Whoever Lives in Love…

“And so we know and rely on the love that God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

God chose this verse for me to meditate on today.  I thought it was odd at first.  I know this stuff.  Why this verse?  Throughout the day, He has brought to my memory so many people whom I have sat with over the past 6 months who have been broken and hurt by Christians.  It seems to be an epidemic .

It is true that for the most part, the body of Christ does not know how to love.  True, people of the world do not know how to love either but we should know better.  I am sorrowful and broken every time I hear someone’s story of being hurt by “Christian” people.  It makes me search my heart all the more for times that I have been insensitive, self-righteous or prideful.  We should be above reproach in this area and most of us, on any given day, are not.  It is sad that there are so many people who struggle with forgiving Christians.

And yet on the other hand I realize something even more startling about us.  We do not know how to love because  most of us have never been loved well.  God is the one person who will and does love us well.  We continually choose to turn away from Him though.  Why?  Because not only do we not know how to give live, we do not know how to receive it either.

This verse is supposed to be the over-riding character of our lives.  This is how we live as a beacon of love and hope to the world, how we draw people to Christ.  But it has to start with us.  It has to start with us saying to God, “Teach me how to receive Your love.  Teach me how to live in Your love.  Teach me how to give off Your love to others.”

Imagine what the body of Christ would be to each other and the world!

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Supersize Me!

A couple of years ago, whenever you ordered at a fast food restaurant, they would always ask if you wanted to “super size” the meal.  We, being a nation of never wanting to settle for less when we could have more, usually agreed.  It was such a good value after all!  Then “super size” began to get a bad rap, well deserved of course.  Fast food chains did away with “super size” but what they instituted instead  was a little more deceptive.  Have you noticed in the last year or so, you can not order a small drink?  They do not carry it except in a kids’ meal, the Big Kids Meal to be exact.  When you order a medium, it is the large size from years ago.  The large is now what used to be the “super size”.   So when they ask if want to go “large”, you take it because after all it is not “super size”!  Let me just go on record now that this is not a blog about health.

This morning God woke me up early from a dream.  I do not remember the dream but I do remember what He was saying to me as I began to wake up.

“Ask Me to super size it.”  Whoa!  Was that the McDonald’s that I had for dinner last night?

“Ask Me to super size it.”

I am thinking what EXACTLY am I asking You to super size?

“Everything.”

“What exactly do you mean by everything?  And what does super size mean to you?”

“Our relationship, your marriage, your children, ministry, your role in My Kingdom, the transformation in people’s lives, My Glory in you….everything.  “Abundantly above all that you can think or imagine.”

Now my heart is racing and my breathing begins to get a little short as the implications are setting in.  My eyes are as big as golf balls.  When God says “super size”, He means it.  Not just changing sizes and being deceptive, but really “super size”.  Am I ready for that?  Can I handle that?  Whenever I order a “super size” meal, I can never finish the drink or the food.  How can I even begin to swallow this?  How will my orderly life change as a result?

And yet He keeps saying, “Ask Me to super size it.”

I am either on this ride for good or I get off here.  That is the choice.  I am at a crossroad.  Do I believe that God has bigger plans than I could ever comprehend?  Am I willing to take the ride of my life to find out?

“Okay, God.  I am in.  I ask You to Super Size everything!”

I wonder, when I get used to supersize and can digest all of it, if I can order a “super SUPER size”?!  Is that on God’s menu?

Rescue Me

“He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Psalms 18:19

What defines a rescue?  Most of us think that someone has to be in life or death circumstances for a rescue to happen.  We can be rescued from other situations.  Unhealthy relationships, despair, apathy, criticism, etc.  Rescue is anything that we get pulled out of, that makes us better for not being in it.  Notice that I said a person must be pulled out of it.  You can not save yourself because then it is not a rescue.  Rescuing always involves someone else.  Jesus wants to rescue us and He did initially 2,000 years ago on the cross.  But that was just the beginning.  He wants to continue to rescue us everyday, every hour and every minute.  From what?  A lot of people would say from ourselves.  I disagree.  We are only our own worst enemy, because of our woundedness.  I believe Jesus wants to rescue us from the wounds, our pits, and habits we have lived in all of our lives.  He wants to set us on a rock.  You know what else?  Make no mistake that Jesus is the only one who is capable,  and has all the qualifications to perform a rescue.  Others look like rescuers but the price you have to pay to be rescued by them is too high!  Let Jesus be your rescuer today and every day for the rest of your life.

God formed….

Did you ever catch this in the creation story?  All of creation is formed by the spoken word, until God creates the ones that will bear His image.  With that, He uses a whole different approach.  He “forms” us.  When it comes to creating the creation that will bear His image, speaking doesn’t suffice.  He wanted to be intimate, “hands on”, close.  Wow!  He wanted to know every intimate detail of us, nothing was left to chance.

This is still what He wants today.  He wants intimacy, “hands on” and a closeness with us still.  He wants to be involved with every detail of our lives.  Yet how many times do I hold Him at arms’ length?  Or tell Him, “It’s okay.  I got this.”  Many times I only want Him to be “hands on” when I am over my head. Why do I do this?

He longs to be intimately associated in every way with me and my life. God, being ever the gentleman, does not push, barge in, or lecture me.  He just backs off and let’s me have my way. What choices can I make today that allow God to be more “hands on” with me?  What about you?

Your heart is welcome here

I have never liked the word “accountability”, especially as in a group.  It seems that with a group like that, there is an underlying assumption that you are going to screw up, or the possibility is very high that you will screw up.  We all know that we will screw up.  It’s one of those “duh” things.  Reality is that while most of us do need people in our lives that speak wisdom to us, it seems that in these groups they are speaking wisdom to the “wrong” subject matter.

Rarely is any sin or addiction ever the problem.  It is only a symptom of a heart condition.  It is never about drinking more than you should, eating a whole chocolate cake, spending money you do not have or playing Farmville for 2 solid hours.  It is about something more.  There is an underlying issue that propels and drives us to do these things.  As Brent Curtis in the book, “Desire” calls it, these are our “less wild  lovers”.  Things that we chose to escape to, run to, and use as coping mechanisms instead of God.  We can try to “manage” those things but the root will still be there.  Reality is the root will just manifest itself in some other addiction that we need to be “accountable” for.

I hear enough from the world, and well meaning-people in my life, of where I fall short.  Even my own self recrimination of my heart can be pretty brutal.  Things like, “You should be further along than this by now.”  or “You are never going to get this, are you?”  I do not need to hear it from one more group of people.  It is obvious that all of that has not helped me.  I need (we all need) a group of people who can speak to our heart.  Someone who can look at us and say, “That is not the truest thing about you.  Here is what I see in your heart….  Hear is what God is doing in you…”  This requires the people in the group to be led by the Spirit in our interactions (novel idea).  Sometimes the group may not even know what to say, and instead, agree to pray and seek God for that person.

Jesus was never involved in an accountability group.  Nowhere in Scripture can I find, where after He set someone free or forgave them of their sins, did he inform them that they needed to find a group of people to hold them accountable.  Even when dealing with people, he never addressed the symptom, always the root (ex:  the woman at the well).  How is it that we have been deceived into thinking that we have come up with a “better” system.  Accountability takes you back to the “law” and skips the “heart”.

I have the extreme honor and privilege to be involved in such a group.  I have not always had this type of group in my life but I have sought it with my heart for a great number of years.  Our weekly conversations center around, “What is going on in your heart?”, “What did that do for your heart?”  and “What do you think God is saying to your heart?”  It has helped all of us immensely, to have our hearts heard and fought for by each other.

How do you find or form a group like this?  You pray.  You may be able to change gears in a group that already exists. Then again, you may not.  Not many people are open to this idea.  Ask God to bring people into your life that could be part of this.  But you need to be willing to wait for this.  It takes time and the right people to speak into your heart.  You need to be wise.

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

I do not belong to an “accountability” group, I belong to a “Your heart is welcome here” group!  It will change your life and your walk with God.  Just do it!

The Inevitable Crash

Sometimes I wonder how Paul did it.  Or Jesus.  Or Moses.  Or anyone who attempts to walk out their God-given calling here on earth.  No matter how great and awesome God moves, or how many miraculous things you see, you cannot live on a spiritual high forever.  The crash always comes.  Sometimes the crash can coincide with warfare on behalf of the enemy.  The weird part is that God taught me this years ago…to expect the crash, the warfare that follows.  Sometimes knowing it is coming just is not enough though.  I still feel taken out.  I realize that I can not live on spiritual highs forever.  No one can.  But just the same the crash is no fun either.  Maybe because it remind me of frailness as a human, my lack of supernatural strength and ability outside of God.  Maybe God uses it to teach me that long resisted lesson of what it means to “rest”, a lost art in today’s society.  I wish Paul had written about it, or Moses or someone.  Maybe the best scenario we have is the Jesus in the Garden.  Maybe that was His inevitable crash.  He definitely had been riding a high with God.  Healing people, preaching the good news and bringing new freedom to old ways of the law.  I know the Garden was about agony and suffering but was some of it about bone tired weariness?

God will continue to use His people to accomplish His will on earth.  Thus there will always be the inevitable crash for us as humans.  The crash can draw us deeper into God where we can truly learn to rest.  We can offer ourselves grace and mercy, not expectation.  I hope there is a day that I look forward to the crash instead of dreading it because I know God uses it to provide rest for my soul.

When people have been given an internal image and vision of who they are and where they are going, then they can stretch themselves to do the exploits of God.

–Craig Hill