Monday, April 15, 2013

Learning How to Love

One of the beautiful things about life is the change we can know inside-out as we allow our outlook and actions to be bettered by what we experience. Someone said reality checks never bounce. I wish this were true for many; I believe when we fail to profit personally and love more fervently for the things we encounter in our lives, the reality checks of life do bounce.
Our relationships are the context in which we learn to love. Our friends provide us magnifying glass vision into the sinners we are, showing us how bent we are on ensuring things go our way. Later when we marry, our spouse gives us microscope vision into our tendency to return love rather than show it regardless. If that's not enough, with the coming of children we're provided electron level vision into our selfishness-our commitment to personal comfort.
With children comes to privilege to really engage our need to love as a matter of choice. My children are easy to help in some ways but difficult to nurture in others. They are a case study in love; it's easy to like them on the ways they enrich my life and frown on them for the inconvenience they often bring. I'm learning more that the thrill and tire of child rearing is GOD'S way of really training me how to love. My Blaise is quick to say thank you, you're welcome, give loving head leans and wet kisses. On the other hand, he hates to listen and is as stubborn as a mule-he will not be denied what he wants. He is such an opportunity for me to learn what love means. Love is a beautiful choice that looks beyond the seen, choosing someone-not just the the good they do. We choose to love others for their place as heirs of the image of the Eternal. My Coen has such a huge heart-he's always concerned that daddy's okay, not used or taken advantage of-he has no greater joy found than in hugging me and playing with me. Yet, he questions everything and can win every argument. He will not rest until he's proven his case. I've learned that the seeming stubborn bents of both of my boys are beautiful. They are God's preparation of them for the difficult days they'll encounter ahead. Their strong love and innate stubbornness will help them bide difficult people and desperate times. I can say that my opportunity to be woven into their lives has been a wonderful case study in what it means to love.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Traveler's Guidebook 2

Israel-Israel's leader Joshua- had done the unthinkable. Giddy from the splash of victory they'd experienced  ambushing Ai; Joshua fell for the Gibeonites' disguise and went into league with them. Israel would now serve the needs of the Gibeonites. Joshua's failure to tap God's guidance before making a monumental decision brought both baggage and setbacks in Israel's Canaanite conquest. You'd think this was the end of the story; but our failings are new beginnings in God's mind. For this horrible day of neglect was the backdrop for a day like no other in Israel. Disobedient Joshua would say, "Sun, stand still!"; Israel would wreak havoc on the enemies before them and in the countryside of Canaan. God, Himself would give a glimpse of future Revelation judgment, raining down big hailstones on Israel's foes as they fled by Beth-Horon. God prides Himself in His speciality. He sees us not for our failings but for who we are-family. As a good Father, He delights in giving us good for our evil. It brings Him no greater joy than to enlarge our lives with blessing, when we least deserve them. Know this, that though your choices matter to God; ultimately, you matter more to Him. You are His delight, for you've entered His family by trust in His Son. We're never truly worthy of the favor He shows.  Every good thing given from above is given in spite of us and not because of our good performance. Mercy is yours today as well. Don't focus on your personal unworthiness but rather His worth and His way with His children. Hallelujah! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Traveler's Guidebook 1

Traveling is challenging. It's hard to decide what to bring and what to leave. Baggage weighs you down as you travel just as leaving essentials  brings regret later. Israel had just conquered Ai after first losing 36 men battling Ai because Achan coveted. As they moved forward some men, who seemed from a far country met them and lured into agreeing not to hurt them, when Israel failed to seek God's counsel in the matter. Soon, Israel discovered they'd agreed to protect their neighbors, the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites proved to be added baggage for Israel as they traveled forward. When we neglect seeing and seeking God's face and channel His wisdom before making life decisions, we too will find our bags get heavier than they should be-we'll be weighed down as we travel. Israel would not only have to fight for the Gibeonites but they'd have the added burden of having the Gibeonites in house for years to come. Travel light today by tapping God's word for guidance and strength. Extra baggage does not make for carefree days.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A relationship like no other

God's raising Christ from the dead was His way of saying, "I am God and I approve and accept not only the sacrifice my Son gave in dying, but also all who trust Jesus' sacrifice alone as their only all-access pass into the family of God." I hope you've been adopted into the most wonderful family on earth, the family of God. Begin a relationship with God if you haven't-today!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Uncovering the heart behind Jefferson Bethke's controversial words

I'm so happy Jefferson Bethke has come clean, apologizing for his rap, which downed hypocrisy in religion. Because of my experiences with people steeped in tradition, defined more by their religious practice than their relationship with Christ; my initial response was Amen to his between-the-lines cry for real religion. I agree with what he sought to promote, a heart Christianity, which shows itself in a life of integrity. We need be careful to live by the religion of the heart, a growing relationship with Christ.
1. Our outward show of Christianity needs to be the kind that draws others to Christ, not ourselves. 
Christ performed miracles and received worship but lived to be in His Father's presence. His miracles were a mere medium to help others, not help himself to their praise and adulation. The moment we become so sold on our brand of Christianity that we exclude others, failing to live inclusively within the body of Christ, is the moment we placate others within the body, not winning the world by our love.
2.  Our purpose must be to bind the broken and guide the blind.
Christ priority was the real physical needs of people. Yes, men roamed without Shepherd; but His first concern was showing he cared. As His heart for them became evident, He felt permission to speak words of salvation to them. There were times when His way with people way outside this grid; for example, his dealings with the woman of Samaria, who he dealt with sarcastically before bringing her to the realization that her needs were met in Him. But Christ's way generally is caring words, helpful deeds, before transforming message. It's high time we take great care to spread love in and out of the household of faith, so they may know and experience Christ by our love.
3. We need to speak clearly especially when we cry against hypocrisy.
Christ was radical, calling out pretense in religion. Five of the six types of Pharisees were the false kind, who were privy to his words of judgment. Steeped in tradition, a far cry from the giving life, He lived by; Christ excoriated the Pharisees for their white-walled religion. He spoke lucidly decrying their practice of faith to the exclusion of possessing true faith. It was their show of God, without heart for God that compelled Him to cry against their virtueless religion. Jefferson's cry and the outcry of many against his plea for true Christianity reminded me much of the angst Christ encountered as He seemed to belittle the very religion the Pharisees practiced; Jefferson's heart is pure gold and his words have already  bettered our church's teens. Where Jefferson failed I believe is in his use of the word "religion." The more we decry  "religion" rather than promoting the worth of true religion: the more we'll turn the unreached against the idea of religion in any form, even heart religion, a real, transforming relationship with Christ that helps others in Christ's church and touches the broken in society at large. 
God heart is that we be clear LED light, which radiates through our planet with the life of Christ. To be a light to others is to expose their darkness too. God help us be clean as we live in true union with Him, manning Christ's mission well, not bringing offense to the cross by our conduct.

Tebow: Religious show or Da Truth

So much to muse on this week but the Tebow phenomenon is the topic of choice. Living in a world of self-made men, where God's name is given voice to appear humble when victorious; Tebow is a great cup of tea. With Tebow, God isn't a genie in a bottle or frosting on the cake-God is life and victory for him. Tebow has a deep realization that his time in preparation and prowess as a football player are just part of his fulfilling his life purpose. His life is for God's glory. Admittedly, his praise song singing and open prayer seem ostentatious and better done in private; but the truth is Tebow does those things for him, more than he does it for us. The praise songs lift and lighten his spirit; prayer clears his head. Many criticize his show of faith, but Tebow needs to do what helps him succeed. I think the reason his overt, righteous ways don't sit well with us has to do with the failures of many who have worn their religion on their sleeves. I believe Tebow's rise is not on accident. His Justin Bieber-like peak has placed God front and center-for all to see. The transforming impact faith can have is evident to all and more importantly, many are forced to consider just how different their lives could be for placing their faith in God's power. I thank God for the impact of Tebow's life, more than his show of faith. I understand that were he not willing to show his Christianity; God wouldn't be the talking point of the world right now.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Fear Factor

The images that rise when the phrase "fear God" is raised aren't the most accurate. The fear of God is actually the Christian's secret key to wise, fulfilled living. In Exodus 9:9-18, Moses knew the rich reality of what it meant to be in the very presence of God. He went eighty days needing neither food nor water on Mt. Horeb; God spoke to him there as man speaks with man-His revelation, The Ten Commandments. If Moses could comment on His time there with God. I believe He'd say that he felt at ease in God's presence but a little on edge for having tasted of the greatness and grandeur of God. To live in God's fear is to live awakened to the reality that this world is God's space, He sees all, knows all, and is never fooled. It's to live changed by our place in God's space. Our change begins with the revelation we receive for understanding His fear. The everywhere, at every time picture of God we glean leaves us transformed and transported into holy living. His fear makes for remedy it brings us clear vision, it's a place of provision. His fear also makes for rest, for with God on our heart's throne, our cares are as good as owned, we cast them on Him, He cares for us. No better place to live than in Godly fear.