Love me…Love me not

Have you ever picked petals from a flower and did the “love me-love me not” silly ritual. Though that is a silly game played as children it is a reflection of an actual question we carry in our hearts that requires serious attention. I am convinced that in many ways this question governs our life more than any other influence. Some may think that as long as you love yourself you are good but that is not true, at least not for humans. If you were an insect, born of a larvae from under a leaf somewhere the self-love argument might have some credence. As humans, we need love from others. We need tender love and care from the moment we are born and from then on.It is unfortunate that many of us have had beginnings not that much different from insects. Born with no one present to really care for our hearts properly. The difference is the insect just goes about its life span of 10 days or less without ever thinking about if it was ever loved, on the other hand humans have hearts that crave love daily for their entire life span of 25,000 plus days or more. If our human hearts have been deprived of love at any point, it has left a wound that needs healing. Becoming callous to the need to be loved only changes the appearance of things on the outside however there is no real peace or rest on the inside. The callous heart is consumed with seeking supplements to satisfy the deficiency created by the lack of real love. Some of the common supplements sought are sex, wealth, fame, status, and control. Each of those things or even a combination of them are insufficient because they are temporary and also empty if not accompanied by real love.

The love we need and the love we truly crave comes from the Heavenly Father and He truly loves us with an everlasting love. We just have to learn to recognize, receive, and appreciate the abundant love that flows from God as a mighty river of life. Sometimes it is just a matter of focus and perspective that keeps us from seeing the love that is around us. Those that have hated us and mistreated us did so because they were bankrupt of love themselves. Those who have loved us have done so out of the wealth of love deposited in their hearts from God. Instead of remembering the many that have mistreated us we need focus on those who have reached out to us to share their wealth of love. Sometimes we have missed it because our focus has been on the false supplements promoted in a world filled with people who have broken hearts.

If we could just stop for a moment and tell the little child in us that it is well and we did not deserve to have our hearts neglected by those who were responsible to love us. Sometimes we come from generations of the brokenhearted and the cycle is just sadly perpetuated, but it can end today. If we will release those indebted to us because they were poor in the first place and turn the focus of our heart toward God who is reaching out us constantly through all the things He has created for us to enjoy. There are often people who truly love us that we don’t appreciate and take for granted (I have at least two phone calls I need to return as I write this.) There are children we have been giving to love that have hearts asking the same questions as our own. These are in addition to the beauty that God has placed around us to remind us of His love like the sunrises and sunsets, the birds singing in the morning, the flowers and the lush trees that provide shade from the heat. You never have to question the Father’s love for you. Imagine yourself in a field of flowers, acres wide. Each petal on each flower is an affirmation that He loves you, He loves you, He loves you, He loves you, He loves you……

Graduating

Graduate is taking from the word “gradual”. Gradual means to progress by a degree or a level. Many of my friends and relatives are graduating this spring from colleges and high schools. Once you have met specific qualification through a rigor of study in college, you are said to have earned a degree. The earned gradual increase is celebrated with a graduation ceremony. The significance of a graduation or the earning of a degree can mean different things to different people. In almost every case it represents an accomplishment and a transition to a new level in life.

The obtaining of knowledge always carries with it the transitive powers to move you to a different level and to change your life. Though we may not always be enrolled in a college or school, we should find life to be an institution of learning. We should be allowing the lessons of life to transition us to better ways of living, and new perspectives, graduating us all the time. Class is always in session. We should always be adorned for graduation. The cap on our head should be the mindset of always seeking knowledge and wisdom, to better ourselves and those around us. Our gown should be a covering of humility in acknowledgement that we still have more to learn and we are teachable. Our tassel should move side to side like a windshield wiper, continually clearing our vision as the acquisition of knowledge brings enlightenment and clarity. The highest learning is gaining knowledge of truth, truth about ourselves, truth about God and truth about the purpose for the life He has given us. So let’s elevate our learning, to elevate our living and enjoy the pump and circumstances.

Fulfilling His Joy

In America, most people would consider me to be a black man or an African-American man. Take notice that in both instances race or ethnicity comes first, then man. Most people even see themselves as either a black person or a white person and so on. This I believe is a true reflection of how most people think. Most people see race or national origin before they see another human. This is a natural response and really not a problem unless along with that first observation there come also preconceived ideas about that person’s likes and dislikes, aptitude and capabilities. At that point you enter into prejudices and biases that form divisive barriers. Even though people may be physically different, we must be able to connect with them first as being an equal fellow human. If we see it differently than this we are deceived and there is darkness in us.

Those are some thoughts about the general populace. Now let’s consider “The Church,” and I mean “The” Church because there is only one body of Christ. Is the Church anymore unified than the world? Amongst the majority of those confessing to be Christian, I would have to say NO. Most worldly people actually have a lot in common and merely think they are different, however the religious bodies are divided based on actual differences of thought, belief, and practices of living. Just like different races of people, we now have Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Protestant, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, AME, and it goes on. It’s not enough just to be identified as Christian. This is why I don’t subscribe to any denomination. Our God is not divided, so what is the problem with those that supposedly represent Him. There is a disconnect between the body and the head it would seem, because the head (meaning Christ, the only head of the true church) desires for the body to be unified, working together in harmony.

Christ made known His desire for believers to be united as one, just like the unity shared between Him and the Father. John 17:20-23:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

The division amongst the body of believers today is carnal and devilish and until the cross is truly applied to the agendas of men so that the will of God maybe manifest, it will remain divided. It is my hope that in the near future all of those professing to love Christ will be able to share His love for the truth and then allow that truth to unite them in thought and belief. Our objective must not merely be to be right; our objective should be to be right with God. In a lot of religious communities they have become right with each other but they are misaligned with God. Jesus spent a lot of time in the earth disputing with religious leaders regarding their focus on serving their own sense of righteousness instead of truly being right with God. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness….” is what the scripture says.

Do you seek to be dominated by God? Are you seeking to give God increasing power over you…your thoughts, behavior, and aspirations? That is what it means to seek the Kingdom of God and that is what it means to take up the cross of Christ….”not my will but yours be done.” The idea of allowing someone to dominate us or calling someone master meets immediate resistance in our minds due to the fact that the evils of man has diminished our ability to trust. On the other hand, if we are sick and need surgery, we will surrender to a surgeon and get put to sleep allowing total dominance over us. Is anyone more worthy of our trust than God? He wants to bring healing to us and we likewise have to surrender. Jesus proved himself worthy of our trust when He gave His life as a ransom for us. Few men have done that for another so I understand the apprehension, but Christ is truly worthy. Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt 16:24-25)

You are not living until you dedicate your life to His purposes instead of your own. A body does not function properly until all its members are correctly processing messages from its head. The Catholic Church says its head is the Pope. I have met Protestants that said the head of their church was pastor such and such or bishop such and such. The bible teaches that the only head of the Church is Jesus Christ.

When believers form alliances with each other based on compatibility, we end up with all these factions of religion. On the other hand if believers focus on transformation through submitting to God’s will, then we have true unity with God and with one another. The commands of God do not vary person to person. We are all commanded to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength. Likewise we are all commanded to love one another as we would like to be loved. The love spoken of here is not abstract or subjective love but love according to the word of God.

When the body of Christ unites in the spirit of truth, the Church will be glorious and powerful. Denominations will lose their significance as we all come in unity of faith and belief as written in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” The bible tell us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. Now through the abundant gratefulness we all have for the deliverance brought to us by the cross of Jesus, we now need to fulfill His joy by taking up our own crosses in laying down our individual preferences for the corporate interest of the body of Christ. When the bride (the Church) comes forth in her glory, the groom (Jesus) will rejoice and be filled with gladness. Colossians 1:9-18;

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

 

 

Love Supreme

What do you think of when you think of your first love? Do you think of your first serious crush or perhaps the first person you gave yourself to. Now think…does that love still inspire you, fulfill you, strengthen you, protect you, give you peace, give you joy, give you life. Jesus says, if you drink of the water He offers you will thirst no more, as a matter of fact He says His love will be as living waters springing up inside of you. This is the message He gave to a woman who met Him while she was trying to draw water from a well. She had several husbands and obviously was still searching, still thirsting, for true love. We all have a thirst for love, a deep desire to be truly known yet still accepted, appreciated, and valued. If you have never been totally open and honest in a relationship then you have never been truly open to receive love in its fullness. The fact that Jesus gave His life for you while knowing all that you are capable of, the good as well the bad, is a testimony of His enduring love. Truth is, until you have experienced the love of Jesus you are yet to have your first love. I pray that you will open your heart to Jesus, that you might receive peace that surpasses understanding, joy unspeakable, and love that gives life abundantly. A Love supreme!

The Crossing

River

Time races like a raging river, moving from east to west, from sunrise to sunset, dragging everything in its grasp along its course,

However in this mighty river there are monuments as great stones that stand immovable,

Stones that stand as memorials in time of momentous events that were life changing,

When we learn from those life changing events, we are able to build structures on these monuments that transcend time,

Through wise counsel we can connect these structures across this mighty river from its southern side to its northern banks,

This structure can serve as a transport that carries us and generations after us to our higher purposes for living,

So that we are not just lost drifts in the river, drug to our sunsets without fulfilling the purposes for our day in life,

Let us learn from the past and be open to wise counsel, endeavoring always to move toward our higher purposes for living,

Then time will no longer dominate us but instead serve as a reminder to stay on our own God given course.

The Seeds of Joy

The harvest is always so much more abundant than the seeds sown. It takes one peach seed to grow a peach tree but after the tree comes forth think about how many sweet peaches will be enjoyed.  This relationship is not coincidental or happenstance but the whole process of sowing and reaping is a law created by God ordained to teach us about life. The implications of this law extend beyond growing vegetation. I have been considering a lot lately the verse of scripture that says, “Sow in tears, reap in joy.”  Consider far a minute the implications of tears being the seeds for joy. In order to have an abundance of joy in your life you have to be willing to sow a few tears. We often avoid getting involved in to situations to a level that opens us to the possibility of experiencing sadness, hurt, and pain but in doing that we also avoid our greatest opportunities at real joy. We have to live courageously and engage life with our whole heart or we will experience life anesthetized by fear. Christ teaches us that in this world we will have tribulation however be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. In this world there will be tears but be of good cheer Christ has secured our harvest of joy. The scripture says that Christ endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. The focus of the Savior was the joy, not the tears, because the joy is so much greater and more abundant, it is worth the sacrifice. So do as the scriptures instruct, “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Be brave and live life with your whole heart engaged, knowing that you will have to sow some tears, but let the PROMISE of “abundant life” and “joy unspeakable” be your motivation. When tears fall in light of the gospel a rainbow appears in our hearts, a promise from God that it will not rain for ever. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning!

Rainy Days

I wait for you at the well of my love but you will not come and drink.
I call for you to come and you seem bothered by the invitation.
I think maybe the drawing of the bucket is too much, so I make the well to run over.
Yet you still will not come.
So I go to my vast oceans and cause my water to rise, defying gravity, forming clouds of rain, to seek you out over dry land.
I keep my love high above the rudiments of the earth so that when I find you I can rain upon you with pure refreshing love.
I find you and pour my love down upon you, drenching you with the abundance of my desire to satisfy you, yet you complain.
You complain that the rain of my love restricts your activities and spoils your plans but in all of this you never stopped to drink.
You have become accustomed to your thirst, and to die of dehydration has become an expected end.
You don’t understand that I formed you in my love as a baby in the womb, you were made to live on the waters of my love, and even your body is composed mostly of water.
Now you carry your umbrella whenever you see the clouds coming to block the rain, and repel my love.
But I am patient, I am steadfast, I am faithful. It is the time of refreshing you should drink and be filled.
Soon there will be drought and extreme heat and those who did not drink and fill with my water will perish.
The forecast TODAY is rain…will you drink?

Picture from the movie, “The Shawshank redemption.”

Who You Gone Call?

Most friends and acquaintances prefer to be around us when we are celebrating or have good news to share and that is understandable. I find it extremely comforting though to know that the Almighty desires to be around us MOST when we are hurting and discouraged. When we are AT our worse or IN our worse, most people we know would probably prefer we go (like someplace other than where they are) somewhere and get ourselves together or hurry up and get over it.  We may have a rare friend that wants to stay near and listen, empathize and support, but even they have their moments when they have issues of their own and just don’t have the strength to support us and deal effectively with their own circumstances. However, The Wonderful Counselor, as He is also called, inexhaustibly calls us near to take our burdens and to give us joy and peace. Isn’t that uplifting to know! The question is, do we take advantage of that? When we are going through something, do we go to our quiet place and call upon His name? Do we open up our bibles and search for the Bread of Life? Or…..Do we turn to our relationships and look for a person to console us? Do we throw comfort food at our appetites that seem to invigorate during times of duress? Do we escape reality altogether with a movie or some other form of fiction?  It is natural to do all those things but we have to cultivate a habit of going to God first. Instead of the quick and temporary gratification natural remedies offer, God restores us and in process spiritually vaccinate us from future injurious effects of what ever was ailing us. We become stronger. He is calling us to do this. He is calling you when you are burdened and heavy laden and when you have a broken spirit and contrite heart. He welcomes us to come as we are but He has not intentions of leaving us that way. The Lord will renew your strength and you will feel as if you could soar as if you had wings life the eagles.This experience is not a mere high but a deliverance that elevates your life, bringing you to another level of freedom. Don’t misunderstand me, friends and loved ones are a definite blessing but there is one that sticks closer than any other and He truly is the Prince of Peace and He should be our first love in every way.

Turning Up The Heat

The assaults on our heart are pretty relentless. When we are not being attacked from the outside, we still have to contend with the occasional utterances of our own wounded heart, questioning our well-being. The wounded heart can be a fifth column, an enemy within. This is why God is creating in us a new heart. The battle to stay motivated, inspired, impassioned to live and to love is a task that only true warriors will excel in. If we are wimpy and self-absorbed, we will be casualties of war and other soldiers will have to carry us. They will have to carry us with one arm and continue to fight with the other. There are times when we all have to be carried by others and we shouldn’t feel bad about that, but for the sake of our own calling in the war, we each have to be vigilant, courageous, and fearless in our pursuit of the enemy. Yes! The children of God are manifest to destroy the works of the enemy!

In our ranks, there must be fervent love. A different love than the cold, reserved, and timid expressions found predominantly in the world today.  Our love should be life changing. We have the ability through the power of the Holy Spirit to love gloriously. The scripture says that the love of the Father is shed abroad in hearts through the Holy Spirit. We have to reflect this love to one another just as the moon lights up the night from the light of the sun. A word of encouragement or reproof in the right season, an “I just called to say I love you,” a gift for no particular occasion, a request for some shared time, all these at things to name a few could be exactly what our wounded comrades need to get back in the fight. To walk in this consistently, our focus has to be on how God the Father loves us, not on how people have loved us or what people have done to us. If that is our focus then that is what we will reflect and the glorious love we should be beaming becomes eclipsed.

The need for God’s love in this world is a daunting thought but God is handling that. The question is, are the people around you warmed by your fervently love and are those closest to you ignited by the fire of God’s love burning with in you. Before you are over run with thoughts of performance understand this, just as a fire by simply burning emits heat, if you endeavor to keep you heart centered on the reality of God in your life others will feel the fire and see the light. The enemy knows this so there is always an evil vying for our focus but there is an even greater Holy calling for our presence at the beautiful feet of Jesus, even in the bosom our God if you can receive it.

If we are to have something to give, we must first receive of God. It is my prayer that we will all surrender increasingly to the call of God, so that from being in His presence, we may live in greater assurance of His care, which in turn will fortify us against the dampening effects of self-concern and free us from unfruitful busyness.

Male and Female Created He Them

Though we are the same, we are different,
The way we contrast brings definition and meaning,
As an artist expresses through imagery with dark lines on white paper,
The lines formed by our differences illustrate the glorious image of God,
When we embrace the differences that are inherent between us,
We allow for bolder lines which enhances the visibility of God’s full image,
The lines our differences form, should not be points of contention toward division,
But equal value must be bestowed on the masculine and the feminine,
Bolstering appreciation in a holistic way towards unity,
When man and woman are united in their true essence, they are glorious and powerful,
Just like God,
In whose image we are made,
Man, to love woman is to love yourself,
Woman, to love man is to love yourself,
Man and Woman, Love each other.