Friday, November 13, 2015

Revolution of love

The increase of life has come through the entrance of the Kingdom of heaven into the kingdom of this world. The increase of life has come through the Prince of Peace reaching into the turmoil and tension of this world so as to consume and transform it into the beautiful mosaic of abundant joy and thanksgiving. The increase of life has come through the One who invites each of us to believe so that we might become the truth of His increase.
 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do” (Jn 14.12)
Through the increase of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, the community of God is called to become the increase of God…if we believe. If we step into His coming so as to become His peace the kingdom of this world will overwhelmed by the crazy insane love of Jesus’ kingdom. Dead souls will come to life, broken hearts will be revived, the sick will find healing, the hungry will find bread, the invisible will be seen—lives will be transformed and transferred from the temporal into the eternal. And truly all will come to understand what it means to give thanks.
Jesus’s coming is the collision of heaven and earth; it is heaven’s revolution of love so that our hearts, minds, bodies and souls might be transformed to such an extent such that our will has become God’s will. That is, we live not for self but for God. We Love God so as to love the other.
To follow Jesus is to embrace His coming so as to become broken like He was, by the pain, the torment and the darkness of this world. It means to follow Jesus into the abyss the world’s hopelessness so as to offer the hope of peace “made by the blood of His cross” (Col 1.20).
In order for His peace to infect this world our lives must become prayer so as to become God’s conduits of transformation. Christ came to be our increase so that in the Spirit we might increase. Christ’s increase for us was poured out in His life of prayer on earth, and of intercession in heaven. And it is this increase that the Spirit breathes into us in as much measure as our surrender and our faith allow and accept.
We need His increase so as to be the peace that surpasses all understanding for the sake of the world. Nothing but intense, crazy, and radical believing prayer can meet the intense spirit of worldliness, which is eversopresent and complained of everywhere.
Do you really want to be His increase? Then make time with Jesus today and ask the Spirit to remove all hindrances…

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Reform the devastation

Thanksgiving is here and Christmas looms. So what are we celebrating?

A quick look around the globe presents the tremendous tension that hovers over us: to give thanks and celebrate while destruction and death overwhelm the lives of so many. Planes brought down, scandals in our high schools, shootings in communities and freeways. Devastation all around seems to dampen the delight of divine beauty.

In light of this present reality many are wondering how it is that we can move into the holidays with hearts filled with good tidings and cheer? Where is our hope?

The complexity of the answer to where is our hope is found in the simplicity of what was done some 2000 years ago for the whole of humanity. A baby was born so that as a man He might hang on a tree. 

One birth. One death. One tree. Three nails. History witnessed hope.

Hope is wrapped in the truth of Immanuel - God with us. The only way to engage the happenings of life while seeking to celebrate the reality of life is found in the One who came to reorient our perspective. Christ came so that we might have hope, and in His coming He gave us the way to respond to the darkness of life.

We can only celebrate the truth of Christmas if we are willing to give thanks for the ability to step into the devastation and give of ourselves. To give until it hurts.

We give until it hurts because of what was done on our behalf. Yes, for us the giving did not stop at "until it hurts." The giving was done "to the point of death."

God’s self-giving in Christ is the epitome of His love and should become the essence of our thanksgiving. These days where we find our perspective constricted by the devastation of living our hearts must become saturated in the eternal vision of divine joy. We must look to the cross so as to see the beautiful joy that erupted through the birth of a baby.

Through His revelation, invitation and reconciliation we can step into the performance of a lifetime and live out the truth and reality of “God with us” so as to reveal the way of reformation of today's devastation. Through Christ's self-giving performance we are given the way to live out the truth of "we with God." It is a way that sees the truth of our "we with God" performance exploding on the stage of life through acts of kindness and love, acts of self-giving towards the “other” that not only overcome, but transform the postsuburban mentality that seeks to elevate self over the “other.”

Christ's Eucharistic performance (His self-giving) must become the root and foundation of the Church's being so as to become the motivation for her living. Hope will remain deferred if the Church remains destitute and deficient in her response to the world's devastation. But if we embrace the Spirit so as to grab hold of the heart of Christ, we can then become the hope that will reform the devastation into the divine image of heaven's glory.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Infection of the world

The life of faith is a life with God. And life with God is a communal reality, because all at once we are brought into the community of God that transcends the ways of this world—it is a community that is more than a simple gathering, it is an intimate family (Eph. 2:18-21). You have brothers and sisters who are yours, and you have a God who is calling you to Himself in love. And together we are to become the ultimate gift to this world.

Yes, as a follower of Christ the Holy Spirit beckons our hearts to come to the fountain of life. We are called into the truth of our foundation so that our actions, our lives are defined by being in Christ. This is what makes us His body, His community, His Church; it is what separates us from the world so that we might infect it (the world) with the crazy insane Love of Jesus.

The infection of the world through the church comes when our hearts let go of our worldly perspective so as to grab hold of a Christ-centered perspective. That is, when the joy of His love saturates our souls to such a depth that our thanksgiving overflows into the ocean of unending praise and giving. Yes, when we finally wake up to the truth of His sacrificial giving for our sake. When we cry out to the Spirit so that we might seek to imitate the bloody and beaten One draped over the cross of love by giving of ourselves for the other’s sake.

The world is crying out for the church to be the church. For the witness of our thanksgiving to be the complete giving of our hearts—relentlessly giving all of ourselves, withholding nothing because the only thing Christ withheld from us was the death sin is so deserving of. How can we not be thankful for the fact that He didn’t simply withhold death, but He swallowed it up in the victory of the cross? And then unashamedly has the audacity to invite us into His victory so as to share with us His eternal weight of glory that overcame sin and death.

How can we not be anything but joyously thankful and always giving?

Let us this day, as Christ’s disciples, as one body, one community—as His church, say yes to the Spirit so that through His presence and in His power we might live out our faith by living out Jesus’ commands—Love the Lord your God, Love your neighbor as yourself. Let us this day drench ourselves in prayer such that we lose ourselves in Christ’s heart so as to gain the victory of the cross. And let us step into the Holy Spirit so that through our lives of insane love the world might come to know the surpassing knowledge, peace and love of Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Waters of thankfulness

Have you ever stopped to think where your focus is? Do you see self before you see Savior? Is the image of your creation self or Savior?
Many might balk at the aforementioned questions, but reality is, if one does not know who they are, they can never know what they have or where they are going.  For if we don't know who we are, then the reflection we will see in the water will not be the One who is the Almighty, but the one who is me. 
As we enter into the season of thanksgiving, a knowledge of who we are is crucial if we ever want to jump into the waters of thankfulness. Thankfulness is a state of the heart, and thus, it is rooted in who we are. Engaging who we are in light of who Jesus is calls for a heart that is passionately pursuing God. That is, when we seek the light of Christ so that His will might increase as my will decreases we find the truth of life. But so much of faith today witnesses not the increase of Jesus, but His decrease.
The decrease in Jesus has led to the decrease in thankfulness. For true thankfulness comes when the center of our hearts is occupied not by self, but by Savior. That is, we cannot find contentment, peace or joy if our focus in life is the increase of self. Only when we find ourselves seeking to live out the truth of decreasing will we find our joy, our peace, our contentment, our thankfulness increasing.
John the Baptist’s response to Jesus is one that many in his day as well as ours today, find unintelligible—namely, abounding joy and thankfulness over himself getting smaller and Jesus getting bigger.
“The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3.29-30).
Talk about perspective. John does not try to climb to the stars, seize heaven’s throne or take matters into his own hands; he receives everything he has, including his station in life, from God. And unlike many today, John’s Messiah complex was not about self but about living for the Messiah. And in his decrease, John’s joy was complete.
To decrease is not a popular concept because it calls for us to let go of our control in life. It calls for us to give ourselves wholly to the way from above as opposed to the ways of the earth. And make no mistake about it, Satan will strike against our attempts to decrease. He will find what you are good at and make it your god. If you are good at finances, leadership, communication, athletics, music, academics, you name it, Satan will use your strengths so as to strangle out any thoughts of decrease. Daily he pushes us toward a mentality of increase so that eventually our lives seek to live out the truth of my will as opposed to Thy Will.

Only when we embrace the Spirit can the truth of our lives become, “He must increase but I must decrease.” And in our decrease we come to witness the beautiful truth of increase. We come to an increasingly greater understanding of the love that has been shed for our sake. Yes, in Christ and through the Spirit our hearts are filled with heaven’s joy creating an uprising in thankfulness that can do nothing but overflow into loving the other just as we have been loved.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Unleashing the power of the word

Each day is a gift from the Lord—a day that should be consumed with a desire to renew our zeal for Him. When we come before the throne of mercy and grace in order to spend time with the Lord, our hearts are renewed so that we might face whatever the day holds. In fact, followers of Christ should begin and end each day in prayer with thanksgiving.

What is more, our prayer life finds its vibrant energy when we use this time to meditate on the Word of God. In prayer and through the Word, the path of holy love becomes illumined so that we might remember all that has been done on our behalf, know how deeply loved we are and believe in the power and presence of our Risen Savior. Truth is, everything gets old and worn and weak without a re-awakening so as to renew and restore. Prayer is our awakening.

The crazy truth of life is that the further we press into faith in Christ the more resistance we will face from the insolent and accursed ones who wander away from the Word of God (v21). The more we resist the ways of the world the greater the scoffing and mocking we will encounter because our life of faith does not fit into the constructs of this world . We are “a sojourner on the earth,” (v19) whose heart has been awakened and consumed by the commandments and testimonies of the Lord our God, not the false teachings of the world (See Andrew Powell's sermon on False teachers ).

We need to saturate ourselves in prayer so that the word of God might become the tidal wave of hope that floods our hearts with the truth of divine love. We cannot know Christ on our own; we need the help of the Holy Spirit. In prayer and through the Holy Spirit we can incarnate the words of Scripture even in the midst of scorning and contempt (v17). Prayer is essential to Christian living, because it is the key to unlocking the power of the Word in our lives.

In Eph 1.18 Paul prays, “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling . . .” Paul knows that when we open the word of God so that we might know the Word of God our hearts are renewed so that the redemption and restoration of Christ becomes the truth of our lives in and through the Holy Spirit.

Let us this day seek to consume the word of God so as to be consumed by the Word of God. Let us this day meditate on His commandments so as to grow more and more like Him. Let us this day be in prayer, crying out with the Psalmist, “Lord open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (v18).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Unexpected Ways

The Gospel is good news. But what is so good about it? It is so much easier to place bumper sticker answers on one’s car than it is to bump up against these questions.
Jesus will only connect in an age when he remains radically different in our daily lives, breaking us out of our complacency, comfort, and self-imposed “normalcy.” When we truly see Him as the way, the truth and the life…
Fear and faith cannot occupy the same space in our hearts. For in Christ we are embraced by the perfection of love and perfect love casts out fear. Christ came to be our peace, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you…Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn 14.27).
Crazy to think about it, but just hours before Jesus was crucified he was concerned for the peace and the joy and the faith of his followers. Think of it. He is about to be tortured to death with one of the most horrific means of torture ever devised, and His burden was to solidify in the souls of His followers peace and joy and faith.
Jesus fought hard against the “false teachings” of the day so that those who would place their faith in Him, might experience the everlasting joy of heaven. Jesus suffered on behalf of those who place their belief in who He is—He sacrificed His life so that we who believe in Him might have the beauty, the peace, the truth of eternal life.
There on the cross Jesus says to humanity, “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.”

Let us this day stop trying to control the storms and instead, by the power of the Holy Spirit, step into the calming power of the Savior. Let us this day place all our care upon Jesus, “for He cares for us” (1 Peter 5.7). Let us this day ask the Spirit to increase our faith by taking us deeper into the unexpected ways of Jesus.