Monday, February 25, 2013

Love your enemies. Pray for them. Seriously.

Our sermon at church this past Sunday was good, real good.

I really encourage everyone to listen to it. Especially if you're trying to figure out what I mean by a lot of the terms I use and where I'm getting it from.

Basically, we're talking about Anabaptism in a refreshing way and I feel right at home and want to jump up and down and scream FINALLY, YES this is the Church I always dreamed of, but never heard about. I realize that I'm not the only one in history who has rejected the major political 'accomplishments' (UGH) of the 'Church' at large (which include but are not limited to conquering, killing and exploiting in the name of Jesus..not my Jesus, thank you very much).

You can find links to the sermons and more information here. The specific sermon I'm writing about now is the second sermon in the Kindred series. I'll post a direct link once it's up.

During this sermon, Greg (our speaking pastor) mentioned a really nasty cycle of destruction he got into with some other respectable Christ followers, and how through this encounter he felt God telling him to love those who were, really nastily, attacking him.

Love your enemies. Pray for them. Seriously.

As he was telling his story, and how it's transformed him to be praying for his 'enemy', something clicked for me.

You see, simultaneously Gregs sermon this day was also about how Jesus came to free us from the bondage of the Law (the Old Testament). He was talking about how the Old Testament says that you pay an eye for an eye when someone wrongs you, but that Christ tells us to turn the other cheek.

Then I started thinking.

Its widely said and accepted in Christianity that God loves everyone equally, and that nothing you DO can cause him to love you more or less. It's also widely accepted that Gods grace is open and available to everyone, all that accept it, if they only DO accept it, and that we know this both because of and through Jesus Christ.

If you accept this, it means you choose to love God and follow Him, and in doing so you will slowly be molded to look like him by bearing the fruit of His work  (Jesus is a part of God).

So if Jesus came to free us from the law of "an eye for an eye", but we are only free if we accept this, and the only way we can know we have accepted this is if we look like Jesus...we gotta try to look like Jesus.

And what about those who don't accept it?

Well, they aren't free from the law. Not because God doesn't want them to be, but because they haven't chosen to be.

So then I got this image.

What if you're a christian and your enemy is not. Now imagine your enemy is brutally torturing you and killing you and your family and the ones you love right in front of you. Jesus says you are called to pray for them, to turn the other cheek.

But this won't be for our own salvation. We're already saved.

Maybe it's for their salvation.

Maybe, since they are still 'under the law' because they haven't accepted the atonement of the law (Christ), and haven't chosen to be free of the one who upholds the law (Satan), they have the consequence of the full-weight of the law coming for them. An eye for an eye, or a daughter for a daughter a torture for  torture.

But the law can only be pressed against them if the persecuter wants to press charges.

You, the one being tortured, are the persecutor.

What if instead of saying "YEAH, Kill em, make them suffer just as I suffered! WORSE!

Your prayers set them free?

That's evangelism. That's saving someone. 

 I mean, really.

Now, flash to Calvary. 

What did Jesus do?


He prayed that those who were persecuting him would be forgiven, not that he would be avenged.

So. . .

Yes, he set us free.

"Those whom the Son sets free are truly Free!"

And we, as Christians, have the ability to set the rest of the world free.

If only we would believe.

Love your enemies. Pray for them. Seriously.

The Ideal Ministry By Rebecca Cannon

 As we've recently decided to settle in St. Paul and table over-seas living, this is a good affirmation and reminder of why it's OK.

Bloom Where You're Planted


well O.K., since about last Thanksgiving, Tyler and I have begun to discuss a topic that was huge for us before we got married.

No, not sex or how many kids we want to have, or our career dreams (although I guess we did talk about those things too).


I mean, it's not to be that UN-expected. Really, come on. 

We met on a missions trip.

It happened like this;

Before we got married we were set on living simply, as both,an expression of our faith, and also as a pursuit for deepening our faith. To us, this means living counter culturally. What does counter-culturally living look like? Good question. I think it means something a little different for everyone. To us, it means not putting our value in our salary, in our appearance, in our accomplishments or in our security. It means fighting hard against the culture at large that spews out lies of bigger, better, more means happier and loved. It means getting our value from God, and having our security in Him. It means having open hands when it comes to things, knowing that all things come from God and if we got it once, God will surely provide for us again, and again, and again. (Matthew 6:26). It means loving every human alive regardless of their past, their present, their nationality, their color, their language, their age, their sexual orientation, their religion...basically it means if alive ==>love it more than anything not alive. Love it more than yourself. That extends beyond people. It means loving Gods creation (nature) and guarding it as if it is a living treasure to be nurtured and cared for (it is).

In short, it means intentionally following hard after Jesus.

OK practicalities, in a nutshell this means:

  1. No. 1 following and striving to live like Jesus (1 John 2:6 (thank you Derek Porter for sharing this verse today) 
  2. Using our gifts talents and education to further the Kingdom (especially to serve those who are less privileged, marginalized and/or forgotten) 
  3. Live in a way that least negatively impacts others and creation 
  4. Live in community with others who share this view and mission
  5. Share this with our children, so faith in God and Christ is alive and experienced, not something talked about on Sundays. 

Let me tell you though, as hard as it is to describe and put in to words, it's even harder to DO it.

For Tyler and I, we thought it would be easier to do this if we just escaped the modern world of the US of A and all we despise about it. We thought hey, lets go love the orphans in Africa, the widows in South America, the abandoned in Asia, the cold and hungry in Europe. As for Australia and Antarctica, well...who's got problems in Australia and who lives in Antarctica? I'm kidding, everywhere there is people there is surely a mess. And those in Australia and Antarctica are surely suffering just as those in other places.

But the point is, it seemed really way easier to leave the comfort of our culture and our home, to 'serve those in need' elsewhere, than to sit calmly where God planted us, fight against the machine from the inside out, and extend a hand here.

But, over the past 6 months as we have pursued going abroad, we have felt a push to do just that.

It seemed like the more we pushed to 'go abroad', the more we realized that God has opportunity here for us to do exactly what we would be pursuing abroad. After a while actually, it felt like we would give up real opportunities to actually do all of the above, just for the sake of geography.

It came down to this question:

Why give up a dream and opportunity, to pursue it elsewhere, when you already have it?

We couldn't answer that one.

So, for now,

we're staying.

It was a long journey, but we realized that no matter where we are, there we are. 

So, if we want to live a certain way or do certain work, we need to just do it. As a wise woman and dear friend said to me in Guatemala once,

Bloom where you're planted.

So there you have it, Tyler and I are stetting out to live missionally -I prefer intentionally- right here where we're planted - in St. Paul, MN.

And if that changes in the future and we feel called to go abroad - bring it on.

For now, we're rootin' on down. 

Lord, you planted us here. Please help us bloom.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Parents can't save their children.

Wow. Just, wow.

So glad I saw this early. I'll need to watch it every day for the rest of my life for it to really sink in. Seriously, I'll be lucky if I still remember at 6pm that I watched this at 3pm.!/swx/pp/media_archives/170524/episode/36932

Thank you Paul Tripp.

To Christians Who Stand By Israel

To Christians who stand by Israel;

It is with great sadness that I write this. As I send this, 1.7 million people who are completely cornered with nowhere to run are being brutally attacked, bombed and killed. Journalists, women and children are the primary victims. While the US and Israeli government is trying to say that no civilians are dying and no journalists are being hurt, reputable journalists are sending in footage of women, children, journalists and civilians who are being killed and injured with weapons of terror. Bombs, and chemicals that literally burn the skin off of the people so they are completely unidentifiable. The journalist buildings are being attacked first so that the truth can not be revealed. Truly, the next 24 hours is going to be an important next 24 hours - most likely much longer than that. This is only just beginning. This is happening at this very moment. I urge you to consider if you would truly stand by a country who would act so terribly on a people who have no defense and no where to run. How can you stand by such acts of injustice without question?

I know this is hard to believe, but please watch the following footage, if its too hard to watch please just listen to the whole thing. The first link is the entire story, its pretty long. If you'd like to just skip to the second link, it's shorter. You can start there if you wish.

I want you to know that no matter where you choose to stand, I love you. But I cannot believe that Jesus who died on the cross would condone any act of terror on any peoples. He died to save you and me just as much as he died to save the people in Gaza and Palestine. The Israeli people are abusing the power and name granted to them by God, and I cannot believe that God would wish that his people would kill his children for any reason. I do not believe that Jesus would wish his followers to support the terrible acts the Israeli government is doing 'in His name', when he himself died for their salvation. Just because something is done by people chosen by God, and just because people do something in the name of God, does not mean Gods will is being done. As people, we are corrupt. We are fallen. We do things in our own will and use Gods name as a means to justify it. When we do this, god mourns. While I don't urge you to support the acts the Israeli and US governments are committing, I do urge you to love the Israeli people, and out of that love try to show them the greatness of their mistakes. But I struggle to understand how anyone could stand by them blindly and allow them to do things Christ so SO ardently taught against. He died to save us from things like this. I truly believe that if Christ were here on this very day as he was before he was brutally killed on the cross, that he would be standing with the Palestinians, showing the true face of God, while also teaching the Israelite (who I liken to the pharisees) the wrongness of their ways.

Christ Lover.
Nov. 19th, 2012

Friday, February 1, 2013

Agape Love

Perhaps you've heard of Agape love. Perfect love.

Love for loves sake, self-sacrificing unconditional perfect love.

"The tradition of agape, or unconditional love, is not exclusive to any one religion. Actually, it is a major underlying principle found in religions worldwide. The concept of altruistic love is one that challenges the spiritual person to "love your enemies," or to "love without thought of return." It is a love that flows out to others in the form of compassion, kindness, tenderness, and charitable giving." Sir John Templeton

Agape love comes from God. It is Gods nature (God is perfect Love and Agape love is the only true perfect love). As humans, we cannot be Agape love. We cannot generate Agape love ourselves because we are not Agape love. We are not God. We are human. We can generate only human love, and as humans we are conditional. We are constricted by time, a body, and this planet. Thus, we are constricted to many needs and are not capable of overcoming those on our own. Its not in our nature.

But God is unconditional. His nature is to be everywhere and in everything, and from him in him and through him all things have come to be. He is by definition, perfect Love, and so Agape love (perfect love) is by definition, God.

And God extends it to us.

And so, it is, through Gods grace, that we are able to participate in Agape love  - not only by receiving Agape love from God whenever we choose to, but also by allowing Agape love to flow through us.

Emptying your heart and your thoughts of anything that could inhibit Agape love from being poured into you and flowing out of you, brings you closer to God.

The ancients were right when they taught to overcome thoughts in order to reach eternal bliss. It is only when you are empty that Agape love can fill you. And so, yes, it does bring you closer to God to be empty of thoughts that conflict with Agape love, and to open your heart to be filled with God.

I hope I try to do it every day.

The bride and The Christ


My husband and I are taking a class at our church, Woodland Hills, called Discover the Kingdom (DK). We are only 2 weeks in and I can tell we are going to really be learning a lot in it. It's inspiring me to come back here to write a bit.

The past week was on Christ and the metaphors he used surrounding Jewish marriage during his 3 year ministry. I've heard the bride church metaphor before, but this really shed some amazing light for me.

Context is everything. It turns out, in a first century context, marriage was much different than modern day. Then it went something like - an engagement, a betrothal and then a marriage.

So whats a betrothal? A betrothal came immediately after an engagement. It was a period about one year long, when the husband-to-be would go back to his land and build the house for him and his new bride. The bride, would be home gathering cloth to make her wedding dress and learning necessary skills to being a housewife, as well as saying goodbyes to her family if she was moving to a new land.

Then, one day, the husbands father would decide it was time and would go to his son and tell his son that today is his wedding day, and they would leave. The bride would have no warning except for the arrival of her husband to be.

Oh yes, and once engaged, you had to legally divorce someone to be UN-betrothed. Although you had not yet been officially married, and the marriage had not yet been consummated, to break of a betrothal, you had to legally divorce your fiance.

Now, Christ used bride language throughout his whole ministry. Indeed, right before he was crucified he told his disciples that he was going away to prepare a place for them in his fathers house. He also talked about his ministry years as the celebration of engagement, stating that you do not fast when the bridegroom is with you, suggesting that he is the bridegroom, and there is something to be celebrated before he goes away to prepare a place.

So, what does this mean?

To me, it means that my life is meant to be a dedicated faithful service to my savior, my God, who is working to prepare a place for me and all others who love Him. I see myself now as needing to work to prepare my heart and my life to honor my bridegroom, and to prepare to dwell with him for eternity in His fathers house.

Just like getting married is an adjustment, it will be an adjustment to dwell with Christ in this new house when he returns for us. That is why we need to work diligently now to live in such a way that honors him - so that when we do join him, we can be filled with joy to be with him, not filled with resentment of the change.

How do we do this? How can we work to be the most beautiful bride Christ could imagine when he returns?

Follow his commandments and clothe ourselves in our beautiful dress -

Like the brides of Israel we need to work with our community to make a gown that honors and stuns our bridegroom when he returns. Paul says in revelations that our cloth to make our dress out of is our relationships.

This is the heart of Jesus.

That we can work together to build a fabric of relationships that is fitting for the bride of the universe.

Love thy neighbor.