Two Hands

You know what I think is a problem?

How easily Christian people understand that it’s wrong for the members of the Westboro Baptist church to protest homosexuality, military funerals etc… but who will then turn around and behave in a similar way by telling homosexuals that their sexual orientation is a sin and that they’re going to “burn in hell” for it.

They both use a similar rationalization saying that they’re doing it out of love or a sense of responsibility to either the people, God or both. They’ve both taken scripture out of context and fashioned it into a sharp pointy object or in some cases a club that they can then use to injure people with.

With or without the pretense of love, no one seems to actually be feeling it.

(the love that is)

Least of all the folks who’re on the receiving end of it!

In some ways I can understand protesting the death of young American soldiers involved in this curious war we’re in. More so than I can the actions of a group who’s “greatest commandment” is to love not being able to understand how much their actions convey the exact opposite.

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Based on very real necessity many homosexual people, especially teens, keep their sexual orientation a secret. Having never been placed in that position myself I can’t fully appreciate what that’s like. And even though I do know what it’s like to love someone I can only presume to how much of a torturous conundrum that must be! You can’t openly be who you really are or love the people you have feelings for. The only way I can imagine this situation being any worse is to perhaps have some hypocritical phony baloney Christian person tell you that somehow you chose this living hell for yourself.

To me this is either insufferably ignorant or just plain cruel…

I’m really not looking to debate with anyone regarding the meanings of specific scriptures. The one thing the Bible most certainly does not do is state anything in a clear way. If you’ve studied it you know that it’s actually a very complex document. One that in order to truly understand requires research into the supporting Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic translations. There’s also the contextual/cultural coloring’s to consider. As you study remember,the greatest obstacle to learning anything is thinking you know it all to begin with.

Each one of us who thinks of him or herself as being Christian needs to decide for themselves what love means to them and then act on how they feel is the best way to express it. Yeah I do have a problem with how some people go about that but it’s primarily because they’re claiming to represent The Lord who I believe IS God and IS love! And as I see it, it doesn’t really matter if you’re right if you’re going about expressing it in a wrong way! That’s what it seems to mainly be about for some people is “being right” and that’s really not our mandate. We’re nobodies judge and neither are we required to interrogate people like an attorney. We’re simply supposed to be witnesses to a life changing love, to be ready to give our testimony when asked!

If Christianity is ever going to truly be what it aspires to be it’s going to have to start doing what it’s supposed to do and not continue to be used as a tool to oppress people like it was during slavery and like it is now towards homosexuals. It’s supposed to be about liberating people from bondage through love not putting them into it by pronouncing our judgement’s on them! The Christian church is still teaching people that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. And while many homosexuals do choose a promiscuous lifestyle so do many more heterosexual people. I believe that human sexuality is a spectrum line we all fall somewhere on.

So yeah I do have a problem with mainstream Christianity…

A big two handed one!

Believe it or not, I’d like to help do whatever I can to create a new more authentic version of Christianity that really does make love it’s highest priority. That see’s inclusion as it’s greatest goal. That doesn’t need a multi-million dollar building to establish it’s credibility with people and convince them that it and their pronouncements must be god ordained.

I think the time is coming soon when Gods people will separate out from those who’re perpetuating an adversarial relationship between the church and a world full of people He loves and wants to see in heaven someday. The great thing about it is that neither you or I have to wait another minute to begin to do something about it.

Jesus said the kingdom of heaven must be within each of us and so based on that we should all be our own walking, talking church!

And then there’s this quote…which seems to contradict my perspective

 If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and un-prayed for.

(C.H. Spurgeon)

Okay far be it from me to disagree with such a brilliant and Godly man!

But what is it he’s really saying?

First of all he says…IF!

Which of course means because we’re all in agreement about this.

And that the supreme act of love is to lay down ones life if need be.

Just as Christ did for each of us.

How did that work out for Him?

Our salvation and eternal life is possible because of His death

but ultimately it’s still a choice made by each of us to accept it.

Love, which consists of truth beauty empathy compassion and so many other things exists entirely apart from our belief in or our mis-perceptions about it.

YES! As Christians we should be willing to lay down our lives to save another that we love…But what if there was an easier way?

They say that to truly change the world we must first be changed ourselves. And if after first experiencing that change ourselves we could simply become a conduit to others for the same love that met us just as we were and accepted us?

No long term contracts or fine print. No pre-qualifying questionnaire…

No hoops to jump through or expectations to live up to.

 No I’m talking about grace!

Which is the un-merited favor of God

 

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Two hands…on the one is what you believe and on the other what you know to be true. Our actions can be a reflection of either. If we know love we act it out, the same goes for fear.To believe something implies a measure, however small, of doubt. Whereas knowing is a certainty about something. Two hands…they represent the choices available to each of us.

Are You Serious?

It can be difficult to know who is!

It’s always been a challenge for me to figure out and I suspect others probably wonder  the same about me! Of course at times I wonder how seriously some things actually should be taken. Perhaps it’s because of my analytic nature that I focus so much on details and have a tendency to be more literal in how I understand things. I’m someone who’s quite serious,too much so in fact,who’s trying to interface with a read the fine print “Just Kidding” world.
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This fixation of mine seems to play out most noticeably in my relationships, both personal and professional. I don’t think it’s really so unusual or remarkable in any way,on the contrary! I see this mindset as being rather common hence the familiarity of the phrase in our culture. However,when combined with any sort of OCD or perfectionist tendencies it typically leads to disappointment and frustration on the part of all who’re trying to understand the appropriate roles of the respective parties in any given situation.

Enough setup?

Looking back on my spiritual journey which for me began at age nine or ten it seems to of,almost without fail, follow a distinct pattern. I find myself being drawn into “all things spiritual” until I reach a point where I can’t find answers to my questions or perceive “it” or myself, as somehow being in contradiction or one of us not living up to the associated claims. All of this is based on or evidenced by how I see “God” manifested in the world, in myself,and in other Christian people I know. At times the answers I do find seem to conflict with what’s taught or simply lead to more questions.

Here’s one…

Is Christianity the perfect ideology for people with low self esteem?

The idea of redemption was never hard to sell to me…As a youth I was so full of self loathing that the idea of being someone other than myself or a better version of who I was seemed like an answered prayer! (I’m still rather frustrated on this score) There are times that I think Christianity would be the greatest thing in the world, that it’d be worth screaming from the rooftops about if it simply did what it claims to do! I suppose that yet again I’m just “doing it wrong” but it’s awfully hard for me to conceive of a God who loves us so much and yet Who would make it so complicated or confusing to be redeemed or to get a taste of that victorious life we’re teased with!

In first Corinthians fifteen Paul talks about our faith being in vain. I don’t think I’m taking too great of an interpretive leap here to juxtapose the relevance of his statement to our spiritual lives. To me He seems to be saying that if Christ didn’t walk out of the grave then what we believe is in vain. If we’ve been crucified with Christ,born again and are in truth new creations in Christ which will someday rise just as He did,why are so many of us still dead in our sins?

“Because someday hasn’t come yet dummy and as long as you dwell in this tent of flesh,you’ll fight this battle regardless of how you feel about it”…The Holy Spirit

WOW! He’s in a mood today…

Anyways, my point is that if our new lives in Christ aren’t a miracle of some kind isn’t what we’re believing also in vain? I understand the eternal aspects of this statement but I also have to believe there are significant implications for our here and now lives as well! It is a bit confusing when you read what Paul says in Philippians about his own righteousness.

Philippians 3:9

KJV And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Or verse 12 of Chapter three in which Paul goes on to say…

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

And of course this confusing admission of his own inadequacy.

Romans 7:14-16

KJV For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Obviously Paul saw himself as a work in progress! That he was running a race,not that he had finished one…

There are however ways to know we’re on the right road!

Galatians 5:22

KJV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Certainly I”m not SO arrogant to in any way expect more from myself than Paul did!

Or am I?

Or pigheaded enough to be unforgiving towards myself when God the Father has already seen fit to forgive my many sins…

Surely not!

WHEW! Glad that’s been cleared up…

So, then what am I really so unhappy about or what are my real expectations?

Oh not much…

I once heard an analogy when I was in addiction recovery that related to what’s known as “recovery time” and “clean time”. It served to help distinguish the differences between them. The phrase “clean time” relates to how long someone has gone without using whereas the term “recovery” is an indication of the healing that’s occurred in someones life, of how much of the causative component involved in a persons addictive behaviors have been dealt with. Clean time is also known as “white knuckling it” the idea being that a persons sobriety is a function of their own “self will” and that inevitably it will fail.

Recovery time is so much better because once we understand the reasons we used to begin with we’re much,much less susceptible to their influence. Nothing is quite so liberating to an addict as understanding why it’s not just “okay” to be who they are and sober but how actually fantastic it is! They’ll never go back to using because they understand how much better off they are where they’re at! It’s no longer a struggle to stay sober,because from this new perspective you know that YOU’VE WON! And that you can live in victory over your addiction because you have something that’s SO much better!

That’s what I want from my spiritual life!

I’m tired of white knuckling it!

And I can’t stand the frustration of the failure that comes with it.

Which is what most religion comes down to in my opinion

and I definitely don’t believe in that.

What I do believe in is love.

And it’s transformative power!

So what I want is a personal encounter with it, or Him…

1 John 4:8

KJV He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

After all that I’ve been through…

all that I’ve seen and done.

I have to be honest enough to say I don’t have it!

which gives me the perfect opportunity to end this post using my title and the likely reaction to it by some!

Are You Serious?

Truth Incorporated

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATruth is kind of a big deal to me. Maybe because knowing the truth has always been the best way for me to have peace of mind! It can be considered knowledge,and of course knowledge is power! Power needed to overcome the fear and anxieties which accompany it’s antithesis of lies and confusion. Over the year’s I’ve become frustrated with how unnecessary and manufactured that confusion often seems to be. Businesses use deceptively simple premises that sound good on the surface to entice people into becoming customers. Then when they’ve got you in the door they employ some form of a “bait and switch”. To my way of thinking, this sort of marketing strategy is little more than legalized falsehood…It seems as though you can lie in the large print if you tell the truth in the small!

That’s Corporate truth!

Over my lifetime I’ve been taken in many times by such tactics, which are, like any successful scam based on the greed of it’s intended victims. You have to present a “something for nothing” scenario in order to peak the selfishness of the intended “mark”. Because I’ve been burnt before, I’ve become quite sensitive and even resentful towards any institution or corporation that attempts to use this method to engage me. I’m leery of any offer which seems overly generous or “too good to be true” and rightly so I’d say!

Christianity can also be misrepresented to people. They’re told that after trusting in Jesus Christ as their Saviour they’re born again and that their burdens in life can be laid down there at the foot of the cross. Most people understand that to mean that life as they know it is going to get easier but if you’ve been “around” at all you know that’s not really true. I’m not saying that it never happens or even that it can’t happen, what I am saying is that it’s a process. One that requires a lot of hard work over time. One that you’ll need lots of help with! People who are mature in their faith know this is true. If you think that Satan is just going to stand by and watch while someone grows in Christ you’re dead wrong! Nope, he’ll attack anyone who’s moving in the opposite direction that he is! Truth is, if you’re not encountering his handiwork maybe you should consider which way you’re headed!

According to data I’ve looked at, Christianity is in decline in the United States. Why? I think it’s because we’ve totally underestimated our enemy! We don’t believe we’re in a spiritual battle and that lives are at stake. No, either we’ve somehow been convinced that half measures and playing Church is God’s purpose for us as His ambassadors or perhaps we just don’t care.

There’s a lot more to being a Christian then just walking down an aisle and saying a prayer! That’s just the start! But if you want to live a victorious Christian life there’s a lot more to it. I’m talking about discipleship,which can’t sail without relationship! Relationships that run much deeper than shaking someones hand on Sunday morning and that aren’t put off by the walls that people have built around their hearts.

2888670193_949c834e3aThis symbol appears through the Ancient Ephesus. This symbol, a code unknown to the Romans was used by the Christians to indicate they were followers of Christ

Somewhere along the way the church’s priorities have changed from operating in the five fold ministries they’ve been called to in Ephesians four to instead function more like a business whose goal is warm bodies in pews paying tithes. God’s Spirit won’t occupy and empower that…but without His Holy Spirit they’re selling a product that doesn’t really work! Maybe that explains the large number of dissatisfied Christian consumers who’ve left the church seeking something they perceive as being based more on integrity.

These types of marketing strategies don’t work on people who,because of their sense of integrity,see them for what they are. Who aren’t only interested in their personal gain or benefit but also in that of the other parties involved. They seek true value, to pay a fair price for any goods or services because they understand the interconnection that exists between all members of an economy and have an uncommon respect for what’s known as “parity”.

The last time I was in church the pastor made fun of people like me who write blogs critical of the church. He said it was like saying “Lord I love you, but Your bride? Not so much” I understood his point but maybe not all church’s deserve that title…

Gandhi didn’t think so!

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I’m not just here trying to be critical or condemning, I freely admit that I’m struggling just as much as anyone to try and understand what we as the church should be doing.

When I ask myself that question it seems to become less about “what” and more a matter of how can we do it?

By what power?

Again, we know the answer…by the Holy Spirit!

Okay,how do we “get that”?

What does the Bible say?

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

I read this quote the other day and it stopped me in my tracks…

 “I am Pentecostal by necessity, not by choice.” Dick Brougdan

I do know this much…LOVE is the answer!

The answer to any problem as I see it is to simply figure out a way to get closer to God, Who is love!

And then we won’t be able to not love others in a genuine way just as He loves us!

Now that sounds like the truth to me…

Not “Truth Incorporated”

How Dare You?

Are you an investor?  I think it must take a lot of nerve to put large sums of money into stuff and then hope that someday it’ll pay off! I suppose it’s kind of like the lottery, they say you can’t win if you don’t play but there are others who believe that you can’t lose what you don’t bet…I’ve been told that relationships are work, as if they’re a task or a job that has to be done and that may be true…it would explain why so many don’t work! I think it’s also true that you first must venture something before it’s possible to see a return of it, let alone to see a return on it! We sow seeds hoping for a crop and although there’s a reasonable expectation of a result it’s still not a for sure thing. I’m drawing comparisons here to various things that involve risk so that I can talk about what most people perceive to be the greatest one of all,

loving people!

Allow me to clarify, I feel as though I need to because there are so many concepts people have about what that means. I’m talking about the type of love that can and most likely will cost you everything. The type that never stops to count the cost before acting or that leaves no room for compromise or half measures.  It’s an all consuming obsession that’s primarily characterized by selflessness and a concern for what’s in the best interest of it’s “object” which of course is so much more than a thing to them…

it’s their everything! 

Many people practice a much more conditional definition of love as in,

“I love you as  long as times are good or until you do something I disapprove of.”

Another common example is the idea that I love you until it becomes inconvenient for me or until my feelings for you result in a “heartache” on my part at which point we’re through. Some people do see love as an investment, and as such they have some very definite ideas about what they expect in return and while I do believe that love always comes back to us I don’t think that anyone truly gives love only because of what they expect to receive in return.

Having said that I’d also like to say that even though expecting a return on our love investment is not in character, that when we do give, sow, invest, or commit ourselves to truly loving someone the return is guaranteed! Perhaps not in the way we might expect or from the person whom we’ve loved but just as the rising sea levels of a harbor lifts all ships we benefit from bringing more love into the world! Like am electrical wire with current flowing through it, we’re warmed by it’s passage!

I’d like to be able to say that I’ve loved that way, but what Robin Williams said about loving something more than yourself kind of left me hollow, I find it’s quite a struggle for me to love something more than I fear being rejected by it…

I’m also floored to know that this is how God loves each of us, except it’s actually so much more than I can even comprehend. He sent His only Son Jesus to be our redeemer even though I’m sure He knew that many would reject this supreme act of love!

Thank You Father for Your infinite love, please change my heart to allow Your love to shine through me more, and for me to see the fear in my life for the liar that it is!

Do I dare?

How dare you?

A Peculiar People…

According to the Strong’s Concordance, the word peculiar in the verse below actually means to be “preserved”, to be an acquired people who have been bought by Christ. To me that sounds like a people who are His possession, who are by faith sustained and have put their trust in God alone and are the beneficiaries of His great promises. A people who are grateful, and who are eager to express their gratitude!

1 Peter 2:9 (King James Version)

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light

I read something recently I feel is related that really resonated with me.

“Jesus is looking for people who can display the fruit of the Spirit, not religious nuts”

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m always interested to hear other peoples interpretation’s of scripture and I try to keep an open mind because I definitely have a great deal to learn!  I also greatly enjoy enthusiastic praise and worship that’s done by people who’re really seeking to glorify and praise God! I believe in the Holy Spirit and in the manifestation of His presence through the spiritual gifts. I’m a person who appreciates my freedom in Christ and fully extends that right to others, who’s not trying to limit God, keep Him in a box, or reduce His blessing’s to any formula.

What I’m attempting to describe here is something different, something along the lines of when peculiar becomes “Weird”…

I doubt that there’s a single person who’ll read this who doesn’t know exactly what I mean! We’ve all known (or perhaps have been) people whose “Christian” beliefs are perhaps a little off the mainstream or even downright strange. And as we listen to them explain the biblical basis for their “revelation” or describe to us the angle that we must tilt our heads at to see it, somehow we just can’t seem to shake the feeling that based on the lack of apparent “fruit” in their lives they must instead be “nuts”. Have you ever noticed how little children seem to have an uncanny ability to recognize “weird” people and will instinctively get away from them? I’m not talking about people who just have a naturally off-beat personality,  I’m talking about people whose weirdness is instead an intentionally contrived facade wrapped in a cloak of religiosity.

One thing that’s been made very clear to me on my “spiritual journey” is that what I really find attractive are those Christians who display a committed, sustaining, genuine and balanced approach to their faith.

I just want to be an average person who’s allowing God to do extraordinary things through me!

Everytime I encounter people who’s belief’s have more to do with emphasizing the differences between them and others it just seems as though the motivation is to glorify them, not God!

The God who’s grace is responsible for them perhaps being any different than anyone!

I believe that what draws people to Christ is the expression of our empathy to them in that we openly recognize our own past and present “brokenness” while at the same time sharing with them what is our great hope in Christ in this moment and for eternity. That we’ve surrendered to the love and forgiveness of our Savior who while we were yet hopeless sinner’s chose to die for our sin’s to restore our souls and redeem us before the Father!

Now that’s “Good News” everyone should be eager to hear!

1 Corinthians 1:2 (King James Version)

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s:

Sanctification is a process, and to be a saint of God is a choice…A choice that we’re empowered to make through the Holy Spirit’s presence in us! At some point in our walk we learn that there’s only one rule, and that rule is love! It would help if we were taught that initially, it would save us from following those spiritual “rabbit holes” and from the discouragement of false starts.

I’ve been wanting to write about this subject for some time, maybe even years! It’s based on the frustration I’ve felt as I see people being spiritually stalled by one particular issue or being in bondage to some doctrinal understanding that keeps them spinning in circles preventing them from moving forward and from being more effective ambassadors for Gods Kingdom.

I have a fantasy about being in Heaven and of the first moments of my realization of it. I’m talking to some people who confirm to me that “yes, I am in fact in Heaven” so naturally my next question is, “Where’s Jesus?’  to which they reply “Oh, that’s Him over there talking to those people at the table” I spin around and scan the room noticing a man standing next to a table full of people, He’s a man, in a glorified body just like me who manages to catch my glance and lock’s eye’s with me for just a moment and smiles. He excuses Himself and begins to walk toward me…and that’s where the fantasy ends. It always makes my hair stand up on my neck and gives me chill bumps to think about someone who is the equal of God who loves me so much to not think it wrong to talk to me like just another person, who even though He IS too Holy chose to meet me and to reveal Himself to me.

Yes I know I’m peculiar, perhaps even weird! But I must admit I couldn’t be happier about it!

Don’t Go There!

There’s a species of bird native to where I live called a Killdeer. They’re quite common and if you take a summertime walk near a river or any place where there’s gravel you’re likely to encounter one. Their “KILL-DEE” call is hard to miss but what really drew my attention to them as a young boy was their instinctive flair for the dramatic.  If you should happen to get too close to their young which they nest on the ground, they put on their wounded bird performance. It’s their way of saying “don’t go there”, an academy award winning act intended to draw any potential threat away from that which is vulnerable, their chicks.

Here’s a shot of the “performance”

The more I studied on these birds the more they began to remind me of people. There’s something familiar to me about an animal that lives on the ground instead of living in a tree where it’s ability to fly is a distinct advantage thereby necessitating the aforementioned defensive tactics to survive.  Although it doesn’t seem to make good sense, living by the art of deception in this inhospitable rocky place is simply part of what defines them as being a killdeer.  In my “human-ness” I prefer to think that by making different choices their lives could be so much easier but alas, they have to do what’s in their nature to do. There are no real “choices” for them as far as how they survive other than picking a nesting site that perhaps affords them more security, that’s about it .

We have a “nature” to overcome as well but with a much broader spectrum of choices to make that can either lift us above or deliver us over to what we’re hardwired to do. It’s difficult to spend much time around people and not notice a pattern similar to the Killdeers,  most typically while having a “discovery” conversation with them.  If they think you’re getting too close to an area they feel protective of they’ll do their darnedest to divert the conversation away from it. They’ll scream,cry and yell if need be, often holding up one or both hands using a rapid back and forth motion from the wrist, palms towards you while in a stern voice warning us “Don’t go there!”.  If they’re at all skilled at this tactic, soon you’ll be having an altogether different conversation than you might of originally intended to have. But just like the killdeer’s performance the technique is only good SO many times, an experienced “seeker” won’t continue to follow the ruse and will instead investigate the spot they were heading for initially.

From a human perspective, where exactly is “there” and why are we all so afraid of it? Maybe “there” is a place where it’s real, where it’s personal, where all of the pretenses and compromises have fallen away and the plain truth is all that’s left. A place where there’s an absolute right and an absolute wrong that cannot coincide or abide with the other. A place where we set aside the needs of our ego and lay our self on the altar.  Where there is no ambiguity, and no one can afford to sit on a fence or be half hearted in what they’re doing.

I found these examples of instances where Jesus chose to “Go There” and studied on them. the first one is definitely literal in one respect but figurative in another. Jesus is going to Jerusalem, but in response to Peter’s rebuke He chooses to call it like it is with Peter and speak to the real sponsor of his thoughts

Matthew 16:21-24

21From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

After He told the disciples of His plans to go to Jerusalem and of what was going to happen to Him there, Peter tried to tell Jesus “Don’t go there” but of course Jesus had to “go there”, and praise God that He did!

The next passage is more of a figurative example that most of us can relate to.

Matthew 21:12-13

12And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Why couldn’t Jesus have just calmly moved about the room and “lovingly” convinced everyone to stop what they were doing? Once again He had to “go there”,  perhaps this is one of those instances where I guess you had to “be there” to fully understand it. Sometimes speaking the truth in love to people means “going there” with them. This is one of my own favorite quotes…

“Knowing the difference between who just needs a hug and who needs a kick in the pants is at the essence of what love is“.

I’ll admit that knowing the difference is a tricky business. Jesus always knew it because He had the Holy Spirit living within Him and was able to discern between the urgings of The Spirit and the the deception of Satan. I’ll always be grateful to the people in my life who took the risk and went there with me, who talked to me instead of talking about me especially if “going there” with me wasn’t an easy or pleasant thing for them to do. Thank You Jesus, for loving me so much that that even though they told You, “Don’t go there”  Praise God You did!

Actions,speak louder!

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As you may know, we had a hum-dinger of an ice storm here where I live in Southeast Mo. It knocked out power for an extended period of time and left “tree debris” everywhere in our town. The ministerial alliance in our community got together and decided to go out into the community and clean up peoples yards last Saturday, I volunteered!

2009-Ice218 by CountryGuys.

We cleaned up the large limbs, and cut what would be usable as firewood into stove logs. It was a wonderful feeling to help the mostly older people who really appreciated it!

AK000702 by you.

AK000706 by you.

I was talking to one of the pastors who told me about a lady who’s yard was full of limbs. He had offered to clean up her yard but she simply couldn’t accept that anyone would do it for free and was very reluctant to allow it. I told him about a man who we had worked for who had insisted on giving us money, after we had explained that we were “volunteers”…he said “I can’t see you guys doing all of this work for nothing” I told him “we’re not” and that we were happy to do it because we truly believed there was a blessing from the Lord in it for us, and also that we were happy to help him because of what the Lord has already done for us! (set us free from sin). There were some confused expressions on the faces of people, which grew into smiles, and seemed to warm the chilly morning.

the smile on your face by tonebastiansen.

I can totally relate to people being reluctant or being confused by this “free lunch.” I can remember how I felt when people told me about Gods gift of salvation,and how I thought it sounded too good to be true. I had, like many people been let down by many things I had trusted in before. The memory of the pain was a strong deterrent to me being able to accept Christ or this “gift” I had heard so much about. Our worldly mindset tells us that there are always strings attached to things that seem to be free, so it’s better to pass on things that not only don’t make sense to you but that also might obligate us somehow with the fine print we didn’t understand when we accepted the “free” item. It’s a dark bit of business that our enemy is up to, convincing us that we’re unlovable by anyone… that we are hopelessly condemned to blindly fumble through life searching for the square peg to fit into our square hole, and that we’re failures, or “losers” because we can’t find that “peg” in the things or stuff of this world. I spent the majority of my life doing just that, but it was Gods ACTIONS toward me that opened my eyes and my heart to what He had for me. Not simply the many times he saved me from my own incredibly dangerous stupidity, or delivered me from the addictions I was ensnared by, but mostly for what He did for me on the cross. I grew to love Him after I began to understand how much He loves me! ME! and friends, that is the silver bullet to the werewolf of this world! It is the antidote to what this world has to try and scare me with! whats going to happen with this economy? (God loves me and He’s in control) My job…? Whats going to happen to me and my family if,if,if, same answer! I can face anything that this world can dish out, (even death) how? because of the love of Christ, FOR ME! He stood up in my place, He took my punishment, He paid my debt, and someday, I’ll go to where He is for eternity! I know, too good to be true right? but it IS Because He is the WAY,the TRUTH, and the LIFE! and He’s waiting for YOU!