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.