Day 16: “A Worthy Foundation.”

Photo: cbc.ca

Our pop culture can easily package up your faith in handy Instagram images, retweets, or reposts. On the outside, you seem all deep and meaningful, perhaps even well-read. You scroll through articles and images “liking” and looking. “Amen” to that. Another one minute snappy sermon, tick.

You normally spend time skimming the latest news and most popular trends. However, this time of fasting has taken your microwave content and slow cooked it. The YouVersion “verse of the day” has come alive and God is revealing truths to you beyond the Christian-ese some around you are speaking. This will sustain you beyond your snack packet, low cal, fillers into a wholesome, healthy base upon which you will continue to build.

What truths have resonated with you most? Are you easing into that place of peace you find when you tuck into Jesus and his Word?

You are satiated and satisfied when revelation makes it’s way inside your spirit.

You’re strengthening the foundation of your faith. Like insurance that pays out upon unexpected tragedy, you’re putting your policy in place, depositing extra moments of God time into your spiritual account. When winds come and the Earth shakes beneath your feet, you can cash in because Jesus’ words are ready for redeeming. You stocked up on truth. You’re freezing his words, ready to thaw under the heat of life which is sure to manifest one day.

Keep setting aside time. Keep journaling, reading, asking, praying. Fill yourself with more and more of your Heavenly Father’s words in place of that meal or social media. Whatever you gave up is an empty space waiting to hold your deepest, most desperate cries.

Let your vulnerability before God break open something worth spilling out. Your life is more stable than ever because you know your foundation is secure.

“That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 (MSG)
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Day 4: “Rest.”

restDo you ever feel like your spiritual life is relegated to a check list with items that weigh you down like a household chore? Pray. Read your Bible. Go to Church. Serve. Finding a rhythm of spending time with God is about as easy as eating dinner with a two-year old. Sometimes it’s nice and everything stays on the plate. Other times, you look at your life and like Spaghetti Bolognese flying off the high chair tray, you see the messy pieces of what you desire to have in order smashed and messy and someone is crying.

Failure. Again.

Somewhere, you lost sight of companionship with God and felt like your worth and spiritual growth should look like a high school exam table, all laid out in neat rows with a time allotment and every subject neatly labelled.

Life screams at you to ‘do more’ and ‘be more.’ List off your achievements and post them on Instagram. Get more initials behind your name. Make more money. We take these action verbs and insist that Jesus expects the same level and pace that the world demands.

Guess what? He doesn’t.

He actually gives us rest as a gift. Mike Yaconelli in Messy Spirituality says, “Rest is the ultimate humiliation because in order to rest, we must admit we are not necessary, that the wold can get along without us, that God’s work does not depend on us.”

Jesus models an un-hurried life spending time with the people he loves and a slowness that allows him to hear the Heavenly Father’s voice, whispering what matters most, (not a demanding cry for a better performance).

Why not take today and practise resting?

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

Tooting Horns

“I love my husband so much! He is AMAZING!  Look what he bought me!” “I ran 25km, aren’t I AMAZING?” “My kids are the cutest. They are JUST AMAZING!” “I ate dinner at the best, most expensive, AMAZING restaurant.” “Look, I’m hanging out with someone famous. Amazing, right?” Spruikers are everywhere these days.

We promote our own “causes” now more than ever.  What we cook, what we wear, how we look, where we are on vacation, our politics. We post and pin.  Tumblr and Twitter, Google+ and WordPress.  Connected to circles and friends, we can be LinkedIn with anyone from anywhere in the world.  We Skype and we blog.  We “like” and we re-post.  We troll famous people and people we wish would follow us all in hope that someone will read our status update, look at our Instagram, comment on our newest post, and validate us in some way.

By the time we get up to speed on how to use one arena of social media, we find out we are behind on the next one that those on the cutting edge have already mastered.  But why?  Why the incessant need for approval and validation, oftentimes from perfect strangers or acquaintances?  We are on the computer or our mobile devices, checking in and checking out what everyone else is doing.  In some way, we feel connected, needed or better about ourselves.

Sometimes, though, it makes us feel worse.  Sometimes I see the party to which I wasn’t invited.  I see friends hanging out when I’m lonely.  I see quotes from people smarter than me.  I find out so-and-so is much more popular and “liked” than I ever will be.

Social media is the new “norm.”  It’s this generation’s way of communicating.  Bosses can vet their potential employees.  One can stay connected with her friends across the ocean if she moves away.  I’m encouraged by my favourite preacher and informed about upcoming events and promotions happening in my network. I like to share what I’m reading to encourage my friends.

You and I can also waste a lot of time.

I’m reminded of what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church while teaching them to have an answer for those who brag about having a “spectacular ministry” rather than a sincere heart.  Like anything else, too much of a good thing can take away its goodness.  For goodness’ sake, PLEASE don’t tweet all day long.  Have a genuine phone call with a friend.  Read a book start to finish, not just the Cliff’s Notes online.  Teach your kids to find their self-worth in who God created them to be, not in who re-pins their cool outfit or “likes” their provocative picture on FB.

I have to wonder how sincere our society has become when everything we see is someone else’s highlight reel.  I like to brag about how beautiful my city is (click here) and how precious my kids are.

But I know that I have bad days too.

My kids are bratty sometimes.  Runkeeper doesn’t post to Twitter every time I skip a run or overeat.  I have friends I only see on FB which gives me a chance to stay connected and see their kids grow up.  I have people I admire on Twitter who inspire me.  I look at your pictures on Instagram to enjoy what you find beautiful.  I roll my eyes when you complain.  I un-follow you when you have too many personal conversations and force me to read them.  I Pin recipes and that’s about it.

There’s no harm in connecting on social media; in fact, I think we will be left behind if we don’t.  But let us use our time, our voices, and our talents to encourage one another and have sincerity of heart as we brag about our AMAZING, spectacular lives God has given us!