I totally dig Jesus, full stop!! I love that He’s the friend to sinners, heals blindness, confronts religious insanity, loves fallen people, multiplies provisions and heaps more! But what stops me in my tracks is when I see His humanity.
This morning, I read about Jesus in Gethsemane when He tells Peter, James and John that His soul is deeply grieved to the point of death (Matt 26:38). And Gethsemane was on the heels of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, where Jesus wept. This reminds me of Jesus being tired from His journey in John 4, where He takes a pause by a water well in Samaria and strikes up a transforming conversation with the very broken Samaritan woman. And there’s also the time when He was sleeping in the boat when His disciples were freaked out by a massive storm on the Sea of Galilee.
In these common human experiences such as grief, sleep, being tired and weeping, it helps me know that Jesus has walked in human skin. Jesus is Incarnate God: fully God as though He were not man & fully man as though He were not God. I can appreciate that it’s difficult to wrap our finite minds around how that works, but let’s be grateful that Genuine Love walks with us in our daily living and is compassionate with our human existence.
This is a timeless question that maybe every human has asked, at some point in their life. And I suspect that Job, in the Bible, asked this question or some version of it, during the massively difficult season in his life. So do we obey God because there will be good outcomes? Do we obey God to avoid negative experiences? Do we obey God because life will go more smoothly? Do we obey God because it makes us feel good?
Why obey God?
During my life, I have obeyed God for the reasons I just listed and more. Sometimes, my obedience has facilitated good outcomes. And sometimes, I’ve obeyed God and stuff hasn’t turned out like I wanted. So I’m coming to the conclusion that I choose to obey God because I love God and more importantly, I’m loved by God. When I keep genuine love as a core motivation, my soul stays more tender and healthy 🙂
In Romans 8:28-29, there’s a list of things that God says won’t separate us from His love for us, stuff like death / life, angels / demons, etc. It’s a very impressive list & comforting to know that none of these things would interrupt nor interfere with God’s love for us!!
The question then rises, if God’s love for us doesn’t have any gaps, then is it possible that we might let some things separate us from God’s love? Is it possible that we allow things to separate us from god’s Love, stuff like fear, pride, unbelief, busy-ness, worries, relationships, sickness, past memories, unforgiveness. Over this weekend, I’d challenge you to take some moments to inventory your life, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to see what you might be allowing in your life that could cause some obstacles for you to experience & deeply know the Father’s love for you 🙂
Nothing seems to repel us like suffering. Indeed, if we had our way, we’d entirely skip the whole crucifixion thing & leap straight to resurrection.
Maybe that’s why Peter, James & John slept in Gethsemane when Jesus told them to watch & pray, while He travailed in prayer with sweat like drops of blood. I would likely chose to sleep as well rather than watch my Invincible Hero suffer & appear frail & unraveled.
But here’s the best kept secret: there’s tremendous intimacy potential in sharing with suffering. While we follow & admire strength, nothing connects us with someone more than seeing & even sharing in weakness & pain. Some of my best friends have been through the most abysmal experiences with me – we’ve shared in suffering & the bond between us from those experiences has been immensely strengthened.
In Holy Week, today is Maunday Thursday. This is the day when Jesus shared the last supper with His disciples, washed their feet & travailed in Gethsemane. Jesus understands suffering & wants to connect deeply with us, not only in resurrection life, but also in struggles & suffering – the fellowship of suffering: Philippians 3:10-11
I love my family, full stop. Sometimes it’s easier to love than others, but my love for each member of my family is embedded deep in my heart. Regardless of my deep feelings & commitment of love, it’s important that I express this love to each individual & that requires me to pay attention really well. Expressing the love that’s in our hearts is an essential ingredient for remaining connected but how I express this love has to be meaningful to the person receiving my loving expression. So for example, one of my family members really like to hold hands, hug & cuddle. So for this person, I need to remember that love in their perspective is most meaningful by touch. I have another family member who likes to have time & a listening ear, not holding hands as much. So with this member, I endeavor to keep some dates on the calendar to have some one-to-one time.
The premise for loving well is grounded in the 5 love languages: touch, gifts, service, time & affirmation. Let’s learn what is a meaningful expression of love to the people we love so that we can love them in ways that nurture our connection with them! Let’s remember to love well!
Sometimes life feels steep & deep. When I snowboard sometimes I feel like this – the run is too steep & the snow is too deep so I get intimidated & I want to change my mind. But more often than not, I’m already committed & I have to make the best way I can. And truth be known, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is also true for me with God. I want my relationship to be supremely deep & steep:
Deep in that I want to know God’s presence in depths & contexts that exceed any human relationship
Steep in the sense of vertical awareness – God’s presence spanning any level of my thinking & attention.
Who’s with me in the adventure of having a deep & steep relationship with God? Let’s commit such that there’s no turning back!!!
How many ways can I love Brazil? Well, that could be really difficult to count because every day that I’m here, I find new things that I love about this country. Here are a few in my top 10 so far:
people: I’m not sure that I’ve found people in the world so far who are more fun & easy to connect with than here in Brazil. I know that they have jiu jitsu here and that can be pretty intense, but from my experiences so far, Brazilian people are gracious, warm, kind, friendly, helpful, engaging and genuinely hospitable. Brazilians are awesome!!
Son, Fun & Spirit! Getting to minister here isn’t like anywhere else! The people are super responsive, really engaged and hungry for the Bible and the Holy Spirit! And can I say that the worship here is a BLAST!!?!
of course the food, weather and environs are totally WONDERFUL – especially when you consider that it’s supposed to be snowing when I get home
beach – I live in mountains so whenever I get a little beach time, it’s way beyond a double bonus!! 🙂
I could keep going, but I think you get the picture – Brazil is fantastico! 🙂
Over the year or two, I’ve looked in depth at the women who were in Jesus’ life & have been totally blown away!! There is an amazing & totally astounding connection between Jesus & various women in the Gospels with whom He interacted. Some take always that I’ve learned from this 2 year journey with these women & Jesus include:
*women have a very special place in Jesus’ heart
*jesus connects with women on very deep, emotional & heartfelt levels
*the interactions that these women had with Jesus left them changed – some profoundly & some in small ways, but changed nonetheless
*Jesus was never harsh, attacking nor cutting with any of the women in the Gospels
*women in Jesus’ life played very unique roles
Can you pls give me some feedback: would you like for me to do a blog like 1x / week about a different woman in the Gospels? Thanks for your input!!
I’m a big tech fan – I like being able to do things with greater efficiency & sometimes effectiveness, with the use of technology. Its also interesting to chat w my kids about life before the cell phone, personal computers, wifi & all of these wonderful inventions.
With that being said, lets be mindful that technology is a tool & not always the solution. For example, even though we can text, Facebook, FaceTime, tweet, etc, there’s nothing that will ever replace the experience of a real face to face conversation. The same holds true in our chats with God – lets not rely on methods, systems or anything that would substitute for the real face to face presence & fellowship that we can have with God! 🙂
When I was in high school, I used to like some of the Robbie Nevil songs that praised the glories of apathy & indifference (Wot’s It To Ya’, C’est La Vie). I think I liked these songs at the time because I didn’t know how to handle my deep feelings of care, concern and connection for people and the world around me. Sometimes I still feel this way & can get overwhelmed when I think about various situations, Saving Moses, people and events – I’m deeply concerned about what’s happening in Egypt with the instability there.
But just because my feelings can be overwhelming from these various situations, relationships and experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot become apathetic. In my mind, apathy is just a socially acceptable word for passive violence. So what do I do with these things that can easily overwhelm me? Pray.
Prayer is the best immunization against apathy. Pray often, pray quickly, pray fervently and pray all the time.
I just want to take a brief moment to thank you for reading this blog. I know that you have a never ending list of choices for your reading so I’m particularly grateful that you have taken some time with me. Additionally, I especially want to thank those of you who have left comments, who’ve encouraged me & also for those who have subscribed to receiving this blog.
Thank you for going on this journey with me, for your patience & for being gentle. In our cyber world of social media & relationships over the web, thank you for not being judgmental, harsh nor condemning. Thank you for getting to connect 🙂