These are socks…Faith

22 10 2014

Coach Wooden was a legendary basketball coach for UCLA in the 1960s and 70s.  He won ten NCAA Championships in twelve years including a streak of seven.  He knew how to win.  Coach Wooden always began his first practice by teaching his team how to wear their socks stressing the importance of protecting their feet.  Getting a blister on your foot makes you ineffective on the court.  Bottom line remembering the basics helps you win the game.

This got me wondering.  What are the Christian’s socks?  What are the basics we have to remember to be effective?  I think there are three; faith, hope and love.  Today I want to focus on faith.

As Christians we believe God does the work and we respond by faith.  This is foundational to the Gospel.  We believe Jesus died for us and we are saved by God’s grace through our faith (Ephesians 2:8).

Living by faith goes back to Abraham.  His faith was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).  In other words, Abraham’s righteousness was based on trusting and following God.  Abraham was human.  He did some good things and some bad things.  His relationship with God was not based on his work but on his faith.

Most Christians understand this intellectually.  However, it is hard to do.  Why?  Because living by faith is scary.  Faith leads to action.  The actions are directed by God.  Living by faith means God can lead us anywhere.  If God wants me to go to Africa, I go to Africa.  If God wants me to forgive someone, I forgive that person.  If God asks me to give up something, I give it up.

What does the Bible say about this?  Noah built an Ark.  Abraham left his home.  Jonah went to Nineveh.  Daniel prayed even with the threat of being feed to lions.  Jesus told a rich young man to sell everything.  I could go on but you get the point.

Not living by faith is much easier.  Some become legalistic.  In other words, they come up with the list of rules to keep God in a nice safe box.  Others just reject or ignore the things of God.  They never let themselves slow down long enough to actually hear God’s voice in their life.

However, if we put our socks on correctly and live by faith two incredible things happen.  First, we become less busy.  We serve as God leads and we say no to things that are not a part of God’s plan.  We focus on the right things.  Second, our thankfulness increases.  We become grateful for the work God is doing in our lives and we have peace because we are in step with God.  It is a great place to be.

Are you living by faith?  Can God truly ask anything of you?  The first step is to slow down and really listen.  This means spending time in prayer, reading your bible or talking with a respected mentor.  God will show you areas where you are not in step.  It will be an opportunity to change and truly follow where God is leading.  Take the opportunity to thank him.  The more you see God working in your life the more thankful you will be.  Before you know it you will be living out your faith…by faith





Transformation in Forgiveness

8 12 2011

I just finished a great book called “As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda” by Catherine Claire Larson. It talks through the transformation happening in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. She tells stories of people who faced horrific circumstances and yet were able to overcome and offer forgiveness. A quote that leaped out at me was her description of a young man who had deep scar across his face. She said, “Emmanuel’s scar testifies to two realities. It is a witness to the human capacity for evil…. Yet his scar testifies to another truth: the stunning capacity of humans to heal from the unthinkable.”

One of the elements needed in healing is forgiveness. I did a bible study on the topic and became amazed by the power that comes from this simple yet in some cases incredibly difficult decision. While there are many great ways to talk about forgiveness, I am going to look at one aspect that I think we overlook; the power of forgiveness to bring true transformation.

By the very act of offering forgiveness I acknowledge sin happened. I am saying clearly I was harmed by what happened and gives me the opportunity to have an honest discussion about it. Reconciliation can begin when the person accepts my forgiveness. When they accept it, they are acknowledging they understand they hurt me. Forgiveness facilitates this honest discussion.

From there we are able to look at the root causes and truly talk about solutions. We are able to face the truth about the situation and can look at the whole picture. We can begin to look at taking a different path because the path we were on caused pain. The new path can bring peace.

When I choice not to forgive, I still acknowledge I have been hurt but the pain instead of the cause of the pain becomes the focus. Bitterness and anger seep in. I become distracted. I want revenge instead of righteousness. I miss out on dealing with the bigger picture. I become trapped and there is no transformation. There is no peace.

The second half of verse 10 from Psalm 85 says:
“Righteousness and peace kiss each other.”

In order for there to be true peace there must be righteousness. In order for there to be righteousness we must acknowledge and deal with the sin that is around us. That was part of the amazing transformation that was happening in Rwanda. They were not down playing the atrocities. Actually, they were having honest and real discussions about them. They were grasping the truth depth of the pain that was caused and they were looking at roads that could lead to real peace that touched the soul.

Too many times we will simply say “its okay” or “don’t worry about it.” Meanwhile we are hurt, angry and frustrated. There is no peace in the relationship. We either drift apart or separate. Injustice is allowed to win and we miss out on what God is offering us.

God gets it. God offers us forgiveness. When we accept it, we accept we have sinned and missed the mark. This opens the door for God to transform us. We are able to have honest conversations about what we have done and we can step back and look at the whole picture. God does not down play our sin. The cross stands as a huge reminder that God dealt with the ultimate consequence of sin. He extends righteousness to us transforming our lives and we have peace.

Do you need to extend forgiveness? I hope you will see that if you do, you will actually be giving yourself a chance to really face the situation and deal with it effectively.

Do you need to ask for forgiveness? I hope you will see that if you do, you will open yourself to the possibility of truly changing that area of your life by facing it honestly and directly.

In either case, righteousness and peace will be able to kiss and what a sweet kiss it will be.

God bless,
Chaps