Monday, August 30, 2010


“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

-Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 5:43-48) NLT

"Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasinly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family."

-Henri Nouwen
Jesus was 'tested' by an 'expert' in the law when asked: 'teacher was is the greatest commandment of the law?' In the end Jesus summariezed that it was love- at the core of the answer and at the core of the law should be love. Now, that's an interested concept considering we all have a tough time with love-especially when it comes those who have betrayed us. There are those who have hurt us physically, emotionally, and whole-heartedly. But Jesus tells us to pray for them and He takes it a step further...He calls us to love them. In fact we are told that if we are to be true children of God we are to love.
So why is it that we love ourselves more than we love others? What is the reason that we push away those we love and who truly love us to seek an empty love instead? I think it's found in a fundamental change concerning our society and culture. When you look at television ads they give us a false sence of the world-if we party, we are 'social' and we have friends (most beer and cigarette commercials). If we have the latest and greatest cell phone or computer, we are 'connected' and cool-we can show our friends we're keeping up with the times and demands (think Verizon and BestBuy). 
I mean seriously, did you see the last BestBuy commercial? The guy is talking about a tv and blu-ray player combo/deal going on and it has the latest technology! In fact, they make it a point to show that you can 'tweet' while on the couch. Really? I thought that if I had a phone with the twitter application I could do that already...honestly, do we need this stuff?
In Henri Nouwen's book: 'Reaching Out' he talks about how we actually don't deal with our fear of loneliness. Instead, we choose to busy ourselves by clinging to other things that change our focus away from such an anxious thought. In fact, we cling to relationships in hopes that it will make things better and that we have convinced ourselves that this will be better.
When was the last time you took some time to be alone? When was the last time you took a step back, took a deep breath, and took some time to really search yourself? It's no wonder most of us keep asking ourselves: 'is there more to this life'? Nothing is filling us up anymore! We move from one relationship to another and often ruin relationships and ourselves in the process. 
There are those of us who have in the past and still continue put ourselves out there for the enjoyment of others-debasing ourselves in hopes of finding a common ground, when we know there's a difference between those who laugh at us and those who laugh with us. 
So, what is your definition of 'neighbor'? I think we have taken a step or two back concerning our definition. In fact, I think the Old Testament definition of neighbor is our definition today. Would you like to know what it meant back then? Back then, your 'neighbor' was someone who merely held the same believes and convictions as you-it was a click. When I think back on what neighbor means to means someone outside of my usual group of friends. Someone outside my comfort-zone.
When you look at what Jesus said in the above passage, He's trying to broaden the minds of those around Him. He's trying to get everyone to think outside the box-to see that 'our neighbor' has a much broader meaning. Yes, it can be someone whom we don't know or never met, but it is also someone who we no longer associate with because of past differences.
Lets be clear though, Jesus didn't say that we won't have enemies, He merely points out the core issue-that we're still bound by love. You see, Jesus changed the game! Just as the sun rises on those who are evil and those who are too did He die for all us-the just and unjust alike.
I know you've heard a lot of things in your life, but I challenge you to remember that we're all children of God and that we're all loved and called to love. While some have gone astray (and that may have been you or may be you now), that doesn't mean we are to stop praying for them. We may not like what they do, but we are still called to love (and that can be tough and downright hard)...always remember that you are loved and that you're called to love.

Monday, August 2, 2010


'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.'
-Marianne Williamson

'For my yoke is easy and my burden is light'.
-Jesus (Matt. 11:30)

Many of us know what it's like to live in darkness-feeling separated from God. We can all relate to feeling alone, broken, afraid, and lost. We can also feel deep down within us a yearning for more in this life. Many of us have searched to fill that void with careless relationships-giving more and compromising everything to attain and eventually keep it. Whatever we choose to chase to fulfill our need at that time only reflects our need feed the 'me' in life.
Think about it...if we 'follow our heart' in every situation, we will continue to fail if we don't seek God first. Our heart isn't His heart and he wants so much more for you and I, but we have to let Him in...we have to give up our control. You and I know what lies down the road when we do things our way-it leads us into more failed relationships, half-hearted attempts, and a more 'righteous' anger towards God. The funny thing is...we're not righteous in our anger towards Him. In fact, He is the one who has a right to be angery with us.
You and I continually squander the blessings God has given us and we've become so blinded by our own pursuits and goals that we expect God to bless us. *Below is a video of Jad Dean. He talks about this very thing, but he also talks about how God spoke to him through the 'dark' time in his life...
So lets dig in deep here...we need to recognize that sin separates us from God-which means it also keeps us from thinking or seeing things clearly. We've all blamed someone else for something we did or didn't do-whether it's our brother or sister, our co-worker, or family member. The reason we did such a thing was because we had convinced ourselves we weren't to blame-that we had no part in the act.
David writes in Psalm 51:5-17 about sin and how God wants us to be broken and how He doesn't reject a broken spirit. In the last blog post I mentioned how interesting it was that we blame or give God credit for all the nasty things that happen...that during times that are good-He's often forgotten. Lets not forget God in our daily lives.
I think that onces you and I are willing to accept our situation-sometimes our own delusional thoughts we can move on and see things clearer. In 1st John 1:5-10 we find out that God is light and that nothing is hidden from Him. When we convince ourselves as Christians that God doesn't know...we're only lying to ourselves. In fact, if we say we have no blame or better yet, no sin...we are liars and the truth is not in us. How does that make you feel? *Knowing that you're a liar and that when it comes to your relationship, your situation, what you claim isn't true at all.
So what darkness are you walking in right now? What secret are you hiding from your friends, family, and co-workers? What is holding you back from accepting it, letting go of it, and being free from it? God doesn't want us to walk in darkness anymore and we don't have to.
My prayer is that you take up His invitation...for His yoke is easy and his burden is light...lay down your crown-that one you bestowed upon yourself and see just how far you can go-how much you can achieve with God's true blessing.
Enjoy the video below...I hope it changes the way you view the lie to 'follow your heart'-choose to follow God's heart.