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.

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Tenacious Love

When you think about God’s truly awesome power and might do you ever consider the source of it. We know God is self-existent so His power does not come from any source other than Himself but how awesome is it that God’s power is Love. God is Love. I am not saying that God is just a force or power called Love. God’s inexhaustible will to create beauty, life, peace, righteousness, and fulfillment is expressed in what we understand as Love. God has captured my heart in all His efforts to save me and give me life. He has exercised all of His power to rescue my heart so that I could know that He loves me and so that I could know the joy of loving others. Love is central to our existence. Look at 1 Corinthians 13.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

If you don’t have Love, all that you do have amounts to nothing. If you have knowledge of God but fail to understand that all that He is and all that He does is rooted in His inexhaustible love for you then you are missing the riches part of Life. If you see love just as a power or force you are missing the intentional will of the creator to have an intimate relationship with you. The scripture says in Jeremiah 31:3,

“The Lord appeared from old to me saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.”

The bible is a love letter to you, don’t sleep on it. Let your heart awake to the awesome love of God. All that Jesus suffered, He suffered to win your heart. Let the life and sacrifice of Jesus be a testimony of God’s love for you and even as He was resurrected you will find your heart renewed as His loves fills it. As you grow in your understanding of God’s love you will learn to sense His love not only in the warm sun on your face and the gentle breeze that refreshes you but you will also sense His love in the dark ominous clouds and the thunder that shakes you. You will learn to trust His love even in what you don’t understand because you will embrace His promises like Jeremiah 29:11,

 “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”

 

The Human Race

We are one. The reality of this truth always hits home when there is an attack on society outside of what we consider a war zone. War is tragic, but assault on the civilian population is truly an act of terrorism. As I contemplate the events in Boston, I know somewhere else in the world there was probably another attack on society just as heinous, a day or two before and perhaps since. The question is…do we mourn for the losses of others as we do our own. Until we learn to share the pain of the rest of our human family, we will not began to eliminate what is at the root of the suffering. What is the problem? A house divided cannot stand. Human kind is just too divided. Private interest and insensitivity to the lives of others are taking their toll. This division is why we live in such a violent world. The lack of love for one another is giving way to hate and destruction. The prevalence of selfishness and hate in our society is a direct result of the inability to grasp the fact that we are all human. Our different languages and skin tones and cultures have become more significant than the fact that we are one. What affects one of us, though it may not be immediately perceivable, affects all of us. Just like the human body, if one part is injured it will eventually affect the health of the whole body if not cared for. Like an infection that leads to a fever, and then convulsions throughout the body, and once the poison has spread, then death. If we could all see ourselves as part of one body, we would care more about each body member. After all, what person in their right mind neglects their own body? I know…that is also part of the problem.

Humans are guilty of violating the two laws of sustainable living. What I have been writing about so far in this post is the infraction of the first law. The first law of sustainable living is to love our neighbors as our own selves. Not merely our neighbors next door, but our neighbors over in the next county, state, or country. Not merely our neighbors that look like us and talk like us, but our neighbors of different ethnicities and cultures. American foreign policy lacks this principle of love, but even closer to home, what does our individual foreign policy look like. How often do we pray for the human right violations that occur in the different zip codes and time zones around the world? Prayer brings me to the second law of sustainable living. The second law of sustainable living is that we are to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength. If we do not love God in this way, we will never fulfill the first law. God is the Creator, if we do not love the Creator we will not have respect for what He has created. If you love the Father then you will love His children. Keeping the two laws of sustainable living, given to us by the Creator, is the only way to win the race. God is Love, and it is only through being reconciled to Him, through faith in Jesus, that we have the power to truly love our neighbor. May God help us to love our neighbors across the finish line until we win the human race.

Matthew 22:36-40

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, You shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, You shall love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Reflecting On His Cross

This Sunday, as people have done for over a thousand years, many people will reflect on the death and resurrection of the Messiah. What is the message that this reflection will yield? It is astonishing to me the degree of darkness that still pervades around the cross of Jesus as evidenced by the denial of what Calvary truly stands for. Jesus Christ, Yehowshua, The Messiah, The Savior, went about before His crucifixion preaching and teaching on the principle that if we are all to have life then we must each individually give our lives.

John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this but that a man lay down His own life for a friend.”

Luke 9:23-24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever will save his life will lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake will save it.”

John 13:34, “A new commandment I give you, that you should love one another; as I have loved you, that you also should love one another.”

As a truly leader, Jesus served by example and laid His life down for us all at Calvary. Jesus laid down His life as a man not according to His will alone but at the will of the Father. Remember He prayed in His humanity:

Mark 14:36, “Father, everything is possible for you. Take away this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will.”

 Ultimately it was the understanding that Christ had of the Father’s love that enabled Him to surrender to the death of the cross.

Today many people live unto themselves dominated by selfish pride. This pride, that rules over so many, came to power through a coronation by fear.  Fear, with a mind-set of if I don’t live for self then I may not get what I need or what I want. The selfish and non-trusting orientation of fear keeps the masses divided. Everyone in their own castles unwilling to lower the drawbridge that gives access to their heart. Access is denied not only to fellowmen but at an even greater detriment this access is also denied to God. The pride that has come to power in the hearts of many will not acknowledge any other authority, not even the authority of the Creator. The tyranny of pride empowered by fear will not submit to the authority of God so the commands of God are dismissed. The commands of God have been replaced with a liberalism that allows for all men to stay in their locked castles to live as they individually see fit without concern for those beyond their own walls. The masses have been deceived into believing that this selfish isolation is real freedom.

As you can see, this life style is the extreme opposite of what the Savior taught and exemplified. It is by design. There is an evil present in this world that hates God. God is love, truth, and life. This evil promotes hate, deceit, and death through the propagation of fear. Fear triggers the flight response that sends everyone to their isolated castles guarded by pride. When we are divided, we are weak and our civilization falls. Divided we fall. God has given us His commands to unite us. When we all as one people submit to the commands of God we become united and strong and then life thrives. We cannot be united by everyone doing their own thing and living unto themselves. God does not merely want us to exist as in “COEXIST”. God wants us to thrive in abundant life as a family. That’s why Jesus taught that we should pray “OUR Father”.

The only way to break the power of pride is to eradicate fear and the only way to eradicate fear is through the power of LOVE. As love destroys fear, faith grows in the place of fear. Faith with its accompaniments of hope and trust will dethrone pride and enthrone Love. When love takes the throne the gates of the castles are open and life thrives through true intimate exchange.

It is imperative that as we reflect on the cross of Jesus and that we embrace the dynamic message of His love toward us. Once we truly understand and accept His love, it will make us free from fear through the faith, hope, and trust which works by love. The tyranny of pride can then be overthrown and we will find the power to lay down our lives as the Savior did to the will of the Father. As we cease to live everyman for himself and every man to himself then the prayer that Jesus requested of the Father comes to fruition.

John 17:11, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me,that they may be one as We are.

A bond formed from many being baptized into the singular life of Jesus Christ through the death of individual living.

Mark 8:34, “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

The temporal unity formed through faddish political interest, carnal appetites, socioeconomic status, culture and even race are all vulnerable to the divisive attacks of the powers of darkness. Only the unity forged by the power of God’s spirit will stand. As we reflect on His cross may we learn what it means to take up our own. If we share in the likeness of His death we will also partake of the glorious quickening of resurrection power unto new life.

Romans 6:5, “ For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,”

Being Identified With Christ

What does it mean to be identified with Christ? Before you rush to answer consider the rich young ruler whom Christ told to go sell everything he owned before he could be identified with Him. Scripture says the rich young ruler went away grieved because he had many riches. After he left, Jesus went on to say, “Truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” The riches that can keep you from following Jesus can be anything you value more than following Him. In my experience I have seen many people turn away from Jesus because they were unwillingly to relinquish a particular lifestyle, habit, status, or association. They obviously valued those things more than what Christ was offering. The requirements for following Jesus are the same today for you and I as it was for the rich young ruler. You have to be willing to surrender everything. To be born again you have to be willing to pass through the cross just like you passed through the birth canal. That means stripped of everything.  The scripture says that following this statement of Jesus the disciples were bewildered thinking it was impossible for men to be saved, but Jesus assured them saying, “All things are possible with God.” What you are reading may be grieving you as it did the disciples but the good news is that God can change your perspective. I was once grieved as well at the prospect of giving up the pleasures that comforted me and the self-image I struggled to maintain for the cross of Jesus until my world started to topple around me from the inferior material I used to build my life. Once you grow weary of trying to build your life on the things outside of God like false ideals, corrupted values, carnal pleasures, physical strength, fleshy ambitions, the finite reasoning’s of man’s logic, and physical instinct you will be ready to let it all go. I thank God that I threw in the towel at an early age. Some people just have higher pain tolerances than others. When you are financially wealthy you can often afford more ways to self medicate so it can keep you out there spiritually languishing for much longer.

Jesus taught that if a man sought his own life that he would lose it, but if a man forsook his own life he would then find it. The sinking ship that many are holding on to is not salvageable and they must let it go in order to enter the unsinkable ship that Jesus captain’s. It is imperative to let go of the old in order to receive the new. Many people confuse the invitation of Jesus to come as you are as an invitation to stay as you are. Yes, Jesus loves you as you are but He also loves you too much to leave you that way. You must be ready to see yourself and your life from God’s perspective. You must be prepared to accept a new identity. You must be ready to accept a life centered on God’s will instead of your take on things. It is much like a teen-ager living with their parents. There is this person that the teenager is trying to portray to himself and friends, along with a highly marketed lifestyle that doesn’t figure in their total dependency on their parents. A teenagers highest priority should be complying with their parents since they are the ones sustaining their life. Ok hold on a moment parent before you amen to loud. God the Father is your parent. What kind of example are you setting? How submitted is your life to the One who is sustaining your life? I know, we just think we are grown but we have to be as children to enter the Kingdom. That is what I love so much about the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit can take things right in front of us and show us the path. Just like some of the things expected of teenagers not appearing cool to their peers, a life lived in identification with Christ is going to be senseless to the world. So just as teenagers often give in to peer pressure, “grown folks” conform to the world.

In order for a worldly person to be identified with Christ either they are going to have to change or they will have to make Christ worldly.  Consequently, the Christ preached from many of the pulpits around the world today vaguely resembles the Jesus Christ that the rich young ruler spoke with or the Jesus the apostle Peter denied three times. The Jesus Christ preached today more often resembles the mythical Santa Claus or officer friendly from preschool with his flash light shinning down on his head. Nothing threatening or demanding about him, just be nice and try not to be naughty and things will work out fine. Here are some of the one-sided ways people comfortably portray Jesus.

  1. Jesus loves you as you are so just come as you are. (Repentance paves the way to Jesus- Matt 4:17)
  2. Jesus paid for all of your sins on the cross. ( He requires you to take up your cross as well- Matt 10:38)
  3. Jesus knows your heart so don’t worry about it. (Plan out your salvation in fear and trembling- Matt 18:9)
  4. Jesus is love. (Love is often expressed through meeting the needs of others. A problem arises when people don’t value the things they really need- Matt 6:19-21)

There is always so much talk about who will be the anti-Christ but few people realize his personality and doctrine has already been accepted in many churches. The absolute authority of God and His personality are being challenged every day by hearts that are in love with this world. James 4:4 says, “Adulterers and Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” What a friend we have in Jesus…kind of depends huh? Jesus says in the Day of Judgment there will be many people caught off guard when He looks at them and essentially tells them they identified with Him as Lord with their mouths but not with their lives, so be gone ( Matt 7:21-23). Being identified with Christ means taking up our own cross as He did, however instead of dying a physical death, we should daily be putting to death in our own lives the carnal values and earthly priorities of this world in order that we can live to please our Heavenly Father just as Jesus did. In doing this we will become rich eternal rulers with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven. 2 Timothy 2:11-12 says, “If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us.”

Christ desires for us to be identified with Him alone. This means we should derive all of our self-worth and understanding of our potential from who we are as new creatures in Christ, nothing more. Jesus Christ is the head of the body so all body members need to get on board with this or the body won’t be unified.  Everything about you comes after belonging to Christ. I tell people all the time that I am a man who is black, not a black man. I don’t put my ethnicity before the fact that I am first a man created in God’s image. The color of my skin does not define who I am as a person or what I am capable of. I am defined by the divine nature of God that orders by entire being. The spirit dictates to the flesh and not the other way around. This is the reality of being born again according to the will of God. Hear me out. I am not saying there is no purpose in race. I am saying that whatever that purpose is does not trump being in subjection to Christ which is the head of the body. This is what is being expounded upon in Colossians 3.  I encourage you to read the whole chapter and I pray that God will open it up to you. I will leave you with Colossians 3:10-11.

“ Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all in all.”

Who Loves Ya Baby?

The famous words of Kojak! I know I am telling my age with that one. You youngsters will need to Google it. The question is valid though. We need to know who really loves us. I say “really” because everything called love is not necessarily so. It is also important that the love we give is “really” love and that the recipients acknowledge that. In relationships where there is mutual faith in the love shared, that relationship forms a bond which  becomes an enduring pillar of support and a rich source of esteem. This already challenging life is considerably tougher for those who feel they don’t share this love relationship with anyone and feel alone. By alone, I am referring to being in a place where no one is really interested in your voice, your personal feelings. I am also referring to a place where there is no one other than yourself that believes in your heart, and in spite of your mistakes believe that your intent is good. Unless you are narcissistic, without the affirmation of people that love you, you can begin to doubt yourself. One would think that this kind of love is a given in family, however having blood relatives does not guarantee this bond of love. It follows that having blood relatives does not guarantee that you will not feel alone. Before going any further, let me qualify what I mean by love.

When I speak of love I am referring to the love that comes from God. The bible teaches that God is love. So the love I am referring to comes from a divine source. Have you ever heard someone say they didn’t know how poor they were until they saw how the rich lived? Love is the same way. What most people consider love is poor in comparison to the real love of God. I Corinthians 13 give us a glimpse at real love:

 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

This love is not innate to our physical nature. We surely have some strong feelings generated from our physical being but they fall short of the wholeness comprised in divine love or real love. The big three feelings that dominate physical man are fear, lust, and pride.  These big three, though at times mimic love, are actually contrary to love. Fear comes from dread instead of hope. Lust is rooted in “taking” instead of “giving”. Pride is centered in concern for self instead of concern for the well being of all. Of the big three, PRIDE is the strongest and most dominant. Because the big three are natural to us, it takes the intervention of the supernatural to free us from the domination of them. The spirit of God in conjunction with our conscience convicts us to makes us aware of behavior that is detrimental to us and those around us. These are the actions produced by the influence of the big three. If we are sensitive to the conviction we can turn to God for help and He can begin the work of breaking the power of the big three which frees us from the behavior causing harm.  If we choose to override the conviction, this has a dulling affect on our sensitivity to harmful behavior and we become callous.  We never want to become insensitive to those around us because it can lead to us becoming detached from the reality of our actions. That is how people become beastly and demonic. Pride is the power of wicked behavior because it refuses to acknowledge fault and thereby blocks repentance. It is pride that fights the hardest against the reality that we need salvation from God. Most people readily acknowledge that we need the help of others but the pride of natural man will often fight the reality that we are helplessly wicked without God. So God orchestrates the fall of the prideful to humble places for an opportunity to be freed from the blindness of pride. God is so good, working in all things to bring us to freedom and fulfillment.  Those who grow weary of the tyranny of the big three and answer the call of God to repentance receive deliverance. Only those delivered by God are free to love. The big three will not allow a man the liberty to fulfill the requisites of love. This is what God proved through the Law of Moses. As hard as a man may try, he will always fall short of keeping the commandments of Love in his own strength.

Jesus says let the rich say they are poor and let the poor say they are rich. In other words, let those who think they have something to offer outside of the goodness that comes from God acknowledge that they have nothing, and those who realize they are bankrupt of their own goodness acknowledge that they are made rich by God’s goodness . Even though they may still have faults, their pursuit of God and commitment to grow is evident through their repentance. If you acknowledge your poverty then God has opportunity to make you rich, but if you say you are rich when you know you don’t have the goods then you will remain poor. I am definitely on God’s well fare. He gives me my bread daily. I don’t have anything but what He gives me. Every day that I awake I ask God to make a deposit into my heart so that I will have something to spend, if not, I will go about creating debts. Some days I create debts anyway but I am thankful for God and those that love like Him who know how to forgive us our debts. We need people in our lives that are rich with God’s love and we need to be one of those people enriching the lives of other with His love.

Let Love Continue

The war for your hearts goes on as callous evil strikes again,

Another assault to extinguish the hope of prevailing goodwill in men

Hearts plowed up by violence and broken to pieces by gun blast

The demonic seeds of hate and fear again have been cast

The fire of anger and lust for revenge rises up I will not pretend

Yet we must guard our hearts with the shield of faith in hope of justice that comes at the end

Sometimes freedom is exploited by darkness attempting to put all of our hearts chains

Let our hearts be filled with love instead for where the spirit of Love is there liberty remains

We must focus on the kindness and compassion that is being shown by people in great multitude

And be thankful for all that we still have, quieting despair the soberness of gratitude

We must fight evil with good, hate with love, and fight fear with our faith divine

Believing that goodwill triumphs in the end, as lovers we must never ever resign.