Flesh

“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us ….”  John 1:14a (KJV)

In Christian parlance, the word “flesh” has gotten a bad rap.  Most Christians associate “the flesh” with things sinful or evil or tempting.  But the word used for “flesh” in the Bible actually carries no such connotation.

The Greek word “sarx” simply means “flesh” — skin, meat, bones — whether of men, beasts, fish or birds.  It has neither a good or a bad association with it.  The New Living Translation of the Bible does a better job of keeping the word neutral, in its original sense.

So why & how did “flesh” get such a bad rap?  That’s a long and complicated story, but for now, may God encourage you & renew your mind about how you think about your flesh.

Your flesh was created by God and given to you.  It is a gift.  It has amazing potential for good and for beauty and for reflecting God’s glory.  Your flesh is an integral  part of how God made you.  And He does not ask you to divide yourself against yourself.  In God’s kingdom, there is no separation between the sacred and the secular.  God wants all of you.

Can the flesh do bad things?  Yes.  And so can the mind.  And so can the spirit.  It’s what we do or don’t do with our flesh that constitutes something good or something evil.  The flesh itself is not evil.

After all, the Word became flesh.  God Himself incarnate in the flesh …

… and He did something wonderful with His.  Will you?

Advertisements

Endurance

“Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NET)

I love this verse!  Especially this translation.  “May the Lord direct your heart toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.”  So much packed in there:

“May the Lord direct your heart” — because only the Lord can cause real life change, real growth, real direction and motivation. We look for growth, direction and motivation in so many other places, but only the Lord can really direct our hearts! So may it be He that directs our hearts!

“toward the Love of God” — because that is where all growth and spiritual formation begins: with understanding how completely and fully each one of us is loved by God. The God who formed me, saved me, redeems me daily, provides me life and breath moment by moment, seeks to walk my unique and personal journey with me, and has great plans for me — He loves me, beyond what I can imagine! And same with you! Why wouldn’t we let Him direct our hearts?

“and [toward] the endurance of Christ.” — Ahhh.  The harder part.  Endurance. The word itself carries a load with it. We don’t associate the word endurance with something easy and fun; we associate it with something long and hard.  And the endurance of Christ!?  Holy cow.  We know what Jesus had to endure — flogging, humiliation, death on the cross, separation from the Father, the weight of the world’s sin, etc.  Me with the endurance of Christ?  Not hardly.  Yet that is what it says.

And endurance doesn’t come overnight.  Gaining endurance requires training.  In the physical realm as in the spiritual realm, growing in endurance requires training.  We push our limits a little bit, then a little bit more … intentionally, gradually, purposefully … until what used to be challenging becomes easy.  And we grow in endurance.

The construction of this verse is not accidental.  In fact, the progression of these thoughts are critical.  If we, as humans, know how to gently and purposefully grow ourselves in physical endurance, how much more does the God who made us know how to grow us in spiritual endurance?  If we know how to be kind and careful and understanding to ourselves and our bodies when we train it in physical endurance, how much more does the God who loves us know how to gently, carefully and purposefully grow us in the endurance of Christ in a kind and understanding way?  And if we train our bodies out of our own motivation (however constructive it may be), how much more does God’s training spring out of His deep and vast love for us?

Infinitely.

So now … may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.

Journey On

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.  Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come with you.”  Psalm 32:9 (NIV)

This past Spring, I had the opportunity to talk with middle schoolers about what it means to be fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and how to live in the reality that each of us are God’s masterpieces. And as I continue to sit in this vein of Truth, God continues to speak.

There is only one “me” in the universe, and there will only ever be one “me” … and there will only ever be one “you.” Just as no thumbprint or no snowflake is exactly alike, there will never be someone just like you. Only you. Only me.

And because of that (and other factors), there will only be one journey like mine. I have a unique journey, and God wants to walk my journey with me. He cannot walk my journey with anyone else, because my journey is the only one like it. “I cannot walk this journey with anyone else,” God said to me yesterday. “This journey is just ours, and I want to walk it with you.”

This journey —  your journey —  we get to co-create together,” He continued. “You and Me. We create this together, because I have allowed you to co-create your journey with Me.” And as I reflected, I knew it was true — not only in the realm of life-choices and decisions, but even in a much more minute, existential way — the food I eat, the structure and composition of my body through exercise, etc.  (See, Quantum Physics (5/19/16 entry) & The Body is More (1/28/16 entry) for more).

As I looked at the path behind me, I could see many places where God was evident and others where He was more hidden, yet still present; I could also see the impact of many of my own decisions — both good and bad.  As I looked ahead to the path yet trodden, a sense of eagerness and anxiety arose in my stomach.

Looking ahead to the yet-created part of my journey, I knew that God was inviting me to co-create the journey in an even more intentional way.  In a deeper, richer, all-encompassing way.  Yes, in the macro — in the life-choices and decisions … but also in the micro — how I live and breathe and eat and move and grow.

God, in His glory, grants us the power to co-create ourselves and our journeys with Him — whether we know it or not.  Whether we choose to embrace it or not, He has given us the power to co-create our journeys, and we exercise that power every day.

Exercise it wisely and intentionally.

Exercise it in the macro and the micro.

Embrace your God-given creative power.

And do it with Him.

Every day.  Every moment.  Every breath.