Wednesday, January 10, 2018

  The musician known as Prince has a well known song entitled Lets Go Crazy and it has caught my attention for several different reasons.  The first one is because it became the song that got played every time the Minnesota Wild scores a goal at home, and the second reason is for the opening line in the song.  It goes "dearly beloved we are gathered together to get through this thing called life."  What really is pulling at my heart strings is the phrase dearly beloved.  We just don't hear that phrase anymore unless one is at a wedding and maybe a funeral.  In two instances the Apostle Paul uses this phrase in reference to Philemon and Timothy, and it is sign of relationship and closeness.  I think there are several things we can learn about being beloved.

  We live in a time where we are encouraged to have many friends and to make connections with them.  I know with myself and if I were to take a look at my friend list on Facebook, it would not only be expansive, but with a lot of the people on the list, I can't remember the last time I talked with them, or even looked/wrote on their Facebook wall.  I know I am not the only person who has this issue.  The irony with social media is that we can communicate with people all over the world, but how often do we form and maintain meaningful relationships with anyone in our circle of friends.  Being dearly beloved means that we view people more than just a number, or what they can do for us, but it is seeing people for who they are as people for who they are and not what they can provide for us and our ego. 

  Another thing about being dearly beloved is that there is a level of intimacy with the people in the relationship.  Intimacy is about being open and honest with people.  Now I do admit that there are varying levels of intimacy.  We often don't share the same stories with acquaintances as we would with our best friend and or significant other.  When we are intiment with each other, it means that we are honest with each other and we tend to keep it real.  It is the ability to share truth with each other and not having to sugar coat it.  We should always tell the truth, but how many of our friends get the unfiltered version of it where we don't dress it up.  Being intiment with other people means that we don't hide anything, and that we are completely honest with each other and are willing to stick around for the good and the bad, because our intimacy is based on ones relationship with each other and with God.

   Being dearly beloved also means accountability.  As I have witnessed many weddings along with infant baptism/dedications, I have noticed everyone in the room has a special connection to the people in the ceremony.  I feel like when one is a dearly beloved, there is an element of trust and accountability. Whether its the accountability to come along side the parents to raise a Godly child to helping the couple remember and live our their vows.  As Paul wrote in his letter to Philemon, he encouraged Philemon to take Onesimus back, and not to treat him as a slave, but as a fellow worker in Christ.  Truly beloved not only treat each other with respect, but we make sure that wrongs are righted and that we care more about restoring relationship and growing in grace. When we take this approach to life, it often means sacrifice.  We are more concerned with glorifying God than we are having our own back scratched.

  Finally, when I think of being dearly beloved, I think of communion.  It is a group of Gods people gathering around the table to remember the sacrifice of Jesus and that the tomb is now empty.  In my tradition, when we take communion, we are figuratively gathering around the table and partaking in the meal.  I know for me growing up, the kitchen table was one of the most intimate places in the house.  My parents spent many nights at the kitchen table with friends talking and playing cards with close friends as us kids played.  I went over to some friends house for Christmas Eve, and we ended up not in the living room, but around that table eating, talking and sharing a lot of laughs along the way.  I think that communion reminds us that no matter what the world tells us, we are beloved by God and that the church is more than just a place to sing a few songs and here a sermon.  Church is a place where family gathers to do life together, because  as a Christian, we are family encouraging each other to grow, along with celebrating the good times and praying with each other through the bad

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Winning

Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing- Vince Lombardi

  Our culture has two very distinct and polar opposites views of what being a winner is. The first one is that you are a winner for just showing up and participating. It is geared to make you feel warm and fuzzy and everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. The other view is summed up in the quote above. If you didn’t win, you came in last place. It is about doing whatever it takes to win and this mentality breeds the idea of it isn’t illegal unless you get caught, and even then it still might not be wrong. I think there is a third version of what it means to be a winner and it can be found in Deuteronomy 6. Deuteronomy is Moses farewell letter to the nation of Israel, and he is reminding them of several truths in this chapter.

The first truth is: that we need to Hear. Hearing is more than listening so one can respond to what is being said, but it is also dwelling and understanding what is being said. When we are listening to respond, we often make quick judgements, assumptions that are not always correct while sticking our foot in our mouths. Moses urges us to hear to understand because what he has to say is really important and life changing. There probably is a reason why the good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth.  Its so we can listen more and speak when needed.  Listening also means we hear and process through the tough stuff and that we don't make excuses and we own up to things that need to be owned up to. This allows us to hold on to Truth and to throw out the garbage that comes our way.

The second truth is: there is one God. No matter what our culture tries to tell us, there is only one God and that non of us are Him. God is the Creator of all things and we are apart of His creation. As hard as people try to play God and believe that they can do whatever they want, this is just simply impossible, because it will send all of creation into chaos. In all reality, God is the ultimate judge and jury, and at the end of the day, every person will be held accountable for what they said and done along with their attitudes.

The third truth is: keep it Simple. There is the KISS method of doing life, and it is keep it simple stupid. We trend to mess things up and God knows this, so He gave us a very simple rule and that is that we are to love Him with all we have. This means that God is the center of our lives and everything else will fall into place. It wont always be easy, but we do have a choice. Do we worship ourselves and watch our lives be miserable, or worship God with all we have. When we worship God in everything we do, this leads to the second greatest commandment, which is to love everyone who we come in contact with as ourselves. Our interaction with God will change us, and this means that how we see and interact with people will change to. It is seeing someone not as a pawn in some game, but as a child of the Creator of the universe.

The fourth truth is: to be Teachable. Nobody likes a know it all, and the chances of anyone knowing everything is slim to none. Being teachable requires a lot of humility, patience and putting into practice what one has learned. It also requires critical thinking, being able to discern actions and thoughts to see if they have merit our are a bunch of trash. It also is about finding someone who is worth while to learn from because we become the sum of who we spend the most time with and we let speak into our lives.

Winning is more than drunken tirades on the internet while trying to find tiger blood. In life there is scoreboard and its called eternity and it is for a really long time. To paraphrase what Jesus said, what good is winning here on earth if we loose out on the ultimate walk off, which is spending eternity in the presence and in relationship with the Creator of the Universe. The only way this is possible is if we accept Christ free gift of salvation and we live for God

Monday, November 20, 2017

Meeting with God

   A number of years ago, I went to a Tenebrae Service (it is a service held on Good Friday and is very quiet, somber and reflective in nature) and during the course of the service, I came across Psalms 24.  As I reflected on the passage, there are several key elements that I took away from that passage and I have been reminded of those as of recently.

   The crux of the passage for me is in verses 3-6 where King David ask the all important question of who can actually ascend the hill of the Lord.  What David is really asking is God really approachable and personable, or is God some sort of distant Deity that rules with an iron fist.  In the time of David, the thought of the day that the Deities of the day sat on top of the highest mountain ruling the earth.  So if people wanted to meet with the deity, they would encamp around a particular mountain and I would venture to guess that a few brave souls would try and climb that mountain to meet their god.  What David is telling us, is that not only God approachable and personable, but there are requirements to being in His presence. 

   The first requirement is that our actions do matter.  What we do and how we treat people is important to God.  I think how we treat people through our actions is important, because we can easily either degrade or uplift people by what we do to them or for them.  As important as to focus on our actions, we also need to be careful what we say.  If you spend any time on social media, people are quite vicious to each other.  Some of it is that there is a lack of accountability.  I can call someone a jerk on Facebook and have no fear of being punched in the face as if I were to do it in person.  So here is my question, do our words and actions build each other up, or do they tend to be sarcastic in nature and tend to tear people down or apart. What we do and say is a reflection of the condition or heart.

  The second requirement is that as much as our words and actions matter, our intentions matter just as much.  One of the things I have wrestled with is that is doing the wrong thing for the right reason still wrong.  I have come to the conclusion that it is still wrong just as doing the right thing for the wrong reason is just as wrong.  I know I have been guilty of this, it is dong something nice so that I might gain favor with someone or that it will get me out of some future trouble.  Our are intentions God fearing or self fulfilling.  To help decipher where our intentions lie, as who will be glorified the most, ourselves, others or God along with does it build people  up or bring them down.  Our goal is so that our actions and actions match up and this only can happen through God changing our heart.  Here is a good reminder. Our thoughts/intentions often leads to words, our words often lead to actions and our actions builds our character.  So if any one thing goes unchecked for a period of time, it can lead to some serious issues.

   The third requirement is that we be pure in heart.  This harkens back to the Beatitudes found in Mathew 5.  Being pure in heart is more than just looking the part.  It is more than showing up to church/small group along with doing and saying all the churchy things are important, but are we doing these things out of show or is it because we are the real deal.  When we do things for show, it eventually will catch up with us and our true colors will shine through.  In essence, sometimes faking it till you make it is still faking it no matter how hard one tries. 

    Being pure in heart often manifest itself in how we treat other people.  Are we people of our word and keep up what we promise to the best of our ability.  Do we honor our commitments in a timely manner while doing it to the best of our ability.  How do we treat others who honor who may owe us something?  Do we treat them with respect our do we gouge them for everything they are worth.  Being pure in heart is loving God with all we have, and letting Him transform us while loving our neighbor as ourselves.  Being pure in heart does not mean we are nieve or aloof. It means we take an honest look at life and where we are at. It also is knowing what we are created for and pursuing that while setting our hearts and minds to everything that is good, right, pure and just.

  The fourth requirement is that not all who wants to ascend the hill of the Lord will make it.  Whether the cost is to great, or we are being stubborn, or good ole apathy, not everyone will make it to heaven.  Even though God is a personable and not only wants to meet with us, but provides a way, not all will do it.  We are reminded at the beginning of the chapter that God is the Creator of all and all the earth belongs to Him.  We can not reach heaven on our own terms, because God is Holy, Just and Righteous, and our sin without the atoning work of Jesus wont get us into heaven.  Getting into heaven on our own is about as easy as getting into the Oval Office without the blessing or the invitation of the President.  The rock n world has made a keen observation about this world and eternity.  If there is a stairway to heaven and a highway to hell, this should tell us about the expected traffic flow to both places. My final question is this, are we Christians in name only, or are we becoming disciples, putting into practice what it means to love God with everything we have and loving our neighbors as ourselves day in and day out?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Picking up my cross

  In a previous post, I discussed some of my observations from N.T. Wrights book The Day the Revolution Started.  There is one thought that I didn't explore in the post because in all reality, it deserves its own post and I will try and tackle it today.  The thought is that when Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16, that if they wanted to follow Him, they needed to deny themselves and pick up their crosses.  This is a scary thought, not matter the time period, and what does it mean for us to pick up our cross and to bear it daily.  There are several implications to this phrase that scare me and here is the first one.

   The first implication is that the phrase "to pick up ones cross" has a totally different meaning in the first century then it does today.  The Romans were really good at finding gruesome ways getting rid of infidels and criminals.  The most gruesome way was the death by cross, because people died by suffocation when they were executed this way.  This means someone was going to die a long and painful death.  What made this phrase so revolting is that in the first century, you could find crosses up and down road with people being executed this way.    The imagery would of provoked great fear in to those who would of heard Jesus say those words and it is a realization that picking up ones cross would lead to humiliation, great pain, and eventually death.  What Jesus is really saying, is that following Him is not easy, pretty and it involves us dying to ourselves on a daily basis so that He may fully reign in us.  Essentially Jesus is drawing the line in the sand.  It is either our way or His way, and there is no middle ground.  Its an all or nothing type of deal and there are consequences for what we chose.

  The second implication that I realized is that as Americans, we don't handle death well.  Whether it is not talking about/to trying to put a positive spin on it or searching for the best medical attention we can afford or find.  In a book I am reading by Caleb Wilde, The Confessions of a Funeral Director, he makes the observation that when he is picking up a body from an institution for embalming, he is usually directed to the back door for pick up of the deceased body.  The  implication is that we like to hid death and if we hide it, that means it either didn't happen, or its not real or that we do not have to deal with it right now.  People deal with death in their own way, and I find some of them rather weird, especially in the planning of the service or at the funeral service itself.  In all reality, there are only two ways we leave this planet and the first and most popular one right now is by death. 

   The other part of this implication is that when we die to ourselves, it leads to a life better than we could have planned for ourselves.  In the spring time, if we want to see new leaves, the old ones need to die and to fall off either during the previous fall or during the winter.  But there always seems to be the pesky leaf or two that still holds on, and the only way it will fall off is if there is new life being coming in behind it.  In essence, if we want new leaves, the old ones have to die and fall off first.  This is the same way in life, we all want new habits, or a different outlook on life.  The only way this will happen is if we put to death the old, so we can have not only new life, but so we can have it abundantly.  To look at it this way, to die just to die is kind of pointless and maybe even a little vain, but are we allowing death to ourselves so that can shape us into the people He wants us to be. 

   The third implication is that picking up ones cross shows ones commitment level.  When Jesus tells His disciples and us for that matter, following Him is an all or nothing commitment.  We can not pick and choose what we want to follow or make some half ass commitment in following Him.  Jesus keeps it really real, and really simple.  To quote the movie Happy Gilmore, "Do you want a piece of me Bob" and Bob Barkers response is  "I don't want a piece of you, I want the whole thing." By the way, God is the same way, He doesn't want just a piece of us, but He wants all of us.  I know in my life, when I am not fully committed, I don't give it my all, and not only do I miss out on some really cool stuff, we are cheating God and others.  When we half ass it with God, we are really saying that we are either lazy, apathetic, or we are willing to only follow God on the parts we want to or until it gets rough.  In all honesty, we demand all of God, we demand all of other people, and yet we only require minimal effort from ourselves.  This does not seem right and it isn't

   The last implication is that in order for us not only to have eternal life, but a life worth living on this side of heaven is that we need to die to ourselves.  Are we willing to live our lives comfortably, or at be the king of our castle on this side of eternity and totally miss an eternity with God.  I get it, we all want to be like Sinatra and do things our way, but how often does doing things our way actually work out.  In my experience when we do this, our lives turns into a Michael Bay move with a lot of explosions, action, but the story line is lacking at best.  We have to be honest with ourselves and realize that most if not all of our ideas and motives are questionable at best.  Its really asking what is the point of having everything I want and or desire if it leads me to missing out on eternal life.  The last I checked, what God values is not only way better, but it is also better than anything this world has to offer.  So, how often are we picking up our cross and dying to ourselves so that we can seek Gods Kingdom and Righteousness first.  The last time I checked this needs to be at leas a daily thing if not a moment by moment decision,

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Being still

  Today is the opening of Minnesota's favorite holiday which is rifle season for hunting deer.  People put on their favorite color of orange and head to their favorite hunting places to spend at least the weekend if not the full week of hunting, eating and sharing exaggerated tales of days gone by.  I know for many, my family included, the hunting is cool, getting a deer is even better, but it is the ability to share several meals with friends you haven't seen since the last deer season is the highlight of the season.  One of the characteristics of being a good hunter is the ability to be stay still and to be quiet for long periods of time.  When one is able to do this, our senses our usually heightened because the chances of that trophy deer to walk by increases.  There are several observations that I have made about being quiet and still that hit close to home. 


   The first one is that as Americans, we have a hard time being quiet and still.  If we don't have our earphones plugged in, surfing our social media accounts, or watching/doing the next great thing, we find something else to distract our attention.  If any of you have ever watched tv with me while I have held the remote knows that I cant stay one station long and I despise commercials.  It got to the point when I would go over to a friends house, I could not touch the remote.  Sometimes in order to be quiet, we have to be content with where we are and with our situation.  Being content often gets rid of our distractions to be people pleasers, and learning to find value in what we have.  Here is just a forewarning, being content does not mean we are lazy.  Just as any good hunter knows deer movement and knowing when to change locations and where too, being content should lead us to do the same thing.  Its knowing when and where we need to grow and making those changes without making a big scene out of it.


  The second observation is that learning how to be still and content is that it limits the bonehead decisions.  How often when things are not going well, or even when they are, we make a rash decision and it ends up back firing on us.  These decisions tend to be messy and to use a popular phrase, its like poop hitting the fan.  When we are learning to be content with what we have, we may not know what all of our steps are going to be, but we know what the next one is and it is taking it.  There are plenty of times where that next step takes us out of our comfort zone, but we know it is the next step and it is an important one.  It is learning the difference between taking risk and being stupid.  The last time I checked, God doesn't call us to stupidity.  Where God is calling us is often where we are fighting against the most or just avoiding all together.  This usually leads to a lot of awkward silence.


   The third observation about being content is that we listen.  When we listen, we are not listening to respond, but listening to learn.  This usually happens when the world is throwing the kitchen sink at us and Murphy and his stupid laws are camping out in your life,  During this time who we listen to is very important.  We will hear those dominate voices in our life, and they range from your a no  good idiot, to what on Gods green earth are you doing, to people who are in your corner giving you encouragement and telling you to keep on keeping on.  If we listen close enough, the next step that we should take often comes in a still small voice, and the only way we can hear it is if we turn off the noise and shut up.  Often during these times we are in the valley and maybe even in the shadow of death, but its where we grow the most because in the valley is where the good grass is.  The last time I checked, God usually doesn't send out emails, rent billboards or post on our Facebook walls to talk to us or make His point, but He often speaks to us in the still small voice.  Are we quiet enough to find it and listen to it, or do we keep listening to the distractions.


  The fourth observation comes from Psalms 46.  The Psalmist writing about how the chaos of life is throwing the author for a loop.  To put it in modern terms, it is being stuck in a crappy job with no way out, bills that are pilling up, unfavorable medical situation to family/relational strife.  I have seen verse ten broken down this way:


                                    Be still and know that I am God
                                    Be still and know that I am
                                    Be still and know that I
                                    Be still and know that
                                    Be still and know
                                    Be still and
                                    Be still
                                    Be


   We can have all the right answers and we can put away all of the distractions, but its about knowing who we are, knowing God and living in the present situation that we a child of His no matter what and living in that reality.  The sooner we realize that our life is about our actions coming out of who we are and not vice versa, the better life will be.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

revolution of love

    I just recently finished up my new favorite NT Wright book, which is The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus' Crucifixion. Not only does the book explore the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but it also puts the rubber to the road of the practicality of what Jesus did for us.  There are several things that NT Wright talks about in the book that caught my attention that is worth exploring.

  The first observation that occurred to me is that NT Wright doesn't give as much time on the  different atonement theories as I would have thought.  The different atonement theories are the Ransom Theory, where Christ death and resurrection was used as a ransom to buy us back from some Satan. The Penal Substitution Theory is where God took our place on the cross.  The Recapitulation Theory is that Christ death and resurrection turns our disobedience to obedience.  The example theory is that Christ provides an example for us so that we have an example to follow.  These theories all have some positives along with glaring weaknesses. The author puts them into their place and the author puts them in their perspective place for something better. 

   The second observation that I made is that NT Wright focused more on covenant theology instead of the atonement theories.  We can see throughout the Bible that God has created covenants with His people.  Covenant is different than a promise because both parties agree to it and there are dire consequences if one or both parties do not meet up to expectation.  Two of the more famous covenants that we see made in the Bible are made with Noah and Abraham.  Noah's covenant was that God will not flood the  earth again and we were given Gods word through the rainbow.  The other famous covenant made was with Abraham and that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. Gods ultimate covenant is that He will be our God and that we will be His people.  Christ death and resurrection provides the way for it to happen.

  The third observation that I made is this idea that leaving this earth and getting to go to heaven may not be the most Biblical idea out there.  This idea leads to an escapist theology that relies on us getting saved and then wanting to get out of here.  We find in the Creation story in Genesis that when God created the heavens and the earth, He called it good.  There is also the statement in Revelation that Jesus comes to make all things new.  The third question is that why would Jesus suffer a brutal death and be resurrected in bodily form if heaven was our final destination.  Throughout the four Gospels, there is a lot of time devoted to the Kingdom of God. When the discussion of God's kingdom came about, there are two things to notice.  The first one is that Gods Kingdom is in the here and now and also not yet, which means we are living in Gods Kingdom, but it still needs to be completed.  The second observation is that with all of the talk about the Kingdom of God, there is no mention of escaping to that mansion on the hill.  Here is a quick reminder, our salvation can not be bought or even earned.  It comes from Gods grace and Him desiring to be in relationship with His creation.  If salvation and the Kingdom of God is in the here and now, should it change how we live and see ourselves and other people?

   My final observation is an actual quote from the book and here it is.
       What if having our sins forgiven is to small of a thing, but the death and resurrection is about the
        kingdom being restored and a royal priesthood being realized.
   The observation is this, sometimes I think we think to little of Gods grace or we try to limit it to certain things or we just want to place it in a cute little box.  Gods grace is so much more than we realize.  Gods grace and power tore the Vail in the temple to the Holy of Holies so that anyone can have access to God.  When we accept Gods grace, we become a member of the royal priesthood.  What this entails is another blog post.  A quick reference would be to read the book of Hebrews.  Being a member of the royal priesthood means that we are pointing people towards Jesus and putting skin on what grace, mercy and forgiveness looks like. This is reflecting the image of God and realizing that His love is revolutionary and when we embrace the power of love instead of the love of power cool things happen and the world is changed

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lamenting

  One observation I have made is this, and it is that the prophets of the Old Testament are not for the faint of heart nor do you get the warm fuzzes from reading them.  There more in tuned with being Gods messenger to the nation of Israel in times of destruction and often provide a warning to people of what will happen if things won't change.  They are more concerned with the message and life change, and not being liked or followed by scores of people.  I think this what our culture has dubbed "real talk."  Real talk cares not so much about feelings, but about the message.  As Christians, we should be concerned with real talk, and more importantly, are we doing it out of love, with grace and humility, and aiming that it leads to life change.  In essence, real talk, the messenger gets out of the way, and provides the message that God has given to them.  One prophet that provides a lot of real talk is the prophet Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations.  What inspired this post is the book Prophetic Lamentations by Soong-Chan Rah.  The book came out of a several week preaching series on the book of Lamentations at a church he was a pastor at. 

   Here is a brief synopsis on the book of Lamentations.  The city of Jerusalem is in ruins cause Babylon came and torched the city, and hauled off all of the promising talent, while leaving everyone else in the midst of chaos and despair.  People were left for dead and the Temple, which was a place of worship and even national identity for the nation of Israel was no more because it was torched.  The state of  Jerusalem at that time is every country song/end of the world/zombie move x10.in the midst of the chaos, destruction, and hopelessness, the book of Lamentations teaches us what it means to really lament and that there can be hope in the mist of our despair.  You know things are bad when Jeremiah walks around Jerusalem in his naked proclaiming Gods message.  Maybe he felt that he wasn't being heard or desperate times calls for desperate measures.

  The first observation about true lamenting is that lamenting is being brutally honest with ourselves, others and God.  How often do we sugar coat things to make them better than what they really are.  The flip side of that is how often do we make mountains out of mole hills.  True lamenting is taking a look at the situation and admitting that the marriage is over, that the relationship is beyond repair, we are never going to have our dream job.  True lamenting is grieving those things, but also moving on.  It is living within those consequences and moving forward.  It is not letting a certain person or situation handicap us.  True lamenting also takes stock in how our actions contributed to where we are at.  Not only does lamenting take a look at our actions, but it also takes a look at are attitudes, intentions, talents, or the lack there of and seeing how they all played apart to where we are at.  Tue lamenting is taking a look at all things and coming up with a plan to fix things when possible, and to grow and mature from this.
    This also means we are completely honest with God.  When I think of true lamenting, sometimes I think it is giving God the preverbal finger and being totally angry/frustrated/lost with God.  Its admitting to not knowing what is going on and that we are extremely angry.  Where true lamenting comes in, is when we learn to be quiet and listen to God.  Just like Job we demand our day in court with God, but we also have to embrace Gods response to us because where were we when He created the heavens and the earth.  I find that a lot of my frustration with God comes from my own stupidity and sinful actions, thoughts and intentions.

  The second observation about lamenting is the idea that we put false hope away.  One of the more popular sayings among Christians is that it may be Friday, but Sunday is coming.  It is referencing Easter and the resurrection.  Having this thinking often minimizes the pain, struggle and sin that has taken place.  There are times where we need to be comfortable with living in the Easter Saturday.  I did an internship with the spiritual care team at a Catholic hospital and I went to the Good Friday service held in the chapel.  The box where the wafers are kept for commune is closed up when not in use, until Good Friday, where the wafers are removed and the box is left open.  This spoke volumes to me  because it signified that God was dead and any hope that we have when the way of Elvis and left the building.  How often in our lamenting do we thing that God either abandoned us, doesn't care, or just all out died.  This is a hard place to be in and we have all been there.  True lamenting allows us to be honest with our emotions and to fully take stock in what is going on.  We have a choice to either keep on keeping on, or just walk away from it all.  When we keep on keeping on, God will reach down and reveal Himself to us and we just have to look for it.  

  Here is a little rabbit trail on the idea of false hopes.  We often think that God will come down and make everything better when we cry out to Him.  This leads to one of the Bibles most quoted verses, which is Jeremiah 29:11, which the prophet tells us that God has a plan and that is a good plan, and that He has our best interest in mind.  What people tend to forget is the context to that verse.  Israel is still stuck in captivity and that God told to build houses, plant gardens and marry their children, because they were going to be there for awhile.  God isn't always going to be our white knight and come riding in to save us out of our every mess that we are in.  There are times where we have to live with those consequences that we brought upon ourselves.  

  The third observation about lamenting that I pick up on is this idea of Gods mercy.  I find it really interesting that in the middle of the book, Jeremiah proclaims Gods goodness and that His mercy is new every day.  Jeremiah also reminds us that God will never leave us, and that He is our rock.  True lamenting is realizing that God is still God and that He still loves and cares for us.  Tue lamenting is a realization that God punishes those whom He loves and calls His own.  The other aspect of it is that we live in a fallen world and that others peoples actions will have consequences on our personal lives and there are time those consequences are not good.  God will come in and rectify those wrongs and give everyone what they deserve.  As it is said, vengeance belongs to God and not us

The fourth observation of lamenting is that there is a community side to it.  We can all point out the sins of others and the downfall of different groups and generations, but it is really hard to figure out our own issues whether personally or as a group.  True lamenting means that we can come together as a church (local, national or universal), or as a nation and do some introspecting.  It is realizing where have fallen short, seeking the forgiveness of God and others.  One of the underlying principles to lament is humility.  It is taking the honest look at ourselves and not only realizing where we need to improve or ask for help, but it is also doing it.  When we truly lament we don't see people as second class citizens, but as people who are worth more than millions because they are created in the very image of the God of the universe

  The fifth observation is a short one, but a good one and that is lament can and should be used as a form of worship.  If you were to read through the Psalms, lamenting is a very big part of the songs and hymns of this book.  Putting our sorrow or life circumstances to song often helps us deal with them and to realize that no matter what we go through, our worship is reorienting ourselves and putting God back on His throne.  It is also reminding ourselves and to the world that God loves and cares for us more than we can imagine.