Tag Archives: love

Lawlessness as a Pursuit of Freedom

As a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, I experience first-hand the pursuit of freedom on all sorts of topics from racism to classism. Many feel in bondage by the so-called “men in black”, the people at the top telling the little people what they can and cannot do. This notion of oppression is often true. People are experiencing prejudice in one way or another. Our society rightly celebrates historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., that led the revolution against social injustices all in the name of freedom and equality.

While all of this is good and right and just, we’ve somehow lost sight of where freedom ends and selfishness, even lawlessness begins. Perhaps it is that we all don’t agree on the definition of freedom. Some may even venture to say that freedom is a dirty word that only hippies and liberals dare to proclaim. The reason being, freedom is now being translated into no control, no laws, no standards.

Picture this, you are driving your three kids to a soccer game when suddenly your minivan is plowed into by a shiny new sports car. For the sake of this illustration, no one is injured. You go to court to seek justice, but when you get there the defendant says, “I don’t see why what I did was wrong. It felt good.” This is the argument of so many today. Or what if you decide not to pay your taxes? Your argument could be, “I’m not hurting anyone.” Again, I’ve heard this excuse before. Most of us can agree that there is a time and place for laws, rules, standards, but when once applied to us it can be uncomfortable. Honestly, how many times have you gone far over the speed limit, but then that one time you slow down you look at the person speeding by you like they are the criminal? We’ve all done it or something similar.

So if we can all agree that we need laws and standards, and we all agree that it sometimes means we will be uncomfortable, then why do people use the “rules” of Christianity as an excuse not to be Christ-followers? I pondered this for several days and I have come to these conclusions.

1. They have not personally experienced Christ’s love and forgiveness. For me, it was like Pringles, once you pop you can’t stop. Once I experienced it for myself, I was sold. Perhaps those people have experienced or heard only of the manmade religion of Christianity without the joy of knowing him.

2. They have not differentiated their experience with man with their experience with God. Many people decide how big, how strict, how overbearing, or how loving God is by looking at their experience with their earthly parents. They have yet to experience God’s deliverance and forgiveness of others.

3. They are not ready to give up something they know is ungodly. Overcoming vices, habits, even addictions, starts with knowing God will meet you where you are. He does not expect you to overcome these on your own before coming to know Him.

4. They genuinely believe in another god or entity or have some other spiritual belief system. You probably know people of many other faiths, and that’s okay. We are not called to beat them with the Bible, but called to love them and by loving them we reveal the person, the God of Love.

There could be a number of other reasons as well.

The fact is we are living in a world that is increasingly becoming about self, hence the term “selfie”, but in the midst of a self-centered, highly technological world, there also many who are overly aware of the world around us. You can go on YouTube and see video after video of the “news” that actually wasn’t ever aired on the news, someone took it with their personal cell phone. With all this information about injustice at our fingertips, really who are we to trust? Ourselves? Or a God that loves above all else, but also sets “laws” in place to help us avoid injury to the body, soul, and spirit? Which sounds more freeing?

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Shrinking from Suffering

As Jesus hangs almost lifeless on the cross he finds the strength to say “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” You see, no one likes suffering, including Jesus. It is part of our human nature to shrink away from suffering, but what we forget in the suffering is that we often experience God’s grace and love most when we have experienced such oppression.

Recently a family member of mine underwent what she thought was minor surgery, but what has followed has been more suffering than the symptoms the surgery was supposed to alleviate. Now, I am confident that after the suffering will come great healing, which will completely wipe away the past pain and discomfort, but in this time of pain and unrest it is hard to keep the focus on what is yet to come. There is no doubt in my mind that my family member is going through a rollercoaster of emotions and wondering if she should have bypassed the surgery for a less invasive solution, but there’s no denying that when she was trying to decide on whether to have it or not, God spoke to her in a very clear way.

When she found out the cost of the procedure she realized it would not be feasible, but it seemed as if it was necessary for quality of life so she did what any good Christian should do, and she asked God for His will be done. The next day she received a call from a client offering her a raise and more hours. All of a sudden, impossible seemed Himpossible. The decision was made just like that, but when we are in pain and suffering doubt often grows in our hearts and minds.

Here’s the difference between the thoughts of you and I and the thoughts of Jesus. Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Often we catch ourselves saying, “There is no god that would allow this pain.” Or, “God has forgotten about me.” Or lastly, “God doesn’t really know what is right for me.” These all point to our disowning God and our total independence. Jesus said, “My God.” “My” being possessive means that Jesus was still clinging to the fact that God was his for the taking, while we often consider him “chop liver” if things don’t go our way. Jesus asks God to reveal to him the reason for this forsaking, while we often say the only explanation is we are forgotten or god is non-existent.

Fortunately my family member has a close relationship with the Father, and she is now quickly recovering, on her way to renewal of faith and renewal of body. I pray that each of us can learn to embrace God and seek understanding in our suffering just as Jesus did. We don’t understand suffering and we feel forsaken, but God brings healing every step of the way whether we acknowledge it or not.

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No Portion Control Needed

Ever wish for a healthy indulgence that is fat free, calorie free, allergen free, full of nutrients, and makes your heart yearn for more? Well, that does not just exist in your wildest foodie dreams, its existence is as real as you and I, and its benefits are far better than you can ever fathom. There is one thing you must do, however, before partaking in this delicious treat. You must give up all other cravings for which you get the munchies because it requires your whole plate. This dream food cannot coexist with any other items on your plate, but if you give up all your other snacks this treat promises to completely satisfy.

Are you ready to accept this challenge? The treat I speak of is God. God is made up of the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit who are all one God. He loves you unconditionally from the beginning of time, before your birth parents ever met. Although you were created by Him he allows you to live with freewill, but unlike any of His other creations He gives you the opportunity to return to Him so He can adopt you into His family.

Here are some scriptures that will make your mouth water for more:

  • [The judgements of the Lord are] Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Psalm 19:10B
  • As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. Psalm 42:1
  • Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
  • Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:35
  •  But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17 They *said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. Matthew 14:16-21

I encourage you to turn from all the habits, strongholds, temptations. Repent (ask for forgiveness and tell God you will turn from them) of those areas where you have fallen short (sinned). If you need help ask God, wise counsel (a more mature believer), a prayer group. They will all help you overcome. It also helps to memorize scripture that relate to what you are struggling with. When your spiritual plate is cleared off, you’ve let go of all of that, I promise you will experience something far greater than any of those things. God will even give you a taste before you can get your plate clean.  Welcome to indulgence where everything nourishes and tastes so sweet.

For more on the character of God watch this Youtube video. “That’s My King” by Dr. S.M. Lockridge.

Uploaded to Youtube on Jul 22, 2008. Visuals set to the audio of the famous sermon “Seven Way King” (aka That’s My King) as spoken by Dr. S.M. Lockridge. The audio is slightly edited for a better flow in the video. The music in the background was performed live by the GCC band while the video played on the screens. It then led directly into the worship song “Here is Our King” (To see the performance in it’s entirety go here: gccwired.com/mediaplayer/playeropener.as­p?id=478 )Created entirely using After Effects with footage from the movie “The Passion of the Christ”. The video took 30 hours to create plus around 6 hours of rendering. The final After Effects project file totaled well over 600 layers.

Family Feud-less

Fun with the family Labor Day weekend 2014

Fun with the family Labor Day weekend 2014

Anyone who has a family knows that family members can get on each other’s nerves. When I was younger I let every little annoyance drive me nuts. If something was going the way I had imagined then it wasn’t worth taking part. As I’ve become older, and hopefully more mature, I’ve come to realize that if anything is guaranteed, it’s that almost nothing will go the way I imagined because my imagination is like a mainstream Hollywood movie where everything falls gently into place. The fact is, people who know each other as well as most families know each other have moments of resentment, disgust, frustration, and the list goes on. Disagreement is a symptom and/or side effect of a close-knit relationship.

After spending one of the best three-day weekends with the family I recognize that my past frustration and annoyances were all about my intolerance of not getting my way. Once I was able to let that go (for the most part) I could really enjoy them no matter what their annoying habit, unorthodox opinion, or deafening TV volume. Maybe with maturity I have found that I have those same quirks within me that perhaps have a tendency to annoy others, but just as I have become comfortable with who I am and all my crazy quirks I have also become comfortable with several other people’s.

Before we took our little road trip up the coast for the weekend I went on the Google Play store to download some new music to add to our vacation playlist. As soon as I logged on I noticed Katy Perry’s entire latest CD was free. Normally I wouldn’t download a whole Katy Perry album, but it was FREE. It turns out there were only a few songs I really liked from the whole thing, but one in particular got my attention. The song is titled “Love Me”, and it’s about a girl who loses herself in fear of losing someone else. It seems we often compromise ourselves to gain relationship with others, or we neglect to compromise at all and lose relationship with others. This is tricky because we don’t want to compromise on the big stuff, but relationship, even among family members, calls for some compromise. Saturday I had a headache and all I wanted was to go back to the house and take a nap, but my mom wanted to take a hike. Instead of complaining I took a nap in the car while she hiked, and our day was so much more peaceful because of it. My mom got out her energy so she could sleep good that night, and I got to take some Advil and nap off some of my headache.

When I reflect on the New Testament I see images of Jesus, after a long day of healing and teaching in crowds of people all wanting his attention (he must have been exhausted), humbly healing one more or praying all night or going out on a boat to preach to a huge audience. And Jesus says that what you do to the least of these you have done for him. When you humble yourself to listen to one more banjo-filled folk song at full volume when all you want to hear is a good worship song, or you stop at Java Detour just so your loved one can get an extra-large oreo latte even though you are exhausted, you are doing this for Jesus because even these simple things are acts of humility and acceptance and love. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)

So, when your son wakes you up at 4:00 a.m. with nightmares or your mom asks you to repeat yourself ten times or your sister fails to call you back, remember that love is patient, kind, and not self-seeking. Hope you learned as much from my three-day weekend as I did.

Just for kicks I’ve added Katy Perry’s song Love Me to this post. I think it has a positive message and a fun beat, and it was part of the inspiration for this post.

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Dial Tone

Back in the days of home phones you would hear a dial tone when you picked up the phone. If you have ever been anxious to call someone you know, that dial tone moment is the time to decide whether or not to dial. Perhaps you are calling a crush, or maybe you are calling someone with whom you need to reconcile.
Recently I have been faced with such decisions. Do I take a leap and risk being hurt by my former friend or do I continue to protect myself behind this wall I’ve built up? It’s that dial tone moment that for some will last a lifetime.
The whole process reminds me of the Garth Brooks classic “Standing Outside the Fire.” Brooks sings about stepping into the “fire”, giving love a chance even if it means you get burned. Although he sings about a romantic love, this idea can be applied to all kinds of relationships. It applies to the employee who is being micro-managed and wants to hide from her boss, to the child who is estranged from their formerly abusive parent, even to the friend that feels she’s been hurt one too many times.
Life is not meant to be lived behind the walls we build up. Life is meant to be lived in the fire of pure, unconditional love. For those outside the fire a life at risk of being burned may seem extra-ordinary, but were we not called to be extraordinary?
Dial the phone. Ring the doorbell. Do whatever you need to do to reconcile broken relationships because Jesus first loved you.
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Saying the Hard Stuff

Sometimes in life we are faced with situations we don’t agree with. As Christians we often think we need to keep the peace by keeping quiet. That’s the nice thing to do, right? But what if keeping quiet causes harm. Perhaps we think that our words don’t make a difference, we will offend someone, or our words have to be “happy.”

Let me ask you this, were Jesus’ words happy when he drove out the money changers’ tables in the temple? They probably didn’t like him referring to them as “robbers.” Maybe they saw themselves as trying to help people attain their sacrificial animals. Just because they marked up the prices doesn’t make them robbers, does it? The fact is God calls us to speak truth in love. This does not mean as my friend and I say, everything is kitties, clouds, and rainbows. No, those are things of my childhood Lisa Frank stickers. This is by far not the only scriptural instance of someone saying the hard stuff. Paul said a lot of hard stuff in the letters he wrote. Can you imagine writing to all the churches you’ve ever been a part of and saying, “You know, you guys need to deal with your greed. You are constantly chasing after people for their money”? Or how about, “I know I saw the minister’s husband looking me up and down when I was in my swimsuit at the church camping trip last summer. You guys need to deal with your lust issues”? It would be a little awkward. So, maybe God doesn’t want us to say or write those things to the whole church, maybe sometimes he does want us to shed some light on sin in the presence of others. That’s something we have to discern on a case by case basis, but we know that he always asks us to speak truth in love.

So, what is truth in love? It sounds good. Is it sugar coating the truth? I think it means to come from a place of love and compassion toward another and letting the Holy Spirit speak through you God’s truth. This last weekend a family member challenged a Proverbs verse I put on my Facebook page, asking if my “faith” required constant words of reaffirmation. I wrote and rewrote my response thinking I would really show her for writing something that sounded so degrading in my mind. I could just imagine her sarcastic, know-it-all tone as I wrote. Somehow I just couldn’t leave it alone. Finally I was driving home and this voice in the back of my head kept saying my comments were not being said in love. They were being said in pride and arrogance. Now, is that the way God would want me to respond? The truth is I don’t know what her tone was when she wrote that comment. Maybe it was a completely innocent question. Perhaps my response was not a response to this one Facebook comment. Maybe it was a reaction to all the times she has tried to challenge my faith. So, what did I do? I stopped right there and deleted my responses. All 3 of them! Because being God’s ambassador is not about memorizing the most verses, following the most rules, or thinking you are better than someone else. If you think that’s what it’s about, check again. It’s about loving, not just the easy-to-love people, but everyone. When you do that, that’s when you are able to speak truth in LOVE.

For now I am waiting on the Holy Spirit to give me His response to my family member’s words. I believe at this time I just have to be patient and leave it up to Him. Perhaps there are no words for her right now because sometimes speaking truth in love is simply showing that you may not agree with the other person but you love them anyway, and that is beyond words.

Published on Nov 26, 2012. Words is the latest single from Hawk Nelson and features Bart Millard from MercyMe.

 

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