Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Never Thirst Again

 "Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”John 4:13-14

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

I'm really excited about this blog.  I love when God reveals more of Himself to me.  Now, its your turn to hopefully see Him as well through this blog.  Because, I believe there are some key things of God that we CAN easily miss out on because of our limited brain capacity.  Which further amazes me how we'll cling so tightly to our own understanding of things.  Which is why God suggests that we not lean on it, because it'll get us nowhere closer to Him.  (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

Anyways, let us begin.  As with many things, God gave me this article.  And that simply means its been on my heart here lately so of course I would share it with you all.  So in my quiet time the other day I was just thinking on some things and this verse came to me.  Well, more so the words, "never thirst again."  And God quietly said, "And a lot of my children don't understand this."  

Yes.  Here once again God is reminding us that HE IS EVERYTHING WE NEED.
If we have any room to complain, whine, or whatever about our situation-----we should go drink again.  Because God is simply saying that He is all we need.  We should never be thirsty for anything.  And I know what you're thinking, "Come on Claude, you don't understand.  My life isn't this cut and dry and mushy." My friend I'm sorry, but that's not my problem.  I'm doing a book report about what my Father has told us and He said we should never be thirsty again if we drink from the living water.  So my joy and expectations are dependent only on what He offers me, not on what my situation and the world offers me.  

My mother is being used as an example for this blog because it was from our conversation that this was placed in my heart.  My mother has been a single mom for most of my life.  We always have conversations about what she wants to do to her house, about her getting a raise at work, more money, new car, extended bathroom, etc.  I listen to her pretty often pour out dreams of more stuff she would like to have or do in life.  Nothing wrong with that right?  So when God blesses her with some of these things, she's happy.  But what happened this time, after she got new flooring put in her house, we were having a serious heart to heart conversation and she exposed to me some hurt in her heart from my dad leaving and her giving so much of herself to her children---she feels used up and has nothing to offer a husband if God blesses her with one.  And God took over the conversation.  (And this example will be used in my Healing series I'm getting prepared to start as well.)  But God took over the conversation and I said to her, "SEE MOM, THESE THINGS DON'T HEAL US.  These things do not make us HAPPY."  I said while pointing at her new floor that's 3 months old.  Jesus told us we should never thirst again, so that means we can be so completely filled up and satisfied with Him that all these Earthly blessings are overflow---ALL EXTRA.  Because this is what I know happens, since we focus so much on our Earthly blessings, that becomes our gauge of how deserving God is of our praise.  We'll praise louder when we get that raise.  We'll praised louder when God somehow worked it out for a bill to get paid, or for us to go on vacation, or my car didn't break down. What about His son that came and died for you?  That took a beating and nails in His flesh for you? Hey, you do not have to live in this pit of sin anymore, but we can have new life and an abundant supply of it. THAT'S our gauge of how good God is.  If we only praise God only when good things happens to us, no sir/maam.  God deserves the praise even if you lose everything.  See Job.  God deserves the praise even when you're betrayed by your friend, denied by your friends, hung up on a cross for an unappreciative world.  See Jesus.  God deserves the praise when your plans don't work out and you wrongly end up in prison.  See Paul.  I can keep going for days with this.  And I know this is hard to understand.  But is it really?  What did Jesus say?  And man, the rest of the verse explains how this was able to be done by these men. 

But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”John 4:13-14

That's called JOY!  Pure, 100%, no Trans Fat, no additives or preservatives, JOY OF THE LORD. So one sip of the goodness of God can produced this fountain of joy that's flowing through your body and nothing can phase you.  No matter what life throws at you, and oh by the way, it will throw things at you.  We can't blame God for life doing what He said it'd do.  Instead, lets embrace this verse.  Let's seriously drink from the living water so we're never thirsty again, but most importantly, so that fountain of joy can be flowing through our bodies. And this my beautiful friend, will be your gauge of praise.  So try it---- go drink again.   


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Series: The Root of Judgment

This is Part 1 of a collaborative blog series I'm doing with my good friend Tashara Ware, in which we've entitled, "The Judgment Seed".  My words will be in italics, her's in regular font.  Hope you enjoy. 

Hello readers.  Welcome to OUR hearts.  Let's begin. 

Hey yall! Remember on my tug of war blog, I said I wanted my blog to be more interactive? Well, I’m taking that a step further! I have collaborated with my dear friend, Claude, whom I’m always mentioning, to get another opinion on the subject of judgment. If people don’t know anything else about Tupac, aside from him supposedly being dead, they frequently quote him on saying, “Only God can judge me.” I wonder how many people have that tattooed somewhere on their body above a set of praying hands? But is this true? Is God really the only one who can judge? Is He judging today or saving that bit for the pearly gates? Why do people judge and where does it stem from? There’s so many issues. I couldn’t tackle this alone, so I brought Claude along with me! We are going to do this in a series we’ve titled The Judgment Seed. Welcome to part one!

The Root of Judgment

So you all won’t get too confused, Claude’s input on this will be in italics. Mine will be just normal font. Got that? Good.

Hello, my name is Claude (as already stated) and let me just be all formal and say it’s an honor to be collaborating on a blog with this woman.  This is a moment similar to if Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan joined forces (yes, I meant to say forces) to win a championship. The prodigy getting a chance to play with the whole reason why he even picked up a basketball. The only difference, Tashara and I are actually going to pass the ball. (thumbs up)

Claude just threw Kobe under the bus to prove a point, y'all. This blog series is going to be serious! Let’s take another trip into the lion’s den!

Let’s not run in there holding hands just in case they like to eat women first.  I wouldn’t want to get in their way.

It takes a woman to lead. Thanks, Claude for being such a gentleman and holding the den door open for me. I have noticed that a lot of people are stuck on this fact of being judged. No one wants anyone to judge them. We’re all filthy sinful human beings so no one even has the right or ability to judge, right? If we were in a church, this would be the moment when everyone would scream, Amen sista! We have this aversion to judgment because of the negative connotation associated with the word. Part of this issue boils down to linguistics. I KNEW that History of the English Language class would come in handy one day. Today is the day.

I went to my go to website, dictionary.com, and looked up the definition of judgment and they gave me a mouth full of truth.

Judgment (n): the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion.

Where’s the negativity? This sounds pretty good to me. Do you see those adjectives? Aren't they awesome? Did anybody think the definition was going to be:

Judgment (n): The ability that only God has.

If you get a speeding ticket, you go to someone you don’t know and have never met and allow them to decide your fate. Have you ever asked a friend for advice and if there was just a hint of reprove in their voice, you went off on them? "Why are you judging me?! I thought I could tell you anything! You're no better than me!  What about the things that you've done?!" This has happened to me and I'm usually taken aback like, "Wait? YOU asked!"

What’s the difference in these two scenarios? The level of personal connection. Later on, you realize that friend was right and you go back to them, apologize and say, “You were right. Sorry that I went off on you. I just didn’t want to hear what you had to say. Thanks for the advice.” After you’ve dogged the judge out to everyone you know because you had to pay the ticket instead of going to driving school, you don’t go back to the judge and say, “Thank you for making me pay that ticket. I’ve learned my lesson.” You might have learned your lesson, but there’s no tie between you and the judge. There’s no connection or pull that will lead you back to the judge. You don’t know the judge like you know your friend.

When you don’t truly know or love God you don’t keep His commandments. You use Him when you need Him and that’s the extent of the relationship. So when someone calls you out on something you feel like you’re being judged. There’s a false sense of entitlement that people have. It makes us think our ways are right.

A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2

When you really experience Jesus, you don’t feel entitled to anything. All you want to do is know Him and make Him known. You’re not worried about who’s judging you. That air of self importance is dropped. Your life is lived for His glory. It’s not about you anymore. Miniscule things like who’s “judging” you are no longer an issue. Your eyes will be opened to see and accept guidance and instruction that you once labeled as judgment.

We often forget that in Christ we're made whole, renewed, holy, and blameless. When we know Christ we become more like him. We’re given wisdom. We’re given the ability to be able to lead, guide, and instruct. Maybe you still want to call this judgment. Label it whatever you like.

We have confused judgment with instruction/opinion/love. (Yes, love). So not only is this a linguistic issue, it’s also an interpretation issue. Someone can love you enough to advise you on an issue. Immediately when this happens, we throw up our hands, pull up our walls, get defensive and yell, “Don’t judge me!” Just like in my previous illustration.

Well said, Tashara.  This generation has made that their motto for doing whatever they want to do. It amazes me now that I’m on the other end of that selfish-----selfless rope now to see how horrible I was. I mean, what if everybody thought that way? What if everybody, DID WHAT THEY WANTED TO DO?  So the guy on the killing spree could shout out, “only God can judge me”, and we have to let him go because that’s the sword to slice back at correction today. But even worse, we’re allowing sin to kill us and we’re shouting out only God can judge me. I do have a joke I like to think to people who say that, and just have a good laugh to myself. Next time someone says “Only God can judge me” to you, say this back, “Well, what you think He’s gonna say?”  Haha, carry on Tashara.

LOL! I’m going to try that! The place of instruction distinguishes between advice and judgment. What does that mean, you ask? It depends on what airport this “judgment” is flying from. If someone tells you something from their heart, this is not judgment. They might be giving you some tough love (ask Claude-I’m good at that) Yes she is. You grit your teeth, snarl, and scream judgment! Your perception overrules their purpose.

When this instruction comes from a place so high and mighty not even God can reach it then, yes, it is judgment. The Bible instructs us not to judge, but it does not say that you cannot give guidance. In whatever we say and whatever we do, it should come from a place of compassion and holiness. How this guidance is given is vital. How it is accepted is uncontrollable. Paul tells Timothy this:

“Preach God’s message and do it willingly even if it isn’t the popular thing to do. Be humble when you correct people who oppose you. You must correct people and point out their sins. But also cheer them up and when you instruct them always be patient.” - That’s a mingle of 2 Timothy 2:25 & 4:2

For this phrase, “Only God can judge me.” It is 100% true. When you’re standing outside the pearly gates, only God can judge you. One day, God’s judgment will be revealed- check out (Romans 2:5). Today is not that day, since God is not here on Earth. While you’re here on this Earth, sometimes you need help steering. God has placed teachers, pastors, counselors and people of wisdom to help you steer. When this instruction is given it should be given humbly, willingly, patiently and with encouragement. Don’t jerk the wheel and wreck all in the name of judgment.

Good stuff, Tashara! And a good Amen! I didn’t want to interrupt her too much, so it’s my turn.  This issue is vital to me.  It should be for all Christians, because it is the Great Commission and Jesus’ last words before He went up to be with God.  So we should be concerned with the fallings of man, however, let’s not be vultures and attack the dead with our King James beaks.  Jesus Christ was a gentleman. Amen, sir!

Oh, you judging people. We have to have faith in this verse:

 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”  Hebrews 6:4-6

This was said because if someone has TRULY tasted life, salvation, a little some some of Jesus, it’s impossible for them to turn around.  But note though, this doesn’t say, if they have truly tasted you making them feel bad and pushing them to repentance.  But if they truly taste our God, they’ll be changed.  If they truly taste of the heavenly gift, the ultimate joy of Jesus Christ dwelling in their hearts, they cannot turn around. God pretty much has faith in Himself that He can rock a person’s world if they let them. So, that needs to be our focus, to get people to just experience God first, and He’ll take care of all that other stuff. His kindness will always lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4) Now everybody go listen to You Are Good by Gateway Worship. Carry on, Claude.

I’ve recently just learned that just like Tashara stated earlier, God has placed people in our lives to give us the wise counsel.  So I think this “only God can judge me” type objection could stem from a lack of love in a person’s relationships. So that love thing is so clear to me now, because I ran into an incident the other day where a guy thought I was “judging” him.  And since he doesn’t know me and know that I love him, then it’s hard to accept advice.  I mean, think about it.  If someone walked up to you right now as you’re reading this on your computer or your phone, and tells you something like, “Get off of that.  You don’t need to be reading that right now.”  What would you do?  How many of us would immediately click the X on the top of the screen or close our phones?  Ok. Now let’s change it. Same scenario, except it’s a close friend of yours?  You’d probably ask why or consider listening to them because you know they wouldn’t suggest that without any reason.  So the whole judging or wise counsel thing can be hard to intercept if the connection of love isn’t there.  This is probably why mission trips do so well because the people in those foreign countries consider it such a great sacrifice for us spoiled Americans to come and experience their world. The same with this guy who thought I was judging him. He doesn’t really know me.  He doesn’t know I truly love him enough to try to minister to him, because that connection of love wasn’t there.

Let’s sum this all up in a few sentences if possible. Godly counsel should be given from a place of love and concern. Knowing God transforms a person’s perception of judgment. Granted, not everyone who instructs you is for you and not everyone is against you, but at least consider what is being said before screaming, “Only God can judge me!”

And the church said?...


Christian or Follower of Jesus?

"But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick." Matthew 14:13-14

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

I always start off with a verse. But this time, it was just necessary so the visual is in your mind as you read.  Jesus spent a lot of time speaking to multitudes. It seemed He couldn't get away from them.  They'd crowd Him because they were so interested and impressed with what He had to say and/or what He was doing.  I can imagine the teenagers at this time running out of their high schools in the afternoon, "Dude, lets go watch Jesus heal people." But I titled this blog Christian or Follower of Jesus because I'm asking you, which are you? If you're asking, "Aren't they the same thing? Honestly, good question.  Because if you hadn't asked that, this approaching transition wouldn't work out right. 

Why are they different?  

Well, technically, they really aren't supposed to be.  The term Christian has been watered down in this generation as this fashionable accessory, maybe even an expensive necklace---we'll only wear on special occasions. Or even further, its the description of what "type" of the religion that people believe in, such as, "I'm a Muslim, I'm a Buddhist, I'm a Christian." Not necessarily follow, but I do know about Jesus. 

Now don't get caught up in the titles, because "Christian" actually does mean followers of Christ or being Christ-like.  But we're going to look at following Jesus or TRULY following Jesus.  Because to follow Jesus, there are some conditions. And here's where it gets sticky.  

So, we have the multitude.  They are going to be the average 21st Century Christian.  Only show up when Jesus is doing something cool, when He's not, they're not interested.  They kind of come and go as they please, trying to time it right so they can take advantage of the blessings, whether its by entertainment or actually getting healed. Or even, they could be a firm follower of Jesus, the kind that show up everyday when they know Jesus is preaching that day, but haven't put for an effort to get close enough to Him to get to know Him.  When life is tough, they'll come seeking Jesus.  There's something about seeing other people healed or His presence that can make them feel better.  And when life gets better, hey, I actually want to stay home with my family and not follow Jesus walking around everywhere---and now Jesus is forgotten about.  Being this kind of Christian is easy, its comfortable.  Not very profitable, unless its to our standards.  "As long as Jesus continues to bless us like He's been doing, I'll ride this thing all the way to Judgment Day."  But um, be careful.  Matthew says this,  "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." Matthew 7:13. 

The narrow gate of course would be the road less traveled, and it's the one that is also less desired.  It's the one that cost a lot.  A certain young ruler know about that cost. (Luke 18:18-23)  He asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell everything and follow Him--which this request is very similar to what happened with those other followers amongst the crowd, the disciples. (There maybe could have been 13 disciples, if the young ruler would have acted right). Now, this is where the other option to the question comes into play. A true follower of Jesus Christ.  One who has, "Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." Luke 9:23.  Now don't focus so much on details.  It sounds like the young ruler had to give up more for Jesus, and that's not true.  See what Jesus was testing in this young ruler and ultimately tests in all of us is our willingness to deny OURSELVES, which are things that we consider will make us happy or will complete us.  Whatever it is that we've sat up as an idol and have changed our behavior around (which is a form of worship)--giving up those things and taking up your cross to follow Him.  The disciples, who's occupations were recorded in scripture, left behind careers to follow Jesus.  And poor Peter.  Jesus had just blessed them to get an abundance in his career and then asked him to leave it to follow him.  Now, I'm sure its safe to assume that the disciples benefited greatly from these decisions.  Even though it seemed they were losing a lot, but in a heavenly realm, they gained a lot.  

So what's your point Claude?

The Christian in this example, in this generation, are generally thinking only of themselves.  We enjoy God enough for ourselves.  They may be working in the church or participating where they should be, but its all for other reasons besides being a servant of Jesus.  Basically the true heart to heart connection isn't there.  And this is not to condemn, please don't take this the wrong way.  I'm trying to introduce this in a way that its desirable to be a disciple, so lets head into that.  

The disciple.  The follower of Jesus.  They got to hang out with the Savior.  They prayed with him, laughed and joked with him. (Not in scripture, but surely they shared some giggles.) They spent time with Him, but most importantly though, they allowed Jesus to breathe purpose into them.  Don't miss that.  Jesus was able to breathe into them purpose.  Jesus is aware that if a person is following a person, an imitation is naturally to occur.  So these disciples were starting to become imitations of Jesus because they were getting to know Him.  And in doing this, His heart and passion became planted in them.  And He wants to do the same thing for you.  His heart for the lost will naturally become yours and you'll desire your actions to mimic that.  And let me just share this from experience, there is no greater feeling than this right here.  There IS NO greater feeling than this, no exaggeration. So take this opportunity to think of where you stand in the multitude.  Are you the outsider looking in? Or the insider looking out? Are following Jesus around the Middle East, or are you following Jesus through His life.  He does have a journey He wants to take you on with Him.  And let me just say from experience, it's such a good ride too.   

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jesus Wrapping Paper

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

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

My my my.  Claude what are you doing?  And just to say from the start, this is not a battle cry against anybody I may mention in this blog.  I do not ever intend to judge someone's ministry.  I will trust that if you're truly seeking God through the ministry that you just consider my thoughts, and run them by God.  If He says ignore me then off you go.  I don't take pride in my views so there will no hard feelings.  Which means unnecessary rebuking emails are not allowed.  (Gotta love disclaimers. They really set the tone.)  

And what's about to be beautiful about this topic is that I have no idea where the solution is.  Usually when people have a problem with something then its best if they can provide a solution, no...not here.  Mainly because there is no true "sin" in the matter.  This is more a presentation matter.  So what are we presenting?  Is it Jesus in His truest form? Or is it deception for Jesus's sake?  I decided to share my extremes first to maybe get my point across better.  

Would we hold a gun to someone's head, threaten to pull the trigger, and then share the gospel with them?  Is pornography filmed by married people acceptable?  Would we get drunk just to walk into a bar to minister?  Would we seek employment in a brothel just to share the word of God with the women and men involved with it? Does all these seem pretty much no no's?  

If you answered yes to the first question.  Now ask this question.  Why? 

Because these methods would be using deception to minister.  This would be lowering the standard just to minister Jesus Christ to a dying world.  This would mean like dying, and then lying in your tombstone and talking about Jesus to the other dead people.  Doesn't make much sense does it?  

Back up to the scripture.  Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world...." Now I decided to look up "pattern" and with its many definitions, these three were in context with the text.  1. a form or model proposed for imitation. 2. something designed or used as a model for making things. 3. a reliable sample of traits, acts, tendencies, or other observable characteristics of a person, group, or institution. So....if we used definition 1, it would be paraphrased as, "Do not conform to imitating the world."  Defintion 2, "Do not conform to making things by using the world as a model." Definition 3, "Do not conform to the traits, acts, tendencies, or other observable characteristics of the world." 

So, my fellow brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, have we decided to wrap the world in Jesus wrapping paper?  "Let's make Jesus more presentable to the world, since He's kind of not that interesting by Himself." And now, I know what some of you may be thinking.  This sound like some old religious type stuff.  And we can honestly argue everything that's considered a 21st Century effort to spread the word of God and probably find Pros and Cons in all of them.  So I repeat from the disclaimer, "This is not a battle cry against the efforts.  I do not judge ministries."  It just worries me ok?  And I say me because I remember when I first got saved and how flippy floppy I was because I tried to substitute the world into my Christian walk.  (uh oh)  I remember diving hard into Christian rap because I was told to give up secular rap.  And I'm not knocking Christian rap here, because I will still listen to it even after I finish writing this blog.  But I'm pointing at the attitude I had.  It was a ,"ok, God, since I can't have what I'm used to, I guess I'll settle for this."  Its the attitude that I honestly have a problem with.  What message are we sending when we do this?  I thought we're supposed to be trying to get people out of the world, not rebirth them through it.  It was just like me when I trying to build love through lust.  They're two opposites, and I was trying to use one to get the other.  


The married pornography is one of my favorite examples because it would be so easy for me to justify that.  "God, at least they're married."  World wrapped in Jesus wrapping paper.  "At least we're talking about God."  NO!! NOT AT LEAST!  At greatest we should be shouting about God.  He's provided the Savior, the escape out of the world.  And frankly, I just do not need to be involved with anything that could take me back to desiring what God saved me from.  Like the married pornography, yes, its more "pleasing to God" because the couple is married and there bed isn't defiled, but my eyes and heart are being defiled---- and all its doing to me is feeding that lust in me that the blood of Jesus freed me from.  Not destroyed with His Death-O-Ray, but freed me from.  Which means the chains and shackles are still available at anytime, waiting on me to submit to them and choose slavery again.

So I always have a point right?  This time I kind of don't.  

Because I'm not going to say "YOU SHOULD STOP DOING THIS!"  That's whats wrong with the world in the first place.  We're so used to hearing Christians telling us what not to do instead of introducing them to why we shouldn't.  Jesus did a good job of that, since He spoke with parables and made relatable messages.  He didn't come to condemn, and neither am I.  Just consider these thoughts.  Go to God about them, and again, if He tells you to ignore this then by all means, listen to God.  That's what I want you do.  Seek God about it, and let the rest of the verse take effect, "but be transformed by the renewing of your mind".  Don't even ask me what to do, because like I said earlier, we can argue, debate, and all those words that means "fight" about the 21st Century methods all day, and surely will be able to find Pros and Cons in all.  I attended a concert a few weekends ago when this hit me, and my friend (http://mrsware92510.blogspot.com/) and I felt the exact same "hit".  Maybe we've dug this hold to deep?  Maybe we've started a trend that'll be hard to just shut off right now.  But hey, we shouldn't give up hope.  Our mission is to minister the word of God to people.  So just be sure it stays in honor of Him and not in honor of our methods.