Love Wins

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Do you find it hard to love people different than you? People with different gifts or those you imagine are not believers? What about people that don’t believe just like you? Jesus’ call to us was to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34), and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).  It’s a tall order, as we approach Easter, but challenging ourselves to love more like Jesus is good.

What follows makes the point from a different angle. I share this from another blog called JackassTheology. The name may offend, but the thoughts are good.

“It’s easy to see the Spirit of God working in someone who is all about the things you’re all about. But what happens when the Spirit is working outside of the boundaries you carefully maintain?

John Calvin insisted that we ought to learn from and appreciate the insights and skills of everyone around us. This goes for those you admire and those you don’t. It goes for Christians and non-Christians. This is a bit surprising, perhaps, given Calvin’s emphasis on human depravity. But he insists that the knowledge and abilities of human beings—including unbelievers—are gifts they received from the Spirit:

“Whenever we come upon these matters [skill and understanding] in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn [deride, demean, blaspheme] and reproach the Spirit himself.” John Calvin (1509-1564)

Did you catch that? Not only do we need to acknowledge that everyone—including non-Christians—have “that admirable light of truth shining in them,” but we had better be careful to heed and appreciate their insights lest we blaspheme the Spirit. Jesus told us that anyone who speaks against him will be forgiven, but the unforgivable sin is “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” (Luke 12:10). There’s debate about what that means, but let’s agree it’s a strong warning. John Calvin isn’t Jesus, but in this passage, he’s connecting the demeaning of another person’s gifts with the unforgivable sin.”

My take away is to meet every person that crosses my path with honor and appreciation for them as an image bearer; though they, like me, are broken and sinful. They may not praise His name or think of Him as I do, they may offend me or just rub me wrong (that’s about me). Yet, how can I not show them compassion and kindness and love? Christ Jesus carried a heavy cross to Golgotha and suffered and died for my sin. And His love won me.

Today, let love win in you and through you.

 

 

Welcoming Transformation

Tuesday, March 25, 2019

Our journey to Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday is part of a greater journey of transformation. Christ’s work in us is transformative – from one degree of glory to another. The Welcoming Prayer from yesterday invites transformation.
The Lord’s Prayer also calls us to deep transformation.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.                      Matthew 6:10
Consider this reflection on the Lord’s Prayer from my friend Bob Hudson:
The invitation for God’s kingdom to come is an invitation for God to rule over every part of your life. I like to specifically invite God to rule over areas of my life that I am dealing with in the moment – relationships, my desires, my emotions, and my thoughts.
Transformation only takes place through surrender.  “Your will be done, on earth – in my life – as it is in Heaven.”  What am I surrendering to? When I consider what God’s will is I am drawn to Jesus’ command – “love one another as I have loved you.”  The call to love is the greatest expression of doing the will of God.  What if we daily prayed that we might love one another?  What would happen?  We would be transformed into the likeness of Christ as we surrender everything in us that blocks love.”
Today, will you surrender to God’s transforming love? What might happen?

Was That Intentional?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Did you do that intentionally? Did the guy in the brown SUV just intentionally cut me off?  Did she intentionally snub me? Do you wonder if the challenging and hurtful things happening around you are intentional? Maybe you attribute intentionality to those who offend you. But maybe it’s not intentional, maybe they are just unaware.

I’m convinced there are a lot of folks who are radically unaware, including myself at times. In my unawareness I have offended, cut-off, overlooked and inadvertently wounded. It was not intentional.

Jesus said to pray like this:

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”      Matthew 6:10

This is a prayer of radical intentionality. It’s calling you and me to kingdom awareness, willful awareness and intentionality. The intention is to place the kingdom of God, the will of God and the ways of God first.

Jesus prayed a similar prayer of radical intentionality when His life was on the line in the garden of Gethsemane:

“Not as I will, but as You will.”                                                                            Matthew 26:39

His love, life, struggles and sufferings were intentional.

Sometimes I stagger through my day unaware, without intentionality, and it is not rewarding. The model prayer of Jesus, and the focus of His life, was that of intentionality. Intentionally putting his Father’s will first, intentionally giving His life for ours, intentionally humbling himself for the wellbeing of others, intentionally taking narrow roads, making sacrifices, and pursuing hard people in love. It was Jesus’ intention to impact others with his life and love.

I will live with intentionality today. What are you going to be intentional about today?

Hope Springs

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Another Wednesday, the middle of another week. But today is different, it’s the first day of Spring. Spring brings greening grass, buds and bulbs, and the promise of warmer days. Spring brings the hope of beauty and new life around us.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new. … It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”  (Revelation 21:5-6)

The beauty of the new Spring season is an encouraging reminder of an even greater hope. Our Savior has finished, by His life, death and resurrection, all that is necessary to secure the new life. IT IS DONE! We have yet to realize the full blooming of new life, but as sure as the buds will blossom in the months ahead, new life is ours in Christ. He has purchased your life on the cross, and secured new life for you through the power of His resurrection. You and I have the privilege of drinking from The Spring of life today and every day – without payment.

So, today is not just Wednesday, it is another day to enjoy and give thanks for our new life in Christ and the hope of glory to come as He makes all things new.

Day 4 of a 40 Day Journey

Monday, March, 11, 2019

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” Romans 2:4

I grew up in Roman Catholicism and I also have a pervasive critic in my mind. I don’t blame Catholicism, though in my experience the church sought to control through guilt. Maybe that contributed to my internal critic which guilts me. I easily see and critique what is out of place, disordered, broken, needs fixing, and just plain wrong. Internally, the critic responds to me with self-judgment that sounds like this: “You aren’t doing enough, you didn’t do it right, if you don’t get it right, you are not valuable.”

Repentance, in this distorted view is about penance and punishment for not measuring up. But, God does not operate this way through the love of Jesus. Rather, he extends mercy and kindness to all – for all have sinned and not measured up (Rom 3:23). Unlike the non-resourceful critical one in my mind, God extends kindness and grace. He patiently encourages us with kindness to turn from our false and sinful ways and bring our brokenness and our humanity to Him. Why?

Because God love you, that’s why. And because God knows He is the source of healing and wholeness and life and joy – AND HE WANTS ALL OF THAT FOR HIS CHILDREN!

Today, as you start your week, will you welcome the loving kindness of God for you? Breath in His grace and your security in His love, and let the joy of the Lord fill you as you follow Him on your journey.

Day 3 of our Lenten Journey

Saturday March 9, 2019

“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”

John 14:18

According to social psychologist and researcher Brene’ Brown, we are lonelier than ever. Social media, cell phones, technology and the capacity to travel have not brought us together, but created a world of loneliness and superficial connections.

What a marvelous reality that the Savior of the world did not save from a distance, but came to be with us, to dwell as a man among men, eat with sinners, become known to friends, and go to weddings. It was very personal and very much a ministry of presence with Jesus.

And even as Jesus physically departs to return to his Father, he promises not only to not leave us alone, as orphans (exposed, in danger, fending for self), but to give us the Holy Spirit. In Paul’s letter to Timothy he says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2Tim1:7)

We are not alone – and we are not made to be alone. Take a moment and BREATH – breath in the reality that the Spirit of the Living God is in you, for you and loves you. Let him meet you in your loneliness. Now choose to meet others, to be present in love with others – let’s not leave one another as orphans, but love as we have been loved.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Today marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 day season of preparation leading us to Resurrection Sunday.  The “Lenten season” has for centuries been a time of prayer and repentance.

I want to give us some daily encouragement these 40 days and together prayer for one another. So please take a few minutes each day to check back here, pray and be encouraged.

Repentance is the idea of undergoing change or turning from one thing to another. To take hold of something new and let go of something unprofitable. Jesus said,

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Mark 4:17

This was Jesus invitation to his kingdom, a kingdom of life, hope, radical beauty, love and overflowing joy. Conversely, he described the world as lusts and possessions that are passing away (1 John 2:15).

Today, consider what you have your grip on. What of this world might you need to let go of, opening your hand, that you might turn and welcome his invitation to receive love, hope and the joy of eternal security in his kingdom?

Througt the resurrection, Jesus purchased abundant  life and joy for you – let him take hold of you today and enjoy being a child of the King..