Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Male Dilemma

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

So right now, you're really getting a chance to view a great portion of my heart.  With my new obsession of biblical manhood and an already growing desire for a men's ministry one day, this issue is always something I'm thinking about.  Literally.  Like, I dare you to randomly ask me what's the latest thought of this dilemma and I'll be very ready to share---it's seriously always on my mind.

So, in my pursuit of biblical manhood I have watched myself begin with a thought, and then enter into subsets from that previous thought.  For example, my first thought began when I was thinking about true biblical manhood, I felt like I needed to see some examples of it.  Then I turned to my church and noticed their were a lack of variety because their was a lack of men in the church.  Then I said, "That's strange.  Why is there more women in this auditorium than men?"  Then I started some research and began to look every Sunday and just saw the ratio between men and women in the church was substantial.  So then I asked myself, "Well, if they're not here, where in the world are they?"

And that question began the burden.  I didn't know what I was truly asking God at the time, but now I do. "God, where are the men?  Where are your sons? Where are the leaders?  What are they doing if they're not here?"  But perhaps the most important question I finally asked,  "What has their hearts other than God?"

So I turned to culture to answer that question.  And, honestly, it was very obvious.  It's obvious because you'll find a common characteristic in men---- when they find something they believe in strongly, they'll give their lives to it---figuratively.  I looked at the culture and honestly just began to listen to them; because men love to show off their gods.  So, I started to find where the men were, and they were rapping, playing sports, and chasing money, in whatever way they feel is the best way to get money.

Have I summed up the men of our culture?

But, let's not focus on specifics and just get into the meat of this dilemma, because I hope you're curious in my opinion of what the Male Dilemma may look like.  And, I'm going to say that the Male Dilemma is that men are looking for their value in the wrong things.

I have to repeat.  I feel the Male Dilemma is that men are looking for their value in the wrong things.  Illustration time?  Let's do it.

So I have the privilege of working at a hotel where a lot of "famous people" come stay while they're visiting Auburn.  And, on this certain day, I had the privilege of working bellhop, and for the ones who don't know these guys, they are the nice gentlemen that help you with your luggage. (tip them!)  So before the day begins, I'm getting briefed on the ins and outs of how to do the job well, and also who I should be expecting to arrive at the hotel.  We have a V.I.P. list at work, which means the people on this list should be known by name so that we can greet them.  Guys on this list were Charles Barkley, Bo Jackson, Lee Corso, Erin Andrews, Desmond Howard, and other guys from Sportscenter.  And, I had the pleasure of coming into direct contact with all of them.  My first was Bo Jackson, the AUBURN GREAT, Bo Jackson.  And there I was, stomach in a knot as this expensive car comes rolling into our unloading area.  The other bellhops recognize the car and they look at me and say, "You want this one?  That's Bo Jackson."  Yes, I'll take this one."  I say to the guys and I rush up to the driver side to meet him.  And, I don't know what I was expecting, but, something happened as I greeted this man with his family.  I realized he was a normal guy.

No Claude, that's Bo Jackson.

No subconscious, this is a regular guy who happens to be very popular.  Then my mind began to race as I'm helping them with their bags.  "What if Bo didn't have the Heisman trophy or the recognition or the Auburn spirit or whatever, what if he didn't have those things, would I have ran up to that car with this silly knot in my stomach?"

Say it with me, "NO, I wouldn't have."

I would have gladly helped him like I did all the other "regular" people.  So it hit me, "Why in the heck do we  value this guy more than all these other people I helped today?  And what are we communicating when we treat them like this?"  And oh baby did it hit me.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  We're communicating to this former Auburn athlete and great that, "You're only valuable to me because you played football and did it so well that you won a Heisman trophy and made us love you."  So, I'm beginning to tap into where a lot of men are finding their value.  Football stars get great respect.  Rappers get all the women and fame and people love them.  I look at Lil Wayne and laugh at the women that find him attractive, because I know if he was a regular guy working a regular job he wouldn't be as popular as he is with the ladies.  So, we're communicating this to these men that they are only valuable if they are, rappers, sport athletes, have lots of money, have lots of girls----SO THIS IS WHERE MY BROTHERS ARE AT!!  GOD! I FOUND THEM! I FOUND WHERE YOUR SONS ARE!  I HAVE FOUND WHERE YOUR SONGS ARE POURING THEMSELVES INTO!  And, we/culture are continuing to feed men this synthetic manhood mush.  And guess who's the blame....

You, Mr./Ms. reader.
All of us.

We're the blame for this.  Manhood in modern day culture is being defined by these foolish things.  So of course men are going to want to be rappers. Of course we're going to want to be superstar athletes. Of course we're going to want to be rich, because the world is telling us, THAT'S WHEN YOU'RE VALUABLE.  It pains me that a man that God created in His own image is finding his value in how well he can run,catch, throw a football, or how well he can charm women, or how well he can rap, or how whatever.  And we've fallen into the cultural trap, pushing our men into pursuing other things besides their true reason for being in existence. And I'm not saying doing or participating in any of these things are necessarily wrong, but they're wrong when a man feels that's who he is.

I watched a football campus last regular season, walk into Jordan Hare stadium to watch just a guy that transferred to our school.  Some of us knew he had the potential of being awesome, but many didn't.  He was just another quarterback that transferred into Auburn University.  But then, we watched as this young man began to shock us with his talent and his popularity grew.  And by the end of the season, we were praising him.  Facebook status and Facebook pictures and stadium signs and t shirts and we communicated to this guy, "You were nothing, insignificant, a nobody----until....until you blew us away with your talents and showed us you're an amazing athlete. NOW, you're valuable.  NOW you're worth loving.  NOW, you're worth having my attention.

I bet you think this is a stretch.  Claude, you're being extreme.  I can understand that, especially if you're guilty of doing this.  I know when it first came to me I was hesitant about it, completely ignored it.  But the more I pursued biblical manhood and saw the desperate need for it in our society, the more this was exposed to me.  We're hurting ourselves.  The world needs more strong and true men of God but we're not valuing them at all.  The world needs more Godly father's but we're not valuing them at all.  So, since Christian men and good fathers aren't valued, is it plain and simple why men choose to consume themselves with the other chases of value?

I should end it here, because I can talk for days about this.  I heard one of my favorite pastors, Pastor Craig Groschel of Life Church say this, "Find your misery, Find your ministry."  And this topic burdens me, bad.  Because I know now that God wants His sons back.  He's righteously angry for their love.  See my previous blog about that called You God, Jealous?  

Thanks for reading,

Friday, December 2, 2011

What Have WE Done?

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

I really think I need to stop praying for God to break my heart for what break His.  Because, the more I gain spiritual eyes to see what God sees, the more my heart breaks for our generation.  And it just makes me ask the question, What have we done to ourselves?

The fact that sin and brokenness entered into the world from simply disobedience.... wow what!? Wait a minute.  Our culture loves to rank sins, but there's only two categories that God is focused on.  Obedience and Disobedience.  And all the sins fall into the disobedience category.  So the REALLY BIG SIN, the one we should all look out for and avoid--- if we really want to rank them is simply disobeying God. 

Yeah, I hope that puts a higher value on the decisions we make, I know it did for me.  Because the understanding that we're broken only because Adam and Eve wanted to do things their way, puts a much higher value on the decisions we make.  And here I am, with the still sharpening spiritual eyes and able to see train wrecks and broken hearts, people who are hiding behind their sins and thoroughly enjoying them to say the least and it makes me wonder, "God, how in the world do we correct this?" 

Wrong question.

God, how can we humble ourselves enough for YOU to correct it?
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
And, since I'm a guy, naturally I'm looking at the women of my generation first. I have no idea what is going on.  Like, look what we've done to our women.  Look at what the men have done to the women of our days.  Modern day womanhood is completely against and far from what God created it to be.  God says modest, the world says revealing.  God says gentle, the world says arrogant.  God says dependent, the world says independent.  God says helper to the man, the world says they're the same and should be treated as equals.  God says beauty is fleeting, the world says beauty is competing----competing to see who has the best hair, the best clothes, the best make up, the best eye liner, how beauty is only outwardly.  

Why? Why are they thinking that?  Why are they behaving like that?  Hey men, these questions are directed at you.  It's our fault.  ITS OUR FAULT.  We are held responsible for this.  Just like coaches are held responsible if his team plays bad, so are we held responsible for this.  And, I watch women close to me deliver their hearts on silver platters to underseving men who have figured out that showing affection gets women to fall for them. Or women giving over their bodies because they've been convinced that's how you get a man to pay attention to you, to be interested in you, show some value to you.    

Men?  What have we done?  

I had the privilege of being at work while the Miss Glometra Pageant was going on. My University has this pageant I'm sure every year to promote the yearbook and blah blah.  So, I'm watching as these contestants come out onto the stage, smiles and dolled up, looking extra beautiful to really be able to get the judges to like them.  And I'm sitting there and my heart is aching like, this is what we're doing to our women?  This is where God's daughters are ending up?  Prancing around on a stage in hopes of winning this pageant which will confirm her value for her.  Sure, none of them are literally thinking that, its all subconscious.  And the entire time I'm thinking, "They're more than this."  

And my mind continues to stay on Adam and Eve because my goodness they're the perfect example of a lot of things.  I see God's disappointment in man.  Like, "I brought you Eve.  I delicately crafted her from your rib, created her after you to show you her importance to Me, and also gave you headship over her.  You had the law before she came, and you didn't protect her.  You didn't lead her Adam.  You didn't show her that she's more than just a pawn to the crafty serpent.  You didn't protect her Adam.  You stood there and watched her destroy herself."  

Do we see the need for biblical manhood?  Wooo, do we need it NOW more than ever!  And, it haunts me that I know so many Christian woman that would willingly settle for a man that cannot lead them spiritually and are not walking out biblical manhood.  Here's a quick news flash, Sin came into the world because of poor spiritual guidance. And I love it because God addressed Adam first when He knew they sinned.  Then He followed the chain of blame all the way to the serpent. 

So, I titled the blog what have WE done?  As men, we're the blame for a lot of this.  I'm annoyed now when I hear the "strong independent woman" soliloquies done by SOOOOOOO many women around me. Hey, I understand, you have to be.  A lot of you are raising families now.  I was raised in one of these single mother homes.  But it would be a lie from Hell to say its ideal, because now I'm seeing the dysfunction, the hurt, the voids that were present because of it, so stop bragging so much about it.  It's not a good thing that you HAVE to be in this role. I say that bluntly so you'll value a husband that can provided you the spiritual guidance that's necessary, not optional, necessary.  Not just a good paying job and all his teeth. Not good enough.  Not well he goes to church and he kind of love Jesus.  Not well he was raised in the church. LOL, love that one.  Pursue God, and pursue the best He has for you.  And this right here, is the best He has for you.  The best for you is you actively walking out what women were designed to be.  Let's see, in Genesis 2:18, Eve was created to be a suitable helper for Adam. I hear a lot of women take great pride in things opposite of that, which, again, I understand because of the lack of biblical men.  I'm not against you pursuing self accomplishments for yourself.  I'm just asking that you not find your identity in your accomplishments or confuse that with that is what makes you a good woman. Here's an example, lets say a point guard takes great pride in how well he can rebound and block shots, but he's unable to bring the ball down the court and run the offense.  Not a basketball fan?  Ok, lets say a quarterback takes great pride in how well he can catch the snap and run the football but he's unable to lead the offense, call the plays, and throw the football, which is HIS ROLE ON THE TEAM.  Assuming everyone is a sports fan Claude?  Ok, a company hires an accountant.  And this accountant takes great pride in how well they can fix computers and run the company, but cannot balance spreadsheets and handle payroll.  Useless right?  Now, don't get me wrong.  Its great if the quarterback has great hands and can run the football, i.e. Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, hence the Heisman Trophies.  Or its great that the point guard can rebound well, Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd, but if they couldn't do their TRUE roles on the team, the reason why they're quarterbacks or point guards or accountants, (sorry I don't know any famous accountants,) they're useless.  So, don't be a useless woman focusing on the wrong things.  You're designed to be in Gods best.  And, whatever capacity that looks like, that's between you and God and your husband.  My job is to plant the seed--- to point in the direction.  Go see Dad about this issue.  I've already sought Him about the role of men and this blog was produced. 

So, if this sounds a little tough to accept, I understand.  Our minds are wired culturally so if we're trying to understand God through our culture modernized corrupted minds, then I understand how you can disagree with this.  But, instead, try this.  Only if you're placing your mind on heavenly things and sincerely seeking God's best for your life, then, run this by Him. See what He says.  Don't just take my word----because it's not even my word. Crazy huh?  

Take care.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Your God, Jealous?

"You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God" Exodus 20:4-5

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

Amazing how life brings clearer understandings of God's word to us. As I've been watching a few families and my own trying to handle rebellious children, this verse really brings about some clarity.  I've witnessed and listened to parents hurt for their children when they become rebellious.  Some express it differently.  Some retaliate with anger, some just give up.  Hmmm...what is a parent to do?  What does God expect the parents to do in these situations?  I don't know, but maybe we can find it from how He handles us? Because we were ALL once an enemy of Him.  This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Colossians 1:21

Here's where I'm headed with this thought, or rather the revelation I had about this verse. Here's the situation.

So there's a mother and one of her daughters is becoming rebellious.  And, I've been able to listen to this mom's anger and frustration with her daughter's attitude towards her.  And common phrases that I continue to hear are things like: "Out of all I've done for this girl, this is how she treats me."  "She should respect me more than that, I'm her mother." After a while of listening, I finally allowed my mind to wander away at what those phrases really were saying as they were coming from the mother's mouth.  Check this out. This is what I really began to hear.

"I held you in my womb for 9 months.  I carried you and nurtured you until you were healthy enough to do it on your own. I supplied for you, protected you.  When I didn't feel like changing your diaper, I did it because I loved you.  Whenever you cried, I came to see about you.  Whatever you needed, I did what I could to give it to you.  All I've done for you, all these things I've done for you, because I love you.  And this is the thanks I get?"

And my Creator showed me Himself in all of this.  Hey, its honestly the only way I've been able to make some kind of understanding of it.  And it blows my mind to see the relevance here, the obvious story that is being played out.  For the ones who need help with what I'm really saying, here's the meat of this story. 

"The mother's love for her child isn't being repaid by the daughter."  Perhaps it'll never get paid, but that's not the point.  The mother understands that.  She knows the daughter will never be able to repay her for all the sacrifices and efforts she's put in to ensuring she was well taken care of, but it's like a slap in the face for the daughter to basically say her mother, "I owe you nothing.  I do not care about your guidance or nurturing or advice anymore."  All of a sudden, the mother knows how to do NOTHING.  But the young baby girl never refused a diaper change, but now the young girl is an adult now with her own understanding of life.  Teenagers. Continue reading.   

"But you used to listen.  But you used to love me.  You used to look up to me.  You used to want to be close to me.  What has happened?"  And here's where you can find the serpent again whispering lies to the young woman.  Painfully, the mother has to watch as rebellion takes over her child, just like God had to watch Adam and Eve give way to the deception of the enemy.  "You reap what you sow" has to be acted out, God implemented that system.  He has to watch as we continue to choose other gods over Him, just like this daughter is choosing to follow her own way over her mothers.  And I can hear the mother screaming, "But that boy cannot love you like I can.  Those friends can't love you like I have.  All these things we're fighting about is only me screaming at you I just want your heart back with me.  When you were a little girl, I held you, I adored you.  And when you reached the age for you to choose your own influence you decided to go with another besides me."

Here's what we're dealing with. We live in an idolatrous generation.  So many of us choose other gods over the only GOD that has the power to do anything for us.  We'll continue to choose pacifiers that temporarily satisfies our hunger or thirst, where God is offering us a fully satisfying mean and drink in John 6:35, "Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." 

So, the take away from this is to remove what's making God jealous.  But see the heart behind it though, its not from an insecurity, but instead its from an understanding that those other gods you try to replace Him with cannot fully do anything for you.  Quick example, the fruit from the tree may have temporarily tasted good, but look at the full cost.  So, the real question is, why do we even bother?  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Another Nail

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

Above is pretty much my life verse.  I relate everything to being crucified, hence the blog name, Another Nail.  The visual seriously captures me every time I think about it.  The idea of seeing my desires, my way, my life being laid down and watching the nails being hammered through me into the cross, symbolizing I no longer live but I've given my rights to Christ, so that He can live in me and through me.

I hope that sinks in. 

So, here we are.  Now this public announcement truly isn't necessary, because it's not something to be publicly announcing foreal.  But I consistently desire to share my heart with you-----well, this is on my heart right now.

Its amazing how God is very thorough with what He does or what He's called you to do.  I've recently entered into a new season, called "Fasting Women".  Hahaha, I know what you're thinking.  What?  Well, let me explain how I reached this season. 

Sparing the heavy details, this started when it finally hit me that I'm the campus youth pastor at my church.  This is after like two weeks of it being official, Haha.  So, it hit me after one night at Switch (the name of the youth ministry I'm serving in), when my students were loving on me after one of the services. Its funny now, but then, I went straight into panic mode.

"Oh God! What?! No! I can't do this! Are you kidding me? Are you crazy!  You know I can't do this!" 

God, (shake my head), He's so patient and calm with us even when we're freaking out.  "Son, calm down.  You can do this.  I've placed you here. As long as you stay obedient and sensitive to my Holy Spirit, you'll be fine." 

And.... still in panic mode, got myself into trouble.  "Ok God! Ok! What can I do now!?"  And the first thing that popped up-----------women. 

"What!?  No, I'm good there.  I've been single since 2006."  Um, Claude.  What does being sensitive to the Holy Spirit means?  It means, if it got brought up, I might want to consider it.   

So, that led me to this season, fasting women.  What's funny, I have no idea what this looks like on a large scale, so I'm being obedient to God in the small things.  Less female friends, more male friends.  No texting late at night, less time on Facebook, etc.  Stuff like that that could encourage me to seek interest or become interested or tickle my heart with thoughts.  If this sounds extreme, well, its probably because it is.  ANOTHER NAIL.

I was asking God about the length of this fast, and I got led to Andy Stanley Love, Sex, and Dating series where He suggested men taking a year off from dating. He explain thoroughly which he suggests it.  Which, confirmed the length for me.  An entire year of not obsessing over women, hahaha, should be an interesting year.  ANOTHER NAIL.  And I'm very interested in seeing what happens as I replace the area in my heart designated as "Some Girl" and putting instead there "SWITCH, Church of the Highlands, the Word of God, Building relationships."  Well, I'll say it like this, instead of obsessing over women, I'll be obsessing over God and the things He's given me, which are SWITCH, Church of the Highlands, the Word of God, and relationships. 

ANOTHER NAIL.  It hurts right now.  But in the end, the reward will be greater than the lost.

A Woman's Worth

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." --Proverbs 31:10

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

Finally!  A King James Version verse that's better than the other translations! Hahaha, kidding.

I preached a message a few weeks ago titled Princesses of God to some fifth and sixth grade young ladies, and it was such an honor to pour into them.  We gave them all roses during the ministry time, it was awesome to watch their hearts melt after hearing God's word for them.  God has been working me deeply with this issue, something like a deep tissue massage---painful, but somehow relaxing.  So it was good for me to be able to share what God has been doing in my own life with these young ladies.  Now?  Are we ready for some transparency? If you're not, too bad. 

So, my struggles begin like many guys with addictions at a young age.  Exposed to things at a young age and no father around to change those views, so naturally they became my perspective on life.  And growing up in "black culture" and listening to rap and R&B where they were feeding me this consistent notion that women are sexy objects, and.....that's it.  Watching time after time after time women shaking their butts in music videos or allowing guys to use and dispose of them on a whim for cash or listening to them being call all sorts of things and not daughters of the King.....yeah, I was that guy.  And it shouldn't surprise anyone that I acted on these views---I mean come on, how else am I suppose to treat a women if this is all I've seen?  There is great power in influence and corruption, but no one seems to take it seriously.  I get asked a lot why I don't listen to secular music, and I don't give them the Holier Than Thou reason, "That's that devil music!"  But...I still say the same thing with this simple explanation, "I recognized it was influencing me away from God's standards."

So, let's talk about when and how I started to learn a woman's worth.  It heavily started this summer when I was around eight beautiful women of God during my internship at my church.  I was around these women four days out of the week, praying or being pouring into or serving together.  I recall one morning in chapel as I was praying God instructed me to turn around.  And when I did I saw these eight women, hands raised, eyes closed worshiping our God.  It was so beautiful to me, seeing them surrendered to God.  And God softly spoke to me, "This is how I want all my daughters." 

And in that moment, my perspective changed.  The lenses in which I saw women changed.  It went from always seeing girls as objects to seeing their potential in God.  It was the first time in my life that I saw a woman's worth, and it wasn't in what she knew about herself, it was from her potential.  I'll say it this way, it wasn't from what she was doing, it was from how God saw her.  Watching these eight women for three months greatly impacted my life.  Now that I see their potential, or rather how their Father sees them, it breaks my heart to watch women hide behind make up, or hide behind sex, or hide behind a man, or hide behind clothes, or behind whatever and its not God, because before a woman was able to find her worth in all of those meaningless things, God said she was worth it when He sent His son to die for her.  And you can find God's value on women so much in the Bible, when He commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, or the fact that Eve was crafted from Adam's rib, or when Adam was held responsible because He didn't protect Eve from being disobedient, so on and so forth. 

"So who can find a virtuous woman?  Her worth is far more than rubies."  Rubies are these beautiful, rare gemstones, our modern day equivalence to diamonds.  The most valuable and famous rubies are displayed in a museum in Washington D.C.  They're placed in these elegant glass displays so no one can touch them.  Reason?  Because the museum doesn't want just anybody touching these valuable rubies, because they might steal them, or harm them, or break them.  Sounds like John 10:10 huh?  "The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy."  And I've watched and taken a part in aiding the enemy to steal virginities, to steal value away from women, and this begins to kill them softly and slowly as they're fighting and doing whatever it takes to regain what was stolen from them, but in reality they're just further killing themselves and distancing themselves from God, which in the end, destroys them.  

These are God's daughters.  The Creator of the Universe's daughter. Elohim's daughters.  The Alpha and the Omega's daughters.

Ouch Claude.   

And the fact that God has to ask where can He find a virtuous woman should hurt us.  He knows it's rare, He knows its hard to find, just like those rubies.  Culture is going to laugh at you for dressing modestly, or saving yourself till marriage, or protecting your heart from them idiots like me that had no clue about love but threw the word around, only to sucker them into getting what I wanted.  Bunch of low lifes.  God helps us!

So, what am I saying here?  Again, where can God find a virtuous woman?  Where can He find them?  I long for the day to see a revival of women that are taking back their cities and communities and culture of being virtuous women.  Just like God is expecting men to rise above culture that says men are supposed to lust after women and misuse them and experience life, He's expecting the women to rise above culture that says women are beautiful only if they: put this on, where this, look like this, smell like this, etc.  You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.  And for whatever that's worth coming from me, I hope you receive it.  But if it means nothing coming from me, lets change how you're reading it.  Remember, God ordained this moment for you, and He wants you to know this..........

You're beautiful to Me.

Before you could gain that weight or grow that long hair or afford those clothes or lose your virginity or purchase that make up, you were beautiful to Me. Before it all, you were beautiful and worth it to ME.

Amen.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Courage of Love

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

The above verse is a very popular scripture.  I've heard it in many sermons, many life giving messages for the sinner to understand that God loved them way before they ever sinned, and that He stills loves them after.  But, as with many verses, I've never looked at it from God's perspective.  So lets put ourselves in the perspective of God and reread it.

"But I demonstrated my own love for you in this: While you were still sinners, my Son died for you."  

Um? While we were still sinners?  Do we even understand what that means?  God sat there with the wrath from His hatred for sin ready to just erase us all, He sat it aside and made a way for our escape.  He provided a sacrifice for the sin we have and haven't committed yet. He sat aside the offense, the slap in the face that sin does to the Creator when His creations turn their backs on Him, even while we were doing our own thing, angry with Him, hated Him, enjoying our sin, He loved.

How many of us would do that?

I know it'd be hard for me to do this.  So, I think the point I'm trying to make that their is courage in love.  I mean, God put Himself out there.  What I keep seeing when I read this verse over and over again is that even while we DIDN'T DESERVE LOVE, He loved.  Again I ask, how many of us do that?

We live in a culture that prides itself on having the ability to "getting people told" (which is country slang for, "telling people who it is, or telling people about themselves, or expressing a complaint---finally found the proper definition) and "don't let anybody run over you".  My my my....I don't even understand what I'm saying, all I know is that we do the exact same thing to God that people do to us.

People offend us, we retaliate.  People use us, we'll cut them off.  Dismiss them from our lives completely.  I remember hearing stories about a family member that seemingly prided herself on being able to "get a person told" like it was a good thing.  I saw it one day, when her order was messed up at the local McDonalds.  And she stormed into the restaruant and shared with the workers how inefficient and imcomptent they were because they couldn't get a simple cheeseburger right.  Which, true enough, it was simple.  All she wanted was meat, cheese, and mustard on a bun.  Another story, I was having some issues with my financial aid and some tax informaiton was incorrect, so my mom decided to call my school to see what the problem was.  She calls me back in a shorter time than I expected.  I ask what's wrong, she says that she hung up on the lady because she got an attitude with her because she was talking to her like she was stupid.  So, I asked... "Ok? Did that solve anything?"  Mom: "I'm not going to let anybody talk to me any kind of way Claude." Me:"Again, is this issue with financial aid handled?"  Mom: "Why you keep asking that?"  Me:"Because you hanging up the phone doesn't fix that I don't have enough money to be in school right now."

Are we seeing the point? My mom tried to justify that with I was just mad.  LOL, exactly.  But does getting mad solve the problem? Hey, I know we have emotions and the right to them and yada yada, but all I'm asking is does it fix it?  I remember my tire had a blow out a few months ago.  I had had a long day, serving at the church, working the youth ministry, taking kids home, and I was finally headed home to rest and be merry and think about my day.  And, boom, busted tire.  Now I have to deal with this!?

But, the strange thing about that night, it was like I was having an outer body experience and I was watching myself. I remember asking myself, "Dude, why aren't you upset?  You had already planned out your night, and now its interrupted by this flat tire.  You've been serving and working and running around all day, why aren't you upset."  And I remember my answer to my own questions.  "Life is bigger than this flat tire."

And it hit me, hard like a revelation of some sort.  Life is bigger?  Perhaps, maybe, just maybe, I was tapping into this eternal mindset thing a little bit.  So, maybe that's how God had the courage to love us?

So maybe in this verse God is saying this, "Life is much bigger than that life you all are in.  Life is so much bigger than the sin you're in, so instead of being mad, let me provide a solution.  Let Me pursue them again and show them My love.  And there's always a common saying that contradicts things like this, and it goes, "taking my kindness for weakness."  Do we think God is weak because He's kindly done this for us?


Well, from God's perspective, I see it as a strength.  It takes a strong person to love without reason.  To care without reason.  To have courage is risky business.  I mean, a very risky move.  Before He had a list of how many people would come to Him, He just loved us.  Hey, I mean He really just put Himself out there, "I know you don't deserve it, I know you're going to talk about me, say I don't exist, run away, turn away, disagree, laugh at, use, ignore, neglect, but I'm still loving first. I'm still going to send my son, because maybe, just maybe, I may get at least one person to commit to me.  Maybe one person will see my heart.  Maybe one person will be drawn by my kindness and see the strength in it."

Am I saying we should take pleasure in getting taking advantage of?  Crazy how we can so easily miss the point.  What I am saying is that God instructed us to love how He loves.  And I'll close with that.

1 John 4:11 " Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. "  

Next time you're angry with that waiter because he or she offended you, remember how you've offended God, and the courage He had to still love you and pay the bill.

If you can't say Amen, say ouch.  ;-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lord Of All(Most)

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Lets begin.


Smile, its not that bad. I promise. This subject is a just big deal to me.  I know some pastors that would rant and rave about this topic, deciding to make people feel bad about not following through and working out their salvation. Here's the thing, shhh, really big secret. Pay close attention.

These people are missing out. 

What am I talking about?  I've recently been discovering that a lot of people only want bits and pieces of God.  Especially the Bible Belt, where a lot of lukewarmness is prevalent.  A lot of people are raised in the church.  A lot of people have heard over and over and over and over again that Jesus Christ died for their sins and God so loved the world and Christmas was the birth of Jesus and Easter was the resurrection of Jesus----so why is everyone not on fire for God?  I mean, this information is SUCH A BIG DEAL RIGHT?! ITS THE GOOD NEWS!  So, how can people attend church every Sunday and continue in their sin?  How can people even serve and BE in the church and continue in their sin?

You're asking great questions.  Keep it up. 

What got me to these questions was truly incidental.  My lovely school newspaper at Auburn University published an article about two openly gay guys who were roommates and also practicing Christians. 

Um? What? 

Everyone had that response huh?  You wonderful Christians, so proud of you.  But wait, there's more.  Listen to what God said to me.

"Just like you, they haven't made me Lord over every part of their lives."

If you can't say Amen, say ouch. 

So, what does this title mean?  Lord of All(Most)?  I've heard my pastor say this before, "If He's not Lord of All, He's not Lord at all." What this generation is facing is a lot of this.  A lot of people who call God Lord, but only over selected areas.  I consistently hear people quoting bible verses and saying how blessed they are and God is first but not actually considering what that means.  So we want God in the area of blessings, or financial security, or the "good life", or to continue to zap us with the warm fuzzies when life is going perfect for us and we finally can say, "Live, Love, Laugh--- I'm blessed".  But the areas where God would demand attention, or demand reconsideration of our actions, we don't like that one.  We don't want Him Lord over that because that requires us to change.  It requires us to step away from our comfort zones, which is why I said in one of my poems that I was completely comfortable in my sin.  I mean hey, everyone is doing it! Of course I'll be comfortable.  That's how I started to fit in because I started to lust over women just like my friends, but the minute God entered into my life and His word challenged me with looking at my sin and challenging my behavior I immediately pushed it away.  God quickly became, LORD OF ALL MOST. 

Now, I was ok with God blessing me to get into college and blessing me in school and blessing me with peace and joy and a blessed life but not with Him trying to change me.  Because it cost something to give up what I had been defining myself as for so many years.

I love illustrations.  Here's one.  This is just like joining a professional football team.  We were the star player in our college where we were comfortable in the spotlight and we may had a lot of freedom and respect and attention.  But now we're on the professional team with the NFL's most recognized and critically acclaimed coach in the universe! And the coach has this amazing vision of how He runs His team.  Now the options are simple, you can be on the team, and you'll benefit more if you get acquainted with the vision. You'll benefit more if you build a good relationship with the coach so you can understand the purpose of every aspect behind His vision.  But however, if you walk in there demanding things to change to fit what you're use to....lets just say its not a good look. 

And we do that with God.  This generation has such a lack of honor for authority.  We can be practicing Christians and never take heed to the scriptures of God's law. "Hey, I see it God, like I'm feeling you on some of this book, but I'm not feeling ALL of it.  Because I was born like this.  Or, this is just how I am.  Or it's not that big of a deal. Or I'll get over it in time."


Again? Lies.  These are lies Satan plants in our hearts to make us settle in our sin.  Even for myself, I figured once I get a wife these lust issues would just magically disappear.  And thankfully I read this book that I'm now leading a small group about called Every Mans Battle that completely wiped my brain of that lie.  I learned that however you are is what you'll take into your next season.  If you're broken now, you'll be broken when you get that boyfriend/girlfriend.  You'll be broken when you get that good job.  You'll be broken when you finally get married.  Everyday is a part of our life story.  So, I challenge you to join me in getting completely bathed and completely immersed into the vision of our Lord and see what happens.  Because just like the football team, if you disagree with the results of the vision, you can always change teams.  But, I'm pretty sure you'll be happy with the results of the vision of this team.  Because My Dad's been doing this for awhile now.  Have you noticed that He didn't ASK anybody to help Him create the Earth? He didn't have to call and ask for advice on the best way to design the universe, nor did He have to borrow a template. Which means He's not looking for your two cents on how you would do it better if you were God.  I think we try to lower God like He's our president.  You can't vote for God to be God.  No campaign necessary, He'll forever reign.

And, that's what I'm mostly excited about--submitting to the vision and the leadership and authority of my God.  Because I never want to miss out on experiencing Him just like the young ruler did in the Bible.  He came to Jesus seeking more of Him.  But because the man was comfortable, because He was holding on to something that He didn't want to make Him Lord over, He walked away disappointed.  I don't want to be that guy.  And I don't want you to be that guy either.  We sing these songs all the time about God you're my everything and God I'll surrender my life to you and I bet He sits up there thinking to himself, "Yeah, we'll see."  We'll see when this concept is being addressed. Is He Lord of All?  Or ALLmost?

Which is why I say you could be possibly missing out.  I love how God expresses how interesting He is in this verse, "seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7.  Let me share with you how I read that.  The Creator of the universe.  The King of Wonders, The Majesty, Holy of Holy, The Most High, says if we seek Him, we'll find.  Making Him Lord over ALL will clear the way for this seek, and I can guarantee, YOU WON'T REGRET THIS DECISION.  Because....

I haven't regretted giving up my life yet. ;-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Defaulted Pursuit

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Lets begin.

It's becoming difficult for me to admit this.  But, I have defaulted my pursuit after God.  The example that comes to mind is this:

In this long deserted field you see me chasing this fast moving train.  The wild terrain under my feet makes every step interesting because I'm unsure if I'm close to stepping in a hole or needing to jump over a rock.  But it does add an intense thrill to the chase.  And the train is closer in sight.  I had been staring at the caboose of this train for sometime now, just desperate to reach it.  As my intentions become even more purer of reaching this train, I find the distance between the two moving objects is shrinking.  As with anything, the momentum I'm gaining and the progress I'm able to see is fueling my legs to continue its work.  And in what seemed like no time at all, I found the caboose in reaching distance.  With one more desperate outstretch I finally land a finger on the railing.  The warm feeling of accomplishment entered my body so I gave one more effort to reach and this time got my entire hand on it.  SUCCESS!  And with all my might I hurl myself over the rail and land safely on the caboose.  After sitting upright I watch the train quickly moving away from where I was just running.  Choosing to rest and catch my breathe, I sit and enjoy the true comfort and peace and just watch the beautiful view pass me by.  Man....this is the life.  

But I'm missing something.  I've been chasing this train for so long and I'm just content with just reaching the caboose?  Lol, and if you haven't figured this out, the train is God.

I love talking about my pursuit of love that I went through a few years ago.  I was passionately seeking God and trying to understand His love for me.  So I started to chase the train, desperate to understand it.  No more religion, just God.  No more can't do's, just God.  And, typical Christian, only wanting to know what we can expect from God.  "God is going to do this and that for me because He loves me, oh dear!"

And....we miss the point.  Here I am, on the train.  HE ALLOWED ME ON THE TRAIN! OHHH!!  But wait, this train is infinitely long.  I can't even see to the front of it!  Why am I not desiring to see the rest of the train?! I defaulted my true pursuit of God.  After learning about what I can expect from God, I defaulted the pursuit because I never learned what He expects from me.

If you can't say Amen, say Ouch.

So, basically, this blog is about me recognizing that since I "think" I have a grip on how He loves me, I need to be focusing on how I can love Him.  Um, yeah, I believe I can end it on that.  Love you all. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Is True Life of Abundance?

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."  John 10:10

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.  

Now, John 10:10.  Popular verse.  Its one of those verses that a lot of people know and is spat around the common religious people when they want encouraging about their situation.  And I understand--- it is a very comforting verse.  But, its even better if it was being translated correctly.

Now, being a child raised in church, I've heard the prosperity message.  And to be honest, its why I came to Christ.  Yep, sign me up for this blog punching in gut, because it was me first.  I signed up to follow Jesus just so I can get a prosperous life on Earth, because I was told that if I delight myself in the Lord I will blessed with the desires of my heart.  I was told if I lived right then God would bless me.  I was told that if I did ______, God would bless me with ______.  So God is this McDonalds worker.  "Since you've committed to us today for increasing your already bad health, anything you ask for I'll give, because you've delighted in the golden arches today."  I've heard a lot of people claiming financial blessings and claiming blessings after blessings after blessings and we're still missing the entire point of salvation.  We're missing God's greatest desire for us, and its just to be with Him.  Let's take a walk, I promise you this will make you feel better.   

Just listen to this story from Genesis, I'm sure you've heard of it.  "Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

So, Adam had everything he needed.  He had food, place to stay, and God.  So sin actually came into the world because of our natural stupidity to desire stuff that's off limits, but also because they were looking for MORE.  Here's a few humans actually really 21st Century-ish and desiring other things because we think they'll make us happier  And my friend's pastor Jason Brinker said it best, "financial wealth can never make up for spiritual poverty"

Wanna know why?  Because God IS abundance. GOD IS EVERYTHING WE NEED.  Let me say that again, GOD IS ABUNDANCE.  GOD IS EVERYTHING WE NEED.  So He doesn't have to re-promise something He's already promised.

Let's get to the point.

So, what is God's greatest desire for us? Like, humans, what is God's greatest desire for our lives?  The answer can be seen in John 3:16.  " For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."  

Saved from what Claude?  Saved from a poor life?  Saved from living paycheck to paycheck?  Saved from living in poverty?  Credit card bills? Food stamps?

So? If you're needing help, the answer to me looks like God's greatest desire for us is to have relationship with Him.  Let me explain.  See when Adam and Eve sinned, it put a wedge between us and God.  So, God wanted His children back so bad that He sent Jesus to save the world from sin so we could be with God again.  (I love how simple the gospel is).  So, considering Jesus didn't come to ensure us a prosperous Earthly visit, then why are we in the pulpits talking so much about money?  Because our minds can be so out of whack that we actually build our entire lives around RIGHT NOW, EARTH.  (Ouch, conviction is hitting me already.)  We focus so much on Earth, thinking why don't I have this? Why don't I have that? And we use verses like this to once again take advantage of one of God's characteristics.  Now the Man wants to bless us, don't get me wrong.  I just want us to realize that God was blessing abundantly BEFORE Jesus even came, He was blessing abundantly when He created the Earth.  You think He only made just enough for North America?

God cares about you, and how well you're living.  Don't miss that point.  But He cares more about having you in relationship with Him.  Yes, He can bless abundantly, but He sent His son to die for you to be with relationship with Him so you can have LIFE, AND AN ABUNDANT SUPPLY OF IT.  And all the perks that come right along with that.

I remember the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 walks up to Jesus and asks what should he do to inherit eternal life?  Hahaha. I seriously wonder what he was expecting to hear from Jesus, because obviously Jesus didn't give him the answer he wanted.  Jesus tells him to "Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”  Now, according to this generation and their prosperity messages, Jesus should have answered like this, "You got everything you need. BLESSED AND HIGHLY FAVORED!  Just be sure you're tithing that." But see here Jesus is telling this young ruler that I'm better than your riches, sell it all and watch me prove it.  So therefore, God cannot be extremely focused on how prosperous we are here on Earth.  I might even go as far as to say he doesn't want you even being concerned about it too much, because he did say you cannot serve two masters, you either love one or hate the other. And right after that he says you cannot love both God and mammon(wealth).  And its probably why He put the tithing condition in because He wants us to NOT be so concerned with it. He wants us to develop a "giving away" attitude towards our money and learning how to trust in Him with it, which will create this attitude of no matter what happens God, I trust you.  AND THEN POW!!!  HE GOT YOU WHERE HE WANTS YOU!

God wants us to reach this place with Him, where we trust Him.  Trust is a great part of a relationship.  The more our trust grows, the higher our faith grows, and the more we love Him because we're getting so much face time with Him through these moments.

So, what does this mean?  Can we stop preaching prosperity in the pulpits?  Jesus did not die for that.  Please start preaching life, the whole reason why there is a cross and a message to talk about.  Can we start conditioning people to be kingdom minded, and not just "living the good life" minded.  That's flesh stuff.  God is so much bigger than Him blessing us with stuff on this Earth.  And no doubt He can do it, but He really just wants you.  And I'm sure He'd rather you focus on that too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Intimate Father

Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" John 20:17

Hello readers. Welcome to my heart. Let's begin.

This is the final installment of the "Intimate" Series. In Part 1, I spoke about the Intimate God and His desiring to have true relationship with us. And now, I'm going to talk about the Intimate Father.  Of course, still talking about the same person, God.

I love being transparent.  I've found that it empowers people.  It makes whatever I'm saying more relatable when they can connect their weaknesses with mine. So, here goes. 

I didn't know I was longing for a father until I met the Father.  I'm starting to think that ALL children long for their parents.  I mean, think about it.  The two people that IS your DNA is in you, your tendencies and ways of thinking and identity were created from these two people. So, me being raised in a single parent home, I longed for my dad----but, didn't really know it. I'm not saying like it was a craving, like I really wished he was there.  But there was a longing, a disconnect, a void, hidden deep within my heart.  Because when I looked in the mirror I could see my mom, but I also saw someone else that I couldn't identify with.  I have family members telling me I look just like my dad, but, do I?  What else? Do I act like him? What else?

I remember having to do a lot of things on my own.  I think a lot of kids in this situation deal with it differently.  I seemed to quickly become content with the situation. Hey, can't cry over spilt milk, he's not there, move on. But what it did was cause me to isolate myself in my heart.  I learned how to manage on my own.  I remember learning how to play sports, alone.  I remember having to deal with my "first love", alone. I remember having to deal with my first heartbreak, alone. I remember contemplating whether to take my relationship further physically with my "second love", alone.  I remember having questions, and having to answer them, alone.  My mom always told me that I could go to the brothers and the pastor in my church, but I didn't know how.  I wished they knew that.  I didn't know how to GO to a "father figure", I mean, where would I learn that from? 

So, after hearing this from a pastor, "Our view of our natural father effects our view of God", it rocked my world.  Because, I had been having a hard time going to God, and I finally knew why.  I wasn't used to having a father.  So, the void remained. And early in my Christian walk, God the Father was treated just like my father.  I knew nothing on how to relate to this Father God thing, so I fell victim of just listening to whatever my pastor said in church.  I was an obedient child, hey, I did what I was told, for the most part.  And I carried that into my Christian walk.  Pastor says this, pastor says that--- a spoon fed walk--- carrying only on the teet of God.

"We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Hebrews 5:11-14

That was me.  Because since I had no idea I could relationally be with the Father, I was just this obedient little boy.  Did everything I was told. Just working on getting enough "good boy" praises and doggy treats all the way until I made it to heaven.  And then God rocked my world one day---- because that stopped working.  I couldn't find my joy from being obedient.  I was losing. It didn't feel like it was worth it anymore.  I mean, I'm doing everything I freaking can God to make you happy and you allow this to happen!!!!  But that only made me hurt more.  I couldn't see I was missing something. So after condemning myself for being angry with God, I just knew it was something I had done, so then I found myself squiring around, crying out, "God help me find out whats wrong.  What am I doing wrong. I'm not partying, am I lusting to much? What's wrong, maybe I'm not praying hard enough. Maybe, oh, I can start reading my bible more. Oh yeah, I was late for church, ok, I'll be early next time.  And, I'll quit lusting, sorry. You're right, it's........"


I stopped.  I stopped focusing on DOING and focused on EXPERIENCING my Father.  I just, looked at Him.  I literally, just started to seek His face.  FORGOT about what I knew I was supposed to do, and just experienced my Father.  And..can I say something? 


I finally gave God the opportunity to be real in my life.  Not based off what ANYBODY else had told me.  But, for me.  I learned He's patient with me. Because, He just waits until I work up enough nerves to stop trying to handle it on my own and come to Him. And He just sits there, probably laughing at me.  "Son, if you'd just lay down your life for me, I'll bless that."

I remember the first day my Dad said He was proud of me.

Say what now?  I'm sorry?  Can you say that again?

"I'm proud of you son."

Can I say I melted?  Like, literally.  The Creator of the world said He was proud of me.  My life changed that night.  I became a Daddy's Little Boy.  I seriously feel like I'm trying to hold my Dads hand everywhere, just wanting to go wherever He goes.  And even better, I get to go to where my Dad works.  See, He's really working for the lost, and He wants my help. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Matthew 9:37. Oh? Daddy? You want me to help you with the harvest! Ok?  I met my calling here.  The reason why God breathed life into me, I met it.  The reason why God had me raised up under an amazing pastor, and continues to line me up with other amazing pastors, because He wants me to learn from the best.  Now, just being a part of the job is an honor, but the fact that He wants me near really shows me He loves me. 

So I've been resting in His restoration of my innocence.  That little boy that was robbed of having this experience is 23 years old now, and I get excited when I get to talk about my Dad.  BRING YOUR FATHER TO SCHOOL DAY! 

Today! I have brought with me my Father.  He created the whole universe.  He created the Heavens and the Earth.  And, He even created YOU!  He told the oceans where to stop, He marked off the land, taught the water how to rustle and move. He was the first superman.  He parted the Red Sea, held the son still, spoke through burning bushes, heals the blind, the sick, and the weak, able to be EVERYWHERE at one time.  He even knows all of you! He loves unconditionally, merciful and just.  He's patient and kind, still waiting for all of us to return to Him. And guess what? He has a plan for every last one of you.  I know? Crazy right?  I didn't believe it either, but He does.  And He doesn't lie.  He can't.  He's God.  Everything He says becomes truth. If He says He's going to be there for you, He will.  If He says He'll protect you, He will.  If He says you can trust in Him, You can.  He can't lie.  

If I brought my Dad to school on that day foreal, I'd have the coolest Dad in the room.  Every year, every time.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  –1 John 3:1

Oh yeah, I can take Him to school with me. ;-)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Show Them My Son

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart. Let's begin.

I've had a certain prayer for awhile now. I've been asking God to help me with the proper way to minister.  An effective way.  I figure hey, since we're living in our last days then effective ministry is better than just any kind of ministry.  Screaming HELL from the street corners VS _________ <--God help me insert something there. I know its urgent times, but, what can I do?  And the answer I continue to get back from God is, "Just show them my Son."

Easy right?

If you think that, actually, you're reading it wrong.  You did what I did.  You're thinking He meant open up the Bible and literally "show them" the text about Jesus. Or, speak on the text about Jesus. So, talk about Christ, talk about the cross, etc.  "God, I know that.  But how can I effectively minister THAT to people?" I beckoned. So with God's simple answer going WAY over my head, as you can see, I continued to ask what's the best way to minister? And, our patient God, continued to say, "Show them my Son."

And it finally hit me.  I had my EUREKA MOMENT! The light bulb illuminated my entire brain up to this new theology.  What? JUST SHOW THEM YOUR SON?

YES! JUST SHOW THEM MY SON! (Bet you didn't know God spoke in bold huh?)

A rush of wisdom overflowed my brain and funneled to my heart. God was telling me to reflect His son. Be the mirror for the world to see His son. Now, we all know how mirrors work.  Its hard to reflect something if something is not present, same thing with Christ.  Its hard to reflect or show Christ when we're standing in front of Him, He has to be present for Him to reflect, hidden in Him, us out the way.  So after an extensive bugging of God, this is what I gathered from that simple saying.

Since Christ lives in us, we should be showing people Him, and not ourselves.  This is when verses like the one I opened up with and this one: I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but its Christ who lives in me, Gal.2:20, really comes to life.  Gods answer to my prayer of the most effective way to minister is to SHOW CHRIST, through ME. So when people experience YOU, they experience CHRIST.  Again, when people experience YOU, they experience Christ. Whatsoever does that mean Mr. Claude?  Oh, thank you for asking.  This mean YOU must know Christ very well, so that you can imitate Him.  Or, just die to yourself and get it over with.  But getting to know Him will help you understand how to share in His joys.  I think we forget that once we accept Christ into our lives, we inherit the kingdom. What an honor!? Right? 

Or, what a task?

Now if we are children, then we are heirs---heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. 

Oh man. What have I signed up for? Sufferings?  No Jesus, life is supposed to be easy now.  Smooth sailing.  So God spoke to me through this verse.  Yes, we can love on people, be heart warming and cuddly and inviting and kind and gentle and compassionate and SHOW THEM JESUS through this way, but what about in our sufferings?  My Savior.......He was falsely accused and didn't plead His case.  He was beaten and didn't ask for a break.  He was nailed and didn't complain---All for God.  Now, I pray none of our sufferings 100% match up with His, but us sharing in His sufferings means going through something.  But, look at how admired we got after I listed what Jesus did for us?  SHOW THEM MY SON means YOU doing that too.  When life starts to toss you curve balls and knuckle balls in the same week, will you be able to react like Christ?  Will you be able to SHOW THEM JESUS THEN.  Hey, that idiot shouldn't pulled in front of me.  Or that waiter is being extra slow today.  Or that jerk was talking bad about me. WILL YOU BE ABLE TO SHOW JESUS THEN? 

Hmm...I know. Tough pill to swallow.  This is what I prayed for though, and can't say I've 100% mastered it. But being able to show people Christ when people are looking at you like, "Claude, how are you doing that!?"  And all you can say is God is holding me up. God is my strength. I trust in my Father. It's all for His glory to be seen so I do not care what happens to me.  Pierce my side even after already being nailed! Come on? Show this world Christ and lets see what happens.  There's power in this. It may change your world.....

And somebody else's.

And to see a life changed because you decided to just show Christ, to show love, even when it wasn't deserving---we can share in His glory.  I mean, look at us.  Christ suffered and loved us when we didn't deserve it, and they both are sharing in that glory of having us back., that just made me smile.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Intimate God

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." John 15:9
Hello readers. Welcome to my heart. Let's begin.

This is transparency hour.  I'll be writing a two part "Intimate" series, each with a different perspective on seriously the greatest things that has ever happened to me.  I'm in love with cliches, to the point to where I dislike them. I hope that makes sense.  I'm aware of the preacher talk and the things Christians are supposed to say, but right now, for a moment, I would LOVE it---if you wouldn't consider it that way.  I would LOVE it if you would block out what you've heard and just read. Don't let your mind try to dull this moment because its becoming repetitive in your life.  I'm afraid this Bible Belt area I live in fall victim to this.  Hey, here's some fresh air.  I want you to breathe fresh air again. No minds are welcomed right now, only hearts.  Wireless connection to each other hearts. Ready? Lets go. 

So, my Christian walk has been flooded with normal responses. I was raised in the church, I knew about God, and I knew what was expected of me. So, when I decided to accept Jesus into my life, I knew what was expected of me----but not of what I should be expecting from Him.

Uh oh? Please don't miss that.  I knew what was expected of me, but not of what I should have been expecting from Him.  

And, to a certain degree, we Christians, have ruined the message of Jesus Christ with our do's and don'ts.  I struggled with not experiencing God because I was trying to get my actions to measure up to God.  So, with my apparent lust problem, here I am, saved, and FIGHTING to continue to stay pure.  Oh,and I didn't know what that looked like.  Because to me, purity was NO SEX. Hey, that was on my list of don'ts. But they didn't say DO NOT DO EVERYTHING ELSE that could eventually lead up to having sex. So I looped holed and tried to get away with as much as I could and still hold the title "Christian".  Not very fruitful is it?  Not very worth living? Who would desire this life?  And see, I wouldn't dare turn away from God, my mom would be so hurt. My pastor would be so hurt. Ugh!

And then, a sweet precious friend told me to start seeking a more intimate relationship with God.

Um? Excuse me? Intimate?

Now, to this day I love my friend so much for this, because she planted this beautiful seed in me, not knowing it'd blossom into this giant tree of life I'm eating from today. But this right here, changed my perspective of God.  It changed to me focusing on what God was expecting from me, to what I should be expecting from Him.  Because, intimacy involves two parties. The definition of intimate is: marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity, or marked by a warm friendship developing through long association. Oh wow, I can have that with God? This implies that I can actually exchange something with the ALL MIGHTY GOD! The creator? The....the...GOD! 

I was in this horrible place of my life.  I had been girl crazy and chasing my lust for like, 6 years, very comfortable in that lifestyle, and now God is asking me to not have a girlfriend.  

Um, excuse me Sir. That's not an option. 

But see that right there showed me that my desire for love from a woman was higher than my desire for God.  Oh, I didn't explain that.  Eventually, God showed me that I was looking for love through lust.  Trying to build something from ashes.  Trying to find life through death. So He literally broke me down, emptied out my mental capacity of love and restored it with Him. I remember the night I chose to seek intimacy from Him instead of from a woman.  I had been around some very happy couples and they were all cuddly and wuddly and doing clean couple stuff, and I left their house in an envious state of mind.  I'm looking up at God, asking Him why would You deny me that!? Why have You asked me to do something but not them? Why are You punishing me? I WANT THAT! I WANT TO BE LOVED RIGHT NOW!  But guess what happened?  God actually responds to these kinds of questions, not always by speaking, but by showing. So after my long rant, too exhausted to find someone to flirt with and tease this desire, I turned on some worship music and just rested.  And Jimmy Needham Dearly Loved came on my iPod. And I sat there. Listening to the lyrics. Focusing my attention on I AM DEARLY LOVED.  Jimmy kept asking me DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE DEARLY LOVED? Claude? Do you know you are loved? Do you?  And God moved on me.  He answered my questions by simply loving me. And while I'm being completely filled He whispers to me, "Son, I want you to experience TRUE LOVE, and that's from Me." 

Intimate God.  

His desire to be with us is remarkably the craziest thing in the world.  With the dumb stuff we do on the daily, He just sits and waits for us to finally just drop all of our frustrations and just say, HAVE YOUR WAY.  That's all I really did that night.  Instead of going with my flesh of desiring intimacy from a woman, I let God have His way and I saw what happened.  My life was changed that day. I FINALLY understood why He was telling me I didn't need a girlfriend, because He was wanting to show me what love was, because I didn't understand it.  

Intimate God.   

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Is It Really Worth It?

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

If any of you are human just like me, I know this question has crossed your mind before.  Christian or not, believer or not, I'm sure this has crossed your mind.  Is it really worth it?  Is living for God really worth it?

Now, having typed that, I can tell by my natural response that this question is a little controversial.  When I asked myself that question before typing this, my skin cringed.  My heart seemed to skip a beat.  I found myself holding my breath, waiting to hear my hearts answer. I know my answer, but I want you to know yours.  Let's walk through it.

I think this question is controversial because of many reasons.  It challenges us in ways that are outside of our comfort zones.  The first thing that comes to mind is, well, who is God to you?  Who or what is this God to you?  I'm learning that a lot of people see our Creator in many different ways, here's a few. : The higher power, that thing in the sky, distant, mean, angry, uncaring, doesn't exist, good.  Do you see the inconsistency here?  There's so many different views on God.  Um, lets go at it this way.  If there was a movie that just came out. And while you were at work, you walk by the water cooler and hear 8 people talking about this movie.  And all are saying something different.  Some say they like it, some say they didn't. Some say the plot was terrible, some say the characters didn't mesh well.  Some say the ending was predictable, some cried, some laughed, some were bored, some couldn't sit still.  Which do you choose to believe in?  I would hope with this confusion and the inconsistency that is obviously present while this move is being talked about, I'm pretty sure you would decide to go and see the movie yourself to get your own view on it. You'd go just to experience the movie yourself so you can form your own opinion on it. So, why not with God?

Don't answer yet, keep reading.

Is it really worth it?  My skin cringed again. Another reason I think this is controversial is because of the reality kicking in.  First of all, its more comfortable to not think about death. I mean, I don't think about dying every day, not even every week, not even every month.  But, to ask yourself is it really worth it, would make you think about where you're going to spend eternity.  Of course we all want to go to heaven.  I rarely hear people say that Hell is where they'd like to end up after death. But, again, this isn't a college that you're deciding on.  We can choose our colleges by just applying, but Heaven and Hell have a little bit more requirements than merely a piece of paper and an acceptance letter. 

So come on? Is it really worth it?  What do you think?  I'm attending college right now.  And, I have found that there is a very very high expectation on how college students should live.  I hear it even while I'm in college, but I heard it before I got here too.  "College is the best times of your life. Go and have fun, make friends, have a good time. Have your fun now, because the real word is something serious."  Stuff like this. And I still get asked, "You down there partying or studying?"  So there's this living standard amongst college students, and you'd be considered lame, disconnected, if you're not doing.  And don't let me get started on a traditional school like the one I'm at, where people take GREAT GREAT pride in these traditions created by men.  So the ideal is to come to college and submerge yourself in fun, while still managing to make good grades.  And, what I've also seen, is that Satan loves this.  This is the perfect opportunity for him to lay out traps.  Because we're so hyped up on "having fun" and "school traditions" that whatever our bodies at the moment considers fun, we'll do.  So, asking college kids this question, is it really worth it?  Many will say no.  Because a lot of college fun isn't necessarily pleasing to God.  So its ineffective when you're preaching at people the Christian lifestyle is better than the World's lifestyle. Fun is a fleshly desire, yes, to be compared to any other that we have.  My fun used to be trying to find a foolish enough girl to fool around with, and NO! I will not offer any kind of commitment.  Yeah, I'm disgusting right?  But I'm just trying to have fun.

Are you getting my point?

This fun factor CAN BE dangerous.  I'm not saying don't try to have fun, yes there is clean fun, I shouldn't even have to say that. But what I am saying is that living our lives only by what we consider is fun can be dangerous, because it can lead us further into sin.  I repeat it this way.  Living by our flesh is dangerous, because it can lead us further into sin.  And the more we indulged into sin, the more distant we get from God.  Its not that He pushes us away, but we choose to walk away from Him.  Following our flesh usually is a clear picture of you being your own God. I want to do it because I feel like doing it. I don't see anything wrong with it. Here's the funny thing about that, Eve said in the Garden before she ate from the tree.  Is it really worth it? Was it really worth it to Eve? Desiring her flesh OVER being obedient to God cost them greatly. So, again, is it really worth it?

I could TRY to explain this answer for you, but I can't.  I know its been worth it for me, only because I experienced Him myself.  I didn't just take the pastors word for it.  I tried that reason alone, that didn't keep me from wanting to have my fun.  That didn't keep me from sweet talking women, or hoping to find a secluded place for us to do whatever.  But when I experienced my God----when I tasted from the bread of Life, had a heart to heart with Him, when He hugged me when I cried, when I was fighting and scratching and desperately desiring intimacy, when I needed someone to say I'm proud of you, when I needed patient love, when I need grace, when I messed up, when I failed a test, when I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, when I didn't have any purpose, lost a loved one, lost a friend, felt lonely, didn't have a Father to call on, He was there. He loved on me, He kept me, He stayed with me, He hugged me, whatever I needed, HE BECAME IT! 

So, is it really worth it?  For me. Yes, very much so.  But, those are my reasons.  You have to learn that for yourself.  Don't just take my word for it. And here's a thought, when you ask yourself this question, whatever pops up in your mind that kind scares you, stuff that make you ask this question, "What if God ask me to give _______up? Man.. that is Satan's way of reminding you of what you're giving up and without knowing it, its become an idol of yours. Because when you were in great need, this person or thing or place or event or activity settled it for you. So you worship it by doing it every time you get that feeling again, and you praise it when you talk about it. For me, I found my intimacy, which was my distorted view of love, from women. So they were my idols. And every time I felt lonely or wanted to be loved, I'd hook up again. So whats yours? Whats your idol? What's scaring you of giving it all to God because HE MIGHT ASK YOU TO GIVE IT UP?  Just remember this.  God GAVE UP His most precious possession, HIS SON, and got back way more in return, US.

So, is it really worth it?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Heart in Temptation

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."  1 Corinthians 10:13(NIV).

Hello readers. Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

As with the rest of the blogs, this new revelation has been laid on my heart.  I've been praying a prayer to God, asking Him how can I effectively minister to people.  How can I effectively write blogs to touch people, or effectively talk to people to maybe lead them to Him, really cashing in on the Wonderful Counselor nickname He has.  So, the answer that continues to come to me is, "Focus on the heart."  Not in a deep Morgan Freeman voice, but I will say, that would be cool.  Anyways, lets check out a few moments in the Bible that I've never thought to compare, the temptation of Jesus, and the temptation of Eve.

Now the scenario of the temptations, I can believe is actually how many of our temptations are brought to us.  Maybe not so much in a "snake form", like it was with Eve, but more so in a subconscious way, or the mouth of a friends, or triggers that reminds us of pleasures, whatever the case may be, THE ENEMY APPROACHES US TO TEMPT US. (that's the point I'm trying to make.)  Now, we are looking at two people who were tempted, Eve and Jesus.  Now, please don't go Holier than thou and say that well, it was Jesus.  I know..I understand that.  But ignore that He was the Son of God for a quick second and accept that He was a man.  Yes, He was man, which means we're asked to imitate Him because He came to prove it was do-able. Lol...ok fingers. Stay focused.
So, Eve and Jesus were tempted in similar ways.  The enemy approaching them in times of "vulnerability."  Jesus was hungry, and Eve, well, she was a 21st Century Bible Belt woman. (Stay with me.)  Eve knew the "word of God", but she didn't really believe in them.  She knew God said, "Don't eat from the tree", but she didn't believe in them deep enough to stand on them and submit to them.  Now, Jesus, the same.  He knew the word of God, and spoke them back to the enemy.  Well, Eve did too.  She said what God had told them, but she still was deceived.  So...what happened? 

Thanks for asking. 

The real question is "WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?"  I'm starting to love this question.  WHY? Why do we fall? Why do we give into temptation?  Why do we conform to the world?  Why?  WHY? Here are two people.  One failed in their temptations, like many of us.  And one succeeded in their temptations, like maybe many of us too.So, what is the difference here?  Enough questions, lets get into this.

So, let's look at Jesus first.  Jesus knew the word of God.  So did Eve.  But the difference is that jesus had to have been firm in His belief when He said it.  There's power in the word of God, but none in us.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Mark 14:38.  The spirit of God in Christ was willing to obey God during His fast, so He spoke the word of God to help Him.  But something else took over.  He didn't have heart issues with the word of God.  Jesus wasn't only listen to God because was the son of God, or because He was raised in the church, or because He was born in a manger, but He had a relationship with God.  It's assumed that Jesus was tapping into His purpose when He was 12 when He was talking back to His mom at the Feast of the Passover. (Luke 2:39-50).  But see, Jesus knew that He could bank and trust in the word of God.  He knew whatever the enemy had to offer was not close in comparison to what His Father in heaven could offer.  Oh, wait, He actually says this. "Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: "Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.
Now poor Eve.  She didn't.  She hadn't gotten close enough to God for Him to show her WHY He doesn't want them to eat from the tree. Eve didn't take seriously the part of "You will most certainly die".  She didn't stand on His worth.  She didn't see that it was worth giving up her taste for it because God said so, but also because He loves her and is trying to protect her.  She didn't see that.  So, what am I saying here? 

Knowledge is good.  Knowledge of the word of God and knowing right from wrong is good, but honestly, that alone isn't keeping people.  That alone isn't keeping this generation. I think you can always tell the ones who have the knowledge, because they the ones yelling "Only God can judge me." But, there has to be a heart change.  The Bible says that EVERYTHING flows through our heart (Proverbs 4:23)  This means both good or bad, EVERYTHING flows through our hearts.  According to this word, EVERYTHING we do has a heart condition attached to it. So I believe with all my heart that reading more books won't heal us.  Reading more blogs like this won't heal us.  Going to church every Sunday won't heal us.  Just these actions and disciplines alone do not have the power to save us.  God does.  His gentle touch on our hearts can flip the script. It can turn a story of getting expelled from the Garden into a redemptive story of you returning home, returning to your warm place in His arms.  I think Jesus knew that.  He knew that it wasn't just what you know, its who you know. Jesus knew that first we must love God with all of our hearts and minds and souls and the body will follow.  Not lets LEARN about God and try to line up our lives in order to love Him.  Hey, rank them in the right way.  LOVE GOD FIRST, WITH ALL HEART,MIND, & SOUL. God knows there's enough power in His love to change you, if you come to Him in that way. I'm not even worried about preaching that, and that alone.

So, to finish up this blog, I'm going back to the theme scripture.  The escape, I think, is simple.  I don't think it was the tree exploding in the Garden, or all the fruit disappearing, but the escape is perhaps our hearts choosing to stand on our Father's love.  He's faithful. And just like with Jesus, the devil left him alone.  Defeated!!

(Feel free to do any dance of your preference here, I honestly, chose to dougie.) I'll say it again so you're ready.

The devil is DEFEATED!!!! (do your dance.) 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"--- Declaration of Independence.  

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart. Lets begin.

Now, our forefathers has exposed a secret desire in all of us.  The pursuit of happiness.  And, I love the word choice because its so flawed. :D No disrespect to them, but, you'll understand after I'm done. 

So, defines pursuit as:the act of pursuing. An effort to secure or attain; quest.
As you can see, terrible word choice.  Because as many of us have discovered if you've lived any measurable time on this beautiful corrupted Earth, HAPPINESS cannot be securely attained.  We can be happy on Monday and miserable on Friday.  OH, even better, we can be happy Monday morning and miserable Monday night! I'm a monster with analogies so lets get into some.  

The pursuit of happiness is like chasing a kid that cannot sit still.  Or even cuter, a very hyper puppy.  We can catch it, but whenever its ready to move again it just darts out of our grip.  Even threatening it doesn't work all the times.  I remember my beautiful and wonderful friend Tisha once quoted something she heard, "Happiness depends on happenings, joy depends on God."  And as you can imagine, it rocked my world.  Because it does.  A lot of miserable people are miserable because of things that happened to them. And a lot of people are happy because happy things have happened to them. Natural response, I mean? Come on. You find $100 every two weeks, that's a reason to be happy.  You finally find a boyfriend that treats you right, that's a reason to be happy.  You are finally accepted by some friends, that's a reason to be happy right?  Like how I'm tossing this ball up in the air? Now let's crack that bat on it.  

What happens when your car breaks down and you HAVE to get it fixed, no money?  What happens when you lose ALL of your money?  What happens when that boyfriend dumps you? Cheats on you? What happens when those friends betray you? Stab you in your back? Sale you over for 30 pieces of silver? 
Hey, news flash to the newbies who doesn't know this, but LIFE HAPPENS!  Stuff happens. And if we're living off this happiness kick, then we're in for a rollercoaster way of life, a bumpy road in an old car, a jog through rough terrain.  

So, what's the other half of that quote?  But joy depends on God.  Now I can't leave you without introducing you to a beautiful part of my Father.  Joy.  I could end it right there, but I'll continue.  

Joy is obtainable.  Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. Joy can be securely attained because God can be securely attained in our hearts.  He is the giver of that joy.  And it can be so internalized that NOTHING can touch it.  Paul wrote a lot of his letters when he was in prison.  And he was just this old chipper church planter in prison writing to all his friends about talking about Jesus and how thankful he was.  Paul was in touch with this thing called joy. He knew he lived for a higher purpose.  He had tasted a sweetness that the world can't offer us, that our happenings can't offer us.  He tasted God in a heavenly realm to where he was separated from this world enough so that his happenings couldn't effect what was securely attained in His heart.  HALLELUJAH!!!!! 

(I literally screamed that).

So with the security of joy, its becomes instead of a roller-coaster, but like Aladdin's magic carpet.  It becomes the Mercedes Benz with the great shock system, so those bumps on the road doesn't rattle you.  Or those $200 running shoes that you can't feel every rock that you step on.  Because there will be rocks, and there will be bumps, but what you're riding in determines the ride.  So, let's try the Pursuit of Happiness JOY.