Heartfull

Here, you’ll experience human love, service, care, concern,  kindness. Not as often as we’d like but it does happen. Yet, underlying all that is a level of self. Do you understand what I’m alluding to? The ever-present part of us that can’t help but think of ourselves not even for a microsecond. Ok, let’s say you see a person in need, instinctively,  you respond with compassion. Maybe in that moment you are not aware of yourself, but what happens if they are ungrateful? Or indifferent? What if it remains that way and you’re never appreciated or acknowledged.  How long would you keep it up?  What if you knew that before you got involved? The first time, I may overlook, but I won’t be void of any self thoughts. Right? Those thoughts influence my next steps.

Parenting is like that. Right now you’re thinking, hey, I give and give to my children because I love.  But be honest,  you’re still susceptible to self thoughts. You’re not that selfless. Maybe you’re a super human and you’re consistently good at putting yourself aside. So, I’m assuming. Still, I doubt it.

-But- God isn’t that way.  He never thinks, “your past, current or future thoughts, actions,  behavior,  low response levels, etc. affect how I feel about you, therefore, I’m going to adjust my love accordingly ”  THAT is human behavior.  Do not superimpose that on Him.

From a recipient standpoint, this is awesome news!  If I ended this blog post with that, then I would be giving you half the story.  As true as it is that God has phenomenal love for us that has no parallel, the one who responds to it, is required to emulate that same love.  That is the hard news inside the Good News.  It is difficult because unlike God, our profession and our actions are inconsistent.  The incongruity is due to our inability to completely and permanently remove our self from our love.  Our love is sharing space with our selfs. There’s kind of a gap there because they can’t mix. (When I say “self” I don’t mean loving yourself.  That has to do with our understanding of our value in God’s eyes.)  I am referring to self(ish). The me factor. If that’s the way it is, how can we ever truly love fully?  I don’t think we can even if we proclaim it over and over.  But I do believe we can love to the best of our ability as we respond to Jesus’ Love:

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (He washed the disciple’s feet)

 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:1+7

Why that verse? Jesus knew that the time had come and He knew the outcome, the beautiful and the ugly. He decides to follow through anyway, but right before he serves mankind,  He serves His fellow man. With the feet washing.  That is an act of loving fully.  He didn’t think,  I’m already going to die for them. That’s enough. Jesus loved to His greatest capacity. And He did it knowing full well our hearts.  Neither Jesus nor God had a contingency plan if we all didn’t respond. They were going to go through with this no matter what. It was always the plan.  I know this because:

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” 2 Timothy 1:9

It is a very complete plan.  We receive His Love and He has a holy life for us.  The Holiness does not come from any self-manufactured decision to repent.  It comes from God’s Love that already loved fully, but now it goes beyond that and steps in the space between our genuine love and our selfs. He gives us the capability to take our receptive heart and do the things in us that were never possible before, even selfless love.

“Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

You say, “I will love unconditionally and without reservation. I will give my soul to it whole and I will follow John 13:34-35.  I will, I will….”  But you can’t do it perfectly without God interjecting on you behalf.  He is our Love when ours falls short.  I really do think, as a disciple, we WANT to love.  We WANT to use it all up.  We won’t ever, technically, not even on our premium spiritual days.  Protest this, if you want, I don’t care.  Grace testifies to what I am saying.  Yet, if we give our hearts completely to God, He, Himself is the way to Loving Fully.

…if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

John 4:12

Love Always (and Fully)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underwater

This was the  poem/prayer I composed at 3 am this morning.

It would have been so much easier to have converted from human flesh to a spiritual vessel, at the point of being born again.  But that didn’t happen.  So, here I am, still stuck in this flesh.  It’s a constant reminder of the weakness of my humanity.  It is also the reason I am heavily dependent on Grace. The last few days, though, I’ve so wanted to be inundated by God; to have Him be the barrier between me, and the rest of this world, because I am tired of the barrage.  It’s non-stop bombardment.  It gets tiresome.  I know the only reason I will ever make it to the end is the presence of Jesus and His Spirit that sustains when the rest of me just wants to go.  It’s not that this life isn’t beautiful.  It is.  Very. But it also is rife with so much that isn’t.  I had this thought:  If we could drown in God’s Goodness, then we would be completely surrounded and we’d swim in Him.  The sound of the rest would be muffled.  That is exactly what I want.  Do you know why?  Once we become new in Christ, we are incompatible with the earth and yet ironically we inhabit a very earthly body.  I am hoping that with this prayer, I will experience an immersion into God that will give me the shielding and the life environment that I need if I have to stick around here for a while.

“If His Grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking…” How He Loves, David Crowder

That is the truth. So, if He is all encompassing, then I’m saying, “Do it, Lord.”

God uses water as a symbolism of washing, renewal, and life.  It’s everywhere in the Scriptures.  The culmination of water as our Hope is in John 4:14.

–“Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

That is it right there; The never-ending coverage of water that can keep us alive here and then, forever.  But right now, I’m waiting on that submersion so it takes out a lot of the things that I don’t necessarily want to deal with right now.  The sinful things, overwhelming things, the temptation and the things that seem untouchable.   You know what I mean.  Drown me, Lord.

 

Love Always.

Losing My Religion

I haven’t actually, not completely. I’m trying to. The rituals & practices are mostly gone, but the guilt remains. It’s all tangled up in the religious code that I haven’t been able to completely eradicate. I have the knowledge that is found in the Word, which frees me from all religiosity.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;” Gal 5:1.

I am also convinced that this freedom is strictly Love based.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8

So, I know intellectually, that I do not have to “do” anything to be loved by Him. Yet, He hopes & desires that I live in Love with Him & consequently the other people on this planet I affect.

“You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Gal 5:13

I get all of this but there are still parts of me that live in religion. Maybe the vestiges of my time in legalistic organizations. It is most obvious when it comes to sin, morality. Yesterday was a guilt day. The guilt is the alarm. I just need to move past it into repentance. I also need to grow up in Grace. I don’t know exactly how to live with Guilt & Grace. I don’t want to lean on one or the other unhealthily. This is what I’m learning & trying to mature in without letting religion influence my understanding. The leftover religion wants to remind me of all my sin, so Guilt rules. Then I feel that I have to do ____.  Some kind of act or prayer or confession. I completely realize how spiritually stupid that sounds but this is the religion in me trying to alleviate the guilt but also repent. Grace, though, triggers a heart change that isn’t dependent on guilt. You’d think I’d have this down by now. Still, even in my weakness, I’m relying on His Grace to help me leave religion behind & ensure that I don’t find it again.

“God has us where he wants us…to shower grace & kindness upon us in Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it.We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging…No, we neither make nor save ourselves.God does both the making and saving” Eph 2:7-10

Love Always❤❤❤

God ‘s Great Goodness.

Good is difficult to define. The synonyms are just not exact matches. Maybe contrast is better. Good vs. Bad or Good vs. Evil. The comparison helps. With regards to God, he is nothing but Good. He is Good in every-single-way. He is Perfect Good and He is overflowing in it. Evil and Bad do not exist in Him. He is completely void of anything that falls under those categories.

That seems so elementary, but you can’t tell me there were never times you questioned His Goodness. You did or you do when you don’t trust Him, or you assume your hardship is His punishment. Or you have your own plan because His just doesn’t cut it. I’ve had those thoughts go through my heart and mind. I’ve tried to bypass Him when I felt like He wasn’t “good enough.” I’m guilty of it even today. But it doesn’t matter how I feel, or what I think I know. He is not setting me up for a fall. His Good might hurt, but it is not harmful. So, I tell myself this because I forget sometimes, how incredibly Good He is.

What is His Good, then? It’s Kindness, Faithfullness, Hope, Patience, Sacrifice, Forgiveness, Truth, Grace, Mercy, Wisdom, and all of it stemming from Love. These are the real synonyms of Good and these are His attributes which He demonstrates unfailingly and flawlessly to everyone. – You couldn’t exaggerate it even if you tried.

“The LORD is good to everyone.” Psalm 145:9a

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

“the LORD is good and his love endures forever; ” Psalm 100:5

——

I’m sharing this because they’re my thoughts and my conviction about God. But I am not invulnerable to doubt or frustration with faith.

Social media is malleable when it comes to our image. We can present pretty much any angle that we want. I hope I don’t come across as perfect. Yet, I am careful about what I post, to not appear in an unfavorable way. So, you know, today, I’m just going to be honest. I do not have everything I want. God hasn’t handed me the answer to every prayer. There are some things I don’t understand and though, I’m a positive person and in the very center of #%^@& situations, I’m still going to fulfill my purpose. But yesterday, was a day where I kinda broke. It took every bit of my will to make myself go to work and face my obligations. God didn’t get great prayers or beautiful worship from me. I was just questioning Him and I had a lot of anguish over His non answers, which really are “no” or “not now”. And, guess what? There are no better answers today. So, I read my own post on Squigglyword and I teach myself again. He can’t be Loving and not Good. Also, God’s good isn’t mine to define. I have to believe it is the utmost Good because He is Good…and live in that truth.

He is Good Always. ????

You’re Already Here

“Come near to God and he will come near to you.”  James 4:8

Pastor Lee invited me to guest write on his Instagram ministry account. He provided the photo image (he’s a photographer), I wrote the quote and the message. That was kind of fun. The message is below:

▪”Draw near.” I searched the Greek word in this verse to see what it actually means.

ἐγγιεῖ means: to draw near.

I thought I’d find some deep spiritual variation of that concept. But, it is translated exactly how it is meant. So, I went back to the verse to understand what it truly says. When we get close to God, He does the same. Would that mean that He was away until we drew near? No. He NEVER MOVED. We are the ones who travel. At the moment we desire closeness, and begin to move in, He makes sure to close the gap. Even though, He is right where he’s always been, He doesn’t just stay in one place and let us travel the whole distance. But I can’t get near looking toward the things that distanced me in the first place. I have to let them go. The end of that verse reads:

“Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

It sounds harsh, but that is because those things separate us from Him and if they continue to pull on us, we’ll stay away.

The beautiful thing is that He isn’t that far even while we are wrestling with these things.

“…that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,”
Acts 17:27

He is always poised to move in our direction. We need to take the first step.▪

@pastorfromdownunder on Instagram.

Love Always ???

Strength, Song, Salvation

After I made this and framed it,  I thought I’d have a profound and meaningful post to go with it. But, I don’t. I can’t add any more layers to that snippet of Scripture. I think it pretty much expresses what I want to say without expounding unnecessarily.

At church, the “Praise Project” was announced 3 weeks ago. The church wanted to give anyone the opportunity to express artistically, a verse, thought, prayer, that resonated spiritually with them. The church will then display these pieces on Easter. I debated creating anything. I felt a little prompting to make something,  but this verse isn’t even a favorite.  I actually looked for a verse that started with “The”. I was more concerned with the layout versus the content.  I’m sure I’ll get asked what this verse means to me. Up until Tuesday, it didn’t mean anything, really. Not in the sense that I consciously associated it with anything in my life personally.  But here it is. So, I read and re-read it. I still don’t have anything to add to it’s message,  LOL. It’s perfect,  the way it is.

Everything that it says, I will say is true for me.  He definitely is my Strength. I could have never made it to this point, without Him.  I tried; I have given a lot of my strength to the pursuit of loving God, but, I’m still weak, even in my best moments. He is worthy,  but in the past,  I have given my heart to the here and now. When I was in the midst of it, nothing else could make as much sense as what I felt at the moment.  I was all in, and completely engrossed. During all of it, He was the harmony. He was the sweet music. Nothing ever sounded better. In the end, He came in and saved me. I tried. I wanted to be His, but I had moments that I gave in to my wants and desires. How would I ever inherit salvation if He didn’t purposefully swoop in and rescue me? I’d have missed the beauty and the adventure.  He never intended for me to forego that.  So, He will always be my strength, my song and my salvation.

Love Always❤❤❤

Centered

The rest of the lyrics may be off, but this line….
This is how I feel about You…

If I try and find another center, I lose You. I’m no longer in Your orbit and I’m lost. I don’t want to veer, but I’ve done it. It never works out. Away from You, I’m no longer oriented and I try to find another way to get stability but it’s impossible since there is no other. If I could undo the moments that pulled me away,  I would.  Yet, those times never affected how You feel about me.  You made every effort to have me gravitate back towards You. I think my wide arc couldn’t sever the pull,  though,  because, Your Love is so great. This is why,  I love You. You never stop drawing and pulling and attracting us to You. You’ve done all kinds of things to accomplish this and I’m so blessed that You have. Otherwise, I’d be adrift without Love and without hope. I’d disentergrate and I would not be capable of recovering. You are the very Center, help me to revolve around You, because, I know, You hold us, You keep us together, You wait for me when I break off in my distraction, You keep me from falling apart. All the beauty and the joy of life is only held and found in You…

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

 

“Your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:10

 

Love Always???

Love Is An Act of Faith

Faith. It’s that initial component of love. You wish you could predict the outcome, but there’s no way to hedge your bets. This is how it is in every instance, even in responding to God. Faith is required to believe that He truly loves us in an unprecedented way & that the Cross is the ultimate demonstration of that Love, though, we never witnessed it.Yet you’ll never know unless you take a chance. But if you do…


One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him. He went to the Pharisee’s house & reclined at table a woman, who was a sinner, learned that he was in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of perfume & standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears,wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet & anointed them with the perfume.When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who & what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He answered, “Say it, Teacher.”“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in, she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfume. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:36-47

I know this quote is not exactly the right fit, at least not at first glance, but love is an act of faith & size is not relevant except that you need enough to put action to it. God’s Love took a chance and made the first move. Let your Love act on it.

❤HAPPY VALENTINE’S❤

(If you only knew the trees I killed doing this…)

Listening Lessens Assumptions

“and this I pray that the love of you yet more and more shall abound in knowledge and all discernment for to approve you the things being excellent that you might be pure and blameless unto a [the] day of Christ being filled with the fruit of righteousness that [is] through Jesus Christ to [the] glory and praise of God.”
 Philippians 1:9-11  Greek Linear Translation.
ἐπιγνώσει – knowledge
ascertainment, of a particular point (directed towards a particular object) 
αισθήσει – discernment
perception, not only by the senses but by the intellect, cognition, discernment, moral discernment in a ethical matter

Love is the primary driver for knowledge and discernment and Love is:

“… is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proudit does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” 1Cor13:4-8
 
Love and Knowledge and Discernment seem to work in unison. Yet love is greater than knowledge. Meaning, man derived knowledge.  Because of the faulty nature of human knowledge, it stands to reason that love would have to drive understanding and depth of insight, otherwise, we as individuals would be swayed by our limited capability and at times make assumptions. This is the premise of this post. The dangers of assumptions. 
I doubt anyone wants to be the victim of speculation. But this is especially true when you share your life and your struggles with a trusted friend.  You hope that they hear your story and that they strive to understand before surmising any thoughts regarding the situation. The ability to love in discernment and knowledge is very critical in a spiritual relationship if you seek to help and give advice. This is something I think about often especially because I am in a virtual ministry much of the time and I have to be exceptionally careful to not assume anything.  I can’t claim that I am perfect nor can I dispense perfect spiritual advice or help.  So, my goal is to pray and to attempt to convey what is the most beneficial and biblical help I can give. Sometimes, it is just to pray.  I can’t know the depth or the intensity of each situation that every individual shares with me even if they give me great detail.  I am required to listen intently but I will never know because I am not inhabiting their life. So, I need compassion and humility.  In addition, Love always trusts and always hopes, so it assumes the best.  Meanwhile, I, myself, am a sinful person. I struggle with many different temptations and I cannot say that I am above any of the things other people are dealing with.  But I know that I would never want to be the victim of assumption. This is why Love rejoices with the truth. In helping people, you have to listen for what’s true and this means hearing all of what they’ve said.  Otherwise, you’ll only parcel out parts and the person is heard in fractions. It’s important that:
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak,” James 1:19 
If love doesn’t step in to attempt to understand, it will be difficult for the hearer to be spiritually discerning or knowledgeable. I’ve been there. Both as the sharer and the hearer. I have kind of jumped the gun, at times and not fully heard what the person’s voice/heart was saying and I’ve also had people do that to me. I notice, even recently, I’ll get a message from someone and I’ll skip over some important words which changes the message.  Then I go back and re-read and I’m struck by how badly I mis-heard. I know I don’t want to do that to anyone because I’ve been on the receiving end of that before when I have shared with someone my struggles and I thought that I expressed myself fully and that they heard all of what I said, but then afterwards realized they didn’t. So, their advice was partially beneficial and yet not completely geared for my situation because of some assumptions. I listened to the advice and put the part that applied into practice. Still, I wish I had been fully heard.
All of this to say, assumptions can create misunderstandings and it’s hard to definitely know how to help spiritually, if love doesn’t listen in order to bring knowledge and discernment. I don’t want to be this way to anyone. And when I think of God and how He listens,  I know He actually hears it all.
“But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer” Psalm 66:19
“And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” 1John 5:15

Though,  I don’t think it’s just requests that He hears. I really believe He’s attentive even if we can’t express ourselves so He intervenes.
 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26
 
This encourages me to be more like Him and even if there are gaps in my understanding of someone’s situation,  I can pray and believe the best and let the rest be sorted out with time and His Spirit. 
 
? Always

Solid As A Rock

That’s what life is; a contradiction. When you’re a child and you confront that truth for the first time, it throws you for a loop. You become more advanced in responding to it as you get older, but you’ll never be 100% prepared. You utilize different measures to cope and depending on the source, you’ll have a degree of success. But, there are no foolproof ways to guard our lives and hearts from the hardship of inconsistencies, the ones that come to you through people, or circumstances. You know what I mean.

So, I advocate for faith in God because I know it is the only way to obtain stability. The crazy thing is, that it requires doing something that is seemingly unstable. Without traditional proof, the person who decides to rely on God, makes a questionable decision. They decide take to heart the words that He preserved in the Scriptures and actually trust that everything in there is true. To believe that the Cross is the culmination of His Plan to love us past this life, and into the best life, which is eternal. It is a very risky thing to do. Initially, you’ll wonder if He really will bring the consistency that you need.  But, you have to know that in order to achieve that, our minds and our hearts have to be elevated spiritually and they have to remain that way because the contradictions are present here.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Col 3:2.

You have to be capable of looking past the situation in order to understand that God’s got this and your coping mechanisms can’t cut it. They never could. So then, do you park your mind at the door of Christianity? No. Intelligence and knowledge can co-exist. Some believers may not agree, but I think faith can still exist even as we take scientific facts into consideration. You can’t disregard science, but you cannot allow the world to kill your faith either.

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8.

Kind of sounds like a contradiction, right?  Not from an elevated mind stance that believes the One who made the world can bypass the world. And even if things remain inconsistent here, His Spirit/Love is constant.

“For I the Lord do not change; Malachi 3:6

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

His Love is consistent, Always?