Friday, December 28, 2012

Do You Want To Be Healed?

Believer or unbeliever, we have more in common than you think.  And here it is,

You are your worst enemy. 

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

Let's read God's word today.  John 5:2-9

 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.  In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.  One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”  The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”  Jesus said to him, Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”  And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. 

Typically, when I'm sitting through the community singing portion of worship on a Sunday, a few things are on my mind.  And typically, that depends on how my week has been.  And here recently, I've had to deal with a little stagnation.  It's felt like the feeling when you've been hungry all day and all of a sudden you don't feel hungry anymore?  It's that part of your fast where your stomach is giving you the business and the growls for like 30 minutes straight, and after awhile it just stops.  Yes, that's how I've been feeling. This truth that I need to eat, but not wanting to walk into the kitchen to prepare anything. 

What is that? 

So anyways, this particular Sunday, I was singing in church and having a hard time getting in tune with anything, and the Holy Spirit asks me, "Son, what's wrong?"  Then I go through our routine of telling Him that I've been a lazy bum and haven't pursued you in like two weeks, and I'm sure you've had so many things that you've wanted to show me or reveal to me since I got lazy, and I'll never catch up to You, and I'm so undeserving of this relationship, I'm bringing nothing to the table in this relationship. You know, the rant many of us do to God.  And then the Holy Spirit reminds me that what I just described was the Gospel and exactly why I'm in relationship with Him.  I immediately begin crying and the passage of scripture at the beginning of this blog comes to my mind. 

Do you want to be healed? 

Basically, this was my thought at that time.  Claude, you are currently present with the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  He has all power in His hands, able to redeem, heal, and restore You right now.  So, forget the past and respond right now, do you want to be healed?  Do you want to be better? Do you want things to change? 

And I felt like the guy in the text.  Let's put ourselves in his shoes.  For 38 years he has been coming to this pool to receive healing and has yet to successfully find it.  So you know, there was heavy doubt in his head every year he showed up.  Let's jump into his head. 

"I've been coming to this pool for 38 years.  The same thing happens, the angel comes and stirs the water, I'm too slow to jump in, and some younger and faster person jumps in before me.  It's the same thing every year.  I try, and it fails.  Every single year." 

And here's Jesus, walking up to him, asking him the most obvious question.  Do you want to be healed?

But the guy doesn't even answer him with a yes or no! He just starts giving Jesus complaints and excuses.  Well sir, I'm too slow and weak and blah blah blah, and Jesus doesn't even wait for him to answer, He just tells the man get up, take up your bed, and walk.

And don't we do the same thing?

The revelation I had in church, was this, "Son, if you want to be healed, get up.  Get up. Listen, you've had faith in other things that you thought would work and they failed you, well you're going to fall sometimes.  But get up.  I'm in front you.  Which means redemption is available.  Restoration is available.  Healing is available.  But you have to get up to see it.  You're healed already, but you have to get up.  You have to get up and get off your mat which is crippling you in your condition." 

The symbolism of this would be this, friends, you have to make the effort to get healed.  And that effort is not putting more faith in what you think will work or your many vices, but putting the faith in what is proven to work for you, and that's Jesus.  I don't know what you're dealing with right now, I don't know what you need to get up and have faith in Jesus that you can actually stand up straight, but you need to do it.  Because this guy didn't know he was healed until he responded to Jesus, or I'll say it this way---until he got up. 

Here's some practical things.  Let's focus a little more on the things that we want to see changed.  Hey, if you're overweight, get up and start working out.  If you're lonely, get up and pursue friendships, get plugged into a church.  If you're broken, get up and seek healing.  But hear me on this part, realize that these things are obtainable because of the offer of Jesus that's in front of us.  Pursue these things through Jesus.  Don't become legalistic.  Pursue them through your pursuit of Jesus.  If you're an unbeliever to the faith, maybe that's your first "get up" step.  Jesus is in front of you, offering you deep intimacy and deep healing of all your wounds that was self inflicted because of your sin.  You're not a sinner because you sin, you sin because you're a sinner.  Big difference.  And that difference is why you need Jesus to begin any of this.  You have to have a righteousness that supersedes your own.  There is NO other way around it.  Jesus must be where you find your salvation, it is the only thing that has satisfied God's wrath for your sin.  So believer and unbeliever...

Get up. 

Jesus is telling you to pick up your bed.  Pick up your excuses and reasons you shouldn't or don't want to, and walk. 

And your worst enemy-- you can call him/her (ME) or Satan-- will tell you that you're okay.  That you can get over it by yourself.  That you can deal with it.  You don't need people.  It's not that big of a deal.  I can never lose the weight.  I'm too far gone to find healing.  Time will fix it.  I can never forgive them.   

Jesus is bigger than that. His power is way bigger than that.  His grace is way more than that. 

GET UP. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Come Let Us Adore Him

O come all yet faithful, joyful and triumphant.  O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.  Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels.  O come, let us adore Him.  O come, let us adore Him.  O come let us adore Him.  Christ the Lord. 

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let us begin. 

See what I did there?  Haha.  Anyways, first of all let me say that I think this song should not only be sung at Christmas.  This Christmas season, this song has been one of songs that has deeply moved in my heart and is I'm sure becoming my favorite Christmas song.  Here's why. 

This year has been filled with many challenges that has pushed me to finding where I stand in Christ.  I have great great friendships and have had great situations that has risen this year that has challenged my belief system.  Not challenged to the point of does Jesus exist or not, but honestly everything else outside of it.  For example, questions about what is church? Who is church for?  What determines salvation? How is a person saved? Does this work? Does that work? Is this pastor corrupt? What are the mysteries of the Bible?

These questions don't scare me.  They used to, but not anymore.  The illustration I picture when I'm thinking about questions such as these is this:  I am being handed different color helium balloons.  Each balloon represents someone suggesting, "Claude, consider this."  And I'm only able to hold all these different "consider this" balloons and not fly away as long as my feet remains anchored in a foundation of Jesus.  Every time I'm having these deep theological talks with my Christian friends I'm usually thinking of two things, 1. I have too many of these conversations.  2.  Why is he/she really suggesting this? 

Let me please go on the record by saying that I love my friends deeply.  I love that they challenge me, but I'm also glad that I have also been focusing on being sure they aren't fully influencing my thinking and my views.  I'll confess, I haven't always been this way.  But now I continue to always rest in the truth that Jesus is Lord above ALL.  As uncomfortable as that may be for some, He is. 

I love that. 

I'm thankful for a Savior that can move in a box and way outside of the box.  That we can get a ministry method down to a science, and something can screw up one night and Jesus still shows up---and people leave saying it was the best service they've been to. I love that He can move in order and in chaos.  He can be light in the light and light in the darkness.  He can be truth in lies and truth in truth.  I love the majesty of in one room, the same message can speak to people in different ways.  One person can fall in love with Jesus, one can be pushed further away, one can be asleep and hear nothing, while one can be half in tune but hear one thing that shows up years down the road.  I love this.  I love this dynamic of my Savior.  So I want to continue to just adore Him. 

And I think about things we adore. Even the definition helps set the tone.  Adore means to worship or honor; to regard with loving admiration and devotion; to be very fond of.  Do we all know what it feels like to adore something?  I think of little children when they see Santa Claus. Or when I've been on a cruise ship and I've looked out at a beautiful sunset over the large seemingly endless body of water and have just deeply been fond of the view.  Which drives me to thinking of Mary's perspective of her son.  She was calling him Lord---her child.  But the beauty of knowledge when it's attributed to faith.  Because what I see in the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus is a knowledge of a group of people who knew the Messiah was expected to come, and the faith to believe that when Mary was having this baby that surely this was Him that the angels had been speaking of and the prophets have been excited about. And recently as I've been finally reading the Old Testament, I'm seeing the foreshadowing of Jesus all through the Old Testament.  The older prophets are exclaiming how excited they are for the COMING salvation.  The coming lamb of God, and I remember falling asleep a few nights ago with thoughts of my many conversations and I'm constantly reminded of where I rest....it's really all about Jesus.  

I'm thinking maybe as a culture and as a body of believers that we are neglecting Christ's full glory.  I feel like the Facebook Correction Effect is happening.  Know what that is?  It's the people that post Facebook statuses correcting people of posting their opinions when they're posting their opinions as they create the status correcting people posting their opinions.  So what I'm hearing is that people are getting so frustrated with the prosperity gospel and whatever gospel churches are choosing to preach, and the ones sound in doctrine are screaming at them saying you need to be sound in doctrine, which is just both extremes screaming at each other and we're missing the point that Jesus is returning again and that EVERY KNEE WILL BOW because of His glory.  Please hear me, I want people to get back to preaching and teaching from the Bible.  I want us to be sound in doctrine.  But even above that, I want people to know Jesus.  I want to help people find, gain, maintain, and grow, and mature in relationship with their Creator and Savior.  And honestly, willing to do whatever it takes.  That make you uncomfortable?

Lol. Good. 

I feel like I've been walking in both extremes of whatever people are choosing to debate all the time and honestly, I'm choosing to rest here.  Jesus is Lord.  I love that you think church is for believers and the hip new churches don't work, but if people are finding Jesus and coming to know him then your argument is invalid to me.  And I love that your church is growing in numbers, but if people are only coming to laugh at your jokes and enjoy your cool videos and drink your coffee and no life change is happening, then your argument is invalid to me.  If your pastor is doing such a great job of teaching Bible and you're growing in your knowledge of scripture, which doesn't guarantee you'll grow in knowing better the God of the Bible, but you're not growing in your faith and your love and your relationships, then your idea of whatever you believe is invalid to me.  I am impressed with your theology and I will love to go toe to toe and discuss deep biblical trues and discuss predestination and biblical relationships, but at the end of the day....and please hear me right now....at the end of the day, you know what's really happening? 

People are dying and going to hell because they are choosing to deny the salvation that's been freely provided, choosing to endure the wrath of God themselves and not embrace and receive Jesus's payment for their sins. So if your knowledge is not pushing you into using it to reel in unbelievers, then what's the point?  You may have an answer to that.  Good.  I'm sure you can use it on someone else.  

I just can't shake this thought that Jesus is really IT. Like any other religion would be enticing to me if they had Jesus in it.  Like, Jesus is IT.  Jesus saving the thief on the cross has been huge for me.  It's done something to my understanding of His character.  I mean, this guy had no understanding of the gospel, no understanding of the Trinity, no understanding of grace or church methodology, no understanding of tithing or your life will be better if you do this, AND JESUS SAVED HIM! 

Dude got saved with a few hours left on his time clock.  So, yeah.  I'll let the Bible deal with you on that.  But as for me, I'm going to continue to adore my Savior.  Continue to fall passionately and deeply in love with Him.  Yes, I'll grow in knowledge.  Yes, I'll grow in outreach.  But what I really and desperately want for myself and for you is this, than when Jesus comes back in all His glory and He's gathering the ones He knows, that you and I are in the midst of that group, because He knows you, and we know Him.  

So let's adore Him.  The thought of Jesus warms us so deeply that anything we're doing at the moment is nonexistent.  And reverence to honor something we adore.  To worship our Holy King that has relieved us of our debt of sin and is providing for us new life in Him.  Let's adore Him, just like the people that gathered to see this baby boy laying in a manager adored Him.  THERE GOES OUR SALVATION, right there.  And I know, we may be at a disadvantage, because I know it's difficult to adore something that we can't see.  But we must pursue it.  We must seek to find why we should adore Him.  Yes, that will take you growing in knowledge of Him, but that's a natural part of a relationship.  So the biggest pursuit should be relationship.  

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."    John 20:29

Blessed are we who have not seen, and yet we have believed. 

Come friends.  Let's adore Him. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Men, Why Are We So Stupid?

A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.  Proverbs 29:23

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

Men, we are mildly pathetic.

And I only say mildly just to ease you into these brutal words I'm about to say.  And honestly, I'm sure this area can be applied to both genders, but today, right now, I really only want to talk to men.  Ladies, feel free to watch. 

So this blog is coming from a recent experience I had with my roommate.  And of course, this is something I've understood for months, but it resurfaced last night.  Here's the story. 

My roommate, also a great friend of mine, embodies a lot of passions and characteristics and habits that I want to have in myself. I went to the gym with him last night and first of all, didn't want to do his workout because I felt inadequate.  He's a lot stronger and better at it so I didn't want to be vulnerable there.  But I somehow agreed to do it.  Then I had to deal with his constant encouraging me during the workout, "Dude, shut up.  I know what I'm doing."  (Funny how pride can cause encouraging words to be annoying).  And then I had to deal the reality of maybe he does know what he's doing.  So again, somehow, I cut a deal, "How about you be my personal trainer and I continue to give you free haircuts?"  Which beneath that, this is what I was saying, "Hey, you're pretty good at this and I'm not.  I'm pretty good at haircuts, which is something I'm good at and you're not..  So let's make a fair trade so I don't feel like a loser coming to this gym with you." 

So, men, why are we so stupid?

Why do we allow our egos to cripple us in staying in mediocrity?  It didn't help at all that my roommate and I talked about accountability right afterwards, because the same attitude that showed up in the gym is exactly why I'm afraid of accountability, I DO NOT WANT TO ADMIT MY WEAKNESSES. 

No, men are supposed to be strong towers and rock solid.  Firm and in control.  Blah blah blah.  It's stupid for us to think this way.  Here I am, secretly wanting to workout and be in shape, and living with a freaking personal trainer.  But my ego has been keeping me from asking him for help.  And men, the same with accountability.  YOU NEED IT.  Shut up, you do.  You know you do.  You do not have it together.  You can't do it on your own.  You're terrible at holding your ownself accountable.  You'll never get better without it.  GET OVER YOURSELF. 

Okay, I know some of you may be good at self discipline, and some of you may be strong---but all I'm saying is that your solid cultural manhood can be and is probably preventing you from being such a better man.  This is fully applied in so many areas.  Because honestly, it takes some vulnerability to get healed.  The Bible tells us in James, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.   Your pride is driving you into isolation, where Satan is wonderful at manipulating and causing you to stumble.  The "I can do it on my own" mindset is exactly the pride that causes you to fall.  It's the ultimate expression of weakness, even though our world sees it and tells you it's a strength.  Our pride is causing us to hide sin, to hide weakness, so therefore we never repent, and we never experience the strength of Jesus in our weakness.  God! Can I say that again? 

Our pride is causing us to hide sin, to hide weakness, so therefore we never repent, and we never experience the strength of Jesus in our weakness.  So the point of this blog is....

Men, stop being stupid. 

If you're afraid to go to church because you don't have anyone to go with, please stop it, you need to be there.  You need the community, you need the fellowship of other believers.  If you're afraid to be vulnerable with someone, please stop it.  That person is weak and helpless without Jesus so you sharing how you are weak and helpless does not make you lesser, but it's showing that you understand and realize that you need a Savior.  It's honestly just better life awareness.  I know you may need a little more than my own words.  So here's God, showing this in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Cross because it symbolizes that you already are weak.  So men, deal with that.  Accept that.  Repent and come to know Jesus, your true strength.  You are weak.  Your status will fail you.  Your money will fail you.  Your education and understanding will fail you.  You are not stronger and more wise and more rich and more glorified that Jesus, so get over yourself and deal with this reality.  The truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that you could not gain God's approval on your own, you could not pay for your own sin, you could not do anything with Him soo.....this idea that you're okay is a full out--blown out of proportion--- lie. Because if you were okay, you wouldn't need the Gospel. 

So men, stop being stupid.  Instead, let's accept the fact that we need each other, and we need Jesus.  Brothers, I need you, and you need me.  We will not reach and redefine manhood in our world and in our families without submitting ourselves to the authority of God and accepting the truth that we need Him in ALL areas of our lives.  Let me show you this ironic verse in Galatians 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

I find it funny that the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.  God gives us self control.  Hahaha. Makes you wonder how much control we really have huh?  So, stop being conceited, you don't have it together as well as you think.  You need help.  You need accountability.  You need community.  You need a best friend. You need a small group. You need a local church.  You need help. 

So stop being stupid.

Let's redefine strength men.  Or better said, let's define ourselves in the true definition of strength.  Let's live by 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 

 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

You're Not That Awesome

Yeah. I said it. 

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

I had this thought today about the disadvantages of the ME mentality of our culture.  I'm learning that we are actually losing or missing out on enjoying the value of God's splendor.  I'm really glad you're reading today.  Get ready for some gut punching. 

So let me say it again.  You're not that awesome.  Okay, maybe your parents did a great job of making you think that you're awesome.  But the truth of the matter is, you're not that awesome.  What you're finding your identity in is if anything fleeting and quite foolish.  Your taste in music is not that awesome.  Your swag or sense of style, not that awesome.  Your great job or career goals or ambitions, not that awesome.  Your GPA is not that awesome.  Your A's are not that awesome. Your perfect body and great teeth, not that awesome.  Your pageant winning beauty, not that awesome.  Your knowledge of football stats or any stats for that matter, not that awesome.  Your position and opinion, your Facebook posts and tweets, your clever idea of what you would do if you were president or a coach or whatever, not that awesome. 

I had the pleasure of watching this guy strut the intramural fields because he played for the Auburn football team.  I'm assuming, a few girls or probably a lot of girls for all I know have puffed his head up and his arrogance was just comical, even though in the same heart I grieved (but that's anoter blog), but I know the truth.  Bro, in two years, you'll be irrevelant.  You're not on Bo Jackson's level, so which means what for him, he's not that awesome.

I'm going somewhere with this, I promise. 

I've watched so many people find their identities in things that are, well, silly.  I've watched football players expect special treatment because they think they're awesome.  Celebrities do the same.  VIP's at the hotel I work at, all these people think they're awesome--and sadly, they're not. 

Hey, even myself.  I can get caught up in the influence I have at my church and the respect I get but the truth, the reality, I'm not that awesome.  If I was to leave today, a few people may miss, but soon, very soon at that--and hopefully and prayfully--another guy will come that everyone enjoys.  And even you reading my blog, if I get 100 views in one day---which would be awesome----but that wouldn't make me awesome.  Because.... 

I"m not that awesome. 

But I'm okay with that, and here's why. 

In order to enjoy the love of a Savior, we have to know we're sinners. 

That's true right?

I have to recognize my lowly position of falling short before the authority of God before I'm able to enjoy and bask in His love and grace. The gospel is scary sometimes, because even on my best day, like when my swag is tight and I haven't looked at a woman wrong all day probably because I haven't seen one all day, that even on that day I'm still not that awesome because I still fail God.  And so without that truth, I'm pridefully galloping around thinking I'm awesome, when actually, I am not. 

Can you imagine the chuckle that is probably deep within God's belly when we take pride in our own glory and in our own identities we form? 

These silly children. They actually think I'm going to compete for whose glory is better?  I'll just wait until there's fade, and they will see mine never does. 

Watch this. 

Who created the heavens and the earth?  Not you, He did.  Who has existed before creation, and will exist after creation?  Not you, He will.  Whose name has been talked about for generations?  Have you noticed that many believers are even afraid to bring up Jesus to their unbeliever friends?  Why is that?  His name, His glory is convicting, it's challenging, it's demanding Lordship, they don't like it, WE BARELY LIKE IT!  Whose name has been taken out of schools?  It offends.  Not yours, His name.  Whose name is praised when creation does how it was designed?  Not yours, His name.  Who aligned the writers of the Bible to somehow, check this out, they all lined up perfectly to say the same thing? Your name will not continue to be talked about after leaving this Earth.  Well, it may get brought up from time to time, but not weekly, or haha, definitely not every day.  And you wont have a book written about you that is translated in many different languages and continues to be sold generations and generations after you? 

So who is more awesome? You or Jesus? 

One of the most intimidating verses I've ran into so far in the Bible, and I love this, is this one.  

'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" Romans 14:11.

On that day, bowing won't optional.  Responding to His glory won't be optional that day.  Either you'll willingly bow or the reverence and the weight of His glory and holiness causes you to fall on your knees to bow.  His glory is far greater than your own.

But I won't tear you down and not build you back up.  Hear me on this.

This is why we should rest in finding our identities only in Him. I love this truth about the story of the prodigal son.  Even when the prodigal son realized how lowly he had fallen, how unawesome he was, and he wanted to tell his dad what he should be considered in his eyes, "How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. Luke 15: 17-20

So he went home to the father, ready to confess and denounce his worthiness of sonship in his father's eyes.  And some could even say he may have deserved it, but what does the father do?  Let's read. 

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

He called Him son.  He still called Him His son!!!!  Imagine the weight of His father's love resting on Him in that moment?  Appearing before his father, feeling undeserving of any special treatment, entitlement, or special attention.  And yet, the Father showers him with the best of Him, and still calling him by how He saw him, son.

Friends, You are sons and daughters of a holy God, who is awesome.  You're called and chosen by Him to live in Him, to be in relationship and fellowship with Him--all of this is not because of you, but because of Him.  A holy and awesome God chose you to be His own possession.  He chose you to redeem, to forgive, to love and shower with mercy and grace.  Not because you're awesome, but because an awesome God chose you.  I'll sum it up this way. 

You're nothing because of yourself, but everything because of God. 

I mean, let's look at it for what it is, this grace is truly undeserving.  Like, truly and fully undeserving.  And the perks of living in Him...ohh...should I even start this? 

We get to chill with the coolest Creator daily.  Like, you can tap into His presence right now, He's with you right now, for those living in Him.  We get promises of joy and peace here today on Earth, because of the promise of eternity, which is our inheritance and our long awaited hope. 

You're nothing because of yourself, but everything because of God.  Deal with it.  Because when you do, His goodness covers you and you're able to share in His glory, bask in His goodness, drink from His presence, eat of His grace. 

So, you're not that awesome.  But your Father that is awesome, calls you His son and His daughter.  Boast in His name, not your own. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Our Subliminal Mentor

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

I honestly don't know where I first heard this topic at, but it resurfaced the other day as I listened to a Matt Chandler message, lead pastor at The Village Church. The topic is this: there's a truth about the human condition that a lot of us learn things subconsciously--and even scarier--form our identities around.  You may not be able to see this, but I want to help you in this.  This is important that all of us realize this.

We have subliminal mentors.

Culture is discipling us every single day.  It is our subliminal mentor.  I remember this idea came to me when I was thinking about how much of parenting is more about how you act than what you say.  And I've heard countless stories of people being deeply encouraged by just being able to watch someone's life.  And we have to realize that the opposite is also true--we can be deeply discouraged by someone's life as well.  And the truth that a lot of us love our pastors so much that we will do whatever they say.  Am I right?  After briefly watching the documentary about Jim Jones and The People's Temple, and the horrid and tragic and terrifying truth of that time in our history and I felt my heartbeat racing, my face hot and anger boiling in my heart at this horrible horrible man that did this to these people---but then, my frustration got to the people---- why were you unable to see what was happening to you?  Why were you unable to recognize the manipulation and isolation and terror approaching you? Why were you not pursuing God for yourself and able to recognize truth?  How could this man do this to you?  And it hit me, people are easily influenced---so easily discipled.  And we don't even realize it!  Why are there commercials?   The companies are marketing their products.  Ha, I'm such a victim of this.  I saw one Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet commercial and was hooked and went and bought it.  And I've countless times watched infomercials about getting fit with only 30 minutes a day and have bought into it, thinking could it be done foreal, just 30 minutes, that's no time at all.  We're being pimped and bamboozled everyday and don't even realize it.  Playing us for fools, because they know people won't research themselves, they'll just hear and go do.  Cows to the slaughter, daily, fully blind to we're being led to our deaths.

Okay, I'm ranting now, but please hear me.  Culture is discipling us every single day.  Many of us have habits and tendencies and we have no idea why.  I love listing, so let's go.

Where did you get your definition of beauty?
Where did you get your definition of love?
Where did you get your definition of grace?
Where did you get your definition of being a woman?
Where did you get your definition of how to treat men?
Where did you get your definition of how to handle pain?
Where did you learn how to treat women?
Where did you learn how to think about yourself?
Where did you learn how to spend money?
Where did you learn how to dress?
Where did you learn how to be a man?
Where did you learn anything you claim to know?

Was it from the Bible?  Or was it from our culture?  Many of us have been discipled so much by culture it's become much of our identities.  And sadly, we've brought it into our faith.  Our culture is so addicted to fast results and consumerism, and we've entered into the church seeking for the pastor to give us what we want, the worship band to sing the songs we want, and for it to be easy to find a parking spot, I can get in and out, I can get to lunch at a reasonble time, let me out the parking lot first, and on and on it goes.  And God is screaming at us in His word that we must change our minds.  Here's just one example.

Do not conform any longer 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.  

That verse is filled with words that we must have our minds renewed before we're even able to understand them.  I wish I had time to unpack it, but we will not understand God's good, pleasing, and perfect will if we have not allowed God's word to define for us what the words good, pleasing, and perfect means to Him.  Because to us, good means I get what I want, pleasing is it feels good, and perfect means nothing goes wrong.  And if you know anything about the Bible, this is not true the slightest bit.  Your prosperity gospel is lying to you, and, let's not even call it the gospel.  Your prosperity garbage is lying to you, and it's conditioning you to be unable to fully grip God's plan for your life, and that it is you get Him and in Him and through Him your overall hope is fully Christ reigning in your life and causing you to lead a life that is missional and sacrificial because your faith is in Jesus and in the hope of eternity---not the new car you're claiming.

Please my readers, hear me.  You're learning it from somewhere.  Even some of you will just take my word for it and run away with something I said, stop it! For God's sake, stop it.  Go and dive in His word, that by itself claims to be the inerrant and perfect word of God, God breathed and God inspired word of God that is ready and waiting to read you and transform you.  We have to open up ourselves to allowing the Bible to redefine things for us.  Culture has taught us what love means...and God's love is so much greater than what culture has taught you.  And you must go read it yourself.
 Thanks for your time.  It's such a honor for me to know people care enough about what I have to say to read these blogs.  I hope they're a blessing for you. Love you all.  Thanks again. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

*VJ* Same Seed, Different Fruit

I'm introducing a new series called the "Venting Jam".  Whenever I just have an idea or a thought that consumes me, and I do not have the patience to organize it into a college level English formatted and eloquently worded blog, I will do a VJ, a Venting Jam.  So, this would be equivalent to us getting coffee and I'm sitting across from you and I'm just ranting about something.  So.... 

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

I love my friends.  Very much.  I wish they knew how much I learn from them.  Maybe they will after reading this. 

I'm here today to discuss something that I have learned about, us.  The people.  People.  God's own.  Us.  I think we are more broken than we realize and care to admit. I have been apart of discussions or have heard about discussions about how we hurt each other.  Men devaluing women.  Women devaluing men.  We misunderstand each other.  We wrongfully manipulate each other.  We lust after each other.  Women hear this wrong, men say this wrong.  Women interpret things we say and do wrong, men's body language is wrong.  Men's intentions are wrong.  Women's intentions are wrong.  We provoke each other.  Tease each other. We're super critical of each other.  We question motives all the time.  And as you just read it, this rush of awareness of our hurt overwhelmed me last night and I just wanted to vent to you now, my readers.

By the way, thank you so much for reading today.  I hope all these blogs are a blessing for you.

So after discussions upon discussions about the differences in men and women, I think we need to admit some things---ready----we're different. You know that right?  Of course you do.  Equality only matters in value, not anywhere else when it comes to male and female.  Women, you're different.  Stop trying to men.  Get off our Sports Channels as anchors! (That's for another blog for another day.  Disregard that.)

But our relational differences are heaving us into continuing to have bad ones.  It's like we don't realize when we're just being women and when we're just being men.  Because I feel like that we both struggle with the same insecurity.  I think we as a people desperately search for our value and worth.  So, in an interesting twist, we are very much different, but very much the same.  To explain the title, I feel like we have the same seed steering us off track, but how we're different is shown in the different fruit that is produced from that seed.

Let me say it this way, the differences in the fruit that is produced is how we've decided or how it's been decided for us of how to gain it.  Women, you first.  It hurts me that women struggle with feeling beautiful.  And women don't even realize that they're feeding into the struggle by the media they choose to watch.  Things like the Victoria Secret Fashion Show comes on and women across the world are watching it, and without realizing they're watching a nationally advised fashion show, that has women on display, and communicating to all of you, THIS IS WHAT BEAUTY LOOKS LIKE.  And you sit there and buy into it.  And during that night, I see some of my friends, women I care about, post Facebook statuses and Tweet about how they wish they looked like that.  And it hurts me.  But this is our culture's definition of your value.  If you're beautiful, how it's defined by culture, you're valued.  If men look at you and stare as you walk by, you're valued.

Men, our turn.  It hurts me that we struggle with feeling valued because of our status.  I've watched myself feel heavily insecure when a football player walks into the room and all the women gawk.  Or when an entire stadium has signs up for a particular guy or women are retweeting everything L├╝tzenkirchen says or women are saying how much they want a rapper or an NBA player or a celebrity, and the thought comes to my head, "Man, I want that kind of attention."  Because we know, that it's not JUST their looks.  Like if Cam Newton wasn't Cam Newton, he wouldn't have had the attention.  So men know that's it's all status.  Status in our culture makes a man more attractive.  A guy pulls up in a Mercedes Benz and women wants him because he's in a Benz.  But that same guy, same guy, pulls up in a Honda Accord, the girl wouldn't look twice.  So we know it's status, and to satisfy our desire for our value and worth, we want it.

Same seed, different fruit.  The same seed is that we're all looking for our value in this society, but the different fruit produced is how we choose to pursue it. Women want to be beautiful, so however culture defines it for them, that's desired.  And men want to be respected and honored and glorified, so culture tells us if you're not rich or play a sport very well, you're a nobody.

And it's sad to watch the Christian body still struggling with the same thing.  Christian women are juggling with which is more important: To attract men, should I focus on getting more beautiful or getting more godly.   Which ironically, are almost polar opposites. "Guys seem to like tighter bodies, so let me get a tight body and show it off with how I dress, even though God says dress modestly." 

And Christian men are juggling between getting more status or getting more godly.  Which ironically again, they can be polar opposites too.  Girls seem to like the bad guys, so let me be bad, even though God is saying be good and serve them.  Girls seem to like guys that can get any girl they want, so let me get any girl I want.  Let me grow my status in the church, not because I desire influence and understand the responsbility of that, but to be liked.

Now my plight is that, I'm still figuring out why our identities and our worth is so hard to realize, to learn, and to live in.  It's like we flucate up and down from feeling a million bucks to hating life and feeling condemnation.  So even as I write I'm looking at you like,

What are we supposed to do!? 

I mean we're flooded with this, day in and day out.  We're way more consumed by entertainment than our Bibles and than our devotion.  We're actually content with a 15 minute devotional when every TV show is at least 22 minutes long.  What will it take for us to gain a knowledge of who we are in Christ and live in it daily and not allow this world to define us but instead Jesus be the center of our lives foreal? 

Crescendo ending and a cliff hanger ending in a venting jam.  ;)  And still, my high school English and college public speaking training proves itself worthy. Haha.  The End. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Grace That's Hard To Ignore


And the sad truth. So many people do ignore it.

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

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 1 Corinthians 12:8

I was driving home from an early morning bible study with some great older men of the faith, and a song I was playing in my car just reminded me of the gospel.  Here are the lyrics.

Beauty for ashes
Joy for pain
Mercy instead of my blame
Ruins me for more
I'm lost in Your presence Lord.

It's from the song Over My Head by Starfield.  And the gist of the song is the writer is clueless and seemingly wrecked at God's love for us.  It's over his head, it doesn't make any sense.  And as I'm listening to those lyrics this morning, they just jump out and hit me in new way.  I've heard this song a thousand times (literally), but this time, it was such a refreshing truth on the ride home.  And as tears rushed to my eyes as I thought about my own life and all God has seriously done and continues to offer as exchanges for me.

Son, you have ashes, I'll turn them into beauty.
Son you have pain, I'll exchange them for joy.
Son you feel the blame, I'll exchange it for mercy.

The biblical definition of grace is to get something that we do not deserve; unmerited favor.

Hmm....Receiving something that we do not deserve?

Who doesn't love that?  How many of your friends would allow you to fully abuse them and yet, whenever you ask for anything they are right there to give it to you, an abundance of times?  I will go ahead and answer that for you.  None of them will. 

I've questioned the hearts of man.  I have a very deep misunderstanding of how anyone can ignore the love of God.  I know what the Bible says about the god of this world, Satan, has blinded the eyes of the unbeliever (2 Corinthians), but can the blind see again today?  Please? 

I'm extremely wrecked by the gospel, which enlightens me to the fact that both believers and unbelievers need the gospel.  If you are an unbeliever, let me help you know what that means.  A person that does not believe in the birth and life and resurrection of Jesus Christ and have not put their faith in Him, this is for you.  Hey, He loves you.  And I know, you may have heard that before.  You may have read a bumper sticker that said it, but you're reading it again.  Jesus loves you.  He has paid for the sins you may have just committed today, yesterday, last weekend, or right now, or about to do.  Jesus has covered it, paid for it, because of His grace and mercy for you.  Stop ignoring this free gift.  No, don't focus on what's expected from you to be a Christian.  God will deal with that when He gets you first.  He wants YOU!  And please for a minute forget the Christians that may have hurt you or given you a bad image of God, I'm about to get to them in a minute, but this is for you-----God is not like them.  They should be more like God, and yes they may have shown you blatant hypocrisy, but again, that's the purpose of the gospel.  That is the purpose of the cross.  God saw that we were going to continue to be a fallen people, continue to rebel, to war, to disagree, to fight, to verbal abuse, to covet, to abandon, to judge, to hate, to hurt and yet, His son, has beautifully died and paid the price for our sins.  So that hypocrite's short comings that turned you away from God, God paid for them, so who are you to judge them?  There is no condemnation for them----but please know this is not an exclusive group.  You can be well under that promise of no condemnation yourself, of eternal life for yourself and freedom from your sins.  That's available for you.  They have been died for, just as you have been.  Stop ignoring the grace and come to Him.  Come to Him.  Come to Him.

Believers, now it's your turn.  REST.  Experience the gospel daily.  We have to start living as if this home is not ours, and rest in the fact that WE ARE OKAY.  You have eternity in heaven if your future, so calm down and rest.  If you fail that class, guess what?  You have eternity in your future, and a different GPA, but still, you're okay.  Remember that your works are desired by God but only of an outpour of your love for Him.  It does not earn your approval anymore, it does not earn you any more love.  You are redeemed and forgiven.  Live in it.  Rejoice.  Calm down and live.  You're alive.  Rejoice in the Savior.  Love the Savior.  Give your life to your Savior.  Live in daily repentance, because I guarantee you, you will mess up later today or very soon.  Because even on your best day, your works are not good enough.  So rest in the truth that you're covered, and pursue Jesus and pursue His holiness and godliness out of the love of your heart for God doing what He has done.  Stop ignoring that you have this grace and live in it.  You are free dear friend.  You are free.  And go easy on them unbelievers.  They need to see the love you claim to know--which is you claiming a certain love you have.  They need to see you actually be the church.  They need to actually see your life wrecked for the gospel and transforming your mind because you've placed your hope in Him.  Stop ignoring the fact that you must share this grace, but first you must know it yourself. 

The gospel is for us all.  I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of god for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. Romans 1:16

Jesus my friends, has delivered a beautiful gift to us.  If you've speed read through this blog, slow down right now. 

Jesus
died
for
you. 

His grace is sufficient--which means, that sin or brokenness or heartache or whatever you are finding hard to deal with, try Him on it.  He said it was sufficient---  let Him prove it to you.

Love you all.  Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why Do We Desire Our Chains?

I once heard a story about the months following the abolishment of slavery in 1865.  It was about a 45 year old slave who was released by his slave owner, but refused to leave---refused the freedom.  The slave owner, in fear of being convicted of the crime of holding him, began to forcefully attempt to remove the slave from his property.  But the slave would not leave.  When asked why he wouldn't, he simply answered, "What else should I do?"  The slave owner explained, "But you're free now.  You can have a regular life now.  Freedom has been granted.  Why are you denying it?"  The slave answers, "I've been a slave all my life.  All I've done is the work on your plantation.  All I know is the skills I've learned here.  What else should I do?  This is all I know." 

"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you."  Romans 8:5-9

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

If you've been reading my blogs for awhile, you may have become aware of how in tune I try to be and stay with my own brokenness.  Even the title of my entire blog is at its depth an expression of deep healing.  So the question I've proposed to you, and most recently to myself, is the question why do we desire our chains? 

Here's why I am asking.  If you're a believer in Christ, and you've tasted the salvation that we have experienced and the freedom in Him that comes along with it------why do we still desire the chains of our sin? Answer it with this question in mind.  What's your thoughts of the slave not wanting to leave? 

I feel that we may have gotten ourselves into something.  Because, if we're freed from sin, why do we still desire it?  If we're alive, why do we still desire death?  I think it goes all the way to the truth that we're all born into sin.  We are all born with a sin nature and we have dealt with this nature since birth.  It's evident in children, when you do not have to teach children to be selfish and greedy and angry, and violent.  They innately do it---inherited sin.  So, imagine this brokenness has become a part of our identities.  Just like the slave, all he knows is being a slave.  All the skills he knows is as a slave.  All he's even done and worked has been as a slave.  So maybe many of us have identified ourselves in our sin.

You cannot miss that.  Maybe you have identified too much of yourself in your sin?  Maybe you're so used to being depressed, or so used to being lustful, or so used to being angry, or so used to being insecure, that you've identified yourself with your brokenness.  It's become who you are.  I remember the first few weeks of dealing with my issues, I had a hard time imagining a world without them. 

Then it hit me. 

I'm used to my chains.  Because here's a truth about humans, we ALWAYS find a way to be okay.  We always respond to situations, we are never neutral. We never just endure pain.  We will find a way to ease it.  Whether its good or bad, we will find a way to ease it.  So what I've found is that these things we turn to have been comforts at one time.  Whatever it is we're addicted to or struggle with, it was once a comfort.  The porn has at one time comforted our desire for intimacy.  The flirtation has at one time comforted us with our desire for attention and self worth.  The drugs comforted our depression or insecurity at one time.  The drinking comforted our desire to make the pain go away or the loneliness of not fitting it.  The cutting comforted us by giving us another pain to focus on. 

Before we were free, we adapted to our chains.  The first few weeks in our chains, it hurt bad, but our natural tendency is to ease our own pain, so in that we got comfortable.  In other words, we figured out a way to deal with the pain. 

But, we're free now.  We've been freed from those chains, from those past sins. But our identities are still tied up in them.  So just like the slave, it was easy to free him, but what shall he do? 

Give him a new identity.  Help him get the slave out of him.  He's still thinking slave. He's still acting slave.  Even though he's free, he's still a slave in his heart.  We have a few modern sayings like, "You can take the thug out of the hood, but you can't take the hood out of the thug." It's the same message. 

God can take the slave out of slavery, but He must and will work to get the slavery out of the slave.  Our minds are still desiring slavery when we desire our chains.  We STILL desire death.  We STILL desire our chains because they were once comforts to us.  And friend, it's going to be a battle to get the slavery out of you. You don't just fall into godliness, it will take focus and discipline.  You don't just fall into being a man of God or a woman of God, it takes submitting to Jesus and allowing Him to transform your heart and desires.

You're free now.  Stop desiring your chains.  We must----friends---we must allow God to give us new identities.  Those past sins does not define you anymore.  Those addictions do not define you.  Things in your past does not define you.  You are free.  You've been made new.  Jesus is your new Master.  He has your new identity in Him, pursue Him, love Him, grown in Him, love Him. 

Those chains are no longer you.  Get up.  Walk away from them.  You're free.

Friends.  You're free. 

It's Going To Be Alright

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.  Psalm 31:24

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

I have a guilty pleasure.  I enjoyed the minutes after the election of reading the Facebook and Twitter posts.  Like, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Like, popcorn and two sources of electronic devices loaded up.  Let me paint for you the extremity of this enjoyment. 

I had my laptop open, on Facebook.  I changed my newsfeed to Most Recent, so I could get the freshest of the posts.  Then, I had my tablet on Twitter, where I was also hitting the refresh button every few seconds so I could get the freshest of the Tweets. 

I know, I know.  How sad of me.  But I will say this, I enjoyed seeing you all post your opinions of your heart. 

Yes, I said it.  Your heart. 

So I really wanted to hop into the mix.  Ya know, toss in my opinion of everyone else's opinions about other people's opinions, but then it hit me, I would only being doing just that, voicing my opinion when I'm telling other people to stop voicing their opinions---which all just seems so silly.  And I didn't want to feel silly, however, this thought hit me--------I have a blog.

So right now, I'm being silly.  My opinion of the election is..........

Please people calm down. 

I can tell that a lot of us are not thinking of eternity when it comes to worldly issues.  I'm honestly talking to my believer friends here, because this should be expected from unbelievers who live with no hope in anything other than this world, but you, the Christian....

Where is your hope? 

I'm witnessing from many of you a lack of awareness of the sovereignty of God.  I'm witnessing from a lot you an exposure of your hearts condition of your security.  A lot have tweeted the "Christian things", but not many are actually believing it.  If Jesus is our King and our President and God controls it all, then your next Tweet should not be some demeaning sarcastic Tweet about people on welfare and food stamps and leaving the country.  Because if you believe that God is sovereign, you would understand that the hearts of man are corrupt and that God's wrath will be dealt to the wicked.  So therefore, there is no hope outside of Jesus.  Guys, nothing will get better outside of Jesus, because the wicked will be dealt with.  Your church isn't telling you this are they?  God will judge the wicked, and if you are not in Christ and covered by His sacrifice for your sins then you will be judged by the Law, which says that if you break one of the laws you break the entire Law, which means you are guilty.  But you can be justified as innocent because of Jesus's death for your sins, His payment covers you if you receive it.   

So, calm down.  You're okay.  Which is why I am saying to the believers, "It's going to be alright." 

Hey, if this nation does blow up and we all get controlled by China or lose oil or whatever, know that God is sovereign, know that you are okay.  Our hope is not in this world, so that means if this world---let's just say the worst case scenario, it explodes.  We are going to be with the Lord in Heaven. 

So beyond all your stressed out lives and your worries about the economy collapsing and the world going in shambles and you having to work so hard for lazy people, guess what? 

You're going to die one day and be with God in heaven for eternity, and a lot of people will not be.  Are you aware of this?  You are OKAY.  The estimated 72 years we spend on this Earth is nothing compared to the promise you have waiting for you in heaven.  Calm the freak down. 

I don't mean to be aggressive, but I'm seeing us, the Christian body, continue to put our hope in nothing that is bringing life for ourselves or unbelievers.  Instead we're giving in to the worries of the decrees of this world, and the ones without hope are in turmoil and even the Christians are too, then how are they going to see the light in us?  Are they going to see the hope in us if you're freaking out every time your internet goes out or the president you don't like gets elected or something doesn't go your way, get over yourself and know that Jesus is your hope. 

Now, I know this is easier said than done.  I'll be needing this blog in I'm sure a week when I'm stressing about something, so I'm aware this is a normal attitude for us.  But, remember this one thing,

It's going to be alright.

You are okay.  You have God.  A lot of people don't.    

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Take This Cup From Me; Yet Not


“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.  Luke 22:42-44

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

Interesting twist in the story.  For you churched people, you've heard this story several times.  But, just to be thorough, I want to give the context of this scripture. 

Jesus, at this point of the story in Luke, was very aware that the time had come for him to be betrayed and crucified.  And what you find, Jesus who was fully man and fully God, is showing a brief moment of vulnerability.  His fully man side was showing, revealing distress about the upcoming events.  The idea of dealing with the beating, and the accusing  and the nails, and the crown of thorns, seemed to be for a second overwhelming---so much that He needed strengthening to deal with the death headed his way. 

Why am I sharing this?

Well as always, I have a question for you.  How do you respond when your God given calling requires pain?  

Let me ask it this way.  Are you still willing to go through with God's calling even if you have to endure pain?    

Up until this time, lets stretch a little bit and say Jesus had it easy.  Not in the context of His lifestyle was easy, but just actively walking out His God sent calling was easy.  I mean, He was healing people, raising people from the dead, teaching and preaching, walking on water, performing miracles, all with seemingly effortless obedience to the Father. And please hear me, I'm not trying to make light of those beautiful moments in Jesus's ministry at all, but what I am saying is that up until this point, He had never had to pray in this way.   But here we see, Jesus asking for God to reconsider the plan.  I don't know about you, but I like this side of my Savior. 

So what I've learned from this and my recent life experiences is the question, what if God places you in a place that may hurt you for the sake of others?  

With our selfish culture, psh, hard to accept eh?  "If I ain't getting anything out of this, I'm not wasting my time." Says you and me.  

But what if God does it to you?  What if He puts you somewhere that you think is a waste of time because you're not benefiting from it?  

It would be like a guy in a race, being brilliantly talented, laying himself down between two connecting cliffs to allow the slower and less talented runner to finish before him. What's even the proper word for that?  Grace? Love? Selfless?  Stupidity?  

But what I see is Jesus is willing to be obedient to God, no matter what He has to to go through for the sake of us--which is the gospel.  Jesus, already in Heaven, already the Son, already in God's glory, came to die for us...... for....what?  It wasn't for Him, it was for us.  He already was with God, so this wasn't some works based thing Jesus had to do, but He did for the sake of us.  So, maybe there's more to this persecution thing?  

What if God leads us through some suffering in order to help someone else?  That there are somethings in your life right now that you may think sucks, but God has you there to bless someone else.  What if God has you in relationship with someone only to help them, and you get nothing you want in return?  

If I dare to be vulnerable with you.  I feel like I do a lot of pouring out and giving away of myself to others.  And in a lot of cases, always seeing the good in others, giving others the benefit of the doubt, always being sure others needs are being taken care of, always wanting the best for others.  And as of late, I feel a floating question is lingering in the back of my mind that is getting louder, "God, what about me?" I don't necessarily like the question, but I'm very honest and real with my feelings.  

"I mean, God, you seem to be enjoying taking care of everyone else through me, but what about me?" 

And the question I love to even ask myself when I start talking like that is this one, "What am I really after?  God's glory or my own?  Am I doing all of these things for something in return?  Why can't I love first?  Serve first? Lead first?  Grace first?  Forgive first?  Change first? Submit first?  Didn't Jesus do it for me?  Didn't He do it for you?  And I love my Savior's response to distress in His life, "God, I don't want to go through with this, is there anything else we can do? Yet...."  

Come on somebody!!!!!  Jesus said Yet Not -----my will, but yours.  

In that yet not, Jesus was realigning himself with God, saying "Yet not my will, yet not my way, yet not my glory, yet not my emotions, yet not my desires being satisfied.  God, it's all about you! Your will be done!  Your way acknowledged."   He realigned himself with God.   He realigned himself with the cross.  And------as will I.  

My dear, dear friends...

As will I.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Live Deeply

 "A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,  for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?"  Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

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

I've been studying the book of Ecclesiastes.  Along with listening to teaching on it as well by Pastor Matt Chandler at The Village Church in Dallas, I've dove deep into understanding the underlining message of King Solomon in the text.  So this blog has a chance of being very similar to the Pacifiers and the Death Bed Question blog I wrote last month.

So, let's do some groundwork first.  First of all, you have to believe that God is for your joy.  Like, you have to, just have to, believe deep down in your heart that God is for your joy.  And that He's not withholding things from you, that He's not keeping you from having fun, but He's ultimately for your joy.  If you disagree with that, then, this blog may not carry the weight that it has the potential of carrying in your heart.  For anyone to truly feel the weight of this blog and this text, we have to agree on some things.  First of all, ALL THINGS were created by God and for God.  Secondly, sin is simply a perversion of design, meaning that when we are disobedient we are not behaving how God designed us(James 1:23-24), and when we abuse things that are given by God and using them in the wrong ways, that's what sin is.  So in that, I say that sexuality, marriage, sex, money, pleasures, friendships, all these things are created by God, His design.   And since they are His creation, He knows how its supposed to work.  

Are you with me?  

All things are created by God, so therefore can only be fully enjoyed when done how they were designed.  We can't fully enjoy our new sleek iPhone trying to use them as spatulas to flip burgers. So, let's go.

So, living deeply is this new idea and life philosophy I have of enjoying things how God designed them.  It's a response to the book of Ecclesiastes in which it talks greatly of how EVERYTHING is vanity and meaningless.  That all things will come to an end.  That all of our pursuits can be vane to a certain degree.  "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind."  Ecclesiastes 1:14 

Claude, this blog is not very encouraging. 

Hahaha.  Keep flowing with me.  So in response to all things being vanity, the message is, MAKE IT COUNT. 

MAKE YOUR LIFE COUNT. 

Now, there are some filthy messages out there that seemingly say the same thing, like YOLO and "You're Only Young Once", but those are taken out of context and perverted.  King Solomon is not saying that at all, but what He is saying is this, ""A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" Ecclesiastes 2:24

So the YOLO principal can be applied, except in the realm of IN GOD.  So you only live once, so make it count, IN GOD.  Enjoy pleasures, IN GOD.  Enjoy fun and laughter, IN GOD.  Enjoy sex, IN GOD.  Because what I submit to you is that IN GOD is where we will find the greatest fulfillment of all these things.  If God is for our joy--- and He his, aggressively, ----then we will find great joy IN Him and be able to fully enjoy these things IN Him.  Do you see the common denominator here?

IN HIM.  IN GOD. 

So yes, I am saying if you're not IN GOD then you're not living.  You're missing out on greater things, or more immeasurably greater things.  Yes, I am saying you are cheating yourself of thinking you can enjoy creation without the Creator.  Yes, I am saying you are the person desiring the pigs pods when God is offering you the fattened calf.  Luke 5:11-32.  Yes, I am saying you are desiring shallow things when God wants you to enjoy things deeply.  Joy is deeper than happiness.  Yes, I am saying you are wanting Ramon noodles when God is grilling steaks.  Sin is beneath you, God is the best for you.  You are cheating yourself, selling yourself short.  Desiring Oldsmobile when you have the Ferrari. 

Are you getting my point?   

Deep friendships. Having friends that know you and love you and challenge you and pray for you.    Deep relationships.  Having relationships that honors God and passionately seeks to serve one another and die for one another. 
Deep sex.  Having the companionship of a deep friend in a deep relationship.  An undeniable spiritual connection and physical connection and deep affection for this person, and you're engaging in a beautiful act that brings you two together as one.

God wants you to enjoy these things, but we've figured out ways of settling for the least, such as porn and lust.  Men, God wants you to long for a woman and her body, Adam responded the same way.  Don't feel bad that you desire women, but allow God's word to transform you in realizing that we shouldn't pervert that desire by wanting ALL of them, and even desiring the one on that porn site.  Women, God wants you to long to be a wife.  Don't allow pastors and singles coaches to make you fear that desire.  God wants us to enjoy relationships.  So stop letting the devil convince you that ALL men are the same, and that ALL women are the same.  All men are not dogs.  All women are not manipulators.  God wants us to enjoy deep friendships.  So stop letting betrayal in the past keep you from making new friends.  Being vulnerable SUCKS when it's abused, I know, I've been there.  But there are people out there that will love you for you, that you will be able to trust, that you will be able to allow to love you.  So come out of that brokenness and enter into a new realm of understanding that God is for you, and in Him you will find healing.   

GOD IS FOR YOU. And He's screaming, ENJOY ME MY CHILD. 

SON, ENJOY ME.  BE WITH ME.  LIVE IN ME. 

DAUGHTER. ENJOY ME. BE WITH ME. LIVE IN ME. 

Readers and friends, let's live deeply.  Enjoying life. Soaking up God given pleasures.  Realizing that His law is for my joy, so I delight in something being so concerned about my joy and my well being.  That a God cares enough to delight in me and want what's best for me.  Drink deeply from the well of fulfillment. Smile. Heal. Love. Risk. Dream. Drink. Eat. Laugh. Sleep.Work. Rest. Trust. Be Still.

Live Deeply my friends.  Live Deeply.   





Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You Are Mine

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

Thanks for reading this blog today.  I'm encouraged to share with you the heart of our God. 

I know that some of you may have an issue with authority.  You may have had a person in authority who abused it.  You may have seen the countless reports of dirty cops and dirty principals abusing their authority.  And on heading towards an election, I'm continuing to witness a deep fear of putting someone in leadership with any sort of flaws or character deficiencies that we disagree with.  And of course the blatant fear of, "What if they're lying to us just to get into office?" 

In any sense of the term, I think as a culture we fear authority. And understandably, we've had sucky authority.  However, in this fear, we miss out on experiencing a beautiful truth about God.

As you saw, this blog is called You Are Mine.  Meaning, we are God's.  His possession.  His creation.  Created for His glory.  Not for our own glory, but His glory.  So that His name will be known among ALL of the Earth.  He created all things for Himself to enjoy.  He, the infinite of infinites.   No one knows how He got there, but He's there.  He's here.  He was here way before us.  He will be here way after us.  The Alpha and the Omega.  The beginning and the end.  The first and the last.  No other god is before Him.  The God of all gods.  The King of all kings.  The Ruler of all rulers.  Nothing happens without His knowing.  He's omnipresence.  He's everywhere at once.  He's omniscient.  He knows EVERYTHING.  He's omnipotent.  Limitless power.  He saves who He wants to save.  Judges who He wants to judge.  Does what He wants to do.  Move when He wants to move.  Is quiet when He wants to be silent.  He's above all creation.  The ultimate being if He can even be described as a being.  The majestic.  Incredibly mighty.

A little intimidating huh? Well, hang on to that feeling.  Let's do a little work here.

The same weight you feel right now, the same weight of God's ultimate authority and mighty power and the fear of the truth in that He can choose to flex His power whenever He wants, let's put that weight on the truth that He loves you.

Yes, He loves you.

Shall we run through the gospel? Just, quickly.  Let's go.

Adam and Eve sinned, which brought sin into this world and fractured the order of God's design.  So every time we have sinned it is a very directed jab at His authority and rule.  And people, His creation, continue to run away, hide and ignore the warnings and signs of His wrath which are in itself acts of grace.  Because He could just wipe His hands of us, write us off, but for some reason He doesn't.  Then Jesus, who is God in the flesh, so is fully God and fully man, comes to Earth to be the sacrifice for our continual rebellion---to fully satisfy the wrath of God for our sin for breaking His law.  So IN Jesus, we are reconciled and justified legally for our sin in response to breaking God's law.  Not because of anything we've done, but FULLY because of God's love for us.  And we run from His authority, but only someone in authority such as He can make a call such as this---to fully pay the tab----to fully pay the debt! 

I love the thought that God Himself satisfied His own wrath by coming as Jesus.  In His omniawesomeness (every way awesome), the idea of something in the position of just, glory, as God is and would remove Himself from His throne to be with us, is in itself delightful and greatly weighty to my soul.  And in this truth, we find the covenant He has made.  That for those that are IN Christ, there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1)  No condemnation. Approved in the sight of God.  No punishment for your sins.  Redeemed.  Which means bought back from the consequences of our sin.  He bought us back for ownership. so if you're in Christ, you're His.  Shall I repeat it?

WE -----------------ARE---------------------- HIS. 

He has created the very essence of who you are, and born into inherited sin already apart from Him---He has taken great pleasure in bringing us back to Himself by adoption through the death of His Son Jesus. (Ephesians 1:5)  So, that intimidation you felt earlier, yeah, that's coming from something that's saying I love you enough to die for you.  And I WANTED to do it.  I TOOK PLEASURE IN IT. 

My grace is sufficient for you.  Why?  Because I'm infinite.
My mercy is greater than any of your sins?  Why.  Because I do what I want. 
Nothing can separate my love from you. Why?  Because no other god is above Me.

You are MINE. 

Get over yourself children.  You are not gods. You do not run anything.  You have no control of nothing.  You do not know more than me.  I am God.  I am He.  I am the One.  IT ALL ENDS WHEN I TELL IT TO.  Your opinions does not matter, ever.............. even when your opinion tries to tell you that you don't deserve me.  I didn't choose you because you're awesome and had it together, I chose you before you were even created.  Flaws and all.  Broken and well.  Crazy and smart.  Slow and dumb.  Angry and wicked. 

YOU ARE MINE. 

Get over yourself, and get to ME.

You ARE MINE. 


 

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Death Bed Question

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting,  for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.  Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.  The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure."  Ecclesiastes 7:2

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

The book of Ecclesiastes has been rocking my world these last few weeks.  Here's a little back-story of the book.  

The writer, King Solomon, was the wisest man to ever live on the Earth-- and also the wealthiest.  So I'm sure in that alone builds his credibility for him to be able to teach us a thing or two about life here on Earth. In the book, he actually tells us, "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure." Ecclesiastes 2:10

So, the "Death Bed Question" was derived by yours truly when playing this game called "Hot Seat" with some friends of mine.  The game Hot Seat puts one person in a chair and the entire group asks them probing questions.  It can be a very dangerous game if played with the wrong crowd, but in our case, it was the right crowd.  So in my deep desire to hear people's hearts, I thought of this question, the "Death Bed Question". 

"If you were on your death bed, what is one thing you would want to look back and say, 'I'm glad that I did that." 

This question is usually a challenging one, because it makes people become vulnerable with disclosing their hearts deepest desires.  I think two it reveals even to themselves the things that would concern them most, and possibly be the cause of deep regret if they're fortunate enough to die in this expectant way.  

But from the question, I've gotten some very interesting answers.  Because when you get people to think about their death, you hear very interesting responses.  So, let's unpack this verse.  What King Solomon means is that it's better for us to go to the house of mourning, or the modern day term would be funeral, because of the effect death has on us.  Many of us can agree that when we're faced with the reality of death, a special concern for our lives arises out of nowhere.  Some common responses to death is that a person desires to make a lot of things right, usually with God or with family or with things in their lives.  A lot of people attend funerals with this realization that life is short and death is real, and their decisions should be taken more seriously.  So there's something about death that wakes us up, makes us realize that we're possibly not living to our fullest potential or capacity of enjoyment and fulfillment, or a term I like to us, living deeply enough.  All of life's shallow pursuits seem very meaningless when faced with death.  No one is thinking about their next drunken night or next sexual partner or disobedient action when sitting at a funeral.

And our wise brother Solomon is saying that it's better for us to realize that you're guaranteed death.  "For death is the destiny of everyone."  There's a lot of things in our lives we're unsure about, but death should not be one of them.  Whether it's tomorrow or when you're 30, or when you're 78, death is the end of us all.  So in this truth that it's unpredictable, and no one knows when they will die, King Solomon is saying enjoy your life and live deeply in God.  "The living should take this to heart."  

Better to be in the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting. Feasting in his culture and for the most part still in ours, usually happened at parties.  And there's a cloudiness that happens to us at parties or when we're enjoying life that we forget that we're fragile.  Have you ever noticed this shift in attitude?  When you're feeling 100%, you're not worrying about your health?  You're eating McDonald's every day and fried foods and walking out in traffic and jumping off roofs---but let that same person get sick.  They get more fragile with their health.  Every decision is carefully weighed.  Let that person have a near death experience, they're more fragile with life.  It's like in the midst of enjoyment and life is working well for us, we get this indestructible attitude.  But when death happens close to us, we're reminded that we're not so indestructible.  No human is.  

This is the response Solomon is wanting to communicate with us.  In times of feasting, it's easy to forget the fragility of life.  In times of fun, it's easy to lose the knowledge that it will end.  So here's what I'm submitting to you.

I'm not telling you that feasting is in itself wrong, or enjoying life in itself is wrong.  I'm saying whatever the product of your hearts desire when faced with death, enjoy life doing that.  If when faced with death you think about people, then enjoy deep relationships and friendships.  Be intentional with them, love them, serve them, give of yourself for them, go deep with them.  If when faced with death you think about making things right with God, then know this that you can be made right with God by receiving Jesus into your heart. Jesus is your righteousness and justification and how you're able to be made right with God.  Hey, and after that, enjoy your Savior.  Don't let religion sucker you in thinking you've signed up for a new lifestyle---no no no---please hear me.  You're signing up for life.  Yes, I'm saying if you're not living in Christ then you are dead.  You're not enjoying life foreal because you're not even alive.

So, this is to "the living".  Which means I'm talking to you because you're reading this.  Take heart that your destiny is death.  And if that scares you right now, that's the beauty of that text.  Now, don't ignore it, but respond to whatever turns up in your heart.  And remember this verse, also from the book of Ecclesiastes

"A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.  This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?"  Ecclesiastes 2:24 

This verse is a reminder, that all pleasures and desires are from God.  So how can you fully enjoy the pleasure without the enjoying the giver of it?  So if you think you're enjoy life as dead, just imagine if you were to seek enjoyment in being alive?

So I'm asking you now.  If you were on your death bed, what is one thing you would want to look back and say, 'Hey, I'm glad that I did that.'?  Once you answer that, get to the root of those desires, and pursue it.  Stop wasting time missing out on enjoying life.  You're cheating yourself.

Without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment?