What’s Love Got To Do With It? Devaluing Its Meaning (1)

Is there a ‘trade deficit’ in the church? I believe so. Our ‘currency’ is being devalued on a daily basis and we are importing more from the world than exporting into the world at large. What is our ‘currency’? Love. As Christians, we move in love, flow in love, act in love – love is our life and love and life is in Christ. In Christ – this is the fullness of the very substance and essence of love. Love finds its consummate meaning in Christ in God, in the Trinity. Love IS God. God is love.

Love is not some nebulous vacuous word, constantly bantered about as if it can stand alone, outside of the very essence of love – God, in Christ, in Holy Spirit.

Love-And-Christian-Free-Wallpaper-Colossians-1-27-678x508In its very substance in Christ, love flows into the deepest places of despair while also confronting the ultimate platforms of arrogance, greed and pride. It moves in various ways, though unique platforms, and into diverse places through the lives of Christians who have Christ in them, the hope of glory. I see love in its confrontational strength destroying paradigms, shaking nations and uprooting people in pursuit of their greatest purpose in Christ. Yet, there is a war going on – the devaluation of love and its very meaning and outflow. Has the church lost the essence of love, true love in authentic Christianity?

This week, I am going to talk about love and its devaluation in western Christianity (of which I am a part) and how the world views love, somewhat askew and very distorted.  Follow along with me. I believe you will find the journey quite interesting. I do not propose to have all the answers. I do not want to be problem oriented. I want to put all this forth and seek the solution which resides in me as a Christian.  Perhaps this blog will cause you to think more than give you concrete answers. We all desperately need to learn to think, to reason and to walk in wisdom again.

The Light Goes OnHow did I even start thinking about this? Well, it all starts in my own inner stillness wherever I am, practicing His presence.  While sitting on the beach, watching people in Starbucks, or driving. Even in the midst of intense noise or chaotic circumstances. Not just observing, but actively watching people and discerning as the Spirit of God speaks to me about the current state of affairs in my own little corner of the world.

I kept pondering how the word ‘love’ is bantered about nowadays, yet in all this banter, there is little substance to it all. Have you noticed? How can you not if you are breathing? The very people, who say that they love you, leave you on a whim, in the blink of an eye with no prior notice. Or what about people who consistently say “I love ______” (fill in the blanks), without any substance to their words because when the going gets tough, they run like crazy in the opposite direction. There’s so many more examples. I am sure you are thinking of some right now.

Over the course of a few days, I sensed Holy Spirit opening my ears to hear. This little four-letter word is undergoing intense devaluation all around us. So I did some research on Google which tied some things together in my mind. I learned a few things about basic economics.

Here are a few facts in the natural that can easily be applied to the spiritual realm in my Christian life.

Currency devaluation (love for us) – a country allows the devaluation of its currency to drop in relation to other currencies. Hmmmm…………..I see the church at large devaluing its purpose under the guise of being more relevant or culturally acceptable all in the name of love, adopting the world’s standards along the way. In this process, loves loses its substance and strength in Christ alone. Love is strong, substantial and often confrontational in its essence.

Devaluation – a reduction of value and status. Hmmmm…what’s love got to do with this one? I paraphrase something I read –  “When one loses faith and trust in something or someone (Christ alone) one stops believing in it (Christ, His power, His anointing, Holy Spirit) and hence, doubt and self-reliance comes into play (leaving us searching for new techniques to attract people to our church or conference). And all in the name of loving people………….soft, sweet and syrupy.

A trade deficit ensues when a country imports more than we export. Hmmmm…I walk into so many churches that look to entertain in their quest to be relevant. What happened to the power of God in His kingdom dynamic flowing through the church? The norm – don’t offend, don’t rock the boat – let’s all be nice and love everyone, singing Kumbaya as we hold hands, smiling. We are importing the ways of the world to enhance a religious culture and in the process we are losing substance. Are we afraid to love? Looks that way to me.

Love is the answer. Real love. Authentic love. Love that confronts, challenges, gets messy, may offend and alienate as well as gather and build up. Love is multifaceted in its substance. Love is focused. Love is real.

I look to the problem and search for the solution in my quest for authentic Christianity. I don’t want to gripe or complain, yet I want to speak forth the reality of the current condition so that change my flow in Christ. Throughout the church at large, leadership is in flux – discouraged, depressed, compromising, losing vision and momentum. Stop trying to please man and live to please God. It all starts with love and its substance in Christ. There is a way out and it is in loving Christ alone. In Him there is life and in that there is focus.

My voice and inner convictions will shine forth, without trying to be popular or relevant.  I believe that after years of being forgotten, overlooked, rejected, and passed over I have finally stumbled upon a great truth.

When I have nothing to prove, I have nothing to lose.

I love and I love deeply and I see that it looks a lot different from how the world at large portrays love ( and maybe even the church). How does love play out in your life in Christ?

DebraIn Christ
Debra

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Creative Expression – Restrained Vision

That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was. (Luke 24:13-16 Message)

As I walk on the road of my own preconceived notions or my sublime presumptions, Jesus often draws near to me, in the midst of it all. When life’s events have placed more questions in my mind than answers, Jesus draws near – just to walk with me and talk with me.

Light on a PathThese two men were walking towards Emmaus, talking about Jesus’ crucifixion. Their minds were ablaze with questions. Their hopes– what could have been, should have been, and yet was not- seemed dashed to pieces as they faced the reality of His death. What now? What exactly happened?

Jesus enters into the midst of it all, just like He does for me. When He draws near, I often find myself in the midst of thinking, a process of questions. Why did this happen? What now? He walks besides me and sees my limited restrained vision, just as these two men on the road that day. Vision that is restrained by the power of presumption or assumption inhibits me from truly seeing, just like these two guys. Vision that is held in the power of its own process limits and restrains me from truly seeing.

He draws alongside, never forcing His way into my process, at least not at first. Like these men, I may continue to explain the events taking place through my ‘restrained vision’. He probably can’t help but shake His head as He listens to my words, just as He listened to the words of these men that day. At the right moment, in my own tension, He speaks. Here is how He spoke to these men that day. And sometimes, this is how He speaks to me.

Then he said to them, “So thick–headed! So slow–hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him. (Luke 24:25-27 Message)

listen.520In other words, His words silence me, just as it did for these two guys, catapulting me into a greater reality, past my restrained vision and limited understanding. I find His confrontations into my life as wonderful as His gently flowing words of affirmation and love. Both show me His intense love for me. Both ways open my eyes to see past the nose on my own fact. My pain often restrains my vision. I need a shaking down some days that forces me to rise above my own self-pity and introspection. It’s good for me. He’s always good for me.

They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open–eyed, wide–eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us. (Luke 24:28-32 Message)

Jesus stops me in the midst of my forward momentum many times. My eyes open to see, to truly see things that have been hidden from me. I get so excited at times at the revelation of truth, which lifts my spirit, that I want to detain Him at that point of revelation to sit with me, talk more with me, dine with me at my table. Yet, I have noticed, that just like these men, at the point of received revelation, sitting at a table of intimacy, He often is quickly up and away. Why is this?

There is more to say, more to see, and greater things to encounter. Being totally human, I may self-centeredly keep Him at that place at my table, receiving and receiving and receiving. Yet, He is up and away and now my choice is to follow Him with all that He has revealed to me, moving and living and having my being in Him. I can’t stay at this place of comfort. I now move in what I have received and take it out.

Yes, there will come another time when my presumptions will get the best of me again. That is only human. And on that day, He will draw near again to show me my shortcomings in truly understanding His greatness, His majesty and His being. That is called life. I go from glory to glory to glory, from faith to faith to faith. I walk on the road of life, wondering, asking questions, and thinking. He draws near, listens and even brings correction to me.

Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27 NKJV)

Christ in me is still revealing Himself to me as I live my life in union with Him. I am enjoying the journey.

Creative Expression – Questions, Questions, and More Questions

Words stirring in my spirit. Words of life. Words of confrontation. Words of revelation spoken to me over and over again in the past few days.

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)

Questions rise up in me, provoked by these simple words above. What kind of focus is this? What kind of joy is seen here? Who willingly walks forward into pain and suffering unless He is seeing something much greater as His reality?

Abide In MeI call myself a woman of focus. Yet, reality shows me that my peripheral vision, my eyes wandering into distractions and diversions around me, cause me to stop in mid-stride. At times, I get stuck in doubt, loss of hope and even self-pity.

How do I do it? How do I flow like Jesus, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross with its pain, shame, and suffering? Sometimes I am paralyzed in my ‘present’. I don’t want any more dead ends in my life, so I simply stand still at times. I also don’t like pain. I have had enough of it. Haven’t you? What is this key, Lord that you are trying to show me? I am definitely over thinking this, looking for a complex solution in the midst of what appears to be a simple revelation.

My years in Pentecostalism or Charismaticism (new word) have taught me to do something, anything for a situation to change. To move forward when not seeing results, pray more. Cry out to God on my knees more. Worship more. Read the Bible more. But, what happens when you do all that and nothing happens? Has God failed me? Absolutely not. So what do I do? What must I learn in this?

Suddenly a voice of simplicity rises up within me. I hear one word, “Abide.”

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing (John 15:4-5 Message)

Is it that simple? And what exactly does ‘abide’ mean for me? How do I abide? Do I read the Bible every day? Do I pray an hour when I first get up? There I am again, looking for the concrete in the midst of the revelational. Hahaha! I am laughing at myself right now.

QuestionsAbiding. Can you assure me that it will work? What makes me want something more definitive and structured so that I can see results and measure life on some self-imposed graph of success? Again, I am laughing out loud. LOL. See, I am. Really.

How must I abide to enjoy this journey called life? How must I abide to walk in peace even in the midst of the storm? How should I abide when life comes with fears and struggles and trials when you least expect it?

The voice of simplicity again rises up within me, not a voice of compulsion or declaration but a voice of stillness and serenity. Holy Spirit says to me “Abide”.

I have preached this as concept. I have ministered this prophetically, preaching it out and declaring it. But, can I now say that I am walking it? I admit not even knowing what I was preaching in times past. I am now abiding day by day. There is joy in trust, in relationship with Jesus, peace and intense love – I abide in this reality. And when this reality is forced to hide behind days filled with insecurity and rejection I run back to that revelation of abiding, Christ in me. He walks with me each moment of my life, never leaving or forsaking me. I am going back to the basics everyone. More in the days ahead on this journey. Perhaps it is best that I stir up more questions in you than answers right now. That is what the prophetic does best. Leading you into questions so that you draw close into Christ and not my words. I point the way to Jesus. That’s all for today.

Creative Expression – He Is Enough

Note to Self: You are EnoughThis is a journey. The dream in the previous blog will help you understand what I am writing here in this blog. When God decides to get my attention, He gives me a dream. Why? Is it because that is the way He usually talks to me? No, I rarely dream, so when I do dream, they are detailed and accurate. I pay attention to my dreams.

My dreams answer questions, those questions that are moving like a deep current under the surface of my life. Those questions that I can’t even articulate but I know that they are stirring within me and need to be answered. At those times, I am looking at God. He is looking at me. I have no words but He hears the cry of my heart. The yearning that says “Jesus I don’t understand.” The silence that says, “I don’t know what to do. What do I do?” The tears that say, “You are there, aren’t You?”

Back to the dream – I stand and look back into the house. There they are; all the people who hurried back in, sitting with their groups. Here I am, standing on the outside. I turn and look in the other direction for that is what God is clearly saying to me. The path is not exactly clear but He knows the way. I seem to know that to get through this narrow door (Read this blog please) I will have to lighten my load, getting rid of excessive weight that holds me down and ties me to the past. I wholeheartedly agree it is time. Now is the time.

What weighs me down? Past hurts, wounds losses, rejections, insecurities, and fears. Does that cover it? Yes, I think it does. This time it is real and it is essential for the journey ahead. There is no way to get around it. As a Christian, it is time to stop playing games and get real, at least for me. That means a journey of honesty and confrontation. Enjoy this journey of honesty with me. I can lay it all down so that I am freer and freer and you can walk this out too.

Walking one step away from the house, I hear the Spirit of the Lord say this to me, “You, Debra, are a a woman with a strong sense of justice.” These words shot through my heart awakening me to their truth. Just a few words in one sentence confronted a big reality in my life and how I perceive things. This strong sense of justice wanted to run back into that house and begin to rail at all those people with their pride, their arrogance, the presumed condescension, and their obvious rejection of me. I wanted vindication and a sense that a wrong could be made right and they would see that I was somebody. But, that strong sense of justice was one thing that had to go to lighten my load in this journey.

You see, this strong sense of justice to make people see that they have hurt me was unintentionally binding me to the past and this deep need for closure. Unfortunately, life does not always bring closure. Our need to be righted when wronged or our feeling of entitlement for wrongs done to us does not always come but there is a better way. Justice for all the wrongs done to us is settled on the cross. It is finished. I see that all that I have held onto in my life has been seen by Jesus – my hurts, my sorrows, my pain. He has healed them in His life, for me. He died so that I have life in Christ. If I do not see that the life I live, I live in Christ, then I will continue to seek vindication for wrongs done to my life. This sense of justice formed my life and kept me looking to the past. Now I see, I will lay some things down and pick them up no more. It is finished.

creativityLeaders whose words of condescension cut me like a knife. I stand and say, “It is finished. I forgive.” Many who looked past me or around me, believing that I just did not have the ‘goods’, while I was willing in my heart to give all I could to bring them to the glorious reality of Christ Jesus, I stand and say, “It is finished. I forgive.” There are so many more situations and people who I can talk about today but I believe I get it right now and I hope you do too. To walk away into a broad place, a new vista in Christ, I lighten my load of what I have carried for so long. The case that I have raised against them has been closed this day and I do not seek vindication of retribution of any kind from any man. It is a great feeling within me. Honesty is wonderful and when you have nothing to prove, you have nothing to lose.

This is a spiritual journey for me, written not in analytical form, but in a creative supernatural way. Through dreams, visions, and revelation from the Word in the Spirit, I write this blog for this is my life. I see that now. See this in the Spirit and hear by the Spirit what I am saying here. This is the beginning of a new path in Christ, one that I have waited for these past years. Religion died in me so that intimacy in Christ and relationship with Him lives in me. Enjoy this journey with me. Walking away from the house seems a bit easier now after this blog.

What about you? I know it may be hard to share in-depth things right here, right now but I would like to hear from you. Thank you for any encouragement you may give to me, but I would also like to hear your heart.