Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Although it will be painful at times, it is best to live and love open hearted because an overly defended heart is always looking for a fight. Guard your heart, sure, but do not barricade it. You will be kept from too many people and too much life if you do.
Friday, November 18, 2016
While the two are certainly not contradictory—they go together—serving Him without knowing Him will drive you mad…and empty…and bitter…and broken. It’s the same with knowing God’s love. If you try to “be loving” without knowing His love for you, you’ll go mad…and empty…and bitter…and broken. I’ve seen it. Haven’t you?
Consider the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Before the description of what God’s love is like (verses 4-8), the writer (Paul) emphasizes the same distinction: knowing or “having” God’s love is far more important than serving Him. In fact, doing anything without HAVING the love of God is worthless.
1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not HAVE LOVE, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not HAVE LOVE, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not HAVE LOVE, it profits me nothing.
Wow. That’s a lot of personal gifts, talents, knowledge, effort and self-sacrifice down the drain of worthlessness because I was deluded into thinking that the love of God—the greatest joy and motivator of life—wasn’t worth having. Fortunately, you and I are not so deluded.
If just now you’ve gotten lost in this world’s insistence of measurable productivity and responsible contribution, and love—God’s love—has gotten away from you, I know what that’s like. I do. But much of the story that God is writing through your days is about His love for you and the result of it. He knows that, as you know and have His deeply satisfying love, you’ll do pretty much whatever it takes to remain in it—or come back to it. You won’t even need to worry about obedience and productivity and fruitfulness because you’ll be in love—God’s love for you. That makes everything work right.
Have you got that? That’s what this life is about. And what comes from that is the great work of Love with you.
(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “The Work of Love,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click https://youtu.be/BgsQT1qWLa8, or scroll down this blog page.)
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
We have formed a preference, we like the presumed safety of talking about people we don’t know, world events and our opinions of them, rather than wade into the insecurity of genuine and caring relationships with people who are actually a part of our days. Commonly, even the friendships we have are stuffed full of discussing macro people of politics, music, sports, fashion and film and the opinions found there, rather than vital issues of the heart, including fears, loves, hopes, failures and successes, and how to navigate our days with Jesus.
Macro relationships avoid those things by offering us a television or computer screen at which to vent our opinions. Even though there will be no response, we think there’s value. We feel better, and we avoid messy, real people. As a consequence, we also avoid the Savior, who is best found and felt in the messy.
He is the way, the truth and the life, and we are distracted from Him by pretended surrogates, which, since they can never truly satisfy the heart of a human, twist us into caricature humans. There is no wonder why we act like idiots and asses—we are deluded away from Him who makes real people in real relationships.
My advice? Get off of the addiction to fake relationships. Don’t accept starvation. Start talking and listening to Jesus about everyone, everything and anything that concerns you, and watch what He will do with you on the inside and the outside. Don’t hurry. He will filter out the false and surrogate, and you will find a purity and authenticity to who you are and what you do with people. You’ll care for them. As you grow in knowing Him, He will share with you what He knows and feels about people—real people you can truly know. He will offer you to people because He is the Relationship King, and has a lot planned for them. Come on people—know people. That’s life. Have it to the full.
Friday, November 11, 2016
We cannot bear this. We’re not supposed to.
My advice? Draw back from the media, draw away from the personality images they press upon you, and go love your neighbor as yourself. You are far more likely to like what you find, and you will know people in truth. It’s supposed to be that way.
For example, my family and I are hosting a Fall Festival party tonight for the families who live on our street. We’ve done this maybe half a dozen times, and there will be Indians, Mormons, Christians, Skeptics, Republicans, Democrats, Rockies fans and Cubs fans, those who like sushi and those who don’t, those who like iPhones and those who like Samsungs here. And we will do great together. Everyone is bringing food and drink to share—a representative part of their lives—and we will probably find a way to cram everybody into the kitchen, where we will enjoy a holy evening of fellowship.
We will know each other. This is one way that life is found and shared. That other stuff—the flimsy representations the media offer—strangles it. So come on, people—know people.
Monday, November 07, 2016
If you’re an American and feeling stressed-out today, it’s likely because of dual citizenship—you’re a citizen of God’s heavenly Kingdom, and a citizen of the United States of America on the earth. That’s going to be messy and probably make a mess of you, since on the one hand you’re learning to relax with God and His perfect judgments, but feeling forced to make judgments about people all around you on the other. That’s not going to go well. It’s not supposed to, either. I’ll try to explain.
God took care of your election to heaven by taking care of all of the judgments necessary for your victory. All of your condemnation was finished at the cross, and the resurrection was God’s invitation for you to vote “Yes.” Now that you’ve voted, you’re a citizen of God’s condemnation-free country. You belong, and there’s no place better. However, in this world—right now—YOU have to make all of the judgments and condemnations necessary for victory. What a burden that is. I hope you’re feeling it. That’s important.
A citizen of heaven estimates no one by the judgments of this world and after the flesh, and approaches everyone with the knowledge that Jesus is their perfect hope and future for life. He is it, and there is no other judgment. A citizen of earth estimates everyone by the judgments of this world and after the flesh, and approaches everyone as though judging the “right choices” is their perfect hope and future for life. It’s all about judgment. The citizen of heaven, the “member of God’s household” is growing confident of the Spirit within him, who is right now leading and building him into a dwelling where God is obvious (See Ephesians 2:11-24). The citizen of earth accepts the mantle of a Pharisee, an earthly judge, in order to instruct himself and others in the building of something better than the other Pharisee might—in this case, Democrat Pharisees versus Republican Pharisees.
However, the struggle of a Pharisee has always been “what to do about failure,” since not one of them has ever led a successful life. Not one has ever been anything other than a failure. But in order to “keep on Pharisee-ing,” they choose the life-navigation style and pathway of pretended success and pretended righteousness. This explains why there are people who appear to be thrilled with their candidate for President. They are pretending. By ignoring glaring failure, they Pharisee-forward, championing their candidate while judging and condemning the other. This “Battle of the Pharisees” has never been more evident to me than during this election cycle and its two candidates. The hypocritical and judgmental gymnastics is wearing us out. Have you been caught up in it?
I hope you’re tired. I hope you’re bothered. I sure am.
I know that there are very real differences and futures envisioned by Democrats and Republicans, and this election is important. I’m going to vote. Please know that I am not condemning you for your involvement in this world’s particular party of Pharisees. I AM CALLING YOU HOME. I am not hoping that you’ll repent and quit national interests; I am hoping that fatigue and frustration complete their work upon you so that your homeland, where you really live, will re-capture your interest and you will once again enjoy the full benefits of heavenly citizenship today. . .or tomorrow. . .or the day after. Soon.
My prayer is that, over the next few days, the judgmental torture devices that are “Democrat” and “Republican” will be lifted from the heavenly citizen sons and daughters. How does that happen? A Pharisee does not simply choose to drop pretended success and pretended righteousness. “De-Pharisee-ing” a deluded Pharisee is the grand work of the Spirit through the good news of God’s gift of a better homeland, where true success and perfect righteousness are free and fantastic. In other words, God’s election work for victory is this: Jesus for you, and a new and true citizenship. It’s way better. It’s supposed to be.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
How beautiful is it that the man who gives up the lead in the eighth inning of the seventh and final game of the World Series (and who shed tears during the rain delay) receives from his teammates the gift of the win in the tenth? I’m so attracted to the beauty of a community of friends, who know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and who prefer the goal of shared success to anything else. Wow.
When you examine yourself, what are you looking for?
A healthy, New Testament, grace of God based, self-examination begins not so we can uncover and rectify wrongs with God and man, but so God can show us who we are. It’s not for penalty, it’s for revival—the Spirit’s favorite hobby with you.
There are many ways we think that God’s got something against us, and He wants to draw us into prayer so He can get His prosecution going. It’s not true. When you or I do something that’s not in keeping with our God-given nature, His first effort with us is not prosecution of the deed, but a renewal through what we think about who we are—our nature. In other words, “Who do you think you are?” rather than, “What have you done?”
Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
The Spirit renews us—Hooray!—by restoring to us our godly-natured self-image, which is the only one that’s accurate. He reminds us that Jesus’ cross and resurrection made us new, and that puts wrongs done in their proper light—they are foreign to us and harmful to relationships, making them much easier to confess and talk about. We might say, “That wasn’t like me. I’m sorry that happened.” Like shaking off leeches, we’re happy to be free of them because they’re not of us.
So if you’re going for some self-examination, have a really good look. Take your time. You won’t be alone and you’ll like what He shows you, which is God’s form of self-examination.
(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “God’s Form of Self-Examination,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, go to: https://youtu.be/_wk5uk4xabo, or scroll down this blog page.)