Archives For Love

Reading Christine Caine’s latest book, “Unexpected”, I was struck by the following phrase: “We cannot shrink back in fear and go forward in faith at the same time.” This is a truth we might know on an intellectual level, but we do not live it out well. So much of what we could do for Christ is hindered because of our fear. We’re afraid to move forward, afraid to look like a fool, afraid to be judged, afraid to lose our stuff, and at times even afraid for our physical well-being.

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Some of these fears are rational, but most are not. Ultimately none of them make sense because Jesus is bigger than all our fears. He has defeated the enemy and every evil which could come against us. Jesus is love, and He fully demonstrated this on the cross. Love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). It cannot coexist. When we trust fully in Jesus, we will know no fear.

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If you’re like me, you probably struggle to not take for granted the significance of having the Spirit of God dwelling within You. This is an awesome and all but unfathomable truth. It’s too big to grasp all at once, so it’s been helpful for me to look at a single piece of this truth at a time. One of those pieces is to realize our hearts burn with the same passion in which Jesus’s heart burns. As much as He loves us, such is the capacity we have to love others.

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It becomes sobering when we contemplate how little of this great love we are sharing with and showing to others. As followers and disciples of Jesus, I believe it is our duty to maximize the gifts He has given us for the purpose of building His Kingdom here on earth. As we begin to understand the immense power available to us, we, in turn, begin to realize how little of it we are employing.

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Today is a gift, but one most of us never discover. We use it, but rarely take notice of it. It comes and it goes, and our life passes by along the way. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “The day was God’s first creation, something miraculous and mighty in the hand of God. For us the day has completely lost its creaturely and wondrous nature.

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We use it—and abuse it—but we don’t accept it as a gift. We don’t live it.” None of us knows how many days will be gifted to us. Some will have more than others, but we never know until they’ve all been counted. At that point, it’s too late to matter.

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I am perturbed by the current state of Christianity. We have succumbed to a mediocre faith of few requirements and a perception of even fewer consequences. As usual, A.W. Tozer says it perfectly: “Faith now means no more than passive moral acquiescence in the Word of God and the cross of Jesus. To exercise it we have only to rest on one knee and nod our heads in agreement with the instructions of a personal worker intent upon saving our soul.”

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I’m not certain how we got here but it’s not what Jesus had in mind when He was being tortured and crucified on our behalf. Jesus’s faith in the Father cost Him everything. It caused Him to lead a difficult life and die a gruesome death. His was not a faith of mediocrity or passive moral acquiescence to the standards of His Father.

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Christine Caine wrote, “For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2) For the joy set before Him . . . that’s us! When Jesus was on the cross, the joy that kept Him going—the passion that fueled His endurance of pain—was knowing the freedom His death, burial, and resurrection would produce in our lives.” That’s so beautiful.

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What kind of love is this God has for us? He has always been thinking of you. When He came to earth as a baby, He was thinking of you. When Jesus walked the dusty streets during His ministry, He was thinking of you. And when He hung on that gruesome and horrifying cross, Jesus was thinking about you.

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Christians these days seem to bend over backward to make certain they never offend anyone. We want to appear as being tolerant of all things and all people. This isn’t the way Jesus lived. He loved all people, but He never minced words when it came to calling out whoever or whatever stood in opposition to the character and holiness of God. I like how A.W. Tozer put it: “This generation of Christians must hear again the doctrine of the perturbing quality of faith.”

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The gospel of Jesus should perturb people.  It’s a call to a radically different life and lifestyle. It’ not okay when people flaunt their sin in the presence of God. It’s not okay when we kill in the name of Jesus. And it’s never acceptable to condone the sinful deeds of ourselves or anyone else. Leading with love, we need to not follow with tolerance but rather with perturbance. We need to live out our perturbing faith.

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I am hesitant to write this because I am paranoid and convinced (is that possible?) people will take this in a manner I do not intend. Still, the message is heavy on my heart, so I’ll ask you to please read this in the spirit it is intended, which is to further the Kingdom of Christ. It is not my intention to demean the laudable actions of others or to criticize any particular ministry. With the disclaimers out of the way, let’s begin.

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This past weekend I had the thrill and sorrow of attending a concert with about 10,000 other Christians. The love and ministry of the band were evident throughout the couple hours they played. It was an uplifting experience that encouraged and challenged me, and from which I took several action items. One of them was to write this article.

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What is Your Purpose? Christine Caine answered this question when she wrote, “The purpose of our time on earth is to learn to walk with Him, abide with Him, and live through Him – and then share that light with others.” How comforting and refreshing. It takes all the pressure off us. We can let go of everything we were striving to be. We can stop working so hard for all those things we were trying to accomplish. The competition suddenly got a whole lot lighter.

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Our five and ten-year plans just went out the window. But that’s a good thing because odds are we weren’t going to hit them anyway. As humans, we have a terrible tendency of overestimating what we can do in the long term and underestimating what we can accomplish in the next couple of hours.

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Long-time readers know Easter is one of the few times of the year I write something time-specific. My hope has always been the articles on this web site will live for years outside of any context, but be helpful to someone whenever they might come across it. Easter is special. It’s my favorite day of the year. It’s the most important day in history. Christmas may have brought God to earth in the form of a man, but it’s Easter which proved He was indeed God and provided the only way to an eternity of peace and joy in the presence of God.

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As I write this, Easter is almost a month away; when this post first publishes, Easter will have been yesterday. But the feelings I have about Easter are already about to burst from within. Truly it is good to remember at any time Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed!

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G.K. Chesterton said, “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” Wow. How often do we think of our relationship with Christ as a love affair? It is troubling in my own life to recognize I’ve got a significant way to go in this regard. I love Him. I’m in awe of Him. I’m thankful for His mercy, provision, and protection. But do I possess the kind of white-hot, unstoppable love we associate with a love affair? Do I wake each morning unable to contain my excitement to see and spend time with Him?

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Do I put off going to bed because it means less time spent in His presence? I’d love to be the guy who could answer in the affirmative to these questions, but I’m not. I want to be. In fact, it gets me excited even as I write these words. I want to love God with the love of a love affair, not of some dutiful worshipper.

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