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.