The Love of God


Ephesians 3: 18  “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”

Oh! And all God’s people said, “Amen!”

When someone is about to confide in me but hesitates, I often say, “Look. I’ve done and seen pretty much everything there is to do and see. I won’t be offended and I won’t be surprised.”

It’s the truth. If I were to list off my sins, my mistakes – well, many of you who know me would actually be offended, because it would blow your mind how different I am today than I was even a decade ago.

Beth Moore says one reason we can’t understand God is that we try to humanize Him. Oh sweet Lord, how true that is. When we try to grasp how much – or how, period – He loves us, we can come up short.

Oh, especially when we’ve lived lives unsure of the love of anyone, right? The love of any human being? And when – if we’re lucky – we find out that we were wrong – that he or she – or they – actually do love us, well – that presents a beautiful challenge.

What do we do with our lives when we realize we were living them under the wrong assumption or belief? The first thing that we understand, friends, is the depth of the mistakes we made because we believed we were unworthy of love.

So – what constitutes an unforgivable offense here? Just by looking at my life, and the lives of people I know, here’s a quick list I compiled.

“God couldn’t love me because I’ve had too many sexual partners.”

“God couldn’t love me because I lied – all the time.”

“God couldn’t love me because I manipulated people and tried to control them.”

“God couldn’t love me because I had a baby out of wedlock.”

“God couldn’t love me because I haven’t lived a mature, responsible life. I’m not a success, I’m sometimes lazy, and I don’t make as much money as I should. It’s my own fault.”

“God couldn’t love me because I have doubted His love for me for years.”

“God couldn’t love me because I got divorced.”

“God couldn’t love me because I don’t look, think, or act like all those other Christians.”

You know what? Beth Moore also said that belief is not a feeling – it is a choice. And she is right. Some days or moments it’s easy to feel God’s love. Because it was a “good” day – no one got mad at you and you didn’t make an insanely huge screw-up. Or something bad has happened and God came through for you in a big way.

But most days we’re just human. We make mistakes, hurt someone, or let someone down. Maybe we get in trouble at work, at school, or at home. And satan comes strolling into that hot mess and just tells us how worthless we are. And if you’ve heard those words come out of the mouths of people, his voice sounds an awful lot like theirs. And you believe it.

You have a choice, my friends. The choice to believe the Word, not the words of satan, not the words of people who are also screwed up and don’t know how to love you like they should.

Make the choice. And while you’re at it, encourage someone today. You never know, y’all. You never know how much they might need it.

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Not My Business!


We say that a lot, don’t we? Even if only to ourselves.

Ezekiel had something to say about that – well, God speaking through him, that is. I read it just now and realized it is the reason I feel the way I do about this matter. First, read this verse:

Ezekiel 33: But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

Next, let’s consider who this verse applies to besides ourselves. Right off the bat, we know we must hold our brothers and sisters in Christ to a higher level of accountability. The unsaved do not know or believe in our ways. But is that who God is referring to when He calls this people “wicked?”

I believe God means those who are unsaved. We are to “warn” them. That means that if we see or know of someone doing something sinful, we are to tell them about Jesus, I think. Not to come down hard on them or make them angry or ashamed (although these are natural feelings that will come upon them), but to gently and lovingly reprove.

Is that going to make a wicked person happy? Or angry and frustrated? Come now – we all know why we don’t actually follow these words. We don’t want to be the bearer of “bad” news. We don’t want anyone to be angry with us. We want to be friends of all. Folks, Christ didn’t call us to do that. He didn’t call us to be judgmental and critical, but He did call us to speak truth.

Personally? I think the way to start this whole process is to SHOW, not tell. Due to a time constraint, this may not be possible, but if it is, let your actions and reactions speak volumes. This opens the door for further questions and communication. Speak. The Spirit will give you the words.

Now, what if the person doing something wicked is a believer? Does it really matter?

When you know or see something that is wrong, you are obligated to speak up. There’s no way around it. I feel personally responsible for the actions of others around me. If they’re in trouble and I did not help, I am responsible for that! If I don’t at least speak up, I am responsible for that! It’s tiring and overwhelming. Yes. But it’s part of loving others, my friends.

Does it require courage? Honor? Integrity? Of course it does. So, as I tell my boys all the time, handle your business.

Are you going to hell if you don’t confront your Christian co-worker on stealing office supplies? No. Are you going to answer for it? Yes. Are you going to hell for not telling your best friend that his wife is having an affair? No. Are you going to answer for it? Yes.

Are you going to hell for refusing to defend your spouse when others try to manipulate, hurt, offend, and cause trouble for him? No. Are you going to answer for it? Yes.

Are you going to hell for driving by a gas station and witnessing a man beating a woman and refusing to stop to help or even call the police? No. Are you going to answer for it?

You absolutely will. Courage is not the absence of fear – it is action in the very freaking midst of it. This Christian life is HARD. It is not meant to be easy and it shouldn’t be. It is a battle we fight against satan and his minions, and sometimes it requires us to do the hard thing. So fasten your seat belts and begin to see how amazingly freeing it is to follow the Word!

 

 

In Defense of Others – Part II


Last week, I posted the first of this two-part series about defending others, but today we are taking it to a totally unexpected place. At least for me. I had no idea God was going to push me in this direction!

First, let’s take a look at Scripture relating to today’s post, taken from Ezekiel 19:

10 Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard
    planted by the water,
fruitful and full of branches
    by reason of abundant water.
11 Its strong stems became
    rulers’ scepters;
it towered aloft
    among the thick boughs;
it was seen in its height
    with the mass of its branches.
12 But the vine was plucked up in fury,
    cast down to the ground;
the east wind dried up its fruit;
    they were stripped off and withered.
As for its strong stem,
    fire consumed it.
13 Now it is planted in the wilderness,
    in a dry and thirsty land.
14 And fire has gone out from the stem of its shoots,
    has consumed its fruit,
so that there remains in it no strong stem,
    no scepter for ruling.

In this passage, “your mother” refers to Jerusalem, while the “vine” is Zedekiah. The vine is taken by Babylonian kinds, who exiled the Israelites throughout other parts of the world.

We start off well. We start off vigorous. But over time, our morals and values – our beliefs – erode. And what was once a country to be proud of – The United States of America – is now a shameful place.

I’m ashamed of my country – yes. But I still believe in it. I have to defend the parts of it that are worth defending and let go of the rest! What is still worth defending in such a lost country?

The love of God. The love of family as God created it to be. The grace, mercy, and compassion we extend to others, whether they came here legally or look like me or not. Hope and passion for a better life. These are what inspire me and move me. What motivate me to help others. That’s what being American is about to me.

What is it about to you? Blessings!