Friday, July 29, 2011

All You Need Is Love

"God is love." (1 John 4:16)


From what I know, the most simple breakdown of the scriptures is this: We were created be loved and to give love. And that love was revealed throughout history - coming to a focal point on Jesus.


The problem is that we all have different ideas of love - especially with our language. I can say - I love ice cream, I love playing football, I love my dog, and I love my parents. Love, in those cases, means different things. So, when applied to life - people can hear “love” and come up with very different conclusions about how to live.


Much of the love we describe in our language has to do with “the eye of the beholder” type stuff. It’s often about what I prefer over something else. Love, in our culture, is about us - it’s about me.


The definition of love in the bible is different.


The simplest way I can put it is this: Jesus is the walking definition of Love. He displays the love of God. He is true love.


When you look what He’s like, and what He does - that is the best picture of true love that you will ever get.


So - go get to know Him. Seek Him. It’s as easy as opening up the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and hearing the testimonies of those that knew Him. Doesn’t mean it won’t be confusing - love is very deep. But - love is the best of all things - and it’s easily found in Jesus.


One more really cool thing: as you get to know Him - you'll be transformed into a person who displays love to a world that is desperately seeking it. You just might become someone's very good news - and when that happens - you'll have the opportunity to point to the even greater news behind your individual transformation - the person of Jesus Christ.


Have a great day!


Jer


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Malibu, Canada!

Well - off to an adventure with over 100 high school students - to Canada! Woohoo! Two day road trip - then craziness! May we all learn more about God's goodness! Pray for us - if ya get a chance. Thanks! Have a great rest of July!!

Lookin' up,

Jer

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Identity Crisis

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:5-7)

We all have multiple identities.

There are family identities. Fathers and mothers. Children. Sisters and brothers. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. There are the adopted and the abandoned - the abused and the orphaned. Some families are very rich, some are dirt poor. Some families are very religious, others outright reject anything spiritual. Some families live on the “other” side of the tracks, others are famous just for being on TV. Some families are huge, some are very small. We all get part of our identity from our family - like it or not.


There are profession identities. Some people are lawyers, doctors, and politicians. Others are laborers, migrant workers, and sweat shop workers. Some are criminals, others are law enforcement. There are highly regarded jobs like firefighters and teachers. There are less than desirable jobs like convenient store clerk and working for the golden arches. There’s management, employed, underemployed, and the unemployed. There’s the owner of a successful company and the person who struggles with chronic homelessness. In the American culture - our identity is so closely tied to our profession that one of the first things a person asks when meeting someone new is “What do you do?”


There are gender and sexual identities. There’s the obvious: man and woman. There’s also the identity of a child. There’s heterosexual and homosexual - and everything in between. There’s confused, and mixed. There’s over-sexual and asexual. There are sexual disorders and just the plain normal average Joe/Jane. What’s normal for some might be pretty crazy for others. Morality often gets tied in with people’s sexual identity. Like it or not, we are partly known by our gender and sexual identities.


There are achievement based identities. Some are really good - like professional baseball player or medal of honor recipient. Some are really bad - like rapist or a person on death row. There are student of the month, employee of the month, teacher of the year achievements. There’s winningest coach or team, there’s second place, and there’s just plain embarrassment. There’s winners and there are losers. There are people who are defined by barely missing the field goal, or just missing the putt. There’s the “almost” people. Many of us get our identities from our achievements.


We all have a ton of identities. There are sport fans - team fans. Consumer fans (Apple vs. PC). Comic fans. Fashion fans. Movie fans. Reading clubs. The elderly. The youth. The diseased. The diet health groups. Exercise groups. The obese. Clothing identity. School identity. Religious identity. Cultural identity. Political identity. Ethnic identity. Patriotic identity. And on and on...


We treat each other different depending on our identity. In some cases, there’s great camaraderie within a particular group. We offer support, throw parties, and wear even wear clothes to show off our affiliation towards a particular identity. But there are also some serious problems with putting so much emphasis on any particular identity.


Our identity often defines the borders that we may or may not cross. Our identities can create major division - and even outright war. Our identity can make it very difficult to love people that are different. It can be a frustrating problem.


Is there any way to erase our divisions - even when they seem insurmountable?


Well, there is an identity that we all share - every one of us. It’s an identity that supersedes all others - and we often miss it. It goes above and beyond any identity we might be affiliated with - to the extreme. It’s even above just being “human.” The author of the book of John writes about it often. He constantly identified himself as simply “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” All of humanity - every person on the planet (“For God so loved the world...) - has an identity that was given to them by God Himself. The identity we inherit is of a Father who loves His children (us!) He revealed that love to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. His love - His assigned identity - crosses all borders, all arguments, all groups - all identities. It covers all.


There are those that might not know their true identity at all. There are those that know their identity but ignore it. There are some that outright deny it. There are even those that fight against it. But no matter where a person stands with God - one thing that is undeniable is that God loves all - even His strongest enemies.


What if we lived in that truth? We all have multiple identities - but what if - first and foremost - our identity of being God’s kids - came first? Way out in first. And that's how we saw each other? Our father (God) loves every one of us! Is it possible that we could love and value those that are extremely different if we truly understood, and lived within, our real identity? Isn’t that what God constantly calls us to do anyway - to love everyone?


And, if that identity came first, how would we see ourselves? How would we see each other? How would we treat ourselves and others in light of our true identity?


I wonder...


Have a great day!


Jer


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Unfulfilled

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

I’m sitting outside this morning with the beauty of nature surrounding me. Where I live, I can see the Sacramento Valley, the Buttes, the foothills, and the Coastal Range. I can see trees, birds, cows, and other random animals all around. My neighbor's five dogs compete for my attention as I type and sip from my hot AM/PM coffee. I hear the buzzing of bees and insects, the cawing of birds, and the sound of sprinklers. I can also hear the wind as it blows up the hills and gives off a minor howl. There is literally not one cloud in the sky and the sun shines brightly. It’s morning, so it’s only in the mid 70’s - not as hot as it will be later. And it’s just plain beautiful.


This is something I’ve noticed - I can be a witness to Nature’s beauty, or I can ignore it. It’s easy to just shut myself in a hole and watch the morning news on TV. It’s easy to put myself in a box and pretend that the beauty of nature isn’t there. I find that I do that more often than I’d like to admit. Sometimes, it’s just that I forget. I forget how pretty it really is outside. It’s not always intentional that I miss God’s everyday paintings. Nature’s wonder is always there - I just ignore it, forget it, or take it for granted.


Kinda sounds like God sometimes. He’s always there - but we ignore Him, forget Him, or just take Him for granted. Then, life gets unsatisfying - for whatever reason. So we go in search of Him. I think most people don’t even know that they search for Him. They look for fulfillment in anything but Him - but what they’re really doing is searching for Him. Well - that’s my story anyway. I tend to look for Him in things that aren’t Him - and am always surprised when I’m left unfulfilled.


I’ve talked a lot about how God values us - and shows it through His life, death, and resurrection. I’ve been thinking about how much humanity does the opposite. When given God - humanity doesn’t value Him, we crucify Him. I’ve been thinking of how our lack of value for Him might be the very root of sin.


Anyway - just a quick couple thoughts. May we understand what “seek” really means as we seek to know our Savior.


Have a great day!