34. It’s a fresh way of hearing a truth some of us have heard quite a bit before (but mostly because I hear him read it in his British accent and really enjoy his use of exclamation points)!!!

“So let me tell you: don’t worry about your life, what to eat what to drink; don’t worry about your body, what to wear. There is more to life than food! There is more to the body than a suit of clothes! Have a good look at the birds in the sky. They don’t plant seeds, they don’t bring in the harvest, they don’t store things in barns, and your father in heaven feeds them! Think how different you are from them! Can any of you add fifteen inches to your height just by worrying about it?
And why worry about what to wear? Take a tip from the lilies in the countryside. They don’t work; the don’t weave; but, let me tell you, not even Solomon, in all his finery was dressed as well as one of these. So if God gives that sort of clothing even to the grass in the field, which is here today and on the bonfire tomorrow, isn’t he far more likely to clothe you too?
So don’t worry away with your ‘what’ll we eat?’ and ‘what’ll we drink?’, and ‘what’ll we wear?’. Those are all the kinds of things the Gentiles fuss about, and your heavenly father knows you need them all. Instead, make your top priority God’s kingdom and His way of life, and all these things will be given to you as well.
SO don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow can worry about itself. One day’s trouble at a time is quite enough.”

WOW!
These words always blow me away!
It’s something I need to often be reminded to put into practice.

These  other words from Jesus always get me too!

Matthew 11:28-30:
 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

WooHoo!

and lastly, from the same sermon, Luke 12:25:
Which of you by being anxious can add a single day to your lifetime?

 

I know that’s a lot of scripture but the way the Russian spy in those crazy conditions acted in the face of certain death challenged me this weekend really brought all of that back to my mind.
I hope it challenges you all as well.

Everything in your life you were scared of or didn’t think you could recover from has worked out. So why not your present worries? No need to worry, there is something bigger going on. God is with you even if you can’t see it. He goes before you and He is already in the future of your situation working it for good.  

Experience Hope,
Drew