the way we love

We have such a funny load of ideas about what love is. We fall in love. We love chocolate and coffee. We love cool weather and juicy black pens and good books and music and playing with fire. And those are just the things I personally love. Some people love shopping and liver and playing golf and pretty much everything else under the sun. The list ranges all over the place. When I think about it, though, I realize that there's something that all this stuff has in common.

Everything in that paragraph up there makes us feel good. When we have those things, we have warm fuzzies inside us and life seems pretty okay. So we say we love them.

Guess what? That's not love. We don't love that stuff. If we think we do when we're really thinking...well, it's just because we don't have any of the real thing, the real love, to compare it to. How about this?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. -John

Now THAT'S love. That's our ultimate. Our love of tacos just doesn't even approach that. And how about when we try to love?

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." -Jesus

So love for God is expressed through our obedience to God? Even that's complicated today. What is obedience? Doing what someone tells you to do? Nate Saint, a Christian martyr, knew the answer to that question.

"Obedience is not a momentary option; it is a die cast decision made beforehand." -Nate Saint

So. Obedience. Love. They're connected. And they aren't at all based on the whim of the moment. They are pre-established and rooted in eternity. Let's be people who love. All the time. And show it through our dedication to obedience. Because that's true love.


the greater evil

"It may be an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him. The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice. It is spiritual murder, the worst, to hate, to brood over the feeling that excludes, that, in our microcosm, kills the image, the idea of the hated." -George MacDonald

This quote amazes me. It's so bold and strong and...true. Yeah, that's it. So true. And so hard to accept. It just kind of goes against everything that we typically believe. Murder is so bad, yeah? We debate whether the death penalty is the appropriate punishment for murder, but no one debates whether it should be severely punished. At least a ton of jail time is called for, right?

But unforgiveness. It's not something we talk about as a serious sin. We hardly talk about it period because it's such a touchy subject. It's so obscure that firefox doesn't even recognize it as a word. Well...maybe that's not relevant. Firefox also sometimes doesn't recognize "doesn't" as a word. The point is, we don't tend to challenge people on issues of forgiveness. Most people have someone in their lives who "shouldn't be forgiven." That person who's hurt them so badly that it's "understandable" that they can't forgive. So we don't touch it. Sure, maybe it's not that great, but it's a little sin. Doesn't hurt anyone. Doesn't make that much difference.

Um...yeah right. Unforgiveness rots your heart. It poisons you against someone who was created in Christ's image. When you murder someone, you kill them once with your actions. When you don't forgive someone, you do so much worse than that. You kill their value as a person every single time you think about them.

That isn't ever okay. Forgive people who hurt you. In the end, it's your heart that is healed, because it's your heart that is damaged when you consistently devalue Jesus's sacrifice for the people around you.

Think about it.


risks and stuff

Sometimes days go by and suddenly I realize it's been a week or a month or way too long since I really took a risk.

Here's a bit of information about my personality: I change things up compulsively. I can't stand mundane. If things fall into a schedule, I feel a powerful compulsion to make a change. As a result, I tend to be spontaneous and random, especially at times when order is probably called for.

Sometimes I like to pretend like this means I'm taking risks and living on the edge, because it's nice to label myself a risk-taker when I do nutty things like dropping my whole routine in favor of doing something exciting and maybe a little dangerous. The truth is, it's not the same. Spontaneity is hardly risky when my only aim is to get to a different outcome and shake life up.

Taking a risk means taking a chance on being hurt. I've been avoiding that - avoiding close relationships, avoiding investment, avoiding the deep kind of honesty that hurts sometimes.

In the next couple of weeks, I'm hoping to take some risks. I need to do and say some things that might hurt. I need to open up and be the person that God wants me to be.

It's gonna be an adventure, guys. Join me. We aren't supposed to be controlled by fear. Let's live like God's right behind us every step of the way. Because he absolutely forever is.

wouldn't you say that life is beautiful?

The awesome extravagance of nature makes me want to fall down on my face and worship God, except that then I wouldn't be able to see the beauty. So instead I turn my face up to the sky and I can't keep the smile off my face. Being outside on a beautiful day is intoxicating to me.

Autumn is coming up here in middle America. I've lived right by the equator for most of my life, so season changes are something new for me. The days are getting shorter. The nights are getting longer. Leaves aren't staying on trees quite as well as they did a month ago. It's amazing. Most of the world dies every year, and from that death comes new life.

God, if there ever comes a time that I'm not in awe of your creation, strike me with lightning so I remember your glory. Help me marvel at your greatness. Remind me of the beauty in everyday life. Challenge me when I don't want to be challenged. Give me a new song, and create in me a clean heart.