Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Following God's Schedule

#DailyProverbs Romans 11:33-36: "How great are God's riches! How deep are his wisdom and knowledge! Who can explain his decisions? Who can understand his ways? As the scripture says: 'Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who is able to give him advice? Who has ever given him anything,
so that he had to pay it back?' For all things were created by him, and all things exist through him and for him. To God be the glory for ever! Amen."

I don't like to wait.
I don't like delays.
I don't like it when plans are not followed.

Part of me could be diagnosed with any number of things (and I have) to explain why I get irritated and feel compulsions to have things in a certain order or way. When I do not have that, I get physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Or, all of the psychology aside, it may just be that I am a human being that's alive and experiences emotions, like everyone else does. Or, maybe I just want my way. We all want our way. (FYI, I don't know of ANYONE that doesn't want their way.)

All of us enjoy feeling in control of our own schedule and grow frustrated when things don't go according to plan. Yet if we truly desire to walk in the center of God's perfect will, we must become willing to cooperate with His time frame. This is the hardest and most annoying God-lesson you will ever learn. God's time does not equal your time. God's way, isn't' your way. God's knowledge and sight are deeper and longer than your knowledge and sight. I don't love that fact, but it's a true fact.

Consider how you pray about situations in your life. Without realizing it, you may be demanding that God follow the schedule you've constructed according to your very limited human wisdom. I want God to give me jobs that let me have x, y, and z times free. But, really, if I'm provided for, then God's job is done. Satisfaction and perfection were not on the table in our discussion, just forgiveness and a commission to go. Or, I want MY candidate to win, but hey... God may know things I don't, and may want things I don't. (I get schooled e'ery day by people, friends, foes, and yes... God.)

However, Christian... let's just say this: if we *truly* believe He is who He says He is, how can surrendering to His way not be to our benefit? If we "really" believe in truth - wouldn't we actually walk and talk and live and share and help like we are following the teachings of Christ (loving God, loving others)? Wouldn't you actually do the stuff - the hard stuff like in the early first-generation church (sharing, leaving lots of comfortable religion and seeking to share what Jesus did for you with those that you'd likely never associate with) - that Jesus talked about if you believed he was real and coming back and you would have to account for your life? Because otherwise... you are just in a really strict social club. Sure, church is moral, and teaches good things and is fun. But church won't save you. Jesus will save you, then you go to church to hang out and collaborate with other saved, forgiven folks. Church isn't some magical thing that does the transforming. Jesus does that. Church is something you are a part of and something that is edifying, not the reason to be edified. That li'l Ghandi fellow said it nicely: "I like your Christ, I just don't like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." And that's just a powerful statement EVERY true believer and follower needs to be sensitive to... if we exuded Jesus, people wouldn't think we are all a bunch of hypocrites that equate affluent conservatives with "good christian folk." We wouldn't be de-friending people over Trump, Clinton or bathrooms if people just exuded Jesus. You'd love them anyway, have peace with them anyway and move on about your business of being grateful you got saved, and sharing the good news of your own testimony. Not legislating and bean-counting the worthiness of everyone else. #Oops #TooMuchMK #GoodChristiansJudgeDontThey #No

Think about His unique, praiseworthy qualities:
  • His all-encompassing knowledge. Unlike us, Jesus has complete awareness about our world and the details of every individual life--past, present, and future. And He doesn't really need you keeping those details on anyone else. He can do just fine.
  • His complete wisdom. God understands man's every motive, whereas you are unable to accurately discern people's intentions, until later. And even then, your own emotions and agenda get in the way. I know mine do. I love the Lord, and I try to show love to people, but even I have a hard time with some. God is way smarter than me and picks out paths that I can't even see or pattern. We make choices based on partial information, whereas He has the wisdom to take action based on truth.
  • His unconditional love. Our Creator is always motivated by love and constantly has our best in mind. Unless we trust His heart, our view of reality will be distorted. And I say that because we truly have a tendency to say we 'love,' but we don't. Not like Him and not perfectly. We love with condition. We love with expectations. If I do this, you will do this, or I will stop doing this. That's human. But it's not God.
  • His perfect sufficiency. At just the right time, God will provide us with everything we need to carry out His plan. Period.

Submitting to God's timetable and his planning requires faith AND courage. It's scary and it takes GUTS to follow the Lord. Believe in the goodness of His heart and His plans--and determine to wait until He gives the signal to move forward. Then, as you follow His schedule, you'll experience the joy of watching Him make all things beautiful in His timing. And you'll never ever be short of miracles to be amazed at. I am amazed every day at the things God does, when I listen, when I take on the things that scare me and possible even make other "christians" mad at me; but man, God has NEVER let me down in planning or in scheduling.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Monday, April 25, 2016

Learning From Failure

#DailyProverbs Luke 22:31-34: "'Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers.'

Peter answered, 'Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you and to die with you!'

'I tell you, Peter,' Jesus said, 'the cock will not crow tonight until you have said three times that you do not know me.'”

The disciple Simon Peter was a man of great faith and bold action. The foundation of the Church as we know it, and the predecessor to Saul/Paul's writings and even their great conflict. But as readers of the New Testament know, his brash style sometimes led him to make humiliating mistakes. More than once, this disciple had to wear the label of "miserable failure" rather than that of "obedient servant." I know that I can relate to him. I relate to him much more than Pauline teachings on many subjects. I am brash. I am tempermmental. I would likely cut a soldier's ear off in the heat of the garden confrontation. I know I'm not alone. We can all relate when it comes to falling short of expectations. Obedience to God is a learning process, and failure is a part of our development as humble servants. When we yield to temptation or rebel against God's authority, we realize that sin has few rewards, and even those are fleeting.

Failure is an excellent learning tool, as Peter could certainly attest. Through trial and error, he discovered:
  • Humility is required of ALL believers (John 13:5-14);
  • God's ways are higher than the world's ways. Period. (Mark 8:33);
  • One should never take their eyes off Jesus (Matt. 14:30).
Peter took each of those lessons to heart and thereby grew stronger in his faith. Isn't that Romans 8:28 in action? God caused Peter's failures to be put to good use as training material because the disciple was eager to mature and serve.

God doesn't reward rebellion or wrongdoing; however, by His grace, He blesses those who choose repentance, and learn to retry until they get this "love everyone" thing down right. We can even learn to embrace correction and getting it right. We can embrace chastisement as a tool for growth. If you have mistreated people lately, spoken out of hate, instead of love, or even judged others because they are different. God can still use you, and you can still be reconciled back to God. Maybe you have used your standards as a witness instead of your actions, but don't worry Apostolic, God still loves you and God still wants to work through you to show the love of Jesus to people that need Him the most: the abused, the poor, the needy, and those that have been disenfranchised. Don't worry, Christian... just because you have gotten it wrong in fearing the world, and what you don't understand, doesn't mean you can't do better. We are called to not be OF the world, but we are definitely IN the world. Don't make the mistake of being so separate that you don't provide a view and connection to Christ. That's what you are there for. There's always a chance to do better. The particularly nice thing about those of us that have failed so spectacularly is that we are a forgiving, and sometimes even forgetting, people. We will most certainly forgive your failure and lack of love to those that God loves, and help you embrace the teachings of Christ to be kind to all, and love all, and share with all.

We would probably all prefer to grow in our faith without ever making a mistake before God's eyes, but we cannot deny that missteps are instructive. Failure teaches believers that it is much wiser and more profitable to be obedient to the Lord.

That's a lesson we all should take to heart.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#DailyProverbs 3/29/16

#DailyProverbs 29:1: "If you get more stubborn every time you are corrected, one day you will be crushed and never recover."

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#DailyProverbs March 23, 2016

#DailyProverbs 23:21: "Drunkards and gluttons will be reduced to poverty. If all you do is eat and sleep, you will soon be wearing rags."

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On Negativity

Look, some people are just negative. They are hard-wired to see the fault and see if and how it affects them first. That will always be their first reaction and their default setting.

It doesn't mean they aren't kind people, or even good-hearted or fun-loving, but... BUT, that trait will always show up. They will always find the one note missed in a beautiful song of thousands of notes. They will always find a way to be stressed or unhappy, even in the best of circumstances that so many others would consider a dream. If they have food, it's the wrong kind... if they have water, it's not what they wanted, if they have a roof, it could be better. If they are dieting, it's the worst ever. If they have lost weight, it's not enough. They will always want more and more and more... whatever it is, it could be better or different. They are just never going to be satisfied.

So, stop trying.

Life your life. Do what you are going to do. Go where you are going to go. Let them come, or not. Let them join, or not. They will be confused and hurt when you retreat or don't always seek to include them. And rightly so, either love them or don't love them. But don't be their "sometimes" friend. But, under no circumstances are you required to cater to them or ensure their happiness is secured ahead of your own.

The world is a big, beautiful, fun place - and even with the horrors that hit us daily - it's still great to be alive and sentient and able to pursue your passions and life paths. Do not let someone else hinder and derail that. Invite them along, but don't stop for them.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

#DailyProverbs: Controlling Our Appetites

1 Corinthians 9:23-27: "All this I do for the gospel's sake, in order to share in its blessings. Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last for ever. That is why I run straight for the finishing line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest."

You can't win a race, if you don't run it. You can't succeed in something if you never attempt it. You can't learn from mistakes, if you never take action and fail. What are you trying to win? What do you want to make happen and what does success at that look like? Are you making steps to achieve those goals? Why? Why not? Is your appetite ruining your diet? Is your diet causing you to fail at things?

What words would you use to describe our society? Materialistic, sure. We are. Our capitalistic sensibilities are good at making us want to work and see profit, but they also train us to focus on the end goal of making money - getting stuff. Everyone loves stuff. (Remember the Steve Martin movie, 'The Jerk?' When he lost his fortune and his wife left.. she said, "it's not about the money, it's a bout the stuff." We are sensual, sure. We know that sex sells everything. If you can get us to feel flushed and excited, we equate the product with that feeling of beauty and intimacy and we will spend money for it. We are impatient. We want it all and we do not want to wait for any of it. We don't want to build and see growth, we want the finished product. We are indulgent. We reward every step of a process and then wonder why we can't even finish the goal. We expect others to cater to our wants, and not realize that we breed entitlement, even in those that work hard and try hard... they become expectant that just normal, everyday, grown-up activities should get them some type of "extra credit." And people indulge that behavior. We are undisciplined. We create things like "cheat days" because we know that our mentality needs to feel like it's getting something it shouldn't. We do well, then we cheat???  We starve, then gorge. We are disciplined, then we take a break.

Those are just a few examples, but one of the worst is that w are also "have it right now" society and we have bred that expectation and culture since the industrial revolution. We do not want to strategically plan, lay the foundation, and then do the work to see results. We dont' see far, as in see past generations of work and planning to the future of the Earth. We want convenience and gratification today. The devil specializes in presenting us with opportunities for instant gratification while promising us that indulging our appetites will bring us the satisfaction we seek. But they don't. Over- and often-indulging will make you sick. It will make you fat. It will bloat your processes. It will cripple your speed. It will break your discipline. It will expand your materialism. It will twist your sensuality.

Appetites are not bad. Human appetites, in and of themselves, are not sinful, nor are the activities taht go with each a sin. In fact, they're God-given, God-ordained, and God-approved. However, because WE as humans tend to take one of a good thing and corrupt it by making it the sole focus, the greater purpose, and something we cannot control... we make sin out of them. Because of our fleshly weaknesses, they need to be controlled. Do you think sex is bad? No, of course not. Sex is great. But people get addicted. They begin to twist something very good into obsession. They being to have a harder time being pleased with something and they need to take it to a different level. Their boredom and complacency begins to make them want different partners, to do harmful things, and to want to make it something it was never intended to be. Food is the same way. Food is merely fuel... but when you make it a great focus of your life... when you make food a reward system for your behavior... you can eat "x," if you accomplish "y." That's crazy. Food is for your body. Not reward for your action. Food isn't your comforter. If you eat to negate negative feelings... you will create an emotional link between how you feel and the food you tasted and smelled when you were feeling that feeling. When you do that repeatedly... it becomes more and more ingrained in you. The examples can go on and on...

When our appetites rule us, we become something of a slave. We are not in control and we are not able to rationally do the tasks we need to do in front of us. We're in trouble. Paul equated and gave the analogy that likened the Christian life to that of athletes who are so focused on winning the race that they exercise self-control in every area of their lives. And that is exactly how we're called to live. We have purpose in our lives. We have so many reasons to be grateful, happy, and to be at work on various things... but we don't. We seem never satisfied.

And it's more than just lacking motivation and determination. It's that conditioned response and years of bad behavior that must be modified. It's generations of teachings that just... need to be excavated and demolished and rebuilt in a way that is healthy. If you are weak, you are not alone... we lack the power to do so in our own strength. For this reason, we need to rely on the Holy Ghost. If we yield our lives to Him and step out in obedience to His promptings, we'll have the strength to say no when unhealthy and detrimental appetites and behaviors feel overpowering (Gal. 5:16).

But the bottom line is super simple, and super easy: You can do it. You can actually begin to make small decisions and choices every day that begin to build up to larger changes over time. If you made them all in one may not stick to them. You might feel overwhelmed. But take baby steps. Make one good choice a day. Then add to them.

Love y'all. You can do it.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

#DailyProverbs 16:7

#DailyProverbs 16:7: "When you please the Lord, you can make your enemies into friends."

You don't have to speak. You don't have to act. You don't have to lift even one finger. Hold your peace, let God fight your battles. All you have to do is love God, and love others. The rest will unfold.

It is when you get involved, involve your emotion, your self-righteousness, that you begin to alter the outcome that could have happened, had you left it alone and let God handle it. Sometimes, you just need to shut up, step back, and leave it alone.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Waiting Game

#DailyProverbs 16:9: "You may make your plans, but God directs your actions."

Have you ever *really* wondered what you would do if God spoke to you? Have you ever considered why you are kept in the dark on so many things? Can you be trusted with God's vision for the future and your part in that vision? Do you think you would be so compliant and trusting if you actually had discourse with the Lord and understood His way, timing, and plans? Would you be able to wait on the Lord for the plans and the years and time it takes to have them come to pass? Can you see in years and decades and scores of years (of which you are able to take part) and imagine the millennia that God has to oversee and wait for entire generations and peoples to come to terms with their place in the world?

The honest truth is that, likely not. You would likely want to skip steps. You would likely want to hurry the process up. No one likes to wait, but have you ever wondered why? It's because delays show us that we are not in control. Someone or something else is calling the shots, even God. And we can't stand that. We assign free-will to ourselves because it still gives us the comfort that WE are in control of the ultimate end of ourselves. (Another topic for another day, but we want that control, but we still blame God if the outcome isn't what we desired. Sigh. With that power, comes that responsibility. If you can't fathom God being true to His word and hell being real, and it being your own fault if you go there, then change your thoughts to predestination and set up a belief system in something other than free will.)

Waiting. Waiting on things beyond our control. Although we may be able to identify the immediate cause--like a traffic light or the long checkout line--ultimately God is the one who controls all our delays. Our starts. Our stops. Since Jesus is sovereign over everything in heaven and on earth, even our time and schedules are in His hands. This means that in every delay, we are actually waiting for God in one way or another. You might have thought that the expression "waiting upon the Lord" applies only to spiritual applications and beseeching answers in an altar, but that's such a limited view of God. That's such a tiny spectrum, that God would only be with you and meet you in a church, in an altar, or on days of your begging. Sure, God is there when you are seeking guidance from Him or an answer to prayer. But it can mean so much more when you remember that He controls all your day-to-day inconveniences and frustrations, too. Y'know, like a real relationship.

Do you want God to tell you things? Do you want Him to give you foresight and truth? In the Christian life, learning to wait is vitally important because until you do, you'll never be able to walk in obedience to God, have an effective prayer life, or experience the peace of resting in His loving sovereignty. But you will also have to learn to be given data, do nothing with it, hold it, trust it, nurture it, and watch over it while it grows into a promise. We must learn to trust His judgment--about not just the big events in our lives, but also the trivial ones which cause us to become irritated, impatient, or even angry. If we're sensitive to His instruction, each delay has a lesson. Each period of waiting has a truth to be learned.

The next time you face an unexpected or unwanted wait, remember that it comes as no surprise to God. He loves and you and it isn't just about some random platitude concerning patience, or increasing something as trivial as YOU. It may be a something that sets world events in motion. It may be something as important as you not disrupting a soul coming into His presence. It may be something that keeps you and saves you. It may be so you don't ruin something.

Jesus, I've found in my walk and in my talks where He has shown me (more than I ever truly wanted) things... He's more interested in developing godly character than He is in making sure your schedule runs according to your plans.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sins of the Father: Wounded Parent, Wounded Child

#DailyProverbs Jeremiah 32:17-19: "Sovereign Lord, you made the earth and the sky by your great power and might; nothing is too difficult for you. You have shown constant love to thousands, but you also punish people for the sins of their parents. You are a great and powerful God; you are the Lord Almighty. You make wise plans and do mighty things; you see everything that people do, and you reward them according to their actions."

Being just, and being righteous, doesn't always seem to equate with being "fair." Or, and least with being fair according to humans. And it doesn't seem very fair that the children pay for the sins of the parents. However, it goes deeper. It IS deeper than that. It's not just linked with accountability for yourself and your own life... it's about the legacy you inherited and the legacy you leave for the future.

So often when we deal with difficult people, it's easy to form judgments about them based on their behavior or attitudes. And actions and attitude are all that I can see about a person, so, that's a natural progression: if you act in a manner, I'll associate you with that manner based on the only evidence I'm given. But, aside from that, have you ever stopped to wonder what has made that person so disagreeable or foolish? Do you know people with "good hearts" but that behave atrociously? When the Bible says God "repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children" (v. 18), it is speaking about generational cycles of sin. Notice how some people are broken in ways you cannot fathom, and they act out accordingly. In fact, unless someone in the family line makes a deliberate choice to change, sinful and dysfunctional behavior will be passed from parent to child for many generations, and it's not just what you "teach" your children, it's what they watch, learn, and absorb. If you are a constantly anxious mother, you'll likely have a constantly anxious daughter. If you accept abuse, you'll teach your daughter to accept abuse. If you are an abusive man, you'll teach your son to be an abusive man. Your sin, your behavior, and your general outlook will pass to the next generation.

This is really just a confirmation of the principle of sowing and reaping. We pass down standards for conduct, our religious beliefs, our standards for living and the character traits that we received from our parents. Those can be wonderfully traditional and create family bonds for generations. Or they can create horrible and terrible family traits. If we are unwilling to change our sinful habits and attitudes, they will, almost always without fail, find their way into our children's lives. Look at drug abuse and alcoholism, children that hate how their parents acted on drugs, will eventually find a way to experiment and see what the big deal was about. Children of alcoholics generally become drinkers, or even heavy drinkers.

What is true for sin is also true for wounding. When a child is emotionally bruised, or even broken, in the home, his and her behavior and character will be negatively affected. So, think about that when you encounter difficult people. What hurts do you think shaped his or her life? A heart of compassion originates from a willingness to empathize with those who have been wounded. This doesn't excuse someone's sin, but it does aid in opening our hearts toward the individual's plight, and need for compassion. Kindness goes a long, long way.

What about you? What childhood wounds contributed to who you are today? How have they affected your life? How are they affecting the lives of those around you? Are you lashing out at others because of what you inherited? Are you hurting others because of what you learned? If you haven't dealt with them, you'll probably pass similar hurts down to your children.

With God's help, you can break this cycle and begin a new one that will benefit, instead of harm, future generations.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

#DailyProverbs February 23, 2016

#DailyProverbs 23:9: "Don't try to talk sense to a fool; he can't appreciate it."

I love the twosidedness of this scripture. We tend to believe that when WE speak, OTHERS will listen and be transformed. Stop. You will likely never change someone that obstinately refuses to change on that principal alone.

Just like when others speak to you, trying to teach you something... you refuse to listen to them.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Monday, February 22, 2016

#DailyProverbs February 22, 2016

#DailyProverbs 22:29: "Show me someone who does a good job, and I will show you someone who is better than most and worthy of the company of kings."

Happy Monday, y'all... I may be tired from a full weekend, and church, but let's go get today started! You are the only person that will affect the outcome of your day and your attitude. Bad stuff may or may not happen. Co-workers may or may not help you. Deals may or may get inked. Contracts have issues, traffic may be a nightmare, maybe you just wont' "feel like it..."


Don't let anything stop you. Go be your best "you" and give your best work. Then watch as everything else fades into the background...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Responding to God's Love

#DailyProverbs John 3:16: "For God loved the world so much that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life."

The entire context of this scripture is so often overlooked. I am STILL studying about accountability, and I am STILL working through this other series, but in my studies on accountability, love is a recurring theme. It just keeps coming up. Loving God. Loving people. l recently wrote about love. And God's love and how it is different than our human love. We have to respond to God. We have to respond to the act of love shown us and given to us, but the real question is HOW? How can we respond to love, when we don't really know what love is? How can we accept unconditional love, when we don't love unconditionally, and we rarely even love when it's not convenient or returned.

The only way I know is to look at what God would do, and model that, instead of thinking about what I'd do, and then trying to shoehorn God into what my mind can comprehend. So, let's look at the "greatest" love ever: the love God had for humanity when he sacrificed Himself as Jesus.

In John 3, the chapter starts off recounting what Jesus and a great teacher in Israel, Nicodemus, were discussing and "how" to be saved, essentially. How to get to heaven. Jesus said be born again, Nicodemus gave Him the side-eye and flippantly asked how to come out of a womb twice. So, Jesus laid it out there:

John 3:10-21: "Jesus answered, 'You are a great teacher in Israel, and you don't know this? I am telling you the truth: we speak of what we know and report what we have seen, yet none of you is willing to accept our message. You do not believe me when I tell you about the things of this world; how will you ever believe me, then, when I tell you about the things of heaven? And no one has ever gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from heaven.'
'As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior. Those who believe in the Son are not judged; but those who do not believe have already been judged, because they have not believed in God's only Son. This is how the judgement works: the light has come into the world, but people love the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil. All those who do evil things hate the light and will not come to the light, because they do not want their evil deeds to be shown up. But those who do what is true come to the light in order that the light may show that what they did was in obedience to God."

There is SO much going on in that passage of scripture that we gloss over. We are taught one little scripture to hold on to, that gives us salvation in a nutshell, but doesn't in context give the entire conversation and how judgment and guides for living are laid out right with it:
~v11. Jesus knew that he had people hanging onto Him, that still didn't "get" the message.
~v12. Jesus knew that even the disciples barely understood getting fed and him talking in parables they *could* understand, much less heavenly babble about new, secondary births and love being greater than earthly kingdoms. Stopping the fighting and resistance, even when that was political and national suicide, and giving twice as much to those that would steal from you as they asked. That was outside the realm of understanding. And it sounds like Christians today. We can't fathom not being a strong conservative, patriotic army-supporting Christian, but would Christ support war? Or would he draw in the dirt and point out some things we all need to consider?
~v13. I love that Jesus himself reiterates that He came from Heaven. It takes it right back to John chapter one and how He was there from the very foundation of the universe and all that was created.
~v17. For now, and for the purpose of salvation, Jesus came to save us, to be a savior, a healer, a comforter, and an advocate. He didn't come to judge and to shame and to wallow. He came to save. If only we, as his followers, could grasp that and treat others that NEED him with that care and love.
~v18. Wanna skip judgement? Get saved. Get saved by believing in Jesus and THUS, following Jesus in deed and not only in word.
~v19-21. He lays it DOWN on how we do not love light and we will seek darkness to blend and hide our own dark deeds. Those who follow Him and seek light, will expose their dark deeds and begin to "act true" according to a translation and will love the light for showing them their deeds.

So may people say that it confuses them that God created us, and will send us to Hell if we don't love Him - but that's not entirely accurate. Yes, He can see the future and yes, He knew what would happen, but that's the thing with free will. You can see something coming and still hope for the best. Lots of you do that with your relationships. You see the texts and signs and actions, yet... there you are... hoping and pretending. God is kind of like that. He hopes we'll act right and then grieves when we don't. Thus, the sacrifice of Jesus. But, after mankind rejected God, rejected the garden, and rejected perfect communion and companionship... if you don't accept the way God made out of bondage, out of Egypt, out of sin... yes, you will go to Hell. And it won't be God that sent you. You will have actively made the choice to go there.

See, the truth at the heart of all of this is that God has to be true to Himself. People, by and large, are foolish to entertain the hope that He will ignore justice and sacrifice holiness in order to allow unbelievers into heaven. That won't happen. There aren't seven ways, it's not all of the same spirit behind differing beliefs, and it's not just finding your inner peace and personal happiness. Morality is not the same thing as spirituality. You can't be moral "enough" to satisfy the payment for sin. "Good enough" will never be good enough.

And as much as the Jesus loves us and desires to save us from our sins, He cannot deny His holiness by accepting sin in His presence. Jesus is a part of the universal spirit of God, and he IS God in flesh, but God is pristine perfection--a Holy Being who, by His very nature, must condemn all sin. It really is the height of self-grandiosity and egotism to think that God will bend both His law and His nature to make special allowances for *you.* I don't mean that to be a dig. I don't mean to be so harsh that you are turned away, but I don't mean to gloss over this. I don't mean to allow whoever reads this to walk away thinking that they are the unique, special snowflake that got hugs after every race, and participation trophies after every game that God will treat you that way. He will, in fact, not. Either follow the teachings of Jesus, be saved, and live for God... or don't. You are in control and make those choices.

That sounds mean, but it's somberly and wholly true. It doesn't sound much like "love" speech, but the accountability portion requires us to be candidly truthful IN LOVE. The bottom line is that I am not worthy and still require lots of care from God. And you are not worthy. There is not one person who's good enough to enter heaven on his or her own merit. Every one of us needs Jesus. The end. Period. The stain of sin is washed clean only by the sacrifice of Jesus. Those who believe in Christ are forgiven their wrongs and cloaked in His righteousness (2 Cor 5:21: "Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with Him we might share the righteousness of God.") Our ONLY hope and righteousness is from partaking in a relationship with Christ.

So, how DO we respond to God's love? It doesn't necessarily always feel very loving to how we are taught today. We are taught that unless we are sublimely and completely sated and happy, then we are not loved. We don't view love as a means to salvation. We don't think it's fair that we bear the sin-debt of generations before us. And we think it ludicrous that because that sin-debt must be spiritually-legally paid, we are required to handle it. But we couldn't. We never could. Jesus did. And that is why love took over. Love and love alone made it possible for us to have this hope. So how do WE accept it? Let me make it very clear that trusting Jesus is exactly who He said He was, and who many followers have claimed, and learning that He is God and can save us... is far more than giving intellectual assent to His existence--that's something even the Devil acknowledges. It's relationship. It's communion. If you REALLY believe, you will follow His teachings. A true believer enters into a *gasp, that word again* a RELATIONSHIP with a God that loves his soul enough to save him from eternal punishment.

Or... sometimes, they don't. Some people intellectually know Jesus, but they will never give up sin, never stop hating others different from themselves, never give away their cloak on top of their shirt, never become selfless enough to share their lives with others, never give up war and death, and never turn another cheek when offended. They know that Jesus sells albums and books and tickets. They know that Jesus builds big brands. They know that Jesus brings groups of political prowess together. They know that Jesus will make people band together for a commonly held regional belief... Those who remain tightly wrapped in their mantle of sin, even when willfully ingrained through ignorant teaching, cannot hope to "sneak" into heaven. It's binary. It's pass or fail, not graded on some cosmic curve.

They do not get it and they are not taught these scriptures in such a DIRECT and blunt manner anymore. They are not IN a relationship with Jesus. They do not grasp the holy shema (Deut. 6:4: "'Israel, remember this! The Lord — and the Lord alone — is our God.' Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.") They do not look at those in need with compassion. They do not know that the ONE God is grieved by their lack of love for those around them, their neighbors, those needing hospitality, those forced from their homes, those that are victims of war and crime and unfavorable leadership. All of these point to a lack of love and devotion to God. If they WERE in a relationship with Jesus, they'd be following His teachings and His example. they would know the shema and God's first commandment, and they would then follow Christ's example of loving everyone around them in a manner they they would want to be love.

God's holy nature demands perfection, and since we can't provide this for ourselves, the Lord has given it to all who believe in Him. He has exchanged our filthy rags for a cloak of righteousness (Zech. 3:4: "The angel said to his heavenly attendants, 'Take away the filthy clothes this man is wearing.' Then he said to Joshua, 'I have taken away your sin and will give you new clothes to wear.'”).

God loves you.
I do, too.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How To Accept Love...

#DailyProverbs 1 John 4:7-12: "Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in union with us, and his love is made perfect in us."

The world hurts. We don't really know what to do anymore in so many situations. We aren't sure of the changes that occur, the progress society makes, or how we fit in anymore as we get older. Many people cannot process love. They cannot accept love from themselves, from others, or from God. Basically, people simply can't believe that the Lord loves them. Of we twist and pervert God's love in our interpretation of how He loves us, and we pass that twisted, perverted love to others when we believe that He loves them, but only when they are pleasing Him in some way.

Why is it so hard for us to accept His unconditional love?

The main reason is that we assume God is anthropomorphically human. We attribute Him to be human, because he made us. But God ISN'T human, Jesus is God in Flesh and even from the foundations of the universal creation, he isn't bound by our mental and emotional reasoning. Because we think Jesus is human-like, we assume that He, like us, has a hard time loving others without condition. We might say the words "I love you" to our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or fellow believers; but, all too often we are calculating in our mind whether or not they've lived up to our standard. We sometimes excuse ourselves from loving certain people because their behavior upsets or annoys us. The fact that we place restrictions on extending love and favor causes us to incorrectly assume that the Lord does likewise. We are wrong. We are not like Jesus, and we don't love like Jesus. Jesus loves us all, unconditionally. Even those you judge and condemn... Jesus can still love and save.

Another valid, but less-often true, reason is poor self-image. Most people give themselves a pass, even when they hold others to a standard. That's human nature... we want to be judged on our INTENT vs. our actions. But we always judge others on their ACTIONS vs. their intent. Probably because actions still cause us issues, detours and pain. But we want others to consider that for us. However, considering ourselves unworthy, we refuse to accept God's love. And you know what? That is very true. Not one of us is worthy of Jesus' goodness and mercy—so you can let go of that excuse once and for all. We're not coming to Him based on our worth, our works, our standards, our actions, or even our love... Rather, we're coming to Jesus based on His grace, and because of His love, grace, and mercy extended to us as created humanity, our position is secure in Christ. To put yourself down as "beneath His grace" is to trample and denigrate His quite generous gift. God arranged an awesome divine way for us to be reconciled to Him, and His greatest desire is for relationship with each of us.

If you feel unloved, or even if you just struggle to understand or accept yourself, begin to understand that only through Christ are we worthy, and only through Christ can your acceptance and peace be complete. Receive the truth that He reveals. It will be a completely different story about your value as an individual.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Friday, February 5, 2016

Godly Living in an Ungodly Age... Old Landmarks in a New Generation

#DailyProverbs Titus 1

The Founding Fathers of the United States created a governing framework based upon spiritual and moral principles, but that were inherently very giving to free will. That's probably because they were not raised American, and had been under the rule of a King for so long. But they trusted in God and in their conscience to guide them to the founding of an entire country that was wholly something new. President Eisenhower urged Congress in 1954, some 178 years after the nation's founding, to add "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. Two years later, President Eisenhower signed a law that added "In God We Trust" progressively to paper money over a two year period through 1958. (Incidentally, "In God We Trust" was on metal currency beginning in 1864, a mere 88 years after the nation was created.) Also in 1956, 180 years after the founding of the United States, President Eisenhower also changed, or made alternative, the nation's motto from "E Pluribus Unum" (out of many, one) to "In Got We Trust." What had been in place since the birth of the nation, and for almost two hundred years was changed specifically to not reflect many, but to point to God.

Slowly, methodically - even tragically - we’ve become, in numerous ways, an ungodly nation. So many are driven by materialism and power; immorality and rebellion are prevalent; empty philosophy and false doctrine are widely acceptable. Underlying it all is a vocal decision to take God out of the nation’s “official business.” I don't give all of this to merely discuss civics. I give it to show that many saints for hundreds of years lived morally, spiritually, and Godly prior to what was on money, or what was read in a school. You misinterpret me if you think that I foolishly believe that a pledge, sayings on money, or mandatory one-faith prayer in a school is what makes you Godly.

Materialism is at the heart of conscienceless capitalism, not the teachings of the church founded in Jerusalem by Peter. Not the sharing between all that came to Christ equally and caring for those that needed to be cared for... Not the denying of self and luxury so that others could come to Christ and live equally free and unencumbered. Power that corrupts should be carefully evaluated and moderated. Immorality has many forms, but aside from what you think of people that fall into sexual sin... immorality is also turning a cold, blind eye to the hungry. Immorality is thinking that someone's suffering isn't your problem because you aren't affected. Immorality is being unfeeling to those that need love, and a friend, even at their lowest point. Immorality is qualifying the reason someone might need help and becoming the judge on a human soul's worthiness. If you are a true Christian, then believing yourself righteous in any other way than through Christ is false doctrine. You are not good enough, you never were, and you never will be. Only through Christ can you be anything more than worthless and deserving of death to pay for sin, and you should never take the stance that someone else is worthless or incapable of being saved, or even feel like your service to Christ has made you "better" than anyone that may be in a gutter somewhere, for whatever reason. Those are the false, loveless, teachings Christ warned against and that will lead you on a path to separation and eventual loss of Christ. That is the society to warn against, those that are cold, that do not love, and that are so resolute in their duty, they forget that all need Jesus.

Even in an unbelieving society, people can and do, as individuals, follow Jesus. But the world will continually disseminate faulty teachings, so believers must be discerning. You will hear them, daily, from so-called Christians, telling you that success and ease is what God wants for His people. The devil will always tell you that more is more. He will never tell you to deny yourself. The doctrine of the superlative is not scriptural. Jesus was clear that we are to follow Him and nothing else. He made it clear that if your family is more important, you can't follow Him. He made it clear that if you follow Him, you will be considered odd and disowned. When you get "too" fanatical about Jesus, people will think you strange, and consider you an "other." He made it clear that His followers don't retaliate, they don't fight, they don't judge others worthiness, only their fruit, they do not hate. He made it clear that His followers are to love, and only love. He wants us to be kind. He wants us to love in the face of hate. Jesus never said we'd be okay. That is false doctrine. He actually said we'd be hated because of our difference, ridiculed, reviled, possibly tortured, possibly killed. Love and the kindness to those that do evil to us is WHY they do not understand who Jesus really is. Those without love, cannot stand to see it in action. Those without love will never understand what you do, or why you do it, based on love. If you are super comfortable in the world, then you are worldly. If you think that your "anger" and your "might" will show someone Christ when you don't "like" something, then you are not pointing the way to Jesus. If you find it easy to adopt and blend, then you are not the "salt and light." Erroneous messages can lead Christians to compromise their convictions. Trust me, if you can grow hair, you can be kind. If you can preach till you are hoarse, but would rather sit in a deer stand and cuss about politics than you would walk downtown and give food to people sitting in doorways that are homeless, then you are not pointing to Christ. If you can worry about whether or not your looks are your witness, then you can use your mouth to show love and kindness. When you see and hear other "christians" that are not showing love and not bearing fruit that love brings, and you identify with that, because you think anyone that isn't like you isn't worthy, then you need to evaluate what you define as "christian." The most simple way to define it correctly is someone who follows the teachings of Christ. You will hear it said that it is someone that simply believes in Christ. But, the devil believes... demons believe... that's not enough. The actions you take based on the teachings and will of Christ are what transform you into A Christian. Luckily, the simplicity of God is confusing to humans... it is the most simple set of rules to follow when you begin to love Jesus:
1. Love God.
2. Love others.

If you do those two things, everything else will fall into place. You won't have to worry about rules and regulations, legislation of morality and the confusion of what you legally want to control in others. When you love God, your speech, dress, attitude and care for others will SHOW that you love God. When you love others, the way you treat them, speak to them and handle them will SHOW that you love them. When you begin to follow Christ, and take up your cross, and deny self, and then show love to those that seemingly cannot be loved... you'll see. Your affections and priorities will change. Don’t let the world’s clamor make the Holy Ghost's voice less audible. Without Jesus' guidance, our minds become vulnerable to lies.

I believe in tradition. I believe in keeping up a standard. But I also know that when something becomes dry, dusty, and is decaying, it must be revived, or removed. You can't live, unless you prune back your confusion, your complacency... You cannot sustain on the blessings and love of previous generations. You must find them anew in your own life. You have to wake up every day, and show love. The Word of God is a compass that keeps us headed in the right direction—even in the midst of confusing messages all around. What is the most direct, simple message of truth from the word?

What is the Word? Jesus.
Who is Jesus? God.
What is God? Love.
See? Easy.

We need to be consistently filled with truth by reading, believing, meditating upon, and applying real Scripture, and not the platitudes of well-meaning "saints." God also tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). If our minds are focused upon Him, unholy beliefs and lies about what it means to be a good person that is a conservative Christian will not be able to take root. You will follow the Christ, not other "christians." The Word (Jesus) is our guidebook. We will still face difficulty as we live in this imperfect world—it is a confusing, dark place that entices us but never fulfills our true longings. Yet God’s truth will bring confidence and boldness, and the Holy Ghost will direct and strengthen, enabling us to live victoriously.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Thursday, February 4, 2016

All You Need Is Love

#DailyProverbs John 15:11-17: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them. And you are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. This, then, is what I command you: love one another.”

Want to have joy? Love.
Want to have complete joy? Love.
Want to be right with Jesus? Love.
Want to defeat the devil? Love.
Want to be a friend of God? Love.
Want to follow the commandments that Jesus gave? Love.
Want to be chosen? Love.
Want to bear fruit? Love.
Want God's attention when you pray? Love.
Want the name of Jesus to be powerful when you use it? Love.

 #AllYouNeedIsLove #LoveIsAllYouNeed