Friday, July 3, 2015

Offer of Life

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14 NIV
We search for Life in so many places. We can't help but search for Life;  we thirst for Life as we thirst for water!  When we take hold of the false offers of Life that surround us, we end up finding that the satisfaction does not last. We then find ourselves on that search for Life again, be it sex, alcohol, drugs, food, money, possessions, power, alternate lifestyles/orientations, religion, relationships, drama, adventure, adrenaline, or something else that we can become addicted to, other than God. Our thirst for Life always returns.
This is why Jesus came to see the woman at the well. She was looking for Life in her relationships with sexual partners, a common place for men and women to search for Life. Jesus came to her, because He wanted more for her, He wanted her to find Life through Himself,  but not in the same way she has looked for it to this point, but rather on a much deeper, spiritual level. She did find Life, by the way, and when she did, those around her were affected, as many in her village found Life because she found Life.
If you found Life, wouldn't you feel the need to share that with everyone around you?
Friday, May 22, 2015

Offering Life

It's hard not to hear all the accusations toward the church or against certain Christians of being "unloving." The point being that Christians do not approve of certain life choices of those around them and therefore are unloving, while being called to love others; the popular barb is that it is hypocritical for them to not be nice to, and accept everyone. This is all done without even looking at the reason behind their perceived lack of approval. 
Lets say you see someone drowning. Do you stand and watch until they go under for the last time, or do you do something to help? For most, the answer is pretty simple; do something to help them. Let's say you have a friend who is addicted to some pretty hard core drugs. You've watched this friend go from being a strong, youthful, vibrant, person to a used up shadow of what they used to be. You know that if your friend stays on this path, your friend will die. What do you do? Is it loving to just stand there and watch your friend flirt with death, or do you do something to help? 
If you've been following this blog, you now know that the ways of God for us are a demonstration of His Love as they bring us Life, and as anything that is outside or contrary to His ways brings us death. Therefore, what ever brings us death is not love. At some level, many followers of Jesus use this as the reason behind their perceived lack of approval. Jesus offers Life, and we want Life, not just for ourselves, but for those who are suffering in their slow death. We want to lead people to reconnect to the source of Life. 
There are those like the person who is drowning who knows they are drowning and welcomes help and then there are those who like the addict, don’t necessarily realize that they need help. The latter often rail against those who are trying to show them the way back to Life, accusing their would-be heros of all sorts of hateful things. Ultimately it is always up to the afflicted to determine whether they will accept help. Sadly, not everyone will understand or accept the help they are offered.
Friday, May 15, 2015

Life, Love and Other Mysteries

Since God is Life, and as He has demonstrated that true Love brings Life to us, then His ways also bring us Life. If we scan through the Ten Commandments or the Seven Deadly Sins, or really anywhere in the Levitical Law, we can see how God’s commands to the Israelites were meant to bring them Life... or protect them from death. While it’s more of a popular idea that God is a cosmic killjoy, making sure that He is just trying to take everyone’s fun away, He is actually guiding His people away from things that He knows will hurt them, or what will bring us death, in other words.
For example, the Jews don’t eat pork. Why? Because God said so... yes there are several qualifiers, however it gets made fun of... a lot; especially by bacon lovers. However, recent information shows us that pork contains all sorts of toxins that are bad for human consumption. God was showing them the way of Life. Same with shellfish. How about sleeping around with various family members? Sounds kinda gross to us, but that is what the secular culture did for centuries. We now know that this reeks havoc with the human genome! Again, God was showing them the way of Life; might I add that this was all revealed to them a few thousand years before modern medical science was around!
Therefore, since God’s Love for us is Life, anything that is outside of or contrary to what He has revealed to us brings us death; and what ever brings us closer to death, is not love.
Friday, May 8, 2015

What Is Love

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
~1st John 4:8-10
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails
~1st Corinthians 13:4-8
Does not all of this boil down to acting selflessly? God Himself acted selflessly toward us. How? He sent His only Son to us. Why? So God could punish mankind for their evil? Nope. In fact, John 3:16-17 states plainly that "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." Rather than wiping us out, torturing us, or any of that, He sent Jesus to us so that we might Live through Him! But there is something more to it than just acting selflessly... God demonstrates His Love for us by bringing Life back to us!
So can it not be said that true, real, actual Love brings Life?
Jesus said plainly in John 10:10 that "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have Life, and have it to the full." So be sure that there is false love out there, and it does not want Life for you. This false love has all the enticement and allure of true Love, but it is hollow... it lacks Life. In fact, it drains you of what Life you have, leading you closer and closer to death; sure sounds like destruction to me...
The insidious part about false love is that most don't know it until it is almost too late. Addictions, be it drugs, alcohol, unhealthy sexual behaviors, porn, drama, food, television, the internet, gaming, and on and on it goes, all share the draw of finding a better life than what you have here, but they only steal it away from you. Anything that steals Life from you, or keeps you from finding true Life, is not loving.
What is Love? Real Love is acting outside of one's own self interest in order to bring the offer of Life to another. And God doesn't even place Himself above this as He leads with His own example.
Friday, May 1, 2015

Reconnecting

Back in the early days of telephone technology, when people wanted to make a call, they could not make that connection themselves. There was a person called an operator who would connect the caller to the desired recipient. Even now, we do not connect ourselves to the people we call, we are connected by sophisticated programs which mimic the functions of those old-fashioned operators, routing each call through many switches to connect us to those we are calling. 
We are all start our lives disconnected from God, who is meant to be our source of Life and we, just like placing a phone call, can not connect ourselves to God on our own. So we remain living in a way, that is not quite dead, but not quite alive, and we are always looking for something that will fill our need for Life, even if we don’t realize it. 
God, being the true source of Life, wants us to be reconnected to Him and His Life so much, that He sent His Son, Jesus, to us so that He could live with us and demonstrate to us what it is to truly Live. Then Jesus allowed Himself to be put to death by those He came to help. In His death, Jesus took the consequences of our pushing God and His Life away onto Himself. Then Jesus rose from the dead, overcame the separation from God, so that we might also overcome our separation from God, through Jesus, in order to reconnect us with God and the Life that flows from Him!
Jesus offers to reconnect us to God, to reconnect us to the source of Life that we were designed for, that we are searching for, so that we can truly Live!
Friday, April 24, 2015

Consequences of Conflict

Back before Kelly and I had children, we had been told by several doctors that we would never be able to have children naturally. Over the course of five years, I have had to pick up the pieces of my wife’s broken heart, time after time, in the aftermath of too many misleading pregnancy symptoms and even a few miscarriages; thinking about the pain of those years still brings tears to my eyes. So after we had moved back to my hometown, and had made new friends, Kelly started having symptoms of being pregnant again. Our friends, not understanding just how painful this was for us, tried convincing Kelly that we were pregnant. After our friends urged her for weeks to find out, she broke down and got a test... It was positive! But we had been there also. 
Last time, we were almost 12 weeks pregnant when we had our most painful miscarriage. Experience told us that we should wait to tell anyone until we had actually achieved 12 weeks without miscarrying. Well, one of our friends suspected, and took to social media. We had not told either of our families yet. We were both deeply hurt by this friend; we were rather upset about the situation, especially Kelly, as this was her surprise to give to our parents, and our friend went around us and indirectly told our families. It destroyed that friendship. It eliminated our ability to trust this friend again for a long time.
When conflict arises, a separation is created between the two parties. You and I were born into conflict with God, because of the conflict our ancient grandparents began. As we learned in the last post, if God is Life, then separation from God is death. When we act outside of what God wants for us, we separate ourselves from God even further. We are like an unplugged cellphone or laptop who, while not immediately dead upon disconnection, we will be eventually. Also like these devices, we can not plug ourselves back into our source of Life; we need someone to plug us back into that source.
This is why we are told the the consequences of sin is death; when we sin against God, we are pushing Him (along with our connection to Life) further away, which results in our death.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Source of Life

The Gospel of John opens by describing just who Jesus is. We find here one of the most stunning revelations about the Son of God, that in Jesus is Life, and that Life is the light of all mankind. This seems to work to qualify the statement immediately before it, which states that everything in our Universe was made by Him and that if Jesus did not make it, it was not made! WOW! Later, in John 14:6, Jesus states outright that He is the Life! Now, if Jesus was with God in the beginning and IS God, and has created all things, and if He is Life, and His Life is the light of all mankind, then it is safe to say that mankind was created to be connected to His Life.
Remember, mankind was originally created perfect, and once walked and talked with God face to face, as we do with our friends. He created mankind with His Life, and to be sustained with His Life. Now, God also purposefully created mankind with free will so that we could have the chance to choose to love Him. The first man and woman chose to push God away in a naive attempt to advance their own life apart from God. God had warned against it, but they made their choice, pushing God away from them. They pushed away their source of Life.
What is the opposite of life? Death. If God is Life, then separation from God is death.

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