Crazy Love!

SCRIPTURE

Luke 5:28-29 “…, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

OBSERVATION/APPLICATION

Some things that Jesus says are just really hard to swallow. I’m a pastor and I have a hard time looking at these things. I can believe and have faith that He lived a sinless life, died for the sins of the world, came back to life and ascended into heaven. Why is it then so hard to believe that we can do what He commands us to do here? He says that we are to:

LOVE your ENEMIES, DO GOOD to those who HATE you, BLESS those who CURSE you, PRAY for ABUSE you (well at least you don’t have to hang out with them right? pray from a distance).

It’s easy for us to love the one we love, bless those that we care about, do good for those that like us and do good to us, and to pray for those that are doing good to us. Right’s it’s almost like, ‘keep it up bud, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.’

Here’s what Jesus is getting at. He didn’t come to sacrifice His life and become the sins of the world, JUST for the ones that would like Him and be nice to Him. He loves all of humanity, even His enemies, He is doing good to all, even those who hated Him, He blessed those who cursed Him and the ones that abused Him and hung Him on the cross, Jesus prayed for them ‘Father, forgive them…’

For this reason, if we are to be His followers, we FOLLOW what He did. To those that show us hate and bitterness, we love unconditionally!

It’s crazy! A lot easier said than done.

PRAYER

Father, help me to do this. Help me to not just love and do good to those that treat me well. Holy Spirit give me the eyes to see people as you see them and the strength to look beyond any hurtful things that might come my way. Thank you Jesus. Amen

(Also posted at http://www.newlifetc.com)

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11 Reasons Why My Wife Is Awesome

1.  My wife is American, I’m Mexican – Hello Green Card! Just kidding, I was born in the states, but our bi-racial relationship is difficult at times.

2.  She has carried 2 of those crazy things we call children for chunks of her life and now is currently carrying another.

3.  Both my boys somewhat resemble their father in looks (poor things; big head and big butt), but they definitely have her joy and charisma.

4.  She is a hard working lady and doesn’t complain when I fake sleep when the boys wake up wanting to be fed.

5.  Laura is a Nazi-Couponer; she saves us money on groceries and works hard to feed us well (clean and lean meals).

6.  Laura is a running machine, she inspires me to take care of myself and stay healthy.

7.  She is very funny! Non-stop joke machine, I love her goofiness and how she freely expresses herself.

8.  She has a killer voice!  Confession, when I was a kid I had a crush on the nanny from ‘The Sound of Music.’ When I met Laura, ‘The Hills Were Alive!’ I love when she sings around the house!

9.  She has a high value in loyalty, while having a low standard in men (refer to #2 – #3).

10. She is not high maintenance. The girl likes to get out and hike and camp and has even helped me dig out septic systems while in foreign countries on missions trips for our church.

11. The most important thing that is Awesome about my wife is her love for Jesus! She is in constant pursuit of Him, I know that is where all the other things flow from. That’s where she gets her joy, hope, grace and ability to love the way she loves.

Laura, You’re Awesome!!

Audacious

In my time of prayer today, I’m simply reminded to be AUDACIOUS!

I think this is for all who believe in Christ, to be audacious!

Audacious Faith – That the God of the universe, the God who loves you personally has the power to do anything!

Audacious Prayer – Because He is capable of anything, we can pray about everything we are incapable of, Dream Big, pray audacious and fervent prayers. Audacious faith and prayer spurs on Audacious Courage.

Audacious Courage – Allows us to see the impossible become possible, not because of our ability, but because we are confident in God’s ability. That kind of courage allows us to Love deeply, serve courageously and give generously

Audacious Love – Is always manifested in what we DO. Allow that fervent prayer add fuel to your love for others and how you serve and give to others.

Audacious Serving – It’s one thing to open a door for a person, its another thing to sell you car and give to someone in need.

When we start living Audacious lives, we can’t out-love, outlive, out-give, out-serve, out-do what God does through us. He will continue to provide for you, add to your faith, your strength, your vision, passion, and action. Try being audacious in your faith and prayer. He will transform you. I dare you!

Reverend Reversed

Scripted words, pen made of gold

Yearns for greatness and lips to be bold,

Lead, design, plan and devote

Believes he holds a song, a beautiful note

Humble in approach, a posture to grow

Pen and paper in hand, mind open to know

Kings invest, and coaches impart

But do they really know what lies in his heart?

He strives and toils, and hustles and slogs

Everyone sees, he’s working hard as a dog

The sweat looks clean, presentation pristine

Look closer, not everything is what it seems

He’s got to let up and let in

Ease up, back up and trust Him

The Holy Ghost who rewrites all plots

New songs, new minds, new lots

Gifted words, heart made of gold

Yearns for Christ and His story be told

Serve, give and devote

Heaven’s tune, living out every note

Humble in approach, a posture to grow

Knees on the floor, it’s no longer a show

He still grapples and struggles, he’s in the fight

Now it’s his family who will see the light

Life is not about the call it’s not about the post

Does he reflect Jesus to his family the most?

Changed and transformed, no longer rehearsed

This is the reverend who has been reversed

The Proof is in the Pudding

James 2:22

“You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works”

OBSERVATION

So often I hear people say (and I am guilty of this myself) “I just don’t know what to do, I’m waiting to hear from God”.

This statement is powerful, indicating surrender to God’s will and faith that God will provide a way and direction.

BUT and this is a big but. We often use that as a spiritual looking excuse for inactivity. Meaning, “I know what I’m supposed to do, I just don’t have the faith and gall to do what I believe God is telling to go do.”

Abraham is credited by James here to have faith and that faith was manifested in his works and his obedience. He didn’t have all the answers he was simply obedient and faithful. And because of his faith “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God.”

APPLICATION

Often we boast of having a faith in Christ. I think many ‘Christians’ miss out on true faith. It’s not just believing that Christ is King, it’s living it out. Walking in faith the things that He calls us to, stepping out even if you don’t see firm ground on the other side.

I don’t understand the saying ‘the proof is in the pudding’, but I think it may apply. Your faith is reflected in the way you live your life.

How you love, how you serve, how you give and how you’ve changed inwardly.

In the last 3 months, what has God done in your life? If we can’t respond to that, then maybe we aren’t walking in faith.

PRAYER

Holy Spirit help me to see the areas you are calling me to step out in faith. Your Word has quite a bit, you tell us to out and make disciples, to not neglect meeting in your name, you tell us to serve one another and people around us, you tell us to forgive and pray for our enemies, and many, many more kingdom building commands. Help me Jesus to realize those in my life and to lead others to do the same thing.

Swift Like a Ninja

SCRIPTURE   James 1:5-8

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

OBSERVATION

God really wants to give to us. Like a good father, one who truly loves to see his child smile and grow and prosper. God wants to see that glimmer in our eyes, that spring in our step of being cherished and adored and that security of being taken care of.

Therefore we can ask with all confidence for God’s wisdom. (Many have taken this text out of context and replaced it with a gospel of prosperity where ‘if one prays and believes, God does IT. The text here is talking about wisdom that God provides during trials). This is a kind of wisdom that allows us to wade through times of trouble, a wisdom that allows us to step through troubled times. Not necessarily without pain, but without loss of faith and growth, not necessarily unscathed, but faith fully intact. In fact a faith supplemented and strengthened, like rebar in cement, made to last and endure.

‘Do not waver’, he says do not doubt. Doubt is like saying ‘I don’t trust in God’s goodness.’

When we doubt we ultimately say, “I like God, but I’m not sure if He has it all together to know and understand where I am coming from or know how to equip me in my time of need.”

It’s like we are holding out for a better way than God’s wisdom. “Hmmm, you way is pretty cool, but I’m going to wait for the next bus, it might be more promising.” ATTACK THE DOUBT ASAP.

APPLICATION

I need to trust His wisdom and His goodness. It’s a step of faith, but I need to CONTINUALLY and CONSTANTLY ‘walk by faith and not by sight’.

PRAYER

Jesus, You are King of my life. My life is in Your hands, help me Holy Spirit to follow Christ completely and entirely with all of who I am. To Love how He loves, Say as He says, Think as He thinks, Do as He did, Serve as He served, Lead as He Lead, Surrender as He surrendered. Help me to trust in Your Goodness and Wisdom. Amen.

PS     ON DOUBT

It’s okay to doubt, just don’t stay there. Do not get complacent about your doubt! Once we do that, our hearts begin to callouss against God and His leading. Doubt can be used in a great way to add to our faith. Much like a ninja uses her opponents’ size, strength, momentum against the opponent. If she doesn’t act quickly, she may loose the battle. Use the urgency of that doubt to trump it and continue to grow in your faith and walk with Christ!!

Talking With Your Hands And The Angry Guy At the Grocery Line

I just got home from our ‘LifeGroup’ (its a smorgasbord of people, different walks of life, sharing life together, building community, centered on Christ and making a difference). A few things happened there tonight, I have to share.

  1. A Man Was Honest.
  2. Women Cried.
  3. We all Laughed.
  4. We Can’t Wait to See What Happens Next

Good thing these things didn’t happen subsequent from one another.

We’ve been talking about the Holy Spirit the last four weeks, and tonight’s session we asked the question ‘Why Do You Want Him?” (the Holy Spirit, He’s a person not a force). The purpose for tonight was to honestly ponder that question, so many people want to treat God as a genie in a bottle and not as who He truly is, the Creator of the Universe, the Lover of our Souls and the Perfecter of our Faith, to name just a few. But God has much more for us, He wants a continual dialog with us, a relationship, courtship, full on surrender to Him and His will. Allowing us to be empowered by the Spirit to do some cool stuff.

Tonight, something cool happened.

A Man Was Honest

A man risked it and shared openly about the pain we had caused him (we [the men] forgot about him, during a tough time), needless to say, he almost left our ‘church’. I am so thankful he didn’t. God used him powerfully tonight to show us (the men) how to not just have convenient friendships. ‘If it benefits me, I’ll be there for you!’

Women Cried

On the other side of the room we could hear sporadic moments of sorrow and crying from the women who sat on the floor sharing and praying. I don’t know the details of what was spoken. But I believe the Holy Spirit orchestrated the same thing for the women as He did for the men. Women shared, sadness seen and heard and listened.

Here’s what I think we learned:

  • Through listening to another’s pain and being able to sit there with them (not necessarily having answers), just existing with them in their pain… that person begins to heal. THIS IS HUGE!!
  • As these people begin to heal together momentum begins to happen and the family of God will grow. “I was transformed because of what God did through this group of people!!” “COME AND SEE!”
  • Community is defined by something much more eternal than a group gathering to talk about hummus and TO’s deal with the Hawks. God exists in community; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Because He is, so are we!

We All Laughed

It’s not just about the cry tests. Powerful, but we are not there to feel sorry for ourselves or to dwell solely on our past. So we laugh with one another and enjoy each other’s company. It’s so life-giving. The Spirit has a way of allowing us to be passionate about Him in a way that it brings glory to Jesus in so many ways, even if it makes us talk with our hands and hug people. THAT’S SO AWESOME!

We Can’t Wait To See What Happens Next

Not just next week, but next month and next year and next time I’m in line at the grocery store and the guy in front of me is angry at life and the Holy Spirit prompts me to pray for him and his family instead of judge him for his outward actions.

ps. there are some inside jokes here that you’d know if you were with us the last few weeks.

Enemy BFF

1 Samuel 27 – David chooses to bed in the land of his people’s enemy, Philistine country. This decision comes from a fear of safety from the hand of Saul. His actions cause David and his men to become obligated to do things out of sync with their faith.

Observations

A. David chose his safety from Saul to be with his country’s enemy, minimizing God’s strength.

B. Through the process he compromised his truest character and purpose in life, king over Israel.

C. In his venture to seek safety over God’s will, David was contracted to commit actions that betrayed his character and reputation. (v. 11, 12)

Applications

A. For us, even when faced with an endless opposition such as David faced with Saul, we are challenged to stay true to God and His Word, maintaining faith that He will not leave us or forsake us.

James 4:4 says “Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” 

[This isn’t saying to unfriend everyone on Facebook who doesn’t go to church with you]. This means that in order to protect yourself, we don’t behave in ways that contradict our faith. We remain faithful that He is in control and knows the way for us.

B. We learn from David’s actions that even the greatest men and women of God sometimes make mistakes, but because of God’s great grace and promises, He still restores His people; reconciles and redeems us. Let’s continue to pursue this God of mercy and granter of life and purpose! 

Prayer

Thank you Jesus that you restore and redeem, thank you for your sacrifice on the cross and thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to guide us and protect us and strengthen us through great peril. Help us to honor you in all we say, think and do even when we cannot see all that you see and even when faced with circumstances that look too big for us to handle. Amen.

Friendship Is Thicker Than Blood?

1 Samuel 20

Observations / Application

Saul is bent on killing David. He will stop at nothing to see this young man die, he knows its inevitable  that the throne will belong to him instead of his own son Jonathan.  But we see Jonathan’s heart and soul are tied together with David’s. A true friendship and bond, thicker than blood.

True Friends, they CAMP with you through life’s journey.  They form Covenants, Accountability, Live on Mission with you and Protect you. Take a closer look.

True Friends Are Covenantal (v.16)    Through thick and thin, this bond is strong, much a like a marriage. Refined by the fires of life and trials of sometimes violent discomfort. True friends stick it out and don’t allow circumstances or geography to come between the bond. Only upon betrayal do they forfeit that bond. It’s a trust through time that cements the covenant.

True Friends Are Accountable  (v. 4-5)   True friends keep each other accountable. Just like in protecting one another from dangers, part of that protection is helping that man become the man that he is called to be. If my bro fails in helping me stay accountable, he fails as a brother. Part of that accountability piece is the openness to receive correction from your friend. Being humble and open to receive from your friend how you might possibly be headed in a wrong direction.

True Friends Look At the Mission (v. 31)   True friendship is larger than life. It’s not simply about the bond between two people its about the mission they have been given to live out in this world. In David and Jonathan’s case, the mission is to preserve the promise of God to the nation of Israel – that David would be king and continue to carry out the bigger picture and promises given to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3)

True Friends Protect (v.2)    Jonathan will guard his friend from danger, even if it is his own father that brings danger. Friends don’t only protect from others causing danger. True friends protect us from the danger we can cause ourselves. They are truly in the details of your life and look out for our best interest despite our emotions or feelings. They tell it like it is, full of grace and truth. Just as Jesus would.

Looking at the life of Jesus, this is the kind of love we are to provide for those that we call brothers and sisters in the faith. To CAMP through life. As we CAMP together others will see this love and be attracted to it and thus given themselves to walk with Jesus and decide to CAMP with us as we grow.

Prayer

Father, help me to be this kind of friend to other. Help me to continually choose carefully who becomes a Jonathan in my life, but also, help me Lord to be a Jonathan to a few others. We can’t do life without people like that in our lives; bring some men (I recognize Lord that there may be a few in my life already) in my life that I can CAMP with through out life. Amen.