Saturday, May 26, 2018

loved

We love because he first loved us. ~1 John 4:19


There may be no more important verse in all of the scriptures than this one.  It lays the foundation for how everything else lines up.  It reminds us that the only way we can truly love God is to be completely captured and transformed by his love first.  Our love for God can never precede the reality (and experience) of our being loved by God.  For we can only love God—and others, for that matter—in direct proportion to how well we understand and experience the depths of being loved by him.  That is how our lives—and our souls—are designed to function.  We love because he first loved us; not, God loves us because we first loved him.  All too often we get it backwards.  Being loved always has to come first, otherwise we have no genuine love to offer others—only our desperate need to be loved.
  
Which begs the question: Do I love God because I have first been seized by the power of his Great Affection?  Do I love him because I am should, or do I love him because I do?  Is his love the driving force behind my life?  Is is—as J. B. Phillips once beautifully said—the “springboard of all my actions?”  Is his love the reason for my obedience?  Is his love the motivation for my service?  Is it the fuel for my ministry? 
   
We cannot start with loving God; we must start with being loved by God.  Until we begin to understand how deeply we are loved, we will never be able to love God in the way—and with the passion—he desires to be loved.  And we can never love others in a free, unconditional way.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

free

free
lord jesus
you make us free

free to love
rather than control or manipulate
free to give
rather than desperately grab
free to accept
rather than judge, mock, or criticize
free to let go
rather than hang on for dear life
free to be my true self
rather than some manufactured
or fabricated version
free to offer compassion
rather than compete for affection

ah free
what a great word


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

lay down your life

The laying down of a life (1 John 3:16) is a tall order; one that I’m not sure can be accomplished by grit and determination.  Because the laying down of a life—at least the laying down of it as Jesus calls us to—is not a one-time event, but a perpetual lifestyle.  I can’t consistently choose you over me on a regular basis; I need Divine assistance.  Only when I make this realization is it possible to make consistent progress in the direction of self-sacrifice.  I cannot make myself like Jesus, no matter how hard I try.  Only Jesus can make me like Jesus.  I must simply surrender myself to him and put myself in his hands.  He is my only hope of ever really living a life of laying down my life.  Which, in wild irony, is the only way to become my true self (by abandoning myself altogether).  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.

O Jesus, I am so terrible at laying down my life.  It runs so against my nature.  Yet that is what you call me to.  Teach me to love like you.  Give me your heart.  Make your heart, my heart.  Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

write me

O God
every day
and in every moment
you are writing
a beautiful story

give me the grace
and the patience
to let that story unfold
and not try to force
or manipulate it

help me
to not get in the way
and to not get in a hurry
but to wait on you

for only you
can tell me
my true place
in your grand design

my story is yours
O God
write me


Saturday, May 5, 2018

give

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge your harvest of righteousness.  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)

Giving is a little bit tricky.  Because, in reality, we can only give what we have been given.  If the sower is not given the seed in the first place, then he has nothing of value to sow in the fields (and the lives) to which he has been given.  Luckily, we are given the promise that if we are open and attentive to receiving it, there is One who is able and willing to supply, and even increase, this seed.

The problem is that, oftentimes, we try so hard to give that which we do not possess.  And when we do this, abundance simply will not happen.  We cannot produce abundance (an enlarged harvest of righteousness) on our own, no matter how hard we try.  We can only give--fully and freely--that which we have been given.  So it seems kind of important that we know exactly what that is.  For this seed wasn't given to us to hoard for ourselves, but to be scattered abroad in the fields of this world, that it might produce a harvest of righteousness.

O Lord, help me to learn to give fully and freely that which I have to give, and to stop trying so hard to give that which I don't.