Monday, February 28, 2011

Love is Breaking Through

"Through the fog there is hope in the distance. From cathedrals to third world missions, love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave!" Toby Mac - City on our Knees

Fog is an interesting thing. When I lived in Washington, we would have many a foggy mornings. My memorized sights and locations on the way to high school that I can see perfectly on any other day, would be completely washed out as i struggle to see whether or not the light in front of me was red or green. Traffic becomes a dangerous concern as car lights become a muffled mess reflecting every which way off the rain droplets in the mist. Even when turning on your car lights in hopes to break through the fog and see the path more clearly, you in fact make it harder to see. As your headlights become brighter, the cloud in front of you only becomes more visible. It was scary the first time I found that out, (along with the first time i found out to not shoot windshield fluid when it's 20 degrees outside). I have never seen fog in Arizona, the clouds just never seem to be able to get low enough. But yesterday, the clouds were lower than usual as a "snow" storm blew through. The clouds which completely fogged the Catalina Mountains eventually rolled away and revealed a majestic winter scene. The mountains are basically no longer white (the pains of living in Arizona) but yesterday was quite possibly one of the most beautiful instances I have seen here.

During winter break I was driving with Danielle and her friend Cheryl up to Cheney to see my buddy ol pal Brandon. It was a particularly sketchy day. Very foggy, snow everywhere, streets a little icy but very salted and graveled down. That was when I initially started thinking about this subject. Ironically enough, this song by Tobymac came on while I was thinking about it. It's such an amazing song. Anyway, the fog made it almost impossible to see anything, the trees we were driving by, the cars driving the other way. It's scary.

And yet so is life. Life is a fog! You can't see anything in front of you! Personally, I have no idea what lies ahead. Will I finish school? will I travel the world? will I get married? will i, will i, will i . . . It's impossible to know the future but I will just keep on driving because I know God sees all of time laid out before Him.

My favorite experience about fog is when it begins to lift. Slowly the sun begins to become a blurred light. Patches of blue light begin to appear. And finally the sun breaks through in a glorious appearance. It's just a matter of time. Our Son will show up and break through the fog and light up our path for a short time, directing each one of ours steps. He will lift the clouds, revealing majestic snow capped mountains. Hold strong through the fog, drive forward in anticipation of that light,

Love is breaking through!

Psalm 42 - As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is your God?” When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar. Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me— A prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love is The Forefront

"It's evident You run the show so let me back down, You take the leading role and I'll play the background" "I can play the background, Cuz I know sometimes I get in the way, So won't you take lead and I can play the background" - Lecrae

"We must war against the flesh, so that we don't place Christ on the back-burner for sin, aim to have a Spirit-like Mindset and glorify God in whatever you do/think!" Victor Yates

Lately things have been messed up. I'll be the first to attest to that. I feel like relationships that I've been holding so dear are being taken held hostage by the enemy. Whatever seems to be the case: lack of communication, jealousy, being wronged, lack of forgiveness, fear, gossip, all of the above - They are slowly and painfully deteriorating into apathy. But when it all comes down to it, it is too much selfishness mixed with a lack of grace and a lack of love.

Today, I saw the movie, "The Grace Card" and the message of the movie rocked me. So many times we build up these walls with people. "Oh, well I heard this story about him so we can't be friends", "Oh, that girl used to do that horrible thing, so I will constantly always have to judge her for that in my heart", "This person has hurt me too deeply to forgive them", or the most painful of them all, "Because of something that happened with this person, I am going to ignore, separate, and gossip about it until it blows over to the next thing". In the movie, much pain was had between two friends, especially with one of the friends families. All of the above walls were possible, but grace was ultimately chosen. Grace healed everything! So often I feel we are too quick to step back and judge then to step forward and offer a hand of grace; too quick to lash back in anger, in defense, in selfishness, then to lash back in love and in grace and in selflessness. I know all too often I see my heart lashing out in anger after being wronged and in jealousy when i see someone else being blessed. It's our apathetic tendency. But I say we strive more after a Godly tendency. As Mr. Yates said above, "aim to have a Spirit-like mindset and glorify God in whatever we do/think."

We can say we love our friends and our family and maybe even our enemies, but until our actions show it, I would disagree. Love needs to be the forefront of our lives. Do everything you can to not let apathy get in the way, to not let selfishness cloud your relationships, to not let sin destroy. Begin playing the background as God leads your life. Play the background in your relationships as you put others before you. It's a hard task, but a fulfilling one.

Give out the grace card

"I promise to pray for you everyday, ask your forgiveness, grant you the same, and be your friend always"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is Genuine

okay, I am going to read Romans 12:9-10 out of the message translation before I read it in actuality. I like the way this is worded. "Love from the center of who you are, don't fake it! Run for dear life from what is evil; Hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle"

Whether you are married, engaged, in a relationship, or for most of the people that probably read this, single, You can gleam incredible knowledge from this passage of scripture. The whole passage in the ESV reads as follows.

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."

If you weren't aware, today is valentines day. (If you have a special someone and you didn't know that, proceed to thinking of ideas of how to show them genuine love now) Valentines day is the day of love. Mostly a distorted love but a love nonetheless. This doesn't mean that we can't strive to treat this day with a true love. Remember first off, that God loves us! He already made the biggest love sacrifice 2000 years ago. He fulfills all of our longing for a significant other; He fulfills all of our passions and dreams. In Him is everything found. No other man or woman will ever provide that for you! He is the ultimate valentine no matter what your relationship status is.

ok, so now that the most important premise is set, how should we treat this valentines day amongst each other? Should we wait for all the wonderful candies and cards like we did in elementary school when all we wanted was a valentine card from a girl named Ilana? Or whatever your story was. Should we seek to bring glory to our selves in the way that we give? If we are single, should we condemn the holiday and keep living for ourselves like nothing else matters? Should we constantly be depressed that we have no one to spend it with? should we seek to have someone fulfill the wants and needs in our lives in a never ending longing and obsession for love? OF . . . COURSE. . . . NOT! In the verse above, the main point is to be unselfish, to be genuine, to out honor everyone else!

Love is not to be fake, or selfish, or self glorying, or depressed! Its to be completely content on God's love and then to display that love to those around you! It's about the smile you can put on their face! It's about the joy you can give to them! So on this Valentine's day, and really every day, just go display genuine love to people! Take this verse with you today. write it down, memorize as much as you can of it, think about what it means, overall just metaphorically chew on it wherever you go.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love is Trust Revisited

So I have been reading through the book of Psalms lately in my new commentary that I got for Christmas, and I have found something very interesting. If you don't mind, I am a stats major, so let me lay out some important stats for you. I have read through the first 37 psalms so far. As I keep track, a form of the word trust shows itself in 22 of those 37 psalms. It appears 31 times total during that span. And after a little research, I found that it appears almost 70 times in the whole book. And I am only counting when the trust refers to trusting in the Lord, not in man. Those are some crazy stats! David, who penned most of the psalms, was a man who constantly trusted in God. He was called "A man after God's own heart". Hence, the name I used on this blog because I want to seek after God's heart too. But what does that mean? Well for one thing it means you are constantly after God's heart in a situation, after His will, after what He wants for you, looking for His guidance, searching for His heart toward those around you. That takes a lot of trust on Him to come through and to fulfill His promises. When you are after His heart, you begin to lose sight of yours as inevitably your heart becomes His. This is a HUGE characteristic of love. So much though that I am visiting the topic for a second time.

My last post on trust, is all still relevant. All those situations are still laid before me and at sometimes I do get worried (or excited: sometimes its hard to know which it is). But this post is going to focus a lot less on situations and more on the love and the relationship. Yesterday at Cru at UA, we had our Love and Relationship talk. It will be online
at this link soon. But during the question panel, an obvious truth stuck out to me. They almost all talked about trust in their relationships and marriages. Afterall, why be in a relationship with someone you can't trust? When you fall in love with a person, it's not a feeling. Love is a choice based essentially on the trust you two share. Obviously there is a lot more that goes into that, but why build on anything where the foundation does not exist? That's just stupid house planning. And I'll admit, I have built some stupid houses in my day.

I used to have a hard time trusting anyone, let alone a girl. I guess I had just never seen or experienced relationships or marriages to last very long. I never grew up seeing love between husband and wife, only mother to son. Somehow that enveloped in my mind this last 21 years of my life and I never trusted in any relationship, I even had a hard time trusting in God. As hard as I tried, I always went in with a subconscious mindset that it wouldn't last and that I didn't want to get hurt, instead of how I should have, which would have been going in with a mindset that says, I am going to put my heart into this relationship in expectation it will last a very very long time. I can remember the main relationship I've had in my life. That was a train wreck for me. There was no foundation ever built on my end, nor was there any ounce of expectation on my part. I hardly knew what it meant to love, to trust, to care, to share, to dream, to grow, etc. etc. I can tell you first hand that it doesn't work! When you go into a relationship with no trust, you began to breakdown on essential issues such as agape love between one another and communication together. You began to care more about what you want and think than what they want or think, and that, my friends, is a recipe for disaster. You desperately need trust initially and forever more as the rest of the house begins to be built upon it. I'll even emphasize INITIALLY. You can't build a house and then go back and make the foundation. I can imagine that wouldn't work out to well.

All that to say, there is a more over-arcing love that is important to us. That would be our relationship and marriage with our Savior, our God! You may say that you love God, but do you trust Him? If you don't trust Him, how can you say that you love Him? And you can say you trust Him and brush it off, but do you actually show that you trust Him in your life? Everything I just said, has the same affect here. You need that foundation! You can't love him selfishly! and you can't go into a relationship with Him expecting blessings and a good life, without a foundation of trust. When you initially start a relationship with God (or more realistically, He starts a relationship with You) trust is the first thing. He promises that He has your best interests at heart, that He will give you a future and hope, that He died for you, that He is preparing a place for you in heaven. It is our part in the relationship to accept His gifts as we trust in Him. And at the same time, reciprocating as much trust as you can to Him, showing Him that you care more about the path He has for you, then the path you set out for yourself. That you care more about giving and receiving love with Him, then you do with anyone else or thing. This is the most important relationship in our lives! And all to often, it seems we care more about what we have right in front of us, then what we have for the rest of eternity.

Relationships can be messy. You don't need to tell me that. But whats most important is that if you figure out you haven't been trusting in your relationship with a girl/guy or with God, you can knock the house over Extreme Home Makeover style, and lay that foundation and start over with the building based on the right premise. There is overwhelming forgiveness with Your relationship with God. He could build the whole house for you if He so desired (He was a carpenter after all), but He lets us help build with Him because a relationship is so important. Love is ultimately a choice, and He designed it that way.

So I will trust in Him.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Love is Everything

"Following Christ has nothing to do with success as the world sees success. It has to do with love"
Madeleine L'Engle

When I look through the Bible, I see one common theme, Love. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, from creation to new creation, through all the ups and terrible downs lived in this world, love flows through them all. Sometimes it's harder to see then others; sometimes it looks like everything is falling apart and there is no evident love visible; and sometimes love is present abundantly, but I'm convinced love has always and will always be there to save, comfort, forgive, and give hope. So many times we lose sight of the love that was given to us. I know I do. I get so apathetic, distracted, and frustrated that I seem to begin not learning anything. And then I realize that I have forgotten about love, I go back to communion with my Lord, and my heart is completely changed. In this all-encompassing post, I am going to go through 3 basic points about how love is everything to us and should be everything from us.

God loved us!
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life"
John 3:16

This verse is the most popular verse in and out of Christianity and yet all too often it becomes skipped over. For God so loved the world, the sinners, You and me, everyone! That he gave his only Son. He separated Himself from His son as He took the sins of the world upon himself taking my death penalty that I deserved. THAT IS LOVE. I have to constantly come back to that because it is all too often to skip over that due to it's over use. But everything hinges on that act of love. Even now as I think about it, my mind is blown. I don't deserve that. I definitely don't comprehend it. All those stars in the sky: yeah, He created them out of His love for me to see His glory and majesty; All those microscopic molecules holding everything together, He created them out of His love for me to show me His power and perfection; All those laws He gave to govern were created out of His love for me to show me His grace and holiness; That one act of dying on the cross was for me to see His amazing love and forgiveness and for me to fall on my knees and worship Him for everything!

We love Him
"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment"
Mark 12:30

I touched on this a little in the last part because as I sat their looking at God's love for me, I couldn't contain bursting out my love for Him. And that's exactly as it should be. When you grasp that God loves you, you love God. David loved the Lord as he searched out for God in every moment. You can see it over and over throughout his psalms that he constantly searched and found God's love in everything and then reciprocally shouted out in love for God. This is the most important thing we can do! It is the first commandment for a reason because without a love for God, all other love becomes futile. It becomes an act of work. Without love for Him, everything we do is nothing, but with love for Him, everything we do seems like nothing in the scope of all He did for us.

We love others

"And the second, like it, is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, There is no other commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:31
"By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another"
John 13:35

As we live our lives, we are to take the love we are given and give it out. Love our neighbors, Love one another, Love our friends, Love our enemies. As 1 Corinthians 13 point out, everything we do should be out of love. Talking to friends or strangers about the gospel is to love them enough to want them to know the love we have. I heard this quote from my roommate that convicted me a lot: "When we die and become a part of Christ's Kingdom in Heaven, I don't think we're going to miss worldly obsessions like college football and video games and sex and money. I think we're going to feel the absence of those who we loved, just not enough to tell them about the truth of Jesus." We love because we want them to know the truth, because we don't want to feel their absence after this life. Every serving act of humility and anonymity, every word spoken in grace and truth, every rebuke given in caring, should be with this motivation, based off of our love for God, which is based off how much God loves us!

Let us realize God's infinite love for us, Let us glorify Him out of our thankful hearts that love Him, and let everything we do while on this earth be an act of loving Him and loving others.

Love is everything!