the rose

19 06 2009

this is so powerful.


are you being seduced by an impostor?

15 10 2008

just saw this video and … wow.  watch it all the way to the end. (props to jay for posting)

it is an amazing depiction of our lives as believers.  finding new life in christ, learning to walk and live like him, discovering what it means for him to provide for us… only to become distracted by something that looks more appealing and courted by what appears more attractive.  before we know it, we have allowed a host of impostors to seduce our affections away and to stand between us and the great lover of our souls.

unfortunately, this is where a lot of people stay… separated, isolated, destitute, afraid… alone.  not realizing that christ is fighting for us, to reach us and that the punishment he took on himself was in our place.

this makes me take an honest look at my own life and the “lesser lovers” that I have allowed to illegally access my affections and steal my gaze from christ as the head and source of my life.

what is separating you from the unconditional love of the father?  what impostor has broken into your heart and is now the recipient of your focus and affection?

christ wants to be everything… what is he competing against in your life?

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Romans 8:29-39 The Message)

God is not a white man

23 07 2008

i love controversial songs, messages, titles, ideas, themes, etc that challenge people’s often stalemated theology and challenge them to examine what they really believe and why.  i love to see people’s perceptions rocked to the point where they have to dig deeper past the surface.

a lot of people know michael gungor as the co-writer (along with israel houghton) of huge songs like “friend of god” and “say so”, but gungor also has a killer band of his own (the michael gungor band of course) and they have a new album that is very good, to say the very least.  the new album was released independently last year as “all i need is here”, but will be re-released through brash music this september 9 as “ancient skies” and will have a few new songs, including the one this blog is about, “white man”.

i love the simplicity of what this song says, and can’t wait for people to hear it.  some will love it while others will freak out publicly but be forced to privately wonder why the concept of “God is love” with no boundaries really freaks them out. the lyrics challenge a lot ideals and boxes that people, including lots of “christians”, have ascribed to and put God in for many, many years… and i love it!  guess what?  He gets out of all your boxes!

God is not a man / God is not a white man / God is not a man sitting on a cloud
God can not be bought / God will not be boxed in / God will not be owned by religion

but God is love, God is love / and He loves everyone
God is love, God is love/ and He loves everyone

God is not a man / God is not an old man / God does not belong to republicans
God is not a flag / not even american / and God does not depend on a government

but God is good, God is good / and He loves everyone
God is good, God is good / and He loves everyone

atheists and charlatans / and communists and lesbians
even old pat robertson / God He loves us all
catholic or protestant / terrorist or president
everybody, everybody
Love, love, love, love, love

romans 8:38-29 (the message) says:

i’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our master has embraced us.

the love of God is so limitless and far reaching beyond our human comprehension, yet we often think that we are entitled to God’s love because we live a certain way, in a certain place or don’t do things that “they” do. it’s very interesting, actually.

what parts of these lyrics challenge what you have come to believe about the love of God?  a lot of people find it easy to think about God “being” love as long as it fits in the confines of their experience or surroundings.  for example, when i was growing up i believed that God loved people who went to my church or other churches that believed like we did.  if you were outside of that group, you were questionable at best and a straight up heathen at worst.  when you say “God is love”, what does that mean to you?  how have your perceptions of God’s love been shaped and have those perceptions changed over the years?

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what’s your story?

3 07 2008

if you know me very well, you know that i am all about people and love getting to know people’s stories.

i think one of the biggest reasons there is such a lack of genuine love on display today is because we just don’t know and have a true understanding of where people have come from and where they are going… the simple but often overlooked and easily forgotten fact that every single one of us is somewhere “in between”… somewhere in the process… somewhere between here and there… between who we were and who we will be…

this video moved me deeply.  i watched it and wept. (thank you for posting it, jay)

do we really know where people are at in their lives???  some are stuck, still on first side of the cards… some have made it to the flip side… but many are somewhere in between.  many people’s cards are still turning… i know some of mine are.

Lord help us to not judge people just because we dont see that their card hasn’t quite turned yet… let us be your love and run in your truth… let us not be so quick to write someone off and close the book in judgement without realizing that the ink is still wet, and the story is still being written…

so everyone has a story… what’s yours?

better love

13 05 2008

thanks to my good friend brewster, i was hipped to the blog of pete wilson, a nashville-area pastor with a refreshing take on life, the world and our place in it.

today, pete wrote a blog titled ‘sometimes i struggle with love’, and you should definitely check it out. in it, he quotes 1 corinthians 13:3-7 from the message translation, talks about the aspect of biblical love that he struggles with the most and challenges his readers to talk about what aspect they struggle with most.

i posted a comment, but also wanted to share this here. here was my response:

i was listening to a song called ‘i receive your love’ as i was getting ready for work this morning and was thinking about how hard it can be to receive perfect love when you’ve lived with imperfect love all your life. i probably struggle with most of these to varying degrees, but “love never gives up” might be the biggest right now. in general it can be a struggle to see everything that we call love and still believe God when he says “mine is better than that!” we want better love, but it can be difficult to comprehend what that actually is.

you should join the discussion at his blog. any thoughts?


11 05 2008

“this be the realest thing I ever wrote for sure, after this a lot of folks wont like me no more…” – lyfe jennings

the dictionary defines ‘jaded’ as “tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm; typically after having too much of something”.

yep… i’m jaded, alright. this is going to be a mind dump, so bear with me…

“i wonder if the gospel of love has become the gospel of being right” … dan merchant (author/writer/director of ‘lord, save us from your followers’)

i grew up in a horribly dogmatic and legalistic abomination, i mean denomination. =) i spent the first 25 years of my life surrounded by people who had a warped view of the salvation experience and who were quick to send a lot of people to hell if a strict religious code was not adhered to. they were so concerned with being convinced they were “right”, that in the process they weren’t really loving anybody. i left that church a little over 8 years ago, but in a lot of ways, and for a lot of reasons, i am still coming to terms with various aspects of that whole experience and continue to try to reconcile it with where i am in my life today. religion sucks.

before i go any further, i want to say that i am not angry, and i am not bitter… but if you will indulge me being totally honest here on my blog… i am tired.

i love Jesus and i want my life to reflect the character of Christ to those around me. i want to be an instrument of the grace that I so desperately need every day of my life. the ‘body of Christ’ is beautiful, man! i have been blessed to travel extensively and have met some of the most amazing and beautiful disciples of Christ all over this country and all over the world. so don’t get it twisted… i love the church… but “church”? yeeeeeaaaah… i’m pretty much not feeling it at the moment.

i’m not the only one. i often have these conversations with a few close friends of mine who are also on the same page. “church” isn’t cutting it for our generation. we desire to be a part of a thriving faith community that is making a difference in the lives of those in our respective spheres of influence.

to be fair, i do know that there are churches out there who are doing it… they are doing exactly what I am talking about… they are the hands of feet of Christ, love and justice in action that is the heartbeat of Jesus. but sadly enough they are few and far between.

i believe that the heart of God is for real live faith, love and community in action. however, in my life, i have seen a lot of people whose lives revolve around the sunday morning experience as if it were the apex of what it means to be a christian in america… who are satisfied to be “church people”… but outside of their sunday morning gloriously euphoric spiritual expression, they are having zero effect on the world around them once they walk out the doors.

the great christian paradox seems to be this… that we are quick to go to great lengths to profess our christianity, but yet do so little or nothing to act on that profession. i must wonder, when did we trade in being disciples of Christ for being “christians”? when did we trade in talking with people for talking at them? when did we trade being the church for doing church?

i am not a pastor, a priest or a theologian. i am simply someone who loves Jesus and who legitimately struggles with whether or not my life is a consistent enough reflection of the new life that i have been freely given. i don’t have all the answers. in fact, by comparison i probably have very few of them. i’m just saying something’s missing… i love Jesus, i’m just not sold on all the stuff that we’ve put in between him and us… so yeah… jaded.

i just finished watching an advance copy of “lord, save us from your followers”, a documentary by dan merchant and it got me on this page tonight. it releases june 13, and i am sure you will be hearing a lot more about it very soon. i watched the last 30-40 minutes of the film through tears, thinking “my God, people are hurting, and we’re… in church…”

you can stream the entire film online for $6.99 now. if you are a pastor, show it to your congregation. if you are a parent, show it to your children. challenge those around you… get the dialogue going where you live. be the catalyst to get the people around you off their ass and into the real world… living, loving and looking like Jesus. part of me was a little afraid to post this, but you know what?  i’m tired of acting like i don’t really feel this way… tired of acting like i’m not tired.  so, let the discussion begin…

he knows what hurts within us

6 05 2008

“what made Jesus of nazereth the greatest lover in history is that he really knew then and he really knows now what hurts people… the loves and hates, hopes and fears, the joys and sadnesses of each of us…Jesus knows what hurts us. not only knows but, knowing, seeks us out – whatever our kind of poverty or pain, however we weep, wherever we feel unloved.

if you read the gospels carefully, you find how fine-tuned Jesus is to our loneliness, our frustration, our emptiness, our cynicism, as well he is to our joys and to our consolations; that he really know what hurts the human heart.

it shows up all throughout his public ministry on earth: with a sinful woman, the home of simon the pharisee, the woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, with the adulterous woman in danger of stoning, with the thrice-denying peter, with the 23 year-old john in the upper room, with the widow weeping on the road to calvary, … it shows up in all those passages which describe Jesus as ‘having compassion’.

the greek verb ‘splagxniðzomai’ is used 12 times in the 4 gospels and is usually translated into english as ‘he was moved with compassion’. however, because of the poverty of our english vocabulary we really don’t capture the etymological meaning of splagxniðzomai, and depending on which translation of the bible you may use, it may say ‘he was moved with pity’, ‘he felt sorry for them’, or ‘his heart went out for them’, but they all miss the deep emotional flavor of this greek verb, … which is derived from another greek term meaning ‘bowels’, ‘intreals’ and ‘intestines’… the deepest parts of a person from which the strongest emotions such as love and hatred arise.

when you read in the gospels that Jesus was moved with compassion, it was saying that his gut was wrenched, his heart torn open, and the most vulnerable part of his being laid bare. and Jesus says to us, don’t ever be so foolish as to measure my compassion for you in terms of your compassion for one another.

when we speak of Jesus, as Emmanuel, as God with us, we are saying the greatest lover in history really knows what hurts us. There is absolutely nothing that Jesus does not understand about the pain that hangs like a darkening cloud over our lives.

if you are crying out and longing for a hand to touch you, an arm to embrace you, lips to kiss you… longing for someone who is not afraid of your cynicism, your skepticism, your indifference, your shallow faith, your inconsistent discipleship, … there comes a sacred man who says, ‘it’s ok. i understand, i am here, i am with you, i am for you, and your pain reverberates in the depth of my own being.”

—– brennan manning (excerpt from “he knows what hurts within us”)