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 Echo Of Jesus’ Love Through History

Who we are echoes throughout eternity. Our next breath is just the beginning of the next moment; the beginning of another chance to be who we choose to be. Do we consider how who we are affects the people around us? How often do we contemplate how much of an influence we for others? 

Often, I forget the expression of living as if today is my last day. I forget that at any moment, my heart could stop beating. We’re spoiled. See, our hearts beat involuntarily—we don’t have to worry about the process, or set an alarm to keep the rhythm going. Many times, we choose to live as if we know tomorrow will come, despite our lack of omniscience. We know not what the next minute will hold, and many of us already have our lives planned up to the second for the next week. Do we leave margins open for life to happen during the “in-betweens” of our plans? 

Surely, we cannot plan our next breath, but we can hope for it. We can hope we won’t have to fight for our lives if oxygen doesn’t make its way up through our lungs. In this same way, we can hope our best friend will still be alive tomorrow. We can hope our job is still on the market in the morning. We can hope for so many things… but how much hope do we place in things we’re sure we know, compared to the hope we place in our faith?

As Jesus is my Savior, I believe He controls the oxygen in my lungs. I have hope that He will give me another, and another, and another… because He loves me. And when He decides not to give me another, I have faith that His love for me has taken me away from this place to be with Him where He is. And for every pain in-between those two breaths, I have faith Jesus has a reason for those. Jesus allows pain to give us opportunities to draw near to Him. Some pain feels traumatic and severe; the worse pain we experience, the closer to Christ we can become.

If you get to know me, you’ll notice my smile, my genuine curiosity, and the way it’s hard to make me angry. I don’t get angry over silly things, but it upsets me when you’re driving skills give me the impression that my life is in danger. I’m the kind of man who would rather be reading in quiet or walking on the shore than at a bar or club. The reason I am the way I am is because I treasure simplicity; I admire patience, understanding, and empathy from others. These qualities are qualities I’ve tried my best to adapt to the best of my ability because I think their roles in human life are eternal, and worth echoing throughout history. Truly, I believe these qualities have echoed through history, otherwise they would be faded in definition and mythic in reference. But they aren’t. These characteristics are cherished, refined, and established as precious and rare—because the quality of such characteristics as these are to the human design as gold is to currency. If we want to understand what is worth echoing, we can look at history to see what has prevailed and what has phased out. Certainly, the reason behind the prevalence of evil is that with regards to the sin nature of humankind, evil trumps peace when ego trumps humility.  

How often do we try to make a difference in the world? How often is the difference we’re making worth an eternal echo through history? What guidelines must be adhered to in order that the qualities we emanate are of the highest degree? If we look carefully, there is but one category which must be placed above the rest, and that is love. But not just any love—the love of Jesus.

If what we’re doing, saying, and displaying to others isn’t out of love, then what is it worth? What does love look like? Picture a person crying and another embracing them. Picture young men opening the doors for the elderly without having to be asked to. Imagine church members giving of their time to improve their community in ways that won’t put their name on any billboard or check. Think of the people who spend hours at hospice or geriatric care centers where older people who have lost everyone are desperate for connection and company. Think of little children supporting their friend who didn’t make the sports team they tried out for. Support, connection, trust, empathy: LOVE. Love in the name of Jesus. 

See, we can love and say it’s because we just have good intentions, but then we must define the source of “good”. And if we cannot, then how can we claim to know what kind of intentions we have? Truly, if we aren’t loving in the name Christ, we are loving conditionally, because there is no foundation for altruism that derives from the self. 

If we want to send echoes into history, we must send eternal ripples of love, or the ripples we send will not reach farther than our minds or our egos. Ask how that stranger who looks sad is doing, and offer to pray for them. Open the door for someone even if it takes a few seconds longer than usual for them to get to the door–just to send them the message that they were noticed and validated. Some people are so used to the prideful side of others that these kinds of loving actions will be an absolute shock and a pleasant surprise. For others, with the very pride which the former expect, they will take your act of love for granted, thinking you’re a fool for waiting, rolling their eyes as they take the door from you without so much as a scoff or a muffled “thanks” under the scoff of their exhale. It doesn’t matter, love them anyways. The point is to show others not that you’re a doormat or that you have no confidence, but that you’re humble beyond words. Humility expresses love in ways pride never will.

We can afford to show more humility and to speak from deeper authenticity. We can afford to call our friend who we know had an interview and ask how they’re dealing with it. We can afford to pray for our friends when they’re down, or to celebrate with them during a victory. All of this is Christ-like love. Christ-like love echoes a million times into eternity, and the ripples do not slow or stop because Jesus blesses them as they flow. He blesses us for our faith in Him, and He blesses those whom we extend ourselves to in His name. We only extend a fraction of who we are; yet His power expands the ripple a million times over, because He is love. 

Think about these words, and consider the way you put love on display for others. Is it obvious, subtle, unconditional, unexpected, thoughtful, spontaneous, care-free, empathetic—is it authentic? If you’re unsure of your motives, ask yourself what you’ll gain from the experience, and if the answer is joy from another person receiving happiness, even in a small way–I would say go for it. And if anyone approaches you or responds to your love by asking why you do what you do, give Jesus all the credit–but explain it in a way that makes sense to you. The more genuine you are in what you do and say, the more others will be ever so curious about “this Jesus, guy.” 

If you don’t have Jesus, then perhaps someone will do this for you. If you disbelieve in Jesus as Lord, but you experience the love of others in His name–does that not make you curious about the way faith in Christ inspires them towards authentic altruism? I hope you will be inspired by others’ choices to love you without reason beyond Jesus. Jesus’ love is eternal, and it echoes still today. If there’s anything worth echoing, it’s the ripples of love, joy, and hope that comes with knowing Jesus in our hearts, and sharing what that means to us. May you be blessed as you are overcome with His love for you. In Jesus name!

Echo

God’s Voice Amidst the Battle Cry Of Life

When God speaks, how do we know whether or not we’re listening?

Many times we get stuck thinking God has grown silent on us. Maybe what’s really happened is we haven’t yet figured out how to discern His voice from the noise of the world. Sometimes, I even find God’s silence to be the best answer of all.

LISTENING TO SILENCE

When I pray, I know God is listening. I don’t always feel a response, but I can feel His presence listening to my words, paying close attention to my thoughts and my heart. For many of us, silence can be uncomfortable or disconcerting, and so the same reaction applies to God; we don’t want the silence, we want His answer. But God created the silence as much as He created the music of life—can we learn to appreciate both, and to understand the unique ways He speaks to us through each?

THE BEAUTY OF SILENCE

Sometimes silence carries with it the horrors of depression. What I mean by that is, for some people, silence creates the space and time to consider everything hidden by the noise of life, such as our problems and stressors—so people run from it like they would a pouncing lion. However, silence doesn’t always have to allude to sadness or anxiety. Sometimes silence is the peace between the waves crashing on the ocean shore. Sometimes, silence is the breeze coming through the window on a beautiful spring day. And sometimes, silence is the ecstasy of getting lost in the loving gaze of someone special. In so many instances, silence is not always connotative to something unpleasant or melancholy; with God, this is also the case. Silence is one of the most beautiful, ravishing ways the Lord communicates through to us—so if we’re too busy paying attention to all the noise in the world, we’ll miss this precious treasure coming straight from the heart of God, Himself.

CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD

Prayer is the communication between us and God. Prayer can be viewed like that of a conversation: God speaks, then we speak—and when the other speaks, we listen. Trusting in God’s voice is like trusting a parent when they say, “Jump, I’ll catch you!” Do you trust them, or do you stall and think about it?

God is the parent constantly promising us He will not let us fall no matter what happens; reminding us to constantly keep our eyes on Him. To put that into some perspective, we must ask ourselves: As often as God communicates with us, are we communicating back? Again, are we listening? What are we saying when we respond? Do we only initiate conversation when something is wrong? Do we only reach out when we’re upset? When God responds, are we able to accept what He offers, or do we treat His answers like an 8-Ball—shaking the conversation when we don’t like what we hear to see if His words change? When we hear what we don’t like and we stall to wait for a “better” response, the reality is that we’re really stalling to wait until we can accept His response. We probably don’t always realize this to be the process taking place, but it’s true. God knows better, and so many times, it’s much easier to believe giving God some time will change His response to something more digestible and convenient. That is delusional, of course—and it will keep us standing still in life.

TRUSTING GOD

Something we fight tooth and nail for, more often than we care to admit, is the way we claim we trust in God without following through with what He says when He says it, convinced there must be a better way to get through what we’re troubled about. Unfortunately, the longer we take to genuinely trust in God, the longer it will take to see our lives take shape, fully embracing the challenge of our souls like building muscles in a workout—developing our trust in God as well as the strength of faith in our hearts. When we practice listening, we practice blocking out the noise of the world. When we’re listening, we’re trusting; when we’re trusting, lives change.

Maybe we’re too humiliated to admit our desperation to hear God, and those of us who feel frustrated by the noise of life may find it easier to believe there is no God even talking at all.

I empathize with people who feel this way because I once felt the same. It’s very difficult to be open-minded about God when the world seems to be growing faster in corruption and slower in understanding and patience. Additionally, witnessing the reality of the world’s corruption makes it difficult to hear God’s voice. Even so, we can’t blame God for not being loud enough if we are unwilling to slow down and try to hear His voice more clearly. We cannot expect the world to be what we, ourselves, are unwilling to embrace.

WORLD PEACE

For an example, I will use world peace to illustrate my point. How could world peace be possible if those who were seeking it acted with coercion, intimidation, and aggression? Claiming God doesn’t exist because we can’t hear Him may in truth be quite telling of our level of surrender to the very qualities we find ourselves begging the world to embrace. Can we claim to fully believe in a world at peace if we fight corruption with bitterness and self-pity? Can we complain about the state of our world if we’re unwilling to set an example for others to follow? Most importantly, can we blame God for the mistakes of the world if we haven’t even given God permission to enter our hearts and renew us for the better? In other words, if we are unwilling to accept Jesus into our hearts, do we really expect Him to help others—or the world?

THE LIVING EXAMPLE WE NEED

By the way, Jesus came to be a living example of the best way for the world to work together; by loving others and directing the reason why we love others back to our heavenly Father. Interesting how we can interject the truth into this story that, as a society, we claim to want world peace while we claim not to be able to hear God, and that there isn’t enough love, selflessness, mercy, or understanding to go around to change the world. When no one had the power or the courage to take the first step towards real change, Jesus came and spent His entire lifetime being the example we need. The eyes of history, enveloping around the story of Jesus Christ—are survived by the authors of the Bible, and the hearts of every believer that passes the truth of Jesus’s love from generation to generation. How else—in fact, why else—has the news of Jesus passed down over two thousand years? Because His truth is the Truth.

Sometimes we get so frustrated with the way the world is now that it seems like we’re soldiers of war–the war of life on Earth–and we’re peering ahead into the fog of the battle, wishing there were only someone to show us the way…. but if our eyes would continue beyond just ahead, there is a light coming through the fog revealing to us that the fog itself is not the end, but only a distraction—that through the fog is Christ Himself—already paving the way for our lives. If we would only take the risk of walking into the fog that is life—even when we’re unable to see past only one step at a time—with faith in the undeniable power of Jesus, then we would experience for ourselves that the way to what we want in our world can be found in the person of Jesus.

SOLACE IN SILENCE

Silence is a beautiful way for us to hear from God, but it isn’t the only way. My hope is that you will find solace in understanding how effectively and powerfully God speaks through silence, as well as through people who pursue Jesus with their hearts. I also hope you will consider the way you listen for His voice, and make room in the areas of your life where you could try harder. God is always speaking, and perhaps with a little more commitment to giving God room to be heard, we could make the best of what He wants us to hear. May it be so, in Jesus’s name.

LET’S CONNECT

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Elicit

 

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

Paving the Path For Trusting God: Part 2

God knew what He wanted with humanity far before He even breathed into causing the Big Bang. All of creation was done for Jesus and by Jesus, and that makes the story of creation that much more beautiful, colorful, and saturated in sentiment. Do you realize what that means about Jesus’ crucifixion?

OUR LOVE STORY WITH GOD

While many people look shamefully towards the cross, the cross represents a part of the love story between Jesus and humanity– or, from the big picture perspective— between God and humanity. See, the cosmos and all of creation were made by and for Jesus, so the love story between humanity and Jesus is that we are the centerpiece that Jesus had in mind for the creation of our solar system, and the reason for all the orbiting planets making Earth the most life-sustainable planet in the galaxy.

That isn’t even beginning to mention how God birthed us into creation during the most auspicious time period, when we were able to integrate and learn to utilize the tools necessary to discover for our very eyes the origins of the galaxy during the Big Bang!

This provides evidence that God wanted us, intentionally, to be able to see for ourselves our entrance into the existential plane of time and space dimensionality, so that we would come to learn the critical role time played in the process of humans creating amply advanced technology to look into the past and witness our entrance; to witness for ourselves that there was and is no better time for us than now—because before or after now and the galaxy would have been too dark to discover any of these historical divulgences.

THE PURPOSE OF THE COSMOS IS US

God wanted us to know that the galaxy is for our existence, and then as we combine that story element with the reality of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, what we have is a more complete story of how Christ loved us SO MUCH that He not only created the entire cosmos for us—but He even came down and died for us Himself so that we would not be separated from Him (should we choose to accept Jesus’ love for us into our hearts and live transformed lives by loving others, ourselves, and God) after we chose to rebel and transgress His divine laws and love for us (For more information about the details of the cosmos, the Big Bang, and how science actually complements Christianity in the sense that facts about the cosmos directly link back to the Bible–please reference back to Leslie Wickman’s “God of the Big Bang“, and also Hugh Ross’s “Why the Universe Is the Way It Is“).

Does that change at all the perspective we have in regards to seeing God as a God worth trusting?

A TRUSTWORTHY GOD

Knowing these details, we can explicate the way God responds to our pain and our questions by His attitude towards both our creation and our suffering. Having accomplished so much for us for the sake of our convenience, what we can take from this is that the facts point directly to the great care and consideration God has for us as a race. Why would God work so carefully for the last part of creation–the very pinnacle of creation, in fact– if He did not care about us? And, to connect dots–would we not place trust in a God who would put so much meticulous, careful planning into making our existence so worthwhile?

One of the problems I had as an atheist with putting trust in an “invisible” concept like God was the fear of the threat of sanity. “What will the world think of me if I start including Jesus/God/theology into the conversation?” We start to place weight on the world’s view instead of on the sentiment Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross means for us as individuals, personally. The world condemns and censures, but God loves and forgives, constantly inviting us forward, towards Him. If we don’t place our trust in Him, is our resistance really based on some mistake God made, or are we too proud to admit how lost we are when we try to solve the mystery of life with technicalities and empty rationalizations? The capitulation of curiosity is among the seeds of the death of theology in understanding God after exhausting ourselves by trying to solve the argument against His existence. My point is not all that ambiguous: what reason do we have as a race for distrusting in God? After really pausing to look at the evidence, everything intently points to His genuine love for the human race. If we don’t place our trust on that foundation, where else would we place it? 

BASED ON A TRUE STORY…

I want to share with you a small but profound true story which happened to me years ago.

When I was living in an apartment in Glendale, California, I was about to be bankrupt and I had already been warned of eviction because I couldn’t make rent. My roommate and I arrived home one night after a life group to find the note that is the picture of this blog post, taped to our door. I promise you readers, no one knew that I could not afford rent besides two people: my roommate, and my dad– who I had seen the past two days–and I had been with him the entire time, so he had no chance to put a note on the door, nor get the money through the crack of the doorway so that I would only see the $700 in cash laying on the ground after I opened the door. My roommate was just as shocked as me, and that made it obvious this was clearly God seeing my situation, and responding.

Now, I’m not claiming God wrote the note, I know it was a person–but the miracle and blessing within this story is that someone knew I couldn’t afford rent (when I hadn’t told anyone, nor had my roommate), and no one ever confessed to being the gift-giver. They remain, to this day, and unknown samaritan who helped me at a crucial time without desiring to receive credit for the gift. I cannot tell that person how much I appreciate the gift, and that they were clearly doing God’s work in telling me that “God loves you. He sees you. He’ll never forsake you.” Clearly, this person wanted God have all the credit. To me, that is love of the Father in Heaven, and that is a reason to trust in Him to provide, always. Has that ever happened again since? Nope. And that’s the idea: God doesn’t generally perform a miracle the same way twice; but He always answers every prayer.

WITNESSING GOD AT WORK BEHIND THE SCENES

One last thing to note about my short story–if I had not gotten that money right when I did, and if I would have had to be evicted (possibly along with my roommate if he couldn’t pay it all himself), I would not have been able to get the job that I got within that next month at the school district, and where I stayed for three years working in Special Education with kids with autism and special needs. None of that would have happened! God was speaking into my life through another person, and it was loud and clear that I was not alone in my journey. This isn’t just me, readers–it’s you, too.

I shared this truth with you to let you see how God does work, even in mysterious ways; ways where people are involved, but where they’re not trying to take the spotlight off of God. God uses people to show Himself, because the Holy Spirit is at work in this world through the spirit of believers. The Prince of Darkness (the Devil) may be influencing the world, but the King of all kings (Jesus) is controlling it. That said, whoever wrote that note and provided the money without ever asking for it to be returned or claiming the act was his doing–he was allowing the Holy Spirit to work inside of him. That’s what matters to God, and that’s what counts to someone who needs to experience God’s grace in the form of tangibility that is distinctly God’s hand–only without the skin, bone, or tissue. While God’s physical hand cannot be seen touching us, He is certainly moving, He is most certainly alive; He most certainly exists, and He loves us all. Not everyone might get a note taped to their door, but they are no less loved or seen. He created everything so that we could have relationship with Him and give Him the glory. He loves us so that we have an example of what it means to be loving.

GOD’S REALITY

I understand many of you will likely not appreciate the way that I didn’t explain God’s physical intervention in our lives as an actual touch, but if we aren’t aware that God moves through people and through nature, then we’re missing an important point; He doesn’t touch us in the same sense that humans do because of the point I explained in Part 1: He is outside of our dimensionality, and if He came inside of ours in His physical form, we wouldn’t survive the process. Sin cannot survive the presence of pure, perfect love. Putting faith in the existence of God means knowing that God is with us in our hearts–and through other believers–but that doesn’t mean that we dismiss God just because His body is somewhere else; He is omnipresent, spiritually. That is how we access the Holy Spirit. And unless we put faith into that possibility, we are resisting His love due to of our rebellion, not His non-existence.

We would not need faith if He were here with us, physically, right? He loves you, He sees you, and He will never forsake you. Open your heart, look into the soul of Christ as He is knocking on the door to your heart. Let Him in and show Him around. He wants to be a part of your life. Putting your trust in God is the best decision you could make because of His adamant loyalty. If you don’t understand His loyalty, just look to the stars, He never drops them— they’re held firmly in place; how much much firmly and carefully would He hold your heart, the heart of the peak of His creation? Everything He created, and all that He’s done, is for you– because His love is that deep for you. What will you do with that truth?

MY PRAYER FOR YOU

I hope that you feel His love for you today, and I pray that it inspires you for the better. That is my prayer for each one of you; that you would come to know God’s heart, Jesus’ loyalty, and place confident trust in their means of being for you and giving to you all that you need. May you feel His presence as you continue understanding how to place more trust in God, knowing what He is capable of, what He’s done, and what He will do based on His promises. I urge you to do this with a believer who can encourage you, pray for you and with you, and help you as you ease into this, especially if this concept is new for you. God will meet you where you are, and He will lift you up. He will never leave you standing alone. He’s always watching and waiting for another heart to choose Him over the world. He’s excited to be a part of you. Will you reach out for Him in trust? I hope you will.

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The Blessing Of the Samaritan In Every Day Life

Genuine, compassionate, kind, thoughtful, pensive, slow-to-speak, quick-to-listen, intuitive, spiritual, loving people– truly inspire me. Can you call to mind the face of the person who that is for you?

I have met these kinds of people before, but they always seems to come in passing–they’re heading that way and I’m heading this way, but for that bittersweet moment we criss-cross, and I experience a personality unlike any other. I must draw you a picture, because this is something you need to see.

Not all people learn to truly, genuinely care. They may say they do, and for specific areas of their life, they do care. But there are some people–we’ll call them samaritans–whose delicate manner in caring for others is done in the same vein as the manner they eat the food that tastes pleasing to them: They simply enjoy it.

Now, don’t confuse the idea of someone “enjoying the experience of caring” with someone who acts as a doormat for attention-seeking individuals without boundaries or respect for others’ feelings and well-being. The samaritans I’m talking about have boundaries, and plenty of self-respect, but they know how to counter someone’s disrespect with concern and compassion. Does this concept surprise you, or even confuse you? Let me draw more of the picture.

Another appreciative quality of the samaritan is their ability to connect with an individual so effortlessly. Eye contact comes so naturally to these kinds of people that we don’t even always realize how their eyes are inviting ours into the conversation. In contrast, there are the people whose eye contact can be interpreted as intrusive or disconcerting. Their eye contact is constant and unmoving; hardly leaving our eyes and barely blinking– if at all. This lack of eye movement altogether, after a minute or two straight, can begin to feel uncomfortable–as if that person is thinking of something else other than what the we’re actually talking about–or leading us to believe the intention behind their listening is different than their concern for us and what we’re saying. The samaritan’s eyes, however, are comforting, gentle, and at ease; relaxed, and very attentive in just the right proportions. In all respects, their eyes–and, therefore, their spirit (our eyes are the key to our soul, no joke)–are present. As we speak, they respond in such a way that feels validating. There is compassion in their eyes, gentleness in their disposition, and space where–for others–there is usually judgment, or a lack of concern or attentiveness. Unmistakably, time rests in a peaceful buoyancy with samaritans; emotions are allowed, welcomed, shared, and ultimately embraced— the very air around them is so weightless and simultaneously full of grace–feeling loved is difficult to ignore, and impossible to resist.

I can recall feeling angry while being heard by a samaritan who simply listened with pursed eyes, following my anger with empathy. By the end, they were nodding in silent agreement with what I’d explained, their eyes slowly blinking and peering into mine with concern and frustration for my situation. This exchange was so emotionally satisfying that I didn’t really care about the frustration of my story anymore, because this person had undermined the anger itself by embracing my hurt and pain with me. I felt validated, like someone was with me in my space of need. They didn’t even have to say anything, and they didn’t give me advice– they simply let me be. That is the underlying gift of wisdom by a samaritan: Their very sagacity in knowing how to listen, when to offer helpful insight, and discerning the difference.

After time spend concentrating on the utilization of those gifts with people, and desiring to better themselves in this regard– listening transcends the problem of being viewed as an obligation or difficult science, and becomes a gift to be shared, cherished, and used with the people we love, care for, and want to be experience life with. The inability to truly listen–to truly share ourselves vulnerably without judgment or further prolonging the feeling of loneliness when, for example, someone responds to a traumatizing story with the “fix”, rather than giving the speaker the precious gift of the quiet solace of presence they actually need instead— is a detrimental problem and schism in human relationships today, and it needs to be addressed with full awareness of its punitive repercussions.

Every person knows what it feels like to not be heard when they vent, how it feels to be ignored or overlooked when in emotional pain, and every person certainly knows what it feels like to believe no one really cares. But a person with the ability to extend themselves in such a way that provides the space for this desired emotional acceptance– this is truly a gift, indeed; that someone would be caring and involved enough in the relationships in their lives to take a deep, introspective look at the way others feel around them when they listen, and to understand–deeply–the way their words have an impact, not only within the context of just one conversation, but within the inflection and motivation behind the words themselves–in any conversation. People who can do this and have devoted quality time to developing this aptitude have acquired more than just skill; they have acquired the ability to be a living vessel of God. Does that last phrase pull your attention away and shock you? Does it seem too much?

God is love, and to be able to provide the space for another person to feel loved by just listening, with only the motivation to give that person that experience in your presence–how is that not being a bridge to God, Himself? You are shining a light directly to Him by doing what He would do. God desires to love us, and in His love for us, the parts of us that are misplaced or distorted and confused become easier to see, and in that process of being exposed to ourselves from God, we can see how the pieces we’ve misplaced through rebellion and selfishness can be put back correctly in their rightful places. God provides that path, and when a person is able to provide the space where God can be seen and felt (although a person isn’t required for this–a person’s personal relationship with Jesus is just as effective), those paths are made very clear. Because of this–specifically–a samaritan’s ability to listen truly exults the love and power of God’s presence in human life.

Why am I sharing this with you? We need more samaritans–it’s simple. And, to be a bit frank, I miss the time spent around people who aren’t in a rush, as if my feelings are less important than the racing speed of the clock. Some people never learn to slow down and live in the moment, and it’s these very people who inspire this post—because we don’t need any of that. We need people who are willing to be still, even momentarily, to give us a moment of their time. Are there times when we simply cannot stop for anything due to inconvenience or responsibility? Of course. But I’m talking about people who begin daydreaming during a conversation, or who are always running around to a destination that doesn’t require their presence with as much emergence as they portend. Stillness speaks; like the spacial quiet during my time with the samaritan when I was angry. Why are people in such dire need to move, to think, to speak, and to act– why not be in need to be still and listen, or just to be? This is a samaritan, and it can be anyone.

It’s more than just the ability to listen, of course. Anyone can learn to listen, but the measure of a samaritan is the depth of their character and the truth of their intention. Without character and intention carefully motivated, a person is far from being a vessel for God. The world needs as much light as it can get to show us back to who we truly are, and God uses us (those who have accepted His love through Christ) to be that example to others who need it. Where are they? Can they be you? Of course. In fact, I hope it is. This world needs samaritans—those who are willing to be what no one else is trying to be. But, who is their motivation?

My hope is that it is God, because every human must have one (samaritan) to be one, and it all starts with the Samaritan who loved us enough to come down here and fix our problem (of sin) for us in the flesh. It’s Him who we strive to emulate by following His Golden Rule, which is and always have been to love (Him with all of our mind, all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our strength, others as ourselves, and ourselves as God loves us). Are we loving others when we listen? Are we showing others who God is when we let others be themselves, or do we try to fix them when they don’t ask for help? Sometimes, our greatest hope is found in the silence of wisdom. And sometimes that silence can be found with someone providing the space for God to be found. Is that you? Is that who you’d like to be?

Look around you at this world and decide for yourself what you believe it needs. More samaritans, or more people trying to fix everything? Where pragmatism is appreciated, sometimes it is unnecessary. What is always necessary is that we learn to slow down, to listen, and to love. Who are you being for others? Is that the best you can be? God loved us through Christ, and now we are to love others through Christ in us. How are you loving others, and how can you love more?

I urge you to think of this and apply it to your life. Keep in mind the changes you are making to others’ lives with your own. I pray that you become aware of this truth, and that you make Godly changes in your every day interactions, one conversation and one relationship at a time. Let God work through you. There are other samaritans on the way for you as well, God is making sure of it. Be blessed, readers!

Original

Being The Miracle To Others That God Is To Us All

Loving yourself is not selfish. Authentically loving yourself requires as much humility as the willingness to see yourself the way God sees you, as well as the awareness of what that kind of Godly love represents—and its Source.

Much of the world tends to lean in the opposite direction, capitalizing on the notion that loving yourself should be the most important above everything else— in the same mentality as those who are under the illusion that binge-eating is a viable anecdote for emotional pain: they have neither the humility nor the intuition to realize the void they’re trying to fill is not actually physical— nor the discernment of what is healthy, and what isn’t.

Let me ask you, readers–what about the notion of loving others makes any difference to you? Many times we find ourselves loving someone who seems unable to reciprocate for some reason. Some people are simply too selfish or too disappointed in themselves to receive anyone else’s love for them. In a world where love can seem scarce, obscured, protected, and withdrawn; where love is underrated and confused with infatuation— Jesus’ unconditional love for you is the only reason you exist. Therefore, when we are able to receive Jesus’ love, the overwhelming truth of that reality stirs in us the ability to love others through Christ. God’s love, the greatest gift of all—engenders radical joy because the one thing we actually need in life, we are given freely; without consequence, loan, or “I owe you.” That is the nature of being in relationship with Jesus Christ.

For the believer, Jesus is the “living water” from which we will never thirst again. Now, that is a metaphor here on Earth–true–but do you understand the meaning behind it? Jesus is saying that being in relationship with Him will satisfy you to the point where you will be overflowing–meaning— you will have more than enough to be okay with yourself and give to others. Give what? Love.

The “food” (or love) in this lifetime is not what goes in our stomaches, but what comes from our hearts:

(Matthew 15:17-18) “Do you not realize that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then is eliminated? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man.”

We love others with our actions and our words. What we choose to speak or do with others comes from that place where we either have Jesus in our hearts, or we don’t. If we don’t, then we are giving love of our own accord, and the love we extend of our own accord suffers from the conditional, limited influences of living in a corrupted world. But Jesus’ love never tires. He lives in us through the Holy Spirit, meaning— He communicates with us through the Holy Spirit, and we learn to listen by spending time with God; reading the Word (Bible), praying with other believers, and quieting ourselves. Without this time, we further ourselves from our ability to know Jesus’ voice from our mind’s voice, and from that of the world and all its noise.

After we spend time listening to Jesus, letting the Holy Spirit talk through us and to us, we are better able to receive the courage, inspiration, love, hope, mercy, grace, forgiveness, peace of mind, and inner balance which is only possible through our relationship with Him, as well as the ability to share these qualities and gifts with others through our words and actions.

When we choose not to spend time with Jesus, not only to do we jeopardize our own connection to the God of creation, leaving it on the back-burner as if it is less important than anything else—we also jeopardize others experiencing Jesus through us.

How can we blame God for not talking if we don’t give Him the time to speak? How can we justify giving God enough time when we spent mere seconds to minutes listening, and we spend hours on end using technology and pursuing selfish pleasures? At the end of the day, we expect God to just fit in with the rest of our lives; but God refuses to just fit in. He is either our Alpha and Omega (first and last), or He’s not. Is God patient? Yes, but that doesn’t make Him gullible. Waiting on us when we take longer to hear Him than He does to speak is different from justifying ourselves with distractions while leaving Him jealous of the attention we give our Earthly idols (hedonism, technology, drugs, alcohol, etc.).

Those of us who are starving to experience Jesus more personally are left to starve longer when we assume our most important goal is to love ourselves more than anything. No matter what religion you belong to, if you only believe in loving yourself, and you are holding out on those who need your familial love, then you are starving them of connection; you are starving them of Jesus. Jesus told us we show we are His disciples when we love others, and He didn’t forget to leave us a plethora of examples to reflect on and refer back to. His entire ministry was saturated in love. Even His anger came from love! His repudiation of the pharisees was not out of hate for them, but out of the agonizing truth that despite His love for them, they would not receive Him, believe in Him, nor recognize the ways their piousness convoluted the truth of the message of Jesus’ love, dissuading the people who sought freedom from religious piousness and stricture; liberation to love and to truly live. Jesus provided this liberation, and told us that in order to be recognized by the world as His, we must love each other (John 13:35).

Do you live your life selflessly, in pursuit of Christ’s love for you and others? If you are an unbeliever, what inspires you to love others—and what does love mean to you? What is your hope for the purpose of living tomorrow? Do you believe there is such a hope without faith?

If you are not living in the love of Christ, then your love is situational and conditional. Do you know how to love those who want to harm you, and do you understand what the importance is of doing such a thing? Jesus’ very life is the example and reason for why Christ-followers do this. If you are not following His ways, what reason do you have to try to be selfless or more loving? What does it matter to you, if not for God?

Faithlessness is a quick way to jeopardize a most satisfying life. If you think about it, consider the impact you have on others who feel the ricochet of your joylessness—directly a ramification of disbelief; but consider what that means about discovering faith in Christ. Acknowledging how deeply rooted our words are, and how our actions jeopardize others’ way of seeing Jesus through us is a truth which is equally relevant as it is pervasively ignored. We cannot commiserate and love a world without a living example of the reason why. Humanity needs a reason to be selfless, in order that we might understand the true nature of what our relationship with God could be. Jesus is that reason, and whether or not we believe in Him or follow Him, our choices will show the world, one way or another. We walk by strangers without so much as a smile without bothering to think of what it might be like where they’re going. We’re just absent-mindedly desperate to get where we’re going to appease ourselves. What example are we setting by this prideful walk of faithlessness? We desperately search for something to feel loved by, all the while assuming there is no God—dismissing the notion of one when we aren’t patient enough to develop our awareness of His voice in our hearts. Is the problem really that God doesn’t exist and is therefore silent; or is it that we don’t take the time to surrender ourselves to His infinite gift of love? We may put God on mute, but He’s still talking.

Will we learn to listen?

Jeopardize