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!!