How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ... 1 John 3:1 NIV
Yesterday, I spoke of 4 barriers to love that we all face. I mentioned the first barrier of loving is that you cannot really truly love anybody the way God wants you to until you first know the full extent of who are you in God. You are a child of God! We are called to love like God loves, and God's love is a parental love. I have been blessed with having two wonderful children whom I love dearly. Although I am not able to have children of my own, God has blessed with the opportunity thru my step children to understand the full extend of what it means to love like a father. I love my step children as my own. There is no wrong they can do that will prevent me from loving them.
I remember a time when my daughter was a teenager, and going thru the teenage phases of growing up and finding herself. Those years were...to say the least, trying at times. But I remember an incident where she told me, "She hated me." If you are a parent you probably can relate. As does our father God! I looked at her and said, "That is her choice, but she cannot stop me from still loving her." She was absolutely dumb founded and responded by saying, "well I don't want your love." I told her, my love is not a choice she gets to make or control." For the first time in my life, I understood what a fathers love means.
This is the love God has for you and until you realize that you are a child of God and that you don't get to control his choice of loving you unconditionally, you will never be able to love someone else in the same manner as God loves you. We are programmed to love unconditionally; however, the world preaches a different a message. The world teaches us to love another so long as we benefit in some capacity...be it pride or recognition. The world does not teach us to love another with your life. The world teaches, your life is more valuable to you then to the world. As a parent, I can say I would be willing to lay my life down for my children. I tell you their life is truly more valuable then mine. I have yet to come across a parent that feels differently.
The love we have for our children is how we are to love others. We are to base our love for others not on what they do for us, but for the simple fact that we do for them because we love them. I didn't stop loving my daughter when she told me she hated me. I didn't stop doing for her because she stopped doing for me. I didn't stop being there for her. I simple continued to show my love until she came around and realized it. Too many Christians say the love God. Yet their actions towards others say they recognize God, but don't accept his love. And they certainly don't follow his example. I know this harsh to say, but is the truth. If it were not, the world would be much different then it is today. You can't follow an example you don't understand. You can't go and love they way we are called to love others if you don't understand what the really means.
I encourage you to reflect on God's love for you. God’s example of love is absolutely unconditional. He loves you regardless of your reciprocal love back to him. His love for you does not change him being there for you. I encourage in REACTING2PURPOSE you choose to follow the example set forth by God. Love is not just on Sunday’s it is 24/7 for others; thru the good times and the bad times. Thru the hurts, pains and heart breaks. Don't think for a second, when my daughter told me she hated me, my heart didn't break. It did! But I choose to love like a father. Unconditionally!
REACTING2PURPOSE, Acting in love...
Jesus replied, " If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:23 NIV
The commandments of Jesus are simple. Love! Simple right! Or is it really? If love is so simple then why do Christians act the way they do towards one another. Why is our country so morally and ethically corrupt? Majority of the people in the US profess to be Christians. So our country should be a shining example of love right. Ahh...but it's not.
I've been spending some time really studying the idea of love. It sounds so simple, but so difficult to apply. I believe you will find by reading today’s blog, much like I found in my own life, the application of love is extremely difficult because of a few barriers. I believe that if you realize these barriers and can work thru them, you will be free to truly to love.
These are the barriers I have found in my own life and might add....continue to struggle with. I recognize them, make extremely conscious efforts to work thru them, so please don't think I have it all figured, because I don't. I struggle with pushing myself to work thru the barriers of love.
1. You cannot really truly love anybody the way God wants you to love until you first know the full extent of who you are in God. God is the foundation for love, and you we are called to love like him yet we can't love like God if we
don't first understand how much God loves us. If God is the example, and you don't understand the example, how can you follow the example? You can't...it's that simple.
2. You will never be happy until you invest the commidity of love into other people’s lives. No amount of money or stuff will make you happy the way loving other people will. The investment of love is an investment that only goes up with interest. It is a guaranteed investment. A sure bet you can take to the bank. I personally struggle with loving other people as much as I should. I know I am called to, but if we are real with one another, it can be difficult to love someone you don't get along with or who rubs you the wrong way. The struggle is looking past the fact of how I feel and focusing on serving the other person.
3. If I am so busy focusing on other people who will take care of me? This is one of the Satan's favorite questions to ask. It is not difficult to occasionally love someone. We all have "projects of love" we are involved with...you know the type I am talking about. A special cause comes around, you throw a few bucks at it, and then sit back and feel good about what you did, all the while you look at the real soldiers of love who have their hands on the net of the "special cause" and you realize something deeper is missing. You justify the deeper missing feeling with, who will take care of me if I take care of them. You justify your time and your money. Here's the deal today, I am guiltly of this as much as the next person. The world has trained us to be self sufficient, and unreliant on God. If we have the means to take of something ourselves then we should, why should we trust in God, when we can be God. We you focus on others with all your heart and fight Satan's favorite question, you open yourself up to be taken care by the ultimate provider. While you are taking care of others, God will be taking care of you. Can I tell you today, that there is no better care taker in life then God.
4. You have to live your life ministry showing love not just on Sundays or on special occasions. It has to be all the time and it has to start at home! There are already enough fake Christians showing love on Sundays while at church and then cussing at someone while trying to pull out of the parking lot. There are too many fake Christians showing love to their pastor when the message is on point while in the same breath cursing the pastor for taking an extra five minutes on the offering. This "love" on Sundays is not love but the actions are focusing on "how good do I look in front of others" when your actions of love is focusing on looking good to others you "actions of love" are centered on pride. That’s right...I said it! Too, many Christians are trying to look good and be acknowledged by someone else as be "loving" The same goes for pastors. Don't think that a pastor is excluded from this. We are called to a higher standard, not called to be elevated to higher standard by others. Love starts at home with your family. I am not talking about love in the sense of I love you honey but rather my love is displayed by service to you. My love is based not what you can do for me, but what I can do for you. You have to have a mentality of serving your wife/husband. When was the last time you washed your wife/husband's feet? When was the last time you served your family without complaining? Love has to start at home.
Please know that like you I struggle with love. We all do. Look around at life and it is clear that we are not loving others they way God loves us. If we did, the world would be dramatically different. I encourage you to pray to God about these four points on love. You will find like I did, these are road blocks. Will you ever be perfect, I don't believe so. I believe that all we can do is recognize what prevents us from loving the way God loves us and move forward fighting thru these barriers. This is REACTING2PURPOSE in the rawest form.
REACTING2PURPOSE, Writing in love...
"I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other town also, because that is why I was sent." (This is Jesus talking) Luke 4:34 NIV
It is hard to leave someplace where miracles are happening, lives are being changed, and you fit in like a glove on hand. This is when going and doing God's work becomes really tough. Especially if you have experienced a lot of rejection in the past, leaving a place your welcomed, wanted, needed and valued is like asking for the impossible to be done. This is exactly how Jesus felt in Luke 4:31-44. Jesus was the man in Capernaum. He was teaching people, healing people, driving out demons, he had a recognized spiritual authority, and the people honored him and desired him as they tried to keep him from leaving. Say What! Leaving!
Jesus knew that you cannot reach the people if you are stationary in one place. The only way to reach people is leave. Yesterday, I talked about leaving people when your efforts to witness are having no effect. Today we are talking about leaving people when your efforts to witness to people do have an effect. Notice how hard it is to leave in both scenarios. This is what we are called to do. How selfish do we need to be to withhold the good news of Jesus Christ to people who so desperately need to hear it, because we are in the zone, where we are at and don't want to leave.
Jesus experienced these same feelings of not wanting to leave the people, but that he must. Leaving, boils down to focusing on others more than focusing on yourself. If there was life changing news that you desperately needed to hear, and I had that news but didn't want to come to you and tell you, what does that really say about how I profess to love you. Do you get what I am getting at? I hope you do? Satan is great at manipulating our feelings in such a way that causes our eyes to be taken off the ball. Sure we are doing Gods work, just doing it Satan's way. Can I tell you today, there is a big difference between doing God's work God's way and God's work Satan's way. Satan's way may appear to be godly, and may appear to be helping people. After all, this is really what Satan wants...that is to be recognized as God. However, Satan's way in the end... involves pain, suffering and lives unchanged because the messengers of Christ never made it to their destinations.
Jesus told us to, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15 NIV) Jesus never said, go to a place where you are wanted, desired, loved, have a lot of friends and fit in and reach those people and then never leave to reach anybody else. Leaving is hard. God knows this. Jesus experienced this. When the time comes, Jesus will say to you, my child I can relate to how you are feeling. But the joyous feeling of being involved in the miracle of life change is so much greater then the pain of leaving a place you fit in.
REACTING2PURPOSE, Just say next!
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. Matthew 10: 14-15 NIV
I am going to make a statment that may shock you. You may even find it offensive in your believe of expecting more from a pastor. Are you ready? Jesus never tried to help someone who didn't want to be helped. Jesus never begged someone to accept him. When a person rejected him, he didn't go after that person trying to change their mind. Do you know how Jesus responded...he left. He left the person, and the area when he was rejected.
As a Christian you can't live on dessert alone. To grow in your walk means you have to be confronted with the word and rejection to the word. I bet you can think of a person that you have been trying to witness to for years. You ask them every weekend to come to church. You try to talk to them about God and how God is moving in your lfie. You reach out to help them in any way you can because you feel that maybe one day, they will choose to accept Jesus into their life and all your efforts and suffering for this person will have been worth it. Yes! I said suffering. We all have someone or a few someones in our life like that. Usually they are a family member, which only makes it worse for us because we a special different kind of love for family then we do others. So we justify to ourselves, we love that person and therefore we must stay in the battle with that person...for the sake of our love.
That person you are trying to reach, calls and you feel obligated as a Christian to drop what your doing, leave your family and go and help. No matter what the cost is to you. And here is the best part. You tell yourself this what Jesus would do, all the while you are struggling with not really wanting to be there helping that person in the first place. You probably can't stand their attitude, of which your family notices has a bearing on your attitude whenever you're around that person. You may even notice that your efforts to reach that particualr person seems to bring more strife into your life than your efforts to reach them brings peace and love into their life. That person your trying to reach enjoys your efforts for their pleasure and gain, and you think that if you stop trying to reach them they will look at you as being less of a Christian. Guess what, your right. Odds are they probably will! You can't lead someone to Jesus that doesn't want to be lead to Jesus.
Where did you ever get the idea that Jesus said, stay and don't leave. Keep trying and trying. That idea is a twisted idea from Satan, trying to make you think what your doing is right when all the while, God has millions of people that would welcome you with open arms, and accept the message you have to say about Jesus and his love.
So why do stay and not leave? Because we are afraid of rejection. To move in the right steps towards your purpose you have to be willing to shake the dust off your feet. Leave the rejection behind and move on because the past rejection has no bearing on future acceptance. You are not less of a person because you get rejected by someone when trying to share your faith with them. As a matter of fact you are more of a person, because you did something most Christians won't even attempt to do. That is share your faith. Remember, it is ok to leave, you may not be the person called to reach the person you're trying to reach. You plant the seed and then leave, God will water it.
REACTING2PURPOSE, Just say next!
In addition to all his this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flamming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16 NIV)
How dented is your shield?
This is the last in a four part series on being a Warrior For God and being Comabt Ready. Any modern day warrior who goes to war wears a shield. The shield is what protects the body. The sword takes the life, the shield preserves the life. Your shield is part of your body armor. Your shield in addition to the breastplate of righteousness is part of the full armor of God. To go to battle without your body armor on is simply a foolish idea, one worth of death.
So I ask...how dented is your shield? Let me ask the question like this...How strong is your faith? What a powerful question! Too many Christian brothers and sisters are full on religion and low on faith. Where do you stand? When was the last time you had faith in God... enough to let God validate your faith? This is what happens as ChristIans, we get tired of waiting on God to act on behalf of our faith, so we decide to move God to the side and fight battles in our lives on our own terms and in doing so, act as God of our own life. Here is what happens when we act as God of our own life...our shield of faith in God gets dented. With enough dents over time, our shield of Faith becomes ineffective at perserving our life. Our shield of faith is useless because it is nonexistent, as we have over time replaced our shield of faith in God to our shield of faith in ourselves. The enemy looks at our shield of faith and tests it to determine if our faith is in God or in ourselves. When the enemy finds that your faith is really in you and not in God (not saying you don't believe in God, as there is a difference between belief and faith) he knows how to attack because he knows you have no way to protect yourself.
Let me tell you a secret the enemy knows...your faith in yourself and your abilities is really an invisible shield only you can see and nobody else can...and heres the truth of this fact that Satan knows, everybody else who can't see your shield is right. Because the sad matter is this, you don't have a shield your carrying other than in your mind. And your mind is Satan's battle ground. It is a battle ground Satan knows better than other battle ground. He has set more land minds and more traps in the battle ground of your mind than any other battle ground.
If you find your shield of faith, pray now to God to strengthen your faith. To give you the patience to wait on God to validate your faith. Have you noticed how easy it is to have faith in God, when you have zero control over a circumstance or situtation? For example, waiting on God for life saving healing. Your shield becomes dented when you have the ability to influence the outcome thru intervention.
Today I am going to leave this blog open for comments. I welcome them with open arms and pray for a renewed faith in Christians everywhere.
A Warrior in Arms, REACTING2PURPOSE
"Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17 NIV)
How sharp is your sword?
Have you ever tried to cut something with a dull knife? It doesn't work out so well. The same is true with being "A Warrior For God, and being Combat Ready" If your sword is dull, your effectiveness in combat is dull. Way back in the day when it was common to carry a sword, the sheath the sword was in was lined with stone. In the movies you get the "shing" sound when a sword is drawn from its sheath. That "shing" sound is the blade of the sword sliding against the stone on the inside of the sheath. Back in the day, you could tell how regularly a sword was drawn by how sharp it was. The more a sword was drawn from it's sheath the sharper the sword.
So back to the original question...how sharp is your sword? Your sword is the word of God. The word of God is the best weapon you have against enemies you face in combat. If you dont' know the word of God, your carrying around a dull sword; for some of you, your in battle without your sword at all!
You have to regularly call upon the word of God, even when your not in a combat zone. You have to regularly call upon the word of God simply to sharpen your sword.
I used to police officer back in the day, and one of the exerices we used to practice was drawing our weapon from our holster. We did this thousands of times. The reason...was so that the act of drawing our weapon was second nature to us. It is called building muscle memory. Over time, I accomplished two things when drawing my weapon. I became faster at it, and it no longer felt akward. The same principle applies when drawing your sword...the word of God.
It is critical as a Warrior for God to draw your sword daily, to build your muscle memory. To become quicker at drawing your sword for battle and so that you don't feel akward doing it. If it helps, think of it this way... The last person to draw their sword or weapon in my case as a former police officer, was thefirst person to die.
REACTING2PURPSOE, A Warrior in Arms....
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, " We should go up and take possesssion of the land, for we can certainly do it."
But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." And they spread among the Israelites a bad report abou the land they had explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak com from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them." (Numbers 13:30-33 NIV)
Do you have the scars to prove you have faced previous battles successfully or have you run from past battles?
To successful REACT to your purpose requires battles. To fullfill your purpose requires battles scars. These scars show you have been thru it. Notice in the verses above that Caleb was ready to go to battle with giants to fullfill the purpose and promise God had given him and the Isrealites. However, his fellow soldiers opted to flee instead of fight. The choices you make in the moments before battle shows the character of your relationship with God. Do you believe in the promise and purpsoe God has for your life is worth the fight you are facing or getting ready to face? Is your faith in God greater than the size of the advesary you are facing?
As a warrior, you need to be combat ready. To fully step into your purpose you need to be battle proven. The same is true for who you connect yourself with while aligning yourself and your life to your purpose. You may soon find yourself looking at your fellow soldiers and realizing they don't have any battle scars. You have to ask yourself, is this really the group of warriors I want to be in battle together with? Are my friends in life really the warriors I can count on?
Think about how Caleb must have viewed his fellow soldiers after they wimped out on the battle for God. You may find that you have some major changes to make in your life for you to begin to fully REACT to your purpose for you life. Do not be afraid of change. Change is sometimes the first step in right direction on the road to your purpose.
Don't be afraid of the battles or the giants you may be facing. Choose to stand up on the front lines and fight. Your purpose for your life is your promised land. The battles you go thru while on your way to your purpose makes you stonger to survive in your purpose.
REACTING2PURPOSE, Warrior in Arms...
Every Christian must be able to, at a moments notice, stand ready for battle. It is not a matter of if you will need to fight, but when, and how often. For some the fight is daily, for others a bit more sparatic. Whether you have to fight often or not is not the question. The question is are you ready for the fight? How are your battle skills? Do you have the scars to prove you have faced previous battles successfully or have you run from past battles? How sharp is your sword? How dented is your shield?
How are your battle skills?
If you ask any military person, they will tell you without hesitation that as a requirement for survial in combat they must rigoriously maintain their battle skills. How they REACT to certain situtations must become muscle memory where it is second nature to respond a specific way. As a Christian you have to continually practice your battle skills for your survival as a Christian. There are only two ways to practice your battle skills. Either you go to battle often, or you practice in simulated battle. For Christians we don't have the luxury to practice our battle skills on the play ground in a simulated environment.
Our only option is the "real deal". This means for our battle skills to become second nature, to become programmed muscle memory for us, we have to go to battle often. Everytime the enemy presents it's self we have to willing to go and fight. This is the only way to improve your battle skills. Will there be scars, and pain, and hurts...absolutely! But you won't grow until you experience pain. As a Christian fighitng on the front lines for Jesus, ask yourself this question, do you want a seasoned combat veteran by your side? Somone who has the battle scars like you? Someone who has been thru the pain and hurt like you? Or do you want a Christian that consistantly runs from the battlefield when its time to fight leaving you on the front lines alone?
I encourage you to choose today to stand and fight and fight often. Pray to God to send you to battle daily.
Warrior In Arms...
I am so excited to be launching REACTION Church in Gainesville, Va. This is my first official blog post other than the REACTION Church blog. I am stoked about the possibilies to come and to surf the wave of God moving in our area. I know lives are going to be changed thru a Radical new approach to church. Think contemporary on steriods. I feel God has laid on my heart to rebuild some walls and that is exactly what we are going to be doing. So buckle up world, change is coming.
The focus is purpose! I believe everyone is predestined with a purpose for your life from God. With this fact said, way too many people simply live life with no idea of what their purpose is. Yet deep within the bowels of who they are they have a voice that crys out and says "there must be more to this world than the way I am living." Let me be the first to tell you...there is more to life. You have a purpose!
I believe too many churches today tell you this and then never move to Step 2. Step 2 is where all the action is at. Even Jesus didn't send the disciples out to reach the world until after three years worth of discipling the disciples. There is a process that has to happen for your purpose to become real. Step 2. is stepping into the "being discipled process" Only then, after being discipled yourself can truly become the discipler God has called you to be.
God has laid on my heart to help people thru the process of being discipled into disciplers. If you are lost and feel empty on the inside, if you are seeking something more, the REACTION is to be like the first disciples. Drop what your holding on to and follow Jesus.