Saturday, May 21, 2016

God heals broken families

"Start a revival, revival in me." - Citizens Way.

I'm finally at home with my family for a month and it's definitely different. It's hard because you move away from home and start doing things differently just to come back it takes a little readjusting. It's easy to get selfish in college when you are solely looking out for you- one person- and meeting your own needs. And then you come back to a family and are reminded how much sacrifice and effort it takes to work together.

My family has been working on this family camp thing for our church with the theme "God heals broken families." I think it's definitely an important  topic because if you look around at familes anywhere (the grocery store or the pew behind you) you will see dysfunctional families. Families that are angry, divorced, or argumentative. Kids that don't behave and wives that feel overworked and husbands that feel disrespected. Despite the smiling faces at church for many families worship is the closest they may sit together all week.

God desires so much more from our families. But the only way we can start a family revival is by starting with ourselves and our perceptions and actions towards our own family. This transformation can only be possible with prayer.

I learned the coolest thing about God's love and families today. Basically God's character of perfect love is manifested by the fact that He is three in one- trinity- a third wheel relationship ( a heavenly family) and the way His love can best be demonstrated through us is how we "do family".

 We know that we humans are naturally self centered and love by definition is self-giving and other-centered (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). So in order for us to love there must be more than one person: a relationship.

 The problem with only having two people though is each is the sole recipient of the other's attention giving potential for self-centeredness. So if we think about marriage and we think about being selfless towards one another- that's a good start- and something many couples these days can't pull off even. Because we don't love God enough to even love one person like that. But...

The real test of pure love comes in when a third person enters into the relationship. Three is the minimum value of love in it's truest form because each recipient must also humbly defer attention to the third party and occupy the position of the third to the other two.Thus if the third person is accepted, self-centeredness will be forced to give way to a more selfless quality of love. In families today children often play this role of the third recipient and children can often strengthen or weaken a family demonstrating either a pure family after God's heart or selfishness.

Jesus expresses to His Father his hope regarding mankind "that the love with which You loved Me may be in them and I in them" John 17:26. Only through Christ we receive the power and redemption to love with the same kind of love Christ has demonstrated to us.

Even in the very beginning of time, the Bible shows that "doing family" and loving our family is not easy. Isaac and Rebecah start out being totally pure and dedicated to God. Isaac is a total man of the faith as he has witnessed the God of Abraham rescue his very life on the altar. Rebecah is the sweet and generous young girl Abraham's servant picks out- after a sign from God for Isaac. Surely their coming together was part of God's divine plan and their family intentions were pure.

We see a couple who struggle to have a child and pray for children.. to which God provides not just one but twins.

Yet somewhere along the process of raising kids, the focus of Christ is lost as favoritism and anger creep into the story. To the point where Rebecah loves her son more than her husband and chooses to help her favorite son Jacob (the deceiver) lie and manipulate to her own lover stealing from his own brother. Jacob tricks Esau and takes away his birthright. Esau is furious.

Yet the beautiful thing is the story doesn't end there.

Years later we see Jacob praying to God and God commanding Him to "go back to his country and relatives so he will prosper him." As he repents for his actions, humbles himself, and finds gifts for his brother and family, he wrestles with God and even gets a new name Israel. And then finally the day of restoration comes when Jacob meets Esau and and prepares to die, humbling himself and asking to be Esau's servant..

Yet Esau in his heart had forgiven Jacob as well and instead of being angry, he runs to Jacob or Israel with arms wide open to kiss and embrace him. Only by Christ their family was healed from anger and hurt. Christ always desires to heal our families and will often ask us to take initiative in the healing process.

In our culture today,media shows many different lies about families. I believe the devil is constantly throwing us counterfeit stories of how family, love, and sex should look and feel like instead of the truth about why God created families. Romance movies and books make marriages look so easy and statistics show us they lie. Satan tells us that families will meet our needs and help us work up the platform of the American dream to Disney World, cruises, and Santa Clauses.

What if we stopped taking our families for granted and realized that they are not easy? That family isn't just what you are born with but is what you make it and how you love/ or fail too. That as trouble arise, attraction fades, and impatience sets it, we have a new opportunity to love and forgive each other in the name of Jesus instead of simply walking away.

I know that I am blessed to have the family that I have now, and I also know that by loving my family, I can demonstrate Christ's love. Family's a verb that we make or break by our actions, words, and facial expressions. It's the things we do and don't say. The chores we fail to do or the secret ways we help each other. Love is to be given and shared and will require sacrifice, hard work, and commitment. May we love our families the way Christ has demonstrated His love towards us and may we pray for our families so they can be healed- in His name.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

love one another

In Galatians, Paul writes that he has identified himself so completely with Christ that he has been crucified with him. His ego is no longer central. The life he lives is not his own but Christ living through him.

Often we ask how we learn to love one another? And I think the simplest answer is we don't, we let Christ love through us. As humans we lack knowledge in what real love looks like, in what sacrifice costs, in patience, in generosity, in service... As many times as we try to represent Christ's name without His spirit we fail Him.

This doesn't mean we become apathetic and make excuses for our sinful nature it simply means we switch motives. We stop thinking how can I do this or that.. and we start praying Crucify me Jesus so that my selfishness dies and your spirit lives.

Oswald Chambers writes that "Love is the loftiest preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that this sovereign preference be for Himself (see Luke 14:26)...

The knowledge that God has loved me beyond all limits will compel me to go into the world to love others in the same way. I may get irritated because I have to live with an unusually difficult person.  Am I prepared to be identified so closely with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness will be continually poured out through Me? Neither natural love nor God’s divine love will remain and grow in me unless it is nurtured. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained through discipline."

Paul's counsel is this: To Live freely, animated, and motivated by God's spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical , so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? (Message)

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage, frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all consuming yet never satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community (Galations 5:19-21). These are the manifestations of selfishness and seeking after what we want. We see plenty of examples of lives today ruined by selfish pursuits.

Yet a narrower path and less common life of love reaps entirely different results. By loving someone through Jesus, we have the power to change their life, to heal their wounds. To free prisoners of anxiety, guilt, or shame from Satan's chains of bondage. To heal in the name of Jesus by showing how much we care and taking the time to touch someone else.

Christ asks us everyday will you let me crucify you so I can love through you? Will you trust me and give when you have nothing left? Will you fulfill the needs of someone else without thinking of what you want? Will you spend time with me in my word and through prayer so I can transform your heart and take away your worldly desires?

And when we let Him day by day destroy our idols, take away our old desires and selfish thoughts, we will find a joy and hope unexplainable and find ourselves in awe at the most amazing transformation by the loving Father of the universe.

This is grad

Life is more confusing when I can't write. It means too much is happening too quickly and my head feels like it's spinning so many directions far too quickly. Graduation weekend has come and gone and I am so proud of so many of my friends for their accomplishments and where God is leading them.Some of my friends are going to different countries, different states, and some of them are even getting married.

Waiting through graduation speeches and church services was like waiting for the promised land. At the end of the speeches I have to question whether the audience is really giving a standing ovation because they appreciated the talk or because after two hours it is finally over and we can all move on with our lives ;)

Monday, May 2, 2016

This is grace

I waited for him
Prepared for the stones

For the criticism
The failure
I was prepared to own

I waited for him to say
Good but...

But he didn't name my insecurities
He didn't list the things I did wrong

Didn't write my weaknesses along side my name
Instead he traced in the sand

I was expecting condemnation
But instead I got compassion
and grace

Undeserved and free
So this is how it feels to be covered in Christ's shadow
To have no fears because our insecurities, our weaknesses, our failures, our secret places
Are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ
This is grace

And as we follow God we will learn to dance joyfully in the rhythms of His grace
And nothing can make our heart so happy
As the pressure is taken away from us
It no longer matters how we perform or what we do
Because when we are serving Jesus
He is the only thing that matters

For me I have to praise God for so many miracles in my life
Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference
With nursing this year, God has been so faithful to help me
Whether it be a friend helping me study for a test or hugging me when I'm sad
Or amazing clinical instructors who encourage me instead of criticize
For giving me mercy for tests I didn't study enough for
And peace when I am terrified in the hospital
God has been so faithful and so graceful to me and I am beyond thankful.
Only because of Jesus.. this year is almost over!