Thursday, November 26, 2015

Control… Our world disrupted


We do not like to have our world disrupted. We become very comfortable in how we go about things and relate to others because we settle into a pattern. 

We like patterns because they give us an illusion of control over our world and do not require us to trust. We hate having to trust unless it's trusting ourselves.

However if a pattern is not healthy, but broken, it needs to be disrupted so it can be revealed to us and abandoned. If we do not allow this we will miss out on the riches of God's grace he wishes to extend to us in those particular areas of brokenness.

If we do, that area will become a place of healing and allow us to be more effective in ministering to others in those same areas.

A challenging and painful circumstance is often the primary means by which God accomplishes the above, especially those areas of deepest wound and brokenness we need freeing from the most.

#Disruption #Control #comfortable #thoughtsaboutGod #thotsaboutGod

Monday, November 23, 2015

Law and grace… Which is it?

We approach the law either as a means of performance or a means of guidance (grace).

With the former we attempt to use the law as a means of earning God's acceptance and approval.

With the latter we understand God's acceptance and approval is already secured for us in Christ and now recognize the law is actually

* God's loving guidance for us
* the best way to operate according to our design (how and why he made us)
* which leads to our bringing God the greatest honor/glory and
* reaching our maximum potential and fulfillment
* Having the greatest impact on others for his glory

Our bringing the highest glory to God through our actions is operating to the maximum of our potential and fulfillment. In other words these (his highest honor and our greatest potential) are not in opposition to each other but the flip side of the same coin so to speak.

The Bible describes the above two dynamics (performance versus guidance) as operating either in the flesh or the Spirit; under the law or under grace. For more on this click here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Liberal vs Conservative or pick

The conservative/liberal debate is an interesting one and there are some real differences philosophically.

The heart of the difference is the view of humanity's condition.

Are we inherently "good" or "bad?" 

(the bible says we were originally made good and still have inherent in us the capacity for great good but as long as we reject and remain disconnected from the source of life, love and all things we can do no real and lasting (eternal) good. And since we were made for eternity, that is where the greater focus should be).

If we are good and our problem is our environment/circumstances than we need to fix it (them) and our problems are solved. (a more liberal view. Generally this is called humanism)

If we are bad and we are corrupt than we need to fix our heart and the world will get better. (more common in conservative circles, though there are exceptions. However also common is the view that law is the primary solution to our problems vs a change of heart)

The solution

Ultimately receiving God's love first and showing it to each other is the only solution to the worlds woes. Expecting or looking to politicians or government to bring this about is not.

The truth is liberals actually have the right idea but the wrong method i.e. They recognize the need for love and compassion, generally far better then conservatives, but tend to count on government and politicians to bring it about, generally far more then conservatives.

However, corrupt men make up corrupt institutions i.e. apart from God's grace all institutions are corrupted by virtue of being run by men whose heart is corrupt and alienated from their Creator.

Corrupt institutions enforce corrupt laws and reinforce corrupt behavior. The solution for man's woes are from the inside out and not the other way around.

Liberals generally do not recognize the extent of the corruption in the hearts of men/women. They believe the greatest need for change is in our world/circumstances, not our heart. This is why they are so "program" driven and see the solution to the worlds woes ultimately in man. Create a program and that will fix the broken circumstances/environment. If it's not working, throw more money at it. 

But an issue with the conservative (as well as the liberal, they just do it in different ways) is the tendency to depend primarily on law (this can actually lead to a police state and dictatorship when taken to the extreme). Though law enforcement is valid and necessary, it does nothing to change the heart of man, nor is it intended to. 

Government and law enforcement has one primary role, to punish law breakers, not change hearts. (for fuller discussion on this click here). When men refuse to let their hearts be changed, law enforcement is necessary to prevent them from harming each other. The civil authorities are not in the heart changing business but the morality enforcement business for the safety of society at large.  

But the bottom line is all politician's tend to consider the solution lies with them/man /government (that goes for both sides of the aisle). 

Government is not the solution however. It has it's role but not the bloated role it plays today  (which both sides practice though conservatives tend preach against it).

What most don't realize is only 35 years prior to the American Revolution, our country experienced what was known as the first Great Awakening when our country become considerably more aware and alive to the love of and for God and their fellow man.  This was the soil out of which the "great American experiment" was born; the first and only government by and for the people. 

The point is our system works best where man and women are self governed most i.e. they have a strong sense of accountability to their Creator and loving God with all their hearts etc and loving their neighbor as themselves. This further indicates the solution does not lie in government but in a people who fear God, starting with those who claim to know Christ and love God 2 Chronicles 7:14

This was the key to
America's greatness, not our form of government. Our form of government was merely workable because of the spiritual orientation of the citizens. It is the best but only if and when we are self governed. This is also why the solution to our woes is a return to loving God and our neighbor which is only possible when the hearts of individual men and women are made alive again to God. 

Government was ultimately intended to protect and preserve our "right" or freedom to pursue our Creator with minimal government interference. To do some of the stuff most politicians advocate (especially the big budget variety) is restrictive (takes away freedom via increasing taxation, regulation and enforcement) and will cost someone something. Government can't grow money. Though they try by printing it out of thin air but look where that has gotten us.

In fact the USD (US Dollar) is getting ready to lose world currency status ( because of our corrupt and abusive monetary system. A far bigger problem than most realize and no one ever talks about (at least not in the main stream news and not to the level of importance it deserves). 

The below site has a short two minute video at the top. This is the reality that NO one is talking about to any significant degree on EITHER side. (Ron Paul spoke of it often. His son, Carson and I think Cruz and even Trump have eluded to it).

The difference between conservatives and liberals is basically in HOW do we divvy up the money, not that there isn't any. In this way both conservatives and liberals are exactly the same. They both operate under the pretense that we have a honest money system. 

There does seem to be indication that the new administration has some level of awareness of this. Time will tell. 

When watching the vid, note the dollar amounts referenced in the bottom left side of the vid. Also add 3 columns to the ones around the statute of Liberty since Obama just raised the debt ceiling to 20 Trillion (and this was not just an Obama thing. This has been going on for years by both parties, though Obama increased the debt the most and quickest of any Prez).

When our monetary system implodes (it's a matter of when not if) there will be no money to do any of the things any politicians propose. We will be back to either bartering or a police state depending on which way government goes and how the masses respond (or don't). Than no one will care about minimum wage, or fighting terrorism or whatever one's pet issue is.

If we believe man is our solution we are in for a disappointment. Our solution is and always has been God and we are learning more and more the hard way, exactly that.

Put someone in office you think will do the best job? Absolutely, but we better be spending far more energy praying than wringing our hands about whatever issue has us frazzled (which are only symptoms and not the cause), if we wish to see the real solution and real change. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

God works with the real you

Our unfaithfulness to God (unfaithfulness being a lack of trust in God displayed by a lack of diligence pursuit of God, which is the essence of sin) is often the only way we come to appreciate the value and importance of faithfulness. If we have *experienced the love of God to any significant degree, unfaithfulness leaves us with a sense of isolation and separation from God and wanting him back.

Though unfaithfulness definitely causes separation, it is not on God's side, but on ours. As God's children he never leaves us and is always working in our unfaithfulness as well as our faithfulness. He in fact uses that sense of separation (along with other consequences) to draw (call) us back to himself.

In this sense we can relax (knowing he's using even our unfaithfulness ultimately for our good and his glory) and not be concerned about our unfaithfulness in this sense. If this is who we are, it is who we should be i.e. we should not pretend to be something we are not because we think somehow we are fooling God (or ourselves) into thinking we are someone other than we really are OR because we think we will somehow impress God with some feigned faithfulness. We simply need to be; we need to be our honest, real and true selves so we can best learn from those hidden areas of brokenness and distrust in God. God uses our mistakes. And maybe the most critical point is we can not turn from something we deny exists or aren't aware of.

Does this mean we are to deliberately indulge in unfaithfulness so that we will learn? No, it simply means we are who we are and will be who we will be and need to be honest with who we are in order to truly change. Pretending doesn't promote honesty and without honestly there is no true change. A performance based approach to God verse a grace based approved prevents us from seeing our true state of unbelief/unfaithfulness.

We need to recognize God works with us where we are and uses all things (including who we are in all our distrust and brokenness) to advance His good purpose in us. We need to allow God to show us who we truly are in our unfaithfulness so we see the real us, in all our brokenness that we might truly turn from it. If we don't see, experience and feel our true brokenness and the emptiness of our unfaithfulness, we will never sincerely turn. We may make some external changes, but this is not a true change of heart empowered by God's Spirit/grace. Any change not Spirit/grace driven is superficial and **performance oriented.

**by performance I mean acting in order to impress either God or others.

On the other side of this, we should also be aware that unfaithfulness always has consequences. Not only does it cause us to lose a sense of God's presence, it results in harm to others and ourselves (not to mention it dishonors God). So for these reasons we should always be alert and seek to become more aware of our unfaithfulness and more diligent in our faithful pursuit of God. But again, this is who we are and we should not beat ourselves up over this. Christ already took our beating. The consequences of our unfaithfulness in themselves actually becomes a vital means of our seeing the need to abandon it.

When we come to the place that we clearly and honestly see the importance and value of faithfulness we will not depart from it. It will be our real, conscious and deliberate pursuit of God, not some pretense of pursuing him.

And when we do, it too will be who we really are.

*If you don't experience that sense of loss in your unfaithfulness, you may have never experienced anything significant enough to feel a loss to begin with i.e. you can't miss what you never had.

However I would also argue we all experience a sense of loss of God, whether we are his children or not, we just don't know it's God we are missing.  All we know is we long for love and when we experience it we want more; the more love we experience the more we long for more of it.  

The reason we want more is because God is more than anything we can experience through the things and relationship of this life. Whatever little tastes of love we experience in this world can never be enough because we were designed for eternal, infinite love, not temporal finite love. Only infinite, eternal love can fulfill that infinite eternal desire for love build into all of us as God's image bearers. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Why God is desirable

What makes God desirable?

1. He lacks nothing and needs nothing. 

Nothing we have or can offer Him meets any need of, in or by God. He has none. He is completely whole, other oriented and self-sufficient. This removes any pressure on us to give God anything.

2. He is everything we need and desire. 

All things we seek and desire are ultimately a desire for God. We simply use other things as God substitutes to fill the void of God's absence due to our distrust of him.

3. He truly delights and finds joy in our delighting in Him.

We are created by Him and like Him (in his image) so we might enter into and participate in the joy God has within the eternal, blissful and all-sufficient community of Father, Son and Spirit. In short he overflows in love and desires to share the joy of who he is with us.

This makes him both perfect and beautiful. In short, desirable. This in main part is what makes God adorable and glorious, full of wonder, worthy of all our praise.

As we come to see God as he truly is we increasingly come to love and trust him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves.

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 
"For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" 
"Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. - A doxology of praise by the apostle Paul. Rom 11:32-36

Monday, November 16, 2015

Love at it's source

Love can only come from God's image bearers (you and I) in response to God's love for and to them first.

Though we have the capacity to *love, it is only a capacity. In other words we are able to receive or be loved and respond in love if and when loved but absent God's love we are unable to give love i.e. we can not initiate love. To say it another way, we are not the source of love and never were intended or designed to be; we are recipients, responders to love and conduits of love.

And very good ones at that. In fact we alone, of all God's creatures, can respond to his love, consciously and deliberately in a way no other of God's creatures/creation can. Though we are not hard wired to initiate love, we are hard wired to receive love and than respond back to God (the source) in love and also out to others with His love.

We are designed to receive love and respond to love, we are not hard wired to initiate love. We will not (and can not) love others as God has designed us to (sacrificially), unless we are loved (sacrificially) first i.e. unless we are fully connected to the Source of love, life and all things.

Why? Simply stated, God is love, we are not.

But we are like God in that we can participate in the love that God is. We can enter into the union/fellowship of love between the Father Son and Spirit as God's image bearers.  But God and God alone is the source of love and life and all things. We are image bearers that participate in and reflect that love if and when we receive it.

If we are loving others as God loves us, it is only because we are *experiencing (or trusting in) God's love for us first. We can only love others as God loves us when we do so.

Try giving sacrificially none stop and see what happens. We simple can not without receiving or we will burn out.

Yes but...

Some may argue,"what about someone throwing themselves on a grenade to save others or a parent sacrificing themselves to save their child etc." First, this impulse is an expression of being in the image of God. We are designed not just to be loved but to give love. 

But note the order of the greatest commandment. We are called to love God first and than our neighbors. Why? Because true God inspired neighbor love flows out of God's love i.e. it comes from God. To say it another way, we would have no neighbor love if it wasn't for God, who is love i.e. it's hard wired into our spiritual/emotional DNA. 

So what is going on when someone who does not profess to know/trust in God, yet sacrifices themselves to save another? Because we are in God's image we can derive a sense of significance in giving up our lives for another (which is unlike God who demonstrates his significance in sacrificing himself [as the Son] for others. God already is significant. He has no need for significance or acts to gain it. He it totally complete within himself as Father, Son and Spirit). 

Without God driving our action, it is our need for significance that drives it i.e. doing a sacrificial act is an act of validating me, my significance, my importance, not honoring God i.e. it is not driven by a desire to honor God but to honor self; for self to be honored by others. Though the very impulse we have to give our self for another comes from how we are wired by God, if we do not acknowledge and act for this reason (to honor God), at it's core, it is ultimately an act for ourselves no matter how much it is also for another. 

If we fully understood our ultimate demise in sacrificing ourselves this way without God being a deliberate and conscious part of the act (i.e. doing it for his honor), I propose we would not do the act i.e. we would not act if we knew our action would usher us into eternity resulting in our ultimate and eternal separation from God and all good things. We act because we either believe our act will cause us to be remembered as a loving person by others for saving the one we acted for or ultimately save ourselves by possibly winning the favor of God (or Karma or whatever) in the act (as well as win the favor of men, though men do not determine our eternal destiny).

If we do not act for God's honor (consciously and explicitly) in our sacrifice, after our passing folks would likely say, "what a noble act and person" ; they would not say, "what a great God he must worship for him/her to be willing to sacrificially give his/her life for the benefit of another" i.e. to not act for God's honor first and foremost brings praise and approval to ourselves, not to God.

So there are two parts to our truly loving others in the way God loves. 

1. Being like God. We act like him because we are like his image. (which can happen with anyone, whether consciously connected to God or not)

2. Being loved by God i.e. loving others because He loves us (which only happens when we are fully and deliberately connected to the source of love). 

*When referring to love I am not talking about the warm and fuzzy feelings we all experience when things go our way. This is getting love or being loved. I am talking about extending (giving) kindness, care, thoughtfulness even and especially when it costs us something i.e. sacrificial love. We are not willing nor can we give to others in this way unless we have first received the resources to love in this way i.e. we can not give what we do not have and we do not have unless we received it first. To love in this way, we must be "plugged in" to the bottomless, infinite source of love...and that isn't us.


Trinity - it's importance and necessity

A key aspect of the essence of God is relationship. Without relationship between the Father Son and Spirit there is no God (or love). The oneness of God is a oneness of relationship. Even though each of the three persons of the Godhead are God, they are God together and not God separately, independently and individually without or outside of relationship.

None of the persons of the Godhead stand alone, independent of each other by virtue of the fact that to be fully the God he is, he must be God in 
relationship making all three persons necessary for "Godness" to exist.

When the Bible says that God is love it is because he is relationship. And not just any kind of relationship but one defined by love i.e. the giving and receiving of glory/value/worth. A relationship in which each is valued/loved by the other.

Because the Son issues forth from the Father and the Spirit issues forth from the Father and the Son they are all God. So in this sense everything issues forth from only one God as Father, yet God cannot be Father without the Son and the relationship between the Father and the Son is bound together and expressed in, by and through the Spirit. There is no relationship between the Father and the Son without the Spirit.

For a much fuller discussion of this click here
For a discussion on the source of love click here

Friday, November 13, 2015

A heart loved is a mind and will freed

To the degree we trust we are fully loved is the degree to which we will see clearly and choose wisely.

We cannot see clearly or choose wisely until we trust we are fully loved.

(Even though we are fully loved in Christ, our trust in that love [i.e. subjective involvement] does not equal the strength of that love [i.e. the objective reality of it], so we might experience it fully).

We usually think what we need most is right understanding, facts, knowledge and right choices in order to best get on in life. Knowledge and choice are the most important things we might think. However these can not occur correctly i.e. according to reality/truth until things are addressed at a much more fundamental level.

We are primarily relational beings, not just rational and willful. By that I mean we are designed to be in relationship first and foremost. Our thinking and choosing only work correctly when the core defining aspect of who we are is fully in tact (Think of those times you went to the grocery store when you were starving verses when you were full. Did this affect what was most appealing to you while shopping? Wasn't it easier to rationalize buying junk food that could be consumed quickly verses something more healthy that took time to prepare; a delayed gratification. In most cases our reasoning and choices are effected and driven by our emotional and spiritual state as well as physical hunger).

And not just any relationship, but one that offers us constant, never failing, never ending, infinite love. Why is this? Because we were designed to be in a relationship with a being that is constant, never failing, never ending and infinite in love (God doesn't just love this way, He is this way by virtue of his being a relational being as Father, Son and Spirit). This is why both God and Christ said his "name" is "I AM." As the bible says it, we are made in God's image.

Right knowledge and right choices are certainly important but only in service to relationship. The point is we can not obtain these without being rightly loved first. As long as we are not loved fully, our knowledge and choices are skewed towards that which we think (believe) works best at satisfying our need to feel worthwhile, important, significant... in a word, love.

This raises the question of why we are not fully loved. Well in fact we are. Love has been fully displayed and extended to us but we reject this love (Jn 3:17-18). We are in such deep (and hidden) pain we will not entrust ourselves to the love of another but prefer to take care of ourselves, thank you.

Christ himself told us that His Father so loved us that he sent me (Christ) here to this world of pain and struggle to bring us (you) everlasting life. Your not believing this (trusting what Christ said and did) in itself proves you refuse to entrust yourself to (and in fact reject) the source of all love and life?

If you do not accept the proof of his love, you will not experience the love that is offered and demonstrated by Christ through what he did on your behalf.

And what he did was remove the barrier your rejection of God puts between you and him so that he might restore you back to a right standing that you might experience his infinite love again. Until then everything is skewed; all knowledge and all choices. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What made America great?

Unity amidst diversity is what has made America unique.

The unifying factor was the common fundamental values that drove men and women to leave their homeland and establish a new country. Ever since its founding, these same values have drawn men and women here over the years. The same values embodied in our founding documents.

The diversity was the richness of our various cultural backgrounds.

So while we are different (a melting pot, as they say) we have also been the same i.e. had the same basic common values. On the great seal of the United States is the phrase "E Pluribus Unum" which in Latin means "out of many, one."

The primary common value that moved our forefathers to come here was freedom. The main one among the very earliest settlers was being free to worship and serve God as they believe he had called them to, without government interference. (Not just any God but the God who says loving Him with all our heart first is the most important thing, and out of this loving our neighbors. According to the bible (a book often derided in today's culture) pursuit of this is good and right; not to pursue it is destructive and wrong). All other freedoms flowed from this.

In all that America has offered we have never guaranteed happiness, only the freedom to pursue happiness. (Think of the Will Smith movie "The Pursuit of Happiness").

Both unity and diversity are what made America great and strong. We all marched to the same drummer (i.e. had the same common values/goals) while at the same time bringing a richness and variety of resources, cultures and skills to advance a common cause. All of which blended to show the richness and diversity of God himself and how each of us uniquely reflected his image in us.

Both are necessary for America to continue to be great and strong. We have drifted from our common values over time which has been the glue that holds us together in all our diversity.

This is not theory but our history. Yet some (not the vast majority but a tireless, driven and loud minority [not speaking ethnically, if you are wondering]) today want to throw away the common values our country was founded on that has proven to make us the bastion of flourishing and liberty over the years.

If we, as a people, are to continue to be the country where men and women are free to develop their abilities to the maximum of their potential and to the glory of God we must return to those common values that made us strong from the beginning.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Knowing God's word… A matter of the heart

Depending on how awakened our hearts are to God and his great love will determine how we interpret and read his word(s). 

If we have experienced none of His love, we will see scripture as a bunch of rules and regulations given to win his love. 

This results either in:
  • Guilt, shame and condemnation because it reminds us of our failure to live by (obey) His word(s) or
  • Self-righteousness because we think superficial/external conformity is obedience.
If we have truly seen/experienced God's love to any degree, we will see scripture as his loving guidance and direction to that degree i.e. to the degree we have seen/experienced His love. 

The more of his love we experience, the more this will be true and the more God's word/Commandments will bring us joy and be embraced with delight. 
In short legalism and the misunderstanding of God's Commandments/words/direction is nothing more then the fruit of not believing, knowing and experiencing the goodness of God and the greatness of His personal and infinite love for us.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." - John the apostle of Jesus 1Jn 5:3  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Enjoying life… Rejecting the giver of it

Being disconnected from the Source of life and love can only result in pain and suffering. Why? Because we were not designed to operate apart from our Creator/Source, no more than the body was designed to function without food and water. To go without these, we die i.e. we experience pain and suffering.

To go without spiritual life (a sense of meaning/purpose/value) and love we also die. But this is a spiritual and emotional death that does not immediately result in physical death. 

Because our disconnection does not result in immediate physical death we continue to operate and seek life (a sense of meaning/purpose/value) the best way we know how, but on our own terms, not Gods (the very God who gives and sustains all things we enjoy).

Our disconnection is total in the sense of our trust in God. We have totally rejected him.

However we are not totally disconnected from the benefits of creation. We can still see, hear, smell, taste and feel the good gifts of this life. But we no longer view them as gifts from our Creator (due to our distrust and rejection of him). We view them as resources to use (and often abuse) as we see fit without any regard to God the giver.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Passion, trust and the glory of God... how they are connected?

Passion (i.e. longing/desire/emotions/affections) and trust are closely connected.

By that I mean we want and long for most what we most believe is in our best interest. The more we believe the more passionately we go after (pursue) it. That belief at times is so great, our confidence so high, we know we will get what we desire. Our belief and desire can be so strong we virtually will into existence what we believe. When we have this kind of faith it translates into strong and compelling affections. We are blessed when our passion for God is at such a level of emotion, it drives our actions/obedience to and for Him.

Acting for his glory first

However, at times, our emotions are nowhere to be found. We simply choose to act because we know by faith that what we are doing is for his glory. Sometimes the only thing we have to move us to action is knowing it is an action that honors/glorifies God. We rightly ascertain there is no immediate reward for us in acting. In fact this may involve actions resulting in just the opposite; actions that are dishonoring for and to us; actions that may likely cause us harm (not unlike when Christ took action i.e. his following through in going to the cross, after asking God in the Garden of Gethsemane to remove the "cup" of his impending harm/death).  

But we are told in scripture that we sometimes must die to live; die to our immediate gain in order to honor God, which results in our long term gain. For pressing into and experiencing God is ultimately our greatest reward/gain. To act is this way is clearly a greater act of faith, for there is no immediate or even long term earthly reward in doing so. This only offers a reward that comes after death. 

This was the characteristics of the saints listed at the end of Heb 11

All obedience is acting by faith

The key is how much do we believe/trust in God and whether the actions He calls us to are ultimately the best actions.

And what is the nature of our faith? It isn't in a particular outcome that WE bring about by our independent efforts but a belief that the direction HE calls us to and the results HE will bring about through them is the best possible outcome there is i.e. actions dependent on his leading and the results he provides/promises.

The greater our belief/faith/trust these things are so, the stronger and more driving our emotions will be i.e. the greater our desire, longing, motivation and confidence to act. Or as a friend commented in reading this, the more *inspired we are to act or in acting. 

*(foot note: the Greek word for "inspired" is θεόπνευστος or theopneustos
theh-op'-nyoo-stos and means: divinely breathed in: - given by inspiration of God. [Strongs Greek Dictionary]. 

If you break the word down it basically means "in spirited" or indwelt by the Spirit or breath of God. Breath that comes forth from the passion of God. The passionate love between the Father and Son that generates the Spirit of love).  For a further discussion on inspiration click here

Little awareness of why we desire what we do

In truth we often have no idea where our desires and longings to act come from. We simply know we want whatever it is we want.

But if we peel back the layers we will discover we want what we want because we believe (either from prior experience or the experience of others) it will give us what we most need and believe is best for us.

And what is we need that is best? In a word it's love. Usually it looks more like having what we want simply makes us feel good about ourselves. But why does it make us feel good? Because when we get what we seek we feel important, valued, we matter, have purpose and meaning etc... in a word, we are loved (granted it's only self love but self love is better than no love at all).

The problem is what we usually seek (i.e. which is anything but God) never actually gives us what we truly need. Why? Because what we really seek is to feel good about ourselves all the time, not just for the moment when we feel that temporary rush of getting what we are after. This is why we repeatedly keep going after whatever it is we believe will give us this. It only works for a short time so we must keep coming back for more.

What we really need is permanent, never changing, constant love (which makes perfect sense. If we were created to be loved by the Infinite, nothing less truly works).

But, guess what? Nothing in this world can give us this. Only the Source of eternal, never changing, constant (i.e. not dependent on or determined by what we do or don't do) love will do. Why? Because we were created for infinite, constant and permanent love, not temporary love.

Defining "best interest"

All action is action based on what we believe is in our best interest. However we must define "best interest."

There is our best immediate interest.


There is our best long term/eternal interest.

Sometimes God will call us to action that will have a more immediate benefit. These type actions are the easiest to take for they have the most immediate gratification which often creates greater excitement and emotion. When we are excited we are energized/inspired/passionate, making the action easier. 

However God often calls us to take action simply because it honors him and offers no immediate benefit. In fact it may result in immediate loss. This kind of action still has benefit to us, but only long term, and therefore far harder to carry out because this kind of action is more purely by faith i.e. in the belief it is in our best interest long term even if not short term. There is little to no short-term benefit.

As our faith grows we can experience emotion even in this kind of faith but only when our faith is strong enough. The stronger our faith the greater our emotions/inspiration will be, even in the absence of immediate gain or gratification.

My experience has been that as we mature God seeks action more and more based on faith in long term reward not immediate award. Why? Because he knows this requires greater faith. And greater faith causes us to press closer into Him and draw our strength from Him; who he is versus what he does for us in the moment. In other words our faith in the character of God moves us to action not in anticipation and excitement over immediate benefit.

Great trust requires great love

This kind of faith requires great love/passion for God which can only be sustained and flow out of great love from God (vs. excitement over immediate benefits). We cannot live by this kind of faith if we don't have total trust/confidence in God's infinite love for us.

We cannot experience this great love for us without a clear and great vision of the love demonstrated to us in Christ.

And that love is demonstrated most clearly and fully in the work of Christ on our behalf; his death burial and resurrection. The work by which he has secured for us a love from God that has nothing to do with what we do or don't do. This kind of faith exalts Christ and his work done on our behalf. The work that completely and infinitely restores us to the Fathers love.

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Rom 8:30-32  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

A common challenge for the evangelical church

The issue with the typical evangelical church is they have the right form but are often missing substance; the right motivation. There is a lot directed toward the head (right doctrine/ information) and the will (doing the "right" thing) but not the heart.

For more discussion on the different between head and heart knowledge click here

Given our natural inclination to be our own god (the essence of the original and our present ongoing rebellion), we must be ever vigilant of our own heart. 

Because our hearts are still fallen (even as his children) we are naturally inclined to focus on form (law/commands/right behavior) and lose sight of the substance that brings about that form/fruit. This is why many efforts (churches, schools, ministries etc.) start out well but only decline and deteriorate into a shell of their original self i.e. they/we lose sight of the heart and passion that birthed and drove the action/behavior/ministry to begin with. 

This is also why unbelievers can hide in and be a part of a church and not experience saving faith. They can hide behind "right thinking" and "right doing" and never look at their own heart. They can do and say all the "right" things for the wrong reasons. They hide behind "righteous" behavior and find comfort and a false sense of security in it instead of depending on the gift of righteous God provides for us in and through Christ alone.

The prescribed thinking and behavior of a church may be perfectly spot on but our hearts are so rebellious and so inclined and committed to being our god that we can and often do use the best things (even the very commandments of God's) for the wrong reasons and miss the importance and necessity of gospel completely i.e. the grace and love of God.

Right doctrine and right behavior does not automatically indicate a right heart.

To act without total trust and dependence on the Father and passionate love for the Father can be an act merely of the will and not of the heart. Actions that only engage the will and not the heart lead to pride and arrogance, away from humility. Which results in the classic, "do as I say, not as I do" approach to others i.e. the hypocrisy that often plagues "good" evangelical churches. 

This also eventually leads to burn out and can lead to disillusionment with the church and unfortunately sometimes with God. For more discussion on this point click here

In truth we are to engage all three; the heart, the head and the will. But the last two can only be pursued correctly to the degree the heart is first engaged properly and fully.

Mat 15:8  "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 

1Sam 15:22  And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 

Hardship ---> humility ---> love.

When going through hardship, humility is what God is after and ultimately what we need (and should seek). Hardship is only a means to that end and valuable to the extent it helps us acquire greater humility. 

If we seek humility directly, we may not need to experience self-induced hardship; at least not as often.

There is also self-imposed hardship (i.e. self-denial) as well. Taking up our cross would be an example.

Either way it seems we can not obtain sufficient humility and necessary dependence on God without self deprivation (or denial) in one form or another. 

Self-induced hardship is hardship that comes as a consequence of violating God's law i.e. Disobedience 

Self-imposed hardship (self denial/self discipline) is hardship we experience as a result of choosing to follow God i.e. Obedience

There is also hardship that simply comes by virtue of living in a broken world full of broken people who are disconnected from the Source of life and love. 

(foot note: Being disconnected from the Source of life and love can only result in pain and suffering. Why? Because we were not designed to operate apart from our Creator/Source, no more than the body was designed to function without food and water. Deprive the body of food and water and what happens? We die i.e. we experience pain and suffering) 

The ultimate goal of humility is so we might more fully know and experience God in the greatness of his love, majesty, beauty, wisdom, power and glory.

Arrogance and pride is what we should avoid with everything we have for it is the enemy of unity and harmony with God.

Jas 4:10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

1Pe 5:6  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

Luke 14:11  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."