1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.
Greetings all, I am taking a short interlude here before I get back to the series of upcoming blogs “A More Excellent Way”. Before I get back to that series, God is dealing with me personally concerning the issue resting in God’s grace.
About two months ago I was on a “spiritual high”. You know those times where it seems you are just flowing with God and believing Him for the impossible in your life and the lives of those around you. At the start of that time, I had begun a fast that I truly believe was led by the Lord and helped me to consecrate myself more fully to Him. But then sure enough… whatever goes up must come down. It seems that I had been hit with a variety of situations all at once which came to really test my faith… and my response has seemed to been more of self-striving at times than staying in step with the Spirit.
I recently did a little retreat to get away from distractions and focus on Jesus… however that retreat seemed ineffective because the one thing I cannot seem to retreat from is myself. The heart is very tricky (Jeremiah 17:9) and often our attempts to deal with our pride are themselves ridden with pride. I felt that I needed to get away in order to really get with God… but the truth is that God is calling me/us to live in step with the Spirit so we shouldn’t necessarily need a retreat to jump start us spiritually… but rather all we need is a submitted heart.
Now we understand that we are saved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not by works but many of us fail to carry that to our daily walks in terms of sanctification and not merely justification. Although I understand that it is God’s Spirit of grace which is what builds me up in the faith and keeps me (Zechariah 12:10; Acts 20:32; 2 Timothy 2:1), my natural tendency is to want to work it out in my own strength. This is exactly what Paul rebukes the Galatians about concerning attempting to complete God’s work in the flesh (Galatians 3:3).
I believe Galatians 5:1-6 perfectly captures vanity of living by law/striving in the flesh as well as the freeing power of living by grace.
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
The whole purpose of Christ setting us free by His grace is not for us to simply run back to living under the law and striving to “help God out” but to live free in Him day by day. Paul specifically deals with the issue of the Judaizers attempting to force circumcision on gentile believers here, but we can take it today as an attitude of trying to “do” the law… trying to be better at keeping God’s commandments. Living by God’s grace is actually a higher standard than living by the law… therefore when we try to do the works of the law in our strength it is sub-par works and a “fallen” walk that we actually present. The key then is not trying to dot every “i” and cross every “t”, as a “good christian”, leading to condemnation when we inevitably fall short but to simply abide in the Spirit and let Him work through our faith. The word for wait in v.5 also means to look for or to expect fully… so our sanctification occurs then by simply having faith and look forward to/expecting the promise that Christ will fully make us righteous through daily sanctification and ultimately glorification. In other words… rest in Jesus, seek Him, and enjoy Him and His Spirit will work through us to be more like Him and remove any burden from the commandments (1 John 5:3). Our faith which leads to daily sanctification is ultimately activated by love (v.6) that is abiding daily in God’s love for us enables us to in turn respond in love back, perfecting our walk in Him (1 John 4:19).
Fam, I have been so distraught as of lately due to recent circumstances and how I have hurt others, although unintentionally, and it has made me want to self-impose restrictions on myself in order to not cause further damage and help to correct the situations but I realize all of that is vanity. I/we will fall short and sin/hurt others at times but our response should not be one of self-sanctification/correction which takes away from God’s grace but simply humbling ourselves before God and allowing His Spirit of grace to cover us.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Greetings again everyone!! Yes, I am back on that seemingly inescapable subject of love and how it is supposed to impact the life of the christian. Now, never should we focus on one attribute of God, especially love, to the detriment of God’s other attributes, i.e. justice, truth, etc. but realize that all of God’s attributes work in tandem, as they should as well in the life of the believer. Having said all of that, there is something about love which even unbelievers recognize as being fundamental to the concept of God and the life of the christian, however misconstrued their definition of love is. Love is the core fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer from which all other fruit should flow in a believer’s heart (Galatians 5:22-23) and it is also at the center of Christ’s purpose to redeem mankind (John 3:16). So if any other subject must be revisited time and time and time and time… again in our lives then it is certainly love.
Moment of transparency: Some of you may know that I have been on a fast of sorts (which is now coming to a close) and some of you may also know that I have recently gotten out of a courtship. Although, I will not reveal the specific details of such, I would like to mention that during this time God has been specifically dealing with me concerning walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and specifically loving in the Spirit (that is loving as Christ loves). God has convicted me of how far short I fall of truly loving as He does. He has shown me how much I have relied on my own strength and will to love others rather than truly loving supernaturally as Christ. When we love others out of ourselves then our love can only go but so far before we feel drained and have nothing left to give when we don’t feel the same reciprocal love. But to truly love in the Spirit means loving outside of yourself, it means drawing upon God’s love to empower you to love others even when you do not feel the same in return (1 John 4:19, John 15:9-10, John 13:34). Christ speaks about how easy it is to love those who love us in return (Matthew 5:46) but to truly love as Christ means to love those who put themselves against us or hurt us in some way… which at times can even be (or at least seem) like those who are closest to us. This is not an easy thing to do… in fact I would say that it is truly an “unnatural” thing for us to do considering our self-centered nature but rather we can only truly accomplish this authentic love through reliance on the Holy Spirit.
The power of Christ’s love on display is truly amazing and has the power to melt hearts. Some of you may know about the condition of my roommate and his health struggles to the point of near death (if you don’t already know then I am not at liberty to share the specifics. While visiting him this past week in the hospital, although I was grieving his condition, I was however encouraged by what God was doing in the midst of the situation. I saw the lives of those who were hardened to the gospel of Christ being softened as they witnessed the love of Christ that the brethren had for my roommate as well as his love for the brethren. This type of love is not seen in the world therefore it confounds and confuses others… but it also intrigues them. Deep down this is the type of love I believe everyone desires to experience regardless of their condition before God.
This type of love must start with us as believers first. Although we are called to love all people there is however supposed to be something special about the love that we as brethren in Christ have for one another that should make the world envious. This is why stuck in the midst of chapters 12 and 14 of 1 Corinthians is chapter 13… the famous “love chapter”. In the midst of Paul speaking about unity in the Body and the witness and edification of the Body through spiritual gifts is the concept of love… for without love all of our spiritual gifting is rendered useless and the Body becomes disjointed. As Paul admonishes believers to desire spiritual gifts, he says that he will show them a “more excellent way”. “More excellent” carries the connotation of having more value and “way” here speaks of a mode or means to something. Basically love is the means to add more value to everything that we do as believers. Everything that we do for God and others should be funneled through this love. We are to tap into this ultimate display of love that Christ has for us in our daily walks. So how exactly does this look and how do we accomplish that? Stay tuned for my following posts on this subject as we explore 1 Corinthians 13 and look at how Christ perfectly fulfilled this love and how He has empowered us to do the same.
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
Imagine what it would be like to throw caution to the wind~
To move about freely, no longer in the bondage of sin…
Loose every shackle and weight that so easily ensnares~
Stripped of every chain that the curse of sin bears…
Imagine if Christ’s purpose for giving Himself was not only for our justification~
So we are not just in waiting for His 2nd coming to defeat lust and satan…
Imagine if He sent His Spirit upon us to make us more than conquerors~
And the strength to fight temptation is not something we conjure up…
Imagine if believers drew upon God’s grace for daily sanctification~
No longer caving into sin but making war while patiently waiting…
Imagine if we broke the sin cycle and lived in victory~
And fulfill the chief end of man, bringing Him glory…
Imagine if the Bride would trade in her filthy rags of self-righteousness~
For a blood-washed white gown and fell before Christ and lived…
Imagine if the body of Christ would rise up and make disciples~
Put away motivational speaking and simply state the bible…
Imagine if revival broke out and we began pursuit of holiness~
Cast down our idols and no longer cursed You with phoniness…
Imagine if we began to take on the mind of Christ and walk in love authentic ~
Treating others as Jesus, our hearts set above in awed thinking…
Imagine if American Christianity resembled the Church in the book of Acts~
Spirit driven in all its decisions, would we be shook and gasp?…
Imagine a world turning to Christ instead of rushing to death~
All made possible if we walk in the Spirit to avoid the lust of the flesh…
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
John 16:7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
Greetings all!! It has surely been a long time since I have updated this blog. Hope you haven’t forgotten about your boi.. know you… yes YOU (whoever is reading this) is in my prayers.
Honestly, I have been in a difficult spot as of late… a difficult but necessary place. God is giving me a glimpse of just how much of “His” work and my attempts to obey “His” will are being done in “my” own strength… it is quite saddening really.
Have you ever been in that place where you are serving the Lord… I mean sincerely desiring to please Him… but you are drained by trying to accomplish this on your own? Where your attempts to love others, to witness the gospel, and even to seek God through fasting and prayer seem wholly inadequate?
Maybe I am speaking only to myself… but this dry season can seem unbearable at times. I am sick of the roller coaster of spiritual highs and lows… and I know this is not what God intended for His children.
So why is it that our intimacy with God seems to ebb and flow? Sin, doubt, fear, pride/self-reliance, etc.? All of these things definitely lead to our disrupted intimacy with God… but I think behind it all we do not truly understand/comprehend and are not completely awed at the fact that God dwells in us.
In John 16:7, Jesus speaking to His disciples, tells them of His going away… that is His soon coming death and resurrection… and He gives them the astonishing revelation that it is to their benefit/advantage that He goes away because as He departs He will send the Holy Spirit/Helper to them.
Let us put ourselves in the disciples shoes for a moment… just imagine having Jesus with you… witnessing His miraculous works first-hand, having his direct guidance and instruction. The Son of God walking with us, face to face, and teaching us in His ways… what could be better than that?!
The answer as Jesus presented it is the Holy Spirit dwelling not just with us… but since Pentecost we know have the Him dwelling in us. Reflect on that for a moment… the God of the universe… the very God who created the sun, moon, and stars, and made you from the dust… is actually dwelling inside of you!! He is not some mystical force but the Helper (parakletos – literally one who comes along side of) is the very sovereign God Himself.
I feel that although we know this theologically… we fail to live out this truth practically. I wonder what would happen if at every waking moment you and I reflected on the reality of God dwelling in us. Wouldn’t that reality totally shake our lives and the lives of those around us? It should!! If we truly walked out this reality than our lives would totally confound other people because they would have no rationally explanation for how we live our lives… apart from the fact that it “has to be God!”
I love this quote from Francis Chan (Forgotten God)
“I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power. I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through. That if He doesn’t come through, I am screwed.”
Am I or you… are we willing to put it all on the line for God?! To literally risk everything and be made uncomfortable so that the Comforter can truly show Himself strong in our lives? Without this willingness to risk it all then our lives will show an absence of the Spirit’s power and our lives will be explainable to men.
In this season I believe God is taking me to a new place of hope… that is literally an expectancy. I am being challenged to believe Him to change the lives of those around me and do this miraculous through me to draw men to Jesus that they may glorify the Father. My prayer is for that same hope to be in you. May God ignite the fire in us!
Holy Spirit, magnify Yourself in our hearts. May the reality of Your presence totally overwhelm and saturate our thoughts. Bring us to a greater dependency upon You. Take us to places and situations where we have no choice but to cry out to You for help and may You be our Helper in those times. Strip us of anything that takes our attention and focus off of You, break our self-reliance, destroy our doubt, and obliterate any fear of man in our hearts that seeks to exalt itself over the fear of God. Holy Spirit may we reverence You completely in our daily lives. Magnify Yourself through us so that men would see that we have been with Jesus and glorify our Father. I ask all of this in Jesus name, Amen.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Greetings, it has been a long time since my last blog post and for a good reason because I have had some growing and breaking to do personally and did not want to post something half-hearted but genuine and truly want to connect with God’s heart and help those who read this to do the same.
Today, I would like to explore the concept of God’s forgiveness and just how unimaginably vast it is and what our response should be in light of that. I know this topic, at least on the surface, seems overdone… I mean we all know about God’s forgiveness, right? We all (believers and unbelievers) can quote John 3:16, we all know that God gave His only begotten Son to save and forgive us of our sins but do we truly understand the depths of what that means or is our understanding cursory and shallow and unable to invoke real change? Please humor me while we explore this concept deeper.
I believe Luke 7:36-50 portrays a beautiful illustration of God’s forgiveness and our proper response to it.
36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.
37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume,
38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”
41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet.
46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.
47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
48 Then He said to her, “ Your sins have been forgiven.”
49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “ Who is this man who even forgives sins?”
50 And He said to the woman, “ Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Most of us are familiar with the story of the woman with the alabaster box. We focus on her act of worship towards Jesus as well as the Pharisee’s scorn of her “indecent” act. But what really brought her to that place of worship and faith before Jesus and why didn’t the Pharisee do the same? The reason is illustrated by Jesus in the parable that he presents regarding the moneylender and two debtors. Although both debtors were forgiven their debts their response towards the moneylender varied according to the amount they were forgiven. The one who was indebted and forgiven more would love more.
So what exactly does this mean to us and how can we apply it?
Our love for Christ is directly in proportion to how much we have been forgiven of or rather how much we perceive that we have been forgiven of. Now among those of us who are Christians, many of us recognize at least on a surface level that Christ has forgiven us of much sin but often our head knowledge does not translate to our heart. Many of us, even Christians, just do not realize the magnitude of our sins or how deeply our sin offends God therefore we do not realize the true depths of His forgiveness towards us nor do we love Him as we should.
One major objection people have about coming to Christ is the pervading view that mankind is basically good. Of course this belief is contrary to the clear view of scripture that none of us are righteous or inherently good (Romans 3:10-18). We often look at the next person and compare ourselves amongst ourselves (2 Corinthians 10:12) and believe ourselves as spiritually superior and good people because we don’t sin the same as others. We also do this as Christians and fail to take an ongoing self-inventory of our indebtedness to God. This causes our love for Christ to grow cold and for us to take judgmental attitudes towards others. If you are struggling to love God and others then perhaps you have lost appreciation of all that Christ has forgiven you of, perhaps in your heart you conceptualize that your debt is much smaller than it really is. So how do we deal with this?
The more that I grow in Christ then the more I begin to realize that true depths of my sin before God. Sin’s roots are much more deep then I had imagined when I first submitted my life to Jesus. Rather than leave me discouraged this should bring my focus back to the cross and give me a realization of the insurmountable debt that I owed and a greater appreciation of Christ’s forgiveness of me. This in turn should translate into me loving Christ more in return so that my love is deeper than before towards Him and others.
Picture it this way… imagine that you caused a car accident and left the car that you hit badly damaged… now imagine you don’t have a dime to your name and have no idea how to pay for the damage… then imagine the owner of that car tells you that he forgives you of the damage and is letting you go without paying for it… wow makes you really appreciate that person, right? Now further imagine that the owner of that car tells you that his son was in the car and died as a result of that accident but that he forgives you of even that… MIND BLOWN… now your love and indebtedness to this man has increased a million-fold. That is how our understanding of God’s forgiveness of us should naturally progress in our walk with God as He shows us more and more of our offenses against Him.
First we must recognize our deep transgression and indebtedness before God on a continual basis. Jesus did not deny the woman’s sins but rather stated they were “many”. Next our response should mirror our knowledge of God’s forgiveness of us and not be concerned about the opinion of others. For the woman who was a known sinner (two strikes against her in that culture) to come before Jesus and wash His feet with her tears, wipe His feet with her hair, and pour out the alabaster box on His feet to cleanse them was viewed as an extreme act of worship in light of the sin that God had forgiven her of. As our understanding of Christ’s forgiveness grows then so should our response. Our love for Christ should be viewed as extreme to this culture and even to other Christians. Some will look upon you with disdain as the Pharisee did to the woman and say that “you are doing too much” and “it doesn’t take all that to be a Christian”. Continue to press on in your love for Your Savior and don’t let others quench the fire. Finally our treatment of others should be out of humility for the forgiveness we ourselves have received and reflect that same love that has been bestowed upon us.
1 John 4;19
We love Him because He first loved us
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
1 Timothy 6:6
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Okay… so it has been over a month since I have arrived back from my trip to Sudan and I have seriously been struggling to write about my experience. Also when people ask me about my time in Sudan I struggle trying to figure out what to say. Much of my dilemma in expressing what happened in Sudan and what i actually accomplished there is due to the fact that to the natural eye it doesn’t seem like I accomplished much.
My trip to the orphanage/children’s home in Nimule, Sudan was for a total of just 14 days. 2 days were spent traveling through air and ground transportation to arrive there and another 2 days to get back. So that left me a total of just 10 days at the children’s home. Much of my time was spent simply adjusting to the environment and culture there. Most of you who know me understand that I am very fair skinned… so the sun and me are often at odds with each other. lol. And the one word i keep using to describe the heat is Sudan is “oppressive”. It was unbearably hot for me… and with no available AC or even a fan to cool me off… my body would wear out quickly from the heat. So most of the days i would become worn out after only spending a few hours in the sun with the kids. That being said… i honestly felt quite useless at times. In addition to the heat exhaustion i had gotten sick on my trip down there and felt sick off and on while i was at the orphanage. I believe that had i been there longer and had more time to adjust then i may have been of more use… but then again i realize now that was not the point of me being there.
As far as what I had actually done while i was at the orphanage… i led a bible study/devotional on 2 Corinthians 4:1-18. I was struggling with what to share with the children because so much was on my heart and i had even begun to plan another study… however God redirected me to that passage… not only to speak to the children and the staff at Cornerstone Children’s Home (CCH)… but also to speak to my own heart as well. God spoke to me and through me about being a broken vessell in His service and dying to self so that others may live. While there i also taught the 2nd grade class for a day. That was honestly a real struggle in patience and self control… because those kids were off the hook at times. lol. Also God led me to pray specifically for one kid who struggles with epilepsy and had several seizures while i was there… but I discerned something more behind it. I was reminded of the passage in Matthew 17:14-21 with Jesus praying over the boy with epilepsy and that he had a demon in him. I prayed for the boy and at least while i remained there he did not have any more seizures after the prayer… but he will continue to be in my prayers along with the rest of the children there.
Ultimately i realize that my experience in Sudan was more about God doing a work in my own heart more than anything else. I came there with so much on my mind and heart at the time… and I honestly don’t believe I fully prepared myself mentally for the trip… but God worked through that. There have been so many things tugging at me and vying for my attention and I can honestly say I wasn’t particularly satisfied with some seemingly negative developments in my life as well as a lack of what i viewed as positive opportunities in my life. However my trip to Sudan began to put everything back into perspective.
Being taken out of the self-indulging, self-helping, self-centered, and ultimately self-worshipping society which basically defines our great nation of the U.S. of A. and being placed in an impoverished nation at an orphanage among children who have been the victims of war and poverty… all of that is good for helping one to look at the big picture. I had realized that I had become bitter towards God about things that I believed Him for but have not come to pass… but realize now how selfish and arrogant my attitude was. Being in Sudan helped change my attitude and allowed me to refocus on my primarily objective for being… namely to glorify God, enjoy His love, and share His love with others. Ultimately i learned contentment while in Sudan. Observing the lives of those children at the orphanage, I truly saw God’s keeping power among them… that despite their lack (and maybe because of it) their lives were able to echo the words of Paul in Philippians 4:11-13. This kind of faith brought conviction to my own heart and brought me back to a place of self-denial and Christ exaltation.
8 Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9 That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
One more thing… my presence in Sudan allowed me to take this truth more to heart… that our riches can cause us to deny God but also our poverty can just as much cause us to sin against God. We can clearly see this truth demonstrated in our own society in the United States… where we are a nation of great riches but we are impoverished spiritually. Since we have a lot in causes us not to seek God as much because we begin to rely on our riches more than God. That is not at all what I witnessed in Sudan… because they had just enough to get by… they were truly dependent on God to supply their daily bread (Matthew 6:11) and did not have the means to supply their own needs. All of this solidified in my heart the desire to have just enough. I want to live as modest as possible for two main reasons: 1. I want to maintain my total dependency on God and not place my trust in my possessions, making them an idol; 2. I want to use any excess resources that God blesses me with to advance His kingdom and to aid those saints who are suffering… after all i am only a steward over what God supplies.
I would like to once again thank everyone who has supported my trip both through your prayers and donations. I pray that God richly bless you and your faithfulness to Him and I appreciate your presence in my life.
Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »