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.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Second Wind

There is so much going on in our culture and society that needs to be touched on; so many people in this world, in this nation, in our own neighborhoods that are in desperate need to not only hear but be affected by, the loving truth of the Gospel. That is that God wants to draw near to us, so much so that He made a way to do just that. I urge you to join me on an adventure that will hopefully open your eyes to see God, and the world around us, in a whole new way!
Saturday, April 19, 2014

The True Power of Easter

How would you feel if you did something... amazing, no, awesome. How about if you just did something that no other human being had ever done in the history of humanity before or after you? And let’s say that almost every person on the face of the earth found out about it and knew that it was you that did it... I’m sure you’d feel pretty darn good, right? Now, what if that spectacular event happened hot on the heels of the most shameful, excruciatingly painful day of your entire life? You’d probably feel even better, having gone from less than zero to way past hero!
Now let’s take that one step further... How would you feel when people who celebrated your stunning victory gave remembrance to not the victory itself, but these several hours that you would likely not ever want to relive... EVER.  How would you feel? I'm sure you'd feel a little insulted. “Here I've just done what no other human being has or ever will do and all you can remember is my shame?”
Now, how do you think Jesus might feel? He came back to life!  He conquered death. He rose from the grave! However you want to say it, Jesus did what no other man or woman before or since has done: He brought himself back to life! AND (as if that weren't enough) He did it for humanity's sake. HOWEVER for centuries, the church has focused almost exclusively on the worst 12 hours of Jesus’ life when celebrating and taking time to remember him!
Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but if he did not come back to life, then he was no more than a man. Without Jesus having overcome death, there would be no salvation. Our faith would be pointless! Yes, Jesus died. Almost every other person in the world has or will die. Jesus’ death is only significant when you understand and believe that his life was sinless to the point when he became sin for us and realize that his death was unwarranted by both men’s standards and by God’s.
However for most, death is a fact of life so the fact that Jesus died is nothing outside of the ordinary. The power of Easter does not lie in the torture, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus, but rather in his resurrection. Jesus Life is what is to be celebrated as opposed to his death. It is only when we begin to celebrate the power of Jesus’ Life that overcame death and when we begin to accept his offering of his Life to us do we begin to come alive... That is when Jesus’ Life enters into us and we allow His Life to become our Life.
Friday, February 7, 2014

Actions Speak Louder

One of the philosophies behind Love In Action is the idea that “actions speak louder than words.”
"Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? James 2:14 (msg)
We believe that love can not be demonstrated any other way. One can say “I love you” but if one then acts in malice, the actions demonstrate the fact of the matter. We all know this on some level. Yet there are some who think that as long as they talk a good game, they can do whatever they want.
You have no doubt seen this unfold countless times not only in spiritual matters but in relationships, in business and in politics too. These people are often called hypocrites (which is just a form of lying if you think about it). Now just so we are clear, I am not pointing any fingers as we are ALL hypocrites. We have all said one thing and done another (See? Same definition as lying). And most of us have been called out on it in one way or another.
Something to consider is that a person’s true intent is revealed when they are called out. Either they will accept and embrace it or they will reject and ridicule you for daring to say something. Accepting and embracing the feedback shows that you are intent to grow and are willing to put your pride aside in order to grow and become more like Christ.
Rejecting the feedback usually demonstrates pride and is often accompanied by ridicule or belittling of the one calling the other out. This is an attempt to marginalize the messenger in order to marginalize or void the message. This also shows immaturity by the one being called out not to mention a lack of a desire for growth.
As followers of Christ, we are called to grow closer to Him and to grow closer to mirroring Him. This should be the point of any rebuke or judgment. This should be done in love and offer hope and healing to the one being called out. Remember that you can only try to allow Christ to flow through you, and you can’t always expect them to accept or embrace the message immediately if at all.
This is a brief overview of many topics I hope to touch on deeper with you soon. Until then keep learning to love like Jesus!

Friday, December 20, 2013

All I Wanted for Christmas Was to End My Life

About ten years ago this week, warm Christmas music full of fading memories of better times wafted through the air. Golden light reflected off the falling snow onto the shoppers walking up and down the night time sidewalks. Imagery of family and togetherness were everywhere and I just could not take it anymore.
I had been living in and out of my car for a year by that point and I had no hope in changing that. I was working a full time job and I still did not make enough to afford an apartment on my own. The relationship with my family had been fractured. The few friends I had just didn’t understand. My more prep and posh friends were nervous about having a homeless friend. While some offered to let me stay at their place for a night here or there, it felt like I was in a stranger’s house. Those who allowed me to stay for a week or two, seemed to feel like I was a burden. I felt like I had to answer for every minute of my day. Many of the very welcoming churches I tried quickly became unwelcoming once they found out that I was homeless.
I was without hope. I was without love. All the messages of the inescapable advertising and songs were just a reminder of what I once had and had lost. After a month of this I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was 22 and hated what my life had become. Other older homeless people who I had talked to told me that they had become homeless around my age and couldn’t get back on their feet. I did not want that for my future. I had made up my mind and planned it all out.
I was going to kill myself for Christmas.
Ten years ago today, while an old friend from high school was home from college, he decided he wanted to hang out with me before Christmas. He knew what my situation was but he wasn’t put off by it. He wanted to go out and get a book for me that he found helpful for him. I was kind of like “whatever” so I just went with it just to have time with who was likely the best friend I had. We got to the bookstore and got the book on audio CD and drove back. We hung out in his driveway until his mom told him to come in. We parted ways for what I thought was going to be the last time.
The book was by some guy I had never heard of so I planned on not even reading it, but I had a long drive to get back to my usual overnight parking spot, so I unwrapped the CD case not really looking at the book cover and popped in the first CD. As I was pulling out of the driveway I realized that my friend had bought the wrong book! Same author, just the wrong book! The title was weird, “Waking the Dead?” We had seen some advertising in the Christian book store for it and had a good laugh mocking it and it’s title. I was so disgusted that I almost pulled the CD out, wondering if I could still return the product for cash.
For some reason, I kept listening. It struck a chord deep inside of my heart that I had tried to bury. The author wasn’t starting out with pious preaching about what I needed to do or how I needed Christ to come into my life, but rather he started out by basically telling me about my heart. These things were impossible for some author I had never met to know. My closest friends didn’t even know these things about me let alone my heart! I was balling about 30 minutes into the book.
That night, I found a hope. I realized that there is so much more going on than I realized. I realized that I was living in my current state as the result of a lie. The lie I was believing was that I would never rise past my current position in life, that I was doomed to be another undesirable, unloved nameless homeless person for the rest of my life. The idea that God’s glory is man fully alive left me in optimistic disbelief. It was the first trace of optimism I had had in a long time. I gave my life back to Christ in a way I had never done before, it wasn’t just words or a predefined prayer, it was a realization that I love God because of the way He already loves me.
By the end of the month, I had found an apartment with some of the people I knew from one of the churches I was regularly attending. Within 4 months, I had met Kelly and within 17 months I had gotten engaged and then married. I now have a beautiful little boy who my wife named after me because she loves me so much and I now have another baby on the way. I have a growing graphic/web design business and I have a great church to call home. I also am in the process of starting a ministry to help empower American Christians to take part in local missions. This is all due to the moving of Jesus in my life.
God loves you too. Jesus wants Life for you! He says that Himself in John 10:10. The reason we don’t have the Life is that no one is righteous—not even one. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. For Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
If you would like to know more about God, my relationship with Him, my life experiences or yours or even how you can come to know God through Jesus for yourself, please send me an email and we can talk. I hope this testimony has helped you or that of someone you know.

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