Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Law & Order

When I think of law and order (not the show, but the concept in general) I think of judges, police officers, and other individuals who keep the peace via methods of stopping crime and enforcing punishment. I certainly see other areas of law and order that are far less strict, however in a general sense, this is the picture I paint in my head. Likewise, God keeps order too, and does so in many ways. Yet when I look to God regarding law and order through His Word, I see one thing first and foremost; joy.

Reading through the eighth chapter of Nehemiah illustrates this well. After the rebuilding phase, Ezra read to the people the law of the LORD. Their response? Great rejoicing! Day by day the Law was read, and during this time, they were filled with joy! Law and order brought joy.

I decided to visit Psalm 119 after reading this, the longest Psalm, as speaks of this very topic. I love the words that come out on the page as I read verse after verse of how the author views God's law. They are commands, precepts, laws, but they bring this author to pen some incredible descriptions of this "law and order" that God put in motion. Here are just some of the words used to describe God's Word in this Psalm:
 
Delightful
Wonderful
Freedom
Life
Love
Hope
Comfort
Mercy
Grace
Precious
Sweeter than Honey
Light
Truth
Peace
Eternal
Trustworthy
A Shield
Boundless
These are not just distant words, from a distant author, from a distant God, out of touch and in the past. This is of a God active in my own life personally. I sat down feeling exhausted, short, and scattered from days of a difficult schedule. Thirty minutes later I feel alive, recharged, peaceful, and full of direction. His Word is amazing indeed.

My life should not be Law and Order, Matt Edition. The world tells me that escaping the bondage of my faith will result in freedom, liberation, and excitement! I tried that; fail. Life with Him is absolutely complete. I know the other side, and I'm glad to be home.

I am enjoying this Law and Order as my cup overflows; and not with gold and riches, but with peace. Something far more valuable ...

Enjoying the freedom that is in Christ
~Matthew
Your statutes have been my songs
in the house of my sojourning.
(Psalm 119:54 ESV)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Toxic Relationships


There are some things I come across in my life that I simply know to stay away from consuming! Walking down the streets shopping in the UK on one of my last business trips, I came to find an interesting candy store. In an effort to search for some yummy treats for the kids (which I did find), I saw this, a candy blood bag! The idea turned my stomach, and I wasn't sure if I was going to get sick or just continue laughing with a squinted face! Obviously the creator of the candy was in fact creating something to be slightly gross in an effort to entertain. However, I have found that I need to stay away from consuming other things as well.
 

I've been finding that some relationships in my life also need to be avoided. I often battle the idea that the responsibility of having a Light is to bring it into darkness. While in many respects that is absolutely true, there are limits. At some point, the relationship may start to become toxic. When ears and hearts are hardened, and attacks of ill intent begin, it may be time to prayerfully walk away; shake the proverbial dust off our feet and move on.

I can use Facebook as a prime example of this issue. I have many friends who don't share my views of Christianity (or politics, a big one this time of year). However a vast majority show respect regardless. Only a handful of individuals have I identified as toxic and separated from most of my information, posts, and additional communication. Their attacks on my views are not debates, they are venomous insults. They create a breeding ground for dissension, hate, and slander (sometimes in the name of tolerance).

These are not protesters; these are individuals whose motive it is to silence opposing views by use of anger, slander, and ignorant assumptions. I know many that would love to share their heart but are concerned about the backlash and attacks. This is abuse. This is violence. While certainly not as intimate and damaging as the way verbal abuse is to a spouse, this type of abuse is still destructive to society as a whole, and hurtful to many individuals. I find it offensive that if these types of conversations and ways of talking were had in a marriage, that many would raise flags of emotional and verbal abuse. Yet outside marriage, in a "regular" relationship, these attacks are viewed as acceptable.

I will protect my family, my home, and my life from evil. I will not allow toxic relationships to disrupt my walk.

I also encourage you to prayerfully discern these toxic relationships in your life. While there may be ones that are difficult (or near impossible) to remove, think about how you can limit the abuse. Again, these are not people who disagree with you, these are people who want to aggressively silence you. While these individuals are free to speak as much as you and I are, we also have the responsibility and opportunity of limiting our exposure to such toxicity.

If you do step away, I ask that you continue to pray for those individuals in that their hearts would be softened, and that a relationship can be redeemed (primarily one between them and God). However until then, don't feel obligated to stand consuming something that is toxic when He has amazing plans for you. Shine the light on darkness, yes! But don't let the darkness back you into a corner and keep you from moving forward so others can see His light as well.

Praying for you,

~Matthew
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