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Loving Jesus, Without Knowing How Much We Need Jesus (via Rebecca Reynolds)

The path of self-righteousness is lined with knowledge of who Jesus is, but not knowing how much we personally need him.
When we reach that point of need then we have a Saviour that we don’t just offer to others, we have a Saviour that has met our very personal need.

From Rebecca Reynolds:

My high-school years were an underworld, a terrible season of losing my orientation and losing myself. But in that chaos, I began to grasp my need for a gospel that could be carried to the darkness. If I had been able to jump through every religious hoop perfectly when I was a teenager, I would have stepped into adulthood with an inaccurate picture of my own righteousness. I wouldn’t have known how much I actually needed him. In fact, I might have thought that I was doing him a favour by standing up for him. Instead, during those four years, I saw what darkness I was capable of chasing. I learned that I didn’t just have a Saviour to offer the world – I stood in profound need of him too.

Rebecca K. Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, Navpress, 2018, pgs 166-167.

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A Christian’s Confidence Does Not Reside In “I’m Great” But In “Greatness Resides In Me.” (via Rebecca Reynolds)

The human goal of fulfilling ourselves demands that our efforts to do so are invested in that which we can achieve; but anything that we can achieve is not enough to satisfy our souls.
The Christian believes their fulfilment is not based on what we achieved, but on who has come to dwell within us.

From Rebecca Reynolds:

Almost every day we are told to believe in ourselves, to follow our hearts, to trust our gut, to do what feels good. Most of the movies we watch, most of thecommercials we see, most of the self—help advice that we are given relies upon this ethic. What’s the underlying drive here? While physical pleasure might seem like the big allure, there’s in fact a pull stronger than hedonism at play. The more intoxicating promise is safety — safety that we can guarantee without having to trust anybody else.
I get the appeal of this promise. At several points in my life, I have been so disappointed with the church, with my relationships, and even with my faith, that I have wanted to hide inside myself forever. Yet, this has never worked because an insular body of water grows stagnant. Disappointment becomes bitterness; bitterness becomes cynicism; and cynicism is the booby prize of a fallen world a sad, small bounty.
Examine the “believe in yourself” doctrine closely, and you will find Eve longing for a forbidden piece of fruit — not because one pear can ever be as lush as an entire garden, but because one pear is tiny enough to clutch in the palm of one small hand. This single pear represents all self—trust, an eternal folding inward, an eternal reduction.
What does a rejection of self-belief look like? Well, it certainly doesn’t mean that we must embrace the “I am a worm” mentality that pervades too many pockets of Christianity. Our identity is changed when we receive Christ, and once we are a new creation, indwelt by the Spirit, it’s not healthy to buy into ugly lies that hold us back. A Christian’s confidence doesn’t reside in “I’m great” but in “Greatness lives in me.” We don’t withdraw trust but transfer it to what is trustworthy. Theological grounding in our new nature helps skepticism die because it rescues us from the double dangers of stagnant self-confidence and paralyzing insecurity.Rebecca K. Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, Navpress, 2018, pgs 116-117.

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You Serve A God Who Isn’t Limited By Your Fear (via Rebecca Reynolds)

Following Jesus alongside others provides encouragement and the example of other believers in situations similar to our own.
If encouragement gives way to comparison we can succumb to feelings of failure and lack of worth, not because of any inadequacy in us, but because we’re not the same as someone else.
And God has not created us all to be identical, or to respond to every dark valley the same as every other Christian.

From Rebecca Reynolds:

In the midst of fear, we also need to be careful about comparing our emotions with the emotions of others. In groups of nonreligious people, you will find some who are naturally bold. Certain personalities are just born risk—takers, not prone to thinking through consequences. Then there are rationalists who rarely allow themselves to be driven by feelings of any sort. Strategy is their default, not their instinct, so panic doesn’t hit them in the same way as it might hit a feeler. Feelers, on the other hand, may find themselves moved quickly and easily by circumstances or emotions. Tranquility isn’t on the emotional playlist as often as excitement, giddiness, sorrow, and fury.
Some of these inborn personality differences are impacted by personal choice, but chemical and genetic factors also come into play. God makes some people with a high natural capacity for analysis, others with a high natural capacity for risk, others with a high natural capacity for sensitivity. Instead of feeling pride or shame over our wiring, we can just acknowledge our defaults, seeing them as tools in a toolbox. We can acknowledge the pros and cons of our personalities and then ask God how he wants us to move forward.
So if you struggle with fear while someone in your religious community brags about his or her boldness, don’t let that comparison go too deep. This difference might not result from spiritual maturity so much as chemical capacity. And besides that, you serve a God who isn’t limited by your fear. In fact, it’s possible that your inborn sensitivity is vital to the specific work God has prepared for you.

Rebecca K. Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, Navpress, 2018, pgs 101-102.

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When Jesus Says “Do Not Fear,” He’s Not Like Humans Telling You Not To Worry (via Rebecca Reynolds)

Sometimes advice is given that we don’t trust because the person given the advice can’t understand why we feel the way we do.
Rebecca Reynolds observes that Jesus is different.
He tells us, and he knows exactly how and why we feel as we do.

When the Bible speaks about fear – which is often – it speaks into all of this complexity. God knows your defaults. He knows your instincts. He knows your biology, your chemistry, your genetics, your experiences, and your intellectual capacity. Every connection that occurs in your nervous system, every fluid released by every gland, every physiological reaction – from the lump in your throat to the drop of your stomach – is seen by the God who made you.
This means that when Jesus comes to the believer saying, “Do not fear,” he’s not like humans who tell you not to worry. He understands what others cannot understand about us because he knows us back and forth, inside and out. He knows that for some of us, this is a command to walk on land, and for others it’s a command to walk on water.

Rebecca K. Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, Navpress, 2018, pg 93.

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When All We Can Pray Is “Live Through Me Because I Got Nuthin'” (via Rebecca Reynolds)

Union with God in Jesus is a unique relationship. Though there are similarities with aspects of human relationships the complete non-dependence of God and the absolute dependence of we humans means all comparisons with other relationships have limits that need to be reconised.
They contribute to helping us understand, but they don’t define the relationship.

Over and over again, the New Testament tries to tell us something we have so much trouble hearing: that the goal of Christianity is dependent union – an unusual sort of God—human relationship that doesn’t have a true parallel in the human—to—human world. God uses earthly metaphors to hint at What he means by this bond—sometimes bride—groom language or parent—child comparisons. But no human relationship can catch all of what’s happening in our unity with God because he is more intimate with us than anything we will ever share with another person.
If you read back through the New Testament, you will notice that the Bible uses strange phrases like “Christ in you” to describe this intimate union. Sometimes we are called a “dwelling place,” and other times we are called branches on a Vine. This isn’t like anything we read about in pagan mythology — not the tinkering of a god who hangs out most days on Mount Olympus but whips up a strategic thunderstorm for the Trojans now and then. This gets inside our space. It gets inside our lives.
When life is going great, most Christians don’t let these metaphors get too close because we love our autonomy and feel as if we have a handle on things. But when chaos hits —when the nine—volt battery of our own ability finally fizzles out — we’re at last ready to plug our electric cords into God’s outlet. “Give me the juice!” we pray. “Live through me because I got nothin’.”
Even in that moment of vulnerability, Paul’s word choice may still look strange to us. “I delight in weaknesses,” he wrote — but no, that’s not the emotion we feel at all. At least not yet. In fact, “delight” is the very last thing we feel. We feel ashamed of ourselves, maybe. We feel desperate. We feel humiliated. But all of these emotions are ust afiershocks of the downfall of our self-effort. They are tremors in the dust of an infrastructure that needed to collapse.

Rebecca K. Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, Navpress, 2018, pgs 77-78.

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The Ache Is Not A Desire To Escape, It’s Homesickness (via Rebecca K Reynolds)

Rebecca K Reynolds explains the the desire to be with Christ is not something for which the disciple needs to feel guilty as if its an avoidance of the realities of life, rather the desire to be with Christ is a natural feeling to experience more of the belonging which union with Jesus brings to our lives:

Paul’s use of the words with Christ clued me in to something big. His ache was relational, not just geographic. He didn’t simply want to get to heaven; he wanted to get further up and further in to community with Jesus. Before catching that, I’d always felt sort of guilty for wanting to escape my earthly life to be closer to the Lord—after all, the Holy Spirit lived inside me. Why couldn’t I just be content with what I had already been given? Yet, Paul understood the indwelling of the Holy Spirit better than you or I ever will, and he still longed to experience divine fellowship in a way that was more intimate than anything he could encounter on earth. His story helps me rejoice in all things while admitting the cramp in my side. It gives me permission to live a little homesick.

Rebecca K Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, NavPress, 2018, pg 8.