Monday, August 31, 2009
I think that so many people are caught up in the perception that Jesus only came to judge and to condemn. I can understand why the enemy of our souls would fight so hard to keep this impression in people's minds. The truth is that knowledge of how much God loves us gives us such a boundless amount of power over the wiles of our adversary. It's the knowledge of God's love that causes people to be filled with Him, and thus having an immeasurable amount of confidence and power. It says so in Ephesians 3:19 (NIV):
And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God
To know a love that surpasses knowledge. It goes beyond our limited mental faculties. But it is ours for the taking, nonetheless. And when we know this love in the depth of our hearts, we are filled with the fullness of God, because God is Love. They are one and the same.
But I digress...
The purpose of this post is to speak to someone who is wondering whether or not Jesus wants to deliver them, or use them, or make them whole. These words stand as a testament to a kind and compassionate God who desperately loves a flawed people.
In Mark 1, there is a certain leper who saw Jesus in Galilee. The bible records their meeting in verses 40-42:
40. A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean."
41. Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"
42. Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
This man had lived the life of a leper. Ostracized. Scorned. Rejected. But he heard that there was a Man in town who drove out demons and healed the sick. I'm sure he struggled with whether or not to go to Jesus. Would He send him away? Would He reject him like all of the others? But in the end, the man went to Jesus, still skeptical. "I know You can do it if You can bear the stench of my disease," he said, " I know that You can help me if You are willing to bother with my filth." And Jesus in all of His kindness and compassion, reached out to touch a man who had not felt the touch or connection of another human being in such a long time. Jesus touched this man and said, "I am willing."
This moves me to tears. Because I know that my sinful nature is like leprosy to Jesus. But He saw me in my sin, and He washed me in His blood, and then He went the extra mile to call me "friend." People, Jesus is willing to love you. Jesus is willing to wash you. Jesus is willing to take you just as you are. You don't have to be perfect for Him. You don't have to be "good." You don't have to be clean. Jesus will reach out to you from where He is. He will touch you and His touch will make you whole.
Come Just As You Are...
Thursday, August 27, 2009
When a person is gossiped about without the right to speak for themselves, can't we say something to defend this right? When a friend is doing something unGodly, isn't it our right to speak the truth in love, even if that truth hurts? When a man is begging on the streets of a big city and on-lookers are walking by with judgement in their eyes, isn't it the right of a Christian to give him food? When a prominent minister of the gospel (in any capacity) has sinned or fallen, isn't it his right to receive support and prayer -not prating- from the body of Christ?
It breaks my heart to see injustice in any measure. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a letter from a jail cell in Birmingham, AL and said this:
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. "
These words ring true today, just like they did during the Civil Rights movement. They ring true for every form of injustice that is seen in our daily walks with God. Let's dig deep inside to find enough passion and compassion to do something when injustice rears its ugly head.
Matthew 7:12 says in NIV:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
It's that simple. Silence in the face of injustice speaks so loudly. Let's be more active in fighting injustice...even in the smallest of things.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
In times of plenty, its very easy to worship God. Its as if there is a tangible reason to exalt Him when you have your health, wealth and good fortune.
But this is the thing: character is seen in how we respond to God when it seems like everything is going haywire and God seems far far away. There is a woman in the bible that I admire a lot. She's only spoken of in seven verses. She's unnamed. Not much is known about her. But we do know one thing: She had a great faith.
In Matthew 15, the Bible speaks of a woman from Canaan who saw Jesus on the road and cried out to Him for help. In the NKJV, verses 22-25 say:
22And behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same region and cried unto Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David! My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil."
23But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, "Send her away, for she crieth after us."
24But He answered and said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
25Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord help me."
I think that these verses are so powerful! This woman cried out in a time of agony and heard nothing from Jesus. She cried out so persistently that the people around Jesus -His disciples- asked that He send her away. She was so alone in that moment. It seemed like compassion was so far off. When Jesus said that she was outside of His jurisdiction, the woman still pressed on. She went to Jesus and worshiped Him still. This is such a beautiful thing. When her circumstances and the people around her urged her to give up and go away, she only sought Jesus more. She worshiped Him.
I learned so much from this woman in only seven verses, people. The next three verses read like this:
26But He answered and said, "It is not meet to take children's bread and cast it to dogs."
27And she said, "Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."
28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, "O woman, great is thy faith. Be it unto thee even as thou wilt." And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
After the woman worshiped Jesus, she still didn't get the answer that soothed her aching soul. You see, this woman was from Canaan, and the Canaanites were a people that worshipped false gods and didn't adhere to the ways the Israelites. Because of this, the Israelites were warned on many occasions not to follow the ways of the Canaanites; not to marry them or to worship their gods. So, when this woman from Canaan asked Jesus for a miracle, He told her that it just wouldn't be right for Him to give to her the same things He gave to the children of promise. The woman pressed on still, telling Him that she didn't care. She would take the leftovers. She would take the crumbs.
That is amazing...
After being pushed away many times, this woman knew that in Jesus, she found her only hope. She refused to give up. She pressed on until Jesus looked at her with a new respect; a respect for the magnitude of her faith. And after pressing on in worship and in intense pleading, her miracle was granted. Her daughter was healed.
Let's think back to the last time we worshiped Jesus even when it seemed like our worlds were ending. Let's remember the last time we were persuaded to the point of no return. We are no longer on the outside of the Promise. Through Jesus' blood we are taken into a beautiful and gracious covenant. We are God's children. We get the bread from the table, not the crumbs. Let's not settle for less. Let's worship and praise and pray and serve until we are given our rightful seat and our rightful portion.
I learned a lot from this nameless and faceless Canaanite woman. Perseverance built on persuasion. Worship in the face of turmoil. Faith in the face of adversity and rejection. Character.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Then a very VERY square man takes a seat next to me. When I say square, I mean SQUARE. Very straight-laced. The man is holding what looks like a portfolio that houses what looks like a short paper that an undergrad student would turn in for an English 101 assignment. Now, I will make this disclaimer: I'm not (that) nosy. I like to mind my own business, but for some reason my eye happened to read a few lines of this manuscript of sorts that my fellow commuter was holding. The first thing that jumped out to me was a passage from the book of Matthew. I was so excited! I thought to myself, "Yay!! He's a Christian! He's my brother!!! I'm so happy! We're gonna be friends and then we're going to encourage each other in the Word and blah blah blah..," silently rambling to myself about friendship with a person that most likely wants nothing to do with me! lol! I could not muster the strength to wipe the grin off of my face. Then I began to strategize...how can I introduce myself so that this beautiful friendship could commence? I decided to just go for it...
"Hi, I'm a Christian!" I said, with the biggest, cheesiest, corniest grin on my face. My heart was racing. I couldn't wait to hear his excited response!
The man turned to look at me and said, deadpan, "Oh...really?" and then turned back around to face the front of the train.
He most likely thinks that I'm THE creepiest person he's ever met. lol! The scenario did NOT go down like I was hoping it would! I was still smiling, though, because I was still excited about the fact that he'd be in heaven, but I made sure to keep that thought to myself before I scared him enough to make him bop me on the head with same portfolio that had gotten me into the mess.
The next stop was mine, so I had to leave my new bff without a proper introduction. But that's okay...we have all of eternity to make that happen...:)
Monday, August 24, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
5And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Theme: Manifesting the Sons of God
Dates: August 19, 2009- August 21, 2009 @ 7pm
August 22, 2009 @ 10am
August 23, 2009 @ 9am
Address: 11301 Rhode Island Ave.
Beltsville, MD 20705
Dates: August 21-22, 2009
Address: Anaheim Convention Center
800 W Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA 92802
Cost: $139 at the door
Dates: August 28-29, 2009
Address: University of Miami - Bank United Center
1245 Dauber Ave
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Cost: $139 at the door
MORE UPDATES TO COME!!!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I've been confronted with myself so many times...I mean I've had to take long hard looks at the woman I am...at the girl I used to be...and at who I'll become, and a lot of the time its a very scary sight...but God still loves me...and wants a relationship with me. He doesn't ask for anything in return, really...Yeah...He wants me to evangelize and to serve and to show love, but lets just be honest here...those very things are borne purely out of relationship with Him...so all He wants is relationship...and He knows (and I know) that its in the place of that relationship that my whole life's purpose becomes clear...suddenly I can see...and I can feel...and I can dream and hope...He gives me all that and so much more...and all He wants is relationship...
Sometimes I really sit and think...and it just seems so surreal..."Do I really get to call Your Name? Do I really get to talk to You? To sing and write songs for You? Do I really get to get a wealth of wisdon and knowledge when I read Your Word? Do I really get to bask in Your Presence? Do I really get to have all my sins washed away by Your Blood?" This love doesn't make the least bit of sense in my limited mind, but my heart and my soul and the core of who I am (my core is in Him) is completely drawn to this wonderful Essence of who God is...
I'm still learning, still grasping just how wide, and how deep, and how long God's love is...but the little bit I've encountered has gotten me hooked...I could look into the eyes of every human being that has ever said they loved me, and the next day those same eyes could hold a wealth of hatred and judgement...but never Jesus' eyes...His eyes always say, "I love you...I know you...I accept you..." and let me be honest...sometimes I don't believe Him...I think, "Look at me...how could You love me? How could You accept me?" and then He says, "No, you look at me..." and thenI believe Him...I really do...
Even when I fail, He loves me...even when people say bad things about me, that doesn't change how He sees me...even when I don't feel Him near, I know that He's still there...and for these reasons, I absolutely adore Him...and no one could make me walk away...no matter how many times I mess up I'll always run right back to Him...I have no other place to go...
My God is powerful, and almighty, and omnipotent, and righteous, and just and true, and He's pure in all Him ways...so if He chooses to love me...who am I to contend?
1 John 3:1, Romans 8:38-39, Jeremiah 31:3, Ephesians 3:17-19....
I love because He loves...
And I'm safe here in Your arms
Now that the waters are quieted
And I find that I'm unharmed
I can finally say that You are all I need
Now that beneath Your wings
I find shelter from the rain
Now that Your matchless love
Has outlasted all the pain
I can finally say that You are all I need
Where would I be?
Where would I be?
If Your love hadn't rescued me...
Where would I be?
Where would I be?
If Your love hadn't rescued me...
Now every second of the day
In every day of my life
My heart will sing Your praises
Because after I searched the whole earth, I found
That You are all I need...
There are things in life...situations...that try your faith...circumstances that will make you question things that you know to be true. They'll make you look at yourself and question the things that God has told you He loves about you...but this is when the beauty of relationship shines through. And I think that Paul realized this. That even in those times when life throws you curveballs that make you question and doubt, God is there to answer every question and quiet every doubting voice...this is how we can be persuaded. This is how I was persuaded. I know now that neither death nor life, nor heartache nor pain, nor faults and insecurities...nothing...absolutely NOTHING...can separate me from the love of God that I've found in Christ Jesus.
"The first time I see Your face, everything else around me will fade to the background...and I'll be struck full by the truth in Your gaze as You work an indelible change in me..."~Brooke Fraser