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Jul. 31st, 2014

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"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."  Hebrews 12:1-3

I was complaining to God about the load He had saddled me with, and He asked me the question, after referring to verse 2 here, "Whose joy was it that was set before Me?"  He went on, before I could answer, and asked me if He felt joy on the cross.  God then explained that it was our joy that was set before Him, helping to compel Him to do what was necessary, what was ordained, before the world began even, by going to the cross for us.
Are you being flayed alive?  Has your journey lost its joy; do you wonder where the gooey feelings come in, when you follow Christ?
The joy set before you was never yours.  The joy that comes through obedience, many times, is the joy of others, the joy they will have when you finish your course, when you continue on the path to your destiny, when you obey God and serve Him in the little things.  There was nothing simple nor fun for Jesus when He died on that cross, when He endured the shame heaped upon Him by others.
We gloss over the reality of scripture, at times, glamorizing the sacrifices we make, the hardships we endure, on the way to being Christians in this world.  It's not about you.  It's about others.  It's not about your ministry.  It's about those you minister to.
For the joy set before...you:  put yourself in His shoes, since we were crucified with Him (Romans 6:6), and realize that the Body of Christ is a functioning Body.  This is a corporate thing.  It's not easy serving God, in whatever manner you understand that service to be in this life.  The joy set before Him was our joy.  The joy set before you is for, well...just look around you.
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Jul. 29th, 2014

Loving the Unlovely

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

Sounds great.  Really.  How about loving your enemies?  Family? The in-laws?  What about your online contacts, friends and family who may have stayed in their ideological neighborhood while you moved to a new address?

I find that loving people is easy.  I have told many people that I love them, and I meant it.  And not that rock star "I love you, too" platitude that enlives the audience but makes the knowledgeable want to puke in the aisle, or...in front of the television, on the carpet.  And my love for others is spiritual, because there is NO way I could love people I hardly know unless God had pointed my heart and mind towards them.

Please don't feel bad.  It's not as if I am lovey to y'all, all the time.  I can lose my patience.  I can feel the need to leave your presence, just as you enjoy leaving mine.

No man hateth his own flesh...this is so true.  But I want you to consider that, if we truly are the Body of Christ, then the Body is one unit.  If you poke me in the arm, you poke me.  By extension, if we are the Body, you are poking the Body, when you speak against another, or do something against them.  So loving works in the same way:  we love ourselves...so the reality is we must therefore love each other, since we are the Body of Christ.

This kind of talk drives me up the wall, because it puts the issue right in my face.  I can't turn away from the truth, however, that we are all connected, and that if God so loved the world, then it is possible for us to love one another, in Him.

TWI.  It means "time without incident".  I know that in the midst of all our commenting, liking, and friending, there are friends of friends who don't know us, don't know how we joke, how we talk, how we interact with others, and so there is always the possibility to get hurt by comments made.  In these instances, TWI is a great way to establish walls, without severing relationships (hopefully), in order to be respected and to help others learn how to interact with you successfully, and in a healthy way.  You cross a line, I set a fence up, and let you know.  Time goes by, and it happens again.  So another fence is set up, until you learn boundaries.  Eventually, you will either leave or learn how to respect me (and yourself, really).  It's easy here.  Just delete their comment.  They will know.  They can ask.

Sometimes you have to go further; some folks just think they are right.  I have severed relationships on Facebook, for instance; two people there, people I love and have loved and known most of my life.  Overall, however, I rarely have ever deleted a comment Ihave posted because I know my audience.  When I go on someone's page, I know how far I can go with them.  It's not my responsibility if their friends don't know me.  I just learn to...finesse my comments.  Eating crow isn't always bad, when you add gravy.

Loving the unlovely means that even those closest to you can hurt you.  We all carry secrets, and secret hurts, and even some wounds we aren't even aware of, but linger deep beneath the surface of our lives.  God closed Rachel's womb, but He didn't tell Jacob.  He didn't tell Leah, or even Rachel herself.  You do not know what drives the people who cross your path.  Sometimes your husband or wife, your fathers and mothers, or your friends have issues that are unresolved. Maybe you are the solution.  Perhaps you are to be God's instrument to save them, to help them, to heal them.  You may be His hands extended.

Just so you know...loving the unlovely doesn't always mean you will be loved back.  They are, after all (to you), the unlovely.  That can mean unloving, unwilling to love, and downright mean until the coffin lid closes over them or you.  Sometimes, most times, it is about you, how loving changes you.

The greatest love you can give?  Laying down your life for your friends.  It takes dying to your own flesh, to your own feelings, at times.  Then God added to this by telling us to love our enemies.  I think that covers the "unlovelies" pretty well.

I can go on and on...lol...because God always turns the apple a bit more to show me how little I do love others.  Here on Livejournal, loving the unlovely can mean scripting who sees your posts, your pics, and notes.  Some people get too religious, some people get too liberal, some people just...say crazy things.  Some people sent me a friend request on Facebook because they heard I posted nice pics.  Then I stopped posting pics.  I never hear from them.  lol

Loving the unlovely isn't easy.  It's hard.  It's a divine attribute, since God is love.  So aspire for greater things, a higher calling, and see where it takes you.  When you choose to love, you connect with God, and that is never a bad thing.

Finally...love is NOT a feeling.  It's a choice.  It takes will, it takes fortitude, it takes a mindset to truly love someone.  How do I know this?  Because we have the "unlovelies" in our lives!  It's easy to love someone who loves you back, who is there for you, who goes to bat for you, who sticks with you through thick and thin.  Try loving the one who doesn't love you back, who attacks what you say, who sets his or her will against you at work, in your neighborhood, at school, and even at church.  Love is a choice.  When times are hard, when relationships go into the depths of hell, and your love is tried by fire, choice is what keeps it there.  Anyone can bail.  It takes a choice to stay where you are, to battle through your adversity, to love beyond capability, and to love the unlovely.

There are times in my life where I have had to set barriers between my loved ones and I, where they crossed a line, and I needed to remind them.  Sometimes it gets messy.  You can feel like a hypocrite, and everyone views you as the perpetrator, and not the victim.  But love never fails, even when it is expressed by a temporary wall.

Most of us grow up not understanding love.  We throw the word around, but we don't really understand it.  It is God, really.  God is love.  You want a taste of the Divine?  Love, and strive to love.  Let it take you beyond your comfort zone, and you will go places you have never known before.

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Jul. 14th, 2009

hopscotch box

From God's View

Have you ever wondered what God thinks of us?  We are His creation, we were created for His pleasure (which is more than some generic 'lifting His name up in the Earth").  When He watches us, what does He think? 

To be more specific, what does God think about our terminology, when we use words such as my "religion", my "faith", my "beliefs".  Not too long ago, politicians pushed away from the topic of telling the nation what they believed, wanting to use the limp excuse of "separation of church and state", and that it was a private thing.  Then, after a couple decades of avoiding the subject, they turned and embraced it in our last election.
What I want to explore has nothing to do with politics, but with God's view on religion.  To Him, He is life, He is the impetus behind our faith, our religion, our beliefs.  It isn't a separate topic to Him.  It is life, since He created all life.  I say I am a Christian, but it goes much deeper than that for me.  Christ is life to me.  I don't separate Sundays from the other days of the week, in terms of connecting with God.  God is an everyday relationship for me.  I don't visit Him like I would the in-laws, or have Him over for dinner once a week, or a month, or on religious holidays.
I believe God wants us to view Him as our life, not a small part of it.  I also believe that we would benefit greatly in adopting this mindset, myself included.  God isn't a part of my religion, He is a part of my life, and not in some segregated box I keep around to ward off zealous folks who like to poke around.
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Apr. 19th, 2009

The Demise of Christianity, and The Rise of God


If we are to believe the April 13, 2009 edition of Newsweek, with it's cover spread entitled, "The Decline and Fall of Christian America", our way of life is about to change here in America.  We are on the brink of the end of religious freedom in America, a right given us in our Constitution, given to us by God, and therefore near the end of free expression of our faith as believers. (I still find it odd that non-Christians can disagree with us, but we will not be able to disagree with them)

I am told there is now legislation in place, ready to be passed, unable to be opposed, that will label the denouncement of homosexual practices and ideology as a hate crime.  So we will see shortly how long believers will be able to speak their minds before being sent to whatever form modern-day society chooses to be our lions.  What else will I no longer be free to say in our new, post-Christian society?

As I think about it, those early believers lived in a society dominated by a country where homosexuality, promiscuity, and the persecution of Christians were commonplace.  They saw the debauchery that thrived around them every day.  So I should not be shocked, and I am not, in the coming obliteration of my rights as a U.S. citizen.

So as we see the demise of Christianity looming on our near horizon, I have this to offer those who would still believe, and those who would like nothing better than liberal chaos to reign:  the only real signs of Christianity are love, forgiveness, and power.  The early Christians lived in an atmosphere of power, and miracles were commonplace, everyday fare for them.  Do you want to bloom where you were planted, in these United States of America?

I am not promising you a long life, or even a life free of the bars of prison.  If you believe, I promise you power, if you seek it, if you love your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul.  If you place Him above your family and your freedom and opinion, I promise you power.  I can do this, because He already has.  I am just repeating what His Word says.  It is a promise of God I want to live in, to express in this world.

Our society has long lambasted Christians, particularly pentecostals, because their message never lined up with their lives, for the most part.  But overall, it was the absence of power, of miracles, in our daily lives, that created the climate we live in.  Do you want to see God rise in our nation again?  Do you want to see His name lifted up for all to see, to experience His presence in a mighty way?

Power is your path.  Not for earthly gain, not for revenge, but for love.  For love of our country, our countrymen, our world, for God to receive His just glory, power is necessary.  As Christians all over our nation get ready to either shut up or glut the jails and prisons to overflowing, ask for power.  Leave all your denominational dogma behind, hold to the basic truths of love, forgiveness, and the law of liberty, which keeps us pure, and reach for Christ, and Christ alone.

"Greater works than these..."  This is the promise of our Lord, and yet in our world today there are no reports of miracles breaking out, nothing that can be shown to the world as the undeniable imprint of a sovereign Creator on humanity.  We have power, but we do not use it, we do not believe in it, we have settled for a "sinner, saved by grace" mentality that only helps to keep us afloat, instead of swimming in the deep waters of God's immense ability.

I, for one, want to swim in deeper waters.  I want power, not to dominate, but to love, and to show the world who the real God of this world is:  Jesus Christ.

Sep. 14th, 2008

Writer's Block: The Meaning of Freedom

I see freedom as being able to speak what I believe, whatever I believe, and not having it reduced to a simplistic form of hate speech by liberals.  I see freedom as being able to worship as I believe, as long as I am not physically impacting others by my beliefs.  Our forefathers laid down laws protecting these freedoms, with religious freedom and expression being at the top of the list.

To have the liberal sector of our society manipulate public opinion through the media is unconscionable; they white-wash all conservative interpretations of our nation's constitution as being biased and narrow.  With the notable exception of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, the authors of our constitution wanted a clear-cut message about religious worship not being controlled by the government.
Today we are being bullied by liberal forces bent on trying to separate individual morality from public service and expression.  Up until this election, the religious views of political candidates were squelched and avoided, mistakenly being labeled as a violation of church and state.  Oddly enough, because Democratic candidates are trying to woo conservative Christians to align with them, they suddenly have done an 'about-face', wanting to express their religious views in a public manner.
The truth is that no one can govern outside their personal views.  It is impossible.  You are what you believe.  Any view otherwise is ludicrous.
My view of freedom will always be framed by what I am allowed to believe and espouse publicly, without fear of reprisal.  This means being able to say others are wrong, and I am right, when our views mix in the public arena.

Freedom means I can say I disagree without being labeled as a hater, or 'phobic'.
What does freedom mean to you?

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