The Passion Conundrum

As I prayed through Psalm 39, one word popped into my mind: passion.

Our sex-soaked society, which deforms wholesome things into ugliness, translates the word passion as sexual desire. But it means more than that – something more glorious. Most dictionaries define passion as having powerful feelings for something or for some cause that will “cause you to act in a dangerous way.”

I believed I needed to curb, stifle or kill my passion. Medieval monks would have agreed – although some were passionate about burning heretics at the stake!

I can be overtly passionate with things like truth, the Bible, and Jesus Himself. But I am sinful; therefore my passion can be destructive and mean.

I stormed out of a meeting one day, brimming with anger and frustration. But not without slamming a door. After emailing an apology (among other things) I fell into a deep depression, which I’ve not had for many years. When I called a friend about the situation, I burst into tears. Ah, the curse of being a passionate man!

I mentioned before that my passion can cause me to act in a dangerous way, especially when my passion turns into anger. The Scriptures agree. God says that sometimes it is appropriate to be angry, but don’t sin and deal with it by evening[1]. He advises to be quick to listen, but snail-like in speaking and anger, because it doesn’t bring God’s righteousness[2]. Wisdom scolds the fool’s rage[3]; but views the patient person as better than a warrior[4].

Yet it was passionate people who accomplished amazing things for God. Like David: whose passion lifted him up to defeat a blasphemous giant; Peter: who spoke boldly before murderous men; and Paul: whom God redeemed and converted his passion for killing Christians into birthing new believers in the gospel. But all three had glaring faults due to their passion. David is not only associated with Goliath but with Bathsheba as well; Peter denied Christ thrice while cursing; and Paul had a bitter argument with Barnabas because he refused to give the same grace to cowardly John Mark that Jesus gave him on that road to Damascus.

So if God uses passionate people – dangerous yet effective people – then what am I to do with this conundrum called passion? It can kill, but it can accomplish much for his kingdom.

I started off by saying that I prayed through Psalm 39 and one word popped up into my mind: passion. I imagined a wild horse, brimming with life and fury. But the horse needs to submit to its new owner. His will must be broken to conform to his master’s desires. His passion must be restrained. But when the master commands him to fly across the plain, that passion can be released.

I need to be like that horse. I cannot control my passion without the Holy Spirit. Only He can rein this passionate beast through daily crucifixion[5]. But when the kingdom of God needs a storm, it can be resurrected and unleashed .

Dear Jesus, let me faithful to the call!


 

[1] Ephesians 4:26

[2] James 1:19-20

[3] Proverbs 29:11

[4] Proverbs 16:32 NIV

[5] Luke 9:23

God or Social Media?

social_buttonsOne morning, as I dragged my body out of bed, my wife told me the terrible news: last night a young man entered a popular gay bar in Orlando, Florida, and began shooting. The carnage left fifty men dead and fifty injured. The gunman committed suicide afterwards. I was shocked and saddened that once again people were catapulted from this life with bullets.

I immediately logged into my Facebook account. I visited various news sites. Pictures of weeping family members and friends appeared alongside the political finger pointing and accusations.

Here we go again, I thought. Why do I do this to myself?

A verse memorized decades ago popped into my mind:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

        and he will make straight your paths.[1]

 

At first it didn’t make sense; it seemed out of place.

After pondering about it I realized the truth: I had replaced God with social media! Instead of pouring out my grieved soul to God, I bowed to the altar of Facebook and relied on imperfect man. I trusted the ever-changing opinions of people rather than in the unchangeable truth of the Almighty. In essence, I had changed the verse to:

Trust in Facebook with all your heart,

            and lean on other people’s understanding.

In all your ways check your Twitter feed,

            and then you will know what to do.

I felt ashamed.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets are great tools, but they are not reliable sources for truth and wisdom.

So I made a determination to go to God first to find answers and to pray for justice and an end to evil.

Fast-forward a few weeks: As I dragged my body out of bed, my wife told me terrible news: two young men entered an airport in Turkey and began shooting. After being shot by the police they blew themselves up. The carnage left 42 people dead and over 200 people injured. I was shocked and saddened that once again souls were catapulted from this life with bullets.

What will I do?

What did you do?

 

 

[1] Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

What are you drinking?

glass faucetReports have surfaced about a water crisis in Flint, Michigan. According to the Washington Post: “Since the city switched suppliers in April 2014, corrosive tap water has caused the level of lead in kids’ blood to soar and has sparked fears of permanent neurological damage. In some cases, the water has been so poisoned by lead that it qualified as ‘toxic waste.’”[1]

As a father, I was horrified at the report. The thought of my daughter having lead poisoning because of a government decision infuriated me. No child should have to suffer from drinking something that is supposed to give life!

But then I thought about my own daughter from another perspective. Am I pointing her to Christ, the source of living water? Or am I allowing her to drink the world’s poison?

There is a point in her life that she must choose – either herself or Christ. But since she is given as gift of God, my wife and I have a responsibility to teach her the truth of God and Christ. We are to filter out what is not good for her at this young age.

Please understand: I am not talking about isolation, which does not prepare her for the realities of living in a sin-soaked world. What I am talking about is inoculation, which means training her to know about the realities of this world and the answers found in Scripture.

However, we are still responsible to protect our 3-year-old from things that she cannot fend off. We are to consistently and lovingly strengthen her by teaching her God’s Word and the reason to believe in the gospel.

But what about you? Do you claim Christ and still drink from contaminated wells? Or maybe you are not a Christian but are tired of drinking from the same polluted stream and recognize that it is not satisfying as you once thought. You have been from one person to another, one new fad to another, believed that happiness was found in material wealth, or that new job position, or that new someone, and yet…you are still dry inside.

In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well.[2] After asking for a drink, and some conversation about racial differences and historical ancestry, Jesus tells her: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”[3]

So come and drink. There is no cost to you, although it did cost Jesus His life. And you will find it to be the purest and most refreshing water with a surprising health benefit – eternal life!

 

 

 

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/10/manslaughter-charges-possible-in-flint-water-crisis-says-top-investigator/ [accessed February 10, 16]

[2] The entire account is in John 4:7-42

[3] John 4:13-14 ESV