In the past few years, I have come across a few Christians who disagreed with me so much about God’s Love that they spewed hate. I have had many people try to tell me I preach a false Gospel, not enough doctrine, and too much about God’s good qualities. Apparently, I need to preach Hell, Fire, Brimstone, and Wrath more. Anyone who knows me knows I believe in those things. The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But please note- it is the Beginning, and only the beginning. The Fear of the Lord is NOT complete wisdom. I try to keep the Gospel simple. The word “Gospel” means the best news ever. Jesus told us to preach the Gospel, to share the Good News. So that is what we must do.
This morning I was reminded by a friend, of a time when we were scolded by another Christian for preaching a false doctrine. It was really rough. I just stood there, my heart aching for this man, who had the same mindset I used to have, before God woke me up. He screamed at us, warned us of being like Ananias and Sapphira, called us names, and tried to incite us. We listened to him, tried to have a conversation with him, blessed him, and told him we loved him. I truly used to be like him.
I have always been radical. I was radical about the Laws of Moses, condemnation, and wrath for 25 years as a Christian. I loved to listen to pastors like David Jeremiah, John MacArthur, and Paul Washer. They validated my beliefs. And then I read Galatians and something changed. I remember having a conversation with my grandmother about it, and showing her what Galatians said. Her response was, “I never saw that before. People need to know this.” So, in 2011, I began to change my sermons to that of Love. But I still had hatred in my heart for those I deemed as “false.” You know, Jesus was killed by a group of people for preaching the Good News and being called false. They were so focused on God’s wrath and the Law that they missed Love. That group was called Pharisees, and I would’ve been one of them.
It wasn’t enough to know that Jesus preached about God’s Love and forgiveness. In 2015, I was still right there in the middle, preaching Love, but enjoying the Law and behavior-based Christianity. Now I am free of the behavior-based, works-based Christianity, and because of it I have had many people come to me to try to correct me. Maybe you have too. I imagine that you have had a few encounters with Christians being angry with you, trying to correct you on your problems, your beliefs, or your grace towards others. I want to encourage you. When Christians get angry at you for what you live out, there is only one thing we should do: Love them. Jesus, on the cross, was obviously confronted with hate and vitriol. His response to them was perfect, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Obviously, they knew what they were doing. They even knew why they wanted to do it. But Jesus gave them grace and forgiveness, through His love for them. When people hit you (like I have been hit), put a gun in your face, threaten you in any way, yell at you, mock you, or lie about you, there is only one response that glorifies God: LOVE. So love everyone today.
1 John 4:7 says, “ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
We wanna hear your story and your thoughts so leave us a comment below. Also keep an eye out for pt 2 of this post.
The weather outside is frightful… What a week we have had. I heard on the news that this week was the worst weather Texas has had in a century. A politician called it the Storm of the Century. Countless are without power, others (like me) have no water. Ice is everywhere, which for a South Texan, is incredibly rare. I remember in 1989 when the temperatures dropped to below freezing, and I was able to walk across the local pond in my cowboy boots, after church. That was the last time I saw it get this cold. 32 years ago…
But all this ice and snow got me thinking about God’s boundless, unlimited creativity and power. Just think for a second- no 2 waves are alike, no 2 fingerprints are alike, no 2 people are alike, no 2 sunsets are alike, and no 2 snowflakes are alike. Are you kidding me? None? Billions of people, sunsets, waves, fingerprints, and snowflakes have existed, and yet none have ever repeated. That is simply incredible.
1 Chronicles 29:11 says, “Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”
Everything is the Lord’s. And seeing all that He does, all that He makes, even the tiniest snowflakes, just shows us how infinitely great and powerful He is. It shows us the glory of His majesty. It shows us how spectacular He is. He makes it all. And He deserves our worship because of it. I know that we are lacking electricity and water, and travel is hard right now. We can barely find gasoline, people are being forced to stay in their homes, Covid is still around. There are a lot of things to be upset about and it is easy to be frustrated and tired of this mess.
But in the midst of all the chaos and distractions, God is still infinitely good, powerful, beautiful, and wonderful. He is still creating beauty all around us. So just stop for a second, shift your gaze, and see who God really is. Don’t let this stuff take you away from the King of all kings, the Head of all things, the maker of the Universe. Stop for a moment and just reflect on how boundless and unlimited He is. Not a single snowflake will ever look like another…
John 15:9- “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
As you have most likely noticed, I love everything about the ocean. If I had my way, I would live on it, or even better under it. Since I was a child, my favorite place on earth is beneath the water, any water. If I was in a pool that was 3 feet deep, I was at the bottom. If it was a 10 foot deep pool, I wanted to be at the bottom, sitting and resting. It does not matter what kind of water- river, lake, sea, or pool- if I can get in, I want to be at the bottom. I have a constant desire to sit at the bottom of any body of water because of the peace I feel when I am there.
A few months ago I was in a river, and I dove down to the bottom. I grabbed a rock about 25 feet below the surface, and put it in my lap so that I could sit down there and watch the bass and perch swim by me. It was a beautiful scene, with tree roots, green grass, a majestic view of the sun shimmering through the water, with giant boulders surrounding me. If the water wasn’t 45 degrees, I would have stayed a lot longer. I often practice holding my breath to increase my abilities, so that I can better enjoy being at the bottom of any water I come across. My personal maximum depth on a single dive is 80 feet. That was in Cozumel and it was beautiful, but I wasn’t able to reach the bottom and sit.
Why am I telling you this? Jesus was quoted in John 15:9 to say "remain in my love." For me, the best place that I feel God’s love is at the bottom of the water. I am not sure why I feel that way, I only know that when I am there, watching other people or fish swim, looking at the rays of light penetrating through the blue, seeing the effects of the wind above the water as I sit in peace, I feel one with God. I don’t feel shame or regret; I don’t feel pain or sadness.
This is exactly what our secret place with God should be. Too often we go to God to sort out our problems and seek His help, but we don’t know how to “remain in His Love.” The word remain can also be translated as “abide.” If we are to abide in God’s love, that means we must not vacation with God, but we must constantly live there. How often do we just sit with God, and appreciate Him? I can answer that for you: Not Enough. God is wonderful. He is absolutely beautiful, loving, kind, and wondrous. I can sit at His feet, so to speak, and look up at Him (like I did in that cold river, when I was looking at the fish and tree roots and sun beams) in complete admiration and awe. Sitting here now, it makes me want to hold my breath, close my eyes, and smile. He is good. He is boundless. And He loves you. However your secret place looks, when you spend time with Him today make sure you stop talking for a moment. Slow down, and appreciate Him. Speak if you have to. But more than anything, Abide in His Love.
I love water. The deeper the water is the better. The bluer the water is the better.
I often daydream about sailing around the world, being one with creation, riding the wind and waves from one beautiful destination to the next. This morning I was reading Ephesians 3, and I couldn’t help but imagine a sail, filled with the wind.
Many of us are familiar with Ephesians 3:16-19: “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” It’s a powerful passage, and if we aren’t paying close attention we can get focused on the wrong thing, such as power instead of love. This passage tells us that the power will actually come from knowing Love. To me this is saying that power is necessary for all Christians, but that we must attain it from the right source.
1 Corinthians 13 says that we can have the faith that can move mountains, but if we don’t have love then we are nothing. Our identity comes from realizing the width, height, length, and depth of God’s love. I wonder if we, as Christians, don’t often learn one aspect of God’s love and then assume we know all there is to know about it… that is dangerous. We are supposed to know His love from every angle, and every direction. But I think we often stop too short of knowing the fullness of His love. So back to the sailboat… the boat is designed to catch wind from every direction, not just one. In this analogy, I am saying that the “wind” is God’s Love. I need to know it intimately in order to become one with it, so that “my boat” (ME) has enough power to move.
What’s more, Ephesians 3:19 says that if I know His love, then I will be filled to the brim with all of the fullness of God. And we are called to do just that. So don’t let your sails be half full, don’t let your sails be so set on only catching the wind from a single direction. Otherwise, you will be stuck where you are for quite a long time. Let your sails be filled with the fullness of God, so that HE (and not you) can lead you through every situation, every storm, every day.