Yeah…I’ve been busybusybusy…in a season of waiting and transition…and stuff. To start off 2017, I want to share this video message with you. My iPad quit recording before I was finished and because I was looking at the camera lens…looking at you…which is at the opposite end from the record indicator, I did not notice. 😜 ((Oops.))
Anyways, the core message is in tact, and you can read the second Scripture address I was sharing about when it cut off.
Oh…and excuse the poor camera presence. I can express myself in writing and have no reservations taking a mic and a stage, but I get reeeeeaaaaallllly uncomfortable recording myself while looking at myself. 😬 Working on that.
Sooooo…in this season of my châzaq (see my previous post), every teaching, reading, song, and Holy Spirit whisper seems to speak of one thing: love. Not the “I looovvve ((COFFEE))” type of love…or the love I have for sister-girlfriends…or even the parent-love I have for our kiddos…God has been talking to me about Agape love…what I call “Lord Love.”
This type of love collides with our common sense and human judgement. It sees beyond masks and reaches beyond appearances and behaviors. It knows no boundaries and is the most powerful and effective and influential tool a Christian has access to possess and use. Like any other gift and Godly character trait beyond salvation, Lord Love must be accessed, possessed, developed, and activated.
Here’s the sad truth…for all the numbers in man’s history who have received the work of Jesus unto salvation, I’m guessing that a sobering, small percentage have moved far beyond the assurance and into the abundance. Let that ruminate a minute if you are offended and resonate a minute if you are convicted…
This love…what is often referred to as “unconditional love”…is a love feast, charity in its translation. Well, what do we know about charity? It is not what our American culture has made it…giving to others what we are comfortable giving…what we feel like giving…when we feel like it…when it makes us feel good…when it makes us look good (ouch)…when the emotion of a circumstance or tragedy is strong and fleeting…on our terms. No, if we look at the ministry of Jesus – Who is the living Agape – charity love isgiving others what they need instead of what we want to give. Charity is seeing beyond those masks and behaviors of other human beings, who were created in the image of God, and into their brokenness, their deepest needs. It is recognizing their need for healing, hearing their life’s groaning for a Savior, caring more about their eternal freedom than our own temporary comfort.
Charity is not convenient and is not comfortable (at first) because it requires us to look beyond the perimeter of “me” and into the soul of another. Just as Jesus did, it may require us to go to the person in need. Charity doesn’t say, “Call me if you need help” or “Go to so-and-so to get this-and-that.” No. Jesus sought out those who had need and met them right where they did life. He extended Himself into the lives of broken people and gave Himself to their greatest need.
Jesus delivered the leper with a touch…something the afflicted man had not experienced in YEARS and probably craved deeply. He not only came close and talked to the leper, but He reached out His own hand and touched the man with tenderness and healing. (Mark 1:35-42)
Jesus delivered the woman at the well with living water. She thought her thirst was physical and practical, but Jesus revealed to her that her true thirst was spiritual and radical. He drew from the well of charity love and satiated her soul with forgiveness and acceptance. (John 4:1-26)
Jesus delivered the grieving mother with the resurrected life of her son. He saw her great grief and was moved to command life take over where death had staked a claim. He reached into this widow’s greatest, deepest level of grief and flooded her with compassion that does more than feel, but does. (Luke 7:11-15)
Faith. Hope. Love. Why is the greatest of these “love?” Well, because love is eternal.
Good News: In Christ, when we are translated from this world into the presence of God, faith and hope will be fulfilled, but love will remain. In the fullness of His presence, love will be mature and eternally lived.
Fatal News: Without Christ, those who are translated from this world receive the wages of their sin by spending forever upon forever separated from the presence of God…and the full knowledge and torment and punishment that they are separated from Him by their own choice. The opportunity for faith is expired. Hope is bankrupted. Love – on creation’s account – is overdrawn.
Love God. ((Our greatest need is Jesus.))
Lord-Love others. ((Their greatest need is Jesus.))
((This is a guest post from a precious, sister-girlfriend who wishes to remain anonymous. I hope this poignant and beautifully raw post reaches in and stirs you as it did me.))
I wouldn’t know where to start with describing myself, but the terms “hermit” and “quiet” have been thrown around a lot. “Salted snail” was once used to describe how I interact with strangers by a dear friend I’ve known since the third grade. For someone who doesn’t know me, I tend to catch them off guard (in some cases scare) when they come across me on a day I’m being loud and goofy. In the same way, they (and even people I’ve known awhile), don’t consider that a person who enjoys quiet and solitude also has moments where they crave company as well.
I can only speak for myself, but I crave and long company the most when I feel like I don’t want to be alone with my own thoughts. I don’t want to use the words “desperate” or “pathetic,” but, mentally and emotionally, that’s how I feel going down the contact list in my phone trying to find a friend to intrude on so I don’t have to be at my own house by myself.
Ironically, it’s these moments when everyone happens to be doing something at the same time or isn’t up for company at the moment. It’s when I need someone the most, I find myself alone and back at the house listening to my dog snore in his sleep.That statement comes off depressing at first, but once I finally sit down, whether I’m trying to listen or not, God always finds a way of speaking to me. When I finally give up the fight of trying to escape both my mind and my house and sit down and just be still, God speaks.
Earlier I said I felt desperate and pathetic when I needed someone else’s company, and I know that stems from knowing I’m being codependent when I’m a person that prefers to be independent. As a believer of God, though, codependent is what I’m supposed to be. Codependent is how we are made. However, in my times of frantically seeking out another person or a different house, I should be going home to my prayer table and Bible and seeking out my God.
Philip Yancey writes in his book A Skeptic’s Guide to Faith that an entomologist named Annie Dillard told him of an experiment where entomologists enticed male butterflies with a painted cardboard replica that was larger and more enticing than the females of their species. Repeatedly, the male butterflies mounted the cardboard painting, and each time, as the male chose the painted replica instead, the living female butterfly opened and closed her wings in vain.
In the next chapter he writes that our Creator seldom imposes Himself upon his own creatures. “It requires attention and effort on our part to ‘remember your Creator,’ because the Creator slips quietly backstage. God does not force his presence on us. When lesser gods attract, God withdraws, honoring our fatal freedom to ignore him.”
These “lesser gods” come to each of us in their own ways, constantly and at all times; the things in our lives we seek out and put first, far before God usually. Whether it be work or money, looks and name brands, a vehicle, TV, food, working out, laziness, or even craving the presence of another person; is God opening and closing His wings in vain as we chase after something that seems larger and more enticing in place of Him?
In a society where we are mostly free to do whatever we want and almost anything is easily available to us, we forget to use our gift of freedom to remember and honor our Creator. With our boredom and freedom, many enterprises and corporations have flourished and profited. There are markets full of beautifully painted replicas cashing in as we continuously mount them while God, the real void-filler and problem-solver, opens and closes His wings for us.