Saturday, April 23, 2011

Love is Evident

 ITS EASTER WEEKEND. . . .surprise.

This is the most powerful holiday of remembrance in the history of holidays of remembrance, for on this weekend we see the greatest showing of love, and the greatest showing of power this world has ever seen. We see a dramatic death that brings life to all that choose, and we see a resurrected life that puts to death all the powers of evil. In a matter of three days, all of humanity was forever changed.

Leading up to the death of Jesus, we see a few powerful examples of God's love and forgiveness, we see some selfish and sinful acts from those around him, friends and strangers, and we see areas in our own lives that we might be living like one of the disciples, or maybe on the flip side, an area where we might be in a place where we can take comfort in knowing that God went through what we did, to an even greater degree. Jesus was completely rejected! He was separated from His Father, He was beaten and tortured, spat upon, mocked, taken advantage of, attacked. But this was only from strangers, from soldiers, from those He didn't spend countless days with. AND YET, He was also betrayed, denied, and ignored by His CLOSEST friends and disciples. Maybe you have felt rejected, ignored, attacked, mocked, or any of the other traits. Don't feel alone, but know that God was there with you to even greater degree. Take it from Him when He spoke the most powerful words as he hung upon that cross, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do". Remember that the greatest commandment is to love your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. TO LOVE. It's not right to be in those places, it most definitely isn't fair, but sometimes we are there nonetheless, and we must remember to love, to love as He did!

And maybe you have been on the other side, as I all too often find myself, ignoring God, fighting God, fighting those He loves, hurting others, letting fear of man control of me as it did to Peter, letting fear of comfort control you as it did to Judas, and every time turning your back on God, turning aside the want of others in replace of only what you want. Know this, as I so often remind myself, God died for you. He forgave you on the cross. He took your faults, your screw-ups, your pride, your failures, and He took them upon Himself and in exchange, gave you His righteousness. It is the most powerful expression of love EVER. and all I have to do is see what He did, accept it, repent, and follow after Him. He bridged the canyon for me and for you.

But it doesn't end there! Jesus rose again. Tomorrow we celebrate Resurrection day, more popularly known as Easter. The day that life conquered death, that sin lost it's power, and that God became victorious since forever and until forever. We now not only have an unconditional love, but a hope of one day returning to heaven to glorify the Savior and perfecter of our faith. Man, if that doesn't get you going, I don't know what will!

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:10-12

This is a holiday weekend of an evident love! A love that unconditionally was poured out for everyone. A love that forgives despite the circumstances. A love that reconciles and brings together those that were once separated. 

If you have 10 minutes, check out this sweet video! THE GOSPEL

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Love is Not Always Given

I decided to cut the road trip story short. Not much happened the rest of the trip except countless hours of driving, a sketchy hotel in Colorado, and the Arches National Park. Now I could probably pull some abstract idea of what there was to learn from a giant arch looming over us, and I could probably write a funny story of all that happened during the boring drive home, and to be honest, I had already done that and was ready to write that part of the trip, but I decided this is an exponentially more applicable topic right now, especially in my own heart.

What do you do when someone wrongs you? or even worse, what so you do when you wrong someone else? Or maybe a mixture of the two? We all make stupid choices in the life, in the words we speak, in the actions we live out. People will make stupid, unwise, painful choices to you that will either directly or inadvertently hurt you, just as at some point, you will do the same thing back to people. It's a universal struggle to make right choices ALL the time. When things begin to turn sour, it starts to get very hard and you are confronted with many other challenges. Is it right to point out when someone wrongs you, even if they didn't intend it that way or didn't realize it? What is someone comes to you with a list of wrongs, maybe even a list that you don't agree was wrong? Is it alright to talk to others about struggles you are having with others? and if you do, what light should you shed on it, Reality? Humility (only your wrongs)? Pride (only their wrongs)? And most importantly, how are these situations resolved? These are all tough questions and even tougher to put to action. We all too often place selfishness in front of humility, anger in front of forgiveness, pride in front of God.

I've noticed lately that a lot of people, including me, do not know the answers to these questions, or don't see how to take action. When someone wrongs us, we all too often lose sight of the blood of Jesus Christ. That person attacked me, they hurt me, they made me lose some of my blood! YEAH BUT, you have attacked Jesus, you have hurt Him, You made Him lose His blood. Every time I do something wrong, either to someone else or to myself, I am sinning against God as well. And YET, God - forgave - us. While we were yet sinning, while we didn't think we needed forgiveness, He forgave me of all my sins. FORGIVENESS is the answer. I heard a song a few days back and last night I played it all night as I was sleeping, hoping it would be beaten into my brain while I slept. These are the lyrics to the chorus:

Seven times Seventy times
I'll do what it takes to make it right
I thought the pain was here to stay
But forgiveness made a way
Seven times Seventy times
There's healing in the air tonight
I'm reaching up to pull it down
Gonna wrap it all around

This is a call to step up! To everyone! Whether you are a freshmen in high school, a staff for some organization, or Billy Graham, you are not above humility and forgiveness. You don't out grow you're need to be humble and forgive. We all need to step up. What is it about ourselves that we let pride get in the way all too often? I know there is nothing in myself that I can see that warrants the all too frequent pride I let get in the way. I am nothing. Maybe the more we see that, the easier it would be to talk to each other, to forgive one another, to admit wrongs to one another. All too often I see a shallowness in many of the friendships I see. I walk around campus, I look at my friendships, I look at what's missing, and I see no depth. And there is no depth because there is no forgiveness. Forgiveness overcomes pride, which in turns leads to trust, which in turns leads to depth and ultimately closer relationships, relationships that are enticing to those that see them, that draw others in, not push them out.

If you are having trouble forgiving someone, try seeing it from their perspective. I know all too often, all I recognize is what I saw or felt or the reason why that hurt me. I fail to recognize what they saw or felt or the personal reason to why it hurt them. or if that doesn't work, try seeing it from God's perspective. That's a for sure winning tactic.

So will you step up with me? Will you answer this call? We all need to. All too often when Love is not given, we decide to not give love in return. I say, when love is not always given, to give it back anyway.

There is never a time love shouldn't be given

Monday, April 4, 2011

Love is Selfless

Part 3 - Day 4 - Utah Spring Break Trip - Bryce Canyon

That night we were surprised yet again by our living arrangements. We had stayed in Zion Canyon for an expanded amount of time not looking forward to having to go to a boring cabin to sleep. But when we got there, our minds were blown. This RESORT had a mini golf, a pool, a tennis court, horse riding, a rec barn with tv and rock climbing and table tennis. Now unfortunately we couldn't do hardly any of it. The golf was closed, the pool was frozen over the night before, the tennis courts had snow drifts on them, and the rock climbing was unmanned. But nonetheless, we had a blast. Our "Cowboy Cabin" had a king sized bunk bed and a pull out couch bed. We were in heaven, or at least it looked that way with snow covered hills and canyons laid out in front of us and ponderosa pines engulfing our cabin. I was almost always the first one up and this day was no different. I made sure I woke up extremely early so I could explore and walk and read and write. The sunrise that morning was magnificent as the light reflected off the patches of snow. I walked around the entire resort listening to a podcast by Aaron Stern about the prodigal son and the reckless love of the father. The point of the podcast was, instead of figuring out which son you most identify with, to focus more on practicing the same love the father showed to both sons.

I mentioned it before, but for the first part of this trip I wasn't exactly being very selfless. I was getting annoyed and jealous and probably a little bitter for a span, especially on Zion day when a part of our company were constantly complaining and making opinionated comments about what was good and what was bad (and most of my likes fell in the bad). It definitely took a morning with God to reflect on my attitude. Have you ever found that when you pray, especially for the person you might feel angry at, that you begin to lose that anger? It works! It changes your heart completely! I determined the rest of the trip I would deliberately focus on being selfless, even if that meant being forgotten or put down. I didn't deserve anything I was getting angry about anyway. Afterall, as I talked about in the Grand Canyon post, God has already built a bridge for us all.

Bryce Canyon was stunning. It is at a higher elevation so there was a lot more snow that we had to trudge through. We ended up doing a short hike to the bottom of the canyon and back to the top. The soil was completely saturated and thus very muddy. At one point there was even a mini mud slide. But it was rigorous and adventurous and picturesque.

A lot of the time, I think I mix up selflessness with ignorance or apathy. Instead of purposely serving others, I end up just staying quiet and ignoring my wants and letting the group decide what they want to do. By being selfless, I withdraw. It might not exactly be the best way to go about it . . . . But things were a lot better that day. It might just be a new heart perspective or the fact that there were a whole lot less disagreements now that there were less people arguing over a bed, over where they were sitting, over what music was being played.

God is the essence of a selfless love. Intentionally giving up His Son who was beaten and bruised and then hung on a cross for a selfish people. He forgives before, during, and after all of our wrong choices. He set the example that I can only attempt to follow. He showed us how to die to ourselves even when someone wrongs us.