Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 4

"15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16)

Have you ever taken a drink of something that was supposed to be hot, like coffee or hot chocolate, and it was just to the point where it was starting to get cold? That happened to me the other day and I had to seriously fight the urge to spit the coffee out. I couldn't help but think about this passage in Revelation...God can't stand it when we are lukewarm.

Unfortunately, I think that today's church (the people not the building) is in a constant struggle with being lukewarm. I don't think that this is an intentional thing for most of us because this is the culture that we have been brought up in. We go to church and read our Bibles and pray and say the right things...but why? Because we were told to...its just what we do. We don't drink, smoke, cuss, or partake in other "sinful" activities...why? Because we were told not to.

I think that Christians as a whole get caught up in the rut of being "lukewarm" and just going through the motions because that is we are so used to doing...or "supposed to do." We need to break the mold of Christianity that is causing so many people to look down on us. We need to stop accepting mediocrity and live up to the standard that Christ has set for us. I believe that there is so much that we are missing out on in this life and we don't even know it because we are caught up in our "lukewarm" faith and content with it. We don't feel the need to grow any closer to Christ because we are close enough.

Here are a list of things that Francis Chan labels as "The Profile of the Lukewarm"

Lukewarm People...
  • attend church fairly regularly
  • give money to charity and to the church as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living
  • tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in a conflict
  • don't really want to be saved from their sin; they only want to be saved from the penalty of their sin
  • are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act
  • rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends
  • gauge their morality or "goodness" by comparing themselves to the secular world
  • say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives...but only a part
  • love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength
  • love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves
  • will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give
  • think about life on earth much more than eternity in Heaven
  • are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor
  • do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty
  • are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control
  • do not live by faith; their lives and structured so they never have to
  • probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't that different from your typical unbeliever
Look over this list and REALLY take a deep look into your life. Are you lukewarm?

Jesus explained in the parable of the sower different levels of people and how they accept the Word of Truth in Matthew 13. The seed flung onto the path is quickly stolen away. The seed tossed onto the rocks do not take root...they appear to grow, but only on a surface level. The seed spread out among the thorns takes root but is soon suffocated by the thorns. The seed that is sown on good soil takes root, grows, and produces fruit.

"Do not assume that you are good soil."

Like I said in previous posts...we serve an amazing God who loves us with an unconditional love. He deserves the absolute best that we have. Not some lukewarm drink that He is going to want to spit out the second it touches His tongue. We need to strive to give Him our all, our best, and our first fruits.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 3

Crazy- 1. wonderful, excellent, perfect.
2. having an unusual, unexpected, or random quality, behavior, result, pattern, etc.

Love- 1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

I have come to the conclusion that most people struggle with completely understanding God's love. I have heard questions like, "If God truly loves us then why do bad things still happen?" and "How can God love me, you don't know the things that I have done." I think that each person who struggles with grasping God's love does so for many different reasons...whether it is because of some encounter that we have had in a relationship that has skewed our view of love...or whether we have just not seen an outpouring of love at all in our lives...the reasons vary from person to person.

People try to associate the love that they see in this world with the love that God shows us and while that can give us a very small glimpse of what God's love is like, it pales in comparison. For example...I know that my parents love me. No matter what I do, no matter what I say. There is nothing that I can do that would change that. But still...the love that my parents have for me is just a small fraction of the love that God has for me.

Let me try to get this point across...the God we serve is a HUGE God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-sufficient. He created everything that we are able to see in this world and even the things that we can't see. Yet a God that is so much bigger than our brains could even fathom loves each and every one of us with a love that we cannot fathom either! This God wants to be a part of our lives on a daily basis. Before we had ever been born, He knew us. (Jeremiah 1:4-5) He created us for a purpose that is "to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

I can't even begin to understand God's love but I do know this...that I want to try. I want nothing more than to be a part of a God who loves us with such a crazy love. I want nothing more than to be a part of a love that God chooses to give to us. I want nothing more than to be a part of the greatest good on this earth...God. I don't know why a God so huge decided to love each and every one of us, it is crazy to think about. All that I can do is embrace this love and strive with everything that is in me to give all my love in return. My love for God should make it so that I want to spend every waking moment in contact with Him...by digging into His word...by talking to Him through prayer...and by basking in the goodness of His creation. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 2

You might not finish reading this blog post...

Why is that you ask? Because at any moment any one of us could cease to exist. That is the reality of the issue. Everybody dies.

Most of the time people fail to realize that at any moment they could die. Whether your heart would decide to randomly stop beating or you fell victim to the acts of a murderer...it could happen. There won't always be tomorrow and that is something that we don't like to think about. Why don't we like to think about it? Because it forces us to make the realization that life isn't about us...and forces us to make the realization that we are a selfish people.

Think about that. We are selfish. I would be willing to bet that you could not make it through one week or maybe even one day without having a selfish thought. We get so caught up in living for ourselves that we forget that every single second of our lives is not about us...but is about God. God doesn't fit into our story...we fit into His. Francis Chan walked us through how God's story is recorded in the Bible and I will walk us through this quickly.

God created the world-->People rebel against God and-->God floods the earth to rid it of the mess people made of it-->generations later...God called out Abram to be the father of a nation-->even later...people like Joseph and Moses and other ordinary people were also picked by God to do great works-->then God sends judges and prophets to His nation because they had trouble obeying Him-->then the climax...the Son of God is born among God's people and teaches people what true love looks like then dies, is resurrected, and returns to Heaven to be with God-->then the story ends...with every being worshiping God who sits on the throne of Heaven.

You tell me who this story is about.

What does this mean for us? We need to stop living like everything revolves around us...and start living like everything revolves around God. Nothing else matter in this life except for God. Not money, fame, family, friends, popularity...NOTHING. We need to live in such a way that it is impossible for us to forget God...because He is everything! We have to realize that.

Crazy Love - Chapter 1

I was packing up my books the other day, getting things in order for when I finish up my internship and head back to school, and I noticed something that kinda bothered me. I had probably no less than 20 books sitting on my shelf that I hadn't read yet...but this isn't really what bothered me. What really bothered me was that I noticed another 20 or so books that I have read...I couldn't remember a single thing about some and very few things about others. I spent hours reading those books and have nothing to show for it...what a waste of time!

I came to the conclusion that I needed to do something in order to better recall the things that I have read so that I can better apply them to my life. So I devised a plan. From now on I am going to read at least a chapter every day and sometimes more and then regurgitate what I read on my blog. My hopes are that I will be able to recall the things that I read and better apply them to my life. Also, I hope that something that I write on here will inspire someone else in some way.

Today I started the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I have heard great things about this book and am really looking forward to being challenged by its words.

Stop Praying...what a way to start a book.

Stop talking at God and take some time to actually meditate and focus on who He is.

This is a whole lot harder than you might think. Just thinking of God as "Creator" is most likely too much for our human brains to handle. This video kinda puts things into perspective a little bit. This universe that God created and its detail is a lot to take in. Just thinking about how no two snowflakes are the same or how God knows exactly the number of hairs on our head or how your heart creates enough pressure when it pumps blood through your body to squirt it up to 30 feet or how there are 228 separate and distinct muscles in the head of a caterpillar is simply amazing. And this is just a fraction of the tip of an iceberg.

I feel just like Chan when he said that when he thinks about these things he HAS to worship. How could you not? Check out Psalm 19:1-4. I feel a little left out at times when I read this passage. If all of creation is a constant testimony to to power of God and how truly BIG He is...why do I miss it sometimes? Why am I not constantly lifting God up in worship? Unfortunately I think that a lot of us struggle with just this. We forget God and who He really is. We don't often think about this because it is one of those things that is always around us and never leaves. We get used to being right in the middle of it and start to take it for granted...or forget that it is there...that God is with us...and that He is AWESOME!

Chan end the chapter by hitting on some of the key attributes of God that we often forget about...not because they are easily forgettable, but simply because we forget. We need to be reminded of these things so that we never truly forget who God is and what He is like.
  • God is holy or set apart and perfect. Because of this there is no way that we can fathom everything about Him. There aren't enough words in our vocabulary to describe Him...in the words of Chan..."Isn't it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?"
  • God is eternal. That seems like a given, right? Just think about that for a while. In a world full of things that have a beginning, we have a God that doesn't. We have a God that came before everything and will be there long after everything is gone. Try to grasp everything about that...
  • God is all-knowing. It is humbling to think that the same God who is big enough to have created everything in existence and is holy and eternal is also a God that wants to know the little things about us...and everything else about us for that matter.
  • God is all-powerful. Everything was created for God. (Colossians 1:16) Yet we seem to go about our lives thinking that everything is here for us. Daniel 4:35 says that basically we are nothing and God is everything...He has ultimate power to do as He pleases. Who are we to tell Him any different?
  • God is fair and just. He is pretty set in His ways. He can have no part of sin because He is holy. And all sin must be punished. Its as simple as that. The cool thing about it is this: God gave us His Son to take the punishment we deserve. Everyone is covered in that sacrifice...that's pretty fair. Yet Jesus took the punishment for something that had to be punished...that's pretty just. God hates sin and must punish sin. And He is completely fair and just in doing so.
It is an amazing thing to get caught up in everything that God is. I think that I need to take some time right now just to continue to take this all in...I encourage you to do the same. I know that I can't physically comprehend or explain God...but I need to try. Just look at it this way...we will NEVER run out of reasons to worship God. That is comforting encouragement to live a life of worship...finding things daily that are new and exciting about God.