Saturday, March 30, 2013

No Easter Discount

Do you have some thoughts about Easter?  Let me ask you a question:

When Jesus was on the cross, where were you? 

If we think of Jesus as going to the cross by Himself, we have a discounted Easter.  It’s no bargain.  We don’t have everything, and we need to.

While enduring the awful human torment of carrying a shameful cross through the streets of Jerusalem and out to Calvary on the edge of the city, Jesus—God Himself—knew what was before Him.  Through the pain, He was overjoyed!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:2, italics mine.)

Seemingly all alone in His tortured trek through town and the many people lining the streets, Jesus held a fantastic secret:  He was taking them with Him.  They thought they were onlookers to a tragedy; He knew they were participants, not just in the cause, but in the act.

An incredible, miraculous, retroactive and future fact of Easter is that Jesus’ faithfulness to the cross was the initial act of bringing to an end one creation—darkened, stumbling, sin frustrated mankind—and of making another—a glory-sharing, innocent and holy new race.  That was His joy, and now it’s ours!

On the cross and knowing what was coming in three days, Jesus reached for you in the crowd—the crowd in the past, the crowd right in front of Him, and the crowd in the future—and accomplished God’s timeless desire; union with His people.  He didn’t simply hold you close; He brought you in.  Jesus removed what hindered us and brought us into Himself, where there can be no distance, no transgression and no fault, making us safe and secure with Him, who loves us perfectly.

Romans 6:6  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—

Ephesians 2:6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

When Jesus rose and fairly strutted out of the tomb, as I picture it, He was full and full of joy!  We were in Him, and He was joyously satisfied, just as He planned.

Happy Easter!

(See Romans 6:1-7; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:6-7)

No Easter Discount

When Jesus died on the cross and rose again three days later, where were you?  The answer to this is an invaluable aspect of God’s plan to make you a perfect fit with Himself.  Have a look at this 4 minute video, and see if the death and resurrection of Jesus isn’t worth at least a little leap or shout for joy.  Maybe even a big one.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Receiver of Love

God is love, and genuine love comes from Him.  Relationship with God is the only relationship that can produce authentic love.  That’s why we become so attracted and devoted to Him—we do it for love!  No matter how good any other relationship is, it cannot produce God’s love—it can only be a receiver of it. 
It seems like that might be a plan, right?  I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow.

Words Count

Some people take the words of Jesus and Paul and James and Peter, et al, and use them as bricks and whips to bruise, cut and prosecute, while others make them into pillowy platitudes and positive pleasantries, stripped of meaning, power and effect. Their words (and ours) are not letter only, which profits little, but Spirit, which brings life. With that in mind, use them carefully.

2 Corinthians 3:6 “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What To Do?

"Suppose for a moment that in a flash of insight you discovered that all your motives for ministry were essentially ego-centric, or suppose that last night you got drunk and committed adultery, or suppose that you failed to respond to a cry for help and the person committed suicide. What would you do?"

"Would guilt, self-condemnation, and self-hatred consume you, or would you jump into the water and swim a hundred yards at breakneck speed toward Jesus? Haunted by feelings of unworthiness, would you allow the darkness to overcome you, or would you let Jesus be who he is—a Savior of boundless compassion and infinite patience, a Lover who keeps no score of wrongs?"

~Brennan Manning

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Jesus' Success Is Mine

God remembers my track record no more. While the world obsesses upon how I’m doing and how I’ve done, He doesn't ever point to it and say, "See?! This is why you're such a success. Pat yourself on the back!” or “This is why you’re such a mess. Pull it together, man!" Instead, He points to Jesus and says, "I've given you His record, and it is perfect. His success is yours. Get used to that. It will change your life."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

If God Is Moody, You're In Trouble

Is God moody? Can you put Him in a generous mood or make Him stingy? Can you do something to move Him close, or something to move Him away? Can you do something to get into His presence, or do something to get out of it? Is He fickle? Does He leave you?

The Christians at Corinth wondered about those things and they had good reason. Their behavior was awful—headline news. Epic. While Corinth was well known as a city where people took cruel advantage of each other, non-Christians were especially repulsed by the behavior of some who called themselves believers. Many in the church there knew they were a mess, so it caused them a lot of stress concerning the security of their relationship with God. The Christians at Corinth had to have been worry-warts.

Naturally, they were aware that their spiritual daddy, the apostle Paul, knew all about their sloppiness and their ugly failures, and they were afraid that he wouldn’t come to be with them because they were so often so bad. “Will Paul,” they might have asked, “who loves us so deeply, draw away from us to punish us, or as a way of teaching us a lesson? Will he go somewhere else, to people who are better than us? Why would he want to come here?”

Knowing their fears, Paul wrote a second letter to the worried Corinthians, and said essentially this:

“Are you kidding? I brag about you! Every time I think of you, even just a little bit, God fills me with love for you! How can I help but want to be with you in the same way that He does? I’m crazy about you! Did I not make that clear by my first letter? I know it’s been awhile since I’ve visited—it simply hasn’t been the right time. But my heart for you is exactly like God’s heart—everything is ‘Yes!’ Yes, I will never leave you. Yes, I have given you all things. Yes, I have secured you in Christ for always. And, Yes, my love and grace for you is unchanged—it is and will always be “Yes!” Can I get a Corinthian ‘Amen’?” (2 Cor 1:12-2:11)

Paul did what so many of you do: he answered their questions and vanquished their fears by telling them about God’s love in him for them.

The Corinthian Christians were the perfect people by which to make the point: no matter how things look, no matter how WE look, God’s affection and grace are never at risk, never threatened. In fact, they are even more in view. That’s the perfect relationship God has given to us already. You don’t have to go get it, you don’t have to earn it, you don’t have to work on it. It has been given to you. It’s His gift—yours to enjoy.

God has plenty of motivation to be with us and to do for us; He doesn’t need more. He doesn’t run out of motivation or have a shortage one day, and He doesn’t need convincing. You’ll never need to woo God, and you’ll never need to do anything right in order to attract Him to you. There’s no class on successful flirting with God! He’s the One who loves and behaves perfectly—remember? Believing that slips away sometimes, I know, but that’s the gospel that the devil keeps trying to move you and me away from. So if you’ve wandered, as I sometimes do, wander back.

You and God are tight and secure. You’re together! He made it happen. And He will never be moody with you. He’s not like that. I can tell you.

(This is taken from yesterday’s video, “If God Is Moody, You’re In Trouble,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. If you’d like to see the video simply scroll down, and/or to subscribe to them, click

Friday, March 22, 2013

If God Is Moody, You're In Trouble

Many of us are worried about life because we think that God determines His behavior always upon ours; like He’s making this all up as we go along, or as if we are leading, and He is following.  Watch this 4.5 minute video to see if your worries are valid. . .or not. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Fight Worth Having

Do you like arguments?  You know, a discussion seasoned with some passion?  There’s an important one going on right now about what Jesus did for us all at the cross.  That’s important, and I’ve been a part of it at times.  And I will be.  But I want to say that the risk, and maybe the cost of prosecuting our particular side of the argument is often that we lose the wonder of knowing Jesus Himself; you know, Christ in you.  Him.

In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul writes that the primary battle—the big fight!—for the Christian, is this:  demolish, wipe out, fight off, throw away ANYTHING that threatens you from knowing God.  That is the prize that is threatened by other “stuff” or arguments.  Demolish them!

This doesn’t mean, “Trash your television!  Don’t watch March Madness or Downton Abbey or American Idol.”  It doesn’t mean, “Throw away your iPhone or Samsung.”  It doesn’t mean, “Stop talking about ‘Big Oil’ or ‘Big Government.’”  Neither does it mean, “Come to a conclusion right now!  Choose a team and fight concerning exactly what Jesus did at the cross.  WE MUST WIN THE ARGUMENT NOW!  Prosecute with us!” 

For you and for me, it means, “Don’t get lost!  Don’t get so caught up in debate, even over important things (maybe especially over important things), that knowing and enjoying Jesus in you, with you and for you, becomes and remains less of an anticipated thrill and solution and hope and joy than those other things.” 

We write and talk about the gospel, which is the very power of God, not simply so people can be smarter and well armed in a debate.  We, who love the gospel, offer it to people because it enables and promotes in them what it does in us:  the knowing and the loving of God Himself.  That’s the prize.

Some of the arguments we’re having go toward knowing Jesus.  I know.  That’s good!  But there are an awful lot where that’s lost.  So in your mind, in your writing and conversation, be careful to hold to the prize, to the real treasure above all treasure:  knowing Jesus in you and with you and for you. 

This is the God we get to know, the mystery hidden from the ages, but now revealed to us and received by us.  Christ in you means life for the first time; what He does and how He is from there (in you) reveals and directs life.  That’s the prize and that’s where the wonder is!  Right?  You should have it.  Fight for it.  It’s worth it.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “A Fight Worth Having,” and is for those who’d rather read than watch. . .or maybe you’d like both.  If you’d like to see the video, simply scroll down, or click

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Fight Worth Having

Have you been in some verbal scraps about the Bible?  Have you ever fought or witnessed a fight about God, and felt like you got beaten up?  Take four minutes, and see what you think.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stupid Days Stuck In-Between

Do you ever feel like you’re caught between what you want to do and what you have to do instead? Do you ever struggle between some kinds of business principles or workplace rules and those of the Kingdom? And does it ever get so frustrating that you have a blow up or a break down? You know, really lose it?

I simply thought from Jesus this morning that He knows we’re prone to frustration and anxiety and outbursts of temper: “I can’t handle this!” And He has not one iota of condemnation for us—not one. I think He wants you to know that.

You and I are living life caught between two worlds—the temporal and the eternal. The one we can see, and the one we can’t. The one that passes away, and the one that lasts forever. Just as the world in which we fit and belong begins to get into focus—“I can see it! I can taste it!”—the other one comes barging in. I can be enjoying the day, knowing Jesus and trusting in Him, when suddenly something worldly knocks me over. . .or knocks me mad or regretful. I remember a bill I forgot to pay (and now, because of the interest added, I don’t have enough to pay it), I get a phone call from my daughter, telling me I forgot to pick her up at school. (Great! Don’t I care?!), or my health shows signs of getting bad, and I’m uncomfortable about how the future looks. And then some clown in the parking lot cuts me off, and one of those, “I’m saving the planet” electric cars silently (and arrogantly, I’m sure) zooms into my parking space before I can. And, I can tell you, it all starts adding up and boiling over.

It’s like I’m happily flirting with spiritual maturity, and then it rudely breaks up with me. “Not happening, baby breath! Change your diaper!” I don’t like it at all.

Or maybe I read someone’s facebook post that’s supposed to encourage me, but it’s got so much, you know, over-the-top, “everything and everyone is beautiful, life is good, butterflies for everyone!” junk that I want to throw up on their post.

But the truth is that I’m no less of an attractive target for the life and love and grace of God Himself than I was yesterday. Maybe I’m a bigger target. “Hooray for me!” I can imagine my picture on a big billboard alongside the freeway with the title: “God’s most needy!” Frankly, we’re all in competition for that title; I just think I’m winning.

I know that none of us really wants to be the most needy place for God’s work today. But, if it’s true, He doesn’t mind! He doesn’t have something better to do. When you consider how He moved to get to the most needy during His days among us, do you think He’ll stop before getting to you, repulsed by your neediness? No way. He’s really good with that.

And He doesn’t have far to go in order to get to you, right?

Romans 5:5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Where’s the glory or evidence of God going to show up best? In me! In you!) 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Parenthesis mine.)

So, if you’re having one of those sloppy, stuck-in-between days, take a moment to breathe. There is such purpose to this life, and through it all, God holds us securely in Christ, holy and righteous, priests of the earth.

While this life is a mess, the next one won’t be. But in the next one there won’t be any chance to live by faith in what we cannot see, no opportunity to grow and succeed in the battle against temptation, no one to lead to Jesus, no friend we need to pray for, no groceries to buy for a down-and-outer, and no forgetfulness that means we need to apologize to our daughter. Nothing will be in-between anymore. Everything will be exactly—no, way beyond exactly—as our hearts long for it to be.

That will be such a good day! Just not today.

(By the way, this is a transcript of yesterday's video, "Stupid Days Stuck In-Between," and is for those who would rather read than watch.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stupid Days Stuck In-Between

This little video is for the frustrated and ready-to-pop, “Why can’t this stupid life work the way it’s supposed to work?!” among us.  You know, people like me, and maybe like you.  Have fun watching.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Alongside many happy (wannabe) Irish men and women, today I will celebrate my Scottish lineage by toasting Saint Patrick, a Scottish boy kidnapped and stolen away to Ireland, who escaped only to return years later armed with a heart full of the gospel of God’s grace to us in Christ. To the Irish and to all, “Sláinte mhaith!”

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Small Bladder Syndrome

If my wife and I had gone to Rome early this week to see who the new Pope would be, this would have happened. We didn't go.

The Benefits of Being A Mess With God

Have you ever gotten mad at God? You know, really given Him a chewing-out, went lunatic on Him because, well, He deserved it? I have.

Those who have gotten angry at God and expressed it—however sloppily, because it’s never neat and tidy when you’re telling God how He’s messed up your life, right?—well, you discovered something afterward, something odd and unexpected: you felt better. Not immediately. There was a cooling down and a coming to your senses first, and maybe some embarrassment. After all, “I just chewed-out God!” But you began to feel better, at peace, even loved by God all over again, with nothing wrong between the two of you. Strange, wasn’t it?

Why did you feel better? It’s not because, phew! You finally got that off your chest and emptied out your bag of fury. That’s not why. You felt better because you gave your attention to God, you directed yourself and what you were experiencing—as ugly and unrefined as it was—to God who lives in you. And God produced in you what He is like with you. Even if you didn’t think, “Hmm. Christ is in me. I ought to have a talk with Him,” He knows where He is, and He behaves Himself from there.

You accidentally approached God like a crazy, out-of-control lunatic. And God did what He always does with crazy people who come to Him—He cared for you, He calmed and loved you, without even a hint that He was bothered with you, or that He expected more of His little lunatic. Did you notice? Jesus shepherded you from the inside. See? He really thinks that when you received Him, you received Him. He moved in! Had a heavenly party and everything. He’s home in you, and He’s making it obvious. Right?

This describes what the New Testament calls, “offering yourself to God,” or “sowing to the Spirit,” with the foundation that God now lives in you. The offering or the sowing to God is not to “God out there,” or to “God who will meet me over there”, when I finally make it, or when I finally arrive. No. Your offering is to “God in here” now, to “God who has arrived in you.” This is the gospel. Even if you don’t know that God was actually serious about making new dwellings for Himself, a whole new way of housing, He’s carrying on from where He is right now. And you noticed. You felt Him, you felt better because He got to work—He got to work you.

The old way of offering yourself to God, the old covenant way, was to think of yourself as separate from God, who would lead you because He was “ahead of you” or “over there,” and calling you to come with Him. The pressure was on you to follow, and to keep following. The new covenant way of offering your self to God, is to believe what God knows to be true for all who have received Him: “Jesus, you and I are together now; you’re in me. I don’t have to look for you over there, or just up ahead, because now you’re in here all the time. . .being yourself with me. You and I are at home together. What an amazing place to have and to find you.”

Do you see the difference? God is not “over there,” watching, evaluating, and hoping you do well. He is in you, happy and content with His new surroundings, able to do anything and everything that confronts Him in and the arena the two of you share.

This all means that you’re free to explore the goodness and ability of Jesus for you in the same way as when He walked among us—however you look, whatever you do, whatever you feel, however it comes out—like when you’re a crazy, mad man. . .like the ones He loved and set free at Gadarenes; or like when you’re plagued by powerful longings and lust and fall to it, perhaps again and again. . .and are loved and forgiven by Jesus, just like the woman at the Mount of Olives; or like when you deny Jesus over and over because it seems, well, useful in the moment. . .like it did to Peter long ago, whom Jesus sought out and loved, like he (and you) hadn’t done anything offensive.

That’s our Jesus. And He is in you, perfect with you, no matter what.

Christ in you is your hope. Finding Him at home with you is the best of life. I’ll bet you’ve found or felt Him there already. So don’t be afraid to look for Him at even the worst moments, the ugliest and most “un-Christianly.” He’s pretty good with lunatics. Right?

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “The Benefits of Being A Mess With God,” and is for those who would rather read than watch.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Benefits of Being A Mess With God

Does your “Inner Crazy Person” drive you, well, crazy?  What do you suppose God thinks and would like to do about it?  Here’s an important video that deals specifically with that.  I think you’ll get a lot out of it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What's The Difference Between Diagnosis & Remedy, Law & Jesus?

What’s the difference between diagnosis and remedy?  You have some experience with that, right?

For a long time, the Law of God proved the diagnosis that man was heart-sick and could not heal himself.  It was Diagnosis, not Remedy.  The Law was perfect in proving man’s need for life—Jesus—on the inside.  He is The Remedy. 

Those who have Remedy (and are forever free of Diagnosis) may, nevertheless, become entranced and entangled by Diagnosis.  You know how that goes—they get beat up—because the only true way to life—God’s life—is through Remedy and what He gives by grace and for free.  Diagnosis is merciless.  Have you ever been examined and beaten up by it?  I bet you have.  In the same way that you cannot live just by knowing what’s wrong with you, Diagnosis is worthless, except it points to Remedy.  The only thing Diagnosis has ever done well is to be the set-up for Remedy.  Remedy ends Diagnosis.

If Diagnosis has been busily proving failure and sickness to you, be done with it.  It’s not for you, and it won’t help.  You know who The Remedy is—it’s Him you want.  Tell Him.  Talk with Remedy.  He is the life for you and your heart.  He has everything you need for free—and He makes fantastic house calls. 

(Romans 7:4-25; 8:1-4; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 15:56; 2 Corinthians 3:6-8; Galatians 3:23-25; 5:1-25)

(This is based upon yesterday’s video, “What’s The Difference Between Diagnosis & Remedy, Law & Jesus?” and is for those who would rather read than watch.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What's The Difference Between Diagnosis & Remedy, Law & Jesus?

Have you ever tried to live just by knowing what’s wrong with you? You can’t live by Diagnosis—it’s merciless—but you can with Remedy. Take 2 minutes and see what you think.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Knowing God’s Voice & Thoughts

Do you wonder if you’re hearing right?  Is there anything that will truly help you to hear and know God’s voice and thoughts?  Take 3 minutes and see what you think.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Topping God

The good news, the great stuff about you and God is this: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

If you believe that by bringing your sins before God you’ll get Him to pay great attention to them, think again. He already did. And He’s pretty satisfied and rather happy with what He has done about sin. You can’t top it.

If you believe that behaving perfectly—with really great commitment—will earn favor with God that would otherwise be threatened, think again. He has given full favor already in Christ. Attaining to some measure of “sold out-ishness for God” won’t add anything to the everything He’s already given. Jesus did it all, and He’s all you need. You can’t top it.

You’ve got Him? You’ve got everything. You don’t need to look anywhere else.

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

(This is a transcript of today’s video, “Topping God,” and is for those who would rather read than watch.)

Topping God

Do you need to motivate God or does He have enough already?  Do you need to be “sold out” and “radically committed” so God will bless you?  Take 1:47 and see what you think.  (Romans 4:25)

Friday, March 08, 2013

God Is Lousy At Math

If my daughter’s school requirements are any indication, then it has to be said that God is lousy at mathematics.  He’s simply terrible at counting anybody’s sins, even if they’re particularly good at sin counting for themselves.  And if anybody could do it, He should be able, don’t you think?  With the knowledge and historical records that He has, He could easily be a math genius and blow us all away. 

Nevertheless, whenever anyone recounts their sin while speaking with God, not only does He pay no attention to the records (at least not to yours or mine), He seems convinced that we didn’t do it.  While looking at us, He appears always to have Jesus’ record in mind, and He keeps assigning to us the same sin number:  Zero.  I think it’s His favorite number.

My point?  Don’t bother asking Jesus for help with your math homework. 

(2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Hebrews 10:17-18; John 3:17)

(This is a transcript of yesterday's video, “God Is Lousy At Math.” It's for those who might rather read than watch.)

Thursday, March 07, 2013

God Is Lousy At Math

Have you ever wondered how God would do in math class?  In less than two minutes, I think this will help you figure out the answer.

(2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Hebrews 10:17-18; John 3:17)

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Throwing Out Pharisees

How much do you like failure? I can almost hear your answer: “Gosh, Ralph, I’ve been waiting for you to ask! I love failure!” Okay, but where do you experience it most?

When we tell Christians (or anyone, for that matter) how they should behave according to a standard, even a good one, we’ve set them up for failure. We might as well tell them to obey the Law as a means of enjoying the Christian life. Won’t that be fun? No, that’s crazy! They don’t go together.

Life by standards or rules, especially relationships and particularly married life, makes vigilant Pharisees out of us. It can’t help it. Not only must I scrutinize my every move, but I will also become hawkish about my wife. . .and everyone else. That does not make for a trusting and loving relationship. Where there should be a natural flow for us, a moving together, there’s examination, evaluation and distance.

Worse, we will miss the awe and thrill that comes from discovering that Jesus is actually in us, and that He is perfect for us and for our wife or husband, and for every relationship. Usually, we won’t be particularly thrilled with God—not God in us, not really—and He loves to do in us what He is like, making us aware of how fit and compatible we are with Him.

If we are going to live by the Holy Spirit (and, it seems to me, that is the way for a new creation), then we’ll need to think of love more as a person—Jesus—and less as a behavior. Otherwise, love easily becomes an imitation, a copycat, rather than the genuine article—the real deal—alive in us.

You don’t want the look of love for people, the skinny façade of the Pharisee. It’s a fake, and you’re not set up for that. It won’t work for you. It’s Jesus you want, and the way that He is with you and the way that He is with others. For all who receive Jesus, you’ve done exactly that—He is the gift, the inside gift. Think of the hope you have—He is Jesus.

(This is a transcript of yesterday's video, “Throwing Out Pharisees.” It's for those who might rather read than watch.)

Monday, March 04, 2013

Ralph's Videos

To quickly access and watch the short videos I began posting a few weeks ago, you may go to my YouTube channel and subscribe (, or you may “Like” my ministry Facebook page (, which will alert you to every new post and is a concentrated version of what you find here (no comics, no jokes, etc.).

Throwing Out Pharisees

Did Jesus get along well with the Pharisees?  How does He treat the Pharisee sometimes found in us?  While merciful, He likes helping us throw out the Pharisee--especially in relationships. He is determined that we should have the joy of His life for ourselves and for others.

Here’s a quick, 3 minute, Monday afternoon flick that will help you have and enjoy genuine love—the real deal—rather than the fake, put-on love of a Pharisee.

Quiet God?

Do you wonder how to get God to be quiet? Try re-hashing your sins with Him, who remembers them no more. (Hebrews 10:16-18)

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Fear Of The Jalapeno

At breakfast with my youngest daughter yesterday, I realized that Jalapeños frighten me—always have.  I confess that here.  Sometimes it's like there's an angry army in the eggs I'm served, or an unruly mob of them in otherwise innocent grits. I'm really okay with a relatively smallish band of brother jalapeños in dishes. It's just that sometimes they horde together, overwhelming the host, and then their only purpose is to burn everything everywhere.

As a small group, jalapeños think of adding warmth and character to their host--they understand their place. Nobody throws a fiesta like they do.  But as they grow in number, their natural heat incites their neighbor, and, now crowded together, it is only a matter of time before they become uncomfortable, bitter and enraged. And then Jose Jalapeño hurls his sombrero skyward and shouts, "Vamos, mis amigos! Aprovechar el dia! Ahora es nuestro momento para descartar los huevos tristes y sin sabor! Quemar todo!"  At that point, all is lost.

(Translation:  “Let’s go, my friends!  Seize the day!  Now is our time to rule the sad and flavorless eggs!  Burn everything!”)

By the way, before “Carpe diem” was brought into vogue by the movie, “Dead Poets Society,” “Aprovechar el dia!” was the cool thing to say.  Those of us among the west coast intelligentsia during high school used to measure ourselves based upon how skillfully we inserted the phrase into conversation.  For example, a friend might ask, “Do you think we dare go to Del Taco at lunch?”  Speaking the phrase at that moment would have been unforgivable.  However, if a friend asked, “Do you want to take out the furniture from a classroom tonight and re-arrange it on the sloping roof so everyone will see it in the morning?” THAT would be the moment.  “Aprovechar el dia!”  Perfect.

But anyway.  I suppose I write today to encourage those who have silently suffered because of their well-founded fear of the jalapeno.  You are not alone.  You are not wrong.  I have appointments with the principals in my daughter’s schools next week so we can begin educating and encouraging students to take a stand against bullying those who have Fear of the Jalapeno (FOTJ).  I’m certain they will be delighted to help.  Additionally, I hope to meet with my congressman on Monday in order to work out the details of a bill that would regulate the jalapeno industry (“Big Jalapeno,” as it is known) and restrict jalapeno sales and purchases, requiring background checks and three day waiting periods.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Real Love

If we are going to live by the Holy Spirit (and, it seems to me, that is the way for a new creation), then we’ll need to think of love more as a person—Jesus—and less as a behavior. Otherwise, love easily becomes an imitation, a copycat, rather than the genuine article—the real deal—alive in us.

Love From The Inside Out

How’s your imagination? Is it powerful? Vivid? Or is it wimpy?

Well, try this: Imagine Jesus loving your husband or wife or kids or neighbors. Would He be good at it? Or would He have to act like He loved them? Would He be all marshmallowee, ooowee-gooey, put on, lovey dovey? Or would He have the heart and the truth and the feelings for it? You know the answers.

And here’s the big question: Where is Jesus? He’s inside of a lot of people. That was always the plan, right? And that’s what He’s been doing for a long time now—making homes for Himself. We are His personal housing project, and it’s likely that He is inside of you; paid off the mortgage and everything. Think of the work He could do from where He is.

Have a few chats with the One who lives in you. Listen for Him who will never burden you with what He is particularly good at doing for Himself. Ask Him to show you or tell you what He thinks of your spouse, of your kids, or your neighbors or co-workers, or someone across the world. Pay attention. Watch what He does in you about them. He will produce in you what He is like. He’s given you the heart for it, because He’s at home there. And that is the very best of life, with you and God.

Remember that thing about His yoke being easy, His burden light?

Well. Yeah.

1 John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

(This is a transcript of yesterday's video, “What God’s Personal Housing Plan Means.” It's for those who might rather read than watch.)