It’s been a tumultuous few weeks. I’ve been much busier at work and exhausted, though in a good way, when I get home. On top of this, I’ve felt God prompting me to decrease, and maybe eventually stop all together, caffeine consumption. I was having some headaches that seem to have stopped with the stepping down of caffeine lately. Also, while scatter-brained, I’ve been more physically productive. I suppose I know I have to keep moving in order not to pass out asleep.

On top of these things, God has brought me to some realizations. Basically, I’ve written the majority of what I needed to “get out in the open” through my blog. Questions I’ve had since as early as I can remember have been answered by the Holy Spirit while writing. Things like hell, death, suffering, prophecy, and free will—God has given me answers to in light of his love, grace, and power. He’s also taught me a crucial lesson from this journey—I can’t take others where they’re unwilling to go. Some people will hold stubbornly to what they’ve been conditioned to believe until, if ever, they are willing to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them. I know, I was that person until one day I prayed, from the depths of my being, that I had this relationship with Jesus—no matter the cost. And it has cost me—but it’s a price I gladly pay and would pay over and over again.

Many seem to assume these views, these hopes to help others see a way to freedom in Christ, are an attack on “the church,” God, religion, etc…This is not an attack on those things specifically. Rather, this is an attack on the chains that bind instead. Anything, any doxology, and religion, any view of God, Jesus, or the Spirit, that binds instead of liberates, is what I can’t propagate.

Systems that are based on fear and/or obligation are not part of the Kingdom Jesus established and built, regardless if God’s name is attached to it, regardless if a building is constructed and a steeple erected. Obligation may grow out of love, but it can’t produce it. Obligation only produces a need to continue to be obligated. Without obligation or fear, man-made systems just fall apart. These are poor substitutes for a real love relationship with God and others.

So where do I go from here? God has laid so much on my heart, I honestly don’t know. These are things I can’t necessarily write about, at least at this time, because it seems counterproductive (I don’t know a better way to explain it). I have a lot of material I wrote prior to my blogging days that I may go through and retool. However, everything I wrote was by God’s prompting as he beckoned me deeper into his love. I’m unable to write much of anything unless it is by the Spirit’s prompting. In large part, this blog seems to have served God’s purpose.

God seems to have hinted towards some ventures, but I never know where those hints may lead, and my assumptions have proven wrong often in the past :D. Not really knowing what the next steps are can be a good thing! To be totally at God’s disposal when he directs, not forcibly walking a direction I, or others, might desire, is a beautiful state of relationship to exist in with Jesus.

This is the state of being that these writings have brought me to the edge of (but I ain’t there yet)—a state I couldn’t have imagined over a year ago when I started writing here. This is the place I hope others can begin to find also—the freedom in Jesus to be who we are, to fall in love with Father over and over again every day, and to be guided completely by the Spirit in this amazing journey we call life. This is my hope in everything I write!

Love Story (Love Part 3)

Love Story

If you love me, keep my commandments.—John 14:15
This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded.—1 John 3:23
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”–Galatians 5:14
 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”–Matthew 22:37-40
All of my life, I’ve seen the Bible presented as a rule book. While there are guidelines in the Bible, when upheld as rule based, we end up with a legal document that is researched and parsed to find the minimum standards of conduct to be accepted by God. From this perspective, unconditional love gets marginalized and replaced by a performance based love. This love is shown mostly to those who act, think, and agree with each other. While outreach may be possible from this perspective, it is only pursued with the intent to convert someone to “our” ideology. This intent may not be malicious, but it is misguided. We show people to Jesus’ love, not a list of rules. As I’ve stated before and as the verses above spell out, the Bible is God’s love story to us. When read from other angles, it becomes confusion, manipulation, and chaos.
From the above verses, we can see that even the Old Testament laws were stating this love relationship. Yet, the Israelites only focused on rules to uphold externally. When we fall in love with God, we uphold the law by Jesus’ fulfillment and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. When we only uphold external standards, we often fall, languish, and rededicate in an endless cycle of performance while forcing these laws on others so we feel physically safe and morally superior. Living by the Holy Spirit makes “following the rules” easy and even enjoyable, but that love has to come first, otherwise we will not be able to uphold the law by our human standards as Jesus spells out in Matthew 5:27-47

The Relationship

For most of my life, whether I was inside or outside of a religious institution, I’ve behaved externally to be rewarded with “blessings.” I still see this in some of my actions today, though I’m starting to be able to accept the real Gift. Previously, I thought that if I was a “good” person, God would be good to me in that he would “bless” me with health, money, and the respect of others. Only in my wildest dreams did I think these things would be above normal. I was content just to have the everyday things–health, a few dollars in my pocket, security, and respect from my peers. These were the things I performed for whether at work or in a congregation. I’ve always known deep down that God should be first but couldn’t quite figure out what that was supposed to mean until recently.
Like myself, many today still perform for God’s blessings. I thought that this was the right path and that in doing things for God, he would do things for me. Under the Old Covenant, God established blessings for those who could uphold the Law–all of it (no one ever did except Jesus), and curses for breaking any of it. However, under the New Covenant, God never promises us physical blessings. Many of the people who were following Jesus were often brutally killed. So why would anyone follow Jesus if it just leads to persecution and death? How many today have really taken up their cross to follow Jesus or are just performing for external blessings?
The problem lies in our priority. We place the possible (not guaranteed) benefits ahead of the most amazing gift God has given us–a direct relationship with HIM! That is, even in our lowest, poorest, sickest state, we are in full communion with God. That is the reward. When we attempt to relate to God on a basis of his physical provisions, we board an emotional roller coaster ride that has us happy when we receive something and depressed when we don’t. When we accept and live in that full relationship with God, there are no valleys, we are always on the mountaintop because God is always with us. This is also what Paul conveyed when he was imprisoned.
The reward and primary focus is a personal relationship with our Creator, regardless of our circumstances. Even if we never come into the secondary objectives of physical health, wealth, or notoriety, we can at all times be in that relationship. Even if we are imprisoned for the rest of our life or even executed, our treasures are stored in Heaven and nothing can get to it there.