“Sometimes Love Does Not ‘Feel’ Good”

Jesus has been teaching me a lot lately about abiding in the Truth of His promises no matter what the circumstances. A lot of what He was revealing to me seemed very elementary and cliche’, but powerful nonetheless. These revelations also came in handy in some relationships I have. I hope it blesses you…

“…He wants us to cling so tightly to His promises, and believe in them so much that nothing can phase us – nothing can touch us – and no situation can steal our affections toward Him…”

Last week was very dry for me. I was getting a bit “down” and frustrated wondering “why” I couldn’t “feel” Him, etc. I kept asking “why would He not want me to feel His love all the time!?” It was in those frustrations that He just reminded me how small my understanding of His love is. He wants to know me and me to know Him in such a deep and intimate way – a way that I simply do not understand at this point, but that He wants to teach me. He spoke to me that He was developing FAITHFULNESS and maturity in me during this “dry” season. He wanted to know that I wasn’t just around for the “good ol’ mushy feelings”, but ALSO the “tough/dry” times (which, by the way, are ALSO His love! haha! He totally blew the lid of the box I had put His love in) You see, He spoke to me that a love that is merely a feeling is a shallow and immature love. Sometimes, love doesn’t “feel” good at all. I liken it to this…

When Morgan and I got engaged we were all bubbly, gushy, and FULL of PURE BUTTERFLY “FEELINGS” toward one another. It was great. It was definitely love. However, it was a very limited/surface picture of the love that Jesus wanted to develop in us over time. We didn’t really KNOW each other in such a way that would even allow us to truly LOVE each other. Jesus wants to KNOW us in the ways that allow us to LOVE Him more deeply – yep, that means that there will be times we don’t feel Him at all. Now, Morgan and I still have butterflies for each other =) hehehe. However, our love has matured into something much deeper and more beautiful than it was when we got engaged. It doesn’t “feel”, on the surface” as “good” at times, but we both know it is a special and DEEP kind of love that allows us to know and pursue one another in ways that we NEVER could/would have when we “felt” all gushy during engagement. Make sense? I know you all know this. I just thought I’d share something fresh on my heart Jesus has been teaching me. He blew me up last week with His desire to produce maturity and faithfulness in me that goes so much further and deeper than emotional feelings. He wants us to cling so tightly to His promises, and believe in them so much that nothing can phase us – nothing can touch us – and no situation can steal our affections toward Him.

Advertisements

A Kingdom Paradox {one of many}

A quick thought from my personal worship time with Christ this morning…thoughts?

It seems that we have pursued (Been taught to pursue) personal fulfillment, comfort, “self-help”, & our own happiness in our religious pursuits. Because of this we do not know how to actually hear God’s voice and be obedient. Even if we learn to hear/know God’s voice (based upon scripture, prayer & other disciplines) we don’t seem to have the capacity/faith to obey it because it usually is not what is easy/comfortable. (Most of what we have been taught in our Christian pursuit is how to manage our personal relationship with God, avoid sin, and be “happy” as a Christian) Everything we’ve pursued in our Christian life was in pursuit of comfort and an “easier” life. If something “hard” does come along we write it off as “persecution”, and the enemy trying to attack us.

“Lord, continue to teach me how to hear your voice, and obey even if it goes completely against what seems logical at the moment. Grow my faith to trust what you’re up to. I can say it all day, but I want you to give me opportunities to act out those tough decisions in real life. Thank you that there is grace for it all.”

Removing [More] Ignorance…

“Ignorance often breeds unnecessary fear and violence.” (p.74 Chandler, Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road)

I hope the thesis of my last post was that we, as Western Christians, need to get out of our comfort zones/”Christian Bubbles” in order to engage people who are different from us. Specifically, how can we go out of our way to encounter Muslims, and allow the Spirit of our Savior, Jesus, to show Himself? First, we must burn away the false pretenses we have in our minds about those who are different from us; during this conversation we will focus on Muslim, but you can apply these principles to any situation where differences exist…

In response people who say, “I hate Islam”, Mazhar asks, “What Islam do you hate? There are so many expressions of it…I cannot afford to hate Islam, or anything. For me, hate connects with fear, desire for revenge and unforgiveness.” (p.74, Pilgrims)

I doubt any of you who read this blog would really say you “hate” Muslims. However, our actions, whether conscious or not may speak hatred louder than we may think.

“Christians are in danger of repeating harmful periods of history when the West has gone to war on the Muslim East to conquer, physically or spiritually, in the name of God. Muslims rarely hear “Good News” from Christians; instead they feel targeted as enemies of a new war.” (p.74, Pilgrims)

The book I am currently reading right now is called “Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road“, by Paul-Gordon Chandler. It’s a wonderful book, and is helping me to remove quite a bit of the ignorance in my life regarding Islam. It is currently touching on some major issues that we do not have time to go into (Mainly, how our Western view & practice of “missions” & “missionaries” MUST change, and will soon, if not already be ineffective in the world.)

The book has also touched quite a bit on war…

“In the war in Iraq, both Western Christians and Arab Muslims prayed for God to give their respective side victory-seeing it as a moral or holy war.” (p.73, Pilgrims)

Ouch. Think about that for minute. Are we so arrogant to think that God “sides” with OUR country as opposed to an Eastern Country? If I’m not mistaken, Jesus Christ Himself was born and raised in the East. Not to mention the Christian Church was birthed THERE, and spread from THERE to HERE. Who do we think we are, really? I’m not sure God “sides” with any particular country, or region of the world at all…I think He might want all to know Him and the power of His resurrection, but I could be wrong…

“The most beautiful part of the Gospel…the cross…became a weapon used against us in crusader’s hands (Crusader in Arabic means “cross-bearer”). The cross, where God had embraced humanity, had become a sword.” (p.74, Pilgrims)

I hope this causes us all to stop and think about how our country approaches war, and engages in battle with others for the “freedom” of our “Christian Nation”. Put yourself in the shoes of the countries we’re waging war war against and think for a moment what they must perceive about us…the thoughts that come to my mind are far from a gracious, loving, Savior God whom I’ve found in Jesus.

“The Christian West is often seen by Muslims as generally immoral and supportive of a regime which they perceive as having for decades humiliated both Muslim & Christian Palestinian people.” (p.73, Pilgrims)

We’ll stop here for today, but will continue later this week with a short story of my visit to a local Mosque here in Las Vegas…I hope you will all begin to open yourselves up to beginning a relationship with someone who is different from you-Jesus did it….A LOT. We do it…A LITTLE, if at all.

Dependent.

I have been thinking a lot lately about things that we are dependent upon as Christians in America & in the church in America. Sadly, my thoughts have not brought me to the person of Jesus Christ, and the leading power of His Holy Spirit. It would seem as if HE IS NOT ENOUGH.

I have had many conversations with many of you over the past few months about things that we are dependent on. These are things that, if they were taken away from us, we would not know what to do/how to function. We MIGHT survive, but you can forget a flourishing walk with Christ that usher’s in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

It is very odd to me that most arguments or discussions I hear regarding “church” and what it means to follow Christ are rarely about an individual’s complete denial of self, and pursuit of the Great Commission. Instead, they are about things other than that…things that are seemingly irrelevant compared to the above. We will talk about “how to do church”, “church structure”, doctrine, staff, gatherings, elders, pastors, programs, worship, sermons, podcasts, etc. etc. etc.

I began to think…in my thinking I began to discuss these thoughts with some individuals. I began to introduce scenarios that lacked the above elements (“church”, structure, institution, pastoral staff, programs, worship services, sermons, teaching, childcare, youth groups, small groups, Bible Studies, etc.) and those I spoke with started getting VERY uncomfortable. They began to speak back at me as if I had just denied Christ and the Cross. It was as if it were THOSE things that mattered, as if THOSE were the things that held the most value in the kingdom. It was as if THOSE were the things they were dependent upon, and if they were taken away there would be no way to function as a follower of Christ.

My mind began to wonder to other countries where the believers there have NONE of the things in either of the above lists. They have Christ. They are LUCKY if they have a few pages of the Bible, and enough food to eat on a daily basis. Chances are they do have a thriving community of other believers who are in the same boat as them, completely & utterly dependent upon Christ. You see, Christ is enough for them. They have nothing BUT Christ, and it’s enough. They don’t “need to be fed”, or tickled by some fancy guitar riff in the middle of a Hillsong….song. They don’t need to be entertained by funny sermons or podcasts, and they certainly don’t need a group of professionals planning out their monthly service project or weekly program. (Not all of these things are BAD, however, when we become dependent upon them, and cannot fathom life without them it is DANGEROUS)

It would appear as if we, as Christians in America, are dependent upon a lot of things; Christ does not seem to be one of them. We seem to be too wrapped up in idolatry to notice our need for a risen Savior. Yes, I said IDOLATRY because that’s what we do. We don’t worship Christ. We worship the things in the lists above. We worship & idolize & are dependent upon them because if they were taken away from us our “faith” would fall to pieces. We would be left in shambles.

“Christ, forgive us for our idolatrous hearts. Turn us back to you. Do whatever it is that you must do to cause us to place you above any other gods. We need you.”

What are some other things that you can think of that the church in America may be dependent upon? (Things that an average Christian might not know what to do without if it were taken from them)

Whew, We’re Not The Only Ones…

As I was reading in Mark 9 I was comforted to know that we are not the only ones who constantly spit on the cross by refusing to fully accept the sacrifice that Christ made on it for us. We are not the only ones who seek to “supplement the cross” in our pursuits to please God & earn His favor with our good deeds/works. Three of His “best students” seemed to be bent towards that same brokenness as well…

At the beginning of chapter 9 Jesus brings Peter, James, and John up on the mountain with Him. Then, something supernatural happens. Jesus’ clothes become dazzling white, and Elijah & Moses appear before them talking to Jesus. Check out our brilliant friend Peter’s response…

5Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

7Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Peter has a supernatural encounter with God, and look what his FIRST response is…He immediately wants to DO something for Jesus. It’s almost like he wants to impress Jesus with his good idea. (Although confining Jesus, Elijah, and Moses to a shelter does not seem like too great of an idea to me) God the Father has to yell at Peter from the clouds to get him to shut up and listen; by then it’s too late…

8Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

I wonder what would have happened had Peter kept his mouth shut, watched, and listened? Instead, he immediately feels the need to work, to do, to perform, & earn the favor of Jesus. Jesus wanted them to experience, and witness that wonderful happening. I wonder if Peter missed out on something powerful that he needed to hear. (If he did I’m sure Jesus filled him in later – Peter did, after all, end up doing some pretty neat stuff in the kingdom=)

I also realize that this is before the cross, so the disciples have a reason NOT to understand/accept it at this point; it hasn’t happened yet! So, we can cut them some slack here. We, however, can’t use that same excuse…

How often do we bypass the, “This is my son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” part because we are too busy trying to impress Jesus with our grand ideas of kingdom growth strategery, and performance based lifestyle? Do we often miss out on something God may be trying to teach or show us because we’re busy trying to show HIM how good we can be for Him?

“Christ, thank you that you have grace, and patience for us even when we fail to grasp even the most basic principles of your life.”


Too Long For Twitter…

I wanted to post this wonderful quote by Neil Cole as a Twitter update, but it’s over the maximum 140 characters allowed by Twitter. I just couldn’t pass up sharing this short, but powerful sentence. It’s from a blog that Neil posted today in a series of blogs he’s posting called “False Ideas“.

“…The way we try and remove ourselves from the “secular” world for fear of losing our spiritual power demonstrates that we actually believe more in the power of the darkness than we do in the light of Jesus Christ. Ouch!”   -Neil Cole-

I would encourage you to go read the entire post. I believe it is hitting the root of why Christianity is on a decline in the West.