My name is Neo!

I was on a recent flight home from San Francisco and decided to watch “The Matrix” while en route.

I really like this movie from a pure entertainment standpoint and there are and have been lots of discussions about various spiritual analogies in the story line that correspond to the Gospel.

If you’ve read my blogs for long, you know that I very often correlate the everyday stuff of life to a spiritual truth that God’s teaching me.

Anyway, I’ve put a link to a YouTube video of one of my favorite scenes in the movie – not so much for the special effects, but because of the story and one of those thoughts God’s buried in my noggin.

The scene is the subway scene where Neo (the main character) fights Agent Smith for the first time.  For you who haven’t seen the movie, it’s a science fiction thriller in which the world we currently know and understand is really a mirage only played out in our minds -which the machines dictate as we’re all plugged into “the Matrix”.  The story is about the fight for freedom and getting “unplugged” from the matrix to live as real and free human beings – the way we were created.

In the matrix – the main character – played by Keanu Reeves – is named is “Thomas Anderson” when he lived under the veil of the Matrix.  When he gets unplugged from the Matrix to live a real and free human life –  his real name is Neo.  However, Agent Smith (a digital representation of the sentient programs sent to kill and destroy the free human race – interesting concept huh?) always refers to Neo with his old name when he was living in the Matrix.  Always calls him “Mister Anderson”.

The Matrix: Neo fights Agent Smith (played on YouTube site)

I love this scene because Neo is finally beginning to believe that he is not “Thomas Anderson” any more.  He is beginning to understand he is not the same person he was. He is new.  He is Neo.

As I watched this scene – for the twentieth time – God began to really put in my heart that I am not the same man I used to be.   No matter what my enemy – represented by the agent, Mr. Smith in the movie – calls me… no matter what my adversary calls me… I am a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)  17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  

I am no longer what I used to be.  I am no longer what I did.  I am defined by Christ in me.  He died for my sin – all of it – all that I ever committed and all that I will ever commit, so that I will be blameless before God before his throne.

When that sinks in, how can I be anything but grateful.  How can I be anything but the new creation He created me to be.


Running After Papa…

Waves (James 1)

James 1:6 NIV “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

A few weeks ago, in the midst of some very big “asks” with the Lord, this verse stayed top of mind for a few weeks.  The New King James translates it as “… let him ask in faith, with no doubting…” and the root word for what the NIV calls “believe” and what the NKJV calls “faith” is pistisI’ve written about this word a few times, the most recent being Faith & Doubt (Mark 11) and Faith: What is it? so I won’t expound on it here.

I’ve really begun to look deeper into the example James uses.  What are the characteristics of waves and how do they apply here and to my life?  How do they describe the state of my being when I doubt?  Carrying the example out, how does believing make me less like a wave?

Waves Are Random

When I say “a wave”, what do you see when you close your eyes?  Most of us see some sort of wave on a body of water.  That’s about as much similarity as we can state.  Wikipedia has a fairly extensive discussion on the many types of waves and forms of waves across all types of mediums (water, sound, light, etc…)  You can read it hereLet’s keep the discussion of waves in context of waves on a body of water.  Even with that, there are no clear definitions of what a wave looks like.  They have a pseudo-form, but can vary greatly from a slight series of rings that ripple out from a small pebble tossed in a very still pond, to a 20-foot (or greater), life-threatening whitecaps out on the ocean.  Both are waves.  While I assume there is a technically a definite beginning and end of a wave, it is clearly not easy to accurately identify for the casual observer.  The one constant is that they freely move up and down, back and forth, in and out, and constantly change shapes – often times spilling out or falling over (as in a whitecap).

When I doubt, I am like a wave.  I am not clearly defined and morph and change with the pressures and obstacles of life.  But when I believe – when I ask in faith – I am fortified to stand firm – with definition of who I am in Christ and more importantly, who Christ is in me.

1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.”

2 Corinthians 1:21 NLT “It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ.”

When I believe – when I ask in faith – I am positioned and permanent to display Christ in me.

Waves Are Reactive

Waves exist because of a reaction to something else – some outside force – be that an object, the wind, a current, a shift in it’s foundation (i.e. an earthquake).  The height, shape, speed, spread, and intensity of the wave is determined by the force acted upon it.  Waves are a reaction to the world around it.

When I ask in faith – when I believe and not doubt – I am confident in God’s plan and not reactive to the world around me because I know who He is and that His heart is for me.

Jeremiah 2:11-12 NKJV “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”

When I believe – when I ask in faith – I am purposed and peaceful and not moved by the world around me.

Waves are Running

Waves are always moving from point to point – constantly moving and being moved by the forces around them.

When I doubt – I too am constantly seeking and constantly moving – looking for an answer, looking for relief, looking for some way out or away from whatever I’m reacting to.  This is not God’ s plan.  I’m to ask in faith.  I’m to learn to be confident and trust in His will for me.

Psalms 37:5-9  

5 Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.
6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.
9 For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.

When I believe – when I ask in faith – I am planted in God’s peace and power and can rest in who He is

Ask in faith.  Do not doubt.

Running After Papa…

Day 24 – Crutches & Thinky-ness

II Cor 10:3-5 (NIV) “3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

This verse is all about how differently we “war” that the world does.  We war over our thought life… we war with our mind.  I’ve heard too often people chide that Christianity is a crutch for people who can’t think for themselves.  I’ve heard it said that  faith is where people turn when they can’t think or reason.   Clearly, people who say this haven’t read the scriptures as the Bible is full of context and richness on just how “thinky” our faith is.

  • Phil 4:8 – “… think on these things…”
  • Rom 12:2 – “…renew your mind..”
  • II Cor 10:5 – “… take  captive every thought…”
  • Col 3:2 – “.. set your mind on things above..”

And that’s just of the top of my head… I’m sure the list is fairly substantial.  Anyone who has read the New Testament, can’t possibly think that Paul believed his faith to be a crutch and that Paul wasn’t an intellectual…

I just read chapter 2 of John Maxwell’s “Thinking For A Change” where he dissects the affects of good thinking.  Good thinking changes your beliefs which changes your expectations, which changes your attitude which changes your behavior, which changes your performance, which changes your life.  Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book “Who Switched Off My Brain”  presents the scientific evidence behind and the practical application of Romans 12:2 “renewing your mind.”

11 Cor 10:5 in The Message version is really enlightening to see this passage from another angle:  “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.”

“… every loose thought and emotion and impulse..”… where do those come from?  The mind.

John 15:2-3 (NLT)  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.

I’ve often taken this passage in the context of being an “unfruitful” person being cut off.  If I’m not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), if I’m not being fruitful in my gifts and call of the Lord (Rom 12:4-8), etc.  But what if what gets cut off and pruned isn’t people, but attitudes, pride, fear and other influences of my thinking and understanding?

Jesus said that he didn’t come to abolish the law but to complete it.  What does that look like?

Jesus’ teachings clarified and redefined what mankind had made of the Law – a bunch of rules and regulations that were not motivated by anything other than fear and pride.

Jesus changed the attitudes and motivation. The motivation behind his teaching is out of love for Him, love for God, and love for others – based and rooted in relationship.

What attitudes, perceptions, and influences need to be cut off of my life because they don’t bear fruit?

What motivations need to be pruned in order to be more fruitful?

Running After Papa…

Two Random Thoughts

Two random thoughts.

1.  Papa has overwhelmed me the last few days with his unending love for me.

2.  Our dog, Toby

I don’t know where this is going, but I’m journaling it anyway.  This will be a weird one I can tell but I can’t wait to see where it ends up when I’m done.

Over the weekend, Father overwhelmed me with his love for me in a very awesome way.  The story is much too long for this blog, but just suffice to say, he answered a very specific prayer in a very specific way.  In the midst of it, I heard him tell me how much he loved me and it just moved me to tears.  I am so grateful for his love, even if he never does another thing for me as long as I live.

We have a dog, Toby.  He’s small enough that he can – and does – make a perch at the top of the couch in the big overstuffed cushions.  He will lay there all day long, doing nothing and minding his own business.  I noticed today that every time I walked past him (perhaps 8 or 10 times throughout the day), I would just reach down and scratch the scruff of his neck or scratch his belly or something.  I noticed that it was just comforting and therapeutic to just pet the dog.

After I realized what I was doing and how often I was doing that, I felt Papa ask me, “Are you [spiritually] as warm and inviting to others as Toby is to  you?”  “Were you [spiritually] a dog, would other people want to cuddle you and scratch you behind the ears?”

The overwhelming feeling I felt earlier this weekend of God’s unbelievable love for me, is the same feeling God wants me to pass along to those who come in my path.  He wants me to love on others the way he loves on me.  He wants me to bring comfort  to others the way he comforts me.  As He pours into me, I am to overflow to others.  2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (ESV)

Now I will always have a visual aide in my walk… our dog, Toby, lying on the top of the sofa.

There are so many pictures that paints, but that will be another post.

Papa, thank you for your love.  Thank you for your overwhelming presence and goodness.  Help me love others the way you love me.  Help me comfort others the way you comfort me.  Every time I scratch the dog, remind me of how you want me to represent you.  I love you more every day.