On a Surprising Find and Running Whales through Colanders

I have been struggling what to write in this blog. It seems there’s a hundred things bound up in my heart, with all the words trying to come out at once but none actually succeeding, like a hundred whales trying to swim through a pasta sieve. And then, I heard this pastor speaking while I was driving my car and flipping through the channels. And he says everything that my heart is crying out for, desiring to know, to give, to understand, to put into words. Especially after the 9 minute marker, or the last 7 minutes, if you are in that much of a hurry.

Seeking Only God’s Approval (pt2)

I highly encourage you to take about 30 minutes to listen to this, especially if you seek help and encouragement on “how to die to yourself daily, live for Christ and develop a passion to reach the lost and dying.”

Advertisements

On Maturity and Exploding Sharks

Let me start off with that this blog is not meant to be condemning, but merely something I think is very important, for myself if no one else, and something to think about. You may do with it as you desire.

There are many different images that get associated with the Christian life- a warrior, clad in shiny armor; a fruitful branch, covered in grapes; a victorious army rising up to oppose the darkness; a quiet, peaceful bride awaiting her redeemer, etc. While these are all awesome, here’s my question. Are we really ready?
Are we really walking in a life that prepares us to be these things? Are we these things?

Or do we just think we are?

As American Christians, we have access to a vast amount of learning from those who have studied before us, as well as churches everywhere. We have the freedom to talk about Jesus everywhere, to have deep discussions about Christ in our small groups, to read books from generations of Christians. We have the ability to read the Bible in freedom, and, many of us have multiples of them, while even having a part of a page of one is both a priceless treasure and a death sentence is many countries.
This kind of freedom, this access to knowledge and the writings of the past is unprecedented in history. There has never been a time like this.

So, what are we doing with it?

Are we maturing as Christians, getting up, fighting, learning, clothing ourselves in the armor God provides and becoming a great, fruitful vine? Or are we taking all this stuff for granted and living off of the anointing of the pastor who spoke in church last Sunday, or the book we read two years ago? And, even more, are we relying on that preacher’s sermon or bestselling book or website to feed us, instead of praying, reading the Bible for ourselves, searching for the truth for ourselves, as God leads us?

All those things are great, but, if we are not letting it change our lives, if we are building what we think we believe or know around the latest big name (or no name) person or thing, what happens when something gets messed up and the person or author has an affair or embezzles a bunch of money or murders someone or simply says something we don’t agree with?

That castle we built our faith on crumbles.

We must make sure that our foundation is Jesus and Jesus alone.

And, (the main point I am trying to get to in a very long way {sorry}), we must mature.

American Christians have access to so much in the way of spiritual development, but we are, as a whole, taking these great wonderful things and watering them down because we do not think we can understand them. Like a Korean landscaper I worked with this weekend who talked about how he has a horrible time teaching many American kids how to rake leaves, because they just seem unable to learn how to do it well.

I’ve felt very much these past several weeks, and particularly this one, that God is saying that the time for being immature is over. The time for maturing is growing short! We must grow up quickly! We cannot afford the time to sit on the simplest little doctrine point and argue about it or not understand it. We cannot afford to doubt and question god anymore. How can we be that great army we like to sing about in church if we cannot follow the Leader? And we cannot follow Him if we are questioning Him about why He says this or that or wants us to do this or that. A disorganized army will not stand. We must know His Voice, and our faith must go deep. We must learn humility, to humble ourselves with Him as our Director, our Ruler.

We must couple the knowledge we have with love. We are drowning in knowledge, but do not have enough love. If I know that every person has a unique tongue print and that orcas kill sharks by making them literally explode (both true, by the way…), what’s the point of just this random knowledge? It needs to affect my life. Not sure how either of those could, but those were the first random facts that popped up in Google….

We cultivate love by choice. By choosing to serve others, by choosing to see God in others, by choosing to glorify God with our lives, instead of glorifying ourselves.

Help us to mature quickly, Lord, so that You do not find us unprepared when You return! The world in melting down, falling apart, and only Your kingdom will stand! Help us to go deeper, to not be shallow, and to love You more, even when it’s unpopular, even when it hurts. Help us to value what we have and to seek more of You. Don’t let us sit still while the world around us burns, taking comfort in Your return, but being unaffected by what is going on around us!!! Forgive us for being like Nero, God. Forgive us.
Give us a heart for the hurting, the lost. Compel us to minister to them, to be humbled because You humbled Yourself for us. Let us cleave to You, not the world, and teach us how to bear more fruit for You. Mature us quickly, Lord, so that we can serve You better, for a greater part of our earthly lives. Amen.

Of Pyramids and Sliced Bread

(continuing my blog of things I’ve been learning at Hope City)

It is a struggle to hold on the truth. Sometimes it seems like everything is yelling at us, telling us that whatever we are doing at the moment is stupid or meaningless. That our lives are wasted, or will be wasted if we do not perform such and such an action. It feels like we need to create a huge, lasting monument of sorts to have any meaning or worth.

I’ve spent most of my life struggling with that. Even when I was a little kid, I felt like I had to be remembered, to leave a mark on others or on things, in order to matter. That if I didn’t build a pyramid, no one would remember me, and I would therefore be meaningless. After all, we all like sliced bread, but who invented it? (For the record, I looked it up, and Otto Fredrick Rohwedder from Davenport, Iowa [shout out to my Iowa friends!] invented the bread slicer, but that doesn’t mean he was the first one to slice it into slices instead of tearing it….) And, who did build the pyramids? The Hebrew slaves? Egyptians? Aliens? Really industrious desert cats? I know which one I believe, but it is a matter of debate I will not go into here.

And even the pyramids are crumbling into dust.

Does anything last?

Is God the only eternality?

I believe that humanity is created as an eternal being. That all humanity is eternal, whether Christian or not. If this is true, our lives have to have a point, right? What would be the point of living on the earth for the 6 months or 110 years we have if that wasn’t so? Is the point just to consume lots of sliced bread and build a pyramid that will crumble in six thousand years, to reproduce ourselves and try to care for-or not care for as the individual chooses to-the earth or the animals or other people? That whole “Be fruitful and multiply” thing in Genesis?

All of those things fade away.

So, there has to be more.

If the only two things that really last forever are humanity and God, it points to the relationship between them being what is eternally important.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” We are commanded by Jesus to love Him and each other.

Loving requires building a relationship. It requires giving of ourselves, not just throwing a bunch of money at an organization, or buying our kid a Christmas gift, or taking the wife out on a date once a week, or reading our Bible every day, or any other action.

Love is a heart posture. A giving over of oneself. A willingness to bleed out all our compassion and hope and help for someone else, again and again. And again. And again.

And, if we love God and man like that, we are building an everlasting meaning for ourselves by not focusing on ourselves, but by focusing on someone else; not caring about the legacy but building it incidentally. Building something that will last forever. “Love never fails”- love is eternal.

And that is even greater than sliced bread.

Encircling Love- a study of ‘beloved’

Nothing is lukewarm about God- He is are all fire and passion and completeness.    He says we are His Beloved.  What is beloved?

Deuteronomy 13:12  Benjamin: “GOD’s beloved; GOD’s permanent residence. Encircled by GOD all day long, within whom GOD is at home.”

God’s home, surrounded by God.  He surrounds us, always with us.  Encircling like a seraphim…..  Benjamin, the youngest child, the least, the runt of the litter, the bottom, but also the favorite.  The beloved one.  The last son of a prized wife.  One who was born motherless, as his mother gave her life in birthing him.  A picture of how God gave His Son so that I could be reborn into Him.  I am just a little one, but worth His life, worth everything.  He forgave us with His dying breath, just as Benjamin’s mother named him with her last breath. He called us His own with His last breath.  He loved me until the very end, even as I killed Him.

‘beloved’ in this case is from Hebrew ‘dowd’.

H1730 (Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)

H1730 דּוֹד דּוֹד dowd (dode) (or (shortened) dod {dode}) n-m.

1. (figuratively) to love

2. (by implication) a love-token, lover, friend

3. (specifically) an uncle

[from an unused root meaning properly, to boil]

KJV: (well-)beloved, father’s brother, love, uncle. (copied from theword.net)

Beloved- to boil.  To boil with desire, with love, with passion.  TO have so much love infilling that sitting still is impossible; action is required.  He looks on us and sees us and loves us so much that His love drives Him into motion- into sending His Son to die for us, into acting in our lives and protecting us and keeping us from destroying ourselves.

(Rom 9:25 [NET])

As he also says in Hosea: ​​​​​​“I will call those who were not my people,My people,and I will call her who was unloved,My beloved.’”

 

Beloved in this instance is G25 (Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)

G25 ἀγαπάω agapao (ag-ap-ah’-o) v.

1. to love (in a social or moral sense)

{chiefly of the heart (wholehearted, unconditional, devoted) while G5368 is chiefly of the head (feelings, conditional, sentimental)}

[perhaps from agan “much” or Hebrew agab]

KJV: (be-)love(-ed) (copied from theword.net)

 

To love unconditionally, the famous ‘agape’.  He took me from a love that was just of the head in the world, took me out of the world, into a love from Him that is of His heart, eternal.  May we love Him the same!!!

Just the concept of a God Who loves us agape is breathtaking.  He created us, He know all our flaws and ticks and everything we have ever done against Him.  EVERYTHING.  And yet He still loves us.  He still loves me.  That in and of itself sets Him far beyond all other gods.  Far above anything that man can design or dream of.  He is the perfectly obtainable, knowable, loveable unobtainable, unknowable, unlovable God.  Created by none, Creator of all.  He is love, and I am His beloved.