Sunday, December 17, 2017

Love Your Enemies

Below is one entry in a series I'm writing that goes through each part of Jesus' sermon on the mount (Mathew 5:21-7:27)

This has been the hardest one to write so far because I have been processing feelings about this for a long time. I think I need to be taught how to love my enemies. How do I pray for those who curse me and want good for those who despise me? I would say my life has not had to answer those kinds of questions many times. There have been people who took advantage of my kindness that caused me bitterness but there has been nothing like an enemy I need to forgive. The only enemies I have are monumental and outside of my circle of influence. The enemies I have I do feel genuine hatred for but they are people I don't feel like I can do anything to, to act on my hatred. What I mean by this is, if I consider Donald Trump my enemy then in order to follow this scripture I need to love him and pray for him. Honestly that seems very hard to do, genuinely. I can pray for him as I would pray for someone I pity but I don't know that I can bring myself to want good to come to him. I honestly want him to succumb to his old age and die on national television. I want his adult children to suffer time in prison and have their lives destroyed. I want biblical old-time judgment to rain down on their heads. And here Jesus is telling me to love these people that I loathe.

I think he has a good point.

This kind of hatred was never in my heart before. I always found a way to love those I disliked before. But since 2016 I have been worked up to a frenzied state toward people and an agenda I don't fully understand. My hatred stems from an agenda that for whatever reason appears to be ending all the good that Obama put in place. But here's the rub. Even if he were setting up shop as a dictator and sending out death squads to gather up all the Christians, I would still be obligated to pray for him. God still loved pharoah when he was fighting him and his people in Egypt and he still desires that all his enemies would come back to him. For God, each human relationship is like the one he had with Adam in the Garden of Eden. He's either asking where you are because you've realized your naked and your hiding in a bush or he's walking with you and talking with you one-on-one. Your relationship is that important to him and he will move heaven and earth to bring you back into a right and loving one with him. We are to do this too. In order that God may be glorified and also in order that your heart may be freed from the poison that is the hatred of your enemies.

Hatred is the quickest and easiest reaction we can have toward someone who thwarts our will but it is obviously not the most Godly one. Jesus calls us to love those who we consider enemies and pray for them because they are all God's children. We were once his enemies too. God takes care of each of us each day and he took care of us even when we were his enemies. He sends the rain down upon the just and the unjust. He makes the sun rise on the evil and the good. In this way he is calling us to be like our heavenly father who is perfect. He gives to his enemies and wants their good. Jesus saw God, face to face, as perfectly as God could be seen and what he saw was someone who cares for those who despise him and work against him. In that way he does not let their actions gain control over him. He blesses and wants the best for all so his family can be bigger. I don't want to fall victim to the automatic hatred of those I'm told are my enemies, for many reasons, but the most prominent one is that God loves them. God loves Donald Trump. He cause the sun to shine down on the evil and the good and I should realize that I am no different in the light of God's perfect righteousness. His love for me is what lead me to Jesus and my love for those I perceive as enemies can also lead to their salvation. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week 2 and 3: Romans 11:33-36, Proverbs 3:5-6

Talk about a hectic and difficult two weeks! I did not fast 1 meal, I did not fast 2. I didn't fast at all. We did end up getting a new van, so that was good. In memorizing the last two weeks' verses I learned to focus more on God and see him as the source of everything good in my life and the source of all wisdom. He provides the correct paths to go down in every situation because he knows absolutely everything about us. "Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!" We are told to depend on him for all things down to our daily bread. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths."

Among this and the chaos of the last two weeks I got an book that has inspired and delighted me. It's called "C.S. Lewis Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces" and it is phenomenal. He has given me a picture of God, heaven and the spiritual realm that I have never had before. A picture in which spirit is much more substantial and solid, in fact more solid than the material world. His essays and the chapters on what man is for in "The Spirit of the Disciplines" by Dallas Willard, have lain a foundation in me that was never there before. Because of this and what I see lies ahead of me, I am firmly grasping onto the words of this week's verse "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"

I will go on gladly, experiencing with my senses, while taking refuge in his grace, knowing that he is good!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Week 1: 1-7 - Psalm 139:1-4 Prayer and meditation. Removing Caffiene 4oz a day

This week I removed caffeine from my system over the course of the last 6 days. I went down 4 ounces a day until today where I had just 4 oz. Tomorrow I will have none. It's been kind of rough cutting caffeine and still taking care of kids. They need me to be energetic and awake and all I could think about was sleeping. I did end up going to bed at 9 one night, right after the girls went to sleep, so I could recover from my lack.

The hardest day was Monday because I fasted the entire day and only drank one cup of coffee. Then we went to the prayer and worship night with all three girls, while Kelly spent 2 hours on stage. I was hungry, tired and bedraggled, but loving almost every minute of it.

This is all in preparation for fasting in the future. I want to fast once a month and I'm going to ease my way into it. First only fasting 1 meal, then 2, then 3. Then I'll increase it to 6 and then 9 in the first week of each month. I don't really want to go beyond 3 days of no food. I think that's plenty.

This week I also memorized Psalm 139:1-4. It went quite well. I wrote it out each morning, trying to remember as much as possible each time. Today I ended up just typing it over and over again until I had it committed to memory. Now I can recite it out loud, which I did for Kelly. It's wonderful having the word in your heart. The words can be analyzed and mulled over. For these verses I was able to see how God knows every part of me and all that I do, think or say.

Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue
behold, oh Lord, you know it altogether.

God searches me and knows me down to the deepest part of me, to my soul. He knows where I concentrate and spend my time, and when I stop and leave. He knows every thought I have. He knows where I will go and where I will sleep even when I will die. He knows every way I will go. Finally, He knows every word I will say. He knows everything about me, thoroughly.

I'm excited for the next weeks and for all I learn from the words I memorize. Also, I'm looking forward to other disciplines God puts into my heart. Ways I can implement into my life that will give me a closer and more rich experience of the Trinity and their love for one another.

Father God show me your love and how you love the Son and Holy Spirit as you love yourself. Show me how to love Jesus that same way, that we may be one even as you are one.