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.)