Humanity’s Problem With Love

If you have not read “Humanity’s Problem With Faith”, this is part two of the discussion. For the sake of clarity, when I mention love, I mean God’s love. For more on God’s love, read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

I have previously discussed how humanity has a problem with faith, because of a lack of understanding where faith comes from: God’s love, which we must adhere and listen to. Yet, while I may draw from the root of love, to consume the fruit called faith – I still need to learn how to digest it. Humanity is capable of making itself sick, just by questioning where their food came from, and this I do want to speak about from a spiritual context.

What is love? Biblically, love is one of the defining characteristics of God, after light (1 John 4). God’s love is a starkly prevailing theme in the Scriptures. I would contend it is because it is the most controversial for humanity, and God wants to get our attention concerning it. We are bombarded with different definitions of love from many sources – summon Hollywood, our emotions, psychology, music, neuroscience, Shakespeare, Netflix, and Instagram posts, just to name a few. Just like I have referenced in other writings, I believe the most defining characteristic of someone’s life, is their understanding of who God is; subsequently, this causes someone to be introduced to who THEY are (Matthew 16:15-18).

What do I mean? What I mean is that having exposure to God’s love causes us to look inward and that is one of the greatest hang-ups many people have – themselves. We can reject God’s love from own soul and spirit, when we become the primary advocate for all of our own supposed “unlovable” self. It is easier to observe in some more than others how much they think they’re unlovable, by the way they speak. Remember how we discussed that faith is a fruit of love? Well, our words are the fruit of our faith. It must be faith in God, which we possess. Even so, the Scripture affirms this when it says that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Proverbs 4:23). If there is a lack of love in our hearts, there will be a lack of love in our words, towards ourselves and others. This, affecting our relationships. What will happen with the revelation of allowing God to love us and loving ourselves with HIS LOVE, is that we will love others with His love (Mark 12:30-31).

But before we get to the far-reaching impacts of God’s love, how do we receive it in the first place? I mean, we can have quite a close relationship with our biggest faults, flaws, and foolishness. This is the critical thing. There is an element of God’s love that crushes the convenience that humanity seeks. It is called surrender. God’s love requires humanity to surrender a person’s opinion of themselves at the feet of Jesus Christ. It goes hand in hand with why people do not believe in God or become closer to Him, they do not understand God’s love as a result of not surrendering their self-view.

If we viewed ourselves how God views us, we would literally change our world. Nothing and nobody would stop us. We would become spiritually invincible, as we would allow the grace, mercy, and peace of God to multiply in our lives. THERE IS a way to grow in God where we can GUARANTEE our maturity and salvation. The Scriptures remind us to make “our calling and election sure”, because if we do, “[we] will never stumble or fall” (2 Peter 1:10). Moreover, “great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). Here’s another, “whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). There is affirmation after affirmation that if we surrender our priorities, mindsets, and affections, concerning self and those things around us, we are SEALED to become who God wants us to become. Peter makes a point that we are no longer subjects of mercy, but OBJECTS of mercy (1 Peter 2:10 Wuest’s New Testament). There is a heavy sense of personification of God’s blessings in our lives when we give ourselves to Him. That person being ME AND YOU! If we would view ourselves in light of the fact that God used the cross to get our attention, and He is wanting to position us for a supernatural relationship with His infinite self, we would BELIEVE what He says. This revelation of love and surrender is what troubles humanity. But does surrender really sound that troubling understanding that He paid the highest price for us? He has proven His great love.

While we would yet live our own ways and reject Him, what a demonstration on behalf of God to love us and die for us! Even if love may be a risk, God took the greatest risk anyone could ever take by surrendering His own humanity through Jesus Christ. This is a challenge towards us all. Jesus surrendered His humanity as a demonstration of love towards us. Could we do the same for Him?


This is the invitation God makes to every man and woman. He wants us to surrender our humanity, our weakness, our opinions and perspectives in order to get ahold of His Divinity, His strength, His Truth and His views. Let us win the victory over humanity’s problem with God’s love.

Fog or Cloud?

“How are you?”
“I feel like I’m in a fog.”

I overheard a conversation start like that many times, but the response given this time sparked something in me that I couldn’t shake. The answer was coming from someone going through a tough time.

My heart crumbled a little bit because I know that feeling. It creeps on you, subtle but very much present; a fog will make you feel isolated, confused. It will rearrange your priorities. It’s not a nice cozy feeling, but one of bewilderment as you stumble forward, you try and remind yourself that you worship a living God that is in control despite the fog. The brief conversation also reminded me of early morning drives down my street, from home to school, when thick, crisp, lightly humid fog covered the still lakes and dewy, grassy spans pouring into the cold and quiet asphalt streets. Fog understood no difference between the lakes and the asphalt. It was interesting that fog had stirred different feelings in me. The difference seemed to be that the “negative or vague” fog was something I had picked up in literature but the child in me was intrigued by fog and celebrated it because I knew I had to soak in the experience of it because it wouldn’t last. Then I wondered, what does the Bible have to say about fog? Want to know the answer?

Nothing.

I had to search the word fog in different versions from the KJV to find one solitary verse, James 4:14, in the NLT version uses the term fog to describe what the KJV calls “vapour”. Basically, the term as we generally know it, is not used in the old language. What is most commonly used is the word cloud. Cloud!

In Genesis, He set a rainbow in the cloud as a reminder of His covenant with Abraham. In Exodus, one of the most evident revelations of His presence in the lives of the Israelites as they leave Egypt behind is that He “…went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud…”
Over and over, from Genesis to Revelations, a cloud would descend, appear, lead, cover from harm, disappear, remain until. It actually blew my mind how much the Bible mentions a cloud. It also convicted me. It stirred in me a lesson I had listened to about our attitude in the midst of trials or life in general. The more I read scripture involving clouds the more I realized that whenever a cloud appeared, it was God-sent.

Exodus 13:22 says ”He took NOT away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people…” Imagine being in the Israelite walk-a-thon and there’s a cloud before you and that’s all you can see. You’re being told to trust and walk. Don’t look back to Egypt. Then, things are dicey and the Lord’s presence descends on a mountain as a cloud with a rumble so deep that it shakes you to your bones! Conviction sets in. You can read about that in Exodus 19 where the cloud is even described as thick. The tabernacle is built and the Lord consistently presents Himself in this form. A cloud. Evidently moving by itself. A cloud. It fills the mercy seat. A cloud. Covering you from seeing past it and anyone seeing you in the midst of it. What I saw at that point is that God in His desperate love for them created a way to envelope His people without smothering them! Holy covering.

God put my attitude in check at this point for my own circumstance.

Am I in a fog or in a cloud? Yes, I understand a fog is a kind of cloud! But, am I going to continue to buy into the perception of this world that a fog is plainly a state of not knowing what’s ahead or that it’s a blurring of reality because I’d rather not know? Will I hold on to confusion even though the word clearly states in 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…” Or, am I going to get a hold of His promises of peace, grace, hope, strength, and faithfulness? Biblical verses on these abound! Colossians, Galatians, Hebrews, Peter even writes in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast our cares on Him because He cares. Will I truly take up the promises that have been given to me and embrace the cloud of the presence of my living God? Will I proclaim that He is my reality or fold under the pressure of wanting to know the unknown?

If God, Jesus Christ, has me in a cloud, I will trust that He is not only keeping me from seeing ahead for my own good but He might even be covering me so that my enemy can’t see where He’s taking me. I must believe. And if I believe, I must choose joy. I must glorify my Creator, Comforter, Father, my King. He must be exalted. He has been so good to me.

When fog happens, if my heart is in the right place, it should remind me that heaven came down. The Lord is in this cloud. His embrace is a breath away. I can dance with Him in this cloud. I can cry my guts out until my lungs are on fire. I can allow Him to lead me. In this cloud, I must continue moving forward when it moves and be still when it stands still. I learn to be sensitive. I learn I’m in a need-to-know basis and that’s perfectly fine because He wants my trust. I learn to hold the hand of my brethren and pray for their need because we are one body. I practice being patient. I practice being humble. I practice loving and being loved. I praise Him. I worship Him. The King of kings is in this cloud!

“So, how are you?”
“In a cloud! Praise the Lord!”

Same Gift. Different Administration.

Fellow Young Minister,

Merry Christmas! I hope its going well for you on the road. I hear traveling weekly and preaching can get pretty lonely and presents its unique challenges. People are expecting you to show up with the same results everywhere you go, yet each church you’re with has a large variety of differences that show up. Talk about pressure. We know, its only pressure if we let it become so. But, I remember you mentioned how you felt the people expecting you to preach a certain way, because you are an evangelist; which typically means people are going to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, be baptized in Jesus name, miracles and healings are going to show up. Despite the expectations of the people, you mentioned you went ahead and followed God’s Spirit and there was demonstration of the Spirit and of power. This letter is not about the definition of demonstration, but I’m thankful for how you said that you focused on just “doing the will of God, and staying in your lane”. That really went a long way with me. I decided to look into the office God has appointed for you, from a biblical perspective, and the subject became bigger than I thought it would be. I have other friends called to the same office and became very intrigued, because while the Spirit and gift is the same, the administrations are different (1 Corinthians 12:1-4).

In Acts 8, Philip, biblically-known as an evangelist, went about Samaria preaching to people who had not heard of Jesus, having miracles and deliverance confirm the preaching (Acts 21:8). Likewise, people were being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, but no one was receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We don’t hear of Philip getting frustrated over why none were receiving the Spirit, he simply sends word for Jerusalem to send Peter and John. These two apostles show up and Samaritans receive the Spirit. EVERYONE rejoices.

There are a few things I want to denote before going further. Philip ACKNOWLEDGES that there is still a need not yet met, that another individual is gifted for. In the same manner, when people receive the Spirit after Peter and John show up, we don’t hear of Philip thinking he’s a good-for-nothing evangelist. It doesn’t stop there. An angel speaks to Philip to pack his bags and go to a desert where he finds ONE man, an Ethiopian eunuch. He proceeds to preach Jesus to this man, who reads the Scriptures, and baptizes the man in the middle of the desert. Then, God literally translates Philip to another region, like straight out of the movie “Jumper”. What’s astounding to me is that Philip is fully confident in his office and gifting, whether or not he was ministering to a whole region, one man, people received the Spirit, or people were being baptized. I wonder how many places Philip would be “invited to preach” nowadays, if no one ever received the Spirit where he went. Nevertheless, God would speak to him and Philip would listen. Peter had his place. John had his place. Philip had his place. ALL were effective.

Allow me to take this further. You know who else was gifted as an evangelist? Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5). The Scripture emphasizes that Timothy needed to be intentional about making “full proof” of his ministry. Yet, we discover that Paul had STATIONED Timothy in the region of Ephesus (1 Timothy 1). So how does one make full proof of their ministry, as an evangelist, when you’re stationed? We see here that the office of an evangelist isn’t limited to an “itinerant preacher” that’s invited to church services. Paul fully expected Timothy to appoint elders at Ephesus and still grow as an evangelist. It is for this very reason, I believe that Paul told Timothy to “not neglect the gift” that was within him (1 Timothy 4:14). Biblically, evangelists are individuals that are gifted for bearing the good news to SINNERS, not saints. Many times, we call traveling preachers evangelists, when they really may be operating as an apostle, prophet, pastor, or even teacher. I have witnessed young ministers become frustrated or skeptical of God’s gifting for them because it was not administered in the same manner others administered their gifting. They felt called to be an “evangelist” but never had “preaching opportunities” show up. Consequently, they felt like the bible studies they taught, souls won, and evangelistic equipping done in the local church weren’t good enough for a phone call to preach somewhere else. When in fact, it was the most terrifying thing that young evangelist could do to the kingdom of darkness in their hometown – and more importantly, to glorify the name of Jesus Christ.

Scripture talks about the “same Spirit” distributing “manifestations”, “administrations”, and “ministries” to every individual in the church (1 Corinthians 12). I would apply this principle to the five offices in Ephesians 4, as well. The same office, but a different manifestation or placement. BOTH just as effective. All evangelists are traveling preachers, but not all traveling preachers are evangelists. Whether or not traveling takes place right down the street, you’re traveling towards the destination of a soul’s heart, in order for God to intervene where they are at. I love how the Lord has such diversities of gifts in His body, and ALL MATTER. Paul talks about how the “unseemly” and overlooked ones end up mattering the most (1 Corinthians 12:23). It gave me so much encouragement to find this out, because our Lord really has a part for all of us to contribute through. Likewise, I am grateful and excited to know that I will continue to see God glorified in the manners He is through your life, in the years to come. It may be that you are in the same place Timothy was, in 20 years from now; but, God won’t be done doing marvelous things through you.

I suppose I can end this letter with saying, we’ve all received gifts from Jesus on our spiritual Christmas, and we rejoice that though our administrations may be different, the gift and Spirit is one and the same. Thankful to be partnering with you.

Merry Christmas!

When God’s Revelation Messes With My Theology

God and I don’t always agree. But He is always right. There are plenty of factors that can contribute to our perspective of God and the supernatural world. For many people, it’s Stranger Things, Halloween Horror Nights, Bill Maher, or even politics. In fact, just about anything can affect our view of the unseen world because the things that we see with our eyes are made by the things we cannot see with our eyes. That truth and fact is first declared to us in Hebrews 11:3, before it’s ever mentioned in a particle physics class.

Consequently, there are places and truths in and from the biblical God that mess with my theology. There is an all-out war for what occupies our minds, because what we think about becomes our priority, and our priority becomes our investment. Whether or not those investments are healthy, these are the external fruits of our internal roots. I would contend that our view of who God is, is the single most influential factor that can impact the way an individual lives their life. The goal, although, is to match my view of God, with God’s view of Himself.

Ever thought you knew somebody because of what other people said about them – only to find out that it was extremely skewed? How about somebody you just met telling you, “I’ve heard so much about you”, all the while you’re wondering what that means.

Even Jesus faced this with his own friends and closest followers. He asked them who did others say He was, and people started throwing shots in the dark. Some confused Jesus with another family member, others said He was a lonely preacher, while others just labeled Him a usual prophet. In His humanity, I could imagine the thought coming across His mind, “Seriously?” Then Jesus proceeds to ask, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, one of the more vocal followers, speaks up and says, “You are the manifested humanity of the abundantly real God.” What a bomb. Jesus praises Peter for his accurate response, then a few moments later, lovingly slams Peter for thinking that he knew more than he knew.

I believe this can also happen to us more often than we think, where God’s revelation messes with our theology. I like to see it this way, there is a Jesus that I don’t know yet. Yet, the one I know doesn’t contradict with the deeper understanding I have yet to attain. It is a journey to know who God is.

I believe in God’s grace, mercy, compassion, righteousness, love, holiness, and a ton of other characteristics. I would even say I know them and of them – but not in totality. Why is this? Because of my human frame. Ask your electric company to connect the plant to your house without the use of any transformers and tell me what happens. Transformers are what allow electrical energy to get to our homes without burning them up like a piece of paper. I love the way the grace of God works in people’s lives but I truly don’t know the infinite ways it TOTALLY works throughout the many aspects of a person’s life. The reality of our limited understanding should make us in awe of Him and His grandeur, yet inspire us all the more to know who He is in His accessibility.

I remember meeting a large-framed man at the gym, who looks like a bodybuilding samurai version of Steve Aoki, and beginning to talk about God. His name is so fitting: Samson. He started asking me why Jesus didn’t show up to him, to which I responded along these lines, “Why don’t you ask Him to?” I’m telling you, I’ve never seen an intimidating man like him at a loss for words.

He said, “Well, I don’t know about that.” Evidently, he hadn’t tried. I said, “Are you concerned He’ll actually show up?”

“I don’t know,” he quizzically responded.

I have found myself in that same kind of place, where God’s act of revealing Himself to me in a new way, required my vulnerability. I believe God delights in messing up my theology, or “God-opinion”, because He likes to keep things fresh. Somebody once said, “opinions are like noses, everybody’s got one.” And someone else said, “and they smell, too.”

Everyone is a theologian, with an opinion of what God is like. I’d rather get to know God for who He says He is. If I’ve got to change my theology to find out that His grace empowers me more than I think it does, then let it be unto me. If I’ve got to change my theology to recognize that He’s more holy than I think He is, then let it be so.

I want to know Him, don’t you?

The Thought Highway

Traffic.

Something MANY of us can relate to.

There are just a handful of things that help us get through traffic. For me, it can be a talk with Jesus, a podcast, or a throwback song.

I like to think about my thought life as getting through traffic on a thought highway. There are moments where you have that reckless driver that causes you to become a vicious wolf, or there can be that bubbly person on the phone, with their car speaker so loud you hear every word – yet it brings a chuckle to your heart. There are so many things that can run through our mind, that move a lot like traffic.

There is that one person who is in front of you that just WILL NOT let you go through. This person is a lot like that thought or mindset that is looking for a dwelling place in our minds, and just won’t get out of the way. What we dwell on will eventually determine our actions. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” I have a time or two or twenty, have been close to hitting the car in front of me from trying to get around these kinds of people. But what if I just simply slowed down? It is almost guaranteed that the car is just going to get further. I believe many times the solution to these mental gymnastics is just slowing down.

You may say, “What about everyone behind me?!” – which can be interpreted as, “Life is just jamming my mind!”

Well, there is peace for that. Interesting enough, Jesus told us to “not let [our] hearts be troubled” (John 14:27). Notice the “let” part? We are responsible for what dwells in our hearts. Yeah, something may drive-by, but it doesn’t have to park. This can be an emotional temptation of the soul, which happens with music, mental temptation, which happens with comparison, or physical temptation, which happens with self-immodesty. These are just a few examples.

Biblical peace implies a sense of tranquility (Strong’s Greek 1515). But things must be TRANQUILIZED to become tranquil. God’s presence in our lives truly has a tranquilizing effect on us. But many who do not engage with God actively seek other forms of tranquilizers – be it Netflix binges, unhealthy relationships, Instagram scrolling, or getting lost in Youtube like it’s Narnia, to name a few. Drugs and alcohol can be easy to pick on, but Paul contends that believers should not allow themselves to “be brought under the power of [anything]” (1 Corinthians 6:1-12). God TRULY wants us to live a life of TOTAL FREEDOM.

No troubling traffic…ever.

From this recent Thanksgiving break for the local schools, traffic was really cut back. I had WISHED I wasn’t working from home and had driven to work because of the lack of traffic! How crazy is that?!

Because I believe there is an enjoyment we can all benefit from when we see that progress is being made on a journey where traffic is not our enemy. I have had some amazing times in crazy traffic before, because I focused on the progress, and not the delay. I’ve heard it put this way, “delay is not denial.” In fact, it would even make the time for that evening more valuable. We get to choose whether or not we will view delay as a depreciation of our present or an appreciation of the future. But I will further that thought and say that our present perspective is what actually shapes our future.

I know, traffic is inevitable at times, whether you use Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, or…Mapquest? And people don’t always use their blinkers, so you don’t know what circumstances will throw at you. But we are oftentimes trying to find a way around it, because I believe we want to feel like we are making progress.

Yes, we all will face a flood of challenging thoughts at times. But ever heard of marking email as spam? You can do that with thoughts on the Thought Highway too.

Just a reminder: the enemy of your soul cannot read your thoughts. Here is an extension of that, the devil does not know which thoughts you dwell on that he introduces, except by your words and behavior. You can have progress in your life in times of heavy traffic. Flying cars haven’t arrived yet. But if the treasure of your heart is in heaven, then the traffic of this life cannot deny you.

Humbled or Humiliated?

How dreadful is the feeling where you want to just disappear to where no one sees you? But how awesome is the experience when you are honored to stand in the presence of God, or even highly-respected individuals?

I believe that is a major difference between experiencing humility and humiliation. Humility focuses on the esteem of one uplifting the esteem of another. Humiliation focuses on the circumstance created by one conflicting upon the behavior of another. Notice the difference in complexity?

Scripture demonstrates to us that humility lives in the mind (Acts 20:19). On the contrary, humiliation looks for a home in the soul and spirit (Strong’s Greek: 5014). But both are a matter of perception. If you looked at a pen and placed it next to a military tank, you could easily perceive that while the pen is smaller than the tank, it is not inferior. Tanks can destroy buildings, but pens can destroy nations – and build them for that matter. This is very crucial to understanding the difference between humility and humiliation. Humility empowers us to recognize we are a small piece in a much larger puzzle, but humiliation would cause us to think we are inferior, as one piece, to the process of completing the whole puzzle. Many times, it takes just turning one puzzle piece around a few times to realize that the pattern it holds fits right into everything else. Yet, if the piece was viewed by itself, it would appear to be trivial. Humility comes through seeing the bigger picture, while humiliation comes from the smudge of the smaller one.

When I was in high school, I asked a girl to homecoming. I had a pretty big crush on her; but you know how it is, we didn’t have the same group of friends. So this caused the ever-so-present theatrical hurdle of awkwardness where I had no idea how I was going to go about it.

I’m sorry to say I didn’t think of anything spectacular except simply asking – all the while I had a volcano in the pit of my stomach and tried to breathe the deepest breaths I could. The outcome? I got rejected. I admit, she was very graceful about it. But, that feeling of rejection? Oh dear. I chuckle about it now, but in the moment that volcano got to my head and I just wanted to bury my head in the sand. It took me awhile to realize that the feeling of rejection was really just a product of self-humiliation. In fact, I remember all of my friends showing sympathy about it. Even so, if someone had used that to impose humiliation on me, the only way the feeling of imposed humiliation could evolve into the mindset of humiliation, was by letting me think that about myself.

It was quite an amazing realization to know that I was a gatekeeper of my own perspective. But if we were honest, we would agree that we aren’t always the strongest gatekeepers of our mindsets. This is why the greatest gatekeeper is Jesus Christ at the gate of my heart. He helps me to know how I ought to think about myself. He made it very plain by dying on the cross for me, showing me the value of MY SOUL in HIS EYES. Furthermore, He extends His gift of imparted worth by the channel of His love toward us (Romans 5:17).

Seeing, although, that not only are we loved of God, we are called to love Him and others in return. But the source of that love in which we are called to love with, must be rooted in His character. In light of the sacrifice paid by Jesus Christ, we see that He took on humiliation for us to embrace the humility that comes with receiving His salvation. We can live in boldness and confidence of who we are in Christ, because HIS worth is shared with His people. I heard it put this way, “He put on flesh, so we could put on His robe.” He was humiliated, so that we could walk in His boldness with humility, giving Him all of the credit, glory, and praise due. Don’t be afraid to be boldly humble and humbly bold. Some people are tempted to humiliate themselves rather than be lifted up in pride, substituting one extreme for the other. One very well-known preacher used to say, “For every 1 person who gets lifted up [in pride], there are 10 who are discouraged”. Don’t be a victim of this false dichotomy, choose victory!