Focus

Don’t you find????…..

….It is way too easy to become disoriented, discouraged, and disillusioned?

Looking around us the world has a history of turmoil, conflict, exploitation, corruption, and disappointment. Despite the protests of some, it is a hallmark of a people (us) who desire to control and rule with sole reference to our own resources and wisdom. Like one sick person attempting to heal another sick person without vaccines of disinfectant. The result is a cartwheeling through history of these themes – where we are constantly trying to catch up and fix the problems created by those who have gone before us. In Christian terms it is described as living in a broken and fallen world.

Exactly the world that God entered in human form over two thousand years ago – Jesus is his name. He walked among the likes of us to re-orient, encourage, and to restore vision and hope. The message hinged on an acknowledgement that we can’t fix the problems ourselves. We need help, a savior, someone greater than ourselves to take hold of it all – to redeem, restore, and to reconfigure.

Amid this constant tension for control that fights within us – it is helpful from time to time to take our eyes off the problems and focus on this unique and wonderful person – Jesus. To perhaps be reminded of his character, his message, and his sacrificial life, that led to a Cross and then astoundingly – the resurrection. The entire expanse of events around Jesus jolts our minds and shatters our earth-baked world views. Which is consistent with the revelation. Our logic cannot get us there – to rational understanding of the supernatural. We are left as little children invited to trust a loving parent. “Why?” we bawl in protest. “You’re too young to understand, trust me.”

It’s a simple truism. If we want to follow Jesus – only to the degree we can explain and understand (completely) – then we’re sure to lose him at the first bend in the road. Following means trusting his character, being familiar with the sound of his voice, learning to discern the whisper of the Holy Spirit within. Following means seeing with inner eyes, learning to be still in the midst of storms, finding identity from the inside out as a beloved son or daughter, and believing for what we do not yet see. Following means faith.

I was brought up to regard the time of Lent as a season of ‘giving up something and denial’. The trouble is such thinking reinforces the erroneous belief that it’s our effort and discipline that draws us closer to God. There’s obvious truth in the fact that what we do makes a difference. But now I’m convinced that ‘as we receive the love of God for ourselves ‘ our actions follow as a response – and therefore they come more easily. Consequently I’d encourage Lent to be a season of focusing on Jesus and being refreshed with his love, his words, his deeds, him being present for us – never against. For some of us perhaps we look at our lives and wonder where he is, what we had hoped for hasn’t transpired, what now? I share that dilemma, believe me. So I have to practice what I preach. Trust him when my understanding leads me in circles that leaves my head whirling and no further ahead. When I focus on Jesus I’m not so dizzy!

The songs I’ve included today are from City Alight – a group out of St. Paul’s, Castle Hill, Sydney, Australia. Much of their music is written intentionally for smaller churches without access to multiple resources. The lyrics are also refreshing in their focus on Jesus. Have a listen and be inspired.

And another bonus! Here are some wise words from Reba, the daughter of Micah and Grace, a pastor in Kampala, Uganda. I visited their church and stayed with them on two occasions. Rheba is dynamic and full of life. She came to California to attend the Bethel School of Ministry (where we shared a meal a few years ago) and she’s now in Idaho. Reba wrote this reflection on Facebook recently that I think is worth passing on (with her permission of course) – be blessed…

Faith is spelled RISK.

It has been such a huge risk saying YES to wherever God leads me. Especially after Covid. I honestly never heard of the state Idaho😂 and I will never forget the tremendous fear I felt leaving California after it had become home and super comfortable. It has been a very strange season, and it has come with a lot of painful dark months, unbearable pain, and unending questions. Still nothing compares to the love Africans carry so well; but I have come to appreciate and see deeply into people here and find the gold. I definitely do not think being First World is the answer to happiness. The abundance is real but the human connections definitely take a longer time to build and to trust. I find that there is a lot of high stakes to have a name, a title, and to be a highly well-known influencer. It’s like some sort of daily drive. Many times I just miss the simplicity of sitting down on a mat with my grandma eating g.nuts and not understanding a thing she is saying because I failed to learn the tribal languages – but the peace within her is priceless……

Oh America…. I love you for sure and I also pray you find rest in the simple. Anyways back to conquering mountains. So since I’m still in this nation, I hopefully plan to be one of those high driven, famous well known, creative 🤷🏾‍♀️

No but on a serious note. If you managed to read till the end, I would like to encourage you to do something this week that your spirit is aching for.

Trust again

Love with no agenda

Smile super wide

Laugh out loud

Deeply feel pain

Bring people in

Pet a cat

Speak in tongues a little more

Catch those thoughts captive

Intercede

Be less up tight

Enjoy working smart

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you your heart’s desires.

John Cox

Christian Author and Counsellor

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