Who you are!

You are made by God and you are called good. You are made in the likeness of God and you reflect God’s image. Although this image has been distorted through sin done by you and to you, God has not forgotten who you are and whom God made you to be. God knew you before you were born, named you before you were even formed in your mother’s womb. In love, God has chosen you and the Holy Spirit works ceaselessly to restore the unique God-image you alone can reflect. – The Mentored Life 

At his baptism, Jesus was named

  • beloved
  • child of God
  • God’s delight

When you follow Jesus into the anointing waters of baptism, you also are named

  • beloved
  • child of God
  • God’s delight

Every person will express his or her God given identity in a way that is unique to them, but these three names form the essential truth about our identity.

Growing into this identity is the “stuff” of our life of discipleship.

“What God’s voice tells us is the true story of God’s incredible love for us. No other storyteller, however gifted, can paint for us the full, living portrait of who we are and have been and who we are becoming. Let us listen attentively, lest we forget and try to remake ourselves according to some other image.” from Magnificat

“God is who He says He is, and I am who God says I am.” Anonymous

Who are you? You are God’s beloved child, in whom God delights. Enough.

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Wild beasts and angels

What wild beasts live within you?

On his way from the Baptism waters to the ministry he came to dispense, Jesus passed through the wilderness of temptation. It wasn’t his idea, In fact, Mark tells us that he was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness. Something needful took place during the 40 days and nights he spent being tempted by Satan. This means that our imitation of Jesus will also send us into a place of desert and temptation. There’s no getting around it, the path to the Kingdom life passes from our Baptism identity through the wilderness of temptation. It’s a direct road.

In describing Jesus’ temptation, Mark is the Hemingway of the gospel writers; fast paced, sparse words, facts presented, details neglected. Thank goodness Matthew’s account gives the the details of what happened between Jesus and Satan in the desert. Because of his narrative we know the nature of Satan’s temptations, always questioning our identity, God’s power and God’s plan. Mark tells only the necessary facts, with no explanation: the amount of time he was there, that he was with tempted by Satan, was with the wild beasts and the angels waited on him.

What do we do with that?

The Holy Spirit leaves this telling sparse, so we can project our own experience with temptation into the story. We, too, are going to enter the wilderness, but ours will not be the specific barren landscape of Judea, instead our wilderness exists within the vastness of our hearts. We enter the wilderness every time we are tempted to doubt our identity of God’s beloved, disbelieve God’s power or distrust God’s good character.

Your heart is crowded with wild beasts; undomesticated, threatening, dangerous. Animals that freely roam, roaring, devouring, frightening you into doubting God. It is with these internal beasts you must wrestle. They represent the parts of your soul yet to be tamed by the love of God and trained to live for the love of God. These beasts must be faced, defeated and managed. Your temptation will be to avoid them, (which would cause you to live from fear and limit the love of God from reaching all of you); to pretend they aren’t there, (which would keep you in denial and cause your kingdom life to be shallow and narrow); make a spectacle of them, like putting them on display in the zoo, (which would hurt you, because although you think you have them under control, they are still wild and dangerous at heart and would hurt you if they had the chance. You’d have to live constantly on guard.)

The temptation is to think that God is not loving, powerful or intentional enough to strengthen you to tame these beasts. Believing that you remain captive, ineffective and full of fear. With God’s help, and with your agreement and cooperation, these beasts are able to be defeated. God sent angels to minister to Jesus. He’s sent you the Holy Spirit.

Will you join Jesus with the wild beasts and angels?

Imitating Jesus

Imitate Jesus, as you do your yoga instructor

Imitating Jesus (some thoughts on the gospel of Mark)

As a neophyte, I kept my eyes fixed on the yoga instructor, attempting to reproduce in my body and breath what I was witnessing in hers. I wasn’t just following her instructions, I was imitating her (albeit poorly). She walked from student to student correcting, aligning and encouraging us; assuring me that if I continued my efforts, I would eventually have a beautiful practice.

I want my life to be a beautiful practice. Following Jesus and imitating his actions and character is the way to achieve it.

Jesus stepped out of obscurity into the river Jordan. Like the rest of the Judean world, he followed John the Baptizer into the wilderness. He entered the waters of baptism and the world was changed.

John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This concept was nothing particularly new; previously, though, people would go to the temple for such an activity. Now they are pouring into the wilderness. This change of location suggests a new and radical way of accessing God. And this shift is only the beginning.

John’s baptism was almost a tease. Sent to prepare the way for the real deal, his preaching asked “Want a different way of life?” Then “repent” he instructed. Repentance is a change of mind and a commitment to act differently than you have in the past. This decision to live differently, though, will not be enough.

Speaking of the one who comes after him he says “I baptize with water, but HE will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” My baptism is external. The water that marks your decision will be dry within minutes and you’ll need to remind yourself to act differently. But HIS baptism will be with the Holy Spirit, it will be an internal and eternal mark that will not only remind you to act differently, it will empower you do to so.

Our preparation for the Messiah’s advent is o desire a different future, one free of past mistakes and misdeeds . Own your longing, grieve your sins, heed the voice of John, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”