Grasping Our Reason To Live

MODERN EMPIRICISM AND OUR REASON TO LIVE

Although some of us seemingly give up immediately while others do not, every one of us searches for a reason to live on after something tragic, difficult, or painful happens. Why is that? Through intuition of the spirit, humans can perceive a truth, subtle or otherwise, as to why we are here on this Earth. That truth, when examined closely, points to far more than mere pleasure-seeking. When we pretend we don’t require an answer to our questions about purpose, or when the answer we receive is not the one want—we may deny our instincts and live a life unlike the one we imagined to be more satisfying or exciting. The truth is that we are here for a reason, and if we can’t seem discover the answer to “what reason?” through our spirit, we may try to figure it out with the use of logic and reasoning—depending on and trusting in science and the theories of modern empiricism to give us an answer we consider easier to digest. However, is “more digestible” also more true?

The problem with this approach will be explored in the first portion of this article. Later, I will explore the more sensitive topic of Christianity and how faith plays a role in the lives of many who fall away from their faith in the belief that God isn’t truly real or that Jesus isn’t truly God. How does a person get to this place? How can we avoid it and help others not to? We will explore this together as well.

THE PROBLEM BETWEEN PURPOSE AND LOGIC

When we rely solely on logic and reason to make sense of life, two titans of existentialism—purpose and meaning—lose their essence. If purpose undermines logic, insofar as understanding purpose does not demand the human mind to find value in something as precious as the comfort of breathing without pain (i.e. Equating a difficult breathing pattern to “life is terrible”)—then purpose knows its identity without needing approval from the body. Put differently, purpose finds value in the most infinitesimal living matter; such as the “awe” in the awe-inspiring beauty of the sky, the pensive appreciation of a butterfly’s spotted wings, or the humbling treasure of hearing a child’s playful laugh—because it is not measuring by size; rather, purpose measures by quality and significance.

In other words, purpose breathes whether or not we do. While logic is enraptured by numbers and equations, ratiocination and patterns—purpose is birthed by sentiment, meaningfulness, emotion, generosity, selflessness, and truth. Logic and reason may be indirect conduits by which purpose can be viewed or considered, but logic cannot explicate the complex mechanism that is life without ignoring the intrinsic aspects of the soul. Our soul cannot fit into a pattern any more than God can be fit into a box. Therefore, when our search for life’s meaning and purpose is searched for using any one criterial facet of logic, the journey automatically culminates in disappointment because the very nature of logic fails to understand the depth of purpose and its intrinsic measurement of quality.

PURPOSE DEMANDS FAITH

The failure to understand the human soul is evidenced by the inability of the intellect to counteract the proposition that our lives are meaningless. Because the sentiment we associate with the meaning of life is so sensitive, our intellect is incapable of understanding or grasping the weight of such significance. Intellect may try to explain it but it cannot discern or sense its power. Needless to say, intellect disappoints immediately, whereas purpose demands a higher calling for life’s meaning than any intellectual explanation can offer. Purpose demands substance from the unseen, the untouched; the transcendent. What substance? we ask. The substance of faith, to be clear. Purpose demands faith. Let me explain.

Faith instills within our existence a meaningful dimension nothing else can make known. When we solely rely on anything outside of faith, the lack of meaningful interaction between faith and intellect ends up forcing us to face the emptiness of our reason to keep going. This is what I faced during the stint leading up to my discovery of faith; I came to a breaking point where I decided if I could not find an authentic reason to keep living, I would end my life. If you have not already, you may read my testimony here

When we associate the purpose of our lives with this world, the tangible, or empirical (all of our experiences within grasp of our five immediate biological senses)—becomes our idol, and the only significance we can conjure from this tangible world is our depraved desperation for pleasure that is never quenched regardless of the habit, addiction, or lifestyle we adhere to.

BORN AGAIN

What is all of this leading to? Purpose and a meaningful life are particularly fond terms in Christianity—mainly because being “born again” refers to the process of surrendering our self-devised purpose for a higher purpose given to us after rebirth, by God. The difference is that our self-devised purpose is built on the tragedy of narcissism and the vacuity of stubbornness. God’s purpose for us is birthed from His sovereignty and selfless love.

How does a man think he knows Christ when in fact he only knows an idea of Christ? Why have some people who professed to be Christian ended up killing themselves? We ask ourselves at what point God was for them. We wonder what purpose they had in “finding Jesus” just to die in the end. This is a sensitive subject. I’d like to touch on this, even briefly, as delicately as I can.

THE BIRTH OF HELL

A believer is called to follow Christ through every adversity he is given, turning to Jesus and surrendering his fear, worry, panic, anger, bitterness, and doubt—straight into the hands of his loving Savior. When a believer refuses this humbling aspect of the Christian walk, they deny themselves the blessing and fruit of a budding relationship with Jesus—and this, when planted consistently, is the seed to the malady of disobedience, disbelief, and ultimately Hell. Hell is more than an eternal place of damnation; it begins in the void of the soul, where our mind—ill-equipped with disbelief—succumbs to disobedience as unbelief and doubt take over the spirit in a body which dies never having known Christ (Matthew 7:21-23). Hell finishes in eternity for the soul who never fully surrendered his or her life to the vocation of humbling themselves before God in desperation for His grace, gratefulness for His love, awestruck by His compassion; relieved by His forgiveness, and ultimately transformed by His resurrection.

I will return to this in the last paragraph of this article.

FAITHFUL OR FAITHLESS?

How often do we consider where we stand when we contemplate the meaning of life and our purpose here on Earth? Why even ask the question? We worry about money, sex, relationships, food, and making it to our appointments on time, but what about considering the impression we leave behind with those who only have the chance to watch us scurry off in a hurry? Our heart beats, but not forever. Where do we place the trust of our decisions each day? The choice of a Christian to be faithful in Jesus by surrendering our fleshly desires when we feel swayed towards disobedience is our only way to make a difference capable of sending a ripple of hope into eternity. Oppositely, living solely from the character of egocentrism would send a ripples echoing the void of narcissism, comprised of a life stuck at work; always in a hurry, never present, barely grateful, absent of humility and unforgiving of others’ imperfections. Just as faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26), a faithless life lacking in obedience and surrender to a power beyond selfish ambition is a grotesque caricature of the human experience. We weren’t born to live for ourselves, and yet so many of us do, even many of us who claim to know Christ.

How do we know if we know Him?

GOD FINISHES WHAT HE STARTS

First off, God finishes the work He starts in us (Philippians 1:6). This is a promise. If He has started work in your soul, He will finish that work. A person who considers the faith and thinks about the faith but never walks the walk is somewhere between an agnostic and a pagan—but not a Christian. It is entirely unbiblical to say that Jesus claimed us but that the invitation wasn’t strong enough to keep us walking through the narrow gate. Jesus compels the soul (2 Corinthians 5:14), and there is no “realizing later on” that Jesus is fake unless we never understood He was real.

THE NASCENCE OF CHRISTIANITY

To not understand He is real and to disbelieve in His glory are one and the same. Furthermore, to never believe He was real or even to claim He might have been is not belief. Pushing further still, to claim to believe He is real, to go to church and praise Him, to be kind to others on behalf of Him, to pray with others in His name—but to never have known Him personally–is still unbelief. But how can we know someone we never physically met? we ask. Jesus Christ gave us the Holy Spirit when He ascended. This is His sure promise to be with us during every moment of every day. When we do not receive the gift of His spirit, we have not received Him in full. We will know when we know Him by how much of ourselves we surrender in the faith and pursuit of receiving His spirit, seeking transformation in His name. In the transformation of our spirit from its sinful form to the sinless form of Christ’s resurrected spirit, rebirth occurs; the nascence of our Christian walk and the beginning of our personal relationship with Jesus. 

THE SOUL OF REBIRTH

To receive Jesus is to receive new life (spiritually and mentally). This is how we know we have fully come to believe: When we feel His life in ours, speak His words for ours, feel His desires for ours, and live His life as ours. To claim Jesus exists is easy even for demons (James 2:19); this is not rebirth, for the demons believe and still perish because their works do not proclaim Him, but rather, try to destroy Him (which is impossible). Therefore, proclamation is not the seed to rebirth. Actions validate what our words cannot prove. To worship and pray and celebrate but not believe will not lead to surrender or humility, and it will not seek His grace to spiritually penetrate our souls. 

LOGIC CANNOT MAKE SENSE OF REBIRTH

Putting everything together, the disappointing reality of logic—when faced with spirituality—is clearly evidence that when we live solely from our intellect, the disappointment is grave enough to undermine our intrinsic sense of purpose; evidence of the cogent veracity of faith. By living in the faith of Jesus, we can know with certainty the reality of our personal relationship with Jesus by the way we actively seek and pursue transformation from within our spirit; His love overcoming our selfishness; His humility undermining our pride by exposing it to His divine presence; His omnipresence refocusing our loneliness on His unceasing attention to our deepest needs, and His invitation for us to be known and to belong within a community of people who live, serve, and love each other by His grace.

A SUBTLE FORM OF PRIDE

Logic cannot make sense of this reality or its process, nor can it emanate the hope faith naturally exhales into our souls. To live from reason and logic is to live within limited means of our full potential. What’s more detrimentally true is how living within these limited means keeps us believing we can love each other selflessly based on a goodness we already have; one of our more subtle forms of pride. There is no form of selfless love we are capable of perceiving or extending without the grace God. To claim any credit is to turn away from the goodness of God and to claim ourselves worthy without first receiving salvation; an irreversible dichotomy we cannot win. This is why Christianity is a life-long lesson in delayed gratification as much as it is a walk of humility: One cannot live with faith in Christ without first being humbled into the subservience of the God who sacrificed Him. Concordantly, one cannot patiently wait in anticipation of the undeserved reward of Heaven without first receiving the blessing of humility to desire it without boastfulness in the first place. 

SHARING JESUS WITH THE WORLD

We ask ourselves the painful questions surrounding the reality of professed believers who end their own lives. In response, what we can take away is the importance of sharing the truth of Jesus with the world. Not everyone’s eyes will open, not all ears will hear, but that cannot stop us from sharing the Word of God with the whole world. Christians will know they are believers when they seek Jesus above all else. One cannot mistake His voice; the sheep know their shepherd’s voice (John 10:27). When we hear Jesus calling, we open the door and let Jesus in to eat with us, and us with Him (Revelations 3:20). If we never hear the call, we never knew Him. Let this be a reminder to all who believe, just how pivotal it is that we are not only a living example of Jesus with our actions, but that we also take seriously the importance of inviting Jesus into our public conversations. Jesus Christ is still relevant because the Word of Truth is alive, and also because of word of mouth. We share Him, and people will receive Him while still others don’t. But this isn’t our decision whether or not someone will hear Jesus’s call. We are called to be obedient unto Christ, and that is the command we are to follow. Let others see the Truth and witness His power in our words and actions, and may He who gives us a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26) soften theirs towards Him as well, in Jesus name. 

LET’S CONNECT

If you resonated with this article and would like to read more, please follow this blog, and please share this with anyone. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at LPBlog2017, Pinterest at Lance Price Blog 2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please feel free to leave your thoughts or any questions you may have in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you. God bless you, readers!

Shared at the following: Grace and Truth

Lifestyle

How Faith In God Makes Sense Of Our Pain

When I lost all hope following my parents divorce, my scarce understanding of God miscommunicated my need for Him. In turn, I put my hope in all the wrong places; where pleasure I received was tangible but not eternal; where love was lusted but not grounded; where joy wasn’t joy, but instead was the duplicitous mirage of permanent Earthly bliss.

UNAVOIDABLE CRISIS 

I longed for connection, but the very picture of connection had been convoluted and misshapen by the brokenness of my family’s divorce. Relationship lost its identity and I was redefining it for myself amidst an internal trauma that was as punitive as it was inevitable. The trauma incurred an internal crisis at 11-12 years old which subconsciously renegotiated the first 10 years of my life as I tried to make sense of the sudden thrust of painful change and coercive emotional agony. My thoughts were looking back instead of forward, hoping to aid my past in keeping my present from completely dilapidating. But the longer the present continued pulling me forward, the more narrow my hope became that my past had a chance of surviving the excruciating present. When my motivation to retain the past was exhausted, I couldn’t handle the pressure of such a threat, and that is when my picture of intimacy, closeness, security, and safety was crushed into despair. There was no place in the back of my mind where I felt I could hide my hope because I understood there was no going back to what was, and understanding that merely procured more hopelessness. 

FALSE IDENTITY IN HINDSIGHT

Looking back as a 29-year-old man, I understand my parents’ divorce does not define my life. What I can admit however, in honesty, is that my parents’ divorce was a turning point for me as a human being. What I mean by that is that as a boy becoming a man—and as a boy interpreting the emotional incursions of divorce into the reality that is life—I came to understand that what defines a person is what material we’re made out of. After moving to college, I came to unavoidably experience internally and what I was not made out of. I was not made of internal strength, will power, any kind of belief system, or some image the world made of me. My mind had realized that my exterior had all along been a concoction of external influence, peer pressure, and the desire to people-please. But that was all a facade, not my identity. During my two-year stint in Florida, I learned so much about what I had been holding up in front of me for so many years, and I came to understand more clearly how heavy it was to hold up something that had never been me to begin with. You see, in my mind, my identity had begun with my parents’ divorce because my mind had overwritten the first ten years and redefined who I was based on the newfound pain. That was my premature response to dealing with trauma when I was doing everything I could to refuse the reality taking shape. Moving to California after that helped discover the next piece of the puzzle in finding myself. 

THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD

Realizing who we aren’t is no one’s epilogue; it is merely a cliff note alluding to the cantankerous reality that is human life in a corrupted world. Realizing who we are, on the other hand, is the body of our story on Earth. This is what I came to understand after I left Florida and found myself in California. 

Jesus Christ is my Lord and my best friend. But I didn’t know that until I moved to California and felt His presence come alive in me. If you’re wondering what that feels like, I can’t promise you that what it felt like then and what it feels like for me today is what it would feel like for you. God’s presence is like so many things. For me, it’s like wiping the dust and dirt off of my glasses and my eyes and peering into the world without distraction or filter. His presence feels like clarity, the way it feels to look out a window into a brutal rainstorm to witness what the beauty of danger looks like without being harmed. His presence brings satisfaction to the soul even if it doesn’t bring complacency to the body. God’s presence reveals the beauty behind everything, even disaster, and it opens my eyes to witness the majesty that is behind His creation: His fingerprint, His signature; His love. 

OUR PAST IS A VEIL TO THE PURPOSE OF OUR LIVES

The reason why it’s important to keep the past in mind is to understand as a witness the way God works through pain, suffering, challenge, trauma, adversity, confusion, and doubt. But the past isn’t the dictionary of our soul; our past is the veil in which, when removed, reveals the true beauty in believing there is more to this life and its agonies than merely leaving the veil draped, mystifying the purpose for why we’re here. We’re not here to hold up facades or to be defined by our pain; we are here to learn, understand and receive how God works, speaks, and lives in our hearts—that even in every moment of Earthly pain—with Jesus, we hold a higher purpose through our pain. 

Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone’s past plays a significant role in the way we choose to move forward. The problem is, we cannot move forward if we choose to live in the past. This is why hindsight is a blessing: We’re able to look into the past to remember why our present is so important. The past isn’t meant for dwelling, but rather it is meant to be a reference point for improvement. Our pain is a way of reminding us why we wouldn’t want to make the same mistakes again. Even doubt rather than belief is significant in pointing out to ourselves why we are skeptical about one thing but more open or receptive to another. The veil of disbelief, for example, covers over not only our lack of belief, but over our ability to witness meaning in life beyond the value we place on our jobs, marriages, or families. When we live for these things, we depend on them for our happiness. But these things will always disappoint, sooner or later, causing us pain. This is the veil of skepticism at its worst. When we must objectify the meaning of our life to circumstance, we have forgotten purpose altogether, disparaging our present by declaring that our every breath is as meaningless as the pointless suffering we must battle stoically without belief that our suffering happens for a reason. In other words, if we depend on circumstance rather than hope and purpose in something beyond this life and this moment, then we set ourselves up for disappointment, constantly pleading for our present to live up to an expectation that it could never achieve.

THERE IS ONLY HOPE, THERE IS ONLY NOW

This is life when our past controls us, when we refuse to learn from the pain of our past rather than use the pain to clarify our present and cling to a reality that no longer exists. This is disbelief in the face of a world that contends a purposeful life—where God uses our greatest hopes to help us reap the benefits of growing through the pain in what we experience—above a life where circumstance will never live up to our hopes or fantasies. Here, we let go of the acrimony of the past and cling to the hope that God instills through strengthening us in His love. Here, we experience His presence and come to know Him not only through Scripture, but through personal testimony, prayer, community, nature, and the actual sensations in our heart and spirit reminding us that not only are we not alone, but that our pain is but a means of growing closer to God by seeking intimacy in the presence of His grace, love, mercy, and compassion.

I am not my parents’ divorce, one of the most painful experiences of my existence. You, too, are not your worst pain. Through Christ, we are made stronger because of our pain and through our pain, and our Lord God promises we will never be alone, nor will we ever be forsaken (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Be encouraged with this truth, and remade with this promise, in Jesus name.

LET’S CONNECT

If you enjoyed reading this article and would like to read more, please follow this blog, and please share this with anyone. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at LPBlog2017, Pinterest at Lance Price Blog 2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. If you have any questions or thoughts, please share them with me in the comments below. May God bless you today

Conquer

The Origins Of Identity: Understanding Loyalty

Before sentience and pleasure, and before dissension or agreement, there is the denudation of offense and the understanding of character. Simply put, there is identity. Let me explain.

The reason why who we are behind closed doors is so important is because what we do and what we think while no one is watching defines the viability of our loyalty. And why is loyalty so important? A person’s loyalty explains a great deal; such as why a person cares to please, entertain, or to serve “Bob” and not “Sam”. Having a reason for this requires the person being served to be well worth such a commitment. If behind closed doors we cheat on the person whom we claim loyalty to, our choice to renege speaks degradingly low of the person we claim loyalty towards, as well as ourselves. This cheapness of character labels the cheater a hypocrite and liar. Question is, what gives these labels their power? Let’s dig deeper. 

Power derives of respect, admiration, and even appreciation. Therefore our disloyalty would cloud the picture of what we claim to be admirable and respectable, and in turn, poisoning the picture others have of our ability to choose wisely and with careful consideration who or what we are loyal to. To society, disloyalty may represent a shortcoming, a foible, a flaw—the flaw of our ineptitude, our immaturity as a human being, and the inability to understand the significance of the power of loyalty in the eyes of a society seeking to trust an individual’s skill in choosing who to give loyalty to. 

Admiration for and the appreciation of money, may, for example, appear normal to a society desperate to pay its bills and evade financial burdens. But seeking money above all else is idolatry. Even writing that may strike a chord with some readers because those words may appear to claim that the desire for money is automatically a bad thing. But that isn’t what I’m saying, nor is that my point. What I am saying is that the desire for money is normal and appropriate when it is controlled. By controlled I mean there is a goal involved with the attaining of money. In other words, money doesn’t become the goal, money is simply a part of the plan, but not the reward itself. For example, the goal could be to buy a car, and money is needed to buy a car. In this instance, money isn’t the goal, the car is. Perhaps for you, a house is the goal. Once again, money is required, but it is not the goal. See the difference? What this point illustrates is that when people do what they do in order to get more money just to get more money, money is their goal; their idol. 

There are many things in this world people can get attached to, and without these things, they either forget who they are, or never came to truly know themselves to begin with. The question then becomes: Why is this important? 

When we become obsessive and idolatrous over Earthly things, we lose sight of our purpose—if we were ever made aware of something as meaningful as purpose to begin with. For many people, purpose is not a theme or concept that was ever invited into their mind or spirit; they learned their habits only because they were never fulfilled with anything more significant in their life. Their role models and peers were not so ambitious as to understand the significance of encouraging them to discover their unique purpose, nor believing in one of their own. When we learn from people without passion in life, purpose is less than a consideration, and without purpose, who are we? Now we’re getting somewhere.

All of our habits (habits like wanting money just for the sake of having more, like I mentioned above), once formed, can become a person’s definition, and certainly these habits can replace our loyalty to someone or something else. For instance, we would have little or no time for personal relationship with close friends if we were preoccupied with drunkenness, intoxication, under the influence of the psychedelic high of drugs, or unconscious. What we want isn’t to not exist, but to exist fully. Why is any of this important? How does this relate to our identity? How do we know what our identity is?

When we strongly consider our loyalty towards people and the fear we have of being caught (for those who don’t trust themselves), the question of our identity behind closed doors must finish by asking: Whose approval are we replacing with society’s?

We prove it to ourselves how we seek the approval of others if we are afraid of being caught—otherwise there would be nothing to worry about “being caught” with. Loyalty couldn’t retain any power if the approval of people weren’t the bricks in the wall. But in this flow of thoughts, we have sidestepped where loyalty’s origins begin. Truly, we haven’t yet perused the most intricate etching of this concept. The most essential etching of them all is how we put all of this energy and commitment, loyalty and admiration into the world, its things, but we many times forget that before any of us makes the first decision to try a drug, an alcoholic drink (with the intention to get drunk), to lose our virginity, or to allow our body to become invaded with foreign toxins—we have our identity given to us by God. Sometimes this truth causes dissension and provokes people to back away because life appears easier without what seems to be the complication of faith. However, this identity given to us is why morality stings when we make the choice we sense is wrong. This is what begs us to want a friend around when we reach for that bottle of liquor—we want the intimacy (even if the intimacy we want is distorted by the involvement of substance abuse) but we are unaware of how loved we are before we even picked up the bottle. We are loved before we inhale the toxins. We don’t realize we’re desperate for an intimacy beyond sharing toxins and transient, meaningless pleasures with others. The truth is that we take on all these habits to escape because we are unaware of—or placing doubt in—the reality of God. When we are unaware of God, we replace His missing piece with as many pieces as we can find to fit into the size of His void.

What does that tell us about how many habits we feel the need to pick up in order to replace God? 

When we discover smoking, drinking, coitus, or even video games, we find all these things to fill our souls with: Exposure to drug abuse, the flooding rush of dopamine through sex, the entertainment of video games and the fuzzy sensations of drunkenness. The sad truth is that so many people are unaware that this is the process we fall prey to. We pledge our allegiance—that is, our loyalty, which innately belongs to relationship with God the Father through Jesus His son—to these ephemeral experiences because what only God can do, so many countless transient Earthly pleasures must try over and over again, repetitively, to replace. Even with such adamant consistency, these experiences aren’t satisfying: We need them over and over again to remind us (yet they never do so adequately)—otherwise, we’d have our fill. But with God, we pour our desires into Him, we talk to Him, worship Him, read about Him, listen to Him, and desire HIM above all else, and what happens is that all these pointless desires fall away; games may remain fun, but only in small spurts of times; alcohol retains its unique taste for pleasure (even Jesus created barrels of wine! His first miracle—John 2:1-11), but it will not seem worthwhile to become drunk (which is spoken against in the Bible—Galataians 5:21)—and sex becomes special and unique to a marriage relationship blessed under God—not just a promiscuous act of copulation between two emotionally uninvolved strangers seeking anonymous pleasure.

From this article, what I want for you to take away is how loyalty doesn’t start with people, but with God; that God is good, and that all of our experiences from this world could never add up to the thrill, excitement, passion, and purpose of relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I tried this for most of my life—my loyalty was misguided. In fact, for most of my life, I denied Him His existence entirely. Through disbelief, I tried living a life where the only places left to place loyalty were lust, music, and movies (depending on music to influence my character, movie characters to inspire me to be who I am, and lusting after women to keep me impassioned for life) instead of placing all of my loyalty in Jesus as Lord—who is more than capable of doing all three at once! Now I journey after God’s heart to inspire me to be a better man, I declare His will above my own because I trust what He wants is better for me than anything I could never conjure up in my wildest dreams—and I believe patience in His will for me will outweigh every disappointment I’ve ever encountered while trying to search for short-lived pleasures in my past. I’m forever convinced that purpose in Jesus is more fulfilling than any other worldly distraction, and I would love to see others come to understand the difference as well. That is my reason for writing this article and for having a blog at all. I want you to understand how we can find our identity in Christ and discover all that we long for by loving Him above all other things. When we put God first, He lifts us up and blesses us more than we could hope for, and the experience of this lifestyle is more satisfying than you could imagine unless you embrace it for yourself. 

If you like what you’ve read here, and you would like to read more, please follow my blog and pass word along. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at lpblog2017 , or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please feel free to share this with anyone you think would benefit, and feel free to write in the comments below–I would love to hear from you! May God bless you!

Replacement

Faith, Fairy Tales, & Our Ultimate Reality

Just as the broken heart takes time to heal, the lost soul takes time to acknowledge the light; understanding that the light even existed in order to believe it was ever in darkness.

When we live a certain way for long enough, sometimes we tend to believe our perspective encompasses all others’ reality. Put differently, some people tend to believe their reality is the one everyone sees and lives inside of. Because of this, we argue over perspectives because we believe ours so earnestly. 

One of the perspectives we have are made up of the concept of spirituality and the soul. An atheist’s perspective is that there is no God, no soul, no Heaven or Hell; no such thing as sin and, for that matter—no need for redemption. Since these factors don’t add up, they don’t make a lot of sense to the unbeliever, whose disbelief stunts open-mindedness and leads to a nihilistic viewpoint, rendering everything as pointless and ultimately culminating in death. With nothing further to look forward to or anything to put their hope in, they live passionless lives and argue over the idea of a loving God because, to the unbeliever, death and meaninglessness make more sense for human life without a soul. This is their reality.

One of the many arguments of the atheist, following the derivations of disbelief, is that the perspective of those who have faith have become believers by the process of convincing themselves of an unnatural reality— that basically, after we tell ourselves enough times that we believe in Jesus, that eventually we just feel convinced by our own words; like a spiritual mantra to rev up our spirit. Many believe that once you repeat something (whether an action or a phrase), it becomes habitual the way anything does through repetition; like a child learning to speak by consistently repeating syllables until words are correctly articulated. Similar to speech and children, adults also develop habits. In this case, our spiritual “articulations” might be considered our strength of faith—since this particular articulation requires faith in order to believe it even exists. The question then becomes: How is teaching someone to have faith different from teaching someone how to put on clothes, chew and swallow; rinse, dry, and repeat? Let’s take a step back to view the bigger picture, and discover the difference together.

Outwardly, learning to speak or to wash dishes can be as mechanical as it is physical; repetition teaches the body, and the movement eventually gains momentum, the rhythmic motion guiding the continuity more than the thinking brain. Eventually, the new reality for the young child is that their speech has become as natural as it is for adults. Of course, by that time, this “new” reality for the children as been the reality for adults for many years. This “advanced” ability of adults to speak has become their reality. 

Unlike the mechanical repetition of an activity like learning to speak, spirituality is not developed by the any repetitive motion of our arms or hands (apart from expressing worship and praise), but with the desire of our heart and soul. How can we train what we cannot touch or see? What kind of push is needed to start the rhythm for the momentum of spirituality? 

The push of spirituality is the desire for which reason alone cannot explain nor be understood by empiricism or pragmatism; an intense desire which is grasped by the soul’s indisputable need for and search of purpose. The soul is an eternality transcending beyond the physical threshold of pain and suffering, of life and death, and when we recognize and acknowledge this reality of the soul for its truth, we will discover that the desire of the soul is the foundation of our purpose, laid in place by the love of Christ before we were even born. To break this down, the push we yearn for—we might call it the “articulation of faith”—can only be found by the heart after it is willing to recognize how worldly remedies (like Band-Aids on a hemorrhage; sex, drugs, alcohol, food, obsessions, addictions— all in the face of circumstantial pain in life) only mitigate our pain without extirpating the source of trauma (the cause of initial pain) with forgiveness, surrender, and restoration. Basically, when we realize what we’ve already tried doesn’t work, we will dig deeper for answers; the deeper we dig, the closer to the truth of the soul we get.

From our soul spawns desire, longings beyond mere food and shelter. We long for something more meaningful and transcendent of our daily rituals. These desires come to us in the earliest shell of childhood where our most precocious dreams of conquering the world and living happily ever after are developed. As adults, we refer to this world of “happily-ever-after” as a fairy tale, and we tend to label a child as naive or innocent for believing in such a la-la land. Why? Fairy tales are typically based in a reality without pain, suffering, malady, or death, are they not? They bring to life for the child what is in their mind, but also, I believe, what is in their soul.

For the boy, fairy tales are his means of transforming into a knight in shining armor, saving the damsel in distress, conquering the world, and changing life forever. For the girl, the story may be finding prince charming, being swept off her feet, and living of life of bliss and harmony. Are these “fictitious” realities not based from the desires of a child’s heart and soul? They truly desire these tales of fantasy. So what is this story, this place, of fairy tales in a child’s mind?

Let’s take a small step back to understand. Of the many fantasies of a child’s mind, relationship is rudimentary but prominent. For the child, the image of relationship isn’t imbued with sexuality or romance, not until years later. However, what becomes of a child’s imagination with regard to relationship later on will vary depending on the direction of those thoughts as influenced from outside sources along the way. Marriage and romance is, and always has been intended to remind us of our intimacy with God; the marriage of Jesus and the church. For the child-becoming adolescent in a non-Christian home where belief in Jesus isn’t talked about, read about, or encouraged—the marriage relationship becomes a fantasy of selfish infatuation; the seed to the desire for pornography, promiscuous sex, and other distortions are planted with or without awareness of such a convolution of true intimacy.

However, when these tales are completed with the pursuit of Christ in our hearts, this relationship is molded not only around our relationship with Christ, but to the place of bliss and harmony described in child-like fairy tales manifests as a new reality, inspired by Jesus Himself as an actual, physical place called Heaven in the Bible (Rev. 21:4, John 14:2, 1 Corin. 2:9, Rev. 22:1-5, Luke 12:33-34, Rev. 21:22-27, Rev. 21: 1-5, and more—). When we leave Jesus out of our reality, our fairy tales of “love and romance” eventually drown in the ocean of lust and infatuation” (reference my article: “Lust: The Darkest Lie About Love“); but when we desire Jesus, our desire for relationship is not founded in lust, but in unconditionally loving another person through our love for Jesus. Reiterated, these fairy tales which start out with the child-like perspective of what romantic relationships represent, eventually mature and parallel our desire for the Lord, complemented by (but not replacing) marriage to a significant other (For more on the desires of the heart, please find two great reads in John Eldredge’s Wild At Heart, as well and John and Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating).

If we have faith in Heaven, and if we can recognize our desires are rooted in Heaven, then what comes next is that our soul originates in Heaven. Would it not follow-suit that these “child-like” fairy tales stem directly from the desire for this place where we were created?

See, the promises of Jesus Christ culminate in a world without fear, pain, suffering, shame, death, or tears. Does this not sound like that of a fairy tale? Furthermore, Jesus Himself told us that we must be like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). For me, this includes the ability of a child to see past the darknesses of this world and to hope for something greater. Is this not what Christ-followers believe in when they accept Jesus as Lord and experience the joy of desiring Heaven on Earth? Does that mean we believe in a fairy tale (fictitious realties), or a tangible, Heavenly reality barely comprehensible to that of the human mind? 

To connect the dots, the difference between teaching the practice of learning to speak (or even brushing their teeth, cleaning the dishes, etc.), and the significance of having faith in God obviously extends beyond the mechanics of physicality and breaches into the metaphysical nature of spirituality; more specifically, the nature of desiring what we cannot touch, but what we can sense, desire, and come to understand through time, experience, and belief. Put more simply, the difference lies in the desires of the soul. In one example the soul is held captive in the stubbornness of illogical disbelief (raised without the invitation to know Christ), and in the other it is extended ever so slowly from skepticism until entirely entrenched in the flood of peace and the ever-transforming nature of faith. 

Let’s be open with each other. Do we want to believe in a reality that is inching closer on the eve of Jesus’s Second Coming—inspiring us to experience a hope this world is incapable of offering? I do. My Christ-following friends do. But I also know many, many people who view the story of Jesus and scoff as if considering the idea of the tooth fairy. I understand that scoff very well. When I disbelieved, I scoffed at everything spiritual. I also scoffed at my deprecation in not having a passion for life; in not feeling or sensing a purpose in my life. I didn’t even want to live. Without any passion, life was meaningless—again, like nihilism. For me, passion is commensurate with faith, because without faith, our endeavors—passions, desires, goals—are rooted in narcissism, where purpose dies and selfishness suffocates the meaning of friendship, community, intimacy, and purpose. In order to live like this, we would have to accept the stubbornness of adulthood while forgetting the open-mindedness of maturity. In this way, I would say children are in fact more mature than adults in that they are able to place hope where others search for a reason to doubt; children find light where others refuse to seek what lies beyond the darkness—into the reality of Jesus’s love for us. 

Where are you today? Do you believe faith in Jesus and life in Heaven is more of a fairy tale than a reality that is possible when declaring Jesus as Lord in your heart? If you don’t believe that this is a possible reality, what is holding you back from wanting to believe in such an inspiring place, and the possibility of living there forever? How does the picture of living in Heaven impact the way you view pain, life, and death on Earth? How does knowing that Jesus died and rose for you so you could live a changed, shameless life impact the way you view His commands to love God, others, and ourselves through our words and actions? How do you think your purpose is affected by these commands? How does all of this play back to your soul and the way you feel towards your life?

My hope is that this article helps you to see that you must desire faith to find purpose in Jesus, and that repetition doesn’t teach faith as it does the method of practices such as washing dishes, brushing our teeth, or learning to speak. Faith requires us to desire the pursuit of our God-given purpose, and our pursuit requires us to believe in a soul, because without our soul, our “purposes” are rooted in narcissism. In realizing this, we can choose to change our ways and live selflessly in the name of Jesus, impacting others’ lives for the best in Jesus’s name; or continue to live the same lives, allowing others to see us the same way they see the rest of the world. So, do you want to make difference, or just fit in? All of these choices draw us back to whether or not we believe in our soul purpose. I hope you join me in passionately pursuing Jesus, aiming to change the world with His love running through our veins, emanating through our thoughts, words, actions, desires, and adventures. There is so much to be done.

Where does your faith look like today? 

If you like what you’ve read here, and you would like to read more, please follow my blog and pass word along. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LPBlog2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please share this with anyone, and feel free to write in the comments below–I would love to hear from you! May God bless you!!

Invitation

Hedonism In A World Transformed By Christ

Christianity is a walk of faith, and a life-long lesson in delayed gratification. In this life, we are given the choice to either indulge in hedonism and selfish pursuits or to surrender our desires and embrace the life God provides us. In order to fully receive God’s blessings, of course, we must surrender our selfish desires and reallocate our energy on our faith. The very thought of surrender can be daunting because it is much easier to pursue a life where we get what we want—but that is the foundation of hedonism, is it not? 

OUR FEAR OF SURRENDER

What seems threatening about surrender is that we are afraid we will never feel satisfied if our personal desires aren’t fulfilled, but that is a lie of the Devil. The truth is that the life God has planned for us is far richer and more fulfilling than all of our desires. How do I know? From my personal experience, I lived most of my life burrowed in selfish pursuits as an unbeliever, and when I finally began understanding the basics of surrendering to God, my life radically changed in ways directly related to the choice to surrender. For example, surrendering my desire to be well-received by everyone in order to receive the love and acceptance of God means understanding the world’s point of view is based on ego and identity, whereas God’s point of view is based on love. The difference of this example alone has helped me see and to embrace that my identity was forged long before I was born, and when I realize what it was intended to be, the way I express myself is much more influential and authentic than the way I express myself when who I am trying to be is a conglomeration of facades I’ve gathered from what the world likes to see.

THE IPOD STORY

For many years, I had an iPod Nano, I would listen to music in the car and during my walks, gathering thoughts for future blog posts, song lyrics, or just zoning out. My iPod was very important to me, and I used it just about every day; obviously, my desire was for my iPod. Sure, the songs I listened to included some Christian songs, but for the most part, rock and soundtrack music flooded my iPod. What’s important about telling this story is how heavily swayed to continue listening to the music without realizing the impact it was having on me: Unnoticeable to me was the truth that I was feeling frustrated, negative, and upset more frequently.

Well, recently, that iPod broke, and ironically, I did not get very upset, and I’ll tell you why: I was being humbled by Christ Himself, lovingly reminding me that I had not been using music to glorify Him or to build my confidence in my faith, and, furthermore—I had been going through a period in my life when I needed God more deeply (there is never a time when I don’t need God, but to be honest, this period of my life made me feel more desperate for His love). Since I was using my iPod abusively, I believe God allowed the iPod to break so that I would be forced to spend time in the car (and out walking) praying, listening, and practicing presence. Ever since the incident with the iPod occurred and I haven’t had music to give me company, I must admit that the difference has been humbling, sobering, and it certainly has had a positive impact on my faith life.

MUSIC IS A TOOL FOR WORSHIP

Sure, in some version of a perfect world, my iPod would be working, and I’d be listening to my music constantly while on the go. But, is that really a perfect world? If I’m being honest, viewing music so highly is tantamount to worshipping music, rather than using music to worship Christ. Music comes from God, and when I abuse His gift of music, I abuse my ability to sense God inside the songs I listen to. When I listen to music without remembering Christ, I abuse its purpose. Worse yet, when I glorify music instead of God, I misplace the importance of God with the importance of one of His gifts—and I believe that is why the incident happened with my iPod.  

While music is truly a beautiful invention, it is not God; but merely only an extension of Him. Is there something in your life that acts in the way my iPod did for me? Are you holding a gift of God above God? Are you able to worship God while using His gifts? If not, do you think that’s helping you to see Him as a loving God? When we’re unable to witness God in the blessings of life, it is not because He’s not blessing us, but because we are not perceiving His blessings for what they are. It takes one to extend their hand with a gift, but it takes another to take the gift and be thankful for the giver’s generosity. God gives us so much; food, shelter, water, relationship, cars, jobs, money, music—and so many times we receive these without any thanks, using our gifts while ignoring the Giver.

This isn’t intended to be a statement about thanksgiving, albeit that is a point which could be made—rather, this is a point more about the nature of worshipping God, and not the gifts of God. Where do we extend our worship? Do we worship sex, drugs, power, identity, relationships, alcohol, music, the internet? These are all things which can be worshipped, and none of them are God. 

A REMINDER OF HOPE

In this world, the pace and speed of life is ever increasing, and the challenge for the Christ-follower is needing to be constantly reminded to keep their faith in the hope of Jesus. When we surrender to the name of Jesus, we let go of all the things in our lives we could be worshipping instead of Jesus by releasing our grip from the desires in our heart. Since desire begins in the heart, it is from there that it must be surrendered. Surrender is a physical, mental, and spiritual release. When we release one thing, we grab another; in releasing our selfish desires, we must cling to the hope of Jesus by having faith in His promise that He has delivered us from Hell, providing a way into Heaven; an eternity without pain, death, suffering, loneliness, malady, or disease. When we place our faith in this hope, the hope itself nourishes our soul with humility, replacing the impulse for our selfish desires to be met, and in their place, we are replenished with the desire to be filled with joy, peace, hope, love, grace, and forgiveness—gifts of the love of Jesus. This is why I say Christianity is a life-long lesson in delayed gratification: We believe so strongly in the Word of God—Jesus, Himself, and His promise of redemption—that we live our whole lives in the hope and faith of seeing Him when we die, surrendering our selfish desires for our lifetime here on Earth, knowing He will fill them with something far greater.

For many, the notion of surrender sounds like a threat because they disbelieve in the promising hope of Christ. In our hope for Christ, we find reason to love unconditionally, to give generously, and to believe whole-heartedly. Without Christ, our hope is founded in the transient pleasures of a corrupted world. The world has a set of rules by which loving others adheres to, and to extend beyond these rules is to beg for judgment and condemnation (i.e. unconditional love versus expectation and disappointment). When Jesus came into the world, He set a new example for how the world can love: By dying on the cross while we were still sinners, He rescinded all our excuses to be phlegmatic about love. We can no longer explain away narcissism without first identifying its purpose by comparing it to Christ-like love; whereas the selfishness of narcissism lives for itself in harmony with hedonism, Christ dying and rising again opened the possibility for humanity to live in the embrace of the unconditional love of the Heavenly Father, through the most selfless, altruistic act given as a gift to the world; for all generations past, and all generations to come. Jesus became the epitome of altruism and the prime example of love, and when we try to excuse our selfishness, we must speak to the cross itself, for no example raises higher than Jesus’ choice to suffer for us. 

When we surrender, we surrender our desires in the faith of attaining Jesus’ promise of eternal life with Him. Not hope as in, “We’re not sure, but maybe,”—no. Hope as in, “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we know that what’s coming will be glorious.” Our hope in Christ isn’t some figment of “perhaps one day,” but rather, “only a matter of time.” The hope Christ offers is absolute, promising, and real. 

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE

Is there anything left in your life you haven’t surrendered that is keeping you from embracing God’s promise for you? Are you ready to take one step closer to Jesus and make a bold choice in surrendering any idols you’re worshiping which do not exult Jesus’ name–but instead, exult the propensities of a broken world? These are tough questions because they require more than just a “yes” or “no”—they require action. Don’t just think about these questions—apply them to your life. Where could you strip away parts of the world from who you are to leave room for Jesus to fill you up with peace, joy, and humility; hope in the eternal, painless, deathless future with God Himself? 

My prayer for you is that Godly humility will overcome you, and that His strength of spirit would remind you that you are not alone; you are never alone. God is with you always, and He desires to embrace you with His unconditional love. If you’d like to receive His gift of love through Jesus Christ, you can take that step by surrendering what’s holding you back from worshipping Him. I was worshipping music too much, and barely even Christian music! What kind of surrender will help you feel God’s love today? Ask yourself, and follow through by trusting in the process of surrender. Transformation starts inside. You can say “yes” and think “no” all day and never move. Instead, say yes, then get up and do something about it. Take action, surrender the world and receive God’s promise of love through Jesus. Truly, this will be the single greatest lesson in humility you will ever learn, for it will be a daily reminder of Jesus in your life.  

May God bless you as you go forward today! To read more, please follow this blog. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LancePrice2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please share this with anyone you think would benefit, and feel free to write in the comments below—I would love to hear from you! God bless you!! May He meet you where you are and encourage you with His love, in Jesus name. 

Tough Questions

Letting God be God: The Eternal Soul Vs. Awareness

If we reach deep down into empathy, we understand pain.

When we understand pain, we seek healing at its root cause. When pain is physical, we know to locate the damage and address the wound with bandages or stitches, aiding the body’s recovery process; when the pain is intangible, such as spiritual, mental, or emotional, however—the nature of bandaging the wound changes. Once we understand the difference between physical and mental/spiritual/emotional damage, we can better understand the different nuances of healing. Taking a step further, once we understand the different nuances of healing, we can explicate the depths of human life which expose us to the veracity of the soul. And, finally, if we can understand the significance of the soul, we can shift our perspective about the concepts of pain, loss, and healing.

One of my fondest memories is that of pain. We’ve all gotten to know pain all too well. It’s a friend of ours that we didn’t ask to be introduced to, but inevitably were brought face-to-face with, regardless. 

I’ve experienced all kinds of pain: Depression, anxiety, heartache, weakness of body, soreness of muscles, and energy loss. I’m sure you have a list as well. When we look at our lists, we tend to look at them through the lens that we have suffered, and we desire restoration in place of detriment, inconvenience, hardship, and stress. We view loss of life as extremely painful because we desire to make fond memories with those we love for as long as they’re alive; when they pass, our memory-making ends, and a void is left which we fills our hearts with sorrow and pain. After so much loss, we just about crave any perfected formula to find healing from the pain.

Scientists have been studying the human design for a long time, and one of the most recent studies cover the science of human consciousness. What I find to be marveled through these findings is the way scientific technology has allowed the ability to understand consciousness so well as to be able to construct consciousness from ingredients; the liking of concocting a gourmet meal from multifarious ingredients—but with science, we’re referring to enzymes and the substances which give life the process it needs to develop. What not all scientists study, on the other hand, is the difference between the consciousness and the soul. Let’s say they create consciousness, since we’ve advanced so heavily in our technological generation—but then we come to realize our consciousness is limited. How so? Well, what is consciousness? If you break it down a little, consciousness is basically awareness of the self and its surroundings. What is the soul then, you ask?

In the most basic terms, the soul is the spiritual and immaterial being inside of each of us. If consciousness is awareness, then our soul is our lifeline. Putting it into a picture, even if our heart stops beating, our soul moves on into another dimension of existence. If you are a pantheist, you believe the soul becomes one with everything, since you believe the entire universe is equivalent to God. If you’re a Christ-follower, then you believe our souls go to Heaven or Hell, depending on the state of faith of the person’s soul. If you are an atheist or agnostic, you’re either unsure of where we go or what happens, because you can’t make up your mind with a definitive answer; or, you believe when we die, we just die, and that’s it. End of story. Personally, as a Christian, I believe there is a Heaven and Hell to go to when we die, and the only factor that makes any difference in where we go is whether or not we’ve accepted Jesus Christ into our heart. So, what does this have to do with consciousness?

Turning back to the point about scientists’ most recent studies of consciousness, or awareness, we can remark with pride that the steps we’ve taken on the scale of evolution have certainly gone to great heights. That said, evolution—as may be where we think the credit is earned—completely sidesteps a significant point that no evolutionary advantage could ever evince: the soul. Scientists may have found the way to create human consciousness, but consciousness is not spiritual material, and therefore it does not have what provides human life its fullest measure of existence. Put simply, we cannot claim to have reached a monumental achievement in science’s ability to create life when the life it creates is soulless.  

Only God creates the soul; we have not the skill nor the creativity to innovate such a complex, intricate, and eternal entity. No operating machine could create that which is intangible and without formula; science needs a method, an equation for experimentation—but the human soul is a gift from God: He creates souls, and He makes the ingredients. He may have been generous enough to allow scientists the discovery of what it takes to generate organic consciousness, but perhaps there’s a reason He keeps the blueprint of soul creation out of human reach. History tells us what happens when humans try to play God. All we see is the aftershock of human pride, greed, and duplicity; man wants to create a being as intelligent and sentient as a human while reluctantly categorizing it as artificial: artificial intelligence—or AI—isn’t anywhere near humanity without a soul.

The soul is the home of morality; consciousness does not know morality—consciousness only knows awareness, remember? When we intermix consciousness with morality, we don’t set up the equation properly, and the end result is inhuman. If we somehow pursue the notion that consciousness knows between right and wrong, we’ve misplaced awareness and intuition for the spiritual discernment between good and bad—right and wrong. When we confuse these two, we think ourselves genius in celebrating the creation of artificial life, when the life form created isn’t alive at all—but only conscious; aware.

As deeply tangible as we want to dig, we will not discover the depths of the origins of the soul while here on Earth. And when we try to recreate parts of humanity, believing we can achieve clones, for instance—the closest we’ll ever get is replicas of limbs; hands, feet, ears, noses, etc.—but never a living, sentient, moral, whole-hearted human being. We may get a brain and a body, but absent the personality— the glow of the soul within. Any personality concocted within a soulless brain would be created from formulas induced by the same science behind AI; they would be predictable, short-sighted, incomplete, and limited to a number of processes within a computer template. God’s creation of the soul, on the other hand, is without bounds or limits; that is why we are eternal after we die. To try to give a body life would only be to give it awareness of its existence, but not fear of lack of purpose, for it would desire none. 

If we are created by God, the source of all spiritual matter, then only from God can a soul with a life come. Humans, try as we may, might have uncovered some of the complex mysteries to a certain extent of what may be referred to as scientific evolution, but we are not meant to achieve more than that. My hope in writing this post is that we will heavily consider how every pain we experience in this life can, will, and should encourage us back to the receiving the love of Jesus—the healer of all pain and the God of restoration, through personal relationship and constant communication with our best friend and Savior. 

I’d like you to ponder the idea that though we may find some healing in this life for our bodies, and only by the grace of God—the only healing we should ever seek for our souls is from God; not from science, evolution, or any other such study or concept. Let our curiosities land on the love, admiration, and awe of the wonders of Christ, and not the fallacy that humans should play God in some way. This will drive us to live off of pride, closing our hearts from living in the hope of a painless eternal future with our Creator. Jesus came to rescue our souls, and when we focus more on our bodies than our spirits, we lose sight of the significance of our purpose which derives from Him, and that forfeits the reason for us to need His love; our one and only reason to exist at all. 

With this said, I will close this article by praying for you that these thoughts and ideas will give you food for thought, and complex ideas for reconsideration about life, healing, pain, and God’s promise to renew our hearts and souls. Science will never emulate God, but we can use it to improve our lives in the ways God divulges—one miracle at a time. If you have any thoughts, questions, concerns, or other remarks you would like to share, I would appreciate hearing them. Please leave a comment below, or fill out a contact form above, and I’ll gladly respond to you. God bless you, and may He meet you in your place of need today. I pray you would feel His love for you, that you would come to know Him more through His love and ubiquitous presence in your life. Lift your face in hope that He is coming for those who have faith in Him! You are not alone today, He is right beside you. May you feel and receive this truth, in Jesus name.

Construct

The Love Of Jesus As Our Joy In Life

What does joy mean to you? For me, joy is defined by hope. My hope for the future comes from my faith in Jesus. Knowing He loves me more than anyone ever could gives me the hope that my future is set in stone; no matter what anyone else says or does to me, His love for me is more important and more valuable.

The time when I find it most difficult to feel joy is when I feel lonely. That’s when I need to reach out and connect with friends who remind me that I matter, and that I’m cared for. Through my Christian friends, I know Jesus cares for me because He places people in my life whose care for me extends from a place beyond themselves. Do you have friends who love you because they are inspired by Jesus’ love to love others? There’s nothing like the love of Jesus; it comes through so many forms, including that of other believers who have faith in His promises.

Years ago, I was resentful towards life, and I found many reasons to complain because I felt unseen by so many people, despite how so many people did actually care for me. I can openly tell you now that that time period was influenced by my atheism. As an unbeliever, I couldn’t find a reason to be thankful or joyful. I was hurt, stubborn, closed-minded, and lonely. The hurt was caused by circumstances in life beyond my control. The stubbornness, the closed-mindedness—those were my choices. Obstinately choosing not to believe in God forced me to put more weight on lust; I wanted romance to fill the part of me that was meant to be sated by God in much, much deeper ways. Naturally, I never found what I was looking for with people because… well, people are not God. Until you believe in the loving God of the Bible, accepting love from others carries a different meaning. I want to elaborate on that difference here because I think the distinction is worth taking a closer look at. Perhaps this perspective will help others to see the importance of faith—not only in one’s own life, but in the relationships of one’s life as affected by faith in Christ.

Being loved by a person feels good. Sex is the one act that brings two people closer together emotionally and physically, and even spiritually; however, love from God is eternal, and is even more compelling and fulfilling than sex. There’s something about the love of God that is so much more powerful and motivating; separate from human love.

Imagine the embrace of a close friend. Hugging them feels good because you know they care about you, and you them. Even more so, kissing a girlfriend, boyfriend; husband or wife also feels very good when you deeply love them and cherish your relationship with them. The love from God is the emotional aspect of these affections, only one-hundred times deeper. Furthermore, the experience of God’s love is spiritual—meaning—the connection is not limited only to the body and mind. While God doesn’t physically hug us (not yet), He loves us in our very souls… forgive me if that sounds cliche or dramatic. What I mean is, God’s love for you and me is so deep that it extends and expands far deeper than the electric signals running from the pores on the surfaces of our skin to our brain, alerting us when we experience the sensations of physical affection, and putting in place the chemicals and pheromones which enable us to feel the connection and build the chemistry of that relationship. That is all how human love works.

God’s love is deeper than that.

If our heart is center of our anatomy, and the part of humanity we connote to as the home of morality–then the soul is the essence of the heart. The soul cannot be found tangibly; the soul is the heart of a person’s existence. The heart may beat, and our body may sense its own physiological existence, but the soul is who we are when our heart beats. Without the soul, a person would be denuded of personality and character—absent of humanity altogether. The soul controls the heart, and the heart affects the soul. In this sense, if God resides in our hearts, and His love affects our souls, imagine how deeply we are designed to feel the love He extends to us. That humbling realization is incredible… at least, it was for me when the difference between human love and godly love became clear. God’s love bypasses all human love. When we try to fill our souls with human love, it never feels like enough. And when our hearts remain unfilled, we feel a lack of joy. I’ve learned, after becoming a Christian, that though we may feel a lack of joy in our hearts, God has always loves us as deeply as we can be loved. But unless someone introduces us to Christ–to God Himself–then we don’t find out how deeply we are loved, nor what that love is capable of doing for our lives. God’s love is what gives us purpose, and our reason to keep going. Without belief in God, joy becomes stripped of its definition and very foundation, undermined by our doubt in what was and is designed for us to live within and for.

Another sad truth about the misperception of the joy of God’s love is when we only hear about Him through the walls of church, where the image of God which gets created  in our mind’s eye is limited to what we read about in the Bible, and what we’re told by the speaker—rather than what is learned by the relationship in our hearts and the connection to God in our souls. We cannot expect a relationship to be built with God if we only learn about Jesus and communicate with Him in church. Our relationship with Him must become a lifestyle in every aspect our lives if we are to experience joy in its fullest measure. True, authentic joy comes not from knowing God exists or knowing Jesus loves us— joy doesn’t come from knowing Jesus died and rose again to save us from an eternity away from Him—joy comes from receiving these gifts into our hearts and feeling the impact in our souls as we believe in and trust in these gifts as gifts, and not just knowledge to imbibe and lose sight of.

Knowledge could never save our souls. But relationship with God can, and it does. Let me give you an example.

Knowing where the key is that unlocks the door which leads to the outside of a trap isn’t what gets you out: taking the key, putting it into the lock, witnessing the key unhinge the lock on the door and experiencing the relief when the door opens, and then walking out into freedom— that gets you out. The love of Christ–the core of the walk of Christianity–does not come from knowing what Jesus did; like reading a study guide and memorizing the answers. Getting out of a joyless life (like a trap) requires us to use the key, not just know about it. Jesus is the key to a joy-full life, where nothing can defeat us but our doubt in ourselves, or losing faith in the power of Christ. When we putting Jesus face-to-face with our adversities, every door is unlocked and every trap is opened before our eyes. He is the answer to everything.

To reiterate this point, if you haven’t experienced the joy of Christ yet, joy cannot be experienced in the fullest measure it was meant to be experienced until you accept Jesus into your heart, unhinging yourself from what you know about Him, to what you experience to be true with Him. Knowledge might help create a mental picture, but believing in and using the correct tools is what provides a way out to freedom itself. Jesus is the key out of our traps, but we must apply Jesus to our hearts in order to get the traps to open and be able to walk out. How badly do you want to experience the freedom and joy of Jesus Christ?

That said, when you have friends who also believe in this, they shine the same truth about Jesus into your life. They will remind you of the key; that you need Jesus to get out of your problems, you need Jesus to heal from your pain, and you need Jesus to surrender to when you’re trying too hard to control your life and end up watching your whole world fall apart. Eventually you’ll realize, with humility, you never had control to begin with. Friends who trust in Christ remind us of this reality, and encourage us, with love, to turn back to Jesus, asking Him for help. They will be willing to pray for us and urge us to also pray to God in faith that the answer will come.

Friends who do not have Jesus will offer everything they can, and that is appreciated. When someone can’t redirect us back to the Source of joy and hope, however, they remind us, without realizing–or perhaps without believing–that out of our own volition, we can overcome anything on our own. Of course, as much as this sounds convenient and possibly encouraging, it is painfully untrue. Acting out of our own will and depending on our own strength will become completely exhausting. Humans aren’t meant to play God; when we do, the world falls down, and we come running back with fists in the air over why it’s so frustrating that life isn’t going our way. Life goes according to the way God allows it to. He won’t control us, but He commands us to depend on Him in order to know where we’re going, since He is the one clearing the path for our next step. Trying to skip ahead only leads to confusion and disappointment. Trusting in Him inspires authentic humility, and closeness to Jesus Christ. Concordantly, the more we trust in Christ, the less anxiety we feel; the less anxiety we feel, the easier it is for us to trust–once again–in Jesus. And so the tale of our lives can go, once we accept and receive in our hearts the promise of God’s love–Jesus–the Source of our joy in life.

How badly do you want to experience this joy? I would love to hear what you think of this concept, and where you are on your journey with regards to this right now. Please feel free to join in this discussion by posting in the comments below. Where are you with regards to your faith in the hope of Jesus as the key to joy in life? Perhaps you’ve never given yourself to Christ before, and it’s not too late to do that now. Or perhaps you don’t want to give yourself yet because you don’t feel ready. Maybe you could talk about that and explain what’s holding you back from faith in Him. I would love to hear where you are now, where you’d like to go, and why. There is no judgment here, only love and understanding. I hope to help you see that the key to all joy and hope is found in relationship to Jesus. There is no other way. I’ve tried—many have—it doesn’t work.

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May God bless you today!!

Liminal