Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Believe

I believe because I cannot not believe. I cannot doubt the wind when it blows upon my face and whispers through the leaves of the trees. I cannot doubt the sun when its light hits my eyes and its warmth touches my skin anymore than I can doubt the water that surrounds me when I plunge into the ocean. I cannot doubt the God that moves within me anymore than I can doubt the existence of love, truth and beauty. God speaks. He shouts, he bellows, he whispers into the deepest crevices of my soul where no other sound can be heard and reaches down into the most inaccessible and inhospitable spaces of my heart where no one else desires to go.

I see God in the sunset. I feel God in every drop of rain that falls from heaven and waters the earth causing life to spring forth from what was once only dry ground. I hear God in the morning chirping of the birds, the lovely tiny sparrows flitting and flying about the trees, almost dancing upon the branches.

God is. Nothing else needs to be added. It is necessary for nothing else to be understood. The most ornately elaborated sophisticated theology cannot come close to capturing the simple and awesome beauty of this. God is. And God is the is-ness of all that is. Everything that is is because God is. The fish is free to swim because God is. The worshipper is free to worship because God is. Indeed the atheist is free to deny God because God is. All that is is because God is, from the single-celled bacterium to the dizzying complexities of the outer universe. All that is is because God is.

God is.  Nothing else could possibly be of greater importance. God is. Nothing else must be spoken.  God is.  Nothing else needs to be added,  except perhaps that God is love.

Following the Way,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Love Makes Us Real

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
Jeremiah 1:5

This thought is just amazing to me! How is it possible that I yet without form could be known by the One? Doesn’t life start in the womb? How can God know me before then? How is there any “me” to know?

I believe that when I was just a thought in the mind of God, just an idea, just a possibility — even then God loved me and that divine love made me real. My origin is not the womb of my mother, but the womb of God, the womb of divine love. Divine love is our source as well as our destination. It is love that makes us real. Without love the human heart becomes a cold empty shell, beating simply to mark the time, counting down to the end. Life begins when we learn to love, to receive and give love. Until then we are not truly ourselves, only possibilities of what we can become once love makes us real.

Following the Way,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You Are Enough For Me

It is an awesome thought to consider that we are often rejected by men, but are totally accepted by God.  The world is constantly telling us that we are not enough, that who we are is not good enough to garner its approval.  We are told that we are too young, too old; too fat, too skinny; too dark, too pale.  The list goes on and on; it's never ending.  No matter what you do, no matter how many changes you make, no matter how arduously you twist and contort yourself to fit the mold society has created for you, the world's message essentially remains the same: you are not enough.  And so, many young women starve themselves to be thinner.  Some black people buy bleaching creams to be lighter, while other white people are using tanning creams to be darker.  It's all insanity! 

But in the midst of all the world's pomp and circumstance, if you are still enough, if you are quiet enough, you hear a gentle voice saying, "You are enough for me".  That is what I heard this morning.  I knew instantly who it was and I could feel my spirit tremble in the presence of a truth so simple, so unassuming, so liberating and yet so easily overlooked and forgotten. 

I am enough for God.  I don't have to be any taller or shorter; lighter or darker; younger or older.  No, I am enough for God.  The world requires more, but all that God wants from me is me, to see my face, to hear my voice, to walk with me and talk with me.  I satisfy God.  What a thought!  Almighty God, the indescribable Mystery who is the source of all that is, all that ever was and all that will ever be is satisfied by me and my company.

You are enough for God.  You.  Just as you are.  Black, white; rich, poor; gay, straight, you are enough for God and all that God wants from you is you, to see your smile, to hear your laughter, to go through life's journey with you.  When everything is going well and when everything has shattered to pieces on the ground God wants to be with you.  You are enough for God.  Your presence satisfies God.  Divine Love is extending itself to you.  Why wait another moment to embrace it?  You are enough for God.

Following the Way,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just A Thought

Without love the human heart becomes a cold empty shell, beating simply to mark the time, counting down to the end. Life begins when we learn to love, to receive and give love. Until then we are not truly ourselves, only possibilities of what we can become once love makes us real.

Following the Way,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Created To Be Loved

As you walk with God you go through different phases, different seasons where you begin to see the different faces of God.  I have known God as Father and rested in his security; as Mother and found comfort in her embrace, as Provider, as Healer and now more than ever I am experiencing God as love, pure, divine, ever-present, unfailing, unconditional love. I can scarcely put into words how radically the course of my life has been fundamentally changed by this love.

I have heard it said many times that we were created to serve God, to love God to worship God. I couldn't disagree more! You were not created to worship God. God has all the angels in heaven to worship Him; if God was in need of more worshippers God could have certainly met the need in a much less troublesome way than creating human beings! Let's just be real here if it were possible for God to have a headache it would because of us, not the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea or the flowers of the field. No one has given God as much trouble as we have! So why were we created?

You were created to receive the love of God. That is the primary purpose of life. You were created to be filled up to overflowing with divine love. Your soul, the shape of your heart, your very essence was fashioned to receive this divine love. Everything else is a response to God's love. Loving God, serving God, worshipping God, spending your life walking alongside the Mystery never quite knowing where you'll end up, truly loving yourself and others, all of this becomes possible only after we have received the love of God. I'm not sure how well religion understands this. Many times religion gets in its own way and instead of pointing to the wondrous Mystery that is God it points to itself and misses the whole point entirely.

You were created to be loved by God. God brought you into existence so that He could have the privilege of loving you. That is how much you mean to God. I will say that again, that is how much you mean to God. Whoever you are, whatever you've done, wherever you find yourself in this particular moment along your journey, feel the truth of this deeply within you. You were created to experience God's love. Don't ever let anyone take this from you. Don't let the noisy distractions and illusions of life take this from you. You were placed on this earth to experience God's love and you don't have to wait another moment to begin experiencing this divine love. God's love is already there. It's all around you, animating everything that lives, infusing every second with its presence. Take a look inside; you will find it there.

Following the Way,

Friday, March 12, 2010

John 3:16 Conclusion


“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever…”

My favorite part in this tiny passage is just one little word: whoever. I would totally understand if God gave Jesus for just the good people, or the Christians, but that’s not what this verse says. This verse says that God gave Jesus, the most precious thing He could ever give, to whoever, whoever believes in Him, whoever should come to Him, whoever. There’s no long list of prerequisites or qualifications. God freely extends Jesus to whoever will take Him. Think about this for a moment.

Now I love to cook for people even though it’s a lot of work. I have to plan out a dinner and buy the groceries, which requires both time and money. I have to prepare the dinner which is also time consuming. I like everything to be just right so it takes quite a bit of work to prepare dinner for a group as small as four. I have a particular set of plates that I spent quite a bit of money on from Crate and Barrel. I only take these plates out when I’m having a dinner party. Otherwise they are stowed away safely on my closet shelf, separated by sheets of paper towels so they will not be damaged in any way. When guests offer to clean up afterwards I always turn them down, not because I don’t want their help, but because I just don’t trust anyone with my plates! They were expensive. As you can probably figure out I am very particular about who I invite. I can’t take those plates out for just anyone. I would never go through all the trouble of preparing a dinner, take out my nice plates and just throw the living room door open and invite whoever happened to be walking by. But that’s exactly what God did when He gave the world Jesus. He threw his doors wide open and invited whoever to attend.

God loves the whoevers of the world, the ones who are nameless to us, the ones without titles, offices, status or prestige. You’ll never see them on the cover of any magazine. They’ll never make the six o’clock news. You’ll never see them on TV, but God loves them just the same. God loves the nameless who are ignored by the world: the poor, the sick, the oppressed, the uneducated, the homeless, the ones we don’t care to be associated with. God extends Jesus to these people and to whoever else will accept his offer.


Now that we have been introduced to the truths of John 3:16 there is only one thing left for us to do: live it out. John 3:16 is not just a verse to be memorized and then tucked away in a remote corner of our brains, but a verse to be thoroughly understood, solidly grasped and lived out fully to the best of our abilities. God created us in his image so that we would be like God, and resemble God (Genesis 1:26-27). All that God is we were created to strive to be. We cannot be God, but every believer should aspire to be like God: Loving, merciful, giving, compassionate, just. If you are in any way amazed by God’s inexhaustible capacity to love the world, the entire world, then strive to love the world yourself. It is not enough to love your family: the soldiers of Nazi Germany loved their families as well. It is not enough to love your friends. God loves the world. Will you be bold enough to love others outside your circle? Will you take the initiative to expand your circle of friends and loved ones to include more of the world that God loves?

God demonstrates his love through action and we are given the privilege of doing the same. There is a whole world out there that is in desperate need of God’s love, and the only way they can experience God’s love through us, is through our actions. They cannot see God through our thoughts. They cannot see God through our good intentions. They will not come to experience the love of God through our prayers, as grand as they might be. The only way the world will see God in us is through our actions, simple every day acts of loving-kindness. Every day someone is need of experiencing God’s love through us, the ones who call ourselves by his name. Every day is an opportunity for us to show someone the love of God. Let us not waste a single day; it might make all the difference to a soul in need.

God is a giver and is always giving. Let us align ourselves with God and become givers ourselves. When God gave us Jesus, He gave us the most precious thing He could ever give. What is most precious to you? Think about it. What is it that you hold most dear? Is it your time, your circle of friends, your resources, your comfort zone? The one thing you cherish the most might just be the exact thing God wants to use to show his love to others. Will you trust God with what you cherish? Will you place it in is hands if He asks you to? Will you give up the very things you have a right to, the things you’ve worked hard for, the things you’ve earned for the sake of someone experiencing the love of God, for the whoevers of your world?

I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you as you endeavor to answer these questions. I invite you to wrestle with this tiny passage of Scripture. Let it make you uncomfortable; you’ll be okay. I pray that you stand in awe of God’s love and devote the rest of your life to showing the same love God has shown to you to a world desperately in need of such love. Live out this tiny passage today and every day you are blessed to experience.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 
John 3:16

Following the Way,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

John 3:16 Part 4


“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”

When the time came for God to show the full extent of his love He could have chosen anything to show his love to the world. He could have stopped at creation. Sometimes I’m just taken aback by the ocean breeze, the sight of a blue jay, or the sweet scent of a lily: all of these simple things remind me of the love of God. I am simply amazed that such a great God would take the time to fill the earth with simple little treasures. God took the time to fill in the details that make you and I smile if only for a moment. Personally, God could have stopped at chocolate. I am so grateful for chocolate, extremely grateful. If you’re not a chocoholic like me than you just won’t be able to understand. The easiest way to become my friend is to give me chocolate. I have never disliked anyone who has ever given me chocolate, never. I know God loves me because He created chocolate! What more do you need? And I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure He created it just for me especially.

Luckily for you non-chocolate lovers out there, God gave the world so much more than chocolate! Our heavenly Father searched all of heaven and earth to find the most precious thing He could give to show his love for the world. He gave us Jesus. The giving of Jesus exemplifies God giving the world his best. He gave us the sun, the moon and the stars, but that wasn’t enough. He gave us the flowers, the trees and the pretty birds that perch upon their branches, but that wasn’t enough. For God only the best would do to show his love to all his children, so He gave us Jesus to die on the cross to take away all of our sins. All of our shame, pain, disappointments and failures, Jesus bore upon his shoulders. He willingly shared in all of our sufferings. He was hungry, tired, broken, frustrated, just like all of us at times. The book of Isaiah says he was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering (Isaiah 53:3). He was lonely at times, just like all of us. There is no pain we can ever experience that Jesus can’t relate to. In laying down his life Jesus gave life to the world. God loves you that much. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been, God loves you that much. Regardless of your past or your present shortcomings there’s no place you could ever go to escape the infinite love of God. God’s love for you is beyond measure and human comprehension.

Following the Way,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

John 3:16 Part 3


“For God so love the world that he gave…” God chose a particular kind of action to demonstrate his love to the world, and that action is giving. If there is any single activity that helps the believer align himself or herself with God and begin to take on the character, nature and essence of God, it’s giving. God is a giver. He has always been a giver and always will be. I often hear people say that God can do anything. Not true, God couldn’t stop giving even if He tried! God is always giving. God could have chosen any number of ways to show his love to the world. He could have pointed towards creation: the beautiful stars in the sky, the warm breeze on a summer night, or the awesome sight of watching the sun rise. When it came for God to show to show the extent of his love for the world however, giving us creation just wasn’t enough. God chose to give again. It is the act of giving that God chose to show his love. God chose giving and He still chooses giving today as the way to show his love for the world.

When we as believers give we become more like God who never ceases to give. He gives to all: both the righteous and the unrighteous, to those who deserve it and to those who don’t. When we give we take a moment to look beyond ourselves, our needs and our desires, to be a blessing to someone else. When we give we step out of our own little world and come face to face with the needs of others. Giving expands the heart and stretches the soul. It enlarges our field of vision and allows us to see more of the world in need around us. Don’t wait until you feel compassionate to give; giving will make you more compassionate. Do not give so that God will give back to you. God is a giver by nature and does not need to be manipulated into giving. Give for the sake of giving. Give because it’s the right thing to do. Give because your heavenly Father is also giving. Become a partner in the work of God and give of whatever resources God had given to you: your time, your talents, your money, (yes I said your money). Freely you have received and freely you should give (Matthew 10:28). God chooses to give. Will you?

Following the Way,

Monday, March 8, 2010

John 3:16 Part 2


“For God so loved that world that he gave…” Immediately following God’s declaration of love for the entire world is a description of the action that his love brought about. We see that God demonstrates his love through action. One cannot separate love from action. The two go together hand-in-hand. The presence of love makes action necessary. True love will always manifest itself into action, always. Just as the book of James says that faith without works is dead, love without action simply isn’t love (James 2:14-26). The word love is terribly mistreated today. People use the word love for everything. “Oh I love that song”. “I love that chair”. “Oh I just love that dress”. Very few people realize just how profound God’s perception of love is.

I have found that there are two common misconceptions about love. The first misconception is when love is reduced to a feeling. Love gets reduced to that warm and fuzzy feeling inside when you’re with someone you like. People think that experiencing that kind of feeling equates to love, but love is not merely a feeling. Love goes beyond feelings and brings about action. There is no such thing as love which need not be expressed by action. Love is much more than a feeling. In fact, love sometimes exists without that warm and fuzzy feeling. Only true love endures when the feelings are gone.

The other common misconception is the idea that the only way to show someone you truly love that person is to do something extraordinary, epic and heroic. Love songs are famous for this. You often hear lyrics where the singer says he’ll climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest sea, and cross a barren desert to show his love. Well you know what, all of that isn’t necessary. You don’t have to slay the evil dragon to show people you love them. Love is simple and many times all love requires is simple action. Love is not about what you do on special occasions, but what you choose to do every day. It’s as simple as calling someone you don’t usually call just to say hello and wish that person a good day, or including someone you don’t usually include the next time you hang out with your friends. Oftentimes the littlelest things are great big ways to show love to someone. God could not love the world without doing something to show his love. Let us learn to love in the same way. God demonstrates his love through action and so should we.

Following the Way,

Friday, March 5, 2010

John 3:16 Part 1


John 3:16 is a passage most Christians are thoroughly familiar with.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV).

Just about every Christian knows John 3:16 by heart. You even see people at football games holding up signs that say nothing but John 3:16, which must be awfully confusing for football fans who don’t go to church. Growing up in my youth group we would get together and play games on Friday nights. Sometimes we would compete to see who could memorize more Scripture, but John 3:16 didn’t count. We never got any points for that verse or “Jesus wept”; it was assumed that everybody already knew it.

Although John 3:16 is a verse that very many Christians are familiar with I believe there is more to this little verse than most people realize. I believe that if we are willing to listen, God is prepared to reveal to us dynamic truths concerning this passage of Scripture. It’s funny how God often chooses to use the little things to teach us great lessons. I believe that within this little passage lies the heart of Christianity. Within this little passage lies a paradigm, far too often overlooked. Within this little passage is a model for how every person who is a believer should live. I am convinced that it will take a lifetime for the believer to fully live out the truth of this little passage. Let us go on to discover what the Spirit has to say through this passage and let us be strengthened by God’s grace to live it out.

Upon reflecting on John 3:16, there are four truths that jump out at me. They are simple but profound, and have the power to permanently transform the perspective of the believer. I believe that if a person can grasp the full meaning of this little piece of Scripture, that person will never be the same. The four truths are: 1) God loves the world. 2) God demonstrated his love through action. 3) God demonstrated this love through a particular kind of action: giving. 4) God gave that which was most precious to Him: Jesus.


“For God so loved the world…” upon first glance this statement doesn’t seem too profound. God loves the world. Yes, yes, we know already, I can imagine someone thinking, but if we take the time to truly think about this we will see just how radical this statement truly is. God loves the world. Can this be true? Is God really aware of the implications of declaring his love for the entire world? I have to admit I struggle with this part of the passage. It would be one thing if it said that God loves some people in the world, you know, the good people. That’s not what it says however. This little snippet of this tiny passage says that God loves the world, the whole world, not just parts of it, the entire world. Every human being that exists today, every human being that has ever existed, and every human being that will ever exist, God loves. There has never been now will there ever be a person who God does not love. This is amazing.

We don’t live in a perfect world. This is a huge understatement. This world can be a terrible, terrible place at times. There are all sorts of people in this world and they are not all good. There goes another huge understatement. The world is just teeming with evil people. I am reminded of this every time I pick up the newspaper. Just recently I was reading about a young man who killed a woman who was only twenty-two years old. He also killed her two year old son. Police arrived on the scene just as the man threw the trash bag that contained her dead son out the window. Does God love that man? Is it possible? As unbelievable as it sounds, I hear the Spirit of God say yes.

This world is inhabited by all kinds of evil people. There are women batterers, rapists, child molesters, serial killers, dictators, torturers who burn people alive: I could go on and on and on. There seems to be no end to the presence of those who do evil upon the face of the earth. How can God say that he loves the world? Maybe He is not familiar with how bad things get down here. Perhaps his view from heaven is obstructed. Yet, I know this is not the case. God, being fully aware of just how low the depravity of man can go, freely chooses to love each and every single human being upon the face of this earth.

Now I know that there are usually exceptions to every rule, but this one has none. Does God love someone as terrible as Sadaam Hussein, a brutal dictator who lived in an opulent palace while thousands of his people went without adequate food or clean drinking water? I hear God say yes. Is it possible that God loves Osamin Bin Laden, a man who rejoiced at the deaths of innocent men, women and children on September 11? No, it can’t be, but I hear God say yes. Now God, if I may be so bold, surely Hitler was the exception. Surely, you don’t need me to remind You of the Holocaust: Auschwitz, the death camps, the ovens made not for bread, but for men, women and helpless children? Surely You harbored no love in your heart for a man like that? Don’t tell me You loved Hitler too… I hear God say yes.

The love of God is unfathomable. I don’t understand it. It is impossible to wrap your mind around it. How can an infinitely holy God loves such an infinitely evil world? We love people who are good, people who are nice to us, our friends and family, people who we benefit from. But God does not love the way we love. God’s love goes higher than any rocket we can launch into space. Deeper than even our sins can take us. Longer than our human arms could ever reach. Wider than the breach that once stood between the world and God. God loves the world, the whole world, all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly. Not just the Christians, not just the good people, God loves the entire world.

“For God so loved the world…’ What a thought!

Following the Way,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March's Theme: Divine Love

I want to spend the month of March reflecting on God's love.  I have never experienced anyting purer, deeper or more beautiful.

Here You Are

I can feel you reaching out to me and I find it bewildering.
What have I done to deserve such grace, such care, such love?
I cannot count all the times I’ve failed you,
All the times I shut
My ears to your still small voice,
My eyes to your hands extended to mine,
My heart to your own.

And yet here you are,
Calling me,
Wooing me,
Loving me,
Inviting me to come
Closer and closer and closer,
Forgiving me,
Washing me,
Making me your own,
As if I never left,
As if I never caused you pain,
Or pierced your heart with grief,
Or repaid your kindness with rebellion,
Your faithfulness with unfaithfulness,
Your compassion with my apathy.

O my God,
Your love cuts me to the heart,
Shatters my defenses,
And baffles my understanding.
Your love makes me laugh and weep.
Your love brings me to my knees
And renders me helpless to resist,
Regardless of how hard I try.
I can feel you reaching out to me and I find it bewildering.
What have I done to deserve such grace, such care, such love?

Following the Way,