Recognizing the God Of Love

Truly, what is the purpose of belief in God if the God whose existence that belief acknowledges knows nothing of love, or, more intrinsically, is not itself love incarnate? 

OUR NATURAL STATE OF NEED FOR LOVE

One of the deepest longings we share as humanity is to feel loved unconditionally without criticism or limitation. Many people get caught up in the belief that the source of love derives from within us, as if unconditional love is innate to human beings. But how can this be so if our first desire upon entrance into this life is to have our own needs satisfied? As babies, we are 100% dependent upon parental guidance, provision, and what else—love. Without love and affection, babies don’t survive. Perhaps stated more accurately is how our most innate need is to be loved, but not that love is so innate to us that we naturally breathe it out like God did into Adam’s nostrils, giving the first human being his first breath of sentient existence. What does this matter, why point this out? One of the major arguments of God’s existence today is that He is not a God of love, and if that is so, He must not exist. Where did this distortion come from?

As a sentient race, we are birthed with the malleability to be influenced and shaped by peers, family, culture, and time. When we’re old enough to recognize it within ourselves, we eventually start a search on a road that no one else can pave for us but God. Little do we know, however, that God is the one who paves it, and less likely are we aware when first starting that ultimately it is our need for God to be real which draws our attention to our need for this search.

THE IMAGE OF GOD IN A CORRUPTED WORLD

When considering the atrocities in this world—ranging from poverty to human trafficking and terrorism—evil looks towering and imperious compared to love, forgiveness, peace, or hope. How can the image of an unconditionally loving God fit into the mold of a corrupted world without seemingly denuding the strength of His power like a moth to the flame of the terrors of the world? Or, put differently, how can we claim to see a loving God in full control despite the chaotic state of the world? Very simply, God will not control a human being, but He can soften a heart to listen, and let a person’s heart decide whether they want to join in relationship or resist and stubbornly oppose the invitation into a changed course of action. Basically, a terrorist has the same choice as anyone to deny evil its privileges and to accept God’s command to love and serve others in the name of Jesus Christ. Terrorists, of course, are threatened for their very lives in the face of such a name. The choice then becomes whether or not faith in a man who claimed to be God is worth death in the face of terror, hatred, power, corruption, and the promise of redemption through martyrdom.

GOD’S OMNIPOTENCE

Now, understanding this may help draw empathy for men and women in the face of terrorism perhaps, but it does not justify the results of those who ultimately choose terrorism over faith in a life of love and service in Jesus’s name. How then can we accept the claim of God’s control over the world? Who is control is defined by who is able to dispel evil by delivering justice; not by doing evil, but by acting righteously. The book of Revelations, though intimidating only when it is read without context, is a book filled with pictures of God’s coming wrath, which many wise people understand is the reaction of the love of God—that just as parents would do anything to protect their young ones from harm out of love for them, His promises are to for once and for all eradicate sin and evil from existence. This truth speaks not only of the love of God, but of his omnipotence.

WISDOM AND HONESTY FROM ABOVE

We are desperate to know how such a powerful God feels about evil and wrongdoing:

(Roman 1:18 MSG) But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over the truth.

What is the truth that is “shrouded”? The truth of God’s goodness through Christ, the Good News of redemption through Christ’s resurrection, and the hope of the coming age when Heaven will be the new Earth. A heeding word of advice to the world from God through Paul:

(Ephesians 5:6 MSG) Don’t let yourself get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with Him. Don’t even hang around people like that.

Words of wisdom:

(Romans 1:9-11 MSG) If you go against the grain, you get splinters, regardless of which neighborhood you’re from, what your parents taught you, what schools you attended. But if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up. Being a Jew won’t give you an automatic stamp of approval. God pays no attention to what other say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.

This speaks to terrorists just as it does any citizen of anywhere. And how does God command us to treat our enemies until the day He returns?

(Romans 12:17-21 MSG) Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” 
Our scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

OUR CALL TO LOVE

We are not to carry out vengeance on anyone, instead, we are called to love in the name of Jesus. The command is very simple, though the words land with difficulty when faced in times of temptation or struggle, and excruciatingly trying if we have not found it in ourselves to forgive our wrongdoers the way Christ forgives us. From this we can take away that God is a God who promises vengeance on troublemakers and our enemies, and that we need not encroach upon His promise to do so. The reason why is that we are already to be judged for our own crimes; only God is the righteous judge. In a world full of terror and corruption, poverty, and evil, can we let God have the vengeance while following His command to love others the way He calls us to?

PUNISHMENT FOR SIN

If we cannot believe in a God who loves us enough to die for us Himself in Jesus Christ, then hopefully it will help some of us to remember God promises vengeance on every enemy. Terrorism will not go unavenged. Sex-slavery will not go unavenged. God sees everything and everyone and He hears the calls of those in need. He has not gone remiss, He still loves us with an everlasting love. He loves us enough to let us suffer when He knows He can help us grow as individuals through of the pain, and He loves us enough to be silent at times, allowing us to be aware of our need for Him so we will remember He is a good God when we come running into His open arms.

THE TRUE NATURE OF FAITH

For those of us solely seeking empirical evidence of God in order to prove His existence, we forget faith does not require sight, and we contradictorily demand God prove Himself while we justify our own actions with a morality undefined by anyone but ourselves and a culture as subjective as all the rest. If we do not choose to see the world and look at people through the eyes of God, as we are intended to through faith in Christ—then we will continue to define our lives and ourselves from a limited plane of justification; telling ourselves our justification is legitimate without admitting we are no different from the rest of society telling itself it knows best because “it just does.” Without properly contending the source of morality, who can truly define good or bad? And if we cannot distinguish between good or bad, how can we argue over the existence of a loving God based on whether or not He is good in relation to His ability to love? Truly, if we cannot cross this line without stuttering and stammering, can we really point our fingers at the idea of God and reject Him when we can’t even understand our own argument?

THOUGHTS?

From this article, I would like you to consider the questions posed and carefully examine your current position. The end result could help you understand why your stance on faith in Jesus does or does not make sense, and why. My hope is that with some introspection, prayer, and open-mindedness, you will allow yourself to see these perspectives from a new light, and in so doing, become aware of why you believe what you believe with a stronger sense of peace and confidence. If you have any questions or thoughts you’d feel comfortable sharing, please write in the comments below and I will respond as promptly as I can. I would love to hear from you!

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Blur

Epic Mommy Adventures

Transformed From Within: How We Are Meant To Live

Life is precious. Every breath is significant as any one of those breaths could be our last. That is an exhilarating truth; both an invitation to truly live, and a heeding not to do anything less.

Would you miss the sound of wind rustling through the trees if it stopped? What about the cool, slow ripples through the water of a pond? Feeling the tender, fragile petals of a beautiful flower on the pores of your skin? These preponderances of life are the delicate and ubiquitous complements to existence, and reminders that we are still alive; yet so few of us pause in appreciation of these details, as if they have little or no value.

These examples aren’t all there is of course, God also provided human relationships—the closest relational bond we can have to that of experiencing relationship with God Himself (because we are made in His image).

There are people in this world who are gifted (through time and practice, intention, and humility/surrender of the self to God) at making the best of every situation; pleasant or unpleasant; ideal or less preferred. Oppositely, there are others who dwell in the negative aspects of the same situations, adhering to hedonistic downtime as a means of an escape from the Hell that is life at times of adversity.

For the unbeliever, life on Earth is Heaven since this is as close to an idyllic life as one gets when they deny the existence of Heaven—the promised eternal home for believers of Christ who live changed lives; loving on those who hate them, forgiving those who hurt them, putting God before themselves, and living selflessly in the name of Jesus—denying the world its offer of transient hedonism in exchange for our eternal soul. Under the closed eyelids of the unbeliever, Jesus and the Bible are the most conflicting, confusing message of love, miracle, testimony, and intimacy in the history of humankind.

Furthermore, for many the unbeliever, to believe in Jesus as Lord and to follow Him as such is to relinquish the freedom to live autonomously, and, therefore, to lose the ability to enjoy life. The implementation following this deliberation of disbelief is distorted in two ways that I want to mention. The first, as Timothy Keller intuitively writes in his book, The Reason For God:

This oversimplifies, however. Freedom cannot be defined in strictly negative terms, as the absence of confinement and constraint. In fact, in many cases, confinement and constraint is actually a means to liberation.
If you have a musical aptitude, you may give yourself to practice, practice, practice the piano for years. This is a restriction, a limit on your freedom. There are many other things you won’t be able to do with the time you invest in practicing. If you have the talent, however, the discipline and imitation will unleash your ability that would otherwise go untapped. What have you done? You’ve deliberately lost your freedom to engage in some things in order to release yourself to a richer kind of freedom to accomplish other things
.”

We may choose to allocate our time practicing disbelief, but the freedom that we lose in that is the assurance of eternity; sacrificing the peace in knowing every moment is purposefully spent preparing for the promise of Heaven. Without deliberation aimed in the direction of an eternity permeated with unconditional love and infinite peace and joy, one’s life culminates in deprecation; disappointed that all our Earthly endeavors lead to the dilapidation of time, the ultimate degradation of egocentrism in a world indulging itself with fanatics commercializing humanity’s greatest weaknesses for the admission of our humility, and the downfall of pride in a world seeking purpose while castigating the desire for meaning in life beyond emotionless copulation, soulless entertainment, and the disparaging lies of media and politics.

Yes, believers choose to give up their freedom—in exchange for not living a life full of constant disappointments and without reassurances for any kind of turnaround or comeback. When we believe the comeback to this life is the promise of an eternal home where there is no pain, death, suffering, wickedness, sin, tears, or disappointments—there isn’t much to consider or think about—it’s pretty black and white: Why choose a life of disbelief when following Jesus not only changes our eternal home, but also encourages us to live more fully here and now? Belief in Jesus is entirely incomplete if one believes that faith in Jesus only means “You get eternity in Heaven” without rebirthing their soul in this very moment. Believing in an eternity in Heaven is spiritually lustful when we take the gold without thanking the Miner; living our lives fully believing we are going to Heaven should change more than just where we believe we’ll go when we die: It relieves us of the disappointment of believing everything that happens between now and then is purposelessness in that everything we experience while on Earth is only for here and now. The eternal promise of the Bible is the exact opposite: Everything we do here and now matters in that it leads us directly to where we go next. In other words, if every word we speak, every action we take and decision we make leads us towards Heaven, would we not want those words, actions, and choices to be the very best in the name of the King who provided their route? If not, can we authentically admit that we have faith in what’s to come, or just lust in the idea of receiving what we do not deserve? This question leads me to the second distortion of implementing disbelief: We sometimes think that believing we’ll go to Heaven is the end of the story of belief; but entering Heaven isn’t even the beginning. 

Make no mistake, Heaven is not anything we earned, nor anything we deserve, rather—it is what we are given freely through the grace, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ sacrificing His life for ours on the cross. Heaven isn’t about what we do on Earth, it’s about what Jesus did on the cross. Let me repeat that for emphasis: Going to Heaven has literally nothing to do with anything we could ever do on Earth (as if to prove our worth to God), it has everything to do with Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. This isn’t about shaming us for His death—He chose to die for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to pay the eternal price for ourselves. That is the relief and hope of believing in Christ; not that we get a free life living in sin and then expect Heaven—NO—the hope of Christ is that as a byproduct of having faith in Jesus as Lord, we have hope in what’s to come because of what Jesus did in our place. This isn’t some kind of eternal freebie, it’s a life-changing grace and alteration of our soul substance. Before we have Christ, we are lost in our sin; selfishness, greed, lust, gluttony, pride, etc. When we accept Christ, we become aware of our sin (like Adam and Eve after they ate fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and became aware of their nakedness with shame (Genesis 3:7).), we realize that sin is wrong, we pause in reflection of how we can better ourselves by surrendering to the will of our loving God—who, by the way, literally clothed Adam and Eve Himself right after they had sinned (Genesis 3:21). What kind of God rebukes the sin but loves the sinner all the same? This one does; the God of the Bible.

Do we live our lives in thankfulness that a God like this loves us so much that He came and died for us in the flesh so that we wouldn’t have to pay for desiring lust, gluttony, idols, obsessions, blasphemy, stealing, and killing (among the others)? Not that we live perfect lives, no, but do we live transformed lives? Different than before? Refined by gratefulness, thanksgiving, submissiveness to God, surrender of our will and our desires? That is Christianity; that is rebirth.

When we awake one more time, are we aware of how much godly beauty is in this world, or do we take it for granted? Are we aware that every breath is given to us? When we aren’t suffocating for air, that is a blessing. That is a gift from God. Every time. Do we spend our lives thanking Him for these gifts, or do we spend time taking them for granted and splurging ourselves? This kind of lifestyle is like (in the most rudimentary, basic sense) a parent, after carefully and lovingly baking a batch of delicious, savory chocolate chip cookies, and watching their child stuff the cookies in their mouth and leave without so much as a smile or “thank you”. The parent still loves their child, and I imagine the parent would still want to make more cookies for their child just because they want to see their child take pleasure from what they know their child enjoys, but—where does that leave the state of the heart of the child? Will they go into life expecting everyone to treat them with such consideration and love without thanking them for their generosity and selflessness? If they don’t, and they die one day in that state of their soul, should they be judged as “normal” (“like everyone else”), or as selfish and hedonistic? Does that kind of soul know God? Are they transformed and living a life in thanks for the gifts they are given, in effect leading others towards the same God of love?

How would the parent feel, ultimately, every time they make cookies and the child just walks away after taking everything? Hurt, maybe? How do we expect God to feel when we ignore Him, reject Him, and live carelessly when we get what we want? And yet, a life of closed-minded disbelief does not lead us to a selfless life of purpose, but to a life of meaningless gain and purposeless suffering. Even those who give in the “name of love” do so without giving credit to anyone but themselves; even their “selflessness” is rooted in narcissism. Without giving credit to God, how do we thank the Giver of life?

I urge you to consider these thoughts and, if you’re truly living a selfless life in the name of Jesus, I commend you and urge you to continue shining your light towards Jesus so others will continue to notice that you’re different from anyone else they know for a specific reason. You aren’t the way you are “just because”. The love we give comes from Jesus, or it is meaninglessly selfish. Which kind of love do we want to share; selfish or selfless? How do you define what is selfish and what is selfless? Perhaps this will change your definition of what living in faith means when compared to “living in peace but without God”.

My hope and prayer is that this article opens your eyes to the way God loves us all, and how the way we live our lives impacts not only God’s reception of our thankfulness, but others’ witnessing of His love through our lifestyle and decision-making. The way we treat others matters for this exact reason, and the way we respond to this truth ultimately defines our view of faith, the authentic transformation that comes with that faith (or lack thereof), and finally, the way we lead ourselves to our eternal future— in hope or in fear/ignorance. Where are you today? I pray you find Jesus today, and that you come to accept His grace, mercy, love, and promise of hope in His resurrection from the dead. He did not stay dead—He came back to life, and that is why we all must live a life of worship, thanksgiving and praise; implementing a life of gratitude in the name above all names: JESUS.

Oversight

God Is In Control

All of my hope, all of my faith, all of my trust, and all of my purpose is in Christ, and Christ alone. Where is yours?

When I look at the world today, I have pity—but not fear. I am constantly reminded of the reasons why I know we are called to be the light in the darkness. Here is what I remember—this is what keeps me inspired. May the following words inspire you and nudge you towards the hope of what is to come when you place everything you are in Christ.

There is no status or title in heaven:

“The last will be first and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16).

On Earth, we will have trouble (pain, suffering, affliction, death):

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Our lives are like a mist (James 4:14). Constantly, I am noticing how fast time flies for me each day, as if life has become a race to the finish. But I am unafraid, because:

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

“What if I can’t accomplish my personal life goals?” “What if I never get married?”  “What happens if the world ends before I get what I want?” :

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)

What is most important to you right now? I spent too many years of my life living selfishly, lustfully, ignorantly, naively, and purposelessly. Life is too short for this kind of lifestyle. There is so much room for love; what’s better, there is so much room for Jesus—if you look at the news and the country right now, Jesus fits right in. He didn’t come to Earth when all was calm and happy. Jesus understands life when everything seems upside down; that’s how He spent the last 12 hours of his Earthly life. But that didn’t end His story, and our story doesn’t end with fear.

In the end, what doesn’t matter is who is in charge on Earth. Ultimately, God is charge, even if we can’t experience His full glory yet. And it matters not what people say; God will have the final say. It doesn’t matter how we die; what matters is how we live. It doesn’t matter if people reject us; God constantly invites us back to our relationship with Him. He loves us at full capacity, 24/7, and He never tires of loving us more than we can take.

Be lifted high today, there is nothing to be afraid of. No matter how life looks on the outside, everything is under control behind the scenes. Keep praying, keep reaching out and loving people no matter what the world is doing or saying. Keep forgiving those who hurt you and keep loving those who despise you for finding joy in the love of Jesus. Keep shining your hope and faith into the world, and keep moving forward. Keep going, keep going, KEEP GOING! There no God but one, no King but one in charge. Let this truth lift your spirits and calm your heart. Jesus is alive, and He is going to come back. Until that time, be ready. Love Him with every fiber of your being, and show your love for God to others by giving your time to those in need; listening and not sabotaging; loving and not judging; helping and not harming; praying and not complaining. People need godly love, and when we love others with a godly love, they can tell the difference.

Will you be that difference in the world today? Jesus is calling us to make way for His return. Open your hearts, ears, and mouths, praising God with joyfulness. There is nothing to fear! This is a new day, and God is in control. Everything is going to be alright! In Jesus name!

Overworked

Soaring with Him Ministries

Faith, Fairy Tales, & Our Ultimate Reality

Just as the broken heart takes time to heal, the lost soul takes time to acknowledge the light; understanding that the light even existed in order to believe it was ever in darkness.

When we live a certain way for long enough, sometimes we tend to believe our perspective encompasses all others’ reality. Put differently, some people tend to believe their reality is the one everyone sees and lives inside of. Because of this, we argue over perspectives because we believe ours so earnestly. 

One of the perspectives we have are made up of the concept of spirituality and the soul. An atheist’s perspective is that there is no God, no soul, no Heaven or Hell; no such thing as sin and, for that matter—no need for redemption. Since these factors don’t add up, they don’t make a lot of sense to the unbeliever, whose disbelief stunts open-mindedness and leads to a nihilistic viewpoint, rendering everything as pointless and ultimately culminating in death. With nothing further to look forward to or anything to put their hope in, they live passionless lives and argue over the idea of a loving God because, to the unbeliever, death and meaninglessness make more sense for human life without a soul. This is their reality.

One of the many arguments of the atheist, following the derivations of disbelief, is that the perspective of those who have faith have become believers by the process of convincing themselves of an unnatural reality— that basically, after we tell ourselves enough times that we believe in Jesus, that eventually we just feel convinced by our own words; like a spiritual mantra to rev up our spirit. Many believe that once you repeat something (whether an action or a phrase), it becomes habitual the way anything does through repetition; like a child learning to speak by consistently repeating syllables until words are correctly articulated. Similar to speech and children, adults also develop habits. In this case, our spiritual “articulations” might be considered our strength of faith—since this particular articulation requires faith in order to believe it even exists. The question then becomes: How is teaching someone to have faith different from teaching someone how to put on clothes, chew and swallow; rinse, dry, and repeat? Let’s take a step back to view the bigger picture, and discover the difference together.

Outwardly, learning to speak or to wash dishes can be as mechanical as it is physical; repetition teaches the body, and the movement eventually gains momentum, the rhythmic motion guiding the continuity more than the thinking brain. Eventually, the new reality for the young child is that their speech has become as natural as it is for adults. Of course, by that time, this “new” reality for the children as been the reality for adults for many years. This “advanced” ability of adults to speak has become their reality. 

Unlike the mechanical repetition of an activity like learning to speak, spirituality is not developed by the any repetitive motion of our arms or hands (apart from expressing worship and praise), but with the desire of our heart and soul. How can we train what we cannot touch or see? What kind of push is needed to start the rhythm for the momentum of spirituality? 

The push of spirituality is the desire for which reason alone cannot explain nor be understood by empiricism or pragmatism; an intense desire which is grasped by the soul’s indisputable need for and search of purpose. The soul is an eternality transcending beyond the physical threshold of pain and suffering, of life and death, and when we recognize and acknowledge this reality of the soul for its truth, we will discover that the desire of the soul is the foundation of our purpose, laid in place by the love of Christ before we were even born. To break this down, the push we yearn for—we might call it the “articulation of faith”—can only be found by the heart after it is willing to recognize how worldly remedies (like Band-Aids on a hemorrhage; sex, drugs, alcohol, food, obsessions, addictions— all in the face of circumstantial pain in life) only mitigate our pain without extirpating the source of trauma (the cause of initial pain) with forgiveness, surrender, and restoration. Basically, when we realize what we’ve already tried doesn’t work, we will dig deeper for answers; the deeper we dig, the closer to the truth of the soul we get.

From our soul spawns desire, longings beyond mere food and shelter. We long for something more meaningful and transcendent of our daily rituals. These desires come to us in the earliest shell of childhood where our most precocious dreams of conquering the world and living happily ever after are developed. As adults, we refer to this world of “happily-ever-after” as a fairy tale, and we tend to label a child as naive or innocent for believing in such a la-la land. Why? Fairy tales are typically based in a reality without pain, suffering, malady, or death, are they not? They bring to life for the child what is in their mind, but also, I believe, what is in their soul.

For the boy, fairy tales are his means of transforming into a knight in shining armor, saving the damsel in distress, conquering the world, and changing life forever. For the girl, the story may be finding prince charming, being swept off her feet, and living of life of bliss and harmony. Are these “fictitious” realities not based from the desires of a child’s heart and soul? They truly desire these tales of fantasy. So what is this story, this place, of fairy tales in a child’s mind?

Let’s take a small step back to understand. Of the many fantasies of a child’s mind, relationship is rudimentary but prominent. For the child, the image of relationship isn’t imbued with sexuality or romance, not until years later. However, what becomes of a child’s imagination with regard to relationship later on will vary depending on the direction of those thoughts as influenced from outside sources along the way. Marriage and romance is, and always has been intended to remind us of our intimacy with God; the marriage of Jesus and the church. For the child-becoming adolescent in a non-Christian home where belief in Jesus isn’t talked about, read about, or encouraged—the marriage relationship becomes a fantasy of selfish infatuation; the seed to the desire for pornography, promiscuous sex, and other distortions are planted with or without awareness of such a convolution of true intimacy.

However, when these tales are completed with the pursuit of Christ in our hearts, this relationship is molded not only around our relationship with Christ, but to the place of bliss and harmony described in child-like fairy tales manifests as a new reality, inspired by Jesus Himself as an actual, physical place called Heaven in the Bible (Rev. 21:4, John 14:2, 1 Corin. 2:9, Rev. 22:1-5, Luke 12:33-34, Rev. 21:22-27, Rev. 21: 1-5, and more—). When we leave Jesus out of our reality, our fairy tales of “love and romance” eventually drown in the ocean of lust and infatuation” (reference my article: “Lust: The Darkest Lie About Love“); but when we desire Jesus, our desire for relationship is not founded in lust, but in unconditionally loving another person through our love for Jesus. Reiterated, these fairy tales which start out with the child-like perspective of what romantic relationships represent, eventually mature and parallel our desire for the Lord, complemented by (but not replacing) marriage to a significant other (For more on the desires of the heart, please find two great reads in John Eldredge’s Wild At Heart, as well and John and Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating).

If we have faith in Heaven, and if we can recognize our desires are rooted in Heaven, then what comes next is that our soul originates in Heaven. Would it not follow-suit that these “child-like” fairy tales stem directly from the desire for this place where we were created?

See, the promises of Jesus Christ culminate in a world without fear, pain, suffering, shame, death, or tears. Does this not sound like that of a fairy tale? Furthermore, Jesus Himself told us that we must be like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). For me, this includes the ability of a child to see past the darknesses of this world and to hope for something greater. Is this not what Christ-followers believe in when they accept Jesus as Lord and experience the joy of desiring Heaven on Earth? Does that mean we believe in a fairy tale (fictitious realties), or a tangible, Heavenly reality barely comprehensible to that of the human mind? 

To connect the dots, the difference between teaching the practice of learning to speak (or even brushing their teeth, cleaning the dishes, etc.), and the significance of having faith in God obviously extends beyond the mechanics of physicality and breaches into the metaphysical nature of spirituality; more specifically, the nature of desiring what we cannot touch, but what we can sense, desire, and come to understand through time, experience, and belief. Put more simply, the difference lies in the desires of the soul. In one example the soul is held captive in the stubbornness of illogical disbelief (raised without the invitation to know Christ), and in the other it is extended ever so slowly from skepticism until entirely entrenched in the flood of peace and the ever-transforming nature of faith. 

Let’s be open with each other. Do we want to believe in a reality that is inching closer on the eve of Jesus’s Second Coming—inspiring us to experience a hope this world is incapable of offering? I do. My Christ-following friends do. But I also know many, many people who view the story of Jesus and scoff as if considering the idea of the tooth fairy. I understand that scoff very well. When I disbelieved, I scoffed at everything spiritual. I also scoffed at my deprecation in not having a passion for life; in not feeling or sensing a purpose in my life. I didn’t even want to live. Without any passion, life was meaningless—again, like nihilism. For me, passion is commensurate with faith, because without faith, our endeavors—passions, desires, goals—are rooted in narcissism, where purpose dies and selfishness suffocates the meaning of friendship, community, intimacy, and purpose. In order to live like this, we would have to accept the stubbornness of adulthood while forgetting the open-mindedness of maturity. In this way, I would say children are in fact more mature than adults in that they are able to place hope where others search for a reason to doubt; children find light where others refuse to seek what lies beyond the darkness—into the reality of Jesus’s love for us. 

Where are you today? Do you believe faith in Jesus and life in Heaven is more of a fairy tale than a reality that is possible when declaring Jesus as Lord in your heart? If you don’t believe that this is a possible reality, what is holding you back from wanting to believe in such an inspiring place, and the possibility of living there forever? How does the picture of living in Heaven impact the way you view pain, life, and death on Earth? How does knowing that Jesus died and rose for you so you could live a changed, shameless life impact the way you view His commands to love God, others, and ourselves through our words and actions? How do you think your purpose is affected by these commands? How does all of this play back to your soul and the way you feel towards your life?

My hope is that this article helps you to see that you must desire faith to find purpose in Jesus, and that repetition doesn’t teach faith as it does the method of practices such as washing dishes, brushing our teeth, or learning to speak. Faith requires us to desire the pursuit of our God-given purpose, and our pursuit requires us to believe in a soul, because without our soul, our “purposes” are rooted in narcissism. In realizing this, we can choose to change our ways and live selflessly in the name of Jesus, impacting others’ lives for the best in Jesus’s name; or continue to live the same lives, allowing others to see us the same way they see the rest of the world. So, do you want to make difference, or just fit in? All of these choices draw us back to whether or not we believe in our soul purpose. I hope you join me in passionately pursuing Jesus, aiming to change the world with His love running through our veins, emanating through our thoughts, words, actions, desires, and adventures. There is so much to be done.

Where does your faith look like today? 

If you like what you’ve read here, and you would like to read more, please follow my blog and pass word along. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LPBlog2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please share this with anyone, and feel free to write in the comments below–I would love to hear from you! May God bless you!!

Invitation

The Light That Shines In the Darkness: Part 2

One of the responsibilities of being an effective writer is learning to reach your audience, and a part of that responsibility is recognizing who your audience is in order to reach them efficiently and purposefully. My audience, as you may have come to know, must be open-minded, vulnerable, and willing to think outside the box. You don’t have to be a believer of Jesus, nor do you have to be an unbeliever. You don’t have to be a certain age, although I think it helps to be mature enough to consider these subjects. 

The reason for this thought is that I have had to consider the needs of the readers who would benefit from reading from a blog such as mine, and what I have come to realize is this: Being how my blog is an amalgam of self-help and Christianity, one must desire to be helped, and one must be open-minded enough to enter the discussion of faith, Christ-follower or otherwise, if they are to glean something useful from my writing.

On that note, I would say that I’ve come to understand something else as well. What strikes me is that my writing would be beneficial to someone open-minded, vulnerable, and willing to think spiritually complex, but only those who are looking to be helped in those regards. What that means is there are a plethora of people in this world who do need help thinking more “outside the box,” who would benefit from considering faith, but most importantly–are looking for that help. Those who aren’t looking—and here’s the key point—aren’t reading about it. My words aren’t reaching people who need these articles to give them an encouraging nudge, a push in the right direction, a mental/physical challenge to get them out of the place they’re feeling too comfortable in—because they’re not on the search for something they don’t feel they need help with.

That means, those who read this are hoping to find something. You’re curious, you’re open enough to search for an article related to your quest for answers, and you’re wondering if what I have to say will fit your inquiry. What that means, is… you will now have knowledge that people who aren’t searching for answers directly will not have, and that means you are the bridge between them and that life-changing information. The difference is that, while they aren’t going online looking through blogs to find knowledge or wisdom, they know you, and when they talk to you, you have a light about you that they don’t have yet. That “light” is your desire to find hope (or it is the hope itself), to find answers; to not stay stuck in your hopelessness. 

My hope—why I even have this blog—is to shine the light of Christ into the world of people who do not yet have Him, but who are searching for the answer to life that He is. When people talk to you, specifically those who aren’t searching for what you are searching for—they can see the bridge between what they don’t know and what they don’t think they need. That bridge, that hope, opens their (spiritual) eyes to see that they don’t have something they need, and the revealing nature of that eye-opening experience allows them to yearn for hope. 

Now, that leaves you to either share the information directly (orally or through writing) when the right time comes to share it, or to share this blog (or another’s blog/book/resource which inspires you and encourages you). When the time comes, you will play a role in their quest, whether or not they realize they need to be on one. We all need this answer, but we’re not all going to find it the same way. Many, many people will not read this. But you are reading this right now. Already, you are one step towards a part of your life where you can move forward with something useful, something significantly better than before, and now that means you have acquired what others need to have shared; otherwise, they will remain in the dark.

See, you are curious enough to read this, which makes you open enough to receive it, and possibly bold and brave enough to actually apply it, whereas others haven’t even taken the first step. Their stubbornness precludes them from taking any step in the right direction; they will continue on in stagnancy if you or someone else like you doesn’t help them. This isn’t an obligation, this is a privilege. The same part of you which is curious, the part which yearns to grow, develop, and outlive the part of you that is damaged, broken, and unhealed—this same part of you can show others that there is something to yearn for and hope in. The fact that you yourself haven’t stayed stagnant is reason for others (unbelievers) to believe there are people out there who do the same, and that is inspiration to find passion in life through purpose in Christ.

Certainly, countless people have discovered the slow, torturous banality of monotony. The others around you who are not yet healed don’t even realize their own brokenness, but you can see it because you have eyes to see. You can hear it in their voices and discern the pain in their words because you have ears to hear (Mark 4:9). That makes you a vessel to help them see and hear. Truly, if you are only reading this, but are not sharing what you learn, you are rescinding so many others’ experience to grow out of their tedious state of desultoriness. You already know how that is; you have been there before. That’s empathy. You can relate to their pain because you’ve experienced their pain before in your own circumstances. But now you can step back and realize with a shift from your old perspective just how different things can be if we can change the way we view ourselves and the lives we’re in. This is not about enlightenment. This is about what it means to have a soul, and that our soul purpose on this Earth is letting others know about Jesus, His love, and His eternal purpose for our souls in Heaven—that, without Him, we have no hope in anything. That is why I write this blog, and that could be the answer you’re looking for. If it’s not, then perhaps you’re asking the wrong question.

Have you ever looked to anything else in your entire life and received a purpose outside of your own desires? Outside of your own selfishness? This is but one of the many ways I know Jesus is the answer: He loved us before we even existed on Earth. He created everything about us, from how much hair we have on our heads to what we’ll desire when we’re adults. To live for anyone or anything other than Him, it’s mere narcissism. There’s simply no eternal point to any of it. In a previous post, I mentioned our preference for chocolate or beer aren’t bad to have, and I hold true to that statement. What I’ll add here is that our desire for anything outside of Jesus is less important. That means, we’ll have many, many things we’ll enjoy in this lifetime, but ultimately, the only thing that we could ever enjoy, that will matter during and beyond this lifetime on Earth, is Jesus.

How do I know? Let me be frank. I used to be an atheist—I was an atheist for most of my life, and when I discovered Jesus and truly learned who He is and was, my heart was changed by Him. He enraptured me with His story and the purpose of His ministry; to be the salvation to the souls of the world by being the Mediator between our sin and God’s love and forgiveness. When I learned this, I fell to my knees in adoration for this man, this God Incarnate.

Once I realized faith had nothing to do with “going through the motions”, saying the same words over and over, repeating prayers out of a book instead of genuinely saying them from my heart—once I learned, in fact, that relationship is more important to Jesus than rituals and religious obligations, such as praying the rosary to absolve ourselves of our own sins**—I came to not only understand and respect faith in Christ, but to embrace the faith as my own; to walk in the light of Christ, meaning, to walk in His footsteps along His path, not making my own footsteps on my own disastrous path. My path, as I discovered along the way of pain and mistakes, leads to spiritual death. But when we “die” to Christ, or when we surrender everything about ourselves to His will and desire His love above all else we become even more alive in Him, inspired and drawn to His liking through faith in His truth: He died and rose again so that we could be with Him forever. This inspires hope: Christian hope. This is the reason people have riveting joy in Christ, joy that makes another person think, “What do they have that I don’t?”

**(I believe praying the rosary is helpful if, by praying it, you close to God, but I believe it’s utterly redundant if you pray believing the rosary itself will save you. Nothing saves us but Jesus. And it’s not praying that saves us—but Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. And He did that over two thousand years ago. The only thing that can save us is our choice to have faith in Jesus as Lord, accepting His love for us and letting Him rebuild our spirits through surrender and choosing to obey His command to love others the way He loves us. Only then are we saved; long, long before we ever begin the rosary, we have already been saved, if we believe in Him. The rosary is only a prayer, and it venerates Jesus, no doubt, but veneration does not save us anymore than talking about Jesus without believing in His Lordship does.)

Nothing, not even death itself, provokes any kind of fear:

(Philippians 1:21) “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

There is no way to lose when living in faith of Jesus. And if there’s nothing to lose, what is there to fear? When we catch ourselves feeling afraid of fear, we are not trusting in Christ, so really, believing in Christ requires us to trust Him, which in turn eradicates all remnants of fear. Truly believing in the hope of the promise of His love destroys all hopelessness, and shines light into all darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5)

You’re reading this, you’re searching for something. My writing can give you clues, thoughts, pieces of knowledge and wisdom for your soul to digest. But you must apply what you learn, and you must share what you gain from the experience. You must inspire others towards that light and tell them the reason for your hope. Hope is not food, nor a holiday, nor a day off, and not even in sex. Our hope is in Christ, and Christ alone. Through Him, we gain, and we truly live. Through Him, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death… fearlessly (Psalms 23:4). Through Him, we are renewed and rebuilt. We must be this light for others to help them find the path of Jesus to walk on as well. We must tell them that this life wasn’t mean to be lived without Him. We must tell them He loves them no matter what, and He always will. In every word we speak and every action we take, we point to Jesus, because He is our answer, and our hope. We must be this for others, so that they will not continue to wander asunder. Jesus commands us to feed his sheep; the “sheep” are the lost. They need Jesus, whether they know this or not. All we can do is shine, love, and direct them to the One who saves. That’s what we’re called to do, that is our purpose, and that is what will matter when we die: Did we believe in Jesus; did we make our faith known to the world, and in so doing, inspire them to the same love that inspired us to surrender and trust in His path, His way, His Truth? 

This is our reason to breath, to move, to live. This is the passion in our souls, and the fire burning to keep us going. Jesus is our everything, or we are only making up reasons as we go. Our reasons or merely excuses for narcissism, because at the end of it all, all the reasons we could ever conjure would only lead to self-satisfaction and pride. Through Jesus, there’s actually something left behind rippling throughout eternity; nothing and no one on this Earth could ever do this so flawlessly but the name that rings through our hearts, whether through admiration or controversy. Only such a powerful name would spawn argument for those afraid to be wrong about their own spiritual choices. Any vocation not inspired by Jesus is an agenda, and it will not glorify Him; it will not matter when they pass. They merely pass as another name in history, soon to be forgotten. But they could pass as someone who drove many to the one name above all names; not to their credit or glory, but for the prospect of making their life something meaningful, purposeful, and worthwhile. 

We only have a vapor’s worth of a life; a mist (James 4:14). For many, that means splurging on sex, drugs, and alcohol, flooding chemical after chemical into their bodies which we aren’t designed to intake, and they sit in that place of malady and discontent, telling themselves repeatedly so as to somehow convince themselves (since the pragmatic and empirical evidence isn’t adequate enough) that their habits are a means to an escape from the reality they are obstinately unwilling to embrace. But that morbid, self-sabotaging choice leads to a disappointing, worthless life of regret, mistakes, and deprecation. There is no success story of someone who tried drugs, sex, alcohol, and “escape,” having lived a life full of bliss and acceptance. These escapes are deviations from the purpose of Jesus in our lives, and without His love, we are already dead and empty. Chemicals won’t feed our hungry souls; perhaps the wise who choose to read this know that the only substance we would ever want to be addicted to is the Word of God. We can’t intake too much Jesus anymore than we can’t be too joyful. 

If you’ve read this, you want something you may not have. Honestly, I don’t have what you need (other than my faith), but I intend to try to point you in the right direction, and that means directing you to Jesus; His love, His sacrifice, and His promise—they are for you. They are for us all. Receive His Truth, apply the message, and be transformed. Be what everyone in this world needs us to be, because no one else has the boldness and bravery of a fearless Christ-follower who walks in the confidence of their faith, and not in the confidence of society, or culture, or religion, status, gender, race, or age; only bold confidence in the miraculous, transformative powers of Jesus, His redeeming love, and His proclaiming Truth. We are vessels, shining back to the God who saves. We are lights shining in the darkness, pointing towards the brightest Light of them all. 

To read more, please follow this blog. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at LPBlog2017, Pinterest at Lance Price Blog 2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please share this with anyone you think would benefit, and feel free to write in the comments below—a prayer request, a thought—I would love to hear from you! God bless you!!

Discover

The Purpose Of Faith: Jesus, Or Narcissism?

COMMON OFFENSE

Everyone gets offended. Whether by a friend or stranger, co-worker or family member, it matters not. As I’ve grown older, I rarely get offended anymore. The difference is in the way I receive what people say. In the past, I cared too much about others’ words, but now I care in a different, empathetic way; I care more about the position of a person’s heart than of the offense they’re trying to cause me.

Interestingly, I felt somewhat offended recently; indirectly, more or less. Not so much me, personally, but my beliefs. What stood out to me was why I felt frustrated because the people speaking were speaking from a place of misunderstanding. Let me explain.

SCIENCE, GOD, & THE BIBLE

Many people cling to this world with all their might and power because they choose to believe there is nothing to look forward to when they die. For them, the last breath of this life is the last moment of their existence anywhere. Not only is that an incredibly unfulfilling perspective to have, it is enormously miscalculated. An innumerable amount of atheists believe science to be the contemporary God, and they are willing to go to any lengths to use scientific discovery as empirical evidence that the Biblical God doesn’t exist. However, science itself aids in the providence of faith. As Leslie Wickman writes in her book, “God of the Big Bang: How Modern Science Affirms the Creator,” God can be found in science; not so much in that science precedes God, but we are finally discovering phenomenal truths about the universe, aiding in the explanation that God and science are not dichotomously at war in the modern argument of God and the Bible, but how they actually conflate through the evidence of each other—God used science to bring about existence, and we have used science to discover that the unexplainable aspects of creation were not formed by evolution, but by the miraculous power of God.

FEAR OF HELL

What saddens is me how many unbelievers claim not to believe in God, but choose not even to explore faith in Him. This tells me they might be afraid to be wrong. I was once afraid to be wrong. As an atheist for most of my life, there were several times in my teens when I wanted to commit suicide, and one of the only reasons I couldn’t go through with it was because I was afraid Hell really did exist and I would burn for eternity. Perhaps some of the unbelievers of today carry this same fear. And, obviously, I empathize. However, to stop there is ridiculous. How can we be afraid of what we don’t know, and then not try to figure it out?

That’s what happened to me: I tried to figure it out. And what I figured out was that no other explanation besides Jesus as Lord makes any sense.

MISUNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE AND HUMOR

For the spiritual antagonists out there, Jesus doesn’t make any sense, He merely instigates useful material for cruel religious jokes. Let me tell you, I don’t laugh at any of them—not because I don’t have a sense of humor, but because the jokes are unfounded, and therefore undermined by reality. To help make my point a bit clearer, the reason non-spiritual jokes we hear in comedies and raunchy TV shows make sense is because they’re founded in empiricism, relatability, and realism. The jokes about Jesus, on the other hand, are founded on assumptions; those assumptions are made by people who misunderstand the Bible, misconstrue its message, get frustrated by their misunderstanding, and then—instead of seeking a knowledgeable, willing believer to explain the message of the Bible in a clearer way—they transfer their misunderstandings into dark humor. Again, that isn’t realistic or empirical, it’s just presumptuous and immature. I don’t make fun of unbelievers’ lack of faith; why do they make fun of a believer’s choice to have faith?

MISUSING JESUS’S NAME

I understand the perspective unbelievers have about Jesus, and the flippancy in which they use His name in vain; I used to use His name in vain, too: before I cared about who Jesus really was (and is), I didn’t care about His name. But as I learned more about Him— why He came, what He offered, how He lived, died, rose, and what His offer means for us even today—His name took on an entirely newfound reason. I don’t use Jesus’ name in vain anymore because I believe His name holds power; frankly, I care about Him in a way that you would care about family. His name to me now is meaningful, sentimental, personal, familial, and deified. I empathize with those who don’t see Jesus this way– because I once saw God and Jesus the way they do. So, why then, if we don’t believe in Him, would we use His name at all? Why, in fact, would we hold such strong negative feelings against Him, if we don’t believe in Him?

PERSPECTIVES OF AN UNBELIEVER

The way I understand it, both from my past experiences as an atheist as well as how I’ve heard it spoken from those who mock Jesus/religion/faith is this: An unbeliever sees a believer and thinks they’re weak to have faith in something they, as unbelievers, consider intangible and fallacious; however, whereas unbelievers see a believers’ faith as weak, naive, or crazy, believers see an unbeliever’s lack of faith as revealing of their emptiness: Desperation for worldly indulgences to fill a void left unfilled by their unfaith. Furthermore, when an unbeliever refuses to believe in God but proceeds to complain that there’s nothing to believe in, their obstinacy comes across short-sighted, stubborn, and uneducated–or, perhaps more accurately–misinformed.

One of the thoughts that runs through my head during the back-and-forth spiritual bantering of an unbeliever is, “Do you not want these stories to be true?” Sometimes I ponder the detriments of disbelief, and one of the most rueful reactions I feel in response to others who don’t see Jesus the way I do now is, despite what they may hear, they don’t want to believe it. But, do they just not want to believe the parts that sounds incredulous—like the miraculous wonders Jesus performed—or do they choose not to believe in His story because of what it might mean for them as individuals; namely, that they have sin?

MISCONCEIVED NOTIONS OF FAITH

I remember as an atheist, I was afraid of being wrong. Meanwhile, I also carried the distortion that I would have to please God–if there was one–in order to receive anything from Him. But, see—that’s all Biblically incorrect! No one has to please God; no one has to believe in His Truth in order to make it true. It just requires faith… and that’s where I get confused when I ask unbelievers about their disbelief. “Do you want Jesus to be the Son of God? Do you want to be loved by an unconditional Father who just wants to spoil you crazy with His blessings? Don’t you want to follow a lifestyle of altruism based on something real and historically empirical as the love of Christ, instead of trying get what you can while you can, thinking this is it?”

What kind of life can we really live in the moment and think, “I’m going to die one day and none of this will even matter.” That sounds like such a waste of life. And while some would say “Then why live?”, I will argue back: “Why not Jesus?” What did Jesus not do for us that makes us think He doesn’t care? What did God do to make us think He doesn’t exist? Would we rather believe there is no God, no Jesus, no Bible, and no Heaven?

JESUS AND RELIGION

Religion is not what Jesus taught, readers—Jesus doesn’t talk about religion; He talks about God the Father, about relationship, about love, giving, and about being blessed by God. He doesn’t ever talk about religious anything. People made that up and that’s why religious babble gets people so exasperated and perplexed. Jesus only cares about relationship—not rules or rituals. He never commanded us to follow rituals. He only showed us ways to be more loving: He washed His disciples feet; He blessed children, He healed lepers; He answered questions with wisdom and love, rather than cynicism and judgment. He did not teach religion, readers. That’s just plain incorrect. If that’s what’s set you off, then please reconsider what you think of as “Jesus, the religion,” and try to think of it as “Jesus, my best friend and Lord.” No rituals, no rules—just the call to love.

God has never stopped loving us, which can be our biggest inspiration to love others. Do you want this to be the Truth of your life, or would you rather join in on the jokes, mockery, and criticism based on misconstrued notions of the Bible? Would you rather judge the Bible, or come to understand what confuses you?

 

LOVED BY CHRIST

I want to leave you with this, readers: Jesus loves you. If you won’t accept these words, my prayer is that your hearts will soon be softened by the Lord, opened to Him who died and rose again, for those would believe in Him. He gained nothing from doing that except knowing He would be giving us the greatest gift our entire existence would ever receive. Generosity and love are His nature. The most important question right now is, if you don’t understand the story of Jesus, do you want to?

My prayer for you is that you will find the genuine curiosity to come to know Jesus, to respect His name, to love the man, to glorify the God He is and was, and to allow Him to renew your spirit. There’s no better life than to have Jesus at the center. Ever since I found myself letting Him into mine, I keep begging Him to come closer. I can’t be without Jesus. My heart just can’t take this life without Him.

Can yours?

CONNECT WITH ME

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Chaotic

Explication Of Christian Love: What It Means To Receive Jesus

Doubt in the purpose and deity of Christ is a prevalent theme in today’s world. Many times condescended by a castigating skepticism, Christianity can become the contemporary joke for modern folklore, reprimanded for its largely misunderstood and underestimated call to love others, as well as to receive unconditional, eternal love from God.

There seem to be several common denominators for this love relationship between humankind and God. Among them, I believe unmitigated disgust with the ambiguity of human purpose is ranked very highly. I believe, at least in part, there is confusion about the message of God’s love, and that the confusion was brought about by the religiously pious—even in the days Jesus walked the Earth. The very attitude which defined Jesus’ manhood and simultaneously set Him as God Incarnate—His gentle, confident, knowledgeable, infinitely loving nature—is what the religiously pious completely lose sight of. In missing this, those who are quick to judge and slow to love, while claiming to be highly religious, have shunned people– generation to generation—from being fully receptive to Jesus’ unabated love. With knowledge comes pride; people learn about God and sometimes grow proud of their understanding. Rather than apply the knowledge, they abuse it, losing sight of the wisdom derived from humility. They forget to extend Godly love to the needy because they forget they are among the needy, themselves.

Unmerited judgment from these theologically confused, pious believers can feel an awful lot like a contradiction of the love Jesus calls us into, and an intrusion of hypocrisy. Furthermore, when someone who claims to be close to God acts in this way, their distorted expression of love defines religion in the eyes of the weary and the lost, and when an unbeliever experiences the haughty of religion behaving like know-it-alls—rather than experiencing unconditional love from someone living in the hope of Christ’s love, the prospect of faith appears to surrender to fallacy; blood-soaked in religious discrimination, which Jesus never taught.

Forgiveness of sins is definitely a hard topic to uncover, but the heart of the issue is that we are commanded to forgive others in order that God will forgive us. Now, instead of jumping to the conclusion, “I thought it was said that Jesus forgives us no matter what?” This command to forgive others is for the benefit of us seeing how detrimental our bitterness is in the context of our relationship to God; in the context of understanding our sin compared to His perfection. God has forgiven us through Christ–IF we receive, in our hearts, that promise through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. His forgiveness is a promise if we receive Jesus’ love sincerely. However, the reception of His promise of forgiveness requires our humility, repentance, and the desire to move forward in His love; away from our desire to satisfy ourselves with indulgence and greed.

Receiving His love does not mean we forget we ever desired to satisfy our sin with greed and indulgences; in fact, we’ll likely fall many, many more times before we see Him again. The difference is that we do not treat our sin with nonchalance and a numbness of spirit anymore. Receiving Jesus’ love means we understand the weight of His holiest promise: eternal life in the presence of God. In understanding its weight, we are transformed by the love that saves us from an eternal life separated from God, and the peace and joy which comes from that promise is what brings our souls to life in a way nothing else ever could. That is the reason why Christianity is humbling: no matter how much we feel the pride of Jesus’ love covering our entire lives, that is NEVER a reason to be condescending, careless, or nonchalant about our words and actions. We can always refer back to Christ, who lived a perfect life, and ask for strength. There is no excuse for us to justify sin when we accept Jesus; only the humility to confess the sin in openness and transparency with Him, and try our hardest to do better moving forward. Pride is justification; humility is striving to do better without so much as an explanation other than “I didn’t mean to cause you harm. Forgive me, I’ll try harder from now on.” The voice of humility is a complement of receiving Jesus in our hearts.

Jesus’ love also translates into the acceptance of who we are as individuals. He always sees every facet of our being; flaws, strengths, the number of hairs on our head, the number of tears we’ve cried, and the number of times we have sinned or will ever sin. And He doesn’t see us with a sigh of disappointment or a loud moan of frustration; He sees us with everlasting love and mercy. Why? What did we do to deserve such fantastic love from the God of the Bible? Nothing. We have never done–nor could we ever do anything. We are loved because He created us to be loved by Him. He chose to love us, and that is why He created us. Think of it this way–parents don’t make babies intentionally just to dispose of them or scoff at them; they procreate so they can spoil the child with love! God wants to spoil us with His love, because we are His children. We don’t always see it that way because we’re busy focusing on everything but His blessings.

These are some of the truths of His blessings:

  1. If you’re breathing without suffocating, it’s a gift from God.
  2. If you can swallow without choking, it’s a gift from God.
  3. if you can move with excruciating pain, it’s a gift from God.
  4. If you can smell, taste, touch, hear, or see the world around you–these are all gifts of God.
  5. If you’re alive–your life is a gift from God!

Think about this the next time you’re sure you aren’t being blessed. And if you are experiencing all of the items in the list above as unchecked, are you being supported by friends or family who want to see you through to your recovery? Are you alone in your journey to healing? If so, your support system is a gift from God.

Please hear me, I do not mean to belittle anyone who is experiencing any kind of pain, or to dismiss anyone’s pain as worthless. My point, and what I would hope you might take from my words–is that God has bestowed us with SO many blessings, we would honesty have to make excuses in order to not give Him credit where it is due. We all experience pain. But we all experience the love of God, as well. He does not leave us empty-handed, even when it may seem like it sometimes.

Experiencing the love of Christ means loving others the way we know Jesus would. Even though you can’t heal people, you can pray for them, you can show them kindness, thoughtfulness, mercy, patience, understanding, grace—and above all, you can tell them about the one inspiring you to be that way. Christianity is a not a faith of the ego, but an ego-check. Christianity is not about egocentrism; what’s in our hearts must be shared because it’s too invigorating, too important, and too purposeful to keep to ourselves. The love of Christ is the key to the lock of our soul—a key we didn’t even know existed before we realized our hearts were locked shut with doubt, shame, regret, and the excuse of transient pleasures masking the wounds of our empty hearts. We need Jesus more than we realize.

Without faith, the whole world looks very different. When I was an atheist, I appreciated very little about my surroundings. I was heavily enamored with the desire for lust because human relationship filled the hole in my soul where I resisted my need for God presence. There was nothing as ecstatic as the idea of a romantic relationship, because human love is a bridge to–and representative of– our love with Christ–hence Jesus is the “groom” of the church, with the church (community of all Christ-followers) is the “bride”. That said, I was only seeing the first half of the equation. Lust was all that mattered to me; Christ was just a distant religious joke that made as much sense as pickles and mustard. Very different from what I understand now as a Christian.

My understanding of both sides of the fence is what inspires me to write this to you, so that you would understand someone like me, who once viewed Christianity with facetious mockery, now worships the deity of Christ because I understand the importance of Jesus’ love as more significant and purposeful than the void of an Godless life, where purpose is only moment-to-moment, defined by society and instant gratification; not life everlasting through Jesus calling me to action through love, grace, and forgiveness.

Where instant gratification gives me what I want now, it simultaneously strips me of retaining my sense of meaning and purpose once the satisfaction wears off. Instant gratification is like a drug/alcohol buzz: once the buzz is over, everything wrong with the world comes flooding back into my mind. That is empirical evidence in direct opposition of the ideology of selfish pleasures masquerading as the definition of purpose in life. Believing in selfish ambition as the replacement for “What else is there to live for?” is just as empty and vacuous as a picture without any hint of dexterity. Art can’t be art without the artist; likewise, life isn’t life without its Creator—and humanity didn’t create itself. Making up as many as thousands of excuses as to how humanity arrived on the scene of Earth is not as fulfilling as believing that a loving God created us to be fulfilled in the promise of His love; once accepting that following His love also commands us to to love others the same way—forgiving them and treating them with the same kindness and mercy God did when He came down in the flesh as Jesus. We could argue all day about where humanity comes from, but at the end of the day, the question may actually deviate from the point of a scientific origin story and culminate with a theology that invites us into a purpose both worthy of striving for, and exciting to embrace.

What I want to leave you with is that there is more to Christianity than the judgment you may have experienced. The love of Christ is so much more important than someone correcting your wrongs by condemning you. We need to check the log in our own eyes before we pick at the spec in others’ eyes. As much as we need not let someone do that to us, we also need to be encouraged not to close ourselves off from receiving love from those who understand Christ’s call to love us as brothers and sisters of God’s family. That is what we’re being called into, and that is what we embrace as Christians.

If you have any questions you would like answered–whether about this post or what you might like addressed for a Part 2, please leave those questions in the comments below. If you enjoy reading these posts and would like to read more, please feel free to follow my blog and share it with others you think would benefit from reading about the message of Christ. I am passionate to tell you about what Christ’s love has done for me, and what it’s still doing, as well as to clarify so many confusions about the Christian faith. In the end, what happens from clarity is there is a transformation of the heart from rock hard to soft and open, and that is when Jesus can enter. That is what I want for you, as a Christian writer; that you may experience the love of Christ in your heart when you’re most vulnerable and susceptible to feel it completely.

May you be blessed while reading this and I pray you walk away with some newfound understanding that you may not have had. In the very least, I hope you are reminded that Jesus loves you no matter what you’ve done, and it’s up to you whether or not you receive that love and live into its promise to transform you from the inside. Jesus is the key; the answer. Will you let Him be that for you? If so, let this be a new day for you. If not, may He help you to understand and embrace that His love is everlasting, compassionate, confident; steadfast and eternal. He will never stop loving you, even if you can’t believe He already does.

Let that soak in. May He transform you, if that is your desire today. In Jesus name.

Transformation