Friday, August 18, 2017

When is it good to hate?

Hatred of people demeans, demoralizes, slanders and is spewed via social media in the form of a vile tweet, Facebook rant, video message and so on. It spreads like gangrene (₁).

There are countries and groups of people that hate America and Americans. They hate us so much that they are ready, willing and some able to destroy us. Their hate is spreading like gangrene.

Some Americans hate each other.  Each year a few will act on their hatred by terrorizing others, killing some, and even themselves. More and more we see hatred displayed in acts of violence during what should be a lawful and peaceful rally or protest.  Their hate is spreading like gangrene.

I suppose hate has been around almost since the beginning of time. I'm not sure how long Adam and Eve had in the garden before sin entered into the world. But, I do know that once sin entered the world, in came hatred.

Then Jesus showed up.

He instructs us to love our enemies, to honor all people, to forgive and so many instructions like this I cannot fit them all into a blog post.  Hate has no place in the heart of one who is in a relationship with and follows Jesus. 

I believe the only way to remove hate from a heart is to give it to Jesus.  So, I don't think we'll rid the world of hate anytime soon, but we can be intentional and aggressive to teach and model what it looks like to give your heart to Jesus so you can love your enemies and honor all people. 

It is good to see so many people take to social media to condemn hatred.  Let's continue proclaiming and teaching that hatred for others is wrong. Proclaiming that it is a sin against God who created people and sent Jesus to die for all people. Hatred is divisive, destructive and evil.

Hatred for others should have no place in our hearts - ever.  So, how do I know if hatred for others is growing in my own heart?  How can any of us examine our own hearts and teach others to determine if hatred is hidden or growing there? 

Hate what God hates (₂). What does God hate?

  • Haughty eyes - thinking you are better than anyone else or a group of people.
  • A lying tongue
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • A heart that devises wicked plans
  • Feet that run rapidly to evil
  • A false witness who utters lies
  • One who spreads strife

I read what God hates, and my heart calls out:  "Lord, when and how do I think more highly of myself than I should?  When and how has my talk been deceitful or has it spread strife?  Oh Lord, how often is my heart devising sinful plans."

I talk to myself a lot. I devise all kinds of plans in my head of what I will do and say.  If these thoughts and plans are not coming out of a pure heart that's been filtered through prayer and God's word, then I can guarantee you it's like running after sin, devising sin and so on.  These are not the actions of love for others. These are the actions of hatred toward others. I need to hate these things in my own heart so that hatred will not grow in my heart. 

When is it good to hate?  We should hate the things that God hates.

What a better place this would be if we would all agree to hate what God hates!  To commit to:

  • Hate what God hates
  • Examine our own hearts
  • Not do what God hates 
  • Teach others what God hates and help them live it out like we've learned to live it out.

It's a start!  Let's do this.  Let's take the above truths to the streets!

(₁) 2 Timothy 2:17
(₂) Proverbs 6:16-19

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Entry #13 (1 Peter) - What the world needs now is love, sweet love

Processing 1 Peter 2:13-17
As I was reading and processing these verses from 1 Peter, a song from the 60's started playing in my head. The song? 
Just in case you weren't alive in the 60's, there was a lot of tension, rioting, and disunity here in the good ole USA.  Much needed to change, frustrations were high, and many took to the streets. Peaceful protests quickly turned violent.  I cannot even imagine what that very volatile time would have been like had social media been thrown into the mix.
The scenes from the 60's were much like the ones we've witnessed the last several years.  This past weekend, we watched as a protest in Charlottesville, VA turned violent.  Since then, we've listened to the news commentate, politicians proclaim and much ranting and raving via social media. I sit in sadness and horror as I listen, read and watch and I wonder, "Lord, what do I do?"  "What can I do?"
As the Lord would have it, I am currently studying 1 Peter and the answers to my questions were waiting for me as I opened my Bible this week.  Love it!
God used 1 Peter 2 to remind me that I do "something" by doing what is right (a/k/a/ good deeds).  I am to keep my behavior excellent. What did excellent behavior look like then and what does it look like here and now?  According to God, excellent behavior looks like:
  • Submitting to authorities
  • Honoring all people

There is more - so much more, but these two behaviors, in light of what's going on in the US, really hit home. I understand we live in a post-Christian culture, but a Christian call to action - to keep our behavior excellent - can make a difference!  I believe this because God says that in doing right, we silence the ignorance of foolish men.  In doing right.  Not in taking to social media to rant, rave and blast our authorities or give our opinions on the political and social climate.   But to do good works.  We keep our behavior excellent for the Lord's sake and because it glorifies Him and silences the foolish. These are powerful motivators for us to answer this call to action.

What the world needs now is love sweet love. What could love, sweet love, look like today? Honor all people.  Yep, some love sweet love the world needs now.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Do it again daddy, do it again!

At 3:30 this morning, I crawled out of bed, put on my flip-flops, grabbed my pillow, fixed a cup of coffee, and went outside to watch for meteor showers.  I had already arranged two chairs so I could put my feet up and tilt my head back.  The chairs were facing north and the seat cushions ready to put on.  So, I was able to get into position and comfortable fairly quickly.
As I was giving my eyes times to adjust, I think I saw a one or two faint streaks which could have been meteors.  Or, it could have been my eyes playing tricks on me and my wishful thinking.  As I sat there waiting, I wondered if I missed some when I looked down to sip some coffee.  I also wondered if they'd be so far away and faint that I would wonder the whole time if I really saw meteors.
Then it happened.  
One streaked across the sky that was so bright I declare it's tail sparkled.  If it wasn't a fireball, it's the closest thing to one I'll probably ever see.  It was so spectacular that I said "oh it's so beautiful" out loud!  And, I told myself at that moment, that sight made all this effort worth it.
In that moment I was satisfied.  But, that glorious moment also left me wanting more.  Those two emotions at the same time fascinated me.  Anyway, I felt like a child whose daddy had just delighted her because my heart was saying "do it again Abba (daddy) Father, do it again!  
So, I sat there waiting and watching for the wonder because I wanted more. All in all, I saw twelve or so streaks across the sky and even got to see a satellite crossing over.  More spectacular was what God was doing in my heart!
As I sat there for a few hours waiting for more, I prayed, I worshipped, and I wondered.  Mostly I was in wonder because the heavens truly do declare His majesty.  But still, I wondered...
When I would come inside for more coffee or look down to sip what I had, I wondered how much I was missing.  It made me wonder about all I had missed all those times when my eyes were not fixed on my Jesus.  I wondered what I would do and how I would respond if I saw the "heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56).  I wondered why I kept wanting to see more.  I wondered why I was a little disappointed that the next time and the next time wasn't as glorious as that first time - that first sighting.  I wondered about so many things.  I even wondered about why I started losing my wonder.
The longer I sat there waiting, watching, praying, worshipping, wondering...I noticed that in between the sighting I started getting bored.  I had to intentionally focus.  In that moment I wondered how many life application sermons that would preach!  At some point, my next door neighbors outside light came on, and they let their dog out.  The activity distracted me.  The longer I sat there, the more distracted I was getting.  I was aware of just how uncomfortable was the position of my neck and how the dew had settled on my skin, hair, and cushions.  At one point, my stomach started growling.  Seriously?  
These distractions were annoying me.  They were messing with my ability to remain in awe and wonder! Well, I'd had my moments.  Maybe it was time to just give up and come inside.  Oh, how I wondered how many times have I gotten distracted and given up, stopped looking up, and lost my awe and wonder.  Sadly, too many times. I got up, fixed another cup of coffee and determined I would stay until I could no longer see the stars. Until there was nothing left to see.
I saw a few more meteors fly by after that. Nothing spectacular but I was ready just in case God decided to scoop up a few of those meteors in His hand and throw them down like some spectacular fireworks display.  He could do it, you know.  
The real wonder in those few hours is how God took His word which I had studied and hidden in my heart and through His Spirit brought it to remembrance. I could see with my very own eyes and experience for myself the absolute truth of His word - for me personally.  It's also a wonder how He took His word and what was going on in my mind, heart, and body to reveal to me things that go on in my life spiritually and in my relationship with Him.  God blows my mind.  Every focused and intentional moment I spend with Him leaves me saying...
Do it again Daddy, do it again.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Entry #12 (1 Peter) - I am an alien

Processing 1 Peter 2:11-12
Immigration, aliens, assimilation, integration....  All are hot topics these days.  Thanks to all political and Facebook posts, I see and hear the word "alien" a lot.  And, each time I see or hear it, I think it a strange word to describe people.  When I think of an alien, ET comes to mind.  Thus, the silly Snapchat picture.
As I read what Peter writes to those of us who call ourselves Christ followers, the passages hit me in an entirely new and fresh way.  First, Peter calls us Beloved.  Next, he says we are aliens and strangers.  Attention:  I am a beloved alien!  My eyes locked in on these words and I couldn't go further. I had to hit the pause and ponder button.  I've been processing these words and their impact all week.
As far as my US citizenship, I am not an alien. When I hear this word on the news, I don't identify.  So, when I read Peter's words, I had to adjust my thinking.  He reminded me that I am an alien and a stranger here in this world.  As I paused, the Spirit brought these Scriptures to mind.  
  • "For He (Jesus) rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son..."  Colossians 1:13
  • "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ..."  Philippians 3:20
  • "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household..." Ephesians 2:19

America is my physical home, and as a citizen, I pledge allegiance to my country.  But on a spiritual level, I've been transferred from the kingdom of darkness (the world ruled by the devil) and into the kingdom of heaven where Jesus is my King and my Lord.  Because of Him, I am now a citizen of the household of God.  I love the good ole USA, but it's a kingdom of the world and not all US citizens are citizens of heaven.  So, it is true...
I am an alien.
As an alien, I should look and act very different from citizens of the world.  Okay, so the silly Snapchat picture is taking it a bit too far.  But, listen to what Peter says:
  • "Beloved, I urge you, as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the things in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."  1 Peter 2:11-12

I am a good kind of alien!  Because I am here to do good and my behavior to be excellent.  Peter pretty much takes the rest of the book to explain how as an alien I am to act and what I am to do while here.  If I get it right, the citizens of earth may glorify God when He comes.  It, this alien behavior, will also ensure I don't blend in.  I should look and act like the alien I am.  I imagine some will run for the hills and others will welcome me with open arms, eager to learn about the kingdom of heaven.  Either way, I'm left here with a beautiful purpose to fulfill and mission to accomplish. Until I am beamed up (so to speak). 
I am fairly confident that in many ways, I've tried to blend in.  Oh Lord, take Your word and do your work so that my behavior will be excellent and You will be glorified.
I can't wait to continue my study of alien behavior.  Hint, hint...the very first word of the next verse is SUBMIT.