Saturday, August 20, 2016

Podium Participant

Transformation...

Such a wonderfully sexy word, concept, slogan...

So what is transformation? In the midst of the "olympic world" right now, transformation seems to be akin to one who was 4th in 2012 but worked hard so as to become "transformed" over the last 4 years into a "podium" participant.

But is this really what transformation is? Nothing more than behavior modification? Is the podium participant truly transformed? What happens after the podium? Truth is, the podium is not the epitome of transformation - at least not in the realm of faith...

When speaking from a Christo-centric perspective, transformation takes on eternal significance because it is rooted in the way, the truth, and the life of the One who came to transform our hearts, our souls, our whole humanity... He came to transform so we might go and act...

Truth is, Jesus was intentional in His act of transformation. That is, He came to us - to you and me - so as to invite us into His eternal act of love. And if and when we say yes, we find that in Christ transformation is real.

Participating in the will of God occurs when through the Holy Spirit, Christ becomes the pattern of our life, when He becomes our first love. As Paul writes:
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5.1-2).

A life that has this world as its first love seeks peace and hope in the comforts of the world. But a life in love with Jesus stands in stark contrast to a life lived in love with the world. For the truth of the Christian faith is that peace and hope are only found in the One who is peace, the One who is hope.

When He is our hope we can step into everyday and see it as an opportunity to be intentional in how we love the other. That every moment is an opening to be love.

And how do we become love so as to be love? We follow in the way of the Master Builder who told us, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

We become love by building up the other through our intentional acts of love. Moments that will open up into amazing encounters that allow us to invest in the heart of our community by investing in the hearts of the other.

Truth is, this world is in need of more people who seek to elevate the other rather than tearing them down. Daily each one of us should strive to be a servant who seeks the betterment of society. Daily each one of us can make a difference through our intentional acts of service. For when we seek to serve the other, we live out the truth of being love. And in our intentional acts of love, grace, compassion, mercy, and justice erupt and overflow so as to begin transforming the landscape of this great nation of ours.

Let us this day be love by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, welcoming the stranger, and freeing the enslaved. Let us this day step off the podium and become transformation by lavishing our love on the other...

Transformation begins with the heart…it begins with you…

Friday, April 8, 2016

Fall into His heart

Read James 1.2-25
Ever have those times when you feel like doing nothing but crying? Times when you hardly want to get out of bed and have no energy to do anything, let alone prayer or reading the Bible. You know those times when every door seems to close, every way seems to be darkened and everybody seems to have turned their back to you?

Times when even God seems distant and unloving and you actually wonder if He even sees you…

Strange truth of faith is that through our trials we find growth, because we find Him… 
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (vs. 2-4).
Joy? How so? Because such trials have a way of pressing us to go deeper with God. When we are brought to our knees we see fresh truths about God intersecting with our lives in the hardest of times. When we fall to our knees so as to cry out to His heart we realize what David did: “He sent from on high, He took me…He rescued me,” –and here is the best part—“because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18.6-19).

How many of us, when we cry out to Jesus, realize that He has entered into our suffering with us, broken down the barriers of sin and eradicated death so as to reach out and rescue us because He delights in us?

In our trials we are not expected to fall back on our own power, control or resources. No, Jesus wants us to embrace the Spirit so as to “rely not on (myself) but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1.9).

All Jesus wants is for us to fall into His heart so that He can take care of us.

There in our suffering and through our trials Jesus says to us, “I want you to have peace. I want you to be deeply joyful. I want you to believe in what I say and what I do — to have unshakable faith. I want you to have the kind of peace that I give, not the world. The kind of joy that I give, not the world. The kind of faith, I give, not the world. I want you to have the truth of love and the truth of faith—I want you to have Me.”

Do you want Jesus? Then go to Him, embrace Him and receive His love…Amen Jesus!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Choose Joy

Read Psalm 100; John 15.1-11
All around people struggle to find happiness. I know I get caught up in this battle. But what I have come to find is that I am not in search of happiness, but joy…And He is right there before me.
Truth is, there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is usually something on the surface—it comes and goes with our feelings. But joy…joy is different. It is deeper. It is alive and in our soul.
One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen once wrote:
“Joy is not the same as happiness. We can be unhappy about many things, but joy can still be there because it comes from the knowledge of God’s love for us…Often we discover the joy in the midst of the sorrow. I remember the most painful times of my life as times in which I became aware of a spiritual reality much larger than myself, a reality that allowed me to live the pain with hope. I dare even to say: ‘My grief was a place where I found joy.’ Joy does not happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to Jesus and have found in Him our refuge and our safety, and that nothing, not even death, can take Him away from us.”
Yes, unlike happiness, joy is essential to spiritual life. When we are not joyful we cannot bear fruit. Jesus calls us to Himself so that His joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete…if only we go to Jesus.
Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing — sickness, failure, emotional distress, wandering, oppression, doubt, war, or even death — can take that love away.
Right now (you may need to find a “secret” place) let yourself celebrate joy…let yourself celebrate Jesus. Stand up, dance around, sing out, throw your hands up in the air, laugh uncontrollably, fall to your knees, cry profusely… whatever you need to do to celebrate heaven’s joy, do it. 
Right now forget formalities and normalcy. 
Right now enter into the joyous praise from Mercy Me and let this beautiful song fill your heart… Greater.
Right now embrace the Spirit and choose Joy by stepping into the crazy insane love of Jesus and celebrating His undeniable love for you. Amen Jesus!