RSS

Category Archives: Christian Life and Witness

the sinners prayer PART III

I am back among the blogger living.  At least for another week or so.  It has been a busy school year as a teacher and a father of a now almost one year-old and almost four year-old.  But, I have finally found some time (winter break) to do a little writing.  So now it is time for the final installment of what God has taught me about the sinner’s prayer.

For a refresher, go back and read Part 1 and Part 2 and then come back.

Are you back?  Great!  Here we go.

Quick summary (in case you did not go read):

  • Part 1- I am amazingly disobedient and selfish toward God, and he is exceedingly patient and loving towards me.  His “no” and discipline it is out of love and care for my soul.
  • Part 2- Being a Christian and my hope of salvation is not built on a moment in time when I “did” something.  It is not a prayer, a pastor handshake, or a dip in water.  It is a life marked by change that can only be explained by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, I am a destable sinner in utter need of the saving, life changing gracce that is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  And that circle me back around to the original thought that sparked the start of this series of posts.  The sinner’s prayer and what it means for my life today.

The basics of the sinners prayer is communicating this to God:

  • We realize our sinfulness and inablity to do anything about it.
  • We know our separation from God because of this sinfulness.
  • We accept and believe that Jesus came, lived a sinless life, died a gruesome death, and came back to life again…and that he did this all to make us right with God.
  • We commit to a life of loving, trusting, and believing God and following him.

Some of us were lead through prescribed prayers that cover all of this, some of us were given the basics and encouraged to pray from our heart, and others may even have just been lead to pray without any leading at all.  But the gest of it is that we acknowledge that we are sinners separated from God, Jesus paid the price for our sin before God, and that we will live in trust of this and follow where he leads our lives.  The sinner’s prayer.  Basic and simple.  Proof of a change of heart.

“CupofJoe Guy, we get it.  What’s your point?”

Well, my getting irrated with the comment I mentioned that I read on Facebook (mentioned in Part II), led God to work on my heart.  Why did the overemphasis on the prayer itself bother me so much?  What was wrong with my heart that this was such a big deal?

God started to burn in my heart and mind the idea of the simplicity of the sinner’s prayer.  If the evidence of my salvation is a marked life with change and not a momentary prayer, how am I doing with that?  What does my life look like?  Am I characterized by this change of heart and life?

Slowly, the fact was impressed upon me that the sinner’s prayer is for me.  It is about me.  It is about my relationship with God.  Not the time I said it when I was six, but it is about my daily relationship with him.  Do I start each day with an admittance of my sinfulness and separation, a renewal of trust in Jesus sacrafice and resurrection, and a commitment to follow and trust him?

I don’t.  I live many days without any thoughts in this direction.  I am so focused on my day-to-day life that my relationship with God is mostly an afterthought if I give it any thought at all.  God gave me the realization that I need to begin each morning with the sinner’s prayer.  I need to start each day fresh.  I need to live each day in trust of Jesus.  I need to remind myself of that.  I need to preach the gospel to myself, accept it, and pray to admit and commit that day to follow God.

Have I lived each day this way since these revelations?  No.  But I have somewhere to start from each day, and I pray that it will become a daily instinct to one day start each day this way.

I know it has taken a long time to finish this thought, blogwise, but hopefully God will use the lesson God taught me to help you in your daily relationship with him.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, I am a sinner.  I am sperated from you based on anything I do or offer of myself.  Only Jesus was able to live a life that did not deserve death.  I know that his death on the cross allowed him to take my sin and your wrath.  I believe that he really died and was truly raised again.  I commit to you today.  Help me follow you today.  Please lead me and help me to obey.  I love you.  your son, joe

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , ,

Jesus Voted Democrat in 2008

I know I just offended a bunch of people by using that for a title.  Was that on purpose to get your attention?  A little.  However, it is also very much the point I want to make this morning.  Actually, this post has been brewing in my mind for quite a while.  I feel it is timely to pull the trigger on it because I live in South Carolina, and we are at the center of the Republican primary fight until Saturday.

Before you get out your pitch forks and torches and come hunting to string me up for making such a claim, please hear me out.  This comes from some of the stuff God has been teaching me over the last year, and he is still teaching me even now.  I feel like it is time to share some of these thoughts and maybe start a conversation about them.  Maybe God is teaching you some of the same things.  Maybe he needs you to start thinking about them.

Let me start with my credentials.  I am a recovering hardcore conservative.  I am still really conservative, but the edges are starting to soften.  As long as I can remember, I have been interested in politics and the way the world works.  I started watching the news at a very early age, I followed the events of the world, and I asked my dad questions all of the time about America’s leaders (he was a Marine, so I figured he should know).  The first time I saw the White House was like going to Disney World for me.  One of my prized possessions is the letter I got back from the first President Bush after I wrote to him during the Persian Gulf War.

As I grew up, I became more and more set in my political thoughts.  I was a proud Republican.  I thought the Religious Right was always right.  Conservative became a badge I loved to wear.  I was really into the primary politics during the year I was a senior in college.  I really felt like I was being a good Christian to be pulling for the “good guys.”  When I met Christians who labeled themselves “liberal,” I almost always doubted their faith.  I did not know how that could be possible.

That pretty much stayed somewhat the same until very recently, except for the doubting of people’s faith…I stopped doing that a long time ago.  God really did a work on the amount of trust and stock I put into politics and conservatism as a movement.  When God took a hold of me last year and shook me awake, he opened my eyes to who he is, what the world is for, and my place in it all.  A part of this was seeing that maybe there is more than labels like conservative and liberal and more than who might be in office at any given time.  Maybe I need to put less worry into it.  Maybe God is in control way more than I give him credit for.

As I wiped the sleep from my spiritual eyes, I started to realize a few things that I need to refocus on:

  • God is sovereign, and this includes our government.  No matter who is leading our country, the bills they are passing, or how much it seems they are ruining or helping the “American way,” God is not asleep at the wheel.  He knows what is going on.  He has been around a while.  He has seen countries come and go.  As a matter of fact, he was the one who caused the comings and the goings.  He knows what he is doing.  If a democrat or republican becomes president, it is not like this is a shock to him.  Like what this means or not, who ever sits in the Oval Office was put there by the Almighty himself.  Really.  Romans 13:1  says, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”  All authority comes from God.  That means it truly comes from him and is intended by him.  Those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.  Despite what you might think about it, God put both George W. Bush and Barack Obama in the role of President.  Really.  I know that may be hard for people on both sides of the matter to take, but it is true.  God is ultimately in control.  We kind of just need to deal with it, trust him, and get to the bigger job of loving him and loving others.
  • I need to trust and submit to what ever authority I am under, even if they are a different political party.  Not that there is anything wrong with supporting and being involved with a political party, I myself fully intend to vote in the republican primary on Saturday.  We live in a democratic republic (those of my readers who live in the US, at least), and we have the right to vote.  We need to take advantage of that.  However, there has to be more to life than that.  Be involved, but we can not make that our identity.  God has called us to so much more than politics.  We can write to Congress and try to get our voices heard, but there has to be more than that.  At some point we need to realize that God put these people where they are, and though we disagree we need to submit to their authority.  Do what you can to get things changed, but do not make this your whole life.  God has called us to two major jobs, and that is to love him and love others.  We can do that no matter who is in office and what they are doing.  We can do that even if we had a monarch or dictator (though it would be more difficult).  When we submit to our rulers, we are really submitting to God.  That is what we are supposed to do.  If you doubt, go read further in Romans 13.  Verses 2 through 5 are pretty clear on this point.
  • Agree or disagree with taxes and what they go to pay, we need to pay them.  I intended to just focus on trusting and submitting to authority, but I decided to end out Paul’s thoughts in Romans 13.  The final thoughts on government are in verses 6 and 7, “Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.  Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.”  I know I might be opening a can of worms on the taxes thing, but if we are to trust and submit to our government, we need to pay our taxes and move on.  Seriously.  It would be nice to have extra money, but we need to trust what God is doing.  Use your vote to try to change things.  Write a Congress person or two, but just move on.  Don’t spend your life worrying about the taxes.  God is in control and he will take care of you.

That brings us back to the title.  Jesus did vote democrat in 2008, and his vote was the only one that counted.  The hard part for us, especially as free-voting Americans, is to realize that no matter who “wins” office it is God-ordained and our job to realize God’s authority through it.  Politics can not run our lives.  Worry about who is in leadership has never been meant to be.  Yes, we do need to do our part, vote, and contact leaders when we disagree.  In the same note, we need to move past that and look for what God has for us to do day to day.  Even if our country fails and we are thrown into uncertainty, God is still God and he is still in control.

So go vote, but also love everyone around you and show them God’s love…no matter who they vote for.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, please help me know your authority and submit to it.  Help me to see you no matter who is in office.  Thank you.  I love you.  Your son, Joe.

 

Performancing Metrics

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Christmas Thoughts: Happy Holidays and the Kingdom of God

A few months ago, my friend and fellow blogger (the one who inspired me to start, actually), Bill Moore, got me thinking about the culture war.  In his post, Conscientiously Objecting to the Culture War, he talked about the American Christian war for the American Culture (which somehow adopted Bill O’Reilly as it’s mascot…or he adopted himself as the mascot…who knows?).  I used to be all about this.  Our need to claim moral authority on our society.  Bill (Moore) challenged me to rethink my focus.

What do we prove to the world at large with our letter writing campaigns to reality shows about questionable “stars”?  What do we gain by refusing to shop in stores that somehow, through the process of being guilty by association, may promote something we disagree with (not talking major things here)?  What do we gain by fighting against gay marriage (I know I may get some backlash on this one)?  What do we gain by only being willing to vote for a Christian into elected office?  What do we gain by waging war against “Happy Holidays” replacing “Merry Christmas?”  I know all of these have room for debate, but I am asking what do we gain by these?

Do we gain sinners realizing that their only hope for life and acceptance by God is through Jesus Christ on the cross and his resurrection?  Do we gain people battling their way out of poverty?  Do we gain a decrease in children without families?  Do we gain people taking care of other people?  Do we gain the Kingdom of God?  Do we?  These are what we have been called to find important as Christians.  These are the hills we should be choosing to “die on.”

Of these things, I am going to focus on the whole “Happy Holidays” thing…it is, afterall, Christmas.

Is it really that important that everyone says, “Merry Christmas?”  Is it really?  Is there a need for all people, Christian and nonChristian alike to wish everyone a happy Christ’s Mass?  I am not so sure.  Besides, it is being placed with a word that means “Holy Days,” isn’t that enough for us?

The Spirit has really led me to some new thoughts on this recently.  I have been thinking a lot about Christmas, the traditions, and the commericialization of it (thus the Christmas thoughts posts), and something occurred to me.  There really is a Christmas spirit…or Holiday spirit.  Now, I am not saying we should be caught up in the warm-fuzzy Christmas and forget the true meaning of it…another post for another day…but there really is a “spirit” about this time of year that most people get caught up in, no matter how religious or non-religious.

This “spirit” has a way of changing people…there is a reason why “A Christmas Carol” has been so popular for so very long.  It is a true change that people feel.  People become nicer.  They think of others first.  They help the needy.  They feed the poor.  They care for the orphans.  They look out for the widows.  They help the down and out.  Hey, this sounds a lot like the list of stuff that Christians are supposed to be doing!

Christians are supposed to be about the Kingdom of God.  Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology book, says that the Kingdom of God is when the reign and rule of God in the hearts and lives of people.  A part of this is how we care for others.  Jesus himself said that there are two commandments: Love God and love one another.  How we care for others is half of the job.

So, this Christmas/Holiday “spirit” has people all around us thinking and loving their “neighbors” as themselves.  In a way, we are seeing what God’s Kingdom here on Earth will look like, at least a little.  People are caring for each other.  This is important to God.  Look in either the Old or New Testaments.  God wants us to care for others like we are compelled to at Christmas.

I say whether you say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas,” it doesn’t really matter.  The question is, “Are we taking care of each other, especially the down-and-out?”  Are we?  Where is our focus?  Ourselves?  Or is it on using this “Christmas spirit” as a way to reach out to others and help them see the true meaning of Christmas?  Are we living a life that shows Jesus, even at Christmas?  Or are we busy fighting a battle that should not be fought, while those saying “Happy Holidays” are living out what we are called to?

Happy holidays, everyone!!  Joe

Father, Jesus, Spirit, please help me to pick the right battles this year.  Help me to see that it is about loving you and loving others.  Thank you for allowing the “Christmas spirit” to show us your Kingdom.  Please help me to use this to reach out and tell other people about the source of this “spirit.”  I love you.  Your son and dependent, Joe

Performancing Metrics

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Teacher is Coming…Look Busy

I have been in quite the reflective mood as of late.  I have thought of and have started to “mentally write” a bunch of different blogposts.  I have not had the time to sit down and seriously write in a while, and now that I have a few minutes I think I am going to write something other than what I thought I would write about.

I have mentioned a few times in the past about the journey God put me on in March of this year to read through the Bible.  Even though I studied the Bible in college (the first time I went), I never read through the entire Bible cover to cover.  I was challenged to do so by an English professor when I was in school and then not again until I read the book Radical this year.  God really burned it on my heart to do this, so I started in March.  Now, here at the middle of Novemeber, I am three One Year Bible days away from finishing.

I am not sharing this to boast that I read through the Bible in nine months.  No, that is not it at all.  It is more the opposite.  I am completely humbled by it.  Something has happened to me through the Bible.  I am not sure if I can completely explain it, but I am different.  I am changed.

A few major things that I have realized:

  • The Bible is not what I thought.  It truly is the story of a loving God pursuing his people.
  • God is not who I thought.  He is loving.  He is vengeful.  He is just.  He is mercy.  He is jealous.  He is patient.  He is all of what we as humans are, but He is holy, pure, and above all that we are.
  • The Holy Spirit is not who/what I thought.  He is real.  He is God.  He is the presence of God in our lives.  He speaks.  He moves.  He calls.  He disciplines.  He is our source to be more like God.  Without Him we have nothing.
  • Jesus is not who I thought.  He has been since the beginning.  He is ever present in both the Old and New Testaments.  He is the promise of God since the beginning.  He really lived a sinless life.  He really died a sinners death.  He really rose again to show that the price was paid for our sin.  He really lives and is in Heaven.  He is really coming back.  He really loves us.  He really accepts us.  He worked to hard for us to give up on us.
  • We, humans, are not who I thought.  We really are sinful.  We really are incapable of living and trusting God as he intended on our own.  Our hearts are really crooked deep down.  We can not straighten ourselves out.  We need a savior.  We need a helper.  We need a God.  We can be made new.  We are made whole through Jesus.

As I am completing this journey (before I start it all back over again) and look back at how it has changed me, I am reminded of something that I heard someone say ten or so years ago.  There is a guy named Marquis Laughlin, and he does dramatic readings of books of the Bible (he has whole books of the Bible memorized…it is amazing).  I saw him perform the book of John.  It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, and it brought the book alive to me in more ways than one.  At the end, he talked about what it is like to do this.  He said that one of the questions he gets all of the time is, “What is it like knowing whole books of the Bible and performing them?”

He said that it is like being in school in a classroom when the teacher has stepped out for a minute and left the students alone.  The students kind of do their own thing, but they have a look out at the door to let everyone know when the teacher is coming back.  He said that he feels like the student standing at the door.  He knows the Teacher is coming back and can see him down the hall.  He wants everyone to know that the Teacher is coming and we need to be doing the work that he left for us to do.  And that work is to love God and love other people.  Love is our job and we need to start doing it because the Teacher is almost to the door.

This is exactly how I feel on this side of my journey.  The Teacher is definitely coming back and He has definitely given us something to do.  We need to be about love.  We need to love generously and wrecklessly.  That kind of love changes the world, and we need to be changing the world when the Teacher comes back becuase that is the assignment he gave us when we left.

Performancing Metrics

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Uganda, the LRA, and Invisible Children — Repost

This is an older post, but I have decided to post it again because it is a very current subject.  This post includes what is going on in Uganda, what the LRA is, and how you can help through the organization called Invisible Children.  Most of this was written by a guest blogger, Chris Rosenberry.  Please read, learn, and then help.  It is so easy and can be done right through this blog.  Thanks!

Two weekends ago, I started a segment called “Why Weekends” in which I want to look at problems in the world that we, as inhabitants of our planet, are all responsible to be a part of changing.  I do believe the Christians should be motivated by the love of God to make a difference in light of these issues, but I also think it is something for everyone to work on no matter what you believe.  The first one was about extreme poverty in the world and one way to be a part of the solution (give it a read if you haven’t Why Weekends–Why and WorldVision-Part 1).  I intended to get to Part 2 this week becauase I was sick over the weekend, but another solution to an extreme poverty related issue presented itself to me and I wanted to move on it.

“How You Can Be the Change” will be an occasional segment for opportunities that come up to offer you ways to “be the change” that the world needs with minimal effort on your part.  Part of this will be to include “experts” when I can to give you first hand information and experiences from other people.  Today I was able to do that.

I have asked my friend, Chris Rosenberry, to write and tell you about an organization called “Invisible Children.”  If that sounds familiar it might be because it is on your computer screen right now.  Look to the left of the page.  There is a widget called “Social Vibe”.  This is a way for you to raise money and support for charities by just watching ads online.  That is all you have to do.  You only have to sacrafice a couple of minutes.  So easy!  I have chosen Invisible Children for my charity because what they do is awesome and what they are fighting is awful.  Instead of me telling you about it, I will let Chris give tell you about his experiences with the organization and about why it is so important to him.

Chris went to North Greenville College with me for a little while (Go Mounties!).  He is now the Youth and Arts pastor at The Refuge in Hilton Head, SC.  He is the husband of but one wife and the father of three.  Chris has a passion for social justice, obscure music, and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Okay, take over Chris.

Five years ago my eyes were opened to an unseen tragedy that would change my life, and the lives of my family, forever.  I had just begun working as a youth pastor in Hilton Head, SC and was looking for ways to get my students involved in missions projects which we could support without getting in a van or on a plane.  In my research, I found a video, backed by the Killers’ song “All These Things That I’ve Done” (an instant selling point), where high school and college aged students were giving up the comforts of their beds to sleep in fields and parking lots, writing letters, and trying to make people aware of one of the greatest disasters of their generation.

For well over 20 years a war has been waging in East Africa, in the nation of Uganda.  This war, a civil war, began as a well supported uprising within the Acholi people, the people of Northern Uganda, against the nation’s government.  But when its leader was exiled and a new leader, named Joseph Kony, attempted to take control of the rebellion by creating his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) support dwindled.  With little support from his own people, Kony and the LRA resorted to abducting children and forcing them to fight as part of the LRA.

Since Kony took control of the rebellion, thousands of children have been abducted and thousands have lost their innocence and their lives.  It is estimated that currently 90% of the LRA is made up of children, and that over the years as many as 66,000 children have been abducted.  It is also estimated that over the course of the war, over 1.8 million Northern Ugandans have been forced into Internally Displaced Camps (IDP camps) as a way of minimizing the casualties of this war.  And though about 900,000 of these people have been allowed to return to their homes, there are still almost 1 million people living in IDP camps where approximately 1,000 people die every week.

The war in Northern Uganda, which has now also spread to Congo and other East African nations, has been called the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today.  What is worse, is that for many many years this crisis was completely invisible to the outside world.  That is, until 3 film students from San Diego got on a plane and discovered what was to become their life’s work.  They came home with footage of children walking for miles each night to find a safe place to sleep, footage of the Acholi people living in fear of the LRA, and footage of aid workers asking for help.  They also came home with a mission, and shortly thereafter released their footage as a documentary film entitled Invisible Children: Rough Cut.  This film was the genesis of an organization that would commit itself to ending the war in Uganda, restoring the Acholi people, and helping to make the universe of East Africa a safe and thriving place for children to grow up.  That organization is called Invisible Children.

Since that first film, which was released in 2003,  Invisible Children has seen much change in Northern Uganda.  Schools have been rebuilt, peace has been as close as a signature way, children feel safe to sleep in their own homes, laws have been passed in the United States to aid Uganda in the capture of Joseph Kony, and hope seems very much alive.  But the work is not complete.  Joseph Kony and the LRA are still at large.  They continue to terrorize the people of East Africa, with most of their focus on the nation of Congo, and they continue to abduct, abuse, and enslave children, but Invisible Children will not give up.

Since my first encounter with Invisible Children n 2006 my family and youth group have seen, and been a part of, some of the major changes in Uganda.  We have slept in fields for days, we have been to Washington to enlist the help of our government, we have told the story of these children whats seems to be a thousand times, and we have seen our own lives changed for the better.  It is truly amazing what happens when put others before ourselves, when we take care of our neighbor, even if our neighbor is halfway across the globe.  Our involvement has taught me the depths of what the Apostle James calls pure religion:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

There are times when we say to ourselves, “Someone else will take care of that problem” or “That is not my problem,” but what I have learned is that there are those who do not have voices of their own, who cannot speak up and ask for help, who do not have the power or influence to affect change, and therefore it is the job of those of us who have a voice to speak up, to act, to not rest until justice has been found..  The cause of Invisible Children has shown me my voice, my students’ voices, my wife’s voice, and even the voices of my small children.  We will not rest until there is peace and restoration in East Africa, and we pray that you will join us.

For more information, ways to get involved, media resources, or ways to donate to the cause please visit Invisible Children.

 

Back to Joe:

Don’t forget, you can EASILY help Invisible Children make a difference by just clicking on the widget to your left and watching some ads.  Come on.  It is simple.  Then go to the website and find out other ways to help, like Chris said.

Make a difference.  Be the change.

Don’t forget to become an email subscriber. Updates will be sent automatically to your inbox!  If Chris blogging brought you here, please check out my other posts.

Performancing Metrics

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Holy Spirit Was Wearing Pink

This morning I came across a blog that really hit home to me.  It was kind of perfect timing.  I have been trying to put words to some prayers for my attitude and how I approach people and situations.  This blog post hit it on the head.

The name of the post is called, “The Opposite of Love Isn’t Hate.”  It really caught my attention, so I gave it a read.  I am so glad I did.  I know that the Spirit totally set this one up, because this story doesn’t end here.  But before I get to the rest of the story, let me finish talking about what I read.

I can sum up the post in one statement from it, Hate is not the opposite of love, fear is.”  I had to get my mind around this.  The more I read, the more this made sense.  The tumblers started to fall into place in my head.  This is so true.  Fear really is the antagonist of love.  Debby went on to explain:

Fear the opposite of love? Yes, yes. That’s it. In my life that is true. It’s not hate but fear. Fear of those different from me. Fear of stepping out in faith. Fear my children will suffer tragedy. Fear those I’ve grown close to will relapse and fear for the day my mom won’t know any of us.

I can so relate to this.  When my son was born, I became even more paranoid about everything,  I can still be two and a half years later.  I found ways to micromanage everything.  I was, and can still be, so afraid of anything happening to him.  I am starting to see that this fear can get in the way of loving him and allowing him to grow and mature.

This fear can show itself in other ways, too.  I grew up moving a lot, so I learned at an early age not to form deep friendships.  This has led to a fear of losing friends or getting my feelings hurt by others that sticks with me even now.  I have a fear of allowing people too close to me.  That fear was overcome a good bit when I met my wife, but it still makes me distant from friends sometimes.

Even more so, this fear can keep me from growing in my relationship to God.  We are called to two commandments, to love God and love others.  When I am afraid of what could happen, I put a wall between myself, God, and others.  I am afraid of letting go and dying to myself.  I am afraid of what people will think.  I am afraid of completely trusting in the acceptance of God that comes through the work of Jesus Christ.  This fear stunts my spiritual growth.

1 John 4 holds the answer to the fear.  Love is the opposite.  Fear can keep us from love, but love can keep us from fear.  Only love breaking through to our hearts and mind can defeat our fear and allow us to love.

John wrote in verses 16-19 (NLT):

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each otherbecause he loved us first.

“Such love has no fear, because PERFECT love expels all fear.”  This is so awesome.  Because we have been loved perfectly, we do not have to be afraid.  Abiding in this love will allow us to overcome the fear.  We will be able to love!

So…this was on my heart as I drove to work this morning.  I can be a bit ADD with what I listen to (or don’t listen to) in the car.  Lately I have wanted to listen to music, but Christian radio can get repetative so sometimes I just put on a random station.  Today was a light rock station.  A song came on that I have always kind of liked when I have heard it.  It is by Pink.  As the song played, the Spirit brought these ideas back to mind and took them a little further.

Now, as a little disclaimer, I had no idea that I have been only hearing the edited version.  I went to look up the song to write this blog post.  It turns out that the song, which I thought was called “Perfect,” is actually named “F**ing Perfect.”  I had no idea.  I am sorry, if this offends you.  Just know I have only heard the edited version.  Any way, the song still totally spoke to me and the Spirit drove the message home (yes, through this potentially offensive song).

The part that spoke to me was the chorus:

Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like your less than
Less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You are perfect to me

The message that came to mind is that it is my fear of not being accepted by God because of my sins is the overwhelming fear that holds be back from loving Him and loving others.  The thing is, if that I truly believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, I am accepted by God.  I am free to love.  I am free to serve.  I am free to obey.  I do not have to fear the wrath I know I deserve.  Through Jesus, in terms of the eternal consequences of sin, I am perfect in the eyes of the Father.  The passage from 1 John says, “So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”  This sentence leads directly into the statement that “perfect love drives out fear.”  Our acceptance is the love that shines like a light on our fear and makes it run away like darkness!

How awesome is this!  We are perfect in his eyes.  This perfect love is the antithesis of fear.  We can live love because he loves us!  Halellujah, what a Savior?

Do you see how fear keeps us from loving?  How can the perfect love of Jesus change you and allow you to love without fear?

Performancing Metrics

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

If I Could Be a Superhero…

Last night, we caught a story on Inside Edition, or one of those types of shows, and I almost couldn’t believe it.  A guy who dresses up like a superhero and actually fights crime was arrested for spraying pepper spray at people while trying to break up a fight.  I am not kidding.  This is real.  I am serious.  Check out this story if you don’t believe me.

So it turns out there is a growing community of people that do this.  They fight crime as superheros.  There are “heros” and groups popping up all over the country.  They even have a website to help you keep up with them: Real Life Superheros.

Part of me think this is awesome.  Part of me thinks this is sad.  Part of me doesn’t know what to think.  And the last part of me is glad I did not know about this about ten years ago.  I think my roommate and I would have talked each other into forming a crime fighting duo.  I am barely kidding.  We were good at talking each other into stupid ideas.

I think these people are sincere.  I think they want to help.  I think they want to do good.  However, I also think they may be a bit delusional.  I think they are probably living out childhood fantasies.  I think they may just be trying to prove something to themselves.  And I do fear that one of them may get badly hurt or even killed while doing this.

Despite what I think, though, they are out there doing it.  They are dressing up, fighting crime, and, believe it or not, they are making a difference.  From what I read, some of these guys are really changing the areas that they “work in.”  They are helping people and reaching out to those less fortunate.  This is kind of cool.  It really is.

So, Mr. OneCupofJoe, what is the spiritual lesson?  I know you have one.

You are right, I do.  It is simple.  I need to be a superhero.  I do.

No, I don’t mean dressing up and fighting crime.  I am not making a rubberized suit and attaching gadgets to it.  I am not practicing marshal arts.  What I mean is that I need to get out there and make a difference.  I need to be fearless.  I need to fight for those less fortunate.

Throughout the Bible it is clear that God wants us to take up the cause of the poor, orphans, widows, and prisoners.  I do not do this enough.  I do not get out there and find ways to help.  I do not do enough for the sake of those who need justice.

The Spirit is working on me with this.  I am starting to see opportunities.  I am starting to feel conviction about how I spend my money and time.  I am seeing areas around me that I can step in.  I am seeing causes I can champion and work to make things “right” for people that are overlooked.  It is slow, but my heart is changing.

I may never chase bad guys through alleys, but I can get out there and fight.

What about you?  Do you want to be a “superhero” for the sake of those less fortunate?

Performancing Metrics

 

Tags: , , , , ,