Monday, September 19, 2016

Love is Messy

I'm going to start this one out a little differently. Usually, I tell a story of my life and then bring it back to Jesus, but I'm just gonna jump right to the meat of this blog from square one. Love is messy. Throughout the Bible, love is messy. Throughout every characters life in the Bible, through every character in the acts of history, through every character reading this right now, love is messy. And even though we continue to make a mess of the love we have for others and for our God, His love for us is ridiculously consistent! It is unfailing, unending, unconditional love in the rawest form.

 From the start of creation, an infinitely loving God had to not only allow us to rebel against Him, but watch with his caring heart as we did, knowing full well the consequences of our own rebellion. He had to watch his only begotten Son die on a cross so that we might even have a chance of the redemption and salvation that we need, and yet He still has to watch as people refused that immensely ginormous free gift. And yet. AND YET. His love is consistent, unfailing, unending, and unconditional.

 Jesus, our bridegroom, lived a perfect life. A perfect one. He's the only person to live a perfect life and the foundation of Christianity hinges on it. But we aren't perfect. Not even close! No one is except Jesus. I mean imagine this from Jesus' perspective real quick to grasp this before you skim on to the next paragraph. He's the bridegroom and we are the bride. We're the bride! We suck. We aren't perfect. We don't deserve that at all. And he knows that. He knows we suck, to put it ever so bluntly. He went all the way through life and died on a cross knowing we weren't even close to being perfect. In fact he died because of that reason! Our bridegroom lived a perfect life while His bride didn't, and then instead of giving up, he went to the cross and died so that we might have his perfection given to us freely. I hope that blows your mind. Can you imagine being Jesus? I'd be like, "well, Scottie hasn't talked to me for 3 months, I better let him know my grace is dwindling thin, and that if he doesn't talk to me, I'm gonna have to abort this whole love thing and just go live my life without dying." No! That's ridiculous! Thats not love. Love is consistently unconditional.

 We, on the other hand, are not perfect, and apart from Gods imputed righteousness, never will be. We will continue to make mistakes and screw up in all of our relationships. With our parents, our children, our siblings, our spouses, our significant others, our friends, our coworkers, everyone we come in contact with. We will always fail. And yet Jesus taught us one important thing about love and relationships. They aren't about other people's failures. They are about consistent, unconditional love that is full of grace when asked for. We commomly make mistakes when it comes to understanding this in our relationships. Our tendency is to sit and think that relationships are all about how I am treated, about wrongs done to me. And that's probably a huge impact of today's society. But the love of God and of the Bible is so radically reversed in that it's about how I treat others and about what wrongs I do to them. Family, friends, spouses, they will all fail you! So don't put your hope in them, put them in the love that is consistent, Jesus Christ, and then continue to love them like he loves you!

Ive been in a relationship for 17 months. It had its fair share of rocky moments. But looking back to every single one of them, it was always because we placed our hopes and fulfillments in each other, not God. We were too prideful to own up to our own mistakes but continually pointed out the mistakes of each other. We got defensive when wrongs were brought up. That's not a healthy approach to relationships. Relationships are meant to be poured from the inside out, not the outside in. We can't expect love and growth and trust and grace in relationships where we are expecting them in return before we dish them out ourselves. We need to take it from the consistent source, Jesus, and then give it out to each other. That is my goal! To grow in that type of love, with all of the relationships in my life. In my experience, that's the single most critical aspect to all relationships. With it, mistakes are still made, but love is consistent. Without it...

 Love is messy

This winding road sums up our efforts at love pretty well

Monday, May 25, 2015

Becoming sanctified toward perfection; Not searching for perfection.

Does anyone else agree that there is a ton of bad advice out there?  Permeating popular culture, and sadly even the church culture,  is this undertone that friends and relationships and marriages are all about what I want.  They are all about how others make me feel.  They are all about me getting what I deserve and "not settling".  Instead of love becoming selfless, it has become selfish.  It has become outwardly focused on other peoples actions.  And a lot of times we don't even know we are doing it until it's pointed out.  Something is seriously wrong here.

Lets walk through a typical list I hear from people and even myself sometimes if I am not paying attention.

I just want a guy who is:
-Attractive, I mean like he has to have suave hair, square jaw, piercing eyes, muscular!
-Physically active and works hard
-Goes to church and raises his hands while he worships
-Believes in God and it's evident in how he lives and treats people
-Funny, he has to be funny! I like to laugh
-He needs to be loving and gentle
-Has to be smart! I want a guy who can support me.
-I think independence and confidence are attractive. thats important.
-It'd be cool if he liked hiking...and photography...and motorcycles...and getting a drink...and going to the park...and can going shopping with me....and puppies....and eating.....and breathing....
-There just have to be sparks.  I can't explain it.
etc. etc. etc.


I just want a girl who is:
-likes sports

Notice the difference between the lists... but seriously, all stereotypical jokes aside, how normal is that? Maybe not those specific lists, but the premise behind them.  Even if your list is just, "I want someone to love me for who I am".  We somehow inevitably meet friends and we instantly begin judging them within seconds.  At first, they might be a cool friend.  You get along. Things are so much fun! Then they gossip about you.  You feel backstabbed.  Friendship over.  Then theres a new friend, awesome! They are so funny you can't stay away.  But they smoke. Ugh I can't handle that. Friendship over.  Now there is an attractive girl! I'm going to talk to her! oh she likes me, sweet! Man, we have so much in common, he fits everything on my list, this is great! Wait did he really just not open the door for me? eh, ill let it slide maybe once.  Wait did she just cuss? That's not ideal.  Did he just say he doesn't like bananas! How is that even possible? peace out! and on and on and on.  Those example might be a smidgen ridiculous but seriously, the critically minute analyzation of behaviors and physical details can be very similar to that.  We are looking for failure.

Dating has become all about being yourself and looking around at who best fits with you.  You are just waiting for something to go wrong, for some quality about them to surface.  What you are really doing is searching for Jesus.  You are searching for perfection! I have been listening to the Louie Giglio series out of Passion City church this whole week which has really placed this on my heart because it is so evident looking at my own thoughts and actions and hearing others voice theirs.  He just struck me with this comment,

"The problem with relationships is we got this guy over here and he's amazing! He's not perfect but he is pretty darn close to perfect! and what we say to the guy is: 'Hey! I need you to reflect to me love, appreciation, my beauty and treasure, I need you to forgive me because I might mess up some.  I need you to call me up to special things in life, I need you to lift me up to the highest standard, and I need you to believe in me and cheer for me all the days of my life. Do that for me.' And we are looking in the mirror at a person over here and when we do that we set them up for a big time failure. And we set ourselves up for an even bigger figure.  Because we weren't created for him or her.  We were created by a Maker... for a Maker."

I wish I could just quote the entire sermon because there are so many good points! If you want to go check it out follow this link.  It will save me the typing space! I seriously encourage you to watch it.  maybe not right now, but put it on your calendar! --Louie Giglio Sermon--

When I search through the Bible, I have a hard time ever finding a definition of love that is about how others treat me.  I find a whole lot of passages about how God loved me.  I find a whole lot of passages about telling me how to love others.  But I don't find any passages that are about how I deserve to be loved by others.  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength...You shall love your neighbor as yourself" -- Mark 12:30-31 -- "Keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins" -- 1 Peter 4:8 -- "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" -- John 15:13 --"Let all that you do be done in love" -- 1 Corinthians 16:16.

You know what I always find comical? Picturing Jesus with the mindset that we all have.  We are the bride of Christ are we not? Jesus pursued us and purchased us with a significant price did he not?  Jesus portrayed the perfect love to us!  So what if Jesus had viewed me with the type of love we have described so far?  "You know what, Scottie over here, he hasn't proven that he loves me.  Just last week he ignored me for 3 whole days! and I heard from another friend that they saw him at the bar! and did he seriously just tell that joke? How uncool! He needs to be more cool if he wants to hang out with me.  I think I will just move on until he shows me that I am more important to him and fixes those things."   HOW INCONCEIVABLE! NO! What does Romans 5:8 say? You've heard me quote it countless time..."But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"

When we can start focusing on falling in love with our Creator, our Savior, our perfect Groom, and getting into His words for us, and talking to Him in prayer, and growing evermore intimate with Him, then an interesting thing happens: Our lives start transforming from the inside out.  We can start emphasizing loving others because we realize He first loved us.  We can start emphasizing edifying and lifting up and encouraging others toward the likeness of Jesus instead of just pointing out the obvious...That they aren't Jesus.

I will finish this post off with one final quote from that message by Louie,

"The purpose of life is not to get the best mate, the purpose of life is to be matured into the image of Jesus"...."The relationships be all end all purpose isn't that I have a soulmate for life.  The be all end all purpose of the relationship is I have a partner in life who is helping me with my ultimate goal in life which is to be changed into the very likeness of Jesus."

Let us stop searching for these perfect people.  Let us stop judging those in our lives.  Let us stop disqualifying people from our lives based on what we want.  Make relationships about becoming more like Jesus everyday and about helping the other person do the same thing.  Cause when it's all said and done love isn't about lists, it's not about what others can do for me, its not about searching for perfection.

Love is about becoming

Friday, January 2, 2015

Love is Restorative

Sitting on a log, looking across a serene lake as a layer of mist fogs off of the surface, glistening mountains in the background, bible open to Romans 12, squirrels chippering about collecting nuts and seeds, the occasional fish making a splash as it leaps for the bugs.  I had just woke up from camping in Lassen Volcanic National Monument on a perfect morning and grabbed my bible and journal and took a hike around the nearby lake.  Everything so peaceful.  Trees fully grown and thriving with all sorts of nests hanging about and birds chirping; Lakes healthy and balanced with reeds maintaining healthy oxygen levels for the numerous fish; Animals walking around drinking: deer, elk, squirrels, probably the occasional bear and mountain lion.  It's amazing how God keeps it all in balance.  He creates every animal and plant with a specific purpose that works to benefit those around it.  The plant doesn't know its benefiting the animals with it's oxygen byproduct.  The animals don't know they are helping the forest by scavenging and dispersing seeds.  Even the weather doesn't know it's helping by starting fires, which in turn open pine cones that only open under extreme heat, and thus restart a new healthy and bio-diverse landscape.  Everything. Works. Together.

Do you ever have those moments?  Those moments where you can just pause, get away for a second, marvel at one of God's characteristics, pray, read...etc.  They always seem to leave a lasting impact.  And they are oh so necessary.  The disciples had all just gone out and spread Jesus' words and miracles to many people and had come back to tell Jesus all about it.  Right off the bat after they return, he says,

“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.-- Mark 6:31-32

It is so important to just rest sometimes.  Get away from the crowds and the cities and the work and just rest.

It's funny, as I was sitting there resting, I thought about the history of the landscape.  Lassen Peak erupted on May 22, 1915.  It's been almost 100 years since that eruption.  Can you imagine what it must have looked like back then?  The destruction!  Ash was everywhere.  Trees were decimated.  Lakes were probably filled with ash and rock and mud and downed trees.  The area around the mountain, specifically the blast zone and the side of the mountain it erupted out on, were dead.  Completely and utterly dead.  And yet now it has grown back in most areas.  The ash is buried and long gone, and even the rocky molten sections are sprouting up trees and life.  Mt St Helens is a much more recent example.  The destruction was huge!  But now, 25 years later, grass and wildflowers and even pine trees are regrowing.  The lake is clean again.  It is restoring back to its original state. 

--yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands--Isaiah 49:15-16

Even when there has been a destructive eruption in our life.  Even when we are dead, even when we are in hard times, even when we think we are alone, God will not forget us.  He has a plan for all of us and he will not forget us.  He did not forget Noah where in Chapter 8 of Genesis, it starts off by saying, "But God remembered Noah...".  He did not forget Joseph and his family where in Chapter 50 of Genesis, it is written, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good...".  He did not forget David as Saul was chasing for him in 1 Samuel 23, "But God did not give him up into his hands".  He did not forget us, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us".

All things are in God's hands.  He is in charge of the volcanic eruption and He is in charge of the restoration.  He can use the power and magnitude of hard times to bring wisdom and patience.  He can use a past of sin to bring redemption to many.  He can use death to bring life.  All things will eventually give glory to God.  He is greater than anything that might come against you.  It reminds me of the song by Mercy Me. Check it out...
"There will be days I lose the battle. Grace says that it doesn't matter, cause the cross already won the war. I am learning to run freely, understanding just how he sees me, and it makes me love Him more and more. Cause I hear a voice and he calls me redeemed when others say I'll never be enough, and greater is the one living inside of me, than he who is living in the world."  God is the redeemer, the restorer.  He will take the mud and rock and downed trees in your life and make you into an outstanding, picturesque landscape for everyone to see.  He will take the darkness in your life, shine His light into it, and use you to pour out His light into others darkness.  He remembers you.  You are written on his hand; The very same hand that was pierced and nailed to a cross to restore righteousness and life to all of our molten, muddy hearts.

So take heart in this new year and cling to God. No matter what happened in your life, no matter what went wrong in 2014, remember, this is a new year, a new start, a chance to be restored and let God take control of the direction of your life. I know as I go into this new year, after feeling a little dry from a lack of consistent bible reading and feeling overwhelmed with all that was going on in my life, I am going to get back into seeking God's word and praying more. And not to earn any salvation or to feel better about myself, but simply to bring life back into my heart and hopefully to those around me. I want to just get out more into "places" where I can just be alone with God so that he can restore my so oft weary soul. If that's the same for you or wherever else you might find yourself in this new year, just remember,

He will .... and is restoring you!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Love is Free Will

You know what I think the greatest, hardest, and most confusing topic in the Bible is?  None other than free will.  Great because it allows love to survive and emanate through the choice that was given to us, hard because it allows for the choice to go against what we wanted, and confusing because it gets super theological with the omniscience quality of God and knowing our choice before hand (which I will not go into because I claim absolutely no scholarly ability to even breach that subject). 

If we had no choice to love, if we were forced to act in a certain way, then love would cease to exist.  Love, as with any choice, relies on the ability to choose the opposite, just as like if everything was red, then color ceases to exist, or if everything was light, then darkness ceases to exist.  The fact is that God created us with a choice, a choice between right or wrong, between good or evil, between loving Him back or turning away.  And yet, because God created us with the choice to love, he displayed the highest and most perfect form of love.  The type of love that would die for people even while they were yet turning away from Him.

Can you imagine that?  Imagine having a friend.  You have expectations that the friend will love you, that they will be loyal and trustworthy, that they will be gracious and forgiving through any experience.  It would be nice if that was just automatic...but then you wouldn't have a friend, you would have a robot.  Now let's say, for one reason or another, the friend decides to leave you.  Well, that sucks.   And then that "friend" starts doing everything you want them not to.  They mock you, they gossip about you, you name it, they do it.  Double Suck.  And then one day, a while down the road, you see your old friend walking in a store when all of a sudden he is faced with a gunmen, and you immediately react by running and protecting him and taking the bullet.  That almost never happens.  The act of sacrifice by itself we call heroic, the act of sacrifice for a "friend" who betrayed you like that is down right astounding, unbelievable.  Would you do it? Would you honestly do it? All though it is a very simplified example, that is what Jesus did.  And the greatest mystery is that He did it for everyone, even knowing many would continue to mock and turn away from Him. 

On a different, but similar note, break-ups can be hard.  Given that the break-up wasn't a truly mutual decision and that one person was hurt by the choice, a lot of hard decisions begin to happen.  I have been there.  Most of us have.  Initially, it is hard to leave the situation.  Everything inside of you wants to do everything possible to change their mind, to make them truly love you again.  After all, people always say, "If you want it, go get it".  But then you are left with a problem that I found well-stated from an unknown source,

"There is no convincing in love. If it doesn't come naturally from somebody, don't try to force that person because all you will end up with is failed expectations of a life that you thought you wanted."  

Common sense would have you believe that the greatest form of love you can show is to fight for the relationship and get it to work, to get them to love you back.  But it's not.  The root source of that choice is selfishness.  Choosing what you want and what would be better for you.  The greatest and hardest act of love to choose in that instance is to let them go, because in that moment, you are choosing what they need and want above what you need and want, you are giving them the choice to love you and respecting their choice not to, and that's exactly what love is.  Love is putting someones choice above your deepest desires and then continuing to love them through anything.  Through silence.  Through fights.  Through heartbreak.  Through rejection.  Through lies.  Through anything.  

That does not mean that you view it as "if it's meant to be, it will be", which implies you are waiting (cause after all, to you, it's meant to be) or you are placing a higher value on that relationship than any other.  That also does not mean that you continue to work behind the scenes with the expectation that they will love you back.  NO.  It means that you work every day to learn how to live out a 1 Corinthians 13 love to everyone that comes into your life, even those who have broken up with you or who hate you and not just the people you want to love you back.  

That is soooo hard.  It has probably been my biggest lesson in the last two years.  Over and over again, God keeps pointing to this subject through mentors, through His word, through sermons and podcasts, and even through the very people I wanted to love me.  Loving someone enough to put their choice to leave you above what you want is single-handedly the hardest choice ever.  And God did it for every. single. person. 

A picture from a hike in Canada that re-awed me on the God that created this


Monday, June 2, 2014

Love is Overwhelming

Have you ever had someone do something super thoughtful and surprising for you? Maybe you got a huge bouquet of flowers!!!! I can't say that I have but I am sure that some of the girls reading this might be able to relate. For the guys out there, maybe your wife made you the most magnificent dinner without telling you! I mean who doesn't like surprise food? Or maybe a bunch of your friends decided to throw you a huge surprise birthday party so they packed a color wheel of streamers and balloons into your house and took your breath away with a flip of the light switch. It's small moments like that where you feel overwhelmed with love. Someone, maybe a wife or husband, a boyfriend or girlfriend, just a normal friend, a parent, a brother or sister, went out of their way to think about you and make you feel special. Think of one idea of your own where you felt overwhelmingly loved. Just pause and think. Did you get one? maybe a few? I'll show you a couple I have thought of in the last few weeks.

This flower is ablaze with color and intricacy and life! Raindrops just watered it and nurtured it for the day which is an amazing feat in itself! Its as if every different flower was made straight from the creativity of God. Hibiscus, Lilies, Carnations, Roses, and each one in a myriad of differing colors!

Or the beauty of a sunset. Those nights where it just takes the oxygen right out of your lungs. God is just up displaying His glory for all to see! With every brush of color, contrast in light, wisp of cloud, touch of rain or dust, it's His design. From sitting on the shore... all the way to the top of the mountains, sitting above the clouds, each sunrise and sunset is hand crafted and unique! Painters try and go out and make beautiful artworks of it, photographers like me try to freeze it in place, others just are content sitting and taking it in, but all are glorifying God through His creation.

And then of course having my family with me over the last few weeks after what seems like an eternity not being all together at once! Being able to glorify God together. That's overwhelming in and of itself. 

And that is just a few examples in the last couple weeks. I can't take enough pictures of God's extravagant artwork as I travel to new places. I'm enamored by the complexity of it all.

But even more than that, I'm overwhelmed by Jesus. Colorful sunsets and bright flowers show a little piece of God's love for us, but it is shown so infinitely more in sending His son, to live the life we needed to, and then to take the punishment we deserved, so that we might gain the life we can only imagine! Freedom. Mercy. Grace. Unfailing Love. All my sins and mistakes and failures and shame were taken onto the punishment of Jesus, for me, so that his blood might make me white as snow, and he sits at the right hand of God interceding for me daily! I saw a picture a week ago, you know one of those quote pictures that are meant to speak meaning into your life, and it said, "He keeps saying that he really loves her, but he keeps on hurting her." I don't know what the intent of the quote was, and probably everyone takes it as a wrong they've felt inflicted by or a love they felt they deserved and didn't get, but I will tell you, I was immediately humbled by the quote. How many times have I confessed that I love God and then went against him? How many days have I gone to church in the morning and then rebelled against him later that day in some way or another. Yet even while I didn't love him, he still loved me. Even when I mess up and hurt Him, or hurt another one of His children, He still loves me and immediately forgives me when I repent. Love like that is overwhelming. It can bring you to tears when you truly feel the weight of it, the freedom of it.

While I have been on these Love Song Couples Getaway trips, I have had the chance to experience some powerful worship moments every morning in spectacular, God-glorifying, scenery. One of the songs I have kept hearing over and over again has a line in it that struck me and is the spark that this post sprung from.
"Because on and on and on and on [Your love] goes. For it overwhelms and satisfies my soul. And I never, ever have to be afraid."

While you are reading this, take a moment to remember the God that loves you. That paints the sky for you to see. That would die for you, that you might have life. That satisfies your soul. Wherever you are, Whatever you are doing, just pause, and talk to God. Take a moment to commune with God. If you are at work and need silence, just sit at your chair right now and close your eyes and be overwhelmed by His love during your day. If you are able to sing, just play the rest of the song that quote is from and take a few personal moments to worship God on your own. It will be the most important thing you do today.

"Your love never fails! It never gives up! It never runs out on me!" You can't exhaust His love. He's not going to one day be like, "Oh sorry, that was the last chance". NO! It never gives up, It never runs out. I hope you had a chance and really took time to worship in your own way just then! I hope that it overwhelmed you!

I heard a great quote the other night that said, "Marking your bible is great, but lets not focus so much on marking your bible as you do letting your bible mark you!" Amen to that. I am so guilty, as I am sure most of you are, of going to church and hearing a sermon that would be great for someone you know. Or reading a Christian living book and underlining quotes that would be great for a spouse, or a significant other, or a friend, or an ex..., etc. My prayer is that you and I wouldn't just read books to gain info, that we wouldn't listen to sermons to pick out meaningful points that would apply to someone else, that we wouldn't read our bible underlining things that sound cool and uplifting, BUT that we would read books, listen to sermons, study our bibles to mark ourselves, to change our lives! Every week, Every day, Every hour. May we take moments to be overwhelmed by the love of God every day, every morning if possible. If you need to, go back even right now and take a break to worship God.

Take charge of your own heart, no one elses, and mark it with Gods love. Yearn to find something each new day to learn and apply to your life, to your part in relationships, to your part in your family, whatever community you find yourself in.

Lord, I pray for my heart and for all the hearts reading this that you would be glorified by all of our worship today. We thank you for your overwhelming love, and for the chance to worship you wherever we are. We pray that you would mark our hearts with more of your truth today that we might focus on something we are amiss on and hand it over to you so that your love can penetrate our lives in every way. That is the yearning of our hearts Father. In your powerful, extravagant, and overwhelming name, Jesus Christ,


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Love is NOT Popular

Immediately you are thinking I am a lunatic.  You are saying to yourself, "Love is the most popular thing in our culture Bozo!"  You would have a good point.  I mean, after all, what good movie doesn't have a love story? What song isn't about love? What major Disney movie isn't centered around some fantastical idea that love will save everything? A kiss for sleeping beauty.  An act of selflessness for Anna.  A deep longing for Cinderella to break free of her rags and find true love.  etc. etc. etc.  And there is good reason that love is seemingly so popular in the entertainment industry.  We all want to be loved.  We all want someone to think we are special, to spend time with us, to be there for us.  There is a hole in each one of our hearts that we look to be filled.  We get married to fill that hole hoping our significant other can make us feel like Jasmine and sweep us off around the world! We try to be popular, to say the right things, so that maybe, just maybe, we can feel love and accepted.  But can we be honest with ourselves for a second? That's not love.  That's jealousy.  That's fear.  That's pride.

God doesn't command us to be loved.  He already took care of that part! He commands US to love!  One of my favorite sections in the bible is 1 John 4:7-21.  It is all about what this love stuff truly means.  And in verse 11, John writes,

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

First off, we are beloved! BELOVED! The word for beloved in Greek is ’Αγαπητοί or Agapetoi which is a broad usage of the word Agapetos, an adjective meaning to be divinely loved.  You might remember it being used when the Spirit of God descends on Jesus getting baptized and a voice from heaven says "this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased".  John goes on to reference us as 'beloved' 6 times in 1 John.  Its as if he is hammering in a point.  You. Are. Loved.  In Romans 9, Paul references Hosea, and says a rather powerful statement.

"Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" "And in the very place where it was said to them 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'sons of the living God''

Again... You. Are. Loved. 

We don't need to be rescued from a tall tower, or go to the great ball, or have a thousand facebook friends, or have a girlfriend, or be liked.  God. so. loved. us.    ... love one another.  

People are gonna let you down.  It's the hardest truth to learn in this life.  That friend you have at school right now? He/She might decide to start spending time with some person who just moved into town and slowly leave you alone.  That boy/girlfriend you have that treats you so nice and makes you feel cherished? They might not want to be with you anymore.  They might lie and gossip about you.  You might not get invited to a hangout. You might. You might. You might. I am so sick and tired of mights.  You. Are. Loved.  

Everyone wants to believe in love - but when it comes down to actually loving people, love is not popular.  Serving someone's need without any expectation of return is not popular.  Bringing that really awkward guy into your circle of friends and making him feel cherished is not popular.  Making sure your wife has a closer relationship with the Lord than with you is not popular.  

We are creatures of flesh.  We claim to want to love but in our hearts we fight the giant of selfishness.  And then when we don't get what our selfish hearts want, we get depressed.  'woe is me'.   Nobody likes me.  Nobody wants me.  And we fall back into it again.  The fear of rejection.  The pride of entitlement.  The envy that's always wanting what all your facebook friends seem to be getting.  

How do we fight that? How do we not care what others are going to do to us or what this world is going to dish out at us, and instead love one another? We do it by continuously filling that hole with the truth of God's love.  

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:31-39

Nothing will separate us from the love of God.  May we remind ourselves of that every morning as we fight the motives of our flesh.  And may we began to truly love one another offering our service, our friendship, our selfless love, and our light of Christ.  Forget being popular, we are more than conquerors! We can overcome our tendencies because He overcame! We can love, because He loved.

There is freedom in that

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Love is waiting

This will just be a quick thought. But one that I hope you may be able to dwell on for a while.  I believe it is an integral part of the human condition, women more obvious so than men, that whenever someone is going to come over to your house, you clean that thing to a pulp.  Take my mom for instance.  When I was growing up, I remember some instances when one of her close friends was coming to visit.  The lawn had to be mowed, the bushes dusted, the wood oiled and waxed, the monster behind the toilet purified while wearing a hazmat suit.  That place couldn't have a carpet strand with a split end! And then when everything was just right, we would anxiously await our visitors.  ...Or what about a date with the guy/girl that you care about so much? Girls, you spend multiple hours in front of the sink getting all beautified.  And it's not to make him think you are beautiful, for I am sure he already thinks that you are a million times over, but rather you do it out of an act of love for him! 

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning,and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them." Luke 12:35-37

How often do we go through our days waiting like that? How often do we prepare our hearts and keep them ready?  Do we live out our days like the Master is coming home at any moment?  Not nearly enough!  May we be like the servant in this parable who was ready, who had his house cleaned, who had his fire burning, and was ready the instant the Master knocked.  And not to make him think we have it all together, that we are beautiful, that we are righteous, because He already thinks we are (2 Corinthians 5:21), but because we love Him, and we desire Him, and we need Him! We stay in communion with God, or rather Him with us, so that we might keep our lamp burning for when the Master comes home.  

But here is the thing.  Our Master isn't like other masters.   For our Master is most glorified when he can meet our needs and serve us.  There is nothing we can give to the Creator of everything except to find our utmost satisfaction in being in communion with Him.  So our Master becomes the servant, reclines us at the table, and serves us! I'm not making this stuff up guys. it is uncanny! That the God of the universe, created us, loved us, we turned away, he still loved us, he placed His righteousness on us, he serves us, he justifies us, he sanctifies us, ... and we just find our joy in the pure satisfaction that God is.  period.  That is the gospel.  

Blessed are those whom the Master finds awake when he knocks.  

Waiting! .....

Sunset boardwalk and marina, Bellingham, WA