Friday, April 24, 2015

What is love?

God is love (1 John 4:8). So love is knowing God. Love is a spiritual concept we can continually move closer to but because it is spiritual, we have really limiting ideas of what it really encompasses. Being bilingual I now realize that the English language really limits the concept of love. Most languages have multiple words for love because it is so difficult to capture its true expression in one word. It's like trying to sum up God in one word. The Greeks had 6 words for love and I know at least 3 of them are used in the scriptures. You see, as you read your Bible in English, you read love, love, and love; but in the Greek it might be eros, agape, and philia with a big difference in meaning. 

The Scriptures do set examples for us of what love should look like so that we might know it. Like John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  And we know from Paul and his letter to the Corinthians, or 1 John 3, that love is a verb, love requires action, love sacrifices, and love prefers others. “How do we know what love is?

 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

Love is primarily giving, not receiving. Love is in uniting. The opposite of love is separation and selfishness. When sin first entered us Adam defends himself by blaming Eve, a selfish act of separation. Love is the ability to overcome separation – to find “at-one-(mo)ment”. Love is no longer being separated from the Creator but experiencing that through Jesus, “God reconciled everything to himself.” (Col. 1:20)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Stop being a COWARD! (Cincinnati Invite)

Yeah bro, I’m talking to you (actually I’m talking to myself and letting you eavesdrop.) For the last 6 months, myself and about 4 other guys have been meeting every Monday at a local “watering hole” in Clifton. The purpose of the gatherings is to study some life changing books and also trying to serve the homeless in our area. We are about to start a new book on Monday Feb. 16th and I got to be honest; I’m as scared as I’m excited. I think it is going to be the hardest book yet for the group, but especially me.

The book is brand new from one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller. The title is Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy. It’s my understanding in this book, Miller has had enough of failed relationships and the painful drama that has basically come from his fear of being his TRUE SELF. Because of this fear he has found it impossible to build deep meaningful relationships. So at forty years old he made a scary decision: to be himself no matter what it cost. And now this book and the group, are going to challenge me to do the same.

In our group we have often talked about how, in our experience, there was a lack of transparency and authenticity in the traditional church. In fact, the group is predominately made up of spiritually hungry dudes that are more or less dechurched, or unchurched, or done with church. Whatever you want to call it.

If you are interested in taking a risk that involves choosing to impress fewer people and connect with more …interested in the freedom that comes when we stop acting and start loving….interested in knocking down old walls to create a healthy mind, a strong family, and a satisfying career. Interested in hanging with some dudes who are authentically interested in you becoming the best version of you possible, without any strings attached, then we’d welcome you. Shoot me a message. Click the book cover above to go directly to Amazon to pick up a copy.

I will be posting blog post along the way about my journey with this book.

Twitter: @GrapplersChurch  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Identifying with "the Others"

You have no idea how broken I really am! Seriously! No one knows. I'm really good at keeping secrets and keeping closed off. I once had a "shrink" look at me and say "My God what happened to you to make you this way?" She accused me of having built a wall around my heart. She was right.

The last few years God has started associating me with people who are inspiring me to come out of this coffin I've built. I am seeing how important community and transparency are in this Spiritual life. I'm trying not to be so introverted and trying to give myself to a community. I'm actually letting people in on secrets or even things I deem "none of their damn business". It's actually refreshing. I feel lighter and more connected. Of course, these are people who have earned that right and don't disqualify me when discovering my shortcomings. In fact, they encourage me and allow God to empower me in those areas. It feels incredible to start peeling these masks off.

Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

But maybe like you, I have some things no one will ever know. There are some things my wife will know but my best friends won't. There are some things, especially thoughts I've had, I don't believe I will ever tell another soul. No one can ever know. But He knows.

You see God knows all those things. Even when you see how well things are going for me or catch me on a really spiritually good day, he knows who I am. He knows what I've done; what I've thought. And even while I was His enemy, he displayed the most unfathomable sacrifice merely to demonstrate His love for me. It's up to me how I want to react to what He did.

See, you have no idea the mercy and grace that was shown to me cause I've never told anyone all of it. The drugs, the violence, the perversion, the bad decisions, the selfishness and the thoughts... my Lord, where did some of those thoughts come from? My debt was monstrous, and yet he paid it. Maybe you were a decent person. I wasn't. So maybe you can't understand why I feel I owe my life to Him. Maybe you don't understand my radicalism because you don't understand the amount of mercy given to me. There was a lot of sin and now there is even more grace.
God's law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God's wonderful grace became more abundant.
You ever went to correct a child or discipline them and then remembered how "bad" you were as a kid or something you had done worse? Puts the brakes on your wrath a little, huh? Well it should. (Matthew 18:22-35). So maybe it's my fault so many in the church can't understand why I go where I go and hang with who I hang. Maybe it's cause I've kept a secret of how much grace was really bestowed upon me. Maybe every time I feel like coming down on one of these "sinners" I remember the debt I carried and was paid for me.

Then again, maybe one day, you will know all I've done. I've had ministers in the past describe a judgement day to me where everything I've done will be projected on the universes biggest film screen for all to see, and then I will answer to God in front of everyone. But then...just before the film rolls...

... I will wait for all of those who can't understand me to use their theology, their Scriptures, their worldview to jump to their feet and scream, "He loved "the others" to much! He showed too much compassion! He was too merciful! Those people he served were the enemies of God."

And with the final credits, maybe you will see, I was just as broken as all of them.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Place to Find FREE Christian Kindle Books!

Click the picture below and find the Christian books you should be reading in 2015. Get them for your tablet, computer, or smartphone!