Marriage Series #3: The Glue

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In part two of this series I wrote about two people joining together to become one new person. In this post we will look at what keeps the two together as one. Whenever you place two objects together you have to have some kind of adhesive to make sure they stay together. We aren’t talking about Velcro, tape, or superglue though. In order to keep two people together as one, we need something far more powerful.

Have you ever tried fastening two objects together with the wrong substance? You’d never use duct tape for water pipes. Or wood glue for metal parts. You wouldn’t try to solder two plastic items together. Only the right adhesive will work. Use the wrong stuff and over time the objects will fall apart. Sometimes this happens quickly, but others, over a long period of time. When binding two people together, its no different.

So what is the correct way to bond the married couple as one? Most mainstream magazines would argue that it’s love. This, of course, depends on what definition of love you’re talking about. The so called emotion of love is an awful binding agent. Feelings come and go as we all know. Unfortunately this is the definition of love that most in the world operate with. That’s why we hear people say that they “fell out of love” and that’s why they are separating. What they are really saying is that the warm and fuzzy emotions aren’t there any more and they want to go search for them in someone or something else.

Another response that some might give to what keeps people together is commitment. But that warrants the question: commitment to what? I’ve known people that have stayed ‘together’ for decades but their marriage was a wreck and they simply lived together and tolerated one another. I’ve also seen people so committed to their spouse that they change to become whatever their spouse wants them to be, even if that is so far from who God called them to be. Does that sound like God’s design? Not even close.

Love and commitment are huge! Bigger than huge! I don’t even know what word would adequately depict just how huge they are. But they have to be centered on the right thing. We must be committed, not to the institution of marriage, but to the ones involved in the  marriage. Before you think that I can’t do math or that I put a typo in there. The ‘ones’ that I’m referring to are your spouse and the third person in the covenant relation: God. We also have to love both our spouse and God but not in the way that the world generally defines love (more on that further down).

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV) [my emphasis]

This passage obviously speaks about more than just a marriage but it is also meant to explain a covenant relationship between two people and the third strand: God. Whenever two people enter into a marriage they aren’t just making vows to each other, but also to God. A married couple becomes a threefold cord which are three parts laced together to make stronger. It’s not three parts side by side taped together. The three parts are literally overlapping and intertwined. In other words, they are meant to be inseparable. Take one strand out of the cord and it quickly unravels.

Many couples around the world view their marriage as a union of two people. God is often discarded, or not even recognized from the beginning. If that is the case, then it’s not a marriage according to God’s original design. God included himself in the equation and we cannot afford to write Him out. He is the adhesive. He is the ultimate superglue that binds us to our spouse.

He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV) [my emphasis]

God joined you to your spouse, therefore He holds you together. We have to be committed to Him, and His commands, and His guidance. We serve Him and love Him first, and from that comes our love and service to our spouse. It’s in the pursuit of God that our marriage is enriched and our love becomes genuine. It’s in the pursuit of God that our lives are changed so that we can be the person that our spouse deserves. What does that look like? We need to go to God before we go to our spouse. We should be praying before we bring things to our spouse. We should be self reflecting through time with God before we dare to point a finger of blame. We need to make sure we are treating our spouse like they are a child and treasure of God. We need to speak to and treat our spouse like we would speak to or treat God himself. We need to be faithful to our spouse like we would be faithful to God. We need to be spending time with God in prayer and bible study with our spouse.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

Most people have seen this passage quoted. A lot of people even put it on marriage invitations or wedding glasses or fancy signs to hang in their homes. But how often does our love for our spouse really reflect the words in these verses? There is nothing in here about warm and fuzzy emotions. Love is the way we choose to treat our spouse. Love is a way of life. Love is selfless and giving. Love focuses on others and how we can benefit them. A marriage full of this love, which is only possible through a life lived through and for God, will hold together. This isn’t worldly love. This is Christian love. This is God infused and Holy Spirit empowered love. If we want to love our spouse as we should then we need the third part of the threefold cord. When we do, our marriage will be strong and it will endure.

Follow Up: Use these questions for your own self reflection or to have a deep discussion with your beloved.

1- What do you do with your spouse that includes God and is about God? (i.e. prayer, bible study, worship, serving others, etc…)

2- Do you ever pray before bringing something up to your spouse or while in the middle of a disagreement?

3- How often have you covered your spouse in prayer?

4- Do you view your spouse as a child and treasure of God?

5- Does your approach to loving your spouse reflect the words in 1 Corinthians 13? What areas do you need the Lord to change you in order to love them better?

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Selective Love

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“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.  And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:27-36 (ESV)

For nearly a two year period, my wife and I had the tremendous honor to be welcomed into a small sphere of the local homeless population where we live. We were not homeless ourselves which made this experience even more meaningful. For the first five or six months it wasn’t an easy undertaking but it was incredible. We met so many new people and heard exciting and heart breaking stories. But we noticed that many of the church fold coming down to help were not responding in the same way. In fact, some of the comments we heard from the Christian servants there were so sad. The three that stood out the most were:

“This just isn’t my thing.”

“I don’t feel called to this.”

“I can’t serve people who aren’t grateful for it.”

The people who made comments like these came and went. For some of them I’m sure they came in the first place to quill some guilt in their hearts or check off another ‘to-do’ item on their Christian servant list. If these weren’t bad enough, we even received warnings from people who told us to think twice about helping the homeless because they could have a bad influence on us.

Over the next several months we went to their camp where we’d eat food, talk about Jesus, and have conversation. I would like to tell you that they all dedicated their lives to Christ and turned their lives around, but that isn’t how it played out. There were many tears shed and there was repentance and lots of prayer, but all but two of those men and women remained on the streets. So the question becomes, is it worth it? Was it a waste of time?

I believe most people would look at that and say that those of us who served threw away those two years. And that is the attitude that I think Jesus is addressing in our focus passage for chapter five. There is something in the fallen human condition that functions on the principle if reciprocity.

Reciprocity is defined as, “the quality or state of being reciprocal:  mutual dependence, action, or influence: a mutual exchange of privileges.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Reciprocity is the enemy of true love. Many relationships die out of self-pity due to one party believing they’re giving more than the other and not receiving back what they think is owed to them. For our service and love to be sincere, we must eradicate any presence of self-entitlement. No relationship can flourish with a ‘what can I get out of this’ mentality. For us to serve and love how Christ called us to means we have to first break the cycle of reciprocity in our lives.

In Luke chapter 6, Jesus is basically saying that if your love is based on return than you’re no different from anyone else. You don’t have to be a believer in Jesus to love but the kind of love that He calls us to is way beyond how worldly love operates. Christians and non-Christians alike, love those whom they receive love from, but Jesus says there’s more…a whole lot more…to love than that. Jesus actually says our love isn’t genuine until we can love the following:

  1. Our Enemies (verse 27)
  2. Those who hate us (verse 27)
  3. Those who curse us (verse 28)
  4. Those who abuse us (verse 28)
  5. Those who strike us (verse 29)
  6. Those who exploit and steal from us (verses 29 and 30)
  7. Those in need who can’t repay (verse 30)

Love is the key marker for how Christ’s followers stand out from the crowds. For our love to stand out it must be as obvious a contrast as light is from darkness. God’s grace would not be exceptional if it was only for those who were great and lovable. God’s grace becomes amazing when we realize He loves us even though the best of us are wretched sinners. If we are going to stand out and bring glory to God’s name by how we live, we cannot be selective in who we love.

For  more, come check out the book!

Peace and Blessings in Christ!

Marriage Series #2: One not Two

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This is the second post in a five part series on marriage. In the last post I talked about how we need to view our purpose in getting married. This post is more focused on what happens to people when they do “tie the knot” as the old adage goes.

I think that a lot of conflict in marriage results from having a two person mentality. What I mean by that is that we still view a marriage as two people in a relationship with one another. Isn’t that what it is? Not exactly. I’m going to try and use a rough illustration so bear with me please. Lets pretend that the lovely couple getting married are two companies (weird I know). Many people look at marriage as though the two companies are signing a contract to work together on a joint venture. Contracts are mutual agreements and if one party doesn’t hold up their end of the deal, the contract is off. Two companies that write up contracts to work together remain two companies with separate identities. However, marriage isn’t meant to work like that. God designed marriage to be a merger. In a business merger, two companies see the advantage to joining forces and instead of signing a contract, they unite into one new company. Usually one company will take on the name of the other. I think you probably see the parallel I’m trying to draw.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 (NIV) [my emphasis]

I know, I know, many people have taken this to mean that husbands and wives are to consummate their union through physical means. I’m not about to argue that it doesn’t mean that. I’m just saying that, like with the rest of scripture, there is far deeper implications than the surface level. When you get married, you are uniting with your spouse into one new entity just as the merging companies did in the illustration. As a result, you and your spouse are now meant to be joined in purpose and direction. Imagine if two merging companies decided on a different purpose and direction and pursued them. The new company would disintegrate pretty rapidly. There would be plenty of internal squabbling and unrest until they finally reached the point of “irreconcilable differences.” On the other hand, merged companies with a united purpose and direction will operate much more smoothly and be able to resolve differences in order to achieve the desired outcome.

This is an incredibly difficult concept to grasp, mainly because you are still you when you get married and your spouse is still your spouse. You don’t actually become one person physically. To operate as one, while not physically being one, is the essence of the marriage union. Success in this area requires extreme intimacy and openness. When communication breaks down, so does the system. There also has to be a high level of servant hood on the part of both members. A unique challenge to marriage is that two people, with two sets of dreams, two sets of talents, and two backgrounds, are now trying to coexist as one.  To overcome this challenge each person needs to commit to forming a new dream that they can help one another in achieving together. Each person also has to use their talents to compliment the other’s. That means we have to admit we aren’t perfect and the strengths of our spouse can help us overcome in areas of weakness. Each person should also commit to the new life they have begun together and only draw off of background experiences that can nourish their relationship. All of that is far easier said than done, I know.

Some may fail at this because they want to be the bigger company that their spouse is merging into. They place demands and expectations on their loved one rather than seeking to meet them half way. They place priority on their dreams, refusing to change course, while not even stopping to think if its God’s design for their life or consulting their spouse. They continue pursuing a life with, yet separate from, their partner. Over time their lives drift in different directions and resentment bubbles under the surface.

When we get married we have to realize that our spouse becomes as much of us as we are of ourselves. I hope that made sense. We have to embrace an entirely new outlook on our future because it is now inextricably linked with another. Jesus tells us that a house divided against itself cannot stand. When two people get married, they become one new house, one new person, with a direction that is meant to be unified. A couple that is joined in purpose and direction can endure, even the most difficult of times.

No matter where you are in your relationship, Jesus can be the captain of your course correction. He is our healer so there is no marriage that is too fractured. Jesus also has to be the unified vision of our marriage. Pursuing Him brings us together in a real and very spiritually deep way (More on that in a later post). If you’re not married, this is a great time to consider what it will mean for you if you make that commitment some day in the future. You’ll be saying goodbye to yourself and hello to the new you that is joined with the love of you life. That’s pretty awesome.

Follow Up: These are great things to ponder on your own or use to talk with your loved one. Blessings!

1- Have you been pursuing your own dreams, possibly at the expense of your spouse?

2- Do you have a unified vision as a couple that you help one another to reach?

3- Is your ‘house’ divided in any way? If so, what part can you take to bring unity?

4- What talents does your spouse have that compliments you and helps the marriage to thrive? What do you bring to the table?

5- Are you pursuing Jesus as a couple?

Truth vs. Tradition

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Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

Matthew 15:1-9 (ESV)

We all have traditions whether they be cultural, national, family, or even personal. Traditions are generally passed down to us from those who have gone before us. I would even argue that many of the origins of our traditions are not even known by many of those practicing them. Does that matter? Well, I happen to think it does and I know I’m not alone.

Traditions generally seem harmless and often center on some sort of celebrations. Family and personal traditions are far less likely to have drifted far from their original purpose and meaning, but how about cultural and national ones? Do you know why we have candles on birthday cakes or a best man in a wedding ceremony? The candles originated from the ancient Greeks as a sign of sacrifice and dedication to Artemis, goddess of the moon. The Best Man position dates back centuries to when a marriage was more of a financial arrangement. He was considered the Groom’s best swordsman and his job was to prevent anything or anyone from interjecting in the ceremony. Of course, many cultures have adapted these practices, and many others, to new meanings. I would even venture to predict that the majority of cultural and national traditions held today have ancient roots that are either sinister or revolve around the worship of a false deity.

I know what some people who read this are already thinking. So what? Who cares where traditions come from? I am not saying that you shouldn’t light up pretty candles for your child’s birthday cake because thousands of years ago ancient Greeks worshiped a false deity with the same practice. Nor do I want to dissect our way of life and call us to abandon it all. What I am saying is that it’s not a bad idea to know where our traditions come from, most importantly, when it comes to the traditions within our Christian life of worship. Traditions for fun are one thing. Traditions for worship are a whole other world. The ‘new’ information I alluded to at the beginning of this chapter revolved around that exact topic…ways we worship and honor God.

Holiday: Old English hāligdæg, translated ‘holy day’.

 New Oxford American Dictionary

Many of our nation’s traditions are highly laden with pagan and spiritual undertones that were designed at worshiping false gods thousands of years ago. Our two most beloved holidays are no exception. This may be a shock but Christmas and Easter are both riddled with paganism. I’m not talking about how they’ve been polluted over time, but rather they originated as pagan rituals. That was a very hard discovery for me to make. For most of my life my year revolved around Christmas, Easter, and my birthday. No one was a bigger fan of those days than me. But when the veil was removed from my eyes about where those days came from, I was wrecked. This post isn’t a place to reveal the many proofs behind what i’m saying. Chapter four of my book goes into a lot of detail on the subject. I’m sure that you may have even been exposed to some of the information already. Just to give you an idea though, nearly ever single tradition connected to the two days were designed to admonish a false god in the past. Yikes!

So why do I make a point in telling you all of this? For one reason: Jesus is a big deal. He’s the biggest deal, and worshipping Him is never a light or unimportant matter. Neither are His commands. In verse three of Matthew 15, Jesus presents two waring objects: the commands of God and the traditions of men. Keep in mind, the Pharisees and Scribes whom He’s addressing were the religious people of the day in Israel. They were the ones who believed that they worshipped God properly and were the most knowledgeable about God’s written word to date. The scribe’s main job was to write and rewrite the Torah and other scrolls over and over. So you better believe they knew what it said. For us today, we could easily, and rightly should, put those who proclaim allegiance to Christ in the same figurative boat with the Pharisees and Scribes of old. What I mean is, Christians claim they worship the one true God correctly as did the Pharisees and Scribes. So by default, when Christian tradition is adverse to Jesus and His commands, it is opposed to everything our life is meant to be about as Christians.

Any time our traditions come under fire we can easily feel insulted or accused even. However, the idea for every person who confesses Christ, is to live a life of worship and praise to His glory. Right? Sometimes that means taking a good hard look at our most cherished traditions. So why am I picking on tradition so much? Well, perhaps it’s because it so often distracts us from the pure worship of God. Traditions are man-made, usually with the purpose of making us comfortable in the pursuit of God. Traditions have also been used by a small minority to have a sense of control over the masses.

Churches have been inundated by false man-made traditions and teachings. For example, in some churches you can’t take part in communion unless you are a member of their church. Some places hold to the teaching that you have to confess to a priest and he can absolve you of your sins. Some people actually believe, and teach, that if you’re not speaking in tongues you’re not saved. Traditions are empty in comparison to the life God has called us to live, and most dangerous of all, traditions can contradict the word of God. Scary!

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

John 4:23-24 (ESV)

Man-made doctrines and traditions of worship are vanity. God doesn’t say to worship me as you please but worship me in Spirit and in truth.  This is the truth of the bible, not of churches, or of human tradition, or of worldly knowledge. If we are not careful or watchful we can easily be taken captive to empty traditions and false teachings and practices that tickle our fancy and play to our desires and comforts.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirit of the world, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 2:8 (ESV)

 

Marriage Series #1: I married you why?

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This is the first post in a five part series on marriage that I’ll be sharing over the next several weeks. For our first post I thought it best to start from the beginning and talk about how people approach the marriage relationship. Most people ponder the day they’ll meet Mr. or Mrs. right at some point while growing up. They imagine the day they’ll walk the isle and their dreams will come true and they’ll have that happily ever after fairy tale story that Disney and so many others have filled our imaginations with. But then they get married and they see just how different it actually is. They wonder then if they chose the wrong person. They ask themselves what went wrong. And sadly, so many decide that they just can’t continue any longer. That’s the bleak reality, and unfortunately, it probably hits home with a lot of those reading this post. Statistically speaking, most people in the United States have experienced divorce either first hand or second hand. I believe that to be the case due to the fact that the view of marriage is all wrong from day one. The faulty view in itself, sets us up for one bumpy ride!

If someone were to ask you why you got married, or wanted to get married, what would you say? The romanticized version would probably be that you fell in love and wanted to spend the rest of your life with that special someone. Am I close? Whatever the response I’m willing to bet that it had something to do with feelings of love and not wanting to be apart from them. We like the way we feel when we are in love and most people don’t like to be alone all of the time. We are relational beings. It’s how God designed us. So it is good to want to be with someone. It is good to want to be loved and valued. We are designed that way too. But neither of those should be the reason for getting married.

Most people begin a marriage with a self-centered point of view. Meaning, they want to get married so that they won’t be alone, or so they can be loved by someone, or so they can feel valued and wanted. Some people may get married because they want kids. Some people get married because it’s an expectation of them by parents or society. In all of these instances, marriage is all about them. Whether we admit it or not, we enter marriage with a “what can I get out of this” mentality. Put two people together with a self seeking approach to marriage and you no longer have to wonder why the divorce rate is so high.

I remember watching my bride walk down the isle on our wedding day thinking, “wow, I can’t believe she is going to be my wife!” Her beauty captivated me and her heart was as big as the sun and warmed my very soul. I was the luckiest man in the world. I’m sure most people felt similar feelings on their wedding day. But I was looking at things all wrong. She is extremely gorgeous and she has an amazing heart, but instead of being enthralled with having her as my wife, I should have been thinking about how awesome of a privilege it was going to be to take care of her for the rest of my life. It’s great to admire her qualities and feel blessed to have her, but I should’ve wanted to marry her because I wanted to help her become everything that God created her to be by encouraging her and serving her. I should’ve wanted to marry her so that I could show her Christ’s love in how I related to her. I would love to say that all of those things were running through my mind when I decided to ask her the big question, but that wouldn’t be honest.

There is nothing selfish about marriage. At least that’s how God intended it. Here are just a few verses that depict that:

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Ephesians 5:22-31 (NIV)

The best way for a marriage to thrive is for each person in the relationship to view it as an opportunity to make life easier and better for the other. Instead of looking at our spouse as a means to our end, we need to view ourselves as a vehicle for love and nourishment in their lives. Instead of pondering what we want out of our spouse, we need to think about what they need from us. Getting married is not about your spouse giving themselves to you, it’s about you giving yourself to them. A wife has to die to self in order to submit to the godly leadership of her husband. A husband must die to self to lead through servant hood and sacrifice.

Imagine how families and culture would change around the world if people were making the marriage commitment in order to further the gospel of Christ. Imagine how things would change if people were giving themselves in marriage rather than taking others in marriage. Imagine if the words “I do” meant that I will love and serve you till the end. Imagine if the words “I do” meant that I do lay down my life here and now for you. Imagine if people didn’t get married to fill a perceived need of their own but as an opportunity to fill the needs of another.

For those of us who are already married, it’s never to late to change gears. Even if we didn’t start from a place of selflessness, we can live the rest of our lives that way. That hardest part about all of it is, our spouse may not be selfless too. But, that doesn’t matter. After all, Christ didn’t come to serve us and give his life for us because we were such amazing people who served him. It was quite the opposite. Jesus is our example, our spouse isn’t. And the only way a selfish spouse will ever change is by seeing your selflessness and only if that selflessness is genuine. We can’t serve in order to manipulate our spouse into doing the same. That’s selfishness and deceitfulness. Yikes! We love them because Christ first loved us and because it’s how God designed marriage to be. We want others experience the love of Jesus. Who more than our spouse?

If you’re not yet married, then you have a huge advantage. You get the opportunity to walk into marriage with the right mentality and the right heart. You get to have an even greater impact on your spouse! How cool for you and how unique you’ll be.

Follow up: These are for you to ponder and, if you want, use as a way to start a discussion with your spouse.

1-How am I serving my spouse currently? How could I serve them more.

2-What unfair expectations have I placed on my spouse?

3-Am I seeking fulfillment in any way from my spouse?

4-How can I make life better for my spouse?

5-Am I loving my spouse like Jesus loves me?

Follow the Leader

31Wci55k5UL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

                                                                        -Luke 6:46-49 (ESV)

We can all be inspired by stories, movies, music, etc…but inspiration can fade. We can be moved to tears or even moved to action, but inspiration rarely lasts. Think of a movie, book, or testimony that inspired you. Think of one that emotionally moved you. Now think about how many of those are still affecting how you live your life today in a big way. I’m willing to bet, not many. The reason why is that inspiration is mostly surface deep, unless it gives way to being captivated. Chapter three of the book draws out the comparisons between inspiration and captivation and how that defines how we relate to people and things in our lives.

The question that Jesus poses in verse 46 of Luke chapter 6, is not one that suggests a lack of inspiration on behalf of the audience He’s addressing. Look no further than the title prescribed to Jesus by His audience. They called Him Lord, and that was not a title to be taken lightly. We give lordship to things or people that captivate us. Whether it’s an addiction, a near and dear possession, or a relationship, we place priority and power in the hands of that which has stolen our hearts. Giving lordship to anything other than Jesus is summed up by saying we prefer the flesh over the Spirit. And anything and anyone who takes preference over Him has more authority in our lives than He does.

By nature, humans gravitate towards submission. Sound crazy? Think about it. We either submit ourselves to our own selfish desires, to cultural norms, to a relationship, to money, to fame, or we submit ourselves to Christ. No matter the choice we make, it’s a choice of submission. We submit to holiness or worldliness. Romans chapter six describes it as either being a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness.

The title of Christian means to be of Christ or to follow Christ. In all actuality, this is a title that is demonstrated by a person’s life, not given to them by someone else or even by themselves. This isn’t about the age old debate of faith-based vs. works-based salvation. It’s not really a debate though. The bible never says that a person in saved by works. It does say all throughout that faith is what saves us. As a result of our faith we are driven into a deeper pursuit of Christ. That’s where the works play themselves out. Has anyone ever told you to love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life? It’s the same with following Jesus. We love Him and love following Him so it ceases to be about doing work and is more like doing what we love for Who we love. Christ becomes Lord and leader of our life. Our life then becomes about following The Leader.

Follow Him because He is a way better leader than we could ever be.

Peace and blessings in Christ!

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 

Finding Faith

31Wci55k5UL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

-Mark 4:35-41 (ESV)

Faith has become somewhat of an obscure word. If you were to ask ten people what it means, you may get nearly ten varying answers as to what the specifics of the word are. Even so, one common thread that you may see in those responses is the notion of trust. Another key element to defining faith has to be belief. In fact, belief must precede trust for this system of faith to work itself out. A third partner in the faith family is often the most forgotten. That element is action. Faith is one of the most important aspects of human life. Because it’s so important, we need desperately to know what it means. Chapter two of the book takes a deep look at the meaning of the word faith from multiple sources and how it plays out in the people of the bible as well as our own lives.

How we meet circumstances in life will depend on who we believe Jesus to be and whether we believe He cares for us or not. Have you ever uttered variations of these statements:

“God has bigger things to worry about than what I’m dealing with.”

“Why should God help me through this?”

“Where was God when  __(fill in the blank)__ happened?”

I read a blog post one time that said (my paraphrase) that doubt is what leads us to God and that we should embrace our doubt. It went on to propose that our doubt deepens our relationship with Christ. I had to read and reread their statements a few times because I thought that I might have made a mistake because these statements couldn’t be further from the truth. Doubt is the exact 180 degree opposite of faith. Doubt is the result of disavowing the Lordship of Christ. Doubt says that Christ is powerless and indifferent. Doubt drives us deeper into our own insecurities and further from the freedom that an intimate relationship with Jesus produces. Doubt cripples and paralyzes while faith heals and moves us.

Not only do we need faith that Christ is with us in all circumstances, we also need to believe and trust in His caring nature towards us. To find assurance of that we need not look beyond the cross, where Christ’s great love for humanity was at its greatest. We have an amazing savior who loves us way more than we can imagine and more than we ever give Him credit for. That truth was not yet fully realized by His disciples as they crossed the sea with Him. And perhaps His love hasn’t been fully realized by so many of us today.

You need not every doubt Jesus’ goodness towards you.

Peace and blessings to you all in Christ Jesus our Lord

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

-Romans 5:6-8 (ESV)