Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Grace Card

Today I went with my SisterChicks to see the movie, "The Grace Card".

"The Grace Card" is about racism. It is about pain and forgiveness. It is about sorrow, grief, and love. It is about a promise to pray for others everyday, to ask their forgiveness, to grant forgiveness, and to be a friend. It is about grace.

"The Grace Card" is a wonderful movie! It made me think.

Tonight I finished reading the next chapter in Crazy Love. It was some hard stuff.

Now I am trying to process this hard stuff.

I don't think any Believer would want to be considered 'lukewarm'! Scripture tells us in Revelation 3:16 that God will spit us out of his mouth if we are lukewarm. In the past I am sorry to say that I have been through some lukewarm seasons. But I have not considered myself to be in that state for quite some time. . . . now I am not so sure.

Frances Chan gives various profiles of lukewarm Christians in chapter 4 of Crazy Love. As I read these I was convicted of my laziness - my selfishness - my greediness - my superior attitude - my shallowness. Isaiah's words are on my heart, "Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips."

Our study guide for this chapter challenges us to pick one of Frances' lukewarm characteristics to focus on for this week. I do not believe it is a coincidence that one of these characteristics was the main theme of the movie, "The Grace Card", that I saw today. ( Excellent movie, by the way!!!!) The profile for this particular lukewarm Christian is that they love others but not as much as they love themselves. They love those that are easy to love - not those that are difficult, cruel, the 'hard to love', those that are different, those that create jealously in the heart. It is easy to love our friends, our family, those that are like us. But it is not so easy to love those that are different or inconvenience us in some way.

God is speaking to me. I am broken over my selfishness. I have felt inconvenienced and frustrated that I have to give of myself to others. Woe is me! I am a woman with an unclean heart. My heart needs a good housecleaning!

Selfishness and love are complete opposites! Selfishness focuses on satisfying our own flesh and love focuses on pleasing others. Selfishness and pride go hand in hand. They are both self-centered and they produce disharmony in the heart. It is sin.

"If you display selfish behavior with God or your neighbor, God will not put up with you for very long. Because God is a righteous God, He cannot be in the presence of the proud. The proud place more honor on themselves than God. God counts this type of person as wicked and He will not know him. Neither will God put up with a proud person that slanders his neighbor. God will not suffer anyone that has a proud heart against God or his fellowman". Psalms 101:3-4

I need God's Grace.

Lord, I am so undeserving. I have been selfish. I have felt inconvenienced. I am sorry. Please forgive me, Please fill me up with You. May my eyes see what You see. May my heart feel what You feel. May my life reflect You.

I love You for providing for me - I love You for forgiving me - I love You for dieing for me, for rising for me, for saving me. I know that there is nothing I can do or say that is deserving of any of these things. It is Your Grace that makes it possible for me to sit at Your feet. Thank You for loving me. Help me to love others. May I learn to extend 'The Grace Card' to them.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:43

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crazy Love!!

Love and Fear - those two words do not seem to belong together!

What does the word love mean? I automatically go back, WAY back to "Love means never having to say your sorry" - That is really a stupid statement!!! Then I think "Love hurts" - YES! It does!!! Webster defines love as "a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties" - That sounds like a good thing!

What about fear - what does it mean? I think of things I am afraid of - mice (YIKES!!); losing someone near and dear to me; physical pain. What does Webster have to say about fear - "frighten" and "to have a reverential awe of (God)".

Love and Fear - do they fit together?

Frances Chan talks about having a fear of God and not grasping the love of God when he was growing up. He points out that his own relationship with his father played a big part in how he perceived God.

The Love of God! I have met many people who struggle with accepting God's love. That is one thing I have never had trouble doing. I have always held tight to the love of God!! Perhaps it is because of my Baptist upbringing or because I felt loved and accepted by my dad long before I came to know God. For whatever reason, I have always felt like God loved me and known that he would always love me.

The Fear of God! That is something I have felt in the past. If I am honest it has been during my rebellious seasons of life. Times when I was living for me and only me. The fear I felt then was connected to shame. I remember thinking, "I sure don't want Jesus to return now and catch me doing this." How stupid of me!! Jesus knew exactly what I was doing! But when I have been living for Jesus I do not think of fear.

I always felt like these 2 things - Love of God & Fear of God were total opposites.

Until now.

After reading this chapter I see how they go together. Francis uses the term 'reverent intimacy' and he talks about being 'In Love With the One I Fear'. As I think about those 2 phrases I also think about Webster's definition of fear - to have a reverential awe; and the definition of love - a strong affection arising out of personal ties. Putting those together for 'reverent intimacy' is something like - "having a reverential awe and strong affection arising out of personal ties." I have that! I am amazed at my God - He is the Great I Am and He loves me. He made me and loves me enough to discipline me when I need it (which is quite often); He knows the number of hairs on my head and He calls the stars by name. He deserves my reverential awe and strong affection!

Now, for the final part of Chapter 3:

"Do you love this God who is everything or do you just love everything He gives you?"

Ouch! Love hurts! That reminds me of a question I heard in a sermon a while back - If there were no rewards in heaven, no promises of happiness and peace, would just knowing Jesus here on earth as we know Him now, would that be enough?

Hmmm - I have some things to think about.

Abba - I love you. I confess that I have not feared you with reverant awe. Like the song says, "What do I know of holy?" I want to fear you - I want to know you - I want to have more of you. Help me! Help me to value You and focus on You - not the many blessings from You. I am grateful for everything you give me, but I just want to be content with You! I want to be in love with the one I fear - You.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Crazy Love continues

Francis Chan titled chapter two of his Crazy Love book, 'You Might Not Finish this Chapter'. Me, in my ignorance, thought he was referring to the fact that I might not like what I am reading and not finish it. That is not what he meant! He boldly pointed out that I could die at any second and that is why I would not finish the chapter. OH NO! That is not what I wanted to think about!

I like to be stroked - who doesn't?

I like to be encouraged and uplifted - don't you?

I like to feel good about me - isn't that what we are always being told by the media?

But I have been brought before the throne of God in my humility and I am reminded that:

* My life is not about me. I am but a speck.

* I am not the star of my life movie.

* My plans are nothing compared to the plans He has.

"Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:13-14

This chapter took me back to a lesson I heard from Beth Moore when I saw her in Chicago with a great group of girlfriends. Beth was talking about how we act like it is soooo hard to live for Christ. We have this to do . . . Somebody did this to us . . . We don't have time to help with that . . . on and on about how big our life is. In reality and when looking at the BIG picture of beginning to end (not of our life but God's) we are here for such a short time. Why can't we do the hard thing for a short time in comparison to all of eternity?


'Everlasting God'

You are the source of every good thing in my life. I want to keep my eyes focused on you and live this day and every day for you. I want to remember that my life is not about me, but it is about you. May everything I do bring glory to you, not shame or disappointment, but praise and honor.

Thank you for changing my life! I am forever blessed by falling in love with you.