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Emotions, Passions and Identity in Christ

Posted by Matt Lane on May 19th, 2018 filed in Christian Living
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I’m not sure if it’s different for women but for sure with men, it’s easy to have empathy and relate to the fact that our performance in our jobs, in our family life and in relationships in general fall short. Upon just a little reflection, it’s really easy to identify where we are lacking and are not living up to the needs of those around us. At any given time I can rattle off 5 things that I’m failing at. On the flip side, it’s much harder to convince men to treasure Christ more and to hate our sin. The reality is that we need both.

In general, men often struggle with being transparent and talking about emotions. We are designed to get things done and talking about getting things done just doesn’t cut it. But then there are times when being pushed to articulate our struggles is essential. There are occasions when sharing our most intimate struggles is healing. Sin runs rampant in all of us and without enough confession, there could be no stopping it.

However, just pushing men to talk about their struggles falls short. Just having moments of transparency where we let people in is not enough. Often this can circle and circle with just commiserating about how hard life can be and how we need to do better but that doesn’t move the needle on killing my sin. And by the way, saying that the “enemy” is discouraging me keeps the blackness of my own heart, my sin, at arms length and helps me to not own it. Yes talking about what we struggle with is crucial. But if in the end it doesn’t point us in the direction to treasure Jesus more, it can look more like moralistic, therapeutic deism than like confessing our sins and spurring one another on to good works.

Often as men we talk about having our identity in Christ and not in our vocation. Honestly there is nothing more important for us to grasp. But what does that mean? It might need an another post to fully dig into but does that exclude who God has made me? Does it exclude my talents, passions, skills and people in my life? Does it exclude my street corner? Ultimately at the bottom of my joy is God and who he is yet I see God in all of those things that I just listed. The difference is that all of those things are incomplete and imperfect. All of those things can reveal things about God but every reflection is imperfect because in the end, they are just that, reflections, and not the real thing. But I believe that like most things, our identify is not simple and easily defined. God has designed us specifically to work and there is a true joy in doing those things that we were created to do and a joy in those relationships that we are meant to spur on. How then can we say that our identity in Christ is defined outside of those things?

To wrap up, yes we need to seek out moments to talk about struggles and be encouraged to fully define our identity in Christ. But to do that, I need above all, to be wow’d by the Gospel. I need to be convinced that Jesus is to be pursued above all other good things. Through my Bible reading and through preaching, I need to be wow’d.  And when I take a second to reflect, I am wow’d by Jesus’ love for me and I can see evidences of God’s grace all around me; in my work, in how he has created me, and in the street corners he has given me. Most of the time the problem is that I don’t take time to reflect enough to be wow’d.  And usually, I need to be wow’d by the Gospel more than I need to be counseled because when I am being wow’d by Christ, I am counseled and all other things are often put into place.

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Reconciliation is the hope of the world

Posted by Matt Lane on November 27th, 2017 filed in Christian Living, Church, Jordan Refugees
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Some things are so broke that the path to fix them is so complicated that humanly speaking, there isn’t a lot of hope. Having recently visited the Middle East and specifically Jordan, to fix the refugee issues in the region is virtually impossible. The deep seated issues between different groups are centuries old and are not going to be solved with a simple solution. Eradicating ISIS from the region is also not an easy task. How to support all the refugees WHILE a solution is put in place is almost just as impossible.

But in the midst of all of that, there is hope. There IS a solution. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, “. There it is. God is restoring harmony between the world and himself through Jesus. How? Through Jesus the payment was paid and he doesn’t count our sin against us. We Christians have been given this message of reconciliation. We are to be his ambassadors with this message.

I can’t imagine what it would take to forgive those that have zealously persecuted you. Knowing that a people group left you with nothing would weigh heavily on you. Knowing that they were responsible for the murder of your child would be crushing. How much it would cost you personally to give up and move forward. To not want revenge. To not want any retribution in any way. What would that cost? What would it cost emotionally? What would it cost psychologically? Forgiveness is not free. It’s incredibly costly and I don’t have any idea what it would be like to even contemplate it. In my middle class social-economic environment, I can’t relate in any way.

But, the message that I have been given is the SAME message that has been given to the Iraqi Christian refugees. Reconciliation through Christ. To God and others.

Like other tough situations, it’s difficult to ask someone to choose the hard path. Especially a path that I can’t identify with. However, the depth of verse 21 compels us to the message of reconciliation and while we might want a different option, it is the only hope of the world.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

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Existing to wait

Posted by Matt Lane on November 13th, 2017 filed in Christian Living, Jordan Refugees
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The Iraqi Christians living in Jordan are incredibly strong people. They have suffered unspeakably horrors and many have fled from more than one place. Today they wait to be let into a country that will allow them to thrive. Until then, often they are existing to wait. Wait for the one call that will ultimately change their lives forever. Wait for the next contact from someone that will provide a critical need. Wait for someone from somewhere to deliver hope to them. One family we visited today has been waiting for 3 years! 3 long years waiting for the call. Waiting to start their lives again. Waiting to be in a place where their children can go to school and have a future. Waiting for a chance to once again provide for their families in the way God has equipped them. Waiting for their tiredness to end.

Most Iraqi families are trying hard to thrive in the midst. We ate lunch with a family today and it clearly was a joy for them to show hospitality. The father is a chef and took great pride in making an Iraqi meal for us. They were all so appreciative of us coming to visit them so that they know SOMEONE cares. That SOMEONE will see that they exist. Do you get that? They were blessed by us coming to THEM. Unbelievable. They were such a gift to us and the joy they had in the midst was absolutely inspiring.

I honestly have no place in my brain for the hardships these people have gone through and continue to go through. All they want is to be in a place where they can work and live peaceably.

It’s really not much different than what anyone desires but for them and for now, they exist to wait.

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